Sunday, January 29, 2023

Barbarossa - The Maps

I loaded the two Vassal Modules for the GMT Barbarossa Eastern Front games and within Vassal took an image and then converted to .png using Paint.  Not sure how they will render in Blogger, but they are 121MB and 77MB.  They represent the full scope of what we have available (more or less) space permitting.  Sadly there is no Vassal module that links the whole Eastern Front system.  The compute power alone would be a challenge although it is possibly the only way you could play them given the physical size (I estimate the AGN/AGC maps are 4x4 metres).

Easy to get lost, even with a map!

The AGS map includes the Danube mini map that we are not using.
Our current play are ends at Odessa/Kiev 
which is slightly less than half the above map.
The full expanse would be well over 3 metres.

Don't Mention The War - Part 33 and 34 via Facebook


1943 N/D The Axis Get a Small Break – Initiative Win and the Bad Weather Continues.
Axis 3rd Impulse,Weather roll was a 4+1 (5), the snow clears on the Russian Front (Stalin more than a little disappointed) much to the relief of the Germans, storm in the Arctic and rain in the Temp – fine in the Med. Germany takes a land to fill the holes that the Russian winter attacks have created. Japan’s Comb sees Japan slip 3 x Conv though the China Sea and into the S China Sea in order to ship 3 valuable oil into mainland China and ensure supply to the S China Sea Garrisons. The conv’s are not found by US patrolling ships or Acft. On land, German and Italian units in S France extricate themselves successfully, leaving Lyon as an open city as they withdraw to the Italian Border. Axis forces on the Eastern and Western front move forward and secure their front line, and hope for bad weather – but not snow! The last Italian sub sails to cut of the supply in the W Med and successfully rolls a 1! sinking a British Conv, Corsica is now OOS. Axis fails to roll EOT, rolling a 7 (5 needed), Allies get a bonus impulse, albeit in bad weather.
Allies 3rd Impulse, with bad weather and few options the Russian takes a Land, the US, China and France take Comb actions - it is still fine in the N Monsoon and there are opportunities there for the US. The CW takes a Naval and attempts to port strike the Italian CA Garibaldi in Nice, the Italian rolls another 1 and the British CVPs are sent back to their CVs having failed to locate the port let alone the CA. The CW send out convoys, escorts and Tpts. They search again for the Italian Navy off the Coast of Italy and again fail to find, the dice rewarding the Italians for their failure to clear the sea area and seek safety in their major ports. Japan’s attempt to sneak some oil back to mainland are thwarted as the US now find and sink the 3 x Conv’s in the S China Sea. The US and CW attempt Strat bombing of the Ploiesti Oil Fields, the Austrian Oil and the Ruhr, but Ploiesti is ably defended. The oil from Austria is shut down as are two factories in Essen. Little acty by the US in the West, some readjustment of their line and a US Para Corps is railed to Marseilles, hoping for finer weather in the Med. Russia launches a low odds assault against the city of Chisinau hoping stage an EOT surprise, but on a +4 they roll an average 10 and pay the penalty of the dreaded ‘squiggly’ 14 losing three units v 1 Rumanian INF, all inverted. France advances a unit in Corsica across the straits and capture a hex and port in Sardinia. Chinese Nationalist strike again taking another hex from the Chinese – they are on a roll.
The Allies roll EOT, partisans turn up in France and Finland, none in China much to the relief of the Japanese. Rebase, production and reinforcements for J/F 44. The Communists receive a handy 6 factor Ftr thanks to the Soviet lend lease programme and pilot instructors. In breaking news, Germany cancels all oil and resource deliveries to Italy – Mussolini complains, but Germany’s demands are the greater.
JAN/FEB 1944
Allies 1st Impulse- Allies win the initiative on a 9, the Axis decline a re-roll – quite rightly as the Russian AKA Stalin is overly keen to roll his 40% chance of Snow but is betrayed by the weather Gods, rolling a 10! Blizzard in both the Arctic and Temp, no air Ops, +2 on the next weather roll and advances by 3 – the perfect roll for the Axis – another short/bad weather turn. The CW and France go Naval – little else to do (Snow in the Med) Three fleets head out to the Italian Coast escorting loaded Tpts and Amphs under Allied air cover. The threat is clear, to invade Italy, Sardinia and/or Sicily if the weather clears. Convoys are escorted and the brand-new CV HMS Audacious loaded with Britain’s first 6 factor CVP arrives in the W Med – no searches.
Russia’s chance to exploit the weakened German line is lost with blizzard as there are no worthwhile attacks. There is a general re-organisation of the Russian line and Acft are rebased. The US combined sees TF11 sail into the S China Sea under the cover of 3 x 8 factor Ftrs and US/CW subs are sent out to hunt for the Japanese Conv’s – no finds. The US assault the oil facility at Tarakan capturing it intact and gain a bonus oil. In the West, some readjustment of their front line. Chinese Nationalist, building on there success of capturing Hanoi and clearing adjacent coastal hexes, launch another assault on the 4.1 GAR defending the coast hex. Another successful attack as the Chinese exchange a 1 CAV Div for the 4.1and a half invert – as they say another one bites the dust.
Second Session.
Axis 1st Impulse– Germany and Italy take Land actions, taking advantage of Allied inaction due to the abysmal weather. The Western Front is straightened, and mainland Italy reinforced by railing units South. Japan takes a Naval and sails out the Kido Butai fleet into the China Sea under air cover, and escorts into the Sea of Japan and sends out its subs. Japanese Tpts deliver reinforcements to the Chinese mainland to help shore up its Manchurian garrison. The ever-successful Japanese raider sails into the Bay of Bengal but fails for the first time to NOT find the British Conv. A lone CA Tone hunts for the US convoy in the Marshall’s and is promptly found by the US NAVs reacting to the search and sunk. Axis air is rebased.
Allies 2nd Impulse – Weather roll is a 3+2 (5) the snow is back – Germany groans. Churchill takes control of the weather roll and rolls a perfect snow/snow for Stalin – a little dance from Uncle Joe. The USA takes a Naval and a Land spending 11 O-Points and the CW take a Land. US naval units reinforce the S China Sea and invade and assault Japanese possessions in the NEI and Malaya. US Submarines search and find the Japanese Convs in the Sea of Japan but are also found, 3 Convoys are sunk for the loss of 2 x Subs who fail the X and 2 x Ds – the Balao and Bang are sunk with all crew aboard. In the Bay of Bengal, the US CVs search for the Japanese CX, but fail to find it, worse, the CX finds the British Conv and D’s it and then aborts out of the sea area. Attempted Strat bombing of the Ploiesti oil field is successful as 1 oil facility takes a hit, the Austrian oil is safe as the US bomber is aborted. The night-time bombing by the British of Brussels is effective as the factories production is shut down for the month. Allied units aboard the Tpts and Amphs in the Med remain at Sea hoping for the weather to clear.
In Russia, the numerous ground strikes are below average with only one German Corps inverted and 2 x Divs. Three reasonable attacks are declared using the snow bonus that their WP units receive. Unlike the previous N/D snow turn, no German bombers are cleared through. In the South, NE of the bend in the Dniester River a German double Arm stack is attacked, led by Zhukov with a +8.7 blitz and an average roll of 12, for a 20 - 1/B. NW of Kiev an attack from three Pripet Marsh hexes achieves a +14.5 assault but another sub-par roll (😎 ended with a 22 - 1/2S. The 3rd attack was a speculative +4.8 assault west of Minsk, but an excellent roll produced another 20 - 1/2s. All 3 where half inverts but all were successful in creating holes in the fragile German line.
Axis 2nd Impulse– Germany and Japan take Land actions, and Italy a Naval. Italy unable to challenge the RN off the Coast of Italy sails its SCS one at a time to hunt for Allied shipping in the E Med but fail to find. However, the two CA’s Zara and Trieste that were intercepted off the Coast of Italy were found again – just – and promptly sunk by the 15” guns of 7 BS of the RN. The Italian sub search in the W Med was more successful with a moderate split with 2 x Convs damaged for no Italian loss. Germany takes a land and starts a withdrawal of the Kiev salient, there are just enough units to fill the holes in their line, again just. In the North AGN, withdraws a hex to straighten its line – the first rearward movement for over a year. Germany, with the help of some SS CAV and Bulgarians seal of the CW advance in Bulgaria. Japan’s land sees it adjust its line and rail multiple units to Manchuria and straighten its line, doubling up units where it can. Germany desperate to roll the EOT – 3 needed, fails with a 6 – Allies get a welcomed 3rd impulse.
Allies 3rd Impulse – Churchill again weaves his magic and rolls snow/snow for a grateful Stalin who tears up. Weather roll is a 4+1 (5) – the snow is back – Germany groans. The US and CW both take Comb actions. The Allies invade Sicily, South of the Port of Tampana despite the rain, supported by air and SB. The Italian contests the paradrop and in a bloody air battle that cost both sides acft and pilots manages to slip a bomber through to add 2 points and shift the odds markedly – luck was with the Allies as their roll was a perfect 19 for a -/1 losing neither Paras (they could have lost both) but are fully inverted – Newspapers report that the first allied troops have landed in Sicily, the first Axis country to be invaded, but not the last. In the Pacific, the US assault the oil refinery at Balikpapan, taking it with ease and invade Malaya, landing in an uncontested hex. Aircraft are rebased forward.
A weakened Kiev becomes the focus, of an all-white print non-mechanised assault. This achieves a +9.6 assault. An incredible roll of 20 plus a 1 on the fractional die occurs, stunning all who witness
it. The Ukraine is liberated! A cocky Stalin also declared an attack near Minsk, targeting a triple stack with an inverted v. Bock. Russia had no air available and had expected some German air support for a +5.7 assault. Several other long range bombers were found reducing the odds to +5.1. A poor roll results in a 13 (-/-) leaving Russia relieved and Germany pondering that a bit less air support would have achieved the ~14 (3/1) result that would have killed the newly arrived 2 factor engineer and hurt the Russian northern effort. Churchill counsels against risking such a valuable unit in low odds attacks and Stalin sheepishly concurs. Russia puts the Axis out of its winter misery by rolling a 1 to end the turn, initiative shifts to the +1 Axis. Partisan roll again sees no Chinese Partisans, it must be too cold for them. Partisans in Greece are put down on a roll of 9, as are partisans in Finland. Two French partisans turn up behind Allied lines and one (4.2) in Indochina – obviously the Chinese are not being too kind to the locals. Rebase, production and reinforcement next week.
The Siberian/Manchurian front remains interesting with preparations for war continuing with Russia now railing 2 low value ARM/MECH to counter the Japanese build up. With the reduction in garrison values in M/A, Japan has a unit value of 19.5 and 17 defensive chit value for 36.5. Russia needs 73 to break the garrison and they have 35.5 in units. If the chits max out that gives only 71 and thus unable to declare war. Builds are not within 3 hexes of the border but there is potential to build acft and rebase them forward. At the same time, Japan can continue sending units to the front and can stall for some time, especially if they continue to withdraw from Southern China. Japan has 20 Oil in mainland Japan – enough to wage war – their issue is how much of that do they pour into production, now that the US is cutting off resources and reducing their offshore oil fields (NEI) as they only have two oil facilities in Japan.
In Russia the Ukraine will surrender during the conquest phase as the losses in land and acft units on the Russian front continue to mount. Interestingly, each time that the Russian is just about to collapse the German line the turn has ended and the German has been able to re-establish its line – it is holding but only just. The Luftwaffe has been decimated on the Russian front. Of greater concern for the German, unlike Japan is the targeting of the German oil by the Allies – two Ploiesti oil were lost this turn, and there were several bombing runs on the Austrian Oil.
· ACFT – Aircraft
· LOC – Line of Communications
· NCC - No Cost Combined – no oil used
· TOTT – Top of the table a 23 or more
· AGN/AGS German Army Group North and South

All quiet on the Western Front

The Italian campaign kicks off as allied Parras land in Sicily

British BS sink 2 x Italian CA's

Greece and Bulgaria

The Russian Front

AGS - Kiev falls and the German withdraws under intense pressure,

AGN - 1st movement on this front for over a year

Russia - Sino front the build-up continues..

The Far East - valiant defence by the Japanese as the US dominates the air.

Axis air losses continue to mount.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Don't Mention The War - Part 34

The beautiful blizzard that started 1944 did not last and the Soviets were subsequently blessed with two impulses of snow.  The European defenders of democracy stepped back on all fronts: Lithuania, Ukraine, Balkans and France, as they struggle to build defences to cover Italy.

Germany sends a tank to defend Rome,
after carefully setting out the parameters for its use,
which failed to prohibit providing joy rides around the place.

Imperialist bombing of civilians has intensified and the resultant loss of workers is impacting production.
Further evidence of the Imperialist war crimes
in the mass bombing of civilian targets

In a bitter blow, the extra impulse allowed the Communists to smash into Kiev.  

The Soviets rolled a double ten on the attack dice
allowing their troops to walk on water.

ChatGPT provides the following description of the battle:

The Soviet winter offensive of World War II, also known as the Kiev Strategic Offensive Operation, was a military campaign launched by the Soviet Red Army against the German Wehrmacht and their Axis allies in the Kiev area of the Soviet Union. The offensive began on November 3, 1943 and lasted until December 23, 1943. The main objective of the offensive was to capture the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, which had been occupied by the Germans since 1941.

The Soviet Red Army was commanded by General Nikolai Vatutin, and the German Wehrmacht was commanded by General Walter Model. The Soviet forces consisted of over 1.2 million soldiers, while the German forces numbered around 250,000. The Soviets had a significant advantage in terms of manpower and equipment, and they were able to launch a powerful assault on the German defenses around Kiev.

The offensive began with a massive bombardment of the German positions, followed by a massive infantry attack. The Soviet soldiers were able to break through the German defenses and encircle the German units in Kiev. The Germans were unable to break out of the encirclement, and were forced to surrender on November 6, 1943. The capture of Kiev was a major victory for the Soviet Red Army, and it was a major setback for the German Wehrmacht. The Soviet victory at Kiev was a major turning point in the war on the Eastern Front and had a significant impact on the outcome of World War II.

Alternative history fails to recall the name of the Soviet commander, but noted that Rommel had already vacated the city's environ and headed west.  The attack occurred in February 1944, but the numbers of troops engaged is accurate.  If the Europeans fail to win the initiative next turn, then it may well be a significant impact on the outcome of the game.

Elsewhere the Yankee Imperialists and their Limey Lackies are advancing on all fronts against Japan while goading the Communists to also attack (currently in abeyance due to a peace treaty).

Japan prepares it next generation of fighter aircraft
to take on the Imperialists.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Wagons Ho!

Finally finished this.  The ultimate challenge, which I put off for a good month, was creating the canvas cover.

PLW39 Covered Wagon & Ox Team

Same, but without the flash

The cover is created from tissue paper.

Fiddly, but seems to have worked a treat.

Bit of a before photo.

Before photo with packaging.
It was purchased in 1992 from Brookhurst Hobbies 
when I was in California on holidays.

Completed but not covered.

I took these photos as I was concerned I would mess up.
Good thing I did as I discovered I hadn't complete the driver's moustache!

The title of this post did say wagons, plural, implying more than one and so here we have three:

Barbarossa - Completion of seventh turn and some of the eighth turn

 This game is challenging in so many ways, not least of which is trying to take photos.

Army Group North getting held up by the defenders of Riga.
Troops by passing are having to watch their supplies

AGC about to capture Minsk.
Another front that is starting to experience supply issues.
Note air assets allocated to the attacks.

AGS closing in on Lvov,
while still pushing east towards Kiev.

Some mopping up in Romania
where the focus is on reclaiming Bessarabia.

Turn Eight (6 to 7 July 1941)

The battle for Riga continues
The Soviets had some luck in being able to maintain supply
and to retreat their forces into the city centre.

With Minsk now captured, AGN presses east,
hopeful that its supply lines can follow.

AGS has a deadly grip on Lvov, but is facing a stiffened resistance as it enters Ukraine.
However it has broken through in the centre to link up with Romania

German and Romanian forces continue to their advance into Bessarabia

Monday, January 23, 2023

Don't Mention The War - Part 33

In "competitive" games I find there are two kinds of luck.  You are lucky if you get a good roll and you can be lucky if your opponent has a bad roll.  The last session of WiF delivered both kinds of luck to the floundering, struggling, Europeans.

As 1943 came to a close the weather remained bleak with storms on the Eastern front and rain elsewhere.  Undeterred the Soviets attacked Romania and threw the greatly feared squiggly fourteen, the worst out come for an attacker on the CRT.  They took three losses in their attack on Chisisnau.  The European defenders took one, but Romanian reinforcements were at hand to fill the gap.

Not looking too keen at being referred to as "gap fillers"

The Imperialists seized the initiative going into 1944 only to have Mother Nature unleash a blizzard across Europe.  

German solidiers practising the very unpopular
tannenbaum camoulfage technique

If only the bad weather can be maintained for the final ten turns of the game, the Imperialists and their Communist allies will be defeated.


Down to the basics: infantry and fighter planes.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Ancient Paper Buildings Almost Ruined

A project I am working on regarding a campaign for Basic Impetus requires a town (which represents Difficult Terrain and functions identical to a Wood as far as I can tell).  But I didn't have any suitable buildings.  I decided to go for immediacy and cheapness especially after I found two suitable buildings on 

One was well within my skill set, the temple was a bit more challenging (I ended up reinforcing or rather adding as formers, match sticks to the steps).  Lots of fun and perfect for the job.  But what if they get wet?  I have a special fixative, but on reading the label and finding it was gloss I decided just to use my regular matt varnish.

Now, my colour printing was already a bit subtle to begin with, but the varnish has or could have if I wasn't such a light touch, faded things even more.  Ruined!  Well, not quiet, just baked under the unrelenting rays of the Mediterranean sun.

Given the homemade low quality nature of most of my terrain these will do nicely.  Of course, having made these two building I find a much more imposing Ancient Greek building on that site, but I think my skills have been tested enough for now.

A town only appears in Basic Impetus on a roll of a double six and even then there are options, so hopefully two buildings will be enough.

Final comment.  I was thinking/planning to make bases for them, but now think this is not necessary.  They are both weighted with wooden internal bases to stop them blowing away due to a slight breeze or a sneeze.

Friday, January 20, 2023

News Articles re Board Games

This appeared in my Crikey news feed today.  The Sydney Morning Herald article it refers to can be found here if you want the full story and its attempt at humour:  

In turn it refers to a Washington Post article which is more informative and less an attempt at comedy:

The SMH piece uses the word "nerd" three times to refer to board gamers.  I find this problematic as the word has multiple meanings including:  

  • a person who is extremely enthusiastic and knowledgeable about a particular subject, especially one of specialist or niche interest.
  • an unstylish, unattractive, or socially inept person.

Maybe that second meaning should include "overly sensitive and lacking in appreciation of effort that goes into writing humorous newspaper columns"."

Anyway, here's the Crikey article in full.  

The rising popularity of board games in adulthood is a scourge we must stamp out, SMH’s Kishor Napier-Raman says, or at least start leaving him out of. Board game nights are nearly always suggested by “The Guy Who is Good at Board Games”, he writes for the paper, who spends a painstaking hour explaining the complex and convoluted rules of questionable pursuits such as “slaying a mythical beast, making sushi, or cosplaying as colonisers in a foreign land”. But it’s never enough of an explanation, and befuddling stretches of time are spent with chipper fellow players repeatedly assuring you “the game gets better” as you quickly sober up amid your intense concentration. Sometimes it does get better, sometimes it doesn’t — the question, he asks, is why do we put ourselves through it? “Must social gatherings be organised around activities designed to distract wayward children?” he asks.

It might seem like a petty gripe, but Napier-Raman continues that the whole idea of a board game night is at odds with the precious spontaneity of a social gathering that we went without for so long during the pandemic’s lockdowns and restrictions. Who brings a rule book to a group hang, he wonders, declaring it a sort of “hyper-capitalist puritan logic” that we should engage in competitive tasks during our leisure time after a long week spent grinding in our 9 to 5. Plus, by the time you’ve got a tentative handle on the self-contradictory parameters of the game, an elated The Guy Who is Good at Board Games has already had a thumping victory, everyone else is feeling confusingly dejected, and the wine supply is suddenly frighteningly low. “There is no shame in resisting this,” the journalist assures us. “No matter how many nerds accuse you of hating ‘fun’.”

Hoping you stand proud and tall on the hill you choose to die on too — and have a restful weekend.

Marian Roman versus Classical Indian

Wednesday night at the club my Romans faced Mark Wood's Indians.

The Indians sit on a hill surveying the Romans before them.

The Romans advance

The Indian archers get in a lucky hit on one unit of Romans as they grind forward

The Roman white shields take another hit and wisely fall out of line to reorganise.
Elsewhere Roman Auxlia let fly with their javelins.

It's getting serious.
(Note: Beautifully painted Indian army)

The fighting has commenced in earnest.
There were quiet a few perverse outcomes (as in lottsa dice not producing any hits)
While the struggle for the hill dominates
the battle will be decided on the wings
where the key Indian troops are located.

The Romans win the hill and their right flank,
but their left is in trouble

A pause as both sides try to reorganise ready for the final push

Victory to the Romans
(The Indians were removed before I had a chance to take the final photo.)