Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Great War 1918 - Chain of Command Battle - 28mm

This is not so much a battle report but a brief overview of a game I had at the weekend using the WW2 Chain of Command rules produced by Too Fat Lardies.  The interesting thing here was using the rules for WW1 and seeing how they played for that period.



I have only played a few games of Chain of Command, almost all of these were solo.  I have never really been a fan of skirmish games, but the great things I heard about this rule set made me curious to try to them.  I must say that I have not been disappointed.  

I played several games solo last week just to remind myself of the rules.  Even playing solo, it really does give a great game. Throwing the command dice gives a whole range of decisions to make every game turn.  Nothing is guaranteed. Friction abounds and plans become unstuck. Unit's won't move and the enemy may yet interrupt your turn if they have built up enough Chain of Command points to seize the initiative.  Great fun!



I played the British this time and set up on the long right side of the 8ft x4 ft board.  Ian played the Germans and was on the long left side.

The terrain had plentiful areas of cover. Wooded copses and hedgerows covered the board as well as some fields and stone enclosures.  A river meandered across the table with a bridge allowing a road to cross it...there were some sheep nearby too!



I really wanted to get all of my recently painted troops on the board.  I had slowly built up the troop types and weaponry as I play tested until I felt happy using snipers, tanks, anti-tank guns and a flamethrower.  Points and support lists were not even considered. This was a game with lots of interest added!  I wanted it all on the table!


Forces:

British:  
1 x Rifle Section
1 x Bomber Section
1 x LMG Section (2 x Lewis guns)
1 x Rifle Grenade Section
1 x Vickers MMG

Reinforcements:
1 x MkIV male Tank
1 x Whippet Tank


Forces:

German:
3 x Rifle Sections
1 x LMG Section
1 x Maxim 08/15 MMG
1 x Guard Pioneer Flamethrower
1 x Sniper
1 x Granatenwerfer
1 x 3.7cm Anti-Tank Gun
1 x Mauser Gerwehr-T Anti Tank Rifle


Scenario Overview:

It's August 1918 the German front lines have broken around Amiens and the Germans are in retreat.

The Allies need to maintain the pressure and take key geographic points to enable the advance to continue.

The 5th Royal Berkshire Regiment have been tasked to despatch a platoon to hold a key bridge.  1 Platoon must take and hold the bridge to allow tanks at a future time.  1 Platoon must hold the bridge until nightfall when an Australian unit will relieve them.

The Germans have realised the importance of the bridge almost too late and have hastily sent a platoon of 246th Reserve Regiment to prepare its defence.  The first section of barbed wire has been set up as the first British Troops come into view.



Objectives:

British must take and hold the bridge at nightfall (last turn) or break the enemy.

Germans must keep the bridge at the last turn of the game or break the enemy.

If neither side hold the bridge by nightfall (the last turn) or it is still contested and possession is in doubt then the side with the highest force morale will win.


Terrain:

All woods provide cover. Hedges provide light cover. Stone walls are minor obstacles but hard cover.

River can be forded by infantry, treating it as a medium obstacle.

Tanks cannot cross the river.

Barbed wire can be cut by troops using the rules in the book.



Special Rules:

Germans use 'Handgranaten!' special rule which allows the grenadiers in a section to unleash a storm of grenades prior to making a close assault.

Ambush Troops:  Sniper and Anti Tank rifle are permitted to use Jump off Points to perform ambushes.

The British MkIV tank arrives on Turn 2.

The British Whippet can arrive from Turn 4 on an escalating dice throw


Most of the rules were modified with the amendments in the Too Fat Lardies Christmas Special 2014 which has a brilliant piece on converting the main Chain of Command rules for WW1.  There is an excellent section on tactics in the late war period in the 'Mud and Blood' rules by the Lardies.  Additional supplements for WW1 small scale actions have also been produced by them.


There are some great little tweaks to the main rules which make it more suitable for WW1.  One example being that by throwing 4 x 5's on the Command Roll D6 dice, a random gas shell will land on the battlefield affecting the whole area for a complete turn and causing effects on shooting and movement due to poor visibility.


The game started out well enough for both sides early on.  We were both keen to deploy most of our forces and put our focus on this rather than move up too rapidly.  

Ian placed his sniper in the trees to his right side near his deployment zone.  There are no silly short distances in this game.  Most weapons will fire off the board and a long way on from there too!  The full size of the board probably only reflects about 400 yards maximum.  So a well placed sniper can cover a lot of the field.


This is where I started making mistakes.  I placed two sections including my very strong Lewis gun section on' Overwatch' in woods to try to get his sniper.  Unfortunately this effectively hobbled my army as my advance slowed to nothing.  Ian in the meantime kept pushing his troops forward to try to get around a flank.


Above we see nasty lane where a vicious close quarter battle wiped out my bomber section and the Junior leader.  I was suddenly 4 x Force Morale points down.  The Lewis gun team have been redeployed too late to stop the German team from then attacking my Rifle Grenadiers in the flank.  However we can see their shock points adding up and their numbers thinning out.


Ian organised his men well and took up good fire positions and ensured he outflanked any determined moves on my part.


I can honestly say that on no part of the battlefield did I gain the upper hand.  Instead my mistakes were punished badly and Ian's good plans meant that he gained his objective of the bridge very effectively and with little loss.


The flamethrower didn't play a big part in this particular game.


I did manage to get my MkIV tank on to the board but Ian's anti-tank gun made short work of it, and knocked it out with his first shot on target!



In the end my Force Morale Points crumbled away to nothing while Ian still had 10 Force Morale points remaining.  This gave Ian a decisive and well deserved win.

Despite my massive defeat, I thought the game was excellent.  Interesting my two previous solo playtests saw the Germans heavily defeated instead so I cannot blame it on the scenario!

My plan now is to use the rules for other skirmish games including WW2. I am still continuing to slowly build my WW1 units and now have extra incentive after playing this.  With these superb Great War Miniatures troops inspiration comes very easily!


Friday, 18 June 2021

Late Romans - 28mm - Gripping Beast

So, how late are these Late Romans?  About 18 months actually!  I painted these up amongst some other Late Roman's and completely forgot to post the photos up.

The troops are from the plastic boxed set by Gripping Beast.  I have long had a liking for the striking colours of the Late Romans. What makes them extra interesting is that the shield designs and units were recorded in the Notitia Dignitatum book.

My Late Roman army is so far very small but is approaching playable status, slowly but surely.

I seem to recall that the shield transfers are by Little Big Man Studios.








 This might appear to be a departure from my recent projects, but another Zulu regiment has been completed.  I'm just not sure what to do next.  I have several things built ready to continue with but I just need the inspiration to get on with things.  

Other hobbies and the fine weather have distracted me of late.  I have also been purchasing books on the 8th Army in WW2 and reading some classic desert war literature including Alan Moorehead's very interesting account of the campaign.  It could yet be tanks on the painting table...we shall see!


Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Anglo-Zulu War - Rorke's Drift - 28mm

 


The last few weeks have seen my first proper foray into making and painting buildings.  This is not something that I normally do.  I find buildings to be a complicated beast on the wargaming table unless it's a skirmish game. A real scale conundrum.  Anything approaching scale size for a figure is probably going to be the same length as a battalion, so the small barn becomes about 300 yards long on the board!


However, this is Rorke's Drift and it just has to be made to work!  I was inspired by the game scenario in the Zulu War supplement produced by Warlord Games.  To be honest I think the scenarios in this particular book are brilliant. A wide variety of methods of play and they all look great fun.



I really liked the look of the Rorke's Drift battle set that Warlord Games brought out a number of years ago.  Unfortunately I was a bit slow and by the time I decided to buy one, they had become almost unobtainable.  After an extensive search I found a set advertised by a company. After ordering it they contacted me to confess that it was an error but they had the same parts to put a near complete set together but not 'in the box'.  I took up the offer.


Most of the items are here, though I had to buy the barricades and walls from Warlord Games recently.  Of course, Warlord Games are back in full production of the battle sets again now!


I decided to use Perry's British Infantry as they are such superb figures.  I just really like their figures...a lot!


I also like all of the biscuit box barricades made by Warlord Games and they were not too hard to do once I decided on methods. I did consider whether to use washes or dry brushing and ended up doing both.


Photo above by war correspondent Norris 'Noggs' Newman (or maybe not!)




The Zulus I have so far are mix of the Warlord Games figures and Perry's. I'm a long way off from having thousands of them yet!





The dreaded mealie bags - Oh my goodness, the painting pain that these were!


Before I get onto the buildings, I should mention the Mealie bags, again made by Warlord Games.  These are really nice and look right.  I have seen some sets by another company where the bags have been stacked on top of each other in the fashion that a child might stack 4 bricks and then stack 4 next to them and so on, with no overlap.  I suspect the Zulu's would have found such a method of stacking literally child's play to knock over.  

So top marks to Warlord Games on getting a great 'hurried' but stacked 'under the eyes of a Royal Engineer Officer' look about them. The texturing is nice too. 

I was not sure whether to paint the red and blue lines on them. I did wonder if the lines were authentic and on Googling the question, I found the topic had been asked some years ago on the TMP page.  Unfortunately the poster had been utterly ridiculed (the fate of many decent sorts asking help I note, on that very odd website).

I thought his question valid, as the lines really do say 'Mealie bag' and not sandbag. It's that little attention to detail that makes a difference.  It's why we paint the right lace, collars and cuffs on our Napoleonics or Seven Years War figures. 

Anyway, a little search found this portrait of Rorke's Drift by Lady Butler and the detail is below. Perfect!


The frustrating bit...  Having decided to put the lines on, I settled on Carmine Red and a Foundry French Blue 'C'.  The lines took ages.  Ages and ages.  

When I had just two more barricade sections left, my mind wandered and I thought to myself. 'I wonder if there is a market if I designed some simple way of putting lines on models?.....and then it hit me...a pen!  A red pen and a blue pen... so simple!. Biros would be perfect!  And so they were!  A 4 hour job of one section became about 10 minutes.

 It was miraculous...at least until I put the spray varnish on. Then the colours bled into the mealie bags...and so I had to start again...with paint and thin brush again.

Ah well...It's done now!




I have only ever made one small MDF building before so this was really interesting to make.  The buildings are from '4Ground' and sold in the Warlord Games sets.  The buildings go together really well and I quite enjoyed making them.  My only issue with MDF is that they look a bit flat. I read of a technique using 'Degu Dust' from pet supplies shops to texture MDF buildings to put some life into them.  As ambitious as it was, this is what I did.

The thatching is teddy bear fur which I coated in PVA glue and water prior to painting. There were some long off-cuts which gave me immense fun pretending to female friends that I had grown a 'ginger mullet' over lockdown by sticking one end in the back of my collar....



Above is one of the nicest things that I have painted up! It is a resin model of a wagon covered in mealie bags. Ammunition boxes and biscuit boxes are on there too as part of the casting. Even one of the mealie bags has split open inside and spilt the grain. It is a wonderful model and made by Warlord Games. Again top marks to them, it really is an absolute beauty.


Some more shots of the buildings follows.  With the Degu Dust it was necessary to apply it over PVA glue and then I had to use 3 thick coats of varnish spray to help it to stick without rubbing off. I store it in it's own boxes and I won't be playing Rorke's Drift too frequently, so I hope it lasts.








One downside to these battle sets becomes apparent when finally putting it all together.  It is large.  I think I need a bigger table and this one is 8 feet by 4 feet!  I'm really not sure how I'm going to be able to play with it on the field!





There is one major absence (besides enough troops and table space!).  And that is the mealie bag redoubt.  I note that Warlord Games no longer sell it separately and only put it in their boxed battle sets.  I will write to them to ask if they can sell one separately (which would be jolly nice of them) or I shall have to keep checking Ebay or make my own.  The latter will be a joy of course...as this will mean not only having the pleasure of painting more lines on Mealie Bags but making them too!

Maybe I should have opted to create Isandlwana!


Update 26 May 21 - I emailed Warlord Games last night to ask if I could buy the Mealie Bag Redoubt set  from them even though it is a battle set only item, and they have very kindly agreed! I'm delighted - Thank you very much Warlord Games!