Monday, 30 May 2011

Project Update: Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan

The idea for this project came from seeing the Mongrel Miniatures Soviet and Mujahideen ranges some years ago. Then Mongrel disappeared and it wasn't until Newline Designs started to import the figures again from their new owner that it resurfaced as a potential project. I was just about to put an order in when I spotted some of the figures on eBay in their original 8 figure packs. Never one to ignore a bargain, I put a bid in and was lucky enough to get them for a really decent price. I then picked up a few other bits and pieces from Newline to fill in a couple of gaps.

The first batch of figures are now back from the painter and I have just started basing them up. I've got a platoon plus a couple of support weapons for the Soviets and about the same for the Mujahideen. The packs I bought also had some figures in winter uniforms and it's these I will be using for my Cold War Gone Hot project (although I had quite a few more to get to bring these up to platoon strength).

In the interim I have picked up a BTR70 from Copplestone (which I believe is the old HLBS range) and am considering getting a BMP or two but at £25 each I suspect that may be a little while off! Other than that I already have pretty much everything else I need in the way of terrain from other projects.

I plan to use this as my first real outing with the new Force on Force rules and I have managed to find a copy of The Bear Went Over the Mountain to provide some inspiration for scenarios.

I'll post some pictures as soon as I have the figure basing completed.

The Mutiny: 53rd Foot

Despite having to pack up my room to put the house on the market, I have still been managing to make a little progress with my various projects. I just finished basing my second unit for the Indian Mutiny - the 53rd (Shropshire) Regiment of Foot - who took part in the relief of Lucknow and earned some 5 VCs during the Mutiny. The figures are from Mutineer Miniatures. Apologies for the photos - they were taken in a bit of a rush!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

The One of Our Satellites is Missing Affair - Episode 1 - Access Denied

Our last game of the weekend was a first outing for 7TV, the new cult TV rules which Lenin had picked up at Salute.  He picked one of the scenarios from the rule book to start us off:

Satellites are going missing. Clues lead our heroes to investigate a private factory, but attempts to enter are blocked by heavy-handed security. Unwilling to wait for their bureaucratic superiors to get official access, the heroes disable the security systems and sneak in. Can they find further evidence of their enemy’s plans?

With two male heroes at my disposal I named them, rolled up their stats and decided on the gadgets - and so Wellington Duo and Vasya Pupkin were born...
Initially our infiltration of the compound went well.  Despite the awkward routes that the seven guards adopted the two agents managed to get to the lab.  Vasya broke out his lock picking kit and opened the main door and they were inside.
After some extensive searching around, the key information was found and a swift exit was made.  It was at this point that things started to go a little awry.  Whilst they were hiding under one of the walkways to avoid the guards above one of the other ground level guards spotted them and opened fire!
Unfortunately neither Duo nor Pupkin were armed with anything more than pistols and so the guard out ranged them; however his aim was a little off so they managed to slip round to the other side of the supporting column.

At this point the guards above spotted them and they came under a hail of fire from the walkway and one of the chemical tanks.  The two agents split up with Wellington rushing around the chemical tank and Vasya fixing a device to the column.  Once attached Vasya sprinted away and there was an enormous explosion as the micro explosive detonated.  The walkway collapsed eliminating the guard on it and blocking the way of the ground level guard; leaving the one on top of the chemical tank as the only immediate problem (the other four guards rushing to the scene were a future issue!).
Meanwhile Wellington donned his climbing suckers and ascended the side of the tank away from the ladder and behind the guard.  Reaching the top he fired his automatic and the guard tumbled dramatically off the tank.

Pupkin had taken refuge behind some barrels but he was discovered by another guard, who had be sent to investigate by the chief henchman.  He easily dispatched the guard but then had to engage in a deadly game of hide and seek to avoid the main heavy.  Slipping away he managed to sprint out of sight and find cover behind some pipes.  Meanwhile Wellington was making his way undetected via a rather circuitous path to join up with him.

The chief henchman wasn't fooled for long and accompanied by another guard started a to search for Vasya.  With discovery imminent Vasya used his miniature laser to cut through one of the pipes near the guards and the contents burst out and almost immediately caught fire.  The guard caught the full force of the blast but the chief henchman was only thrown to the ground.
Under cover of the explosion Duo and Pupkin moved position to nearer the perimeter fence close to where they had originally cut their way in.  But the henchman had only been winded and after picking himself up and dusting himself down he advanced on their position.  Turning the corner he spotted them and took a swing at Pupkin.  Fortunately it missed and Vasya leapt to defend himself.  The two evenly matched opponents circled each other punching and blocking with Vasya using his knowledge of pressure points to try to land a knock out blow.  The henchman was fighting with less finesse but his brute strength was impressive.  Finally Wellington took an opportunity and landed a crippling blow and the two agents were able to escape not only with the information but also with the film from Vasya's miniature camera.

All in all a really fun game and 7TV are likely to return to the table in the not too distant future.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Drama in Dahomey

Following the reunion games Lenin and I decided to extend the weekend and put on another couple of games just for ourselves. The first was a chance for me to get my Dixon Dahomey figures to the table for the first time using Two Hour Wargames' Colonial Adventures rules. Once again Lenin took command of the colonial forces.

The games was set in September 1892, some time after the main French column has begun to advance through the jungle towards the capital Abomey. The column had already fought and defeated the Fon army at Dogba but as a result they need resupply and the objective was to escort an element of the supply column part of the way from Porto-Novo to the main column.

Despite being relatively inexperienced Captain Clouseau was well advised by Sergeant Frakov and put scouts ahead and to the flanks of the supply column. He took command of half the Legionnaires in the van with the remainder under Lieutenant Le Pice at the rear.

With the jungle being somewhat different to their usual postings in North Africa the scouts were understandably jumpy but after a couple of false alarms the column made good progress towards the river crossing. It was here that a sharp eyed Legion scout spotted the Fon waiting in ambush for them.

Shots rang out from the Fon and they had barely been returned by the Legion when the ferocious Amazons rushed headlong into a bloody melee with them. The Captain went down in that first volley but Sergeant Frakov held the men together in the fight.

The superior training of the Legion meant they were able to maintain the initiative and step back and fire at the Amazons between the bouts of vicious hand to hand fighting but the sheer weight of numbers began to take its toll.

Meanwhile the Lieutenant on hearing the firing began to bring the rear guard up to assist; however by the time he got there the advance guard were forming a brave last stand with the Sergeant. Some of the Fon had broken off to loot the supply column but with the Amazons lying dead or dying, the intervention of the rearguard saw them take a number of the mules and flee into the jungle.

With many of the column bearers having fled too the Lieutenant had a difficult job reorganising the column and was forced to use some of the remaining Legionnaires to carry the supplies. And with their diminished number they began the advance once more.

A couple more false alarms unnerved the troops a little but a genuine attacking force was spotted advancing toward them in sufficient time for a firing line to be organised. The firefight was terribly unevenly balanced. After suffering many casualties and inflicting only a few the attackers melted away.

The column then picked up their loads and marched on...

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Moving House?

The powers that be have decided that we need more space and it was either give up my games room (obviously not an acceptable option!) or move.  So I have now had to pack up the games room and return it to it's former life as a bedroom or limit our potential buyers to gamers...

The upshot is that I will be a little constrained on progressing my projects but will try to keep them moving along with some accompanying posts - so please bear with me.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Wargames Reunion: Retimo Airfield

Our second reunion game was one Lenin and I had been thinking about for a while - the German assault on Crete - in 28mm using our combined figure collections. We chose to use the Two Fat Lardies' I Ain't Been Shot, Mum! rules as the game was rather too large for Nuts!

The Germans had an ad hoc formation from the 2nd Fallschimjäger Regiment based around the remnants of the 2nd Company, I Battalion and supported by elements of the Headquarters Company, I Battalion, 9th Company, III Battalion and 13th Company. Their objective was to take Hill 'A' which dominated the airfield. Whilst they were facing remnants of C Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Australian Infantry Regiment supported by elements of 1st Platoon, 1st Australian Machine Gun Company.

Both Lenin and I were playing in the game (largely to take advantage of playing on a larger table than normal - 8 x 6') but decided to let the other players take the lead as we had set the game up. As usualy I played on the German side with Lenin taking the Aussies.

The German plan was to advance up the road on the left flank and secure the farm buildings then move into the woods and secure the other farm at the other end of the table before assaulting the hill itself. Things started to go wrong for them pretty much straight away. They hadn't read the brief fully and so didn't take advantage of the initial bombardment available and then they were spotted whilst still advancing in the open on the road. The Austrailians were dug in on the hill so the ensuing fire fight was somewhat uneven with the Germans pinned in the open gradually taking more and more casualties.

Eventually we managed to take advantage of the limited cover at the base of the hill but our fire was relatively ineffective agaist their position. With no smoke for thr light mortars and assault under heavy fire was going to the very costly and so the attack was stalled pretty much straight away.

Due to some rather poor communication on the German side the blinds advancing down the side of the hill to outflank the Australian position were simply dummies whilst the one behind us in the farm yard turned out to be the third platoon!

Fortunately we were reinforced by a medium mortar and an infantry gun and with their support we started to advance up the hill but it was terribly slow going.

Our plan had been for the morning (real time) to be the evening (game time) and for the afternoon to be the following day. So when lunch (real time) came around the Germans still had not taken the hill. Fortunately for the Germans, the Australians received an order to withdraw (higher command thought they had better intelligence and wanted to consolidate their forces) which allowed the Germans to occupy the hill unopposed. When the Australians realised their mistake the organised a counter attack for the next morning.

During the night the Germans had been reinforced with two medium MGs and an anti-tank rifle team but had run out of ammo for the mortar and had been unable to manhandle the infantry gun up the hill. They reorganised their force into two full strength platoons and started to dig in. The Australians had four understrength platoons with medium MG support and two light tanks for the attack. (At this point I had swapped sides to help with the numbers too)

Unfortnately for the Aussies their troops and armour were almost immediately spotted and came under fire. Even with smoke from the light mortars the attack became heavy going and things began to slow down. One of the light tanks threw a track when crossing the ditch at the edge of the road and the MGs were held up for some reason.

The attack devolved into a rather unequal fire fight and when the second light tanks attempted to move into support it was assaulted by the Germans and caught fire. The only close assault was thrown back by the Germans for little loss on their side and the attack stalled.

The attack then turned into making an orderly withdrawal for the Australians, which proved difficult under the heavy German fire but over half the force managed it.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Wargames Reunion: Battalion Assault

After some time in the planning we managed to arrange a reunion with a few gaming buddies. We all used to be part of the same club but over time have moved to different parts of the country and so only usually catch up individually or at Salute. We decided it would be nice to actually have a couple of games together; however the logistics proved a little challenging but this weekend we managed it.

Our first game was a 20mm WW2 battalion level assault on a French village. Our first task was to actually plan the logistics of the approach to the start line, the preliminary artillery and then the assault itself.

Initally we struggled to sort out travel orders and timings but eventually spotted that it was actually impossible for us to move our troops and attached tanks up to the start line in time for our scheduled kick off. We eventually sorted out the order of march to the debussing point and the final approach to the start line along with the timings in order to scheudle the artillery bombardment. We plumped for a long but possibly rather slow rolling barrage to cover our advance.

With planning completed we moved into the next phase of the game. Almost immediately the plan started to go awry as the road we were planning to use wasn't cleared on time so we were 30 minutes late getting to our debussing area. We then started to move the troops up onto the actual table. Moving through the hedge lined fields proved quite problematic and the units moving up the road found it partly blocked by thre Recce unit holding the start line. Fortunately the MPs attached to the Battalion HQ were able to sort out the jam fairly quickly.

At this point the enemy, who had heard the tanks approaching, started dropping artillery blindly on our moving troops. Luckily we suffered very few casualties and were at our start positions pretty much on time (we had allowed a little time for problems forming up). Then the artillery barrage started and we moved off. Whilst the attack was starting the various MP, medical and other units formed up in the appropriate positions.

Our plan for the assault was relatively uncomplicated. We had deployed our recce and MGs to cover the right flank and the four infantry companies each with tanks attached were advancing two up, two down on the left. A and B companies were intended to push through the hedge line to the left of the village. C and D companies were then to swing right into the village itself and, if necessary, push through to clear the right flank whilst A and B started preparing defensive positions for the anticipated counter attack.

The barrage managed to keep the enemy's heads down and we advanced across the open ground and stream with out too much difficulty. Unfortunately the tanks accompanying D company bogged down in the stream but otherwise things were going well. As the barrage moved on we started to take flanking fire from the village and a minefield was encountered covering the front of the village itself. A and B company started to take defensive fire as we approached the hedge line but a determined advance with the tanks soon put paid to that. Trapped between us and our barrage to the rear their morale cracked and we captured quite a few of the enemy.

Then things started to go a little more awry. With D company without its armour taking heavy fire B company's flank was exposed to the village and it started to take heavy fire and suffered quite a few casualties. Also our force covering the right flank had been spotted and was taking quite a bit of fire too. A combination of mortar and machine gun fire sorted out some of the problem but we took more losses.

Eventually we organised ourselves and C company started to clear the village as planned and the Germans withdrew their remaining troops.

Our next problem was organising thr defence with our now depleted forces and also clearing the minefield to allow the resupply column to reach us.

Fortunately the enemy took some time to reorganise themselves which gave us just the breathing space we needed (although only just!).

The enemy attack consisted of a large infantry force to the right and front supported by Stugs to the left. Fortnately the infantry to the front advanced straight into one of our preplanned defensive boxes and we could drop artiller on them which put paid to that. However, we also lost most of the rest of B compan to enemy artillery fire and some of our tank support to some well placed German anti-tank guns.

Their armour didn't are too well either as our 17 pounders tooke out every Stug that came into sight. Things were looking a little more difficult on the right flank but with the combined fire of C company, our remaining MGs and the anti-tank crews adding their small arms we managed to do enough for the Germans to have second thoughts. This combined with their failure in the centre and on the left meant they began to withdraw.

It was a really fun game especially with the initial planning element. In hindsight there are quite a few things we could have done better - like read the briefing papers more thoroughly and ask a few more questions! But ultimately the barrage was the key, had that been different I think the whole game would have taken on a completely different complexion.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

My friend Geordie from Geordie's Big Battles has nominated me for a Stylish Blogger Award on the basis that I started him blogging and, apparently, am also to blame for his insanity (according to his post!)!

I would like to thank Geordie for the nomination and for singling me out as the person responsible not only for his mental state but also for inflicting it on the internet!  Seriously though, it was good of Geordie to nominate me; however, this award seems to have become something of an epidemic across the gaming blogosphere and so I am not proposing to fulfil all the conditions attached to it.  I am supposed to:

  • thank and link back to the blogger who nominated me for this award;
  • share seven things about myself;
  • nominate 10-15 other blogs for the award; and
  • contact the bloggers and tell them about the award.

I have already thanked Geordie and below I will outline seven things about myself (for those who are even remotely interested!) but I don't propose to nominate any other blogs.  It's not that there aren't lots of blogs I follow that deserve nomination, indeed a high proportion of these have already been nominated, but rather it's the feel that the stipulation of numbers of nominations makes this rather like a chain letter (which is something I detest).

I would also like to thank anyone who reads the ramblings I post here and most particularly those who comment - it's nice to know I'm not just talking to myself!

Anyway, here are the 7 things about me:

  1. I was introduced to gaming through AD&D when I was a student but I only found wargaming some time afterwards;
  2. I still have some of the AD&D miniatures that I painted which I bought at the shop which used to be in the basement in Oxford Street about where the Virgin Megastore came and went;
  3. for several years I ran a BBS on Fidonet (before the internet came along);
  4. I don't like points systems - battles are very rarely balanced like that;
  5. I love rule sets which mean the troops don't always do what you tell them - for me that's part of the challenge as a commander;
  6. I haven't bought a boardgame for over a year (because I don't have any space to store any more) but seem to always find space for more figures; and
  7. Wargaming helped me learn how not to be a sore loser (and believe me I used to be)!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

The Mutiny: 32nd Foot

I have just finished basing the first of my Indian Mutiny units - the 32nd (Cornwall) Regiment of Foot from the siege of Lucknow.  The 32nd figures are from Mutineer Miniatures and the civilians from Foundry (the latter are a little smaller - but OK if not mixed in the same unit).

The men of the 32nd

Varied reactions to news of the mutiny