In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Empty Dining Room

After a lot of long discussions Mrs. Rabbitman and I decided to end our part in J&M Miniatures.
We had a lot of fun doing it together and serving our customers from all over the world. We certainly learned a lot and wish Martin every success as he takes the J&M banner forward.
But some things had to change, so it was time to call it quits.

The dining room is pretty spacious now. And with the packing material gone from the basement I probably have room for a second game table!

Monday, May 25, 2015

More Vehicles for the Battlegroup

Some more bits done for for Roto 1-15. These are all painted in the same way as the LAV.
Two trucks and a Bison for a Combat Logistics Patrol (that's new Army lingo for what we'd call a supply convoy). The trucks are straight builds. The Bison is a Trumpeter kit with extra stowage.

S&S 5 ton trucks
Bison APC
Bison APC

The Bison is obviously transporting someone of a musical persuasion, given the dusty guitar case strapped to the side. I may redo it and go easier on the dust since the ironic peace sign is obscured.

To escort them the Dragon Models Leopard 2A6M that was so frustrating to build.
Leopard 2
Leopard 2
The Leopard is a total indulgence. It should probably be off table providing fire support. But the experience of Roto 3-06 convinced the Defence Staff that the Battle group needed heavy armour. The Canadian command realized that any "collateral damage" was mission failure, so something more precise than air strikes was needed. Leopard 1A4s were pulled out of moth balls and driven off of display platforms and shipped in theatre. Once there they gave invaluable support with precise applications of high explosive. One gunner referred to his "105mm sniper rifle" after using the main gun to blow apart a Taliban heavy weapons team caught switching position. I think by 2008 we had started getting Leopard 2s.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

More Longstreet with the Mad Padre

Friday afternoon the Mad Padre brought his ACW armies over for a game of Longstreet and a pulled pork dinner.

We went through the Campaign steps after our last game and used the resulting orders of battle for this game. The randomly generated scenario had me trying to take a ridge (two hills bisected by a stream and a wood). I out scouted Mike so he deployed first. I opted to put all my troops on the left, thinking that his recruits behind the wall might be easier than the 2 regiments of veterans and 3 gun sections on the right hand hill. So I moved my cavalry up to the woods in the center where they came under a most galling fire from the Confederate artillery but otherwise kept much of them pinned in place. When he tried to shift a regiment of Texans and a gun section over to reinforce the Missippians behind the wall I played a few cards that delayed them considerably.

Initial deployment
 Meanwhile Col. Von Daniken, my alter ego from the Padre's Bluffsburg play by email campaign lead 4 regiments forward against the stone wall.
Col. Von Daniken leads the attack
Mississippians hold the stone wall
 My artillery support was somewhat ineffective. Taking out one stand and then nothing.
Union artillery observed by a reporter
"Here they come boys!"
A wall of fire
My 4 regiments surged forward, with the eager recruits up front to take the fire and then the seasoned veterans behind would storm through to carry the position.

When I unleashed my plan I had a great hand of cards to execute the attack with some nice combat modifiers, but then the diabolic Padre slapped a card on my left hand 6 stand regiment of seasoned veteran Wisconsin troops, so instead of rushing through the Irish regiment's musket smoke they just stood there!
My left is stalled!

On the right the recruit regiment, now down to 2 stands attacked to the right to overrun a section of Napoleons trying to deploy beside the wall and the 4 stand veteran regiment behind charged the wall itself.

Veterans bounce off the wall while recruits charge into still limbered gun section and wipe it out
The veterans did not do so well and recoiled back down the hill a broken and bloody shambles. Meanwhile the Padre had gotten his regiment of veteran Texans out of the swamp and through the woods so it was time to withdraw the recruits who had destroyed the guns.

Repulsed form the wall and Texans on the flank
With that I conceded defeat and we went through the steps for the campaign, seeing how many stands losses were permanent, how many troops were lost to typhus (the Padre's veterans have some bad camp discipline obviously and were decimated), what sort of reinforcements arrived and any changes to morale. I got a few cards that brought the recruits up to veteran and restored my broken regiment back to their seasoned status but very little in the way of reinforcements, except for two regiments of eager recruits to bring the brigade back up to strength. The Padre managed to get yet another gun, so he again has 4 to my 2!

Then yesterday was a road trip keeping Wierdy Beardy company. He wanted to visit the hobby shops in nearby London (Ontario). So I made my final visit to McCormick's Hobbies which is closing this week after 55 years in business. I spent an awful lot of my allowance in there as a kid buying Airfix figures and model kits.

End of another era

Here's a picture I found on the web of Mrs. McCormick and I assume Mr. I never saw him, but she was always behind the counter and very friendly as I picked out my kit or paints and brushes.

Image result for mccormicks hobbies london ontario
Mrs. McCormick in my happier days. Purveyor of childhood dreams.

Poking trough the shelves I found some old European HO scale snap together PzIV kits and I was thinking "Man, where were those when I was a kid buying the Roco Minitanks?" Fortunately I had some pocket change to get a couple of jars of paint. The 1/72nd scale Chinook and UH-60 helicopters which would be spiffing support for my Canadian battlegroup in Afghanistan were sadly left on the shelf as an unjustifiable expense right now.

Sad. But lots of golden memories.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

First LAV III and an objective marker done

I was gong to test my techniques on the Bison models and the 5 ton trucks before I painted a LAV, but I got excited and finished one yesterday.

It is an S and S Models resin LAV III Kodiak pimped out with stowage from S and S, RAFM and Legend Productions (the cooler on the back is a resin piece from Legend). The tow cable on the bow I made myself from picture hanging wire.

I painted it in Tamyia Olive Green, and picked out or highlighted the stowage with lighter shades of khaki and greens as the mood took me. The tow cable and tires got some Vallejo "German grey" to highlight them. The cooler got a coat of white and then some bright Games Workshop blue. I then gave everything a liberal dry brush of Americana "Cool Neutral" going heavier on the bow and around the wheels and then lighter towards the back and top. I only wish the model had an open hatch so I could have included vehicle commanders for more character.

I also painted up that broken LAV-25 Patrick gave me. I turned it into an IED casualty to use as an objective for the Coalition forces.

Again I added some stowage from RAFM and S and S. The pack from S and S included some badly folded, unrolled tarps or tentage so I included one on the base as some tentage that got blown off and come apart. Same painting technique as above and then I dry brushed more Vallejo German grey around the blast crater and up the sides of the vehicle itself. If it had been a plastic kit I would have cut out some of the doors and hatches too, but I wasn't going to attempt that with this solid piece of pewter. I also deliberately refrained from including any casualties on the base. Not only qualms about taste but also the scenario might have the crew wounded but holed up in a building or something and needing rescue.

Some posed action shots:

So far, so good.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

More Afghanistan Goodies

Just before we took off for the Wild Frontier a little bag of 20mm goodness arrived in the mail. Elheim Miniatures ran a "I'm not going to Salute 15% off sale" and at the time I was gainfully employed, so I indulged in some more figures for my Canadians in the Panjwayi project.

(All the pictures are from the Elheim shop, since I've only just opened the packs to fondle them so far. Clicking on each pic should take you to the appropriate page in the Elheim web store.)

I got the Taliban some support with a DHSK hmg,
TAL04 Afghan Insurgents with DHSK HMG
an SPG9 recoilless rifle,
TAL07 Afghan Insurgents SPG9 Recoiless Rifle and crew

a pack including a sniper and the bonus random pack of 10 insurgents which included a SAM launcher, another suicide bomber and an LMG gunner plus 6 riflemen.

For the coalition I got some Syrian infantry  (2 packs of riflemen and the support pack with RPG and PKM) to stand in as a section of ANA

and another pack of ANP. I also got some Americans to proxy as Canucks. It was difficult finding sculpts that came close. A lot of the American figures have fairly obvious groin protection. But some Rangers look close

and a plt HQ pack fit the bill, although the signaller is wearing a ball cap which I didn't notice and am wondering what to do about it.

Some other packs in the IBA series also look  like they would do. But I'm holding off getting too many in the hopes that Matt will finish the Canadian range properly with a GPMG team, Carl Gustav team (useful for opening up those grape drying huts!) and another fireteam pack. I also got the prerequisite sniper team and a Civilian Interaction Team including an interpreter.
I'm thinking I could add a pack to the chap on the right and turn him into a Medic. Having a Medic attend your casualties seems pretty useful in the reports of Fighting Season I've been reading on the Too Fat Lardies Blog.

Finally some casualty figures for each side to round things out.

Now if I can just hold off the black dog of depression and get some stuff painted up while I'm looking for a new job it'll be good.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wedding on the Wild Frontier pt.2

My last posting was cut a bit short by driving the bride and her entourage to the church. But we're home now after some misadventures in air travel and I can share a few pictures.

The Bride and Daughter No.2 the Bridesmaid
The Bridal Shop in Ft. McMurray closed soon after my daughter started her planning, and going back and forth to Edmonton or Calgary would be a pain, so she knit her dress. She is a prolific knitter.

Bride with Proud Dad
The Happy Couple
The Bride's Family
St. Paul's is a mission church. Chairs, no pews or kneelers, a pretty simple altar and tabernacle. But there was a priest and vows made, so the important bits were covered. Except for us and the bride's grandparents, everyone else was a co-worker of the Happy Couple. The Groom's store closed for an hour so everyone could attend and his boss' husband pitched in at the last minute to act as the Best Man and drive the Newlyweds away in his truck.
Leaving the Church
My daughter had troubles finding a venue for a reception so she opted for sandwiches and drinks back at her place.
After the Reception
Fort McMurray may be a modern city of 100,000 people, but the wilderness is always close by. Bear proofing is important even in the city.
Bear Proofed Garbage and Recycle bins
The next day Daughter no. 2 and I went for a walk in a nearby park. Wolfe Park is a chunk of northern wilderness surrounded by suburbs.

A walk in the park
View to the right
View to the left (note suburban houses)
It was a fairly strenuous walk. I could conduct a cadet field exercise there. Imagine the saving on transport costs if everyone could just walk home!

The next day was delays at the airport, a missed connection and an unscheduled hotel stay in Toronto. Fortunately the Mad Padre was able to meet our new arrival time and chauffeur our tired selves home.

So now back to reality and a job hunt.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Rabbitman on the Wild Frontier

My eldest bunny, who makes up for her diminutive stature by being large in spirit, has found a career for herself in the Alberta oil patch as a geotechnical engineer. She had found herself an 8 month internship during university and got herself out here, found a great roommate and made a pile of cash all on her own. The company had her back for another internship and then hired her after graduation.

She really likes soil mechanics apparently,  and most of the mining jobs are in Ft. McMurray, 4 hours by car north of Cold Lake surrounded by pines, bears and elk. So here she is with a condo, a car and the young man she met while at school in New Brunswick.

So here I am in a frontier town watching my daughter and her mother prepare for the ceremony, which might be the first wedding in St. Paul's parish. Most folks here go home to get married and home for most of the residents is anywhere but Ft. Mac. It's dirty and there are a lot of pickup trucks on the streets. Except for places to eat and drink there isn't much else to do. Most people drive to Edmonton for serious shopping. But after looking at the logistics of planning a wedding at home we said we'd come to her.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Churchill tanks done!

Bought these Dec 2013.
Got them primed fall of 2014.
Finally painted them this past week.
I was bored last Sunday night. "Why don't you paint?" Asks daughter no. 2 with great wisdom.
"Too tired" I reply thinking of the lacing on samurai armour.
Then I remember a bunch of 15mm armour primed and waiting. I wasn't too tired to roughly dry brush green onto some tanks.

And here they are, a troop of Churchill's, a close support tank with 95mm howitzer and an AVRE.

Churchill troop

Close support tank

I added some extra stowage. For the AVRE I figured the commander would be hunkered down a bit more and used a TC figure from the Sherman set. Notice the different arm positions on the TC for the CS tank busy observing the effect of his HE barrage and the Trp Cmdr in the act of scanning for threats as he advances against some German held ridge in Italy or Normandy.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Vorwarts with Blucher and the Mad Padre.

The great thing about the Mad Padre, well one of the great things about the Mad Padre- he has many fine attributes, is that he will buy a set of rules and diligently play it solo to teach himself.  Then he will bring it out to play with others. This weekend he did just that with Blucher, the new Napoleonic rules by Sam Mustafa and also showing us the spiffy 6mm Napoleonic hordes he has been quietly putting together this past year.

6mm does have it's appeal. His urban sections are quite top drawer.

Plus being able to have huge numbers of troops deployed is also great for the spectacle of a big horse and musket battle without the cost. Last night I was commanding 4 smallish corps on my table facing an equivalent body of French and we still had loads of room.
Austrian army less artillery
The Mad Padre has painted some of these himself but most of the armies are from a large collection he bought on line and has been busy rebasing. The original owner had them on tiny, fiddly little 6-8 figure company stands. There are still more French, plus Prussians and Russians in the pipes. Be still my beating heart!
Austrian Hussars
French Uhlans
Austrians occupy Fahrfrompuken
French across the river in Neufahrfrompuken
More French infantry painted by the Padre himself
The coloured blue and white disks in the pictures identify the Corps (we used them for semi-hidden deployment as well) and the multi-coloured rods are measuring sticks marked out in base widths; red white and blue for the French and white, red, yellow and black for the Austrians. Like all of Sam Mustafa's games Blucher is pretty broad church for scale etc. so it uses common base widths to quantify movement and shooting.

The Austrians were trying to push across the Pukenbruck and occupy the Klumpenberg heights dominating the river crossing at Fahrfrompuken.

Our large but lower quality corps went to the right, supported by 2 independent hussar brigades. There it tangled with a corps of pretty decent French infantry supported by a Light Cavalry Corps of 4 brigades who pushed across the river, demonstrating that a good defense is a good offense.

Wierdy-Beardy's corps of conscripts and Grenz actually gave a good accounting of themselves. Holding their own and breaking a few French brigades plus Patrick's corps artillery.

In the center both side's 1st Corps rolled up to the village on their side of the river and stopped. The Austrian artillery did some barraging which knocked down a couple of French brigades, but it took a while before we had enough command points to get things moving. A cool twist with Blucher is that the opposing player rolls the 3 dice for your command pips and keeps the total secret, so you just move corps and brigades until he says "You're done," so the challenge is to make sure the important bits get done without knowing how far you can go.

On the left I had a Corps of crack troops supported by 2 independent hussar brigades trying to force a river crossing to outflank the French position. I found myself opposed by the French Heavy Cavalry Reserve of  some 5 brigades of Cuirassier and dragoons. Trying to get across a river with cavalry charging at you before you can form squares is a bitch. However the Austrian Hussars showed their mettle and beat up quite a few of the French heavies. One nice thing about Blucher though is that even if you win a melee, you still lose a point of elan, so your fighting ability gets slowly worn down even if successful.

Another thing I really like is that flanks matter. Unlike another popular set of Napoleonic rules which frankly has the units acting like battalions, but uses some specious logic that a brigade can project it's combat power in any direction (the wargame unit is just a 'footprint' and the battalions within the brigade can be facing in any direction) without any movement limitation or penalty. To which I cry a resounding BS! From my readings, the bigger a formation the harder it is to change it's axis of attack and redirect it's combat power (like artillery batteries etc.) and when you get to corps and armies then you have even longer and more vulnerable lines of communications. Which is why all the top generals try and make flank attacks.

French Heavy Cavalry
Hussars beat Cuirassiers!

Bit of a mess

Finally towards mid-afternoon we released the Austrian Heavy Cavalry Reserve in a dash for the Klumpenberg. They had been hiding patiently behind my Corps of crack troops fighting along the river. A mis-read of the command rules slowed them down unfortunately, otherwise they would've been a lot more dashier.
Austrian heavies move up between 1st and 2nd Corps.

So there we have it. Fun was had. Even with our inexperience the game cracked along pretty quickly. We completed 28 of 30 possible turns by 00:40hrs. A few mistakes were made which would've helped our attack get some better momentum but I thought everything made sense and the abstractions feel right to me. So for more big battle Napoleonics I'd definitely play Blucher again.

Mike's analysis of the game with more details on the rules are here.