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!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Fallschirmjaeger Get Very Bloodied

This past week we've had my sister-in-law, The Great Knitting Guru of the East, her two boys and my oldest daughter (who has been working at an engineering student job all summer out there) down from the Atlantic provinces for a visit. We haven't seen each other for about 8 years, but I've heard wondrous rumours that somewhere out in the Maritimes, I had two young (11 and 15) relatives who liked to war game! Mostly 40K and Lord of the Rings and a bit of Wings of War, but still they liked small military miniatures. Naturally I passed along my old 1/72nd scale plastic figures and anything else I thought they'd take a fancy to.

I think I was the most excited of anyone about the visit and had been looking forward to showing off my figures all summer.

OK, seeing my daughter was pretty cool too.

Naturally as soon as they arrived and we'd had a cup of tea and caught up, the boys had to see the Man Cave. I spent the rest of the evening touring through my large and varied collection of figures and terrain. The youngest was particularly interested in how to make his own terrain since the Games Workshop stuff does put a dent in the allowance money! I forgot to warn my sister-in-law that he may start hording strange things like card board, fish tank gravel and weird bits of stuff that look interesting, plus putting in requests for other weird things like a big sheet of felt and 'Gorilla Glue'.

He took a special shine to my WW2 collection.

The next day I had to go down to ASU London to get my Canadian Forces ID (the picture is way nicer than my Driver's Licence) so I took the boys along and we toured the RCR Museum that is on the base. After lunch we then toured the hobby shops in London. Since I thought the young lad was keen on getting some terrain I took him to a very nice model RR shop that has a terrific selection of Woodland Scenics supplies. But when we got there I could tell the spending money was burning a hole in his pocket and he wanted some miniatures. So we went back downtown to Imperial Hobbies which has a not bad selection of Battlefront minis.

After much pondering he selected a platoon of German Panzer Grenadiers in great coats. That afternoon we got them scraped and primed and I think after dinner he had started painting. I usually let my primer set for 24 hours myself, but I remember being young and impatient. I was checking on his work and it`s pretty good. Much tidier than my painting was at that age!

So they had to spend a few nights with the grand parents which gave us a bit of a rest and gave me time to clean off the gaming table. I had asked my friend Pasha Dan to run a Pulp adventure game for us on Saturday night. I thought that would be silly good fun and something very different from what the boys were used too. Patrick, Barry and Mike joined us for a game of silly hats, shifting alliances and lots of bad jokes (so a typical club night!). It was mighty victory for the people of Morowi though, as the Belgians, Germans and Big Game Hunters all got annihilated between the Arab slavers, the head hunters and the cannibals. I told the youngster to flee while he could, but he tried to fight it out and got surrounded. I think the boys had fun anyway.

Sunday had no agenda so I set up a WW2 game for the youngster as well. I briefly thought about using Flames of War but I haven`t played those rules in so long it`d be a lot of work to teach myself let alone the nephew. So I went with a slimmed down version of I Ain`t Been Shot Mum by Too Fat Lardies. I`d been wanting to run this scenario for about a year, ever since I got my first platoon of German Fallschirmjaegers done.

Here`s the scenario:

It`s early in 1945, the front has collapsed and 4thCanadian Armoured Division has formed some mobile columns to break through, exploit the German confusion and make some big advances. One column is trying to bounce a bridge over the a canal and capture it intact, otherwise the canal will give the Germans a major defensive obstacle and buy them time to regroup.

The Canadian column:

2x troops of Shermans, 2x platoons of infantry riding in Bren Carriers, a platoon of armoured cars, 2x 6 pounders, a pair of upgunned Carriers from the Carrier platoon and 2x Vickers MMG teams. There were also random flights of fighter bombers roaming over the front. This was the first game for the armoured cars, the trucks and I think the Vickers MMG teams and 6 pounders.

The German defenders:

A platoon of FJ with 2x MG42s, panzerfausts and lots of automatic weapons in each section, an MG42 platoon, a Pak 40, a King Tiger and 2 StuG IIIs. this was the first time out for all of these models!

The table from the Canadian start line:

The Germans could set up anywhere and didn`t have to keep the platoon together. All units started hidden. My young opponent had no idea what I had or where it was.

``That`s not fair`` says the young lad thinking this was 40K and we had somewhat equal points.

I opted to put a section in the ruins to force him to deploy early. The pak 40 and an MMG were in the woods on the right of the picture. The StuGs were hidden in the trees to the left of the town in the back of the picture. Second section with two MMGs was in the big buildings covering the road. Third section and the last MMG was covering the right of the town. The King Tiger was hidden behind the Bierhaus to the right of the crossroad.

Here`s a map I drew using the computer`s Paint program, with the deployments as I remember them mid-game:

Blue for Canadians, red for Germans. I hope you remember your tactical signs. The MG42s are indicated by the small red arrows.

The young lad is extremely cautious and everything hides behind the hedge. He`s so far away that his spotting rolls are atrocious. Finally he starts to creep down the road and the pak40 opens up, scoring first blood:

Another shot took out the gun on one of the Fireflies causing it to retire from the fight. But this drew the inevitable response. After a few rounds of HE from the Shermans, a Jabo showed up:
The MG42 team booked it out of there and got back to the town to shore up the defences.
Eventually the Canadians pushed far enough up the road that the paras in the ruins opened fire, whizzing a panzerfaust over the head of the lead tank commander! The Canadians responded with fury, machineguns from the Carrier patrol and armoured car patrols joining the HE rounds from the Shermans to whittle the Germans down before they could take any more effective action.

On the German right the StuGs opened fire, trying to pin the advance of the Canadian left. They disabled a carrier and drew a lot of fire from one of the 6 pounders. The other 6 pounder started hammering the hotel with HE to considerable effect.

So one troops of Shermans and one platoon of infantry came up the road. The other troop and infantry platoon came through the fields to the right. The armoured cars swung to the right as well. I shift my reserve section to the garden of the Bierhaus and put the two MG42 teams along the road.

Time to unmask my ace in the hole! The King Tiger rolls out from behind the Bierhaus and engages the right hand troop. It misses.

The Canadian tank troops gets the next card and fires a return volley. It`s long range. He hits. I have 14 armour dice, his 75mm guns only roll 6. He scores 5 (FIVE!) hits and I only save one! My shiny new King Tiger gets brewed up, much to my nephew`s delight:

One of my StuGs got taken out soon after. The second StuG tried to relocate to the other flank to engage the Shermans but it attracted the attention of another fighter bomber:

By this time the Canadian attack was developing nicely and I was getting worried. The section in the hotel was wiped out by HE from the 6 pounders. My front was being held by one section (also taking casualties) 4x MG42 teams and the platoon leader. I was just hoping the sappers could blow the damn bridge soon ( I rolled dice for it every Tea Break card).
The Canadian infantry were hanging back behind the armour, but I managed to chop up a few infantry sections with MG fire. Meanwhile the platoon commander was firing panzerfausts out of the hotel windows at the advancing Shermans.

One Sherman got brewed up:
The second carrier from the Carrier Platoon, following the lead Sherman into town took a lot of fire from the MG42 in the hotel, disabling it`s .50 cal. The leading Sherman entered the town and took a panzerfaust rocket to the tracks.
View from the bridge

But things were getting bleak. The paras in the beer garden were all dead by now. Cut down under a hail of fire from the armoured cars and a troop of Sherman tanks. There wasn`t a lot between the Canadians and the bridge anymore.

Finally I rolled a 6, blowing the bridge and the remains of my shattered command retreated from the town to get back across the canal.

I lost the King Tiger, 2x StuGs, the pak40 and 24 men. The Canadians lost 2x Shermans brewed up, 2x damaged, 2x carriers damaged and I think 8 KIAs in the infantry.

I thought I was going a bit over the top putting the King Tiger in the game. I`d forgotten how experience and superior tactics are no match to a youngster`s die rolling!

Actually his tactics weren`t too bad either, if somewhat cautious.

But now they`re heading back home, nephews with old copies of White Dwarf and some extra figures from my spares box. Hopefully they`ll come back next summer; I have more armies that they haven`t played with yet!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The 'R' Word

I'm quite surprised at the reaction that the reinstatement of the 'Royal' to the Canadian Air Force and Navy has caused. There have been a few discussions on Facebook and the blogosphere about it, and oddly I found myself debating it with otherwise fairly traditional and conservatively minded friends, who were, much to my surprise, opposed.

A quick history lesson for my non-Canadian readers: way back in 1968 the government of the time rammed through unification of the three services into one Canadian Armed Forces, claiming it would save money (only one supply, training and admin establishment, shared uniforms and equipment etc.) and create visionary forward thinking  21st century service free of our British colonial past. Everyone got to wear hideously ugly 'tri-service green' uniforms that made them look like gas station attendants and the government kept cutting the budget until trying to deploy on peacekeeping missions became an embarrassment as aircraft kept breaking down.

So a few years back the government re-instated three separate services. They still share much of the recruiting, logistic, administrative and training establishment (e.g. my recruiting interview was conducted by an Air Force officer and my BOTC syndicate includes Naval and Air element Officer Cadets), but now at least have distinctive uniforms. But when passing the bill they didn't just default back to the old names of the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force. Two days ago that was finally rectified.

Some (like the Minister of Defence who unified the three services back in '68) have said it is a 'great step backwards'.

I admit it. I'm not just a Monarchist, I'm an Imperialist. I think the world (or at least Africa) was better off under the British Empire. But all things pass and the collapse of the British Empire was going to happen and at least it wasn't as sanguinary as the fall of many empires. But I digress...

So here is my stand on the dreaded 'R' word.

I took an Oath to Queen and Country. We have crowns on our crests and cap badges. Our ships are "HMCS". Our oldest regiments are the ROYAL Canadian Artillery, the ROYAL Canadian Regiment and the ROYAL Canadian Dragoons. The 'Van Doos' are the ROYAL 22nd Regt. What's wrong with putting the 'R' back in the RCN and RCAF? We may as well use all the traditional bling we can until such a day as the Canadian voters decide to dismantle the constitutional monarchy in Canada.

If we're going to distance ourselves from our British past and traditions than lets do it all. Take out all the 'R's. The RCR can be the 1st Canadian Regiment of Inf. The Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry can be the 2nd (or maybe the 3rd, I think the R22e may have seniority). Call the RCDs the 1st Cdn Armoured Regt. The Lord Stathconas Horse can be the 2nd CAR. Take all the crowns off our cap badges and crests.

All or nothing.

Monday, August 15, 2011

28mm Perry ACW Generals

I don't paint a lot of American Civil War. Actually I haven't painted any since I did Don's 15mm Fire and Fury Union army many, many years ago. It's one of the few periods I don't have much interest in building armies for. But this latest commission of some Perry Miniatures American Civil War personalities was a lot of fun.
6 Union commanders (packs ACW44 & 45) and 6 Confederate commanders (packs ACW 46 & 47).

Sickles, Howard, Hancock

Sykes, Doubleday, Meade

Longstreet, Lee, Hood
Heth, Stuart, Pickett
Fortunately my friend Mike, whose extensive 15mm ACW armies you've admired previously on this blog, loaned me some of his reference books. The customer only cared that I put Lee on a white horse, but I wanted to get a few more details right.

A close up of Meade -looking worried at Gettysburg
A close up of Lee -every inch the Southern gentleman

I went back to my usual technique with these figures and didn't use the Army Painter Dip. The Perry figures were, as usual, beautifully sculpted and exquisitely detailed. The customer is going to base them himself once he gets them home.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

1st Cohort Done

I've gotten my first installment of 28mm Romans done. 1 cohort, 2 scorpions and 1 Tribune. I think that counts as a Division in Hail Caesar.

First up the artillery. I'm really happy with the scorpion boxed set. Although I am envious of the nice wicker ammunition baskets that come in the metal scorpion set.

I haven't done anything with the sudes though, I'm saving those to do some sections of entrenchments. I think an entire sprue of sudes would be a popular accessory. Every Roman army needs a marching camp.

Next, Cohors I Gallia Victrix.

Detail of command stand

These figures are very animated. Almost too animated. I found it very hard to rank them up on a 40x40mm base.  The auxiliary thrusting forward with his spear is the biggest troublemaker. The figure stabbing overhand and the figure with the spear tucked underarm are the easiest figures to fit. I suppose if I were better with the greenstuff I could modify the pose to make the spacing tighter. For anyone using adaptations of Lord of the Rings or some other rules using 25mm circular bases these figures will be just fine.

You will notice that I've put my signifer and tubicen in the back rank, which is where they ought to be, safely out of harms way. The Optio is off on the left flank where he can keep people in line (although I think historically he should be bringing up the rear). My other criticism is that the transfer sheet doesn't have a circular transfer for the signifer. I had to cut a wreath from the center of one of the extra transfers on the sheet. But making the transfers clear so you can put the design over your choice of background colour is a nice way to save on some production costs.

Finally a group shot:

Friday, August 5, 2011

Bashing around with 'Hail Caesar' some more

Had a few more games of Hail Caesar recently. It's been nice to blow the dust off my 15mm ancients.

I took my 15mm armies down to a friend's annual summer game day we've taken to calling RiCon. It's always a hoot and a half, getting together with gaming buddies I rarely get to see.

Initial set-up
I've been reading my Tacitus, so the scenario had Germanicus trying to recover one of Varus' lost eagles. The German Sacred Grove is in the upper left. The Romans (on the right) have to punish the tribe, burn the oppidium and search the grove to recover the Eagle.

The Romans had 3 legions, some artillery, auxiliary cohorts and supporting cavalry, archers and slingers. The Germans had loads of warbands and some noble cavalry. I used a lot of proxies; you'll notice Late Imperial auxilia standing in for Early Imperial auxilia.

Initial clash

Romans recoil bloodied

Roman counter-attack

German center gets caught in a vise!
Brian opted to lock-shields and take the German charge on the chin. He then mounted a counter attack and pinned the mass of warbands in place while his two team mates sent cohorts in on either flank destroying most of the Germans. Meanwhile the Roman right wing cavalry had sent in a thunderously successful charge destroying the German nobles and crashing into the warbands behind.

The German defeat was pretty clear by this time so we didn't have to try out making any attacks on a fortified position.

The second game was last weekend in my basement. Two of my oldest gaming buddies came over and another fellow with his teenage son.

Inspired by reading the Osprey on the Varus disaster I thought a column of Romans getting ambushed in the forest would be interesting to try out.

Roman Column

Baggage guarded by legionaries flanked by auxiliaries

Roman vanguard
The Germans got to deploy hidden with some dummy markers. These are indicated by the squares of paper in the pictures. The Germans would have to reveal and then declare orders, but if they failed their command roll then they`d have revealed themselves but not moved. The Romans, wary of German ambush, are marching ready for battle, so they take the flank attack penalties but still use the clash value of Legionaries rather than a March Column.

Tribesmen wait

Again there was nothing subtle. The Germans charged all their units out in turn one. An ala of cavalry and a couple of cohorts got swept away. The skirmishers all evaded into the center near the mule train.


This is going to hurt...

The Romans held on in a couple of key combats and were able to start grinding back at the Germans.

Holding the line

Roman counterattacks
The initially victorious German cavalry had driven too far into the Roman position and found itself caught front and flank by angry legionaries.

Romans getting flanked
On the Roman left, Robin launched a number of co-ordinated counterattacks, destroying several warbands commanded by his son. But another mass of warriors was able to envelope the Roman left. One cohort was destroyed but the second held on and turned to face. Father and son seemed to enjoy bashing on each other, although dad had to remind offspring about the length of the drive home.

By this time the Germans were pretty disorganized and seriously weakened with a lot of warbands approaching their stamina level. The German chieftains conceded defeat and slunk back into the woods to let the remnants of the legions limp back home. This game was pretty tense right up to the very end and all sides felt that the game could have swung either direction a number of times.

In both battles the standard units had frontages of 80mm. Roman legionaries with 12 figures, cavalry and skirmishers with 6 figures. In the first game I did the German warbands with 24 figures but in the second game I made the warbands the same size as the cohorts. The Germans used a lot of rear support though, effectively making the same sized units as before but with a few more dice. This seemed fair to me if the warband is supposed to represent more men.

Both games were pretty big but went by quickly considering the table talk, looking up rules and explaining points to the novices.