Monday 30 December 2019

Plans for 2020

Before I start I should mention there are 2 events which will impact on my wargaming this coming year. From mid February I will be away for 5 weeks. The second, and rather more impactive, is a house move. Assuming we manage to sell our house ok we intend to move before the end of the year. This will severely restrict the gaming side of the hobby although I hope to maintain at least a degree of figure painting. One of the criteria for our new home will be it possesses, or has the potential to possess, a wargames room. So, all being well, normal service should be resumed in due course. It may of course give me the opportunity to experiment with skirmishing in 6mm. Chain of Command on a coffee table looks promising!

My plans therefore will be more modest than usual. As in previous years I will break it down to 3 sections: Battles, Campaigns and Painting/modelling:

Continued -

Saturday 28 December 2019

Review of 2019

Hope you all had a great Christmas. It is that time of year to review my wargaming through 2019. 

What I had not planned at the start of the year was to sell off my entire 15mm collection. This was a time consuming exercise which detracted from my wargaming. Both number of games and figures painted fell short of what I had anticipated.

In looking back over the past year I will refer back to my original plans and examine what has been achieved and what has not. Under each of the three headings, 'Battles', 'Campaigns' and 'Painting', I will add what I have completed but not planned for originally.

On to the review. The text in Italics is taken directly from my original 'Plans 2019' -

Continued - 

Sunday 22 December 2019

On the Workbench: ECW Parliamentarian Cavalry & Dragoons

For the final posting this side of Christmas I present the last of the Parliamentarian cavalry for Glastonbury together with a regiment of mounted and dismounted dragoons.

Within the last couple of days I have started on the last of the Roundhead dragoons and when completed the game will be ready to go.

I did annoyingly discover that although I had enough dragoons to cover the last Roundhead unit a great many were command strips. This left me two strips short of the troopers required. So, although I am progressing painting the final unit, I am awaiting the last 6 figures which have now been posted from Baccus to complete this part of the project.

Before the new year I will be reviewing 2019 which will be closely followed by my plans for 2020. 

In the meantime I wish you all a great Christmas. 

Tuesday 17 December 2019

Blitzkrieg Commander Errata and Polish Ramblings.

I have just spent the best part of 2 days worth of painting figures updating Blitzkrieg Commander IV with both the rules and army lists errata. I nearly lost the will to live!

To cap it all the book began to disintegrate! I have seen comments elsewhere regarding pages coming loose. I feel spiral-bound rules is the way to go these days. They may not look as good on your bookshelves but they are more practical for wargaming purposes. Being able to lie flat on the table and more rugged is ideal for our requirements. 

Errata is frustrating and this is where pdf rules come into their own. I do prefer though the printed variety but acknowledge the ability to download updated rules is more convenient. 

BKCIV gained a good deal of praise for the extensive army lists contained within the rule book which is no small feat for WW2. Here again I do wonder if it would have been more practical to download updated lists printing off only what you require. This exercise though has fired up my interest in getting some WW2 stuff onto the tabletop. 

On the subject of WW2, I recently listened to a podcast interview of Roger Moorhouse, the author of a new book "First to Fight: The Polish War 1939". 

It was a fascinating interview and dispelled the myth that the Poles were reduced to cavalry charges against German armour. This was pure Goebbels propaganda designed to show the Poles as being inferior in every way which has stuck through time. Far from it. The Poles had a professional and reasonably equipped army that was far from the push-over Nazi Germany liked to portray. Had it not been for the Russians stabbing them in the back they would in all likelihood have held out for longer with ramifications for the rest of the war. 

I have yet to buy this book but is very much on my purchase list for the near future. My only concern being that it may will drag me off into another WW2 project!!!

When I was a young boy in the 1960's, a close friend of the family was a Polish ex-servicemen. I only ever knew him as Uncle Woj and although not related he felt like an Uncle to me. His wartime history is mind-boggling. He was an officer in the Polish army when Germany invaded. His home and family were in the area occupied by the Russians. Having fought both the Germans and Russians he became a member of the Polish resistance before being captured by the latter and transported into a POW camp deep in the Soviet Union.

When Russia changed sides they released all the Poles from captivity but provided them with no transport or provisions. Uncle Woj walked across Russia eventually making it to the UK in an emaciated state joining the Free Polish Army. He fondly recalled how some British troops taught him to speak English - but only swear words! He walked into a pub and cheerfully practised his new-found English only to get a thumping for his troubles! 

He went on to fight in Italy being with the first Polish troops to capture Monte-Cassino. He also fought in north-west Europe but my memory is sketchy as to where. Throughout his time in the Free Polish Army, he and his comrades fought for the freedom of their country only for it to be handed into the hands of another tyranny. He never harboured a grudge and I remember him as being one of the nicest mild-mannered men you would ever wish to meet. What he and his mates went through beggers belief. Real heroism rather than the over-hyped word of today. I have memories of him joining in with my early wargaming, consisting of lining up soldiers on the floor and rolling marbles at them. My only regret was that he did not live long enough for me to grow to an age where I could have fully appreciated and taken more interest in what he did. 

And finally on a Polish subject, did any of you watch that dreadful BBC production "World on Fire". I saw the trailers which sparked my interest. WW2, Poland, sea battles, Sean Bean, what's not to like? The opening scene was encouraging with lines of Panzer I's and II's ready to invade. That was the high point! The BBC soaked up Goebbels propaganda and even magnified it. The American journalist reporting back that they were equipped with pedal cycles against armour and scenes of Polish troops taking their own weapons, including shotguns to war. After a couple of episodes I found myself fast-forwarding to action scenes in the vain hope there would be something worth watching.

I got to the Battle of the River Plate. They clearly have learnt nothing from HBO and others on how to create credible and exciting battle scenes. Firstly, HMS Exeter! You really would have thought that it could not have been that difficult to compile a CGI recreation of the actual ship. But no, this is the BBC. The ship they depicted was decidedly weird not helped by poor CGI. I have no idea what it was supposed to be. And then there was the action - confined almost entirely to one of Exeter's turret barbettes. 

I really cannot tell you anything of the story after this as I had given up. It ended in France in 1940 indicating the story will continue in Series 2! I think I will give that a miss. This is a crying shame as I have always thought that the wars we research as part of our hobby are festooned with fantastic stories, larger than life characters and human nature at its absolute best and worst. Indeed, an epic could be made depicting the life of my Uncle Woj!

Thursday 12 December 2019

The Battle of Seven Pines (Fair Oaks) Day 2.

We now move on to Day 2 with the arrival of Hooker's and Richardson's divisions reinforcing the beleaguered Union troops. Both sides lost an equal number of casualties during Day 1 and with half of those returning overnight losses amounted to 106 overall each.

The revised orders of battle for Day 2:

Continued - 

Monday 9 December 2019

On the Workbench: Parliamentarian Cavalry

A quick update on the progress of the ECW project. The first two regiments of Parliamentarian cavalry have been completed. As I mentioned on a previous post, the Roundheads will be outnumbered in the forthcoming battle of Glastonbury. So there will be only 2 more cavalry regiments to paint together with 2 regiments of Dragoons.

The larger regiment is actually made up of three small regiments in the battle. Therefore I have varied the coat colours roughly representing the separate commands. The smaller regiment are equipped with the traditional Roundhead Lobster Pot!

Friday 6 December 2019

New Russian WW2 Project - Reconnaissance in Strength

I have spent the last few days pouring over various scenarios and books seeking a suitable game to kickstart my WW2 Russian front project. As you will have seen, inspired by the new figures from 2D6 Wargaming, I felt that it really was about time I involved myself in some Soviet action. It is one of those theatres of war that I have always intended to play, but apart from a brief foray almost 50 years ago using Airfix figures, it never made it to the tabletop.

The criteria I used to select the scenario was that it was not just to be interesting and fun to play, but also with orbats where I could use the goodies being produced by 2D6 and also the new sculpts from Heroics & Ros. I did not want to be in the position of waiting for months, if not years, for the required figures and vehicles to be available (yes H&R do just about everything but many of their products have yet to be updated).

Having gone through my collection of books including some great scenarios in the Rapid Fire Scenario book 3, as well as the extensive scenario listings in Panzer Grenadier (thanks Kevin), I struggled to find what I was looking for.

I then had that Eureka moment. A book caught my eye on my bookshelves that I have used far too rarely over the years. The excellent "Programmed Wargames Scenarios" by Charles Grant.

It contains a mini-campaign "Reconnaissance in Strength" which fits the bill and should be great to play. This book is tailored for solo-play and I could foresee it being ideal to report in a fun way on my blog.

Jack Diomede did an ACW version of this campaign a couple of years ago on his Tabletop Commanders blog and can be found here

Jack showed the versatility of 6mm in that each table was just 17" x 17"! If you really are pushed for space this shows what can be achieved in this scale.

For my game though each table will be much larger. I have yet to determine the precise dimensions but want it to be sufficient for each table to present a decent challenge to a WW2 force.

These are the 10 tables to be reconnoitered by the Russians. Tables 3 - 9 are randomised. The maps in the book provide the basic topographical features allowing the gamer to add any detail necessary for the period wargamed. I will probably add quite a few features and terrain details to provide cover and interest.

The basics of the scenario are that several Russian reconnaissance in strength forces explore various mountain passes in preparation for a major offensive. This is one such pass representing a long valley in which they must travel.

In my game I will play the Russians with an AI opponent playing the Germans defending the valley. My force will be based around a motorised infantry brigade accompanied by a medium tank battalion along with various supports including artillery and recce units. The way I intend to report the action on my blog will be through my eyes as the Russians tentatively advance along the valley not knowing what they face.

I will go into more background detail when the campaign starts proper. My order has gone into 2D6 and it will be a small matter of painting the goodies before I start!

I am conscious that this is yet another project. In order to avoid spreading myself so thin that nothing ever gets done, I will be limiting the number of projects to those already listed in the "My Collections and Projects" tab above. This mean that something has to give. Sorry to say for those lovers of the 2mm scale, I will have to mothball that one for now.

As with my other projects, I will periodically report on my preparation progress and I have created a label "WW2 Recce in Strength" for ease of accessing the relevant posts.