Thursday, June 28, 2012

One for the Colonel! VSF Prussians - a start is made! WIP.

Well after much spouting and pontificating, waving of arms, stamping of feet, and conducting polls, I have finally put paint to model and made a start on my VSF Prussians!

The poll results, along with comments received, supports the portrayal of the Prussians in their traditional uniform of the period circa 1880.

And so I have set to with this scheme in mind. I have got 20 Trooper figures, 3 Officers and 2 Characters on the go at once.

 Humble beginnings so far, with black undercoat, dark grey trousers and a mid blue tunic painted up to now, though one officer has been taken a little further.. The skin tone looks very yellowy in the pictures but that's just the nature of the lighting...

The figures are very nice sculpts, from Paroom station via BrigadeGames in the US. I also like the pose of the troopers, in an 'advance' stance, which suits the skirmish nature of the game. The officers and characters have nicely animated poses too , which befits their nature.

Whilst the Prussian Uniform has come out on top, I still like Rolys idea of the Bavarian light blue uniform and plan to use this for my proposed 'Aeronef-waffe' troops.

I have also been doodling about with ideas for Steam vehicles to add to my infantry, so I'll see what bits and pieces I can source to start making some creations. Watch this space...

PS... anyone got a spare pair of arms! I've got that many projects on the go at once I'm running out of space to have them all part done in their WIP status! ;-)

Bocage - FoW - WIP - Part 1

 With a view to my Normandy campaign gaming I knew at some time I was going to need to make some Bocage hedgerows; giant hedges so big they could hide a tank completely from view!

I recently visited a local 'craft emporium' at a friends suggestion, for a browse, to see what they had in stock, with no real plans to buy anything specific.

I did spot one thing which immediately made me make a grab for them! I think you would call them Wax Applicators. I am guessing they are the sort of thing that those expensives places where our wives go to visit to get their hairy bits de-fuzzed, use to apply hot wax to their clients nether regions!?

Anyway to me they look like giant 'lolly sticks', and since I used regular lolly sticks to  make regular hedges, it seemed logical to use giant lolly stick to make giant hedges ;-)

I think the sticks are roughly 8" long and about 1" wide, and quite slim about 2mm thick.

I dug out some offcuts of dense polystyrene foam and glued roughly 1cm thick strips down the centre of each stick tapering both ends. Some I left a gap to add a gate later.

After this had glued and set, I glued some cheap cat litter down both sides to give a rough sloping rocky feel.

Since this pic I have glued on a layer of modelling railway ballast gravel across the top.

I'll keep you informed of more progress.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Panzer Lehr - Reinforcements - Tank Hunters and Mortars

With the CTA tournament looming closer I had to get a few more bits and pieces finished up, for my chosen force.

I wanted to add some armour to my force of Lehr Panzergrenadiers, and wanted the better armour of the StuG G, over the Panzer IV, however the Lehr company restricts the StuG to its 'Radio Controlled Tank Platoon' in which they come with Borgward demolition carriers... which I did not want to field.

However Lehr can field the Jagdpanzer Tank Hunter, which to all intents and purposes, is identical to the StuG in the game.

Also known and 'Guderians Duck', these tank hunters will do all that the StuG can. To me they look a little like the Jagdpanthers little brother...

Later in the war these were upgraded to the Panzer IV/70, with beefed up frontal armour and a much bigger gun, and stronger front wheels to support this extra frontal weight.

But these Jagdpanzers will suit me fine for now, and give my Lehr forces a little low silhouette mobile anti-tank punch...

Next up a pair of SdKfz 251/7's carrying the 8cm Mortar.

These are being fielded as part of the GPG 'Heavy Platoon', and give me a little extra in terms of options; landing a pinning artillery strike, or dropping some smoke where it might be needed, to help the GPGs in their assault duties...

Finally though not strictly for my Lehr forces, a couple of Kfz 15 Field cars. Again these were grabbed half price from the store closing down sale, and will no doubt come in useful for other mobile German formations where they often serve the purpose of transport for platoon commanders.

Brief Battle Report
Last Friday night I had a game with Paul playing Fighting Withdrawal, with my Lehr GPG force defending against his British Armoured company, as a pre-tournament practice as I had never played this mission scenario before.

My Jagdpanzers were sprung in ambush from a wood against Paul's Recce Stuarts and caused them a degree of grief, though my dice rolling wasn't the best and the Stuarts managed to escape total destruction! The jagdpanzers managed to continue to support their dismounted GPG infantry who were holding the flank objective, though slowly got whittled away, until I successfully withdrew the sole surviving command tank.

Approx turn 2 - Jagdpanzers have moved out from under ranged in artillery
The 251/7's faired less well, being taken out by long ranged tank fire. I had positioned one on the edge an orchard and another alongside a building (hoping to avoid air attack - though Paul had not taken air support). Sadly the one by the building was a clear shot to a Sherman tank, and with their re-rolling missed long range shots, took out both half tracks... next time I'll hide them better.

Lehr Panzergrenadiers deter the Brit Shermans on the right flank
The game came down to the wire as I held on gamely, withdrawing the two flank objectives, hanging on by my fingernails to the central objective, including a counter attack where I mounted up the GPGs and came flying back 'all guns blazing' to assault and shoot up some M10s that had broken through. The CO also arrived from a flank to help the situation... Having rescued the objective, Paul was no longer in a position to capture it, so being a canny player, switched tactic, to kill me and force me to withdraw. This he did by firing everything he had at my CO, who passed everything thrown at him till the last shot possible... then died and failed his warrior save. The 2iC had already died in a prior 'blaze of glory', so that left me with no chance to take a company morale check and I was forced to adversely withdraw on the last turn... a great game which saw us approaching midnight to finish it off, it was that close... and despite losing, again I learned a lot :-)

XXX Corp - Command and Recce

More additions to my XXX Corp force...

Some characterful command elements and much needed reconnaissance.

First up JOE Vandeleur. You can't field XXX Corp without having JOE along too! An amazing character and wonderfully portrayed by Michael Caine in the movie A Bridge Too Far. I found lots of interesting information on 'JOE' on the web, and could have cut and pasted here, but instead I'll let you google his exploits yourself!

Here he is portrayed atop his Humber Scout Car.

JOE gives a force he commands various special abilities reflecting his skill at driving his force along. This gives him rules that are similar to the German 'Stormtrooper' move'. He also improves the short range fire of his tank platoons.

Along for the ride, JOE also has an attached RAF forward air observer, in a White scout car, as seen below.

This allows for greater effectiveness of called in Typhoon air support, including being able to direct air strikes closer in to friendly formations, and a greater chance of 'ranging in' against concealed enemy troops.

The air observer pictured in his blue/grey RAF uniform. I hope I got the colour right? Close enough is good enough I hope. I also tried to get an Allied star decal on the bonnet of the scout car but those raised bumps made it impossible to get the decal to lie flat, even after thorough application of decal softener. He just better make sure he gets the right directions through to those typhoons so they don't hit his own transport!

Next up my much needed reconnaissance...

Two Daimler I's. One command vehicle and second vehicle with Littlejohn adaptor fitted.

Accompanying the Daimler I's are some Daimler Dingos, as below. I know its completely the wrong word to apply to military vehicles, but these things are just 'cute' compared to everything else on the board, and I look forward to seeing them zip about the board, hopefully avoiding everything fired at them...

I fitted the Dingos, with their AA Bren gun, so this gives them a little MG fire should they need to use it.

The main use for these troops though will be ambush avoidance and 'Eyes and Ears'; lifting 'gone to ground' from hiding enemy troops.

Finally, just to continue the Recce theme, these are Humber LRC III's from a pack I got half price from a store closing down sale... sadly they don't directly fit in with my XXX Corp force list, but if I add 3 Humber scout cars then they can then work as a recce platoon for some British Infantry...

These have an oddly quaint look and seem more at home in an "early war" or even pre-WWII era...

So this just about completes my XXX Corp tank company, just got to get that Typhoon painted... no doubt I'll make small additions to it over time too...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A return to VSF!

Many moons ago, four gentleman gamers, (Myself, Roly - Dressing the Lines blog, Joe - Colonel o'Truths Miniatures Issues blog, and 'Notorious Greg' - no blog that I am aware of) got together with the notion of exploring the world of VSF, using the GASLIGHT rules.

More here for a recap...

However, being the eclectic group that we are, much distraction appears to have ensued, as I disappeared off into the 15mm world of WWII gaming with Flames of War, and Roly has been on his Maori Wars odyssey using Sharps Practice. I'm not sure what Notorious Greg has been up to!

Of our quartet, only Joe stayed on target, and over the past 6 months or so has put together an amazing array of VSF scratch built goodness! More can be seen on his blog here:

So, I believe with a view to giving the rest of us a virtual 'thick ear', an impromptu meeting was called at Bowman Towers, where Joe brought all his recent creations for us to drool over, and become suitably inspired once again to get back on target...

Here's a pic of Joe's amazing collection, as Roly looks in amazement, and my son decided to buzz them with his planes. The enigmatic mysterious Notorious Greg can also be seen lurking nearby, minus a head, who is this 'masked man' I hear you ask...?

Roly had actually shown up to grab some dense foam from me to use as a base for his Maori Pa (that means 'fortified village' and not 'father'), the same stuff that Joe has recently used for his river board sections, though Joe had sourced his own.

 So we all ogled Joe's handiwork, and probably all inwardly thought; "Christ, how the hell am I going to top that lot!"...

 Above, Thomas the Tank engine meets Star Wars in a bizarre and suitable VSF twist, whilst below we can see a possible early prototype of the Dreadnaughts of a futuristic period set 40,000 years from now ;-)

 And Gargantua herself, aptly named, this thing is massive! So suitably 'enthused' (read - brow beaten, chastised and sent to the naughty corner!), I promised to make some progress on the VSF world...

 All those months ago I did place an order for the Paroom Station Prussians from BrigadeGames, but they arrived and languished in the 'to do' pile, as mountains of 15mm WWII goodies bypassed them to front of the painting queue...

My current batch of Late War WWII projects are nearing completion, and unless I suddenly feel the need to make an early start on MidWar Desert or Eastern Front stuff, I can take a WWII  break, and have a crack on with these guys below (Don't worry Paul, I will get your Typhoon finished!)

So above is the first start on prep'ing those Paroom station Prussians. I must admit, when they first arrived their rifles were badly bent in the packs, and I was a little concerned they may just snap off as I tried to bend them back into position, but thankfully the quality of this pewter is rather good and they bent back no problem.

The first 12 figures trimmed, filed and glued to 20mm washers.

Now I have another slight dilemma...

I have used the word 'Prussian' a lot and also loosely thrown around the word 'Bavarian' too in connection with my proposed VSF 'dastardly huns'. I had not thought more about it, until several weeks ago, Roly pinged me an email with a specific uniform depiction for the Bavarian army. I had not realised they had a separate army! Of course, 'Germany' of the period was broken into many separate States...

The Prussian uniform would be a mid blue jacket with dark grey pants, whilst the Bavarian uniform, would be a light blue jacket and pants.

I'm undecided which way to go. I still like the idea of the Prussians, but the Bavarians would be a novel twist, and a lot easier to paint up with the airbrush!

I thought I might run a little poll, whilst I trim the remaining figures, to see what opinions are out there on the subject in the blog-o-verse...

 Poll in side bar shortly. Thanks for voting!

Another discussion arose between us all about whats the difference between VSF and Steampunk, and some intersting thoughts and opinions were aired. I asked as I was thinking about making an Aeronef for for my VSF 'huns', but wondered if it would be appropriate for our setting...

I'd welcome your opinions on VSF vs Steampunk, and indeed is there actually any difference or is it just nomenclature???

Monday, June 18, 2012

XXX Corps - Guards Armoured - British Shermans - FoW

I have been working on these tanks for some time now, off and on between churning out the juggernaut that has become my Wehrmacht forces, of which it has been commented, Speer would have been proud of.. ;-)

The ten tanks are from 2 boxes of 5 Plastic Soldier Company, (15mm) Allied Shermans M4A2, which the Brits called the Sherman V.

These ten tanks give me an HQ of two Shermans, plus two platoons of 4 tanks each comprising 2 Sherman V's and 2 Sherman Fireflys, fitted with the British long barreled 17 pdr anti tank gun.

I have matched as best as I can the paint and decal scheme from the Hells Highway Supplement. I ran in to a couple of problems though. These plastic tanks are fractionally smaller than the BF ones, and the decals I have used are left overs from my original BF Sherman boxed set, and a new set of BF British decals I bought ages ago... The rear deck of the firefly hull is some what occluded from view due to the turret extension, and looking in the HH supplement they sported the Allied star on the turret top. The problem here was there was a lot of knobbly little details on the tops of these plastic tanks, which I was not confident the decals would lie smoothly over, even with decal softener.

The other decal problem was that even on the BF Shermans the Regimental markings and Guards markings were a tight fit on the hull front curved housing, and on these plastic tanks that area is even smaller, there was no way the BF decal was going to fit... so I left them off, having to be satisfied with the rear mounted ones only.. But other than the decal hassles I am very pleased with how these have come together and painted up.

I did use some of DOMs decals for the Tank numbers on the rear hull sides.

The Guards, differed from other tank companies, in having their platoon insignia on the hull sides and not on the turrets. So the picture on the cover of the Hells Highway books shows them correctly positioned, but the painted model examples in the books have them wrongly on the turret sides. But its a minor issue really. I'm mentioning it here just in case I get comments stating I haven't put the markings on the turret!

So these Shermans give me the core armoured force, I am busy adding finishing touches to JOE Vandeleur, and his forward air observer, and a Recce platoon consisting of Daimler I's and Dingos. Hopefully they'll feature in blog post soon.

So once XXX Corps is battlefield ready, I may break open that FireStorm Market Garden boxed set for a look see...

Friday, June 15, 2012

Empire of the Dead..., and Depron foam

I have just come across this new game, Empire of the Dead, from West Wind Productions, and couldn't resist ordering a copy from Maelstrom Games...

More here from West Wind's website including a link to a free download of the basic rules and a demo starter scenario involving Jack the Ripper, Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson...

Having read some of the reviews and battle reports in the blog-o-verse, its seems a game right up my (Victorian) street so to speak!

[Spookily enough, I spent most of youth growing up in a Victorian era terrace street, called unsurprisingly "Victoria Terrace"...]

It's a mix of Gothic Horror and Steampunk, in a Brittanic Victorian setting... what a wonderful combination!

I have always been a Gothic horror fan (though am not a fan of this recent craze of modern day lovey -dovey vampire nonsense...), and had long considered buying in to Chaos in Carpathia.

But other games as usual caught my attention or distracted me... I bought the GASLIGHT compendium last year, and though whilst I love the idea of its VSF world, have not done much with it as yet. And shortly after that I started on my current WWII Flames of War journey...

So when I spotted this game, combining Horror and Steampunk/VSF in a skirmish format, and in a gaming style with which I am familiar (it has been likened to the Legends/LOTR series of games), it seemed perfect.

It also brings the chance to getting back to making some 28mm scale terrain, which I always enjoy once I get my teeth into it. (no vampiric pun intended!)

However, one thing perturbed me; how to easily recreate those Victorian streets and all their brick buildings....

I have often seen buildings made from a dense foam sheet, where the brickwork is easily scored in, but I had never been able to find a source for this, what looked like, 5mm sheet. The closest I had come acorss was a 20mm thick sheet from a builders insulation product supplier, but this was still too thick to easily work with for anything but large structures like large castles and ruins made of 'big stone blocks'

Perusing though the Lead Adventure forum, I came across this wonderful thread by Overlord, on his modern day (1970s) themed 'The Sweeney' gaming ideas.

As you can see he has created some wonderful modern style, yet probably harking back to Victorian times, buildings and structures, from this dense foam sheet.

After following back through a link on the first page of this thread, I finally found the name of the product used; Depron foam. A quick google search and lo and behold I find a supplier here in NZ!

The credit card was swiftly reached for and and order placed for some Depron Sheets.

Here's the link. for Kiwi's:

Here's the Depron foam sheet

Depron 5mm foam sheet
Here's a shot from the LAF of Overlords Public House. Clearly this would also work in a Victorian setting and has enthused me to have a go!

'Overlords' Public house from the Lead Adventure Forum
I'll let you know how I get on once the book and sheet arrives.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Normandy Beach - Finished - FoW

I managed to get my Beach terrain finished over the weekend, adding white wave and foam effects using Woodlands Scenics Water Effects mixed with a little white paint. With the retaining MDF strip cut away , I was then able to finish off the board, by edging with the black cloth duct tape.

I did have to use a little more white wave stuff than I wanted to at the shore line as when the main resin layer dried it had split in several places where its layer was thin. To conceal these splits I covered it in the white wave effect mix.

I guess we'll just have to imagine a rough day at the sea, with crashing waves and roaring surf... and from what I have read about the landings, on 6th June '44, the weather was still far from ideal...

Here also you can see the how the seawall sections can be added. They are on lolly (iceblock) sticks (coffee stirrers - call them what you will!) in roughly 6" lengths, so the amount of seawall and where its exit point is, can be varied.

These seawall sections will also nicely conceal the join between the beach section and the main board when placed together, side by side.

So there you have it, the beach is ready for an invasion!

I have ordered some landing craft from Skytrex, some French style buildings from Kerr & King, and have one more bunker to make to complete the defences, a 5cm kwk defilade bunker.

I hope to demo this game at Kapiti Wargames Club exhibition day on 15th July, though I hope to get a practice game in beforehand to see how the beach assault rules work from the D-Day supplement...

Saturday, June 09, 2012

FoW - Operation Sealion - AAR - The Pincer that never was...

Last night Brett, Paul and I played our third game in our Operation Sealion campaign. To set the scene for the report I thought I would briefly recount the prior two games...

Our campaign kicked off a few weeks ago. I'd hoped to launch it as a beach assault scenario, but my beach terrain was not finished in time, so instead we came up with an idea to play a game where the setting for the game was a German panzer force has landed at the beaches with minimal resistance and has pushed inland and is heading to capture a village.

The village was held by a mixed force commandos and paras and Yanks, with Allied forces rushing to help. To hinder this support arriving, German FJs had landed in the Allied rear areas. So we had two games going at once, the main battle and with a smaller side battle.

This was great fun and kept all three players busy, from the start. The mission was thus a variation on Hold the Line/No retreat. As it turned out my small German FJ force didn't have much hope of stopping the reserves arriving but did hinder them enough to delay their arrival, and knock off a few elements. I was very wary of assaulting my panzers into a village held by paras, with gammon bombs and yanks with bazookas, but with a bit goading, and instruction from the more experienced player, I was 'schooled' in how to make a successful assault capture the objective.

 It was very good because I finally got to fully understand the assault phase and the '8" bubble'. So a win for the Germans in Game one.

Game two, saw a German advance to the next village, in which British forces were dug in, this time using the Cauldron scenario. 500 points of Brits had to hold on for 3 turns against an assault by a mechanised armoured infantry company (Panzer Lehr), until Yank armoured reserves arrived to save the day...

I got so enthused by the idea of crushing this meagre force of Brits holding out against me, I ended up stacking nearly all my forces in one quadrant, I was determined to outnumber my enemy somewhere and overwhelm him.

This I did but my troops actually got in each others way, and whilst the assault was successful in capturing one half of the village, I lost the chance to capture both sides at once, which could have been quite possible (another lesson learned). In the end my assault bogged down... a couple of fluffed motivation rolls to unpin etc... It gave the Brits just enough breathing space to hang on, and the Yanks armour arrived to save the day in true cavalry charge style, though it has to be said they got a bit of a shock to start with when all the arriving platoons shots missed, and the return fire from 3 panzer IVs wrecked a platoon of Shermans. But the good luck of the 3 panzers couldn't last and eventually they were overwhelmed.

Another fun game and more stuff learned once more. So allies win Game two.

On to Game three... I had found the opening game (two games in one) very entertaining and decided to replicate this idea.

The scenario was that after their loss the Germans pull back to reorganise their forces. The Allied forces push on to keep the pressure on the Germans, and attack with what forces they have in the area, a Commando Company. The German 'second wave' seeing what happened to their premier Lehr forces in the last battle are a little de-motivated and not first line troops anyway. Brett wanted to try out a force from his new book Blood Guts and Glory, and also for a change of pace wanted to try playing the Germans, so his forces were Reluctant Trained.

I set the main game as Pincer of approx 1200 points each, with a side game of Free for All, of 600 points of armoured forces facing each other, the idea being Allied armoured elements trying an outflanking manoeuvre, running into German armoured elements rushing to aid their beleaguered comrades. The victor of the armoured game would be able to bring what was left of their forces onto the main battle from the turn after they win their side game. So here's some pictures from our game last night.

The side game; 4 Brit Shermans and 2 M10s, vs German armour including cannon halftracks, AA halftracks and Panthers (proxied by Stugs)

The main force deployments pictured from the Allied side. The Germans are actually a mechanised company dismounted and dug in. Technically the Brits should have been defending, but we were playing a scenario for the campaign so anything goes!

Commandos eager for the off...

The stalwart German defenders, this doesn't look much does it? The Allies should brush this aside no problem...

OK first dice roll of the game, things start going wrong for the allies... the wind direction was not in our favour... our smoke and pin idea lost a bit of its umph! But the allies advance as best as they can expecting artillery to start wrecking the German forces. Sadly our naval guns ranged in but missed the panther in the open, and the paras battery did minimal damage to the dug in Germans.

On the side show, M10s deploy...

As do the Brit Shermans, who move up to take some meagre cover from a hedge covering one objective. At this point I went to make some tea... (does that sound British?)...

...when I returned the Panthers had wrecked the platoon, but the last tank passed its motivation!

Now Brett is never one to hold back...even on the defensive... having seen our artillery whiff, and faced with a bunch of fearless veteran troops in the open... he called up his halftracks , remounted and advanced, and deployed his ambushing half track cannon platoon, and let rip... it wasn't pleasant... sadly my Allied para commanders saving rolls for my commando were not the best, and brave men started falling. After this the Allies dug in, hoping to weather the storm of machine gun fire and wait till our artillery changed the course of the battle. The commandos in the marsh failed to dig in repeatedly, obviously the ground was too soft, and they paid the price over subsequent turns...

Back to the side show and the M10s bring the hurt to the German halftracks

Whats left of the marsh dwelling aint looking good...

The panthers, having witnessed naval shells landing all round them, push forward to assault the end of the allied line held by a para platoon.

Back to side show, the Panthers at the double forward to 'claim' the objective, but fall to the M10s who reposition for side shots...

The panthers win the fight, losing one tank...

It was at this point that Brett spotted a crucial problem to our plan; waiting for our artillery to wreck the Germans and allow us to advance... we needed to be beyond the half way point of the board by turn six or we would automatically lose! Paul and I had lost sight of this small detail, and paid the price...

Brett pulled all his forces into line to prevent the Brits advancing. The side show had developed into just that, and wasn't going to influence the main battle either way now.

Paul and I managed one last assault to try and break through on our right flank, and got smoke and artillery to work and managed to attack and wreck some of the German defenders but it was not enough and the counter attacking Germans managed to defuse this thrust.

A last what the hell charge followed up the centre, which was as expected thrown back by defensive fire...

And that was it, the Germans hold on and win.

It is often said in tactical discussion that dice luck should not come into it if you plan correctly. Would somebody tell the dice that. Our artillery was terrible... and the so called 'Reluctant' Germans were anything but, passing nearly all key motivation tests with aplomb and only a few bailed halftracks refused to remount...

Still it was a great fun game, that at times still felt could have gone either way.

I look forward to the next game, getting back to command Panzer Lehr, I need the practice for Call to Arms!
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