Thursday, 22 April 2010

August 1914 - The battle of Stalluponen (again)

Over the weekend of Triples I was joined by Wayne Thomas and on Friday evening we played the Stalluponen scenario which I had previously run through as a solo game.  As befitted our relative abilities Wayne commanded the efficient Germans and I the bungling Russians.  The photos below are all taken from the Russian side of the table. 

Initial dispositions were similar to the previous game and the forces nearly identical.  I say nearly because the Russians (by virtue of drawing a red card) benefitted from a howitzer unit to bolster their artillery strength.  The first photo shows the situation at the end of turn 1.  Stalluponen (and the Germans) is near the top of the frame.

Turn 2 ended with all of the Russian infantry halted and deployed, awaiting the German onslaught.  The Germans meanwhile, are already beginning a flanking manoeuvre.

At the end of turn 3 the Russians have tried digging in, though with very limited success (clearly the ground is hard in August...)  The Germans are now all deployed and look rather menacing!

The Russians have largely abandoned digging and pushed forward to meet the German attack.  One Russian brigade is pushed back but it's chums take revenge on the lead German brigade (which has by now lost 75% of it's strength).

A series of flanking attacks have by now left both sides worn out and the Russian right wing has pulled back to consolidate.  Although the Germans were the first to test for exhaustion, it is the Russians who become exhausted first and begin their flight to the border.  All in all a close run and very enjoyable game.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Triples 2010 part 2

Another participation game I spotted at Triples and which i feel is particularly worthy of a mention was the Ambush Alley game involving British troops and Taleban forces in Afghanistan.  The game was run by Richard Holden who is running it at a number of events to raise funds for The Royal British Legion.  Richard's website is here: - please visit the site and make a donation.

Richard has kindly sent me two photos of the game in progress.  It used 20mm toys.  It is pleasing to be able to report that the publishers of the rules not only supported with copied of rules etc, but also made a cash donation.

While chatting to Richard on Sunday morning at Triples he mentioned that one of their most memorable players had been a serving soldier recently returned from a tour in Helmand.  Interestingly he opted to play the Taleban.  Unluckily for him, the Brits (played by his father) made some amazing die rolls and wiped the floor with him...

WD at Sheffield Triples

Last weekend saw the first outing of 'The End', WD's new participation game.  

Triples was a great success at it's new venue (the English Sports Institute) which was much more spacious and accessible that the Octagon.. The show now has room to grow, and I look forward to more games and traders next year (21st May 2011).

Moving on to the game, I commented on the finishing of the toys a couple of weeks ago, and I now reproduce the briefing below:

Berlin May 1944.

Has it really been four years since the Wehrmacht’s last victory?

The heady days of success in Poland and France seem so long ago.

Stalingrad was ours, Leningrad and Moscow seemed to be within our grasp, but now?

We lost heavily at Kursk and are not capable of mounting a serious attack against a formed Allied defensive front.

The Soviets are massed along the Dneiper, the Allies are in Italy and about to cross the Channel and the bombers, the relentless stream of bombers...

You have been promised Vonder Waffen to stem the tide but will they arrive in time and will they work?

Yet there is still hope! The Wehrmacht has demonstrated time and time again that we are still able to fight mobile battles against enemy breakthroughs and defeat their exposed forces with counterattacks.

You are in command of the German Armed Forces, starting in June 1944. Your aim is to prolong the war beyond its historical end point, May 1945. The Army is unable to successfully attack static enemy fronts, but each month the Allies will attack in a number of sectors. You will have forces to counterattack and defeat these operations.

Allocate these forces wisely, as if Berlin falls, Germany loses. The forces available will vary from month to month, and these may be supplemented by prototype wonder weapons, but there is no guarantee the new weapons will work properly.

The Allied forces will advance at different rates in different sectors, and some are easier to defeat than others.

The map was based on a design by Jim Wallman and was scaled up and printed onto fabric by Matlock Media.

WD Display Team North draws your attention to our supporters:
Wargame Developments

Wargame Developments (WD) is a group of like-minded wargamers who are dedicated to developing wargames. It is a non-commercial organisation, and its aims are:

 To provide a forum for the exchange of new ideas and concepts.

 To develop both new and existing methods of recreating military conflicts.

Wargame Developments was founded in 1980, and since then it has pursued its aims in several different ways. These include:

 Running an annual conference (COW - the Conference Of Wargamers).

 Publishing a regular journal (The NUGGET) that is sent to all members nine times per year.

 Putting on participation games at major wargames shows in the UK in order to demonstrate the sort of developments in wargaming that are being undertaken by members of WD.

 Supporting groups of members who work together to develop particular ideas and concepts (e.g. Megablitz (Operational level rules for 20th Century warfare) and Matrix Games).


Tel: 01629 734826 Fax: 01629 732994 Email:

Matlock Media offers high-resolution photo-quality large format digital colour printing on an Epson CF1000 and Agfa Sherpa printers with water and UV resistant Inks and can print up to 62 inches wide with amazing detail and sharpness on a range of papers and canvas.


Megagames are large games involving teams of players. The subject matter ranges from politics, economic, history, even science fiction and fantasy. Much of what goes on might be described as roleplaying - though there is also a large element of problem solving, strategy, negotiation - and of course, humour.


Wargames Emporium
Orchard Square
S1 2FB
0114 275 4826

The Sheffield store is located in Orchard Square, in the Heart of Sheffield, up in the craft shops. The store stocks a wide range of products for all your gaming needs, ranging from GHQ to Essex Miniatures, Games Workshop to Peter Pig to name a few, also stockists of Osprey books, Miniature paints, Scenery and Dice.

Monday, 12 April 2010

August 1914 - The Battle of Stalluponen

This was the first battle to be fought between the German and Russian armies on the Eastern Front during the Great War. As the Russians crossed the border into East Prussia General von Francois the commander of the German I Corps launched an unauthorised attack intended to drive the Russians back into Poland. 

After some success and the capture of 3,000 prisoners, von Prittwitz (the commander of VIII Army) feared that Francois's corps could be encircled and ordered him to fall back on Gumbinnen.
Below: the town of Stalluponen (from the Irregular 2mm terrain range)

Below: The armies deploy.  Stalluponen and most of German I Corps is towards the bottom of the table.
I Corps ready to march out to meet the Russians.

Russian III Corps crosses the border.

Turn 1: both sides advance, while the German detached brigade (right) is recalled.

Turn 3: The Russians have begun to deploy (in turn 2).  On Turn 3, the German detached brigade draws a club so is unable to move.  The stationary Russian brigade (second from right) begins to take root (indicated by the placing of the MG stand).

German artillery.  Field guns on the left (with 2 gunnery points) and howitzers on the right.

Still in turn 3, the Russians concentrate 2 brigades against a single German brigade but roll appalling dice (low rolls are good).  Meanwhile the Germans inflict a Rusian casualty.

Turn 4: The German detached brigade draws another club (no graduates of the staff college here!).  The Russian main force launched an ill advised and costly assault on the German line.  The Germans then roll round the Russian flank and their assault is shot in by all of the corps artillery.  The Russians pass their first exhaustion test.  Meanwhile the central Russian brigade has dug in.

The dug in Russian brigade.
The Germans are now able to concentrate against the exposed Russian flank.
Finally, as their line disintegrates the Russians fail their exhaustion test and pull back across the border.

All in all a broadly historical outcome.  A rerun of Gumbinnen will (hopefully) follow in a couple of weeks.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Great book and a great bargain.

I have just finished reading 'With the German Guns - Four Years on the Western Front' by Herbert Sulzbach.  (Pen & Sword reprint 2003 - ISBN 1 84415 019 4) 

I picked this up last year and finally started to read it last weekend.  The fact that I have finished it already says much about it's readability.

The book is essentially the author's diaries written for the folks back home and thus does not burden the reader with an excess of military technology.  Sulzbach, a 19 year old volunteer at the outbreak of war comes across as a thoroughly decent chap and seems to retain a remarkable positive outlook until the very end of the war.

To add further spice to the story it is worth bearing in mind that although the test does not cover his post WW1 career (but there is a useful biographical note), Sulzbach was forced to flee his homeland in the 1930s (he was Jewish) and was eventually to serve in the British Army in WW2.

And now to my bargain of the week.  While looking for something else entirely on Amazon the other day (actually an electric shaver for my still hospitalised father) I cam across the DVD boxed set of the splendid 'The World at War' series.  I recall this being screened in the early to mid 1970s on Wednesday nights and clearly, 35 years of wargaming later, I must acknowlege that it made a deep and lasting impression.  Anyway, you want to know how much it was!  35 hours on 11 DVDs (the original 26 episodes, 8 specials and a 3 hour 30th anniversary DVD) cost me only £17.99.  Oh yes.  I'll let you all know how well it holds up when I've had a chance to watch a few episodes.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Great War Russians finally painted!

Yes it's true - my Irregular 6mm Russian infantry have finally (after only 20 years) seen the dangerous end of a paintbrush.  Inspired by the successful test of Richard Brook's OP14 rules (see previous post) I painted 2 Corps-worth of infantry (sounds good when put that way!) over the Easter weekend.  I had primed the figures with matt black spray paint a few years ago so the process which actually only took about 4 hours of painting time consisted of:
1. dry-brush on the green uniform colour
2. pick out rifles in brown, swords in silver etc
3. dots of flesh colour for faces and hands
4. oil wash
5. glue onto card bases
6. light drybrush in pale sand
7. flock bases
8. paint edges of bases
9. spray matt varnish
10. apply magnetic square (vistually all my toys get this treatment)

Below is a Russian infantry brigade.  The bases are my standard (for leg infantry) 3x3cm.

Next up is the Corps commander with a rather flashy motor car.  Watch out come the Revolution!

No Russian army is complete without cavalry...

Finally the Corps artillery with a stand of field guns (left) and howitzers.  I have ordered more Russians, together with Austrians  and some other bits and pieces which I'll collect from the Irregular chaps at Triples.  Let's hope it won't take another 20 years for this lot.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

The Battle of Gumbinnen 1914

This game was a try-out of Richard Brooks's 'OP14' rules which he recently sent me.  These are designed to handle operational level battles in WW1.  Richard uses 15mm toys on an offset squared grid but I decided to use my existing 6mm Irregular Miniatures toys on my Hexon terrain. 

The Battle of Gumbinnen took place on 20 August 1914 and involved a German attack on Russian forces advancing into East Prussia.  In OP14, each hex is 2km across and a brigade consists of 4 stands of 6mm toys.  I decided to represent the sector of the front occupied by the German I and XVII Corps and the opposing Russian XX and III Corps.  The photo below has Gumbinnen and the Germans to the bottom (West).  The pale brown lines are roads, the black a railway line.  This photo show the situation in mid-morning as the opposing forces came into contact.

While my Germans are genuine, the 'Russian' infantry are in fact British.  My Russian infantry are as yet unpainted but I only bought them 20 years ago so I don't like to rush them...

Here we see the German I Corps (2 divisions and artillery) wheeling to face the advancing Russians.
This is the German right wing engaging a Russian Brigade.

Seen from the Russian side with Gumbinnen on the road junction.  By now (late morning) the Russian left has stopped the German advance but the Russian attack has stalled.  On the right the German I Corps continues to press the Russians but is itself on the brink of exhaustion.

The Russian left again.  The Germans have lost an entire division.
Seen from behind the German right, the Russians begin to crumble.

I am still far from clear about some aspects of the rules, but I always feel that playing adds more to understanding then reading!  I felt that this game went well and I plan to research additional scenarios.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Terrible Swift Rules - the rules

Further to my recent post about the ACW game Martin and I played with my 2mm toys, I have been in touch with the author of the rules, Richard Brooks. Richard has kindly given me permission to reproduce his rules here, Please respect Richard's intellectual property if you wish to make use of the rules.

I have included some notes in italics to illustrate the modifications I made for use with the 2mm toys.


by Richard Brooks

SCALE: 6cm square (7.5cm squared grid ) to 1000 yards, i.e. rifle musket range/Divisional front;
Divisional manoeuvre/combat unit (Divn):
2 figures ( 1 x2mm strip ) (on 30mm base) to 1500 men i.e. a Brigade;
1 (or two) gun model and 2 gunners per Artillery Battalion;

TIME: 1 turn to 60 minutes. At start of play dice for:
1) Start time = AD+5 (0700-1000hrs)
2) Dusk = D8: 12=1600; 34=1700; 56=1800; 78=1900hrs
NB: Daylight turns include dusk. After dusk resolve existing Combats, without initiating new ones.

1) Offset Squared board 10 rows across by 15 deep.
2) Clapboard liquor store 2 or 3 squares from the CSA baseline; the US objective.
3) At least two dozen trees to create areas of forest across the US line of march.
4) Two or three hills at least three squares by four with impassable cork peaks.

1) Orbats vary and should be concealed from the enemy:
a) CSA: 2-6 Divns each of 2-5 Brigades.
b) USA: 4-9 Divns each of 2-4 Brigades.
2) Each side has a set of force markers (FMs) to represent actual and possible Divn locations, identifiable as Decoys or Divns only from their rear edges, as follows:
USA(Blue) CSA(Grey) Identification
a) Infantry: 4 3 XXX
b) Infantry with artillery: 5 3 XAX
c) Decoys: 8 10 Blank
NB: Identification underlined when in column: invert FMs to indicate forming line.
3) On contact Divns roll AD for Brigades present: CSA=score; USA 2=2; 5=4; else=3

INITIAL SET-UP: Each side draws 12 FMs blind for the number of actual Divns and Decoys. Place them on the board in two echelons:
a) First 8 FMs drawn: 2 squares from their own baseline.
b) Last 4 FMs drawn along their baseline.
NB: Arty begins the game with a Divn, but may move independently once deployed.

1) Column of March: Initial formation during approach to contact, one Brigade behind another. Never enter enemy adjacent squares in column.
2) Fighting Line: 1-3 lines of 1-2 Brigades each, all in the same square, except large Divns (4-5 Brigades) may spread out to defend 2 adjacent squares. Take a whole turn to regroup in same square.
NB: Change formation before/after movement, not during.

TURN SEQUENCE: Each turn move both sides together as follows:
1) Activation: Place face-up playing card by each Divn/Arty Battn/FM not whupped or currently engaged in Combat.
2) Initiative: Roll AD (+2 after Dusk; CSA -1): Invert all cards=<="">
3) Play each unit in turn, choosing the lowest card still to play:
a) Rally, Move or Conduct Reconnaissance, and replace card in the pack OR:
b) Invert card to show unit standing or entrenching (if in line).
-- Jokers allow play at any point in the turn. Aces count low.
-- Equal face value: move USA before CSA; less significant units before more.
c) Contact: when the unit currently in play moves into a square adjacent to one or more enemy units, stop and remove or deploy undeclared FMs as indicated below: Tim's note: Richard uses a table here which I found rather confusing. Basically use common sense and reveal blinds when a real unit appears in an adjacent square.
4) Return to (3) if cards still unplayed.
5) Conduct Bombardments and Combats between hostile units in adjacent squares.
6) End turn: place Entrenchment Markers, register time, collect cards and reshuffle. Return to (1).

1) Roll D6 per Divn/FM/independent Arty Battn: +2 Columns of March
2) Use 2 points to move 1 square. Modify movement cost per square as follows:
-1 Entering Woods; Crossing contour; Entrenched; Line changing front 45o;
-2 Changing formation/unlimbering Arty; Line changing front 90o
NB: Arty can move and fire, but never enters enemy adjacent squares. Infantry attacking with Arty drops off the guns before moving into contact, so attacking Arty fires at two squares range. Defending Divns deploy their guns in the same square as the infantry, and fire at one square range.
3) Divns may move through Decoys, but not other Divns, except whupped Divns retiring through supports, who lose their next movement.
4) Units turn to face their expected target during Movement, not during Combat

RALLYING SHOOK UP TROOPS: Roll D6 >= 3: -1 in woods; per 1/6 lost.

RECONNAISSANCE: To identify a non-adjacent enemy FM as a Decoy or Divn, a Divn or FM representing a Divn rolls D6 (+1 uphill) >= twice the range in squares.

1) Units in Line that do not Move or engage in Combat (i.e have a face down card at the turn end) may place a thin twig entrenching marker (EM) across their front.
2) If attacked roll D6=56 to count as entrenched: +1 CSA; 2 EMs; in woods
3) Remove Trenches and EMs when the entrenching unit moves off.

1) Arty engages in normal Combat in self defence, or (during daylight) fires Bombardments in support of friendly units.
2) Bombarding Arty rolls D6 (CSA)/D8(USA) +1 Uphill/enfilade fire: Score >= twice the range in squares to deduct 1 from the target’s Combat die rolls. Do not engage targets beyond wood or hill crest squares.
3) Early rifled guns had a curved trajectory like howitzers, so Arty Battns may engage targets over intervening friendly units on the flat.

COMBAT: occurs between adjacent hostile units as follows:
1) Roll AD per Divn/Arty Battn (not firing bombardments), modified as follows:
+1 Fresh troops; Entrenched (not vs Flank Attack);
Standing Charge (i.e. face down card and enemy entered adjacent square);
-1 Under Bombardment or Oblique Attack; Shook Up; after Dusk;
- 2 Under Flank Attack
2) Multiply modified Combat die roll by number of figures:
x2 Gunners in self defence; x ½ firing at 45o to own front; Column of March.
3) Aggregate scores where several units attack one.
4) Compare totals for each opposing group of units:

Result: Action:
Beaten 3-to-1: Whupped: leave field at 2 squares/turn; Arty overrun
Beaten 3-to-2: Already Shook Up: Whupped as above
Else Shook Up: Beaten side suffers Loss
Else: Exchange Fire: Both sides suffer Loss

LOSS: Divns in Combat lose 1 figure per turn per enemy Divn engaged:
x ½ if entrenched – Roll D6=123 to confirm kills.

GENERAL RETREAT: Declare General Retreat to preserve the army from disaster:
1) Move any/all units 2 squares per turn towards own base line, regardless of initiative, until they have left the field. Once retreating units may not stop.
2) General Retreat cannot be reversed. No friendly forces (figures or FMs) may advance towards the enemy.

The End...

...don't worry - I'm still here.  'The End' is the name of this years Wargame Developments (North) participation game.  This will have it's public debut at Triples in Sheffield on 17 and 18 April and will also appear at Partizan, Partizan II and CoW.  It is also possible that we may attand one or two additional shows.  A fuller report on the game will follow later in the year.

The End deals with the final year of WW2 from the German point of view.  It lasts 15 minutes.  The single player must do his best to deal with Allied advances.  To simplify things the forces involves have been abstracted into 6 'fronts'.  Three of these are in the east, 1 in Italy/the Med and 1 in NW Europe.  The final 'front' represents the US and British bombing offensive.

As usual this is a co-operative effort.  Jerry Elsmore is producing the map (after an original by Jim Wallman) and rules; Martin Rapier has provided some historical research and John Armatys has drafted some posters and badges.  My responsibility has been to produce the toys which I am happy to report are now complete!

Below is one of the eastern 'fronts'.  The toys are sealed in clear plastic cases partly for safety and ease of handling and partly to reinforce the fact that they are simply playing pieces. All the toys in this photo are by GHQ.

As well as the 'fronts' listed above, the game also offers players the chance to deploy 'Vonder Waffen' which will alter tthe course of the war.  Maybe.  Here we have 'New Anti-Tank Weapons' in the shape of a pair of Waffenträger I / Pak 43, also by GHQ.

The other Vonder Waffen include Super Heavy Panzers, Jet Bombers and as below, Flying Bombs.  V-1 by Raiden Miniatures, Opel bowser by C in C.  Launch ramp from scrap balsa.  Many of the toys used have been provided by Wargames Emporium in Sheffield ( ) who after much nagging by me now carry the complete GHQ and C in C ranges.