Saturday 30 June 2012

Talking Bull

To try out Battle Cry (on the day it arrived if you please!) I set up the first scenario in the book - First Bull Run.  Or, as it was presumably called at the time 'Bull Run.'
I used the game's board and terrain features but rather than break out the (20mm-ish) plastic toys which were included with the game, I opted to use my 2mm (Irregular Miniatures) toys.  These are mounted on 3cm frontages so they fitted into the gameboard hexes.  My 2mm armies were intended to serve in a number of 19th Century wars and are painted dark blue (with pale blue flags) and pale grey (purple flags).
The armies deployed for action - Yankees at the top and Rebs below.  The terrain includes a ridgeline in front of the Reb line and a wood on each flank.  There is a smaller hill in front of the Yankee right.
Hunter, the Yankee general prepares to confront the enemy.
Jackson led the Reb centre
Stuart (bottom) leads a flanking cavalry action - the dice indicate that he has just wiped out an enemy infantry unit.  Yee-har!
The 'Hit and Run' card is ideal for cavalry raids.  Stuart was desperate to overrun the Bluebellies' artillery.
A US infantry unit under pressure!  The dice caused another casualty (from the 3 they had left to take) and two retreats.
One of Stuart's cavalry regiments gets blown away by the US artillery.
Just when things were looking good got the Rebs disaster struck!  There lies Jackson like a blob of lead. 
Mid-game overview.  Stuart has eliminated the US guns (left) but the Yanks are advancing rather menacingly in the centre.
Despite some fortification work, the Yanks clear the ridge of defenders.
The game ended with the Yankees in control of the ridgeline but the Rebs clinched a narrow victory by trampling over a couple of units in the right.
So a solo game but despite my pro-Reb bias the Yanks damn nearly won!  That speaks volumes about the quality of the basic game system.  Next time I will try out Bob Cordery's idea for solo games.

Friday 29 June 2012

Battle Cry!

It took me a while to order this game, but having enjoyed it's derivatives - Command & Colours (Ancients and Napoleonics) it seemed a reasonable purchase. My knowledge of the ACW is to say the least somewhat scanty, but it is nevertheless a conflict which interests me. Apart from a bit of tinkering with Richard Brook's Terrible Swift Rules in the past few years, my exposure to ACW games was mostly in the 1980s with messers Robertson, Jenkins and Munro at the Perth club.
My copy was obtained (at Bob Cordery's recommendation) from Games Lore and arrived swiftly and in perfect condition.  As wells as the rules and game board, the large box contains terrain hexes, playing pieces (20mm scale plastic figures) and specially marked dice.
Within a few hours of it's arrival I had the box open and a game underway.  More on that to come soon...

Tuesday 26 June 2012

Pachyderm down!

On Saturday Len Cooksey ( visited and between peering into various boxes of toys I managed to distract him with a game.  I had set up Bagradas 253BC for Command & Colours and offered Len the choice of sides.  Possibly prompted by the preponderance of pachyderms he opted to command the Carthaginians.  He thus represented one Xanthippus, a Greek mercenary general employed in desperation by Carthage when the s**t seemed to have well and truly hit the fan.  With all those elephants that must have been messy.
All the toys were from my 25mm collection including these time-travelling Sassanid elephants.
I took the role of Regulus commanding a Roman army.  Historically the Romans given a good kicking and the few survivors were traumatised by the disciplined Roman units being overrun by the enemy elephants.  No pressure then.
The initial setup - Romans at the top.
The game opened with various skirmishers running about between the armies.
The Roman (this and all further photos taken from the Roman side) light cavalry - outnumbered 2:1 by their Cartho counterparts - looked apprehensive.
Sure enough, the enemy light cavalry were soon galloping about making a nuisance of themselves.
My skirmishers had the worst of the opening engagements but Len's cavalry didn't seem to fancy tangling with the legions.  And yes, I know the Romans are from a later period but they're Romans, and that's good enough for me!
I at last managed to get the main Roman line moving - which rather dampened the enthusiasm of the enemy skirmishers.
As the Romans advanced the question in the ranks was "what are these big smelly grey things?"  That'll teach Len not to sit with his feet on my table.
This was the point at which Regulus was anticipating (at best) a difficult session in the Forum and all three nellies closed in for the kill...
However in an outbreak of uncharacteristically good dice-rolling, I managed to drop one elephant...
...and then the other two!  This certainly changed the look of the battlefield.  Much rejoicing in the ranks and elephant steaks for tea!
On the left I sent forward my cavalry - fully aware that I was risking them in order to clinch an overall victory.
On the right my cavalry were also in action and finally managed to wear down their opposite numbers.
Finally, on the left, the demise of the enemy medium cavalry sealed the Roman victory!  My thanks to Len for an entertaining game.

Flying Donkeys

These 1/144 scale Polikarpov I-16s are metal single-piece castings by True North.  The I-16 seems to have attracted a surprisingly large number of nicknames - Spanish Nationalists called it 'Rata' (Rat), the Republicans knew it as 'Mosca' (Fly), to the Finns it was 'Siipiorava' (Flying Squirrel) and Soviet pilots called it 'Ishak' (Donkey).  So take your pick.
The I-16 was in service with Soviet forces from the mid-1930s and also saw service with a number of other countries, including China, Spain and Finland.  The last Spanish I-16s were retired as late as 1952!
The models were cleaned up and then spray painted light grey before being brush painted and varnished. The markings were sourced from my decal box.

Monday 25 June 2012


Given my heavy investment in 20mm WW2 Romanians, I was very pleased to find this model in production.  It is a single-piece metal casting by True North.  The IAR 80 was an indigenous Romanian design which entered service in 1940 and 66 were on strength on the eve of Operation Barbarossa. 
The numbers and crosses are decals which were also sourced from True North, though I opted to paint on the tail stripes.  This expands my Forţele Aeriene Regale ale României (Royal Romanian Air Force) to five models!

Saturday 23 June 2012

Repeated Russian reorganisations - or Slowly sorting Soviets

As part of my tidying up process after the recent 'Krisis at Kharkov' game (see many earlier posts...), I took the opportunity to sort out my 20mm Soviets.  The photo above shows some of the toys scattered across my table as I sort units (tank, mechanised and artillery corps) into boxes.
I also tinkered with the Rifle Corps boxes and expanded most to four divisions each, along with artillery, AT and engineer units.  Not all of these assets will neccessarily be deployed in games.
One of the corps so expanded was the Wellingrad Militia Rifle Corps - rewarded as it fought well during the Kharkov operation.
The Wellingrad Militia Rifle Corps as it now appears - 4 rifle divisions, 2 light artillery (76mm) regiments,
1 AT regiment (57mm guns), 1 AT Rifle regiment, transport column (a rare lorry!), HQ and commissar. 

Friday 22 June 2012

Conference of Wargamers 2012

I have now compiled the programme and timetable for COW, and once printed they will be posted out to attendees next week.  They can also be downloaded from the 'Downloads' section on this blog (top right).
Knuston Hall viewed from the fields.  Photo from the Knuston Hall website.

Thursday 21 June 2012

Breda Ba.65

This was built from a Fairy Kikaku (no really!) resin kit bought from HLJ in Japan.  A fairly basic kit, it went together quite well after cleaning off a fair bit of flash.  The paint job was complemented by some markings from the decal box - the markings in the kit looked a bit rough.
Designed for the ground attack role, the Ba.65 was quite an important aircraft, seeing service during the Spanish Civil War and WW2.  As well as serving with the Regia Aeronautica, some were sold abroad - Portugal, Chile and Iraq.  Apparently it did quite well in Spain - one shot down a Republican SB-2 - but like at lot of Italian kit, the Breda was somewhat past it's best by the time it encountered 'proper' opposition over North Africa.
I first came across the Breda 65 at an impressionable age in one of the splendid (for the time at least) Purnell 'Specials':

At around £8 (1,000 Yen) this isn't a cheap kit, but then nor is it prohibitively pricey.  The same company makes a selection of other unusual aircraft, including the He112 and Myrsky.  Tempting.
At last my Italians have a ground attack capability - my Brits are trembling. With silent laughter.
Incidentally, I came across this film clip showing Ba.65s in action over Spain, complete with excitable commentary. 

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Clobbered by Canadians at Carpiquet

This was a game run by Martin using his 15mm toys and the Memoir '44 game system.  The scenario saw a scratch force of Germans trying to stem the Canadian advance north of Carpiquet in 1944.  All photos taken from the German side of the table.   John commanded the Canadians.  The photo above shows the opening positions on right flank, with the left below.

The game opened well, with a long range shot from one of my Panthers (I think of them as companies) hitting this Sherman.
Sadly there were many more Shermans.  Many, many more...  They soon did away with my garrison in the village.
My Panthers looked rather menacing atop the ridgeline - but were magnets for Canadian AT shells.
A price was extracted however.
On the left, my Panzer IV dealt with a stray Sherman.
Another photo of the smouldering Sherman.  This was the high point of the game for me.
A lucky long range PIAT shot did away with the Panzer, and I was hampered by cards which mostly activated units in the (empty) centre sector.  It made a change from the dice being against me...
The end is nigh.  The Germans' last chance perishes.  What a rotten game!

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Krisis at Kharkov - part 8 - Faces of battle

The best of the remaining photos from Kharkov now, including the Soviet commander's situation map.  Nothing has been heard of Gen Wallmanski since the battle, leading observers to believe that he accepted his Commissar's 'invitation' to join the Southwestern Front combined clog dancing and mine clearing team...
Happy German general.  Photo by Jim Wallman

(soon afterwards) Sad German general.  Photo by Jim Wallman.

General Mouatski watches his troops advance.  Photo by Jim Wallman.

General Wallmanski's situation map.  All clear?  Good. 

The Soviet award stars system is believed to be similary to that used by McDonalds....
Don't worry, the Sovs aren't going soft - the medics are only there for the horses!  Photo by Tom Mouat

Players assemble for the post game analysis.  Photo by Tom Mouat.

Colonel General Wallmanski makes his excuses.  Photo by Tom Mouat.