Wednesday, 25 May 2016

The Great War AAR: 1st July 1916 Hawthorn Crater

On Sunday Ninjasaurus Rex and I played another game of The Great War. As it is nearly the 100th anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme, we played the scenario based on the attempted capture of the mine crater at Hawthorn Ridge. It also happens that this spot is my favourite part of the Somme battlefield; I took this picture looking back from the Hawthorn crater, over the British front lines:

The scenario was based on 29th Division's assault on the crater left by the mine explosion, but despite destroying the position, the German defence was strong enough to stop the attack. Also included in the scenario is the sunken lane, which was the jumping off point for the 1st Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers, whose attack was stopped by German machine gun fire and an area of dead ground that had not be recognised before they attacked. 

The game was set up, I took the British attackers and Ninjasaurus took the German defences. Both of us had to gain six victory points to win. Note the cat trap in the top right corner, an empty box is an excellent way of making sure she didn't walk all over the board mid-game...

In my initial moves I took control of the lip of the crater, which dominated the centre of the board. It also gained me a victory point for its capture.

The Germans began moving reinforcements forward to deal with the threat, including a machine gun and mortar on their right flank.

Using an artillery bombardment card, I started shelling the German rear areas, it didn't have much effect, but kept their heads down a little.

Meanwhile, in the centre, I started inching my forces forward to consolidate the crater position, things were hotting up in this sector.

Using a Rush and Rotation card, I was able to storm forward with the infantry I had in the front lines still and most of the crater was in my hands.

There was a lot of fighting on the back edge of the crater as my infantry crested the lip and exchanged fire with the Germans in the support trenches.

I destroyed his mortar and machine gun on the left flank and overran the German front lines, gaining me more victory points!

I had broken into his front line in the centre and was making mincemeat of this forces, however, I was denied victory this turn as the last victory point I needed eluded me! I just couldn't destroy one more unit!

Suddenly, German counter battery fire opened up and was very accurate on the sunken lane!

It was incredibly deadly and I lost quite a few casualties taking his victory total to four.

The next turn proved to be mine though, I destroyed three more units and got the final points I needed to win. The British infantry had won the day with determination, good dice rolls and lucky cards!

It was a very bloody fight, judging by the casualties incurred by both sides and the Germans put up a stiff resistance.

My forces did much better than their historical counter-parts, I think a lot of the victory was gained due to unfortunate card combinations on the German's part. Ninjasaurus said he was waiting for the card that would allow him to use his central units, but it never appeared! I had some very good cards throughout, especially the Rush and Rotation card which allowed me to fill the crater with my forces. Even though, it was a hard slog, but a most enjoyable one!

Also please don't forget, I am selling my collection of 20mm British and German figures on eBay, take a look here:

British 20mm WW1

German 20mm WW1

There are quite a few more wargaming items on my eBay listing as well, so please take a look at them!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Destroy This Mad Brute!

Continuing on with the 15mm First World War figures that came from Peter Pig, I finished off the other four British rifle grenadiers. They are great little sculpts and a joy to paint. And being 15mm they didn't take long to complete.

Then I turned my attention to the other side of the wire in the form of some German trench raiders. These are the ones armed with the MP08 sub-machine gun. There's eight here, but I doubt I will use all eight in a game as the gun was quite a rare sight on the battlefield.

And finally in this first batch was the Germans with captured Lewis Guns. Again, these are not included in The Great War board game figures, so the Peter Pig ones will do just fine. I really like the Peter Pig poses for these ones!

I am not painting these in particular units just yet, as they are individually based sorting that out can come later. Also, I have a few more lots of figures on the way to me, so this project is set to run for a bit. On top of that I need to get the plastic figures from The Great War painted as well, but it's an enjoyable process, especially during this important centenary year!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Through the Mud and the Blood and the 15mm

I mentioned in an earlier post that I had an epiphany about Through the Mud and the Blood, the Two Fat Lardies rules set that covers platoon actions in the First World War. I did put together a collection of 20mm figures for a project that initially was going to be CHEAP! Inevitably it gained legs and got out of hand pretty quickly. So I have put the 20mm figures on EBay and pared back to 15mm. There's a couple of reasons really, one is that the scenery I have is predominantly 15mm so I don't need to go changing anything and secondly I have 150 unpainted Plastic Soldier Company First World War figures that I got when I doubled up on their Kickstarter for The Great War board game. That alone is more than enough for Through the Mud and the Blood. However, the Great War range is not extensive and there are some missing troops types, these I sourced from Peter Pig, another favourite of mine.

First up are PP's British rifle grenadiers, I did actually badger Martin to sculpt these, so I thought it high time I actually bought some... Here they are with four PSC figures to make a section:

Also new (ish) in the Peter Pig First World War range are these British grenade throwers (who look like they are doing a spot of synchronised dancing...).

As part of the order I bought some British Lewis gunners, who are absent from the Great War figure range (maybe they will be available in future, who knows).

The figures are all based individually, specifically for Mud and Blood, but may also be used for the Great War as well. Double win! They are also in my Early War Miniatures trench system, which is meant to be for 20mm figures, but works just as well with 15mm. 

I like the new Peter Pig figures, but I do wish they would finish off the full range, I'd love to see both British and German signallers, engineers, snipers, tank crew, and even downed pilots and observers. So, if you're reading this Martin, you'd have at least one customer for them!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 15 May 2016

1/48th Fokker DVII WIP Part Four

The next stage in the Fokker build was to add the decals to the underside of both sets of wings. Unfortunately, the upper wings of the Směr kit are too long by a few millimetres for the Aviattic decals and I was left with a couple of white strips where they didn't match up.

The upper wing was left to dry while I turned my attention to the lower wing. Again, this suffered from being too large for the decals, but there was a few extras on the Aviattic sheet. This meant I was able to cover the wings properly even though there was a little bit of white showing through.

Back up on top, I decided to paint the gaps rather than cut out tiny decals from the decal sheet. This was a case of mixing down some paints until they closely matched the lozenge pattern. The match is not perfect, but this is the under surface of the upper wing so will not be readily visible.

With the wings finished all that remained was the put the final parts of the plane together, I was very surprised at how easily the top wing went on and everything matched up perfectly well. Unfortunately, at some point in the build I had lost the two rear fuselage struts so I had to make two new ones from some spare MDF strips that I had.Once they were painted black and put into place they looked spot on to me.

I varnished the plane and decided not to add any weathering. I normally weather my planes, but for once I thought the colour scheme was too nice to wreck with oil stains and the like, so I left it as it was.

I would normally matt varnish my models as well, but again, I left this one in a gloss coat. The colour scheme fitted this shiny finish and the colours really pop out.

So there you have it, a very simple model to build, along with some great additions from the Aviattic decals and I am pleased with the end result. It would have been completed quicker had it not been for my attempts at adding more detail to the kit.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

1/48th Fokker DVII WIP Part Three

With the fuselage finished and drying, it was time to turn my attention to the upper wing. I did mention making rods for my own back and this was no different. Ernst Udet's Fokker has a famous red and white 'candy stripe' pattern that he painted over the factory colours. I did some research on the net for other people who had created the same colour scheme for their Fokker and found out that at 1/48th scale the stripes were approximately 5mm in width. So I bought some 5mm wide masking tape from Tamiya. I then meticulously laid this over the white painted wing surface. I measured the width between each stripe with another line of tape so that it was equal all across the wing.

Next, I painted the red stripes over the exposed areas on the wing. This was a quick job and I wasn't too sharp with the painting.

I should have taken a bit more care with the red though as some of it bled through the masking tape and looked a bit messy. However, I repainted the white very carefully and was able to eliminate the mess. I then varnished the wing.

I added the black cross decal on the upper surface of the upper wing and it was finished. So far I have finished all the upper surfaces of the plane and I am quite happy with the results, there needs to be a bit of tidying up on the lozenge pattern, but that will happen after I have finished the lower wing surfaces.

Onwards and upwards, this is turning into a nice build and I am really enjoying using a few new techniques. 

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 8 May 2016

19th June 1815, a Blucher AAR

Dean came over for a game on Saturday, Ninjasaurus Res was to join us also, but he cried off at the last minute. Some crisis about work. Anyway, I had planned that we would play a game of Blücher using the figures I have spent a long time painting. This amounted to I Corps of the Anglo-British 100 Days Army against the I Corps of the French Army, with the Brunswickers shoved in for good measure. So a total of 167 points (15 Brigades) for the British and 106 (9 Brigades) for the French. By Blücher standards this was quite a small match up so to counter the small size of the armies and make the Momentum Dice rolls still work (we were only rolling one MO dice) we split our Corps into smaller corps, I gathered the Brunswicks into one, the Guards and King's German Legion into another, the Dutch/Belgian and German troops into a third and finally the three cavalry brigade were a fourth separate unit. Dean formed two corps of four brigades of infantry and a third of the cavalry. We also had four attached artillery spread throughout the units. Our commanders were Sir Rowland Hill, with his Inspiring trait, which gives a bonus in combat and Marshal Ney with his Hero trait and ability to rally troops.

The battle was a fictional encounter in the aftermath of Waterloo with French fighting a rearguard action holding a small town and ridge line in front of the advancing British force. I had to gain part of the village as an objective along with a hill on his right flank. To gain both of these would be a complete victory, gaining one would be a partial victory. So we set out our lines and began:

My first move saw the Guards and British infantry advance along with the Brunswickers on the right flank. I was heading straight for goal number one: the town objective.

Meanwhile Dean began revealing his defence line in and around the town area, so far so good. I urged the Dutch/Belgian troops forward but they were faced with the woodland areas, so their going was not as fast as the rest of my line.

French cavalry began climbing the hills to face the oncoming British troops, but we were still too far away to begin firing yet. The Brunswickers moved to threaten the French left flank as I tried to straighten out the line!

It was plodding work with the single MO dice, but I brought the cavalry corps down off the hill and they supported the rear of my infantry ready to exploit any weakness. Meanwhile, the French cavalry lurked on my left but held off charging.

Finally, the moment I had been waiting for: the Guards lead an assault on the town. The rules don't allow for firing into urban areas, so the French defenders were at their freshest. However, I had the support of Hill and his Inspiring leadership in battle which gave me an extra dice in combat.

It wasn't enough though as the defenders repulsed the first assault, but at least I had damaged their Élan.

However, I was able to bring up the Brunswick infantry to even out future assaults.

With a seemingly paralysed French cavalry not attacking my flanks I launched an attack all along the front. This would be the only way to dislodge the French from the objective.

And it worked! Two French Brigades were put to flight, including the one holding the objective and another brigade broke completely when attacked by the 2nd Guards!

The French infantry fell back rather than stick around to be broken by further assaults.

As good as this victory was, the right flank was not completely secure, a French brigade was still in the town and my troops with low Élan from the previous attacks. It would be a tough unit to shift.

However, the 2nd Brunswick infantry tried their best to knock them out of the buildings, but to no avail. Meanwhile on the middle hill, one of the KGL brigades broke under whithering fire from French infantry.

The Brunswicks attacking the town were thrown back again, so I began bringing my cavalry forward to support the Dutch/Belgian assault on the left. I had been neglecting this flank so it needed some attention and as time was slipping away I needed to leave the French town defenders for the time being. 

Things were a bit desperate over this side of the field, as I lost the 2nd Guards to fire from the French infantry of Schmitz's brigade, the second brigade they had broken! The Dutch/Belgians had finally reached a good position though, after tramping through the woods at a snail's pace and my cavalry were also on hand.

Although I was facing fresh troops, I was running out of time to capture the last objective as the day was already in the mid-afternoon. So the Dutch/Belgian conscripts charged in against the same army they had recently been allied with!

One French brigade was pushed off the hill, but another held their ground as my soldiers bounced off the French line. The cavalry had a little more luck, but not much!

A successful French counter attack saw my men come streaming back down the hill they had just gone up. In the Hannoverian Brigade, the Duke of York's men went up to the top of the hill and came back down again!

Undeterred by losses and needing to strike now before the close of day, I pushed in the two remaining fresh brigades. They were unable to capture the objective, but did break a third French brigade and therefore won the game by default.

So it was all over on the twenty eighth move of thirty. A damn close run thing. I had failed to capture both objectives, but had broken his army and the day was mine.

We both agreed this was another great game of Blücher and the more I play it, the more I like it. This was a particularly tense game, there were points where I knew I had to secure my right flank, but also act on the left but the MO dice were against me. The Napoleonic tactic of attritional firing before going in for the kill works really well and even the best troops bounce off fresh brigades. Now, I just need to get some more figures painted!

Finally, I am selling 41 15mm Stormtroopers on eBay, have a look HERE. These are like hen's teeth, so this is your chance to have a platoon's worth of them. Check out my other items for some old games and wargaming related goodies.

Thanks for reading!
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