11 August 2017

GI's for the Ardennes Campaign

Aside from Australia, the United States was the only major country I had not obtained troops for playing Chain of Command. I suspect that Australian troops will evidentially get done as I have some in the lead pile for a while and I certainly have lots of jungle terrain.

The US however presented a challenge as I wanted to do them in winter uniform, as I needed someone to confront my winter uniformed Volksgrenadiers/Panzergrenadiers. In 20mm/1/72 winter uniformed US miniatures hardly exist aside from a very limited range from TQD. Turning to plastics was the only option, both Italeri and Revell have troops in winter uniform but the Revell miniatures just did not fit with the TQD. Fortunately for me, I had arranged for Dan Dunbar to paint the the figures and he is quite good with conversions as well as painting. Thankfully he was able to produce what I needed from the Italeri box as well as using some miniatures from the PSC Heavy Weapons box. The only real problem left was the lack of any miniatures with BAR's but Dan was able to hack up some ESCI figures and somehow another graft them on the Italeri. The man is a genius.

I received the troops several months ago but I hate basing so it took a while to get to them. Last week I said enough was enough and just did them. I use Elmer's Wood Putty coloured with raw umber as the base followed when wet with some sand. I then washed the bases with VMC black wash and then dry brushed this with Celestra Grey. This gave me exactly that brown-grey tone that I wanted. I then used Woodland Scenics Snow mixed with PVA glue for the snow. I wanted a white thick snow so there mixture was quite thick, the more glue you use the more the snow will look like ice rather then snow. The trick here is to paint the part of the base where you plan to apply the snow mixture white, or it will look grey. I probably will add some winter tufts from Army Painter.

I put together 2 different types of platoons as well as numerous supports. I have yet to paint up any motorized transport, AFV's or Guns. Dan did paint up some gun crews for me so they are all ready.

Rifle Platoon (+1)
The Complete Platoon
Headquarters with Carbine armed Lieutenant as well as a SMG armed Sergeant with a Bazooka Team
Squad One with an SMG armed Corporal as we as a 3 man BAR Team as well as a 8 man  Rifle team
The BAR team is made up of a 2 men, one firing as well as a loader and 1 rifleman
All the Riflemen are equipped with M1 Garands
Infantry Supports
Up front is a Medic and an Adjutant both list 1
2 man Bazooka Team (list 2)
2 man Sniper Team (list 3)
FO with off table 81mm Mortar (list 4)
0.30 MMG Team with 5 crew
60 mm Mortar Team with 5 crew (list 3)
0.50 HMG with 5 crew (list 5)

Armored Rifle Platoon (+4)

This is a platoon with integrated Heavy Weapons teams
Lieutenant and Sergeant both armed with carbines as well Headquarters Squad made up of M1 Garand  armed Sergeant as well as 7 rifleman.
Squads 1 and 2 with Sergeant and 10 riflemen all armed with M1's as well a  GI with a SMG
Machine Gun Squad with two 5 crew MMG teams with a M1 armed Sergeant
60 mm Mortar Team with 5 crew
More Supports
Regular Infantry Squad (list 4)
I am looking forward to getting them on the table.

10 August 2017

Manuballista for the Romans

The more I go through the Aetius and Arthur supplement for SAGA the more I like. It has several new factions and battleboards and it offers modifications to several existing battleboards to make them more playable for this earlier period.

Last week I played the Britons, a very similar force of course (in respect to the figures of course) are the Romans. In the Romans warband you can substitute 6 levy for a Manuballista. Gripping Beast makes a nice little set so I went ahead and purchased it and painted it yesterday. I kept with the red and white livery of my warband. I am quite pleased how they came out.
In the last 6 weeks I have been moving along with clearing off the painting desk. I have almost finished the basing for my WWII CoC Americans. They have been a lot of work, winter basing is much more labour intensive but I am almost done.

The only other thing left half painted are my SAGA revenants, still 24 to go, I should get those done before I start my new project with the Napoleonic Alban miniatures, I have just received from the Netherlands.

06 August 2017

Martlet: Attack on the Hauptkampflinie

Yesterday myself and Mike got in our 6th game in the Martlet campaign at the Hobby Bunker in Malden. The British have had a hard time of it in this campaign and have only won 2 games and yesterday was no different.

This is scenario 3 from the campaign booklet and scenario 6 from the rulebook. Essentially the British had to take the crossroads forcing the Germans to withdraw. They had a big advantage in support with 20 points vs 7 for the Germans.

British (Morale 9)
2 SL's
Piat Team
2" Mortar Team
Rifle Section 1: 10 men
Rifle Section 2: 9 men
Rifle Section 3: JL and Bren team (4 men)
Supports (20)
Piat Team
2" Mortar Team
Vickers MG Team
Infantry Section
Churchill AVRE

Germans (Morale 11)
1 SL
3 Panzerfaust 30
PG Squad 1: 7 men/2 LMG
PG Squad 2: 6 men/2 LMG
PG Squad 3: 6 men/2 LMG
Panzer IVH
Supports (8)
Rifle team
8 cm Mortar with FO

A Cunning Adversary
Patrol Markers
German JOP's
British JOP's
The Bloody Mortar Barrage
Action Report

The game started well enough for the British with 4 free moves in the Patrol Phase with excellent positioning of their JOP's as well as getting a section in the closest house on the British right flank as well as a Bren team with a JL behind the wall. A 2" mortar was able to start laying smoke.

Unfortunately on the German first phase they were able to call up the off table mortar and as they had a double 6 on their CR a barrage was laid on top of the 3 British teams. Within a couple of phases their morale had gone from 9 to 5. The Germans occupied the centre building on their right flank and placed their Panzer IV on the centre road.

This went on for a while and a paucity of 5's on the British CR's forced them to wait for a 3d6 to appear on a CR to end the turn. They were able to advance a team just outside the barrage area on their right flank and the Churchill AVRE advanced with another infantry section on their left flank. The turn finally ended and the barrage was lifted, the British made an attempt to advance on their extreme right flank, this was countered by the Germans by placing a PG squad on their left flank just behind the closest building.

The Germans were then able to restart the mortar and again caught 3 British teams with the barrage area. The Germans had incredible dicing in both barrages with at least 2-3 hits on every throw. This was countered by the British with 5 and 6's on their save rolls resulting in several more morale tests and the now they were down to 3. It was clear that the British would not overcome the Hitler Jugend's "line of resistance". The only thing I could hope to do was cause significant attrition on the PG's. The only Chain of Command dice I had obtained was used to interrupt the German's next phase with the Churchill AVRE firing it's mortar at a stone house where a squad of PG's were encamped...........16d6 fired resulted in a total of 3 shock.................it just was not to be my day.

The Final Count

No Losses in this turn and only 2 men killed in 6 turns
Up to a +2 Support in the next game
+3 on the next morale throw
SL range extended to 12"
And I believe a medal to be rewarded before the next game

8 dead, 4 seriously wounded and 4 lightly wounded, now 24 men killed in 6 turns
-1 on the next morale throw
And the need to bring on a new platoon in the next game

02 August 2017

More SAGA Additions

I recently just painted some more figures to fill in some gaps of my SAGA warbands. I find it quite relaxing to just paint a few figures at a time especially if I am not trying to get a whole unit done.

I noticed I was low on some Dark Age Northern European warriors. I know these fellows do not have any armour is as usual for SAGA warrors. I believe they Pict warriors from Footsore. I suppose the Picts did not need any armour as they were so warlike! Nice figures to paint.
I also wanted to increase my Moorish bowmen from a unit of 8 to 12 if needed. This allows me to field any of the 3 Moslem factions from the Crescent and the Cross.

29 July 2017

A New Project

The Sharpe novels and TV series started me off in wargaming about 15 years ago, and it is a hobby that I have enjoyed immensely. It is never complete; there is always something to add, adjust or sometimes completely change. I am very thankful to Bernard Cornwell for that, he has kept me busy well beyond reading his books and watching two great TV series.

It must have been 7-8 years ago when I bought a copy of Sharpe Practice and with it came two 28mm figures from Alban Miniatures. I did not like the ruleset but I did like the figures. They were so different from the chunkers from all the other 28mm Napoleonic manufactures. But because of this they were useless to me so I put them away. A lot of things have happened since then, I got rid of the 3000 twenty-eight mm Napoleonic figures that I had painted and paid someone else to paint an equivalent 18 mm Napoleonic army for me. This was without doubt a correct decision, they take much less room and are so much easier with which to game.

I did keep around a hundred 28mm figures so I  could play Sharpe Practice 2 (which unlike Sharp Practice is a great ruleset). These were both French and British and are Perry, Front Rank, Calpe and even some Foundry miniatures. All very nice figures.

In the last few years, I have gone beyond Napoleonics to other wargaming eras and have painted figures from several different manufacturers. Every now and than I ended up painting figures which were much more anatomic without the exaggerated heads and hands that characterize most 28mm miniatures. I particularly like the FIW figures from Conquest Miniatures as well as the fantasy figures  from Westwind. Both these sculptors' figures are finer in proportion than most 28mm miniatures although Alban are still the best proportioned I have seen.

I recently was going over my now small 28mm Napoleonic skirmish collection to see what I needed to add. I have to admit missing painting the occasional 28mm Napoleonic, but I just was not that keen to paint any chunkers, I get enough of that from adding to my Dark Ages collection. I then remembered those 2 figures from Alban Miniatures, dug them out of the box and said why not!

They are a little more challenging to paint as they are much less exaggerated in proportion but at the same time they are excellent sculpts as one can see. I am not a great painter but I believe they came out pretty good.

That was the easy bit but I would like to build up enough figures to field a French and English skirmish force. And here comes the rub, Alban Miniatures are of course now defunct. So where was I to get the figures? As you can see from their website, they had a good range of French, a fairly good range of British and had added some Austrian and Saxon figures. They are very nice figures and I wanted some. I advertised on TMP, Lead Adventure, TFL forum and Yahoo group and fortunately struck pay dirt in the Netherlands. Dick B., a Dutch wargamer, just happened to have almost 60 rifles and voltiguers that he was never going to paint. He very kindly agreed to sell them to me and they are on their way now.

The search continues, of course, as there are French line voltiguers and fusiliers as well as some British light infantry out there. If any knows a source or has some to sell please contact me. Maybe one could say that I am on quite a quixotic adventure but it does excite me!

Now if I could only figure out how to improve the white balance in my photos, I will be all set.

28 July 2017

In Praise of SAGA

Over the last couple of years, myself and Adam have got in quite a few games of SAGA which I have really enjoyed. The game is quite different from the other skirmish games I play as there really is no good Command and Control mechanism and it is a simple IGO-UGO game. It really is not a historical simulation and has elements of both tabletop gaming as well as  board games.

At the same time, the Battleboards and SAGA dice give it a really tactical depth, while the individual figure characteristics (a problem I find with a lot of the new Osprey Skirmish games) are kept to a minimum. Hearthguard are all hearthguard and so on. The movement, shooting and melee mechanisms are all quite simple and easily remembered.

Sounds simple does it not, but the Battleboards and the SAGA dice really lift this with the player having to make some very complex tactical decisions in each turn which not only effect that turn but also the next.

As you can guess, I quite enjoy this game. We have been playing with factions from the main Dark Ages ruleset but last night I decided to play the Britons a faction from the Aetius and Arthur supplement. It was a fun game and as promised we had no difficulty matching warbands from eras 500 years apart. I also have a Moslem warband ready to go from the Cross and Crescent supplement, so more to come.

It was also the first time I played a non generic Warlord, I could not resist fielding Arthur, King of the Britons. I hardly every play warbands with Hearthguards and using Arthur required using a all Hearthguard warband! The Briton Battleboard had lot's of interesting options.

We had a good game, I am sure Adam will have a Action Report soon up on his blog; the Fencing Frog but I did take a couple of photos.
The javelin throwing Norse-Gaels cut down this unit of Hearthguard pretty quickly
The Sacred Ground (a very nice terrain piece the Adam acquired in a kickstarter)
Arthur and a band of Hearthguard

23 July 2017

Matataww'ia for SAGA

It is nice to get back to some 28mm figure painting. One of the good things about SAGA is you can paint up some Dark Age figures and these will do for many Northern European warbands. But they are not going to work for the crusades.

Several years ago I painted up some Andalusian Moors before SAGA: the Cross and the Crescent was released. I could get 4 points toward a moslem warband but not more. Over the winter, I painted up some moorish bowmen so I was just one point away. I decided to go with a Dogs of War unit to make up the extra point and after having a look, I decided of course to go with some Naffatta. Who would have thought it. 

I decided to go with Footsore Miniatures, I have had bad experiences with casting on other producers of moorish 28mm miniatures. The Footsore only have two Naffatta figures but I felt this was OK and I have had some excellent casting from them in the past. These were a little rough but cleaned up easily enough.

I also needed a Warlord that was a little less spectacular than the one I had painted for my Andalusian force, the Matataww'ia were a pretty grim bunch.

So there we have it, by painting up 4 more bowmen, I can also field a Saracen warband!