Friday, 19 April 2019

The Siege of Tsingtau

This is turning out to be a very interesting read, as it doesn't just detail the actual siege but covers the establishment of the whole German Far East Asian Empire in the South Pacific and mainland China. There's a fascinating insight into the fundamental role of the Imperial German Navy as a driver and mechanism for colonial expansion, both to obtain coaling stations and naval bases but also to project power in one of the few remaining places that offered 'a place in the sun'. I have a long ferry journey tomorrow so plan to read further and pinch some ideas for a 'what if?' pre-dreadnought solo campaign.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Ironclad Sea Blue Base Shades

I need to match this using Vallejo colours
This is my previous basing for the dark sea cloth...too grey!

I'm on the way back home over the next couple of days but have been thinking ahead, so that I can squeeze some wargaming into the last couple of days of holiday time. One thing I need to do is pick up and finish off my 1/2400th scale French ironclads including repainting the sea bases to match my new Tiny Wargames blue sea terrain cloth. At the moment, they are blocked in with a blue/grey shade to match my other sea cloth which is a darker colour. I wasn't very happy with this as it looked a bit too grey but it has left me with the challenge of finding a colour match using Vallejo or Army Painter shades for the new blue cloth. Any suggestions for a good three stage approach that works would be very welcome!

French Commerce Raiders

I have ordered a couple of Tumbling Dice armoured cruisers for my up and coming pre-dreadnought project, which is based in the Far East c1900-1905. These are two Gueydon class armoured cruisers, two of which, Montcalm and Gueydon, were deployed to French Indochina and the South Pacific to fly the flag in 1902-03. I've just started reading the Siege of Tsingtau by Charles Stephenson, in which he sets out the rivalries over the Philippines after the Spanish American War as well as the clashes between the various powers over China and Manchuria. There's loads of 'what if's' to be used as scenario and campaign 'hooks', so a couple of  commerce raiding French cruisers are a very handy addition to the set up. 

Wednesday, 17 April 2019


I've just quickly read this new(ish) book on the Battle of Tsushima to refresh my pre-dreadnought project ideas, although in typical Osprey fashion it includes an overview of the whole Russo Japanese naval war. It's not bad at all, despite the strange cover art and limited scope for a detailed historical account. It's not as good as the two volume coverage in the MMP series by Piotr Olender, both of which are excellent from a wargaming perspective, but it's useful as a basic overview, with some good maps and illustrations.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Pre-Dreadnought Flotilla Basing

One of the things that has held me back on the pre-dreadnoughts project is the basing for torpedo boats and destroyers. The rules I'm thinking of using, Broadside and Salvo or Naval Thunder: Rise of the Battleships, both use flotilla basing for these smaller warships but don't actually specify how to go about it. I've seen it done in different ways including four or five models based on large rectangles, two or three based on smaller rectangles and even individually based models with magnetic strip underneath and magnet lined movement trays. 

I'm thinking that the best way forward would be to use group basing of between two and three models, depending on their size, on square or slightly rectangular bases so that they can be organised into divisions or flotillas. The square format means that they can also be arranged in formations without looking odd or taking up too much space. I'm going to stick with a base width that matches the rest of the warships too, probably 30mm to allow for larger models to fit but also not so big that smaller ships like cruisers end up looking silly.

I think this should work well and avoid having to move loads of individual models each turn?

Monday, 15 April 2019

Cruel Seas Soviet MTB's

I really didn't expect to branch out from the Kriegsmarine in Cruel Seas but having just acquired a Soviet Starter Set I suppose I'd better make the most of it! In fact, this makes a lot of sense as the club is currently swamped with Schnellboote, as most of the Cruel Seas players have chosen German flotillas. The Soviet models are also really nice, especially the G5's with their stern launched torpedoes, as copied from the CMB's used by the RN in the Baltic in 1919. 

The other handy thing about the Soviets is that I can make use of the surplus S-38 class S Boats that I have spare, having set aside the S-100 models and a couple of converted S-38's for the 5th S Boat Flotilla. The earlier unarmoured S38's are perfect for either the Baltic in 1941-42 or the Black Sea, where they were used for most of the war alongside various early war types. I can kill two birds with one stone and set up some solo games of my own at home with the Soviets against the Germans.

I will start on this at some point next month, when I'm back home and when I have time to sit down and assemble the G5's. I'll start with these as I really like the models and they are small enough to not take too much time to both build and paint. The 5th S Boat Flotilla will have to wait a little longer, as the Soviets are now going to be my main thrust for the Cruel Seas project. I may even get another set of four G5's, as they aren't exactly packed with much punch!

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Tumbling Dice French Pre-Dreadnoughts

I spotted the latest addition to the Tumbling Dice 1/2400th scale Age of Battleships range yesterday, thirty two pre-dreadnought era warships for the French navy c1883-1909:

I've been eagerly waiting for these to be launched, having heard on the grapevine that they were on the way after the Italian and Austrian fleets, so I will definitely be ordering a few for my pre-dreadnought collection. I have some British and Japanese ships already but some French 'floating hotels' would be fun!

I've been wanting to make use of my lovely new blue sea cloth, so on reflection it really would be more sensible to concentrate on naval projects this Summer, rather than starting something completely new involving loads of figure painting and terrain construction. My naval projects include both the 1/2400 scale ironclads and pre-dreadnoughts plus the Cruel Seas coastal warfare models, amongst other things.

This is a much better idea for all sorts of very good reasons, so The Men Who Would Be Kings will be shelved for the moment. It will be back at some point in the future but I'm now going to concentrate on the nautical stuff, at least until the Autumn. That's not to say that I won't paint a tank or two to finish off What a Tanker! or perhaps paint some 1/600th scale planes, but these will be on the sidelines.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Terrain for The Men Who Would Be Kings

We took the kids to the swimming pool this afternoon so, while they were splashing about, I took the time to read through the whole book of rules for The Men Who Would be Kings. It soon became apparent that the desert terrain board that I planned to use for the 15mm version of my project is way too small, at 32'' square, even for the Skirmish Kings reduced sized game or using centimetres rather than inches, so I have had to do a re-think. It would be a shame not to use the rest of the 15mm desert terrain pieces that I've built for the Sandbox Skirmish project, but for TMWWBK's I'll need to make a full sized 6'' x 4'' set of terrain tiles or find a matching terrain cloth to use instead. This has thrown a proverbial spanner in the works to say the least.

In 28mm, however, I have always planned to use my existing Back of Beyond and Wild West desert terrain, which is based on a khaki coloured cloth that I acquired a few years ago and to which I have added various terrain pieces. You can see the effect that I've produced in the photo of a Back of Beyond game above. This is a full 6' x 4' set up and, while the terrain isn't suitable for 15mm, a lot of it is fine for the Sudan in 28mm, being not far off the colour of the landscape itself. I have hills, trees, scatter and buildings, so it's a much better prospect compared to the 15mm equivalent, even if I need some theatre specific extra bits. 

I'm now debating if it's a good idea to go for 15mm, given the terrain issue, although it is my first choice and I do like my bespoke terrain board a lot. Why isn't anything simple? At this rate, some Zulus are even looking more straightforward!

Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy Digital

For a long time now I've restricted my wargames magazine reading to Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy, which for my money is streets ahead of the competition in terms of interesting content, well-written articles and thoughtful commentary on the hobby. However, I don't buy every issue as the theme doesn't always appeal and, unless there's something else worth reading that's relevant to my interests I give it a miss. 

It's not cheap these days to follow the wargaming press but I have recently turned to digital downloads as a much less expensive alternative to the print editions. For example, I've just downloaded number 101, as it has another article for historical What a Tanker! by Mark Backhouse that is right up my street. The big advantage of the digital format is that it's about half the price of the paper copy and you can print off individual articles for a hard copy if you need one. 

This flexibility makes it a great idea, even if you don't have the satisfaction of reading it hands on, so to speak. It also means that I don't miss issues that come out over the summer, when I'm always out of the country and can't pop into WH Smiths. I've thought about taking out a digital subscription too but the fact that I'm only dipping into some issues makes that a counter intuitive option, so I'll give it a miss.... although I might put it on my Xmas wish list?

Friday, 12 April 2019

Corsairs and Cavaliers News

I had an email from Paul Sulley of Tumbling Dice today, saying that he and Chris Russel would like to go ahead with plans to publish my modified version of Wings at War for the Football War, now that the madness of Salute is over and done with. This is good news, as I had forgotten all about it to be honest, including the 1/600th scale aircraft that I have started but (as usual) not actually completed for the project.

These consist of all the aircraft, give or take some civilian types, for both sides in the Soccer War as well as some 'what if' ones that didn't actually take part. If Paul and Chris do get the rules published, I'll get the models properly painted up and give the 'official' rules the full project treatment, as it would be a shame not to finish something that actually has my name on it! 


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