Saturday, 19 August 2017

Pointe Saint Mathieu

Just down the road from the Musée Mémoires 39-45 is the Pointe Saint Mathieu, which is well worth a visit as it is the site of the French naval memorial and cenotaph. This has recently been opened to the public and is situated in a typical Napoleon III coastal fort It features an impressive display of photographs of every single individual lost in battle or at sea from the late nineteenth century through to the current day. There is also a very imposing cenotaph monument which is situated adjacent to the fort itself. I thought they had done this all extremely well, in an understated but thoughtful way.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Musée Mémoires 39-45

We've been away camping near Brest for a week, during which we visited this excellent museum located in a former German artillery observation and command bunker near Plougonvelin, not far from Pointe Saint-Mathieu. It really is a very impressive museum with numerous exhibits and a lot to see, let alone the restored interior of a very large piece of the Atlantic Wall. It's a bit of a way to go but not too far if you are in the vicinity of Brest or if you take a day trip detour from the ferry port in Roscoff. Anyway, here are some more pictures and a link to the museum website, so you can see for yourself:

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Where Sten Guns Dare

Another set of rules to grab my attention is the latest publication from Nordic Weasel, a very aplty titled WW2 skirmish system built around small scale commando raiding and derring-do. I had a cunning plan a couple of years ago to do just this sort of thing in 28mm, my Achtung Kommando! project, but with no set of suitable squad level rules to use, aside from Bolt Action! which I don't really like, I left the figures to gather dust on the shelf.

Now, suitably equipped with proper rules for commando raiding, I may now well dig them out, blow off the dust and blow something up later in the year?

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Patton's First Fight

I've been reading through the Fistful of Lead: Viva la Revolucion! scenario supplement and working out how to put together a starting force for both the American Punitive Expedition and the Villistas. An obvious scenario to kick things off would be Scenario 10: Patton's First Fight. This represents the raid by Patton and his foraging party on a ranch where one of Villa's top commanders, Julio Cardenas, was staying, leading to a brief but bloody skirmish in which the rebels were killed. It's a small scenario with limited forces, so perfect as a beginning to a larger project.

The 20mm forces required for the scenario I already have from Shellhole Scenics, including a squad of ten US Infantry and a contingent of six Dorados, the elite cavalry unit of the Villista forces, the latter both in mounted and dismounted form. In the raid, the small force of Cardenas actually made a run for it on horseback, charging out of the gateway of the ranch in an attempt to getaway. The scenario only has them on foot defending the ranch but I might as well paint up the mounted figures too. I think I may also have a couple of die cast toy vintage cars for Patton to arrive in?

The only thing I need is a terrain square and a suitable 20mm scale ranch house with a surrounding wall, as I already have some desert scatter terrain and can improvise a two foot square board. This can actually be  little smaller as the scenario assumes that you will be using 28mm figures, so I might scale it down to 20'' or so? The ranch can be found in the Blotz 20mm Middle Eastern range, which has a couple of suitable buildings, both with lift-off roofing. These could be used as they are, with one only needing the addition of a small outbuilding to be spot on, although I could change the position of the main gateway to match the scenario plan.

This is definitely a manageable project and would be a good place to start!

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Crom: A Skirmish Game set in the Hyborian Age

I have been thinking about some fantasy skirmish gaming for a while, having failed to get Frostgrave off the ground due to the not insignificant body count, terrain and time required, with something equivalent to a Fistful of Lead in terms of scale. I stumbled across the Crom's Anvil site the other day, by way of the Wargames Website, and thought that the Crom rules using 15mm figures sounded interesting.

The Crom rules are based on skirmish gaming with a handful of figures in a Conan the Barbarian style, with the use of 15mm figures rather than 28mm as an added twist. The Crom's Anvil range of 15mm figures and terrain is what grabbed my attention, especially the way that the lovely Copplestone Castings 18mm figures have been used as a starting point, with very real advantages in terms of cost and space required for a decent terrain set up.

By scaling down to 15/18mm the playing area can be reduced to no more than a 60cm square board, which would be very easy to produce on one of those cheap canvas picture frames, with some scatter terrain position on top. As much of this is of a desert or arid appearance the effort required to create it would be minimal and I already have some 15mm Blotz laser cut middle eastern style buildings that I could use. There are only a handful of figures required too,

The Crom rules themselves are only a fiver from Matakishi's Workshop via Wargames Vault. They use a neat card driven, dice pool system and opposed rolls to make movement, combat and magic use really tactical, although they might take a little getting used to. There are some after action reports in a linked campaign narrative format on the Crom's Anvil site and the Crom Companion includes a breakdown of a typical introductory game, so you can see how the system works for real.

I may well give this some more thought.....

Thursday, 10 August 2017

The Mexican Expedition 1916-1917

I'm skimming through this US government pamphlet history of the US intervention in Mexico to track down Pancho Villa. There's a separate volume on the 1st Aero Squadron and it's role in the expedition, which is also worth reading, even if the aircraft involved didn't achieve very much. There were several small scale skirmishes between the US troops, the Carranza government forces and the Villistas, including a few which didn't go so well for Black Jack Pershing's doughboys. Here's one for a start, the rather grandly titled but fairly pointless Battle of Carrizal:

There's some good stuff here, with lots of potential for some skirmish gaming using the Fistful of Lead: Viva Revolucion! supplement as a starting point. I will dig out the Shellhole Scenics 20mm figures that I have when I get back from my holidays to see what I can do with this project. I have American infantry and some vehicles already but, from the reading I've been doing, I'll need to add some US Cavalry too, probably using the Early War Miniatures figures, together with some Mexican federal troops.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Fortifications Presqu'île de Crozon

We went to the Crozon peninsula opposite the naval port of Brest a couple of days ago and visited the various fortifications around Roscanvel and the Pointe de Espagnols. These range in date from the Vauban era, through the Napoleonic Wars to the late nineteenth century, with the usual Atlantic Wall bunkers often superimposed on the top. The most impressive site was the Fort de Capucins on the Western side of the Roscanvel peninsula, although we couldn't climb down to walk around it as the kids only had flip flops on and the path was pretty steep. Anyway, here are a selection of pictures that I took on our very brief day trip, but I'm sure we'll go back to have a proper look next year.