Wednesday 29 February 2012

Air War over Khalkin Gol

The SAM book arrived today in the post, which was pretty quick as I only ordered it a couple of days ago. It's an 112 page softback book and features a lot of photographs and some lovely colour profiles. The conflict itself is explained and the individual aircraft types involved each have thier own description. 

It's not as comprehensive as the Modellers Datafile series but it does exactly what it says on the tin. It is particularly good a s a wargaming reference and the equivalent of one of the better Osprey titles in format and content, albeit at greater length.

It's already given me some ideas about gaps in the 1/600th scale leadpile that I need to fill from the Tumbling Dice catalogue. I already have a decent small box full of Japanese and Soviet aircraft but there are one of two types that aren't in the TD range that I'll have to find proxy models for. 

The Ki-10 Perry will be provided from the CR-32 model in the Italian range, for example, while the ubiquitous Ki-30 will have to be bashed from the Nakajima Kate with added undercarriage. I'm still looking for a substitute for the Polikarpov R-5 but it's not an essential and can easily be left out.

Almost everything else is already available in 1/600th scale and so its should be easy to work out a series of feasible historical scenarios for Bag The Hun based on some research and a bit of number crunching. All I have to do is prepare, undercoat, paint and decal a shed load of tiddly metal planes!

Tuesday 28 February 2012

Back of Beyond Campaign Turn 5

I had a very rare victory in the Back of Beyond campaign this evening, unfortunately too late to make any real difference to the overall outcome. I was playing against Colin with his French Citroen-Kegresse Trans Asia expedition, complete with its French Foreign Legion based escort.

I was lucky enough to get some cracking dice rolls early on in the game, unlike last week, which knocked out his armour and put me ahead in the first turn. At the same time, Colin had some bad dice which meant that his machine gun failed to make any impact on my units.

For the next couple of turns things seemed to be pretty evenly matched. I suffered from the plunging fire from the French mountain artillery, which wiped out nearly half of my oil explorers, while the French took a pasting from my Garford Putilov and machine gun equipped improvised armoured cars.

In the end, I managed to wipe out Colin's colonial scouts, inflict several casulaties on both the legionaires and the expedition leaders, then knocked out his armoured car with the field gun mounted in the Garford Putilov. We called it a day and I walked away with my only victory of the campaign, which means I'm in joint last place for the final outcome. Woo hoo!

As expected it's been an enjoyable, if somewhat low key campaign but it will finish off with a big bang finale multiplayer game sometime after Easter. I'm planning a combined assault by all four remaining campaign players against the Bolshevik defences of Kashgar, which will be re-enforced by my as yet unfinished armoured train, some fieldworks and some rather unusual explosive pryotechnics!

Monday 27 February 2012

In the Skies of Nomonhan

Way back in March 2010 I had this brilliant idea to convert the Wings at War rules for the air war over Khalkin Gol in 1939. Although I did some background research into the Nomonhan Incident and bought some 1/600th scale Tumbling Dice and Oddzial Osmy planes, nothing came of the idea as I moved onto other things.

However, inspired by my re-invention of the MiG Alley project, I've been thinking about Bag The Hun as a ruleset for the short lived Nomonhan air war, so when I saw this new edition of THE book on the subject, I snapped it up straight away. It's an excellent little book complete with photographs, line drawings, colour profiles and numerous accounts of aerial combats between the Japanese and Soviet forces.

It's a perfect wargamers book in fact, so I'll be putting it at the top of the reading list once I've finished the Forgotten Voices of the Burma Campaign that I started a few days ago. To add to the reading pile, I've also ordered a copy of the SAM Publications book Air War Over Khalkin Gol, which should give me plenty of extra background detail, unit organisations and colour aircraft profiles.

Nice :O)

Sunday 26 February 2012

Bag the MiG [3]

I've had the ubiquitous family weekend, involving a lot of offspring related crisis management and damage limitiation, so wargaming pursuits have taken a bit of a backseat. However, in between the chaos, I have forged ahead with the 1/600th scale Bag the MiG project and have based up all the F80's, F84's, MiG 15's, Il-10m's and three B29's. This sounds impressive but isn't really very much, given the teeny weeny size of the things and the fact that they only need a little filing and sanding to be sorted.

I've included a photo of the original basing that I devised for MiG Alley to illustrate the thinking behind the switch to Bag the MiG. I've also assembled a base for the latter, using a plastic hex stand from Brigade Miniatures as the basis for a shedload of identical stands, if I get myself organised this week. I'd like to use Litko bases but they are out of stock at Figures In Comfort and I don't fancy ordering from the States, as it tends to attract the unwanted attention of Her Majesty's Customs and Excise.

Saturday 25 February 2012

Bag The MiG [2]

I've done a quick stock check on the 1/600th Tumbling Dice Korean War aircraft collection, cross referenced to the seven scenarios for Bag The MiG in the Toofatlardies supplements. The result is very encouraging as I have most of what's needed to run the scenarios already cleaned up and magnet attached. The rest of the required aircraft are also already in the collection, so I only need to order one pack of Il-10m Sturmoviks to make up the full complement.

As you can see, what I still have to clean up, assemble and magnet base is pretty minimal. This consists of two Il-10m's, two MiG 15's, six Thunderjets, four Shooting Stars, seven B29's and twelve Meteors. Of these, only the B29's are really essential, as the others can wait until I'm ready to play the specific scenarios for which they are listed. I'm going to get a good few of them prepared over the weekend if I can, so that I can start some production line painting sooner rather than later.

I've also splashed out on the Check Your Six! Jet Age supplement for the Korean War, which should give me a lot more scenarios to convert over to Bag The MiG. I played some games of CY6! at the club a few years ago and didn't really enjoy them that much to be honest. I think they work well for one on one games, with each player controlling a single or pair of models, but for larger games they start to get a bit clunky, largely due to the number crunching involved.  

I much prefer the flow of Bag The Hun and the unpredictability introduced by the card based movement sequence. Although this occasionally throws up some odd outcomes, it does make the game a lot of fun and far more interesting as a result. I'm also crap at mental maths, so all the ratios and column shifts in CY6! combined with the various modifiers and other data management conundruns make it a bit less playable for me. It's a good system, just not my cup of tea.

Friday 24 February 2012

Wargames Illustrated 293

I grabbed a copy of flames of Wargames Illustrated today in WHSmiths and flicked through it while I was waiting to get my hair cut. Much to my surprise on p114 I found a big picture of the club participation game at Warfare back in November, accompanied by an even bigger picture of the plastic toy train that I painted up for the game. As this was salvaged from a bin at the local tip, I think it's more than earned it's place in the workbench hall of fame. Well chuffed!

Thursday 23 February 2012

Bag The MiG

I'm under a lot of time pressure at the moment due to work commitments and a backlog of work related things to get done. As a result, I'm finding it hard to squeeze in any painting or modelling, although I have lined up some games at the club over the next few weeks to compensate. It also means that I've been thinking about a project that I can tackle in the odd half an hour here and there with some quick results.

Although I considered the 1/2400th scale Victorian ironclad project, as there is little or no terrain involved and I could launch a ship or two in a fairly short timeframe, I've decided to go back to the 1/600th scale MiG Alley project that I began a couple of years ago. This is one of those projects that got overtaken by the 'ooh shiny' complex but which was fairly well advanced by the time it bit the dust in April 2010.

The thing that knocked it on the head was the basing, which I had sorted out using mdf squares and panel pins but was far from perfect. To overcome this problem, I've decided to use the Bag The Hun variant for the Korean War as the rules of choice. If I was going to start WW2 aerial gaming all over again I'd probably go for 1/600th scale rather than 1/300th scale, which I have invested in quite heavily.

However, there's nothing to stop me doing the Korean War in 1/600th scale, with all the benefits of the excellent and inexpensive Tumbling Dice range, the superb Bag The Hun rules system and my existing Hotz hex mat rather than any flashy new terrain. I can also use the magnetic basing option that I've already started on with the planes that I've prepared, replacing the homemade version with plastic hex stands and magnets.

It looks like it might be a winning combination.

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Newsflash - Mbote declares state of emergency (Reuters)

Zumatan Regulars occupy Tchwane
From our correspondent in Wanga Wanga

The on-going war between Zumata and Mbote escalated dramatically yesterday after Zumatan armed forces stormed across the lightly defended border near Lake Npungwe. An isolated border post of the Mbote Defence Force (MDF) was surrounded and wiped out in the intial engagement, despite the deployment of the only available heavy weapon, an obsolete self propelled anti-aircraft gun. 

Mbote MDF border patrol pulls out of Djuba
The Zumatan forces, using a combination of heliborne troops and wheeled transport, occupied a number of strategic objectives including the Mpon-Gold Company mine at Djuba and the oil storage facility at nearby Tchwane. The arrival of an MDF relief force from Mpongoville dislodge the Zumatan troops, who had dug in and used close assault tactics to blunt the firepower of the Mbote units.

After a short but bloody engagement, the MDF retreated from the field in disarray, leaving a trail of burning vehicles, dead and wounded in their haste to escape. A spokesman for the MDF, Major D'sastta, issued the following press release:

'This dastardly and duplicitous attack by the evil Zumatans is yet another example of the naked aggression and gangsterism of Dr Kenko Gold and his corrupt regime'

In a later announcement on Radio Mbote FM, General Papi Mpongo, resident president of Mbote, declared a State of Emergency before boarding his private jet for an urgent high level diplomatic meeting in Monaco.

Tuesday 21 February 2012

AK47 Game Report

A well deserved Zumatan victory!

Mbote gunship strafes Zumatan bridgehead (just before it gets shot down)

Mbote border guards surrounded by Zumatans!

Zumatan armour gets pasted by Mbote SPAA

Mbote militia race to the rescue

The close assault bloodbath

Zumatan LZ at the Mpongo Gold Mine

The AK47 battle at the club this evening was a bit of a debacle for the Mbote defenders. In fact, it was a complete disaster. The outcome was 104 points to Jon and a pathetic 22 to me, resulting in an overwhelming victory for Dr Kenko Gold and his Zumatan forces of aggression (the M.O.B. army wasn't quite ready for action, so it was business as usual for the Zumata / Mbote border dispute).

It was one of those wierd games, where nothing goes as you expect and things turn on the roll of a D6 more often than not. I made some bad tactical decisions and had some dodgy dice rolls. I only got one unit onto the table to start with and that was quickly wiped out by the four units that the Zumatans managed to deploy. When I did get the rest of my stuff on it arrived in one go. However, I made the mistake of splitting it into four seperate columns of attack. This meant that each of the units got hit in turn and seriously damaged, if not blown to smithereens.

On the plus side, we tried out the rules for close assault for the first time, which proved to be quite bloody but effective. We also used the hex terrain to block line of site and add some interesting angles to the game. The table did ended up looking a bit over stuffed, however, once all the burning wreckage started to litter the objectives. It looked good to start with but the battlefield was a bit of a mess by the end of play, to say the least.

I think I need to use more armour next time and ditch the helicopter gunship, which was pretty useless. I also need to field a decent professional infantry unit to add a bit of elite firepower, although I'll need to paint the bases that I've prepared first. I also think some buildings would add something to the game, so I'm going to scratchbuild half a dozen or so this weekend if I can find the time. I quite like the idea of some shops, a few houses and a shanty town but I need to be realistic given the time I have to knock them out.

Monday 20 February 2012

AK47 Game

I have an AK47 game tomorrow at the club against my irregular opponent Jon, who will be wheeling out his new superpower backed M.O.B. army against my dictatorship army of the Peoples Republic of Mbote. The last time we had a battle it ended in a rather bloody stalemate. This time, I'm hoping for a decisive victory using a combination of interesting units that I've bundled together, to defend the sovereignty of Mbote and the offshore bank accounts of President Papi Mpongo.

I'm not going to reveal the exact composition of the Mbote strikeforce as the CIA spooks will, no doubt, be listening in. However, there will be some air support and some significant AAA assets in the deployment, in order to blunt any M.O.B. spearhead before it can achieve it's objectives. I'm fairly confident that I will be digging in as the defender for this game, so expect to be using my new objective markers for the M.O.B. to frontal assault.

I've also asked to use the club hex terrain hills to add a bit of vertical scenery to the battlefield. This should make things interesting and add some line of sight angles to the game, which otherwise tends to end up as a long range turkey shoot. It should look good either way, so I'll take some photos and run up a press release or two after the dust has settled. I may also put out some pre-game propaganda, if I can find the time to get my act together.

Sunday 19 February 2012

Burma Tanks

The QRF M3 Lee tanks turned up in the post over the holiday and very nice they are too. I like the QRF models even though you need to be a little careful when you pick and choose from the various ranges. Some of the older castings are a bit dodgy but the newer ones are very good, so I'm a happy shopper and a bit of a QRF enthusiast given the massive range of stuff on offer.

The QRF Japanese range is a case in point, with particular reference to the dodgy looking road wheels on the tanks, although the artillery looks really good. To fill in the armour  gap in the IABSM Burma project I've decided, as a result, to go for the Skytrex Type 97 Chi Ha instead, with the added bonus of a 20% off discount at the moment.

Scratch and Sniff
I'm on a budget due to the half term break but have splashed out on three tanks which is a bit generous really, given that most of them were well out of action by late 1944. I'd rather have Type 95 Ha Go but, as no one seems to make them in 15mm, I'm happy with the Chi Ha as they were around in the Arakan and remind me of the old Airfix kit version too (great box art on that one!). 

Saturday 18 February 2012

Back Home Again

We got home earlier this afternoon after a very enjoyable holiday to Suffolk, even though I've had a bug for the whole week and am now suffering as a result. We spent most days on trips to various historical places including Sutton Hoo, Orford Castle and Framlingham Castle, which were very interesting. The highlight of the week for me was a trip to the IWM museum at Duxford, which was fantastic. I particularly enjoyed the workshops where I took loads of close up photos of the various classic fighters that were being restored or maintained. Very, very cool.

Friday 10 February 2012

Off The Radar

I'm off on holiday for a week so will be incommunicado for at least five or six days. If you're off on holiday this half term, I hope you have a great time and get some of that leadpile shifted.

Thursday 9 February 2012

Holiday Projects

It's my last day at work tomorrow before the half term holidays and I'm definately a bit de-mob happy. It's a bit of an uphill slog at work at the moment so I'm looking forward to the week off, with the possibility of some painting as an added incentive, although it'll have to be done on the move as we're off to Suffolk for the duration.

I've reluctantly come to the conclusion that the Darkest Africa project is too much to handle at the moment and have packed the Nkonde away until April, when they'll be off to France for the Easter holidays. In the meantime, I've decided to dig out the 28mm Gladiators that I based up and undercoated in the Summer.

I'm going to take them with me next week, to see if I can get them painted up over the half term, although I suspect they might not make much progress unless I get my act together. I've been promising to get them done for six months or so and they shouldn't take too long to do, once I get started, so there's no excuse to crack on with them over the half term break.

Wednesday 8 February 2012

Burma Bookshelf Overload

I've added one (final?) volume to the reading list for the 15mm IABSM Burma project and it's Defeat into Victory, the autobiographical account of the campaign by Field Marshall William 'Bill' Slim. It's a bit of a must read for the project but will have to wait until I've cleared my way through some of the less voluminous titles in the collection.

I'm off to Suffolk on holiday next week so will be taking one or two good books along for some self indulgent reading practise. I'll also be taking the IABSM 3 rules too so that I can read them through properly before I decide on the exact format of the units I'll be painting up, whenever I get round to it. I'm also hoping to find some good second hand bookshops that I can raid for useful stuff.

Tuesday 7 February 2012

Saurian Swashbucklers Game

The pirates versus dinosaurs game was a success this evening, although I'll be tweaking some of the rules for the heavier weapons to limit their range and increase their loading time. The swivel gun and, to a lesser extent, the blunderbuss were particularly effective, so need to be toned down a bit. The ship's cannons were also used against a particularly recalcitrant styracosaurus, with fairly predictable results.

In the end, the pirates lost one crewman to a velociraptor attack but located the treasure and carried it safely back to their waiting rowing boat. In the process, they blew up the aforementioned styracosaurus, a carnotaurus, several comsognathus and three velociraptors. They also survived the attention of the aforementioned beasties, although there were some rather nasty bites inflicted by the dino-chickens.

Arrgh matey.


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