Monday, 30 December 2019

Naval Thunder Over Norway

I'm going to get a copy of this tomorrow, once I've sorted out the unpacking from the holiday trip to Brittany, with a view to some early WWII naval wargaming in 2020. I'll also be setting out my plans for the year, most of which will continue to be maritime, with one or two diversions into air warfare themed projects as usual. 

Saturday, 28 December 2019

2019 Retrospective

I've really enjoyed this project!

The time has come to look back over the last twelve months to see what I've managed to shift from the top of the lead pile. It's not been a bad year wargames wise but I have continued to move along at a snails pace, largely due to my on-going aversion to painting anything and my other commitments, although working part time has helped a bit. In retrospect a lot of my output has been only partially completed but this seems to be one of those inevitable things that I just can't seem to get away from, however hard I stick at it and despite my best intentions!

As far as actual wargaming is concerned, my old New Year resolution to play more games at the club has fallen flat on it's face but I have played a quite a few games at home. I did run a couple of games of Bag the Hun and WW1 Knights of the Sky at the club, together with a What a Tanker! introduction game which went down well with the regulars. I've also joined in with a Cruel Seas game, a Napoleonic fleet action and the recent Narvik re-play, but that's about it for club activity this year. At home, I've devised and played several Victorian ironclad scenarios for Broadside and Ram, which I've really enjoyed and will introduce at the club in 2020.

In terms of painting, I've finished some 1/72nd scale Soviet tanks for What a Tanker!, finally painted nearly all of the 1/2400th scale Tumbling Dice French and British ironclads, built and painted a Junkers J1 for Knights of the Sky, and shifted some other stuff a little further forward on the painting production line. I didn't complete the S-Boats or MTB's for Cruel Seas, the 1864 ironclads or the British AFV's for the 15mm Sandbox Skirmish project, but they have had some attention when I've been able to squeeze them in. I did manage to re-base all of my 1/3000th scale WW2 French fleet, however, which has breathed some new life into an old project for 2020.

On the production line front, I've assembled and based a 1/2400th scale French Napoleonic fleet and have glued together a load of late war British, German and American tanks for What a Tanker!, even though they are now sitting in a box waiting to be painted. I've also scratch built a whole set of pretty effective Mediterranean themed modular coastal terrain for 1/2400th scale wargaming and a load of winter terrain pieces for What a Tanker!, although there's more to do on both accounts before I'm finished. I enjoy scratch building terrain and buildings but haven't made as much this year as I have in the past so that's something else to consider for the year ahead.

The things that fell by the wayside include the Congo project, which just didn't get off the ground for various reasons, the aforementioned Cruel Seas boats, the Fokker Dr1's for Knights of the Sky and the Sandbox Skirmish project, which has just got stuck in a bit of a rut after a pretty productive start. I'll carry on with most of these in dribs and drabs but the Congo project will probably be shoved back in it's box, as 2020 is destined for more naval wargaming rather than 28mm  things. In fact, I'm thinking of selling off most of my 28mm lead and plastic pile, as it's just soaking up shelf space and will probably never see a lick of paint!

The wargaming highlight of the year, apart from my Victorian ironclad solo project, was probably the Come and Have a Go, if you think you're Lard Enough? event in March, during which I ran a couple of back to back Bag the Hun games. I really enjoyed this very well organised and friendly day out, with both of my games being well received by the players, so much so that I'm running another Bag the Hun game next year too, although it still needs some more preparation work with nearly thirty 1/285th scale aircraft to paint in the next ten weeks or so! 

Overall, I've had a low key but enjoyable year of wargaming, with a fair output of new things to play with and some old favourites revisited. I'm looking forward to 2020, as I have already got at least three projects on the workbench that have time limited deadlines to be met otherwise I'll be in a bit of trouble before I've even started! I'll set out my plans for the next twelve months soon, but as previously mentioned the overall theme will definitely have a nautical flavour once again, as I've found this to be a most rewarding and productive approach over the previous couple of years. I just hope I get more games under my belt than I have done in 2019?

Friday, 27 December 2019

Narvik 1940...or 1904?

I'm skipping through the habitual Osprey, this time on the destroyer actions at Narvik in April 1940, with a view to some naval wargaming in 2020. I like the idea of destroyer scenarios but with a 'What if?' twist, in this case transferring the Narvik events back in time to an earlier period, perhaps a pre-dreadnought or later Victorian  ironclad setting. I do like these 'camouflaged' counter factual scenario twists, so have come up with some initial ideas.

I can re-imagine a Japanese torpedo boat raid against Russian light cruisers and troopships during the Russo Japanese War, for example, or a similar fictitious scenario involving French Torpedo Boats and British Torpedo Boat Destoyers in the 1890's, albeit in a different location. Added to that, there's scope for a change of scale to 1/300, so that destroyers are translated into MGB's and MTB's against R-boats, S-boats and VP boats...

...or I could just stick to 1/3000 scale and keep it as a historical refight? 

Thursday, 26 December 2019

Boxing Day Bargain

There's a sale on at Warlord Games so I had a look at the Cruel Seas offers. There wasn't much to choose from but I have ordered a couple of really useful Raumboote and some Fairmile D MTB's chucked in for good measure. The postage was a bit steep but it has saved me thirty quid on the retail price, so not a bad Boxing Day bargain!

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Happy Christmas!

I hope you have a very happy Christmas and some nice stocking fillers to enjoy!

Monday, 23 December 2019

Holiday Reading

I really enjoyed the Narvik game at the club a couple of weeks ago, so when looking for something to read over the holidays, I picked this one out of the digital bookshelf. I've read quite a lot of books on destroyer actions before but this one slipped past undetected, so I thought it would be an interesting read. I'm on the Narvik chapter now, so will be able to compare what actually happened with how our game turned out. It's also got me wondering if I can justify adding a 1/350th scale destroyer kit to my Cruel Seas collection?

Saturday, 21 December 2019

Magasin De Presse

I'm at the in laws for the holidays, so have popped into the local newsagent for some magazines, as you do. I only picked up the current edition of Aerojournal, which has an excellent article on the Finnish Air Force in the Winter War and Continuation War, which is one of my long term projects for Bag the Hun and possibly Wings At War. I couldn't find Vae Victis, however, but I'm hoping to get a copy of the next issue later on, as it has a Narvik 1940 hex and counter game, a scenario for What a Tanker! plus an article on the Free French for Cruel Seas no less, so right up my street given my current workbench project!

Thursday, 19 December 2019

Taking a Tea Break

I'm on holiday as of  tomorrow afternoon, so I'll be taking a short break from the workbench and heading over to my somewhat neglected board wargaming blog for a few days. I'll be dusting off my favourite Beer and Pretzels one brain cell game, Lock n' Load's excellent Tank on Tank, for some Eastern Front WW2 action. It will be really great to get back to some good, old fashioned hex and counter wargaming with none of that messy paint or superglue in sight!

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Stocking Fillers

I was in The Works yesterday looking for stocking fillers for the kids when I spotted this for a fiver, amongst several other Haynes Explains manuals. I'm not a big fan of this series but this one is published with the Tank Museum, so is definitely a cut  above the rest in terms of detail and accuracy. It's actually really good and has me wondering about WW1 What a Tanker! even though the scope for tank vs. tank engagements is very limited to say the least. I have some 15mm Peter Pig Mk IV's somewhere too, not to mention a few of the Pendraken 10mm equivalent both of which would be a splendid place to get we go again!

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Tumbling Dice 1/2400th ACW Commission

I have unexpectedly found myself with a rather unusual painting commission involving quite a lot of the Tumbling Dice 1/2400th scale American Civil War river gunboat range, which I've been asked to base and paint up. Although this came out of the blue, it's something I'm quite looking forward to, at the moment at least! However, I won't be posting much about it until it's completed, as I don't want it to take over the projects that I'm also tackling for myself. If all goes according to plan, I'll have got them all done by the end of January, fingers firmly crossed!

Cruel Seas Christmas

It's been a bit hectic over the last few days so I've only just managed to assemble three more Vosper MTB's for the Cruel Seas 23rd MTB flotilla. These are now on the painting schedule for the week or so after Xmas, as I'm not around for most of the initial week. If I can, I'm going to add a couple more MTB's from my Xmas stocking and also get the 5th S-Boot flotilla painted up as well. This will be a bit tight as I have a BIG commission painting job that I really need to crack on through by the end of January, so that I can clear the decks for the Bag the Hun aircraft that I have to get done by the end of February!

Monday, 16 December 2019

Club Xmas Game

Tomorrow it's the annual club Xmas game, which I usually miss as we are away, but this year can take part in because it's relatively early. The game is very silly but, to cut a long story short, involves each player putting together a posse or gang of characters worth 10 points in total, with one leader costing more than an individual gang member. You can use whatever you have lying around, so I  dug out some old Warhammer dwarves that I found in the local charity shop and added some snow on the bases. These are obviously the Seven Dwarves from the Xmas panto who have lost Snow White and are tracking her down (she's been kidnapped by the Coca Cola corporation...don't ask). If I can find a Snow White figure she will be the gang leader but, for the moment, it's going to have to be Grumpy. 

Broadside and Ram QRS

I've now finished the Quick Reference Sheet for Broadside and Ram, including the house rules that I've worked on over the last half a dozen scenarios, so that I can now set up a game at the club. I won't post it here, however, as it would give too much away and probably infringe copyright, but you can see a preview in the image above. In the end, the only significant tweaks I've made are to ramming and collisions, the use of simultaneous gunfire in the turn sequence and a revised table for Critical Hits.  I've also changed the firing arcs and turning angles so that I can make use of my handy Warbases lasercut acrylic templates.

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Broadside and Ram House Rules

I'm putting together a Quick Reference  Sheet for Broadside and Ram so thought it would be a good idea to incorporate the tweaks that I've made over several games, most of which either clarify things or add a bit more tactical detail.

Movement and Turning

Only one move can be made per turn, either CS or MS, the latter costing 1AP. Only 1 AP can be spent for MS movement per turn i.e. you can't move more than that in a turn

Turning radii are halved to a maximum 45 degrees for AS, WS, SS and MS, but 90 degrees for GB and paddle vessels, due to their better manoeuvrability.

Sidewheel Paddle vessels may rotate 360 degrees on the spot in the turn phase but must be stationary to do so.

Collisions and Rams

Ram Bow equipped ships get a 2D6 addition to combat factor when ramming. Do not add the combat factor. Instead Attacker rolls 1D6 + CS/MS and Defender rolls 1D6 + DF.


Firing arcs are halved to 22.5 degrees from each beam.

Damage Effects

If a second damage result of the same type or higher is suffered then the damage level increases by one level e.g. if a Silenced ship has a second Silenced result, it becomes Crippled.

If a second damage result is caused but it is lower, than the current damage level,  it has no effect e.g. if Crippled and a Damaged result is caused, then the ship remains Crippled.

Critical Hits

The table for Critical Hits has been replaced with a slightly amended one:

Roll 2D6 if critical hit scored.

1-2 = Fire

Roll 2D6 at the start of each turn. 2-6 = damage escalates 1 level, 7-11 = fire extinguished, 12 = Magazine Explodes. Ship has -1 penalty to shooting when on fire.

3-4 = Gun Deck Damage (as table)

5-6= Engine Damage (as table)

7-8 = Upper Deck Damage (as table)

9-10 = Waterline Damage (as table)

11-12 = Magazine Hit (as table)

Shattered Ships

Roll a D6 at the start of each turn, on a roll of 6 in the first turn the ship sinks, 5-6 in the second turn, 4-6 in the third turn and so on.

I'm also going to have a think about some rules for booms, tethered mines (torpedoes) and spar torpedo equipped boats but they will have to be play tested before I build them into a game.

Saturday, 14 December 2019

Broadside and Ram Club Game Plan

I've offered to run a game of Broadside and Ram in January at the club, which has picked up some interest, so I'll be planning this out over the holidays. I think I can squeeze in a couple of scenarios to an evening, as it's a fast play set of rules, so will do a replay of the Battle of La Baie d'Audierne, which I soloed a few months ago:

This is ideal as it involves a large number of ships and has a few challenges thrown in for both the French and the British. I'll also have a go at summarising the rules onto a double sided A4 sheet, incorporating some of the tweaks that I've added for more tactical level scenarios. This shouldn't be too difficult and avoid the need to explain the rules more than once or twice during the game.

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Cruel Seas Tanker Target

I decided to add a tanker to my Cruel Seas pile of models, so that I can try out the rules at home once I've painted up the Vosper MTB's and S-Boats from the starter set, together with a trawler and Vorpostenboot as the core of the two forces. I'm going to focus on the Cruel Seas project in the latter half of the Xmas holidays, as we're away for the first week and I have other things to do after mid-January, specifically the aircraft for the Lard Day. I don't think the coastal warfare stuff will take long to do and I'm not going for any painting awards, so I should be up and running for some games at the club in 2020 (fingers crossed!)

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Narvik Naval Game Photos

We had a very enjoyable game of Sea Wars Fleet Action at the club yesterday, scaled down to a tactical level for destroyer actions in the Norwegian fjords. I was playing half of the Royal Navy force, which consisted of a light cruiser and two destroyers, but managed to have the latter sunk by the end of the game. In return, we totally wiped out the Kriegsmarine leaving only a single supply ship to surrender at the very end. It was a fast paced and exciting game, which we all enjoyed so I'm hoping there will be more to follow. Good fun!

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Norway 1940 Naval Game

I'm off on a rare visit to the club this evening for a spot of WW2 naval wargaming, which is going to focus on destroyer actions up the Norwegian fjords in April 1940. The rules are Sea Wars, Fleet Action by A and A Games, which I've played before but a long time ago, with the ships being in glorious 1/3000th scale. I'm not umpiring this one so will just be a player for a change, which is something I'm really looking forward to. I'll post some photos and a write up tomorrow.

Monday, 9 December 2019

23rd MTB Flotilla Painting

I'm starting on the three Vosper 72.5' MTB's over the next couple of days and may even get them painted and based if I don't get side lined, so I've been doing a trawl of the internet for photographs that I can use as a guide. There are a few interesting and relevant articles out there, including a brief overview on the Warlord Games Cruel Seas website, so I have some idea about how to go about painting the models. The camouflage scheme used on these boats was the typical mid-war white hull and upper works with B15 grey blue decks, so nothing too complicated and relatively quick to do (I hope?)

Lard Day Luftwaffe Role Revision

I've managed to find some much better artwork for the 5./JG2 turn cards online, so I've changed the images on the existing cards to make them look the part. This has also meant that I've had to swap the roles over so that the Staffelkapitan, Lt. Horst Kruger, is now Blue Schwarm Leader and his role as Red Leader has been taken by Lt.Fritz Maly. To round things off, the FW-190A2 section is now Yellow Schwarm under Oblt.Wolf Von Bulow, with Blue and Red Schwarme equipped with the Bf-109F4's. It all sounds like minor tinkering, which I suppose it is, but it does mean that the turn cards now fit the formations. Tally Ho!

Sunday, 8 December 2019

Cruel Seas 23rd Flotilla MTB's

I've had (yet) another change of course over the last week or so, realising that the French pre-dreadnought project is probably a bit too much to bite off in one go just yet, so it's back to Cruel Seas but with a different focus. I have three sprues of Vosper MTB's from the starter set which I am going to build and paint up but just the three early Vosper models for the moment. I've ordered a boxed set of Vosper MTB's to add to these first three, so will have these as the basis of a flotilla once I've factored them in.

As I like a historical angle to my projects, the idea is to model the MTB's of the 23rd Free French flotilla which was based at Dartmouth between January 1943 and August 1944. These were of the Vosper 72 1/2' 1940-41 design and looked identical to the models on the Cruel Seas sprue, with only a  few minor variations in armament. There were eight boats in the flotilla, MTB 90, 91, 92, 94, 96, 98, 227 and 239, so I will have almost enough to replicate them all.

This project will inevitably spill over into 2020, but that's fine with me as I have been meaning to tackle it at some point and really should have done it sooner. In the longer term, I'll also get the 5th Flotilla S-Boats painted and assembled, which I started on way back in the July but ended up shelving, but they're already well underway so shouldn't take too long to complete. I'm going to base everything on transparent acrylic too, as I can't stand the idea of sticky fingers all over my paintwork!

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Football War Follow Up

I had a note from Paul Sulley of Tumbling Dice to say that he's going to be publishing my Football War variant of the Wings at War game, Corsairs and Cavaliers, which I put together a couple of  years ago and sent off to him as a proposal. He had mentioned this to be before but I assumed it had dropped off his radar, so I'm really pleased that it should be available sometime early in 2020, if all goes according to plan. I'll have to finish painting my 1/600th scale planes for the Honduran and Salvadoran Air Forces now so that I can actually have a game when it arrives!

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Cruel Seas Royal Navy Vosper MTB's

One of the ways in which I have cut back on the 'ooh shiny' impulse buying thing has been to wait at least six months before I jump on any passing bandwagons. This has worked really well over the last couple of years, as not only has the bandwagon usually disappeared over the horizon but, if it hasn't, everyone else has lost interest and has bunged it on eBay for a fraction of the original, often over inflated price tag.

It hasn't always worked, however, and I have acquired some 'shiny things' that have ended up gathering dust on the workbench shelves. One such embarrassment has been Cruel Seas, which I had every intention of tackling this year but didn't really get off the ground. To make up for this, I've shoved it back into the schedule for next year, with a renewed focus on some Royal Navy Vosper MTB's, of which I have a few from the starter set and the front cover of Wargames Illustrated. 

These will be quick to construct and hopefully fairly swift to paint, as I have no shortage of suitable colours to dip into and have painted up loads of the 1/600th scale equivalent in the past. I also now have some additional painting reference material, so will be able to represent some specific MTB's from particular flotilla, with the correct camouflage schemes and all the relevant accurate details. I may even get some more Royal Navy craft for Xmas?!

What was I saying about bandwagons...?

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Lard Day Luftwaffe Turn Cards

It's been a struggle finding the graphics for these but they're now done, at least in prototype format for the moment. I may add a couple more special cards for scenario flexibility but I think I have now sorted the cards I need for a playtest game. I'll have to get them printed and laminated first though, which is a bit of a pain to say the least. 

Monday, 2 December 2019

Mid Air Mishaps in Knights of the Sky

In the WW1 aerial game at the club the other week, one of the chaps had a very interesting idea. At one point there was a real pile up over the target area and it looked as though all of the aircraft involved were getting just a little bit too intimate with each other. This raised the inevitable question from one of the new players about mid-air collisions, to which the aforementioned veteran responded with a cunning plan, a potential mechanism for just such a thing.

I bounced this idea off the rules designer, Richard, via email and he was kind enough to send me this very enlightening reply:

I have always taken the view that mid air collisions were very rare because the aircraft were slow, manouvreable and there were relatively few of them flying around.  The horizontal scale is about 1:3000 and the vertical scale is about 1:12000, so in KoTS 'the same hexagon and at the same height' represents over 100 million cubic metres of air!  That said, feel free to add a house rule if you wish.  

How about all the players with aircraft in the same hexagon and at the same height roll 2xD6 if 2 or more of the players score a double 1, they make contact.  If that happens give them 1 each of all 4 coloured dice to roll for damage.  That gives a very small chance of a lot of damage which feels about right.  

I thought this sounded very sensible, so I will try it out in the next game that we play. I'm sure Oswald Boelcke would agree?

Coastal Warfare Windfall

I had a very busy weekend for various reasons, from making a full scale cardboard Christmas tree for scouts to taking the sprog on another university open day, so didn't get much done apart from the Christmas shopping. However, I sneaked in a trip to the local Oxfam bookshop where I found a shrink wrapped, brand new four volume set of coastal warfare books covering the principal MTB, MGB and ML's used by the Royal Navy, with full coloured profiles of each type and for multiple individual craft. 

It's a fantastic resource for painting and I can use it for both my well established 1/600th scale project and the 1/300 Cruel Seas stuff, which the guys at the club keep telling me just has to be done. The whole lot cost me twenty quid, which is an absolute bargain given that they go for nearly eighteen quid each! They have now gone in my stocking for Christmas Day, giving plenty of time to work out what I can do with all those lovely colour profiles and plan views. 


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