Thursday 31 December 2020

2020 Review

That was definitely a year to forget. However, I did manage to make it a less than 'a little bit crap' year for the hobby, both from a project and wargaming point of view. I'm not going to go through everything I've done this year but just pick out some of the positives rather than the negatives, which seems like a good thing to do and a great way to finish off the year.

In terms of games played this year, I only managed to get to the club on a very few occasions, where I ran Broadside and Ram and What A Tanker introductory sessions as well as taking part in Cruel Seas and Kiss Me Hardy games, which I really enjoyed. As usual, I set up and umpired another spectacular AK47 game, which is a club crowd pleaser. I also ran a very successful Bag the Hun game at the Lard Day in March, which seemed to be a hit with most if not all of the players.

At home, however, I was able to play more games than ever before, both with the sprogs during lock down but also solo, which is something I often do even when things are normal. These games included an excellent AK47 bash and a Back of Beyond game with my eldest son, a whole series of Target Locked On games with my daughter and several brilliant Fistful of Lead games with all three of the kids. 

I also played half a dozen games of Broadside and Ram and Dahlgren and Columbiad, including a mini-campaign of linked 'What If?' scenarios with the former which were really good fun. The INWARD game this year was a semi-historical Dahlgren and Columbiad scenario, which was a great way to learn the rules, and I finally got round to re-enacting the 1864 Battle of Jasmund with Broadside and Ram, albeit with card counters not proper metal warships.

In terms of projects, I went a bit 'off piste' this year, although in the same ball park as my initial project planning at the start of the year. I started with a 1/2400th scale ACW painting commission which distracted me a bit, but I soon got back on track by completing two squadrons of 1/285th scale Spitfires, Fw190's and Bf109's of the RAF and Luftwaffe for the Come and Have a Go If You Think You're Lard Enough 2 day. 

I also finished off some 1/2400th scale broadside ironclads for my French and British fleets, then added a whole squadron of US ironclads and warships as well, which subsequently appeared in my mini-campaign. I even squeezed in some Danish ships for 1864 but half of these are now re-purposed as Chilean or Peruvian warships, with the rest of my 1/2400th scale War of the Pacific ironclads added in to complete that unplanned but enjoyable project. 

The things I hadn't planned at all came along as a direct result of lockdown and quarantine. These were the 28mm Beja army for The Men Who Would Be Kings, which I completed up to a point, as I'd like to re-do the bases when I get the time. I was happy with the figures, all ninety eight of them, but the bases are definitely up for improvement, being a bit rushed and not quite the right look. I also need to paint a matching British or Egyptian army so they actually get to see some action!

The enforced two week quarantine after our holiday, also gave me the time to scratch build some modular river terrain and two flotillas of river gunboats in 1/2400th scale, which is something that appeared out of nowhere but was actually really good fun. I'm still pondering the shade of brown that I used on the river sections, however, and may well go back and repaint them in a less red oxide shade. I particularly enjoyed scratch building and converting the model gunboats for this project.

There were a few more side lines and dead ends this year, with one or two projects still not finished, or even started in some cases, but overall it's been a fairly productive year all things considered. I've got some things to carry over into 2021, the 1/2400th scale pre-dreadnoughts and 1/3000th scale modern naval projects for starters, but also some new ideas for interesting projects that I'm definitely looking forward too....more about those in 2021!

Happy New Year!

Wednesday 30 December 2020

Cruel Seas Discount Decal Deal

I'm giving Cruel Seas a definite place on the project short list for 2021, despite having failed completely to get it going in 2020. The advantage of postponing a project for a year or so is that, after the initial hype and hoohah surrounding a new rules system or set of models, the rush dies down and all of the stuff that people bought in a mad rush ends up on eBay or heavily discounted by traders. 

So it is with Cruel Seas. A good example are these decals from Flight Deck Decals, many of which are currently on sale and are at the end of their production run, so won't be available much longer. I've ordered some of the S-Boat decals which cover the 1st, 5th and 8th S-Boote flotillas, so enough for my late war S100 and S38b boats, as well as decking out my otherwise surplus early war S38 boats. 

I also added some discounted sheets for various British MTB units including the Free French 23rd MTB flotilla, which is just what I need. A good result and one which will make my models a little more historically accurate. I will have to wait a few weeks for the order to arrive, hopefully without any customs duty, but that gives me time to at least paint the 5th Flotilla S-boote on the workbench waiting list.

Monday 28 December 2020

Let 'Em Have It!' 2021

I've decided to re-brand my naval wargaming project theme for 2021, from the tried and tested 'Give Us The Ships' to the slightly less obvious but even more direct 'Let 'Em Have It!', just because I think it's about time I re-focussed my efforts. I've got some firm plans for next year and a few tentative projects as well, some of which are being carried over from 2020 and some of which are new twists on old ideas or just completely new. I'll be setting out my overall projects in a few days time, once I've thought it through and devised a short list that will get some chance of being tackled in the next twelve months.

Cheriton Battlefield Winter Walk

Parliamentarian Lines on East Down

View toward Royalist Right Flank

Hinton Lane looking South

Hinton Lane looking North
Broad Lane looking South

Broad Lane looking North

Cheriton Wood

Alresford Lane looking South

View toward Parliamentarian Lines

The Battlefield

Monument on Royalist Left

Monument Inscription

The Battlefield Layout

The Royalist Lines from the Parliamentarian position on East Down

Alresford Lane looking North

We took a circular walk around the battlefield at Cheriton today, which is about fifteen minutes down the road from where we live, in what turned out to be terrible weather complete with rain, sleet and snow. It was a very enjoyable walk nonetheless, even though we got soaked and the dog cut his ear on brambles then electrocuted himself on a fence (he's called Jeff but now goes by the name Sparky). Anyway, here's some photos of the battlefield taken in the half light between sleet and rain showers. It would have been great to finish up by the fire in the local pub, which is owned by a friend of ours, but it's shut due to the pandemic, so we made do with a drive home in a singed wet dog smelling car.

Sunday 27 December 2020

Cruel Seas, Big Guns

I am hoping to get some Cruel Seas models completed in 2021, having failed to get this project off the slipway in 2019 or again in 2020, despite my best intentions and a couple of enjoyable games at the club. I'm not sure why it's stalled, as the models are very nice and not difficult to paint, even with my rapidly failing eyesight. I think it's a feeling of having 'missed the boat' with the initial rush of enthusiasm when the rules first came out, as well as having coastal forces stuff in 1/600th scale already, which made me question the wisdom of doing it all over again in twice the size. Anyway, to cut a long self indulgent ramble short, I thought I'd go in big with a cheap(ish) 1/350th scale Zvezda model kit of the early war German destroyer Diether Von Roeder, which should be pretty impressive on the table, as well as fun to build and paint up. Why not?!

Destroyer Actions

I'm putting together my plans for 2021 at the moment, one of which will be an early war Royal Navy vs Kriegsmarine project in 1/3000th scale, with an emphasis on the Norwegian campaign. This will require some new coastal terrain for a start but has the advantage of only needing a relatively small selection of ships, many of which are destroyers or light cruisers. I thought I'd do some further research for this, so I'm now reading Destroyer Actions, which is specifically focused on the first year of the war. My grandfather was a PO wireless telegrapher on HMS Duncan at the time too, so it's a subject with a bit of a connection, making it all the more interesting!

Saturday 26 December 2020

Hexon Plans

I'm sure this will be very useful!

I got to open my big box of Xmas Hexon terrain tiles yesterday and have been playing around with the tiles, hills and roads, thinking up interesting ways to make the most of them before the other half asks any awkward questions. Apart from AK47 and Saurian Safari, which I've used the club Hexon for in the past, I have devised a few cunning plans of my own including, for example, using 1/144th scale model aircraft for low level WWII Russian Front air wargaming, converting the board game Tank on Tank to 15mm miniatures and even an AK47 inspired 'Imaginations' modern jet dogfighting game. One thing it would be ideal for is Wings at War, especially the Thud Ridge Vietnam module, which would be easy to set up with the Hexon tiles. However, it would be a shame not to utilise the hexes for game mechanics, so I'm also going to delve into Bob Cordery's library to see what he has come up with for hex based wargaming. It's all good stuff and I'm sure I can make the most of the new terrain, given a bit of research and development?

Friday 25 December 2020

Thursday 24 December 2020

Battle of Angamos After Action Report

I had an excellent game of Dahlgren and Columbiad this afternoon, although it was a solo set up as my daughter chickened out, or just decided she had to go out with her friends rather than play toy soldiers. Anyway, I set up the scenario for the Battle of Angamos, with the Peruvian turret ram Huascar attempting to evade the two Chilean casemate ironclads, Almirante Cochrane and Blanco Encalada. I won't go into all the details but the game was action packed, with the Huascar literally running rings around the two Chilean warships, using her turret armament to blast away at her opponents who struggled to bring their broadside guns to bear. At one point, the Almirante Cochrane almost managed to ram and board her but the turn of the cards was against the Chilean and Huascar got away just in time.

The Peruvians also rolled well, while the Chileans had some pretty poor dice results, which meant that they suffered from critical hits three times during the game. These included damaged steering for the Blanco Encalada and a serious fire on board the Almirante Cochrane, with both ships also receiving heavy hull damage by the end of the action. In contrast, the Huascar got off scot free with only light hull damage, which had no effect upon either her gunnery or her mobility. I ended the game at Turn Eight, as the Huascar had achieved her victory conditions by inflicting heavy damage on both Chilean ironclads, while also escaping from their effective range in a full steam ahead out to sea. I really enjoyed this fast paced, tactical game and will no doubt play some more Dahlgren and Columbiad later in the holidays.


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