Friday, 31 December 2021
Thursday, 30 December 2021
I've decided not to dwell on 2021 that much, for obvious reasons, so my yearly review will be a bit shorter than usual this time round. In brief, I played a lot more games this year than I have for a long time, including some memorable Dahlgren and Columbiad, Fistful of Lead, Broadside and Ram and AK47 games, a full solo Naval Command campaign based on the Indonesian Confrontation, which I really enjoyed devising and writing up, as well as a Bag the Hun solo campaign and, last but not least, some games of MiG Alley and my own Wings at War variant for the Football War, Corsairs and Cavaliers. I also played a few games at the club, notably a multiplayer Cruel Seas game and some AK47, but these were few and far between as you might expect.
As well as the actual wargaming, I also wrote an article based on the Bag the Hun Khalkhin Gol series of games that I played over the summer, now published in the 2021 Lard Mag, successfully finished play testing the Corsairs and Cavaliers rules and wrote a conversion of the club WW1 aerial rules to the modern era, aptly titled Jet Knights of the Sky. These haven't been tried out at the club yet, however, so remain on hold until things go back to something approaching normal. I also continued to support International Naval Wargaming Day, with a game of Broadside and Ram, later followed up with a couple of Dahlgren and Columbiad War of the Pacific scenarios that I devised for my 1/2400th scale ironclads.
In terms of projects, apart from the aforementioned Bag the Hun Khalkhin Gol project and the modern ships for Naval Command, including British, Indonesian, Chilean and Chinese forces, it's been a less successful twelve months. I had a lot of stuff on my 'to do' list and started on a couple of projects, such as 1/2400th scale Napoleonic French ships and a 1/3000th scale WW2 Italian fleet, but these stalled early on due to a work overload in the latter half of the year. I wish I'd managed to get these shifted as I am still keen on both of these projects and have some excellent rules to use with them, but supply work got a bit busy due to teacher absences so they are still on the metaphorical slipway. I also had some inevitable dead ends, most notably an ill judged attempt to get a 28mm British platoon painted for Chain of Command (what was I thinking!?)
I managed to avoid too many distractions this year and so did a little bit of painting rather than just adding more lead to the pile. This included a single 28mm mountain gun for my Back of Beyond expedition army, a handful of extra ironclads for my War of the Pacific Chilean and Peruvian fleets, some Royal Navy coastal monitors for my Victorian ironclads, a load of 1/3000th scale post war and modern warships (see above) and a complete flotilla of E Boats for Cruel Seas. I also painted all of the 1/600th scale Japanese and Russian aircraft for my Khalkhin Gol project and some extras for the Football War and MiG Alley projects as well. I even scratch built a railway for AK47. Not too bad, if not a massive inroad into the lead mountain.
That's all folks!
Wednesday, 29 December 2021
I arrived home this morning after a very long overnight ferry journey from Brittany. Having spent most of the morning unpacking, I've had a quick look at the workbench and have dusted off the 1/600th scale Tumbling Dice aircraft for the Finest Hour campaign, including the squadron of Hurricanes that I almost managed to finish before we departed. As I have to isolate for a couple of days now, it's an ideal time to get them painted up and decaled before the end of 2021!
Tuesday, 28 December 2021
I finished reading Lancaster the other day, which was both well researched and very interesting, so I decided to start The Red Line by the same author, even though it covers some of the same ground. It focuses on the disastrous raid on Nuremberg in March 1944 but also details the experience of air crew throughout the war, with an emphasis on first hand accounts based on interviews, backed up by documentary sources. I haven't decided if I'm going to tackle Target for Tonight as a project next year yet, so some background reading will help me to make up my mind.
Sunday, 26 December 2021
It's that time of year again when the sales are in full swing and you end up buying yet more stuff that will probably get no where near a paintbrush or wargaming table. I've resisted any temptation this time round apart from the Wargame Vault sale in which I have bought the Dawn of Iron rules and supplements for ACW naval and riverine games, which have recently been published by Scary Biscuit Studios.
The whole lot cost just under twenty quid, so a bit of a bargain even when you factor in the printing that has to be done, especially as you only need to print out what you need. The rules use data cards for each ship, much like the ones in Flames of War, which is no surprise as the author wrote both systems. I'm now thinking of bumping this onto my naval project for 2022, using card counters to start with then 1/600th scale models once I've learnt the rules.
Saturday, 25 December 2021
In my family we have two Xmas days, the first in France with the relatives and the second, proper one with presents on New Year's Day back home. As a result, we don't get our main presents today, apart from the French ones from that side of the family, which are more like stocking fillers than big gifts.
I was lucky enough to get this cracking hardback book for my present this year, which includes facsimile pages from L'Illustration, a contemporary French illustrated journal. It's packed full of photographs, sketches, maps and drawings, covering the entire First World War. The sketches are particularly atmospheric and really capture a lot of detail in uniforms, equipment and battlefield terrain.
Thursday, 23 December 2021
I've been reading Lancaster by Jon Nichol over the last few days and it has inspired me to have a go at Target for Tonight, the rules for which are available as a paperback book. It's a novel set of rules that uses beer mats or similar tiles to represent the inward and outbound stages of a raid over Germany in 1943-45.
The game uses 1/1200th or 1/600th and 1/300th scale aircraft, with a role play style system for generating crews and missions. It is also ideal for solo play, as each stage of the mission is generated using a random series of dice rolls from tables. It's another potential project for 2022 but something else will have to be shoved sideways to make it fit in.
The best bit is that it needs only a small number of models, some basic scratch building and a bit of photocopying to set up, so a quick and cheap project with no big cost or time involved. I'd be using 1/600th scale models and possibly more than just the Lancaster, for which the rules are designed, as I like the idea of deploying some Wellingtons instead. Not only that but Dan at Flight Deck Decals has some excellent RAF squadron code sets too!
Wednesday, 22 December 2021
Tuesday, 21 December 2021
A few more French military history and wargaming magazines to add to the loft insulation today. They all have some interesting and relevant content, with links to some of my many and varied projects, so definately worth getting hold of. The best articles include some Operation Blackcock stuff for What a Tanker and some great coverage of the use of assorted armour in French Indochina that looks really useful.
Monday, 20 December 2021
This is perhaps more relevant for my other blog but it also links with my Thud Ridge project, so I'll post it here anyway. I've just got hold of a second hand copy of Phantom Leader, the solitaire card / boardgame of strike missions over North Vietnam, which will be an extra stocking filler for Xmas. It's designed for solo play and includes both USAF and USN aircraft cards, so very much the same theme as Thud Ridge. I'm really looking forward to trying it out when I get back from France.
Sunday, 19 December 2021
We're at the in laws for the Xmas holidays so, according to the new restrictions, we have to quarantine for at least forty eight hours. Luckily, I've packed some hex and counter, beer and pretzels style wargames for just this eventuality, the first being a Vae Victis magazine solo game of LRDG raids in North Africa, and the second an old favorite of mine, the Strategy and Tactics magazine game Successors. I'll be playing one or other (or even both) of these over the next few days and will post some after action reports on my other blog:
Saturday, 18 December 2021
The very last of my project plans for next year is to finally get round to some squad / platoon level skirmish gaming in 15mm. This will be focussed on my long running but never ending Sandbox Skirmish project, which has been stalled for what seems like years due to a lack of suitable terrain.
A chance discovery of a shed load of polystyrene sheets, in roughly 3' x 2' sections, at the local tip last week now solves the terrain problem, as I can use them to make some bespoke desert boards with all the contours modelled in, perhaps even in a semi modular design so that they can be used together.
I have also been thinking about other 15mm or 10mm skirmish options but will try to stick to the post-colonial and/or modern focus, as I already have quite a lot of stuff half finished, so it would be a shame not to get it wrapped up. It will be great to actually get some games of No End In Sight sorted in 2022!
Thursday, 16 December 2021
I'm now officially on holiday but whether I end up in Brittany or not this year for Xmas is anyone's guess, now that the goal posts have moved again. Anyway, I have some interesting books to read while I'm stuck on a ferry or not, including this one on ancient Greek naval warfare which so far has been quite informative. It's something I know very little about and this looked like a good place to start. It has already given me a clearer idea about fleet composition and tactics, so it should be a good introduction for my solo campaign next year.
Wednesday, 15 December 2021
For my ancient naval project next year, using the campaign supplement for Ad Mare Bellum, I thought it would be good to have some land based armies to fight out any battles that crop up. So, I've ordered a battle pack of 2mm Ancient Greek hoplite armies from Irregular Miniatures, which are a scale above the 1/2400th scale galleys from Tumbling Dice but should be fine as I'm not going to put them together on the table.
I'm going to use a simple set of fast play rules to resolve the actual battles, probably the One Hour Wargames rules by Neil Thomas or the slightly more detailed version from his Ancient and Medieval Wargaming book, which look ideal for quick and simple battles on a small space with my coastal terrain doubling up as hills. I'm hoping that for a minimal outlay in cost and time, I will be able to add a whole new dimension to the campaign.
Tuesday, 14 December 2021
I've been giving some more thought to the Thud Ridge project that I prepared a few months ago and have decided to add it to my project 'to do' list for 2022 as the Wings at War element of my air wargaming plans. I will start this off with the minimum forces I need for the USAF and NVAF and build it up as I go on, adding all the extra bits for missions as and when I want to try them out. I've been enthused by Simon Tyler's excellent guide to the Thud Ridge rules and, in particular, by his really useful explanation of US tactics:
So, the initial plan will be to put together the North Vietnamese contingent including MiG-17's, MiG-21's and a couple of MiG-19's, together with some 1/600th scale SAM launchers. I can double up the targets that I scratch built for the Football War, reusing them for Vietnam to save a lot of extra effort. but adding a handful of new ones with specific details. After that I will go on to assemble a USAF strike package with top cover and at least a couple of ECM aircraft for counter measures.
Sunday, 12 December 2021
This is a newly published supplementary set of 'roleplay light' campaign rules for solo coastal warfare games, aimed squarely at Cruel Seas but useable for any set of suitable rules. I wasn't impressed by Cruel Seas at all, so I will be using them with Long Face Games Narrow Seas, which are a far more 'historical' set of rules altogether, based on tried and tested mechanisms that I'm already familiar with from David's other naval rule systems.
I may eventually fiddle about with them for Steamer Wars to set up an alternative naval campaign on Lake Tanganyika or somewhere like the Rufiji Delta, where there would be lots of scope for personalised some naval 'derring do' in small, fast (or not so fast) craft. I also have some Langton Miniatures 1/200th scale WW1 coastal motor boats, a coastal U-boat and a 1/180th plastic kit of a Chinese WW1 gunboat that would be great for role play style wargaming, along the lines of Lt Augustus Agar's VC CMB raid on Kronstadt perhaps?
It's all very exciting and full of potential but perhaps the best thing is that all of the proceeds will be going to a food bank charity, so you really have a good excuse to download a copy from Wargame Vault!
Saturday, 11 December 2021
I played another enjoyable solo game of MiG Alley today, with six pairs of B-29's on a bombing mission over North Korea being intercepted by an equal number of NKAF MiG-15's. I haven't used the B-29's in a game before as I was unhappy with the paint job which I had rushed to finish at the end of the project, so they've been parked in a box until now. I thought it would be interesting to try them out on an unescorted mission to see what happened, as they were shot to bits when they tried it in 1950. The Victory Points for the USAF came to a total of twelve but I used a different ratio to calculate the Victory Targets, a half rather than a third of the total, so the USAF had to get six points and the NKAF three points to win.
In the game, the USAF B-29's split into three separate pairs and flew up the table aiming for the objectives, which included three ground targets and a bridge over the Yalu, while the NKAF MiG-15's also split into three pairs and zoomed down from the Chinese border to intercept the bombers. The North Koreans had some bad luck again, with one MiG shot down early on by the lethal rear cannon of the B-29's and two others having Low Ammo rolls when they attempted a gun run on one of the bomber pairs. The B-29's managed to knock out one of the ground targets in return with a D6 roll of 6, so they were ahead in the points already.
In the subsequent turns, the MiG's downed two of the bombers after getting behind them but had another fighter shot down in the returning 'snap shot' fire from the rear cannon of the B-29's. The bombers then knocked out another ground target and shot down another two MiG's right at the end of the game, making their Victory Target of six before they had been able to get to the bridge, despite having dropped down to level two to start the bomb run. The end score was six to the USAF and two to the NKAF, so a close run thing, as the North Koreans would have only needed one more bomber destroyed to be the scenario winners.
I'll definitely be keeping the Victory Target tweak for future games, as it worked really well and extended the session for much longer than in previous games, also adding a more exciting pace to the mission. I will be repainting the B-29's however, as the crappy paint job just isn't up to scratch and looks terrible even with my dodgy phone camera!