Wednesday, 4 August 2021

Bolt Action Boy

A few years ago I got hold of some Warlord US Marines in a bid to re-boot my stalled 28mm Japanese army for Chain of Command. The idea was to have a US Marine platoon to re-focus the Japanese from Malaya to the Pacific, giving me a good reason to re-paint them in jungle uniforms rather than the early war temperate ones that I started with and didn't think looked any good. Needless to say, this plan fell flat on it's face, and I moved on to other things.

On the drive up to Scotland the other day, however, the lad said he'd really like to paint a US Marine force for Bolt Action, which reminded me about the US Marine figures. I have now given these to him as a swap for the sprues of US Airborne that he got in the Bolt Action starter set, which he didn't really fancy painting. He's now got the plastuic box set of thirty figures, an HQ set, a bazooka, sniper and forward observer set, an MMG or two and a 37mm AT gun and jeep tow, so more than enough for a full platoon plus support units. 

This will hopefully give me an excuse to get the Japanese re-booted, although I'm now going to re-spray the whole lot in a light green shade and start again, not being happy with the desert yellow shade I originally used. In the meantime, I have a whole platoon of late war British infantry sitting on the workbench that I need to crack on with, when I can find the time between taxi driving and all the DITY jobs I've been left with over the summer holidays!

Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Playtesting for Khalkin Gol

I have been very busy lately in my role as a long distance dad taxi, so haven't played any games for a couple of weeks. I have at least one Naval Command scenario to play, as well as the INWarD game on Friday, but I also want to start play testing the Khalkhin Gol scenarios that I've written for Bag the Hun. I have a 'day off' tomorrow and will be using most of it to paint the extra ironclads for the INWarD game, but I'll see if I can run at least one scenario of something or other as well.

Attack on the Aix Roads - Ship Roster


Here's the roster of warships for the INWarD scenario, for which I'll be using Broadside and Ram but with a tactical rather than fleet level focus, which I've found works really well. On paper it looks like the French are the underdogs but they do also have a defensive minefield and a protective chain and log boom to hide behind, so it evens out in terms of points. I've tweaked a few of the DF values a bit, as they are very low for the French ironclads compared to the Royal Navy ironclads in some cases, which makes things harder for the frogs. In addition, I've had to work out from scratch the numbers for the monitors and rams, as well as some of the broadside ironclads but I think it's all pretty solid in terms of accuracy. 

Monday, 2 August 2021

INWarD 2021 - Scenario Scribbles

HMS Hotspur

It's INWarD 2021 on Friday, so I've been working out the scenario I'll use for the solo Broadside and Ram game that I'm planning to play on the day. 

This is set in a fictitious war between France and Great Britain in the mid 1870's, in this case in the summer of 1874 toward the end of the conflict. A French squadron has broken out of Lorient, blockaded by the British fleet, but instead of escaping across the Atlantic has been forced back into French coastal waters by the Royal Navy. The squadron, consisting of six broadside ironclads, has taken refuge in the estuary of the Charente, anchored behind a log and chain boom and protected by a fort on the nearby Ile de Aix. The squadron is also protected on either flank by shallows in which a minefield has been laid, command detonated from the fort on the island. 

The Royal Navy has devised a cunning plan to eliminate the French squadron using the ironclad ram, HMS Hotspur, to break through the boom and then attack the anchored French warships. At the same time, four shallow draft Cyclops class breastwork monitors, towed into place by conventional broadside ironclads, will attempt an outflanking approach across the shallows beyond the range of the fortress guns, penetrating the minefield and supporting HMS Hotspur in the attack. The remaining broadside ironclads will close inshore to bombard the French squadron and fortifications. The attack will be made at night to allow the monitors and ram to make their approach with some degree of stealth, although visibility remains reasonable due to the time of year.

The scenario parameters are as follows:

The table is 3'' x 5''.

The attack occurs at night but due to a full moon and the time of year, visibility is 12/24''

The shallows extend along the southern and northern edges of the table and can only be crossed by shallow draft vessels including the monitors but excluding the ram. Roll 1D6 for each such ship moving across the shallows each turn, with a score of 2+ required to avoid grounding. Any other ships attempting to enter the shallows will immediately run aground. The shallows are visible from the fort both to the north and south of the island, and from the anchored ships to the south but not to the north.

The shallows are also mined. The mines are laid in a line 3'' wide extending from the line of the chain and log boom to the north and south of the island. If the lookouts on the fort or on any of the French ironclads locate a ship in the minefield zone it will be assumed to be hostile and they may electrically detonate a mine. Roll 1D6: on a 5-6 the mine detonates and the target is hit, on a 1-2 the mine fails to explode, any other result has no effect as the target was not close enough. If a successful detonation occurs, the target ship must roll 1D6 adding it's DF. On a result of 4 or less the ship is Shattered, on a 5-6 it is Crippled, on a 7-8 it is Silenced and on 9+ it is Damaged. 

The chain and log boom extends from the fort across the deep water channel to the edge of the shallows. It has a strength of DF4. It may only be broken by a ram attack with an ironclad fitted with a ram bow. To make an attempt, a ramming ship must contact the boom at maximum speed at right angles to the line of the obstacle. Roll for a ramming attack, with the boom not counting as a stationary target and rolling 1D6 plus it's DF, the ramming ship rolling 1D6 plus 1D6 for a ram bow and adding it's AF. If the ramming ship scores more than twice the score of the boom, the boom is broken. 

The fort has a 360 degree firing arc from the centre line of the boom. It has a DF of 5 and an AF of 6 due to it's armament of heavy coastal cannon and mortars. The range of the guns is 12''. The fort may fire on any target that is in range and has been spotted and identified. The fort may be bombarded by any ship within range, assuming it is able to bring it's guns to bear. 

The French ironclads are anchored in two parallel lines across the estuary, the lines being spaced 3'' apart, and begin the scenario in a stationary position. To raise steam and slip anchor, each individual ship must spend 1AP each turn for three consecutive turns, after which the ship will be able to move as an independent command. If they remain stationary, each line of ships may be treated as a single group for command purposes, unless separated by a gap of more than 3'' due to a change or break in formation. The French may only raise steam once the attack has been detected by the lookouts in the fort or by the lookouts in the anchored squadron.

The Royal Navy's objective is to shatter or cripple as many of the French warships as possible before the scenario ends after ten turns. The French must prevent this from occurring by destroying the attacking force or by retreating up the river and off the table. If they manage to get any of the French ironclads off the table undamaged or with just damage, the scenario will be a draw. I now need to work out the AF and DF values for the monitors and ram but otherwise, I think I've got everything sorted?

Sunday, 1 August 2021

Monitors for INWarD 2021

While I was away over the last couple of days, the four Cyclops class breastwork monitors arrived from Tumbling Dice, so I'm going to get them painted up quickly for the INWarD game on Friday. They're pretty simple to paint, with black hulls, white upper works and wooden decks, so it shouldn't take long. I might even add a few individual details to differentiate between the four identical ships. Apart from these four models I think I have everything I need apart from something to represent a boom, but I'll just improvise that to make do.

Thursday, 29 July 2021

Infantry Colonel

I'm now re-reading this first hand account of the 5th Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry campaign in NW Europe, from just after D-Day all the way to Germany, as it is an excellent insight into the experience of an infantry regiment at the time, with a strong emphasis on company and platoon actions. I've read it a couple of times before but, alongside the books by Ken Ford on Gielenkirchen and Vernon, it's one of the best accounts that I've come across for the 5th DCLI. It's also really useful for my Chain of Command project. Well worth tracking down a copy if you can find one.

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Chain of Command British Rifle Platoon Undercoat

I have now spray undercoated the figures for my Chain of Command British platoon, using a Halfords Ultra Matt Camouflage Brown rattle can, which is what I used on my late war US platoon as a starting point. It's really good stuff and makes a great key for painting a basecoat and then subsequent layers, although it does make them look like they're made of milk chocolate. It also takes surprisingly long to do properly. As you can see, I've added a fourth section as a support option but will paint them up alongside the rest of the infantry figures. 

Never Mind the Billhooks in 15mm?

One of the Facebook groups that I've recently joined is for the Never Mind the Billhooks rules, a free set of War of the Roses large skirmish rules published as a freebie a few months ago in Wargames Illustrated. I got hold of a copy at the time and thought they looked good but wasn't prepared to paint up two whole armies in 28mm to use them with, as this would have been way too much for me to handle. However, I had a thought the other day that it would be an ideal 15mm project, especially as I already have a big box of surplus 15mm Peter Pig figures that I originally got as a birthday present several years ago.

These were supposed to be for Bloody Barons, for which I failed to drum up any interest at the club, then re-purposed for Lion Rampant, until I realised that 28mm was a much better option if single basing figures. So, they could now be re-purposed yet again, this time using multiple basing with some sort of casualty markers used to track the results of combat. I really like the idea of multiple basing, with the rules mainly using 12 man units, as I think it's ideal for 15mm and would look great, as well as being easier to handle. I'll give this some more thought as a potential project for later in the year. It would certainly be a good use for some lovely figures!

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Bag the Hun Khalkhin Gol Aircraft Sheets

I have been playing around with ideas for simplified and streamlined squadron record sheets for Bag the Hun but, in the meantime, have adapted my existing sheet for the most common two fighter aircraft of the two sides- the Ki-27 and I-16. I can't help thinking that I only need the basic data once and then could have a roster for each pilot with skill level, ammo used and damage sections on a table, rather than have individual sheets for every aircraft, as most scenarios only feature two types in total?

Monday, 26 July 2021

The Bolt Action Boys

Got to dig out these guys first!

As my wife and daughter are away, the boys can now take command of the dining room table for a try out game of the second edition Bolt Action rules. The eldest has now almost finished painting his late war German infantry platoon and I already have about 900 points of late war Americans for the Ardennes, so we'll run a simple meeting engagement scenario soon, set somewhere in the snow in late 1944. It may be a bit stop and start, as I haven't played Bolt Action in years and he's never played it before, but I'm sure we'll work it out and get there in the end?

Chain of Command British Rifle Platoon Prep

I have made some good progress this afternoon on cleaning up and basing the core platoon for the Chain of Command summer project. As you can see this consists of three rifle sections including a Bren gun team and a Junior Leader each, together with the platoon HQ of a 2'' mortar and PIAT team, a platoon sergeant Senior Leader and a lieutenant Senior Leader. I also added a support unit in the form of a platoon medic, using a Warlord Games figure with a Crusader Miniatures head attached, so that it blended in better with the other figures. The Crusader figures have virtually no flash or seams to remove and are really nice models, so I am going to add a fourth rifle section as a support unit in the initial painting plan while the rest of the support units will wait until the second phase.

Sunday, 25 July 2021

Cutting Lead for Chain of Command

It's the first weekend of my summer holidays so what better time than now to start on my 2021 summer project, a late war British platoon for Chain of Command, with the first lead being sanded and scraped away on some nice Crusader Miniatures figures. I've been meaning to get on with this project for ages, so now seems like an ideal opportunity, as I won't be going abroad this year due to Covid-19, with three weeks free for uninterrupted wargaming. 


I am quite busy, however, as with the wife and daughter away I have to look after the boys, taking one twice a week up to London for rugby training and the other up to Fort William for a two week conservation project, which is only a ten hour drive in both directions! Nonetheless, I will have some quiet time in between to get the platoon and support units painted up, which means it should be finished by the end of August if it all goes according to plan?

Cyclops Class Breastwork Monitors

One of the things that I haven't as yet added to my Royal Navy Victorian ironclad fleet are the four Cyclops class breastwork monitors. I didn't bother with these as they were a bit of a dead end as a class, being relegated to coastal and harbour defence duties soon after commissioning, although a couple were attached to the Particular Service Squadron in the late 1870's. There didn't seem much point in painting any of them up, until I thought of using them as originally intended, which was to operate in shallow inshore waters in an offensive role. 

Although they were designed for use in the Baltic against a potential Russian naval threat, I will instead use them against the French in my 'What If?' war of the mid 1870's, this time to launch attacks into the estuaries along the Western coastline to sink enemy shipping and bombard fortifications. I have ordered a couple of ASV40 packs, each containing two models, so will able to deploy HMS Cyclops, HMS Hecate, HMS Hydra and HMS Gorgon as a shallow draft, ironclad strike force!

Saturday, 24 July 2021

Broadside and Ram Scenario Plan

I haven't played a game with my 1/2400th scale ironclads for ages, so have put some thought into devising a new scenario for my fictitious war between the French and British Empires in the early to mid 1870's. I wondered about an amphibious landing operation but have switched to a scenario based on the Battle of Basque Roads in 1809, in which an anchored French fleet was severely disrupted by a Royal Navy inshore squadron under command of Lord Cochrane. 

HMS Glatton

In my 'What If? version, set in the mid-1870's, the French fleet will set up in a similar defensive position, behind a log and chain boom. It will be attacked at night by a Royal Navy flotilla of shallow draft Cyclops class breastwork monitors, towed into place by ironclad warships, then used in a flanking manoeuvre across the shallows. There will also be an ironclad ram, probably HMS Hotspur, that can be used to breach the boom in front of the French anchorage allowing some of the larger ironclads to steam through and blast away at the anchored French fleet.

HMS Hotspur

IN addition to a well armed shore fort, the French will also get to deploy a field of tethered 'torpedoes' that can be electrically detonated from on land. I have yet to hammer out the details for Broadside and Ram but I think it will be an unusual and interesting change. I'll need to work out new rules for breaching the boom and for the mine fields, but this shouldn't be too difficult to do. As a result, I'm going to make this scenario a possible option for INWarD in a couple of weeks time.

Chilean Air Force F-16's

I finished these this morning for Naval Command, giving my Chilean naval forces some very useful air support and land based maritime strike capability. As usual, they look better at arms length and without the flash, but you'll have to take my word for it! I can also use them against my existing Peruvian Air Force Mirage 2000's and Su-22's in Target Locked On games, so it's a good addition to the 1/600th scale South American set up.

Friday, 23 July 2021

1/600th Chilean F-16's for Naval Command

While I still have what's left of my 1/600th scale painting mojo, I thought I'd paint up four Tumbling Dice F-16's for my Chilean naval forces. The Chilean Air Force has F-16's that can be loaded out with AGM-84 Harpoon anti-shipping missiles. although they don't actually have any. They can also carry a wide array of other munitions for anti-shipping attacks. I've found a really colourful low-vis camouflage scheme for them, so will get cracking today and aim to finish them off for use in up and coming scenarios.

Bag the Hun Khalkhin Gol 1/600th Aircraft Finished

Soviets and Japanese


I-153 Chaika



These are all finished, ready for some playtesting of the scenarios over the next few weeks. They came out okay, especially when viewed at arms length, but they are a right bugger to paint as my eyesight isn't what it used to be. In the longer term, I'll switch back to 1/300th scale for this project, which will be a doddle to paint by comparison and will be better for any participation games I might get to run at future Lard Days, assuming that there will be another one next year? In the meantime, these will be absolutely fine for play testing purposes and for club games.

Thursday, 22 July 2021

Bag the Hun Khalkhin Gol Scenario H

Kawasaki Ki-10 Type 95

This is the last in the series of scenarios for Bag the Hun, set at the end of the Nonomhan  conflict on 2nd September 1939. In this scenario a shotai of three Ki-10 biplane fighters of the 2nd Chutai, 33rd Sentai clash with nine I-16's of the 22nd IAP over Lake Buir Nuur, in a last ditch, last man standing dogfight. Outnumbered three to one, the three Japanese pilots must destroy as many of the I-16's as they can, including by deliberate ramming if they run out of ammunition (using the ramming rules on p20 of the rulebook). 

The Japanese pilots include top ace Sgt Maj Saito, together with two veterans, Lt Okamoto and Sgt Maj Ishikawa, all of whom have character cards in addition to the Shotai Move / Fire card and the Top Ace Bonus card for Saito. The Soviet pilots, under the leadership of Lt Cheremukhin, are all either veterans or regulars, with a roughly even split between the two. To give the Japanese a fighting chance in their obsolete but highly manoeuvrable biplanes, they start at ALT 4 while the Soviets start at ALT 3, although neither side has the advantage of the sun and, as the visibility is excellent, no bogey counters are used.

Vampire in the Storm Scenario: Game One

I played the Vampire in the Storm scenario using Naval Command 4th Edition yesterday, so here's a brief after action report.

Turn 1

The RAN won the initiative and both sides then moved forward 5cm, which was the maximum speed allowed in the storm force weather conditions. In the detection phase, HMAS Vampire successfully detected KRI Kakiali at long range, rolling a 10 on the D10, using her passive radar. The Indonesians were sweeping with active radar, so were out of range for detection. In the damage phase, KRI Kalkiali then rolled a 10 for storm damage, immediately causing flooding and engine/propulsion breakdown, counting as heavy damage. In the damage control phase, the flooding got worse causing further light damage. Things were not looking good for the Indonesians!

Turn 2

The Indonesians won the initiative, with KRI Kakiali swinging out of line to return to base at her top speed of 2cm, while KRI Jos Soedarso and KRI Ngurah Rai kept steaming ahead on the same course. HMAS Vampire also continued ahead with neither side making any further successful radar contacts in the detection phase. The range was too great for any gunnery, so I moved onto the damage control phase, rolling another failed attempt for KRI Kakiali which picked up an additional light damage marker, the other frigates passing the storm damage test (I decided that the Kakiali did not have to test again for storm damage).

Turn 3

The Indonesians won the initiative again, with KRI Kakiali turning for home and the other frigates and HMAS Vampire steaming onwards. No detections were made in the detection phase, so it was onto the damage control phase again, which resulted in another failed flooding roll for KRI Kakiali. This was too much and she rolled over and sank, with a total damage score of 15. The remaining frigates then passed the storm damage test, which was a relief for the crew to say the least.

Turn 4

The RAN won the initiative, which is hardly surprising in the circumstances, moving forward again to close the range. KRI Ngurah Rai peeled off to port to search for survivors while KRI Jos Soedarso steamed ahead to continue the mission. Once again there were no successful radar detections and neither frigate failed the storm damage roll, so it was swiftly on to the next turn.

Turn 5

The RAN won the initiative again. HMAS Vampire steamed forward, while KRI Jos Soedarso did the same, leaving KRI Ngurah Rai to hove to, lower boats and start the rescue operation at the location of KRI Kakiali's foundering. In the detection phase, HMAS Vampire succeeding in making a passive radar contact on KRI Jos Soedarso, while the frigate succeeded in making an active radar detection on the destroyer. Unfortanately, both ships were out of gunnery range, so it was onto the damage control phase, where KRI Jos Soedarso rolled a 10 on the storm damage test, immediately causing a flood and engine breakdown, followed by a further light damage. It really was a bad day for the Indonesians!

Turn 6

The Indonesians won the initiative, believe it or not, with HMAS Vampire now switching to active radar in the detection status phase, in order to make it easier to hit the target if there was any action. The rescue mission was scrubbed and KRI Ngurah Rai moved to re-join KRI Jos Soedarso, which was now reduced to only 2cm speed per turn. The range was still too great for gunnery, so it was on to the damage phase, with the flooding spreading further on KRI Jos Soedarso, adding another light damage. However, a successful repair roll of 10 + 1 by the crew, managed to stop the flooding and remove the flood marker, replacing it with a light damage marker instead. KRI Ngurah Rai also passed the storm damage test, so things were looking up for the Indonesians for a change.

Turn 7

I spoke too soon. The Indonesians won the initiative at the start of the turn, moving forward and bringing KRI Jos Soedarso into range of HMAS Vampire, which turned to port to take up a parallel course. There were no further detections in the detection phase, so KRI Jos Soedarso and HMAS Vampire prepared to slug it out with their guns. In the attack phase, KRI Jos Soedarso landed a single hit on HMAS Vampire, inflicting light damage and knocking out her radar. However, with double the rate of fire of the frigate, HMAS Vampire managed to score two hits on KRI Jos Soedarso, the firdt of which causing a heavy damage result and starting a fire. The second hit, along with the cumulative storm damage, resulted in a total damage score of 15, sending the frigate to the bottom! 

Turn 8

The scenario instructions clearly stated that the RAN would win if it destroyed two of the frigates, which would cause the third to disengage and escape. I decided that this objective had been met, even though KRI Kakiali had actually sunk due to storm damage and flooding, so called time on the game. HMAS Vampire had as yet not detected KRI Ngurah Rai, so she was able to slip away into the storm as she was well out of visual range and also switched off her active radar in order to disappear. As HMAS Vampire's radar was U/S, she also was unable to conduct an active radar sweep, so stopped to pick up survivors from the sunken frigate.

I really enjoyed this game and, with only a couple of tweaks to the storm damage rule, think the scenario works really well. I'll replay the same scenario using the new 2021 edition of the Naval Command rules, which have slightly different mechanisms for detection, gunnery and damage control, to see if it works out differently. Incidentally, in case you were wondering, I didn't bother with contact markers for this game, as I was playing solo and knew what was going on. It would work well with contact markers in a two player game, as this would add a further element of uncertainty. Good fun!

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Bag the Hun Soviet Aircraft Painting

I've made some good progress on the 1/600th scale Soviet aircraft today, so should be able to get the painting finished tomorrow if it all goes according to plan. I've deliberately kept the schemes simple, with bare metal for the SB-2's, enamel grey for the I-153's and dark green for the I-15bis, as this is not only reasonably accurate but also a lot quicker to do. The three Ki-10's are also coming along and will be wrapped up at the same time. It all looks a bit boring at the moment but some colour and decals will pull it all together.

Five Parsecs From Home Crew

I spent an enjoyable half an hour or so yesterday rolling up a crew for Five Parsecs From Home, after which I realised that my plan to use 15mm figures probably wasn't going to work. I went for a five man crew and ended up with three humans, a bot and a K'Erin, the background, motivation and class all working out to be really compatible, which was great. However, although I managed to sort out some suitable figures in 15mm, this left me without any other figure options except for heavily armed and armoured military types. 

Instead, I've decided to use 28mm figures, for which there are plenty available including a few in the lead pile. These are all Copplestone figures including two versions of the 'road warrior', a not terminator and a Future Wars trooper, who will inevitably end up being nicknamed 'shorty' or some such. It's as good start and only leaves the K'Erin figure to track down or convert, for which I might get a Copplestone Hunter Alien or use one of my son's left over Tau. 

To provide the opposition, I'm going to go cheap and cheerful, so ordered three single sprues of the Stargrave crew, mercenaries and troopers from the Sprue Shop. They do a really convenient bundle deal of one of each sprue for fifteen quid, which fills all the gaps I need as far a humans and humanoid aliens are concerned. I'm not keen on the figures but you can't argue with the price tag and I'm sure that some selective combinations of head, arms and weapons will produce some good results.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Kawasaki Ki-10 II (Type 95) for Bag the Hun

For the last scenario in the Khalkhin Gol project, I needed some data for the Kawasaki Ki-10 II Type 95 biplane fighters of the 2nd Chutai, 33rd Sentai. The relevant data isn't in the rulebook, so I did some cross referencing and not so in-depth research and came up with this:

SPD 5 / MAN 5 / ALT 4 / ROC 2 / ROB 1 / SIZ 1 / FRONT 4 / AMMO 10 / Note: MAN 6 at ALT 1-2.

I think this is about right and will do the trick but would appreciate some feedback, positive or negative, if you have the time and inclination? 

Bag the Hun Khalkhin Gol Scenario G

This is one I've been looking forward to writing a lot, as it involves 'Stalin's Eagles', the ace pilots flown in to bolster the Soviet fighter regiments after their bloody nose at the start of the war, together with the first combat debut of the I-153 Chaika. In this scenario from 25th July 1939, the elite pilots of the 70th IAP under top ace Major S.Grisavets, turn the tables on the veteran pilots of the 1st Chutai, 24th Sentai under Captain S.Kani. 

In the actual engagement, the Chaikas were mistaken for I-15bis by the Japanese, easy prey for the Ki-27's, with the Soviets pretending to scarper before whipping round and 'bouncing' the unsuspecting Japanese. In the scenario, the Soviets have a Top Ace and a Junior Ace, as well as veteran pilots, with character cards for all of the Zveno leaders. The Japanese only have one Junior Ace, Lt S.Saito, but they also have character cards for the Shotai leaders and a lot of veteran pilots to even the odds.

The objective for both sides will be to shoot down or force off more than half of the enemy, with aces counting as two aircraft, which should be fun as they have equal numbers to start with!

Bag the Hun Khalkhin Gol Soviets

Here's the last of the Soviet aircraft for the Khalkhin Gol project, ready for painting over the next few days, including nine I-153 Chaika, three I=15bis and nine SB-2 bombers. I only need three SB-2's but I thought it made sense to paint up a squadron full so that I can run some bomber escort and interception missions. These are all going to get a basic paint job of either bare aluminium, enamel grey or dark green, as I don't fancy doing tiny squiggly camouflage patterns!

Monday, 19 July 2021

Five Games That Made Me The Gamer I Am Today

This is a bit of a thing at the moment, so here's my five games worth, although I've squeezed in a couple more for the hell of it!

1. Tank Battles in Miniature

This was my first 'proper' wargame and I had it on permanent load from the local library until I had to give it back. I copied out all of the main rules and charts onto file cards and continued to play games even when the book had been given up, using Heroics and Ros 1/300th scale tanks. I mis-read the rules and thought you had to actually play a turn in 60 seconds, so I had a stopwatch and used it every time an individual tank had to acquire, aim and fire at a target, with the results worked out afterwards. Absolutely seat of your pants gaming and very realistic in an accidentally historical way. This book first got me into solo wargaming, so hats off to Mr Quarrie!

2. Imperial Commander

A school friend of mine bought a copy of Laserburn from the local games shop (remember those?) in Plymouth, so I decided to get my own copy, except they'd run out so I grabbed Imperial Commander instead. I couldn't afford many figures so ended up playing with a handful of 15mm Imperial Troops and Red Redemptionists a side, so this was my first skirmish level wargame in many respects. It was lots of fun at the time, although I'm not so sure how it would stack up now, having loads of tables and charts. The blurb on the front page still makes me chuckle.

3. Cry Havoc

I absolutely loved this game when I was a kid, having ordered a copy after seeing the advert on the back page of Wargames Illustrated just on the basis of the box art and the blurb. It's still my favourite 'beer and pretzels' board game by a country mile and I do play it sometimes using a second hand copy that I found on eBay. I also loved Samurai Blades but the other Cry Havoc extension games like Siege were a bit of a disappointment, mainly due to the change in art work and unrealistic maps. I went on to study medieval history and archaeology at university, so perhaps this game is why I have been a history teacher for the last thirty years?

4. AK47

When I got back into wargaming about twenty years ago, this was the set of rules that fired my interest and inspired my first painted wargames army. I still think this is one of the most enjoyable and imaginative sets of rules that I have played, perhaps because it allows you to use your imagination  and creativity when developing your forces and the narrative for your games. I love this aspect of gaming, which is diametrically opposed to the competition 'min-max' mentality of a lot of rules systems. It's also still great fun to play after many years and loads of games at the club.

5. Bag the Hun

If I look at my blog posts over the years, this is the set of rules that I've written about and played more than any other, which is interesting as it's not everyone's cup of tea and has, perhaps, fallen by the wayside compared to other TFL rules of late. It was the first game I had played in which a card based turn mechanism was used and which was also based on the idea of formations and historical tactics. It was the set of rules that shifted my interest away from land warfare and towards air and naval wargaming, which are now my main areas of interest. It also led to my first publications as a wargames scenario designer, albeit only in the TFL Specials, and gave me a taste for umpiring which I really enjoy.

Special Mentions

Contemptible Little Armies in the Back of Beyond

To finish off I wanted to include the Back of Beyond supplement for CLA, primarily as it was the set of rules for which I organised and umpired my first club campaign. It's another example of the 'What If?' style of wargaming that I really love and also the unorthodox or obscure historical setting that I prefer to the 'bog standard' wargaming themes. I really enjoyed playing this at the local club, with three full multiplayer campaigns organised and umpired over the years, although I always seemed to come last! It's probably one of the things that has most influenced my interest in campaigning and 'Imaginations' style, not too serious fun wargaming.

A Fistful of Lead: Reloaded

A few years ago I mentioned on the blog that I was a bit fed up with the Old West rules and wondered if there were alternatives worth looking at. Jaye Wiley read the post and then sent me a free digital copy of the Fistful of Lead:Reloaded rules that he had just published, which was very nice of him indeed. I immediately loved the system and the style of wargaming that it reflected, with the deck of cards turn system being a really elegant and effective feature. It's now my skirmish rules set of choice and one of my all time favourite 'fun' wargames to play, especially with the kids.


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