Friday, 30 September 2022

MiG Alley Weekend Missions

 

This weekend I'm hoping to have some family free time to play a couple of games of MiG Alley, using the mission cards that I created earlier this week. The plan is to set up a couple of solo scenarios using a modified version of the card deck system, to see how it works and then make any tweaks required. If I get the time, I will also have a crack at the same exercise using the cards I have produced for Corsairs and Cavaliers, with the added bonus that I can check out the revised rules for ground attack and strafing. 

Thursday, 29 September 2022

US Pre-dreadnought Squadron 1890's

USS Charleston

Inspired by the real-life Baltimore Incident and by a couple of 'What If?' scenarios in the excellent Monroe's Legacy, the other half of my pre-dreadnought project is a small US cruiser squadron, initially consisting of the protected cruiser USS Baltimore and USS Charleston, accompanied by the gunboats USS Yorktown and USS Bennington. When these have been painted the squadron will be reinforced by the earlier protected cruisers USS Newark, USS Atlanta and USS Boston, with the battleship USS Maine possibly being added as a bit of additional firepower. There really is a lot of potential here for some exciting counterfactual games, based on the premise that the US and Chile come to blows, with the Royal Navy possibly stepping in as a big stick to sort out the kerfuffle!

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

Chilean Pre-dreadnought Squadron 1890's

 

I'm making an early start to next month's naval project, the Chilean Civil War and 'What If?' naval arms race, with the small but powerful Chilean pre-dreadnought fleet. This consists of the armoured cruiser O'Higgins, the protected cruiser Ministro Zenteno and the protected cruiser Esmeralda, the latter strictly speaking a bit of a stretch, as she was sold to Japan to become the Izumo in 1894. The scouting force for the squadron consists of the two torpedo gunboats Almirante Lynch and Almirante Condell. The squadron will also be backed up by the pre-dreadnought battleship Capitan Prat, once the model is available from Tumbling Dice, with a collier and a couple of supply ships tagging along for logistical support. I'm aiming to base up and undercoat all of these by the end of the week, given a chance.

Muddying the Waters

 


I scratch built and converted these 1/2400th scale ACW river gunboats, rams and ironclads last year, but screwed up the colour of the bases. I, for some inexplicable reason, chose a shade of brown that looked more like the Mekong than the Mississippi, so they've been relegated to a storage box waiting for a repaint since then. On a whim today, I dug them out and quickly repainted the bases in Flames of War Flat Earth, followed by a GW Agrax Earthshade wash and a varnish. I think they much look better now and more like the appearance I was originally aiming for, so that was a couple of hours we'll spent. 

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Dawn of Iron War of the Pacific


I found the time to get all the cards, tokens and templates for Dawn of Iron cut out and organised this afternoon, so I'm ready to have a go at the War of the Pacific scenarios. It's a case of better late than never, so I'm hoping it will be worthwhile. The components do look good and are very well produced, even if I'm not a fan of games with lots of bits and bobs. I'll have a crack at the first solo scenario, the Battle of Chipana, which I've played before using a Dahlgren and Columbiad scenario I wrote myself, so it will be interesting to compare the results.


Hurricane Bagging over Tobruk


Due to various reasons the Wings at War FB project to devise a set of rules for North Africa, seems to have fallen flat, so I've been thinking of redirecting my own efforts towards a Bag the Hun scenario project. The plan would be to write another article and set of scenarios for the Lard Magazine, this time focussed on  Tobruk in mid to late 1941. 

It's a bit late to start this now, but it would be a good project for 2023, especially as my plan to do something similar for the Franco Thai War never really got off the ground due to a lack of research sources. It also had much less scope for scenario development than Tobruk, which has loads of potential. 

A bit of background reading for Tobruk is now on the cards, luckily for me as I have some excellent material already on the bookshelves. I also ordered a pack of RAF aircraft for Tobruk from Tumbling Dice, so at least they will get used for some playtesting once I've drafted some scenarios. Tally Ho! 

Monday, 26 September 2022

MiG Alley Mission Cards

USN / USMC

 
USAF

UN (RN/RAN/SAAF/ROKAF)

NKAF / PLAAF
 
I put together a set of mission cards for MiG Alley at the weekend, so that I can try them out and have a go at using them in different way, to see which method works best. The basic idea is this. At the start of the game, before deploying ground targets, each side may draw four mission cards at random from the UN or Communist mission card deck. 

The deck consists of ten cards for each side. After reviewing each of the mission cards, one card must be discarded, leaving a total of three missions for the game. In addition, one of the three remaining cards may be discarded and a replacement card drawn. This card may not be discarded and the mission must be carried out. 

If for any reason a mission cannot be carried out, for example a night mission is chosen but the other side only select daylight missions, an alternative card may be drawn at random from the deck. This will require some negotiation before the game to decide if it is a night or day set up and the deck could be compiled beforehand as required; multiples of some cards would be needed if this was the case e.g. four or five Night Fighter cards instead of just the one.

The three missions for each side must not be revealed to the opposing UN or Communist player. The required sections and targets for the three missions should now be organised and the missions carried out according to the objectives set out on each mission card. A record should be kept of any successful missions completed during the game. 

When the game ends and a Victory Target has been attained by one side or the other, each player should roll 1D3+1 for each successful mission that they have completed during the game. This should be added to the Victory Point total for their side. The player with the highest overall Victory Point score wins the game.

Another approach might be to allow players to play cards from their deck during the game, a maximum of one card per turn, deploying missions to counter the cards played by their opponent. For example, the Communist player might start by playing the Bed Check Charlie card as the first card, which could be countered with a Night Fighter card. 

In the second turn, the Communist player doesn't play a card, so the UN player also chooses not to. In the third, the Communist player plays a Night Bomber Raid card and the UN player matches that with a Night Interdiction card, and so on. It would mean that you'd need to stack the decks with cards that match or can be used to counter the opponent's deck, but I think it would work well otherwise.

Sunday, 25 September 2022

1/2400th Chilean Pre-Dreadnought Project

The next project on my workbench will be a pre-dreadnought naval one, focussed on the Chilean Civil War of 1891 but with a 'What If?' angle, allowing me to include both US and RN warships for a counterfactual mini-campaign of linked scenarios in the early to mid-1890's. This will kill two birds with one stone, allowing me to work out how to paint and base the Tumbling Dice models but also give me the chance to try out the Broadside and Salvo rules. I'm also going to use A and A Game Engineering's Tsushima rules for small scale actions, where there are only one or two ships involved. It will hopefully also lead on to the French and Italian pre-dreadnoughts that I've prepared previously actually getting a lick of paint!

Saturday, 24 September 2022

Flames Above the Falklands Finished

 


I finally got round to finishing off the 1/600th aircraft for Flames Above the Falklands that I started way back before the summer holidays. I'd been putting this off due to the fiddly decals but it wasn't actually that difficult to do, mainly due to the quality of the Flight Deck Decals transfers. The paint work isn't that great but they are definitely useable, if not for a whole game then for some dogfighting. That's another one of my 'to do' projects done, so time to move on to something else on the list.

Friday, 23 September 2022

Naval November (and October)

 

I realized today that my WW1 German insignia decals are either too small or out of register, so I'm going to have to postpone finishing the aircraft until I get some more, although I can complete the RFC models and my Falklands War jets this weekend. After that, I really want a break from air wargaming, so I'm going to dedicate the next couple of months to a naval project from my 'to do' list. This will probably be a pre-dreadnought or late ironclad project, with my Chilean and US cruisers as a starting point, but it could also be the WW1 Steamer Wars Lake Tanganyika project instead. I'll make up my mind over the weekend and then make a start, as I really want get another full-on new naval project stowed away by the end of 2022.

Thursday, 22 September 2022

Home Stretch Hat Trick

Airco DH4's
 
Halberstadt CLII's

Friedrichshafen GIII's

I'm on the home stretch with the 1/600th scale 1917 WW1 project for Duel of Aces and Algernon Pulls It Off, with only a small selection of aircraft needing to be painted, while the others I have done get their decals. The last of the aircraft are all bombers or ground attack machines including six RFC Airco DH4's, three Halberstadt CLII's (to replace the ones I stuffed up earlier) and three Friedrichshafen GIII heavy bombers for the Germans. 

I also need to assemble and paint a couple of observation balloons as targets but only airborne ones to keep the painting load down to a sensible minimum. I might squeeze in something else, another lone ace in an Albatros perhaps, but I think that's enough for the moment and manageable by the end of the month which I've set as my deadline. In the mood for something naval next.... 

Wings at War WW2 Game Design

 


I've been scribbling away at some design ideas for the WW2 Mediterranean / North African Theatre, with a focus on Malta in 1942 and Tobruk in 1941. It's all a bit sketchy at the moment but I think there's something worth developing in both game concepts, with some really interesting elements to play around with and some new mechanics on top of the tried and tested systems in Scramble for Britain, MiG Alley and so on. I need to read around the subject a bit more in both cases, although I do have a good working knowledge to go on, so it's lucky that I have a pretty good stash of reference books to dip into from previous Bag the Hun projects. It's also a great excuse to order more lead!

Tuesday, 20 September 2022

I Hate This Bit

I've started the really fiddly and time consuming task of adding decals to the 1/600th scale WW1 aircraft. I have always found this to be a long and painful job, even if the models look a lot better afterwards, in most cases. Thus far, I have added the upper wing roundels to the RFC scouts and two-seater, which wasn't too bad, but it's the fuselage roundels next and they are microscopic! 

Monday, 19 September 2022

1/600th WW1 Mid-1917 Aircraft Painted

 



Thanks to an unexpected Bank Holiday off, I've managed to finally finish painting the WW1 mid-1917 aircraft for Duel of Aces and Algernon Pulls It Off, so have enough to at least think about playing a try-out game. For Duel of Aces I will also need the aforementioned observation balloons and some two-seaters, DH4 bombers for the RFC and Halberstadt CII's for the Luftstreitkrafte, with the option to add some additional scouts for both sides. 

In the meantime, I need to bite the bullet and tackle the fiddly and rather tedious job of adding the decals to all of the models I've already painted. The I-94 Maltese Cross on white decals I bought at Colours are off register, which is a pain as I will now need to paint white squares on the upper wings and fuselage sides of at least a few of the German aircraft, hopefully without mucking up all the paintwork I've spent ages applying!

Wings at War Tobruk

 

I've taken the plunge and set up a working group to develop a set of Wings at war rules for North Africa, specifically the air battles around Tobruk c1941-42. I'm a bit sceptical about the level of co-operation and input that there will be, as in my experience these things tend to fizzle out when people realise, they aren't really committed or interested, but I'll have to wait and see. I have some clear ideas for this set of rules, based on the remit that Paul Sulley has set out, so have posted some thoughts on an Etherpad brainstorm that's been set up for the purpose. 

The idea that I have is to either set the game around Operation Battleaxe in June 1941, when the British were trying to break through to Tobruk, or during the Gazala Line battles in May to June 1942, when the Germans were on the offensive and the Eighth Army was in retreat. Both of these settings have advantages and disadvantages in terms of game design and objectives, but they fit in with the remit and allow for some interesting game mechanics including convoy attack, tactical ground attack, bombing, dogfights and reconnaissance sorties. 

There's more to be done but I think this is a good place to start.


Sunday, 18 September 2022

Gasbags

 
Tumbling Dice 1/6000th scale Balloons

The next thing to do on my never-ending list of things for the WW1 project are a couple of observation balloons, one British and one German, which are required for Duel of Aces and also really useful as targets in Algernon Pulls It Off. The Tumbling Dice models are cast in a very hard resin material, with the airborne versions in two separate halves and the grounded version modelled on a scenic base. The come supplied with a basket and crew but no instructions on how best to assemble and rig them. I plan to be using magnet basing for the flying ones, so will need to work out how to mount the basket, add rigging lines and attach the magnet, all without breaking the castings. Should be fun!?

1/600th Neman R-10 Conversion

 

For the Air War over Khalkhin Gol project there are a small number of aircraft that Tumbling Dice don't have in the available range of models, one being the very obscure Neman R-10 two-seater reconnaissance monoplane, which played a small but active role in the campaign. It's an odd-looking aircraft with a pronounced sweep to the wings and a long dorsal fuselage spine ending in a stubby ball turret, but I really like it.

Neman R-10

I have decided to have a go at a conversion job, using a Nakajima B5N Kate (ISA423) as a template. It's not an identical match but has a profile and dimensions that are sufficiently close to make a conversion feasible. I'll see how I get on but it's not an easy job, especially as I need to find a way to model a rear ball turret and reshape the wing plan form with a swept-back leading edge. I foresee lots of models being hacked about and ending up in the bin!

https://weaponsandwarfare.com/2020/04/16/neman-r-10/

Saturday, 17 September 2022

More Wings at War Mission Cards

Football War Mission Cards
 
First World War Mission Cards

I've been busy today working up the final sheet of mission cards for Duel of Aces and also designing a smaller deck of cards for Corsairs and Cavaliers. The idea is to test out the concept for the Football War while I get my act together and finish painting the WW1 aircraft, making ground targets and working out how to base the observation balloons. The Corsairs and Cavaliers cards also gave me some ideas for amending the bombing rules to include strafing with machine guns and cannons, which I have now implemented and need to playtest. I'm not sure why I didn't include the option of gun runs before but it's an oversight that needed to be fixed. I'll try out the amended rules as soon as I get some time.

Sandbox Skirmish Terraformer Terrain


I was looking at my box of models for the Sandbox Skirmish project the other day, wondering why I hadn't moved it on any further despite my best laid plans. The answer to the question is terrain and how to store it. I don't want to use a cloth, which is my usual approach, but would like something modular to allow me to set it up for scenarios in different configurations.

I'd thought about using the Sally 4th Terraformer system before, having been impressed with Jon's terrain for East Africa that he built with the tiles. However, I was put off by the cost and thought it would be easier just to make something from scratch myself. Now, after seeing some of the modules at Colours and another similar system, I'm having second thoughts.

https://wargamesbuildings.co.uk/product-category/terraformers/

I only need a 2' x 2' size board, with a 3' x 3' one being a maximum, so the starter set of four 12' tiles looks ideal. It consists of a hill side and a river or stream, which is ideal for Aden as the latter would make an excellent wadi. It's forty quid and I'd need to add the cost of the foam and materials, but that's not too bad and comparable to a terrain cloth.

I'll give it some thought but this looks like it might just kick start my project! 

Thursday, 15 September 2022

Wings at War Duel of Aces Mission Cards Part II

 

Here's the second page of mission cards that I've devised for Duel of Aces, once again designed to add some period flavour and focus to the game objectives and to give each player a more challenging experience. I've been thinking that the use of mission cards would be particularly good for multiplayer games, in which each player could be allocated a single mission, allowing up to three players a side to have a really involved role in the game. I'll work up the third set of five pairs of cards tomorrow if I can find the time, although at this point I only have three pairs to go on. I'm sure I can devise a couple more if I put my mind to it.

Khalkhin Gol Japanese Stragglers

Type I (Fiat Br.20) 

Type 98 Ki-32 'Mary'


A bit more filing, sanding, trimming and gluing yesterday, with the end result being nine Ki-32 Type 98 Mary light bombers and nine Type I (Fiat Br20) medium bombers for the JAAF. The Ki-32's were deployed in the later stages of the Khalkhin Gol campaign but, as I don't have any Ki-30 Ann light bombers, mine will be used right through. They had a reputation for unreliability due to their complex, water-cooled engine but still performed a useful tactical role over the battlefield.

The Type I Mediums, purchased from Italy with a shipment of rice, believe it or not, were a big disappointment for the Japanese and were gradually phased out to secondary roles, being replaced by the Ki-21 Type 97, which is why I have only prepared nine of them rather than a full squadron of twelve. I'll put these to one side for a rainy weekend while I get on with my WW1 aircraft for Algernon Pulls It Off and Duel of Aces

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

Wings At War Duel of Aces WW1 Mission Cards

 

I've started work on a deck of mission cards for Duel of Aces, pinching the concept from a post on the Wings at War FB page. The idea with these is to add some focus and period flavour to games by giving each player a set of three missions, selected at random from deck of cards, although I'm adding another layer to this by adapting the AK47 objectives mechanism to make things a bit more unpredictable. 

These don't replace the Victory Points and Victory Targets in the game, but a successful mission can give a points bonus on top of the VP's won during the game itself. This is the first hand of cards and will I have another twelve or so to add to the deck once I've typed them up and tweaked them a bit. I really like the idea behind this and, if these ones work, I'm planning to make some more for both MiG Alley and Corsairs and Cavaliers.

Monday, 12 September 2022

Wargame Rules Sell Off

 

It's been an expensive month or two on the wargames front so time to replenish the coffers with another eBay clear out. This time I'm going to cull the rules collection, with some pretty good stuff up for bids that I just won't ever get round to using, including books and cards for Muskets and Tomahawks, Congo, Infamy, Infamy, Frostgrave and several other popular rules systems. I'll get it all posted up mid-week so will have to get up in the loft to dust the rules off and sorted out. The advantage of rules is that they aren't as heavy or cumbersome as figures, even if they don't make as much revenue when up for sale, so posting them won't be as much of a pain as the lead pile! I might throw in a few old board games too.

Sunday, 11 September 2022

Khalkin Gol Soviet Stragglers

 


I didn't have much time today and also fancied a break from painting, so instead I cleaned up and magnet based some leftover Soviet aircraft from the Khalkhin Gol project. These were not required for the Bag the Hun scenarios, so I didn't paint them last year. Here we have three Tupolev TB-3 heavy bombers, five air to air rocket armed Polikarpov I-16 fighters and a single DC-3 transport aircraft. I've also got some Japanese light and medium bombers to add to this lot, so will get them prepared as well, so that I can paint the whole lot in one go later on in the year. 

Syborg 3D Long Face Games ACW 1/600th Boats

Armed Riverboat 3a

I bought half a dozen or so of the 3D printed ACW boats from Syborg 3D at Colours yesterday and I'm very pleased with them. These are from Long Face Games and available as STL files on Wargame Vault but, as I don't have a printer, it's great to be able to buy them as models. 

They are nicely detailed and well printed, although a couple will need some minor straightening of funnels and a little tidying up. I bought a couple of transports, a couple of armed transports and an armed riverboat, which will fit very well with my existing lead pile of Peter Pig models.  Not cheap but not expensive either, so worth a look. 

In fact, I can see myself ordering a whole load more of the Confederate rams, transports and river boats, as they really fill some gaps. This opens up the prospect of a 1/600th ACW riverine project at some point later in the year, or more likely in 2023, which is something I've been meaning to do for ages.

https://www.syborg3dprinting.co.uk/3d-model-store/1-600-acw-gunships-and-steamers

Saturday, 10 September 2022

Copplestone Mongolians

 

I was really hoping to find some Copplestone Back of Beyond figures at Colours today but they were conspicuous by their absence. In fact, I couldn't find any of the usual racks of Artizan, Copplestone, Brigade or similar that used to be on display at shows, with the whole shopping experience dominated by companies selling their own stuff. It's a bit of a shame that the only stand that had a mix of figures was Colonel Bills, which is a second-hand specialist and even then only one pack of Back of Beyond figures was on offer, not even from Copplestone Castings. Anyway, to cut a long ramble short, I have quenched my thirst for Mongolian irregular cavalry with an order from Sally 4th, where they were a good price and still available. These will be added to my massive lead pile of Back of Beyond figures as a unit for my Chinese Warlord army to deploy.

Colours 2022









Just back from Colours in Newbury today, after an enjoyable trip to the first wargames show for a few years. The show was really busy and once again the ground floor was rammed, while upstairs was less well populated. There were fewer games on display, or so it seemed to me, but there were some good ones, the 1/600th scale WW2 Malta aerial game being the one that stood out for me. The traders seemed to be doing good business and I had a nice chat with Paul from Tumbling Dice. 

The swag bag this year was quite modest and I didn't find any of the Back of Beyond figures, terrain or rules that I was after. Instead, I have some nice 1/600th scale ACW riverine models from Syborg 3D, some 28mm Indonesian para-commandos and a Humber Pig from Warbases, some 1/2400th scale US pre-dreadnought cruisers from Tumbling Dice, some assorted blue paints and some I-94 decals for my WW1 aircraft, finishing off with a copy of Barry Hilton's Every Bullet Has Its Billet guide to late 17th century wargaming, just because it caught my eye. Not bad! 

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