Monday 31 October 2022

15mm Vietnam Bohica Project: The NVA


In advance of my Vietnam 15mm Bohica platoon level project next year, I've ordered a shed load of the Peter Pig NVA figures to form one-half of my forces. I already have some of the older NVA figures but the newer range is much more varied and has a lot more options, so I decided to start from scratch rather than use my existing figures, which I will repurpose with some head swaps as additional Viet Cong or use for AK47. I'm really looking forward to building, basing and painting the PAVN / NVA platoon and its supporting elements including HMG teams, mortars, snipers and sappers. It's all slated for some point in 2023 but, in the meantime, I'm going to spend the next couple of months on more naval projects, including the pre-dreadnought era Argentinian cruisers that I'm now painting.

Sunday 30 October 2022

Dawn of Iron Battle of Punta Pichalo Playtest


This was my second War of the Pacific game using Dawn of Iron, this time featuring the rebel crewed turret ironclad Huascar against no fewer than four government warships, which seemed like a non-starter for the Huascar from the get-go. The game was set to last ten turns, but I expected it to end far sooner, given the relative strength of the two factions and the fact that the government forces had a monitor and a broadside ironclad, not to mention a gunboat and a screw sloop. 

However, despite a wobbly start, the Huascar's crew pulled a blinder, outmaneuvering the Independencia, which steamed off the table by mistake, and La Union, which managed to ram herself into the eponymous Punta Pichalo after running out of sea room. This was largely down to my mishandling of the order tokens, which you need to use in a predictive way thinking one or two turns ahead, as well as some over-enthusiastic use of steam power to ramp up their speed. 

The Huascar also blew the gunboat Pilcomayo to matchwood with one blast from her guns, which just goes to show how deadly gunnery can be even with some negative dice roll modifiers imposed by the scenario. The Huascar did take a pounding, however, mainly from the anchored monitor Atahualpa, which had very heavy firepower and good armour to boot. The game ended on Turn Nine, when the Huascar steamed off the table nursing four critical damage cards, while the Atahualpa was out of range and La Union stuck firmly aground with two critical and one cumulative damage cards. 

The scenario victory conditions gave this to the government forces but I can't help but think that the rebel Huascar was the real winner, having dispatched the Pilcomayo and heavily damaged the now grounded La Union, not to mention seeing off the Independencia. I probably mucked up a few things along the way and I didn't understand how the Poor Shooting rule worked, so just fudged it with a -1 DRM, but otherwise it seemed to go quite smoothly. It's definitely a fast system and the movement rules mean that the ships whizz about the table covering quite a distance each turn, although that's enhanced by the use of 1/2400th scale models. 

Good fun!

Saturday 29 October 2022

Dawn of Iron Battle of Chipana Playtest

I played a solo War of the Pacific scenario with Dawn of Iron today, the first game using this set of rules and a steep but relatively smooth learning curve as a result. This was a scenario for the Battle of Chipana, with the Chilean gunboat Magallanes being chase by the Peruvian sloop La Union and gunboat Pilcomayo, the former controlled by the scenario system and the latter by me. I was a bit confused by the order token system to start with, there being no 'bog standard' steam forwards order to use, but as all the ships were at flank speed that didn't seem to matter. I also forgot to apply the scenario-specific 'Execrable Shooting' rules for the Peruvians, which may well have made a difference. 

The game went well otherwise, with the Magallanes inflicting some early critical damage on La Union, but in the end being pummelled with critical and cumulative damage by both of the pursuing Peruvian warships, the most significant effect being a reduction in her speed. Nonetheless, she managed to get off the end of the table and, when the Stern Chase entry turn delay factors were calculated, she managed to make a clean getaway. On points, however, it was a Peruvian victory due to the serious damage inflicted on the Chilean gunboat, which would have been a significant factor in her continued operation if this was a campaign game. 

Overall, I enjoyed the game and quite like the rules, despite the plethora of tokens, cards and other paraphernalia that are involved. I'm still a bit unsure about the order tokens and how to represent normal movement, but other than that, it seems like a fairly straightforward system that plays smoothly and is very deadly. I used the standard measurements for movement and gunnery, despite playing with 1/2400th scale models and that seemed to work quite well. It's a set of rules that you'll either really like or be indifferent about, but I'll need to play some more games to decide which side of the fence I'm sitting on. It certainly looks really good and if you like the cards, tokens and ship cards, which are all very nicely presented, it's probably a winner. Good fun!

15mm Bohica Vietnam War Project

I bought the Bohica platoon-level Vietnam War skirmish rules at Colours last month, as I'd heard good things about them and liked what I read on the FB group. The plan is to do this in 15mm using Peter Pig figures and vehicles, with Hexon terrain tiles to make things easy to set up and manage for terrain. I'll need to paint a couple of platoons, one USMC and one either VC or NVA, for which I already have some figures in the lead pile, together with some vehicles, civilians, buildings and terrain pieces. It's not a lot but at my usual slow ace it will probably take quite a while to get sorted, so I'll be spreading it out over several months rather than trying to do it all in one go. This will likely be one of the two land-based projects that I'll be tackling next year but I'm already sorting out the planning for this, so that I can get in up and running as soon as possible in 2023.

Friday 28 October 2022

Protected Cruiser Proxy Models


One of the problems when tackling the Argentinian and Chilean pre-dreadnought project has been the limited number of models available in 1/2400th from Tumbling Dice, at least at the moment. The Chileans are fairly well catered for but the Argentinians have to be assembled from various proxy models, with the Garibaldi Class cruisers being the obvious example. I have, however, been able to raid the Japanese range for two protected cruisers, both Elswick designs that are useable as Chilean and Argentinian warships. 

The Japanese cruiser Chitose is close enough to the Chilean cruiser Chacabuco to be useable, especially as a very similar design, a sister ship of the cruiser Takasago, was sold to Chile instead of to Japan in 1902. In a similar fashion, the Japanese cruiser Yoshino is a reasonable match for the Argentinian cruiser Nueve de Julio, being itself an improved design based on the Argentinian cruiser Vienticinco de Mayo of 1891. I've now assembled and based both of these models ready to paint alongside the Garibaldi class cruisers.

Thursday 27 October 2022

Argentinian Armoured Cruisers


After a brief holiday break in Barcelona, I'm back at the workbench to base and paint the four Garibaldi class armoured cruisers for the Argentinian squadron. These are now drying out after the base texturing and will be undercoated when they're ready, so that I can start painting them tomorrow. The aim is to get them done by the end of the weekend, when I'll be starting the next naval project for November. 

Tuesday 25 October 2022

A Change of Tack

I've got a bit carried away with the US pre-dreadnought project, so much so that I now have fourteen models to paint, which is far more than the three or four I originally planned to do. I've now decided, in the interests of actually getting something finished by the end of the month, to change tack and paint the four Argentinian armoured cruisers that I now have on the workbench instead. 

This is a lot more manageable and will also mean I can actually play a game or two against my Chilean squadron before the end of the year, if it all goes according to plan? The US pre-dreadnought warships will be put aside for the moment but will return in 2023 as a full project in their own right, probably with the Spanish or even the Japanese as a counterpart for some pre-dreadnought wargaming. 

Sunday 23 October 2022

Spanish Civil War with Find, Fix and Strike


This is something I've thought about for quite a few years, as an obvious extension of my early war French and Italian naval projects, but an after-action report on the Naval Wargames (Historical) FB group yesterday really caught my attention.

This was a scenario played out using Find, Fix and Strike, my preferred set of rules, and Navwar 1/3000th scale ships, so exactly the sort of thing I like to do. I'm away at the moment, in Barcelona of all places, but will be ordering the Republican and Nationalist fleets when I get back. This is a relatively small outlay with lots of destroyers, a handful of cruisers and a couple of battleships, so cheap, quick to paint and easy to use for small scale 'skirmish' level scenarios. Excellent! 

Friday 21 October 2022

Happy Trafalgar Day


... with apologies to the wife and the in laws and the half of the kids. I really should get those 1/2400th ships painted up! 

Thursday 20 October 2022

US Pre-dreadnought Battleships

To round off my US pre-dreadnought squadron, which is now quite a lot bigger than I originally intended, I have assembled four battleships in addition to USS Maine and USS Texas which I had already based up. 

These are the three Indiana class battleships - USS Indiana, USS Oregon and USS Massachusetts - together with the single USS Iowa. These will add some firepower to the squadron and open up some interesting ideas for scenarios. In fact, it's looking like this project is turning into a Spanish American War one by default!

Wednesday 19 October 2022

Setting the East Ablaze 2nd Edition


Over the years that I've been wargaming, I've gradually moved away from land-based themes to the point at which the vast majority of my projects are naval or air wargaming in focus. There aren't many periods or subjects for terrestrial wargaming that grab my attention for long enough to make them viable projects, to be honest, and I'm much more of an occasional dabbler as a result. There are exceptions, however, the Back of Beyond being one of them, as it grabbed my attention many years ago and has still clung on. 

As a result, I'm intending to revive my Back of Beyond wargaming next year, with a new army to give it a re-boot. To help build up some momentum I've ordered a copy of Setting the East Ablaze 2nd Edition, which I am going to use as impetus for building either a Chinese Warlord or Turkish army. At the club, we've always used Contemptible Little Armies by Chris Peers but, as I'm not attending the club anymore for various reasons, I'm free to go my own way. I did get the first edition of the rules when they were published but no one at the club wanted to try them out, so they went to eBay. 

I've heard and seen a lot of good things about Setting the East Ablaze, so I'm looking forward to trying them out, initially with my Bolsheviks and Oil Prospecting expedition armies, while I assemble and paint the Chinese Warlord or Turkish forces. I'm even thinking of scratch-building another armoured train out of Lego bricks and plastic card, assuming the Chinese Warlord army is the project focus. Who knows? It won't be for a while yet, however, as I have lots of naval and air wargaming stuff to do and a back log of projects to clear from the workbench.

Tuesday 18 October 2022

Haze Gray and Underway


After some thought, I've decided to paint my US Navy pre-dreadnought cruisers and battleships in wartime colours, which allows me to use them for the Spanish American War as well as for my fictitious 'What If?' Chile - Argentina conflict set in the mid-1890's. The wartime scheme for US warships was an overall battle gray shade, with a distinctive blue tinge that I am going to try and replicate using Vallejo French Mirage Blue and Field Blue, with some Army Pinter Fog Grey for the highlights. I'm not sure if that will work, as it may be too blue, but it's a bit of an experiment so we'll have to wait and see. If you have any better ideas or paint combinations, I'd love to hear your ideas!  

Monday 17 October 2022

Argentinian Armoured Cruiser Addendum


After tying myself up in knots with this the other day, I've now ordered the correct models from Tumbling Dice for the four Garibaldi class armoured cruisers that formed the backbone of the Argentinian fleet in the 1890's and early 1900's. These will be excellent as opposition for my Chilean squadron, and I will hopefully be able to expand the Argentinian force when more models are made available, word on the grapevine being that the riverine battleships, Libertad and Independencia, are soon to be on the way. I'm hoping that the protected cruisers Veinticinco de Mayo and Nueve de Julio will also be added later on, as they are very attractive ships and also quite handy!

Sunday 16 October 2022

Whispering Death


One of the chaps on the Wings at War FB group was kind enough to send me a scan of this set of two-page rules for convoy strike missions in WW2 (thanks Marcus). They are designed for multiplayer club games and are really rather nifty, with a hex-based movement and combat system that is simple yet elegant in design. The article even includes a guide to making your own hex cloth, which is worth a look even without the rules themselves.

The author, Dillon Brown, used 1/600th scale Tumbling Dice aircraft and 1/1200th ship models for his games, so both cheap and quick to get up and running. Although designed for Beaufighter rocket and torpedo attacks on German convoys off Norway or in the Bay of Biscay, they could be adapted to all sorts of situations, as suggested in the article. I quite like the idea of using Whirlwinds myself. A very interesting little set of rules indeed! 

WW1 Black Sea Naval Rules


Next year I'm planning a foray into WW1 naval games, with an initial focus on the Black Sea, where the Ottoman Turkish and Imperial Russian fleets clashed in several actions. I've already got most of the models for the Turkish side and have ordered the available Russian models from Tumbling Dice today. For the rules, I have both Naval Thunder:Clash of Dreadnoughts and Victory at Sea:Age of Dreadnoughts to try out, both of which are suitable for the relatively small battles and skirmishes that characterise the Black Sea in WW1. In the meantime, the next couple of months will be dedicated to getting my pre-dreadnought projects to a point where I can play some games in 2023.

Saturday 15 October 2022

Chilean Pre-Dreadnought Battleships


It's been a busy day but I have now assembled and based the two Chilean "What If?" battleships, Libertad and Constitucion, as additions to my Chilean naval squadron. If these had been deployed for real, they would have wiped the floor of any Argentinian opposition, but might have had a hard time when confronted by contemporary US warships in the same class. 

Friday 14 October 2022

Turkish WW1 Black Sea Fleet

I did a stock check of my 1/2400th scale leadpile yesterday, while looking for something else, and realised that I have the makings of a pretty comprehensive WW1 Black Sea Turkish fleet. In fact, I thought to myself, why not use it as the basis of a WW1 naval project, instead of the much more expansive and expensive Russo-Japanese War idea? I'd need a couple more Turkish ships and the Russians have only a handful at present, but it wouldn't be a major effort. As for rules, I have VAS Age of Dreadnoughts and NT Clash of Dreadnoughts for starters, with plenty of other options available. It's definitely worth more than a passing thought.

Thursday 13 October 2022

Torpedoes In Wings at War

I've been thinking about how to use torpedoes in Wings at War games, partly inspired by Korean War Skyraider missions to blow up North Korean dams, but mainly because it's not been done before and would be really good fun. Here are my initial, very sketchy ideas:

Torpedoes can be dropped at Altitude Level 1 only.
Aircraft must be at no more than Energy 2.
Torpedo range is 15cm or 20cm?
The torpedo drop point is marked with a suitable counter.
The torpedo moves in the following turn in the player's own phase, giving the target player one turn to react and then move a ship by taking evasive action.
A torpedo moves in a straight line after all enemy ships have moved, unless it's a stationary target or installation of some kind. All torpedo movement is measured from the drop point.
If anything is in the path it may be hit.
When a torpedo makes contact with a target, there would be a D6 roll on a table with different outcomes for different types of target e.g. large ship, small ship, slow ship, fast ship, static target etc.
There would be at least a 1/6 chance of a FUBAR i.e. the torpedo fails to run, dives deep, fails to go boom determined when the torpedo roll is made
Depending on the target, there would also be at least 1/6 chance of the aircraft being shot down or damaged by AAA. This would have to be in the same turn that the torpedoes hit, which might cause some issues?

This obviously needs some more development, but I think it's not a bad start....

US Fleet Assembly Complete


The USN pre-dreadnought West Coast cruiser squadron has now been assembled, with one or two minor changes including USS Texas being put aside and the cruisers USS Atlanta, USS Boston, USS Nevada and USS Marblehead, added to the line up. I now need to texture the bases and undercoat the ships, ready for painting next week. 

Wednesday 12 October 2022

Argentinian Cruiser Confusion


I've been busy tying myself up in knots trying to work out which of the Tumbling Dice armoured cruiser models to order for the Argentinian squadron. Although the six cruisers were all based on the Italian Guissepe Garibaldi class, they were armed in a variety of configurations, so my initial 'off the peg' approach didn't work. After much head-scratching and some googling about, I have now worked out that I need three Critobal Colon cruisers from the Spanish range, which are armed with single mounts fore and aft, as well as two Japanese Nishin class cruiser with two twin mounts and one Kasuga class cruiser with a single and a twin mount, all of which should, in theory, fit the bill. I have some of these already but have now filled the gaps, while re-allocating the three Guiseppe Garibaldi class cruisers that I originally ordered to my Italian fleet. Mama Mia!

Tuesday 11 October 2022

Beja Base Bodge


I painted a complete Beja army for The Men Who Would Be Kings in 2020 but was really disappointed with the finish on the bases, so put the whole lot away for a rainy day. At the weekend, the weather was a bit wet, so I dug out a few of the figures and had a go at sorting out the bases. I wanted to see if I could make them less of a brown shade and more like a rocky desert in appearance, without having to repaint the whole lot. 

A heavy drybrush and some stippling with Vallejo Iraqi Sand and they look a lot better, so with a few tufts and scrub added, I think we're back in the Beja business. I have to finish off one unit and add some detailing, eyes, mouths, beads and so on, then they will be ready to use for a game, assuming that next year I paint up some Egyptians or British for them to massacre!

Monday 10 October 2022

Flightdeck Decals Delivery


My order of 1/300th scale WW1 German crosses has arrived from Dan at Flight Deck Decals, so I can now add the wing insignia to my 1/600th scale Tumbling Dice aircraft, as well as the fuselage and tail markings using the 1/600th equivalent, which I already have. This will be quite a fiddly job but once you get started it's not too bad, especially as Dan's decals are top quality and rarely, if ever misbehave. I will have a crack at this at some point later in the month, once the pre-dreadnought project is further forward and/or when I need a break from painting tiddly ships.

Libertad and Constitucion


As a response to Argentinian naval expansion, the Chilean government ordered two pre-dreadnought battleships from British yards, the Libertad and Constitucion. In the end, these were bought by the British government and became HMS Swiftsure and HMS Triumph, as the naval arms race between Chile and Argentina was suspended after British mediation. If they had been delivered, they would have made a powerful force for the Chileans to deploy, tipping the scales firmly toward regional naval superiority. I have two of the models from a bundle I acquired second hand, so will be assembling them and painting them up for a 'What If?' addition to the Chilean fleet. 

Sunday 9 October 2022

US Pre-Dreadnoughts Underway

I've made a good start to the second phase of the pre-dreadnought project, with the US squadron well underway. Thus far I've assembled two battleships, USS Maine and USS Texas, two cruisers, USS Baltimore and USS Charleston, one monitor, USS Monterey, and one gunboat, USS Yorktown, the latter my favourite of the lot. I may not include all of these in the painting plan, as I still have at least another two cruisers and a gunboat to build, with several further options to choose from. I'll wrap up the assembly stage tomorrow and get started on the basing.

Argentinian Pre-Dreadnoughts


After a bit of further research, I realised that I could put together an Argentinian cruiser squadron to use against the Chilean squadron that I've just painted. The Argentinians had four Guiseppe Garibaldi class armoured cruisers, which are available from Tumbling Dice in the Italian range, so I've ordered four to use as the core of a cruiser squadron. These will be the Garibaldi, the General Belgrano, the Puerredion and the San Martin. The Argentinians also had four early Yarrow torpedo boat destroyers of the Corienetes class, which were based on HMS Havock, for which I can use the Spanish Terror class model as it's close enough to pass muster.

Saturday 8 October 2022

Chilean Pre-Dreadnought Squadron Finished


The Chilean squadron is now finished and I'm quite pleased with the end result, especially the bases which are a good match for my much-used sea cloth. I am now going to add the two pre-dreadnought battleships that Chile ordered during the naval race with Argentina, the Libertad and Constitucion, neither of which were delivered but ended up as HMS Swiftsure and HMS Triumph, having discovered two of the Tumbling Dice models in my second-hand stash. 


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