Thursday 29 February 2024

Back to the Back of Beyond

 


Out of the blue I have some how ended up with a game of Contemptible Little Armies in the Back of Beyond at the end of next month. I haven't played this in a long while, even though it's an old favourite of mine, so I'm going to have to dust off the Bolsheviks and perhaps even get that long overdue armoured train scratch built. The opposition is likely to be a British Imperial flying column so I really don't fancy my chances without some additional heavy firepower of some sort!

Wednesday 28 February 2024

Later French Ironclads

 



I have decided to assemble and base some Tumbling Dice 1/2400th later French ironclads for Battery and Barbette, rather than paint the Royal Navy models that I prepared ages ago. I will build them at the weekend, alongside painting my Royal Navy Napoleonic squadron, ready for a game in a few weeks time. I'm also hoping to do a solo play test game at the weekend using my c1865-1875 models, which will give me an idea of the way the rules work. 

Monday 26 February 2024

Barbette and Battery



I've now been sent the pre-publication version of David Manley"s new late ironclad / early pre-dreadnought rules, Barbette and Battery, which look very good indeed (thanks DM). I've been waiting for a set of fast play rules for this period for years, having previously had to bridge the gap with existing rules designed for earlier or later, so this is a very exciting development. Needless to say, my project plans have been thrown into the air again and I'll be making space for some Tumbling Dice 1/2400th scale French and British warships of the late 1870's to mid-1880's, a good selection of which I originally based a few years ago. Excellent!

http://jimswargamesworkbench.blogspot.com/2020/08/12400th-royal-navy-ironclads-1880s.html


Sunday 25 February 2024

Return to E Boat Alley

After the Nimitz game at the club the other day we had a chat about possible directions for future naval wargames. I mentioned that I had some 1/600th early war coastal forces stuff that I'd previously used for Schnell Rules for Schnellboote, but which had been gathering dust ever since. Following up on this, we've opted to give the Long Face Games Narrow Seas fast play rules a spin, with the focus on some scenarios for the East Coast and North Sea c1941-42. I have everything for this but will need to paint up a convoy of merchant shipping and a few escorts if we like the rules and want to take it beyond simple encounter / interception type games. It should be kicking off some time after the Easter holidays, if it goes according to plan.

Clearing the Decks

 

I blocked in the decking on the 1/2400th Royal Navy ships this afternoon using Vallejo US Tan Earth. This looks a bit rubbish but will sort itself out once the wash is applied later. The next job is the fiddly one, blocking in all the strikes, stern, masts and hammock netting in a white base coat,  ready for the colour overcoat after the wash has been applied.

Saturday 24 February 2024

Royal Navy Channel Squadron Underway

 

In a slight change of plan I have started painting some of the 1/2400th Royal Navy Napoleonic fleet, choosing a mixed squadron of third rates and frigates, rather than just the latter for the first job. The thinking behind this is to end up with a self-contained squadron that I can deploy for some rule learning games, to be followed by the rest of the models in three batches. I'm going to block in the decks next having completed blocking in the sails today.

Breaking of the Line

 

I took a trip into town after work yesterday and popped into the local Oxfam bookshop, which I hadn't been to for a few weeks. This hardback looked interesting so it's been added to the overloaded bookshelves, which I really need to reorganise and rethink as I am running out of space. Apparently, if you have more than one thousand books it's classified as a library, so I think the front room will now have to be renamed!

Thursday 22 February 2024

Going Up In The World

I spent most of my recent day off this week tidying up the loft, which is why nothing more worthwhile was achieved in a wargaming direction. However, inspired by a recent visit to an old wargaming chum's bijou converted garage wargames den, I reckon I could set myself up in the loft with a semi-permanent table. This would have to be on the compact end of the spectrum but would be feasible using a folding table and chair for some quiet solo wargaming entertainment, not to mention a bit of peace and quiet. I haven't raised the idea with the Ministry of the Interior yet, so it may well be vetoed. You can only hope, I suppose?

Wednesday 21 February 2024

Ngoni Mercenary Test Base



I had a day off work today but had very little time to do anything wargaming related, apart from sorting out the test base of Ngoni 'hired" warriors for the Nyamwezi army. The base has two Copplestone figures and one Black Tree Designs Zulu, all three decked out with Foundry shields and with head rings for married status, another hang over from Zulu traditions. I really like how these turned out, so all I need now is the time to actually paint them!

USS Choctaw

            


I was lucky enough to win a bid on a 1/600 scale Thoroughbred Miniatures model of the ginormous river ironclad, USS Choctaw. This is a fantastic model and one of the best in this excellent range, really capturing the extraordinary look of the actual ironclad. It's got me thinking about having another crack at ACW riverine warfare, once again using Dahlgren and Columbiad or Iron and Fire but this time in the much larger 1/600 scale instead of 1/2400th scale. It's not as though I have a shortage of models to build and paint, having accumulated loads over the last twenty years or so. 

Tuesday 20 February 2024

Find, Fix and Strike / Nimitz Club Games

 









A back to back naval wargaming night at the club with Find, Fix and Strike deploy ed for the Battle of the River Plate, followed by Nimitz for the Battle of the Denmark Strait. Two different sets of rules but both fast play and giving a good game with a historical outcome, more or less. The Graf Spee was finished off by a salvo of torpedoes fired by HMS Exeter, while HMS Hood was sunk by the combined fire of Bismarck and Prinz Eugen. Good fun!

Monday 19 February 2024

Knock Off Ngoni

Copplestone / Black Tree / Copplestone 

Copplestone/ Black Tree 

Test Base Components 

One of the additional options for the Generic Villagers army in Death in the Dark Continent are a couple of units of warriors, hired from a more warlike tribe. I was wondering about a suitable contingent for the Nyamwezi and, after a bit of inspiration from Nick Eyre on the FB group, I opted for a mercenary Ngoni unit. 

To kit this out I found a pack of Copplestone Ngoni on eBay for a bargain price but that only gave me ten figures, enough for three bases. I then remembered that I had some old Zulu figures from Black Tree designs in the lead pile, so dug them out. They are actually a very good match for the Copplestone figures and I have enough to expand the Ngoni unit to at least eight bases. I will equip the unit with Foundry Zulu style shields to give them a consistent look, then assemble and base them, ready for test painting.

Sunday 18 February 2024

Nyamwezi Test Bases

 



Inspired by fellow Darkest Africa enthusiast and all round wizard painter Jon, I've decided to expand my test base painting for the Death in the Dark Continent project to three bases, one for each of the main unit types in the Nyamwezi army. As these are all scantily clad skirmishers, there are only two figures per base and painting should be fairly straightforward. I'm working on units of six to eight bases, so it will be useful to see how much time it takes to paint a single base of archers, musketeers or spearmen, using a simple palette of half a dozen colours plus highlights.

MiG Alley 'How To? Movement Examples

After some head scratching and the occasional bit of head banging, I have modified the guideline energy and action point examples for MiG Alley. This mainly involved a bit of editing but also the rewriting of the second example to include a break up and crash due to too much energy at the end of the turn, instead of a spin due to having spent more action points than starting energy, as I just couldn't make this work with the existing parameters. I think I need one more example which will include a spin or a stall, perhaps using a lower-powered piston aircraft like a Corsair or Yak 9, as this will make it easier to fabricate a spin situation. No rush yet though, as I don't even know if Paul wants to use these diagrams or not, so no point in wasting time and effort designing anymore for the moment. 

Saturday 17 February 2024

Wings at War 'How To?' Part Two

 

I got around to writing up the second part of the Wings at War 'how to?' guidelines to movement this afternoon, which are designed to help players get their heads around Energy and Action Point expenditure, using some more complicated movement actions compared to the previous guide. I think I've explained things as clearly as I can and have also incorporated some of the suggestions from people on the Wings at War Facebook group, most of which were very helpful. I'd be interested to know if this makes sense, especially if you either have played before or have absolutely no experience of the system. The examples use the free-to-download Desert Spitfires rules, so that anyone can try them out:

Royal Navy Channel Squadron

 

This is the first half of the Napoleonic naval painting for the next month and a bit, consisting of a range of fourth, fifth and sixth rates, together with some unrated sloops and brigs and a single 64 as a flagship. The first thing to do is to block in the sails with Army Painter Skeleton Bone, which I'm hoping to get done over what's left of the weekend.

Friday 16 February 2024

Clearing the Decks

 

I need a change of focus as my current project, the Royal Navy 1/3000th scale warships for the Norwegian Campaign, has run out of steam due to a lack of time this half term holiday to get them finished. I will return to complete them later in the year but I'm now going to refresh my nautical painting oomph with the 1/2400th Royal Navy Napoleonic fleet that I prepared back in November, to use with my French fleet that I completed last year. This consists of two halves - an inshore squadron of frigates, sloops and brigs, together with a line of battle squadron of second and third rate ships. 

Wednesday 14 February 2024

Steam Launch


I don't actually have any lake coastline for the Death in the Dark Continent project, although various cunning plans are afoot to sort some out that will match Jon's terrain, but I thought I'd do a steam launch regardless, as you can't really not have one for this sort of thing. I would usually scratch build something and may still do so, but the Sarissa Precision MDF kit is cheap, easy to put together and looks pretty good, at least as far as I can tell from various blog posts by other people. I've seen Jon's one up close and it looks excellent, so 'why not?' I thought to myself. I'll get round to building it at some point, possibly as a sectional river launch for an expedition or for the German force I'm thinking of putting together. Jolly good stuff!

Dublin GPO

 





Last day of a short break in Dublin and a visit to the General Post Office and museum of the Easter Rising of 1916. Very good and highly recommended if you are here for a couple of days. The museum is in the basement of the building itself and has an excellent display of artifacts, as well as a very well presented short film of the key events, although it's slightly weird to think that it was all happening just above your head on the ground floor.

Tuesday 13 February 2024

Dreadnought Battleship Owners Manual



I found this in a bookshop in Dublin for only €9.95 today so picked up a copy to read on the flight home. I've found this series of books a bit hit and miss, with some being really good and others a bit of a waste of space, but this one looks like one of the better ones. 

Monday 12 February 2024

Flypast Beaufighter

I bought this Flypast special at the airport a couple of days ago but didn't have time to look at it until today. It's a bit pricey but very good, with excellent illustrations and some fascinating first hand after action reports, technical design details and aircrew profiles. There's plenty here that could be used for scenario design in particular, so worth a few quid of your pocket money.

Ost Afrika Options

            

A long time ago I planned and bought the lead for a German East Africa army for In the Heart of Africa:

http://jimswargamesworkbench.blogspot.com/2009/12/africa-update.html

I've now excavated the figures from the lead pile and have reorganized them for Death in the Dark Continent, adding another pack of DOAG Askaris to bump up the numbers. I may tackle this after the Nyamwezi and before the Ngoni, as a break from painting lots of tribal figures. The good thing is that it requires far fewer figures than the Nyamwezi or Ngoni and the uniforms are relatively simple to paint too. The Germans also fought just about everyone they bumped into, so plenty of replay value. 

Saturday 10 February 2024

Return to the River Plate

Admiral Graf Spee...sorties again!

Despite the cancellation of the Find, Fix and Strike games last week, I've been able to arrange a new game session with another naval wargaming club member for a week on Tuesday. This will be a back to back session, with muggins introducing Find, Fix and Strike and Geoff showing me the ropes of Nimitz, the idea being to play the same historical scenario in order to compare the two sets of rules. If we can, we may even repeat the experiment with a follow on game of the Denmark Straits, again to contrast the two systems and see which one gives the most realistic and rewarding outcome. Good stuff!

Naval Command 2024

I've signed up to the play test Facebook group for the latest edition of Rory Crabb's modern naval rules, Naval Command. I have played quite a lot of games with the second edition of these rules including a whole 'What If?' solo campaign set during the Indonesian Confrontation, so have a good handle on the system, which is pretty good but full of glitches and bugs. I'm hoping that these have been ironed out in the new edition of the rules and I'm looking forward to giving them a try out, this time using my 1990"s era Chilean and Chinese fleets, unless I paint up some Royal Navy and Soviet stuff just for the kicks.

Friday 9 February 2024

Wings at War 'How To?'

 

Mr Tumbling Dice, Paul Sulley, asked me for some reason to proofread and edit the Wings at War rule booklets to see if I could make the movement, energy management and action point system less opaque for customers. Apparently, he's had a lot of emails from prospective players who are confused by the text and who have given up on the game before they've had a chance to try it out. I thought the best way to clarify things would be to produce a set of 'box out' example moves including one turn that works and another where the flight parameters are exceeded, resulting in too much energy at the end of the turn and a spin, resulting in a crash. Here's the first example using the Desert Spitfires rules as a template, although the idea would be to modify this to fit the other rules in the series. Any feedback would be very welcome.

Thursday 8 February 2024

Battle of the River Plate

 











This was the play test game for the Battle of the River Plate scenario that I would have been running at the club this week, were it not for being ill. In the playtest the Graf Spee managed to inflict heavy damage in HMS Exeter but was then boxed in by the two light cruisers before she could finish her off. Although the Fairey Seafox spotter aircraft from HMS Ajax was swiftly dispatched, the light cruisers were able to launch their torpedoes at close range, with HMS Achilles scoring a modified total of 13 against the Graf Spee, which rolled a 1 and was then hit twice, with added special damage. The latter caused flooding which, after a fluffed repair roll, became uncontrollable. The Graf Spee went to the bottom  giving the Royal Navy a major victory. A good game but I suspect a bit of a one off, especially as the dice were very much on the side of the Senior Service.

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