Thursday, 29 May 2014

All the small things

 The scenario has now been play-tested 3 times, with adjustments being made to force morale, scenario conditions/special rules & even force composition after new reading material bought new information to light particularly regarding the Infantry composition of the German attack force. Out with the Panzergrenadiers & in with Grenadiers from an ad hoc formation supplied by II/726 including troops from both 7Kp & the HQ units. Surprisingly, removal of the PzGr. 2nd squad mg made very little difference in the subsequent games (maybe due to tactics employed & in part to the nature of the terrain) with if anything, the grenadiers faring slightly better! They were still being supported by the 8(Schw)Kp 192 vehicles though.

Anyway, poor quality as they are (again), here are a few shots of new bits added to the game forces over the last few days:

Some of the new shock markers for the Germans. Those 'surrendering' with green dice would symbolise shock, whereas those 'prone' with black dice would signify kills on weapon teams or vehicle crews where removing single figures was not an option.
Some examples of the corresponding para markers. The same system will apply.

New para "Jump-Off" points. The red chute denotes weapons & ammunition, the yellow one medical supplies & the others have had theirs removed. This information will bear no significance in the game itself.
The scenario calls for a "tank-killer" team. These were supplied from the MG Company who had landed without their heavy weapons & were armed only with stens, pistols & gammon bombs.
And finally, the element that would be the greatest help in evening the odds for the outnumbered & beleaguered paras. Snipers were very instrumental in the day's many engagements, ensuring that the German attackers had to be on their guard at every turn.
We've got another run-through arranged for this Sunday at Wyvern Wargamers with two new pairs of eyes to iron out wrinkles. At this rate, by the day of the event, it should hopefully be playing very well indeed!


Monday, 19 May 2014

Forgive me Father for I have sinned.......AGAIN

Well, what a busy weekend that seemed to be! It started with the first play-test of the Benouville game on Friday (which went very well), took in the trek north to Triples in Sheffield on Saturday, painting some more 15mm paras on Sunday & ended with a trip to Wyvern Wargamers to get my arse royally kicked at Stu's Starship Troopers game. A night where I couldn't roll a single 6 all night until I didn't want any & they came along in doubles & trebles! DOH!

Anyway, onto the sinning, which mostly happened on Saturday. Despite my proud declaration that "no more new topics would be undertaken this year", I appear to have failed miserably coming away from Triples with not ONE but TWO seeds of evil planted firmly in my wargaming brain.

Here's the weekend swag. And the excuses which may or may not be necessary.....

First up was this haul for my Jason & the Argonauts project

Not strictly speaking a 'new' project as Paul Next Door & I had talked at length about doing it. I'd opted for Jason while Paul was for all things Arabian with Sinbad. The plan was to try out the 7TV rules '7th Voyage' from Crooked Dice, They've really captured the "Harryhausen" feel we were looking for. The slightly unforeseen part was buying the other set of rules pictured, but they're really pretty & contain LOTS of lovely pictures of the painted Foundry  range which I'll find quite an inspiration. Watch this space.......

Addition to an existing game. No sin here.
I already own & play Dead Man's Hand which is a great game with an innovative mechanic that really suits the Wild West theme. Having missed it's debut at Salute I took the opportunity to catch up with top fellas Stu McQ & Mark from Great Escape Games & bag a copy of 'Legend'. Trips into Dry Gulch would now take on a whole new slant.

Cracking source material for CoC & IABSM
 Next up is a book I'd been looking at buying for probably the last two years from Dave Thomas. Written by Stephen Andrew & published by Landser Books, it covers German army uniforms in all theatres from 1944-45 with some corking colour plates. When Dave made such an attractive offer I couldn't refuse, even Paul Next Door grabbed 'one for the road'.

21st Panzer finally get their correct supports for Benouville

In through the door & straight to Stafford Games (who now have bags in the same livery as Harrods so I'm told by the lady serving - FoW sales must still be strong!), where I picked up the "must have" bits of the day. I felt so much better :^)

Difficult to tell because of the reflection, but this field is lovely!
 Last but by no means least are the flowers I told the wife I was getting (still don't understand why she's peeved) & a 'field' by some company in the Czech Republic, most probably for railways. Stu at GEG was telling me they'd sort of been bought in error so it was a case of getting them noticed. This one has the look of a rape-seed type crop. It's about A4 sized & when based will make a cracking little 'small-holding' in Normandy somewhere scaling at bout 30m x 19m.

The aforementioned 2nd new project hasn't ACTUALLY been purchased yet. but the thought alone is wrong as it will surely happen (just not probably until the end of this year). After picking up a parcel for Rich Clarke from Empress Miniatures, I stood gazing at the BEAUTIFUL Spanish Civil War range, something I'd been holding off on for a while (and cursing the many CoC Espana lists published around Christmas) . I cracked. I knew I would. Imagine my surprise when it turned out that was what Rich's parcel contained too!

I'm not from the Catholic side of our family. Just as well. I'd be mumbling "Hail Mary's" for the rest of my days.....

Friday, 16 May 2014


During the course of my 25 year odyssey to find my ideal set of WW2 rules & scale I've bought easily 20 sets of rules & probably double that for scenario books etc.
It was one such scenario book which first inspired my choice for this year's OML2 game of Benouville.
Written by an American company in the late 90's, when the internet wouldn't have (I would have thought) been such a mine of information, it describes the German forces as a very broad "Soldaten of 8th Heavy Gren. Batt. & 192 Pz. Gren. Regt."


The actual attackers WERE from 8 (schw.) Kompanie 192 which had NO inherent grenadier strength, instead possessing an assortment of French converted half-tracks mounting either 75PaK or 20mm AA guns (hence HEAVY company)

It lists ALL infantry (supposedly Pz. Gren.), with only one LMG per squad instead of two & has one of the four squads carried in a SdKfz. 251

er....... WRONG!

21st Pz. Div. did NOT possess a SINGLE 251, with all of it's half-tracks having been converted from French Somuas or Unics.

My first error was here. Knowing there were no 251's I decided to substitute in two Unics as transport for the single squad. So I painted these:
These are NOT the Unics I was looking for!

er....... MY WRONG!

 Only to find on later reading that the attacking troops were from Kampfgruppe Rauch's II Batt.192, which, as the non-gepanzert (armoured) companies, would be using trucks (largely French again) & NOT half-tracks of ANY sort at all. Furthermore in CoC the trucks would not figure as the troops would have de-bussed way before entering combat zones.

Then was the crowning glory.

Also listed as support was 2 x 75mm PaK40 L/48's auf 39H(f) & Major Becker HIMSELF!!!

Ignorance had me blissfully paint these from my collection:

These weren't needed either!
Only to discover that Becker's Sturmgeschutz Abteilung 200 (& Becker) was attached to Kampgruppe Luck on the OTHER (eastern) side of the Caen Canal!


I decide that I'd use a standard panzergrenadier platoon from the CoC main rules as representing troops from any of the 5-7th companies (as none - as far as I could ascertain, were referred to in specific), with supports of:

1) An extra Pz. Gren. section with Junior Leader - list 5
2) 2 x S307(f) (PaK40) (substituted from Marder III's) - list 6
3) 1 x U304(f) 2cm Flak (substituted from SdKfz 250/9) - list 6

for a total of 23 support levels.

I'd need to buy the 3 vehicles. All I could think at this point was "thank goodness I'm going to Triples tomorrow"

Thursday, 15 May 2014

A question of occupancy

I've opted for playing all my WW2 CoC games in 15mm, chiefly for these main reasons.

1) I already had a lot of figures, vehicles & most importantly scenery in that scale for IABSM.
2) It was bang-on for the ground scale as intended.
3) It would enable me to fight over whole villages & sections of town, which in larger scales wouldn't be either possible for space or cost......

One of the biggest issues in gaming in this scale, is that unless you go for overlarge buildings, many of the ranges do not have lift-off roofs & showing figures as "inside" can be problematic. I'm not a fan of putting figures behind or next to buildings to show their occupation & many of the games we play as a group are done so without an umpire so telling someone who's where is not always an option either. With the forthcoming Benouville game having so many buildings involved, I was keen to come up with a solution.

Each building was given a letter on the plan. I then photographed each one 'top-down' to give a plan view & photo-shopped the identification letter onto it.
Benouville's 'Building D' would now become 'Building D' in my collection permanently
 The idea was then to talk nicely to Paul Next Door & see if he'd be willing to laminate the photos for a more permanent feel. Each one could then be put on a side surface in easy proximity to the game (hidden if necessary). Troops could then be placed upon the appropriate building picture as they entered them.
A couple of paras have taken up position downstairs in the cottage.
 In buildings with multiple floors, it would be necessary to depict which one the troops were on (especially important for close combat in CoC). So I decided as I had lots of them lying about unused, I'd depict levels by placing FoW bases beneath the troops. No base would signify ground floor, One base 1st floor & so on like so:
Our paras are joined by colleagues who take up position on the 1st floor
If particularly of importance, the troops' facing on the picture could even decide which aspect of the building they could fire from. I think I'll be trialling this in future CoC games.

Dress Rehearsal

So, having got to the stage where I thought the battlefield side of the project was complete, I decided to indulge myself & see it all set up for the first time. I spent a little time making small adjustments, moving trees & judging angles etc. before I took a few shots to whet my appetite for writing up the scenario.
Here's a few "flavour snaps". Again, please excuse the quality, they were taken on my iPad.

View from the German approach in the south

The Germans will start from either 1 of 2 jump-off points situated behind this wall (but 4" off table) or enter on the roads at either end of the wall. 

Table height view along the "lower road" 

View from the south-east, showing the main Caen-Ouisterham Road on the far side.

Looking toward the Germans. Pegasus Bridge would be behind you & to your left.

View from above the Caen Canal looking west

The two north-south roads frame the battle-zone.

From the north-west. Le Port would be behind you to your left.

Finally, from the west.

All-in-all I'm happy that the scene is set. Now all that remains is to make the action playable as a game! There are quite a number of things to be addressed. My biggest concern is that it will be by far the most urban of all the CoC games I've attempted. Hopefully the play-testing will determine whether it's feasible to prevent things just bogging into a static fire-fight. Initial thoughts are that the Germans will need to take 5 of the 9 buildings with the road network OR reduce the paras Force Morale to zero (as normal) to achieve victory. For the beleaguered paras, much as in real life, the goal is to prevent that while also reducing the opponent's Force Morale to zero. Go to it!

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Benouville the game - Step 4 walls, hedges & tracks etc.

To finish everything off I've purpose built over 6 feet of walling, another 3 feet of hedges (this time with some integral trees for variation - while I was in the mood) & the few pieces of farm track I needed.
All the walling was from the Landmark range I once owned. I'd kept hold of a few packs when I sold the range for just such an occasion

The hedges were again based on the wooden garden plant identification sticks (like large lolly sticks) i'd used for all my previous walls & hedges. These had some random small Woodland Scenics trees in to 'spruce' things up.

The tracks were some flexible ones Jamie had bought on eBay. I re-coloured them to match the landscape & added the central static grass to show they were quite rural.

 That was the scenery side taken care of completely. I've spend this afternoon setting up the battlefield, making a few notes & taking a few photos in preparation for the first run-through on Friday. I'll put up the finished battlefield shots tomorrow, but for now it's off to finalise some draft orbats.......

Benouville the game - Step 3 Orchards "the tedium"

With important buildings complete, it's been time to turn my attentions to the bit which, if I'm honest, had been the least looked forward to. I had planned out 3 orchards to run up the western side of the village on right side the main Caen-Ouisterham road. They had to be done. There was no avoiding them. It was a case of "grit yer teeth chap".
The orchards shown in light green
I had a clear idea of how I was going to go about making them and in the recent warm spell had even mocked up their part of the battlefield on a pasting table in the garden in order to cut bases of the right size.
"In the buff"
 Having cut the bases I attached some small magnetic tape cut into 10mm lengths at measured intervals to give the regular appearance that would differentiate from normal woodland features. The Woodland Scenics small trees I'd bought last year for this purpose (but kept putting off) had been glued to 1p pieces (pre-tested for magnet friendly) & based. then the whole lot was given a coat of Crafters Acrylic fawn paint bought from Hobbycraft
Yesterday I resigned to attach the foliage.
I'd only have to do it once
I kept reminding myself how much use they'd be in return for all the boredom & mess. It worked! by the end of the day I'd knocked out 64 trees & grassed the bases. although it doesn't look much, it had the VERY pleasant effect of making me feel I was getting close to the end of the scenery building.

Next up (& finally) walls, hedges & tracks......

Pulling a "Nissvik" *

No sooner have I mentioned my intentions to run the gladiator project AS A SMALL AFFAIR, with no intentions to do anything stupid (like build an arena for example), than my first email message yesterday morning was from Paul Next Door (my neighbour, chum, lifelong gaming oppo) with a bloody Kickstater link to this:


At the moment it's quite rudimentary, but with the promise of it being embellished as stretch-goals & even the larger pledges weighing in favourably when compared to other laser cut MDF/ply vendors, there's a pretty good chance I may exhibit signs of "wargamer weakness" before the Kickstarter ends in 16 days time.

It's already funded. So I'll be keeping an eye on developments there I think.

I've been "Nissviked". Thomas, Your young padowan has struck  :(

*You may need to be on the TooFatLardies Yahoo Group to fully understand.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Benouville the game - Step 2 the buildings (3)

Cottages at C & D
As mentioned previously, I had ascertained the need for two dormer cottages at position C & D on the plan which I knew after an exhaustive search were not available commercially. So, having wracked my brain, I came up with the idea that I would attempt to butcher one of my existing small buildings & create them as a "hash-build". Searching through my scenery box I came up with this:

Small Tiger Terrain house/shop
With the aid of my trusty Dremel tool (some of the best hobby money I've ever spent) I cut it in half leaving an upstairs with no door & downstairs which was a shop on the reverse. Adding the two halves to some outbuildings I bought on eBay & attaching two new roofs I was certain I could turn out something like what the job needed. Here's what I came up with:

Cottage C
Cottage at C on the map was made from the upstairs, inverted & with one of the outhouses added along the side to provide the door. I 'rendered' the brickwork with some filler to match the new host building and based it on an open surround as it would eventually be surrounded by orchards.

Cottage D
Cottage at D was made from the lower portion of the original building with some filler & a different extension to hide the shopfront part. I cut some scouring pad up to provide the 'dressed' hedge around the garden (I intend to add some flowers after a trip to Triples this Saturday)

All in all, I'm extremely pleased with how they turned out. They will definitely be seeing lots of use in further Normandy games of IABSM & CoC.

With these two finished, that would conclude all 9 buildings (ones pertaining to the scenario) within the road area of the map. Next step will be orchards....

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Benouville the game - Step 2 the buildings (2)

So I managed to knock 4 things (well, 3 1/2 - I've not sorted the cottages yet) off the checklist. Firstly I completed buildings A & B. The main houses were actually the same model (from Tiger Terrain - sorry no URL they've not got a site), but with different roofs.

Building A has a substantial barn/outbuilding running to the road on it's east side, so I added a barn model from the Landmark range.

Building A from the mock-up
Building A ready to use
Building B has smaller structures to the front left side & rear right side as you look at it from the road so I managed to use up some ancient buildings by Missing Link which I acquired many moons ago. It also has a large amount of trailing plant growth covering it's front. A gift from chum Jamie in the way of some poison ivy from Warlord Games would fill that role nicely! 

Building B from the mock-up

Building B ready to use
I also managed to sort the back garden for house E. that's a Peter Pig model from their Normandy houses range with low walls for both house & garden by Tiger Terrain once again.
House E gets it's garden & moves to the more accurate position on the road junction

The grass is greener!
Finally for today, building F (Peter Pig's Normandy Farmhouse & Barn) gets a new 'red' roof to be more like the real one.
Please excuse the photos. they were taken quickly on my iPad & I'm no photographer at the best of times.

Benouville the game - Step 2 the buildings (1)

Having established the draft plan I looked for some inspiration & decided to actually have a "test-run" to set up what I already had & take some photos to actually gauge the job ahead. I found myself on a Saturday with no football & an urge to create so I moved some bits about & came up with this:

From here I could much better visualise what tasks lay ahead & formulate an order in which to proceed. As I realised soon after, there's a lot wrong in this photo, but it was a fun exercise so what the heck! If nothing else, I had a rough size for the orchards, I'd selected buildings for the 'new builds' & realised just how much I wasn't happy with the track roads I had....they'd HAVE to be changed. So as a last bit of fun I did some filter tinkering for a flavour shot:

A while later, after poring over the layout, I re-visited my knock-up plan & the 1944 air shot & altered the plan to take in the changes I'd decided upon:

The new buildings at A & B  I could make up & base pretty much as pictured at the top. but the new additions at C & D were small "one & a half storey" cottages with dormer windows which I didn't own anything suitable for, so some thought and improvisation would be needed. The buildings marked in red were outside the road area & therefore not critical for the scenario victory conditions. I had decided that I could already do L & J from 'stock' & would look to make up N, O & M later when the more pressing stuff was out of the way.

So, in no particular order the scenery tasks were:

The 4 new buildings
The orchards
Sort the tracks
Build a garden for building E
repaint the roofs of F
Walls & hedges (now I had a better idea of lengths).

Friday, 9 May 2014

Benouville the game. Step 1 - the map

Having decided on the subject matter for my game for OML2 & compiled the relevant reading material, the next obvious step was to go about preparing the table and looking at what needed to be made anew & what could be sourced from items already in my collection.

First up I thought a visit to modern day Benouville would be a good place to start. I've been lucky enough to visit Normandy six times, but have never looked in depth at any particular site so, a "virtual" visit and walkabout (don't you just love that?) on Google Earth was in order.

I quickly identified this as the area I was trying to cover
All well & good, but this is MODERN Benouville. So, swiftly to the rescue was pal Jamie, a photographer who happens to have a library of contemporary air reconnaissance shots all over Normandy. He came up with this....

So, I had a bit of a play & managed to overlay the wartime image onto the current view which helped hugely to identify which features were in period.

By toggling the overlay on & off, I could quickly create a rough plan of the battlefield.

This would give me the rough framework I needed to identify items I already owned & how best to re-purpose them. Then I took a 'walk' around the village taking particular note of the look of the buildings, walls, distances etc. It turned out that I'd need to create some orchards, about 4 feet of walls (including some custom pieces for between buildings & most importantly, four new project specific buildings.