Thursday, 16 October 2014

Injun Interlude

See! It's NOT all WW2 and not even all Lard (that's a technicality - more of which later).
After a recent visit to Maximum Bob's for an intro/educational game of the excellent Muskets & Tomahawks against Martin, I was inspired enough to forage in the garage on my return to seek out the box with my French & Indian Wars stuff in it. This was another subject which I has rushed head-long into when M&T was first published. Having always enjoyed the film Last of the Mohicans and spent hours viewing all the blogs which were suddenly festooned with beautiful pictures of Indians, colonials and the armies of Wolfe & Montcalme, I promptly marched out of my stockade and "went large" on yet another new period.

Savage & godless. Heading to a settlement near you soon?
Back then Warlord Games had just negotiated a deal to supply the exquisite line of Conquest Miniatures, thus making their comprehensive range easily and readily available over here for the first time. Another very comprehensive range was available from Redoubt, but the figures were quickly discovered to be quite large and therefore incompatible with any other lines whereas I found that the civilian types and Woodland Indians offered by Foundry & Perry's would combine very nicely.
I was unsure at first on painting war paint. In the end I just dived in and was pleasantly surprised I didn't ruin the test batch of figures.
Within no time at all I had done my usual trick of accumulating an appropriate lead-mountain, visited Amazon for some histories, snapped up the relevant Ospreys (including a rare copy of Montcalme's Army) and used up some credit at Grand Manner for some log cabins. Then the project fell flat on it's face until recently.
I'd acquired some autumn leaves too
Realising I'd racked up quite a large number of figures for a skirmish game I decided I'd experiment with the painting to try to speed up my glacial turnover of 28mm sculpts. I decided that I'd settle for a look that "did the job" rather than being overly fussy. There would be opportunity to jazz things up with the basing and the war paint. As there was such a prevalence of browns and earth tones I decided I'd give the figures a coat of Army Painter Strong Tone and matt it down after.
"Here among the undergwothe"
Using Foundry's triads and Citadel reds & yellows for their vividness, I managed to paint all 20 of my first Indians from quite a limited palette. Fortunately it's left me with enough enthusiasm to tackle the next batch almost immediately without the anticipated immediate  return to WW2.

Using the points system in M&T this still leaves me with some way to go.
I've really enjoyed the change and combined with the knowledge that there's a Sharpe Practice adaptation for this too I know this little project will run and run.

Between compiling Americans for the recently released "29 Let's Go!" CoC supplement, preparing everything for the Winter Storm project and now a renewed vigour for this, I predict a busy winter ahead.........

I blame Bob.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!

No, this is nothing to do with Basil Brush (Brits only I suspect), or the collected works of the eminent war poet Private Baldrick and not even a "How To" but more of a "How I".

After their use attracted comments in the recent CoC game, I decided to go about making my own barrage/explosion markers. There are any number of useful tutorials on the web (I know because I looked them up), but they all use slightly differing approaches so I cherry-picked and added a bit and this is what I came up with.

All you'll ever need.....
After gathering my materials I made note of the following:
1) Don't use the best Milliput.
2) Don't worry about the colour of the clump foliage
3) Don't use good superglue (my stuff was the 5 for £1 that you can get from Super Savers etc.)
First step was to make some rough armatures by pushing bamboo skewer into the centre and varying lengths of cocktail stick into the sides of the Milliput at differing angles.

Next is the most laborious part. After the first couple I settled on a technique of skewering small clumps of clump foliage and building up rings. I deliberately left up to 5mm of the cocktail sticks at the ends as I had a plan.

Next I sprayed them thoroughly with Halfords matt black primer. When they'd dried out I dry brushed first a mid-grey tone in strokes from the top down stopping short of the lowest parts and followed with a lighter grey, again stopping even higher up.

After raiding my son's 40K paints I picked one of the thick pigment "Base" colours and wet brushed quite vigorously into the base areas of each plume and painted the ends of the cocktail sticks.

I repeated the same process with a lighter red in sparser amounts and further up the tips again.

Then I repeated the first red stage with a "Base" yellow. All the time trying where possible to keep the brush strokes vertical up the plumes.

And again with a lighter yellow.

Finally the tips of the cocktail sticks were whitened. I wanted to represent shards of white hot metal/earth or whatever projecting out of the smoke. I'd decided if the idea didn't work, I'd just go back and foliage up to the ends (but I actually think it looks OK!) 

Very soon I'd finished all ten (the tenth was out of shot for the next picture)

Very happy with the final result, I'll be more than happy to use them for vehicle explosions as well as just artillery blasts.
After putting off making them for so long, I'm likely to add a few more in the near future. Next time I'll maybe try attaching the foliage before inserting the sticks into the Milliput to see if that makes thing easier.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Wyvern Wargamers Big CoC with Big Rich 27-09-14 (part 3)

......of a trilogy :^D

Although I had unintentionally ended my own mortar barrage in the middle of that run of seven phases, the devastating effect it had already had on Rich's position was beginning to weigh heavily on the Paras. Repeated activations had left his 2" mortar team dead, his section next to the gun routed due to shock and the gun abandoned by it's remaining crew who were running for the board edge.
Heavy and accurate mortar fire devastated the paras on the hill.
Those accumulated losses had pushed Rich's FM to a perilous FOUR with his loss of a command dice also impacting upon Paul's FM too. I had luckily managed to reacquire the mortar support first time.

Rich re-crewed the rallied gun and added his remaining infantry sections in the as yet un-deployed trenches on the front of the hill. Needless to say, at his first opportunity he ended the barrage again by surrendering another CoC dice. I wouldn't manage to get it back for the rest of the game, but with it having left his sections encumbered with shock and cowering in the bottom of their slit trenches, it would be a blow from which he would struggle to recover. With his FM now at only TWO(!) he'd lost another command dice and the effect had again spilled over to reduce Paul's to five.

Meanwhile, back on the farm, Paul had introduced his remaining infantry sections and senior leader, deploying at nine inches within the garden from their jump off point hidden in the orchard (which I'd forgotten about). Obviously with the scent of blood in his nostrils, he wasted no time in assaulting my remaining weak force who were licking their own wounds in the house. The result was a bloody affair. The ground left littered with dead as the Germans were wiped out to a man and the paras taking another twelve casualties in the process.

Paul's sections advance to a VERY bloody second close quarters affair at the farmhouse.

Now it was my turn to teeter as my FM had fallen to only five also. Luckily for us, a second random event had seen Bob's FM recover to seven as his grateful troops downed bottle after bottle of Chateau Neuf de Pape they'd discovered in the factory cellar. How Rich howled! To think that their task had just been made harder by the GERMANS getting the booze! :^D

With the remaining Panzer IV's pumping HE round after HE round unchecked into the house and trenches on the hill, it was only a matter of time until Rich's FM dropped again. This time it was to demonstrate the catastrophic effect when supporting troops' morale cascades taking down each other in turn. First Rich lost another command dice, the resulting effect was to reduce Paul's by one, which in turn took that last remaining point from Rich.

In conclusion, although we had won in game terms we would have found it impossible to hold the ground as my foolhardy infantry assault had left us with insufficient forces to consolidate the gains.

In reality, this particular German attack was ended when concentrated defensive artillery barrages from Third Infantry Division west of the Orne and the guns of HMS Arethusa in The Channel broke up the assaulting force, leaving Panzer IV's knocked out as close as just THIRTY YARDS in front of the paras positions! According to both Werner Kortenhaus (in his book Combat History of 21st Panzer Division) and Hans von Luck (in his book Panzer Commander) it was this defeat that so heavily demoralised the officer cadre of the division and bought about wide belief that the war was indeed lost.

To the victors the spoils! SIEG IST UNSER!
A great game! My thanks to Rich for making the trip up to Borsetshire and to Bob & Paul for making it happen in true Lardy spirit. Let's hope we get to do this again soon........

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Wyvern Wargamers Big CoC with Big Rich 27-09-14 (Part 2)

So with the scene set, briefings given and battle plans drawn up, we rolled for force moral. Big Rich disastrously (for him) rolled a '1' (FM8), while Paul rolled '6' (FM11). That made Paul overall commander for the Brits and although it would be his dice dictating turn ends etc. he slyly passed over the patrol phase to Rich!

Although we both ended up with FM of 9 I was overall commander for the Germans by default as Bob had chosen to command the armour.
German view before the patrol phase. Bob and myself had already decided that priority must be given to denying the Brits a jump-off point in either of the mid-table wooded areas. After that, as our armour was deploying from the road entry points, we'd be happy jumping off from the hedge line and the factory if we could claim it.
The scenario we were playing was number three, a straight forward attack-defence and unfortunately I rolled a paltry two patrol marker moves before the Paras got to attempt to pen us in. In the end neither Rich or I attempted to claim the woods between the wheat fields and all our markers became locked down in the open ground or near the road. I'll admit I lost concentration at one point which could have proven costly, but in the end Bob and I were happy with our lot.
"Lock Down". Neither side had the central woods, while we'd achieved the factory as our furthest point forward.
We'd decided to pile on early and Bob's panzers quickly approached the hedge line.
Rich and Paul (eventually - the Pre-game barrage caused delays) deployed snipers to pick at our infantry escort. Although Rich forgetting they hit on three up did mean they weren't very successful for a number of turns :^D
German infantry appear round their armour and adapt overwatch to catch those snipers out. Equally unsuccessful, they failed every attempt at spotting!
The German attack was proceeding nicely, with the lead infantry and armour elements reaching the wooded area ahead of the factory on our right flank. Then things began to unravel. The Allies were racking up inordinate amounts of '5's and collecting CoC dice like they were going out of fashion. They ended the turn - and thereby our Pre-game barrage, with it having had little effect. There was little point in our FOO deploying when they had the ability to end any other barrage immediately.    ....Then disaster struck!
Rich's TFL dice (highly recommended purchase) rolled this! All those '6's bought about the first random event of the day. A stray mortar barrage would randomly hit the battlefield for one phase.
Would you believe it? Our lead units copped for the lot! Four (total) dead and shock to both infantry sections really put a crimp on things. Slowing us down and reducing our threat.
The random barrage ceased and the smoke cleared, allowing the Germans Mark IV's on the road to advance and take up positions to support an infantry attack on the farm house ahead. Then all Hell broke loose as Rich and Paul decided the time was ripe for cashing in some more of their hoarded CoC dice.

Rich's dug in A/T Gun and an infantry squad take up position on the hill front. 

Paul ambushed a PIAT from the out house widow at the farm, damaging the engine of one tank, while Rich, having deployed a Six Pound A/T Gun in a pit on the slope cashed in TWO CoC dice as interrupts to take out his target. Bob's FM took a plunge, dropping three points to just six.

Panzer 422 goes up in smoke after two hits from the 6Lb A/T Gun

Our intention to attack the farm house on our right flank to attain a base of fire near to the hill was hampered as Paul took advantage of our delay to deploy a section into the back garden. Then Lady Luck swung the balance back in The Fatherland's favour. I began a run of SEVEN consecutive phases (including a turn ending three sixes). Taking advantage I quickly rallied off the shock from the panzer grenadiers and moved both depleted sections to assault Paul's position before he could reinforce further. Not knowing how long I could push my luck, I chose to get stuck in without pinning him first. The result was a Pyrrhic victory. I took more casualties but managed to wipe out Paul's section entirely, holding the ground with two VERY poorly looking sections by default. I'd also been forced to cash in a CoC dice to avoid the morale test for my senior leader dying in the assault! Although I'd bought down Paul's FM to seven, my own had dropped to join Bob on a precarious six.

During this run I took advantage of the sudden lack of Allied CoC dice putting our FOO and mortar battery into action, calling down immediate fire on Rich's Paras and gun on the hill from the factory windows. Direct hit!

Stay tuned tomorrow for episode three! (if it's good enough for Peter Jackson) ;^)

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Wyvern Wargamers Big CoC with Big Rich 27-09-14 (part 1)

On Saturday we at Wyvern Wargamers held one of our all-day gaming events and were lucky enough to have guest visitors Paul from Kallistra & Big Rich Clarke from TFL among the club members gaming for the day. Paul was involved in a very large WW1 game using rules and 10mm figures from the Kallistra ranges while Rich took part in my four player CoC scenario based in Normandy with Paul, Maximum Bob and myself.
Our game would represent the right of the two blue arrows.
I'd chosen to depict part of the attack by 21st Panzer Division in the evening of 9th June (D-Day +3) when elements of 125 Pz. Gren. Batt. supported by MkIV tanks of 4 Kompanie 22 Pz. Batt. were ordered to attack from Escoville via Hérouvillette and on to Ranville from where they would hold ground with a commanding view of the bridgehead at Bénouville.
Ze Germans! Maximum Bob took control of the Panzer IV platoon while I (mis)handled a platoon of panzer grenadiers. This view towards the south, is from the raised ground at the British end of the table. Escoville would be in the cupboard over Bob's right shoulder, while Hérouvillette village would be about 6 feet behind the camera. 
The Brits (two platoons of The II/Ox. & Bucks Light Infantry) would be played by Big Rich and Paul. With Rich taking charge of the 6 pounder and ALL of the entrenchments as it turned out!
Orders of battle
The German attack would be preceded by a preparatory barrage (as in real life) and would be across well observed open ground with the tanks sometimes providing the only cover for the advancing panzer grenadiers. We'd be relying on those guns from Sturmgeschutz Abteilung 200 and the mortar battery to keep Tommie's heads down!
After a quick historical background to set the scene and 10 minutes for each side to discuss a battle-plan, we were ready for the off at about 10.15am..........