Tuesday, December 30, 2014

1940 goodness with Crescent Root Studios

Spent the day in Trenton playing some Chain of Command with Michael & Phil (the latter recently back from the wastes of Manitoba and soon to be back at his permanent posting in Gagetown, new Brunswick). Besides an opportunity to see Phil again (ok, and Michael), I was able to put on the table my Xmas gift to myself, the Cresecnt Root Studios Series 2 complex. This is a beautiful model but will require some additional work (to be chronicled at a later date). We set up an attack/defend scenario with my new British platoon defending the complex and surrounding buildings against a German Wermacht platoon. Rather than a full AAR, a collection of photos from the game below...
Aerial view of the table with the new Crescent Root buildings at the top. The British defended the top board edge and the Germans attacked from the opposite side.
A look down the main thoroughfare.
 A better view of the new buildings.
A view of the rail line running behind...more eye-candy than anything else.
French civilians trundle past before the shooting starts.

A German section befuddled by smoke laid by the British 2" mortar.
A Vickers MMG and British section deploy to lay fire on the Hun.
A German StugIII moves down the main road, ready to lay waste to the British defenders (but the laying of waste was not to be...German Force Morale plummeted soon after and the Hun scuttled ignominiously from the field).

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Xmas goodies (part one)

I was able to meet up with the younger army brat and his lovely wife before Xmas. During the brunch Lieutenant Dan gifted me something expected (since I had given them to him to assemble and paint) and another completely unexpected. Although I've added the photos here, for a more comprehensive view and extensive verbiage, check out his blog Red Over Blue.

First up, two Universal Carriers to support my 1940 British platoon. These are the superb Warlord Games models. However, it must be mentioned that the crew figures are a little less spectacular than the carriers themselves...not the painting, rather the sculpting/casting. This is a fairly minor quibble when taken in the context of some superb modelling and painting. Lt Dan suggested I have one carry my FOO but I will save my Daimler Dingo MkII scout car car (also from Warlord games and also now residing in the waiting line of Lt Dan's painting queue) for this purpose.

And the unexpected...four new Jump Off Points to go with my 1940 Fallschirmjager platoon. As Lt Dan says on Red Over Blue

"My intent with these markers was not to create a perfectly scale representation of fallschirmjager weapons cannisters, but rather a simple marker using only materials I happened to having lying around in my bitz box. Therefore, you will notice that the design specifications of these markers does not hold up to much scrutiny from a “count the rivets” sort of analysis, but I am happy with the overall result. From arms length these markers create the right impression and I believe the techniques used in this guide can be adapted to other projects."

These will look fantastic on the table (once my FJs are ready!). For a guide to the construction of the parachutes, see here. Very clever...

Xmas goodies (part two)

Trekked to Trenton yesterday with the entire clan to visit the eldest brat. I was surprised to receive as a Xmas gift some terrain pieces for our impending 6mm Napoleonic project (see here). This scale is Michael's forte. This is very good since I'm rubbish at this tiny scale (we'll see when it comes to the miniatures). 

The pictures below tell the tale....

Generic European chateau and grounds. 
What can't be seen here is that the main building and the stables lift out on 60mm x 60mm sections to be replaced with brigade-sized figure stands.

Rural farm complex. 
In this one, it's easier to see the lift out sections.

A selection of small fields.
I particularly like the autumn colours. This adds some variety to the table and is sadly lacking in most of my past terrain creations.

Forest pieces with lift off canopies. 
These are quite clever and allow deployment in woods in a way that is unusual for most games.

Now I just need to get through my impending move so I can start on this project...

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Branching out on my own - the launch of Red Over Blue

Hello all,

I have been a periodic contributor to this blog for a number of years now, and though I have enjoyed posting my various wares for your viewing pleasure, I have oft pined after having my own blog space to hawk my crazy ideas and shiny things. In light of the recent sales of several large projects (as posted on this blog over the past months), I feel I must start my own space. To this end, I have constructed my blog, which will be my new voice on the interwebz.

I would like to officially announce the launch of:

The goal of this blog is to reach out to the "everyman" of the miniature wargaming hobby. Some blogs and websites can be intimidating with impossibly godlike paintjobs that leave the rest of us wondering "how'd they do that?" I seek to break down these barriers and show the average wargamer that high-end tabletop quality painted miniatures are easily achievable and fun to do!

I have started with a series of articles, including three photo showcase posts: Warlord Games' German Fallschirmjagers, Warlord Games' Sdkfz 250/1, and Warlord Games' Universal Carriers. I have also included a step by step guide on how to build your own gaming mat, as well as a "Blast From The Past" article reminiscing about a project that has since left me, 28mm WW1.
I have many interesting articles and posts planned for the near future as well as sales.

And speaking of sales, I have kicked off the blog with the sale of a complete GW The Hobbit Escape From Goblin Town boxed set, painted to an expert level.

I have enjoyed my time as a contributor to Much Ado About Nothing and I hope you take a look at my new venture and become a new follower.

Thankyou, and happy holidays.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

1940 British platoon

The latest addition to my WWII project is a 1940 British platoon. These are all 28mm Crusader Miniatures, as is the majority of my WWII collection. These have all been painted for speed, using Army Painter desert yellow as a primer, details block painted, and finished with Army Painter dark tone dip (and topped with Dullcote). There are no highlights before or after the dip. I wanted to produce these quickly and cheaply (in terms of effort). I think the process produces a decent effect for the three foot rule. At the more detailed level, there is little subtlety, especially  in the flesh tones, but the effect from above the table is quite good.
I have also started using the 16mpx camera in my Galaxy S5, playing about with the settings (an ongoing process). I recently purchased a clamp to hold the phone on my tripod and results are quite pleasing. The backdrop was printed from an image available here. I also used some photography ideas from the Rust and the City blog here and here.
Platoon commander making his voice heard over the din of battle:
"Over there, you bloody idiots!"
Platoon sergeant, urging on his men (or telling them to "keep their bloody 'eads down").
One of two Vickers MMG teams.
For Chain of Command, these need to be a 5-man teams. There is another singly-based figure for each team not shown here.
2pder AT gun and crew.
There are two more singly-based figures to complete this 5-man team plus Junior Leader (one of which is the observer below).
Observer for the 2pder AT gun.
You can see clearly a downside to the dip method. The dip has pooled excessively at the bottoms of the pant legs. That's my mistake, not dabbing that away...tsk tsk.
One of four 8-man sections.
The basic platoon has only three sections but I decided to add a fourth as a possible support option (besides three 8-man sections makes for a very small platoon and I suspect the fourth section will be a common option).
2" mortar team.
Next up on the painting block...finishing off the 1940 fallschirmjager platoon but this may need to wait...i'll be moving in February so little scope for painting in the next few months.

Monday, December 15, 2014

New Xmas Goodies

Some pretty new toys from the talented brushes of Lieutenant Dan, soon to be in my hands over the Xmas holidays: this time, two Warlord Games Universal Carriers to reinforce my 1940 British platoon. Lt Dan has used a subtle two-tone green camouflage pattern that shows well in his new photo box. These will be handy little additions to my Brits, particularly as I plan to have a FOO trundle about in one of them. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Meuse 1940: Scenario 2 - Chaumont

Because Scenario 1 - No Man's Land was so short, Michael and I decided to carry on and set up for Scenario 2 the same night. This saw the German recce kampfgruppe probing farther from the Meuse bridgehead toward Chaumont. This game used The Probe scenario from the main Chain of Command rule-book.

As a refresher...

Leutnant Alex Geiger  commands a platoon of Kampfgruppe Geiger, a recce force made up of elements of 90. Aufklärungs-Bataillon, itself part of 10. Panzer  Division. This includes three armoured cars (two Sdkfz 222s and one Sdkfz 232 6-rad), a command car for himself and his platoon 2iC, Wachtmeister Otto Burg, and a recon infantry section mounted on motorcycle combos. 

Facing Geiger is 2e Peleton, 1er Compagnie, 2e Battalion, 213e Régiment d’Infanterie (part of 55e Division), a standard French infantry platoon under the command of Lieutenant Gerard Authier. 

As the French player, I chose to defend the short table edge (to the left in the picture above). This was especially important, given that the German force is highly mobile (and the French...umm...not!).Knowing the German vehicles would need to enter on the road in the top right of the picture and map, I tried to position my JoPs to try and cover this entry point. I also chose a 47mm AT gun as my support, hopping to do as much damage as possible before the inevitable German successful run to my baseline.  I had no other AT weapons and realized that the German armoured cars would see my AT guns and choose another route down the table. Thus, I hoped to get at least a few shots in on the way by.

German armour begins to debouch from the woods, supported by a Pzkpfw IV. Yikes! But I do see the more vulnerable motorcycle skulking behind it.

The French deploy their AT gun and an infantry section on the right flank to look for targets of opportunity. I was able to do some damage to the motorcycle section but the PzIV and armoured cars remained out of reach because of the surrounding contours (not very noticeable in the photos).

Another shot of the PzIV and German motorcycles facing off against the French right flank.

It quickly became apparent that I would not be able to stop the armoured cars from making an end run down the German right flank. A few more shots from the French infantry and it was decided to voluntarily withdraw...again...sigh.

So, on to Scenario 3, an attack/defend scenario. Time to pull out the French Armoured Counter-Attack wildcard!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Meuse 1940: Scenario 1 - Pont Maugis

Michael and I started up our Meuse 1940 Chain of Command campaign this past weekend in Trenton. Friday night we set up for the first encounter. For a detailed campaign overview, look here. On the map below, you can see the path of the campaign south of Sedan along the line of the advance by 10. Panzer Division. 

As the German Army advanced through southern Belgium on 12 May, Panzergruppe von Kleist, consisting of XLI Panzer Corps and XIX Panzer Corps (under General  Guderian) approached the Meuse River near Sedan. After securing Sedan on 12 May, Guderian’s plan for 13 May was straightforward. The 2nd Panzer Division in the north was to form the right flank of the assaulting force when it reached the Meuse near Donchery. The 1st Panzer Division, reinforced by the Infantry Regiment Großdeutschland, a battalion of assault engineers, and divisional artillery of the 2nd and 10th Panzer Divisions, was to make the main attack by crossing the Meuse just north of Sedan and seizing the Heights of la Marfee overlooking the city. The 10th Panzer Division was to cross the Meuse south of Sedan and protect the southern flank of the corps. After a determined defence by the French 55e Division, 10th Panzer was able to begin consolidating its bridgehead and begin moving south toward the Bulson ridge. Meanwhile the French had similar ideas and were heading for the same high ground...

Leutnant Alex Geiger  commands a platoon of Kampfgruppe Geiger, a recon force made up of elements of 90. Aufklärungs-Bataillon, itself part of 10. Panzer  Division. This includes three armoured cars (two Sdkfz 222s and one Sdkfz 232 6-rad), a command car for himself and his platoon 2iC, Wachtmeister Otto Burg, and a recon infantry section mounted on motorcycle combos. We wanted to experiment with fielding a starting platoon that was not purely infantry. In this case, the Germans have a fast-moving force but with very little integral infantry support. 

Facing Geiger is 2e Peleton, 1er Compagnie, 2e Battalion, 213e Régiment d’Infanterie (part of 55e Division), a standard French infantry platoon under the command of Lieutenant Gerard Authier. Unfortunately, French platoons have no integral AT weapons, relying completely on AT guns and their much-vaunted armour formations. This would prove  to be quite a challenge for the French player (c'est moi). 

ENCOUNTER 1 – The Patrol
Game One used The Patrol scenario as German forces moved from their start lines in the Meuse bridgehead near Pont Maugis. Terrain wasbe in the country side with fields, light woods or orchards, and small farmsteads. Special Rules (first time at Encounter 1 only): 1) The French player may not choose any armoured vehicles; 2) The German player may not choose a pre-game barrage as a support choice; 3) The French player must choose at least one concrete bunker (but no more than three) as a support choice, if possible.

The Patrol Phase
Unfortunately, in these photos it's difficult to see the ground contours that guided some of the movements in this phase. The French scouts moved toward the small farm, trying to use the stream and its banks as cover.

Jump Off Points
The Germans pushed close to the farmhouse, although the use of their JoPs would be potentially limited, given that the entire starting German force was motorized and set to enter on the road entry point. The French central JoP would seem to be in the open but in reality was out of LoS of the German patrol markers below a major contour line (and thus considered in cover).

German armoured cars move quickly down the main road to threaten any potential French deployment. Lieutenant Authier chose to keep his men in concealment (i.e. un-deployed) while deciding how to counter the German armour with nothing larger than LMGs.

Leutnant Geiger observes the farmhouse from his command car, while covered by another armoured car.

It was at this point that the French commander realized that his lack of AT capability and the speed and mobility of the German force could not be countered. It was also to his detriment that there was no support immediately available (the Support roll had been quite low and the French player - me- was forced by scenario rules to choose at least one concrete bunker, leaving no support points left over for AT support). Prudently then, he chose to quit the field, pulling back in the hope of gaining some time for reinforcements to arrive.

Thus, it took longer to set the game up than play it. No French troops showed on the table and the Germans had an easy victory. Lieutenant Authier's commanding officer was none too pleased but he had not been present to see the futility of resistance. Nonetheless, his opinion of the good Lieutenant has dropped (fortunately not to a point where it will affect anything....yet). Authier is content with his performance (or lack thereof, depending on perspective) and his men agree. They remain confident in their leader.

Leutnant Geiger's superior, on the other hand, is content with his subordinate's performance. Geiger had gained a victory in the first contact while advancing out of the bridgehead...but nothing less is expected from the sharp end of a German attack and his approval is tempered.

The Germans will now pursue the withdrawing French. Next encounter will be at the crossroads of Chaumont.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Arras 1940: Encounter 2 (Achicourt)

Last night saw the second battle of our CoC Arras 1940 campaign. The British had won the first encounter in No Man's Land when the Germans voluntarily withdrew in the face of an unexpected British advance south of Arras. Truth be told, I had nothing with which to counter the British Bren carriers. This, of course, turned out to be a false assumption. Apparently, MGs (of any type) can attempt to drive off APCs...who knew? Nevertheless, the British victory allowed Vidal to push on to the outskirts of Achicourt to further probe the German positions.

ENCOUNTER 2 – Achicourt (The Probe)
In this encounter, the British are approaching the outskirts of Arras from the northwest, intent on capitalizing on their previous victory. The terrain represents the outskirts of the town, including the main road into Achicourt and a small stream running across the front of the town.

British (attackers)
 FM = 11 (including a +1 FM modifier)
support = 13 points (Bren carrier + team, Matilda II, regular infantry section)
objective = move one team off the defender's base line

German (defenders)
FM = 10 (despite a -1 FM modifier)
support = 6 points (minefield, PzJgr I)
objective = prevent the attacker's objective

Patrol Phase
The Germans chose to defend the short end of the battlefield and move their patrols up to the stream in front of Achicourt. The German patrol markers veered left to counter the British movement of patrols to that flank. The British chose only three patrol markers and concentrated them on their own right flank.

Deploying Jump Off Points
After reading Richard Clarke's latest tactical primers (as all proper WWII gamers should), I decided to hold back the German Jump Off Points (above in red) and created a defensive line based on the stream in front of Achicourt. My intent was to force the British to come to me, while setting up supporting fields of fire and using the stream and the woods on the left flank as cover. I stayed away from the limited fields of fire available from the buildings. Vidal pushed his British JoPs to his right flank, hoping to concentrate and force a breakthrough to the German baseline there.

The British platoon commander, Lt Stuart began the game by probing forward on his right flank with a section of infantry and sending a Bren Carrier and team down the main road, trying to force the Germans to show themselves. The British 2" mortar began to drop smoke on the right flank to cover the advance of (eventually) three British sections.

The PanzerJager I deploys on the main road in Achicourt to scare off the British Bren Carrier probing down the main road (seen in the far distance). The Matilda II also moved forward along the main road behind the Universal Carrier but neither the PanzerJager I nor the Matilda II were able to damage the other (so once again becoming an ineffectual sideshow to the main infantry effort). Side note: This was the debut of the Panzerjager I and it defied the norm of wargaming logic, such as it is. It was not destroyed and/or routed from the field in its first battle.

After a couple of close shots from the PanzerJager I, the Bren team disembarks from its carrier and deploys into the adjacent field. This team proved to be the bane of the British attack. A full German section and 50mm mortar team deployed in the stream to its front and quickly wiped it out and severely wounded the Junior Leader. This eventually cost the British 5 Force Morale points with no discernible advantage gained. Oh well, live and learn, I suppose.

Leutnant von Schoenenfeld sent forward a section into the stream and used the cover to great effect in wiping out the Bren team mentioned above and then turning its attention to the main British effort on the  left flank. The stream proved to be the saving grace for the Germans. Although it was a minor hindrance to movement, its banks provided hard cover.

Three British sections prepare to assault the German lines under cover of a smoke screen from the 2" mortar. Although Lt Stuart (amongst his men above) had carefully prepared the assault, moving tactically and successfully covering his efforts with smoke, by the time he was ready to go in, the British Force Morale had dropped from 11 to 6 (mainly because of the lost Bren team in the center). Two more of the British section leaders had also suffered minor wounds. This didn't knock them out of the battle but did lessen their potential impact. Losing a Command Initiative each deprived them of the ability to direct the fire of their section Bren guns and target specific enemy teams (i.e. the MG34s).

One of the German sections on the left flank, facing the main British effort. Although taking some damage from the exchange of fire, it still represented a strong position behind the stone wall. Another section had taken up position to the left in the hard cover of the stream.
At this point, Vidal realized that with his Force Morale down to 6, completing his objective would be extremely costly. Although the Germans would take some casualties from the assault of three British sections (after lifting the smoke screen by playing a CoC die), the British could ill afford to swap damage. Lt Stuart prudently chose to voluntarily withdraw and leave the field to the Germans.
As with the first battle, a voluntary withdrawal equates to a loss. The British company commander was none too pleased, especially after the initial success in No Man's Land. His opinion of Lt Stuart has wavered slightly (down 1 for a net +1) but not to a degree to which it might affect the next encounter. Lt Stuart remains a generally happy man; this was a minor setback...and his men seem to agree with him (casualties were relatively light).
Coversely, Lt von Schoenenfeld's opinion of himself  has improved though he remains pensive about the future, especially since his men are not too impressed, despite the relatively low body count.
The next game will see the Germans with the initiative, having won Encounter 2. They can choose to counter-attack or await another British assault. If the former, we will use the Probe scenario again with the Germans moving out from Achicourt towards the British lines. If the latter, the British will move against Achocourt again but this time using the Attack/Defend scenario.