Sunday, 18 December 2016

Poland 1939: Action near Dukla Pass After Action Report

Below is a video of the section level game I played solo using a modified version of Operation Squad: Evolution. The briefing is here. The basic Operation Squad mechanics were used with only the addition of card driven activations to make the game more solo friendly. 

After a faltering attempt at forming a base of fire, the Gebirsjäger MG34 team and a supporting team were mauled by Polish resistance. After seeing four of his man fall, Obergefreiter Martin Reiter decided to call it a day and withdraw until heavier force could be applied to the farm and dislodge the Poles. 

Reiter lost four men permanently, lost or missing, and three will sit out the next battle. In addition, he lost his MG34 in the retreat. There isn't a replacement for now. 

Plutonowy Andriy Kohut is the man of the hour, the hero of Dukla Pass. As the Germans retreated he and his men withdrew from the farm, as the German advance has overwhelmed the Polish resistance in other sectors. Father Marius of the church in Barwinek has approached Kohut's platoon commander and begged him to help recover the relics of a local saint that were stolen by the advancing Germans. 

All of this was generated using a combination of Platoon Forward and At the Sharp End by the TooFatLardies, and sets us up for next scenario, where the Poles will be launching an attack of their own!

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Review: Warlord Games Polish Infantry Squad in Greatcoats

Here are my thoughts on my latest purchase from Warlord Games. TLDR version: underwhelming. 

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Warfare 2016

I haven't been to a wargaming show in over a decade and that was Warfare. When my wife found out about this, she was mortified. The topic had come up as I was flicking through a magazine advertising Warfare, the show in Reading. So, this morning she suggested we hop in the motor and drive an hour to Reading for the show. 

I paid £5 to get in, and the lovely chap on the door let Lady K in for free on account of her non-wargamer status. We made a little donation to the Sue Ryder hospice and bought some raffle tickets with the money saved. 

I had thought about what I wanted from the show, I knew this wasn't going to be a no-holds-barred spend-a-thon, so I had only brought £50 with me. This had to pay for everything, including entrance and toys. At this point I had £40 left, and by the end of our visit, I was still £10 up! So I had limited myself severely. 

That said, I walked away with a fair haul. My only real aim was to pick up some resin haystacks from Warbases, one of my favourite companies. I also wanted to have a look at some of their animals to live alongside my Warlord Games farmyard critters. 

I ended up with 5 small haystacks, 5 large haystacks, and a heap of bases. One can never have enough of those. I also picked up a bag of their 25.6mm off-cut bases. These are the holes that they cut into their movement trays for 25mm round bases. I got these because they would work neatly for civilians or the odd animal. I also got some geese, chickens, and floating ducks. 

I had also wandered around having a look at some of those things that the internet just doesn't do justice to. One of those was Baccus 6mm. I have seen 6mm a million times on my computer screen, but never in person. Today myself and Lady K stood marvelling at the tiny little blighters. I have been keen to use the scale, or 10mm, for things like the Franco-Prussian war, but 6mm is tiny and I can't imagine painting them. Still, at least I have them in my mind as actual size now. 

So Pendraken and Baccus were must visits for me, to get a sense of size. I also wanted to check out Redoubt who have the unfortunate knack of not putting decent photos of their wares on their website. I particularly wanted to see their Trojans. They are amazing, as are their Boxer Rebellion miniatures. So rather than a shopping trip my Warfare ended up being a feast for the eyes. I did pick up some more animals from Redoubt, pigs, sheep and waddling ducks. My farmyard grows! 

Redoubt Boxer Rebellion miniatures.

Redoubt Trojans.
Redoubt canoes, I really liked these.
One really great find was Parkfield Miniatures. I have never heard of these guys before, but they do an interesting range. I was particularly drawn to their South American Wars of Independence, great for Sharp Practice I can imagine. 

We had a good look around the demo hall, where I came across this Napoleon in Egypt table that was simply smashing. Such an odd thing to game, but so well done. Look at those boats! Of course, there were loads of really amazing things, such as the winter table of Foy, but I am sure that better men than I will share that with the community. It was beautiful. Here are some shots of that Napoleon in Egypt table.

Mine and Lady K's favourite demo game was the Balkan War table run by Graham of Tring Wargames Club. Lady K is a Greek, so for her this was personal, and she loved the evzones and kleftes running across the table at the Turks. It really made her day and we stood there for around half-an-hour chatting to Graham and company. I was particularly interested in how he had modified Chain of Command from TooFatLardies to suit the conflict.

Graham was a really great chap and spent much time explaining how he had got to his final product. He has promised to email me his lists for Chain of Command.  

The miniatures used by the Tring game are all Tiger Miniatures. Now, I have looked at these in the past, Lady K insists that I wargame Greek conflicts. Poor me. The website really doesn't do these figures justice. They are brimming with character and with a good paint job look most excellent on the table. 

One of the really good things about this conflict on the table is that the limitation to bolt action rifles, medium machine guns, and field guns. Graham explained that this simplicity in the "moving parts" of the conflict make it a joy to game. And I tend to agree. One to watch.

Overall, I really enjoyed Warfare, and I certainly think that wargaming shows are worth visiting, I just don't do it often enough. Time to go and paint now. 

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Mustering Forces: A Lick of Paint

The next phase of the muster has commenced. Yesterday they got their bases sanded, and today they got their under coat. I decided that I am going to pop the MG34 team on a lozenge base like the prone figures, but I didn't have any to hand. I have ordered some from Warlord Games which should be here soon. Progress!

Friday, 4 November 2016

Mustering Forces: A Hobby Update

I got back from Greece on Sunday night and immediately set about mustering the forces for my Dukla Pass scenario. I have all the assets for both sides, I just needed to get it assembled and painted. So yesterday I broke out my box of 28mm World War II stuff from the Oorlogskuur (The War Shed) and got out the Gebirgsjäger I needed, plus all the potential Polish forces that might appear in the scenario. Glue and the Xacto knife were wielded and in no time I had this box full of miniatures ready for basing.

Apologies for the poor picture. A quick list of what inside.

Germans: A kfz. 13 Adler armoured car, eight riflemen, an MG34 team, an Obergefreiter.

Polish: Ursus armoured car, ten greatcoated Polish infantry, light and medium mortar teams, MMG team, anti-tank gun, sniper team and anti-tank rifle team. 

A fair bit indeed. The next step is to base the lot, and then undercoat.

I figured, while I was at it, I might as well get some of my 15mm stuff assembled too. This time Finnish and Soviet vehicles for a Chain of Command scenario idea I have. 

Again, not a great photo, but I wanted to show that I had done something. Some Soviet armoured cars and armour, which was used by both sides. There is also a Finnish Vickers 6-ton. I am going to do most of this in Finnish livery, but the twin turret T-26 and one BA-6 and one BA-20 for Soviets. These chaps will get their undercoat at the same time as the 28mm stuff. Hopefully I will be able to get my scenario played soon enough. 

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Poland 1939: Action near Dukla Pass Briefing

I was eager to try out the Operation Squad rules that I had purchased some time ago for small 28mm squad based action. I decided that the best run out the game could get would be a scenario based on the opening hours of the German invasion of Poland.

Dukla Pass, Polish-Slovakian Border, 1st of September 1939.

The Situation:

The German "liberation" of Silesia and Posen has begun. While the bulk of German forces sweep away the Poles in the west, the First Gebirgsjäger Division has left its staging points in the Carpathian Mountains of Slovakia and descended upon Galicia. The initial goal is to clear the villages on the Polish-Slovakian border and thereby secure the right flank of the German advance eastwards. 

German forces are pushing north into Poland through the Dukla Pass, to capture the village of Barwinek, before pushing further on to take Tylawa. A company of Gebrigsjäger has just stepped off and is shadowing the road north, clearing the forests on either side. The area is heavily wooded before turning into farmland. 

Although Polish forces haven't fully mobilised, local resistance is expected. Polish reservists are arming and are en route to their depots to resist the invasion. German forces cannot allow the Poles to withdraw in good order and  consolidate, and so Army Group South is pursuing with all haste to keep the enemy on the run.

A German platoon has come across a small outlying farmstead to the south-west of Barwinek and Leutenant Krantz has charged Obergefreiter Reiter of 2nd section to recce and clear this small collection of buildings of any Polish opposition.

The area south of Barwinek, Poland ©

Scenario Details:

This scenario was created by combining Scenario K (Reconnaissance) from Platoon Forward, and Scenario 8: Recon from Operation Squad Evolution. This action was played solo.

As an objective I rolled :"Is that village or key building occupied?" The building is a Polish farmhouse, which forms the focal point of the 4' x 4' playing area. I generated the terrain using Platoon Forward and produced this vector graphic map as a guide on how to set up my terrain.

A simple plan on how the terrain should be set up,
with the German axis of advance shown.

Dramatis Personae:

Obergefreiter Martin Reiter
Martin is a veteran of the Great War, and at 40 years-old one of the senior men in the platoon. He is originally from Posen (Poznan), but when the border shifted at the end of the last war he decided to move west into the new Germany. For him the Polish campaign is personal. Martin's primary qualification for his rank is his earlier service, which is unfortunate as he is a pretty inept section commander. He has a drinking problem, but the upside (if there is one) is that it serves to level his temperament somewhat in the face of the enemy.

Plutonowy Andriy Kohut
Andriy is a 25 year-old ethnic Ukrainian, native to Galicia. From farming stock, he believes that in the new Poland, hard work and determination does pay off and it is clear that money is a priority. He is a cheery, optimistic fellow, with a level head and does a solid job of commanding his section. 

Force Assets:

Obergefreiter Martin Reiter
MG34 Team (3 pax)
One Rifle Team (8 pax)

Plutonowy Andriy Kohut
Polish strength is undetermined, but infantry can be expected. Vehicles and heavier assets are highly unlikely. (Essentially, I will generate these forces as the scenario unfolds using the Platoon Forward rules. Not all blinds will necessarily materialise.)

5 A blinds (squads are either BAR teams, rifle section, or armed civilians)
2 B blinds (AT Rifle, MMG, or Mortar teams)
1 C blind (Tank, Truck, or Armoured Car)

The small scale of this action means that both sides can be very flexible with their ORBAT and create fire teams or break off individuals as required.

Battle report to follow...

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Review: Lost Patrol - Part 1

My initial thoughts on this rather splendid looking game. More to come once I have taken it for a spin a few times. 

Where has the summer gone?

My last post was in July. The reason for this quiet spell is simple, I went to California to get married to the lovely Lady K, and as a result have done nothing wargaming related in the interim. So what follows is a short of "What I did on my holidays" post, and then some thoughts on wargaming plans going forward, I hope this isn't dreadfully dull.

Once school was over in July, I flew over to Bakersfield, California and began preparing for the wedding. Family members and friends started arriving a little before the big day. The first arrival was my favourite cousin who lives in Australia, she treated me to my first ever NFL game. It was a preseason match between the Los Angeles Rams and Dallas Cowboys. She is a Cowboys fans, hence our t-shirts. I am more of a rugby man, but being at the first game the Rams played after moving back to Los Angeles was something special. Additionally, the game finished in spectacular fashion with the Rams clinching it in the dying seconds. I would definitely go again.

We were only four rows back!

The Memorial Coliseum is worth visiting any time. 
We then headed up North to San Francisco, to meet my then future brother-in-law, who is a massive San Francisco Giants fan. He arranged for us to go and see the Giants play the Pirates at AT&T Park. After the intense excitement of an NFL game I worried that a sedate baseball match might prove a little dull in comparison. However, I was happily proven wrong and I thoroughly enjoyed my first encounter with "the national pastime." Between hot dogs, "Take me out to the ball game", and "rally caps", it was a fantastic evening out. As a lover of cricket, baseball isn't too far from my chosen sport, but different enough to be interesting in its own right. 

My dear friend Lydia has flown into San Francisco and came to AT&T Park directly from the airport to meet us. After the game we set off for Stockton where we crashed for the night before moving to Yosemite National Park. Now anyone who has ever used a Mac will be familiar with the vistas of Yosemite, they are often used by Apple as desktop backgrounds, but nothing can prepare you for the true scale of it all. 

"There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, the groves of the giant sequoias and redwoods." - Theodore Roosevelt
After this bachelor party getaway, we headed back south to Bakersfield for the wedding. Still more foreigners with thick South African accents descended upon the city and met with the raucous hordes of Greeks and Arabs of the local Orthodox Christian community as it was all hands on deck to make the arrangements for the big day. 

In our jam-packed little church I got married to the lovely Lady K, whose father married us. As with most of these sorts of things it is a blur, and the very next day we headed off to Los Angeles to fly to Vancouver for our honeymoon. Vancouver airport is absolutely amazing, and the city didn't disappoint either. We spent the next week going on Zodiac rides, going to various waterfalls and I even managed to haul myself up Grouse Mountain one morning early.

After an early morning Grouse climb, I enjoyed a coffee in the early morning chill before all the cable cars brought the hordes of tourists up. 

Awesome views from the top, and the cable car ride down was stunning.
 I would definitively visit Canada again, I think that Vancouver is a perfect destination for outdoorsy type people and I thoroughly enjoyed walking and running in the various city and national parks. Sadly we didn't have long for our honeymoon and head to head back to Britain because I started my new teaching job in London. However, before we did leave, I managed to get a picture of the world's largest tin soldier in New Westminster.

Lady K is smiling because, thankfully, none of my "toy soldiers" are this big.
That is all for now gentle reader, I am afraid I am very much still in the "adjusting to the horrific London commute" phase of the new job, and haven't even looked at my miniatures since arriving back from North America. 

Friday, 8 July 2016

Some French Line Infantry Completed

I finished these fourteen line troops recently. They had been sat just awaiting basing, which has now been done.

As you can see, three bases of four, which are nominally "companies," plus a couple of skirmishing Voltigeur. I'll need another box of those fine Perry French plastics to round out my 24 man battalion. With another box I should get this battalion up to full strength of six companies/bases and then complete another battalion too.

Gains. Small, but nevertheless there.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Some 40k Progress

Behold! A completed 40k miniature!

I finished this scout over a short while, no major effort really.

I was inspired to play my new Lost Patrol game, and rather than paint the plastic minis in the box, figured that I could use my Dark Angels scouts instead.

Next up is a Heavy Bolter wielding chap.

Beginning of a US Infantry Platoon

I completed my first lot of US Infantry today. These fine fighting fellows were bought for me by the lovely Lady K, and so I have enjoyed painting them up and sharing the experience with her. 

I am building my platoon to the guidelines in I Ain't Been Shot Mum, so three squads of ten men. These squads are made of two big bases with four men each, plus a small base with two men. As you can see I am a little shy of the full platoon at the moment, the six two man bases are on the desk and getting attention. Once done, I will do a proper shoot of the whole platoon.  

I like the way they troops look and I am pleased with the basing scheme. These chaps will eventually land in Sicily and fight their way through Italy. Of course opposition will need to be purchased, but this project is not very high on the priority list and painting these figures is more a labour of love for me. 

Heer and Gebirgsjäger Paint Scheme Tests

The painting bureau is currently covered in a whole bunch of Poles and progress is good. I have almost completed the figures required for the Operation Squad game I have planned. The Poles will, however, need an opponent. To that end I have started thinking about the Germans. 

Now, I have never painted German infantry before, so this is new territory for me. That said, of all the belligerent nations of World War II the forces of the Third Reich are well provisioned with painting guides and I have saved myself from the insanity of painting awesome looking, but suicide inducing, German camouflage! 

Luckily the Early War German army has a sharp and simple colour scheme that shouldn't prove too time intensive. The most useful resource in this instance was from the Flames of War website, who have this rather handy pictorial guide:

Copyright Battlefront
I decided to do one Gebirgsjäger trooper (a Black Tree Design figure) and one regular Heer infantryman (from Crusader Miniatures). The Crusader fellow is a tad taller and bulkier than the Black Tree fellow, but they seem happy enough alongside each other. 

The Heer chap is sporting the standard tunic, while the mountaineer is wearing his reversible anorak. This was white on one side and grey on the other. The cool thing about the Gebirgsjäger is the variety of their uniforms. They are quite an "ally" outfit, as the photos below attest:

During the research phase for this project I spent an awful lot of time trawling for photos or drawings of German mountain troops. And I found a few colourised ones. The one above is from the Caucasus, so after Barbarossa was launched.

The photo below is from Austria in 1939. It is clear that these chaps weren't much for regulation kit, and I love the way that colours change almost randomly. 

The drawing below is a helpful painting aid for the wargamer keen to field Gebirgsjäger

Additionally, I used this fine little volume to help me along.

Using all the information I had gathered I had a go at painting both the miniatures and ended up with this:

The photos aren't that great, just some quick snaps on my iPhone, but I think it get across the idea of the uniform. I am quite pleased with the results, although the basing isn't done yet. Once they are complete I will drag out the lightbox and take some better pictures. 

I will cover my method in a separate post later, but in simple terms I simply blocked the colours, then washed with black ink, followed by a highlight. I did a little lighter highlight on the green of the collar, helmet, and gas mask canister. I also realise that I haven't highlight the black yet, but that is just a case of completion really. For the purposes of a test model I am quite happy with the results I have achieved. 

I have decided to stick to do the bases of my Germans similar to those of the Poles, though I think the Gebirgsjäger will likely be a little more rural. As usual, the author is grateful for the opinions of readers.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Review: Agema Miniatures Velites

I purchased this plastic boxed set some time ago from Northstar, during one of their sales no doubt.

Having painted up a pair of miniatures I thought I would share my thoughts on these figures. YouTube video below:

Here are some pictures of the painted miniatures for the record. Apologies for not light-boxing it.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Operation Squad Opposing Forces

Further to my last post, I have been looking to put together my two forces for Operation Squad Evolution: Germans and Poles for the September 1939 campaign. The rulebook contains lists for American, German, Soviet, and British forces, while additional lists are available from Massimo Torriani's website for free. The PDF is a must have, since it has the lists for the minor nations and some more lists for those nations already covered in the main rulebook. 

The rule set has suggested force compositions, although my personal tastes lean towards ignoring these in favour of the requirements of the scenario. Additionally, there is a points system, which again, is entirely optional to my mind. I think that knowing the point system might be interesting regardless of whether it forms part of the list building exercise. Who knows, perhaps it might give us some insight into balance within a scenario?

First up is the basic German Heer squad of 1939. This section is led by a Obergefreiter. I also decided to upgrade the spare rifleman from the LMG team to a Gefreiter to give the section a little low-level leadership, after all, someone has to square the lads away and get the ammo state for the section commander! Ranks in brackets are the ones used in the rules, the actual ranks are provided by me.

German Heer SquadTotal points:530
Obergefreiter (Sergeant)Kar98k, Stg39 grenades60
LMG Team
Gefreiter (Corporal)Kar98k, Stg39 grenades60
MG34 GunnerMG 34 LMG, Stg 39 grenades90
2 AssistantsKar98k, Stg39 grenades80
Rifle Team
8 RiflemenKar98k, Stg39 grenades240

As you can see this minimal section comes in at 530 points. I didn't adjust any of the points values, even though I downgraded the Obergefreiter and Gefreiter to Kar98k rifles from the MP40 sub-machine guns they automatically come with. This section is made up of thirteen men. 

Next up we will consider the Polish squad I want to put together which is essentially a Chain of Command Polish section. Again, ranks in brackets are the ones used in the rules, the actual ranks are provided by me.

Polish Rifle SquadTotal points:660
Plutonowy (Sergeant)Kb wz98a rifle, wz33 grenades50
BAR Team
BAR GunnerKm wz28 automatic rifle, wz33 grenades60
3 RiflemenKb wz98a rifle, wz33 grenades90
Rifle Team
2 Kaprali (Corporals)Kb wz98a rifle, wz33 grenades100
12 RiflemenKb wz98a rifle, wz33 grenades360

The larger size of the squad means that it is slightly heftier in points. The partial mobilisation and chaos of the Polish army at the beginning of September 1939 means that fielding a Polish section understrength seems quite reasonable. The Polish list provided by the rules authors also lists Polish riflemen in "sections" of three. I gave two men in the Rifle Team a field promotion to the rank of Kapral, a sort of Lance Jack position analogous to the Gefreiter above. 

The next step would be to paint up these figures and generate a suitable scenario for them to engage in, but more on that later.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Movement on the Polish Front

I've been quietly working on more Polish infantry, reading more and more about the September 1939 campaign, and generally working myself up into a frenzy as my imagination thinks of different scenarios that I will be able to play once my miniatures are painted.

There is, however, a problem. As I have said before, I intend to play platoon level actions using Chain of Command from TooFatLardies, but a quick perusal of the Polish list reveals the large size of the Polish section. 

With a section strength of 19 men, and three sections, a platoon of Polish infantry comes in at 57 men, plus an additional headquarters element of 7, bringing the total up to 64. 

In contrast, a German platoon of the same campaign has 13 men per section, three sections, with a single officer. 40 men in total. The problem is that I am far from my minimum requirement for a full Polish platoon, in fact, I haven't made it to one Rifle Team yet! This doesn't pose a huge problem, since platoons are seldom at full strength in the field as campaign attrition sets in, but with less than one section Chain of Command looks very far off indeed. 

But then it struck me, why not play section level combats? The scale would essentially be that of a firefight, with each soldier operating independently or in pairs. Patrol size. To that end I dug up my copy of Operation Squad: Evolution that promises squad level actions. Having read through the rules, they seem to fit the bill for what I have in mind. Pairs or individuals operating on a dynamic battlefield, about 4' by 4' in size. The rules themselves are relatively generic in terms of weapon statistics and troop quality isn't a complex matrix of variables, so tinkering shouldn't prove too difficult. 

In order to get playing, I am intending to use these rules, two small section sized forces, and the excellent Platoon Forward! campaign rules by Joseph Legan, from TooFatLardies. Mr. Legan's rules are a treasure trove for the solo wargamer, and are rules agnostic.

There comes a point at which one really just wants to play with one's toys... I fear I am there now.