Sunday, 19 November 2017

Experimenting with Naval Visuals (1/1200) for The Battle of the Denmark Strait (1941)

Like it says on the tin I was experimenting with a "small tactical sea base" to mount 1/1200 ships on to represent their configuration in a long range naval gunnery duel. First up is the KM Bismarck (see below, as yet no foaming wake or cutting white bow spray):

Is this a more dirty looking "Atlantic green sea" (see below, pulling back the shot to get a full profile):

The German "raiding party" together for Operation Rheinuburg on the circular tactical base (see below, a way of reducing the 20,000' General syndrome is this just another case of wargaming madness?):

The Royal Naval guardians of the Denmark Strait, HMS Hood leading HMS Prince of Wales (see below):

Part of the "cloak and dagger" operation to shadow HMS Suffolk (see below, HMS Norfolk is stil suffering from my reluctance to customise the my duplicate HMS Suffolk into Norfolk, I keep seeing more bits I have to do):

A single ship does seem the more sensible basing (see below, you can see that I envisage putting on counters around the outside of the 360 degrees of the "tactical board". Peoples thoughts honestly appreciated!):

Finally something 'caught inbound' on the "Mighty Hood" (see below, the Bismarck fires eight but two "straddle-splash markers" unaccounted for, something is brewing inside HMS Hood. Also note 'X' and 'Y' turrets are about to 'clear arc'):

More thoughts and experimentation to follow and perhaps even a walk-through war game using the old favourite GQII.

Big Boys .. this is just a simulation (or rather a "painting exercise") .. not the start of a collection.

Tim Gow do not get excited I am NOT going 54mm "that is the way of madness" I was only practising some 'painting techniques' on my son's "big toy soldiers". There is no reason to be alarmed gentlefolk of the jury, this was a "one off", despite a curious feeling of enjoyment in not having to squint so much! (see below, two Airfix Australians, a Star Wars Storm Trooper and a Jedi milling around on the painting tray):

Note: I need to be concentrating on my naval for the Denmark Straits battle, you can see a pot of Tamiya Blue in the background ;)

Friday, 17 November 2017

The Battle of the Denmark Strait: The Gathering of 1/3000 forces from the Loft

Pulled out of their respective Navy Boxes from the loft the "extended" order of battle for the Denmark Strait (see below, Navwar 1/3000 with basic colour schemes and "blue sea" - nothing fancy):

Trusty old warriors that have been in my collection for a long, long time. They were painted back in the days when the "sea was always blue" (and probably from a pot of Tamiya paint pot). The intention is to present the historical battle alongside the hypothetical counterfactual scenarios (HMS Suffolk and Norfolk engage, and if the six destroyers had managed to keep up and were not diverted to cover "if" the Bismarck and Prince Eugen had reversed their tracks).

Here is one somebody has prepared earlier, David Manly's link to his re-fight:

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Letting the youngest DM .. and me being Solo Adventurer!

Having walked the kids through their first D&D adventure I could see the sparkle stay in my youngest's eyes (he's only seven). He so wanted to "play with the toys" I had to let him become the storyteller (DM) and you know what, I think that bright young mind did it far better job than me. I was placed in the precarious situation of being a solo "dungeoneering". "This won't last long" I thought to myself, first monster and he will choose the biggest one in the box (probably the Umber Hulk ... a miniature that has never yet been killed in one of my D&D games)! So there I was walking across the stony floor of a chamber and it was announced that I had encountered a trap. Ooops.  One (failed) skill test later and I was left imprisoned by a falling cage (in true comic book fashion). That was it I thought .. monster meat! However with a benevolent sense of imagination, the monster that appeared was a small mushroom man that befriended me. He (it?) said that it would help me escape as it knew where the special key was for the cage! I then played the mushroom man getting the key from a locked chest. Ingenious. He (or was it, it?) set me free and my new BBF and I explored the next room (see below, we are sneaking around in the background trying not to be seen by a Big Blue Monster and two young hatch-ling Dragons [Red and Blue]):

One unremitting axiom of dungeoneering is that where you find treasure chests you find big ugly monsters. In this case a green one that came from a very old Warhammer starter pack. I didn't manage to catch his name as he bludgeoned me into the ground (three rounds of combat which I all lost) as I was distracted open treasure chest withe the allure of gold inside it (see below, I was left unconscious as my new BBF did a very good "hide in the shadows" which is perhaps what I should have done):

Luckily my mushroom BBF was on the ball to once again come to my rescue. It(?) sneaked away and opened a chest where he knew there was a secret healing potion in that resuscitated me (see below, my seven year old was definitely out dungeoneering me hands down):

Once I was back on my feet Mr Mushroom introduced me to Miss Mushroom (pink hat, I get it) his girlfriend(?) who would help me from here "as it was too dangerous for him to go on". Not only narrative but he ingested the sense of peril into the storytelling. I was impressed (see below):

There we had to leave it until another time. My only chance of survival is to "follow the mushroom" to find a way to safety. I think my youngest is a bit of a groovy hippy at heart ;)

Monday, 13 November 2017

Dungeon Delve with the Dungeons and Dragons Board Game

It's the classic tale. Two adventurers and a DM. Limited resources, one character each, pretty much their first dungeon delve and a whole load of mysterious experiences for these youngsters to come, my two sons. Bravely they lit their torches and pursued the band of Goblins who had captured the local village sheriff . Opening their first dungeon door (I wonder if they will remember this defining event thirty years hence), they surprised the distracted Goblin guard, wounded him and then watched him run off down the corridor to try and alert his friends (same old story at least guard always gets away to warn the others). Fearlessly they decided to push on (see below):

The guard ran to find his friends and this group of three Goblins turned to face the adventurers outnumbering them 3:2. This bravery turned out to be pure folly as the dwarven-magic-user (interesting) and human fighter's ranged bow felled two breaking the Goblin's brittle morale. Were these the serious monsters who overwhelmed the local village. Searching around the two adventurers found a wealth of magical treasure locked in checks (obviously the Goblins were packing up lot ready to move off). With a new found magic sword in hand, two potions of healing and a strange magic scroll (watch this space) the lucky duo passed into the final hall of the adventure. Deftly avoiding some nasty pit-traps (thanks to the dexterity of the fighter-their) they pinned the remaining five Goblins (four normal and the big sub-leaser) into their lair - but no sign of the "sheriff" (see below):

Here the novice dungeon delvers learned first hand of the power of a "sleep" spell. Four out of five of the Goblins were subdued and the fifth slain by the fighter. The remaining four never "woke-up" (the ethical consideration of this I am still pondering as a father .. but they were evil .. perhaps I should have hinted they could have been "tied-up" as prisoners). The adventure part one is over. As the adventurers sift through the treasure chests "lo and behold" they discover a map to where the "sheriff" is being held. This small band of Goblins were but a mere scouting party for something more bigger and sinister!

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Armistice Day: 11:00 am 11/11/1918 Lest We Forget

The "War to End All Wars" ...

Didn't ... but today we remember all the sacrifices.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Tug of war over what is clearly an "Objective Marker"

There seems to be a dispute growing over this precious artefact. Clearly it is a wargame "objective marker", usable across a variety of rule-sets and scales. Very, very versatile.  Purchased for the princely sum of 50p from a charity shop (see below, a bargain):

However my daughter seems to be misinformed .. she erroneously thinks it belongs with her Lego Friends and small miniature animal set and not part of a Malburian battlefield!

Note: Some of those 'small farm animals' have a "better use" than hanging around with dubious looking Lego Friends!

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Interesting US Wargames Research Link on Battles 1939-73

An interesting post from the Simulating War Yahoo Discussion Group posted by bob_david_mackensie (see link to original link below):

The essay based on the US Army analysis can be found directly here:

The original US Army research is here:

Monday, 30 October 2017

Fantasy Board Gaming circa 1978: The Sorcerer's Caves

The 'state of the art' fantasy board game circa 1978. Handy if you have an expanding floor surface to play on (see below): 

In my case the living room carpet was used! (see below):

I eventually roped in my wife and two sons (12 and 7) in to play. My daughter escaped for most of the action by being out with a friend until later in the "dungeon delve". Despite my wife reaching level four of the dungeon and being laden with magical artefacts (something I never achieved in the whole of my D&D role playing career, getting down a flight of steps to level two was a thrill for me - two many combats and too little a sense of discretion), she was put off by being described as a "creature" in the rules [she had fallen into a viper pit and was fighting for her life]. My youngest son was the treasure magnet wandering from cavern to cavern picking up mercenaries and the treasure of Midas. Meanwhile my eldest wandered into The Sorcerer in the first cavern, beat a hasty retreat (I'll give his online gaming experience credit as he new when he was out-classed and made a sensible run for it) then had the misfortune to wander through passageways missing out on the exciting caverns filled with treasure and monsters!

All in all as DM "rule master" I thought it was a hoot.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

1941 The Denmark Strait Project: 1/1200 Prince Eugen "The Consort"

Not quite being able to face the modelling knife dilemma of HMS Norfolk just yet I decided to finish the KM Prince Eugen up to wargaming standard for the table (see below):

I quite like the overall effect and it is nice to finish off a model started a long time ago! Now back to HMS Norfolk!

1941 The Denmark Strait project: 1/1200 HMS Suffolk, "I am the Walrus"

On a "project roll" I painted up the Walrus so I can show stern of HMS Suffolk (see please note the hand painted FAA roundels):

Researching HMS Norfolk I see classic wargamer's dilemma, she is different to HMS Suffolk. I could just paint up the second County Class and let her simply be called HMS Norfolk, but really I should remove the "hanger area aft" and remodel the aft portion of the ship accordingly according to me lovingly collected naval books ... hmmm. Now that "I know" the difference I feel obliged that I "have to have a go"!

Thursday, 26 October 2017

1941 Battle of the Denmark Strait Project: 1/1200 HMS Suffolk gets her Colours (WIP)

Painting update: I managed to undercoat the bare plastic of a 1/1200 County class Airfix RN cruiser black (could not honestly tell you if it was the Suffolk or Norfolk yet) and the started the process of experimenting with paints for the RN colour scheme. The one on the  box cover of the 1/600 Airfix kit looks too pretty for the North At;antic to me. Initially I started with the paints that game with a Revell HMS Kelly/Kipling starter set but these were too shiny (IMHO) so I reverted to my Vallejo Game Colour range, Stonewall Grey and a White and Black for the most part. However I started mixing the two ranges together and liked the results (see below for the current WIP):

Hardly noticeable is the "bit of blue" at the stern of the ship (more photos later). I was 50:50 about the dark grey deck but it is has grown on me. From scanning the Internet I found some interesting links that truly inspired me:

Gawd bless the Internet ;)

Note to self: I still have to do the Walrus reconnaissance plane.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

1941 Battle of the Denmark Strait Project: 1/1200 scale and Fletcher Pratt Rules

Courtesy of the old Airfix "Sink the Bismarck" kits (and the re-release some years back), Revell Mini-Ships (aka KGV) plus a strange eBay acquisition of some "destroyers" I have gathered the ships required for both the 'historical' and 'alternative historical' screening destroyers present battle (see below):

It is just a matter of finishing the started paint jobs. The Prince Eugen is almost completed, HMS Norfolk and HMS Suffolk next then those strange destroyers that look "close enough" to be A-H" class RN destroyers of the period. Note: They are are actually supposed to be Brazilian RN pattern destroyers sold by British shipyards on the export market. I cannot remember the manufacturer!

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Plastic Soldier Company (PSC) A9 Troop (France 1940 Style)

Just to prove I can finish off at least building some kits the other two of the PSC A9 early war (BEF) RTR. I made two of the two pounder variants and one of the 3" Close Support (CS) type (see below): 

Yes I am very happy with them and (at present) resisting the urge to but another packet, although I have teh excuse to make teh Western Desert with sand skirt version ;)

Monday, 23 October 2017

An Old Esci Friend: Pz 35(t) .. Old School Modelling!

By way of comparison and in start contrast to the new "First To Fight" I have pulled out an old friend from circa 1994 and a rare (even in those days) model of the Pz 35(t). I wince now remembering the pain I had putting the running track/wheels together. The track plastic itself was simply awful and broke several times. It needs redoing to say least. Yet still somehow it is an old favourite of mine and I would not part with it (see below):

I promise or rather pledge to redo the track this year!

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Early War Pz 35(t) Bef .. First to fight

In for a penny, in for a pound. While I was in that York model shop I acquired a second First to Fight model. The particularly 'clanky' Pz 35(t) that the German Army acquired via Czechoslovakia in 1938. The 'other' Czech tank is the Pz 38(t) and I have a hoard of them (6) from Fujimi, but the rarer Pz 35(t) is represented by only one old Esci kit. Again the quality is superb, especially since the complicated bogie wheels were a single piece. The Esci kit had literally hundreds of parts by comparison (see below):

I could not resist putting on the Command Variant aerial antenna on the back! My only regret is that I did not buy the second one that was sat next to it on the shelf ;)

Friday, 20 October 2017

Early War Pz IIIE from "First to Fight"

I saw these (Firts to Fight) advertised on the Plastic Soldier Company (PSC) website and thought they looked good but resisted. However the first model shop I visited and picked one up I succumbed By heavens they are good! More pricey (£8 for one model) than ArmourCast but retaining their simplicity with added extra detail worthy of Fujimi and eclipsing Esci. Methinks they would give many a metal manufacturer a good run for their money being plastic injection and a lot cleaner on the "flash" side of things (see below a beautiful Pz IIIE):

The only thing that puzzled me was a minor piece of detail on the left side if the hull. Something ever so small but a curious details. The instructions on the back didn't quite show it in the detail my old eyes needed. However the link below (of one done in Blue Peter fashion by another) showed me where it should go (and Murphy's Law meant that I had done it wrong, not that anyone would notice, bar a rivet counter).

See you in its "full glory" here:

A welcome addition to my early war panzer collection!

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Time to undercoat the WW2 French I have been keeping in the loft!

Sometimes one is spurred into action by the "use it or lose it" paradigm. Or put another way when your kids, with one particularly talented "crafty" young lady in mind, discovers your "undercoat spray can collection" and decides to have fun with it. Better had use the rest up quick before is disappears literally into "thick air". Hence the beautifully sculpted FAA WW2 (when they were based in the UK) French from 1998 or thereabouts finally get undercoated (see below):

About time too! More remedial action should follow before my spray paint stash is raided again!

Monday, 16 October 2017

War of Spanish Succession: 28mm Eye Candy

Travelling across to my friends in nearby Redcar I dropped into see the final stages of a board game of the War of the Spanish Succession (Note to self: Must fill in the missing blank of the games actual name when I next get across). Over the summer they have hosted a campaign by which battles from the strategic board game were transferred to the tabletop instead of rolling dice on a Combat Results Table (CRT). At this point Marlborough had gone home (or had been bribed, discuss) and the Dutch and French were frittering about trying to take a few Victory Point (VP) last towns before "winter quarters". This is pure co-incidence for me and my current Marlburian interest, as they are doing it in 28mm myself in 15mm with as of yet no painted figures. I was greeted with the fine sight of infantry brigades manoeuvring into position and the charge of cavalry squadrons in the distance (see below):

I was given a flank command of cavalry which seemed to be there purely to attract the attention of cannon balls away from the pretty infantry brigade in the previous picture. To which I accomplished great feats losing my dragoons in short order (in my defence by the time I got them they were about "gone" from the previous game session). If my memory served me correctly I was French (see below, some finely painted 28mm horse):

As per my dragoons I had to leave early. One observation from the rules (Lilly Banner) was that they must have played about half a dozen fairly large games yet still the basics were being talked about and walked through. True there was a fair rotation in players but the "leaders" had been consistent throughout and this struck me as a curious position to be in. In this session it was the mechanics of working out a basic charge and counter-charge. The side being the more 'pedantic' (in this case French, though I may add nothing to do with me as it was at the other end of the table) got for their efforts being "caught at the standstill" which I thought was a well-deserved ire of their own making. At least everyone will now be more familiar with the cavalry charge process due to this dramatic result.


Thursday, 12 October 2017

Cold War Flash Back 1970-90 (1:300 Micro Tanks) Soviet MR XX Project Tank III (WIP)

I happened in the loft upon an old collection of 1/300 modern micro armour. A project the better part of three quarters the way through making the order of battle for a Soviet, circa 1980's. Motor Rifle Division. The BMP and 2 x BTR regiments were all made, the next step being the organic Tank Regiment for the Division. The current state of affairs of the OrBat of stands to be completed is shown (see below, 21 stands waiting for tanks and odds and sods to fill in):

A little tender loving care (TLC) was applied to the basic brown, along with labelling the units in standard Spearhead fashion at the back of the base (see below): 

The missing stands in the above picture required a basic brown spray undercoat of "brown" to seal them (see below):

Sadly I don't think they match the original batch so I will have to lighten the base with an old fashioned brush (see below):

Next: Time to root out the silver legions of "micro tanks" to populated the bases!

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Er, "Psst ... wanna free Space Marine or four?" ... OK

While entering a Comic Book Store I was propositioned with a friendly smile and a "Would you like some FREE Space Marines." Old style, but the only thing it cost me is "dignity and my time" (see below, a quick glue and they are lurking at the back of the painting tray")

How did I get from the WoSS to here?

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Necrons ... Just because they looked GOOD being so BAD!

Sometimes I cannot help myself or should that read most of the time? It is that SHINY feeling. I do not actively play GW 40K but I do like the Necrons, Tau and Tyranids models .. and come to think of it (some of the) Adeptus Mechanicus "robotic men". And somehow I have a large collection (well large to my mind when I didn't expect to have any at all) of those things called "Space Marines"  .. you might of heard of them. So when I saw these particular Necrons I immediately failed my Wisdom check for "scary robots of death" (see below, cash exchanged hands .. same old story):

Killer Death Robot (Style A) #1:

Killer Death Robot (Type B) #2:

Killer Death Robot (Type A again) #3:

Killer Death Robot (Type B again) #4:

Killer Death Robot (Type A again, again .. my favourite style) #5:

As per my usual attitude to GW kits, I just stick things together for aesthetics rather than their corpus or rule sets (limited eBat resell perhaps but that is not what I got it for). Here I broke their pedantic rules with glee mixing weapons from the wrong types of figures .. cast me into the pit of shame, I dare you ;)

They don't care they anymore they got my money. I should really move over to the Kick Starters, bigger bucks but you get the benefit of a bulk buy! 

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

The War of the Spanish Succession: The Battle of Oudenarde July 11th 1708 (Part 7) All Good Things Come to an End

The Hanoverian infantry faced-off against the French rearguard. Pressing the French "too hard" meant that the French artillery would strike with deadly effect so an impasse was in effect (see below):

So gradually the French rearguard trickled away as the Allies marched forward in an orderly fashion, wary of a potential French counter stroke and content in squeezing the French back over the river. Inevitably the disordered French in retreat were faster than the Allies in steady advance, however the detritus of war that was left on the battlefield indicated how many of the French soldiers were shedding their valuable equipment in pure flight (see below):

One final cavalry skirmish was sufficient to remove the remnants of the French cavalry regiments from the field leaving only a gaggle on infantry on the wrong side of the river (see below):

Alas one French Line regiment was caught between desperate fires. Its situation was clearly hopeless. It had formed square because of cavalry threat and was thus immobile, but then saw solid lines of Prussian infantry advancing on it readying their muskets, just outside of range. They felt too that the eyes of the recently unlimbered Allied artillery was on them, it was going to be a brutal end. With Bourbon colours flying they awaited the onslaught, resolute to die as fighting men of France for their King Louis XIV (see below):

However an Allied commander stepped forth and called a halt to proceedings. The game was over and he could not bear to see brave soldiers of his former country be slaughtered for no reason. Prince Eugen sent forth a parley (see below):

An Aide de Camp (ADC) spoke to the French Colonel of Foot:

"Sirs, Prince Eugen has seen your bravery and declares that you are the bravest French regiment on the field of battle today, for when all else were fleeing you stood. Lesser men have escaped. You have given them time to do so. For this he salutes you as you have performed a soldiers job well. Indeed he sees that you were willing to pay with your lives.Your colours are steady and have you conducted yourselves in the proud traditions of the French army. Prince Eugen and his staff salute you."

There was a pause and the ADC continued:

"Price Eugen on behalf of the Allied Command offers you terms. He personally guaranteed your safety if you lower your flag and avoid senseless bloodshed. You are offered honours and your men will be the first in prisoner exchange and parole. Your colours will not be taken from you. What say you?"

The Colonel of Foot bows and the colours were lowered. The men let out a sigh of relief for this unexpected salvation. The men were formed into columns, their muskets are shouldered but upside down, a bullet in the mouth however they walk to captivity (see below):

Night falls on a convincing Allied victory. Marlborough and Eugen consult in yet another 'council of war' for the next day brings yet more trials of strength. The war goes on!

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

The War of the Spanish Succession: The Battle of Oudenarde July 11th 1708 (Part 6) Cry Havoc!

The view from the French side of the hill. The panorama is becoming rather disturbing to the French command as their troops are being hemmed in by the geography of the battlefield and their two brigades of infantry are now facing four deployed brigades of the Allies. The question is even if the French want to deploy more troops where can they fit them in? They need to push forwards with all haste to create some breathing space (see below): 

From Marlborough's and Prince Eugene's perspective although the Allies are fully deployed the fight is far from over. The Allies need to press forwards and break the last line of French and Bavarian resistance or the French will have time to fully deploy their reserves (see below):

At this point the Allies face a new moment of crisis as the guns of the French from across the river find the range of the most advanced Prussians forming the final part of the "closed gate". The Prussians panicked and retired, flinching at the fire. If the enemy had been near it would have been a rout. As it was it was an ungainly display of mob rule. As it was the "gap" was serious enough. Thankfully (for the Allies) the last Prussian cavalry arrived in force to plug the gap (see below):

Meanwhile the British infantry started once again on their remorseless advance, John Churchill with them every step of the way, picking his way through the corpse strewn field being an inspiration to his troops. Then with an impressive display of ordered musketry the British infantry disordered the French battalions facing them (see below): 

The French line was shattered and turned tail and fled, causing havoc (disordering) amongst the Bavarian infantry behind who in turn were swept away (umpire's ruling). The crisis was now turned on the French as their infantry flank melted away (see below):

To the north a flood of fresh Prussian cavalry engulfed the last remaining fresh French cavalry regiment. All that remained to stop the Allies now were composite squadrons of tired French horse and a few, although still fresh, compacted battalions of infantry (see below):

Seeing the debacle unfold the French troops still north of the river yet to cross were ordered by their officers to halt. The troops already across were promptly about faced and retired. The French army was in full retreat and needed a stiff rearguard action to avoid complete destruction (see below):

A sight for Queen Anne! The mass of Allied infantry advancing, some four lines deep was an awe inspiring sight, but put the fear of God into the French rearguard troops that had to face them (see below, Hanoverian's and Prussians, the British are out of the picture to the left):

Next: Closing Time