Saturday, 31 May 2014

WW1 Dogfighting

There is something special about the early aviators that appeals to me - possibly because for the first time in millennia the protagonists did not have a model to work from, they had to create everything, machines, doctrines, tactics, organisations, everything from scratch. That hasn't happened since we got on horseback, and probably wont happen again until we end up fighting in space.

I've always like WW1 Dogfight games, but I've never really found one I feel gets it right. I've played 1:72 scale with planed on sticks and 1:300 scale without, and board games and even books with numbered pages, and to be honest there was always two main issues - ok three, Altitude, Orders, and sticking the b*stards together.

So in order
You really need altitude - without it you are playing with strange ships
Orders - Trying to work out just how many degrees I'm planning to turn my plane on turning circle F at whatever speed was too much - combined with everything being on sticks that toppled over (see altitude) and resulted in breaking the models....
Sticking them together. 1:72 Plastics were ok, but broke if you looked at them the wrong way, and the metal stuff from Skytrex was a nightmare to put together, usually looked naff, needed painting and also could snap or bend at the wrong moment.

Then came Wings of War from an Italian board game company Nexus. They had an interesting table top game using cards to represent planes that had gathered a bit of a niche market.

- damned innovative and works really well. Nexus then brought out a "Deluxe" version with the cards representing the planes replaced with pre painted (because board gamers don't paint things) and pre assembled (ditto) 1:144 scale models.

WW1 air wargame buffs around the world went into paroxysms of joy at the sight of these. They were beautiful and pretty darned wonderful in every way, so we bought them to use with our Canvas Eagles or Paragon or whichever rules we were playing - nice models, pre assembled and painted, simple order system - great. I suspect we tend to forget that when they first were released they were not expensive either - you could pick the fighters up for a fiver, which was only a couple of quid more than the Skytrex versions and they were (are) massively superior. I remember watching some guys playing late into the night at Bovvy when they first came out, and next day I was out hunting for the rules and some planes. Having bought the rules, we played them, and found they were elegantly simple and play smoothly without too much dice rolling and no charts, turning circles or big telescoping poles for stands - so many of us dumped our rules and moved to WoW.

Problem is Wings of War (or Wings of Glory as is is now known) still has a few problems. It does altitude using a bit of a fix, and it is monstrously unforgiving as far as pilot survival goes so campaigns can sometimes be tense and short lived (which is I suppose a reflection of the real thing). The other issue is that it really isn't fish nor fowl. The game originated as a card game , and the beautifully painted and detailed models are actually game markers not wargaming models. I can hear heads scratching all over, so I think I need to explain a bit. Nexus wanted to produce some nice models that matched their boxed sets, not a historical slice of WW1 in the air. In that light, why would anyone want 4 of the same model? Surely they want one each so they all have a different marker? The first release of the Deluxe sold like hot cakes, so they followed it up with some single plane boxes that were different paint schemes of the original four in the box - no problem there. The Series 2 models followed, but these were two late war fighters, a DH4 late war 2 seater and a Roland CII from the early - mid war period. No problem to a casual gamer but to anyone with a wargaming \ historical perspective a bit of a blind alley. What's more, they followed the same process the card games had done, spreading the models widely by nationality, so one of the DH4s was in American colours. This continued with following releases, an SE5 in US colours FFS! and an RE8 in Belgian colours. This last one is a particular gripe of mine as the Belgians did use a fair few RE8s but replaced the engines with a Hispano Suiza which looks totally different to the model. What's worse, they (Nexus) seem to have known, but rather than choosing another version they simply removed the two upright exhausts from the RAF version, leaving a model which is neither one thing nor another. All that being said, they've gone through a couple of facelifts and some slips, but Wings of War - or Wings of Glory as they are now known, are very much top dog in the WW1 Dogfighting world.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Maintaining Balance in the Lead Mountain

Not much happening at the moment, other than in an attempt to clear some space and raise some ££ I've decided to divest myself of some underused assets by flogging them on ebay.

The two main "victims" are my 15mm Austrian Army for 1866

And some nice 15mm Modern Brits

I'm letting them go with heavy heart but the sad truth has dawned. I only have a limited amount of gaming options, and stuff gathering dust and taking up storage space in the "Man Cave" isn't productive. I got to use the Austrians twice in ten years IIRC, so maybe it is time for someone else to get some pleasure out of them.  
On the other hand while I was putting them on ebay I spotted some nice Thracians going cheap which I picked up - Hey Ho!

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Stuck in Traffic (4)

So having got the cars about ready all that was left was to finish off and get them stuck down. I mentioned earlier that burned out cars have no tyres, just rims. I couldn't do much about this with the cheap plastic toys I have - or rather it simply wasn't worth the effort, so I took my trusty side clippers and chopped the tyres flush with the bottom of the chassis. The bits jumped all over and I'm sure they will cause havoc with the hoover at some point.

I think I mentioned that the undersides were not very detailed.I wanted to put a couple upside down in true Hollywood fashion, so I added a few bits of detailing to suggest the underside from scraps on three cars

Lastly everything got hot glued down, and a quick coat of spray matt varnish will hopefully sort out any glints and shiney bits.

So all done - at least for now. When I get around to converting my buildings to overgrown ones I will give some of the cars the same treatment. I'll also maybe place some "crud" around them to indicate they burned out - see the pic of the burned car earlier.

On the whole I'm ok with how they turned out, and they give me something to hide behind when the RPGs and \ or plasma cannons start to fire :-)

Stuck in Traffic (3) Choose your Apocalypse

Back to the burned out cars for 10/12mm modern and sci fi games.

Time to get some paint on them. At this point you really need to think about what caused your wrecks to be wrecks, and how long ago.

Burned out cars are almost white due to the ash.The windows pretty much always fall out and the tyres burn away to the rims.

Cars that have just been abandoned and have rusted tend to be, well, rusty, with suggestions of original colour here and there. Sometimes the windows remain, but the tyres are usually flat.

I'm trying to suggest the cars were burned out a long time ago and have now rusted, so I'm going for a rusty pink overall. Firstly I gave them all a very rough coat of flat brown

Then I followed it  up with a couple of equally rough drybrushes with lighter browns and pinks, ending almost in white, and put them off to one side.

Next step was the bases. I wanted to base them to make setting up quicker. If I had thought about it I would probably just have used the downloadable roads from Hawk Wargames and covered some card or mdf with them, but I didnt til it was too late (Doh!). I cut my bases to fit the general size of the roads - ie 4cm wide, and long enough for a couple of cars - 6cm long. I threw in a couple of 8x8s to do an intersection. I rounded the corners off as I think it looks better, then gave them a quick drybrush with a light grey to try and match the Hawk roads a bit.
  As you can see they looked a bit naff due to my poor attempt at drybrushing but frankly I couldn't be arsed to start again so they will have to do. I cut myself a template from the top of a blister pack and airbrushed some lines on the road sections. Then left them to dry

Friday, 9 May 2014

Press On 16 Platoon ! (5) End in sight

It was getting to the sticking point now. 16 Platoon needed to push on. The Germans were now suffering from their low manpower. In the orchard, there were only two understrength teams each of two men grimly holding on to their MG42s, plus a wounded NCO.

16 Platoons young CO saw the chance, and ordered his men forward. The two understrength teams then gave a textbook example of both the strength and weakness of German doctrine, putting down a withering burst of fire into the advancing British due to their two MG42s. German doctrine calls for the guns to provide the firepower while the rest of the squads feed them, so as long as there are a couple of men left, they can produce volumes of fire Allied units can only dream of. Two Brits dropped, and shock quickly accumulated, bit as this was spread between the whole squad they soaked up the punishment.

The British also have a doctrine which calls for the Brens to pin targets while the rest of the squads manoeuvre. Running forward the Platoon Commander personally directed the Bren team against just one of the MG42 teams. Marks dice were if anything good and getting better, and the Bren cut the MG42 and its gunners to pieces.

With his left flank collapsing Paul decided to withdraw to the final defensive positions in and around Church, ending the scenario. Mark and his 16 Platoon have only one more battle to win, but they will have to do it on their own as he rolled a paltry 3 support points for the next game.

Paul now has some serious thinking to do. His platoon is now down to less than half strength, and he has lost his Panzershrek and two of his precious MG42s, but he will have the advantage of defending a prepared position. The last fight for Maltot church could be grim for both sides.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Press On 16 Platoon! (4) Out of the frying pan........

Paul was "a little disconcerted" at the Churchill blowing holes in both the house his squad were using as cover, and the squad itself, including an NCO who picked up a piece of shrapnel. He quickly got the survivors out of the back door and into the orchard where they went "tactical" and hunkered down waiting for der Tommies.

He also decided to try and make the Churchill "go away" but it was staying a long way out of Panzerfaust range, so he moved a Panzershrek team up to try and find a firing position.

Sadly this team ran into a burst of fire from the last British Squad who were holding their right flank, and even though they were in hard cover, both men "bought the farm".

Meanwhile the British pressed their advantage on the left, moving up and into the orchard. The remaining German squad opened up with a withering burst from 2 MG42s, killing 2 and inflicting 3 shock

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Press on 16 Platoon! (3) Tanks for the Memories

German dice improved somewhat and this allowed them to get their three squads on table. There was also a frenzied calling for the Panzershrek teams, who hurried forward.

All this activity triggered a response from the Churchill, which started to "Brass Up" one of the German held houses, causing casualties. The Vickers also opened up, putting withering fire into a German squad trying to take up position in a farmyard

It looks like the tank may be decisive for once

Press On 16 Platoon! (2)

The Brits had the initiative and quickly established themselves in the “Red House” at the centre of the village, deploying their Vickers and an infantry squad, plus the Platoon Commander. On their left the Platoon Sgt took up position.

 German deployment was limited by awful dice – a combination of too many 4s and 5s meant only a sniper and one squad deployed initially – Paul deciding to keep his only Senior Leader off table to allow his platoon to deploy without delay.

The  British then had their first stroke of luck - 4 sixes on their command dice gained them a Chain of Command dice, and they also discovered a hidden stash of Calvados - Platoon morale immediately rose :-)

The new turn also saw the remaining British infantry deploy left and right of the main street, and start to push forward.

And what was that noise - yes the Churchill from 9RTR clanked into view at the end of street!

As this second pic shows, the Churchill had a good firing position into Maltot main street

Chain of Command Campaign - Press On 16 Platoon! (1)

Scenario 4 of the Wiltshires in Maltot campaign (and a welcome return to historical games, none of this sci fi stuff!). 

Seeking to maintain the pressure, 16 Platoon try to push forward through Maltot itself. Paul D commanding the Germans, Mark F the Brits

Terrain for this game was much denser than before, representing the main street. I was a little bit disappointed as we didn’t quite have the right style or number of houses available, but we made the best of what we had. It should also be mentioned that in a moment of total forgetfulness yours truly failed to bring the Jump Off and Patrol markers so we had to make do with poker chips - Germans Green, Brits Red.

The patrol phase resulted in a fairly concerted push by both sides to get established in the buildings that lined the main street. It is fair to say that the Brits probably got the better of this phase, although it was close. 

Lighting in the club, combined with my poor camera skills, apologies. The British objective is to capture the Jump off point in the faun coloured building to the left.

Brits had chosen a Churchill and a Vickers bun in support, plus an Adjutant off table. The Germans had a Shrek team and a sniper.

The British were still operating at close to full strength, being only three or so men down, albeit with a fresh NCO who would not be operating at full potential. The Germans were now perilously thin on the ground, although their plethora of MG42s meant they could still put down impressive amounts of fire. 

Sunday, 4 May 2014

The Hungry Doctor

Another side project is Dr Who and the associated 7TV rules - a nice little game engine there. Here is my conversion of the Master as played by John Simms. Figure is by Hasslefree - surprisingly hard to find someone dressed casually in a hoodie - with a spare hand and sonic screwdriver

and the "real thing"

District 9.1

District 9 is one of my favourite Sci Fi films of recent years. One of those side projects that never get done is a 15mm skirmish based loosely on the film. Here are Wikus and Christopher , and an unfinished bit of shanty town

Figures are from the excellent Ground Zero Games Crusty range

Stuck in Traffic (2)

So having decided I want wrecks rather than cars, the first step is to take them apart. This is not too difficult, partly because they are made of very poor quality plastic - then again what do you expect for 9p each including shipping half way around the world?

I found it reasonably easy to pry the chassis part from the main shell, then punch out the clear glazing bit (and bin it as not needed). The people carrier was the worse to do, and I did end up damaging some but that shouldn't be an issue thinking about the end result.

Once separated I quickly and roughly painted the inside of the bodywork on the brighter coloured ones black \ grey as I don't want the bright colours showing through and painting them later will be a pain.

Next step will be to stick the shells back to the chassis then start thinking about rusty and wrecks

Stuck in Traffic (1)

Firstly I need to apologise because this is yet another DZC thing. Well at least partly. I am slowly building some modern 1:144 \ 12mm forces and these mesh well with some of the DZC terrain items I'm messing about with, so the following is a dual purpose project that will hopefully get some use for both.

I mentioned a while ago playing computer games. One of my favourites of recent years is Fallout 3 - set in a post apocalyptic wasteland. There are numerous striking images in there, and one of my favourites are the rusting car wrecks that litter the roads.

I'm looking for something similar to scatter around the table to provide a bit of cover and atmosphere that will double up for DZC and my modern games.

I picked up these on ebay. They come from China and are designed for use on N Gauge railway layouts. They're very cheap (Hooray!) at about £9 for 100 including postage, although smaller batches are available. My advice is you may as well buy a hundred rather mess about.

Close up you can see there are 3 versions of car and one people carrier

Detail on the bottom is pretty minimal sadly

You could use them "as is", but I was aiming for a wrecked and rusted look, so I need to do a bit of work first.