Sunday, 29 December 2013

Elizabethan Small Wars: Part 4: Irregular Wars - Mere Irish

I've been collecting 15mm figures for my Irregular Wars 'Mere Irish' Battle. 'Mere' is today a slighting term but originally meant 'pure', i.e. it designated the native Gaelic Irish. Galloglass and Kerns are compulsory in the army list before 1600 and Pike and Shot after 1600, but all types are usable across the divide. In 'set piece' battles there are 5 additional options which take the form of x1, xD2 or xD3 etc companies. So for any option you have to allow for more units than you might actually get to field on the table.

I'm currently planning the following units. Each unit is a company/base. Most of the figures are Khurasan Renaissance Irish, but others will be conscripted where required. I decided in the end to go with the standard 30mm square bases as I felt that larger bases would crowd the battlefield too much and alter the game. I could increase the playing area to compensate for larger bases but I want to keep the game compact and not too demanding on painting time.

2 Pike
2 Shot
3 Galloglass
4 Kerns
4 Horse
3 Bonnachts
3 Kern marksmen
2 Redshanks
1 Priest

I was also going to add some Spanish Targeteers but I think I'll postpone that and do a whole 'Spanish Expeditionary Force' Battle once Khurasan have released their Spanish range. For each extra Battle, you add a foot in width. Given that my club like multiplayer games, it will be good to be able to deploy a couple of Battles per side.

Pike. All Khurasan. The end figure is an ensign from the command pack.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Light box for photographing miniatures

I thought it was time to improve the photos of miniatures used here so I knocked up a simple light box. There are loads of articles on how to do it if you Google for them.

I used an old cardboard box. I cut widows in the top and sides and covered them with tracing paper. This diffuses the light. The white card inside is curved and produces a continuous bottom and back surface. I suppose this took me about an hour to make.

I already have a desk lamp with a daylight bulb which I will use to light the box from above. Ideally I would also have lamps at the sides. This should provide a good environment. Improving my photography will require more study and experiment.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Hexon Assembly with Kallistra

A very useful video from Kallistra about the right way to set up Hexon terrain. Sally demonstrates how it should be done with the utmost efficiency.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Elizabethan Small Wars: Part 3: Irregular Wars - 30mm vs 40mm basing?

Galloglasses. Left: 3 figures on a 30mm x 30mm base.
Right: 5 figures on a 40mm x 40mm base.
Basing choice is a major bane of planning wargame armies. Irregular Wars calls for square bases. 30mm x 30mm is suggested for 15mm figures but 40mm x 40mm (using sabots if necessary) is allowed to accommodate figures already based for other rules, e.g. DBR. As I don't already have any finished 15mm pike-and-shot era figures I'm faced with a choice.

The figures in the illustrations are all from Khurasan's excellent new Irish Renaissance range. I'm planning to publish better pictures in a future instalment.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Maurice trial with counters

As expected, my trial Seven Years War game of Sam Mustafa's 18th Century Maurice rules confirmed that they are dramatic, exciting and fun. It was also a trial of my MDF counters, so figure manufacturers may wish to look away now! 

Each side had a team of two players whilst I acted as a less than perfect teacher and umpire, having read but not played through the rules before. But the players were quick to pick them up and play was smooth despite necessary checks for confirmation and detail.  This was a tribute to their clarity and user-friendliness, and a great deal of cunning design beneath their apparent simplicity.

As this was an exploratory game to try out the main mechanisms of the rules I restricted the armies to Trained Regulars, put down just a couple of woods for the terrain and dispensed with Scouting. No advanced rules were used. Otherwise play proceeded as normal, or, at least, as close to normal as I could discern from my limited understanding and experience.

I advised both sides to deploy historically. The Austrians were in defence with 6 infantry units, 4 cavalry and 3 artillery. Splitting the artillery was against my advice! As this was only a training game I didn't provide an objective, but I added it later in case the Prussians showed lack of aggression. I didn't really need to worry on that score.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Elizabethan Small Wars: Part 2: Background Reading

I thought I'd follow this project through here in more detail, so I'll begin with the main references I have to hand. These are:

Irish Battles, G A Hayes-McCoy (Appletree)
From Clontarf (1014) to Arklow (1798) this is the best book on its subject.

The Irish Wars 1485-1603, Ian Heath and David Sque (Osprey)
Thanks to the old WRG range of uniform books, Ian Heath has been my staunchest authority for uniform detail throughout my miniatures painting career.

Armies of the 16th Century, Ian Heath (Foundry)

Galloglass 1250-1600, Fergus Cannan (Osprey)
This is a new acquisition. Ospreys can vary. This one looks good.

The Border Reivers, Keith Durham & Angus McBride (Osprey)
Another good Osprey with good illustrations of Elizabethan clothing. I may move on to the Borders later.

Renaissance Armies 1480-1650, George Gush (PSL)
An old book, but it still provides a good overview.

British Military Uniforms From Contemporary Pictures, W Y Carman's  (Spring)
Another old book but it may have some information of interest.

For more general background, I also have John Sturt's Revolt in the West and Anthony Fletcher's Tudor Rebellions. There are some other titles I might find in my book collection and I've ordered a few other books which I will mention later if and where relevant.

One clothing issue I've encountered already is the question of sleeveless doublets. Despite the assumptions of Hollywood as well as some re-enactors and illustrators, it appears that sleeveless doublets were rare. I guess that if you are going to wear a jacket it might as well have sleeves, and that shirts were regarded as underwear and not normally exposed except when doing heavy labour. This will be important when painting English and similar infantry.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Elizabethan Small Wars

I share the popular English fascination with the Elizabethan period, but it has so far escaped my attentions as a wargamer (except for the 1/2400 Spanish Armada and English ships languishing on my lead mountain). Currently averse to taking on any more large painting commitments, I was very taken with the scale of operations in Nicholas Wright's Irregular Wars: Conflict at the World's End.

Although open to change in figure scale and extendable to larger battles, the basic game uses a modest number of 15mm figures on a 2' x 2' table. The figures are mounted on 30mm square bases in numbers varying from 2 (skirmishing types) to 8 (pikemen). Armies consist of about 12-15 bases forming a battle. You can add additional battles and an extra foot in table width for each one.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Warfare at Reading and the other sides of Kallistra

Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting Warfare at Reading for the first time. It's a fairly typical wargames show. On the plus side the bring-and-buy area was unusually well organised and accessible. On the minus side the games tables were unusually crowded  together and inaccessible.

The trade area was as per normal and I had an interesting chat with Paul and Sally Kerrison of Kallistra. Kallistra's Hexon II is a well-known and, indeed, brilliant system for transferring the digital precision of boardgaming to the analogue world of miniatures. What seems to be surprisingly overlooked, however, is Kallistra's range of miniatures and its Hexon-orientated rules.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

It's not a race

This blog has now reached 20,000 pageviews - thanks for looking. I hope you've found things of interest or use.

For my own part I find blogging a useful way of thinking aloud, especially when mapping out new enthusiasms. In fact, blogging about these has proved to be a great substitute for actually spending money on figures and models which would most probably just end up on the lead mountain! Although the virtual lead mountain of declared but unfulfilled intentions is more public and equally embarrassing, it costs virtually nothing and doesn't require any physical storage space.

I've even found a parallel solution to cure my rampant book buying. I now add books to my Amazon Wish List instead of hitting the Buy Now button. Before I get round actually to ordering them the respective enthusiasm is most likely to have been replaced by a new one.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Just In Time Wargame Armies

I'm just working up to a trial game of Maurice. Having decided to dispense with national characteristics I found myself a few units short for a 100-points-a-side game. Earlier this morning I printed out some more labels and mounted them on MDF. Job done. No difficult uniform research that someone might well fault at a later date, no ordering expensive figures, no months of painting and basing.

If I ever do get some proper wargame armies for Maurice, they will either be second-hand ready-painted ones or 3mm ones if Oddzial Osmy ever does them.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Normandy Orchards – 15mm Crossfire game

View from the US side: Americans occupy the
fields and woods (nearside), the Germans are
holding the bocage and village (far side)
The excellent Crossfire games  put on at the recent SELWG show by Martin Groat, Steven Thomas and friends reinvigorated my interest in wargaming in general and CF in particular.

Although my main immediate CF project is the 'Crossfiregrad' scenery makeover  (more anon), I thought I'd give my Normandy game an outing. As it happened two new club members fancied giving it a go, so we had two teams of two, each consisting of novice and veteran. CF is essentially a 2-player game, but we are used to taking a 'committee approach'.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Achtung Schweinehund! Voice of a Generation

Retirement hasn't brought the free time I anticipated, but a bout of insomnia gave me a chance to start on a recent second-hand book acquisition. Harry Pearson's Achtung Schweinehund! was published in 2008 and has been discussed on TMP but it was new to me.

It's essentially the personal odyssey of a wargamer, and for men of a certain age and inclination it's all so true: the cultural stimuli of the early post-WW2 era, the compulsion to collect, the oppressiveness of having to paint, house and play with a large and diverse collection, and the discretion with which one treats a hobby/obsession which is simultaneously seen as puerile, geekish and belligerent.

The book doesn't purport to be a comprehensive history of wargaming but I learnt things I didn't know and was reminded of things I'd forgotten. The author is rather harsh on fantasy gamers and LARPists, but being of a certain age myself I can appreciate his frustration at the way historical gaming has been crushed by the fantasy juggernaut.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

WW2 platoon hex rules: Part 3: Three Phases of Fire Combat

My WW2 platoon-base hex rules are at the concept rather than the mechanism stage. Drafting and playtesting are even further off. It may be difficult to find the mechanisms to realise the concepts, but you have to start somewhere and the beginning seems as good a place as any. Please note that where factors are given values, these are purely to illustrate significant differentials. They are just place-holders for the final values.

Discussion of resolving firefights en masse on TMP has helped me to identify and clarify three levels of combat which I would like to represent. These are (a) ranged fire, (b) close range firefights, and (c) assaults.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The Reconnaissance of Reigate Fort

Kindly prompted by blog follower, Alastair, we set out on an expedition to Reigate Fort, a little to the east of Box Hill and another part of the London Defence Positions built in the 1890s to defend London from the French. Whilst Britain had been the world's super power since the Battle of Trafalgar, its strength was thinly spread and its naval dominance slipping. Although the subsequent naval race with Germany and the commitment to building 'Dreadnoughts' restored confidence in British naval supremacy and rendered the London Defence Positions obsolete, the fear of invasion was still great enough for parts of the LDP to be revitalised during the First and Second World Wars.

The southern edge of the South Downs forms a natural escarpment and a strong defensive position, and would have been the best, and, indeed, the last, place to resist an advance on London by forces landed on the south coast. London itself would have provided good internal lines of communication.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

The Conquest of Box Hill

Climbing Box Hill by the steps in the current British heatwave would not be recommended for a man of my age and fitness by any reputable physician, but that which does not kill me etc etc.

At 735 feet AOD, Box Hill - close to Dorking in Surrey - is the highest point on the North Downs. Having been there at least once before (many years ago) I dispensed with an OS map and relied on memory. This was a mistake. Accompanied by my good lady wife, a much more enthusiastic walker than myself, we crossed the River Mole near the Stepping Stones, missed the path to the summit and ended up in a nettly cul-de-sac beneath a WW2 pillbox. This got me thinking about Box Hill's strategic importance, and added a dimension of interest beyond mere sightseeing and exercise.

Monday, 22 July 2013

WW2 platoon hex rules: Part 2: Firefights

I want to create some very concise quickplay rules that confront players with intelligent command choices, but which use simple mechanisms to resolve the consequences. My first posting on this subject provoked a very interesting and helpful discussion on TMP. In the meantime, another TMP thread has given me an idea for managing firefights. The new thread began as a question about representing pinning and suppression but has drifted into a much wider discussion on the nature of firefights and combat in general.

I'm trying to get away from the micro 'element A fires at element B' approach and I had already decided to conduct close combat along the same lines that Assaults are conducted in Square Bashing, i.e. an en masse totalling of element factors. This mechanism is also used in another game I have played recently, Martin Rapier's Rifle and Kepi (albeit at grand tactical level).

Friday, 19 July 2013

War And Peace Revival 2013

I visited the War And Peace Revival show at its new home in Westenhanger yesterday. It took time to adjust to the new venue. Walking right around the considerably enlarged 'living history'/campsite part took a long time and I was more than ready to wash the dust out of my throat with a pint of Spitfire while watching the 40s singing in the Victory tent. Anyway, herewith a few pictures. I think I know what most of the equipment was but I won't risk exposing my ignorance by trying to name it.

WW1 light railway

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Rifle and Kepi: Solferino Batrep

I recruited a couple of friends at my local wargaming club to try out my Solferino scenario for Martin Rapier's Rifle and Kepi rules while I umpired. Since my previous post I've added in the French I Corps. The map and OOBs are below.

The first lesson was how not to set up Hexon II. I put it together upside-down with just a few clips and then tried to turn it over. There was a resounding crash as the pieces came apart and clattered down on the table (without mishap). I should have used more clips, but in order to speed things up we placed the Hexon on a blanket which held it together well enough.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Solferino Hexed

Solferino was the climatic battle of the Franco-Austrian War/Second War of Italian Unification of 1859 and my first 19th Century Grand Tactical project using Martin Rapier's Rifle and Kepi rules and Hexon II terrain. Some time ago I did begin collecting 10mm Pendraken figures for this, but I'm currently utilising the block armies.

I eventually decided to work from the map on page 59 of Richard Brooks' Solferino 1859 as it has already been stripped down to the essentials. Ignoring, for the moment, the northern, Piedmontese part of the action, I was able to get the main part of the battle onto 16 (4x4) Hexon tiles, which also happen to sit comfortably on my modestly-sized dining-room table.

Each hex represents an area 1 kilometre across. Woods are too small to be represented and high ground has not been considered. The road network has been created with 10mm wide felt strips, mostly in 12" lengths. These can easily be bent from side-to-side so there is no need to cut any curves. Cutting felt accurately is awkward. I marked it out with a ruler and a dressmaking pencil which leaves a white mark. I then cut it with scissors. All the roads shown took about half a square foot of material. I'm currently lacking blue felt for the canal and have temporarily employed a cut-up plastic bag. I haven't depicted any rivers. I don't know how significant they were.

The roads took quite a long time to set out. For a club night I would probably take a more rough-and-ready approach.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Hexon, felt roads and block armies

I've been so busy since my recent retirement from work that I've had virtually no time for wargaming, modelling or blogging, but I've broken the back of a lifetime's domestic backlog and today the coast is clear for bringing together some of the components of my 19th Century grand tactical project using Martin Rapier's Rifle and Kepi rules.

My first aim was to try out felt roads on Hexon to see how/if they stick and how wide they should be. I am planning to use brown roads for this project and black roads for my 3mm 1940 Hexblitz project. I'm glad to say that, as expected, the felt adheres quite well. The strips shown are 20mm wide. Perhaps 10mm would be adequate and, indeed, better.

The buildings are old 1/300 card ones.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

WW2 platoon hex rules: Part 1: The Givens

I have some fairly large British and German 10mm armies for the 1944 WW2 Normandy campaign. They were originally organised and based for Spearhead but have never been used. I'm now planning to develop some 1 base = 1 platoon rules for use with Kallistra Hexon II terrain.

I haven't written any rules since I was a schoolboy. It's quite an exciting challenge. I'll be presenting some ideas here and would welcome feedback.

The following givens are fundamental:

  • 1 base = 1 platoon.
  • Suitable for armies with infantry on 30mm x 30mm and AFVs mostly on 30mm x 60mm bases.
  • 100mm/4" hexed playing area.
  • Playable on a table typically no larger than 6' x 4' (so it can be played at home). 
  • Playable to a conclusion in 2-3 hours (so it can be played on a club evening).

Everything else is flexible.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Navy Days

My interest in a new 'period' is inevitably accompanied (and sometimes superseded) by an accumulation of relevant books and 'WW2 naval' is no exception.

I got the hardware bible, Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1922-1946, generally reckoned to be better than the Janes equivalent. I'm currently reading The Naval War in the Mediterranean 1940-1943 by Greene and Massignani. The authors take a very analytical approach, placing the struggle in its geopolitical context and explaining the things other authors would leave you wondering about. IMO this is exactly how military history should be written, and it's no accident that both authors are "keen wargamers". Prompted by Greene and Massignani, I've also bought Smith's Action Imminent and I've got a copy of Patrick Hreachmack's The Painter's Guide to World War Two Naval Camouflage.

Monday, 29 April 2013

WW2 German artillery photos

When buying second-hand books I usually check the database in my mobile phone to make sure I haven't bought the book already, and, if I've got a data signal, I also check Amazon to compare the price and read any reviews.

Ian Baxter's Images of War: German Guns of the Third Reich was criticised for inaccurate captions, but for £5 it seemed a reasonable purchase. I'm not an artillery specialist but I've collected quite a few books on artillery by authors like Ian V Hogg and Christopher F Foss which focus, naturally enough, on the guns themselves.

Now, I've probably got all the tank books I'll ever need, but books about ancillary vehicles are rarer, and what struck me about this book were the photos showing guns being towed.

For earlier periods I tend to avoid modelling 'limbers' if at all possible. Firstly I resent having to paint all those extra, but non-combatant, horses, and secondly, limbers clutter up the battlefield exacerbating the exaggeration of depth implicit in using models (though I am aware that artillery did have considerably more depth when the caissons and limbers are taken into account).

In WW2 and later period wargames, artillery is usually off-table at least in lower-level games. When playing games at Megablitz level, however, I would feel compelled to model the appropriate transport, and I would jump at the opportunity to model horse-drawn limbers as an antidote to the bumper-to-bumper Tiger II mentality.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

28mm Victorian Terrace in Foamboard for Irish War of Independence

Auxies come knocking at the door
Most of the scenery I made for my Irish War of Independence game is explicitly rural but I constructed this Victorian terrace which could represent the edge of a small town. I Googled for real-life pictures of Ireland, though the building is equally typical of Irish or English urban development of the period and could be used in other contexts. The footprint has been 'bath-tubbed' to some extent but the building is still vertically in scale with the figures.

Construction proceeded in exactly the same way as my foamboard 'Crossfiregrad' (Stanlingrad) buildings, albeit in a larger scale. Designing the pieces so they fit together is the key. The roof and top storey are detachable.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

World War 2 Naval

The Italian Battleship Roma
I've been thinking about getting into WW2 gun-action naval wargaming, particularly the Anglo-Italian battles in the Mediterranean. It would be a new game for minimal effort, cost and demand on storage.

I got a 2" hex cloth from Magister Militum at Salute and am now planning to get some Figurehead 1/6000 ships. (1/6000 would be a logical step down in scale from my 1/3000 pre-Dreadnoughts.)

The most appealing commercially available rules I've found so far is Grand Fleets, but I'd prefer something simpler like DBSA.

Being very small and hard to recognize at playing distance, I would definitely want to put the ships on, say, 25mm x 50mm bases which will have enough room for clear labelling, even if it's just an ID number.

A small fly in the ointment is the Figurehead destroyer bases which are moulded on and will have to be countersunk into the MDF layer of my larger MDF-and-steel bases.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Spoils of War

My raid on Salute 2013 realised:

  • A long wait in the cash queue as I had forgotten to buy an advance ticket.
  • 1 box of Hexon (two-tone green & brown), some hills and some matching flock for possible use on model bases.
  • Some Pendraken/Minibits 100mm MDF bases for making 'SBUAs' (significant BUAs) and woods for my 1940 3mm/Hexon/Hexblitz project.
  • Brigade Miniatures 2mm terraced houses & English village packs for same.
  • 1 Magister Militum blue felt cloth with 2" hexes (for naval wargaming).
  • Some O Scale conical milk-churns (Skytrex) to add period flavour to my IWI games. I'm told I should buff them with steel wool to make them look well-used.
  • A cappuccino and an almond croissant (nice but rather expensive compensation for queuing).
  • Half-time beer (extortionately expensive and not even real ale).

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Sequence Markers

Letter tiles as sequence markers
I picked up a second-hand word game in a charity shop for £2.99 in order to get the letter tiles. They are for use in wargames where units move in a random sequence. The tiles have a hollow back so they can be pulled blind out of the bag and placed face down until revealed.

Given the number of letters in the English alphabet, that gives me enough markers for 26 separate commands or units. If that isn't enough I could apply self-adhesive numbers instead.

I think letters (or numbers) are more intuitive than using playing cards - no questions about suit order or whether aces are high or low.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Thoughts on scale and basing preferences

1/72, 1/76, OO or 20mm. Call it what you will, it was a
common starting point for most people of my generation.
Why do different gamers favour particular scales? The more I think about it the more I feel that personal preference is probably outweighed by model availability, 'because the rules stipulate it', or because of pressure to conform with other players if you don't want to be left playing solo.

Historical wargamers tend to be of a certain age and they began with what was available at the time. My first schoolboy armies were 1/72 Airfix figures and vehicles and some somewhat smaller Roco Minitanks though that didn't really bother me at the time. When I came back into wargaming in the later 70s I was mad for Ancients and gave away the 1/72 AFVs I had rescued from from parental disposal. This effectively broke my own connection with 1/72 but this seems somewhat untypical. (I should point out that when I use the term '1/72', I mean the ranges variously made and described as OO, 1/72, 1/76 or 20mm. Let's not be pedantic.)

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Crossfire: Multistorey Buildings

The higher the building, the more squads allowed.
Vanilla Crossfire is essentially 2D. Crossfire hills, for example, are just 'lumpy places where people hide' as someone once described them. I played around with contours at one point, but I thought they just added complications so I went back to the 2D approach.

Buildings in Crossfire are similarly 2D. By default, they are single-storey and can accommodate two squads. This didn't have the right look and feel for my 'Crossfiregrad' cityscape, but putting figures on different floors wasn't practical either literally or theoretically.

But then I hit on the very simple expedient of allowing taller buildings to house more squads. The figures are always physically placed on the readily accessible top floor, but while single-storey structures are allowed only  2 squads, two-storey structures are allowed 3 and so on. In every other respect the buildings function in '2D mode'.

This is very obvious and easy to keep track of, and it gives purpose to having buildings of different heights, with the higher buildings forming natural strongholds.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

10mm ACW - Drinking paint since 2008

Confederate infantry
I seem to have bought my 10mm ACW armies in mid-2008 and they are still drinking paint. These are the figures I based before painting for 'quickness'. I admit that other projects have intervened, but part of the reason for lack of progress has been the awkwardness of painting these figures and the tedium it induces.

The figures are a mixture of Pendraken and Minifigs. They mix OK but the Minifig muskets/bayonets are very thin and delicate and IMO that just isn't practical for wargaming figures. I'm hoping that two good coats of Ardcoat will strengthen them a bit, but it's an act of desperation to rely on varnish to hold things together.

If I had my life over again I'd stick exclusively to Pendraken, but at the time their ACW range was incorrectly modelled with the blanket rolls over the right shoulder, so I thought the Pendraken figures needed some dilution.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Irish War of Independence FUBAR game

British Army Lewis team moves up to hedge.
Next time I intend to field the Lewis Guns
within the rifle sections.
Back in September of last year I played my first game of FUBAR using my 28mm Irish War of Independence forces. FUBAR was originally written and is mainly intended for Sci-Fi but it's very extendible.  The figure/model scale is 1:1 but it's not really a skirmish game as some would understand it. It's really a squad level game comparable to Force On Force or even Crossfire.

The rules certainly worked and my gaming companion was positive about them, but they have a very distinctive feature which perplexed some of the onlookers. Subject to troop quality, players can choose whether to take casualties as suppressions or kills. This seems to represent a trade off between allowing yourself to get pinned down or pressing forward at the expense of taking losses. It makes sense to me. However, kills or suppressions are things that are usually imposed, and it's novel, even disconcerting, to put this choice so literally into the hands of the victim.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Plans for 1940 high level game in 3mm

A Belgian civilian and a German soldier look
at an abandoned French Char B1 in the village 
of Ermeton-sur-Biert near Namur sometime 
after 14 May 1940.
Doing a high-level early WW2 game in 3mm has been on my hit list for a long time, and I've recently been researching the Battle of Hannut where the French 2e and 3e DLM met the 3. and 4. Panzer Divisions in May 1940.

The forces will essentially be organised on the 1 base = 1 battalion scale used in Tim Gow's Megablitz, but following my career towards grids and hexes I will probably be using Bob Cordery's Hexblitz variant or something similar. Bob has recently been working on Hexblitz II. I have also been looking at his even higher-level game, Operational Art. If none of these are to my liking I can do some sort of mash-up. Doing something original is also a possibility, but I feel I need greatly to improve my understanding of game mechanics not to mention my military education.

I intend to stick with the 4cm wide bases which Megablitz/Hexblitz players use for 1/72 models, but I'll be decorating them with multiple 3mm models. I may make company-size units (e.g. Recce) smaller, and transport units narrower and longer, but 4cms x 4cms will be the standard. (If I progress to doing later war Eastern Front, it seems I should be doing Russian Regiments on larger bases.)

I will be using felt for roads and rivers but may make up some hex-shaped woods and BUAs for placing over the Hexon hexes. Woods and BUAs will need to have a fairly even surface as the unit bases will sit on top of them.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

1/3000 Ship bases

Here is an illustrated guide to how I made and painted bases for my 1/3000 scale pre-dreadnought ships.  The models shown (except for the heading picture which is the Japanese Asama) are all Spanish and American ships from the excellent War Times Journal line, and are based for Phil Barker's Damn Battleships Again (DBSA).

Friday, 29 March 2013

Hexon plans

Hexon bound
I've ordered a box of Kallistra Hexon II  hexagon tiles which I will be picking up at Salute for use with three upcoming projects. I went for the two-tone-green-and brown finish. I've also ordered a few small hills. The projects are:
  • Martin Rapier's grand-tactical Rifle and Kepi  rules using, initially, my Mah Jong tablets. I'm indebted to David Crook's A Wargaming Odyssey blog for inspiration on the tablet frontAlternatively, I could use my 10mm ACW armies if/when I finish them. They were always intended to be usable at different levels.
  • A high-level (1 base = 1 battalion) 1940 game using 3mm models and Hexblitz  or a similar Megablitz variant. More anon. In the meantime I could use my Crossfire 15mm SCW armies and I have already started planning a representation of the Battle of Jarama Valley which would fit nicely on the area covered by one box of Hexon at a scale of 3cm = 1km.
  • My own platoon-level WW2 rules for my 10mm British and German 1944 Normandy armies. These are yet to be written but I've developed some general principles, if not the actual rules.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

WW1 fortifications in 10mm

These fortifications were made to represent (1) 'trench and wire', and (2) 'concrete and wire' fortifications as defined in the first edition of the Peter Pig Square Bashing rules. They're somewhat redundant now but I'm posting this item for its modelling interest. Both fortification types are symbolic representations rather than accurate scale models, but they are inspired by real-life photos and diagrams.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Thoughts on grids and hexes

I'm increasingly drawn to grids and hexes as opposed to 'free form' measurement, a split in approach that goes back to Joseph Morschauser and Donald Featherstone. The only grid/hex game I play at the moment is Square Bashing, but I have plans to extend this both for post-WW1 tactical games and pre-WW1 grand-tactical games.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Crossfiregrad facelift Part 1

Invariably providing both armies and the scenery, I tend to think in terms of 'games' rather than armies, and 'Crossfiregrad' is the new title I've given my Crossfire mini-Stalingrad game. As previously mentioned, I've been wanting for a long time now to improve the look of this game by adding pavements and rubble-strewn streets, but was torn between (1) adding pavements to the buildings, (2) adding separate pavements or (3) modelling pavements and roads as part of a modular tile system.

2013 Q1 Books

If I want a particular book I usually go to Amazon, but I also like to scour charity shops for the unexpected. Also, if you buy your clothes and household items second-hand, you then have more money for books and wargaming.

In the first quarter I happened to pick up three interesting second-hand books on the First World War:
  • The Confusion of Command: The Memoirs of Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas D'Oyly 'Snowball' Snow 1914 -1918
  • Forgotten Voices of the Great War
  • Tank Warfare (Frank Mitchell MC)
The first is a very frank memoir, the second belongs to a well-known series of eye-witness accounts, while the third (first published in 1933) combines history and personal experience with predictions of varying accuracy. I read them mainly for the technical detail, but I was particularly struck by the wide range of attitudes to war that these veterans displayed.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Tablets for 19th Century Grand Tactical project

My quest for domino-type tablets for representing units at Grand Tactical level were rewarded almost immediately when I came across a second-hand Mah Jongg set in a charity shop for £5.75. It contained 144 white crystalline tablets measuring about 28mm x 20mm x 7mm. They have a nice chunky feel and seem ideal.

I would be posting a picture of some tablets with labels attached. The designs were quick to execute but my colour printer is currently producing rather mushy results so I'll have to experiment further.

I'm not giving up on figures, but these counters will give me a head start.


The turn of the year is a time for reminiscing, and as 2013 is also my retirement year I found myself thinking about my lifetime interest in wargaming. As a small boy I was always drawn to toy soldiers rather than model cars or train sets, but it was the availability of Airfix 1/72 plastic figures and kits and the inspiration of Donald Featherstone that facilitated the transformation of imaginative play into gaming with rules. As a schoolboy I was a subscriber to Don's Wargamers' Newsletter, to John Tunstill's Miniature Warfare and even to the Society of Ancients. I also had a collection of R W Spencer-Smith's 30mm plastic 18th-Century figures which I painted up for the American War of Independence. These are still made today but cast in metal.  I lost contact with the hobby when I left school and unfortunately most of my childhood possessions were disposed of.