Sunday 27 July 2014

Bolt Action: Operation Frühlingserwachen

Place: Lake Balaton
Date 15th March 1945
Mission: Operation Frühlingserwachen (Spring Awakening)

The German 6th Army spearheads Germany's last offensive on the Eastern Front. The aim is to break through Soviet defences north of lake Balaton and swing north along the Danube to capture Budapest. The attack is led by Hitler's Black Guards, the Waffen SS.

After nine days heavy fighting the SS have forced their way through 30km of Soviet defensive belts. Sensing a breakthrough, a small SS reconnaissance unit is inserted through a gap in the last Russian line. It consists of two squads of SS infantry supported by a light armoured car led by SS Oberscharführer  John.

They make for an, astonishingly, undamaged, villa which it appears to be abandoned. At this point a Soviet field gun reveals its position on a hill behind the villa by opening fire. The villa was my objective.

My opponent, Commissar Andy Singleton, commanded a horde of Soviet infantry supported by a maxim gun and a light howitzer.

The field gun must have been crewed by experten, or a jammy bunch of so-in-sos, because they landed their first shell right in amongst one of my sections before they could deploy and then plastered the pinned section until it was destroyed. The carnage was appalling.

I would make two observations: (i) the danger of fielding a small elite combat group is that they can be brittle - one cannot sustain losses, and (ii) artillery is unpredictable in Bolt Action but it has the capacity to cause mayhem to infantry.

On the plus side my second section and armoured car made the shelter of the villa.

Unfortunately the horde of Soviets made it to the other side and a firefight developed.

 The first order dice out of the cup was red and the Soviets made it into the villa. The SS immediately counterattacked and, supported by the 20mm cannon on the armoured car, stormed the villa killing all the Russians inside.

A vicious exchange of fire ensued. The Soviets forced their way into the villa, and were forced out at bayonet point. The SS veterans killed two or three Soviets for every casualty, the Oberscharführer personally shooting the Soviet Lieutenant and female Medic.

The bystanders, we were playing in a Medway pub, jeered at this point. There were some comments about the lack of sportsmanship at shooting a lady but I silenced the criticism by pointing out that we were the bloodstained psychotic thugs of the SS.

What did they expect?

I was eventually down to the Oberscharführer and an MG42 gunner. Eventually they were raked by the far off maxim gun and the Commissar ran into the villa to personally execute the wounded Oberscharführer with a shot to the back of the neck. The SS had gone as far as they could go. The next move was up to the Red Army.

The objective, the villa, changed hands four times.

A superb game and my thanks to Andy who made it such fun.

I would note that wargamers tend to like to cram the table with models but sometimes the best and most enjoyable games come from these tiny skirmish actions where you have to think through each move and countermove very carefully. With so few units (I had four including the officer), no one is expendable.

Hitler's last attack had failed. It never really stood a chance. The Soviets soon recaptured every metre and more. Hitler blamed his Black Guards and stripped them of their armbands.

Note: Andy is an accomplished professional painter who takes commissions. You can contact him via Facebook.

Friday 25 July 2014

Warlord Battalia Starter Army - Review

I couldn't resist opening my Warlord English Civil War Battalia Starter Army, cost £70 with free postage.

What strikes one is that the box is stuffed with goodies.

First out of the box are the two flag cards, one Parliamentarian, one Cavalier. You get flags for ten regiments on each card. Every regiment has a pristine prebattle flag and a shot up flag so you take your pick.

You get 12 cavalry sprues, six for riders and six for horses, that make 24 horse in total. The sprues have a fair degree of options including standard bearer.

Each infantry sprue, again there are six includes five pikeman (at top) and eight musketeers in four poses. Again you get various options, mostly different headgear.

Two infantry command sprues allow you to make commanders, standard bearers and drummers: six models in total.

And finally there are ten little sprues of fusiliers with firelocks.

Well not quite finally because there are two sprues of these bases....

And two of these.

First thought: 24 28 ml horse and 90 foot for £70 including postage - WOW!

I am one happy wargamer but my wife took one look and went to the fridge for a glass of wine.

Oh well, one can't please everyone.

Thursday 24 July 2014

Summer Wargame Order Arrives.

 Mwah, ha, ha, ha!

My summer war painting order has arrived from those Jolly Good Chaps from Warlord Games. Some support to fill out my Franco-Belgian 1940 platoon, a BA6 Soviet armoured car that is a must for anyone interwar or 1941 gaming, some British reinforcements for colonial skirmish games, and a new venture: a War of the Three Kingdoms starter pack.

Wednesday 23 July 2014

IHMN: Battle Of Camberwick Green or They Don't Like It Up 'Em

Camberwick Green is a small 'village' in South London which was partly destroyed in the Martian Invasion. The Martians left three 'artifacts' in the fields just outside the High Street.

The Mad Mahdi of Omdurman had a vision that the Martians were really Islamic Jihadis and that the artifacts were messages from Jesus who now lived on Mars. Accordingly he depatched Osman Arzak on a Nile Dhow on a long cruise across the Mediterranean Sea, up the Atlantic and Channel and into the Medway. Their objective was to capture the three Camberwick artifacts

The voyage in the tiny sailing boat was ghastly, not least because Arzak insisted on bringing his favourite horse.

Arzak's force included Ansar armed with proper Islamic weapons, swords, spears, shields and a bad attitude, and some Jihadiyya riflemen.

The march of a Mahdist warband through Kent did not go entirely unremarked. The locals were used to Martians, vampires, assorted daemons and the odd Prussian but Mahdists were something else so a platoon from the Buffs under Captain Adrian Nash moved to intercept, hurrying along the Kent lanes in a Thornton steam waggon chased by several farm dogs and a small boy hurling conkers.

Arzak split his small army into four, separating his rifleman out to the wings and dividing his Ansar into two attack groups who raced down the lanes between the fields.

The British rifle fire proved singularly ill aimed and the whirling Dervish reached the 'infidel turks' (aka the Buffs) largely intact. Sudanese riflemen captured the right and left artefacts and Arzak jumped over the fence at a full gallop to capture the one in the centre.

All the Mahdists now had to do was retire with the captured Martian gizmos worth 120 victory points while the Dervish occupied the Buffs. An easy win even if all the Dervish in the rearguard died

That, of course is where it all went wrong.

Captain Nash was an Erudite Wit with a working knowledge of Arabic and he made an unfortunate remark involving Osman Arzak's mother and a diseased camel. Naturally, Arzak took no little exception to such jollities and, forgetting the point of his mission, ordered an immediate assault on the Infidel on his right. Only a single Jihadiyya riflemen remembered what he was about and sneaked off with the loot.

On the Mahdist left flank things proceeded as planned, a Jihadiyya riflemen picking up the artifact and legging it.

Captain Nash died bravely under a hail of spear points but in general the Buffs proved pretty good at bayonet work and the Dervish found they did not like it up 'em.

Even worse, a certain Private Means on the right flank proved to be a crack shot, knocking down each Jihadiyya riflemen in turn who picked up the left flank artifact. He even shot Osman Arzak out of the saddle as he galloped off the field.

When Adrian and I totted up the points we found we had exactly 49 victory points each: a most satisfying end to a great game.

Friday 18 July 2014

Warzone Squad

Came across these fellows at the bottom of a box.

Another eBay lot, methinks.

Deff Squadron

I am having a clear out and so I am selling some of my models. This lot has just gone on eBay.

Monday 14 July 2014

IHMN: The Mad Mahdi's Navy

Fifteen Beja on a dead man's chest
Yo ho ho and a bottle of holy water that the Mahdi washed in...

Upon hearing that the 'Turks' had a new steamboat the Mad Mahdi commissioned his own naval force by 'acquiring' a trading dhow from the river Arabs.

The model is scratchbuilt in plasticard from a plan off the Major General Tremorden archived colonial warfare site.

It will carry about twenty Dervishes at a pinch provided they don't whirl too much.

The Mahdist flag.

Sunday 13 July 2014

IHMN: Sand of the Desert is Sodden Red

The year is 1886. Wolsey's Khartoum relief expedition has failed. Despite the British winning every battle, they lost the war. The Relief Expedition is replaced by the Frontier Force which garrisons Wadi Halfa on the Egyptian southern border up near the second cataract of the mighty Nile. Conditions are hellish with temperatures of 122F recorded in the men's tents.

The newly arrived Dorset Regiment is soon christened the Dying Dorsets as they lose one third of their strength without hearing a shot fired in anger.

A half company of men camped out by some ancient ruins by a tributary of the Nile is down to just eight effectives when a friendly river Arab dashes into the camp with the awful news that the Khalifa's Merry Men are coming. Sergeant Shaun Murphy has just enough time to form a defensive line.

We used the IHMN rules to recreate an historical skirmish between the Ansar and the Dorsets on the frontier.

The Ansar raiders, commanded by El Jon, a cousin of the deceased Mahdi sent North by the new Khalifa to get him out of the way, consist of eleven men armed with properly Islamic weapons: swords, shields, and spear. They also have verses of the Koran in amulets worn on the body that are guaranteed to turn the British bullets to water (so they get the water bullet advantage).

They are supported by six Jehadiya African riflemen. These warriors are not true believers so do not get the water bullet advantage. I class their guns as carbines despite them being Remington breech loading rifles captured from the Egyptian Army because the Jehadiya tended to cut the barrels down and knock off the sights. The Jehadiya cannot use volley fire.

The Ansar objective is to kill all the infidel.

The Dorsets want to survive.

Let battle commence.

The Ansar dash forwards in one of their bounding charges while the Jehadiya lay down a desultory supporting fire with their usual inaccuracy.

The Dorsets fall back slowly, firing aimed shots and the Mahdists start to die.

The Ansar pile into the British line to be met by determined bayonet work.

The Dorsets fall back 'by the numbers', one half of the unit laying down withering fire as the other retreats through them. Two Dorsets fall to spear thrusts and a third is trapped but they sell their lives dearly.

The Ansar charge peters out after skewering two more Dorsets.

Sixteen Mahdist fanatics stain the sand sodden red.

Veteran Sgt Murphy advises his men to bayonet the Mahdist dead 'just to make sure'.

A great fun game. IHMN works really well as a colonial skirmish game. Of hand I can't think of a better set of rules for the job.

Saturday 12 July 2014

Into The Maelstrom

The artwork for my next novel, written by me from an outline by David Drake, is done. At the moment it has a target slot for a March 2015 release.

The cover captures the feel of the space opera nicely as the story moves up a gear into full blown warfare.

Wednesday 9 July 2014

Warlord Bolt Action Tank Sale

Warlord Games are having a tank sale.

A chap can't have too many tanks.

Wargames Survey

I love a survey as it makes me feel that someone actually cares about my opinions.

Go here to take one for WSS magazine.

Tuesday 8 July 2014

IHMN: Royal Navy River Gunboat

I recently obtained a copy of the latest IHMN Eastern Supplement and was taken with the Royal Navy Landing Party better known as The Navy Lark for those of us who remember when 'The Wireless' had nothing to do with computers.

This wonderful river gunboat was constructed for me by my friend and long suffering opponent, Shaun of the Undead. It is the sort of vessel that might have plied the Upper Nile or the Yangtze.

1st Lt. Jack Halibut is just topping up his alcohol level before leading the lads ashore. He has acquired a red coat from some unfortunate Pongo in a game of Chase The Lady (using real ladies).

The boat has enough room for a selection of Jolly Decent Chaps and Jack Tars and has a Nordenfelt manual machine gun mounted on the stern upper deck. Just the job for intimidating the French.

Monday 7 July 2014

Dervish Camel Rider

Couldn't resist picking up another Dervish figure painted by Paul from Rochester Models.

Saturday 5 July 2014

More Whirlin' Dervish

I have added a few new figures to my whirlin' Dervish skirmish army - sorry couldn't resist the alliteration.

These are 2nd hand eBay models that were decently painted that I have essentially touched up and rebased to style them into my current models.

Wednesday 2 July 2014

Bolt Action: Andy Singleton's Charlemagne SS

I played a great game of Bolt Action with Andy Singleton recently. I will be putting up a batrep when I get the chance.

In the meanwhile, Andy is a professional painter and his work has been featured on the Warlord site. This is his SS officer from the Stormbattalion Charlemagne, troopers below.

It is an astonishing figure that really captures the subject, Berlin 1945.

Andy is a professional painter and this is in an example of his work to 'Collector's standard'. He also takes cheaper commissions for painting to a 'Wargaming standard'. You can contact him via Facebook.

Black powder - Sudan: Highlanders

Painted up some old 1/72 Airfix Highlanders that I've had in the unpainted box since Jesus was a management trainee. Decided to use red coats because I get sick of painting khaki. Either would be correct in the Sudan. The British Army was in the process of abandoning the red coat for camo colours. The last battle in the Sudan was a massacre due to the Maxim gun. Red coats were no longer a good idea in the age of rapid fire weapons and smokeless firearms.