Saturday, 30 May 2015

Send in the Tanks!

The finishing touches are being applied to my long running Stalingrad project and a collective sigh is released. There are a few more German vehicles to paint, but these three are a big chunk of that goal. Collectively it is a tank company of the 36th Panzer Regiment, and consists of one Panzer IVG along with two Panzer IVFs. Here is the Panzer IVG:

They are all Plastic Soldier Company kits, and as usual with PSC are excellent. I built a set of PSC's PZ IVs years ago, so it was nice to be able to revisit the kit:

And the two Panzer IVFs, which make up the other part of the unit:

The tracks gave me a little difficulty, but it was just a case of dry fitting them before gluing and they ended up all OK! I added PSC stowage to the three tanks and that was them finished!

All three together make up half of the 36th Panzer Regiment's tanks, so we are pretty close to finishing the entire project now!

The rubble I used on the bases of these vehicles can be found for sale HERE on EBay, if you are interested:

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

A Damn Close-Run Thing

As Monday was a Bank Holiday, Dean's girlfriend had gone to America for three weeks and Ninjasaurus Rex was awake, we gathered together for our first game of Blücher, the new Napoleonics rules from Sam Mustafa. It has been over a quarter of a century since I last played a Napoleonic wargame (besides two games of Shako, fifteen years ago...), so I was looking forward to this as I have also been wanting to get back on the Napoleonic horse for a while. One of the many good things about Blücher is that there is already a set of cards to use so you can get started right away. No painting the correctly shaded bricoles of thousands of figures.

I set up the board as the introductory scenario 'Along the Danube' on the Honour website, but instead of French versus Austrians, the game was 1815 French versus Prussians from the 100 Days Campaign card set. I chose the units that best reflected the units in the introductory scenario and with a bit of fudging we were set. Dean took the Prussian defenders, whilst Ninjasaurus and I took the attacking French. I even got the music right, we listened to the soundtrack for the 1927 silent film Napoleon whilst we played: 

The board was set up as below, with all the units hidden. There was three objectives for the French, the ones on the middle hill and the fields being special objectives. Capture of both of these would automatically end the game as a French victory.

The opening moves saw a lot of action in the centre of the field, the French cavalry reserve was activated and advanced in the centre of the field. This was a mistake, as we shall see later, and I soon learned why they were called 'reserve'...

In typical flamboyant style, Dean decided to defend by attacking, pushing forward his right flank, this caused us to put the left French flank in a sate of preparedness. We didn't like the way his cavalry was threatening the infantry.

I sent the cavalry Corps charging forward, to crash into the front ranks of the waiting Prussians. I released them far too quickly and should have waited until more damage had been done to these troops before attacking.

Despite destroying a battery of foot artillery, the other cavalry were repulsed by the fresh Prussian infantry and the French middle broke down into a confused mess. Maybe I should have read about Napoleonic tactics before we started...

Meanwhile, Ninjasaurus, commanding the left flank, was fairing a little better. He started making advances against the Prussians and made a good show of beating off a Prussian cavalry unit that had attacked.

It was time to bring the right flank into action, so I began the slow slog towards the river through the woods.

This coincided with the cracks beginning to show on the Prussian right flank, determined French assaults forced them back towards their own lines.

The cavalry attached to the third Corps began harassing the Prussians on the river bank and charged the guns, destroying them.

Further French attacks on the left flank smashed the Prussian defence, combined brigade attacks seemed to be winning the day!

Combined with assaults from the cavalry the entire Prussian right flank collapsed under the weight of the attacks. Most of the defenders were now in no fit state to continue fighting.

Meanwhile, on the right flank, the French infantry charged across the river and into the waiting Prussians holding the fields.

The ninth Prussian unit was lost, this signalled the collapse of the entire army's morale (it was level seven), and the game was declared to be a French victory.

It was over, but it was close. We lost five French units, so were close to breaking as well. I also learnt a lot about Napoleonic tactics, battles should be attritional until breaking point then send in the cavalry. Unsupported cavalry attacks against fresh infantry just don't work... This is why my cavalry corps ended up floundering about in the centre of the field like headless chickens. Each attack brought them more fatigue and closer to their breaking point. 

Overall, we all enjoyed the game, it played well with a good feel for the period and, as I mentioned, we could all hold the rules in our heads by the end. I think we probably missed out a few bits and pieces, but that is always the way with first games. It won't be long before we're playing another game of Blücher, I am sure. 

Then Clare joined us for a couple of games of Thunder Road, the 1980s Mad Max inspired board game by MB Games. I was bought this game for Christmas back in 1987, but haven't played it since. Dean had picked up a cheap copy on EBay and has been repainting it in the last few weeks. Here are some pictures of the car carnage from the two games we played (Clare won them both...).

As I mentioned, Dean has been painting the cars, here is the excellent job he did on the team I used, inspired by Second World War Germans...

A bank holiday full of gaming, not a bad way to spend a Monday! Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Watch the Skies!

The last vehicle for the 14th Panzer Divison HQ is the self-propelled 20mm Flak gun, you may remember the half-track version I painted which was wrong. Well, this time, I have got the correct vehicle; a Sd.Kfz. 10/4. This is from Command Decision and is another fine model:

I added a couple of extra crew, not that it makes any difference in the rules. One (with the range finder) came from Command Decision and the other was a Plastic Soldier Company driver from the German Stowage set. At least I have found a use for one of them! 

Also, having got the wrong model of Soviet gun, I rebased a spare Plastic Soldier Company Zis-3 to go in the AT Battalion of the 308th Rifle Division:

The crew came from Command Decision:

So I have now all the Russian units finished (except three trucks, which are not in the lists, but I thought I'd add them anyway...), so I just have to work my way through the German armour and guns.

The rubble that I use on the bases of these vehicles can be found for sale HERE on EBay! It comes in three colours and I use a mix of it to get the desired effect of urban rubble.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Triples 2015

On Sunday Dean and I attended Triples, our local convention, here in Sheffield. It was hosted in the big English Institute of Sports, however, this year was a bit disappointing. There were a few notable absences in the traders, Skytrex for example, as I was after some more German guns for my current Stalingrad project. I didn't actually buy that much, just some Zvezda Russian trucks and some GW figures to paint and sell. There was very little to grab my attention, it could have been because it was Sunday afternoon and some of the traders and games had already left.

As ever, there was few good games (although I noted a couple that I had seen last year...) and here are a few photos to give you an idea of what was on show. I didn't take photos of everything, so apologies if I missed out a game or two!

First up was a great looking football hooligan game. I particularly liked the terraced houses:

28mm WW2:

As it was the two hundredth anniversary there was a few Waterloo games, like this defence of Hougoumont:

And this large scale version of the entire battle:

My favorite game was the Prussian attack on Plancenoit, in 28mm:

I didn't stick around to see who won, but I can guess the result. So that's it for another year, it does seem to be a bit on the wane, I hope this isn't the case and Triples can be returned to its former glory. However, I am sure someone will tell me that their takings were up this year, or there was more footfall than in previous events, but it just seemed quieter than usual to me and Dean.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Hefty Halftracks

My latest additions to the German vehicles for Stalingrad are two Plastic Soldier Company SdKfz 251s, one of these will be for the HQ of the 14th Panzer Division, the other for the 14th Panzer Division's Engineer Battalion.

The Engineer's halftrack is the 251/7 Pionierpanzerwagen variant, with assault bridging equipment. I bought a specific halftack of this type from Command Decision, but instead of using the metal body, I attached the ramps to a PSC model, so that the two halftracks models would be similar in size and detail. I'll use the extra Command Decision body for something else in the future.

The HQ halftrack is the normal bog-standard variant. I was going to upgrade it to a 251/10 with the 37mm AT gun, but I figured the Germans have enough firepower as it is, so I am going to pretend it is a 251/3 command vehicle with extra radio sets...

Another week another step closer to finishing. We are not far off now and I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel...
I am still selling the rubble you can see on the bases of these vehicles, you can find it here on EBAY. It's pre-painted and comes in three colours Black/Grey, Dark Brown and Brick Red.

Thanks for reading!
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