More painting and printing

Today, apart from spending over an hour sitting in the doctor’s waiting room for an appointment that was “running 16 minutes late”, I have managed to do a bit more painting.
Today’s colour was Vallejo 70.875 Beige Brown.

Although I like Vallejo paints as a medium, I do not like the way they are bottled. Whenever possible I decant them into old Coat d’Arms pots.

Anyway, this previously decanted paint was applied to:
Irregular Miniatures 2mm “Tiny Town” roads for my “Bomber” project,
Some of the tree trunks on my 3d printed outline woodland for gridded wargames,
House fronts for 3d printed outline BUA for gridded games.
6mm Zulu huts,
6mm Zulu Krall, touching up bare patches of ground,
6mm ex-Confederates, overpainted to become more variegated civilian clothing and hats,
6mm mediaeval crossbowmen, leather jerkins.

DSCF0004

Returning indoors from the Shedquarters I found that I need more printed counters for my play by e-mail Market Garden campaign. This time it’s British glider-borne infantry and artillery. So an hour or so at the PC and they are ready to be stuck onto the plastic counters.

DSCF0005

I foresee an evening of cutting and sticking as we catch up with series 1 of the BBC drama “Line of Fire” on TV.

Wargaming progress: March 2019

The story so far…

As usual I have too many wargaming balls in the air at one time.
I am working through my in-tray, but now have adopted the system that if a game is on the table then other projects will have to be recycled through the pile of paper, unless they are research, reading, rules development, etc. that can be done without disturbing the current game.

Each project gets an hour to progress before the next one is examined.  That way I do not get stale.  So, in the last two weeks I have:

1. Printed, painted and played with some WW2 naval models, to playtest my rules for use of submarines with my hex-based adaptation of Axis & Allies War at Sea. The trial game has already been reported here.

2. Received some new Kallistra half-hex tiles to square off the edges of my terrain. This makes a world of difference to the visual aspect. Unfortunately part of my order was incorrect, receiving unflocked rather than flocked tiles. Sally at Kallistra was very helpful and sent replacements, but this time with the wrong orientation (cut side to side rather than point to point).  Anyway, it’s all sorted out now and Kallistra refunded my return postage.  I am now in the process of creating roads on some of the half-hexes before my 1939 Poland game can progress.
Having discovered that the half-hexes are simply whole hex tiles cut in half I had a go at some half-slopes for where my hills run off the board.  Photographs will follow when the rain stops enough for me to comfortably get to the man-cave.

3. Designed and printed labels to create WW2 tokens for use with both my Memoir ’44 and Advanced Squad Leader boards*.  My idea is that if the terrain is viewed top-down, the troops should be too.  I have tried using various top-down images, but the definition on 13mm square tokens is too low to easily identify troop types for mechanised warfare.  Therefore I have adopted map symbols. As a basis for the images on the labels I am using the German system from 1939/40 for map symbols. I have not been able to find a comprehensive pre-NATO system for the Allies, so the German system is used for them too.

The labels are printed onto Avery A4 sticky label sheets, then stuck onto 13mm gaming tokens of different colours which I obtained from Plastics For Games. Unit labels German for blog

4. Played two engagements of the ongoing Play By E-mail campaign of Market Garden and started a third one, using the tokens described above and Memoir ’44 boards and rules.

5. Started research for a (probably) solo campaign for Operation Lion – the possible German invasion of Britain in July 1940 (before the “Battle of Britain”).  I am re-reading Kenneth Macksey’s book: “Invasion” and have ordered an old copy of the GMT game “Britain Stands Alone” from the USA, for orders of battle if nothing else.  I have yet to decide whether to use the board game as a basis for air, naval and land battles (solo or with an opponent), or whether to use the ASL boards for a rolling terrain campaign for maybe one German regiment to follow its fortunes – or both!!!

(I refer my honourable friends to the comment in the second line of this post.)

Oploo 4

* I was always too lazy and short of time to learn how to play Advanced Squad Leader properly, but have found a myriad of uses for the hex-boards, of which I now have several dozen and am always on the look out for more.

image

They are particularly useful for “rolling terrain” type games or campaigns involving exploration into unknown country. My latest idea is to create a template to place over ASL boards to create a board for Commands & Colors and its various derivatives, or for transfer to my Kallistra terrain for 6mm games.

A quick naval engagement

Today I played a test naval game based on one of the early engagements of the second world war.

The situation was that a slow cargo ship, accompanied by a British E class destroyer, was encountered by a German submarine.  This would be a test of my submarine adaptation to my already adapted version of the Axis and Allies naval rules.

Situation.

A cargo ship, escorted by a destroyer, is aiming to move west-east across the table.

One German submarine is on a direct interception course from the east.

Rules.: Adapted for 6cm. hexagon Axis & Allies (c) naval rules.

The submarine, when submerged, is represented by 1 average die of transparent tokens, one of which is real.

Turn 1.

U22 submerged with 3 transparent models to represent the real submarine.

Cargo ship moved east 2 hexes, escort moved east 3 hexes.

Turn 2.

German sub tokens advanced 1  hex submerged, then turned outwards from the centre.

Cargo ship moved 2 hexes, escort 3 hexes.

Turn 3.

Submarines all moved 1 then turned east.

Allied units moved west 2 hexes.

Turn 4. 

Submarines moved west 1 hex.

Allied ships moved 2 hexes east.

Turn 5. 

German submarines moved 1 hex west.

Allied ships moved 2 hexes east.  Destroyer turned to port.

Turn 6.

German torpedo attack.  German player checked the submarine and it was a dummy.

The submarine was replaced and no attack was actually made.

A54D7991-D12A-4351-A018-63DD06C6C009

British destroyer moved 5 hexes, including one turn to the east.

A depth charge attack was made against one of the enemy submarine tokens.

5 dice @ 1 hex.  1,1,4,5,6 = 4 hits.

4 hits = armour of submarine, so 1 point of hull damage.

Submarine hull points = 1.  Submarine was real and was therefore sunk.

C7E88F6A-CEB2-438C-9B5E-798A4A35BA8A

Battle ended.

 

Battle in Poland, 1st September 1939

This is the first battle of my over-ambitious plan to replay the whole of the Second World War.  The basis of the “campaign” is the Axis & Allies game, with the 1939 set-up that I found some years ago on the web.  I think it was published by Peter Sides.  Campaign moves are determined by information from two books; “World War II Day by Day” and “The Chronicle of World War Two”.  Whatever happens in the game, history will try to reassert itself.

So, in the first German game turn I have a battle in Poland.  In square 6126 the German 2nd Tank Army is attacking the Polish 1st Infantry Army, with support from the 1st German Infantry Army.  (In an earlier post I indicated that Axis & Allies units might become “armies”).

The strategic situation after the German move on 1st September.The strategic situation after the German move on 1st September.

The terrain was randomised using a deck of cards and a Memoir 44 game board.  The resulting “map” was transferred to a wargame table using Kallistra hexagon tiles, some customised to provide the necessary terrain features.

The basic terrain map
The basic terrain map

The names of the three villages, Cerekwica, Mrowino and Napachanie were chosen simply because I found on Google Maps three settlements in the area with a similar geographical relationship.  I think it’s better than using “Village A” or “Southeast Farm” or similar.
The battle would be won by the first side to achieve seven victory points.  Possession of each of the three villages counted as 1VP and destruction of one entire enemy unit was worth 1VP.

The battlefield viewed from the southwest. Cerekwica on the left, then Mrowino.  Both villages are occupied by Polish infantry.
The battlefield viewed from the southwest. Cerekwica on the left, then Mrowino. Both villages are occupied by Polish infantry.
View of the eastern flank from the south. The village of Napachanie.  The wood to the left is on a hill, not obvious in this view.
View of the eastern flank from the south. The village of Napachanie. The wood to the left is on a hill, not obvious in this view.
The axis of attack for the German 2nd Tank Army.  The green counters represent Polish forces not yet revealed, including some blanks.
The axis of attack for the German 2nd Tank Army. The green counters represent Polish forces not yet revealed, including some blanks.
The Germans began with a reconnaissance flight by a ME109, which spotted and strafed the Polish infantry in a wood north of Napachanie.
The Germans began with a reconnaissance flight by a ME109, which spotted and strafed the Polish infantry in a wood north of Napachanie.
The remaining Polish infantry made a break for Napachanie from the wood.  A second, as yet unidentified, unit moved off the hill to the right of the picture.
The remaining Polish infantry made a break for Napachanie from the wood. A second, as yet unidentified, unit moved off the hill to the right of the picture.
A German armoured car company raced into Napachanie to secure it before the Polish infantry could take possession.  The ME109 came in for another strafing run…
A German armoured car company raced into Napachanie to secure it before the Polish infantry could take possession. The ME109 came in for another strafing run…
...but was shot down by the jubilant Poles.
…but was shot down by the jubilant Poles.
Meanwhile in the northwest German infantry make a pincer attack on Cerekwica, defended by a company of Polish infantry.
Meanwhile in the northwest German infantry made a pincer attack on Cerekwica, defended by a company of Polish infantry.

Normally I try to work without tokens on the table, but sometimes it’s necessary. Each of my units has a small ID card that I can slip under the buildings to indicate their position if in occupation.

Despite a counterattack that caused a number of German casualties the Poles were forced back into the woods.  A German supply convoy arrived.
Despite a counterattack that caused a number of German casualties the Poles were forced back into the woods. A German supply convoy arrived.

Gaming notes
I changed the rule about retreating.   Memoir 44 rules state that a retreating unit must move towards its baseline. With a flank attack in progress I ruled that it must retreat directly away from the major threat.
The purpose of the lorries in Memoir 44 is to “resupply” units that have suffered casualties.  One base may be restored by removing one lorry.  In the event there was no opportunity to do so.

At Napachanie a company of Pz IIs took over from the armoured cars and began to machine gun the Polish infantry.  The armoured cars set off to recce the road to the northwest.
At Napachanie a company of Pz IIs took over from the armoured cars and began to machine gun the Polish infantry. The armoured cars set off to recce the road to the northwest.

Note to self.  “Do something about all those identically broken fences.”

But as they passed the wood on the crest of the ridge, the hidden Polish unit in the wood opened up with an anti-tank rifle and took out two of them.  The third beat a hasty retreat.  Dobry strzał!
But as they passed the wood on the crest of the ridge, the hidden Polish unit in the wood opened up with an anti-tank rifle and took out two of them. The third beat a hasty retreat. Dobry strzał!
The Poles at Napachanie had knocked out one Pz II, but more German armour was swiftly approaching.
The Poles at Napachanie had knocked out one Pz II, but more German armour was swiftly approaching.
The Poles counterattacked.  A unit of TK3 tankettes with 20mm guns advanced, supported by a 75mm gun battery (top centre). Two more German tanks were destroyed by shellfire.
The Poles counterattacked. A unit of TK3 tankettes with 20mm guns advanced, supported by a 75mm gun battery (top centre). Two more German tanks were destroyed by shellfire.
On the western flank things were not going well for the Germans.  Rifle fire from the Poles in the woods was inflicting casualties on the Germans in Cerekwica (left) and the Poles in Mrowino (right) were holding up the advance of the German infantry across the open fields.
On the western flank things were not going well for the Germans. Rifle fire from the Poles in the woods was inflicting casualties on the Germans in Cerekwica (left) and the Poles in Mrowino (right) were holding up the advance of the German infantry across the open fields.
A unit of TK3 tankettes with MG armament emerged from the wood NE of Mrowino in support of the infantry.  A Polish supply unit prepared to withdraw to safety.
A unit of TK3 tankettes with MG armament emerged from the wood NE of Mrowino in support of the infantry. A Polish supply unit prepared to withdraw to safety.
Napachanie: The Polish and German armour begins to "mix it" while some armoured half tracks set off to deal with the AT rifle unit in the central wood.
Napachanie: The Polish and German armour began to “mix it” while some armoured half tracks set off to deal with the AT rifle unit in the central wood.
An overview of the eastern flank from the southwest.  The Polish armour (centre) has chased off the German light tanks (bottom right), with help from their artillery (top left).
An overview of the eastern flank from the southwest. The Polish armour (centre) has chased off the German light tanks (bottom right), with help from their artillery (top left).
The Germans start to bring on their motorised artillery on the eastern flank...
The Germans started to bring on their motorised artillery on the eastern flank…
...and horse-drawn guns on the western flank.
…and horse-drawn guns on the western flank.
In the centre the remaining German armoured car surprises the Polish truck convoy, destroying two of the three trucks.  The German tanks are keeping well to the south of the dangerous wood as they head for Mrowino.
In the centre the remaining German armoured car surprised the Polish truck convoy, destroying two of the three trucks. The German tanks kept well to the south of the dangerous wood as they headed for Mrowino.
Napachanie: The TK3s turn their attention on the German half tracks.
Napachanie: The TK3s turned their attention on the German half tracks.
Mrowino.  The last Polish truck explodes and the Pz II unit catches the Polish tankettes from the rear.
Mrowino. The last Polish truck exploded and the Pz II unit caught the Polish tankettes from the rear.
But the Poles call in off-table heavy artillery to deal with the German tanks.
But the Poles called in off-table heavy artillery to deal with the German tanks.
From the southeast looking along the German axis of attack.  The road is littered with burning vehicles.
From the southeast looking along the German axis of attack, the road littered with burning vehicles.
Napachanie: The Germans begin to deploy their 105mm howitzers.
Napachanie: The Germans began to deploy their 105mm howitzers.
Cerekwica is retaken by Polish infantry, while their tankettes machine gun the supporting infantry.
Cerekwica was retaken by Polish infantry, while their tankettes machine gunned the supporting German infantry.
Cerekwica/Mrowino: The Germans deployed their 105mm guns in direct fire mode.
Cerekwica/Mrowino: The Germans deployed their 105mm guns in direct fire mode.
Despite casualties from the German artillery fire the Poles hold on to Mrowino, but only just.
Despite casualties from the German artillery fire the Poles held on to Mrowino, but only just.
Back in the centre the German armoured car runs from a creeping artillery barrage.
Back in the centre the German armoured car ran from a creeping artillery barrage.
The Polish tankettes eliminate the last of the German infantry around Cerekwica and (behind the village to the left) Polish infantry attack and destroy the German supply convoy.
The Polish tankettes eliminated the last of the German infantry around Cerekwica and (behind the village to the left) Polish infantry attacked and destroyed the German supply convoy.

This marked the end of the battle. The Poles had eliminated five German units, including the ME109, or forced them to retreat from the battlefield, and recaptured two villages for the required seven victory points. The Germans had taken and held Napachanie in the southeast and eliminated two Polish units, a total of three points.
The game took fourteen turns for each player. At the end of turn 9 the victory point score was 4-4, and things were looking desperate for the Poles. Five turns later they won 7-3.

Aerial view from the south of the battlefield at the end of the game with Polish positions outlined in red and German positions in blue
Aerial view from the south of the battlefield at the end of the game with Polish positions outlined in red and German positions in blue

Conclusion.
I think that Memoir 44 works best for set piece battles, or at least those with most of the forces on the field at the start. Because most of the command cards relate to right flank, left flank or centre the battle can become disjointed when trying to feed in troops at specific points. Each player in this game had four cards to select from at any one time, but the Poles got many of the “specials” like off-table artillery barrage. For almost half the game the Germans held three cards for a flank with one unit and one card for the flank with most of their forces.

As a first time exercise I think it worked well. I replayed part of the game later with Rapid Fire rules and it was clear that the firing was less devastating and the German superiority of numbers would overcome the Poles sooner or later.

And so I reach the end of the first day of the replay of the War. It’s only taken about a year to prepare and play. At this rate I will be 2,137 years old before I finish!

September 1939 – the models in detail.

In my previous post I gave the orders of battle for the first battle of my Second World War Campaign.
Here is some information on how the models were prepared.
I paint the models with acrylic paints from Coat d’Arms and Vallejo, after attaching them individually with PVA adhesive to plastic bottle tops for ease of handling. It is a simple matter to remove the models later by slipping a sharp knife beneath the layer of glue.
My game bases are made from 1mm thick MDF sheet, cut into 2cm squares (or multiples thereof for horse teams and other longer models). I round off the corners with an old pair of nail clippers to prevent bending or fraying at the edge.

1mm MDF sheet cut into 2cm x 2cm squares.
1mm MDF sheet cut into 2cm x 2cm squares.

I label all my bases with a Bother P-touch label maker, colour coded by army, but not always in a consistent style. For example the Polish tank label has a catalogue reference which the other examples do not. Something to rectify when time allows. I must create and stick to a standard!

A selection of Polish and German bases.
A selection of Polish and German bases.

Working with about half a dozen bases at a time I cover each base with PVA adhesive and attach the models. I try to randomise the positions of infantry on the base, but it’s amazing how many come out almost one to each corner. When the glue is completely dry I start to work one base at a time. For infantry and artillery crews with moulded bases I carefully add a coat of green “basetex” textured paint and immediately scatter some model railway “grass” flock over the base, sieving it through a redundant fine mesh flour sifter. Any stray flock that clings to the tiny men is blown or brushed off after the assembly is dry.  The flock colour is almost identical to the Kallistra pre-flocked hexagon tiles that I use.

Rifle squads. An error in the focus for the Poles. They were supposed to be the "in focus" group for this shot. Must revisit the tips from Henry Hyde!
Rifle squads. An error in the focus for the Poles. They were supposed to be the “in focus” group for this shot. Must revisit the tips from Henry Hyde!

For vehicles that have no moulded base I more often use a pinch of fine builders sand, also sieved or rubbed between finger and thumb to remove the larger lumps. I don’t mind a few large bits which can represent small rocks. I am still trying to get the timing and mix correct, but I tend to use more sand on vehicles that are likely to spend most of the time on roads because I use the same sand for my road surfaces. For example:

Vehicles with a sandy base. The raw MDF edges will need a touch up, and I am not happy with some of those white crosses.
Vehicles with a sandy base. The raw MDF edges will need a touch up, and I am not happy with some of those white crosses.

Here is a selection of Polish and German armour with generally less sand applied. Most of these were based in an earlier session and have plain green paint rather than basetex. You will see that I have chosen to use the disputed grey and brown camouflage scheme on some of my German tanks. That probably means that they will need a repaint if they are to fight beyond June 1940.

Representative Polish and German armoured vehicles for the 1939 campaign.  Not all are included in my first battle.
Representative Polish and German armoured vehicles for the 1939 campaign. Not all are included in my first battle.

Finally everything is taken to the garden on the next fine day and given a coat of matt spray varnish.  I have learned never to apply this if there is any dampness in the air.  The varnish turns white and ruins all the hard work.

Next: The game map selected and transferred to the table.

Poland, 1st September 1939, forces ready (or are they?)

Poland, 1st September 1939
The opposing forces are ready.  Well, when I started this post I thought they were!

In a previous post I showed the situation in Poland on 1st September.  Here is how the forces available for the local battle were decided.  I am using “Axis and Allies” (A&A) for the overall strategic campaign and “Memoir 44” (M44) with local adjustments for the tabletop battles using appropriate 1/300 or 1/285 scale miniatures and Kallistra terrain tiles.  This is very much a game based on history rather than a historical game.

Rule: only forces orthogonally adjacent on the map may participate in battle. The attacker (current active country in the Strategic game) selects a target map square and a primary attacking unit.  Any other uncommitted unit adjacent to the target square may be included as reinforcements.  The defender must fight with whatever unit is in the target square but may also be reinforced from neighbouring squares.

For this battle Germany is attacking with 2nd Panzer supported by 1st Infantry against the Polish 1st Infantry.  All other forces are pinned or not directly adjacent to an enemy.  Note that I am not calling these strategic units Divisions, Corps, Armies or anything else.  The entire Polish national defence is represented by four units, so maybe they could be called “Armies”.  We shall see as the war progresses.

To determine the forces available to each commander the appropriate number of Memoir 44 dice are rolled.  This process will be carried out at the start of each battle, so the commander on the spot will have a variable force available from battle to battle.  This will make it more interesting and I can rationalise it by claiming that this was the key point in the bigger picture.

All forces for this battle are fresh and complete, so 8 dice are rolled for each A&A unit.  Why 8 dice? Mainly because that’s how many are in the box but also because it gives a reasonable sized force for a 4ft x 3ft table, which with 10cm hexagons neatly replicates the 13 x 9 hexagon board in M44.
The dice are cubic, with the faces marked as infantry, infantry, tank, grenade, flag and star.  For those unfamiliar with the game system the relevance of these symbols in play will become clear in the battle reports.

German 2nd Panzer uses the “armour” conversion table.
Dice rolled were:
2 tanks = 2 units of 3 medium tanks (Pz II for 1939)
3 grenades = 3 units of 2 Self-Propelled guns (for 1939 replaced by howitzers towed by half-tracks)
2 flags = 2 units of 3 armoured cars
1 star = 1 unit of 3 half tracks.
Note that no infantry were rolled on this occasion.

German 2nd Panzer force September 1st 1939.  GHQ models on Kallistra hex tiles.
German 2nd Panzer force September 1st 1939. GHQ models on Kallistra hex tiles.

German 1st Infantry uses the “infantry” conversion table.
Dice rolled were:
3 infantry = 3 units of 4 rifle squads (4 figures per squad)
1 grenade = 1 unit of 2 horse towed artillery
1 flag and 3 stars: these dice are rerolled to obtain specialist units.
1 infantry = 1 unit of 3 rifle squads and a machine gun team (tripod mounted for sustained fire role)
2 tanks – 2 units of 3 rifle squads and an anti-tank rifle.
1 star = 1 unit of 3 trucks.
At this point I realised that I have only prepared one rifle/AT infantry unit.  Rather than delay this battle I rushed to the toy cupboard to dig out some replacements, so the second unit is Heroics & Ros figures on somewhat different bases, seen in the top left of the picture below. 

German 1st Infantry 1st September 1939. GHQ and Heroics models on Kallistra hexagon tiles.
German 1st Infantry 1st September 1939. GHQ and Heroics models on Kallistra hexagon tiles.

Polish 1st Infantry also uses the “infantry” conversion table.
Dice rolled were:
3 infantry = 3 units of 4 rifle squads
2 tanks = 2 units of 3 medium tanks (for a Polish infantry force I used the TKS and TK3 tankettes, one unit with 20mm cannon and one with machine guns)
1 grenade = 1 unit of 2 horse towed guns.
1 flag and 1 star re-rolled.
1 tank = 1 unit of 3 rifle squads and an anti-tank rifle team.
1 star = 1 unit of 3 trucks.

1st Polish Infantry September 1st 1939.  GHQ models on Kallistra hexagon tiles.
1st Polish Infantry September 1st 1939. GHQ models on Kallistra hexagon tiles.

In my next post I will show the forces in detail.

September 1939 – Getting there with the painting

I am slowly getting to my objective – to actually start gaming this campaign.
I find nowadays that I cannot stare through a magnifying glass for as many hours as I need to get these models painted. The problem with using a magnifying glass is that the figure gets bigger but you are painting it with a yard broom!
Painting webbing on 6mm high soldiers is a necessary chore, particularly for my Polish troops. If I paint it I can’t see it, but if I don’t paint it the uniform looks bland and incorrect. Catch 22.
My fine point brushes are beginning to fray from too much use with acrylic paint and when I look at the magnified photograph I realise just much I have strayed from the target areas and need to tidy up.

A close up of some of the Poles.  Still being equipped with some time before they are battlefield ready.
A close up of some of the Poles. Still being equipped with some time before they are battlefield ready.