Model railways

In my WW2 gaming I frequently have to represent railways.

Unfortunately no supplier is able to provide 10cm railway tracks. The maximum metal (Irregular Miniatures) or resin (Leven Miniatures) seems to be 6cm, which has become the standard length. So every 10 cm hexagon terrain tile with railways is a compromise, involving cutting at least two pieces.

Cutting the rail sections is a problem. I am using Leven by default, but the resin pieces do have a tendency to snap unexpectedly during the cutting process and fly off in odd directions.

Anyway, here is my latest effort, awaiting painting…

Mostly about painting

Today has seen quite a lot of time in the “shedquarters” catching up with painting.

I have been using my method of taking the next available pot of paint from my paint box and using it to catch up with the various projects “on the go”.
And so…
1. Coat d’Arms 509 Brick Red.
Added to the 3d printed outline townscapes for my 6mm grid games based on Bob Corderoy’s rules.
Added to the Irregular Miniatures “2mm” towns which I intend to use for my “Bomber” game (of which more below).
Base-coated some 6mm cattle – actual colour to be researched later.
Re-painted some hats, coats and trousers of 6mm Confederates to convert them into local militia for my fictitious 1879 game.

2. Coat d’Arms ??? Slate Grey.
Added several roofs to my IM tiny towns for “Bomber”.
Several boxes for a defensive 6mm Zulu War situation.
Tweaked the 6mm Confederates further to become civilian militia.
Added hair and whiskers to a 28mm Victorian General.
6mm medieval artillery woodwork.

3. Citadel Enchanted Blue (Gosh – that’s an old bottle!)
1 pair “Brand New” ACW Union infantry trousers in 20mm.
1 house for the 6mm outline town for a square grid battle game.
6mm Medieval Gunner tunics.

4. Coat d’Arms 505 Green Grey
More tweaking of 6mm Confederates to make 1879 civilian militia.
6mm “Zulu” British defense boxes.
6mm grid game outline tree trunks.
6mm grid game outline buildings.
6mm medieval crossbowmen breeches.

5. Coat d’Arms 107 Bright Gold
20mm ACW Colour pole finials.

6. Coat d’Arms 517 Dessert (sic) Yellow.
Bases for 2mm Colonial troop blocks.

7. Coat d’Arms 406 Muddy green
Bases for 6mm infantry of 1700 period.

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I also made a start on the comprehensive illustrated rules for my WW2 “Bomber” game, representing an RAF night attack on Germany in 1943. I have written the basics of the game, up to the point when the first aircraft takes off.

Market Garden: First Contact

An ACW Excursion

Feeling the need to get away from painting and preparation for a day or so and to actually play a game with stuff that I already have prepared, and coincidentally next in my project list, I have played a solo game from “Battle Cry”, the American Civil War board game, transferred to a 4ft x 3ft table with 4″ Kallistra hexagons and 6mm figures from Irregular Miniatures.

Here is the battle report in Word and PDF formats.

Battle Cry Bull Run (Word)

Battle Cry Bull Run (PDF)

This was a fun game – with “game” being the overriding objective for some light relief.

A busy man

Winston Churchill once said: “If you want something done, ask a busy man.”  Clearly this did not involve blogging. (A noticeable exception to the blogging rule is Neil Shuck of Meeples and Miniatures fame. He manages to keep up a daily blog, a weekly podcast and who knows what else in addition to a full time job, a family, a hobby and recently a broken wrist)

Anyway, back to me.  I have not posted for 6 weeks.  I have had plenty to do, but little time at the “real” computer, having spent a lot of time on the iPad and iPhone simply catching up.

So what have I been up to?

I will try to cover these activities in detail later with photographs, but meanwhile, here is the boring stuff.

I have been vainly trying to progress my “Operation Sealion” PBEM campaign, which is stagnating mainly due to the fact that I want to get all my models looking as good as possible on the table (shades of Peter Stringfellow?).

The next battle is the German assault on Brighton, which calls for a lot of railway track.  My blog followers will know that I normally use Hexon tiles for my gaming area, but extensively remodelled by me.  Well, this time I tried to mount the railway track by Irregular Miniatures and Leven Miniatures onto the raised rubber-ish roads produced by Total Battle Miniatures.  This was not successful because everything delaminated, and I am now remodelling all the railway hexagons, and, having spotted it while ordering more track I have a new railway station from Leven to paint.  I should mention that Leven have taken the trouble when asked to cast in resin a new 4-piece set of double rail track that will make a 60 degree curve specifically to fit a 10cm hexagon tile (2 inner curves, 2 outer curves).  I hope to see it on the website for general order soon.

In addition, this battle – without giving away too much to my German commander – needs a lot of British transport.  I have loads of 6mm trucks and lorries for 1944, but I want to get it right, so several packs of GHQ vehicles were ordered from Magister Militum, my UK supplier.

All of this stuff needs painting.

A failure to paint in time resulted in me not taking my semi-portable in-period wargame to the (bizarrely) 217th anniversary of the Battle of Marengo.  For wargamers, I am building armies from the Commission Figurines MDF range, but my figures are glued together in blocks for small people’s fingers to handle.  The project to create, initially French and Austrian,  armies for the French Revolutionary Wars is ongoing.

The trip to Marengo occupied much of my time, including all the necessary requirements of taking my dog camping in Europe and bringing him home again without quarantine. Superb driving over the Alps, including the St. Bernard Pass, last visited in 1989 in full Napoleonic kit for a reconstructed crossing by Napoleon in 1800.

Additional problems are having my car fixed after a sunroof motor failure (luckily it was a heatwave with the roof jammed open) and some kind individual ramming the rear end of my car in the Marengo car park.

We took our new caravan (collected the day after my return from Italy) to Wales for an English Civil War re-enactment weekend, and I am still resolving, and paying for, the failures of the vehicle.

I have also been instructed by my GP to have certain areas of my body checked for issues that affect gentlemen of my age, culminating – I hope – in an hour of MRI scanning this morning.

And so I am returned to the “real world” of painting, modelling, and hopefully actually playing some wargames, with a resolve to post more frequently in future.

 

 

Ball’s Bluff, 21st October 1861

Although 21st October is most remembered in Britain as the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, I have neither models nor rules for that fight, so I decided to have a go at the battle of Ball’s Bluff, 21st October 1861.
I found a scenario online for the boardgame “Battlecry”, and prepared the battlefield with my Kallistra terrain. Laying put the troops I discovered I needed more Confederate cavalry, so off the the toy cupboard and paintbox.
One very quick painting and basing session later and we are ready to go.

An overview of the battlefield, taken with my i-pad
An overview of the battlefield, taken with my i-pad. Union troops are drossing the Potomac in the background.

Followers of my blog may notice from the closer picture below that my ACW models are not flocked to match the terrain they stand on, unlike most of my models. This is because when I started to base the troops for my Gettysburg battle some months back there was no time. It’s a job for another day.

A view from the Confederate right flank.
A view from the Confederate right flank. Terrain by Kallisra, figures from Irregular Miniatures, buildings by Total Battle Miniatures, trees by various makers.

The battle began with the Confederates advancing on their right flank, which was countered by the Union cavalry, while also moving their infantry forwards towards the woods.
The Confederates advanced into the woods to meet this attack, but were met by fire from the Union infantry.
The cavalry of both sides charged and a general melee ensued.
The Confederates pushed forwards in the centre, while the Union countered on their left. Confederate infantry and artillery in the centre fired with devastating effect. The Union forces then counterattacked but after several attacks and counterattacks were beaten back.
On the flanks both sides took to the woods for cover and continued to fire with limited effect. Eventually Confederate firepower in the centre won the day.

Conclusion.
Although I enjoy the Commands & Colors Napoleonics games I found this version of the same basic game system to be a little too abstract. Not reducing the firepower as a unit incurs casualties is somewhat counterintuitive, and means that units are artificially strong until suddenly collapsing. Maybe that is more appropriate to the Civil War, but it does not work for me.

So, while the table is set up, tomorrow I plan to replay the battle with other rules.

Two small battles and some conclusions

Yesterday I was lucky to have my old re-enactment friend Chris Scott available to play out a couple of actions from the Peninsular War campaign.

In the first he had a personal interest.  He plays the role of Don Cristobal d’Escozia, the renowned commander of all guerrillas in Spain (and the only fictitious overall commander in the game).  One of his sub-commanders with orders to capture some French cannon decided to ambush them en route in broad daylight.

We played the game using 6mm miniatures on a hexagon terrain board, using Commands & Colors Napoleonics rules.  I had to invent characteristics for the guerrillas, and as they would be outnumbered 4:1 I was generous.  They had all the advantages of light Infantry in firing, the advantage of French Line in mêlée and could use rugged hills (normally prohibited) with the same protection as villages.  Also, they has one base per 12 men whereas their opponents had one base per 24 or 36, according to type.

I was disappointed that I had not had time to paint up the Neapolitan Light Infantry from my Baccus collection, but I had loads of Irregular Miniatures chaps based up as French Light Infantry, so with a quick flag repaint they were ready, and due to scale differences I used the same manufacturer throughout, except the Guerrilla leader who is a splendid chap by Heroics & Ros that I bought, fully painted complete with leopard skin cloak, in the distant past.

Guerrillas in the mist. The commander with some of his brave chaps.
Guerrillas in the mist. The commander with some of his brave chaps.

And so to the game.

Both sides were given the same territorial objective.  To get the two gun models and two caisson models under their own control beyond the river using one of two bridges.  Each would count 1 Victory Banner.  The game would be won by the first to gain five banners, so at least one enemy unit had to be eliminated.

Chris insisted that this battle would not have happened, but I replied that he himself had ordered the capture of the guns, and his subordinate had decided an ambush would succeed. (Under my campaign rules with those odds, rash temperament and with imperative orders he needed to draw an ace or a two from “Señor Decacardes” and a two was drawn.)

The French column marches into the trap.
The French column marches into the trap.  The Guerrillas start to search for a better mousetrap.

Despite routing the first two Neapolitan companies in the column, the ambush party was surrounded and annihilated in the woods.  The other guerrillas moved into the village in blocking positions, except one company that (due to the lousy hand of cards held by Chris) was left out in the open to be picked off.

I drew a lucky card allowing a strategic move and got the guns onto the hill overlooking the village.  Two guerrilla bands attacked them (before they were deployed) but rolled appallingly and failed to hit anything, while in both cases the guns replied with devastating effect.

We both agreed that the rules for this cannot be correct.  Even allowing for the effect of canister at short range if frontally attacked the artillery have too much power.  We were playing with miniatures, so the tactical situation was different to that of the board game, but I ruled that in future.

“Artillery when battling back in mêlée, unless attacked frontally and having already fired from their current position, will battle using only one die.”

The final result was that the Guerrillas lost three units (11 of their original 16 bases).  One company of Neapolitan troops was destroyed and a second ran for the hills (overall French loss 7 of 24 bases).  The Guerrillas withdrew from the field, so technically it was a draw.

Following this engagement I have also changed the way that Guerrillas will operate in the campaign.

If they encounter a lone ADC or a party of enemy less than half their own strength I will adjudicate the event with a couple of card draws to determine losses (if any) on each side, as I previously did whatever the odds.

Otherwise if a party of guerrillas is in the same map square (10 miles x 10 miles), the enemy will be moved backwards along his intended route by 1 mile per 25 guerrillas (actually calculated with a finer degree of accuracy in my records).

This will represent the delays caused by ambushes, the necessity to scout ahead for ambushes and other disruptive activity.

As an example a band of 100 guerrillas could slow an unencumbered infantry battalion from 20 miles per day to 16 miles per day on good roads, and from 12 miles per day to 8 miles per day in the mountains.

And so, having very quickly resolved this encounter, Chris offered to assist with another that had arisen in the previous 24 hours.

In this battle the vanguard of an Anglo-Portuguese Force has approached a well-defended town in Portugal. They have observed and fallen back to await the rest of the division.

However the French spotted the column and have sent a strong battalion out to investigate.  They know there are wagons to be captured (but the British officer has withdrawn them to safety).

Both commanders gave orders to try to outflank the enemy to the east side of the approach road, which was an increasingly steep ridge. And so the situation is that a battalion of around 600 Portuguese infantry, with separated pickets on the hills, faces a battalion of around 1100 French, of whom one third have been ordered to outflank the enemy by using the hills

The opening move with Portuguese pickets on the slopes and the French starting their flanking manoeuvre
The opening move with Portuguese pickets on the slopes and the French starting their flanking manoeuvre

Although the Portuguese had orders to hold the position, seeing the isolated French force, I sent them forward.  They had some success, but Chris moved the rest of the French battalion to the left and drove them back with heavy casualties.

In the nick of time a British battalion arrived on the road from the south, and a second arrived beyond the ridge to the east (unseen by the French).  The French decided that enough was enough and withdrew

The end of the affair. The Portuguese have fallen back defeated, the British are advancing and the French have quit the field.
The end of the affair. The Portuguese have fallen back defeated, the British are advancing and the French have quit the field.