All is chaos and confusion

My wargaming has been somewhat disjointed in nature recently, for reasons of domestic bliss.

It was decided to have the woodwork around most of the house repainted as several bits were looking tired and discoloured.  In order to paint the dining room, we had to move all the shelves and cabinets, necessitating the removal of records, tapes, CDs, ornaments and other paraphernalia.  Having done this, the long-outstanding plan to replace the furniture was resurrected, and while the furniture was being removed we may as well have a new carpet!

Thus for some weeks there has not been a spare flat space in the house, except for my desk in the office I share with the memsahib, who has decided to work from home this week.

I do have a card table in the man-cave in the garden which is currently set up for me to learn the mechanics of the “Black Powder” rules before the Donald Featherstone tribute weekend in March.  However, venturing into the garden not only reminds me how much work is needed to be done there, but also commits me to unending games of ball with the dog.

And so, what have I been up to?

I did manage to play through a couple of battles from the Operation Sealion PBEM campaign which thankfully has reached a lull while I wait for the orders from the Germans for their landings on the second high tide.  For these I used my Memoir ’44 boards and home-made unit tokens unitil the last indoor table was removed from use.  I also revamped the unit database for the British side to make it more player-friendly.  When I can get back into the office I have to do the same for the Germans.

SInce then I have been working through my outstanding game list and preparing the paperwork for several other battles in different periods that have been pending for a while.  Amongst these are a Spanish Civil War engagement using one of Charles S Grant’s scenarios, a 1939 Germany v Poland battle, also from Grant’s book, and the next battle of 1792 for my “Est-il-hereux” rules (which must wait for the card table to be cleared).

No doubt all of the above will require more models to be painted when I have a table and access to the toy cupboard again.

Until then I will content myself with theoretical gaming and preparation.

And moving stuff around the house as directed by the boss!

 

Eastbourne, 17 September 1940

Yesterday, 3rd January, I played through another engagement of our long-running Operation Sealion Play-By-Email campaign.  The situation potentially called for a large amount of German units that I don’t currently have painted and prepared, as well as a lot of railway track terrain to build.  I opted to fight this as a “TEWTT” – a Tactical Exercise Without Tiny Troops.

I dug out my Memoir ’44 board game and designed tactical counters for platoon sized units, which were printed on A4 sticky label sheets, cut out and attached to plastic counters which I had previously bought from Plastics For Games.

tactical-labels

These labels follow the principles of the early war German map marking symbols as far as possible, but have additional elements for gaming purposes.  They were designed usin MS Paint on a pixel by pixel basis.  I have decided to create all the forces in the campaign on the same principle so that I can fight any forthcoming battles without delay.  Tokens will be kept in separate bags or boxes according to their current location on the campaign map.

It was one of those engagements that happen in a campaign which could practically only be fought as a solo exercise, and gave me a lot of fun. The situation is that a small, scratch force is being attacked from both sides by brigade sized forces and wisely decides to clear off before the pincers close, but will they make it?  And the battle ended with a “blue on blue” incident.  Unusually in this game neither side had any losses.

The battle report is here in MS Word format

battle-report-25-eastbourne-17-sep-1030-1200

and here as a PDF

battle-report-25-eastbourne-17-sep-1030-1200

The next engagement is at Lewes, concurrent with the attacks on Eastbourne.

 

The Defence of Bilsington 17 Sept 1940

The Defence of Bilsington

17 September 1940. 09:30 – 13:00

This was an interesting engagement. Here is the battle map supplied to both sides:

map-11-bilsington-6mmThe commanders are asked to give orders using map squares for reference. The hex grid is for my use when creating the battlefield and fighting the battle.

The British commander had forces retreating from the south after a previous engagement. There were several depleted infantry companies and three intact batteries of 25 pdr artillery, with the Brigade and Artillery HQ units. He also had reinforcements from the north: a machine gun company of four platoons, an engineer platoon and a squadron of three troops of Matilda 1 tanks.

His plan was as follows:

“The broad plan will be for the fresh troops coming from the north to take up defensive positions in and around the village to cover the bridge. The depleted forces will fall back through the village. The force will look to hold the river line, their exact response will depend on the size of the enemy forces and the security of their flanks.

More specifically, the two infantry companies from C1 (road from the north) will take positions in the village and on each flank to cover the bridge. The Matildas will wait at the crossroads as reserve, particularly against anything crossing the river to east or west. The engineers will prepare the bridge for demolition.

The three RA batteries from D4 (road from the south) will pass through the village and unlimber on the hill in C/D1. The infantry coming up the road will rally at the crossroads and those elements not too battered will also form a reserve.

The remains of the two Somerset companies (arriving from the south-west) will move north to the river. If they can cross they will, and fall back towards the village. If not they will move east to the bridge. This will also give the British commanders information about the fordability of the river, and hence the security of their flanks.

Once all the force is on the north bank they will establish their defensive positions and await developments. They will leave the bridge intact is case further British elements appear, but at the first sign of enemy approaching the bridge should be blown. They should hold the river line unless threatened by overwhelming strength, especially from enemy who have crossed the river and approach from the flanks.”

He was unaware that the Germans would be attacking from the east, and therefore north of his defended river line.

Here is the German plan. The German player was aware of the retreating British forces that he wished to cut off, but not of the British reinforcements from the north.

“Expected arrivals in game terms, with draft orders:

Turn 1.  Artillery HQ, 105mm howitzer with 1/2 track and supply truck, 75mm infantry gun and two trucks. 3 x 37mm AT guns with 3 trucks, SP 20mm Flak gun, SP 47mm AT gun.

Orders: SP guns to move directly to the village, then swing south towards the bridge.  37mm guns to take up defensive positions in the village, covered by 75mm gun.  105mm to take position to cover both village and bridge, with artillery HQ.

Turn 5. (approx).  Infantry Regimental HQ, SP 20mm Flak, 150mm Howitzer with 1/2 track & supply truck, Bicycle Infantry Company.

Orders.  Artillery to take position with 105mm battery.  Infantry to move to village and then towards the river line taking defensive posture.  SP Flak gun to take post at crossroads.

Turn 13. (approx). 1 Infantry Company and 2 Rifle Platoons, 3 Pioneer platoons (one with flamethrowers).

Orders. To move towards village or river line as the situation demands.

Turn 17. (approx). 1 Infantry Company.  To be deployed as the situation demands.”

I played this game using my amended memoir 44 rules. The main changes, apart from weapon capabilities for 1940, were to the order structure. Memoir 44 is a card-driven game and players’ orders are restricted by the cards they have in their hand at each turn. Both sides were restricted further due to the fact that they initially had troops only in a limited sector of the battlefield, so cards ordering troops in the left, right or centre sectors could be useless. The number of cards issued to each player was equal to the number of HQ and Radio truck units available added to the number of flags rolled with all eight battle dice. As it happened, neither side rolled any flags, and so the cards were 5 to the British and 3 to the Germans.

Because I was using 3-D terrain (incidentally the models are from Odzial Osmy’s 3mm range and the terrain hexagons are based on Warbases’ 6cm hexagon MDF tiles), the deployment of model bases could not be the same as in the board game. I therefore decided that each base would form a “unit” in M44 terms for all combat purposes, but that for orders, each campaign unit would be treated as a “unit”.  Example: 8/RTS (8th Royal Tank Squadron – reduced scale from 8th Royal Tank Regiment) had three models, representing 1st, 2nd and 3rd troops. Each model could fire individually and take three hits before being destroyed. However, they could be deployed in separate hexagons, but commanded as one unit.

I also expanded the “Command Car” rule to include radio trucks, so that the potential orders in any one sector could be increased. This all helped to limit the sometimes stilted nature of the game where units with clear orders can fail to move for several turns while attention is diverted elsewhere according to the turn of the card.

And so to the battle. I kept a track of the time for each turn (1 average die x minutes per player turn) but will not report it as it seems disruptive to the narrative.

(Note: due to automatic corrective text editing, the expression “anti-tank” has been rendered as “Ant-tank” several times.  Apologies.)

Also the reference to 6th Dorsets in the narrative should be 6th Devonshire Battalion.

Word version:

battle-report-11-bilsington-17-sep-0930-1300battle-report-11-bilsington-17-sep-0930-1300

PDF version

battle-report-11-bilsington-17-sep-0930-1300

1/600 Forests

As part of my Operation Sealion campaign, the latest battle calls for 39 hexagons of fir tree forest.

Because of the number of units involved in this engagement I decided to play it in 3mm or 1/600 scale.

And so I began my forest construction.  My first priority is playability and my second is that it should look reasonably realistic.  In my terrain design I had to allow for the insertion of WW2 bases of 15 x 10 mm and earlier (2mm) periods of 60 x 5 mm.

The first step was to use my hexagon tiles bought from Warbases, and then to add trees purchased from Busch.  Many of the Busch trees were far too large for my game, so I adapted them.  The first step was to cut the top half from the tree and use it as a separate tree.  The remainder was trimmed with scissors to form a second tree. Then the trunk  was cut to the minimum level to facilitate glue adhesion.   Occasionally a brush of dark green paint to the exposed wire on the top of the cut down tree was needed, after the trees were attached using a large dollop of “very sticky glue”, available from “The Works” or “Hobbycraft” in the UK.

3mm-forest-models-01

This photo shows: a Warbases hexagon base, two bases after painting with Basetex, a small tree and a large tree, the large tree separated into two, and finally the two trees made from one large tree ready to affix.

And here is a view of the 39 hexagons drying out on my bookshelf (most of them appallingly out of focus, because the picture is taken with a smartphone).  The out of focus technique prevents fellow gamers from reviewing my book collection and comparing it with their own.

forests-on-bookshelf

I will post a view of the finished battlefield soon.

NB “soon” is a wargamer’s term approximating to the Devon/Cornish term “Directly” or the Spanish “Mañana”.  i.e. “When I get around to it”

 

 

 

An engagement at Postling

Continuing the saga of Operation Sealion, it is now 10:00 am on 17th September 1940 and British reinforcements moving towards Lympne run into a German Parachute Battalion near Postling.

Here is the battle report.  In hindsight it appears from the photographs that the spitfire mentioned in the report is actually a hurricane, but as far as the Germans were concerned it felt like a spitfire!

Word document: battle-report-j-postling-17-sep-1000-1200

PDF: battle-report-j-postling-17-sep-1000-1200

 

 

Recent activity

So, what have I been up to since my last posting?

Apart from spending five days at Blenheim Palace for the horse trials (see facebook post from my dog:  https://www.facebook.com/paul.wisken.7/posts/953008101487847?notif_t=like&notif_id=1473884147211044), during which I drafted the rules for my new game “Bomber”,  I have been painting models and constructing terrain.

For Bomber I have been painting up 14 1/600 Lancaster bombers and some 1/1000 buildings.  At the same time I have painted 5 GHQ 1/285 Shermans and about two dozen 30mm Plastic Spencer Smith Grenadiers.  I also painted two regiments of 6mm MDF figures for ny “in period” Napoleonic games.

My new method of getting things done is to leave new purchases on the painting table until they are ready, even if I have moved on to a new interest while waiting for delivery of the models.

For the ongoing Operation Sealion campaign I have made some new hexagon tiles for the engagement at Postling (see the image with this post).  Several new hedged roads were needed for this scenario.

So, what for the future?

More MDF figures to be painted, mainly cavalry.  Bombers to be finished, and JU88 night fighters to be started.  many more 1/1000 buildings to be painted and based.  Rules for Bomber to be playtested.

Defence of Lympne Airfield 17 Sept 1940

The latest action in my PBEM campaign of Operation Sealion – the German invasion of Britain in 1940.  The campaign is fought using the rules supplied by S-2 Shop Productions, which is a useful guide with orders of battle, but also has several failings in accuracy.

Background:  At 01:00 on 17th September 1940 3rd Fallschirmjaeger Battalion landed and captured Lympne Airfield in Kent.  The attached reports document the first British counter-attack.

I have created the report in a PDF format for quick viewing and also a Word document for those who wish to view the photographs in greater detail.

Word  Battle report K Lympne 17 Sep 0920 – 1140

PDF  Battle report K Lympne 17 Sep 0920 – 1140