Getting the look right

Sometimes I play my wargames with mediocre models on mediocre terrain, but not often.

Nowadays a lot of my games are played using home-produced gaming tokens on a recycled board game map.  I would like to spend more time creating good terrain with good models, but I seem to have to many irons in the fire.

However, when I do play a “proper” game with 6mm models, I like to get the look of the thing as good as I can.  For example, this is from an e-mail campaign of Operation Sealion, the German invasion of Britain in 1940.

The German player was sent three “postcards” before the game, on the basis that they had been found for sale in the post office at Lewes, captured the previous evening.  These photographs are taken directly from the 1:285 scale wargame table.  Only the “sky” has been blurred to remove the background shed planking.



Measure twice – cut once!

Recently I have been working on how to use  Bob Cordery’s gridded wargame systems with my 6mm toys.

I have spray-painted and gridded a small cork board (already painted and gridded on the other side for another game).  I have been trying to find a way to satisfactorily reduce (or bathtub) large battles such as Blenheim into a grid of 18 x 12 squares.  Previous efforts at this sort of thing can be seen here.

From my viewpoint there is one major problem.  A battle like this has three or four villages that must be occupied.  If you put houses (a house?) in the square at this scale there is insufficient room for troops.

Yesterday I remembered the pictures I had seen in Chris Kemp’s ‘Not Quite Mechanised’ blog, where he uses something looking like cinema flats across the sides of the squares to represent towns.

I decided to create some outline towns in a similar method, using the 3d printer.  I also had the same idea for woods that could be occupied by troop blocks.

I use the free online site Tinkercad to create my models.  I created a trial town with terraced gables on a 40mm x 40mm base with a 2mm “wall” depth, and a similar woodland with greater depth to the trees.

After a few hours printing the town I was quite pleased with the result until I tried it on the board – and realised my squares are 30mm x 30mm!  Doh!

I immediately cancelled the woodland print half-way through, but realised that I can use the resulting half-model, inverted and cut into pieces,  to make 6mm gabions on a parapet.

So I reduced the size to 75% and tried again.  This time I was not impressed with the result and the wood was too small to accept a troop base.

And thus I started all over again.  This time I think it will work.  The woods need to be filed on the inside to insert the troops on a 2cm 2cm base.

Below are the undercoated pieces (and some fresh from the printer) awaiting detail painting.  I think that once the houses are painted in a variety of brick, stone or render shades, maybe with some half-timbering detail, they will do the job.

Front row, left to right:  original 40mm print, reduced 30mm print with command unit, typical “Blenheim” infantry unit, redesigned 30mm print.

Second row, left to right:  inverted half-printed piece (now destined as gabions), 30mm outline wood (too small), redesigned outline wood.

Third row, left to right:  hexagonal outline town, Heroscape tile for this town.

I may decide to make models of only two sides (3 sides for hexagonal towns) so that larger built-up areas can be constructed.

We shall see.  Far more pressing projects await.  Little lead men keep screaming at me in incredibly high-pitched voices things like: “I love the hat boss, but can you PLEASE get round to the breeches?!”



A storage solution

Over the last few years I have bought several of Richard Borg’s games based on the “Commands & Colors” format.  These games contain a lot of cardboard terrain hexagon tiles, but are not very good at providing storage for them, particularly once one begins to acquire expansion sets.

My particular bug-bear is Memoir’44, which does provide storage boxes, but made in a way that makes the tiles difficult to extract, and they are quite flimsy.

And so I have pressed my 3d printer into service, and using the online free design program “Tinkercad”. I have created my own boxes.

Each of these holds 36 double-sided tiles, and should fit nicely into a Really Useful Box (we shall see when I have printed enough of them).  I might get organised enough to label them, but that’s a job for another day!

The downside is that each one takes over four hours to print.

When I have enough of these I will try making boxes for the rectangular terrain elements like bridges and bunkers, and maybe even circular ones for the counters.

Arnhem Rail Bridge part 2

18th September 1944, 12:00

Situation:  3rd Polish Parachute Battalion (3 PP) and 7th Battalion King’s Own Scottish Borderers (7KOSB) had joined forces across the rail bridge west of Arnhem.  Two companies of 3rd Panzer Grenadier Battalion, 9th SS Panzer Division (3/9SS) were still holding out in bunkers at each end of the bridge.  A flight of German fighters was threatening the allied troops.

General Urquhart sent his congratulations and ordered that the remaining enemy troops in the bunkers be eliminated.

Forces.  7KOSB.  3 companies, 10 platoons.  3PP. 4 companies, 14 platoons, including 2 mortars and 1 HQ.  3/9SS. 2 companies, 7 platoons.

Turn 1. 12:00

7KOSBs – Move Out (4 infantry units)  The three companies moved to positions to close assault the northern pill box.  A. 2 infantry. 2 hits  B. 1 infantry, 1 star. 1 hit. Unit eliminated and pill box captured.

3/9SS – Behind Enemy Lines.  Fighters left the table with no appropriate command card.  The company in the south bunker made a break-out.  Moved 1hex,  attacked a Polish rifle company in a defended position. 1 flag, so Poles retreat.  Moved 3 +1 for the road and exited the board, so a successful break-out was acheived.

Casualties.  Germans: 2 of 14=14%.  Allies: none.

Arnhem Rail Bridge18/09/1944

Despite spending over a month preparing my terrain and 6mm specialist infantry bases for this game, bad weather forced me to play it indoors as a board game.

Five companies of SS Panzer Grenadiers were defending the rail bridge.

They were attacked simultaneously by four companies of Polish parachute infantry from the south and three companies of British glider infantry from the north.


The Poles (at the bottom of the picture) were represented by Russian tokens and the British (at top right) by US tokens.

Because of the peculiar nature of this game, and with the Anglo-Polish side suffering communication difficulties and a potential language barrier I played this game with three independent sides.  Each nationality received one command card for each company.  All troops were rated as elite (Special Forces rules apply.)

Both the Germans and Poles were cut off from their supply base, so a reduction of 1 die was applied for any distant shooting.  The Poles had the benefit of two mortar platoons.  I ruled that if a grenade (1/6 chance) was rolled when attacking a bridge hex with HE, then a second roll of a grenade would damage the section.

The battle would end when either side scored 3 Victory Points for destruction of enemy unts.

Order of play was British, Germans, Poles.

Turn 1. 11:00

British.  Assault left flank (all 3 companies)

The 3 rifle companies manoeuvred to a position from whence they could all fire at the German company defending the end of the bridge at 2 hexes (500m) range.

2 dice per company.  A. 2 tanks rolled, no hits.  B. 2 flags rolled = 2 retreats. Enemy fell back onto the bridge.  The retreat was then blocked by friendly troops, so one platoon was lost. C. (Reduced to 1 die tue to increased range). Grenade = 1 hit.

Germans. Assault Centre (all 5 companies).

The company at the south end of the bridge fired at the advancing Poles at 2 hexes range.  2 dice -1 for short supply. Grenade = 1 hit.   The company in the bunker were unable to shoot at the enemy at 3 hexes range due to the need to conserve ammunition.  At the north end of the bridge the company that had been driven back moved forward again and fired at the enemy infantry on the river bank.  1 die. Grenade = 1 hit.  The company on the centre of the bridge moved to the north end and shot at the same enemy company.  1 die.  Tank was a miss.

Poles. Probe Center. (2 units).  HQ increased this to 3 units. The Two flanking rifle companies moved forwards through the polder.  Three companies fired at the German company in the open at the south end of the bridge.  A. At 3 hexes, no firing, conserving ammunition.  B. At 2 hexes, 1 die due to ammo restrictions. Tank was no hits.  C. At 2 hexes, Star was no hits.

Turn 2, 11:10

British. General Advance. (2 in each sector, all 3 companies included).  A. Shooting at 2 hexes. 2 dice, Infantry, Tank = 1 hit.  B. Shooting at 2 hexes. Infantry, Tank = 1 hit.  German unit eliminated. 1 VP.  C. Shooting at 3 hexes, Infantry = 1 hit.

Germans.  Recon Center. 1 unit +2 on the move.  Company at south end of bridge shoots at nearest Poles at 2 hexes, 1 die. Star is a miss.

Poles. Dig In. All 4 units improved their defensive positions.


Turn 3. 11:20

British. Probe Center ( 2 units).   Two companies fired at enemy in the open at 2 hexes.  A. 1 grenade, 1 flag.  1 hit, 1 retreat.  B. 1 grenade. 1 hit.

German. Air Sortie played with Left Flank.  One fighter arrived on the left flank. Air check rolled tank, so the aircraft was OK.

Poles. Recon Center.  The centre company  fired at the enemy unit in the open defending the bridge.  At 2 hexes, 1 die. Grenade was a hit.

Turn 4. 11:30

British. Probe left flank.  One company made a close assault on the German bunker at the north of the bridge.  A second company advanced to the north of the bridge and fires at the company on the bridge.  A. Close assault vs bunker. 2 dice. grenade, star. 1 hit.  B. Shooting vs infantry in open at 3 hexes.  1 die. star was a miss.

German. Probe Left Flank used for Luftwaffe support.  Moved 4 hexes east.  No target available.

Poles. Assault Centre.  3 companies advanced to contact. Close assault, left company.  2 dice, 1 hit.  Centre company. 2 dice, 1 hit, 1 retreat. Germans fell back onto bridge, Poles took ground.  Right company. Vs bunker 1 die. No effect.

Turn 4. 11:40

British. Firefight. 4 units not adjacent, +1 die.  Centre Company at 3 hexes vs bunker was 1 die. Tank was no hits.  Left company at 3 hexes is 2 dice. Flag, star was 1 retreat, but retreat was blocked.  1 platoon lost, unit eliminated.

German.  Direct from HQ. Ordered all 3 infantry and 1 LW unit.  LW. Air check OK.  Strafing missed.  Unit in N Bunker.  2 dice at 1 hex.  1 hit.  S. End of bridge. 2 dice at 1 hex. 1 hit.  Bunker at S. end. 2 dice ar 1 hex. 1 retreat.

Poles. Recon in force.  1 unit each section, increased to 2 units center for HQ.   Left company. 1 die. 1 hit.  Centre company. 2 dice, 1 hit.  Unit eliminated.  Poles took the bridge.


Losses:  British.  2 of 12 = 17%  Poles. 2 of 16 = 13%  Germans. 13 of 20 = 65%

But the Germans still hold pill boxes in company strength at both ends of bridge, even if the allies hold the bridge itself.  We shall see what progresss…

Rethinking my priorities

For some time now I have been running a WW2 play-by-email campaign with five “generals”. The original idea was to give them a strategic game which would provide me with some interesting tabletop solo wargames.

However, I have become too bogged down in getting the visual depiction correct and this has slowed down the execution of the big game.

And so, in the recent spate of bad weather which banned me from both the gaming and painting sheds I had a re-think.

The campaign will now progress somewhat faster and individual engagements will probably be fought as board games or simple tabletop wargames without the frills.

I have already played as a board game the expected table-top game that took more than a month to set up, of which more later…

A Small Success

Today I finally managed to find a box in the attic that has been hidden for four years, despite numerous attempts to locate it.

When I retired in 2014 I determined to acquire a lot of the stuff from my 1960s and 1970s wargaming years.

One thing tbat I saw in several books (mainly those written by Charles Grant Snr.) was the Merit Alder Tree.  This was at the time both normally outside my pocket money and also never actually seen in our local model store.  I did manage to buy a few Merit poplar trees and a few Roco fir trees as substitutes, but I never owned an alder tree.

So, when I retired I scoured eBay for Merit trees and other stuff of the period.  I managed to get a decent number of these trees together, based them on MDF and boxed them up for future use, then stuck them in a corner of the loft and lost them.

This is at least the fourth search, but the Holy Grail has at last been found.

After some re-glueing, the forest amounts to 27 trees: