Monday, January 14, 2019

Chain of Command and What a Tanker - Russian Front 1941, scenarios and buildings

Terrain

When I try to set deadlines for myself in completing projects, I find myself trying to do anything else but what I need to do. For my Second Battle of Kharkov supplement, I have no need of a large urban church. So I worked on a large urban church yesterday. Actually, that was quite fun. I am using the Church of the Dormition in Kharkov as the inspiration for the church. What this church has is a number of Greek/Roman accents. There are false pillars along the walls and that triangular thing at the roof. This presented a problem as the angle of the roof was much steeper than what I want to model. I am solving this by creating a false front that will have the columns and the triangular top piece that will overlay the existing structure and cover the existing roof angle. This will provide enough additional height to allow the doors and the stained glass windows to be visible with the false front attached.

That is the plan for the bottom floor. Next will be the tower. I haven't figured out what I want to do. The church of the Dormition is a two story structure while my TTCombat building is a single story structure in a cruciform shape. The Dormition church is in more of a 'T' Shape. This does not bother me that much. The goal is to resemble and not duplicate.

The steeple structures are radically different. The base level of the steeple of the Dormition was a square shape which is good as that is the shape that I have for the TTCombat church. But again, the angle of the roof is wrong. This will have to be corrected with a false front again and a new roof structure. This will be from thick card or cardboard. The biggest change will be the top of the steeple. I have a small onion dome from a paper terrain church. It is a nifty wooden one. The only thing it lacks is a coptic cross to put on the top. It came silver but I will probably repaint it gold. The junction between the steeple roof and the onion dome is something I have not figured out yet.

To help with the project, I am photocopying the parts. Then drawing the facade over the top of the photo copies. I can then photocopy that as much as I need to and use it as a template to cut out the parts I need from the cardboard sheeting. Well, that is the thought at this stage of things.

Scenarios

And instead of writing new scenarios, I started to look at old ones. One thing that I intend to include in the SBoK Supplement is a guide for What a Tanker themed games for the battle. The 3rd Panzer Divisions counter attack on the Soviet columns had a number of encounters that would work in either Chain of Command or in What a Tanker. In some places, the rolling advance of the 3rd Panzer almost lends itself to What a Tanker even better than Chain of Command as there were a number of pure armor encounters.

The problem is that the Soviets were in trouble by this point. Short of fuel, ammo and food, the Soviet tanks could not be as aggressive as they had been just a few days earlier at the start of the campaign where they encountered no German tanks. That reminded me of a scenario that I had written for one of the first encounters by the Germans with Soviet T-34 tanks on June 23rd, 1941. Soviet T-34s of the 10th Tank Division ran into a patrol of five tanks from the 15th Panzer Regiment.

Anyway, I don't want to give up the story here. If anyone is interested in a copy of this scenario, please give me an email and I will mail it to you. Even better, if you want the scenario and one of my Chain of Command books (Campaign for Kharkov or In the Name of Roma), I will knock 50% off of the scenario book if you email me that you found this here. This will not work with the buy it now buttons here nor on Wargame Vault or Amazon. (Just too lazy to integrate them.) Just directly through me. You can reach out to me through the contact me on the "talk to Me" form on the left of this post.

Also, I would love to hear play tests of this scenario. I am planning to run a couple myself in the near future. I'd love to hear back from you on how they worked. The terrain is tricky since it is just one big hill with lots of undulations to hide tanks in.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Happy New Year

As 2019 starts to rumble forward, I have started to look at what it is I want to accomplish hobby wise. My Number 1 project by far is the Second Battle of Kharkov. I have the first of two pint sized campaigns ironed out. I am working on terrain for it and want to get it published by the end of first quarter of this year.

But implementation of this great plan is foundering. I managed to sit for a whole 5 minutes at my painting table yesterday. Didn't even pick up a brush. But I did have some ideas on how to improve the next building that I am going to work on. So that is something.

I really want to get my 3d printer back on-line. I have managed to break it and am not sure what to do. Finding anyone who can repair it in the wilds of Georgia is a challenge. I backed another kickstarter by 3d-Print-Terrain that has some really useful pieces. 1st and foremost is the east front train and engine shed. Each of his kickstarters is 40 euro to get the full deal. This one had over 24 line items in it. In some cases that is multiple models per line item. It is well worth the price. He also takes requests during the course of the kickstarter and adds similarly themed items in as you go. A great deal (if you can get your 3d printer working).

My Christmas present to myself was a book purchase on Amazon, the Kindle Edition of Dave Grossman's On Killing. This is very interesting and it covers the psychology of killing in combat. What intrigues me is his interviews with veterans and the tendency of the average soldier to not want to kill a fellow human. That the tendency is to fire high as aggressive posturing rather than eliminating the threat. The book has really captured my interest with the historical examples and application going back as far as the early 1700s. I'm most interested in how this plays out on the table top using Sharp Practice and Chain of Command. The weapons employed can easily do the job at the distances used in the games. It is the application of those weapons by soldiers that leads to the variability of hits. So far, I think both rule sets are handling this well. Some of the statistics he quotes on the number of rounds fired to hits on the enemy seem crazy high but are well documented. Anyway, it is a fascinating read so far.

Anyway, I wish you all a Happy New year full of cheer. Take care everyone.

Monday, December 17, 2018

A little bit of Painting

I sat down in front of my newly cleaned up work bench and decided to do something about the stacks of MDF terrain that is sitting on my desk for my upcoming 2nd Kharkov Campaign. The intent is to have all of the terrain and figures needed done by the time I finish the scenarios.

Anyway, I started work on one of the new Wild Lands Store miniatures. I took one of the one story more urbanish buildings to start with . I also grabbed a log building from another manufacturer, Things From the Basement and went with that as well.

One thing I have been doing is watching the wonderful posts that TooFatLardies has done on their blogs about terrain making. I agree with all of his concerns about MDF buildings. I wanted to add details to it to provide a more 3 dimensional look to the building. Because of the details on the model, I struggled to cut out anything that would match up with it and look decent. I probably needed a better cutting tool and I would have been fine. But instead, I just started to paint and see what happened.

The first item was to clean up the Wild Lands building.

After cleaning the dust off of the parts, I glued it together and wrapped it in a rubber band to stay together.

And then I fiddled with the roof and glued it together.

One thing I don't like about MDF buildings is the seam on the roof. It is always visible. It makes the building look like it will leak in a rain. and I think they are ugly that way. So I took a piece of paper that I had laying around and cut a strip and glued it over the top like a piece of roofing flashing(?). I am 90% sure I have the term wrong as can be.

I also tried to caulk the lugs where the roof fit to the roof support to mask them when painted. I am pretty sure I did a horrible job of that.. But while waiting for that mess to try, I Brought out one of the Things Under the Basement 15mm buildings and tried to help it along. It was way to small for me to fool with paper to try to fix the roof. Instead, like any general contractor, if there is a gap, caulk it. I caulked the roof line and around the chimney. The verdict is still out if this will work the way I want it to.

Next, I primed both of these black with gesso. Why my auto-correct wants to go with gestapo, I have no idea. I am sometimes impatient. I did the roof of the larger building first. I wanted to go with a tin roof. I mixed up some gray paint and slapped it on. it looks OK now but when I add some streaks of rust to stain it, it should look better.

I really wanted to get on with painting the building and finish something before my sinus infection took me out for the rest of the day. But the dang paint was not dry yet. Yet, there on the corner of my painting table was this big package from TT Combat. A large 15mm church! Now the church is designed to be more of a western cross shaped church. It is generic enough and with few details that it could be used in Normandy or Spain or possibly in the US. But, it lacks a bunch of details which is the cool part. I can modify it to be something else. And that is what I want to do.

In the campaign Action at Ustilug and in the First Kharkov Campaign, I have a large church present on the table. However, in 15mm, all of the east front churches are more like small chapels. They take up the same table space as a peasant hovel. How were they supposed to handle even a village worth of people? You could only fit 10 in there if it was one guy with multiple personalities. This building is significant and would make an excellent base for a structure like the Church of the Dormition in Kharkov.

The building will be loosely based on the above. I will add a stepple to it with an onion dome on top. Here is what I am working with.

In the second picture you can see the onion dome that I am looking to use. It came from a Paper Terrain kit that I purchased and never built. This is a longer term project that will see me redo the roof considerably. The pieces dry fit well. The kit had sat in a cupboard for so long that a corner of the base was cracked. But not so much that it messed up the kit.

Then I tried to paint to paint the building, I rushed it and the paint hadn't dried completely. But I have a mostly acceptable first coat.

By the time I got this far, I was worn out and needed to rest. I might try to paint some more this week but that is doubtful. Anyway, they are proving to be nicely made buildings. Note: I changed the pictures to instead of sharing from my google Drive to physically uploaded pictures. Hopefully this helps.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Wild Lands Store Update

I finally broke open the package I got from them and started to work on the buildings. I put together two of the similar ones. The first was a two story building and the second was a single story version of the same building (to my eyes at least). I dry fit them and they are very snug. These are well made and are simple to assemble. These is significant detail that is etched on to the building but that detail may be lost in how I intend to build them. The details do provide me with some ideas on making some card stock details to glue over the etched details. This should make them look less flat. The roofs are removable. There is room for figures in the buildings. There are two brick buildings as well that are assembled in a similar fashion. The assembly is simple.

These need to get some paint on them as soon as possible. They are too nice to leave alone.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

More Terrain - Wild Land Store

While cruising through Facebook the other day, I ran across a company called Wild Land Store. These guys seem to operate exclusively from Facebook without a separate web page or store. He has some very nice eastern front terrain for sale in 15mm. Most of their terrain is geared towards 28mm. He stated that I was the first to order any 15mm from him in years. Which is a shame because they are really nice models. They required payment through something I had never heard of before Transferwire. The payment interface was not the easiest to use. But even i was able to mostly figure it out.

Today I received the buildings. What I bought was:
wooden house - 3,27
brick house 2 floors - 6.45
the house is not brick 2 floors - 7.66
brick house 1 floor - 3.76
the house is not brick 1 floor - 4.43
ruins1 - 3
ruins 2 - 3,56
factory ruins - 4.33
telephone poles 10 - 2.46

The prices were very reasonable. If all goes well, I will be working on these before Christmas. They are sharp looking buildings that were shipped flat packed. As a stamp collector, I was very pleased to see that he shipped it with actual stamps instead of the usual postal sticker we are seeing more and more of.

Here are some of the images he sent me of the buildings in our PM on Facebook.

He is operating out of the Ukraine. If you do 15mm terrain, please give him a try.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Gigabytes Historical Games Day - Part 3

Unfortunately, I didn't get much of a chance to look around. There were some wonderful games going on around me. Right next to me was a large game of Chain of Command set in the Spanish Civil War. It was a 28mm game and looked great and the players all were having a good time.

These were the only pictures I got of the game. With the windows behind it, the picture turned out horribly.

There was a pirate game using Blood and Plunder (I think) in 28mm that had some nice but large ships.

Mark had a game of Wings of Glory with a balloon busting scenario on hand. I really wanted to play this but didn't have time. He also ran a Coastal Patrol game that I really wanted to play but again, no time.

There was a Team Yankee game that I got a picture of him starting his set up. It was taken down by the time I got to wander again.

Right next to me was one of the two other Sharp Practice games that was ran that day. This was using elements of Sharply Buffed. It was set in the Netherlands and looked really good.

Mark ran a third Sharp Practice game featuring the Seminole Indian Wars. It was fantastic but apparently, I took no pictures of it. There was also a gladiator game with a fantastic arena setup. My phone was at the table and I saw it waiting to order some food before my blood sugar completely collapsed. There was rumors of another chain of command game. And some other stuff I never saw.

Again, thank you to William for setting this up. I hope we can make this a regular event.

Gigabytes Historical Game Day - Part 2: Sharp Practice

Once the Kiss Me Hardy game wrapped up, I managed to get the table reset for a game of Sharp Practice. This one was a Napoleonic game based on the Dewey Lambdin Book, Troubled Waters.

In the book, Captain Alan Lewrie, RN, is in command of a small squadron. These include sloops, schooners and cutters below the rate. In the course of the book, he is dealing with spies as he operates off the coast of France. Near the town of Royan, there is a battery of guns guarding the mouth of an estuary that protects the river leading to the port of Bordeaux. A fort is being constructed at Royan but is not yet operational. Lewrie hatches a plan to take out the battery and then move on and destroy the fort that is under construction.

This is where the scenario picks up the action. Lewrie has commanded two of his vessels to land a force of marines and sailors to attack the battery. Guarding the battery is a small group of voltigeurs from a light battalion situated in the town of Royan. The battalion has sent out strong parties of men to search the coast for British sailors that have been getting water and firewood recently.

The sailors are from the a schooner and a sloop that are anchored off of the coast. The marines are from Lewrie's flagship.

The game had two British players and two French players. The British made good progress getting their men headed to the shore. They had three larger rowboats and two smaller ones. This enabled them to land their entire force without having to return to the ships. One group of marines, however, had some issues moving and remained stranded in the water with the one rowboat armed with a gun.

The French deployed their voltigeurs to block the British advance on the gun and opened ineffectual fire on the seamen on the shore. In return, Both the musket armed seamen and the schooner opened fire on these troops and basically neutralized them for the rest of the game.

The French sent out a runner to get reinforcements from the town this was accomplished quickly, but the reinforcements were distracted by the tavern in the village as they spent several turns there.

The next French reinforcement was in the form of three groups of chasseurs that arrived in the top left corner of the table. These troops deployed in a line and advanced through the woods. They lost formation and were picked apart by the marines and the guns from the the sloop.

By the time the second group of marines landed and the gunboat moved off, the French force morale was largely broken. The force from Royan barely played a part as their cards didn't show up before the Tiffin card until toward the end of the game. The French did have their own naval vessel arrive in the form of a single gun gunboat. This opened fire on the schooner and caused some damage but not enough to make a difference.

It was a fun game and played in 15mm. The ships were Sea Dog Studios models with three of the rowboats being Old Glory models. It was a fun game but probably needed some adjustments. Swapping the arrival order of the chasseurs and the gunboat may have helped. That would have distracted the ships from the infantry.

Originally the scenario was going to make the French vessel a small 4-gun sloop but I ran out of time to paint it. The gunboat, I think, proved to be a better help as it was equipped with a heavy gun.

Giga Historical Games Day - Part One of Three

Saturday, November 10, 2018 was a historical games day at Gigabytes Cafe in Marrietta, Georgia. William Thorpe did a fantastic job or organizing and getting games lined up for the entire day. He even got sponsors to donate prizes for a raffle that we were doing. Very impressed. He almost had the games running on time, but given the material he was working with (me included) that was asking too much of the poor man.

Starting at 10am I didn't leave until 7pm when my games finished and I was able to pack up. It was a great but exhausting day.

It was a terrific event and it was used as a fundraiser for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. From what I gather, there were 16 games that went on throughout the day. I hosted two games: a Kiss Me Hardy variant and a Sharp Practice game. In both games I had a full table of participants and they were at least kind enough to pretend they were having a good time for my benefit. :) Well I had a great time anyway. I also did a poor job of getting pictures of the games as they developed. Half the time I just forgot and the other half the pictures were questionable.

The first game was a five player game of Kiss Me Hardy using some modifications that I made for ships under the rate. It was a quasi-historical scenario based on actions of the Georgia and South Carolina State Navies in the American Revolution.

The game began with a merchant brig anchored in the center of the table. This is a Sea Dog Studios 6mm Brigantine model. The dots that you notice on this mat are markings from an attempt to make a hex mat on the reverse side of the felt for a game of Bag the Hun. It taught me to never make my own hex sheet.

To the southwest corner was a sloop from the Georgia Navy named the John B. As for the name, I am sorry, I couldn't help myself. During the game, I only heard one passerby groan when they noticed the name so I am guessing there is a dwindling number of Beach Boy fans left. The John B was a six gunned sloop armed with 6-6pdr guns. This model is a Sea Dog Studios 6mm Bermuda Sloop.

In the Northwestern corner was two small vessels from the South Carolina State Navy - the Defiance and the Liberty. Both were actual ship names but applied to different vessels. The Liberty was actually the name of a Georgia sloop. Both were very small vessels. The Defiance had a single gun in the bow and a stern gun on a pivot. The Liberty was a pilot boat with a single bow gun. Both of these miniatures are from Langton Miniatures 1/300th scale Napoleonic line. One is a armed ships's launch and the other is a British Gunboat. Excellent models that my painting does not do justice to.

To the Northeast was a Royal Navy galley Tamar. The Tamar was the name of an actual RN sloop that was very active off the coast of South Carolina but it was most certainly not a galley. It was a galley for this scenario as I didn't have a chance to make the ship that would have corresponded to it. It was an eight gunned vessel with 8-4pdr guns. No individual photos of this ship. But in the later pics, she is the only one with lanteen sails. This is a Warartisan paper model.

The last ship actually matched it's historical counterpart. The RN schooner St John. The St John had an extremely active career in the Revolution. It was involved in a number of actions including the Rebel raid on Nassau. It was armed with 12-4pdrs. It started in the southeastern corner of the table. Another model I don't have a good picture of. Which is just as well as I have dropped it at least 4 times and had to reattach its topsails and equal number of times. It is a WarArtisan paper model. Not the ONLY thing that happened to it when it was dropped from about 4' from the ground is the loss of one or two topsails that were fixed with the application of superglue. In the instructions, it mentions that rigging the ship makes it stronger. This is 100% true. Where I have rigging, it is much sturdier. I ran out of time to complete the job.

At the start of the game, the wind was blowing to the east which confounded the Royal Navy in moving towards the merchantman. The Rebels were able to move with great ease and quickly moved to intercept the merchantman.

The Liberty took a scenic tour through the rocks. One of the things I missed was pointing out that there was shoal water surrounding the rocks. The Liberty was so shallow drafted that it wouldn't have mattered anyway. But she shot through the rocks and spent a good amount of the game out of the action until the end.

One of the items that I was trying out was rules for "Flying False Flags". The Rebels weren't operating in a coordinated fashion as the Georgia Navy didn't know that the South Carolina Navy would even be there. The Royal Navy wasn't sure what any of the ships were. The Tamar and the St John were aware of each other, though. So I had a system of spotting test to determine friend from foe. It worked out mostly well. With the close confines of the space we had availible, it was obvious to the players who was who, but they were game for whatever the dice showed. Everyone was able to avoid a friendly fire incident but only just barely.

This run out of the rules with someone other than my 10 year old was very valuable. The early moves of the game can seem very slow. I am thinking of adding an optional rule to allow the first turn to be conducted in Inches rather than Centimeters to allow the ships to get into action faster. Also, the strike system needs to be adjusted from the base Kiss Me Hardy rules as no one passed a strike test during the game.

This shot is toward the end of the game where the John B has taken the Merchantman and was starting to be pummeled into submission by the St John. You can see the Liberty has made a come back and would sail circles around the St John before fleeing the table.

The scenario played out well. The Defiance menaced the St John for a while but one broadside put an end to her. Not unexpected for such a tiny vessel (a sailed ship's launch). The Tamar was beaten by the John B (turns out a father v son battle with the son as victor). The Tamar struck and had lost a mast in the fighting.

The John B went on to take the merchantman that had started to flee. Once the Merchantman was on its way to safety, the John B and the St John has a quick engagement that forced the John B to strike to the superior gunnery of the St John.

With the Liberty as the last Rebel vessel on the waters, their victory conditions assured by the merchantman's escape, it deftly dodged the St John's best efforts and escaped.

It was a well fought game. Top honors went to the captain of the St John who was our youngest player at the table. He was also a son of the Tamar's Captain as well. He captured two Rebel vessels and re-secured the Tamar. The Rebels also counted the action as a victory as they absconded with the gunpowder.

Rewarding his gallant victory, the captain of the St John was awarded with a 6mm Sea Dog Studios Bermuda Sloop. Ironically, the same model as the John B sailed by his brother who he happened to capture. (Players forgive me if I get this wrong) The St John was captained by Collin. The Tamar was captained by Tim. Jake was captain of the John B. Jim was captain of the Liberty and Chris (not me) was the captain of the Defiance.

One of the things I have noticed, is that I rarely take pictures of the gamer's during events. After Terry Haney's passing, this became evident as I went through a bunch of pictures of our games together and I didn't find a single picture of Terry among them. This one I hesitated to take since it involved a minor but I asked his Dad for permission. I wanted to show Brian over at Sea Dog the recipient of the prize.

I am going to stop for now and make another post on the Sharp Practice game and a third on the other events as this is starting to get long. Thanks again, William for a great event. I came so close to winning the raffle twice. :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

2018 Santa Clause Update

This year time completely slipped past me and I missed out on getting this started. I just don't think I have time to organize it this year. Which is unfortunate as it was one of my favorite parts of the season. I have always enjoyed seeing what people came up with for their recipient.

So as a result, I am not going to host it this year. But I do intend to restart it next year again. It was too much fun to cancel completely. I am sorry for the late notice and cancellation.

Friday, September 21, 2018

1940 French for Chain of Command

I had a chance to make a break for it and check out my troops. Honestly, I was in much better shape than I thought I was in. I have an entire infantry platoon painted including the VB launcher team. The downside is nothing is based. That is not too bad as I can do the whole force at once to ensure they look the same.

Next up I needed to know what types of supports that I had. Going through the support list for the regular platoon I founr that I had quite a few items already painted. In terms of troops, I had six, Renault R35s, one FT-17 w/ 37mm gun, two 25mm AT Guns and crews, a 60mm Mortar and crew, a 75mm infantry gun, a pair of Hotchkiss MMGs, a forward observer team, and two 47mm anti-tank guns. I was pretty impressed with what I had availible.

None of the tanks that I have area actually painted. I have been intimidated by camouflage schemes. I will have to press on and get those done. I also have some Char B1 Bis tanks (3) and a few others.

But I am short a few items. I need 4 more riflemen to field an additional squad. That is solved by Peter Pig. I don't have a motorcycle squad but Flames of War sells that. The items that are problematic are a sniper, an AA MG, and engineers. I think I found a solution for the engineers. Irregular miniatures offers open handed french troops and troops carrying ammo cans. These should be able to tart up to fill in engineer functions. For the AA MG, I can probably get another mmg and modify it. But I may just do without that.

Plenty to do but in better shape than I thought.