Monday, October 29, 2012

Writers Block

Work on the CSIR supplement has ground to a halt in terms of having anything to show for my time spent on it. I am still translating some documents from Italian to English. I was given a source for 1:250,000 scale maps that are period accurate. But other than that, nothing.

Between work and a sick family, little is getting accomplished. But on the bright side, Rich has informed me that my Mud and Blood supplement is undergoing review! Hopefully this means that it might be ready for publication in November. That would be great to see it get published.

As to figure painting, I have not held a brush in 2 weeks. The weather is starting to turn and it is time to pull in the paints from the garage before they freeze.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Maps and Confusion

I have been making some real progress with the CSIR supplement for IABSM and TW&T. However I am really struggling to find some period maps of the battles that were fought in 1941.

I have found a great site that has Heereskarte maps from wwii: While it has great maps, it lacks the index maps. Then I found this site: The second site is modern maps that match to the WWII versions.

These are great but an incomplete set of WWII maps. In particular, I am looking for the L-37-04 series maps. The WWII-Photos-Maps have several 1:50,000 maps as well as 1:100,000 maps. Ultimately what I would love to get would be 1:25,000 scale maps. That may be hoping for too much.

I have managed to get maps for Gorlovka (M-37-137A), Nikitowka (M-37-125C) and several others. What is confusing is the large number of towns in a relatively close area that all have the same names. The sheer volume of towns named Nikolajewka is just confusing.

Anyone know of any sites that would have these maps?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Running with the Mad Baron - Or what to do when stuck in the Frozen North

OK, to be fair, it was not that cold and there was no snow. But I was stuck for a week in Minnesota on a business trip. To relieve me of any potential boredom, Alan once again was a gracious host to this misplaced Southerner and treated me to a fun game set in the Back of Beyond using the Setting The East Ablaze rules.

The game was a prep game for Alan for a much larger game he was planning on running later on. The long and short of it was, I had great fun.

--------------------------------------------------- The following is the excerpt of a journal discovered by a sailor from the USS Albermele in the basement of a brothel in 1937 while on liberty in Shanghai. The journal was being used as toilet paper at the time as the brothel owner did not speak Russian. Fortunately our sailor was an expatriate from Imperial Russia.

Liberating the journal from its base usage, what has been discovered is a fascinating and highly personal view of a Russian nobleman who served as an aide-de-camp to a Russian that he only identified as "The Mad Baron". While an educated guess can be made to his identity, we will leave this figure in obscurity.

The elements of the journal that describe the authors escape from bolshevik Russia are lost to history. What we are left with is a bitterness towards the Reds for the loss of his country, home and family. This bitterness led to reckless behavior to extract revenge on any Reds that both he and the Mad Baron would come across.

The first incident in the journal is dated October 17, 1921. It seems that the size of the Mad Baron's forces have grown significantly. No longer just formed from Russians and Cossack Whites, they have accumulated an odd assortment of troops. These included some Europeans (Freikorps), Tibetian irregulars (wielding ancient matchlocks) and Mongolian cavalry. His force was motorized as the White Russian officers battalion was fully motorized and also was supported by both artillery and an armored car. The artillery transport team was such that could only be found in the back of beyond, the weapon was towed by Yaks.

By October of 1921, the force was running desparately low on supplies. Apparently, in the chaotic environment of China in the 1920s, a warlord was maintaning a supply depot in a nearby town. The Baron ordered the attack and sent his forces to attack the town.

Surprisingly, there was only one other faction involved. The Chinese warlord Li Fook was the owner of a factory producing ammunition and explosives. The town it self was a small affair of a few small buildings. Some of the streets had been blocked off to create strong points throughout.

The Chinese forces were numerous. There was a large force of students, a force of elite Dare to Die forces, and two large groups of regular infantry. These were supported by a mortar, a heavy machinegun and a single artillery piece.

The Baron initiated the attack by sending his Mongolian Cavalry to the right and Cossacks up the left of the village. Both of these were hampered by the poor ground that surrounded the village. I was attached to the Tibetians and sent up the right side to occupy a close by house. Our men moved slowly and it seemed we would not reach the house. The armored car raced up to the corner of the house and promptly broke down. It would stay there for the rest of the battle. The White Officers mounted in their truck raced straight ahead through the gate and to the center building directly ahead of them. The ponderous Yak pulled artillery piece moved towards the first of the sandbag barricades.

The Chinese allowed the advance unmolested for quite some time. The Mongolian Cavalry was escorted by the Baron himself and they nearly turned the flank of the Chinese regulars.

While to our left the Cossacks had run into trouble from the other Chinese regulars on the roof of a nearby building. These troops were cut up badly by the riflemen. The Freikorps advancing behind them attempted to give the Cossacks some relief by engaging the men on the roof. The building next to the artillery turned out to be the home of Chinese Dare to Die troops. These troops overwhelmed the crew of the artillery piece. All but for one brave yak driver who held on longer than any of the crew. The survivors of the Dare to Die troops were engaged by the White Russian officers and the remaining Cossacks.

The Dare to Die troops were destroyed to a man. The Freikorps and the White officers destroyed the Chinese regulars on the left flank. The Russian machinegun team worked their way towards where the abandoned gun was.

On my front, the Mongol Cavalry came under machine gun fire that killed several men. Led by the Baron they charged ahead and were met by more Chinese regulars. These the cavalrymen butchered with glee. My Tibetian troops finally arrived at the house and occupied it.

My Tibetian troops took to the roof of the house and came directly under fire from the machine-gun team that had worked on the Mongol cavalry. While suffering terrible casualties, my men held firm and fired a volley into a jasail team on an opposite roof, removing this thorn from our side. I would order my men outside of the house to continue the advance.

What happened next is why the Baron is such a legend. He led the remnants of the Mongols to assault the Chinese artillery. He led them to the very walls of the artillery compound and then turned and single-handedly destroyed the machine-gun nest that had killed so many of his Mongols. The Mongols would die to a man as the Chinese students moved forward and fired into the flank of the cavalry.

Such a courageous display led us forward into heavy mortar fire where more of my brave Tibetians fell. My heart swells with pride as I write this as these men did nor break in the face of such loss. They only sought to advance forward and forward again.

To the left, the White officers and Freikorps were now in the center of the town. They cleared a lane for the machinegun team to attack the students who appeared to be the only remaining source of resistance. Before they could be engaged, the last remains of the Cossacks charged with suicidal fury into the Chinese host.

With all enemy resistance crushed within the town, the Baron burst into the ammunition factory. Seizing a flaming brand from a coolie's hand he secured the factory before it could be destroyed. With this victory, we now have the arms and equipment we need to carry on the fight against the red menace.

Dux Britanarium - First Game

On October 13th, I managed to get in a solo game in of Dux Britanarium. What I found was that the game flowed really well and the turns moved quickly even with some fumbling on my part and the distraction of having the TV on at the same time.

What the scenario did teach me is that if you are not in a shield wall and you are Romano-British, you are dead.

The game started with the table setup. Since I was the only one playing, I used all of the terrain that I had available. The farm itself comprised three buildings. Since I only own one dark age building, I used some Russian Front Ukrainian buildings to fill in for the other two. The farm had sheep and a pair of cows/oxen as well. Below is a blurry picture that looked better at the time I took it.

And to the east of the farm...

To the north of the farm was some fields. It was from this direction along the road that the Saxons would enter.

I have attempted to spare you from some of the worst of the setup shots. Here is a table level view of the farm. Note that this is before I noticed in the rules that it needed to be three buildings.

The pre-game festivities had the Britions getting some good rolls from a stirring speach from their lord and adding to their overall staring morale. The Saxons sought some advice of their gods who gave them bad omens. The twins decided that they would rather live and sit this battle out. With the Saxon lord having his group morale lowered by the bad omens, he decided that the only way to have a happy force was to open the bar. Drinks for everyone! Well it seems that this did the trick and they were back up to their original starting morale. Both sides agreed that it would be best not to mess with a good thing and lets get the show on the road.

The Saxons had two turns of movement in which they could advance unmolested across the board. This would have been great for them if not for the abysmal movement die rolls. The entire force did not clear more than nine inches from their edge of the board in two turns.

Once the Saxons had their two turns to move, the Britons began to arrive to save the farm. I thought the Saxons moved poorly, well the Britons had nothing on them. The Saxons bottlenecked themselves attempting to move up the road. This left a column of warriors stuck behind the elites and skirmishers.

And a closer picture of our Saxons heroes.

The Britons eventually arrive.

Both forces utilize the road and head towards each other. The Britons get seriously bogged down and are stuck between a small wood and a field while the Saxons begin to get underway. The Saxons send a lord and a group of warriors to raid the farm and the Saxon skirmishers run to the farm to look for a better position to harass the Britons. This proves to be an excellent move as the skirmishers reach the farm as do the warriors who immediately begin to search for loot.

The advantage was definitely in the hands of the Saxons when the two sides finally met in combat. With only the single group of British elites in the front who were being shot at by skirmishers and attacked by two groups of Saxon elites, it lead to a route of the British elites.

The elites falling back through the British warriors behind them severely shook the British warriors. The Saxon Elites pressed forward and engaged a group of the British warriors while the Saxon skirmishers turned their attention to the approaching British skirmishers. Notice that I have yet to acquire any casualty figures. Instead I resorted to using my IABSM tokens to mark casualties and dice for shock.

One group of British warriors was routed off of the board. Giving more shock to the regrouping elites and causing a group of levy to nearly break as well. The second group of Warriors charged forward and hit one side of the Saxon elites as shock was beginning to wear these warriors down.

The British had some success against the Saxons with the counter charge but it was too little too late. With the levy having not been engaged and the Elites and Warriors already broken, the Saxons moved forward their fresh troops forward. To preserve what was remaining of the British force, the British decided to leave the field to the Saxons who were more than happy to raid the farm.

The game was not as bloody as I thought it would be. The shock was the deciding factor. The Saxons had a very good run of Fate cards in their initial combat. The Saxons lost 2 of their elites. The British lost two elites, three warriors and a skirmisher. I still have to resolve how much loot the Saxons walked away with. What really amazed me was how quickly the action proceeded. If I would not have had the distractions, I could have resolved the game quicker than the setup and take down of the terrain went. I think i will try for a wider table next time. I used a 6' x 2.5' table that was a bit narrow and probably lent itself to creating the choke points.

Monday, October 22, 2012

What to do when you have insomnia....

Well, it was an interesting night. The medication to help get me past the sinus infection that I have led to a sleepless night. So at 2am, what do you do when you can't sleep? Apparently my solution is to paint 4 Italian Bersaglieri motorcycles with riders as a starting point for a mounted platoon of Bersaglieri motorcyclists. The motorcycles ended up looking rather bland but about right from the black and white pictures that I have found.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Birthday Present

Just got in my birthday present to my self. I bought the last 3 minis for my Romano-brits. They are perfect. I also picked up a big man for my picts. Great miniature pointing and holding an axe. While cruising thier web site, I found the next two must have miniatures. Bards. There is a harpist in both the Robin Hood snd Scots-Irish personality packs. These would add a some color to the force. No clue how to use them on a table. Now my birthday is not till Sunday. I am thinking of a contest. I think the most comments on this blog has been six. I will give away the persons choice of SCW, WWII or AWI 15mm miniatures for the 10th comment that has a useful painting, basing or terrain tip. The miniatures will be enough for a full squad of troops or a an armored. Vehicle. I will chech on this back on Sunday...

Sorting through the Lead Pile - WWII USA

While searching for the right base for my Dux cavalry I started going through my drawers looking for something suitable. What I came across was an assortment of miniatures that I have not done anything with in a long time.

At one time I had started going through my collection an photographing what I had ready to game with. (See this page) But I had not gotten my act together and continued with that post series.

The first drawer I came to was my East Front Italians as I was planning on putting them in the painting queue next now that my Dux Britanarium forces are done. But immediately under those were my WWII US Troops. It had been so long that these figures have seen the light that I had forgotten what I had. I remembered having a decent size force to play a game of TW and T. What I found was much more.

This is one of the few armies that I have where I have not painted any of the infantry. I purchased these a couple years ago to get in some Normandy games.

I did manage to paint the armor and the half-tracks. The three half-tracks are Old Glory/Command Decision miniatures. I really like these for some reason. I really do need to either get some decals or learn how to paint a star. The Shermans (of which I have no clue what model) are also Old Glory miniatures. The stars look pretty bad on these too but overall I am happy with the result.

In front of the half tracks are a .50 cal MG team and a .30 cal Browning MG team along with a bazooka team. Then There is the three squads of my platoon. I left these mostly on the bases that they came on. I rebased some Big Man types on US pennies and the platoon leader is based on a old one Franc coin (not sure why now).

Following this is the work I have left to do. First is more armor. I have a M24 Chaffee that I have no idea where it came from. As you can see, it has not even made its way out of the packaging yet. Also in the packaging, is another pack of Old Glory half-tracks. That should give me enough to field a full strength mechanized platoon. The last item of this is a sherman dozer tank that I bought to do the Normandy bocage busting. It is a FOW miniature.

The biggest surprise is a FOW box of a US infantry company. It has a small tent command post. There are over 100 figures in the box and I had no idea that I had this. 72 riflemen, 7 radiomen, 7 pistol armed officer types, 2 wounded/dismounted tankers, 11 men with Thompson guns, 4 officers with M1 carbines, four NCOs signaling with a rifle, 6 fellows with bazookas and 6 with BAR guns. Lastly it came with two fellows who are either loading an AT gun or holding mortar rounds. All in all, it is a pleasant surprise to find. I completely don't remember getting this. Now it needs paint. It is a good problem to have.