Wednesday 27 January 2021

Scratch Built Aircraft Hangar - Part 2

A quick update on where I'm at with my fun scratch build project. Slightly behind schedule due a variety of reasons, mainly caused by my butterfly nature causing me to flit from project-to-project! The captions should give you an idea of how things stand.

I wasn't sure about adding windows to the main structure, but after mulling things over I went down this route and glad I did. There was a good suggestion on the Pendraken forum to add a chimney at the back to represent the stove inside to heat the building, but I was too far down the route to risk drilling a hole at this point. Maybe I will on the next one as I think it would look good.

After adding basing grit to the relevant areas, everything was primed grey and then given a matt black top coat. The edges were finished in my normal basing colours and as you can see, I did decided to go with a concrete stand at the front, purely because I thought it would look better than just plain grass.

I had intended to drybrush the base camouflage colours to add highlights, but the natural shape achieves this on its own, so I decided to leave the colours as they are. I hadn't intended the dark brown to be this dark due to the drybrush approach, but I think it works better than the lighter brown I had intended it to be.

I toyed with the idea of adding a light stone pattern alongside the green and brown, to make the whole structure pop a bit more, but in the end left things fairly basic to represent a more UK camouflage scheme. I did add black lines between the colours to make the pattern appear more crisp. The windows were simply achieved by 'trompe l'oeil' which was very quick and easy to achieve. The frames were deliberately made lighter to make them stand out, as otherwise the whole would look a tad dull.
So next up is to add flock and foliage to the base so that it fits in with my other terrain and I'm not too happy with the look of the concrete, but will look at it with fresh eyes in the morning. The scenario and campaign is all sorted for this piece to make its debut and I hope to get the first game in tomorrow. So until then, stay safe...


Sunday 17 January 2021

Scratch Built Aircraft Hangar - Part 1

After my recent AVBCW battle set in the Bristol 'bocage', one of the Pendraken forum members made the comment that the 'Bristol Bocage' sounded like a great name for one of those slightly whacky British Inter-War designs. This got the old grey cells working and so I have plans afoot, subject to the delivery of a plane kit, to make a 'Bristol Bocage' for use in a forthcoming AVBCW campaign. The ideas for both the plane and the campaign are broadly fleshed out, but I thought it would be good to model an aerodrome or aircraft hangar for the final scenario.

I wanted something easy to make but fun also, and whilst doing the washing up (I hate dish washers!) I thought half of a tinned can would make a perfect basic shape for the hangar. So a few days later off into the garage I went to saw the tin in half with a hacksaw and knock up a base. the results can be seen below:

The mdf base is 8" x 4", with the tin can 3" in diameter. I used tinned tomato can as this had the simplest shape without any added curves at the base or top. The can when cut loses its shape a bit, so I added strips along the sides and back to help keep it in shape, whilst I glued it in position with Araldite. The hangar door is made from 1.0mm ABS sheet, with a strip along the top to represent the rail to allow the doors to open. I have also scored in lines to represent the door panels. The plane in the foreground is a Pendraken FE2B to give an idea of scale.

A view from the rear.

I added fine surface Polyfilla along the sides and back to hide the support strips. I'm not sure whether to add some windows half way up or not and will mull this over tonight. Again I'm not sure whether to have just grass in front of the doors of some concrete slabs, but I'm favouring the latter at present.

I hope this small post has been of some interest to you and I'm certainly enjoying the whole scratch building process. Much more enjoyable than making models for clients to ridiculous deadlines, as I only have myself to please! More updates to follow in due course over the next few days, all being well. So until next time stay safe!

One Hour Wargames Scenario 5: Bridgehead

This scenario has been on the cards for a week or two, but was delayed by my playtesting of the Pike & Shotte rules of late. With these parked for a while, it was time to get this onto the table. Dave once again volunteered to give some basic orders for the Blue team as can be seen below, whilst I took command of the Red team. Due to the nature of the scenario, only broad guidlines could be given by Dave, but they were more than enough for me to try and follow. 
As before, the units for both sides were taken from Neil Thomas' Wargaming 19thC Europe, on the basis of the die rolled. As the Red player, I could select my units for the Turn they were due to arrive on, but not know where on the table they would appear. So a nice fog-of-war for both sides. 
Below can be seen the map and info I gave to Dave, with my troops already selected and the Turns upon which they would appear. So in advance I would not know his plans. Hopefully the following will give you an idea of the scenario and how the game played.
Scenario Details
The Blue force has managed to seize an unguarded bridge over a river and is trying to reinforce the position before the Red force can arrive. The river is unfordable and so can only be crossed by the bridge. The terrain is broadly open, with a few fields, a wood by the bridge and a hill in the distance.

Blue OOB
4 x Infantry
2 x Jaegers (Independent)
2 x Dragoons
2 x Artillery

The Blue force has two units across the bridge to the North of the river, deployed in the hatched area. You can deploy them anywhere in this area. You can select the two units from your OOB above. Your reinforcements will arrive via point D as marked on the map. They will arrive as follows (as chosen by Dave):

Deployed - 1 x Jaegers, 1 x Line Infantry
Turn 2 - 1 x Jaegers, 1 x Line Infantry
Turn 3 - 1 x Dragoons, 1 x Line Infantry
Turn 4 - 1 x Artillery, 1 x Line Infantry
Turn 5 - T1 x Artillery, 1 x Dragoons

You know the Red force will be sending units to re-take control of the bridge and they are likely to arrive via points A, B & C as marked on the map. When and in what strength you do not know.

To have no enemy units within 12" North of the bridge by the end of Turn 10. The Red force will go first in Turn 1. After that the usual rules for Initiative etc in HoW will apply.

The map sent to Dave.

The map sent back by Dave with his orders on it.

6 x Line Infantry
1 x Jaegers,
1 x Dragoons
2 x Artillery

The troops will arrive on the Turns as listed below and will roll a die to see whether they arrive at Point A, B or C.
Turn 1 - 1 x Jaegers, 1 x Line Infantry, 1 x Artillery
Turn 3 - 2 x Line Infantry, 1 x Artillery
Turn 5 - 1 x Line Infantry, 1 x Dragoons (roll for these two units as one force)
              2 x Line Infantry (roll for these two units as one force)
I set out the table as per the map, adding some fields purely for decoration and they would have no effect upon movement or shooting.
The Blue Jaegers on the left, the Line Infantry on the right as per their orders.

Both sides re-inforcements ready to appear.

Turn 1. The first Red units appeared at Point C, moving on slowly and unable to shoot due to being too far away. The Blue Infantry turned and moved forward slightly to meet the threat, whilst the Jaegers moved into the woods as per their orders.

Turn 2. The Red units had a 'Poor' command roll and could not move forward, so chose to deploy into line. The Blue re-inforcements had an 'Admirable' command roll and with the distance from the enemy and being in march column, where able to move swiftly across the bridge. The Line Infantry moved to the right, the Jaegers to the left.

Turn 3. Blue received more re-inforcements who again moved quickly forward and across the bridge, with the Dragoons in the lead. The other units moved out to the flanks where possible. Red re-inforcements arrived at Point A and with only a steady move, stayed in march column. At Point C, the Red units deployed into Line, but the Artillery remained limbered.

The Blue Infantry try to form a cohesive defensive line before the Red Infantry can fire at them.

The Blue Jaegers try to gain the woods, from where they will hopefully have a good defensive position from which to slow or halt the Red advance.

Turn 4. With threats from both flanks, the Blue forces deployed to try and meet each threat with equal force. The Jaegers moved into the woods and to the edge, whilst the newly arrived Artillery chose to move to the left flank rather than the centre as ordered, to meet the clear and present danger. The Dragoons pushed forward and slightly to the right, hoping to be able to put pressure on or turn the Red flank. The Infantry formed into line on the right flank as re-inforcements moved up to support either flank as required. Red's units at Points A and C both moved forward slightly, deploying into line and unlimbering their artillery. The shooting from both sides caused a few hits, but movement, range and cover meant that not much damage was done.

The Blue Artillery supports the Jaegers in the woods against the Red units at Point A. Other Line Infantry units corss the bridge to support either flank.

The Red units at Point A come off slightly worse in the firefight with the Blue Jaegers, supported by Artillery from across the river.

As the Blue Dragoons move off to threaten the Red flank at Point C, the Blue Line Infantry have formed line, ready to face the Red units, but without Artillery support.

Turn 5. As the final Blue re-inforcements arrived, the last Red re-inforcements arrived a Points A and C. Both sides moved to support their existing lines as quickly as possible, with both Blue flanks coming under pressure by numerically superior Red forces. Again the shooting was sporadic and with minimal effect, until the Blue Jaegers in the wood, with Artillery support from across the river, routed one Red Line infantry unit and caused 3 hits on another.

The Blue Jaegers have certainly gained fire supremacy against the Red units at Point A. the Red units are struggling to bring their numbers to bear due to the restricted nature of the area in which they can deploy.

The Red units at Point C have a numerical advantage, but as yet cannot bring it to bear against the Blue units. Both sides are however taking hits. The Blue Dragoons have moved to the edge of the hill, with the aim to move to pressure the Red flank and preventing them moving all their forces against the Blue right flank.

The Blue Artillery in position to begin supporting both flanks with long range fire and hopefully enfilading the enemy if the opportunity allows.

Turn 6. Some 'Poor' command rolls hampered both sides, but especially the Red units at Point C and the Blue Dragoons by the hill. Elsewhere both sides moved as best they could to dress ranks, support or plug gaps as required. A few more hits where spread across the table until the Blue Jaegers once again, with Artillery support, routed another Red Line infantry unit at Point A and put another on three hits!

Yet more devastating fire from the Blue Jaegers.

Both sides struggling to get units into place to support their frontlines.

The Blue Dragoons (bottom left) fail to move when the Red flank is there for taking.

As the Red Dragoons move to try and open up the situation for the units at Point A, Blue Dragoons are ready to stop them explointing an opportunities.

Turn 7. As with the previous Turn, both side struggled to move their troops as they would have wished. The Blue Jaegers again routed another Red Line Infantry unit, leaving little threat from this point as there was only an Artillery unit left there. However on the Blue right flank, the Red units at Point C gained the upper hand, with  one Blue Line Infantry unit forced back with 4 hits, having narrowly avoided routing. So with both sides having an advantage on either Blue flank, the game was nicely poised and hard to tell which was it might go.

The Blue Jaegers break yet another Red Line Infantry unit, leaving the Red Artillery exposed and really unable to much to support the rest of the Red Force.

The Red units at Point C have finally been able to bring their numbers to bear in a meaningful way, forcing a Red Line Infantry unit back to reform and another on three hits. Yet again the Blue Dragoons had a 'Poor' command roll and so were unable to move on the exposed Red flank.

The view from the Red positions around Point C.

Turn 8. With any real threat gone from Point A, the Blue Jaegers moved back into the woods and towards the road to support the threat to the Blue right flank. Shooting from both sides forced two Blue Line Infantry units back to reform and one Red Line Infantry unit. The Red Jaegers routed having come under fire from the front and artillery fire from the flank. Both sides are bloodied, but the Blue Force is in a slightly better position, still holding on and working on interior lines.

The Blue Jaegers withdraw as the Artillery exchanges some long range counter battery fire.

The Blue Dragoons move from the hill to support the other Blue Dragoons by the road, to prevent any chance of the Red Dragoons breaking into the Blue rear.

Two Blue Line Infantry units have been forced back to reform, but they are still able to form a cohesive defensive line.

The Red units at Point C are is some disorder, with one unit forced back to reform and the loss of the Jaegers reducing their combat effectiveness.
The Blue Artillery in position to enfilade any Red attacks.

End of Game
With only two Turns left, the Red force was in a very weakened state and unlikely to be able to contest the objective. Just to be sure I quickly played a Turn with the only Red Line Infantry units that could make a difference and as they advanced forward, another unit was routed and so removed any chance of a Red victory. The Red force had lost 4 x Line Infantry units and 1 x Jaeger unit, whilst the Blue force had lost none. So in the end a convincing Blue win!
Post Game Thoughts
Well that proved to be a cracking game and one which I really enjoyed! It was great to be playing Honours of War again and they are a superb set of rules and the only ones I use to game the Seven Years War. Plenty to reflect upon in the game etc so without further ado and in no particular order:
  • The Blue Jaegers were certainly the stars of the game, pretty much single handedly winning the game, with able support from the Blue Artillery. Routing three Line infantry units in quick succession meant that any threat from the Red units at Point A quickly evaporated.
  • I was unsure how the scenario would play, but it worked much better than I could have hoped. The random nature of the troops choices before the game, what Turn they would arrive and where certainly created an interesting and challenging game. The Red team was hampered with the units arriving at Point A, as the woods and compact deployment areas meant they couldn't bring their numbers to bear. Not having any units arriving at Point B allowed the Blue team to focus on the main threat to their Right Flank, which certainly helped them. The scenario certainly has lots of replayability to it and is one i think I will come back to in the future.
  • Both sides were using the Austrian stats from the book to keep things simple. One could easily have used the Prussians for the Blue team as their better stats would give them an edge, but as it was the game worked perfectly well with 'vanilla' forces. I gave the Jaegers rifles and the Artillery was classed as Medium, with the Lin Infantry having Battalion guns.
  • When I set the game up I was unsure whether to put in a few hedges to help the Blue position, but in the end left them out. I think if they had been there, it would have given the Blue team too much of an advantage early on.
  • Both sides had their fair share of chances and good and bad command rolls, but as can be seen from above, the Blue Jaegers actions tipped the game firmly in favour of the Blue team. Without their sterling effort, I think the game would have been much closer and certainly a lot tougher for the Blue team. Even so if those units in Turns 7 & 8 had routed rather than retreated to reform, then we could be looking at a Red victory.
  • The 10 Turns for the game was just right, as I felt 8 would not be enough, given the slower movement rates and ranges when using the 10mm stats from the rulebook.
  • I was fairly flexible with the C&C of units, given the unusual arrival and deployment nature for both sides. A bit of common sense was applied and for me it worked out OK. If I had played 'as per the rules' then I don't think the scenario would have worked out as well as it did.

 Once again thanks to Dave for taking the time and the effort to give me the Blue orders to follow, which gave me a more enjoyable game, as I could obviously not know what he had planned in advance. This is probably the easiest and best way to give fog-of-war to these sort of solo games. I hope to get another of these games in next week, again using Honours of War, subject to the usual caveats.


Thursday 14 January 2021

Bumping into the Enemy

A very wet and dreary day saw another trial game of Pike & Shotte grace my table, again with the aim to give the rules a good run out and to gain familiarity. This time I added some basic terrain and went to a very simple advance to contact type scenario, with both side bumping into each other from their line of march. So nothing fancy at all, but I did add in Dragoons to the mix and classed the Blue Cavalry as French Guard, just to see how they played.

Both sides Dragoons started on the table, with all other units off table and in their respective positions in the line of march.
An overview of the table, with some hedges and the ploughed fields and corn classed as rough terrain. The woods could only be entered by the Dragoons.

The off table units and general gaming detritus in a very useful area for this sort of stuff.
Opening Moves
The Blue force won the Initiative and moved first, with both sides being rather slow and steady in their approach, with both sides relying upon some free moves to get going. The Blue Dragoons moved onto the hill and opened up on their Red counterparts, but the Red shooting was markedly superior, causing one Dragoon unit to be come Shaken.

The end of Turn 2 and both sides still struggling to get onto the table and shake out into line.

The Dragoons start a firefight with the Red Dragoons gaining the initial upper hand.
Mid Game
Both sides managed to form into line, with Red doing so earlier than Blue that gave them an advantage as they managed to get some shots in first, which led to a Blue Infantry unit breaking. Both sides cavalry moved round to the flank, with the Blue Guards closing in on the Red Dragoons, but the Red Cavalry came to their rescue. In the cavalry clash in the ploughed field on the Red left flank, the Blue Guards got the upper hand, but then after a sweeping advance on the retreating Red Cavalry, one Blue Guards unit failed their Break Test and fled!

The end of Turn 4 and both sides have formed line and the cavalry face each other across the ploughed field.

The Red Infantry break the Blue Infantry on the road and the Blue Dragoons are still suffering withering fire, but hold on.

The end of Turn 5 and the Red force is in a slightly better position than that of Blue.

The Red right flank is coming under intense fire from Blue, but poor shooting and good morale saves sees them hold their position.

The aftermath of the Cavalry clash, with both sides having retreated to lick their wounds, but the Blue Guards being one unit short.
End Game
Both sides rally some units and the Red force advances in places as the Blue Dragoons come down off the hill to try and snatch victory. However it was not to be as the Red force stopped the Blue Dragoons in their tracks and also broke another Blue Infantry unit. With losses mounting the Blue force wisely quit the field of battle.

The end of the game.

The Red left flank is secure and the Blue Dragoons have taken more intense fire which has stopped them dead.

Combined shooting sees another Blue Infantry unit break, leading to the Blue force leaving the battlefield.

Post Game Thoughts
For a very quick spur of the moment game, I thought it worked well and again helped me understand the rules better, which of course was the aim. So as always some thoughts on the game and the rules etc:
  • I completely forgot to use the 'First Fire' rule, even though I had made a note of it! It was only half way into the game that I remembered it so left things as they were. Must do better next time...
  • Movement is much slower in this game than BPII, leading to units slowly entering the battlefield and deploying, but this felt right for the period. No massive Napoleonic sweeping cavalry charges here! I did enjoy this and you do have to plan your movements more carefully as it takes time for them to be able to get into place.
  • Having some terrain was nice, not only from a visual point of view, but also from the effect it had upon the game. Rough Terrain really does make a difference, not only as it does slow units down to one move only by and large, but it also can disrupt units with pikes, as happened in this game. I don't think I would want much more terrain and this as it would affect the game too much I fear. I would only add more stuff for decoration to improve the visual aspect of the table.
  • The Dragoons worked well and brought a nice touch to the game, but need to read their rules again to make sure I played them correctly.
  • The Blue Guard Cavalry certainly can be devastating but as in this game, there is always the chance that the Die Gods will favour the other side! They're nice to have but as Barry Hilton mentions in the rules, you don't want too many Guard units as otherwise it can have too big an impact on the game.
  • After two games I'm very happy with the rules but need to have a good re-read and make sure I've been doing this correctly and haven't missed anything. But first I'm going to take a break from these rules so I can come back to them 'fresh' as it were. 
  • I also want to do some reading up on the period and so have dug out my copies of Chandler's 'The Art of Warfare in the Age of Marlborough' and CS Grant's 'From Pike to Shot 1685-1720'. Hopefully these will provide a good refresher as my knowledge is more towards either the ECW or the SYW.
Just before this game I had a flick through of the 'Baroque' ruleset and although they apparently give an excellent game and reflect the period well, I had a headache after reading them! Sadly they are not for me but they have helped clarify what sort of game I want to play, which is the important thing.
So what next? Well the painting muse has returned which is nice, as after searching through my lead mountain, I came across my nearly finished AWI/Imagi-Nations figures and also a British SYW force that I forgot that I had assembled and primed just before my 'retirement'! My aim is to finish of the few units required for the AWI force and then re-flag them, then move onto the SYW British. Both sides will broadly have a core of 12 units with some additional ones which can be fielded as needed. Like many gamers, I find about 12 units per side gives a very good mid-week game for the solo players and can be completed in a reasonable time, which given family pressure is good.

Alongside this I have an HoW game all ready to set up and a planned AVBCW mini-campaign to play that has the bare bones set out. I need to make some scenery for this and have ordered some stuff that will be useful for the final game, but all will be revealed in good time! So until next time stay safe...