Thursday, 25 May 2017

Afghan mountain gun

As my Russians and British each have artillery support, I felt it was time that the Pathans also get a popgun to play with.  This is the new Perry Miniatures Afghan Mountain Gun:





Monday, 22 May 2017

Smurftastic

Recently, Arthur brought home a McDonald's Happy Meal toy Smurf house.  It seemed just about right, so a quick coat of paint and, voilĂ :




Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Life in plastic, it's fantastic

Last week, I was feeling a bit blue, so I ended up making a bit of an impulse purchase of three plastic kits:  one from Renedra, one from Italeri/Warlord Games and one from Rubicon.

The Rubicon kit is a T-34/85.  The model came together very easily, and ended up looking quite nice.  I went for a basic green, hopefully approximating the right shade for a Russian tank.  I may have gone a little overboard with the red stars.




At least I didn't add any slogans...

Kit No. 2 is the Warlord Games Churchill Tank.  The kit shows its origins as an Italeri modelling kit rather than a wargaming kit as it's a bit more work to assemble, but not much more.  I chose the Churchill as I wanted to make one of the Calgary Tanks that saw action at Dieppe - and this is where I fell into the trap of research.  The 14th Canadian Army Tank Battalion (Calgary Regiment) took a combination of Churchill I, II and III.  The kit allows one to make any of around 7 variants, including the III (welded turret, armed with 6-pdr gun).  

My original plan was to paint the tank an olive drab/greenish colour.  But then, research.  Checking out a few sites, I realised that the Churchills at Dieppe were something called SCC-2 Brown, colloquially referred to as "dogsh!t brown" on one of the sites I found.  I hope my final colour is something close.

The kit included a great decal sheet:
It's a great selection of decals, including (hallelujah!) the blue-over-brown 175 for the Calgary Tanks, and the black ram on maple leaf of the Canadian 1st Armoured Brigade.  So far so good.  There are red-white-red recognition flashes, but only three, so I left off the one that should have been at the rear of the tank.  The sheet includes three pairs of tactical markings - yellow circles, red squares and blue triangles.  For the Calgary Tanks, the markings should be blue (junior regiment of the brigade) but triangles aren't accurate for Dieppe - I could use blue squares, blue circles or blue diamonds, but not blue triangles. So close, but not quite there!  I'd have to see if I could fake it with paint.

So I kept digging and decided that I'd recreate tank Bert of B Squadron.  I even found the serial number (T68560R).  And then I got to painting.

Here's an image of Bert after Dieppe:

And here is my version:


No serial number, left off the tank name.  Slacker.


Recognition flash in the wrong place (should be further forward, under the cable, but it was too hard for my meager decal-applying skillz).  Also, after I'd finished gluing the model together, I found out that the Dieppe tanks didn't have the guards over the tracks, but I wasn't about to attempt to cut them off.  (i.e., upper track should be exposed like in this photo:

And here's the rear.


No recognition flash.  Well, I like it, anyway.

but since I have no WWII miniatures, I'll need to put them away and avoid being drawn into collecting and painting miniatures for yet another era.

Anyway, here are the two tanks together:




Third kit was the Renedra Ramshackle Barn.  A nice kit, I'd wanted this one for quite a while, and finally picked one up.  It's a nice generic piece that can fit into many different places - for me, most likely to show up for an Old West game.



The kit also has some nice little bits, including a couple of ladders, pitchforks and a wagon wheel that will end up gracing other projects.

And finally, here are the three kits together:


Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Jhamjar rising: my first CoC game.

Subedar PBJ Singh Widj raised the binoculars once again to scan the horizon.  He could now make out the lorries at the base of the dust plumes advancing across the plains.  Those lorries carried angrezi soldiers intent on arresting his prince, the Djelli of Jhamjar. Subedar Widj was not going to let that happen.

It is the summer of 1919.  Amir Amanullah Khan of Afghanistan has declared war on the British in India, and the Indian Army (i.e., the army of British India) has mobilised to the North West Frontier to face him.  Throughout India, discontent with British rule has been simmering, especially in reaction to the General Dyer's massacre of unarmed protesters at Amritsar in April.  And in the Princely State of Jhamar, the Djelli has decided that the time has come to take control of his own destiny.

As far as the British Raj is concerned, the Djelli of Jhamjar has a token bodyguard - not a real army by any stretch of the imagination.  What the British don't know is that the Djelli has quietly recruited a force made up of veterans of the Great War - experienced soldiers who have seen action in East Africa, Mesopotamia, Palestine, Gallipoli and the Western Front.  These soldiers have taken the King-Emperor's salt, travelled across the black water and shed their blood in the service of the King-Emperor.  They have also heard the grand words of President Woodrow Wilson and compared these grand ideas to the reality of the treatment they received alongside British and other Imperial soldiers.

Subedar PBJ Singh Widj is typical of these veterans.  An accomplished soldier, he witnessed the incompetence of British generals at Tanga, Gallipoli and Kut.  He found that, despite being a good soldier, he could rise no higher than Subedar-Major in the Indian Army, while he would have to jump to the orders of any Angrezi subaltern.  And now, as he moved his platoon of the Jhamjar Rifles to the border of Jhamjar, he anticipated teaching the Angrezi some of the lessons he'd learned in the King-Emperor's service.

The lay of the land:  the river (more of a muddy ditch) marks the border of the Princely State of Jhamjar.  The small compound by the bridge is an abandoned police station, and a small bakery is located a short distance down the river.






Patrol phase.  The Jhamjars have occupied the police station, and Ockerforce has attempted to circle around the building.  This was an education for me - I thought the Jhamjars had limited themselves too much by bunching all their JOPs into the police station, but I found as I carefully read the rules that my JOPs would have to be pushed back to the table edge.


2nd Lieutenant Francis Ocker was in a foul mood.  He wasn't supposed to be here in bloody India.  He was supposed to be on a troop ship on his way be to Australia.  His men weren't supposed to be here.  They, too, were supposed to be on the bloody troop ship with him.  They weren't even his men, not really, not the mob he'd spent the past four years with, not his mates who'd been with him in Gallipoli and then on the Western Front.  No, these were just a random assortment of blokes who'd been on the same bloody ship when it stopped over in Karachi.  When, instead of a day or two on shore before carrying on their way home to 'Straya, F. Ocker had received new orders.  He told them he wasn't a bloody soldier any more, he was done with the whole bloody business.  But no, some jumped up local nabob had decided to mess up Ocker's homeward voyage, and that left him in a particularly bad mood.  "No one else to deal with it, Lieutenant.  Got to be you and your lads."  Ocker tried to tell them that these weren't his lads.  He didn't know these ones.  They were a mix of Ozzies and Kiwis, infantry and light horse (sans horses, of course), and even a Pommy Lewis gun section that was supposed to be in transit to Hong Kong.  And so it was into the lorries and off to Jhamjar.

Results of the patrol phase.  I thought I'd been quite clever, moving my patrol markers around to allow an opportunity to flank the Jhamjars.  Unfortunately, on a more careful reading of the rules we realised that the jump off points needed to be in cover and at least 6" from the marker.  As a result, the Ockerforce JOPs ended up back at the table edge.  



Ockerforce JOP1 - a commandeered civilian lorry.


Ockerforce's first command roll.  Three points towards a command die, one section with junior leader and one junior leader with section.  There is a subtle difference between these results - the 2 just allows the section to deploy, but the 3 allows the section to take some action, other than moving.  We misread this at first, so a couple of sections incorrectly moved in the phase when they deployed.



An Ockerforce rifle section deploys from JOP2, an Indian Army lorry.  Figures are Brigade Games ANZACs in peaked caps with Havelocks.


Another Ockerforce section deploys and dashes for cover behind a rock outcrop (they should not have been able to move in the phase when they deployed - next time we will be better).  This is the Pommy Lewis Gun section (Copplestone).


Jhamjar's first command roll.  Three pips toward a command die, an option to deploy a senior leader (which was declined) and a wasted 6.


Ockerforce command roll.  Three junior leader activations and a senior leader, plus a wasted 6.

Pommies go tactical.


ANZAC Lewis gun section advances toward the police station from JOP3.


Jhamjar command roll:  two 1s allow individual teams to deploy, the 4 allows a senior leader and the pair of 6s means that the next phase also belongs to Jhamjar.


Jhamjar deploys the Vickers gun onto the roof of the police station.  The Havildar (sergeant) is at ground level beside a Jhamjar JOP. Jhamjar JOPs are all visible in this shot:  two horse-drawn carts and an elephant.


Jhamjar Vickers gun lines up on the Ockerforce rifle section.


And the results of the Jhamjar MG barrage:  two dead and three shock.  Shock is indicated by livestock - three goats means three shock.


And then Ockerforce gets a chance to roll the dice.


The corporal in charge of the rifle section rallies off one shock (so the three goats are swapped for two sheep) and the section goes tactical.


I'm am going to stop showing the command rolls.  Partly because it is getting a bit old, but mostly as I'm not sure whose roll was whose anymore.


Here the Ockerforce sniper team has deployed on a hill near the glasses case.  Gosh there's a load of rubbish on the table - drinks tins, glasses, rule books.  


In the upper corner of the shot, you can see Jhamjar's force morale and command dice tracking board.  Force Morale is 8, they have earned one command die and are one pip along the track for a second command die.



This is where I ran out of photos. By this point, Jhamjar was nicely dug in to the police station and were busy popping off shots at any Ockerforce troops that dared to expose themselves.  As to be expected for the first play through of a game, especially one with novel concepts like those found in Chain of Command, not everything went smoothly.  I'm planning to have another kick at the game at the next club night coming up in June.  

I am definitely going to solo game through the patrol phase a few times to get a better understanding of how that works. I'll balance the forces a bit better for next game as well.  I based the forces on the lists for Abyssinia, which I found on the TFL blog.  These lists gave a crew of 5 for a Lewis gun, which seemed to me to be too big; next game the Lewis gun will have a crew of 2 (as per the lists for WWI CoC from the 2014 Lardie Xmas Special).  And I'll put a LOT more terrain on the table.  Ockerforce got pinned down quite easily wiht lots of open ground between them and the police station.

I'm also going to limit participation to two players only.  I had lots of interest in this game, but many of the players had little or nothing to do.  This game is really not suited to team play, not like TMWWBK or TSATF.

Frank Ocker lay on the ground, cursing heartily.  He'd been hit twice by that bloody MG.  His men were pinned, and spread out over half of creation.  It was time for Ockerforce to pull back, lick their wounds and regroup for another go at these bloody curry munchers.

Subedar Singh Widj watched as the angrezi pulled back.  He ordered his men to hold their fire.  The enemy was retreating and he was no butcher, but he knew that this was just the first test.  They would be back.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

CoC Game Aids and more for Jhamjar

As part of getting ready for my first attempt at playing Too Fat Lardies' Chain of Command, I have prepared a few game aids.  Apologies for the poor quality photos, I had to wait until late at night to set up an impromptu photo shoot!

CoC requires markers to track 'shock' on a unit.  I'd prefer not to have plastic or paper chits scattered around my tabletop battlefields, so I am going to use a substitution.  Years ago, when I played Contemptible Little Armies, I used bases of rats to represent pinned units (which at the time seemed quite fitting for trench warfare on the Western Front).  I'd roll out the rats again but since there likely won't be enough bases to meet game needs, I'll start instead with sheep and goats.  Shocked units will be followed around by small herds of ungulates that will gradually increase as their fighting ability diminishes!  A single animal will represent a single point of shock, and bases with multiple animals will represent multiple shock points. I'm looking forward to innuendo about the affinity of certain units to large numbers of livestock.


CoC provides a sheet to be printed out for tracking 'Force Morale' and 'Chain of Command' points.  The problem with putting markers on a sheet is that it can easily be bumped during play, leading to discussions about whether that marker was on 10 or 5.  Based on an idea from another blog, I've cobbled together these boards from foamcore and cork.  Force morale can be tracked by push pins, which (in theory at least) won't be accidentally moved.  Chain of Command points will accumulate on the top track, with a CoC die or token being earned each time the points reach the magic number (6).



Another CoC marker is needed to show when a unit is on overwatch.  I'd considered using figures like these to show that the unit has been instructed to keep watch over a particular arc, but I think they'd be too easily confused with squaddies.  



So instead I've made these ones.  They look like game tokens, they'll certainly do the job (at least for the first game), but I hope that eventually I'll be able to substitute something else.  I also considered using something like a pair of binoculars or a rifle, but that all seemed too fussy compared to the end result.


Tactical markers show units that are taking full use of terrain to provide any possible cover.  I have an idea that these units are carrying around little bushes and hiding behind them (a bit like Birnham Wood coming to Dunsinane).  Anyway, each unit that is 'tactical' will carry around one of these little bits of bush with them.



TFL encourages the use of creative modelling for 'jump off points', or JOP.  For my first game, the Brits will get to use the truck and the Jhamjars will use Jumbo.  I've also got a donkey cart for the Jhamjars and a stack of supplies for the Brits.  If a third JOP is needed I'll come up with something.


Another status to display is pinned.  I had a couple of ideas but they were too fussy, so I've gone with relatively simple smoke clouds.  Any unit that is broked will simply have two pinned markers.  If I run out of these markers, I'll use more balls of cotton.


And now the actual forces!  First up, the Jhamjar Rifles.  Here is the command group:  subedar (equivalent to lieutenant), havildar (sergeant) plus a medic and the subedar's batman (with bugle).




And here is the whole platoon.  Two sections of sikhs, and two of musselmen.  Each section is led by a naik (corporal).


The platoon can count on a Vickers medium machine gun for support.


Just one shot of 'Ockerforce' for now.  Two sections have a Lewis gun (plus support), and two sections exclusively of riflemen.  The sections are sorted by headgear (sun helmets, slouch hats or peaked caps) and the two sections with slouch hats are distinguished by either shorts or trousers.


I'm going to play around a bit with force composition before the game.  Both platoons are inspired by the lists for Chain of Command Abyssinia - the Brits follow the British list (natch!) while the Jhamjars are based on the Askari list.  Tactical choices will be interesting, as the Brits get two LMGs and the Jhamjars only get rifles, with a possible MMG.  Nominal sections are 8 strong for Ockerforce and 10 strong for Jhamjar, but I'm considering reducing these as no army ever takes to the field at paper strength.  Units will be reduced by a deliberate Left out of Battle choice, as well as sick parade (malingering ne'er-do-wells!), casualties and other detachments.  But the basics are now covered!

Plan is to play the game on May 5th.  Inshallah!