Sunday, 17 January 2021

Russian Haul

 I'm back!  And I've got a big pile of Russian stuff to work on.

First up, a big expansion to my Um Bum collection.  I currently have a 4 houses, which will be expanded to a small village when I add these.


The new buildings are HO scale buildings for rural Russia, suitable for mid-20th Century (say, for Operation Barbarossa), including three more houses, two churches and a small factory.  There's also a roughly 28mm sized Italian Baroque-styled church that I hope will fit in with my Sicilian terrain.

For the Great Northern War, I have some lovely new resin figures from Kordegardia.  This will be my first project with resin figures, so will be an educational process for me!



The figures are 25 musketeers and 10 grenadiers.

From Siberia Miniatures, I picked up 

- 24 Basmachi (12 mounted, 12 on foot) plus a mountain gun and crew (these are particularly inspired by the look of the Basmachi in the movie White Sun of the Desert).  Note separate heads, still to be added.

- modern Russian Presidential Guard (and president)


- Russian Civil War defenders of the manor



I also got a proper Ushanka, along with a Red Army cap badge.  The Ushanka is plenty warm, especially with the flaps down.  Especially lovely when the temperature drops to -18C!





If I'd been thinking, I would have picked up half a dozen of these cap badges to use as CoC patrol markers!





Saturday, 14 November 2020

Armourama

I've managed to accumulate a few new vehicle models for Op Husky, or possibly for later in the Italian Campaign.  In addition to the Panzer IV that I painted previously, the Germans now have a Panzer III, a Tiger I and a beutepanzer Stug M42 (more commonly known by its Italian name, Semovente da 75/18.




The Tiger is from Warlord Games:




Here is the Panzer III.  As far as I can tell, German soldiers didn't name their tanks quite as regularly as Allied soldiers did, but I've decided to name my Panzers III and IV.


The M42 Stug was not used in Sicily by the Germans (although the Italians certainly had some) but once the Italians withdrew from the war in September 1943, the Wehrmacht appropriated any Italian vehicles that they could get their hands on. This model is from Warlord Games.  The kit can be built either as the M41/14 Medium Tank or as the Semovente da 75/18.  Unlike my usual boring plain dunkelgelb paint scheme, I attempted a fairly sloppy camouflage pattern based on this image from Tanks Encyclopedia:




The Canadians meanwhile now have 4 (count 'em, 4) Shermans, of various marks.


The above tanks are from left to right, Sherman V (M4A4), Sherman III (M4A2), Sherman I (M4) and Sherman V (M4A4).  I can barely tell the various marks apart, but I'm slowly learning!

Cyclops is a Sherman V, from Warlord Games.  As I was assembling the model, I realised that I didn't have as much stowage as I wanted, so I looked around for some other options.  Many WWII tankers welded spare track around their tanks to provide some extra protection from anti-tank (AT) weapons.  


This was generally discouraged by the higher ups, but that never stopped the crews from doing whatever it took for them to at least feel safer!  In order to make my own extra track armour, I learnt how to make a press mould from modelling putty.





And here is how the press mould tracks look on the finished model.  This one is Cyclops, a Sherman V from Warlord Games.





Chief is a Sherman I, from Rubicon.  


Corvette is a Rubicon Sherman V.  I assembled the 17-pdr turret as well as the regular 75 mm turret, so that there'd be an option to field Corvette as a Firefly version if I so choose.  Although theoretically the Firefly turret can fit on any of the 3 Rubicon tanks (Chief, Corvette or Cobault), I piled on so much stowage on the other two Shermans that the extended turret can't rotate properly!



Chief is a Rubicon Sherman I.






In addition, the Canadians also gained a couple of softskins. The jeep is straightforward, simply the Rubicon Models model.  However, I cheated a bit on the driver and passenger:  the crew figures that came with the model were American, but I did a couple of head swaps and painted them to match my Canuck infantry.  The white-on-red '56' insignia on the jeep shows that it belongs to the Hasty Ps, but I've given the crew tam-o-shanters (as i had a few in the bits box) so they are more likely to be Seaforths or 48th Highlanders than Plough Jockeys!


What's up with the pink stain on the driver's back?  I'd better cover that up...

The Chevy 30 cwt MCP is most famous nowadays for being the transport of preference of the LRDG, however the reason it was available for use in desert raiding was that it was present in large numbers in the Mediterranean theatre.  While the story of the Canadian Military Pattern (CMP) trucks is pretty well know, with over half a million produced for the war effort, the Modified Conventional Pattern (MCP) trucks are now a bit obscure.  These were basically civilian trucks that were adopted for military use.  For my force, I simply took the Rubicon Models Chevrolet 1533x2 1.5-ton 4x2 truck, which is intended to represent the type in LRDG service, and simply painted it to match the other vehicles in my collection.

I kept the stripped down cab, as reinstating a covered cab would require modelling skillz beyond my meagre capacity.  Vehicle markings are for the 3rd Canadian Field Company, RCE, with the intent that this truck will be a support vehicle for my sappers.  That will also provide the justification for the stripped down cab - the engineers needed to get the truck into some tight space or other!





And here they are with the CMP 15 cwt that I already had.




Commando Characters

A while back, I picked up this pack of Commando characters from Warlord Games because I wanted the piper Bill Millin figure.  Lord Lovat (the slightly eccentric commando commander) and Brigadier Peter Young (later to be a "famous"* wargamer, as well as a historian and re-enactor).











*well, at least as famous as a wargamer can be...

Sunday, 8 November 2020

Russian Grenadier with Flag

Many months ago, Arthur gave me a pewter figure of a Russian grenadier.  He's been standing on my painting table for far too long, so I have finally put some paint on him.  He is just under 50 mm from the soles of his feet to his eyes, or about 100 mm from the bottom of the base to the top of the flag.




I'm no expert on Russian regimental flags. I simply copied the colours from one of the flags on the sheet that comes with the Perry Miniatures Russian Infantry, for the Simbirsk Regiment.

I have no particular plans for this model, other than to keep it on the shelf above my computer.  Maybe it will be a token if needed for a game.

Sunday, 1 November 2020

Sean Connery as Roy Urquhart

 I was sad to learn of Sean Connery's death yesterday.  He was such an iconic actor, and featured in so many of my favourite films.  Then I remembered that my lead mountain included a Stoessi's Heroes figure of Sean Connery, in his role from 'A Bridge Too Far', playing Major General Roy Urquhart, commander of the British 1st Airborne Division.  

So Sir Sean quickly climbed up to the top of the pile, and here he is.




Here is Sir Sean himself, in the scene that this figure recreates.

(although I suspect those lovely Dutch people will be a bit put out if he brought all that grass into their dining room; perhaps I should have given him an indoor base instead!)

Incidentally, and making an obscure reference back to my Operation Husky project, Roy Urquhart was the commander of 231st Brigade, aka the Malta Brigade.  During the battle for Sicily, the Malta Brigade was attached to 1st Canadian Division for part of the campaign, including the battles for Agira and Regulbuto.


Wednesday, 9 September 2020

A Little Gaul on Gaul Action

 I have jumped on the Too Fat Lardies bandwagon, and purchased their brand new Infamy, Infamy rules for "Large Scale Skirmishes in the Ancient World".  The focus of the game is on Romans vs Barbarians, with a sideline in Roman Civil Wars, like the war between Caesar and Pompeii, or Anthony vs Octavian, or the Year of the Four Emperors.  So after receiving my 'full bundle' package in the mail, I slapped a bit of paint on the poker chips:



And then decided to use the card deck for my first game, and maybe try the poker chips later.  (I,I has an activation system similar to Sharp Practice, where each leader gets to act when his card or his poker chip is drawn)

The focus of the game is on the Romans, and it has lots of special rules to accommodate Roman drill, especially for the armies of the late Republic (the time of Julius Caesar and the civil wars), and for the early Empire (including the conquest of Britannia and the Year of the Four Emperors).  However, I don't have any suitable Roman figures at the moment (although I considered using my Late Romans as a proxy for EIR).  Instead, I pulled out my old WAB Gauls, blew off the dust and decided to field them for a bit of Gaul on Gaul.

One of the nice things in I,I is that the TFL have decided to differentiate between Gauls, Germans and Britons, rather than just lumping them all together under the single banner of 'barbarians'.  So the Gauls come off as being a sort of pre-feudal group, with noble warriors mounted on horses, or on foot, supported by a levy of warriors and some more common folks.  They feel a bit like a medieval host, rather than barbarian mobs.  I split my Gauls into two groups.

Blue force are Gauls, formed around a core of noble cavalry, well armed and armoured, with a supporting group of nobles on foot leading two groups regular warriors, along with some slingers and tribal (skirmish) cavalry.  

 


Facing them is Red force, the Belgae.  These are all on foot, and include noble warriors with three groups of regular warriors, some tribal levy, slingers and for fun, two groups of naked fanatics!  Because where's the fun in a Gallic army if there aren't any naked fanatic warriors?


I diced for the scenario, and for the table layout.  The brown felt is a marsh, there are forested hills on either side of the table, leading to a small settlement.  The Gauls are to escort a wagon carrying barrels of wine to the village, and the Belgae intend to stop them. 


Gauls deploy at the end of the table furthest from the village.  The Belgae have a deployment area along one of the long edges, but also have a selection of 'ambush points' from which they can also deploy warriors.  The solid red disks below show the locations of the ambush points.



What follows is a quick pre-game test where various factors are considered, such as how strong each side is in skirmishers and cavalry, who can be counted on to counter or neutralise the other side's ambush points. 

And then the game begins!  Blue Leader II starts things off, deploying a classic swine's head formation with his noble warriors up front backed up by two groups of warriors in support.  First lesson learned:  build some movement trays!  The bases of the individual figures catch too easily on the Hotz mat, and they fall over far too easily on the sides of the hills.  Movement trays will speed up the process of moving troops around.


Blue IV comes up next, and out leap his light tribal cavalry from their ambush point in the marsh!



Not to be outdone, Blue Leader I (the warlord, status III) deployed next, taking full advantage of the cavalry's increased deployment distance to push ahead of the lowly walkers.


And finally the Belgae get a chance to deploy some troops, when Red V comes up, bringing the tribal levy maneuvering through the woods.


And the Tempus Fugit card is dealt (Latin for "time flies"), and the first turn ends.  For those used to CoC, the terminology is a bit different in I,I.  Where CoC has phases and turns, I,I instead has turns (which end when the Tempus Fugit card is dealt) and Acts.  The end of an Act is analogous to the end of a CoC turn.


First card up in Turn #2 is for Red IV, and his Gaesatae.  These mighty warriors spend a signa card to allow them to ambush (from the disk with a '1' on it), and they rush down the slope to attack the Gallic noble warriors.

Strictly speaking, that ambush point had been converted to a normal deployment point during the pre-game scouting phase, but I decided to overlook that to see how the ambush rules work.  And so, on to the first combat of the game!  On review afterward, I found that I made a few mistakes, so bear with me as I try to correct them through the narrative.

Firstly, all units, foot or mounted, are supposed to have approximately the same frontage, so the two units of Gaesatae attacking the one cavalry unit is not correct, it should be either two groups of foot against two of horse, or one unit of foot against one unit of horse, each with another unit in support.  But as I played it, two groups of naked, screaming fanatics barreled down on the front group of horse, while the nobles in the second rank supported their mates.

As it played out, the Gaesatae killed all the nobles in the front rank, and inflicted so much shock that the remaining group of horse fell back behind the rest of the Gallic horde.  Had I played it properly, the balance of dice would have been a bit less favourable to the Gaesatae, but it would still have been in their favour.  As Fanatics conducting an ambush, they started out with 6 points of fervour, while the Gallic nobles didn't have any.  Fervour is a characteristic that only barbarians get to use - the warriors get riled up, and fervour is a measure of their enthusiasm.  Fervour gives bonuses for movement and fighting, and also allows the warriors to soak up shock (they don't count any shock until all their fervour is used up).  

Here are the remaining nobles, with their shock (the livestock) and their warlord (in the blue cloak), he is trying to rally them so they will return to the fight.




Meanwhile, having pushed back the nobles, the surviving Gaesatae in their wild frenzy pushed on against the warriors on foot.  This next combat didn't go quite as well.  The Gaesatae are hard hitting, fighting as elite warriors in the first round of any combat, but their numbers are few, and, being naked and all, they tend to take a lot of casualties.  This makes them pretty brittle.  


This second combat went much worse for the nekkid blokes, and the survivors were pushed back off the table.  Losing the fanatics had an impact on the Belgae force morale, a bigger hit to their own side than they had managed to inflict on the Gauls.



Next, the Belgae deployed some slingers to harass the Gauls.  More a nuisance than a threat, but none the less a way to whittle down the enemy before the main engagement.


The Gallic response is to send their tribal skirmish cavalry to chase away the slingers.



While the skirmishers battle on the flank, the Belgic warlord advances his big horde of warriors slowly along the valley.  He has been gradually building up fervour among his warriors, so they will be ready for the coming fight.  The white dice in front of the warriors show that fervour is now up to 5 points for each group, while the levy groups (red dice) are down to 1 point of fervour each.



On the flank, the Gallic tribal cavalry chase down the Belgic slingers.  I made some mistakes with the skirmish cavalry, allowing them to move together.  Skirmish cavalry groups should move separately, they can't coordinate as mounted warriors, so each group should have rolled separately for movement, which would have led them to spread out.  Also, skirmishers can't support each other, whether on foot or mounted, so that was another advantage that I mistakenly gave the Gauls.



After this, I stopped taking photos.  The Gallic tribal cavalry eventually circled around the back of the Belgae, then attacked the tribal levy in the flank.  As I mentioned, they were more effective than they should have been, as they nicely coordinated their actions and supported each other.  My intention was for the tribal cavalry to throw javelins and harass the Belgic levy, but I rolled high for movement and assumed that they were required to charge.  Not so, skirmishers may always stop short of formed enemy groups.  However, since I pushed them in, they ended up punishing the levy, and further whittling away at the Belgae.

In the end, the Belgae had a strong force of foot warriors in a mob in the centre of the valley.  They were still very strong, but all of their support had been stripped away through the encounter.  Each group (and each leader) that had been killed or chased away reduced the Belgic force morale, so that by this time they only had one point left on their FM table.  Considering that the Belgae were surrounded, and the Gallic morale was still high, I decided to call the game there and give the victory to the Gauls.

Infamy,Infamy is a good, solid set of rules, with many mechanisms which will be familiar to TFL fans.  I'm going to try again sometime soon, maybe try against a Roman force so I can see how the silly Roman tricks work out.