Saturday, 17 July 2021

Dice tower (Updated 21-08-03)

Update 2021-08-03  at bottom of post

Last week's game on the patio saw a few errant dice rolls, where, despite careful rolling into a handy tray, a few dice bounced off the table and nearly disappeared under the fence.

Since I had some sheets of foamboard lying around (thanks, Doug!) I did a quick search online for a dice tower pattern and found this one.

After a small amount of cutting and gluing (and a careless bit of finger slicing), I ended up with this.

It's not pretty, but hopefully will help to keep dice from scattering all over the place.  I'll trial it next time I play, and if it performs well, I'll see if I can pretty it up a bit.  The coloured balls are the heads of the drawing pins I used to hold the bits together as the glue sets.  I'll see if the tower holds together after I remove the pins.

Update:  I have had a chance to playtest this tower, and have identified a few deficiencies.

1. Dice can bounce out of the tray.  
Proposed solution:  make the walls of the tray deeper.
2.  Black tower can be misplaced when set on a black table, or next to black figure boxes.
Proposed Solution:  Paint it neon green!  
3.  Capacity:  when rolling 20 or more dice, not all dice will lie flat in the tray.  Some dice will be cocked or will be on top of other dice.
Proposed solution A:  roll fewer dice at a go.  Pshaw!  Phoo, I say!  That is nonsense.  I require a bigger, better solution, not pandering to those urge restraint!
Proposed Solution B:  Bigger!  Better!  Mahwr Powr!  Let the world quiver in fear of the superior dice tower that will emerge from my workshop!  Mwahahaha!  

Sunday, 11 July 2021

BSC2021 - Chain of Command on the new boards - Picture heavy

 My new gaming terrain boards are ready for play, gaming mates and I are vaccinated, and it's finally time for my first game of Chain of Command in over a year!  

The playing space is only 4' x 4', while the TFL literature generally points to a 4' x 6' playing space as being preferred.  But until I find the time and inclination to build two more boards to expand the playing space, we get to play on the smaller playing surface.  We picked the 'Attack and Defend' scenario, as it plays across the width of the table, rather than lengthwise, with the hope that the patrol phase will still more or less work out.

I invited Gord and Craig to join.  Both are veteran Chain of Command players, although neither had managed to play any CoC for over a year due to the pandemic.  Somehow, as we organised our forces, they both ended up on the same side so that I, a novice at CoC, managed to face off against a pair of veterans.  However they are both friendly and offered good advice through the game.

First up in the game was the patrol phase.  For this scenario, the defenders (Gord and Craig as the German PanzerGrenadiers), get to line up 4 patrol markers at a point 18" from their base edge.  This put them at the edge of the ravine - something I hadn't considered when assembling the terrain.

My Canadian patrol markers started on my table edge.  I rolled well and was able to move my markers 5 times before the Germans could react.

My markers moved forward, and the markers on both sides were soon locked down.

As it turned out, with cover available only in the ravine, most of the Jump Off Points were pushed back to the table edges.  I was fortunate, and managed to drop one JOP in the valley, isolated at the left side of the board, and another behind the bridge.

Craig and Gord used their support points to place a minefield on my end of the bridge, restricting both my ability to use the JOP at the end of the bridge, and also limiting the bridge to a narrow file.  

My troops got to take the first action and deployed a section in the valley floor.  I got some lucky dice again, and with a double phase decided to push my section across the valley floor.

Reacting to the Canadian advance, the Germans deployed a squad in entrenchments to slow them down.

Now that there was a German squad on the table, I decided to bring my tank onto the table so I could start dropping some HE on them.  You can also see the smoke that my 2" mortar used to screen the German squad.

On the blurry right hand side of this photo, you can see the second Canadian section advancing onto the bridge, while the Sherman tank continues to shell the defending Germans.

The view from the German trenches, as they open up on the Canadians in the small grove in front of them.

The Canadians take cover from the German machine guns in the grove, but are starting to take some punishment.

The Canadian rifles move to the toe of the slope, out of sight of the German PanzerGrenadiers.

As their enemy on their right moves out of sight, the Germans turn their attention to the Canadians on the bridge.

More smoke, the tan smoke is from a smoke grenade thrown by the Germans, slightly less effective than the white smoke from the 2" mortar.

The Germans turned their attention on the Canadians on the bridge.  The livestock represent shock points:  the Canucks here are on the verge of breaking.

As the sun and shade progress across the table, photos end up a bit dodgy.  To the right, you can see the second German squad up high on the hill.  The Canadian section on the bridge has been broken but the Canadians have brought up another section on the left.

Here in the sun you can see the Germans, as well as the Canadians at the toe of the slope.

You can see the smoke all around the Germans to keep them blind.

But then the turn ended, and all the smoke disappeared, allowing the Germans free shooting against the Canadians.

With their cover gone, the Canadian section on the left was shot up, and the Canadian force morale plummeted.  That ended up being the end of the game.

Post-game analysis.  Patrol phase went about as well as could be hoped.  For game play, I once again fell into my frequent mistake of attacking everywhere rather than concentrating my forces.

I was distracted by the JOP in the valley, which was not the best choice as it is isolated.  I could not move troops out of these woods due to all the open ground around.  Had I focused on the JOP near the bridge, I could have brought my troops across the valley (rather than attack across the open top of the bridge).  Also, once I lured the Germans to deploy on the table I could have kept hammering them with bombardment from the Sherman's 75 mm gun, while the infantry kept out of sight.  If I keep getting hammered in every game, I may eventually learn!

Sunday, 4 July 2021

BSC2021 - Glamour Shots

Now that my BSC2021 terrain project is (mostly) complete, it's time to show it off a bit.

For starters, in its original plan as the approach to Leonforte, Sicily.  Here is a series of shots, showing the Canadian recce finding the gap, followed by the bridging platoon arrive to build the replacement Bailey bridge, and finally the Canadian tanks crossing the new bridge.

The RCE bridging company arrives and starts bridge construction.

The account of the battle describes that the 90th Canadian Anti Tank Battery managed to transport a couple of 6-pdr AT guns across the ravine, while the sappers were building the bridge.  That's what I'm showing here.

Finally, the bridge is built, allowing Sherman tanks of the Three Rivers Regiment to cross the ravine and head toward Leonforte to relieve the Edmonton Regiment, supported by infantry from the PPCLI.

The terrain can be used to represent other eras as well, such as the NorthWest Frontier.


Palestine, 1917.  I will need to build a couple more bridges, so I can have a few alternative styles of bridge for my games.  Maybe a wooden suspension bridge for starters, as well as a stone bridge.

Somewhere in the American South-West.  Rather embarrassingly, my plaza started to warp when I put it in the hot sun!

Modern Afghanistan (or possible, ca 2010).

Al-Andalus, or Southern Spain, ca 1050.

Taking inspiration from Star Trek's famous use of the hills north of Los Angeles to represent alien planets, I suppose these hills could easily be used for sci-fi gaming, too!

Saturday, 3 July 2021

WWII Canadians on parade

 My Canadian forces for Operation Husky are sufficiently built up for now, so I can move on to work on other forces.  (for example, I need to add some German opposing forces to fight these Canucks!).  My original intent was to have just a single platoon of infantry, but as you can see, miniature megalomania set in and the force has grown.

The force is based around an infantry platoon.  I was inspired by Farley Mowat's memoir, And No Birds Sang as well as his WWII regimental history of the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment, The Regiment.  While this platoon is inspired by the Hasty Pees, the only insignia that I added is the 1st Canadian Division's red patch, so these soldiers could represent any of the 9 battalions in the 1st Division.  I've added a 4th section to allow me to choose more soldiers as a support option.

I have four different PIAT teams, even though I'm unlikely to ever take more than one.

I have a recce section of the Princess Louise Dragoon Guards, consisting of 2 Otter LRC armoured cars and 2 universal carriers (with their dismounted Bren gun teams).  Also, another carrier with a .50 caliber MG!

 Some artillery pieces.  The 25-pounder is unlikely to appear in a CoC game, but could show up if I play a fantasy game like Bolt Action.  The 6-pdr anti-tank gun has seen action on the table, though!

I don't see any game purpose for my Pipes and Drums, but as a piper, I'm just pleased to have them in my collection.

My medical section, with half a dozen nurses and an ambulance jeep.  

From the 1st Canadian Army Tank Brigade, which became the 1st Canadian Armoured Brigade in August 1943, I have tanks from C Squadron of the Three Rivers Regiment, as well as a Dingo from the HQ Squadron.  The motorbikes are available to carry messages around the force as needed.

The army has a much bigger logistics section than most wargames armies.  In most wargames, the action starts after the forces have reached the table, so the details of how they got there are often unimportant.  Nonetheless, I can add a logistics element to my army, including both the lorries used on the roads as well as the mule-carried equipment that was able to carry supplies off road throughout Sicily and the Italian mainland.

And finally, my sappers!  For starters, I have three teams that can be Engineer Teams for CoC.  The teams are a wire cutting team with wire cutters, a demolition team with Bangalore torpedoes and a mine clearing team, with a Polish mine detector and two sappers probing for mines with bayonets, plus an engineer officer to serve as the Engineer Section's leader.

And the pride of my collection, my bridging platoon, with sappers building a Bailey bridge.

Next up, I'll have some photos of my BSC terrain with figures from a few different historical eras.