Saturday, 17 June 2017

Normandy D-Day Campaign - Game Three

Game three of our Normandy campaign sees the action switch back to the airborne bridgehead east of the Orne river. British 12 Para hold Ranville as the German 125th Panzergrenadiers begin their counter-attack on the village. It is late morning on D-Day now and the Germans are pushing through orchards and along a sunken lane on the southern edge of Ranville.

As I’ve mentioned before, some of the campaign games are inspired by the Chain of Command supplement “Kampfgruppe von Luck” (KGvL) – this time it’s “Probe Amongst the Hedgerows”. Whilst Chain of Command is not quite my cup of tea, the supplements are well worth a read. Anyway, here’s a map of the table

And here's my take on it.

and

In the game I would be leading the German forces; basically a reinforced platoon comprised of regulars and inexperienced troops. I wanted to reflect the fact that a good number of the German troops stationed in Normandy were not exactly first rate!

That's five squads, two of which were inexperienced, the rest are regulars, all with an LMG, plus an MMG, a medium mortar and a sniper team for support, led by a Leutnant.

Top Wargames Table chum Dave Howes (visiting with another top chum Paul) would be commanding the Paras.

The Paras were, as you would expect, all veterans: a second Lieutenant, a medic, one full strength section of 10 men with a Bren team, a second section with 9 men and a Bren, the third section of 9 men with a total of 5 SMGs, plus an MMG and a light mortar.

Here's the table at the end of turn 1. Both Dave and I have committed our entire forces!

I've put two squads (In-ex & Reg) on the left flank and in the centre, with only the regulars on the right flank. My MMG and mortar were, on reflection, not well sited.

Dave placed his Bren-equipped sections on either flank with the SMG section moving up to the farmhouse in the centre. His MMG was perfectly deployed making excellent use of the cover provided by the gated field entrance (upper right in pic), giving them a clear view along the narrow lane.

That clear view was used to good effect in turn 2. The Vickers opened up on the MG42 team, killing two of the three crew. The remaining chap kept his cool, passed his morale test and got ready to return fire. But before he could, his mates crewing the mortar lobbed a shell neatly on to the Vickers (I rolled a six!) and killed all three crew in the blast! "You cheeky b*****d!", exclaimed Dave ;o)

At the end of turn two both of us are carefully pushing our troops forward. I've moved my in-ex squad on the left flank forwards in the hope that it might tempt Dave's paras in to a slightly more open position. All the other sections have advanced to take better shelter behind the hedges.

Dave's SMG section makes good use of the cover afforded by the farmhouse's stone walls and both his flanking sections advance to get better lines of sight on the advancing Germans.

Turn three had the numerically superior Germans in good positions and the combined fire-power of 4-5 LMGs really started to punish the Paras, although you need to roll a 5+ to hurt these elite soldiers.
Sorry about the shonky pic - tablet was having a 'moment'!

Even when the shots weren't knocking over the Paras, they were racking up 'pins' on them. Having more units meant more opportunity to cause 'pins', which in turn mean that whilst the Paras usually passed their morale test they were also usually firing back at -1 or -2 to hit. Some more incredible shooting by the mortar only added to Dave's problems. That was slightly evened out by the fact that my sniper couldn't seem to hit a pig's bum with a shovel!
More shonky photography!
Some coordinated German fire-power on the left flank (Paul - thanks for the tip ;o)) saw the remaining troops in Dave's right-flank section cut to shreds. The chaps in his left flank section were also getting hammered by a mix of rifle, LMG and mortar shots. Still, they went down fighting and the German casualties were also rising.

In the final turn of the game the Germans could turn their attention to the SMG section and the Lieutenant in the farmhouse.

Squads were poised to move in from both flanks.

And the mortar was still in a position to provide support... along with my cross-eyed sniper!

With time pressing we shook hands and called it a day. What a thoroughly enjoyable game! Dave is always a fantastic person to play toy soldiers with and the win was a bonus for me.

The Allied perimeter south of Ranville has been driven in so the next game will see the Panzergrenadiers pushing deeper in to the town and no doubt facing some well prepared resistance from the men of 12 Para.

Lessons Learned:-
  • More units = more opportunities to shoot = more potential pins on an enemy.
  • Coordinate your shooting, have two or three units pick the same target.
  • Advancing with one unit whilst another provides support really works. If both advance then both units are at -1 to hit

EDIT: Just realised that I've been running this blog for over ten years now... Thank you for joining me along the way. Happy days! :o)

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Shieldwall!!!

Wargames Table chum Dave Toone is organising a get together for fans of Warhammer Ancient Battles. Details here on Facebook.

Do you miss playing historical mass battles?
Do you enjoy exciting, brutal wargaming?
Have you got a painted army gathering dust?

Then why not reignite your passion for Mass Battle Wargames!


Put aside your warbands and gather the entire might of your army for the epic conflicts that lay ahead. Let your mighty heroes stand once more at the head of their troops before they slip into distant memory. Bring hundreds instead of dozens of warriors to fight epic battles, then tell the exaggerated tales of those battles to any fool that will listen!

Now is the time to put aside your fear, banish all doubts and book your place in the Warhammer Ancient battles, Shieldwall event.

Saturday 12th & Sunday 13th August 2017

The theme for both days will be: The Dark Ages in the British Isles.

Using the WAB 1.5 rulebook and the SHIELDWALL supplement.

Players can book for either a single days gaming or both days. 


What you will need to bring:

  • A 2000pt fully painted army from The Shieldwall period supplement.
  • A tape measure and plenty of D6!
The venue:
Coddington Village Hall, Main Street, Coddington, Nottingham, NG24 2PN.

How Many Games will there be?
We'll play three games on each day.

How much will it cost?
The cost is £15 for a single day or £25 for both days.

Payment is required in advance via paypal to: david.toone@yahoo.co.uk and must be received no later than 30th July 2017.

Lunch, Tea, Coffee and snacks will be provided on both days and are inclusive in the price.

If you like the idea of a day or two of gaming simply for the pleasure of it along with some like minded people, please get in touch either via the Warhammer Ancient Battles Facebook group or via email at: david.toone@yahoo.co.uk

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

More Scenery - Narrow Roads

My social calendar has been pretty hectic recently but somehow I've still managed to squeeze in a bit of terrain building! I already have some roads that are about 3 inches wide but I wanted to add some narrower roads, i.e. lanes or tracks if you prefer.

Incidentally, I need these for the next game in the Normandy campaign - this provided the real spur to make them.

As with my other roads, it all starts with a 300mm x 300mm cork tile, 3mm thickness. My tracks are about 2 inches wide so I simply cut a number of strips, plus a couple of angled sections so that it could join the main road at a variety of angles. Trim the edges to about a 45 degree angle to better help them blend in to the table.

Painting: Texture the cork with fine masonry paint (add in a little fine grit for extra texture if you like). Drape the strips over thin paint brushes to prevent any curling as it dries. Then base coat with Americana Milk Chocolate, followed by dry brush highlights of Americana Honey Brown then a light cream colour, B&Q Harvest Field (DIY store tester pot) in this case.

The final stage is applying some flock to the edges and a bit in the centre. I used two different colours of grass, but that may not be clear in the photo.

To follow this is the bocage ... I need this as the next campaign table also includes a sunken lane. Thanks for looking :o)

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Normandy Campaign - Game Two

The Paras were initially repulsed in game one of the campaign, so we've moved forward a few hours on D-Day to just after the initial Allied foothold was gained on Sword Beach. It was imperative that the first forces to arrive quickly neutralised the beach defences and pushed inland. Our game is just one such Push Inland (Battleground Europe - Scenario 5). To fit our game (and to be honest, the forces we have available) nicely in to the campaign we’ve devised a vaguely plausible ‘what if’. The village that Steve and I will be attacking is going to be Hermanville. It’s just half a mile inland from Sword beach and was officially captured by late morning on 6th June 1944.

Now, as you'll see we've had to "adjust" the forces slightly from exactly those that would have been there on the day - this is simply due to the fact that these are the figures we have available ;o)

Troops of the 3rd infantry division took this route inland towards Caen. I can’t find any info about exactly which units took the village, so Steve’s chaps will be 2nd Btn Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

How to fit in my Paras though? Well, 7th Btn Parachute Regiment was originally intended for Operation Tonga (capturing the bridges on the Allies eastern flank) but Pine-Coffin’s men were very badly scattered. In fact many of these chaps helped reinforce the 2 Btn Ox & Bucks at the bridges during D-Day. So they’ll be helping the Warwicks take the village.

Mike kindly hosted the game at his house - many thanks for the tea and biscuits too!

As it was such a fun and absorbing game, the photos are not quite turn by turn but hopefully you'll get a flavour of the action with the key events.
The sleepy village of Hermanville, Normandy, June 1944
Steve and I decided to keep very little in reserve - we both wanted to put pressure on the Germans right from the start. Here are our forces beginning their advance.
The Allies begin their advance on the village

My force was basically a reinforced platoon of three sections, a mortar, a Vickers, sniper, flame-thrower and an armoured car for that extra bit of punch.
My Paras supported by an armoured car
Steve also had a similarly reinforced platoon but with a mighty Churchill in support. Shermans might have been more appropriate but this is Steve's favourite tank so he simply had to use it.
Steve's British Regulars along with their armour!
Early in the game Mike brought on his Stug to try to knock out the Churchill. The ensuing duel lasted for much of the battle providing some fine moments of entertainment. For most of it the Stug had the upper hand but the shots kept ricocheting off the Churchill's heavily armoured skin. Eventually the Stug was knocked out.
Tank Duel!

Whilst much of Mike's force weren't the finest the Wermacht could offer, he used his few elite troops to excellent effect, pouring shots in to the oncoming British Paras and forcing them to halt their advance and use a turn to rally off a heap of shock.
Mike's troops prepare a warm welcome! But come under heavy fire too.
Here's a wider shot of the Allies left flank. With the Germans accumulating shock, the Paras make the best of the cover to close in on the buildings.
The Paras move up to begin clearing the house and church
Steve's troops in the centre were keen to use the slow moving Churchill as cover whilst a section on the flank rushes towards the barn, with the Vickers helping to keep the German's busy.
Steve's chaps rush the flank whilst his centre pours fire into the buildings
Mike brings on a couple of squads of regulars to reinforce his centre as the Allied artillery barrage (note the target maker on the crossroads) continues to be delayed.
The German centre. Note the marker on the road for the Allied artillery barrage!
As I mentioned earlier, the Stug's shots were bouncing off the Churchill but that did mean that the Allied behemoth was accumulating shock. Steve tried to activate the tank and rolled the dice for the command test ... however the crew had other ideas! It was FUBAR - the crew rapidly shifted in to reverse and gunned the engine ... what they were not aware of was the Lieutenant standing right behind them! We treated this as a tank assault as there was no way the officer could see what was going on. Steve rolled for the morale check on his leader - thankfully he was as cool as a cucumber and dived out of the way.
F-U-B-A-R... Look out, Sir!!
Back on the left, our elite forces traded shots but it was slowly going in favour of the red berets.
Mike's right flank comes under increasing pressure ...
With the tankers taking a short break, the infantry got on with the job. On the right flank Steve's foremost section has reached the barn.
... and his left too!
Couldn't resist this little picture with the sun casting a dramatic shadow on the barn.
A little bit of "cinema"
The next few pics are a bit 'shonky' but we simply couldn't bear to shut out the lovely sunshine! Anyway, with Mike's right flank thinning out rapidly, the Paras bring up the flame-thrower team.
Get that flame-thrower up front! (in front of the wood)
The plan was for the flame-thrower to get in to the now empty building and use it to launch a surprise attack on the Germans in the graveyard. The other Para sections would try to keep the enemy busy by pouring yet more shots in to the enemy.
Bring up the rest of the lads too!
Steve also wastes no time in rushing forward with his men to claim the village!
Steve rushes the buildings
The flame-thrower team used the house as cover from which to hose the Germans in the graveyard. Those hardy fellows took two blasts (along with plenty of LMG shots) before they fell.
Paras use the house as fire base to batter the Germans in the graveyard
A special mention must go to Mike and his Panzershreck team (sorry no photos!). They very boldly pushed forward to get within range of the Churchill but the shot missed. Of course, next turn Steve shot everything he could at the German tank-hunters!

With time pressing we wound up after 8 excellent turns of play. A clear victory for the Allies but Mike and his Germans had put up a very tough fight indeed!


Summary
An enormously enjoyable game with two splendid chums! It was a highly entertaining and enthralling game. The Allied win was a bonus. Our plan of giving the attackers an advantage (20% here) seemed to work but perhaps next time we'll consider reducing it to 15% or even 10%. The buildings held by Mike turned out to be something of a double-edged sword for his men. Superb cover against small arms fire but with both Steve and I packing some HE they could just as easily be death-traps as the shells blasted holes in the walls.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Making Field Tiles

I've decided to make some complete field tiles, as opposed to just putting hedge/fence around areas of the battlefield. I think it adds depth and interest - plus they're fun to build! This is what I've come up with.
The finished article... With Para mortar team for scale

If you're interested in finding out how I made it then please read on. It all starts with a piece of MDF 40cm x 48cm, 3mm thickness. I've sketched on roughly where I want the hedges and gates. Hopefully you can make out my scribbles in the pic below.

The next step is to apply some texture. These are the areas that will not be covered in flock or foliage. The left area will be bare earth whereas on the right I wanted more of a meadow effect. This is just a mix of small stones, grit and sand.

The remaining bare areas of the board are given a coat of textured masonry paint (to which I added some light brown paint). This gives a better base for the next stage; painting! Note British Para for scale. I've also glued a short section of branch to look like a tree stump.

Two of the three 'openings' would be gated. These are from Warbases and I've added gateposts by carving some balsa. Looking at old pics (or just around the countryside now) you can often see wooden gates hung on substantial stone posts, so that was the effect I aimed for. It also makes the gates slightly more robust.

My initial idea was to have all of the field boundaries as hedge (using clump foliage) but as an experiment, and to add interest, I decided to try out a few short sections of rough wooden fencing and corrugated iron.

The fence sections are simply coffee stirrers with match-sticks for the posts. The corrugated iron is an off-cut of plastic-card, again with match-stick posts on the back. The wood is painted a very dark brown, then highlighted with a mid-brown, followed by a very faint highlight of light cream just to bring out the texture. The posts are painted using the Foundry Stone palette. The corrugated iron is the Foundry Slate Grey palette. The rust patches start with Vallejo Leather Brown, then Foundry Conker brown, then dark red, then a mix of ochre and red to get the orange areas.

Next, I attached the gates and fencing to the board. They're quite fragile at this stage so be gentle! The brown was painted on the base first to save fiddly painting after gluing them in place.

The rest of the textured base is covered in a mid brown. Here, I've used Americana Milk Chocolate (you can mail order these from Hobbycraft, for £2 a 59ml bottle). You could also try your local DIY / hardware store to see what tester pots they have.

The highlighting has begun! The milk chocolate areas (without sand/grit) were highlighted with Americana Fawn Brown. The sandy/gritty areas were first painted in Americana Dark Chocolate then heavily dry-brushed with Americana Milk Chocolate.

Further highlighting on the sandy areas with Fawn Brown then a very light dry-brush of a cream colour (DIY store tester pot).

Next, pick out the rocks and some larger stones using Foundry Slate Grey and white.

Now the tile is ready for the flock and grass. Hopefully you can see that I've used a variety of colours to give a good contrast and perhaps add a bit more realism? The little 'paths' around the edges have been left bare so as to make it easier to attach the clump foliage for the hedges. Try to avoid these being too straight.


Here the clump foliage (Woodland Scenics FC57/58/59) is glued in place. I use all purpose glue, but a glue gun would be useful! Start by adding the larger pieces so as to get the basic shape.

Then I add lots of smaller pieces. This makes the hedge a little stronger plus it helps to blend the colours together better. Here's the completed hedging.

Finally, I apply some tufts and flowers.



I didn't quite get the field tile ready for the most recent game in our Normandy campaign - an absolutely brilliant 3,000pt+ battle between Mike, Steve and me - more on the that soon!

I've also got some cornfields ready to go thanks to my beautiful girlfriend Emma! That's 60cm x 90cm for just £6 (from Aldi) :o)

More about this in future posts too.