Sunday, 29 September 2013

Near the White City...

... a peaceful village gets back to work after being visited by a patrol of Rangers and Warriors.

What's this!? Middle Earth when the Western Front seemed top of my list? Well, dear reader, yes and no. I have been largely focussed on WW1 but then on Friday my youngest discovered a box of LotR Elves and asked if we could paint them and play some games! ... Certainly, was my reply.

So, on Saturday I quickly painted up an Elf warrior so as to show what they might look like when painted. On Sunday morning Katie started painting her own Elf archer. Whilst painting she asked if we could play a game and use her figure. Crumbs but it's been ages since I last ventured in to Middle Earth on the tabletop but how could I possibly refuse?

I asked her what sort of game what she'd like to play. "Don't worry" she said, "I'll explain as we go along" and she set to thinking up a scenario and back ground. Here's the small village she arranged.

Her idea was that a small village near the White City had been host to a patrol of Rangers and Warriors, but after the men of Gondor had left, the village was attacked by a roving band of Orcs. However, the Orcs were being tracked by a pair of Elves who helped the farmer fend off the villainous creatures of Mordor. But the sounds of battle drew yet more Orcs to the fray. The Orcs were not the only ones the hear the fighting; the men of Gondor returned to the village as quickly as they could to save the day. I must say that she thought all this up by herself and, after raiding my store of scenery, arranged the table as she wanted. Not bad for someone barely in to double figures eh?

She even drew out a rough sketch of the table before explaining the scenario to me!

Here's the village.

The farmer and his daughter.

The first group of Rangers return to the village as the Orcs begin their attack.

Hurrah for Faramir!

Yet more Orcs close in on the village. Woe! The first round of Orcish archery claims the Elven archer (so recently painted by her loveliness - I did explain that newly painted figures always kark it first!!). I'm pleased to report that she displayed superb sportsmanship throughout the game.

But wait! Are they reinforcements for Gondor?

The Orcish horde continue their relentless advance.

The Rangers try to hold the village.

The fighting is fierce with no quarter asked or given,

The Orcs are given a thrashing but their weakened morale holds.

Finally, their losses prove too great and the Orcs head for Mordor. Hurrah for Gondor, the Elves and the West!

Here are the two newest additions to my collection. On the left is my based coated, inked and highlighted sword warrior, whilst on the right is Katie's base-coated Elf Archer. Given that this is her 4th or 5th painted figure, I hope you'll agree that she's made a fine start.

I'm so thrilled that she came up with the background story, the scenario and the table layout herself. I simply applied a basic version of the LotR rules make the game work very nicely.

Enjoy your gaming!

Monday, 23 September 2013

Great War on the Somme

Orange Dave kindly arranged a splendid evening's Great War gaming, so with the help of Rob, Steve, Mike, Alan and another Steve, we went Over The Top!

The battles took place on two tables, the smaller table was the French sector (possibly the Verdun area) and featured a network of bunkers. The larger table was The Somme where the Canadians and British were seeking to breakthrough the German front line and capture their objectives, a ruined village and a shelled wood.

Hopefully Dave will post his scenario notes on the Scarab forum.

We begin with the BEF and CEF deployment, the CEF (me) are on the left flank and include a Mk I tank.

The RFC Reconnaissance aircraft passes along the Allied lines giving a better view of the German trench line.

Now a closer look at the Germans as the RFC buzz over the trenches.

Watch out sir! Fritz has a machine gun trained upon us. Bank right and dive!

The first British objective; an area of shelled woodland affording an excellent view of the battlefield. Just the place for the Boche to park one of their 77's.

The remains of the village, held by an HMG and a few brave infantry.

The attacks gets under way. Now early tanks weren't exactly reliable contraptions and mine was no exception, failing every breakdown test but thankfully the results meant it could still head towards the enemy.

The Canadians and British negotiate the wire and craters in the centre of the battlefield, all the while under heavy fire from enemy HMGs and artillery.

That's the spirit chaps! Up and at them. The tank creaks and groans closer to the line whilst the infantry provide close support.

But on the left the wire is proving a rather tricky obstacle for some platoons. The HMG in the German trenches made good use of the delay, hammering the poor infantry as they got tangled in the wire. However, the Assault Party (my Highlander figures) make good progress.

The Mk I, "Arthur" rears skyward as it prepares to crush the enemy in the trenches. Both 77's opened up on the steel behemoth; one missed and the other ricocheted off the front armour. Phew! That was a close call.

The Assault Party make short work of the Germans and prepare to tackle the HMG.

Similarly, along the trench the Canadians mount a ferocious attack on the German infantry as they prepared to attack the tank with grenades. But that Musket platoon (with 2 or 3 MG08/15's) are uncomfortably close.

Again, the 77's were trained upon the tank and both scored a hit. The first punched through the front armour to destroy the forward HMG, but the second decided the issue as the shell tore through the engine and wrecked the tank. Poor "Arthur"!?

Undaunted, the attack continued all along the lines. By now the number of Allied scoring units in the trenches exceeded the Germans, so the signal for the counter-attack was given. Note that a small unit of Canadians have passed the trench line and are pressing on towards the wood. That's the way chaps!

Here we can see that the British have made an excellent job of clearing the trenches as they continue their advance toward the village. However, the Allies were now starting to exceed the range of their supporting weapons such as HMGs and Mortars. This meant that the infantry had little more than a few Lewis Guns and their rifles to take on the German MG08s and 77mm guns positioned behind the lines.

The German counter-attack builds up momentum! The scenarios meant that when the German counter-attack began in the British sector, no more German reinforcements would be available in the French sector; a fact that was to have a real effect on that battle.

What's this? The blare of trumpets and the thundering of hooves ... Huzzah for the British Cavalry! With much of the trench line now firmly in Allied hands the "Brass Hats" have decided to send the cavalry forward to exploit a potential breakthrough.

After a headlong rush the cavalry tackle some rather surprised German infantry. The affair was particularly one-sided, the few remaining Germans quickly surrendered.

The cavalry then went on to tackle the infantry within the ruined village. Alas such terrain does not suit horses and they were easily repulsed then slaughtered. Less 'war horse' and more 'main course' ;o)

The game continued with the German Stormtroopers launching a rapid attack on the centre of the trench lines, supported by several flamethrowers. The British and Canadians took heavy casualties but newly arrived reinforcements exacted a heavy toll on the Germans in return. With time drawing on we had to finish after perhaps 9 or 10 turns. Both of the objectives remained in German hands although the trench line was mainly held by the Allies. A draw then methinks, although if we had been able to play for another hour then I think the Allies might just have worn down the Germans enough to take the village and the wood. Perhaps!

Now please forgive my focus on the Somme table, it was a very busy and exciting evening, but I did manage to bag a few pics of events. Dave and Steve were certainly having a good game with regular cries of "The bunker is ours!". It was clearly a closely fought engagement.

Here are a few of (t'other) Steve's lovely Early War French rushing forward to capture one of the four bunkers on the table.

More follow to reinforce the attack. What a superb flag.

A French Hotchkiss HMG provides covering fire for the advance.

Victoire! The French celebrate as the Germans are driven from one of the bunkers.

The game finished with a close win for the French as they held two bunkers to the German's one.

Two super games and a lot of fun. More please Monsieur d'Orange.

Monday, 16 September 2013


Or more accurately; what I bought at Colours! Ahem ... due to what are best termed “camera issues” I’m afraid I haven’t got any pics from the show itself, even of our demo game of War & Conquest :o(
However, I have linked to some pics from other blogs plus I thought you might be interested to hear a little bit about the show.

As you probably know it’s a two day show, but we only attended for the Saturday, which from experience is the day the majority of people seem to attend. Fellow Scarab chum and I staged a demo game of War & Conquest (Saxons vs Vikings at The Battle of Ashingdon) whilst Rob manned the Scarab stand.

This year we were in the Annexe which is a separate building about 25m from the main grandstand. The only real issue seemed to be a lack of clear signage in the main show area letting attendees know that there was more to see in the Annexe.

Anyway, in between slaughtering each other in what proved to be a splendid Dark Ages battle, I had a very quick dash around the tables and trade stands.

One of the highlights for me was BigRedBat’s Thapsus game, superb figures and terrain, plus I was delighted to be able to meet the man himself for a quick chat. Certainly good to be able to put a face to the blog. Hopefully catch up with you at some future shows too.

Another highlight was being introduced to Sidney Roundwood. After corresponding via the blogosphere for some time now it was a pleasure to meet up and have a chat. Look forward to seeing you at a Great War gaming day some time :o)  Sidney has a good report of the show on his excellent blog.

My purchases this year were quite modest compared to previous shows, a very recent bill of more than £600 when my car failed it’s MOT saw to that!!

First up were some paints. Some general purpose "leather" colours from Foundry, plus some lighter colours for use on basing as my old GW pots are running out.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I bought some more Germans from Rob. This is the command and support weapons in gas masks pack, plus a pack of casualties - ideal as pinned markers or just as (slightly macabre?) decoration for the table.

Phil has made some superb W&C Push and Shove markers by creating mini vignettes on these Warbases items. Next time we get together I'll make sure I get some pics as they're splendid and certainly drew plenty of praise from people viewing our game.

Passing the Conquest Games stand I just couldn't resist getting these two lovely command figures. But alas my Norman army is still lurking unassembled in boxes.

Finally I picked up a couple of Great War themed packs of "scenic clutter" from Grand Manner that caused quite a bit of discussion and interest with Phil and Rob. Both are sets of crates, ammunition, weapons, helmets, grenades, etc. The first is for the Germans.

This is the British version. They'll be ideal for a range of things such as adding extra detail to bases and scenery, objectives markers, etc. Each set is about £6.50.

Chatting with Dave at GM he explained that he started with sets for ANZACs and Turks when he built the Gallipoli table for Salute a few years back and decided that gamers with other armies would also like suitable packs.

That's about it, other than to promise to get some proper pictures at the next show I attend!

Friday, 6 September 2013

My First Germans

At long last I have started painting my Great War German army for the Western Front!

As with any new gaming project I like to paint a couple of test figures first, just to make sure I've got the colours right, etc.

Here's a soldier and a junior officer.

From behind.

The figures are Great War Miniatures.

Painting scheme was
1. Black undercoat
2. Uniform, Foundry Granite Shade, then Foundry Granite mid.
3. Skin, Foundry Flesh, shade, mid, light
4. Blanket, Foundry Rawhide shade, then mid.
5. Leather, various colours but Foundry Bay Brown shade, followed by a mix of Bay mid and Foundry Scarlet gave a good rich leather finish. Also used Foundry Deep Brown Leather, and Vallejo Leather Brown.
6. Boots & belts, quick highlight with Foundry Slate Grey shade.
7. Pistol & Rifle, very light highlight with GW Boltgun metal.

All comments welcome! Do you think the "field grey" uniform is about right? Thanks to Ray Earle for the tip about the Foundry colour.

They took a while to paint but that was because I kept stopping to re-consider colours, etc. They are certainly easier to paint than the British!

I also chose a slightly more subdued basing scheme which I think somehow seems to suit the figures better?

Anyway, lots more to go! I'm planning to start with a 1918 Sturmabteilung force for WHW's The Great War rules. More about the force in a later post.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Fighting the Austro-Hungarians

Last Sunday Rob kindly invited me to join him and Phil at Scarab Towers for a game of Great War. Not knowing exactly what we'd be playing I simply packed most of my terrain and all my Western Front British and set forth.

When I arrived I was delighted to find that Rob and Phil had set up a splendid looking table and two armies were deployed ready to begin. It didn't take me long to realise that this was no conventional Western Front battle... Instead, we were fighting along the banks of the Piave as the plucky Italians (with the last moment addition of a few Brits) had a crack at the Austro-Hungarian (A/H) trenches.

Here are the A/H Trenches packed with troops. Gulp! If you're wondering why they bear more than a passing resemblance to Germans troops then that's because Germany supplied much of the materiel for the A/H army.

EDIT: Rob @ Scarab has some super photos HERE. Should have linked them first time around!?

The Italian/British left flank. Mainly Italian regulars with some British. The other flank (to the left in the pic) was a battalion of Italian 'Arditi' - the rather better 'shock' troops.

As the for the rules, well here was another pleasant surprise. We were to try out some very early ideas for Scarab's own set of Great War rules! I can't really say any more than they have a definite War & Conquest 'feel' and that they are a very promising start.

The early part of the battle went in favour of the A/H's, particularly when it came to their HMGs and Artillery support - but then we were attacking well prepared positions.

Phil's Arditi close in on the A/H flanking HMG. It was a desperate attack - with predictable results! (Sorry about some of the pics being a too bright)

On the Allied left flank progress is slow but the A/H HMGs cannot quite seem to get their act together, so they bravely push on through a hail of bullets.

This HMG team had given the Arditi a good deal of punishment, but even an almost direct hit from supporting artillery couldn't quite finish them off - although they were pinned! Such is the fickle nature of artillery!?

Some of Phil's Arditi, supported by a flame thrower, attack the front line trench. The tough Italian fighters made short work of the A/H regulars.

More Arditi assault a damaged trench section, again with considerable success. On the left some Italian regulars close in, but cannot quite reach the enemy line and are pinned down by rifles and HMGs. The A/H reserves have been committed to stabilise the front line trench.

The Italian regulars on the left finally reach the A/H trenches, with the British in close support.

As I mentioned earlier, the early part of the battle went in favour of the defending A/H, but as the casualties mounted and the larger Allied force closed the distance, the defenders had a real fight on their hands to hold the trench lines. In the end it was a effectively a draw, although I'm sure Phil will agree that we must have had the moral victory! Both forces had suffered terrible casualties, so with the first trench line mainly in allied hands it would all depend upon who could muster reserves in order to either exploit a partial breakthrough, or mount a counter-attack to recapture the trench!

A jolly good fun game played very much in the spirit of "Gentleman Wargamers". The rules we played (and adjusted during play!) are a very promising start and I look forward to more enjoyable wargaming.

Many thanks to Rob for inviting me along, hosting a great game and being a first class good sport. Thanks also to Phil for letting me take command of part of his army and for being a great ally.

More please!