Sunday, 27 March 2011

Dwarven Submarine!

... and now for something completely different... ;-)

Many years ago my old friend Tim and I came up with the idea of "Warhammer Ahoy!". It's still going strong here and I'm pleased to think that some of our ideas made it in to Warhammer Historical's Legends of the High Seas.

The basis was that the Reikland River Patrol - led by the tireless Otto von Blick - were trying to defeat the river pirates - led by the infamous yet mysterious pirate known only as 'The Wolf' (think of the Stig but with more "aa-harr me hearties")

Our games had a narrative all of their own, with each game leading on to the next - or even starting a whole new campaign direction. No question of points-per-side and all that rhubarb. Games were played with whatever figures we had available and it was up to the GM to keep things in balance and most importantly, to keep the story alive! Heady stuff indeed.

The Reikland River Patrol soon found allies in the Dwarves and here's their contribution to the fleet. Mostly scratch-built from card, balsa and plasticard - with the odd bit from an old Empire Steam Tank.

The Spirit of Grimnir
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Anyway ... what's the reason for all this nostalgic rambling? Well, I've been sorting out my gaming stuff and found all my old Warhammer Ahoy! stuff. What to do with it though? The simple answer was to give it to my children to add to their Lego collection - so for a lot of today this 'sub' along with a much larger scratch-built sailing boat (and other boats too) has been sailing around the upstairs rooms crewed by all sort of Lego folk. Remember - they're toys after all!?

The Captain shown on deck here is a temporary stand-in. The true Captain was known as "the Dwarf with the chicken on his head" as the figure was sculpted with some sort of dragon like crest on his helm. Classic figures indeed.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Scenery for The Great War

It's been ages (several years in fact) since I made any proper pieces of scenery. The last lot was a bunch of Warhammer-esque timber framed buildings for my then local wargaming club in Christchurch, NZ. So I decided I'd have a break from painting figures and make some more scenery - this time for wargaming The Great War.

First we have a sort of emplacement or part of a revetted slip trench.

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And from the rear.

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Almost every era of gaming can make use of broken ground or "area terrain", so I've made these without any period specific items such as discarded pila or rifles, etc. I made enough for approx four large-ish areas.

Area Terrain
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No Great War battlefield would look right without some sections of barbed wire. I think it looks quite evocative and really sets the scene, so I've built several and here's one.

Barbed Wire
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Making scenery is fairly easy so if you've never been inclined then I'd really recommend giving it a whirl.

All of these items are based on 3mm hardboard for extra durability. The sides of the emplacement were made from high density polystyrene (blue styrofoam). The revetting was simply balsa glued to card. The posts for the wire are cocktail sticks and the wire itself is from Scarab, and just £3 for 5m.

Everything is covered in PVA and fine sand. Then painted in various shades of brown and sand, plus additional static grass (two colours) and a few bits of woodland scenics foliage.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Blast, Pinned and Falling Back Markers

Where rulesets call for units to be noted as affected by the rules in some manner, I prefer to have appropriate markers rather than using whatever odds and ends are available - usually a spare dice.

In WH's The Great War units can be 'pinned' either from shells/bombs or from HMG shooting. Here are blast markers - made just as shown in this month's Wargames Illustrated.

Fall Back!
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These markers are to show the ground being churned up by machine gun fire. They're bit of cotton wool covered in glue then painted.

Fall Back!
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Finally, these are to denote units that are 'falling back'.

Fall Back!
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Thursday, 17 March 2011

BEF and Kiwis

I've often wanted to give my BEF a bit of Kiwi flavour so that they could be used as part of the NZEF sent to the Western Front. Now, I haven't looked at the Gripping Beast WW! range for quite some time, so I was delighted to see this range

Absolutely perfect! I can order Brits in serge uniforms but with 'lemon squeezer' hats. OK, on the western front I'm sure most soldiers would have worn the steel 'brodie' helmet - if available. But sprinkling a few models in amongst them with those distinctive hats will give just the right appearance.

Well done GB :o)

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Ideas for Aircraft Rules

I've been doing quite a bit of thinking about how to include aircraft in WW1 games, so here's my initial thoughts. They're just ideas at this stage (having not been tested on the field of battle) so all constructive comments are welcome.

These rules aim to provide a fairly straight-forward way to include aircraft in games of TGW. They do not aim to provide an accurate simulation of early combat aviation. Also, they are by no means complete (or playtested) so a certain amount of gentlemanly discretion and good sportsmanship will be required. However, those qualities should prevail during any good game of toy soldiers.

It is assumed that the aircraft model is mounted on a tall base or 'stick', but there is no need to make the height adjustable. No particular account is made of altitude. Aircraft are assumed to be providing support for ground troops and are thus swooping back and forth across the battlefield at fairly low altitudes.

It is not necessary to wear a stiffened white scarf, a large handle-bar moustache or to loudly say phrases such as "Tally ho chaps!" but to do so will surely add to the enjoyment of all.

Move in the controlling player's movement phase just like other troops.

Min speed 12"
Max speed 30"

Turns are made at any point during movement.
Slow speed is 18" or less, up to 3 x 45 degree turns.
Medium speed is 24" or less, up to 2 x 45 degree turns.
Fast speed is 30" or less, only 1 x 45 degree turn.

Flying off table
The aircraft returns in the players next movement phase, at the point where it left the table. It may only fly at Slow speed that turn.

Depending upon the type of aircraft and whether it's EW or LW the pilot and aircraft may be equipped in a variety of ways. This is up to the players to agree.

When firing weapons assume that the plane is flying sufficiently low so as to be able to hit targets on the ground. This also means that troops on the ground can shoot back! Pilots (and each extra crewman if applicable) may do one of the following actions whilst flying
- fire a weapon (usually the aircraft's machine guns)
- drop a grenade
- drop a bomb

Measuring range to the target
Range from/to the aircraft is calculated as 12" plus the distance from the point on the ground immediately below the aircraft. The aircraft is not bound by the rules requiring troops to shoot at the nearest target.

Rifles / Pistols
Pilots carry a pistol. For EW they may be equipped with a carbine or shotgun, etc. To fire these the aircraft must be moving slowly.

Place the small blast marker on the ground at any point below the aircraft's path.
Roll the Artillery and Scatter dice.
Accuracy (or otherwise) depends on the flying speed of the aircraft
Slow => A 'hit' indicates that the grenade has landed on target, otherwise
scatter half the number on the Artillery dice in the direction indicated.
Medium => Always scatter the full distance rolled on the Artillery dice.
Fast => Pilot is too busy flying to mess about with grenades.
On the roll of a misfire the grenade is a dud, or explodes mid-air, and has no

Machine Guns
Assumed to be Lewis Gun(s), MG08/15's or equivalent. Two shots per gun. Range 24".
Flying at Slow or Medium speed => Require 5+ to hit.
Flying at Fast speed => Require 6+ to hit.
Aircraft are assumed to be equipped with sufficient ammunition to last the
battle. Note - you may wish to vary the required to hit score, perhaps depending
upon whether the pilot is ace? This is left entirely to the players discretion.

Determine target as per grenades. Resolve as per off table artillery.
If the aircraft is equipped with more than one bomb then players should keep a
note as to how many have been dropped.

Ground to Air Shooting
Aircraft have a Armour Value of 9 on all sides. Whilst they are not armoured, this represents the difficulty of hitting a sufficiently vulnerable point on a aircraft weaving through the skies. It also will (hopefully) encourage troops on the ground to use LMGs and/or HMGs in an anti-aircraft role as the higher strength gives a better chance of damaging the aircraft.

Measure range as 12" plus range to the point on the ground immediately below the aircraft.

For any penetrating / glancing hits roll on the appropriate aircraft damage chart
Note - Aircraft flying at fast speed can only receive glancing hits

Aircraft Damage Chart - Glancing Hit
1-2 - Pilot attempts to evade the shooting - must fly straight next turn to regain control
3 - Ailerons damaged - reduce number of turns by 1
4 - Engine damaged - may not fly faster than 24"
5 - Pilot hit - Resolve as normal, if killed then next turn the plane will crash
6 - Engine destroyed - next turn the plane will crash

Aircraft Damage Chart - Penetrating Hit
1-2 - Pilot attempts to evade the shooting - must fly straight next turn to regain control and may not shoot
3 - Rudder damaged - must roll 4+ on D6 in order to perform a turn
4 - Engine damaged - may not fly faster than 18"
5 - Pilot killed - next turn the plane will crash
6 - Engine destroyed - next turn the plane will crash

Move the aircraft before any other troops.
Roll the Scatter dice and 3D6. The aircraft hits the ground at this point.
Resolve blast as per off table artillery.

Air to Air Shooting
Aircraft may shoot at other aircraft that are within range and arc of fire.
Aircraft generally have a 45 degree arc of fire to the front.
For aircraft with dedicated gunners or pintle mounted guns, determine the arc(s) of fire as appropriate.

Measure range from the shooting aircraft to the target aircraft. Unlike air to ground shots, the difficulty of the shot is determined by range as both shooter and target are highly manoeuvrable.
Range up to 6" hit on 4+, up to 12" hit on 5+, otherwise hit on a 6+.
Resolve hits as per ground to air shooting
Note - as mentioned earlier more experienced pilots may be a better shot.

Take-off & Landing
Aircraft can only land on (or take off from) designated runways, not on open areas of battlefield.
Aircraft land / take off at slow speed and may not shoot that turn.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Great War Event - Part II

Here are some more photos, along with a few notes, from the recent Scarab Miniatures Great War Event.

I borrowed some BEF from Rob in order to bulk out my force to a sensible size. Here they are manning the impromptu trench line looking out across no man's land ready for the enemy.
Scarab Miniatures Great War Event
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For this game there were three objectives along the trench line that the Germans had to capture. You can see two (just) in this picture. The first is a group of barrels in the background. The second is the ruined building in the centre of my line. Here I placed my best fighters, the Highlanders. The NCO is even helpfully pointing out the German advance.

Scarab Miniatures Great War Event
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Looking along the trench, in the foreground we can see the small haystack used to represent the battalion command post (we were pushed for suitable markers!) and to its left you can just make out some of the battalion command. Keith very kindly loaned me his 'Whiteviper' figures (from Scarab) to use as my commander.

Scarab Miniatures Great War Event
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The view from the other end of the line. I kept the tank in reserve to help plug any gaps that might appear in the line ... but I forgot that it doesn't count as a scoring unit so cannot therefore capture/hold an objective!

Scarab Miniatures Great War Event
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Keith's Germans are wonderfully painted. All Sturmtruppen too - yikes! Note the flamethrower on the right. The tank on the right is a scratch built "Panzer K-wagen". In reality very few were built, they weighed in at around 150 tons and required a crew of 22.

Scarab Miniatures Great War Event
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More of Keith's figures. A light field gun, more storm troops and a captured MkIV Male tank.

Scarab Miniatures Great War Event
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A close up of some of the 'Whiteviper' command. Melchett and Darling I think?

Scarab Miniatures Great War Event
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Part way through the game in this picture. The German heavy artillery (off-table but shown in the top-left) tore my line to shreds with some amazingly accurate shooting. The tank has moved up to occupy the building and to engage the German MkIV. To it's left you can see quite a bit of empty trench too, with the Germans about to attack.

Scarab Miniatures Great War Event
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This game resulted in a very narrow victory for the BEF. The Germans made it in to the trenches but a desperate, last minute counter attack by the British meant that one objective remained in allied hands. Had one more German survived the trench assault then it would have been a draw with one objective each!

Whilst most of the games were set in the Late War (LW) era, one table had a great looking Early War (EW) game going on. The British and Belgian forces, supported by a French monoplane, were trying to hold back the advancing Germans. Aren't Pickelhaubs great headgear!?

Scarab Miniatures Great War Event
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The Belgians (with dog drawn HMG carts!) and the British. I also like the way the Belgian commanders are on horseback ... it's not Waterloo you know. All of the scenery belongs to Phil and I think it looks superb!

Scarab Miniatures Great War Event
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After lunch (a big thank you to Barbara and the girls for the excellent food) players swapped around and a second set of games got underway. The games were played using rules from The Great War (Warhammer Historical) but instead of the normal turn sequence a deck of cards was used to determine which units could move, shoot, etc. This way two unequal forces could engage each other on an equal basis by adjusting the deck contents. It took a bit of getting used to (especially for an I-go-you-go player like me) but it worked really well. Details can be found on the Scarab forum.

Finally, a scene from the second game of the day. The Highlanders have infiltrated the church yard in an attempt to get close to the German tank and take it out with grenades. In the background German Storm troops hold the grounds of a small manor house. The Highlanders bravely leapt over the wall and closed on the tank, but then the Germans drew a card allowing them to 'activate' the tank which blazed away with it's HMGs cutting the brave troops to shreds.

Scarab Miniatures Great War Event
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Two splendid games, plus plenty of others going too. An excellent day and a real boost for my gaming enthusiasm.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Great War Event

On the 6th March a number of Great War enthusiasts gathered in a village hall near Nottigham for day of gaming fun that was Scarab's 3rd gaming day, and what fun it proved to be.

For both games I was fighting against Keith's beautifully painted Germans, in the second game I was allied with Chris and his superb BEF.

For the first game I was defending a trench-line against a German attack. The game was good fun and very close indeed. The BEF scored a victory by the closest of margins. Had the game continued beyond the allotted time then the Germans would certainly have overwhelmed the defenders!

The second game saw myself and Chris allied to attack a German trench line, but once again the German artillery support proved to be superb, along with their HMG's, both tearing great holes in the BEF lines.

Two great games and a splendid lunch in between!

Here's a few pics

The first games
TGW Event
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from the other end
TGW Event
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Some of Ray's superb AH
TGW Event
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Early war action
TGW Event
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Keith's splendid "Big Bertha"
TGW Event
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The second games
TGW Event
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More info here