Projects line up for 2013

Assuming the world doesn’t perish in a great fiery cataclysm tomorrow (although with the paucity of posting you could be forgiven for thinking that I had already gone that way), the following are the wargaming projects I have earmarked for completion in 2013.

1. The French Revolutionary Wars. This is my ongoing 15mm project that I hope to have completed and ready to game with by the end of January. A month ago I was on track for this, but then I just got so busy that my production line of painting halted completely.  I’m looking at solo gaming this using an adaptation of Neil Thomas’ rules in his Introduction to Wargaming book. I love the basic simplicity, but I have altered the structure to make it simultaneous phases allowing all units the opportunity to move and fire. I’ve also added a command structure with a purpose, so I’m looking forward to trying this out.  I plan to game out the Battlegames tabletop teasers and scenarios out of Charles Grant and Stuart Asquith’s Wargames Scenarios.

2. Star Wars. I’m pretty happy with the adaptations I’ve made to the basic FUBAR rules and the lists I’ve created. I’ve had several games now, but I keep forgetting to take my camera, so no battle reports I’m afraid. Anyway, I’m just painting up all of the bases unit by unit at the moment, and this looks due to be finished  at the beginning of next year. I had considered repainting the old prepaints, but it has occured to me how much less stressful it is not to worry about chipping paint jobs. I have no qualms with handling the figures indelicately and for that reason I don’t think that I will bother. It is not, at least, a priority.

3. Superheroes. I’m just getting more and more into this project, despite the fact that I am still not sure exactly how the rules will work. I have Supersystem, but to be honest, I’ve read through and had a couple of trial solo games, but the rules just don’t work for me. I like simple, and although many people have commented that these are simple, I don’t find this so. I’ve discovered some rules written by Pete Jones of Freewargamesrules which, like FUBAR are written on one sheet of A4. I’ve read through them and find them very elegant. I have some ideas to add to them which I’ve been dreaming up over the last few days, although I haven’t yet put pen to paper.  I’ve also been building up a cityscape terrain and repainting the odd character here and there. Below are a couple of my efforts.

Confronting Magneto 1

And a close up of the figures. Recalling the first issue of X-Men, it is the original X-Men vs Magneto. Although versus the modern versions of the most uncanny teens of all I think the master of magnetism is in a bit of trouble. Then again, the odds are pretty good that Jean Grey will actually be dead within a few seconds, as is her wont.

Confronting Magneto 2

 

4. The Yom Kippur War. This is all painted now, with an accumulation of 21 lovely T-55s. The terrain is done too. So all that is left is to actually playtest the lists we have for 3rd edition. I’m determined to do this in 2013, along with writing some scenarios based on the fighting in the Sinai.

T 55s charge

‘So Shmuel, another boring day sitting on this hill… Hang On! WTF!’

Yes it is a T-55 parking lot – so actually quite realistic for some of the Egyptian tank attacks in 1973. Still, I wouldn’t want to be in one of those two Sh’ots. Quite impressed I got all of the T-55s into the picture actually.

5. The Three Musketeers. Unless it is sci-fi or superheroes I am making 15mm (18mm) my scale of choice, basically because of the interchangeability of scenery and the swiftness of painting. I purchased all of the different packs in the Blue Moon Miniatures Three Musketeers range because I couldn’t resist the figures or the idea of gaming it. I’ll be using Flashing Blades from Ganesha Games and these are the first few figures that I’ve painted.

Three Musketeer fight

‘Ah Monsieur! You giggled! Your giggling is an insult to my honour. Prepare to fight to the death!’ 

Yet again our heroes skewer their enemies over an insignificant matter which would be indefensible in a court of law today, but which was apparently a perfectly reasonable incitement to kill in the France of Louis XIII. Anyway, they are the cardinal’s men, and obviously baddies that deserve it.

Close up of Aramis dueling away.

Aramis en garde

6. The Great War. All based up and ready for undercoating, these are the 18mm Blue Moon Manufacturing British and German Late War figures. This is a major project, not because of the figures, but because I am going to construct a detailed 4′ x 4′ trench system for them. I’ve weighed this up a lot. My favourite period to game is 1918 where the lines were much more fluid, and for that modular free-standing trenches would be sufficient. But I might want to fight out earlier battles, and in 1918 there were still trench lines that were the old ones from the battle of the Somme and the Hindenburg line which had been reoccupied and were fought over. So I am going to go the whole hog and construct a system.  I’m looking at using the Too Fat Lardies rules – Through the Mud and Blood, and have recently made up a series of cards for them.

Also Great War, but a departure from the norm, is the construction of naval fleets for the Germans and the British in 1/3000. I just love Dreadnought Battleships,  especially in this period and so earlier this year I purchased to starter packs from NavWar. I’ve been surfing the net looking at possible rules, and it came down to a choice of Naval Thunder or Victory at Sea (WWI version). After reading several reviews I came to the conclusion that I will go with Victory at Sea, because everyone has said that they are simple – and so am I.

My first completed Battleship is below:

Royal Sovereign side Royal Sovereign stern

 

HMS Royal Sovereign, ready to set to sea.

So those are the aims for 2013. I have plenty of other projects kicking around which I may get to next year as well, but for now I want to keep it modest and achievable. Then anything else will be a bonus.  More to the point, I want to make sure that I actually play the games that I am working on. Too often my plan is to build and paint a project and i don’t really give the gaming a fair go. The one exception was the Marlburian period where I played a series of solo and opposed games in a linked campaign. The aim is to do something similar with the French Revolution (again set in the imagi-nation of Frankenberg) and the Superheroes (a linked series of adventures).

Well, have a happy end of ages when the long count finally gets to where it is going, and hopefully over the Christmas holiday period (we get 6 weeks in NZ), I can post a little more often.

Nate

 

 

 

More toys for Yom Kippur Flames of War

I’ve ordered even more goodies for the Flames of War 1973 project, including another three Centurion Sh’ot Cals and these beauties that I have pictures of below:

First up, three times the M51 Isherman. These are Quality Castings models that I bought from Old Glory 15s. They are my reserve force, specifically for scenarios and I just love the models.

 

This is the same M48 that has appeared in earlier pictures, but look closely. It now has the 105mm barrel of the upgraded Magach rather than the original 90mm barrel. I asked Steve at OG 15s whether I was able to buy the 105mm barrels from the Centurion Sh’ot Cals separately in order to convert my existing models. He was exceptionally helpful and said no problem. I have to say that I was as excited to receive these half dozen barrels as I was to receive the rest of the order that I had made from him (some extra 7 years War cavalry and Austrians for the French Revolutionary War project). No all of my Magachs have a decent 1973 gun on them. The only flaw is that the Israelis altered the cupola as well so that the .50 cal was not integral to it, but I think that would just be a step too far.

 

I felt like the Israelis didn’t really have enough options, and with only two M103 mortar carriers I decided to boost there low level fire support. These are Quality castings Israeli mortars – four teams plus a command stand and an observer. I have visions of these guys being used in a Bar-Lev Maoz (fort). I’m thinking through how to build the terrain piece and write up a scenario for it.  Needless to say, when it is done it will be posted here.

 

Finally I purchased and finished painting up some Egyptians. pictured is one of the three BRDM scout cars and one of the six BTR-60 APCs. As I think BMPs should only be used in certain specific scenarios I wanted a more generic APC, and this is it. It is a big heavy model! Both are from the Command Decision Modern range from Old Glory 25s.  Not pictured but also purchased and painted up – another three T-55s. But this wasn’t enough. I have since bought another 6 T-55s which I am just putting together at the moment. Grand T-55 total? 21. Will that be enough? We’ll wait and see.

Nate

 

Quarrie’s book on the Arab-Israeli Wars

Tank Battles in Miniature: A wargamer’s guide to the Arab-Israeli Wars since 1948

For the princely sum of £1.70 plus £7 postage I purchased a second hand copy of this book via Amazon Marketplace. I stayed up late last night reading it from cover to cover and feel it is worth every penny.

Written in 1978, a mere five years after the Yom Kippur conflict the book suffers from being too close to the conflict to have benefited from information that may have come to light later, and Quarrie readily admits this. Yet it has some extremely useful information, especially regarding ATGMs and the way that they were treated and perceived. He describes the evolution of of ‘watch and dodge’ to deal with saggers, and the dent in the Israeli tank hubris as a result of the first days of the war. He points out the lessons that the Israeli tanks commanders seemed to have forgotten by 1973 about concentration of force and effective combined arms tactics. He does this all in a succinct style designed to get the gamer’s head into the nuts and bolts of the Arab-Israeli wars. I particularly liked chapter 2 – What it was really like where he quotes from Shabtai Teveth’s Tanks of Tammuz in order to set the scene for the gamer of how combat in swirling melees of Cold War armour was experienced by the ordinary tanker .

The book’s contents are:

Introduction

Glossary

1 Prelude to conflict – The Middle East and the establishment of Israel up until 1948

2 What it was really like – extracts from Tanks of Tammuz

3 Chronology of the Arab-Israeli Wars 1948-1973 – a succinct review of the politics, wars and campaigns

4 Israeli Armoured Fighting Vehicles –  the essentials – armour, speeds, armament etc. Interestingly he mentions the Merkava as it is just being introduced.

5 Arab fighting vehicles – as above but for the other side.

6 Anti-tank missiles and recoiless weapons

7 Towed artillery and anti-tank guns

8 Rocket artillery

9 Infantry weapons

10 Organisation and tactics

11 Minefields

12 Helicopters

13 Playing rules

14 Skirmish-type games

15 Aerial warfare, by Mike Spick

16 Aerial wargaming, by Mike Spick

17 The naval war

Appendix: Availability of model vehicles (in 1978!)

Select bibliography

Index

136 pages in total.

The rules are interesting in that Quarrie admits that they have not been playtested thoroughly (in a published book) and they were written for a then newly-emerging 1/300 scale. But what I find most interesting is that he abandons armour thicknesses and replaces these with generic categories of light medium and heavy. His rationale is that the weapons being used could pretty much penetrate anything within a certain category (eg. tanks guns could go through heavy armour) and individual thicknesses are not needed.

I won’t be using his rules, but they will give me some ideas to go with my Flames of War modifications.

Overall, I’m really glad I bought this book and would recommend it to anyone interested in gaming the conflicts as a primer. If you see it second hand, pick it up. Hopefully John Curry might end up reprinting it as part of his History of Wargaming project.

Nate

Desert Terrain

I completed my desert boards a couple of weeks back.

I borrowed some paint off John because I am colour blind and have had real issues trying to come up with decent desert colours. I bought a sheet to spray paint but it was way too green by the time I got it on the table. I bought some paint but it was too light. I don’t know what colour this is, but it works perfectly.

Desert terrain is important this year as I build my WW2 Desert Italians and aim to playtest some army lists for the Yom Kippur War using Flames of War 3rd Edition. I’m now waiting on the Battlefront big desert building and some Pegasus palm trees to complete the set.

Nate

 

Zuzzy mat finished

So here it is in all of its glory, with some Egyptian armour for perspective.

Now I will build some hills with the same colours and similar textures, a few small Arab houses (John said that he will make these for me), and I’ll purchase some Pegasus palm trees, which will bring all of my desert terrain and the whole Yom Kippur War project to completion.  I’ll put up another battle report sometime soon.

Nate

Work in Progress – Zuzzy mat

Dan bought some Zuzzy mats last year, and didn’t take them with him to Oz.  He told me to use them, so I’ve started painting up the 6′ x 4′ Despoiled Reaches as a desert to use with the Flames of War Arab-Israeli stuff.  I’m not doing much painting at he moment, but occasionally I’m adding a bit of colour to this mat to try and get it finished.  Here’s the progress so far:

You can see that I have put down one colour, the Burnt Sienna, and have begun the Burnt Umber.  I’m planning on washing the whole thing in black, then dry brushing a Pale Sand/Burnt Sienna mixed colour over the top.

Here is a close-up.  I initially put a wash of each base colour down in an attempt to limit the amount of gray coming through in the cracks.  This was a fail.  It is particularly noticeable where the two colours meet.  Hopefully a black wash and the dry brushing should obscure this.

Nate

The Battle of El Ementri – Flames of War Modern

So last Friday we fought the second playtest of the 1973 Israeli and Egyptian armies for Flames of War.  Unfortunately I completely forgot my camera and John’s wasn’t charged up, so there are no pictures of the battle in progress, only a couple of photos ripped from other sites, but I do want to make a few notes.

Rule changes couldn’t prevent a battlefield full of these…

1.  I was concerned that the points costings might be a little broken when the Egyptians got wiped off the board last time.  Now this could have simply been my poor generalship, but I did think that the Egyptians needed a little more to balance out the Israelis at 2000 points.  I rejigged the Egyptian list, replacing the BMP-1s with more infantry and a unit of five SU-100s.  This proved to bring a lot more balance to the game we played.

2. I removed the rule around the Saggers that allow wary Israeli tank crews to dodge the first missile if they pass a skill test.  This is a fairly sensible rule given that  the Israelis soon developed tactics to deal with Sagger attacks,  but takes away one of the few ‘cool toys’ that the Egyptians possessed and used to devastating effect at the beginning of the conflict.  So I proposed to Owen (the guy that wrote the lists) that maybe the ‘Sagger dodge’ could be a ‘Late War’ extra, with crews paying 20 points per platoon for the ability.  Incidentally, I credit the change of this rule with the better showing of the Egyptians in the second playtest.

3.  The lists as they stand allow you to choose only one type of tank in your company – either T-55 or T-62.  I have to admit that I simply ignore this stricture, because of the models that I have available.

4. Finally I allowed my HQ T-62 to be Confident trained, assuming that the commander of a tank battalion would have some decent experience to fall back on.

…But they did make sure that there were plenty of these left behind as well.

The battle was once again an encounter scenario, but this time the Egyptians fought the Israelis to a bloody stalemate.  Probably a fairly good simulation of the early days of the Yom Kippur War, although the IAF was getting a pretty free ride from the SAM umbrella’s absence.  I think that if the game had gone another two turns we would have ended up with an Egyptian victory, as they were only a move away from taking an undefended objective.  Quite an impressive turn-around from just a couple of little tweaks!

Nate

(images were taken from http://idf-armor.blogspot.com and http://www.qwiki.com/q/#!/Tanks_in_the_Cold_War ).  The first is an excellent resource that I have gone to many times for ideas.  The other answered my google call for a broken Patton…)

Reinforcements for the Egyptians

After my playtest of the Flames of War rules, one thing that stood out was the pointlessness of the BMP-1s in an armoured battle.  It also made no sense to have troops in APCs when they dig-in well and defend so brilliantly.  So I decided to scratch the BMPs in favour of a platoon of SU-100s (which were just lying around with my Flames of War Soviets), and to increase my infantry quota.

I also received the Peter Pig RPGs and painted and based them up.  The Israeli figures are equipped with the Galil and are more modern LAWs than what they had in 1973, but they look like captured Soviet RPGs, and the guns don’t stand out that much, so I’ll make do.  Sorry to offend the purists.

You can see that the Peter Pig figures are slightly larger than the Quality Castings and are much more detailed sculpts.  In fact, I felt like I was letting them down painting them in the same rough style as the QC figures. They do fit in well enough though.  I’m looking forward to taking them for another game, but this Friday they will be rested in favour of a Flames of War game with Late War Soviets.

Nate

First game of Modern Flames of War

It was a week ago that this game was played, but life just keeps getting busier, so apologies for the delayed playtest.

I compiled two lists of 2000 points to take around to John’s place on Friday night, the Israelis and the Egyptians.  Note that I had to add in some WW2 Germans, Brits and US paras as proxies for the dedicated RPG teams.  I’ll have this fixed in a couple of weeks with an order to Peter Pig I hope!

We chose to play an encounter scenario with half our points off-board at the beginning of the game.  I don’t believe that this favoured the Egyptians, but I’m not sure that anything would have!  The Egyptians rolled high and were the attacker for the game.

The initial forces on board were:

Egyptian -1 company of 6 T-55s; 1 mechanised company of infantry with 2 platoons, 6 BMP-1s and 4 attached Saggers; HQ of 1 T-62; and the platoon of 2 ZSU-23-4s.  Note that the Egyptians have centralised control and the Hen and Chicks rule the same as if they were WW2 Soviets.

Israeli – 1 platoon of 3 M48A4s; 1 platoon mechanised infantry riding in M113s; the 2 M106 Mortar carriers; and 2 x Sho’t Cal Centurions as HQ.

Initial deployment saw a weak centre and strong flanks for the Egyptians, while the Israelis deployed on top of their objective markers.

The initial turn was not too bad for the Egyptians as they moved forward with the T-55s on the left flank;

but failed to dig in the infantry on the right (despite a reroll special rule for Egyptian infantry digging in..).  They even managed to take out one of the Centurions from the HQ section.  Then…

Oh, dear…  The T-55s decided discretion was the better part of valour until the reinforcements arrived, and hid in the town to avoid further air pummeling:

On the right the Egyptian infantry once more failed to dig in:

It would be third turn lucky for the hapless infantry and their spades, but in that very same turn the arrival of reinforcements saw the Israelis switch over to a counterattack:

The Israeli infantry hopped out of their M113s as the newly arrived Sho’ts of the reinforcement platoon came rolling through;

The Recce jeeps advanced.

Of course the next round of Egyptian shooting convinced me that in a real war I’d much rather be in a tank than a jeep!!!!

On the Egyptian right flank a Sagger forced the Centurions to rethink their axis of attack.  They pulled back to dodge the ATGW missile (it is a special rule to account for the slowness of the weapon) and managed to get out of line of sight.  Then they went around the hill and struck from the centre.

Finally the Egyptian reinforcements arrived – a company of 5 T-62s and a company of 6 T-55s.  The Israeli players looked at all the armour and began trembling.

Then they began shooting…

Oh…

dear…

The Egyptians weren’t without minor triumphs from then on in – here you can see a brewed up M48A4 in the background.  But the Israelis closed in on the dug-in infantry:

And another Sagger put paid to one of the pesky Centurions!  It was all pretty much over, though, and the HQ T-62 also met its end: The final turn looked like this:

I’ve got a pretty great gaming group with John, Chris and Terry and they all enjoy playing Flames of War.  But I’ve never seen everyone have so much fun in a game.  Chris and I were the Egyptians, and John and Terry took the  Israelis.  There was a lot of laughter, and everybody wanted to play this again, which I will put forward as evidence for the success of the rules that Owen has crafted.

In practical terms, I came to a few conclusions.  Israeli tanks are dead ‘ard.  You can’t outmanoeuvre  them and they are not going to break until they are all dead.  Their gunnery is exceptional, and in a straight tank on tank combat, the Egyptian player needs three to one superiority I believe.  Hmmm, might have to order another half dozen T-55s.  Where would I shed the points in the Egyptian list?  The ZSU 23-4s were extremely effective on the right flank – you simply have to take them with the Israeli air force about. The BMP-1s were pretty much useless given the points paid for them.  They do have Saggers, but you are much better off with a dug-in infantry gun team than a frontal armour 1 vehicle that costs loads of points.  The Egyptian infantry are extremely resilient when dug in, so why worry about any transport at all? I’ll reconfigure the forces and have another go, and see how things turn out.  Overall, I’m really happy with the look, the feel and the fun of playing FoW for 1973.

Nate

 

1973 Yom Kippur War armies complete

I thought I’d take a couple of photos of the completed Israeli and Egyptian armies for my 1973 Flames of War project.

As always, click on the photos to zoom in.

First up, the Egyptian army:

And the Israelis:

So there we have it.  There are still a few touch ups I want to do (Arabic numbers on the tanks etc) but ready to get on the table.  All I have to do now is play some games with them.  I have the playtest stats from Owen and I’ve built these forces around those points totals.  With the Vietnam sourcebook coming out with the next Wargames Illustrated I hope to find some M48, M113 and maybe some T-55 stats to cross-reference them with.  I am very much looking forward to it.

Nate