Wednesday, June 29, 2011

28mm Napoleonic British Command

Just a short post on a new British command stand I completed recently.

Figures are from the Perry range. In order to make the stand less Waterloo-specific, I cut away the 'Belgic' shako from the right figure and replaced it with a bicorne from a Victrix sprue. I still have some work to do on the white horse as I'm not too wild on its midtones. 

I'm working on a few Napoleonic vignettes right now so I should have something on them in a week or so.

The 1st of July is quickly approaching so Happy Canada Day to those of the 'Eh' persuasion!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Prototypes of 28mm Napoleonic Unit / Casualty Markers

Like a lot of gamers, I like to keep the tabletop clean of dice, measuring tapes, rule sheets, pets, soft drinks, etc., but I know that concessions have to be made for marking unit status and displaying other game mechanics. Nonetheless, I really don't like casualty caps, especially anything plastic, as they seem to break the aesthetic of the painted miniatures and scenery. I've always liked the look of casualty figures, but in several rule sets a unit can take numerous 'hits' so it can seem that there is a cloud of casualties following along, and if they get too close to one another confusion can occur in determining to whose casualties belong to what unit.

So I'm playing around with how to compress as much unit information into as small a space as possible. Here are a few unit status markers that I've mocked up that combines a small vignette, a 'fin' for mounting a unit ID card, plus a few slots to fit small (7-8mm) six-sided dice to track hits. 

Here is a shot of the base showing the ID fin and the slots for the D6.
These were built on 50mm steel bases with bits of plasticard to build-up the slots and fins.

These two castings are from Offensive Miniatures. I quite like the wounded drummer boy.
The slots work reasonably well to keep the dice all in one spot and prevents accidental mix-ups when units are compressed together in a scrum. For a game such as 'Black Powder' the dice can be of different colours to track Disorders, 'standard' hits and Shaken status. We've also come up with a simple protocol to move the stand from the back of the unit to the front to keep track of which stuff has been activated - pretty straight forward stuff really.

Foundry Rifle officer with Perry plastic British casualty.
I've noticed that Litko has a new casualty base featured in Jim's Lab that has a numeric dial which looks quite promising. If I could get them to prototype one that incorporates a couple dials in it then it naturally would be able to track two different sets of information and I could get rid of the dice - something to ponder...

Victrix plastic British officer along with a Offensive Miniatures drummer casualty.
Victrix plastic French officer with a Perry infantry casualty.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Battle Report: 'Ney on Ice' - Part II (using 'Food for Powder': a Black Powder variant)

As described in my last post, this scenario set an 'allied army' of Russians and British against a French division commanded by Marshal Ney. 

The game started with the British deployed in one corner of the table to which they had to move across the long length and exit the other side. They were composed of four highly trained infantry battalions, a battery of Royal Horse Artillery, two sections of rocket artillery and two squadrons of Light Dragoons.

The Russians...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Napoleonic Battle Report: Poland, 1806 or 'Ney On Ice' (using 'Food for Powder': a Black Powder variant)

I hosted a Napoleonics game for the guys this past weekend that was another one of my hypothetical 'what-if' scenarios - as JohnB was kind enough to bring down his beautiful Russian collection from Saskatoon, this game was set in Poland around Christmas 1806.  

First, the 'true-to-history' bit:  
October 1806 had seen the French crush the Prussian army at the twin battles of Jena-Auerstaedt and by December Napoleon his Grande Armee was encamped in Poland, preparing to bring the Russians at bay in the upcoming spring campaign.

Wanting to catch the French unprepared while they were scattered in their cantonments, the Russians decided to initiate a surprise winter offensive. Nonetheless, by pure coincidence, at that same time Marshal Ney unilaterally decided to move his corps forward into a better foraging area. So the two forces began to move very near to one another, close to the Baltic coast.

In London, with the defeat of the Prussians and the subsequent advance of the French army into the Baltic region, the British were becoming very concerned that Denmark, with its significant navy, was at risk of being annexed by France or worse, would be convinced into a French alliance. Accordingly, discussions had been going on between Britain and Denmark with the British 'offering' to quarantine the Danish navy until the end of hostilities with Napoleon. Not surprisingly the Danes were not interested. 

Now, my hypothetical premise (i.e. 'made-up tosh'):

Monday, June 6, 2011

'Storming Juno' - Excellent.

To commemorate D-Day Sarah and I decided to watch 'Storming Juno' a docu-drama depicting the Canadian assault on Juno Beach on June 6th, 1944. To be frank I was pretty much expecting the usual Canadian documentary fare: very earnest and workmanlike but kinda boring and lacking that polish you get out of Hollywood. Well, I was pleasantly surprised as the production value is excellent, the storyline tight and the acting quite good. 

I won't be a spoiler as I would like others to enjoy it, but I will say that the combat scenes are gripping and the whole production has alot of heart.  Instead of trying to cover the entire event in broad brush-stokes 'Storming Juno' focuses in on three stories: an infantry assault company of the Regina Rifles, a parachute platoon from the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion and a single tank from the 1st Hussars. 

The film utilizes some digital effects but they are reasonably done and are integrated nicely with the rest of the film. It also makes use of archival film footage to good effect as well (I  never get tired of that often-used segment of the landing craft opening its doors in front of the beach).

At the end of the movie there is a short segment with interviews with veterans that is very powerful and touching as well. Their description of combat stress, as felt over the years, is particularly evocative.

Its certainly not 'Saving Private Ryan' but perhaps in some ways its a bit more. Anyway, I recommend checking it out.  Its available on iTunes and I've noticed copies of the DVD showing up in stores.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Modern Spearhead: 1:285 Yom Kippur War

Syrian T55s at the 1973 'Purple Line' along the Golan Heights.
Greg and I had a couple great games playing 'Modern Spearhead' last weekend. The scenario was set during the opening days of the 1973 Yom Kippur War on the Golan Heights, with an Iraqi T55 tank brigade attempting to force its way past an Israeli defensive line armed with modified Super Shermans. Greg took the Israelis and I commanded the Iraqis.  

Shot-up T55s on the main road to the Israeli positions.
The Israelis were set up on a ridge in hull-down positions while the Iraqis entered on the board with 3 tank battalions. The Israelis were rock-hard but heavily outnumbered while the Iraqis were relatively green but had mass in their favour. 

Iraqi tanks cresting the final hills and seeing the Israeli Shermans in the valley.
Spearhead has a great mechanic that compels players to draw their orders on a map which has to be strictly adhered to. Orders can be changed but the speed and effectiveness of any adjustments are determined by an abstraction of doctrine, morale and training. I knew the Iraqis would be fairly inflexible in their command & control so I knew my initial orders had to be fairly simple and straightforward. I decided to assault with two tank battalions, one over the central hill and the other along the highway, while shielding the third in a valley as a breakthrough unit.

As I advanced Greg pounded my formations pretty darn hard but they managed to 'hold their bottle' and ground forward. Greg decided to stay in his original positions in order to dish-out some more pain. As suspected, I took another turn of accurate tank fire but my T55s finally reached a good range-band for their main guns and so I opened fire. The limitations of the Sherman's armour began to tell as platoon after platoon was silenced from the weight of fire.  In the end the Israelis were compelled to withdraw the remnants of their force as the Iraqis drove forward with their fresh battalion. By the scenario's parameters it turned out to be a solid Iraqi victory.

Many, many tanks burning after the final exchange of fire...
Greg and I chatted about the game, coming to the conclusion that the critical decision was probably him staying in place too long instead of 'shooting and scooting'. We decided to have another go at the scenario with the Israelis using several fallback positions so they would not be so easily overrun and so they could use their superior long range armament. For simplicity sake I kept to my original plan and again attacked with two battalions while keeping one in reserve. This time it was a very close game as the Israelis made the Iraqi armour pay for each position. I managed to get away with some critical morale rolls while Greg's luck dimmed during a few crunch moments of tank-to-tank direct fire. The climax came when the Israelis fell back into the last valley with the pursuing Iraqis hot on their heels. The final exchange of fire saw the last of the Shermans destroyed while the crippled force of T55s managed to creep off the field to a marginal victory. 
The final (fiery) position of the Israeli command.
Spearhead is a such a great system and it was a pleasure getting to play with Greg's beautiful collection of miniatures and terrain. I'm actually tempted to paint up a small force for myself as I think the guys back home would enjoy the period and the change of pace.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

From the Lead Archive: 28mm Rakham/Confrontation Fantasy Figures

I remember years ago when the first Rakham figures first came out and being completely blown away with their animation, creativity and amazing detail. I'm a historical gamer first and foremost, but I do like to try the odd outlier from time to time and these really captured my imagination.

Here are a few castings from the early Confrontation line. I'm not really sure what they actually represent in the game - this set seems to be a 'before and after' of some sort of badass axe-wielding lyncanthrope (the axe broke on the right hand figure which I worked around by doing a leather wrap effect with putty, but neglected to do the same for the other figure - oops).

The guy below on the left seems to be a cross between some sort of a skinny S&M lumberjack and a barber...

...while the guy on the right looks like Ichabod Crane whose come back to Sleepy Hollow loaded for some serious payback.

A bit of memory lane there. I know I have a few more of these knocking about that are unpainted (or partially painted). I'll have to keep them in the wings for when I finally burn-out on Napoleonics. ;)