Friday, December 22, 2006
Friday, December 15, 2006
Monday, November 13, 2006
My interest in military history preceded my wargaming. I was ten when I started to immerse myself in Christopher Hibbert's 'Battle of Arnhem', it was from there that my knowledge of WWII traces. I was 11 when I came across the concept of miniatures wargaming (Charles Grant's 'Battle', discovered almost by random at the local library).
Making a scenario as 'historical' as is practical adds to the experience of playing the game. Thus, when we recreated classic WWII battles such as the airborne attack on Plimsole Bridge in the (Sicily campaign), the initial assault on Stalingrad, or the fiasco at Malame (Crete) in 6mm - the game came readycast with various roles that each of the players could switch into, adding a 'moral compass' to the simulation.
Thus, at Plimosole, the player who was responsible for Colonel Frost's battalion at the Bridge not only played with valorous troops in a very gritty situation, but had the heightened dimension whilst playing of knowing that real men had had to survive just such a situation as he was presented with, except for real. Thus, the derring-do of his model men was prevented from retreating into farcical make believe by the sobering fact that it had actually happened something like this in real life.
By making the game more real, past history itself becomes (to some extent) experienced.Of course, the whole thing could be trivialised by looking at it as 'playing war', with the insidious effect of trivialising what is a great and tragic dimension of the human experience. Gamers that do this generally run out of thrills fairly quickly, or are so much into their own infantile egos that they become justly labelled 'freak' fairly quickly. But, they can do the hobby's image a power of harm with their worship of war never-the-less.Fear of being mistaken for one of the war worshippers itself acts as a brake on some other more mature gamers, preventing them from prosetylising the hobby as much they would if they didn't fear being mistook for a warjunkie (as I said, wargamers were well represented in this milleniums largest anti war marches).
Another danger sometimes is that, recognising the reality which formed the historical basis of a game's design, one can be sickened by it to the point of not playing the game again. This is what has happened in 'a near run thing'. I have had friends not play the excellent Avalon Hill boardgame 'Geronimo' (very inovative and balanced game of the white man's invasion of the 'west' in the the 19th century in America) because it is too historical, makes it too easy to realise the truth of what occurred, too likely to make you feel physically ill.Overkill on the history, you might say.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
From my own experience in my twenties, I remember also going through this 'phase' in my moral development. It lead to a several year hiatus with gaming generally, and then a remergence via a long term fantasy role playing campaign. From there, it wasn't too far before I was introduced to 6mm historical miniatures. And here we are now.
I remember playing the first of my 6mm games, I played the german in a simulation of the 'fourth' DDay beach. It was at a meeting of the South Australian Historical Wargaming Society. I remember thinking about the realities of what I was doing, and wanting to punch out several SS worshipping wargamers who had also been roped in.
As the game progressed, however, I started seeing the game as being more about myself as 'commander', and realised that the commander in 'real life' would have had less contact with the front than I had in the game. I started looking at the decisions I was making as being about minimising casualty while achieving objective, something one has to do when you have no other choices. Far better to get some idea of the mentality needed than to remain ignorant. The experience also led to quite an interest in strategy.
Of course, what made me extra proud as a wargamer was to see so many faces I first saw at that wargaming exhibition on the huge anti war march which Adelaide turned out prior to the present gulf war (over 100,000 marched, the city is about 1,000,000).
Somehow, those of us who have these vital human sensitivities have to square the circle. If we can't, it's not the hobby's fault.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
A turn or two a night is usually quite manageable, especially if, like me, you only fight out the larger or otherwise most interesting or vital battles (allowing the computer to simulate the other combats).
The battles happen too quick - something like a half hour. You really have time only to form a plan and then try and stick to it. I suppose that is in some ways 'realistic', but you don't get the hours long ding dong affair that used to occasionally happen in the game's predecessor - 'Medieval: Total War'.
Of course, it's only a substitute for a well run miniatures campaign. Maybe that's why I've refused to part with those couple of legions of 15mm republican roman armies that I acquired in my early teens ...
Monday, October 09, 2006
By about 140 BC I have taken Sicily, Crete and Palma, as well as Carthage and Thespas. The Numidian is sending in his main armies to take my newly conquered african provinces from me, and I hold him at arms length with forts while we maneuver for position before the inevitable major battle.
By exterminating the population of conquered provinces and then shipping in surplus peasants from my homeland I have kept my growth rate up as well as a sizeable treasury. This is also the first game I have made major use of mercenaries to complement my legionary core.
As always, a good game.
For the record, the following is what I purchased:
1 each of BA10 soviet armoured car (will use as BA3), French Laffly-White armoured car (WWI surplus), half tracked Austin-Pulitov armoured car, early WWII lorry, horsed 'Tachanka' wagon mounted with machine gun (from russian civil war range), BT7 soviet medium tank, and a Il 16 soviet monoplane fighter.
I also purchased a company of FT17 WWI french tanks (used by both sides), and another company of PZ Is (will make these Spanish identification rather than Kondor Legion).
I will keep you updated.
His ring of steel closes around the isolated grenadiers in the southern village. Although they hold sufficient victory point locations at present, they still have several turns of increasing hell to look forward to. On the central hill, the remnants of my infantry are barely managing to retreat before the advancing battalions, themselves with armour support. On the northern hill slopes the last of my tanks has gone, and his armour there closes in on the flank of my embattled infantry.
The only bright point for me is my advanced units operating behind russian lines. They are taking key points, and threaten to grab several objective hexes if the russian doesn't more stoutly defend them. This is drawing units away from the main battle in the town.
The question will be, how many units are drawn away from the main front by my marauders, and can my infantry hold out against the resultingly mainly armoured assault. Time will tell.
Friday, September 29, 2006
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Monday, August 28, 2006
The model took about 20 person hours to create from our plans, its scale can be seen from the pen lying alongside the rear wall (above). A surprising comment from her teacher was that we had built it close to scale (which we had). We used about $20 of materials plus paint. We made it from balsa wood, on a cloth covered wooden base. Here's an aerial view...
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
The scenario has passed the half way mark. The First Panzer are locked into two major battles with endless hordes of Russian troops and tanks, for the central ridge and for the Southern town. In both instances the battle is closely locked at the moment. The southern edge of town has seen a fairly major tank battle, with a bit of a standoff at present. The other two main tank battles have occurred on the Northern slopes of the central hill, and for the ridge road about 2kms south.
A developing side show is taking place in the Russian rear, where a recce unit of germans has bumped into second line Soviet units protecting against just such a grab for easy points in a rear attack from 'behind' the river.
Will let you know how this goes.
We are about to move house, so I am not sure how often I will be able to post here for the next week or two.
I will keep track of all the blogs I follow from work, though...
Sunday, August 06, 2006
We are up to turn 6 of 20, and I am still awaiting the KVIs and T34s I believe to be around. My tanks are meanwhile engaging relatively obselete models at close range (so far without loss to myself), and my infantry are fighting their way into the only significant town in the area.
Will let you know how it goes.
Saturday, August 05, 2006
It was a very interesting scenario, showing the versatility of Talonsoft's Campaign system. You could really feel the difference between the efficient ambush strikes of the Finnish ski troops, as opposed to the blundering steamroller of the soviets. The character of the battles that developed along the wooded roads was one of Finnish trying to strike the rear and flanks of the Russian columns as they advanced up the few roads, yet not get too caught up in any particular firefight as that would allow the Soviet to in turn encircle and overwhelm the skitroops. Finnish Troop Quality, especially their consistent ability to rally but also their movement speed, made them very tough opponents. The russian's strength lay in his seemingly inumerable reserves.
To my mind it fairly accurately reflected the tactical dimensions of the Winter War. It would only be a matter of time and casualties and the russian would win through through sheer force of numbers. Which is exactly what happened historically.
Thus, out of two completed games, Wayne and I have each won a major victory. Both games have gone the way they did historically (broadly speaking).
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
A lot more T26s were supplied, initially T26A's, with 37mm cannon, but then T26Bs with thicker frontal armour and a 47mm gun. Here's a column of them working the way down a slope with a BT7 (second last vehicle)...
Here's the whole column, with T26s advancing up the valley, BT7s drawing up on the slope above, and a (out of focus) Pulitov armoured car on the near rise...
I think that the Russians provided BA3s as armoured cars to the Republic, which also produced its own models in various collectivised factories (and then under centralised control in the central and sourthern regions of the Republic). However, at the time I bought these models I didn't know this, and thus used some WWI Pulitovs on the assumption that Stalin would have offloaded various of his old gear on his 'allies'. In game terms, it doesn't make much difference and I like their exotic look (two turrets).
Sunday, July 09, 2006
The basic idea was to build up countours with wads of paper, tape them down, cover them with plaster cloth, and then paint and decorate as appropriate. I considered using foam countours, but too messy and too angular (as you will see) ...
Here's a view of my terraforming a larger ridgeline (base is about 2' long and upto 1' wide) ...
The idea is to then cut off pieces of plaster cloth, soak them in water, and drape them over the terraformed base. Here's a pretty neat photo of the two smaller bases with their plaster skin...
I then sprayed the plastered bases with Tamya primer spray...
After that had dried, I sprayed with a base colour to match my felt tabletop. In the store, Tamya 'Racing Green' looked the bill. I wasn't so sure after spraying. This shot of a small hill shows the 'two tone' effect which occurred to no noticeable pattern I could see...
I needn't have worried. After drybrushing the surface with rich brown and pale green (Humbrol 120 and 186) and waiting for that to dry, I painted the surface with a 60/40 mix of water and white/PVA glue, covering it all with a scatter of Woodland Scenic's 'grass' flock. Looks good ...
I don't think I'll do it the same way in future though, at least not for the bigger sized hill. The reason? There's too much flex in a base that size for the plaster to keep its grip. You can see where it is separating on the last photo above. The smaller bases seem to be fine.
Total cost: $17 for the plaster cloth, about $2.50 for the base wood, $9 for the Green and about $5 for the undercoat, about $3 for the the flock.
Total time: about 4 hours over 5 days.
To see the whole of my gaming blog, click here.
Saturday, July 01, 2006
You'll note with the variety of appearances I can mix up a company of Requettes, Falange or socialists from the various bases. There are three more bases presently unpainted which will eventually make up a the equivalent of a full battalion if required.
Friday, June 30, 2006
To reflect this, I have a battalion of 'regular' looking militia. Here they are under an Italian militia flag, perhaps representing some of the tens of thousands of conscript 'volunteer' militia sent by Mussolini.
And here they are in the full roster, this time representing nationalist cannon fodder.
Of the three battalions I have still to paint of militia, I reckon one will be painted to represent the Falange, and the other two will be uniformed similar to the figures in the above two photos.
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Less famous than their German counterparts, Italian artillery was also used in large amounts by Franco. Here are Italian light batteries (I think they are models of Italian 47mm from WWII Irregular range, but I count them as 60mm pieces).
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Sunday, June 18, 2006
This is a shot of the most recent and final batch of fully painted troops, which I previously photographed partway through the process (click here). I'll post pictures of the full range shortly.
If you haven't gathered, I'm a wee bit excited at the reaching of the rare milestone of having finished painting all the troops which I started painting so long ago!
Saturday, June 17, 2006
One positive aspect of a decently long development time for a game system is that you can think about the physical equipment required (as well as paint your 6mm troops up!). One such advance I have made because of the long cogitation period my procrastination has given me is to link a bit of web trivia in my 'favorites' to a practical use in my game.
This site has a free web based 'Trading Card' design application. I will use it to replace the playing cards I presently use for our game. I will be able to do it without using other's images (and the ethical issue that involves as a photographer) by taking my own photos, or accessing sites for images which are available for personal use. I will still leave the card key in the rules so that future players may do as we do now, and perhaps a link to the cardset I use for those that wish to print and produce their own atmospheric cards.
My first attempt at a designer Random Event Card
Another project to get underway in this brilliant pursuit of gaming!
Friday, June 16, 2006
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Monday, June 05, 2006
When one player completes Phase 10, remaining players can try and pass through the remaining phases. They get three rolls as usual, per phase. If they don't make the requirement, they stop rolling and their game is over. If they make the phase requirement, they have three rolls at the next phase. This continues until they either complete Phase 10 or bomb out. The winner is the player on Phase 10 who has the most points.
Opinion: originally I was sceptical about a pure dice game. The game sucks you in, however, making choices about which dice to leave, which to reroll, which patterns to go for thereby, when to effectively surrender a turn to try for a better score, etc. In other words, you're mainly playing against yourself.
Sunday, June 04, 2006
Here's a photo of the table at the end of about one and a quarter hour's work. You can see the three metal trays. One (top left) I keep my paints in, another (bottom left) holds figures whose bases still require repainting, and the third (bottom right) holds those who were either finished tonight, or had the first half of the base painted. To do it cleanly, I paint a half of a base at a time, it stops a lot of fiddling around. It's part of the craft that turns conveyor belts into fun...
This is a wider angle shot taken before I had started the session. You'll notice some of my books in the shelf at the right, I try and keep my military and gaming books together here. The grey object at top left (sort of) is the castle that me and my stepdaughter put together for her school project.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
Just when it appeared that I was going to struggle through in my main centre attack, and sieze a Southern objective in one of flanking diversions, my two crap tanks took hits from hidden infantry and reinforcements arrived on field for the German. It seemed that I was now facing a battalion of German armour, and an endless truck conveyor belt feeding German machineguns into the battle zone.
In several turns, my meagre and hard won gains in the central zone were wound back and I was pushed out of the orchards and off the hill. In the South, my infantry managed to hold the objective until concentrated german fire swept them out in the final turn. Lucky for me there was lots of woods and marsh scattered around, it gave my decimated forces somewhere to hide as the German tanks and infantry annihilated anyone still in range.
It was a major german victory for wayne - I think I managed to end up on about -600 points, with no objectives. Makes you feel sorry for the Poles.
We've started the next one in our series of games, "Long Walk Home". I am the Finns trying to delay or halt the russian advance through the icy forests of the Karelian peninsula. Wayne is the Russian.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
How? By transforming itself from a private pursuit to an ongoing entity in the worldwide virtual community of gamers. I think I started to realise that there are others like me out there when I discovered Miniature Wargaming. That led to The Miniatures Page, and its forums. And they led me to this list of wargame blogs.
I've checked out several, and recognise the mentality behind some of the posters. Scary, eh? But nice to know that I'm not the only one with this sense of black even handed competitive humour out there.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Mussolini had something like 50000 service men involved in the Spanish conflict at some stage. Being a poor country itself, Italy's major contribution was in the form of soldiers - most of whom were conscripts.
Italy sent entire armoured formations to fight in Spain. Their most (in)famous vehicle was the two man tankette, the CV 33. Machine gun armed, the tankettes had thin armour and slow speed compared to the new breed of tank appearing at the time. Never-the-less, their appearance in small raids peppers many accounts of the fighting.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
One of the joys of wargaming the conflict are the biplanes (at least, I find it so). Here are a couple of Italian CR 32s waiting for clearance...
Irregular make models of many of the famous planes used in the war. Sadly, not the Hs 123. Does anyone know where I can get models of these in 6mm? If so, please let me know.
Monday, May 22, 2006
Italian intervention in the Spanish Civil War came early in the conflict. Perhaps better equipped than many of the Spanish, Italy sent thousands of combat troops and a great deal of support to General Franco. Although less famous than the German Condor Legion, Italian regular infantry played a major role in much of the fighting in Spain. Besides infantry and artillery, Mussolini sent air, armour and naval support in large and regular shipments. Irregular miniatures produce models based directly on the Spanish experience.