Friday, December 22, 2006

My Rant about Big Brother on Blogger

To see what I think about big brother on blogger, click here.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Continuing Roman Influences

The Senate, (Simon - Iron Mitten)
There's a bit of Rome going on in my life at present. The above drawing is one of the series of illustrations by Simon over at Iron Mitten. I've characterised the fellow who is lecturing his colleagues as Lucius Plaudicus, someone whose character is similar to Cato (though not as asetic). The campaign behind Simon's blog looks like a good set up. Worth regular visits (which is why it's on my 'links' section).
Other bits of Rome intruding on my daily life at present are the continuing saga of Rome:Total War. I am still playing Scipio, and it is now about 203 bc. I have despatched Carthage and Numidia, and am presently at serious war with Pontus in the asian peninsula. Not an easy game, all my leaders becoming aged and all my cities having steadily declining levels of public order.
Which brings me to the last big roman incfluence at present - the tele series 'Rome' on chanel 9. I watched my first episode last night, which is when Caesar has bribed the auger to pronounce his actions as 'Dictator' (spending the whole treasury of the city in a manner to further his popularity with the people and his control over the machinery of government) wholesome, as well as his marching with his army into the city (something that went against the ancient custom keeping the military away from the city). I liked what I saw, but doubt it would make much sense to someone who isn't up on their roman history (I got much of mine from Colleen McCulloch's series of Rome books) or who hasn't watched it religiously from the first episode.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Gaming as History

A comment on my last post made me reflect a little more about what it is I get out from gaming (in the aforementioned comment, Simon points out a link between historical wargaming and the study of history). I most fully concur.I've noticed a couple things along these lines during my own experiences over the years.

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.

More later...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Square the Circle - Myself as Commander

I have just read the posting last entered on a near run thing (a blog I have continued to visit in the hope it keeps the breath of life). It speaks of the existential sickness that can strike a wargamer when they think long and hard about what it is they are 'simulating' - the revulsion at the abstract enjoyment as it builds itself upon historical tragedy. Rob, of A Near Thing, dealt with it by getting rid of his historicals, and venturing out in a smaller way with fantasy/sci-fi stuff. Good on him, hope he keeps on gaming.

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

Comment on Rome and Total War

The game takes a few hours to master the controls, but then it's pretty intuitive. A 'short' campaign takes about 20 hours of playing, depending on how automated you allow it to be. I haven't yet played to the point of world domination, but intend to this time round. It takes a long long time, and I find that I slowly get into the rhythms of long term relative peace and intense periods of movement and death. It's a game you get into far enough to decide whether it's worth it in your particular circumstances to embark on the full thing.

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

Rome - Total War

I have recently gotten into Rome Total War again. Again, I am Scipio. Again, I have to play the game from scratch (meaning I must succeed with a roman faction in the short campaign before I can even consider playing one of the non roman factions).

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.

New miniatures

I went to Melbourne over the weekend, and managed to pick up a few more miniatures for my 6mm Spanish Civil War armies. I'm not sure when I'll get around to painting them (nor the remaining five battalions of infantry I already have) but, when I do, I will be able to field armies representing any of the main forces of the conflict in a battle up to regimental size. That will be good, as I have located another potential player. The number of interested parties is now seven.

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.

EF II update

The battle continues to be joined in the East Front II scenario I am playing with Wayne. We are finally into the final fifth of the game. My first panzer's tanks have been shredded by the hordes of Russians, and the few numbers of T34s and KVIs amongst the bulk of his smaller vehicles has more than been made up for by the quality of those vehicles. I've taken out individual vehicles, but not eliminated any platoons yet.

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

Happy Birthday to Me!

My wife and family organised a surprise party for me on the weekend. I was TOTALLY surprised. This shows how ignorant I can be, and how tightlipped my family and friends can be. Here's my wife serenading me against doctor's orders.
I still had a bit of huff and puff left after that.

There were a few wargaming friends there, some of whom I hadn't seen for years. It was great to catch up and swap details. I expect that we'll get in a few games over summer, once the gaming facilities in our house shake themselves down after the recent move (starting on that aspect of it all now).

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Site update

I've moved my blogs over to the new 'beta' blogger. Basically, that's a new improved way of keeping a blog. It adds some new features that become available for use, which I will introduce over time to this and my other blogs. For now, I'm just glad that we didn't crash!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Castle Model

As long time readers of this blog may recall, my youthful miniature wargamer bug was revived when I helped my stepdaughter construct a castle model for a school project. We were both very proud that our castle received the best mark the teacher had given for this standard project in nearly 30 years. It was a quite imposing castle.
Her teacher gave her a list of features (eg. Keep, chapel, curtain wall, portcullis) to include in her model, and we then built a design around these requirements. The stars visible on the board connected these features on the model to the legend (white section near the drawbridge).

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...

We recently had to move house, and I have deconstructed our castle to its component bits. Before I did so, I took these photos. It had already suffered damage over the last 18 months, it now lies in wait in pieces for a medieval army to form and fight over its battlements.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

East Front II Update - Battle is Joined

Just a quick update on the ongoing email game of Talonsoft's classic East Front II Ihave going with Wayne.

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

Site of Interest - Iron Mitten

I might start putting up the odd link to sites which for some reason grab my gaming fancy. First amongst them should be TMP, but I'll put up a separate entry on that some other time. For now, let me recommend Iron Mitten. It's a beautiful and growing blog, kept by a fellow who has multiple passions for history, drawing, cartoons, writing, collecting and painting beautiful figures, photography. Seems to be all about Ancients, which is fine by me.

EF II - New Scenario: Battle is Joined

We have commenced a new East Front II scenario, 'The Battle is Joined'. I am playing the 1st Panzer on an afternoon during operation Barbarossa - attacking a series of objectives composed of rural road intersections, junctions and river crossings in an moderately wooded hilly terrain. It is defended by outposts of russian infantry, with armoured and motorised reinforcements (I believe) arriving in the early part of the game.

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

EFII Game Report - Long Walk Home

In the long term project Wayne and I have going (a series of Talonsoft's East Front II games played by email, taking us from the conquest of Poland to the obliteration of Berlin) we have recently completed The Long Walk Home scenario (click here for an earlier report on the game). It was a major Finnish victory, the Russians failed to penetrate the main line of resistance, let alone breakthrough the battle area along the highway.

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

Photos - 6mm Republican Armour

Russia supplied the Republic with the vast majority of its armoured (and air) force. From late '37 (?) this included what was then the quickest most versatile tank in general use, the BT models. Irregular miniatures makes a BT 7 model. Here are a couple of them creeping over the lower crest of my new hills...

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

Photos - 6mm T26s and Hills

Here's a couple of my Republican T26s crossing my newly constructed hills ...

And here they are entering a valley between two hilly formations...

Terrain - Hill construction

I was lacking hills in my terrain. A bit of a lack when you think of the topgraphy of Spain. So I used a $5 voucher from a model railway show my grandkids had been to recently and got some 'Plaster Cloth', and then some 3mm board, borrowed a jigsaw, and went to work.

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

Photos - 6mm Milita (cavalry)

Many of Spain's horses were privately owned at the outbreak of the Civil War. Thus, they often ended up being used by their owners in assorted milita cavalry units (for the nationalists) and by those who 'liberated' them for the same purpose in the Republican side. Here's a view from the full roster of Falange 'modernist' cavalry being closely followed by lorry mounted troops.
Here's a more posed view...

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

Photos - 6mm Militia (Generic)

Both sides in the Spanish Civil War 'regularised' as much of their militia organisations as they could once the 'early war period' was over. Thus, Falange and Carlist were merged and placed under officers whose prime loyalty lay with the Franco regime, and the numerous socialist and communist militias were 'regularised' through means of supply of armaments and purge. The Basque militia always were relatively 'regular' in their own regional way.

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

Photos - 6mm Artillery Park

Much of the fighting in the Spanish Civil War bore more a resemblance to that of WWI rather than WWII. Both sides used extensive artillery barrages. Probably the most common gun on both sides was the French 75/17. Hence the medium artillery batteries pictured here are primarily composed of this model.

Here's a view of the artillery park in my full roster photo.

Note the German 37mm A/T guns to the far left.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Photos - 6mm Nationalist Batteries

The Nationalists were strongly supported by armaments sent them by Europe's most powerful fascist dictatorships, Germany and Italy. Here they are in the full roster.
The heavy artillery of the Condor Legion was probably that part of it which was most continuously in battle.

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).

Photo - 6mm Republican Guns

Against Franco's artillery the Republicans used what they could. Of some importance, Russian imports. Here are a couple of 47mm guns from Irregular's WWII range.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Photo - 6mm Mounted Regulars

The horse was not uncommon in Spain, as indeed in both WWI and WWII. Besides transport and food, they were used to mount infantry, improving operational mobility. Here is a picture of (almost) a battalion of mounted regulars.

Here's a picture from the full roster ...

You'll see that there are only eleven platoon elements. Of all my troops, I am only aware of having lost one, the twelfth mounted platoon. Oh well ...

Photo - 6mm Regular Infantry

The regular army of pre Civil War Spain divided at the outbreak of the conflict, and 'regular' troops fought on both sides. Here are a couple battalions flying the Nationalist flag ...
Here they are in the full roster ...

Photo - 6mm full troop roster

I recently finished painting up my Spanish Civil War armies*. I couldn't resist the temptation of lining them all up and recording the achievement. Here they are ...
Here's a detail, recording something of the 'suppressed action' which they make concrete ...

* Being a wargamer, I still have unpainted troops. Not too many however ... two battalions of militia, three of regulars, six elements of militia 'cavalry', about half a dozen 'flag stands', a bus and a horse and cart. I'll wait until I get the urge before painting them. I still have to (matt) varnish my standing armies.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

I have finally finished (re)painting the bases of my armies! All they need now is a matt varnish and we're off! I put in this photo, because it seems to capture something of the eagerness I expect of my troops ...
This is a bit of less blurry detail...

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

Al Front! update - card driven event sequence

Firstly, the Al Fronte! rewrite IS happening, but is happening slowly. It does appear that this should be the last such rewrite before I publish it on the web, so there is some consolation.

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

Eastern Front Update

The Long Walk Home scenario has entered the middle game (turn 7). From the Russian perspective it must appear as though his numerous columns marching down forest paths are being hit by an increasing number of platoon and company level ambushes, from which positions the Finnish bandits vanish on their skis into the forest before they can be encircled by nearby columns who always seem to react too slowly.
Mix this with cavalry attacks in the russian rear against his support weapons and transport assets, and the mysterious dissappearance of his tanks in the mist, and Wayne should hopefully be beginning to get a bit paranoid by now.
If you haven't gathered, I am playing the Finn and loving it!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Someone else's beautiful figures...

To have a look at what someone else has done in 20mm SCW and Russian Civil War figures, click here.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Phase 10 - Ravensberger dice game

We have played a game of Phase 10, purchased for $15 at the game store in the Station Arcade in Adelaide's town centre. It is a simple dice rolling game where players take turns to make sequences of rolls of up to 10 dice (specially marked), generally attempting to make triplets, quadruplets and runs of numbers according to the requirements of the 'phase' they are in. The game contains a neat sturdy box, rules (not that easy to understand unless you like rules), a scorepad and ten dice. The dice are six sided, but contain numbers from 1 to 10 in different colours, and a number of 'W' faces which count as 'wild' scores).

There are ten phases in the game. Players take turns to try and roll a specified 'pattern' (eg three of a kind and a run of four consecutive numbers) in a total of three rolls of the dice before they hand the dice to the next player.

In the first and second rolls, the player chooses which (if any) dice they just rolled that they will roll again. A player can choose to leave some of the dice as they are, and use the face showing on these dice to count in their subsequent this turn. They must take the result of the third roll as final. If they don't make their Phase requirement (eg. seven consecutive numbers) for the phase they are in, play passes to the next player.If they make the requirement, they score each of the dice which is in the winning combination ...

... and record it.

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.

The game is produced by Ravensberger in the Czech Republic. Does that make it a "Eurogame"?
By the way, Jessica won.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Painting - 6mm bases

I have recommenced repainting all my bases a 'uniform' colour, now that the front room has been freed up for my hobby again (thanks Nancy).

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.

The yellow/orange and red objects on the table are hard pencil cases with trays inside within which I store and transport my miniatures. They are nearly full. I should fit in all the troops visible on the table once they are done, but I'll need to sort out how to store the (presently unpainted) reinforcements that are moving along the conveyor belt...

My new photo blog ...

I have started another blog where I'm putting up various photos I have taken around the place (not game related).

Click here to have a look.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

East Front Update - Western Gate

Wayne was victorious in the East Front II game we have been playing by email. I played the Poles, trying to break through a smaller but very stubborn German defence force across some low hills and forest tracks, with bits of marsh and swamp scattered around the open fields. Despite initial success with my infantry, I couldn't crack the doughty SS defenders. Their machine guns picked my troops off as they advanced out of the mist. Before long, I was juggling my companies around to try and keep up the momentum as german guns created disruption amongst my thinning ranks.

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

Wargaming Blogsters

Obvulessly my wargaming hobby has expanded its influence over my time on the net. That's not a bad thing, this blog itself I believe contributes something to the world we live in. I thought originally it would just be something interesting to do, a bit of a log of games, a record of my ongoing pastime and sometimes social pursuit. But it has grown into much more than that.

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

Photos - 6mm Italian infantry

Italian infantry swarm out of the woods...

... displaying great courage.

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.

This post and those that precede it use Irregular miniatures.
I've satisfied my urge to post pretty pictures for awhile. Will return to more mundane topics sometime soon.

Photos - 6mm Mounted Italians

Here are some Italian 'cavalry', approaching the front ...

Like the world wars before and after it, the Spanish Civil War was dominated by the horse a means of transport. There were functioning cavalry units, and both sides used horses for the rapid transit of troops.

Photos - 6mm CV33s

A company of Irregular CV33s advance from cover in the woods...

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.
A surprisingly high number of them were armed with a flamethrower instead of machine guns. I will use some ammunition carriages that came with some of my artillery models to fashion fuel tanks to be towed by a company of such flame thrower equipped CVs.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Photos - 6mm Fiat CR 32 biplanes

A prominent feature during the Spanish Civil War was the tactical use of aircraft. Russia and Germany 'donated' planes and pilots to the Republican and Nationalist rebellion early in the war. Franco in fact relied upon Junkers to fly his rebels from North Africa to the mainland prior to the advance on Madrid.

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

Photos - 6mm Italian Support Weapons

Italian mortars open up from the edge of town...

Here's a view through the trees ...
An Italian machine gun company lays down suppression fire under direction from their battalion commander.

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.