Thursday, 22 November 2018

Big Black Powder Birthday Bash

     With the recent release of Black Powder 2 from Warlord Games (I got a copy for my birthday) and a brace of birthdays, mine and Danny's, we found we had the perfect excuse to arrange a big, birthday game of Napoleonic Black Powder in a couple of weeks time (first date we all had free) 
     The intention is to head to Common Ground in Stirling for the day, where we can get acres of table top, 14'x7', and run a "what if" game set in Northern Germany with Danny's French facing off against the Allies, in this case Richie's British and my Russians. We've still to thrash out the details of the scenario but that's the idea at the moment.
     With that in mind I have dug out my Russians with a view to adding a couple of units and to re-base a couple of the support units   

My Russian infantry division; 10 battalions of infantry and
2 of Jaeger. There also enough Jaeger to make up three skirmishing
 units or another battalion if I mount them in sabot bases

The cavalry division, a mix of three hussar regiments,
 a regiment each of dragoons and cuirassiers and a large
group of Cossacks

     So that's what I have at the moment. However, my artillery need rebasing. I have two batteries; one of light guns and one medium (we use two cannon to represent a battery rather than one) I don't base my cannons as I like to limber them up and shout "Giddyup!!" at my limber teams so I have never felt the desire to place my crews on a base especially as they sometimes appear in my games of Sharp Practice. However, after some reflection I decided that having the crews on a base with room for the guns to fit in might be a better idea and allow for some scenic pieces as well as avoiding all the time consuming head scratching as I try to work out which crew member goes with which gun I decided to mount them on old, unwanted CDs (well, I thought they were old and unwanted but apparently they were just stored away till such a time as they were wanted again....whoops!!), I added a couple of small mounds using Miliput and then covered them with my new found wonder stuff. Vallejo Earth Texture and left them to dry over night. I also have a few of Warbases ammunition cassions and some Renedra barrels that I will place on the bases too to make it a bit more scenic. From what I have seen this wouldn't actually be the case in reality but I thought I would use some artistic licence to make the bases look busier.

Not a recognised cure for baldness, the marthambles or the
falling damps but miraculous stuff in the General's opinion..
.for what it is worth

WIP on the artillery bases; just awaiting some dry
 brushing and flocking 

     Next my artillery limbers got some attention with the long overdue addition of ropes to the limbers. It's a fairly straight forward addition but it makes a huge difference I think. They don't bear close inspection but in the heat of battle they will definitely pass muster

Limber ropes added, much more pleasing than
 having them hover in mid air
     Next up I decided to re-base my commander, General Baccy De Rolly. I had these three Russian Hussars sitting about doing not much of anything so I decided they should act as the generals body guard. I trimmed the bases they were already mounted on and glued them to a larger base and liberally plastered the uncovered parts with the aforementioned Vallejo Earth Texture and, again, left this to dry over night. Here's the result. Not pretty but good enough, It should be fine once it is dry brushed and flocked

     Finally, both the infantry and cavalry divisions are being reinforced. The cavalry with these cuirassiers (I think the troopers are Old Glory miniatures whilst their mounts are a mix of goodness knows what) and the infantry are Perry's plastics with a metal command set. I have just under two weeks to get these chaps painted, which should be doable...I say should.. but it means concentrating on these for the next two weeks to the exclusion of all my other projects which, giving my poor painting discipline will definitely be a challenge. At the time of writing they have been primed just need to get cracking with the actual painting now...

Cuirassiers and their not very pretty mounts

Infantry awaiting paint and TLC. I plan to order some new
flags for these chaps I want them to represent the 1st Battalion
of the Ismailovsky Guards. One of the "challenges" with playing
Russians in Napoleonic Black Powder is that you can't give brigade
 orders to brigades with battalions from different regiments
(well I suppose you could if you decided to ignore that rule but
where's the fun in that?) so a second battalion of Guards are called for 
       I will post updates as I go along and, most delicately, will post a batrep of our battle when it comes...just need to see if I can find a lithograph app for my phone camera.

pip pip for the moment,
The General

Monday, 19 November 2018

Painting, Mon Armour

My British Armoured Division tanks, half tracks and Daimler Dingo

     After receiving some kind remarks about my Market Garden campaign armour and some questions on how I painted them I thought I would put up a post about how I paint armour which is fairly quick and very effective. It works for both Allied armour and Early War German. Here it is.

Early War Panzer IIIL and Artillerie-Schlepper VA60 before weathering

Start by priming your vehicle black. I use GW Chaos Black because I like it; it dries quick and has a nice matt finish. Can't say it better or worse than others, it's just what I am used too.

     Step 1: Starting with the German armour, I mix some Vallejo German Grey with some Glasgow City Council water (most, if not all tap waters work equally well) about 50/50. I then pick up some paint on this Daler Rowney number 10 brush ( I have heard tell that the dry brush that GW produce is excellent however it is a wee bit more expensive than the Daler Rowney brush and anyway, I like to support my local artist shop....except when it comes to buying GW Chaos Black ) and, wiping the brush back and forwards on a piece of kitchen towel (some authorities recommend a piece of scrap cardboard; I have never used cardboard myself but I am sure it would work equally well), remove the excess paint. I then brush the armoured vehicle vigourously all over, repeating the two steps above; pick up the paint on the brush, remove the excess, brush the remainder onto the armoured vehicle till only the recesses on the vehicle are still black. Leave for about 5-10 minutes the move onto step 2.

After the first dry brushing session, only the deep recesses are still black
     Step 2. Next I lighten the German Grey either with white or light grey, (add a little at a time) whichever I have to hand, as long as it is noticeably lighter than the German Grey and repeat the steps about but with a slightly less vigour. You will have to add some more water too to maintain the consistency. You'll have guessed by now that I am not too concerned about getting colours exactly correct. I'm more concerned with the overall look.
    If you are worried about making any of the highlights too light then take a more measured approach and add less of the lighter colour and dry brush with that and work your way up the lighter shade.
     Now where was I....oh yeah, once the vehicle has stowage, decals and weathering applied the exact colour won't matter. So long as it's in the parish I'm happy. 

After the second dry brush
     Step 3; Yep, you guessed it, add more white/light grey (and water) to the mix and carry on as before. And, like before, use a less vigourous painting action.

Third dry brush. Happy with that. Next step would be the tools and decals. I will add stowage and then it's time for weathering
     And it's the same with the Allied armour. The only difference is the paints, obviously

Primed and ready to go
     Step One: I mixed the US Dark Green with water and dry brushed as described above.
Paints for British and Commonwealth armour. For US armour I use Vallejo Olive Drab. I should have added Matt Balck to this photo
First dry brush for the British and Commonwealth tanks
     Step 2: Mix Russian Uniform Green with some water then dry brush as before.

Second drybrush

     Step 3; Add some Khaki to the Russian Green, again just enough to make a noticeable difference in the colours. Then dry brush as before 

Third dry brush. Good enough to be getting on with

     For US armour we use Olive Drab as our starter colour then progressively lighten using a tan or light green. In this case I used Stone Grey, sparingly. 

First dry brush result

Second dry brush result

With the turret fitted

Third and final dry brush

     And that is basically it. Generally I dry brush all the tracks whilst I am doing the rest of the vehicle, hard to avoid them really, then I dry brush them with light grey or light brown then a light dry brush on the track parts that come into contact with the ground with some shiny metal. I don't worry to much about the rubber trim on the road wheels either as these tend to pick up and collect dust in real life so are only really black in the factory or if they have been scrubbed before an inspection or parade. Hope this has been a help to some of you.

pip pip,
General Jimbob who looks very dapper in his wine and port stained coveralls 

ps. I did take a photo of the three Shermans after I had added stowage, decals and weathered them but of course I managed to delete the bloody thing...damned technology and sausage fingerdness!! And I since passed them onto their rightful owner so I don't have them at hand to photograph again..

pps. If you have any questions or if this is useful, pop a comment in the comments bit. Feedback is useful. 

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Bolt Action Campaign; Market Garden. The Beginning

Opening Moves: First In!

    So it begins; the start of our long awaited (by me!!) Market Garden campaign. I won't drivel on about the actual campaign as I am sure many if not all of you, have a good knowledge of the events surrounding Operation Market -Garden.

    Suffice to say, I will be playing the British, both airborne (Paras and Air Landing Infantry) and ground forces whist Richie will be playing the Boche in their various guises.

     We will follow the actual campaign booklet as closely as possible; working through the scenarios that involve the British apart from Scenario 8: The "Coup-De-Main" Gambit as I can't really afford to splash out on six recce jeeps (I know, where's my commitment?) but as for the rest, we're pretty much good to go.

      To start with we played "First In! 21st Independent Company Hits The Ground"  This was our first ever game of Bolt Action where there were no points values!! (as is the case with a few of the scenarios in the book) instead the scenario sets out what units each side has, where they deploy and when. This was a wee bit different though it still made for a very enjoyable game.

      Next we played Where The Hell Are We which sees an air landing infantry platoon attempting to make their way off the landing ground (table) from their glider before being cut off by German security patrols. This was our second ever game of Bolt Action with no points values!!

       Then, as we had some valuable game time left we tried out the Fighting Patrol scenario pitching a core platoon of  British Airborne against a core platoon of Waffen SS. To keep the theme going we dispensed with points as both sides are fairly balanced. I'll put down my reflections later but suffice to say they are pretty positive. Let's get to the games...

"First In; 21st Independent Company Hits The Ground 

Objective. The British must try to set up the Eureka and lay out air recognition panels. To represent the laying out of air recognition panels the unit must be given an order (the book suggest the Rally order which we did. However Down would be better as they will count as being Down for the run as they are crawling about on hands and knees  putting out the panels or erecting the Eureka Beacon. There's a British Army training film on Youtube showing how to set up a Eureka Beacon; check it out as it's very interesting and, as it's in colour, it might also be useful if you are still painting your British Airborne) The Germans must try to prevent them doing so. There are four turns in which both sides must attempt to achieve their objectives.

Forces: 21st Independent Company (Pathfinders) has a force consisting of platoon  HQ; 1st Lt and runner, 3x 10 man sections with 4 SMGs, 4 rifles and an LMG plus 3 Light Mortars (it should be 4 but I only have the 3) 
 The Germans start the game with 3x 5 man squads with 4 rifles and 1 SMG. In Turn 2 two more squads of 9 men equipped with 1x SMG, 1x LMG and 8 rifles will arrive. In Turns 3 and 4 another 9 man section will arrive. These can be of any calibre, Inexperienced, Regular or Veteran. Rich choose to go for Regulars. Unusually the Germans have no platoon HQ for this mission.

Deployment: We went for the dice lobbing method of deploying the Paras (stand about 10 feet away from the table and lob the order dice onto the table) to represent them scattering on their drop (British players should practice this as it's not as easy as you might think!) . Once all my Paras were eventually on the table, the order dice were returned to the bag and the mission began.

      "Ooof! Christ Almighty!" uttered Private Billy Staples as he landed. "What a bloody way to go to bloody war" Clawing at his parachute's quick release catch he released himself from the harness, rolled onto his feet and swiftly flattened and folded his parachute. All around him the other paras from his platoon were similarly engaged. Staples recovered his kit bag and drew his gear from it and slipped a magazine onto his Sten. "Oi! Staples! Come on you dozy git! We ain't got all bloody day!; 2 Section; on me!" shouted Sergeant Humphries to the surrounding men. Other NCOs were also calling in their men and heading towards their positions. "Coming, sarge!" Staples lumbered over the heath towards the sergeant, stopping en route to help one of the other paras collect the Eureka set from it's container. Sgt Humphries gathered his men together; they had made a good landing but needed to get the Eureka Beacon set up as soon as possible. He wondered where Lt McNulty was; probably in the centre of the field already. "Right lads, all 'ere? Okay, let's go" and so saying, Humphries strode off towards the middle of the large, open drop zone...

The Paras have landed and start making their way towards the
 centre of the drop zone
     Lt "Mac" McNulty looked around. On the far side of the drop zone he could see the four sections of his platoon gathering in distinct groups. Nearby a couple of his men were getting their equipment on; who were they?..Harris and Jones, one of the light mortar teams "Harris! Jones! With me, let's get a move on! Harris and Jones, clutching their personal weapons and with the light mortar and it's ammunition cases slung about them, began jogging towards the centre of the drop zone. As they did so, shots crackled around them. Lt McNulty turned to see where the firing was coming from and in the edge of the woods surrounding the heath spotted a small group of Germans. Our Stens will never hit the from here, he thought. "Jones! Harris, get that mortar set up; HE onto those bally Germans; quickly"..... 
Lt "Mac" McNulty starts to take control
The first German patrols arrive and begin firing on the Paras

     Gefrieter Sepp Wilsch gaped in awe at the sight of the parachutists dropping beyond the treeline. With his four men, he and other patrols like his, had been sent out to search for downed enemy aircraft and their baled out crews. They hadn't expected this, enemy paratroopers!
     Wilsch, a veteran of the Eastern Front where he had been wounded and now an assistant instructor in a training school near Arnhem, led his men forward to the treeline. On the open heath bounded by the trees the enemy paratroopers appeared to be gathering in it's centre. Certain that the news of the paradrop would have been circulated, Wilsch made his decision, pointing tiwards the nearest groupo of paratroopers he shouted "Squad, open fire!" His men looked at him, dumbfounded. "But Gefrieter, there are only four of us..."said one of them." Shut up, you idiot, and open fire!" shouted Wilsch "we have to keep them occupied and the sound of our shooting will bring the other patrols!" At this the squad levelled their rifles and began shooting at the enemy. God give me strength thought Wilsch, what idiots they are sending us. 
     Across the field he could hear the sounds of shots as other patrols came across the paratroopers and then he heard the sound of explosions...grenades?...mortars?.... 
3 Section move towards the centre of the drop zone
As does 2 section with the Eureka Beacon. Behind them are
1 and 3 section, carrying air recognition panels to mark the
 Drop Zone with

    All around the field firefights sprang up as the Pathfinders, making their way towards the centre of the field, were engaged by zealous German security patrols. Lt McNulty, pausing, took stock of the situation. Most of the shooting was quite desultory and seemed to be coming from the corners of the field. He now had to get this field marked and drive off the Boche before the main drop arrived. "Sgt Humphries!" he shouted towards the nearby 2 Section "Get some fire down on those Germans in the woods over there." he pointed to where a German LMG had just opened up "I'll get 1 Section to mark the drop zone with their panels". Sgt Humphries responded immediately "Right you are sir; 2 Section  shake yourselves out facing those woods.." As one 2 Section  spread themselves out facing the enemy and took up firing positions "2 Section, enemy front, rapid fire!!"  Rifles and machine guns burst into life as the Pathfinders fired their first shots in the battle.
     Lt McNulty dashed on, shots whistling around the field, behind him, his runner, Pte Miller tumbled to the ground as a bullet hit him; McNulty, focused on getting to the centre of field, didn't see Miller falling. Up ahead were 1 and 3 Sections. 1  Section were moving towards him whilst 3 section were firing at an unseen enemy in the treeline. As he watched McNulty saw two of the section keel over, hit by the German fire. 
     Shouting at the top of his voice, he caught the attention of 1 Section's commander "Cpl Berry; get your men to lay their panels out here" Cpl Berry acknowledged with a thumbs up and started organising his section. Soon they were busy crawling around on the ground, staking out the bright yellow panels.
2 Section lay down covering fire at the bothersome Boche.
 Behind them 1 Section manage to get their air recognition
panels laid out 
The Germans, undaunted, apply pressure
As the panels get laid out, the Germans advance onto the DZ in
 an attempt to destroy the Paras. 

     Lying on the small mound at the southern end of the drop zone, L/Cpl McTaggart muttered to the paratrooper lying beside him "Come on, Harry, get her lined up! They're getting ruddy close" The light mortar man shifted the mortar "They keep bloody moving, Titch" he replied. "Tich" McTaggart snorted, "Well aim in front of them then!" The mortar man swung himself to the right, bringing the mortar tube around to the left "On" he shouted. Titch dropped a yellow banded round into the tube "Fire!" he shouted. Pte Gilmour tilted his head dwon and shouted "Firing" yanking on the firing lanyard at the same time. The mortar round shot out and they watched for the fall of the shot. An small explosion erupted behind the advancing Germans. "More left....bollocks!" Titch cried out in anger as he watched the Germans assault a section of Paras, mowing them down as they closed in  

L/Cpl McTaggart and Pte Gilmour attempt to hit the advancing
 Germans before they reach 3 Section
More Germans arrive

4 Section and Privates Harris and Jones with the light
mortar attempt to stem the Germans
     Lt McNulty watched in horror as the Germans overran 3 Section. His horror turned to rage as he levelled his Sten Gun at them and, firing as he did so, he charged towards the six Germans. In his rage, he barely registered the growing sound of aircraft overhead as the first paras of the main body started to jump onto the DZ...

Post Script
     Well that was excellent. It certainly wasn't as easy as might be expected and the Paras took more casualties than I thought they would. The balancing factor in this game is the random nature of the Paras deployment (I didn't think to nominate each order dice I threw to a specific unit which might have made a wee bit more of a difference, Something to bear in mind if you play this yourself)
     Initially, all the German player can hope to do is pin a section or two. However, once the LMG armed German squads arrived, things took a different turn as there is little cover on the field, depending on where the German player deploys them. As the British will mostly be heading towards one point on the table it soon becomes a target rich environment.
     I will post the other two batreps shortly but for the moment, Market Garden has begun!

Bolt Action Fortress Budapest Campaign. #1

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