Michael at the NWA and I have been attempting to have a game of IABSM for ages, and at last on Friday there was room on our dance cards.
We played the first scenario in the rulebook: North of Caen. Michael has a number of Crossfire armies, so it wasn’t much of an effort to glean the figures we needed for the two forces. Michael had the Germans, with two rifle platoons and a section of tripod mounted MG 42 medium machine guns. Facing him I had a British rifle company, with 3 platoons (Lets say that I had A Company in a Regiment, so 7, 8, and 9 Platoons).
We started off by misreading the ‘pre-game stonk’ rule, but I found out later that the area I chose to use the stonk on turned out to just have a dummy blind on it anyway.
I put Capt Jones, the company commander, with 8 Platoon, in the centre of my line, and my dummy blind on the right flank.
Michael spotted 8 Platoon fairly quickly, with his 2 Zug, which were deployed in an enclosed orchard. They came off their blinds, and the two platoons exchanged fire at fairly long range without much harm being done to either side.
My other blinds proved very difficult to spot, and I got a fair way down the table with them.
I moved my dummy right up to the blind that was on my right, and it proved to be the German machine gun section. Not wanting to get in a firefight with them I charged 9 Platoon, still on their blind, right up to close combat. At this point we realised that that was going to be costly for me. Each of Michael’s MMG crews ended up with 19 dice (dug in, MMG attacked from the front, etc), against the 11 dice that my assaulting sections could muster. The two MMGs held, just, and put one of my sections to rout. I did manage to cause one of the German MMGs to fall back, and the other was down to two men.
Meanwhile Lt Watson had led 7 Platoon into a good position to enfilade the Germans in the orchard, and with the combined firing of two platoons the Germans started to become weakened.
On the right flank I finally put paid to one of the Spandaus, but 9 Platoon was down to one section.
At this point Michael and I called it an evening. We had spent a long time discussing a few rules that we either couldn’t decipher or couldn’t find on the night, so the game went a little slowly. We plan to play the same scenario again to see just how fast we can play the game. I feel that we should be able to play the game pretty quickly the second time around. I’d definitely like to play some of the more advanced scenarios to see how tanks and artillery support feel because I enjoyed that little session.
I’m about to embark on a wee project: WWII gaming, starting with the invasion of France in 1940, in 20mm scale. Since I’ve not completed a vehicle kit in a while I wanted to see what weathering technique I like best, and also to come up with a panzer grey colour. Not wanting to experiment on a vehicle that would forever haunt my wargames table, I went along to the hobby shop nearest my work and got the cheapest vehicle kit they had in Panzer Grey: a 1/35th Italeri Schwimmwagen. Until early 1943, German tanks were painted in RAL7021 Dunkelgrau (Panzer Grey), sometimes with a disruptive pattern in brown or green. I always thought that Panzer Grey was a dark colour, as its name suggests, but the current fashion in some circles is to use a lighter grey.
Certainly there are lots of photos showing quite light coloured German tanks, as well as plenty of others showing a dark colour.
A few journeys through Google didn’t really help much, but I had a Eureka moment the other day. Although there are plenty of genuine colour photos of German vehicles, I’ve seen none that show a light colour, but there are plenty of black and white photos that do. Having, as a kid, built pretty much any kit I could get my hands on, I now find it weird that different sorts of modellers don’t seem to talk to each other. Something that I’ve seen mention of in aircraft modelling circles, but not in the armour modelling world, is orthochromatic film. Basically, a good deal of WWII black and white photography was done using a film that changed the tonal value of certain colours. Because RAL 7021 has a fair bit of a blue component, orthochromatic film has made it look lighter. It’s weird and counterintuitive that a black and white film might mess with tonal values, but this neat page explains it well. I’m pretty happy with the colour and tone I got by putting 10 drops of Vallejo Model Air white in with 1ml of Lifecolor RAL7021, although I could have gone darker.
The accident I had when airbrushing my F9F Panther has rendered my ‘good’ airbrush out of action, perhaps permanently. So I used my trusty old Badger 350 for this job and I found it a breeze to use. I do agree with a forum post I read somewhere that airbrushing with Lifecolor takes ‘intestinal fortitude’. Today’s effort took three coats to cover a black undercoat (thinned with about 40% water), and with the first two coats I felt like I was painting the whole kit with paint splatter. But the results are fine, and now I know how the paint works I’ll keep using it. In the background of the photo below is a Sparrow Casting Steyr 1500 that I also airbrushed today, just to try the paints out, using Vallejo Model Air dark yellow and lots of white. As you can see the coverage was fine with just one coat, but the colour is too yellow. When I get on to late war I’ll have to either lighten the dark yellow with a different colour, or choose a different colour to begin with.
There was a moment of high drama in my study the other week. I was sitting in my comfy chair with a book, my wife was sitting at my computer desk, and I looked up and noticed that my 2 year old son was holding HMS Naiad, which I had moved to centre stage on my modelling desk so I could begin rigging it later that afternoon. Time slowed down. My wife tried to grab the ship, but I called that effort off when I saw that a tug of war had started. We instead tried gently asking him to put the ship down. That worked a treat. Alistair opened his hand and the ship fell and exploded on the floor. I don’t know where the spritsail went, which is odd because I have a wooden floor, but I raided another set of sails for a replacement. Several weeks later I am fairly proud to present two more completed frigates, HMS Naiad and La Pomone.
That means I now have four ships, so I can’t run Trafalgar. But there are plenty of actions that were that small – which is one of the reasons that I went with frigates.
I have also bought and painted some of the Langton’s shore installations (a Martello tower, a signal station, and a shore battery) which, together with the ships’ boats that came with them, should make for some fun scenarios.
I played a game of Dux Bellorum with Matt at the Nunawading Wargames Association last Friday. Matt has played DBA and Glutter of Ravens with me, but he was new to Dux Bellorum. Matt brought his Romano British along, to fight my Saxons. I apologise in advance to anyone who is upset by my fielding kite shielded huscarles, by the way, I found them first and I couldn’t be bothered hunting out my earlier troops. Matt bought a fair number of skirmishers, which he strung along the front of his army, as well as some good quality riders. I went for a smaller army, with my commander supported by two bands of noble warriors, as well as spending five points on some mounted Welsh allies.
I sent my Welsh riders off to face Matt’s rather better cavalry, while on the other flank our skirmishers slugged it out. Matt had some bad luck trying to persuade the skirmishers across his front to retire, and my warriors ran them down. I piled Leadership Points on my lone band of riders and they were able to hold out against Matt’s riders long enough for a couple of my warrior units to catch them in the flank.
After taking out one unit of noble riders, Matt’s Mounted Companions exercised discretion and moved out of harm’s way for the rest of the game. Although Matt rolled a triple six in one combat roll against me, his six rolling continued when he was trying to get his shieldwall troops to move into the combat in the centre. That meant he was unable to make use of the superior numbers he had against me there, while I was still dealing with his riders. The loss of his skirmishers also meant that Matt began to fall behind in Leadership Points, so I was able to wear him down and win the game.
We both enjoyed ourselves. We noticed that a game lasts a good deal longer than a DBA game, even though there are fewer units. That’s because so much more goes on, but also in Friday’s game I’d forgotten my boxes of dice, so we took forever to roll through the combats!
I had my first game at the Nunawading Wargames Association in a while last Friday, after the summer break. Michael was happy to play a number of games, so I chose a main course of DBA with my Book 1 armies, and a dessert of Michael’s Star Wars Miniatures. My Assyrians and Libyan Egyptians always provide a fun game so I took them along.
Michael was the defender and he put down two areas of marsh as well as the river Nile. The 24 inch board was a bit of a shock to me after having used 28 inch boards at CANCON. My ancient camps are way too big, as well, and the Assyrian army has quite a big footprint thanks to its heavy chariot and horde content, so I was fairly constrained at setup.
By the time I’d extricated myself from my setup, Michael had managed to move his Libu and Meshwesh warband out of the way of my chariotry to his left flank. I still had cavalry on that flank, and Michael’s line was a little forward there, so I could manage an overlap, so I decided to move my line in with my left slightly out of contact. That left my general within bowshot of Michael’s Egyptian archers, but at 4 factors each there’s only a 1 in 36 chance of something horrible happening, right? I should have learnt by now that I’m a 6-1 magnet, and sure enough my general went down. We decided to play out the turn because I had some pretty good matchups, and the weirdest thing happened – my auxilia took out Michael’s general!
After consulting the rules we found that neither of us had won yet. My next turn and Michael’s next turn came and went with no further casualties, but in the turn after that one of my cavalry was doubled in a 2-1 attack on Michael’s Meshwesh. As I expected, the Assyrians and Libyan Egyptians did provide a fun game – just not in the way I expected.
Star Wars Miniatures was fun – a bit like Wings of War but with a few added shiny things, like personality traits for the pilots (the Imperial pilots are no gentlemen), and the miniatures themselves, and Michael’s cool home made star mat. I played the Imperials, with two Tie fighters, against Michael’s single X-Wing. Michael has found that the Alliance has always won, and Friday was no exception. I think the best tactic for the Imperials is to try to stay out of the X-Wing’s frontal arc, even at the expense of getting in an attack. Eventually you should wear those rebels down!
Day two of CANCON 2013 was for Books III and IV armies – for me it was all about Book IV as my army (Medieval German) and all the armies I faced were from Book IV.
My first opponent was Greg’s very attractive Burgundian Ordonnance army.I charged down the table to close with his troops as there were plenty of shooters. My Knight general went through Greg’s artillery and after a couple of bounds we had a bit of a ‘revolving door’ going on with my right and Greg’s right doing quite nicely. In my last bound I was 3-2 up and rather keen indeed to get that fourth element before Greg’s right got going, but it was not to be: Greg got two more elements in his bound so I lost 4-3.
Next up was Iain’s French Ordonnance. I was the defender, and although the fairly obvious tactic to use would have been to use my defender’s-swap to my Knights in the centre, facing Iain’s Blades, and heavy infantry off on the flank against his bows, I second guessed myself and didn’t do any swaps. The result was that my Spears crumbled against Iain’s Blades, and my Knights served as target practice for his Bows – a 5-1 loss.
After an early lunch I fought Andrew’s Ottomans.Andrew attempted a flank attack with a group of three Light Horse making a wide sweep around the wood on my right. By the time they got around I’d organised a little reception committee, and the column was ZoC’ed from the flank by one of my Psiloi, who were joined by my general, and eventually by another Knight. The LH were in a prime position for me to flee them off the board, and I’d just made a start on that when Andrew charged my line of Spears with his cavalry and remaining Light Horse. The latter ended up pretty much on its own as it’s friends fled. I was very sad that we ran out of time at that point, I was itching to finish chasing Andrew’s flankers off the table, and close the door on the stuck Light Horse, all I needed was one more bound and about 4 PIPs.
Next I met Oliver and his Medieval French.That was a fun game. I got off to a good start, breaking up Oliver’s line and causing some casualties, but I couldn’t get that fourth element. The battle raged on for so long that the French General ended up forcing the Knight he was up against to recoil all the way back from the centre of the table to off the rear edge – and we were using 28 inch tables. I even had the door closed on that guy and he still didn’t fold. I finally managed to get another of Oliver’s elements so I won 4-2.
Next up was Josh with 100 Years War English.I did what I could to help Josh with his archery and artillery but with Knights vs Blades there was nothing I could do to avoid winning pretty quickly. I assumed when Josh put his Blades general down that he didn’t actually have the Knight option, so I didn’t advise him against choosing it, but I saw some Knights in the box as he was packing up. Oh well.
My last game of the tournament was against Mark Davies’ Komnenan Byzantines.Once again my sanity deserted me and I left a pair of Knights in front of Mark’s massed Bows. I lost one in the first round of shooting but on the other flank my Crowsbows destroyed a Cavalry element Mark had supporting a Light Horse. Sensing victory I moved a pair of knights in to attack. Unfortunately 4 factors to 1 is of no benefit when you roll a 1 and your opponent rolls a 6. I lost another Knight to that same Light Horse, and then lots more, ending up 5-1 down.
All in all I had a very enjoyable time. My final ranking of 15th out of 22 means that hopefully I can only improve!
Last weekend I had the pleasure of participating in the CANCON 2013 DBA Competition. The first day of the comp was for armies from Books I and II, with me fielding my untried Early Carthaginians (I/61a).
The first game of the day was against Andrew’s Seleucids (II/19a).
My second game was as the attacker against Steve’s Later Hoplite Greek (Siciliot) army.Steve put down rather a lot of terrain for a ‘heavy foot’ army, and luckily I made my terrain roll, putting Steve in amongst it all. This slowed him down a fair bit, and I had no inclination of joining him in the defile most of his army was in. As Steve’s army emerged I was able to take advantage of the Greek’s disorganisation and destroy two of Steve’s Spears before time was called.
The third game of the day was against Mark Baker’s Dacians. Mark put down a lot of steep hills and woods, like a horrific winter wonderland.I wasn’t looking forward to fighting a warband army over that terrain at all, but I sent Psiloi and my Auxilia up a hill to try to break up the attack, while the rest of my army waited on the flat. In the event I chickened out and moved my light troops back onto the flat, out of the way of the four Warband who were surging up the hill. Luckily for me, Mark had forgotten about Warband not getting rear support against my Psiloi, who managed to kill a Warband thanks to them not being able to recoil. I threw in some reinforcements and destroyed another two. Mark then put in an attack through the wood on my right, and the gap between the wood and the hill, but once again his Warband proved too brittle, and in the end I won 6 elements to 1.
After lunch, my Carthaginians found themselves up against Lachlan’s Classical Indians. Lach had a fairly inefficient deployment, with his general in the jungle and the other elements not really where he wanted them, so he spent what PIPs he had reorganising his line.The patch of rough terrain in the centre of the table slowed me down also, so it was fairly late before we were able to make contact. The fighting became very confused, mainly because my left flank going to pot thanks to a 6-1 on one of my Heavy Chariots. I’d lost my Auxilia, and with it my ability to destroy Elephants, so I was lucky that we ran out of time with me 3-2 down.
Next up was Elijah (and his Dad), with Marian Romans. The Marians didn’t have much of a show against my Heavy Chariots, but Elijah managed to take one of my Spears down, losing 4-1 in the end.
My last game of the day was against George, with another Siciliot Army (I think – George didn’t seem to know).The Siciliots have good Psiloi support for their Spears, so it was a bit of a shoving match, but in the end the Siciliots went down 4-2.
My army worked well for me, it was just a bit vulnerable to the elephants you inevitably meet in a Book I and II competition, but I felt a lot more relaxed at this competition than I did at the Worlds in Wellington in 2011, which was good. Playing juniors is a little fraught though, treading the fine line between being patronising and re-enacting the Fast Show’s Competitive Dad sketch. Good experience for when my 20 month old is a little older I guess. I’m not sure whether I had a record number of draws or not, three is way too many. I’ll try to think of ways of speeding up my game, especially if I go to the Monday Knights competition as only 45 minutes are set aside for each game. I guess I also need to come up with a nice way to hurry my opponents along if they are being hesitant.