Sunday, May 7, 2017

Panzer Reinforcements For Kampfgruppe Von Topper

Here are five new tanks for the early WW2 Wehrmacht force I am slowly assembling.  These are the excellent Plastic Soldier Company 15mm PzKpfwIV models made up as AusF models, suitable for Barbarossa.    I really like the PSC philosophy. which allows you to make different variants of the same basic tank in the same kit.  Very clever.  Likewise, their T34 kit contains two turret variants, for the 76mm and 85mm guns.   Nice.  Sadly these don’t have any stowage or decals yet.  The models don’t have much room for turret numbers.  I suppose a cross on the top of the turret might not go amiss.

I’ve dry brushed them liberally to suggest the dust of the summer/fall of 1941, though it turns the panzer grey almost green, which I’m not sure I like.   Otherwise no weathering, other than a little rust on the tracks and the track sections used as frontal armour.  I have glued them to the magnetized bases I like to use for storage in cookie tins, which keeps the models from getting bashed around.  The bases also look sharp, in my humble opinion.

 

These platoon had its introduction to combat the other night, when I was pushing them around the table to try and understand the mechanics of Flames of War 4.0.   Please don’t judge me harshly on this, it’s what the WW2 guys play at the club and it’s that or nothing, right now.   

I put them under the command of the household’s junior member, Leutnant von Topper, who has volunteered to command all Wehrmacht forces in future, though he wants to call them “Purrmacht”.  Here he works on digging the Soviet defenders out from cover.

                                                                                             Come out, little red mice!

As an exercise, I put the PzIVs up against four KV1s that are almost ready to roll of the Red Banner Workbench.  The Germans were rated Confident Veteran, the Soviets were rated Fearless Conscript.  I quickly learned that with KV1’s front armour of 9 and a side/rear armour of 8, there is no chance of a PZIV’s 75mm gun being able to knock out one of these monsters.  The best one can hope for is that the Soviet rolls a 1 on his armour save on a side/rear shot against the 75mm gun’s AT rating of nine, meaning that 1+8 ties the AT rating and causes a bail.  So basically the KV1 doesn’t get knocked out, it just fails a morale check.   Meanwhile the PzIV has a front armour of 5 and a side armour of 3 and while the Conscript Soviets are crap shots, it’s bad when they hit.

 

                                                      These comrades will ruin a tanker’s d

I think Kampfgruppe Von Topper will be asking for 88mm AT and Stuka support in its next requisition.  I think in the short term they will have to settle for some infantry support to go close assault those beasts.

Blessings to your brushes!

MP+

These figures bring my 2017 totals to:

15mm: Vehicles: 8, Foot Figures: 4, Scenic Pieces: 7

20mm: Foot figures: 18

28mm:  Foot Figures: 86;  Mounted Figures: 11; Terrain Pieces: 17


 

 

 

 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Battle of Shiloh Update Day 1 08:00 to 08:30

Here’s a brief update on my solo play of The Gamers’ April’s Harvest: Battle of Shiloh.

It’s 08:00 on the first day of the battle, Union turn.  This turn McClernand’s 1st Division is now alert but will need to wait for orders from Grant.  Meanwhile, Sherman (right) and Prentice (left) brace to meet the Confederate tide.

An incident during the CS 08:30 turn.  Gladden’s brigade of Wither’s CS Division advances along with the division artillery.   In the game mechanics, the non-phasing side shoots first, and in this case, Peabody’s US brigade of Prentiss’ division  gets to shoot and causes some casualties.  However, as it is in extended line, each time part of the line shoots, there is a chance it can run low of ammo if it rolls an 11 or 12, which is what happens.  Then Gladden’s men and supporting guns return the fire, the US rolls boxcars on its morale check and Peabpdy’s brigade routs backwards two hexes.  It takes casualties and stragglers and is now the second Union brigade to become wrecked.

 

Situation at the end of the CS 08:30 Turn .  Peabody’s routed brigade has left a large gap in the US line.  Will the Union be able to plug the gap?  Grant better arrive soon to take charge!

 

 

 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Some Captains Of Mordor

It’s been quiet here, with little painting done of late, but here are four Games Workshop figures from their Lord of the Rings line a Mordor orc command team.  The figures are fine case resin, which I suspect are now done on a print on demand basis as orders come in.  The figures are generally good, with a little flash, but the banner bearer’s sword is quite wavy and to quote Blackadder, looks a bit like an Oriental disembowelling hook.

The banner is totally coped from one done (better than mine) by my friend James.

I’ve been toying with some modified command rules for Mordor for Dragon Rampant, which I need to revisit.   These fellows will play a role in getting otherwise inert and quarrelsome lumps of orcs going anywhere.  Also, the fellow on the right is described as being an Orc Shaman, or a chaplain, which I find kind of creepy, that the orcs have their own padres.

Blessings to your brushes!

These figures bring my 2017 totals to:

15mm: Vehicles: 3, Foot Figures: 4, Scenic Pieces: 7

20mm: Foot figures: 18

28mm:  Foot Figures: 86;  Mounted Figures: 11; Terrain Pieces: 17


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Meanwhile, In Gondor

MINAS TIRITH, MIDDLE EARTH PRESS SERVICE:  After accusations from the White Council that Gondor has gotten lax and fallen behind on its security, the Office of the Steward announced that the Gondorian army has been increased.   Said Denethor, Steward of Gondor, “Our new rapid deployment force will allow us protect our borders and keep the people of Gondor safe.  Our troops are the best.  Not that Sauron is a bad guy.  I don’t know Sauron, but I am sure that if he and I got together, we could do some deals together."

Twelve new troops for my Gondorian force.   These are of course the classic GW plastic sculpts as per the Peter Jackson films.  They are figures that Chris Stoesen sent to me at Christmas as part of the Santa Clause project.  Thank you, Chris, great gift!

Also finished are these eight figures from the GW Warriors of the First Age sprue.   You get four per sprue and I had two sprues, so …   I think they could pass for palace guards or some sort of ceremonial or elite unit.

They have comfy blue cloaks.  Definitely an elite unit.

 

Then, just to have a bit of a gloat, I put all of my Gondorian figures together for a group shot and was pleasantly surprised.  Almost fifty figures in all, and this force has never fought together on the tabletop before.  Shall have to fix that.

Gondorian archers.  My take on them would be that they are the best archers of the race of Men, second only to the elves.  Other races of Men, like the Rohirrim, use shorter bows suitable for mounted work.    So, for example, in Dragon Rampant I would give Gondor 18” missile range and allow the sharpshooter upgrade as well as an upgrade to their armour from 2 to 3 on the grounds that they walk around inside tin cans.  Of course, that would be an expensive unit to field.

“Men of Gondor …” sung to the tune of Men of Harlech.   Inspiring lot, and very shiny.

Thank you and blessings to your sharp swords of Men.

 

These figures bring my 2017 totals to:

15mm: Vehicles: 3, Foot Figures: 4, Scenic Pieces: 7

20mm: Foot figures: 18

28mm:  Foot Figures: 82;  Mounted Figures: 11; Terrain Pieces: 17


 

 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Tuesday Night Boardgame: April's Harvest by the Gamers

A quiet week at the Mad Padre's wargaming chapel.   Spring is slowly coming, I've been doing some painting, including reorganizing my 15mm Red Army of the Great Patriotic War (more of that anon) and am generally being delighted that Madame Padre is doing so well.

 

While my GMT 1914 game is still raging at home, at work things are pleasantly quiet and I have found a space in the stockroom to set up a game to tinker with during my lunch hours.   Because it’s April and spring is gloriously here, II chose this 1995 title by The Gamers', April's Harvest, an ACW game on the battle of Shiloh.  It’s a design by Dean Essig, the well-known and distinguished designer behind The Gamers,  and Alan Wambold, part of the Civil War Brigade series now available from Multiman Publishing.  I blame Jon Frietag for telling me about an MMP sale a few years ago.

 

Most of the books in my ACW library are about the war in the East, and I don’t know much about Shiloh except the rollicking account in the first volume of Shelby Foote’s Civil War series, so it’s an opportunity for me to learn a little more about this battle that started the Confederacy’s long slow death spiral in the West.  

Here’s the game set up and ready to go.   The Confederate army is marching on in the top left corner, and the Union are the blue counters scattered around in the centre.  Because U.S. Grant let the Confederates assemble right next to his encampment at Pittsburg landing, without being too bothered by reports of trouble coming, most of the Union troops start immobile and off guard.  Each counter represents a brigade, a battery, a cavalry unit, a commander or a supply train.

I am still working my way through the rules, which are generally well written and moderately complex.   One of the things that appeals to me as a miniatures gamer is the command and control dimension of the game.   As I understand it, divisions and corps need orders (seize this, defend that, go here, etc) that can need to be written in broad terms by the players.   It’s not at the micro detail of hex by hex movement, but broad strokes.  For example, the three CSA divisions that start on the board all have territorial objectives that they are ordered to capture.   If new orders need to be given, there is a mechanism that marks the time necessary for the orders to travel from commander to subordinate, and then a mechanism to see if they orders are accepted and understood.  

I’ve just had time to run the first turn (6:30am).  It wasn’t clear to me which side went first, so I let the Union go first and moved the two Union brigades that had orders.   Since then I have had access to the errata, and discovered that the rebs should go first.  Ooops.  Here Moore’s troops of Prentis’ Division have been ordered to scout for rebel tools.  They run right into Hardee’s third corps and are falling back.  Both sides have fired shots and taken casualties, with a rebel brigade pushing the Yanks back but becoming Shaken after a failed morale check.  Shaken is not a terrible thing, but it does stop troops from making Close Combat (shock) attacks.

The counters on either side of Confederate units showing red arrows indicate that the brigade has adopted an extended line formation.

More to follow as the Union camp starts to wake up.

Blessings to your hardtack and coffee!  

MP+

 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Tuesday Night Boardgame: GMT's 1914: Attack A L'Outrance

Returning to an old and occasional custom here at Mad Padre Wargames, it's our Tuesday night boardgame feature, in which I spare some love for my first love, hex and counter wargames. 

Tonight's subject is the GMT Games Title, 1914: Offensive a Outrance, a modest monster game working on the operational level that recreates the first weeks of World War One on the western front. a 2013 title designed by Michael Resch. 

1914 features a fairly rigorous model of army organization and attachment, and forces the player to think carefully about each army's designated areas of operation and objectives.  It uses historical war plans that guide each army's movement and objectives, which is useful for solitaire play.   Plans can be suspended and armies can be relocated, but initially the game works according to the designs of the 1914 war planners.

Logistics is a big deal in this game, and there are detailed rules for fortresses, siege artillery, and rail movement that I haven't yet dived into.

Because it's quite the big beast, I am only playing the tutorial scenario, which features the Lorraine offensive of France's First and Second armies in the first days of the war as part of the Republic's Plan XVII.   Here Second Army throws itself at the German lines in the true spirit of the bayonet, while the Germans do their best to improve their positions.  The black counters indicate Prepared Attacks, which cost movement points to execute, thus forcing the offensive to move fairly slowly, but which yield better odds of success.  Attacks can be moderated by the Attacker and then the Defender declaring if the battle is to be Intensive, which increases the chances of casualties.

Combat units are rated by attack and defence strength, the two large numbers at the bottom of each counter.  The smaller number between them indicates combat proficiency, and the small number to the side of the unit symbol indicates organic artillery.   Besides the usual retreat/advance/step loss results, the CRT gives a modifier that each side must use in what is basically a morale check after each fight,  which may result in a unit's combat effectiveness being degraded.




Turns allow the defender a limited move after the attacker or phasing player completes his/her movement.  Here below the French 21st XXX was trying to sneak through the Vosges to pressure Strasbourg.   In the German reaction face, elements of 15 XXX have moved far enough south to check the advance, showing that the game has some potential for solitaire play, as one can think through all options for both sides each turn.  

Here the 30th XX has moved into a fortress hex (as in the red lines around Strasbourg.  I did some checking and concluded that this hex must represent the Fort de Mutzig, which I was delighted to find has a website and looks well worth visiting.  in fact, the whole Alsace region looks like a beautiful destination, perhaps a cycling holiday.




I am only half way through a four-turn game, but the tutorial is doing its job and teaching me the basic mechanics.    I am working up the nerve to try the big game this summer, but am liking it so far.  Following the spirit of the French generals, I shall throw myself on the German lines like a tiger and reap the certain victory.  Faith in the bayonet and the spirit of the attack shall prevail!

Marshall Luigi watched the fighting for a while, but could not bear to witness the casualties.







Monday, April 3, 2017

Wargaming With The Big Boys And Girls



Sometimes this image, from a recent Canada/US military exercise, is how I would like to wargame, stomping around on a big map in my combat boots, pointing at things, with player aids and counters carefully prepared by dutiful underlings.  

This last week on The Strategy Bridge, an online journal for military, government and think-tank types, there has been a good discussion on wargaming from a professional perspective.

Of course, for some of us, wargaming is a subset of military history that looks backwards rather than forwards.  We focus on past conflicts, and ask ourselves if the games are faithful models of the past (assuming that we can know the past), or, in the words of the old Avalon Hill box titles, if we can do better than Alexander or Rommel did. 

However, for those of us in the hobby that want to look forwards, who are interested in wargaming the near future, we will know that wargaming as a hobby has often intersected with military training.  Mark Herman, for example, was one of a stable of games designers who cut their teeth with Jim Dunnigan and SPI imagining future wars with the USSR and other likely opponents before the fall of the Berlin Wall becalmed SPI and ultimately bankrupted it.  Herman, I think on the Guns, Dice and Butter podcast, talked about how he was picked up by the Pentagon for the work he had done with SPI.  More recently Brian Train and Volko Ruhnke have attracted attention from the military community, who see their contemporary titles as useful training aids.

So, depending on where you are in our hobby, the stuff in the Bridge series may not be earthshaking news, but it is interesting to hear professionals talk about the same issues of simulation, probability and uncertainty that we also think about.

Rex Brynen , asks how wargames can help planners calculate the likely actions of actors who may be unpredictable (think Donald Trump) or who want to be seen as unpredictable (think Nixon vs Vietnam).

Krisjand Rothweiler talks about various types of wargames, including matrix and seminar games, to imagine solutions or strategies to problems such as geopolitical rivalries over territories and resources, or terrorism.

Tom McDermott writes about the importance of capturing the psychology of the opponent in a wargame, in the spirit of Clausewitz's use of the metaphor of a duel with a thinking, feeling opponent rather than a dispassionate, predictable adversary.

Mark Jones writes about using wargaming in a predictive manner, assuming that you can get the probabilities write.  He starts with an anecdote about US troops preparing for Desert Storm, using a boardgame by Frank Chadwick's (sadly now defunct) Games Design Workshop to prepare for their war.  Jones notes that predictions of allied casualties for Desert Storm were wildly off, and asks how wargames designers can and should address uncertainty in their models.

Finally, Benjamin Jensen writes about how military leaders since Moltke the Elder have used wargames to learn about their craft and to prepare for the future.  Jensen ends with the promise of a series of games being published online by The Strategy Bridge over the year to come, a project I shall be watching with interest.

Obviously the types of games and the mindsets described in this article may be vastly different than the typical club game  fought in a few hours, where Vikings and Saxons, or Tigers and T34s, are pitted against each other in a purely tactical context.  However, if I could go to a weekend event where there was a game, perhaps lasting half a day or a day, run according to some of the principles described in these articles, for example, any of the matrix games described here on the Paxsims website,  I would be all over that.

Blessings to your imaginings!

MP+



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