Saturday, 9 December 2017

Russian Huts

I bought these three Russian huts from Minibits at Fiasco a little while ago. They are actually 10mm, but at three quid each, I couldn't let them go. Anyway, huts come in all shapes and sizes in Russia. They look slightly small for my 15mm figures, but they work perfectly for the abstract nature of Rommel.

They were dead easy to paint. I base coated them in Green Grey, then inkwashed them with a dark brown to get the plank details

Finally, I drybrushed all the wood with Khaki to pick out the highlights.

The chimneys were painted in Buff then inkwashed with brown again and finally I added a splash of colour on two of them by painting the doors and window frames in green and white. It was just enough to add a little bit of detail.

As I said, they are lovely little pieces, really well detailed and sharp. The corners were snapped off, which is why, I presume, they were cheap, but with the addition of static grass this is not really noticeable.

Another lovely addition to my rural buildings for Russia and ones that didn't break the bank!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

6mm French Caissons

Back at the Derby Worlds show, I picked up a pack of Baccus' French Caissons. These were big carriages full of all the stuff needed to keep the guns firing.

They have no real use in Blücher (which I will be using them in), but they look nice and add a nice dimension to the battlefield.

A very short post, but another thing off the painting list!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Somewhere on the Eastern Front Rommel AAR

On Saturda, Ninjasaurus and Dean called over for a tester game of Rommel. I had tried it out solo, but it would their first game of it. With this in mind, we used the same forces I had previously (100 points of Soviets and Germans), but I took the Germans as they had fewer individual units and they split their command between themselves. We divided our forces in half as per the scenario and left half off the board as reinforcements.

I also took the first turn to show how a full turn worked and edged my Panzers down the left flank. The infantry plodded along on the right.

The Soviets moved forward, taking control of the small village and also digging in on their left flank. I used a surprise attack event card to attack the village. I knew this wouldn't dislodge the defenders, but it caused some damage and as Rommel is all about attrition it was still useful.

The attack came to nothing and my Panzer IVs withdrew.

However, I used a second tactical move to relaunch the attack with fresh Panzers and infantry. Rather than lose two tank units, the Soviets withdrew and this allowed me to capture the village.

Meanwhile on my right flak I was closing in on the dug in Soviet infantry. I knew from experience that getting infantry out of prepared positions was a costly business. But my presence was enough to threaten them at this point.

Over on the left flank, the Soviet tanks launched their attacks, the T-26s piled into the village and my Marders faced off against KV-1s and T-34s! The latter using a surprise attack which blunted my defence.

Thankfully, my defence remained intact and I was able to withdraw the Marders to lick their wounds.

By counter attacking, a unit of StuGs and two infantry battalions wiped out their T-34 and T-26 that had previously been damaged. On my right flank, I had halted in front of the prepared positions. I was waiting for my reinforcements to arrive to help swing the situation.

The fighting between the tanks was intensifying as the Soviets attacked again but with no favourable advantage.

Just in the nick of time my reinforcements arrived on the table, this meant three fresh units of StuGs were able to bolster my damaged Panzers.

This caused more damage to the Soviets and also destroyed a unit on the extreme left flank.

By this stage, even though a single Panzer IV was faced off by two T-26s and a KV-1, I still had the advantage!

I pushed everything I had into another attack on the Soviet vehicles...

And they collapsed under the weight of of the combined StuGs and Panzers. After many turns of heavy fighting, the balance had swung to me.

With the fresh reinforcements adding to my weight, I attacked on the right flank, but this was always going to prove difficult to win.

Meanwhile in the centre, my previously successful StuG and infantry support were wiped out by attacking Soviet infantry. The overall advance had been blocked, despite me causing a lot of causalities on their vehicles.

Another armoured assault proved indecisive as the remaining KV-1 and T-34 fought off an attack by StuGs.

It wasn't to last though, another attack on the village cleared it out and the final Russian tanks were destroyed. However, their reinforcements had just arrived. Suddenly the back end of the table looked very full!

I had cleared the centre of Russian tanks, but now was facing a large number of fresh infantry.

The Soviet infantry in the prepared positions leapt forward in the attack and smashed a StuG and infantry battalion.

We ended the game there, on the tenth turn. The game was set to finish on the twelfth turn anyway and we figured neither of us would have been able to capture the objectives within that time.

It was a draw, with two objectives held by both sides. However, the Germans had destroyed about fifteen Soviet units to a loss of about ten. This just showed that although there were far less German units to start with, they were more than capable of holding their own in the game and tore huge holes in the Soviet defences. The German tanks in particular did very well and there was nothing left of the Soviet vehicles by the end. 

This was a great game, it flowed well and we all were able to hold the rules in our heads. What I liked with playing against an opponent was not knowing what tactics they were going to use. I had a few surprises, for example, when they withdrew from a fight despite me expensively stacking the odds in my favour to no avail.A great game and I look forward to our next one!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 23 November 2017

15mm American M3A1

I was going through some boxes the other day and came across these Plastic Soldier Company M3A1s that I bought a long time ago but had forgotten about completely! I thought they would make an nice addition to my small American forces (something I intend on expanding in the future) to give them some armoured transport. 

As with most of PSC's kits they went together really easily and construction was not a difficult task.

There is some nice stowage included in the kit and the detail is crisp and clear on the vehicles. Also, the crew are nicely posed and fit in their places well.

As with most PSC kits there are a lot of variations that can be used to make different vehicle types. I went for the M3A1 versions, with the winch and armoured machine gun position.

As I mentioned, these will be used for my Americans, they can be used separately in Rommel to designate armoured infantry or Rapid Fire to transport the infantry. 

Thanks for reading!

Monday, 20 November 2017

A Mark IV for the Cambrai Centenary

Today is the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Cambrai, known mostly for it's use of mass tanks, in particular, Mark IVs. Over the last few months, I have been building a Mark IV that was bought for me for my birthday back in July. I wanted to make a vignette using the model and wanted to add a couple of figures to emphasis combined operations. The figures came from Tamiya and they are lovely minis, really nice poses and sharp detail. 

I based the plinth with Pollyfilla, covered this in actual mud from my garden and grassed it with static grass. I used matt varnish to fold the static grass in place and fortuitously, this slightly frosted as it dried and gives the scene a slightly cold late in the year 1917 feel to it. You may wonder why this landship isn't sailing over a sea of mud, shellcraters and body parts? Well, Cambrai was partially chosen for the tank attack due to it's relativity unbroken ground. Anyhow, enough waffle, here are the pictures:

I may add more things to the base in the future, but I'm happy with it for now!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Rommel Solo AAR

I've had Rommel for a while now and have been itching to try it out properly. All my chums have been busy for the last few weeks though, so I thought I'd try a solo game using a Soviet and German force, each of 100 points. I used the scenario number three in the book, which is the meeting engagement, with four objectives to be captured. 

The Germans had three elements, two infantry brigades each supported by a StuG and a Panzer Brigade mainly of Panzer IVs, but with a couple of Marders thrown in. The Soviets faced them with four elements, two rifle brigades, a small motorized infantry brigade and a armoured brigade of T-34s, KV1s and T-26s. As per the scenario, I separated each force in half and left one half off the table as reinforcements. Then I set the table up:

The first couple of moves saw the German infantry advance on their left flank, whilst the armour sped forward on the right. Meanwhile, the Soviets inched forward, using mutual protection.

Then the first clash occurred outside the small village. The first German assault was repulsed by the Soviets, who immediately counter attacked. You can see that some of the German units are 'tipped' which means they have taken an action (in this case an attack) which means that they are now at risk and half their combat values. Units untip at the start of their turn, so it means that you have to act fast to attack a tipped unit.

Although the Germans were tipped, they stood the Soviet armour assault and the Soviets fell back. The stacking value of a square is three units, so the KV1s had to fall back behind the other tanks. The motorised infantry could stay where it was as it was already in a square with two other motor rifle units (the trucks).

Then as the Germans were untipped at the start of their turn, they went into the attack again, this time supported by StuGs. In armour attacks, one side ha the armour advantage depending on how good your tanks are compared to the enemy, in the attack the StuGs are as good as the T-34s, so neither had the advantage. However, StuGs, along with other tank hunters are better in defence and had the Soviets attacked the Germans would get an advantage, which means that they cause an extra casualty on enemy armour.

In this case, the attack was repulsed. The game is a game of attrition, given it's high level and it means that attacks seem desultory, especially when there are the maximum amount of units in a square. However, units soon take hits and get slowly ground down to breaking point.

On the German right flank, the Panzer IVs and motor infantry were grinding away at the Soviet defenders with little luck on either side.

Back on the other flank the fighting was still vicious with little gained, but everyone taking plenty of hits.

Until the tipping point occurred and a combined attack from infantry and StuGs broke the defending Soviet motor infantry!

However, the Russians rolled for their reinforcements and they appeared on the table!

I stopped the game at that point, it was five moves in, the German's right flank was crumbling as the Panzer IVs were battered and broken, but the Soviet right flank was also starting to give under the continual pressure.

It was a very enjoyable game as a tester, the rules were simple enough to be held in your head for the most part (there was a few things I forgot, like the optional extra tactical movement phases, for example) and the grinding of attritional warfare works well at this scale of game. I found the Command Post sheet to be too big to sit on my table, especially when it was full of dice, so after this game I remade the German and Soviet ones as a deck of cards instead (you can find a link to the PDF of them on this blog post HERE, print them in their nations colours and laminate them for use). 

I also found it helped a defence by packing a square with the maximum amount of units (three) as they hold on for a long time, and the attacker needs to have fresh waves of units, plus artillery support, plus the support offered by the tactical Ops choices to have a good chance of breaking the line. Basically, it needs combined operations, as the Second World War did. 

I'm looking forward to trying the game out properly against another opponent. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 11 November 2017


They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Photo of two German soldiers found at Bullecourt, June 2017, almost exactly 100 years since they were killed. Copyright Harvey Mills 2017

Saturday, 4 November 2017

The Maus That Roared

Back at Derby Worlds,I bought myself two Maus tanks by Zvezda. As there was only ever two built and never got beyond prototype (don't believe those folk that tell they fought, they didn't...), this was way too many for Rapid Fire! and Rommel. I bought the first one to paint and sell on EBay, this is it here:

This was weathered with the excellent Flory washes that I bought a while ago:

And if you are interested in buying it, CLICK HERE to see the listing on EBay. The second one, I based and will be using myself:

Now, the Maus is one of those things most beloved by wargamer, the stupidest Panzer pr0n ever created. A tank that barely was able to move even had the Third Reich had been able to scrounge enough fuel to fill its tanks and was the biggest target for miles around.

I bought it, to use in a 'what-if' game to see how badly it would do in a combat situation, if it even got out of its factory. So stay tuned and one day you may see and AAR where the Maus gets pranged in the first turn.
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