Friday, 9 October 2015

Battle of Ardennes 1944: Scenery

I thought I would inject a little life into my Ardennes terrain and I would begin with some 1940's style cars. These are repainted Lledo diecast cars bought on ebay for a couple of quid, with my patented plaster filler and white paint snow effect added. The bus has been abandoned for some time and has icicles and is covered with snow. The green van has been in a crash by some desperate refugee who lost control of the van on the ice and it crashed into a wall. 

In future I intend to add a few carts, sheds, wood piles etc, which all help the terrain look a bit more lived in. 

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Chain of Command: Battle of the Bulge

We ventured into the Ardennes Forest for the first time down at Earlswood Wargamers, trying out my freshly refitted Fallschirmjager against Keith's Yankee riflemen. 
We used Chain of Command (CoC) for the first time, and it was a very interesting experiment. We both did a few things wrong (I have subsequent discovered by rereading the rules) but it was good fun for the both of us. The rules are nothing like Bolt Action  (BA) and are far more tactical and probably a lot more realistic (or simulatorary). The flow of the game is a bit  more random, or at least less predicable than BA to, and that is probably a matter of taste. In CoC you usually start with your whole force in reserve, and by the end of the game you might not have even deployed everything you have, and sometime you might not get to do anything with all of the things you do have already on the board, depending how you roll. That might seem a bit frustrating but I think it is a neat way of simulating the natural 'Fog of War' over the battlefield. It forces the commander (player) to think more tactically about the battle, and to view the terrain more like a platoon commander and less like an omnipotent flying eye. Bolt Action, on the other hand, if probably 'fairer' than CoC, and better suited to a competitive game, as there is less randomness to the turns- you know everything is going to get to act eventually even if you don't know what order it will be. It is also less challenging for the player as there is less to think about, and so could be considered more 'fun'. I guess that it all comes down to taste. 

Our game featured a platoon of fallschirmjager contacting a US rifle platoon in the ruins of a small hamlet in the middle of the Ardennes forest during the winter of 1944. A paved lane ran through the village from north to south. A stone wall ran almost the entire length of the west side of this lane. The ruins of a farm occupied the higher ground to the east of the lane.  The Germans were moving in from the east and the US were trying to push in from the west. 

 During the patrol phase the Yanks managed to explore the territory up to the stone wall, while the Fallschirmjager seized the higher ground to the east. Apart from the hill, the terrain to the east was rather open,consisting of snow covered fields, and did not afford much cover to the Germans.  That meant that my jump off points were clustered behind the hill, or on the board edge in an area deprived of useful cover, while Keith's were along the wall, giving him a good firing position from the start of the game. 

Fallschirmjager moving cautious through a snow covered field

Fallschirmjager digging into the ruins on the hill

The Germans began by deploying a section into the ruined house on the hill, and bringing another section on from the board edge to make their way cautiously up the open flank to another ruin at the bottom of the hill. They were moving slowly, making the most of what little cove the undulations in the field could offer. The section in the ruined farm house on the hill set up their MG 42 and went into overwatch, scanning the gloom for any sign of the 'Amis'. 

The US MMG adds serious firepower

American GI's setting up behind the cover of the stone wall

When the Americans appeared the were greeted by the buzz of the MG42 and a clatter of bullets, forcing them to take shelter behind reassuringly solid stone wall. Two sections of riflemen took up positions to the west of the lane, along with a 60mm mortar and a Tripod mounted MMG.  They opened fire on the Fallshirjager crossing the open field, forcing them to dive for cover but failing to inflict any casualties.

The US riffle section sprinting across the field is cut down in a hail of MG 42 Fire. Four out of eleven men survive the crossing. 

Initially the Americans had the upper hand, and could concentrate their fire on the Germans as they tried to advance into the ruined farms along the lane, but as the Germans reached their solid cover and dug into the rubble of the farms the tide of the battle started to swing. The Americans started to dread the mechanical buzz of the MG42, as the Germans superior fire-power began to dominate the battle. One Fallschirmjager team was wiped out by the sustained fire from the Americans, but it was immediately replaced by fresh reserves held back behind the hill, and soon their machine guns were adding to the fire pouring onto the American positions. The American officer rashly sent one section sprinting across a field, but they failed to make it to the safety of a farmhouse on the opposite side. Caught in the open they were sitting ducks for the German MG42's, which cut the section to ribbons. Seven GI's were killed outright in one terrible storm of bullets. The remaining 4 GI's staggered to the ruined farmhouse, but the fight had been knocked out of them by the carnage and played no further part in the battle, leaving the America flank vulnerable. 

Fallschirmjager reserves move up to plug the gaps left by their casualties. 

The American MMG team was then wiped out  after receiving the fire of four MG42's for two rounds. The loss of a section and their MMG left the American on the back foot when it came to fire-power, but they still held a a strong position behind the stone wall, and the Fallschirmjager now had been whittled down so much that they lacked the will to push forward and to take advantage of the situation. The US mortar continued to rain down on the German positions. At the end of the day both forces withdrew, battered and exhausted. Tomorrow they will have to do it all again. 

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Zomtober 2015: Week 1

Lets kick of Zomtober with three Zombie VIP's from Zombiecide, painted for my good buddy Carl. I hope everyone is having a great Zomtober. 

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Frostgrave: Thieves in the Temple

Two more Frostgrave Adventurers- these ones more shady than heroic. The fist thief is made form the Frostgrave Solders kit and the second one is a conversion based on a GW militiaman, with a few minor alterations and some Green Stuff. 

Monday, 28 September 2015

Zomtober 2015

September draws to a close, and the nights get longer, which can mean only one thing...Zomtober is here again. The annual zombie-painting-fest is about to begin. Wargamers and painters all around the world will be painting their zombies and survivors, photographing them and posting them on their blogs. The rules are simple; paint at least one zombie or survivor a week throughout October Zomtober, then blog about it.Pulp Citizen and Brummie Simon will be keeping tabs on which bloggers are participating (there are 13 of us so far, but anybody is welcome to join in)

This year I will be painting zombies from the Zombiecide game for my mate Carl. He has given me a pile to get through, including a lot of very lovely minis from the VIP range. I am hoping to get all of them done by the end of Zomtober but there are an awful lot of Zeds. 

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Frostgrave: The Sneaky and the Brave

Two more Frostgrave adventurers here. A sneaky back-stabbing thief. Thieves have always been my favourite characters in D&D. This one's head and body are from the Frostgrave Soldiers box set and the arms are from the GW milita box set. The sword has been cut down into a knife, perfect for stealthy kills or for slitting purses. 

A leather armour-clad man at arms made form a GW Empire Militiaman and a shield from a Conquest Miniatures Norman. 

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Frostgrave: Men at Arms

Two more Frostgrave soldiers clash while exploring the frozen ruins. The one on the left is from the Frostgrave Soldiers box. The other is a kit-bash from a Games Workshop Empire militia figure with shield and head from a Conquest Miniatures Norman knight. Other details were added with Green Stuff. 

Monday, 21 September 2015

Frostgrave: Two Thugs and a Dog

Here is the start of my Adventurers for Frostgrave. The lowest in the pecking order- two thugs with their faithful dog. Apologies for the poor picture on the second thug but the light wasn't great. The thugs are from the plastic Frostgrave Soldiers kit and the dog is an old Mordhiem hound from Games Workshop. 

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Frostgrave: Beasties

I am very aware that I haven't been posting much in September. I have been painting a lot but I never got round to photographing it until now, due to real world intrusions. To make up for it you can expect a blizzard of Frostgrave figures I have been producing recently, along with a load of snow-topped scenery. 

First up some old school 'Wandering Monsters' found near the very bottom of my Lead mountain, where they have been languishing for many many years, before the icy glow of Frostgrave revealed them once more. 

An "Armoured Skeleton". 

  Slight tougher and meaner than a regular skelly. This is a very old Games Workshop Model (I think)

A Frostgrave Werewolf

  Werewolves in Frostgrave are not men who turn into beasts but are instead a magically created being with the qualities of both man and beast. This miniature is by Copplestone Castings. 

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Trip to Royal Armouries at Fort Nelson

During the Summer Holidays I dragged my family around the Royal Armouries at Fort Nelson, near Portsmouth. Having previously been to the Royal Armouries in Leads and at the Tower of London, this museum was the final one left to visit. Fort Nelson holds the Big Guns of the Royal Armoury, including Saddam Hussain's super gun, and a brace of German '88's'. One of the highlights of the trip for me was discovering a Smith Gun tucked away in a corner. The Smith Gun was one of teh more exotic weaposn developed in World War Two as an Light Anti-Tank Gun. The gun was mounted on two drum like wheels and flipped onto its side to be deployed. In theory it could lob an AT shell about 500 yards. It was developed in 1941, after most of the British Army's AT guns had been left in France after the evacuation at Dunkirk. It never really lived up to the hype and was rejected by the British Army, however it was issued to the Home Guard in small numbers. 
I would love to get one of these in 28mm scale for my Home Guard 1941 army. There was a company called Stronghold Miniatures who used to make this and a number of other HG weaponry but they are no longer in business and no one makes them any more. I think it is a great shame, although I understand it is something of a niche market. If I was better at scratch building I would be tempted to give it a go but I am afraid it is a bid out of my depth. If anybody has a spare one kicking around though I would love to get my hands on one. 

Other exotic cannon that caught my eye had an all together more artistic fantasy flavour. These are all genuine cannons, although they may have been made more for looking at that for warfare. This one is a mortar in the shape of a sitting tiger made for the tiger obsessed Tipu Sultan in India.

I can't remember where this cannon was from. I think it was somewhere in Germany. It looks like it was made by Games Workshop!

 This beautiful Dragon Cannon was made in China. I can't imagine it was vary easy to load in a hurry, but I guess its a case of style over substance.