Monday, 25 November 2019

Gentlemen do ungentlemanly things in the jungle

Last weekend, some unspeakable things happened on several islands in the Pacific. All but one of the perpetrators are pictured below. Kieron P. escaped having his photo taken, though he can be seen ducking out of shot in one of the scene of crime pictures. 


HAVE YOU SEEN THESE MEN?
THE PACIFIC'S MOST WANTED:
Left to right: James R.; Andy N.; Peter N.; Charles S.G.; Dale S.;

Graham P.; Chris H.; Peter Mc.; Steve R.; Kevin C.
Last Saturday several of the League of Gentlemen Wargamers gathered in sleepy Kirriemuir for one of our (three times a year) weekend war game bashes. The theme for this particular gathering was a new one - The War in the Pacific. 

Several players brought stuff along for the game (even I brought along 30 newly painted, still drying Japanese troops). But, the bulk of the troops, and at least half of the terrain, was brought along by Peter N. who has spent the last two years preparing the scenarios, troops and terrain for this particular weekend's fun and frolics; including, the commissioning of a marvellous one off island terrain mat which has to be seen to be believed: Well done, Peter! Your efforts were much appreciated by all.

Players were designated Japanese, American or Australian for the weekend - which side we were on is evident from the mug shot above. Yep, the Japanese are all wearing glasses, and the Australian is furthest away. 

Saturday encompassed the playing of several theatre specific scenarios, all loosely based around historical actions. 

I can't comment on their historical authenticity because my knowledge of this part of World War 2 is mostly based on distant memories of The World at War documentaries and the more recent TV series The Pacific. However, all the games were great fun and Peter really knows his stuff. 

All but one of the games were played using Warlord's Bolt Action rules. The odd one out was a tank Vs tank game using the TWOFATLardie's What a Tanker! 

I like Bolt action and they work very well for this kind of game. I'm not sure about their value for non-infantry battles, or games using small figures but, for platoon level infantry games using 28s, they are a great set of rules.

There were six scenarios in all.

They were played in rotation; between teams of one or two players a side; players swapped opponents for each game; players mostly managed five games in the day's play. 

I can't remember the names of the games and I didn't manage to play one of them.

This one, involved the Japanese trying to get captured American Airmen (who had bombed Japan?) off of an island before they could be rescued by U.S. Marines. In this game, the Americans were awarded points for rescue and lost points for casualties. The Japanese got points for either getting the prisoners away to the harbour or executing them (historically several were murdered), and for G.I.s killed. 

This was the last game I played on Saturday and I was now fully aware of the value of the Japanese being able to charge regardless of pins. Banzai!

Obviously, getting fully into character, my plan was to wipe out the Marines so I could walk my captives to the harbour and away; as insurance, I began executing airmen (one per turn) for points from turn one. My plan nearly succeeded. Time called a halt with only 4 G.I.s left, and not too many more captured airmen. Two more turns would have seen a total Japanese victory - sometimes night comes too soon. It was the only game I lost and scored points on - which is not to say I only lost this game!

Note Kieron, escaping the camera in double-quick time.


This scenario involved the taking of two small islands, one with a radar station. 

The game had a particularly interesting scenario format. The forces were not fixed. The Japanese would score more points for achieving victory with less troops than were available. 

The force, once chosen, could not be altered and I took the absolute minimum to achieve maximum points and paid the price. 

My Japanese paratroops took one island, and brought up an empty landing craft to convey them to the other. However, they were too few in number to beat off the Australians who arrived by boat to retake it. Boy, those Australians are 'Tough' under Bolt Action rules.


I lost this scenario and I scored, in my best Japanese voice, 'Zero!' points.


This game was a simple ambush scenario, photographed here before Steve's road was added on Saturday morning. It zig-zagged through the jungle.

With lunge mines and a couple of banzai charges, the American Stuart tanks, M3 halftracks or the troops they were carrying, didn't make it around the first bend.

This was a particularly hard battle for the Americans, I thought, and I scored heavily.
This is the scenario I didn't play. 

I'm afraid I haven't much of a clue what it was all about.
This was a What A Tanker game. I will not say scenario.

Generally, I think it involved two Japanese tanks versus a Sherman. 

I had not played What a Tanker before. The rules have an interesting game mechanic and, for a game, I suppose they work well enough. My gripe with the rules is that they are for playing a game and, IMHO, bear no resemblance to tank warfare. 

Fun enough but, I will not be buying these rules.

Game lost - zero points.


I think this game was an Iwo Jima scenario and it was the first game I fought. 

My objectives could be met by holding my bunkers and killing G.I.s. 

My secret weapon was the ability to use an underground network of tunnels to bring out reinforcements, which I managed to do quite successfully.

The luck was with me all the way on this scenario. I rolled well; every time the Americans issued a 'Run' order they hit a booby-trap for D3 casualties; I held both M.M.G bunkers. 

I scored so heavily in this game - (from memory) 57 points, and everyone else scored so very many less in their first games, that umpire Peter N. deducted 17 points for being "cocky". Banzai, Ha!

Points for achieving objectives were added up at the end of each scenario played and the top twoo scoring players on each side were promoted. I came in second for the Japanese and promotion in the service of my Emperor was achieved.



Sunday's Big Game - and I'm not using capitals for nothing - as photographed after it was set up on Friday evening. Just look at this beauty! Fought on an island 24' x 6'; I don't think I've ever seen as much jungle. Just look at that game mat!



I was so impressed, the next day, I brought my iPad to take a short videos of it all. I apologise in advance for their wobbly nature - this was all a video-tech first for me and somewhere along the way I lost a similar video of the other side of the table. If it ever turns up I'll edit it into this post.


The scenario was simple enough. A combined American and Australian force was tasked with seizing a Japanese held Island.

All Hell broke loose on the beaches and in the jungle beyond. The Japanese were holding well as the game drew to a close and were declared the day's victors. In the long run though, I feel the Allies, with unlimited resources would have prevailed - I certainly had very few troops left a the end of that grizzly day.
It was a fantastic game. A very enjoyable day's play all round. 

The weekend, largely due to the efforts of Peter N., was another stunning success as a gaming weekend and, as usual for The League, played in the best spirit.

Thanks to all, and a special mention to Steve R. who put me up for the weekend and wined and dined me on the Friday night before the games began. Thanks, Steve.

So, there you have it. I'll just add some photos of the game in progress - for the record.



























FOR SALE NOTICE: The 30 Japanese I took to this game are currently listed on ebay at this: Link.

Friday, 15 November 2019

The Battle of San Winnoc

This weeks battle will be played using terrain only slightly changed from the last battle we fought. Immediately noticeable is the removal of the river, the addition of two streams that spring from the bottom of  hills, and the addition of a new hill (Pastoso Colina). 

Because I'm using the battle to christen my new windmill the terrain has a bread theme.


After the last battle I think it was agreed that there was rather too much terrain that gave cover. Consequently, I'm changing the definitions of the terrain:

  • Horno Colina (Oven Hill) and the western end of Molina Colina (Mill Hill) are class II terrain. From the top of the first contour they are lightly wooded (block LOS) and provide soft cover. 
  • Pastoso Colina (Doughy Hill) and Cresta de Pan (Bread Ridge) are class II terrain.
  • Arroyo Panadera (Baker Stream) and Arroyo Paleta (Oven-paddle Stream) are class II terrain to infantry and cavalry. Both streams are steeply banked 'gullies'; they are impassable (except at the 'fords') to artillery; they give a terrain advantage to troops defending a bank in melee; troops in the streams cannot see or be seen, except from higher ground or a bank.
  • All built up areas are composed of standard town sections: Honore and Winnoc are the patron saints of bakers and millers; Panderia (bakery); Levadura (yeast).
  • Orchards (light woods) are class II terrain, block LOS and provide soft cover.
  • All other fields have no effect (scenic only).
I have reduced the sum of the table's objective points by about a third.

We will use the same deployment set up as last time - each side initially choosing (in secret) four of his six baseline deployment zones, either as one contiguous group or two groups (3:1 or 2:2) with a gap between.




I will use both armies exactly as they were diced up for in the last battle, including for the officers. Each side will use the sequence deck as it was diced up for the last time. 

New ACAD cards will be dealt before play.

Players will swap sides: So Peter will be French and Graham will be Anglo-Portuguese.

French:

  • C-in-C: Blue. 
  • Sequence Deck: skilled.
  • Division 1: Leader blue. Two infantry green / green; two infantry red / green; one infantry red / red; one artillery red / green.
  • Division 2: Leader green. One infantry green / blue; two infantry green / green; two infantry red / green; one artillery green / green.
  • Division 3: Leader blue. One infantry green / green; two infantry red / green; one infantry red / red; one artillery red / green; one cavalry red / green.
  • Division 4: Leader blue. One cavalry green / blue; one cavalry green / green.

Anglo-Portuguese:

  • C-in-C: Blue.
  • Sequence Deck average.
  • Division 1: Leader blue. One infantry blue / blue; one infantry green / blue; one infantry green / green; two infantry red / green; one artillery green / blue.
  • Division 2: Leader blue. One infantry green / green; three infantry red / green; one artillery red / green.
  • Division 3: Leader blue. One infantry green / green; three infantry red / green; one artillery red / green.
  • Divison 4: Leader green. One cavalry green / purple; two cavalry green / blue.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Tilting at windmills

You only have to google Spanish windmills to find numerous images of the Windmills of La Mancha - the same windmills that Don Quixote mistook for giants. It was from these that I took the inspiration for my model. 

The main difference between my model and the windmills of La Mancha is the roof  covering. From photographs, the ones at La Mancha look like they are covered with lead sheeting and they look quite 'modern'. I did find one tor two pictures of windmills with wooden roofs, with vertically set, long trapezium shaped planking (to be honest, this looked too hard to make) but, I also found one image of a La Mancha style windmill roofed with simple, horizontally set, wooden planks (possibly a roof before the addition of lead sheet?). This latter planking could be reproduced with a paint job: The basic design was set, though plenty of artistic licence would be used.



So, on to the build.

The basic shape is very simple. I used a poster tube for the cylindrical body of the windmill; I also cut a 10 mm ring from the poster tube to make a skirt for the roof, split it, and stuck this around the top of the tube, adding a small section to fill the 'circumference' gap. 

I made a simple cone out of an old Birthday card, with a lower circumference about 5 mm wider than the tube and stuck it on the top. After it was dry, I trimmed off the excess.

Then I added the 'spindle for the windmill sails. This was made with a round pencil, drilled for the sail arms.
 I then made a hole through the front of the thin card roof and pushed the pencil through it until it touched the 'back'. This assembly needed to be firmly secured and strengthened from the inside. I did this with a PVA glue and kitchen roll 'paper mache': Layer of glue, paper, glue, paper, glue, etc.
Then I went to work on the outside of the roof and spindle canopy. 

You can see from this image that I have added a thin card covering to the skirt (brown). I did this to smooth the connection between the skirt and the cone. The thin card was cut slightly wider than the skirt. I trimmed it from the cone angle, painted the join with PVA then, using the round shaft of a small screwdriver to run around the join, smoothed the two (skirt and cone) together into an invisible join.

Then I added some thin balsa wood (it cuts better than card) planks to section the cone. 

I also constructed the spindle 'cover' out of thick card with thin card planking.
 Next I added the tiller (cane barbecue skewer), the doors and the windows. These are War Bases, windows, square doors and shutters. The windows and shutters were cut smaller, lower window sills being added with balsa wood. Note I back painted behind the windows to save time later.

I also added a paper mache cover over the top of thetiller where it comes through the top of the roof cone. (I've seen an image of this kind of thing, another Spanish windmill).


 Images showed the walls of these towers are quite thick, thicker than my tube, and I wanted to show this somehow. Unusually, for me, I cut a gap for the door into the tube and added thin card 'flanges' and a doorstep to artificially thicken the wall at the opening.

 Next up I added the brickwork (I did this first) then the 'plaster' rendering. I did not use plaster!

I used a thin coat of artist's acrylic paint (from a tube). I find yellow ochre is a good choice of basic colour. I scored the brickwork, let it dry, ink wahed it then added the other rendering.
Next I painted the brickwork. I later lightened it further.

Whilst all this was going on I started making the sails. I cut a template out of card, placed it under a a piece of thin clear plastic (the back of a blister pack), and using PVA glue to glue down the balsa planks, glued the bits together over the template - so that all the sails are almost identical and 'square'.
Whilst the sails were drying I undercoated the roof and tower with household emulsion paints....
 .......and the sails.
 I ink washed the tower with ink diluted with water, 1:3 (I use artists acrylic ink, this colour is burnt sienna)
Then I started dry brushing with household emulsion....
...until it was light enough.
I painted the woodwork with enamel paint - because I had more choice of colours. It allowed me to paint on the planks rather than model them individually.

The offset arms for the sail assembly can also be seen in this shot. Sail arms are barbecue skewers.

I've also added a trestle for the tiller arm (that I've seen in some pictures). 
Ground work was added with more artists acrylic.

A boundary fence, made using barbecue skewers drilled into the base, and cut up lolly-pop planking was added. I used lolly-pop sticks rather than balsa wood purely for durability. The fencing received two layers of quality PVA undercoat to bind it all together and add extra strength.
 Fencing painted, sand grit and stones added for an arid look, and finally finished with a bit of flock.
 Lastly, I remembered to add the lolly-pop stick gate I'd left drying on top of a shelf.
 The back.
The front.

Job done, and I hope you found the construction notes helpful.