08 August 2017

The Country Found Them Ready*

MORE silence, for which I apologise. I've always found that my hobby output diminishes in the summer months, even more so since I took over an allotment last autumn! As such, I've spent much of the last few months weeding, harvesting and pickling, leaving little time for other pursuits. However it's not all been about vegetables and whilst celebrating the Eucharist at church two Sundays back it was pointed out that our lay reader's father had fought at Passchendaele (of which that weekened marked the centenary of the start of the three-month battle), which naturally set me to thinking about the First World War; as I'm sure so many of us have over the last few years. Returning home I unearthed some of the early war BEF I had bought from those wonderful bods over at Kallistra back in late 2014 with a view to researching, painting and gaming the first four months of the conflict in the West. As usual this plan quickly fell by the wayside, but not before I had read the late and lamented Richard Holmes' excellent 'Riding the Retreat' and got a handful of miniatures painted. With the hundredth anniversary of the Armistice not too far distant I have decided to revive the project and attempt to get some games played in the interim. 

One of the factors that put me off in the first place was the lack of rules for the early part of the war and I knew that this was something I would have to remedy if I were to succeed in my second attempt. After some deep internet trawling I decided I would use 'If the Lord Spares Us', published by TooFatLardies back in 2005. These are actually written specifically for the Middle East theatre, but it was pointed out that they work just as well for the 'war of movement' in the West before the Race to the Sea saw the onset of trench warfare. As a friendly member of the 'TooFatLardies Wargames Rules' Yahoo! Group pointed out, 'basically we've agreed how to treat the various terrain types and agreed appropriate troop ratings and played as written.' I would add to that that some specific National Characteristic Cards need to be created too, but as is suggested very little overall changes need to be made. The rules are at brigade-level, with, for the Brits at least, eighteen bases representing a battalion (sixteen infantry, one MG and one HQ - each infantry base representing a platoon). Suggested basing is two miniature to a base, which appeals to me as being manageable in terms of painting etcetera. 

So I have accordingly re-based those painted miniatures I had abandoned almost three years ago and started in on the leftover pile of unpainted Tommies. Furthermore I have ordered a pack each of 'British Early War Cavalry with Lance' and 'British Early War Command' from Kallistra and several more books: 'Death of an Army' by Sir Anthony Farrar-Hockley** and 'Mons: the Retreat to Victory' by John Terraine. Oh, and I've redone my terrain boards to reflect the fields of Flanders (seeing as that's where all my projects are currently set!). 

I leave you with a picture of an almost complete BEF infantry battalion (minus one company and a HQ stand) and some close-ups:


*From the 1914 song 'Keep the Home Fires Burning'.
**Many years ago I actually met Sir Anthony Farrar-Hockley's sister-in-law through a job I had, where she recommended I read 'The Edge of the Sword', in which the General recounts his experiences as a front-line officer and then POW during the Korean War.

10 July 2017

Forward Command Battle Report

IN my first few posts I mentioned a set of rules I'd been developing called Forward Command ('ForC' for short!), which aim at capturing company-level actions during WWII. Last week I made a rough draft of these available through the Pendraken Miniaures Forum along with some equally raw army lists. These have met with considerable interest, with Ronan of 2 Dés à 6 faces blog being not only kind enough to play a little solo game, but also to publish the results. Merci Ronan! Also Jack of BlackHawkHet infamy has expressed interest in the system and hopes to get some games played in the future. I'm very curious to see which twentieth century conflict he fits them to! Given all this (and also because Jack told me to) I decided that I should write up a batrep myself as a way of introducing people to the system. For those of you who didn't read read my prior posts on this topic, here is a recap of the design criteria with which I approached ForC:

(1) It should be company-level, with one infantry base representing a section, and support weapon/AFV bases at 1:1.
(2) It should be built around each side generating a random amount of commands per turn.
(3) It should amalgamate most weapons into broad groups or "types".
(4) It should treat infantry and armour similarly.
(5) It should merge damage and morale and make them cumulative like "wounds".
(6) All this should fit comfortably onto no more than four A4 sheets.

Happily all of these criteria have been met, which the exception that it has crept onto five pages (barring army lists, of course), but I'm sure this could be solved in the final version by some layout wizardy. I have even gone so far as to mock-up a cover:


Rather spiffy, eh? However, the rules still need some tweaking and so I am offering them to any interested parties who wish to give them a whirl with the proviso that they come back to me with any questions and suggestions. For instance, I am still not convinced by the Orders system and would be interested to hear your opinion on this mechanic and how it might possibly be improved. I shall put links to the rules and the army lists (all 1940 Europe, I'm afraid!) in a gadget to the left of this article. I think that's probably enough of my waffle for the moment: on with the batrep!

04 July 2017

German Reinforcements

AFTER a few months of inexcusable hobby inactivity I have at last got the bit between my teeth and got the majority of the German infantry and support weapons completed. This just leaves three platoon and one company HQs and a few more AFVs to paint up before I am finished. Actually, the situation is precisely the same with my BEF force too! I need to grab a few more packs of infantry before I am able to achieve this, however. Once these forces are completed - or nearly complete! - I will start on the French, who I have been greedily eyeing on both the Pendraken and Pithead shops. I like that the Pendraken range has enough junior officer types (well, two...) to create some variety in my HQ stands, something I have found extremely difficult to achieve with their early war Jerries and Brits. In fact I have recently ordered some BEF Infantry from Pithead in order to make the British HQs more interesting.

With regards to the French, I will again be looking to create an infantry company, plus assorted support weapons and armour, with especial attention being paid to the latter as I am looking to recreate some the actions of the three-day Battle of Hannut, the first major tank battle of the conflict, with over a thousand AFVs involved! One aspect about this new venture I am decidedly not looking forward to is painting French AFVs! All I can say is that thank God the Germans did not continue to use Buntfarbenanstrich on their own vehicles, otherwise I'm quite sure I wouldn't have got them painted nearly so speedily. As usual, thank you for looking and feel free to comment. 

15 cm sIG 33 (Sf) auf Panzerkampfwagen I Ausf B (Pithead Miniatures)
The beast can be seen in action in a propaganda video below.


Pendraken German MG42 Teams posing as MG34s
Pendraken 3.7 cm Pak 36s
Platoon 1 (Pendraken)
Platoon 2 (Pendraken)
Platoon 3 (Pendraken)