York, Vapnartak 2018

Last weekend saw myself, Des, Martin, Ian and Paul all travel up to York for the Vapnartak show as we were putting on a ‘Sands of Sudan’ participation game. Martin and I were travelling up in Martin’s car during the day on Friday carrying most of the kit for the game and on the way we stopped off at Caliver Books. I’ve never been before and what an experience it is, I was glad Daren wasn’t with us as his Health and Safety trained brain would’ve flipped out! Anyway in amongst the chaos I spotted ‘First Clash’ by Kenneth Macksey and duly picked it up as I lost my copy sometime in the 90’s and have wanted a new one for ages now – I can see some WW3 style Canadians getting bought very soon so we can fight through the actions described. Then I found something that must have been put there by the pixies as I never knew it existed and I must be one of only a few people who’d be interested in it (there were 2 copies on the shelves) – ‘Das deutsche Bundesheer’ a reprint (in German) of a book about the German Federal Army in the 1830’s containing everything you need to know and 421 beautiful colour plates covering everything from the Lichtenstein infantry to Austrian Lombard Gendarmes, and for only £20! I did haver about buying it at first but Martin persuaded me to get it, as he said I’d only regret it later if I didn’t buy it, and I’m so glad I did as it’s possibly the best book I’ve ever bought.

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We all made it to York without any mishaps and spent a pleasant evening supping a few beers and after a decent curry we all tried to get some rest. Saturday saw us all going our separate ways to spend some time mooching about York before we headed over to York Racecourse in the afternoon to set the game up for Sunday. Des and I decided to visit the York Army Museum, and we were both mighty glad we did too. For the paltry sum of just £5 (a ticket that you can use anytime in the next year by the way), we spent a couple of hours walking round this small but excellent museum dedicated to the Yorkshire Regiment and the Royal Dragoon Guards (and all of their predecessors). I’ll let the pics tell the story here, I really can’t recommend it enough, if you have a spare hour or so please support it by dropping by, you won’t be disappointed. (click on pics to view larger versions)

After a, thankfully, drama free set-up of the game we once again popped out to the excellent ‘Pheonix’ pub that is also well worth a visit – a cracking little establishment with good beers, a lovely atmosphere and even a bar billiards table, if I lived near it I’d be down there all the time! – and then on to an Italian before heading back to the hotel early as we were all a bit knackered and a long day loomed ahead. Sunday saw us up and at ’em early and after a lovely big brekkie we set off for the show.

L to R: Paul, Des, me, Ian and Martin.

We got there without any fuss and promptly got everything ready once we made some last minute purchases and awaited opening time and our first game (sorry for the lack of in-action pics but we were just too busy). Thankfully it didn’t take long for us to fill the spaces and pretty soon the game was well underway with all involved seemingly having a whale of a time trying to carry out their varying missions whilst being interrupted by dastardly Mahdist types. The first game lasted from about 10.30 to 13.00 and saw the British column thwarted by constant pressure from the Mahdists, suffering heavy casualties in the infantry and having the cavalry completely wiped out. The Egyptian force sent out from the camp to assist the British came completely unstuck as well and died to a man whilst the Royal Navy guarding the ladies in the camp came very close to being overwhelmed by waves of angry locals but just managed to hold out so we declared a win for the Mahdi this time.

During the break we all darted off round the show to have a quick look and make purchases, which only amounted to a pack of lovely 15mm Imitation Legionnaires from Empires at War to start off my Pontic army for the clubs Sword and Spear ‘League’, I’ll be buying some more from them very soon. Pretty soon we had donned our hats again and the afternoon game got underway, again the chaps involved had a good time all round with the Imperial troops doing tons better this time, by the end of play the Egyptians and Brits had very nearly met up and had crushed all attempts to stop them so a resounding victory was declared. I didn’t get much time to check out the show really and so won’t comment as I don’t think my rushed spins round gave me a good idea of it but it was nicely busy and even the weirdness with the emergency drill false alarms didn’t spoil it for us.

So, thanks all round to Martin, Des, Ian and Paul for a great weekend, completely knackering but well worth it. A truly fantastic game was played, great fun was had, brilliant conversation and company was enjoyed, a cracking museum was visited and I got to wear a Pith helmet! Happy days indeed – here’s hoping the next one is as good.

 

Off to York at the weekend….

I have been invited along with Des and Ian to help Martin put on his truly fantastic Sudan game at the Vapnartak show on Sunday. There have already been some pics of it on here before, and it will be featured in the February edition of Miniature Wargames.

It is a large participation game in full colour 28mm-o-rama so if anyone is around and fancies joining in we will be on the bottom floor over in the corner – there will be big SLW banners and we will be sporting Fez’s or Pith helmets so we should easy to spot. The rules are easy to grasp and a right blast and you will be asked to carry out jolly wheezes such as escorting gentlemen of the press or rescuing some ladies whilst dodging the attentions of Mahdist types and dirty post card sellers.

Anyway, to whet your appetites here’s some pics from recent practice games, (click on them to see bigger versions)

Berlin Birthday!

OK, again sorry for the lack of posts over the past month but things have been very rough financially over the past few weeks and I just haven’t had the money spare to upgrade the blog so I could carry on posting. I could have just done some articles without pictures but too much of that can get a bit boring and, to be honest, I really haven’t felt like it as I’ve been too worried about other stuff that has been going on. Hopefully that has all been dealt with now so onwards and upwards and I’ll be able to get cracking on this again.

At the beginning of the month me and the missus managed to get away to Berlin for a couple of days to attend a friends 50th birthday bash (it was also my birthday at the same time so going was a no brainer really). We were staying with some friends in the  Schoneberg district of town an area that has some great street names if you are a Napoleonic buff – our mates live on Bulowstrasse right next to Dennewitzplatz, indeed all of the streets in the neighbourhood are named after Prussian generals

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Some bloke called Fred on a horse! Unter der Linden.

We went to visit the DDR museum on the first day and it’s well worth a visit if you get a chance, the way that they use what little space they have and the exhibits on display are great and there’s a few bits of militaria from the time that would be of interest. They even have a recreation of a typical DDR flat which I must say made me a tad jealous as the kids room had far more room than the poky one me and my brother had to share in our place on the estate we lived on as kids, not to mention the cool design of the furniture!

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DDR toys, no decadent Western kit though.
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DDR Camo blouse.

After the museum we were due to go to see a light installation art piece in a chapel in a cemetery and as we were walking to it through the cemetery we rounded a corner where there was a gap between a wall and a building and we came upon a crypt which had a commanding view of the obvious entry point to the rest of the cemetery. As you can see by the photo’s it looks as if a fierce fight ensued to evict whoever was defending this. It was actually quite a sobering sight as it showed just how savagely desperate and ultimately futile the fighting at the end was. I was sort of glad that it had not been ‘fixed’ though as such things are great reminders of what happened and are just as much part of the city’s history as the ‘grander’ monuments (the Neues Museum has also kept its ‘battle-scars’ for this very reason).

The next day saw me head off to the Deutsches Historisches Museum on my own as my Birthday treat to myself as Luce was away looking at a couple of galleries. Now I’ve been here before and was keen to come again as I think it is a cracking place to visit – actually every museum that I’ve been to in Germany has been a good one – and as I had time to look round properly I was looking forward to it. And enjoy it I did, the only small gripe I had was with the bloke doing the tour in English. I happened to be near them when I was in the Napoleonic part of the museum and some of the information he was giving out was totally rubbish. There was no mention of the German States fighting on the French side or that Britain, the Austrians and the Russians helped defeat Napoleon and when he said that Leipzig was the last battle of the wars I couldn’t help myself and said ‘oh no it wasn’t’! Still apart from that there’s a wealth of fantastic exhibits on show ranging from Napoleons hat and sword swiped by the Prussians on the field of Waterloo to an 88 in the WW2 section (although I ballsed up my photo’s from the later part of the museum, still getting used to my new phone!). Highly recommended.

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Worth 50,000 men apparently.

While on the subject of hats, I just had to take these. A whole cabinet dedicated to possibly the daftest piece of military millinery ever made, ladies and gentlemen, I give you: Picklehaubes!

 

 

 

Still Here (again!)….

Apologies for the lack of posts over the past couple of months, I’ve not been well recently. I’ve also run out of space for posting pics and am waiting to upgrade in the New Year so that I can get more posted and once I do I will resume posting again.

First posts in the New Year should be good though as there will be a report from Des’ new Shed O’ War (first game on 29th December) and I’m off to Berlin for my birthday on the 4th of January and have a visit to the Deutsches Museum planned so I can give my new phone’s camera a good work out.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone!

Club Night 25/09/17: FFT3, Austrians vs Soviets.

I really need to get back into the swing of posting, been thinking of a bit of a change to a couple of things and will get started once I’m caught up with these Club Night posts. Anyway as I had just finished off painting my new T-64 Regiment and it had been a while since the Austrians had a run out I decided to get them both on the table. Comrade Noakesavitch would be leading the mighty Red Army as usual and I would be taking over Kampfgruppe Grüber to try and stop their advance. Dan’s orders were to take the road junction at the end of the table to enable the advance on Vienna to continue.

Before we started Dan and I had a quick conversation about recce and how we both don’t like the usual ‘recce by death’ that usually happens so we cobbled together something on the fly. As my forces recce element was a couple platoons of Jeeps with MG’s I said that they would have fallen back before the heavier Soviet recce element and hence Dan could place his platoons anywhere up to the line of terrain features (hills/fields) in front of the stream (the dark green line) that bisected the table. This was near enough to my forward positions without initiating close combat but close enough to maybe ‘spot’ something or get a sound contact. Dan then rolled against his QC rating to see if he spotted anything, he didn’t definitely spot anything but he was aware of a couple of my positions – we will be working on this for future games.

Dan’s Tank Regt comprised the following, rated as Conscript (-1 to hit and Quality of 4):

  • Regimental Base
    • 1 HQ stand
    • 1 ACRV FOO
    • 1 ZSU-23-4
    • 1 SA-13 Gopher
    • 2 recon BRDM-2
  • 3 Tank Btlns
    • 6 T-62
  • BMP Btln
    • 1 Cmnd BMP-2
    • 2 SP Vasliek 82mm Mortars
    • 1 AGS-17 30mm AGL (BMP-1)
    • 1 AT-7 Saxhorn atgm team (BMP-1)
    • 9 Inf (BMP-2)
  • (Off table) Regt Art Btln – 3 x sp 122mm
  • (Off table) 2 Div Art Btlns – 3 x sp 152mm
  • (Off table) 3 MRLS units
  • Mi-24 Helicopters
  • SU-25

The valiant Austrian ‘Kampfgruppe Grüber’ consisted of the following, rated as ‘Regular’  (Quality 4):

  • Kmpfgp base
    • 1 HQ Stand
    • 2 recon Jeeps/MG
    • 1 M42 Duster
    • 1 Gr81 sp81mm Mortar
  • Jagdpanzer Coy
    • 3 Sk-105 Kurassier
  • 2 x Panzer Coys
    • 3 M60a3
  • 2 x Panzer-Grenadier Coys
    • 3 PzGren (4k4f mg)
    • 1 PzGren/Bill atgm (4k4f 20mm)
  • (Off table) Bgde Art Btln – 3 x sp155mm
  • (Off table) Corp Art Btln – 3 x towed 105mm
  • (Off table) 1 MRLS unit
  • Draken

I could also call on another Kampfgruppe of the same composition (minus the Jagdpanzer company and off table supports) as a reserve.

My plan was to try and slow the advance down by placing a PzGren company in the central village near the stream and to keep the rest of my force back so as to hopefully prevent it all being destroyed too quickly then to counter-attack once my reserve showed up. Dan did a classic Soviet attack, the Motor Rifle battalion was dispatched straight up the road headed for the central village with a Tank battalion advancing on each flank with the third in reserve. He also started laying down a sustained barrage on the village which immediately caused suppressions on the defending PanzerGrenadiers. Due to his earlier recce he also brought fire down on the hedgeline to the left of the village and suppressed some of the APC’s there (these were from the lads holding the village).

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The Austrian view and deployment: Lt Green are PzGrenadier positions, Black are Panzer, Pink is PzJager and Yellow Recon. Red ‘flag’ is HQ.

These bombardments continued for a while as the Soviets moved up to the stream, all the time keeping the garrison of the village suppressed whilst Dan prepared for the assault. I, on the other hand, was having trouble calling my artillery in at all – damn that Soviet jamming of my radio nets! To make things worse Dan was consistently winning the initiative and was slowly accruing a hefty amount of command pips even though he was spending some on keeping his artillery going. Then things got even tougher for the PanzerGrenadiers when a massive MRLS barrage landed on the village taking out one platoon and supressing the rest which allowed the assault that followed to succeed at the first rush, albeit at the cost of one Motor Rifle platoon.

Whilst this was going on in the centre the Soviet tanks on the flanks had reached the stream and those on my left got busy trying to brew up the APC’s stuck by the hedge due to being constantly suppressed by artillery, with two platoons soon ko’d and one having legged it due to failing its Quality check the last survivor also made for the rear. This whole side of the battlefield was now only defended by the Panzer company situated at the hill to the rear. Over on my right flank Dan had pushed one of his recce platoons forward along the stream to recce my positions and I was forced to try and take it out with a SK105 platoon as I wanted to keep the tanks here hidden as long as possible. Unfortunately I missed with the first attempt due to the plucky BRDM-2 crews taking advantage of the cover afforded by the streams trees and bushes (bloody saving throws!). The Soviet recce types then duly located my Panzers on the ridge and got off a report to HQ.

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I was now expecting to be on the receiving end of some artillery attention whilst waiting for the mass of T-64’s advancing on the stream to surge forward to take on the M60’s but Dan had other ideas and used some of his Command Pips to call in an airstrike. He then rolled very well for the load carried by the SU-25 (mind you nearly every load carried by one of these will spoil your day!) and pretty soon I was on the receiving end of masses of cluster bombs and other general nastiness that destroyed one of the 2 targeted Patton’s whilst causing the other to fail a quality test. This convinced the remaining platoon to also re-locate in a rearward direction, bugger.

 

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Achtung, Jabo!

 

Things were now officially ‘somewhat sticky’ for the Austrians, I still could not wrest initiative from Dan and had only managed to accrue 1 measly Command Pip which was not enough to get my reserves into action and my force was down nearly 50% of its initial strength. So, what to do: I decided to re-deploy the PanzerJager company towards the centre to replace the missing Panzer company and hoped to win the initiative and then release my reserves otherwise I was onto a hiding. Whilst I started moving the Kurassiers the Soviet Tank battalion that was advancing on my right had made it to the stream and the recce platoon here moved across the stream where it was taken out by a Bill ATGM from the PanzerGrenadiers in the wood there. I also managed to supress some tank platoons when I actually managed to call in all of my M109 batteries at last.

Over on the other flank Dan had crossed the stream to the left of the village and here too I managed to score a partial success with my artillery calling in a strike from the Army MRLS battery which succeeded in suppressing the whole battalion and causing so much confusion that it caused them to halt for a turn to sort themselves out, this was however, very much a last hurrah (indeed a first hurrah really!). My hopes in calling forth my reserve was dashed again as Dan retained the initiative and as the ominous form of a Hind helicopter had also entered the field by this time I decided enough was enough and gave the order to withdraw to preserve what was left of my force for the future.

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As usual it was a cracking game with Dan, who is always a pleasure to play against, he used his artillery to maximum effect supressing my lads in the village constantly then unleashing a massive final blow with his rockets before the assault went in – textbook stuff really. He also used his command pips well, allowing his artillery to keep firing and keeping enough in reserve to unleash his air support when needed. I did suffer from not gaining initiative apart from once but that was sort of satisfying as it means that the new initiative rules work, sometimes it just aint your day. I do actually sometimes like it when that happens as it adds to the challenge, although having said that I will be getting the Austrian MANPAD bases done soon to help out against Soviet airpower in future ‘cos those Frogfoot’s are beasts!

 

 

 

Club Night 18/09/2017: FFT3: Alt-History Hungarians vs Poles

It had been a while since Alex and I had had a bash at FFT and he had just finished the first few bits of his Alt-history Hungarian army (good to see that a few others have run with my idea by the way!) and said that he had an ‘Advanced Guard’ unit ready of about 5 companies strong so I duly picked the Polish Armoured Cavalry Regt to take them on. Unfortunately I can’t find the pics that I took, which might be a good thing!

It was a classic meeting engagement type affair which was fitting given the forces involved I thought and the plan was for us to fight over control of two villages that would secure a local road network. There were a few hills and woods scattered around to break the terrain up. I had split my force into 2 equal parts both of which consisted of:

  • 1 Striker
  • 1 Vickers mk3 Coy (3 tanks)
  • 1 infantry Coy in Stormer-20’s (3 bases each)
  • 1 Scorpion-90 Coy (3 tanks)

The Regimental HQ had the AD and mortar bases and each of the 2 battalion groups were tasked to take a village each. I also planned to do so in a similar fashion with both groups: Infantry and Scorpions to make a dash for the village if possible whilst the tanks and Strikers went into overwatch from the ridges to the rear.

I thought that this plan was sound but come acropper from the outset as soon as Alex’s Leopard 2A4 company hit the table. I’m just 2 moves they had moved through a wood on the extreme left of the battlefield, engaged and destroyed the left hand Vickers company and attached Striker whose defensive fire could do nowt but suppress the mighty Leopards. After the destruction of the first tank company the Leopards were now in the rear of my position and even though I had managed to secure the villages with my infantry the Leopards had proceeded to brew up my remaining tanks with long range fire which I just couldn’t reply to and soon I was left with no choice but to concede defeat!

So possibly the quickest game I’ve ever had (4 moves in total!!) and a good example of why everyone uses Leopard 2’s in real life, they’re bloody beasts! Thanks to Alex for the game but next time he might have to face the Polish Vickers Mk.7 which should give a more even fight!

Club Night 11/09/17: More Big CoC, Normandy ’44.

It’s been a while since we played this game, so the write up will be brief especially as I didn’t seem top take many pics for some reason which usually helps jog my memory.

Anyway it was supposed to be a sort of reverse game of the one fought out a few weeks before between Daren, Mike and myself but this time with me controlling the defending Germans against Mike and Daren attacking with the Brits. On the night though we were joined by Bart as he didn’t have a game and wanted to try out Chain of Command. The Brits had 2 infantry platoons and a tank platoon of 3 Sherman’s one of which was a Firefly. For support they brought a Carrier Section and a Churchill which just wasn’t cricket! To face this horde we had a standard Heer platoon (Commanded by me) with a HMG and Mortar FOO in support along with a mixed armour platoon of 2 PzIV’s and a Somua half track mounted PAK-40 that Bart was in charge of.

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The field of battle looking from the German lines

The patrol phase was an even affair but the Brits rolled really well for morale with 10’s and 11’s whereas we were at 8’s and 9’s, but we were sort of confident. Our plan was to engage the armour from as far back as possible and once we knew where the bulk of the infantry were get some mortar stonkiness on them to get them pinned or to at least deny as much of the ground as possible to the attackers so that we could try and take the larger number of enemy infantry on with less chance of being outflanked or over-run.

The Brits had decided on a very bold plan though getting all of their infantry sections on the table as soon as possible with the armour also getting involved quickly too. This did force us to deploy our tanks as quickly as possible and I also had to get some infantry on to prevent a JOP from being taken. We also managed to get the FOO going from our first phase and soon the mortar’s were in action catching 2 sections of advancing Tommies and a Senior Leader in the fire zone. However after one phase a triple 6 was rolled which put the kibosh on the barrage as we didn’t have a CoC dice yet. To add to our woes we failed to get in contact with the battery in the next activation and then when we tried again we rolled up the dreaded ‘not available again’ result. Things were now officially a bit sticky.

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Our short lived mortar barrage – damn those ammo shortages!

While this was happening Bart’s panzers had been engaging the British armour from long range and whilst one of the PzIV’s kept getting hits on the Churchill it just refused to be damaged due to its great armour. The other PzIV did cause some major damage to one of Daren’s sections when it caught them crossing open ground but it didn’t have any luck against the Sherman’s it was duelling with and succumbed to a long range shot from the Firefly. Pretty soon the surviving PzIV was also burning as it was ganged up on by the numerically superior Allied tanks, which had managed to survive the duel without much damage.

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Brits advance….

With the failure of the mortar barrage to help slow down the advancing infantry I was forced to get the remainder of the German infantry on table to try and deal with the British advance. This went as well as the rest of our attempts had done through the rest of the battle with me losing a section trying to win back a lost JOP. I holed one section up in a house after that but our morale was plummeting badly and the impetus was well and truly with the British. Both tanks were out of action and when the SP PAK was also knocked out it was obvious that we had no chance of winning as the Brits could just sit back and shell the crap out of us with their tanks whilst their superior number of infantry moved forward to secure JOP’s and the objective at the T-junction. We might have been able to shred a section or two but we decided discretion was the better part and withdrew.

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.. relentlessly on

So a sound drubbing for the Bosche but as usual a good fun game which lessened the blow somewhat. If we could have kept the mortars going for a bit longer it would have evened things up somewhat and also losing the armour fight so comprehensibly (no fault of Barts by the way he was very unlucky a couple of times not to brew up a Sherman) meant that we were on a hiding to nothing but c’est la guerre and all that!