Monday, 29 November 2021

Tower building

and multi-tasking…

Hey, I like watching American football like the next guy, but as someone with a stopwatch has suggested, there is only some 9 minutes of actual playing in the average American Football game.  The rest is the huddle, timeouts, or the color guy relaying statistics or making insightful observations like "You have to run the ball up the field to make the yards" . There are always the replays to cover the intervening time.   It is therefore easy to accomplish other tasks while “watching the game”.   Gluing hundreds of individual card tiles on a model’s roof is a useful way to spend that quality time.  

I just noticed the different colour of card in the roof tiles so a tracking of my progress can be seen.

The tower’s column core is a very thick card roll (ex-plastic wrap holder) on which pieces of cereal box card is glued.  The wood upper deck is a packing tape roll covered in wooden coffee stir sticks. The roof is removable with flooring to place figures if necessary. The lower windows are metal versions stuck on and yes, the main door is well high up the tower but I have constructed removable stairs so the inhabitants can make it a bit more defensible.    Now to paint the thing!

Saturday, 27 November 2021

...somewhere in the Sinai, 1917

Battle of El Itwil’do

somewhere in the Sinai, 1917

You are Captain Angus Young of the Queensland Fusiliers and you are deep in it.

Your commanding officer a pommie bastard named Sir David Evans wants more glory; at your expense. So he has ordered your unit to make an attack to take the well in the village of El Something-or-another thereby securing a forward supply of water for the upcoming campaign against Gaza and securing him the laurels of the damned uppy-de-ups.

He has you standing at attention in his tent.

“Captain Young”, he says in his high-pitched voice, “to continue our glorious advance against the Muslim hordes we are required to take the well and supply water for the troops, what.  I have come up with a brilliant plan, I might add.”

Oh crickey, you think, now we are really in trouble!

Sir David continues, “We will do something the Turks and their German masters will not expect…a night attack.  BY your expression, Young, I see it has surprised you also”

Surprised? You idiot!, your inner voice screams, night attacks are more trouble than…

Your train of thought is interrupted by his statement, “the attack shall not commence with the usual artillery as that will merely wake them up, what?”

No artillery?!”, you blurt out.

“No, Young, but we have a further surprise for the Turks”.

“Water pistols, sir?” you surmise.

“Water pistols? My good man, won’t do at all.  They would not be effective without the water obtained at the wells. Not very militarily astute you Aussies, I see.”, he replies.

You merely wait.

“My ace card,” Sir David elaborates, “is the use of two tanks my cousin ‘obtained’ on route here.  God knows where he got them from, but our gain, what?”

You finally zone out of his further comments.  two tanks blindly going around in the dark. All the while your boys must attack, without artillery support, going against no doubt heavily guarded positions we have had no time to reconnoiter and under the command of this moron..

“Right. Attack starts at 04:00.  Sir David says decisively hammering his pen upon his table. Dismissed”

It is 06:00, the sun is well up but orders were given at 04:00 to wait for the tanks. You have had the troops resting in the meantime.  You restarting to think that perhaps Evans does have some notion that the moment has well passed omitting to tell you to stand down, while he formulated another of his clever plans.

You then hear the clank and rumble of heavy engines.  The tanks are here.

As you stare at the iron monsters, an adjutant rides up primly to your station.

“Right, Young, your supports are here, you may begin your attack,” stated the waxed moustached officer.

You are dumfounded, but your inner voice calmly acknowledges that you were dreaming to think that daylight should interfere with Sir David bleeping Evans’ wishes.

“Well,” the mounted officer demands, “get on with it”

The Aussie assault with the tanks in support (the upper one already suffering 1 strength loss.


Meanwhile in the village of El Itwil'do in the Sinai, 1917

You are Col. Ahmet Bazak, commander of the 32nd Osman Infantry Battalion defending the well at El Itwil’do.  You have four companies of riflemen, a battery of artillery and full contingent of machine guns.  Col. Schmilman, your German advisor fears it will not be enough. 

But it is in the hands of Allah and so you must do with what you have. 
The Turks in their trenches with artillery in support.

GM notes:
Col. Bazak, you can have your troops dig trenches throughout the previous night but this will cause fatigue so will reduce their courage by two  (from 5+ to 7+) but offers Armour 3 than 2.  [Players of Dragon Rampant will recognize my use of that rule set as the basis for this WW1 campaign].

You have yourself as encouragement for the troops (one stand of command to attach at any start of your turn to any unit to offer a one-time re-roll of any courage test.) If successful, you can move the stand to another unit.  If failure, the stand is removed.

Col. Schilman offers a one-time re-roll of any activation dice for the artillery.

The Australian LMG company leapfrogs the infantry to continue the advance.

With Peter playing the part of Young and commander of the Aussies, he selected four companies of infantry, and the LMG company to accompany the tanks in the assault.

Craig did indeed have his Turkish infantry dig trenches for themselves in front of the village and its water well. While the players did not know it, the troop points were even at 30 each, with the tanks adding 20 points to the Aussie total in the attack. 
[Note:  Tanks were indeed sent to the Sinai and used in the Battles for Gaza, but had limited success and many were destroyed by Turkish artillery; the rest withdrawn back to the Western Front shortly thereafter]

While the Aussie assault ultimately failed, Peter was pleased with the ‘even-ness’ of the scenario and with different dice, the outcome might have been different.

Much discussion of the upcoming campaign was made. So further battles will occur as the Aussies thrust toward Gaza.

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Poniatowsky -Polish Commander

Napoleonic fans will recognize this commander's name.  The dashing leader of the Poles for Napoleon, he struck a pose quite equal to Murat.  

DavidB, one of my wargame buddies spotted him in my last blog post.  I thought I had previously posted about him but can't find it, so I thought I'd give Poniatowsky a quick spotlight.

My version of him was created from a miscellaneous metal horse I had lying about, added plastic cavalry legs, a saddle and cloth,  modified the Poles's torso with a bit of green stuff, glued on arms.  [These gave me the most grief to be honest as I needed them to look like they were holding the reins.]  To the horse was added the lace and decorations to the horse (the horse coloration was apparently popular with him - and the much older Polish Winged Hussars if the classic 'uniformologist' Richard  Knotel's illustrations are to be believed).  Finally,  the square topped chapska, a Polish particularity, was a chore too much -- I simply cut off a poor lancers metal head...

Not my best work but who doesn't like bright pink (my version of "Polish Crimson") on a uniform! Heck, even the German SS tankers gave their black uniforms pink trim!

Franclune part2

The 'French' army in the initial attack.  Wurttembergers on the far right, the Italians, the French Middle Guard, the Poles with the purple crimson flags, and the Croatian contingents fighting the dark-green 
Russians of Wagner's division on the near left.The Harpeth River (top) funnels the French/Confederate attack.

With many small commands, the French were able to move most of their forces into the attack of the Russian lines, aligning elements,  as the assault led to an every decreasing frontage.  While some elements of Wagner’s (Wagnasky’s ??) exposed Union Russian division held for a bit longer than historically, it did retreat back to the main line creating disorder and, with its destruction, a loss of the overall army morale. The total loss of a ‘corps’ decreases each other command.  With enough army losses, each command has a more difficult dice roll to make to continue the fight.

However, the field emplacements would cause some loss for the oncoming French  [ As the rules are specifically designed for the rather open and rare use of field fortifications of Napoleonic warfare, I added that the emplacements would offer the defender the victory should both sides have a combat tie. As ties are likely, this proved to be an important factor in the fights ]

Surprisingly, the major breakthrough came as the Wurttemburgers surged over the more extensive ‘stone wall’ defences of the Union Russian left given a +2 bonus [historically it was defended by an extensive abattis]. {the breakthrough probably more due to my dice rolling than anything to be honest!}

The 'Regiment of Joseph Napoleon' the white coated Spanish of the French Army, are again trying to take the Russian field emplacements (the straw fence!), are on their last gasp (the 1 pip showing on the small black dice on their base), but roll a three on the large 'combat dice' - a fortunate result.  However the Russians, also on their last legs, also roll a 3...and as the tie goes to the defender...well, the RJN did not gain a heroic victory this day..... 

While the Russian artillery fire proved to be rather weak { it had very disappointing dice rolling!}on the Russian right, it had enough to weaken the on-coming French foreign troops so the Russian defensive line withheld easily.  The Russian far right division started to move toward the middle to close the gap, however with the immediate Russian reserve coming into play, the French morale started to fail with the losses [ rule note: while the loss percentages are similar between small and large commands, the small French commands (taken from the Confederate OOB) cannot sustain many element losses before being unable to continue attacks.  While I did roll well for all the French morale rolls calling for only holds, rather than retreats, this had the effect of halting any further advances and allowing the Russian to plug and reinforce the gaps.  

The French commander (well, me actually …) had to make the decision whether one more push would gain the Union LOC,  looking very near and which would win the battle; but conversely might destroy his army completely.  (Historically the Confederate commander J.B.Hood, took the later course and would indeed destroy the best part of his army.)

I took the more conservative course and call it a day.  So after four and a half hours of fighting or some 9 game turns (about the same time of the actual battle - from 16:00 to 20:00 hrs.) the game concluded much as the historical battle with the Russians still in control of Franclune, ah, Franklin, and the French badly mauled.   But like most wargames, heck, real battles themselves, a couple of different rolls of the dice could/would make the outcome very much different.

Friday, 19 November 2021


A “Napoleonics” game but with the set up from another era altogether,  I am calling the Battle of Franclune.  

This photo of a magazine cover with Troiani’s artwork might give you a clue to the game’s scenario….

A view of the Reb French Grande Armee ready to assault the Union Russian forward position  

Some of the deployed units are my newly-painted elements which form the Confederate Bate’s division:

On the left is the 3rd Provisional Croatian Regiment employed in Russia 1812.  On the right, the 2nd Provisional Croatian Regiment in 1813 still wearing old Austrian uniforms with modified Austrian shako with added French pompom and cockade. I used the illustration within the Osprey reference MAA 410 Plate F3 as a guide with the shako created from a British shako minus the badge scraped off and painted on the frontal cockade, gluing a pompom on top. In the rear, the Joseph Napoleon Regiment formed from sympathetic Spanish and used in Russia in 1812.

These overcoat Polish units are also newly-painted using Victrix French Guard marching poses and the covered unique squared-topped Polish chapskas, spares taken from their Imperial Guard Lancer set.  In the middle is one of my rare metal units. Together they form Brown’s Confederate division.

An overhead shot of the deployment of the Reb’s army (bottom) as usually shown on the battle maps looking north.  The Union’s exposed Warner’s Division is the three elements in front of the main Union Russian line.  The stone wall represents the more fortified works of the Union left. 

 Historically the Rebs suffered greatly against the the defences and only made a brief single breakthrough which was stopped by aggressive counter attack by Opdyke’s large brigade, seen positioned in the town.   

We shall see how this plays out.


Sunday, 14 November 2021

Simple Sinai - 1917

Well it has been awhile.  Down a bit from the blogging thing but not out.

 The local club opened up (with a lot of restrictions of course, proof of vaccination, wearing of masks, yada yada (mostly due to being in a civic installation perhaps) so a wargaming buddy WillB hosted a "Dragon Rampant" rules Lord of the Rings affair.  I helped his young son to a glorious victory of the Good over his father’s Baddies. Arthur appeared to really enjoy himself.

I got the idea from those rules that perhaps I could apply them to my rather dormant WW1 in the Middle East 1:72 scale plastics collection. So during the week I worked on wedging the stats for fantasy units into those for use with machine guns, tanks and airplanes…. On the next Friday, a couple of my wargame buddies, Peter and Craig,  came over to give it a go and give it a good analysis (both seem to love the mathematical/analytics of it all!)  

My collection of Australians and Ottoman Turks (mainly HaT) has been a haphazard affair as I gained the original figures in some distant deal or prize of which I don’t really remember.   They are certainly not a main focus, not really of super-interest to me; and frankly,  the figures themselves not worthy of much effort.  I must admit it shows in the rather lack of  plain terrain. Heck, even the lack of basing. Is not the Sinai desert bare and flat?!  Perhaps we should just put it down to a minimalist “old-school” approach, shall we….  

Minimalist you say?  How about tents from a used Toblerone chocolate box!  (note the red Turk chits are to indicate battered or activated (plain flip side)

The campaign I have sort of chosen to go with is the battles around Gaza in 1917. The Turks were mostly entrenched and the Allies (I have given the “Australians” a much greater role than historical as it must be said the Australian infantry only participated in the Gallipoli Campaign, moving to the Western Front so my use of them in the Sinai is incorrect. But the correct British uniformed version (from the same HaT company) are very large in comparison so will not use.

aircraft over Turkish line

The simple scenario was for the Aussies to take the village, the entrenched Turks to defend.  The game was expressly was a test of the rules. The boys were so approving, as it turned out, that much of the ‘after battle report’ was how to blend it into a campaign.    

Can’t have WW1 without tanks and strafing aircraft so I painted up those during the week for the game. Yes, British tanks (still in army green and apparently still sporting English mud in the shipment!) were historically employed during this campaign - but rather unsuccessfully. I imposed the rule that a failed move activation by a tank activates an immediate 2nd roll, failure of which has the tank immobile for the rest of the game (call it break-down, stuck in the sand, mechanical malfunction

So surprisingly a tank can be classified as a large beast. Not really a stretch, but mixed with the other classifications and a bit of specific rules, even aircraft can be accounted for in the simple ‘Lion Rampant/Dragon Rampant’ style action.  With a quick look at the stat cards I had ready, the boys knew the dice rolls needed and the action required for each of the troop types. Simple dice rolling game. Maybe not ideally historical but then, is ANY miniature ruleset??  

Turkish units behind quickly made ‘trenches’ made of self hardening clay

The tank has breeched the abandoned trenches attacking the Turkish infantry —already with 7 of 12 strength points removed. 

For the record…. and we fought it without any morale or army breakpoints…. most units were eliminated from the battle, but the Aussies had one tank in the town and the Turks could not really hurt it with their lone HMG unit. Yup we made it long and bloody but it was for a rules test, not the scenario was the end result. Some more work to do but the boys did well and gave it a good go. I thank them for it.