Archive for September, 2010

Ost Front Tactical (PBI)

This game arose from an outstanding obligation getting near (at least) to completion: a couple of years ago, fellow shows presenter Chris (A) bought some 15mm PP kit in a bring and buy … in the box there was also a pair of ugly, unrecognisable gloss green guns. But the gun shields suggested they were WWII German 105s.

I took them on, disassembled them, cleaned, reshaped and filed the components up. I stuck the bits together this week … and in the game, Chris successfully defended them against a Russian patrol and took them home.

I have no ‘before and after’ pics – so after will have to suffice ..

a passing resemblance

The ‘finish’ is deliberately bland so that Chris can complete to match his Germans, of course.   In itself, that is part of a devious plan … what with Ancients, CWB and Black Powder, it is quite a while since we saw Chris’s Germans – perhaps this ploy will at least ensure he opens up the appropriate boxes … :O) …

I am sure they are now highly desirable, as I have stuck them on Flames of War bases ….

This was just a regular Friday night 4-hander amongst uncompetitive types.   Reinforcements arrived according to a schedule I had written out in advance of the game.  There was only a single objective – take or retain the guns.   ‘Count Down’ was entirely discretionary … it was an evening game, and when we are done, we’re done.   The game report reads …

‘ … The guns were defended by a single jeep platoon from my Aufklarungsschwadroon, plus CC, who were reinforced progressively by their Armoured Cars, the Panzerpioneer ‘heavy’ platoon, and finally some light tanks.

The Russians were advancing with two platoons on foot (‘one up/one back’), plus CC, who were progressively reinforced – once contact was made – by a gun platoon, a Maxim platoon, and finally some armour.

The Battle for the Guns

With Rifle platoon A, Ian went immediately into the attack, turning the ‘bloody wheatfield’ into a heap of casualties from both sides, but passed several break tests whilst more troops came up.

Shamefully, he ‘successfully’ mortared a square with the German’s medic in it confirming all our worst expectations of war on the Eastern Front.

The Germans reinforce

The Armoured Car patrol arrived as requested on the German left, running into Will’s platoon.   Once the Russians sorted themselves out … bringing up their gun platoon – and taking out an 8-rad with an Anti-tank Rifle (!), the patrol dropped back to a safer ‘stand-off’ distance.

The Russians reinforce

By this stage, the Germans were forming up a nasty looking defence line slightly behind the objective (sort of ‘shield and sword’-like), and as the heavier Soviet gear was arriving, the front line action had lessened .. we deemed a bigger battle in the offing, but the window created for Chris to take away his guns ...’

Things we learned and changes we considered …

Motivations …  there was some discussions of the ‘Northants’ motivation tweak (roll for motivation and APs together, allocating the dice after they are rolled … this increases the chance of being motivated, of course – an important tweak, especially in multi-player games where some of our regulars do not like their troops standing idle for too long …)…  The aspect under question was ‘choosing to fail’ (so a player might, rolling a ‘5’ and a ‘1’ – which in most cases would be sufficient to motivate on the ‘5’ with ‘1’ AP – choose to allocate the ‘1’ to motivation and thereby fail … the reasoning, of course, being that 1AP is not worth having so a voluntary fail plus a re-roll is preferable …)…

So a choice emerged … (a) no voluntary fails (you choose which die is which, but must allocate a pass to motivation if it is possible) or (b) you choose, pure and simple.

My sympathies lie with option (a) as the only real negative of enhanced motivation is the high number of APs it often produces. This is particularly the case with  e.g. Mortar or ‘HMG’ platoon, where the PC generally has surplus motivation rolls available to him (so choosing to fail carries no real penalty).   On the other hand, it is certainly a flaw in the game that motivated troops who roll a ‘1’ for APs are no better off than those who fail motivation and just get the residual 1 AP for unmotivated troops (indeed, sometimes worse … as ‘raw’ and/or ‘pinned’ can often get a score of 0 with motivated APs.   And I have no idea what that anomaly is meant to simulate ..)..

My instinct is that although – as a linear mechanism, at least – the APs modifiers should count, the net minimum motivated troops should get is 2 (thereby being better off than unmotivated, and getting enough e.g. for foot AT to shoot their weapons or for mortar crew with enemy in an adjacent square to pick up their rifles and get a shot off …)…

So my proposal would be that if rolling motivation and APs together, a player cannot voluntarily fail motivation … however, after modifiers, the AP calculation for motivated troops has a minimum of 2.

Soviet Artillery

On table HE … we had some big guns in play (well, 105s), and further opportunity to use the HE variant.  In PBI 2006, guns fire HE like AP but at foot bases (generally a 9 to hit) with an average 50/50 chance to hit another base (then the bases save in the usual way but with slightly different modifiers).   The chance to kill a base in average circumstances levels out at 5/24 but with a maximum of 2 bases hit.   We have always found this cumbersome, given that the game already has a HE shooting mechanism: Mortars shoot looking for 6s on a square (1 die for Light Mortars, 2 dice for Medium Mortars) … getting a hit on any bases in the square (normal saves) … the average chance for a Medium Mortar  to kill a base in a 2 base square is 1/6 (slightly better than the 5/24 for the gun, really,  as a third base in the square would also be hit automatically by the Mortar’s collateral but never by the gun …).

As a consequence, locally, we have abandoned the standard HE rules in the book, and allow guns with HE round to fire as if mortars.  Infantry Support guns, like the German IG 18 or the Soviet ‘Model 1927 Regimental gun’, get 2 dice, like M Mortars (as do tank guns of similar calibre) … smaller Anti-Tank guns with HE rounds (such as the Soviet 45mm) get 1 die, like L Mortars.

In this game, we did find the inability of the ‘even bigger’ guns to hit anything a little counter-intuitive … by either mechanism.   Inspired by the ‘off table’ artillery’s hits on 5 or 6 (after deviation, of course) we decided that even bigger guns firing over open sights should hit on a 5 or a 6.  So ‘dual purpose’, field and howitzers of gun effect 8 or more fire with 2 dice, achieving hits on 5s and 6s (on any foot bases or artillery in the square similarly to mortars – and with the same ‘pinned’ effect from a third hit etc.) …

even bigger guns?

I painted the SU 122 conversion’s ‘intermediate stage’ (it needs grab rails, bolt-on equipment, extra rivets etc. but I find it useful to put a coat of paint on at this stage to see what flaws will potentially show up on the final model so they can be corrected or masked in the final detailing …)…

I think a big buster like this would get the better hitting power of the enhanced HE rounds …

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But first some more eye candy … this time from Colours (Newbury Racecourse)

Rocket Attack

I kind of like planes in mid-air, and I have to say this ‘supported on the rocket trails’ idea is one I’d thought of (but never entirely figured out) …  Here it is done on an epic scale (impractical for any kind of ‘normal’ wargame but shows the idea works well enough to be pushed beyond reason – FUBAR, I think was the term in Saving Private Ryan, but that’s another story) …

There are rods inside the smoke trail which push fit onto a very heavy base (which is part of the target terrain piece) – and to be very heavy the base is very large … Impractical?  ‘It is what it is’, Ivana said.

Then again, it drew a crowd.  As we’ve often said of shows, height will usually get a game noticed ….

But back to the question … when is a pointless project not a pointless project?  When it’s part of a bigger plan.

The pointless project is converting a T34 to a SU122.  Pointless because although these things are always enjoyable challenges, actually, in 15mm, at least,  there are plenty of attractive SU122 models available.

It’s just a T34 chassis with a box on it (and anyone can make a box …).   The point is that by buying a T34 and making the box yourself, you liberate a T34 turret for the armoured train project … or possibly to upgrade the turret on a scratch built river boat …

soviet gunboat

I’m sure there must have been a slogan in the Great Patriotic War that meant ‘you can never have enough T34 turrets’!   So, with a few more hours of care and attention, my Red Army, which, as a collection, is optimised for Khalkin Gol and the Winter War will get some resources available for the 42/43 upgrades … meanwhile, the bits box builds up the resources for the armoured train project.

So I bought a T34 at Colours.

Type BP43 Armoured Train

Trains are, of course, an essential feature in the logistics of 2oth century warfare – the most universal pipeline through which the resources of war are fed to the front.   Supply trains were generally unarmoured, of course.    Armoured Trains could be used police the rail system, were a rapid way of redeploying firepower, and enabled first response armoured support for threatened points in the line (a train can get its men and guns to a crisis faster than vehicles on road can – especially if the roads are Russian).   For firepower, a typical BP43 train deployed 4 76.2mm tank guns (the T34 turret artillery cars), 4 37mm Anti-Aircraft guns, a DShk and a dozen or more DT machineguns for anti-personnel defence … so something like a platoon of tanks with generous AA support.

There were usually two or three infantry platoons per train (so a train is round about the size of a PBI force …).  And the trains were organised into Battalions and Regiments.

My train (trains, really) are primarily designed for NQM and Megablitz use, so a train represents several units, and will consist of a transport base (the loco), an Admin stand (the Command Car), and two fighting stands – an AA car and (the tank-turreted) artillery car…. so, scaled-down, four pieces.  Re Megablitz, you could argue for 1 or 2 SP per fighting stand (as each represents some 12-16 AA guns or tank turrets or a battalion of infantry, all with some sort of mechanised/armoured lift) … maybe 4 for a whole train unit.  All towed by the TPT, of course, and limited to the track depicted, and with Recce attached to guard against sabotage (normal recce, normal EPs for repairs etc.).  I suspect I will limit the trains to T, S, A and R orders, as, instinctively, M seems a bit un-train-like … (I see M as sort of roving and reacting, and Trains as ‘go there, do that‘ equipments).   But that will be play tested.

next up

Back to the SU 122, there’s a bit more milliput to smooth on and smooth down … then, these days, to get a better surface for the paint, I tend to give the whole thing a coat of gloss varnish – but hatches, fuel tanks and hand-rails beckon …

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Twentieth Century Partizan

Just a few shots of the more modern stuff from The Other Partizan on Sunday.

I was there doing my Society of Ancients stuff but managed to take my camera for a walk.

There’s something about trams ..

There’s also something about WWI stuff in the open fields

Big Picture and inserts

But mostly I got chatting to the really nice man who’s just done those 15mm plastics (very neat – and available in 28 and traditional 20mm, too … now they did look very good …), chatted to Jervis Johnson about Black Powder (but that’d be for another blog), I bought some PP metal, and witnessed the end of  ‘The End‘.

‘The End’ is WD Display Team North’s quick participation game of the last months of the Reich.  You get to play the evil monster and make increasingly futile decisions about where to employ your remaining counter attacks whilst hoping to develop a ‘Vonder Veapon’ in time to win the war (by all means replace all ‘w’s with ‘v’s … this is not against the spirit of the game) …

I Survived The End

‘The End’ has been doing the shows as the WDDTN participation game – even COW – and I had not yet had a punt.   Tim told me it was the last outing, so as the show got quieter in the afternoon I called in.   I had a jolly time trying my ‘fend off the Russians’ plan (if I was a Nazi, I’d have prefered to be conquered by the western allies … then again, the Nazis mostly got away – it was the ordinary folk who suffered the wrath of the Red Army … but I digress) … I rolled a lot of 5s and 6s, but very few 1s – which are no good for battles but do help you push on with a nutter project (actually, I opted for jet fighters, which isn’t that nutty but I’m digressing again …)…

So, we got to the end: the enemies were at the gates … the Lancaster was overhead but the jet fighters were not ready.   Even the Italian campaign had been lost and the 8th army was around the Alps!  But my little bunker and my map and my mythical armies were all intact.  Victory!

It then transpired that maybe I wasn’t the last player to confront ‘The End’ (turns out Jerry may be taking it to an overseas show …)…   So I thought, this may not have been the End, but it was perhaps the beginning of the end … (of ‘The End’).

The PP bits were to make a mountain version of the IG 18 for my Gebirgsjaeger …  More anon

For more about WD, try the Wargame Developments Website (+ Tim’s blog is Megablitz and More).  Enjoy.

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