Archive for the ‘Naval Games’ Category

1:1200 ships

A friend of mine recently posted pictures of a model of Bismarck that he had recently completed and I immediately browsed through the files here so as to share pictures some of my own smaller models with him. It turns out that although I have some pictures of the Bismarck and others from the battle of the Denmark Strait campaign in (Big Ship) action, the only ship I had posted individually was the Vittorio Veneto …

P.B.Eye-Candy Fleet Action: Bismarck and Scharnhorst engage Hood and Suffolk
P.B.Eye-Candy Profile: 1:1200 Vittorio Veneto from Revell

So this post is a gratuitous corrective post. It reminds me that I have a lot of work to do on the rules and on the collection – but it also puts up some more pictures.

The War for the North Atlantic

1:1200 Airfix and Revell: the pride of the Kriegsmarine …
Prinz Eugen

The inspiration for taking these pictures was my friend’s Bismarck, so mostly I took a lot of pictures of the Kriegsmarine’s capital ships … but, hunting them down, of course, would have been the Royal Navy …

KGV, POW, Ark Royal, Hood, Suffolk and one of several destroyers
P.B.Eye-Candy: the search for Bismarck … long range missions, and Swordfish from Ark Royal
P.B.Eye-Candy: eager to close the range, Hood hunts down Bismarck

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VV 04

More lovely 1:1200 naval … I recently came across Revell’s reissued Littorio Class model (boxed as Roma) and could not resist.  Splendid and simple little model.

There’s more on the Reviews page

VV 03

VV 05

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Scharnhorst 01

Couldn’t resist when I saw one of these in the model shop when calling in for some Humbrol enamels (I undercoat in Humbrol and they are hard to get from shows …

This is not a new kit but seems a bit rare – I was pleased to get one and ignored a few higher priorities to get it made and painted …

Scharnhorst 02

At £7.50 it wasn’t too bad: although quick, unlike Duke of York/PoW,  it was a PITA to assemble (nearly all of the holes needed a twiddle of my file before any of the parts would plug in) …

Scharnhorst 03(Revell’s 1:1200 Scharnhorst kit)

OK – it’s not absolutely finished … there’s a bit of touching up and varnishing to do – and all of the recent ship accessions need basing up but it’s good enough to put away for now under the buy it and use it rule.

Scharnhorst 04

Here are some more pictures …

Scharnhorst 05

Scharnhorst 06

Scharnhorst 07

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TnBnP 01

Well, just boats and planes – and little ones for my ‘Big Ships’ game …

I’ve made some progress with the ‘Sink the Bismarck’ scenario forces (based on the Airfix 1:1200 set of that name) …

TnBnP 07(Airfix 1:1200 HMS Ark Royal with Irregular 2mm biplanes on deck)

In all honestly I coated the Ark Royal’s deck with thick gloss varnish intending to spray it matt later but I’m quite taken with the striking ‘wet look’ so am currently minded to stick with it.

The Swordfish are generic 2mm biplanes from Irregular slightly adapted and, a little overscale, they seem to be a good fit …

TnBnP 06a(2mm Swordfish on Ark Royal’s deck)

I’ve tried the same finish on Prinz Eugen and it certainly brings out the details.  Given how I’ve laboured over those excruciatingly tiny and badly fitting parts it’s kind of nice to be able to see them.  And the North Atlantic is pretty wet most of the time …

TnBnP 04(Airfix 1:1200 Prinz Eugen)

Hopefully readers will notice the very fine balkan crosses on the spotter plane and the neatly achieved swastikas.

They are decals … I mostly paint this sort of thing and generally don’t like using decals but these have worked very nicely … I got them from Minibits at Warfare, and there’s a short feature on the reviews page.

TnBnP 03(Irregular 2mm 4-engine bomber adapted as a long range Condor  patrol aircraft)

Given these things are tiny I think they work well and are much better than I’d expected.

I’ve bashed the Atlas and Revell Prince of Wales models together to quite good effect to provide some battleship solidity to the Royal Navy but these have not had the wash and varnish so look a little bland compared to the other vessels …

TnBnP 09a(Duke of York, Prince of Wales and Cossack)

I’m currently working on some new search and destroy scenarios for Big Ship Battle and the 2016 versions of the game should look a lot more polished than the 2014 prototype.

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The Steyr Kfz70 is Forged in Battle donated by Chris Kemp.   I have added a FoW Breda and some Peter Pig crew figures and put it into the Raggruppamento Sahariana motor pool.

RSI 01s

RSI 02(Steyr Kfz70 pressed into desert service by the Raggruppamento Sahariana)

I have been looking around for some suitable figures, should the soldiers wish to dismount and engage the enemy on foot.  So lightly equipped desert soldiers, mostly in short trousers with a jaunty array of irregular headgear.

Nothing much doing.  In the end I found a pack of AK-47 professionals in the Peter Pig range – they are ideal save the SLRs and jungle hats.  The weapons can be adapted, of course, and I have chosen Bersaglieri heads and various arab styles from range 6’s separate heads …

RSI 03s

RSI 05s(close-up of the dismounted crews … PP figures from the AK-47 range with heads from Range 6)

Here they are with some of the other vehicles …

RSI 04s


Meanwhile at CoW I ran a more ambitious development of my naval game … the scenario was Sink the Bismarck

COW 2015 08s

A lot of positives came out of the game and after the scenario and rules have been published in the Nugget, I will see if some more polish can be achieved and will share them – probably here.

COW 2015 09s(Bismarck takes a critical hit from Prince of Wales)

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Dancing Ivan 01(Peter Pig’s new morale boosting accordion and balalaika men … )

OK, OK … I should be finishing those Landsknechts and that DBA project … but last week was a bad week so I rebelled and chipped away at some WW2 projects …

I had yet to paint up the new PP dancing Ivans but they will fill a ‘welfare stand’ gap in my Rifle Divisions (more below) and when I saw that Sink the Bismark might be going OOP, I bought a couple of sets for my ongoing Big Ship Battle project … (so I needed to try the old Airfix kits out).  So here goes …

Dancing Russians

Enough said … what a pleasing little set … Some pundits have asked what can you do with them?  Well each of my Rifle Divisions has a ‘welfare stand’ or ‘aid station’ (the name is subject to revision but the function is to bolster demoralised troops): of the three, one has an ambulance, one has a field kitchen but I was unsure what to use for the third.

Sorted … it can now be cheered up by Commissars with accordions!

Dancing Ivan 02

Dancing Ivan 03

I think they turned out OK … They are painted in the simple style that matches their comrades in the line rather than for the showcase.  The balalaika player comes with a helmet on which looked odd to me so I replaced  the head with a Cossack cap .. the accordion player is straight out of the bag (as is the dancer with folded arms – I just kicked his leg up a bit) …

For variety I grafted the hand waving German mechanic torso onto the dancing legs to make the Ivan with his hands in the air (for I figure I think looks just the part) … This is a nice set but gives loads of scope for modification …

Sink the Bismark

This set was a reissue of a bundle of 1970s 1:1200 so looks like a nostalgic trip down memory lane – but turns out to be hard work like all 1970s kits … the parts don’t fit, the plastic is warped, the instructions are wrong … the usual stuff that felt like modelling to the naive teenager …

Anyway, I have persevered … and here is one of the Tribal Class destroyers plus a some planes …

StB 01(Airfix Tribal Class destroyer, a couple of Irregular Stukas and a Walrus from the Suffolk)

I think the aeroplanes at this scale are just about viable as individual models, so, seeing a role for the float planes/flying boats I tried making up and painting the Walrus as from the kit …

StB 02

It’s a pretty crude model but will perform its game function well enough …

My plan with the Big Ship Battle project was to retain the abstract/toy-like characteristics of the cheap ships I has acquired but it isn’t so easy once you get the paints out.  So I’m now floundering towards an acceptable compromise between modelling and abstraction … Here’s a go at HMS Suffolk

StB 03(Airfix 1:1200 HMS Suffolk)

… and I tried out ‘the dip’ approach on the deck of HMS Hood.

StB 04(a few simple stages in the painting of HMS Hood)

I think that makes for a reasonable compromise … I guess the Hood took an evening to paint, which I can sort of live with as there aren’t too many big ships to paint – and the look is adequate for wargaming …

StB 05(Airfix 1:1200 HMS Hood)

I need to cut some more of those acrylic bases …

More of this project anon …

Meanwhile the vodka flows and the Russians celebrate the success of their Motherland into the night …

Dancing Ivan 04

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Malta FP 01(The Fletcher Pratt naval game: ignore the leaflet boxes – they are just helping keep the blue sea flat)

The Mediterranean Fleet (Malta) puts to sea.   There is a high level air attack from the Regia Aeronautica incoming … we drive it off and suffer no damage …

And so it begins …

This was a critical phase in the Mediterranean as Italy prepared the way for a possible assault on Malta.   We have been here before (Malta) megagaming the whole campaign in celebration of the pioneering contribution of the late Paddy Griffith.  This game we played part of the war at sea, and were using the system devised by an earlier pioneer, Fletcher Pratt

Malta FP 02(opening shots on the Regia Marina … red tees are hits, blue are misses – unfortunately for the photographer they sometimes topple over)

I am sure most readers will be familiar with Fletcher Pratt’s rules, even more so its celebrated core mechanisms … but as a reminder, the game assumes you play with ship models on something like a ballroom floor and the key gunnery is by guesstimating the angle (using a pointer marker) and the range (in actual inches) – if you get hits, the value is multiplied up from the weight and number of the guns and that much ‘tonnage’ is crossed off the target ship reducing speed and potency proportionally until the ship limps away or sinks.

Malta FP 03(umpires at work adjudicating British gunnery)

This game is a scaled down version using 1:1200 ships and a very large floor.

This was also the first outing for a splendid blue groundsheet – it really enhanced the game but increased the disturbance risk of the light markers compared with playing on a bare laminate floor.

Malta FP 04

As players we would manoeuvre our ships then place those arrow shaped post-it notes (indicating the azimuth) with the range (in inches) marked on … once all the moves and markers are done, the players retire to the fringes and the umpires measure and adjudicate the hits.  If successful they call out the damage equation, if not then a blue marker is placed so the player can see the ‘water spouts’ and get an idea of how far off the shot was.   More guns spread the shots and increase the chances of hitting.  Bigger guns do more damage.

Malta FP 05(Good shooting!: long range British gunnery scores 3 direct hits on the Vittorio Veneto)

Torpedoes are shown by placing pipe-cleaners which then speed along  for a few turns before sinking … and do huge damage to anything unable to get out of the way.   For Destroyers, torpedoes are the main offensive weapon.

Malta FP 06

It is as simple as that … the down side is you need a lot of space … the upside is almost anyone can play and very few rules need to be grasped.

The methodology is, of course, entirely abstract … the game system does not mimic the science of target acquisition in an age of precision instruments and mechanical calculators – however, for many players, the combination of a ‘fun’ bit of skill with about the right level outcomes makes the system preferable to rolling dice and complex charts.

Malta FP 07(sometimes the destroyer battle can get complicated: spotting and avoiding all these torpedo tracks was a challenge)

I am working on some solutions of my own to aspects of the 20th Century Fleet engagement (kaboom! near the bottom of this COW report) but it was highly entertaining to have another go at the FP game so well put together.   My thanks to all involved.

we had a few destroyers (Italian) blown out of the water, and a number of capital ships quite badly knocked about (including the Warspite) as a result of which both fleets needed to recover.

Operationally, that was something of a result for the Regia Marina and they were confident that had achieved enough to green light the invasion fleet ..

Well … that’s another story.   I am told this encounter was, of all things, an ‘equal points’ encounter – and it certainly felt a close affair.

We finished the day with some airstrikes … here one of my torpedo bombers gets through and drops its fish within a turn’s run of the target (the ship would not be able to move before the hit slams in!

Malta FP 08

A good point to wrap up my report.

You can get the Fletcher Pratt naval wargame in John Curry’s reprint

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CoW 2014 00a

Or, better, pictures from this year’s Conference of Wargamers with relevance to warfare in the mechanised age

I was busy with a number of ancient and medieval projects, so there is a main report on Ancients on the Move.   So I got so see very little of the modern stuff …

CoW 2014 09(Doodlebug down! The WDDTN ADG Doodlebuggers sees another threat neutralised)

The plenary game was a live kamikaze attack in the Pacific, and later, I got to shoot down Doodlebugs – I got the highest tally but had a lot of trouble flying through debris and getting out of my burning Spitfire.    Back gardens in Kent and Woolwich were cratered and Southend Pier was blown to smithereens … but I reckon between us we saved London.

CoW 2014 10a(we had 5 minutes in which to clear the skies of  evil Nazi wonder weapons)

You can have a crack at this at a show later in the year … The Other Partizan, next, probably (look for Wargame Developments) ..

Here is more of the death struggle between Hitler and Stalin …

CoW 2014 12(A senseless waste … German bitter enders scurry through Berlin Station to confront the invader)

CoW 2014 13

… and here is the 21st Century equivalent of a cardboard simulator (the toy-shop plastic and foam rubber simulator?

CoW 2014 14(Lawn Game Simulator: pneumatic anti-tank missile system readies) 

… and it can be beguiling how convincingly the mown grass camouflages 1:32 scale toy tanks …

CoW 2014 16

CoW 2014 17(Little Cold Wars: French ground attack mission)

CoW 2014 18a(Little Cold Wars: taking hits – the T55s attack)

CoW 2014 19(fire in the hole!: Nick Huband demonstrates the anti-tank targeting system)

Mid evening on Saturday we broke for a trip down memory lane … Jim Roche reminding us of the calendar of events from 1914 and 1944 interspersed with morale boosting or iconic songs and anthems from the war years …

IMG_7899(Just in case you didn’t know the words to the Marseillaise … ) 

… and I found a window in which to ski off piste with my pop-up Naval Game, Big Ship Battles (Kaboom!) inspired by some inexpensive ships that became available in a Pound shop

CoW BSB 02(Kaboom! with Chris K … 3 hits on my Battleship … and a level bomber coming my way …)

The game takes around half an hour at most and has none of those traditional naval game mechanisms – it did, however, work (and I am inspired to push it along another level … say, maybe a quick participation game?)

CoW BSB 03a(Kaboom!: a 2mm Bomber from Irregular Miniatures about to complete its mission)

Along with all the ancient and medieval games, that was it for my CoW 2014

2015?  Well, I hope to see you there – CoW is unique for all the right reasons, so a big thank you to all the enthusiasts who make it work!

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There was no shortage of 20th century games at this year’s COWWD Display Team North provided me with late entertainment both evenings, and I enjoyed my regular COW opportunity to play the Fletcher Pratt Naval Game with John Curry.

Graham Evans put on his much-anticipated Spanish Civil War game (Send Not to Know) with which regulars will be familiar, and Jonathan Crowe presented a neat little session on Villers Bocage … an illustrated examination of the evidence and a micro scale 1:1 canter through the engagement.

As far as ever is the case, Send Not to Know is finished now.  Graham had a full complement of players so I dropped by occasionally to watch the game but was mostly absorbed in the Franco Prussian sessions in the nearby Beech Room.

A Full House for 'Send Not to Know'

Here are some more shots from the game …

SCW: Republican Artillery

I caught this artillery battering the Fascists: a coloured marker is used to tie up the batteries with the barrages they are delivering.  Blast markers are liberally smothered over the target (according to how many guns, how many turns etc.) but the effect of these are only determined at the end of the barrage …

Moroccans under fire ..

These plucky Republicans also tried some experimental ‘combined arms’ operations, going into the attack with the direct support of a T26 … against the odds, it worked and got them some local advantage.

Unitat per la Victoria!: a brave assault charges home ...

The Fletcher Pratt naval game.

I have played in John Curry’s Fletcher Pratt games on a couple of previous occasions, but only with surface ships.  This year John introduced the air power aspect so important by WW2.  The mechanism is pretty much the same – though, due to having to guess a triangulated distance (with the bandits deliberately altering their height to confuse the gunners), the AA can be very random.

the convoy with air missions over head

The underlying mechanism is that players must place a targeting triangle beside their ship indicating the direction of fire, gunnery involved and the estimated distance …

gunnery markers: in this case, sending up flak at air missions (high up over those plinths)

… ship-to-ship, golf tees are placed to mark the splash … (here is a picture from an earlier game showing it working) …

blue tees are water splashes, red tees are hits

So something like this is not good …  (this is what Tim Gow did to one of my brave little cruisers!)

some damage just can't be fixed!

The air missions were printed strips of aircraft pegged (as deceptively as the player can manage) on those big sticks.   The relative illusions worked probably better than shows up in the pictures …

incoming air missions (I have left in the background of the Practical Room so as not to falsify the impression)

As a participation exercise amongst friends, the system worked rather well and felt quite realistic.  Bombers were lethal to ships (lighter planes less so) and heavy flak was almost always lethal to fly into … but in-game play, hitting ships was quite hard, estimating the distances for the AA very random.   You had that feeling that defenceless ships would have been sitting ducks.

In truth, I’m not convinced this game is anything but a bit of fun … it will always go to the best guesser (the best estimator of the distances involved of course, and I’m not saying that’s always guesswork ...), not the best tactician.  And, of course, by the period modelled, genuine guesswork had been taken out of naval gunnery.

However, as a quick start ‘semi rational’ game mechanism it seems to give the right amount of variability without too much rules intrusion.  So, a good game, and a good way to get people thinking.

Villers Bocage

I enjoyed this little game by Jonathan Crowe … 6mm tanks, but 1:1 and personalised …

Villers Bocage: overview

This session started with a short description of how the designer pieced the game (table, positions and orbats) together … including illustrating what the bombers did (making ‘piecing together’ exactly that …) and how he constructed a table effect from google ‘satellite’ images.

Villers Bocage: the miniature layout

(looks good, doesn’t it?  Printed sheets and little toys – smoke and mirrors, almost …)

Then we got turns to take some rolls in the engagement.  Clearly, it starts with Wittmann and co on the rampage, and with the British mixture of tanks and softskins set up like a coconut shy.  However, there are chances that they will make a mistake and places to hide in the side streets (if your tank survives the opening sweeps).

So the game presented a challenge to both sides: to Wittmann, how much can you take out and how long will you stay in the game?; to the Brits … how plucky will you be with what you have left?  Can you find that elusive ‘rear shot’?

In both run throughs, the Germans probably hung around too long, and the Brits were  possibly a little to quick into the ‘cat and mouse’ (that said, there was bravery as well as incompetence on the day) …

a nice side shot!

I got to throw for the last shot of the session, and took out Wittmann’s Tiger at point-blank (still needed a 10, I think, on 2 D6) … it might not have been the last shot had I failed of course) … Still, I had also managed to sneak a Cromwell round the back to snipe on what I thought might be an obvious line of withdrawal …

I wouldn’t say this has changed my decisions about scales … nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised by this intelligent and informative session, enjoyed the quick game and liked the little toys.

These are, of course, the first tiny tanks I have featured on P.B.Eye-Candy and the pictures have come out better than I expected …

For more about COW, there is a general report here, on Ancients on the Move

… and a feature on the Naseby visit and game that I put on over the weekend (here, on ECW BATTLES)

See also

Tim Gow’s Megablitz and More (here), (here), (here) and (here)

Bob Cordery’s Wargaming Miscellany (here)

Trebian’s Wargaming for Grown Ups (here), (here) and (here)

Tom’s photopage (here)


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