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Archive for the ‘Winter’ Category

Moscow 2016 01

So after a short gap whilst NQM Chris has been building his new wargames room (see the NQM blog, various entries), action around Moscow 1942 has resumed (you can imagine there has been desultory fighting since the last episode while the forces regroup …) …

This was very much a leisurely picking up of threads but we got some sharp actions fought through as the snow camo Russians pushed in on the outer zones of their capital …

Moscow 2016 02(15mm Russians … Peter Pig, Battlefront and vehicles by mixed manufacturers … assault the outskirts of Moscow)

Shrewd observers will see my recently acquired and reviewed Zvezda T60 getting its tabletop blooding, middle shot, driving in over the anti-tank defences in the first close assault of the game.  Getting new toys into action is always a pleasing moment for me as a collector/player.

Moscow 2016 05

Of course these winter warriors were fairly light and mobile and against dug in defenders, the fighting was slow and attritional (and by the end of our session, only the outer trench lines had been cleared out) …

We did get some proper NQM mobile warfare, however, as some outlying formations were encircled and overrun …

Moscow 2016 03a(NQM: tank divisional action in open country)

Moscow 2016 04(contact!)

Moscow 2016 04a(encirclement!)

We were also able to pick up the attacks on the city from the previous game so, as befits NQM, got 3 or 4 actions running simultaneously in a fairly fluid treatment of the battlespace.

I will be following the NQM blog as Chris has planned running a few more days of action on the board before boxing the kit back up – so watch this space …

Moscow 2016 07a(NQM Moscow: as the collage shows, Chris gave the chance to sprinkle a few new accessions around the table which all adds to the effect)

So, Divisional artillery and motorised infantry next … and my operational level Russian forces will be nearing completion.  And good to get some motivation from playing the game.

Look forward to a number of new completions featuring here shortly.

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Moscow 2015 01

Here’s a quick photo diary of our Christmas NQM episodic Eastern Front game in the new extended Chateau K …

I’ve subtitled it Festung Moskau as that’s the way it seems to be going … we played about 5 days of the operation and it looks as if Moscow will be cut of as comrade Stalin has ordered …

Moscow has been in German hands for years, and the front line runs along the Volga canal – the Germans seem to want to hold it over the Winter …

Moscow 2015 02

I joined the game for a few days as crumbling attacks wore down the enemy all along the front with 1st and 3rd shock armies poised to break through weakening sectors.

I am sure more precise details can be followed on the NQM blog … it is all carefully managed despite its freewheeling appeal …

Moscow 2015 03(Chris gives the operational briefing on the big magnetic map)

So, here’s a player’s flavour of what happened …

Moscow 2015 04(Moscow suburbs and Gorky Park in the background … attacks fix the Germans in place … ) 

Meanwhile to the South Army Reserve Breakthrough Artillery move up to prepare the attack …

Moscow 2015 06(everything including the kitchen sink – well, including a speed boat flotilla for when the ice melts – pulls up to the start lines)

Meanwhile a gap had appeared to the South allowing the Guards Division to flood through and assault the airfield …

Moscow 2015 07

… and the static front started to tilt in the Red Army’s favour …

So the cavalry then broke through and the Tank  Divisions were unleashed … The Germans started pulling worn units out of the line to reform them …

Moscow 2015 08(Armoured Train and air units give support)

Moscow 2015 09(breakthrough!)

Over the next day or so, reserve units move up to support new attack into the city ..

Moscow 2015 10(Female soldier on point duty managing traffic at the bridgehead)

… and a bloody attack completed this phase of the operation …

Moscow 2015 11

… the sector was very well supported so Vodka and Accordions were brought up to bolster the troops for the coming struggle …

Moscow 2015 12(morale boosting at the captured airfield) 

… and at dawn the concrete began to shatter under dive bomb and howitzer bombardment before the firefight and attacks went in …

Moscow 2015 13(Festung Moskau: Red Guards take the South East suburbs)

Whilst the gravity was shifting in the South, North of the city more artillery and Sturmovik attacks were pummelling the defenders …

Moscow 2015 14

… progress remained slow …

… and the defenders in Gorky Park remained steadfast …

Moscow 2015 15(Festung Moskau: stand off at Gorky Park)

To Be Continued … thanks Chris, great game so far – and Happy New Year to all you P.B.Eye-Candy regulars …

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Apologies to regular visitors for the long break in posting … The Society of Ancients BattleDay and the Museum and Gallery’s Friends AGM have dominated the agenda for the Spring …

Zis-22 01

This quick note could be entitled ‘tired of waiting’ as Zvezda did list a Zis-42 half track (I think for release in 2012) but it seemed to drop of any schedule subsequently … so, always keen on variety, and wanting more winter gear,  I have made my own.

Almost everything that isn’t Zvezda’s original plastic is thin or thick card, I opened up the windows and put a small plastic one at tilt on the windscreen.  And there is a Milliput insulation jacket over the engine.

I took some photos along the way so will try to assemble them into a feature on the modelling page.

Zis-22 02

Zis-22 03

Some features were fiddly on this ‘figure it out as you go’ project – and I might do things differently if I need any more.  Then again, I think it looks like a  reasonable 1:100 version of the original (and is a tick in another box)

Zis-22 04

Museum Zis(Zis-42 in winter mode)

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Being a Cold War seasonal entertainment staged for the MondayNight group …

BGD ISCF 01

The game combined some elements of the celebrated Operation Cold Feet and some real and fictional mayhem from Ice Station Zebra.    The rules were AK-47 classic with a few scenario tweaks  (plus a personal EDNA die roll which was set too easy so allowed a fair degree of role play to direct the narratives*).

AK-47, of course, is designed for Post War semi-historical African Warlord battles … but in its earlier format (sometimes referred to as classic) has a simple and swashbuckling style that translated comfortably from the savannah to ice flow.   3 of the 4 players were new to it but picked it pretty quickly.

BGD ISCF 05(Ice Station Cold Feet)

Briefly, something has fallen out of the sky somewhere on the ice flow, and a Soviet Ice Station has gone off line.   Nato has sent a mission to find out what is going on – and maybe gather some goodies.

ice station zebra poster

The Nato mission is … parachute in – find and check out the Ice Station – skyhook out any sensitive gear** – RV with the submarine for extraction …

There is a Soviet mission which is after the same materials and is charged with denying the Nato mission.

BGD ISCF 04(the Nato troops dropped successfully close to the station and only lost one member on the ice)

BGD ISCF 06

BGD ISCF 07(Nato operatives secure the Ice Station and search for clues)

Soviets at Zebra

There then followed a preposterous aside where they find a dead Soviet astronaut who has crawled in for shelter … In the ‘real’ narrative, it is a spy satellite, but Ian, on his departure, passed me some old Airfix astronauts which he not found a use for for years, so I painted one up and got him straight into a game (however circuitously).

BGD ISCF 08

(Space debris found at Ice Station Cold Feet)

By this stage the Russians were aware they were coming second in the race and had begun to mortar the Station and called up reinforcements …

BGD ISCF 09(the Soviet team were quickly reinforced by a 1940s style detachment of ski troops and aerosans)

And everyone was surprised when some light tanks turned up to support the Nato contingent.   A miniature battle on the ice broke out and a couple of airstrikes caused havoc (the professional Soviet special force had few heavy weapons, but proved good at rolling the ‘Double Four’ with their small arms fire – which in AK-47 wins then an airstrike special effect: very handy when you have some tanks to quieten down!***)

BGD ISCF 10

(Cold War: battle on the ice)

By this stage the Nato force was having problems … the skyhook mission had been aborted due to the presence of enemy Ground Attack fighters over the RV so everything would have to go out by submarine …

BGD ISCF 12(Cold War getting hotter … Flogger strike coming in on the Nato tank support)

But, thinly disguised as Soviet, the extraction team shows up in the nick of time (and the random roll put it very nearly adjacent to the the Nato team which was all but pushed off the end of the ice) …

BGD ISCF 11a

I won’t include full details of the debrief (as we may run the game again, so reserve the right to recycle some of the twists) but we ended up with a clear outcome for the mission and a thumbs up from the players who seemed to have got into the swing of things.

Of course both sides subsequently denied everything and such is the nature of the pack ice that eventually it will all have disappeared without a trace …

BGD ISCF 13(Ice Station Cold Feet: a last man seen leaving the chaos)

AK-47 ‘classic’ seemed to work very well for this freewheeling evening game … and has a ‘cope with anything’ simplicity that enables the game to bundle along …

*******

*purely to avoid those catastrophes where players get killed early on, everyone was allowed a ‘get out of jail’ argument plus an edna roll – as nobody failed the rolls, that aspect morphed harmlessly into a more ‘matrix’ style mechanism and allowed players a little role play.

** the Fulton Skyhook … it was real but had to be aborted due to the crowded skies ..

***basically we played all the bits of AK’s main rules bar we ignored the ‘choice’ morale test (so as to keep the small number of units we were using all in the game – for a good while at least) …

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Cold War comes to P.B.Eye-Candy

Nov 05(Man in Parka from Khurasan Miniatures)

I have taken a quick look at some recently arrived arctic guys … currently top feature on the Reviews page …

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3 9 Part 2 01

This was the concluding part of a PBI scenario we started earlier in the month.   After a stumbling start, the Red Army paras and ski troops were reinforced with a column of tanks and some accompanying rifle sections.

Although they had let the Russians take control of the mud road, the Germans were stubbornly dug in around the fuel dump in the woods, and had a platoon of scouts in half tracks plus some light armour just off table.

3 9 Part 2 02

This phase opened with an airstrike by the VVS who have just taken delivery of some new LAGGs and Airacobras (as in … I put my latest toys on the table) …

Following the standard assets procedure (dicing for deviation), this went way off target and hit a section of paras (blue on blue) hiding in some adjacent trees.

The Russians got their tanks quickly on table and rolled into the assault.

3 9 Part 2 03(Russian Tanks and Riflemen sweep up to the German positions)

After losses to preparatory shooting, the German position was left mostly being held by Officer bases (Platoon Commander, Company Commander), but with some effective use of the SMG, and closed terrain, they were able to bounce the first wave assault.

Unfortunately, the German reinforcements just made it onto the table in time to see the second wave break over the position.  Two hits killed the Officers (hits in the assault cannot be saved if foot groups)  yielding the objective to the attackers.

3 9 Part 2 04(T-70s get the job done, helping the infantry break into the position … PP figures and PSC tanks)

The Germans had put up a good fight, hanging on til the half tracks appeared.

The counterattack faltered with a mix of good and bad Action Points (3 of 7 vehicles rolled very poorly so could not exploit the exposed sides of the thinly armoured Russian tanks) …

Some enterprising armoured scouts managed to break through with an effective mix of MG42 and Panzerfaust, brewing one of the T-70s on the way … only then to be destroyed by opportunity fire from the other …  The woods were filling up with wrecks and casualties …

3 9 Part 2 05a(the smoke denotes the vehicle is destroyed; the fire marker reminds me it happened this turn – re next morale phase)

My new armoured car failed to dislodge some paras hunkered down around the road bridge, a flamethrowing half track missed, and the Platoon Commander’s carrier with a (Gun Effect 7) PzB rolled insufficient points to fire it – so sat staring at the rear ‘armour’ of  an Aerosan.

Hmm…  All bad luck, but I guess the Russians would have described these as Winter Germans.

These reverses let the Russians reorganise after their assaults, drop into defensible squares, and persuaded the Germans that they would have to pull out whatever they could salvage: the battle was over.

3 9 Part 2 06(The Return of Winter: a battle won)

Apologies that between the two parts, the battlefield and some of the figures changed … I left some boxes at HQ and had to improvise – but we were able to retain the core layout balance and starting positions.

We had 4 players for this part of the game and played for around 2 hours which disappeared almost unnoticed (which is a credit to PBI and the snowy scenario) … it seemed to engage the players and had a good mix of content including some nail-biting combined assaults, some narrow escapes, some blue-on-blue and some big hits.

Great game … I think I need to post a synopsis of where we are with PBI.

3 9 Part 2 05b(PBI: The Return to Winter Part 2)

SS Panzer Division Wiking Tscherkassy

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3 9 Ski Attack game 01B

We cooled off a very warm September evening with some further adventures on the Eastern Front.

The game was a dawn variant of the airborne scenario I have run a couple of times previously

3 9 Ski Attack game 05

(Battlefront Quad AA, PP Russians with a minitanks cannon, converted toy shop plane)

Background: research shows that the Red Army’s main use of parachute troops in airborne operations was as a way of achieving deeper penetration during the Winter months, when other offensives were severely limited by weather.    The insertions were often planned to be met by ground troops and Partisans, and it does seem that the dropping could be haphazard.

Here, as part of a wider operation, the paras attempt to link with a detachment of Ski Troops who are engaging a supply dump in the forest.

3 9 Ski Attack game 01A

The Ski Troops come on at the bottom, the paras dropping within the ringed DZ.

The three objectives they were given are marked with red stars.  

The Germans opted to defend a compact perimeter (ringed in black) and let the Russians come on to them – presumably planning to deny the other objectives by counterattacks.   They had two scary Quad 20 AA guns dug in defending the dump.

The Russians chose to drop at dawn, giving one turn of reduced visibility, hoping this would mean the paras wouldn’t be cut to shreds, ‘Arnhem-style’, as they drifted down (which had been their fate, last time, when the dropped too near the objective).   On turn one, visibility was limited to one square.

TERRAIN FOR THE GAME

I’m still working on terrain ideas …  for this game I tried laying the snow tiles out on a blue cloth (which saves them rocking and sliding) with a river edge cut back so the blue shows.    Then the river is cluttered up with chopped shards of laminated paper to suggest broken ice.   I’ve pinched the idea from something I saw on the Perfect Captain‘s site (I think).   Anyway,  we all thought it worked quite well.

Winter Warfare: Ski Troops approach an icy river ...

Winter Warfare: Ski Troops approach an icy river …

(QRF Aerosans, converted PP Skiers)

I also played about with sculpting a hill that I could drop some 6″ area tiles into (so it would be part terrain piece, part tiling system).   So far so good.  Hills are rarely seen on PBI boards although they are covered in the rules.    You need to shape them and place them so how they block line of sight is intuitive and feels right.

Tile/hill: on the desk and on the table)

Tile/hill: on the desk and on the table)

BACK TO THE GAME

The game started in partial darkness and the TB-3s came in …

archive cap a

3 9 Ski Attack game 02

Dropping parachute infantry in the first wave …

archive cap b

… and a T-60 tank by glider in the second wave …

3 9 Ski Attack game 03

The paras hit the drop zone bang on, and – for the first time, ever – the tank safely crash-landed without any dramas (they appear to be getting the hang of it).

Due to the limited visibility, the paras took no incoming fire during the descent and took few casualties hitting the ground (three of the 4 squares had minor issues – which gives them a ‘pin’ result) but one soldier was fatally injured … which was inconvenient as it was the Platoon Commander.

The attempt to bump up a successor failed (which is annoying), and I overruled a subsequent failure which was excessive (Russian rolls: 1 saving on the drop; 2 on the attempt to replace; 2 on the next attempt to replace).

There were a couple of sections of leaderless infantry in the woods, and the Russian players now attempted to  replace their Platoon Commander – but failed (and again, I overruled a second failure – Russian rolls for this platoon 2; second attempt 1)

3 9 Ski Attack game 06

(German AA gun position comes under mortar attack)

Meanwhile the Ski Troops moved up using their first turn movement advantage to attempt to jump the German perimeter.

Unfortunately, the Aerosans, which could have helped give cover, had whizzed off towards the river, and the Germans proved to be surprisingly alert.   They got off some accurate Opportunity Fire and the Russians failed their saving rolls.  

Unlucky Ivan!

Day had broken, and under normal visibility the Germans were getting worn down, but although his comrades were still sorting out leadership issues, one of the Aerosan commanders decided to try out the enemy defences (and test the ‘armour’ of his sled).

Rather than use the rail embankment as partial cover, he decided to whizz along it, going for the bridge and attempting to shoot up the enemy command post.  That meant going at close range and fully exposed, into the fire of a Quad 20mm AA autocannon (and, contemptuously – bravely or foolishly – he did not even shoot at it in self defence …) …

Aerosan vs multiple autocannon at point blank

Aerosan vs multiple autocannon at point blank

The hamster-bedding probably fails adequately to capture what really happened to the aerosan.

This phase of the battle was stalemated … the Russians were in a mess but had two of the objectives … the Germans were taking losses but still firmly in control of their main position.    Both sides were looking to reinforcements for some extra impetus.

To be continued …

********

Replacing Commanders … we will change this to a ‘dice again’ alternative if you fail (so the platoon will upgrade, but the new leader might not be where the player would like).    I also think I will use the same process for saves on the parachute landing so the PC is never lost – I am convinced by the various arguments that airborne troops were expressly trained to cope with this, given the variables of their particular mode of warfare.

Darkness: the simplistic dawn mechanism gave one square of visiblity … this was a great help to the paras, but the ground troops quickly discovered that it meant holding back for a turn or coming into the (PBI) Op Fire zone in order to see sufficiently to be able to lay down their own fire.   In the game they were unlucky with the dice that followed.   I’m not sure I am unhappy with this but will give it some thought.

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