Wednesday, 20 February 2019

My fourth batch of renovated 20mm-scale Russian figures

The fourth batch of Russian 20mm-scale World War II figures from my collection that have been renovated, varnished, and re-based were all manufactured by Britannia Miniatures.

I now hope to start work on renovating some of the Axis figures in my collection.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

My current projects

During a brief break in what seems to have been a rather busy time, I decided to record the progress I have made on various projects.

MASTERS AT WAR: VOLUME 2: 1920 to 1970
The first draft of the completed book is in the process of being proof read ... but some very recent research means that I am going to add an additional, short chapter. I discovered that two members of the Hertfordshire Masters' Lodge No.4090 were awarded the George Medal during the Second World War, and felt that although they never served as Worshipful Masters of the Lodge, a re it'd of their bravery had to be included.

I've almost finished renovating, varnishing, and basing the initial group of Russian figures from my collection, and I hope to begin moving on to some of my Axis figures.

I have just completed the research stage of this project, and can begin work on writing the last chapter of this book. (The draft of the earlier chapters was completed last year, and I've had to wait until the Lodge Minute Book could be loaned to me before I could complete my research.) With luck, the final draft will be ready for proof reading by the end of March ... which will be almost a year before it will need to be published.

I've begun jotting down some ideas for my next PORTABLE WARGAME book, and once some of my other projects are finished or are close to being finished, I hope to be able to concentrate on this project. One byproduct of this note-taking and the recent online imagi-nations discussion has been a re-examination of the stuff I used to have on my old COLONIAL WARGAMING website.

The opening webpage of my old COLONIAL WARGAMING website.
Although some of it will be re-usable in the book, a lot of it will not be ... but anything that I think might be of interest to my regular blog readers will hopefully re-appear on this blog in some form or another.

In addition to all of the above, I am booked to do at least one Masonic talk each week for the next two months and I am hoping to buy a new car to replace my trusty but ageing Toyota Prius. (A Lexus CT200h is the most likely replacement that Sue and I will choose because it is similar to the Prius.) Throw in the normal calls that one has on one's time (eating, shopping, sleeping, going on holiday), and I expect to have a busy few months ahead of me.

Monday, 18 February 2019

I have been to ... Cartagena Military Museum: Medium Artillery

The examples of Medium Artillery on display in the museum reflects the somewhat diverse origins of Spanish Army equipment during the twentieth century.

127mm 60-pounder BL Armstrong Gun Mod.1912
A British-designed gun that was developed from the extemporised 4.7-inch (127mm) guns used during the Boer War.

155/13 Schneider Mod.1917 155mm Howitzer
A French-designed gun that was the standard Spanish Army medium gun during the 1930s.

122/46 Mod.1931 122mm Medium Gun
This Russian-designed gun was bought by the Spanish Army from Germany. The guns had been captured during and after the Axis invasion of Russia in 1941.

150/24 Schneider Mod.1942 150mm Gun
This gun was manufactured in Spain by combining the carriage of the 155/13 Schneider Mod.1917 155mm Howitzer with a new, long barrel. The actual barrel calibre is 149.1mm.

150/55 Mod.1854 'Rheinmetall' 150mm Gun
These guns were bough from German after the Spanish Civil War and modified and modernised in 1954.

155/23 Mod.M-1 155mm Howitzer
This US-designed howitzer was used extensively by the United States, NATO nations (including Spain), and many other armies across the world.

On display in the museum's courtyard is an example of a 155/13 Schneider Mod.1917 155mm Howitzer mounted on a small, wheeled dolly so that it can be towed by a motor vehicle rather than a horse team.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Some of my imagi-nations

Every so often I see an online discussion about whether or not wargamers should create imagi-nations as locations for their armies to inhabit, protect, and fight over. There are some wargamers who are heartily in favour of imagi-nations (I am one of them), and others who loath them.

Over the years I have created and used quite a few imagi-nations, and amongst them are three African colonies or countries: British Dammallia, German Mankanika, and the Sultanate of Marizbar. They owe there origins (and inspiration) to the late Eric Knowles, and I was looking at the maps of each of them recently. It struck me that I have never shared them via my blog ... so here goes!

British Dammallia

German Mankanika

The Sultanate of Marzibar

All the maps shown above can be enlarged by clicking on them.
If the opportunity arises, I will share some more information about these imagi-nations.

These maps were originally featured on my now-defunct COLONIAL WARGAMING website, along with some battle reports and other information about these countries in particular and Colonial wargaming (and military forces) in general.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

An online discussion about my Portable Napoleonic Wargame rules

Over the past few days I have been conducting an online discussion with the owner of the WARGAMING EVERYTHING blog.

He wrote a very honest review of the rules ... which he did not particularly like, especially the Close Combat system and some aspects of the musketry and artillery rules. In his conclusions he wrote:
The above depicted melee was what broke it for me. The way modifiers work, the Russian flanking unit is less susceptible to lose men when flanking. So far so good. But is the French unit in dire straights for being flanked and in combat against two enemies? No, it isn’t. In fact the rather slim chances of losing men are further reduced to a 1 in 6 by the general supporting the French. They can literally fight for a dozen turns without effect while on other parts of the battlefield a unit can be shot to pieces quickly. Not to say that the artillery and musketry modifiers are more to my liking.

Adding to that, I can pretty much play many rules systems with a 1-2 page rules overview (QRS) but the rules layout of this book is standing in the way of clarity in my opinion. Said modifiers are formulated in lists of whole sentences which have to re-read quite a few times to find the ones that apply. A QRS is not included. There are good parts though. The decisions to suffer casualties vs push back tied to unit experience is a clever mechanic forcing the players to make though choices. In the end, though, I will rather move on to other rules that work in my opinion.
I like good, honest criticism, especially when – as in this case – the person making the criticism has spent time looking at the way the rules operate and the mathematics behind the mechanisms used. I have answered the points he has raised in my comments on his blog, but I suspect that we are never going to agree. However, looking at the points he raised has made me re-examine the thinking behind the way I designed my rules, and I am still happy with the way that they work.

To date I have not produced a QRS for my rules because the feedback I have had from players is that they don’t need one as they can pick-up the main points after a couple of turns. I will, however, give the matter some thought if there is sufficient demand to make producing one worthwhile.

Friday, 15 February 2019

A birthday present to myself

Just over a week ago I 'celebrated' my birthday. (I have managed to get sixty-nine years on the clock, which isn't bad for someone who spends most of their life sitting down at a computer writing or at a table painting toy soldiers!) I got lots of interesting and useful presents (including a new bridge camera for taking loads of photographs whilst we are on cruises) but nothing really 'wargamery'.

Nigel Drury (whom I have know for many years and who is one of my regular blog readers) directed my attention towards a chessboard that was on sale on Amazon ... and I was so impressed with it that I bought one form myself for my birthday.

The board is sold by Brimtoy, is 42cm x 42cm, is inlaid with Maple & Walnut hardwood squares, and is double-sided.

It has a standard 8 x 8 chessboard grid on one side ...

... and a 10 x 10 Polish checkers grid on the other.

I am already thinking of ways to use the two different grids (other than what they are designed for, of course!) but for the time being the board is sitting in my toy/wargames room until I have enough space of the tabletop to try it out.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

I have been to ... Cartagena Military Museum: Field and Mountain Artillery

The museum has a large collection of historic field and mountain artillery, some of which was supplied during the Spanish Civil War and some which was home-designed and built.

77/24 nA Mod.1896 77mm Field Gun
The standard German Army field gun at the beginning of the First World War.

77/32 Mod.FK16 77mm Field Gun
This was developed from the 77/24 nA Mod.1896, and became the German Army's standard field gun by the end of the First World War.

75/27 Mod.1911 'Deport'-system 75mm Field Gun
A French-designed gun that was manufactured by the Italians, mainly for use by Horse Artillery units.

105/28 Mod.1913 105mm Howitzer
French-designed and built by the Italians, these guns were supplied to the Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War.

100/17 Mod.1914 100mm Howitzer

105/30 Mod.1940 105mm Howitzer
A British design that was built in Spain. The original Vickers design shared much in common with what became the British 25-pounder field gun.

105/26 Mod.1950 105mm Howitzer
The design was developed from the standard German 105mm howitzer used during the Second World War and supplied to Spain.

105/11 Mod.1919 105mm Mountain Howitzer
Designed by Schneider, it became the Spanish Army's standard mountain howitzer.

75/22 75mm Mountain Gun

75/22 Mod.1951 75mm Mountain Gun
Developed from the earlier design, it had a new carriage and redesigned barrel that made it easier to use and to tow by motor vehicle.

105/14 Mod.1956 105mm Mountain Howitzer
Designed by OTO Melera, this became the standard NATO light field howitzer, and remains in use across the world.

65/17 Mod.1913 65mm Infantry Gun
An Italian design based upon an earlier French one.

75/13 Mod.1945 75mm Infantry Gun
A Spanish design that drew on their experience of using different artillery pieces supplied during and after the Spanish Civil War.

A number of other pieces of field and mountain artillery are on display in the courtyard of the museum.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

My third batch of renovated 20mm-scale Russian figures

The most recent batch of figures I have finished renovating, varnishing, and re-basing are something of an enigma as I cannot remember where or when I bought most of them. They include thirteen factory militia/partisans (one of whom is an officer), a light machine gunner, and three officers manufactured by Britannia Miniatures.

In particular, the militia/partisans will be quite a useful addition to my collection as they can be used to bulk out any units defending a built-up area or to work behind enemy lines attacking supply routes etc.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Miniature Wargames 431

The latest issue of this magazine arrived on Friday, and I have managed to read it over the past few days.

The articles included in this issue are:
  • Welcome (i.e. the editorial) by John Treadaway
  • Forward observer
  • Send three and fourpence: How not to write a wargame scenario: The Battle of the Alma: Part Two by Conrad Kinch
  • The Battle of Kings Mountain: Developing a set of rules to fight battles in the American War of Independence by Dave Tuck, with photographs map, and terrain by Malc Johnston
  • Take me to the river: Race to the Dan River February 1781 by Jon Sutherland, with photographs by Diane Sutherland
  • Cobrar Mambises!: An engagement in the Ten Years' War in 19th century Cuba by Glenn Clarke
  • Darker Horizons
    • Fantasy Facts
    • If you go down to The Woods tonight ...: The Woods: an ancient story, a classic feel, a new breed of miniatures game by Geoff Simms
    • Creating the Night Stalkers: An interview with Manic Games by James Dyson, with photographs by Manic Games
    • Gaslands: Customise and print a 3D model by James Floyd Kelly
  • Tigers at Minsk: Hex-based rules and terrain for this epic clash by Mike Jones of the Crawley Wargames Club
  • Surviving Stalingrad: Setting the scene for this titanic struggle by Kevin Preston, with photographs by John Treadaway
  • Recce
  • An unexpected site: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
As usual, Conrad Kinch's Send three and fourpence was a good read ... but so was almost everything in this issue. I am always on the look-out for possible scenarios, and Jon Sutherland's Take me to the river looks like one that I could re-fight using figures from my Napoleonic collection. I also always enjoy reading other people's rules, especially if they explain them clearly ... and Dave Tuck's The Battle of Kings Mountain certainly does that and contains another short scenario I might be able to use.

For those wargamers who – like me – are always on the look-out for something different on the Colonial wargaming front, Glenn Clarke's Cobrar Mambises! covered a period that I knew little about, but which has potential to be something a bit different to try. The two Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War articles – Mike Jones' Tigers at Minsk and Kevin Preston's Surviving Stalingrad – both 'hit the spot', especially as I am in the midst of renovating some of my 20mm-scale Russian World War 2 wargames figures, and have some German opponents sitting in the wings awaiting their turn.

I must admit that after my disappointment with the last issue, this one has given me far more to get my teeth into, and from my own personal point of view, it gets a 10 out of 10 for value for money.

Monday, 11 February 2019

Itchy & Scratchy combat system revisited

One of the sets of rules that I wrote during the development of my original PORTABLE WARGAME rules were called ITCHY AND SCRATCHY. They used a combat system based on an idea that came from Archduke Piccolo, namely relating the arrangement of the pips on a D6 die to the standard NATO tactical map signs.




Whilst I've been renovating my 20mm-scale Russian figures, I've been thinking about using a modified version of the original ITCHY AND SCRATCHY Combat Results Table in place of the existing combat system used in my PORTABLE WARGAME rules. The revised Combat Results Table (CRT) looks like this:

(You will note that this CRT is designed to be used with tanks etc. This was because I was thinking about how to use the individually-based figures I was renovating in a wargame. The CRT could easily be used with Horse and Musket armies with very little modification.)

The number of D6 dice thrown by a unit depends upon the range the units is firing at.

  1. The numbers show how many D6 dice are thrown at different ranges.
  2. The asterisk (*) indicates the number of D6 dice thrown in Close Combat (i.e. in combat with an enemy unit in an adjacent or the same grid area).
Thus, an Infantry unit firing at an enemy Cavalry unit at a range of 2 grid areas throws 4 D6s. If the D6 dice scores are 2, 2, 5, and 6, then the Cavalry unit is hit. Had the Cavalry unit been in cover, the unit would not have been hit.

I'm not sure if this will work any better or worse that the existing PORTABLE WARGAME combat systems, but it has given me some food for thought.