Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Thoughts on the Jutland Project

With work on the capital ship element of the Jutland project resuming once again (or more accurately speeding up from dead slow) I have again been thinking about the thorny subject of light cruisers and destroyers in the game. There is no doubt that the capital ships will be the stars but the supporting cast must also have their fifteen minutes so to speak.

I have previously mentioned that I will be scaling the numbers down for these elements - in the case of the destroyers this decision has been taken out of necessity as some of the types are simply unavailable in 1/2400th - and have more of less settled on cutting the light cruiser numbers in half. I am undecided about destroyers though.

For a variety of reasons many of the naval games I have fought over the years have usually featured a massed destroyer based torpedo attack. Destroyers then assume an importance in a fleet action out of all proportion to their actual abilities. Of course they are an essential element of a battle fleet but I am unconvinced that many rule sets 'dumb them down' sufficiently when used in large actions. I recall reading that at Jutland a little over a hundred torpedoes were launched in the battle and that the hit ratio was something around the five percent level. This is hardly the great torpedo fest that a wargame would routinely feature!

My feeling is that the threat of a torpedo attack was far greater than the actual effect and so I will aim to factor this in to the rules I ultimately decide upon. The Avalon Hill game Jutland allows for commanders to turn away from a torpedo attack this nullifying it and this works well enough.

Taking all this into consideration I shall be using representative bases for the destroyers based on their actual composition which will cut the number of models down and also ensure that that destroyers are handled with a little finesse than is usual. Torpedoes are effective when they hit - I just do not want that to be too easy to do so.

More to follow and much to ponder methinks....

Sunday, 26 October 2014

H.M.A.S. Australia and Friends

H.M.A.S. Australia in all her 1/2400th glory. She will have a couple of light cruisers and four destroyers for company - just the thing for chasing down German raiders in the Pacific.

After what seems like an age I have finally completed the six early Battle Cruisers for the Royal Navy and that of Australia. Of the two classes - the earlier Invincible and the later Indefatigable - five were present at Jutland (with one from each class being sunk) but I wanted H.M.A.S Australia for my small Antipodean squadron that will be serving in a planned Pacific based 'hunt the raider' type scenario. A potted history of her career can be found here - H.M.A.S. Australia 1911

The other two ships in the class - with apologies for the ever-so-slightly blurred picture. 

The earlier Invincible class. The Indefatigable class was not a great improvement over these ships - it was only when the Lion type came along was any real advance in the battle cruiser concept from the Royal Navy perspective.

H.M.S. Invincible - lead ship of the class and lost at Jutland.

 H.M.S. Indefatigable - lead ship of the class and lost at Jutland. 

The two lead ships from each class for comparison purposes.

The six models are from Panzerschiffe in the US and, if I am honest, are fairly basic even by their standards. I suspect that these are old molds and the presence of some odd pieces of flash and sink holes would tend to confirm this. The rear funnels on the Indefatigable class is a little odd on a couple of the models and is canted over slightly. There is also the curse of the partially cast gun barrel in evidence. Panzerschiffe are happy to exchange models that are not up to standard due to casting problems but if I am honest the hassle of organising transatlantic replacements is not worth it as they are not that bad and have painted up well enough.

I used my usual black undercoat and dry brush in various shades of grey with block painted decks and lifeboats. All were finished in enamels except for the ship's lifeboats which are in white Vallejo acrylic.

As an aside I was really impressed with the Vallejo paint and intend a phased conversion to using them for all my painting going forward - how about that for dragging my painting into the 21st century at long last?!

I now have 14 capital ships remaining for the RN and 13 for the Germans before I tackle the cruisers and destroyers. The next batch of the RN ships (8 in total) are now under way and have had the preliminary grey dry brushing so I am hoping to get them completed over the coming week.

Rather nice and well made - I may even play chess on it....

A very simple looking game by a company I have never heard of....

....but take a look at the map! Instant imagi-nation if ever I saw one! It was also very good value at a mere 75p.

On a separate subject the outdoor boot sale season is winding down but we have a local indoor version that whilst being small has turned up a couple of goodies over the years. Today was no exception as I picked up a rather useful chess board with 6cm squares and a rather handy board game. the chess board will be seeing service for a number of Portable Wargame type ideas and the board game has a very nice hex based mounted map of a fantasy style world. No prizes for guessing what that may be used for!

Saturday, 11 October 2014

4, 3, 2....The Devil May Care

My word how time flies! Since my last post on 28/09 a few things have been on the go but it has been largely underwhelming on the gaming front - much planning and thinking of great thoughts has been the order of the day - with little else to show for it.

Not a bad read - although even for me it is a little cliche-ridden!

I have been extensively gaming albeit in a rather unusual fashion. One of the chaps at the office introduced me to a very good Chess 'app' - Chess with Friends by Zynga - and I have been playing him relentlessly for some time now. I expect most gamers have (or are still playing) played Chess at some point and there are obvious war game connections. It as been challenging and a good work out for the grey matter - so much so that I dusted off a couple of Chess books I have in the collection - so in the absence of a wargame will suffice for my gaming fix for the time being.

I allowed myself the luxury of reading Sebastien Faulks James Bond novel - Devil May Care - and have to say that whilst I enjoyed it (being a huge Bond fan) it did seem to almost catalogue elements of every Bond story written - even using much of the same phraseology - which did grate after a while. It is a good story though and I would recommend it.

The '4, 3, 2' of the title is a reference to the way I shall be organising my 10/12mm collections and represents the ratio of foot to horse to guns I shall be using. I have opted to use 4 bases for infantry, 3 for cavalry and 2 for artillery - which is of course the system in use for pretty much all the Command and Colours system.

I have also been thinking about my ancients 'fix'. If you recall I posted on many occasions about the Greek and Persian war - culminating in Salamis as the naval option. Whilst I like the idea to tackling the armies using figures it is becoming less likely that I will. I have a couple of ideas in mind - the second Punic War for one - but I am having some serious thoughts about the wars of the late Roman Republic - the century leading up to AD. The reasons are compelling - multiple opponents ranging from the usual Celtic and Germanic hordes via Eastern armies and a whole host in between, not to mention the civil war(s). As ever, 10/12mm will be the scale of choice.

I have been pondering the whole Lion Rampant/Cross and Crescent idea and am looking to the El Cid period although the Perry late medieval plastic look really nice....;-)

No progress on the ships sadly although I have all that I need from the capital ship perspective. Time and enthusiasm have been a premium recently but I shall persevere.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Birthday travels and Books galore

The Church Oast at Herne Hill - our base for two nights

Today is my 54th birthday and for the last couple of days (well Thursday and Friday to be exact, with the return on Saturday morning) SWMBO and I have been staying in a converted Oast House in the heart of the North Kent countryside. We stayed in the tiny village of Herne Hill which is within easy distance of Faversham (the home of the Shepherd Neame brewery), Whitstable (famed of its Oysters) and of course, Canterbury -famous for being, well, Canterbury. We had a super time traveling around, eating some delicious food and enjoying the hospitality of the 700 year old Red Lion public house - located around 2 minutes from where we were staying.

The church from which the Oast takes its name - directly opposite where we were staying in fact. Its claim to fame is that it has buried within its ground some of the victims of the Battle of Bossenden Wood in 1838 - the last 'battle' fought on British soil.

The village green. The church is directly behind from where this picture was taken with the Red Lion in the distance. Note the Oak tree on the right.

The Red Lion -  every bit as good as it looks. The food was outstanding!

One of the many 'ye olde worlde type building' for which Canterbury is renowned

The main entrance to Canterbury Cathedral. Sadly we did not have time to have a look around but it is certainly one for the future. I have visited previously - back in around 1972 as I recall!

Birthday booty. Really pleased with this little haul for a variety of reasons - needless to say the project list has not gotten even more problematic....;-)

Whilst on our travels we visited a number of secondhand bookshops and the odd charity shop and so I am now the proud owner of the three titles you see above. I should point out that the Barbarossa title actually came from the Canterbury branch of the Works and I was really pleased to get this - especially as it was only £6.99 rather than the £30 cover price. Essentially is is a slightly revised and expanded version of the three Osprey campaign titles covering Barbarossa being the North, Centre and Southern sectors. The Blandford was most welcome and I was also pleased to pick up the Sharpe Companion - both of which for a couple of ideas I have kicking around. All in all then, the last few days have been very relaxing and enjoyable - with a great mixture of good food and drink, history, scenery, new books and most of all the chance to get away for a couple of days with my beloved!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

"....And so the Cid rode out of the gates of history....

....and into legend"

Just before the final scene....

El Cid is one of my favourite films and it is probably no surprise that I have often contemplated how best to game the period. There are some trulylovely figures available in 28mm his period - 11th century Spain - but given my usual aversion to such things I have managed to avoid getting involved in that particular scale - my painting skills would struggle to do the models justice in any event. Luckily those awfully nice people at Hat have come to the rescue with some 28mm hard plastic figures for the period that are relatively basic detail wise and so well within my modest skills with a brush. I shall be acquiring some tomorrow at Skirmish in Sidcup all being well.

Moors in Spain, Crusades and much more beside....

My curiosity for this period and gaming the same has been picqued by the whole Saga approach - large skirmish level really - especially the part that does not involve huge numbers of models and, via the additional set you see above, covers the era I am particularly interestd in. The new Osprey set - Lion Rampant - are also geared around games of around 40 to 60 figures a side and so are well within my capabilities.

Two such forces could also be used for anything DBA/HOTT related as well as Command and Colours.

The book you see above about El Cid is really good and I also have the title by the same author on Spartacus. I am a sucker for the historical Hollywood approach to epic battles and so my liking for the latter as well should come as no surprise! My holiday reading when In Andalucia was the Moors in Spain by Stanley Lane Poole and that also served to get the creative juices going.

I now own 40 of these shell splashes although surely they indicate misses rather than hits...?

Matters nautical have not been neglected though as I took delievery of some splash markers from Litko in the US. They are rather nice and are posed artfully alongside the German battle cruiser Seydlitz - presumably before her customary battering at the hands of the RN....

Saturday, 13 September 2014

It was a sale that grew in the selling....

The last of the 20mm WW1 Middle Eastern collection has finally been sold and so at last I am able to report about the plans and acquisition arising from this. I have a number of projects that need some bits and pieces to finish them off and so this has been, for the most part, attended to. The main beneficiaries are as follows:
  • The Jutland project. I have ordered the RN armoured cruisers and also the representative light cruisers for both sides. I have decided to go with formation bases for the light cruiser units - usually depicted with a single model and with a couple of models for the destroyer forces.
  • Saga. This is very much a long term project and I have acquired both the basic rules, one of the expansions and the Crusades version. The latter is probably going to be the main focus although the idea of some Vikings is a an attractive one. I plan to tackle these in 28mm to take advantage of some of the really nice plastic figures around although the Crusades version may see me raiding the Hat hard plastic 28mm 'El Cid' period figures (plus the fact thay would be less problemstic on the painting front!). Of course I needed to acquire some reading material to go with this latest bout of insanity....
  • 10/12mm figures. I have laid in the figures requred for a specific set up - both armies - and will be discussing this further in a later blog post. It is slightly unusual in respect of the choice of period and came about in a rather unexpected fashion. Dare I say it but this could actually be described as am 'Ooh shiny' moment. Again, I needed to add some reading material to the collection in support of the models.
  • Sci Fi. I picked up a set of rules I had my eye on - and am very glad I did. Alien Squad Leader can best be described as a fusion of HOTT and the Blitzkreig Commander series of rules and they look like a lot of fun. I have assorted bits and pieces suitable for use with these rules already in the collection so it will be a cheap, quick and easy set up to organise.
  • Hexon. This one has already been mentioned previously but by and away is the biggest single purchase thus far.
Do I have any regrets about offloading an entire collection as soon as I have? Not really, although packing the last of the models did give me pause for thought. It was a hugely impressive collection for sure. From a practical point of view though, the disposal of the collection - and remember that originally I only intended offloading a portion of it - has enabled me to complete (or at least further advance) a number of projects that would have otherwise had to wait.

The Skirmish Show at Sidcup next week should enable me to complete a couple of ideas and so I am really looking forward to it.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Running through treacle

I have been a little out of sorts lately. I have been lethargic, woolly-headed and with occasional bouts of feverishness. I have also not been sleeping particularly well and my back and ankle (both old injuries - and neither being particularly dramatic!) have been acting up which has not helped. Everything is an effort and needless to say very little progress has been made with anything - I am feeling particularly 'wrung out' and so am now at home from week until next week and with instructions to just chill out.

Hopefully some rest and downtime will enable me to shake off the doldrums and regain my former joie de vivre!

Gotta love a bargain! Not bad for £2 all in

In the meantime though I did manage though to get to a boot sale last Sunday and picked up the three books you see above. The WW2 German Special Forces title was the best of what was left as the chap was selling three titles for £2 but I was very pleased with the tank book and the WW2 naval title. I cannot see me gaming anything in the German Special Forces category but one never knows.

Rather pleased with this one and I am quite fond of the rest of the series as well.

The other book I acquired fills a gap in the WW1 collection in that it is a rather nice uniform guide - chock full of colour plates. I am sure there are more detailed works around but considering I am planning on using 10/12mm figures for this project much of the finer points would be lost - meaning I shan't be bothering to paint them as I certainly would not be able to see them at table ranges!

I am sure I shall return to my usual form in due course but for now I am just going to spend a couple of days pottering and letting my thoughts - if I have any that is - wander to wherever.