Monday, 2 March 2015

A Tale of Two Bluchers

The first of my current Bluchers

I readily confess to having had my curiosity aroused when the above was first advertised across the wargames world - especially as the first expansion was devoted to the 100 Days campaign of 1815 of which my ongoing and longstanding interest is well known. So having absorbed a certain amount of positive vibes over the previous weeks I decided to take the plunge and acquired both items.

I have to say that have done so I am completely sold on the concept and ideas therein. The game is all
about fighting large scale battles set in the Napoleonic wars - either as a one off games or as part of a campaign using the Scharnhorst system included. Both the tactical and the strategic games are simple to execute yet contain the all important flavour so important in games at this scale.

I am really taken with the way that special abilities - unit traits in the rules - enhance the flavour of units to give that all important degree of national and type personality. Although the scale is very much army level having this degree of 'personalisation' adds to the fun and makes relating to your chosen army that much easier - one would expect for example, Russian line infantry to be stolid under fire and so they are in the rules.

Am I going to use this solely for Napoleonics? Nah, of course not! I reckon that without too much work the core system could easily be extended both back and forwards to include some of the 18th century as well the 19th up to the dawn of the machine gun and magazine rifle. My thoughts are even wandering in the 'imagi-nation' direction - which is probably no surprise either! Plenty to think about then - and I am sure to be doing so!

Plan view of S.M.S. Blucher

S.M.S Blucher at sea

The second of my Bluchers refers to the ill-fated armoured cruiser the German Navy had in the Great War. She was armed in response to the Royal Navy allegedly building their equivalent ships with a 9.2" main gun. The Germans decided to use their own 8.2" which was better only for the first British ships - the Invincible class - to to discover that the Royal Navy ships were to be armed with 12" guns. As it was too late to redesign the ship (and the funds were not available to do so) it was built anyway. I read somewhere that she was even planned to go to the Mediterranean as the German representative in place of a battle cruiser. One wonders how things would have turned out had she been on station when war broke out instead of the Goeben. I was always rather fond of the Blucher as she was not a bad ship as such - it was just that she was a good armoured cruiser but less of a battle cruiser. She was sunk at Dogger Bank in 1915 and as this is the centenary year I rather fancied trying out a re fight of the action - if only to give my 1/2400th ships a run out with the rules I am planning to use for the Jutland re fight next year.

I have a Panzerschiffe casting of the Blucher undercoated and on the paint tray along with a couple of other ships for the Germans so will aim to get these finished over the next week or so.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Making the best of things

The various minor injuries I am currently recovering from are making some progress although one does not 'bounce' as well at 54 as one did at 24! The biggest difficulty I have at present is gripping anything or using any kind of pressure or twisting movement involving the use of either thumb. Even unscrewing the already opened jar of marmalade for my traditional Sunday breakfast tea and toast was beyond me. The man cave is off limits at present as negotiating the ladder and entry would be challenging to say the least.

Luckily I have some gaming material to hand in the shape of various rule sets currently under scrutiny so I shall not be bored. If I am honest it is rather a luxury having this enforced lay off so I will have to concentrate on what I have rather than what I can get to.

I have playing the Chess with Friends app and have also taken my first step into iPad war games by playing the Normandy game produced by Battle Factory. It is quite good fun although I am struggling to capture Caen at the moment - the German armour is very effective!

Thursday, 19 February 2015


I am not a well chicken. Aside from a sore throat and chesty cough that seems to have lingered for days I am also now sporting a wrist splint on my right hand for a small break in my thumb and a sling     on my left arm for a crack in my humerus (and trust me it is anything but!) and also my forearm - all as a result of taking a flying leap over the extendable handle of some young ladies wheeled overnight bag. I landed full weight on my left arm with some additional damage on the right. I was assured by the Samaritan like passers by that it was a Tom-Daleyesque effort....but without the Speedos....��

The lady in question did not even bother to see how I was - she was far more concerned about getting into her waiting taxi, obviously en route to a pressing and hugely important engagement, than to worry about little old me lying sprawled on the pavement.

Luckily help was on hand and I was soon back on my way home and the inevitable wait at the local hospital.

So I am off work and am both ill and damaged - and feeling rather sorry for myself. Nothing serious but wearing, painful and tedious.

I am not going to bother attempting to paint anything for a few days so will instead concentrate on the rules for the Jutland project and also my plans for something 1815 related.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

The High Seas Fleet at Jutland....A Review

At long last the final models for the German High Seas Fleet at Jutland are finished - at least as far as the capital ships are concerned anyway. Some 21 dreadnoughts and 6 pre dreadnoughts were deployed for the battle with the battle cruiser Lutzow and the pre dreadnought Pommern being lost. The models are for the most part in metal from Stonewall Miniatures although the pre dreadnoughts and the three 11" armed battle cruisers - Seydlitz, Moltke and Von der Tann - are all resin from Panzerschiffe in the US of A. So without further ado (and following on from the earlier Royal Navy version of the same) I would like to present the German High Seas Fleet capital ships as organised in their Jutland formations.

High Seas Fleet - Vice Admiral Reinhard Scheer, Chief of the Fleet

Battle Squadron 3 - Rear Admiral Behncke, Chief of Squadron

Fleet Flagship - S.M.S. Friedrich der Grosse
Flag - S.M.S. Konig
S.M.S. Grosser Kurfurst
S.M.S. Markgraf
S.M.S. Kronprinz
Flag - S.M.S. Kaiser
S.M.S. Prinz Regent Luitpold
S.M.S. Kaiserin

Battle Squadron 1 - Vice Admiral Ehrhard Schmidt, Chief of Squadron

Flag - S.M.S. Ostfiesland
S.M.S. Thuringen
S.M.S. Helgoland
S.M.S. Oldenburg
Flag - S.M.S. Posen
S.M.S. Rheinland
S.M.S. Nassau
S.M.S. Westfalen

Battle Squadron 2 - Rear Admiral Mauve, Chief of Squadron

Flag - S.M.S. Deutschland
S.M.S. Pommern
S.M.S. Schlesien
Flag - S.M.S. Hannover
S.M.S. Schleswig-Holstein
S.M.S. Hessen

Scouting Group 1 - Vice Admiral Hipper - Chief of Scouting Forces

Flag - S.M.S. Lutzow
S.M.S. Derfflinger
S.M.S. Seydlitz
S.M.S. Moltke
S.M.S. Von der Tann

So there you have it. The capital ships as organised for the Battle of Jutland, May 1916. It has been a labour of love I can tell you and I am rather pleased to have gotten this stage of the project completed. The cruisers and destroyers are to follow but I will have the rest of the year to get them dealt with. I have a few of the cruisers already painted and have a sizeable amount of the RN destroyers already so I am confident that all will be ready for next year. The plan now is to focus on the rules and also turn mu attention to something land based - at least until the 18th of June anyway....;-)

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Closing in on the big finish....Part 3

I had hoped to have had the remaining German ships completed for this weekend but the fates have conspired against me. If you recall I was a little concerned about how dark the German ships were looking and I was right to be so as when placed alongside the other ideas the difference was noticeable. Then I remembered that originally I had added a further lighter dry brush to the first batch and with the current models I had forgotten to do so. Luckily it was easily resolved by the application of a very careful and lighter grey dry brush. Of course this also meant a further coat of varnish so I decided to tackle the dreadnought bases first before finishing the pre dreadnoughts. A minor delay but nothing major.

I will completely finish the dreadnoughts - including the waves, wakes, names and ensigns before spending any more time on the pre dreadnoughts. I shall be able to make some progress with these but it now looks like the great photo shoot will take place a week later than planned.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Closing in on the big finish....Part 2

The remaining dreadnoughts for the German High Seas Fleet for the Jutland 2016 project have been painted and varnished with just the bases to complete. The six pre dreadnoughts of the 2nd battle Squadron roughly halfway there so should be ready for the weekend all being well. If I am honest they seem to have come up a little darker than I would have liked but this is nothing that some careful additional dry brushing should put it right should I decide to do so. I worked on a basic rule of thumb that German ships should be a lighter grey than their RN counterparts and by and large this is noticeable but this final batch do seem a little darker. Still, no two ships, even if painted the same, would weather at the same rate so a little variation in colour can be allowed for!

In any event I have no plans to repaint them....;-)

Thursday, 22 January 2015

An ACW Conumdrum

This is typical of me I suppose. After what I think is thoughtful, considered and disciplined approach to identifying exactly what I want to tackle gaming wise I end up doing something, rather rash....

The case in point is my long term and on-off relationship with the ACW. I have flirted with this period over the years - firstly in respect of the land side and more recently with the naval dimension. I am sure you can recall my project to scratch build around 50 odd models for use on the rivers - indeed, some of my games featured a number of them in action alongside the block armies (check under the Games folder to find them if you are interested in the AAR).

But that was then.

I took the decision to abandon the whole idea (for reasons that seemed and indeed, still are perfectly valid) and focus on more Euro-centric campaigns and so the small library I had acquired on the subject is now in the hands of Mr Fox and the models have gone, as I recall, to Scotland via Ebay.

I was then attacked with a major 'Ooh, shiny' moment and acquired a couple of forces of 12mm figures from Kallista for the the land side - and I should mention this came about as the result of boot sale purchase of a hardback copy of McPherson's award winning book: Battle Cry of Freedom for 50p. From such small and cheap beginnings do mighty endeavours result....

I had then naturally considered the ACW again for the naval side but had been toying with 1/1200th rather than 1/600th - as much on the grounds of cost as anything. If I am honest I had not really given the whole idea much thought although the Kallista figures have sat on the painting tray as a continual goad to my conscience. Then came the opportunity to acquire a collection of 21 ships fully painted, based, rigged and ready to use which was very hard to turn down at the price. So I didn't - and the results are below.

Rather nice although I will need to identify both the ship and the model manufacturer!

Union river boats. The biggest being the U.S.S. Essex (centre) with a City class gunboat to the right (with blue funnel bands) and the Indianola to the left. I am not sure about the model at the top.

Union monitors of various types

Confederate casemate ironclads and a solitary river boat. The ironclads include the C.S.S. Virginia (middle far right), the C.S.S Arkansas (middle far left) and the others - note the Louisiana, the rather large vessel top right.

More Union vessels including the New Ironsides in her reduced rig (centre).

Finally a couple of Confederate commerce raider types. I need to check these as I have a feeling the twin turret ship was used by the RN.

Now don't get me wrong, these models are very nice indeed and need minimal work to be ready for action - there are a few chips here and there to touch up, some lifeboats need gluing back and some of the rigging is a little slack - but I am unsure what to do with them. There seems to be little form to the collection - it is almost as if it was 'one of each from the catalogue' scenario. The actions I would fight using these would be very small scale affairs - much smaller than I would normally consider and trust me, that would not be very large anyway! I will need to give this some careful thought as I have no plans to add to this collection in any way, shape or form so for now I will give it some careful consideration.

They are rather nice though.