Sunday, 24 May 2009

The Great War At Sea Mediterranean 1912 - 1923

A very welcome arrival to the collection arrived yesterday - an unpunched copy of the Avalanche Press board game: The Great War At Sea Mediterranean 1912 - 1923. I had been after this for sometime and was not disappointed. The only damage was that the box was a little bashed but everything else was in pristine condition. The game is a strategic and tactical level study of naval combat during the period at a ship to ship level. It is one in a number of games by the company that covers naval warfare - the others include the Russo Japanese war, WW1 in the North and Baltic Seas and various of the US Navy war plans in place against a variety of opponents. There are also a number of WW2 games that use the same system. Basically, fleets are moved on the strategic map (scaled at one square equals 32 miles) until contact transfers the action to a tactical map. The tactical rules use ship charts and firing is resolved by rolling a number of dice and scoring hits on a 6 which are then rolled on a damage table. There are also provisions for torpedoes, mines, submarines and critical hits. The strategic map covers pretty much all the Mediterranean and Black Sea with all the naval bases located and national boundaries are as at 1914. It is also in offset squares. The tactical map is in hexes. I wanted this game for a number of reasons. These are as follows:

1. I wanted a simple strategic movement system

2. I needed a good map of the area - these are really nice and would copy down to A3 sized

3. The scenario book covers some 70 actions - some actual and some hypothetical.

4. There are ships from 11 nations which would help me in constructing other fleets in 1/3000th.

5. I really wanted to see what ideas I could 'borrow' from the tactical system for my own use.

I am really excited about this as it will give me the information and tools I need for any campaign ideas I have going forward.

The first half of the map covers the Western end of the Med whilst the second (see below) tackles the Eastern end and the Black Sea. They are of course, fully connectible.

I shall report more on this once I have read through in detail the rules and scenarios but the timely arrival of this should further the impetus on the 1/3000th paintfest I have planned over the next few months!

A Short Interlude

Well it has finally come around at long last - I am off for a short and much needed family holiday in Turkey. We have not been there before (although we did try to get there last year but ended up on the Greek island of Skiathos instead - which was outstanding nevertheless). I shall be back with the latest updates on all the various projects I am involved with on 2nd June and will no doubt come back from Turkey with a whole load of new ones!

The holiday reading material has been selected (The Naval Situation in the Mediterranean 1908 to 1914 by Paul Halpern and Lords of the Horizons by Jason Goodwin) and a couple of notepads and pens are also packed for good measure.

To say I am looking forward to this is probably an understatement.....................;-)

Thursday, 21 May 2009

"Some Damned Affair in the Balkans....."

Last night I played a game of DBSA (non -gridded) at a friends abode as he was keen to try out the rules away from the usual cut and thrust of a club night. This I was happy to do as a more efficient playtest usually results as the distraction of other games in progress, somebodys newest acquisition or, in the case of my club (SEEMS - South East Essex Military Society), the bar and any televised Football matches!

The game was loosely based on the Battle of Lemnos in 1913 between the Turks and the Greeks and I will try to describe how the action developed and touch upon any points it raised. Sadly I did not think to take any photos so a degree of imagination will be required by the reader. The game served as a very useful testing ground for some ideas I have been messing around with; more of which later.

The Battle of Mythos, January 26th 1913

Somewhere in the Aegean..................

Greece - Georgios Averoff (1st class cruiser), Hydra, Psara and Spetsai (Battleships - obsolete), 3 x bases of TBD each of two models - Aetos + Ierax, Panther + Leon, Keravnos + Nea Genea)

These were deployed in three columns comprising the Averoff and the three battleships (in the order listed above) as the centre column heading south east with the Aetos and Panther (I will list multiple bases by the lead ship name only) on the Averoff's starboard side and the Keravnos on the port. The Averoff was designated the flagship under the command of the redoubtable rear Admiral Kountouriotis (aka Chris Hardman).

Turkey - Messudiye (Battleship - obsolete), Hayreddin Barbarossa and Torgud Reis (Battleships), Assar-i Tewfik (Battleship - obsolete) comprised the centre column in the order listed and heading north west. The Hayreddin Barbarossa was the flagship and deployed on her port beam were two bases of TBs (obsolete TBDS) of the Akhisar class and a base of the Samsun class TBDs. These were called as follows: Akhisar + Alpagot, Antalya + Urfa - Akhisar class and Samsun + Yarhisar of the Samsun class. The squadron was under the command of Cpt. Ramiz Bey (your humble scribe).

The first couple of moves saw the opposing battlelines heading hellf or leather towards each other at pretty much best speed. The sole exception to ths was the Averoff who maintained the speed of the rest of the squadron. Those French built old battleships were hard pressed to make 15 knots so the Averoff was fairly champing at the bit to get at the Turks. Both sides TBDs and TBs easily outdistanced their ponderous battlelines and the Greek ships swung due South to head off the enemy whilst their Turkish opposite numbers heading due North. In both cases the battlelines lumbered ponderously onwards after their faster companions. The biggest difference in the two manouvers was that the two starboard column Greek TBDs (Aetos and Panther) swung across the rear of their battleline to link up with the other TBD base (Keravnos). this had the effect of leaving them deployed as a screen on the port side of the battle squadron towards the rear of the column. The Turks meanwhile had a similar plan in mind and so the TBs (Akhisar and Antalya) swung across the front of the lead Turkish battleship (no doubt to much fist shaking and remonstrances at this reckless manouver) to link up with the Samsun to the starboard of the battleline.

Whilst the TBDs were thus engaged the Greek battleline turned due south whilst the Turks, in some apparent confusion turned first to the North and then swung back to the north west and then to the west. The sea room needed for this hesitation and indecision (rumours that Cpt.Ramiz Bey was compiling the opening chapter of his memoirs were later proven to be unfounded....) on the Turkish part enabled the Greeks to move in good order into a position whereby they could inflict considerable damage on the enemy.

As the two fleets closed to gun range the situation was that the Turkish battleline was heading due west whilst the Greeks were heading south. the Greeks had all their TBDs lined up facing in the same direction with the lead ship parallel with the third ship in the line, the Psara. By commencing the turn much sooner than the Turks the Greek admiral was in the enviable position to be able to imminently cross the enemy 'T'. The situation began to look bleak for the Sublime Porte.

The Greeks opened fire first with the three battleships engaging the Turkish TBs. After a lively exchange the TBs were both left damaged and crippled and only by dint of a last gasp effort did the Akhisar manage to torpedo one of the Greek escorting TBDs (Kervanos) and immediately send her to the bottom. Battered and smoking heavily, the two bases limped from the action heading north. The Samsun had also suffered some minor damage as the sea boiled under the rain of shells from the three elderly battleships. The Averoff then commenced firing on the lead Turkish Battleship, the Messudiye, and almost immediately scored a damaging hit.

The next move saw the disjointed Turkish line trying to regain some composure after its series of snake-like turns trying to get on the inside of the Greeks. At this point the Turks had the Messudiye facing south, the Hayreddin Barbarossa and Torgud Reis south west and the Assar-i Tewfik facing west. The sole remaining Turkish TBD was lurking off the rear of the Spetsai whilst maintaining a respectful distance (plus the fact it was facing in the opposite direction).

The two Greek TBD bases then charged at full speed across the head of the Turkish battleline to deliver a point blank torpedo attack. The tactical position was absolutely ideal and things looked bleak indeed for the Turks but the attack, when it came, was woefully ineffective with not a single hit being scored. The TBDs however, would pay for their temerity and were subjected to a withering fire from every gun that could bear from the Turkish battleships. Both bases were heavily damaged (crippled in fact) and could only limp away slowly from the scene of their magnificent, but futile gesture.

With the smaller ships effectively hors de combat the stage was now cleared for a clash of the battlelines. The two forces were converging on a line similar to a letter V tilted to the right so that the lefthand line was vertical. The shooting was fierce and in the confusion of the action it was difficult to report on a blow by blow basis. Suffice it to say, after Dame Fortune had proven once again to be a fickle mistress, the Averoff and one of the Greek battleships had been crippled (mention must be made of the superb shooting of the gallant Messudiye - despite the attentions of her much more modern and efficient opponent was more than able to hold her own) whilst the other two had varying degrees of damage. For the Turks the Messudiye was heavily damaged whilst the Assar-i Tewfik at the rear of the line was one hit away from sinking - such was the rough handling she received from not one but two of the Greek battleships. During this pounding the Turkish TBD had tried to alleviate her distress by launching a torpedo attack against the Spetsai but sadly to no avail. The Hayreddin Barbarossa was damaged but her sister ship the Torgud Reis had nary a scratch.

At this point both forces decided that discretion was the better part of valour and both disengaged their battered forces to return to their respective home ports; each doubtless claiming a dramatic victory.

Tactically the Greek commander admitted afterwards (doubtless at the court of enquiry after the true facts of the action became known) that he should have concentrated his efforts on the weaker Turkish ships rather than spreading the fire along the Turkish line. Obsolete battleships will always struggle against more modern versions and had the two Turkish ships -Messudiye and Assar-i Tewfik been overwhelmed early on then the remaining two Turkish ships would have been engaged by three battleships and the Averoff. The TBDs could also have been used more effectively (this applied to both sides) as charging in against undamaged opposition is tempting fate - especially when it is across the front on an entire line of battleships.

At this point the Turkish commander refrained from commenting as his handling of the fleet was hardly inspiring. The two best Turkish ships saw little of the action until late on and he also allowed his screening TBDs to go off on a potentially suicidal charge against the Greek battleline thereby exposing his own battleline to an unopposed similar attack. The subsequent sinking of a destroyer would have been deemed a poor return in exchange for a battleship or even two.

The action was enormous fun and served to confirm that from my own perspective that a gridded version of the rules for 1/3000th models would be preferable. As the models are so small (even allowing for the bases I use) measuring ranges and distances and turn angles is fiddly so a grid it will be. We also felt that some morale or training rules need to be introduced as towards the end of the game it felt very much like a pair of punch drunk fighters trading ineffective blows seeing who would collapse first. Much to ponder methinks, but that will be for another day.

Mythos by the way, is a very nice Greek Lager.........;-)

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Victorian Science Fiction

As an aside from all this nautical mayhem, I am also really interested in Victorian Science Fiction. The basic premise is gaming using a late 19th century set up supported by inventions that may have been around or those that appeared later - for example anything that flies. Anyone that has read any of the classics by HG Wells or Jules Verne will get the idea. The two sets of rules of choice for this 'period' are Aeronef, covering air actions between fleets of flying ironclads and dirigibles and Land Ironclads - both available from Wessex Games. Both sets are usable with each other so a degree of crossover is easily attainable.

Both rules sets are supported by miniatures available from Brigade Models - Wessex themselves also have a small line for Aeronef. the air stuff is scaled at 1/1200th so anyone having access to some period warships would be able to tackle a huge Tsushima/Jutland/Midway/Leyte Gulf sized action with a novel twist.

I like dirigibles and so my air fleets tend to be based around these. They are 'second line' air assets as most major powers use Aeronef ironclads rather than the airships. A historical parallel would be the Dreadnought vs Pre Dreadnought composition of the worlds navies in 1914 - all the trendymajor powers had dreadnoughts as the first line weapon of choice whislt the smaller powers stil needed to rely on the older ships.

My own own air set up is still in gestation - it is Turkish (naturally) and is dirigible based. Another practical advantage of a dirigible fleet is that they are really easy to scratch build. All you need is a supply of 1/72nd, 1/48th or 1/35th scale plastic aircraft kit bombs, some plastic scrap bits and pieces, some flying bases and a little imagination and they are ready. I have another batch on the modelling tray and will go through the process on a stage by stage basis when I get around to it.

For Land Ironclads I will be using some of the marvelous models launched by Brigade together with some bits and pieces from Irregular. These are scaled at 2mm in order to fit in with the huge range of Aeronef models already available. Check out and also for ideas and inspiration. You may also want to check out

The great thing about VSF is that you could use an existing 19th century army and just add a couple of steam powered contraptions suitably painted in a traditional style and there you have it - instant VSF.

More to follow with this in due course and as the mood takes me - including VSF naval (where is Captian Nemo when you need him?) and VSF in space.........;-)

Artists Canvas Boards

After trying out a few combinations of the aforementioned canvas boards (or rather trying to visualise what it would look like - difficult when you only have one of them and that belongs to my daughter....!) I am definitely going to try this out on my return from Turkey. I tried out an area comprising 8 of the 16" by 20" boards deployed in two columns of 4 boards. this gives me a playing area of 40" by 48" which translates into 10 by 12 4" squares. That area covers my dining table with a little overhang so is ideal for my available space. To 'join' the boards I will use magnetic strip and steel paper and the only concern at the moment is that the boards are only framed around the perimeter which may be a problem when overhanging a table edge on a corner. I will paint these up in a sea blue and grid with a marker pen and will take pictures of the end result. Boards of this size will also fit very snugly in the storage area in my 'office' thereby avoiding the wrath of the domestic management!

Naval Rules Considerations

My ongoing Naval rules project (formerly tweaking DBSA into a gridded format and extending the result into the Great War) has hit a small but significant issue. Should firing be dealt with by a single die roll or on a barrel by barrel basis? Or even, should it be a combination of the two? From a fun perspective rolling great numbers is enormously satisfying but I cant help feeling that with lots of ships on the table this may be a little onerous. The single die roll is a little more clinical and is certainly tidier but that then means that more modifiers need to be applied to 'load' the result into something meaningful.

As I am trying to achieve a fast play set for large actions I think the single die approach will be preferable - perhaps with the possibility of multiple hits dependent on the dice roll. I am also moving away from the use of a d6 for this as the spread of results feels better using a d10.

I also need to consider the impact of damage and how best to simulate it and its effects. At the moment I have a number of options under investigation for this and the driver is the need to dispense with record keeping other than using damage markers on the models base. All of my ships have fairly generous bases so placing hit markers or counters is not a problem - the actual counters will be aesthetically designed (I am planning something along the lines of the Litko damage markers for smoke and fire etc) so will not ruin the look of the game. The problem with this is of course, the number of such markers that will need to be moved around on the table when a ship starts taking damage. Under DBSA the largest number of markers a ship could have on its base would be 3 - a black cripple marker and 2 x white damage markers. This is OK as far as it goes but when you start factoring in 32,000 ton Queen Elizabeth class battleships it stretches the system a little. I think that having up to 5 or 6 markers for such a ship is about as far as you could sensibly go with these - I am not keen on having markers with numbers on for multiple hits as they can be mistaken in the heat of battle. I realise that there could be a 'fog of war' issue here but that is not something I am going to pursue due to the scale of the action.

I also want to differentiate between damage types - at a simple level it will be either flood or fire damage. Each hit will be rolled for and the effect will be one of either of the two types mentioned. Each of these damage types will have a scale of progression in terms of effects and at a simple level, flooding impacts on speed whilst fire impacts on firing. If a enough water gets on board the ship sinks and enough fire rages then there is a very good chance of the ship exploding - either way it would game over. Red markers signify fire whilst white could be for shell splashes or flooding. A black marker would signify a cripple. This would also raise the issue of damage control but that is easy to factor in.

Despite the apparent uncertainty about the above I am fairly close to having a draft version ready and will use this with the Balkan Fleets in due course. I will need to get the 1914/1915 Russians for the Black Sea ready in order to give the Goeben some opposition but in the meantime I have a plan for using some old Minifigs ships for a hypothetical Balkan War set in 1912/13. Much to ponder methinks!

Monday, 18 May 2009

Artists Canvas Boards

Just an idea I had whilst out shopping over the weekend. Our local 99p shop sells stretched canvas mounted on a wooden frame for use by budding artists. These are in various sizes that have one thing in common - they are in multiples of 4". The largest size on offer is 16" by 20" but they do a larger version at 20" by 24". referring back to Barry Carters Naval wargaming book I note that his game boards are 20" by 25" - although he uses a square of 2 1/2" or 3". I am thinking that the acquisition of say, eight of these boards, suitably painted and gridded in 4" squares would give a geomorphic endless gaming surface just right for naval games. The canvas is stretched tightly so the weight of the models should cause too much in the way of sagging. For holding the boards in place I would use pieces of magnetic strip and steel paper. I shall give this a trial when I return from Turkey but for an outlay of £8 it will be hard to beat methinks.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Axis and Allies: War at Sea Part 3

After further tinkering with the camera I have taken some shots of the newly completed air wings for Axis and Allies:War at Sea. The models are scaled at 1/900th (as opposed to the 1/1800th of the ships) and all single engined types are cleverly cast joined at the wingtips to represent flying in close formation. Again, these are based simply because I prefer them that way. The Pacific selection I have is larger than the European but you can get the general idea of what they look like from the pictures. The next set will include a Ju88 (for which the Germans will be eternally grateful!) whilst the British get a Martlet (the Fleet Air Arm Wildcat) and a Sunderland (allegedly).

This picture sees four bases of Swordfish (presumably heading off to cause some mischief along the Italian coast....) with a close escort of Sea Hurricanes and some long range Beaufighters (probably from Malta) keeping them company.

For the Regia Aeronautica we have four bases of SM 79 torpedo bombers trying to find either Force H or any of the Malta bound convoys escorted by some Folgore fighters. Bringing up the rear are four bases of Italian Ju 87 dive bombers again with a Folgore escort. The white streaks on the bases are to give the impression of crossing the sea at high speed - yes, even for the Swordfish above!

Lastly we have the representatives of the Luftwaffe in the shape of Fliegerkorps 10. those six bases of Stukas with the Me 109 escort are going to really upset someones day - lets just hope the armoured flight deck is up to it! A marauding Kondor stands ready to pick off any stragglers.

Of all the models available in the War at Sea series I would say that the aircraft are probably the most novel although the paint jobs are weaker than the ships for the most part. that said, they are easy to paint over should you be so inclined.

Balkan Wars Afloat Part 2

After a session of tinkering with my camera I have managed to get a couple of pictures of the Greek and Turkish fleets for use in the Balkan wars. What you see are two representative squadrons modelled on the forces present at the Battle of Lemnos. The shades of grey I used for each fleet are a little on the dark side, especially when black washed but they look fine all the same when viewed on a gaming tabletop. The 'sea' they are sailing on is in fact a place mat pressed into service - at a little over A3 size they would not be much use for a naval game unless I sewed the whole lot that's a thought.;-)

The first picture is of the Greek squadron consisting of the Armoured Cruiser Georgios Averoff, the three coastal defence battleships Hydra, Psara and Spetsai and six of the newest destroyers - the four ships of the Aetos class and the two ex German vessels - all under the command of the redoubtable Rear Admiral Kountouriotis aboard the Averoff.

The Turkish Squadron consists of the rebuilt battleship Messudiye, the two ex-German built battleships Hayreddin Barbarossa and Torgud Reis, the even older Assar-i Tewfik and a selection of TBDs of the Muavent-i Milleye class and Akhisar class TBs all under the command of Cpt Ramiz Bey

I will get around to refighting the Battle of Lemnos using DBSA at some point - you can see the attraction of such small fleets as in this case from the time of purchase to the first use was a little under two weeks!

Axis and Allies: War at Sea WW2 Part 2

After a herculean effort last night I finished the 30 bases of aircraft to go with the WaS fleets. this consisted of 13 for the British - 4 each of Beaufighter, Barracuda, Halifax and Sea Hurricane, 12 for the Regia Aeronautica - 4 each of Folgore fighter, the three engined SM 79 and 4 Italian painted Stukas, 4 for the Germans - 4 Me 109 T (the version earmarked for use on the Graf Zeppelin aircraft carrier) and a single Betty for the Japanese. I mount these on 40mm square bases and label them as to type. The ships are also based, for no other reason than I think it looks better - I use mounting board and a coat of Humbrol Matt 25 and a blue ink wash followed by white waves and wakes dry brushed on. The labels are printed on the PC and the flags are 1/600th scale that I managed to persuade Tony at Brigade Models to produce. these are only for the ship bases though. I will try to post a picture or two of the fleets and associated air hopefully later today.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Axis and Allies: War at Sea WW2

I have a HUGE collection of models for use with this 'beer and pretzel' style game and can happily field forces for all the major combatants - including air assets. I was debating about whether or not I should be offloading these as the scale - 1/1800th - for the models is too large to use at home. The solution has partially presented itself and it comes from a variety of sources. The naval rules in Tabletop Battles by Mike and Joyce Smith make use of a 4" square grid - this being used with a model taking up two of the squares. Now with a little tweaking and borrowing of ideas from the aforementioned Barry Carters book - especially using two squares for models - I think I may be able to tweak something for use with the smaller grid. Even HMS Hood will fit on two 4" squares (see the picture above) so it would be worth considering. I must confess that the prospect of painting the 1/3000th versions of the models I already have would be challenging to say the least!

The WW1 and Pre Dreadnought forces will need to be in 1/3000 though so it means that I will be able to use the 4" square gridded cloth - or even the bespoke boards mentioned in a previous post - for all my naval games.

Enthused by this discovery, I shall make a strenuous effort to get the last batch of 30 aircraft bases finished for the Fleet Air Arm, the Luftwaffe and the Regia Aeronautica.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Naval Wargames on a Grid

I recently acquired a copy of Barry Carter's Naval Wargames WW1 and WW2 published in 1975 by David and Charles. The book is in superb condition and covers many aspects of naval wargaming over the period in question including the use of air power, submarines and the all important campaign system. Another big attraction is that the rules are designed to work on a squared grid. At first reading there are so many ideas I would like to use for my own purposes that it has presented me with quite a quandary in respect of my aforementioned gridded WW1 version of DBSA. Whilst it is not quite a case of back to the drawing board with the set I am working on (or, dare I say, back to square 1) it will force me to change a few things.

Balkan Wars Afloat

Following recent completion of the 1/3000th scale ships for the Balkan wars of 1912/1913 I thought it might be useful to list the models I used from the Navwar catalogue. Many of the smaller types (DDs, TBDs and TBs) required substitutions from other nationalities and this would not have been possible without the help from various people in identifying suitable models. Neil Fox and Chris Hardman; together with Tony at the Navwar shop were most helpful in this regard and I would like to thank them for their efforts.


N8P10A Mesudiye
N3112 Worth (Germany) - for Torgud Reis and Hayreddin Barbarossa class PB
N8P33/33A Hamidiye and Mecidiye PC
N8p32 Peyk-i Sevket (x2) Torpedo gunboat
N2521 Durandel (France) - for Samsum class TBD x4
N3508 S/T 165 (Germany) - for Muavenet-i Milleye TBD x4
N4702 Saffo (Italy) - for Akhisar/Antalya class TB x8
N5722 Type 67 (Japan) - for Demirhisar class TB x4. I also used this model for the Bulgarian TBs (x6) as they are very similar in profile. Basically it is a 100 ton turtle back twin funnelled affair.


N8732 Averoff AC- the scourge of the Sublime Porte!
N8704 Hydra Coast defence PB x3
N8754 Aetos TBD x4
N8152 Huszar (Austro Hungary) - for Thyella class TBD x4
N3511 V1 (Germany) - for Keravnos class TBD x2
N1529 C Class (Great Britain) - for Niki class TBD x4

As you can see it was very much a case of a cast of thousands in sourcing the models! All the TBDs and TBs were based in pairs in a line ahead formation - all bases are 3cm wide and I allow 1cm off the bow and the stern with a 1cm gap on a multiple base. As soon as I m able I will get some pictures posted - my camera struggles to pick out detail in this scale!

As mentioned previously, I shall add to these fleets to bring them up to 1914 vintage and the scope for adding ships ordered and not delivered or sold elsewhere is huge with both fleets - I suggest reading the Mediterranean Naval Situation 1908 to 1914 by Paul Halpern for a great insight into the arms dealing shenanigans of the period!

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Grand Designs

We all have them, those HUGE ideas that sometimes get turned into reality; the mega campaign that never sees the light of day, the army that if it gets purchased at all sits forlornly in a cupboard until several years later gets unceremoniously dumped on ebay or at a bring and buy. Over the years I have had my fair share of these but I have always managed to keep a core of interest in certain periods of history that I always seem to return to. Along with many other gamers I cut my wargaming teeth on Napoleonics and it is a period I have many fond memories of. My armies were plastic Airfix figures and I note that the plastics scene nowadays has an enormous number of figures available for the period - a far cry from the 9 sets originally available from Airfix!

Given my liking for what can only be described as stylised wargames (usually on grids) I am considering dabbling again in plastics for this period and even more so now that the Airfix Waterloo Assault set has been re released. There are enormous amounts of plastics available now and given that most people use acrylics for painting the major problem of paint flaking is minimised. I have a number of grid based Napoleonic ideas kicking around and so will give tis further thought. The fact that we have the 200th anniversary of Waterloo coming up in 6 years may give you a clue as to where this is going.........................;-)

The second large project (and on the face of it a lot more do-able) concerns the Jutland Fleets in 1/3000th. I was so enthused by painting the Balkan fleets that I am seriously thinking about producing the Jutland Fleets for use with a grid based adaptation of DBSA or something similar. It would be great for a club night and as I have a copy of the old Avalon Hill game Jutland (complete with four pads of plot maps!) very easy to set up.

In the short term though, I will get the Greeks and Turks up to 1914 standards; together with a Russian Black Sea squadron of the same era. I quite fancy some French as well if only to fight against a friends Austro Hungarians.

Much to ponder methinks.

Germany And The Next War by General F.von Bernhardi

Well another Sunday and yet another boot sale! Amongst a pile of assorted paperbacks on a particular stall I found a copy of the book above. This is a hardback A5 popular edition (it must have been as this is the 16th impression dated 1914 and it was only published in 1912 originally!). I have never come across this title before but it appears to be an overview of the why and wherefores of Germany fighting the next war (the Great War that is). Chapters include:

i The Right to Make War

ii The Duty to Make War

iii Germany's Historical Development

iv Germany's Historical Mission

v World Power or Downfall

vi Social and Political Significance of Army for War

vii The Character of our Next War

viii The Next Naval War

ix The Crucial Question

x Army Organisation

xi Training and Education

xii Preparation for the Naval War

xiii The Army and Popular Education

xiv Financial and Political Preparation for War


I will report further when I have read this and it is worth pointing out that the first edition was published just after the Morocco dispute.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Stern Wheel River Gunboat

As many of you may know I am a very keen boot sale follower and so this morning whilst at the Saddler's farm Saturday special along the A13, I was able to acquire the model in the picture for the princely sum of 50p. The model is of hard plastic and measure around 8" long by 2 1/2" wide and 3" high. Placing a sample 15mm figure alongside of it fits pretty well so this will be turned into a generic 19th century gunboat for use either in the Sudan or the ACW. Boot sales are a great source of strange bits and pieces that are the scratch builders dream and are usually dirt cheap - especially the odd bits from children's toys that invariably end up in a 20p box.
Great for credit crunch war gaming!

The Cut of the Cloth

Well I spent some time yesterday evening griding up the previously mentioned blue cloth with 4" squares. The end result is OK but I did experience the 'pull' effect by not having the cloth tightly stretched enough. Still, given that the grid id in black on a fairly dark blue cloth any wayward lines (which are minimal in any event) are not easily discernible. I finished up with an area of 11 by 13 squares and I opted for a standard grid rather than offset squares. This has a more traditional and aesthetic appeal but in doing so I have given myself an additional task in that the rules will need a revision to incorporate the sea change......;-)

I have already given this some thought and will crunch the play sheet over the next day or so. I was initially reluctant to do this but seeing the end result and having put some models on to see how it works am very pleased I did.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Naval Estimates

I have enjoyed naval wargames of all shapes and sizes over the years and for the most part they all have one thing in common namely, the use of a ship chart. This is the mechanism by which the vital statistics of a ship in terms of speed, weapons, damage, armour and in some cases a whole of other stuff is recorded. As sure as eggs are eggs you can guarantee that when the next hot set of rules comes out then the die hard naval gamer is faced with a mountain of paperwork in the shape of, you've guessed it, new ship charts. I admit that with the growth of the PC and associated printer owning gaming fraternity it is not quite as onerous as it once was - calculating Fletcher Pratt ship cards by hand is a joy second only to inserting wasps up ones nose - but is still a chore. For this reason I was delighted when Phil Barker came up with his DBA based Damned Battleships Again (DBSA for short). This set of rules uses markers for damage and vessels are fairly generic in nature and concentrate on the Pre Dreadnought era. They have spawned a couple of derivatives - one concentrating on the Russo-Japanese war and the other on the 1930s as well as a dedicated Yahoo group. This group is really useful as there is a number of modifications to the basic rules as well as a version covering the ironclad era - great for the ACW. I am currently working on a gridded version of the original set as well as an extension to run from 1905 to the end of the Great War. Early playtests using the Turks, Italians and the Greeks have been encouraging although I want to try a standard grid rather than the offset version. I will add the results to the files section in due course.


One of my particular hot topics of the moment is the concept of using a gridded playing surface. This could be hexed, squared or offset squared. I first came across the offset square grid in use with the Axis and Allies War at Sea collectable miniatures game. The starter pack included a double sided map which comes out at 7 by 11 squares each of 9cms. This equates to a playing area of roughly 63 by 99 cms or 2ft by 3ft as near as makes no difference. Coincidentally, the standard sized grid in use in Mike and Joyce Smith's Tabletop Battles is 3ft by 2ft. For me personally, a 3ft by 2ft playing area is ideal given my space availability at home although I could go to 3ft by 5ft at a maximum. With this in mind I am considering making some bespoke playing surfaces (probably the old standby of hardboard with a supporting frame) in green, desert sand and blue. The first two would then be gridded up in accordance the Tabletop Battles system of 2" squares (making 12 by 16) but I did hit a slight snag when considering the naval board as I have yet to finalise the rules for the set up. Hexes would be nice and I think I am right in that a base set of Hexon terrain tiles comes in with sufficient pieces to make a playing area of the desired size. I have a further consideration with the naval grid as whilst the War at Sea version uses offset squares I am now leaning towards conventional squares - if only because from an aesthetic viewpoint the ability to have 8 compass headings rather than 6 would be preferable.

In any event, the standard War at Sea grid at 7 x 11 squares is slightly too small both in terms of the number of squares available and the area covered. My bespoke grid for 1/3000th will use 4" squares and I have resigned myself to the fact that I will need a bigger playing surface for naval games. I am thinking on a minimum of 9 x 13 which is 3ft by 4ft 4" - as mentioned previously, that would be as far as I could go.

I have acquired a big chunk of blue cloth at Ikea that has been chopped in two pieces and overlocked at a local dry cleaners. The blue is idea for naval actions - I prefer a royal blue for my seascape - and I shall grid this over the weekend using my trusty black permanent marker. I am confident that it will not take as long to grid as the double sheet in use for the 1/1800th War at Sea models with 8" squares!

........And so it begins................

I have finally taken the plunge into the world of blogging (actually my second attempt but no matter, the first died of boredom some time ago!) and feel that Ishould perhaps point out what my current ongoing project list looks like. We all have these on the go and for me, half the fun is spending a lot of time on something and then moving on elsewhere...only kidding, but it is a common theme amongst the denizens of my games club, that of too many projects and not enough time to finish them. Following on from my redundancy of 10 weeks (to the day) I have now found myself, between trawling the net for jobs etc with a certain amount of free time to indulge in a few of my more obscure ideas for games. So, to kick off with, here is the current list of projects circulating in what passes for my brain...............

1/3000th Gridded Naval - Balkan Wars and WW1 using a version of Phil Barkers DBSA rules.

For this I need to scope the rules to run up to 1918, bring my existing Grek and Turkish fleets up to their 1914 shape and complete a 1914 Russian Black Sea Fleet. I then have something a whole lot larger in mind.....................;-)

War at Sea the WW2 Naval Collectable Miniatures Game.

This is a toughie as whilst I love the models (scaled at 1/1800th) they are too large for my gaming space available at home - in fact i can only use them at the club on three of their normal sized tables. Some big decisions will have to be made with this as disposal of the entire collection to finance 1/3000th fleets may be an option.

Tabletop Battles - the gridded rule book.

These rules are a godsend for me as they enable grid based and stylised games for a variety of periods using simple (but not simplistic) mechanics and with the priceless advantage of being robust enough to stand any amount of tinkering. A wargaming acquaintance of mine is working on some WW2 variants which hold a lot of promise. For myself however, they will allow me to indulge in any number of plastic 20mm flights of fancy!


I still have a Turkish Dirigible fleet to complete - together with the RNAS Red Sea Squadron for use with Land Ironclads and my still bubbling Arab Revolt VSF style.

These are the projects that are currently on the front burner and waiting in the wings I have the 2mm Sci Fi set up to think about, a couple of fictional 18th century armies, some army level rules for horse and musket (not to mention the armies to go with them!) and some 28mm Sci Fi Skirmish stuff. Then of course is the spectre of some DBA armies.............