Friday, 30 April 2010
I had a look on the Panzer 8 website last night and found a couple of battle reports of actions using the author’s rules and they seemed good fun – both fast playing and with results that looked feasible. Certainly from a club night perspective they have a lot to offer and should I be successful in my attempt to expand the core system into something more palatable to the traditional naval war gamer then it will be a project worth tackling.
The one thing that I need to be careful of with this exercise is that in attempting to add additional ‘chrome’ to the rules I avoid the trap of upsetting the flavour and balance of the system as devised. I want to maintain the simplicity of the original but to have a more ‘rounded’ rules system. Fortunately, the ‘chrome’ will not be too onerous to formulate and neatly breaks down into bite-sized chunks.
Movement – I may introduce a rule whereby a ship has up to three moves allowed depending on type. A turn costs one move. This means that a ship with a move of two could turn and then move one zone or move two zones if facing the correct way; with a move of three they could turn and move two zones or turn, move and turn again or even move three zones if facing the correct way. A ship not turning stays where it is. This rule will allow for variations in ship speeds and manoeuvrability based on their historical capabilities. In connection with movement I may introduce an initiative procedure in order to add some unpredictability into the game turn.
Combat – The main thing that will be needed here is provision for guns smaller than 8” in calibre – not only for light cruisers and destroyers but also for secondary weapons. Provision will also be needed for AA weapons as well as torpedo combat. I am happy with the combat mechanics as they are and so little or no change will be needed in that respect. A few additional firing modifiers will be needed but again, nothing major.
Damage – The existing system of separate Turret and Hull hits is fine as it stands but I am tempted to replace it with the US system of hits being described as D1, 2, 3 or 4 with sunk being the fifth level. This will have implications for combat and will ensure that only one type of damage marker will be required. Damage effects can therefore be linked to the D level and combat etc adjusted accordingly. This will need some careful thought but is certainly viable.
Ship Factors – This is probably the biggest single area for revision. Ship Attack Factors will need to allow for secondary weapons where applicable as well as torpedoes and AA. Movement will be based on type as mentioned above. Defence Factors are a lot more complex as tonnage, build and armour will need to be considered. Assigning one point per 10,000 tons is OK when dealing with the bigger ships but anything less will be horribly vulnerable – single hit heavy cruisers anybody?
Air Power – Ship borne AA guns and the use of fighters need to be factored in and some variety in respect of aircraft types would be in order – the basic combat mechanics are fine as they are though; simple and to the point and will need little change. Carriers should not ordinarily appear within a tactical action in any event and so if one is unlucky enough to find itself in range of a battleship then it has been poorly served by its commander!
Submarines – The whole submarine and ASW thing is a game all of its own and whilst not usually relevant in a surface fight will obviously need to be considered in the context of convoy actions. The use of zones will make the process simpler when dealing with submerged submarines.
Quite by chance last night I noticed that the rug on the floor of the new Man Cave is divided into forty squares – eight by five – so I have an instant zone based playing area of the suggested size of 160cm by 100cm. Ignoring the squares I have the eight zones needed and by placing a selection of models on the rug I was able to see how such an action would look and the short answer is – absolutely fine. The only downside is the colour: beige…………………………………..;-)
Thursday, 29 April 2010
Following on from my recent post about ‘Relative Position’ naval war games; I have managed to track down the fast play rule set using zones to regulate movement and combat I had mentioned. The rules are by Panzer 8 and are available as a free PDF from http://panzer8.webs.com/. The naval rules (there are a number of other interesting sets contained within the PDF) are very fast play and are primarily designed for early war gun actions using ships sized at heavy cruiser or larger. Basically ships are able to move one zone a turn and can be either broadside to the enemy, facing towards or away. A ship that is broadside on is presumably ‘stationary’ although maintaining position would perhaps be a more accurate description. Weapon ranges are given in terms of zones and although scales are not quoted I would take a single zone as being roughly 5,000 to 6,000 yards. Ships have an attack and a defence factor and gunfire is a two step process – a single roll to hit or ‘straddle’ the target and then opposed rolls for damage. Damage is either T for turret or H for hull with the damage being marked as points of either type. There are critical hits so the almost obligatory chance of HMS Hood going bang is represented. Air power is represented with carriers allowed a strike per 10 aircraft at a maximum of two strikes per turn. There are no rules for AA fire or for the use of fighters. Ships that are smaller than a heavy cruiser do not feature and so the light cruisers and destroyers required as escorts and scouting parties are conspicuous by their absence.
The playing surface consists of eight zones – four a side – and ships may not cross into the oppositions half. The suggested size of the playing area for 1/3000th is 100cm by 70cm with the zones being 12.5cm each. Obviously for 1/1800th (the scale of the War at Sea models) these would need to be larger – I would think that perhaps 20cm per zone and 100cm wide. That would give an overall playing area of 160cm by 100cm or just under a 6ft by 4ft table. In fact you could probably just use the 6ft by 4ft as is and scale the zones accordingly. Ships are placed however the player prefers within each zone so formations can be represented quite handily.
The obvious amendments and additions to the basic system look something like this:
Increased number of ship types and more representative attack and defence factors
Secondary and AA weapons
Smaller calibre guns i.e. less than 8”
Ship torpedo attacks
Increased variation between ships of the same notional type
Air power – escorting and defending fighters
Submarines and ASW
Now I realise that this lot looks pretty intimidating but I don’t think the suggested tweaks will cause huge amounts of extra work. The author’s website includes a forum to discuss the rules presented and so I will be utilising this in order to ensure that my efforts to upgrade the core system are in tune with his intent.
I realise that this is yet another set of naval rules I shall be playing around with and so, as a long term naval war game enthusiast I will offer no apologies for this!
Tuesday, 27 April 2010
In all I have a further 32 ships to be based – 17 for the Royal Navy, 7 for the Italians and 8 for the Germans – with no prizes for guessing the nationality at the top of the list! As mentioned previously I am really pleased to have a couple of models of HMS Repulse (one will be used for HMS Renown – although the two ships were slightly different to look at) and have bitten the bullet and acquired an additional copies of HMS Warspite to serve as Queen Elizabeth and Valiant. The War at Sea ships are variable in quality and accuracy but as representations of the vessels in question they are ideal for use as wargames models. The only downside is their size – realistically I can only use them at the club as the table size required is well beyond anything available in my house!
I have considered how best to make use of my War at Sea models at home and have come to the conclusion that the only way I would be able to achieve this would be to dispense with movement entirely and merely concentrate of the combat side embracing the concept of relative positions. I have seen a set of fast play naval rules kicking around on the net that use a system of zones for relative positions and whilst I was initially wary of such a concept I have revised my opinion somewhat. Although such a system will serve to further ‘abstract the abstraction’ I think it may well have possibilities.
The biggest problem with this approach is how best to represent the effects of manoeuvring (course and speed changes etc) on the table top. Consider two warships sailing parallel at a distance of 10,000 yards at the same speed of 20 kts. Their relative positions will stay the same although they will carry on moving on their current course. Ships following these two at the same heading but at, say, 30 kts, will pull ahead and this separation will continue. Similarly, a slower ship will fall behind. As long as the two ships in the centre of our example maintain their course and speed then the faster and slower ships will eventually disappear into the distance. There would no reason then why the two ‘middle’ ships in the above example could not be static on the table top with the faster and slower vessels are placed accordingly until either changing speed or course or exiting the combat area.
Simply put, a ship will either attempt to close or open the range of combat by a combination of speed and course relative to the enemy. Unless one ship has an advantage in terms of speed then, all else being equal, the enemy should be able to maintain the status quo and be able to conform the other ships movement – in other words, stay the same. The trick will be to allow for such tactical manoeuvring without actually moving the models but still showing the same on the table top (after all, that is why we are using models rather than cardboard counters!).
I will look at this in a little more depth as I would dearly like to be able to fit an action using the WaS models on a standard dining table. Much to ponder methinks (yet again!).
Monday, 26 April 2010
Once that has been tackled I will then return to the Balkan Wars stuff and I will push on get these finished as soon as possible. Around the ongoing figure painting I have a couple of modelling projects to undertake - these are relatively small scale and make for a welcome diversion whilst waiting for paint or varnish to dry. These are of a VSF nature and are simple to manufacture en masse - now that I have some extra room it means that semi painted or assembled ‘kit’ can now safely be left out overnight – and will be used for both Aeronef and the forthcoming Aquanef.
The ‘cerebral’ projects, mainly naval campaign based, are on track, albeit somewhat retarded, and so completing the additional War at Sea stuff should hopefully provide an additional spur. I have two ideas on the go – the Mediterranean based Malta Convoy scenario and revisiting the Bismarck affair. Once the models are based then I should be more inclined to push on with the mechanics of the two campaigns – these will drafted during ‘non-painting’ time e.g. lunch time or even on the train to and from work (I have an hour each way).
As another ‘cerebral’ exercise I will continue to add flesh to the background of both Balkrunia and Karagoz; my pair of 1920’s ‘imagi-nations’. I am enjoying this diversion and have plans to make use of some of the figures I have for the forces in question; with the addition of a few WW1 vintage vehicles and some Wings of War aircraft, suitably repainted. I have been considering using the Peter Laing 15mm WW1 collection as the basis for Balkrunia and Karagoz – I certainly have enough figures to produce any amount of armies and of course, should I design the uniforms etc myself (I was not planning to do this originally) I can ‘mix and match’ to my hearts desire. The figures from this collection would need a repaint in any event so this would probably be a good opportunity to revamp the collection into something unique.
Friday, 23 April 2010
Steve Blease is running an Aquanef game at Salute with, I believe, Matthew Hartley, so to anybody with a passing interest in VSF please pass by and take a look. Certainly the pictures released thus far on his blog: http://bleaseworld.blogspot.com/ are very inspiring! I am hoping that lots of pictures get taken of this game as I am really keen to see how the CD idea works out for representing surface and subsurface units. The models that Steve has produced for the game are also featured and very nice they look as well. I was really taken with the underwater scenery idea and so have a mental note to visit our local Aquarium shop – Swallow Aquatics – for some further inspiration. It all looks really effective and I am really sorry not to be going to Salute to see it in action.
A similar approach with the models could be used for another period of interest, which for me would be enormously tempting (and as an additional project I suppose!) – this being a WW2 German U Boat Wolf Pack attacking a convoy. The only problem I envisage is the fact that full hull submarines (i.e. not the usual waterline types) are hard to come by unless you use 1/600th or 1/700th. One to think about for the future perhaps but in the meantime I am keen to try VSF style sub and subsurface warfare using Aquanef as published. It should also give me the stimulus to tackle the 1/2400th scale ACQ models I have that featured in my previous post.
Thursday, 22 April 2010
The blog is well worth a look for anyone interested in small scale projects - painting, modelling and converting - and is one I have found both valuable and inspirational.
The one thing I have done though is to remove the separate bases as most of the models had already been assembled, undercoated and in most cases half painted. I did this solely because I prefer to use a flat, non textured base as I print name labels and ensigns to decorate them with.
Well done steelonsand - a great blog and really inspirational....curse you!!!
Monday, 19 April 2010
'A stirring account of the war in the Balkans.
Joyce Cary, one of the 20th Century's greatest novelists (the author of The Horse's Mouth) was 23 years old at the start of the Balkan War of 1912-1913.
A one time art student in Edinburgh and Paris and newly down from Trinity College, Oxford he went through the war as a stretcher bearer in the Red Cross.
Shortly after his return he wrote Memoir of the Bobotes without thought of publication. It is an extraordinarily vivid account of a forgotten war fought by peasants under primitive conditions - yet particularly fascinating today to readers with memories of later Balkan wars.
It is both a moving and illuminating account of the war but it also offers a self-portrait of a young, upper-class Englishman - idealistic, sensitive, romantic - living in the belief that 'there would be no more wars'.
This is published by Phoenix Press (ISBN: 1-84212-102-2) in paperback and once I have read it I shall report further as to the content. Needless to say I am very much looking forward to reading this.
Sunday, 18 April 2010
Friday, 16 April 2010
I own a number of sets of WW2 rules that cover the operational level of war i.e. usually with a base of figures representing a battalion and it is a style of game I would like to explore further. A big advantage of this style of game (which is certainly scenario driven rather than just 'set up and play') is that the amount of 'kit' required is obviously less especially in terms of figures as most battalions only need a few figures per base.
At a basic level (driven by the fact that I own no painted WW2 kit to speak of) I could press Memoir 44 pieces into action should I want to experiment with these rules - this would certainly work in the short term and would not take up any valuable painting time!
Thursday, 15 April 2010
The Balkan Wars range that they produce is pretty much complete in its coverage and the figures look really nice. I was also taken with the page devoted to the organisation of the Balkan Armies and the description of an action fought using the said figures.
There are also some other nice goodies on the site – Colonial Germans, Americans and assorted others so if 25mm is your scale then give these a good look, cry into your drink and then reluctantly go back to the mass of metal you already have for the period!
C’est la vie I suppose (through despairingly gritted teeth!).
Tuesday, 13 April 2010
Call it alternate history or even fantasy but the use of so called 'Imagi-nations' is probably as old as war gaming itself although recently has tended to be more 18th century driven. Setting up and running such a 'nation' is very therapeutic and a lot of fun and adds a further dimension to the enjoyment of gaming in my opinion - besides, how else would I be able to add armoured units and dreadnought Battleships to Balkan forces in 1918?
Sunday, 11 April 2010
Saturday, 10 April 2010
I have also decided on the basing criteria I shall adopt for the Balkan Wars and WW1 collections. I am going to use the 40mm DBA derived frontage rather than the Volley and Bayonet version although I shall make some 'sabot' bases for use with V and B set. I have decided this purely on the basis that there are probably more rules around for 15mm using that size of base than any other so simple practicality was the main driver.
Today saw the first of the Saturday Boot Sales so we were out in force this morning to see what was around. Sure enough I managed to secure a few goodies to open my account for this season including a paperback copy of 'The Longest Day' by Cornelius Ryan, a hardback copy of his 'A Bridge Too Far' - this is the 1974 Hamish Hamilton edition - and finally a hardback copy of 'Bounce the Rhine' by Charles Whiting.
My knowledge of the war in the West after DDay is limited to Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge and I have read very little on events in 1945 so the Charles Whiting title was most welcome. 'A Bridge Too Far' and 'The Longest Day' by Cornelius Ryan need little introduction and I think the Market Garden title is one of my most read books on WW2. At the last count this must be around my 6th copy of this and is the first hardback version I have owned. The cost for these three titles came in at a very modest £1.70 so it was a good start to the new seasons boot sales.
Tuesday, 6 April 2010
As previously mentioned I am in the process of relocating my ‘office’ at home and this is in itself a major logistical exercise. Basically, I am acquiring an extra bookcase from my daughter’s room so that her ‘stuff’ will need a substantial reorganisation as a result. She is 14 and is growing out of the myriad amount of ‘little girl’ stuff so this means much shuffling around and boxing up of assorted items as her room metamorphosis’s into a young ladies boudoir. I expect this to take at least a weekend and my contribution will be limited to applying the muscle required for moving units etc and packing – the serious business of sorting will be left to the ladies of the house as they are far better at that sort of thing!
Whilst this is taking place in my daughter’s room I will be decorating the new den and planning what will be going where. The idea is to have the double bookcase along one wall and my existing two storage units across the other wall with the desk along another wall beside the door. My PC will be staying where it is and so the old office will become, to use the modern parlance, a ‘chill out lounge’ cum computer suite. Having the PC located away from the main bulk of the collection is a deliberate choice on my part as I find having both the computer and the bookcase in close proximity to be a major distraction when there is painting to be tackled!
The two big advantages for me of undertaking this exercise is that firstly, I will be able rearrange what is stored where and secondly, I will be able to see what I need to keep and what can be disposed of. My storage space is generous but of finite capacity so care still needs to be exercised in the boxing up and packing of ‘stuff’. For example, all of my War at Sea collection is in dire need of a thematic storage solution so this will be a good opportunity to tidy this up. My plan is to acquire some A4 box files that are half the depth of the standard version. I will be adding magnetic paper to the underside of the ship and aircraft bases and will line the files with magnetic strip. I was fortunate enough to acquire a large quantity of 3” by 5” fridge magnets (extolling the virtues of recycling!) that can be readily chopped up to fit as needed for this particular exercise. I also have the Balkan Wars fleets to consider although at 1/3000th they are not quite so imposing. I have a number of board games that will also need attention – Memoir 44 springs to mind – as well as the Space Hulk kit. Then there is the not inconsiderable 15mm WW1 collection – that will need a new home as well.
Oddly enough I am looking forward to tackling this 1:1 scale project as the end result will be really beneficial to my enjoyment of the hobby as a whole. I will certainly try to avoid the temptation to use the extra space as an excuse to expand the collections further though! Well, I can try in any event!
Monday, 5 April 2010
After the frenzy of hurried dashes to and from the hospital - not to mention contending with an FSA inspection at work it was with great relief that we headed up to Norfolk for a very enjoyable weekend with family. On Saturday we managed to get a couple of hours in Norwich city itself and I made a couple of useful discoveries. Firstly, a very good toy shop called Langleys - good because upstairs has an excellent models and plastic figure section. I did not buy anything but it is always nice to have a chance to see products up close and personal. Secondly, I popped into Past Times to find out about the wooden model village in a bag (Bob Cordery has used this in many of his 15mm Morschauser games) and I am happy to report that whilst they did not have any in stock they are featuring in the 2010 catalogue and were in fact on order as it is a very popular item. the bag retails for £5 and whilst the buildings are a little on the cartoonish side they are ideal to use for gaming.
We returned home on Sunday and had a quick run around to our local branch of Lidl for some bits and pieces. It was there that I came across a really useful and unexpected piece of scenery. The object in question is a grass mat that is more like an outdoor carpet than anything else It is designed for outdoors and is very durable with a very realistic grass colour. It folds flat and the 'pile' is pretty short and so is ideal for a tabletop surface. It measures 1 metre by 2 metres and so can easily be chopped up into bespoke playing areas - I am thing of a 3ft by 2ft, a 2ft square and a Morschauser grid of some size. The price for this was a mere £5.99 so it is cheaper than buying felt!
The Easter break has given me ample opportunity to think about my basing question and I have decided that should I go for the full on Volley and Bayonet approach I will will be using base sizes of two thirds the original i.e. a brigade base will be a 2" square. Trying to place six 15mm foot figures on a 40mm square is a little on the cramped side. I am still thinking long and hard about this whole subject as the lure of the 40mm frontage is a compelling one and should not be dismissed lightly.