Wednesday 10 July 2024

A Naval Wargaming Miscellany*

*With apologies to Bob Cordery for borrowing part of his blog title!

Shown for completeness - volume one and the newly acquired volume two of the German Capital Ships and Raiders series

It is a bit of mixed bag this post as there are a few periods being covered - it just seemed tidier to roll them all into one!

First of all is the book section. I am delighted to have been able to score volume two of the  German Capital Ships and Raiders of WW2 series - highlights of this volume include the Channel Dash, operations against the Tirpitz, Barents Sea and the North Cape - and the Malta Convoys title was a 50p charity shop find! I have owned Six Frigates previously but this was one of the titles that vanished into the Bermuda Triangle a few years back - at least I think it must have asI do not remember selling it!

Warlord Black Seas 1:700th scale galleys - large and small. These and the Xebecs below feature in the Black Seas Holdfast supplement and form part of a cunning plan….

The Xebecs involve rather more work than the Galleys - they require sails for one thing - but for all that they are lovely looking models

I mentioned in my last post about the two types of ship above and my recent acquisition of a bundle of Black Seas stuff. These would be the first Black Seas models I will assemble and there is a rationale behind this. They have a limited amount of rigging which will be easier for me to cut my teeth on before going full on ‘age of sail modeller’ on the more conventional vessels of the period! For the planned 1st Barbary War of 1801 to 1805 I will not need many models being well supplied with frigates, sloops, brigs and schooners. I do not have any of the big US frigates but that would be easily rectified (and currently is being so).

This will not see the light of day for a while, simply because Developing the Portable Ironclads Wargame is back in the frame, but it will certainly be a different type of Napoleonic era age of sail game. Besides, it is about time I tackled some grown up modelling!

Monday 8 July 2024

Of Wind and Water - Revisiting the Age of Sail

The rule book and supplement that includes rules for using Xebecs and Galleys and a whole host of other stuff besides.

I was rather taken with the idea of Warlord Games age of sail game Black Seas when it was released and even acquired a few bits and pieces for it but for a variety of reasons it never really got going - a fact of which was probably due to timing as I was then knee deep in MDF ironclads and similar!

I am keen to revisit the period at some point but had always planned to eventually scratch build the models - I had perfected the construction technique with the ACW frigates and sloops - although this project was some way down the batting order so to speak.

Anyways, to cut a long story short, I was recently gifted a selection of Black Seas kit - the base game plus extras, including a signed hardback edition of the rules - and so I once again find myself on the horns of a dilemma. Do I pass this on and stick with original plan or do I embrace Warlord Games?

The answer is that is was very nearly the former but I have now settled on the latter - for one small reason.

The Shores of Tripoli? We know a song about that….

Another eminently suitable board game for solo play now in the collection

Xebecs and Galleys and a cracking board game about the First Barbary War (1801 to 1805) fought between the young US Navy and the Barbary Corsairs, followed by the Bombardment of Algiers in 1816 by the Royal Navy, served to fire up the creative juices (the butterfly is highly delighted with this turn of events for sure!) and so a swift trawl through eBay secured some additional models (the aforementioned Xebecs and Galleys) so I now have pretty everything I need to have a crack at this rather different Napoleonic era naval war. It also has the advantage of being relatively small scale which is just as well given that rigging will be involved!

The Shores of Tripoli refers to the involvement of the US Marines in the conflict and the line appears in the famous Marine Hymn.

From the Halls of MontezumaTo the shores of Tripoli;We fight our country's battlesIn the air, on land, and sea;First to fight for right and freedomAnd to keep our honor clean;We are proud to claim the titleOf United States Marine.
Our flag's unfurled to every breezeFrom dawn to setting sun;We have fought in every clime and placeWhere we could take a gun;In the snow of far-off Northern landsAnd in sunny tropic scenes,You will find us always on the jobThe United States Marines.
Here's health to you and to our CorpsWhich we are proud to serve;In many a strife we've fought for lifeAnd never lost our nerve.If the Army and the NavyEver look on Heaven's scenes,They will find the streets are guardedBy United States Marines.

Sunday 7 July 2024

Boot Sale Bargain - At Last!

This has got carnage written all over it!

Cue the Conan soundtrack album - or maybe not!

Despite the erratic nature of the weather recently - wind, rain and blue skies, usually in quick succession and in no particular order - Laurel, holly and I popped out for a short while to the local-ish boot sale for a few hours. As expected it was quite sparse in terms of sellers and none of us were expecting any great bargains.

Until I saw the above that is!

This is a tongue in cheek game of back stabbing, stealing treasure and (hopefully) killing assorted monsters and is described as being a dungeon crawl without the role playing stuff. I am all for fun games, if not down right silly even, as they are a nice change from the more serious games we routinely play.

The game is complete and to be honest looks barely used and cost me the princely sum of £4 which is a small price to play for the laughs this will generate.

One for the family at Christmas as well - it will make a change from Monopoly (and the ‘frank exchanges of opinion’ that usually ensue!) - as it is designed for three to six players.

Boot sale pickings have been very slim of late so this was a most welcome way to break the dry spell. I may even look out some of the other Munchkin titles. Just for a laugh naturally!

Friday 5 July 2024

WW1 In East Africa

When I saw this advertised there was only ever going to be one outcome….

The back of the box

One of the inspirations for the famous Madasahatta campaign organised by Eric Knowles, in which both Bob Cordery and myself took part in (Bob published the campaign journal, complete with the full back story and a biography of Eric following his death), was the campaign conducted in East Africa by the German commander Paul Von Lettow Vorbeck.

I have a soft spot for many aspects of this campaign - the operations on Lake Tanganyika as well as the hunt for the Konigsberg for example - and given that is it quite low level in terms of the numbers involved (although not the area of operations!) it would translate into a Portable Wargame style set up, complete with a naval dimension.

The game itself features a mounted map board - always a bonus - along with the associated charts etc for initial deployments and reinforcement schedules. A nice touch is that all the key naval vessels get their own counter (including Mimi and Tou Tou!) and also the salvaged guns of the Konigsberg! The rules are quite straightforward and are contained in a 16 page booklet. All in all then, it is an easy game to play and one that is crying out to be used as the basis for the figures/models based table top set up.

I do not have any figures for the period - the block armies would suffice - but I do have a selection of models for some of the naval protagonists as part of the planned Madasahatta: The Sequel, set up.

For the present though, I shall go back to Battle for the Bundu for some extra inspiration!

Tuesday 2 July 2024

Returned, Relaxed, Refreshed and Recharged!

The view from the terrace

Our home for the week - very spacious and powered chair friendly

Paella night - it tasted as good as it looked!

One of the two tour minibuses…. 

Another view - the coast is over to the right

Despite the sign the water was perfectly drinkable - greasy as a mountain stream in fact (we were around 1800 feet above sea level)

Laurel and I have just returned from a week in the Andalusian mountains, around an hour from Málaga, and so I am feeling all of the above! It was the first time we have been abroad since our Cuban trip in 2019 and also since Laurel’s surgery in 2022. I am happy to say that, aside from some confusion in Malaga airport on our return, the trip went really well and whilst there were no trips to anything of historical interest we are planing to return next year and with a trip to the Alhambra Palace, possibly Cordoba as well.

As an accessible venue our small hotel was perfect (there were only 6 guest including us!) and the owners and staff did everything they could to make us welcome and keep us well fed. 

For Laurel and I it was very much a trial run - she was nervous about coping with the travel - but I am delighted to say that it all went swimmingly! 

Being knee deep in the heart of what was Moorish Spain certainly served to reignite my interest in the period of El CID and also the events leading up to the fall of Granada in 1492. From a wider perspective my old standby of the Barbary Corsairs has also quietly crept up on me - more of which later.

It is good to be back and we are already planning for next year.

In the meantime though, my next post will outline a few plans and ideas that have taken a more definite shape.

Thursday 20 June 2024

WW2 At Sea

Needless to say Volume 2 is now on the ‘to get’ list!

The moves leading to the destruction of the Bismarck

The rear cover - there are some very interesting looking titles there for sure!

I have a longstanding interest in WW2 afloat via many different rule systems and board games. The Pacific theatre I have gamed almost exclusively using boardgames - Flat Top mainly - whilst the North Sea and Atlantic have seen me using models far more. Having said that, the Avalon Hill game Bismarck has featured on more than one occasion.

I saw the above book at a price that was difficult to refuse - so I didn’t!

I would certainly like to get volume two and although this type of history can sometimes make for a dry read, the level of detail and the how, why and when of the decision making processes, make it invaluable for the budding tabletop admiral.

Do I need another naval project? Well, if I did it would not be a huge undertaking to cobble together a couple of representative forces for the Royal Navy and the Kriegsmarine so who knows?

I suspect you can probably guess the outcome…. :-) 

Tuesday 18 June 2024

Further Thoughts on WW2 Aerial Games

The original starter set for Blood Red Skies. This is no longer available as it has been replaced by a version covering the Battle of Midway which includes F4 Wildcats and the Japanese Zero

The contents - not the painted aircraft.

Six of each - every time I see these two quotes from the Battle of Britain run through my mind!

I certainly did not see this one coming! A gaming chum of mine was having a clear out and so sent the above collection to me for dispose of as I saw fit. Imagine my surprise then when I realised that not only was it an unpunched and unused copy of Blood Red Skies but also that the six Spitfires and six Me109s were painted! It has presented me with something of a conundrum as these are scaled at 1:200th as opposed to the 1:100th of the Axis and Allies: Angels 20 collection or the 1:300th of my 1944 skies over the Reich/8th Air Force set up.

The extras. I will not need the box of Zeroes - mainly as I have the Midway version on order - but I will certainly hang on to the Saburo Sakai ‘ace’ box. I will get some opposition for the Mustangs - perhaps some 109Gs or FW190s, possibly even some Me262s if I was feeling brutal. A box of P47s for the Americans might be useful as well….

I must admit that 1:200th makes better sense in terms of a scale for WW2 aerial games and having three scales in my WW2 aerial collection probably does not!

The rules for Blood Red Skies, after closer reading, make a lot of sense but they should not be thought of as a set of plane to plane combat rules. They are more concerned with the use of formations and so for the veteran plane to plane aerial gamer they require a rather different approach. 

They are also not grid based which would be a first (actually a second if you counted my Wings of War/Glory WW1 collection) for me as all of my WW2 aerial adventures have been firmly hex based.

With the caution and careful forethought that I am renowned for (really!?) I have taken the decision to invest a little further in the game as I reckon it would better suit the types of action I want to recreate.

With this in mind I will probably offload the 1:300th and the Axis and Allies collection in due course but we shall have to see how this works out first.