Monday, 30 January 2012

Crusade 2012 (Penarth) 6mm Napoleonics - Polemos

Well it was that time of year again.....the annual visit to Penarth Leisure Centre to have a look around Crusade. It's not a bad little show, but to be honest I had had enough after 2 hours. Where something like WMMS keeps me going for 6 hours or more.

The Leisure Centre is a bit cramped, the traders taking up half the hall and the demo games are crushed together in the other half. A good mix of games (IABSM demo etc.) on show, but hard to move between them to view them at their best.

By my reckoning, the traders seemed to primarily be selling terrain pieces, but I could be wrong. Surprisingly, there was little eveidence of 15mm Flames of Warhammer, in fact most WW@ was 20mm. Not very much that was really new, but it was nice to see MJ Figures there for the first time - a chance to finally get a few more Falklands 15mm figures!

As well as this there were the usual military history displays, Napoleonic & DBA competitions, lectures and of course the Bring & Buy.

This was well stocked (though I don't think there was as much on sale as last year), but there were few true "bargains"- I guess people can't afford to part with their unwanted goodies for peanuts anymore. All the same I managed to find a hardback book on WW2 Fortifications for a pound and a Baccus Polemos Napoleonic wargames starter set for just £35!
This set retails at £95 and comprises the 2nd edition Ruleset, painting guides, two armies (each consisting of 10 Foot bases, 12 Cavalry bases & 4 Artillery - about 700 Figures in total), 3 Timecast buildings and enough pre-cut mdf bases for all.

After the fun I had with the ECW rules from this stable, how could I resist trying the Napoleonic version?

Saturday, 21 January 2012

6mm ECW - Polemos

I bought these rules (the Old First Edition ones) from a table sale a few years ago and as I had some Irregular Miniature ECW figures I'd painted up years ago, I decided I'd re-base them to suit the rules to give them a run out.
Pete Berry's Polemos ECW - published by Baccus

There are many reviews on the Internet (mostly very positive about the rules) so I thought they'd got to be well worth trying out, so I was very pleased an opportunity finally arrived this week.

Si prepared by reading through the rules (I'm a Dyslec so it would takes me twice as long!) and he picked a scenario for the action from Charles Grant's Scenarios book, published smoke years ago by WRG. It required one force (Roughly double the size of their opposition) to advance across the table and fight their way through a defended gap between two low, wooded ridges.
Map of our table (drawn in PowerPoint 2007!)
The armies were small (I've only got a small collection!);-
Attackers;-
  • 3 x cannon with teams
  • 8 x bases of mixed infantry
  • 3 x bases of cavalry
  • 1 x base of muskets (Forlorn Hope)
Defenders:-
  • 2 x cannon with teams
  • 4 x bases of mixed infantry
  • 1 x base of cavalry
  • 1 x base of muskets (Forlorn Hope) 
Basing is very important in Polemos. All Infantry & cavalry figures must be on bases that are twice as wide as they are deep (In our case 50x25mm). All move distances and firing ranges etc. are in multiples of base width (BW) or base depth (BD). Artillery are on bases that are BD x BD (or in our case 25x25mm).
During the ensuing action you can see the specially made measurement sticks we used. Marked on one side in BW's and the other BD's (4 BW's long is perfectly adequate for the game as ranges are generally short!)

The intention was to just play a friendly encounter to get to know the rule mechanisms, which neither Si or I were really that familiar with.
The defenders wait expectantly on the road between the ridges.
Central to the sequence of play was deciding on Tempo points (TPS)TP's govern what you can do in your game move. Each level of commander has a designated starting TP level (i.e. General =5) to which you add the roll of 1D6 (D6's are the main dice to be used throughout the rules). You then use a number of the Tempo points to your own choosing to bid for who gets first activation (Holding Tempo). Whoever bids highest gets to choose 1st or 2nd to activate! Then any TPs you have left are used to either move (or at the very end of the turn sequence), rally troops. Whoever hold the Tempo generally moves for less cost.
The attackers march through the village towards where they plan to do battle!
Having moved, the Tempo Player then declares any charges - these are treated in the same way as ranged combat, but use different factors. Failure to succeed at this point means the chargers fail to move to contact.
The brave defenders cavalry unit declare a charge on the attackers.

Then you carry out any ranged combat and finally any close combat.
Initial charge forces on base of attackers back.
Infantry advance into close combat, not charge, so there's no need for them to declare charges. Success in the ranged combat portion of the charge declaration means the cavalry move into contact and decide the outcome through close combat.
Attacker's Forlorn Hope assaults the defending cannon on the right hand ridge line
Ranged combat (and in turn close combat) is very simple to resolve. Each unit type (and indeed troop class) will have an attack/defence factor to which you add 1D6. Then subtract factors to allow for your circumstances (shaken, uphill etc) and finally compare the results - simply subtract the target's total from the shooter/charger's - on a table of outcomes. The lower the result - the less impressive the outcome!
The defended right hand ridge
Outcomes could be;-
  • No effect
  • Halt
  • Recoil
  • Take "Shaken" points
The second Non-Tempo player than declares charges and carries out ranged & close combat.
Finally at the end of the turn, both sides can try to rally troops by removing "Shaken" points with any spare TPs. A Word Of Warning here;- don't expect dramatic outcomes. ECW firearms were pretty ineffective - especially their artillery!
The melee in the centre (on the road) is moving towards a bloody climax. Note the 6mm D6 indicating "Shaken" points

We marked "Shaken" points with little 6mm dice. You can collect up to 3 before you are forced to rout. If you rout into other troops who won't yield, through impassible terrain or off table, then the base is lost. This is the only circumstance when you need to remove casualties!
The final sequence of the turn is to carry out an army morale check, with a D20, if you've lost more than 5% of your total units.

Conclusions.
We liked it! The mechanisms are really quite simple once you get into them and soon you're playing off the QRS in isolation.

The book has soft covers and is printed on glossy paper in black and white. It has examples of play together with diagrams to explain the rules further. Over half the book is made up of historical army lists and historical notes together with some really interesting designer notes. There is a card QRS provided as well as it's inclusion in the rear of the book.

There are a couple of things that we struggled with;-
  1. Manoeuvre:- changing formation, wheeling etc. needs some thought and practice.
  2. Advance to contact;- It takes forever for the two armies to meet one another when foot can at best advance only 2BW per move (100mm) when marching. On our little 3ft square table it took about 4 turns before any attackers were near enough for the defender to react!
Would I play again? Oh yes! I love this period in history, and I think these rules capture this pretty well. They're simple and quick to learn and with perhaps some house rules/agreements to counter the two items mentioned above, I can see them becoming a favourite.

Now where's shall I get some more 6mm figures from........

    My Blog List

    I've just worked out how to add to the page, summaries of the most recent posts from fellow bloggers!

    Now I know how, I'll try and add links to the blogs to those kind souls who follow my blog on a regular basis.....

    All the best
    Tim

    Tuesday, 10 January 2012

    15mm Plastic Soldier Company SDKFZ 251/D - Part Four

    Well I'm on the home stretch now. Just final assembly and varnishing to go.
    If you mount the standing gunner figure, you will likely only fit 3 other seated figures in the back.
    The stowage can be added to suit your taste. To be honest using every piece on every vehicle would be overkill, so I've picked and chosen to suit.
    After all the stowage and figures were glued into place, the models were sprayed GW Purity Seal followed by Army Painter Matt Varnish. the very last step was to attach a bit of static grass to the bases.

    Now the halftracks were completed, I thought I'd better compare them to my solitary Battlefront resin item. You can see below, that they're not a bad match!
    Battlefront (left) vs. PSC (right)
    Battlefront (left) vs. PSC (right)
    Battlefront (bottom) vs. PSC (top)
    Well that's nearly it. Just the shamelessly indulgent photo gallery below, to come before the final judgement..............
    All five finished halftracks
    If you omit the standing gunner, there's room for six seated figures (just!).

    Tank Hunters with added Panzerschreck.



    Conclusions.

    Pro's
    • Fantastic quality - excellent stand alone models
    • All the extras!
    • Value for money (around £3.30 a piece)
    • Good match with Battlefront
    • etc....
    Con's
    • Time taken to build & finish! (worth it though)
    • How strong will they be during gaming?
    • Almost too beautiful to ever use .....
    As you've guessed, I'm really blown away by these little AFVs. I've enjoyed making them and am very pleased with the end result. For my money they're probably the best 15mm 251's on the market . Thoroughly recommended.

    15mm Plastic Soldier Company SDKFZ 251/D - Part Three

    Next job was to prepare all those wonderful extras included on every sprue. With care it's possible to paint these items whilst they're still on the sprue to make it easier to handle them.
    All the extras still attached to two sections of sprue. All bar the minimum number of runners were removed to give access to the figure/item, then the sprue was primed in white before hand painting.
    The gunner figure needs his right arm/MG42 gluing on, and I added a rifle to each of the unarmed figures.
    The figures were painted to match my FiB Panzer Grenadiers. Field grey trousers, smock base coated dark yellow with green and red brown splodges on top.
    Helmets & mess tins dark grey and then the boots and equipment in black. Finally they were washed sepia and dry brushed buff.
    The originally unarmed figure with a rifle added across his lap.
    The stowage received similar treatment. The jerrycans were painted dark yellow to match the vehicles.
    The packs were painted in greys and greens with straps in black and brown.
    Once all were dry, they were removed from the sprues (carefully) and cleaned up. Where needed the paint was touched up before final assembly!

    PSC have really excelled themselves this time. The sculpting of the figures and stowage is exquisite. The figures have character (even though two on every sprue are identical sculpts) and are well scaled and detailed. The stowage is fantastic and could be used to enhance any of the PSC range. And finally the weaponry - MG42's, Rifles and a Panzerschreck..........

    15mm Plastic Soldier Company SDKFZ 251/D - Part Two

    Before I could start with some serious painting, I realised that spraying the halftracks would probably undo all the good work already spent on the internal details. Somehow I was going to have to mask the interior.
    To do this, I cut some bog standard decorator's masking tape and attached it around the top of the hull. Simples...
    The first step was to undercoat them all in white primer to ensure single coat coverage with the top coat.
    Each AFV was blutac'd to a lolly stick (to make them easier to hold), and then sprayed Vallejo Model Air Dark Yellow.
    This was left to dry and then a diluted coat of Vallejo Sepia wash was oversprayed to emphasise the areas of shadow.
    When dry the camouflage pattern was lightly oversprayed in Vallejo Model Air Panzer Green. That done the masking tape could be removed and the finishing touches added.
    The tracks and tyres were painted Vallejo Dark Grey and then given a coat of Fleshtone and Black wash respectively. The Fleshtone does an excellent job of simulating rust!
    The headlight lens was picked out in Sky Blue and the whole model lightly dry brushed with Vallejo Buff to pick out the many angular edges.
    A 6 x 3cm mdf base from Warbases was prepared with a coat of Vallejo Grey Pumice, painted Earth Brown and dry brushed with buff and left to dry. Then the vehicle was glued to the base with PVA glue.
    The final step was to add national markings decals on the hull sides. These were from my seemingly never ending stash of Dragon decals left over from their 1/144 range.

    Well that's the vehicles finished.......just the crew to be done now.....or more correctly, five crews!

    Monday, 9 January 2012

    15mm Plastic Soldier Company SDKFZ 251/D - Part One

    Well I'd been waiting for the Hereford Model Centre to get these in ever since I'd first seen them announced. I bought a single Battlefront example a few years ago and then bought a crew to go with it from ebay, but couldn't face the thought of buying multiple resin items as they'd cost me a small fortune.
    Of all the vehicles used in WW2 this halftrack optimises for me, the German Army and their Panzer Grenadier Units. And of all the models PSC have produced this, for my money, has to be their best so far!

    The five models took me 10 days to do justice so I'm afraid I'm going to subject you all to a rather indulgent write-up!!

    First thing, on opening the box, I was impressed to see how "busy" the sprues were. This is by far the most complex PSC kit I've built so far.
    Each basic vehicle (less weapons, crew and stowage) comprises of 16 parts, whereas the Zvezda example I built in October was only 8 parts. The mouldings were all flash free and really crisply detailed. Each sprue, as well as the vehicle parts, includes the following;-
    • 2 seated crew figures (Driver & Co-driver)
    • 5 Crew figures (4 seated + One standing manning the MG42)
    • 3 packs & a rolled tarpaulin
    • Spare Tyre & Track section
    • 4 Jerrycans
    • 2 Kar98K Rifles & a Panzerschreck
    • 2 separate MG42's (One with AA mount for the rear)
    Straight away I could see that you could make these little beauties into individual masterpieces - no two the same!
      The lower hull (top), hull floor (nearest camera) seats and storage hoppers & Driver/co-driver figure
      The first step was to assemble the vehicle hull. There is so much interior detail here that the only way to paint it, and do it justice, was to do this before you attach the upper hull.
      Lower hull pieces assembled, painted and washed.
      As an opened top vehicle you will be able to see all the internal detail when finished so it really is worth taking the trouble.
      Lower hull assembly with the upper hull ready to attach. Both assemblies painted inside.
      To speed things up a little I only painted the rears of the figures! The lower hull has a separate tow bar to attach - worth fitting it now before you forget it!
      Upper & Lower hulls joined
      Once all the painting was dry I attached the upper hull to the lower hull assembly - as with all the assembly - using Revell Polystyrene cement from one of those nice needle applicators.
      The benches were painted brown to simulate wooden slats
      The interior was painted Vallejo Dark Yellow and washed with diluted Vallejo Sepia Wash.
      The next step was to attach the banks of lockers along each side of the vehicles. It is clear which one goes on which side, and they simply butt up against the upper hull joint to locate them. You can see that I'd painted these off the vehicles but actually needn't have bothered.
      Side lockers in place. The locating bars for the track units indicated "A".
      Now it's time to attach the track units. These are "sided" - the drive sprocket being towards the front of the vehicle when fitted. 
      The track units are located using the moulded bars marked "A". Also note the front axle has been fitted
      They simply glue onto the hull sides and are locate over the moulded bars shown above.
      Also fit the front axle while you're there. Then, lastly, add the front wheels to complete the basic assembly.
      Well that's all for part one! Next we get to finish the vehicle.........

      Sunday, 8 January 2012

      15mm Zvezda BT5 Light Tank

      While at Smoggycon I also bought myself a single BT5 to join my Soviet horde.
      This one only cost me £2.50, the stockist I purchased it from had the entire range available including the 1/144 planes. He had completed, painted examples on display (a great way to entice you in!) and I must say I was impressed with the Stuka & Sturmovik models as well as the Junkers transport (1/200th this one). All the planes include decals and clear plastic for cockpits.
      The kit is packed as usual.
      All the parts 7 parts (less flag) moulded on a single sprue of flexible green plastic.
      The parts can be trimmed from the sprue without leaving too much cleaning up required. You'll see that there are 3 parts to the hull - the bottom (with the front idler axle), the middle (with the track locating pins) and the upper hull. Assemble these three together with a little glue and then attach the track units.
       Assembly takes only a couple of minutes and there you have it!
       The tracks on a BT5 were very simple in design in the flesh so the models simplified tracks don't look out of place.
       Altogether the detail on this little model is very good and captures the rakish lines of the real thing perfectly.
      The model was finished as described in the KV1 article.
      Adversaries - PSC's Panzer IV + Zvezda's BT5
      Conclusions

      Pro's
      • Value for money
      • Simplicity of assembly
      • Lovely looking model!
      Con's
      • I don't like the material these are made from much.....
      • Major surgery to add a commander figure
      As before, really only minor gripes here. Thoroughly Recommended.