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Thursday, 27 September 2018

Great Escape Games – 12mm Figures for 1914

When I undertook the rebasing of my Pendraken WW1 figures for GEG’s 1914 rules, I found the one figure type I lacked was German early war cavalry.

So, when the opportunity came to visit Colours, I snapped up one of the new pre-packed battalion/squadron packs produced by GEG.

These packs cost £10 and include sufficient figures for 4 bases of mounted and 4 bases of dismounted cavalrymen + one MG base. They even include the laser cut mdf bases for the figures.

Not bad value at all. As an example, to buy the same through Pendraken would cost £9.65 but would leave you with excess figures and MG teams.

The figures needed very little cleaning up (just filing the bases flat) as you’d expect from brand new moulds. They are slightly bigger than their Pendraken equivalents as true 12mm figures.

Detail is crisp and about right for the size of figure, otherwise the proportions can become lost.
They are also robust little chaps. They will survive repeated handling on the table, unlike my Pendraken British Cavalry whose lances bend and break at an alarming rate!

I primed these with spray cans (brown for cavalry and filed grey for infantry) and then added the detail in stages with fine brushes.

Finally, they were based, varnished and flocked. I’m very pleased with these and may be back for more….

Monday, 24 September 2018

Perry Travel Battle

My dear wife had a bit of luck on a lottery the other day, and kindly split her winnings 50/50 :-)

I decided to treat myself to something I'd been eyeing up for a while...the Perry Travel Battle set.

Bought on line (via ebay) it was possible to pick it up for £42.50 delivered, good value I thought?

It duly arrived the other day and I finally got my hands on it this last weekend, and very nice the components look too.

There are already many reviews out there, with some quite mixed thoughts on this game, so I shan't be looking to add to these.

I will of course post some pictures after I've painted it all up though!

The Greatest Raid of All – St. Nazaire 28th March 1942

I recently was fortunate enough to visit the scene of Operation Chariot – the Commando raid on St. Nazaire to deny the enemy use of the Normandie Dry Dock - the only dry dock on the Atlantic Coast of France that was capable of housing the Tirpitz.
The main U-Boat pen looking across from the single U-Boat pen that now stands near the
 old entrance to the Bassin de St. Nazaire, next to the Normandie Dock.
The area where the raid took place also contains the well preserved concrete re-enforced U-Boat pens that were constructed from 1940 by the occupying German forces.
Inside the main U-Boat pens - now a lifeboat station.
The plan for the raid was simple in concept, but difficult to execute.
Plan of the area of the Commando Raid as it was in 1942
(Source: en:Image:Stnz opchr 1942.png by en:user:TwoOneTwo Licence: GNU/FDL)

Signs of damage to the concrete walls 
The Commandos were to destroy 2 pumping houses and one winch house that served the dry dock, and the dock itself was to be put out of action by ramming the gates with an obsolete destroyer (HMS Cambletown) that was packed with high explosives.
The pens now house two permanent museums (not WW2 based surprisingly!) as well as souvenir shops, tourist office and a Bistro!
The difficult bit was that St. Nazaire harbour is 6 miles into the heavily defended Loire Estuary.
The Main U-Boat pens as seen from the area next to the old entrance gates to the Bassin de St. Nazaire,
near to where the Commandos came ashore from the old mole.
The old mole (with lighthouse) where Commandos came ashore.
The raid was a success in that all objectives were achieved, but costly in men lost - of the 611 men who undertook the raid, 228 returned to Britain, 169 were killed and 215 became prisoners of war. 
The gate to the Normandie Dry Dock today (with blue control cabin on top).
The new Loire Estuary bridge can be seen in the distance.
German casualties were over 360 dead, some of whom were killed after the raid when Campbeltown finally exploded.
HMS Cambletown, having rammed the dock gates, waits for her time fuses to detonate the explosive charges on board - her main gun is visible near to a group of German souvenir hunters.
 (Bundesarchiv, Bild 101II-MW-3722-03 / Kramer / CC-BY-SA 3.0)
Cambletown's gun was recovered from the dry dock and today stands as a memorial on top of the U-Boat pen near the Normandie Dock.
Today all is peaceful. The U-Boat pens are larger than they were at the time of the raid and there is now an additional single pen close to where Cambletown came to rest, alongside the old entrance gates to the Bassin de St. Nazaire, which was not there then.
The dock wasn't repaired until 1947. Here the remains of Cambletown can be seen still lying in the dry dock.
  (RAF - Imperial War Museum (Reference Number: C3398))
The dry dock is still in use and today can accommodate ocean going cruise ships in for repair.
The old entrance gates to the Bassin de St. Nazaire, opposite the U-Boat pens today,  give you some impression what those destroyed by Cambletown may have looked like.
The Town of St. Nazaire has been extensively rebuilt since WW2 due to the damage it suffered during numerous RAF raids attempting (and failing) to destroy the U-Boat pens.
As well as the raid, St. Nazaire also remembers the loss of the Lancastria in 1940 a few miles off shore with the largest ever loss of life recorded for a British Civilian ship lost at sea.
Well worth a visit if you find yourself in the area. To follow the course of the raid on foot is easily achieved and access to both sets of U-Boat pens is free. If you are prepared to walk a few extra metres you can find free car parking too.
Tobruk position in the single U-Boat pen that overlooks the old mole.
The base is 300 metres long, 130 metres wide and 18 metres high, amounting to a 39,000 m² surface on the ground, and a volume of concrete of 480,000 m³. The roof is 8 metres deep, featuring four layers: the first one is a 3.5 metre sheet of reinforced concrete; the second is a 35 cm granite and concrete layers; the third is a 1.7 metre layer of reinforced concrete, and the fourth, is a "Fangrost" layer of steel beams, 1.40 metres deep. The roof is dotted with anti-aircraft weaponry, machine guns and mortars. (Wikipedia)

The main flak Tower

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Colours 2018 - a Grand Day Out

Yesterday I made (my now annual) pilgrimage to Colours at Newbury Race Course. A very similar format to last year (and previous years I believe) with most of the big traders occupying the very same spot as they did on previous occasions.

I didn't seem to buy much, but what I did cost me £75!

I wasn't really searching for something new this year, so that controlled my spending somewhat, but I did weaken and buy Men of Company B from Martin Goddard  (Peter Pig) after he did such an eloquent sales job on me! I have already US & VC armies in 10mm, based for BKCII, so with my 4" square Deep Cut mat I should be able to get straight into this.

Deep Cut Mats were present at the show and they were doing a very brisk trade with their mousemat material battlemats - very nice too. I treated myself to one of their little dice mat thingies (£3) - made from off-cut material - just what I always needed!

I had a very pleasant chat with Stuart McCorquodale from Great Escape Games about their 1914 rules. Sadly he's no plans to make a later war version. I think it's time I had a go at some house rules myself. To this end I've bought myself Iron Cross to see how they handle the AFVs, for inspiration. I bought myself a pack of WW1 12mm Cavalry while I was there, as this is the only troop type I'm short of for the game. Nice figures, a pack including the mounted elements, dismounted elements, MG Gunner and mdf bases for £10.

As a useful source for 1914 battle scenarios, I purchased the Battleground Europe book on I Corps' Retreat from Mons. Excellently written and full of sketch maps showing troop positions etc. Perfect research material.

Minibits/Pendraken were a one stop shop for mdf bases, dice frames and dice for my PSC Great War French army, a heavily discounted Warlord Hetzer (£12) also fell into my shopping bag  and finally I bought 20 or so Black Tree Design Fallschirmjager in 28mm, that were being sold at a very fair price of £8 for 10 figures.

The bring and buy was a waste of time for me. The prices being asked were hardly in the "bargain" region....I saw one army priced up at £300! Though there appeared to be a lot of items for sale and lots of people were looking if not actually buying.

The demo/participation games were upstairs on the 2nd floor and I thought there seemed to be more on offer this year. There were several "Cold War gone hot" type games, which was interesting considering my first moves into wargaming all those years ago was doing the very same!

Most games were visually stunning, but many suffered the usual fate of not progressing fast enough for the viewer to see what was happening together with a reluctance from those taking part to engage with those people who had stopped by to watch.

Those that succeeded had a dedicated, outgoing games master who actively sought to communicate what was going on. All groups should take a look at themselves and try to emulate these individuals. Bravo to those that did...

Below are some pictures of what was there. I'll let them do most of the talking. Where I can remember I've credited the presenters. Where I've got it wrong or have forgotten I can only apologise.
Modern 28mm skirmish (Spectre) - A Few Brits & the Hobby
Zeebrugge Raid 1918 - Naval Wargame Society

Battlefront Tanks in 28mm Crawley Wargames Club

What a Tanker! - probably the most popular participation game! - Newbury Wargames Club

War of the Roses 28mm - Penarth and District Wargames Club

The mole at Zebrugge 1/300th scale

Retreat from Moscow 40mm - Wessex Wargames

28mm SAS Raid in North Africa using cut-down Bolt Action mechanics. Another really popular participation game with a very engaging games master! - Maidenhead Reapers

WW1 Middle East - 28mm big battle! - Adrian Shepherd & friends

More of the same

More again - lovely details around the camp scene.

War in Chechnya in 28mm (I think) - Tiny Terrain

Operation Goodwood in 20mm - Friends who like Rapid Fire

The other end of the Rapid Fire Table

Blood & Bridges - Cold War in 1/200th. A board game brought to 3D with Kallistra terrain and miniatures - Chris Wykes & friends

Nice terrain - I particularly like the pylons

Market Garden in 6mm - the South London Warlords . Unfortunately the game didn't move very quickly as they did spend a lot of time talking to people about the game and terrain and the German defence was very good at bottling up their advance! 

I think this was Romans vs. Sarmations in 28mm by Deeprose...but I could be very wrong

Another Cold War game this time in 20mm using Rapid Fire -- sadly by 2pm when I left the Warpac forces were still in the same position they'd been at 11:30 :-(
28mm Samauri Skirmish by the Liverpool War Games Association
 So there you go. Not every game by any stretch, I apologise for those I missed, but hopefully it'll give you a flavour of what was on offer.

I had a good 4 hours of entertainment so cannot moan. I'm not certain, but I think the lighting may have improved from previous years, I certainly didn't seem to have as much difficulty examining stuff. Food and drink were still outrageously dear for a peasant like me, but there's a Tesco and Greggs not far away, and it was a lovely day to sit outside with a packed lunch.

Til next year.....

Sunday, 9 September 2018

PSC's The Great War - The French Army Expansion

Finally it has arrived. PSC are really making a name for themselves with late delivery (originally due for delivery in June 2018) on Kickstarter projects!

Having so far bought the original game (on Kickstarter) and the first expansion - Tanks (again on Kickstarter) I felt obliged to back the latest offering too.
I must say the production values are well up to the standard of the previous too, though, if I'm honest, without the attractive stretch target additions, I'm not sure it's particularly good value for money at £45?
In the attractive box was one 15mm French army pre-cut from the sprues, in a new softer compound plastic. In total there should be 48 infantry, 3 MG teams, 3 Mortar teams, 3 Grenadiers  and a further 14 "Special troops" - a new feature for the rules. In fact I had 68 infantry figures so cannot moan...
French Special troop Types including Flame Thrower, Officers, NCO's, Chauchat Gunners, Engineer etc.
In addition there were 18 "Special Troop" figures to add to each of my existing British & German armies from the original game.
The rule book only covers the St. Chamond & Schneider tanks - not the Ft17
The rule book includes new rules for French troops, their tanks (which, whilst offered as part of the Kickstarter, I didn't purchase as I already have some perfectly good Battlefront examples) and how to use the new Special Troop types in games. Also there were 20 or so new scenarios which include several for the fighting around Verdun.
British Special Troop Types - Officers, NCO's, Lewis Gunners etc.
Two quick reference sheets were included as well covering the new troop types & new terrain hexes.
Quick Reference Sheets
 Finally there were three sheets of (high quality) card terrain hexes to add to those I already have from the first two boxed sets.
Terrain Hexes & Counters
The stretch goals rewards were decals for tank nicknames, an additional set of battle dice, more scenarios (on a loose sheet) a Rather small tank data card & French victory tokens (in card).
Kickstarter Stretch Goals
But best of all were two complete "replacement" armies in the new plastic (already cut from the sprues) including the 18 "Special Troop" figures for each army - British & German - these will retail post-kickstarter for £19.50.
My extra British Army 
This I think was brought about by the unhappiness that dyed in the wool board-gamers felt having to cut the original (hard plastic) figures from their moulding sprues!
The MG's are now single piece mouldings
Whilst I admit, it was a challenge not to damage the British infantry's bayonets whilst doing this, it wasn't all bad. I'm more than happy with my original figures so I don't really need these for the game itself.
Additional German Army
 So I'm currently unsure what to do with these - I guess they could make a good start towards a couple of Square Bashing armies?
Sorted ready for painting etc.