Thursday 25 April 2013


Well, with BGO a happily completed project, I thought I'd look to the future, and paint some tanks...

So, I've recently started a few additions to my Russian, US and German battlegroups, for the forthcoming Fall of the Reich supplement. Nothing radical, just some extra big stuff, which is a joy to painting. Also in the pipeline, 6 JS-IIs.

 ISU-122 battery. The closest 2 are SHQ models, the furthest is a Pegaso model with an AB crewman (awaiting metal gun barrel).

I like my tanks dirty! This ISU has just waded the Oderbruch on its way to Berlin. The mud started out as a gooey mix of PVA glue, flour and mid-brown paint, which was stippled on. After drying, MIG Rubble Dust pigment was liberally added over the top.

Same here. The decals are Flames of War ones, which work well at 20mm (maybe better than 15mm).

My US are getting a Pershing platoon. All are diecast ones which I've added extra highlighst to, then weathered. I started with a liberal wash of dark brown/black. Then highlighted. Then weathered again.

In detail. The crewman is AB again.

This is a new peice of terrain. It's actually a 1/72nd remote control Tiger from a game, which had stopped working. Rather than bin it, its been quickly repainted (it was grey), then burnt out. Looks like it got a rocket through the turret roof.

The same game included a T34/85 as an opponent. It too had been damaged in play, too delicate really. So I wrecked it as well. Major ammo cook-off!

 Mulitple penetrations have torn the turret to shreds. It'll look great amidst my ruined buildings.

Japgdpanther, which I bought from Anthony Barton, as he was selling off some of his collection at Vapnartak in York. I love the vehicle, but have never had one for my Germans. All I've done is add a few light washes, some weathering and a crewman. It's lovely, and therefore no doubt doomed to destruction the first time it sees a battlefield.

 Up close. The light washes have helped bring the detail out.

A new Kubelwagon for recce. Another Anthony Barton sell-off, with Brittania crew and stowage added.

I'm not a military modeller, my collection is for play with... I just want nice stuff to do it with. I'm also happy to take any short-cuts I can, because painting time is always tight these days. My style was recently described as ' artistically sloppy', in a nice way, which is fine by me.

Monday 22 April 2013


Gref du Pont, under attack. Note, fleeing German supply wagons.

Salute has been and gone for 2013, and Battlegroup Overlord got off to a roaring start. We had three demo-games at the show, the first was GMG’s great Omaha Beach assault, the second was Neil Tew’s ‘When Chaos Reigned’ 28mm game, which won the best demo-game award for its superb pro-built terrain and fantastic pro-painted miniatures (by Troop of Shewe), and my own Inland from Utah game.

Here are a few shots of the game table. The light in the Excel hall is appalling for photos, and without a tripod I struggled to get many usable snaps. The midst of a big show isn’t the place to play games properly, but Andy and Russ gave it a go and got through four or five turns of action around the fictional village of Gref du Pont. Suffice to say here, the US airborne, supported by the arrival of a cavalry recce group (made up entirely of jeep teams, M8s and M5s) soon had the defending Fallschirmjager and counter-attacking Ersatz Panzer battlegroup (consisting of R-35s, some other French kit, and a whole Panzer III – like a Tiger on this battlefield!) in trouble.

The village itself was shelled by direct fire from the airborne's 75mm light howitzers and then 82mm mortars and the combined attack of infantry and M8 armoured cars saw the Fallschirmjager being overrun. They lost their sole 88 to a direct mortar hit in the first turn, and their Panhard AC to a stealthy bazooka team, as well as the panzer grenadier platoon commander’s 250, racing over the bridge on a quick recce into town, before it came to a sticky end thanks to a 37mm M5 Stuart’s gun (not something that can often be claimed). Even the much vaunted Nebelwerfer strike failed to do much damage to the main attack, and it was obvious the village must be surrendered as the US armour cars flanked it, heading for the bridge, and M5s were parked up the main street.

West of the bridge the airborne troops outpost on Hill 20, around the water tower, made a good fist of holding onto their isolated position, and the R-35s sent to remove them were no match for veteran troops in the hedges with bazookas. It was declared a solid win for the US, even in such a few turns. The important bridge could not be held.  

Thanks to all those who came to say hello and see the game. Thanks to Andy and Russ to who freed me up to do the talking and field questions (and sight-see and shop). 

 Hill 20, looking at the arrival of the not-so fearsome panzer column.

 Crashed Waco, south of the village. Fallschirmjager are lurking behind the hedge not far away.

Long range 105mm HE fire from across the river prooved ineffective.

 King of the battlefield, the sole Panzer III. It shelled Hill 20, with poor results.

 The German heavy mortar support harrassed the US attack, but again, it didn't help.

 The ramshackle German armour. Marder I making for the high ground (it didn't make it).

 An M8 braves 37mm anti-tank gun fire on the edges of the village. A duel it won.

The Pak36 pinned by MG fire from the M8. Behind it, the smoking Panhard AC lies on its side after a bazooka shell from a skulking airborne team caught it unwares.

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Villiers Fossard - afternoon

In all the last minute scurrying to get BGO ready and back by Salute (this weekend), I forgot to post the second part of my Villiers Fossard game. So here it is, rather picture heavy, but enjoy.

I hope a few people can come a say hi at Salute on saturday, I'll be around the PSC stand and its twin demo games for BGO, 'Inland from Utah' and GMG boys' amazing 'Omaha' game, come and see that board at least, its a site to behold.

But, it was all worth it, the books will be on sale at Salute, and all pre-orders will be going out straight after.

After a ‘quick’ drive down the M6 to Wolverhampton, and the second game was played out at WMMS on Sunday afternoon. Again, here are the forces involved. This was a 1000pts aside ‘company’ level attack/defence scenario, with the FJ dug-in holding Villiers Fossard itself and the US attacking over the stream (my river is probable a bit big for what it actually is). On turn 3 the US armoured reinforcements would start arriving at the rate of D6 units per turn, along the road, or within 10” either side of  it.

US attackers, Villiers Fossard - afternoon game
FHQ in jeep, with radio communications upgrade            
Forward Signals Unit, radio truck                                              
Infantry Platoon (inexperienced)                                            
Infantry Platoon (inexperienced)                                            
2 M10 Tank Destroyers                                                                 
Aerial Observer – L4 Piper Cub                                                  
Battery 2 105mm guns (off-table)                                            
Forward Aid Post                                                                            
Sherman Dozer                                                                                
3 x 1st Priority artillery requests                                                 
3 x Timed on Target barrages                                                     
2 M8 Armoured cars                                                                      
Armoured Infantry Platoon in 4 M3 half tracks                   
M8 HMC                                                                                             
Sherman Tank Platoon (3 x 75mm)                                          
Forward Observer Team in Jeep                                                              
Totals:  998 pts  62 BR     7 officers  2 scouts

Defenders, Villiers Fossard afternoon game                                                                         
Forward HQ in Kubelwagen        
Forward Signal Unit, radio van                   
Wire Team                                                         
FJ Platoon (veteran) with 4 x pzfausts
HMG 42 team                                                   
Pzschreck Team                                                               
80mm mortar team
FJ Platoon (veteran) with 4 x pzfausts
HMG 42 team                                                   
Pzschreck Team                                                               
80mm mortar team                                        
StuG III G Battery                                            
Forward Observer Team                              
Nebelwerfer Team                                        
Nebelwerfer Team                                        
Fortified Building (church)                                           
Fortified Bocage                                              
1 Minefield                                                        
1 Booby-Trapped Building                                           
Panhard 178 armoured car                          
3 x Snipers                                                         
Supply Truck                                                     
88m Flak36 with loader team + tow        
Pre-Registered Target Point                       
2 x Counter Battery Fire missions             
3 x Timed 80mm mortar barrages            
Totals 996 pts    60 BR     4 officers   4 scouts

I know the FJ won the last game, but we can assume that a later attack pushed the FJ back to allow this game to happen in the afternoon (I didn’t want to replay the same game anyway).

I deployed the FJ defenders again. My plan was for a defence in depth. To have a first ‘delaying’ line of resistance watching the stream, using the fortified bocage, snipers and HMGs to cause havoc for as long as possible. The OP team in the church would call in werfer fire and the pre-registered target point would allow the two 80mm mortars to keep up a harassment barrage turn after turn (which it did to great effect).  On turn three I would abandon this frontline, and leave timed mortar strikes to hit it (hopefully with the Americans now there – this worked well).

The StuGs would be arriving in reserve, on the two roads from St Lo, as would the 88. The platoons scattered themselves through the buildings (including the fortified church), but I decided my outnumbered forces would give up the first objective (the farm) and leave it mined on the road outside and booby-trapped.  I spread out into ‘pockets’, knowing the American artillery can be devastating and knowing the Piper Cub would be circling overhead again.

The US forces all deployed on the far side of the stream, and took the first turn. They set off across the stream, wading in, and we decided it was dangerous ground for vehicles. The Sherman dozer tank and two M10s nosed forwards very slowly. This was met by ambush fire from my 2 HMG42s and 3 snipers, causing some pinning as the GIs hit the deck or scrambled into the bushes.  In removing that pinning the US pulled and air attack counter, and surprise, surprise, a P-51 banked in to cause havoc.

The FJ’s first turn saw the mortars start their turn by turn harassment into the US lines, and more MG and sniper fire. Others got onto ambush fire, and the StuGs began to advance to join the fight. The 88 and tow raced up the road, ready to deploy to cover the road through the village. It didn’t get the chance as the P-51 strafed along the road and destroyed the tow, leaving the crew to push the wheeled carriage very slowly for most of the rest of the game (it finally got into position on the final turn).

 The US infantry scrambled on, on their left they were in trouble, heavily pinned by hails of MG fire. Return fire from BAR teams did wipe out one of the HMG teams, and the other was pinned by MG fire from the dozer tank. On the right the GIs moved faster and quickly made the hedgerow against sporadic mortar fire only. They also wandered into the minefield in front of the objective, but failed to set it off – drat. The Piper cub flew off to find my werfers (not hard), which drew 105 fire, only pinning one. I realised now that I should have split them up to avoid both being in the same target area, hindsight being 20/20 and all that...

The delaying defence of the first hedgerow was almost complete, my survivors began to pull back into the church, leaving only a sniper behind as a rearguard, but he continued stirling work in keeping GIs heads down (and was still alive at the end of the game). The first timed mortar barrage hit, and caused more pinning (I used it as harassment barrage too), and the first werfer cut loose. It added more pinning, with a direct hit wiping out the platoon HQ - LT down!

It was going well, I had dished out 8 counters and taken 3. It didn’t stay this way.

The US artillery got going. 8” Corps-level guns smashed the farm next to the church and wiped out its defending MG team, and pinned the Panhard 178. More 105 shells hit my mortar teams, but only pinned them (still a pain though, the Piper cub was conducting its own on table counter-battery fire).  The P-51 swung back in and strafed up a Nebelwerfer team, who lost a man, and in a ‘beyond the call of duty; action hit fire! The resulting shells on the PRTP caused more death and pinning. The first farm objective fell. The US broke it, and I rolled a 1 for the booby-trap so it didn’t go off – foiled again!  Also the first US reinforcements arrived, three Shermans rolling on past the farm and heading for the village. Not seeing my squad on ambush, they loosed their panzerfaust at the lead tank, which hit, then glanced off! Hmmm... like that then hey!

To add insult to that insult, another US aircraft showed up. A P-47 with 4 bombs swept in and dropped them into the village as they attempted to wipe it off the map. A direct hit wiped out a squad lurking in a barn as it collapsed on them. Three US aircraft where now circling overhead.

My StuGs moved forwards to engage. On the left one found a clear flank shot across an orchard, and destroyed the Sherman platoon HQ tank. The other StuG in the centre missed, whilst in the village the third reached the church and took a shot at an M10, now at the hedgerow, and also missed. Much to my disappointment (I‘m getting used to it), the M10s return fire blew it up!

So it would continue. More artillery fire, more mortar fire, and the US reinforcements piling on. Their armoured infantry quickly dismounted, to avoid placing those vulnerable half tracks in harms way, and joined the Shermans advance. The Sherman missed the StuG, and ran out of their 3 AP shells (oh dear), but little did they know, the StuG only had 1 shot left (which missed) and then withdrew to find its ammo truck. That duel had been inconclusive.

Things got hot in the village, volumes of 105 shells rained in on the church, and then I pulled a mine strike, played it on a Sherman, only to roll a 1, have it played on my flanking StuG and see it explode. The defences on my left had crumbled to nothing (1 MG team then), and the village was being outflanked to the west. How long could I hold on and risk encirclement. Not long. The counters had been piling up (I’d used quite a few tactical co-ordinations early on too, but veterans are so good at it!). The P-51s last strafing run saw my radio van brew-up (like it was hurting anybody), and the P-47 dived in again to strafe my hard hit ‘werfer crews with its 8(!) MGs. It was a messy end.

I was almost done. I now had 22 counters, my opponent 16. There was time for one last hurrah. In his turn of shooting-up the church (or what was left of it after all the artillery), I got a ‘beyond the call of duty’ counter, which I used on a Panzerschreck team. It fired once at a Sherman dozer, once at an M10, and got both – heroics, but only in a losing cause.

The order to withdraw came. I had lost half my infantry, 2 StuGs and would have to abandon the 88 (it never got a shot in).  I had inflict 42 loss BR on the US, but it was a solid US win. The village had fallen, mainly thank to some fearsome artillery requests (corps-level 155s hurt a lot), and the USAAF who put in good work in a ‘follow-on forces attack’ mission, and basically kept my werfers out of the game, as well as hunting down easy ‘soft-skin kills’ for the counters.

It was a great game (lasting just 4 hours, but both of us are experienced players). It felt brutal as an infantry force under the US bombardments, and their aircraft added to it, which I guess is right for Normandy. But my out-gunned veterans had fought hard, and done significant damage before giving up their ground.  For the campaign, the US had earned 13 victory points, whilst the Germans earned 8. So, the scores now sat at US 18, Germans 17, with the evening counter-attack still to play.  

Thanks to all those you drop by to say hello, ask questions and take a look at the new book’s proofs.  All the enthusiasm really helps when it comes to getting stuff done...