Monday 23 November 2015


Here are some pics of the latest editions from the painting tray. Painting time is tight at the moment (it always is), but I try to keep it ticking along somehow, even if its just a new squad here or there. If painting stagnates I fear it might never get started again.

I’ve decided to turn my rather ad-hoc collection of German models into a Fall of the Reich force, specifically for  late 1945 games. They could stand–in in ‘44 in Normandy or the Bulge, but I wanted to give them that late war character, and as a rather 'bitz-and-bobs' collection of stuff I've added over 10 years, they fit right in. So, I’ve added a few new units to them, 2 squads of Hitler Youth tank hunters, loaded down with Panzerfausts, a 105mm Flak gun and crew (including flak auxiliary loaders) pressed into service as an anti-tank gun of last resort and, to help keep them all in the fight longer, an SS Feldgendarme unit of 3 men. Also, still on the painting tray are the dregs of my unpainted German infantry which shall become a rag-tag Volkssturm platoon, but will include a few regulars as their NCOs. They’ll look like rubbish, and probably fight like it, but that’s the style of German army I want (I have my Fallschirmjager battlegroup as a more organised force should I need/want them). I can blag an Atypical squad or platoon from them for larger games.

Also, I had box of PSC 250 half tracks still untouched, so I added them to the force. A 250/1 for a spotter or as a command half track and a 250/9, as I’m a bit short on German recce units, so my sole 234/1 sees a lot of action. The third model in the box is being sent to North Africa to join my DAK force as a HQ or recce unit for 1942 or later games (long term planning here, as the DAK battlegroup is 1941 only atm, but later I'd like it to fight my Yanks in Tunisia as well as the Brits in Libya, which will require some new US tanks - Grants - hurrah!).

All these new models I hope to use at an upcoming event. I’ll be running a BG demo game at Slayer Games in Mansfield on Dec 20th, using Fall of the Reich (I think, or I might go with a festive theme and end up in the Ardenne's snow - choices, choices). More info on this soon. 

All my other German forces have an 88, so I went for something completely different - a 105. Fujimi kit (secondhand from the B and B at the Bovington show), crew by SHQ and Battlefield miniatures.

 PSC 250s camoed up.

 Hitler Youth squad 1

 Hitler Youth kids, squad 2

Papers please... SS Field Police unit. 

Apropos of nothing really, I finished the next  models a while ago. They are for a rebels vs authoritarian security guards in white (no copyrights infringed I believe) sci-fi skirmish board game I was planning, to play with my eldest for our own entertainment. We’ve had one Sunday afternoon game, with some basic rules we scratched together on the back of an envelope (literally). It worked well, my rebel guys broke into the base (very old Judge Dredd floorplans I found in a box, from the 80s) and fought their way to the high security databanks, which they then destroyed with a demo-charge before escaping.  I’ll add a few aliens to my rebel alliance I think, and toughen up the Central Authority guards in the super-armour to make up for my extra numbers. It’s become a homebrew version of Imperial Assault really, but better imho!

 My rebel commando freedom fighters – Infinity models. I need a few aliens really too. Tempted by the CP Model ones. Sometimes known unfairly as the ‘Terrorists’.  Bases are scratch built by me from the bitz box. 

The Central Authority’s tyrannical ISP 'Internal Security Police', fearsome in their white armour (and looking a bit like the power rangers – such it is when a 9 year old decides the colour schemes). They are Hasslefree models chosen by him, and very cool, for the baddies (or forces of law, order and security). 

I'm kind of hoping this might build into a narrative campaign as I fight to free the galaxy and the ISP hunt my men (and aliens) down.  Early days atm.

Friday 6 November 2015


This is an AAR from my Soldiers of God game, played at Stafford Games last weekend (on the last day before it closes to move to new premises) against Andy Tutton. Andy opted to take command of the Saracens, so I had the Crusaders. We both picked our forces and battle plans for a large field battle. I chose to ‘Hold the Line’, making a solid line of infantry and archers, but turning my right battle into a potent counter-attack force of mounted Knights and Holy Orders. I wouldn’t just stand there and hope to take it. I planned a powerful counter-charge when the Muslims got close enough and so would choose to ‘Hold’ a Charge! card when I got one, so I would definitely have one when I needed it. Alternatively, if I got the right card with the 'change battle plan' special event, I’d change battle plan and switch to the right eschelon attack, to better unleash my combat power.

Andy would ‘Hold and Harass’, another very defensive plan. He’d be harassing on the left and right with horse archers backed by his Ghulam, with a solid mass of infantry standing their ground in the centre. So, it would be a very cautious fight for both sides to start with. Neither was in any hurry to get stuck in. (Sorry about that to the slightly confused observers, wondering why so little was happening early on, but in SoG the tempo of the battle can change, and we started in slow, things got a lot hotter after a few slow turns, but SoG isn't usually a rush to middle of the table to slog it out).

 Here are the two forces, as best I remember them.

Right Battle
2 x units Horse Archers
2 x units of Ghulam

Centre Battle
2 x units of dismounted Ghulam
1 x unit of Sudanese Infantry
4 x units of Ahadth levy
1 x unit of Infantry
Baggage Train

Left Battle
2 x units of Arab Tribal Cavalry
2 x units of Horse Archers
2 x units of Ghulam

Left Battle
1 x unit of Dismounted Knights
1 x unit of Men-at-Arms
2 x units of Armed Pilgrims

Centre Battle
1 x unit of Arbalaster
1 x unit of Men-at-Arms
1 x unit of Christain Armenians
2 x unit of Archers
Baggage Train
True Cross

Right Battle
2 x units of Knights
1 x unit of Holy Order Knights
1 x unit of mounted Men-at-Arms

Here is the tabletop, before deployment, but its got the main moves of the battle marked on it. 

1. A very gradual advance by the Muslim right, Andy’s mistake was not having his light cavalry in open order to start with, so they weren’t skirmishers, so they couldn’t make use of the 'Advance, Loose! and Retire' card they automatically had each turn. He had to wait for a 'Manoeuvre' card to open up those formations and then start skirmishing, when they would then become much more dangerous to me.

2. From my centre I sent out a party of crossbows and archers in open formation, to pepper the static Saracen lines. I hoped to do some damage, provoke an attack and then run away as fast as I could – still it was a risky (suicidal) mission, but my firepower would have to be dealt with, the Saracens couldn’t just ignore them or his cavalry would risk being routed. I also wanted to be able to make use of any 'skirmishers only' cards I drew. With no skirmish units at all, these cards are often a bit wasted.

3. The Saracen advance on the right gets too close and I opted for an impromptu counter-charge rather than be repeatedly attacked by horse archer arrows I can do little about. The dismounted knights rushed in and set-to on the day’s hard work, namely killing horse archers. They immediately attracted a lot of attention from the other Saracens units too, until they were fighting 4 enemy units alone. But their Battle Plan’s 'Rally' card kept them going well beyond when lesser men would have routed, they were an immoveable object all game (I rolled well for them too). Eventually, the men-at-arms arrived to help out, and my infantry started to get the upper hand in the melee. One horse archer and one Ghulam unit were routed. Despite looking weak (especially after all the supporting 'levy' armed pilgrims deserted on special events – cowards!), my left was holding and even winning, but it was a tough old struggle demanding a lot of cards from both players.

4. After a prolonged and intense archery exchange, both players spending a lot more cards to keep their units in the fight, the Saracen cavalry charged forwards. I lost my crossbow unit in the fight, but the archers fled back towards their own lines, loosing arrows as they went. The enemy cavalry follow, and caught them again, but when the archers withdrew from the melee again (probably my mistake to let the horse archers shoot at them again) the horsemen’s many arrows overwhelmed the poor archers and saw them routed in a bloody massacre.

5. The horse archers then started to 'Advance, Loose! and Retire' against the waiting lines of knights, inflicting a few points of disorder, which were mostly removed by their battle’s own 'Rally' card. Small beer to these tough guys, for the moment, but I didn’t want to endure their taunts and arrows for too long.

6. The Saracen infantry centre, with no movement cards of its own and too many demands on cards from the left and right wings, just stays in place as their battle plan required. Fine by me, my centre looked a rather thin line compared to that mass and I was happy to wait it out and try to win elsewhere.

7. The decisive moment of the battle. Using my held 'Charge!' card, the knights came forward as one, Templars in the centre, mounted men-at-arms moving into support. Then a second 'Charge!' card and few useful 'gallop' moves saw them all crash home with overwhelming force. Shock impact and lances cause death and havoc. And that’s not all, a third 'Charge!' card in one turn saw another round of melee and the light horse archers were destroyed in bloody massacres, the Ghulam just hung on by Andy throwing away a lot of cards to save them, but the Saracen’s army morale took a beating, suddenly dropping from 14 to 5.  Next turn, there was no let up from the bloodthirsty knights, two more 'Melee' cards from me saw the Ghulams beaten in another bloody massacre and a unit of Arab Tribal cavalry follow. Of six cavalry units in that battle, suddenly only two were left, and both caught in very uneven fights. It mattered not, two turns of bloody ‘shock and awe’ from my knights had broken the Saracen’s will to fight on and the game is over, all their morale value gone... today victory was with the Crusaders.

It’s nice when a plan comes together... for once.

Thanks to Andy, I now know he’s one tough opponent in any game he plays (not just Battlegroup), but still a gent in defeat. He learnt a few things about how to play SoG too, which might be bad for those he plays regularly in Poole.  He also saw the full power of the knightly charge from the wrong side. Horse archers won’t always win the day. 

In SoG it’s not all about what you take, it’s how you use it that counts (and the right cards help too). Here are a few pics of the action, although I didn't get many, the game was too tense and required my full attention, so I forgot the camera after a while.

The Saracen infantry centre (had a easy day watching on). Dismounted Ghulam with Sudanese mercenaries in the front rank, Ahdath levy supporting behind, with their baggage train - a very sensible formation. Pressure on your card hand means you just won't be able to do everything, and so the infantry centre was left in peace until ordered to retreat to fight another day.

Crusader's potent right battle; Knights, Holy Order Knights, more Knights and a supporting unit of mounted men-at-arms for good measure.

My left battle in a bit of trouble, but holding by the grace of God, a saving 'Rally' card and some good dice.  Dismounted knights supported by their command stand, fight off two units of skirmishing horse archers, each supported by a unit of Ghulam. Eventually, the men-at-arms arrived on their left to help out as well. 

The archers and crossbows boldly sally forward in open order and start to hit the enemy cavalry on their left. The enchange of fire was viscious, until the cavalry got fed-up of the even exchange and charged! Then it was time to run way! The archers almost made it back to my lines, almost, before being massacred! 

 The knight's decisive impact, leaving destruction in their wake. And, in a thunder of hooves, it was suddenly all over...

Monday 2 November 2015


Well, another epic Battlegroup campaign weekend is done and dusted. It was a brilliant weekend of gaming as 24 players met at Stafford games for three games each over Saturday and Sunday.  Each player brought a 450 point Battlegroup Barbarossa force, 12 forces on the German sides (almost all Panzer divisions) and 12 on the Russian (mostly Mechanised Corps, but with a few nice infantry-based forces also supporting them). Each player had 2.5 hours to complete their game, or get a result by whichever side was closest to their break point. Victories in games won points for your side, with big (massacres) wins getting 3 points and marginal wins just 1 point. All the points were added together to see if the Germans or Russians had won overall. No individual winners here, you are just a small cog in a far larger machine, fighting to do your bit.

Anyhow, at 10am on Saturday, after everybody had arrived (well almost everybody), and tables had been assigned, the players lined up for game 1. Soon the dice were clattering. The chatter and greeting had been replaced by the issuing of orders, measuring of ranges and the drawing of chits (lots of that). Saturday’s games were the Russian ad-hoc counter-attacks against the German’s drive towards a link-up at Lokhvitsa (and thus encircling Kiev). The meeting engagements saw T-26s and BT-7s on the roll, en-masse, with Pz IIIs and IVs (and a few 38(t)s and even some Pz 35(t)s) meeting them head-on. Soon , artillery was thundering, Stukas (lots of them too) were plunging and Katyushas screaming.  As each game ended I collated the points, and it was close. The first wins went to the Germans, one a massacre (aided by a heinous amount of Stuka Zu Fuss fire), the other the narrowest of wins (over me) by 2 BR (drat, one more counter!).  But the Russians fought back and turned in a few solid wins. They had 3 KV tanks handed out to random tables (these rare beasts were not allowed to be taken by players themselves). All had survived the first round of battles (one broke down and was immobilised, but would be fixed for the next games) and would reappear in the afternoon. The Germans gained extra random timed Stuka strikes to compensate for those KVs.

It was lunchtime, time for the buffet sandwiches and tea and a quick review of the action. The campaign score sat at Russians 11, Germans 10. Very even.

1.30pm and it was time to start it all over again, with a new table and a new opponent. Again, this would be another meeting engagement, more counter-attacks to buy time for the Russian troops digging in at Lokhvitsa behind.  

The afternoon saw a shift in the balance of power. The Russians relentless amounts of light tanks (and the occasional lumbering, far too big ones) saw the Germans stalled. I lost my second game, again narrowly by just 6 BR, so could expect a visit from the commissars for my force’s performance. The first KV was permanently lost, the crew abandoned it after it broke down completely this time. The scores started to roll in. Over the 12 games, the Russian had inflicted 5 massacres on the Germans, with only 1 taken in return. The Germans won 5 games out of the 12, but the Russian tank attacks had reaped a massive harvest in campaign victory points. They didn’t need my help!

It was 4.00pm and we called it a day. As the last games wrapped up their final turns, the score board didn’t look healthy for the Wehrmacht’s drive to seal-off Kiev. Germans 19, Russians 30.

Having cleared the decks for tomorrow, we headed down to the pub, for a review of the day, a chat with fellow wargamers about all things ‘toy-soldier’ (and to find out the Rugby score). There were some slightly glum German commanders about their side’s performance this afternoon. After a solid start, the wheels (well tracks) had come off. Could they pull it back tomorrow?

It was a misty Sunday morning in Stafford as we gathered for the last round of games. Today would see the Russians on the defensive, dug-in. The Germans faced a different task (but they could take a different force if they liked, or use the same one) of overcoming those trenches, bunkers and gun-pits.  

The players were assigned new tables and opponents (except James and Mikhail who found themselves face to face again after meeting yesterday, so I shifted them apart). Everybody had a new table and new opponent again the Russians deployed their defensive positions. It looked formidable. At 10.30 we began. This time I sat out, so I could take photos and answer rule inquires, as well as drink tea and watch the battles evolve (we still had 11 players aside though).

The first results came in, a marginal German win, then a marginal Russian win. It was close again. Looking around I didn’t see many tables with German forces ‘tooled-up’ for fighting the defensive Russians, where were the assault pioneers with their useful equipment, or flamethrower tanks, or bunker-busting artillery? One German player’s advance was completely halted by Russian minefields he couldn’t clear, another ran smack into Andy Greenwood’s ‘Maginot Line’, and saw his panzers vapourising from large Russian artillery deployed as anti-tank guns.  Still, the panzer forces fought valiantly and started to turn in a few more marginal wins, but so were the Russians. As it reached 1pm, the end of the event, I added up the final scores. Both had added exactly 8 points to their overnight score, a very even final round of battles, but the Russia wins yesterday afternoon had secured them the overall win (again). Russians 38, Germans 27. It had not been quite the big margin of victory from Kursk last year, but it was a solid win.

Pete Valinski (he runs Entoyment down in Poole) was the Russian player to earn his side the most points and thus declared ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’, gaining 8 points in two massacres and a solid win. Steve Vine won the Iron Cross, being the only German player to win all three of his games and earning 4 points on the way. Other Germans also earned 4 points too, but took a defeat along the way.

Well done and thanks to all that came and played, and massive thanks to Andy T and Mick P, up from Bournemouth and Poole who helped set-up on friday. Thanks also go to Andy Edwards for switching to an emergency Russian player to even up the sides on Saturday, and my brother Ken for switching on day 2 and using my less than impressive Russian force for me. I had a great time in both the battles I played, my Katyusha strike that saw Mick P lose 4 Pz38(t)s as they rolled over my pre-registered target point will live long in the memory, as will his Stuka’s large bomb scoring a direct hit on my lead BT-7. My first game, against Steve Vine, was such a close call, he fought back well from a dire start when, for a while, I thought I had him on toast. Also, thanks to our host Roland at Stafford Games for the venue (hopefully he’ll have a new one by next year) and to the three players who came the furthest to play, Mikhail, Juho and Juuso from Finland, who stayed up until 3am on Friday night painting their air support in the hotel, just in case it turned up. They gave everybody hard games, we all knew you got a tough fight from the Fins.

Here are loads of photos of the weekend’s battles. I have to say, I loved it, it was all played in the right way, tough fights played in the spirit of friendly competition, no contentious refereeing decision for me to make, only calls or clarifications on the rules.  For those inclined towards numbers, we fought 35 games. The Russian won 20, the Germans 14 with 1 draw. The Russian scored 6 massacre wins, the Germans only 2. 17 (so about half) of the 35 games were marginal wins to one side or the other, so very close games.

Next year, (hopefully) the campaign weekend will be in the desert 1941, so I better get the book written. 

The games underway on Saturday morning.

 My first Katyusha strike, pinning most of the deployed Germans in turn 1. Then my BTs rushed them.

 Katyushas go off! 

 Grey panzers, hundreds of them!

 Telltale smoke column rises of as the first losses are taken.

 And the Luftwaffe arrive, not much seen of the VVS all weekend

 Never will T-34s scare the Germans so much as in 1941 games. But their unreliability prooved their weakness, attracting Breakdowns and German 1 counters as fast as they were draw.

The German casualties rise, this was a costly village to clear. 

 Russians occupy the ruined factory board. The KV-1 has already conked-out!

 Soviet armour massing. 

 The eclectic mix of Russian armour keeps Barbarossa games interesting, here, an SU-5 SP gun, KV-2 (it survived the entire weekend) and various T-26 variants all ride into battle together.

 Andy T's T-34s catch hell from a well-timed 150mm artillery strike, destroying 2 early in the game. 

 But his hordes of T-26s rattle on (quite slowly). 

There they go, burning, little Pz 35(t)s on ambush fire reaped this carnage. 

Not all the boards were open cornfields, this one was the forest/marsh/stream table. Not great tank country. 

 A bold T-26 clatters into the German lines, only to be shot from the rear by an anti-tank rifle from inside the factory.

 Motorise rifles, awaiting the orders to advance to help the tanks. Orders being in short supply for the Russians.

 T-28, pinned and immobilised by a breakdown, not the last to fail to get into the fight.

 A T-35, a suprisingly popular Russian choice. I blame the S-models kit. Hardly anything to give the Germans nightmares though.

 Ouch, the attack has failed.

 My BT-7s on the move. 

 Russian infantry force commanded by Ian Grey. 

 Russian casualties were equally as heavy, burning T-26s would be a feature of the weekend.

 Village and objective secured, at some cost.

 This stream prooved awkward for the Russian armour, being slow, they took turns to get over it. 

Mick P's lovely 38(t)s advance against me in game 2.

 Little Kate is waiting...

Right on my PRTP. Kaboom! 

All four wrecked. But he still squeaked a win anyway.

Second round games hard at it...

 The KV-2 beast, still rolling.

 Ralph Gibson's lovely Germans deployed to hold the road.

 BT-7s streaking off over the horizon, in my expereince, speed is much over-rated. It just gets you into trouble faster. I lost all my BT-7s in both games, to just about no gain.

Horse-towed 45mm gun battery deployed. 

 Day 2. Andy Greenwood's 'maginot line'. 

Dug-in Russians everywhere.

 Horse towed guns... so quaint in a tank battle...

 Cossack charge! Well, not for much longer as the Germans hold that factory.

 Pete Valinski's victorious BT-7s.

 Juho's defence line, bunker hill.

 Carl Hellicar's panzers try to go around it, exchanging long ranged fire.

 38(t)s advancing into artillery fire (again).

 Mikhail's cossacks...

 Not to be outdone, Graham Bayliss' SS cavalry (not pinned). 

 Those horse-towed guns just got hit by a Stuka strike,

 The heavy mob... 

 Well, James' attack has turned into an inferno before the maginot line. He is also parked on a PRTP!

 Andy T's T-26 mob charging again.

 The other KV tank, still rolling too, in game 3 supporting Pete Valinski's BT-7s (like he needed the help).

 My BTs, doing what they do best, burning! The T-34 was still fighting on alone though.

The players. Hero of the Soviet Union Pete Valinski in red (at the front), Iron Cross winner Steve Vine next to him (on the left). 

Thank you all, great gaming weekend, let's try and do it again next year!!