Thursday 28 May 2020


Lock-down has meant time for miniature painting has dramatically increased, as for many gamers I'm sure. This though, has meant a few old projects have been finished, along with the back log for Vietnam skirmishes, a new 20mm German infantry platoon and few other 'shelf queens' cleared out. I found myself without much to paint (disaster). I am not one to have huge numbers of unpainted miniatures piling up (obviously, we all have some). So, after a few weeks off from painting, I've decided it was times to start with something fresh. Something new, something I'd only attempted in these strange times. A new army for a new period.

My earliest wargames, back in 1982-83, were using Charles Grant's Napoleonic rules, photocopied from the back of a library book and using Airfix soldiers bought in the toy shop. They were the first games we ever played on a table, with dice to resolve the action (rather than rolling marbles). We were young, the games were terrible, but a small group of local boys were all busy buying and daubing Airfix men for Napoleon's battles (many were not actually Napoleonic soldiers, we had ACW cannons, Bedouins on camels, some French foreign legion troops!).

So, back to Napoleonics. I've avoid it for years, mainly to concentrate on WWII as my main period and getting everything I wanted for that. But my WWII collections are massive now, so, after just 38 years, its time to go back to fighting Napoleon.

I was tempted to just collect my first wargaming army again - British, for Waterloo. There are lots of plastics now, good ones too, and it would be pure nostalgia for me, but I've be doing my research and reading David Chalmers' 'Campaigns of Napoleon', a hefty tome suitable for lock-down. Inspiring stuff, I decided to rethink. British are a well trodden path, always popular with Anglophile wargamers (and we won). I went off the idea and started to lean towards something else. It couldn't be the French, which would have been my first choice, just because you get some much use from them and can fight everybody, but my main opponent already has a large 28mm French army - he's collected it for years. So no French, and 28mm is a must.

In the end, it came down to one of two, Prussians or Austrians (all very Germanic). Caught on the horns of indecision, and wanting to get on with it whilst I had the time, I flipped a coin... here are the first results, as I test out my painting plan for mass production. A lot of painting to do over the next 8-9 months, I'm planning 200+ infantry, 50 cavalry, 10 guns. That should get me a fight-able force for 2021... when campaign season opens.

First batch of Victrix Austrians as a test, various ways of getting a quickly shaded white base. Working on 50 at a time, and 2 months for each brigade to get finished. First battalions well on the way.

Rules of course have already been started too.

Saturday 9 May 2020


A bit of knock-about fun, my youngest has a lock-down project, to get his Scouting hobby badge, so he decided to write a set of wargames rules for his favourite toy soldiers (I have no idea where he got that idea from). He’s been playing around with the ‘HALO’ guys and aliens on his bedroom floor, and how has a set of rules, using D12s(!), so I agreed to do some first play-testing.

We dug-out my Warhammer Realm of Battle desert boards and my sci-fi terrain for our own sci-fi world, Zentauri-Alpha, where the human colonists and miners are under attack from the rival Urtheni Empire, covertous of the planet’s mineral wealth. The human forces are either tough colonist militias or the trained soldier of the 8th UE Shock Regiment, sent from Earth to defend the planet from the increasingly aggressive Urtheni and their army of various enslaved or allied races (the Urtheni themselves are rarely seen, semi-mythical figures with, rumoured, mind-control powers that they use to dominate other races - very dangerous). Their rapidly expanding empire is a major threat to Earth’s far colonies. Enough background… suffice to say, it’s an arid desert world, rocky, with a scattering of human colonies and a lot of human industrial activity (most via automated mines and factories). These are the key locations for the Urtheni’s troops and humans to fight over.

Our game, the Battle of Atrya Ridge, saw the humans and Urtheni clash over the local automated factory works, the alien raiders having just taken it. The 8th Shock Regiment’s heavily armoured troops have been dispatched in their combat-shuttles to drop in and take it back. Fight on.

Here is a bunch of photos from our afternoon’s fun. It didn’t go so well for the 8th… defeated in their assault, they withdrew to be evac’d back to base. For models we use all manner of stuff from various sci-fi ranges, including GW stuff (mostly TAU head-swap conversions), converted old Battletech Mechs, Dreamscape plastics (with replacement Anvil Industries resin helmets), there are some Infinity models that suit and vehicles from other smaller manufacturers too - I love the Antenocitis Workshop scout buggy.

 Atrya Ridge, humans attacking along the length of it, to it's left and right.

 Automated extraction plant and landed combat shuttle.

The wind sculpted deserts of Zentauri-Alpha. 

 Alien Loor tracker team - they move in single file to disguise their numbers!. CP model's Loors. 

 Scouting out the area, before the humans arrive.

Touch down, first squad out, the lightly armoured colonist militia scouts, but they know the ground. 

Shock troops HQ squad, air strikes on call for when they spot the enemy. 

 Urthenti slave soldiers fan out.

Move out! Heading towards the main extraction unit, and that firing line. 

Militia scouts come under the first fire, from the lurking Loor in the rocks. 

 Loor on the ridge, and firefight hots up. But the ferocious desert-native aliens are shot down.

Dune buggy arrives at speed, to add some supporting fire for the shock troops.

Urthenti squad engages it at short range.

An automated weapon is set up by the 8th (Anvil Industries gun).  Trying to match the Urtheni's advanced weaponry and firepower.

 Air mobile 'Scorpion' light tank, joins the assault by the human's right.

Urtheni drone weapons carrier, holding the 'supply depot' objective. It hits the dune buggy, but it's only minor damage. Infinity model. 

 Shock trooper squads in full assault on their left. 

 On the right, the human 'armour', the three converted colonist mining robots lead the assault, slow, but tough. They take a beating.

Urtheni weapons drone (airborne), arrives as more reinforcements. 

The last Loor scouts stalks the Shock trooper's officer on the ridge. He shot it dead... phew!  Those Loor scouts are cunning and dangerous. 

Robots into the assault.

The Urtheni battle-line, issuing a withering hail of blaster fire. 

 First robot is hit and smoking - heavily damaged.

Kaboom! It explodes. 1 down, 2 to go.

Dune buggy makes it to the supply depot and takes the objectives, and is then destroyed as the Urtheni take back the lost objective.  

 Urtheni slave infantry. They seemingly fight for their strange masters without a care for their own lives.

Urtheni heavy battlesuit arrives with serious firepower, to match the enemy tank. 

Behind you! Scout drones speed into the rear and surprise the shock troops on the left. 

End game, the assault on the right has failed, troopers gunned down, 2 robots destroyed, the 8th pull back. They'll neither objective and the looses have been heavy.

Sunday 3 May 2020

Pacific Landing - Raid on Rangudo Bay

Just a one-off game, 600 points a-side for an amphibious assault scenario, with the Japanese dug-in against a US Infantry Division battlegroup (I don’t have US Marines and can’t face painting another force that so similar - but different).

Here are the two force lists (roughly);

US Forces
Comms Relay team
Infantry Platoon + MMG team
Infantry Platoon + MMG Team

2 x M5 Stuart tanks
1 x M4 Sherman ‘Zippo’

Alamo Scout Team
Shore Fire Control Team
2 x 4.7” naval guns (off-table)

2 x LCMs
1 x LVCP
4 x LVT(A)-2

Timed P-51 air strike (2 medium bombs)

39 BR, 4 officers and 1 scout

Japanese Forces
Cautious Enemy (-D6 US BR, I rolled a 1!)

Infantry Platoon (upgraded to Elite)
75mm Infantry Gun

1 I-Go tank
Battery of 2 x 81mm mortars

1 Type-94 tankette
45mm AT gun + gun dug-out

2 LMG Spider Holes
2 Tunnel Entrances (1 contains a rifle squad, 1 the platoon's light mortar squad)

Timed Zero air strike (2 small bombs)

45 BR, 2 officers, 2 scouts

For terrain, we decide that once off the beach, the entire board was jungle. All units would always be obscured and in at least soft cover, and the many volcanic rocks were hard cover. The big rocky headland dividing the bay (we called it the Rock) was all hard cover. The ‘river’ was a low, slow tidal creek, and not deep, so only difficult ground to cross (unless you’re an amphibious LVT), but provided no cover (but watch out for crocodiles). There were 3 objectives, one on the river banks on the left and right and centrally on top of the hill - the US’ actual target. 

With the Japanese scattered through the jungle, but with only their Nikado suicide trops on the far side of the river, hiding in rocks for their ‘operation certain-death’ of attacking the US armour as it got off the beach.

Time to get going. The US got off to a terrible start! Out-scouted and with the Japanese holding 2 objectives, that was 3 counters, then a mortar bomb’s direct hit KO’d an LVT and pinned the units clambering from the wreckage, so 1 for the loss, then 1 to unpin, and that’s 5 counters to the Japanese zero (pun intended) by the end of turn 2. My three AT teams went into action, 1 rushed an LVT head-on and was cut down by MG fire. The second was pinned in the rocks by more tank MG fire, but the third saw his chance as the ‘Zippo’ rolled up the beach. No ambush fire (a mistake), and with the dismounted infantry all just unpinned from their close encounter with the mortar stonk, my guys rushed the tank - ‘Banzai!’. Rolled a 6 and Kaboom!, the Zippo went up in a fireball! Suicide bombers also removed of course!

In return, the US shore fire control team were finally at work, in place at the foot of the Rock, they started to hammer the river line, systematically left, right and centre, using a lot of harassing fire. The shells whistled over and made life along the river line miserable for my cowering riflemen. The USAAF P-51 swooped in and dropped its bombs on the high ground objective, and scored a direct hit on my AT gun… so, no more gun! The Japanese had their first 2 chits.

The US reached the top of the beach, having sprayed a lot of MG fire into the jungle. 2 squads dismounted, whilst the others stayed on board their slow rolling machine-gun fortresses. A M5’s machine guns dealt with the last anti-tank team. Threat eliminated.

Turn 4, my Zero raced overhead, avoided the AA fire from the ambush fire waiting on the LCVPs MGs, and dropped two bombs on the beach and roll, err, double 1 - wow! They were off into the sea, and we decided that doesn’t even count as under air attack - must have been a very rookie pilot. The two LCMs reversed back out to sea to help collect the next wave.

Up on the Rock, where the Alamo scouts had spent the night and were now the back-up forward observers - they had a good view of the river, the Japanese suddenly appeared from their caves. The light mortar squad and an LMG spider hole deployed, to drop a hail of mortar shells on the beach and add to the heavy pinning. The LMG targeted the Alamo scouts and got 1 of them, a mini fire-fight that would continue until only 1 scout remained when the single LMG guys was finally killed.

Return fire up onto the rock was ferocious from LVTs twin pintle MGs, in all directions, just lashing the Rock. My mortars were, in turned, pinned down and then being whittled away, until only 1 knee mortar team remained. As a last counter attack beyond the river my rifle squad emerged into the light and close assaulted his Platoon HQ, but killed only 3… a rude ambush, but their return fire and then the comms relay team and FHQ helped out too (always bad when the HQ guys are in the firefight), but they saw off the last of the rifle squads charge. That could have been better.

By now two LVTs and two M5s had reached the river and been under more mortar fire, which was doing little… gunning engines the Alligators dived into the creek and swam across, both still full of men. On the far side they de-bussed, taking one objective when M5 HE fire (??) KO’d my infantry gun, which had been shooting at them with HE itself as the world’s most useless anti-tank gun. The counters had now evened up, I had 13, the US had 12… very close.

The Japanese tanks had arrived from reserves but the mini armoured counter-attack (I at least figured the tankette could KO an Amtrac) was terrible. First, the tankette having fought its way through the undergrowth, failed to spot and didn’t fire at the Amtrac (dense foliage here), only for an M5 to see it and - 6 - hit. Whammo - dead tankette. The I-Go, well, it broke down on a special counter and did nothing… stuck at the back of the table immobilised. Japanese armour doing what it does!! - useless. Things now looked bad for me. My light mortar squad on the rock was finished off by US BAR and rifle fire, but not before I remember it had an AP rating (of 1) and could damage an Amtrac (one was still on the beach firing at them). Auto spot, roll to hit (direct fire with HE) - Hit. Penetration 1 vs LVT’s armour (rear) of O (the very bottom of the table, don’t think I’ve used it before). Rolls a 10, boom!, right in the back of the Amtrac and it was KO’d… good shot!  Then he died!

The Japanese now had little left. My FHQ on the hill top objective. 3 riflemen pinned on the left and the objective on the river to the right was held by 2 men with an LMG, against a fully loaded Amtrac, fighting its way through the underbrush to get there after wading the river. It would unload 2 squads. That would fall, so another 2 counters there would end it for me. My counter total was at 45.. so bang on.

My last turn, with just 4 orders… with only the FHQ and the LMG team left, so, just another barrage and that would be it. He dropped it over on the Rock, where US infantry had finished mopping up, but a deviation landed it right on the FHQ and his comms relay team. ‘Incoming!’ 3 direct hits! The FHQ was suddenly gone as was the comms team (1 man pinned), and 3 counters inflicted. The US still had 8 BR left, these 3 counters totalled 9! Broken. The loss of the captain and his radio men caused the US attack to pause and pull back. They had got to the creek but the Japanese were not giving it up today, the narrowest of narrow wins, by a complete fluke (and if they hadn’t lost 1 point for the Cautious Enemy, they’d have still been fighting!).

Below are some shot of the action… a really good game, tense at the end with 8 Japanese left, so I’d pretty much given up any hope of a win, even after a great start. The US came back strong, so much firepower. Gotta love an Amtrac, they were beasts…

Hit the beach. 2 LVTs, Zippo's LCM and HQ's LCVP.

Japanese mortars to hit the beach pre-registered target point. 

 The other side of the Rock

 Alamo scouts, up on the Rock, having landed last night. 

Accurate mortars making getting up the beach hard work. LVT Ko'd in first barrage.

 Banzai! Suicide AT team's victim, the Zippo, burns. 

 USAAF P-51 drops in, must have long-range tanks on. 
I need a naval fighter for this type of game I think.

 IJN dug-in on the hill objective. Just before the AT gun got a bomb on it!

 The explosion is the target point of the Zero's air strike. The dice, his bomb's accuracy.
'Zero' is the score out of ten for that effort! Should have been a good shot.

First off the beach. 

 Light mortars appear from their cave, onto the Rock, to start dropping more shells on the beach. They eventually KO'd the Amtrac (top right).

 Holding the river line, the infantry gun, used to target M5s, which are Tiger tanks to it.

The creek, about to be forded.

 Alligator takes the objective (marked by the little bunker). M5s providing useful HE support fight, that has never been a thing! But 4 37mm HEs shells a turn was keeping Japanese heads down.

 Yep, figures... useless I-Go doesn't go.

Over the creek and up and out. Still fully loaded. 

 The Japanese right flank, 2 men and LMG holding an objective. About to be overrun when the GIs jump out behind a wall of .50 cal MG fire. 

The left flank, they are over and the M5s follow. Here, defended by 3 riflemen, pinned!