30 December 2018

My ACW Collection

I have recently reorganised my Union army in order to expand it so I can play larger games of Pickett's Charge. I felt I needed 6-7 infantry brigades so I chopped down my 12 stand regiments to a more varied assortment of small, standard and large regiments according to the ruleset. Each infantry stand in Pickett's Charge represents 80-100 men with 3-4 stands being a small unit, 5-6 stands being a standard unit and 7-8 stands being a large unit. Certainly when you look historical ACW OB's the regiment size was quite variable especially for the Union early in the war. I had to buy some extra painted figures from GAJO games in order to bring my army up to strength. They have pre-painted Old Glory figures and although not as nice as my Blue Moon's, they were certainly nicely painted and mixed in well.

I have to thank my friend Mike for picking up some Flagdude standards at Fall-In as unfortunately they are going out of business and I really believe they were the best flags on the market. I recently got them all stuck on the stands and I have to say they look great as the below photos will attest.

I will be hoping to get some games in with my friend Adam, who has a comparably sized Confederate force. I recently discovered that George at Musings on Wargaming and Life has written a series of excellent ACW scenario books under the Potomac Publication banner which are available at Wargame Vault. So it seems I all set!
The Collection of 20 infantry regiments in 6-7 brigades, 2 cavalry regiments and 3 artillery batteries. There is one Commander in Chief stand with 7 Brigadier stands as well as 3 Sharpshooter stands.
Western Contingent with troops from Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana
New York Contingent
Northeastern Contingent with troops from Maine and Massachusetts
I have 3 more cavalry regiments to base and probably should paint up a few more skirmisher stands but I think I have a good force with which to play many more games of Pickett's Charge.

28 December 2018

Some Peasants

Someone has to be in charge!
Well it is my IXth Challenge and since I am going to be back and forth over the next couple of weeks, I thought I would get up early and paint some figures. I am not really sure what the cut-off date is for the first submission but best to take no chances.

Anyone who has ever looked at my blog knows that we play a fair amount of SAGA and although I am well provided with warbands, I do need some more terrain as well as some ancillary figures. One common scenario in SAGA is an attack on a Baggage Train or raiding a village and stealing sheep. Well I have the baggage train and some sheep but I have never had any villagers, so I thought I would go ahead and get some.

These come from Gripping Beast and are quite nice. They were primed using the Zenithal Method with an airbrush and then painted using Citadel colours and washes. I like how they came out, nice and simple and a good way to start the challenge.

16 December 2018

Chasseurs Ardennais

Cap Badge of the Chasseur Ardennais
After having a good look through the 1940 CoC Blitzkrieg, I felt the most interesting force to game with would be the Belgians. They put up an initial heroic defence especially in the Ardennes, in which the Chasseurs Ardennais played a significant role. The Blitzkrieg source book laid out a fairly simple core platoon with limited supports so I said why not?

In 20mm, there are only 2 suppliers of metal figures that one could use being Early War Miniatures and FAA Miniatures. I decided to go with EWM as they had a slightly better selection with more supports and they are I believe a good supporter of TFL. The order was placed in September 20th, and was mailed out about 3 weeks later. I believe the figures were cast to order. It was pretty expensive coming in under $175, but this gave me a pretty complete core and support force with a few extras. They arrived within a couple of weeks.

I will discuss the miniatures after the photos, but they certainly were a little rough. My painting scheme was as follows:
  • Green Tail Light (Vallejo Panzer Aces 308): Chasseur Ardennais beret
  • Leather Brown (Vallejo 871): Webbing and ammunition pouches
  • Green Brown (Vallejo 879): Uniform
  • Black (Vallejo 950): Boots and gaiters
  • Khaki (Vallejo 988): Breadsack
  • Russian Uniform Green (Vallejo 924): Gasmask container and mess tin
They were primed VMC Panzer Grey using an airbrush and then hand painted. I used Citadel Sepia as a final wash. They came out OK as long as you do not look too closely and certainly on the table they look like a coherent force. I have just recently bought a bunch of metal washers as I wanted to started transporting my CoC troops in magnetised boxes. Up until now I have been using coins. Made a big mistake here though as I not not test the washers to see if they were attracted to magnets. They were NOT! Clearly I do not know much about metals, and of course I never checked until the figures were all based.
My Belgians with the core platoon and supports.
Group de Combat One, this is quite a powerful squad with a Fusil Mitrailleur Team with 2 FM1930 Automatic Rifles and 8 riflemen as well as a Fusilier Grenadier Team equipped with 3 grenades and 1 smoke grenade. They are led a JL with a SMG.
Group de Combat Two, similarly equipped. The FM 1930 AR has a Firepower of 4, so the  total GdC fires with 22d6 .
The DBT Lance Grenadier Section. A JL and 9 riflemen who fire with 10d6 under 18" and use their DBT Launchers at >18" giving 2HE each. They also have 3 smoke grenades each.
The platoon has only 1 SL which is definitely a limitation.
Some ancillary figures: FO, Sniper, Medic and extra JL.
A 5 man Fusil Mitrailleur with a JL and a FM1930 AR mounted on motorcycles
MMG Team here with a Maxim, if equipped with a Hotchkiss M1914 MMG they fire  9d6
47mm FRC M1931 ATG with 5 crew and a JL.
A small 3 man engineering team, no engineering models out there ufortunately, these guys have Adrienne Helmets
T13 B1 Tank
Very nice but very expensive Retrokit Model.
T13 B3 Tank
Armour 3, AP 6, HE 4, Low Profile
I have to admit that I sort of wished that I played CoC in 28mm after painting these figures. Warlord Games has a very nice set of Chasseurs Ardennais which look like they would be nice to paint. I suppose that I should not complain as this is a pretty rare force which can really only be utilized in one very short campaign. The infantry are not bad and do have some variation (5-6 models) but the support troops are a bit of a joke in that I really only think there are 3 basic models which one has to use for the MMG, ATG Team and the DBT teams. There is only one figure with a SMG.

They were very poorly cast, faces a complete mess. I am not sure what the original greens were like but they could do with an improvement. And amazingly enough it appears in early November they re-mastered this line. I am not really happy that I was not told this as I think I made a fairly major purchase but so it goes. I see they have an Off-Table Mortar team now as well as some Belgians tanks so I suppose I will be making another order.

12 December 2018

Crossing the Süre

Over the last 2 weekends, I got to play the 2nd scenario from the Skirmish Campaign Hunters of the Ardennes twice against to different opponents. Last Saturday, Mike drove up from RI and Greg drove out this past Sunday from Arlington, MA. Two very different gamers and 2 very different games.

We again see a 1st Panzer Division Schützen platoon take on the Chasseurs Ardennais. It is still early morning May 10, the German Blitzkrieg has crossed the Luxembourg-Belgium border and is entering Martelange, they have to cross the Süre. The Belgians have blown 2 bridges to slow them down. On a hill covering the German approach is a Fortified Bunker with a Hotchkiss MMG manned by a small team of Chasseurs. The Schützen platoon is ordered to take the bunker, with them is a demolition squad. For a nice description of this action have a look here.

This is the terrain, I set up. You can see the bunker in the far left perched on the hill, it had LOS to the complete table aside from within the shadow of the buildings and forest. All the stone wall were hard cover and the hedges and the houses were light cover aside from the large stone building.
Last Saturday

Myself and Mike got our game started around 11am. Mike played the Germans and I took the Belgians. I added a Bunker and a MMG team to the Belgian defenders as required by the scenario. The arithmetic here ended up giving the Germans 20 supports to the Belgians 10. We used The Attack on an Objective scenario from the original rulebook. Unfortunately, I have lost all the photos I took and I have forgotten some of the details.

1st Panzer Division (FM9, CD5)
Schützen Platoon
Engineer Squad w/JL
Red Dice
le.IG 18 IG
Stuka Bombardment

Chasseurs Ardennais (FM8,CD5)
Chasseur Ardennais Platoon
Fortified Bunker w/ Hotchkiss MMG Team
AA Guns
Francs Tireurs
Red Dice (mistake as you need 3 non fixed supports before you can select this)
47mm FRC ATG
Unfortunately this is the only photo I have and some of the details of the game now escape me, but generally Mike carefully got his troops on the table relying mostly on his 2 PzIV's to rain down HE on my troops. He really kept me pretty pinned down. I was not able to score a lot of attrition on the Germans and I have to say the firing skills of my ATG were pretty low. I think I took out one of the PzIV's eventually. I believe I got Mike's morale down to 5 but near the end of the game he got a couple of double phases and 1 triple phase, my morale sank to zero. German victory, Mike was very gracious calling it a marginal victory as he had not taken out the bunker. The game lasted around 3 hours. I should note that although I took the Francs Tireurs, I completely forgot to use them.
Last Sunday

Myself and Greg got our game started around 9am. Same scenario. I had not allowed Mike to take the Bunker Buster support in our first game but Greg asked again for this support and although it did not fit the historical scenario I allowed it as I was curious on how it might work after this somewhat interesting online discussion.

1st Panzer Division (FM10, CD5)
Schützen Platoon
Engineer Squad w/JL
Off-table MG
Red Dice
Bunker Buster

Chasseurs Ardennais (FM11,CD5)
Chasseur Ardennais Platoon
Fortified Bunker w/ Hotchkiss MMG Team
Entrenchment x3
Francs Tireurs x2
47mm FRC ATG

Here are the JOP's, Greg really did a good job here and got far up my left flank. Fours free moves is helpful. I do not have a photo but you can see a JOP just at the base of the hill in the farground, I used 2 of my entrenchments here and putdown a Belgian Group de Combat in hard cover. I thought this was an excellent position as it covered the approach to bunker.
As you can see he was able to drop his Infantry squads in far up the table. 
Greg provided excellent Covering Fire on the Bunker with this squad in light cover at the river.
I had not appreciated that Greg had taken the Bunker Buster with the intent to use it to rain HE down on my infantry. I let this go against my better judgement (if I am hosting a game I try to give my opponent the benefit in any decisions in respect to the reading of the rules).

Unfortunately it changed the whole tenor of the game as he was able to activate the Bunker Buster in almost every phase and with it, reducing cover for any infantry whatever their cover, the game became quite a desultory affair with little I could do to protect my troops without getting some double phases (which unfortunately did not happen) so I could get them out of LOS. 

My morale quickly dropped as both leaders and troops fell quickly and by the time I was down to 2, I had really no resources left so I withdrew from the table. I suspect with time Greg would have been able to assault the bunker as he was still at a FM of 5. Greg claimed a decisive victory which he certainly earned. I subsequently discovered that the Bunker Buster should only be used against bunkers but c'est la vie! I should also say that amazing enough, I again forgot to use the Francs Tireurs.
So two games in a week and 2 German victories. I still do like my Belgians though and look forward to getting them back on the table in the New Year.

09 December 2018

Just a Bit More Winter War

It has been a very busy 2 weeks of gaming, almost too busy and I have another game today! More about that soon but I wanted to get some photos from my 4th go at the armoured column scenario I put together for my Winter War campaign called Striking Back.

I have described the scenario multiple times before, so no need to repeat things. I believe the scenario is good to go now with the most recent change just being o the demolition rules. The demo rules in the new 1940 Blitzkrieg source book for CoC  are just much simplier than what is used in the main rulebook.

Tom wanted to play the Soviets, if you will remember he had a pretty solid victory against me a few weeks ago playing the same scenario as the Finns. In the 2 previous games, the Soviets had won once and and may have won once (we really screwed up the rules in that game so it is difficult to say who the victor was).

We met at the Hobby Bunker yesterday, the game went well and was finished in just under 3 hours which was not bad.

Green Soviets (Starting Morale 9, 5CD)
SL and JL w/infantry squad in Gaz truck
JL w/infantry squad in Gaz Truck
JL w/engineer squad in Gaz Truck
SL w/3xT26 Tank platoon
T28 Tank
2xBT-7 Fast Tanks
KhT-26 Flame Thrower Tank
Quad Maxim Team in Gaz Truck

Elite Finns (Starting Morale 11, 5+1CD)
4xJL/infantry squads
4 Molotovs
4 Smoke Pots
3 Cluster Charges
Maxim MMG Team
2 Tank Hunter Teams
2 ATR Teams

So the game started using the Delaying Action scenario from the main rulebook. The Patrol Phase was played out, you can see the position of the Patrol Markers in the 1st photo. I will let the photos tell the story from here.

The Finns get to place just 3 JOP's as can be seen in the above photo. I did not really get the best postions.
The Soviet T-28 comes on as the lead, I immediately place a ATR team and lucky enough, I hit it and actually cause 2 shock and immobolize it by blowing off a track. Bad start for the Soviets as the road is now blocked and as you can see they have some distance to get to the roadblock that they have to destroy as their victory condition.
Tom decides to bring on his Quad Maxim as well as all his infantry. He ditches his trucks.
A Finnish Infantry Squad advances cautiously w/ a Tank Hunter Team
They do the same on their right flank.
The Soviets decide to advance all their infantry through the deep snow on the Finnish left flank.
Many phases have now passed and I decide to put all my troops on the table. Tom has had all his AFV on overwatch but on my next turn I use a CoC dice to end the turn and start an all out attack, I take out a T-26 as well as the T-28, the Soviets morale is falling and they are now 5. Time to start the infantry attack. I use the ATG as well as an ATR team to do this. I have to say I was extremely lucky w/ my to hit dice. I never missed once during the game.
The attack on the Finnish left flank.
The Finns on the right flank move to cross the road w/ 2 infantry squads and an AT team and an ATR team.
I attack with 2 infantry squads and the MMG team, amazingly enough I get a double and triple phase during this attack. Tom is very unlucky w/ his leader dice and I am able to take out both Sovet Infantry JL's.  The shock piles up, both Soviet squads become pinned and then one of them breaks. I play a CoC dice to end turn, they rout and the the Soviet morale is 0, while the Finns are at a 9, a clear Finnish victory. We retire to the pub for a beer and some late lunch.

Well, I think I was pretty lucky w/ the dice in this game. Getting a double and triple phase at the end of the game really gave the Soviets no chance. It was the first clear victory I got playing this scenario so I was happy enough. I did make a minor of the game rules misinterpretation in respect to SL CI's at the end of the game to my favour but it would not have changed the outcome. It is too bad that Tom did not get a chance to blow the roadblock, the new demolition rules make it much easier to so, I believe.

So I think I can put this one to bed. We have had 2 Finnish victories and 1 Soviet victory w/ one unclear outcome in 4 games. It is a tough one for the Soviets but I believe they can win. 

In all our games we forgot to use the Wrath of the Gods Soviet National Characteristic, which is essentially a free pre-game barrage for the Soviets. I think to win that the Soviets need to bring on all their infantry first in the Gaz trucks, wheeled vehicles can move on deployment so they should be able to get up the road and ditch on the side. The scenario is set up so a CD of 4, 3 or 1 can bring on one of the trucks. With the Wrath of the Gods, the Soviets with any luck could have all their infantry and engineers dismounted within 3 phases and their Quad Maxim in good position. The Finns would still be struggling to bring on their units. They then could bring on the armour. In all 4 games we played, for some reason the Soviet player, including myself, brought on the AFV's first.

Anyway, enough for Early War on the Eastern Front, I have an EW Western Front game shortly. This will be the 2nd play of the number 2 scenario from the Hunters of Ardennes SC book. Hopefully I will get up a double AR post on the blog this week. Last Saturday, I played the scenario with Mike and the Germans had a clear victory, today I play the the Belgians again but against Greg. Let's hope I can do a little better.

02 December 2018

95th Rifles

Just to show that I have done some painting. Here we have a group of six 95th Rifles, a skirmishing unit in Sharpe Practice. I have had these on the table for 3-4 months now. They are from the now defunct Alban Miniatures line. They are really the most anatomic 28mm Napoleonic figures that I have found. I have enough Rifles for 4 units with the Big Men. They will join some French Voliquers and Sharp and Harper.

It would be nice to find some British light company figures. Keep looking I suppose.

26 November 2018

May 10, 1940: Advance to Martelange

Blitzkrieg 1940 was released for Chain of Command in the early fall.  This much anticipated  CoC source book is the first released and covers the Western Front in 1939-40. It contains several new army lists, some new rules as well 5 new scenarios. It is a great resource.

I have a good German force already in place and aside from some Early War German AFV's, I can easily field a complete force. But what force to pick on the Allied side? After having a good look through the army lists and knowing my penchant for the underdog (read Winter War Finns), I decided to go with a Belgian Force. Having the Skirmish Campaigns book Hunters of the Ardennes; I decided to go with the Chasseurs Ardennais.

Intersting core platoon with 2 very large infantry sections of 16 men as well as a D.B.T. 50mm mortar section. I will go more into the figures selected as well as the painting process in another post, but suffice to say I painted a lot of figures in 3 weeks.

Going back to the Hunters of the Ardennes booklet, I decided to go with the first scenario describing the original advance of Schützen Platoon of the 1st Panzer Division just after crossing the border of southeastern Belgium from Luxembourg as they advance toward the village of Martelange in the early morning of May 10, 1940. Trying to slow them is a platoon of Chasseurs Ardennais. The OB in the SK booklet had a squad aside with some supports but I decided to go with full platoons as laid out in the 1940 CoC source book using the Going with a Bang scenario. For details of the scenario please refer to the source book, but essentially it describes an action with a defender withdrawing before a superior attacker while carrying out demolitions to slow the advance. Just perfect for the first day of the German attack into Belgium.

Myself and Greg played the scenario this past Saturday. Since this was the first outing for the Belgians, I took the liberty of playing the defender.
The German entry is in the foreground. They are advancing to the northwest to the village of Martelange up a paved road. On their left flank is a hill with a dirt road. Their are a few wooden houses, some light forests as well as some hedges (medium obstacle blocking LOS) and a small stream (minor obstacle) to their right flank. The scenario is set up so the defender has 2 blow 2 culverts on the paved road. Once the terrain was set up I diced for both the position of culverts as well as their size. I threw high so both culverts were large (requiring a cumulative task roll of 12) but placed within 24" of my table edge.I felt this was the best result.

The present google earth view, showing very simlar contours. As ypu can see the road is right on the border. Quite a few more houses now of course. Really difficult to identify the stream so I made it quite small.
View looking to the south. The culverts were placed under the paved road on each side of the house in the near ground.
The Germans start with 4 Patrol Markers on their edge while the Belgians start 24" from their edge. As you can see this gave the Belgians quite an advantage in the Patrol Phase.
The final position of the JOP's, we decided to go with 3 each. I was quite happy to have the high ground.


Germans (First Panzer Division)-FM 8, 14 Supports
Schützen Platoon
Panzer I
Red Dice
Pre-game Barrage
Flamethrower Team
le.IG18 7.5cm Infantry Gun

Belgians-FM 10, 6 Supports
Chasseurs Ardennais Platoon with a demolition team
47mm FRC M1931 ATG 

So the game began, as usual I took few pictures. I used a new teddy bear fur mat as the base terrain, not really sure how much I like it. I think it needs to be trimed down and I need to overspray some colour variation. My Belgian basing also need some work, another spray of mat as well as some flock to the bases.
Greg advanced an infantry squad, as well as placing his IG on his left flank in response to me placing a group de combat in one of the houses and the trees on their right flank. I felt that I needed to have control of the high ground.
The Germans rain down both HE and small arms fire on the Chasseurs but a a 16 man section get take quite a bit of shock, so I was not that concerned. My goal was to get the attacker to focus on the infantry while my demolition team got to work on blowing the culverts. I had also brought in m D.B.T section at the base of the hill to cover my left flank.
Greg advances a PzI up the paved road while advancing another infantry squad to take position in one of the houses. He had also advanced another squad up his right flank. I was able to whittle these down from the Group de Combat on the hill. The pregame barrage made it very difficult for me to bring on my ATG, I believe I failed the 4 times. Unfortunately no photos were taken. You can not see it but a Belgian JOP is just behind the house and Greg rapidly advanced the Panzer on top of it and ended the turn. His squad on his right flank had already taken significant attrition and his FM was down to 5. I lost 2 FM
Ending the turn however allowed me to bring on my ATG in the next phase. First shot, the PzI was gone and the German's FM took another hit. I believe they were down to 3 by now while the Belgians still had a FM of 8. In the photo you can see the Belgian demolition team working on the 1st culvert , the marker dice show a 12 so they are all set to withdraw and blow it. A CoC dice is utilised and up goes the culvert. They adavnce around the house and place charges on the 2nd culvert.
My 1st group de combat has taken some hits but I am able to withdraw them and as noted above the 2nd group de combat deploys and fires at the decimated Geram infantry squad attempting to advance up their right flank. They are able to generate 22d6! and although at only effective range they finish off the rifle team and kill a JL, German morale hits zero, game over.
It was a pretty quick game, I wish it had gone on a little longer. I had a good patrol phase and secured the high ground quickly. I think we only had 3-4 double phases in a game which only went 2 turns, but certainly a decisive Belgian victory.

Blitzkrieg 1940 source book was well worth the wait and I look forward to getting in more games with my Belgian force. I have a game planned with Mike this Saturday I suspect he will be interested to get his Germans on the table.