Sunday 28 September 2014

Latest RSM95s

Having given up painting full units recently, I have had a few figures painted by those lovely lads at the Dayton Painting Consortium over in the US of A. A couple of small cavalry units, an Austrian Grenz battalion and some Prussian grenadiers. Not exactly a massive order by some people's standards, but including the cost of the figures, painting, postage and customs fees, it still came to £122.65. Counting the cavalry as 2 figures, that's around £3.23 per figure, all in.

Even taking into account that the style is my favoured block painting that may not satisfy some gamers, that's still very reasonable. But think how much you'd need to spend to get off the ground with a few hundred figures! I think this is the next big challenge for the wargames industry - providing ready painted figures at cheap prices. I know a lot of you love your painting, but what a boost to the hobby that would be. As I don't particularly want to benefit from the output of some foreign sweatshop, maybe technology will one day present the answer - how about pre-coloured plastic figures?

Anyway, a few photos for you. I kept the figures unbased in the photos for the Old Schoolers amongst you:

On the left, Prussian Hussar Regiment no.6, 'The Brown Hussars'.
On the right, the colourful Austrian hussars from Regiment no.36, the 'Palatinal Hussars'.
My usual regimental strength is a decidedly modest, 'non old school' 8 figures. These latest chaps can act as
small units of 4 figures (2 'squadrons'), or be combined with standard units into 12 figure 'large' regiments.

Carlstadt Grenz Regiment Oguliner.

Grenadiers from 3 separate Prussian regiments.
These will make up the rest of my Grenadier units from 16 figures to 20.

I have a few artillery guns and crews to add, and then that will be about that for my SYW armies. I think it will soon be a time for an 'all toys on the table' battle so I can get the whole collection out at once.

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Honours of War - Cover Art

Well now. I fully expected Osprey to draw on their wide range of already available images for the cover of my rules. But instead, they have gone ahead and commissioned a piece of original artwork. Nice. Very nice indeed. 

Men of Prussian IR18, Prinz von Preussen, charge into combat. The snow suggests Leuthen to me - the regiment was present on the Prussian right flank. The artist is Giuseppe Rava. I have always admired the rose pink facings of this regiment. Marvellous!

The playtest feedback I have received from the Yahoo group has been invaluable and has resulted in a large number of positive changes to Honours of War. I have 2 or 3 new playtesters still up my sleeve for final checks, but overall I'm pretty happy with how the rules are. Waiting until next November for publication will be a bit of a pain, but that's the world of publishing for you. At the moment, my two great fears are:

First, the obvious one - the rules are trashed by reviewers and players on publication, no one likes them, and I find I have let Osprey down. Oh, how I fear the wrath of TMP!

Second, having submitted the final manuscript in January 2015, I find that by November I have discovered any number of glitches in the rules, or thought of several ideas or improvements which I would love to include but can't. We all know that by the time Donald Featherstone had published War Games, he no longer used the rules that were contained within it. I am hardly in the Don's league, but you get my meaning. I guess there's really no way out of this one.

I am heartened by Osprey's decision to provide online support for their various rules (at least, that's my reading of the current situation - don't quote me). But if they don't, I will. This will allow me to address any problems and pass on corrections. And it will probably help sales as well.

Regardless of my fears, the whole process continues to be full of interest and enjoyment. I suppose in a way it's work, but it certainly doesn't feel like it. Thanks again to Phil Smith, Games Manager, Osprey Publishing, for giving me the chance to do this.

Friday 5 September 2014

BKC Breakout Scenario

It's always great to renew old friendships. I was recently contacted by a gaming buddy I had only previously met during the weekend of MadFest 2012. Adam had worked out that my new address was reasonably close to his, and was kind enough to contact me to renew our acquaintanceship. So we decided to have a go at some Blitzkrieg Commander chez moi. I decided to try the Breakout scenario as it is a little out of the ordinary, with a defending force on the centre third of the table being squeezed between a break-out force on one side trying to escape to the far table edge, and a break-in force on the other trying to help their comrades. The setting of course would be Poland 1939.

This is a tricky scenario for the defender to win, particularly with a defending force like the Poles which tends to lack motorised units and mobile armour. But we gave it a go. Forces involved were:

German Forces  Regimental CO CV9

Artillery Battalion FAO CV8
3 105mm artillery units, 6 assets

HS-123 Staffel FAC CV7
1 HS-123 unit, 2 assets

Breakout Force:
Panzer Bn HQ CV8
4 PzI, 2 PzII, 1 PzIII, 1 PzIV

Recce Bn HQ CV8
1 Sdkfz221 (recce), 1 Sdkfz222, 1 Sdkfz231, 3 m/c infantry units, 1 mg unit (truck), 1 75mm IG (truck)

Break-in Force:
Panzer Bn HQ CV8
2 PzI, 4 PzII, 1 PzIII, 1 PzIV

Motorcycle Bn HQ CV8
6 m/c infantry units, 2 m/c mg units, 1 mortar unit (truck), 1 37mm ATG unit (truck)

33 units, BP = 16       (All infantry units have ATR upgrade)

Polish Forces  Regimental CO CV8 

Artillery battalion FAO CV6
3 75mm artillery units

Trenches for 8 units, gun pits for 2 units

Tank Company HQ CV8
2 7tp (37mm), 1 7tp (mg)

Infantry Battalion x 2 HQ CV7  (one battalion has 1 75mm artillery support unit+truck attached)
6 infantry units
2 mg unit
1 mortar unit (truck)
1 37mm ATG (truck)

24 units, BP = 12        (All infantry units have ATR upgrade)

The Battle

This shows the table set-up. The white dice indicate the centre third -
I sent this photo to Adam (Germans) so he could plan his scheduled fire.
Now there's interesting - Adam brought over some Litko smoke screen markers which I was very taken with.
Here the game gets underway with some smoke being fired by the Germans.
The Polish flank on the far side from the hill was the weak point in their defence, which Adam quickly spotted.
This is the now famous 'charge of the motorcycles' which was to successfully unhinge this flank. Note suppressed Polish command unit, and that 2 of the dug-in Polish units are about to be assaulted in their rear.
Oh dear - all those Polish units appear to have been replaced by German ones!
A wide open escape route - German support fire units on hill at right, breakout force gathering itself at left.
Overview towards game end. Polish tanks in the centre (on the road) are being ground down.
Some close-ups. These are the leading armoured car units of the breakout force.
Light tanks of the breakout force lurk in cover, awaiting their opportunity.
The defending Polish infantry battalion in the centre, between hill and village, was not really tested.

This was a very different game from my last BKC outing at the Oxford Wargames Society. It was much more the kind of gaming I am used to - working carefully through each move to make sure the rules were used correctly. As a result I re-learned a lot about the detail of how BKC works. I was particularly distressed to find that units close assaulting in transport dismount automatically from their vehicles (in this case motorcycles), making an attack by motorcycle infantry just that bit more likely to succeed. Blast!

A very absorbing game, and great to find that suddenly I have a new opponent to enjoy wargaming with. Thanks for getting in touch Adam!