Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Bag the Blenheims: After Action Adjustments

The Buchanan's Party scenario needs a little tweaking for a number of reasons but, on the whole, seemed to work quite well. In the end, the Luftwaffe pilots of Stab III.JG27 shot down two No229 Squadron Hurricanes of Yellow Section, one in a catastrophic mid-air explosion and the other in a gradual slow glide down to earth to crash land in the desert. They didn't manage to shoot down any of the No14 Squadron Blenheims, however, which succeeded in dropping three sticks of bomb on the convoy but only destroyed one of the target markers in the process.

In addition, one of the Bf109 F-4's suffered a gun jam and was effectively out of the game by Turn Three. The Victory Points worked out at four for the Luftwaffe but only one for the RAF, so a clear Axis victory. We did run out of time though, so I suspect that several of the bombers would have exited the table in Turn Six to claim additional VP's. The feedback from the players was generally positive but I felt that the game dragged toward the end and that the RAF had a rough deal, not due to the scenario set up but down to an unlucky turn of the cards and some dodgy dice rolls.

There are a few tweaks that I now need to make.

1. The Luftwaffe don't need the Pauke! Pauke! (extra fire) card.

2. The bombers need to have a much shorter bomb run, not the ten hexes in a straight line stated in the rules. I reckon on five being a good number as it's the base speed of a loaded Blenheim, so would seem sensible. I can justify this as a result of No14 Squadron's extensive combat experience.

3. The bombers need to be directed to approach the target down the centre length of the table. In the game, the No14 Squadron players decided to drive down the northern long edge of the table, to avoid the enemy fighters, only to pile up in the north eastern corner. They managed to pull a tight turn and fly back across the convoy but at one point it looked like they would have to fly off and back on again!

4. The card deck was a bit too big. I think I'll leave out the Top Ace card for the Blenheims and the aforementioned extra fire card for the Luftwaffe. I'll keep the character cards though, especially Wing Commander Buchanan, so that the bombers can still move far enough yet not too fast to outstrip everything else.

5. I may bring both the III./JG27 and No229 Squadron fighters on in the first turn and shift the bombers to Turn Two, in order to get the action underway as soon as the bombers arrive on the scene. The Luftwaffe 'bogeys' worked well and tied down the Hurricanes by latching onto the tail of Yellow Section but this meant the RAF pilots were unable to do much in the way of firing before they were blown to bits.

I think these minor tweaks will help to balance out the scenario and, at the same time, help to speed up the game play too.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Bag the Blenheims: Game Photos

It's a  bit too late for a full after action report but here's a selection of photos of the 'Buchanan's Party' Bag the Hun scenario from the club this evening. It was a good game but I need to do some revisions and a couple of re-thinks to speed it up a bit and make the bombing more straightforward. In the end, it turned out pretty much as the historical events of the day, so I think it wasn't too bad as a scenario, and with some constructive feedback from the players too I now have some good ideas with which to fine tune it.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Bag the Blenheims: Chocks Away!

I've run out of time to finish the target markers for the Bag the Hun scenario tomorrow but, to be honest, they look perfectly useable as they are without the need to paint the individual vehicles. I'm sure that at 3000 feet any camouflaged Afrika Korps truck would just look like a khaki coloured blob anyway! I decided in the end to use 40mm circles rather than hex shaped bases for the ground target markers, as the hex cloth I'm using has larger hexes than my usual Hotz Mat.

I've also filled in all of the aircraft record sheets with the required details, adding coloured dot stickers to the sheets and the corresponding aircraft model bases, so that they can be easily recognised in the heat of combat. There are now seven players taking part, so I've split the bombers into two flights of three to make space for the seventh player. So, last minute oversights not withstanding, I think I'm now ready for 'Chocks Away?'

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Bag the Blenheims: Air Crew Briefings

I decided last night to write up some briefings for the RAF and Luftwaffe players, so that I don't have to explain things like objectives, starting positions and special rules at the start of the game. This will be particularly helpful when it comes to the bombing rules, which are quite complicated and require a bit of pre-planning if they are to go smoothly. It also prevents either side from getting an overall 'big picture' which is really good when it comes to the 'fog of war'.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Bag the Blenheims: Flak Zone

I've borrowed a desert hex cloth from the club for the Bag the Hun game on Tuesday, so thought it would be a good idea to work out the exact parameters of the airspace prior to the game itself. In particular, I wanted to determine just how big the ground target motor vehicle convoy and flak zone would be, compared to the rest of the area. I have laid it all out and think that the details in the scenario briefing will work just fine, without any need for last minute adjustment. Now, it's just a question of tarting up the target markers and printing out the record sheets and I'm good to go.

Friday, 17 March 2017

15mm Blotz Middle Eastern Compound

I've been having laser cut mdf withdrawal symptoms so, as it's pay day, I've splashed out on a small order of three 15mm Middle Eastern style buildings from Blotz. They've added a few new structures to their existing selection of adobe style houses including this really imposing compound, which I can use for my long planned Britain's Small Wars post-colonial skirmish ideas and for 15mm Sci-Fi or Victorian colonial games like PITS, to name a fraction of the obvious options. I have a couple of the 28mm Blotz Middle Eastern buildings and if these 15mm ones are as well-designed and easy to construct, I will be very happy.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

The Pre-Dreadnought Revolution

This is my latest download , as I continue my exploration of naval wargaming and the potential directions in which it may take me. I had some initial thoughts about a Pre-Dreadnought project back in the Summer but have sat on the fence until recently, making up my mind about ranges, scales and rules. I reckon I now have a clear direction in which to steer, so will begin to get my act together at some point after Easter. In the meantime, a little background research won't go amiss.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Bag the Blenheims: Card Deck Completed

I've finished off the card deck for the Bag the Hun 2 North Africa scenario next week, including the No14 Squadron RAF cards and the generic cards that always feature in the game. I think they look quite good and will hopefully add a bit of colour to the scenario. I now need to laminate the sheets, cut them all out and flatten them under something heavy, ready for the game on Tuesday. I think I have everything else in hand too, although I still need to scratch build some more target markers and run up some record sheets for the players to use. If I can duplicate these when I fill out all the numbers it will save me a lot of time and effort.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Back of Beyond Campaign Bolshevik B**** Up!

I had a very enjoyable but utterly disastrous game in the Back of Beyond campaign this evening at the club, in which my Bolshevik Third Workers and Peasants Shock Brigade was soundly thrashed by the Imperial Japanese Expeditionary Force. This was down to three key factors: 1) having absolutely no plan whatsoever, 2) having terrible dice rolls and 3) having a sketchy recollection of the rules, having not played for ages. I really had a laugh, however, and couldn't have been utterly routed by a nicer opponent, who won a well deserved victory!

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Bag The Blenheims: Axis Motor Transport Targets

I need twelve hex sized target markers for the Axis M/T convoy that will be bombed in the scenario, so I set about scratch building a prototype this evening. I originally planned to use 1/300th scale Heroics and Ros vehicles for each marker, following the approach that I used for the Eastern Front games I've played. However, as the Operation Crusader scenario has the RAF level bombing from 3000 feet rather than a couple of hundred, this wouldn't really work.

Instead, I decided to chop up some sections of plastic rod, superglued them to a lasercut mdf hex base then smothered the whole lot in acrylic paste. When this had dried I base coated it in Halfords Ultra Matt Khaki, gave it a wash and then set about picking out the vehicles with brighter, contrasting shades to represent motor transport vehicles. I think the end result looks alright and will do the job, even if it's not exactly scale modelling? I now need to make another eleven of the things!

Bag the Blenheims: The Pauke! Pauke! Card

I've had a busy day doing all sort of things, so didn't get much done in the way of wargaming, apart from another six cards for the North Africa Bag the Hun scenario. These include a special card that I've added to the original mix in order to balance out the frequency of card play. I've called it the Pauke! Pauke! card, which translates as Kettledrums! Kettledrums!, or in Luftwaffe speak 'Tally Ho!. It also supposedly translates as Boom! Boom!, although that's a bit too Basil Brush to be sensible.

It will give the Stab III.JG27 players an extra burst of fire and will be included in the pack to reflect the dogfighting experience of the pilots and their better fire discipline. I thought this would give them a better chance of doing something each turn while the RAF players cycle through their numerous cards and would give the Luftwaffe a bit more of an edge against their numerically superior adversaries. If it skews the play too much, I can always leave it out as I've made it optional.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Bag The Blenheims: Scenario Briefing

Here's the scenario briefing and set up notes for what I've decided to call 'Buchanan's Party', after the phrase used at the time by No14 Squadron air crew when describing close formation ground attack missions in concert with other light bomber units. I think I've covered everything on one side of A4 but have had to omit the usual list of cards that appears below the scenario map. I'll do this on a separate page along with some additional notes about bombing, flak and the like. I may also work up a specific briefing for the players, so that they have a better idea about their specific objectives and the historical setting. Tally Ho!

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Bag the Blenheims: Card Deck Re-Draft

Here's the second, revised design for the Bag the Hun card deck, featuring a slightly modifed format and a few minor spelling corrections. I'm happier with this than with the earlier version so can now crack on with the cards for the RAF and the generic scenario cards. All I need to do is find some decent colour images for these and they shouldn't take long to draft up in WORD.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Bag the Blenheims: Card Deck Design

I've been playing around in WORD with few basic designs for a pack of turn cards to use in the Bagging the Blenheims* scenario this evening. This is what I've come up with so far but I'm not quite happy with the design and layout, so may well go back and fiddle around with them some more. I need quite a lot of cards for this game, with a total of around twenty being the current minimum estimate, so I'll need to decide what I'm doing sooner rather than later.

(* or possibly Buchanan's Party, if and when I make up my mind)

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Flashpoint Taiwan ROCAF Update

I finished the Communist Chinese PLAAF aircraft for this Cold War air combat project way back in January, so you may have been wondering what has happened to the Republic of China Air Force half of the thing. Unfortunately, I'm still waiting for the Nationalist Chinese decals and extra F-104 Starfighters to arrive from Dom's Decals so the project is on temporary hold. As soon as they get here, which I'm sure will happen eventually knowing Dom, I'll be able to start painting the second instalment for use with Target Locked-On!, with the modern Flashpoint Baltic project following close behind.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

East Coast Convoy Continued

It's been very slow progress on the workbench of late, partly due to being away at half term and partly due to work, which has changed again and now involves a full five days a week. I've also had a horrible cold and chest infection, which seems to have really sapped at my energy levels. As a result, I've had little time or inclination to sit in a freezing cold garage and paint things but hope to get started again, in readiness for which I have undercoated the various 1/600 scale merchant vessels that I assembled a couple of weeks ago for the coastal warfare project.

These are a the initial priority, rather than yet more warships, escorts and fast attack craft, as without a convoy there wouldn't be much of a game! I'll do a wet brush, dry brush and wash approach with these in an attempt to get them finished as quickly as I can. I also want to get round to some more naval wargaming stuff this month, with a couple of on-going projects being re-booted and an exciting new project on the horizon, based on the excellent Tumbling Dice range of 1/2400th scale warships.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Hidden Warbirds

As it is World Book Day today, I thought I'd celebrate with a second hand copy of this book on WW2 aircraft wreck recovery and restoration, if that's not a bit too much of a tongue twister? I actually got hold of it on Monday in the local charity shop for two quid, which I thought was a pretty good find, especially as it's good as new and in hardback. 

It is very well illustrated and there are some famous examples of extreme aircraft salvage including P38 Glacier Girl and B17 Swamp Ghost, as well as many that I wasn't aware of, like the P61 Black Widow discovered at the summit of a mountain in Papua New Guinea. I particularly liked the chapter on aircraft recovered from South and Central America. Really interesting stuff!