I am enjoying the wargames put one from time to time by the Little Wars guys. Little Wars has become my favourite wargaming channel. I enjoyed the Fourth Kawanakajima Wargame in early November. This week it is the Battle of Kharkov.
The Third Battle of Kharkov was a series of battles on the Eastern Front of World War II, undertaken by the German Army Group South against the Red Army, around the city of Kharkov between 19 February and 15 March 1943. Known to the German side as the Donets Campaign, and in the Soviet Union as the Donbas and Kharkov operations, the German counterstrike led to the recapture of the cities of Kharkov and Belgorod.
The commander of the German forces for this campaign was Erich von Manstein, with Paul Hausser, Hermann Hoth, E. von Mackensen and Theodor Eicke. The Soviets were led by Filipp Golikov, Nikolay Vatutin, K. Rokossovsky and Vasily Koptsov. Manstein’s. Wikipedia has a reasonable description of the Battle of Kharkov.
The battle was technically a German victory – against hugely overwhelming odds if Manstein’s report is to be believed however with the German losses in materiel and men, I think overall this can be considered a strategic victory for the Soviets, especially as by this stage of the war the Soviet tactics of attrition were really starting to pay off.
The Little Wars guys were refighting the battle using 1/285 scale vehicles and aircraft and 6mm figures. The wargame rules they used were A Fistful of TOWs. I had always thought of a Fistful of TOWs as modern wargame rules but I see that version 3 has extended the period covered from 1915 to 2015. As they are available in PDF form as well as hardcopy, I am thinking of downloading a copy for reading on my upcoming travels to Oz.
Enough of my rabbiting on … enjoy watching the wargame!
I mentioned back in LIttle Wars – a Favoured YouTube Channel, that Little Wars was one of my favourite channels. I watch for the new releases and have enjoyed some great refights (like the recent Agincourt one). A week ago they released another wargame, this one the Fourth Kawanakajima Wargame.
This was a reflight of, yes, the Fourth Kawanakajima Battle. The refight was controlled by the Killer Katana wargame rules (look for the rule review this week and those rules are available from On Matters Military, a company I can recommend and have purchased from before). Fourth Kawanakajima was a large battle between competing samurai clans in the 16th century with armies of 10 to 12,000 men engaged. The refight itself was performed using 6mm figures (another favourite of mine). I am guessing they were Baccus 6mm samurai figures. Another range is produced by Heroics and Ros.
Whichever figures you like, do have a look at the refight and be inspired to paint hundred of 6mm samurai! I will admit that the samurai period of Japan has always had an interest for me, in part from my time in Korea. Anyway, have a look at the video and be inspired.
One of my favourite YouTube channels is the Little Wars TV channel. I come home from work, late at night, set the TV to YouTube and tune in to see what is up with the guys this week. The guys re-fight battles, review rules and generally behave and talk like wargamers behave and talk. This week I enjoyed the refight of that well-known battle of Hannibal’s – Trebbia. The Romans were defeated historically in this, Hannibal’s first battle on Italian soil and most ancient wargamers know the Battle of Trebbia so it is hard to get the Romans to walk into the trap that is set there. The Little Wars guys do it well. It is also great looking at the way they have based and used 6mm figures for the game – with all figures based in 40mm square bases. They do give the impression of two armies facing off against each other.
Like all good wargamers I have about 30 half-started; half-completed; or part-planned projects either in the painting queue (that will be those boxes over there), or scratched as notes on a piece of paper as the planning sessions start (and the figures for those will be in those other boxes over there or manufacturers catalogues filed away in the file system here).
The main theme of this issue is “Weird War”. Basically, alternate outcomes or what-if scenarios based around World War 2, and there are seven articles on that subject, articles such as a “What if?” assassination mission – Kill Stalin; Weird War II airborne operations – Operation Redrow; or Weird War II pulp adventures – Lieutenant Liberty and the Doom Platoon.
However, there were some other more mainstream articles included such as the perils of Ptolemaic Pachyderms – Elephant Archos; the Swedes vs. the Dutch in North America – The Battle at Fort Mosquito, 1655; and the one that caught my imagination, the Empress Matilda’s flight – Bitesize battle: escape from Oxford.
The article about Stephen and Mathilda caught my eye principally because several days before I had watched an historical piece on Netflix on the Empress Maud and Matilda. Coupled with that is a desire to have a reason to get some Normans (not that I ever really needed an excuse to buy more figures). The article discusses the escape of Mathilda from Oxford Castle in the winter when the castle was invested by Stephen’s forces. I am sure this provided the idea for Sansa’s escape from Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones.
Anyway, I digress, and who doesn’t like a good digression? Mathilda and Stephen tilted for the English crown in the mid 12th century. Both were Normans and this period of Norman history makes a change from William’s Wars or the Normans in Sicily. Anyway, as the tale goes, Mathilda was the daughter of King Henry I of England, and was his sole legitimate child after the death of his son Prince William in the ‘White Ship’ disaster.
She was married to Henry V of the Holy Roman Empire (hence the title Empress), and then when he died in 1125, to Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou.
She was supposed to be the heir to the English throne, however in 1135 Stephen of Blois claimed that Henry I had changed his mind on his deathbed and recognised Stephen as successor to the throne. The English barons backed this claim.
That is when the trouble started and a period known as The Anarchy commenced.
Stephen was more popular than Mathilda, as she was viewed as a foreigner and a woman who was married to one of the hated Angevin enemy. She was also proud and overbearing, arranging everything as she thought fit, according to her own whim.
Trouble started in 1141 when the Battle of Lincoln took place between Stephen and Matilda’s half-brother Robert, Earl of Gloucester. After fighting bravely, Stephen was overcome and captured and taken before Matilda who immediately had him imprisoned in Bristol Castle. He was later released.
Both Stephen and Mathilda were captured at various stages and escaped (the escape from Oxford being one such).
Henry, Mathilda’s son by the Count of Anjou also got involved, bringing some knights to England but they were defeated by Stephen’s men.
In 1153 Stephen agreed to the Treaty of Westminster with Henry of Anjou. This stated that Stephen should remain king for life (in the event this was less than one more year) and then Henry should succeed him.
Upon Stephen’s death in 1154, Henry was crowned King Henry II, the first of the Plantagenet line of kings.
So, what’s not to like about this period? A few armies of similar structure bouncing around England and a reason to expand the lead-pile … curse you Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy!
As for figures, well it will be 6mm scale for the space challenged and Normans of an appropriate ilk are available from:
Heroics and Ros – a range I remember from many years ago – Normans, Saxons, Vikings and a Medieval range
Baccus 6mm – a lovely range of 6mm Normans, Vikings and Saxons
Irregular Miniatures – a large range of figures but where the casts as not as clean or detailed as H&R or Baccus
For those interested, Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy have a number of well known folks from the wargaming world writing regular columns in the magazine as well such as Rick Priestley and Henry Hyde.
I sent a small order off to Heroics and Ros just after Christmas for more artillerymen and some more armour for the Poles (and therefore also for the Danes). T-72s and Leopards arrived in the mail recently – this is what was in the packet and will be used for Cold War Commander.
Video is here:
I also ordered and received some Ancient Britons. These will form part of a new project that is setting up in my brain currently – but more on that later.
I thought I would write a quick, self-indulgent, “what are the Wargaming plans for 2017” post. I thought a good place to start may be to audit that lead pile here. Crap. It is way bigger than I thought and after three hours checking boxes, identifying the contents and making a note, I have decided that this will become Saturday’s task.
I knew I had some Aeronefs here and some 6mm figures to paint but after failing to quickly identify two 6mm ancient DBA armies (I will need to take them out of the bag and look closely at the figures) as well as only getting through half the unpainted Aeronefs, I threw in the towel for tonight.
Identified so far are 6 Aeronef forces (overachieved), two Starmada fleets, five 6mm DBA armies, 6 land ironclad armies (minus the vehicles), one land ironclads army’s vehicles, a butt-load of 2mm (1/1200) terrain items, 1/3000 scale WW1 ships, 1/1200 Houston ships, 1/1200 coastal vessels, 1/300 BKCII Japanese and Hungarians, two 15mm DBA armies, 1/1200 modern aircraft, 1/285 Winter War air forces and Anthony’s 20mm World War 2 Brits, I am still only about half way through this lead pile. Then there is the lead pile at mother’s!
Oh well, upward and onward, the audit will continue on Saturday and I am sure I will be self indulgent enough to write it all up Saturday night or Sunday! One thing is sure. I will cease buying figures this year until I clear some of the backlog, unless it is to round out collections!
Christmas has gone and so has New Year’s Eve. I avoid making New Year’s Resolutions, partly because reflecting on what you are doing and what you will do is something that should be an ongoing process. Having said that, in nautical terms, i am getting very broad across the beam although I have a good deal of ballast to counter that. It is time to slim up so that is one task on my 2017 and beyond.
Work also will be interesting this year as one contract finishes and I chase another. I will be looking for something to start around July or so.
I did reflect on those things that went well and those that failed in the year just past, however, a product of the odd beer and a relatively quiet New Year’s Eve back in Manila. It is, however, time to think about the plans for the coming year, doubly so as a week has already gone.
Simply … I did next to no wargaming, or painting. I also managed to add another few kilograms overall to my already portly body shape. I kept getting great ideas, especially for wargaming projects, but managed to not spend anytime actually starting any of them. Worst of all, I missed getting back to Oz and visiting mother for about 8 months, which was very frustrating.
There were some high spots however. Settled well into the second year of working in the Philippines and had the project progressing well. I also managed to read a lot, thank goodness for Kindle and a decent smartphone – I get to read almost anywhere.
So, as I had a little spare case this year, I spoiled myself with some Christmas gifts, and they will form the basis of the 2017 wargaming efforts.
First off was the two Warships I had missed from 2014 and 2015. I had not had a chance to purchase these before but they went into my Christmas stocking this year (it was a big stocking). Warship 2014 is the 36th edition and contains a variety of articles including a detailed technical description of the Queen Elizabeth (the UK’s only aircraft carrier – I guess because the French had one); details of Germany’s Braunschweig and Deutschland classes; the Italian aircraft carrier Cavour; IJN armoured cruisers; the escape of the Jean Bart from Saint-Nazaire; the submarine Mariotte; the IJN light carrier Ryûjô; Russia’s turret frigates, the Admiral Lazarev and Admiral Spiridov; and some other articles.
Warship 2015 is the first I have seen available in a Kindle format. It was tempting to acquire the Kindle Version, especially as it was half the price of the printed version, but I just could not give up the feel of the paper versions of this publication yet. This issue contains among other items, the Battleships of the Patrie Class; Postwar Weapons in the Royal Navy; the Tragedy of the Submarine Mariotte; Developments in Modern Carrier Aviation; and an early surface engagement between British and Japanese surface forces in WW2. I am looking forward to finishing Warship 2014 to get into Warship 2015.
Warship 2016 is the first of the recent series to come without a dust jacket (why did they call them dust jackets?). It long the previous 37 editions is a mix of different articles concerning naval matters from various periods of essentially 20th and 21st Century history.
This edition has articles on the Bougainville colonial sloops; an Italian colonial sloop Eritrea; the Japanese Asashio class destroyers; Fugas class minesweepers; divisional tactics at the Battle of Jutland and the conclusion to the Naval War in the Adriatic theater in WWI. There is also a piece on the use of ‘highball” on a ship – from the target ship’s perspective, in this case the French battleship Courbet.
I finally got around to acquiring a copy of De Bellis Antiquitatis, my favourite ancient wargaming rules. Plans for 2017 include not just learning these but getting some games in. I have a number of armies in Manila in 6mm and as the playing area is 2-foot square (60cm x 60cm) I also have the space to game.
This will likely make a nice project for 2017. More on that later in a separate post. I can. however, see my 6mm Numidians and 6mm Romans coming out for some early games and also provide an incentive for me to complete my DBA 6mm terrain pieces.
I had not been part of the kickstarter but these rules look to be a good alternative to Aeronef. I also acquired the dice and turn rulers.
I purchased some opposition for my 1/300th scale modern Danes. These are in the form of some Heroics and Ros 1/300th scale Poles. We will have sometime this year some T-55s out against some Centurions. This will be part of a separate little project, part of which will be to complete the Danes and relocate them from mother’s garage to the Philippines. These will be used with Cold War Commander. I must admit, whilst the GHQ castings are superb detail wise, I still like the Heroics and Ros for wargames figures.
Naturally, having purchased Imperial skies one needed some Aeronefs to go along with the new rules. Brigade Models Christmas discount helped me to acquire Argentinian, Brazilian and BENELUX fleets for this game and for use with Aeronef as well. I also acquired some Italian ‘nefs in the purchase along with some Russians to round out my Peshawar project, if I ever get back to that.
I really am looking forward to getting some paint on these models.
Last of the stocking fillers was the Baccus 6mm English Civil War boxed set. This consists of butt-loads of figures, bases, buildings and Polemos rules. I will admit up front that I purchased these to play with the Impetus Rules however the beauty of the Polemos basing is that I can also use these as based for bopth Polemos and Impetus.
I am a bit late getting to this this year however it is time for the Great Wargaming Survey 2016. The survey only takes about 5 to 10 minutes to complete and can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JXXW7TD. As Guy Bowers & Jasper Oorthuys of Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy magazine note:
Apart from rolling dice, there seem to be few things wargamers like to do better than discuss the state of their hobby. The purpose of this survey is to answer some of the questions that regularly come up in such debates. Unlike previous editions, results will be published online only for everyone to read.
As before, and thanks to our gracious sponsors, we have quite a few prizes to be won. Leave your email address at the end of the survey to be entered into the raffle. Entering the contest does not automatically mean we’ll subscribe you to any communication. That is a separate question which does not influence the raffle in any way.
As a thank-you for taking part, everyone who completes the survey will get a €5 gift code for the Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy / Karwansaray Publishers webshop. Though it does not apply to shipping costs, this code can be used for any (combination of) item(s) in the shop.
Finally, filling out the entire survey shouldn’t take more than 5-10 minutes, and we’re taking responses until August 19th, 2016.
I managed to get a little time today to spend on the hobby so decided that I would sort out some of the Woodland Scenics Trees I had purchased in Singapore. These are plastic and quite light so I decided a little weight under them would do them good. I looked for washers but really, here, the 10 centavo and 25 centavo coins seem to do the trick quite nicely. The 10 centavo coin is worth less than a cent (US, Aussie or SGD, it is less that a cent). The 25 centavo coin is also worth less than a cent.
One of the neat things about the coins is that they are magnetic. Indeed, the new coins in Singapore are also magnetic. I’m sore of wondering whether that is a because of the addition of a rare earth to the coins or something a little simpler. In any case, being magnetic means that I can late a strip of magnetic tape in the scenery box and the trees will stand on that.
The picture below shows the finished, ready for sand to be appied to the base and a coat of paint The trees are way more stable this way. By the way, half the trees are for use with 6mm figures, then other half with 15mm.
It’s that time of the year again – time for the Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy Great Wargaming Survey 2015. The survey takes about 10 minutes and is a great way for at least part of the hobby to get a feel for the direction the hobby is moving in as well as should be moving in out into the future.
Just to make it more tempting, the nice folks at Karwansaray Publishers are offering a 10% discount coupon to everyone who completes the survey. I should point out too that Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy is my favourite general wargames magazine currently with interesting articles as well as some interesting columnists.
If you are curious and missed the results of the Great Wargaming Survey 2014, then have a look here for a summary of that survey.