Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Merry Christmas - Project for the new year

Merry Christmas everyone. I hopy you have a marvelous day.

It's been a quiet year here but things are starting to look up. I have my project for January well underway. I am looking at doing a Chain of Command campaign for the Battle of Kharkov in 1941. In the research for it, I discovered a clever little improvised vehicle that the Soviets fielded - the KhTZ-16. Basically an armored tractor with a 45mm anti-tank gun mounted on it. There were pictures of it littering the internet and a little data about it but not much to go on. It was basically a vehicle that no one made in 15mm.

Enter Gaming Models. Sending Craig an e-mail with some pictures and why I would like one, he got excited about the project and started work on them. I just got a mail this week with the initial snaps of what he had done. I am very happy.

I am getting five of these from him. More than I really need but who cares. These are cool. They were used in the approaches to Kharkov and in the streets of the city. Given that most were captured or destroyed, they were not that great of a vehicle. Still, I like it. As I get to the playtesting of the scenarios, I can't wait to have these in my clutches.

I am so impressed with how Gaming Models jumped behind what is probably a marginal vehicle for him. Awesome service and he makes nice toys.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Chain of Command Campaign: Drive to Kharkov 1941

I recently started looking for an East Front Campaign that I would like to do. Mark had me nearly sold on the Ponyri Station actions that were part of the Kursk battle. I however stumbled across something from earlier towards the tail end of 1941. This one does not feature any Italians for once.

I started looking at the drive from Poltava to Kharkov that happened in September and October 1941. This is a very interesting action. The German armor is very limited. The Soviets were using significant numbers of T-34 tanks while the Germans had a rather battle worn battalion of STuG IIIs. The Germans were led by the 101st Light Division and the 57th Infantry Division. They were supported by Sturmgeschutz Abteilung 197. These troops had taken terrible casualties during the invasion and push through the Ukraine. The 57th Infantry Division had taken 3,893 casualties from June 22nd to the end of September. Of these there were 888 killed, 2937 wounded and another 68 missing. Yet they still drove forward. The STuG Battalion was not much better with several of the companies were reduced to a point of being combat ineffective due to casualties and broken or destroyed vehicles. The 197th used some captured T-34 tanks as spare vehicles during the advance on Kharkov to supplement their losses.

The Soviets were still reeling from the initial blows of Operation Barbarossa. They had begun to modify their orders of battle to account for the loss of personnel and equipment. The armor was initially based in large Mechanized Corps. Due to losses, armor was now placed into Brigades that consisted of an Armored Regiment and a Motorized Infantry Brigade. These brigades were formed around battalions that had a single company of seven T-34 medium tanks and two additional companies of whatever light tanks happened to be available. There were few if any of the heavier KV models available. In addition, industrial centers such as Kharkov and Stalingrad were producing makeshift armor to fill in the vacancies. Notably were the KhTZ-16 self propelled guns. These were tractors that were fitted with armor and a cannon that were sent out to engage the Germans. They were nearly all destroyed quickly when encountered in the field.

Armor was not the only arm of the Soviet military that was changed. The Infantry division also underwent change at this time. The rifle platoon was reduced from four squads to three. The platoon 50mm mortar was removed and a small two gun battery was held at the company level. Manpower shortages were overcome by pressing civilians into service. German reports of facing battalions of men in their forties and fifties are found in the engagements of both the 101st Light and 57th Infantry Divisions. To some degree, the formations became easier to manage. But with poorly trained troops and an officer corps still under the thumb of the Commissars, they proved to be brittle.

What really captured my attention was the description of a Soviet probe into the town of Poltawa (or Poltava depending on whose site you are looking at). The Soviets sent a platoon of T-34 tanks to investigate the defenses of the city. Elements of the 101st Light Division were holding the town at the time. The Third battalion of the 229th Infantry Regiment was reinforced with a Sanitation company (medics) and two platoons of 37mm Anti-Tank Guns (6 guns in total). At 1400 hours, two tanks approached from the east. At a distance of 500 meters, three Anti-Tank guns opened fire. The rounds bounced off the armor of the Soviet tanks. The tanks advanced to within 200 meters of the of the first houses of the city. They split up and entered the city. What ensued was a nearly comical pursuit of the tanks through the streets of the town. It involved the tanks stumbling across the medics, engineer teams attempting to plant explosives on the tanks and the 37mm guns ineffectively attacking them. One of the tanks even spent time stuck in a ditch in the town. The Germans were able to bring forward a 50mm Anti-Tank gun. Each of the two tanks needed multiple hits from the 50mm gun before they were disabled or destroyed. One of the crews was captured and the other was killed in their vehicles. The fight lasted for an hour and a half.

When interrogating the tank crew, they found that they were raw crews that were dispatched to probe the town. They were told that the Germans lacked guns that would be able to penetrate the armor of the T-34. They remained buttoned up in their vehicles throughout their engagement and as such caused fewer casualties because they could not see the infantry running between the houses. In a separate story about the T-34, the Germans reported that the Soviet drivers carried a large hammer next to them to address the transmission when the vehicle had issues changing gears.

The campaign has lots of interesting elements. Urban terrain, good armor (Stug III & T-34), improvised armor (KhTZ-16) and lots of infantry. It has its problems as well. It is hard to sort out who was fighting on the Soviet side. There are at least three armored brigades in the same relative area. There are multiple Soviet infantry divisions in the area. The unit histories only list the 216th Infantry Division as the opponent in Kharkov on the Soviet side. But the German situation maps (http://www.wwii-photos-maps.com/) from September 18th to October 25th, do not show them there. There are infantry divisions listed on the Soviet side of the same situation maps that Charles Sharp (Red Legions: Soviet Rifle Divisions Formed Before June 1941) claims were disbanded or destroyed elsewhere. In short, it is difficult to determine who is where. The book on the 197th Stug Battalion (Munch's The Combat History of German Heavy Anti-Tank Unit 653 in World War II), has dates that do not match up with the dates that I see in the 57th ID and the 101st Light Division's histories. From the Stug claims, they led the way without the infantry for most of these actions.

The other problem is the lack of quality maps for the battles. Http://www.wwii-photos-maps.com/ has the most complete set that I could locate anywhere. They are only 1:50000 scale and not 1:25000 scale that Rich, of TooFatLardies, recommends using. But there are some excellent photos to be found of the cities mentioned. Several of them show the streets of Kharkov. It seems only the outlying parts of the city were shelled heavily and the bulk of the city remained in tact. Fill this in with the eyewitness descriptions of the street fighting and we can fill in the blanks with our imagination.

So I will be creating some new Force Lists to match the Soviet ORBAT changes. My thought it to play the campaign using the Big Chain of Command supplement. Each of the actions seem to lend themselves to larger forces than a single platoon. Granted for a T-34 platoon, you are only dealing with two vehicles.

The campaign will begin after the action I mentioned above. However, I am thinking of some stand alone scenarios to go along with it that would use some specialty rules. Specifically the tank hunt through Poltava. Anyway, that is my current idea. Anyone have any recommendations on where I can get accounts of the Soviet side of the battle? I am fresh out of ideas.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Making the Most of an Oops

I goofed a while back. I have a collection of JR Miniatures rivers in 15mm. I have close to five or six feet of river pieces for my table top. Periodically, I like to jump on EBay and add to the collection when I have some spare cash. Well over a year ago, I did not read the auction closely enough. I ended up with a section of 28mm river. It sat unloved in my terrain drawer and did not even come out of the wrapping.

Last week, I decided to try something. I bought the JR 15mm to 28mm connector. It is a slightly strange piece of terrain that has the join for both their 15mm rivers and 28mm rivers on it with a big pooled out area in the middle. I also bought another 9" section of river as well. I decided that keeping the rogue piece of river is a good thing. I will add it on as an edge piece for the board.

Eventually I will run out and buy the 15mm to 6mm connector and get some 6mm river sections as creeks to run across the table. If I like the look, I may get some more 28mm river sections just to have varying widths of rivers on the table. It should work out rather nicely.

Monday, December 7, 2015

It is Time for a Christmas Sale

As December rapidly approaches, let's go ahead and do a sale.

From 12/7/2015 through 1/3/2016 I will be running the following sale on my scenario books:
In the Name of Roma - $5.50 (normally $11)
The Coming Thunder - $5 (Normally $10)
The Falcon and the Gladiator - $5 (Normally $10)
Western Desert Campaign - Free with any other purchase

PLEASE NOTE: Do not use the quick buy links for this sale! Paypal the money directly to cstoesen@corecard.com. I have not updated the links.

You can take an additional $1 off the price if you join the mailing list for my fiction books. Folks who join the mailing list will also receive a free copy of Sharpsburg Sunrise, the prequel to my first novel, CSS Appomattox.

Merry Christmas Everyone.

Giveaway from Ray

Ray is running another great giveaway. Click here to check it out. He always has lots of interesting things up for grabs. Stop by his great blog and check it out. He hit over one million page views. Definitely jealous.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Miracles and Wonders

Well that is what Christmas is all about, right? Well, I managed to buy my present for my Santa Clause target. Tough decisions to make but I think I got something useful. I have it 80% painted at this point, which is miracle number 2. Miracle number three is that I figured out what to get my Secret Santa. I am in negotiations to complete the order now.

If things continue, I will have both projects wrapped up by the end of the week. And if my wife is not paying attention, I may get some other things painted up as well while she is not looking. After all, I have that kickstarter town to paint up.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Impudent Mortal Kickstarter Arrived.

I just wrote about new toys but did not mention the arrival of my kickstarter purchase. The pack of 15mm buildings arrived. There is not a whole lot of detail that comes on them but they should be just the ticket to fill out a table in short order. A little paint and some creativity, and I will have a wonderful village. I am really thinking that this will be a Russian village when I am done. I have good farm buildings. I have urban ruins. What I am trying to have is an industrial area and worker housing. I think I have solved the worker housing situation now.

It is a poor quality picture but the products are great. THe roads on the right are the ones from Battlefield Accessories.

Now only to find time to paint or game.

New Toys & Santa Clause

I need to give a big thank you to Dean Rapp of Battlefield Accessories, USA. He has produced some spectacular pieces of terrain. I picked up a set of his roads and paid him to paint them to match a sample he has sent me a while back. They arrived today and are spectacular. I plan on using these for Roman roads in 15mm games as well as cobblestone streets. These with the other cobblestone roads that I have picked up, should enhave my gaming table. If I ever get to play this year. Oh well, there is always 2016.

On a related note, a nice size box just landed in from overseas. Marked on the outside is Santa Clause. I am very excited about receiving my first Christmas present. This will be placed aside until we put up the tree. That won't happen until after Thanksgiving. Thank you Santa Clause for teaching me patience. :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Interesting Kickstarter - Wild West

Just got a mail that had a link for a new kickstarter - https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/592450292/fistful-of-lead-reloaded.

I think I have an old copy of Fist Full of Lead somewhere. I am tempted to pitch in towards the rules.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Santa Clause - My Update

I finally figured out what to get my target. I am quite pleased with what I am getting. I am hoping it is both useful and not something that they would have gone out of the way to get themselves.

I also checked in on some roads that I had ordered from Battlefield Accessories USA. The owner responded quickly and gave me a status update. I can't wait to get these in. They are stiff resin roads and he is painting them for me. The owner had sent me a painted sample of an intersection a while back while I was searching for the Perfect Roman Road. Well, his roads were close. They have a nice curb molded into the piece and a slight curve to the road. It will be my Go TO road set for my eventual Roman Dux games. They should blend in well with my other recent road purchase that I posted about earlier. What none of these will match with are my Battlefront Cobblestone roads.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

New Toys and Other Updates

Well, I was surfing the web last month and came across a post on Dakka Dakka about a guy who made some cobblestone roads. A little digging and I found his blog: Empire of Ghosts. From there I dug up contact information and emailed him begging for some roads. A short and friendly e-mail exchange later and I am now the proud owner of over 7' of straight aways, A complete circle section. A 80% complete circle that is wider, two cul de sacs, a T intersection and a Y intersection. I am very happy with this purchase. He gave me options for road coloring and was super fast in delivery. I would definitely buy from him again. Very happy.

The Santa Clause

The Santa Clause is now in full swing. I have heard back from most if not all participants that they are busy working away on their projects. It looks like a merry Christmas this year.

Other Terrain Projects

I have tried to get some work on on some industrial East Front terrain. Specifically an elevator to remove trash from a mine site. I messed up part of it that needs to be repaired. Then it needs some painting. I think i have a flat gray spray paint somewhere. Then add some rust and exposed metal stuff and I am good to go.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

It's Time for a Birthday Sale

As it is approaching my birthday, let's do a sale.

In the Name of Roma is on sale now for $5.00 from now until October 15th, 2015.

The Coming Thunder is on sale now for $4.50 from now until October 15th, 2015.

The Falcon and the Gladiator is on sale now for $4.50 from now until October 15th, 2015.

Air War in the Western Desert June 41 to Nov 42 will be offered for free for purchasing one of the above or for $2.00.

In addition, you post about the sale on your blog or on a wargaming forum and send me the link, you can take another $1 off of your total order.

To take advantage of this offer, please Paypal me directly at cstoesen@corecard.com. Do not use the direct purchase buttons as they are still at full price.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Santa Clause 2015 has Begun!

I have sent out emails to all of the entrants. If you did NOT get a mail from me with the subject line of "Santa Clause 2015" with your painting target, please reach out to me at once. I will correct the error at once.

Thank you to all 19 participants. I used a random number generator and did my best to make sure that no one had the same person that they did last year. I can't wait to see what folks start coming up with.

To your paint brushes men! (This is the second year that I have run it and no women have yet to join in. I wonder why?)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Santa Clause 2015 and Secret Santa Wish Lists

I am trying to narrow my focus for what is left of 2015. I am still trying to get my troops together for my Cold War Gone Hot version of Chain of Command.

Thus far I have a US infantry platoon ready to go and a Soviet Motorized Platoon. What I lack is support elements for the US and any kind of Armor for either side. And of course I am doing everything in 15mm.

Romans and Early Germans are another option. I am building up a force of Roman Auxilia. I am trying to work together a set of rules for a Roman Skirmish game based on a historical Roman Cohort against a German horde. I have nothing in the way of early Germans. I do have a few Early Imperial Romans though. The idea is to have 40 figure strong Centuries. With six total centuries supported by four Turmae of cavalry. Thus far, I am a long way off. It's a long term project and its in 15mm (again).

The next thing I am interested in is cowboys. I am doing skirmish games with my son and we are having a blast. I want to make a Mexican gang but have not gotten anything. As with everything else, it is all 15mm. At the moment, everything is Peter Pig Miniatures. They have painted up quite nice.

Anyway, those are just some ideas. As you can see, I am heavily invested in one scale. Thanks for looking.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Santa Clause Administrivia

Well we are well on our way to launching. I am lacking some details from some of you. In particular, I lack a mailing address and a e-mail address from two participants:

Clint of http://clint-anythingbutaone.blogspot.com/
David Pike of http://smalltablewargames.blogspot.co.uk/

If ya'll could please shoot me an e-mail with the info to cstoesen at corecard dot com, I will have you sorted out.

The rest of you that I am missing information from, I have sent you a mail.

Currently, we are sitting at 16 participants. I was notified by several that they would not be able to rejoin this year due to changed circumstances. That I completely understand. 2015 has not been kind to me and my family but the year is not over yet, and there is still time to have a Merry Christmas.

Only one more day left to join in on the fun.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Santa Clause Closing in just Two Days!

Well, I am back at my desk and hoping for normalcy. My Mom passed away on September 18th and I have neglected everything up till now.

Just wanted to put out the reminder that the Santa Clause will close soon and I hope you all had a chance to sign up. It is great fun. Last year some some spectacular pieces come out. I think everyone enjoyed it.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Santa Clause 2015 - First Update

Less than 24 hours after opening up the Santa Clause we are sitting at Eleven participants! That is great. We now have more than half of last year's numbers. That is very promising. Let see what happens. Thanks for the interest folks.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Santa Clause 2015

Since Ian has kicked off the Secret Santa already, it is time to get rolling with the Santa Clause. If you were with us last year, you know how this works. If not, here are our ground rules:

Rule number 1:

To enter you need to either have a blog or be a regular follower of this blog (or Ian's) already. This is to give confidence to all involved that everyone will follow through to the end. If you have a blog and don't follow this one it's OK to join in. (I would still appreciate it if you did follow)

Rule number 2:

The idea is that each person involved buys a figure or figures to the value of less than £5 and paints them up to fit in with what the target blogger wargames or collects. Best would be some kind of command for the bigger scales but maybe a unit or two of such as 6mm or a building or... you get the idea.

Rule number 3:

Please try to send out your items so that they will arrive by December 20th in plenty of time for the big day. I will send out who you have on September 30th.

Rule number 4:

Please post on your blog about your participation. The more we can get on board, the more fun for all of us.

Rule number 5:

This is not intended to be a cheap alternative to Ian's Secret SantaTM. Instead it is a great opportunity to send and receive something that will be special BECAUSE it's a one off from a fellow blogger. Not that you have to limit yourself to something useful, feel free to paint up something that will just sit aside the painting desk or study etc and just give pleasure.

So that's the idea, it is another great way to connect with your blogging friends and get something really exciting at Christmas. I hope that this year will be as great a success as last year. Ian's wife did a fantastic job with it and from what I can see, everyone had a great time. If you are interested, please leave a comment here with your blog address. We need to be able to look and see what you are interested in. Then shoot me an e-mail to chrisstoesen at gmail.com. I need to know where you are located as well so I will need a mailing address to send to your Santa Clause recipient. I will cut off the registrations on September 30th.

That's it folks, lets get this going! I hope to see all of last year's participants back involved. It was a great time.

How is it this time of year already or "It's Secret Santa Time!"

The fine folks over at The Blog with No Name are starting to roll with Secret Santa v4. I am in. Stop on by and check it out. It is great fun. My Secret Santa from last year did a fantastic job in picking out something that I like. (I still need to paint it *sorry*)

Anyway, please join in on the fun. It's always nice to get toys for Christmas, no matter how old you are.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Tuesday Build Time

I picked up the parts to the Walthers Modern Conveyors today. I wanted to build it to use for a Ukrainian Mining Complex. It's an HO scale kit. But it looks like it will work well. I built the conveyor and the supports but have not put them together. The kit does not have the to and from buildings for the conveyor. I hope to have this finished off by the weekend and ready for photos. Here is a link to what I had bought.

The next building set I would like are some silos. I am thinking about this set or the ones from Impudent Mortal.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Kickstarter that I just joined in on and Other Things

I found this kickstarter and was suitably impressed with the 15mm offerings. Impudent Mortal has a very nice set of 15mm buildings that would work well for housing near an industrial quarter for my eastern front games. I plan on painting these accordingly.

Please check it out. They have both 28mm and 15mm sets in this kickstarter. It seems to have already more than reached its goal and they are due to come out this year. Click here for the kickstarter page: Impudent Mortal Kickstarter

Other Things

I found out this morning that the reason I am so tired is that I have a case of Strep again. To make myself feel better, I started some retail therapy. Really it was just adding items to my wishlist as I don't have any money to spend at the moment.

The first item that I found was a nifty little park in 15mm by a group called Finished Terrain. It looks to be a park surrounded by cobblestone and a hedge. It includes a fountain and a path across it. I want one.

The next item that I found was a nice little home with a pig sty on the back of it. It has a stair leading to a side door on the second floor. I think this could find a place either my east or west front games. It is a nice Four Ground building that comes prepainted. Something that I am getting increasingly interested in.

Maybe if I drop some hints, my wife I might get one of these for my birthday next month.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Star Wars X-Wing Game

I managed to play a game of the X-Wing miniatures game with my son this week. He wanted to be Luke Skywalker and had another x-Wing and a Y-Wing in tow. I had a three Tie Fighters and a Tie Interceptor. None were to special. I borrowed the collision rule from Check Your Six to use in the game. We ended up in a three way collision that had my best Tie fighter pilot explode. It was great watching my son learn how to play and think each move through. He was very protective of Luke Skywalker and after he lost his shields, Luke fled the field. This would cost him his Y-Wing as a casualty. His level 2 X-wing pilot had some very lucky dice and saw off another one of my Tie fighters before we ended the game for the night.

The rules really are fun. With the movement sticks and the range stick, it is easy enough for my six year old to grasp the basic rules. We had not added much of the chrome to it yet, but are still able to enjoy the game. If it was not for this game, I don't think I would have played much at all this year.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Its a long time since I have stopped by....

I have not faded away. This has been a very difficult year personally. My mother has been very ill and I have been shuttling back and forth to Tampa in order to take care of her. Trying to keep up with work and travel has consumed most of my time. But I do have some ideas still churning around in my head. Hopefully I will get to try some out before the end of the year.

Friday, July 24, 2015

A Brief Report

Well things have gone incredibly quiet here for a while. I have been dealing with some family issues as my Mother's health has been poor as of late. As a result, time for hobby related activities has disappeared.

Thus far, I have not had a chance to paint much this year. Gaming has been extremely rare. Here is hoping for a better second half of the year.

I have had some time to write. I am about halfway to completing the sequel to the CSS Appomattox. I have now crossed the 1000 copies sold on Kindle.

Till the next time...

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Great and Creative Giveaway Idea

The idea man behind the Depressive Diplomatist blog has just offered up an interesting giveaway. I like this because he is asking for more than just a simple comment. He is looking for a bit of art for his "Terrain Tuesday" and "Dr Who Wednesday" columns of his blog.

I am no artist. Then again, when you have seen my previous terrain efforts that I have posted here, that should be no surprise to you. But I think I have put together a winning idea. (Maybe an "At least you tried" prize) Drop on by. I would love to see others efforts.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Chain of Command Campaign and Check Your 6

I had some free time this week and tried an experiment. How many games of a Chain of Command campaign could I get in if I kept using the same table but rotated the starting positions of each side. It was a very successful attempt.

The games were set on the Eastern Front with Germans pushing the Russians in the Ukraine circa 1941. The patrol scenario did not go well for the Germans. They took a beating and did a withdrawl. In the second scenario, things were reversed. The Germans managed to give the Russians a significant beating while only loosing 2 men.

At that point, I put the game on hold. It was getting late and I had to work the next morning. Now had I had the opportunity to start earlier, I could have finished 4 or more games in a day had I wished. Not changing the terrain definitely sped up getting the second game going.

But what did the game look like? Well I only took one picture.

This gives you a good idea of the open farmland that was being fought over. Not a great picture but it was something.

For the first time this year (I think) I made it out for a game of CY6 at Gigabytes. Good scenario and better company. I flew a Russian recon flight that was trying to escape the Germans. Six Russian fighters joined in the fun to cover for me. I managed to get 2 of 3 aircraft off the board before scenario end. Thanks Mark for hosting a great game.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

US Mechanized Infantry Platoon - Completed

I finally finished off the second and third squads as well as the platoon HQ. I was trying to do this by the "book" and took pictures of the elements with the relevant pages from the FM 7-7. I have them set up for the H Series Platoon.

Platoon HQ:
The platoon HQ consists of the Platoon Leader, the Platoon Sergeant, the Platoon RTO, a Forward Observer, the FO's RTO, a Medic and a Driver. I have all modeled but the Medic and the driver. In terms of using them for Chain of Command, the FO & his RTO will probably be support elements rather than part of the platoon. The medic probably should be modeled but I did not have a suitable figure for it.

Squad 2:
The dismount elements of the squad include the squad leader, a team leader, a Dragon ATGM operator, an M60 gunner and four riflemen.

Squad 3:
And this is nearly identical to Squad 2 except I used some prone figures.

Support Elements
There was a figure included in the pack that had a man-portable AA missile. I decided to go ahead and paint it up. Its not much.

What's Left?
Well, nothing. I have all I need for a game. But I want some armor. I have a T-55 but it is painted as a Syrian tank. I would like a T-72. I would also like to get a M60A3 as well. But that is for the future. I still have some Soviet supports. Mainly a Heavy MG, an automatic grenade launcher and infantry with an underbarrel grenade launcher.

Still, this gives me 25 more painted figures for the year. Good to see progress.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Travel and Games

Periodically, I have to travel for work. In this instance, I am travelling for family. But when I am on the road I am always trying to figure out a way to get a game in that is easy to pack and simple to play.

My son is (as I am too) fascinated by all things Star Wars. I showed him the miniatures for the Star Wars X-Wing game and he was hooked. I bought a copy of the basic set and he picked out a second X-Wing and a Tie Interceptor. I played one game at home to familiarize myself with the rules. I also considered using the rules from an old TooFatLardies supplement called Bag the Jedi. But for now, I am sticking with the base set.

While on the current road trip, I picked up a second base set as it is the cheapest way to get reinforcements (3 ships in the box) as the box was on sale. I managed to get in my second game today. It played very quickly even with me fumbling my way through the rules.

The Positives
1) I like how simple the mechanics are.
2) The painted models are very nice.
3) This is easy to transport.

The Negatives
1) The larger ships are no where near scale for the fighters. This is not really a bad negative but it just does not look right to my eyes. I want to get the Star Wars Armada fighters and use them with the X-Wing capital ships and I think that would look better. Not sure if it would break the game though.
2) There is an unfortunate emphasis on having elite squadron building. This seems to be typical for many points based systems which X-Wing definitely is. There are options for the ordinary but how many opponents will actually use them.
3) Lack of a campaign system.
4) Lots of markers on the table.

Honestly, my negatives are really small nit picks that I can live with. I really like the game as is. I can create my own campaign system (use something like Squadron forward). And I probably won't ever deal with capital ships. So really, I have a nearly optimal game to travel with.

But I just can't leave well enough alone

What I would like to do is create a campaign system where squadrons from a particular vessels vie for the control of a given star system. What would that look like? Well, here are my thoughts.

This would be an Imperial garrison being supported by a single Star Destroyer that is holding a given system. The rebels dispatch a small fleet to disrupt, harass and destroy any imperial activity in the system to eventually liberate the system.

Easy enough,but a quick flip through the Wookiepedia (I was almost surprised such a thing existed) revealed a bunch of stats I could use for the capital ships. Neat! It seems that there are bunches of Star Destroyer types. I wanted something moderate, so I chose a Victory Class Star Destroyer.

The Victory Class apparently carry two squadrons of Tie-Fighters of 12 fighters each. This matched up extremely well with a Nebulon B Frigate for the rebels that carries two 12 fighter squadrons as well.

For the sake of the game, one squadron on each side I have declared to be a mixed Squadron so as to allow more than one ship type into play. Sure I could have chosen a bigger or more than one capital ship but I am working on a budget here. :)

So for the Imperials, Squadron 1 has 12x Tie Fighters. Squadron 2 has 6x Tie Bombers and 6x Tie Interceptors. The two Rebel squadrons have one squadron of 12 X-Wings and squadron two has 6 A-Wings and 6 Y-Wings.

These are my personal favorites as they were in the original movies. (Did not like the B-Wing for some reason.) I may at some point get a Tie Advanced to add some fun but this is the starting point.

The initial scenarios within the campaign will be smaller skirmishes or probes as the two sides get a feel for one another. Then culminating in a larger battle featuring the capital ships.

For that larger battle, I will need to get the Armada fighter packs which can be found for around $15 per pack and that gets you a nice size fighter force even though they would need to be rebased. Anyway, that is all still very speculative at this point. I will continue to kick this around in my noggin for a while and see if anything better falls out.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

More Cold War Miniatures... Almost

Well, I have all of my US Cold War troops painted up. I still have to base them and varnish though. Also I have two M113s that need painting. What I lack is support elements for my US troops. I just don't know what I should do. I am guessing a Jeep with a Recoilless Rifle or an MG mounted on the back. Also a tank or two because those are the supports that are available. But, I can't find any other supports. Any suggestions for 15mm support elements for a Cold War US Chain of Command force?

Hopefully they will be all done by the end of next week. Until then, I am on the road again.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Cold War US Troops

Yes indeed, I finished painting something this year. I managed 1st Squad of my Cold War US troops. I am not wild about the camo. But hopefully it is not too hideous. I like how the M113s turned out. I have 1st Squad's track and the command track finished.

But that is not all. I just finished with the platoon command dismounts. I have the platoon leader, the platoon sergeant, a forward Observer team, the platoon RATELO and a Stinger missile operator. I am short a medic but I did not have any suitable figures for it.

I also began work on the other two squads and their M113s. Hopefully, by the end of next month, I will have enough miniatures done to be able to get in a game with them. Still tempting me from my lead pile is some supports for my Soviets. I have some Eureka Soviets with an underslung grenade launcher, a Soviet Automatic Grenade launcher team and a heavy machinegun team. Things are starting to come together for this project.

Thursday, May 21, 2015


I think I have been remiss in not noting the recent increase in followers lately.

Darcy Perry is the most recent of the followers here. He is a busy man with no less than 4 blogs of his own.

Harmonica Masters Of New Zealand
Hits To Kill
Music Lessons

Also please welcome Dai Dead. I can't find a link to his blog. Dai, if you send it to me, I will happily post a link.

Bill has also joined. I also can't find a link to your blog. Please send me a link if you have one.

The Vikings Have Landed

A lovely brown box arrived at my desk this afternoon. Opening it up revealed the Essex Viking Crew and the Viking ship that I had ordered.

The ship is tiny. It comes in at under 4 inches long. It is very wide as well. It makes it much more useful as a merchant ship than a warship. It is well built. The detail is very nicely done. It is ready to build with the sail lowered. The ship does not come with the tiller. The tiller comes with the separate crew pack. It has the oars. The rowers in the crew pack are made to place the hands of the rowers on top of the oars where the pierce the side of the hull. The ship does come with a set of shields to mount on the side of the ship. I think I may not use them though.

This could make for an interesting piece to have on a table. I could use it as objective for a Romano-British raid.

Finally Picked up a Paint Brush

I had a few minutes of free time and sat down with brush in hand and got some work done.

I managed to put down the base uniform color on an entire platoon of Cold War US troops. I also started on the camo on eight of those. Thus far I am uncertain how this will turn out. I also finished the camo on my second M113! I still have to use some ink and varnish on these but I really like how they are turning out.

Next, I started to fiddle with my new Romano-British that I just received. I have four horses and riders, four archers and 12 loot carrying Saxons (ok, they are really Vikings but they will be standing in) and a screaming bishop. I probably could have undercoated them but I was happy to get anything done.

The Cold War stuff is starting to come together. If I can get some more painting done next week, I might (yes its possible) get the platoon complete.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Invading Early Saxons

Well I seem unwilling to let things sit for too long. I placed an order yesterday for a pack of Essex Miniatures Dark Age boat crew. This gives me 8 oarsmen and a helmsman. Then I picked up their tiny longship.

The Essex longship has 4 rowing benches for the 8 oarsmen that are in their pack. Fiddling around on the internet I found a cool graphic of the ships found at the Skuldelev site. This graphic is pulled from this neat site: http://www.donsmaps.com/viking1.html

The Essex longship is about the size of the small cargo ship. (I found another image that showed their rowing benches but I can't find it now.) Now the Essex longship is roughly 80mm in size. I already have a Peter Pig longship. It is 6" in size (152mm roughly). It sports 14 "rowers" on 7 benches even though I grabbed the sailed one instead of the rowed one. Still a rather small ship in comparison to the Skuldelev 5 which is a small warship. That one has 13 rowing benches. So what I am looking for is at least one more longship for my growing fleet. Actually, I still want the Peter Pig Rowed ship as well.

What I will do with my small navy is still undecided. I want to use them to represent the arrival of reinforcements and change the Saxon reinforcements that show up to be based on ship's crews. So as the reputation of my Saxon lord grows, he would gain additional ships crews to his service. Its still an idea in flux.

One idea is for the scenario in one of the TFL specials which features a landing. That would be great fun in and of itself. But the thought of basing reinforcements by ships crews is what is sticking in my head. I am just not sure how they would make any appearance on a table top.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Piddling Around With Dux Brit Again

I am still in a malaise when it comes to painting and I have not gotten in a single game yet this year. However, I have been looking at my Saxons, Picts and Romano-Brits again. I have the base forces for Romano-Brits and Saxons. I have most that I need for the Picts. What I lack is the reinforcements that would occur as a campaign continues.

So I found myself on E-Bay. I ended up winning a perfect auction for me. It had 6 saxon elites (which I really did not need), five RB Heavy Shock cavalry and 12 RB archers. Those are way more archers than I need. But all are Splintered Light figures which dominate existing troops so they will fit right in.

But that is not all I was looking at. I ended up picking up some Viking figures that I thought might prove useful. I picked up the high value loot pack and the Vikings carrying loot packs. Neither are very useful for the game, BUT, I thought they would be useful for when troops capture loot in the game to mark who is running off with stuff.

Now there were other things that I was looking at too. Essex Miniatures has a pack of Vikings at oars with a steersman. I really want to make a longship or the like for my incoming raiders. The old Two Dragons line also had such a pack but I can't find anyone who has them. Rumor has it that they also had a nice longship. I want to make my own as the ones that I have found on-line are all smaller than I would like to have. I have held off on buying the Essex pack so far. I want to try to paint something before I buy any more figures. (Who am I kidding...)

Anyway, it felt nice to at least think about the hobby a bit.

Another Great Giveaway

Pendragon is doing a giveaway. He has a very nice 28mm Norman church up for grabs. Head over to his site and check it out.

4 http://pendragonwithout.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/10000-page-views-giveaway-and-boobs.html

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Can't Beat a Great Giveaway

Its the little things that make me smile. Its been a rotten couple of weeks for me lately. Family health issues. Traveling to Florida to sit in a hospital for days on end. And yesterday, I wrecked my car. But then a thin "ray" of light shines through the darkness.

Yep, Ray is doing a giveaway on his blog and it is grand. I really would like the Peter Pig lot but give it a look. There is not a bad item there. The cowboy offerings are nice as is...well everything.

Take a look: http://onelover-ray.blogspot.com.au/2015/05/500-posts-mega-blog-giveaway.html

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Trying to Keep My Head Above Water

Things have been a bit quiet on the blog lately. Well, there is a good reason for it. My Mom has been having some serious health issues this year. I am back down in Tampa for her 3rd hospitalization of the year. This has been much of the focus for me rather than fun stuff. Hopefully things will start turning around.

What I have been doing is listening to more of the Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell. Once I strip out his hatred of all things Christian, its a fun book series. This has prompted me to reevaluate my Dux Britannarium forces. I really only have the basic troops. I don't really have enough to expand those forces in a campaign. I guess the sensible thing would be to remind myself that I have never played more than 2 games in a campaign yet so why worry about it. But I am not feeling sensible. I have cast my covetous eyes on Khurasan's Late German figures. I am thinking of getting a pack of their Follower Cavalry for the Saxon Light Cavalry reinforcements and a pack of their Western Infantry. They would provide a nice contrast to my Splintered Light figures to differentiate them as later followers.

I also started to think about how these would be represented in a campaign. The basic starting Saxon Force is about 34 troops and four leaders including the champion. That works out to about one ship's crew. Now the Dux B campaign system assumes a larger ratio in that you are a budding warlord about to take over province. 34 guys are not really much of a force at 1 to 1. Unless you consider them as smaller pieces to a larger campaign. Your noble starts out with a single ship's crew and attempts to build a larger force as he gains reputation.

Anyway, that is what was running through my head while sitting in the hospital the past week.

Friday, March 27, 2015

It's Friday! Lets have a Sale

I am so happy that this week is coming to a close. Both my son and wife were sick with strep this week. I managed to avoid catching it so far. I have a nice date night set for my wife and my mother in law is watching my son. If all goes well, I may even have time to paint tomorrow.

In order to celebrate the weekend, I am going to put all of my books on sale for 50% off from now until the end of the month (3/31/2015). Now, if you want to take an additional $1.00 off the price, mention the sale on your blog and post the link to the article here. Now even if you don't take advantage of this deal, please post a reference to this on your page as someone else may want to. (Pretty please)

The prices end up being:

BookOriginal PriceSale PriceLink Price
The Falcon and the Gladiator$10.00$5.00$4.00
The Coming Thunder$10.00$5.00$4.00
In the Name of Roma$11.00$5.50$4.50
CSS Appomattox*$2.99$1.49$0.49
Air Campaign for the Western Desert$4.00$2.00$1.00

* - This is a Kindle Book. Let me know and I will send you either the Mobi file or an ePub file (your preference).

How do you get this deal? First, Do NOT click on the buy now links. Instead, post the money to my paypal account and make note of the books that you are interested in. I will e-mail you the files you are interested in.

Regardless, Have a great weekend folks.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Random Rambles

I am still seized by a lethargy. I have not managed to get any painting or games in this year. The first quarter of the year is almost over. It is very frustrating.

I am getting a little bit of reading in. I received a book from the Depressive Diplomatist a while back that is sitting on my bedside table. It is an excellent book covering the Soviet view of Operation Barbarossa in 1941. Its slow progress as it is mixed in with other stuff I am reading.

Anyway, thanks for hanging in there with me despite the slow updates.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Where has the time gone?

Between work and family, February has just rocketed past. My last post was almost a month ago. And what have I accomplished in that time? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

It is very depressing. So far I have one M113 that has been painted this year. I have played 0 games. I have two games to play test and have done neither. And I have done no work on my ACW scenario supplement.

But it is still early march. It can be fixed. Once I am back from dealing with some family issues, I am going to make every effort to do something. Afterall, life is short.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Painting Progress - Cold War Chain of Command

Finally, I got around to working on my IrishSerb M113s. They have been assembled and undercoated so far. I managed to get one of them painted up. I had a nice template that I found on-line detailing MERDC camo patterns. Take a look, they are rather useful. My wife and son helped me pick some craft paints to use for this. To my poor eyes they look ok.

Now it still needs some work. I want to use some washes on it and do some more work on the tracks. I was just happy to get something done.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Finally something accomplished

I was able to get started last night for the first time this year. I broke out the superglue and an exacto knife and began work assembling my Irish Serb made M113s that I bought at the end of last year. These are great kits. They are resin and come in seven parts. The bow machine gun is very fidly but I was able to find some pointers on Irish Serb's blog. He recommended assembling the MG and mount prior to attaching it to the hull. Even my fat fingers managed the task. So the net result of my first bit of hobby work for the year.... one assembled M113.

I have three more to go. What I did find to help me once I start painting was a painting template for the M113 in MERDEC camo. I already have the paints I need and I am looking forward to giving it a shot. I am also exceedingly glad I only have 4 of these to do.

Now I need some recommendations. What would be good support elements for my Mechanized Platoon? It seems that an M150 (an M113 with a TOW launcher) is a good idea. Maybe a couple of jeeps as well with either TOW, recoilless Rifle or MG mounted. Would an M113 ACAV be worthwhile? Lastly, what armor to look at? For the 1982 timeframe in Germany, would an M60A2 be out of place?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Some New Toys

Its been a strange start to the year. I have yet to pick up a paint brush but I have managed to acquire a bunch of new lead. Yesterday I started to go through what I picked up.

First up is the US Infantry that I received last week. These are Cold War era US troops. There are very few poses. There are a bunch of fellows running, a few standing and shooting and a few kneeling and shooting. Then there are a few other sorts mixed in. I grabbed three packs in total and it provided enough for my 1980s Platoon.

The minis appear to be a bit on the small side. The prone figures are unbased. There is a lack of clear officer or NCO figures in the pack. There are some figures that look like a guy might be throwing a grenade. Those were promoted to squad leaders. Overall, I am OK with the figures but they are not the best. If Khurasan or Eureka were to come up with something, I would drop these for the newer figures.

I also splurged on some terrain. I grabbed the Battlefront Mosque and Mosque walls off of Amazon. It is a nice size piece of terrain and will be great for a Western Desert game of Chain of Command.

Next up is a moment of weakness while cruising through eBay. I noticed a pack of Baudea Romans They are the AUC1 work detail pack. I really don't need these figures and they were a complete impulse buy. I really need to learn a bit of restraint.

Last up was the arrival of my winnings from a blog contest. I am now the proud owner of a bunch of Napoleonic Prussians in 15mm. These are great figures and perfect for creating a small force for Sharp Practice. What I now have is 31 infantrymen, two NCO types, three officers, three standard bearers and three drummers. These are great! The only downside is having to paint them.

Painting totals for 2015 still stands at 0.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

January 20th and 0 Progress

I don't know how this happened but I have not even picked up a miniature to paint since the year started. How is the time speeding by so fast. I have not worked at all on my West Virginia campaign either. Anyone else had a slow start?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Back from Vacation and Look What I Found Waiting For Me

Paul Smith from the End Transmission blog recently did a contest and I found out that I had won. I received a box on my desk this morning. Contained within were a vast array of goodies. There are two plastic miniatures in gray plastic. One might be a zombie with a samurai sword and the other is a dapper looking chap holding a pistol in one hand. He could be from the cover of the old Top Secret book. Next was a bag of tokens from Wargames Tournaments. These look like they would make fantastic Jump off Points for a desert game of Chain of Command. At least this is how I plan on using them. Next up is a plastic sprue of what looks like 28mm Republican Roman troops. They appear to be skirmishy type fellows. These are very tempting. Next up is a robed fellow who looks like he could be a ring wraith or death or something like that. Then there are what appears to be 4 infinity figures. All in rather dramatic poses.

Thank you so much Paul. These are nifty.

Next up I received a great book from Edwin over at the Depressed Diplomatist site - Barbarossa Through Soviet Eyes. Fantastic book on Soviet point of view of the first 24 hours of Operation Barbarossa. This is something I have been looking for and am very glad to have received it. It was reasonably priced and I cannot complain at all about the shipping from the UK. Honestly, he has my favorite bookstore now. I told him what I was interested in and he kept an eye out until he found this gem. I am a very happy guy.

The disappointing part is the missing figures from Old Glory 15s. I ordered them on December 29th but still no sign. I will just have to be more patient.

I will post some pictures once I get home.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Planning Stages - Cold War gone Hot

Having received my Secret Santa present, my mind is whirring on what to do with it. I have three full squads of Cold War era Brits based on the TO&E that I found online. I need a few more packs for the Platoon Command section and four vehicles (FV432) to round out the base platoon. But what supports do they need or would likely have available? I am really unsure of what to get or even what would be reasonable.

For the Soviets, I have started expanding their forces. My order just came in from Eureka USA. I have a tripod mounted HGM and one of those automatic grenade launchers. Both only have a crew of 2 at this point, but a couple more guys with AKs would round them out. Both of those would be battalion level support elements. I am not sure what other support I should get them. Any ideas?

I also picked up their models with the Soviet equivalent of the M203 strapped under an AK. Not sure when those went into use with the Soviets. It may not be appropriate for an early 1980s force. Eventually I will buy some more armor for them. I want three T-62s and three T-72s for the armor. Enough that there is a platoon each. At the moment, I just have a single Syrian T-55 to proxy in.

My US force is coming together. I have ordered the miniatures for the infantry and am still waiting on them to arrive. I received my IrishSerb M113s. What I lack is armor and support weapons. What would be useful for troops based in Europe in 1982 or so?