Thursday, January 12, 2017

Terrain tiles take shape.

For the base of my tiles I decided to use 1" thick extruded polystyrene. This is stiffer and more solid than the expanded version, and far lighter than MDF or plywood. it sells locally for $15 a sheet which will do 2 tiles with one knife cut.

The carpet is then glued on with No More Nails which doesn't seem to interact with the plastic an any way. The carpet tiles themselves also have residual glue from whatever held them down in their last life, which gives a bit of tack round the edges. I will add some rare earth magnets to help things hold together on the table top.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Roll on 2017

Well, 2016 was not a great year for gaming. I think I've played 4 SH and 1 MSH game, and pretty much nothing else.

Last week while on a visit to the local recycled timber yard (currently shut due to the timber stacks falling over in the Kaikoura earthquake) I came across some green carpet 1' squares cheap-ish. 

I'm not sure when this colour was popular but I manged to get a pile of it during a refurbishment in my University department a few jobs back. This did sterling service under our re-fights of Crete and Sedan.

So, with a 110 squares I figure that there's enough for 20 odd 2' square terrain tiles (including hills etc) so I'll have to start doing some thinking on what sort of terrain that I want. one of the first stops will be my collection of 1:50000 maps of West Germany

"What, doesn't everyone have some?"
I'm also doing some research on the areas of lower Austria, but mostly using Google earth. its not great but does tell you things like typical roof colours. Its a bit of a pain that Germany and Austria have opted out of Streetview.

(Oh and if anyone knows of any good maps of Prussia or Courland C1944-45 I would be interested).

Sunday, October 30, 2016

MSH encounter battle on the road to Bad Hersfeld

I hate to think how long its been since I last played MSH. I think its well over 2 years. My fellow SH player in Palmerston North had expressed an interest in playing an MSH game as it fits with his interests as well. I provided the armies and he supplied the location. I even managed to remember to take some pictures.

the US forces consisted of 4 understrength battalions from the 1st brigade of the 3rd armoured division. Lucky for Jon, he got to command a battalion of M60A2's (I'm a generous sort of guy, and its hard to find the points for 2 battalions of M60A1's). My lists was 2 full BTR 70 battalions with T64B companies and 122mm artillery support, backed up by the divisions independent tank battalion with T62's and 152mm artillery support. The table was laid out and the dice thrown to give an encounter battle with Jon having 1 battalion on table.

Jon placed his on table BHQ on the far large hill. I looked at the table and pondered attacking across a stream into the teeth of a set battalion. My generalship skills must be improving as I recognized this as a bad idea. I decided to flank march from the near table edge with one infantry battalion and the second across the hill. The T62 battalion would follow on turn 3 down the central road.

So, what was the US plan? As far as I could glean it was along these lines.

One of the infantry battalions was placed in reserve behind the M60A1 battalion on the hill. the M60A2's got the crossroads (and a meeting with the T62's) and the M113 battalion held the southern flank.  Moving the action on a couple of turns and we get to this...

The 2 Russian infantry battalions push in on the left flank while the T62's charge the M60A2 battalion. The US troops on the right flank start moving to flank the Russians but just a bit slowly.

A few turns further on and the fighting got very confused with stands all over the place.

The US infantry was having a great day in close combat with my troops taking a kicking. however direct fire and artillery slowly whittles them down in the top left. The T62's were demonstrating what a bad idea missles in a tank were, and the second largely fresh BTR battalion was positioning itself to take on the flanking M60A1 battalion. For those wondering what the hell is going on in the middle, there were hedge rows attached to one side of the cast roads which severely limited shooting ranges and firing arch's. The M150 stands were also demonstrating how poorly the MSH rules deal with ATGW armed tank destroyers.

Finally the US infantry battalion broke, and the T62's won a close combat round (the Russians 1st after 5 attempts). The T62's had outshot there opponents, and the Russian infantry was starting to make inroads into the attacking M60A1 battalion. At this point we called the game as I had another appointment. I realized that not only had I not used the Hinds I had, but the counter battery units the US had been given were in fact for the defend list I had knocked up that morning. The counted battery was far less of a problem than it could have been due to a long streak of 1's on the dice. I also didn't make clear enough the benefits of cross attachment at the start of the game which could have changed things if the M60A1's had been more spread out across the table.

Despite this it was a good hard scrap between 2 reasonably balanced forces. Hopefully this will encourage Jon to play a few more games.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Austrian army 1980's

Slow continued painting and basing of my Austrians has lead to sorting out some sort of army list for them.
Que 'opening can of worms' sound.

Now I had been using the good old Ultramodern army lists from 1986 to base my army on, and for the most part I've found them to be reasonably accurate. This doesn't extend to the Warsaw Pact with some of the equipment being rather inaccurate. Anyhoo, back to the topic at hand.

As part of its re-establishment as a nation in 1955, Austria was limited in what its armed forces could use. No missiles or submarines, or long range artillery. Surrounded by Warsaw pact countries, Austria's army was set up to delay invaders moving through to other countries (though I can't see Austria , especially the western end, being a convenient highway to anywhere). As such it was largely based round local troops and blocking units backed by more mobile regular infantry units and 3 Panzergrenadier brigades. The regular units throw up a few problems of their own equipment wise, but I'll get to that in a later post.

The local troops are quite interesting from an 'odd equipment' point of view. The blocking companys manned fixed fortifications which had Europes largest collection of fixed tank turrets. These were mostly 105mm Centurion turrets, but also included M47, M36, M24 and even someold T34/85's. To cap it all there were also Charioteer turrets. River blocking units were armed with 40mm AA cannons to shoot up likely crossing points
I've been pondering how to model these on the table. Obviously the attack factors take care of themselves but the defensive factors are far more difficult. Some options I have pondered would be
-counting as infantry so a 7 to destroy with AI factors.
-spotted as infantry (except when firing).
The points cost would also have to be sorted out.
I don't think that they should be allowed to ambush as I suspect that Warsaw Pact operatives would have plotted out the general locations of all the emplacements.
deploying on the table I would suggest that one tank turret stand and 1 infantry stand be deployed touching each other and also touching a terrain feature thats not a hill.
Anyone else have any thoughts ?

Bruce Rea-taylors Ultramodern army lists 1986

Monday, August 29, 2016


Not a lot of modeling or gaming done at the moment. House stuff is somewhat getting in the way. New hot water system and associated crawling round under the house, which in places is a couple of inches thinner than me.
However I have been reading some books, which is somewhat of a novelty for me.
Late last year Robin Sutton reviewed a book on the eastern front in 1915 by Prit Buttar. It was one of those things where I thought "that's a topic I really know nothing about" (apart from Tanneburg was a win for the Germans) . I promptly ordered "Collision of empires" which covers 1914, and "Germany ascendent" which covers 1915.  These are both good reads an to my mind the only negative comment I have is that the maps could be much better. They are a bit too small and unclear as it stands. This aside they are well written and a good window into the horror's of the eastern front, which makes the western front seem somewhat sane and tame in places.  Based on this I have pre-ordered The final book of the series which covers the eastern front in 1916 and 1917 leading to the Russian surrender.

While purchasing these last book I happened to glance at the sidebar and notied another couple of books, "Battleground Prussia" by the same author and 'The fall of the Ottoman empire" which is another area I know nothing about beyond Galipoli and Lawrence of Arabia. "Battleground Prussia" covers the Russian invasion of Prusia in 1945 right through to the end of the war where the fighting lasted several days after the official surrender as troops tried to fight their way to the Baltic and a dangerous boat trip to the west. "Berlin" by Antony Beevor touches on these battles but they are secondary to the main topic.again the maps are a bit dodgy but the writing more than makes up for this. Given his prolific writing I don't know how he holds down his day job as a GP.

So, I'm now far better informed than I was but it has left me divided about getting into Great War Spearhead. There is plenty of scope for games in there but I'm somewhat taken aback by the prolific waste of troops on all sides. People who know me will probably be surprised to see me write that last sentence. Maybe it will suit my style of play....

Friday, July 1, 2016

Possible 1944 Cavalry Corps list

So, a bit later than promised.
I'll also state that these are rather incomplete.

Corps Hq    1 Cavalry stand.
It just doesn't really seem to be much. I think a divisional command stand base should be bigger, maybe 2" square?

There is also a collection of Battalions and regiments similar to those found in the Mech and Tank corps.

Recon battalion
BHQ 1 smg stand in truck.
1 motorcycle coy 3smg stands
1 H/t coy 3 smg stands in M3 H/t

This has been cribbed from the Lists in the spearhead book. the Nafziger lists give numbers of armoured vehicles (14 plus 8 trucks),smg's rifes etc. no motorcycles or horses mentioned. On second thoughts I would expect horses rather than motorcycles.

SP artillery regiment; 4 Su-85.
Given that the cavalry units tended oto operate in rough terrain 4 Su-76's may also be a possibility.

Engineering battalion. Based on the lsts given I would suggest.
BHQ cavalry stand
1 coy 3 engineer stands /rifles in trucks
1 coy 3 engineer stands /rifles incarts.
sounds odd but there's no lower detail so I'm just guessing really.

Motorised tank destroyer regiment.
5 76/41 guns/ tractors. There are also a stack of AT rifles which I'm reluctant to have as separate stands.

Mortar regiment.
4 120mm Mortars/ horse drawn (possibly 2 battalions of 2 stands)
The spearhead lists for both the Mech corps and Tank corps have 2 battalions each with 3 stands. In this case there TOE is only 20 mortars which I can't stretch to 6 stands (and 5 makes no sense)

Anti-aircraft regiment.
4 37mm AA guns/ truck.
1 AA HMG stand / truck.

Rocket battalion
2 BM-13 Katyusha

At Battalion
3 45mm guns/ trucks.
(I still have no idea why you would bother with these as they have no use. May as well give then a bag of rocks.)

That's it for the fighting troops.

The Nafziger list also has 2 tank regiments with T-34/85 but the alternative source states that these did not exist.

So, a few other toys worth having to make up for not having the 4th cavalry regiment in the division. At least theres now enough points to make it to 650.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Russian Cavalry Division 1944 updated.

After My concience asked the question in the last post, I had a quick look on line to see what was avaliable information wise. NowI'll state now that one should take any published TOE (including this one) with a grain of salt.
I've always been of the opnion that if you don't want to know/hear the answer to a question  you shouldn'e ask it in the first place, but I digress.

The sources are from the Nafzinger collection, and from a Russian contributor on the Axis History forum. Mostly they agree. I'll list the Nafzinger list and note differences from the Axisforum list in brackets in red.

1944 Cavalry division.
Divisional HQ 1 cavalry stand.
There are also a selection of vets, bakers etc, which you could model by having another couple of Cavalry SMG stands if you wanted.

3 Cavalry regiments.
In my reading I have not come across a 'Guards unit' with 4 regiments. Any units aquiring Guards status just seemed to be renamed.
RHQ cavalry SMG stand
4 squadrons 3 cavalry SMG platoons. This is an assumption on my part as no breakdown is given.
( 4 cavalry SMG platoons, 1 HMG/cart).
AT platoons are listed but they would be part of the cavalry stands AT factors.
1 squadron 3 HMG/Cart
(already accounted for)
1 AT battery 45mm.
(same). No calibre mentioned in either list
1 battery 76.2mm with no further details.
(Named as a regimental gun, which could be a reference to the 76/16 Infantry gun).
2 82mm Mortar /Cart
(same). Nafzinger doesn't list these on the list but they are present in the weapons breakdown.
1 Engineer cavalry platoon SMG
Nafzinger lists 2 other platoons but no information on what they might be (the regimental dancing Cossack platoons?)

Armoured battalion HQ T34.
4 coy 2 T34.
The list just states 41 tanks with no further details. This does match with the Tank regiments avaliable to the Mech Corps Mechanised brigades.
Armoured Regiment HQ T34
4 T34, 3 T70.

Artillery Battalion
3 76.2mm/horse drawn. No further information.
2 120mm Mortars/horse drawn.
Artillery Battalion
2 76.2mm ZIS-3 /horse drawn.
3 120mm Mortars/horse drawn.
Intersting choice here. I might lean towards the mortars as they are easier to haul round. I've seen pictures in a manual with a 120mm mortar broken down on pack horses.

AA Battery 1 37mm/Truck
(AA Battalion 1 37mm or 25mm AA Horse drawn
5 AA HMG/ horse)

So, there we go. mostly the same but the devil in the details.
There are a stack of other platoons (gas defence, Medical, Vets etc) which I have not included here. I would imagine in combat they would be subsumed in the fighting stands.

Next time I'll cover the higher level Corps setup.