Saturday, 23 February 2013

Lydians vs Thracians - A Solo DBA Game

Here is a report of a solo DBA game I managed to fit in during the festive season.  The idea was to try to use the solo rules mechanisms (for DBA v2.2) from the Solo DBA Development Yahoo site (which apparently are a combination of the "Random Terrain Placement" mechanisms of John Meunier and  "De Bellis Solitarius" by Chad la Mons).

Note that as I'm waiting for DBA v3.0 to come out I am still using v2.0, although as it's only me it makes no odds (and I've still got my DBA v1.0 on the shelf, neatly covered in brown paper). Anyway, here we go.  Basically this was a face off between some Thracians (I/48) at the top of the board and Lydians (I/50) at the bottom.
The rules are divided into three main elements, comprising placement of terrain, initial deployment and then the 'tactical engine' covering the actual game play.  For the latter, die throws determine the range of tactical options that the non-player army can deploy in any particular move, modified by how the battle is going, losses, etc.
Intial deployment
Move 1
Move 2
Move 3
Move 4
As you can see, on the one hand there is the inexorable and disciplined advance of the Thracians, contrasting markedly with the ragged and chaotic attempts at redoployment by the Lydians, not assisted in the least by persistently low PIP scores.
Move 5
Move 6
An ominous development for the Lydians in Move 6.  The Thracian infantry (with their general in the centre) take up a defensive position on the (non-paltry) river bank as their light horse rush across the river (after throwing a 6 for a 'high aggression' stance) to attack the Lydian light horse and hoplites oposite them, before they have had a chance to form up properly. 
Move 7
Close up of light horse action on the right.
Move 8
Thracian aggression pays off and the Lydians lose one element of Paphlagonian light horse and have one element recoil.
Move 9
However, Thracian success is short-lived as the Lydian light horse moves back into the line and destroys the opposing light horse whilst the Lydian hoplites push back the Thracians to their front, who retreat back across the river.
Move 10
Move 10
The Lydians are annoyed now and, having formed up, storm en masse across the river to attack the waiting Thracians.  Not the best idea possible but at least a conclusion was quickly reached...
Move 11
Finally, the Lydian knights and hoplites make contact!  However, the Lydian general (me) should not have underestimated the difficulties of attacking a defended river bank.
Move 12
The attack across the river has mixed results, by which I mean does not go well for the Lydians.  On the right the Thracian light horse is forced to recoil and flee by the Lydian hoplites but in the centre there is disaster.  Due to appalling die throws (and tactical stupidity on my part) the Lydian knights in the centre are pushed back by the Thracian auxilia and in the very centre the Lydian general's element is destroyed.  Game over.
I'm sure there was General element in the middle there a moment ago.
Not a pretty sight.  However, at least it was a chance to get some armies out of the red tool box (all Chariot Figures, now marketed by Magister Militum) and to try out my recently painted DBA board and new river sections as well as the Solo DBA rules. Overall I think they worked well, although there is still an element of judgement in deciding what to do when presented with various tactical options.  Worth another bash though which I will report on in due course.
It'll all end in tears.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Armourfast T34/76

I'll confess that I don't paint as much as I should and certainly I haven't painted any armour for a very long time.  However, this week I finished a couple of Arnourfast T35/76 that were assembled last summer.  This was mainly an exercise in weathering techniques and to try out a few ideas I'd seen discussed on the internet.
The main colour is acrylic Tamyia "J.A.Green" (XF-13).  Over this I added various rust spots and lines around hinges and other areas I thought might go a bit rusty, for example around the exhausts.  Tracks were painted black and then with a metalic gun metal/steel colour (a humbrol enamel).  I then gave the tracks a thin wash of rust colour, Revell acrylic "Reddish Brown" (37).
The whole model was then given a black wash and dry brushed with acrylic Tamiya "Dark Yellow" (XF-60) to pick out edges and any raised details (XF-60 happens to be the recommended base colour for german tanks).  Numbers were added by hand (might try to find decals next time).  Then came the interesting bit - adding the mud.  For this I used Revell acylic "Dark Earth" (82) thinned down, which was washed over the wheels and mudguards a few times

I then loaded up a stiff brush - one of the cheap nylon ones for children you get from IKEA and, using my thumb, sort of flicked the thinned paint in various places to simulate mud that had been thrown up onto the tank.  I may have overdone this a bit but it was fun.  The last thing was to add some more black wash around the exhausts.

Overall, they have turned out OK although I think that a little more contrast would be good.  Next time I'll make the black wash a bit thicker and add more rust spots - the detail isn't that deep on these models so more contrast between dark wash and lighter highlights will be required.  Also, I will add a bit more detail, hawsers, tarpaulins and whatnot and might even paint on some suitably stirring slogans - I did try it this time but couldn't paint them small enough so that the words would fit.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Armies and Uniforms of the WSS (Vol 2)

As with all my various wargame projects, which as you may have noticed always have incredibly long and overlapping timescales, I am laying the ground by buying books, reading widely, and speculating imaginatively what it would be like to paint and then wargame with such and such an army, before moving egregiously on to the next period. I’ll run out of periods soon.

However, it is fun to collect good books; and we should be thankful that there continues to be a growing interest in wargaming with many excellent wargaming books (and rule sets) constantly being produced. Below is my latest purchase, which was an obvious addition after recently buying Vol 1 from the excellent Caliver Books (see earlier post below).
Right lads!  Don't fire until you see the whites of
If you only have the first volume I would heartily recommend getting this book as well. Not only has it twice as many plates as the previous book, but it also describes the war in more detail and rounds out the narrative with more information on actions in Spain and Italy (including the involvement of the Papal states).

The main thing though is that it gives a lot of detail on Spanish armies (of both sides) as well as the armies of Portugal, Savoy/Piedmont plus additional plates covering British and French uniforms that apparently couldn’t be fitted into the first book. There are also some details of the main battles in Spain and Italy and of course the well known engagements in the Low Countries.

This book therefore is an essential purchase for me because although my intention is, for the first time, to build an army of redcoats (and supporting Dutch) to (one day) face Geoff’s (Roundway) French, I think it will be interesting to build up a Spanish army, as they were an effective fighting force, often deployed with French allies, sported some colourful uniforms and also had the opportunity to fight over some pleasant Iberian terrain. Which can’t be bad.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Panthers in Skirts

Spring must be in the air because I'm feeling the urge to make things again.  I'd actually constructed these Armourfast 1/72 scale Panther Ausf. G a while ago and as they are modelled with side rails I decided to add some side skirts to them (Schürzen).
The plates are basically 15mm by 10mm (approx.) rectangles that I cut from thinnish plasticard just glued on so that they were slightly uneven with variable gaps between them.  Having looked at various photos on-line there seems to be some variation in the number and dimensions of plates that were generally used.  I went with five on each side to match the Hasegawa Panther in the background, which comes with Schürzen fitted as standard.  Similarly the fastening arrangements seemed to differ so I just added some little slips of cut up business card to represent these - it'll be good enough for wargaming, that's my mantra.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Books of the War of the Spanish Succession

A couple of books arrived this week, one from Amazon and the other from Caliver Books.  Geoff has been slowly building up a French army for this period using Roundway figures and I had not really paid much attention to it, until now.  So, I thought I'd get a few books on the period to see how it went (I have form in that direction).

Actually Steve the Wargamer's WSS project pages have provided very useful information (including comparisions between different figure manufacturers) and pointed me in the right direction.  The first was the David Chandler book The Art of Warfare in the Age of Marlborough, which is mainly about organisation and tactics although it does list every engagement in an Appendix (not bad second hand for £10 plus p+p).
The other book that arrived was CS Grant's Armies and Uniforms of Marlborough's Wars Vol 1.  This is an excellent book with very fine illustrations mainly by Bob Marrion and includes comprehensive tables of coat colours and facings for what appears to be all of the regiments of Austria, Bavaria, England (Britain after the Treaty and Acts of Union of 1707, technically), Denmark, the Netherlands, France and Prussia.
It all looks very interesting although I'd hoped that Spain would be included in this book (I've never had any Spanish troops, nor fielded the redcoats for that matter).  However, puchasing Vol 2, to get information on the Spanish armies as well as other minor states, will be no hardship if it is as good as this volume, I think.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Freighters and Drifters

A major issue for naval squadrons operating during wartime far from home base, and with the risk of internment if they lingered too long in port anywhere, was the continual problem of coaling and resupply.

As I've blogged earlier I'm thinking of some sort of WW1 early war campaign using the Berthier Campaign Manager based on the attempt of von Spee's East Asia Squadron to get out of the Pacific, into the Atlantic and possibly even make it back to Germany (or internment in Montevideo or similar).
SS Titania
One of the support ships that von Spee relied on was the Titania, completed in 1897 in Newcastle upon Tyne for the Finnish Merchant Navy.  It was subsequently converted to a supply ship in 1914 and was sunk at Mas a Fuera on 19 November 1914.
SS Titania - Navwar 1/3000
This is the Navwar version - not quite the same colour scheme as the one I found on the photoship website - so I may redo it in a more tropical guise.  One of the scenarios I was thinking about, particularly for an SMS Emden campaign, was the difficulties of warships and supply ships trying to meet up without being detected and this is where the Titania would come in.
SMS Emden
In addition, there are options for ships such as the Emden preying on merchant ships as it did successfully in the Indian Ocean and elsewhere.  Navwar do various cargo ships but I thought that something called the A/B Standard ship would fit the bill.  Here is the War Brahmin, listed as a freighter of this type.
A/B Standard Ship - War Brahmin
According to the Navwar website these ships date from 1917 and many operated into WW2 so, although a bit late for the Emden era, it will do and can also be used for WW2 actions, should I ever get around to them.  Here is the Navwar version of this class of ship.
I was a bit closer to the mark with the colour scheme with this one as you can see.