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Sunday, 28 February 2016

'Hedging' bets on revamping old scenery

In the spirit of 'tightening the financial belt'. (for as long as the will power lasts out) I've decided to revamp some of my home made hedges. Built around twenty years ago, from Brillo pads, my hedges have stood the test of time. However the discovery of a cheap glue gun and clump foliage made the time investment worthwhile (except for the hot glued fingers!)

They were simple enough to complete, with squeezing the foliage quickly onto the hot glued hedge, and gently brushing off the excess. Some patches that did not receive stuck clumps were touched up with ordinary PVA glue; pretty easy as this was usually on the top of the hedge. Finally I drybrushed some artist acrylic light grey on the base, to bring out the detail a little more. I've enough to make a small game table look suitably crowded, and I feel they look nice and bushy. Will use them in the next game.


Friday, 26 February 2016

Re-based 15mm German infantry

Have just about, nearly finished rebasing my German infantry in line with my ruleset (which needs a name, any ideas?). As part of the job, of have been re-touching the paintwork. Uniforms brightened up, faces highlighted with a brighter skin tone, and damaged helmets repaired and brightened up.

It's felt quite a pleasure to complete these little guys as I have fond memories of first playing with them in a past gaming group. They have certainly seen plenty of action when compared to some of my other figures and therefore needed a rest and refit.

The infantry are now on either square or round bases. Leaders are on circles, and the number of figures on a base represents their effectiveness/level in the game; I'm trying to use as many visual clues as possible to make it clear for the players. What you can see above are my squaddies; two types, the front line foots loggers and the speedier grenadier counterparts.

Next up are the support weapons on smaller bases. I've used little dice frame holders to hold key information for the game - number of hits (white dice) and number of suppressions (currently purple as they were the only dice I could get from a wargames show!). Hopefully this dynamic will allow the fact that some squads can be beaten up physically, but remain in the game, whilst other troops will refrain from action, even with minimal hits.

Next up, time to complete my U.S. Infantry.


Tuesday, 23 February 2016

'Overwatching' the introduction of WWII Armour

Tonight saw the introduction of armour to the interactions of the miniature battlefield; thanks Ed and Daz for your valuable input and ideas. The number of action counters allocated to vehicles was increased beyond the one allowed for infantry based units. I hope this will recognize the mechanized nature of the faster moving units. One concession is that the vehicles cannot be issued the same order twice, and that the order the action counters are placed down next to the unit represents the order in which they must be played. The unit can however allow other units to take their actions between, allowing a level of interactivity with what else is happening on the battlefield.

During the play of the game, the main thoughts of the rules tonight fell upon how overwatch worked. During the game a single tank held up the German left flank with impunity; the only way of shifting this situation seemed the involvement of opposing armour. You might think this ably replicates infantry's lack of initiative in the face of armour, however it did seem to stifle the player's involvement and tactical options.

Our solution was not to change how the mechanics of overwatch worked, but rather how units 'fell off' this status. Currently units only lost this status if they received suppression or hits, which worked with infantry. When faced with impenetrable armour, with bristling machine guns, infantry seemed unable to bring their man portable anti tank weapons to bear. We solved the issue by stating that if an overwatch attack showed half or more blank dice faces, the unit lost it's overwatch status.

This created some interesting situations, where infantry sections manouvred to attract the attentions of a tank to lose it's overwatch status, thereby allowing infantry AT teams to move for a shot in relative safety. Also the ability to present the tank with multiple opportunities to fire at targets increased the chances of the tank losing it's status and therefore left the tank with several dilemmas. As such, a cat and mouse approach to activations opened up with this simple change to the rules.

The armour seemed to work quite well, but definitely needs playing some more; next week's game then!


Some prototype WWII data cards

In preparation for tonight's game, I've made some vehicle data cards with weapons info and special rules. Not tried the vehicle rules, so plenty of questions and modifications ahead. Let's hope my favourite tank, the Hetzer, performs well - one for Lemmy!


Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Tonight's rules bash

Tonight I wanted to put into place some of the decisions I had made over basing and unit overstacking. I had also revamped some of the factors for the machine guns. The game started as last week, with the German machine guns, placed on overwatch, totally punishing the American left flank. Suppressed units littered the ground, stalling any meaningful advances to contact.

A breakthrough occurred when the American mortars kicked in. They broke the backstop German HMG, which allowed a little more forward movement. Eventually the slight advantage of firepower of the American squads began to pay off. The first of three buildings occupied, with one about to be contested. Loses were fairly even with 4 units each destroyed or fled the field.

Next time, I want to introduce some armour; this will test the placement of machine guns. I'll also have to introduce anti armour elements.

On another note, I made some rough ground using a flock mat bought at Suday's railway show; pictures below...



Sunday, 14 February 2016

Consulting the tomes.

For designing the force distribution, support weapon allocations, and ability to withstand suppressions for my rules, I've re-visited on old, old friend. This was, and to a certain degree, still is, my favourite set of WWII tactical rules. From the very first scenario in Stalingrad, to the beaches of Tarawa, I love the story telling of this system. Every dice roll, movement, piece,of terrain had it's affect on the outcome. The only down side was the occasional, last turn, mad rush to achieve a victory within a scenario. However, this isn't just a problem with ASL.

So the abstraction has begun. I know this will not be accurate or balanced, but it is a starting place. I can use the ELR system to inform how much suppression a unit can take, and how to allocate support weapons; I have trimmed this ratio down so as to get a little more on the table. Here's a draft of some of my stats (and they're not finished yet by any means)



Trees for a tenner

From today's buys, the trees are finished and ready for the table, and what a bargain! I like these kind of trees, not for their mass affect, but rather as individual scatter across the battlefield. - adding to fences or gardens.

Not much more to say, but that you can see the wood for the trees in this case.

Here's how they were made on a brisk Sunday afternoon...



Going a little 'off track'

Recently I have been looking at getting suitable railway scenery to supplement the table. EBay has been kind, however I thought 'are there any railway shows nearby?' A quick search on the internet threw a lucky fish line into the water. A large show (50 plus traders), nearby (Doncaster) this weekend!

Both myself and Daz set off, not knowing what to quite expect; was it going to be all old guys with beards (we have our own wargaming stereotypes as you well know) or were we going to get something s little different? Well, we were very pleasantly surprised. Whilst there were many of the older generation attending, there were a fair amount of younger folks...and several, actively interested, ladies.

The show consisted of a broad range of railway suppliers in an open, airy venue (the Doncaster Racecourse). Customers were polite, something some of the wargaming public could take note from - people shared stall viewing space, with very few grazers who chatted in front of the products. Personally, it was a little disappointing on the building front, but there was some interesting supplies purchased instead.

I bought some items from Skytrex that I had never seen on their trade stand at wargames shows - baskets and crates of market produce: these will make very nice market materials for my fantasy town. A gentlemen demonstrated his 'flockbox' for us to see. The best of the day was a little company called 'Petite Properties'; they sold a range of buildings at differing scales which were very detailed when compared to the wargaming equivalent - at very reasonable prices. The gentleman was warm and welcoming without being overly sales conscious and his wife was one of the best representatives of sales at a trade show I have met. She shared freely her experiences of detailing and weathering buildings, and was more than happy to give some tips. The best tip was cheap eyeshadow, rather than expensive weathering powders, which the lady demonstrated on some printed wall patterned paper. What a pleasant experience where I actually came away feeling I had gained more than the pots of paint that I had purchased (which were excellent value too at two pounds a pot).

So now it's time to weather those strange looks as I rifle through the women's make-up stands in the local supermarket...


Thursday, 11 February 2016

Cracking 'stacking' for my WWII rules

Last night's game left me with some thinking to do about the interaction of stacking, facing and how both support and full sections could be represented - a lot to consider. I knew that my current basing convention was not going to work - doh!. Then it came to me; half the base sizes of full squads to accommodate support weapons. So, here's the blessed rebasing process with some basic troops first.

I really liked ASL's way of allocating a suitable ratio of support weapons for each nationality to add the appropriate flavour and wanted to reflect this on the table. In ASL each squad/section could use up to two support weapons each. Using a square grid allows a little geometric thinking to accommodate this...

As the next picture shows, the number of configurations and facings that can be made with this basing approach allows the player a lot of tactical options.

In terms of stacking, this basing approach naturally creates a maximum capacity that a grid can accommodate, which leaves the player to think about the tactical situation, rather than 'how do I recognize the density of figures in this space?'

The next problem of representing overcrowding came to me quickly. Previously I was having an attack affecting all units in a square at the same time. This started to unravel when a single section 'interacted' in a firefight with more than one unit in an attacked square. Then the solution came to me...add the potential for additional hits on the targeted unit; for me, this represents my black dice which has only 'hits' on their facings. Now an extra black dice is added to an attack for each extra infantry section, and a black dice for each pair of extra support sections.

Back to playtesting!