Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Add Terrain Boards and Garnish

Following on from my previous posts regarding the buildings, I thought it might be nice to take a few shots of them in situ, with gardens, trees and a few figures added. Hopefully it gives  better impression of what a completed village will look like on the table.

As I mentioned before, the gardens and garden modules linking two or more buildings can be made quite easily and enable the same buildings to be used to create very different looking villages. The trees are on smaller than usual bases, to allow them to be "slotted in" close to the buildings; my usual bases are considerably larger (for stability). The addition of greenery, whether trees or hedges, really brings the buildings to life and makes the village look "lived in".

Friday, 8 September 2017

Even Heavier Metal!!

My usual preference when fighting with a late war German army, is a rag bag of infantry, flak and the odd AFV in an improvised Kampfgruppe, trying to hold off the Soviet/British/US onslaught. I just like the idea of making the most I can out of not a lot, hopefully with the assistance of some helpful terrain and a few good die rolls. So King Tigers are not usually my style. That being said, they can be damned useful. These two are from the Ready to Roll range, part of the Rapid Fire empire (or smallholding?). My only gripe is that there are no open hatches for crew figures, but they are simplicity itself to assemble, as their name suggests.

They are pictured here nosing their way through a German village to head off yet another Soviet breakthrough, supported by a few Britannia infantry.

I am currently working on a set of WWII rules, cobbled together from bits I like from other sets and a few ideas of my own. They will be card driven to inject a bit of excitement and mystery into the lives of my wargaming friends. I hope to report on them and provide some after action reports on the blog in the not too distant future.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Heavy Metal

I have managed to paint enough German infantry to put on a game and thought it was about time that they got a bit of armoured support. First up, a couple of Wehrmacht work horses, the Panzer IV and STUG III. Even in 1945, they could still do a good job defending the Fatherland. Both are from the very impressive Plastic Soldier Company range. At around a fiver apiece, you really can't beat them. Not only are the models themselves very nicely done, they tend to come with all sorts of added extras in the form of crew figures and stowage. They really benefit from the use of an air brush, particularly for the German 3 colour camo scheme.

These models, two armed with the long 75mm and one with the 105mm have been liberally decked out with stowage, some from the PSC stowage box, some from elsewhere. Real campaign models. The Panzer IVs are a bit more clean cut - I don't know why but they don't seem to suit the "cluttered look". As you may have noticed, none of them are sporting any markings. Partly this is because many late war German vehicles tended to eschew such things, but also that I haven't found a way of applying the transfers in such a way that doesn't make them look too obvious. Work to do there! I will almost certainly add crosses at the very least to most of my vehicles in due course.

I have over 50 more vehicles in various stages of completion, but they do take a fair amount of time to do, particularly the weathering. Watch this space.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Late War Buildings 5

My initial objective was to get enough smaller houses done to make up a couple of villages. Having done that and bought enough extras to make a couple more at a later date, I thought I would try something a little larger. These projects tend to be driven by what I can pick up on EBAY and this factory was too good to pass up. Again I got it for just a few pounds, in its original white brick and grey roof condition. I just re-painted it and put it on a base.

Here it is, front and rear views. As with the houses, I wanted the option of a larger footprint so I added a small area to the rear - just a shed, a flower bed and perimeter fence.

Add the two together and a very serviceable built up industrial area is achieved.

I have a couple more models waiting to be completed - a hotel and a brewery if memory serves. I have also been picking a few more complex two and three storey buildings for my biggest project - a German town. I have around half a dozen suitable buildings already, but will need as many again to achieve the right look. I also have a couple of churches to complete, so plenty to do. I am currently cobbling together a set of WW2 rules, using bits "lifted" from other sets and a few ideas of my own. They will also be card-driven, to try and inject a bit of uncertainty and movement into my games. Having used Rapid Fire! ever since they were published, I am looking for something with a little more detail, but not complexity. At the moment, they are just scribblings on scraps of paper, but I think they might work.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Late War Buildings 4

The first of the buildings used has already featured in previous posts, the simple German cottage.

To which is added a small garden, with tree. Adding greenery of any kind, but especially trees, really brings these modules to life.

The next building is altogether grander, a really nice house, also via EBAY. A garden has been added to the side of this house. Notice how the cobbles leading from the steps continue into the garden. These little details really do make the difference.

And finally, the linking annex, which turns these two individual structures into a small war gaming street. Here seen from the rear.

And from the front with the Volksturm moving forward in its defence.

None of this is rocket science, just a bit of patience and imagination. Going forward I hope to be able to expand on this concept with other modules, including industrial and particularly "town" rather than "village" styles.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Late War Buildings 3

This building is a slightly larger two storey structure, with a more interesting roof and dormer arrangement. Again this kit, which I bought ready made, was cheap enough. Usually they need a bit of cleaning up, as most of them have been part of a static railway layout in the past, but it isn't normally much of an issue.

Again, the garden to the rear is a separate item, which can be seen better close up. The figures around it are from my Volksturm battalion. The fencing is of the simple railway modelling type, painted and weathered.

Texture the base, add some grass with a few tufts or plants and job done. Next up will be a post showing how a couple of different buildings can be linked together.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Late War Buildings 2

In this post, I would like to show  how a few different annexes and a bit of extra detailing can make the same basic model look a bit more interesting.

I bought four of these for about 20 quid on EBAY. It is a nice, but fairly basic "German style" cottage seen from front and back. Nice enough, but pretty boring en masse. The first thing I did was to add some extra timber work to a couple of them. Just styrene strip, but effective at this scale.

Here are the two side by side. Just the timber work and a different roof colour, but it makes a difference.

Here on the right is another cottage with timbering added plus a small extension made from plastic sheet and styrene strip. Not a huge difference, but again enough to give that extra bit of something. As well as varying the buildings themselves, you can alter the appearance and add a fair bit of  visual impact with different garden annexes. Here are a few that I have already made, but I am sure I will make more in the future as it is such a cost effective way of ringing the changes when making up a village/town layout.

There really is no end to the variety you can work into your basic building modules. Another option I would like to explore, when I can find the time, is annexes linking 2 or more modules together to make different looking streets using the same basic buildings.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Late War Buildings 1

One of my main wargaming interests is World War 2, especially the later 1944-5 period. Whilst perusing EBAY (as you do), I came across a few plastic railway modelling buildings going cheap and, on an impulse decided to buy them. Within a couple of weeks I had purchased a load more - around £200.00 worth!! My initial attempts at painting them led to disappointment. Using my usual dry brush methods just didn't seem to work on plastic and I started to think that I had wasted my money. Fortunately, I had just bought an airbrush to try and get a decent finish on my WW2 vehicles and decided to try it out on the buildings. Over my usual base coat of Chocolate Brown, I over-sprayed 3 extra and progressively lighter layers and was pretty pleased with the result. The advantage with the air brush is that each application is so fine that the detail isn't obscured and the smooth surface of the plastic really benefits from this method. After that it was just a question of adding the weathering and detail.

In order to get the maximum possible variety, whilst saving on space, I decided to model the buildings and any extensions (gardens usually), separately. Terrain takes up a fair bit of space, buildings not least and a fixed module is what it is once finished. This way, I can design a variety of "add ons" which take a fraction of the time to do, but make a building look different every time. Because they are very light, they can also be stacked on top of each other, which greatly helps storage. The module illustrated can either be a simple stand alone house, or, if I want more detail and a larger footprint on the table, I can add the garden.

Railway modelling buildings really do have a great deal to recommend them: they are light, detailed and can usually be picked up, ready assembled, for a decent price. The fact that many of them are manufactured by German companies also helps, as they often depict German buildings - particularly suitable for my interest in fighting late war battles.

Over the coming weeks and months, I will try and post more of them on the blog. I look forward to hearing what you think of them.

Friday, 14 July 2017


After several years of slowly building up and then re-vamping this collection, currently my largest, I finally got the figures on the table last week. The game, a playtest of the Grimsby Club's "Corporal John and the Sun King" Marlburian rules, with some additions and amendments by yours truly, was fought out between old wargaming mate Dave Green and myself. Overall, it played pretty well, with only a couple of minor tweaks needed. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the rules are pretty old school - lots of dice throwing, simple and fun. I was a bit concerned that they might move a little too slowly, but in the event, we got a clear result in about 4 hours of actual play. Considering that Dave had 20 units plus guns to command (some 500 figures) and didn't know the rules, I thought that was none too bad.

One of the changes I did introduce, was to import a card-driven move system to try and bring a little uncertainty to the proceedings and that part worked a treat. Basically Dave and I had three infantry brigades and 3 cavalry brigades each. These brigades were each represented by a card. In addition each side had, what I have termed a "command card" and finally there were two "tea break" cards. The deck is shuffled each move and the cards drawn in sequence. If a brigade card is drawn, eg: Blue 4, that brigade is moved by the owning player. When BOTH tea break cards are drawn, that ends the movement phase, unless you have a command card, in which case, one brigade that has not yet moved may do so. Some moves all brigades on both sides managed to activate, on other moves, crucial units were unable to get going; this had quite serious consequences for me, when all three of my cavalry brigades failed to move at the same time.

The Dutch Guards and Murray's Scots, deployed in front of the village and were exposed to the full force of the French attack - no less than eight battalions! Both held on until over 50% casualties were taken, but were finally broken.  Orkney's and North and Grey's English regiments on the extreme right flank also had a tough fight and were just about holding on at the end.

In the distance, the massed ranks of allied horse - seven regiments. In the end, this turned out to be my Achilles Heel!

And this is why. Eight regiments of French horse which in a series of devastating melees utterly routed my cavalry. One regiment, the Bavarian Arco cuirassiers, seemingly left their swords sheathed in a collective act of Gandhi-like non-violence! Here are the miscreants walking the walk, supported by the Dutch Blue Guards, but failing to fight the fight.

Here are a few shots to illustrate the unfolding drama/disaster:

And the final endgame - sauve qui peut!!

Only a single regiment of English horse remained intact. Unfortunately the pursuing mass of French did not, as I had hoped, pursue my men off the table. Instead they rallied, wheeled and overwhelmed my last remaining troopers. Nothing remained but to retire from the field.

Here are a few shots of the infantry battle, which was hard-fought and bloody. Although the village remained in my hands, it became untenable after the total collapse of my left flank.

All in all, not a grand day for the Grand Alliance. Murray's regiment in particular fought well and died hard, but all for nothing. The Bavarians are on notice that a repeat of this performance will result in a one-way EBAY entry!

Nevertheless, a good game, which played quickly and entertainingly. The rules are undeniably enjoyable and the addition of the cards adds a much-needed touch of uncertainty. I look forward to the next one.