Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Cancon 2013

This weekend was the annual Cancon convention in Canberra - one of Australia's biggest wargames shows, if not the biggest.

I popped in on Saturday morning, and stayed for an hour.

That's not to say that there wasn't plenty to see or do - I just had things I wanted to do in Canberra that didn't involve spending the day in a huge convention hall with a thousand other wargamers.

First, the loot. There wasn't much I bought some paints. Our local games shop has been a bit slack on paints recently, but I got the colours I wanted at Cancon. At a bargain price in some cases. I also bought some RSPCA raffle tickets, because any group that brings kittens to a wargames show deserves my money.

There was a stall selling chilli sauce.

I looked around the participation games as well; there were some interesting things on show. One group was doing a beautiful looking Zulu War game, whilst another were running a micro-scale Stalingrad using piles of scratchbuilt buildings. I was pleased to recognise the Battle of Lissa being played by a group running 'Wooden Ships and Iron Men' (the Venetian flags were the clue).

I took pictures of a Boxer Rebellion game which bore a startling resemblance to the one put on by the Staines Wargamers some 20-30 years ago. Here they are:

There were lots of competition and tournament games going on. As none of them were HOTT I didn't pay them much attention, aside from a brief look at the DBMM tourney on the grounds that my dad had come over from the UK to play in it.

My abiding memory of Cancon is the smell of male sweat that assails your nostrils as you walk through the door. I have a lot of respect for those people who stuck three days of it.

Friday, 25 January 2013

My First Game Of Black Powder

I played Black Powder for the first time tonight and I have to say I enjoyed it. The game rattled along at a nice pace and was fairly easy to pick up, even if we did make a couple of mistakes with regard to skirmishers.

Ralph set up a Napoleonics scenario with a British rearguard on a ridge facing a couple of French brigades. Here the French are marching down the road towards Ralph, who was commanding the British:

The French swung into action, staying in march column until the last minute, but concentrating their force on a small portion of the British line. Owing to a commander blunder on the first turn our skirmishers charged their British counterparts. However this is what we were trying to order them to do anyway.

Interlude - Dave and John played HOTT, using John's Hoth armies (on a non-snow board):

In a fairly quick game the Empire were triumphant:

Meanwhile we also had a game of DBMM on the go, with Peter playing my dad, as my parents are currently visiting us from the UK so he can play at CanCon this weekend. This was a practice game of sorts:

Peter was using Romans of some kind:

My dad was using Early Japanese:

I don't know who won (forgot to ask), but here's Peter moving some troops:

Look! We almost look like a real wargames club!

Back to Black Powder. The French massed up their columns and pushed up the ridge into the British line, with heaps of success:

We did cock up our artillery deployment a bit, getting it wiped out by the British light cavalry. However our gallant infantry formed a line in front of them and blew them away in revenge. All the Maurice finally paid off ...

Lots of French against a thin red line which kept getting thinner:

The ridge was ours, and Ralph conceded:

It was great to play a game that rattled along at such a quick pace and which was relatively easy to remember. By halfway Caesar and I were pretty much resolving close combat without the sheet and had sussed out the intricacies of support (the key to our victory).

I shall get a copy of Black Powder now, and see what delights I can use it for. It might be interesting to use it for some of my South American games; the action we fought last night was of a similar size to most battles of the Wars of Liberation.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

A Quick Conversion

A couple of weeks ago I scratchbuilt some 1/600th BE2c biplanes. I even used them in a couple of games. But to be honest I wasn't that happy with the design; the BE2 has a very distinctive slender fuselage, and I wasn't really able to capture that with the pieces of balsa wood I was using.

So I made some new BE2cs, using matchsticks for the fuselage. I haven't shown you pictures of those yet. I will one day.

However I was left with the original models. Here they are:

What do do with them? Well, a quick check of Wikipedia gave me some comparison of dimensions. I cut some small pieces of wire, and glued them to the top wing:

Then some black paint turned them into guns, and the old, too-chunky, BE2s had become the similar sized, but bulkier, Martinside G100, a single-seat scout and day-bomber:

On the whole they look about right. And, combined with the new BE2s and my Tumbling Dice RE8s and F2Bs I now have the four aircraft types used by No 1 Squadron AFC in Egypt/Palestine. Just in time for Australia Day.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Mantic Dwarves

I finally started painting my Mantic Dwarves this afternoon, on the grounds that some of them are needed for a club project in a few weeks. I'm aiming for speed rather than style:

Friday, 18 January 2013

More Maurice

A short Gong Garage Gamers report this week. We played Maurice, and whilst we all remembered to bring the figures we were supposed to bring, everyone assumed that someone else was bringing a ground-cloth and terrain.

So we fought a battle on a bare (snowy, we'll call it) battlefield, in which the Duchy of Sans-Couleur faced an alliance of Riskovian, Tea State and Albion troops.

Here's the set-up:

We had a good plan, which I threw out of the window in order to exploit a short-term opportunity. From that point on we were doomed. I was also given command  of cavalry. Bad move. The red mist descended and I just charged what was in front of me. We soon no longer had any cavalry:

We conceded.

Note that I still haven't painted my figures. One day ...

Monday, 14 January 2013

Airco DH2

The Airco DH2 WW1 pusher scout is my favourite aircraft. I just love the look of it. So I very disappointed, when I decided to go down the 1/600th route for my WW1 aircraft wargames collection, to discover that Tumbling Dice (nor indeed, anyone as far as I could see) made one at that scale.

So I made my own.

And here it is:

Those are grains of rice for scale. It has a wingspan of roughly 15mm.

It's not as accurate as it could be, but as a wargames model it's perfect.

I have three more just waiting for their markings to be painted.

I don't plan to make any more ...

... although some FE2s are tempting :)

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Spandau and Lewis Changes

This post won't make much sense unless you've read the latest draft of 'Spandau and Lewis', but I thought it might be interesting to document the current changes I'm trying out for it. It's a bit of a waffly post, because it's really just me brain-dumping, but it shows some of my thought processes.


At present there aren't any spotting rules; all of the games we've played have started with all aircraft in contact. Spotting allows some aircraft to get the drop on the enemy.

It's simple enough. All aircraft start the game unaware of any enemy aircraft. At the end of each turn an aircraft or a formation can attempt to spot one enemy aircraft. Roll 2D6 and score 9+ to do so. Modify as follows:

+1 - Veteran Crew
-1 - Inexperienced Crew
+1 - If in formation of three or more aircraft (see below)
-1 - Target is lone aircraft (not in formation)
+2 - Range is up to 6"
+1 - Range is up to 12"
-1 - Range is over 18"

For a single-seater:

+1 if spotting into Nose Arc
-1 if spotting into Tail Arc

(I am working on different modifiers for other types of planes).

Formations - A formation is a group of two or more aircraft that have not yet spotted an enemy. Each aircraft in the formation must remain within 3" of at least one other aircraft in the formation at all times. When spotting only one aircraft in the formation rolls, but if it spots an enemy then all planes in the formation become aware.

If an aircraft or formation has not spotted an enemy aircraft then it moves at 3" per turn and each plane can make up to one 45 degree turn (you do not have to roll do do this however). Once an enemy aircraft is spotted then the plane or formation becomes aware of all enemy aircraft and can move normally.


Initiative will still be a single D6 roll per plane, but with a +1 for Veteran crew and -1 for Inexperienced. The Maximum score will be 6 and the minimum 1; this allows a dice to be placed next to each plane with their initiative score on it. Planes move in order of initiative from lowest to highest.

I am looking at swapping the tie-breaks so that the plane's agility is used first, then the crew's experience. In addition, some planes will have a '+' appended to their agility - so B+ instead of just B. They maneuver the same, but in the event of a tie-break against a plane with the same agility, a plane with a + moves after one without. So, for example, an SE5a has Agility B, whilst a Fokker DVII has Agility B+. If they both tie for initiative, the SE5a must moves first, as the Fokker has a 'better' agility. When a plane goes down an agility class because of damage it keeps the + (so agility C+ downgrades to agility D+). From looking at plane stats only A, B and C agility planes really need to be split up in this way.


As simple adjustment here; if the number of dice a plane gets for firing is equal to zero then they can roll one red dice, but it always needs a '6' to score a hit.

Hopefully the next time I update the rules I should have a more comprehensive list of aircraft stats as well; I have been slowly adding planes into a spreadsheet and have a good, varied collection.

And finally ... the obligatory photo. I'm questioning my own sanity because, at some point, I thought it would be a good idea to try and scratchbuild 1/600th scale DH2s. These still need the undercarriages putting on them, but they may work (the models are fragile, though - I will probably give them a good coat of watered-down PVA to hold them together before painting):

Those are 1cm squares on the board ...

Friday, 11 January 2013

The Scottish Play

Another golden-oldie from The Stronghold, reproduced by special request.

Is this a deep-fried Mars Bar which I see before me?
These lists are based on a throwaway comment in a 'Miniature Wargames' article on the army of Macbeth concerning the use of three witches as a 'fantasy' element. Inspired by this I thought that the story of Macbeth was worthy of a HOTT list or two, being folklore and all that.

I am hampered in my composition of this list by the fact that I am not entirely familiar with Shakespeare's play, having managed to studiously avoid him at school. It is based on a general awareness of the elements of the story, the fact that I saw a performance at the Leicester Haymarket some twenty years ago (Colin Baker played Macduff and it had buckets of blood) and some books and plays based on it. These include Terry Pratchett's 'Wyrd Sisters', a Thurber short story, a play in the 'Farndale Avenue' series and another play with the title 'Elsie and Norm's Macbeth'. You can see what level of research we are dealing with here. The 'normal' elements are based on the WRG Pre-Feudal Scottish army lists for DBA and DBM so are on more solid ground.


Macbeth accompanied by Lady Macbeth1 x Hero General @ 4AP4
Three Witches with Cauldron1 x Magician @ 4AP4
Murderers1 x Sneaker @ 3AP3
Thegns on foot2 x Warband @ 2AP4
Mounted Thegns1 x Riders @ 2AP2
Spearmen3 x Spears @ 2AP6
Lesser Foot1 x Horde @ 1AP1
Stronghold: A Castle (Dunsinane)


Macduff1 x Hero General @ 4AP4
Banquo's Ghost1 x Sneaker @ 3AP3
Burnham Wood1 x Lurker @ 1AP1
Thegns on foot2 x Warband @ 2AP2
Spearmen3 x Spears @ 2AP6
Cavalry1 x Rider @ 2AP2
Norwegian Allies2 x Blades @ 2AP4
Stronghold: A Castle or the Remains of Birnham Wood

A game of HOTT is about to be rudely interrupted

Thursday, 10 January 2013

The Blue Max

That's what Geoff won tonight. And very well-deserved it was too.

We had a good turnout at the Gong Garage Gamers tonight, with a five or so people playing Flames of War, whilst Geoff and I played Spandau and Lewis. We played a version of the same Fokker EIII/BE2 game I played the other day, but with only two Fokkers instead of three. Geoff played the Germans whilst I took the doomed RFC.

In the original game I just made all pilots experienced, but for this game we rolled. Luck wasn't with me - on a one in three chance per plane, all four of my crews ended up as inexperienced. Geoff rolled one experienced pilot and one inexperienced. With none of the planes very maneuverable, this was going to be a tricky game.

We used some experimental spotting rules, and an adjustment to initiative - low rolls went first and dice placed next to each plane to show their roll.

I forgot my phone, so there are no photos of what happened next.

Geoff spotted my formation quickly, and moved into the attack. His novice pilot had some way to go, so it was his more experienced one who struck first, detaching one BE2 from the formation. In three turns he brought it down, its engine on fire. Both Fokkers now pursued the other three British planes, catching them as they turned over the objective. More firing saw two of them damaged, but their attempts to dodge saw Geoff's experienced pilot unable to hold position on an individual plane for long enough to shoot it down. The novice Fokker spent most of his time trying to steer his plane to where the fight was.

The British were now flying for home, in a tight, mutually supporting, formation. Geoff's experienced pilot was low on ammunition, whilst the novice was stuck at long range where his fire was basically ineffective.

One last attack damaged a couple of British planes badly, before the experienced pilot's last burst downed a second plane, its wings coming off. The novice pilot couldn't turn in time to chase down the two RFC survivors, so we called an end on the game.

The RFC had inflicted a couple of minor hits on one Fokker, whilst losing two of their four planes. One Fokker had scored two kills, whilst the other had pretty much watched from the sidelines.

All in all, a decisive German victory.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Return To The Battle Of Pook's Hill

Bob Cordery has published a draft set of Portable Wargame for ancients, despite not being a fan of the period. He gave it an initial test using figures from Lord of the Rings Risk - The Battle of Pook's Hill. Since his choice (such that it was) of figures pushed the battle into the realms of fantasy, it seemed obvious to me that it should have been run as a HOTT game instead (my choice of rules anyway when I want to scratch my ancients itch).

So here are HOTT lists for Bob's ancient/medieval imagi-nations.

The battle itself is obviously (intentionally or otherwise) a refight of Hastings. And here it is, in a photo thieved from Bob's blog:

The King of Redia

The army is just a load of spear-armed infantry.

1 x Spear General (The King of redia and bodyguard)
11 x Spears
Stronghold: A portable village (for a portable wargame)


The Duke Of Yellovia

This army is an equal mix of heavy cavalry, light cavalry, spearmen and archers. So, easy enough to do in HOTT. Assuming that the battle is based on Hastings I have assumed that the Duke is with the heavy cavalry.

1 x Knight General (The Duke and his cronies)
2 x Knights (Men at arms)
3 x Riders (Light cavalry)
3 x Spears (Foot soldiers)
3 x Shooters (Archers)
Stronghold: A portable castle.

So, there we go. In this case I have to say why Portable Wargame when you have HOTT? :)

Monday, 7 January 2013

Fokker Fodder

Well, there's no point in making some model planes if I don't try them out, so I set up a game of 'Spandau and Lewis' this evening. I could gave finished painting the bombers but, hey, I spent all weekend painting and modelling; it was time to get some dice out.

Some of the painting and modelling can be seen HERE and HERE.

The scenario was simple. A flight of four BE2s were on a mission. They had to fly down the table to a particular point, turn around, and come back. Three individual Fokker EIIIs were placed at random points on the table edge. They were competing to shoot down the most BE2s - I reasoned that the BE2s scored a moral victory if any survived or if they shot down a Fokker.

The stats for the planes are:

BE2C - Speed 4, Maneuver D, Hits 5, 1 Gun in Tail Arc

Fokker EIII - Speed 5, Maneuver C, Hits 5, 1 Gun in Nose Arc

As you can see, the BE2s are at a real disadvantage - they are slower, less agile, and have to let the Fokkers get behind them before they can shoot at them.

I experimented with some rule changes. One was a couple of slight changes to how initiative is worked out - one making it more intuitive (lower numbers go first) and the other adding a finer gradation of maneuver types by changing the way tie-breaks are handled (which I'll write up after more testing). The other change was a very experimental system for spotting, which still needs some work.

With the spotting rules in play, no aircraft was aware of the others. To this end they were forced to fly at a fixed speed of 3 with no more than a single 45 degree turn. The BE2s flew and spotted in a formation. The Fokkers had to each spot the British planes. Once an enemy was spotted the plane, or planes, moved normally.

The BE2s plodded slowly down the table, whilst the Fokkers cruised in a menacing way. One of them soon spotted the British formation, and moved swiftly along its flank to get behind it. Just as it was turning into position the British spotted one of the other Fokkers, and the game was on!

A Fokker swept in on the British formation:

It stuck to its target as the BE2s milled about in panic, and quickly downed it. All those rear-firing guns left a few bullet-holes though.

A second Fokker had isolated one of the BE2s, and was doggedly pursuing it. It was soon down to its last hit, but poor die-rolling meant that the Fokker couldn't finish it off.

Meanwhile the third Fokker had still not spotted the British, and was still cruising around looking for the fight:

Back to the chase. The BE2 briefly evaded the Fokker, but it had neither the speed or agility to do it for long. A single, short-range, burst finished it off. The chase had drawn the Fokker well away from the main fight, though, and it took no further part in the game.

Meanwhile the two surviving BE2s had completed the mission and were heading for home. The cruising Fokker had finally spotted them, and the British found themselves under attack from both sides.

 The third Fokker fired its first shot of the game, instantly killing the pilot of a BE2. All three Fokkers had a kill now. Who would get the last BE2?

The chase was on. The BE2 took a couple of hits, one of which killed the observer. With no way of fighting back it really was a race to see if it could reach the board edge before it was downed.

With no gun, and just one hit left, it made it.

So the game ended with one badly damaged BE2 getting home, and three Fokker pilots each with a kill. Welcome to France, 1916 ...

I need to work on the spotting rules, but the basics are there. The new initiative changes worked well, though, making for a smoother game. However it will take a few more games to check the maneuver gradation part of it.

This is my 200th blog post!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

The Fokker Scourge

I did some more work on my scratchbuilt 1/600th WW1 aircraft today. I have now painted the Fokker EIIIs (having assembled them after taking the pictures I posted yesterday), and have nearly finished the BE2s - just the roundels to do.

Here's the Fokkers. The Be2s are in the background:

Those are centimetre squares on the cutting board; the EIIIs are about 15mm long. I need to texture and paint the bases, of course.

In addition I painted the camouflage pattern on my Friedrichschafen bombers:

Took me about 20 minutes, once I'd worked out the pattern.  Theses bombers, and the Handley-Pages, will be the next thing I finish off I think.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

A Fiddly Job

It's the hottest day of Summer so far (I reckon) so what am I doing? I'm indoors trying to scratchbuild 1/600th scale WW1 biplanes. It's a fiddly job ...

Of course, if Tumbling Dice - or someone - produced early war aircraft in 1/600th I wouldn't have to do this. But until then, I shall be fiddling with card and balsa until I find an easy way to make what I want.

The four semi-completed planes are supposed to be BE2s, but I'm not sure yet how I'm going to do the distinctive tail-planes. The pieces to the side are the beginnings of a trio of Fokker Eindekkers.

I also assembled my Tumbling Dice 1/600th WW1 bombers - the three Fredirichschafen GIIIs and two Handley-Page 0/400s. Here's one of each so you can get an idea of the size of them:

Update: Finished the BE2s. They're far from perfect, but I can probably hide some of the shortcomings when I paint them:

Friday, 4 January 2013

Australians Over The Trenches

Last night the Gong Garage Gamers played 'Spandau and Lewis', my WW1 air rules. We used John's 1/300th models.

John came up with a secnario based on an actual action on 17th December 1917 in which a lone Australian Flying Corps RE8 spotting for an artillery battery was attacked by a formation of German scouts. They fought alone for a while, before being reinforced by another RE8, then a second. The Germans were driven off, but the crew of the original AFC plane were dead, their plane continuing to fly in circles afterwards.

You can read an account of the action on Page 203 of this link.

In our game a lone RE8 had to fly the length of the table, under attack by three Albatros DIIIs. Both sides got random reinforcements - the Germans a couple of Fokker DR1s (because John ran out of DIII models) and the Australians a couple of lone RE8s.

The lone Australian RE8 - Geoff looks somewhat stricken beyond it:

The Germans prowl about menacingly:

The first attack. Caesar's DIII put bullet-holes in my RE8, and my observer failed to do anything back:

The German attacks intensify, but Caesar failed to swing onto the RE8s tail, and received more ineffective fire from the observer:

A second RE8 appears:

The Germans pursue the RE8, neither side doing much damage to the other:

Caesar finally edges his Albatros into a rear-shot position, only for his guns to jam:

And the RE8 manages to get a shot at a rookie Albatros pilot. It misses:

Here comes the Triplane!:

Caesar got his guns back in action, only to roll a complete set of misses. Needing to roll a 4 or better on each dice for a hit, he rolled, over two turns, eight dice and failed to score higher than a 3 on any of them ...

The end - Caesar finally inflicts a hit, killing the observer on the RE8, but not before the observer finally manages to get a telling hit on the pursuing German. However Geoff's triplane rakes the RE8 with bullets, and it crashes. End of game.

To be honest I was amazed that the RE8 lasted as long as it did. Really it was only Caesar's appallingly unlucky dice rolling that kept it alive. Saying that, my observer fired off most of his ammo for very little return in the way of hits, so the Germans should have taken more damage too.
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