Air War Germany 1944 – Session 2

We played out our second session of the campaign in April 2019 and as we have our third session at Next Saturday’s meeting it was high time to write it up!

The British were approaching their target and had been benefited by fog that had hampered the take-off of nightfighters from 1.Jagddivision, but the British umpire now played a weather change card as the main raid neared its target, which luckily cleared the ground in just the right area and replaced it with heavy cloud cover for the attacking bombers!

Me 110G-4s scramble – planes used in the campaign are all 1/600 Tumbling Dice with Dom’s Decals, from the Umpire’s collection

The first action resulted from a straggler interception of the main raid by the commander of 2.Jagddivision, Steve, which allowed him to vector in the Me110G-4s of III.NJG3 as the raid passed Rostock in a ‘Tame Boar’ attack.  In this type of attack each nightfighter followed the bomber stream using on-board radar to detect and close on targets.  The targets proved hard to find, but Dave detected and successfully shot down 1 straggling Lancaster, K for King.

Another night-fighter unit from 1.Jagddivision, commanded by Dave, now made the first successful infiltration of the main bomber stream.  The attacking unit was 2.NJG5, also equipped with Me110-G-4s, but it’s impact was reduced by having been scattered on take-off in foggy weather.  Not only did it fail to inflict any damage but one of the attacking fighters piloted by Andy was shot down by defensive fire when if homed in on it’s target, B for Baker.

ME 109G-6s scramble

The raid move on and the target was now revealed as the raid stream turned south and began bombing its target, Berlin.  Dave was able to vector in the Me109G-6s of 1.JG302 to attack the the head of the bomber stream as it passed over the target in a ‘Wild Boar’ attack, closely followed by the Me110F-4s and G-4s of 3.NJG5, which were directed in from the radar beacon north-west of Berlin where they had been orbiting.  This type of attack was made by visually intercepting bombers lit up by searchlights.  The cloud cover reduced the searchlight effect, but bombers could still be attacked against the illuminated clouds.  The defending fighters had to take their chances with defending flak fire.

The first attack by the Me-109s resulted in heavy losses for the attackers.  Steve made a spectacular high score, shooting down four attacking Lancasters – G for George, F for Fox, M for Mike and P for Peter.  Dave added to his score with two more bombers, D for Dog and J for Jig.  John L opened his score with E2 for Easy Squared.  Chairman John pursued another bomber, J2 for Jig Squared, but only managed to damage her before she exited the illuminated zone.  The British scored back as Andy homed in on D2 for Dog Squared, damaging the bomber with his first burst, only to be damaged in turn and driven off by defensive fire from the bombers gunners.

The air picture around Berlin at the end of the second session, with the position of the bomber stream in the previous move shown as a tracked target

The resolution of the attack by 3.NJG5 was postponed until the next session, as time was up for the day….

At the end of session 2 the points scored were as follows:

Dave (1JD)                        +6             +3 for Lancasters shot down, +1 for Tame Boar attack, +2 for Wild Boar attacks

Steve (2JD)                       +5            +4 for Lancasters shot down, +1 for Tame Boar attack

John L (7JD)                      +1             +1 for Lancaster shot down

Chairman John (3JD)    +0.5       +.5 for Lancaster damaged

Andy (4JD)                         -2.5      +.5 for Lancaster damaged, -2 for Me110 shot down, -1 for Me109 damaged

That leaves the individual League table so far as follows (with 2JD the leading team so far with 8 points):

Dave (1JD)                        +6         2 sessions played

Steve (2JD)                       +5         1 session played

Mike (2JD)                       +3           1 session played

Chairman John (3JD)  +2.5        2 sessions played

John L (7JD)                      +1           1 session played

Chris (7JD)                       -1.5           1 session played

Bob (4JD)                          -2             1 session played

Andy (4JD)                        -2.5       1 session played

The Battle Of Antietam

Stephen takes on the Union in this historical refight.

At a recent meeting we had an American Civil War game – the Battle of Antietam!

Being such a large battle, and the bloodiest in American history, we didn’t do the whole battle. Instead we focused on the action at the end of the day – the Union grab for Sharpsburg.

Our game took place after the battle for Burnside bridge. We set up the brigades as they were after the Confederates had been pushed back and Burnside’s corps advanced toward Sharpsburg.

Taking the Union were Jon Roche (Corps command plus Wilcox and Sturgis’ divisions) and Paul French (with Rodman and Scannon’s divisions). In control of the Confederates were Jeremey Claridge (Jones’ division) and Stephen Tucker (Hill’s division). There was no overall Confederate commander, with the two Confederate divisions (which were much larger than the Union divisions) acting independently.

The Union side also had a large artillery park with three batteries which were under Army command, so couldn’t be moved but would shoot at targets that came in range.

The Union objective was to get a brigade in Sharpsburg, the Confederate objective was to stop them!

Initially, Hill’s division was not deployed – his brigades were busily marching up the road from Harper’s Ferry to bolster the Confederate line. So at the outset the Union outnumber the Confederates. As such, the Union made an advance on the Confederate line. Not so on the southern edge – Scannon’s division was a bit tardy in its approach. Meanwhile, John deployed his artillery in a field, near to the Army artillery park, which would provide a powerful incentive for the Confederates not to counter-attack on that side.

Hill’s division came on, but was hampered in its deployment due to cramped conditions – it was proving hard to fit the brigades and artillery where they were needed.

Eventually the two sides came to blows – Jones’ division to the north around Cemetery Hill facing off against Wilcox and Sturgis, and Rodman (waiting Scannon’s arrival) to the south coming over Centre Hill.

The early part of the battle was going slightly in favour of the Confederates. The artillery to the north was making it hard to take the battle to the Union, so Jones’ brigades and artillery dug-in and pushed back the Union attacks.

On Centre Hill, Rodman came over the top, took a round of musketry, and then pulled back! Much to everyone’s amazement (not, least Burnside’s!). Paul did try to explain this (ahem) ‘cautious’ move.

But maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea after all. Because emboldened by this withdrawal, Hill advanced his brigades over Centre Hill and took the battle to the Union with a wild rebel yell. And paid the price for charging the guns.

Equally emboldened, Jones advanced Drayton’s brigade against the Union brigades and artillery to the north. After a round of pummelling from Union Corps and Army artillery they soon regretted it and hobbled back all but destroyed.

In the end our game had a very historical outcome – the battle just fizzled out. The Union didn’t have it in them to continue the push to Sharpsburg and the Confederates didn’t have it in them to counter attack. Like the actual battle itself, it was a no-score draw – both sides had taken so many casualties neither could carry the day.

My thanks to Jeremey and Andy for taking some pictures.

Dearly Beloved

For our sins, Stephen builds a chapel.

At MHWC’s Broadside show in June I was glad (and surprised!) to see that Scotia/Grendel would be there.

What I bought off them was a resin ruined chapel, which would make a great piece of terrain for medieval games.

I cleaned up the pieces, cut some ply for the base, and glued the pieces together on the day after buying it. It then sat on the shelf for a few weeks. But last Sunday I finally got around to slapping some paint on it.

Before painting I thought I’d make a bit more of it. The first thing to do was create a tiled floor. I made the tiles out of thick plasticard. I chamfered the edges roughly and then scratched and gouged the surface to make them look worn and damaged. I then needed some more rubble. I made this from a mixture of sand and dried plaster broken up into bits. Though you can buy some rubble scatter mixes.

Once this was all dry I gave it a spray of dark khaki. This was then washed with my favourite all-purpose brown wash: GW’s Agrax Earhshade. I decided I wanted it to look like it was made from sandstone, so it was drybrushed with a khaki-heavy mix of khaki and grey.

An important thing to realise about medieval churches is that they were very colourful places. It was only with the advent of the Reformation and Protestantism that church wall paintings were considered idolatrous and were chiseled off or painted over. So I scoured the internet for pictures of surviving painted medieval church walls and then printed them off.

These were then glued to the walls. To make them look like they belong there and look a bit damaged and eroded by time and weather I splotched (that’s the best way I can describe it) the edges of the pictures to make it look like they belong on the walls and blend in.

Some staining and damp was added with a very dry brush using dark green and brown.

The model was then based with some mixed ballast and static grass.

The result is a ruined chapel worth fighting over!

From The Halls Of Montezuma

Stephen goes all John Wayne on us.

I’ve toyed with the idea of doing some WW2 games for a while but never really knew what I wanted to do. I had a false start with Flames Of War some time ago but I found the rules so dire that it soon fell by the wayside.

But then a recent issue of Wargames Illustrated had some plastic 28mm US infantry as a freebie. I bought an issue, put them together and then slapped some paint on them. I enjoyed it so much that I decided that 28mm WW2 was the way I was going to go. I also decided that I would focus on small-scale infantry actions rather than huge set-piece battles – Chain Of Command has been played at the club and it seemed like the scale of game I was interested in.

I then bought another copy of WI so I could get some more. Realising this could be an expensive way to go about it I then asked if anyone at the club had an unwanted sprue from the magazine. Phil and Marcus both stepped up (cheers, chaps).

When it came to painting them I made a snap decision.

I was going to paint them in standard European theatre colours and do late war games. Then I thought about the scenery. Woods, roads, hills, etc would be no problem – I have plenty already. It was the houses though, that made me pause. I wanted to do this on the cheap because WW2 would never be a ‘main’ period for me, so it had to pay its way in terms of money and storage space. Piles of European houses, that would not be used for anything else I do, would take a lot of space and money.

So I suddenly thought, ‘Pacific war!’

Trees, trees, and more trees.

I know there’ll be some out there who will object and say the figures aren’t wearing Marine issue equipment. Quite frankly, I couldn’t give a monkey’s. Once painted, especially in that duck-hunter camouflage the Marines wore, I reckoned no one would be able to tell.

So I went for it.

They were given an all-over spray of khaki. Flesh and weapons were given a base-coat of a chocolate brown colour. I then washed all webbing and weapons with GW’s agrax earthshade. I use VMJ medium flesh for…er…flesh. The wooden bits on the guns were picked out with GW’s Bestial Brown (or whatever they now call it). The webbing was given a base-coat made from a mix of khaki and mid green, and a bit of white was added for highlights.

For the uniforms I decided to mix it up a bit to create a rag-tag look. Some would be in green, some in duck-hunter, some in a mix of the two. For the green just choose your favourite olive drab colour. For the camouflage the base colour was a 50/50 mix of khaki and white. And then blobs of chocolate brown and mid-green were randomly dotted all over.

The sprues themselves give a good mix of poses. I managed to get a good variety, even better with a slight bit of chopping up. I’ve given each squad a sergeant (armed with a Thompson), two BARs, and nine M1-armed infantry.

I also scratch-built a flamethrower using bits from the sprue.

The motivation is still there so I’m making head-way in painting these whilst I can. I will need a few more to complete a platoon. And I will also have to get some Japanese. So an order to Warlord will be made later in the year.

By the time it’s all done and ready it will likely be 2020, so for next year some WW2 games will be in the offing.

The Second Battle of Linton

Chairman John puts some flesh on the bones of his Open Day game.

After the Royalist forces of King Charles won a great victory at the 1st Battle of Linton under the command of Lord John, the Parliamentarians are looking to recover lost ground by forcing a 2nd battle on the hallowed Linton ground. Putting their faith in a new commander, Earl Campbell, they boldly advance into battle hoping for a decisive victory.

Intruder Alert!


In November 1980 a now forgotten conflict started. Now you can re-fight that conflict at the Open Day. Jeremey will be taking on all comers, with this hard uncompromising game. Many show games are made in favour of the player, not this one. Expect to face humiliation as you try and get a high score against the relentless robots or Evil Otto himself. Can you clock up the highest score to be crowned Berserk champion?

Open Day 2019: The Tower Of Ballicroney

More Open Day updates from Stephen as he wows us with the size of his tower

I’ve been lucky for this year’s Open Day – I more or less had everything I needed for the game.

There’s been just a few jobs that needed doing – some Norse Gael axemen and an Irish round tower.

The game will be set in the early 12th century with the Normans raiding an Irish religious community. A key feature of early Irish monastic sites were the needle like round towers. These were built as safe places during earlier centuries when Viking raiders made their way around the Irish Sea. A few were also built in Scotland, mainly by the Irish settlers.

Entrance to the tower was on the second floor via a ladder. The ground floor was often solid stone to resist being battered down.

I made a few concessions with my model. It is to scale height and the ground diameter is also to scale. The actual towers converge which mine doesn’t. This is because of what I used to make the tower – three empty (Christmas) tubs of cheeselets. So it had to have parallel sides.

I also decided to use more elaborate windows. During the period when the towers were constructed the windows were just plain openings. I went with a Gothic window frame, which is out of period. I did this to make it more interesting to look at, so it can be used for other periods, and maybe fantasy games as well. I also went with a tiled roof rather than a stone roof. This was done to create a different surface texture and colour again, to keep the model interesting.

The windows were spare castings I had from a previous project.

The tubs were glued together using internal tabs. I then chose to hide the external joint using pieces of card to look like bricks – it makes it look like a decorative feature.

Individual bricks were made using heavy duty water-colour paper. This is ideal because it has a textured surface. These were stuck in groups and clumps all over the outside.

The tiles on the roof were made using the same card.

The ladder is made from styrene sprue.

The entire model was given a spray with a dark khaki colour. This was then washed using GW’s Agrax Earthshade. It was then dry-brushed using a mix of khaki and light grey, with a bit of white added for subsequent highlights. To create damp patches and mould I used both a brown and a dark green, paying attention to windows and doors (where people are likely to throw things out of) or around the base, where the damp could be.

All that was left to do was decorate the base with odds and ends.

This Means War

Stephen answers the challenge of Andy and Jeremey … the one could run and run!

The war banners are flying and the trumpets call a clarion to arms!

Owain of Bangor, famed warrior of the Welsh hills, declares war on the English.

Friends and allies are requested to take the fight to Andraes Willhelmson and Erik Uhtredson.

These knaves are nothing but thieves and robbers and deserve the fury of the Lord.

All those who would oppose such skullduggery should make themselves known at the cathedral of Bangor.

The Flying Musketeers

Tony F goes aerial with his planned Open Day game.

Operation Musketeer was the codename given to the joint British and French plan to occupy the Suez Canal zone in 1956. The conflict also involved Israel which invaded the Sinai peninsula, forming part of the second Arab-Israeli war.

MiG-17s overfly a coastal town.

My game looks at the conflict in the air. It was one of the last air wars to be fought entirely with guns, before the advent of the missile age. It also involved a wide range of aircraft, from WW2-era prop planes such as the Mustang and Mosquito used by the IAF, to the latest jet fighters. Egyptian pilots flew the MiG-15 and MiG-17, the RAF deployed Hunters, Venoms and Vampires, and even deployed the first of the nuclear capable V-Bombers,the Valiant, along with the smaller Canberra, from bases in Cyprus and Malta. Not a great deal of air-to-air combat occurred during the conflict but as wargamers we never let the truth get in the way of a good game, so rest assured there will be plenty of chances to dogfight with the enemy.

RAF Canberra Bombers

The 1/600th models are all from Tumbling Dice. Buildings and other scenery come from local manufacturer Brigade Models. The rules are a home-brew variant of Spitting Fire by US publisher Majestic 12 Games.

Israeli Mosquitoes on a recce flight

The idea will be to run a number of consecutive short scenarios over the day, allowing players to drop in and out during the day.

Israeli Mysteres over a mosque near the Suez canal.

Duces Bellorum

Andy weaves a lengthy tale of two recent Dark Ages games involving himself, Jeremey and Stephen. Clearly there are axes to grind here…

At a recent meeting Jeremey and I took on Stephen in a couple of games of Dux Bellorum.

Before we get to the day’s games, we need to set the scene. Last year Stephen ran a SAGA: Age of the Wolf campaign, in which we all participated. Jeremey and I both chose Anglo Danish factions, so naturally we were quite often allied. On one campaign turn we decided to focus our efforts on Stephen and his Welsh army, and both of us attacked him that turn. Sad to say Stephen beat both of us, and he was not reticent about broadcasting that fact to the world. He also built a little diorama to celebrate the victory, a large banner placed over the bodies of two white wolves. You can read Stephen’s diatribe, and see the banner, here.

Truly the man can prattle on.

So, back to the Dux Bellorum game. We had agreed 50 points a side, with Jeremey and I sharing command of one side. I chose a Late Saxon army, comprising

  • 1 Shieldwall Companions
  • 1 Noble Shieldwall (Veteran)
  • 2 Noble Shieldwall
  • 6 Ordinary Shieldwall
  • 2 Foot Skirmishers (Javelin)

I also gave all the Shieldwall units Hurled Weapons, giving them an advantage in combat if they were charged from the front, and I bought an extra leadership point to complete the 50 point spend. In Dux Bellorum leadership points can be used to modify Bravery rolls (to move units), increase the number of dice rolled in melee, interrupt the opponent’s movement or to cancel hits suffered.
Stephen chose a late Welsh force, comprising

  • 1 Warrior Companions
  • 2 Noble Warriors
  • 6 Ordinary Warrior
  • 3 Ordinary Riders
  • 1 Monks

The Monks gave Stephen two additional leadership points, and he also chose to give all his units javelins, giving them a short-range missile option. One characteristic of Warriors is that if they get within 3 base widths and line of sight of the enemy, they have to test for an uncontrolled advance; if they fail, they don’t move at all.

Stephen’s Monks

We rolled the dice to determine the Aggressor and Repeller, the Saxons had a slight advantage in Aggressor rating, and won the die roll.

As Repeller Stephen chose the terrain, all placed near the centreline of the field of battle, a wood and hill close together to our left, and a marsh to our right. And on the top of the hill he placed the banner trophy from the SAGA campaign!

Jeremey and I split the Saxons into two roughly equal commands, I had the Companions and Jeremey had the Veteran Shieldwall. Jeremey took the left, behind the woods and the hill, and I took the right facing the marsh.

Stephen deployed his Riders, Companions and Noble Warriors facing me, and his Ordinary Warriors, supported by the Monks, facing Jeremey, separated by the woods and the hill.

Stephen’s Riders, Companions and Noble Warriors

Stephen’s Riders advanced, I sent my Skirmishers forward, which was a classic mistake as they were soon ridden down and routed from the table; one leadership point lost, but they don’t count towards the army morale tests, well, they aren’t trained warriors now are they?

Stephen continued to harass my Shieldwall with volleys of javelins from his riders, as his companions and noble warriors expressed a distinct lack of enthusiasm and declined to advance. For several turns.

Eventually some of Stephen’s noble foot got their act together and advanced on my line, when they eventually got close enough Stephen let their uncontrolled advance rule take over and sent them in.

The leadership contest, Stephen and Andy’s Companions. The brown disc is a leadership point.

Stephen got tired of lobbing javelins, and sent his Riders in against my Shieldwall.

Stephen’s Riders charge my Shieldwall, Nobles to the left, Ordinary to the right. The small yellow die on the Riders indicates a hit suffered.

After a couple of rounds of combat, I beat them off.

Welsh repelled!

On the other flank, Stephen’s ordinary warriors advanced towards the woods and hills, and Jeremey’s forces waiting beyond. For some reason the Monks didn’t seem that keen to approach the Saxons, and stayed where they deployed. As the leadership points they bestowed could only be given to units within 5 base widths (about 24”), the number of potential recipients gradually reduced.

Stephen’s Monks and Warriors, before the advance.

The warriors on this flank now suffered the problem of the uncontrolled advance; the units on the ends of his line could see Jeremey’s units, while those in the middle could not. As a result, the end units charged in on their own while the central units plodded through the woods. And the units that did charge in, lost.

Stephen’s disrupted line of Warriors, no Monks in sight.

Stephen did achieve one unlikely event; during one attack, he rolled six dice for an attack on Jeremey’s untested Veteran Shieldwall unit, and all six came up sixes. That’s a 1 in 46,656 chance! Six hits inflicted wiped the Veterans from the face of the earth. I hope he bought a lottery ticket.

The 1 in 46,656 chance!

Stephen seemed to have the overall advantage, having lost fewer units, but whereas our losses had been concentrated on a few units, destroying them, Stephen’s were spread out across his units. Eventually the losses caught up and Stephen lost several units in the same turn, in fact both sides reached their 50% loss point in the same turn. So, both sides had to take morale tests on all remaining units; the steadfast Saxons stood firm, while the weaselly Welsh failed their tests. With these units routing Stephen’s army reached the 75% of units lost point, ending the first game in a Saxon Victory.

The Saxon Companions and their spoils of victory after the first game.

As we had plenty of time left, we decided on a second game. Both sides decided to tweak their army lists. Stephen was less than impressed with his Monks, so sent them packing back to the monastery. He was a bit cagey on what he would add to his army with the 3 points the monks had cost.

I decided that the 3 points used to upgrade one of the units to Veteran might be better spent on another unit of Ordinary Shieldwall. So we had the Companions, three Noble Shieldwall and seven Ordinary Shieldwall. That meant we would need to lose 6 units before we had to take a morale test, and 9 units before losing the battle (excluding skirmishers of course). Jeremey and I split the forces pretty much as we had before, but I got the additional Ordinary Shieldwall unit.

We rolled the dice and this time the Welsh won and became the aggressors. We deployed the terrain, only 2 pieces for us; we went for a wood on the left and a marsh on the right.

Stephen split his Riders between the two wings, two facing Jeremey and one facing me. He deployed his Companions and Noble warriors on his left, opposite me, and the ordinary warriors opposite Jeremey.

Saxon Companions and Noble Shieldwall await the Welsh onslaught.

Once both sides had deployed Stephen then revealed what he had spent his 3 points on, a Champion’s Challenge! Each side sent forth a champion to fight; the loser’s side would forfeit a leadership point. Had we refused the challenge we would have lost the leadership point through shame. Unfortunately for Stephen he lost the Champion’s Challenge (simple die roll), and so he started the game with 5 leadership points available, the Saxons had 7.

Stephen sent his lone left flank unit of Riders forward, hoping to ride down my Skirmishers, but this time I pulled them back behind my Shieldwall. The riders stood off for a while, but as the Welsh Companions and Noble Warriors were more motivated in this second game, and were quick to advance, Stephen sent them all in against my Shieldwall.

On the opposite flank Jeremey nailed his units to the floor and refused to be goaded into attacking. As with the first game this forced the Welsh to move through the woods in a haphazard manner. After a closer than expected fight between Jeremey’s units and the Welsh riders he was able to concentrate on the emerging Welsh warriors from the wood and deal a decisive blow.

Stephen’s leader and his Companions not setting an example.

This time the battle was not so close, Stephen’s Welsh reached their 50% morale test point which several units failed, ending the game in a Saxon victory; leaving the Wolf tail banner safely in Saxon hands.