Sunday, 22 October 2017

Project Jutland - Live at Derby

A couple of weeks ago the Behemoth that is Project Jutland made only it's third public display and its first outside Gods Own County of Yarkshire, with a trip down to the Derby Worlds Show, which those who went to know was actually no where near Derby.

HMS Lion looking rather nice.
Work and shifts and general life have meant that I have been unable to "tour" the Jutland game as much as I would like. It really needs two days to get a decent go at and their just aren't that many two day shows around within striking distance of home. The sad demise (or slow death) of Triples robbed us of our local two day show.

The calm before the full set up.
Players have also turned out to be an issue, finding 6 or 7 people for a full weekend or even a day has proved very difficult. At Derby we had 6 players (thanks Stuart for turning up from my Facebook recruitment !) on the Saturday. Stuart hadn't played the rules before but I thought the game moved really well and we all seemed to enjoy the day.

Sunday Morning
Sunday however we were down to 4 players and it was just too much, we effectively ground to a halt only managing half the number of turns we did on the Saturday. I think 7 players (3 German, 4 British) would be an ideal number with any additional players joining the British. Without the distractions of a show 7 players, two days would get a good conclusion.

German Light Forces, 1st, 5th and 6th Half Flottilas
We had decided a while back that for shows we would start our battle after the initial Battlecruiser action and start just as the main Fleet Action began, the map below was our set up guide.

We start the action at 18.17 at HMS Marlborough opens up at 13,000 yards at Kaiser and I set that range as initial visibility (130 cms), so some ships are visible others are not. Many of the British ships are blocked by their own Battlecruisers and smoke beltching Armoured Cruisers at the beginning of the Battle. Visibility varies each turn with a roll of 2 d 10, 1 plus, one minus, each point equalling a centimetre. So a +5 roll would increase visibility to 135 cms. Just by luck alone the range extended to around 145 on the Saturday before is decreased back towards 120 on the Sunday.

British Destroyers of 4th DF
The ships starting location was determined by history but from that point the Admirals were free to make their choice of action and determine the course of the action.

The visibility at this point of the battle was strongly in favour of the British ships however having given the Germans a handicap whilst shooting at the British in previous games I decided to allow both sides to share the same visibility levels (mostly to give the Germans a half fighting chance) after all, a couple of shots and a Battle Turn away at 11am on Saturday morning wouldn't have been very interesting.

HMS Nomad (by request)
I also restricted the British Light Forces (Destroyers and Light Cruisers) as Jellicoe did to protecting the Fleet, they had to remain within 25 cms of the ships they were escorting unless the Germans declared one of their Flottilas were performing an attack at which point the British could dice to release their light forces to counter act that action.

The emphasis was very much on the larger ships so we only allow smoke generation to cover the withdraw of a damaged ship. I considered many other aspects, random events, moving squalls etc but a line has to be draw somewhere in the reality / playability sand.

British Armoured and Light Cruisers under fire.
We also took into account the poor standard of British ammunition, especially 15" shell's which had a nasty habit of breaking up on impact, so each hit had a chance of failure. Warspite began the game with a broken rudder and was circling at the back of 5th Battle Squadron, the British player had our rules usual chance of fixing the problem. To be honest there are hundreds of things you could include but at some point you want to start the game !

Part of the British Line under fire.
We used a 18ft x 8ft playing area with 248 1/2400 scale ships. The rules were written by me with a number of adaptations specifically for Jutland. Ships were treated as individual items for damage, firing etc, although movement was by Divisions. Destroyers work in groups of 3 to 6 usually a half Flottila. I keep saying it, but one day I will get time to put the rules on the blog. They certainly work for our group and Stuart who had never played them before seemed to pick them up really quickly and seemed to have a good time.

German Battlecruisers screened by Destroyers
The rules have two methods of firing large calibre guns, ranging and salvo fire. At the start of the game the British and German Battlecruisers from the "Run to" actions are considered ranged in against each other, whilst all the other ships are starting their ranging process. The Battlecruiser Sqns should have started the game with some damage but I let them begin with a clean slate.

The heat of Battle with multiple gaming aids on show !
I commanded the German Battlecruisers and Scouting Force, Steve had the front of the German Battle line and escorts, Stuart the rear (he had a relative serving on SMS Pommern at the battle). The British had Ian with the Battlecruisers, Rob with the front of the British Battle line and Lon at the rear.

The moment the sun shone through the window making the ships "glow"
Plan and game wise, with 12 ft long battle lines it is quite hard to be subtle  !

As the Germans we decided to try and flatten the line out sooner rather than later and get as many of the Dreadnoughts into action, it was not in our advantage to close the range at all, it was a case of hang on and hope our better armour works. Both Steve and Stuart decided to leave their light forces on the un engaged side of their ships.

No doubt about it, it's a big old battle.
As the Battlecruiser commander I decided to concentrate on the weaker earlier British Battlecruisers trying to draw them away from the majn fleet establish control of that side of the table with the ultimate aim of using my speed to get around the front of the British Battle line and cause a spot of trouble. I decided to use my Light Forces as a screen, taking advantage of the extra save roll it gives in our rules.

The head of the German Line (top left) under heavy fire.
The British decided on the first day to do the same as Jellicoe, line out and use the superior numbers, which lets face it with all those ships is not a bad idea ! Later on day 2 they had the chance to break the line up and close the range in certain areas, taking the chance of receiving more damage but on the flip side the chance of causing more.

The Battlecruisers took plenty of damage but were rather fortunate in that I failed to hit anything vaguely explosive, Invincible eventually sank through sheer number of hits and Inflexible withdrew after very heavy damage and a bridge hit, the majority of the remaining BCs withdrew behind the main British Line under cover of some Armoured Cruisers (who paid heavily for it).

It certainly is a big game, concentrating on my bit of the action, I had no idea what was happening at the back of the German Line, the shell splashes and markers gave me an idea of where the action was but you got the feeling of being part of a much larger battle getting the odd over heard bit of information as a turret got hit or a 15" shell failed to explode.

The head of the German Line turns away
The front eight ships of the German Line took a hell of a beating and about lunch on the Sunday Konig and Markgraff were forced out of line by both damage and speed loss and the German Light Forces advanced to cover the withdraw of the High Sea Fleet.

Torps away !
I managed a final bit of glory with a successful torpedo attack on the British Armoured Cruisers, the results however were not so successful, one hit on HMS Shannon for minor damage the other hit Cochraine but turned out to be a damned dud !

So results wise we weren't far off the real battle, the British had lost more ships, however as the main Battle Lines had been engaged for quite some time both sides had taken quite a bit of damage with a question mark over one or two getting home (full damage break down below). I can certainly see why Scheer turned away and it was definitely the right thing to do. I think the rules gave a realistic estimate of what would have happened had Scheer stayed engaged for a longer period of time.

There really isn't a lot of hope for the Germans in this battle, they would definitely need a good run of luck, hitting the right locations and causing the right damage, repeatedly to get the chance to get the upper hand. A good torpedo attack would turn the tide on the British, however they would most likely turn away as in the real battle, it would take a brave or foolish man to take their chances with torps in the water.

Is that a Pre Dreadnought on the table ?
Even though you really don't stand a chance as the Germans it was a fantastic experience to take part in a Naval Battle of that size.

So what now for Project Jutland ? Well there are no more shows planned, I would love to take it to the Naval Wargames weekend at Gosport but it's a hell of a way and I would struggle to get 7 players that far South. I know that the ships themselves will be used on a regular basis as we are quite big on our Naval here at YG but will the whole collection see the light of day in another full on re-fight ?

I certainly hope so, maybe the Leeds Club will get together over a weekend at a Church hall or similar. If you run a show and would like me and who ever I can get to bring the game down, please contact me and I will try and sort it out. Likewise I would be open to the thought of putting the game on at a club or group somewhere over a couple of days, if they had a suitable location  and an endless supply of good pies were supplied.

The Losses

HMS Invincible sunk by weight of fire from Derfflinger.
HMS Hampshire sunk by Lützow.
HMS Defence sunk as a result of numerous large calibre hits.
HMS Minotaur sunk by Lützow.
HMS Yarmouth sunk by secondary guns of Lützow causing a Magazine Explosion.

Destroyers G41, V44, G86 and G87 sunk by Armoured Cruisers during Torpedo attack

Damage Records



König - 65% Damage - 5 kts, 4 turrets and 5 Secondary Guns (SG)
Grosser Kurfürst - 45% Damage - 2 kts, 1 turret and 1 SG
Kronprinz - 40% Damage  - 1 turret and 3 SG
Markgraf - 85% Damage  - 6 kts, 1 turret, 4 SG, Director and Bridge
Kaiser - 35% Damage  - 2 kts and 2 SG
Luitpold - 10% Damage - 4 kts and 1 SG
Fredrick der Grosse - 20% Damage  - 3SG
Ostfriesland - 35% Damage  - 2kts, 1 turret and 1 SG
Thuringen - 10% Damage  - 1kt
Helgoland - 10% Damage  - 1 kt and 1 turret
Oldenburg - 15% Damage  - 2 kts and 1 turret
Posen - 25% Damage  - 1 turret and 2 SG
Rhienland  - 25% Damage  - 1 turret and Rudder

The shell splash shows who is firing at you
Derfflinger  - 25% Damage  - 1kt and 2 SG
Lützow  - 15% Damage - 1kt and 3 SG
Seydlitz - 10% Damage  - 1SG
Moltke  - 50% Damage  - 2SG
Von der Tann - 20 % Damage - 2SG

No damage was caused to any of the German Pre Dreadnoughts, Light Cruisers or Destroyers (other than those sunk)

British Damage (1 hit = large calibre hits causing damage)

KGV - 1 hit, Ajax - 1 hit
Orion - 35% Damage  - 2kts, 1 turret and 1SG
Monarch - 25% Damage  - 1kt, 1 turret and 1SG
Thunderer - 10% Damage  - 1kt
Iron Duke - 20% Damage
Royal Oak - 25% Damage  - 1SG
Superb - 1 hit
Canada - 15% Damage and 2kts
Benbow - 1 hit
Vanguard - 15% Damage and 1SG
Colossus - 33% Damage - 2kts and 1 turret
Neptune - 1 hit
Collingwood  - 15% Damage, 2kts, 1 turret and 1SG
Marlborough - 1 hit
Agincourt - 10% Damage and 2kts

Barham - 20% Damage and 2SG
Valiant - 1 hit
Warspite - 30% Damage and 5SG
Malaya - 10% Damage and 2SG
Lion - 25% Damage, 1kt and 1SG
Tiger - 25% Damage, 2kts and 1SG
New Zealand - 33% Damage, 4kts and 1SG
Inflexible  - 80% Damage, 1 Turret and Bridge

Armoured Cruisers
Shannon - 15% Damage and 1 turret
Cochraine - 5% and 1SG

Light Cruisers
Gloucester  - 50% Damage and 1 turret
Birkenhead - 50% Damage and 3 kts
Falmouth - 5% Damage

No destroyers damaged.

Monday, 9 October 2017

28mm Crusades Project - Knights of St Lazarus

There has been a bit of a minor surge on the old Crusades Project of late and today I finished off these, my second unit of Knights, representing the St Lazarus Order.

The figures themselves are 28mm from Fireforge Games, the same as my recent Hospitaller Knights however these are built from the Templar Knights box set. The two sets are similar but the Templar set contains 6 horses without caparisons and a selection of earlier period crash hats.

So with the Teutonic Knights set I was avoiding winged helms and the like but with this set it felt a lot closer to my chosen time frame of the third Crusade. I really like these figures and have given me a good cost effective way of getting the figures to get into a period I have been interested in for years.

The figures have been painted in my usual style, with the horses painted first using the oil paint / wipe method, followed by the riders and horse caparisons etc with Acrylics, based on mdf which is then textured and painted. I have cheated slightly and used the Battleflag decals for the crosses.

The boys of St Lazarus are something a little different from the norm in a Crusader Army. The Order was formed around 1200 and its primary focus was on the care of sufferers of Leprosy. The Order did however provide relatively small numbers of men for Military Service, the exact date of the first instance of this is unknown but it is highly likely that the Order was represented at the Battle of Hattin in 1187 and then later in the mid 13th Century at Gaza, Ramla and Acre.

They were however a very small Military Order for example they only mustered 25 Knights for Acre. Many of the serving Knights (also known as the "Living Dead") were sufferes of Leprosy, whilst they were in the early stages of the disease they were still able to fight and also care for those more affected by Leprosy, after all with the shortage of manpower in the region, every trained man who could fight did.

There is a decent book covering the history of the Order (see below) that I can recommend, in fact I read it a number of years ago before starting out on gaming the Crusades so the book was no doubt a inspiration for the unit.

So I now have two units of Crusader Cavalry and two of Saladins lads painted, next up for the Crusades will be some more Muslim Cavalry as the horses are done on them. I picked up a couple of boxes of the Mounted Sgt figures from Fireforge at Derby along with the Gripping Beast Poor Knights of the Temple of Solomon set to add to the pile, eventually I will do some foot sloggers, but I just love Knights !

Next up on the paint table are 15mm SYW Hanoverian Artillery whilst on the gaming table we are halfway through the ACW Battle of Champion Hill.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

A Spot of Early WW2 Desert Action

An A10 Cruiser Tank takes up position
A couple of years back I ran an Op Brevity game here at Castle R using our ever expanding pre 1942 desert collection of 28mm Figures. My goal in most of my scenario designs is to add a good dose of uncertainty and confusion so that the game could be played over and over again and never be exactly the same.

The last time we tried the game it was a great success with a close run finish, the British (with some South African help) won the day.

The basic scenario is a small Italian Force holding a defensive position being attacked by a larger British and Empire Force with a German Force racing to the rescue of their Italian Allies.

British Air Power swoops in rather low
The link below will take you to the original post

We had some slight variations in orbats, the Italians started with two AB41 armoured cars rather than one and an AS43. The British had three players again each with a Company of Infantry (33 figs) a Sqn of tanks (3 Models) and two recce vehicles.

That flank looks secure
Also our reinforcement represented our current collections. The 3 British players started the game with either Valentines, A13s or a mixed Sqn of 2 Matildas and a Honey.

A13 with South African Infantry support
We played the game over a couple of day sessions with a cheeky evening game thrown in. Slow moving for some, but as I have said many times, we don't game quick because we don't have too, the table stays set up, the same players come back.

I can smell burning, did you leave the cooker on ?
For the first day we were joined by our old friend Roger who had his first visit to the home of YG in a long time. For those of you who don't know Roger he has an excellent collection of figures, I may have given him a painting tip or two in the past which of course helped ;-)

You can catch his stuff on his blog GA - PA, here

On the second day one of Andys friends from that London joined us for some Yarkshire Hospitality, how cosmopolitan are we ! Still not drinking coffee though, "tha's in't Yarkshire, tha bloody well sups tea, reet"

Italian Forces await the onslaught
The game developed as it did last time into three almost separate fights.

On the Italian right, Rob had decided not to occupy the hill on the edge of the table, in the last game this had left him a bit stretched and the British were able to break through a gap in the line and flank the fort. So this time he concentrated his units on the flank of the fort to face Roger and then Ian on the second day, who had the Matildas.

An Italian LMG Co takes cover behind a wall, it didn't work
South African Infantry advance
This flank saw by far the highest level of casualties, there were burning vehicles everywhere. The old recon adage of "drive down that road until you get blown up" came true more than once.

It wasn't long before Rogers 2 Marmon Herringtons were knocked out, but so to were the Italian AB41s, one rather embarrassingly to a light mortar round. But in their defence they had managed to rather fortunately take out the Honey, the Italians would take that as fair exchange.

Join the Recon, they said. Drive the fastest vehicles; they said

Even the German Recon units which arrived as reinforcements didn't last long. But it was the Matildas that caused the problem, Fat Badger and Tubby Toad creeped slowly forward, shells bouncing off that thick armour.

Badger and Toad
But even the mighty fall, a well aimed shot and some lucky dice ripped a track off Toad causing it to grind to a halt (Matildas are that slow it did take the crew 3 turns to realise that they weren't actually moving any more). The Infantry shot each other to pieces and the flank ended in stalemate.

I can see my house from here
The centre was the quietest of the three, initially run by Ian, the British started with two CS9 armoured cars and 3 A13 Tanks. In typical Ian fashion he drove the CS9 straight down the road in the open where every gun in the Axis could see it, oh and the Luftwaffe turned up that turn too.

"Drive down that road until you get blo......., hello are you there ?"
On the second day our southern guest took up the reigns and was a little bit more aggressive. One unit of South African Infantry excelled itself removing two companies of Italians from the table before it had to retire. But still there wasn't enough firepower to get into the fort, especially when a German Anti Tank gun added to it's fire power.

The table
The other flank developed into a stalemate fairly quickly, all the Axis Armour had gathered here and the Italian Tanks were struggling to hit never mind damage the British tanks in front of them. The British were also struggling to finish off the dug in M13/40 tanks.
"That way to the doughnuts"
 Things didn't help when armour reinforcements arrived for both sides on the same flank again cancelling each other out. A brave Company of British Infantry managed to sneak up on the tanks and attempt a number of close assaults but alas, for them they kept getting beaten back.

The Brits did manage to take out some Panzer Grenadiers as they entered the table but two rapid attacks by German Aircraft halted their advance and with it the last chance at breaking the stalemate on that flank.

So there we have it a bloody draw but another good enjoyable Desert game. The Germans are getting a rest for a while as I have some Op Compass games lined up, some fairly short, so I'm hoping to rattle through a couple of those before Xmas.

Next up is ACW and the Battle of Champion Hill.