Thursday 25 January 2018

HLBC 28mm WW1 8 inch Howitzer

Time for some BIG calibre reinforcements for my British WW1 forces.

I have been looking for an excuse to buy one of these huge beasts for a while, for those who don't know The Honourable Lead Boiler Suit Company sell a wonderful range of "larger" size WW1 Artillery

In this years Analogue Hobbies Winter Paint Challenge one of the bonus rounds was BFG or Big Freakin Gun, and that was all the excuse I needed. So a quick button press on the old tinterwebnet and an 8 inch Howitzer and crew was en route to Castle R.

This thing is seriously huge, if the crew are 6 ft tall in scale they just come up to the top of the wheels on the gun. 

Rules wise god knows how this will work, what size of a beaten zone ? Its going to cause a headache for those who fire it as well as those who it lands on.

I have painted the gun itself in the standard dark khaki green for British Artillery of the time, I haven't been able to find a picture of an 8 inch Howitzer itself in action but those I have show the guns still painted in there basic green rather than a desert sand colour.

Unfortunately none of these beasts were used in Mesopotamia which is what my main collection is based on however 2 did turn up in Palestine in 1917 so that' my excuse, might even buy some tanks as well.

Friday 19 January 2018

28mm WW1 Ox Bucks Lt Infantry

School Photo "Stop messing about at the back Perkins"
The latest new unit from the brushes of the Yarkshire Gamer is this full battalion of British Infantry for my WW1 Mesopotamia collection, my apologies for the random appearance of other figures in the back ground there is a game on going and the table doubles as the photo studio.

HQ and MG Section
I have based the unit on the 1st Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, one of the key British units in the conflict.  The Mesopotamia Campaign can be divided into three sections, the initial advance through Basra towards Bagdad which fell short at the Battle of Ctesphion. Then the second phase, the British retreat to Kut Al Amara, the subsequent siege and attempts at relief before the final stage where the British and Empire troops reinforced, trained and drove North again, this time capturing Bagdad.

A Company with some random Turkish Infantry in the background
The Ox Bucks were one of the few British Battalions in the initial drive, British units were brigaded with 3 other battalions, made up of Indian or Gurkha troops. They ended up trapped in Kut during the siege and were either killed or taken prisoner. The unit was reformed in theatre in 1917 around a cadre of around 250 preinforcements who had been en route to the area when the battalion was destroyed. Anyone interested in the detailed history of the unit should check out the excellent website which covers all the various battalions and their war diaries.

B Company
The figures themselves are from the 28mm Woodbine Design Company which is an off shoot of Gripping Beast. With this unit I have deliberately gone for a non uniform look reflecting a unit that has been on campaign for a long time. So you will see all range of headgear, service shirts, shorts, trousers etc in the unit to reflect that.

I plan to use the unit as an under strength battalion with 6 Fig companies early in the war, and add the 2 Fig Lewis Gun Teams in for later period games.

C Company
D Company
The unit will work to be honest as any British Infantry unit of the period, the only direct link to the Ox Bucks is the regimental insignia which is on the side of the few men who have their sun hats on.

Next up on the paint table is a huge 8" Howitzer for this period before we head back to the desert for some more vehicles.

Friday 12 January 2018

Monmouth Courthouse 1778 a 28mm Refight

A few weeks before Xmas we held a refight of the morning action at Monmouth Courthouse using 28mm figs and British Grenadier Rules.

We based the game around the scenario in the 2nd of the Scenario Books for British Grenadier, I highly recommend these as a great source of information and ideas.
Caliver Books would love to sell you a copy here !

Hesse Infantry on the move
One of the attendees at the game has already done a comprehensive AAR which can be viewed HERE so I will use this post as a general guide to the scenario and a good excuse to post some pretty pictures, if an excuse is needed !

Before the chaos 
Above is a photo of the game table set up with no figures on table, it's our usual 12 x 6 table, closest to the camera is the American entry point, the British entry point is in the far opposite corner. There is a small village on the British left with an orchard in front of it (yes, there is a palm tree in there, it's special homage to the person who tried to argue that there are no palm trees in North Africa !). A further Orchard in the mid distance and a couple of open woods, but generally the terrain is quite open.

Late in the game American Infantry hold the brook
The factor to add in for this battle is the heat, sources suggest that there were more casualties on the day due to heat exhaustion than there were due to gun fire and bayonet. British Grenadier covers this by converting excess disruption into casualties but if you use a different set you may need to come up with another mechanism to reflect this.

Smoke key ! British Lights defend the orchard
British Orbat

This is adapted from the BG orbat to match our figure collection, all commanders are Average unless stated.

On table around Monmouth Courthouse,

C in C Gen Clinton Excellent

Rearguard Lt Col Abercromby

16th Light Dragoons 10 Figs Light Cavalry 1st Line
Queens Rangers Cavalry 6 Figs Light Cavalry 2nd Line
1st British Light Infantry 24 Figs Elite
British Skirmishers 12 Figs Elite
Queens Rangers Infantry 18 Figs 2nd Line
Queens Rangers Skirmishers 6 Figs 1st Line Rifles
1 3pdr British Gun Elite

The baggage train, which starts in Monmouth and needs to travel to the British Entry Point. The British need to ensure the safe exit of the baggage before entering a general engagement.

British Light Cavalry before they wandered in column past some American Guns
All the rest of the British enter the table from their entry point at the other end of the table in column on the road.

Turn 3 Lt Gen Cornwallis (Division Commander)

Meadows Brigade 2 x British Grenadier Battalions 36 Figs Elite and 1 x 6 per guns Elite

It's a long way to the other end of the line.
Turn 4 Kospoths Brigade (Poor) 3 x Hessian Infantry Battalions all 2nd Line with 2 x 20 figure and 1 x 24 figure Battalions supported by 3 x 3pdr 1st Line guns.

Turn 5 Matthews Brigade 2 x British Foot Guards 2 x 24 Fig 1st Line

Turn 6 Greys Brigade (Excellent) 5 x Battalions of British Infantry all 16 figures, 2 Elite (42nd) and 3 1st Line. Note the 42nd has been split down into two 16 figure units.

The 33rd Yarkshire Regt advance flags a flutter
Turn 7 Pattisons Brigade 2 x 12 pdr guns and 2 x Howitzers all Line

Turn 8 Websters Brigade (Excellent) 4 x British Infantry Battalions 2 x 16 and 2 x 20 Fig units 1 Elite (Yarkshires of course ! And yes I do know that it didn't officially become that for another 4 years) the rest 1st Line

And Finally on Turn 10 Leslies Brigade 3 x British Infantry Battalions all 2nd Line with 16 Figs a piece.

We found that the turn thing went to pot quite quickly as the rear of the column from the previous Brigade hadn't cleared the entry point.

American Forces

Turn 1 in column with the head of the column at the edge of the woods in front of the Monmouth Orchard.

Note the BG scenario doesn't give American Artillery calibres so we rolled a d6 when each gun arrived on table 1-3 was a 3pdr 4-6 a 6pdr.

C in C Maj Gen Lee (Poor)

Waynes Brigade 4 x 16 American Infantry Battalions with 2 guns all 1st Line.
Durkees Brigade 1 x 20 American Infantry Battalion with 1 gun all 1st Line.

Gen Fayette looks slightly surprised, he should do he's just been shot.

Turn 2 La Fayettes Brigade 3 x 20 Fig American Infantry Battalions with 1 gun all 1st Line.

Scott's Brigade 3 x 20 Fig American Infantry Battalions with 1 gun all 1st Line.

Turn 3 Maxwell's Brigade 4 x 16 Fig American Infantry Battalions all 2nd Line with 1 4 Fig Milita Light Cavalry Unit and 1 gun which is 1st Line.

As with the British the turn sequence goes out of the window very quickly, with 1 entry point the rear of the column in front won't clear the table so an off table traffic jam ensues.

American Cavalry
After the last American Unit has entered the table the American commander rolls two d6 in the command phase of each turn until they roll a double.

If double 1,2 or 3 next turn Col Morgan (Excellent) arrives at the entry point with his Brigade of 2 x 20 1st Line American Infantry Battalions with 12 1st Line Skirmishers.

If double 4,5 or 6 next turn Dickinson arrives with his Brigade of 3 x 16 Militia Infantry Battalions.

It's either or with the American reinforcements, not both.

Run Away  ! American troops spot a dangerous white Rabbit
How did we get on.

No detailed AAR here as Roger has done a cracking job on that already (see link above).

We weren't that far off history too be fair, the British managed to shield their baggage train off the table.

Monmouth Orchard getting a bit hot.
The Americans pushed on with their initial bigger numbers and pushed the British out of Monmouth but not without one hell of a battle for the orchard with the British Light Battalion holding back 3 American Infantry Battalions at one point, although the 4th one in the rear proved to be the end.

The American Forces had pushed on into the Cider Orchard but they arrived at the same time as the British Grenadiers and the Hessians and the second battle of the orchard began, this time it was the British who were victorious.

The increased British numbers started to tell and the Cider Orchard was cleared when the Hessian Infantry managed to out flank it.

One of the British Grenadier Battalions had held the open flank of the Cider Orchard while this was going on, it had taken one hell of a beating, down to 50% strength it finally gave way, unfortunately for the Americans the 12pdrs and Howitzers deployed in the gap in the line.

The British now had the advantage in numbers even though the American reinforcements were on table and the American Commander decided it was time to withdraw.

Another good game of British Grenadier with one of my favourite collections of figures, it will no doubt be 12 months or so until they are back on the table again, most likely to do the afternoon section of the same battle.

Saturday 6 January 2018

Matilda 28mm Queen of the Desert

One of the main goals this year in my attempt at the Analogue Hobbies Winter Paint Challenge is to make a dent in the miniatures pile, a mound that is made of resin rather than lead. I have taken advantage, quite heavily, of the various 50% off offers from Blitzkrieg Miniatures and now have numerous Armoured Fighting Vehicles lying around the house crying out for a lick of paint.

The first three vehicles to roll off the production line are these 28mm Matilda II tanks painted up for my early war North Africa British collection using what regular readers should recognise as my take on the Caunter scheme.

I am rather pleased with how these have turned out, a nice little addition to the British Forces.

These three tanks have been names Mole, Ratty and Hedgehog after characters from Wind in the Willows, it all started a few years back with my first Matilda which I called Fat Badger (because it looked to me like a Fat Badger) after a local eatery. Next up was Tubby Toad who is soon to be joined by Portly Otter making the 6 tanks of this type I have planned for.

The Commander figures are from Perrys and Decals from Doms Decals both of which add some nice finishing touches to the models. With these out of the way I will be doing a battalion for my Mesopotamia collection before returning to the Desert to sort out some Rolls Royce Armoured Cars and some Italian Light Tanks I need for game 2 of our Op Compass Campaign.

So there we have the first new material of 2018, let's hope the mojo keeps rolling along and the tanks rolling out.

Tuesday 2 January 2018

Op Compass 1940 - Game 1 Tally Ho !

"They will never see us if we go really quick"
Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen to the latest "project" here at Yarkshire Gamer, having completed the largest Naval Battle of WW1 we thought we would move onto recreating the War in the Desert from June 1940 to December 1941.

So this will be the first of hopefully many games recreating those early years of the war using some of the worst tanks and troops of the period on largely featureless terrain with the odds massively stacked against one side. If you think WW2 is all about Tigers and Panthers fighting on a 6 x 4 table with 1000 points a side, I would look away now !

"Yes Sir, I can see sand, lots of it"
We will be using 28mm figs and vehicles from a variety of sources, mostly Perrys, Blitzkrieg and Warlord. We are using a set of rules created by me based on Iron Ivans Disposable Heroes set with some Unit Card Activation, Random Events and other general YG fun thrown in. The games themselves should work with any set of rules based on a 1 veh = 1 model scale, so the popular sets of the day like Bolt Action or Chain of Command would be fine, Flames of War probably not.

"Drive down that road until you get blown up"
Rather than tedious map moves and complicated logistics being the back bone of the Campaign, I will use my favourite method of "linked scenarios", so each game will be independent of another but the result of each game affects the outcome of the Campaign as a whole.

The games are based on the book Operation Compass by Robert Avery which is sold by the toofatlardies for their "I ain't been shot mum" rules. Although I have changed a few things round to make the scenario work better for us I highly recommend the book as a great source of information and ideas. You can pick it up HERE for seven of your English Pounds.

On the start line
Historical Background

It's the 14th June 1940 just a few days after Mussolini has declared war on Britain and France, after a couple of nights of British Light Forces making a spot of noise it's time to get serious and push on into Italian held territory.

The scenario is best run by an umpire who if required can take on the role of the Italian Commander with no problems at all, we ran it with the Umpire plus 3 players controlling the British.

It's essential if you are playing the British in this game to not read either the Italian briefing or the Umpires Notes.

And they're off
Set Up

I usually do a map but for this game I will make an exception because it's so simple. Use a 12ft by 6ft table covered in some sort of desert cloth (I do love our new "print yourself" Desert Map) with no features on at all apart from a single track road down the centre of the table from short edge to short edge.

You will need to be able to split the length of the table into 12 separate 1 foot zones, luckily our road sections are 1 ft long so it was easy.

British Briefing

Sir, you are leading a small light armoured force through the Italian lines, the main army is to your South attacking Fort Capuzzo and you must crack on to make sure that their flank is suitably protected.

You have this session of gaming (we did 3 hours) to get at least 3 vehicles off the end of the table.

Intel suggests light Italian Infantry Forces are in the area supported by Artillery and the approaches are likely to be mined.

Going is "Good to Soft" roll two d6 before you move any vehicles off road and inform the Umpire of any doubles.

Other than the road the table is empty, carefully use your spotting rolls as you go.

You have 1 HQ / Art Observer in a Damiler Dingo

1 Coy of 3 x Mk VI Light Tanks
1 Coy of 3 Morris CS9 Armoured Cars
2 Coys of 3 Mk2 Marmon Herrington Armoured Cars
2 x 25pdrs Off Table

All troops start on table in the 1st section of the table.

Note : We used the 13 early war light vehicles we had available, use what you have, Rolls Royce ACs etc, we had three players but ideally this scenario would be best with 4.

Italian Briefing 

As Umpire I played the Italian Forces as well as there really isn't much for them to do other than roll dice.

If you are the Italian Commander you have a thankless task. With minimal troops, most of which can't damage the enemy, you need to slow the enemy down, using any means you can, stop the British exiting your table edge.

Your engineers have laid mines to your front but their exact location is unknown.

You have,

1 HQ / Art Observer section of 2 Figures
2 Rifle Sections of 11 Figures each
1 20mm Anti Tank Rifle
1 x Medium Artillery Pieces off table
2 pre dug trench sections capable of holding 13 Figs and 1 Heavy Weapon and crew

Before the game starts secretly decide where you wish to place the trench sections, they should be in the 3rd of the table furthest from the British Start Line.

"Sir, if we lie down is it an extra minus one on their roll ?"
Umpire Briefing

The secret of making this scenario work is the Umpire making the British players paranoid !

Unit Movement - Every time before a British vehicle moves off road, the player in charge of the model should roll 2 d6, any double 1, 2 or 3 and the vehicle bogs down that turn, no movement, free to move next turn.

On a double 4,5 or 6 it's a bit more serious, we have specific breakdown rules to cover this, but you should use whatever you have in your rules. Roll a d6, 1 is a misfire and it continues as normal, 2 a bog down for 1 turn, 3 to 5 is a breakdown which gets harder to fix, a 6 is a full not being fixed this game.

Sectors - The table is divided up into 12 separate segments, the British start in segment 1 which is free of mines and Italian Troops.

When a British unit enters a new segment for the first time or spots into a segment that hasn't been cleared the Umpire should roll a secret d10. The basic chance of segment 2 being mined is 1-3 on a d10, if that area doesn't have any mines add 2 to the chance of having mines in the next area, so area 3 would be 5 or less on a d10, area 4 would be so 7 and so on.

When an area of Mines is discovered the next segment starts on a 3 again and so on to the edge of the table, segments with Italian Troops in have no mines.

"If it wasn't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all"
Spotting - your rules should have some form of observation rolls in them, I would make it impossible to see mines unless the unit is looking into the adjacent segment and even then it shouldn't be easy. The Italian trenches should also be well hidden and difficult to see until the units within open up.

Mines - again you should have your own rules for these, they shouldn't be too powerful but enough to scare the British. Once detected I allowed the British to pass through the field so long as they did so at minimum speed whilst performing no other actions. Once a unit has passed through a minefield a clear path is created and units can pass through as normal, subject to the movement rules above. The chance of encountering a mine on the road doubles.

That will be a mine then ! (Portee disguised as a Monkey)
After Action Report

Everyone rather enjoyed this little one night scenario, I think the combination of the time limit and the lack of certainty about what enemy / danger being faced added to the tension of the game.

The British managed to get some mines in sector 4 and one of the Marmon Herringtons managed to loose a wheel at it's first attempt at moving through it.

One of the Mark VI Light Tanks proved to be rather unreliable, breaking down twice and for good measure also getting bogged down in the sand.

First blood to the Italians
The British on the north side of our table came off worst against an entrenched HMG, there isn't a lot of armour on a CS9 Armoured Car or a Marmon Herringtons for that matter and with some decent die rolls the HMG was able initially to take out the steering on a CS9 before knocking it out the next turn.

It's raining 25pdrs
The Italian Artillery proved pretty useless, but in its defence it was firing at fast moving Armoured Cars and needed a spot of luck to get a hit, luck which never arrived. The British guns however once they had spotted the Italian trenches was able to keep up a decent rate of fire which caused a few casualties and kept the heads of the Infantry down.

The Italian 20mm Anti Tank Rifle proved to be highly accurate, hitting the Mk VI Tanks a few times but the damage rolls where not so successful, minor damage only.

The Italian HMG managed to take another Armoured Car out as it approached the Italian trenches, this time a Marmon Herrington, but the heavy weight of British machine gun and artillery fire on the trenches either killed or pinned the Italian Infantry and the game was over, 2 Mk VI Light Tanks (the other had, you guessed it, broken down again) and a Humber scorched through the lines.

It got a bit tense as there was still two segments to go to the end of the table, with time running out it was pedal to the metal for the Brits, luckily the dice for the mines in those last two segments rolled negative and the tanks were away.

So a victory for the Brits and fun for all, I hope to run the second game at the back end of February but next up on the table will be our annual trip to WW1 Mesopotamia, having fallen back from the victory at Ctesphion the forces of the Empire more adventures are in store in the retreat to Kut Al Amara.