Wednesday 23 November 2022

First 1/700 WW2 Test Game & Bismark Updates


I've been slowly building up some 1/700 WW2 Naval Ships from plastic kits over the last few months and a couple of weeks ago I took them down the Leeds Wargames Club to give them a run out.

I am fortunate to have a 12 x 6 table at home but that isn't big enough for these ships so I  set up a 12 x 8 table at the club to run a test game with the ships I have. We use an established set of WW2 Naval rules which I wrote 25 plus years ago, they were adapted for our WW1 games as well so everyone is familiar with the mechanisms so it's absolutely pointless to change them.

However I do need to examine the move distances and gun ranges to move them up in scale from our 1/3000 WW2 games and our 1/2400 WW1 games. I am not looking for an exact model scale to ground scale that would need a huge expanse, however neither am I definitely not looking to go down the Warlord Games route and get the whole of Midway on a 6 x 4.

I'm looking for a happy medium, something that is playable on a table I can manage (which is very Big) which looks right without prescribing to a precise mathematical formula. If I can make a 8 ship Destroyer Action work on a 12 x 8 I'm in the right ballpark for a large ship Action on say a 36 ft table.

So the British started the game with 2 O class Destroyers, HMS Onslow and HMS Obedient (with the 4"QF Guns) pictured above.

Along with 2 E Class Destroyers, HMS Echo and HMS Electra (pictured above)

The Germans had 4 Destroyers Z31, Z32, Z33 and Z37, much larger than the British Destroyers they are also armed with 5.9" Guns, a couple of the ships have 5 Guns with a double turret at the front, the others 4.

These ships are more than a match for the British ones so we decided to only use 3 of the 4 ships and just move the 4th ship around as a dummy so it looked good. In true Yarkshire Gamer style we forgot we weren't using the 4th German Destroyer straight away and the British were in for it from the start.

For this test I was using a movement scale of half an inch per knot (from half a cm per knot for the 1/3000 ships) and had exchanged cms for inches on our firing charts which gave the British Destroyers a range of around a metre (in French Money) and the Germans slightly longer.

Things got hot pretty quickly as the ranges closed quicker than I had expected. If you look closely at the Splash Markers you can see small colour coded numbers, these are to enable us to remember which ship fired at which ship. In the WW1 games I have built shell splashes for each ship however these more scenic ones for the larger scale WW2 games are much more time consuming to produce so I have decided to number these and allocate them to a ship on a game by game basis in steady.

One of the joys of Naval Gaming to me is the randomness of the damage, you can plug away at a ship for move after move and hit nothing critical, smashing up a few boats or scaring the ships cat, or you can get luck with your first hit and damage something a bit more important, HMS Echo suffered damage to her rudder on turn 2 forcing her closer to the approaching German ships.

But it wasn't all one way traffic as a direct hit on one of the Torpedo Tubes on the deck of Z37 started a fire.

The next turn got a lot worse for Echo, stuck on a set course she was an easy target for the Germans and a number of hits caused extensive damage to the Bridge of the ship, whilst other hits caused a fire. To make matters worse attempts to repair the rudder failed.

It was going so well for the Germans until the Commander of Z31 got it all wrong. We write down our moves in secret at the start of each turn on the rear of each ship card, there was a slight miscalculation on the part of the Kriegsmarine and the words "Starboard 8, forward, oh f#*k" were clearly heard as Z31 slammed into the Port side of Z37 causing uncontrollable flooding in the latter ship.

In the end the British lost both E Class Destroyers to repeated hits from the Germans whilst the Germans lost Z37 through poor driving skills !

One O class and Z31 were badly damaged but a clear if not unexpected victory for the Germans.

So on reflection, the rules were fine, I know they work, that wasn't in doubt we have used them for that long. We didn't use Torpedoes in the game solely because I have not made any markers for them yet, and to do that I need to settle on a movement scale. The one thing we did find is that the ships felt as if they were moving too quickly and ranges closing extremely rapidly. 

I will return in a few weeks and try a second play test this time using 1/3 inch per knot and see how that works. Remember I am looking for the right feel to the game not the exact scale conversion.

In addition I've added a couple of videos to the build the Bismark series

Until next time, Sithee 

Regards Ken 
The Yarkshire Gamer 

Thursday 17 November 2022

The Relief (or not) of the Siege of Forli - An Italian Wars Game


Regular readers will know that it was my plan to debut my Garibaldi Project, Battle of Mentana game at FIASCO this year. Sadly I haven't been able to get the French Infantry Battalions I need for the game as I wait for the Perrys to release their FPW French Plastic Box set.

So I had a 12 x 6 table booked at FIASCO with nothing to put on it, the easiest thing to draw the crowds is the Italian Wars so I put together a game on short notice with the Fornovo game collection and a few extras. There was no time to sculpt terrain or build bespoke buildings, this is what you would get if you gamed at my house.

The scenario is a very loose one, Cesare Borgia was commanding a French / Swiss / Papal force in northern Italy in the late 1490s, he laid seige (twice) to Forli a walled town containing one Caterina Sforza who was the Countess of Flori and daughter of the Duke of Milan.

In 1499 Cesare met up French forces outside Forli and after a short Siege he entered the town and Captured Caterina. This game is based on a what if, that being Caterina Sforza persuading other Italian States and hiring German Mercenarys to break the seige with a pitched battle outside the walls.

The Table

The table itself was my standard 12 x 6 table with a basic terrain layout, with just under 1,500 figures on the table I wanted plenty of room to move.

The Papal Forces are set up on the right (as viewed) of the table and the Sforza Forces on the left.

There is a basic road layout on the table and along the Papal edge there are three woods effectively to split up the three commands of the Papal forces.

The Sfoza side of the table had a large walled town representing Forli covering the first part of the table followed by a couple of randomn woods.

There were two small farms on the far end of the table and a walled Cemetery which of course was the Dead Centre of the table.

The Papal Forces

The above photo is looking along the Papal Lines, nearest the camera is Cesare and his boys, in the middle a Swiss contingent and at the far end the French.

The Papal Forces opposite Forli consisted of

Force Commander Cesare Borgia 

Infantry Commander with

2 x 48 Figure Pike Blocks each with 16 attached shot
1 x 24 Papal Foot Guard
1 x 24 Papal Sword and Shield 
3 x Heavy Guns, emplaced.
2 x 6 Mounted Arquebus 

Cavalry Commander with

3 x 6 Familia Ducal including Cesare Borgias Bodyguard
3 x 6 Condottieri 

In the Centre

Swiss Mercenary Commander

2 x 48 Swiss Pike Blocks each with 16 Shot attached
2 x 24 Swiss Polearm
1 x Medium Gun

Cavalry Commander
2 x 6 Stradiots (1 with bow, 1 with Lance)
3 x 6 French Gendarme 

French Infantry Commander on the right

3 x 48 Old Band Pike, each with 16 attached shot
2 x 24 Polearm
2 x 24 Shot
2 x Medium Guns

Cavalry Commander 

4 x 6 French Gendarme
4 x 6 Archers

659 Infantry, 114 Cavalry, 6 Guns, 797 Figures

The Sfoza Army

Inside the walls of Forli 

Forli Commander

1 x 24 Italian Spearmen 
5 x 16 Italian Shot
1 x Heavy Gun

4 x 6 Mounted Crossbow 

In the centre

Overall Sfoza Commander

German Mercenary Commander 

1 x 128 figure Pike Block with 16 attached shot
3 x 24 Independent Shot

German Cavalry Commander

4 x 6 Condottieri 
2 x 6 Stradiots (1 with bow, 1 with lance)
1 x Heavy Gun

Italian Allies Commander

Italian Infantry Commander 

2 x 48 figure Pike Blocks with 16 attached shot 
2 x 24 Independent Shot 
1 x Medium Gun 

Italian Cavalry Commander 

2 x 6 Mounted Arquebus 
2 x 6 Stradiots with bow 
6 x 6 Condottieri 
3 x 6 Italian Light Horse with lance
3 x 6 Italian Mounted Crossbow 

508 Infantry,  156 Cavalry, 3 Guns, 676 Figures

The above photo shows you the battlefield from the opposite end of the table, looking towards Forli at the end of the table on the right.

For rules we used our usual adapted Furioso. When we ran it at the show we had 3 of the 5 players who had never used ghe rules before and they were pretty much upto speed in a couple of turns.

How did we get on ?

The first thing to say is that my priority at a show is to talk to people and bring a bit of life to the game, so getting the game finished or even close to a conclusion is not always possible.

On the Papal left, Cesare Borgia did a bit of remonstrating outside Forli but never really pushed an assault at the walls which would have been interesting. Cesares Cavalry drifted towards the centre of the table towards the Condottieri attached to the German Mercenarys, this ended up in a pretty even stalemate.

The main action happened in the centre with the huge 128 figure Landsknechts block smashing into the two Swiss Blocks. Absolute carnage ensued but with the additional Polearm units the Swiss were able to flank the large Geman block and come out as winners.

The far side of the table saw the two large Cavalry forces clash, it was no surprise to see the French victorious  but the Italians were able to put on a decent fight of it and hold the French Infantry up so that they never got close to getting into action.

So with the Swiss punching through the centre it was a victory for Cesare, but the most important thing was everyone, including the new players enjoyed the game.

A Review of the Game and Scenario 

I always like to look back after a game and see what happened and how if at all it could be improved. As I said at the start of the post this was very much a rush job. The scenario was intended to be part of my Italian Wars book for Helion but since I have handed over responsibility for that book I haven't worked on it any further.

Usually I would play test a few times before releasing but as it wasn't going to be used in the book it was a great place to start and this effectively was the first play test.

On reflection I think the game was pretty well balanced, the Sforza Forces definitely didn't take advantage of their Firepower or use their light Cavalry to their best advantage however the Swiss Centre was a lot stronger than its opposition so I will be looking to bolster the German Mercenarys for the next game.

I will be taking the game (with modifications) to my local show in Pudsey. Recon will be happening at Pudeey Civic Hall on December 3rd 2022, come and say hello.

Sunday 13 November 2022

Never Mind the Billhooks Deluxe Rules Review


Welcome to another Yarkshire Gamer Book Review. Link to the Utubes below

In this episode I look at the new Deluxe version of the Wars of the Roses wargames rules which have been revised and expanded to cover different periods either side of that conflict including my favourite, the Italian Wars.

I have been sent this review copy by the lovely people at Wargames Illustrated but as you would expect with Yarkshire Gamer I haven't let that cloud my judgement and I go through both the positives and negatives (in my opinion) of the book.

Overall I'm impressed, great production values, lots of great examples to guide you through the rules, lots of scenarios and background.

I'm not a fan of the Italian Wars section, but thats probably because its my favourite period and I have my own views on it. Who wants to see their primary period of gaming relegated to 10 pages in a rule set for an earlier period 😆

A solid 8 out of 10

Regards Ken

The Yarkshire Gamer

The book is avaliable here

#wargames #wargaming #historical #tabletopgames #tabletopgaming #hobbies #games #history #nevermindthebillhooks #waroftheroses

Tuesday 8 November 2022

Naval Wargaming Shell Splash Tutorial


A lot of people have looked past the 1/700 WW2 Naval Ships that have taken me weeks to build and paint and said "Oh, I like those Splash Markers, how did you you make them ?" So to hopefully get that question out of the way I have put together a tutorial on how I made them. This is avaliable on the Yarkshire Gamer Utubes Channel with an embedded copy of the video below.

I'm not going to detail the whole process below, merely summarise it, to start with here is a list of the equipment I used 

Pin Vice Drill with 3mm bit

Craft Knife

Sprue Cutters

Cooker Hob Lighter (or cigarette lighter)

Airbrush (not essential can be Rattle Can or brush)

Sealant Gun

An old nail (rust not essential 😉)

Drybrushing brushes

Old or cheap paint brush

And a list of material used

40mm diameter 3mm MDF round bases (for small splashes)

Old plastic sprues from model kits

Model Glue (Revell Contact Professional)

Plaster (Polyfilla / Spackle)

Vallejo Acrylic Gloss Varnish 

White / Ivory Paint

Evo Stick Clear Sealant 

Miniature Paints 24 Navy Blue 

Vallejo Dark Blue 70930

Vallejo Dark Blue Grey 70904

Vallejo Ivory 70918

AK Interactive Water Foam effect 

I recommend you watch the video for the full tutorial, below is a summary of the Destroyer Shell splashes.

1. Drill a hole in the centre of the mdf base

2. Cut a piece of old model sprue to about 5.5cm

3. Use a craft knife to widen the hole gradually until the sprue just fits through (as tight as possible)

4. Push the sprue through so about half a cm goes through to the other side

5. Using the lighter heat the short end of the sprue until it starts to melt, immediately place the base on a flat surface and push down hard so that the heated sprue flattens against the base forming a "nail head". Remember to remove quickly from the flat surface to prevent it sticking. Repeat if necessary.

6. Cut random lengths of sprue with a maximum height of the sprue in the base. Take 6 of the sprue lengths, heat up part of the sprue so that you can bend the top of them at random angles.

7. Glue the bent sprues around the outside of the central fixed sprue to form a tree like frame.

8. Use the craft knife to spread some Polyfilla on the base around the bottom of the sprues to make a sea surface. Wait for the plaster and glue to dry overnight.

9. Paint the sprue tree White, I use an airbrush but a normal brush or spray can is fine, make sure what ever method used that the sprue is completely covered.

10. Paint the plaster with Gloss Varnish, it will seal the plaster and provide a base for the sea.

11. Using the Sealant Gun cover the sprue tree with clear Sealant 

12. Use the nail to "tease" out the Sealant into small points trying to disguise the ends of the sprues. Leave to dry overnight.

13. Paint the base with the Miniature Paints Navy Blue and then drybrush with the Dark Blue followed by the Dark Blue Grey and highlight with Ivory.

14. Drybrush the dry Sealant with Ivory 

15. Finish the base with Water Foam effect around the base of the splash and on the ends of the sprues.

Sit back and admire your handy work, take a photo and copy me in 😀

Monday 7 November 2022

Yarkshire Gamer Podcast - Episode 32 - Chris Flowers - Doing It, In the Grand Manner


Here is my 32nd attempt at getting a Podcast right !

Today my guest is another old friend and fellow Big Gamer, Chris Flowers. Last week I got on my bike and went to speak with him face to face in his wonderful wargames room.

You can access the podcast from any major Podcast Host or direct from the link below

Chris grew up in a military family and stand by for a couple of awesome name drops at the start of the show.

Chris has been putting on large display games on the UK Wargames Show Circuit since the early 1980s. Beginning with the S.O.D.S group he was part of an amazing series of exclusively Napoleonic Games which were truly In the Grand Manner and a regular highlight at many of the events I attended.

Chris moved on to putting games on under his own name, then with the Bramley Barn Group and more recently with Legendary Wargames (see Episode 2 of this Podcast), he has diversified from solely doing Napoleonics to covering 1950s Cold War, Ancients and ACW at shows but his true love I think will always be games like Eylau and Waterloo.

All the regular features are here including a new Desert Island Wargame Section so sit back with a good brew and enjoy.

Chris doesn't have a website etc so there is no link this episode, you'll just have to go and see him at a show.

The previous episode with Giles Allison is now available on the Utubes 

Next episode will be a Catch Up so lets see who, from my previous guests answers the phone when I call.

Regards Ken

The Yarkshire Gamer