An Update… and Normandy holiday pics…

… I figured it was about time for one.

 

The big news is that I’ve finally finished my MA in Military History and done well enough for a distinction, next step is to try and find the funding for a PHD as I’m wanting to expand my MA thesis.

 

I’ve also had a holiday to Normandy, was a nice road trip with my Dad. The extended family was down in the New Forest area for my Uncle’s wedding so it was an easy trip across the Channel to visit Normandy. All in it was only a week long trip but I managed to make the most of it.

Friday- Down to New Forest  but called in at Bletchley Park.

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A replica working Bombe.

I’d not been before – I was really impressed with it, I don’t think we saw all of it as it we only had a few hours but I’ll certainly be back. The scale of the operation was staggering in terms of the number of radio messages being intercepted and decoded.

Saturday- Uncle’s wedding.

Sunday- drove to Portsmouth for the ferry over to Ouistreham and then on to the holiday cottage.

Monday- Sword beach, The No. 4 Commando and Le Grand Bunker museum.

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Sword Beach looking west along the coast.

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The Museum entrance with a couple of artillery pieces outside.

Tueday- Arromanches and the Mulberry Harbour, the DDay Museum there and the Longues Sur Mer battery.

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The remains of one of the Mulberrys.

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A casemate and gun at Longues- Sur- Mer.

Wednesday- Point Du Hoc and Omaha beach.

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An open gun pit at Pointe Du Hoc.

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Omaha beach looking East.

Thursday- Peagasus Bridge, Gondree Cafe, Airbourne Museum and Merville Battery before getting the overnight ferry back to Portsmouth.

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The new bridge and memorials.

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The original bridge in the grounds of the museum.

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A casemate at Merville.

Friday- Arrived in Portsmouth, saw the new RN aircraft carrier and lots of Type 45 destroyers as we docked then drove and hour west to see Bovington Tank Museum.

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The biggest ever ship for the Royal Navy.

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Just one of the halls at Bovington Tank Museum.

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Some of the heavy making up the Tiger exhibit at Bovington.

As you can see it was a pretty packed holiday. It was the first time I’d visited any WW2 battlefield; it was something I took a lot from and will be something I’ll be repeating next year (probably around my birthday time). The deeper appreciation of the events and sacrifices you get from touring places yourself cannot be overstated. Omaha beach was particularly poignant as it was so quiet being midweek and the end of the season. That said the sites that had an American connection were busier than those which did not. As a whole the museums were great (Bovington especially so as well as the new one at Pegasus Bridge) I took hundreds of photos so if people are particularly keen I’ll do a blog entry on each site…?

On to the gaming side of things:

Pennine Megagames is going from strength to strength at the moment. Next years calendar has been decided upon with just a few dates to confirm. Starting with Cockroaches, Copper and Cows (the Mexican Revolution) we then go to The Shot heard around the Universe (rebellious planets in space). June sees a trip to the Eastern Front with Fall Blau ’42, an operational game being developed by myself and Matt. This will be followed by Megamunda– as the name suggests a SF game blending Necromunda and Judge Dredd. Everybody Dies III: Playing with Fire adds more dragons to the well known Game of Throne setting. Finally, double dealing and espionage in 60s/70s South America in Juntas sees out the year. I’m really enjoying getting my teeth stuck into all the operational accounts of 1942 to develop the game engine for the Fall Blau game.

In parallel to this I am working up a Post Norman Invasion of 1066 game that I’ll submit for consideration next year. Set in 1069 it sees the Normans try to cement their control of the North against the last Saxon attempts to retake the crown. The combat system got an early run out at the recent Fiasco show in Leeds. It will be making an appearance next at Recon in Pudsey in early December if anyone wants to catch it.

I’m rather pleased with how my first attempt at making a map has come out.

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I used the paper figures from the Helion book series. I’m really pleased with how well the turned out (I’ll put them in another blog entry) I manged to get two decent sized armies done in a week.

The next expansion to the rather good The Great War board game is up on Kickstarter at the moment:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1992455033/richard-borgs-the-great-war-french-army-expansion?ref=user_menu

I’ve backed this, it looks like it will be bringing in some interesting new rules, the French expansion is set around Verdun which got my interest straight away.

I’m awaiting the new Next War: Poland game to come out, I’ve played the Korea and Indo- Pakistan versions and enjoyed them so this is a must buy. They are not the easiest rules to play but they scratch my modern chit and hex itch.

Oddly for me I’ve been all misty- eyed and nostalgic for my youth now that Games Workshop have reworked Necromunda. I’m seriously considering picking it up, however cost and storage will be an issue.

On to figures I’m still plugging away with my 20mm WW2 and modern figures. I’m currently working up a linked series of scenarios to tie smaller 20mm skirmishes to a big 6mm battle. My Cold War 6mm collection is still a work in progress, some 2nd hand acquisitions have led to an Arab Israeli in 1973 side project. That and I keep eyeing up the new Baccus WW2 miniatures.

Naval and Air war is still going along. Though more movement will be made on those projects when I go to a show next and pick up some more bits from Tumbling Dice. Getting some 6mm figures to tie into my Russo- Japanese warships is another possibility I’m considering at the moment.

All in all plenty to keep me occupied- thanks for reading.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

 

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East German Army- the close-ups.

As requested here are some closeups of the DDR NVA figures. I’m not normally keen on showing closeups as my camera is better than my painting technique but these have turned out alright.

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I’ve not re- photographed all of them- just a few that caught my eye.

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Here is a quick rundown of how I painted them.

  1. Undercoat figure in grey from a spray can.
  2. Paint entire figure Vallejo Model Color (VMC) German Cam Beige.
  3. Paint skin areas Vallejo Panzer Aces Flesh (VPA) Base, plain and netted helmest VMC Military Green, Boots VMC black, NBC bag VMC Dark grey, Pack roll VPA Canvas, water bottle cover VMC Flat Earth and the Entrenching tool VMC Chocolate Brown and then VPA New wood.
  4. Wash entire figure in Army Painter Strong tone.
  5. Go back over all the uniform and helmet cover in VMC German Camo Beige and all the detail parts with with step colours.
  6. Paint weapon and bayonet VMC black.
  7. Add vertical rain drop lines with thinned down VMC flat Brown.
  8. Highlight Weapon with VMC dark grey and VPA New wood. Paint AK magazines VMC Orange Brown.
  9. Highlight Flesh with VMC Flat flesh and then VPA Flesh highlights. Wash with Army Painter soft tone watered down a little.
  10. Blackline with VMC Black.
  11. Very lightly drybrush the entire figure with VMC deck tan.
  12. Varnish with VMC Matt Varnish.
  13. Base as appropriate.

The above is my usual technique for speed painting 20mm figure with more care and detailed taken given that the figures are bigger. I didn’t take and step by step photos- it is something I could do a future post on….

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

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Some Middle Eastern Scenery

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Just finished these pieces of terrain – all with a desert theme. I’d popped into the local model shop and bought a 4 pack of OO gauge shipping containers from their model railway ranges. I decided to do 3 for my middle east tables (the fourth is being built into an urban barricade).

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The small adobe building is from Blotz. It was quickly textured with a mix of filler and textured spray paint.

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The last building I’m rather fond of. It was an MDF kit from Sarissa- Precision. It has a more Middle East urban feel to it, I’m planning to pick up more from the same range.

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Cheers,

 

Pete.

http://www.knightwing.co.uk/

http://blotz.co.uk/

https://www.sarissa-precision.com/

Still Not Over By Christmas- a WW3 Megagame.

A couple of Saturdays ago I was in Sheffield for another Pennine Megagames’ event, one I had been particularly looking forward to for a long time (in fact since the game first ran down in London) Rob Cooper’s Still Not Over By Christmas.

As you’ll have gathered from my previous post it was that classic scenario of the Cold War going hot with the Soviets invading westwards. I choose to play the Soviet Air Commander (thus fulfilling a wish I’ve had since I started megagaming 6 years today of overseeing the aircraft) I had two players underneath me who would do the actual fighting as well as an assistant on the day. Things had started a few weeks before the game day with an online planning game run through Facebook, various groups were set up for the players to plan their initial attacks and starting dispositions. I had been fortunate enough to attend the pre- game briefing for game control so I had a good understanding of the game mechanics (not that much of an unfair advantage as one of the NATO air players was present too). From this I was acutely aware that the NATO planes had a threefold advantage. Firstly, their best planes such as F15s and F16s were rated highly, the only thing I had that could equal that was the MiG29 and I had fewer of those than NATO had of eagles and Fighting Falcons. Secondly, their repair rating was better meaning that had much more chance to come back from damage, in the rules things were only permanently lost when they failed a repair roll. Thirdly, NATO had abundant stocks of advanced air to air missiles meaning that they fired first in an engagement, again the Warsaw Pact had some but nowhere near as many. Accordingly, my strategy was to hammer the airfields that the aircraft were being staged out of being as it was easier for us to defeat them on the ground rather than in the air. The number of airbases that we took out affect the number of aircraft that could be flown. By doing this I hoped to keep the balance to contested in our favour, not so much to provide CAS to our own troops but to deny the enemy the same, especially as this would protect the bridges that our follow-on Corps and Divisions would be using to get to the front. Not losing in the air meant we could win on the ground.

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Photos of the counters taken at the pre- game briefing.

 

Air combat was fought with a dogfighting stage leading to an assessment of who had air supremacy, superiority or whether it was contested, this then determined the number of aircraft that got through to perform Close Air Support, Recce or Deep Strike missions, the gamble was that you had to commit aircraft to these tasks before the dogfighting took place; assessing your likelihood of victory was key.

My main job in the preplanning game was to decide upon the initial strategic attacks as the air forces were pretty much set into their north and south groupings. My suggestion was to hit hard and first with a two-day Chemical Weapon strike, we were only allowed to use them for two successive days so I figured a devastating strike on the airfields would get us off to a good start. Also by using them at the start it was be seen, hopefully, as less escalatory than going to WMDs mid game. If anything, we could step down and de- escalate… Similarly, the Spetsnaz cards I had to use were targeted on HQs to give us a slight edge.

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Jason (CinC) and Adrian (my 2iC) plotting on the mini map.

On the day itself as I had a high command roll I was with the CinC sequestered in an upstairs room a long way from the map the game was being fought on. As such we had to make do with second hand reports and camera phone photos in the guise of recce pics; this was aided by a WhatsApp group set up of all of the pact players for quick messages. We were fairly confident that our initial attacks would go well as we had activated a lot of our reserve forces to get as much possible forward as soon as possible. The down side to this was that the NATO forces facing us would be aware that something was coming.

The first CW strike went disastrously, all 6 SCUDs that were delivering the chemical agents to airfields in the northern half of the map missed their targets, causing significant civilian casualties. The second round were more successful but by then the fallout was not just radioactive. The US President, represented here by control, authorised the firing of a single tactical nuclear weapon as a punishment for and a warning against any further civilian casualties. Accordingly, one of our Corp HQ units got vaporised. In the command room there was a rather hurried discussion on how to respond; to go by the doctrine in the handbook we should have responded with 24 weapons targeting HQs and airbases. This, quite obviously, would be a big escalatory step, so with one eye to the meta game we decide to just ask for permission to respond with a single tactical weapon. This was granted and a NATO HQ went the way of ours.

 

For the rest of the game however I made sure that a list of potential targets and enough planes to carry out the missions were kept in reserve by my two air commanders, a few SCUDs were kept back for that purpose too.

For the rest of the game my job mostly consisted of deciding when and where to put the reinforcements. This was tied to where Jason as CinC wanted the main effort to be focused. At the highest levels of command in a megagame I find that coming up with a plan then reacting to the enemy and keeping on top of them with good decisions makes for a less stressful and more enjoyable day than the frantic activity at the map. One of the assets I had at my disposal was the Long Range Aviation aircraft, this could be potentially used to attack the UK mainland, the advantage of doing this was that it would hopefully withdraw some aircraft from the main European theater as well as take out some of the very capable F111s too. However, I was only prepared to launch such an attack if I had seen evidence that the RAF aircraft that had been slated for home defence had moved to join the European fight. My two Mig31 Foxhounds would be no match for all the Phantoms and Lightnings I expected to find there and if they then went on to shoot-down the Tu22 Backfire bombers I’d have a lot of explaining to do to someone before a reassignment to Siberia. Instead I just added them in to the normal fights to give a boost, although one Foxhound was given the special mission to try and breakthrough the fighter screen and go after a NATO AWACS aircraft, this would give us a big advantage in the combat. This, against all the odds, worked, medals all round for the pilots. In fact, making medals for the players at the map did seem to have the desired effect, quite what the NATO players made of them is another matter.

 

On the ground the war went well, Denmark fell to a small, under- resourced but well-handled force and was removed from NATO, there should have been bigger political ramifications from this imo. Also, some VDV had a very short stay in France getting as far as Strasburg. In the best megagame tradition if it had gone on for another turn things would have decisively turned in the Soviets favour, our 2nd wave of ground forces would have entered combat, the anaemic Dutch counter attack would have been defeated and what’s more NATO was running out of all those fancy high tech weapons that were giving them the advantage. In fairness to NATO their deliberate targeting of our Warsaw Pact Allies meant we had political troubles of our own to contend with the resulting dilution of force. Also, a bit more could have been made of the big but narrow salient we created in the NATO centre. One of the differences between an open and closed map is that clever manoeuvres are harder to pull off: everything is visible to the observant player. As such concentration of force and a determination to follow things through often rewards more than an outflanking march that will be spotted.

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After the game we had a debrief: this blurry photo is the closest I got to the main map all game.

I really enjoyed SNOBC, very glad I played it and if the rumours of a follow- on game the year after next come to be true I’d love to reprise my role.

Cheers,

 

Pete.

http://www.penninemegagames.co.uk/