Normandy trip- The Mulberry harbour.

As request by Chris here are the photos of the remains of the Mulberry Harbour at Arromanches; Dad and I visited on the Tuesday of our holiday.

When we arrived the tide was fairly high up the beach but the remains of both the breakwater and the pontoons were still visible.

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We took a quick look on the beach to get a bit closer.

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We then took a wander around the other outside exhibits before going into the museum whilst the tide receded.

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A 5.5 inch gun- there are quite a lot of these preserved around Normandy.

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A section of the roadway that linked the pontoons with a little bulldozer on top.

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There is a gun emplacement up the hill from the port with a Sherman on top of it which gives a nice view of the bay so we took a walk up there.

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We then went into the nice little museum at Arromanches.

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Inside was the usual combination of models and artifacts; the former were difficult to photograph as they were under glass.

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By the time we had gone round the museum and watched the short video presentation in there the tide had gone out further revealing more of the Mulberry harbour.

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The heart wasn’t my work btw.

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Next Dad and I popped a couple of miles up the coast to see the gun battery at Longues Sur Mer but I’ll save that for another post.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

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A busy few days: Recon show, Necromunda, The Great War and Wargames magazines.

Last weekend I, with Paul, flew the flag for Pennine Megagames by taking the demo version of ‘Harrying of the North’; it is a simple map movement and battle board participation game.

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The Normans have to hoover up supplies whilst Saxons under Edgar the Etheling try to stop them. It is mainly to show off the combat mechanisms I plan to use in the future megagame. Be honest about it, whilst the game works, it take too long for what would be available in a megagame turn so it needs streamlining more. However, with Fall Blau on the horizon I am devoting my energies into that. I plan to take a demo version of it to the Hammerhead show at Newark and possibly Chillcon in Sheffield. Pleasingly the paper figures that I cut out seemed to be very popular with the punters at Pudsey. Given how little time they took to construct I’m really pleased with how they turned out.

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that my sense of nostalgia had been tweaked by Games Workshop’s reissue of Necromunda. Well my friend Jonathon has a copy so I popped round to have a game.

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Having got such fond memories of the original and gaming in my teenage years I was hoping that it lived up to the hype.

I quickly came up with a Goliath gang and got on with it, I’m pretty sure a few of the subtleties of the rules were missed but it was good to get a feel of the new version.

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The production quality is outstanding, as it should be for such a company, and the new figures are miniature works of art. My choices for the gang weren’t ideal and as the Escher were so very good at ranged combat I took heavy casualties until I got into close combat. Still it was a learning experience and I know what I’d do differently next time.

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I’m really tempted to get the game- sadly running out of space means I may not. I’d love to make a detailed vertical board for it but the question is where to put it… I guess I really should sort out my shed. It may be the impetus I need. Either way I may start with a Goliath gang of my own for a starter; it shouldn’t be too hard to find space for ten figures.

I also played a quick game of PSC’s The Great War with Evan. Given the kickstarter I mentioned has been funded it was good to get it on the table again. The scenario we chose to play was based on the famous action of a tank named ‘Fray Bentos’ at Passchendaele:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-one/10358335/WW1-The-siege-of-Fray-Bentos-at-the-Battle-of-Passchendaele.html

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My Germans, despite getting off to a good start, failed to achieve much. Aggressive infantry backed up by the immobile but still shooting tank completely outclassed me. Another game I’ll do better at next time….

I also picked up two of the three big wargaming magazines, it is not something I often do but they both had articles that looked interesting, the differences between the two are quite marked though.

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Wargames Illustrated has by far the better production but the depth of the articles left something to be desired: the Russo-Japanese one, whilst featuring some lovely photos was a bit shallow so to speak. The campaign on the fighting in Prussia in WW2 was interesting but could have done with some better editing. Great eye candy though but little in I’d refer back to later beyond the campaign.

Miniature Wargames has undergone a few changed from when I used to buy it; it looks far more professional now. It always had the best articles in but was often let down by poor photos. Under new owners and editorship that has changed. The reason I bought the magazine was that it featured an article on the Warsaw battle 1944 by Jim Webster, he is much under rated as a games writer in my opinion. I’ve always found his writing to be worth the price of admission alone. His ideas on gaming urban warfare are no exception and something I’ll try out on my own table top soon hopefully.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

 

 

The Last Romans: the megagame.

Last weekend saw the final game in the Pennine Megagame calendar: the Last Romans, designed by Paul Howarth. Set around the Mediterranean during the reconquest of the west by the Byzantium general Bellasarius. My role for the day was the control for the Sassanid empire, I was lucky to have a great team of players to watch over. Other teams covered the various outposts of governors of Justinian’s empire, Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Franks as well as a separate  court and Constantinople game; making  for a 50 player game.

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Play started with the eternal peace between Justinian and the Sassanids in force, for which the Byzantiums were paying gold every year to keep. This meant for quite initial turns for the Sassanids which allowed them to build up their army. Some combat experience was gained by attacking the Arabs to the south and the barbarians to the north. One general went incognito to lead a barbarian army to gain some experience in the rules system.

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Most of my day was spent checking the administration of the portion of the Sassanid empire that was in the game, using a  simple control panel and a worker placement system and also deal with any public works that were being built, competition to out do other teams in both quantity  and gaudiness (much glitter was used) was very much in evidence. Other than that is was the usual round of adjudicating on rules queries and making sure battles ran smoothly once the fighting between the Sassanids and Romans started. It was the Romans that broke the eternal peace first and then the counter attack by the Sassanids proved quite strong. Their ambassador player, was so silver tongued that he managed to exact heavy reparations from the new emperor for breaking the treaty even in the face of ongoing counterattacks.   A plague event, that even killed Justinian, did mean that the Roman provinces at the eastern end of the Med suffered badly, so much so that by the end of the game they were looking to be subsumed in the Sassanid empire as vassal states, such was their neglect by Constantinople.

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My duties to the Sassanids meant that I was pretty ignorant as to what was happening in the rest of the game, I couldn’t tell you anything, for example, about the very popular Chariot races and entertainments that were a big part of the Constantinople game. However, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves so it was a good way to round off a very good year of Pennine Megagames.

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

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

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.

 

 

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/