The Brewery takes shape

So, having planned that out I decided to leap straight in. I was originally going to build the loading bay from mounting board, but I soon realised that blue polystyrene would be easier. A few slices with the kitchen knife and we had the basic structure ready.

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I then used a 4.5″ boning knife to cut the steps. You don’t need any special tools for these jobs, just make sure the wife isn’t looking!
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Next I cut up a cornflake packet and made some bricks which I then applied with PVA. I went for a slightly longer brick than those on the building. I wanted to get the look of a blue Engineering brick which would be used where heavy load bearing ramps were being built. It also meant that they were easier and quicker to stick on. This is never going to look pretty; I am not a bricklayer and cardboard bricks are buggers to get straight, but the important thing to remember that it is an overall effect we’re looking at. You’re not competing for the “Golden Trowel”!

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With that done I added some signage, again in artists mounting board. You can use cornflake packets for this, but I prefer a heavier look to industrial signs. In the picture above, you can also see the loading bay doors I am making from cornflake packet. You’ll also note that on the single story building I have removed the lugs which held on the roof. We have crossed the roof Rubicon, there is no going back!
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For the main brewery building I am planning a corporate logo of large crown above the name of the brewery.
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Next I got out the hot glue gun and added an MDF base, a top to the loading bay, the doors to the loading bay and a set of pretty gates. The brewery is a modular set up, so the gates can but up against anything we fancy in future. As you can see, the draymen are at work already. It’s not breakfast time yet and my thoughts are already turning to beer. And the wife is out all day…

Eagle eyed readers will notice that the gate is a Warbases puiece which had previously graced the entrance to the churchyard at Le Port. Bloody Nazi’s will nick anything!
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And finally, here’s a view of what my brain is seeing when the whole thing is complete. There’ll be a bloody great chimney at the back of the main building and me rolling past on top of my T34-85. Up the workers, the bar is open!
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Right, time for some egg and bacon to celebrate a good day’s work before breakfast…

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Die Kronen-Brauerei Arrives

For a while now I have been looking for a suitable industrial building, or buildings, to represent a East Prussian brewery for our Chain of Command campaign. What better thing could there be to fight for than a brewery! I had a chat with the nice chaps at 4Ground and they had nothing immediately available, so my thoughts turned to model railway kit, but the scale was not quite right and the price was sky high. So, in time honoured style, I sat and twiddled my thumbs and did nothing about it.

Then, earlier this week a news item appeared on TMP which caught my eye. “Minibits Now Stocking MDF Buildings From Impudent Mortal” the headline read, and there was an image of a laser cut building of an industrial nature. So off I went to the Minibits web site and there were several more such buildings waiting there and waving at me enticingly. So I bought two.

Now if I am honest, I had never heard of Minibits, but looking at the address and getting an automated response from some bloke called Leon I realised that it was none other than Leon of Pendraken Miniatures (and Werthers Original advert) fame. This was reassuring as I know what jolly decent chaps the Pendraken lads are, and sure enough a parcel arrived today with the buildings in. Great service. What made it even better was the fact that I had a filthy hangover and was generally doing nothing but feeling sorry for myself, so here was a project I could dive into with gusto.
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With one bound I had the industrial container of PVA ready. I unwrapped the first package to reveal a two storied industrial building which was going too be the main brewhouse and offices. I made sure to collect and keep the little wooden bits which were in the windows as these make great bricks for rubble. The model was remarkably straight-forward, which is handy as I am a halfwit at the best of times.
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A quick bad of PVA here, a dot there and suddenly I was halfway through. After one minute!
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And then a minute later I WAS finished. At least the walls and internal floors were done. A few elastic bands were applied to hold the whole thing in place while it dries.
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Then on to the next one. A single story building which is the barrel store and malthouse.
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Even simpler this one as it’s just one storey. So again the whole thing was done in a few moments and more elastic bands applied.
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And here they are with their lids on.
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Now, I absolutely love the buildings, the build time is fantastic as they literally just fit together like a dream. I personally feel that MDF buildings have their limitations. They are absolutely perfect for some things – wooden buildings for example – but they can’t do everything absolutely perfectly. The roofs on these buildings, and indeed any MDF buildings, leave me a bit cold. I am always reminded of the lugs on the Airfix Waterloo farmhouse kit which stood out like a sore thumb. I am considering cutting off the lugs on the model and making a removable roof in artists mounting board which will fit nice and flushly. That will involve some tedious tiling work, but it may well be worth the effort. We shall see. I’ll certainly be adding stuff like signage and general bric-a-brac to give the model some individuality.

As it is I now have two absolutely fantastic models which will, I trust, look great once painted up and based. These are very highly reccomended, especially when combined with the great service one can expect from Minibits. You can find them and many other smashing items here: http://www.minibits.net/

One minor gripe: I can confirm that they do NOT cure hangovers.

Postscript
Right, a decision has been made on this. I am going to make the roofs myself and am picking up some laser curt roof tiles at Partizan on Sunday. I’ve also decided to do a small addition to the beer store area, adding a loading bay. This mean that I’ll have to create not just the raised area but also replace one of the large windows with a set of doors, as shown below in my planning diagram.
Conversion
I have ordered a large chimney from a model railway supplier on EBay which will be added at the back of the main brewery building and I am looking to get hold of a set of 4Ground stairs to add to the interior of that building. Ideally I’d like to find something to represent large brewers copper vats for the interior to really complete the brewery look. A selection of barrels will be pretty simple, Renedra do a nice set. I’ve already acquired a diecast brewery delivery lorry made by Lldeo. All in all this is turning into a fun project and, remarkably, the hangover has gone!

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After the Storm…

It had been brutal, that battle for the German outpost line where so many of my brave Soviet soldiers had died. At the start of this, the third campaign game, I had waited to allow the few of my men in dressing stations to be returned to my platoon before I could push on. Even then I was left with no choice but to reorganise. I put my two LMG teams into one small four man squad under Yefreitor Gribanov, then put Olenev in charge of the other six men who were all SMG armed. My spare NCO, Yefreitor Gostravnikov I put in charge of the Maxim team that had come to support us. It was going to be a tough fight, possibly to the death, I could only hope that my luck was better than last time. I had rolled a 1 for support, so I knew the Germans would get absolutely nothing, but they did have one minefield or barbed with section as a result of being left to strengthen their positions in the last campaign turn.

I rolled well to begin with and got the maximum number of free moves with my Patrol Markers and then got a higher force morale, 9 as against the German 8, which allowed me the first move in the Patrol Phase. Nick told me afterwards that he was set on getting into the farmyard and not being restricted to the rear ridge and he went hell for leather towards that objective, realising too late that my Patrol markers which had concentrated on the central road suddenly swung to the left. Again I had elected to use just three Patrol Markers and was consequently more nimble than the Germans. The end result was that with him focussing on his left I was able to skew the battlefield round to my left. At the end of the Patrol phase the table looked like this.
A1

As can be seen, the forward-most Soviet jump-off point was going to be very close to Nick’s base line. Obviously he was going to put a minefield in the woods and block my easy route to victory.

A2

Nope. Barbed wire. And his barbed wire didn’t stop me deploying in phase one into the wood, past the wire and just 5″ from the baseline. Naturally Nick opened long range fire, but I was deployed tactically and it did no damage. In the next phase I rolled 3D6 and ran for the line, Remarkably I only rolled a total of 5 on 3D6, but it was just enough. A swan dive for the line, the ball was down and it was five points for the try. The red team won more convincingly than Llanelli Scarlets on a good day.

What a contrast to the first game, and proof again that the Patrol Phase is not just about seizing your own objectives but about denying ground to your opponent. Of course, there will be those who say “Yeah, but if I went to my club and got a game that lasted ten minutes I’d be a bit fed up”. There is no hiding from the fact that campaigns will throw up different situations to your usual 1500 points bash. You are going to get some games where, for the sake of the bigger picture, you don’t get a complete evening gaming. In this case it wasn’t an issue, we just shifted the terrain around and got straight on with the next game. Failing that, you can always go to the pub.

So, no casualties and we needed to see what impact that had. Well, Leytenant Timorenko wins his first game so that’s good. His Colonel is clearly a hard man to impress as his opinion remained solid at +1. The men’s opinion didn’t change either. On the German side the CO’s opinion dropped by one to -1. Maybe appointing a man from outside the platoon wasn’t a good idea afterall. The men were more forgiving, they knew thta it was a misty morning, a blast of firing and then Ivan was through on their flank. What else could they do but withdraw to their man line of defence? So they remain at -2. Feldwebel Mann finds himself in a thoughtful mood. No doubt thinking about how long it’ll be before he gets killed.

But on to happier things! I mentioned in the run up to this campaign that I would be hand crafting a beautiful set of Soviet jump-off points with all sorts of spare bits and pieces. Well, I decided against it, as you may remember reading here: http://toofatlardies.co.uk/blog/?p=2744

I already had some great jump-off markers in resin, so I cut off the unwanted weapons with the bread knife and stuck on some Tamiya 1:48th bits. And they are now finished. Here’s a snap.
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I’m very pleased I didn’t waste time and money reinventing the wheel. These fact that we went for the highest quality resin means that it is very “carveable” as well as being pretty much shatter proof if dropped. As it was, adding a few Soviet weapons cost me pennies. Job done!

In next campaign game I’ll be attacking the German main defensive positions around Waldstadt.

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On the Outskirts of Waldburg

After our first patrol action game the Soviets now had the opportunity to probe against the German outpost line. Their objective for this game was not to destroy the enemy, but simply to find a route past them. How difficult could that be?

We began the game with the Soviets rolling for support and getting to choose from List 3. However, as they were at a -2 for their patrol rating against the Germans, they could bring that up to List 5. I selected the Maxim MMG to provide a decent base of fire from List 3 and a flamethrower team from List 2. The Germans were defending so could only select from List 1 and elected to grad a pile of additional Panzerfausts as they were clearly worried that I’d be pushing up with armour support. At this point neither Nick nor I knew our opponent’s choice of supports.

German Force morale was high, 10 despite their loss in the last game, whereas mine was at 9. The Germans had four men dead and two in hospital, so they fielded Ulrich Goltz’s squad as a single four man LMG team whilst Brecht and Plotz were both at full strength. The table was set up to reflect the rather ramshackle rural estates of East Prussia, with plenty of open ground and heavy forests.
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The game began with the Patrol Phase in which I elected to use just three Patrol Markers in the hope of getting a speedy advance to a decent position from which to jump-off the attack. I haven’t get my Soviet Patrol Markers done yet, so used my green Allied ones. I’ve marked the final positions of the Soviet ones in red and the Germans’ four markers in blue. That all ended up thus:
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This resulted in German jump-off points here, marked in blue:
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And Soviet ones here marked in red:
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My objective here was, as mentioned to try to get as far forward as possible. My SMG teams need to be able to get up close and personal and I was hoping for a sneaky rush for the German line. I hadn’t got anywhere near the farm but was pleased with my jump-off point on the flank which was at least half way down the table. A minor victory. Or so it seemed.

Now, I speak much about working through phases, about putting together a coherent structured attack, with a base of fire established in a good position in order to shoot in the attack. I am endlessly smart-arsed about how this should be a process that cannot be rushed – you need to put one brick on top of another and all that stuff. So, throwing all this out of the window, I attempted to bounce my opponent out of his position with a highly risky bit of kidology.

With the first phase mine I rolled 53322 and deployed the Maxim gun team in the open covering the Germans positions on the ridge. I put my platoon leader, Stanislav Azarov, with them and he put them on Overwatch. I then put Evgeny Olenev’s squad on tactical by the orchard wall. All I needed was for Nick to keep his men, or at least some of his men, hidden for enough time to work my way forward and assault in with SMGs firing. Or maybe get a crap roll on his command dice…
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Which, of course, he didn’t do. With a roll of 43333 he deployed his entire force and opened fire from the ridge with two of them. The MG team was riddled with bullets, four men falling and Azarov taking a light wound for the Motherland. Bollocks! All of a sudden my cunning plan looked like a disaster.

Seizing the moment, Azarov yelled to the last remaining man on the Maxim”Keep firing Comrade, destroy the fascists!” before slipping away to do something important he’d rather forgotten about.
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(N.B. Only one man was on the Maxim at this time, but there are two blokes on the base, so the photo is not a realistic representation of events. However, it did allow for a nice musical interlude)

Meanwhile Olenev pushed up into the orchard and Varushkin and Gribanov arrived with their squads. The arrival of those two was fortunate as with Azarov forward they may well not have come forward as required, but they did. What is noteworthy here is that with all of Fatty’s men deployed I now knew where they were, and, just as importantly, were not. So I was looking to shift the axis of my attack to the left and down the main road. Not ideal as it was a bit open, but it would at least allow me to make more choices when I got to the farm.
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Predictably the Germans finished off the Maxim team in their next phase with Feldwebel Feldtmann rallying off the weedy amount of shock the misplaced machine gun had caused. Plotz’s squad begin firing into the orchard causing shock on Olenev’s men but no dead.

Joy of joys, I get a double six in the next phase and Olenev’s men gun down Goltz’s LMG team killing some and routing the others, Goltz rolling so enthusiastically he literally ran off the table as he broke. German force morale drops to 8, the same as Soviet morale after the Maxim was chewed to bits. Hurrah for the workers and peasants of the Red Army!
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Meanwhile Varsuhkin rushed his men forward down the road.
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My joy was somewhat short-lived as with the Maxim gone the Germans focussed their fire onto the squad in the orchard who, predictably, decided that things were too hot and fell back with an unpleasant amount of Shock.
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The Germans now focussed on dominating the terrain from the ridge, putting their units on overwatch and generally rallying off all of their shock. Meanwhile I loafed about looking for a chink in their Teutonic armour. I should point out that the Germans on the ridge are in fact in the wood, but some useless fat sod has moved the trees so his sausage-like fingers can move the toys about. One really cannot get the staff!

Squad 3 under Gribanov moves up to support and behind them the flamethrower team is moving up.
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Oh, look, there they are at the back! Rather stupidly I had been rushing them up with three dice of movement which rather disorganised them, not ideal without a leader to rally the shock off!
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Meanwhile, somewhere in Corporal Varushkin’s small brain a plan was crystalising. He was trapped on the road with nowhere to go. If he could slip into the ruined farmhouse and get his LMG going, he could allow the flamethrower to come up and then it would be frying tonight! He slipped through the farm gate and led his men forward with an evil Soviet chuckle.
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But with an equally evil NSDAP smirk Gefreiter Richard Brecht led forward his squad from the heights and began firing into the small farmyard, taking down one of Varushkin’s men as he moved forward.
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But what this evil Nazi had failed to appreciate was that Sergeant Azarov had not been washing his socks while all of this had been going on. With stirring speeches and several patriotic renditions of popular songs about turnip production on the Dniepr he had inspired Olenev’s men back into action. Long live the valiant turnips of the Belarus region!
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A desperate firefight was occurring across by the farm as Varushkin attempted to exhort his men to great deeds. For his trouble a bullet to the head ended his war. But on the ridge Plotz’s squad was under pressure. As casualties mounted his men went to ground, pinned. Only the intervention of Feldtmann stopped a rout but, like the brave Varushkin, Feldtmann paid with his life, dying in a hail of bullets as he reorganised the squad to form a single LMG team with the survivors.

Caught in a crossfire, no escape from reality, Varushkin’s men routed from the farm, just as Gribanov’s men were being cut up by Brecht’s machine gun team with fire across the farmyard. With Azarov advancing on his flank Brecht was holding on until the last moment before retiring, a risky business, but these were desperate times.
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By now German force morale was down to 5 and the Soviets were at 2, but still they kept trying to come on. One final advance could defeat the Germans and very well wipe them out. The flamethrower was advancing with the utmost caution (try throwing a 1 when you need it!), but Azarov was coming forward back into the orchard.

And then, from nowhere, came a barrage of 8cm mortar rounds. Nick had rolled four 6′s, ended the turn and got a random event. And naturally it landed smack bang on Azarov’s advancing squad. I didn’t take any photos, I was too busy crying. Azarov was blown to smithereens by the first round and Soviet morale collapsed to zero and the remnants of my platoon streamed back to their starting position.

It had been a bloodbath. Despite my complete balls up and stupidly optimistic (arrogant) deployment, the Germans has still lost nine men and their platoon leader. I had lost 16 men including Sergeant Azarov and Corporal Varushkin. But the Germans held the ground and were able to rescue some of their men who had just been knocked out or simply gone to ground, leaving their losses at just one man actually dead and two in hospital. For me, my wounded were rounded up and despatched by the victors. My final total was eight men actually dead and four in hospital for the next game.

What had been interesting was that Nick had on at least four occasions considered withdrawing in order to save his force, as it was he stuck it out and claimed a big win. Fat bastard.

But what of the campaign? Well, My CO’s opinion has dropped to +1 whilst my mens’ opinion is back to zero. Nothing terrible here. The CO has decided that neither of my remaining NCOs is up to commanding the platoon, and he has assigned a very junior twenty year old Lieutenant, Boris Timorenko from Vladivostok, to take charge as his first assignment at the front. Sergei Gostravnikov, a 26 year old Siberian mechanic has been promoted to lead Varushkin’s squad. I shall miss Varushkin. He was an intelligent and brave leader and at 39 was the old man of the platoon. How many more friends will die before this campaign is over?

As for the Germans, Their CO is neutral about their performance an improvement on before, but the men are increasingly unhappy, taking the loss of Feldtmann badly. They stand at -2. Their CO has also transferred an NCO in from another company, Feldwebel Thomas Mann from Hannover. At 25 years old he brings up the average age of the platoon. Meanwhile Constantine Ostermann, a 21 year old from Bonn has taken over Goltz’s squad. “Unlucky” Goltz always felt like a bit of a Jonah and nobody wept or sang “Ich hatt einen Kameraden” as they slung his body into a lime pit. There were no time for tear in East Prussia.

But in a workers apartment on the Rhein-allee in Mainz, and on a small farm just outside Flensburg in Schleswig Holstein two mothers wept.
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A totally absorbing and hideously violent game which both of us felt was on a knife edge throughout. I really paid the price for my daft deployment, but at the same time Nick said that he was under the cosh throughout. At this point I handed him the initiative for the next campaign turn – I wanted time to get what few wounded I had back in the line – while he was happy to then sit and strengthen his defences. So, the next game will see me try again to get past the German outpost line.

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A Patrol Action

So, the first campaign has been and gone, and what a cracker it was. Both Nick and I are really finding our feet with the new forces and “larger” terrain. As this is East Prussia I have tried to introduce more in the way of woodland and to leave fields larger than in Normandy.

By the time the game was ready to begin we had both selected our support options, but I’ll allow them to become apparent as the game progresses. The Patrol Phase was an interesting one, with both sides selecting just three Patrol Markers in favour of speed. The Germans focused on attempting to seize the Inn whilst the Soviets concentrated more on gaining the wood which could hide their movement. In fact the terrain “spun round” a bit, so the Soviets were all in the wood area, as can be seen with the Jump-off points here:
2

Whereas the Germans made a bit of a dog’s dinner with their deployment. One Patrol Marker sent to stop the Soviets penetrating too far into the wood was only partially successful but then ended up with a jump-off point on the table edge in the open – completely useless. The two other points were in the Inn yard, by the stables and along the hedge in the field.
1

At the start of the game my, Soviet, force morale was at 9 whereas Nick was at 8, so I had the first phase. I deployed two squads into the wood as close to the inn as possible along with the first of my supports, a flamethrower team. It is my belief that with the Soviet SMG squad you must keep pressure on the enemy, get into close range and try to seize and hold the initiative> If Nick could roll badly on his command dice at this early stage I was intending to capitalise on it.
3

In fact in Phase 2 Nick rolled three 6′s, ending the turn, a 3 and a 1. He deployed Gefreiter Ulrich Goltz’s squad into the Inn yard. He had been unfortunate that his patrols had failed to seize the Inn itself as a jump-off point, so getting into a firing position to shut down the wood must be his main priority.
4

In Turn 2 Nick got the first phase, rolling 64441, a truly terrible hand and precisely what I had been praying for. Undeterred he sent his MG42 team into the Inn to try to set up defences.
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My roll in Phase 2 was a beaut, 63331. Okay a double 6 could have been nice, but this was a cracker as it allowed all three of my squads to activate and a support team. I deployed Uri Gribanov’s third squad on my far right with a view to working them round the German flank.
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Then, with all guns blazing, Evgeny Olenev launched his charge on the Inn with the flamethrower moving up in support.
6

It was a fierce fight, but an inspection of the German figures showed that they had placed the MG42 at the back and couldn’t meet me with its full effect. I lost two men down and two points of shock including a light wound on Olenev himself. However, my SMGs caused four German dead and two shock, I advanced into the Inn to immediately enter close combat with the German riflemen in the yard. I lost one man and suffered one point of Shock but replied with four dead and three shock. as it was Gefreiter Goltz was wounded and knocked out in the yard while the remains of his squad routed away. At the end of the fight my Force Morale had fallen to 7 but the German morale was down to 5. At this point I had a wounded German NCO just yards away and a German Jump-Off Point just past him. With a bit of luck I could grab both and see my opponent’s morale spiral down. Uhraaah!
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Nick now rolled 55321 and deployed Jurgen Plotz’s squad into the stable to the rear of the Inn. Richard Brecht’s squad arrived in the German support option, an SdKfz 251 halftrack which immediately opened up on the flamethrower team who were lurking in the road. One man went down.
9

Suddenly the circumstances had changed. In the bar a wounded Olenev had too few men to go forward against Plotz’s squad, and any retreat was cut off by the halftrack. On a roll of 63211 I vascilated. Varushkin’s second squad went tactical in the wood whilst the flamethrower team slipped over the hedge to work round behind the stable. Gribanov moved up rather too cautiously for my liking and my second support option, a Maxim gun team, deployed into the wood.
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Now Nick used his 65332 to send the halftrack forward cautiously, brassing up Varushink’s position, while Plotz calmly placed his MG42 on overwatch and ran forward with two men to rescue the injured Gefreiter Goltz.

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With a roll of 65543 I was limited in my actions, but Leytenant Azarov deployed onto the table and shouted orders to get Gribanov to outflank the Inn and the Maxim through the woods to face off the half-track.

Now Nick rolls 44322 and used the 3 to bring Goltz in to the stable. That’s all he wants to do as he is not deploying his Platoon leader forward. More on that later. Suffice to say at this point that I kept moving to outflank the Germans in the next turn and set up the Maxim to try to drive off the halftrack and that in his next Phase Nick opted to voluntarily deploy from the action to conserve his strength.

It was a very interesting game and one Nick said he felt he had lost early on. His patrols had been diverted from securing the Inn by my activity in the wood and that was a critical error. In retrospect he wished that he’d simply held the stable with his first squad and established a base of fire facing off any troops in the Inn itself. He could then have occupied the Inn orchard and dominated that flank and covered the front of the Inn with the fast moving flexible squad in the halftrack. In the end he didn’t deploy Feldtmann onto the table as he knew he was pulling off as soon as he had rescued Goltz. Which he did perfectly.

For me the effectiveness of the SMG platoon was proven, if you moved fast and hit hard you could take a few hard knocks but still batter your opponent at the end of it. However, it also showed me that the platoon is only good at what it is good at. It is inherently weak in manpower and losses mount fast. It has little in the way that it can do against AFVs, so you need to hide sometimes and press on with the battle elsewhere. This involves deploying so that you can shift the weight of your attack as required. At the end of the day this is a force which can exploit opportunities and punish errors. Double 6′s and Chain of Command dice will be really powerful with these guys. Interestingly I got no double 6′s and never got a Chain of Command dice!

So, what are the implications of this game? Well, the Soviets have lost one man dead and another is in a field hopsital being patched up, as such he will miss the next game. Both my battalion commander and my men have a high opinion of Azarov’s leadership whilst his outlook has become cheerful.

Nick’s Germans have lost three dead and three men in hospital miss the next game for them. The German battalion commander is rather unimpressed with Feldtmann’s performance. His own men are more forgiving, but morale isn’t high. He, however, remains cheerful. How bad can things get. The only high point is that Plotz has been recommended for an Iron Cross second class for his bravery in rescuing Goltz. Well deserved and a joy to see in our first game of the campaign! As jazz loving Plotz would say, “Nice”.

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Meet the Gang ‘cos the Boys are Here…

So, the big day arrives. The first game of our only partially planned campaign starts with a patrol action in No-Man’s-Land in East Prussia. Before we report on the game, here’s a chance to meet the teams.

I the red corner, literally, we have Leytenant Stanislav Azarov, a 28 year old from Moscow who prior to the war studied at the Tekhnikum to work in logistics and distribution, primarily the shipment of produce from the collective farms to the cities as part of the great five year plan. He is unremarkable in looks but is a veteran leader who has served since Kursk. He begins the campaign in a relaxed frame of mind.
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Squad one is led by Evgeny Olenev, a farm boy from the Don region he is 27 years old and worked on a collective farm growing turnips before joining the army when his region was over-run by the fascists in 1942. He is a broad man of no great height and is a known killer of fascists.

Squad two is led by 39 year old Maxim Varushkin. A factory worker from Irkutsk he worked in an armaments factory until last year when, despite his age, he volunteered for service at the front. He is of average build.

Finally squad three is led by Uri Gribanov. Short and wiry Uri is 37 years old and was a tractor mechanic before the war in his home town of Khabarovsk. When the war began production changed to tanks and it was hoping to serve with the tanks he had built that dedicated communist Uri joined up.
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On the other side of the battlefield is Feldwebel Albert Feldtmann. A farmboy from Schleswig Holstein he joined the army straight from the Hitler Jugend, arriving at the front just after Stalingrad. At 5’8″ he is an intelligent looking youngster who hopes to go to agricultural college after the war. Despite all the trials and tribulations of war he remains cheerful.

Squad one is led by Ulrich Goltz, a townie from Mainz he is just 20 years old. His father works in an ammunition factory and he worries about the incessant air raids. He has just been promoted to led his squad after Obergefreiter Lorenz, a veteran who had served since 1939 was killed by a red sniper.

Squad two is led by Richard Brecht. a 22 year old from Munich. He joined the army straight from the Hitler Youth but has spent much of his war in France. He joined the unit recently after time in hospital for a minor injury suffered in Normandy. His old unit was disbanded after suffering 80% casualties.

Squad three is led by tall and wiry Jurgen Plotz, a 31 year old saxaphonist from Hamburg who has a passion for jazz. He was a minor star on the club circuit, playing as Joe Chicago and his band. Most of the boys are now dead, but he hopes to reform the band after the war and continue his career.

So, that’s how our two sides line up. Both sides are rated as regular troops and that gives the Soviets a -2 disadvantage in strength rating. This will be quite handy for getting them some much needed support to shoot them in to their objectives.

With both sides assembled, lets now look at the playing area for the first game of the campaign.

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We rolled a D6 once the table was set up and that tells us that the Soviets are coming on along the edge indicated. The Germans will be entering the table on the opposite edge. Or, more to the point, this will be where their Patrol Markers begin the game. We have rolled 5 for supports, so the Germans will select from List 3 and the Soviets, with a 2 point defecit, from List 5. What supports will we select? You’ll have to wait and see – as will we!

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In the Kessel – A Chain of Command Campaign

2014-05-16 14.07.41It’ll be no secret to regular readers of this blog that I have been building up my forces for a late war campaign on the Eastern Front and I am very pleased to say that I have pretty much finished both sides. We have our first game set up for tomorrow and the second on Monday with Nick taking charge of the Germans and the Soviets coming under my control.

I’ve been reading a fair bit Battleground Prussia by Prit Buttar to get me into the mood and that has an excellent chapter on the Heiligenbeil Pocket which caught my eye. With the Soviet onslaught in the East and Hitler’s lunatic orders to not give an inch of ground, the Germany army found itself systematically broken down into pockets, or Kessel to use the German term. What was interesting about this pocket was that it wasn’t centred on one of the large cities such as Konigsberg or Danzig, so I wouldn’t need to constrict a big urban area for gaming over. I also liked the fact that the main German objective was humanitarian, namely to hold the line for long enough for the civilian population to be evacuated by sea. For a start this is “nice” because it’s a bit fluffy and cuddly, but more importantly it provides a great opportunity to add some interesting issues to our scenarios. “Hold the bridge for as long as you can” is great, but here was an opportunity to add some additional time constraints with a field hospital being evacuated, or a column of civvies needing time to get away. These were all issues which would put the German player under pressure in order to replicate some of the stresses of life in the kessel.
Heil Detail
Now, period maps of East Prussia are pretty easy to come by on line and I could spend a lot of time doing a lot of research in order to pin down specific units to specific bits of ground. The problem there is that I have some new toys waiting to get onto the table. As a result I am going to start this campaign as a standard “No Map Campaign” and add detail as I progress. I know, for example, that the Soviet brief is to reach the coast and cut off the pocket from Konigsberg where a route currently still remains open whilst the German brief is to resist for long enough to get the civilians away. The first game in No-Mans-Land could be anywhere, so I am happy playing that tomorrow in order to get started.

A few changes to the basic set-up have already been made. For example I am tailor making the support lists to replicate what we know was available in the kessel. So the Germans will have plenty of panzerfausts but very few anti-tank guns or tanks. There are also some rule changes which reflect the use of some support options. Selecting Volkssturm or Hitler Jugend as supports is fine, but if you get them killed this is likely to have a serious affect on morale – afterall you’re here to help these people. On the Soviet side there are a number of issues which will affect the leader’s outlook, so if he wants to maintain his own self-respect and sanity he’ll need to be careful about how he controls his men. But more on that as we get there.

In our next post we’ll take a look at the forces involved. Got to rush now to get to the Post Office with all of your orders!

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Chain of Command at Carronade

Winter
News just in from our Lard Ambassador to Scotland is great news for anyone attending Carronade this coming weekend. Monty, our man north of the border, will be running two games of Chain of Command set in Operation Winter Storm, the drive to relieve Stalingrad in December 1942.

Monty’s two games are taken from the series of scenarios written to cover this operation and which we hope to publish in the near future.

GAME ONE – DEFENCE OF POKHLEBIN set on the 5th of December 1942 is running from 10:30 to 12:30. After securing KOTELNIKOVO, the main town and railway station serving their assembly area, 6th Panzer Division continued its build-up in preparation for the coming offensive. Because they had such a large area to secure given the ‘absence’ of other troops to secure the area for them, they opted to create a series of mutually supporting strongpoints backed up by a powerful mobile reserve. One such strongpoint was POKHLEBIN. In Game One, we see the Soviets attacking a Collective Farm in the vicinity of POKHLEBIN as both forces move into the area and seek to secure it for themselves.

GAME TWO – THE ROAD TO MAJORSKI is set on the same day and runs from 13:30 to 15:30. As the Soviets were attacking POKHLEBIN, other forces pushed past and continued towards KOTELNIKOVO. This took some of their forces towards MAJORSKI, where the initial advance was blocked by the German defenders. This game takes place as that pause comes to an end with both sides seeking to push forward.

Please do come and see Chain of Command in action and chat to Monty about these and our other rule sets.

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Nice, Normal Nazis

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With my Soviets nearly complete I have been turning my attention to some of the supports which will be available to the Germans for our late war campaign, and in particular stuff that is very late war specific. Some years ago when we were planning a Danzig 1945 game for Salute, I’d picked up an interesting book published by Helion called “In a Raging Inferno” about combat units of the Hitler Youth. More recently I’d got hold of a companion volume called Hitler’s Last Levy which covered the Volkssturm from 1944 onwards. Both of these are beautifully illustrated and well researched (Helion are an exceptional publisher, so this is only to be expected) but they are also rather sad volumes in that one is seeing children and elderly men being sent to their death to support a morally bankrupt regime who failed to distinguish the self-interest of their political creed from the good of the nation and its people. As a result the battles of 1945 in particular were nothing more than a pointless and cruel sacrifice.

Having said that, simply feeling uncomfortable about a subject is no reason to ignore it. Whilst I abhor National Socialism I see the banning of the swastika in a wargaming context as inherently foolish. To suggest that by not seeing something it ceases to exist, or that by showing a specific historical symbol suggests support for the policies associated with that is not just wrong, it insults the intelligence of the population at large. 99.999% of us are more than capable of distinguishing between a military modeler or wargamer who paints a swastika on the tail fin of an ME109 and a rabid lunatic who marches up and down the street under such a banner hurling racist abuse at those different to him. One deserves the full disapproval of the law, the other, in my opinion, does not. So, whilst I might find the idea of fielding old men and children it is foolish to pretend they did not exist. Indeed it is my hope that fielding such units will oblige the players to consider the moral imperatives of war as well as the military ones, and the campaign is being constructed with one eye firmly on that.

Of course there are Volkssturm figures available on the market, but frankly none that take my eye. I wanted something looking normal as opposed to caricature bad guys from a cartoon, so I had a quick rummage through my unpainted figures box. Pretty quickly I found some very nice figures which I believe are for the Irish Civil War. I was only looking for a single squad of Volkssturm, so I fished out some of the most suitable ones. These are lovely figures, I can’t remember who did them or who sculpted them. The only issue was that they are all armed with British WWI weapons. On a few models I was able to use a sharp knife to trim away a few bits to give them more of a Mauser look, but I realised pretty quickly that this would not work for all of the figures, especially those with shotguns instead of rifles.

I had another rummage and found some spare sprues of the Perry Afrika Korps plastic figures and hit upon a wizzard idea. With a set of nail clippers I cut off the gun barrels from the point where each man’s right hand was holding the stock and on the trigger guard. You can see a few here with the removed barrels below them.2014-05-03 07.51.30

I have also removed the left hand completely where it was supporting the barrel. With the plastic Perry stuff I found some rifles suitable and snipped them off at the breach, matching the slope of the right hand with the plastic at that point. I then superglued this into position. On this figure you can see that I will need to rebuild the left hand with Milliput.
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On the figures below the left hands are the plastic ones which are moulded onto the rifles in the Perry set. These fitted superbly, so all I had to do was remove the back of the hand, file the plastic flat and glue it into place.
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Some models needed some other attention as they had what was clearly British kit on. This I filed off with a mini file and then replaced the British kit with the German ones in the Perry DAK set. Like this bloke here. I have photo edited this so the plastic German kit stands out – the light wasn’t great for photos.

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The MG was going to be a tougher nut to crack, but I bit the bullet and weighed in. Here I chopped off the bloke’s right fore-arm and removed the left hand at the cuff as normal. I then trimmed up a Perry MG34 and stuck that across the figure in the right position.
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I let that dry, slowly, you can’t use an oven to accelerate the process with plastic stuff. If I were a sculptor (but then again, no) I’d drill into what remained of the right arm, add a wire to serve as the base of the new arm. I am not, so I just slapped on a roll of Milliput, trimmed it with a knife and added a few creases with a cocktail stick. I let that dry over night and then sculpted a hand from more Milliput. As an aside, if you’re looking for a desirable property in St Albans, this cottage is a snip at a mere £925,000.
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Here’s a look in more detail. As you can see, I haven’t started on the left hand yet. You need to let each stage dry before you start the next. I prefer Milliput to green stuff for jobs like this as you can carve and file it when set.
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Here’s the final figure with both hands and some of his mates. It is not perfect. The bloke looks a bit odd from some angles, but with the right paint job he’ll look absolutely fine.
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And here are a few more of his mates in detail. I have sculpted on armbands which will say Volkssturn, but these are the early late 1944 levy in the eastern provinces of Germany, so I really want them to look “normal” – the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker as opposed to some rabid cartoon fascists.
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Finally found these figures among a bunch my old chum Tricky Dickie Ansell gave me years ago. I’m not sure of the make, but they are in peaked caps and will be fine for older HJ lads as a tank killer team with Teller mines as opposed to fausts.
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I did finish these off with some Milliput thumbs for the left hands and some odd additions such as removing a wound badge from one figure’s tunic whilst adding some Hitler Jugend badges to make what had been a standard German infantryman into an ad hoc schoolboy in an oversized tunic. I even gave one bloke a Kaiser Wilhelm moustache, but this is all ancillary crap that I fancied with a spare bit of Milliput.

So, there are my normal Nazis waiting for the brush. Sadly it’ll not happen until next week when I return from the Czech Republic and the battlefields of 1866.

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Deep Fried Lard, coming to Scotland in June

Deep Fried Lard 2
Wargames events come and go, and the sign of a good one is when it leaves you wanting more. After the tremendously enjoyable Deep Fried Lard even in sunny Musselburgh on the outskirts of Edinburgh we are very pleased to announce that Richard will be heading north once again for Deep Fried Lard (Again) on the 7th of June.

Join us for a day of Lard filled entertainment in the luxurious surroundings of Stoneyhill Community Centre, just next to Musselburgh Rugby Club, for a day of Lardy games running from 10.00 until 17.00. After the success of last year’s event we intend to keep to the same format, with a selection of games available in the morning and afternoon sessions. Attendees who wish to run a game in one session will get priority in choosing their game for the other session, but we found that last uyear everyone had a greta time and we could fit most people in to the games they wanted.

After a fantastic day of gaming we plan, as last year, to adjourn to Stagg’s Bar, winner of the Lothians’ Pub of the Year for 2012 (where a truly “cultural” experience can be guaranteed!) and then on for a curry later.

We already have games of Chain of Command, The Raiders for Dux Britanniarum, Charlie Don’t Surf and Chain of Command Espana lined up, so why not join us for a great day of Lardy gaming and an evening to be remembered. You’ll find full details on the web site of Lardy Events Manager (Scotland), our very own Blue-and-White-jacket, Wee Derek here: http://dereksweetoys.com/deep-fried-lard/

Deep Fried Lard Again – Batter Together. (I promised Derek I wouldn’t use that joke…)

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