Saturday, December 15, 2007
The biggest question I had was "How do I do that ?". The answer is to mold and cast my own, of course ! I figured I'd try something easy- like an open-backed rifle pit.
A good friend of mine showed me how to make molds and castings and I am indebted to him for his advice- so its all his fault if this fails miserably and not mine due to lack of artistic talent ! :D
Step one is to get some modeling clay (the type that does not harden completely and can be re-worked again and again) and a surface to work it. I am using a cyramic tile, with a hex image (3" hexes that I use) drawn on for reference.
First you work the clay into the rough image of a breastwork. that fits inside the hex properly. I also made it so that my cannon fit properly and my infantry can fire over the top. For tools, I use a 3/4" piece of thin sheet metal that is 5" long for smoothing and flattening, and a sharp razor blade for detail work.
After roughly squaring the sides of the earthwork with the piece of metal, I scoured in the "logs" with the razorblade. Then I worked the posts out of a separate piece of clay, using the razor blade to make them more or less squared off. I inserted the posts at the ends and where the sides meet. After about 20 min, this is what I had.
I am not sure how much this shows up in the picture. but I textured the outside using an old toothbrush. I also pressed a square wooden-floor like plate (actually from one of my 10mm cannons) into the bottom of the breastwork. This actually will give the opposite effect when I create the mold, but since the scale is so small, it should not be too noticible that the boards actually go "into" the ground instead of resting on top of it. I just liked the texture effect. I will see how it looks on the final product (you really need to over-detail things so that the mold will pick up the details).
Step two is casting a mold of this "master". It is from the mold I will be able to cast up copies of this original piece of "work". More on this later........
Thursday, November 29, 2007
I dusted off my American Civil War rules (DSRACW) which I wrote for 10mm scale using 3" hexes. I hadn't used them since back in 2000. Although I'd typed them up nicely, I'd forgotten a few things I had added which I scrawled on the back of the last sheet (and reading my writing is always a chore- Case in point, read this blog).
The rules are pretty straightforward, Brigades broken down into Regiments, each base about 80-120 men, each gun casting 2-3 guns, each hex about 100-120 yards. The one thing I did with this game was make CASUALTIES ! They definitely add to the battle (when a base is lost, I place a casualty figure down).
I used some cardboard hexes I'd gotten from somewhere. I also have some nifty 3" hexes of flocked plywood but my road pieces are minimal, as are stream parts. So I cheated and used the pre-printed stuff for the board base. The disadvantage (as you can see from the pictures) is that keeping them aligned can be a bit problematic, unlike the plywood hexes, which are easy to shove back into alignment. Of course a box of those suckers ways like 50 pounds, so as with all things, it has definite advantages and disadvantages, if I were to haul it to a convention.
The situation is mid 1863, somewhere in Virginia. There is a railroad station that the yankees want captured, and of course the rebels do not (it is in the top left of the picture which would be SouthEast). The Union has a brigade of 4 x 5 base regiments, with orders to quickly proceed to the station and destroy it. The Confederates have a cavalry regiment (4 bases + 1 holder), one 4 gun battery of rifled artillery on board at start. They also have a small brigade of 2 x 4 base regiments coming from the road at the south by the station on a reinforcement roll of 56 on d6 per turn.
The rebels chose to place their artillery in the walled field to the upper right, which had a good Line of Sight to the road. The cavalry dismounted at the woods on the hill just to the right of the walled farm. Their object was to delay until the reinforcements arrived (the infantry "riding" to the rescue as it were....)
The Union troops had to come up the road, and did so in column, choosing speed to close and overwhelm the defenders. The above picture is the situation after turn 2. The lead column was taken under long range artillery fire, which caused some casualties and forced it to rout. In a quick re-evaluation of the plan, the Union brigidier decided that caution was the better part of valor, so changed to line formation.
A word of note- in my rules, things that can stop your forward momentum(firing, changing into line from column, moving a line through woods) causes a unit to be marked with what I call a pause marker. In order to move again, it must either do nothing for a turn or announce its intended move and roll to be able to move (if it fails it can still fire, but suffers moving fire penalties). This tends to make battles that start out with wheeling brigades around the battlefield to wind down and get "stuck". Getting them moving again can be problematic, and even then they tend to move forward again in fits and starts. It can be frustrating but it does make for some very interesting battles.
This caused the whole rush down the road to stall, and a good reinforcement roll for the CSA allowed the reinforcement brigade to come on board. To top it off, the guns and dismounted cavalry continued to pester the advancing units, not allowing them to get "on line" quick enough. The USA brigadier started side-stepping to the left, aiming to take the farm and thus outflank the cavalry and bull his way to the station (as well as getting out of the line of sight of the rebel guns).
Unfortunately, the getting those regiments through the woods and to the farm took too long, as the dismounted cavalry and long range artillery continued to gall the Union troops (notice the body markers along the road). The CSA brigade, unhindered beat the USA troops to the farm.
The rebel artillery, with their targets getting out of their Line of Sight, limbered up and started to head to the right of the Union advance. Meanwhile, a fierce firefight occurred around the farmhouse, where the weight of Union numbers began to take a toll.
The CSA brigade must have been tired from its quick advance to the farm, because it could not hold on (they took casualties and rolled BAD on morale checks). To boot, the Brigade commanded was injured, causing the brigade to be shaken. The rebel artillery managed to unlimber and double fire into the advancing union troops behind the wall, but ran out of ammunition doing so, and despite causing signifigant casualties, the Union troops passed all their morale checks.
The CSA brigade routed, and the rebel artillery was out of ammo. The cavalry unit had not choice but to fall back as well as it was taking more fire than it could dish out from the Union troops in and around the farm. Fortunately for the CSA, the Union troops were exhausted and bloodied and where in no condition to immediately exploit the battelfield. The final result: A Union Tactical win (they drove back the covering CSA units), but a Confederate strategic win (the USA did not get to the station).
Final toll: USA lost 6 bases equivalent, CSA 3 bases equivalent (including 1/2 base of dismounted cavalry). The game took about 1.5 hours for 10 game turns.
All in all, a fun battle- easy to set up and play. I now know I have to do even more ACW stuff now......
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Friday, September 28, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
I've completed Schnellhefter Block (version 1). My next map is to the left of this one (Skulpturny Park- where the bulk of that park is located).
Let me know what you think !
For reference, this is a 40"x40" map with 1.5 inch hexes. The road grid had to be modified a little (Skulpturnaya street should be a straight line, but due to the angle and the hex grid had to be modified a little). The stairwells (for ASL) are at best a guess. I didn't detect any walls on any of my maps/photos, and the area was pretty much very open (24th Panzer Division fought there and had a good mix up with some remnants of Soviet armored units) and this was a launch point for the attack on the Red Barricades Factory).
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
I'm sorry for no pics from historicon- they somehow got corrupted :( Still, I'd like to thank everyone who particpated in Sea Sick Sailors:
Romans:Troy Turner, Conner Turner*, William Miller, Daniel Catapano
Carthaginians:Joseph ,Schmidt, Allen Hughes, Sam Nitsch, John Castillo*
* denotes fleet admiral
Also I'd like to thank the folks who particpated in my WWI game Stahlengewittern:
The Germans: Scott Cramer, Mathew Downey,Harry Morris,Kevin Cocking
I'll try to do better next time with AARs etc.
I hope to see some of you guys next year for both games !
Sunday, August 5, 2007
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Unfortunately, my camera was not as cooperative and I lost some of the pictures I took. Sometime in the next week or so I'll start another blog linked to this one with convention stuff (pictures etc) that will be linked to this one. Now for a bit of rest.....
Then again, maybe not....
I've got the urge to try to due the Schnellhefter Block in Stalingrad in 40 meters and I've got some good Prokorovka scale maps to work with for sme 200/250 meter work. So much to do.......
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Thursday, July 5, 2007
Friday, June 15, 2007
Over the years, the rules have mutated a bit, becoming more heavily infantry-centric (in general, there is usually more infantry/non-microarmor on the table than microarmor). To get all that infantry/Guns on-board, I created double-sided counters for them. Being an old ASLer, I used many concepts from those rules, so some of the abbreviations, etc should be familiar to any ASLer. For those not indoctrinated in the cult that is Advanced Squad Leader, some of the terms are defined below:
- SMC Single Man Counter- Used to represent a leader and his HQ staff. In general, cannot exist unless stacked with an MMC.
- MMC Multi-Man counter- Used to represent a group of about platoon size. Also used to represent special weapon groups (MMG, Flamethrowers, etc).
- GUN- A generic term for any non-vehicle weapon that requires a crew. (note this is not on the picture I posted, as at the time I made that diagram, I had integral crews for the guns).
- Vehicle- anything that was a micro-armor figure.
The basic unit size used would in general be a battalion, but sometimes companies are used. An example of the TO&E I use is to the left. As for nationality flavor, the Germans have more leadership (enabling them to do more things and respond to adversity better) than the Soviets. The Soviets are better in close combat than the Germans, so usually want to get as close to them as possible and not engage in long-range firefights.
For the game I will be using off-board artillery (and some Stukas for the Germans). There will be some on-board guns though, but other than the mortars, will be for direct fire only. Snipers will become available to purchase as the game goes on, as will fortifications, and special units (SMG battalions, Engineers, etc) to supplement the basic reinforcements each side will recieve (usually infantry battalions).
At the conclusion of each campaing turn, there is a consolidation process that will occur for each side. As battalions get whittled down, there is an amalgamation that occurs that will try to consilidate units into a more homogenous whole. There are some simple unit cohesion rules that apply (like calling in support fire from a different regiment's battalion's mortars is at a penalty).
Each terrain type has combat properties (such as its effect modifier vs direct fire, indirect fire), Line of Sight (such as a hinderance, blocking etc), Movement costs, and how easy it is to rubble/set on fire. Multiple leveled building hexes are designated by changing the hex center dot to a white heavy circle.
I envision a series of scenarios, each building (pun intended as this is a Stalingrad-esque game !) upon the last one, where a campaign turn is a single gaming session. Between campaign turns events happen and reinforcements are brought up. A game turn is a of variable length (generally 5-9 turns). There are 3 campaign turns per day (2 daylight, 1 nighttime). Not all turns will see action, as reinforcement points are used to purchase additional units. In general, night-time will be a general reinforement time, although Soviet counter-attacks will generally occur at this time as well.
The game kicks off with a scenario with a German Panzer Grendier Battalion with support coming up against elements of workers' militia around the area of the state farms to the top of the map (West in directional terms). Scattered amongst the defenders are the remnants of some units that were crushed in the crossing of the Don and fled to the city.
The 1st turn is where the Germans determine where their main point of attack is going to be. They don't have enough to advance on a broad front so must choose where they want to concentrate their forces.
The Left flank is somewhat open, with easier terrain, but jumping the rail line will be difficult without capturing the Grain Elevator first. The advantage is that isolating the city from this flank will cut down on reinforcement points the Soviets will otherwise put to good use.
A punch up the center comes up against the most city areas, which the Panzergrendiers (who will be withdrawn in a few campaign turns anyway to help cover the vast flanks further off-map) won't want to get into an attritional battle this will entail. As these units play an important part in helping keep the Germans from being cut off from Soviet counter-attacks offboard to the North and South (yet another scenario or two I'll "link" with this game), these forces must not suffer needless losses.
A thrust against the right flank encounters the stream and Hill 245, as well as the suburb of Spartakovka. The advantage is that getting across the rail lines into the factory complex is easier here, as is the ability to cut off reinforcement points (the road and the dock at Spartakovka).
All in all, the Germans have quite a task set before them. They'll have to make some tough choices that will have ramifications that will become apparent the further the game progresses.
Thursday, June 7, 2007
Since this was a Stalingrad map, I figured I'd need boatloads of buildings. I use Microsoft Visio mainly for my maps (although Microsoft Powerpoint can work in a pinch for unit counters, markers, etc).
Instead of creating a few and shading them by hand via a macro I wrote to shade shapes (like the ones in my title bitmap) which is tedious, I chose to create SMART buildings that would shade themselves based on what angle they were. Why, you ask ? Because I'm a glutton for punishment of course ! Besides, that way I could create a single building that could be placed in one of 12 possible directions with the shading handled automatically.
For the buildings themselves, I have 3 basic building types for terrain purposes (Thatch, Wooden, Stone). With just a few buildings of each type, I could create an impressive number of buildings "on map". The rules take into account such things as multiple story buildings, rubble, and fire, each of which basic type behaves differently. Also, there are special building types (e.g. Factory) that have special properties of their own.
For my shading, I convert the RGB color to HSL colors, so I can play with the luminosity for how "bright" the shade will be (the macro already does this and allows me to increment the Luminosity by a fixed amount). I determined that the "sun" was coming from the upper left corner or approximately thereof. From this I base all my shading.
The end result was quite pleasing. The example is a simple building I can lay down in position 1 (Due North) and rotate in 30 degree increments. I did the same thing for my wooden buildings and my thatch ones as well.
But a Stalingrad type map would be nothing without some factories. So I made a few "smart" factories as well. To the left is a few examples, from a grain elevator, to a massive indstrial complex. One of the true beauties of the macros is that all I have to do to re-color the image is to give them new HSL values and pivot them to the right direction and the shading and colors are correct.
Why Stalingrad ? Well, first I've always been fascinated by the battle itself (as in the Eastern Front in general). Second, I recently finished Island of Fire By Jason D. Mark (available from www.leapinghorseman.com) - a truly excellent book. And third, I've got a set of platoon size micro-armor rules I've used over the years which is heavily infantry-centric that allows me to maneuver infantry battalions around. All this seems to fit the bill for a Stalingrad- type scenario.
I need a Stalingrad-type map, so I'll stick to the ubiquitous 40" x 40" map and use 1.5" hexes, which gives me a scaled space of about 1.8 miles x 1.5 miles. I started a project a while ago to map Stalingrad on that scale, and I've completed one map (Spartakovka in the north of the city using symbols like the ones in the title) so I have some of the terrain already made up. But I can do better. So first up is to polish up my terrain I'll print out on the map.
Saturday, June 2, 2007
German: Our attack on the Soviet Union has been successful. However, Soviet pockets of isolated in the 1st days are attempting to break through back to their own lines. You are charged with beating back these groups until stronger forces can be released from the front to deal with them. Hold your positions ! In no event should the enemy be allowed to break through your front and infiltrate back to his own lines.
Forces: 7 rifle. 2 SMG, 1 LMG
Russian: The Revolution is under attack by the Facist dogs ! We must resist them to our last breath, Comrades ! By suprise and deceit we have been isolated behind enemy lines. Our mission from the High Command is to rejoin our brethren further East and defeat the Facist invaders. Let not one stand in your way ! We travel light and fast. DEATH TO THE FACISTS.....
Forces: 18 Rifle, SMG, LMG
The Course of the battle:
The Germans rolled well on their command chart (getting 2 "F"s and 1 "A"). They concentrated fire on the LMG group, as they were the only visible one and managed to pin them all then force the rest to panic, all except the lone Russian LMG.
With a presence in the two closest buildings and a flanking LMG, the German position was not totally hopeless, but the Russians were closing in fast with 2 groups that would not be afraid to get into melee to grab those victory buildings (indeed, with my rules the Russians melee better than the Germans and encourages such behavior. Call it unfair or "gamey", it still adds flavor to the game).
The Russians seem to have lost their nerve seeing their compatriots gunned down and scattered. Their fire is inneffectual. On the German side, the LMG has entered the house and with the Hero, lays down a large quantity of fire on the last Russian group. Fire from the other ruined house panics the last Russians.
The Russians have had enough. They finally reach their break point and the scenario is over. Final losses:
Russian: 7 killed, 13 paniced
German: 3 killed, 1 Paniced
Overall Battle Commentary:
- The Russian plan was fine, as far as it went. They are hard to maneuver around the board, and tend to do so in large groups (which also makes a large target). These large groups can be effective firing, but the Russians cannot always manage to out-gun the Germans due to command constraints.
- Without the German Hero in the center building, the Russians would have taken it easily, and with it the center of the German position and probably the game as well.
- The German LMG was effective as a firer only on the 1st turn of the game, after which it jammed and its operator killed. It was re-aquired, and even though it never fired a shot the rest of the game, it channeled the Russians into the center wood by holding the German right flank. Sometimes just the threat of a weapon is enough for it to influence a battle.
- The Germans may have fallen back too hastily, but considering their command rolls (lots of "M"s) they were not firing very effectively at that point anyway. Once they fell back to the houses they seemed to get in sync and managed to lay down effective fire that kept the Russians from overwhelming the center house.
- All in all, an enjoyable game. It lasted 12 turns (3 scale minutes) and played in less than 1 hour. I think my rules would work well at a convention......
First, using a program I created for Microsoft Visio, I printed a simple grid of 3.5" hexes with a road grid and stream on a 40" x 48" page.(The red road comes out a good brownish color when printed out on my plotter). I didn't color the background because I was trying to save on ink, and, as this was a prototype game I was playing, a polished product was not neccesary at this time (plus I wanted to get to trying to game as quickly as possible).
Why 3.5" hexes ? The program I use can use any size hex from 0.25" to 30" and every size in between. After some experimentation, 3.5" seemed to fit the figures well, and my houses fit in a single hex. (one of my cardinal rules for making games is use what you have on hand, not what you may have later- or you will never get done with it !)
My figures needed bases, so I printed a some out of stiff card, along with an ID# and the primary weapon type. The Germans have 8 rifle, 2 SMG, and an LMG (which needs a crewman in order to fire at full effect). The Russians have 18 stout riflemen, 1 SMG and LMG (DPS "record player"- no crewmember to fire effectively but not as effective as the German MG34)
As for rules, I created some from scratch (its a sickness I have, really !). I won't get into all the details here, but in general:
- One hex = 10 yards
- One turn approx 30 seconds.
- It uses alternating moves.
- Each side is limited in actions to what it can do each turn. The Germans are more flexible than the Russians, as the Russians have to group into fewer groups in order to get things done. In general, the Germans tend to recieve more orders. Orders range from an emphasis on "F"ire, and "M"ove to what is a minimal order ("X") and an "A"ny order (which allows the player to pick "F" or "M").
- Infantry when fired on can either be Unaffected, Forced to take a Morale Check, or killed. If they fail their morale check, they become pinned (and can only attempt a rally action). If a pinned figure fails its MC, it is considered to have paniced (and is out of battle, counting as dead for VP purposes, but available for future battles). NOTE: I tend to like to fight scenarios that are "linked". This means that forces from this scenario can be brought to bear in the next one. If a side wins a phyrric victory, it is sure to have problems in a the next scenario.
- The scenario at hand begins with the Germans setting up hidden (using the hex IDs I'd conviently printed with the grid) and the Russians coming from across the stream as their 1st turn (all with an "M" order). After the Russian turn 1st, all Germans would be placed on the board and the turn sequence is normal (the # and types of orders are determined by the rules).
This was the map. A few words to clarify the map a bit. The woods come in two types- light and heavy. For infantry they act the same (and their cover is considered the same). For vehicles (I have vehicle rules to but they are not part of this scenario) they cannot enter heavy woods and have a chance of bogging down going through light woods.
Moving on the dirt road has no effect at this scale as opposed to moving in open ground since the weather is considered fine. The stream is fordable but at a cost, except at the roads which are shallow fords. Also the trees shed a lot. so those clumps of green are just the fallout and not blemishes on the picture :).
Also, let me apologize for the unpainted buildings. For some that is a no-no but since this was a friendly game for some close friends, I think they would overlook that little detail. I tend to use games put on at conventions to "motivate" me to finish painting stuff. Since I'd just recently pulled this stuff out of mothballs, it is in the condition you see before you.
For my next post- the setup and play of the scenario itself !