Saturday, 12 October 2019

St. Nazaire project - warehouse buildings

In preparation for having a tabletop suitable to represent the WW2 St. Nazaire raid, I need to create quite a few warehouses suitable to represent the dock area. As many of the buildings are unlikely to be reused in other games I need to make them cheaply.


I do have some cardboard packing boxes and attempted to create some with that. The approach almost worked, but the cardboard was just too thick and difficult to work. So I tried some lighter card which worked out much better and a $3 sheet of the card will produce 3 warehouses.

A strip of card is cut out 4" high and 24" long. This is folded to make the walls 8" longways and 4" at the ends. Additional ends were cut out for the roof pitch and glued on. This helps add some stiffness to the structure.
Heavier packing box cardboard is cut to fit inside the building walls. This is glued and also held in position with painters masking tape. Masking tape is also used on the corners to tidy up the end pieces which are stuck on.
A roof is cut and bent to shape.
Packing case cardboard is cut and attached to pack out the second part of the roof.
The top piece of the roof is added.
Now that I have worked out how to build these warehouses. I estimate 30 minutes to build one ready for painting.
The outside is undercoated in grey
The base is painted black for consistency.
Once the undercoat is dry I used cheap poster paint to paint the roof dark grey and walls a red brick colour. Then windows and doors were simply painted. At this point the building colours look very flat, and I forgot to take a photo.

Once the poster paint is dry. The next step involves the use of oil pastels to quickly draw over the flat colours and give the building a look of texture.

Simple lines and scribbles with the pastels are used to give texture. Mistakes can be scuffed out with a finger and drawn over again.
Oil pastels are used rather than the caulk type. 
When complete 2 units can fit nicely inside.
20mm figures to give some scale of the finished warehouse.
I will be mixing up colours and possibly the roof lines to provides variety to the 10 or so buildings required. The cost of card, oil pastels and poster paint will make these buildings approximately $3 per warehouse.


Thursday, 10 October 2019

ECW Campaign moves

The last campaign game (Battle of Fernhurst) was a drawn game. Rather than proceed to the next campaign turn where the Royalist cause would be able to march upon and contest a region, we will return to the South Coast region to finalise the outcome of Parliament marching on the South Coast. This is not in the campaign rules, but seems a fair way to deal with drawn games.

Both sides were allowed to re-roll one of their troop types to see if they could improve their order of battle. This represented additional reserves received or units which had been held up on the march and were unable to enter the previous battle. Neither side was able to increase their force strength after a couple of poor D3 dice rolls and the order of battle remains:

Parliament's Forces

  • 4 Foot
  • 1 Commanded Shot
  • 4 Horse

Royalist Forces

  • 5 Foot
  • 1 Commanded Shot
  • 2 Dragoon
  • 3 Horse
  • 2 Guns 


Campaign map showing the actions in the south coast region
Campaign cards were drawn for the game. Both sides already held cards which will last this campaign year 1645. This turn each side received one time only cards:

  • Parliament's luck was not improving and they now have some jealously happening within their command structures and as a consequence will reduce the turn activations by one. (Note: game rules allows a commander to activate up to the number of friendly units they can see within 12". A unit need not be seen to be activated. This rules tries to encourage commanders to be well positioned to stops forces becoming too dispersed across the tabletop.)
  • Royalists get to refresh the ammunition of one infantry unit when they run out of ammunition.

Campaign cards are dealt.
Next terrain cards were dealt. Parliament with the smaller force selects the side they want to deploy. They used their one card change and choose to swap the field and broken ground cards around. The Royalist choice was to have the stream split the table and tabletop deployment. Possibly hoping to isolate part of the Parliamentarian force, particularly the horse units, and use their numbers to attain victory.

Initial terrain cards
Parliament chose side (blue arrow) as they have the small force. Both sides opted to swap and turn a card.
This battle will occur near the parish of Lurgashall, 4 miles South East of Fernhurst the site of the last battle. I just need to finish off the Napoleonic game currently occupying the tabletop and play the game this weekend.

Saturday, 5 October 2019

ECW Campaign - Battle of Fernhurst

In September 1645 Parliament was under pressure for a victory having lost control of the West Midlands earlier in the year. They were able to muster an army and marched on the Southern Coast region.
Campaign map showing the planned Parliamentarian advance on teh South Coastal region.
Having forgotten to use the campaign cards in the last game. I opted to draw two cards this campaign move. Parliament received support from Scotland and will gain an extra infantry unit for the remainder of 1644. They also received a Royalist card so this was ignored.


Royalist forces will also receive an additional unit during 1644 as the Queen had been successful at raising funds abroad, but they too have to ignore a card.

Parliament was unable to recruit a large marching force, and was very grateful for the additional Scottish unit. While the Royalist cause was well supported and news of earlier victories having swelled their numbers. The orders of battle are...

Parliament's Forces

  • 4 Foot
  • 1 Commanded Shot
  • 4 Horse
Royalist Forces
  • 5 Foot
  • 1 Commanded Shot
  • 2 Dragoon
  • 3 Horse
  • 2 Guns
Terrain cards were drawn and Parliament, being the smaller force, selected their side first. The only change was made by the Royalist side to rotate a card to place a wood further forward to provide cover.

Terrain cards are dealt.
Parliament selects a side first as the smaller force. While Royalists make a minor change on their left flank.
On to the game...

Units were deployed. The Parliamentarian commander set his centre between to the woods and buildings. On his left flank commanded shot held the woods and on the right flank all Parliament's horse units were combined. His hope was to charge around the woods and attack the Royalist rear.

Recognising the cavalry risk the Royalist commander duly held a large group of foot units in reserve. Other than that his deployment was fairly standard with horse units on each flank supported by dragoons.

Units are deployed.
The Battle of Fernhurst - September 1644
The battle began with Parliament pushing forward their centre and attacking on the right flank with all their horse units. Royalist horse and dragoons were soon engaged on the flank.


Early moves
Cavalry engagement
On the other flank Royalist forces pushed forward to engage the Parliamentarian centre which had moved forward to engage. While their artillery maintained a slow and steady bombardment.

Expecting to lose the cavalry engagement, Royalist reserves position themselves to counter a cavalry attack. 
The Royalist attack on their right flank had mixed results. Their dragoons suffered heavily from musketry by the commanded shot in the wood and were forced to make a hasty withdrawal. Their horse charged Parliament's centre which had been sustained a steady bombardment from their guns, but the centre was able to repulse the charging horse.

Royalist horse charge Parliament's centre.
On the other flank Parliament's cavalry had been successful in winning the cavalry engagement. Their planned move on the Royalist rear was frustrated by well positioned Royalist units. They chose to regroup and retire to their lines.

Royalist reserve units block the path of the victorious cavalry.
Both forces regroup and the battle concludes in a draw.
Both sides flank attacks had failed to provide the results they wanted. It was late afternoon and neither commander wanted to make another attack, and with losses equal the Battle of Fernhurst was a draw.
Battle moves
A draw will mean another battle will be fought on the South Coast as both forces regroup and reorganise.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Next mini project

While the next English Civil War game is on the tabletop, and should be posted as a game report this coming weekend.

ECW game in progress
I have been thinking about a mini project to refight the St. Nazaire Raid. The idea for this has been prompted through reading the book "Battle Notes for Wargames", and I say mini-project as creating the tabletop of the docks and surrounding buildings will take a bit of work. Or as the author writes - "It is not one that can be knocked up in an odd hour before the game starts, because it requires buildings, docks, etc."

The source of the idea
Plan of attack
Not wanting to spend money on this, I plan to create the motorboats, destroyer Cambeltown, docks, factories, and warehouses using some old cardboard packing boxes which are lying around in the attic.

One challenge will be to somehow squeeze it all on to my 6x4 foot tabletop. The second challenge for this game will be creating rules for the British boats and destroyer HMS Campbeltown as they move to their landing areas and under fire from the harbour's defence guns. Then rules for the destruction of targets (submarine pens, docked ships, and supply tanks) and arrival of German defenders.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

ECW Campaign - Battle of Brinklow Bridge

Game 22 of the English Civil War campaign has a Royalist force marching into the West Midlands and finding a blocking Parliamentarian force near the small market town of Brinklow.

Troops deployed ready for the game at Brinklow Bridge, May 1645
One thing I forgot to do for preparing this game was draw the campaign cards which add a bit of chance into an individual game, or sometime a series of games. I will have to make sure they are drawn for the next game, and will possibly be drawing two cards per side rather than one to make up for this oversight.

Deployment positions
The order of battle (see photo above) was decided in the normal manner using a D3 dice:

  • Foot (combined musket and pike) = D3+2
  • Horse  D3+2
  • Dragoon (or commanded shot) = D3
  • Guns or special units = D3-1
Special units are Lobsters for Parliament and Elite Pike for Royalist.

Parliament were going to take up a defensive posture in this game as they had fewer units, nine versus twelve units in the Royalist force. They planned to hold fast behind the stream with their Foot, which while being fordable provided them with a good defensive position when it came to push-of-pike.

A quick note on deployment rules:
  1. Defenders place half their units (rounding up fractions)
  2. Attackers place all their units
  3. Remaining defending units are placed.
Battle of Brinklow Bridge - May 1645

With Parliamentarian forces taking up defensive positions behind the stream, The Royalist commander pushed up his line of Foot and Gun, very quickly both sides were soon engaged in an exchange of Musketry. Parliament's Foot units loosed off some very effective volleys and as a consequence were soon out of ammunition. While Royalist Foot units maintained a slow and steady rate of fire supported by their gun.

Royalist advance and musketry is exchanged
This was not the desired situation for the Parliamentarian commander, who berated his officers for their lack of control. He could only watch as his Foot unit's cohesion levels were being whittled away by steady musketry. They would soon be poorly placed to withstand a push-of-pike contest, even with  using the stream as a defensive advantage. To rectify the situation and to use his slight advantage in Horse, he sent orders to both wings of Horse to advance.


The Royalist commander seeing the threat of Parliamentarian Horse on his right flank ordered a unit of Horse across to counter the move and bolster the Dragoons on the right. Other than that the morning had been going better than expected for him. The loss of a Foot unit, while concerning, had not perturbed him as Parliamentarian musketry had dwindled and was becoming increasingly sporadic.
Parliament's Horse can be seen in the foreground and in the distance attacking
At midday Parliament's Horse units crossed the stream and launched themselves into the Royalist flank units. With a slight advantage in Horse on the left they soon had nullified the Royalist Dragoons who were proving to be exceptionally accurate shots, and on the right flank the news would prove even more favourable as they routed the Royalist Horse. However, these successes were late in the battle and the damage from Royalist muskets had been done. Parliament's Foot units in the centre with no knowledge of their Horse units success and in the fog of war finally gave up and left the field. 

Game moves
A victory to the Royalists, and quite a crucial one which tightens their squeeze on Parliament and the regions around London.

The campaign map after the battle



Friday, 27 September 2019

Continuing the ECW Campaign

It seems to have been quite a while since I paused my English Civil War campaign. A check back on my posts shows it is three months since the last campaign game was played. To restart the campaign a quick recap is necessary, mostly to remind myself where it ended.

The last campaign move was in the autumn of 1644 with Parliament marching on the East Midlands and after successfully defeating the opposing Royalist force at the Battle of Barton Hall, September 1644, took control of the region.

Last moves of 1644
The campaign to date has been fought in two phases. The first phase had Parliament and Royalist forces fighting over each region trying to get control in 1643. The second phase has marching armies trying to add to the areas control. The campaign rules for the current phase can be found here.

The situation at the beginning of 1644
The resumption of the campaign begins in 1645. Royalist forces are able to make the first move on the West Midlands. They rolled a 3 plus 8 for controlled regions scoring 11. While Parliament rolled 5 plus 5 for controlled regions scoring 10.

The first battle will take place in May 1645 near the small market town of Brinklow.

Royalist move on the West Midlands
The terrain cards were used to determine the tabletop layout. However, there was a slight twist this time with some clever ideas from Steven's Balagan blog for allowing players to switch cards and how to deal with streams and rivers. The terrain cards and mechanisms are very nicely laid out and written up on Steven's blog.

The terrain cards were shuffled and laid out. The defenders selected a side and then rather than switching a card, they chose to rotate the stream to run across the tabletop. The attachers with limited choice of cards, all woods, opted to rotate the lefthand woods to limit the views from the hill.

Terrain cards laid for a 6x4 foot tabletop. Attackers and defenders make one card adjustment.
Final terrain setup
All ready for the tabletop to be setup. I must say I am looking forward to a few ECW games. The games will be using a square grid for play, continuing on from the last campaign game where I switched from free movement to a grid.

Saturday, 21 September 2019

AWI Cavalry and Dragoon units

I have a reasonable collection of Peter Laing 15mm American War or Independence (AWI) miniatures. I brought them way back in the late 1970's shortly after I started work. I started painting them, but never completed the painting until I dug them out of their boxes in 2015, and finished off what I have started some 35 years earlier.

The figures in action
Most games only have 8-12 units per side so the existing armies are quite sufficient for all units types except cavalry/dragoons
Generally I have sufficient miniatures for infantry and artillery, but I am a bit light on for cavalry, with both sides only having one cavalry/dragoon unit. Each unit with a mere 5 figures. Ideally I would like to have some more cavalry so I can play all of the scenarios in the books "Seven Steps to Freedom" and "Wargamer's Handbook of the American War of Independence".

Two enjoyable war-game related books covering the period
British Units
American Units
As Peter Laing miniatures are no longer manufactured, secondhand miniatures are the only option and are unfortunately a bit of a rarity to obtain on eBay. The alternative was then to purchase some other 15mm AWI. One of the problems with other manufactures is the level of detail they have compared with Peter Laing miniatures which are of their time and are much simpler figures.

A question to the MeWe Peter Laing group of other wargamers and collectors of Peter Laing figures regarding possible alternatives helped determine my next steps. They are a helpful group and I soon discovered some of the original miniature ranges were intended to be ‘N’ gauge and are smaller 15mm. Later rangers were truer 15mm miniatures. So with that in mind I began looking at 12mm miniature producers. In the end I settled on 10mm AWI Range from Pendraken Miniatures hoping that most miniatures are a fraction larger than their stated 10mm size.

A couple of weeks ago the figures arrived. In the parcel with the cavalry were some wagons along and a couple of mortars and crew which I had also selected. Comparing the cavalry showed the miniatures to be a fraction smaller, but overall the proportions looked similar. The slight difference in height would be disguised during basing with the addition of 1mm card to the figure's base.

A comparison of cavalry miniatures. Peter Laing 15mm cavalry are painted and the unpainted are Pendraken 10mm cavalry. This shows how the Peter Laing ranges started as being undersized.
The Pendraken mortar will be a nice addition.
A comparison of artillery crew shows the difference. Fortunately I have just enough  spare AWI artillery crew to  man the two mortar units.
The artillery pieces and wagons will work out fine, but I will use my last few Peter Laing artillery crew to man the mortars. The 10mm Pendraken crew are just too smaller scale to be used. All in all a good outcome as I will add two cavalry units to both armies, a couple of mortars with neutral painted crew so they can be used by either army, and a couple of wagons.

Peter Laing miniatures on the left front unit. I chose not to mix the figures and the original cavalry will remain.
A side on comparison. Peter Laing cavalry unit at the front.
Over the next week I will be getting back to my English Civil War campaign which has been paused now for a couple of months.