Sunday 27 February 2022

WW1 Palestine Campaign

In preparation for my next project, the WW1 Palestine Campaign, I painted a couple of units to help decide the best way of painting the 20mm soft plastic figures and also how best to finish the bases. For the baseI was originally just going to use a painted finish and my first test took too long and the effects were unsatisfactory. The alternative was to use sand, either a fine sand or coarse sand, and I tested these on a couple of units.

An overhead photo of the test units, fine sand at the back and coarse sand in the front.

Out of the two tests, my preference was for the fine sand, but the bases looked a bit plain. I had a few grass tuffs stashed away which I added and these and they provided look I wanted. It was important that the finished base worked well with my arid tabletop cover I use with my Ancient armies as I wanted to avoid making another cover.

A closer look at the coarse sand finish.

A closer look at the fine sand finish with grass tuffs added.

In terms of painting the figures I am opting for a very simple and quick approach:

  1. Paint the whole figure the uniform colour and add brown around the face and neck. More often than not, I will repaint the helmet or hat.
  2. Paint boots and leather items (eg holsters).
  3. Dry brush using a light sand colour to help highlight any detail.
  4. Paint the gun. Normally a dark brown.
  5. Paint the face and hands.
  6. Apply a coat of PVA glue which gives a gloss look.
Not a lot of detail on these figure which I prefer as it keeps the painting simple. The figures are HaT WW1 Turkish Infantry.

I was returning some borrowed books at the local library today and saw "The Last Crusade - The Palestine Campaign in the First World War" by Anthony Bruce on the shelf. It has been on my list to get and I quickly borrowed it. If it turns out to be a good read I may try and buy myself a copy for future reference when creating campaigns or linked games.

Recently borrowed from the local library.

Saturday 26 February 2022

Samurai project a busy weekend

This weekend has been a productive time for the Samurai project. The final bit of painting was completed on a unit of mounted Samurai. Additionally I made some palisades, wooden shields, a Torii (traditional Japanese gate to a shrine), and a traditional looking bridge.

Additional mounted Samurai unit painted this week.

The palisades were made from toothpicks and the shields from balsa wood sheets. The Torii was made from a small piece of 3mm MDF sheet cut out with a coping saw. The tiles are made with cardboard covered with gesso paste marked into tiles with a toothpick.

Torii gate and palisades

Palisades and wooden shields

Shields and palisades

The bridge is a simple construction of a rounded piece of wood with sides made from MDF sheet. Just the basic bridge shape which is then painted.

A traditional Japanese bridge

A lick of paint to give the impression of boards.

The bridge is wide enough for unit bases.

Tuesday 22 February 2022

Ancients Campaign - Start of turn 5

It is time to revisit the Ancients (Punic Wars) campaign. The last time I played from this campaign was back in mid-January 2022 and saw a Carthaginian win. As usual the campaign turns begin with a naval battle. The winner of the naval battle gets to move second and has the advantage of responding to the other side's moves.

The fleets approach each other cautiously (Rome's fleet in the foreground).

The forward lines of ships are soon engaged in combat with some becoming entangled and creating navigational problems for the second lines as the close in.

Carthage's second line had mainly larger ships which while good for ramming and boarding are having difficulty moving around the carnage of entangled ships.

Carthage get a good run of results and is able to claim victory.

Having lost the sea battle Rome makes the first campaign moves for turn 5 covering the period 210 BC to 209 BC. This turn they will benefit from having the arrival of Scipio the Younger as a leader. He turns up at their time of crisis as Southern Italy is under threat from Carthage's armies commanded by Hannibal. Rome is able to recruit more legions from Northern Italy and marches one army down to Southern Italy.

Campaign map after the campaign moves.

Carthage responds by recruiting in Africa and shipping another army to Southern Italy. Further north one of their armies marches from Spain to Northern Italy.

The first land battle to be transferred to the tabletop will be from Northern Italy where the opposing armies clash at Ateste in 210 BC.

Saturday 19 February 2022

More Samurai cavalry painted and the next project arrives in the post

I am still painting my current Samurai project and another group of Samurai cavalry came off the painting table this week. There are a few more units to finish, even though my output has slowed over the last month or so. With the end in sight it was quite timely that my next project should arrive in the post.

Just off the painting table.

The plan is to complete a couple of smallish armies for the WW1 Sinai and Palestine campaign using a combination of HaT, Emhar, and Strelets plastic figures. 

I have a few books borrowed from the local library which I am busily reading. They cover the campaign mainly from the ANZAC perspective and the involvement of Lawrence of Arabia and the Arab Uprising. One frustration is I have been unable to buy a box of HaT's Australian Light Cavalry and will have to wait until they are restocked. To compensate I did manage to get some WW1 Australian Camel Corp. 

Still to arrive in the next couple of weeks are some Australian Infantry, Indian Infantry, British and Australian Camel Corp, Early War British cavalry, Early War British Infantry, and Turkish Infantry Tropical Uniforms.

I am hoping this will be one project I can complete fairly quickly. I will be taking a very basic painting approach with all the figures. Any armoured cars, tanks and trucks will be simply scratch built. I am planning to paint and base a test unit this weekend with the Turkish infantry.

Where did this project come from? I am not totally sure, but I did see a documentary on Lawrence of Arabia over the Christmas holidays. Maybe the idea was swilling around in my remaining grey matter and finally crystallised at the beginning of February when the first of a number of online orders were placed.

Sunday 13 February 2022

Napoleonic Battle Campaign Game (Part 7)

Having just held off a determined Blue (French) action on the let flank it was now Red (Austrian) army's turn to assault with their Corps II with flanking support from their Corps III. Blue's reserves are severely depredated with only one cavalry unit available. If Red can win this action they will win the battle campaign by forcing an enemy Corps to retire off the map.

I do like the odd black and white photograph of Spencer-Smith figures on the tabletop. They remind me of looking through various wargaming books borrowed from the local library when I was young.

The battle map with Red (Austrian) Corps II is on the attack.

The action is transferred to the tabletop and forces deployed. The defenders are always required to deploy first. The action, as with all previous actions, is being fought using One-Hour Wargames Horse and Musket rules as written bar one change to the rules. The change allows for a commander to be attached to one infantry or cavalry unit. A commander's attached unit rolls two dice and selects the highest value for combat (shooting or melee).

Tabletop layout.

Blue (French) as the defenders deploy first. One infantry unit is deployed as skirmishers in the woods.

Red (Austrian) deployed second as they are the attaching force.

The order of battle for this action has both forces understrength with less than 8 units.

Blue (French):

  • 2 x infantry units (one deployed as skirmishers)
  • 1 x artillery unit
  • 1 x cavalry unit

They only have one cavalry unit available off-table and in reserve.

Red (Austrians):

  • 2 x infantry units
  • 2 x artillery units
  • 1 x cavalry unit

They have 5 flanking units which they can bring into the game, a mix of infantry, cavalry and artillery.

(Note - I made a mistake when setting up Red forces who should have had another infantry unit)

On to the game...

Red (Austrian) commander played a patient game, pushing their cavalry out wide and bombarding any visible Blue (French) units while waiting for their reserves to arrive. Blue (French) where the first force to receive their only reserve unit in the form of cavalry.

Red's bombardment prompted Blue to push forward their skirmishers and cavalry in an attempt to silence the guns. Meanwhile hidden by the woods there is a cavalry engagement underway.

Blue's attack was proving effective. Their cavalry eliminating infantry and their skirmishers shooting from some difficult terrain, but Red reserve cavalry can be seen in the far arriving in support.

The cavalry arrive.

More reserves arrive on the flank.

Blue's (French) attack is neutralised.

A small victory for Blue cavalry who defeated their opponents. Only to have an "Enemy Panic" chance card applied to them and they disappeared. Not that surprising when they can see all the reserves arriving.

The game is up with only two units left Blue loose this action and the battle.


Blue as always in a tricky spot, starting this game understrength with few reserves to hang on for 15 turns. They lasted 10 turns before being overwhelmingly outnumbered.

The battle is lost as Blue Corps III retires off the map.

The battle campaign is over after 5 enjoyable tabletop actions, but what would I do differently?

1) Running this style of campaign again I would make sure all the lanes on the map would have opposing forces (see here for explanation of map lanes). This would make the allocation of reserves an important decision. Any allocation of reserves would have to be carefully done, as once committed to a corps they cannot be returned. In this battle campaign the unopposed flanking corps essentially became a second reserve.

2) I would start all corps with 6 units, prompting the need for feeding in reserves at the very start. 

3) To win an action on the tabletop meant reducing the enemy units to a level where they retired. I will revisit these rules and decide if there is an opportunity to include taking objectives (towns or hills) as another way to win an action, or at the very least sway the result.

4) From a narrative point of view I would have each move count as part of the day. For example, early morning, late morning, midday, early afternoon, late afternoon, eventing. If the battle remains undecided then there would be the option of a second day (both parties willing) and half the lost units would be recovered (rounding up).

As much is I want to begin another one of these battle campaigns, perhaps with an ACW setting, my Ancients campaign has been sidelined for a few weeks and needs attention. 

Saturday 12 February 2022

Napoleonic Battle Campaign Game (Part 6)

The battle continues with Blue's (French) Corps III attacking Red's (Austrian) Corps I. Blue will be able to  bring on additional units from Corps I on their flank and from their reserves. Although, few units will be available from reserves as most of the reserve units were drawn into their previous defensive action (Napoleonic Battle Campaign Game Part 5).

A quick reminder on bringing on units to the table top:

  1. There must never be more than 8 units on the tabletop
  2. There must be the unit types available (for example, I can only field up to 3 cavalry units per side as that is all I have)
  3. Units can only arrive when a "No Event" chance card is drawn (each side has a deck of 15 cards, one for each game turn, and 5 are "No Event" cards)
  4. Units must be available in Reserve or an unopposed Corps.

The campaign battle map showing the area of action and strengths of armies.

Red (Austrian) starts the game with a depleted Corps I and a good supply of reserves to feed into the action. Should they lose the action, their Corps I will have to retire one step off the map which will result in a victory for Blue and the end of the battle campaign.

Initial deployments and order of battle...

Red (Austrian) Defenders

  • 2 x infantry units
  • 1 x artillery unit
  • 2 x cavalry units

Blue (French) Attackers

  • 4 x infantry units (one of which is deployed as skirmishers)
  • 1 x artillery unit
  • 2 x cavalry units

Tabletop setup with deployed forces. My new backboard is being used in this game.

Blue (French) deploy their skirmishers in the woods.

Red (Austrian) start with their infantry behind the hill and out of view.

On to the tabletop action...

Blue (French) forces quickly move forward and are able to bring on another cavalry unit on the frank from the unopposed Corps I.

Red (Austrian) bring on a reserve infantry unit, and there is a large cavalry engagement on the flank.

Blue (French) gain the upper hand in the cavalry engagement and Red's (Austrian) position is looking vulnerable.

More Blue (French) units arrive on the flank. The challenge is getting them into the action which is a few moves away.

Blue (French) bring on an additional artillery unit and Red units defending the hill quickly take heavy casualties from Blue's two artillery units. Red (Austrian) has been able to stabilise the far flank and with no infantry units in reserve have thrown in a cavalry unit to help their defence.

Red (Austrian) forces are barely hanging on.

Red (Austrian) forces were in a whisker of losing, but were just hang in there as another reserve cavalry unit arrives at game's end.

I was not expecting Blue (French) to get so close to achieving a victory. Eliminating Red's (Austrian) artillery early on and bringing on a second artillery unit made things very deadly for any unit defending the hill. Also, the chance cards limited Red's ability to get many reserves arriving early in the game when Blue was applying as much pressure as possible with their attacks.

The campaign map of the battle.

The next action will have Red Corps II attacking and hoping to win the tabletop action and battle.

Friday 11 February 2022

Attaching backboards to the tabletop

In the comments on making the backboard I was asked how I attach them to the wargaming table? With my recently made backboards I have been just propping them up again a book or piece of wood. This works fine as the foam board (from with they are made) is very light and sturdy. However, there is the disadvantage of reducing the tabletop space by a few inches. Not a bit issue, but there must be a better way which would return the lost tabletop space. 

Here is my approach for attaching a backboard....

First up using some wire. I cut a piece of wire and make a 90 degree bend (or thereabouts). Then I bend about 1 inch at each end to make two spikes.

The two spikes are pushed into the foam board base to create a wire loop that comes out at right angles

Using large paper clips the backboard is attached to the edge of the tabletop

The attachment takes up about half an inch of space

All neat and tidy with no hidden books or bits of wood holding up the backboard.