Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Future Wargaming Project

I have started drafting from my an outline for an article or possibly a stand alone supplement. After an evening of writing I am up to 415 words and four different story lines. Some involving not only French, but American and Italian aviators. So many gaming possibilities in 1940 France.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

On to Baghdad - Line Up of Battles

I have worked through the first set of battles for the campaign. They will start with the Landing at Fao and go through taking and holding Qurna (Battle of Eden). For the Indian Army, they need to continue to win. At worst they need to ensure they do not lose.

The reasons are simple. The Royal Navy can offer some protection in covering a defeated Indian force, yet if the loss is significant; there is limited naval transport to remove a defeated army. Without the facilities at Basra the British are looking to retire to one of the Persian Gulf islands, possible without all of their army. Surrender would be devastating and could give strength to anti-British feelings among the Arabs, Indians and Afghans.

For now we will assume that the Indian Army will be victorious against the Ottomans. Why of course they will be. This line up sounds more like a football lineup than a list of battles.

  • Landing at Fao
  • Sanniya – Possible Counter Attack
  • Saihan – Reconnaissance in Force
  • Sahil – Attacking a fortified Objective
  • Basra – Saving the City from Looters
  • Qurna – Securing Basra from the North

Next up, were do the British land. A very good question.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Harpoon 87 in the South Atlantic

We had a naval day at the club and was well attended with four players and three games going on. Thank you all for playing.

It was a sad day for submarine sailors. I ran two different submarine simulations with trying result for the submarine captains. The players did well in both cases with situations not their own entire making.

The first was Sink the Belgrano from the Falklands. In this one Captain Tony was trying to get past the destroyer escorts to go after the ARA Belgrano. Captain Chal ran an effective interference. So much so that his destroyer was sunk after firing off two ASW torpedoes at the HMS Conqueror. The lose of the ARA Hipolito Bouchard allowed the Belgrano to leave with Captain Mark covering her. The Conqueror would eventually catch the retreating ships but not before aircraft would arrive.

The Argentinians had issues with their sonar with at one point a ghostly image appeared near were they that the submarine was located. This caused the Argentines to be suspect of the real location of the submarine.

This battle can be found to be a success for both sides as Argentinian losses were smaller than historical and I am certain after this event that the Belgrano was going to stay in port. Which was what the Royal Navy was trying to do.

The second was a semi historical scenario with the ARA Salta was trying to get past two anti-aircraft escorts working with two Sea Kings. Captain Mark plan was to go deep and pass the patrols. Unfortunately a Sea King drops its dipping sonar less than a half a nautical mile away.

Ping, PIng, PINg, PING, PING! found you. The Salta was quickly found and a second Sea King dropped two Mk 46 torpedoes on her and it was over in less than 60 seconds.

I would like to run this again (Tony) with a longer approach. I am still uncertain that the ARA Salta can get through, but a lucky shot could cause a British destroyer to limp back to the repair facilities at Ascension Island. A big success for Argentina.

How well does a rule set that is 27 years old hold up? I have to say rather well, in my opinion. I may have to rewrite the play aid but I still prefer Harpoon 87 to Shipwreck or the current version of Harpoon. Your results may very.

Friday, October 17, 2014

New at Baccus 6mm

If you are a gamer you already know about the quality of the miniatures from Baccus. There 6mm Napoleonic and American Civil War are stunning. When in column or battalion squares these packed figures look how we think those battle should appear.

Over the last few months they have been releasing Great War figures for the Western Front starting with 1914 and the battle of maneuver and they are equally brilliant figures. I have been working on building the British and Germans for the Battle of Nery and with their most recent releases this has become very do able.

Baccus most recent releases include divisional packs for Great War Spearhead, as well as offering the rules. While I will continue to tinker with TOOFATLardies If the Lord Spares Us in 6mm I am glad to see such alliances between rule designers and miniature manufactures.

Why? For me (and I am sure other gamers) we end up having bags of un-needed figures while basing up my forces for a rule system. You buy what you need based on the rules. And in a perfect world they will even be sold at a discount.

I do not mind seeing rules designers working with miniature manufactures and it is a win for the hobby. While I do not play Flames of War I am glad to have access to their toys. They have some of the best Japanese tanks out there in 15mm. Flames of War moving into 1917-18 World War I is another win for the hobby.

What are your thoughts, should rules writers work closely with figure manufactures?

One last comment on these recent releases, I do not know how I am going to get to use them, but I need to add the Pioneers to my next order. They are just such great sculps. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Drilling at Fao

The Ottoman troops are drilling in and around the Fao fortifications. They are ready to fight for Allah and the Ottoman Empire. At least until the HMS Ocean shows up. OK while I would love to add in a pre-dreadnought, we will have to settle for the Cadmus-class sloops.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Back in the USSR

A funny thing has happened recently with my Blogger account. I am getting more traffic from the old Soviet Union and Warsaw Pac countries than ever before. This part of the world as well as China is difficult for westerners to generate interest in blogs and other Social Media. Yet Russia, Ukraine and Poland has generated a great deal of traffic for me with Russia being in the top five most days.

The reason appears to be yandex.ru the Russian Internet company. While I do not read Russian I am impressed in the look and feel of their site. Very clean and easy (I assume) to navigate. With 60% penetration in Russia and operating in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Turkey this is a search engine bloggers and SEO professionals should not discount. The company has also opened an office called Yandex Labs in the San Francisco Bay area.

While I have not received any comments from my eastern European readers I appreciate the traffic and look forward to hearing from them. My recent On to Baghdad project may spur some interest as the Russians will make an appearance I am certain in Persian. But that is for another blog after I paint up the troops.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Armies by the Numbers

One of the biggest issues with running any historical campaign is working out the numbers of troops fielded by both sides and making that work with the rules you are playing with. If a rule set calls for each figure to represent 20 real troops, does that include officers and NCOs. What about the followers still found in early 20th century armies.

And then there is the battle with intelligence itself. How many troops are really there. Looking at the four battalions in General Delamain’s force in November 1914 it is easy to figure how many stands I will need.

Other Ranks
Other Ranks
2nd Dorsetshire

20th Punjabis

104th Rifles

117th Mahrattas


This comes from the Official History.

Yet my rules call for smaller stands. I can live with this as units will have troops detached and conducting other duties. This will give the Indian Regiments 12 stands and the 2nd Dorsetshire 16 stands which is in line with the rules, If the Lord Spares Us.

And then on to the Ottomans. Here there are a few intelligence issues here. The Indian Army was lacking good coobarated intelligence on the ground with most information coming from Arab forces looking to curry favor with both the British and Ottomans. Often at the same time.

This is what is known in the Basra to Kuwait area from September 1914 on ward to the landing at Fao in November.
  • September 1914 – 8,000 rifles, 500 sabres, 58 guns and 6 machine guns in and around Basra.
  • It is latter reported that there are two regiments between Fao and Kuwait.
  • A further report showed 3,600 infantry, 1,000 gendarmerie and two batteries of guns in the Basra - Kuwait area.
  • The Shaikh of Mohammerah is able to bring 5-10,000 rifles to the fight (presuming on the British side.
  • The Shaikh Kuwait was able to bring an additional 16,000.
  • 38th Division and gendarmerie were known to be the only troops between Baghdad and Basra once troops were redeployed towards the Caucasus Front when the Ottomans entered the war.
  • Major Radcliffe from Kuwait sources had the Fao area holding 400 troops and seven to eight guns.
  • The Shaikh Kuwait reported that mines were received for the waters off of Fao.
  • Lastly there are the Turkish sources. Fao had 110 rifles, four guns and no machine guns.

These are assumed to be a mix of local Arabs and Ottoman troops.

For the Ottomans I will go with small companies of three stands each compared to the British four and Indian three. The number of companies is undetermined.

So how do we run this? I think very carefully. General Delamain knows he has over whelming superiority and has the Royal Navy to assist. But in any good game there has to be a certain level of uncertainty. Do the Ottomans have machine guns? Will the warships be able to bring in a barrage prior to the landing? Are the Ottomans trained or just a rabble?

In the end I am going with a random events/forces chart (to be seen in the next Lardies Christmas Special) for the beginning of this campaign. Will General Delamain win? I think so as it will be hard to stop the British from advancing on Basra and possibly Qurna. Hard, but not impossible.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

On to Baghdad - The Teams

Here we have the players. Each has its weaknesses and even a few strengths. It will be a long hard slough but I am sure the British will be in Baghdad by Christmas, just not sure which year.

Indian Army 
This is the basis of the British forces in the Persian Gulf and Mesopotamia. The Indian Army was responsible for this area as well as east Africa, yet it does not appear they have a plan on what to do. Most of the army plans dealt with the Northwest Frontier. This army up until the siege of Kut Al Amara operated on a shoe string logistical budget. At one point it was thought that all that was needed to take Baghdad was two divisions, one on the offensive and a second defending the supply lines. They were wrong by several factors.

Ottoman Empire
The Sick Man of Europe, but in the words of John Young in the Holy Grail, I’m not dead (yet). The Ottomans and their army were fighting well above their class, doing respectably against the Russians, British and French on four fronts. Good on the defensive, the Allies should be wary of these troops.

The Persian Army was an army in name only. They had trouble maintaining their frontiers from Russian and British forces as well as internal brigands. This was a land of intrigue were German and British spies operated in the open. Easily fodder for another game. Easy to throw together a border force for Through the Mud and the Blood but I see little likelihood of a larger force being put on the table. Than again…

Russian Empire
They have a strong interest in Persia and the Ottoman border areas. Easy enough to add a Cossack unit or two to the mix. FYI, the Cossacks were used as part of the police force in Persia. Like the Persians, not a main player, but there are possibilities.

Wild Card Forces, There are so many here…and a few that could be a surprise.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Naval Battles for the Tabletop

As I am going over the forces for my two Falkland’s battles Mark brought up a point I hear often in running naval games in general and submarine actions in particular. That is “that Submarine Battles are the most boring things ever.” OK Mark, we have you on record stating this. And looking at the big picture he is correct. Naval actions are quick and nasty engagements. Forces have little time to react once weapons are away. Crew training and luck are what allows a ship or submarine to return to port.

Looking at modern engagement we have:

1973 Yom Kippur
  • War Battle of Baltim 3 engagements lasting less than an hour and a half 
  • Battle of Latakia 4 engagements lasting less than two hours 

Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 
Two Type 14 (Blackwood-class) frigate of the Indian Navy against a Pakistani Daphne class submarine. (I do have a soft spot for the Blackwood Class). Indians had no knowledge of the presence of the submarine until the torpedo was fired. Unfortunately for the Pakistanis the torpedo failed to explode. A second was fired and the engagement was over in less than 30 minutes (possibly closer to 15 minutes).

Falkland War
Most of the fights were short, once both sides were engaged. This does not include time to set up the best possible solution.

So are these enjoyable to put on the table, I think so. Naval tactics in the Cold War era was based on finding, tracking and if necessary eliminating the target. Submarines trained in attack and counter measures. Even once a torpedo is in the water, the defending submarine can still launch what is called a “snap-shot” were they fire a torpedo down the path of the oncoming torpedo. This can disrupt the wire guidance of the attacker and if your luck is holding you may get a kill.

On the gaming table, modern naval actions will take longer to play out than it was to actually fight them. I am ok with that. I do not have a Fire Control Party to help me run my simulations. You learn why things were done historically.

Let me know what you think.

Royal Navy Toast for a Friday 
"A Willing Foe and Sea-Room"

Friday, October 10, 2014

Heading North

For those interested, and if you are reading this I assume you are, On to Baghdad is a historical campaign that I will be running over the next few months. It will be using 15mm miniatures from my collection and hopefully others that I can bring along with this insanity.

My figures are a mix of Mini Figs and Peter Pig. I know there are a few others but they were bought on a lark and I forget the companies. We will also see small craft and some trucks and cars as they were used in Mesopotamia at the time.

Terrain is easy as the campaign is fought mostly in a flood plain and I have buildings from doing Aqaba. Rules will be a mix of the Lardies’ Through the Mud and the Blood, and If the Lord Spares Us.

Please follow along for battle reports, how to build river craft and most important how we do against the history.

Next up, the Fort at Fao.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

On to Baghdad

As the Germans advanced deeper into France the British Empire was unifying to assist the home islands. The Indian Army while looking to support operations in east Africa and in France also looked at protecting the oil refineries in Mohammerah for the Royal Navy.
The Persian Gulf for decades was considered the domain of the Royal Navy and the Indian Army. It surprised no one when the HMS Espiegle and HMS Dalhousie arrived in the Shatt-al-Arab protecting British interests.
While the Ottomans were concerned at this intrusion in what they considered their territorial waters they lacked a navy to enforce their claims.
On the 5th of November the Indian Expeditionary Force ‘D’ arrived to protect the facilities and the next day landed at the old fort at Fao.
This blog will follow the advance north to Baghdad in real time using historical sources, period media and miniatures. Lots of miniatures. Together we will fight the battles as the Indian Army advances On to Baghdad.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Music and War Tourism

Today we talk about a strange new industry called war tourism. This is where westerns go off to ISIS controlled Syria and Iraq and fight for what I can only assume to be their beliefs. While the term is new men and women have often gone off to fight in causes they believed in.

When I first heard about this on the BBC I thought of Hemingway and the Lincoln Brigade fighting in Spain during their Civil War.  Is there much of a difference. While I have read about and listened to interviews of the soldiers that fought against Franco I have not heard from similar tourists going off to Syria.

Will we treat these current day warriors the same way? Many that went off to fight in Spain were able to use their training in fighting the Germany in WWII. Unfortunately their home countries (US and Britain come to mind) not only forgot about them, but also persecuted them as Reds and Communists in the post WWII era.

As an unrepentant cold warrior I get it. It was not right but it is important to see the period in the eyes of those that were there.

With all this news on ISIS I come to read this week that the Smithsonian has released folk tune from the Spanish Civil War.  Songs heard by the 2,500 that went off to fight from the US as well as friends and family at home. I look forward to listening to these and think about men (and women) willing to leave their country and go and fight for their beliefs.

Are you able to do this?