Tuesday, January 31, 2017

My Bests (IMHO) for 2016

As 2017 is a month old, I have had time to reflect on 2016 as a gaming year. While I know I did not play or paint as much as I would have wanted, I did accomplish some painting and gaming and met great gaming partners. This happens to include both face-to-face players and others on Social Media. The US President is not the only one to enjoy Twitter. Social Media in particular and the Internet in general have done a great deal to add new life into our hobby. So I want to give recognition to those that made 2016 a good gaming year for me, so in no particular order...

Guy playing What a Tanker!
For Best Friend of the Hobby, no gamer or reader could find any better friend of the hobby than Guy Bowers. I have never met Guy, but have corresponded through emails, Social Media and blogs dealing with historical sources and Wargames Soldiers & Strategy, the magazine he is editor of. He is always quick with a response to inquiries and always a kind word. He is the top of any list of agents that have assisted me to spend more money than I expected on books, rules or miniatures. I guess I could just blames WSS. :-)

Wargames Soliders & Strategy is not a house publication so Guy and his team works hard in gathering material from all time periods and rule sets. I can always find something of interest in every issue.

Best New Podcast was tough as he have had a couple enter the market but Jay Arnold hit the ground running with  The Veteran Wargamer. In the four months since he has started Jay has produced nine episode covering game design, etiquette, fantasy, gaming style as well as a year in review. He is also helpful in asking for and responding to feedback. An asset to our gaming community and a pleasure to listen to.

The next two are related, first Best New (for me) Company. I met Craig and Gaming Models through a fellow blogger Chris Stoesen when I was looking for an unusual early early war German armoured car, the Kfz. 13 The Bathtub. While Craig did not have one he put it on his list of vehicles to design and I now have two new models added to my 1939 German forces. 

Gaming Models continues to add to there resin line that includes AFVs, soft-skins, gliders, terrain and artillery. Craig has even added to the line with steam-punk vehicles. He listens to gamers and will work with you to create the best gaming experience.

As I said the last two were related, my fourth is Best New Model. This year it was the M-51 IDF Sherman conversion with the French 105 from Gaming Models. Craig's model was good in detail and the only thing it was lacking was heft, it is resin after all. But what made it special to me is it got me interested again in the IDF and actions in 1973 and 1982. We will be seeing the M-51 on the Golan soon.

So I end by saying 2016 was a good year and I am looking forward to making 2017 even better. 

Thank you.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

If War Should Come

I will often buy a book for a project, the project gets side tracked and the book ends up on the shelf or in one of my banker storage boxes in the down stairs closet waiting for it to be pulled off and put to use. This one of those books. Bought when I was working on a Sea Lion Project 2015 it was put on the shelf with other 1940's Sea Lion books and at the end of last year I was determined to get some Chain of Command gaming using newly purchased but not painted figures. Well this month I finished off painting the Mick Yarrow figures, very healthy for 15mm and a platoon plus of Peter Pig figures. I do have to remind myself not to stray to far from Peter Pig. So I was ready for some reading.

But about this book, it says on the tin that it covers the last years of peace and that is not completely correct. It looks at the defenses of the South Coast going back to Napoleon and The Great War. While the detail on this is light, he has offered sources that will easily add a dozen books to my library on The Great War and Sea Lion that I do not own as of today.

The author goes into detail about war preparation dealing with gas attacks, air raids and food. He also shows how overwhelmed local government were when they were tasked with setting up shelters, food distribution and firefighting services. It is easy today in 2017 to forget that a village or town may not had any fire fighting equipment in 1938.

The plans that he looks at were often designed in 1917 and barely dusted off. There was always the expectation that the next war would not occur without a decades amount of warning. Instead of 10 years the British had only from Oct 1938 to Sep 1939 to complete the preparations, which were often not even started yet.

Lastly he goes into a great deal of detail of how the British primary plans were always to just "muddle through".  It is uncertain if government agencies just thought war was never going to happen, or if if they thought is was someone else's job to start and finish the projects. That changed with Munich. It was for the best, that plans were given some time to complete before September 1939 and even into the winter of the Phony War. Without that time there would not have been either Chain Home Radar Stations or the Hurricane and Spitfire. Just think of the Battle of Britain with the Hawker Hart and the Gloucester Gladiator.

As for a recommendation, I give this book five stars if you are interested in Sea Lion or inter-war military history. As it covers no battles and ends with the start of the war, it has very little action other than buearacratic and great great what-ifs. Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Do Not Give Up On The Game

In a recent podcast on the Veteran Wargamer, one of my favorite podcasts, the discussion came up on gamer etiquette. An important subject for both club and convention games.

Now I have taken part in several lost causes over the years, my favorite was portraying General Reynolds at Gettysburg holding up in town waiting on the arrival of the rest of the Army of the Potomac. Festung-Gettysburg. Troops on both sides were brittle after a day of heavy combat but General Meade did not know this and decided to cut his losses and refuse battle, with my troops escaping to the east with the coming of night fall, I so wanted to lay a dope slap on the rest of the Union forces. But the group I was playing with saw no reason to continue the fight. As this happened over 20 years ago I guess it left a mark.

The best example, in a good way, for me was a HMGS game back in 2012 where Mark Kinsey and I were running an IABSM engagement on the Golan just before the IDF counter attack was to get underway. One one side was a single Centurion (and LtC Yossi Amir), a couple of jeeps and a couple of rump platoons of Super Shermans. Not alot. On the Syrian side was 30 T-55s and a company of BTR mounted infantry. The Syrians made short work of the Super Shermans but they and the jeeps delayed and disrupted the Syrians allowing the Centurion with its Ace Tanker to take out the T-55s one at a time. If he saw them, he could kill them.

Now the Syrians were played by a gamer my age, read old, and a young man looking to play a game. Half way in, the more mature gamer threw up his hands and said in no uncertain terms that the game was unwinnable and quit.

Now Mark and I played it through many times both historical and as games, we know our audience. We played the IDF because in many play tests the IDF was down to only a single tank by the end of the game and that we thought would be demoralizing.

Our Hero

So Mark and I did the only thing we could, I became Syrian, and explained how to use realistic bounding tactics to obtain some cover but was eventually able to break the IDF tank the hill position and win the game. Also Mark did concentrate on destroying the tanks I was moving. But the win belonged to the young man with no name.

In the last hour of the game we had a nice crowd, including the boys father, and others cheering him on. It was my best convention experience. Only wish I could of shared that with the man who dropped out.

I would like to think we helped win over a historical gamer. I think so. So yes, do not give up the game.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Renault FT-17 - Oh so Cute

Yes a tank can be cute, or at least that is what my first wife said of the Italian and French tanks down in Aberdeen Maryland. She laughed when I told here some were made by Renault and Fiat. :-)

A friend to the entire hobby community, Craig of Gaming Models  has now released my favorite tank of all time, but the Cromwell/Comet/Centurion line is a close second, the Renault FT-17.

This is a tank that was designed in 1917 and saw combat in 1918 and has seen action often ever since, with copies found in Iraq and Afghanistan today.

From the plains of China in the 1920s and 30s, France in 1940 or the streets of Washington in 1932 this was a versatile yet slow tank. Easy to operate and maintain, great for a national army or a local warlord. See your local arms dealer, or Craig, to get yours. Even MacArthur, Eisenhower and Patton were endorsers, or at least users of the FT-17 during there wartime and peacetime careers.

As for the arms dealer comment, there is a lot of truth in this.  If you have cash or better yet gold you to could become an armoured power. Useful to test out, and copy (see Soviet T-18), or use to put down brigands in Manchuria or Spanish Morocco.

For me it is in World War II that interests me the most, from German use of captured tanks for air field defense, anti-partisan actions and coastal positions the Germans kept these museum pieces in action at the same time they were using Tigers and Panthers.

In 1939 Poland had a significant number of FT-17s to use in Operation Case White. From PIBWL Poland had the following tanks in service, more or less.
  • 112 light tanks Renault FT-17 (numbers: 1001-1112)
  • 6 radio tanks Renault TSF (numbers: 2001-2006)
  • 27 training tanks Renault FT-17 CWS (nos:3001-3027)
  • 5 tanks Renault M26/27
  • 24 tanks Renault NC-27 (in fact, 1 tank, the rest might be FT-17s)
  • 174 tanks in total
So I can see a platoon of these for Poland and maybe a couple for some Imagination based in Central Asia where I can use my Ottomans, British and Arabs. May even need to look at the Ottomans from Peter Pig. So many options here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Early Morning Village

Here are a couple of pictures of my English village in progress.

 I took these this morning with the only light in the basement being the plant light, looking to simulate dawn. I need to work on some of the MDF buildings and the roads, but in general I am pleased how well it is coming out. Waiting on additional walls from Gaming Models, first time trying Craig's terrain. I also have a couple dozen trees to add to the village. Also waiting on the new releases by Sarissa Precision. A great time to be working on the village at this time.

Lastly I have move wheat fields that I can add to the mix. I might be getting close to going for a 8 by 6 table but that may be getting ahead of myself. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Hello 2017

Well, we are a little less than two weeks in I am off and running. I have painted up three tanks (more on this latter and four 28mm Pulp Figures. But what is truly impressive, or ambitious, or maybe stupid is what is on my painting bench.

Dozens of AeroNefs, two platoons of 15mm infantry, British 1944 infantry and 1940 Home Guard (120 figures), and a dozen plus tanks. Yes I may have taken a big bite.

The British infantry are from PSC and I am very pleased with these hard plastic figures. The Home Guard are Peter Pig, also very good. The tanks are from Gaming Models and look great as always. I even have an American half-track for my movie Germans.  All of this kit will be used with TOOFATLardies Chain of Command.
The AeroNefs are from Brigade Models and will be used with my Imperial Skies rules. What I am waiting on here is to place an order with CoreSec Engineering for all of the basing bits for the airships.

I am not certain who wrote about his New Year's being to do 365 hours of painting in 2017 but I like it and I am following it. So far I have about five hours in, not to bad. Oh and I am also building up my village so 2017 will be busy.