Out of the Shed: You can never have too many trucks!

Just after the Launch of MEGABLITZ I went on a bit of a buying binge and bought huge numbers of die-cast metal and plastic vehicles. I used quite a few of them when I created my Soviet MEGABLITZ army, but the rest went into the shed … only to be rediscovered during the recent clear out.

So what vehicles do I have?

Majorette
These are all Ford A trucks … which can be used as Ford/Gaz AA trucks as long as you are not too fussy!

Lledo
These are a mixture of Mac and Bedford trucks. They look fairly generic and can be used as transport vehicles by most late 1930s/early 1940s wargames armies.

Ertl
These are all from the range of cars that were sold as commercial tie-ins when the ‘Dick Tracey’ movie was released. They are ideal for conversion into staff cars.

Matchbox
These large Mercedes-Benz trucks would be idea tank transporters for model Pzkpfw I tanks.

Modified Vehicles
At some point I modified some of these vehicles.

In the case of the Majorette Ford A I removed the original wheels and replaced them with smaller ones. I also reduced the width of the vehicle by sawing off the protruding parts of the running boards and wheel arches. As a result the model was lower and looked rather more like the Ford/Gaz AA that it had done.

The Ertl Coupes were subject some rather more extensive modifications. Two had the original roofs cut off and replaced by collapsed canopies made from Green Stuff whilst the other had the boot removed and a small pick-up body added in its place.


The Battle of Lembitu: Tiger in ambush

My wife and I had a wargaming friend of mine staying with us overnight on Tuesday, and on Wednesday morning I set up a MEMOIR ’44 scenario on my wargames table for us to fight out. Both of us were relatively new to using MEMOIR ’44 with figures rather than with the playing pieces and boards that come with the game, so I chose a scenario that had a mixture of armour, infantry, and artillery. I was able to use some of my collection of 20mm-scale figures and vehicles as well as my Hexon II terrain.


The scenario I chose was BATTLE OF LEMBITU: TIGER IN AMBUSH. The map that comes with the scenario looks like this:

I managed to almost completely reproduce this on my tabletop, the results looked like this:

(The only problems that I had were:

  • I could not fit the right-hand row of hexes on the tabletop;
  • I had no suitable terrain features that would indicate marshes … so I used some oblongs of dark olive green felt that I normally use to represent minefields.)

The game briefing stated:

On the 17th of March 1944, near the Estonian village of Lembitu, west of Narva, the Soviet Army launched a massive attack on German defensive positions guarding the strategic railway Narva-Tallinn. German infantrymen were quickly in trouble because of the numbers, but the coming of two Tigers tanks of the 502.schwere Panzer Abteilung changed the fate of the battle. Russians tanks couldn’t resist the counter-attack of the two Tigers led by Otto Carius, a famous ace of the German Panzerwaffe. At the end of the day, more than fifteen tank wrecks were scattered on the battlefield. The Russian attack was repelled.


Because I got so engrossed in actually fighting this battle, I forgot to take any photographs as it progressed … which was a pity but it does show how intense our involvement in the wargame was.

I commanded the Russians whilst my friend took charge of the Germans. The end result was a victory for the Germans. (They had destroyed three each of my Armoured and Infantry units whilst my Russians had only managed to destroy one of the German Armoured units and two of their Infantry units.)

In the post-battle discussions about the rules there were one or two things that we felt needed improving, but that these were minor cosmetic changes and did not require a full-scale revision of the rules. We also both felt that part of the enjoyment we gained from this battle was due in no small part to the fact that we had used painted toy soldiers and vehicles rather than the plastic playing pieces that come with the game.

I used figures from my MEGABLITZ collection for this battle … and both of us felt that using two two-figure bases for each Infantry unit worked well, and that this was better than the single-figure units we had used previously. Likewise the fact that casualties to Infantry units were indicated by ‘kill rings’ (actually plastic blind rings) rather than figure removal was more aesthetically appealing.


Insomnia

I have suffered from insomnia for many years, and last night it was particularly bad. 1.00am, 2.00am, and 3.00am came and went … and I was still awake. Finally at some point after 3.15am I began to doze off … and then I suddenly had an wargaming idea that woke me up again! Obviously my subconscious mind had been whirring away whilst I was lying there unable to sleep, and as I had begun to go to sleep my brain had ‘dumped’ my subconscious thinking into my conscious mind.

So what was my wargaming idea? A possible way to meld together elements of various wargames rules that I have used or developed to create a new, simple operational-level set of ‘Modern’ wargames rules.

I am thinking of incorporating the following elements into these new rules:

  • Unit/Formation Order/Status Markers as used in Megablitz
  • Degradable unit strengths similar to those used in Memoir ’44
  • The use of a playing card tile unit activation system
  • Allowing units to ‘stack’ in hexes (i.e. allowing more than one unit in each hex)
  • A separate artillery fire phase as used in Joseph Morschauser’s rules
  • An artillery fire effect resolution system wherein all units in a target hex are affected by the artillery fire
  • An artillery fire effect resolution system that reflects the type of artillery that is firing (i.e. mountain, field, medium, and heavy artillery)
  • Area movement using 10cm hexes, with each hex representing an area that is 2.5km from hex face to hex face
  • Movement distances based on those used in Megablitz
  • A hex-to-hex combat system based on those used in Joseph Morschauser’s rules
  • Logistics and re-supply rules similar to those used in Megablitz

I woke up this morning tired but enthusiastic about putting my ideas down on paper … and I have a feeling that I may well turn these ideas into a set of wargames rules in the near future.


Diversions

I had fully expected to have started a colonial campaign by now … but outside events have diverted me from my projected course of action.

Firstly I am still getting to grips with Cyberboard. As I want to create my campaign map using the Cyberboard Design program, I need to spend a bit more time learning how to use all the program’s main functions before I can draw the map.

Secondly I spent last Saturday taking part in a Megablitz battle set in France in 1940 … and that rekindled my interest in operational-level wargaming, with the result that I have spent some time thinking about how I could modify Megablitz to work on hexes.

Thirdly my toy/wargames room needed to be tidied up … and I managed to complete most of that on Monday.

Fourthly the spell of recent good weather has presented me the opportunity to do some much needed work in our garden. Over the years the action of rainwater running downhill had caused erosion of the right-hand side of our lawn, and the installation of wooden lawn edging should ensure that this prevents the problem recurring.

Finally our old cat – Big Boy – died yesterday. He had been suffering from major problems with his thyroid for sometime and had been on a course of tablets to help him cope with the effects. He also had to have blood samples taken from the thyroid every couple of months, and this had to be done under anaesthetic. It was during such a procedure that he suffered a heart attack and died.

I hope to get back on track over the next week or so … but who knows what will divert me from my plans in the meantime?


France 1940: The battle report

I was almost totally wrong about what I would end up doing in this battle … and actually fought a rearguard action against a reinforced German Infantry Division and an attack on a Panzer Division!

During the first part of the battle I was in command of the French 53rd Infantry Division (a Series B Reserve Division containing older reservists) …

… which was dug in around the town of Hirson, a small industrial town near the Franco-Belgian border.

Almost as soon as the invasion started, my Division came under air attack …

… whilst my position was probed by light armoured reconnaissance units from a Panzer Division.

The Panzers bypassed Hirson, but this was a prelude to an all-out attack by a reinforced German Infantry Division.

The German attacked during the night, but were held off (at great cost) and when they renewed their attack at first light they swept away the remains of one of the Division’s three Infantry Regiments.

By this time the 53rd Infantry Division was cut off, had no line of retreat, and was close to 50% of its original strength … and the only course of action left to it was to surrender.

I was immediately switched to command of 5th Motorised Division, which was advancing towards Bethune. This was a regular formation, and was very well equipped.

I moved the Division forward so that it was threatening the flank of one of the advancing Panzer Divisions, which immediately turned to intercept the advancing French formation.

Whilst the Panzer Division engaged the majority of 5th Motorised Division, I managed to slip one of the Division’s Motorised Infantry Regiments past the Germans.

The resulting battle was a slogging match, and after suffering considerable casualties I withdrew the bulk of the Division back to Bethune, pursued by the Panzer Division.

The Panzer Division mounted yet another attack on 5th Motorised Division, which was on the verge of collapse when the battle came to an end.

And what happened to the Motorised Regiment that managed to get past the advancing Germans? It ended up facing off an entire Panzer Division on its own …

… just as the battle ended!

This was a thoroughly enjoyable day … and proved yet again that the Megablitz system works. There were 21 players taking part, some of whom were (like me) old hands and some who were new to the rules. By the end of the first day of game time (we fought through three days of game time during the five hours of wargaming that took place) everyone was confidently using the rules and thinking like Divisional/Corps commanders.

My thanks go to everyone involved in organising the game and providing the ‘toys’ (Tim), setting up and organising the venue (Tom), providing the catering (Kiera), and umpiring the game (Tim and Chris), as well as to all the other players who took part.


France 1940

I am off to the wilds of the Wiltshire/Oxfordshire border this morning to take part in a multi-player Megablitz battle set in north eastern France in 1940. I am one of the French team … and I am fully expecting to find myself spending most of the day fighting a number of rearguard actions against the armoured might of the German Army.

It should be a fun and very busy day … and I know that the company and food will be excellent.

The following are photographs from one of the earliest Megablitz battles … which was also set in France in 1940!


A week to go!

It is now just a week until COW2013 starts … and I am really looking forward to it.

I spoke to my co-organiser – Tim Gow – earlier today, and it seems that everything that needs to be done has been done, and that if anything unforeseen crops up, we can deal with it.

We also discussed the Operation Vijay session that we are putting on at COW2013. Tim is providing the ‘toys’, including some wonderful 1:300th-scale aircraft, several small-scale model warships, and enough suitable 1:300th-scale Megablitz units to represent the Portuguese and Indian troops that took part. All that I need to do is to add the finishing touches to the briefing packs that will be given to each side … and then everything will be ready for the session.