Sunday 29 November 2020

The Eye of the Beholder

Today's video on The Quarantined Wargamer is sort of a response video to a thought-provoking article in the latest issue of Wargames Soldiers and Strategy. I completely agree with the sentiments expressed by the author, Warwick Louth, but couldn't resist adding my tuppence worth! I very much think the internet is a wonderful resource and a terrible place all at the same time. So the question is asked, do the wonderful images seen online and in magazines put people off painting their miniatures? Or should we be considering what it is we want from our hobby and adjusting our personal expectations to fit that outcome? 

As always I'd love to hear from you (respond to my response in fact) either in the comments below or on my YouTube Channel. 

Stay safe everyone, and of course, keep rolling high! 

Friday 27 November 2020

Debris of War - Furniture

I have been working on a lot of little items of late to use as 'scatter terrain' or set dressing for a games table. These are items that probably won't serve any purpose from the point of view of gameplay, but will enhance the look of the table. These models from Peter Pig fit that bill perfectly. 

They can be used in amongst the ruins of buildings or piled into the back of carts. I particularly like the upright piano and the chests of drawers. Simple items of furniture that make a ruined building look a little more realistic I think. 

Wednesday 25 November 2020

A forward Supply Depot

The logistics of warfare is an area that we often overlook when we wargame. Supply lines and lines of communication have always been vital in warfare but as armies became more and more mechanised the needs of fuel and spare parts and other essential items became as important as things like food and medicines. One of the major problems for the allies with invading in the Normandy region was the lack of a significant port. The raid on Dieppe had shown that trying to capture a port in the first wave of an invasion would be extremely costly, if not impossible. They fully expected that Cherbourg would probably be out of action for some time after the Invasion, but more importantly, it was a long way from where the front was going to be in maybe a month or two months time. This knowledge influenced allied backing of the Mulberry harbour construction, providing a port facility much closer to where the fighting was going to be, not just during the Invasion itself, but in the immediate months ahead. 

The harbour served its purpose and by the end of 11th June 104,428 tonnes of supplies had been landed in Northern France. Rough weather hampered the effort and forced the abandonment of Mulberry Harbour A at Omaha Beach. However, Harbour B at Gold Beach was still in use 10 months after the invasion, by which time over 4 million tons of supplies had been landed. The scale of the logistical effort to sustain the invasion was huge. The U.S. military alone had to ship 7 million tons of supplies and replacement vehicles to the staging areas, including 450,000 tons of ammunition. All of this took place in an age before containerisation and required an army of dockhands, drivers and support personnel to keep the flow of material to the fighting troops at the front. 

These little models are not particularly good. They are made from a plaster-like resin which soaks up the paint and has lots of bubbles in them. However, I bought these for the silly sum of 50p on a bring and buy stall some years ago, so despite their quality, there were still worth buying. To be honest, when you look at them at arm's-length on the tabletop, the flaws are hardly noticeable, so they will do for most games. I think they are actually meant to be for 28mm wargames because the crates are pretty large for 15mm. However, I think that they'll be ideal for a tank depot where the crates carrying spare gun barrels, engines or sections of track would be pretty large. 

I have a few more 'scatter terrain' items to finish off which should be ready to show off for Friday. Don't get too excited, they are tiny, won't really have much impact on a game but will enhance the look of certain scenes on the games table. 

Sunday 22 November 2020

Are you a Secret Wargamer?

Do you hide your hobby from your non-gamer friends? Would you be embarrassed if your work colleagues knew about your little metal men? Would you acknowledge your pastime on your CV? Many gamers wouldn't, some feel they can't and others (like myself) let the cat out of the bag years ago with the advent of social media. This week's Quarantined Wargamer takes a lighthearted look at a serious subject. 

I'd love to hear from you, what choices have you made and why? Please join the discussion in the comments below or on my YouTube Channel and of course if you enjoyed the video please hit the 'Like' button.  Until next week I hope your all staying safe and of course rolling high! 

Friday 20 November 2020

The Chausey Granite Walls of Normandy

Nothing fancy this Friday, just more walls. I painted up a load of low walls for things like field boundaries a few weeks ago and now its time for some tall walls for courtyards. This small set is from Timecast and I actually bought them to accompany some Landmark buildings that I bought at Salute in 2019. The buildings are very nice but not suitable for my Chain of Command games because they don't have internal spaces for infantry. They're more than ok for What a Tanker games though and these walls could be used in either setting. 

These stand about 18mm tall so will provide complete cover for infantry and concealment for some smaller vehicles. I only have enough for a small courtyard between a few buildings but it least I have that option available to me now. The set includes four long sections 146mm long (just under 6"), two smaller sections 75mm (3") long and two more 55mm (a tad over 2") sections. The set also comes with a large double gate which I mounted on a section of sprue so it would stand up. With the gate, the whole lot comes in a fraction under 3ft. I normally try to write a little historical blurb about what I have painted but honestly what can I say about walls.. well more than one might imagine! 

In Lower Normandy and the area around the Cotentin Peninsula, it is quite common to see buildings built from light granite blocks. When I was much younger I spent a couple of family holidays in the Channel Islands and the use of granite as a building material is common there as well. Most of the Granite apparently came from the island of Chausey - geographically part of the Channel Islands but under French jurisdiction - which is why so much of the archipelago's buildings share the same building material to those of the Cotentin Peninsula. The further east you go in Normandy the more likely you are to encounter buildings (such as the larger ecclesiastical buildings like the Cathedrals) made from a particularly hard limestone known as Caen Stone. Unlike the light grey Granite of Chausey, Caen Stone is a light creamy-yellow so its possible to tell which bit of Normandy you are in from the colour of the buildings. 

Wednesday 18 November 2020

A Quarantined Wargamer Update

A few days ago I recorded my 40th episode of the quarantined wargamer and this minor milestone got me thinking about this whole YouTube thing I have been working on. So I thought it would be a good idea to share a few behind the scenes pictures and have a look at where I am with this project, where I think it's going and ask the all-important question, can I keep it up?! Before I start it's worth saying that for various reasons the next few months are going to be very busy for me. Both professionally and on the hobby front, I have a lot going on and I can see things getting busier, so I need to be very careful not to overload myself. So this bit of self-reflection is probably a good idea (for me at the very least) and a chance to ask for some feedback from regular readers and viewers. 

Sunday 15 November 2020

Conquer the Lead Mountain

Does the presence of your Lead Mountain nag at you and give you stress?  Is the gravitational field of that big pile of metal interfering with your enjoyment of the hobby? Do you need supplemental oxygen to reach the summit? If the answer is yes to any of these, maybe you need to develop a strategy for conquering your lead mountain. Today's episode of The Quarantined Wargamer suggests a simple strategy for dealing with the problem. 

I hope you enjoyed that video and of course if you did please hit the 'Like' button and consider subscribing to my channel. As always I would love to hear from you either here on the blog or in the comments on youtube. How big is your 'lead' mountain and does it worry you. What are your strategies for dealing with it...or have you successfully pushed its existence to the back of your mind?

I hope everyone is staying well and for readers in England, I hope you are coping with Lockdown 2.0! Until next week, stay safe and of course, keep rolling high! 

Friday 13 November 2020

Signposts for Normandy

Today I have another small addition for my 15mm Normandy 1944 terrain. These signposts are from Peter Pig and feature some signpost decals that Model Dads released back in 2014 I think. I'm not sure the decals are sold any more which is a great shame because they are pretty good...and I've finally got some signs to put them on! I have kept a few of the signs blank so I can fill them out at a later date when I have a specific game to use them in. 

The Peter Pig set consists of eight metal signposts, some typical roadside signs and some more ad-hoc affairs presumably put up by the military. You may notice that some of the signs feature the names of locations in the British and Canadian sectors around Caen. "But you have American infantry" I hear you say, which is true at the moment... 

I have just bought a load of British Airbourne troops for battles in the eastern end of the Overlord lodgement, which I'll be painting in the Analogue Painting Challenge over the winter. A mix of very nice figures from Peter Pig and Skytrex are sitting on my desk as I type this. I'll be cleaning them up and preparing them for the challenge over the next few weeks... but more on that in a later post, closer to the time. 

Wednesday 11 November 2020

Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf N

The Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf N was the last production model of the Panzer III and the only version to be armed with the 7.5 cm L/24 gun. The gun had been used on earlier versions of the Panzer IV and fired a much more effective high explosive round than the longer barrel guns fitted to earlier versions of the Panzer III. Only 700 Ausf N's were made and all used chassis from earlier versions of the Panzer III, most based on the Ausf J, L and M. 

The Ausf N had frontal armour of 50mm and side armour of 30mm so it wasn't as well protected as its larger cousins. However, it had a maximum road speed of 40 km per hour with an average speed of 20 off-road making it's relatively 'nippy'. Its theoretical range was 155 km on roads and 95 km off-road and like all German armour towards the end of the war was limited mostly by fuel supplies rather than spare parts. As well as the main gun it could carry 64 rounds of a mix of 7.5cm armour piercing and high explosive shells, and 3750 rounds of a 7.92 mm machine gun rounds, belted in 150 round bags. 

It looks fairly small compared to the Mark IV and of course Panthers and Tigers. At just two-and-a-half meters high and weighing in at about 23 metric tons, it was a lightweight compared to the heavy vehicles that we are used to seeing. However, its ability to ford 60cm deep water, cross a 2.3 m wide trench and obstacles up to 60 cm tall (and climb a 30 degrees slope) made it an ideal infantry support vehicle. In the Russian campaigns, they were fitted with Schurzen to protect the sides from anti-tank rifle fire. This practice also provided some limited protection against bazookas and PIATs later in the war. The Ausf  N saw service in Russia, North Africa and Europe and the Germans even gave some to their allies in Hungary. 

Production ended in 1943 but some of these were still in use 1944, albeit in very small numbers, continuing in their role as infantry support tanks. However, by this time most surviving Pzr III's were being taken back to be converted into the turretless Sturmgeschütz III.

Sunday 8 November 2020

Sportsmanship verses Gamesmanship in Wargaming

Today's episode of The Quarantined Wargamer discusses Sportsmanship versus gamesmanship across the wargames table. When does psyching out your opponent become bullying? And does it even belong around the games table? 

As always if you enjoyed the video please hit the Like button and consider subscribing to my channel. I'd love to hear from you so please leave your own thoughts on this issue either on youtube or here on my blog below. 

Next week I'll be discussing how to conquer that Lead Mountain, but until then stay safe and keep rolling high! 

Friday 6 November 2020

Citroen Traction Avant from Peter Pig

I have been looking for a few small items as 'scatter terrain' for my 15mm Normandy setting and wanted to get myself some civilian vehicles. Peter Pig make this nice looking Citroen and I decided I needed to get it. It's a generic version of the Traction Avant family of cars which began production in 1934 until 1939/40 (resuming again after the war). This Citroen featured front-wheel drive, independent suspension and unlike many of its contemporaries, it avoided the need for a separate chassis (on which the 'coachwork' was built) by adopting a welded unitary body approach. This made the vehicle lighter (70kg lighter than equivalent vehicles) and more fuel-efficient. Its lower profile also gave the vehicle a much sleeker and stylish aesthetic which was quite unique when it first came out. In short its a beautiful looking car. 

Production was temporarily halted during the war but resumed again in 1945 and the series continued in production well into the late '50s. Designed for mass production is was cheap enough that a well off farmer may well have been able to afford one so it won't look out of place parked in front of my 4Ground farmhouse. 

I went for the simple black bodywork because it looks so elegant with its chromed bumpers and fittings. Yellow headlights and green number plates finish the look. As usual, I gave it a couple of coats of gloss varnish but instead of finishing off with a flat matt varnish I only applied Matt varnish to the tires. And unlike my military vehicles, I didn't add any mud splashes...this car has been looked after by its proud owner! 

Wednesday 4 November 2020

Tank Battle at River Cottage

Last week I posted a Batrep for a Chain of Command game set in Normandy 1944 which kept me happily occupied in the early part of the Half Term holiday. I had a few days off work but we weren't going anywhere so I decided to keep myself busy getting in some Solo games. It took me a couple of days to set up the terrain (I'm very fussy!) and I completed a full game of Chain of Command which saw my American Riflemen beat a German Infantry Platoon who were ensconced in a Normandy Farmhouse. When I'd finished the game I packed away the figures but decided I didn't want to break down the terrain set up I'd built instead reusing it for another Too Fat Lardies game, What a Tanker!

The Setup

The action in this game is set earlier in the day before the infantry arrives and sees a Tiger I face off against a Sherman M4 and a Firefly. I've played a few games with the Tiger before and I knew from experience that it's a tough nut to crack so although the Allied tanks came in at more points I didn't feel that this was an unbalanced game. 

The Action

As with my earlier Batrep, here's a picture of the setup, this time showing the Tiger coming in from the left and the M4 and Firefly coming down the lane from the right. 

You may notice that this layout differs only slightly from the Chain of Command game I posted last week. The shell craters at the main road junction are missing...but I'll come to this a bit later! 

As with my previous Batrep, I'll be listing the dice rolls for Command Dice for each tank so you can see how I decided to use the dice. I'll list the dice in order, from one to five. Any 6's are at the end where they belong but I'll try to show what I converted them to by striking them through and listing the conversions afterwards in italics (where I remembered to write it down!). Later in the game, as temporary damage is taken, you'll notice the number of command dice being reduced or increased as the damage is inflicted and repaired. 

You'll also notice that the order in which the tanks go varies because I'm rolling for initiative each turn which occasionally made for some interesting moments! 

Turn 1

Tiger 111345 - The tiger is unbuttoned and remains so throughout the game... partly because that's how I did the model but also to improve its vision and therefore targeting opportunities. The Tiger moves towards the junction but poor movement dice means it doesn't get all the way there. 

Firefly 112345 - The Firefly is in front of the M4 so moves out of its way by driving to the bottom of the hump-backed bridge. Its a tall tank so can still see over the bridge, giving it a 'hull down' position. The commander can't see the Tiger yet so doesn't acquire the target this turn. 

Sherman M4 11136611 - The perfect set of dice to be honest. The Sherman's engine roars to life and the tank surges forward. It makes it to the stream, crosses, and still has enough movement (using the wildcard dice for movement) to get to the field gates in a bold flanking move. If it can get behind the Tiger it can get a rear shot while the Firefly keeps it busy to the front.

Turn 2

Tiger 11256623 - The Tiger moves up to the junction and Acquires the Firefly (converting wildcards to Acquisition dice) but doesn't have enough dice to aim and fire. None the less the Firefly command must be having palpitations as he looks directly down the barrel of that 88!

Sherman  M4 1224461 - The Sherman using its wild dice to get more movement in and is now almost behind the Tiger in a hope to force it to shift position. 

Firefly 2234563 - The Firefly commander is able to Acquire the Tiger (it is VERY visible right now!), orders the gunner to aim and fire. The shot is on target but rather disconcertingly the AP shell impacts uselessly on the Tigers frontal armour. 

Turn 3

Tiger 335666111 - The Tiger goes first again and now the commander has a decision to make. He has the dice to shot at the Firefly but he's about to be flanked by the M4, so instead he decides to shift position. The Tigers engine belches black smoke and it lurches forward down the road to the farmhouse. A 90° turn puts it in front of the Farmhouse with a close-range side view of the Firefly. He's unable to fire this turn but it will force the Firefly to move. 

Sherman M4 1135561 - The Sherman moved across the Wheatfield into the road but can't acquire this turn.

Firefly 1122361 - The Firefly commander is a little perturbed to have the Tiger pointing its huge gun at his side armour to decides to reverse 90° into the field and use the Bridge to obscure itself from the Tiger. Both tanks loose acquisition in this careful games of chess. 

Turn 4

Tiger 2555661 - With the Firefly temporarily retreated the Tiger reverses out of the farmyard back on the road, shielding himself from the Firefly with the building, but now facing the M4 down the main road. The Target is acquired and the gunner is aimed but there are not enough command dice to fire the gun... maybe the mechanism jammed or the gunner wasn't quick enough. The Sherman Commander's life flashes before his eyes! 

Firefly 11246622 - The Firefly commander decides that he needs to change position again. He gets out onto the road and over the bridge and while he can acquire the target again he's not in a position to fire just yet. 

Sherman M4 334562 - The commander has a moment of rash bravery and decided to fire at the Tiger rather than trying to reverse out of trouble. The shot hits but once again the round bounces of the Tigers armour. The commander's heart sinks little knowing that inside the Tiger the German crew are more than a little alarmed at the second resounding strike on them. No one likes being shot at, no matter how thick the armour! 

Turn 5

Sherman M4 1224463 - The Sherman commanders luck holds as he gets to go first. Another round of AP streaks towards the Tiger tank scoring three hits. The Tigers armour should have shrugged this off but with just two saves it takes a point of temporary damage! The Tiger will operate with one fewer command dice until repaired. Having hit its target the Sherman reverses back into the wheatfield and out of view. 

Firefly 23456633 - Now the firefly gets to shoot, converting wild dice to aim dice to improve the shot. It scores three hits on the tiger but with 5 saves the shot impacts harmlessly on German armour. 

Tiger 22345 - No drive dice to move, not enough acquisition dice to see the Sherman through the Bocage and no wildcards to repair the damage. There is little the Tiger can do this turn. 

Turn 6

Tiger ????? - For some reason, I didn't write down the dice roll this turn (sorry) but again little happened and the Tiger is still in the sights of the Firefly. 

Sherman M4 ?????? - Yep still didn't make a note of the dice but with no drive dice amongst them the Sherman can do little this turn. 

Firefly 4566661333 - With some wild dice the Firefly takes very careful aim... scoring 5 hits on the Tiger. Three saves mean the Tiger survives for now but as most of the hits were criticals the damage is permanent so the Tiger lose one command dice which cannot be repaired. The hull is hit damaging the running gear so the tiger will move a little slower in future. 

Turn 7

Firefly 344455 - Perfect timing for the Firefly to win initiative. It takes aim, fires, reloads, fires a second time and reloads again. The first shot impacts harmlessly on the Tigers armour but the second hit does more temporary damage to the already beleaguered Panzer. 

Tiger 16Repair - The Tiger repairs a point of temporary damage but that returned command dice will only be available next turn so, for now, all the Tiger can do it try to get out of the Firefly's view. The Panzer reverses (slowly) behind the farmhouse. 

Sherman M4 14556623- The Sherman commander senses the wounded Tiger and decides to continue shooting at it. The M4 pulls into the road again and fires, but once again its shell impacts harmlessly on the Tigers impressive frontal armour. 

Turn 8

Tiger 336Repair - All the Tiger can do now is repair the temporary damage and hope its armour holds out long enough to give it a chance.

Firefly 1222461 - Having lost acquisition of its target the Firefly decides to change position and box the Tiger into its current position. The Firefly moves up to the junction with ample move to take up a partially concealed position behind the farm's pigsty where it reacquires the Tiger. 

Sherman 12246631 - Once again the Sherman nips out into the lane, acquires its target down the road, aims and fires. However, this time in its haste to shoot it misses its target entirely. Using the last wild dice it reverses back into the field and relative safety. 

Turn 9

Sherman M4 34456611 - Once again it nips out into the road, aims, reloads another AP and fires before darting back into cover. This time the shot is on target but predictably the hit is saved by the Tigers armour. 

Firefly 1244563 - Shifting position slightly the Firefly hits the Tiger once again with its 17pounder gun. The shot is on target but once again the Tigers formidable armour shrugs off the impact. 

Tiger 1344 - The Tiger commander has some wounded (possibly dead) crew, damage to the running gear of his tank, the inter-com is on the blink so he having to shout orders and all the remaining crew are being deafened by the gong-like clang of AP rounds hitting their armour. 

Turn 10

Sherman 1133465 - Another move into the road, aim and shoot again on target but with little effect. The Sherman commander curses orders the gun reloaded and reverses the tank back into the field again to take some concealment from the hedgerow. The fact that the Tiger hasn't fired in a while suggests the enemy is having some trouble. 

Tiger 366Repair x2 - One of the unconscious crewmen is revived and the intercom is fixed (two wild dice used for repair) so the Tiger regains two temporary damage and will be back up to 5 command dice next turn...if it lasts that long! 

Firefly 1122463 - The Firefly moves again but is able to aim and fire once more inflicting two temporary damage on the Tiger once again!! The Tiger crew are now sooner repairing the damage that they are receiving more. If they don't fire back soon this fight will end only one way. 

Turn 11

Tiger 226Repair - The Tiger does the only thing it can, repair some damage and hope to survive long enough to hot back. 

Sherman M4 1133465 - Convinced now that the Tiger is critically damaged in some way the Sherman commander hoves out onto the road and rolls down to stop next to the Firefly. Taking careful aim its shot is on target but once again ineffectual. 

Firefly 1134565 - Aims while reloading from the last turn then fires and reloads again. This shot is critical and deals another point of permanent damage and cripples the Tigers running gear even more.

Turn 12

Tiger 445 -Again the Tiger can do nothing and the crew are too shaken even to make any repairs. 

Firefly 135666445 - The Firefly gunner aims carefully, and prepares to out two rounds into the crippled Tiger. The first hit slices into the Panzers weakened armour, hits some of the rounds inside and with a muffled WHUMP the commanders hatch blows open and flames shoot skyward. 


Well, that was a very satisfying game which went on longer than I expected. The Tigers armour is formidable, shrugging off multiple hits from both the Sherman and the Firefly. In the end, it was the 17pdr gun in the Firefly which did the job. Once the Tiger started to take damage and was unable to move out of sight of the Allied tanks it couldn't repair damage as quickly as it was taking it. 

Shortly after this encounter German artillery bombarded the road junction in response to a request from the Tiger commander, radioed in just before he was killed. The Allied tanks skedaddled and German infantry took possession of the Farm as a forward command post. The burning Tiger was recovered and hauled away from the road just before some American infantry arrived to try and take this important position back from the Germans. 

Sunday 1 November 2020

Museums are worth their weight in reference books

It won't come as much surprise to regular readers to hear that I enjoy visiting a museum or two. In normal (pre-covid) times I'll be found visiting museums at weekends and of course on holidays. The reason I enjoy them so much is that I think they are an often-overlooked resource to the wargamer and miniatures painter. In this internet-enabled age of Google and Wikipedia, we tend to think that everything is available at the click of a button. But Museums offer so much more to the history buff and being centres of expertise in their field they often have items on display that just don't feature elsewhere. 

It does seem a little counter-intuitive extolling the virtues of museums at a time when many of us can't visit them, but they need our support if we want them to continue into the post-covid future. They have a lot to offer the Miniature Painter and Wargamer as well as the amateur historian and academics alike. Its probably not difficult to see from this video that I have my favourite museums, but what are yours? Which collections do you find yourself visiting over and over again, and what items have helped and inspired you in your wargaming?  

I hope you found this interesting and, as usual, I'd ask that if you enjoyed the video please hit the 'Like' button and consider subscribing to the channel.