Monday, September 4, 2017

German Defense of Pomme de Terre, France, October 1944

In October, 1944,  "Pumpkin Company" (of US 16th Infantry Regiment) with support of elements of 1st Division encountered elements of German Kampfgruppe  Hefeweizen outside the town of Pomme de Terre.

Map showing initial dispositions and movements.
US command had determined hill 736b would be the objective and to that end, the effectiveness of German defenses in the town were minimized. However, German mortars, situated behind the town and relying on spotters based with German platoons in the area, played a significant role in the action that took place in Paulette's Woods.

A single German platoon held the woods gallantly with help from the mortars until the US concentrated the platoons of Pumpkin Company on their position and forced them out of the fight.

Cat is not to scale.
US armor and anti-tank support focused their efforts on hill 736b, weakening the defenders, but they could not withstand the barrage of mortar, rifle, and anti-tank fire received in return.

Press photo.
It was left to the fighting men of Pumpkin Company to clear out the Germans and capture the hill. From their protected position within Paulette's Woods, Pumpkin Company subjected the hill-based defenders to withering fire.

Outgunned, the Germans abandoned the hill and, with that, their position in the town become untenable; the German forces retreated.

This action was payed out using Neil Thomas's One Hour Wargame rules with his scenario 14, Static Defence. It was actually the 2nd time playing the same scenario in the same evening.

Given the vagaries of NT's rules - attacking infantry in a town or woods is BAD PLAN. And the 1st effort ended in 7 or so turns. Oh, and mortars in NT's rules are pretty deadly for infantry in the open. As they should be.

For this second attempt, using the same forces, I focused my efforts on the hill, while keeping my own infantry under cover - to much better effect.

It came down to turn 14 before the US platoons stepped foot on the hill and ended the game.

The observation rules in NT's WWII rule set played a role in the victory, as they had moved outside of the mortar's line of sight, and there were no units left within 12" to spot the US platoons on the mortar team's behalf.

I have since played another game, the start of a very simple campaign. We'll see how that goes - campaigns, even simple ones, often falter.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

One of my perpetual 'problems' is finding a suitable tree for my gaming table. As I am after a certain aesthetic, I find that the more realistic looking botanical imitations fail me.

My favorite trees have been made of paper and I may yet return to them, but at the moment I am using plastic pine needle clumps from an artificial Christmas tree made in the late 1960s or very early 1970s (my parents purchased it no later than 1972).

These are acceptable, and, that they make use of the last remnants of the Christmas tree that I used for most of my life, they have a certain nostalgic quality to them.

However, like most wargamers, I am never satisfied with things-as-they-are and for the last year or so, I have been enamored of these and similar trees. While I think Playmobil makes the perfect tree for toy soldier gaming, they are large and require more storage space than I can afford to give them.

These 2.5D trees strike a nice balance.

While on vacation visiting my parents, I took my son to Antique World & Flea Market, located in Clarence, NY (fun fact, I worked there briefly in high school as a janitor). And, as we perused the stalls for used Star Wars toys for him (of which we found plenty), I kept an eye out for toy soldiers and such for myself. As expected I didn't find much, but as you must have now surmised from my topic for this post, I did come across some trees in the 2.5D style.

Lumped in with maybe 100 cowboys, Native Americans, horses, cattle and fencing, I had to make a special request to purchase the trees separately. Of course, the stall's owner was getting lunch, so his assistant had to phone him, and explain what it was I was asking about.

They came back with a price of $3 for the pair - a more than reasonable price, given the links above.


A Tiger tank leaps out from behind the trees to attack Wonder Woman, who is hardly surprised.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Wonder Woman has Arrived and a Comparison Pic

Monday night, I was excited to find a package awaiting me on my return home from a work conference in Chicago.


Wonder Woman (plus Batman, Superman, Flash, and Joker).

Here she is, in comparison to some other figures:

My, that Highlander officer is pale.
That she is tall does not bother me - she's an Amazon right?

The French figure and the (in-progress) Highlander are both AiP and that brand that will supply the WWI Germans and British, so that they mix well enough with WW is all I care about. The TSSD German was just for further comparison - those figures tend to be tall compared to Airfix and Matchbox. Compared to my 60mm-ish Saracens, not pictured, she looks a decent height, but vastly underfed.

I'm rather pleased with her appearance overall and may do considerably less modifying of her outfit with green stuff than I originally planned. Here is quarter-sized shield (of paper) for illustration of one possible mod. The shield plays a significant role in the movie, although it's not something I usually think of when I think of Wonder Woman.

I'm traveling again this weekend - this time for fun - so that means no painting or gaming until I get back. Hopefully, a visit to Antiques World & Flea Market turns up some interesting finds though!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Wonder Woman in 1/32?

On Father's Day, through an act of cunning, I managed to schedule a trip to the movies to see Wonder Woman .

I have always liked WW, more so, than many other DC characters, and the issues of the comic that I have picked up in recent years have been good.  I'll spare you  an in-depth review.of the movie but  I came away thoroughly enamored of the character (despite some terrible dialog where my eyes quite nearly rolled out of their sockets) :

Wonder Woman is a bad-ass.

Now, you may be asking yourself, what does this have to do with wargaming?

The movie is set during the late days of WWI. Every WWI scene cries out 'you can wargame this!', well it does if you're a wargamer - I suspect non-wargamers were not inspired in that way.

 And so, dear reader, that is how I found myself searching the web over the last few days for a suitable Wonder Woman in the appropriate scale.

For the more traditional forces, Armies in Plastic, has a suitable WWI line for one-stop shopping, including the necessary - for this project - WWI Germans in Stahlhelm Helmets, WWI British Army in Steel Helmets, WWI Highlanders (if you want to field that character) and importantly, a German A7V. You can also, if your wallet allows, field W. Britain and other collector-type soldiers.
Our heroine, however, is not so easy to procure.

As I see it there are two possible options: find an actual Wonder Woman figure and work with that or find a toy soldier that can be made to stand in for her.

There was a not-too-surprising lack of suitable toy soldiers in this scale. And no matter the case, a good deal of green stuff would be necessary for her outfit. Seeing as how many of the female figures are topless and wear skimpy outfits (particularly in the Fantasy genre), they do lend themselves to customization. Nude "dollies" for figure sculpting would work as well.

I am not afraid of trying this, but I'm also lazy and cheap frugal.

Instead, let us bring on the actual Wonder Woman figures.

This was more of a struggle than I thought it would be (now, if I wanted a 6" or 12" tall figure I'd have an embarrassment of riches) but I finally found this:

They are described variously as 2.25" and 2.5", and even as 2.75" on one site. They are  DC "figurines", although one site described them as cake toppers. Their intended purpose is of no consequence of course.

The Wonder Woman in this set has the advantage of being clad in an outfit that is close to matching Gal Gidot's (I would repaint the bodice, and use green stuff to add a skirt to the shorts, and dress up the boots a little). Her left arm is in the perfect position to mount a custom made shield, if so desired. And so that is the figure I will start with.

My project forces - using the GASLIGHT rules as a model since they're easily ported to various periods:

The Good Guys:
Wonder Woman (hero - in GASLIGHT i'd give her a couple of special abilities and hit points)

1-2 10-figure unit of British (regular)
Small unit, or group of unattached, main characters: Highlander Sniper, the spy, the actor, the scout (holy crap, I just realized they're the A-team!)

The Bad Guys :
1-2 10- figure units of Germans
1 German tank
1 unattached German officer

Ares (either metal or one of the cheap 60mm Supreme Greek Hoplites. He's a hero as well and would merit hit points and abilities)

The spear is not traditional for the comic character, but I like the pose.
So while the paint isn't even close to done on my VSF project, I'm starting another one.

That's how you know you're alive right?

Friday, June 16, 2017

Morschauser Modern: American and German forces clash at Hook's Farm!

Both sides descend on Hook's Farm, cottage, and the Firefly Church in equal measure.

American tanks coordinate their firing effectively and manage to bring down one of the German behemoths. 

Meanwhile, across the field of battle, an American tank drives back the opposing German armor. German infantry storms the church unopposed.

The farm is easily taken without a shot fired by a US platoon with a gun in support. So, too, goes the cottage.

German forces continue to hold the church and their armor mounts attacks on the Americans in the cottage, while a German squad(bottom right-ish) rushes to the aid of the HMG team pinned down in some ruins.

Having repelled an American infantry assault on the church in a vicious melee, the Germans focus their efforts on the isolated American tank.

box of dice? no no. it's a monolith.
Under fire from the church and from armor to their front, an American infantry bravely withstands it all from the disintegrating walls of the cottage. With their anti-tank grenades they eliminate a 2nd piece of German armor.

An aerial view shows the disposition of the forces, with most infantry in cover. Note that the tan k on the American right has taken out some of the infantry that had been harassing it. A frantic commander orders the tank crew turn its focus to the church to assist the gun team and infantry squads in clearing out the pesky Germans.

The American left begins to sweep one of its tanks and a gun around to the German right flank. The Germans respond in a desperate attempt to stave off defeat.

Suddenly finding itself in the sites of the German Jagdpanther, the Sherman on the hill retreats for safety.

With the American squads in the cottage and behind the stone wall eliminated, the Germans try to press home their assault on their left - focusing on the isolated tank - in an attempt to steal victory from the jaws of defeat.

Furious shelling from a gun and a Sherman take out the Jagdpanther. It is the deathblow for the German attack force.

Having suffered 50% losses, the German commander orders his troops to fall back.

Total turns: 7

*** Some notes that probably belonged on the last post ***

Initiative was card based - borrowing from a method used in old Two Hour Wargames rules. If the suits match, that side goes first. If the suits don't match, higher card goes first.

The ATG/field howitzers and mortars rained down their terror with impunity.

Melee with the roster system is 'interesting'.

Tanks are Solido and Rocco(?). Guns are CTS and Britains. Figures are Britains, Toy Soldiers of San Diego, Matchbox, 21st Century, and Airfix.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Morschauser Modern and Battle of Hook's Farm

As mentioned here, I had decided to try my hand at the esteemed Battle of Hook's Farm, set in WW2 rather than the more traditional Horse & Musket period, owing largely to an abundance in my collection of the former, and a dearth of the latter.

Before I get to the game proper, it seems wise to at least mention some of my pre-game decisions.

A map of the battle field from Little Wars:
First, how to convert Wells's tidy "a compact little force of 3 guns, 48 infantry, and 25 horse" to the period?

I opted for the following: treat this as a 1:1 type game and thus 48 infantry is roughly 5 infantry squads/sections in WW2. However, given the very close to 2:1 ratio of infantry to horse, I decided on 6 infantry squads/sections as 1 under-strength company if you will.

Why as 1 under-strength company?

To justify the use of armor in place of 'horse'. Of course, one cannot justify 25 tanks on the battle field, no matter how much fun that would be, when fielding only 48 infantry. A company could well be supported by a limited amount of armor however.

Following the same line of thought for infantry,  I decided 10 horse is roughly 1 vehicle, or 2.5 vehicles total. Rounding up, thanks to the 2:1 infantry to horse ratio, I get 2 sections : 1 vehicle.

Why 'vehicle' and not 'tank'?

While in the original, Hook's Farm is, despite the reports by the blue army commander, a battle between two exactly equal forces, I thought variety, being the spice of life, after all, was a better option. And given the make up of my toy soldier WW2 forces of 3 tanks, 1 jeep/kublewagen, and 1 APC for the US, and 4 for the Germans, some randomization could be entertained.

For the US: Roll 1d6, 1-4: tank, 5: jeep, 6: APC
For the Germans: Roll 1d6: 1-3 tank, 4: kublewagen, 5-6: APC

In the event, each side ended up with 3 tanks

As for 3 guns, I opted to stick with the number but again, randomize the exact conversion of the word 'gun'.

Roll 1d6: 1-3 ATG/Field Howitzer, 4-5: Mortar 6: HMG

The US ended up with 2 ATGs/Field Howitzers and a mortar. While the Germans acquired 1 ATG, 1 mortar, and 1 HMG.

So, to summarize the OOB:
6 infantry squads/sections
3 tanks
2 ATGs/Field Howitzers
1 Mortar

6 infantry squads/sections
3 tanks
1 Mortar

I had some issues translating the map in Little Wars to my table. I had originally planned to play on the floor, which would have allowed some more maneuvering but the presence of company in the living room prevented me from taking it over. As such, 'the country', was a bit cramped.

There were some modifications to be made to the rules: 6" for infantry, 9"for tanks, taken from Neil Thomas's One Hour Wargames WW2 rules, the 12" sighting rule from the same, and the weapon ranges also borrowed from those rules.

Morschauser's 'roster' option was employed with 4 points per infantry unit, and 2 points for everyone else.

Other situations were dealt with on the fly -occupying buildings is something Little Wars forbids and Morschauser doesn't really seem to address, so I left it to my gut as it occurred.

After setting out the US per the description of the blue army deployment, I mostly randomized the German force layout and started to play.

For a victory condition, I went with the first side to take out  >= 50% of the enemy would win the field, or at the end of 10 turns, I would count roster points remaining.

Next time, for real, the battle report.

Turn 1: The armies begin their advances.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Send in the Cavalry!

As mentioned previously, my war camels aren't needed in my One Hour Wargames Saracen force (I already have 4 bases of "knights") but I thought they, along with the unused foot soldiers would make a good skirmish force, of use in medieval, fantasy, and VSF games.

Unfortunately, the bases on all but 2 of the 12 camels were wonky as all get out - meaning any attempt to stand all but two of them was a failure.

Enter boiling water. A quick dip softened the bases and camel legs enough that I could shape them into upright camels of the finest sort.

Since they will likely be pitted against my pseudo-British force, I thought a picture was in order. It has the added bonuses of showing off my lancers again, as well as indicating the substantial differences between roughly 1/30 scale and nominally 1/32 scale figures (which seem more like 1/35 to my eyes):

"Tally hoooooo cr*p!"

In addition, I managed to put paint to my AIP Highlanders, but they have a way to go yet.

I also managed to play a game on Sunday night: a WW2 Battle of Hook's Farm. A report to follow later in the week as time allows.

"Two armies lay opposite and ready"