Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Planning 2016 and Happy New Year

A traditional final year post, taking stock of my activity in the year about to end and describing my plans for the year coming.
First, how I did in 2015 compared to plans... well not good at all, missing most of the marks looking at what I wrote at the end of December 2014:
- The Jarama Campaign for the Spanish Civil War never took place, actually it was not even discussed in the gaming group... I wonder who's idea it was (not me for sure) and why it never took off.
- The El Cid Project for Crescent and The Cross, was supposedly the star project of the year... never took off too... quite bizarre as we (me included) painted models like mad during the first months of the year but it just faded why. Honestly, I cannot remember why we did not pursue the project (must ask my mates). Well ate least I won’t have to invest time in painting Moors next year…
- First World War: the TooFatLardies Xmas Special 2014 with an adaptation for Chain of Command created some excitement but was short lived
So as you see, nil out of 3. But was 2015 a terrible year then? Not at all. On the contrary, gaming wise has been one of my most active periods in years and I have to put marks, I would say 9 over 10.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Operation Marlet Campaign - (New) Game 2

The second game of the new Martlet campaign for Chain of Command concluded with a new British victory, a most remarkable feat considering this was in  table where in the first attempt to play the campaign, we bogged down for four games and could not break the German defensive scheme.  Being honest, I did not well with the Germans, deciding to withdraw in the heat of the moment…  a quite stupid move as you’ll see.

In this second game the British must break through the village of Fontenay, where the German outposts are located, before crashing with the enemy’s main defensive line. This is a scenario Three of the main rules (Attack-Defend);  to win, one side must force the other to withdraw or surrender due to fall in the Force Moral level.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas

May you all enjoy a most Merry Christmas, peace and health.
I hope you spend a happy night with all your dearest family members and friends.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Operation Martlet Campaign - Game 5 ... And a New Beginning

Today we had an international visitor at the club: Will is a young 14-year old historical (!!!) wargamer from Virginia, with a deep afection for the Spanish Civil War. Showing a surprisingly mature personality for his youth, he's spending the Christmas holidays in Spain with his family, have already visited the Ciudad Universitaria and tomorrow the Jarama battlefields. 

After contactting our club email, we invited him to play a Chain of Command with us this morning. As I know he follows this blog, I'd like to thank him for his visit and hope he has enjoyed the morning despite some lack of action in the two games played this morning. Obviously, the invitation to visit us is open to any you travelling to Madrid.

The fifth game of the Martlet campaign for Chain of Command was the straw that broke the (British) camel's back. Already the patrol phase was far from auspicious to the British interests, as the Germans got 5 (!) free moves that basically cornered our deployment area to a narrow belt along the table edge, hindering our options.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Warming Up to the Challenge

I will spend most of this weekend priming my models for Curt's Analogue Hobbies challenge, which is merely 2 days away now. My plan is to paint a German Fallschirmjager platoon for Chain of Command together with several supports (engineers, mortars, HMG, recoilless ATG and a Hetzer), reinforcements for my German infantry units (the recently released  wonderful Warlord German in snow uniform are on their way home as we speak...), some vehicles and a few French Napoleonic cavalry and infantry.

This should be close to the 500 points that I decided to use as my challenge level. 

What you see in the photo is part of the work done so far stored with my French Dragoons (I have noticed an alarmingly scarcity of storage space at home!!!). You may notice some models already initiated: don't worry, I won't cheat and use them to my challenge count; actually I put them on purpose in the photo... These are models I was painting when the challenge was announced and are part of the units I'm using for the contest.

Also, some of the models will "arrive" under the tree next 24th December and for obvious reasons can't even start the priming phase yet. The Xmas holidays will be useful to catch up.

So brushes, paints and models on the table ... on my marks, ready... BANG

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Operation Martlet Campaign - Game 4

The fourth game of the Martlet Campaign for Chain of Command resulted into another defeat of the British forces, the third in a row. After a very promising start, the truth is that the offensive bogged down and is becoming crucial to break the deadlock if we want to have a minimum chance to win the campaign.

After the disaster of the previous game, we introduced a couple of changes: first, we decided to take the initiative despite being on the defensive, and not wait for the Germans to deploy their units;  and second, we reinforced the artillery component of our force by adding a Churchill AVRE with its powerful petard mortar gun. This was necessary as the Germans had already fortified three buildings and converted into mini-fortress.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Abyssinia 1935 for Chain of Command

A quick alert to those interested in dark but interesting war theaters pre-Second World War. Jim Hale and Rolf Grein, the same guys that two years ago produced the excellent supplements for the Spanish Civil War, will be realising a new supplement and lists for the wars in Abyssinia in 1935.

The first article of the series was publshed on December 2 in the official blog of TooFatLardies, introducing the period and providing some special rules to play it with Chain of Command. Since then, a number of army lists have been released almost daily, that you will find in the same site.

As I already have an Italian Army for the North African desert, it may a good opportunity to confront against some (unlike the British) exotic foes... should I convince one of may gaming buddies to jump into this wagon.

UPDATE: You can also follow the wide campaign and related topics here

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Operation Martlet Campaign - Game 3

Resuming now normal program, after almost two weeks out travelling. 
We continue with the Martlet campaign as it was a national holiday in Spain; you may remember we decided to pull out in the second game after losing a significant number of units in the mist. In the third game the mist lifted so no more hassle, but the initiative was now German and they declared a counter-attack.
The truth is that at least on paper this was an option that may favour the British, being an opportunity to force the attrition of the German units. The truth is that the game´s outcome was totally the opposite: the British had to give ground again when the Force Moral fell to a dangerous level of 4.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Taking up the Challenge

You know Christmas is just around the corner when... Curt launches its Annual Painting Challenge. This is now in its sixth edition and has developed as one of the most remarkable social media event of our hobby.

The challenge gathers wargamer aficionados from all over the world. The contest includes duels between participants and special thematic bonus rounds where you can let your imagination fly to create a vignette representing the theme. All details can be found in Curt's blog.

After many years watching the fun from the sideline, this year I'll take up the challenge and will participate for the first time. I'm aiming to a modest target of 500 points considering how unpredictable my hobby time can be and also how sloooooow painter I am (as my gaming buddies can attest).

My focus will be 28mm of course. I have a couple of IIWW projects to use (an early war German Army and a late war Fallschirmjager platoon, both with supports) as well as completing my Napoleonic project with some French infantry and additional cavalry units. I see this as a good sting to plan and put a spin to my painting and gaming plans for 2016.

The challenge starts with the winter (on 20th December) and will finish with Spring (20th March). Quite excited already with it... wish me luck!

A final comment on blog administration: I'm leaving tomorrow Sunday on a 10 day business trip to Latin America, returning early December. Don't expect to see much activity here until then. My next post will be the third part of the Crisis trip, the visit to Arnhem and will be followed by a special entry on the not quite known but really remarkable tank museum of Overloon, also in The Netherlands.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Episode 2 - Dragones in Waterloo

This is the second instalment of our trip to Crisis 2015, covering the visit to the Battlefield of Waterloo. I must add that personally, the most emotive milestone of the whole trip, suffering one of those “Stendhal Moments” on arriving to the “Butte de Lion” feet, when I could hardly contain my tears... how many of us in the wargame hobby had played countless hours (with my younger brother in my case) in the early 70s with the Airfix farm and the boxes of British, French and Prussian soldiers???
A visit to the real Waterloo one day in the future was one of my earliest dreams, but it has taken 53 years to become true... I’m sure you understand the feeling

Freezing but happy and moved

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Operation Martlet Campaign - Games 1&2

Today we have started a new campaign for Chain of Command using Operation Martlet, the latest pint-sized booklet published by TooFatLardies a few weeks ago. Martlet was the prequel to operation Epsom in Normandy and put the players in command of the element of both the 49th Division and the 12th SS Hitlerjunged Division.

We had the opportunity to play 2 games, the first an outright victory for the British and the second for the Germans when the British decided to retreat. A main historical issue in this campaign was the effect of the morning fog in the deployment of the British units, which is treated by the campaign and had a clear impact in our performance.

Game 1
The first game corresponds to a scenario 2 "The probe" of the main rulebook. To achieve victory, the British must exit at least one unit through the German tactical edge. The power of the patrol phase to win a game was demonstrated today, when we won the game in two activations thanks to our performance in the pregame phase.

The table from the German side

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Episode 1 - Dragones in Crisis...

As regular readers of the blog know, a group of members of Club Dragón planned several months ago to attend Crisis in Antwerp, one of the most recommended wargames events in Continental Europe. As the dates also coincided with a long week-end in Madrid, we extended the trip to 5 days in total, intending to visit some of the famous battlefields around: Waterloo, Arnhem and Bastogne/Ardennes.

Crisis is organised by a local wargames club (The TinSoldiers of Antwerp) and 2015 marked the 20th anniversary of this event. The theme of the show this year was... Waterloo!! (surprise, surprise)

The show occupied two quite large former store buildings in Antwerp harbour, and despite the large crowd of wargamers and traders attending, there was enough space to walk around... nothing like the oppressive atmosphere I felt in 2012 in London’s Salute.

We arrived just 15 minutes before the official opening and a large and long queue was already forming. I was having nightmares remembering how long it took me to enter Salute, but to my surprise it was quite efficiently managed and by 10.10 we were inside (kuddos to the organisers!!)

Almost all usual suspects in the hobby were present there (nothing to envy to Salute in that respect) and it was also a good opportunity to meet some less well know manufacturers that offer good quality niche products  at competitive prices too.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Back from Crisis 2015

Long hiatus in the blog, but more than justified as I have been out travelling around Belgium and Holland after attending Crisis 2015 in antwerp. Just landed last night and obviously have lack the time to start organising even my thoughts, not say the photos (over 700 taken...)

I plan to write several posts on Crisis, each of the battlefield visits (Waterloo, Arnhem, Ardennes/Bastogne) and about the Military Museum in Brussels.

Be patient, please...

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Ramps Down!

I could not make to the club today but have been in an email exchange  and being sent several photos from the Pacific Theatre game played this morning. It was a test game of "Ramps Down!" the seaborne invasion supplement for the incoming Second World War close combat skirmish rules "Rattenkrieg" written by my friend and owner of Barrage Miniatures, Alf Comps jointly with (my also friend) Alejandro Lozano.

These set of rules have been in an extended testing phase since early this year; but according to my proprietary sources :-) they will be released before Christmas. You can download an excerpt of the rules here.

Although the focus of Rattenkrieg is urban close combat fighting with infantry and armoured support, the game this morning was aiming to test the core mechanism using a larger amount of troops and in a sea-landing environment.  The first results look promising, although some tweaks will be needed as well as incorporating other extended support options.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

"5th Platoon" - A CoC Arnhem Campaign #5 and Final

Fourth and final game of 5th Platoon, the Arnhem Campaign for Chain of Command published in issue 74 of Wargames,Soldiers & Strategy magazine. As expected, a straight win for the British, given the really bad state of the German forces after three consecutive lost games.

This final game was an “Attack on an objective” scenario of the main book, and the British had to take the crossroads in the east side of the map. The map shown only two ways to approach the crossroads:  north of the road, totally open flat terrain, likely to be a suicidal attack; south of the road, hopping from house to house until reaching the line of German defense… guess what route the British players chose.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Operation Martlet - New Campaign Supplement for Chain of Command

Operation Martlet was published this week, a new 28 pages campaign supplement for Chain of Command in the "Pint-Size" campaign series. This operation is the prequel to the better known Operation Epsom in Normandy (June 1944) and involved the British 49th Infantry Division and elements of the German Hitlerjugend Division. The supplement will last between 6 and 11 games and contains the maps, army lists and support necessary to play.

As usual, the booklet includes lots of interesting historical stuff to put in context your games. The unrivalled cost (GBP3.6) is the cost of a pint of beer in the pub frequently visited by Richard Clarke in his home town St Albans... a shame he does not live in Spain, where beer is significantly cheaper.

Monday, 12 October 2015

"5th Platoon" - A CoC Arnhem Campaign #4

The game of the “5th Platoon” Arnhem Campaign for Chain of Command published in Issue 74 of Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy played this morning, concluded in a third straight defeat of the German forces. With only one more game to go and the moral rating of the Germans at worrisome low levels, I believe it will be difficult not to say impossible, to stopping the British in the final scenario.
The German players decided to use his first wild-car option and to launch a counterattack. This wild-car allows the Germans to roll "2d6+6" support points only for one scenario which together with the difference in rating between the German regular and the British paras elite, provided a good bag of additional forces.
As we were playing “Big CoC” in this campaign, we ended up with 40+ points, enabling to buy 4 infantry sections, 2 Jagdpanzers IV and a couple of 250/10 armoured vehicles (armed with a an MG and a 20mm gun).
Plenty of useful stuff but being regular not too many command dice to manage as effectively as one could wish all these forces; with the moral levels already low from the previous games, the risk of falling into the red area where you start losing additional command dice and jump-off points was already high... as it finally happened.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

"5th Platoon" - A CoC Arnhem Campaign #3

This is the second game of “5th Platoon”, the Arnhem campaign for Chain of Command published in issue 73 of Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy magazine. The first game was won by the British paratroopers, who continue moving now along the road towards the bridge at the center of the city.
In this scenario a key role is to be played by Major General Kussin, who historically was ambushed and killed when his staff car literally crashed into some British units moving along the road. In this scenario, when the officer’s car emerged from the secondary road in the North, the mission of the German units changes to save the life’s general. As you’ll read later in the report, this action had a major effect in the battle and the demise of the Germans.

The scenario victory conditions were for the British to put at least a unit on the German’s tactical edge by the end of a turn, indicating that they had broken the enemy’s defensive line and therefore the forces could keep on moving towards the bridge.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Countdown to Crisis (Antwerp)

Just a month away from Crisis, arguably the most important wargaming show in Continental Europe. We planned to attend this year and meet again Richard Clarke from TooFatLardies. Unfortunately, Richard is going through a personal ordeal and will be unable to attend in person.

However, there's a significant number of international "Lardistas" attending and we are trying to coordinate a rendez-vous to meet in person and not only through the social media. Murphy's Heroes a Dutch club from Delft is putting a Chain of Command game and they have been kind enough to offer their table as a rallying point, provisionally at noon. The table is located in grid g3b4 of the hall. You can find maps and ither useful information on the event here.

From Madrid we are travelling seven members of the Club Dragón and we'll be happy to meet youy out there.

Incidentally, Crisis will not be our only destination. We have planned a nice battlefield tour, arriving on friday to visit Waterloo, making Hell's Highway and Arnhem on Sunday/Monday and moving into Bastogne on Monday/Tuesday before returning home late that night...  we only pray now for the weather to be just right.