Saturday, November 28, 2020

First, strip your figures...

Hauling the figures off the lead pile the other day made me look again at the collection of Minifigs 15mm medieval stuff I was given years ago. I now think they're far more appropriate for the First Barons War of 1215-1217, when King John refused to abide by the terms of Magna Carta, sparking a revolt in the Kingdom. This is a good thing because it means more actions were fought than occurred during the later war, and the abortive French involvement gives scope for another faction. 

The only issues I have with these is they will need broken spears and lances replaced (an unfortunate fact of life with Minifigs), and the existing paint has to be stripped off. The replacement is going to be a bugger, involving trimming off the broken parts and drilling out the hands to accept wire spears and lances. A look online turned up many different methods for stripping old paint off figures, but soaking them in isopropyl alcohol for a couple of days seems to be the easiest and cheapest for me to use.

Rules-wise, I read good things of Lion Rampant. The collection I have now is adequate for a couple of core retinues, and I'll only need some mounted sergeants and a few more crossbowmen to have a diverse force to choose from.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Doctors Who and Friends

I've not really been in the mood for gaming lately, so I thought I'd see what my lead pile had to offer by way of a diversion. I found a set of Black Tree Designs 28mm Doctor Who figures and a batch of Minifig 15mm archers from the 13th century Barons' War which have lurked in the pile for way too long. 

I wondered if the archers could double as Saxon bowmen, since they have the same overall look, but these chaps have hoses and pointed shoes, and their ammunition is thrust through their belts, which I don't think was a Saxon custom. I have a pile of other figures from this period, so I may paint them up over time. Since we're under a COVID curfew which may well turn into another lockdown order, I suspect I'll have time enough...       

Monday, November 16, 2020

Post naval game thoughts

It's been a few years since I played a game using Paul Hague's rules, but I picked them up again quickly. They're a good fairly basic set, which can be built upon if you want more complication in your naval gaming. 

I added a further two Critical Hit incidents in the shape of Fire and Severe Fire, since these seem to have occurred quite often during battles of the pre-Dreadnought period, the fate of HMS Black Prince at Jutland being one example. In her last moments the armoured cruiser was seen blazing from stem to stern as she sailed into the night after stumbling into the entire German battlefleet at close range. In a recent dive on her wreck a survey showed Black Prince went down fighting, as her torpedo launch cradles were extended.

Revised Critical Hits table.

  1. Magazine hit

  2. Rudder hit

  3. Director/Gunnery control position destroyed

  4. Bridge and Conning tower destroyed

  5. Fire breaks out. Inflicts normal projectile damage, plus one extra box. Burns at one box per round until extinguished on a d6 roll of 4-6 or until vessel sinks.

  6. Severe fire breaks out. Inflicts normal projectile damage, plus two extra boxes. Burns at two boxes per round until extinguished on a d6 roll of 5-6 or until vessel sinks.

  7. Turret.

  8. Turret.

    Fire. The impact inflicts normal projectile damage, plus one extra box on the record sheet. Burns at one box per round until extinguished on a d6 roll of 4-6 or ship sinks.

    Severe fire. The impact inflicts normal projectile damage, plus two extra boxes. Burns at two boxes per round until extinguished on a d6 roll of 5-6 or ship sinks.

In my recent game the battleship SMS Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse suffered three critical hits to her rudder in the same turn - something really out of the ordinary. In this case as per the rules I rolled a die to determine whether the rudder had jammed to port, starboard or ahead (In this case it was starboard). I then created a house rule that states three shells smashing into the stern totally wrecks the steering beyond the ship's company's capacity to effect repairs at sea, and will also inflict regular shell hit damage, meaning the stricken ship loses power through damage to the propellers. 

At the moment I'm still working out the mechanisms for running a solo naval campaign. Something along the lines of episodic encounters may be the way to go. We'll see.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Taking some down time

Sadly my Mother passed away on Monday morning after a long illness. Thankfully my family is there to support my Father in this trying time. Regrettably my wife and I are unable to travel to the UK to be with them and attend the funeral due to the impossible situation caused by COVID-19. I'll be taking a few days off for mourning. My thoughts on the recent naval game will appear here in a week or so.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Battle of the Humber ~ Part 2, conclusion

 A week later than intended, here's the final part of the naval engagement off England's East Coast.

Following the torpedo hit on SMS Kaiser Barbarossa, the battleship's commander reported severe damage and flooding, leading to reduced speed. The German admiral commanding saw little point continuing the mission. The strict injunction to preserve the fleet sat at the back of his mind, steering everything he did. He ordered the Barbarossa to turn out of line and make best speed back to the Jade Bay. His light cruiser screen moved astern of the battle squadron, ready to deploy to the west or south on the guerre du course mission should opportunity arise. Ahead, the armoured cruisers SMS Roon and Yorck engaged in their own private battle with their opposite numbers in the Royal Navy. 

Some twelve thousand yards to the northwest the admiral could see the oncoming British Majestic class battleships. Their four 12 inch guns outweighed his own fleet's 11 inch. Reluctantly he gave the order for the battleships and armoured cruisers to make the gefechtskertwendung maneuver in five minutes' time.

Moments later the two battleship squadrons opened fire on each other. The air filled with the rumble of huge shells passing overhead, followed by the shattering impact as a few found their mark. SMS Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse, leading the German squadron shuddered as a 12 inch shell penetrated her forward turret. The superior German ammunition handling process ensured the blast was confined to the turret and munitions trunk, but the damage was severe. Across the waters HMS Majestic suffered an identical blow as her forward turret shattered under the impact of an 11 inch shell.

Disaster struck minutes later. As the gefechtskertwendung order took effect the British battleships concentrated their fire upon the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse. The battleship shuddered under multiple 12 inch impacts which destroyed her bridge and steering. What was left of the rudders jammed hard to starboard. Unable to respond to helm or orders the vessel lurched out of line and into the path of the oncoming British.

The end wasn't long coming. Although Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse managed to destroy the after turret of HMS Magnificent she soon succumbed to the concentrated fire of the British fleet. With her captain and first officer killed, a junior lieutenant attempted to strike the colours to save what few lives remained, but he was too late. Roon and Yorck sped by the shattered and sinking hulk a few hundred yards away, eager to make distance between themselves and the enemy before they shared their comrade's fate.

To the south the retreating battle squadron reformed with the damaged and listing Kaiser Barbarossa then shaped a course due east toward Jade Bay. The light cruiser squadron was given orders to harry British shipping along the East Coast as far as they dared before returning home.

The British admiral commanding was wrong-footed by the German's sudden retreat. He was also concerned by the apparent detachment of the enemy's light cruisers and was anxious to drive them off before they inflicted harm on British ports and shipping. The Apollo class light cruisers passing north of the British battle line should have been in position to respond to his orders to pursue either their enemy counterparts or the battleships. Instead they seemed keen to protect their badly damaged consort HMS Intrepid. It was all of a piece with the cruiser commander's performance during the battle, where his ships were badly exposed to superior enemy forces and kept getting in the way of his own maneuvers. A few well chosen and pithy words in the admiral's final report would see the man transferred to command a fishing protection squadron based on Newfoundland if he had any say in the matter.

So endeth the battle try-out of Paul Hague's rules. I've had a number of technical issues in getting this post done and on the blog, so I'll write some thoughts of the game and the rules another time.


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