29 April 2015

Battlegroup Blitzkrieg arrives

I didn't get to SALUTE this week (not living in the UK and all) but I did get new goodies in the mail from PSC!  Only had a quick flick through so far but looks up to the usual excellent standard we've become used to in the BG series.  And who doesn't want to try throwing cavalry at light tanks on the tabletop?

EDIT - If this interests you, you MUST go check out the Demo game held at the SALUTE release of the game.  There are some amazing pics at Piers's website here: http://ww20mm.blogspot.com  Piers is part of the brains trust behind this book and his 20mm armies are just gorgeous!

28 April 2015

The US Marine Corps Museum

Amongst other adventures, last week I visited the USMC Museum in Virginia.  Very highly recommended if you get the chance.  The guides are all USMC veterans and are a delight to chat with while you enjoy the fantastic exhibits.  Here are just a few of my personal highlights, though some were admittedly research for my Vietnam gaming:


The foyer display is excellent
Outside the main entrance
USMC Sherman from the Pacific Theatre
The actual Mt Suribaci flag

Ontos in action in a Hue diorama 
Depiction of Hill 881south, near Khe Sahn firebase 
M29 81mm Mortar
M2A1 Field Gun - 105mm

M40 105mm Recoiless Rifle
Soviet 122mm Field Gun, one of 12 NVA pieces captured in 1969
No visit to the Museum is complete without paying respects to Chesty
No, not at the museum but I was in DC the next day and had to go visit the Memorial

26 April 2015

Matchlock Rifle

This week I came across some ECW artefacts at the NRA museum in Virginia which was very interesting:

Matchlock Rifle:

 Ammunition bandoleer:
 Note that the projectile is embedded in the lid:
Rifle rest

25 April 2015

The Centenary of ANZAC

Today is ANZAC Day and this year marks the 100th Anniversary of the Allied landings at a small place in Turkey that nobody in Australia and New Zealand had heard of.  Now the word Gallipoli is a deep part of Australian and New Zealand heritage.

Today we celebrate the human spirit - the spirit of ANZAC.  We thank those original ANZACs for their courage, sacrifice and example.

Lest We Forget.

17 April 2015

Book review: The Village

This week, I read this book for my Vietnam War elective:

In Black Hawk Down, the fight went on for a day. In We Were Soldiers Once & Young, the fighting lasted three days. In The Village, one Marine squad fought for 495 days—half of them died.

Few American battles have been so extended, savage and personal. A handful of Americans volunteered to live among six thousand Vietnamese, training farmers to defend their village. Such "Combined Action Platoons" (CAPs) are now a lost footnote about how the war could have been fought; only the villagers remain to bear witness. This is the story of fifteen resolute young Americans matched against two hundred Viet Cong; how a CAP lived, fought and died. And why the villagers remember them to this day

It is an amazing book - a USMC squad operating with a small local militia and the realities of living in a village amongst a people whose loyalties are divided. If you are into Vietnam Skirmish level gaming this book is a goldmine of scenarios and a 5 star must read.

The author served as a USMC Captain in Vietnam from 1966-68, later worked for RAND and became the Assistance Secretary for Defense in the Reagan administration. He is a prolific writer and has toured Iraq and Afghanistan several times over the past decade. I had the honour of meeting him this week when he spent a few hours with my small class discussing anything and everything, after which he signed my copy of the Village. An inspiring individual.

15 April 2015

500 followers! Thanks indeed!

After many months (actually around a year) sitting around the 470-80 mark, we recently started creeping up again and jumped to 502 followers this week!

Not sure what that means in these days of Google followers and Google+1 ing things instead, but its humbling to thin so many people have dropped into our corner of the blogosphere and enjoyed it.  Thanks indeed :-)

12 April 2015

Submarine Museum and WW2 Memorial

Recently I had the opportunity to tour the US Navy's Submarine Museum and the WW2 Memorial, both of which are in Groton, Connecticut.  The museum, is a great selection of everything from the first submersible boats all the way up to nuclear attack sub and ballistic missile submarines.  The pride of the collection is the USS NAUTILUS, the first nuclear powered submarine in the world and the first submarine to transit under the north pole.  Just as good in my mind were all the battle flags and memorabilia for the WW2 Submarines whip waged such effective economic warfare against Japan (and many of which operated out of Australia).  If you get a chance to visit I highly recommend it!

And of course its great motivation for playing The Hunters and the upcoming US Pacific Version Silent Victory!

The Nautilus in all her glory!

08 April 2015

Book Review: CSS Appomattox

CSS Appomattox
by Chris Stoesen

Amidst the slaughter of the American Civil War, recognition of the South by both France and Great Britain sees a negotiated settlement and the formal succession of the Confederacy.  An uneasy Cold War ensues with each side seeking European Allies to bolster their economies and access world trade markets.  The Union finds itself a friend in Germany, a growing power seeking overseas possessions and resources to fuel its industries.  The Confederacy finds its own ally in Spain, and when Germany tries to seize Spanish holdings in the Caribbean, the Confederacy finds itself toeing a diplomatic tightrope of supporting its ally while not triggering another general war with the North.

Enter Captain Thomas Devareaux of the Confederate Navy and Captain of the dirigible CSS Appomattox.  Let loose upon the expeditionary fleet of the German Navy operating in and around the Eastern seaboard, he leads his crew on raids and strikes to harass the enemy and solidify the South's alliance with Spain.  Along the way there is international and domestic intrigue, glimpses of a shadow war with the North and a cast of characters with a divers range of backgrounds.

I really quite liked Chris's alternative history world and the way in which he describes a team of men trying to harness new technologies to do their duty in tough situations.  Yes it is a self published with a few  hiccups and no it is not a Bernard Cornwell novel.  But it is a fun and easy read which I really enjoyed - I am looking forward to the next instalment in the adventures of Thomas Devareaux.

CSS Appomattox is available electronically here for less than a price of a beer.  If alt history and riding zeppelins appeals to you then do yourself a favour and give it a go.

07 April 2015

Leng Spider

A wonderful new resin model by Fenris games, in 28mm.  Equally at home in a Cultist lair as a summoned horror, or in the wilds of Skull Island!

05 April 2015

The Great Game!

If you haven't seen the previous post on this game, check out the setup here: http://tasmancave.blogspot.com/2015/03/a-game-of-global-conquest.html
The Battleboard set to go!
The teams were set, the strategies planned out and it was time to set them into motion - who would win? The teams played out 8, one hour turns in two 4 hour sessions.  It was well paced but busy throughout, with a large clock and a team of umpires keeping everyone on track:
The UN: Diplomats in action: coloured vests denote team allegiance
The first few turns the major powers focused on economic development and established free trade agreements. The smaller nations squabbled over the central canal and the non state actor Orange team became a tool of everyone to employ in their bid for their own state.  Machiavelli would have been proud at the amount of double dealing and backstabbing going on!

Then Team Yellow made a bid to garb the whole canal and attacked one of the Blue ships (my team). We then established a cunning plan to beat them down hard which was fun, but rather pointless from a VP perspective.  Once we had destroyed their offensive capability we backed off on them.  Of course, other countries sensed weakness and soon yellow was badly on the ropes having territory carved off everywhere.
VP graph for the second to last turn: Red was clearly going to go for broke against Blue here!
As time came of the last turn, all countries went for the classic 40k style objective rush.  Red was clearly looking to jump onto our island to reduce our VPs for holding it and pip us over the finishing line - this lead to a rapid escalation and the "Battle for the Two Islands"
Red moves into position
And lands a massive invasion party
 We clearly couldn't eliminate the incursion in a ingle turn so returned the favour with paratrooper drops onto their island in turn.  The resulting battle was an excellent demonstration of Mutually Assured Destruction as we wiped each other's Carrier Groups out, but both islands were contested at game end.  This losses chart shows the increase in blue and red losses in the final turn: Major powers wry are bloody!
This is the unit losses graph - as you can see, Yellow became the sick weak member of the herd...

So what was the end result?  The Red/Blue battle while devastating, kept Blue slightly in the lead in VPs at the end of turn 8

And so my Man Cave will now have a new trophy in a suitable place of honour!  I knew I had done well when the Lad said "You were totally Bismarck"

Yes...MORE Figures!

Who doesn't like coming home to such a package...
OK, we really should stop buying lead for a bit now...but I snagged a bulk deal from a nice chap at Bartertown (Hi Dave!) which included not only a full Army Pack but also more dragoons, heavy guns, some tumbrils and carts, and 10 old OOP Baccus buildings with thatched roofs and tudor style walls.
So many goodies...
This brings our collection to 5 full Army packs plus some extras - enough Alan thinks to do Marston Moor.  I may also take some of the foot figs and base them specifically to defend a city in ditches and so on, rather than in normal battlefield order.  Then we can play a siege game or two, maybe even recreate the Battles for Arnescote Castle from the series 'By the Sword Divided' :-)

The lead piles grows, the boys are happy and somewhere the God of Wargaming smiles!

03 April 2015

Contemplating ECW Terrain

I've started to cast my eye about for appropriate 6mm terrain - another lovely excuse to spend Hobby money! So what do I think we need? Enough terrain for a 4 x 4 or so sized table, including a river, a few roads, some bridges, and a town or two. First up, Baccus (whose lovely figures we are using) is an easy starting place with this nice village set https://www.baccus6mm.com/catalogue/ScenicItems/BritishBuildings/
Here are some other manufacturers of 6mm Terrain that I've come across:
Some painted up nicely here:
Curt's nicely painted up granary set here: http://analogue-hobbies.blogspot.com/2013/03/product-review-total-battle-miniatures.html
Curt's lovely granary terrain set (Total Battle Miniatures)
While its listed in their Napoleonic rage, Leven Miniatures make a nice fortified Manor House that would do nicely as a Royalist stronghold
Leven's NAP06 - Fortified Manor House from here
Leven also make these fine Tudor Style buildings - can't have an English village without a pub now can we!
GEN11 - Tudor Style Public House
HOU14 - Detached Tudor style house
Dungeon Castings make this nice "House with Tower" as an alternative Manor House (DC-D0118)http://www.dungeoncastings.co.uk/shop/shop.php?action=full&id=531
Total Battle Miniatures also do this fantastic walled town set - very pretty but not sure if I need to drop 65 pounds on it at this stage and instead of buying more functional terrain.  Very shiny though!  Would make a great centrepiece for a Campaign.
The unpainted pics show what you get in better detail I think:

And finally, what kind of Royalist would I be without a good keep or castle to fall back on?  However, my quick look around didn't provide me with the ample options I expected.  I thought for sure there would be many examples of big '5 star' castles like Conwy, Raglan or Caernarfon.  What I'd really like is a nice tower like Donnington (where the battle of Newbury was fought in 1644). 
JR Miniatures' "European Siege Castle"
And finally, some inspiration for baggage/camp elements here (all made with Baccus figures): http://www.tinytintroops.co.uk/Galleries/New_Style/New_Page_02_camp&bag.htm

If you other suggestions or recommendations for us I'd love to hear them!