Friday, September 30, 2022

Dieppe at 80 - White Beach

A few weeks ago marked the 80th anniversary of "Operation Jubilee" - the "reconnaissance in force" conducted by the Canadian Second Division (and some Canadian tankers, British commandos, Royal Canadian Engineers, sailors, etc.) against the German-held Channel port of Dieppe. Most who are familiar with the history of the Second World War will be somewhat familiar with the operation - lots has been written about it but the short version is that the Soviets were agitating strongly for the opening of a second front; the western Allies were nowhere close to planning an invasion of France; and Dieppe was proposed as a compromise to take some Soviet pressure off, experiment with an armored landing, and achieve some other limited objectives. TL;DR - it was a disaster.

You'll see the landing craft in some other pics, but the way I ran the game, the landing point was designated, a scatter dice rolled, and the contents of the boat deployed. We used Bolt Action for the rules of course. The game was the assault on White Beach directly in front of the town of Dieppe. The Canadians had a platoon of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, a Vickers MMG, a Royal Canadian Engineers demolition team in a Universal Carrier, four Churchill MKIII tanks and a Daimler scout car from 14 CATR, and some Royal Marine Commandos in deep reserve. The Germans had a 37mm AT gun, a 75mm AT gun (more on that later), three MG34 MMGs, and a pillbox with MMG, plus two sections of infantry in reserve, coming through the town.

As referee I permitted the Canadian players to land three craft per turn, in whatever order they wanted... unlike the actual battle where the infantry landed first and the tanks were late (NOT GOOD). In the game, the tanks landed first.

The German MGs didn't have a lot to do at first but get shot at by Churchills...

...which mostly got bogged down on the beach. I was a little harsh with the bogging rolls, to reflect the track-breaking nature of the Dieppe chert - every turn of moving on the beach required a "bog roll" (!) of 2+ on a d6, but this escalated... with a 3+ required on turn 2, PLUS an addition one-pip chance of a bog for every turn made by the tank. This turned out to maybe be a bit too much, as three out of four Churchills got stuck on the beach. There are some notes at the end of this post with more thoughts.

I also put out a really nice cast plaster gun bunker on the promenade - however I was informed that I'd deployed it at the wrong end of the table. The thick side should be facing the enemy. We'll fix that in post-production!

Rileys tumble off the landing craft!

I made the Canadians roll a scatter die to determine exactly where their landing craft ended up. Another tweak to be made on that, next time. You can see one Churchill climbing onto the promenade.

A Universal Carrier full of engineers also landed. They had five demo charges that they could use to demolish wire, anti-tank obstacles, pillboxes, or the concrete barriers blocking the street entrances into the town.

They opted to blow up a pillbox with an MG and crew in it. Pretty satisfying for the Canadian player.

The German reinforcements arrived from within the town and manned the barricades.

Overview of the action.

Rileys start to flood onto the promenade.

Although lots of infantry got onto the promenade, the game ended before they could get into the town proper.

It was a fun game, but after some discussion afterwards we (I) decided on some special rules changes for next time we play it:

1) Bog check - tracked vehicles are immobilized on a roll of 1 on a D6 at the end of movement if going straight, 1-3 on a D6 at the point of the turn if turning. Wheeled vehicles are bogged on a 1. No bog check required for Daimlers under tow by a Churchill. Maybe add one to the die roll required if the tank is dropped off short of the waterline.2) German A/T guns - make both medium (+5 pen); Churchill armour is 10+, so shots against the front require a roll of 5 for superficial damage, and a roll of 6 for full damage. (I think that the Canadians will only get three Churchills, and I'll make sure to deploy the artillery casemate correctly next time)3) Randomizing landing location: Use D6 and scatter die to determine amount of deviation from selected landing point.4) Randomizing which landing craft arrive in each wave: Assign each 'load' a number and have playing cards of the those values as a shuffled deck. As Canadian order dice are drawn from the cup on the first turn, flip the top card to reveal which landing craft arrives on the beach. In subsequent turns, as the Canadian player uses a die to activate a unit arriving in a craft, the top card determines which craft shows up. This introduces some randomness into unit arrival, as happened in the actual battle. 

Stay tuned for a report on Part 2 of the Dieppe battle - the bridges at Petit Appeville!

Monday, September 26, 2022

A Brief Byzantine Detour

28mm Byzantines - metal figures from Gripping Beast's characterful Thematic Byzantine range.

As the summer of 2022 drew to a close, my painting took a few detours away from Horus Heresy themes and into a couple of older projects.  One of those is my oh-so-slow-but-still-growing 28mm Byzantines, last seen on the painting desk in March of 2021! At around that time, I had also assembled and primed a couple of mounted figures to use as officers...and I finally painted them just now :) What is that - a 17-month-or-so turnaround time? Not great - but I still got to them at some point! Anyway, here are two mounted Byzantines, 28mm metal figures from Gripping Beast's Thematic Byzantine figure range. 

The officers are mounted individually, in bases that will allow them to merge with my other mounted units, and so they participate in anything from a skirmish-style game such as Lion Rampant or SAGA, while still playing in games of Warhammer Ancient Battales, as well as games like Hail Caesar or even Swordpoint.

All of the best officer sculpts are pointing at something...

While I usually prefer decals for my shields, it has been so long since I have been painting Byzantines that I had managed to, um, lose track of where I had stashed the shield I just tried my best to do a freehand pattern on each shield. It turned out OK. 

I might still attach a banner of some kind to the spear, but for now, this fellow will serve as a minor officer for my Byzantines.

It was fun to do a bit of work on an older project, and painting these two fellows served as something of a palette-cleanser, a break from the recent painting of Horus Heresy stuff. I also tend to associate painting Byzantines with Curt's annual Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, and so working on these fellows caused me to consider what specific painting projects I might try and line up for that...

That's all for now - thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more Space Marines of course, but also posts on some other painting detours from this August and September. Cheers!

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Minotaurs Vehicles

 I'm almost done the Minotaurs! I only have 2 special characters left and then that's it! I finished the summer off by painting the last vehicles for the chapter. This includes the Land Raider Crusader! You'll notice the side sponson weapons are quite a bit different from the standard Land Raider (or any land raider). As I mentioned before, this army is a repaint, including the Land Raider. The original crusader side sponsons were originally multi-part metal hurricane bolters. Each included about 8 pieces that no longer seemed to fit together. As I struggled with it, I had flash backs to 15+ years ago trying to assemble them. I had forgotten what a pain in the ass they were. I had no interest in trying, so looked online to see if I could buy the new plastic sponsons. That was too expensive to justify, so I turned to my bits collection. I managed to find two rotary cannons from Kromlech that would work as an equivalent to the hurricane bolters. I figured they looked like they were low strength, but had lots of shots, so work well as a proxy. To mount them, I flipped the metal bracket for the bolters around and clipped off one end. With the help of some green stuff I then managed to set the guns on the brackets convincingly enough. It really pays to keep old crap around for years until the right project presents itself.

This was really boring to paint. Combining the worst aspects of miniature and terrain painting!

Rhino rehab #2

Quite the beast!

Kromlech cannon

Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Starfighters! "Get Veers!"

 Last month Greg Burch was in town, so I hosted a Star Wars space combat game. 

Scenario: Get Veers! 

  • General Veers is on a tour of bases on the outer Rim. Rebel operatives have intercepted his itinerary.
  • The Imperial space forces have been tasked with escorting the shuttles carrying Veers and his command and logistics staff. 
  • They must reach the other side of the playing area before they reach the designated Jump Point.

  • Unfortunately, this part of space is full of unfriendly, Rebellious types.

We used miniatures from the Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures line, and the Starfighters! rules from Wiley Games.

Nine X-Wings from Red Squadron squared off against 9 TIE fighters of Black Squadron, with 3 Lambda Shuttles caught in the furball. After the Rebels started closing, they fired off a volley of 18(!) Proton Torpedoes, which would penetrate the shuttles’ shields. The TIE fighters shot down about a third of the torpedoes, then proceeded to knife fighting distance. 

Many dogfights ensued, with the Rebels trying to avoid those turning fights to concentrate on the shuttles. Though the shuttles’ heavy shielding protected them, the sheer number of Rebel attacks proved overwhelming. 

The cost was high, with 4 X-Wings, 3 TIE Fighters, and all 3 Lambdas shot down. 

For our ongoing Star Wars Galactic Heroes campaign, this will have in-game consequences. General Veers will not be available to lead any of the increasingly scattered Imperial ground forces. 

Thanks to Greg, Frederick, Brian, Rob, John, Kevin, and Hugh for playing!

(Before the game I had my lovely wife Jennifer randomly choose one of the shuttles as Veers’ own, which she duly secretly recorded. As it turned out, Veers’ ship was the last to fall.)