Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Waterloo 2015

© Lindsay Hall 2015. Waterloo 2015 PWG 28mm
French 2nd Infantry Division begin their assault on the Allied Line. Image courtesy of Lindsay Hall.

The Peninsula Wargames Group took the opportunity of the 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo to present a refight of the battle over the weekend of 20-21 June.

Using over 6000 28mm figures, representing years of painting and planning, club chairman Mike Karsten described the game as "possibly the biggest game we have planned, and will ever play".

Using Warlord Games' Black Powder rules, with six players on the Anglo Allied side and four on the French, the game represented the events from 10 in the morning of the 18th June 1815 until the arrival of the Prussians - in this game at about 3pm (notably earlier than on the day). In an effort to ensure no revisionist tactics were employed, the game umpire played both Wellington and Napoleon - and issued Corp level orders to each player. It meant that each player was obliged to attempt to fulfil their specific historical orders. It worked very well, with each player making tactical changes that meant the outcome was not a certainty, but it still allowed the game to fall within the realms of the historical. In addition, the terrain in front of the weak English flank was made "rough going" by the umpire, to discourage an obvious revision of tactics. Each 15 minutes of battle time was allocated 30 minutes of game time.

© Anthony van Dijk 2015. Waterloo 2015 PWG 28mm
Initial Allied deployment, as viewed from the west. Image courtesy of Anthony van Dijk.

The French launched their attack just after 10.30am, with the 1st Corps attacking the Anglo Allied on the central to eastern flank, the 6th Corps attacking La Haye Sainte and the 2nd Corps attacking Hougoumont. Despite a quick victory by the French 4th Division at Pappelotte, the initial attack at Hougoumont was repulsed, and at La Haye Sainte the defenders grimly held on against multiple divisions.

© Anthony van Dijk 2015. PWG Waterloo 2015
French 4th Division assault Pappelotte. Image courtesy of Anthony van Dijk. 
© Anthony van Dijk. 2015 PWG Waterloo
The usual suspects (and the view from the East). Image courtesy of Anthony van Dijk.
This set the tone for multiple game turns, with the French making gains on the east flank, while being checked in the centre and west. Despite the 1st French Corp infantry reaching the Allied lines piecemeal, a series of brutal cavalry clashes ensured they managed to gain a toehold on the eastern end of the Allied line. Allied cavalry commanders rushed to reinforce the central and eastern ridgeline, and just as the Kings German Legion were finally evicted from La Haye Sainte, Wellington launched a strong counterattack from the west ridge towards La Haye Sainte - effectively splitting the French army in two and cutting off the 2nd Corps at Hougoumont.

© Anthony van Dijk 2015. PWG Waterloo 2015
Hougoumont stands. Image courtesy of Anthony van Dijk.

Clash of cavalry. Image courtesy of Lindsay Hall.
© David Davidson. PWG Waterloo 2015
2nd Division columns of attack falter as they reach the British line. Pic courtesy of David Davidson.
At about the same time, word reached the French command of the imminent arrival of the Prussians at Plancenoit and Pappelotte, and the Imperial Guard was dispatched to head off that threat.

We ran out of time to complete the game, and the umpire took some time to consider the result. The French had occupied a section of the ridge, and were in a position to threaten the road to Mont St Jean, but had taken significant casualties in doing so. Whether they would be able to hold off a Prussian counterattack was open to debate. And the Allied line of retreat to the west was secure. While it was agreed the French had done better than the historical outcome, they had not done enough to claim victory, and the umpire declared it honours even.

More images, and a more detailed AAR will be published shortly.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

And now for something...

© Golf Alpha Zulu 2015. All rights reserved.
Gamers paint most what they play most. Figures that will get table time will get the attention on the painting workbench. And most gamers refuse to believe this, and insist on buying the figures for little "side projects" or distractions. I have boxes full of "nice ideas" which only in my most pragmatic moments do I admit to myself I am unlikely to paint. 

These Weird WW2 models were shelved amongst the "distractions". I had really liked the idea of playing some Weird War games, and had a few years back bought the basics of a some forces - mostly from Westwind's Secrets of the Third Reich and Incursion ranges, with a few bigger kits from the Dust Tactics series. For rules I ordered the SotTR rules and the Weird War iteration of Two Hour Wargames NUTS. And then nothing happened. Or rather, Other Things happened.

One of the Other Things was 28mm World War 2, and amongst that, my German force grew organically from a small demo force to a fairly solid collection. When PWG club decided to run a "very late war 1945" Bolt Action game, a quick chat with the umpire resulted in a green light for some secret weapons to be added to my German force...

© Golf Alpha Zulu 2015. All rights reserved.

© Golf Alpha Zulu 2015. All rights reserved.
The big mech is a Dust Tactics repaint, which I have named „Otto“ Schwere Technikrüstung Ausführung B. (Forgive my pidgin German - its all Googlate generated...) No additional detailing whatsoever. Otto's little friend is my interpretation of remote optical/IR targeting drone (dubbed Spürhund) based on a Tamiya 1/48th Goliath kit.

© Golf Alpha Zulu 2015. All rights reserved.

© Golf Alpha Zulu 2015. All rights reserved.
The four battle suits („Vielfraß“) are slight modifications of the Westwind "Wolwerine" kits. I changed the weapon loadouts  - there are two Ausf. Gs with packed flamethrowers, one Ausf. M with twin linked HMG (a 12.7mm weapon from the Luftwaffe inventory) and one Ausf. B command suit with 20mm auto cannon.

Bolt Action Rules

Before their debut on the gaming table, the game umpire and myself playtested some basic rules and and guesstimated point values for each of these models. No doubt we were wide of the mark in some instances, but they played fairly well. I have to admit I am a bit hazy on what we decided for the assault rules, but given that none of these models got into close assault we didn't get a chance to implement the playtest decisions. For their first deployment, we used the "Defence of the Ruhr" scenario from Battlefield Europe, we declared a large enclosed farmhouse as the Allied objective and the German deployment zone.

© Golf Alpha Zulu 2015. All rights reserved.

Standard Walker Rules 

Light Walker: 6/12 advance/run
Rough ground: No run
Obstacle: No run
Building: OK
Advance: 2 Pivots
Run: 2 Pivots

Heavy Walker: 9/18 advance/run
Rough ground: No run
Obstacle: No run
Building: OK
Advance: 2 Pivots
Run: 1 Pivots

Walker Close Assault special rules:

  • Walker does not have to make an assault directly to the front. It may pivot as part of the run move.
  • Walker = Tank for purpose of being assaulted by infantry. (ie infantry units not equiped with AT weapons must pass order to test to assault it).
  • If Walker initiates the close combat, target unit must pass a morale test to engage in close combat.
  • Resolve assaults by and against infantry as per infantry rules, but damage as per armour rules. Compare number of wounds scored by infantry, vs number of wounds scored by Walker.

„Vielfraß“ Technikrüstung Ausführung B

Cost: 145pts (Veteran)
Damage Value: 7+ (Armoured car/carrier)
Weapons: 1 x Casement-mounted Medium/Heavy Autocannon

Special Rules:
Command vehicle.
Light Walker.

„Vielfraß“ Technikrüstung Ausführung G

Cost: 120pts (Veteran)
Damage Value: 7+ (Armoured car/carrier)
Weapons: 1 x Mech-mounted Flamethrower

Special Rules:
Mech-mounted Flamethrower:
Hits: 1D6, Pen +3, Range 12, Fuel out on 1, Easily catches Fire (+1 to damage roll)
Light Walker.

„Vielfraß“ Technikrüstung Ausführung M

Cost: 120pts (Veteran)
Damage Value: 7+ (Armoured car/carrier)
Weapons: 1 x Mech-mounted Twin HMG

Special Rules:
Twin HMG:
Light Walker.

„Otto“ Schwere Technikrüstung Ausführung B

Cost: 426pts (Veteran)
Damage Value: 9+ (Medium Tank)
Weapons: 2 x Super Heavy ATGs, 1 x pintle mounted MMG

Special Rules:
Heavy Walker
Flak Rule

Spürhund" Infrarot-Zielhilfe Fahrzeug

 Cost: 70pts (Veteran)
Damage Value: 6+ Softskin
Weapons: None. 1 x Casement-mounted Infrared/Optical Camera

Special Rules:
Radio-controlled: Control team needs to be in play for the vehicle to be activated.
Targeting aid: Requires succesful to hit roll to aquire target. If this vehicle moves, or if target vehicle moves out of LoS, or if player removes dice at end of turn, target aquire is lost. If LoS to any target is shared by this vehicle and any vehicle of its platoon, that vehicle gets +1 to hit against the target.

© Golf Alpha Zulu 2015. All rights reserved.

As expected, the Otto was a great big glass hammer of a points sink. Yes it hit as hard as it looks it could, (if I recall correctly it dispatched at least one Firefly with ease) but its relatively poor armour and tall profile made it a juicy target for any Allied tanker on the table. The targeting drone was also a tricksy beast to play effectively - in order to be effective it had to leave cover. It lasted 2 turns before hull mounted machine guns saw it off. The „Vielfraß“ suits were the most cost-effective units, and they proved decisive in the defence of the chateau. I think the combination of the scenario and the terrain used on the day made it very difficult for the allied attacker, so in some ways didn't give us a full picture of the effectiveness of this force.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

German transport

© Golf Alpha Zulu 2014. All rights reserved.
I have recently gotten around to completing a couple of Heer transports that have been lurking on my workbench for the longest time, and have managed to photograph a third that was completed a while ago.

First up is my interpretation of the plastic Sd.Kfz 251/1 C from Warlord Games. Despite their plastic range being released for years now, this is the first Bolt Action plastic vehicle that I  have built. Measured against recent scale model kits from manufacturers like Tamiya and Dragon, it seemed flat and uninspiring to me. But it went together well enough, and parts of the kit are streets ahead of similar resin offerings from Warlord. I liked the tyre and track detail. I really don't like the gunner figure, and I think in time I am going to replace him with a metal vehicle gunner from the Company B Kubelwagen crew.

© Golf Alpha Zulu 2015. All rights reserved.

© Golf Alpha Zulu 2015. All rights reserved.

I added a few baggage items from various sources - some from Die Waffenkamer and Company B. The large tarpaulin is from the plastic Bolt Action Universal Carrier (which is a much better kit, I think, despite not matching their resin Universal Carriers in scale) with a bit of greenstuff work to adapt it to the Hanomag.

Then there is an early Steyr RSO by Die Waffenkamer. It is such a simple, blocky vehicle, and the kit does a good job of trying to create interest in that simplicity. The track castings especially are very fussy and demand careful cleanup, and the cab part needs a fair bit of work to fit accurately over the chassis, but the resulting depth is worth the effort, I think. I ran out of enthusiasm while trying to paint up a full load for the Steyr, and given that it will be used primarily as a tow for anti-tank or anti-aircraft guns, I took the short-cut and painted up the canvas tilt.
© Golf Alpha Zulu 2015. All rights reserved.

© Golf Alpha Zulu 2015. All rights reserved.

Lastly, there is another kit from Die Waffenkamer - their Sd.Kfz 11. Not sure why this project was never photographed and published, but it has been a while. This vehicle has seen plenty of table time already, and has acquitted itself well - towing either a Pak 40 or a Flakvierling. What a great kit. I really enjoyed building this little beauty. The finicky little details that Jeff Trnka manages to cast surpass any other resin kits I have seen. This does come at a cost - you usually have to wait a while for your orders to arrive from Jeff, and I suspect it is because his casting standards are so exacting. And cleaning such delicate castings does require extra time and care. Crew are from Die Waffenkamer and Warlord Games, and baggage from a range of suppliers.

© Golf Alpha Zulu 2015. All rights reserved.

© Golf Alpha Zulu 2015. All rights reserved.

© Golf Alpha Zulu 2015. All rights reserved.

And just for fun, a recent "family portrait" of my Heer transport pool as it currently stands.

© Golf Alpha Zulu 2015. All rights reserved.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Small Wars on Facebook

With not much of a plan beyond a vague hope to extend the reach of my blog posts, I have created a Facebook page to mirror the content on the blog. Sure, part of the motivation was a somewhat gratuitous desire for growth of the traffic to the blog, but think it will free me up to use the Facebook page for more ephemeral posts - links to new products, events and such like, and project snapshots and WIP images. It will also allow for posts concerning a broader sweep of gaming - board gaming, and fantasy and sci-fi tabletop gaming, for example - which don't fit the core content of Small Wars in Southern Africa ...

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Resources and References

South African tank men, probably of the South African 6th Armored Division, with M4Al Sherman tank on hilltop; shells are being loaded in through turret. “28 Dec. 1944. 5/MM-44-32547. Fifth Army, Monzuno Area, Italy. These South African tank men fight for the first time in snow country, in the rugged Apennines. Against the snow-clad mountains this tank is made ready for firing. Photo by Schmidt. 3131 Signal Service Co.” Near Monzuno, Italy. 28 December 1944 From the Digital Collection of the US National WW2 Museum
From the Digital Collection of the United States National WWII Museum

A fair few months ago now, I was sent a collection of resource files compiled by some Johannesburg-based Flames of War gamers: J.C von Winterbach, Scott Sutherland, Mike Bersiks, Rex Barret, Andre Wessels and Wayne Turner, together with contributions by the local military historian, Lt. Col. William Marshall. They very kindly gave me permission to publish their resources here. Apologies for the delay in getting these up onto the blog, gents, and thanks for the generous contribution to this blog. Much appreciated. 

These are the resources relevant to the South African 6th Armoured Division:

South African 6th Armoured Division Paint Guide

J.C von Winterbach, Lt. Col. William Marshall & Wayne Turner

South African 6th Armoured Division History

J.C von Winterbach, Scott Sutherland, Mike Bersiks, Rex Barret

South African 6th Armoured Division OOB

J.C von Winterbach, Lt. Col. William Marshall, Scott Sutherland & Rex Barret

They have also begun work on similar documents covering the history of the 1st & 2nd South African Infantry Division (1940-43), so we can look forward to more of these invaluable resources.

Additionally, they have prepared this document concerning the war against Japan from a South African perspective:

South Africa at War with Japan 1941-1945

J.C von Winterbach & Andre Wessels

Monday, 16 March 2015


You would be forgiven for thinking I am no longer gaming. But I am: my gaming – mostly with the Peninsular Wargaming Group – has continued at regular club meetings, and the lack of posts, if anything, reflects my focus on getting as many games played as possible, rather than writing about games, or indeed, painting miniatures for games.

So what games have I been playing?

Wings of Glory

Sometime in 2014 I purchased an assorted box of old Wings of War miniatures, and got hold of the latest incarnation of the rules - Wings of Glory by Ares Games. It quickly became a club favourite for quick, multiplayer games with minimal setup time. In their most basic form the rulesets (plural, as the WW2 version is distinct from the WW1 set) are very quick to learn, and are very intuitive, but they also have layers of advanced or optional rules that increase the complexity of the game and give it a great deal of credibility when used for gaming more historical scenarios.


I have lost count of how many games of Saga I have played. While the rules have a fairly steep learning curve - both in terms of the core mechanics, and in terms of the particular strengths and weaknesses of each faction - they make up for that in providing an immersive, engaging game that demands attention to detail and careful tactics. Each game seems to develop in its own way, and you seldom get the sense that you have all the nuances mastered. A game with real depth of options. It combines a boardgame-style dice economy element, with a historical miniatures game. The latest iteration of the game - Saga Crescent and Cross - covers the period of the Crusades and the Reconquista, and has successfully managed to adapt the game from its original Dark Ages setting, and in my opinion has captured the essence and tactics of the Crusades era.

Bolt Action

While Rapid Fire still holds it place in the club as the "go to" game for recreating large, historically accurate WW2 battles, Bolt Action has entrenched itself as the "large skirmish" ruleset of choice. It is just so immersive - the dice activation system means all players are involved at all times, and it provides enough "friction" or "fog of war" that players are constantly needing to re-evaluate their next option.

We have successfully used it to fight historical skirmish campaigns, with fairly representative historical outcomes, as well as plenty of light-hearted "beer and pretzel" games. We have cracked the code of using it to fight larger games - splitting bigger tables into sectors which are effectively independent games, but allowing forces to fire from one sector to the next, and allowing forces to be "handed off" from one table to the other. The more recent additions to the BA rules range - Tank War and Battlefield Europe (and Ostront still on its way) seem to have re-invigorated interest in the game at the club, with a huge range of very diverse forces being tabled. 

Short term plans

I plan to index and organise the reference pages of this blog - not the least because I have been sent some great resources to add to the blog, and the pages have outgrown their original ad hoc nature. I also have some interesting AAR's to publish, as well as pix of some recent hobby projects...