Tuesday, 31 March 2020

The Korona project

I blame Peter. His maps and mini-campaigns are just gorgeous, the simplicity of the campaign rules he uses are inspiring. The urge to put together a mini-campaign of my own is overwhelming. But what period to choose? My Spanish Succession armies are only half finished. I have the rebels painted, but not the imperials for Star Wars. None of my Gallic Wars are painted yet. Both Mortal gods and Superheroes are too small scale for a conventional campaign. WWI? Maybe, but I'm still waiting on my tank. Fantasy? Possibly, but there are 7 more armies to paint before I do a proper campaign with them. And then it dawned on me. I'm in Corona lockdown. Parcels of goodies are currently rather restricted. Why not put something together that is a 'make-do' project?

It just so happened that I had a make-do project sitting in the attic. A while back, Geoff gave me a bunch of Matchbox Japanese and Australian infantry when I was musing about doing a WW2 Burma project. When it comes to World War Two, my interest lies with 3 main theatres - France 1940, the Eastern Front and Burma. However, there really wasn't enough to do a proper Burma campaign. Then, the other night I watched the Aussie documentary on Kokoda. It was one of those weird things that suddenly occurred to me. I knew about the Papua New Guinea campaign, but not in any detail. Turns out the documentary was fantastic (it doesn't really go for one hour and 44 minutes per episode - some weird editing restarts it at the end of the first episode). The terrible conditions married to the difficulties of supply led to some things I knew nothing about - cannibalism being one of them. Both sides suffered terribly, and the leadership comes in for a hammering. The Japanese were ordered to withdraw early on with victory in sight; the Australians who fought so valiantly were disrespected not just by 'Dug-out Doug' MacArthur, but also their own general, Blamey.

So, inspired to do a campaign. Inspired by the story of Kokoda. Spare toys floating in the attic. Stuck at home for 4 weeks. The perfect storm has lead me to the Korona Campaign! Based on the Kokoda track, this is an imaginary campaign featuring a battalion aside of Australians and Japanese.  I don't actually have enough figures for this - I have enough for one reinforced company a side - but I have an idea about how I'll get around this in the campaign.  Supply is going to be huge, so I have a few ideas about how to represent this. The map is built in the same way that Peter put together his Western Desert campaign, in sections that move back and forth along the Korona track(s).

The set out is as shown here:
Anything coloured green is jungle - so lots of it!

Much like the set up for Kokoda, Port Murray  is held by the Australians. The 63rd Battalion AIF has been tasked with moving overland and garrisoning the villages of Korona and Kilu in case of Japanese attack. However, unknown to the Australians, the Japanese have already landed. They have dispatched two companies to occupy Korona and then advance over the Stan Owens Mountain range to occupy Port Murray. 3rd Company has been sent south to advance along the Kerna track - an even less developed route than the Korona tracks to the north.
The Aussie advantage comes from having 2 supply companies, mostly conscripted natives, and a partial squadron of the RAAF flying 3 Brewster Buffalos. Both sides have a Destroyer supporting their transport convoys. 
Campaign turns represent a week. The further the units are from their supply bases (Kilu and Munara for Japanese, Port Murray for Australians) the more difficult supply is. In order to make sure that it is at fighting efficiency, each fighting company must roll a d6 and score higher the number of zones it is away from it's base, so at maximum distance needing a '6' to pass. If it fails, the unit may not advance in this turn. If it fails the following week, it will withdraw one zone. If attacked after withdrawing, units within the force will fight as 'raw' unless they roll in supply. Having a supply company supporting a fighting company gives +1 to the roll.
When a company is involved in a combat and loses troops, the result of a resupply roll also indicates how many stands are added to the company as reinforcements. Half the number rolled is added.

These campaign rules are simple, and haven't taken into account how air support will work yet. I'll think about that overnight. The battle rules are just as simple an ready to evolve as the games occur. They are cobbled together from different sources such as Crossfire and Donald Featherstone. They use three figures on a base as a section, 3 bases with an officer is a platoon. 3 platoons is a company, and I had enough bases to put a fourth platoon together, allowing for reinforcing one company with another.
Cobbled together from what I had
 The 25pdr might seem out of place, but one was hauled up a ridge to bombard the Japanese at the beginning of the counterattack from Port Moresby.
I don't expect the Chi-ha to take any part in this campaign, but it is a cool little tank.
One of the conditions of this project is that I do it during the day as a lockdown special project. I'll continue to do my other projects at night as usual. So it is entirely possible that it won't even get finished, but I've made a pretty map, and as you can see above, the armies are undercoated and have their initial uniform base coats on. Depending on how many more weeks the lockdown lasts, or how often I get to escape to the shed to dab on some paint, we may see the Korona campaign eventuate.


Monday, 30 March 2020

'He never besieged a town he did not take...

...or fought a battle he did not win.'
The Duke of Marlborough during the War of Spanish Succession

Matt over at the Waterloo to Mons blog has set a challenge to the blogging community to name our favourite general from history, and it should come as very little surprise to readers of this blog that my pick is John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough. The reasons why would appear obvious, just from the quote above - England's (then Britain's) most successful general, the only Englishman to ever be in charge of a continental coalition in a major war, managing not only the military campaigns but diplomacy as well. (I'm not English by the way, I'm a colonial, so I don't know why that last sentence looks so jingoistically English).

But as you will see from some other entries, this isn't a challenge to blog about the 'best' generals, but about your favourite, and what I like about Marlborough is the complexity of the man. He came from an extremely obscure background, and used his talents - whether on the field of battle, at court or in the boudoir, to advance himself. He was not above accepting the favours of the Duchess of Cleveland to ensure that he had a steady income, and his position at court meant that when the Duke of York became King James II, Churchill was at the centre of power.

The next aspect is one where our man gets a lot of criticism. His betrayal of James - his benefactor - in favour of William III seems a callous abandonment, and many see it that way, no doubt heavily influenced by later Tory propaganda. My take on it is this: Churchill coming over to William brought a good part of the army with him. Had he stayed, so would many of his peers. For this reason I believe that this move was done for religious reasons, that Churchill was prepared to betray his friend for his beliefs. The fact that he then remained in communication with James afterwards is no surprise - betrayal or not, he was still his friend. It is this difficult and contentious history that makes Marlborough so fascinating.
Marlborough writing the Blenheim dispatch

Another part of Marlborough's life was his marriage to a woman whose overbearing attitude to Queen Anne would eventually see a major political shift in English government. Sarah Churchill is hard to like, and her moods must have been hard for Churchill to navigate - but he loved her whole-heartedly. Like his famous descendant, Sir Winston Churchill, Marlborough suffered from mental illness (no doubt not helped by his wife's behaviour), and despite this was able to run a major war that would exhaust and humble Louis XIV's France - at least until he lost the Queen's support and the coalition he had done so much to keep together collapsed. Thanks Sarah.
I think this portrait captures the personality of Sarah Churchill perfectly

Did Marlborough keep the war going just to make himself rich and powerful? The jealous Tories thought so, but the fact is that in 1709, with France on her knees, Marlborough was willing to rack up the highest body count of all 18th Century European battles in order to finish the war. The powers of resistance that the French showed were not just a great shock to Europe, but also to himself. As an aside, I have a firm dislike for Jonathan Swift, of Gulliver's Travels fame. The Tory pamphleteer was one of Marlborough's accusers, and has had a good deal of impact, amongst others, on sullying the man's reputation.

The Duke of Marlborough was an impressive character, despite faults like his notorious pecunious nature, dealing with huge pressures, and yet beloved enough by his soldiers to earn the nickname Corporal John.

If you are reading this, make a post about your favourite general too.


Sunday, 29 March 2020

A timely regiment

The latest WSS regiment to roll off the production line is French Regiment La Couronne. A beautiful blue faced regiment to contrast with my red and white faced regiments. The last of the grey coated French is going to be the Royaux Vaisseux, who have a mix of red and blue facings and waistcoats. La Couronne is also the French equivalent of La Corona, hence why their advent in my collection is timely.

Best view with the flags nice and clear

The grey coats are done with grey contrast paint. Not as nice a finish as painting them in a layered style, but I'm really going for the mass effect on the table with the Spanish Succession project.

Close up showing the drummer's lace and that the Warlord plastics don't scrub up too badly.
I also took the opportunity today to add some finishing touches to my Greek house. I'm aware that mosaics didn't start appearing in the Greek world until around the time of the Peloponnesian War and would have been rare, but surely a wealthy Athenian is just the person to be among the first to start adding these kinds of decoration?
Farm from above with rooves on.

Tada! Pretty floors!

Out side the door to the living quarters, a herm with the head of Theseus - legendary king of Athens and ancestor of the family who lives here.

Seen through the front gates, a statue of Perseus in the courtyard
 Note the statues are painted - that is what the Greeks did. They would have been surprised at out appreciation of bare rock.
And the visitor's view of the herm

Looking through the door at the andron.
Some furniture might also be an appropriate addition at some point. Couches to recline on in the andron would be good.


Saturday, 28 March 2020

War at Sea during the lockdown

This is the third day of the New Zealand lockdown, and the first day of the school holidays, so I was able to do a little gaming stuff today. I decided to repaint my sea boards, as they were looking a bit worn, and decided to christen them with a small game of One Hour Jutland. These rules are written by Martin Rapier and John Armatys, and available free from Martin's blog. I've had one game where I took the full mini-Jutland forces, but this time I just wanted to have a quick game so used some light forces.
The British squadron

The German opposition
 Ignore the ships used - both sides had a battle-cruiser, a light cruiser and one or two destroyers. I thought Westfalen was a battle-cruiser, but I should have been using Von der Tann. And the Brits should have had Indefatigable on the table. I didn't have my guidebook handy.
The British navy have the best of the duel
 The two sides advanced into range to broadside each other, with the destroyers letting go a couple of torpedos as well. The British gunnery proved far more effective than the Germans, despite the Germans almost getting a critical hit on the British Battlecruiser (they explode on a natural 6 followed by a second roll of 5 or 6 - the Germans rolled a 4).
The German Battle-cruiser is in trouble

Ka Boom! Scratch one German ship.

The Wiesbaden makes a run for it.
I enjoy solo gaming, and as such this lock-down is fine for me. I'm planning on trying to play plenty of games in between painting my daughter's bedroom, but mostly relatively quick ones like this. 
The boards from above look quite effective.


Sunday, 22 March 2020

Homage to Catalonia

With everything going on, I finally got some painting in over the last couple of days, and painted a unit for the Confederate forces in Spain. This is a Spanish raised unit, the Catalonian Guards, whom I chose to paint due to their yellow coats more than anything else. They served in Spain from the beginning of the Allied campaigns in Catalonia until after the war ended and Catalonia faced the full might of the Bourbon powers by itself, culminating in the fall of Barcleona in 1714.
Showing the colours from early on in the war. House of Austria featuring prominently.

Ebor miniatures command - they fit really well with the Warlord plastics.

The whole unit from a different angle.
Now I have the La Couronne unit for the French to paint, before getting back to the Star Wars stuff.


Saturday, 14 March 2020

I wanna be... your Trench Hammer!

Having a read a couple of battle reports on the Stronghold Rebuilt the idea of using the Trench Hammer rules by Nordic Weasel looked absolutely perfect for my 54mm Great War project.
So with my recently completed armies all glossy and shiny I decided to play out an assault by a British platoon on the German line, using the textbook assault tactics of the British army of 1917-18.

First turn to the British and the Lewis section and rifle bomber section provide support as the Bombing section and rifle section advance.

It is probably not a good thing that they are standing out in the open, but remember, I've never used these rules before.

The German line consists of an HMG, rifle gruppe and MG08/15 gruppe

On the side of the table I have the printed cards to keep track of each unit. These were kindly provided by Jozi's tin men blog and are free to download. The QRS is mine and incorporates the integrity checks outlined in the Trench Hammer expansion pack.

Oh dear. Being in the open is slightly dangerous it would seem!

The bombing section hurriedly enters the cover of the woods on the right flank

And the support sections occupy some shellholes very quickly.

The HMG is receiving fire from the rifle grenades, and ineffectively returning fire.

In the right the bombing squad continues to advance, winning the first firefight with the Germans in front of them.

Followed by an assault that successfully occupies the German line.

It would appear the British are on the verge of victory!
Achtung! The rifle gruppe counterattacks and drives the British out!

And the HMG takes care of the rest.

'Zat vas a close vun!'

'That's it boys! Hunker down and wait for reinforcements!'

So that was the first game. With 50% casualties the British called off the assault and the Germans held their trench. I learned a few things from the game. Damage can be horrific - it is a d6 roll and your nice fresh unit can  find itself on the verge of destruction very quickly. This is exactly what happened to the British Rifle section. A difference from the main rules is that I don't allow units to be destroyed until they have failed an integrity check, but they are not allowed to carry out any orders other than rally once they reach 6 casualties. This little bit of house-ruling was never really put to the test, as every unit suffering 6 casualties or more failed their integrity check.

It was a good little game and perfect for my small collection of 54mm toy soldiers. I now just need to devise some more scenarios to include the artillery, and I am now eyeing up a 1/32 tank, just because.


Sunday, 8 March 2020

Part of the Rebel Alliance and a traitor

Leia arrived Thursday morning and was finished by Thursday night. A great figure to paint.

I just have some rebel specialists on their way now, and then I'll have the whole the whole rebel force to do a review of.
Meanwhile the painting of the Great War 54mm is proceeding well. The British are all done and the Germans are underway. The garage is packed with stuff from the old playroom at the moment, as it is being converted into a bedroom for my oldest daughter, so I don't have a gaming table. But I plan to have a Trench Hammer game as soon as I can.


Sunday, 1 March 2020

Han Solo and Director Krennic(s)

So the last of the Rebels in my possession received his coat of paint, and I was going to celebrate with an army review, but then I went and ordered Leia, so I'll wait until she is finished before doing that.
Anyway, here is Han Solo:
Dressed in a duster coat as he was on Endor.

Han was always my favourite character, which is why I left him until last.

I followed Sorastro's idea of using washes to create the camouflage pattern

Try as I might, I just can't replicate Sorastro's way of highlighting shiny black, so the boots just got the standard German Grey with a black wash.
At the same time as Han I painted my Director Krennic, and Craig's version of the same.
Double the Krennic

Mine is on the left. The only real difference is the basing.
I still have a squad of Death troopers on the painting tray, but I'm going to leave them for a bit and try and paint all of my 54mm Great War figures. As I said last post, there are only 24 of them (plus two machine guns), and then back into the Imperials.