Tuesday, 17 May 2016

6mm France 1940 YouTube Channel

I might as well kill two birds with one stone and tell you that the finishing off of the forest tree canopies can be seen on my new YouTube channel, 6mm Wargaming, France 1940 .

That is all there is at the moment but I have lots of ideas to film and upload. There is going to be an emphasis on 'how I do things' that suit me, my style of play and what I want from wargaming, not tutorials telling you for instance, the best way to paint figures as I am the first to admit I am in the 'OK when viewed 3' from the gaming table' camp.

Vallée des Champs, 2: La Réponse

As promised, I have reused this table setup for a sort of refight or if you like, follow up counter attack by the Germans after their very quick rebuff.

Dispositions & Movements

It's not completely identical as I realised I hadn't put any hedges down in the other game and there had been only the implied 'long grass' around the edges of the fields.

The Allies started with the previous games as yet unused reinforcements on-table this time (French motorised infantry & 3" mortar troop) plus a Division Légère de Cavalrie tank squadron scrambled into the area from the rear somewhere and the original understrength units (where applicable) from the first battle:
  • understrength Char B troop
  • H39, S35 & Panhard 178 DLC squadron
  • French cycle & motorised infantry
  • 75mm field gun battery
  • Scout platoon
  • MkVIB light tank troops
  • a few 25mm AT guns
The Germans transferred in replacements and injected some much needed armour from elsewhere:
  • Kradschützen & Schützen platoons
  • StuG III & SiG33 SPG batteries
  • SdKfz 232 troop
  • Pz II/Pz 38(t)/Pz IVD squadron (from 8th Panzer Division, possibly)
  • extra Pz IVD troop
  • off-table 105mm battery
In the spirit of the period, I toyed with the idea of the Allies falling back before the start of the game, to some arbitrary line "to be held at all costs" but with the much stronger Axis forces this time I left the front line as it was.

Highly mobile German armour roared away from the junction, SPGs & infantry hoping to drive a way through the fields.

Dust clouds from the East

Scout cars & light tanks flee the wood; Belgian House still smoulders after the previous engagement/game.

An artillery duel ensues between the ancient yet serviceable French 75mms and the German SPGs.

The French cavalry fans out in the vallies and the mortar spotter in the high woods zeroes his tubes on the flanking Czech based tanks.

The devastating mortar fire scuppers the Panzer 38 flanking move. On the other side of this front, the Hotchkiss tanks trundle on down the lane.

Fast moving recce forces have been ordered to find a weak spot to exploit...

...but Boys & 25mm AT weapons pull them up sharp.

French cavalry peer over the crest of the hill.

By some twist of fate (an 01 was rolled which triggered drawing the 5♠ wildcard) the French motorised infantry beyond the wood having checked into HQ for orders, has misread the map and is heading for the wrong field.

There's nowt wrong with French armour when not used in 'penny packets', especially with shooting like that! (05)

The 150mm SPGs find their mark...

...and then turn their stubby barrels on the Char Bs.

The Schützen are already 250m away in the next field by the time their supporting Pz IVs finally get their "Vorwärts!" orders.

The diminutive H39s round the corner and force the startled Pz IIs to rethink.

More corking 37mm shots mean the German light tanks must retreat. (Subsequent losses will see them cowering at the back of the woods unable to rally, even from a modestly low score of 30).

Earth clods flying, the Panzer IVs charge into the blizzard of deadly steel (and probably tungsten as well).

The Panzer IIs reverse pell mell into the wood. On the other side of the battlefield a Char B manages to catch a StuG in the side.

The Schützen pick their way forward in the hedges & ditches, supported by 105mm barrages.

Back at the junction, as the Panzer IVs attempt to regroup, the 8-Rads begin a daring charge.

Fixated on their main opponents (one effect of their one-man turrets in my rules), the French cavalry tanks fail to notice the armoured cars slipping past.

With a Gallic shrug the French infantry start getting comfortable in a quiet meadow, somewhere in France.

"Je ne sais pas, toi?"

A shot from a Hotchkiss finds another vision block on a Panzer IV on a more or less critical hit of 01.

Then a "00" roll for the Allies draws the Q♣, a free air strike, even though 100 is the worst hit roll possible.
(The AASF must've forgotten to inform the land forces about the Fairey Battles they had tasked, which a quick look in the box reminded me that they were the only Allied ground attack planes I had which were even remotely painted).

Should get some decals on soon...

The 105 battery walks a barrage up & down the powerless Allied front line.

Cat & Mouse: a deadly game for 2 to 2 million players when using real tanks in a proper war

The 8-rads circle around the evading mortar battery, snaffling one of them like the prey that they have become.

extreme flankage!!

Back in the fields, on one side there is a bit of stand-off with both combatants on alert (my term for 'overwatch'). The Schützen, on their flank, probe forwards down the ditch & hedgerow.

The off table 105s plaster the French field gun position in the wood and the StuGs & SiG33 SPGs eventually wear down the last remaining Char B, HE proving to be the most effective form of attack on the thickly armoured beast.

The now lone Somua has had enough for now and legs it towards cover. The Panzers pop smoke to reorganize and the 8-rads are moving fast now into the British rear.

German SPGs are closing the range on the Allied front line when the 25mm AT guns finally open fire at 375m into the flank of an unsuspecting assault gun.

Now rallied, the French cavalry tank returns to the battle and the Kradschützen emerge from the undergrowth of the woods to grenade the H39s from behind. 


In the fields to the South, the French line is beaten back by the oncoming tanks, armoured cars & SPGs although a Panzer IV does fall to a Boys AT rifle, its third kill in the game.

more Balkankreuzen!

The slow Hotchkiss can barely keep ahead of the German infantry snapping like hyenas at its heels and when it slows to take the hedge it finally succumbs to the lobbed grenades. With the death of the last S35, the armour battle here is over.

H39 in a pickle

The German armoured spearhead has been severely blunted in order to gain this particular victory, losing a squadron of tanks, a platoon of infantry and two assault SPGs.

from the South

The Allies have lost a 75mm battery, a squadron of cavalry tanks, the remainder of the Char B troop and some MkVI light tanks but have clearly held up the advance in this sector due to some stout pluck and good tank shooting.

from the North West

Aside from a possible dice test (I had at least 6 wildcard draws triggered by '00's and '99's) the game was remarkably well balanced in spite of the accustomed casual and cavalier selection of forces.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Tree Canopies 2: Spraying & Flocking

I got reluctantly dragged to the shops today when I was actually wanting to set up another game based on the Vallée des Champs terrain that got so little use recently.

I thought I'd been in all the DIY stores looking for spray paint and was going to have to resort to 'proper' spray paint for modelling but in the B&Q Warehouse in Lincoln they had a huge range and pretty much the right green I was after for just over £6.

Then round the corner, Homebase had the perfect dark brown for tree bark, £9 a can this time.

So because I needed them for the game and just for a bit of a trial run on the four woods I needed. The sides were sprayed dark brown with green on the top, then some light meadow green scatter for deciduous and dark brown all over plus Hornby Dark Green scatter plus a touch of green spray (for adhesion more than anything) and some light meadow green for highlights for a coniferous forest.

They turned out pretty much as expected but I made it awkward by trying to film it for YouTube without a tripod, hence I was working one-handed. Will do some more soon & properly and show you the results.

As I acquire different shades of green, so I will vary the tree canopies from one wood to another but I am still on the hunt for a straw-like dry grass colour.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Vallée des Champs, 1: L'Ouverture

Hill forms used
I had done some more French tank camouflage so felt I deserved another game although of course I have loads more painting to do.

There was a crease right down the middle of the cloth so I put a road there to disguise it. I rolled a dice for the direction of one road and the third I wanted to send down a cutting between hills and up onto some high ground. It had to turn to lessen the gradient and to explain why the road went that way, I put a farm there. Two of the woods were placed by my daughter.

Rolling for units, I used a full list of everything I've got. Thrillingly, StuGs were first, then Kradschutzen, SiG33s and Panzer 38(t)s. For the Allies, I got motorised infantry, a battery of 75mm, some MkVI light tanks and some foot infantry. That was going to be a bit too imbalanced so I rolled a scout car platoon, 25m AT guns, 3" mortars and a few Char Bs as well. With the gun-heavy Allied makeup I thought I'd let them defend but with the 3" mortars and motorised infantry as reinforcements and upgraded the foot infantry to cycle infantry (not that they did much cycling, it turns out).

Dispositions & Orders

The Allies were basically defending (although when I set them up, the only thing that was known was the German 'spawn point'). The escorted SPG column was found to be travelling more or less diagonally across the board to the high ground.

Swarming down the slope
The unsuspecting Germans planned to pass  Belgian House behind the small wood, through Marsh Farm and up onto the hill. (I've since repainted & shortened the tree trunks! These are cocktail sticks inserted from underneath which are gripped by the rubberised horsehair and do not fall out when the tree canopy is lifted off)

I wanted to make a special effort to track the passing of orders in this game because playing solo I sometimes gloss over the exact timings and movements of orders. (So when a CO is activated and wants to issue an order, it is written on the unit's order list and a white counter placed by the recipient. At the start of the next turn, each order is diced for receiving and if successful, the written down order is ticked off for putting into action, building in a 1 turn delay which can go up levels of command for further lag)

Here we see the Allied commander attempting to pass a flurry of orders:
  • Char Bs & cycle infantry to advance
  • 75mm battery to lay a barrage down in the path of the German column
  • battery OP to advance to Belgian House
  • scout platoon to commence flanking movement
The English must have been 'having tea' because I had forgot to put them 'on alert' (what I call overwatch) and took an extra turn to 'range in'.

The Char Bs have quite a pretty camouflage scheme but they, along with most of my stuff hasn't had a wash or highlights yet. I'd obviously rather be playing games

Scouts leave Marsh Farm
The scout platoon leaves its start point. 

Belgian House in the distance is called that because...well, maybe it does look like a house in Belgium but that was just what the casting was called (possibly from Tabletop Games in Nottingham or a very early incarnation of Heroics & Ros from their building range). Bought from the same source was the "large house" at the foot of the picture and Red House near the British HQ. The barns and so on are Leven Miniatures.

Char Bs get their orders

In this instance it took 3 turns for the Char Bs to receive & understand the order to advance which was typical of the tank radio problems of the day (indeed, if radios were even present).

You can see the variation in figure basings for different units, so that they can pass among each other and not get jumbled up, or need eye-catching coloured markings. Different base paint colour and flock type is all it is, actually in this case the only units present are the cycle infantry and 25mm AT crews, however.

The MkVI light tanks pin down a couple of the Kradschützen and the 75mms lay down a somewhat ineffectual harrassing barrage on the distant road, their OP moving up for a better look.

The scout platoon continues its probe down the narrow track.

The light tanks cause some casualties among the Kradschützen, a 25mm takes out a Panzer 38(t) and the spotter (now in the house) directs the 75s onto the SPGs (these have 2-3 H&R standing guncrews with bases cut off in the fighting compartment).

I do not keep track of where the CO is in a tank formation: When there is a casualty, I dice to see if it was the CO. That way not I am unable to subconsciously and advantageously target the CO.

(The green counter by the Kradschützen shows there are 11 elements in the unit, the loss of each causes a drop of 9% to the score and the current score is 78%. The purple tiddlywink (to be replaced by 'scenic' markers at some point) means they are 'uneasy' and can only advance if into cover, which they are under orders to do anyway).

The SiGs turn to blast Belgian House, the probable location of any artillery spotters but they roll 71 & 72 when it was 70 to hit. The Munitionsschlepper SdKfz111 has to stay close as they only carried 3 rounds on board.

Yes, that might even be Rommel, as there are Panzer 38(t)s & SiG33s in the game, it could be the 7th Panzer Division! (Although I don't think they operated with any StuGs, that was the 8th Pz Div but they didn't have SiG33s...)

(Sorry about the dice in this picture!)


The scout cars make their move on the German HQ (who no doubt have that 'turning of the ignition key' movie closeup moment) and the Bren carriers & MkVIs nose up to the brow of the hill. (That's the scout platoon CO at the RVP with a boulder = leader on his base)

If the Panzer 38(t)s get the message (white counter) they will be able to react to the scout cars seen by 'Rommel', otherwise the plucky Brits will be in their blind spot, at least until they fire.

The distant StuGs fire smoke at the advancing impenetrable Char Bs; Belgian House is razed for the hell of it; French infantry plods forward over the fields; the Panzers turn to face the scout car rear attack but the wireless bus gets hosed by Bren fire.

At some point a 99 had been rolled in the game and a wildcard was drawn, the Ace of Spades, enabling the 75mm spotters to 'transport Star Trek style' over to the barn by the fields (possibly they had been heading there under their own initiative and only just informed HQ of their actions??). From here they called in a barrage onto the distant German HQ.

The scout platoon Bren carriers deploy on the brow of the hill, hoping to get a good AT rifle hit on the 150mm SPGs but the MkVIs stay hull down (brown counters).

The smokescreen grows, blinding the Char Bs.

The Germans now get a wildcard when 100 is rolled (a critical miss, if I had such a thing, by the Panzer 38s at the scout cars!) but they get a 'free 150mm barrage'. Maybe the StuG CO changed frequencies and got ahold of someone, who can say? Anyway, the ground erupted around the French leviathans, destroying the troop leader's tank.
Realizing they had gone further than orders really permitted, the scout cars turned back towards the RVP. One was picked off by the Panzers but another salvo from the 75s rained down on the hapless remainder of the HQ and decapitated the German Eagle.

End of game: 'Rommel' killed

I am going to either refight this game with the same terrain (less than a quarter of it got used) but with some hedges & fences wich I forgot to put on and not faff about with the German 'attack' quite as much (was the objective the far corner of the board on the high ground or was it to destroy enemy forces en route?) or I may have a follow up on the same battlefield consisting of a German 'reprisal' counter attack.