Wednesday, April 24, 2024

WIP Wednesday: Air Support & Rommel Forward HQs


Another week, another WIP Wednesday post!  Too bad this isn't a BATREP but like the last post said, I've been busy!  Track season is in full swing with both children, school play practice, and lots of things happening at work of late, so not much activity on the gaming front, but I was able to slap some paint on these nice 6mm aircraft for the upcoming Kasserine game!

A JU-87 from Sturzkampfgeschwader 3 or StG 3, next to a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk - two of my all time favorite WWII Planes!

distinctive markings starting to appear on the planes now.  Not too bad for hand painted I guess.

Squadron markings on the Stuka and I'm calling him done!

Many prints of the Warhawk in North Africa had a sort of brown-on-tan scheme but I liked the more traditional look.

Very pleased with how they both turned out.  They're ready to serve as "air support" markers now!

Next up I wanted to get cracking on my DAK Command Stand and Rommel to join Peter's North African German ranks from "Grid Based Wargaming".  Since the bases are 40mm, I'm creating 2 x stands.  One with Rommel, and a more "generic" HQs stand.  That way the bases dont look too crowded.

Generic HQs stand with some generic HQs looking troops.  We have a command van and a Steyr heavy car I think.

Progress on the command stand that needs no introduction!  GREIF without the antenna array painted or affixed to the hull yet.  The Baccus 250/3 antennas I received are all bent in the WRONG direction...  All of the pictures i've seen of the "bedframe" antennas point downward in the front.  I'll see what I can do!

Some personnel, rocks, and desert vegetation will make this stand pop!

They're coming along!

Field Marshall Rommel with hands clasped behind back - still a WIP but this is WIP Wednesday after all!

The whole mess so far.

So that's it.  Not much to show for a week's painting but I'm happy with it all.  The North African stuff for Peter's collection is coming along nicely.  I will be writing out the final scenario for Kasserine this weekend and I'm hopeful to get a game in with Dave on the horizon!  Also keen to get a Valour and Fortitude game on the table soon.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

WIP Wednesday: Spring Slowdown, Planes, and the Desert Fox


Another week, another WIP Wednesday!  Trying to stick with the blog posting and I've got plenty or material queued up.  The problem is I've also got lots of activities ongoing with the kids and the beginning of a new quarter at work, which doesn't always make enough room for hobby time!!  But enough complaining, let's get to the action.

Continued progress on the Kasserine Front this week as I spray-painted the last of the towns and now have enough  built for all towns in the upcoming Kasserine scenario.  I also started painting the aircraft for my air support "markers".  I've always had lots of fun with 1/300 aircraft so I'm really looking forward to knocking out the P-40 and the JU-87.  I'm also gathering bases to base Peter's palm trees so as in previous weeks, we're getting closer!

JU-87 Stuka and the P-40 Warhawk - 2 x of my all-time favorite WWII warbirds!

Finally got some drybrush on the command tents/supply depots etc.

Butted up all of the BUA hexes together.  The palm trees shown are the crappy chenille bump ones I tried (and failed!) to make.  Peter's will go on the rest.

In gaming news, I got to playtest "Scenario 31" a little this week with 9 x units per side, and that was an illuminating experience.  I enjoyed developing this "officially unofficial" scenario for One Hour Wargames, and might even pen some more after I playtest this about a dozen times.  I'm going to play it with a few rules sets, including One Hour Wargames, Martin's OHW variant, and of course an old OHW Grand Tactical variant that I co-authored few years ago, just to see how it plays.

Units all set up for OHW "Scenario 31" Unofficial scenario!  9 units for this one, so a unit in each town to start, and 2 units in between the towns.

Garrisoning one of the villages!  Any resemblance to the 6mm Essling Granary is totally coincidental!  But you have to admit that's a gorgeous model!!!  Thank you Total Battle Miniatures!

Garrisoning the other village! 

In my game, of which I played about 8 turns, I used the Neil Thomas' "Napoleonic Wargaming" with some house rules to add some pizazz to them.  After playing with a mostly tactical set, I'm going to try with a grand tactical set to see how that plays.  Truth be told, I ran into some "space" issues trying to crowd all those Austrian units into the narrow space to attack the towns - just like an "echeloned attack!"

Attacking "Aspern" 

Austrian echeloned columns race to assault "Not Essling"

Finally, I started work on Peter's 6mm WW2 command stand for his 6mm desert battles.  This 40mm square has entirely too many things on it so I'm thinking of breaking it up.  A Rommel stand, and an actual command post stand.  So 1 x stand with "GREIF" and the staff car, and 1 x stand with the radio truck, and the wire-laying 250/1.  This is another project I'm going to get to this weekend as I want to ship it off to Peter soon.

mix of Baccus and GHQ minis here

That's all for now everyone.  Lots more "Scenario 31" action coming up, and I plan on posting the Kasserine Pass scenario this weekend.  Stay tuned!

Friday, April 5, 2024

Kasserine Pass: Scenario Considerations

 Well by now everyone who follows the blog is aware of the Kasserine Pass preparations.  With the miniatures done and the terrain in good enough shape, it's time now to focus on developing the actual scenario.  We're going to play this with my "36 Inch Battlefield" modifications to Peter's WW2 Gridded rules, that can be found at his excellent blog "Grid Based Wargaming - But Not Always".

I've had some good dialogue with Martin Rapier (of "The Games We Play" blog) regarding re-fighting Kasserine Pass, in terms of scale, OOB, map, and rules, and frankly this scenario is strongly inspired by Martin's Kasserine Pass game played in Spring, 2020.

Kasserine Pass, as is common with the North African engagements, is heavy on maneuver, with movement, complex reinforcement schedules, and potentially more complex victory conditions.  It all has to be boiled down into something that can be playable in a few hours, has realistic victory conditions, and reflects the nature of the battle itself.  I think we just found our design objectives!

  • Playable in a few hours.
  • Realistic Victory Conditions
  • Evocative of the Kasserine Pass (and Tunisian Campaign) Battles.

So how do the objectives translate to the scenario design?  

Playable in a Few Hours

I think this means a few things.  Our Kharkov game of late was a rip-roaring good time full of blasting tanks with 88s, rampaging artillery strikes, and isolated pockets of Soviet infantry breaking from the treeline to assault your rear-guard 88s.  It was glorious!  You could really see the armored spearheads of the Germans as "blue arrows on the map".  But it was also crowded for a 20x20 hex battlefield,  and it was a long battle, probably just over 3 hours.  Why. 

German Breakthrough at Kharkov - A little crowded

For starters, the units were down to platoon scale from a Fistful of TOWS scenario, so there were many units on the table.  Probably too many for the size of the battlefield, and in keeping with the "36" Battlefields" ethos, that should have been cut down a bit further.  Martin offered this suggestion to me, and kindly steered me away from units set as Battalions (still way too many units on the table for a 20x20 hex game).  He then sent me a modified OOB with units representing Regimental Combat Teams.  Perfect!  I might have added one or two units here or there because I'm a tank junkie, but overall I think we have our scale, and units as Regiments or scaled down Brigades, offers us about 20-25 units per side, coming in at different times on the table.

Realistic Victory Conditions

Kasserine Pass is an embarrassing defeat for us well-read Americans, and caused a big (albeit necessary) shakeup within the command structure afterwards, but the Germans are racing against the clock and a tenuous supply line while the Americans and British are lavishly equipped but with suffering prestige.  (The British kindly referred to us as "our Italians" during the campaign.) 

It's arguable that all of the ingredients for both sides to win (and lose!) are present, so how best to represent that on the table with a 36" Battle?

Martin's objectives are very realistic for the level of battle he is portraying on the table.  His objectives are as follows:

The Germans must:

Drive the Americans out of the Valley, capturing Gafsa, Feriana, Kasserine, and Sbeitla.  They must destroy at least 3 Regiments/Brigades, and either capture the main supply base at Tebessa or exit at least 2 infantry or tank regiments off the north edge of the map at the end of the game for a "major victory".

The Allies must:

Conduct at least one armored counterattack if the line is penetrated.  They must preserve the supply base at Tebessa, prevent penetration off the northern edge of the battlefield.  For the sake of prestige, the Americans must try to win at least one tactical engagement with purely US forces, while avoiding the loss of more than two regiments/brigades.

The 36" Battlefield Version:

Given the highly attritional nature of the 36" Battlefields rules modifications, a point is awarded for destroyed units (rather than put a cap on it).  The Germans are awarded 3 points per unit that exits the northern edge of the map.  The valley towns of Gafsa, Feriana, Kasserine, and Sbeitla are all worth 1 point, awarded at game's end after the clock runs out.  Capture of a minor supply point is an additional 1 point (so a town that holds a supply staging area would be worth 2 points).  The Americans gain 1 vp immediately if they successfully destroy a supply dump before it is over run.  (4+, 1D6).

Turn Length w/Random Events and Variable Ending

The turns in Martin's rules seem to be roughly 12 hour operational periods most likely dusk until dawn.  I'm going to take a page from Norm's playbook and make the clock variable, and we will abstract the "night" periods.  At the end of each turn, players will roll a 2D6, the result of which will tell you how many hours have passed since the beginning of play.  The game ends after 108 hours have passed.

If doubles are rolled, this is a random event (credit goes to Norm for this idea).  For Kasserine Pass, the suggested random events are as follows:

2: Weather - movement reduced to 1 hex except on roads / no air sorties available

3: Weather - movement reduced to 1 hex except on roads / no air sorties available

4: Weather - movement reduced to 1 hex except on roads / no air sorties available

5: Weather - movement reduced to 1 hex except on roads / no air sorties available

6: Enemy lost supply column ambushed by forward patrol.  The German unit nearest Allied forces with a "D" marker may freely remove it without rallying.

7: "Wait 'till they get a dose of that Artillery fire" Allies receive 1 free Artillery Fire Mission Salvo

8: "The timeline is slipping, General, get moving." All Germans allowed 1 extra hex movement regardless of terrain or weather

9: "Rangers Lead the Way" furthest north German unit loses its movement this turn due to enemy ambush.

10: Desert Rats.  British Vic Force arrives now regardless of turn.  If already on table, 1 x British unit may freely remove a "D" marker without rallying.  If no British units have a "D" marker, this may be saved for use when/if they do.  

11: Big shake-up at HQs!  All Allied units on the table may not move this turn.  THey may fight, they may use IDF or close air support.  Any arriving reinforcements must remain at the baseline.

12: 501st Panzer Withdrawn.  Remove the Tiger Battalion from the table.

Orders of Battle

Afrika Korps / Panzer Armee Afrika

10th Panzer: 1 x recce 2 x tank, 1 x Tiger, 1 x Mech Inf, 1 x Mot Inf, 1 x AT
21st Panzer: 1 x recce,  2 x tank, 1 x Mot Inf, 1 x SP AT
Centauro: 1 x Tank, 1 x Mot Inf,
Zvb 288: 1 x Mot Inf
Corps Artillery: 1 x Artillery Unit

II (US) Corps

1st Infantry Division:  3 x Motorized Inf, 1 x Engineer Battalion, 1 x AT
34th Infantry Division:  Inf, 3 x Inf (maybe Mot?), 1 x AT
1st Armored Division: 2 x Tanks, 1 x Mech Inf 
6th Armoured Division: 2 x Tanks, 1 x Mot Inf
Corps Special Troops: 1 x Corps Artillery Unit, 1 x Engineer Battalion, Ranger Battalion, 1 x recce unit

Fire Support

Germans have 10 IDF fire missions.

Allies have 14 IDF fire missions.

Each turn both sides roll for potential air missions.  Tactical air support is available on a roll of 5+ (weather dependent)

Reinforcement Schedule

  • Turn 1 1st Armored Division/CCB-1 at Point J.
  • Turn 2 1 x RCT/34th Div. on Highway 3 at Point J
  • Turn 4 "Vicforce"1 x Tank and 1x Mot Inf  on Highway 3. 26th Amd Bde (1 x Tank) on Highway 3 at Point J
  • Turn 5 9th Divisional Artillery on Highway 2 (SP Arty) at Point K

Initial Setup

  • 10th Panzer Div massed at Faid Pass with 501 Tiger Bn (adjacent hexes in and around Point A)
  • 21st Panzer Div the pass NE of Maknassy, with Rommel (adjacent hexes in and around Point B)
  • Centauro Amd Div (-) in reserve at El Guettar (may enter on any southern road).
  • Corps units: 501 Tiger Bn, Zbv 288 Afrika (dug around Point A)
  • 34th Infantry Div (-): 1 x RCT north of Faid Pass, 1 x RCT at Sbeitla (Point C, and D)
  • 1st Armored Div: CCC at Foundouk junction , CCA at Faid Pass X roads (Points E and F)
  • 1st Infantry Div: 2 x RCT at Gafsa (G), 1 x Div Support at Kasserine (H), 1 x RCT Thala (Corps reserve (I))
The Map
I tried to faithfully recreate Martin's Map (which is excellent in its own right) to better fit my 22 x 22 hex mat.  The new map, drawn in powerpoint, is a bit wider than Martin's which could be good or bad...  I have to admit while it's not perfect, it was fun sliding all these hexes around and creating wargame maps, and it looks good enough for an hour's work. 

Very happy with this map!

The setup is marked with upper case letters while the wadis are marked in blue and roads in black.  the heights are darker brown.  Overall, I'm happy with the map and I think we're about ready to develop a scenario outline and post it on the blog!

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

WIP Wednesday: Breakthrough in North Africa!

 Some huge breakthroughs achieved on the North African front this week as reinforcements poured in via the mail (and making better progress than the German PanzerArmee Afrika steamers from Italy to Tunis I might add!)

Not only did Peter's palm trees arrive, but our "air support" for both sides showed up in force, fresh out of the 3D printing factories in their home nations!  (actually both from Canada and a supplier on Ebay).  The air support was a critical element to moving forward but now that I have the markers in, I can begin painting them!

Black buildings still need their paint but we're making progress!

JU-87 fresh from the factory

The Stuka next to 1/285 infantry for scale.

The P-40 Warhawk!  One of my favorite planes of all-time! (aircraft engine and machine gun noises are mandatory when handling....)

Will have the camo painted on these guys and that's it!

Work continues apace on the scenario design for Kasserine Pass and I am still working on the blog post for the "Scenario Considerations" and will be next looking to make the hexmap for the scenario next.  If anyone has some free map-making software they know of where I can plop a hexgrid and some hills and roads down, please feel free to send the link along!

I'm shooting for not this Friday, but perhaps the following *gaming* Friday for a Kasserine Pass game with my buddy Dave (on or about 19 April) which should give me ample time to wrap up painting the aircraft, basing up the palm trees and finishing up more building hexes for villages.  This Friday will likely be a Napoleonic game to test out "Scenario#31: Echeloned Attack".  

Oh, you didn't know One Hour Wargames has 31 scenarios?  


The Blood Pact Infantry project is done and ready for a game.  Too bad my Planetary Defense Forces still need their ground cover, but we're almost done with this project.  Thinking of playing a few skirmish type games with them including Neil Thomas' Skirmish Rules from Wargaming: An Introduction, "One Hour Skirmish Wargames", and of course "Grimdark Future".  The next time you all will see them will be in a game.

A proof of concept planetary defense trooper in there as well.

More DAK Reinforcements Arrive From....Great Britain???

Bear with me I'm going somewhere with this.  I am assembling a small (6mm) surprise for Peter from Grid-Based Wargaming in return for his Palm Trees in the form of a 6mm Command Stand for his Afrika Korps troops in the form of the man himself - Erwin Rommel!  

Using Baccus' "German High Command" pack (WGA01), and the SdKfz 250/2 and 250/3 pack (radio and telephone command tracks) I'm assembling Rommel's command staff and HQs track (GREIF) to serve as a DAK command stand for Peter's 6mm North Africa games.  I absolutely cannot wait to start this project!!!  The high command set even comes with a high ranking officer with a peak cap and his hands clasped behind his back!  Perfect!

Painted for NW Europe by Baccus people...


So Peter's command stand is going to cross a number of oceans and continents before it is able to grace his table but we're working on it!  Will report as details come available.

Finally - The Cat

My Mom has a "treasured heirloom" in our family.  A plastic black cat handsoap dispenser that she used to bring out on Halloween.  It just so happens that she also has a Black Cat who has a different name but everyone calls him "Boo Boo" or "Boo" because he is, as my son and daughter say, "a scary halloween cat".  

Anyways, Boo Boo's whiskers were scratched off as a result of MANY years of handling.  So I broke out the brushes and painted them back on.  Boo Boo's whiskers have been restored.  A wargamer's skills put to good use!

they're a little uneven but my mom was thrilled when we dropped him off on Easter Sunday

That's all for now.  I hope everyone is having a great week!  Stay tuned for more Kasserine developments!

Monday, April 1, 2024

SCENARIO 31: ECHELONED ATTACK - Developing an Aspern-Essling Inspired Scenario for One Hour Wargames

 I've been reading over Martin Rapier's "One Hour Wargames" Napoleonic rules of late and I am very much looking forward to getting a game in soon.  Martin's application of sound historical thinking to the One Hour Wargames ethos has had me excited about breaking out my Napoleonics and having a go at some big Napoleonic battles.  The only problem?  I don't want to play Quatre Bras or Salamanca again.  And until I get some Prussian and French Epic Warlord troopers painted up, I'm stuck with the nations that I have now (those being French, Austrian, Russian, and 1815 British and Dutch and the Napoleonic-inspired scenarios in the book...  Cue Donald Rumsfeld: "You go to war(games) with the Army you have, not the Army you wish you had".

Anyways, Martin's rules were written, I believe, with the scenarios from the OHW book in mind.  It's no secret that developing scenarios is one of my favorite aspects of the hobby so how do you do a titanic battle like  Aspern Essling justice?  There are some decent choices in the OHW book that would work now, but none of them are exact hits for this unusual fight, and all would require me to shift terrain types and locations.

Take for example, "Scenario #10 "Late Arrivals".  This scenario sees blue awaiting its reinforcements, and making a nail-biting defense work using the terrain.  This *could* work for Aspern Essling, or at least just for Aspern, by switching the "impassible hill" with the forest, and making the forest "impassible" and allowing the hill to be occupied.  Easy, but there's only one town.  I'd have to add another, and who knows what that would do the scenario.

Easy - just move the town left and up, switch the hills and forest, straighten out the road...seems like alot of work (Taken from OHW without permission, all rights reserved to their respective owners, no challenge to the author's status intended)

Scenario #15 "Fortified Defense" comes closer, and it has 2 built-up areas in it.  You would have to move the location of the woods but it looks like a halfway decent contender, at least for the topography (IE the 2 BUAs).  I just dont like the "troll Corps" that can regenerate to simulate additional attacking waves.  It seems like I'm watching a Ridley Scott Napoleonic battle, only the trenches are missing...

Getting closer - we'd just need to move the BUAs around and move the woods - and no troll Austrian regeneration!  (Taken from OHW without permission, all rights reserved to their respective owners, no challenge to the author's status intended)

While I like Scenario 15, and you could make the argument that the Austrians did come in "waves" against the French positions, I want the Austrian "Columns" to be stand-alone elements, not a regeneration of the entire force.  So Scenario 15 is close, but is still out.

Reading through all of the scenarios made me realize what's needed is a NEW scenario.  A "Scenario 31" if you will, representing an attack that I dont feel is very well represented in the OHW book - that of an "echeloned attack", where blows fall in succession upon an enemy in a timed (but not necessarily intentional) sequence.  Gettysburg on Day 2 is a classic example of an echeloned attack.  You want to know another great example of an attack where the various Corps fell upon the defenders in an echeloned sequence?  Aspern Essling in 1809!  Great!  So how do we do it?  Well Mr Neil Thomas already has a scenario that will *start* to fit our needs...

Scenario #5: Bridgehead.

aside from the fact that AE, 1809 is an actual battle for a Bridgehead, this scenario has some great starting points for our new scenario - namely the various entry points for the attacking force.

It doesnt look like it yet, but we're going to make Aspern-Essling out of these 9 boxes...

The letters on the perimeter represent random entry points for the various antagonists.  What if they instead represented actual, timed locations for the attacker to show up?  IE 2 units enter at Point A on turn 2.  3 Units enter at Point B on Turn 4, etc.  We'll get rid of that river, and move the woods south by 12".  Next we'll put a BUA where the woods are now, and put another BUA 2 squares to the right.  Simple right?

Now THAT is more like it!

We'll need Scenario Parameters too, right?  Can't forget those.  

Situation: The Blue Army has invaded Red territory, occupied its capital and is marching to force a decisive battle against the Red Army.  To do this, it must cross its army over a large river and establish a foothold on the opposite bank.  The Red Army, rather than resisting the passage, allows the Blue Army to build  a small foothold on the opposite bank, while planning to attack the bridgehead from multiple directions so that it can isolate the Blue Army from its reinforcements and destroy it.

Army Size: Both Armies have 6 units (although I'd like to scale up to 9 - if you do, simply add 1 unit to what Red receives on Turns 1, 2, and 3.  Blue should then start with 4 units on the table, and receive 2 x units on Turns 3 and 6)

Deployment:  The Blue player begins with 3 units deployed.  He must place 1 unit in each town.  He may place his other starting unit anywhere between the 2 towns, up to 18 inches from the southern table edge.


Turn 1: Red player places 2 x units at Point A

Turn 2: Red player places 1 x unit at Point B

Turn 3: Red Player places 2 x units at Point C

            Blue Player places 1 x unit at Point E  

Turn 5: Red Player places 1 x unit at Point D

Turn 6: Blue player places 1 x unit at Point E

Turn 9: Blue player places 1 x unit at Point E

Special Rules:*UPDATED*  Blue Reinforcements.  The Red Army is actively trying to destroy the bridges used by the Blue Army to reinforce their bridgehead.  Before placing a reinforcement, the Blue player must roll a 1D6.  On a roll of “1” the scheduled unit will arrive on the following turn, instead of the current turn (IE Turn 10 instead of Turn 9).

Blue Deployment.  The Blue player must deploy one unit in each town when the game begins. 

The woods are impassable to all units.

Game Length & Turn Order: The game lasts 15 turns.  The Red player goes first in each turn.

Victory Conditions: The Blue Player wins by occupying both towns at the end of the game.

I plan on playing this game in a few days with Dave, using Martin Rapier's excellent Grant-Tactical One Hour Wargames variant.  If you decide to try this scenario, leave a comment and let me know how it went!  Suggestions for improvement are always welcome.

You can download the scenario here, and a link is available at the top right of the blog.