Saturday, May 30, 2020

Tretten in Flames, Norway 1940

British prepare to defend Tretten
Following up on my five trials of Tigers at Minsk (TaM), Scenario 2 - Follow the Elefants transported to 1940 France, I have been tinkering with transporting the game to 1940 Norway where my primary interest lays.

Wanting to add weapons into my earlier pure infantry Scenario 2 exercise, I looked for small theater-specific scenarios that might fit the bill.  Having found a number of Norway scenarios among the pages of ASL Journal #3, I narrowed my search down to ASL Scenario J37, Tretten in Flames

Norm, the author of TaM, was kind enough to rustle up some weapon statistics for this earlier period.  Included in the request were stats for Panzer II, 75mm IG, and a Hotchkiss H39.  While the Pz II and 75mm IG will see action, the H39 will take to the field another time.
Germans prepare to attack
Situation: 23APR1940
After a disastrous start to the campaign, the Anglo-Norwegian forces find themselves on the losing end of encounter after encounter.  The allies decide to make a stand at Tretten.  With Norwegian troops managing to extricate themselves from the situation before the German hammer falls, the British, now alone, are determined to make a last stand in Tretten.  Elements of the 1/5 Leicesters, HQ coy of 1/8 Foresters, and 148th BDE HQ prepare for the attack they know is coming.  The German  attack upon the town includes elements of the 196th Inf Div, 138th Gebirgsjager Rgt, one Infantry Gun, and a single PzIIa.

British: Morale Level = 5
7 x Rifle sections
2 x Rifles sections + LMG
1 x ATR

German: Morale Level = 8
9 x Rifle Sections
1 x Rifle section + LMG
1 x MMG
1 x 50mm Mortar
75mm IG and crew
2 x Gebirgsjager sections (with skis)
1 x Gebirgsjager sections + LMG (with skis)
1 x PzIIA

Notice that some of rifle sections carry an extra LMG.  In Squad Leader and ASL, squads are assumed to include the firepower of the squad-level LMG fire team.  TaM does the same.  With the extra firepower offered by these separate LMGs, I give these sections one additional D6 in firepower.  Stands with this extra firepower have an LMG stand attached.

Table Situation:
North is top.  British deploy first in the British Deployment Zone. Germans set up second in the German Deployment Zone and move first.  The German Gebirsjager start in the top right corner of the board.  The PzII enters at 1125 in the top right corner.
Snow is on the ground.  Deep snow is found on higher levels (L2 and L3).  Rules added for SNOW and DEEP SNOW Effects.
The IG may not change locations.
Gebirgsjagers are always in command.
Germans may make smoke.
Game begins at 1100 and ends at 1200.

Victory Conditions:
Germans win if controlling the two center BUAs and three of the five BUAs in the British Deployment Zone while sustaining no more than 50% stand losses (ending Morale Level greater than 0).

Are the victory conditions balanced?  We will see after I play a game or two.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Hittite Spearmen

Following in the recent tracks of the Hittite chariot, off the workbench is a fourteen figure stand of Hittite spearman.  Figure are from Wargames Foundry from their venerable Biblicals' range.  These represent the first Wargames Foundry Hittites to hit the painting desk.  The sculpting is good but I am finding a few mold lines on some of the models.  Nothing too bad but may be sign of age.  Still, very nice sculpting work and fun to paint.  While the Newline Designs' Hittites are chunkier, these Foundry Hittites are more svelte.  More to come.
On the gaming front, still no sign of face-to-face gaming yet.  Dipping my toe into remote gaming, I have taken command of an Austrian column at the battle of Quistello in 1734.   I am placed into the role of the dashing Prinz von Sachsen-Hildburghausen.  Not only can the Prinz issue orders to his column but also send orders and messages to other commanders.  The game will be played by a gentleman in Germany.  I believe he will implement orders as received to the best of his ability and provide updates to the battle.

One of the surprising aspects of this game is that my orders are translated into German and passed along to the other commanders. In turn, their orders are received as handwritten correspondences in German to me. Luckily, I also am provided a translation in English! An example of my English-to-German translated message to FML Suckow is shown below:
Now, if I only could read German!

For details on the scenario and to follow any battle updates, please visit, I hope we can crush the combined French/Piedmontese Armies!

Monday, May 25, 2020

The Hittites Are Coming!

Despite a setback of two, my 2020 goal to field a Hittite Army is beginning to show traction.  My goal made in early January was to start a Hittite Army in 28mm and finish the year with a dozen units.  A dozen units in the right mix ought to be sufficient to field enough force for either an Impetvs or To the Strongest! game.  
To lead the army off, the first unit out of the gate is a Hittite three-person chariot with a complement of three javelinmen.  All figures are from Newline Designs.  As expected from Newline Designs, the figures are robust and good, solid sculpts.  A little on the chunky side when compared against Wargames Foundry but the figures from the two manufacturers fit in well together.
A long line of Hittites are waiting in the wings, so expect to see a number of Hittite units parade into the photo booth over the next several weeks.  I may throw some other units into the light box for a photo shoot just to break up the monotony of a seemingly endless parade of Hittites.  As I put the finishing touches on two units of a dozen each javelinmen, the total count for the army to date climbs to nine.  Three more to go and I can check this goal off my To Do list. 

Friday, May 22, 2020

SYW Russian Artillery by Eureka

As suggested in my last post, Russian artillery did, indeed, make it off the painting desk and into the photo booth next.  Man of my word, you know.  The latest concentration on SYW (can two units be considered a concentration?) likely ends for now.  I have Hittites queuing up at the photo booth.  At last count, seven units are finished in my new Hittite army.  
Back to the Russian guns.  The guns and crew are from Eureka Miniatures.  Besides a stand of Russian commanders, these represent the first Russians painted from their SYW range of figures.  I have many, many Austrians and Prussians in the collection but have always been underwhelmed by the sculpting of the Russians.  The faces mostly seem deformed and many only a mother could love.   
What do I think of these figures after having seen them firsthand?  Well, Eureka's guns are always first rate in sculpting.  The artillerymen are ok.  Painted and on the table these fellows look much better than in the raw.  Will I paint more of the Eureka Russians?  I don't know.  I really enjoyed painting the Old Glory Russian infantry (sold by 19th Century Miniatures and not the Blue Moon Russians sold by Old Glory).  The Blue Moon Russian infantry and artillery look quite good.  I may pick up some artillerymen and another pair of Eureka artillery pieces and make a comparison. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Bavarian Kurprinz IR

Off the painting desk today is Battalion 1 of the Bavarian Kurprinz Infantry Regiment.  With 22 musketeers from Lancashire Miniatures and a mounted officer from Eureka Miniatures, this battalion presents a pleasing sight.  
The figures are actually drawn from Lancashire Austrian infantry but pressed into service as Bavarians.  With the large Austrian army contingent made up of Eureka figures, the Lancashire Austrians with their oversized tricorns provided enough distinction to set the Bavarians apart from the Austrians.  While I have yet to confirm, I ought to have enough of these figures left to field the second battalion.  On the gaming table, the Bavarians in their light blue coats will add some needed color to the white-coated Austrians. 
Next off the workbench will likely be two Russians guns for the SYW project.  For those having good recall, the two battles of Kunersdorf were short a few Russians batteries.  Those games required some Austrian batteries to be pressed into service to fill out the OOB.

Hittites are beginning to roll out from the painting desk and will begin making appearances shortly hereafter.  It may be a bit anachronistic or heresy but my Hittites will be marching out wielding iron weapons.  I faced a tough choice.  Do I field them carrying bright bronze weapons or iron weapons?  Since I wanted them to battle my Neo-Assyrians and later Egyptians, I issued them iron weapons.  I suppose the dull iron weapons could depict bronze weapons having a dark patina from oxidation.  That way, the Hittites could fight in late Bronze Age or early Iron Age battles without needing to field two armies.  Yeah, that is my story and I am sticking to it!       

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Unexpected Consequences of Remaining Home

With the pandemic in full swing and lockdowns almost universal, plans change.  We try to schedule international travel during the shoulder seasons which typically means either May or September.  Having traveled to Switzerland in both May 2017 and May 2018, a return trip was on the travel schedule for May 2020.  Given the current situation, this year's planned return trip to Switzerland in May was cancelled.  Really, no other option was possible.  Our flights into and out from Zurich were cancelled by the airline.

Primarily confined to quarters over the last two months, we enjoyed one unexpected pleasure.  Frequently traveling in May, the flowering of the trees is often missed.  Not this year.  At present, we are enjoying the vibrant cascade of pink blossoms adorning the two flowering crabapple trees in the back yard.  Also in full bloom are the two lilacs that are slowly taking over two corners of the yard.  The downside of enjoying the colorful backyard besides the obvious loss of a trip to Europe?  Nancy discovered that she may be allergic to all of the pollen.  
Flowering crabapples in bloom
As a reminder of what the pandemic has taken from us, below are a few photos from the 2017 trip onboard the GoldenPass rail line.  We made the journey following a two night's stay in Lausanne on the shore of Lake Geneva to Zurich winding our way through the Alps.  Once this virus runs its course, perhaps we can return?

To add in a little military and wargaming content, a quick stop at the Swiss National Museum in Zurich brought forth the following highlights:
Pikeman with grounded pike
Although the Battle of Murten diorama is huge and quite impressive in person, the glare given off by photographing through the protective case prevents a quality shot.  The pike block in the photo below is HUGE! 
Battle of Murten, 1476
Battle of Murten, 1476

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Bring Up the Guns

After pumping out nearly 25 units for the 1859 project in 2019, this project has not seen much activity at the painting desk in 2020.  Besides the four artillery pieces and crew mustering out today, only two battalions of Austrian infantry have emerged from the production line in 2020.  Why the dearth of units for the 1859 project?  Perhaps I have enough combatants to call to arms for the size of game I envision?  Perhaps other projects have bubbled up higher into the painting queue?  Perhaps I simply have lost focus? 
Whatever the real reason for little activity in the 2020, the project sees a small addition with the bringing up of four guns and crew.  Two guns join the French army and two guns move out to join the Sardinian army.  Guns are Freikorps 15s' pieces.  The artillerymen are Lancashire Games.
While two French 36-figure regiments are waiting their turn in the painting queue, many other units will see a slap of paint before the Frenchmen see any work.  The queue is long but the toys are patient.  The painting desk likely will see a return to the 18mm SYW project.  One battalion of Bavarian infantry and two Russian guns are in work and will muster out soon.

After the SYW units take front and center at the photo booth, the first arrivals of a planned Hittite army will emerge from the workbench.  My 2020 goal included beginning a Hittite army and completing a dozen BMUs before year-end.  We will see how I do.  My confidence is high. 

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Samurai Cavalry in 15mm

As suggested in the last post, two BMUs of Samurai cavalry trot off the painting desk.  Also, as before, figures are from Peter Pig.  With their various banners and armor, these Samurai horsemen offer up a lot of color.  With the mustering of two cavalry stands, total Samurai cavalry for the project reaches seven.  Hmm. The Seven Samurai.  Enough figures remain to field two more such stands.
The red bead cube on the right rear of the stand serves two purposes.  One, at a glance it identifies the unit as a "Heavy" unit in terms of Samurai Battles.  Two, it allows the placement of a unifying, clan banner when assembling a force from various clans into one cohesive army.  In the heat and confusion of battle, it is easy to overlook which unit belongs to which army when both armies may carry banners from similar or the same clans.

What is up next out from the workbench?  A return to the 1859 project looks to make it to the photo booth first.  This will be a brief return to the project with two guns each of Sardinian and French origin.  Two more regiments of French infantry are in the painting queue but it may be a long time before those see the brush.  Many other units are working their way through the production line ahead of them.  Actually beginning to show some progress on a Hittite Army in 25mm that I pledged as a goal for 2020.  

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Ashigaru Teppo in 15mm

Seems like I am jumping all over the place with respect to many projects seeing action at the painting desk.  That perception is true.  However, today I muster out the first of three units for the Samurai Battles project.  First off the work desk is a 19-figure stand of teppo.  As always, figures for this project are from Peter Pig.  Excellent sculpts and a joy to paint. 
In an attempt to clean up The Lead Pile, I have been toiling through the boxes to see if some boxes can be better organized and consolidated.  Among the stacks of boxes and bags of figures, I uncovered two orders from Peter Pig containing Feudal Japanese.  Those bags had filtered down into parts almost unknown and certainly almost forgotten.  Quite fun to find lost treasures!  Both orders were relatively new orders picked up from recent sales.  Sorting through the bags of figures, enough figures were found to form one unit of Ashigaru teppo, one unit of Ashigaru spearmen, and four units of Samurai mounted cavalry.  
While the teppo form up and march out today, two of the Samurai cavalry units are finished.  A third cavalry unit is in work.  Expect to see the first two Samurai cavalry up next in the photo booth.  Nearing almost six years since the collection was out on the parade ground (see: Samurai Battles Project in Review), a display highlighting all of the work completed, thus far, seems a good idea.  I wonder to what extent the project has grown in the intervening six years.  I may be surprised.   Hopefully, pleasantly. 

Monday, May 4, 2020

75mm German IG in 15mm

Having recently completed a BTD German infantry gun and crew in 25mm (See Distractions), I pushed a 15mm Peter Pig German IG into the painting queue.  This little piece jumped ahead of a long line of figures awaiting a slap of paint.  The gun and crew found themselves, suddenly, at the front of the line.
Why the upset in the painting queue?  Well, I have been pondering Norm's Tigers at Minsk (TaM) rules after playing several games of late.  With the rules still relatively fresh in mind, I am interested in giving the rules another run-out before my memory fades.  Following the multiple playings of the introductory scenario, I am ready to try something different.  Different in the sense of presenting a different tactical problem and in introducing armor, infantry guns, and anti-tank weapons in the form of an AT rifle.  Not having any of the mid-war Eastern Front ToE, thoughts have centered on Norway, 1940.

Finding a likely candidate scenario in an old ASL Journal, work begins to convert the situation into one suitable for TaM.  The first scenario under investigation is primarily infantry only with the Germans having an infantry gun and a Panzer II showing up later to bolster the German attack.  Being set in Norway in late April 1940, maneuvering through snow with ski troops with come into play.  

While early war armor and weapons are not included in the original TaM, Norm was kind enough to provide stats for the PZII, H-39, and an infantry gun.  In addition to the IG coming off the painting table, work progresses on fielding some early war armor.  Off the workbench are a few each of PZIIs, H-39s, and Panhards.  All vehicles are 15mm Command Decision models from Old Glory with the exception of one H-39.  That exception is a Peter Pig piece.

Scenario development may take time as forces and timelines are modified to provide a competitive game and new rules are introduced.  How many playtests are needed to get everything in proper working order?  This is a question for which I have no answer.  Once the situation and forces have been stabilized, three complete playings ought to provide a respectable baseline.  More details to follow once the scenario sees further development.

Until then, expect more work from the painting desk.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Seasonality in Painting Production 2020

No, these graphs are not from my latest EKG. 

The four-panel graphs above illustrate the seasonal cycle and trend decomposition of my painting production measured back to 1996.  What?  Who tracks such mundane statistics?  Well, I do.  Having maintained a Painting Log since 1996, I amassed quite a large database and houseful of painted figures over the last 25 years.  The counts keep climbing with no end in sight.

When I last examined my painting seasonality in 2014, I was curious to see if there was a relationship between time of year and painting output.  There was a relationship.  Looking at the seasonality graph from 2014 (see below), fourth quarter seems to be my most productive period.  August shows a resurgence of activity too.  Rather than actual figure count, Adjusted Painting Points are summarized.  Adjusted Painting Points are based on the Analog Hobbies Points Scoring System. 
Monthly seasonal tendencies 1996-2014
Have my painting tendencies changed if five more years of data are added into the seasonal analysis?  Yes, seasonal tendencies have changed.  Painting output in May, August, and October have fallen in relative terms from the 2014 analysis while September, November, and December have increased.  The October through December remains my most productive period.  December output is almost off the charts.

Notice that the seasonality exhibits a sawtooth pattern.  That is, every up month is followed by a down month.  Does a good month at the painting desk tend to lead to backing off of production in the next month?  The data suggest that but it could also be due to timing.  Sometimes, I just don't quite finish off a unit before month end.  That unit then is finished off early in the following month, perhaps, inflating the next month's painting tally. 
Monthly seasonal tendencies 1996-2019
These seasonal pattern changes make sense.  May has seen regular two week vacations over the last five years (not this year!).  November and December has seen less guest traffic over the Winter Break so more time spent at the painting desk.  More or less, I remain a creature of habit.

What about changes to Total Painting Points over the last 25 years?  The data suggests my output made a leap in about 2006.  Since then, production has remained relatively stable averaging between 300-400 painting points per month.
Total Painting Points and Trend, 1996-2020 YTD
Do other figure painters in the northern hemisphere experience a similar painting tendency?  With the exception of Christmas holiday season, do painters in the southern hemisphere see their seasonal tendencies as a reflection of northern hemisphere painters?  That is, seasonal lows in earlier spring?

Next off the painting desk will see a return to Feudal Japan and some WWII vehicles in 15mm.  Also, expect to see a WWII 15mm German infantry gun for a planned scenario.