Wednesday, 20 August 2014

A Semi With A View

Getting the right type of 1970's house types for Winter of '79 has got easier. Kingsway Models have recently released two new OO scale cards kits that are perfect for the new estates that proliferated during the 1970's especially within 'New Towns'.

 SEMD Half relief Modern semi detached houses x2
 Great for filling the edge of your table

 SEMD Modern semi-detached houses (full version)

 My granddad lived in one of these 'New' houses after they bulldozed his Victorian terrace. As they were quite literally NEW the amount of conversion by residents was minimal. Gardens both front and back were uniform.Which means you don't have to mess around with flowers, kitchen gardens etc. The odd shed or clothese line would break this up and provide a more lived in feel. They could also back onto playing fields, more traditional sorts of shops or even a small industrial estate to add another dimension to the gaming table.


Monday, 18 August 2014

A Nice Little Detached in the Suburbs

The Dapol (formerly Airfix) Detached House is a classic. First released in 1956, it stands the test of time despite it's obviously dated appearance.

 Dapol 1/76 C27 Detached House
Cheap, Cheerful and Readily Available

When you see them painted up, they tend to look like the type of houses seen on Army estates. I've bought several of these for Winter of '79 games but I have to admit that I am struggling to use them as is. I will admit myself in advance that I'm being a bit precious here, but once assembled they simply don't fit the mental image I'm trying to create for my Winter of '79 suburbs.

Then I fell across this beaut of a kit bash on RMWeb. The very same Dapol model house but sympathetically converted into something more akin of my memory growing up in a house like this. I really take my hat off to the guy. Do check out the other photos in his gallery.


The thing to consider about these detached suburban houses over say classic Victorian terraces of the industrial heartlands is footprint. Together with gardens and leafy back alleys if you want to model them, you need far fewer buildings and have greater opportunity for manoeuvre and cover. Think of the scenes in Shawn of the Dead where they are making their way to the Winchester via the relative safety of the house backs.  By comparison the average 1/76 Victorian semi is only 6cm wide. That's a lot of red brick. Waltham Forest Council have produced an informative PDF on housing typologies found across their borough, whihc provides an excellent primer on C20th British housing in cities and suburbs.

Now, whilst that kit bashed Dapol house on RMWeb is perfect, it does need a lot of modelling to replicate.  I was umming and aahing about the effort required, when I came across this photo of a similar, if more down at heel house from the period. From this I figured that the the addition of a brick course, shingle roof over the front door porch and bay window could make a huge difference in the final look with far less work.

Then quite by chance I found the above Linka compatible Bay Window mould available from eBay seller Martin.Stancer. This arrived on Friday just gone. I've got plenty of Slaters OO scale (4mm) Brick embossed plastikard, so I'm going to give it a go. Will let you know how I get on.


Sunday, 17 August 2014

Do Not Adjust Your Set

You won't be surprised to hear that we needed a break from blogging over the past couple of months. The 'freedom' gained had the net result of allowing us to be creative and explore new ideas or try new wargaming memes such as the test game below of our new Victorian character based skirmish rules. Here Perry's new 1860s British Intervention Force are pitted against a mix of ACW and Foundry Filibusters as Fenian rebels.
Trouble in Canada....Assorted Fenians 
waiting to take on Victoria's boys

It doesn't take much to scratch the surface for Winter of '79 to reappear. We've had a lot of fun working on our own rule systems for Winter of '79 during our downtime.  Starting with a platoon level combat system aimed at several sub-units on each side, where my emphasis was on recreating the gritty feel of small unit actions in both urban and rural environments involving 1970's/early 80's British Army and rebel forces.

1979 Land Rover patrol on the streets

 Teasing out the 1970's vibe we couldn't help following an evolving path which branched out into a more character driven approach with factions of 4-16 figures with perhaps a vehicle or so on each side. In all honesty this was great fun to develop. The scope very naturally opened up to encompass everything from gangs on the terraces to hardened criminals vs the Sweeney, revolutionaries and rebels of every political shade and of course the forces of the civil powers and British Army. So we have two very different types of game to show for it but with so many popular published Cold War/Modern'rules on the market we thought we'd initially concentrate on giving you bags of 1970's character and we'll begin to blog some of our play test games over the coming weeks.


Saturday, 7 June 2014

Pegasus Bridge: AAR

Thursday evening, 5th June, Maff and I replayed the taking of Pegasus Bridge in 15mm. The game took place only a few hours short of when it had actually happened 70 years before. In truth, the game owed more to the classic scene in the film The Longest Day with Richard Todd playing Major John Howard, than to the history books but it was a great wargaming experience for all that!

The Pegasus mission was about 'dash' so I wanted to keep the game moving and decided that SWATTERS would fit the bill, especially as we have built up experience playing them.

The Ox&Bucks consisted of the compliment of Glider No.1 and Major Howard to make 20 figures in total:

Group 1: Lt Den Brotherridge & 3x Close Assault
Groups 2&3, 4x Rifle each
Group 4:  Bren team, 4x Support
Major John Howard, & 3x Close Assault/Sappers

The German defenders consisted of 3x MG42 positions (2x2 man, 1x3man),1x rifle and 1x SMG team (NCOs) .

Operation Deadstick as the mission was called, began with Maff texting me with the message "Casting Off". Onto Skype, I use my iPad to give Maff a pilots eye view of the glider coming into the objective. Crash..........

First blood to the Oxs & Bucks! The very first men out of Glider No.1 shoot the unsuspecting German sentry with the luckiest of long shots. Even luckier, the German garrison fail their activation rolls....obviously having trouble getting their jackboots on!

 The red berets begin pouring out of the glider 'Denny' Brotheridge in the lead group. His blood well and truly up Maff decides to take the bunker and bridge control building (doubling as main German bunker/HQ).

The lead Close Assault group manage to grenade and Sten the Germans manning the MG pit, but themselves including Denny Brotheridge are cut down as they make for the control building.

The following Ox & Bucks rifle group make short work of the Germans with some well placed grenades but this diversion has bought time for the defenders on the west bank to man their MG42s. One in an emplacment in front of Cafe Gondree, the other in the rear garden which could and did bring devastating enfildaing fire on the bridge.

 The second rifle group rushes the bridge but have two pinned and lose two men to withering MG42 fire from both German guns. Then the defenders dice run out of luck and with that run out of activations! Gott in Himmel!

Major John Howard (Richard Todd) is now on the scene. A quick order, a shed load of activations and the Ox & Bucks race across the bridge under covering fire from the Bren (Support) group who are nicely ensconced in the control bunker/tower!

Two more men fall to point blank German fire before Howard leads the final charge on the jerry MG42, grenading it into oblivion. Maff sends the code word "Ham and Jam", Benouville bridge is secure and goes into the history books as a cracking game!

Figures and terrain: 

Ox & Bucks are Peter Pig, Jerries are pre Flames of War, Battlefront panzergrenadiers. Pegasus Bridge is an MDF kit from Ed at Wargamestournaments (eBay seller), the Glider and Cafe Gondree are MDF kits from Warbases (the cafe has moulded plastic tiling added), barbed wire from GF9, and entrenchments SB_Minis (eBay seller). To add that retro 'authenticity' the terrain was very old school. A grass mat laid over books.

Note that I removed casulaties for the sake of clarity during the game. Had it been a face to face game, I would have left them in place for colour.

Final thoughts:

Loved it!  Two nights of painting and constructing terrain culminated in an exciting game that was touch and go. By delaying in getting boots across the bridge in the first rush, only poor activation dice rolls on behalf of the Germans saved Maff from failing to get take the west bank of the Caen Canal. Of the 20 Oxs & Bucks who started the game, just 12 remained when the "Ham and Jam" signal was given. Despite the fact I never finished the detailing on Cafe Gondree or managed to weather the bridge, it was all forgotten and never mattered an ounce during the game.

I'm sure Maff will appreciate a re-run sometime and it's a perfect scenario for solo play or the opening game of a mini campaign.


Friday, 6 June 2014

Pegasus Bridge

We rebooted our weekly gaming in style tonight with a fitting tribute to D-Day. Pegasus Bridge in 15mm using the core mechanisms from Swatters for a fast, furious and above all, fun game!

 Peter Pig airborne make a rush for the Duty Free

More abut the game later when I have some time off over the weekend, together with my thoughts on how choosing a pragmatic approach over 'realistic' allowed me to complete this project in just two nights with no  reduction in game quality.

At this point, let me say a big thank you to Bill at SB-Minis on eBay for helping me out at short notice with those defences. A great guy and recommended eBay shop!


Friday, 23 May 2014

Hong Kong Garden Takeaway

First off, apologies for the lack of pictures. The light is spectacularly poor tonight and my carefully taken photos look too horrible for words. Anyway, I'm not traditionally a fan of martial arts films - or martial arts in general. Concerned to head off any bullying in school my Dad did take me to scope out the local judo classes as a kid but it just looked to much like a PE lesson and I think he suspected that if I did use that kind of skill in school I'd be painted as the bad guy who couldn't control himself. As it was he passed on a few nuggets of wisdom he'd picked up in the RAF. My favourite was always get your head through a pullover as quick as you can so you're not blind, closely followed by the good old knee to the groin. His other advice - basic boxing tips - meant that when an older kid did once approach me aggressively, I went into a crouch, put my guard up and he looked at my as if I was a maniac and hoofed it. That's a long winded way of saying that I never really expected to play a game based on Kung fu.......but there you go. Last month I bought "A Fistfull of Kung Fu" by Ganesha Games and two boxes of Northstar figures (cops and yakuza), followed by some Foundry street violence SWAT. The figures had their first outing tonight - cops vs yakuza and then SWAT vs yakuza. My tendency is to be shooty and so there was a lot of running about and "hails of fire" and not much "crouching tiger, hidden wombat". The great fun is the reaction roll....stuff up your activation and the enemy protagonist can try for a free move for each of your missed activation rolls. That's how in game one, Det Sgt Chang leapt through a window and shot gunned a yakuza to win the game. The second game ended even more Hollywood. The SWAT team had failed to make any real impact but had managed to wound the yakuza boss.....his bodyguard fluffed three activations. Sgt Kylie (a Foundry street violence pack contains at least one female) rolled three successes to react. One hail of fire took out a bodyguard, a flying kick took out the second, leaving a clear LOS for the sniper onto the yakuza boss.....and he botched it too. The yakuza boss reacted, stood up and promptly botched an activation giving Kylie a chance to empty her compact H&K in his direction, down he went and the cuffs went on..... The fisticuffs are more decisive than the "gun fu" but the grunts in your gangs won't last long, your protagonist can usually take about 4 wounds - so they are tough but not invulnerable as a hail of bullets at close range is good for one wound as long as you roll high.....and the SWAT were all in body armour which helped a lot. Actually most of the yakuza were as well - that does explain the hint of a standoff that developed. I'm not sure if I'll go the whole Bruce Lee and buy martial artists in 28mm. I'm more inclined to a cyber-street-samurai kind of thing a la "Neuromancer". Still it is a fun set of rules and I'd say that if you are a fan of the genre then you really do need to get the rules, it's as simple as that. And a final bit of advice from Dad, once you've kneed them and they are gasping for breath, run like hell. Cheers Maff

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Winter of '79 on the Cheap

It's silly sale season.........and a good time to start your Winter of 79 / Cold War British.

Elhiem is having a 10% off Not Going to Salute Sale - this includes their BAOR and very nice COP5 set of  1970's British TV cops and vilains.

Meanwhle Hannants is clearing existing stocks of JB Models Cold War British kits for just £1.99, including the Saladin armoured car, Saracen APC and L118 105mm Field Gun.

And completely by chance, I found that HMV have bought much of Model Zone's old stock and selling it in store. I picked up this Corgi 1:72 Westland Wessex HU5 for just £14.99! These normally retail at around the £50 mark. Even Model Zone were selling it at £29.99 in the final days of their clearance before closing. Heather had tried to buy one of these for my birthday whilst Model Zone was still very much on the go and was just met with a wall of indifference. Result!

Best of luck finding your own bargains.