Sunday 17 March 2013

A Very Craggy Civil War

 As Father Ted Crilly might say "You can't put down a good revolution"

The Craggy Flying Column was formed three days before the British withdrew from Dublin. When the news of the War of Independence reached Craggy Island, the Column split between Free Staters and Bitter Enders.

The Free Staters lost to the Bitter Enders after a vicious fight with Hurley sticks at St Kevin's Turnip.  Weapons arrived on the island a month later when the MV Artizan with a cargo of firearms destined for the IRA Tipperary Brigade,  including a number of Tommy Guns, was abandoned in a storm and run aground. The ammunition was lost though, and has to be manufactured locally from empty jam tins and tuna cans.

Enough arms were found for every man woman and child on Craggy Island and so newly equipped, the Flying Column declared war on the Craggy Garda. Off duty the Column drank in the snug of the Craggy Hotel while the Garda propped up the bar. The lads of the column are well disposed to Father Ted Crilly who they see as a like minded rebel and will often turn out to help him in a crisis.

The Free Staters on Craggy Island leaned to communism following the arrival of Rosa Leichtenstein, a German emigre and 'lovely girl' who worked behind the bar at Vaughans. Calling themselves after the Spartacists the lads invited Ted to join to poke one in the eye of the Flying Column. Ted accepted believing them to be a football team, having visions of scoring winning goals and being picked up by a talent scout for a big club in England.

Some of the arms from the MV Artizan together with blue uniforms destined for the Free State Prison Service washed ashore on neighbouring Rugged Island. Father Dick Byrnes, supported by Bishop Brennan fell on this opportunity to form the Papal Legion as the armed branch of the church in order to counter the moral slide he believed was happening on Craggy Island and elsewhere.

The spark......St Declan's Day just before St Patrick's Day and just after St Finbar's Day, the shop steward of the Craggy Postal Workers Union suspects that donations to the Church are being launderated in a post office account belonging to a local priest. He immediately denounces the Pope, declares a Trotskyist State and leads the Postal Workers to man the barricades.

Father Ted Crilly on hearing of the trouble, fearing for the funds resting in his account, hopes to smooth the waters and so leads the Spartacists from Vaughans to the Post Office on the pretext of challenging the postal workers to a "jolly old football match".... only Father, now also Commandant Byrne, has heard that Ted is leading an evil socialist putsch and has dispatched a column of the Papal Legion to Craggy Island..... A Very Craggy Civil War is about to become a footnote in dusty history books.

Perhaps because of my heritage I do have a hankering for the Irish Civil War. Perhaps because we both like the figures by Musketeer, but one inspired Wednesday evening letting off steam about work, we came up with the idea of a setting on the fictional Craggy Island of Father Ted fame. Then using this as a non too serious background for irreverent Interwar, Pulp and Call of Cthulu games. Yes, Father Ted Cthulu! Well the whole sleepy English village thing is done to death.  The Craggy setting allows us to create madcap factions using our favourite figures and rustle up a game or two in an evening with little to no effort.

So what's this got to do with Winter of '79. On the face of it nothing, but you know, just doing something instant, madcap and off the wall can lead to a change in perspective. Same is true of wargaming. It could have been Craggy Island it could have been Dublin or the streets of Moseley's London. I've recognised that I'm taking Winter of '79 too seriously again and the freedom with which we've put together factions, thrown figures on the table and started rolling the dice with A Very Craggy Civil War is something that I should be doing with Winter of '79.

I know many of you love the narrative approach, but there's definitely room for both. As a result of Wednesday's Very Craggy Civil Wargames I have some fresh ideas. Watch this space.


Thursday 14 March 2013

No Fecking Pasaran!

A Very Craggy Civil War kicks of this week with three linked skirmishes utilising USE ME: An Eldritch Horror as the base rules for the games.

Communist Postal Workers denounce Pope Pius XI
and take hold of the Craggy Post Office. Careful now!

 Commandant Brennan eager to put down that sort of thing
is ambushed by the Craggy Flying Column.

 Outside Ireland's largest lingerie department, Papal Legionnaires
battle Ted and the Spartacist League during what has become known as 
the Post Office (it was only resting in my post office book) Putsch.

Mark & Maff

Saturday 9 March 2013

Berliner '45 Kampf

I wonder if my affinity with urban combat started as a kid, playing in the back streets and alleyways of suburban London?

Or was it sparked through discovering the artwork on wonderfully exotic models like this Fujimi Hetzer, which was completely outise the narrow horizons of world of war 2 with Airfix as popularised by Don Featherstone.

Of course this is way back, when John Saunders was making the 8th Army trucks out of cardboard and tar - queue the Hovis music...... but before I go off on a rambling reminisce about Charles Grant and Battle - Practical Wargaming (I still have my original copy from 1970), let's talk about gaming Berlin.

I need a starting point, so I bought this..............

eBay purchase. Seller's photo

....more pictures here: Model Buildings by MOD. Now this is a building worth storming! This commits me to the project. Once the building arrives I can start planning the board though I have some initial ideas based on the layout in the Red Square Mission (M15) in the original Ghost Recon xBox game.

So, with the Ministry of Ersatz Production bought, I started going through my boxes and found some goodies that are perfect for Berlin 45 'Airfix' style. Lot's of little zip bags of left overs or spares, and odd figures kept turning up. For instance, 12 first edition Battlefront Russian riflemen. Beautiful models in very human combat poses. Given Milliput capes they'll be ideal. A bag of Peter Pig German Tank Hunters in cap. These are slightly smaller and thinner than the other German figures, painted in black they will become my nominal Hitler Youth force. A bag of first edition Battlefront Late War German 'discards' who may now find themselves becoming Volksturm, party officials or similar local defence forces/alert units etc with the odd headswop and/or Milliput greatcoat. And so on. Then result, an unopened Sdkfz251/22 with 75mm PAK!

Maff and I have agreed to continue using the Flames of War small bases, each with 2-3 15mm figures. This proved successful with the Axis and Allies Miniatures rules and in the case of Berlin 45, will enhance the look, be practical on the urban tabletop and also allow us to create fun little character bases, mixing and matching as we see fit from any odds and sods we find. Above all, I think it will help maintain the necessary sense of fun that's important to us.



Friday 8 March 2013

SITREP: Der Untergang

Won these new RH Models' UrbmeltsquT armed civvies in 44 pattern British helmet on eBay (seller's photo). A welcome boost to my Winter of '79 forces.

So much for my optimism back in Feb. Our gaming plans for Feb and March have been put on hold as Heather's been in and out of hospital. In between I've been working long hours at work to make up time off to look after her and I don't see things getting any better till the end of March. Especially with an internal audit in the offing.

Nevertheless, stopped by Homebase on Sunday and whilst there, picked up a 60x90cm 6mm MDF sheet. The idea being to create a double-sided urban, inner city terraced housing themed gaming board with different street layouts.

I also bought some paint for roads and general urban duties. Browsing some model railway forums I found 'chalkboard' and 'velvet' paint recommended for painting roads. When I saw the price of the tins of these I looked for something cheaper and found two tester tins of Crown VINTAGE Matt Emulsion, Film Noir (a dark charcoal for the base colour) and Fade to Grey (a grey suitable for drybrushing the asphalt and general urban greyiness), at £3 something each. Done!

The buildings themselves are going to be simple printed models rather than Metcalfe, which I still find too twee or ScaleScenes, too complicated. The buildings will sit on 'paved' templates to allow a small amount of variation. I'm using masking tape to plan the road system and trying out different combinations to come up with as visually interesting yet tactically challenging road network as possible.  I don't plan to do 'backies', just blocks of terraces, a pub, garage, lockups and a few corner shops. This is because I prefer the idea of running actions along the streets rather than fighting for Jack and Vera's outside privy.

Continuing the urban theme, we've decided on Berlin '45  in 15mm as our 'do-able' big project this year. I'm currently thinking of an Infantry Aces style mini campaign over a 'boys ownly' wargaming weekend in a Call of Duty: World at War meets Downfall maelstrom interspersed with Winter of 79, Falklands, Normandy, RCW and Sci Fi games. And who knows, maybe I can spring some Undertoten action on Maff as well.

old photo of my 15mm Nazi Undertoten when WIP.

Once again, I'm looking at a 60x90cm baseboard for Berlin. Let's keep things in proportion.  To paraphrase Maff, "How many times can you storm the Reichstag?" So, we are looking at an Airfix approach - one of this one of that - a King Tiger here, a Jagdpanzer there, rather than hordes of late war armour clogging the streets. My own Soviets will remain based around T34/85s and M4 76mm 'Emcha' Shermans plus the odd SU thingy rather than the IS-2 and JSUs.

Going through my stuff, I've found almost all the infantry and support weapons I need. Peter Pig Russians in greatcoats, Battlefront Engineer-Sappers and a nice mixed bag of Late War German odds and sods. I have a couple of late war Panzers lurking around unused and unlike our foundered attempt to replay the Falklands in 20mm or even 10mm this time last year, everything is either to hand or readily available and most definitely not reliant on casting schedules.

BTW, the armed civvies in 44 pattern British helmet arrived this morning. Really, really nice minis. Rolf has really captured the look of the netted and scrimmed 44 (MkIV/V) helmet. Recommended.