Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Building A 1/56 VSF Steam Driven Flying Fighting Contraption Thingee

Well what to do over the Christmas break? What else but build a 1/56 VSF 'Steam Driven' Armoured Aeronautical Conveyance. In keeping with my other VSF equipment I stuck with steam power rather than more advanced technologies for my inspiration. So my ‘flyer’ will be steam driven with propellers doing all the work!

I considered powering all the propellers with micro electric motors as they are readily available and cheap plus a friend Stu offered his electrical prowess to help! But I decided to go ahead without that option. But the lower plate is not glued and all the propellers are just pressed into place so in the future I may revisit this decision.

For weight reasons I figured a minimum of any VSF steam powered flying machines hull would be metallic (aluminium was available at the time but very expensive) so while keeping my design for this in the same theme as my land vehicles I decided there would be a 'metal' frame but 'lighter' timber panelling would make up a lot of the hull. Anyway here's the frame made with 1.5mm styrene sheet for all the flat surfaces and with a 0.5mm styrene pieces curved around the front:

Some washers were used for the front viewing ports and one of my Perry plastic ACW infantry figures made the great sacrifice to become a kepi wearing pilot, side brackets were built for the overhead propellers:

Rivets were added, the bane of my VSF model building: the top of a shampoo bottle became the lower turret and the end of a broken 1/6 MG34 became the sole gun carried:

The rear propeller is from an old PC power supply unit and the lift propllers are Lego ones. 'Wooden' side panels were cut and all the parts were prepared for painting and assembling:

The finished product, I initially went with a full aluminium finish (B29 like) but it just didn’t look right so I went with the drab grey used on the VSF Landships I have created with a couple of shiny embellishments. When I look at it finished the gondola of a Zeppelin springs to mind! I have included an Ironclad 28mm VSF figure so you can gauge the size of the Armoured Aeronautical Conveyance:

Now I just need to make a base for this! Now where's that old radio antenna?

Next time - one of those outstanding AARs or model making stuff, maybe even some historical blurb concerning the Armoured Aeronautical Conveyance? So much to do so little time!

Saturday, 26 December 2015

FUBAR VSF Rules & Landship Updates

A warning this post should be subtitled “Uh Oh I feel yet another ramble on rules coming up”!

Boxing Day is one of my few ‘me’ days in any year, beer, cricket and miniatures! Since the Cricket is far from riveting this year I spent extra time solo gaming with the TV on in the background! Coopers 62 was the beer of choice for the day...

Okay so I am really happy to use the tweaked FUBAR VSF rules for my VSF games but they don’t have the depth I am looking for to cover the use of my Super Heavy Ironclads i.e. Landships. I want these super vehicles to be a big step up on the regular Armoured Steam Wagons so I have put the below in place for when they are in use. These updates allow for the fact the Landships have larger elite crews, heavier armour and better compartmentation leading to a much higher level of survivability on the fast paced VSF battlefield.

The standard Breakdown, Damage and Catastrophe Table are used for hits on Landships but with the following updates: 
  • Any Crew Hit Result is treated as:
  • Roll 1D6 and on a 2,3,4,5,6 at crewman is hit
  • After the THIRD Steering Broken result the Landship’s steering is broken
  • After the THIRD Immobilised result the Landship is Immobilised
  • After the FIRST vehicle wrecked destroyed etc result randomly select a main battery turret or full side of secondary weapons that is ‘out of action’
  • After the SECOND vehicle wrecked destroyed etc result randomly select a main battery turret or full side of secondary weapons that is ‘out of action’ or maximum speed is reduced to half
  • After the THIRD vehicle wrecked destroyed etc result the Landship is destroyed
  • Note a roll of Six on the Damage Table followed by a roll of Six on the catastrophe table destroys any Landship it’s considered a critical hit!
Also I have included the following clarifications into the rules concerning vehicles in my set of FUBAR VSF rules: 
  • A vehicle that is armed with weapons that require reloading actions can carry out the reload actions (of any number of guns as long as there is enough crew available) while moving in a straight line at anything up to half speed
  • A vehicle that is has ‘malfunctioned’ weapons can attempt an Activation Level roll per turn per malfunction (as long as there is enough crew available) to repair said weapons while moving in a straight line at anything up to half speed.
I’ve run a couple of test games today with the above rules in place and they worked out great! But with more 'plays' you never know I may need to tweak them if they don't satify the rwquirements and fit in with the rest of the rules.
Well that’s it with adapting the FUBAR VSF rules…that is until I get that first heavier than air armed conveyance completed (did I just type that!)…

Here's a picture from one of my Landship games today, the Imperial Russian Landship Borodino cruises majestically past the shatter hulks of a couple of British Armoured Steam Wagons in the foreground...
Next Time some solo AAR stuff and what I spent my Christmas money on...

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

The Affair at Broomhandle on Sea AAR

Well managed to get together with Dave and Stu for a Christmas FUBAR VSF game! I put together a scenario with a ‘Mystery Christmas theme’ which they would play while I umpired being most familiar with the rules. By the end of the night I rued the decision to umpire as I would have much preferred to have played…anyway a good time was had and many beverages were consumed in honour of the season!

A picture taken toward the end of the battle on the actual day from just behind the British battle line by a freelance photographer travelling with the British forces…

The Affair at The Broomhandle on Sea Crossroads


Date: December 21st 1877

Location: Broomhandle on Sea Kent England

Just before Christmas 1877 to the north of Brommhandle on Sea at a small crossroad a British supply unit successfully relocated as their commander feared they’d be overrun by the beastly Hun but unbeknownst to him a vital crate of supplies required by GHQ was left at the crossroads in their haste! Immediately forces under the command of General Sir Blythe-Barrington-Blythe were sent to recover it! Unfortunately the British did not know that Lieutenant Carruthers of the nearby 14th Tower Depot Battalion had been captured by the nasty Germans of the 8th Imperial Steam Panzer Division and he spilled the beans to his interrogators as to the position and nature of the vital crate. The ‘Box Heads’ High Command ordered one of their ablest officers Grand Marshal Von Lardindork to deploy his troops to get the crate urgently.

The stage is set…

General Sir Blythe-Barrington-Blythe
14th Coal Powered Hussars Rgt (dual turreted scouting ASW)
2nd Motorised Dragoons Rgt (single turreted ASW)
3rd Heavy Galvanic Infantry Rgt
22d SAS (Superior Armoured Steamers) Automaton Coy

Grand Marshal Von Lardindork
4th Prussian Steam Grenadier Rgt
8th Steam Panzer Rgt
Automaton Detachment Kempf

Scenario Rules:

Game length is 12 Turns

The side with the special cargo crate closest to their edge of the play area after 12 turns wins

All units have activation turn one but both sides alternate one unit at a time

A unit must be unbroken and adjacent to the crate for a turn before they the can move with it at half speed

All but two figures of a unit carrying the crate can fire (move will be half of 6 inches)

If a unit breaks, suffers any suppression or becomes involved in melee while carrying the crate it is dropped and must be picked up again

The Game:

The British got off to a good start immobilising one of the German Armoured Steam Wagons in turn 1, it was of course their best one and it functioned as a pillbox for the rest of the game.

During the next 3 turns both sides infantry raced forward to secure the vital supply crate while the Armoured Wagons duked it out. The Germans got the worse of this duel but this was because they split their fire between the British infantry and vehicles whereas the Brits concentrated on just the Germans Armoured Wagons. It did come back to haunt the British later in the game when they would run low on foot sloggers to cart the rate around!

Turn 5 saw the crate move for the first time and it was toward the British edge of the board!

The brave section carrying it then took a single hit from the approaching German infantry and after losing just one man they broke and fled dropping the crate!

Unluckily for the Germans poor activation rolling on the next few turns prevented them getting to the crate and a second British section took up the cudgels and under covering fire from the vehicles they continued to move the vital supplies toward their board edge!

Then too late to affect the outcome of the game the Germans left flank unit at last started to move into action and the lone immobilised German vehicle took out two British ones and broke the infantry section currently toting the crate, it was on the ground again with only a handful of British foot soldiers still around to retrieve it.

But time was running out and with the crate beyond the reach of the Germans and in the tenuous hold of a few British Sailors turn 12 ended.

A great and costly victory to Queen Victoria’s glorious ‘boys in red’!!!

Oh and the Christmas connection well it was in the crate...did you guess it? Yes a Christmas tree...okay I know it's tenuous but both sides GHQs were desperate for a tree for the officers mess, you can't have them missing out at Christmas time without decorations as they enjoy a good roast and red regardless of the number of troops it may cost!

The two forces face off before the start...Queen Vic's boys are in the foreground the evil Kaiser Bills minions are in the distance!

Turn 4 and the British are first to the crate and prepare to drag it off!

And on the next turn they promptly rout after losing a single figure...note the Monty Python hand of God helped them flee!

More Brits continue to drag the crate away under the cover of an Automaton section as the German infantry presses forward

The final stages of the battle from the German point of view the British infantry have been hammered but they still have two Armoured Wagons supporting their efforts...note the British commander has drained both his beer and wine glasses just visible at the top centre of the picture!

The final stages of the battle from the British point of view the German infantry have overrun the abandoned supply depot but are being decimated by the British vehicles...the section to the left of picture coming down the hill failed 5 activations which was crucial...note the German commander has eaten all his crisps and is washing them down with a drop of Jim Beam, Dan Murphy's was out of Schnapps!

Interestingly during the game the question of whether all units should be able to activate each turn was raised. Actually on a couple of occasions! There was a suggestion you roll rounds of activation alternatively until every unit has a 'go'. Now I'm not too thrilled with that idea and it negates the effects of failing an activation roll completely out of the game! But as one unit failed its 50/50 roll chance five turns in a row I could understand the request! To me that was unusually bad luck but you can’t rule out that such poor die rolling can ruin  a game. I’m wondering if we implement an 'emergency’ or ‘special’ activation roll, allow it once a turn, once a game or as per scenario rules. This would allow one unit the chance to try to activate a second time in a turn (even if it had already activated successfully) but at risk of a big penalty if it fails. So let's say you have a chance to win the game or plug a hole in the line do you risk the roll...the penalty would have to be severe, i.e. the unit breaks if unsuccessful, it doesn't have an activation attempt next turn, takes full suppression etc. Please let me know your thoughts it's something I may give a test run....
Next time...something riveting that you'll not want to miss! Yeah right!

Sunday, 20 December 2015

The Landship Arms Race Heats Up!

Since the HMLS Dreadnought was built countries around the world began to think that a nation's strength and prowess would be recognised by the number and type of landships their military forces wielded and so the Landship Arms Race heated up...

When an unclear photograph featuring an image of a menacing looking fighting machine reached the London office of the Head of the British SOE (Stealthy Overseas Executive) on a gloomy winters day in January 1877 a great deal of excitement ensued. The SOE's most audacious field operative Edward Bigger had supplied a solitary picture taken at great risk to himself along with a report on what appeared appeared to be the Americans first successful attempt to create a super heavy ironclad i.e. a Landship! He had been given the assignment of monitoring the United States of America's arms industry after the launch of the British Landship HMLS Dreadnought in September 1876. He had diligently followed up his orders and they lead him to a secret American base located deep in the heart of the Virginian forests.

The boffins of SOE's Q Division poured over the sole photograph and were alarmed that it featured the obscured outline of what appeared to be a fearsome fighting machine. They issued a classified memorandum to the members of the highest circles of the British Government including a full assessment of what they believed they were looking at. They guessed the vehicle was powered by the new generation of American super high pressure compact steam turbine propulsion units that they knew were being tested by the Cincinnati Steam Engine Company who were trumpeting its power and reliability. Therefore they assumed this Landship was fast and from the look of the picture heavily armed with all 'big guns' as they could not identify a single rapid fire small calibre machine gun in the picture. They also assumed the armour plating was lighter than its British and European counterparts.

After assessing the news and informing her most Royal Majesty an urgent coded message was dispatched to Operative Bigger via the new-fangled Marconi wireless to get more information on this development as quickly as possible with no regards for his own safety!

The photograph of the supposed American Landship taken by SOE operative Edward Bigger in the depths of the Virginian forests. It’s of note that Bigger requested from the Q Division of SOE a 'ladys disguise' as he wished to conceal his photographic accruements in the bulges of the said disguise, unfortunately they sent the wrong travelling trunk and he found himself again disguised a German Sauerkraut vendor but this time in the woods of Virginia USA. However being the consummate spy Bigger pulled off the guise without the slightest hiccup!

Next time...who knows, maybe a Christmas message! But I'm hoping to slip a 'Christmas themed' VSF game in before the 25th!

Monday, 7 December 2015

FUBAR VSF Rules...Yep Another 'Rant on Rules'

When I decided to start playing some 28mm VSF skirmish games I needed a set of rules, a search of the net revealed a few that fitted the bill but on seeing that a FUBAR set was available I went straight for them as I have used their WW II rules previously. Right I think it's time for another ‘Ramble of Rules’...

FUBAR are a series of small unit game rule sets with a generic core system that covered the basics with extra rules to flesh these out depending on the era/genre of game they cover/represent.

So in a nut shell what do I think of FUBAR VSF, basically marvellous! And I'll just throw in here I have no connections to these rules or their authors!

Here's a two page set of rules that provides players with quick, fun and enjoyable game, lovely to have rules where there's no great tome to get bogged down in checking out minute details. This is not to say these are a perfect rules set far from it, there are some gaps you could probably drive a rather large Mack truck through BUT these gaps are all covered by the all-encompassing 'Rule of AWESOMENESS'. This rule resolves any disputes that occur simply, it states: "Where a situation is not covered or vague, err on the side of the Rule of Awesome.”. Bingo! Now any two reasonable gamers can quickly resolve any odd situation that may arise and get back to the manning the thin red line pronto!

I have now played several solo games with these rules and three face to face ones to get to know them and customise them to my needs. All of these games were very enjoyable and enlightening as to where the rules really work and where they miss the target (small list here!).

Basically the driving force behind these rules are the units classification ratings; activation, Experience and Suppression. These ratings control how units perform. The rest of the rules are along the lines of most others: both players roll for initiative for the turn, all units get one chance to activate in said turn, there are a selection of movement options, for firing roll to hit with a few modifiers and then roll saving throws then take the hits as suppression or kills, for close combat roll to hit with hits killing and morale is very simple test when you have casualties and you keep running until you roll a successful activation for the unit. All of this fun and you only need a few six sided dice to enjoy it.

Okay if you've got the above ideas nailed you now know how to play the game, well almost as there is a bit more meat on the bone!

A units Activation number is what you must roll equal or greater than to allow your unit to perform an action having a large number of green or conscript units will lead to a boring game as they're hard to get moving! It is also your rally number so activating a running unit rallies it. The side with the initiative can continue to activate units until one fails, then the other side gets to activate units until one of theirs fail and so it goes back and forth until every unit gets one chance to activate in the turn.

Your experience level is what you must roll equal or greater than to allow your unit to score hits in fire and close combat again there are modifiers. Different weapons roll different numbers of to hit dice.

Suppression allows you to mitigate the number of hits that kills men in your units, the Suppression rating is the maximum of suppressed figures that unit is allowed before any other successful hits must be kills, the trade-off is by saving the kills and adding suppression to your unit each suppression counts as a negative modifier to your units activation roll next turn (very bad!). You can take a mix of suppression and kills to satisfy the numbers of successful hits scored on a unit.

Morale rolls occur when casualties are taken and a roll is compared to the units activation number a failure on the roll and they start running, an activation roll occurs each turn there after until they rally or run from the tabletop.

The two big changes (house rules) that I have come up with from play so far that should affect play are:
  1. Unit suppression, once a unit that say activates on 4+ gets its allotment of two suppressed figures without a leadership modifier it will only activate on a six not good odds! In one FtF scenario test I had a German squad sat out the entire game without firing thanks to its inability to roll a 6 to activate. Time for a house rule, the simple change is every time a suppressed unit roles unsuccessfully for activation it removes one suppression marker making it one easier to activate next turn and this is repeated each turn. This gives a unit a good chance of getting back into the game, and if the opposition want they can ‘hose’ the unit again in one of their units activations to try to inflict more suppression back on it!
  2. Ranged fire has no increments or range bands within any weapons given ranges, great for a simple game but it means a game can become a firefight with long range weapons sitting back and hammering away as there is no incentive for them to get closer (and into the range of the opponent’s shorter ranged weapons). Now we want to keep things simple but I think a change is required and what I am going to go with for 'highlighted' weapons on the Weapons Chart firing over half range incurs a -1 modifier to hit. Nice and simple and means units armed long ranged weapons can still sit back and blaze away but a little less effectively than if they close in.
The way our ‘wacky’ Victorian era armoured vehicles and robots is controlled by the rules conforms with the simple constructs of how the foot soldiers are handled and has lots of fun variables with breakdown and malfunction tables in addition to the damage one. Here too you can customise to your hearts delight!

The rules also feature a section on characters/heroes but I'm holding off on incorporating them in play until the basics are mastered!
I am actually still looking at other sets of rules for VSF skirmishing for two reasons, I like reading rules (I like others have a collection of rule books many I don’t use nor ever will!) and I am always interested in ideas that may help improve my FUBAR VSF experience.
I am not saying these rules are for everyone but for my purposes the make what is really a fantasy genre simple and fun!
The rules are available to download free at the below site:


Oh and some eye candy from a scenario play through where Stu kicked my scrawny Teutonic arse with his might British Boys in Red! Hurrah! incidentally these pictures were taken at an undercover outdoor night game, the four light sources give the figures/vehicles a sort of spooky day/night cricket look (a cool game for those in countries where Queen Victoria's Boys in Red did not spread the rules of it!)

 Armoured Steam Wagons of the 13th Light Armoured Dragoon and 17th Steam Lancer Regiments supported by infantry of from the 55th Queens Galvanic Rifle Regiment and Robots from the Warburton on Sea Engineers advance on an Imperial German position AKA The Naughty Kaiser's Rascals!

Nasty Germans from the Kaiser's 12th Foot Battery await the valiant British onslaught...
Back Soon! I have a couple of AARs and OOBs to write up and the fifth scenario of the Russians Are Coming Campaign to follow up!