Thursday, 7 February 2019

Hills Are For Heroes AAR

It's been a while but my 'The Russians are Coming Campaign' is back! This is the fifth scenario in the series and it pits both sides against each other in a meeting engagement. Enough said I hope you enjoy the AAR for 'Hills are for Heroes!'...

The Russians, led by Staff Officer Captain Putin are surprised as they see Colonials loom into view on the 'unoccupied' hill...

The History

Wednesday August 27 1879

Captain Putin flipped open the cover of his pocket watch and grimaced, the strain on his face showed as he watched the seconds tick by and noon approach. It was hot, his orders were vague and no attempt had been made to reconnoiter the area surrounding his objective. He was about to step into the unknown! He blew his whistle at exactly noon and his detachment rose as one with him and in open order they moved out toward 'Hill15'.

Lieutenants Murray and Torrens heard a faint whistle in the distance as they ushered their militia from the Norwood and Unley Volunteer Rifles forward. They had been ordered to capture a slight rise known as 'Bill's Hill'. Locals had approached them earlier in the day and  had informed them that Ruskies had been seen in the area to the west of the hill that morning. Bearing this in mind they drilled their men on deploying into line from march column several times. The sun was high in the sky and there was no wind, Lieutenant Murray quipped 'Perfect day for a picnic on yon hill me thinks!." Torrens replied with a board smile, "You're an idiot" and with that drew his revolver and they headed off.

The Siberian infantry and Russian seaman trudged forward for what seemed and eternity and as they began to negotiate the gentle slope they were surprised! At the crest of the hill in the brilliant sunlight a line of men in red appeared. The shimmering line of scarlet was then engulfed in smoke and the crack of gunfire abounded. "The Devils Mother!" cursed Putin as he heard screams of agony and saw some of his men crumple to the ground. Stunned the Russian troops return fire without awaiting orders. Their shooting was wild and scored no hits on the defenders. Captain Putin ordered his second line sections to advance and seek cover whilst screening those that had been shot up. He contemplated his options.

Sergeant Wakefield had always taken pride in his men's musketry prowess and they did him proud as their first volley hit several Russians. He could hear orders from Murray to keep up rapid fire and hold the crest so urged his men on in a booming voice!

Meanwhile as hot lead whizzed all around him Captain Putin seized Sergeant Korf by the shoulder and ordered him to flank the the left of the Colonial line. He roared, "Korf the fate of this operation is in your hands, get around these Devil's flank and make your Tsar proud!" He then formed his other three sections into line and prepare to cover Korf's move.

Several South Australians fell to Russian fire after they reorganised while the Colonial's own fire was becoming more ragged. What worried Lieutenants Murray and Torrens was that in just a short time their men had almost expended all of their ammunition, they both hoped their remaining rounds would be sufficient to finish the was at this crucial point they both heard a great 'Huzzah!'. It was clearly audible over the musketry and signaled the Siberians on the Russian right charging the Norwood Volunteers. The militiamen fought fiercely but their well trained opponents were just too much and they suffered a heavy defeat and wavered.

Pushkin seeing the success of the attack by Korf urged his men on but it was too late the Colonials realising the day was not theirs decamped in good order their officers deciding discretion was the better part of valour. The Russians occupied Hill 15.

At 12:45pm silence reigned on Bill's Hill, Putin scanned the carnage and ordered an Imperial flag raised immediately he then commanded his men to dig in as these damned Colonials could return!


Turns 1, 2 & 3
Both the South Australians and Russians entered the 'field of glory' and made a beeline to the hilltop, the Colonials entered in column formation whereas the Siberians came on in skirmish order. Covering ground more quickly than their opponents the Australians redeployed in line in their second action phase of turn 3 while ascending the hill.

Overall view of the battlefield, the hill well more of a mound really dominates the centre of the tabletop...

 The Colonial columns advance!

Deployed in skirmish order Captain Pushkin's men move forward...

Turn 4
The Australians winning the initiative gained the crest line of the hill and opened fire on the Siberian infantry and Russian sailors who were now in plain view. The extreme right section of the Australian line from the Unley Company commanded by Sgt. Wakefield scored an impressive 3 'kills' with their first volley. In response to the accurate Australian fire the Russians moved to take cover allowing them a level better 'protection" (i.e. they hit the dirt) they then fired on the Colonials albeit with little effect. The Russians passed their required moral checks easily.

The two sections of the Norwood Volunteers open up on the advancing Russians...

...they were quickly followed by the boys of the Unley Volunteer Rifles...

After Sgt. Kellers men took losses (bottom left) and they were leap-frogged by fresh men...the advantage of concentrated firepower as a result of the South Australian men being in line against the spread out Siberian infantry and Russian soldiers shows out in the overhead view...

Turn 5
Both sides exchanged volleys with the Russians getting the worst of it, their skirmish formation was not allowing them the same amount of firepower as the Australians in their lines and their casualties mounted. One Siberian section was reduced to less than half strength but with a Staff Officer on the table boosting force morale they passed their own morale roll comfortably.

The battle lines face off...

Turn 6
The Russians changed formation into line allowing them to pour more fire into their enemy and several Colonials were hit. But under pressure the Australians maintained their resolve despite losses and continued their fire taking out even more Russians. All units again survived their morale tests (only just in the case of one of Sgt. Wakefield's Section!). At this point both sides losses were even so victory could go either way.

Captain Pushkin gets his men into lines to contine the firefight on more equal terms...

Korf's section moving to the flank...

Overall view at the end of turn 6.

Turn 7
Again to reduce losses the Russians moved to 'take cover' and reloaded their weapons ready for the final turn. The Australian's fired again but accumulating casualties and a lack of ammunition were reducing the effectiveness of their volleys (they experience several weapons jamming and one even double jammed resulting in no fire for that figure for the rest of the game!).

Sgt.Korf's section right out to the left launch a last turn charge on the Colonials line.....

Turn 8
The South Australian's winning the initiative fired first hitting a couple of the Russian sailors.
In a final throw of the dice the Russians used three units to continue firing whilst their only intact section on their extreme right led by Sergeant Korf charged! The firing was particularly ineffective but their charge against a section of the Norwood Company proved spectacular! The trained Siberians even though at a disadvantage as they were downhill of the Colonials were far superior in the melee inflicting 3 casualties while taking only one loss, this result proved crucial as it gave the Russians a slim victory! Both sides suffered around 30% casualties, all a bit nasty!

Last turn and the Unley Company volunteers continue to stand up to the Siberian Regulars...

The two sides engage in a serious bit of 'biffo' on the left flank of the Colonial's line.. 

The fight goes in the favour of the Siberians...

Overview at the end of the game...

Victory Calculation;
Russians within 25cm of the objective 23
South Australians within 25cm of the objective 22

So despite their success the Russian aggressors are still trailing in the Campaign score 3 to 2 with two games remaining. 

Finally the Russians rolled a 2 for their 'Lieutenant-General Lazarev Heart Attack Roll' so he's still hanging in and there'll be no special morale rules in play for scenario six!

In summary this is a scenario 'idea' I've used many times with different rules in different era games featuring a central objective, a short time limit and a requirement to have as many living figures close to that objective at the games end. It normally ensures a lot of movement and combat. This game was played three times and this AAR is from the first game, the other two were quite boring with both side hovering on their side of the hill and the action occurring only in the last couple of turns. To negate the LOS obstacle, i.e. the hill it will need some tweaking giving one side more 'lesser' troops so there is incentive for the smaller but 'better' side to engage them as they will need to to reduce their numbers significantly for the last turn victory calculation. This will take out the option of both sides loitering until the very last turns.

Next time; hmmm once again I'm not sure...

Thursday, 17 January 2019

VSF Christmas AAR 2018 - A Christmas Tree Too Far

Ah Yuletide, this of course means a FUBAR VSF game with a very Christmas theme! We gathered for a casual BBQ and game. This time we tried to fill the table with a veritable plethora of steam powered contraptions, everything from Flying Machines to Automatons! 

The British objective is to relieve Balloon Mobile troops landed behind enemy lines before the local Germans, believed to be nothing more than rear echelon soldiers could overpower them! The plan devised was exciting and adventurous but some officers of the Imperial Headquarters critised its wisdom and scope one scandalously commented in a darken corridor could the plan be endeavouring to go 'A Christmas Tree Too Far...'

Period pictures of the Britis30th Steam Powered Armoured Corps advancing across Holland to establish contact with the various Balloon Landed forces landed at Eindhoven, Nijmegen and Arnhem!

HMLS Terrific steams effortlessly along the single paved road allocated to the British spearhead...

Infantry followed in the wake of the awesome Steam Leviathans!

Lord Butt-Plug and other officers from the Imperial Headquarters view their Landships and associated support troops advancing...

A Christmas Tree Too Far...the history;

Late 1878, the great Western Democracies continued to fight the evil Eastern Empires in second year of the First Great Steam War with little sign of a conclusion when a daring plan was presented to Queen Victoria’s General Staff which if successful could lead to the defeat of the German Empire by Christmas. The plan was promptly approved!

S.O.E. (Stealthy Overseas Executive) had via their network of agents identified a weakness in the Imperial German Army. They discovered during the Yuletide period the Teutonic Warrior’s morale was fragile at the front and the Imperial High Command needed to cosset the soldiers with a wanton excess of treats during this time to bolster them. The central item distributed to the Units was a generous supply of Christmas Trees! The Top Men of S.O.E. believed if the deployment of these trees to the front could be interrupted then the German Army's morale would collapse in days.

A plan devised by Lord Butt-Plug that envisaged a daring thrust by the British 30th Steam Powered Armoured Brigade through the Holland to capture the three Great German Christmas Tree Depots. To ensure the Germans could not move the Christmas Trees from the supply centres detachments from the elite British Balloon Airborne Corps would be landed behind the lines to secure the depots for the men of the 30th Steam Powered Armoured Corps. These depots with the Christmas Trees were located at Eindhoven, Nijmegen and Arnhem!

December 17 and the Operation began. The attack achieved total surprise and Eindhoven and Nijmegen were quickly secured but then ‘the wheels fell off’. Unbeknownst to the British the Imperial German Army had located strong forces at Arnhem to practice their caroling for Christmas...when the crack Balloonists of Captain Jack Snow’s 1st Air Deployment Section landed near Arnhem the Germans buoyed with pudding were awaiting them and were ready to secure a decisive victory promptly so they could return to their caroling...

The Scenario;

Battlefield and Deployment

British enter from the West (left) map edge.
Rectangles represent hidden German infantry.
Squares represent German Guns, depot guard and Headquarters.

The Forces

British Force

Colonel Richard Brown-Pants - Headquarters
HMLS Terrific detached from the 5th Heavy Steam Squadron
Elements of the 41st Naval Armoured Company
Elements 7th Queens Mechanical Dragoon Regiment
Detachments from:
 the 27th Armoured Rifles
The Little Tinkle Volunteer Rifles with Guide attached
Elements of the below Regiments;
1st Essex Light Infantry Regiment
2nd Infantry (Queens Own Rifles) Regiment
22nd Aeronautical Balloon Squadron

Captain Jack Snow
1st Air Deployment Section

German Force

Oberst Frank Puller - Headquarters
Detachment from the Guards Marine Regiment with Heavy Rapid Fire Gun Attached
Elements of the 14th Armoured Assault Regiment
Elements of the 2nd Company II 4th Steam Wagon Regiment
Elements of the 64th Bavarian Jager Regiment
111st Independent Robot Unit
Depot Guard Section

Victory Conditions
Eliminate 3 man Depot Security Detachment and have at least one figure in the Depot at the games end
Prevent British Conditions

Force Morale:
If at any point more than half of a sides total number of Infantry/Gun Units are Broken then that side is Routed and loses the game.
Note: the Umpire can override this rule and substitute a -1 die roll modifier on ALL the Routed forces Units rolls instead of game loss result

Game Turns

Red     Broken Unit
Yellow One per suppression
Green  Unit on Overwatch
White   Unit has Gone to ground

Special Figure Tags
LMG have 3FPs
GR units all rifles shoot as Galvanic rifles
GRR units all rifles shoot as Repeating Galvanic rifles i.e. 2d6 rerolling any 6’s

Scenario Special Rules

Guns are stationary and can’t be moved.
Ruined building – this is a fortified location giving Heavy Cover to occupants.
Woods don't affect movement rates of foot units or vehicles but vehicles require an extra i.e. second breakdown roll.
Woods can be seen into to the range of 6 inches and give Light Cover bonus.
Fences/Hedges are ‘a hindrance’ and infantry can be seen up to six inches through them and vehicles are seen at any range through them but both get light cover bonus for the hindrance.
Rocky and plant areas don't affect any movement rates but vehicles require an extra i.e. second breakdown roll.
Rocky and plant areas infantry light cover.


Red Arrows British Initial Advances
Blue Squares/rectangles German Initial Deployment
Light Blue Arrows German Steam Vehicles and Robots Advances
Pink Arrows Late British Advances
Yellow Explosions Units and Stem vehicles hit/destroyed

The British decided to 'go for it', their commander unaware if Captain Snow's Balloon Section were still in action and with time against them a direct assault covered by the big guns of HMLS Terrific seemed a sound plan. the ruins could be occupied and used as a launchpad for the final attack on the depot! The advance was sounded! The big guns of the Terrific belched flame and smoke and caused casualties to the entrenched German gunners whilst the infantry merrily stomped forward in haste!

Here the might of the British advance, the green disks on the sections to the left of the road show they are in overwatch, units failing their activation roll can choose to do this.

The German guns targeted the British vehicles whilst their elite Marines held their fire until the British moved to within effective range of the Galvanic Rifles and then they loosed of repeated deadly volley!

The British right with better activation rolls advanced much quicker than the left who's objective was the ruins. The road was quickly blocked with Steam Vehicles!

The Germans own Steam powered Armoured Wagons arrived and targeted the British Triambulators! Meanwhile the British Blimps arrived over the battlefield but were hampered by some poor activation rolls!

The British left was virtually wiped out by the German Marines in the fortified ruins while the British fire back at the Germans while effective was causing many less effective hits.
The silver markers to the left of the road below are proof to the German marines effectiveness!

The British army was faltering at this point as they were under withering German fire from both the left..

and right of the road...

At this crucial point of the game the Germans ran afoul of the infamous Breakdown table with two of their vehicles were put of action and the third was crunched by the big guns of the HMLS Terrific which at this point was still too far back to bring all its might to bear!
To top off it off for the British captain Snow and his elite balloonist arrived behind the Germans near the Supply Depot!

In this picture you can see the three German Steam vehicle wrecks littering the hilltop and Captain Snows 'boys' and the empty Depot sentry box after the balloonist had put paid to the guard detachment!

The swings and roundabouts continued at after the Germans took a beating they played their trumps, two Dragonfly avionic flyers and a section of Automatons! All game due to heavy losses the British were riding a fine line and seeing their army morale break well the Boxeheads aerial and robot led counter attack was enough to force the British over the limit! In a hail of bullets form the air and smoke a flame from the Automatons red line broke!
A German Victory!

The Automaton section can be seen in the centre of the picture and the empty space in front of them is where the British had just moments before been advancing!

The German Dragonflys with their twin Rapid Fire Rifles were deadly against infantry in the open!

British Flyers circle over their shattered men of the 30th Steam Powered Armoured Corps helpless as they continued to roll poorly when it came to activating.

Captain Snow and his brave Balloonists even though undefeated had no option but to surrender to the Germans and endure a horrendous extended period of guttural German caroling all the way through to Christmas day!

Snow's Section watch helplessly as despite their success the British relief column breaks and runs!

Well an interesting night was had! There were many buts for the British, had they advanced the HMLS Terrific more promptly had their Flyers activation rolls been better it all could have been different...well it wasn't! The tenacious Germans had their own dice issues especially with the Breakdown table taking two of their vehicles out of the game but they came through adversity victorious!

There'll be more FUBAR VSF soon in one of our regular Monday gatherings and i am sure it will go down as well as this game did!

Next Time - hmm we may revisit 'the Russians are Coming' campaign!

Sunday, 2 December 2018

New Figures - Sloppy Jalopy 1/56 Armed Cricketers

Just finished painting up a new set of figures a fully armed Cricket team! They were released quite a while ago but I only just saw them online recently so had to buy them! They’ll be useful in both my VSF and TGAA games!

You can buy them as a 'full' set of 12 figures including 11 players and an umpire or in subsets of six, one called the Gentlemen and the other the Players a bit odd as except for the Umpire they are all players!

Once I had them in my hands I was impressed, these are nicely sculpted miniatures with great character faces and good body poses. The guy bowling for example looks very good! My favourite is the Vice Captain in his Jacket nonchalantly standing with his SMG in a sort of gangster pose. The only thing a bit odd was a couple of the slung rifles sort of bend with the shape of the body of the figure (obviously these Enfields were made with softwoods...) All the figures required clean up with various amounts of flash here and there something that took me back a bit but once tidied up they were easy to paint.

Speaking of painting for these fellows I chose a brighter white for pants and shirts and a creamy white for jumpers and pads. Caps and jackets were a sort of Australian Green. The faces need finishing up, currently they are simply flesh with the only highlight being on the moustachioed figures, hopefully I’m catching up with a mate I game with over Christmas who is great at painting faces and maybe he’ll be able to impart some of his skills to me! The bases were simple, these chaps would be found on the finest ovals so as simple green flock mix was all they needed to represent the finely mowed playing surface!

Here’s some pictures...unfortunately the colour difference between the bright white and creamy white is hard to see!

From how I see it these figures would be left to right; the Captain, the Vice Captain, an Umpire and the Wicket-keeper

These figures would be left to right; two Fielders, a Bowler and a Batsman

 These figures would be left to right; a Batsman, two Fielders and another Batsman

Note I almost bought them through a third party but went to Sloppy Jalopy direct and their site was user friendly as was their shipping to Australia! Here’s a link to their site...

If you need some cricket miniatures armed to the teeth I’d highly recommend these!

Next Time; err more stuff!

Sunday, 18 November 2018

New VSF Aeronautical Contraption – The Daley Brothers Attack Balloon!

It was late in the day as Flugmeister Franz Bottums-Upsch glided his Fokker Dragon Fly gracefully over the countryside of Kent, he was on his third mission of the day and looking for British Flyers returning to their bases and another easy victory. Flying over enemy territory Franz was alert and wary so continually scanned the skies above him whilst he sought another victim. Twisting and turning among the clouds he sighted a British Sopwith Blimp below immediately he started to bank to attack but then he heard several loud bangs as his machine shuddered. The Fokker lurched and there were awful grinding sounds as the flyer’s right two wings drooped limply. Franz found it difficult to maintain control as he anxiously looked about to see who had taken him by surprise! Then he spied his assailant, it was a craft he had never seen before! He noted its ungainly appearance, there was an armoured gondola below a large round balloon. He wondered how he could have been bounced by such an antique looking contraption...but his train of thought was interrupted as the other pair of his Dragon Fly’s wings failed and he plummeted to into oblivion in the ruin of his flyer!


Captain Darling was taking the latest British flyer, the Daley Brothers Steam Powered Armoured Attack Balloon Mk II for yet another test flight over the skies of southern England when he noticed a lone German skulking about between the clouds. He immediately thought, “Bloody Boxhead, on the hunt for some unsuspecting British Airman no doubt, well I’ll give him what for!” Against his orders to not engage any enemies while testing the newest British fighting machine he dropped altitude rapidly and was in a matter of moments on the tail of the Fokker. In the extremely responsive Daley he lined up his target quickly and once it was in his sights he gently pressed the firing button on his control column. The two auto loading Holland & Holland Elephant Guns barked into life and in seconds several rounds were fired buffeting Darling’s machine and smashing into the surprised German. “Take that!” Darling commented coolly as he saw the enemy Airman look around in shock as his stricken Fokker rapidly fell earthward...

The demise of Flugmeister Franz Bottums-Upsch ensured the secret of the new British fighting flying machine was safe!


The Great Steam War continued to rage and during September 1878 the Fokker Dragon Fly Scare was adorning the front page of virtually every news sheet. These menacing flying machines in the hands of expert Germanic Aces were scything British Flyers from the skies with ease. While the Sopwith Company worked on improving their Blimps another Company, Daley Brothers displayed their newest development to the British Government and the Boffins of S.O.E., the Daly Brothers Steam Powered Armoured Attack Balloon Mk II. It looked dated to all those who saw it but when demonstrated before the Queen's ministers and given to the best British Aviators everyone was surprised at its speed and agility. Its heavily armoured gondola and hard hitting weaponry in conjunction with its astonishing ability to quickly descend and climb (due to vents in the balloon and a super heater on the top of the fighting compartment) gave it characteristics that everyone believed could end the Fokker Scare that was currently decimating the Imperial Air Fleets. An order for 12 machines was placed and when delivered they were given to the front line Squadrons for the best Aces to evaluate before full production was to commence. The reports from top Airmen like Darling and Queensford-Smith were promising and so orders were placed and series construction was begun.

Captain Darling in the New Daley Company Flyer stalking a German Fokker...

The Daley Steam Powered Armoured Attack Balloon Mk II model

This scratch build was long in the making, I started it early this year but our overseas trip interrupted construction and I just got to it again!

Parts list
Foam ball from a fabric shop
Styrene sheet
Plastic tubing
Metal washers for port holes
Pins for rivets
Balloon super heater is a couple of LEGO bits
Smoke stack is part of an electric toothbrush head
Some wire
The Elephant Gun barrels, propellers, and bottom hatch are all old 1/35 left over model kit parts

Unfortunately I do not have many WIP build pictures just these...

Here’s the finished Flyer on its homemade stand....

Next time - some more stuff