Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Jersey Shore Battle Games

The rules

The Jersey Shore Battle Games, also called Sandy Hook Battle Games, by the late Thor Sheil, with whom I kept in contact and exchanged wargaming ideas with, was actually the very first (free) wargame-rules I ever read (but not played before now), and therefore a naturally starting point for these following play-through blogg-posts. 

The rules can be found for free on Thor Sheil's restored webpages with both the basic rules and the period appendix'. I've chosen the Operation Sandtrap with the Advanced Rules for this game.

The scenario

I've placed this skirmish to the United Nations largest mission in both scale and operational scope during the Congo Crisis 1960-65, when UN troops 'peacekeeping' was more offensive 'peace enforcement' with force.

Situation:
This skirmish is finding place in fictional place of Lumbaya in the early January of 1963, when the UN during operation 'Grand Slam' are turning their attention to the remaining Katangese strongholds in Southern Katanga after after securing the Katangese capitol of Élisabethville.

Place:
Lumbaya is a very small village located 80km south west of Élisabethville, and are made into a stronghold by a small platoon of Katangese Gendarmes. The village is one of several strongholds in the area to trying to hold the UN off while trying to keep the self-proclaimed president Tshombe by power of the self-proclaimed Katanga state.

Forces:
  • Katangese:
    • 2 rifle-squads each of 10 soldiers, a LMG and and a bazooka/flame thrower. Each squad can operate as 2 fireteams independently. 
    • 1 HMG-detachment of 3 soldiers
    • 1 sniper
    • HQ-section with platoon-leader and 2 medics
    • After turn 12: A QRF consisting of 1 truck with a HMG and a section of 10 'veterans' armed with assault rifels, a LMG and a bazooka arrives from the next village. Only if Lumbaya is still held by Katangese forces.
  • UN:
    • 1 Platoon of 3 rifle-squads each of 8 soldiers and a LMG. The squads can operate independently.
    • 1 Light mortar-detachment of  2 soldiers and an observer
    • 1 bazooka-detachment of 3 soldiers
    • HQ-section with platoon-leader
    • 1 Jeep with HMG and 2 soldiers. 
Mission:
  • Katangese: To hold the strongpoint of Lumbaya. Can request QRF-support as mentioned in the force-section from turn 12 if still holding whole or part of the strongpoint.
  • UN: To take and hold the strongpoint of Lumbya, preferably within 12 turns, and take control on as many Katangese gendarms located there as possible.

AAR

Time to play:    1.5 hours
Turns:                7 (so I wasn't able to bring in the Katangese QRF)
Result:               UN withdrawal 

The UN forces advanced on 3 axis supported by a light mortar and a vehicle mounted HMG. When hitting contact with a Katangese HMG on a nearby rooftop, almost all the UN forces got pinned, and they lost their Jeep with their support weapon. With 10 shots each turn, I think both HMGs and LMGs potentially causes too much damage each turn. One burst can take out a whole squad. The attack carried on, supported only by the UN light mortar, but it didn't hit one single time.

The UN troops advanced slowly through the dence vegatation
But in Lumbaya they're ready and awaiting the UN attack. The Catangese HMG is located on the roof in the background, and the HMG is going to take out a great number of UN troops and their supports before being taken out them selves.

First the gunner was sniped down, and later the Catangese HMG finished off the whole vehicle
So the only support-weapon left for the UN was their light Morter-team.
...But they did'nt hit much.
When reaching the outskirts of Lumbaya The UN forces had lost so many troops that according to the advanced rules, the UN had to withdraw. They wouldn't have any chance to take Lumbaya and the remaining Katangese Gendarmerie there.

Pros

  • It's simple and can be played with easily available and cheap army men or toy soldiers from a lot of different periods.
  • Have rules for consequences of mortar, grenades and bombs not hitting their target, as they are going to hit something else instead.
  • Rules for morale.
  • Rules for concealed units and movement.

Cons

  • Since you have to roll 2 dice for every shot to determine hits, and there are a greater number of shots for different automatic weapons and at the same time suggested about 30 soldiers for each side, I think it's going to be a lot of dice-rolling. I would actually consider to play this with a D12 dice instead.
  • Even with the advanced rules, there are no rules for using sniper rifles. Since the rules encourages adaptions, I used the same rules as for Infantry rifles; 1 shoot needing a 7 or better to hit, but can throw dice 3 times into the same target and choosing the best of them and giving it a Range 2.
  • Infantry movement is not actually mentioned in the 'Sandpit-rules', so I had to use same rules but  the 'Showdown Wild West' for reference. Infantry movement is a Range 1, which is 12" in this scale.
  • I think the hand-to-hand combat rules seems unclear. Now I didn't get to get close enough to engage my troops in any hand-to-hand-combat, but it it seems like there is no dice-rolling or anything. Just outnumbering.
  • I miss an easy and quick reference board/table in the rules. Now I had jo do a lot of rereading when battling. 

Conclusion

I think the cons outnumber the pros in this game as written. But it surely have some nice aspects other rules doesn't have. Besides Thor wrote on his pages that the rules were to serve as a basis on which to develop your own particular games. He encourages that you can add your own special conditions, such as morale, command, specific attributes for certain weapons, etc. Because as he said; "The rules may be mine, but the game is yours and thus should reflect what you consider essential".

I'm a great fan of Thor Sheil, and have a lot of respect for him, and I'm very glad I took the time to play one of his games.


Please follow this blog for more AAR on free wargame-rules to come...



In Memoriam Thor Sheil
Thank you for your service






Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Prelude to battle

The beginning

I've been into a lot of different modelling hobbies for a while, but tabletop wargaming was not one of them, until quite recently. Actually it was my very good, and late friend Morten who first gave me the idea and gave it a spark. Unfortunately we didn't get to game together...

Knowing about nothing about this hobby, I turned to the internet in my search for information and wargaming-rules. I was actually put off a little when I saw the complexity, thick books and price on some of the games and miniatures, but I also found some easier ones which could be downloaded and printed for free and played with ordinary affordable army men. 

Since I was new to this and didn't know if this was something for me, I didn't want to spend a lot of money or time reading thick rule-books. Therefore I decided to test-play some of the free rules I found on the internet, to see if I liked it, and what kind of rules I preferred. Fast, very simple, D6-mechanics, 1:1, skirmish, playable and fun rules seemed to be the thing for me. The very first game I ever played was Pete Kautz' '1 Brain Cell Wargame', just using what I had to hand in the household, nothing fancy:

This is where it all started with my very first game; unpainted army men, Momin's house from my kids' old toys, folding ruler, tape-measure, books and magazines making up the terrain and scenery


Where to find them

After I while I found many different free rules on the internet that I could play with easily available and cheap Army men. My favorite sources for free wargame rules are:

Actually I found more rules on these pages that I'll have ever time to play them all. While trying to obtain even more information and others experience with some of these rules, I was searching the internet again for some battle-reports, AARs, playthroughs and feedbacks on them, but didn't actually find so many. Does anyone play them at all, or is it just seldom that wargamers post AARs on such rules??  Please share your experience in the comments. 

Therefore I plan to play some of  those free, fast, simple, skirmish, playable and fun rules I find most apealing and post a short AAR on them here in this blog, and perhaps someone might find it helpful. To easier to compare the different rulesets with each other, I think it's fair to play them with the same scenario.

The scenario

Unlike the free wargame rules, I did not find as many free and ready skirmish wargame scenarios to base my coming games upon. Some of the rulesets them selves often contain some very easy 'scenarioes' and winning-conditions, but they're just too basic. Therefore I got inspired by one of  The United Nations largest mission in both scale and operational scope during the Congo Crisis 1960-65 (United Nations Operation in the Congo (ONUC)) ,when UN troops 'peacekeeping' was more offensive 'peace enforcement' with use of force and had several clashes with the breakaway state of Katanga.

Situation:
This skirmish is finding place in fictional place of Lumbaya in the early January of 1963, when the UN during operation 'Grand Slam' are turning their attention to the remaining Katangese strongholds in Southern Katanga after after securing the Katangese capitol of Élisabethville.

Place:
Lumbaya is a very small village located 80km south west of Élisabethville, and is made into a stronghold by a small and imrovised platoon of Katangese Gendarmes. The village is one of several strongholds in the area trying to hold the UN off while trying to keep the self-proclaimed president Tshombe by power of the self-proclaimed Katanga state.

The road to the fictional village of Lumbaya



Forces:
  • Katangese:
    • 2 rifle-squads each of 10 soldiers, a LMG and and a bazooka/flame thrower. Each squad can operate as 2 fireteams independently. 
    • 1 HMG-detachment of 3 soldiers
    • 1 sniper
    • HQ-section with platoon-leader and 2 medics
    • TheKatangese Gerdarmerie

    • After turn 12 if the rules include vehicles or skilled troops: A QRF consisting of 1 truck with a HMG and a section of 10 'veterans' with assault guns, a LMG and a bazooka arrives from the next village. Only if Lumbaya is still held by Katangese forces though.
    • The QRF
  • UN:
    • 1 Platoon of 3 rifle-squads each of 8 soldiers and a LMG. The squads can operate independently.
    • 1 Light mortar-detachment of  2 soldiers and an observer
    • 1 bazooka-detachment of 3 soldiers
    • HQ-section with platoon-leader
    • 1 Jeep with HMG and 2 soldiers. If rules do not include vehicles, the Jeep must stay stationary with the HMG at the deployment-zone. 

Mission:

  • Katangese: To hold the strongpoint of Lumbaya. Can request QRF-support as mentioned in the force-section from turn 12 if still holding whole or part of the strongpoint.
  • UN: To take and hold the strongpoint of Lumbya, preferably within 12 turns, and take control on as many Katangese gendarms located there as possible.


Let the Game(s) begin!



In Memoriam Morten Melsnes





Monday, November 1, 2021

Generic scenery and wargaming terrain on a budget

Time to finally do som painting

It's been quiet from the 'blog-front' here for a while now, but as already mentioned in an earlier blogpost; 'Even more about protective covering' I had 3D-printed a lot of different scenery items, and had even more in the making at the time of writing, that needed to be painted. Even thou we're still fighting Covid-19, we do not have as many restrictions as earlier like home isolation and quarantine anymore. -So it was time to go to go back to work and catch up, resulting in less time to 3D-print new items, painting them or gaming.  Besides I got into a diversion of military modelling, and spent some time by the lake with my new RC boat

But finally I got around to do some painting. So what to paint my newly scenery items like, and where and when should they represent???



Generic approach

Despite I'm quite new to tabletop gaming, there are a lot of different eras, conflicts, scales and games (both historical and sci-fi) I would like to play. I don't have unlimited space at home for all my modelling hobbies, so I can't just go ahead and make scenery items for every game, battle or period I'd like. So I've decided to make and paint scenery items so generic that I can combine and use them for as many different games, settings, eras, scales and conflicts as possible.

Since I've already got 54mm miniatures for gaming in the old west, Sci-fi, and for post WWII conflicts in Africa and the Middle East, it was clear that I had to go for some kind of scenery they all have in common. Besides, the Middle East might be a suitable 'theater' for future wargaming projects as well, since it's the most war thorn region of the world through the whole history. 

I decided to go for a desert-like, sandy, dusty wasteland scenery, as it will be suitable for different eras and conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, as well in the southern parts of the 'Old West' or in a Sci-fi setting on a Mars-like or 'Tatooine' planet.


The painting it self was straight forward; Solid layers of tan color(s), washed with dark brown, and drybryshed with 'Titanium Buff'. All painted with cheap craft acrylics.

By just adding some craters to the rocks make you have a Middle East/African battlefield or a Sci-fi setting

For vegetation I selected plants and trees I don't think would look out of place in a sandy and dry habitat 

This was 3D-printet in black PLA and simply drybrushed with various 'browns', starting dark followed by lighter shades

Adobe style buildings can be found in The MiddleEast, Africa and in southern parts of Northern America


With generic scenery further period and location can be set by adding periodic or geographical items. Here is some detail to set the scene to Middle East or African wargames

I also made some terrain pieces with other bits and pieces I had laying around.

When 3D-printing you sometimes add 'Rafts'to your print to make your model stick better to the printbed. When done printing you separate them and usually throw the raft away. I found some of the rafts from my previous 3D-prints to be so sturdy and of irregular shape that I would try to use them as terrain bases. The greenery is just lichen for Christmas decorations found in craft stores. Thanks to Rick Astley for providing one of those circular bases in the middle. I knew he was never giving me up...

Circular CD-bases again. I think this is one of the Mrs' 'Game of Thrones' seasons...
The rocks are made by cutting blue and pink extruded foam to shape and painted.

This is made by adding pieces from 'The Force' and 'The Corps' playsets to a raft for 3D prints. A CD or any other suitable base will work as well
Even stationary vehicles can act as periodic gaming terrain, and add some cover for your troops. The toy car was to correct scale, but looked a little too pristine  at first...

The 'battle mat' is made by a tan piece of inexpensive cloth simply stippled with different browns and greens acrylics by a coarse sponge. Roads, rivers and lakes are just fabric in a different colors, and are loose to change the scenery for different scenarioes

There are still a lot of interesting and available free 3D-files ready to download and print out there, but in this scale I'll just have to limit myself as I already have challenges with storing it properly. Besides I should have enough scenery and terrain by now to make up interesting games.

Now it's about time to let the (war-) Game(s) begin, so please follow the blog for updates!

Sunday, October 24, 2021

New steam locomotive for the Garden Railway

The new locomotive

Finally after all the Covid-restrictions we're, for the time being, allowed to take up normal activities again. Due to the Covid-19 I hadn't been to any Model Railway Exhibitions for about 2 years, either in Norway or abroad. So when there was a small Model Railway Exhibition held in Norway last week I just had to go. It was very nice to meet fellow modellers again. On this exhibition I also found a G-scale Steam locomotive from LGB that I've wanted for a while, but haven't seen in many stores, so I ended up buying it.

Like most LGB-stuff in G-scale it's narrow gauge, and it's made as an even lighter narrow gauge standard as it is a "Feldbahn". A prototypical Feldbahn would be made to 600mm gauge in real life, but LGB has made it go with their 45mm gauge tracks, so the model has a slightly broader gauge than the prototype. The LGB rolling stock in the "Feldbahn-series" is very short and will fit my very small garden railway well.



The model is very well made and looks good, and it runs superbly. I noticed that the cab is open, and you can see all the details in it, except for the crew (!). Usually LGB includes a engine driver in their models, but obviously not here where the cab is so open. On the label on the box there is a picture of the loco with an engine driver, but when I searched the internet for this model I found both models with and without the driver.

The Crew

It seemed obvious what I had to do; I had to add some crew, at least an engine driver. Before I went ahead and ordered one from LGB I wanted to see if I could find any suitable figures to print in our 3D-printer. At Thingiverse I found two I figured they could be used for an engine driver and a fireman; Man With Cap (1:32 scale) and a figure from the German Africa Corps (1:72 scale). I scaled both the figures to about G-scale, and mirrored the Man With Cap in the slicer, so I could have a conductor as well from the same figure. They were printed on "standard" resolution at our Flashforge Finder to save time, and to see if they looked good enough. After some painting with cheap acrylics from the craft shop, I think they did. They are viewed at a distance anyway.

You can still see the layer-lines from the FDM-printer, but I think they turned out surprisingly well keeping in mind that these are printed in standard resolution. So well, that I didn't consider to print them in a higher and more time consuming resolution    

The train

Fitted in the cab of the locomotive I think they look good enough. Instead of only having one engine driver if he was to be included or not originally, I now have an engine driver, a fireman and a conductor.















Monday, October 11, 2021

Exploring new Horizons in military modelling

I've been fascinated by Radio Controlled boats ever since I was a kid, both the fast ones and especially the true scale models. - And in particular military ones. Back then there were no RTR-models (like today), only kits of varying skill levels. I never got around to build a scale boat of my own because it just seemed way to complicated.

Recently I went with my son to hobby store i Oslo called Sami RC, when he was going to buy a petrol powered RC car. I was actually not so interested in those cars, so I went looking in the shelves with boats while he was shopping. And among all those not-'fine scale' racing boats, I saw one RTR scale model boat of a Combat Boat 90 by Pro boat. It needed not more than a battery to be ready for action. So while my son got his car, I finally got my RC boat. A boat which was both a military scale model and a fast one (just like the prototype).

It's planing easily as the prototype

The boat has a high level of details and looks great just out of  the box. Machine guns and flag was included and can be attached. No scale is specified on the box, but by it's size I've calculated it to be about 1:26,6 scale. With about only 55,88 cm it fits nicely into at toolbox with it's controller and is easy to carry along.

Every thing you need for a running session, fits in a toolbox

You also need a battery-charger, but I already had one from my RC Tank and RC Car which I could use. After charging the batteries it was time to try it out. Luckily I live by a lake, and I won't recommend to use models like this in the sea, as the salt will make metal parts corrode. 



At full throttle it looks like its going to fast, but I've calculated it to be close to the prototype though. I've found out that you can set the controller to 75% power, which actually looks better and closer to expected 'scale speed'. A benefit of this is that your batteries will last for a longer running session as well; about 30+ minutes contrary to the 14 minutes if you have 100% and full throttle almost all the time.




It is a fun boat to operate, and I think the only con is that it has no reverse. I also added powerfull magnets inside the hull on both sides, so I can dock to my friends magnetic quay which is built to about the same scale.

It's a nice Scenic quay my friend have made

With magnets in both boat hull, and in the tires along the quayside, it docks easily with a steady hand. 


Another benefit for me is that this model is of the same type of Combat Boat (Stridsbåt 90) that was used by the Norwegian Coastal Artillery, and are now in service with the Norwegian Coastal Rangers. This will serve as inspiration for me if I would like to personalize it through the winter, so my Combat Boat doesn't look like all the other similar Pro Boats. If so updates will follow.

A Norwegian Stridsbåt 90 (Photo: Forsvaret)



This is a summer hobby, and the season seems to be over here in Norway this year. It's very therapeutic just to sit back with a cup of coffee or a cold beer, and just navigate your own boat around.





Saturday, April 17, 2021

Fighting Covid-19

Dead simple rules for killing boredom during social-distancing, home isolation or quarantine

There have been a little quite on this blog lately, but that's not the same as I've not been doing anything. I've been busy painting a lot of those 3D-printed items as seen in my previous blog-post, and covering painting is not that exciting (although it takes time). During this time we have also been living under this Covid-19 situation for a year, and I guess we all just want to go back and have a normal day soon. During my own short term quarantine I started to write on these very simple and easy to play rules to kill some time and looking forward to we all can return to our normal lives again.


It is so simple and you don't need more than would fit in a little bag. This is truly a 'Wargame in a bag':

The rules

I've also uploaded the rules here if you want to print them out to have a try on this game.



The Game

As in real life (by now) I let only about half of my men or less to be vaccinated against Covid-19 and benefit from that protection. A "V" was added to the underside of their base.

I 3D-printed "virus-tokens" in two different colors, and let the minority blue color represent a virus-mutation. Any gaming tokens or similar kan substitute for "viruses". Othervise you'll need som dice and a tapemeasure.

The Covid-19 kit was found on www.Thingeverse.com and could be downloaded for free. I resized the kits making it smaller and more suitable for my Army Men
The Covid-19 kit was downloaded fro www.Thingeverse.com for free and resized ta make it more suitable for the game

This was the initial game set-up with a unit consisting of 2 regular Covid-19 viruses and 1 mutant virus in each corner. My Army men started on a 'hill' in the center.

It's nice when you can have a zip of your scenery

All the Virus-units, unless 1, moved toward the Army Men very fast. To try to keep initiative the captain ordred his men to follow him into a melee with the closest threat.

He is brave....

Until the next turn.....
The captain was the first casualty, and non of the other troopers made it off the hill before they were surrounded by viruses and taken out one-by-one.....

...-but stupid

The charge failed and the others didn't come of the hill as they were engaged and surrounded


The flamethrower-guy did really put up a fight, but was finally outnumbered and taken out.





The After Action Review

A game took about 30 minutes and 7 turns to complete. Therefore I had time to play several more games, and I think it wasn't before the 4th time I was able to eliminate the viruses. 

Alternatively you can add a couple of figures, but then you should consider to keep them less protected (no fasemasks or vaccine).

These rules are very simple and doesn't cover every aspects that may appear during a game. If any doubts just make your own decision of whats likely and I encourage you to make your own "House-rules". This was also the first game I was able to use my 3D-printed Dicetower (with 4 bafflers). As you can see it's not fully painted, so I'll guess I'll have to go back painting now...




So until next time; Stay safe guys!!

Jersey Shore Battle Games

The rules The Jersey Shore Battle Games, also called Sandy Hook Battle Games, by the late Thor Sheil, with whom I kept in contact and exchan...