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And now for something completely different……


When top wargames correspondent Mark Fry demands space on the Despertaferres blog entry, we just have to make space.

 
This week (well month or months & months & months, actually) I have mostly been painting Danes.

 
No … too early


no, No, NO! … too doggy


No! … well maybe… interesting thought (chocolate body paint comes to mind*) … but still no (sadly)

[Note: for younger readers chocolate body paint sounded like a great idea, until you realised just how messy your bedding got, but not as messy as in Trainspotting 1 though, thankfully!!!]

 
Danish Walker Bulldog Light Tank

Yes !  The year is 1989 and we are in at the final throw of the Cold War. It was the time of mullets, Astro-turf (more on that later), Abba (they were, Swedish: Ed); Taylor Swift (who?); Maggie Thatcher is UK Prime Minister; Jack Nicholson is the Joker in Batman; and there were only 4 UK TV channels etc. etc. etc. and I am mostly painting 6mm (1/300th scale) mico-armour for the start of this year’s Cold War Commanders Landjut 2017 campaign.

 

A bunch of us are The Cold War Commanders and we play a number of weekend events over a year, depicting 2 days of fighting in a fictitious Cold War (or WW3) encounter using the Cold War Commander modern micro-armour rules – now owned by Pendraken: http://www.blitzkrieg-commander.com/default.aspx

Why Danes I hear you ask?

Especially as I already have Cold War Dutch (too many Dutch … but that’s another story), and my (big fat) Greeks, plus my US 82nd Airborne (well the Sheridan tanks are a must, as are all those Huey choppers … “Charlie don’t surf!”) but it had fallen to me to field the home-side in the inaugural kick-off game of this years campaign, as we were embarking on a Warsaw Pact assault on Denmark.  

The Landjut campaign is interesting because the Danes were due to be reinforced by Britain, Canada, the USA, the Dutch (& possibly the Belgians) – so there is plenty of scope for multi-player participation. However, the Danes also would have taken an advanced defensive position at the Kiel Canal in Schleswig- Holstein in conjunction with West German Territorial Reserves, so we had a major landmark as a focal point to kick-off for the campaign. Opposing them the Communist aggressors were made up mostly of Poles, Soviets and East Germans. What also makes the Danes a challenge is that they were at this time probably the most inadequately equipped force in NATO, even the Greeks had more main battle tanks of modern design than the Danish. The Danes were also still using antiquated equipment, such as Walker Bulldogs (photo above), Centurion tanks, jeeps with recoilless rifles and a lot of infantry was still mounted in Unimog trucks … so it also represented a ‘playing challenge’.

So, to get started I had to research the Danes, work out an army list, buy the figures (Heroics & Ross, Scotia Grendel and GHQ all supply a lot of appropriate kit) and then paint them all up. So below are a few photos of work-in-progress ahead of the game.
The start of a Danish Unimog truck borne Infantry Company      


A Mechanised Infantry Company HQ       

           
Centurion Tank Rgmt with HQ (missing the Centurion ARV – I did find it in the end)


 

So, to the ‘big game’ held at the Tudor Arms, Slimbridge over the weekend of Friday 17th, Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th March. The next batch of photos will give you a flavour of what this all entailed:
 

 

 
Pre-combat calm – a peaceful morning on the Kiel Canal (viewed from the North West). The big railway bridge in the centre is the Levensau High Bridge across the canal.

 
Soviet Commander (far end) and Polish Commander review the terrain. Near ground is the coastal terrain from the British PoV.


In the heat of the action Midday Day 1: a Soviet Motor Rifle Regiment has swum across the canal whilst a Regiment of T64s crosses via a pontoon bridge. The village of Sehestedt, with its ferry bridge crossing (right) – still intact as the Canadian combat engineer platoon didn’t make the Atlantic crossing in time, are defended by stubborn Canadian infantry, which suffered almost continued Soviet artillery barrages and smoke attacks every game turn for two whole days … enough to try the patients of a saint (but they held out and fought back viciously when assaulted).



 
Above- A long view, down the length of the Kiel Canal towards the far beaches where the Polish amphibious assault was underway. The Polish Commander are to the left, a British commander to the right, and a Soviet hand bottom foreground (that is not his lunch in the plastic box but casualty and suppression markers) . In the foreground another Soviet Tank Regiment had just discovered the NATO minefields (to their cost!).


 
Canadian Leopard 1A3 Main Battle Tanks, with a helicopter mounted FAO move up (through smoke) to support their infantry at the ferry crossing. Recce and FAO’s bottom left and CHQ behind the grain store.
The Poles land on the beaches unopposed, and prepare to move into a belt of coastal woodland. What will they face on the other side? Hmmm … British Chieftain tanks and dug in infantry with ATGWs we fear.

 
Yup – British Chieftains of BAOR dug-in and awaiting the Polish armour as in emerges from the coastal plantations.

 

The first Day 1 of fighting saw the Poles move forward cautiously, gaining some ground over the British on the left of the battlefield but taking serious casualties. Whilst on the right, the Soviets refused two sections of the Kiel Canal defended by a Belgian Armoured Infantry Battalion and focused all their forces on the apparently weaker Canadian battlegroup. By throwing all their regimental and divisional artillery at the Canadians, they managed to force 3 pontoon bridges across the canal. So that meant that just 4,000pts of Canadians were faced with nearly 15,000pts of Soviets – mostly Tank Regiments … would they hold out ? And where, after all this, where those plucky Danes, I hear you ask … more to follow soon dear reader.

Our thanks as always to our roving correspondent. What brilliant terrain and models. A lesson to all in just what can be achieved and, of course, that middle age men do not have drink heavily and chase barmaids around the pool table on weekends. We look forward to part two once repairs have been made to the badly damaged pool table….

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Imperium – Harry Potter and the Stable Sweepings

Something terrible is sweeping the streets of Europe in 2017, shaking structures and upsetting elites across the continent. I’m talking of course about the return of the M1 flying jacket, here modelled by pals of yours truly in the 1990s…

It’s not that I resent fashionistas appropriating my youth, or even clueless pop stars trying to identify with an “underclass”. ( see the hilarious tale of wannabe rebel Plan B apologising for using the image of a skinhead with an ever so naughty right wing band graffitied on the wall behind. ) The real problem lies in the fact that I myself was told by die Kaiser that I wasn’t allowed to wear my treasured jacket despite the revival. Mine was sad whereas the “kids” we’re being hip. And now for something worse, Daniel Radcliffe as an undercover Nazi skinhead in “Imperium”

 Natte’s first attempt at disguise
Daniel is able to identify with outsiders, the terrorist in the opening scenes is just revenging the loss of his family and not really evil. Nate is given the task of infiltrating perhaps the most inept terrorist group of the US. Drawing on his experience in the role of Warhorse , Radcliffe is easily accepted by the Grand Order of Nazi Barbeque Enthusiasts.


Radcliffe in Warhorse

It’s not that the film is predictable, Radcliffe comes to sympathise with these outsider, it’s the fact that the film lacks all credibility. Just like those teenagers wearing the iconic skinhead jacket, Radcliffe jumps on every stereotype.What’s my xxxxxxxx motivation again? 

“Harry, I mean erm Natte, are those people really bad?”

The plotters are discovered and all is well. Natte feels used as his operator confesses that she knew his vulnerability would lead to him being accepted. After all, all these right wingers are just misunderstood loners. Could it possibly be that there are real reasons why people are reacting against globalisation? Are they really likely to be plotting strikes on major cities to incite a race war. I think Hollywood is doing a much better job in preparing people for life outside the bubble of the beneficiaries of globalisation with the Hunger Games and the incessant diet of zombie films. 

A film that can’t be taken seriously and a plot that fails to be convincing.

 Sorry Harry erm…Newt….Natte
This has been the first in a new series of Despertaferres film reviews. Next week, we shall be discussing Mark Fry’s recomendation “Red Cliff” .

May your God go with you!

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L’art de la Guerre Roll Call Travesty

“I do not make champions nor depose them; I only serve my lord.”

A French knight at Najera and a slightly aged wargamer from Darkest Wales


The list is finished! The figures are ready! The hotel will be booked when die Kaiser goes on her shot-blasting course tomorrow! My wargaming Sensei, Mark Fry ( and definately not any other Mark) suggested that the Free Companies list would better represent the forces of the Black Prince in Iberia, so here goes. Comments and abuse welcome😅

Corps one – The Black Prince’s Grand Company (competent commander) @3 points

Four heavy Knights impact@52 points

Two lesser men-at-arms medium cavalry impact @16 points


Corps Two. The Duke of Lancaster (competent) @ 3 points

Three foot Knights @36 points

Two longbow elite@ 22 points

Corps Three- John Chandos (competent ) @ 3 points

Three dismounted Knights @36 points

Two Gascon crossbow @14 points

Two bidets (0ne elite) javelin light infantry @9 points

Fortified camp @6 points
So there it is, very small but powerful. I’m definately in need of a waterway or terrain to anchor the flanks. It does allow an almost historical deployment of dismounted Knights flanked by archers and crossbows, with the Black Prince, D’Albret and Peter 1 ready to charge to their aid……we shall see?

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L’art de la Guerre- Roll Call 2017

This was going to be so easy…..

Roll Call 2017

15mm Competition Rules : 200 point armies with standard sized 200 point tables of 120cm x 80cm. 

15mm Theme: – The 650th anniversary of the Battle of Navarette (where the English under the Black Prince and Don Pedro of Castile defeated the Franco-Castilians) – Any Army Valid in 1367 

List Deadline: 18th March 2016


I have more than enough figures. I could do the Franco-Castilians or the Anglo- Castllians. I have always loved this period, the Black Prince in Iberia, I mean what’s not to like? But, five days to the deadline for lists and I’ve hit what in more literary circles would be called list writers block. The Medieval Spanish list in the rulebook just doesn’t represent the forces involved in the battle and I really would like to bring along an army based on one of the combatants.

The problems include the fact that the Forces of Pedro the Cruel, with the support of the Black Prince, supposedly dismounted all his Knights. However, the Medieval Spanish list needs four units of impetuous knights so these will have to be in the Count of Foix’s command that counter attacked Henry IIs right wing. I was tempted to call the army an English army but that robs the list of the essential Spanish component altogether. I did think about the French side but my heart wouldn’t be in it. Although, crossbows I feel would be more effective against the preponderance of dismounted Knights. And now another thought has entered my head, what if the date of 1367 just means lists of Rajput elephants and Mongolian  horse archers? And you thought competition gaming was just champagne and dancing girls, I’ll have to finish the list tomorrow while the wife is at metal work class…

..

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Flames of War Version Four and no xxxxxx stormtrooper

Cardiff’s Firestorm Games opened its doors this Saturday to an expectant multitude. Public transport had been disrupted by fans coming from as far away as the Irish Republic to be with us on this auspicious occasion. Before I could even get to the counter there was already a former pupil of mine trying to pay for the free new rulebooks. Two well built middle aged men looked at our demonstration, they said nothing. Chris smiled and they looked perplexed. I smiled and they were rooted to the spot. Wargamers don’t need words on occasions like this. I sat down at the table before every available space was taken by such mute accolites.

My older readers will remember that Flames of War was the game of choice at Firestorm. We hosted a number of competitions over the years but I think it fair to say that the system was getting a little tired. Battlefront had gone right through the whole of the Second World War and the variants for Vietnam and the First had not caught the collective imagination. Dark mutterings on the Tinternet warned that Flames of War was due for a “dumming down” ala “”Age of Smegma” by Games Workshop. Team Yankee, based in the Cold War , had reached some notables- could it really be the shot in the arm? Would the love for Flames of War be rekindled. Or rather, would the system be like an ex- girlfriend who you see on the Checkout at LIDL and prefer to ignore?

Fancy seeing you….you haven’t changed a bit!


The many changes are detailed on the Flames website and associated fan sites. My first thoughts were that the cards were a rather nice addition. They certainly negate having to keep referring to the army lists or codex for the space pixie generation. In earlier versions you had to take a set number of platoons before you got support choices. In version four you can field multiple formations in order to get the right mix of units. Two tank forces wor the thirty points in the new system gave James A six British tanks versus my four DAK panzers.


We played the basic game and it was due to last half an hour. After this the massive crowd that had built up might turn nasty as the anticipation was palpable ( and the toilets had backed up) The game was as smooth as I remember it. Tanks really can motor now if they forget about firing. My Panzer fours went onto over watch while my Panzer three Aug careered down the right of the table.


Within two turns the British had lost a platoon. I was beginning to like this old friend. James brought his Grants up but they could not negotiate the palm groves. Notice that I did not say that they bogged- there is no bogging in Version four!


I smelt blood but James rushed the objective with his remaining platoon of Crusaders. That fourteen inch move is a force multiplier. I had him, I thought. Four tanks shooting into the rear of the Crusaders. Regular readers will know what happened next….one failed terrain roll , three misses and the stormtrooper move to contest the objective was timed out. Somethings don’t change…

In days gone by I travelled to Poland to play Flames of War in the European Team Championships . Pizza box artillery templates and multiple artillery batteries killed my love of the system but I’m hooked again. The play is cleaner but still has to be thought about. The much vaunted card are a bonus. And the new rules were free! What’s not to like!

Thanks to Chris Temptress for putting on the game and Firestorm for their usual good humour.

 Flames of War is back this Tuesday!

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It’s the weekend……

Some weeks are just worse than others. The kids have been ill, work has involved meeting some of the most revolting retards on the planet and die Kaiser is bemoaning the fate of Ulster Unionism after punishing electoral defeat…and then an Internet acquaintance sends this….


Thanks Richard, it made my weekend and it’s only Friday night! Version four Flames of War out tomorrow and a competition to gear up for! Stay tuned and send in more anti-depressive advice!

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The Pikeman’s Lament: The flames are stamped out!

 

When I last wrote the Parliamentary horse had been halted by the resolute musketeers in the Royalist centre. It would take the intervention of the company commander to break the impasse. Charging over the remains of the fallen, the horsemen finally broke through.

image

With only two riders remaining the gallant horsemen careered into the die-hard Royalist horse who were just entering the fray to the rear. Their luck would hold and the Cavaliers were similarly dismissed. But the King’s men had learnt from the experience of many battles. Frantically the crew of a battalion gun trained their piece on the victorious Roundheads….

And at this point fate would take a hand. Within the ranks of the Parliamentary ranks one man stepped forward- calling for an end to tyranny and the rights of the Earth’s toilers- the men were obviously inspired to finish their dirty work. Two volleys decimated the Papist artillery piece

The mention of Papists had a similar effect on the Ulstermen. The King would regret paying for their passage. Volley after volley poured into what was left of the Royalist foot.

The protestations of their discomforted officer were not enough to get the Royalist musketeers to support the final thrust of their pikemen into the village. More Parliamentary horse were approaching on the Fairwater road. The vanguard was lost and the main Royalist army would have to fight to cross at Saint Fagans.image.jpeg

It had been a truly inspiring first game of The Pikeman’s Lament. To conclude, the forces are manageable but you are faced with quite believeable command decisions. If you want troops to risk a volley, or move the more reluctant units, you risk losing the all important initiative. The possibility of special events are a bonus. I did lose my artillery but gained ferocious infantry units! I think the game is eminently scale able but of corse I’m on a budget! But, a few more dragoons wouldn’t hurt…..

join me tomorrow for a Black Powder disguised scenario ( that isn’t that well disguised)

God bless dear reader!