Wednesday, March 23, 2016


“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.” » Chinese Proverb

One of my projects for this year is rebasing the trees.   I had been using irregular shaped foam core board, but storing and transporting them resulted in the trees being squished or falling out.  So in order to fix this I bought 300 of the Litko 50mm hexes.  These were cheaper than the 2 inch/50mm ovals or circles.  
114 hexes completed.
A while back I had purchased 1600 trees from a Chinese Ebay dealer.  These are available in various sizes and are steeply discounted if you buy the 400 piece lots.  the are also available in dark green, medium green, and light green.   I chose dark green.  30mm, 35mm and 38mm tall trees were purchased. 

They can be found by searching for 400pc trees on Ebay.   In addition to the hexes and trees,  Woodland Scenics Blended Green ground foam was used for the hexes

Tools and equipment for the project were 1/16 and 5/64 drill bits (slightly smaller than 2mm), a sharp tool to enlarge the holes if need be,  an old #2 or #3 paint brush, needle nose pliers ,a 6x8 two inch deep container for the ground foam. and white glue.  Most of the tree trunks will fit in a 5/64 hole while about 10 to 20% will fit in the smaller 1/16 hole.   About 1 to 2% are too large for a 5/64 hole. 

The hexes were drilled in stacks of 10 in order to avoid drilling through the bottom of the stack.   six or seven holes were drilled in each stack.   A drop of glue was placed on each hole and the trees were inserted.   Those that fit too loosely in the 5/64 holes were inserted in the hexes with 1/16 holes.   Some needed a bit of persuasion to fit in the holes requiring the use of the needle nose pliers to grasp the trunk and push them in.  For those that were too large the holes were enlarged and then the trees were placed in the holes.   The trunks are twisted wire and the white glue forms a secure bond between the wooden hexes and wire trunks.

After the glue holding the trees had dried, I used the brush to spread a coating of white glue on the top of the hexes.  The bases were then dipped in a thn layer of ground foam in the 6x8 container and the excess was tapped off.  this was done to avoid getting the ground foam in the branches.

It takes about 3 hours to drill the hexes, insert trees, and glue the ground cover for 120 hexes.   I have finished about 240 hexes.   Additional trees have been ordered and some of the finished hexes will have one or two trees added to them.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

OPFOR at South Bay Game Club

The Battle of Santa Clara

At the March meeting of the SBGC I ran  OPFOR  the modern warfare supplement for PanzerKorps from Hoplite Research.  Manny Granillo commanded the 7th Brigade of the Peoples Democratic Republic of Cucaracha army, consisting of one T90 battalion, two BMP2 batalions, two BTR battalions, and one SP122mm artillery battalion.   Greg commanded the German Brigade of the Federal Union of Buena Vista consisting of two Puma battalions, one Leopard 2A6 battalion, and one SP155 battalion.

The La Cucaracha infantry battalions each had a 120 mortar battery attached.  The brigade also had three ATGM companies,  two recon companies and three FOs available for attachment to any battalion.   The La Cucaracha brigade was rated as reservists.  The commander was rated as career.  Each battalion received one decorated leader and two decorated leaders were kept at brigade level.

The Buena Vista battalions each had four companies.  The tank battalion cross attached two of its tank companies with the two infantry battalions.  This gave the two infantry battalions three Puma infantry companies, one Leopard company, one mortar battery, and one FO.  The tank battalion had two Leopard companies, two Puma companies, and an FO.  There were also two recon companies and one ATGM available to be attached to any battalion.  The tank battalion received a recon company and the infantry battalions split the other two companies.  The Buena Vistans were rated as regular.   Each battalion received two decorated leaders and one decorated leader was kept at brigade level.  Both sides  used red decision dice.

The game was played at one centimeter = 100 meters instead of the one inch = 100 meters scale on page 6.  Direct fire ranges were adjusted accordingly and converted to inches.   Movement was kept at the full amount of inches per turn instead of reducing to centimeters.   The battlefield was six feet square.  This converts to an 18km by 18km area.  The companies are based on 50mm(two inch) wide bases. At this scale a battalion could cover and defend a 5km wide zone as mentioned in several cold war documents.
Several views of the battlefield.  The buildings are from PaperTerrain.

Greg won the initiative for the first day segment and rolled for four turns.  His battalions entered in three separate zones.  Manny chose to enter in two road columns on the left half of his edge.  The opposing forces were unable to see each other until the fourth turn of the first day segment.  The Buena Vistans made use of cover preventing them from being seen, but were able to see the advancing La Cucarach forces and opened fire with the two infantry battalions at long range causing minor damage.   The Buena Vista tank battalion bogged down and did not advance for two turns due to low activation die rolls.   The Buena Vista army had a +1 die modifier for the decorated leader, but a -3 modifier for only having four battalions.
Towards the end of the first day segment.  Buena Vista on the left.  La Cucaracha on the right.
La Cucaracha infantry advances towards the central town.

Greg again won the initiative for the second day segment and rolled for three turns.   He immediately brought his artillery down on the two La Cucaracha infantry battalions near the middle of the table.  His middle infantry battalion advanced to the central town, while his right flank infantry battalion exchanged fire with the La Cucaracha tank battalion.   Almost every time Greg fired with the infantry battalion he would roll a one on the attack die.   What allowed his battalion to cause damage were the modifiers for the attachments.   These were +2 for the Leopard company +1 for the mortar company, +2 for the ATGM company, +1 for the Puma weapon modifier, and +2 for being equipped with ATGMs.   There was also a +1 for being at short range.  This was reduced by -2 for the T90 defense factor.
Buena Vista forces occupy hills east of the towns.
While the T90s engaged the opposing Buena Vista infantry battalion the two infantry battalions behind them moved towards the center of the table to help the other two infantry battalions that were having difficulties with the other Buena Vista infantry battalion and the artillery barrage.  The other Buena Vista infantry battalion had fewer die modifiers due to not having the ATGM company that the other had.   One of the two center La Cucaracha infantry battalions had taken too much damage from the artillery barrage and was unable to advance.   The other one was able to advance, but was driven back by the opposing Buena Vista infantry losing a decorated leader and the mortar company..   As it was being driven back the Buena Vista tank battalion had finally arrived near the central town, having spent several turns consulting their maps and asking directions from the local peasants. 
Fighting intensifies.  The two La Cucaracha infantry battalions on the left would come under artillery fire during the second day segment when east (right of the town on the left.

Manny won the initiative for the third day segment and rolled for two turns.   He had brought the two left flank infantry battalion up on the hill overlooking the central town during the previous day segment.  Greg had also moved his central infantry battalion up on the hill and the Leopard battalion in front of the town on the previous turn.   Manny called in his artillery on the infantry at the hill and forced them to fall back, losing one decorated leader and the recon company.  The fire from the Leopard battalion was devastating to the two infantry battalions that were caught in the artillery blast zone.   Other than the one turn where one of them had advanced towards the town, they spent six turns within the artillery blast zone.   The Leopard battalion had the following modifiers to its die roll.  -2 for being only two companies, +4 to its fire die, +1 for each for each of the two Puma companies, +2 for ATGM on the Pumas, +1 for the recon company, and +1 for superior weapon.
Leopards making short work of the opposing infantry.   One battalion has already routed and the second would soon follow.   The Buena Vista infantry battalion on the top right had just fallen back from the artillery fire (white die on top of other hill), but would soon recover and rout the opposing infantry battalion.

The Leopards caused both infantry battalions to rout, while the central Buena Vista infantry battalion was able to rout another infantry battalion.   At this point the La Cucaracha army morale failed and they withdrew from the battle.  Greg's plan for the next few turns was to pin the two infantry battalions and tank battalion with his two infantry battalions while the Leopard battalion finished off the central infantry battalions and then sweep around behind the La Cucaracha right flank.

Miniatures are from GHQ.  Buildings are from PaperTerrain.  Trees are from an Ebay dealer.  Battlefield is two foot square interlocking rubber tiles 

 The battle started about 11:00 as several of the club members had brought items for sale, trade or for free.   Thanks to Lawrence for giving me a copy of Vis Bellica.   We finished about 1:15.  This was an average of one turn every 15 minutes.  Using the 1cm = 100 meters scale, while keeping the full normal move resulted in a more dynamic and quick moving game.   The opposing forces were able to maneuver without becoming completely bogged down in a linear slugging match.  Force density was also about the same as that of the Second Armored Divisions attack on the Medina Division during the First Gulf War.   For those who may be interested in reading about the First Gulf War there is a free book from the army center with maps of the battles at Jayhawks  The Second Armored attacked the Medina division on a 30 km front (a ten foot wide table at 1cm = 100 meters)

Saturday, March 12, 2016

5Core Brigade Commander playtest

We did a playtest of 5Core Brigade Commander at the January Miniature Wargaming Society of Sacramento meeting.   Gary, Hal, Keith, and Rob took part in the game.   Both sides had twelve tank companies and twelve mechanized infantry companies.   We did make a few modifications to the rules for the game.   Ground scale was altered to 1 cm = 100 meters from the 1 inch = 100 meters, a dismountable infantry base was added to the IFV base allowing the infantry to dismount to occupy terrain while the IFVs moved in support,  and a pair of dice was used for activation instead of the single 6 sided die.   This was done to cut down on the frequency of scurry or firefight turns.   If the dice matched and were even then it was a firefight and if they matched and were odd it was a scurry.   Otherwise the total of the two dice was added to three and that was the number of company sized formations that the player could move.   Each player rolled for their own command and had twelve companies.

Another modification we made was to the activation rules.  Normally only one third of the units are activated per turn with a minimum of three.  We changed that to 3 plus the total of the two dice rolled at the start of each turn.

We did not use any of the attachment rules.   These are smaller than company sized formations that are added to a company base providing enhancements such a s Recon, Engineer, AA, etc.

Overall the game played faster than other rules we have used and reached a conclusion.  Discussion after the game suggested changing the activation rolls to only a matching pair of ones for a scurry turn, and a matching pair of sixes for a firefight.   It was felt that scurry turns happened with too much frequency.

There are a number of problems with the ground and unit scales and weapons ranges.   The rules state that  one inch  = 100 meters and troops should be based on 3 inch stands though the basing is contradicted later in the rules.  The problem with this is that the minimum frontage for a company is 500 meters or more.  This would be a five inch base.   Since my models are mounted on 5cm bases the ground scale was altered to 1cm = 100 meters.   Movement and weapons ranges were left as they were in the rules.   This fixed a problem with the weapon ranges.   In the rules the normal range for a tank gun is 12 inches with an extended range of 18 inches for advanced sights.   This would only be 1200 meters and 1800 meters respectively.  This would be fine for World War 2, but not for contemporary tanks with ranges in excess of 3 kilometers.   Changing the ground scale resulted in a normal range of 3000 meters and an extended range of 4500 meters.

Another problem is the artillery rules and terms.   The author uses "packets" for small amounts of indirect fire weapons attached to companies, but does not define the term.  Depending on army and organization this could be anywhere from 2 to 6 or more indirect fire weapons.  An example is given of a Soviet artillery battalion being broken up and a battery attached to an infantry or tank company.  The other term is the stonk.   The problem with this term is that the number of batteries that compose a stonk is not defined.   Packets fire a single suppression die, while stonks use a kill and two suppression dice.   The question is - are all three batteries in an off table battalion used together to create a single stonk or does each battery fire its own stonk?  There are other problems with the indirect fire rules that do not take into account the capabilities of some nations to direct a lot of accurate fire from multiple battalions of artillery or the inability of others to direct more than a single battery.

I don't know if we will use these rules again.   We still have a couple more sets of rules to try.  These are FFT3 and OPFOR.

We played the game on the 2x2 rubber mats that I got from Amazon.  I have finished painting and texturing half of them.  I put the road in the center of each edge and offset the water ways by 4 inches.   This was done to allow the water ways to avoid straight lines and 90 degree forks.  This also allows a greater variety of forks than placing the rivers in the middle of each edge.

Below are some pictures from the game.

 The game table 
 another view
 opposing forces engage.
 Action between Keith and Hal.
 Keith, in front, and Hal
 Gary, on the left, and Rob
Action between Gary and Rob