Friday 22 March 2019

Woking Wargames Day 2019

Spending a whole day just enjoying yourself can be quite exhausting, but that's what the various members of the Little Wars Revisited group (and a few others) did last weekend at the LWR Forum 2019 Games Day in Woking.  The event boasted five games played using 54mm toy soldiers and here's a taster of how it went:

Eric Kemp put on a skirmish game using his own rules set in the Schleswig-Holstein War and featuring his rather superb conversions

If you want to refight an obscure period like this in 54mm you have to go with metal figures (expensive and heavy to transport) or plastic conversions (requiring skill and time to make) so skirmish games rather than big battles are the order of the day.  And this shows what a spectacle you can provide with just a 4'x4' table and about 20 figures a side.

Anthony Morton brought out his "Little Legions" Zulu war collection for the Battle of Isandlwana using "The Portable Wargame" rules by Bob Cordery.

The modular terrain blocks are made by Mike Lewis of Black Hat Miniatures (who organises the Woking Wargames Day) and provides an infinite variety of options for landscaping a battlefield, its also idea for grid based games like The Portable Wargame.

Mike Lewis, mentioned above, staged a 19th Century game using his own Little Wars Revisited range of metal figures using a draft version of  "A Gentleman's War" rules which are due to be published right about now by Howard Whitehouse.

Keen eyed readers will recognise this layout as the battle of Hook's Farm from H G Wells' "Little Wars" an ideal scenario as A Gentleman's War is played in much the same manner as Wells' rules.

As you can see here, smaller scale buildings work perfectly well with 54mm figures, well I think so anyway.

My own humble efforts using Britains Deetail and various other converted figures, 
the rule system was "Battle Cry" by Richard Borg and the scenario selected was The Battle of Falling Waters

The beauty of a system like Battle Cry for an event like this is that it's very quick and easy to pick up an understanding of the rules.  On this occasion my opponent was already well versed in the Ancients version of the game so had a feel for the order of the game and lead his Confederates to a resounding victory over my numerically superior Federals. 

Tim Rose offered us "A Very British Civil War" using his own rules the game is set during the 1937 Tithe Wars in East Anglia, never heard of them? me neither but Tim gave us a very interesting potted history on the background of them.

I played this game in the afternoon session and thoroughly enjoyed it, it's a true toy soldier game with each individual figure counted as using whatever armament he's been made with, be it a grenade, rifle or anti-tank weapon. It's all very 1930's and introduces lots of factions like Fascist Blackshorts, Foresters, Yeomanry, Territorials, Anglican League and Communist Militia.

Tim did an admirable job as umpire, controlling the chaos we were  making on the table and occasionally adding to it by feeding in unexpected reinforcements.  A fast free flowing game and great fun.

It is nice to get your toys out of the shoebox once in a while and play with them.

Thursday 14 March 2019

Memoir 44 - Battle of Carpiquet in 54mm part 2

As part of Operation Windsor of 4th July 1944 the 8th Canadian Infantry Brigade advanced from the Normandy bridgehead to capture the airfield outside the village of Carpiquet and this is the scenario that Anthony and I chose to play using 54mm toy soldiers and the Memoir 44 game system devised by Richard Borg.

The Canadian armour advances, this game system is very much about the tanks, they have great mobility and firepower but their full potential can only be exercised in open country, their effectiveness is much diminished against troops in cover.

On the German left wing, infantry of both sides move cautiously forward, probing and making maximum use of terrain for cover.

The two panzer units on the German right wing have elite status, which gives them a marginal edge in tank on tank combat, they launched an all out attack and made short work of the opposing Shermans

Infantry have great resilience when in cover, several times the defenders were forced out of their positions but quickly regrouped and returned to the fray.

The Allied armour eventually broke out of the bocage but by then the panzers had command of the open ground and there was nothing for it but to fall back.

The game was fast paced and the outcome played out very similar to the original action in 1944, from that point of view we judged it to have worked well.  Visually it was nice to see the Britains Deetail figures on the table and six figure units looked about right but I think we need to work on the representation of built up areas (which I feel is an issue with grid based games) and perhaps some explosive blast markers.  It lasted about an hour and a half.

Elsewhere, the latest issue of Plastic Warrior magazine arrived in the post this morning (see PW link in column on the left), the Woking Games Day is being held this Saturday (for details see the Little Wars Revisited link in the column on the left) and we also have the London Toy Soldier Show coming up on the 30th March, so a busy few weeks ahead.

Wednesday 13 March 2019

Memoir 44 in 54mm - Battle for Carpiquet

For those that don't know (which included me until a couple of weeks ago), Memoir 44 is the WW2 version of the boardgame Battle Cry, more specifically it's about the campaign in Europe after the D Day landings in Normandy.  The scenario we chose to play was the drive on Carpiquet by the Canadians of 8th Brigade facing 12th SS Panzer Division, Anthony and I have adapted Battle Cry quite successfully to 54mm for the ACW and Zulu wars but how would it fare with WW2?

The initial set up, the Canadians have five armoured and eight infantry units, The Germans have three armoured (two of which are elite) and seven infantry units all in well prepared defensive positions.  The Canadians objective, the village of Carpiquet, is on the right hand baseline, half way up the table nestling behind the hills and woods.

Canadian infantry advance, probing the way for their armour.

On the Allied right, the Sherman tanks of the Sherbrooke Fusiliers rumble through the winding Normandy bocage......

......while the Panzer Grenadiers are dug in waiting for them.

On the Allied left the Canadians begin clearing the small villages of their defenders.

The seemingly endless grind through the bocage.

In the centre the Canadians make better going as the land opens to rolling fields.

The mat and toys were all Anthony's, infantry units are represented by six figures and armour by a single tank.

The mortar units look impressive, for the purpose of this game they count the same as any other infantry unit.

More tomorrow, or the day after, perhaps.

Sunday 3 March 2019

The Toy Soldier Artistry of Holger Eriksson

Lou Sandbote is a well known name among toy soldier collectors, he has been editor of the Holger Eriksson Collectors Society newsletter since the early 1990's and his enduring passion for the subject has been a great inspiration to all of us.  Since those early days there has always been talk of a book but it seemed as though it would never materialise, part of the problem being that it is a monumental story following the movements of several major characters across three Continents, new information was constantly coming to light and indeed it continues to do so.  The book is now published and here it is:

With just over 300 pages it contains pictures of 6,607 toy soldiers (I didn't count them but Norman Joplin says so in his Introduction to the book).  Chapters include a look at the individuals who made the figures, an Identification Guide, 54mm Comet-Authenticast and SAE, Malleable Mouldings, Eriksson's own connoisseur range, 30mm SAE and AHI figures.

A taster of the page layout and format of the book, every page is illustrated in full colour, it really is an inspiring piece of work.

This is a self published work so (at present) you can only order it direct from Lou Sandbote, 3521 Potomac Avenue, Highland Park, Texas, 75205 USA.  ISBN no. 978-0-692-08536-3.  I have Lou's email address but I'm not going to put it out on the internet, if you would like it please leave me a message.  Lou tells me that so far 200 copies have been printed and more than half have already been sold, so if you want a copy don't hang around, my copy cost $95 plus $69 p&p to the UK.