Monday, October 15, 2018

October 2018 Northern Conspiracy Game Day - Operation Avalanche - Allied Invasion of Italy at Salerno

Saturday, the Northern Conspiracy gathered for a game day centered around Operation Avalanche - the Allied invasion of Italy at Salerno. To the left, club president Ed M. kicks things off with a rousing talk to the troops about logistics and the day.

Below are photographs of the four tables the hosts set up to accommodate the possible 20-24 attendees we've been seeing at recent game days. Turnout was very light at only 12 players, so instead of running all the tables under-staffed with players, we decided to run two tables at full capacity. This was a choice I think everyone found worked out well.

For the "Tobacco Factory" table we had German players of John, Byron and Guest Josh (not pictured). Opposed to them were Bob, Kevin and Phil as the Scott's guards.

Early in the game Bob deployed his 17 pounder AT gun to cover the open area on the river side of the complex. The Bren carrier which was towing the AT gun was immediately destroyed by fire from the German Stug III stranding the AT gun where it was. Later combined fire from two infantry squads and an SdKfz 222 armored car finished off the British AT gun.

As an effort to counter the 222 and avoid incoming Stug fire, the British 'Honey' Stuart withdrew to the river and took a pot shot at the 222. For the rest of the battle both the 222 and the Stuart broke for tea - their commanders focusing their efforts elsewhere.

With threats at the river countered the Stug took up a position on the far side of the complex. The British countered with their Sherman, which bounced first one, then four additional main rounds off the Stug, silencing it.

Kevin aggressively attacked the central most building of the complex, nicknamed the 'keystone' as it was the key to controlling the complex with each side having equal amounts of the complex controlled. Kevin's troops pressed the Germans well, eventually falling and being replaced by another British infantry unit.

The Germans also lost an infantry unit in the fray replacing it as well. As night began to fall (in game and in reality) a desperate situation arose and the fighting accellerated (GM put the assault into sudden death mode) with each unit giving the other their best. As the battle drew to a close, the German infantry commanded by guest Josh was just able to outlast Kevin's guards. The result, a marginal German victory with possession of the Tobacco Factory for another day - this was the historical result as well.

One last photo of Ralph's beautiful table. More great photographs of both battles can also be seen at club member Michael B's flicker page and Rob's Imgur page.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Salerno 'Tobacco Factory' - Part 6 - The Road to Salerno

The primary reason for the multi-day battle for the Salerno 'Tobacco Factory' was the bridge over the stream that passed directly by the complex. That stream had a road running parallel to it. I have to admit, my 28mm roads have been quite embarrassing. I have alternately used plain brown felt or sprinkled grit as roads in my games. For this game I decided I needed to up my game. I chose a technique stolen off the Internet.

The technique involves coloring latex caulk with paint, spreading over cloth, texturing followed by painting and flocking. Most people choose canvas, but I wanted to use felt due to it being non-woven. I felt that would allow me to spread the caulk more thinly allowing the roads to remain more flexible. The felt also grips my felt table covers more firmly causing the roads to slip less. Below are some of the sections I made. The last two photos show the reverse of the roads and one going over a small hill. After this game day I plan to make more sections with some utility pieces such as a crossroads, 'T' and 'Y' sections. Making these is relatively simple and given my limited artistic talent, easy to execute.

I have chosen not to show a final photo of the completed table. That will be revealed on Saturday at the game day. I should have photos from those games posted early next week. Here is a photograph of everything packed up ready to travel to the function hall on Saturday!

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Salerno 'Tobacco Factory' - Part 5 - Weathering and Collapsed Buildings

More progress on the Salerno Tobacco Factory terrain. Here you can see the collapsed building sections. Also a big 'thank you' to my uncle who stopped by today and helped me put some weathering and wear paint effects on the buildings and also helped do the detail painting on the collapsed buildings. I still have another evening of detail painting and weathering, including adding some bullet holes and damaging the roofs, but we're getting closer!

One detail was where to put damaged sections on the rear of the buildings to allow players to access them. I decided to let the players choose their entrance points. A quick blast with a panzershrek or bazooka will open up a hole in the building at the location of their choosing. I made these nifty breech markers that can be placed wherever the player's troops make a hole.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Salerno 'Tobacco Factory' - Part 4 - Raising the Roof

When I started this project, I knew it was going to be a lot of work. I had no idea until I was 32 hours into scratch building seven separate roofs from plywood and model railroad polystyrene roof tile sheets exactly how much. Here is the complex with all of the buildings that will be intact during the battle.

The rest of the buildings were destroyed by bombing or direct fire during the battle and will be represented by rubble. Some of the facades shown in the previous post will be part of that rubble. Initially I thought I might have those destroyed buildings represented mostly intact. I changed my mind when I realized how dominating the complex is on the tabletop. Rubble can be seen over and crossed by tanks, buildings cannot. 

Each of the roofs is removable to allow figures to be placed inside the buildings. This is a key mechanic for Iron Cross, and will also be useful for Bolt action.

Close-ups of some of the buildings are below. Still to be done, adding more weathering and battle damage.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Salerno 'Tobacco Factory' - Part 3

Work continues on the Salerno tobacco 'factory' terrain for game day. Completed are the base units for all of the large buildings and two of the smaller wedge-shaped buildings. The rest of the smaller wedge-shaped buildings are placed in un-assembled so I could get a sense of the scale of the piece. It's HUGE. The grey mat is 4' x 6'.

The wedge-shaped buildings each side of the ruined building were completely destroyed in the bombing of the complex. I'm likely to make those more rubble piles, lower in height due to the lighter mass of the shorter buildings. This will also allow armor a point of ingress. The same approach will be taken on the wedge building lower left. Lower right the wedge and large building will also be destroyed rubble. These pieces are still to be created.

Two and a half weeks to go. I'm in full brown alert on this. Moving as quickly as I can. The Mrs. came down to see why she hadn't seen me in days and said, "you're missing all the roofs"...yep, they're on the to-do list! Also on the to-do list is adding battle damage and weathering and making scatter rubble. If push comes to shove, piles of crushed coarse cork may suffice for the latter.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Northern Conspiracy September 2018 Game Night

Last Friday was our club's September game night. I played in Mark D's warm-up game for next month's Salerno Iron Cross game day. You can read more about Mark's gaming on his blog. Mark's battle pits his free French vs. the Germans in a meeting engagement. Mark's terrain, vehicles and figures are beautiful and all painted by Mark himself.

Bob and I were the Germans, Ed and Michael were the French. This game EVERYONE started out with hot dice. Stuff was dying fast. Mortars hit first time, every time.  This photo to the left shows what happens when the dice are this hot and you're daring enough to assume that they'll stay that way. Ed charged a single squad of bazooka-armed French infantry around to the German rear, waded through the hail of defensive fire, blew up a German 8-rad armored car, rallied off all it's hits, then took another run at the Panzer IV which escaped only due to additional defensive fire taken by the heroic French.

Many laughs were had - good fun. Congratulations for a well played game by Michael and Ed. Extra points for style.

Phil ran a game of Gauls vs. Romans using Ralph's Hannibal at the Gates rules. From what I heard this was a back-and-forth game with the Romans having early success and the Gauls surging late once their veteran units got stuck in.

Greg put on a beautiful Great Northern War game, featuring his lovely terrain and beautiful figures (see close-up). This game finished sooner than mine, so I didn't get a proper AAR from it. Apologies!

Mark has another write-up and more photos of this on his blog, My Brave Fusiliers.

Rob and Kevin stopped by to say 'hi' but couldn't stay to game.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Salerno 'Tobacco Factory' - Part 2

More progress on the terrain for October game day. I now have one of each type of large building roughly framed up with interiors still to paint. I have one ruined building 'in the raw' still needed to be painted. Here they are on a 'broken blacktop' Zuzzy Mat that I have dry brushed with earth tones to represent the factory's infield. On it are a sample of the craters that will fill the factory's courtyard.

After finishing for the night last night I realized to my horror, that the smaller wedge-shaped sections are too tall. They should be only a little taller than their (correctly-sized) doorways according to the photos. Fate was smiling on me though. I haven't glued them up so cutting them down should be a simple affair on my Dremel table saw.

Next up, continuing to work on preparing three more 'blanks' of the paint-layered plywood to make the rest of the building frames. Hopefully progress on this will start to approach a fever pace. I'm down to only a few weeks and I'm still only about 20% finished.

For the rubble in the ruined section, I used a base layer of pink construction foam. On top of it are over 100 bricks made by punching out thin craft foam with a square hole punch. With the bricks are various sizes and shapes of grit. I'm hoping when painted this will look enough like a correct pile of building rubble but still allow figures to be placed on it. I still have to make rubble piles for the outside. I'm going to make them out of hot-wired foam and more of the same rubble technique.