Commanders, a wargame digest

Commanders, a wargame digest


Dear Diary - a rolling 6 months of comment

12 Apr 2022

Magnifier for painting

For a few years, I have used a head fitted magnifier that had variable strength lenses and that could fit over my normal prescription glasses. They used to have a small (useless) headlamp, but that broke, so I have been on the lookout for a replacement solution.

Anyway, while away on a short break, I came across these. They fit over glasses (tick), they have built in lightweight lighting (tick) and they magnify at 160% (tick).

While my variable can magnify to 350% and higher (with lens combinations), very high strength is actually counter productive because you have to bring the figure really close to the eyes and the depth of field is so shallow, that a certain amount of difficulty, including induced motion sickness becomes counter-productive.

So I generally have them set at x1.5, which is fine and it is basically what these do. These also look like they will be a lighter device, with the small LED lights being re-chargeable and powered off a USB link.

Anyway, the next painting job will tell whether this was a good buy or not. 

8 Apr 2022

OST rules with figures

A very easy conversion of OST hex boardgame rules to the open table, converting 1 hex to 1” using 1/144 scale figures.

This was just a trial knock-about on my ‘Pinboard Wars’ board, to see whether  the basic principles of the boardgame translate to the table easily enough … and they do.

This was just a clash of 3 Shermans against 2 Panthers and I suppose the photograph tells it’s own tale.

I have put a bit more detail up on BoardGameGeek, which shows the various stages of action. LINK

7 Apr 2022

Old School Tactical game

Elcherath  18th December 1944 - Scenario 2 from the Phantom Division module.

Near St. Vith, the Americans are counter-attacking to recapture the village of Elcherath and nearby high ground.

This photo shows the part of the attack against one of the ridge positions at the top of the map. This is a two mapper scenario in the pocket battles format.

To get this far, the Americans have taken heavy infantry casualties to Sergeant Russo’s 1st Platoon, so 2nd platoon under Captain Holland and Lieutenant Clayton have paused in a blind spot just under the ridge, while two Sherman tanks (under the blue used counters) move up to support the final push onto the end of the ridge (more info under the Old School Tactical tab in the menu column on the left). 

6 Apr 2022

Epic to the Pinboard

I have just been trying out a few of the Warlord Games Epic bases to see how they might look / work on the pinboard.

The commander and foot artillery piece have been primed, painted and based and look quite promising.

For the infantry, I have slightly trimmed down both ends of the bases, as otherwise there is a too noticeable gap between stands that annoys my eye. The gap is still there, but now significantly reduced.

I am hoping that just two bases will be able to represent a formation when in line and three bases can be used when in column for best visual effect.

The front rank of the infantry have been permanently glued onto the base and this is where they will be painted. The rear rank is temporarily glued down and will be removed and put onto a painting stick once I get to that point.

1 Apr 2022

Planning for Bataille Empire

Bataille Empire has measurements made in Units of Distance - called UD. Basing is very flexible, but they assume a unit will be built from two bases and that one UD would measure the same as one of these bases - in effect 1 UD per half the frontage of a unit.

So if you have a unit built from 4 bases, then the UD would equal two of those bases. For preliminary testing, I have made a measuring stick that has 1 UD being 6 centimetres. This will allow me to test with  EPIC scale figures at two bases per line unit and also my 28mm, which sit on 80mm bases. While the latter should really use a UD of 8cm, keeping it at 6 won’t matter too much in practical terms and will help reduce the impact of bigger figures on a smaller table.

The system uses D6, but there is an optional rule that allows for some gentler effects by swapping out the D6 for Average Dice (numbered 2,3,3,4,4,5 instead of 1,2,3,4,5,6).

The yellow acrylic template is from Charlie Foxtrot and allows the 45˚ firing angles to be calculated.

1 Apr 2022

Wargames Illustrated

The April issue has hit UK high street shelves (WH Smith). This month carries a free plastic sprue of Warlord Games 28mm British / Canadian infantry.

Plenty in the issue, though it could still do with being a bit more scale diverse. However, there is a good 5 page designer notes style article on the Strength and Honour system, which uses 2mm massed armies of the ancient world.

There is a nifty article with an attractive table on recreating Isandlwana with The Men Who Would Be Kings rule set, plus a look at the upcoming ancient naval wargame set from Room 17 Games. 

31 Mar 2022

Napoleonic Rules

Well, the Borodino game adds to my Hougoumont (3 times), St. Amand (twice), Plancenoit and Ligny boardgames games played this year, so I am on a bit of a Napoleonic roll. This has had me wanting to progress with the ‘from scratch’ figure armies and to check out my various rules.

It was nice to pull Bataille Empire by Hervé Caille from the shelf to re-aquaint myself with this system. It has two pluses for me, one being that it is friendly towards smaller tables and secondly, everything you need is in the one volume, including a generous array of army lists - so you don’t have to buy into other volumes ….. hooray!

The intro scenario is a non-historical, balanced game, with a symmetrical table and symmetrical forces, with a choice of any army pairing that players happen to own.

Each side gets 4 x line infantry, 1 x 6-pdr battery, 2 x grenadier units, 2 x light cavalry and 1 x dragoons, so not a bad sized force for the new player to aspire to. Table size is suggested as 120cm x 80cm.

30 Mar 2022

The fighting dies down!

Both sides broadly stuck with their initial plans. For the Russians, this was simply to stand their ground for as long as possible, to deny the French their objective hexes.

The French plan was to attack in the centre to take ground and to use their cavalry to stretch and envelope the Russian left flank around Utitsa, but in this game, they would as much as possible try to use their artillery to weaken the defences before attacking.

The French use of artillery did mean that their infantry did not suffer the big losses that they did in my last game, however, overall, their attack / progress was slower as each turn, attacks generally were not made in those areas that  created ineffective fire.

In the end, it was the Russian losses that opened up the game and on the last couple of turns some of their main defences fell and the French controlled the line of The Great Redoubt, Sememovskie Fletches and Utitsa. They took Semenovskaya in the centre, but failed at the last moment to dislodge 11th Infantry (IV Corps) from Gorki.

Counting up the French Victory points, we get a French Tactical victory. Had they taken Gorki, they could have moved this up one level to a Minor French win.

30 Mar 2022

The Grand Redoubt

It is the start of turn 7 in a 16 turn game. The French have taken the village of Borodino and crossed the Kolocha River. Here is a natural choke point, but the French have been able to expand the bridgehead to get enough troops over to put pressure on the top part of the Grand redoubt.

Part of the high ground has been taken, but the redoubt itself still holds firm (12th Infantry and VII Corps artillery) as an anchor point of the Russian line,

The fighting here will die down for a short while, as the French are heavily disordered and will need time before they can launch their next assault.

Further down the defensive line, the Russians still hold Sememovskie Fleches, but have lost Utitsa on their far left flank.

French heavy cavalry are probing beyond Utitsa, hoping to turn the Russian flank here, but the Russian Guard have been deployed to block their path, while the French too have committed some Guard units to the assault on Schevardino. 

At this point in time, the Russians have suffered the most losses and neither side has much spare capacity in the form of reserves …… as with the historical battle, this is shaping up to be a grinding assault.

29 Mar 2022

Borodino 1812

The Most terrible Battle - Borodino 1812, published by White Dog Games, goes onto the table.

The photo shows the opening positions in the top part of the map, centred upon The Great Redoubt. The Russian line goes down the map, through the Sememovskie Fleches and on to Utitsa.

Having not played the French so well in my last playing, this time I am going to look for better employment of their plentiful cavalry, which in the last game got mired just above Utitsa.

There are just 4 pages of rules to this system, so it has been an easy one to get back to the table.

For more information, there is a write-up on the Battlefields and Warrior blog of a previous playing. LINK

26 Mar 2022

Victrix Panthers 1/144

Here are two of the now completed pack of six Panther tanks from Victrix, though I doubt that I will ever need that many!

They are set up here with a latex field from Timecast and a row of their poplar trees, all perfectly suitable for the ‘Pinboard Wars’ setup.

With six Panthers and the Previous six Shermans done, small knockabouts on the Pinboard, testing gun mechanics of various rules, will look a bit more attractive than the bare plastic did. 

21 Mar 2022

‘O’ Group module

Just downloaded to the latest module for David Brown’s ‘O’ group from the Lardies site.

This is a 53 page PDF document basically covers two things, army lists and 6 scenarios. The scenarios are battalion sized plus assets and have nice maps in full colour and good terrain notes.

Recommended table sizes for 15mm and less is 6’ x 4’ (or 5’), so fully workable for my 10 / 12mm stuff. For 20mm and above they suggest 7’ x 5’ (or 6’).

The scenarios are stand-alone, though you can link them by accumulating points in each scenario to give an overall campaign score to assess your breakout / containment success.

20 Mar 2022


The Plastic Soldier Company T-34 kits come with both the 76mm and the 85mm guns, each in their own version of the appropriate turret.

I painted up the T-34’s as 76mm versions a few weeks ago, but decided before moving on to other vehicles, to get the 85mm turrets done as well.

I should really have done all of this as a single batch so that everything was an exact match colour wise. As it turns out, they are close enough not to offend :-)

I picked up the field at the Hammerhead wargame show a couple of weekends ago from The Tree Fellas (terrain company).

19 Mar 2022

40th Mississippi

The latest 28mm ACW regiment moves off the painting table. This Confederate unit has been flagged up as the 40th Mississippi, the distinctive flag originally sold by Redoubt Enterprises.

I picked the flag up at the Hammerhead wargame show simply because I have never seen a flag with a tree on it, so it will give a bit of visual diversity amongst the rank and file.

The photo is a bit overblown by the combination of camera flash and bright sunlight coming from the window, but they look fine to the eye in normal lighting.

This brings the ACW Pocket Army force to 6 infantry regiments, 1 cavalry regiment (mounted and dismounted), 3 guns and two mounted officers, enough to do the Neil Thomas sized games. Having got the armies to a playable size, I can just drip feed new units in as I rotate between periods to help keep painting interest fresh.

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