This Week


Intro to the Dark July map.

As scenario 1 gets set up, there is a new intro post (link below) looking at the background to Operation Citadel and the Dark July map / terrain and mention of the rather convoluted start to the Lloyd Clark book.

Scenario 1 only uses the left hand half of the map.



A bit of a Kursk theme is planned for July. 

It just so happens that 5th July will be the 75th anniversary of the opening of the German 1943 summer offensive. A campaign (Operation Citadel) that was monumental in terms of the direction of the war and renown for the huge tank battles fought around Prokhorovka.

Dark July, is the Lock ‘n Load Tactical boardgame module that covers the tactical level fighting in the region just west of Prokhorovka and specifically at the Oktiabrski State Farm and Hill 252.2 

The module has six scenarios, with one of them using a full sized map. I happen to have the X-Maps, which are essentially doubled in size, so you get a larger gaming hex as it stretches a one map game into a two map space.

To coincide with gaming the module, I am reading Kursk - The Greatest Battle, Eastern Front 1943 by Lloyd Clark and published by Headline Review. This has been on the ‘to read’ list for too long and if the opening pages are anything to go by, this should be a good read.

It talks about a Tiger company being charged across the steppe by 100 T34’s first identified at a mile out and then suddenly the T-34’s disappear from sight as they drop into a fold in the ground, only to re-emerge half a mile out. It’s the kind of first hand account that helps us understand those ‘to hit’ numbers in our games, even when the ground looks featureless and flat. The Tigers inflicted great carnage, but some T-34’s got through and four Tigers were damaged. It has T-34’s shooting on the move as they close in and the Tigers moving to get better firing positions. All that sort of stuff really helps visualise what out games should be doing.


Arnhem by Beevor.

This is his latest title and is well told in his easy read, but factual and detailed style that knits the story of the overall campaign at the senior command level, right down the many stories and experiences of the individual soldiers and the citizens of the local populations. I do like the way that at various points in the book, he adds personal opinion such as ‘no doubt this was the right course of action’, which helps shape the way that the reader views the various capabilities and character of the commanders from a position of hindsight.

The first 70 pages of the book looks at the various planning stages and gives some insight into the personalities of the senior Allied Commanders, which frankly is often unflattering and then the account of the campaign that brings together four distinct aspects, the desparate struggle in the various paratrooper battles, the drive of XXX Corps to reach the bridges, failures at the planning / command level and both the bravery and the missery suffered by the local populations. The individual stories show the best and worst of people and the whole read is a thought provoking exercise, from a pen that does this sort of thing so well. 

I was left feeling very much more informed, but also somewhat dismayed by war itself. He does a good job at making this emmotional connection with the facts of matter.


Phoenix Wargame show 2018.

This is a small frindly event that sees 19 traders abd 7 game tables plus a couple of tournaments and it is set in a modern eco friendly centre within the beautiful county of Cumbria.

I found some traders who were new to me, plus I picked up a few items that I had not come across before, including some interesting and rather nicely presented English Civil War rules and some pre-formed plastic hlls done in the old Belona style, but in heavier plastic.

There is a full report of the show on the blog at the below link




For moving and shifting through stacks of counters in boardgames.  

I have been looking for long legged tweezers with a fairly wide gait and an angular head, so that counters on crowded maps can be moved easily without banana fingers sending the counters flying all over the place and knocking over stacks.

Nobody seemed to know what I was talking about in the beauty shops on the high street, but an E-Bay search came up with ‘London College Tweezers Serrated Tip Dental Surgical Instruments CE UK’. Anyway after that bit of specialism posh, it turns out they can be yours for just £2 post included.

I had to widen the arms a little just by gently prising them apart and now they seem to do the job just fine.


Austerlitz from Hexasim.

Having become quite familiar with Ligny, last night we opened the campaign game and played the first 4 turns of Austerlitz

The fog, mostly fixed orders for the first few turns and concealment (we used movement sleds) made for a fascinating and very engaging opening to the campaign.

As the French player, I had Davout on the right and far forward, his forces did a magnificent and surprising job of holding back the initial intentions of the enemy, getting most of his reinforcements onto the board to join him, while roughly holding his position.

I had Murat move the Cavalry Corps out on the right to go down and support him.

On the left I had Bernadote and Lannes pushing out to cover that flank.

In the Centre, I had Soult positioning ready to strike out into the now large gap between the enemy centre and their left flank, with a view to them hitting the outer left flank of the centre via that gap and the Imperial Guard and Grenadiers were setting up to smash into the front of the centre, to help make Soult's manoeuvre decisive.

Then suddenly helped by the fog of war, the Russian Guard popped up on my centre left and my own Guard were revealed, followed by a clash between these two important formations. The Russian Guard were roughly handled and then in my 2nd activation, I had the Guard just fire, so that I did not suffer counter-fires and a good run of dice brought about step losses and retreats. The edge had definitely been taken off the Russian Guard, I was still respectful of their capacity, but perhaps a bit less fearful.

At the start of turn 5, I rolled 6 for orders (minus 3) gave me 3 orders plus the Davout special order. Mike rolled for the Allies and got 'no orders', so would have to rely on his army commanders in the up-coming turn.

Though the evening's play stopped there for us, I felt as the French Player, that the initiative was with me and that re-ordering would help me destroy the centre (a plan which involved taking Murat's cavalry from the right and having Davout ((alone)) just keep falling back, absorbing the ebnemy advance, while the enemy centre was destroyed).

We felt that the way the game unfolded and the dynamic of orders and hidden forces, made the first 4 turns an interesting part of the game in it's own right.  

We hadn't played since February, so there was a bit of rule delving and these rules do have some fine nuances tucked away, but we felt that between the two of use, we pretty much got back into the swing of things quite quickly.


Arnhem by Beevor.

This is his newest title, just hitting the shops in hardback.

We have a local mobile library service and the staff on there know my reading interests, so it was rather nice that they had seen this title and snaffled it for me.

Being on loan, it jumps to the front of the reading queue and feeds into my 2018 ‘re-organisation of hobby’ to get back into the reading habbit and to try and match the subject to whatever is on the gaming table. By chance, I am just going through the Heroes of Normandy module from Lock ‘n Load, which includes the old ‘swift and Bold’ expansion that was built around the British Paratrooper actions, so all told, this has been quite a fortuitous matching ....... hoorah for libraries!

Edit - a few chapters into this enjoyable read as it looks at the initial planning stages and reveals the rather dismaying egotistical fractures within the senior Allied command, compelling reading so far.


Lock ‘n Load tactical have just updated their rules from V4.1 to V5.

Their release is imminent and having some early access to the rules, I have blogged about changes to the rules format and as to which new rules made it ... and what didn’t!

There is also a brief AAR, just to highlight a few points.

This just gives an early look for those interested.


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