Saturday, December 29, 2012

Musket & Pike: Lützen 1632

Some musket & pike action for today. I was teaching the system to a newbie but still managed to.. I mean lost like a good mentor should! We played one of the most famous battles of the 30 years war, Lützen 1632. Its the battle were Gustav Adolf the great died.  We had to call the game after 6 hours or so, but I think the situation was pretty clear. I played the Imperial side and both my flanks were all but gone at that point so defeat was quite certain. Adolf died like he did historically, though.

I have to wonder. Most battles in the M&P series are quite long compared to how many turns we end up playing. Are we too eager to engage and get the battle over with when the result starts to be clear on turn 6/22?

Commentary embedded in the images.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

1:700 Airfix Titanic complete

As I mentioned earlier, my nephew got me a Titanic model kit for my 30th birthday. Even though I'm not much of a naval enthusiast (exc. age of sail), I was quite happy of his choice and started working on the kit this autumn. I converted it into a waterline model which proved challenging. In addition, this was the first model I do rigging on, which is probably the most difficult thing I've ever done modeling-wise. It was really, really hard to try and get the strings to look taut. Applying PVA glue to the strings helped a bit and I think it turned out ok. The Marconi aerial (the clothesline between the masts) was the most difficult bit. I'm happy it turned out the way it did.

The rigging and the water effects really took me outside my comfort zone, but I think those are the things that make an otherwise plain and dull looking model interesting. As for time, I think this model took maybe 30 hours of work all in all, but the time spent was quite fragmented.

I'll finish with a song by a finnish king of Disco that's been playing in my head through the whole goddamn project. Finns know what I'm talking about.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Echoes of times past: Korean police riot drill

Just look at that. I wonder if they can manage such discipline when it's for real. It's kind of sad it's meant against their own people though.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Digging up my family's war history

My family isn't exactly known for passing down oral history. I know my grandfather was a year or two too young to participate in the Continuation War, but he lost two brothers to the front. My grandfather never spoke about the wartime and died in 2005. My parents don't seem to know much more. So, all I really knew was that my grandfather's brothers had died in the war and they have been buried in the town of Säyneinen as I've visited their graves once.

In the past few years the Finnish state archives have been releasing materials on the war on the Internet, which would ordinarily been either classified or on a microfilm you have to go and view somewhere. I've been doing some genealogy research on my free time and bumped into records containing the date of deaths of my grandfather's brothers and the units they were serving with. Not much to go on.

However, a while back the Archive released the war journals of companies and regiments online as scanned images. Tonight I took the time to try and find the journals of the units the brothers served in and see if I could find any insight into how they died. I found more than I hoped for.

The eldest brother was the first to go. Arvo Einari Asikainen, unmarried, aged 23. Died 29.7.1941 in Ruskeala in the service of the 51st infantry regiment, company 7. The matching entry above says:

"29.7. Arrived 1.00. Tents up and to sleep. Artillery fire on both sides. Alarm at 11.00. Departure at 13.00. At 12.00 ammunition and handgrenade resupply. At 14.00 a russkie mortar round hit our march column. 3 dead and 13 wounded, including ltn. Esko Soininen. At 21.00 departure. Attack to the starting line. H-hour at 24.00. Before it lively artillery preparation in which small losses from our side."

Not too prosaic and they don't mention Arvo by name, but I assume he died when the marching column was hit by mortar fire, or in some sort of a firendly fire incident before an attack late that night.

EDIT: I showed these to my father and he said that grandfather had sometime mentioned that Arvo had been killed by friendly fire, so I suppose it's the latter then. So, I guess there's a bit of oral history there after all, If I can just dig it up :)

The second brother, Veikko Olavi Asikainen fell in Kusra at 24.7.1943. He was 21 at the time and also unmarried. He served with the 30th infantry regiment, company 3. It was a slow year in the war and the company spent their time doing drills, delicing, holding sports competitions and building a corduroy road. I read the journal back and they didn't seem to have had a hostile incident in a month or so. Then this happens:

"24.5.1943 13:00. Russkie shot approximately 15 grenades on the corduroy road between 'Nuoli' and 'Pönttö'. Pvt Hiltunen, Viljo fell. Pvt. Asikainen, Olavi seriously injured and pvt. Koistinen, Eino mildly injured. During the day we improved the position in the 'Summa' base and in front of 'Sarvi'"

Olavi is mentioned by name as being seriously injured and since the entry is from the day of his death, I assume he died on his way to the field hospital or something and the company commander didn't get word of his death.

Pointless, random deaths without glamour, but that's war for you. The entries were excting finds since I knew next to nothing about these young men.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Heads up to those interested in Battletech Quick-Strike

If you've been interested in getting your beer and pretzels mech action on, take a look here:

The Strategic Operations manual which contains the full rules for Quick-Strike is now on sale as a PDF for the agreeable sum of 10 United States Dollars. The book also contains stuff like aerospace warfare and rules for fighting Battletech on a grander scale. Other Battletech stuff is on sale as well. If you just want to play Quick-Strike it makes sense to buy the book as PDF and print out the stuff you need as you'll only need a small fraction of the books' pagecount.

Nope, I'm not affiliated with Rpgnow, but thought some of you might want to know about the deal.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Warcon 2012: ASL, Musket&Pike and Force on Force

Warcon, a small con held under the wing of the Finnish boardgames association was held in the city of Tampere this year, and I was able to attend for one day instead of the full weekend. I wasn't disappointed though as I got all the games on my wishlist played.

Third Reich being played at Warcon. It seems Germany again makes the mistake of letting political leaders determine military strategy.

First I played a pre-con game of ASL with a local player at his apartment. Nearly all the games of ASL I've played have been against the same opponent I've learned the rules with, so there were some fundamental errors we had made in our interpretation of the rules, it seems. Anyway, the scenario was D - Hedgehog of Piepsk. The scenario pits an overwhelming horde of Soviet conscripts against a few German squads hidden in a village. The Germans are badly outnumbered but have off-board artillery and deploy hidden. I won the match pretty much by marching over the defenders with conscripts and engaging them in melee. Didn't seem very balanced but I had a good time and had a chance to repair some falsely learned rules. Here's some pictures with commentary in the images:

I said goodbye to my opponent and went to the Warcon venue. The previous years have seen the event held in a cramped space in Helsinki with little to none parking space and expensive lodging. This years' event was held in Tampere at a cafeteria of the local stadium and I found it had plenty of playing space and good parking. You could also sleep on the floor there if on a tight budget. An excellent choice! I hope the event will be organized there for years to come.

Napoleon's triumph.
An excellent looking Lovecraftian skirmish game.

A gloomy atmosphere in the countryside of New England.

My second game for the day was a prearranged Musket&Pike match. We played the battle of Breitenfeld, which was the largest battle of the 30 years war. I've only played small games before and this one was way bigger than the ones before. The Musket&Pike system scales well however, and moving tens of thousands of men was quite quick once you decided what to do with them. Commentary embedded in the pictures again, I think the situation is easier to make out that way.

 In a nutshell the Swedish attacked on the right half of the field with good timing and rolls. The Catholics had a hard time defending and their cavalry all but melted away. My opponent suffered from rotten rolls, but he could have pressed against the Saxon wing of the Swedish army more aggressively, as they were poor quality troops and collapsed as soon as he started attacking them. We determined the game was already decided at the end of turn 5 of 12, and called it a day. The Catholics had lost several units more than the Swedes, as well as their army commander. The Catholics still had a chance I think, but it would have been an uphill struggle, especially with practically no way of preventing the Swedes from rolling over their artillery (very costly in VP's).

Casualties of the day.

My last game for the day was a game of Force on Force. I've heard a lot of good things about the rules and I was interested to try them out. Luckily the local wargamers brought a demo game to the event and had time to play it with me.
The scenario was set during a fictional escalation of Cold War hostilities in Europe. Soviet forces attack a small village held by Dutch troops. Both sides had about a platoon of troops and the Soviets also had a platoon of armored troop transports. The goal of the Soviets was to take the crossroads and prevent the defenders from getting away.

Opening setup. Soviets enter from the roads to the top, bottom and right of this image. Dutch troops hold the buildings.
The Soviets advance in the cover of the woods.
Dutch snipers open fire on the Soviet squad on the road.
The APC's open fire on the building but are all but destroyed themselves by the return fire.
A firefight ensues on the streets. The Dutch evacuate the buildings and the Soviets occupy the vacated territory.
Situation at the end. The APC platoon is destroyed and the Soviet forces have suffered casualties while taking the crossroads. All Dutch units are incapacitated.
The game was quick to learn and fast to play, exactly what I like in a miniatures game. The rules we used were quite basic though, and I didn't see what "it" was that makes the rules so highly thought of. Probably I'd need a game with the advanced stuff to become a convert, but it was great fun nonetheless!

At that point the clock was past 3 AM, and I had to drive to a wedding in Jyväskylä the next day, so I called it a night. I had a great day of games and got plenty of ideas for future projects.

Red Winter in progress as I prepare to leave in the morning.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Progress on the Titanic

I've managed to get a few hours in for my 1/700 Titanic model. I've done most of the assembly work up to the point where I'll need to undercoat the thing and paint the interior decks visible through the model before proceeding with assembly. The model originally features the complete ship on top of a plastic display stand, like so:

I think it looks a bit cheap and makes the model quite knock-overable, so I decided to put her in the water and do a sea base. I cut the hull with a carpet knife to a depth I checked from this cross section:

I sawed a piece of floor laminate to a size of 50 centimeters by 15 centimeters and glued the hull on it using a hot glue gun. So here's where I'm at:

I managed to break a thin plastic flagpole from the aft while dry fitting the sections together. I think it'll be easy to replace with a pin or something. Luckily I didn't break the mast, It looks really brittle. Next I will undercoat the hull black and the other portions off-white and start painting. My nephew who I got the model from came by to check on my progress and wondered why the model didn't come ready painted. Kids today, huh? Well, I got the chance to tell him why the model doesn't come already built and painted in the first place.