Monday, 31 May 2021

Italians and Ascari for East Africa WW2 - 15mm

 East Africa - Italian and Colonial forces

House move more or less complete (don't look in the garage ...) I've been able to spend some time on the Italian forces and their allies for CoC East Africa 1940-41. The setting even had a first run out last Thursday and boy, did I see how powerful the Italian "squadra" can be on the defensive.

It's fun to fiddle with the rules a bit and I'm thinking through a "Filthy Fascist Fraud" - an equivalent to a Shabby Nazi Trick. There were quite a few occasions in East Africa where a white flag was raised to trick Empire troops out of cover ... I'm sure it was all a misunderstanding. Anyway, there's some mileage in including this as a support option for the Italians and their allies in some scenarios. To balance it, the British Empire troops basically delivered a blitzkrieg of their own in this campaign so I figure that the Red Dice can be made available to them alongside the marvellous Drinks Cabinet option.

The minis are mainly Eureka this time, mixed with a Skytrex leaders pack and a few Peter Pig supports like trucks etc. To my eye, some of the Skytrex chaps are a bit chunkier and have a penchant for baggy pantaloons but they all look fine together once based up.

Senior Leaders

Skytrex flanking Peter Pig

Italian Bersaglieri Rifles
Italian "Squadras" have 10 rifles and 2x LMG teams - but only two of these per platoon
These are all Eureka

An LMG team (Eureka)

African Ascari/Colonial Battalion troops
Leaders (Eureka)

LMG team - for some reason missing a crew member (Eureka)

Leader (Eureka)
These can be used by either side as Scouts (12 Rifles, move 2D6 and go tactical)

Lancia Flamethrower L3/Lf can double as Fiat with a bigger gun ...
Fiat Ansaldo L3/35 tankette is in the background (Peter Pig I think)

M11/39 in early war camo (Skytrex)

M11/40 for later scenarios, possibly North Africa (Skytrex)

Cannone da 47/32 - pretty good piece of kit (Eureka and Peter Pig)

Lancia Truck (Peter Pig)

Autoblinda AB41 armoured car (Skytrex)


What's next? A few early war and WWI vintage armoured cars for both sides are on the painting desk. I'm tempted to expand the Ascari options and Eureka do desert Bersaglieri on motorcycles/side-cars which might be fun. Hang on, though - Dux Brit you say? No I don't have any Arthurian cataphracts ... yet.

Monday, 1 March 2021

A few more British Empire supports

Managed to find time to finish these off over the weekend, along with the remaining infantry/supports for the Sikhs. Just the basing left to do on them. Maybe this week?

Some of these supports are better suited to the Western Desert / Libya / North Africa through to early 1942. The CoC rules and supplement cover this area too. The provides more armoured options for both the Italians and Empire, making for a more interesting "pick up" game or scenario.

Crusader c1941 - it's a touch more sand coloured in real life

Matilda II - a handful of these operated in East Africa

And one that went wrong
Unless the Brits created a Lemon Cheesecake camo?
I'll cover this with Caunter ...

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Support the Empire!

 A bit of support ...

Managed to find a bit of time to mess around with "Caunter" early war camo. A lot of ink has been spilled on the subject and many paints are available to help get that right shade. True to form, I went my own way and decided on a stony undercoat, with a dark green and olive-grey combination. All vallejo and all mixed to what I liked! I tried a sepia wash but it didn't look quite right so it's back to the reddy-brown of Agrax Earthshade for now. I don't own an airbrush so I stayed sober and tried to paint straight!

One more section of Sikhs plus a range of supports have reached the undercoat and wash stage. Highlights in the weeks ahead. Looking forward to having a bash at the Eureka/Skytrex Italians and colonial troops in due course.

Group shot

Technically this is a Skytrex Humber Light Recon but for now it's standing in as a Marmon-Herrington ... not sure any Humbers actually made it to East Africa?

Awesome Mark VI with MMG. Love these little chaps. By PP.

Another Skytrex Humber Light Recon - went for the plain desert camo for 1941 onwards. 

Hard to find the "right" shade. Plumped for GW Zandri Dust base; Sepia wash; thinned Vallejo Stone Grey and a final edge highlight of the same with a smidge of off-white

Everyone needs a truck ... another PP sculpt

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Chain of Command - East Africa 1940-41

 Chain of Command - East Africa 1940-41

After "dry" January - a break from painting etc - February marks the start of a new project: early war East Africa for Chain of Command. 

Why 15mm? I've been lucky enough to play some cracking games of CoC in 28mm (Charlie's exploding cludgie and Home Guard scenario) and 15mm (Derek's big CoC and other early war France scenarios.) 15mm is more cost and space effective right now and I have a lot of scenery that can be transferred from Afghanistan (with a bit of imagination.) Plus the ground-scale just seems "right" at 15mm for CoC.

Why East Africa? Because I like the way the early war plays with CoC and wanted to add something a bit different if we ever get around a big table together again. No-one has Italians or Sikhs at this scale. It's a new theatre for me and I've enjoyed reading about it. I plan to use some of the excellent CoC "Abyssinia" material for a campaign and some extra rules, such as the weather, ground conditions and extras uses for CoC dice, as well as the 1940-41 Desert lists available on the TFL website. The Italian platoon setup is interestingly quirky, which should provide a challenge for seasoned players.

First up, a sample section of Desert Sikhs from Peter Pig. These are lovely minis to paint. I've ordered some Eureka Italian Desert Bersaglieri, Askaris and Dubats to round out both forces. Plus a few tanks and armoured cars from Skytrex and Peter Pig to add a bit of depth to the rosters.

Bren Team on a roof, the Sarge yells at the rifle team to head off down the road.
New "dwelling bases" and scatter to add a bit more interest to the board.

Rifle team heading past a Battlefront House and walls from my Afghan collection.
The road is 28mm but works fine for me at this scale too - bonus!

Bren team - might need another highlight on the faces, but fine for now

Sort of close-up. I tend not to peer too closely at my chaps on the board.
I went for a wash and highlight approach. It looks better in real-life, honest.
The uniform is khaki but has come out slightly more green than expected.
It will be easier to tell them apart from the Desert Yellow Italians.

The Sarge with Tommy Gun. 
I'm trialling the use of colour/flowers to make the Big Men stand out at a glace. 
I have stuck a dead grass tuft on the bren gunner too as his pose is similar to the rifles.

I've also created some scenic bases for the buildings. They already look much better than just placing them on the mat - plus they add a bit of extra walled cover for the troops. I've also horded a plantation's worth of palm trees which may not be ultra-realistic but helps to set the scene. Maybe I'll look at some Acacia trees etc over time.

Plodding through the remaining Sikh sections and supports next ...

Friday, 1 January 2021

Sharp Practice - Escort Scenario

Hosenhorn goes A La Carte

2020 - enough said I suppose. On the bright side, it was a decent one for hobby connections, projects and even a few online games. But I was missing SP2. The arrival of a few terrain items (roads, vines and farm courtyard thanks to John at takecoverscenics) coincided with the completion of a unit of Gendarmes a Pied and a rather nice civilian cart from Perry's. Concocting a spurious excuse to stay up late on Boxing Day, it felt rude not to run through a scenario. Just to keep the rules fresh in the mind, you know.

I went for scenario 4 - Escort Duty so I could get the new horse and cart on the table. But given that this is another covid-solo (curse the weak rural internet!) there were two carts that needed to be delivered off the far end of the picture below and one of them would be a "fake" (rolling a D6 when the first one reached the edge to see if it was the real one.) This balanced the game a bit, as the "escorters" had to deliver two carts to the table edge and the "defenders" wouldn't really be able to surprise the escorting force like they normally would.

The Forces

Vive La France, vive Volte-Face!






Major (Chef de Batallion) Volte-Face (Level III) – overall force leader

2 groups of 8 Gendarmes a Pied (Grenadiers) 1809-1812, Muskets






Capitaine Cliché (Level II)

Caporal Rallier (Level I)

3 groups of 8 Line Infantry 1809-1812, Muskets






Lieutenant Latrine (Level II)

2 groups of Voltigeur Skirmishers 1809-1812 (3/16th Line), Muskets






Holy Man = Bernarde the Cantiniere

Exploring Officer




The Gendarmes a Pied are classed as Grenadiers. It will be interesting to see how their superior stats (similar to the British) work out - particularly the ability to lay down controlled volleys. Other than that, it's a familiar list. Captain Blase was replaced by newly gazetted Lieutenant Latrine, leading the Voltigeurs in his suitably brown uniform. There was a welcome return for Bernarde the "Holy Man" who remains doggedly in Spanish attire. Hopefully s/he will rally some shock at a key point in the game. My maths may be wonky, but the force totals for this French list in the SP book don't seem to add up right. Bah, whatever, the points can only be a guide anyway!







Major Hosenhorn (Level III)

Sergeant Lindt (Level I)

3 groups of 8 British-Swiss Line (Regt De Roll), Muskets








Captain Maycock-Etupp (Level II)

Sergeant Unthank (Level I)

2 groups of 8 British Line (Cumberland Regt), Muskets






Sergeant Leghorn (Level I)

1 group of Light Infantry Skirmishers (Monmouthshire Regt), Muskets





Exploring Officer


2 Carts for Escorting (scenario)





The British force again features the doughty Swiss of Roll-Dillon's combined Regiment. This time they are led by Major Hosenhorn, a man with bulging pockets and other protuberances. Much to his chagrin, Hosenhorn has been ordered to go a la carte and transport the Divisional pay chest from Portugal to somewhere east-south-east of Salamanca.

The Swiss are joined by the Cumberland Regiment who welcome Sergeant Unthank to the field after a long delay on the lead pile. Just one group of Light Infantry Skirmishers this time and a Level 1 leader. I reckon they'll be handy but brittle.


Into the fray!

A couple of pictures of the table before deployment

Scenery - an assortment of homebrew, takecover, charliefoxtrot and a few others

The British had two full turns of movement before the French could deploy.
Initial deployment

And they're off down the road

Slight traffic jam. Skirmishers deploy towards French jump-off points

French getting sweaty as their deployment points were closed to being shut down.
Latrine's Voltigeurs deploy cunningly in the wood and snipe away.
3 "flags" in a row: and Latrine's troops have damp powder so fire at half effect for the rest of the game.
C'est shiant!

The ineffable Captain Cliche deploys in the nick of time.
Three flags you say? First fire? Crashing volley sir? It would be tres rude not to ...
Ouch (in Swiss)

"Ah, oh dearie me," said Hosenhorn (or something like that. He is from an isolated Swiss valley and the dialect does not translate easily) as Major Volte Face's chip is drawn and the Grenadiers deploy on the flank of the main British force.
I love this about SP2 - it looked like Hosenhorn would romp off the table, but inside 15 minutes it's turned on its head!

Maycock-Etupp has quietly and almost efficiently moved up the near side of the board.
His regulars unleash a rather nasty first fire, controlled volley into Latrine's Voltigeurs.
Thankfully the Regt. Latrine is in "hard cover" but casualties and shock are mounting.

Hosenhorn's Swiss are battered but unbowed.
They have been forced back several times. 
(lucky rolls on Bad Things table, so no impact on force morale)
Then they deliver a volley at Cliche and Latrine which does more damage than average.

Maycock-Etupp's Cumberlanders ram another volley into Latrine who is now quivering in the woods, quite literally brown trousering. The Voltigeurs are pretty ineffectual at this point.

Tiffin first out - Chapter End and a handy reload for all the British

Surprised at receiving praise for his performance so far, Maycock-Etupp fails to bring his lads under control. So they deliver another nasty volley into Latrine in the woods. Turns out well. 
Maycock-Etupp laps up the cheers and applause as if he had planned it all.

Cliche tries to form column. Fails. They fire into nothing and swiftly reload!

Missed a photo somewhere - this is the Grenadiers' second volley into Hosenhorn's Swiss.

Maycock-Etupp persuades his troops to advance. 
Latrine had already scooted to the back of the woods.

Cliche bravely brings his troops around. Still not in column.

Suddenly remembering the scenario rules, Latrine decides to block off the main exit points.
His boys are now also spitting feathers after another random event. C'est la guerre ...

Cliche manages a famously slow wheel. 
He catches the Cumberland men with a volley but rolls low. Now Cliche's flank is open ...

Volte-Face grabs 2 flags and orders the Gendarmes to Pas de Charge ...

Bernarde makes an appearance. S/he was in the woods all along. Up to something or other.
Unimpressed by Latrine's uniform, s/he rallies a single point of shock and pouts at the British.

You spend 2 hours on a large board and then all the action gets crammed into a 8" square area ...
Cart/Donkey heading for the table edge.

Sergeant Leghorn's skirmishers have skedaddled away from the Gendarmes. He's managed to rally all the shock, allowing for a late dash to support Maycock-Etupp in guiding the carts off the board. Predictably, he rolls triple 1 for movement ... perhaps dazzled by Bernarde's ankle in the woods?

Not to be outdone, Cliche also rolls a 1 as he tries to swing his line into a proper flank volley on Maycock-Etupp (top of the picture.) He uses the second action to loose a volley but it doesn't quite do as much as he hoped - he remained just out of short range.

Realising that it is now Sunday, Maycock-Etupp advances his reasonably undamaged Cumberland regulars up to the church. Latrine had just split his Voltigeurs in a desperate effort to stop or slow the British advance off the board.

Hosenhorn's unit decides to wheel backwards away from the action. 
They'd done their job and were teetering on routing.

Over a couple of turns, Volte-Face's Gendarmes-Grenadiers climb up the hill, present and fire. Hosenhorn's left hand group was down to 5 men and 2 shock (having rallied a bucket-load of shock off them.) A semi-decent roll would have put them in trouble. The white dice say it all - 5 hits at close range in the open and not even a point of shock. Je n'y crois pas!

Maycock-Etupp and Latrine exchange fire. Not much happening really, so the Cumberland crew will need to charge to end this game.

Et voila! They charge home and eviscerate the Voltigeur group in the woods, but lose a couple of muskets in the process. Maycock-Etupp realises he's on the verge of - well - cocking it up. Apt. Maybe Latrine can get a few flank shots in?

Back with the Gendarmes. They decide to destroy British force morale by crushing the pretty desperate Swiss unit led by Hosenhorn. The Swiss are saved by being "regulars" as they are forced to withdraw several times an inch at a time, but the groups keep snapping back in line rather than scooting off somewhere.

Maycock-Etupp gets lucky. His card comes out before Latrine's. He charges into the skirmishers which can't be a good thing for them.

But "bonjour la vache"- who is this? Cliche gets his Fusiliers into some form of order, splits his command, and legs it around the wood and up the road. He's one pas de charge away from capturing both carts. Quite a turn of events. Will Cliche snatch victory from the jaws of defeat?

The mule "cart" makes it off the board. Cue dice roll ... it's the dummy. 
So the pay chest is still on the board.

Volte-Face continues to blaze away in the hope of destroying British force morale. They've dropped to 5 now from a start at 11. Things are looking a bit rosier for the French but it's still tight.

Cliche continues to dash around the wood. The cart is in sight ...

Largely irrelevant at this stage, but Leghorn's skirmishers get a flank shot on Sergent Rallier's trailing group of Fusiliers.

Ehu! Hosenhorn's card comes up. He rallies enough shock off his unit to make them safe. More importantly, the cart load of cash meanders off table. It was 3" away from the edge and rolled 3". Agonising for Cliche.

Volte-Face is dumbfounded.

Volte-Face's regimental dispatches:
Quelle catastrophe! Fromage potage! So close. But I cannot now pay the brave soldiers in my regiment. The fact that about half of them are not coming back to camp is beyond the point and frankly rather upsetting. This was a tough little scenario for the French (or any defender for that matter) once the opposition go for a secondary deployment point. Mind you, we did the same and it almost paid off. I'd probably push it further back and essentially line the exit board edge if we had it over again.

As it was a solo effort, Volte-Face (c'est moi) used the command flags for things like crashing volleys and pas de charge as much as possible. It reminded me how useful the crashing volley can be and that I need to use it more often.

I wish we could have deployed the Gendarmes more centrally. They never really got into the fray until later on, when they caused a lot of chaos to the Swiss but it was too little, too late. Weirdly, they ended the game with no casualties and no shock - didn't they get the memo that newly-painted troops need to fail spectacularly on their first outing?

Hosenhorn's journal:
That was, how do you English say, "bequem" - comfortable, easy. I was never in the slightest bit concerned. Not even when my boys were close to breaking, the Force Morale was dangling at 5 and Cliche (that dastardly Jacobin) was within poking distance of the money cart. Hmm.

My masterful deployment of the large formation of Swiss in such a vulnerable position, taking fire from all and sundry, allowed the Cumberland sausages to do their bit and lead the pay chest off the table. I will be having words with the skirmisher Leghorn who "legged it" away from the action at just the wrong moment. Can't trust these skirmisher types. In truth, I'm not quite sure what to do with 1 group of skirmishers with muskets. They can't screen a force effectively and they can't sit back and snipe away like the rifles. Guard the carts, maybe?

It's vital to get that secondary deployment point for this scenario so you can scoot up the board double-quick. If we'd rolled 3 turns of free movement, I reckon we'd have been off the table and on to a different scenario before tea. Maybe it should be 2 turns of free movement if you buy an extra deployment point?

I'd forgotten how powerful a big formation's crashing volley can be. Cliche's first fire, crashing volley at the start of the game nearly sent us packing and I spent the rest of the game rallying shock and little else! On the British side, Maycock-Etupp used the Thin Red Line bonus for the first time in living memory and it was pretty devastating too. I'll move away from always saving up the flags for bonus activations - the other rules add to the drama.