Thursday, November 12, 2015

3mm Buildings - Updated


I have been working recently on updating my 3mm buildings and town sections. The Monopoly buildings seen in all of my battle reports up until the last one have served me very well over the years. But in the past year or so, a couple of companies have released 3mm buildings that in my opinion are an improvement on the Monopoly buildings. I had been buying stuff as I became aware of it, so I decided to actually get it all assembled, painted and onto the table.

The other reason for updating my buildings is that I wanted to set them up so that my miniatures bases could fit into the towns, and not have to be balanced on top of the buildings. To do this, I devised a sabot system that fits in with both my Hexon terrain and my miniatures' bases. The idea of removable building sections on a larger urban base is not a new idea, but it was new for me to create sections to integrate with my hex terrain.

Again, my friend with the laser-cutting machine came to the rescue, in the form of Dean at Olympian Games here in Canberra. Dean cut me some triangular sections that I could glue onto the corners of a standard Hexon 100mm hex 'template' (or a 100mm laser cut MDF hex). This was sized to leave a 100x65mm recessed section, into which I could fit either a 100x60mm or two 50x60mm bases with buildings on them. Alternately, the building base(s) could be removed and several of my vehicle bases with Infantry sabots would fit within the same area. The corner sections that remain on the building hex section have buildings on them, which would remain when the other sections were removed, so that the troop stands would still be in amongst buildings.

Some pictures illustrating how this works are below. The first photo shows the construction of a Town-Hex section, and how the troops fit into the lift out sabot section. The Hex corners have a triangular section with permanently attached buildings. The middle part is space for either troops (if occupied) or buildings (if not occupied):

The lift-out building sabot can either be left off...

...or the building lift-out can be placed over the top of the occupying troops as shown here.

Some tiles have multiple smaller lift-outs.
A residential area with smaller buildings is shown here, with one troop stand occupying it.

An Industrial area with warehouses, again with one platoon occupying it.

And now the troops go 'down town', to the CBD.

A tank platoon occupying the same tile.
Some samples of buildings from various manufacturers follows:

The first photo below shows a selection of European style buildings. The larger buildings are from the excellent Total Battle Miniatures Skirmish 1/1: 3mm Western Europe range of resin buildings:

TBM Skirmish 3mm Western European terrain range

These come cast on to larger 100x100mm square tiles - to make them fit to my hex system, I cut the tiles up to sizes that would fit my new sabot system.

The smaller individual houses are also resin, from the Simply 6 range, supplied by PicoArmor:

PicoArmor S6 terrain page

Bottom left is a row of European Houses.
Bottom right is a civic building (eg. Town Hall).
behind the row of houses can be seen a hotel.

Bottom left here is a row of shops from TBM.
The hex to its right is a row of S6 individual houses and shops from PicoArmor.
You'll see on many of the tiles I added other scenic items such as the hedges framing the yards.

Also visible in this picture is that the TBM building tiles included cobblestone streets.
I decided to continue this on my other building bases. The right hand tile has a strip
of textured plasti-card added for the cobblestone street (I can't remember the brand).

The photos below show a large number of laser-cut cardstock buildings from Gamecraft Miniatures:

GameCraft Miniatures 3mm City Buildings

Shown are various Town-Houses / Row-Houses and on right of picture are some industrial type buildings. Painting the facades and roofs of the terraces in different colours individualises the buildings a little, and varies them a bit.

Gamecraft Miniatures laser-cut Town-Houses and Industrial buildings.
Gamecraft also does these very nice high-rise apartment or office buildings. These make a good CBD for larger towns.

Gamecraft laser-cut high-rise buildings.

TBM resin buildings (foreground): a hotel (left) and very nice Church (right).
 In the background are a mix of Gamecraft cardstock Town Houses and S6 Resin houses.

A view of some town hexes. Mix of resin and card buildings - I think they mix together quite acceptably.

Another view.

A wider angle view of the Gamecraft cardstock CBD, Town Houses and Industrial sector.

A close-up of the Gamecraft Town Houses.
The mixed colours provide some variety.
I put black card inside all the cardstock buildings to provide backing for the otherwise empty windows.
 Below is yet another type of building, this time 3D printed. It is my Service Station (Gas Station for our American friends...) from Kokoda Trail Models store on Shapeways:

Kokoda Trail Models Shapeways Store

Various Shapeways stores have some nice 1:600 (3mm) buildings. The only problem is they tend to be relatively expensive, but for unique pieces they can work well.

My Service Station. I added a scratch built sign (complete with freehand attempt at a Shell logo).

A close up of the very nice TBM Resin buildings.
These paint up very nicely indeed.

Close up of the Gamecraft laser-cut high-rise apartment or office buildings.

A nice view of a whole bunch of Town hexes assembled as a large town.
The picture shows how the various types mix together to give a nice effect.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Smash the Bridgehead! - Little Wars Canberra BATREP

Our merry crew put on a demonstration game this weekend at the inaugural Little Wars Canberra war-games convention. The Canberra event expands upon the successful Little Wars events already run over the past few years here in Australia, in Melbourne and Adelaide.

In its first Canberra showing, the event had some fantastic quality (and widely varied) games. Whilst I did look at all the other games, unfortunately I was too focused on our game during the day to take photos of the other games (I know others did though, so I'm sure they'll appear online soon enough...).

The game we ran was set at the height of the Cold War in 1988. The premise of the scenario was that a Soviet crossing of the Inner German Border, followed by rapid advance into West Germany. Facing them in this sector are elements of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR).

A Soviet Motor Rifle Division has established a crossing point of a fairly significant river. They have managed to capture an intact bridge across the river at a large town. The divisional engineer battalion has subsequently constructed a PMP pontoon bridge downriver from this, to provide the division with two crossing points. The division's lead Motor Rifle Regiment is defending this bridgehead, to allow the remainder of the division to cross and exploit the crossing, consolidating the bridgehead.

The lead Regiment is largely intact, with its three battalions (in BTR-70s) supported by the Regiment's tank battalion (T-62s), with a company attached to each battalion. The Regiment has its standard regimental assets, including AT, SAM, Engineer, and Recon companies, plus the Regimental Artillery Group (RAG), comprising a battalion of 2S1 122mm SP Guns.

To assist in their important task, the Soviet Division commander has inserted a Forward Detachment, consisting of a Battalion of Airborne Infantry, to secure the key approach routes to the bridgehead. Additionally, a company each from the Division's SAM and AT Battalions, as well as the Divisional Tank Battalion (of five companies of T-64BV) have been placed at the disposal of the Regiment Commander. Additional fire support is provided by a Battalion of 2S3 152mm SP guns and a company of BM-21 Grad 122mm MRLs attached from the Divisional artillery to the RAG. All Soviet troops are "fair" quality, except the Airborne Infantry Battalion who are "average" quality.

Recognising the importance of this bridgehead, the BAOR Corps commander has ordered a counter attack to destroy the bridgehead. Since the NATO forces are severely pressed in all sectors, forces available for this mission are limited. However, the Division Commander in this sector has released an Armoured Regiment (battalion) of Challenger 1s and an Armoured Infantry Battalion in Warrior IFVs for the mission. Supporting the counter-attack is an artillery regiment (battalion) of Abbot SP 105mm guns, and two flights (airstrikes) of Tornado ground attack aircraft. All of the British forces are of "good" quality.

The BAOR forces for the game were commanded by Ray. Their mission was to 'neutralise' the bridgehead. They could do this by either destroying the bridges, or being in a position to apply direct fire to the bridges, at the end of the game (1 VP for each bridge), or by crossing over the river (1 VP per unit/company).

The Soviets were commanded by John. Their mission was to protect the bridges (1VP for each intact bridge free from direct fire at the end of the game). Also 1 VP for each BAOR unit (company) destroyed. In points terms, the BAOR force was roughly double that of the Soviets.

I was to be the umpire and chief spruiker to the public for the game.

The battlefield & defender deployment:
In the NW is the intact road bridge, NE is the pontoon bridge
The Soviet (red) and BAOR (blue) plans:
Soviets defending the E and W bridges with a MR battalion each,
Soviet Parachute Infantry Forward Detachment deployed forward (SE),
Soviet DTB and third MR Battalion in reserve.

BAOR with two combined arms Battle-Groups attacking in the E (from S to N),
Third tank-heavy battle-group in Reserve, ready to exploit.
Soviet Parachute Infantry in the woods

W Soviet MR Battalion, protecting the pontoon bridge
The PMP Pontoon Bridge.
T-64BV battalion is ready to cross from the N bank (to the R of picture)
Close up of the PMP bridge;
this is a fantastic miniatures set from Oddzial Osmy!

Divisional AT Company
MT-12 ATGs and BRDM-2 AT-5 vehicles

The MR Battalion in the W, defending the town bridge

A company of Parachute Infantry defends the central approach road through the village

British battalion Recon (Scimitars) is pounded by Soviet artillery

The Soviet DTB (T-64BVs) crosses the Pontoon Bridge.

The other UK battalion's Recon Troop approaches the concealed Soviet Paras

The first UK combined arms battle-group advances

Challenger Is

The British Recon pays the price -
ATGMs from the concealed Soviet Infantry destroys the light Scimitars

the Soviet DTB advances S of the river, in the centre

BAOR battle-groups advance through covered approaches to their objectives

British Armoured Infantry in Warrior IFVs

Challenger Is receive artillery fire

the Soviet artillery is off target (SNAFU result),
but rather fortunately lands off target but on top of the other concealed advancing battle-group!

more artillery

The UK troops are pinned all round by Soviet artillery.
Challenger Is still manage to engage and destroy one of the firing Soviet infantry platoons
The forward Soviet Para company pulls back

Soviet DTB moves forward into fire positions

The T-64BV battalion is spotted by the surviving British Recce Troop, which calls in two flights of Tornados.
The British pilots are off their game and only manage to destroy one platoon (out if four targeted) with their missiles!

Armoured Infantry Company moves in to prepare for the assault and dismount

The Soviets pummel them with all four salvos of BM-21 Grad MRLs...

...pinning a few and killing a platoon of dismounted infantry.

However, the assault force is largely intact

...the defending Soviet infantry take out some Warriors with MAWs

Challengers keep advancing

Artillery keeps the British Infantry pinned in their forming-up-point

The British Infantry go into close-combat, with grenades and bayonets (oh, and Warriors supporting!)

The tanks of the Battle-group sweep up on their E flank,
 covered by a smoke screen laid by the battalion's Mortar platoon

The Challenger Is are the only troops on the battlefield with Thermal Imagery sights.
They fire through the smoke, destroying a platoon of T-62s

The British assault destroys the remaining two platoons of the Soviet Para Company on the ridge,
but at the cost of two of their own platoons - ouch!
By the end of the game (8 turns), the British had failed to get to the bridges (0 VPs). The Soviets had destroyed one British Company (1 VP), and had both bridges intact (2 VPs). So the game was a 3-0 VP win to the Soviets. More importantly though it was a good fun game, and we got a lot of favourable comments and discussion with members of the gaming public.

Post-game discussion agreed that the British plan to focus on the one flank had been good, however the attack should have been more aggressively executed. With only eight turns, the Brits had started too started slowly (spending two turns moving recce troops forward before the main elements came on and started moving). Instead, the recce could have been dispensed with and the BAOR force, with better quality and equipped troops, could have been pushed rapidly down the extreme E flank in locally superior numbers. Hindsight is a beautiful thing!

Thanks to Ray and John for assisting in putting on a most enjoyable game. To add to the fun of the day, the game picked up a prize for 'best terrain' and I scored a boxed set of Gripping Beast Crusades Arab Infantry - very nice!!