Thursday, 29 November 2012

Test games and arrival times

For those who are attending...
I will send out an e-mail regarding arrival times at the hotel over next few days, so that Membly Hall has some idea of those likely to arrive on the Friday night. Also I am planning to have a couple of test games running on Saturday afternoon, from about 2pm onwards. This should help everyone get back into the swing of the rules. We (at the Shed) certainly found playing a couple of test games a useful exercise over the last few weeks. We will have games running throughout the afternoon so whenever you arrive you should be able to participate, should you wish, or just sit back and catch up with old friends.

On the model making front, a few hundred feet of woods edging is in the process of being made, the fields are nearly all completed and about 100ft of main road sections are done. Still plenty to do but the jobs are slowly being ticked off the list. Will publish some pics of the new kit ASAP, I promise.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Test game

A quick note on the current test game we are playing. We have created a scenario where 2 Battalions of US Infantry, back up by some armour are trying to remove some plucky Volks-Grenadier types from a town. The Germans have 1 Battalion of Infantry and three A/T guns. At this point it would be worth saying that Andy (the German player had the chance of getting 3 xPAK 40s and 3 x PAK38, but managed to only get 2 x PAK38's and 1 x PAK 40 (Oh dear, best look after those then..). The game is also giving us a chance to test a couple of ideas with the new terrain.
The new fields are a bit of an improvement on the carpet tile and lichen (which in many cases was still damp 5 years after being glued to the carpet tiles). The town sectors seem to work well, the one in the foreground has part of a road network built into it, the one to the top left is a type which is just wholly a BUA (built up area). The will be a rule amendment to use these new BUA's as we are experimenting with allowing all platoons into BUA's. I hope to have some of the new roads made soon as well as the edging for wooded areas. For now we are using roofing felt (which I will use as the base material for both of these new designs), but I will pretty them up over the next couple of weeks, time off permitting.
I will post an update on the game and some of the rules ideas that come from it over the next couple of days.
View from the American side of the table....Where are those sneaky Krauts?

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Places left

The current situations is that we have about 31 players for the Ardennes game. As things stand we have.....

3 places left for German commands;

3 places left for American commands.

If you are thinking going and haven't yet let me know...don't hang around!!

OK, I did promise loads...

And I am aware of the maxim 'under-promise, over-deliver', but the pace since my last post has no slackened. In fact there is no real sign of a let up, mostly due to the current 'shooping list' of new bits of scenery needed for the new game....the list as it stands is...

80 Town sector models;

100 Fields, (rebuilding these at the moment);

150 ft of metalled road;

150 ft of secondary road;

60 ft of minor river; (1" wide)

20 ft of Meuse river (4" wide)

6 larger bridges for the Meuse system

200ft of Woods edging.
The good news is ...the fields are about 1/3 completed. I will post an article in the next few days on the construction method employed and a pic or two of the finished articles.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Its been a busy old time....

Just a quick note before something more substantial next week. Lots of tasks are on the go at the moment.

I have nearly finished the second batch of boards which brings me up to 40...(only 200 to go)!!!.

I have just received a second wave of repainted house models from Mark (Festung Europa) and will be turning these into town sector models over the next fortnight.

Somehow I have become involved with the Axis planning for the Ardennes game, which is taking up a lot of very limited free time.

And finally there is a scenario design for the test game (finally!!!).

The plan is to set up the scenery for the test game next Thursday at the shed and then start play the week after. There is much more going on of course, such as trying to have a life...but isn't that always the way with this hobby.

The next few post should include

  • An update on the 2013 game to date (at least the bits I can tell you about).
  • The new proposed projects for 2014 and 2015.
  • Details of the test game set up
  • New scenery shots
  • Posts from the test game regarding rules changes.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Town sectors (and vehicle bases)

This is one of the newly designed town sectors. The base size is 12cm x 12cm to give you some idea of scale (the basing material is hardboard). These represent a bit of a return to a 'Spearhead' style idea of town sectors, however I am giving some consideration to how the rules will work concerning these. One of my pet hates is to see figures dangling off the I am going to make all 'buildings' block line of sight and line of direct fire, and then design cover modifiers tailored around the town sectors themselves. But that is very much for another post.

To also give some idea of scale, there should be between 20 and 50 of these sectors to a town and between 200-400 to a major city. So far I have made this one, so I have a far way to go, but that is the nature of all things megagame's a small scale on a grand scale..(perhaps I should use that as our tag line)....

The grey sections will form the road network in the towns, and I have used a builders caulk with sawdust scattered over the top to give the ground some texture. The hedges have been made by using rubberised horsehair (or pig's hair) adding pva and saw dust and then painting for effect. Also this is the first look at the new style of bases I want to use for vehicles. The clear base will have some labelling to denote a vehicle number (I think) but the idea is that the vehicles look more embedded in the terrain. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Green green a recycled sense...

In an effort to save a small bit of the planet, I have been trawling through the stock of polystyrene hills and recycling them. So if you have attended a megagame before and feel that this hill looks vaguely familiar, it might not be deja vu! This hill has been re based on hardboard, sealed at the base of the hill and then liberally covered in 'gloop' (see early post on terrain boards). Once this had dried, the hill was painted a with a dark brown base coat, the hardboard section painted to blend into the terrain boards and the coats of light grey with some highlights of browns and greens applied for the final effect. This will represent a steep hill when used in the game as will the one below
The next post should contain some images of the new town sectors and villages that are currently being designed.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Ardennes 2013 Umpires post

For those who don't have access to the Domgaming site, here is the first Umpiring post regarding the new game......the phoney war is finally over it seems :)

 As a first step the German command team will be invited to come up with a campaign plan. To do that they will be given forces, objectives and constraints and with those they will fashion a plan to conquer the world, or some such! Once that plan is produced it will not change greatly over the course of the week's gaming. So for example the major reserve options thought about in the planning stage will dictate where and when any reserve forces will be fed into the battlefield.

Once I have a German plan the umpire team will "model/wargame" the initial stages giving both German and Allied commanders updates at 12-24 hourly intervals (in game time), based on the intelligence they would have at that time. Note that last was really quite, quite important. At some stage the Allied CinC will wish to institute action, to do this he will have to produce a plan based on the information he has at that time. Note the longer he leaves it the more info he has but the later any reserves that have to move will arrive. Therefore at this point the modelling/wargaming will be suspended; he will be given forces, objectives, and constraints and be asked to produce his plan. Once this is done the "modelling/wargamin g" will continue until a point is reached which gives enough interesting games to employ all the players on days 1 and 2 in Cornwall and also provides a prospect for more games, notwithstanding the outcomes of round 1. That point will be the start point for the games in Cornwall. So the start date could be 16 Dec or any date thereafter, however, as already stated, once we are in Cornwall we will move to game time = campaign time.

I have mentioned forces, objectives, constraints and plans for both sides let me put that in perspective:

FORCES: Both sides will be given forces that were (or could have been) employed in the battle. These will be have a start state in terms of equipment availability, manning, training and morale that best reflects the state they were in at the time, as judged by commentators at the time and reflects a synthesis of a great deal of research done by Mike and myself in the past 8 months or so.

OBJECTIVES: Will reflect what was asked of the opposing forces and will lie within the realm of historical probability.

CONSTRAINTS: As ever there are constraints; on logistics, on road availability, on transport, on weather, on terrain and the like. All the command teams will see are the constraints, any bookkeeping will be done by the umpires. However the constraints will impact on the campaign game and may well have effects on the tabletop games.

PLANS: The German and Allied command teams will represent the highest level headquarters and commanders; OB West (GFM Model) and the Army Commanders for the Germans and Bradley/Montgomery + the Army Commanders for the Allies. The umpires will play Hitler, OKW, Churchill, Roosevelt, Marshall, Brooke, Eisenhower and SHAEF. The plans are likely to be required to include all the normal things associated with such documents; force objectives, boundaries, allocation of rare assets, logistics' priorities, route allocations etc. The intention will be to have Army level plans with Corps boundaries and objectives.

CAMPAIGN AIR: Neither Model nor Montgomery/Bradley had any real control over the air forces. The Allies were allocated CAS sorties on an availability rate in their priority areas, in addition they stated target requests for medium bombing interdiction and Photo Recce. The Germans got surprises (mostly from the allies). This is pretty much how the game will play for the bulk of the campaign. There is likely to be an air game which will/may/could affect ground operations, but it is still under discussion with Phil.

TABLETOP FORMAT: We are returning to the divisional level rules with one stand being one platoon +/-. There has been a substantial revision of these since 2010 taking on board both the very deep and long discussions on the group site that took place in Feb/Mar 2010 and the comments made during and after the game. The final playtesting is still being done but the main changes are likely to include such things as:

o Mortars and rockets will have effects directly akin to direct fire weapons i.e. they will kill if they can, no trying to remember if this is the first or second hit etc.
o Guns will have effects areas based on calibre and number of barrels firing. Kills will be possible on natural 10s.
o Properly defined ability to move operationally out of site/range of the enemy opening up the game more.
o Better definitions of mounted/dismounted etc.
o Woods to be better cover form view particularly from the air but; to become particularly dangerous if attacked by indirect fire. (See the Band of Brothers in Bastogne!)
o Much better descriptions of man-made cover, what can and can't be done etc.
o Easier formats to apply and use
o Less bookkeeping
o However still constraining in an appropriate doctrinal way what a force can and more appropriately can not do. (Adds the chrome that really differentiates a German from an American from the Commonwealth) .
NEW TROOP TYPES: Weapons Developments of late 44.

TIMEFRAME: The intention is for the German command team to be issued its initial briefing pack this month sooner rather than later. They will then have a good month, possibly 2 given my availability in October to prepare their plan. This will allow the umpire to model the plan in November and enter the interactive dialogue with the Allies (and Axis if command decisions are required). I would wish the allies to stay stop to me in November. They will then be asked to produce a reaction to the situation they find themselves in. Although the realities of corporate life in 2012 have to be taken into account I am likely to want this done relatively quickly. I would hope to then model the Allied plan vs the German plan in my time in December or early January and then issue a start state for Falmouth in January.

SUMMARY: This will not be the rerun of the battle of 68/69 years ago. Neither will it be a rerun of 2005. The intention is to give a campaign that reasonably accurately portrays a serious what if? However in the end the campaign is a vehicle to provide 6 days of good wargaming at divisional level and upwards. Will there be massive armour battles or only infantry slogs. Can't tell you, it depends where the command teams put the troops. However in the Ardennes more than anywhere the terrain really does dictate the battlefields. If you learn anything from the history of 40 and 44, it is to do your terrain analysis and ensure the appropriate things go in the appropriate places! Will there be surprises? I hope so, you would not expect anything less from Mike and myself, however for those who were here in 2004/5 I promise you will not be crossing the Rhine. Can I prepare? By all means read as much as you can about the battle. Troop strengths, morale, logistics availability and starting locations are all likely to be reflected in this game. However the plans that are instigated, the results and the timeframe for individual actions are likely to be different, perhaps very different. So don't expect to follow the book(s) chapter by chapter. As ever I am always open for questions.


Tuesday, 24 July 2012

A week without the Shed is like...

I must say that I have had the 'luxury' of weekly wargaming for about 15 years, however a week's holiday beckons. Fortunately its a non-campaign game week so it's not a critical as it might be. And I am very much looking forward to a break , it's long overdue. I did pick up a new camera for the hols and took a few test snaps from the last shed meeting. For those of you who have not met some of the shed members from trips away at Falmouth or Newquay, here are three at work (or play)
Eric (left), the young thrusting Panzer Commander is watching Mark (Festung Europa models) explain exactly how he intends to extract his formation from the temporary blip caused by failing to roll anything above a total of 7 with 3 D6 on three consecutive morale roles. Steve (right) is actually hoping that if he ignores the disaster unfolding to his right, his own infamous 'left hook' can eventually reveal itself....Next month I might be able to persuade, Noel, Neil, Socky, Nick (who is hardly ever out of shot) and even the 'Tall One' to appear...

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Fun at the Wargames Holiday Centre

I know , I know it seems a bit of a busman's holiday but...the 'gang' from the shed (
 see the garage gamer blog) went to the Wargames Holiday Centre and had a fantastic time. Of course I could tell you some of the conversation that occured but the rule of 'what's said in the Shed stays in the Shed' applies to WHC trips too. Suffice to say, that despite a weekly Napoleonic 'fix', the WHC bashes are a truly fantastic experience and one I wish I could do far more often....If only the world of work and various other things did not impinge so...

For now all I will say is Rock Lobster, Flow diagrams and Do the Hucklebuck....I wish I could expand on that but the rules of the Shed prevent it....

Thanks Mark for a brilliant three days gaming.

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Festung Europa Models

I thought I would take the opportunity to share a few pictures of the work of Mark and his model making skills, because he is helping in the redesign of some of the wargames terrain, particularly the village, road and river systems. The work shown here is part of his 1/72nd D-Day display. Clearly I'm not expecting the same level of detail at 1/300th....but I'm sure that won't stop him trying...I know that Mark and John undertake bespoke work and you can contact them at

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Tuesday, 19 June 2012

On the boards again....

I finally found some time and a weather window to try some new combinations of colours for the new terrain boards. I selected three base colours....

and then painted a series of combinations of greens (B&Q's Woodland Fern 1,2,3) in a variety of techniques, to try and get what I considered the best finish on the boards. However, none of the combinations seemed to work completely to my satisfaction. In the end I decided on the Dark Truffle (middle board above), and a combination of the Woodland Greens to achieve what I think, is a very good finish. I also used the other two browns to build up the colour on the hills.

So this is how the new boards should look (the brighter green board is the first colour scheme I used and I have included this as a comparison). Once I have some of the new town, road and river sections, I will put together a small section of terrain so you can get some idea of the new look...

Also I am finally planning to run a test game in August and that will include new Terrain pictures, as well as the newly based units (which aim to blend in with this terrain).


Monday, 28 May 2012

Back on the boards again

Well I have found some time to have another dash at the terrain boards. Using the brown poster paint method (courtesy of Brendan) to colour the gloop, but I may just move to glooping the hills soon and sanding the rest of the board. I had a look at using marine boards but its a cost issue for the scale I need, so I am drying these 24" boards on 18" polystyrene tiles to hopefully reduce any slight curling in the tiles as they dry. I will keep you posted.....
Same recipe for gloop as before, but with brown poster paint and water added
and as if by magic....its brown not white...


I do have some new tester pots to try new base colours for the boards. B&Q's Forest Fern #1,#2 &#3. Now all I need is the sunshine to return. Still I am listening to Test Match Special while glooping the boards so life is not too bad!!

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Time flies when you're having.....

After a flurry of blog posts, I have been very busy in the world of work over the last six weeks and that combined with the poor weather has curtailed my attempts to re-paint boards etc. I had also planned to run a game scenario at the Exeter Wargames Show, but that has been sidelined and re-scheduled for July in 'the Shed'. On the plus side I have got a new printer.....Now this might not sound much but for those of you who have ever seen Uncle Tony talking to 'Hal', trying to convince previous marks of printer to disgorge documents at a Mega-game event, this is a small step forward.....
The new HAL
I will be back on task soon...I have been painting btw, but for 28mm Napoleonic. I'm tempted to post a pic of two later of my new happy little Italian Velites of the Guard.
Velites of the Italian Guard - Chassuer btn.

In the background is the Grenadier btn which is in the very early stages of production.

When both btns and a handful of skirmishers are painted, I will finish the basing...

Of course, I have a bucketload of WW2 stuff to do to...ignore the giant duck btw....

Friday, 30 March 2012

Terrain Boards - a sneak peek!

The flower pot is not to scale!
Well I did say that MDF is the way forward on the terrain board front, so I thought I would show the process I am using to make them (for those who like that sort of thing). I helped make the boards that you can see if you look at the excellent and it's also the place where I spend my Thursdays nights btw. The stories I could tell, but as everyone knows, Whats said in the Shed stays in the Shed...but I digress.

Drying rack in Shed 2
 The big problem we had encountered when making those boards was the chipboard base warping. We decided after much discussion that there were a number of reasons for this, but mostly it was to do with the mixture we had spread over the top of the board to give the rough ground effect. The combination of PVA, sawdust and white emulsion (known in the Shed as gloop, and yes I can tell you that!) had taken over a week to dry in many cases and this had caused 18mm chipboard to curl up quite spectacularly even though it had been sealed. The net effect had been to add a framework of 1" wood around the base of each board. Something that would not be an option to me because of the transport and weight implications. So this is the approach I have adopted.
Undercoated boards drying
I had decided on 12mm MDF as the base material and had this cut into 600mm x 600mm squares when I bought it (worth doing, the cuts are straight and transportation is so much easier, of course!), then Step 1 was to seal the boards with a primer undercoat, on all surfaces including the edges. Fortunately I have 2 sheds (no I'm not Arthur Jackson), and because I'm likely to be doing this on a bit of an industrial scale, my Dad created a drying rack (pictured above right) which is a real boon as space to allow these boards to dry is at a premium.

The stuff of gloop
Step 2 is to decide whether boards will have any hills on. I have decided to embed some hills into the terrain and create some other free standing ones to to allow for some scenario flexibility. Also I wont be adding roads or rivers, these will be made in sections and laid over the terrain as appropriate to the game. When the hills have been selected these as trimmed with my heated wire cutter (worth the effort finding), glued into place with PVA, and when firmly dried, any sections of hill which look too steep are given a more gentle gradient using filler. The idea being that the least amount of gloop that needs to go onto the board, the better.

Step 3 is my favourite, ask anyone at the shed. And yes it's information not covered by the shed official secrets act. Its gloop time!! There is not set formula for gloop in my experience. I use about 2 cups of PVA , 4 to 5 cups of white emulsion and an ice cream tub full of saw dust.When it looks like porridge but a lot whiter, you are onto a winner. Simple scoop it up with a trowel and dab it on. I decided to keep the application as thin as possible and also to flatten down any bits that stand too proud as these would only be broken off in transport at some point. There is an argument for using brown or green paint instead of white. This would effectively pre-colour the base of the board. The main reason that I have not done this is cost. Gloop does use a lot of emulsion and white is by far the cheapest colour. Where I only producing a few boards I might bite the bullet and get coloured emulsion - but I'm going to produce have have to find economies somewhere!

Step 4 really sees the board starting to look like something worth fighting on, even if it does seem a bit bright. The base coat choice is Dublin Bay 2. Its a bit of a pain to work into various nooks and crannies of the gloop, and definitely needs a once over after it has dried so that you have re-apply paint to the white bits. Its worth slightly thinning the paint that I use for the touching up process (oh please!!) as some of the unpainted sections are always in those hard to reach spots.
Step 5 is the addition of a dry brushed highlight coat of Dublin bay 3. I know it still looks a bit bright but the colours really do work! The boards pictured here have embedded hills and my plan is to add some brown shading to the hill tops and also to some parts of the board to break up the green, and add a dry brush yellow high-light. When that is done I will post the new pictures here. So far by applying the gloop fairly thinly, warping has been very limited and the boards are not overly heavy. When the are finished I will lay a sheet of bubble wrap over the top of each one and then package them ready for a couple of planned demo games and of course the up-coming Mega-game. For now though it's 24 boards under construction and just 226 to go. But it's not like I have to do them all next week. This is a two year plan. Perhaps I should post updates with  Soviet style production figures. Cue back drop of workers gathering an unending harvest, massive factories churning out products at never before seen rates, and a voice telling us we are all in this together. 
Join me, brothers, join me...Its time to gloop.  


Just finished a couple of boards and here they are!!

And more boards sunning themselves - Its like the film Birds, there were only 2 of them earlier I'm sure. Again the flower pot is not to scale.

Friday, 16 March 2012

I was looking for a heated wire thingy....

You know one of those things that you use to sculpt polystyrene. Ok, ok I said Polystyrene was dead and it is, but, it turns out it is very handy for making hills out of, and the new terrain boards will have these built into them. So I decided to look in the shed.

But there was one problem...This is where some of the Mega-games terrain lives when its not being used. The shed is 8ft deep and completely full. Somewhere in here lives the heated wire cutter. Oh but hang on, it could also be in the loft.
This is where the rest of the Megagames stuff lives. For those who have been to a game, the hundreds of pizza boxes will bring back either happy memories or nightmares of just trying to find odd bits of kit. In the end I found the heated wire cutter....Where you may ask? Well look at the first pic again. See the big green box on the right. Just inside there on the very top. Of course I did this after emptying the shed and spending an hour in the loft. One day I will get the loft and shed day...

And by the way the motorcycle and space hopper are my son's and not to be used as therapy sometime during the evening of a megagame event. But perhaps thats not a bad idea...

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Polystyrene is dead.....Long live MDF

Part of the re-organisation for next year is already underway. While I intend use some of the snow terrain (which you can see lower down the blog in selection of photos) the older green terrain is going to bite the dust. And talking of biting dust, the new stuff will be made from MDF (if you have every cut the stuff you will get that tenuous link). However there will also be new roads, rivers and town sectors. I will publish some pics as the new stuff rolls of the production line. And to give you an example of the scale of the task, we usually play on around 800 odd square feet of terrain. Oh and I am re-basing kit too....who needs sleep :)

Friday, 2 March 2012

Err yes ...when I said there was no crash hot rush!!

Ok, as of this morning we have about 10 places left (allowing for promissory notes from players and bookings from a couple of old stagers). I have discussed options with Mike M. (part of the Umpiring team) and I think the maximum we can run with is around 46 players on table. There is a lot of planning and preparation going on behind the scenes, most of which I can't go into now, and some I don't even know about, but there are already a number of quite enthused individuals (and there are still 10 months to go). I must say this does have a feeling of one of the very early mega games in terms of the excitement it is generating and the degree of pre-game planning required. While I am consulting with the Umpiring team and placing various players within the command framework for the game, I won't suggest any individual Divisional commands until around September. But if you have a command post you wish to request, there is no harm in mentioning it early in the piece.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Ardennes 2013 Game details

The 2013 megagame is set in the Ardennes in 1944. The game will have spaces for around 20 players per side. At the moment I am looking for plucky volunteers for the German command team (around 4 players) who will undertake the pre game planning (sometime in July-Sept this year, so its not a crash hot rush!!)

Regarding dates and times...the game will start on the evening of Saturday 19th January 2013 and finish on Friday 25th January 2013. The price for the game is £395 and this includes 7 nights accomodation at the Membly Hall Hotel in Falmouth and breakfast, lunch and evening meals. Extra nights are available at £40 per night. I will post a booking form on the blog shortly, or you can mail me at if you have any initial game questions or wish to book.