Category Archives: WW2 Naval

2020 In Review

Well, that was quite a year, wasn’t it?

No conventions, no in-person gaming at all for a good part of the year thanks to our local COVID precautions, and yet things still got painted, finished, and even played with.

Before COVID (Remember That?)

village
Low over the coastline, approaching the village. Click for larger.

We started the year damp and cold off the 1/1200 coasts of England with a lot of naval gaming and scenery for that, then we were briefly visited by a very strange bartender indeed and got a few games of tiny ships done in-person.

narthoks finished, front
Narthoks all finished except for basing. Go on, tell the bartender your troubles! Click for larger.

The Weird Begins…

March was when it all went weird. The high point of my own gaming year, Trumpeter Salute over in Vancouver, was cancelled on less than two weeks notice, work-from-home started abruptly, and all sorts of other things went very, very sideways. I did spend some of the money I’d have ordinarily have spent on other things on orders from Bad Squiddo and Forge of Ice, two tiny one-person companies I’ve been meaning to order from for many years now, so that part was nice, but the fact that March/April/May 2020 have fewer blog entries here, combined, than I made in January indicates how off-kilter everything was!

The end of May did see the modification of our local COVID restrictions so that we could have “pods” of up to six or so people, so my brother and a friend resumed gaming most Sundays, starting up a Frostgrave campaign that eventually morphed into a fantasy-flavoured Pulp Alley campaign.

start of game
Start of the game. My chaps centre foreground, Sean’s ogre ladies top left, Corey’s mousling bravos top right. Click for larger.

COVID Bubble Gaming

June and July saw something like a normal posting pace resume here as I cranked out a bunch of fun quick fantasy scenery to add to our Forestgrave tables including a standing stone and a big tree. There were also a few impossibly tiny planes as a diversion from fantasy!

Tiny, tiny 1/1200 RAF and Luftwaffe airplanes to trouble boats not quite as tiny.

August saw a return to naval stuff and small scale scenery, and September saw the arrival of Gaslands on the scene, which has provided much pandemic diversion since!

Mad mushroom jungles for properly fantastical fantasy gaming!

The Bubble Bursts…

The last quarter of 2020 saw tightening of our local COVID restrictions and the end of even limited in-person gaming, but before that we did get to see some mad mushroom jungle terrain and some other weird fantasy terrain before we finally turned to that most 2020 of communication solutions, online webcam conferencing, for a Gaslands gaming fix.

Gaslands by webcam, via OBS and Discord.

So, that was our 2020 here at the Warbard! A weird, stressful, very strange year but here’s hoping that sometime before the end of 2021 we’re back to in-person gaming, conventions, and something vaguely like pre-pandemic normality.

In the meantime, wear a mask, keep an eye on how soon you can get your COVID vaccine, try to get some hobby time in if your situation allows, and stay safe. Happy New Year, I guess!

Links of Interest, 17 August 2020

Nice little sculpting tutorial on doing feathers in greenstuff from JuanHidalgo Miniatures. I really like short, approachable tutorials like this, it’s something specific to concentrate on if (like me) you’re not much good with sculpting!

Speaking of YouTube, Dr Alexander Clarke has an interesting channel with WW2 and interwar naval stuff, mostly British. Similarly, Drachinifel does mostly WW2 naval history videos as well, more American navy but some others.

Boom & Zoom Graphics have a set of really approachable, humourous, but (far as I can tell) complete introductions to WW2 aircraft markings, painting, and camo, with entries for each of the major combatants. Superb reference for WW2 air if that’s largely a new field to you as it is to me!

More Small Scale Scenery Inspiration

There aren’t a lot of small scale scenery tutorials out there, either as videos or traditional blog post writeups. Viv on RubbishInRubbishOut, though, did some YouTube videos of Dystopian Wars scenery a few years ago, and it turns out that DW is in something approximating 1/1200 scale, more or less.

Table intro, part one of four.

Dystopian Wars table intro, painting & finishing the table, islands part one, and finally islands part two.

Also, Dispatches from the Front has been working on some fantasy naval scenery for Man’O’War using the Brigade Models buildings and it looks fantastic. Fantasy microscale terrain has a definite appeal, you can get grandiose epic terrain on the table that wouldn’t work at all in any larger scale!

Fifty (or so) Tiny Buildings

I’ve finished painting the last buildings of my first Brigade Models Small Scale Scenics order, before I start in on painting the buildings and scenic bits I got in my second Brigade order. This batch has the British town, village, and suburban buildings I didn’t use previously, a bunch of industrial buildings, and a couple of lighthouses.

The cutting mat in all of these photos is a one inch/half inch grid, for scale. The largest of these buildings is less than two inches long, and the smokestacks are all between an inch and an inch and a quarter tall.

In progress industrial buildings, in various shades of grubby brick. Click for larger.
Walled farmyards and various houses and such behind. Click for larger.
Everything all finished and off the painting sticks. Industrial buildings over on the left, two churches and a variety of detached houses centre, various town/village buildings on the right. Farms in the background. Click for larger.
The industrial buildings, churches, and a variety of houses. Click for larger.
Town and village buildings, and some more large detached houses on the right. Click for larger.
The farmyards, still with some work to do on the actual yards but the buildings complete at least. Click for larger.
Lighthouses and Martello towers. Click for larger.
A streetscape of sorts, most of the village/town buildings pushed together roughly with the larger church behind. Keep in mind most of these buildings are about 1/4 inch wide! Click for larger.

Now that these are all done they’re getting varnished and then put back into storage for now, so that I can move on and finish some more partially finished projects before I come back to building more coastal modules and starting on the buildings from my second Brigade order.

Blinds & Markers for WW2 Naval Gaming

Most naval rules have spotting and target ID rules of some sort or another, often with various stages of “we think something’s out there” through “there’s probably a ship over there” to “It’s a German S-boat and it has started shooting at us!” or similar.

For example, Coastal Patrol published by TwoFatLardies uses both Blinds (for small groups of ships or dummies) and Markers (for possible individual ships, or dummies) so I’ve done up both 2″ and 1″ numbered tokens, designed to be printed on light card and then punched out or cut out for tabletop use.

The current PDF covers all the major combatants – the British Royal Navy, German Kriegsmarine, Italian Regia Marina, United States Navy, and Imperial Japanese Navy, and also includes generic Red Force & Blue Force markers, all numbered 1 through 12 in both 2″ and 1″ sizes. It’s available in both Letter (for those of us in North America) and A4 (for the rest of the world) for easy printing.

I might do up a second set of extra markers numbered 13 through 24 for larger scenarios; that would be straightforward enough.

Earlier this year I also did up a simple set of printable Star Shell & Moon Markers for naval gaming that you might also find useful.

If there’s any other combatants you’d like to see added to a future set, please let me know in the comments. Some of the larger Commonwealth navies, the Soviets, the smaller European nations?

Tiny Boats and Even Tinier Planes

When I did my first WW2 coastal order to Last Square back in November 2019, well over six months ago now, I added a pack of British Beaufighter/Beaufort and a pack of German Ju88 for the heck of it, chosen because both types of aircraft show up in the maritime strike role for most of the war with various loadouts.

I got them, looked at them, was dumbstruck by the insanely minute size of the things, and put them aside to paint the boats up instead. Having just finished (most of) the second order of Last Square coastal naval boats and being in a get-stuff-finished mood, I decided to have another look at the tiny tiny planes and figure out how to mount and paint them.

I recalled reading about using plastic broom bristles for masts and antenna previously, so I decided to test this out for creating flying stands suitable for tiny planes. I used the same 40mmx20mm thin acrylic bases I’m using for most of my boats, because I’ve got them, and I happened to have a micro-drill-bit in my tool stash almost perfectly the same size as the bristles I harvested off our household broom.

RAF Bristol Beauforts/Beaufighters, two mounted and one left loose. Click for larger.

I kept the flying heights fairly short, about one inch maximum, which means these planes are all coming in at wavetop height, pretty much, which seems to make sense when attacking small coastal vessels and is way, way easier to store than taller possibly more realistic height stands!

Two Beaufighters and two Ju88 mostly done, including recognizable national insignia on these tiny, tiny planes. Click for larger.
Extreme closeup of the unmounted Beaufighter and Ju88. I’m pleased with the look of the canopies, especially on the German Ju88 with their big “greenhouse” canopies covering most of the front end. Click for larger.

Painting Notes

All my current paints are from the Reaper Master Paints series. All six planes got a white primer, and then for the RAF I used Muddy Brown and Military Green for the topside camo; the underside is Heather Blue mixed with Rainy Grey which seems like a good match for the RAF “sky blue” grey-blue underside paint.

The Germans were a mix of Rainy Grey and Muddy Olive 1:1 for the all-over base coat, with two of the Ju88s getting slightly darker grey-green camo added with some additional Stone Grey added to the Rainy Grey/Muddy Olive mix.

I adding some highlighting along edges mostly by mixing a bit of Rainy Grey into the relevant base colour, and the Germans got some yellow recognition patches with Marigold Yellow. I also used some Games Workshop Nuln Oil (black) and Agrax Earthshade (brown) washes, especially along the roots of the wings.

The German iron crosses are Walnut Brown, a lovely almost-black that I use all the time instead of actual Pure Black.

The RAF roundels are Marigold Yellow, Sapphire Blue, Pure White, and Carnage Red.

Windows and cockpit canopies were picked out with Ghost White, a blue-tinted off-white.

For scale, I made sure to take this photo with my thumb “in the way”. That’s a standard CD I’m using to hold the planes, just for additional scale. These things are seriously tiny. Click for larger.
Side views, RAF Beauforts/Beaufighters on the left and Luftwaffe Ju88 on the right. Click for larger.
Tail end view, Beaufort/Beaufighter left, Ju88 to the right. Click for larger.
Forward view, same arrangement as previous. Click for larger.

Aircraft don’t actually play a huge role in most of the engagements coastal naval vessels find themselves involved in, so I don’t think I’ll be adding to my collection of tiny aircraft anytime particularly soon, but these turned out to be fun to paint and they ended up way better looking than I was thinking they would, given the diminutive size of the things!

New WW2 Tiny Boats

Latest batch of World War Two coastal naval vessels in 1/1200 scale is done and based. As with the previous vessels, these are all Figurehead from Last Square in the States. I’m especially pleased with the two German patrol trawlers (Vorpostenboote) with their dazzle/disruption camo scheme.

First of two Vorpostenboot. Click for larger.
Second Vorpostenboot. The two models are actually different, which is cool when representing these notably heterogeneous craft (almost all requisitioned trawlers pressed into service as escorts) on the table. Click for larger.

I also did up a few more Royal Navy Coastal Command craft, four Fairmile B Motor Launches and four 70′ British Power Boat (BPB) Motor Gun Boats. The BPBs are really tiny at 1/1200 scale, under 20mm long!

Four BPB Motor Gun Boats in the foreground and four Fairmile B Motor Launches in the background, all on 40mm long acrylic bases. Click for larger.

And the reason it’s been quiet here on the blog for the last couple of weeks is that I’ve been completely pulling my hobby/painting area apart and have finally mostly put it together again, all with the aim of installing a big Ikea shelving unit in one corner, a Kallax 57′ x 57′ monster.

The partially-rebuilt painting/hobby/game storage area! Click, as always, for larger.

The cubicles of the Kallax will fit a banker’s box (there’s a couple in there already) which is already my standard method of storing and transporting scenery. I’m still planning a massive sort of my scenery stockpile, which will (to be honest) probably take another couple of months in bits and pieces. There’s stuff in the stash that hasn’t hit the table in years and year because it’s buried under other things or just straight up been misplaced and I don’t actually know where it is!

Links of Interest, 1 July 2020

For this Canada Day in a time of pestilence abroad in the land, the usual mix of individual links and items that don’t quite warrant an entire freestanding post, as is an irregular feature of this blog.

Curt of the always-awsome Analogue Hobbies blog has been doing 2mm Napoleonics at a really high standard, including gorgeously painted tiny renditions of the various buildings made famous by the Battle of Waterloo. He’s previously posted about his 2mm Nap armies, as well.

I am getting more and more tempted to do either Russian Civil War or 17th C English Civil War in 2mm… to which end I recently bought the Forward March 2mm Library and might need to get some things 3d printed for me. I quite like the thought of a single print bed of bases being an entire army, and I’ve always liked the “miles of battlefield all at once” look of small scale gaming even though I’ve done nothing smaller than 15mm (and far more 28mm than anything else) for many years now.

Rather nice little tutorial on doing bog or fen areas easily with patterned clear plastic sheet over on Lead Legionaries. This is a terrain type I’ve been meaning to do for several years now but it’s still somewhere on the endless to-do list.

On the WW2 naval gaming side, which I want to get back to sometime soon, I recently discovered the nicely laid out german-navy.de which has good short articles and illustrations of nearly everything the WW2 Kreigsmarine built or planned to build, from the workaday utility boats like the well known R-boote to the insane jet-powered hydrofoil they were dreaming of far too late in the war to actually matter. (German military designers spent the entire war hopped up on the Very Best Drugs, you can’t convince me that isn’t true!) If you have found a similar resource for other WW2 navies (especially the Royal Navy) I’d love to know about it.

Happy Canada Day if you happen to be Canadian, Happy (upcoming) Independence Day if you’re American, and hope July is good to you regardless of where you’re reading this from!

Star Shell & Moon Markers for Naval Games

Both Narrow Seas and Coastal Patrol (and probably other naval games, I’m guessing) include rules for the moon being full or partial in their sighting and visibility rules, and a difference if your target is silhouetted against the moon or “down-moon”. They’ve also got rules for star shells and flares, with a different diameter in each game – 12″ diameter in Coastal Patrol, 8″ in Narrow Seas.

Accordingly I decided to crank out full moon, partial moon, and star shell illuminated area markers suitable for both games.

Thumbnail of the full and partial moon markers.

The star shell markers are quarter-circles; you could print four and tape them together, I guess, or just do what I intend to, use the quarter circle as a quick flexible marker for the extent of the illuminated area around a marker denoting the centre of it.

The moon graphic was originally from OpenClipArt.org, still a useful site but much, much messier than it used to be. I suspect the moon in that image was pulled in from elsewhere on OpenClipArt, but searching that site has become harder and harder. I cut mine out separately with a circle cutter then glued them back to back for ease of use.

Star Shell Markers

I’ve done four simple 3d starshell/flare markers for use on the tabletop to mark the centre of an illuminated area and the actual star shell location, each a length of wire on a 25mm MDF base with tufts of cotton wool for the characteristic smoke/light effect you see in photos of starshells. They’re a bit rough but they work, I think.

Star shells over Iraq. Image via Wikipedia, originally taken by USAF personnel.

The bases are 2mm thick MDF and 25mm wide; I used the same water effects with gloss gel that I use on terrain for this naval projects then did some basic highlighting with white paint to kind of give the effect of light glaring off the water.

Four star shells bracket a really, really unfortunate Royal Navy Fairmile D motor gun boat. Click for larger.

I worked a bit of white glue into the cotton wool so the whole thing was more wargamer-proof and the plumes stand up better.

We’ve only done two games since actually introducing the illumination rules to Coastal Patrol, and it’s fascinating to watch how the illuminated areas are treated like “terrain” to be avoided while maneuvering around the table. They definitely add tactical complexity to the small unit naval game!

Tiny Ships: A Game of Coastal Patrol

As mentioned last weekend after our game of Narrow Seas, we also wanted to try out Coastal Patrol, available in the Summer 2011 Special from TooFatLardies.

I managed not to take a single photo during either of the two games Corey and I ran today, but nothing about the visible setup we’ve got has changed in a week except that all my 1:1200 scale boats are properly based, on 20mm wide by 40mm long by 1.5mm high clear acrylic bases ordered from Litko.

tiny ships on bases
Tiny ships all based on 20mm wide by 40mm long 1.5mm tall acrylic bases from Litko. Gloss varnish makes great glue for this sort of thing and won’t fog the acrylic the way superglue can. Click for larger.

The first game we ran was very small, a pair of Royal Navy Fairmile D MGBs (Motor Gun Boats) escorting a coastal freighter, under attack by a pair of S-38 mid-war Schnellboote. The S-boats roared in, fired all four of their ready torpedoes at the freighter while taking scattered gunfire from the MGBs, blew up the freighter, and roared off. As they were exiting the board one of the pursuing MGBs ran head-on into a stray mine (Coastal Patrol has a random events table that can be pretty lethally random!) and was blown out of the water.

For the second game we gave the Germans a convoy to escort, a freighter and a tanker somewhere along the coast of France early in the war. They had an armed trawler and two Raumsboote (R-Boats) escorting and were under attack by a quartet of tiny, lightly armed Vosper 73′ MTBs. This game ended in an absolute draw, as nobody lost any ships, although part of this was because we were messing with the Coastal Patrol torpedo rules and concluded that we’d taken them from massively powerful (any vessel struck by a torpedo is considered sunk automatically) down to nowhere near powerful enough because although the trawler and the freighter got hit neither took any serious damage. The Vospers all roared off into the night again, although one of them was taking on water quite badly, pumps just barely keeping up.

For both games we were (just like last weekend’s Coastal Patrol games) ignoring the rules for spotting, target ID, blinds/dummy markers, and all that stuff. I’ll be making some blinds and markers before our next games (of either system) so we can incorporate those rules, which are sure to change the on-table dynamic again.

Narrow Seas vs Coastal Patrol

So, compared to Narrow Seas, what are the rough similarities and differences? CP uses a TFL-style actions-per-activation system, with vessels getting between zero and three actions (diced for) every time their card comes up in the activation deck. This leads to some tense decision making, which I like. Do you maneuver your ship, run damage control, or fire, and at who?

One thing we definitely liked about CP vs NS is that CP’s turning circles are considerably smaller than the NS turning arcs. This makes the vessels feel more agile, and increases the effective size of the table.

CP’s firing is much simpler than the NS system, and involves much less dice rolling. We did seem to miss a lot more with CP than with NS, though, which isn’t really unrealistic with small vessels moving quickly over the water!

There are definitely a few rough spots and gaps in the Coastal Patrol rules. Some of the game mechanics don’t seem to be fully explained (damage from collision/ramming, for example) and although Making Smoke is an available order and Smoke Generators are listed as shipboard equipment on some of the damage tables, there are not in fact any rules for how smoke is intended to work… That said, there is a file of Coastal Patrol house rules out there that fill most of the gaps easily enough, but which I can’t currently find online to provide a link to!

We will be coming back to Coastal Patrol, and might stick with it as our main coastal naval rules, but we’ll have at least one more bash at Narrow Seas as there are definitely some things it does better than Coastal Patrol.