Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Homemade 28mm Corn Stalks

I was inspired by a blog post on John Bond's Wargaming Stuff blog on how to make your own cornfields for 28mm wargaming.  I have been hesitant to spend more on model railroad cornstalks (JTT 2" O scale).  They certainly look great but can get pricey for the amount of corn stalks I want to have on the table.  I have also not been very successful creating cornfields using other techniques, so I am giving John's technique a go.

I was surprised that John spotted a fake IKEA plant (FEJKA) that can be easily used as corn stalks.  I have an IKEA close by, so popped in there, bought the plant and have been trying out John's technique.  I tried to follow the process exactly, but ended up changing it up slightly.  I explain my process in the video below.  I bet there are more improvements other people will come up, but it is pretty easy and fast to go through this process.  Basing wise, I'm probably going to try out using rubber floor mat material.  I first saw it in action on Black Magic Craft YouTube channel: Link.

My video below on how to make these corn stalks.

I will post an update once I finish a cornfield terrain piece.

Link to John's blog post: John Bond's Wargaming Stuff

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Battle of Spion Kop, a Bloody Big Battles scenario

I was inspired to run a Boer War scenario from a wargaming friend who had been reading a book about the Boer War.  I have not run a Boer War battle in a long time so figured I'd give it a go again.  This time using the Bloody Big Battle rules.  It turned out the Spion Kop scenario would work out good because I had all the miniatures for the scenario painted up and based already.  This would also be my first foray into the Bloody Big Battles rules.  I played in a Franco-Prussian War game awhile back, but really couldn't get into the rules as a player.

In all the Bloody Big Battles scenarios, you will notice a lot of terrain.  They are not simple throw down a few terrain elements, these can be elaborate winding rivers to expansive hills.  I wanted to see if I could come with a way to simply create these features for this game and future games.  I don't want to spend a lot of time building fancy terrain when I will only use the setup for a couple sessions and then I'm onto the next battle with a different layout.  I also really don't have the room to store the terrain.

I have a lot of future Bloody Big Battles scenario options that I want to do in the future in periods I already have a lot of 15mm miniatures for: Crimean War, 1859 Franco-Austrian War, and Boer War.

The Spion Kop, Boer War scenario by Anton van Dellen is a good one.  I would drop the British artillery can not fire at a Boer target if a British unit is within 9", British artillery suffers a left shift because of Boer camouflage, and British artillery suffers low ammo if they roll a 10 or more.

It is certainly a challenge to figure out visibility between units when you have hills in the battle.  I need to build a diagram to explain when units can see each other and when they are blocked by contours.

In the playtest and at the club, the British has it hard.  I was able to get to a draw in the playtest.  The club game we only made it through half the scenario turns and the British were struggling to take any of the objectives.

Video on the terrain and setup of the Spion Kop scenario.

Video showing the results from each of the 8 turn playtest.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Battle of Midway with Miniatures?

Can the Battle of Midway be played with miniatures?  This was the question I posed to myself three years ago after running the Operation Pedestal Malta Convoy game.

I have since purchased a number of Midway boardgames and looked through the miniature rules I own.

Here are the boardgames related to the Battle of Midway I own:

  • Midway (1964)
  • Midway (1991)
  • The Battle of Midway, 1942AD
  • The Battle of Midway (HBG)
  • Victory at Midway (Command magazine)
  • Midway (Avalanche Press 1st ed.)
  • Battle of Midway (Louis Coatney)
  • Fires of Midway
  • Fury at Midway
  • Task Force: Carrier Battles in the Pacific

These are the miniature rules I've played or read through:
  • Nimitz/Halsey
  • Seekrieg V
  • Sea Wars Fleet Actions
  • General Quarters (1975)
  • Naval Thunder
  • Midway Campaign (David Manley)
  • Victory at Midway
  • Command at Sea
  • Find, Fix and Strike

The miniature rules were either too complicated or lacked a simple map.  I chose to not focus on miniature rules mainly because of wanting a good map system that boardgames offer.

After testing the boardgames each at least twice, I came up with three main criteria for what is key during the battle that has to be well represented in the game:
  1. Search for your opponents Task Forces.
    • Dice roll (or random chance) to see if search planes detect Task Forces.
  2. Damage to Midway by Japanese planes.
    • Midway has to see some sort of recordable damage from each wave of Japanese bombers.
  3. Damage to carriers.
    • Something more than just a two hit damage result to sink a carrier.
As you can see from my long list of boardgames, I have had not much luck finding a game that meets the three criteria above.  This was until I recently bought Task Force: Carrier Battles in the Pacific and played the Midway scenario.  It met all three and is a quality game.  Midway by Avalanche Press is good, but the damage to airfields rules is not great.  Victory at Midway and The Battle of Midway, 1942AD are not bad.  I recommend Task Force: Carrier Battles in the Pacific by Vucasims.  I look forward to trying out the non-Midway scenarios (i.e. Battle of the Coral Sea).

Task Force rules Midway scenario.  Japanese and Americans can not 
deploy closer to Midway than their corresponding lines on the map.

Recently the Nimitz/Halsey rules by Sam Mustafa was published.  There are two rules published together in one PDF.  Nimitz is the surface miniature rules and Halsey is the campaign level rules.  The Halsey rules is also recommended for the Battle of Midway.  There is even a Midway scenario included.  I think the Halsey rules have an edge over Task Force: Carrier Battle in the Pacific when it comes to the display/use of miniatures.

Halsey Midway scenario map.

Ship Miniatures:

Looking at the Order of Battle for the Midway naval campaign there is a large number of Japanese and American ships involved.  The focus of the battle mainly involved the Task Forces of four Japanese carriers and the three American carriers.

GHQ 1:2400 miniatures would look great, but a bit too expensive for me.  I can see myself buying 1:3000 miniatures to use in conjunction with the previously mentioned rules.  1:6000 miniatures are just too small.  I recommend 1:3000 ships (i.e. NAVWAR).

Air Miniatures:

I have used 1:600 for some recent naval battles.  I have found that this scale is a good one to use for either 1:2400 or 1:3000 ships.  I recommend Tumbling Dice Miniatures and Pico Miniatures for 1:600 WWII planes.


The Battle of Midway is doable using a map system with miniatures.  I think the real question is, does it make sense running the historic battle?  It is tough for the Japanese to win.  The U.S. reconnaissance is a lot more extensive than the Japanese.  The Japanese have a very low probability of spotting the U.S. carriers before they are spotted.  I have no problem putting together the scenario.  I would enjoy painting up the ships and solo playtesting through the scenario.  Would actual players be okay playing the Japanese and be ready for losing all their carriers?  Maybe I would have to run the Japanese and two or three players play the U.S. Task Forces and Midway island.