Monday, 16 March 2015

Video run through of the Lorient Dockyards board

In response to various requests we have provided a video overview of the board we set up for the "Battle of the Lorient Dockyards 1942" which features our U 505 submarine.
More details are in our previous post, but sometimes it is just better seeing the board in more detail.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Attack on Lorient - First test game

U Boat 505 being repaired in Lorient Dock
After many weeks preparing, we finally had our first playtest of our new demo board for our Attack on Lorient Submarine Dock 1942 game. We had a couple of challenges as we needed to have 6 x 600 point armies and 3 objectives.

The Armies:


Commandoes by Sea

These fellows arrive by rubber boat (6 inches movement) and can grapple up 6 inches from a fixed point in one turn.
HQ 2 men, 4 squads (6 men: LMG, 2 SMG, 3 Rifle), Sniper Team with "Up and at 'em" special rule.
The view from the Police Station
The commandoes come by sea

Commandoes by Land

These fellows come in from the right hand side of board when looking at the dock from the beaches. Same as other force but replace Sniper with MMG team.


HQ, 1 squad of Veteran Guerillas (LMG, SMG, 6 Rifles),  3 Partisan squads (LMG, Pistol, SMG, 7 rifles), MMG team.  They have the modified special Partisan rule of 2 Bombs set into the War memorial in front of the police station. If one goes off, the memorial and second bomb is destroyed.  Basically it is 2 chance for the bomb to work.
The secret weapon stolen from the British

Battle on the U Boat

The German Defenders


The ship Captain, 2nd Lieutenant HQ, 4 squads Kriegsmarine (LMG, SMG, 8 rifles), Regular MMG. 2 squads are patrolling at the start of the game, the rest are asleep in the Hotel or houses near the submarine, MMG set up on ambush.

Port Defenders

HQ, 4 regular Heer (LMG, SMG, 7 rifles), MMG. 1 squad within 6 inches of winch house guarding secret prize, another on patrol anywhere, MMG set up on ambush.
At times, assaults are rubbish

SS Reinforcements

HQ, SS Veteran squad (LMG, SMG, 6 rifles), 2 Heer Regulars (LMG, SMG, 8 rifles), MMG team, Sdkfz 222. These guys come in from edge near the church, top left corner.

"We killed someone!" - newbies celebrating their first kill

The Objectives


On return from a secret mission (so not recorded in the history books) U 505 was hit by a RAAF plane and severely damaged. The U boat was carrying 3 stolen prototypes from a British Research Laboratory, codenamed Ironsides. 2 were destroyed in the bombing and the surviving Ironside is stored in the Winch house.  The U boat contains the plans for the German Secret laboratory to which the Ironside is destined.
Meanwhile Father Pierre is in custody in the prison with information critical to the resistance.

  1. The Commandoes by Sea and Kriegsmarine must control the submarine superstructure in order to get the location of the German secret laboratory.
  2. The Commandoes by Land and Port Defenders need to capture or retain the surviving Ironside stored in the Winch house. 
  3. The Partisans and SS are in a rush to get into the Police Station and rescue/interrogate Father Pierre.

How did the game go?

We had a couple of new players who volunteered to help us out: my daughter and my son's girlfriend.  Neither had played before and so were a good testing ground for the game.  They played the Port Defenders.
The only way to protect the prize

2 Commandoes vs 5 remaining Kreigsmarine
The game began in Night time and from turn 3 we rolled to see if dawn broke.  The game stayed in night time until turn 7! This really meant lots of close combat as ranged shots were very difficult having to roll for the options to see at longer ranges.
The game worked well.  We will make some fine tuning of some of the forces, but the battle was pretty well balanced. The Germans retained control of the Ironside, while the Commandoes captured the U boat and the Partisans rescued Father Pierre.
We are ready for our first public playtest at The Combat Company Warehouse next Saturday 21 March from 10am.
Once we have done some more testing we will publish a full scenario as usual.


We now have created a video walkthrough of the table. Enjoy!

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Building Wooden Foot Bridges

The cheap Ingredients

While preparing our Attack on the Lorient Dockyards 1942 board, we needed some bridges to get from the walls to the submarine. Like most terrain we build, we want it to be useful for multiple boards and scenarios. And we wanted it to easy to make and inexpensive, yet look good.
So we started with the basic ingredients:
  • Pop Rivets 35mm long.
  • Icy Pole sticks/Coffee stirrers
  • Cheap wool
  • Super Glue
  • PVA Glue
Using the clippers trim the rounded edges of the wooden sticks.
Completed but unpainted
Then using some shorter pieces as supports make your bridge. You can be rough or neat depending on the look you want. At this point all you are using is the wooden stocks and PVA glue.
Now we want our rails. Drill holes near the edge and at roughly 1 inch intervals. Then poke the pop rivets in so they stick through about 1 cm or half an inch. Use superglue to keep them in position.
Once dry use the wool to create the rope railing, wrapping it around each pop rivet, move it down over the edge and then around the base of each pop rivet. This is to give the bridge lots of strength, and it looks good too.
Then paint the wool with PVA glue.  This strengthens the wool, sticks down the fibres and makes it all very strong.
Lastly, you need to trim down the pop rivets at the end of the bridge.  Either use tough pliers or grind them down - or get some shorter pop rivets for the end poles!
Painted and beautiful
This step is important to allow the bridge to rest on the edge of whatever you are placing it against.  The longer poles in the middle keep it stable.
Then paint it brown with black wash and finally paint it with some satin varnish (we buys ours in a 500ml tin from the paint store).
It turns out pretty well and will work for any setting from modern to ancient where the construction would have been done using basic wood and rope materials.
This isn't going to end well...
Lastly, you can see how we have used it in our dockyards game. We have placed a bridge from each of the Heights Project bridge ends. They make it perfectly across to the sub to provide for a great cinematic charge or two.

Lastly we had a bit of fun with our Gandalf figure and the phrase so many keep repeating, "None Shall Pass".
We couldn't avoid the pun.

This is what bridges are for.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Attack on Lorient Submarine Dock France 1942

U-505: Winner of the most heavily damaged
U-boat to successfully return to port
We have updated our planned submarine dockyards demo game based on great feedback and suggestions from the very supportive Bolt Action community. Our initial gut feel was that this option was feasible and we liked the idea of a massive boat being fought over, but I hadn't done any historical research to justify the scenario.  As it was were were out by 2 years. And the story is much more interesting too!

Attack on Lorient Submarine Dock 1942

The German U boat U-505 was Commissioned 26 August 1941 and went on active duty 1 February 1942, based at Lorient, France.

In Lorient, the submarine pens were commenced on 2 February 1941 and completed in January 1943. 15,000 mostly slave labourers and German overseers began three separate pen enclosures 2,000 feet in length 425 feet wide and 63 feet high, topped further by a seven section, 25-foot thick reinforced concrete roof using concrete exceeding 3.4 million cubic feet.
Until these monstrous pens were completed, the U-boas were repaired using the better repair facilities compared to Norwegian ports.
On 10 November 1942, U 505 had nearly fallen victim to the U boat hunting skills of RAAF pilot Flight Sergeant Ronald Sillcock. He had perfected the technique of locating a U-boat by radar and then turning his radar off and patrolling out of sight in the clouds. Once he had a good visual identification he would cut his engines and dive out of the sun for a surprise precision attack. Two U-boats had been seriously damaged by this method in recent weeks.
Unfortunately for Sillcock and his crew the attack on this occasion had been too precise. As his depth charges hit U-505 and exploded, he was directly overhead. His Lockheed Hudson was wrecked and the entire crew killed.
On U-505 the Engineering Petty Officer led a determined attempt to save the submarine by plugging the hole in the hull and the boat was able to limp back to France, earning the distinction of being the ‘most heavily damaged U-boat to successfully return to port’.
Now is the chance for a targeted attack by a team of Commandoes guided by a team of local partisans to capture the enigma machine in the sub and finish the job that Flight Sergeant Ronald Sillcock gave his life for.


Sunday, 1 March 2015

The French Dockyards Part 2 - The sub is built

It takes two to hold the hull together.
Plain Grey Plastic is boring
We have been busy this week building our submarine as the centre piece of our French Dockyards 1944 board. In our heads we thought we could imagine 42 inches of submarine goodness, but it was still quite large in reality.
Being a quality plastic model there are LOTS of tiny little details and pieces everywhere. Even though we won't be using most of them they certainly add to the style of the boat. The difficulty level of a Revell model goes from 1 (easy) to 5 (advanced).  This definitely earned the 5 rating.  The first step was to drill lots of holes in the hull to which the side rails would eventually be attached. This is nothing like the resin tank models with 3 to 10 parts.
This was over 160 parts from little foot rails around 5 mm across to the massive hull sections.
The end result was a success.  Just placing it on the board encouraged us to start placing figures in various battle positions on and around the boat.
Now this boat is 1/72nd scale.  The reason we can get away with this is that it is part of the scenery, but troops will not be going in it.  They may hide around the superstructure, or we will have special rules so they can race to use the 2 twin 20mm or 37mm AA guns on the deck, but in general it is great "eye candy".
Hmmm. Perhaps not.
Now that it is built we had to face the prospect of doing it justice by painting it properly.  Our first idea was to use a grey spray paint and touch it up, but a fellow gamer who is a much better painter than us asked if we wanted to use an Air brush.  "We'd love to," we replied, "But haven't yet advanced to that level."
She then most generously offered to paint it for us with her excellent air brush and superior painting skills.  We'll trade with a specially organised demo game at her place. Wait till you see this next week!
Looking at the plain grey submarine, my family thought that we should consider using the historical documentary "Operation Petticoat" as a guide and paint it pink.  I did a mock up with Photoshop. Perhaps not.


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