Sunday, January 28, 2024

Cassino Campaign- Game 4

 A few random updates for the week

Cassino Campign Game #4- Crossing the Garigliano

The forth game in my campaign is completed. the Royal Scots Fusiliers Cross the Garigliano river, Janaury 19, 1944. Cassino Campaign- Game #4- Crossing the Garigliano. to prepare for the game I "needed" some extra British infantry. 

British Infantry reinforcements

I have a platoon of the lovely Perry Miniatures metal  WWII range for the Italian campaign but they are true 28mm and quite slight compared to Artizan Designs and Warlord games figures as well as being a few mms shorter so as a result don't fit that well together so I spent a few days contemplating upgrading hem. II was goinmg ot use Artzan Miniatures but after a bit of online research decided to take a punt and get some of the plastic Warlord Games LW British/ Canadian infantry to add to the ranks.

A video of the figures I painted can be found here

I must admit I have been no fan of the Warlord games plastic figures. The first ones I bought a decade ago were crap and a pain in the arse to put together so I gave up on them and stuck mainly to metals- and have not been overly impressed by the Warlord Games metals either.

Although mainly designed for the European Campaign for 1944-45 the kit includes the earlier model helmets and so has potential and truth be told I was pleasantly surprised then they arrived. I had a bit of a two night mission to paint up a box (30 figs) to get them to a table ready standard but got them done in time for the Garigliano river crossing game. I have done one section in Tam o shanters to represent the Scots.

The newer box sets are much better than the old original ones and so I can definitey see me adding some Warlord plastics to my collection. I was so pleasantry surprised that I’ve ordered another box and a box of the 8th army to kit-bash some kiwi sections for Italy in long trousers- and with thompson SMGs. 

Speaking of which yesterday I popped down to Dunedin for a game of Warmaster and my mate Richard who now has a gaming store down there was kind enough to give me a sprue of 8th army (I was after some of the aforementioned Thompson submachine guns) so I decided to add some trousers to the figures with greenstuff last night and painted the first batch up. I am very happy with the result and am looking forward to completing the rest of this project soon. 


I’ve also completed some fortifications of the games in Italy- barbed wire, minefields, pillboxes and entrenched/dug in markers. A short video of  them can be found here

Finally, yesterday as I said earlier I popped down to Dunedin yesterday and had a couple of games of Warmaster with Tiff and Jonanthon which were very enjoyable. Warmaster games look fantastic on table.  

Unti next time


Sunday, January 14, 2024

Solo gaming the battles for Monte Cassino

 I’ve always had an interest in the Battles of Monte Cassino, partly due to the involvement of the 2nd NZ Division in the battles.  My first two games of getting back into Bolt Action were themed on the Free French trying to outflank the Gustav line just prior to the start of the Battles for Monte Cassino so I’ve decided to continue this theme into a solo wargaming campaign.

I’ve some excellent books on the campaign including John Ellis’ Hollow Victory and Plowman & Rowe’s Battles for Monte Cassino then and now which is an amazing resource for the battles.

So what I am thinking of doing, at least until I run out of interest and move on to my next shiny game/idea, is to fight a series of solo battles using the Bolt Action rules to fight games  inspired by some of the actual engagements. Bolt Action is a small scale (typically reinforced platoon) and may not obviously lend itself to such an approach but my thoughts are to run a series of games inspired by an actual engagement during the battle and refight aspects of the campaign.

This idea came about the other day when thinking about locating my first Free French vs Germans battle within the Italian campaign context and so chose the Free French attempts to outflank the Gustav in early January 194 as a starting point. That led me to considering running a larger narrative campaign and this is what I think I will do.

How I think I will do this is work my way though the campaign in chronological order and recreate small scale table top battles which could be part of the larger engagements using Ellis’s book to guide the various battles.

Using my initial games as a starting point I will continue with the Free French attempts to capture Monte San Croce and so bypass Cassino and the major defensive lines.

This is the outline of the various games in the first battle of Monte Cassino (Jan 11- Feb 9 1944) that I will enevour to game: 


  • The French Expeditionary Corps drive for the Gustav line: 11-24 Jan
  • X British Corps on the Garigliano: 17 Jan- 9 Feb
  • 36 US Division attempts to cross the Rapido River: Jan 20-22
  • II US Corps on the Cassino Mastiff: 24 Jan- 12 Feb
  • French Expeditionary Corps on Colle Belvedere: 25 Jan- 3 Feb

 For each of the different attacks I will play a series of three battles, forces of which will be based on my research into that particular battle.  


The games so far:

French Expeditionary Corps drive on the Gustav line

Game 1- Having secured their initial objectives Consta San Piedro the Free French advance towards the Rapido and try to secure crossing points on the Rapido River and capture Monte San Croce beyond. This was a successful assault and lead to game 2.


Game 2-  German counter attack of the newly established Free French Bridgehead- the Germans  launch a fierce counter attack against the newly established French Bridgehead and drive the French troops back across the Rapido river.


Final game:

Game 3- January 19th 1944, having taken heavy casualties and lacking reserves and with German resistance stiffening General Juin makes one last attempt to capture Monte San Croce and bounce the Gustav line. 



Some more reinforcements

 Today I built a second MMG pillbox and also a larger blockhouse which can house 8 men for my Italian Campaign for Bolt Action. I am prettty happy with how they turned out. 

I also made a nother Rubicon Sherman V for my Free French so now I can field a troop of three shermans. 


Saturday, January 13, 2024

Rubicon Shermans for Bolt Action

 Rubicon Models- M4A3 and M4A4 Shermans

 A few years back I bought a Rubicon M4A3 Sherman which I made as a close support (105mm) Sherman. Last week I picked up three more of the M4A4 Rubicon model which can be made as the M4A4, Sherman V, firefly VC Version A or B- so lots of options. The new models will become part of my Free French force for Bolt Action. 

Today I made up the first of the Shermans and was very happy with the kit. Rubicon have excellent detail on their models, clear instructions and the models are easy to put together.

I’ve modelled my Shermans to support my Free French which I will use for both the war in Italy 43-45 or also for the North West Europe campaign and have added French markings to them. 

I can highly recommend both models, my only gripe, and it is minor is that with the M4A4/Firefly version providing two turrets (high bustle and low bustle) and options for the Sherman M4A4, Mk V or firefly why, oh why didn’t they provide the three pieces of plastic required to have the applique armour added to the tank? Instead they give you a template and instructions to use .5mm styrene sheet to reproduce this armour. WTF? Sure I could drive to the nearest hobby store to get some styrene sheet (at least a 200km round trip) or order some online but why, with all the options and pieces included in the kit, couldn’t they squeee in these three pieces? I assume it would require retooling the moulds used on other Sherman models but it seems a rather silly oversight.

Anyway apart from that minor grumble I am very happy with the kits an look forward to fielding them both on the tabletop very, very soon.


Fortifications for Bolt Action


I decied I needed some dug in markers/ trenches for Bolt Action... along with some minefields and other miscellaneous field fortifications/ terrain. I had a fossick yesterday and discovered some barbed wire entanglements I'd made a few yars back and have made some more fortifications to go with them.

They are made out of MDF, balsa and premafilla. Pretty stright forward but turned out pretty good and I look forward to incluing them in my next battle. 

And a pillbox for a medium machine gun team. 


Friday, January 12, 2024

Back to WWII gaming

 Happy New Year and welcome back to my humble blog. 

It has been a while since I played any Bolt Action… a long while, more than five years in fact but have finally dug out my 28mm forces and decided to have a few games. I am using forces I painted up for the Italian campaign and getting used to the rules again playing some solo games.

Kent and I had quite a few games of Bolt Action mainly with first edition which we house ruled a fair bit to mitigate some of the dodgier aspects of the ruleset but had only a smattering of 2nd edition games under our belts.

I’ve decided to have a few games focused on the Italian Campaign 1943-44 and it is in this area that I think that Bolt action shines- along with the War in the Pacific, both of which I don’t think Flames of War does a very good job of representing.

I have never rated Bolt Action as a tournament game, too many dodgy things that can be exploited in the rules (and the various lists) but played with like minded people in the right spirit with appropriately themed and matched armies (I detect a slight hint of unconscious bias there) it can be a lot of fun and lends itself to solo gaming quite nicely too- that way I am guaranteed to get an opponent playing with a similar expectations of what they want out of the game.

Anyway, I dragged out some of my old terrain the other day and have had a couple of solo games to get used the rules and discovered that I missed World War Two gaming more than I realised so am keen to get a few more games in.

28mm German forces for the Italian Front

My plan is to concentrate on the campaign in Italy 1943-45, which is where most of my Bolt action armies have been themed for. It’s a bit different to the games set in NW Europe  an LW Germany where many players seem to focus an oft neglected sideshow both in the actual war (Rome was liberated 5 June 1944 and D-Day became the world focus the following day) but is a very interesting campaign, with a range of nationalities including Chech, Free French, South African’s Pole, Kiwi’s, Indians an many others along with the usual protagonists. As I said above Bolt Action lens itself quite nicely to this theatre where the terrain was often mountainous and the poor boy infantry slogged their way up the Peninsula. Along with the most well known battles of Salerno, Anzio, Cassino there were many other bloody battles fought in 43-45 as the allies sought to fought their way up the Italian Peninsula. I recall as a young lad of maybe 14 or 15 reading a book on Monte Cassino and being enamoured then spending several weeks scratch-building ruined buildings, preparing then running a game based on the Māori battalion’s attack on Cassino and the railway station- featuring my old Airfix pontoon bridge as well several buckets of fine shingle from my father’s garden path… ah good times.

Free French- manily using Artisan Designs figures. 

I have a bit of a mission ahead, going though old terrain, making some new stuff including some new pillboxes and fortifications.

I’ve had a couple of solo game of Bolt Action to reacquaint myself with the rules and have purchased myself some more Rubicon Shermans to support my Free French (what can I say they are on special) an hope to sort out a small campaign in the near future. I will try ot post a a few updates on this much too neglected these days blog but have made a couple of videos of my first solo games so far.

Battle #1- Free French vs Panzer Grenadiers

Battle #2: Free French vs Panzer Grenadiers

My Free French needed some more armoured support in the shape of Sherman Vs so grabbed a few while on special the other day. I have  a wee job ahead of me...

Finally, Jeff Plowman's The Battles for Monte Cassino then and now is an absolute treasure trove for anyone wanting to game Monte Cassino. It is one of my favourite books in my collection and can't recommend it highly enough.