Above is a pic of Lt. Colonel James Galbraith, Regimental Colour in hand, alongside Bobbie the regimental dog and some of the other "Last Eleven" survivors of the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment, making their last stand in one of the walled gardens just South of Khig village, a few miles West of the Afghan town of Maiwand.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

"A Canal Too Far" for Operation Market Garden @ MINIWARS 2017

Time flies when you're having fun.

Hard to believe but it's been more than 2-1/2 years since I built a 6' long x 1' wide Rhine River for use in the Arnhem portion of a large OPERATION MARKET GARDEN game.

The original plan was to play out a scaled-down version of the entire operational level action, including the 101st Airborne at Eindhoven with 2 bridges over the Wilhelmina Canal, the 82nd Airborne at Nijmegen with 2 bridges over the Waal River, and the British 1st Airborne at Arnhem with probably the single most famous bridge of all over the Rhine.

This mega game was to be played at the upcoming HMGS-PSW (Historical Miniature Gaming Society-Pacific Southwest Chapter) MINI-WARS convention, to be held at California State University, Fullerton on the weekend of Friday September 28th to Sunday October 1st.

When this project first began a few years ago, I was recruited to provide the Rhine River (if you're interested, the post I did on building that river and the Arnhem game we played at the time can be reached via this LINK).  I also agreed to build the Wilhelmina Canal and Waal River, for the American Airborne portions of the game.  Of course, the real Operation Market Garden involved the securing of more than 5 bridges crossing over more than 3 waterways, but we weren't playing micro-armor, so the plan was for a somewhat "impressionistic" refight of the historical action, with the major terrain pieces being represented and fought over by the main units involved in the battle.

With this in mind I did some research on the Waal River and Wilhelmina Canal, bought a 4'x8' sheet of my trusty 3/16" dual-tempered MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard) at Lowe's and had it cut down to one 2'x4' and two 2'x6' boards, then went to work sketching out the pieces for a 6" wide x 7-1/2' long Wilhelmina Canal -- incorporating a "zig-zag" similar to the route the real canal takes near Eindhoven -- and a 1' wide x 7-1/2' long Waal River.

I also prepped an additional 18" long x 1' wide river section with one CURVED CORNER to add on to the existing 6' long version of the Rhine I'd built back in early 2015, because the GM wanted to be able to LINK the British Airborne landing table to the separate Arnhem City and Bridge table.

PART I:

VISUAL REFERENCE FOR THE WILHELMINA CANAL & WAAL RIVER IN HOLLAND...









PART II:

BUILDING THE RIVER & CANAL...

I cut out the pieces, then painted a BASE COAT of mixed Windsor & Newton DEEP TURQUOISE blue and Academy Acrylic THALO GREEN, let it dry thoroughly, then added a coat of mixed Liquitex Basics YELLOW OXIDE and BLACK, which I find makes a very realistic "DRAB RIVER GREEN."

After letting that dry very thoroughly, it was time for a coat of GOLDEN EXTRA HEAVY GLOSS GEL for the Waal River.  After that dried thoroughly, I added a SECOND COAT, to give a strong "moving river" feel to the surface texture.

For the Canal, I used a different method.  I mixed my drab river green with GLOSS MOD PODGE, in order to add color to the textured "water surface," so it would look more smooth and less choppy than the rivers.






ADD-ON CURVED-EDGE RIVER PIECE FOR
RHINE VISIBLE AT BOTTOM OF PIC BELOW...


























EXTRA HEAVY GLOSS GEL on an inexpensive 1" brush...











SECOND COAT OF EXTRA HEAVY GLOSS GEL, FOR THAT TRULY "WET" RIVER EFFECT...






PART III:

SETTING UP THE BATTLEFIELD...

I brought my GLOSS MOD PODGE along to use on the "MOAT" already prepared by our GM for KRONENBURGER PARK.  It looked fine with his blue-green paintjob, but I knew it would look even better with some rippling water surface texture...





Then it was time to cut some BLUE FOAM I'd brought along to help outline the few curved sections of the canal banks, so they'd blend in seamlessly with the straight-edged blocks we were using to line the 7-1/2' long canal below the TERRAIN CLOTH...








Meanwhile on the smaller 6' x 7-1/2' Nijmegen table, we set the 4 Waal River sections (3 x 2' long, and one 18" long) down into the slot already prepared for them...


It's crossed by 2 bridges, the main "Hell's Highway" bridge, and the railway bridge...


And there's the KRONENBURGER Tower ensconced above its MOAT -- now complete with rippling surface, courtesy of the ever-popular and very affordable GLOSS MOD PODGE...






The venue for all St. Crispin's Irregulars "Hobby Days" --
the Knights of Columbus hall in Anaheim, California...



VISIBLE IN PIC BELOW ARE FRANK "'BAMA" PATTERSON (LATE OF THE GREAT STATE OF ALABAMA) AND NAVAL & MILITARY HISTORIAN AND WRITER JEFF BALLARD*, WHO ATTENDED THE GAME TO HELP RESEARCH AN ARTICLE HE'S WRITING ON MINIATURE WARGAMING FOR SABER & SCROLL MAGAZINE, AND WOUND UP CO-COMMANDING XXX CORPS (AND DOING AN EXCELLENT JOB)...

(*Visit Jeff's website -- with info on his research & publications -- by clicking HERE)


GERMAN SENTRIES AT BOTH ENDS OF THE MAIN CANAL BRIDGE...


THE SECONDARY CANAL BRIDGE, VISIBLE TOWARDS BOTTOM OF PIC BELOW, CANNOT SUPPORT ARMORED VEHICLES...


NIJMEGEN AND THE WAAL RIVER...



NIJMEGEN WITH ITS TWIN MEDIEVAL TOWERS
(ONE SURROUNDED BY THE NOW-RIPPLING MOAT)...


BACK ON THE MAIN TABLE, DOWNTOWN EINDHOVEN
SITS ASTRIDE THE HELL'S HIGHWAY CROSSROADS...



PART IV: THE GAME.......

***Anyone interested in the excellent "FIRE & MANEUVER" rules as used for this game and written by the GM, please feel free to CLICK ON THIS LINK and reach a brief synopsis of the rules.  NOTE: when you reach the page, CLICK ON THE INDIVIDUAL PAGES & SCROLL THROUGH THEM for easier reading.***

I really wanted to make this game, which in reality I was only a mid-size part of, into a Reiff family affair, since my 20 year-old son who was home from college expressed interest in attending and so did my 17 year-old daughter -- their 14 year-old younger sister didn't, and I wasn't strong-arming anyone!

But turned out it was the last weekend before my son was heading back to college on the other side of the country and he made some last-minute plans to get together with some friends, which was a bit of a disappointment for me, but I totally understood.  Meanwhile, my 17 year-old daughter, Izzy, asked a couple of her own friends -- a girl whose family plays a lot of boardgames and a guy with intrest in the military -- and they both expressed interest in playing, so in a way it was a "Reiff Family Adjacent" affair, which was great, as all three of the relative neophytes (Izzy, being my daughter, has of course played in a number of miniature wargames over the years) had a good time playing and really enjoyed themselves.  This is a testament to the visual appeal of the high quality armies and terrain, the well-crafted and balanced scenario and the simple but not simplistic "FIRE & MANEUVER" rules, both of which -- rules & scenario -- came courtesy of the GM who ran the game and will also be running it at the upcoming MINIWARS convention, JG Randall.

Now, on to the action...

US Army 101st Airborne Division "SCREAMING EAGLES"...


GERMAN INFANTRY...


AMERICAN GLIDERS...


101st AIRBORNE DESCEND ON DROP ZONES BETWEEN WILHELMINA CANAL & WAAL RIVER...


WTH PATHFINDER'S BLUE SMOKE VISIBLE IN B.G., ONE NERVOUS "SCREAMING EAGLE" GETS TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT TO A DUTCH WINDMILL...











RAIL BRIDGE OVER THE WAAL RIVER AT NIJMEGEN...


GERMAN GARRISION TROOPS...


506th PARACHUTE INF. ADVANCE ON ENTRENCHED 88...


GERMAN 88 SWINGS AROUND AND GOES INTO ACTION...


506th APPROACH CANAL BRIDGE DEFENDED BY 88...


GERMAN REINFORCEMENTS EN ROUTE ACROSS CANAL FROM US AIRBORNE...


MEANWHILE AT FAR END OF TABLE, BRITISH XXX CORPS  COMMENCES THEIR DRIVE TO LINK UP WITH THE PARATROOPERS...


...AND THERE ARE MORE WHERE THEY -- XXX CORPS -- CAME FROM:


MEANWHILE US AIRBORNE & GLIDER REINFORCEMENTS AWAITS ACTIVATION...


RED CHIT MARKS A UNIT -- US 60mm MORTAR -- EXPENDING A ROUND OF FIRE...


HUNKERED DOWN ACROSS ROAD, 506th INF. POOR FIRE ONTO THE GERMAN 88...




SECOND WAVE GLIDER REINFORCEMENTS ARE ACTIVATED...




GERMAN 88 AND 506th Parachute Inf. GO AT EACH OTHER, AMERICANS SUPPORTED BY OUT-OF-VIEW MORTAR FIRE...


THE 88 IS DESTROYED... 


AND ITS INF. SUPPORT SURRENDERS...




FRESH GERMANS TROOPS LINE UP ON THE OTHER SIDE OF WILHELMINA CANAL, JUST ACROSS THE BRIDGE...


504th PARACHUTE INF. TAKES SECONDARY BRIDGE OVER CANAL...



COORDINATED ASSAULT BY 506th & 504th Parachute Inf. FORCES GERMANS TO ABANDON POSITION ACROSS THE CANAL AND RETREAT TO EINDHOVEN...



MEANWHILE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE TABLE...


FORWARD ELEMENT OF XXX CORPS REACHES WEST EDGE OF EINDHOVEN...



BACK TO THE EAST OF EINDHOVEN, US AIRBORNE DIGS IN ALONG "HELL'S HIGHWAY"...



VIEW LOOKIN EAST FROM XX CORPS START-LINE, WITH EINDHOVEN IN MIDDLE AND WILHELMINA CANAL IN THE DISTANCE BEYOND...


PEGBOARD USED TO TRACK TACTICAL "ADVANTAGE" -- BASED ON DESTRUCTION OF ENEMY UNITS AND/OR ACHIEVEMENT OF OBJECTIVES -- AND AWARD
"+" MODIFIERS FOR TURN-BY-TURN INITIATIVE ROLL-OFFS AS THE GAME PROCEEDS.

HERE WE ARE ON TURN XI, WITH THE ALLIES ENJOYING
A SIGNIFICANT "+5" MODIFIER -- MEANING THE GERMANS
MUST ROLL A 6 ON A D6 IN ORDER TO WIN INITIATIVE...


XXX CORPS FACES BIT OF TRAFFIC JAM HEADING INTO EINDHOVEN...



AMERICAN AIRBORNE HOLD BOTH SIDES OF THE MAIN CANAL BRIDGE...


...AND REMAIN ENTRENCHED ALONGSIDE THE ROAD LINKING THE BRIDGE TO EINDHOVEN.

THE AIRBORNE COME UNDER FIRE FROM THE GERMANS WHO RETREATED FROM THE BRIDGE INTO THE CITY, WHO TURN OUT TO HAVE OCCUPIED THE CHURCH NOW ENFILADING THE AMERICAN POSITION...



LEADING UNIT OF XXX CORPS ARMOR AND ALLIED AIR SUPPORT PREPARE TO DESTROY THE GERMANS IN THE CHURCH...


...BUT THE GERMAN MORALE BREAKS AND THEY RUN, MAKING FURTHER DESTRUCTION OF THE DUTCH CITY UNNECESSARY...




THE TIP OF XXX CORPS' SPEAR REACHES THE MAIN CANAL BRIDGE...


GERMAN HALFTRACK BURNS ALONGSIDE THE ROAD...


THE ONE BRITISH SHERMAN TAKEN OUT BY THE GERMANS BEFORE THEY BROKE AND RAN BURNS BLACK BACK IN EINDHOVEN...




...BUT THE SMOKE CANNOT HIDE THE ALLIED VICTORY.


*****   *****   *****


This was a helluva game -- and I don't just say that because I was on the winning team, which was led by my 17 year-old daughter!

The Allies kept their eyes on the ball from the start, moving towards their objectives ASAP after landing. They were lucky not to suffer much in the way of parachute or glider mishap casualties (unlike the British Airborne & Glider troops in our previous Arnhem playtest).

And from my vantage point across the Canalwith the 101st, at the far end of the table, XXX Corps seemed to be rolling along rather nicely as well.

My daughter got on a roll right from the start and won virtually every initiative die-roll.  We also did a consistently good job estimating indirect fire ranges (in "Fire & Manuvre" there's no pre-measurement allowed) for mortars and howitzers, and she didn't hesitate to spend "COMMAND COINS" and pass out MOVE and/or FIRE chits when her subcommanders needed them, including spending extra for RADIO COORDINATION to allow our two separate Parachute Infantry Regts. to coordinate support fire and attacks.

We sustained casualties, but all our units remained intact and able to function, while achieving our goals of taking and holding both of the two bridges over the Wilhelmina Canal, and dispersing or destroying the Germans units that were holding or reinforcing them.

By the time we dug in on the Eindhoven side of the main Canal bridge, XXX Corps was fighting its way into the city center, and the next turn they were driving out, with the last of the German defenders having broke and run, making it unnecessary for either XXX Corps, our US Airborne forces, or Allied Air Support to destroy the church where they had taken shelter.

The only downside to this play-test game was the fact that when it was over, we didn't proceed to the next table, where the 82nd Airborne were supposed to cross the Waal River and take Nijmegen.  But when the game it replayed at the upcoming MINIWARS CONVENTION at CalState Fullerton, on Saturday, September 30th, that will not be a problem!

Sadly I won't be able to be there to see this great big game come together, as it wil be taking place on the same day as Yom Kippur, the "Day of Atonement" and most important religious holiday of the Jewish year... and I'm Jewish.  This is an unfortunate coincidence that resulted from the original convention dates which were requested by HMGS-PSW being unavailable at the university.

Despite being disappointed at not being able to attend and help with setting up and Assistant GM-ing, I'm happy I was able to help with the preparations for the game.

I hope that at some point in the future (maybe at another convention?) the entire operational level game -- including both the Rhine and Waal Rivers AND the Wilhelmina Canal, as well as the British 1st Airborne in addition to the US 82nd and 101st -- will be up and running for me to see and participate in, either as an Assistant GM or player.

But for now, if anyone reading this post has interest in attending MINIWARS and playing in the Eindhoven & Nijmegen games, I highly encourage you to do so -- and here's a LINK to the OFFICIAL SITE where you can easily purchase tickets:


I wish my friends -- JG Randall the GM, and his assistant GMs Frank "'Bama" Patterson & Michael "Reggie" Davis -- and everyone who shows up to play in the MARKET GARDEN game a lot of fun, whether they end up achieving victory... or defeat.  After all, at least in my book, either way you really can't lose!



10 comments:

  1. Это выглядит просто великолепно! Браво!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. From the Russian, via Google Translate:

      It looks just great! Bravo!

      Thanks very much for your kind words, Andrei! I need to leave a comment on your new great-looking Gurkhas post...

      Delete
  2. Sensational! An invaluable reference for anyone looking to create river sections and such an amazing looking game.

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    Replies
    1. Many thanks for your kind words, Michael, and glad to hear you think the river building info can be useful!

      Delete
  3. Ethan, what an Epic endevior and great looking game. The rivers look awesome, great technique and execution. One of my favorite pics is the line of German prisoners being rounded up.
    Too notch AAR!
    Way to go General Izzy, job well done.
    Cheers,
    JB

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  4. The step by step tutorial on river building would have been a great post on it's own, but with the added aar it's an even better post!
    Best Iain

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  5. Great stuff Ethan you are a master builder like the Sgt I too really like seeing those prisoners being lead away!

    Best
    Willie

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  6. Lovely stuff! The river sections look very realistic, and a great game report too.

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  7. What a creative and wonderful job, excellent and inspirational post!

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  8. Superb looking terrain and game. Love the river sections you made.

    ReplyDelete