Saturday, 3 October 2015

6mm scratch-built entrenchments for Great War Spearhead II

I love an excuse to drop everything and scratch build something.

I was setting up for my second game of Great War Spearhead II (GWSH II) with the aim of playing the "A Hot Day's Work" – a tasty little introductory scenario from Robin Sutton's The Great Adventure. This provides another hypothetical rearguard action by the BEF during the Great Retreat of 1914 – this time with a few more troops on each side and the lack of a bridge over an impassable river to focus one's defence on!

I was ready to go when, on rereading the scenario background, I saw that the BEF could start the game entrenched. 'But you don't have any entrenchment markers!', I hear you say.

I've always ben rather keen on the foxholes and trench markets produced by Timecast. So, I thought I'd have a go at something similar and decided to use card bases and form the trenches using caulking compound.

Here's a quick step by step:

Add a blob of acrylic caulking compound to each 30 x 30 mm (1.1/4") square of thick card.
Wet your fingertip (stops it sticking) and smooth it out over the base. Then sprinkle a strip of flocking either side
while wet - be careful to leave the centre clean.
While the caulk was drying a little, I cut a trench-like template from a cheap plastic crate (purchased from a thrift shop - I use them for a range scratch building tasks - e.g. 28mm window frames etc.)
When the caulk is touch dry (20 minutes on a warm day) wet the template and press it into the caulk. Be sure to press each section down firmly - I used a screwdriver blade.
Gently lift out the template. You have a passable trench impression. I then went over each with a palate knife and reshaped the caulk and scratched it away down to the card on the trench floor.
They need some work work in terms of a bit of dry brushing to give the earth more texture. You could also add shell holes and other interesting detail if you are inclined.

Here they are in action (well... abandoned!). As I say, some detailing will take them the next step.
For a quick job, I feel they make a passable trench marker. The template produced a rather deep traverse between each fire bay but for a quick job, I can put up with that.

How did the game go, I hear you ask? The aim for the British was to defend the village in the centre of the board.
The German commander executed a cunning flank march and swept in on the British left.
The BEF suffered heavy losses in the woods as they rushed to establish a new defensive perimeter on their left.  British artillery had been ineffective so far and the German forward observer was having communication problems as a result of the pace of the advance (fire missions called for, never arrived).
Once both sides got into small arms range the casualties were very heavy. With the addition of some indirect fire from a regiment of the Royal Artillery and two regiments of German field guns, things got very sticky indeed. The BEF's machine guns took a heavy toll on the German infantry advancing in the open. In this turn alone, both sides suffered nearly half of the losses they experienced in the whole game!
Despite their steady advance through the woods, the German's eventually lost over half of their  troops (Morale: Regular) and failed their regimental morale check and withdrew from the field. The veteran BEF, while suffering severe losses, held  on and slowed the German advance one more.
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  1. Excellent result on the entrenchments. It is surprising how inexpensive items can be visually effective.

    Of course these refights are likely to result in Robin producing some additional scenarios I imagine.

  2. The entrenchment markers are great ... and the game looks like another 'heap of fun'... loved reading the AAR

  3. Thanks guys. I love it when something comes together like that. I suspect the key thing is waiting for the caulking compound to be just dry enough not to be too sticky when you press the template in - these ones took a little bit of fiddling to get them looking neat after removing it.

    I definitely second the idea of some more introductory scenarios - the way these two build on each other is really helpful.
    Cheers Alan