Sunday, October 16, 2016

On With the Vimy Project!

With ToonCon and REGINA TRENCH! out of the way it’s time to get cracking on the Vimy Project once again, So I thought I’d just post a quick update on the state of the project – as much to remind myself what still needs to be done as any of you our there in bloggerland. I have 19 weeks until the Winter Wargaming Weekend/birthday Bash and 25 weeks until the big show on the 100th anniversary of the battle – 9 April 2017.

(For those that are new, the plan is to make a roughly scale model of Vimy Ridge and enough figures to make 48 Canadian battalions and 18 German battalions – at 15 figures/battalion – plus staff and support models it will total well over 1000 figures - and have this all ready for the 100th Anniversary of the battle on 9 April 2017 – I posted the initial Vimy Project plans almost 10 years ago and have been working on it on and off since then. More “off” than “on”, I’m afraid. But now it’s Go Time and I am all “ON” for then next 6 months!)

I have between 19 and 23 battalions of British Canadians to finish before then… There are 19 battalions I need to finish the Canadian Corps – but 4 of them did not participate in the battle on 9 April 1917 – the 10th Brigade was being held in reserve to assault The Pimple – a redoubt just nort of the ridge – on the following day. So I don’t REALLY need to have them painted for the game… There are four battalions of British that were attached to the Canadains on the 9th, however, that I should get done.

There are between 9 and 12 battalions of German infantry I need to cast and paint up as well.

I also need some more support teams (mortars and machine-guns) – some still need to be assembled, some still need to be acquired! I need to finish up 7 machine-gun and 6 mortar teams for the Canadians and 5-10 machine-gun and 3-8 mortar teams for the Germans (depending on how many I decide I’m going to use per Regiment)

This means I have 28–35 battalions of infantry still to do about 20-30 support teams to do in 15 weeks. I should probably be trying to get two battalions of infantry and at least one support team done each week (because I still have terrain to do!!)

Sooooo… no more Zulus (or any other distractions, for that matter!) until next may!! (Although I probably will try to get in a few games of The Men Who Would Be Kings with stuff that I already have).

And then there is the terrain…

I can say this weekend I resumed work on the Vimy terrain. I am starting with refurbishing the original terrain for the 4th Division that I started building almost 10 years ago. A little over four years ago I started refurbishing the terrain (as the original terrain was a bit rushed and I didn’t get to doing all the details in the trenches I’d originally intended (revetting, duck boards, sandbag parapets, etc). Also the original trenches were a lot narrower (as I’d made them for miniatures originally based on smaller bases than my current miniatures are! I have three (of the four) terrain block to refurbish and a dozen more, or so, to build from scratch.

The Fourth Division's terrain - at the north end of the Ridge - with parts that I previously refurbished (bottom left), parts I'm just cutting into (mostly on the right) and stuff I haven't gotten to (everywhere else). 

Parts of the Nothern half of the Fourth Division terrain - including the parts I previously refurbished.

Northwest corner of the Fourth Division Terrain where I've don most of the cutting so far. What a mess. 

The Southeast corner of the Fourth Division terrain - with a few figures thrown in for scale. Haven't done any cutting here just yet - so you can see the terrain pretty much as it was.

Detail of the old trenches as they are (with a few markings where I'm planning to cut).

I’ll admit I’m not the most organized of planners. I’ve also been spending a lot of time going through old boxes trying to find notes or sketches or plans or maps I used to make the original terrain and studying them to try and figure out how to connect the existing terrain in with the new bits I’m going to have to make. These are some of the sketches from various different parts of the planning process at various different times over the last 10 years. Some make more sense than others. But none exactly match the terrain I made. I’m guessing in the process of actually MAKING the terrain I just made changes on the fly to deal with things that came up… or I simply treated the plans a little like the “Pirates Code”… “They’re more like… guidelines…”

In the process of making this mess, however, I got to realizing I hadn’t included any support or communication trenches on the Canadian side. In game terms they weren’t really necessary – and most of the support trenches wouldn’t fit on the planned are of terrain – but I got to wondering if I should at least add in some communication trenches while I’m at it?

This also led me to wondering if I should include all of the subways that were build to help bring troops and supplies forward for the assault – safe and out of sight of the Germans on the ridge! If so, how should I depict them – just model the subway exit points in the front line? Or should I make underground subways (with removable tops) that we can store all the second wave troops in until after the first wave troops have left the frontline trenches!? 

I should definitely make some dugouts for all the trench mortar teams! I’ve started doing so on the Germans side of things (as well as posts for MG teams). But I should probably do the same for the Canadians (which gives me another reason to do Communication trenches as the Trench mortar dugouts would be off the communications trenches…

What about forward command posts for the brigade staff I’ve been painting? Should I do the same on the other side – have command posts on the other side for Regimental staff? I have no idea where these would have actually been historically and no idea where to start looking. So do I bother? Or just put some in for fun in a reasonable/likely place?

I also need to make some more Barrage Markers.

Oh and I’m going to need to make a whole lot MORE Barbed Wire!

So… the plan… After sitting down and thinking things over this afternoon I decided ideally things should go something like this:

Finish refurbishing 4th Division terrain
Finish plans for the rest of the terrain
Paint 1st Brigade figures and 2 German MGs and 1 Canadian MG

Start on 3rd Division terrain squares
Paint 4th and 5th Brigades (8 battalions) plus available support weapons

Finish 3rd Division Terrain squares, start on 2nd division
Cast and paint 3 regiments (9 battalions) of Germans

Figure out budget for the year
Order remaining figures (6th Brigade plus assorted support weapons)
Cast and paint 3 more German battalions and British Brigade
Finish 2nd Divison terrain, start on 1st Division

Paint 6th Brigade
Finish 1st Division terrain

This would get the bulk of the work done by the end of February so I could do some playtesting on the annual Winter Wargaming Weekend/Birthday Bash…

This would leave March to finish up anything not quite finished up and to make barrage markers and wire and measuring sticks and maps and divisional/brigade order sheets, etc.

Oh yeah… and somewhere along the line I’ll need to recruit some more players… If I had one player per Canadian Brigade (each commanding 4 battalions) and four “helpers” to run the Germans, I’ll need 16 participants.

Coming soon on Tim’s Miniature Wargaming Blog:

Not Zulus… Great War Stuff!!


  1. Replies
    1. Well I'm not going to disagree about the madness part...

      Thanks Ross!

  2. That looks great Tim!! Keep up the work, looking forward to the anniversary.

  3. I don't think you need to model more than just the subway entrances/exits. Modeling the subways don't get you anything (unless the germans launch a seriously improbable counter-attack) other than a COOL! response. Admittedly, that is why we use minis, but you have MORE than enough on your plate as it is. You need to let go of the things that provide the least return. e.g. those four Canadian battalions in reserve should be the last thing you do.

    1. Thanks Stu!

      That's kind of what I am leaning towards after sleeping on it last night - just modelling the entrances. I'm even thinking I might just model SOME of the entrance/exits because there were six (SIX!) subways on the Fourth Division's frontage! I'll probably add in an occasional communication trench and dugouts for the mortar batteries.

      I've been back and forth about wether to add shell craters - like I did on the Regina trench terrain (because I really like how it looks). The problem is- especially on the Fourth Division's area of operations - it's hard enough getting figures to remain upright on the steep slopes (even though they're terraced). Adding in a bunch of craters might make it agonizingly annoying to move figures about and keep them upright. I may add in just a few - in more open areas. Especially if I can find where the larger mine craters were (I know there were a few!).

  4. HAHAHA Tim, all will be revealed come the 100th & your dedication to this cause. Don't forget you have a couple of budding assistant painters right there under your roof who could probably assist with painting all the sandbags/ revetments, floors to help you along. Just keep an eye that Kiera doesn't paint happy faces on them!

    1. Actually, the painting part (of the terrain, at least) is relatively easy and quick-going. It's the measuring, cutting, scoring and gluing in place all the revetting that is most time-consuming. The Girl was instrumental in getting the Somme terrain finished - gluing all those duckboards in place for me. So, yes, I will definitely be recruiting her help in that. I'm not sure I trust either kid enough with sharp objects to help with much else at the moment!

      She could probably be talked into painting a battalion of Germans (or two) for me though...

  5. Holy cow Tim, this is going to be epical. But where on earth are you going to set it up? I very much hope to make it out for both the playtest and the actual game itself!

    1. Not at MY place! I thought I'd check out some local halls or rent a room at one of the libraries... the Legion hall would be ideal, being, y'know, right across the road. but I think it would be prohibitively expensive to rent for a Sunday... I guess I should get on that sooner rather than later!

    2. Maybe the Dragon's Den? It seems like it would take up a pretty big chunk of the back room, and maybe attract a bit more attention then you really want, but...

    3. You know, I hadn't really even considered that. I have run games there in the past, but generally it's been to promote games that they, in theory, could actually get in and sell... As I'm not using a commercially available set of and most of the miniatures I'm using are my own cast (which I have no intention of ever selling) or miniatures that would be a pain-in-the-ass and/or prohibitively expensive for them to get in... I guess I just somehow didn't consider it as a possibility, but now that you mention it, that is actually a pretty good idea. It is a bit further away than places I'd been considering...

    4. I'm sure there would be volunteers to help you cart stuff to wherever it ends up - maybe in one of those newfangled auto-mobiles!

  6. Blimey! I'm knackered just reading the plan. Rather you than me mate but I am sure it will be an epic sight when completed and an absolute blast to game on.

    1. Thanks Millsy! It'll certainly keep me busy (and, hopefully, out of trouble!) for the next few months!

  7. Wow! What fantastically massive project! With your detailed planning, no doubt you will make your goal. A thousand figures, my goodness!

    1. Thanks Jonathan! It was a bit of a wake up call to take stock of where I was at earlier this week. I'm trying to stay positive about it and think "Hey, I'm over half done already!" rather than "Damn, I'm only just half done and I only have six months to go!?"

    2. Ah, you are a "glass half full man" or is that "project half done man?" How far from Spokane WA to Saskatoon?

    3. Well I try to be... otherwise I'd probably get discouraged and throw in the towel.

      Google maps tells me it's 1224km.

  8. That terrain board looks just amazing Tim - Bravo!

    1. Thanks Curt! Hopefully it'll look even better when it's actually done!