Archive for August, 2010

Lately in my gaming club, Cold War Commander has been experiencing a renaissance in popularity after a year or two with very little activity. That’s great news for me because it’s been one of my favorite games for a long time, and I missed having opponents. There’s been some talk around the club of a campaign game set in Southwest Africa circa 1975-90, and this has sparked a mini arms race, with a number of guys (including me) building their armies as rapidly as possible.

A friend of mine has a much better camera than mine, and this past weekend, he took some photos of some of my tanks, so I wanted to post them.

First up, here are a few of my Angolan T-54/55s. I got the camo scheme by googling up pictures of Angolan tanks of that period, and came up with a scheme I liked:

Next up, same pose, different dress. These are my Egyptian tanks from my 1973 Mechanized force.

This next one is a Soviet-made BM-21 rocket launcher in plain green color scheme. This one will go into my Angolan army, and I’ve already got a couple for my Egyptians. If you play Cold War Commander, you really need to get a couple of these for your Soviet-style armies. They will bring to the table a barrage so intense it will call to mind the phrase, “hard of hearing”.

This next stand has appeared here before, but it looked so nice with my friend’s camera that I just had to post it again. It’s El Mero Mero, the CO of my Colombian Lancero force. You can really see the camo on the men this time.

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This is an army I built about 5 or 6 years ago. I originally used this army with the Warmaster Ancients rule set, which, at that time, was the ancient rule set of choice in the game club I belong to. Nothing ever lasts forever, especially among rule sets, and so WA eventually gave way to Field of Glory in the hearts of my fellow local gamers.

Fortunately, I was able to get away with not rebasing the whole army, and most of them are on their original bases. I think the only changes I made were to rebase the Cataphracts, as well as to change the officers from their traditional (for me) round bases to rectangular ones.

In some ways, the change of rules seemed to weaken the Parthians, and I had to work on developing new tactics. But it has a more realistic feel, and they are still a very fun army to play.

Here is General Surena, flanked by some of his subordinates. These figures are all Old Glory 10mm. I built the little cliff on the base as a way of distinguishing the commander:

Here are the big guns, the cataphract cavalry. Although powerful impact troops, the cataphracts form only a small fraction of the army, so the Parthian general must be extremely judicious in their use. They typically spend much of the game waiting just behind the horse archers. Sometimes, they can be used as feints to draw enemy strength to certain points of the line or to pin down critical enemy units. When the archery begins to finally create weaknesses in the enemy line, that is when the cataphracts charge in to punch a hole. All of these figures are by Old Glory as well:

Next up is what makes up the bulk of the Parthian army, the horse archers. These troops vastly outnumber the other troop types and are responsible for most of the fighting. Under the FoG rules, these operate in a large number of small groups. I have found that it is best not to have these too close together in a line, but rather spread out with some gaps between groups. On the table, it looks like an almost formless cloud moving toward the enemy lines, close but never touching the enemy, and constantly trying to work it’s way around the flanks. The archery fire is not devastating, but rather you’ll get small hits here and there on the enemy. The name of the game for the Parthian general is patience, as you try to accumulate and develop these small pinpricks until they become serious weaknesses. Sometimes the enemy is tempted to charge one of your little units, but this is what you want. Your unit, the fastest in the game, simply evades away, and the other units nearby close around the enemy. They try to isolate it from the rest of it’s army and pour arrows into it as fast as possible.  I have seen this result in units that were destroyed by archery alone.

All these figures are Old Glory. I really like Old Glory’s 10mm range, but the single pose can be somewhat monotonous, so I sought to give the troops a little variety by making small changes to the pose and by using different colors.

Next up is the camp. I wanted to create a camp that had the *feel* of the army I was using, so I chose to make a camel caravan, although I’m not sure how common camels were among the Parthians. Figures are by Magister Militum and the palm trees are by JTT Microscale:

Last, but not least, are the levy spearmen. These guys are the low men on the Parthian totem pole, and truly are the poor bloody infantry. I prefer to go with an all-cavalry army and don’t use them much in the game, mostly when I’m trying to hold a piece of real estate. To tell you the truth, I kinda feel sorry for them on the battlefield. Figures are by Magister Militum.

This has probably occurred to hundreds of wargamers in the past, but it just occurred to me now so I’m going to claim this as my own brilliant idea. Did you ever buy a small building, such as a tent,  outhouse or storage shack, and then realize it is too tiny to be a useful terrain feature for your figures? Even though it’s the right scale, it’s just too small to place your troops inside it. You could put it down on the table for aesthetic appeal alone, but that just seems a waste, doesn’t it? You want your terrain features to be more than just a pretty but useless piece of clutter on the table, don’t you? You want terrain features to have an impact on the course of the battle.

One thing you can do is to make that tiny building a part of a larger terrain piece, rather than being a feature all by itself. I did this by taking several smallish buildings and attaching them to a larger base and adding a few additional terrain features to it. The end result, in game terms, is a building that your troops can use for cover. When they occupy the base itself, they are considered to be *in* building terrain. This really works best with rules that treat buildings as somewhat abstract concepts, rather than rules that are more explicit as to the exact layout of the building. In my case, I wanted to make terrain pieces to use with Red Actions rules. In those rules, it doesn’t matter what a building looks like, it’s just a generic *building* that can hold up to 4 stands. So, I cut several pieces of matteboard big enough to hold 4 stands worth of infantry. I then attached the buildings, some other small terrain features, and some groundwork. Suddenly, all those pretty but useless little pieces of terrain (the shacks, the well, the water trough) all come together to make coherent, practical objects.

These are from a game project I started a couple of years ago when a friend and I decided to game South American conflicts using Cold War Commander.

At the time, the Colombian army had had a series of spectacular successes against the local FARC guerrilla movement. In response, Venezuela, which had been backing the guerrillas, massed along the border. Venezuela has the most powerful army in the region and lots of tanks, but there was no way they were getting through that jungle, and so the incident eventually petered out. Nevertheless, my friend and I thought it would make a good “what-if” scenario. We researched the armies, found out that these were actually pretty good armies (particularly the Colombians), and so we made up some Cold War Commander army lists. We never really got it all off the ground, but I managed to finish the army recently, after a 12-18 month hiatus.

The Colombian army is primarily a counter-insurgency force, heavily trained and supplied by the US. The force I built represents a Lancero battalion, with some attached units. The Lanceros are a light airmobile force that have been compared to US Rangers in terms of training and equipment. They go into battle riding UH-60 Blackhawks and UH-1 Hueys, and depend on a lot of air support. Lancero units carry a number of hand-held anti-armor weapons, but since we were going to be playing them against Venezuela (which has a lot of armor), I figured they need some help, so I added regular infantry in APCs and a unit of armored cars.

All of the units are 6mm scale. Most of it is made by GHQ, but there are also some vehicles from Scotia Miniatures.

The Battalion CO with his staff. Figures are by GHQ and the two vehicles are Scotia.

The two stands on the left are regular infantry in plain uniforms. The three on the right are lanceros with black helmets and vests. All are GHQ.

Left to right are a UH-60 Arpia helicopter gunship, an OV-10 Bronco used in a ground attack role, and an OH-6 Cayuse where the Forward Air Controller rides.

EE-9 Cascavel armored cars, by Scotia

EE-11 Urutu APCs, also by Scotia

Blackhawk dropping off troops. Figures and aircraft by GHQ.

Secrets of the Third Reich

Posted: August 4, 2010 in Sci-Fi, Uncategorized

Here are some photos of some figures I painted for commission. The figures are 28mm scale and are manufactured by West Wind Productions. These are all from their “Secrets of the Third Reich” range and they’re supposed to represent an alternate history of WWII (hence, the abundance of gasmasks, bizarre weapons, and nazi zombies). I have no idea what the rules are like, but these sure were fun to paint.