Archive for June, 2011

Last fall, several of the guys in my game club talked about starting a campaign game set in Angola during the 1980s using CWC rules. For one reason or another, we never seemed to get the campaign off the ground, but I did paint up some units for it. Hopefully, we’ll take another stab at it, and when we do, my troops will be ready.

First up are a pair of BM-21 rocket launchers. I love rocket launchers in Cold War Commander, and try to get as many as I can in each battlegroup:

Next up are some T-72s. The bulk of my armored units are actually T-54/55s, but I did not get any photos of those:

Next are the command units. They are made up of BTR-152 (command version) and UAZ-469 jeeps:

Everyone knows an army doesn’t travel on its stomach. It uses trucks, and here are the Angolan army’s:

Next we have the infantry. First up are the militia troops. Not so well trained and not so well uniformed:

Finally, we come to the regular infantry. Purists will probably point out what’s wrong with the uniforms. The truth is, I really didn’t know what an Angolan infantry unit would look like in the field, so I totally winged it. But I wanted those red berets to make them easier to spot on the table. Besides, I like red berets.

I like change. The status quo tends to drive me crazy, and I can’t just leave things well enough alone. I tinker and tweak, and alter and convert things incessantly, and I’m no different when it comes to wargame rules. The Russian Civil War is one of the periods that interests me, and so I’ve tried to play it with various sets of rules. But the problem is, I just haven’t been able to find a set of rules covering the period that really reaches out and grabs me, so I decided to try some other rules on for size.  I’ve been a big fan of the “Commander” series  (Blitzkrieg Commander Cold War Commander, and Future War Commander) for a while now, and I have several battlegroups built specifically for CWC and FWC. So, I naturally figured, “Why not give them a try?”. BKC is the one haven’t really played much, but I thought it was closer to the period, so I decided to make up some army lists for the Russian Civil War and see how it works.

The army lists weren’t that hard. I mostly used the existing Spanish Civil War lists and made some relevant modifications. Infantry in BKC is pretty generic, but there are rules for giving special abilities to units, and I used those. There was a wide variety of different troop types in the RCW, and I thought it would be important to reflect that. Bolshevik Naval infantry was very different from the conscript infantry units, as it was also different from the Czarist shock battalions or Czech Legion, and so on. I gave each of these troop types their own special abilities. Once I had the lists down, I headed off to Great Hall Games to test it out. My friend Chris (aka “the Other Chris”) met me there to play as the Bolsheviks.

Since this was just a test game, we went for something simple. Basic “Encounter” scenario from the book, 1000 points per side, and generic terrain, with a small village in the center with patches of forest scattered around the table. The object of the game would be to inflict casualties on the enemy. 25% casualties was a minor victory and if your enemy reached the breakpoint, that was a major victory.

Things started off fairly well for me. My Czarist troops got good command rolls and everything appeared on the table, but Chris’ Bolsheviks failed all of their command rolls and remained conspicuously absent from the table. My force consisted of (from left flank to right) a unit of cossacks with a machine gun car on the flank, a group of Markov shock infantry supported by a Maxim MG,  an Austin-Putilov armored car, driving up the road, and a large-ish mob of basic infantry on the far right supported by a second Maxim team as well as a mortar team.

Turn 1, the White army enters

Turn 1, the cossacks compress their front to pass through a gap

The Markov Regiment passes quickly through the forest

The White colonel plans his next move

The Reds rolled better on turn 1 and all of his stuff entered. From his left to right, the Bolshevik army consisted of a group of naval infantry and partisans supported by an artillery piece, a huge mob of infantry (18 stands) in the center supported by two Maxim MGs at either end of the mob, and a small group of cavalry on the right flank supported by an armored car. For the most part, I had better quality troops with bonuses for combat (The Markovs and the Cossacks), but he had more men.

Turn 2, the red Horde finally enters

Forward, comrades!

Bolshevik cavalry advances

My guys continued moving forward, and I pushed the armored car through the center of town toward the Reds. What was I thinking, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you what. I knew that the Maxims could penetrate the armor, but I figured on getting some fire on that mass of infantry. Besides, armored is armored, right? Not heavy armor, but still… If he shot back at me, how bad could it be? Here, I’ll show you just how bad:

The White armored car is hit by machine gun fire

Both of the enemy’s MGs opened up and scored hits, and the armored car went up in flames without taking a shot. Oh well, no big loss, I guess.

The road through town

At the top of turn 3, the lines were converging on one another I began firing the mortar at long range over on my right, and it began to inflict hits and suppression on some of the Bolshevik units, and eventually destroyed one of those Maxims.

The situation going into turn 3

A gun duel took place on the left between the two cavalry troops, which lasted 2 or 3 turns. Maxim fire claimed the Red armored car and a stand of Red cavalry, and the rest red cavalry was largely suppressed. So far, I was ahead in points and things were looking pretty good.

Turn 3, a long range gun duel erupts between the cavalry forces

Prepare to charge!

By turn 5, the lines were close enough to engage in rifle fire, and hits began to be inflicted. Under fire, the cossacks moved forward to within charge range:

Turn 5, men begin to fall

On my right flank, a group of my infantry managed to reach a patch of forest, while enemy partisans and sailors surged heroically through intense MG and mortar fire to reach the other side, ignoring casualties…

Skirmish in the forest

…while in the center of the village, an intense street battle broke out around the burning armored car. At this point, things are still going my way, and a few more stands of Bolsheviks were destroyed.

Shots ring out in the center of the village

Now here’s where things went a little weird. We may have misconstrued the close combat rules, butthe net result was that whole chunks of the armies seemed to melt away on contact. My cossacks and Markovs had bonuses in close combat and just utterly destroyed their opponents. The problem was, thee way the numbers added up, it was nearly impossible for their opponents to even do anything, and it seemed a foregone conclusion. Close to half the Red army just disappeared in one turn.

Caught by the charging cossacks

Hand-to-hand fighting around the burning armored car

With only 3 units lost and half of my enemies fleeing or dead, it looked like a big win for the Czar. However, there were two other combats on my right involving lesser quality troops who were utterly crushed by the naval infantry. This swung the game. We both reached our breakpoints on the same turn and we called it there.

Chris and I talked about the rules after the game. We both play CWC, but I don’t think BKC worked very well in this instance. First of all, it tends to generalize the infantry, and that’s really all there is in the RCW. There were no tank battles, which is what I think BKC is geared toward, with infantry in a secondary role. Neither of us liked how the close combat rules worked, although as I said, we may have been doing it wrong. Another thing I probably should have done was to increase the ranges and movement distances, but I just didn’t think about it, and we simply used what was listed in the book in centimeters. But oh well. It was a fun afternoon, nonetheless, and it did answer some questions.

I am thinking of trying this out with the new Force on Force rules, next time. I’ll let you know how that little experiment turns out.

Well, it’s been a while, but things have finally eased up enough for me to start painting again (and posting). I thought I’d start of with some 15mm figures I recently painted – US marines and some Afghan troops. I started these so that I could play Cold War Commander with them, set in modern-day Afghanistan. I’ve also gotten to play them using the new Force on Force rules as well. I think FOF really works best with individually based figures, but these multiple bases work just fine with the rules.I don’t want to rebase them, since I still prefer CWC rules. And besides, I put a lot of work into those bases and I don’t feel like tearing them up.

First up are some basic infantry stands. I based each stand with a grenadier, a SAW gunner, and two riflemen. Almost all of the figures in my marine force are Peter Pig. I really like the chunky, solid look of the figures.

Next up are some MG teams. When I started this project, I was strongly leaning toward doing everything in the early war 3-tone camouflage because it’s a lot simpler to paint than the more modern digital patterns. I also googled around to see if other painters were coming up with a decent formula, but didn’t find one. But then I decided that I shouldn’t shy away from something just because it’s hard, and I took a stab at the MARPAT desert scheme. I still don’t think I did it quite right, but it looks fine at tabletop distance. I may keep playing around with the technique.

Next are a sniper in a ghillie suit and a javelin team. The sniper is actually a WWII US soldier from QRF. I just needed a good prone figure, really. I then covered him with putty and textured it. I also added a tiny piece of rod for the scope. The javelin team is from Cannon Fodder Minis. I really like the Cannon Fodder stuff, especially their Afghan insurgents and their 25mm Texas Independence figures. I think you can now get them through Blaze Away Miniatures. Yes, I know I used the wrong color on the javelin. Maybe I’ll go back and change it one of these days.

Somebody’s got to tell these guys where to go, so here are the officers.  For my Cold War Commander battlegroups, I like to base command units on round bases (Bigger for the CO and smaller for the HQs, naturally) while infantry teams go on medium-sized FOW bases and support teams go on small FOW bases. The officer kneeling over the map is actually a conversion. It’s the body of a Peter Pig figure from their Modern Africa range, with the head of a marine. Umm… Don’t look too closely at his rifle, okay? Let’s just say it’s not standard issue. But then, who’s gonna tell the boss he can’t do something?

Next up are some Afghan National Army troops. For these guys, I basically just used all the extra Peter Pig and Old Glory figures I had floating around, which gives them a motley, under-uniformed look. But then, that’s pretty much how the real guys look, too, or so I can discern from photos.

And here are some Afghan Police, who came from the spare figures box too. I read somewhere that the police have a hard time getting helmets, so you don’t see many wearing them, but I had a lot of helmeted guys, so there you go:

Finally, whenever I build a force, I like to include some relevant terrain features, so I made some buildings. First up is a walled compound. It’s a vacuformed building, but I don’t know who makes that. I attached it down to abase and added a wall cut from thin cork, and a tree:

The next is part of a set of four tiles, each with several buildings on it. This way, I just plunk down the four tiles next to a road, and it’s a small town with 16 buildings. Simple! Some of the buildings are JR Miniatures, but those larger square buildings are actually boxes from a craft store. They are already textured, and they come with lids. As you can see on one of the buildings, you can flip it upside down to make a parapet. I got that idea from a post on TMP, but I can’t remember who came up with it. Whoever you are, sir, thanks. It was a great idea: