WSS issue 68
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A M O
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Alan & Michael Perry World War Two 28mm Plastic Afrikakorps by Michael Perry
GWW 1 Price £20
The box will contain 38 hard plastic, multipose figures, enough for an under strength Zug or Platoon of 3 squads plus command section and support. They have separate arms, where possible attached to weapons as well as separate headwear. There is enough steel helmets for all as well as half the amount of tropical cork helmets and field caps.
Box art by Peter Dennis
From the DAK plastic set
As well as Africa they could be used for Italy and other Mediterranean campaigns. These should be out for September.... if not before! Keep an eye on our website.
From the DAK plastic set
Blitzkrieg Miniatures are producing resin tanks to fit in with the 1/56th scale of our miniatures and the North African campaign. These are available though them and us. Here are the latest models.
Price Rise Unfortunately, we are going to
BM 4 British Grant
BM 12 Panzer III ausf L £18
have to increase our prices
BM 5 Matilda
BM 13 Panzer IV ausf G £20
which will come into effect at
BM 6 M3 Stuart 'Honey' £18
BM 14 Panzer II £18 NEW BM 15 Marder II £20 NEW
the end of August. There will be
BM 7 M3 Lee
BM 8 Crusader Mk III
BM 9 Valentine Mk III
a 50p increase on all metal codes and £2 on all plastic M3 Stuart 'Honey'
BM 10 Panzer III ausf G £18
figure boxes. We're sorry about this but we've held off as long
BM 11 Panzer III ausf J £18
as we could! Matilda
All orders and cheques by post: Perry Miniatures, PO BOX 6512, Nottingham NG7 1UJ. Cheques made payable to Perry Miniatures. All major credit/debit cards accepted. Please add postage & packing: UK 12%, Europe 17%, Rest of World 20%. Our website has a secure online ordering service. Prices as of 1st September: Infantry in packs of 6 - Price Code A: £7; Cavalry in packs of 3 (including horses) - Price Code B: £8.50; Artillery (4 crew & gun) Price Code C: £9; Price Code D: £17; Price Code E: £4; Price Code F: £11; Price Code G: £21; Price Code H: £25.50; Pikes : £8.
Also available from Dave Thomas at shows around the country.
Models not shown at actual size.
You can contact us at : [email protected]
Although we read all questions,we can’t guarantee a reply to each one as figure making is time consuming! For updates please see our website.
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From the DAK plastic set
COLOPHON- CONTENTS Publisher: Rolof van Hövell tot Westerflier Editor in chief: Jasper Oorthuys Editor: Guy Bowers Copy editor: Duncan B. Campbell Marketing & media manager: Christianne C. Beall Contributors: Mark Backhouse, Paul Burkin, Richard Clarke, Paul Cubbin, Mike Evans, Eoghan Kelly, Richard Lloyd, Simon Miller, Gary Mitchell, Roger Murrow, Sam Mustafa, Chris Payne, Rick Priestley, Lance Robertson, Phil Smith, Kawe Weissi-Zadeh Illustrations: Georgina Pymont-Harman, www.redfoxillustrations.com Cover background: Michael Perry Design & layout: © MeSa Design, www.mesadesign.nl Print: PublisherPartners, www.publisherpartners.com Editorial office PO Box 4082, 7200 BB Zutphen, The Netherlands Phone: +31-575-776076 (NL), +44-20-88168281 (Europe), +1-740-994-0091 (US) Email: [email protected]
Customer service: [email protected]
Website: www.wssmagazine.com Contributions in the form of articles, letters, reviews, news and queries are welcomed. Please send to the above address or use the contact form on www. wssmagazine.com Subscriptions Subscription price is € 33.50 plus postage surcharge where applicable. Subscriptions can be purchased at www.kp-shop.com, via phone or by mail. See above for the address. Distribution Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy is sold through retailers, the internet and by subscription. If you wish to become a sales outlet, please contact us at [email protected]
The exclusive distributor for the UK and the Republic of Ireland is Comag Specialist Magazines, Unit 3, Tavistock Road, West Drayton, UB7 7QE, United Kingdom. Phone: +44 01895 433600. Copyright Karwansaray BV. All rights reserved. Nothing in this publication may be reproduced in any form without prior written consent of the publishers. Any individual providing material for publication must ensure that the correct permissions before submission to us. Every effort has been made to trace copyright holders, but in a few cases this proves impossible. The editor and publishers apologize for any unwitting cases of copyright transgressions and would like to hear from any copyright holders not acknowledged. Articles and the opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of the editor and/or publishers. Advertising in Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy does not necessarily imply endorsement.
THEME: THE BATTLE OF THE NATIONS
The Battle of the Nations
Within walking distance of Berlin
Holding the line at Leipzig
Figures Pour La Gloire!
An introduction to Leipzig 1813 Reynier at Grossbeeren
The crossings at Dölitz and Markkleeberg Beethoven as propaganda coup Building your force for Leipzig
Scipio versus Caesar
Just a game
Lets play Dead Man’s Hand
Lets play In Her Majesty’s Name
Tiger, Tiger, burning bright
One game to rule them all...
Sam Mustafa ponders complexity in gaming An in-depth look at the new Cowboy rules Osprey goes VSF
This gaming life
Osprey ventures into Wargaming
Germans, Armoured Trains and Jazz Musicians A risky business...
The Editor talks to Phil Smith
A look at By Fire & Sword, About Bonaparte and Argonauts
Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy is published every two months by Karwansaray BV, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. PO Box 1110, 3000 BC Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
A new baby
Printed in the European Union
Ruthenia, Byzantines versus the Rus Books reviewed by the WS&S team
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© Georgina Harman
EDITORIAL Psychological warfare “There are five pitfalls which may ensnare a general: reckless disregard for death will indeed result in death. Too much regard for life will result in capture. A quick temper can be provoked into rash action. A misplaced sense of honour brings only shame. Over solicitude for the men just causes needless trouble and anxiety.” Sun Tzu Sun Tzu warns us of the vices of a general, some of which are reflected in the decisions we make on the tabletop. Recklessness will lead to mistakes, as will its opposite – hesitancy. Not commiting your general to where he’s needed or not commiting your forces can be equally as costly. Master Sun Tzu rightly warns us that inaction will usually lead to defeat (on the tabletop is usually indeed better to be rash than not to do anything). Temper and honour are both emotions which can cloud our judgement. There are times when I’ve seen games become battles of psychological warfare. Nowadays I’m more interested in having a good game for all the players involved to be worried about this sort of nonsense, but in truth, over a decade and a half ago, I used to be ‘one of those players’, who would do almost anything to win. I’d ‘MinMax’ my forces, take all the most powerful combos and even bend a few rules on occasion. To be fair, it was the atmosphere of the club at the time and a reflection on common practice. I used to be elated when I won and downright angry when I lost. Then I started gaming regularly with Paul Houghton. Our games were always friendly. We tried out this historical gaming lark and liked it, there was less of the ‘überness’ we’d seen elsewhere. As we were both learning the rules (at first DBA/DBM then WAB), there was no temptation to exploit the other’s lack of knowledge of the rules. To this day, I tend to explain what I’m doing in a game to my opponent. Our games were fun and fair. Where we encountered ‘über army lists’, we’d come to agreements and limit those forces to make the game more fun. Paul’s been gone seven years now this August, but I will not forget the lessons we learnt together. A good game is one your opponent also enjoys. He taught me that while winning a game is good, enjoying a good game (win, lose or draw) is far better.
As always, comments and critique are most welcome. Please drop me a line at: [email protected]
With great bravery
HOBBY 54 I am a Prussian, Do you know my colours? Painting the front cover vignette
The Rats who plagued Rommel
Base, the final frontier
Quick techniques for weathering tanks and vehicles The 8th army in plastic Leach and Hogan at Festubert
All your base are belong to us!
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The first supplement for the Battlegroup game system, covering amphibious and airborne operations on D-Day and the battles inland, to the Westwall of Germany.
Designed to be played at 15mm and 20mm scales.
Fast, fun and authentic-feeling game-play.
• Thirteen detailed army
lists included: the German Panzer, Ersatz Panzer and Fallschirmjäger Divisions,
to face the US and British Armour, Infantry and Airborne Divisions.
• Extensively researched
background and comprehensive equipment data, including specialist equipment for amphibious assaults and 21st Panzer Division conversions.
• New scenarios and historical refights
• All in a lavish 240 page, hardback book.
Get Battlegroup Overlord plus a smallformat core rulebook for £35. Also, the full Battlegroup bundle: separate core rulebook, Battlegroup Overlord and Battlegroup Kursk books all for just £50.
www.theplasticsoldiercompany.co.uk wss68_aug13 def.indd 6
Old Glory UK� Institute House.� New Kyo,� Stanley� Co Durham.� DH9 7TJ� Tel 01207 283332�
Email� [email protected]
For full� details see� website� call or� Send� SSAE.�
Don’t forget� the� “6 for5” deal� on show and� phone orders.�
We’ve got Napoleonics Covered.� In 10mm, 15/18mm. 28mm and 40mm� Almost 1000 packs of Miniatures from the Egyptian Campaign to Waterloo.�
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BLITZKRIEG GERMAN INFANTRY small canvas bag on their chests). These bags were cumbersome and generally abandoned later in the war (circa 1942) but means these troops are useful up until 1941. Size wise, these are middle of the range so will fit in with most existing ranges.
The latest plastic release from Warlord is their early war ‘Blitzkrieg’ German infantry. There are five sprues in the box, each containing six models (four standing, one kneeling and one prone). Bases are provided. The models are crisp and well moulded. They are provided with a good selection of firepower, Kar 98 Rifles, MG 34s and the MP40 submachine gun. There is a good selection s all Game 1mm t rlord ’ or 3 a e of ten heads provided, six with helmet, three with cap, and y e W : o any oot t Comp one bareheaded. Each comes with standard kit, such as the mm ‘f 2 .5 r 7 a 2 : W res rld Size o ubiquitous cylindrical gas mask container, bread pouch and W iniatu y m l r 0 a 3 e or Era: entrenching tool. There are some additional nice touches, .00 f o.uk e: £25 ic mes.c r a g P d r such as grenade throwing arms and binoculars. Assembly is o l r a .w www straightforward and the end results are very satisfactory. The models are historically accurate, each has a gas cape bag (the
JAZZ MUSICIANS Eureka have released an eight piece Jazz band, complete with piano and drums and five dancers. Each of the band members is a homage to one of the heroes of the golden age of Jazz. On trumpet, we have Louis Armstrong. On clarinet is Johnny Dodds. The trombone is played by Kid Ory while Jelly Roll Morton plays piano. On drums is Baby Dodds, the double bass John Lindsay and on banjo (six strings) is Johnny St Cyr. Finally there’s the female singer Bessie. The dancers include three ‘flappers’ two of which are flat chested and look suspiciously like the cross dressing duo Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon out of Some like it hot.. There are two gentlemen dancers as well – who by the look of things are in for a bit of a surprise. The
models in the set are well cast and detailed. This is a charming and unusual set which will be of use to early 20th century gamers, whether you’re into Cthulhu or gangster games.
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Here are more reinforcements from Ironclad Miniatures for their Second Anglo Afghan War range. The models shown are an Indian army gun crew and Afghans armed with Snider rifles. Each pack comes with four miniatures; we have only shown two of the gun crew here and two Afghan riflemen. The gun is a British 7lbr. mountain gun. The models are well cast with no flash or mould lines visible. The Indian turbans may look a bit big, however contemporary photographs do show that their turbans were very large indeed. The range has been expanded to include British Officers, Afghan leaders and colonial Indian infantry with Sikh or Punjab heads.
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FRANCO PRUSSIAN WAR INFANTRY Vive la France! Heroes of the Dark ages is a company which specialises in Dark Age and fantasy miniatures. However, their recent release (surprisingly, given their name) is a range of Franco Prussian War infantry. Starting with the French, they currently have guard infantry, line infantry and Zouaves - with more promised. The models are robust and well cast, with the guards being 1mm taller than the line infantry (foot to eye). The standard infantry measure 27mm ‘foot to eye’ or 30mm tall. Mould lines are nonexistent, however the bases were a little rough (though easily smoothed with sandpaper). The detailing is good and historically accurate, each model comes with full backpack and kit. Apart from the Franco Prussian war, these could find use in several theatres, including Victorian Science Fiction as reinforcements for In Her Majesty’s Name. Size wise, these models will be compatible with most middle to large ranges. Colonel Bill will be stocking this range at the shows he atternds.
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REVIEWS TRIGINTA XXX
Mexican zombie hunters? What other sort would we expect from Gringo 40’s? This interesting range, sculpted by Paul Hicks, has several potential uses apart from undead killers south of the border – both modern skirmish and gang warfare games come to mind. There are currently six figures in the set. From left to right, we have ‘Mariposa’ the female hunter, ‘Risteard’ the biker, ‘Big Ged’ the hero with assault rifle, ‘Ezekiel’ armed with a shotgun, and finally ‘Imhotep’ (the big guy standing at 33.5mm tall). Not shown, is Coco the zombie hunting clown! The range is well cast and sculpted. Ged promises further additions to this range including some zombies and other ‘hunters’ with a variety of weapons.
DOGS OF WAR ‘Run! Get to the choppa!’ The latest release from Rogue miniatures is a set of seven ‘dogs of war’, each very heavily armed. They bear more than a passing resemblance to the characters from Predator. The mercenary team, is armed with an impressive range of weaponry, from grenade launchers to mini-guns. They are all here: Dutch, Dillon, Mac, Blane, Billy, Poncho and Hawkins. At first, Blane’s mini-gun may look to be a bit small, but our extensive research (i.e. watching Predator again and again) suggests it is correctly scaled for the model. This is no over-scaled 40K weapon… The first instinct when seeing these models is to dig out some suitable alien opposition (there are several predatory aliens done by companies
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including Ainsty, Copplestone and Hasslefree to name but three), however this would be to overlook the first part of the movie, where the mercenary team take out a guerrilla camp. While perhaps a little pricey, this is an excellent set with a number of possibilities, both terrestrial and alien.
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REVIEWS SPRAY PAINT
The latest release from The Plastic Soldier Company is a set of useful undercoat spray paints. These come in two types, one for infantry and one for vehicles. The ‘Infantry Warspray’ is available in 4 colours: British Khaki, German Field Grey, Russian Uniform and United States Olive Drab. The ‘Tank Warspray’ is available in five colours: British Tank, German Panzer Grey, MidLate War German Dunkelgelb, Russian Tank and United States. Each can contains 400ml of paint. As these cans are aerosol sprays, certain shipping restrictions may apply. PSC cannot ship this product to customers outside the UK mainland, but they do export to retailers overseas. The spray itself goes on slowly and smoothly. At first we thought we had a faulty can - however this is deliberate and part of the design. The smooth spray is a good thing, as it controls the flow of paint nicely. Two coats are recommended to cover a model completely. We’ve not yet used our can completely, but we estimate that you’ll get a dozen or more vehicles from one bottle. If you have a lot of armour which needs undercoating, this could be just the product for you.
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ANCIENT CART AND LOAD When they first started, 4Ground produced a very useful set of wagons for the colonial period. This range has been expanded into the ancient and renaissance periods, and now includes peasant and strongbox carts. The model shown here is an ancient ox wagon, ideal for Romans or similar ‘civilised’ nations extending into the dark ages. Construction is simple when following the instructions. Each piece fits well with the simple application of wood glue. The overall result was robust and ready for painting. Colonel Bills provides draft horses, wagon drivers and wagon loads for the 4ground carts. Shown are the loads for the ancient cart, namely Roman equipment and sacks. There are also accessories to change this cart into a Saxon or Norman version.
ls el Bil Colon d n a nd Grou any: 4 p 28mm m r o o C led f a c for rk age S 4.00 nd Da Size: a t n art, £ ie c c n e h A t Era: m 0 for ls.co : £4.0 nelbil o Price l o e c g a or agg o.uk two b ound.c r g .4 www
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INTERWAR SWEDISH Ådalen Miniatures (named after the eponymous shootings of 1931) is a new company producing Interwar Swedes (circa 1919-39), although the miniatures could be used for earlier and later conflicts. The current range consists of 15 models. There are three command, two officers with a support BAR, and four variations of rifleman in the M10 Hat (Tricorne), M23 Cap and M26 Helmet. Each figure is well cast, the mould lines are hard to spot. One does wonder, “why Swedes?” They are however ideal troops for ‘What if?’ and Imagination games, including Very British Civil War games. After all, who can resist troops armed with modern rifles in tricornes (the M10 Swedish hat)? Other historical alternatives spring to mind, such as an Allied attempt to curb Germany’s Iron Ore Route in World War 2. This could have led to landings to disrupt Swedish ports or a German occupation of Sweden to secure the ore. Possibilities abound!
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M13/40 COMMAND TANK Avanti! Company B has released a 1/56th scale M13/40. The tank comes with two options: it can be built as a standard M13/40 or as the M13/40 command tank. Both variants are supplied with the kit. The model features exposed engine details and an open interior, plus a tank commander. The resin and metal kit is well cast and easy to assemble: simply stick on the tracks and machine gun and the hatches for your preferred
version. Its proportions are good and fit in well with other manufacturers. Company B specialises in the Pacific theatre and Desert War. Their latest releases include several unusual Japanese vehicles, including an AA Spotlight truck, which we’ll review in a future issue. Also of interest is their new Winnebago RV, ideal for modern and Zombie games.
e m wid any B 6 (41m 5 Comp 1/ . all) 28mm mm t Size: g x 42 n o l ar 2 85mm orld W W : a Er .00 : $30 iz Price anyb.b .comp w w w
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Toot toot!!! Sgt’s Mess has produced a model of the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway Armoured Train which served the Home Guard. The kit consists of one engine and two carriages (one not shown) and crew. The engine and carriages are primarily resin with some metal attachments. The model fits on narrowgauge track. The crew consists of four gunners, two observers with binoculars and a driver. Armament consists of a mix of Boyes antitank rifles and Lewis guns on pedestal mounts and in the train’s two ‘open’ revolving turrets. While scaled for 20mm, we could not resist trying some 28mm Perry ‘Desert Rats’ in
the model. To our delight, the crouching Perry models fit perfectly. This set is ideal for Home Guard and Very British Civil War aficionados everywhere who use 20mm or 28mm.
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SHIP ʻFLATSʼ Capitan miniatures has released a number of ‘ship flats’, primarily for their game Master and Commander.. Currently, there are flats for a 1st Rate, 2nd Rate, 3rd Rate (80 gun), and 4th Rate with either combat sails or full sail. The purpose of these ‘flats’ is to provide a simple but effective way of portraying the ships on the tabletop. The models come in in two pieces, and include a sea ‘base’ with waves and another part with the 2D ship itself (it’s pretty sturdy, being 3mm thick). The flag is ‘of course’ blowing the wrong way, but we assume this is deliberate, to allow identification colours to be easily painted. While the sample provided was in full-colour glory, the models are supplied unpainted. Some naval players may disagree with using flats, but personally I can see the appeal in something which is fairly easy to paint and requires minimal construction. There is no need to recreate any rigging, except with a fine liner pen. Available in the UK through Caliver.
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© Georgie Harman
COLUMN By Rick Priestley
This Gaming Life A risky business
The summer months are with us once more, and the roads and lanes are crammed with cyclists braving the cars, trucks and tractors, protected only by a flimsy plastic helmet and a misplaced sense of mortality. Which – to be fair – is ‘plus one flimsy plastic helmet’ compared with the world in which many of us grew up. But then, the past is a foreign country and all that. As I recall, school assembly was frequently enlivened by some announcement of complaint, injury, and occasional fatality, consequent to the daily cycle ride. We took such things in our stride in those days. I was reminded of this only recently, as my neighbour nervously removed a section of asbestos guttering with all the care and respect formerly accorded only to nitro glycerine. That gutter’s been there for 50 years without killing anyone. Still … better safe than sorry, I suppose. Most people wouldn’t normally think of wargaming as a risky business. I mean to say, what can be endangering about pushing model soldiers around a tabletop or rolling a few dice? Surely, when it comes to all-time most dangerous pastimes, wargaming props up a grisly table championed by such brave souls as nude paragliders, tarantula fondlers, solo yachtsmen, and amateur racing car enthusiasts. Well, that’s what I thought, anyway, until I was clearing out an especially neglected corner of the garage and came across a box of old Citadel miniatures from the early 80s. Here’s what was printed on the header cards: “WARNING - This product contains lead which may be harmful if chewed or swallowed. Not suitable for small children”. Blimey, I thought. Best not tell the neighbours.
Interestingly enough, until the mid-70s, books on wargaming often contained advice on making and casting your own figures. You can just imagine the reaction from a publisher’s lawyer these days: “so, you’re suggesting that children start messing about with molten lead, are you, Mr Wise?” (Just look at Introduction to Battle Gaming by Terence Wise, published in 1972, if you don’t believe me.) This public concern with lead in the environment sprang from the proven toxic effects of lead introduced into the atmosphere by leaded petrol. Lead as a paint additive had already pretty much disappeared. Soon, it was curtains for lead piping and, eventually, lead fishing weights and even lead shot in shotgun cartridges. Would we humble pedlars of toy soldiers be next in the firing line? It certainly felt like it by the early to mid-80s. Unruly journalists seized upon the issue to indulge in their usual fare of outrage and sensationalism. In one infamous TV interview, a model dragon was proudly displayed, whilst some sanctimonious, self-appointed champion of the public good declared, “there’s enough lead in this to poison the population of Manchester … Manchester!” Why this chap should think we had it in for Manchester in particular, I don’t know. Considering that, in those days, Manchester almost certainly had several Russian ICBMs pointing at it, you’d have thought Mancunians would have been tolerably indifferent to the threat posed by a Citadel Emperor Dragon. Still … it takes all sorts. A more justifiable source of concern was the lead-based paint that was once commonly used to colour children’s toys. Understandably, legislators felt no qualms when it came to
Of course, over the centuries, lead has been used to make everything from roofing to cutlery, and jolly useful stuff it is, too. Pure lead melts at 327.5 degrees – which is pretty hot – but the lead-based ‘white metal’ alloys used for wargames figures generally cast in the region of 260-310 degrees. Now, it is dangerous to heat these alloys to above 450 degrees, at which temperature the lead starts to give off toxic fumes, but that’s much hotter than any commercial casting process, as far as I know. You can melt regular alloy in a saucepan on a kitchen hob, as I did when I was a youngster, pouring the stuff into homemade plaster moulds to make my own figures. Of course, without a proper thermometer, there’s no way to gauge the temperature, other than by the look of the metal – just as a medieval plumber would have done – but you soon get the hang of these things. Harmless toy or toxic terror?
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banning lead in toys, but the implications for our hobby were potentially profound. Did a lead ban in toys effectively mean a ban on toy soldiers made of lead alloy? The state of New York was certainly thinking that way. If New York went for an all-out ban, it was widely assumed by the figure manufacturing community that the entire US would fall into line. The whole thing came to court in the end, with representatives of the figure industry making the case that wargaming products were, in essence, not toys, but actually collectables, designed for dedicated hobbyists. As it happened, the judge agreed – much to our relief at the time, as you might imagine. Accepting that wargames figures were “not toys” was to have ramifications, though. Did you know that a toy is legally defined as “a plaything intended for children of less than 14 years of age”? As far as the law is concerned, 14 is the key age when it comes to legislation governing toys. Consequently, signing up to the notion that wargaming figures were definitely “not toys” led to a change in the Citadel warning I quoted earlier. Now, the very same models were deemed not suitable for “children under 14 years old”. That warning, with the age specification, would remain in place until the old lead-based alloy was finally replaced with lead-free pewter. Whilst a change in packaging was easily enough arranged, it was another matter when it came to making sure that nobody under 14 years of age was buying the models. Keeping wargames figures out of the mouths of mewling infants was one thing, but did lead alloy models really pose a danger to someone who happened to be 12 or 13? To this day, the packaging for Flames of War models carries the “Not recommended for persons under 14 years old” warning notice. Does no one under the age of 14 possess a Flames of War model? I wonder. The theoretical situation where wargames figures could only be purchased by those aged 14 years or over probably didn’t trouble the average historical wargames figure manufacturer too much. If anything, the people in the front line were the owners of gaming and hobby stores selling lead-based wargames figures. In the UK, this trouble came in the guise of local trading standards officers. With a large, conspicuous chain of stores and a young customer base, Games Workshop became something of a target for the more zealous of these public servants. Without any system of formal ID, it was never going to be possible to enforce the ‘under-14’ rule in any consistent way. The truth was that many GW customers were under 14, and refusing to sell them metal models, though official policy, was practically unenforceable. Even if it were possible to ensure that nobody under 14 ever bought a metal model, there was no practical way to stop those models falling into the hands of junior siblings, keen to emulate the activities of big brother. In the UK, the mounting pressure from local trading standards authorities was one of the factors that encouraged GW to switch to a lead-free alloy. Renewed talk of further legislation in the US also seemed to suggest that, even if lead-based models hadn’t had their day yet, that day
was surely coming. Overall, a move away from lead to pewter seemed inevitable, and ‘sooner rather than later’ looked the safest bet. Traditional pewter is a tin-rich alloy that also contains lead. In modern terms, lead-free pewter contains only trace amounts of lead and is, to all practical purposes, ‘lead-free’, as described. The bulk of the alloy is made up of tin, with a little copper and antimony (the standard is BS EN 611-1:1996, should you be interested in that sort of thing). “So what?” you may ask. Does it matter what our models are made of, so long as they are not going to poison us, explode unexpectedly, or crumble away to nothing? From the point of view of manufacturing, there is little difference, it is true – although you’ll be lucky to get pewter to cast in a mould that’s been made for lead-alloy production. The addition of lead enhances the flow properties of the metal, allowing better detail capture, which is why first stage ‘master metal’ usually contains a small amount of lead. Pewter is usually cast at a slightly higher temperature and the material itself is harder, both factors combining to increase mould wear somewhat. But the chief difference is the price. In brief, tin costs a fortune and lead – whilst hardly cheap, these days – is still much cheaper. That means you are going to pay more for pewter figures; but, at the end of the day, it’s worth it surely. I mean – at least you can rest assured that neither you nor the population of Manchester is about to keel over at the sight of a leaden Space Marine. It’s a quality product, right? Quality or not, I’ve never liked the stuff, I must admit. It’s just too damn hard! You can cut, scrape and bend white metal castings, but, with pewter, even removing mould lines and flash is heavy going. Give me proper white metal, any day of the week. It’s far more suitable for making wargames figures, in my opinion. And I promise not to lick, chew, or swallow it, honest! But going back to that packaging warning, “Not suitable for children under 36 months” was the official line on the 2010 GW blister packaging, though admittedly with a further recommendation for “ages 12 and up”. To me, this was one of the worst results of the move to pewter by Games Workshop: by suddenly removing the ‘14 years’ restriction, it became acceptable to sell to … well, 3-year-olds, obviously! The lead-based alloys had always come with the tacit understanding that wargames figures were not for small children, and whether that was 10 or 12 or 14-year-olds may have been a matter of discretion, but it certainly wasn’t kiddies of 3, 5 or 7! In truth, I don’t think we’re in much physical danger from our wargames and certainly not from lead poisoning. Yes, you need to be careful with modelling tools and especially knives and scalpels – but the same is true of any modelling hobby. It’s certainly a safer affair than cycling. And you don’t have to wear one of those silly plastic helmets … well, not unless you really want to.
We wonder what Rick’s view on GW’s ‘Finecast’ might be...
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By Guy Bowers
An interview with Phil Smith
OSPREY VENTURES INTO GAMES Osprey Publishing has provided reading materials for wargamers for decades, but their venture into actual wargaming publications is of fairly recent date, but they have met with great success in Field of Glory, Bolt Action and their new Wargames Phil Smith, head of the Osprey Wargames (OWG) series. Can you tell me about the history of Osprey Publishing? In 1968, Berkshire Printing, part of the Brooke Bond Tea group, decided to make a series of books called the Aircam Aviation series. In 1971, the first Men-at-Arms (MAA) appeared and we had the ‘series’ approach we have today. The company changed hands a few times and kept expanding. The market needed something and we were supplying it. So now, 45 years later, we have more than 400 MAA books, over 200 Campaigns, 200 New Vanguards, and a dozen different series of books. Enough to ruin my bookshelf at home! There is still a lot we haven’t done, even within the existing series. It’s really about trying new things. If we do a Raid title on a new subject and it does really well, we’ll look at expanding the coverage within another existing series. One of the things I really admire about Osprey is that coverage is diverse, yet thorough, for a lot of things. There are still huge gaps, such as the sixteenth century, for example; but for the big topics like WWII, there’s nothing you can’t find. Funnily enough, we had some reader suggestions on ‘Waffen SS Underpants’ or ‘Assault Accordions of the Eastern Front.’ Who knows? If there is a demand for it, perhaps ... We’d have to find someone qualified to write it and also find an illustrator. On your website, you’ve been asking
what your readers want. A lot of those online questionnaires are now coming to fruition. From concept to release is a process lasting a yearand-a-half to two years. For example, we opened our commissioning for 2015 in spring of this year. That’s the nature of the industry, for writing, artwork, distribution, and so on. Our ‘lead-in time’ for books means that these results can easily be forgotten, but we are listening and hopefully providing people with what they want. Some of your earlier books had wargaming commentary in the back. Yes, the old Campaign series had a page of wargaming information. It was useful, but it wasn’t really fundamentally different from taking the information from the book as a whole. What prompted Osprey to look seriously at going into the wargames market? “Two great tastes combined” was the logic, with Slitherine’s experience of games and Osprey’s military history background, artwork and general presence as a publisher. Field of Glory (FOG) came from that. It’s a good thing we got back into gaming, as it’s a natural fit for Osprey. So, after the success of FOG, is that what inspired you to go further? Yes, with Force on Force and Bolt Action – it really all took off after FOG. Some of the Osprey team are wargamers, myself included. We had actual gaming nerds pushing gaming products;
© Georgie Harman
series. Obviously, it was high time to have a proper chat with
games for enthusiasts by enthusiasts. It doesn’t matter if a submission is from an individual or a manufacturer. If it’s from someone who loves what they are doing, it’ll show in their game and will be fun to play. We won’t necessarily say no to large rule books. For example, we have two big rule books coming along next year: an American Civil War book called Across a Deadly Field, and a French and Indian War through American War of Independence to 1812 game called Land of the Free. They are both due out next year and both take a more traditional ‘big rule book’ approach. So these books won’t be under Osprey Wargames? They’ll be wargames by Osprey, but not part of the OWG series. They will have their own series and layout, hardback books with full colour throughout and, yes, more expensive - £25, as with the FOG and Bolt Action rule books. So, no supplements for your OWG games? Originally, the series was conceived with each title as a standalone game. However, the success of the In Her Majesty’s Name (IMHN) game and the calls for new material made us think again. Given how well it was received, right off the bat, we questioned why this had to be a set rule. Thus, we are planning OWG 3a and OWG 3b.
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What’s the idea behind the standalone concept? Our concept is how to get good small games to market at a competitive price. I would say an OWG is well below what you’d normally pay for that quality. As a company of our size, we have the resources and can produce the volume to keep the price down. It allows people to dip in and see if they like a rule set, and if not, they’ve not really lost out. Your books don’t seem to follow any central rule ‘concept’. Absolutely. The OWG series is just an outlet. Each author comes up with his own concept. The only thing tying them together is the design. Do you think this could be a problem? We argued this back and forth. You’ll always be sacrificing something. I think it was probably the best choice. The one thing I didn’t want to do is establish one system with a bunch of settings simply ‘bolted on’. I don’t think it’s ever worked particularly well. The core game may be great, but there’s a lack of ‘feel’ in those particular games. Were you surprised at how well In Her Majesty’s Name has sold? Yes. Pleasantly so. There were some issues. We did not anticipate that it would sell that well – beyond our wildest dreams! We have a second printing, so we’re getting it back out there now. There has been some critique about the level of support. Yeah. At the minute, each one is being handled individually by the authors on their blogs. Ideally, it would be lovely to have all of that under one roof. I would love to offer people an Osprey Wargaming forum, and this is something I hope to do in future, given time and resources. Is there is a danger that one book is going to get dropped as the next shiny game comes in? I think we’ve proven that we don’t do that. With Force on Force and FOG, they ran side by side. I don’t think either suffered as a result. Similarly, Bolt Action and OWG are coexisting nicely.
Would you ever consider expanding the wargames series? Such as campaign settings and painting guides? Potentially, but we are in danger of replicating what Osprey has done in other areas. There are Campaign books for Across a Deadly Field, one on ‘Battles in the East’ and the other on ‘Battles in the West’, however. The idea of ‘What ifs’ has been bandied around in discussion before. It would be easier with gaming. What sort of games are you looking for? Practically there are no limits. The only line in the sand we draw with the OWG series has a set word count, which is 22,000 words. If it’s bigger than that, we’d consider a larger FOG-style book. The prime thing is the quality of the game. It would be unfair (and pointless!) to compete against our own game, so, for example, with Bolt Action being worked on, World War II would be off limits. We are happy to go back and do something different within a period we’ve already covered. How about mechanisms? Cards, for example. We are a book publisher first and foremost. Anything beyond that is trickier, but not a deal breaker. We’ve included cards at the back of Force on Force. We’d find a solution, like a PDF online. Would language be an issue? Not particularly. It requires some more editorial work, but it’s not a definite obstacle. What sort of playtesting do you have in place? They get proper playtesting by the author’s groups. Then I’ll do a proper evaluation and edit. What do you have in the pipeline? Ronin is out now. Next is OWG 5, Of Gods and Mortals, covering mythological battles. Each player controls a god, a couple of heroes and legends, and some mortals. The main rule book includes Greek, Norse, Celt and Egyptians. As with IHMN, there are rules to make
up your own sides. There’s more Bolt Action stuff; namely, Armies of France & the Allies and Armies of Italy & the Axis. OWG 6 will be A Fistful of Kung Fu, a Hong Kong action game. Think Big Trouble in Little China with a hodgepodge of Korean action movies and Japanese horror. Apart from the others we mentioned, further down the line for OWG we have a pirate game, plus a medieval game for retinue type games. How many games per year? As many as they’ll let me do! General average is three OWGs and two or three larger books. In 2014, we have six in the system already with a few still to come. Let’s say I’m considering writing for you. What’s in it for me? All the books run around royalty payments. Thanks to its standard design, OWG is set at 12.5% net while the larger books will be generally less. There are a large number of factors that affect the production costs, which makes establishing a standard rate slightly tricky. The author needs to feel like they have earned something from that which they deserve to, and I try to make sure the royalty rates achieve this. What risks are there? We soak up all the risks – there are none for the author. What is your personal favourite game and period? In terms of wargames, De Bellis Antiquitatis was my first love. I really wanted to get into Age of Arthur, but never had any opponents. In terms of Ospreys, MAA 279 The Border Reivers. That would make a good game, too. Also, because I love the genre, the Kung Fu era. I’m a great fan of the old Water Margin and Monkey TV series. I’m a typical wargames magpie, but the single biggest army has to be my VSF Mexicans. How do we contact you? If you have an idea for a game, or even if it’s just to say what you’d like to see, please contact me at: [email protected]
Thank you, Phil!
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By Eoghan Kelly
TIGER, TIGER, BURNING BRIGHT As part of the 6th SS Panzer Army, Kampfgruppe Peiper was the largest of the four armoured columns designed to punch holes through the Allied lines during the opening days of the Battle of the Bulge. Its commander, SS-Standartenführer Joachim Peiper, was a battle hardened veteran of both the Eastern and Western Fronts. He was selected for this mission as he had a no-nonsense approach to following orders and had a track record of pulling off spectacular victories in the face of huge odds.
he Ardennes, however, was one order too far. Dogged with bad luck from the outset, he had insufficient forces to protect his rear lines and a plan that was just unrealistic. The low-water-mark came just beyond La Gleize, a small village in the heavily wooded hills north of Luxembourg. His attack faltered on 21 December, and by the 23rd his forces had been driven back into the village. Attempting one last break-out, he manoeuvred his tanks to attempt an early morning assault on the American lines at dawn on 24 December 1944.
THE SCENARIO The following scenario is designed to be played at several different scales. At the grandest level, it could be played with 6mm using almost the entire map recreated on the board. At bigger scales, the moves of both combatants could be given to a referee, who then determines at what point the forces meet. The forces below are roughly based on the Bolt Action rules set, but are generic enough to be adapted to any system.
GERMAN BRIEFING Armed with the very best that is on offer, you are attempting to break the American forces to your west, in order to give you and your comrades a chance to escape eastwards and reach the safety of German lines. The problems you face are manifest from the start. The streets of this little village are too narrow to easily move your heavy armour – the tanks have to turn their turrets with the streets, in order to avoid
La Gleize, Stoumont, Belgian Ardennes. damaging their guns. You need to get clear to properly use your main armaments. Your objective is to destroy the Americans and then to escape eastwards. German Notes The Germans have no Panzerfausts – they had lost their resupply vehicles in an airstrike a few days before, and exhausted what they had by 23 December. The only anti-armour they have consists of their own tanks. All the Germans start in the town, defending each of the perimeters. They are trying to escape eastwards on the only good road; taking a Königstiger or the soft-skinned transports cross-country is simply not an option. The German
German Forces (II/2nd SS Panzergrenadier Battalion plus elements from Schwere Panzer-Abteilung 501) 2 x Pzkpfw VI Ausf. B (King Tigers) 4 x Pzkpfw V Ausf. G (Panthers) 2 x SdKfz 251 1 x Major 1 x Captain 1 x Medic team 1 x Sniper Team 4 x SS-Panzergrenadier Squads (1 NCO + 9 men) 1 x medium mortar team 2 x medium machine-gun teams Several wheeled soft-skinned transport vehicles, carrying wounded.
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A Königstiger, perhaps not ideal in heavily wooded hills or the narrow streets of old European villages. American Forces (2nd Battalion, 119th Regiment, plus support from the 116th Armoured Regiment, Tennessee NG) 2 x M4A4 Sherman 75mm 2 x M10 A1 Wolverine 5 x Bazooka teams (with optional jeep transport) 1 x Major 1 x First Lieutenant 1 x Medic 1 x Forward Air Observer (may only spot in daylight) 1 x Forward Artillery Observer 1 x Sniper Team 1 x Mechanic team (as per medic team, but with spanners not syringes!) 4 x Regular infantry squads (1 NCO + 11 men) 2 x .50-cal heavy machine-gun
command must start dug-in in the cellar of one of the buildings. The German infantry are all regular, except the officers, who are veteran. German armoured vehicles are veteran. None of their tanks can rotate their turrets while in the streets of La Gleize; vehicles can only point their main gun directly forwards. This strictly limits weapon fire to the front arc. All German vehicles may suffer from low ammunition. Each time they fire their main gun after the first time, roll a D6. On a 1, they may have depleted their ammunition. Roll again and, on a 4, 5 or 6, they are fine, but on a 1, 2 or 3 they have depleted their ammunition and have only D3 rounds left for their gun.
AMERICAN BRIEFING After a very hair-raising couple of days, you seem to have finally stopped the huge German armoured thrust into the Allied armies. In order to stabilize the front, you need to cut the heads off these columns and emasculate them. The remnants of the main column are now dug-in at La Gleize. They still have significant firepower, and nothing you have in your armoured vehicles is capable of going toe-to-toe with these huge armoured monsters. However, you do have mobility, artillery (and, hopefully, air support), and a lot of anti-tank weapons.
American Notes The officers are veteran, the squads and armour are all regular. Each squad has a BAR. The bazooka teams consist of three-man crews (jeep driver plus 2-man bazooka team). Due to plentiful ammunition, the bazookas are effectively endless and may be fired every round of the game. The M10s are mechanically unreliable. On any turn in which an M10 attempts to move, roll a D6; on a 5 or 6, it becomes stuck, as its clutch has burnt out. Its turret may still rotate and a mechanical crew may attempt to fix it by staying with it for 2 turns – they fix it on a roll of anything except a 1. It will remain unreliable, even after fixing. American artillery has plentiful ammunition; they can call on two fire missions per game. Off-board artillery is heavy (155mm). The air observer can only call in air support 2 turns after dawn.
GAME CONDITIONS The weather is cold and overcast, as the game starts in the early morning. The scenario is 10+ turns long, and dawn is possible after turn 3. Roll a D6: on a 1 or 2, it’s still dark; on a 3 or 4, dawn starts to break; on a 5 or 6, the clouds have masked dawn and it is now daylight. Night-fighting rules as per Bolt Action apply (online at bit.ly/14qdgnd). The wind is slight and from the northeast. Conditions are icy and frozen – some snow has fallen, but the main issue is frost. The buildings are stone and timber – fires may be started inside them. As the ground is unsuitable for German AFVs to go cross-country, they will inevitably have to go down the eastern road, exposing their rears to Allied attacks. (Driving their tanks backwards is also not an option!)
VICTORY AND GAME BALANCE The Germans win if they end the game with the majority of their forces on the eastern end of the board, exiting off-table. A major victory happens if this includes a Königstiger exiting the eastern edge. The numbers on each side can be either
increased or decreased, depending on the scale played or the size of the forces available. The number of AFVs could be halved, for example, or the forces doubled for both sides. Other balancing options include giving the German vehicles low fuel (as per the Armies of Germany supplement, p. 95). For the Allies, reduce the bazooka teams to 3-shot weapons.
AFTERMATH After enduring nearly five days of bombardment, the Germans finally got to grips with their tormentors. The US forces moved in to eliminate the remains of the Kampfgruppe. The German survivors fought tenaciously for nearly 24 hours, weathering repeated assaults by American infantry, supported by air and artillery fire. American close support was poor, with their armour being reluctant to engage with the ‘Big Cats’ lurking in La Gleize. In the end, the German armour, hampered by the tight streets and the many bazookas that assailed them, was forced to withdraw into a defensive line to the east of the village. Later that day, following a lull in the fighting, the Germans could be seen setting fire to vehicles and stores, and pulling out of their positions, abandoning their heavy equipment and vehicles. With the Allies reluctant to immediately pursue, Peiper led 800 of his men out of La Gleize, 770 of whom made it safely through to the German lines. The original size of his force is estimated at 600 armoured fighting vehicles and 4800 men in the column when it set off. The defeat at La Gleize was the effective end of the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler as a fighting force. Expect more Bitesize pieces from Eoghan, including Monkhe business at Berlin Zoo!
Miniatures by Warlord Games. Our thanks to Paul Sawyer for allowing last-minute photography.
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By Mark Backhouse
Leach and Hogan at Festubert
WITH GREAT BRAVERY As a boy, I remember having to wait each day for my mum to finish work as a teacher. As luck would have it, one day, I spotted a big pile of old books being thrown out in the school skip. Being of an inquisitive nature, I had a look and found a nearly complete set of The Times History of the Great War and salvaged them. The next hour of waiting went very quickly!
hese books were a record of the First World War, written while the war was still going on. They were filled with a veritable wealth of photographs, maps and reports from the front, covering just about every campaign possible, from the Western Front to obscure Eastern Front battles in Armenia! Being ten years old, I found the text heavy going, but became particularly fascinated by the glorified pictures and descriptions of the Victoria Cross winners, as I spent hours thumbing through the fifteen or so volumes. One of my favourite stories was the one about Second Lieutenant James Leach and Sergeant John Hogan. I think the reason that I was first drawn to it was the wonderful A4-size drawing of the British soldiers coming around the corner of a trench with weapons drawn and the disgruntled Germans throwing their hands in the air, looking thoroughly dejected. Leach had been commissioned as an officer in the 2nd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment on 1 October 1914. At only 22 years of age, he received his baptism by fire in the first couple of months of the war, fighting with the 1st Northamptonshires. He had started the war as a lance-corporal and had been quickly promoted to sergeant for his distinguished conduct and bravery in the fighting on the River Aisne in mid-September. Such rapid promotion was clear testimony of both his qualities under fire and, doubtless, of the high rate of attrition at the start of the war.
The 2nd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment had been attached to the 5th Division and sailed to France in August 1914. They had been involved in rearguard actions following the Battle of Mons and had managed to withdraw relatively intact, suffering just 12 casualties. At Le Cateau, they had been committed as reinforcements to try and stem the German breakthrough, but had received heavy fire from their flank and front, and were forced to fall back. In September, they were engaged at the battles of the Marne and the Aisne, and even more severe fighting continued around Béthune in October. The Manchesters were sent to Festubert on 22 October 1914, on the southern flank of what was turning into the First Battle of Ypres. Festubert was a small village in northern France, close to La Bassée and about 2km north-west of Givenchy, which had been captured by the Germans about a fortnight earlier.
Lt James Leach, VC. Between 26 and 29 October, both the 1st and 2nd Manchester Battalions came under a heavy German bombardment followed by a rapid assault. The German attack had managed to dislodge the Manchesters from their position around Festubert and the British had lost large parts of their front-line trench. Despite repeated attempts to retake it on 29 October, they had all been beaten back with heavy losses throughout the morning. By the afternoon, the situation was getting more desperate and Leach volunteered to lead an attack to retake the trench. He was supported by ten volunteers and his trusty sergeant, John Hogan. Descriptions of what happened next are rather hazy, and any reports of an aggressive and quick military action are bound to differ somewhat. Some
Leach and Hogan advance forward.
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ditches, at Festubert they seem to have learnt from some of the earlier mistakes and included some traverses to minimise the impact of enemy shell-fire. Because the Manchesters had been in position for several days, I suspect that they would have made their trenches as deep as possible. The British secondline trenches need not be depicted and can be assumed to be just on the British table edge.
Trench clearing, section by section. descriptions suggest that Hogan and Leach attacked the trenches alone, after several failed attempts to attack in larger numbers. The soldiers assaulted the Germans through one of the communications trenches, and then attacked the front-line trench. Leach used his revolver to fire around the corners of the trenches at close range, without exposing himself too much to returning fire. Hogan guarded the parapet behind Leach as they advanced, and prevented the pair being attacked from above or behind. Along the way, he raised his hat on the end of his rifle to let the rest of his platoon know where he was and to make sure they were not fired upon. Hogan’s citation claims that the men “worked from traverse to traverse at close quarters and with great bravery, gradually regaining possession, killing eight of the enemy, wounding two, and making sixteen prisoners.” In the final traverses of the trench, Leach was surprised to hear an English voice shout out “Don’t shoot, sir!” One of the Manchesters who had been captured in the morning had been sent out to arrange the German’s surrender. Neither of the British soldiers had been injured, although Leach’s cap and scarf both had bullet holes in them from near misses. After such a successful action, both Leach and Hogan were recommended for the Victoria Cross. They were awarded it on 22 December 1914 by King George V in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
small number of figures required to re-enact it. The Manchesters need just 12 figures, while the German forces holding the captured trench can be represented by a single platoon of around 30 figures. The game should ideally be played on a 6’ x 4’ table, with a single trench running roughly diagonally across it, starting about 14” in from the British side of the table and ending in the opposite corner. At least one communications trench should connect this with the British table edge. If you are short of trenches (or table space), then there is no reason why this would not work with a 4’ x 4’ table. Some craters and shelled woods could be helpful to provide the British with some alternative cover as they advance on the German-held trenches, although some hedges, walls or trees would probably suffice. While many trenches depicted in photographs and descriptions from 1914 show straight and rather shallow
THE RULES For our play-through of the scenario, I used Chris Peer’s To The Last Man rules. However, any set of twentieth-century skirmish rules could easily be used, such as Triumph and Tragedy. At our club, we quite like Through the Mud and the Blood and If the Lord Spares Us by TooFatLardies, but the size of the British force is possibly a bit small for these. Another set that would work well is the 1938 ‘Very British Civil War’ conversion of Legends of the Old West, written by Guy Bowers and published in WS&S 52 and 53.
THE SIDES I have tried to explain these with To The Last Man classifications, although they should be easily transferable to your favoured rule set. The British Second Lieutenant James Leach – Gallant (Elite), C in C. Armed with a revolver.
THE SCENARIO The scenario recreates the attack led by Second Lieutenant James Leach and Sergeant John Hogan at Festubert on 29 October, to recapture the trenches held by the Germans. The event appealed to me as a gamer, due to the relatively
The Germans bring up reinforcements.
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regulars. In To The Last Man, this still makes them reasonably competent at shooting and effective in hand-to-hand combat. However, they are considerably more brittle in terms of morale and find it difficult to recover if they are pinned or if their unit suffers major trauma. This was meant to accurately reflect the high rate of surrender on the day in question. Unfortunately, I have not managed to find out the specific German unit involved.
The British storm a bunker. Sergeant John Hogan – Gallant (Elite), NCO. Armed with a rifle and bayonet. 10 x British Infantry – Regular. Armed with rifle and bayonet. I decided to make the British ‘regular’ for this scenario, but allowed the troops a +1 bonus for their shooting, to allow for the British emphasis on marksmanship in the regular army at the start of the war. The British infantry should be organized into two rifle sections, each one led by one of the characters. Leach and Hogan should be assumed to be completely self-motivated, regardless of the state of the rest of the section. The Germans Platoon commander – Militia, C in C.
Armed with pistol. Corporal – Militia, NCO. Armed with rifle and bayonet. 30 x German Infantry – Militia. Armed with rifle and bayonet. The Germans should be organized into two squads of around 15 figures, led by the Officer and NCO respectively. In the accounts of the battle, only 26 Germans are mentioned as either killed, injured or captured, but I have assumed that a couple managed to escape. Feel free to modify the numbers as you see fit or to suit available models. I decided, for balance of play, that the German platoon should probably be classed as ‘militia’ quality, representing reservist troops who perhaps lacked the formal training or confidence of the
The Germans are set up occupying the trench facing towards the British long table edge. The two squads should be evenly spread along the entire trench. The British storming parties can start anywhere along their long table edge and can attack either stealthily or using a rush and assault. The British get the first turn. Victory conditions The Germans win a total victory if they keep control of the trench at the end of the game and Leach and Hogan are killed or captured. The Germans win a minor victory if they keep control of the trench, regardless of whether one or other hero is killed or captured. The British win a total victory if they recapture the trench and Hogan and Leach receive a VC (see below). The British win a minor victory if the trench is recaptured, regardless
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The British return with prisoners. of casualties or VCs. If the trench is still disputed, then the result is a draw. Winning the Victoria Cross As each of the British characters carries out specific actions, tally up their ‘glory’ score as they go. • Capturing the German trenches: +10 glory points • For every German killed or captured by the character: + 2 glory points • For every German killed or captured by British soldiers under their command: + 1 glory point each • For killing or capturing the German officer: +4 glory points • If engaged in close combat for at least a turn: +2 glory points • If killed in action: +4 glory points Each character needs to score at least 20 glory points to win the Victoria Cross for valour.
TWEAKING THE SCENARIO Depending on the rule set that you are using, you might want to alter a few aspects of the scenario to make it more balanced. If the German platoon repeatedly lose using your rules, you might consider improving their quality up to ‘regular’ (although in To The Last Man terms, this would make it even more of a suicide mission, if it applied to the whole platoon – maybe limiting it to one squad would be better). Another alternative would be to reduce still further the number of attackers, as historically Leach and Hogan seem to have
done the majority of the groundwork. If the British are repeatedly beaten, then you might want to consider improving the quality of the Manchesters up to ‘dashing’, or providing some supporting fire from off-table HMGs or artillery barrages.
FIGURE AND SCENERY AVAILABILITY We played the scenario out using 28mm figures from Great War Miniatures, although Renegade, Wargames Foundry, Battle Honours, Woodbine Design Company, and Reiver Castings all provide suitable figures at this scale. 20mm is another viable option that makes gaming some of the larger battles of the Western Front more affordable. IT Miniatures and Tumbling Dice both supply the troops required for this scenario. Several soft plastic sets are also available from Airfix, which would allow you to play out this scenario for less than a tenner. At 28mm scale, Ironclad, Kallistra, Grand Manner, and Total System Scenic all have decent trench systems. In 20mm, Ironclad and Small Scale Scenics both make excellent systems. Because many WWI games require a lot of trenches, I would encourage players to have a go at scratch-building, if they are short of cash. The ones we used in our playtest looked fantastic and were made very cheaply out of balsa wood, polystyrene and lightweight filler.
TIME FOR REFLECTION
in my articles. As a lad reading those Times History of the War books, I never realized the true horror of the First World War. After the events of 29 October 1914, Leach was treated for concussion, and was discharged on medical grounds in December. Despite this, he was back at the front in April 1915, where he lasted just one week before again being deemed unfit for service and given leave until September. This was cut short and he was called up again to the Signals Corps. Later, he was transferred back to the 2nd Manchesters, but clearly he was suffering from very poor mental health. He spent a short period in Craiglockhart Hospital in Edinburgh, and then spent a further 12 months on sick leave drawing half pay. He was discharged in August 1918. Clearly, the events at Festubert had played a huge part in his breakdown. After the war, Leach volunteered to work in the Royal Irish Constabulary in County Cork, and returned to England after the peace treaty in 1921. Reading of the after-effects of Leach’s heroism can only make one grateful that tin, resin or plastic figures can have no stress. It’s just the gamer who has to paint them all who gets that!
The models used are from 25mm Foundry range and were painted by Martin Oaff and Guy Bowers. The author built the trenches. Initial findings came from The Times History of the War, Volume 10 (London 1917). An excellent biography of James Leach can be found at: http:// www.tameside.gov.uk/museumsgalleries/mom/lotm/leach Several of the more general histories of the campaigns of 1914 that I found useful to put the actions into context include: Lyn Macdonald, 1914: The days of hope (London, 1989). Antony Farrar-Hockley, Death of an Army (London, 1967). David Lomas, First Ypres 1914 (Osprey, 1998).
I always worry about glorifying war
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By Simon Miller
Wargaming the battle of Thapsus
SCIPIO VERSUS CAESAR By 46 BC, the Roman civil war between Caesar’s Populares and the Optimates, the faction formerly led by Pompey had moved to northern Africa. There, the remaining Optimates led by Marcus Cato (the Younger) and Caecilius Metellus Scipio (a descendant of Scipio Africanus) had gathered their forces. It was still a formidable, led by experienced generals and now reinforced by their ally, Juba I of Numidia with a substantial native force.
aesar had landed in the area as well in September 47 BC, assembling a sizeable army over time. At the Battle of Ruspina and in numerous skirmishes, the Caesarian forces generally seem to have gained the upper hand over their enemies. By April, both the Populares army and the larger Optimates army were in the region of Thapsus, a walled coastal town garrisoned by a Pompeian detachment; Caesar promptly besieged the town, throwing a circumvallation around it. The main Optimates army, led by Scipio, but including a large allied contingent under Juba, marched to its relief. Thapsus was situated on an isthmus: a long, curved spit of land with the sea to the north and a large salt lake to the south. For this reason, the town could only be approached either from the south-east or from the west. Scipio first attempted to approach Thapsus from the south-east, but found his way barred by a Caesarian fort. He erected two forts to secure this end of the isthmus, and left Juba and many of the allied forces to man them, thus blocking Caesar’s potential line of retreat. That night Scipio force-marched his legions all the way around the salt lake, approaching the town again, this time from the west. Drawing up his battle-line, he set some of his troops to building a line of hasty fortifications across the isthmus, threatening to cut Caesar off. Not wishing to be so confined, and trusting to the superior élan
View from the seaward flank, with the Optimates on the right. of his legions, Caesar therefore brought his army out of camp and offered battle.
THE FORCES Caesar had ten legions in total. Five of these were veterans. The other five were relatively recently recruited, but somewhat hardened by campaigning. He assigned the two least experienced of these new legions to man the forts covering the south-eastern approach to Thapsus, leaving eight legions in his battle-line. He also had an unspecified number of Gallic cavalry, supported by skirmishers and a force of archers and slingers. Finally, he had the support of a naval squadron on his seaward flank, including marines armed with missile weapons. The Optimates were probably somewhat more numerous than the Caesarians, with ten legions that may have been nearer to full strength than Caesar’s, as they had recruited heavily in Africa. According to Caesar, though, many of their legionaries were inexperienced and contemptible freedmen and slaves.
Moreover, some of them (probably the third line of cohorts) were engaged in building the new fortifications. The bulk of Juba’s troops, probably including his four ‘imitation legions’, were absent, garrisoning the forts on the far side of Thapsus. However, at least 64 of Juba’s elephants and presumably many of his light cavalry and infantry were present on the battlefield.
THE BATTLE The spit of land on which the Battle of Thapsus was fought was a narrow, flat plain, around a mile and a half wide. The land would then, as now, have been agricultural, with fields and olive trees that would have offered little obstacle to the free movement of troops. On the south flank, scrub still runs down to the impassable salt lake (the Sebkha of Moknine; an interesting modelling challenge). On the north flank, sandy beaches run down to the Mediterranean. Caesar deployed seven of his eight available legions in three lines of co-
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der, and, in their bloodlust, even killed some of their own officers, who tried to bring an end to the slaughter. Plutarch writes that Caesar had lost control of his forces, because he had suffered an epileptic fit. Caesar’s decisive victory at Thapsus effectively ended the war in Africa. However, several of the Pompeian leaders evaded capture and reached Spain, where they gathered a fresh army and initiated the final stage of the Civil war.
Historical deployments. horts, across the width of the spit, with his less experienced legions in the centre, and the more experienced ones on either side of them. Each end of the line was reinforced by half of the veteran V Alaudae legion, drawn up in a fourth line, most likely (in the view of the author) in front of the other cohorts, as ‘the Larks’ were heavily engaged with the enemy’s elephant screen. Archers and slingers screened the wings, which included contingents of Gallic cavalry mixed with light troops. The Optimates would also have drawn up their forces in the customary three lines, with their cavalry on the wings, screened by at least 64 of Juba’s 120 elephants. The restricted width of the battlefield proved highly advantageous to the Caesarians, as it limited the effectiveness of the Optimates’ greater numbers of light infantry and cavalry, who were left with little space to deploy and no opportunity to outflank their opponents. Caesar rode along his line to review his troops, who were in excellent spirits, unlike those of the Optimates, whose lines seem to have been in some disorder, either due to their inexperience or the need to build the fortifications. When his troops clamoured to attack,
Caesar initially tried to restrain them. However, an unknown trumpeter signalled the attack, and the entire Populares’ line rolled impetuously forward! Making the best of circumstances, Caesar signalled the attack. Caesar had originally planned a naval diversion behind the Optimates’ seaward flank, but the rapid advance of his unruly troops left no time for this stratagem to take effect. The Numidian elephants attacking Caesar’s right flank were panicked by the missiles of Caesar’s skirmishers, and routed through the troops behind them, carrying the wing away with them. On his left, at least some of the elephants were driven off by the veterans of V Alaudae – Caesar had, with his usual forethought, arranged for these latter to be trained in anti-elephant tactics, using pachyderms specially re-imported into Africa from the Roman circus. Similarly, he had also made his cavalry practise with the elephants, so that their horses could overcome their fear of the latter’s scent. The Optimates forces apparently collapsed very quickly, as Caesar claims that only 50 of his men were killed during the battle. However, his enraged legionaries massacred 10,000 enemy legionaries who were trying to surren-
The author plays Thapsus as an extremely large scenario, using his own ”To the Strongest!” rules and involving more than sixty 28mm units, on a table 8’ wide by 6’ deep. His legionaries are formed into units of 24 models in 2 ranks, elephants in units of two, and light infantry and cavalry are in units 9-12 strong. The scenario will also work perfectly well with other rule sets, though, such as Impetus, Hail Caesar, FoG or WAB. If a gamer lacks sufficient miniatures, the number of units can be scaled down, as long as the width of the battlefield is reduced proportionately. Alternatively, single elements could be used in place of units, or formations could be reduced to one rank deep. Caesar’s legionaries were certainly superior in morale to their opponents (whose formations included many recently conscripted farmers and slaves). Moreover, several of his legions were veteran. These differences should be reflected in the rules; in Hail Caesar terms, the Alaudae cohorts might perhaps be Elite and the veterans Stubborn; the inexperienced Optimates legionaries might be Freshly Raised. Caesar also had more ‘bridled’ Gallic and German cavalry than the Pompeians. Lacking bridles, the Numidian cavalry could not sufficiently control their horses to charge these on anything like an equal basis. On the other hand, the Optimates’ legionaries should be rather more numerous and supported by substantial native forces, albeit of indifferent quality (Wavering or Levy). Juba’s elephants, in
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SCENARIO Clash of the battle-lines. particular, were very poorly trained, and appropriate rules should be selected to make them almost as dangerous to the Optimates as to their enemies! Place one low hill in the central zone and one in each of the flank zones. Place two areas of rough ground (olive groves) in each flank zone. If available, a partially constructed line of fortifications can be placed across the entire width of the Optimates base zone; it is impassable terrain for both sides (the openings being too narrow to allow many soldiers to pass at the same time). The eponymous besieged city and siege lines were off-table, behind the Caesarian lines, so they don’t need to be represented on the battlefield ... but it would look great if they could be! Thapsus was a walled port. At the outset, the players should agree a set number of turns for the game, depending upon the rule set used. The Caesarians move first. The Caesarians win if they rout the Pompeians within this time period: the Pompeians win otherwise, or if Caesar is killed. Caesar’s challenge will be to win the battle quickly, before the Optimates’ superior numbers tell!
from the Caesarian battle line and used in an amphibious landing. The author is currently laying the keels of a small Roman fleet to explore this idea.
The historical Battle of Thapsus was something of a whitewash for the Caesarians, so the author has to some extent balanced the scenario, in order to make it more entertaining than the historical encounter. This has been done by somewhat improving the quality of the native forces (who performed so very poorly on the day). There are, however, a number of ‘what ifs’ that could change the balance of the battle. Players might like to introduce a mechanism through which Caesar can be laid low by an epileptic fit, being removed from play on any Blundered order roll, in Hail Caesar terms.
At the start of the battle, it appears that the element of the Optimates forces who were constructing the fortifications behind their camp, were disorganised, which is why they aren’t permitted to move in the first turn of the scenario. However, if Caesar’s response to the flanking move had been less prompt, these fortifications (presumably a palisade and ditch) might have been completed, and the troops available from the first move. They might also have provided platforms for light artillery to provide supporting fire over the heads of the Optimates troops.
This order of battle is based on the author’s ”To the Strongest!” scenario.
Another interesting variation would be to model and include the Caesarian naval squadron, positioned on the seaward flank. This is likely to have included triremes and perhaps even some of the exceptionally large Roman grain ships, pressed into temporary use as troop transports. Manned by marines with missile weapons (and perhaps artillery), Caesar intended the fleet to be used primarily as a diversion, but in the game some troops could be withdrawn
Scipio had made some efforts to train his elephants for the battlefield, although not sufficient as they were quickly routed. Raising the quality of the elephants would also help to balance the battle. Finally, at the height of the battle, the besieged defenders of Thapsus sallied from their town, through a gate on its seaward side, and waded through the waves to attack the Caesarian camp.
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Populares Forces Caesar – inspired commanding general Right wing sub-general 2 x German or Gallic ‘bridled’ horse 1 x javelinmen 2 x slingers or archers Centre sub-general 8 x veteran cohort and 6 x experienced cohort, drawn up in three lines 2 x elite cohort (half of V Alaudae), one in front of the end of each line (If the rule system permits, the morale of the Populares cohorts should be higher than that of their Optimates equivalents.) Left wing sub-general 2 x German or Gallic ‘bridled’ horse 1 x javelinmen 2 x slingers or archers
A city that belongs to just one man is no true city.
Optimates Forces Metellus Scipio – commanding general Titus Labienus – Right wing sub-general 1 x elephants* 1 x German or Gallic ‘bridled’ horse 2 x Numidian skirmishers 2 x Numidian cavalry Lucius Afranius – Centre sub-general 20 x experienced cohort, drawn up in three lines If desired, some of the legionary cohorts could be replaced with Numidian ‘imitation’ legionaries. The rear line of cohorts cannot move in the first turn, as they are deemed to be forming up, having abandoned work on the fortifications. Marcus Petraeus – Left wing sub-general 2 x elephants* 1 x German or Gallic ‘bridled’ horse 2 x Numidian skirmishers 2 x Numidian cavalry * Juba’s elephants were poorly trained, and should be at least as dangerous to the Optimates as to their enemies!
They were driven off by a scratch force of slaves and camp servants. If a gamer has the resources to model the camp, siege lines and city walls, it would be a terrible pity not to include them in the fighting. Alternatively, this engagement could be fought as a separate skirmish.
TO THE STRONGEST! To the Strongest! is a set of rules for tabletop wargaming, currently under development by the author, which are designed to fight battles around the Mediterranean basin from the rise of the Greek City states, around 500 BC, to
the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the late fourth century AD. The rule mechanics are intended to be simple enough to engage players who haven’t previously used them, such that they can learn on the job and have a fair grasp of the rules by the end of their first game. At the same time he believes that they capture much of the flavour of Greek and Roman warfare, and retain plenty of command decisions for the experienced player. The rules are designed to be scale-able, so that they can be used for anything from solo play with 100 or so minia-
tures, through to multiplayer games with 2000 plus miniatures and up to 5 players a side, at a show. A square grid has been used to promote speed of play, so that games can comfortably be set up and completed within an evening, or in a few hours at a show. This grid also permits figures based for different systems to be used together on the same battlefield. Both the full rules and an even more accessible ‘Lite’ version are in play-testing, and the author expects to publish them early next year. The author, Simon Miller (aka BigRedBat), will be taking an extended version of the scenario, hopefully with ships, to The Other Partizan in Newark on September 1st, to Colours in Newbury on 14th/15th September and to SELWG on October 13th, so there should be plenty of opportunity for participation players to join in, and experience the rules in action!
All photos courtesy of the author. Sources: Caesar, The Civil War (Penguin Books; Harmondsworth, 1967) A. Goldsworthy, Caesar. The Life of a Colossus (Phoenix; London, 2007)
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© Georgie Harman
COLUMN By Mike Evans
Devil’s Advocate One set to rule them all?
Oh, for an easy life! I was musing the other day about rebasing. It’s a pain in the proverbial. Why can’t all rule systems use the same basing? It would make life so much easier. The thought then occurred to me: why can’t all rules use the same mechanics? Take morale, for example. I happen to like the Civil War (the American one, that is, although I’m equally partial to a game featuring King Charles’ brave boys). I like to play different sets of rules for different scales of action – from skirmish games with a handful of figures through to corps-sized games with hundreds of figures on the table. For each game, I use the same figures on the same table with the same terrain. So, with all of this commonality, why is it that, in one set of rules, I roll a D10 and need to score more than X to pass a morale test, while in another set, it’s the same D10 but I need to roll less than X. It’s the same outcome – barring, of course, the need to consult with a rule book to check which mechanism it happens to be today. Now, I have no idea what was in the minds of those writing the rules, but it does occur to me that there’s a chance that one of them changed the mechanics just for the sake of it. It’s the same with wording. One set has “difficult terrain”, while another has “rough ground”. “Shaken” becomes “unsteady”. “Half move” becomes “half pace”. The list is endless. Does it add anything to the seeming realism of the game? Nope. Not
one iota. What it does add is the requirement to frequently go back to the rule book to remind oneself what the hell the difference is between “half arsed” and “half baked”. You might have guessed by now that I’m not referring to any two specific rule sets, but to just about every one across every period. And just in case you’re still not convinced, substitute the D10 for 2D6: is it over X or under X for my boys to pass the test? Oh, for goodness sake, I’ve just recalled another set where it’s a D6 – now to try and remember whether the Iron Brigade need to score more than or less than 5 to pass the darned test. In fact, now that I’m firmly on my soapbox, what about all of the other mechanisms that float around attempting to make it seem like one set of rules is different from any other? How many times have you had to look up what constitutes a flank attack? “Half of the attacking unit behind an imaginary line extending along the front of the unit”? Of course, I paraphrase here, because the definition will either need to refer to umpteen diagrams and ramble on for half a page, or be so short that it’s equally incomprehensible. Is it half, or is it any part of said unit? Perhaps, in this particular case, the author decided that it’s all of the unit! The outcome is the same – back to the rule book and more time spent reading rather than playing the game.
Iron Brigade passes on…, was it a 5? Five and above, or five and below?
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By this stage, you might think that I’ve made my point, but – what the hell – I’m going to labour it some more. (I’m getting paid by the word, so we might as well have a few more.) Just the other day, I was playing what turned out to be a rather fun Napoleonic game. Things moved well enough. Infantry moved 8” per turn (although why on earth we can’t even standardize that number is beyond me). Then we came to our first combat. Simple enough: roll a few dice, one die per stand, 4+ is a hit. Tot up all the hits. “Old school”, you might say. Then came the rub – ‘supporting units’ and ‘secure flanks’. Lots of pluses and minuses here, so it’s a critical part of the calculation to see who is the victor. Now, what constitutes a ‘secure flank’? Last week, my unit had a wood to its flank, so that was secure. This week, a wood is not good enough, because there might be some enemy lurking in it. Grief! I’ve just remembered a set of rules from way back in which a wood could be secure if you had moved some men through it, but was insecure if you had not. Yup, it was back to the rule book, rattling through page after page to work out the definitions. The time wasted was already bad enough, but then we had to decide whether the unit behind counted as ‘rear support’ for one or two units in the front line. Perhaps you might like to know the result of this combat? (I’d actually given up the will to live, by this point, so you must be made of sterner stuff
“What do you mean we should have been moving in inches?” than me.) My brave boys lost. Oh, yes, they had done everything right. Softened the target up, charged in and caused more casualties, even had rear support (although the other chap did not, so that was alright). But because the wood was ‘unfriendly’ this week, they lost. Last week, they would have won. Luckily, we are all good enough mates that it didn’t turn into a blazing argument; but after 15 minutes of reading the rules to work it out, I don’t think any of us cared very much. And do you know the really unsatisfactory side to this? Both sets of rules are really good and can give really good games. Now, one of the arguments used to ‘justify’ differences between different rule sets is that one set better reflects the tactics of the day. Why so? Surely, if you want to play a given period, you want to play the tactics of the day? Otherwise, it’s just a game and you might as well be pushing blocks of coloured wood around. Do I really need a +1 for a unit that has rear support to encourage me to have it? Should the ‘thin red line’ get +1 to encourage its use or, come to that, another +1 simply because they are British and ‘therefore’ must be so much better than the
Hitting them damn Yankees on a 4+. Was that using a D6 or a D10? rest? No, there should be no need to cook the books, no need to falsely generate an expected outcome. Playing the tactics of the day should be enough. The rules should simply allow the game to happen, at its own pace, and without the need for constant references and – God forbid – the need for lawyers to interpret them. Black Powder, I hear you say! That’s exactly what these rules set out to do. And, well, yes – you may have a point. The rules do attempt to cover a wide time span; but, even here, we have a host of add-ons, with specific period rules and yet more variants in the mechanisms: Hail Caesar, Pike and Shotte, and so forth. So, I’d like to ask the rules writers out there, and indeed the players as well, why can’t life be simple for the humble gamer? Why can’t we have one rule set that allows us to play our games without the need for endless referrals to the rule book to determine what constitutes what, this particular week? Why can’t I have a set of universal rules, such that I can pop down to the club or visit the neighbouring club or indeed any game store, and get a game? Any period, any scale, and we all know the rules? “Why don’t you just stick to one set, then”, I hear you reply, “so that you will remember without needing the book?” But that’s exactly my point – that’s exactly what I want. I want one set where all the mechanisms are the same across all periods, at all scales. My basic man-on-foot moves 4”, whether he’s a Sumerian, a Moor, a Fire Zouave or a Russian Conscript. He’s got a bow or a musket or a rifle, so he shoots 12”, or 24”, or whatever this week, just as he did last week. The pile of rocks to his front is rough ground and that irritating wood on his flank might be secure or insecure, but let’s just pick one, can we? Either one, I simply don’t care. Oh, and feel free to change 4” to 6”, or 2”, come to that, but let’s just stick with one. And don’t even think about suggesting measuring in centimetres! Mike’s just frustrated. Understandably so as there’s nothing more annoying than playing a game using centimetres, only to find your opponent moved the same number, but in inches!
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By Roger Murrow
Leipzig, Saxony, 14-19 October 1813
THE BATTLE OF THE NATIONS Following Napoleon’s failed invasion of Russia, the anti-French forces had cautiously regrouped as the Sixth Coalition. This broad and unstable grouping gave rise to more mutual distrust and suspicion than three tomcats meeting on a garden fence, as it comprised those well-known Portugal, and several smaller German states.
n total, this coalition could put into the field well over a million troops, whilst Napoleon’s forces had shrunk to just a few hundred thousand who were of mixed quality as the cream of French imperial forces had perished during the Russian debacle. There was, however, life in the old dog. Napoleon gained two hard-fought victories at Lützen on 2 May and at Bautzen on 20–21 May over RussoPrussian forces. Following on from a brief armistice, Napoleon then won a major victory at Dresden on 27 August. This defeat prompted a rethink of coalition strategy, with the development of the Trachenberg Plan. This essentially meant that they would avoid direct contact with Napoleon, but would instead give battle to his marshals. This led to victories at Grossbeeren, Kulm, Katzbach and Dennewitz. The French defeat at Grossbeeren was perhaps the pivotal event, as this meant that Marshal Oudinot failed to capture Berlin, thereby forcing Napoleon to withdraw westwards. Due to the threat from coalition forces to the north, Napoleon crossed the Elbe in late September and organized his forces around Leipzig. He deployed his army around the city, concentrating forces from Taucha through Stötteritz. As for the coalition, the Prussians advanced from Wartenburg, the Austrians and Russians from Dresden, and the Swedes from the north.
THE ARMIES GATHER The battle marked the culmination of the autumn campaign of 1813 and involved over 600,000 soldiers, making it the largest battle in Europe prior to World War I, and also the largest cavalry battle in history (at Liebertwolkwitz on 15 October). Napoleon had somehow managed to raise an army of around 160,000 supported by 700 guns. In addition to the French force, there was also a truly multinational contingent comprised of 15,000 Poles, 10,000 Italians, and 40,000 Germans belonging to the Confederation of the Rhine, which brought Napoleons’ army up to 225,000 troops. The coalition, in contrast, was able to field a mighty force of 380,000 men, supported by 1,500 guns. This consisted of 145,000 Russians, 110,000 Austrians and Hungarians, 90,000 Prussians, and 30,000 Swedes. Although the Kingdom of Bavaria had changed sides and was now firmly attached to the coalition, it did not manage to send a contingent.
A VERY BLOODY BATTLE There isn’t the space, even in half-adozen issues of WS&S, to describe the battle in detail. For that, we’d recommend a good book. Peter Hofschröer’s volume on Leipgiz 1813 in Osprey’s Campaign series gives a good summary, while Digby Smith’s book 1813 Leipzig. Napoleon and the Battle of the Nations (2001) gives an excellent in-depth account of the numerous engagements and the overall tactical situation, day by day.
Tsar Alexander I of Russia.
© Georgie Harman
historical allies Russia, Prussia, Austria, Sweden, Great Britain, Spain,
Suffice to say that, after three days of heavy fighting, the Battle of Leipzig proved to be the bloodiest in the Napoleonic Wars; casualties on both sides are estimated to be in the region of 80,000110,000 killed, wounded or missing. For Napoleon especially, the losses were disastrous: 45,000 killed and wounded, with a further 15,000 able-bodied and 21,000 wounded or sick being captured, together with 325 cannon and 28 eagles, standards or colours. Critically, amongst the dead was Marshal Józef Antoni Poniatowski, a nephew of the last king of Poland, Stanisław August Poniatowski, who played the key role in keeping Poland on Napoleon’s side. The Pole, who had received his marshal’s baton just the previous day, commanded the rear guard during the French retreat, and drowned as he attempted to swim across a river to safety after the premature blowing of the main bridge. Furthermore, Corps commanders Lauriston and Reynier were captured, and fifteen French generals were killed and 51 wounded. Out of a total force of 380,000 fielded, the coalition suffered approximately 54,000 casualties: Schwarzenberg’s Army of Bohemia lost in the region of 34,000 and Blücher’s Army of Silesia 12,000, while Bernadotte’s Army of the
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© Total Battle Miniatures
ure ranges. This meant that, between us, we could put 2600 figures on the table. As we all wanted to use our toys, this proved to be vitally important: what’s the point of collecting and painting all these marvellous figures, if you don’t get to use them? As to the battle area itself, I possess a conservatory-cum-greenhouse, in which I can comfortably put a 12’ x 6’ layout. However, could we make it work?
The French retreat through a 6mm-sized Leipzig. North and Bennigsen’s Army of Poland both lost in the region of 4000. The huge number of casualties the coalition army suffered made it impossible for them to pursue the retreating French, thereby leading to the continuation of the war into 1814.
THE END GAME The defeat at Leipzig ended Napoleon’s presence east of the Rhine and brought about the defection of the German states to the coalition. It also dealt a harsh blow to Napoleon personally, as he suffered his first decisive defeat, as well as the loss of more of his best troops. The French were forced to retreat back to France, in order to muster a defence against the coalition forces. With the Kingdom of Italy abolished, Poland overrun, and the German states of the Confederation of the Rhine defecting to the coalition cause, the coalition was able to press its advantage and invaded France in early 1814. Napoleon was forced to abdicate and accept exile on the island of Elba – until he decided on a little holiday in 1815, but that’s for another day.
EVERY NAPOLEONIC GAMERʼS DREAM Refighting Leipzig must be every Napoleonic wargamer’s dream: lots of different armies, lots of colour, and lots of fighting. Superb! However, can it re-
ally be done by a small group of players, who want, basically to have fun? The answer, if you are going to attempt a totally accurate refight, must be, sadly, a resounding “No”. Especially if your models are 28mm and space is limited. Even the largest 6mm tables and collections would struggle with the sheer size of the battle. However, there are ways. Leipzig is not a single battle, but more than a dozen linked encounters fought over separate days. So choose an engagement you like and give it a try. Or fight a series of linked battles, where the conclusion of one battle will affect the scenario for the next. As an alternative, you can fight an ‘allegorical Leipzig’ as one big battle, pooling together a club’s collection of French, Austrians, Prussians and Russians, and sticking them all on the table.
LEIPZIG 1813 IN NOTTINGHAM 2013 We chose Leipzig as the basis of our game, as it was coming up to the 200th anniversary of the battle. It’s one of the few battles where you can put figures on the table to represent a rainbow of nations, in diverse uniforms, accurately and at the same time. Furthermore, I am very fortunate, as I possess in the region of 2000 28mm Foundry, Perry, Victrix, Murawski, and Calpe figures, all painted by me! Additionally, two friends of mine have growing collections of similar fig-
As primarily gamers who are interested in the visual aspects of the hobby (meaning that we like nicely painted toys on nice terrain), and who like to have fun (meaning lots of booze, bad jokes, and banter), there was no way we could refight the whole battle in a single day. The challenge was to develop a way of simulating the battle, finding justifications (to ourselves) for fielding armies that matched the available figures, and making sure that we had a bloody good time, as well. Based on reading and research, we decided to stage a (slightly fictional) largescale French counterattack, as actually occurred on 16 October. This would allow us to field all the forces we possessed and still feel that this was Leipzig. I know this may seem an anathema to many, but it sort of fitted ... and it made us happy, so where’s the harm? The scenario and our playthrough can be found on the WS&S website (www. wssmagazine.com/leipzig). There you can find out if Napoleon achieved his breakthrough, breaking the back of the Allies, or was thwarted, as he was historically.
CONCLUSION There is no doubt that our Leipzig was not a simulation, and some would argue that it wasn’t even a refight. But, to us, it was a great success. It felt like we were recreating Leipzig, we got to play with our toys, and, most importantly, we had a great time. The visual effect was terrific, and it made all those hours of collecting and painting worthwhile.
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By Kawe Weissi-Zadeh
General Reynier at Grossbeeren
WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE OF BERLIN Planning a wargame based on historical events provides countless challenges. We have focussed on the Battle of Grossbeeren itself, with an Order of Battle based on the work of George Nafziger, featuring the Corps of Reynier and Bülow. We’ll also have a quick look at the approach of Oudinot’s army towards Berlin and the many smaller engagements that ensued prior to the Battle of Grossbeeren.
n August 1813, the armistice was over and Napoleon faced the indecisive Prince Bernadotte with his Army of the North (consisting of Russian, Swedish and Prussian forces). In order to decapitate and demoralize the rebellious Prussia, their capital would have to fall to the French. Marshal Nicolas Charles Oudinot was given command of the newly assembled ‘Army of Berlin’, with the able corps commanders Bertrand and Reynier. Napoleon’s orders to his commanders were to break through the centre of the Army of the North and take Berlin. Meanwhile, he would personally aim to engage Blucher’s Army of Silesia. Prince Bernadotte’s orders were purely defensive. The Prussian General Bülow, however, insisted on defending Berlin, and the Prince unwillingly agreed with this more aggressive stance. The plan was to block the French advance with a series of defences at natural defiles.
Massed French guns at Grossbeeren.
18 August The assembly of Napoleon’s Army of Berlin at the south-Brandenburg town of Baruth was complete. Initially advancing to Luckenwalde, the town proved too well defended and the river was flooded, so Oudinot delayed, resting on the 20th before marching towards Trebbin.
21 August Trebbin: Oudinot’s 12th Corps saw fighting at this village, where the 4th East Prussian Infanterie-regiment and two companies from the 5th Reserve regiment were defending this hard to access and redoubt-protected village. The French assaulted with their full force at 1pm, but the attacks were repulsed by the well-prepared defenders. The Prussians retreated after several hours of stiff resistance and in good order when Oudinot finally sent two brigades to the east to outflank the village. Nunsdorf: Reynier’s Saxon ‘Von Sahr’ Division engaged the 4th battalion of the 5th Reserve-regiment around Nunsdorf. The Prussians defended the crossings through the marsh and only the massive fire of the 12-Pounder gun batteries, which set several houses on fire, followed by a strong infantry advance, finally led to another orderly retreat by the Prussians. Mellen: Bertrand’s 4th Corps met with 300 men in two companies of the Pomeranian infantry regiment. The Prussians had barricaded the only bridge crossing the Orlebach River at Mellen. The initial attacks from the Division Fontanelli were easily repulsed. Bertrand intensified his attacks when Reynier’s neighbouring corps finally
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sian infantry and skirmishers. The only other line of advance was a 1km-long dam that the Prussians were guarding with two guns. Reynier gave the order to cross the dam, only after WendischWilmersdorf was clear. The advancing columns broke twice in a hail of grape-shot trying to cross the dam, but the Voltigeurs of the Division were sent through the swamp to outflank and engage the gun crews.
Campaign map. advanced. The Prussians retreated after 6 hours with just 4 dead and 26 wounded. 22 August Wendisch-Wilmersdorf: Realizing how well-prepared the positions of the six companies of the 5th Reserve regiment were, Oudinot started a bombardment that lasted until 5pm. The Prussians held their shooting until the last minute and then retired from their redoubt over the bridge. Wietstock: Durutte’s Division attempted to clear this fortified village of Prus-
The Prussian commander Von Oppen ordered the guns to retire 100m, which gave the three French battalions enough time to cross the dam. Meanwhile, reinforcements arrived in the form of four Landwehr cavalry squadrons with two attached horse artillery guns. Major von Vedell was ordered to lead his inexperienced Landwehr cavalry to throw the French into the water, but the charge failed miserably as the disciplined French formed square. The French had outflanked the Prussians, forcing their withdrawal. Von Oppen is said to have exclaimed that this was the worst day of his life. Jühnsdorf: General von Tauentzien underestimated the importance of the Pass of Juehnsdorf, leaving Major Hiler
with only two guns, two battalions and a single cavalry squadron to defend it. The French attack on this position was well co-ordinated and was so fast that the Prussians barely had time to retire. Von Tauentzien attempted to reinforce Jühnsdorf with five battalions, four squadrons and two guns. A counterattack by the Second Neumark Landwehr
FIGHTING RETREAT The advance of the Army of Berlin makes for several excellent scenarios, from skirmishes to smaller battles, typically involving a smaller Prussian force holding defences at a village or bridge and then withdrawing, having delayed the French for several hours. Victory conditions should be adjusted to allow the Prussian player a minor victory for both delaying the French and retiring in good order. The fight at Wietstock is particularly interesting (read: hard!): storming a well-defended dam, facing artillery and enemy infantry with cavalry reinforcements!
6mm French encountering equally diminutive Prussians.
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THEME Prussian infantry in 15mm, from the collection of Kev Lowth. around 6pm retook the village for a time, but Von Tauentzien ordered a retreat, given the strong French pressure and being uncertain of his enemy’s numbers. Blankenfelde: The first attacks by Bertrand’s corps, with 17,000 infantry, 700 Württemberg cavalry, and 48 guns, was made against Tauentzien’s Landwehr corps, with its 17 battalions, 12 cavalry squadrons and 32 guns, totalling some 13,000 men. The Prussian positions were excellent, because Blankenfelde was surrounded by impassable swamps on both sides. The only access was a dam that was about 600m wide. The battle started at around 8am, when skirmishers met in the woods. The battle intensified around 10am, when Bertrand threw Martel’s Brigade into the battle. Soon the Prussians in the wood under Major von Crailsheim were pushed back, when finally the Brigade Moroni joined the fight and applied even more pressure on the skirmishers. The Italians reached the border of the wood and were preparing to attack the
left Prussian flank with six guns, but were soon driven back by the intense fire of the Prussian artillery. General Martel was killed when he tried to lead his troops forward again. Fighting ceased around 2pm. Bertrand didn’t renew his efforts; not even when the guns at Grossbeeren started to shoot later that day.
GROSSBEEREN Reynier left Wietstock around 2pm, marching towards Grossbeeren. It had been raining since the early hours, but the corps were in good spirits. Division von Sahr was the leading element and reached the outskirts south of Grossbeeren around 4.15pm. At this point, Grossbeeren was occupied by four battalions, four squadrons, and four guns on the mill-hill under the command of Major von Sandrart of the Leib-Husaren. Reynier ordered General Sahrer von Sahr to take the village, sending his Grenadier Battalion ‘von Sperl’ in open formation with the entire 2nd Division developing behind it. Soon the Prussians were opposed by 14 guns and two Divisions. The rain was making
VON SAHR ATTACKS The French attack on Grossbeeren could be played out as the 25th Division advancing towards the village with the 3rd East Prussian Landwehr, 1st LeibHussaren, 1 gun and two units from the reserve cavalry defending. Rain should be a major factor, preventing musketry. The risk of rain should start in the second turn. Determine by rolling a D6 (starting on a 4+ on turn 2, a 3+ on turn three, and so on). To see if the rain stops, start to roll on the turn after it starts; it stops on a 6+, decreasing by one each subsequent turn.
the muskets useless and the first Saxon Grenadiers advanced, followed by two more battalions of musketeers. Von Sandrart realized that the position couldn’t be maintained and ordered a retreat with the guns halting and shooting several times.
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French Commander Comte lean-Louis-Ebenezer Reynier. A very capable soldier who was engineer by trade but he never made it into the higher Echelons of the empire even though his record was impressive. He lead his Corps since Russia and his Saxons appreciated him as an excellent and caring commander. Lecoq 24th DIVISION (1st Saxon) Von Lecoq Light Infantry
12 Ofﬁcers 14 Ofﬁcers
604 Men 604 Men
1st Battalion Prinz Maximillian
2ns Battalion von Rechten
1st Jager Company
Von Spiegel Grenadiers
Prinz Friedrich August Regiment
9 Ofﬁcers 9 Ofﬁcers
369 Men 462 Men
Von Steindel Regiment
16 Ofﬁcers 15 Ofﬁcers
575 Men 546 Men
1st Saxon Foot Battery 2nd Saxon Foot Battery
12x 6Pdr. 4x 8Pdr. How.
109 Men 109 Men
1 Gun 1 Howitzer
Lieutenant General Sahr 25th DIVISION (2nd Saxon) Von Sahr Light Infantry
14 Ofﬁcers 10 Ofﬁcers
598 Men 545 Men
Von Sperl Grenadiers
1st Battalion König
1st Battalion Niesemeuschel
Prinz Anton Regiment
13 Ofﬁcers 12 Ofﬁcers
541 Men 520 Men
Von Löew Regiment
12 Ofﬁcers 11 Ofﬁcers
547 Men 519 Men
12x 6Pdr. 4x 8Pdr. How.
104 Men 173 Men
3rd Battalion, 133rd Line 4th Battalion, 133rd Line
22 Ofﬁcers 24 Ofﬁcers
622 Men 689 Men
2nd Line 2nd Line
2nd Battalion, Würzburg Regiment 3rd Battalion, Würzburg Regiment
25 Ofﬁcers 22 Ofﬁcers
537 Men 541 Men
1st Batallion, 136th Légère 4th Battalion, 136th Légère
15 Ofﬁcer 21 Ofﬁcers
896 Men 744 Men
3rd Battalion, 131st Line 4th Battalion, 131st Line
20 Ofﬁcers 18 Ofﬁcers
762 Men 774 Men
2nd Line 2nd Line
12x 6Pdr. 4x 8Pdr. How.
91 Men 87 Men
3rd Saxon Foot Battery Général de division Durutte 32nd DIVISION
Foot Battery 6Pdr. Foot Battery 6Pdr.
Major General von Gablenz 26th CAVALRY BRIGADE Saxon Hussar Regiment
Chevaux Legere Ulhans
172 Men 172 Men
6x 12Pdr. 2x 8Pdr. How.
1 Large Gun 1 Howitzer
Horse Battery Reserve Artillery Brigade Rouvroy Saxon Artillery
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Prussian Commander Freiherr Friedrich Wilhelm von Bülow. A man of small statue and a ﬁne example of the new Prussian generals. Well known for never losing a battle as well as being outrageously straight with Prince Bernadotte and generally everybody unlucky enough to have him under his command. Major General Hesse-Homburg 3rd BRIGADE 2nd East Prussian Regiment + 2 Jager Coys.
2397 Men 3 Battalions
4th Reserve Regiment + 2 Jager Coys.
2127 Men 3 Battalions
2nd East Prussian Grenadiers
2397 Men 3 Battalions
3rd East Prussian Regiment Landwehr
Unknown 3 Battalions
1st Leib ‘Deaths Head’ Hussars + Jager Coy.
Foot Battery Major General Thumen 4th BRIGADE 4th East Prussian Regiment
2481 Men 4 Battalions
1686 Men 2 Battalions
East Prussian Jäger
5th Reserve Regiment
2825 Men 4 Battalions
Pomeranian National Cavalry
1 Small Regiment
Pommeranian Grenadier Batallion
1st Pommeranian Regiment
2622 Men 4 Battalions
2nd Reserve Regiment
2150 Men 3 Battalions
West Prussian Ulhans
1 Small Battalion
Major General Borstell 5th BRIGADE
Foot Battery Major General Krafft 6th BRIGADE Colberg Infantry Regiment + 2 Jager Coys.
2627 Men 3 Battalions
9th Reserve Regiment
2210 Men 3 Battalions
1st Neumark Regiment Landwehr
2730 Men 4 Battalions
1st Pommeranian Landwehr Cavalry
1 Small Regiment
4th Kurnark Landwehr
1 Small Regiment
2nd Kurmark Landwehr
1 Small Regiment
Foot Battery Major General Oppen RESERVE CAVALRY
Lieutenant Colonel Holtzendorf (RESERVE ARTILLERY) Horse Battery
1 Large Guns
2 Large Guns
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My suggestion would be to start the battle right after the Prussian guns deployed in front and started their artillery bombardment. While the Prussians have the superior forces, they are in column, stacked one behind the other. Can the French hold the line (potentially allowing French reinforcements to join the fight)? Or can the Prussians break through, forcing a French retreat?
Everything seemed calm at around 5pm and Reynier commanded his troops to start to camp. The Division Sahr settled in west of Grossbeeren. Oberst Bose warned Reynier of his concerns that the main Prussian force had yet to be discovered. Reynier dismissed him, saying “Ils ne viendront pas” (“They won’t come”). Meanwhile, von Boyen, Bülow’s Chief of Staff, riding on reconnaissance, realized the opportunity of a combined attack on Grossbeeren, so he dashed back to meet Bülow, not far behind. Orders for a combined attack were dispatched to the commanders. Reynier was still overseeing his forces on the left flank when he suddenly heard drums and horn-signals from the north. The Prussians were deploying their force around 6pm, covered from sight by the bad weather conditions.
PLAYING GROSSBEEREN As there are countless different rule systems and scales, we’ve chosen a rather generic approach that can be easily converted to any rule set. To this end, we’ve provided the numbers of troops and how this translates into ‘battalions’, the basic building block for a number of games, along with an idea of their quality. The map shows how to set them up. The terrain features are of importance for the many different types of games
that can be hosted using the Battle of Grossbeeren as the historical background. Our Grossbeeren table uses a rough ground-scale of 1” equals 25m. This works pretty well for most systems and leaves you with a manageable table size. The slope of the mill is rather gentle. Vegetation is sparse, but copses of trees can be inserted to allow for some variety. Grossbeeren has several exits and consists of about 40 loosely connected buildings; there is a church with a rather well-known cemetery close to the northern exit. The streets should be designed so that a battalion can pass through, as historically several were fighting in the village. Swollen with rain, the stream is impassable except by the bridges. The Prussians in their later uniforms are a major player in the game and are well covered by the various major manufacturers. The same goes for the French of the Division Durutte. The gallant Saxons are a challenge, with their white uniforms and unique artillery systems. We used the new Saxons from our own Westfalia Miniatures range and some French miniatures from the Perrys painted as Saxons (which works well enough for game-hungry folks like us). The Württemberg Regiment as well as the Swedish Horse Artillery are still black spots on the map of Napoleonic pleasures.
Another idea would be to play a section of the battle. The Hesse Homburg assault versus Von Sahr with a focus on the mill hill would be a good scenario. This will always work out pretty quickly and often ends with a Saxon victory, unless you include factors that reflect the Prussians’ attack on the village. Obviously, this choice leaves you with the joy of a prolonged artillery duel, which has the charm of a ‘tower defence game’. Borstell and Krafft’s attack on Grossbeeren are also engagements worth playing, however often the attackers end up glued to the village. The march of Oudinot’s army towards Berlin is full of episodes that are worth being played. But, to me, the most catchy one would be the close combat between the legendary Colberg Regiment and the Saxon Grenadier-battalion von Sperl on the cemetery, right in front of the old church, which Knoetel gives such a colourful account of. Imagine two skirmishing forces battling it out between the gravestones. I hope you enjoyed the read and found the information provided useful. Now go and play some Grossbeeren games! The author would like thank Michael Bartling for providing historical guidance and the brilliant photos from Bernhard and friends. He also recommends the liberal application of alcohol in all games!
Our thanks to Westfalia Miniatures, Baccus 6mm and Total Battle Miniatures.
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By Guy Bowers
The crossings at Dölitz and Markkleeberg
HOLDING THE LINE AT LEIPZIG Leipzig was the greatest Napoleonic battle, involving over 600,000 troops in total. It is where Napoleon’s ambitions for an Imperial France were truly shattered and where ‘la Grande Armée’ was finally defeated. The army of the hundred days campaign was a shadow of its former self, thanks to the defeats it suffered in Germany.
In this article, we’ll examine the engagements that occurred at the crossings of the river Pleisse, situated on the right of Napoleon’s southern flank, with a specific focus on the fights around the manors of Dölitz and Markkleeberg on the 16th October 1813. Both provide interesting scenarios for both small- and larger-scale battles. The terrain around Leipzig has changed significantly since 1813. We’ve based our article on maps from this period, but also simplified things slightly to keep everything ‘friendly’ for wargaming.
CROSSING THE PLEISSE The river Pleisse runs southwards past Markkleeberg, Dölitz, Lössnig and Connewitz, passing west of Leipzig before joining the Weisse Elster. It was to prove a significant barrier to the attacking Allied forces. The terrain around the rivers was light woodland with flooded pastures and swampland. It had rained on the days previous, swelling the river beyond its natural banks. Napoleon had personally inspected the defences along the Pleisse on the 15th of October. He ordered all the bridges except the one at Dölitz Manor smashed, which was to be occupied by a vanguard of the Polish forces. Across the river in the swampland between the Pleisse and Elster rivers lay the
he Battle of the Nations can be played at several levels: from the grand scale, with thousands of miniatures a side, down to the skirmishes that occurred in the towns, villages, and countryside near Leipzig. The Austrians’ relentless advance. Meerveldt’s Austrian II Corps, consisting of some 28,000 Austrians. The ground between the two sides was totally unsuitable for cavalry and had only narrow lanes for any infantry to move, which significantly hampered the advance of any artillery or reinforcements. The terrain effectively hemmed in the Austrians, with reinforcements moving very slowly along the narrow roads. These in turn would soon be packed with the wounded. Facing them were some 5000 Polish troops of Poniatowski’s VIII Corps. He had been ordered to hold the crossings at all costs.
two bridges. As they approached the outskirts of the town, a murderous hail of fire met the soldiers of the Bellegarde Regiment. The Austrians soon fell back with 200 casualties (including five officers). The Wenzel Collorendo Regiment then attempted to assault but fared even worse, as its ranks were filled with conscripts. Connewitz was simply too well defended for any headway to be made. The Austrians found the river at Lössnig (a mile south of Connewitz) was too swollen to attempt a crossing. This left
On the dawn of the 16th, the Austrians launched simultaneous attacks as they tried to cross the Pleisse.
As Connewitz is a bit of a ‘turkey shoot’, it doesn’t necessarily make for good gaming. Despite their overwhelming numbers, the Austrians had to march along a single road against well prepared defences. There is a good map of Connewitz from 1879 on the German Wikipedia site: http://de.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Connewitz The Austrians would repeat the suicidal action on the 18th, this time dragging artillery over the corpses of the soldiers who fell on the 16th.
CONNEWITZ AND LÖSSNIG Downstream at Connewitz, there were two bridges. The first had been demolished and the second next to the village was heavily barricaded. The Austrians had two regiments, the Bellegarde Nr 44 and the Wenzel Collorendo Nr 56 following behind. Opposing them were soldiers of Lefol’s March Division (4½ Brigades and 6 guns). The Austrians repaired the first bridge and advanced across the four hundred metres of open ground between the
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mill house and nearby buildings. The French attempted to storm the Gatehouse in the evening but were driven back by grapeshot and musketry. The battle on the 16th ended in stalemate with the Austrians occupying the Manor but making no serious attempt to cross the Pleisse there.
Austrians skirmish around Dölitz. the two crossing points at the manors of Dölitz and Markkleeberg.
DÖLITZ The Manor at Dölitz consisted of the main house and a U-shaped courtyard made up of outbuildings and barns, through the middle of which ran the ‘mill race’. The bridge over the mill race was in the middle of the open courtyard. A second was located outside the gatehouse leading to Dölitz. All the
The map of Dölitz and Markkleeberg.
bridges were intact. The Manor’s buildings were barricaded and guarded by a small garrison of Polish troops. The Austrians sent in two companies of the 1st Battalion, Regiment Strauch Nr 24, under Captain Petzler. They attacked from the west and soon drove the Poles from the Manor. The Austrians attempted to destroy the gatehouse bridge, but not before a Polish counterattack retook the gatehouse. Austrian reinforcements then arrived under regiment commander Oberst Reisenfels. He personally led his men in the recapture of the gatehouse, but was killed in the process. The Poles occupied the mill house to the north of the manor and the buildings in Dölitz across the Pleisse, inflicting more casualties on the Austrian defenders. Polish artillery was brought up and started battering the gatehouse (the cannonballs can still be seen today stuck in the walls). Meanwhile the Austrians were running low on supplies of gunpowder. This impasse continued until reinforcements in the form of three companies from Regiment Kaunitz Nr 20 came up and replaced the companies of Strauch. With the final arrival of artillery in the mid afternoon, the Poles were forced to withdraw from the
MARKKLEEBERG The defence of Markkleeberg was vital for the French resistance in that area. Directly to the west of the town were the heights of Kellerberg, a line of hills which stretched to Wachau. Here the French deployed their artillery. This superior position allowed them to outrange the allies. Having dismantled the three bridges across the Pleisse at Markkleeberg, Poniatowski’s troops must have considered this area safe. They did not leave a garrison in the Manor, nor did they post sentries at the bridges, possibly because they were distracted by the approach of Kleist’s Prussians from the south. This allowed two companies of the 1st Battalion of Regiment Kaunitz Nr 20, commanded by Oberst Lurem, to occupy the complex. While Lurem moved off, Oberleutnants Hoffmann and Weissvogel of the 2nd Battalion ordered the repair of the nearby bridge, and crossed to the schoolhouse on the opposite bank with a single company. They then ejected some Polish troops who were garrisoned there and set the building on fire in the ensuing engagement. This bold manoeuvre could have potentially outflanked the Poles holding the town itself, but practically speaking, the Austrians lacked the reinforcements or the leadership to make good on such a move. General de Brigade Antonie Aylmard was dispatched with his four battalions (The 34th and 35th Provisional Regiments, approx 1250 men) with orders to retake the manor. In a fierce fight for the schoolhouse, the Austrian advance guard retreated into the manor. At this point, Oberst Volny of the Regiment Strauch Nr 24 arrived to coordinate the defenders against Aylmand’s attack. The French broke into the manor, but despite their initial numerical superiority, the increasing numbers of Austrian reinforcements became too much and
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they were forced back over the river. Still, the Austrians paid a heavy price for this small victory, as many men were killed or wounded. Most of their officers lay dead. Major Volny was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Maria Theresa for his gallant efforts in coordinating the defence. Meanwhile, the town of Markkleeberg was being bitterly contested by the Polish 26th Division (including the Vistula Legion) and Prussian forces under Von Kleist. The town changed hands several times during the day, with the Prussians finally gaining a foothold in the southern half. This impasse remained until the late afternoon, when Austrian reinforcement regiments Hiller Nr 2 (2 Brigades) and Collorendo-Mansfield Nr 33 (2 Brigades) under Feldmarschalleutnant Bianchi advanced up behind the Prussians, having crossed the Pleisse at a ford upstream to the south. They attacked and broke the Polish defence.
Polish forces march to reinforce Dölitz.
AUSTRIAN REINFORCEMENTS Roll 1 2 3 4 5 6
Unit Type Austrian Levy Austrian Levy Austrian Line Austrian Line Austrian Line + Officer Manhandled 6Pdr Gun
Quality Raw Raw Regular Regular Regular + Officer Regular
With the fall of Markkleeberg on the evening of the 16th, the Allies forced the French artillery to withdraw from the heights and were able to renew their attack on Dölitz on the 18th from the direction of Markkleeberg. Once Dölitz fell, they marched to Lössnig where the Polish put up fierce resistance in the manor there, before falling back to Connewitz. Connewitz itself was finally captured in the evening. The Allied attempt to cross the river Pleisse had been badly coordinated and hampered by very poor terrain and stiff enemy resistance. It had however finally succeeded at Markkleeberg, and in so
Roll Unit Type Quality 1 Polish Line Veteran 2 Polish Line Regular 3 Polish Line Regular 4 Polish Line Veteran 5 Polish Line + Officer Veteran + Officer 6 6Pdr Gun Regular If the Polish have not received their gun by turn 5, they may add +1 to all rolls on the reinforcement table.
© Westfalia Miniatures
doing, turned Napoleon’s right southern flank. This and other setbacks forced the French to withdraw to Leipzig itself. The resistance of the Polish and French reinforcements had been fierce; they
fought a rearguard action all the way into the outskirts of town, but ultimately, the sheer number of enemies took its toll. By the end of the 18th, Polish troop numbers had fallen to some 2700 men. They lost another thousand on the 19th, some of which tried to swim the river when the Elster bridge was demolished too early. Prince Poniatowski was among the fallen, drowning while attempting to cross. Only 600 men from the Polish VIII Corps surrendered to the Allies.
GAMING DÖLITZ AND MARKKLEEBERG
The vicious fire fight for control of Markkleeberg.
The battles for Dölitz and Markkleeberg occurred simultaneously. They could be played out as individual scenarios down to the skirmish level or as one large game on a big board.
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Dölitz The initial forces for this battle consist of three companies of Austrian regulars (led by a captain), versus one company of Polish veterans (led by a captain), with one Polish company in the town of Dölitz. This scenario can be easily adapted to Sharp Practice, Black Powder or any rule set of your choice. The Polish are desperately short of men, so they must roll for reserves on every odd numbered turn. The Austrians roll for reserves every turn: manpower is plentiful, but their troop quality is less. Roll to see what unit is available and place it just off-table in a ‘reserves box’, ready to enter. Austrian reserves have great difficulty arriving, as they must cross narrow lanes and swampland. Therefore, they enter on a 5+. The Polish reserves have access to good roads and supply lines, so they enter on a 3+. Roll for each unit in the ‘reserves box’ every turn following its arrival. The scenario is designed to run for 12 turns. Victory is determined by who
holds both sides of the crossing over the Pleisse. The Austrians must be advancing into Dolitz for a complete victory, while the Polish have to be holding on to at least part of the Manor. Historically, neither side controlled the river crossing, and the conflict ended in a stalemate. If your chosen rule set is particularly fast to play, you may wish to halve the turns to six and increase the number of reinforcements (two per turn for the Austrians and one per turn for the Polish). For Black Powder, treat each company as a standard sized unit and ignore Brigade morale unless every unit is shaken or destroyed. Markkleeberg Manor The battle at Markkleeberg involved two separate engagements, the fight for the town and the fight for the Manor. These may be played as separate conflicts or as one large battle. Historically, the Austrians and Prussians never met until the evening when Bianchi’s reinforcements turned up. The Austrians at the Manor start with three companies, having just finished repairing the bridge to the schoolhouse. The Poles start with a single reduced company in the schoolhouse. Their reserves arrive on turn three and consist
PRUSSIAN REINFORCEMENTS Roll Unit Type Quality 1 Prussian Levy Raw 2 Prussian Line Regular 3 Prussian Line Regular 4 Prussian Line Regular 5 Prussian Line + Officer Regular + Officer 6 6Pdr Gun Regular A second gun result may be exchanged for a suitable unit of Prussian Cavalry.
POLISH REINFORCEMENTS Roll Unit Type Quality 1 Polish Line Regular 2 Polish Line Regular 3 Polish Line Regular 4 Polish Line Veteran 5 Polish Line + Officer Veteran + Officer 6 6Pdr Gun Regular A second gun result may be exchanged for a unit of suitable Polish Cavalry.
© Murawski Miniatures
The advance parties of the Austrian Battalions at Connewitz, Dölitz and Markkleeberg seem to have been equipped with bridging equipment. While not sufficient to cross the swollen Pleisse river, they were certainly able to repair any broken bridges.
Cannons ready to fire! of Aylmard’s Demi-Brigades (eight companies). The Austrians may roll for reserves on turn three, using the table from the Dölitz scenario. They gain reinforcements on a 3+ and the units arrive on a 5+. Again, as with Dölitz, victory is determined by who controls the crossing at the end of the battle (typically 12 turns). As an additional bonus, if the Austrians roll a second cannon result for their reserves, they may instead take a squadron of Cossacks. Markkleeburg town The Prussians start just outside of musket range with eight companies. The Polish initially hold the south of the town with three companies and one gun. The guns on the Kellerberg can target any Prussians outside of town to the east. This counts as two long-range cannon shots per turn. Troops inside the town cannot be targeted. Each side may roll for reinforcements on their turn: Both sides’ reinforcements go into their ‘reserves box’, ready to enter the table. Both the Prussian and Polish reserves enter on a 4+. Roll for each unit in the reserve ‘box’ every turn following its arrival. Victory is determined by who controls the greater part of the town at the end of 12 turns. The author visited the Torhaus (Gatehouse) at Dölitz on a recent visit to Leipzig while he was attending the Wave Gotik Treffen in May 2013.
Our thanks to Baccus 6mm, Calpe, Murawski, Victrix, Westfalia and Total Battle Miniatures.
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By Gary Mitchell
Schliecher, a Prussian Sharpe?
MOONLIGHT SONATA As the War of Liberation progresses inconclusively, and an armistice is signed at Pleischwitz, it is the Russian and Prussian allies who have more to gain than the French. With each day’s delay, Austria’s entry to the war on their side – subsidized by British gold – becomes more likely. Determined to prove the mettle of the reformed Prussian army, and to persuade the Empire to take the plunge, Marshal Blucher hits upon a daring coup … © Georgie Harman
army is a citizen army, based on patriotism – ‘Frenchies go home’, that sort of thing. We need what my ADC Goebbels calls a ‘propaganda coup’ to inspire.” “Beethoven!” Blucher summarized the mission in a word. “The composer?” Von Schliecher’s mind raced; he recalled how his daughter Helga avidly collected all of the composer’s sheet music for her piano.
Ludwig van Beethoven
ur hero is Hauptmann Hans von Schliecher, a veteran of both the 1806 debacle, the defiant defence of Colberg and the Russian campaign. In the company of his loyal Garde-Jäger battalion, he’d expected to sit out the armistice in a safe billet with plenty of beer. Sadly, it was not to be. “Herr Marshal!” He clicked his heels in traditional salute, as he was shown into Blucher’s tent. “At ease”, the old warrior grunted. “You know General Scharnhorst?” “Jawohl!” Von Schliecher was certainly familiar with one of the great reformers of the army, recently wounded and apparently ailing. “We have a mission for you”, Scharnhorst grunted. “Top secret. Our new
“Yes, the musician. If he defects to us, the Austrians will be impressed. Join our side. He once admired Napoleon, do you know? Was going to dedicate his ‘Heroica’ symphony to him. Then retracted it, when the Corsican upstart made himself Emperor”. “He’s here”, said Scharnhorst bluntly, handing over a carefully drawn map. “Bring him out alive. We want him making his pretty tunes for our side”. “Sir!” Von Schliecher saluted and left the tent. He preferred missions where he shot Frenchies, but babysitting a hearing-impaired genius? That was going to be tough …
A SCENARIO FOR PRUSSIANS WITH FRENCH ACCOMPANIMENT Set up your gaming table to have a few buildings and plenty of cover, woods, parked wagons and so forth. It should be about 8 moves wide at its longest, so, if your ‘walk’ move is 6”, no wider than 4’. Dice randomly for the building in which Beethoven is residing. Both players will know this in advance – the
paparazzi engravers, camped outside for an exclusive on Ludwig’s ‘deafness and wine frenzy with dusky teenage houseservant hell’, are a dead giveaway! The French player should have lots of figures off-table, ready to appear. It is dawn, so visibility is good. Prussian Briefing Three days after receiving orders, Von Schliecher and his ‘dirty dozen’ of eleven chosen men find themselves behind French lines in the village of Bratwurst. (To accommodate the diversity in players’ miniature collections, you can use available Prussian infantry, drawn from a variety of regiments, or just Garde-Jäger). It is twilight, breaking dawn. There’s a full moon and the centre of town is occupied by a company of French line infantry. You can almost smell the garlic and fresh croissants. Your mission is simple. Surprise the Französen, get in, ‘rescue’ the famous composer, and get out to safety. You will start at a random table edge unknown to the French and exit from the same place. This gives you two choices: go in with rifles and muskets blazing, or sneak in as stealthily as possible. Give each of the Prussians ‘Hero’ or ‘marksman’ stats, because – whatever rules you use – these guys are elite, burning to gain revenge on the French for Prussia’s past humiliations. They have scars, chew tobacco, like a beer or several, and make improper remarks about serving wenches – that kind of chap. The Jäger will have rifles – longer ranged, slower to load – and the others have
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muskets. (Hey, there’s a British officer in the Peninsula who does this sort of thing all the time …) French Briefing With the armistice in place, nothing exciting is likely to happen in Bratwurst. Nevertheless, guards have been placed to ‘protect’ the local populace, but most of you are sleeping off the effects of a night indulging in vin ordinaire and the local belles du jour. You have four sentries scattered around, and these should be placed before you know the Prussian entry point. Each sentry should move at ‘slow walk speed’ in a patrol pattern, to protect the whole village. Your men on the table all have ‘average’ stats, as rated by the rules you use, or could be 1 x D6 veterans and the rest ‘Marie-Louise’. You may not react to the Prussians’ presence until one of your men sees them; then raise the alarm by firing off a musket. After the alarm is raised, it will take two turns before your men can debouch from buildings – they have to put their trousers on, find their muskets, and so on. There will be 1 x D6 -2 infantry from each – which means that there could be none! To simulate their confusion, they may also not fire on the first turn after leaving a building. However, on the fifth turn after discovering the Prussians, 2 x D6 figures can arrive from a random direction as off-table reinforcements; these will be veterans from the local camp, dispatched by their wily commander who, having survived the retreat from Moscow, has a morbid fear of night Cossacks.
SPECIAL RULES Beethoven is an NPC (non-player character). Because of the great composer’s deafness, he will not react until figures from either side enter his building, and it can be assumed that the French haven’t billeted troops where they will disturb his muse. (“Please turn that piano down, I’m trying to sleep!”) We can safely assume that most paparazzi engravers don’t do mornings, so there will be nobody about. The great composer will move at ‘walk speed’ with whichever side has an armed figure adjacent. He cannot move faster. If there is a mêlée around him, he will ‘hit the dirt’ and try
Form line! For the glory of Prussia! not to get involved. Neither side will want to harm him. This is the ideal scenario for an umpire who can maintain the ‘fog of war’ while introducing random elements to keep the game flowing. The card system favoured by many designers would work well here, so I’ve included texts for a set of cards, one to be drawn after each turn.
A reporter from Paris Soir has spotted the Prussian advance and arrives at a random table edge to rouse the French garrison. (Depending on when it is drawn, this card may or may not help the French.) An engraver is sneaking around Beethoven’s billet, trying to sketch some candid preliminary drawings of the great man and his ‘muse’. He will draw the attention of the guards and rouse the garrison. (This may or may not help the French.) If combat has begun, 1 x D6 unarmed civilians debouch from one of the houses. They will move in ‘scatter dice’ directions, blocking line of sight. If combat has begun, Beethoven’s ‘muse’, Mademoiselle Blerot, debouches from his house and gamely blocks the doorway to all comers, muttering excitedly about letting the great man finish his unfinished symphony. On his way to Bratwurst, Von Schliecher has met a group of 1 x D6 Landwehr stragglers and recruited them. They will be rated ‘average’ and have muskets. They now launch an attack from a random direction. Any French within 2’ (60cm) of this will move to repel.
• • •
A group of 1 x D6 French stragglers arrive from a random direction. They will be rated ‘average’ and have muskets. If being moved, Beethoven slows everyone by a quarter-move per turn, as he refuses to leave without his sheet music. If being moved by the Prussians, Beethoven suddenly draws a hidden pistol and sword, and is more than willing to take an active part in his own liberation.
So, that’s the scenario. It should give a different result each time it’s played, and is probably best scheduled as a fun, tongue-in-cheek game.
RULES Any good set of Napoleonic skirmish rules should work for this scenario. Sadly, modesty does not forbid me from recommending my own Space Vixens From Mars - Historical Supplement set. I’ve also seen and enjoyed Sharp Practice from the TooFatLardies stable. R.J. Denning’s Green Jackets is available free on the internet at http://bit.ly/1bWqB9M There is also an online Napoleonic skirmish chat room at games.groups.yahoo. com/group/NapSkirmish, so the rules are out there. Where will brave Hans von Schliecher appear next? The storm clouds gather over Germany as Napoleon invades. Wherever he is, he’s sure to be on the Sharpe end of things! The perfect musical accompaniment to this game is Beethoven’s ‘The Victory of Wellington’. It was composed in 1813. Coincidence? We think not! Schliecher must have succeeded …
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Wargames Illustrated OWG wss68_aug13 def.indd 44ad 2013-02.indd 1
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Laser Cut Buildings, Movement Trays, Bases,Tokens, Templates and Hobby accessories in MDF and Acrylic
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Images © Gary Falkner www.marchattack.co.uk
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By Guy Bowers
Building your force for Leipzig
FIGURES POUR LA GLOIRE! The Battle of the Nations, which occurred at Lepizig in 1813, is fairly unique, as it involved troops from almost every nation which fought in the Napoleonic Wars, thus allowing players to field large collections of French, Russian, Austrian, and Prussian troops … and even some British Congreve rocket troops. In this issue, we have chosen to look at Polish and Prussian forces (when possible), since they are especially approrpriate for this engagement. With so much choice and variety, space prohibits us from covering every manufacturer, so we
HÄT INDUSTRIE 54MM, 28MM & 20MM
are looking at a combination of both well-known and more uncommon ranges. While most ranges reviewed are between 25-28mm (due to availability), we are also including a variety of figures in both smaller and larger scales.
HäT Industrie produces a large range of 1/72 (20mm) and 1/32 (54mm) scale soft plastic military miniatures, as well as 28mm hard plastic figures. Their 1/72 scale Napoleonic range alone runs to nearly 70 packs. The figures are pantographed from a large master figure to a smaller one, so that the detail is retained. Their 28mm figures are slightly slimmer than the Perry plastics. Range: Very good (in 20mm) Historical Accuracy: Good 1/32 scale: 49mm ‘foot to eye’ or 59mm tall 28mm: 27mm ‘foot to eye’ or 33mm tall 1/72 scale: 22mm ‘foot to eye’ or 25mm tall Price: £8.70 for 32 infantry (28mm)
CALPE MINIATURES 25MM
Calpe Miniatures has a very good selection of Prussian infantry, cavalry and artillery, as well as French and Saxon footsloggers. They make several variations for their infantry with alternate heads. Casualty figures are available as well. Range: Very Good (Prussian), Good (French & Saxon) Historical Accuracy: Very Good Size: 27.5mm ‘foot to eye’ or 34mm tall (to top of shako) Price: £6.60 for six infantry
Wargames Foundry has an excellent collection of 25mm Napoleonics, covering the French, Austrian, Russian and Prussian armies. Each range has a comprehensive selection of infantry, artillery and cavalry, with several options for early and late period uniforms. Range: Good / Very Good (French) Historical Accuracy: Good Size: 26mm ‘foot to eye’ or 33mm tall (in shako) Price: £12.00 for eight infantry, six command, or three cavalry
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FRONT RANK 28MM
Front Rank has a comprehensive range of Napoleonics, including some of the lesser knowns present at Leipzig (such as Württemburg, Bavaria and Poland); the only ones missing (so far) are the Prussians. The range includes artillery, cavalry, and casualties.
Range: Very Good Historical Accuracy: Good Size: 27mm ‘foot to eye’ or 33mm tall Price: £1.15 for infantry and £2.95 for cavalry
MURAWSKI MINIATURES 28MM
Murawski specializes in miniatures for the period 1812-14. Their current range covers the Grand Duchy of Warsaw. Fusiliers, Voltigeurs, Grenadiers, artillery and command are all available. Cavalry have recently been added in the form of Polish Ulhans and Krakus troopers. Range: Very Good (Duchy of Warsaw only) Historical Accuracy: Very Good Size: 27.5mm ‘foot to eye’ or 33mm tall Price: £7.50 for six infantry, £9.00 for three cavalry
OFFENSIVE MINIATURES 28MM
Offensive has a range of French and Polish units suitable for Leipzig. The French consist of line infantry, dragoons and guns, while the Polish consist of line and flank infantry plus lancers. Range: Growing Historical Accuracy: Good Size: 27mm ‘foot to eye’ or 33mm tall Price: £8.00 for six miniatures, £40 for 36
OLD GLORY 25MM
Old Glory has a large selection of early and late Napoleonics, including the major powers and some minor nations (Bavarians, Saxons, Württemburgs and Poles). They are one of the few to do a Congreve rocket team for the British. Their miniatures are available through Old Glory UK. Range: Good Historical Accuracy: Fair-Good Size: 27mm ‘foot to eye’ or 32mm tall Price: £24.00 for 30 miniatures
PERRY MINIATURES 28MM
The Perrys have comprehensive ranges of French, Prussians, Austrians and Russians, which all include infantry, artillery and cavalry. Their plastic figures offer good value, and their range of metal limbers and casualties are particularly useful. Range: Comprehensive (for the ranges listed) Historical Accuracy: Very Good Size: 27mm ‘foot to eye’ or 33mm (to top of shako) Price: £6.50 for six infantry, £8 for three cavalry
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The Victrix range of plastic miniatures currently covers French (Line, Old Guard and Middle Guard) and Austrian infantry. (Also British – but, apart from the rocket batteries, they did not fight at Leipzig.) More releases are promised soon, such as their first cavalry units and some French artillery. Range: Good (French & Austrian) Historical Accuracy: Good Size: 28mm ‘foot to eye’ or 33mm tall Price: £21.95 for 56-60 miniatures
For Imperial France, Warlord Games’ range of plastic and metal miniatures covers Polish ‘Vistula’ infantry and French infantry and command. For the allies of the Sixth Coalition, they have Prussian Landwehr and Russian infantry (including Pavlosk Grenadiers), command and cannons. Each uses the separate-head system on the same basic figure. Range: Fair – Growing Historical Accuracy: Good Size: 28mm ‘foot to eye’ or 34.5mm tall Price: £18.00 for 32 miniatures, £5.00 for three command
WESTFALIA MINIATURES 28MM
Westfaliais a new company that specializes in the unusual. Their current miniatures range consists of Saxons and several exotic pieces, including a Prussian medical team, a Cossack sled gun, and a French crane with traineur workers. Future projects include a Napoleonic skiff, and artillery and engineering wagons. Range: Fair – Growing Historical Accuracy: Very Good Size: 28mm ‘foot to eye’ or 33mm tall Price: £12.00 for eight infantry
AB MODELS 15MM/18MM
AB Models has a wide selection of Napoleonics, covering infantry, artillery and cavalry for the early and late periods, and including minor states such as Bavaria, Poland and Saxony. They are available through Fighting 15’s in the UK and Eureka Miniatures in Australia.
Range: Very Good Historical Accuracy: Good Size: 17mm ‘foot to eye’ or 19.5mm tall Price: £5.60 for eight miniatures
BLUE MOON MANUFACTURING 15MM/18MM
Blue Moon has a comprehensive range of French, Austrian, Prussian and Russian figures that are suitable for Leipzig. This includes infantry and artillery; cavalry for the nations has just been released. They are available through Old Glory UK. Range: Good – Expanding Historical Accuracy: Good Size: 18mm ‘foot to eye’ or 20mm tall (Landwehr) Price: $15.00 (£12.00) for 30 foot
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MAGISTER MILITUM 10MM
Magister Militum has a large range of Napoleonics, including the major powers and minor states (Saxony and Poland). Each includes infantry, cavalry and artillery.
Range: Comprehensive Historical Accuracy: Good Size: 11mm ‘foot to eye’ or 13mm tall (in shako) Price: £6.30 for a unit of 36 infantry
Pendraken has a good range of ‘Moscow Campaign’ Napoleonics, ideal for Leipzig, containing various types of infantry, cavalry and artillery. These cover the major powers with some Polish and Württemburgers mixed in.
Range: Good Historical Accuracy: Good Size: 10mm ‘foot to eye’ or 12mm tall (in shako) Price: £4.00 for 30 infantry, 15 cavalry, or 4 guns
Baccus’ Napoleonic range contains packs for all the major powers (France, Prussia, Austria and Russia), with ranges covering infantry, artillery, and cavalry units. The Duchy of Warsaw, Bavaria and Württemburg are all included. Baccus also have their own set of rules, General De Division. Range: Fair – Good Historical Accuracy: Good Size: 6mm Price: £6.00 for 96 infantry
ODDZIAL OSMY 3MM
Oddzial Osmy is a Polish company specializing in 3mm (1/600 scale) and 15mm. Their range provides generic troops (with variants in shako, helmet, and bearskin) and several types of cavalry (Dragoons, Hussars, etc.). The detail is remarkable given their size. They are available through Fighting 15’s in the UK and Eureka Miniatures in Australia. Range: Fair – Expanding Historical Accuracy: Good Size: 3mm! Price: £3.00 for a 15 strips of 10 infantry
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By Stephen May
Painting our very Prussian front cover
I AM A PRUSSIAN, DO YOU KNOW MY COLOURS? Das Preussenlied, the Prussian national anthem of 1830, starts with the phrase, “Ich bin ein Preusse, kennt ihr meine Farben?” (or “I am a Prussian, do you know my colours?”), an apt title for our front cover article on painting a Prussian diorama. The song continues, “The flag floats black and white before me, that for freedom’s sake my fathers died …” It may be slightly anachronistic when applied to the Napoleonic period, being written some 17 years after Leipzing; however, it sums up what it was to be a proud Prussian soldier.
iven the brief of painting a small group of figures for the front cover of WS&S, I had quite a strong image in my head of a group of skirmishing infantry in an urban environment. I immediately thought of the jaw-dropping ‘Croebern 1813’ diorama, which is being made by a team of enthusiasts in Germany, so I attempted to capture the same feel they had achieved. Being a full time freelance sculptor, I don’t get so much time to paint or make terrain any more, so I enjoyed the task immensely.
WHERE TO START The first thing I did was to go through my cupboards of scenery-making supplies to see what I could gather together. I started with the facade wall, which was made from foamcard. Then I pulled some of the card away to reveal the foam underneath, into which I scored
© Stephen May
I knew I wanted to base the diorama around the facade of a building, as I thought that would work well, given the constraints of a magazine cover. Any vignette has to fit in the ‘box’, ideally in the ratio of 1.6 to 1. Quite early on, I decided on a group of Prussian fusiliers, as I like the sombre tones of the Prussian uniform. I originally wanted to have a few French infantry in the shot, too, but I couldn’t think of a way to do it convincingly, given the vertical profile, and without it looking too crowded. lines to represent exposed brickwork. The torn paper actually makes for a good representation of weathered plaster, too. The roof was a stock sheet of moulded plastic that I found hidden away, which saved a lot of time. I mounted the wall onto a raised base made from three 10mm-thick sheets of styrene.
In between drying, I started preparing the figures. I would have to clip the bases away and mount them on corks for ease of painting (although I usually just stick them on pennies).
THE MINIATURES Choosing what miniatures to use is critical. A natural pose is most important,
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WS&S generally lets the painter choose which models to use for the diorama. I chose the Prussian fusiliers from the Perry Prussian range, PN 12 and PN 14. Some may ask, “Why choose the Perrys?” In my opinion, Perry miniatures are the best around. I’ve painted a fair few for Alan and Michael (about 1500, actually), so – considering I was making a Napoleonic diorama – going to Alan’s fantastic range of Prussians was the obvious choice. The undercoat colour really depends on what I’m painting. Usually, I prefer to use a black undercoat for all of my work. However, if I’m painting something like an Austrian with a white uniform, I will use a white undercoat. I just use my judgement based on the miniature.
© Stephen May
followed by detail that isn’t difficult or too fine to paint without magnifiers. I like more realistically proportioned historical figures, but not the ‘scale’ figures that seem to have become what people think wargaming figures are supposed to be like. Certain features of a figure need to be exaggerated to look right on the table, in my opinion. If you have perfectly scaled heads, hands and so on, the figures can really lose their impact on the table, when put into large units. They are great for display pieces, but – for me – they don’t really do it for gaming. (The only exception to this rule, in my opinion, is Empress Moderns, which work because they are never put together en masse.)
The painted miniatures mounted on cork. ent; but I have a few Vallejo paints that I prefer for particular colours, because they’re more muted and the matt colours are more appropriate for some applications. Finding the secret to a good Prussian colour is easy. I have painted the Prussian uniforms on these figures a little brighter than I usually would, so that they would stand out for the photograph. Usually, I would paint a Prussian uniform with the Vallejo Dark Prussian Blue and highlight with Prussian Blue. It’s the best colour match I have found, so far – surprisingly, considering the name! However, on this occasion, I used GW’s new paints, starting with a dark blue and taking it up a few shades, leaving only the recesses with the darkest colour.
system, such as Kevin Dallimore’s three block colours. It really depends on what I am painting and the effect I am trying to achieve. Sometimes, I will only put a single highlight on an area. Other times, I will add four, five or six highlights. My ‘system’ is to vary the amount of highlighting as the model requires. Colours are usually taken straight out of the pot, as it makes painting large units quicker. However, I do mix the odd highlight, or if I don’t have a particular colour handy I will mix it. I use washes and glazes quite often. The grey on these figures, for instance, was highlighted to quite a pale grey, and then I added a darker wash to bring the colour back down again. Sometimes, I will repeat this process several times to get the desired colour or effect. You can get some nice effects by washing with a colour that is lighter than the base coat, too. Don’t be afraid to do a little experimenting.
BUILDING THE DIORAMA
I started on the basic colours and did a bit of washing and highlighting. I mostly use Games Workshop paints, as I personally find them the most consist-
When it comes to highlighting, I don’t really have any hard and fast rules. I can’t say that I follow any particular
Back to the scenery. I filled in the steps made by the styrene with polyfilla. I put in the windows and added a small amount of filler texturing on the walls.
The scored foamcard, showing the brickwork.
The backdrop with roof and layered base added.
© Stephen May
I usually start a model by painting the uniform first and any skin areas last. But, again, this can vary. If I’m painting a figure with a lot of exposed skin, like a Sudanese Ansar, I’ll paint the skin first.
Undercoating and initial highlights.
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© Stephen May
the wall would be a large part of the final picture, I wanted to take my time with it (while not allowing the scenery to overshadow the figures). The weathering was applied much in the same way as to the figures, except that I used some shades of green and a little black, as well as the brown mentioned above.
Waiting to have the tufts and grass added. All of the exposed styrene was painted with watered-down PVA glue to protect it from the corrosive undercoat. I went over it with black first, and then a mix of grey brown and green to get a good base colour.
While all this was drying, I turned back to the figures. The facing colours and skin were applied, as well as a liberal weathering on the boots and legs. Dried mud and dust can be represented by watering down a light brown or beige until it is very liquid. When applied to the figure and still wet, it can look a little over the top, but don’t worry – when it is dry, it becomes much more subtle.
Unfortunately, I forgot to cover the most important bits of exposed styrene – the brick work – which was completely eaten away by the spray paint! After much swearing and blaming the dog, I re-sculpted them with Milliput and gave it a speed dry with the hairdryer. I love painting scenery and I took extra time in applying weathering to the wall and exaggerating the broken plaster. As
© Stephen May
Luckily, it was a sunny day, so I left it outside for a quick dry (I did get impatient towards the end, and went at it with a hairdryer). Once dry, I sanded the filler smooth and textured the base with some dry soil.
I have a cupboard full of different grass tufts and flocks – some of which I have had custom made! So I went to town with the groundwork. I would have gone further, but, as the Battle of Leipzig took place in October, I couldn’t make it too colourful! I usually use Silflor tufts, but I have some of the Fredericus Rex ones, too. I just use whatever that suits the effect I am looking for. When that was dry, the figures were put in place … and I was done!
PHOTOGRAPHY Photography is usually done in-house for WS&S, but my friend and I are quite keen photographers with a professional set-up, so I managed to persuade the higher powers to let us do it. I had a very particular angle that I wanted it viewed from, too. So I thought it would be best to illustrate this for the magazine editor. After trying various positioning with two wireless flashes and making a few diffusers with paper, we got the shot we wanted. All in all, a very fun project to work on and a nice change of routine! Stephen kindly took time out of his busy schedule to finish off another excellent front cover diorama. We used Stephen’s own photograph on the front, which was indeed very good, as promised!
The Croebern diorama can be found at www.croebern-1813. de/index2.html Miniatures provided with the kind permission of the Perry twins. All photos courtesy of Stephen May. The finished model, ready on the work surface.
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Innovative Rules and quality 15mm figures
Painting by Jez [email protected]
Basic packs £2.80 each (plus postage) - 8 infantry or 4 cavalry figures All in 15mm metal . Brookhurst Hobbies has the range in stock for US Customers Dark Ages/Vikings Range 9 1. Levy spears vertical 2. Levy spear up 4. Unarmoured spear 5. Unarmoured spear up 7. Armoured spear up 8. Armoured spear down 10. Berserkers 11. Archers 12. Mounted Vikings 13. Armoured axe men 14. High value plunder 15. Generals and heroes 16. Leaders with swords 17. Standard bearers 18. Monks 19. A bit dead 20. Really dead 21. Very very dead 22. Female captives 23. Male captives 24. Child captives 25. Captors
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“Longships - Wrath of the Vikings” A new range of figures that is expanding. A set of rules to cover raids and battles in the ninth century. Uses 15mm or 25mm figures.
26. Javelin skirmishers 27. Carrying loot 28. Markers 1 (shieldwall and prowess) Dark Ages Scenery Range 21 82. Poor house pack of 3 £9 83. Garrison building £4.50 84. Barn/double doors £4.50 85. Small hall £4.50 86. Extension store £3 87. Saxon church £6 88. Standing stones x3 £3
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Typical army = 5 units of 8 bases (3 per base 15mm) or 8 individual figures (25mm). Games last 2 hours. Uses a 5ft x 3ft table. Elegant dice mechanisms. Great game !
© Georgie Harman
COLUMN By Sam Mustafa
It’s just a game... The allure of complexity
I recently bought a new laptop. Every few years, when I get some new gadget – and while my wallet is open and haemorrhaging money – I succumb to the temptation of buying myself a computer game or two. These days, the marketplace for games is an app store that melds seamlessly with those other kinds of dubious impulse purchases, like music, e-books, videos, and all the things that make my wife sigh and say, “Oh God, now what have you bought …?” It’s a ridiculous indulgence for me to buy a computer game. I never have the time anymore to get into the sort of games that I used to love – those immense strategy and world-building games like Sim City or Civilization. And, if the truth be told, I no longer have the patience or attention span required to master them. My twentieth-century brain is hopelessly wedded to the era of printed instruction manuals, and I find splashy 3D graphics more confusing than enticing. Yet, there I was, browsing the app store for twenty-first-century strategy games, and I finally clicked on one. It’s a huge, sprawling World War Two grand strategy beast called Hearts of Iron, and the reviews warned me that it has a steep learning curve. Steep learning curve!? Memorizing the conjugation of irregular verbs in Zulu is a steep learning curve. This thing is a monstrosity! Lunar missions have been launched with less data than this. The game covers all of the world from 1936 to 1945, including non-belligerents, on a one turn = 1 day timescale! Regional weather patterns are simulated. Seasonal changes in the length of a day are meticulously clocked, in the way that you see on an intercontinental flight, where the world map shows your position relative to the daylight and darkness. Every divisional commander has a photo portrait and biographic background in game values. (“That guy in charge of the 117th Infantry is a bit of a plodder. You may want to replace him.”) The ‘Table of Organization & Equipment’ of every division on earth can be modified and is at your disposal, as is the production of various resources, the trade arrangements involved in getting other resources, the diplomatic and political stances that can affect those trade arrangements, and, of course, the economic policies that transform those resources into war materials, which must then be sent to the various fronts. I have never seen such a complicated display in all my life. It’s as if I’ve been asked to run all the nuclear power plants in the world simultaneously, monitoring all of their functions,
productivity, payroll, and custodial services. Calling it a ‘game’ is absurd. And when I try to interact with it, I certainly wouldn’t call that ‘play’. Yet I have interacted with it, and I find it utterly fascinating. At this point, I don’t really have any expectation of playing it – at least, not in the sense that I’d make a decision to, say, invade Poland and then try to conquer it. Rather, I just marvel at the incredible number of decisions and actions required to make a single airstrike, to the point that watching the actual airstrike unfold is a bit anticlimactic. I sit slackjawed as the reports come in from some desultory infantry attack I made, and the casualties are given to me in numbers of men killed and wounded. (Yes: it does all of World War Two on a one-man-scale. It’s like some wargamer’s immense practical joke.) There was a time, some 30 years ago, when games like this were all the rage. Boardgames bloated out to elephantine proportions in search of ever more minute scale and detail. Miniatures gaming was less well-suited to this approach, simply because the demands of time and space made it so difficult. (Who has the time to paint a million figures, or the space to leave them sitting there for weeks until we can get around to Turn 2?). Yet such miniatures games did proliferate, primarily in the 1980s and early 1990s. The basic concept was the same as the Hearts of Iron computer game: “You are everyone, controlling everything”. This is the opposite of role-playing. In a role-playing game, a player immerses himself in a single, limited perspective. This results in a very intense and narrow slice of make-believe. Rather, what we’re describing here is more like ‘world-playing’. There are some fundamental limits to such an experience. Your attention can’t reasonably be directed at more than one thing at a time. A computer game can get around that problem by allowing A.I. to automate various aspects of the game at your discretion. But a miniatures game can’t do that. Thus, everything you are expected to control has to be in there somewhere – meaning ‘somewhere in the sequence of play’. My memory of gaming in the 1980s is clouded by the effects of time, long hours in night jobs, and several illicit substances. But I do recall that the goal of these monster game systems was ‘realism’. By playing every step at every level of a conflict, we were supposedly experiencing a more realistic simulation. The extra time invested and the reams of data required, we were told, were somehow worth it, to get the benefit of really gaming the way it ought to be. For a while, the designers’ notes
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really was as much of a plodder as the game says … or whether the general ever existed in the first place! For all I know, he could be a completely fictional creation, and it wouldn’t change the game at all. That’s ultimately the problem with superdetail in games: does any of it matter? Is your playing experience really dependent upon knowing that the details are historically accurate? Many of the game designers of the 1980s apparently believed that there was a certain refined pleasure that could only be obtained by slogging through massive layers of intense detail. Those of us who tried typically accepted on faith that the detail was accurate, because most people would never Civilization manages to balance fun with complexity (not to mention addiction). be in any position to check. Thus, we were in the bizarre position of trying to persuade ourselves that Game in these games featured very serious injunctions, warning us X was great because it was so detailed and accurate, even against the frivolity of mere game-play, and that what we were though the huge amount of detail meant that, (a) we had no going to do instead was ‘Play the History, not the Game!’ way of verifying the accuracy of all it, and (b) we were roleplaying a character who could never have existed: a fictional It wasn’t until years later that the irony of that approach dawned person with godlike omniscience and simultaneous control upon me. Those games pursued their goal of über-realism by over all the data and decisions. creating the most unrealistic possible interface: one person in charge of everything with godlike omniscience. You’re a dictaEventually, it must have dawned on most people that this tor of a great power, yet you’re also in charge of researching striving for realism didn’t really make the playing experience a new machine-gun. Or you’re Napoleon Bonaparte, ruler of better, in any meaningful way. It certainly didn’t provide a Europe, and you’re also resolving the fire of a pair of howitmore enjoyable game or enable the player to make-believe zers. In true Quixotic style, the game designers tried to solve more convincingly. (Unless we really think that Napoleon’s the problem of omniscience by creating even more rules and command of an army was characterized by long, motionless systems, typically involving a matrix of orders at various levels hours of consulting charts and tables with a pocket calculator of command, each of which had pages of rules and conditions. and rolling percentile dice.) Crucially, the immense amount of By choosing an ‘order chit’ for a corps commander and rolling time required to slog through it all became incompatible with percentile dice on the following six charts, we were supposed most people’s lives and leisure opportunities. to believe that we were that much closer to the perfect simulation of reality. I’ve known many people who collect super-complex boardgames and miniatures rules without any intention of ever playIf the goal of imaginative play is to immerse oneself in a role ing them. They still sell, because they are things of wonder to and then deal with challenges and make tough decisions, behold, just like my absurd new computer game. I confess to a then any system could potentially make you happy. It depends morbid fascination with these opera magna. They’re the Moby on what you enjoy. There were obviously a lot of guys, once Dick and Ulysses of wargaming. There must still be some elite upon a time, who did enjoy the experience of these monsterteam of players somewhere, who meet every Wednesday night complexity games. If you can dip your brain into that sort of in a subterranean bunker, through whose walls no cellphone thing and come up smiling, then good for you. But I don’t think signals can penetrate, and no texts are received to remind there’s any particular intellectual or moral superiority to be them to buy lettuce and cat-chow on their way home after derived from it. If it’s fun, then do it. picking up the kids. It is you, brave warriors, whom I shall salute, as I sit with my laptop in the airport lounge, passing the A suspension of disbelief is necessary, because, after a certain otherwise wasted hours by trying to figure out how to make an level of detail, you reach a point of diminishing returns. No amphibious attack. individual player is going to try to verify, for example, that all the weather data is historically accurate, or that that phoSam will be joining WS&S for the occasional column … tograph of an avuncular German officer is, indeed, General assuming we can peel him away from Hearts of Iron. von Schnitzelfritz of the 117th infantry division, or whether he
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By Paul Burkin
Weathering tanks and other vehicles
I’d recently started my very own tank factory, having painted and weathered thirty-odd Russian tanks and vehicles in 15mm scale for Battlegroup Kursk. One night at the club, the editor had said, “Hmm, you must try this out on some larger models one day”. All I will say is, “Be careful what you wish for!”
o, how would the techniques I had used on 15mm models look when scaled up to a 1/56th T-34/85? I chose Warlord’s new plastic kit, and was very impressed with how the kit went together, and the simple and straightforward instructions. Even the tracks (my usual bugbear) went together like a dream, without any visible gap. The model was then primed with a tin of Russian tank spray from the Plastic Soldier Company’s Warsprays range – two coats covered it, nice and evenly.
A lot of people believe that good results can only be achieved with an airbrush. This is fine if you have one and are practised with it. I certainly had access to one when working on my 15mm Russians. However, for this article, I wanted to do without, to show that good results are achievable using brushes alone. The initial step was to highlight the model with a lighter shade of green, for which I used Vallejo Camouflage Olive Green 894. With a little water added to assist in a smooth flow, I concentrated on just the centre of the panels across the whole vehicle. I followed this by adding a small amount of Russian Uniform WW2 924 to the original mix and highlighting the very edges, again all over the vehicle. Don’t worry too much if the finish is not smooth.
Tank with filter and number applied.
Wash applied, and excess removed with white spirit.
Next, we apply a filter. In simple terms, filters are a kind of special thin wash that changes the colour of the paint you are using in a subtle way, to make it look more natural and lifelike. If you are doing camo patterns that involve more than one colour, for example, they will take away the harsh edges and blend it in, so that it looks nice and smooth. Some people make their own filters, but I felt for this article
I’d use a ready-mixed one. I chose the AK-076 ‘Filter for NATO Tanks’, which is reasonably priced. When applying a filter, it is important that you have a nice matt finish on your model to allow the filter to be absorbed. Try not to go over the same area too many times, as you will get visible brush strokes and a bit of a messy finish. If you do find that any large areas of the filter start to pool, it can simply be absorbed and removed with a piece of tissue. Then leave the model overnight to give the filter time to dry thoroughly. If you wish to apply more than one coat of filter, that’s fine – just ensure that you leave it to dry in between applications. Once the filter has had time to dry, when you first look at it, you may be thinking, “Ok, how bad does that look!” But have faith. After the filter had dried, I realized that I hadn’t put the decals on the turret. There is a set supplied with the tank, but I chose not to use them. I wanted a more slap-dash look, as if it had been painted on by hand. So, I simply pulled a number out of my head and painted it on freehand. I then applied a coat of Vallejo satin varnish to the whole vehicle. When you come to apply your wash, it flows better over a satin coat and lies in all the right places for your shading purposes. This will also work over a gloss coat. Once the varnish has dried, now apply the wash. Again, I plumped for AK-045 ‘Dark Brown for Green Vehicles’. When applying your wash, try to get it only where you want it. This will save you clean-up time at the next stage. I tend to apply it quite liberally (but not splashing it all over), so don’t worry if you get
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a little more than you wanted on your tank. Now, wait a while for the wash to dry – not fully, but almost. I normally give it about an hour and a half. This is where the magic begins. Take some standard white spirit from your local hardware store. Put a small amount into a plastic paint palette and dampen your brush. It’s important not to totally soak your brush at this point, because it will just remove the wash from your model instantly. The technique involves a bit of trial and error, at this stage. Use too much and you may have to apply the wash again. Use just the right amount and you will find that any excess or unwanted wash can be removed very easily by just wiping over with the brush. I use the brush to drag down the wash, which gives you a very nice representation of grease and grime being accumulated over your vehicle. Again, you can get a myriad of different products to achieve results of differing kinds from oil and grease to rust and rain marks. I just used a single wash here. If you are going to do several different layers and effects, you will need to varnish between each layer to seal in what you have done before, so that you don’t wipe it away with the white spirit. Finally, let it dry. After applying a basecoat to all the other bits of the model, such as the machine-gun and the metal cables festooned about the tank, it’s time to add some chipping damage. For this, I used Vallejo German Grey 995 with a little water added, and used a sponge technique, dabbing across the model where there would be natural wear and tear. For those of you not familiar with this simple technique, all you need is a bit of old blister sponge or similar, which you tear to leave an uneven edge. Dip this into your chosen paint and dab it until there is only a little left on the sponge. Then apply it to your vehicle. Just be careful, as it is quite easy to overdo it. Once that has dried, highlight the edges with a lighter colour – Vallejo Iraqi Sand, in this case – to give your chips some depth and make them stand out.
The finished article. Ready for combat!
Next, we add some rust colour. For this, I used one of my wife’s oil colours, burnt umber, which I mixed with white spirit until it reached the consistency of milk. Apply it in the same manner as the wash, but with vertical streaks, to simulate rust marks running down the vehicle’s hull. All that is left to do is finish off the additional bits (like the cables) in your chosen colour, and then highlight them. For the tracks and wheels, I used the same colours and techniques as for the hull and turret. The tracks were painted with German Grey and given the same wash as previously mentioned. To finish off the whole package, I applied some pigments mixed with white spirit to the wheels and track, and also around the sides and bottom of the tank hull. If you mix the pigment to the consistency of milk and apply it, it will dry out giving you the effect of dried mud or dust. The application of pigments is a very personal thing – you can do as much or
as little as you please. There are certain techniques for creating wet mud, for example, but they are beyond the scope of this article. I personally do not apply a massive amount, because I prefer a more subtle look. If you intend to seal your model with a coat of varnish, the pigments can appear to be a lot darker, once this has dried. This is just something to bear in mind when choosing your particular colour. Also, varnishing can accidentally remove pigments, so do be careful at this last stage. So there you have it. I hope that this article will prove to be inspirational to those who might feel a little daunted by the thought of weathering your tanks (or AFVs, or jeeps, or spaceships). Try it out. It really is not as hard as you may think to achieve realistic results. Paul will be taking a break from the Soviets, but his next project will involve green tanks nonetheless! Some nice 28mm British Shermans, to give his US Airborne support for Arnhem.
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By Richard Lloyd
The 8th army in plastic
THE RATS WHO PLAGUED ROMMEL I picked up a box of Perry Miniatures’ eagerly anticipated 8th Army figures at Salute in April, precisely one year after the first ‘3-Ups’ were previewed at Salute 2012. Followers of the 28mm plastics scene will appreciate that this represents a Lamborghini-like acceleration in the Perrys’ production line.
ards on the table – I love Michael Perry’s work. People talk about ‘The Perrys’ as if the poor fellows were some kind of Gestalt entity with a shared brain or a single persona. Well, there’s certainly a distinctive Perry style. But, for my money, when it comes to portraying the English fighting man, there’s no finer exponent than Michael Perry. He perfectly captured that quintessential cocksure, capable belligerence in his original ‘Wars of the Roses’ set. And he’s captured it again with his Desert Rats. The set is sharply moulded in sandcoloured plastic. (No doubt, as tradition demands, the Afrika Korps will come in a more yellowish hue.) There are slight mould lines on all parts, but nothing you can’t scrape off with a scalpel in a few seconds. Even with Renedra’s famously meticulous (not to mention protracted) tooling process, the limitations of injection moulding do leave a few undercuts here and there, especially around the gusset of the shorts and the ammo pouches. If you’re the fastidious sort, you’ll want to carve away some of this surplus plastic – it’s easy enough to do. The figures, it has to be said, are titchy. They are almost a head shorter than the Perry ‘Wars of the Roses’ models, and slimmer all round. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. They’re simply more finely detailed and proportionate scale models than most of us are used
SAS troopers, officer and NCO: there are plenty of options for variety here. to. But it does make them more difficult to paint. Not to mention wildly incompatible with many of the ‘heroic-scale’ 28mm metal figures out there. Since I only intend to fight my Perry 8th Army against Perry Afrika Korps, it’s no big deal for me. People with existing 28mm WWII collections may feel differently. Why so small? Well, it certainly wasn’t a mistake. Our intrepid editor put the question to Michael Perry, who explains:
different bodies; a single command frame with two different bodies; and 32 20mm round bases for mounting individual figures, plus four 40mm square bases for two-man weapons teams. Oh, and a leaflet showing how to build the figures and detailing the organization of an infantry platoon. The mathematically astute will already have worked out that this means 38 figures in a box. That, in my view, is
“The figures are for 1/56 scale vehicles, so they have to be 28mm – which they are, if you measure from base of heel to top of head, and 29mm if you measure to the top of the helmet. Obviously, some are leaning, so you have to measure at an angle. They are slight in frame; hopefully more humanlooking. But again, it helps to make them a more accurate bulk, as I didn’t want to see large, fat figures completely filling vehicle driving compartments.” So there you have it. They’re true 1/56 scale. What’s in the box? Well, three identical infantry frames, each holding 12
Simple conversions can bring a figure to life.
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BUILDING AND TIPS
Fix bayonets. Charge! a princely number of figures for your money (18 quid, by the way), while 14 different bodies provides a generous variety of poses. Some manufacturers in the burgeoning 28mm plastics market seem to think that providing more than four different bodies amounts to spoiling their customers for choice. Such parsimony is not for Michael Perry, God bless him.
a Sten. But I appreciate that you can’t please everybody. Instead, the bonus feature is the inclusion of six SAS LRDG heads on each frame, in assorted cap comforters and Arab headdresses. Plus, there’s a Boys AT rifle, a 2” Stokes Mortar, and a couple of Bren guns, so we mustn’t grumble. Backpacks and alternative heads (Sikh head and Aussie slouch hats) are available in metal.
I have a sneaking suspicion that, in part, this is because the set is a homage to the Airfix 8th Army set of yore. I’m sure Michael wanted people to be able to replicate the poses in the second edition HO set – there were 14 poses in that set too, although there’s no mine detector in the Perry box! In fact, more than the 1/72 scale polythene set, these Perry figures remind me of the wonderful Airfix 1/32 scale ‘Multipose’ figures – remember those?
Because the heads are moulded onto the bodies (and quite a few of the arms come attached in pairs to various weapons), there’s a limit to how much genuine ‘multi-poseability’ can be achieved immediately, without resorting to surgery. There’s still a fabulous range of possible permutations, of course, but it’s not completely unrestricted – unless you get busy with a scalpel and start repositioning heads, hands and legs. Happily, this is what I like doing best.
Anyway, back to the future … the first impressions of the main frame is that it’s jam-packed with components. A cornucopia of different weapons and arms (some attached to each other, some not) rub shoulders with different helmets, pouches, bayonets, picks, shovels, and other kit. Personally, I could have done without a couple of the shovels on each frame, and would happily have taken a backpack or two instead. Or even
The command frame has an officer figure in a pullover, and a radio operator. You can choose a helmet or flat cap, and a Webley revolver or Tommy gun for the officer. There are no other options or extras included – hiss, boo! – so you pretty much have to build the two figures as they come, although you can, of course, substitute arms from the rifle section frame for the radio op’s arms.
First up is an infantryman thrusting with bayonet (No. 1). I wanted to capture the iconic image of the Desert Rat – advancing through the desert haze, bayonet fixed, to engage the enemy with cold steel – so I used the grenade-thrower body. The posture suits someone lunging with a bayonet. I added the helmet with its chinstrap hooked up over the rim. Again, very characteristic, although I’m betting that most men would have put their chinstraps on as they were going into action. Some of the helmets with chinstrap up are fixed to the frame by the back rim – easy to snip off and clean up. Unfortunately, some are fixed by the front rim, making it tricky to detach them from the frame without obliterating the front rim. This requires careful surgery. Similarly, the separate unsheathed bayonets come joined to the sprue halfway along the top edge of the blade. It’s difficult, even with an über-sharp scalpel, to slice such a tiny component off the frame without leaving a slightly uneven top edge to the blade. With the benefit of hindsight, it would have been better had they been attached to the sprue by the end of the hilt. Obviously, when adding a fixed bayonet, you need to shave the hilt off the sheathed bayonet moulded onto the bodies. For the NCO with Thompson SMG (No. 2), I sliced the head off the body and turned it through a few degrees, so that he’s shouting sideways, urging his men forwards. I’ve repositioned the heads on most of my builds, because it’s the attitude of the head that lets you create
Figures 1 - 5.
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Figure Nos. 11 and 12 are my second Bren team, on the move, under fire. The gunner is a substantial conversion: head repositioned to tilt down, and left arm reconstructed from the mortar arm with the officer’s free hand grafted on, holding onto his tin lid as he sprints for cover. The loader is a straight build, lobbing a mills bomb.
Figures 6 - 9, with ‘Uncle Bert’ at left. particularly distinctive poses. It’s easy enough to do with a sharp blade and a dab of polystyrene cement. The helmets do sit slightly high on the heads – not altogether unrealistic, because of the helmet liner. But if you want them to sit lower (or at a characteristically jaunty angle), you need to take a good slice off the top of the skull. I’ve done that with all these figures. Figure No. 3 is walking at trail. There are both left and right ‘at trail’ rifle arms. This is the left. Interestingly though, there are no open-handed right arms to pair it with. So you have to slice the rifle off the right ‘at trail’ arm, to provide a swinging right arm. Figure Nos. 4 and 5 make my first Bren team. Yes, I know it’s not historically accurate. But if it’s good enough for Tamiya Panzer grenadiers, it’s good enough for Perry Tommies. Besides, I am taking Commando comic as my inspiration. Not the Infantry Handbook 1942. Figure No. 6 is a chirpy cockney geezer, a homage to my Uncle Bert, who fought in the Western Desert and at Monte Cassino. I always visualize him with his helmet perched on the back of his head
Figures 10 - 13.
like this. I really should have added a fag dangling from his lip. Figure No. 7 is the SAS trooper. I used one of the ‘advancing-at-a-crouch’ bodies, but sliced the leading foot away from the base and bent the back leg to achieve this posture: foot up on a pile of rock, surveying the desert beneath him. Quite characteristic of the Regiment, I think ... or the romantic image of it, at any rate. I’ve added a pair of binoculars and a sidearm from the Bolt Action British weapons sprue. I also added a dab of poly cement to his beard and dragged a pin through it to make it a bit more bushy, going for the ‘James Robertson Justice’ look. Figure No. 8: “Perkins, pot that fellow on the roof!” I didn’t want to use this body just as a loader, so I turned him into a rifleman.
Figure No. 13 is the radio operator, with advancing rifle arms instead of the slung rifle and radio handset provided. Figure No. 14, the officer, is one of the chunkier figures in the set. His head is too big for his cap, so I swapped the head for a smaller one and sliced its top off, so that the cap sits a little better. I also replaced the officer’s waving hand with a pointing one. Figure No. 15 is marching: a simple build with the addition of a Milliput beret, and a helmet slung from his belt. Figure No. 16 is the ‘Rogue male’. This is another conversion, entailing a fair bit of slicing and dicing. Yes, I know it wasn’t humanly possible to fire a Bren gun from the hip. Get over it! I blame my adolescent exposure to War Picture Library. Besides which, he looks spiffing.
Figure No. 9 is at the attack, working his bolt, bayonet fixed, helmet at a rakish angle. What’s not to like?
Figure No. 10 is another SAS type, this time in cap comforter. I’ve given him a commando dagger in his left hand, ready to silence an enemy sentry. The knife comes from one of the ‘Wars of the Roses’ sets.
My first decision was to avoid painting these figures in a uniform shade. I wanted them to look like soldiers on campaign in well-worn clothing and equipment. Shorts and shirts may have been khaki drill when issued, but dyes varied widely between batches. Add the
Figures 14 - 16.
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effects of long exposure to dust, sweat, and the desert sun, and perfect uniformity would have been in short supply. So, having undercoated everything with Halfords dark brown ‘camo’ aerosol, I painted every item – shirt, shorts, helmet, and webbing – a slightly different shade on each figure. I used Vallejo Khaki, Iraqi Sand, Medium Grey, Russian Uniform Green, and various indiscriminate mixes of these colours. I added Vallejo Flat Earth to provide darker base coats, and a little white for highlights. The end result is more on the khaki spectrum than the usual bleached sand-coloured portrayal of British uniforms in the Western Desert, but I like it. The gaiters are Medium Grey and the socks are predominantly Russian Uniform Green. My second decision was to shoot for a darker skin tone than usual. Troops in the desert would have rapidly acquired a tan or got sunburn. I started with a base coat of almost neat Vallejo Red Leather cut with a drop of Vallejo Dark Flesh. I gradually added more Dark Flesh to the mix, for highlights, and then the merest touch of white into this for the topmost highlights – cheekbones, chin, ears, tip of the nose, and so on.
For such diminutive figures, I used a slightly different technique from the normal ‘layering’ approach. I block-painted the various colours, applied highlights where I could, and then gave all the clothing and equipment a liberal wash of a very thin dirty brown. The wash creeps into all the details and helps them stand out. This also acts as a kind of unifying filter, which brings together all the different shades used on the clothing, helmets and webbing. I then retouched the highlights on the helmets, shorts and shirts. The backs of the figures are easy to paint – nice creases and webbing, all readily accessible. The fronts are a chore, with weapons invariably held in front of the ammo pouches, shirt pockets and so on. I’m not advocating painting the figures before assembling them; but just be aware that getting the point of your brush into all that detail on the front of the figure is darn tricky. Because the heads are mostly moulded as bald, you need to employ a little artistic licence and paint in a haircut, here and there, at the back of the head and the sideburns. Of course, men wore ‘short back and sides’ in those days,
especially in the tropics. But a whole platoon of baldies seems a bit much. Woodwork on the weapons is GW Mournfang Brown, with small amounts of white and Vallejo Bright Orange mixed in for highlights. Metalwork on the weapons is black highlighted with Vallejo Gunmetal Blue, with a thin black wash. Boots I left very dark brown, and gave them a thinned wash of sand colour to make them look dusty. In summary, for sheer character and detail, I can’t recommend these figures highly enough. They’re lovely little models. Their small size makes them trickier to paint than the more usual larger 28mm figures. But, for the tabletop, anyone will be able to achieve very satisfactory results using block colour and washes. WS&S did have an 8th Army painting guide a few issues ago (see ‘Tea Break’ in WS&S 65, written by James Morris), but Richard’s article was so good that we couldn’t ignore it ... if only for the sake of Uncle Bert!
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By Paul Cubbin
A quick guide to getting the best from your bases
BASE, THE FINAL FRONTIER So, you’ve sweated blood and tears over your beloved models; you’ve researched the uniforms exactly, and toiled for untold hours to bring them to life, via the magical medium of paints, inks, washes and varnish. Such an emotional and temporal investment requires more than a bit of green paint or glued-on flock as the finishing touch. Did Picasso daub the last bit of slap on Guernica and say, “Ah, just stick it up anywhere with Blu-Tack”? Was Rodin‘s The Kiss jammed on top of a wobbly bar-stool with a folded beer-mat under one leg?
on’t cheapen your works of art with slap-dash bases, rushed out in a frenzy of impatience. Your lovely toys could be with you for years, decades even, so it’s surely worth taking a few more minutes to set them off perfectly. These days, we have a plethora of basing material available to us. Some are purpose-built by wonderful terrainmaking manufacturers; most are free or simply the result of effective recycling. I shall endeavour to share some of
my own methods, experiences and favourite materials. Let’s take a look in our larder, first of all, to see the ingredients from which we can serve up our sumptuous visual feasts. 1) Sand. Not modelling sand; not kiln-dried boutique sand; not Imperialapproved Special Copyrighted Lawyerprotected sand; just builders’ sand. I scoop it out of the bag I keep in my shed, left over from doing the patio (about £3 for a huge sack). I dump a pile onto an old oven tray, and bake it in the oven on a low heat for a couple of hours to dry it out. Then I shake it through a sieve. This gives me one tub of fine sand and one tub of rough sand. Lovely stuff. 2) Brick sprues. I love this one. Every time I buy any plastic kit or boxed set that comes on a sprue, I know I’m
about to make some bricks. If the sprue has a square cross-section (most of them do, although some are round), then all you need to do is get a big kitchen knife – the sprues tend to be quite tough and don’t easily yield to a puny modelling knife – and chop, chop, chop away on a cutting-board to make little brick-sized chunks. Pop them in a pot and whip them out when needed. I tend to nibble little bits off here and there with the modelling knife to make them appear chipped and damaged. 3) Modelling putty sandbags. How often do you have a little bit of putty left over when you mix up some for a job? All the time? Well, use the leftovers to make sandbags. I roll the putty into a sausage, chop it into chunks of roughly the right size using the back of a modelling knife, and then pinch them into the right shape with my fingers. They’re so easy to do, and, when set, you can pop them into a jar for safe keeping. It’s amazing how quickly they mount up. 4) Forex®. This one’s a little odd, I grant you. It’s PVC foam, a bit like a softer, lightweight plasticard, and is available in a variety of thicknesses (I mostly use 2mm stuff). It cuts and scores very easily and takes paint nicely, too. It is used to make temporary signage for shops or businesses, and I have a stash in the loft that has lasted me for years. If you are out and about and see someone advertising anything with an expiration date, don’t be afraid to ask if you can take their signs away, when they are
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Various models from Paul’s collection: Warlord, Perry, GW, Esci and Airfix. ready to throw them out. This method is also a good source of free foamboard for making buildings. 5) Tufts and static grass. Fair play – these ones I buy, because they’re very good and are superb value for money. I find the various tufts available from companies like Mini-Natur and Army Painter to be of vastly superior quality to the old snipped-bristle method of making tufts. There’s also a type of velvety, mossy tuft available, that I love like a close family member (but without the inevitable guilt when I forget its birthday). These days, static grass is probably the mainstay of most people’s basing collection, and comes in a variety of shades.
floors. You can even use the tea-leaves to have a cup of tea, first. Just make sure you dry them out thoroughly before storing, or you’ll be the proud owner of a tub full of mould. Don’t mix the herbs with the tea before you make your cuppa, though – that’s just nasty.
8) Moss and lichen. Real stuff this time. Many thanks to Brett Johnson at WaMP for teaching me how to preserve these garden fuzzies with glycerin, in order to use them as basing material. There are probably three or four different types of suitable moss lurking in your garden
6) Birch seed scales. Not birch seeds (which look like little brown flies), but birch seed scales. These are the protective scales that grow over the seed on a birch catkin. When the seeds disperse (in summer or autumn), you get loads of these scales littering the ground near birch trees, and all you need to do is scoop them up. They make wonderful little fallen leaves for your bases. 7) Tea-leaves and mixed herbs. No, not an unpleasant vegetarian soup! These are superb for doing forest and jungle
Sand, sprue bricks, sandbags, Forex, tufts, birch scales, tea leaves, moss and rocks.
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and neaten them up with the knife and some sandpaper.
The basic bases with sand or local green area, right now. You just dip them in one part glycerin (it’s a completely safe syrup, available from the chemist) to ten parts water, dry them out on kitchen paper overnight, and glue them onto your base! Lovely stuff. They sometimes turn brown over time, but they look no worse for it (unlike Liberace). 9) Rocks and slate. The garden yields an unending supply of little rocks (since it is well known that Satan and his wizards spend eternity coughing them up for the sole purpose of ruining the soil in my flower beds). I also have a large bag of slate chippings that I liberated from a disused slate mine in Cornwall, many years ago. But you can simply go to the Garden Centre and ask for a little bag of sample slate pieces – that should give you plenty to be getting on with. 10) Anything else. Twigs, bits of wire, tubing, etched brass leaves, refugees from your bits box, sponge tufts, chalk powder, and any amount of lovely basing materials available from the model shop or online. Really, if you think it might look funky, lob it onto the base.
Extra gravel and plastic bricks added.
A well-painted model can look superb with a nice base, but slightly iffy with a poor one. Similarly, even a dodgy paintjob can be enhanced, in suspiciously simple fashion, by the addition of an eye-catching terrain-base. I once made 100 percent profit on some 15mm models, bought online, by simply tarting up the bases with a little painted sand and relisting them! So, now we have all these lovely materials lurking in tubs on the shelf – why don’t we get started playing with them? Let’s choose five different types of terrain base, just as some quick examples of what can be done. Let’s quickly knock up bases for (1) urban, (2) highland (or any other broken ground), (3) desert, (4) rural (my ‘workhorse‘ style of base and definitely my default setting), and (5) forest battlegrounds.. The first stage is to cut out some simple 25mm x 25mm square bases from my collection of 2mm Forex®. You can fairly easily make round bases, too, using a compass cutter. I mark out the squares, and gently score them with a modelling knife against a metal ruler. Then it’s simple to finish the cutting,
Then, I glue a fine sand surface over all of them with strong PVA wood-glue, after gluing some sprue bricks and slate onto the urban and highland bases, respectively. An important point to remember is to leave a little gap around the feet of your model. It’s all too easy to spoil the whole effect because some sand or static grass has gone over onto the poor bloke’s foot. When working with a model that has a small base cast onto it, you may want to build up a couple of layers of sand around the edge of it, just to even out the layers a little. You’ll notice one nice trick you can pull with the sprue bricks: by chopping them diagonally in half, you can stick them onto the base to make it look as if they’re protruding from a pile of rubble. The next stage is to add a smattering of little stones and rough sand (with a thin slither of scored Forex® doing a very passable impression of broken timber on the urban base). Next step is to give them all a good undercoat of very dark brown, which will serve you well for all the terrain styles. I always put a separate undercoat onto a base before undercoating the model. It helps to seal down any annoying little bits of loose sand or stones, and ensures that you don’t end up smearing any of it up the model’s legs. Next, you’ll see our bases have all been given their colour basecoats, appropriate to the various theatres: urban (1)
Undercoated dark brown.
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Appropriate base coats added. gets a red-brown base for the brick rubble and a grey base for the concrete; highland (2) gets some dark blue-grey for the rocks and grey-brown for the earth; desert (3) is easy and gets a deep sandy brown all over; rural (4) gets mainly earthy brown, with a little bit of grey for the stones; and forest (5) gets a ‘tea-leaves and mixed herbs’ base, with some grey for the boulder and a bit of preserved moss glued on. All that happens from here is that they are dry-brushed with several levels of highlights. The paler the final dry-brush, the drier the ground will look. Note the beautiful texture on the slate that has been brought out by the off-white dry-brushing. In addition, urban (1) gets some pigment powder in a pinkish brick-dust shade (you can buy this
The finished bases: urban, highland, desert, rural and forest. fairly cheaply or make your own by crushing chalks or pastels into powder); highland (2) gets some lovely mossy tufts and a larger tuft for variety; desert (3) gets some light, sun-bleached static grass; rural (4) gets some standard static grass patches; and forest (5) gets a few scattered birch seed scales to look like fallen leaves. You may notice that the highland, rural and forest bases have all had a light stippling with a lime-green colour, to hint at lichen or other fungal growth.
work or materials as you want into it and, although less is sometimes more (as in so much of life), you will get out of it what you put in. If you’ve never really considered the base as part of the process of bringing the model or unit to life, you might be surprised at just how effective a little extra time and effort can be. I hope this article has helped or inspired you to squeeze even more fun from this most indulgent of hobbies. But if not, there’s always the next article. Enjoy!
Taking drying times aside, the work on these bases only took roughly an afternoon to complete. It’s a real joy to finish off your models with a little bit of extra work on your bases, and it will work for single models, vignettes, dioramas or units. You can put as little or as much
A famous painter once said the key to a good miniature is “faces, bases and flags”. Paul’s article reveals the secret to 1/3 of this key to success – one the editor needs to take more note of. His bases are cra… err, usually rushed and poor!
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By Paul Burkin and Steve Cooper
LETʼS PLAY DEAD MANʼS HAND Having seen the new cowboy game from Great Escape Games at Salute earlier this year, I mentioned it to a couple of other club members. I was quite surprised that, like me, they had always fancied trying a bit of Wild West gaming. So – “Get off yer hoss and drink yer milk, pardner”, and follow me down the trail of our thoughts …
ead Man’s Hand (DMH) is a skirmish game for two players, designed to be played on a 3’ x 3’ table, with a fistful of models (7-10 figures a-side), although some quick scenarios require only 2 or 3. The game is played using D10 and D20 dice, and movement is measured in either centimetres or inches. The rule book itself is soft cover and weighs in at 44 pages. It is written in a light-hearted style and has some nice pictures. Included is a pack of cards to be used in conjunction with the game, all for the sum of £20. The ‘card play’ used throughout the game adds to the Old West atmosphere. The deck consists of 52 cards in the usual suits (plus jokers), each with a special effect written on it. Each player is dealt a hand of cards, which are used in two different ways. The first way is to use the special effects to spring surprises on your opponent or to boost your own gang members, throughout the course of the game. Any cards you play can be trumped if the other gang’s leader has the same card, adding a nice feeling of tension – just when you think you have foiled a crucial move for your foe, he
This town ain’t big enough …
then spits his chewin’ tabacca straight back at ya! The other way the cards are used is to dictate the order in which the models are activated. When you start a round, you turn over your top card and place it on your model of choice. Whoever places their card first will get the initiative on any tied cards throughout the turn. I liked this, but some of the others didn’t. After all, this is a game about shoot-outs in the Wild West – you are either quick or dead! Each of your gang members is given a card face down. Once both sides have done this, the cards are revealed to see what order they will activate. Every figure in the game can carry out three actions when activated, which include moving, aiming, shooting, reloading, changing weapon, and, lastly, recovering. You can shoot 3 times with a pistol, or you can move, shoot, and then dive through a window, as a third movement action. You are pretty much given free rein to do what you like for movement. A standard ‘move’ is up to 10cm, or you can jump over fences for free, and climb up to 8cm vertically per action. (The authors do state that they didn’t want to have a load of complicated rules for terrain.) When it comes to shooting, you roll a D20 and add or subtract any modifiers that are relevant; for instance, firing
Jack of Diamonds card. pistols at point-blank gives you a +2 to your roll. There is quite a long list of modifiers, but they take no time at all to pick up. Once you have your final figure, you consult the shooting results table. A natural roll of 1 means you are out of ammo; 2-10 is a miss; 11-14 means you have to place an ‘under fire’ marker to represent wounds, near misses or just weight of fire; 15-18 requires an ‘under fire’ marker and a nerve test (more on this shortly); and 19+ puts your opponent out of action. Any ‘under fire’ markers that you receive can be removed by taking ‘recover’ actions in your next turn. Each type of gang member has their own amount of ‘under fire’ hits that they can take before being removed. Another nice touch is the interruptions. If your figure has not yet activated this turn, you get the chance to ‘Quick Shoot’, which effectively allows you to
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burn your activation and shoot out of sequence. You can also ‘Duck Back’, which allows you to make one movement action towards cover and away from the foe who is about to blast you; he still gets to shoot, but with the minus modifiers added. Hand-to-hand fighting is determined by both sides rolling a D10 and adding any applicable modifiers. Once you have the results, the loser takes an ‘under fire’ marker for every point of difference. So, beware – if you run into fisticuffs, you may well end up at the sharp end. Lastly, we come to nerve tests. There are two types of test to take. The most common occurs after being hit by enemy fire with an ‘under fire’ and nerve test result. You simply roll a D10 and have to equal or beat your nerve score to pass. The second type is used to decide when a gang has had enough. If, at the end of any turn, you have more than half your men out of action, you must take a ‘Big Nerve’ test. Pass, and all is fine; fail, and that’s it – your gang gets outta Dodge. Currently, there are four available gangs: namely, Lawmen, Outlaws, Cowboys and Desperadoes. Each one has a few gang-specific rules. The gang lists consist of a boss, followed by various types of character. Each model has a reputation value, which is the points cost of each type and the number that can be fielded. You organize the cards depending on the size of game, whether using a full deck or only half. The face cards are gang-specific: Hearts for Lawmen and Diamonds for Cowboys, for instance.
You’re my huckleberry …
DMH seems to be aiming, to a degree, for the market gap left by Legends of the Old West (LOTOW). The visual style of the book is quite reminiscent, as are a few details of the game. The ‘Big Nerve’ test and the gangs of DMH, with their unique traits and hierarchy of characters and skills, are quite analogous to LOTOW. However, the feel of the game is very different. Once you get familiar with LOTOW, the games can become quite formulaic. DMH’s special deck of cards generates unpredictability and chaos. A successful player will still play to his gang’s strengths and tactical advantages, while remaining conscious that his best-laid plans risk being derailed by more factors than a bad die-roll or whether his opponent will risk spending his last ‘Fame’ point. The smaller playing space and limited gang sizes in DMH are handy. I could see me taking this on holiday – unthinkable with LOTOW. Stuart’s concept for his campaign rules sounds strong, with a clear aim of what will merit a successful ‘retirement’ for each gang, contrasted with LOTOW’s propensity for you to build up ever mightier posses, increasingly tooled up like D&D adventurers, without any obvious end point, unless you are playing a formal tournament. DMH does not fill me with an urge to toss my out of Print LOTOW rule sets aside in disgust, but neither will I ignore it for the type of game it aims to provide – fast, tight, wild gun brawls in the dusty streets of the frontier. Steve Cooper
These cards give a nice tailored and individual feel to each gang. The two Jokers are covered with handy tips on when to use them. Finally, we have the ‘Scenes’, which are the supplied scenarios. They are listed by title; each scenario is split into three scenes, giving you a total of 12 to play. A quick reference sheet and markers are included in the book. So, is it any good? Well, we’ve all had a real rootin’ tootin’ fun time playing it. The game is well thought out and has some very nice touches. The card play went down really well, like playing poker at the same time as trying to out-gun your opponent. A couple of points were raised that all of us agreed on. The first was that there is no advancement of characters or campaign system for the game. The second was that only having four gangs is quite limiting. (Where are the Indians, paleface?) Both of these small gripes have been addressed by the authors, who have said that the
next instalment (Legend of Dead Man’s Hand) will include an interesting way of advancement for your gangs. New gangs are also promised, with their own specific cards. One of the reasons I looked at DMH in the first place was the fact that the game seems to be extremely well supported. There is the forum and downloads section at Great Escape Games, and they have their own range of figures and an ever-expanding range of buildings and scenery, which is being produced by 4Ground. All in all, “the future looks like its gunna be rosy, pardner”. In typical Berserker fashion, each tester wore a cowboy hat while playing. Rossco naturally chose the fanciest, which coincidentally meant that he won draws according to the rules of the game!
WS&S would like to thank the Brixham Berzerkers and Steve Cooper for their input. Models are from Artizan design and painted by the author and Martin Oaff.
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By Eoghan Kelly
Osprey goes VSF
LETʼS PLAY IN HER MAJESTYʼS NAME I have always been a fan of Victorian science fiction (or VSF), ever since I was young. I loved the worlds of Jules Verne and HG Wells, as well as many of the more obscure writers. So, it was with a mixture of joy and trepidation that I looked forward to the new set of rules from Osprey – In Her Majesty’s Name.
The game is for two or more players, based around a skirmish system in which each player controls a group of figures – their suggestion is between 5 and 20 per side (more on this later). Each player assembles a squad. This can be based on one of the sample lists that come with the book, or one you design yourself, using tables that can also be found in the book. This aspect is very clever, as it allows you to create your own figures in the Victorian world, as well as allowing you to create stats for the odd figure that you might have picked up at various shows. (Paul was finally able to use his Eureka mechanized armoured pickelhaube, or Aufziehpickelhaubenstahlspähpanzerfahrzeug Ausf. A!) The rules also allow you to generate fantastical creatures, such as werewolves or yetis, and also mystical powers, which can be very entertaining, when used at the right time. The other materials you will need for
© North Star
rue to Osprey’s form, the book is concise, well written and full of illustrations. The rules start with a brief overview of the alternative world that they are set in. The world powers are fighting a covert war in an extension of the Great Game, along with the involvement of various cults, gangs and groups, struggling for power or wealth. This sets the context for the game, with an explanation of the new technologies that have been developed – Gauss Technology, electro weapons, land ships, and so on.
Excuse me sir, do you have a licence for that yeti? this are some D10s, a tape measure, and some terrain to represent the game. The rules come with handy scenario generators, allowing for different scenarios and settings, as well any rules specific to an area (docklands by night can be scary …). The game suggests that you start with 250-300 points, in order to play it effectively. However, we tried it out with 160 points first, and found this to be more than enough in order to get to grips with the rules. A squad will normally have one ‘hero’ type, who will have extra skills, maybe a mystical power or two, and some super stats that allow them to shrug off wounds more easily than others. There will be some sidekick/henchmen types, and then some rank-andfilers, along with the odd specialist (a medic is handy, but others – especially ones you design yourself – can be just as helpful). All figures have stat lines: Pluck, Shoot-
ing value, Fight value, and Speed. These reflect a figure’s ability to fight, move and survive wounds, but they can have other effects; for example, the Speed value is also a modifier in mêlée combat. Figures may also have Talents and Mystical Powers. The former category gives figures abilities that lift them out of the crowd – being a sharpshooter or a natural leader, amongst many other options. It is also possible to design your own talents, and, as with the rest of the rules, there are guidelines to help you. The latter category are the psychic or otherworldly powers that figures may have. These are the effects that cloud men’s minds or create supernatural elements in the game. Again, you can design your own. In the sequence of play, all players roll for initiative, with the highest going first, and so on; this can lead to players on the same side moving at different times in the game. Once a player is
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© North Star
a phasing player, you may move one figure, and then the next player moves, and so on. Once all players have moved one figure, you move to the next figure of the player with the highest initiative. Once all movement is resolved, then you move to shooting, which is handled in the same sequence. And then finally, mêlée combat, once again resolved in order of initiative. This is a slight oversimplification of the turn, as there are lots of small things that can happen inside turn sequences, such as charging into combat or disengaging from combat. Mystical Powers come into play at different times, and some of these require the figure using them to overcome a Pluck test, or otherwise fail. Combat results tend to entail ‘no effect’, a wound (normally eliminating a figure), or figure being knocked down. There are some odd effects – the yeti goes berserk when wounded for the first time, and the Society of Thule have rank-and-file troops who can be turned into zombies when they are wounded. Of course, you can design your own factions and figures with their own abilities. The rules are very comprehensive (if a little oddly laid out in places), and you will find that pretty much everything is covered – if it’s not, there is a way for you to design it! There are several sample lists, as well as squads drawn from these lists. There are short background pieces for the lists, and then, as mentioned earlier, scenario and terrain generators. There is a good set of weapons and armour types for you to equip your forces with, and a set of tables at the back of the book. Oddly enough, there is a good contents list at the start of the book, but no index at the back, so it can be annoying when you’re looking for something specific that may not be where you’d expect to find it. There are some lovely illustrations (it is an Osprey publication) and plenty of photos showing figures that were specially produced for this set of rules. We played a few small-scale games to get to grips with the system. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I met with the Brixham Berzerkers, along with a good friend from Ireland and our esteemed Editor for a five-way game: the forces
I say, not MORE mad cultists! of law and order were represented by the Metropolitan Police and the British Army; the forces of anarchy were represented by a group of Lithuanian Anarchists (any resemblance to a famous siege ends here), awaiting the delivery of a steam-powered armoured pigbomb by their German paymasters, in order to bring their evil plans to fruition. As an added element, there was a group of Millitant Suffragettes, with shock troops from the WI (‘Women’s Infantry’) led by several characters including a Pankhurst, an Earhardt, and Mystic Meg the psychic. Each faction was given a set of victory conditions, which did not necessarily lend themselves to supporting their allied faction! The game was played with the lighthearted approach that I think the rules encourage. It was a close fought thing, with the Army possibly getting the best result – they were only interested in a body count, and it didn’t much matter whose bodies! Choosing and designing the factions allowed us to try most parts of the system. There were armoured vehicles and walkers, rocket troops, Molotov cocktails, multi-storey buildings, close combat, electro weapons – in fact, pretty much everything that you might want to include. Oh, and there was a werewolf. We had also allowed for a butcher’s shop on the main street to distract him, but it never got close – in fact, he was most embarrassed when he was stunned and knocked down by a well-aimed umbrella from a member of the WI. It was good fun designing the equipment and the quirks, all of which were permitted by the rules. So, what did we find out? The sequence of play works well for small factions, but it is a little less smooth when using larger groups; dealing with one figure at a time can slow things up. We have suggested a house rule to allow groups to move en masse, if they have a com-
mander with them, which could speed up the movement element. Shooting becomes almost pointless, if you have moved and your target has too. In fact, you will become exasperated if you keep shooting long range at moving targets – or, in Rossco’s case, shooting at anything at any range! However, the Mystical Powers and Talents add an extra facet to the game, making the heroes (and villains) larger than life, as they shrug off wounds and achieve superhuman feats. IHMN is a really clever system that allows you to ‘plug and play’, and just get on with gaming the period. We feel that there are some small elements that need tweaking – the movement of larger groups is one. We’ve also looked at the possibility of bringing cards into the system, to allow some other elements to take place (the non-random, random event). Whether you are a devotee of this period or completely new to it, we wholeheartedly recommend this set of rules.
Figures from North Star. Miniatures painted and photographed by Kevin Dallimore.
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GAME REVIEWS BY FIRE AND SWORD
y first impression on receiving the review copy of By Fire and Sword was to stare slack-jawed at the sheer size of the book (around 400 pages) and the striking front cover image of a charging regiment of winged hussars. This plainly states the intended focus of the writers. If the picture of Poland’s most famous cavalry wasn’t enough, then the introductory section is no less subtle in expressly stating the writers’ desire to arouse the interest of a wider, non-Polish public in the period. The game is written with 15mm figures in mind, and the authors have produced a small supporting range. These are based in threes, with multiple bases forming units. Each commander rolls for initiative, modified by any command points ‘burnt’. Movement is facilitated by command orders from separatelybased command units, each of which has a specified number of command points (renewed each turn). You will struggle to have enough command points to do everything you want to do with your units each turn (which seems sensible, given that commands are automatically followed without need for a dice-roll). However, real problems will be experienced where units are not kept near their commanders, as additional command points are needed to issue orders over any great distance. Shooting and combat are simply resolved by passing tests on the roll of a D10, and saves are then made on a D10 by the opponent. The effectiveness of weaponry is represented by modifying the opponent’s save roll. This makes a ‘quick and easy’ system for resolving casualties without too much need for cross-referencing during play. One of the unique selling points of Fire
and Sword is that it is designed to be playable at four different sizes of game. The choice of size influences the available units for the gamer’s force, and the larger games introduce further rules regarding command structure, with the possibility of whole regiments departing whilst others fight on. The smallest size of game (‘The Foray’) is a skirmishscale encounter using a single regiment, which the authors estimate will be completed in under an hour. The army lists have a very interesting mechanism whereby the army is assembled in blocks of compulsory regiments with some additional choices. Some players may find the number of compulsory units restrictive (especially in the skirmish-sized game), but I quite like the fact that you have to field an army that resembles its historical counterpart. Too often, I have found myself on the receiving end of far more artillery than an army of a given period could possibly have fielded (cough Eoghan!). Overall, the quality of the publication is very good, especially the fantastic photography of re-enactment groups. This, together with the sheer size of the tome, goes some way to justifying the price (just shy of £40). Thankfully, the scale of
the figures should make collecting your force reasonably affordable. It would have been easy to extend the rule set to include earlier western European armies, thus capitalizing on the well-established ECW market. Instead of falling into this ‘generic’ trap, I was pleased to see that the authors have shown courage in staying true to their expressed aims, and have provided a detailed military background for their rules, which focus on their chosen period well. Possibly, a little too much space is devoted to explaining the Polish-Lithuanian forces at the expense of their opponents. However, this bias in favour of one protagonist is arguably no different from many other rule sets and makes a refreshing change from the frequent US or Anglocentric approach. In that light, I think the almost superhuman abilities of the winged lancers can perhaps be forgiven. In all, I would recommend this book to those, like myself, who have become occasionally jaded by seventeenthcentury contests decided entirely by the push of the pike. If you are looking for something just a little bit different, then this may well be the way forward.
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his set of rules was born out of a long period of development by the author, as he slowly crafted a set
of battalion rules for the Napoleonic period. Although written for 54mm and 40mm, there are guides on how to base
for 15mm, 20mm, 25mm and 30mm. Units are based on stands with a set number of figures per stand, with each
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By James Oram, Eoghan Kelly and Gary Mitchell figure representing about 100 men and roughly four stands representing a unit. Troop-types have subsets allowing for regulars, skirmishers, and irregulars, giving three types of infantry, five types of cavalry, and four types of artillery and officers. Morale, dictating the quality of your units, comes in four levels. Orders are issued to units or groups of units of the same type, which must be in the same formation to be considered part of a group. The author recommends using unique dice for the system, marking each face with a different symbol, so that the outcome of dice-rolls can be measured, but there is no reason why you cannot allocate a number on a D6 to do the same. The sequence of play is as follows (attacker first): Move officers – Throw for orders – Actions (this is the movement and mêlée section); Firing – Charges & Breakthrough. Activating units is based on a modified D6 that allows you set or self-selected unit activations through the use of ‘flags’ rolled. The system is fairly straight forward, with units taking casualties on their stands and this, in turn, affect-
ing the unit’s ability to fight, until it is ultimately removed. There are command ranges, which change with the level of the commander – a nice idea. Lots of details are covered by these rules, such as weather, tactical changes, refusing flanks, etc. The author has ensured that there are lots of examples of movement and combat, which, although fairly basic in terms of presentation, do get the message across. Throughout the book, there are a lot of illustrations of the various men and weapons from this period, although some of these are let down by
the quality of the reproduction. This is a reasonably good set of rules, aimed at giving a decent scale of battle, with brigade-sized units wheeling across the fields of Mars. I am less convinced by the three pages devoted to converting these rules to the Spanish Succession, the Seven Years War, the American War of Independence, the American Civil War, and even the colonial wars. I would have preferred a little more effort put into the presentation, and maybe a little less ambition regarding the scope of the rules.
626-9 8581818 : 97 vil ISBN : Dirk Don Press r o tizan r a Auth P : O sher Publi : IGO-UG e, t or fiv a f m 6 0 r D 0 o . F al re £10 Speci dice a . ; Dice: 0 5 . els : £16 n Mod Price r o c i Un from
nother excellent product from Crooked Dice, this time a 44page booklet detailing everything you’d want to know about the evil Dr Ulysses Argo and his mechanical creations (and quite a few things you’d rather not know, if you value a good night’s sleep). The back story: fuelled by a deep hatred of humanity, Argo uses his robotic minions to wage war against mankind. The rules, background, behind-the-scenes info and stats are all here, and I must concede that, in reading the excellently fey Radio Times entries, the word ‘cybermen’ kept springing to mind. The Argonauts have never had their own series, but pop up regularly in other 7TV shows, so they would be a useful addition for most gamers. Argo’s ‘tripod’ has VSF overtones, and the Argonauts themselves are ideal for 7th Voyage. The
‘Invasion of the Argonauts’ episode gave me pause upon reading, but I guess not saving the Prime Minister would have been negligent. This PDF is available for immediate download, and currently (July 2013) comes with a £2-off code, which can be combined with the codes from the S.H.I.V.A. and United Radionics PDFs to
make a total of up to £6 off the forthcoming Villainous Programme Guide (combining all three villainous PGs), which will be released in print in late 2013. Yep, that’s one for the Christmas list … A welcome addition to the 7TV universe.
with otton Nash r r e P arl ena es ors: K son & Hel Auth e Gam w c a i D D e d e Graem er: Crook F sh PD Publi 0 for 0 . 5 £ RRP:
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© Georgie Harman
COLUMN By Richard Clarke
Up Front A new baby
Publishing a new set of rules is, in many ways, like parenthood. You have the ‘Big Bang’ moment of conception; then, after a few tense months, you realize that a new addition is on the way. After a lengthy gestation period, you await the big day of the delivery – from the printers, in our case – and then you hope that everyone is as besotted with the new arrival as you are. With a new addition to the Lardy family due around now (and who knows exactly when it will turn up?), I find myself reaching the end of that lengthy process and reflecting on a busy year. For me, the moment of conception is clearly implanted in my mind, although we had been talking about it for a long while. The publication of our large skirmish rules for the Great War, with its emphasis on exploring the real tactics of the period, had led to an immediate clamour for us to extend the rules to cover WWII. Indeed, we were very flattered to be approached by one of the larger commercial organizations in the hobby, asking us to pen a rule set to support their growing range of figures for the Second World War. Unfortunately, my diary at the time was full to bursting point, so it was a hook-up that never occurred. There can be no doubt, however, that the seed of an idea had been planted, which was to germinate some time later. But in truth, this was merely flirtation rather than consummation. The moment of Chain of Command’s conception came one evening, after a large amount of beer and curry with the builders who were, at that time, knocking large holes in Lard Island. Indeed, it was nothing less than a ‘Eureka moment’. I woke with fevered brow and scribbled down the formula for unit activation and command and control, which can now be found in the final rules. Ordinarily, I wake up the following morning and ask myself why I bothered losing sleep over yet another vaguely unworkable idea. But occasionally, one finds a golden nugget amid the stream of dross that flows through my troubled mind. And this was it. Of course, the conception bit is always the easiest and most memorable aspect. After that, one has an extended period of uncertainty, before you know whether the whole process will run to full term or whether what seemed like such a fun idea was actually nothing more than an illusion. I have always believed that the only way to truly test out your ideas is to expose them to others. To extend our parenthood metaphor, this is the pregnancy test. In many respects, this early stage testing should be done discreetly, especially if one is developing an idea that is fresh and new (always more of a danger than simply rehashing a tried-and-tested model,
but, to my mind, more exciting). With a project of that type, you really want to be sure, before you announce the pending arrival to the world. Indeed, it is this early testing stage where one is most reliant on input from people who can be trusted to tell the truth. I have known a good few wargamers attempt to develop their ideas in a vacuum, only to end up with something that is a product of their own enthusiasm and love, but is, in truth, an ugly baby that is growing up to be a monster. Sadly, like doting parents, they are blind to any fault. In the old days, when printing a set of rules on the Gestetner cost a tenner and you distributed them to your club mates, this was a situation that would, at worst, cause some irritation when nobody else loved your offspring. Nowadays, as an approach to a commercial venture, it is financial suicide. Believe me, you need to know, early on, if anyone else will love your baby. So show your friends and ask for blunt and even brutal feedback. It will do you real favours in the short term, let alone the long term. At this point, everyone knows what is coming. But, in truth, we don’t know exactly what the end product will look like. By now, we should have established that the core of the system works, but how we express every different aspect of the game system will still be up in the air. This is the point where we really start play-testing – not just with our group of honest chums, but with a broad range of volunteers across the globe. Indeed, the more remote the better. With this team in place, we can expand the rules from the basic core concepts, such as firing and movement, and look at fleshing out the system to the point where it becomes a complete set of rules, as opposed to simply the kernel of an idea. This involves us in lots of historical research to get key data on weapons and the realities of troop performance. With this base of facts in place, we can devote our time to developing the rules mechanisms in the way that we think works best. Which means what? Well, there are a hundred-and-one ways to skin a cat, and this is where the game designer should earn his corn. At the most basic level, we could have a system where 50 per cent of shots to hit did so, and that a saving throw of 1-3 would mean that in all 25 per cent of hits were kills. Counter to that, we could simply roll percentage dice, with 25 per cent or less being the total required to kill. The former requires more dice to be rolled than the latter, but it does mean that both players are active in that combat – one rolling to hit, one to save. Which one makes for the better game?
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12, when it goes haywire. In that instance, I had devoted a month’s work to this aspect of the rules, and the realization that they weren’t fit for purpose was a painful one. But that’s what play-testing is all about. I always think that trying something new and failing is better than not trying anything new at all. The final stage of this gargantuan journey is the formatting of the rules for the printer. Whilst your play-test rules are ‘finished’, you will probably need a complete rewrite at this stage to get everything presented in an easy-to-digest manner. We tend to keep some fresh play-testers up our sleeve to unleash on the rules at this late stage, just to make sure all is ship-shape and that the text we are using is not just clear, but well structured. Then it’s a frantic round of photography, artwork and design, and proof-reading, before it’s off to the printer.
Participation games were key in developing Chain of Command. In truth, these examples are simplistic in the extreme, but this is where the game designer spends the bulk of his time – not examining the end result, but the means by which that result is achieved. This will determine how much fun the game will be to play and consequently how popular it will be. To a degree, these are issues that will be affected by fashions within the hobby, as much as anything else. This is where exposure to a wide play-test group really reaps the benefit. The initial scan group will, by definition, tend to be your mates or your local gaming group, and their experiences may be limited to the games you run. Now, exposure to a wider group of people who are not benefitting from your input as the umpiring author is essential. You know what you mean when you write your rules, but does the reader who lives on the other side of the world? In addition to the more formal test group made up of volunteers on four continents, I have spent the past eight months taking Chain of Command round the shows and clubs in the UK, from London to Edinburgh, Cardiff, and all points in between. It’s been a great way to get feedback and ideas, and it’s forced us to be on our game from a very early stage in the design process. It can be very easy to get too attached to certain mechanisms. “Listen to your play-testers”, is the message here. These are the real barometer of what works and what will be popular. I found myself wedded to a rather new and exciting game mechanism during our recent play-testing, and a very slick and impressive mechanism it was, too. It was only when our playtest groups in Devon and New Jersey started waving a few flags that we really set to and tested the concept to its limits, and discovered that, at the extremities, it broke down – a bit like a 2D6 bell curve, where all the results work unless you roll 2 or
I was running a demo game at the Sudbury Club in Sussex last week when one chap asked me what I did when the rules were complete. I told him I got drunk for a month. It’s a lovely idea, but it sadly doesn’t work that way. As soon as we are happy with the printer’s proofs, we put the rules on advanced order. Addressing several thousand envelopes by hand is one of the less enjoyable aspects of that period between the rules going to the printer and publication day, and the constant examining of printer’s proofs and last minute proof-reading continues right up to the day the presses run. There is a real sense of excitement when the first boxes of rules arrive. This is the moment when you can really cast your eye on the newborn. Having done the real baby thing a couple of times, I can tell you that, whilst the moment is not quite as magical, it does come close – and the great advantage is that the rule books have much better manners than screaming infants. Thank God. To speed up the process, I tend to drive up to collect the first thousand or so off the line, so that I can get long-distance overseas orders out in advance of the publication date. For a week, the office is literally stacked with mail sacks marked up for different locations. And then the worst is over ... or so you hope. Now comes that seemingly eternal wait for your customers to get the rules and for feedback to start. In particular the wellmeant comment that on page 76 you have used a colon when a semi-colon would have been better. This is that ‘Your baby has lovely red hair, just like the milkman’ remark that all new fathers dread. For me this is the worst part of rule publishing; it is a dagger plunged into ones heart. We all know that our offspring are not going to be perfect, but sometimes it would be nice if people didn’t point it out the first time we took them out in public! It is only at this point that I do contemplate getting drunk for a month, however by the next day my hangover is normally so bad I abort that idea, return to my desk, spring clean the office and look to the next project. It’s the circle of life for a wargame designer...
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BOARDGAMES REVIEWS By Lance Robertson & Chris Payne
RUTHENIA Byzantium versus the Rus Ruthenia is a Latin rendering of the ancient place name Rus. The game is set in the seventh to eleventh centuries, and involves Byzantium (the Eastern Roman Empire) and its neighbours the Khazar Khaganate, the Bulgarian Khanate, and the Principality of Kievan Rus. Technically first released in 2010, when 12 copies were made available, the game got a major release at the Essen Boardgames Fair in 2012.
The main board in full. The Ukranian designer, Denys Lonshakov, envisages the game played at two levels. At the political level, it is about building up and conquering new territories, directing your armies, giving orders, conducting politics, and using the special abilities of your commanders and political action cards. On the military level, you are the commander of your armies in battle. Armies on the political map are represented by a counter showing their leader. The game ends when one of the following conditions is met: • a player controls eight provinces • a player controls the home province of another player • a player has 25 or more victory points (VPs) The aim of the game is to accumulate the most victory points (VPs). Ties are broken by the player who has the most provinces and then the most money. Players who have lost their home province cannot win. Each round, each player earns one VP for each province they control, for each charitable donation they make, for each battle they win, and for every two enemy military units they destroy; a further 5 points are earned for conquering the home province of another player.
Some action cards give VPs. Players lose VPs for retreating before a battle is over, for failing to pay the upkeep of mercenaries, and for some action cards played against them. Each player begins with the same resources: one province, two coins and two generals, each with one troop-type, chosen from a set unique to their faction. Each army is represented on the political map board by the army counter. Each general is unique and has two or three special characteristics to aid the various orders he can be given. Successful use of the planning phase of the game is the key to winning. Players choose between constructing fortifications, markets, temples and fleets, hiring new generals, recruiting soldiers and mercenaries, and buying tactics Nomad and Archer cards. cards, as well as raiding or conquering neighbouring provinces. Each turn, players also gain action cards, but a player may never hold more than six. Action cards are used to gain money or VPs, reduce other players’ VPs, and bribe Slavs or Nomads to attack an opponent, increase the strength of a troop card in battle, and interfere with your opponent’s battle plans. Provinces provide income and victory points, but they need to be defended with armies. Most provinces are neutral and players need to expand quickly to stop their opponents conquering too many provinces. But at the same time, they also need to raise money to carry out the other actions mentioned, if they are going to be able to hold onto all their provinces. Whilst planning is important, effective use of armies and fleets determines the outcome of the game. Movement is normally only across one province, but fleets can allow longer moves on rivers or seas, leading to an attack on a poorly defended province. Players take it in turns to give an order to an army or a fleet. An army can be ordered to conquer, raid, support, or relocate by placing a movement counter token on the board, with the actual order placed face down, and the army counter placed on top. If the order also involves being transported by a fleet, the movement counter is placed on the fleet and the army on the movement order. Otherwise, fleets are given orders by moving the fleet counter to its destination, in order to attack an enemy fleet or support one of your own fleets. Once all players have passed, players reveal conquest and raid orders simultaneously. Players then play ‘cancel army order’ cards face down
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or pass. Depending on the card played, these will either cancel an order or be a bluff. Whether you play before or after another player in the turn order may determine whether now is a good time to attack or whether it is safer to defend.
his peril. The Slavs and Nomads do not wait to be attacked – in one game I played, a player lost his home province to a Slav army! These rules ensure that the game is good with 2, 3 or 4 players.
Battles are fought between armies in the same province. A battle is resolved as a series of clashes equal to the number of troop cards in the smaller army. Players form a battle-line of two front line cards (each representing a unit) and Roman and Sailor cards. one reserve card. The reserve card will be used to replace a unit card used in the clash and it is then replaced, providing the player has more troop cards in hand. To resolve a clash, each player chooses one card from the front line to fight, with the higher points total winning and ultimately destroying the other troop card. Points are derived from base attack or defence values, modified by any situational bonus (e.g. cavalry fighting infantry or a particular opponent) plus tactics cards, support cards (e.g. garrisons, sailors or archers), action cards, and a general’s particular bonus. A tactics card is not guaranteed to be effective, as it will require a successful dice roll to be used. A retreat option is available to enable a player to preserve his troops to fight another day.
In battle, victory goes immediately to the side that wins three clashes in a row, regardless of army size. Otherwise, the side which wins the most clashes wins the battle. On balance, the side possessing the most troop cards at the start of the battle is likely to win, as each extra troop card counts as if another clash had been won. Defeated troop cards on both sides are removed from their respective armies. In practice, clashes are completed quite quickly, as usually neither side has significant resources to enhance their troop cards. The exception is towards the end of the game, when a player may deliberately hoard combat resources, in the hope of delivering a winning blow. Additional rules cover combat and movement for the Slavs and Nomads (who are never players) and any faction not being played. This is a game of strategies, tactics and resource management. Gaining provinces is easy; holding them is another matter.
LIKES The rules are quite complex in places, but they are well laid out and fully explained. (The orders and combat rules are simpler to carry out than to try to explain in a review!) The end conditions ensure that the game is a variable length, but with a finite end. There is the continual threat of wandering Nomads or Slavs interfering with your best laid plans. The rules for the Slavs and Nomads and for non-player factions (if there are fewer than 4 players) work very well. These nonplayers are not easy to defeat, and a player ignores them at
The text on the action cards is a little small, not helped by the fact that it is printed on a coloured background. Also, the cards in the decks can stick together initially. And it is confusing that the faction symbols on each player’s mat match the turn-order symbols on the board, but don’t match the symbols on the counters used to mark which provinces a player controls.
CONCLUSION Every game is different – for every winning strategy, there is a counter strategy. There are elements of resource management, bluffing (card play), and a little luck (dice rolls on tactical cards). The Slavs and Nomads (along with any faction not being played) will disrupt plans. The quality of the components is good and I imagine they will stand up to repeated play, whilst the artwork on the troop and general cards is visually stunning. The English rules appear to be well written and organized, with plentiful examples and illustrations.
A close-up of the main board.
eks r: 2Ge e h m is l ks.co Pub o-gee w .t w ww s: 2-4 inutes Player 120 m : h t g Len + m x Age: 13 (46.5c ound r a o b c game ction 56 fa unted , o ement s v m r o e 1 t oun nts: , 16 m e c s t r n y e o t m C counar oun action m), 20 truction c f c vent r .5 e 2 y 5 tion e ons -pla c n c a o f 8 n 4 5 0 r , 2 ters, ers, 3 mande nters count 0 com n cou 2 ar l io , t u s g s d order 16 re xhau r car , e e s d d 18 r r o , ca 2 ters ancel ds, 7 troop , 40 c s car main ic r t a l c cards , a u t s eg sheet s, 30 , 24 r mary t card cards r m o u p s p , 5 su book. 4 dice troop ards, battle c 1 n d n io act ook a tegy b 1 stra 0 €50.0 Price:
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BOOK REVIEWS THE WAR OF HORUS AND SET I was a little worried when I was given this title – as I thought I was being given some sort of ‘source book’ for a games system. So, I was pleasantly surprised that it turned out to be much, much more than I was expecting. This is, in fact, a very good primer for Egyptian Mythology and the crucial and key conflict within its pantheon, that between Horus and Set. Set was the God of Upper Egypt and Horus his nephew who was God of Lower Egypt. As with any of these legends, the Gods and Goddesses display plenty of human weaknesses and failings, with paranoia, plotting, murder and revolts being the norm. In fact there’s little to set them apart from humans, who were used as pawns in their grand schemes. Set, for instance, displays a lust for power in spades, attempting to murder his brother several times – it has to be said he
actually does murder his brother several times, but as he is a God he gets resurrected each time – but then his brother is not the smartest of Gods – and this comes to light as you read the story. I was aware of some of the Gods and Goddesses in this story, but this is a well written version, making the whole thing seem as real as it probably did to the average Egyptian in the 5th Dynasty. The book is an interesting mix of mythological legend, historical narrative and social commentary. You could use this if you wanted a new use for your Old Kingdom Armies, or if you just want a very entertaining read about something you may not know much about. Either way, I would recommend this book.
tee g Ltd McIn id v a D blishin : u r prey P o h y 3/Os Aut spre s O d n : e r g e h Le Publis s and Myth : s ie Ser 02-2 tures 096-9 8 7 Adven 1: 978 ISBN 9 .9 10 £ : Price
THE NAZI OCCULT I really and genuinely did not know what to expect when I was handed this book to review. I had a dim awareness of some of the occult connections that were associated with some of the slightly more eccentric parts of the Third Reich but knew very little of it. This book contrast sharply with the legends series. The Legends are strictly based on the original stories behind a legend. In this ‘Dark Osprey’, the author has taken a lot of semi factual information and then entertainingly expanded this into a fictional narrative story about the Nazi’s occult ‘programme’. This interesting approach includes Himmler and various shadowy organisations that discovered the Ark of the Covenant, the Spear of Destiny, fantastical technologies and bizarre underworld Aryan kingdoms working with the Nazis. The stuff of the archaeologist Doctor Jones indeed! The style is entertaining and the book is written in such a way that it is hard to see where the factual ends and the fantasti-
cal starts. As such this is an entertaining book from the point of view of the ‘what if’ and also a clever source book for those of you who game alternative WWII games (especially the Weird War stories) but also could be attached to the Tannhauser games concept (an alternative WWI game where the Great War is still going on in 1946). I enjoyed the book as I like alternate histories/realities for some games periods, and this also gave me some interesting insights into Aryan myth and legend. Some photos are edited or altered to fit the storyline, but they lend a clever authenticity to the whole volume. There is a reference section to various stories, films and games companies – so it has been written very much with the gamer in mind. There are some clever side stories that could lead to some interesting games and also a cliff hanger moment where the book ends with….. well that’s for you to read!
d Hite ing Lt neth n e K : ublish ey r P o h y t e Au spr spr her: O sprey I/O Publis O k : Dar Series 598-7 tures 80967 Adven 1: 978 ISBN 9 : £10.9 Price
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By Eoghan Kelly and Guy Bowers
PANZER KILLERS & RED ARMY TANK COMMANDER These two excellent books deal with the real life stories of veterans of the Great Patriotic War (1941-45). Panzer Killers is compiled from a series of interviews with anti tank crewmen. Each tells their unique stories and recollections in each chapter from a first person perspective. Some of these narratives are accompanied by diagrams of the actions the veterans were involved in, which are ideal from a wargaming perspective, as they translate almost directly to the tabletop. Red Army Tank Commander is Vasiliy Bryukhov’s personal story of heroism against the Nazis and the occasional political battles involving his own side. All of the stories are very human in nature, they tell of their comradeship, battle experiences and personal loss. There is a fair bit of technical detail included in the narratives, including gun positioning and battery tactics. The combat actions
give a good sense of what the life of a soldier is like (mostly the drudgery of travelling, preparing positions, with the occasional terror of combat). There are several incidences where the narrator ends up being injured in battle and taken behind the lines. Bryukhov tells of one occasion where his depleted tank platoon is ordered to push forward even though he knows it’s certain death against the well prepared Germans. Given the alternative (court martial and execution), he obeys his orders and is lucky to escape when his tank is destroyed. Most of his crew are less lucky. These accounts are not ‘flag waving’ stories of how great the Soviet Union was, but to the point, gritty and realistic. If the Eastern Front and the Soviet Army is your interest, these two books will speak volumes.
in Drabk Artem y b hov. Killers n) Bryuk anzer Britto y P il t : s r r a a o u y V Auth by St der b mman slated n o a C r White T k ( ck & y Tan a ord l m r w B A S h Red en & ck wit her: P ardba h e g a Publis p at: 214 Form res pictu 9 : £15.9 e Pric
ARMIES OF FRANCE & THE ALLIES The Armies of France and the Allies is the sixth supplement for the Bolt Action game. It gives detailed army lists for the French, Dutch, Belgians, Norwegians, Greeks and Partisans. Like its predecessors, it follows the now familiar format of a mix of excellent quality illustrations from Osprey and good pictures from Warlord. As with the last book Armies of Imperial Japan, this is new territory not covered by the original rulebook, so there can be no accusation (however wrong) of repetition. Each of the forces has its own brief history of their involvement in World War 2 followed by special rules (apt and well balanced) and a list of squads, equipment and vehicles available, followed by ‘Theatre selectors’. The French get the most comprehensive treatment with the myriad of French tanks covered (everything from an FT 17 to a Char B and FCM 2C) and armoured cars (including AMC Schneider). There are several good units, including Division Légère, Legion Étranger, Senegalese and Goumier troops. Theatre lists are provided for the fall of France and Vichy France. The Belgians and Dutch are briefly but comprehensively covered (including a Dutch East Indies list for fighting the Japanese) as are the Norwegians and Greeks. The Polish list
is a little longer with a good list of all their forces (including cavalry) and armour. The Partisan list at the end is a fairly generic list to cover all Partisan forces in the occupied territories both east and west. While at first this seems curious, it sort of makes sense and there is enough variety in the text to make up a variety of forces from Tito’s partisans and the Polish home army. The special rules feel very balanced and give a good feel of the ‘national characteristic’ of each nation. For example, one of the French rules encourages players to take several conscript units to get a ‘free’ conscript unit. While primarily an early war 1939-41 book, the Vichy and Resistance lists take these lists to 1944-45. This book is definitely a must for the player who fancies something different and exotic to take on the Germans, Japanese or other Axis forces (who are due their own book shortly).
s other ley & arlord t s W ie / r g P in k h ic is l or: R y Pub Auth Ospre : r e tback h r sof Publis u o l o ll c s ge fu Game 110 pa : t a Form 9 : £15.9 Price
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