Zvezda’s Art of Tactic games: A way forward for my Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War project?

Over the past few weeks I have been doing a lot of thinking about how best to approach starting work on my Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War project. One possibility that I have been considering is to take a simple quick-start short-cut … and buy a copy of Zveda’s ‘Art of Tactic’ OPERATION BARBAROSSA game.

The game components are compatible with my PORTABLE WARGAME rules. I know this because I previously owned a copy, but in what now strikes me as a fit of madness, I passed it on to another wargamer, along with a stack of unmade models that I had bought to go with it.

In terms of figures and vehicles, the basic game contains:

  • 1 x Pzkpfw II tank
  • 1 x Pzkpfw III tank
  • 1 x Opel Blitz truck
  • 3 x Bases of German infantry
  • 1 x Base of German assault engineers
  • 1 x German machine gun crew
  • 1 x Ju87 Stuka dive-bomber
  • 1 x 81mm mortar and crew
  • 1 x German HQ
  • 1 x T-34/76 tank
  • 1 x Zis-5 truck
  • 3 x Bases of Russian infantry
  • 1 x Russian machine gun and crew
  • 1 x Russian 82mm mortar and crew
  • 1 x 45mm anti-tank gun and crew
  • 1 x 37mm anti-aircraft gun and crew
  • 1 x Russian HQ

The terrain items in the box include:

  • 6 x double-sided six by four hexed terrain boards (they are actually five hexes plus two half hexes by four hexes)
  • 30 x double-sided single terrain hexes
  • 6 x hill hexes
  • 1 x Pillbox
  • 2 x Dragon’s teeth anti-tank obstacles
  • 4 x Sets of barbed wire
  • 1 x Pontoon bridge

In addition, I already have soome models I had bought some years ago during a visit to the Artillery Museum in St Petersburg. These include:

  • 1 x T-26 tank
  • 2 x T-34/76 (mod.43) tanks
  • 2 x 45mm anti-tank guns and crew
  • 2 x 76mm infantry guns and crew
  • 2 x 122mm M-30 howitzers and crew
  • 2 x 85mm anti-aircraft guns and crew

Since the first game came out, Zvezda have added several additional sets to the range including the ‘Art of Tactic’ TANK COMBAT game.

This set comprises:

  • 1 x Pzkpfw II tanks
  • 1 x Pzkpfw 38(t) tanks
  • 1 x Pzkpfw IV tanks
  • 1 x BT-5 tanks
  • 1 x T-26 tanks
  • 1 x T-34/76 (mod.40) tanks
  • 1 x double-sided four by three hexed terrain boards (they are actually four hexes by two hexes plus two half hexes)

The other two widely available games are Zveda’s ‘Art of Tactic’ BATTLE FOR MOSCOW …

and BATTLE OF STALINGRAD …

… games.

The former contains:

  • 1 x Pzkpfw III ausf.G tank
  • 1 x Pzkpfw IV ausf.D tank
  • 1 x StuG ausf.B assault gun
  • 3 x Bases of German infantry in winter uniform
  • 1 x German machine gun crew in winter uniform
  • 1 x 81mm mortar and crew in winter uniform
  • 1 x German motorcycle and sidecar
  • 1 x German HQ in winter uniform
  • 1 x T-35 tank
  • 1 x Base of Russian infantry in winter uniform
  • 2 x Bases of Russian militia infantry
  • 1 x Base of Russian ski infantry
  • 1 x Russian machine gun and crew in winter uniform
  • 1 x Russian 82mm mortar and crew in winter uniform
  • 1 x 85mm anti-aircraft gun and crew
  • 1 x Russian HQ in winter uniform
  • 6 x double-sided six by four hexed snowy terrain boards (they are actually five hexes plus two half hexes by four hexes)
  • 30 x double-sided single terrain snowy hexes
  • 6 x hill hexes
  • 1 x Pillbox
  • 2 x Dragon’s teeth anti-tank obstacles
  • 4 x Sets of barbed wire
  • 1 x Pontoon bridge
  • 8 x Smoke markers
  • 2 x Fire markers

The latter contains:

  • 1 x Pzkpfw IV tank
  • 1 x Base of German infantry in winter uniform
  • 1 x 75mm anti-tank gun and crew
  • 1 x 81mm mortar and crew in winter uniform
  • 1 x German HQ in winter uniform
  • 1 x T-34/76 tank
  • 1 x Base of Russian infantry in winter uniform
  • 1 x Russian anti-tank team
  • 1 x 76mm Zis-3 anti-tank gun and crew
  • 1 x Russian HQ in winter uniform
  • 3 x double-sided six by four hexed terrain boards, two of which are snowy (they are actually five hexes plus two half hexes by four hexes)
  • 1 x Pillbox
  • 2 x Dragon’s teeth anti-tank obstacles
  • 4 x Sets of barbed wire
  • 1 x Pontoon bridge
  • 6 x Smoke markers
  • 2 x Fire markers

By buying most or all of the above I could quickly ‘kick-start’ my Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War project into life … and it is certainly an option I need to think about some more.

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Small Wars: New Perspectives on Wargaming Counter Insurgency on the Tabletop

It seems to be my week for acquiring new books. On Friday the latest addition to John Curry’s ‘History of Wargaming’ Project arrived … David Wayne Thomas’s SMALL WARS: NEW PERSPECTIVES ON WARGAMING COUNTER INSURGENCY ON THE TABLETOP.

I have known the author ever since he joined Wargame Developments many years ago, and he is a regular attendee (and session provider) at the annual Conference of Wargamers. As a result I have seen in operation (and taken part in) some the games featured in this book, and I can assure anyone who buys and uses the rules therein that they will enjoy some thought-provoking and well-designed games.

Besides a Foreword written by Brian Train (who is probably the foremost designer of counter insurgency board wargames), the books has six separate rules for COIN games:

  • Company Level Actions in the Early 21st Century: Boots on the Ground (by John Armatys)
  • An Isolated Outpost: Six Months in the Sahara
  • Soviet involvement in Afghanistan: Eight Years in a Distant Country
  • Counter-Insurgency in South West Africa
  • The Irish Troubles 1920-21: Flying Column
  • LBJ’s War 1965-68: Good Morning Vietnam!

The book also contains an extensive list of COIN games and rules as well as a five-page bibliography.


The book is published by the ‘History of Wargaming’ Project, and costs £12,95 plus postage and packing (ISBN 978 0 244 65183 1).

A birthday present to myself

It was my birthday earlier this week, an as a small present to myself I bought a copy of KURSK 1943: THE SOUTHERN FRONT by Robert Forczyk.

I already have the earlier KURSK 1943: THE NORTHERN FRONT by same author (which I thoroughly enjoyed), and seemed like a good idea to buy this companion book. I hope to read it over the next few days, and to get some inspiration for my long-planned Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War project.


KURSK 1943: THE SOUTHERN FRONT was written by Robert Forczyk and illustrated by Graham Turner. It was published by Osprey Publishing in 2017 as No.305 in their ‘Campaign’ series (ISBN 978 1 4728 1690 0).

Soldiers of the Queen (SOTQ): Issue 169

The latest copy of SOTQ (Soldiers of the Queen, the quarterly journal of the Victorian Military Society) was delivered whilst on Saturday, and I finished reading it last night.

The articles included in this issue are:

  • Burnaby’s Deadly Weapon: A recent addition to the Household Cavalry Museum’s collection by Christopher Joll
  • Guards Mounted Infantry in South Africa, 1901-02 by Dr Andrew Windrow
  • VMS Seminar: Invasions Scares and the ‘Battle of Dorking’
  • Diehards commemorate Zulu War Hero
  • Alexis Soyer visits the British Military Cemetery at Haidar Pasha by Dr Mike Hinton
  • British Army General and Generalship, 1837-1902: A review of recent literature by Dr Harold E Raugh, Jr.
  • Book Reviews
  • About the VMS

Yet another issue that was full of interesting articles. As Frederick Burnaby is a particular hero of mine, the first article in this issue was of great interest to me, and the advertisement for the forthcoming seminar reminded me that I really ought to consider booking a place.


Royal Arsenal Museum 2017: Ship Models: Early armoured ships

The Royal Arsenal Museum (or Tøjhusmuseet) in Copenhagen has a large collection of ship models on display, including a number of early armoured ships.

Dannebrog (Steam-powered Ironclad)

Dannebrog was originally built in 1853 as a ship-of-the-line, and was converted into an ironclad frigate between 1862 and 1864. When first converted she armed with 14 x 60-pounder rifled guns and 3 x 18-pounder rifled guns, but this was changed in 1865 to 6 x 60-pounder rifled guns and 8 x 24-pounder rifled guns. She was decommissioned in 1875, and was then used a training ship and floating barracks.

Rolf Krake (Turret ship)

Designed by Captain Coles and built by R. Napier & Sons, Glasgow, Scotland in 1863. She was originally armed with 4 x 60-pounder rifled guns (two in each turret), but later she was rearmed and carried 2 x 8″ guns (two in each turret), 2 x 3″ guns, and 4 x 37mm Hotchkiss revolving cannons. She took and active part in the 2nd Schleswig War and was finally decommissioned in 1907.

Falster (Gunboat)

Built by the Royal Naval Shipyard, Copenhagen between 1873 and 1874, she was originally armed with 1 x 10″ gun and 2 x 4-pounder rifled guns, but later rearmed with 1 x 57mm rapid-firing gun and 6 x 37mm automatic cannons. After active service during the First World War, she was decommissioned in 1919, renamed Holger and converted into a dredger.

Helgoland (Armoured Ship/Ironclad Monitor)

Built by the Royal Naval Shipyard, Copenhagen between 1876 and 1878, she was originally armed with 1 × 12″ gun, 4 × 10.2″ guns, and 5 × 4.7″ guns, but the 4.7″ guns were later removed and replaced by 2 x 57mm rapid-firing guns, 4 x 37mm Hotchkiss revolving cannons, 3 x 37mm rapid-firing guns, 2 x 8mm machine guns, 2 x 15″ torpedo tubes (in the bows), and 2 x 14″ torpedo tubes. She was decommissioned in 1907 and scrapped.

Tordenskold (Armoured Ship/Torpedo Ram)

Built by the Royal Naval Shipyard, Copenhagen between 1879 and 1880, she was originally armed with 1 × 14″ gun, 4 × 4.7″ guns, 4 x 37mm Hotchkiss revolving cannons, 1 x 15″ torpedo tube (in the bows), and 3 x 14″ torpedo tubes. At a later date 2 x 37mm rapid-firing guns, 2 additional Hotchkiss revolving cannons, and 2 x 8mm machine guns were added. She was decommissioned in 1908 and scrapped.

Iver Hvitfeld (Armoured Ship/Coastal Defence Battleship)

Built by the Royal Naval Shipyard, Copenhagen between 1886 and 1887, she was armed with 2 × 10.2″ guns, 4 × 4.7″ guns, 2 x 57mm rapid-firing guns, 6 x 37mm Hotchkiss revolving cannons, 2 x 37mm rapid-firing guns, 2 x 8mm machine guns, 1 x 15″ torpedo tube (in the bows), and 3 x 14″ torpedo tubes. She was decommissioned in 1919.

Valkyrien (Cruiser)

Built by the Royal Naval Shipyard, Copenhagen between 1886 and 1888, she was armed with 2 × 8.2″ guns, 6 × 5.9″ guns, 4 x 57mm rapid-firing guns, 6 x 37mm rapid-firing guns, 2 x 8mm machine guns, and 5 x 15″ torpedo tube (two in the bows, one in the stern, and two amidships). She was rearmed in 1915, after which she carried 2 × 8.2″ guns, 6 × 75mm guns, 2 x 57mm rapid-firing guns, 2 x 37mm rapid-firing guns, and 3 x 15″ torpedo tube (two in the bows and one in the stern). She spent the latter years of her service as a training ship, and was decommissioned in 1923.


The Soldier

During a short visit to a local discount bookshop, I bought a copy of Chris McNab’s book entitled THE SOLDIER for £5.00. The book was published in 2016 by Parragon, and was originally priced at £16.00.

The book is split into three sections, and each section is divided into three chapters.

  • Section One: Global Conflict and Revolution
    • The Seven Year’s War
    • The American Revolution
    • The Napoleonic Wars
  • Section Two: The Age of Empire and Statehood
    • The American Civil War
    • Colonial Wars
    • Wars of Empire and Unification
  • Section Three: The World Wars and Modern Conflict
    • World War I
    • World War II
    • The Modern Era

Whilst this might not be the most definitive study of what it was like to be a soldier over the past two hundred and sixty years, it has some interesting illustrations. It is certainly worth £5.00 of anyone’s money … although personally I wouldn’t have paid full price for it.


Soldiers of the Queen (SOTQ): Issue 168

The latest copy of SOTQ (Soldiers of the Queen, the quarterly journal of the Victorian Military Society) was delivered whilst I was on my most recent cruise, and I have only just had a chance to read it.

The articles included in this issue are:

  • Avenging the Martyr: Markham’s Raid on Nukapu by Frank Jastrzembski
  • Tirah Campaign Veterans: Post-Discharge Experiences by John Sly
  • ‘A very disastrous engagement’: The Battle of iSandlwana re-enactment 2017 by Tim Rose
  • Private Patrick Walsh, 45th Regiment, and his badge by Brett Hendey
  • ‘Florence Nightingale before the Royal Commission’: Some observations on the essay by David Snape by Mike Hinton
  • Book Reviews
  • About the VMS

Yet another issue that was full of interesting and somewhat different articles. I found the article about the lives of the Torah Campaign Veterans particularly interesting because I have some idea about the amount of genealogical research such an article must have taken.

Inside the journal was a flyer advertising the VMS Seminar that will be held in May 2018. It is entitled ‘Invasions Scares and the ‘Battle of Dorking’ and I must admit that I am sorely tempted to go if it is at all possible.