Miniature Wargames Issue 414

After some considerable thought, I decided to renew my subscription to MINIATURE WARGAMES for a further three months. As a result I received the latest issue by post yesterday, and have now had the opportunity to read it.

The articles included in this issue are:

  • Welcome (i.e. the editorial) by John Treadaway
  • Forward observer
  • Send three and fourpence: Good things in small packages by Conrad Kinch
  • Frontier Warfare: Part Two – Rules and Strategies by Chris Jarvis
  • Reinventing an old friend: Part Two by Jon Sutherland
  • Customs Office: Scenery building using 4Ground models and stuff from the scrap box by Roger Dixon
  • Darker Horizons
    • Fantasy Facts
    • Remember the Maine! To Hell with Spain!: Aerial Adventures in an Alternative World by Tony Francis
    • Uhtred and the Fire Dragon by Gordon Lawrence
  • Wargaming My Way by Dave Tuck
  • Creighton Abram’s War: Fast-play microscale World War II rules for Battalion/Brigade Level wargames by Robert Piepenbrink
  • Recce
  • Tower of Balsa: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Show report: Claymore 2017 by John Treadaway
  • Club Directory

So what did I enjoy in this issue?

  1. Well it goes without saying that as Conrad Kinch’s Send three and fourpence was written about his use of my PORTABLE WARGAME rules, it came out top! His article shows how easy it was for him to create his own version of the game, and his suggested rule changes to make them suitable for re-fighting American Civil War battles make a lot of sense. Furthermore he has included three short scenarios that I will certainly copy and use at some point.
  2. The second part of Chris Jarvis’s Frontier Warfare came a close second …
  3. … with Robert Piepenbrink’s Creighton Abram’s War coming third. I don’t think that I will stop using my own World War II rules and start fighting battles with these, but it was nice to see someone designing a set of rules for a game that can be fought on a small tabletop.

Not an outstanding issue, but good enough to justify my decision to re-subscribe.

The one downside of this magazine is the continued presence of the Club Directory section. In my opinion it is an utter waste of paper … and should NOT be in every issue!


A copy of the Derby Worlds 2017 Tabletop Wargaming Convention Official Show Guide also came with this issue.

I won’t be going to the convention (competitive wargaming has never held any attractions for me, in addition to which it is quite a journey to get there from where I live), but it was nice to see what demonstration and participation wargames be available to see and/or take part in.

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Not Quite Mechanised (NQM)

When I rediscovered my ‘lost’ scratch-built/modified vehicles I was reminded of Chris Kemp’s NQM (NOT QUITE MECHANISED) wargame rules, which were the direct progenitor of Tim Gow’s MEGABLITZ. Chris has always been a prominent advocate of the use of scratch-built/modified models of vehicles that are not or were not readily available to buy ‘off the shelf’, and has – over the years – produced some wonderfully robust models that certainly looked the part even if they were not 100% accurate.

I first met Chris thirty five years ago (!) at the inaugural Conference of Wargamers. The conference was organised by the late Paddy Griffith and was entitled ‘New Directions In Wargaming’. It was held at Moor Park College near Farnham, Surrey, over the weekend of 23rd to 25th May 1980. Even then Chris was trying to devise a wargame that allowed players to fight wargames at the sort of level that military historians wrote World War II campaign histories about, and over the years this endeavour coalesced into what became NQM (NOT QUITE MECHANISED.

Eventually Chris turned his pile of notes into a set of rules entitled PANZERBLITZ … OR NOT QUITE MECHANISED … and I am lucky enough to actually own a copy of them. (I actually own Copy No.1 of 20, and it occupies a special place in my collection of wargame rules.)

As stated on the cover, the rules came with their own ‘Free Playsheet’.

Since then the rules have continued to evolve, and the current draft of the rules (or what Chris prefers to call the NQM Umpire Guidelines) can be found on his blog. His blog also contains the battle reports from his ongoing re-fight of the German invasion of Russia … although the tabletop Germans were – until recently – doing better than their historical counterparts.


My Hungarian World War II army … and other ‘finds’

Inside a file box that I found in one of the crates that was in the shed was a small Hungarian World War II army.

I created this army at a time when I was considering using Frank Chadwick’s COMMAND DECISION rules, and they represent a Hungarian Infantry Regiment with some supporting artillery. In the end I never used the rules, and the figures went into storage … although I have vague memories of having lent them to another wargamer for a time.

The figures were originally Spanish Civil War infantry that were sculpted by the late Dave Allsop. I modified some of them so that I could field heavy machine guns, machine gun crews, and gunners . I also scratch-built a field gun and a light anti-tank gun, which I used as masters from which I was able to create a silicon rubber mould.

The bases are looking a little ‘sad’, but I think that it will be possible to rebase the figures so that I can use them for my Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War project.


I have also made some other ‘finds’ during the great sort out. These include a number of 1960s/1970s-era pre-assembled and painted model British military vehicles manufactured and sold by Denzil Skinner …

… and a complete hard plastic 1920s/1930s-era wargames army created with figures from Fijumi, trucks from an unknown model railways supplier, artillery tractors scratch-built from Airfix US half-tracks, light tanks scratch-built from various bit and pieces, and artillery scratch-built from Airfix Napoleonic field guns and a Napoleonic board game.


The Shed: The big sort out continues

The big sort out continues. Since I wrote yesterday’s blog entry I have continued to empty crates and to sort out what I am going to keep, what I am going to pass on to other people (either as gifts or via eBay, and what I am going to have to throw away.

The latter category includes some of the plastic model kits that were stored in the shed. For an as-yet-unknown reason some of the kits that were moulded in very dark grey or black plastic have apparently melted during storage. When I opened the packaging they had been put in, they looked misshapen, and on closer examination some of the larger parts had completely changed shape. What is baffling is the fact that this ‘melting’ has not affected any of the model kits that were moulded in light grey, green, silver, or white plastic.

As it requires quite a reasonable amount of heat to mould the plastic used to make model kits, I can only surmise that these kits were close to a wall of the steel shed when it was exposed to extreme heat at some point during the last ten years. I cannot think of a time when this could have happened, but for the present I cannot come up with another theory that explains the phenomena.

I have not made any particularly notable ‘finds’ today, but I did find several half-built models that need to be completed. Of especial note are three Fujimi Pzkpfw 38(t)s that were at some point in the process of being converted into something approximating to Pzkpfw 35(t)s. The basic hulls and turrets have been built according to the kit’s instructions, but all the running gear has been removed. The turret mantlets have been slightly modified, and the original guns were due to be replaced with cut-down and inverted Airfix 6-pounder anti-tank gun barrels. These are in the same plastic bag as the incomplete model tanks. Also in the bag are several sets of modified ROCO Pzkpfw IV tracks, and as far as I can remember I was going to use these to replicate the style of tracks found on the Pzkpfw 35(t).

I plan to complete these model tanks as soon as I have finished sorting out the contents of the shed, although I think that I will replace the modified ROCO tracks with something that is more akin to those used on the Pzkpfw 35(t).

The side view of a Pzkpfw 38(t).

The side view of a Pzkpfw 35(t).


The Shed: A ROCO and Roskopf bonanza!

Last night I began selecting the next couple of crates that I wanted to sort out … and had quite a shock when I opened the first.

The crate was full of plastic bags that were covered in a very thick layer of dirt. In fact they were so dirty that I could not see what was inside the bags, and the labels had faded so much that they were unreadable. With some trepidation I tore the first bag open … and found four ROCO Pzkpfw VI Tiger Is inside! The next bag contained two ROCO Pzkpfw VI Tiger IIs, a ROCO Jagdtiger, and three ROCO JS-IIIs.

By the time I had finished opening all the bags I had rediscovered the following model vehicles:

German

  • 1 x Pzkpfw III
  • 1 x Pzkpfw IV
  • 1 x Pzkpfw IV (AA)
  • 4 x Pzkpfw VI (Tiger I)
  • 3 x Pzkpfw VI (Tiger II)
  • 2 x Jagdpanzer VI Jagdtiger
  • 1 x Sdkpz 234/1
  • 2 x Grille 10/88mm
  • 1 x sWS (Cargo)
  • 2 x Sdkfz 18 (AA)
  • 4 x Kubelwagen
  • 2 x Schwimmwagen
  • 1 x Opel Blitz Truck

Russian

  • 10 x T-34/85
  • 3 x JS-III

Other

  • 1 x Sherman
  • 2 x M10/M36 SPGs
  • 1 x 155mm Long Tom M2A1
  • 1 x M53/M55 SPG
  • 3 x M113 APC
  • 2 x M113 APC (Mortar)
  • 1 x M113 (Command)
  • 4 x Motorcycle + Sidecar

I also found some other useful model vehicles in the crate. These included:

  • 8 x SIKU Bulldozers (If the cab and dozer blade are removed, this looks very like a Russian heavy artillery tractor)
  • 2 x Vikiing Hoch Limousines (Ideal for senior officers’ staff cars!)
  • 3 x Viking Citroen Saloon Cars (Also suitable for use staff cars)
  • 2 x Viking VW Beetles

Barbarossa/25: An example of a bathtub campaign

In reply to my recent blog entry regarding my stalled Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War campaign project, several people have suggested that I look at Frank Chadwick’s BABAROSSA/25 for inspiration and ideas.

I bought a copy of Frank Chadwick’s book when it was first published in 1988 … which gives you some idea how long the idea for this project has been whirring around in my head! I thought that the concept was good, but at the time I thought that trying to copy it was beyond my capabilities. I also had a few problems with the COMMAND DECISION rules that the book was written to go with, which I thought tried to be a set of both tactical and operation-level wargame rules at the same time, and achieved neither end particularly well.

Every so often since 1988 (in other words, at least twice a year) I have taken my copy BABAROSSA/25 off the bookshelves are re-read it … and been inspired to think yet again about my own Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War campaign project. This time I did so with an idea in my head that I thought might be a way forward for me. This idea was to use the maps provided in the book with my OPERATIONAL ART rules. I therefore copied one of the map sheets …

Please click on the image to make it larger.

… and overlaid it with the size of tabletop that I could create easily with my Hexon II terrain on my current 3′ x 4′ wargames table. The result looked like this:

Not perfect by any means … but it does show that the idea – or something like it – might work.


Painting figures: Another experiment … and some related thoughts

Since returning from our recent cruise I have been experimenting with the use of cheap acrylic craft paints to paint figures … and I am very pleased with the results.

Other than the primer, the following figure was painted using nothing but acrylic craft paint.

I decided not to use Nut Brown India Ink to ‘shade’ the figure … and I don’t think the figure looks any the worse for it … as the following comparison shows.

I am now thinking about using this simple technique to paint some more 20mm-scale figures.


Over the past few weeks I have been thinking about my Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War campaign project … and I began to come to the following conclusions.

  • I was going to have to ‘bath-tub’ the whole thing if I was ever going to be able to stop it becoming a monster … and that was a compromise that I was unsure about making.
  • In order to stop the cost of the project from escalating to a level I could not justify, I was going to use as much of what I already had in terms of figures and vehicles rather than start from scratch.

In the end I decided that realistically I was unlikely to ever fulfil my dreams of a full-blown Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War campaign, and that I had to rethink the whole thing.

At this point in my thinking I was reading through some of my old blog entries, particularly the play-test battles that I fought between Morschauserland and Eastland … and it made me wonder if I should consider rejigging the whole thing along similar imagi-nation lines. The pluses in favour of this are:

  • I already have an imagi-world with suitable imagi-nations. (This would enable me to avoid the ethical conundrum I would otherwise have to face regarding whether or not to wargame the politically/racially-motivated excesses committed by both sides during the real war.)
  • I would not be restricted to using specific model vehicles, aircraft, ships, figures, and even uniforms for my imagi-world version of the Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War. (I recently ‘found’ a large number of Spanish Civil War figures that I could use for smaller allied contingents and/or militia.)
  • I could use one or more of the sets of wargame rules that I already have to hand including:

The negatives are:

  • That I doubt that I could find a regular opponent to control one of the two sides … but as most of my wargaming is done solo, this is not a major consideration.
  • That it might not be seen as ‘proper’ wargaming by some people within the hobby … but I have been around long enough not to worry too much about what those sort of people think any more.

I am not fully committed to this course of action as yet … but the more I think about it, the more attractive it becomes.