Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Cold War Gone Hot - Reference Material

Recently on the Pendraken Forum, Richard of  The Land of Counterpane Blog joined up and put up some useful links to posts on how to get going with Cold War Commander. One of these mentioned the ever excellent Micromark lists by Mark Bevis. I had completely forgotten that I had ordered some for the Cold War way back when and so promptly dug them out of the folder in which they've lain for seom 10 years or more. Just what I needed to get my OOB sorted!

Having looked through the lists again, it tipped me down the route of 'classic' 1985 Cold War forces, of British versus the Warsaw Pact, but most likely Soviet given that I have the lists. I'm sure with a slight tweak of MBT's and AFV's, the force could easily become Polish or East German Warsaw Pact. 

The above has also cemented in my mind that I will go down the 6mm route for my games. Why?: a couple of reasons really. Namely:
  • Availability of equipment in 6mm pure and simple. From my brief perusing of the H&R website they have pretty much everything I need, which cannot be said for 10mm.
  • Cost. Looking at what I would want to field for a game, in 10mm it would be prohibitively expensive compared to 6mm. For the cost of just the MBT's in 10mm I can pretty much field a Mechanised and Armoured Brigade in 6mm. 
  • The look of the game. Modern tanks are big and when you want to field a squadron or two, they look too big when on the table compared to their 6mm equivalents. Just imagine 6 Tiger II's and you get my drift.

My British lists.

The equivalent Soviets lists.

The postman delivered my recently ordered copy of CWCII. A brief flick through today and all I can say is that I'm very happy that I did take the plunge. A lot more refined and developed thanks to all the work done since BKCII & IV and visually very nice to look at too. The binding seems to be a lot more robust than of late, which is good of course. There are only 3 lists in the book: US, British and Soviet with everything else being freely available online. The lists are a lot more detailed than before, so I'm looking forward to getting my head around these. Ditto the rule changes and tweaks which again from a first look through look to be good and well thought out.

A rulebook that is well worth getting if you fancy some 'Moderns' gaming.

Also landing on the door mat was Hackett's book. Again a quick flick through this morning and all I can say is that I'm really, really looking forward to reading this. It looks packed full of info, narrative and ideas and you can see why 1985 has become the default timeframe for Cold War Gone Hot Games. 

An original copy that I picked up for an absolute bargain price!

So enough of the 1985 Cold War mindset, time to travel back to 1815 and the prospect of facing Old Boney!

Waterloo Warm Up Games - Part 1

In less than two weeks Keith Flint will be hosting a bathtubbed Waterloo at his local community centre where he can stage larger games than is normal in our average British house. As I will be taking on the part of his Grace, the Duke of Wellington (aka The Sepoy General), I thought it wise to get some games in beforehand to reaquaint myself with the rules. A few really simple tests were played yesterday to get the mechanics broadly off pat, so now felt the right time for something more akin to a game, but nothing too big or fancy.

To this end I pulled out my 2' x 2' board, a few items of terrain and relatively even and 'vanilla' forces. Again the aim is to get the basics nailed down before adding in various bits of 'chrome'. In essence the Red force (British) are defending a village and hill, with the Blue force (French) trying to evict them. Whilst the British will be in line, the French will be using Order Mixed or Company Columns, to see how this plays out. The British have a Light Battalion in skirmish order and the French will be using skirmish screens.

Nothing too fancy on the AAR front, just some annotated photos of the game.

An overview of the table, with the French just arriving.

Their horse artillery will move and support the attack on the village to add much needed firepower.

Cavalry on the right wing.

The French quickly move forward using the additional speed of being in Company Column.

The cavalry have clashed, with no clear winner and both sides had to withdraw.

The attacks go in by the farm and in the centre, with the British Light Battalion having withdrawn through their Line Infantry. One French infantry unit has formed into line to add extra firepower whilst one is still in company column ready to assault the British line.

As the French shoot at the village, they lose their C-in-C to enemy musketry.

More cavalry attacks, this time with the French gaining the upper hand.

Both sides are accruing hits in the centre and it is precarious for both infantry units in and by the village.

The French horse artillery add much needed forepower to try and shoot the infantry into the village.

Neither side can quite gain the upper hand. The Light Battalion has formed into skirmish order again to try and support the Line Infantry to their front.

The British have lost a cavalry unit but the French have had to pull back to let their units recover.

And it's all over! Suddenly the British break, but it could have easily have gone the other way.

The British flee the village but the French are almost routing too.

Ditto in the centre.
Post Game Thoughts
Well I was happy with how that played, as it gave a good mix of challenges for both sides and allowed my to try a mix of the rules too. A few quick thoughts:

  • Even though this was only a 2' x 2' table, it didn't feel that small. So easy to set up I really should use this option more often.
  • I need to learn how to use Napoleonic cavalry to be honest, as I still see them on the flank as per the SYW. Time to refer to Nosworthy's excellent book.
  • Using the Company Columns worked well, especially when one unit formed into line to add more firepower, ready for the other units to assault the British line. More work needs to be done on this, but it is coming together nicely.
  • I need to make my own aide memoire of little points that are not on the QRS to aid and speed up play. This should all fit on an A4 sheet and I can't see why it wouldn't.

Next up is a slightly bigger game, but still on the 2' x 2' table, but more on that in another post. 

So until next time, stay safe and keep healthy.

Monday, 27 June 2022

Cold War Gone Hot (or Tepid)

About a week ago on one lovely early Summer's evening, I picked up my copy of Cold War Commander to read in the garden, not something we can always do with our variable martitime climate here in Blighty. This came about after looking at the recently released Pendraken Arab-Israeli  on the Pendraken Blog earlier in the day. Too tired for any heavy reading, a browse through the rulebook seemed a perfect way to spend an hour or so relaxing after a long day.

The book in question.

Flicking through the book brought back many happy memories of playing some NATO vs Warsaw Pact  games some 10 or more years ago (I can't believe it's that long since I played) as well as a superb Portbury Knight's Campaign organised by one of the club members who really was into the whole Cold War 1980's milieu. The campaign really energised the club and lots of us took the dive into 6mm wargaming. Alas as with many things in the wargaming world, interested died away and to free up funds and some space, I sold off my BAOR battlegroup.

With the release of CWCII at Partizan, my interest was piqued as to what changes had come about in the rules, so checking the Pendraken forum, all lot of the issues with the original rules seemed to have been addressed, such as the ATGW's not really being worth buying, compared to say a MBT. Naturally there is plenty more but you get my drift.

As with these things, the flap of butterfly wings could be heard in the distance as my mind began to ponder whether to dip my toe in the water once again. One thing led to another and I was soon perusing the offerings from Pendraken, TimeCast and the Plastic Soldier Company, along side the ever affordable Heroics & Ros 6mm ranges. Aside from what scale to go with, the issues of cost, battlegroup versus brigades and what forces began to swirl around in my mind.

For large scale battles that we used to play at the club, 6mm is a complete no brainer, where I would normally have at least an Mechanised Infantry Battalion and Tank Regiment on the table. Whilst fun, they were long games, you needed at least a 6' x 4' table and really an opponent to play against. Whilst tempting these days that is not really an option. However it is still damned tempting for sure! So after much thought and advice from other forum members, Battlegroups of say a couple of Companies plus a Tank Company or two with support, would be the best way to go and be much more solo and time friendly. 

For the forces and setting I must admit that I always favour the classic NATO vs Warsaw Pact, nominally set in the late 1970's to early 1980's. Chieftain tanks facing off against T-54/55's and T-62's really floats my boat, leaving the Challengers and later MBT's for others to play with! However a sort of Balkans setting or maybe a Russo-Turkish War that escalates has also piqued my interest. Then there is my perennial interest in Austria, which could provide some interesting games, but accessing the right equipment is a bit of an issue in 10mm compared to 6mm. 

To go alongside with the above, I remember reading and enjoying 'Red Storm Rising' by Tom Clancy many years ago, so ordered a copy to get me back into the swing of things. Along side this a copy of Hackett's 'The Third World War' is on its way to me. I have in mind to order 'First Clash' by Macksey whose other books I have enjoyed over the years. I think that will be more than enough reading material for me.

I did wonder whether to carry on using CWCI for my possible games, but in the end decided it was well worth getting CWCII for a whole variety of reasons. I went for the rulebook rather than the pdf, as I much prefer the former to the latter. To help keep printing costs down, Pendraken have only included a few sample lists, with all the others being freely available via their forum. Aside from cost, this allows them to be updated on an as needs basis which is a good idea.

As you can see, another large project beckons and with much for me to ponder, lists to plan etc. But in the meantime I need to prepare for a large Battle of Waterloo games in a couple of weeks with friends, where I am taking on the role of his Grace the Duke of Wellington. So time for some trial games to get au fait with the rules as well as some background reading. Happy days!

So until next time, stay safe and keep healthy!

Sunday, 5 June 2022


Since my game of Shadow of the Eagles, not a lot has been happening on the gaming front chez moi, despite my best intentions. The usual reasons of being a full time carer have combined with collecting our daughter from University in Edinburgh, plus the half-term holiday for the schools. Alongside these the garden has needed tending to, which I enjoy, but Mother Nature is a demanding mistress!

Despite all of the above, 'stuff' has been going on in the background, with many plans being hatched, but as yet not seeing the light of day. So as to give you some idea of what's been going on, read on dear Follower, read on.

Some years ago now there were some articles in one of the wargames magazines on the French Revolutionary Wars, specifically the conflict set in the Vendee. These combined with some excellent articles from Colin Ashton piqued my interest in this period. At the time sadlt Pendraken did not have a full compliment of figures to tempt me down this road. However around the start of the first lockdown the launched a 'kickstarter' for some Peninsula War range of figures, which with a bit of picking and choosing, combined with some artistic license, could be used for this period. So a list was drawn up and after some delays, my package arrived in the mail a week or so ago.

With the toys now with me, I dug out my reference books and my original list, to begin to re-acquainting myself with my 'plans' and to tweak things to fit with the excellent 'Shadow of the Eagles' rules. Things are in an early stage still but the following books have proved useful in one way or another.

I think Rob did the original article in the magazine that piqued my curiosity. So when this book came out I snapped it up. Whilst full of very useful information, I must admit I found this a hard slog to read. Still a most useful reference book so I'm happy I bought it.

I've not read this cover to cover yet, but as with all of Griffith's books, it looks to be a great read and will give me much to ponder on for my project.

In short this is a lovely book to own! So many great units to tempt one, but I need to try and maintain some semblance of focus, but the sound of butterfly wings can be heard daily😉.

Picked up quite cheaply a few years ago, this is a great primer for the period for someone like myself who is a 'Nappies' newbie.

After the recent SotE game I dug out my scenario books to try and find something for my next game. I have pretty much decided upon the scenario, but as yet I have been unable to find the time to set it up and get it played out. With SWMBO returning to work tomorrow, I'm hoping I can get things onto the dining table this week. Hope springs eternal!

Books that every wargmer should own IMHO.

When Keith came over for the game last month he kindly left me a copy of the latest WS&S magazine, which was very kind of him and I happily read it over a few evenings. However being a dedicated small scale gamer, there was little to interest my to be honest. 28mm gamers would be in Seventh Heaven I'm sure, but each to their own. It did confirm to me that I'd rather spend my limited pocket money on books than magazines, but then I'm pretty much set in my ways. However for the newer and younger wargamers I'm sure this is just perfect.

Still the best produced magazine IMHO.

This book I bought back in the late 1970's (possibly early 1980's). I suppose looking back it was the equivalent of Google today in terms of being able to find very basic information. It is set out by year, with sections on History, Arts, Literature & Science. For me the fascinating thing is seeing what was going on across the globe in terms of History, but also concurrently with the other topics listed. So for example in 1875, a French law strengthening the army led to a crisis with Germany, but Russo-British intervention prevented another Franco-Prussian War. Certainly the sort of 'what if?' that interests me no end.

A well thumbed copy and one that often gets dragged down from the bookshelf for a general perusal when I only have 5-10 minutes to read something.

My general reading on the Russian Revolution continues apace through the following tome, which is proving to be an incredible and enlightening, yet sober read. I'm learning so much that I simply didn't know and it is a real page turner.

If you get one book on the Russian Revolution, it really has to be this one.

So there we are. Lots of plans afoot, some of which I hope begin to see the light of day soon. One can but hope. So until next time, stay safe and keep healthy!

Sunday, 15 May 2022

Operation Mercury, The Battle for Crete 1941

At the end of my recent Operation Cygnet Campaign, Jon Freitag made a passing comment about wargaming Operation Mercury. I thought nothing of it but looking for something to read that evening, I picked out an Osprey campaign book on this that I'd bought at Colours many years ago. (My on going back problems mean that reading in bed is not as easy as before, so this sort of book is ideal).

Having flicked through it over several nights, ideas began to formulate as how best I might game this, given that it's something I've pondered in the past. Whilst the Osprey book is good, I felt I needed more information if I were to actually to give this a go. So after some searching on Google, I ordered Beevor's book.

I picked this up for the princely sum of £2.46, inc p&p!

The book was everything I hoped it would be and I very quickly read it through in a matter of days. Having finished it I remembered the following books in my library that had sections Crete. I haven't read them through in detail, but glancing at them they should provide another useful view of the campaign.

Not one of his better books to be honest, but still a good read.

The same could be said for this!

So with some reading done, my thoughts turned as to how best approach this as a campaign. Naturally there are plenty of options, from a purely historical re-fight through to a 'what if?' approach. Both have their merits and currently I'm toying with a mix of both. A few thoughts I've had so far:

  • Do I try and play out the whole campaign, or just one of the major actions, with the other actions sorted out off board? The whole campaign is pretty unrealistic to be honest and would be best done via a boardgame. This naturally gives the option to zoom in on various actions that would transfer nicely to the tabletop. 
  • How best to replicate the actions of the Allies? The Allied C&C was pretty shocking from start to finish. Beevor's book is very useful in that it gives the Ultra decrypts upon which a lot of the decisions were based upon, especially the pre-occupation with a major seaborne landing. In BKCII terms, giving the Allies a CV 7 or possibly lower, would help replicate on field C&C, but at a higher levels some thought needs to be given to movement of reserves etc.
  • How best to replicate the actions of the Germans? Again, some interesting decisions to be made here, with options for a concentrated Maleme drop as opposed to the dispersed one ordered by Goering, plus the issue of actually flying in the units over several days.
  • The naval aspect was one that was well covered by Beevor and naturally favours off table resolution. I was surpised at how many ships the British lost later on in the campaign to pure air attack, which could be factored in to the attempt by the Germans to bring in their heavier materiel and re-inforcements by sea. Something to ponder on for sure.

I'm very much in the exploratory phase at present, but the recent reading has given me much to think upon. I know for sure that I would need to paint up more of my Fallschirmjager for this campaign, but luckily they are based and primed, so not too much of an issue if I got my butt into gear! I have plenty of other stuff in the pipeline already, but this is something I would hope to be able to play out in some shape or form come the Autumn and Winter when the majority of my gaming takes place. 

So as my little grey cells whirr away, stay safe and keep healthy!

Scenario 2: Control The River

It's been about 2 1/2 years since I've hosted a face-to-face game at home for rather obvious reasons. But recently with the weather improving (although it's pouring down as I type) it has felt safer to make a return to more normal gaming with friends. So after the game a Chris Gregg's last month, my good friend Keith Flint and I were able to meet up as planned for a game of 'Shadow of the Eagles'. I've only ever played these solo, so it was great to not only to play them FtF but also with the author!

I suggested the second scenario from the book, which Keith thought a good call, as it's a decent sized game to give a good run out of the rules. With a deadline approaching I managed to finish enough of my Commission Figures troops for the scenario, but completely forgot on the HQ's front, meaning I had to make a last minute substitution of some cavalry bases to use for them.

The scenario was inspired by a map on the Little Wars TV site that was used as part of their Marengo campaign. Forces wise I fancied something set around the 1809 Danube, as the French aren't uber powerful nor the Austrians as weak as a wet paper bag (famous last words). Keith was happy with this choice, so everything was pretty much set for his visit.

Luckily the weather was great so with the windows and patio doors open to keep things cool and help on the Covid front, we settled down to the usual pre-game chat and then once we'd rolled for command quality etc, we were set for the game. I didn't take any notes as I wanted to concentrate on the game itself, but took some photos which will help explain how the game unfolded. So without further ado:

An overview of the table, with the Austrians South of the river and the French appearing from the Northern table edge. The river can only be crossed by two fords or the bridges, with the objectives being the two towns occupied by the Austrians, plus the fords themselves.

A small Austrian brigade occupies the town on their right flank with two battalions of infantry and an artillery battery. Note the unit bottom left are reinforcements that will arrive later on on a random Turn as dictated by a die roll.

Two Regiments of light cavalry occupy the town on the left flank. Again the troops at the bottom are reinforcements.

An independent Austrian Light Battalion occupies the wood and steep hill in front of the river to try and slow the French advance down.

The French have a significant numerical advantage at the start, but need to move swiftly to make this tell. However the wood and steep hill in front of their centre will make this possibly difficult to achieve.

The French advance on their right and the Austrian Light Battalion push forward to the edge of the woods to engage them.

The other French Brigades move forward, watched by another Austrian Light Battalion in the woods.

The Austrian Light Infantry Battalion have fallen back, to avoid coming the grips with the French. Light Cavalry clash to the left of the photo, with the Austrians managing to push the French back.

A view from the Austrian left flank. The Austrian Light cavalry brigade has moved out of the town to cover the bridge. Their French counter parts watch, unable to risk a near suicidal charge acorss the bridge in line. A Mexican stand off develops, with both commanders exchanging details of their tailors, invitations to dances, point-to-points etc.

An overview on Turn 3. The French are pushing forward in the centre, but the steep hill is lowing their progress. Their Heavy Cavalry has crossed the ford, but is unable to do much without artillery support, which is still limbered up to their rear. The French right flank Infantry Brigade is being held up somewhat by the lack of room to deploy due to the woods and the cavalry. Austrian reinforcements have begun to arrive and advance to cover the ford over the river in the centre of the table.

The Austrian Light Infantry harass the advancing French coming over the steep hill with flanking fire.

More Austrian troops arrive, this time on the right flank, where they can either reinforce the town, cover the approach of the French heavy cavalry or move towards the centre. They choose to deploy their artillery to cover the French heavy cavalry, whilst the infantry move past towards the town.

The Austrian Heavy Cavalry move up on the left flank towards the ford in the centre of the river.

Both sides race to reach the ford: who will win?

Austrian reinforcements arrive on their right flank. The French Heavy Cavalry face a formidable obstacle in the form of the artillery and infantry lining the town.

An overview around Turn 5. The French have driven off the Austrian Light Cavalry that were slowing down their right flank, but are still struggling to bring their infantry brigade into the game. In the centre, the French have begun to cross the ford, led by their Guard Infantry. On their left flank, the Infantry Brigade has begun to attack the town as best they can. 

Even though the Austrians have been beaten to the central ford, they have a strong position from which they can attack any units that begin to cross. On the steep hill, the Austrian Light Infantry Battalion has moved up to shoot the French artillery battery in the flank.

The Austrians are taking casualties in the town, with their artillery battery being particulalry hard hit by counter-battery and musketry fire. The French infantry are taking equally heavy fire, with Austrian Light Infantry (just seen top left) enfilading them.

A view from the Austrian right flank in the town.

Even though the French Guards have begun to cross the ford, they have Austrian units to both flanks and an artillery battery to their front. It doesn't look good to be honest.

The Austrian light infantry enfilade the French battery, forcing them to divert part of their fire.

The view from the other Austrian Light Infantry Battalion that are enfilading the French infantry by the bridge.

Around Turn 6. Things have reached a critical point, with the Austrians close to having to retreat or face the possibilty of routing. Top right can be seen the French Heavy Cavalry that made a Cardiganesque type charge aginst the Russian Austrian guns: it didn't end well.

The French Guards take heavy casualties as they move across the ford and only their Superior status keeps them in with a slight chance of survival.

Turn 7 and the end of the game. Suddenly the French lost around two units of infantry and one of cavalry, with other units having casualties too. With the Austrians in a strong position, there was little hope of the French having any realistic prospect of victory, so they began to prepare to withdraw. As the French commander was heard to say:

"I was in this Position at the battle of Marengo, I lost the Battle at 2 o'clock, BUT I DIDN'T WIN IT BACK AGAIN AT SEVEN."😉

The Austrians have managed to hold on long enough to tip the battle on their right flank in their favour.

The Austrian Light Infantry Battalion are engaged by the French, but too late to alter the course of the battle. Their enfilading fire helped save the town.

The Austrians close in on the ford. With their numerical advantage, the French cannot realistically take it.

The Austrian artillery battery and infantry that routed the French Guard.

Before the French retire, invitations are sent out by both sides for an officers ball in the town.

Post Game Thoughts
Well that was very, very enjoyable and after so long, great to be to be able to have a good friend round for a game. As always the game was played in the right spirit with plenty of good natured banter flowing to and fro, which is all part of the fun of wargaming. Playing the rules with Keith meant that I learnt quite a bit that I wasn't sure about, plus a few interesting points were raised that might lead to some slight clarifications/amendments to the rules. Anyway, a few thoughts on the game itself:

  • The game certainly felt Napoleonic, with all those French columns advancing forward, compared to the recent SYW game we played in. It certainly looked good and had a nice feel to it.
  • The rules came back to me very easily which is always a good sign and Keith was able to clarify a few things as we went along. Both of us forgot or either chose not to use skirmishers on front the infantry units.
  • The terrain certainly hampered the French, much more so than the Austrians who could pretty much move about freely on their side of the river.
  • We both agreed that the French needed some Light Infantry to help them with their advance and especially through the difficult terrain of the woods and the steep hill and to combat the very effective Austrian Light Infantry.
  • Having played the scenario, as it stands it is a hard task for the French. Delaying the Austrian arrivals would help, plus giving the French the Light Infantry for the reasons mentioned above. The central ford is beyond the reach of the French, which they need to secure to be able to flank either of the towns to have any chance of unlocking the Austrian defence.
  • Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but post game we thought that the French right flank should have had the Infantry Brigade move straight towards the town which was only defended by an Austrian Light Cavalry Brigade. Of course the French commander would not have known what units were there, so it could have been a failed gamble. The other options was to push past the woods to move towards the central ford, but really they needed Light Infantry to help them with this.
  • The mdf figures did their sterling job once again and I now want to paint up some more to bulk some of the units up and maybe paint some as a generic third force that can be used as Allies for either side in future games. I just need to check what I actually have before I make my decision.

All-in-all a great days gaming with a good friend. What's not to like? Let's hope that things continue in the same vein. I have no immediate plans for any games as soon I need to go and pick up our daughter from Uni, now that she has finished he final year. So with a full house once again, gaming possibilites are unknown at present.

So until next time, keep healthy and stay safe.