VCOW- Virtual Conference of Wargamers.

This last weekend I attended the Virtual Conference of Wargamers, organised by Wargames Developments. The usual format is a 3 day/ 2 night residential that has obviously been cancelled due to COVID-19. Although I’ve been a member of WD variously over the years I’ve never, for logistical and financial reasons mainly, managed to attend their yearly get together. But this years I could attend some sessions remotely.

 

I couldn’t make any of the Friday sessions so sadly missed the plenary lecture by Peter Perla but Saturday morning saw me participate in a virtual TEWT, Tactical Exercise Without Troops, based on the English Civil War Battle of Crepedy, run by John Curry from the UIniversity of Bath. It was very interesting to see the ground from eye level to plan a battle rather than the usual bird’s eye view of the table top. Gave me lots to think about for my own games.

I also listened to a couple of lectures, one deliverd by Professor Gary Sheffield from my old alma mater University of Wolverhampton, on the links between history and wargaming in his own career. This was followed by Graham Longley-Brown on his work on Defence and Recreational Gaming, including an overview of his work as a professional wargamer. Both were very interest and thought provoking, with my academic hat on however, I would have quibbled a couple of the points….

In the evening I got the chance to take part in a stripped down professional game that has been run for various US govt. agencies exploring US/Japan/China  naval confrontation in the imminent future. A fascinating glimpse of how things are done, I like think of myself as fairly up to date on military tech matters but I realise I do have a bit of a hole when it comes to naval systems.

On Sunday morning John Curry presented again, this time it was looking at his experimental archaelogy in storming a castle. This research forms part of his upcoming book on medieval history and wargaming. Very interesting and the experiments, sadly undocumented, sounded great fun, seemingly done some years ago before health ands safety got too onerous.

Sunday afternoon continued with accounts of lockdown gaming activities before being finished off with WD’s AGM.

 

All in all it was great fun and makes me really keen to attend the actual event next year when it resumes.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

Game Report: Falklands War Matrix game.

Last week I got the chance to play in another Matrix game- this time a rerun of the Falklands War of 1982. Again it was with the group from the Sheffield Wargames club but with a suitable socially distanced format through Skype.

 

Matrix games are really all about structured discussion- state and action and an effect with three reasons why it will happen and then the umpire adjudicates and in this case tells you if you have succeded or not. You are not limited to just yourself and your forces you can try and have an effect on anything.

 

The game was for seven players, Thatcher and Admiral Woodward for the UK, President Reagan and General Haig for the US, Galtieri for the Argentinians, As well as Pinochet and the UN being played. Each player was given their own briefing in advance. I was given the role of President Reagan with the basic tasks of ensuring that the islands were returned to the UK and offering some support too.

 

I played quite aggressively; with the US as the preminent economic power house I made sure to funnel supplies to the Brits (I knew they’d need them) as well as trying to distract the Soviets with naval exercises in the Med, hopefully to stop them meddling. I also gave Pinochet some cash to run month long exercises with his armed forces to make sure the Argentines were distracted there too. Am pleased to say that the game followed the history fairly well with the Black Buck raids, Exocets and the eventual recapture of the Islands all happening in more or less the right order.

falklands matrix game

The game was great fun to play- a good chance to do a bit of roleplaying too. Can’t thank Tim enough for running the game and the other players for making it so much fun. The format of the game worked really well over Skype too. Tim just set the camera up at the representationmal map whilst we presented our arguements.

falklands matrix game 2

With a couple of matrix games under my belt I’mm eager to play another one.

 

You can find Tim’s reports on the game here and here. The scenario is considered a matrix game classic and has been well recieved by a wide vareity of players and organisations, it is available in this book.

Cheers,

Pete.

From the Shed: Scatter Terrain.

I’ve used my 3D printer to run off some useful modern bits of scatter terrain. Not the most exciting bits, definately not in colour terms, but they should be good for set dressing on the table. All of them were printed from free stl files from either Wargaming3D or thingiverse.

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First up we have a set of 6 sewer entrances. As I’ve already got a sewer system, the resin one from Ainsty, these should prove very useful.

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Secondly I ran off a load of Jersey barriers. Great for modern games.

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Finally I did some anti- tank obstacles… well not quite. The eagle eye amongst you might recognise these as concrete beach anti- erosion defences. Whilst they have been popularised in the alt WW2 game DUST Tactics they have also been used in the real world too. The Ukrainians used them successfuly as road blocks to stop an armoured thrust towards Mariopol by Russian/ Sepratist forces.

Once lockdown is over I’ll be able to add these to some games.

Cheers,

 

Pete.

More beating around the Bush (Horizons)

A bit ago Bill and I went to see his friend Nick to playtest the latest army lists developed for Nick’s ruleset ‘Bush Horizons’. See the earlier game here.

There was a new amphibious assault army list as well as an air assault list; Bill went for the naval options whilst I was left with the helicopters. We both generated our forces and then got Nick’s wonderful toys organised.

We didn’t bother with any of the campaign systems as we wanted to just test the combat.

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The helicopters allowed me the sieze the airfield objective in a coup de main assault very early. After that I just used my helicopters and aircraft to try and whilttle down Bill’s units as he approached… to be fair there wasn’t that much he could do be slowly approach and weather the storm, opposed beach landings are never good for the attacking troops.

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A bit more cover on the table would have helped but Bill was unlucky not to down anything with his AA as I pushed my attacks quite aggresively.

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As usual it wasa pleasure to use Nick’s models and i look forward to getting another chance to play.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

From the Shed: US Rangers and Special Operations Forces.

I’ve just finished up some quick US Speical Operation Forces types.

sof and rangers

First up we have 4 men armed with MP7 Personal Defence Weapons (the fancy new name for SMGs that fire modern body armour defeating ammunition), great for clearing buildings .

sof mp7

We have a 2 man command team for the Rangers: a soldier with a map and a radioman. Useful for bringing in off- table assests.

ranger command

Finally a pair of snipers manning the huge .50 Barrett sniper rifle. Witha massive range (and massive weight to go with it) it is an immensly powerful weapon.

ranger heavy sniper

Again Elhiem figures were the manufacturer of these figures; can’t wait to get them into a game of Black Ops or similar soon. All of the figures were painted in the latest multicam cammo pattern uniforms.

 

From the Shed: Russian Airborne Armour.

Following on from my post on VDV Air Assault Brigades I’ve done some light armour to give them some support.

asu85

First up we have the ASU85: a light self propelled gun on the PT76 chassis, designed to give the VDV some anti- tank support. It was a replacement for the much earlier ASU57. At the time of its introduction its 85mm gun (based on the WW2 tank gun) was barely adequate for the task by the 1980s when it was still in service it would have been useless at its intended role. Still any soft skins or light armoured cars would be vulnerable to its gun.

sprut

Next we have the little known 2S25 Sprut SD, the replacement to the ASU85. Mounting the usual Russian 125mm smoothbore gun it can fire all the same ammo as an MBT but from a lightly armoured chassis based on the BMD3. Given the ammo types it can fire it makes up a pretty potent support vehicle for the modern day VDV.

Pt76

Although not an airborne vehicle I painted up a few PT76 amphibious tanks. Developed after WW2 as a recce vehicle it is fully amphibious, accordingly it means it is not very well armed or armoured. Kept in service untill surprisingly recently in has seen combat in the Middle East, Vietnam, India, Africa and even Chechnya.

light armour

All models are 1/300th (6mm) scale and are from Heroics and Ros.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

 

VDV Air Assault Brigade in 5core: Brigade Commander.

During the Cold War the Soviet Union raised extensive parachute forces: the Vozdushno-Desantnya Voyska (VDV). Whilst the Airborne Division were under the command of high level HQs and would have been used for strategic and operational missions their smaller cousins the Air Assault Brigades were under the command of the Ground Forces so would get more tactical missions to undertake; because of this I thought they’d be an interesting force to field in our 6mm games of Nordic Weasel’s 5core: Brigade Commander.

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Three- quarters of the Brigade lined up. 50mm square bases for companies, 30mm square bases for platoon sized attachments.

One of the things that would have hampered the Soviet Union’s deployment of its VDV was the lack of sufficient lift capacity, especially at the strategic/ operational level. At the tactical level insertion by helicopter would have been more common but even so the number of heavy- lift helicopters to move vehicles was limited. The non- mechanised companies could be para dropped of they could be flown in by helicopter. The engineers in the brigade were trained to make landing strips for aircraft out of West German roads (doubtless these would have been recce’d in advance) to bring in heavier vehicles.

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The HQ company stand, three Heavy Companies and two recce  attachments in close up. All vehicles and figures are from Heroics and Ros.

Below is my interpretation of the brigade. Sources differ as to whether there are 2 Heavy battalions or one either way there are four battalions.

 

HQ coy

AT company, BRDM3- can be fielded as 3 AT attachments.

2 or 3 Air Assault Battalions:3 companies of Infantry (limited AT).

1 or 2 Heavy Air Assault Battalion: 3 companies of Mechanised Infantry, BMDs (Advanced AT).

Attachments:

1 light Recce, BRDM or GAZ jeep.

2 AA, ZSU 23/2s on BTRDs

3 Engineers, GAZ jeeps.

3 Mortar, 120mm.

1 AT, 85mm ATG

 

For my collection I’ve got far more attachments than I actually need, this is primarily to have some variation in what I can field.

 

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Three Engineer attachments.

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Three SO120 mortars (a breech loading 120mm mortar on the BMD APC chassis).

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AGS17 Plamya automatic grenade launcher attachments.

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The BRDM based ATGMs which act as the anti- tank attachments.

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A MMG attachment.

 

I’ve come up with a couple of scenarios to use with the unit that reflect the sort of tactical missions they’d have been given. The first is a landing to capture a bridge and then hold it against a counter attack until relieved, the second is to attack into NATO rear areas to take out a HQ. I’ll post some game reports when I’ve played them.

I may yet expand my collection to be able to field a regiment from a fully fledged Airborne Division later on.

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

From the Shed: Winter Chechens.

A quick post… I had been rather pleased with the winter bases on the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. figures I recently finished so I churned out a handful of Under Fire Miniatures 20mm Chechen fighters.

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The range has been sculpted wearing fairly substantial jackets and coats so it isn’t too much of a stretch to put the on winter bases. I went for a mixed of woodland and urban camo for them.

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I really like how they have come out. I think some of the heavier support weapons on similar winter bases would look really good.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

From the Shed: Iraqi Army Platoon.

These 20mm figures from Liberation miniatures were speed painted by me in a couple of days. The simple uniform that is being modelled here (good for the Iran- Iraq war, Gulf War and right up to the 2003 invasion) combined with the great painting style made for an enjoyable painting experience, even though I was painting so many at once.

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The full group of 32 figures.

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A Squad with a representative and varied mix of weapons.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

From the Shed: More Elhiem figures.

A couple of quick pics here…

 

First up I painted 4 USMC figures, enough to form a fireteam, to try out the colours to paint Woodland MARPAT pattern see here for an example. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. Although a full platoon of them would take a while…. Will try the desert scheme next.

marines woodland marpat

I also painted up some assorted Cold War Soviet figures for a couple of scenarios I’ve got planned, the guy with the white helmet is a Military Policeman on traffic duty:

assorted cold war soviets

Finally I got some of the insurgent gun crew to go with the improvised mortars I featured a bit ago:

insurgent gun crew

gun crews and mortars

https://www.elhiem.co.uk/

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.