I’m please to say that the occasional gaming meet ups on a Friday have become a regular occurance. I thought I’d share with you some recent pictures. We have a regular venue which has the added bonus of serving excellent food. For someone who always thinks with his belly this is very important.
Firstly we trialed a set of 18th century rules that Tim has been writing. Great 54mm fun in the best traditions. Rifle fire was pretty nasty at short range and melee, especially involving cavalry, very deadly. Party poppers made a welcome return to represent grapeshot too.
After lunch and after that game had been finished and packed away we set up for a quick Vietnam themed Combat Search and Rescue scenario. 1/72nd aircraft were used with 54mm infantry. The pilot was randomly located in a grid (we used the symbols on the carpet) and a Forward Air Controller had to coordinate the search and rescue as well as directing aircraft to try and stop the NVA overruning the downed pilot. A great little game that we got through twice.
I’ve added a few bits to my Vietnam collection- specifically some sneaky special ops types with these Navy SEALs from SHQ only 2 packs are available but you get a good mix of weaponry. I goot two of each but painted the second pack with blue trousers to represent the denims they wore. /in hindsight I should have shaved off the thigh pockets on those figures but nevermind that now.
To give them some mobility I got the a LSSC (Light SEAL Support Craft) from Hobby Den. Introduced in 1968 it could covertly a SEAL team whilst offerring a bit of fire support too. I added a couple of small arms from Sgts Mess to an interest to the interior.
Vietnam saw the birth of the Navy SEALs coming as the did out of the Underwater Demolition Teams, I’m sure I can come up with some sneaky demolition and ambush style games for these new additions to my collection. The Black Ops ruleset should work really well. Just have to wait until I can get a game with them now.
Following on from my post on VDV Air Assault Brigades I’ve done some light armour to give them some support.
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.
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.
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.
All models are 1/300th (6mm) scale and are from Heroics and Ros.
The literary device of presenting a story via ‘found’ media such as diaries and such like has a long history, notably Stoker’s Dracula. The filmic equivalent is the ‘found footage’ film, ostensibly the film is made up of a diegetic recording of the events. Again, this is common in the horror genre Starting with 1980’s Cannibal Holocaust* and arguably reaching its zenith with 1999’s Blair Witch Project. The trope isn’t that common in other genres so when I chanced upon a Vietnam film using this device I quickly tracked down a copy to watch.
Charlie 84 MoPic, refering to the Military Operational Specialism of a camera man, follows an Airborne Long-Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) going behind enemy lines to gain intelligence on the working of the Viet Cong/ National Liberation Front. The conceit is that the 6-man patrol is being followed by the cameraman, and an accompanying Lieutenant, to produce a filmic record of best practice as a training aid for future LRRP teams. The LRRP teams were a divisional asset, introduced to provide information for high command with their long-range penetration capabilities. Often wearing the iconic ‘tiger stripe’ camouflaged uniforms, they probed deep in to enemy areas for days or weeks at a time. The men that made up such units were the elite of their formations, highly skilled and self-disciplined, able to take the mental pressure of such work.
Filmed on a tiny, for Hollywood at least, budget in California, this 1989 film stands apart from bigger better-known Vietnam films. It offers a raw portrayal of a small group of men bonded by combat. Using pathos and intimacy rather than spectacle to tell its story.
Still some of the ‘Nam film stereotypes creep in (they may well be stereotypes for a reason of course) in the cast of characters, the joker who is due to leave theatre imminently, the redneck, the strong silent type, the cold, efficient Sgt, the career minded Officer- in this film he may be inexperienced and a little naive about the realities of combat but he is open about his ambition and portrayed as having some competencies.
The film shows the men going about their mission with the drag of having two FNGs** with them, the cameraman, of whom very little is seen all film, and the Lt. get some of the men to open up about their past. The levelling factor of combat and the bond it engenders is really brought to the fore here, crossing racial and social divides the men are committed to each other knowing that they have faith in each other and their trust. The Lt. and cameraman are clearly outsiders and interlocuters in this who will never gain acceptance in to this elite club.
As for the Viet Cong they hardly appear in the film only really being seen from a distance or when deceased, whilst this marginalisation of them could be seen as problematic today the film is really just about men in combat and their relationships. Obviously, the patrol runs into trouble; even though the film is 30 years old, I won’t got into details and spoil it for you as if you haven’t seen the film I urge you to do so. It is up in its entirety on You Tube. I’d put it up there as one of the better Vietnam war films.
*Whilst it is easy to dismiss Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust as a violent, reprehensible video nasty (which is certainly is/ was) it also serves the purpose of social commentary. Deodato’s story of ignorant filmmakers being killed by the indigenous people they are there to film was a kind of which fulfilment of his based on the action of the truly reprehensible Italian mondo film makers Jacopetti and Properi’s Africa Addio. For more on the horrific but fascinating world of mondo films I can recommend this book.
A Skyraider painted in Vietnam era US Navy colours. Model is from Raiden bought via Magistermilitum when they were getting rid of their stock.
A Korean War USN era Panther again from Raiden.
Last of the aircraft was an early 1960s USAF F100 Super Sabre, also from Raiden.
When I bought the GW 40k Chaos Cultists that I blogged about a bit back I also bought some poxwalkers the Nurgle Zombie type things. In my minds eye I had an idea of what I wanted then to look like… rotting green appendages going into pale sickly looking skin. Accordingly I didn’t think that my usual speed painting methods were suitable so I tried to paint them ‘properly’ you know, washes, shading, highlights and so on. I spent ages on them and I don’t think the end results justify the time invested. I mean they look ok but still a long way from what I wanted to achieve. Still, it serves me right for being clever I guess.
So for my Van Saar Necromunda gang that I’ve currently got on the painting bench I’ve gone back to my tried and trusted methods….
Now that a couple of weeks has past since my Case Blue ’42 megagame I have recovered and can start looking to future projects.
I’ve hada chance to look at the feedback from the game and, with one exception, it is all positive. That is really gratifying that so many people enjoyed the game. As for the less than glowing feedback I know what went wrong and how to fix it in the future. Either way it hasn’t put me off running more games. I’m not sure if I’ll do another big game next year by myself or as co-designer but I’d like to help in a supporting role to someone else; a few ideas have been mentioned that I’m looking forward to helping out with… watch this space. The year after I’m looking at developing a 1919 post WW1 German Freikorp game with the nascent Wiemar republic struggling with both internal and external threats. I was rooting through a pile of books today looking for something else and found a few that will be useful for research purposes so have left them somewhere accesible (OK there are currently a trip hazard).
I was thinking that given all the resources that I have made up for Case Blue it would be a shame just to have them sat in a box for ages so I put my mind to thining what I could use them for. The feedback on the game said that the core mechanics are solid but just need a few rough edges rounding off, a second or third large scale run should do that. The obvious thing would be to use the maps to game Operation Uranus (the Soviet winter attack that encircled Stalingrad) and possibly let the Germans attempt to relieve Paulus and his troops stuck in Stalingrad.
The decision to be made would be should the game start with a roughly historical set- up or one extrapolated from the end of the megagame? Given that players on both sides were arguing over who exactly won it could be a controversial choice… Doing it has a half sized game with 20 or so players would be an easy enough proposition.
Another option for using the components could be do stage something of a prequel: Karkhov in May 1942. Most of the units could do duty there but I would need a new map. It has a lot to offer in that it saw a large and argueably overambitious Soviet attack that caught the Germans unaware that resulted in some very large tank battles. The Germans did rally and inflict a heavy defeat on the Soviets but would it go that way in a re- run. I should dig out the excellent David Glantz book I’ve got on the battle and have a think.
Given that none of the players or units got onto the Stalingrad map in Case Blue ’42 I thought of a nice way to use the map. I’ll develop a Stalingrad urban combat game to take round the local wargames shows to drum up some interest in Pennine Megagames and what we do.
Moving away from megagaming I’ve some other plans too: a VBCW game set within Huddersfield with all the players nominally on the same side but with hidden agenda; this will probably end up being a RPG/ commitee/ map game mash up. I’ve written up a scenario for a multiplayer game of 5core: Brigade Commander that I’d like to try, nothing too big- probably 7 players or so. We’ve all collected so much stuff in a short period of time it would be nice to see it all being used at once. I’d like to run a Vietnam campaign at a skirmish level based on actions against the Ho Chi Minh trail, be nice if I could integrate low level air and ground gaming in that one.
I cat sat for friends of mine last weekend (seven rescue cats, some with health issues, and a snake) and they very generously got me some Necromunda figures as a thank you so that will be a project for the next few weeks. I hope that I enjoy the new version as much as I did the original. I bought some GW Chaos Cultists to have a practice with so I can get back into the swing of painting that stule of figures again. I’ve had a hankering for doing some sci fi gaming recently so the Van Saar figures scratch that itch nicely. I’ll mix them in with some of the nice Copplestone sculpts that are still available from Moonbase and North Star that I’ve long coveted.
Well, that turned out to be a longer post than expected guess I had more ideas than I thought. Best get cracking.