Commanders, a wargame digest


Cover Artwork

Panzer from GMT

Panzer is the base module of a WWII tactical series that to date has two expansions that complete the east front orders of battle and most recently have the North West Europe '44 - '45 added. There is a France '40 module in the pipeline.

The scale is 100m to the hex with individual vehicles and infantry squads. Panzer, designed by Jim Day (hugely supportive on the forums) has been around for several decades. The original was by Yaquinto, then a miniatures version came out and now a streamlined version, that probably helps wider interests, can grace our tables.

The box art is something that makes you stop and think as it is not explosively graphic as could easily be the case these days. Instead it draws from the original 'calm' art on the Yaquinto boxes, with more than a hint of the classic Panzerblitz (Avalon Hill) artwork present, giving a sort of retro style that is very distinctive.

Plastic Soldier Company (1/72) T-34's

The tank ultimately became the mainstay of the Soviet WWII tank armies. This kit gives you the 76mm and the 85mm gun / turret option, but the nice thing is that these variants are BOTH supplied, so you get a 76mm gun turret and a 85mm gun turret for each chassis, significantly extending the use of the vehicle - if only every supplier would do that.

The 76mm version found itself underpowered when up against the Heavy German vehicles (Panther and TigerI), though could still hold its own against medium tanks. With the introduction of the 85mm model, the T-34 could potentially deal with the frontal armour of a Tiger I at ranges of out to 500 metres and was now also a much greater threat to medium armour at much further distances.

The box artwork gives us both versions. You get three fast built vehicles in the box.

Black Powder 2nd Edition

After 10 years, the original ruleset has been updated. Not a huge amount has changed, though that new cover is instantly striking.

We get a new selection of scenarios in the book and here the text is a bit more embracing / friendly towards tables that are less than the 12’ x 6’ that the first edition seemed to give favour to.

The Commander rules get an update, as do the rules that allowed two units to contact one unit along the same face.

I was quite surprised that units can still make up to three moves and still fire, as this has been dampened down, successfully I thought, in some of the supplements.

The 28mm Saxon Thegns from Gripping Beast. These are the armoured warriors, the elite, the land owners, trained in a martial way that can sit in my 1066 Anglo-Saxon line-up as the front line Housecarl / Thegn troops. They are a mix of spear / sword and axe armed troops and they look like they will make up into nicely animated figures.

As part of a deal, I also picked up their dark age archers and dark age warriors. The archers are rather limited with only three poses on ten sprues, but they look like they will mix well with my Conquest Games (plastic) archers to add a bit of diversity and that both sides will be able to use them.

Likewise, the dark age warriors look like they will be useful for a bit of kit bashing with Conquest Games' foot, as the Conquest box alone don't feel like they provide enough spear to represent the Norman spear armed heavy infantry and the Gripping Beast box looks like there may be a few arms with spear attached going spare. Either way, the plastic 28mm offerings from both Conquest Games and Gripping Beast taken together, look like they will be enough to provide the bulk of my 1066 Hasting armies.


Waterloo - Fallen Eagles by Hexasim.

Hexed boardgame covering the events of 18th June 1815. As a gaming package, this is just a pleasure to own. The Waterloo battlefield is represented in two maps with elevations, built up areas, woods and road net all beautifully rendered.

The game has over 400 counters which have been die cut to give the counters nicely rounded corners and both counters and hexes are of the larger variety for easy handling.

This was the first in a series, with Austerlitz 1805 already out and Ligny at the design stage.

The box art is quite subtle with the 'Old Grognard' immediately grabbing attention, but with the background, which is only suggested, gradually catching the eye and bringing in the atmosphere of battle.

StuG III G (1/72 from the Plastic Soldier Company).

Something of an iconic German WWII vehicle for wargamers. It was an assault gun with a 75mm gun, which

Initially provided an armoured support element to infantry based units (usually mechanised), but as the war progressed, it was increasingly adopted into the panzer divisions, with the long gun of the G model having a good anti-tank performance as well as the useful H.E. capacity.

The kit variants are early model, late model and the Sturmhaubizte (105mm gun). I may have this wrong, but the artwork seems to have the early gun shield, but the later mantelet. Adding the Schürzen skirts (steel plates hanging along the sides of the vehicle) is optional, but I always feel the model G looks a little 'undressed' without them. 

I have put the first one together and thought is was very straight forward ... until the end when I added the skirts and realised that I had reversed the brackets, so they were effectively put on upside down. The instructions have the skirts and brackets assembled first, so by the time I discovered the fault, the glue weld was virtually dry - some brute force and resulting bent parts got them clear and I immediately re-fixed while the plastic was still soft, but another 5 minutes and I would of had to do some cutting and scratch building -  or else had a naked StuG ...Yikes!

You get three vehicles to a box and I will probably do two as late models and the other as the 105mm version, since I have not had that variant before. These are likely to be my most used vehicles on the table.



This is the Zvezda TANK COMBAT module from their Art of Tactics series for WWII. They have quite a few historical modules in this series and this box seems intended as the ideal starter set as it only contains tanks. 

It cost £20 and seems good value for that. The 6 models that come with the game would come to that value on their own, plus you get 4 small hexed sturdy double sized boards, a rule set, a scenario booklet with 4 scenarios in, 10 dice and unit cards.

The vehicles included are;

German: Pz-38(t), Pz II and Pz IV Ausf D

Soviet: T34/76 (1940), T-26 and BT-5

The box art is dynamic and eye-catching, and whilst not immediately looking likely, early Soviet tanks did ram enemy tanks. Plus it all makes a good change from the ubiquitous smoking buildings in the background type scene.


Soviet KV-1 from Zvezda, the 1940 model that had the L11 gun (76mm with a calibre of 30.5). 

The box artwork has the tank in a heavy snow scene with fir trees and soldiers in white winter clothing in the background, artistic inspiration likely drawn from the Soviet Winter War with Finland.

The vehicle was heavily armoured and was something of an unpleasant surprise for the German invading armies in Operation Barbarossa, as the KV-1 was general immune to the smaller diameter anti-tank guns used by the light tanks in the panzer divisions.

The '41 model was up-gunned to the F34 gun, also a 76mm weapon, but with a calibre of 42.5 and an improved muzzle velocity of 680 metres per second.

The chassis would remain useful in the first half of the war, giving the KV-85 variant and the less successful KV-2, which mounted a howizter in a large high turret.


28mm Plastic French Line infantry (1807 - 1810) from Warlord Games. All in march poses, plus four command figures in metal, to give a total of 24 figures, a generic strength of a battalion in the Black Powder rules.

There are five different back packs and one of them has a string of onions (or garlic?) hanging from one corner, while another has a cook pot. Within the box the head options allow for ordinary line and a company (4 figures) each of voltiguers and Grenadiers.

You also get a sheet of six flags, each representing a different regiment (the 8th, 9th, 24th, 27th, 51st and 96th).

28mm Plastic napoleonic starter set called Waterloo, from Warlord Games. The Anglo-Allies include British foot and Hanoverian foot, plus some cavalry and a 9pdr gun (metal) with crew. The French get infantry in trench coats (easier to paint!) and cavalry. 

Both sides get some metal overall army command figures, the British includes a rather nice pose of an officer leaning on his brolly (rather Picton like!). Unfortunately the set does not include battalion Command figures for the British, Hanovarian or the French infantry.

You do get an A5 paperback version of the Black Powder rules (a full replica of the hardbacked rules), plus a fast play set of rules to get you into the system, these have been done rather well ...... though they don't mention how to recover from Disorder! (But it doesn't really matter as you can find that in the provided full ruleset) and they include a pre-amble on basing and notes about the Waterloo battle. A good starter, let down by the absence of command figures.


Churchill Tanks - a 15mm plastic kit offering from Plastic Soldier Company.

The box has five sprues, each able to give a Churchill tank in the variants of Mk III, Mk IV, Mk VI (75mm) and the V 95 close support plus the III AVRE close support.

These are fast build kits, with typical crisp details, but no decals.

I particularly like the artwork on this large box because it looks like it has been done in oils, with the blending giving warm tones and soft lines. The camo netting around the turret and gun barrel on the left tank gives is a nice touch. 


Plastic 28mm Norman Knights from Conquest Games.

Conquest specialise in the medieval period and to date have three plastic sets out, with additional support from metal figures. These are good value as you get 15 knights, plus a rather splendid horse and rider casualty, which will make a nice casualty marker combined with a dice box.

Two things of note, shield transfers do not come with the box set, but can one ordered separately from the company and the kite shields do not have a shield boss on them. Odd really because the round shields that come in the box as a variant do have a boss as do the subsequent box of Norman foot. The boss was not always present on the kite shield, so this may or may not matter to you.

There are a few unarmoured figures in the box (1 in 5 on the sprue), so the potential is there to also do some light cavalry with the spear held over-arm.

28mm Plastic Wars of the Roses infantry from the Perrys. There are a generous 40 soldiers in the box and they are a mix of bowmen, billmen and foot knights. You would need more than one box to make up a large unit of foot knights, though my own preference would be to show the knights mixed in with some bill either amongst all he bases or having a single dedicated base of knights.

There are some nice flags on heavy paper and my first base (40mm x 40mm) with four knights will fight under the Percy flag.

Another set has since come out covering mercenaries and these would make an ideal companion box here.

Attractive artwork for the Battlefront Soviet IS-2 tank, in this instance, sold as an individual blister for the TANKS game by Gale Force nine.

It looks like the tank, carrying tank riders, is passing a knocked out Tiger II, perhaps its own handy-work.

A nice touch is that the kit can make two complete turrets, one for the 122mm IS-2 and another for the earlier version that housed the 85mm gun (IS-85).

Again we have a 15mm kit that does not include decals.