Commanders, a wargame digest


This week

16 Nov 2019

Kiev ‘41

Produced by VentoNuovo, this game covers the southern drive of Operation Barbarossa.

An interesting subject that sees the German army formed from a mix of Axis-Allies troops and their own divisions, having to initially break into defences held amongst difficult ground.

The Germans get good artillery and aircraft assets to help them and unfortunately for our game we forgot to use them on turn 1, so it is hard to say how representative our game was of an initial invasion turn.

We didn’t get very far into the game (after almost 3 hours of play), but the Germans had managed to pocket two Soviet locations, yielding 6 blocks that would not be returning to the game ... however, by turn 3, there was a sea or red blocks on the board, with some of them starting to have better attack capabilities and the October bad weather was starting to grip and Kiev was still in Soviet hands.

As a system and experience, it was all rather reminiscent (in a good way) of Columbia’s East Front game, with it’s blocks and Headquarters that have diminishing range and influence each time they act throughout the turn.

Overall, a nice looking game and one that seems to have been well tested / developed.

14 Nov 2019

OST Stalingrad

The reprint of the Old School Tactical Expansion set ‘Stalingrad’ is out and the first scenario is an infantry only affair that plays in 7 turns.

Not that it matters whether vehicles, artillery or air strikes are involved as the process are very streamlined and easy to apply and mostly shared between the different unit types, so a scenario with vehicles in is a very small step up in complexity.

EDIT - there is now a write-up of the replay, plus notes, over on the blog.


10 Nov 2019

Harald Steptoesson

The free 28mm metal figure that comes with the Hail Caesar supplement ‘Shieldwall’ when bought directly from Warlord Games, is a nicely animated and fearsomely posed warrior for the Dark Age period.

His presence on the painting table is a clue that something 1066’ish is not too far away!

Harald Steptoesson, for those who don’t know, is a humorous play on words, based around the 1960’s and ‘70’s UK sitcom, Steptoe and Son, about a rag-and-bone man outfit. The son’s name was Harold and the character duo were warmly adopted by a UK TV audiences.

9 Nov 2019

Old School Tactical

Last night we put up the first battle from the OST V2 Pocket Battles module, which basically has a couple of convenient sized maps, with either summer or winterised graphics to either side.

The scenario puts us at 19th December 1944, outside Noville, on the road to Bastogne. Team Desobry were deployed to block the German advance.

This is the second time we have played the scenario. The Germans need to capture this two hexed heavy structure building, a tough call in a 6 turn scenario, especially with the Germans having 2nd line infantry.

The whole position is quite defensive, especially from the wall side, as the American forces will get defensive bonus from the orchards, wall and the +1 that they can claim if they spend Action Points hunting for additional cover.

In our game, the Germans didn’t make it, though the Panzer IV’s did knock out all three of the defenders tanks.

7 Nov 2019

New Pocket Armies project

I am starting a new project that aims to bring the larger scale to kitchen / dining table, with forces that will take a selection of 8 - 10 units from a core collection of around 12 units per army.

The idea being that each army pairing will be small enough in scope to see a number of periods covered and to bring some fun and good aesthetics to the table.

There is a full introductory post over on the blog. LINK

2 Nov 2019

Kernstown back on the table

We played Kernstown a few weeks ago, but only got a few turns into the game. Mike recorded the unit positions and we went back at it last night.

The situation continues to interest. In the picture, Garnett has pushed forward and taken the victory point hex on the hill top, earning 2 VP’s per turn, but he needs to bring the right side of the brigade back a bit as it is exposed out in front and the flank is starting to look under threat.

Will Garnett activate early to get to safer ground, or will the Union act first and attack that flank?

27 Oct 2019

A very portable Gettysburg boardgame

This appeared in a recent 3Ci magazine in a pairing with a napoleonic game.

RBM Studios have used it to launch a new series of boxed deluxe versions of games from the 3Ci catalogue.

I have put an article up on the blog that describes the game, which I think has some unique and interesting features.


25 Oct 2019

28mm Maxim HMG

Visiting the painting table, Warlord’s metal Soviet Maxim machine gun, with a two man crew and a junior officer directing their fire.

The blister pack comes with three figures and a five part machine gun that goes together very easily, plus a round 60mm plastic base.

The figures were given a hot soapy wash and primed with a Rustoleum  primer, block painted, washed with a slightly diluted Vallejo Umber wash and then minimal highlights were put back in. For the first time that I can recall, I have not put highlights at all into the face. I think the overall muted effects are in keeping with the subject.

Finally a short blast of matt varnish while on the painting sticks and then a second light coating once based, to secure the base material and add extra resilience to those parts of the figures that will get handled.

I have tried to keep the base a bit ‘nondescript’ so that it can fit in with a variety of settings.  Good undercuts make the painting pretty straight forward and a ‘wargaming standard’ is easy to reach.

The only problem that I had was that the gunner’s hands did not align with the gun trigger. I should have done a dry fitting run, but I glued the gun to the base before priming. The elevation of the gun is perfect for the ammo belt feed, but not for the gunner to keep his knees and boots on the base AND hands on the piece. I have checked photo’s on the internet and other examples seem fine ..... so it must be me! Overall though, a nice piece.

24 Oct 2019

M4A1 taken by surprise!

With the Stalingrad module (Old School Tactical) reprinted, I thought I would jack the system up again in my head, by playing the first scenario from the Pocket Battles module, which unsurprisingly is quite compact. This is set outside Noville (near Bastogne) in December 1944, with a nicely winterised map for effect.

Here, the M4A1, sitting on the edge of a small copse, has been taken by surprise, as a pair of Panzer IVH have just appeared 600 yards ahead in the gap between two areas of woodland.

An uneven engagement results in the Sherman firstly becoming immobilized (as per the photograph) and then subsequently destroyed.

20 Oct 2019

Converting hex to open table

This is a test game to see what obstacles may exist to convert my Tigers at Minsk rules to an open table.

The game uses 10mm figures on a pinboard sized playing area.

More at the blog. Link

19 Oct 2019

Calming the Tiger!

Having painted the 1/72 Italeri fast build Tiger model, I had applied a rusting powder to the two exhaust shrouds, but the effects were far too strong and having since looked at photographs, the shrouds didn’t so much rust, as just generally get battered.

So a bit of dabbing with the base colour has calmed them right down to a better cohesive look.

Here is a link to how they used to look ... see the last photo. LINK

18 Oct 2019

Stalingrad module

The re-print for the Old School Tactical module from Flying Pig Games has just become available in the UK (from Second Chance Games).

For those of us late to the OST party, it is nice to get another chance of bringing this into the collection.

It was originally a Kickstarter stretch goal for the first game in the series and brought with it a dedicated Stalingrad board, scenarios and another counter sheet that importantly gives the Soviets Guard infantry as well as useful vehicles to both sides, including the T34/85 that appears in some OST 1 scenarios.

12 Oct 2019

Hastings anniversary

Invasion 1066 Battle of Hastings by Revolution Games.

An anniversary replay is over on the blog, together with a couple of shots of my growing 12mm Kallistra miniature armies.


12 Oct 2019

Kernstown 1862

We played another face-to-face game in Revolution Games’ Blind Swords series, this time Kernstown 1862.

The map is really nice, relatively open and easy to read. We noticed a few changes from the Stonewall’s Sword game and I am not sure how much of that is considered new rules that should be retrospectively fitted, so will check that out.

We did a really interesting scenario with the fact that a smaller, but more effective Confederate army takes on a bigger, but less experienced Union army and the game system really brings those differences out.

Also there is a conundrum for the Confederate player as to which geographical local to go for to get a victory, the distant Sandy Ridge or the nearer Pritchards Hill, which has very steep slopes and the top bristles with Union artillery. There is plenty of replay value in this particular scenario as that is explored.

The downside is that we are only making it through a few turns in a single session and as we stop, there is still everything to play for. The play itself is terrific, but we may need to start recording game positions at the end of play so that we can pick it up again the following week.

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