COLD WAR COC AAR – HOHENRODE 26TH FEB 2015

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On Thursday evening I took the trip down to the club in Edinburgh for another playtest of Cold War CoC.

The scenario was that the British had occupied the village of Hohenrode and that this blocked the route of the Soviet advance. It had to be cleared!

The table was as seen below with the British end being by the line of buildings.

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Neither side threw well for Force Morale but the Soviets got the initiative.

The Patrol Phase went as normal, with the British getting the maximum number of free moves and pushing forward aggressively. They ended up with their 3 JOPs quite spread – one in the building area on their right, one in the centre building of the row at the back and one on the table edge on their left. All 3 Soviet JOPs ended up on their baseline and quite close together by the road.

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As part of the support to their standard, BMP mounted Motor Rifle platoon, the Soviets had 2 Preliminary Barrages – one of HE to disrupt deployment and one of smoke to cover their advance. They used the latter well to cover a push up their left with 2 dismounted teams and a BMP in support. The third dismounted team masked their right.

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The British played a very cool game. Rolling their Command Dice but choosing to remain inactive, building towards the CoC Chit/Dice needed to end the first turn and get rid of the barrage and smoke. Of course, just as they were toying with coming on, the Soviets threw for a double phase and pushed through the smoke to block the right hand British JOP!

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However, the British ended the Turn and got rid of the smoke and barrage (the JOP didn’t fall just yet) and deployed 2 sections in the treeline covering their right flank and forward towards the Soviet team masking this area. The Soviets used an interrupt to get their on table BMP out of the way of any AT weapons, a dismounted team by the British JOP took some very effective fire and lost a couple of men and took some shock, dodging into the building to recover. The other dismount team was in cover and busily removing the British JOP – causing a Force Morale roll. The Soviet team on their right started to lay down covering fire but their firepower was no match for the British. However, the remaining 2 BMPs deployed to off table fire positions and their HE started to really shift the balance. Realising this, the Soviet commander moved his on table BMP into a fire position and let rip too. But the British Carl Gustav gunner was a cool man, he took careful aim, it was a hard shot, but BOOM, a direct hit (10 on 2 dice!!!) and a net 3 hits for a KO. The Soviets tested for Force Morale, which dropped hard. The British then focused fire on the isolated team on their left and wiped it out – more Force Morale loss. Only the Platoon Sergeant remained there, but not for long. A further wave of fire and he succumbed. This last Force Morale test broke the Soviets and game over!!

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I felt this was another really good test for the rules – the last had been with novices, these guys know CoC very well and also included ex military. The rules got a pretty all round thumbs up, although we did agree that the Soviets just aren’t right yet (many good ideas were, however, exchanged so I expect to be very close with them next time). So, excellent progress, I’m now revising the rules in the light of experiences so far and they are due 3 more runs out at least in the next few weeks, so we shall see how it all goes – watch this space!

Monty the Desert Rat

 

 

ELHIEM MINIATURES SUPERB SOVIETS

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As some of you may be aware, my focus is currently firmly on the Cold War and the development of a version of TooFatLardies excellent Chain of Command rules to allow me to represent that conflict. I’ve decided on 20mm and needed some figures, so I fired up my browser and went on the hunt – this is about the results.

First requirement was for some Soviet Motor Rifle troops. I wanted to be able to represent a platoon and all the usual supports and I wanted to be able to portray both the pre-PKM structure and the post-PKM one (the Soviets introduced PKM machine guns into squads starting in the early 80s). Anyway, first port of call was, as always, Elhiem Miniatures. I’ve always been very pleased with what I have had from them and the excellent service, so I usually go there first. However, for me to buy (literally) into a range I need to see that the range covers all the key requirements. All too often I find ranges that just don’t meet all the basic requirements. Now I do appreciate that manufacturers invest a lot in ranges and some figures will never be big sellers and that’s a conundrum. Do they make a comprehensive range and accept low sales of some figures in the hope of the range selling well, or do they just produce the ones that sell well? I really can’t answer that except to say that there are a number of occasions when I have not gone with one range and selected another based solely on the range of figures available.

However, this was not an issue – Elhiem had all the figures I needed and a good range too. I was especially pleased to realise that not all my squads would look the same and that there would be no duplicate figures in any squad. Really chuffed by that.

And so, with all the bases covered, what about the figures? For me it is all about style, sculpting and casting.

First of all, I really like the style of Elhiem Miniatures’ figures. I don’t know if all the proportions are absolutely correct, but they LOOK right and that, for me, trumps everything. There is no ‘chunkiness’ about the figures but nor do they look ‘slender’. The weapons also seem in good proportion. I know this latter is a really difficult issue for sculptors, but these weapons look far closer to the mark than most whilst also not being too delicate; these are wargames figures after all and will get handled. There was also something else about these figures that I just couldn’t put my finger on until I started work on the BAOR figures and had a ‘flashback’. The poses were perfect, bringing back the memories of soldiers carrying weapons and webbing. The latter for infantry in the British Army is defined as a standard 44lbs and weapons are not light; these figures don’t look like they are wearing webbing and holding weapons, they look like they are CARRYING them. The slight lean on the man with the Carl Gustav on his back is just perfect.

And now the sculpting and casting as, for me, these 2 go together – the former can be severely compromised by the latter. With Elhiem, both are of the highest standards. The detail of vents on the stocks of weapons is clearly visible, faces are distinct, hands clearly defined and uniforms ‘creased’ in the right places, all with enough depth to really reward a wash/dry brush method but without being pronounced. Webbing straps are precise, straight edged and distinct – just run a paint brush along and the sculpting does a good chunk of the work for you. There is also a tremendous attention to detail – on the BAOR figures I noticed a small ‘bump’ on the back lower edge of the respirator pouch – hmmmm. And then it came back, the little pouch with cord tucked in it!! Superb. And that accuracy is another of my key requirements and is something that I always find with Elhiem.

But all of this would be pointless unless the casting was of the same standard – and it is. Cleaning the figures is easy. There are a few casting run offs but these snip away cleanly and easily. You can just about make out the odd mould line, but these are not pronounced and a quick ‘tickle’ with a file and they are gone. This is REALLY important to me, all too often I find myself deciding whether to get rid of mould lines and lose detail or leave the line and keep the detail. No such dilemmas here. And the voids in the crooks of arms? Nothing major – a little thin flash on rare occasions but a quick trim with a sharp knife and done.

And I really like the thin and flat bases – no trouble to blend into the final base.

You may have guessed, but these are wonderful figures and I really like them. They are a joy to work with and are amongst the very best figures I have ever worked with. I can only give the highest possible recommendation. I can only hope these photos do them some justice.

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And how did I paint them?

First off, a spray with Plastic Soldier Company British Khaki

A base cost of Vallejo English Uniform

A wash with diluted Army Painter Strong Tone

A dry brush with Vallejo US Field Drab

Leather is Vallejo leather

Webbing is Vallejo Russian Uniform washed with Olive green

Weapons black/light brown

Boots black

Helmets Russian Green with a dry brush of lightened Russian green

Patches – Army Painter Pure Red and Vallejo Flat Yellow

Flesh is Flat Flesh washed with dark sepia

And that’s about it!

 

Monty the Desert Rat

POST WAR CHAIN OF COMMAND BATTLE REPORT – DOHRENHAUSEN 13 FEB 15

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On the 13th of February 6 of us met at the Kirriemuir Wargames Club to playtest the Post War version of Chain of Command, which is being developed with TooFatLardies.

The table was laid out as below:

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The left hand photo shows the layout from the British side and the right hand photo from the Soviet side. The line of trees across the Soviet baseline actually lines the edge of a road, so we allowed the Soviets to deploy vehicles anywhere along their table edge. The ground was all good going except the woods and cleared woodland in the middle, which were all Broken Ground. The hedges were all Medium Obstacles. This was taken just before I placed the brewed up T64 – the destruction of which set the battle in motion. The mat is by me, all the trees etc are by The Last Valley and are simply delightful, the roads (watch this space) are from Early War Miniatures and I have finally found the solution, at least for me, in terms of flexible roads – I’m really happy with them.

And we had a full, regular Soviet Motor Rifle Platoon in BMPs against 2 sections of elite British mechanised infantry, although the latter had wisely left their FV 432s back in a safe location!

We didn’t play the Patrol Phase at all – I simply positioned JOPs for both sides – this was because at this stage the Patrol Phase needs no testing as it has not altered from the core rules and because I wanted to press ahead and focus on the game play.

The Soviets went first and deployed a BMP on their left flank, one in the centre and a dismounted team on their right, pushed forward of the tree line and so a little exposed.

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The British countered by deploying a full section and opening fire on the dismounts. The latter were hard hit over a couple of phases, losing 50% of their manpower and the Platoon Sergeant with them went down stunned. Shock was mounting and, with their leader down, they could do little but hunker down and try to weather the storm. They took no further substantive part in the game. The Section’s Carl Gustav (Charlie G) had a pop at the BMP, but missed. It was actually quite a hard target – some distance away, not in clear view and a low profile vehicle. Here are the deployed Brits (figures from Elhiem – absolutely stunning! I’ll be writing more here on the figures shortly, but they really are amongst the best I have ever worked on).

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So, round one to the British and all going swimmingly well! Enter the BMP in the centre. It began to put down HE on the plucky Brits and wiped out the MG team before starting to pile the shock on the rifle group. This forced the British to withdraw deeper into the woods to escape the fire and bring on the Platoon Sergeant to do a bit of ‘encouraging!’. He also brought the light mortar with him (smoke only at this time) but a first round hit put smoke right  in front of the centre BMP and blocked all its useful vision!

Action remained in the centre. The centre BMP dismounted its team with the Platoon Commander and began to push forward. The right hand squad’s BMP also came on behind their dismounts to provide support. Worried about the open ground to their right, the second British section came on and deployed in an L shape – gun group covering forward and the rifle group, with the Charlie G, covering across the road to the right flank. The gun group began piling the shock on the Soviet Platoon Commander’s team, killing a couple and effectively halting their progress. But not without loss, with the Soviet right flank BMP using its HE to good effect, and the British Section Commander had to move a couple of chaps across to keep the gun group in action.

Action now switched to the Soviet left – a sound move. They had forced the British to deploy and then pushed them back. The Soviet left flank BMP now headed flat out for the hedgeline to their front and the British rifle group went on to ‘overwatch’. The BMP halted at the hedge to disgorge its dismounts, who took a position along the hedge, the BMP surviving a close miss from the Charlie G in the process.

But time was marching on and the Soviet commander knew it was now all or nothing. He ordered both the centre and left flank BMPs to advance as fast as possible and try to exit the table before the clock ran down to 0!

The central BMP accelerated down the road, slowing to pass the burning T64 and relying on speed to get past the Charlie G on overwatch and it sooooo nearly worked. First round missed, but the second flew true and the BMP lurched to a halt. Meanwhile, the Soviet left flank BMP also crossed the hedge and began to accelerate towards the table edge. The British Section Commander steadied his gunner’s nerves and BOOM!, the BMP exploded with another direct hit.

These 2 kills and especially the loss of the 2 section commanders in charge of the vehicles left Soviet Force Morale, despite the use of a Chain of Command Dice to avoid one test, crashing and with little time left, the Soviets conceded! Here’s the table at the end, on the left looking from the Soviet right flank (you can see the 2 dismounted teams and the BMP in the foreground). The second shows it from the Soviet left flank and you can clearly see the foremost burning BMP on the road and its colleague just across the hedge.

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So, the verdict on what was a playtest first and foremost – a great game! All the players enjoyed themselves, the game went to the wire having swung back and forth and the overall consensus was that the result was credible, that the rules had played out well and that they had been easy to grasp! There were a few issues that need tweaking and clarifying, but it was, overall, an extremely successful outing for the rules and real testimony to the robustness of Richard Clarke’s original work.

Monty the Desert Rat

 

 

 

POST WAR CHAIN OF COMMAND

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As some of you may know, I have been busy working away on a Post War version of Chain of Command in conjunction with Richard Clarke of TooFatLardies and I thought it about time I gave an update, so here goes!!

The first thing to say is that the structure and time periods are not yet set in stone. We will be covering the period from about 1960 – 1990 but we need to see whether the period between 1945 and 1960 is best done as supplements to the WW2 version of the rules or as supplements to the Post War ones. With the latter period, it is also a question of how far the rules will stretch to cover and at what point we need to stop.

At the moment, the plan is a core set of rules backed up by conflict specific scenarios – The Cold War, Vietnam and Indo China being the ones at the top of the pile, but with others to follow after that.

And what stage are we at? Initial playtesting. We have a mature enough set of concepts to expose them to some real action testing and so the next couple of months will be devoted to that. For me, that means lots of Cold War action. My Brits will face off against the Soviet horde on Friday (report to follow) with further engagements planned for the 26th of Feb and the 19th of March. So stay tuned for more over the coming weeks!!

Monty the Desert Rat

 

KAMPFGRUPPE VON LUCK FROM TOOFATLARDIES

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TooFatLardies have just released the second pint sized campaign for their Chain of Command rules! This time it is the panzer grenadiers of Major von Luck of 21st Panzer Division against 12 Para in the Orne Bridgehead on D Day. Available for £3.60 at:

http://toofatlardies.co.uk/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=25&products_id=157

Monty the Desert Rat