Generally speaking, there are 3 ‘systems’ of wargames terrain:

1. Fixed, landscaped boards that interlink.
2. A flat surface with terrain laid on top.
3. A cloth covering some form of shaper to create contours and then terrain on top.

I have long since adopted System 3, based very much on the mats I make but, whether you follow number 2 or number 3, you need terrain to lay on top. This can become a real challenge as much in the way of terrain is inflexible and so you can end up with bits of roads sticking up into the air or being confined to putting them on the flat. The answer is, of course, flexible items and so my long search for the right solution has gone on and on – BUT NO MORE!! Early War Miniatures:

have the solution.

I have the Open Tracks 20mm to 28mm scale:

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The Open narrow Tracks 20mm to 15mm:

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and the Flowing Streams 20mm to 15mm:

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And I am absolutely delighted with them. Why?

Question: Are they really flexible?

Answer: Yes, very much so – you can bend them to angles you would never need on a wargames table without problem.

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Question: How easy are they to paint?

Answer: Very. You need to use water based paints but I mainly used hobby paints rather than the more expensive modelling ones and they worked really well. The detail is clear and distinct and really helped with dry brushing. I wanted my roads to be widely useable theatre wise and so did a simple base coat and a dry brush and job done, although you could do several layers of dry brushing. The addition of grass also really brings them to life, as I did with the streams.

Question: Aah, but surely the paint flakes off when you flex them?

Answer: Not at all! The material is a latex and the upper layers are ‘porous’ and so the paint actually sinks in and becomes part of the material – it is almost as if you are colouring the material. I have given mine some rough treatment and lost not a fleck of paint so far! Here is a shot taken immediately after I had curled the road up for the shot above:


As you can see – perfect!

Question: Do they need varnishing?

Answer: No because the paint sinks in. That said, I used gloss varnish for the water and they are still more than flexible enough.

Question: What’s the range like?

Answer: Good and expanding.

Question: Where can I see them?

Answer: Either at the Early War Miniatures Trade Stand or come along and see me at any of the Shows I attend:

Question: Where can I buy them?

Answer: From Early War Miniatures:

although you can order through them and collect from me at a Show, if that is more convenient for you.

So, overall, I am VERY impressed with these. They fit my needs exactly, look great, are easy to paint and are very robust. I really do recommend taking a look at this growing range. Five Stars!!

Monty the Desert Rat



It was a black day for the RFC!

Last Friday good chum Dave was back to continue our Algy campaign. We are jumping forward in 3 month bounds because we want to move through to the end of the War in a reasonable number of games so we can see the development of the planes and the changes in balance as time progresses.

Anyway, so it was April 1917. A ‘Big Push’ was on the cards and the Germans had located a British Divisional HQ close to the front. With the Push probably only days away, the Germans decided to complicate British planning and bomb the HQ! They sent 2 Rolands with bombs and an escort of 2 Albatross DIIIs. All German crews were experienced except for the leader of the Scouts, a Junior Ace.

On the British side, we had elements of 2 squadrons again. The Nieuport 17s were back, but this time with a Veteran Flight Leader and an Experienced wingman – both having progressed as a result of the last game. We also had the same 2 Pups with a Junior Ace and an Experienced wingman.

So, the Germans came on in the centre of their short edge, the Rolands flanked by the Scouts, who were also higher. The Nieuports were clearly on their game again and came on first move from the British left corner of their short edge and quite high too. The Pups? Once again, breakfast was clearly too good and there was no sign of them. Here are the Germans coming on and the Nieuports diving to meet them:


As the Nieuports swooped in on the bombers, the Pups arrived on the opposite (right) corner and used their speed to good effect to drive towards the Rolands, who proceeded to advance towards their target, dropping to low level and positioning themselves for bombing runs in sequence.

The Pups arrive with the German Junior Ace heading straight for them:


And now it all turned into a real melee!! The Experienced German Albatross Pilot stayed high and pretty much out of the action, but the Pups swept past the Rolands and pulled round to get behind them. The Nieuports were closing on them from their front right and things were looking good for the RFC. The German Junior Ace was coming past with a view to coming round and back towards the Rolands and the British fighters.


First off, the Nieuport wingman got off a burst and forced the left hand (grey) Roland to side slip – would it be enough to compromise his bombing run? Sadly not and both Rolands successfully bombed the target scoring a whopping 5 points of damage. Next up was the British Junior Ace in his Pup he closed and got a chance to get on the tail of the left hand (grey) Roland – “anything but a 1” was the cry and he duly threw a 1!

As the lead Pup moved and overshot the left hand (grey) Roland, the Nieuports moved in behind him and again, a chance for the Flight Leader to get on the tail – “anything but a 1” and he managed it!

The Pup overshoots but the Nieuports come in and get on the tail:


But the Roland got the first shot and the gunner did enough to cause the British pilot to lose control and go into a spin. Now the problem was that we were so low because of the German bombing run, that the pilot had no chance to recover and crashed into the ground. One down.

The German Junior Ace then tried his luck against the Pup Junior Ace, it was a hard shot but, once again, just enough to cause the Pup pilot to go into a spin and yes, still too low and into the ground he went! Two down.

The Nieuport wingman had his go next, we ruled that we would give him a chance to take over on the tail having seen his leader crash – “anything but a 1” and, guess what, ANOTHER 1! He overshot and could only watch over his shoulder as the Rolands both turned for home and safety, the grey giving him a parting shot! But it wasn’t over yet! The German Junior Ace manoeuvred hard to come in behind the fleeing Nieuport and duly got on the tail. With his superior firepower and having got up close the Nieuport really stood no chance at all – a long burst and the Nieuport burst into flames and headed into the deck. Three down.


So, a REALLY bad day for the RFC. In campaign terms, the German Junior Ace chalked up his third kill and is now a Top Ace! The Grey Roland crew both did enough to become Veterans and the Pilot has been transferred to the Scouts with his replacement being a Sprog – good job he has a veteran in the back seat. The other Germans remained unchanged as experienced crews. As a Top Ace, the German commander has much more choice in terms of planes and will return in a brand new Albatross DVa! His Scout comrades will retain their DIIIs, at least for the next game, and the Roland will also soldier on.

As for the British. Only the Pup wingman was left and he stayed as Experienced. We rolled up 5 more Pilots to give us a total of 6 – British numbers are starting to tell as we move to July 1917. The Nieuport Squadron has been withdrawn as a result of the losses and has been replaced with a Squadron fresh from conversion to the new SE5a! They come with a Junior Ace and 2 Experienced pilots. The Pup Squadron got another Experienced Pilot and a Sprog and remain equipped with Pups for the time being – although there is talk of a new Sopwith super weapon due towards the end of the year and they have been warned for conversion!

And what’s up next – Balloon Busting!!

As for the rules, we have made a few changes to the playtest version and these have worked well. We have also come up with a few more to test in the next game but we are really finding that these games now flow well, give realistic results and play well and quickly for a club evening.

Monty the Desert Rat



Thursday saw another trip to Edinburgh for a further playtest of the Cold War version of TooFatLardies’ superb Chain of Command rules.

Once again, we saw the might of the Soviet Union pitted against the plucky Brits of 1 Br Corps. We were situated in the Main Defensive Zone as the Soviets sought to expand a breakthrough to open a route west for exploitation by their tanks. The Soviets had a full BMP mounted Motor Rifle Platoon and a section of 2 T64Bs in support. They also had an HE preliminary barrage and a smoke preliminary barrage. The British had a full Mechanised Infantry Platoon (less 432s), 2 minefields and a Chieftain positioned off table in a support role.

Here is the table from the Soviet and British ends respectively:


And after the Patrol Phase – you can see the advanced Soviet JOP on the left (the rest were on the home table edge) and the British along the trees with one more over by the building on the right. It also shows the 2 British minefields on the left.


And now with the Soviet smoke:


The Soviet plan was to push along both flanks. Their armour came on over on their right flank and was pushed forward hard, covered by the smoke. Their Motor Rifle troops came on dismounted via an advanced JOP on their left flank and they were quickly in occupation of the building on that flank – one section upstairs, one down and one to the rear of the building on cover. They were also able to gradually bring on their BMPs in off table positions to provide fire support, albeit obscured by the smoke at this stage.

The Soviets moving into the house and the armour heading into the smoke:


The British struggled to deploy. Some poor dice throwing meant they came on in dribs and drabs and, crucially, the Soviet armour was able to block the JOP on the British left flank before it could be used. This forced the British to deploy in the treeline across the centre. A firefight then ensued. The British had the numbers against the Soviets in the house, but the better cover of the house evened that out and the arrival of the Soviet armour, bristling with MGs, really swung the balance. The British were gradually worn down, becoming pinned and then suppressed with several leaders falling dead and wounded; there was only one way this was going to end. The Turn ended and the smoke duly cleared. For the Soviets, this allowed their BMPs to add their HE into the firefight, but not before the British Chieftain interrupted to destroy one of them with a well placed round. Although Soviet morale had suffered, the bombardment of the British platoon left them with few men, lots of shock and a force morale that duly plummeted. Victory to the Soviet Union!!

At the top here we see the British deploying on overwatch in the treeline and, below, we see one Soviet T64B in position and the second will come up on the nearer corner. We also see the 3 BMPs poised to give fire support.


From a game design perspective, this game went really well. We have been working through some issues of Soviet Activation and Command to try am make sure we accurately represent the way Soviet forces operated. In the past, we have found it simply too difficult for the Soviets to work in a combined arms fashion but with the inherent friction in their command procedures still evident. This time, we think we cracked it! It felt absolutely spot on.

The firefight also played out very well with the adjustments to overwatch being thoroughly tested and proven. Again, a real feeling that we had captured that exchange of fire and the effects very well.

The Victory or Defeat process is also much better, but a couple of tweaks are still necessary.

Overall, the consensus was that it was another great game, that we really are hitting the mark now with the rules, after over half a dozen full playtest games, at a pretty well developed stage.

We will be at Carronade on the 9th of May running a Participation Game – whether you fancy taking over Western Europe or defending freedom from the Red hordes, do please come and join us or stop by to see how things are going on NATO’s Central Front.


Monty the Desert Rat