Last weekend I traveled down to Stockton for my last Show of the year – Battleground. This is a really great Show, extremely well organised by Pendraken Miniatures, even down to bacon butties at 0830!!. It has a very friendly atmosphere and is well laid out with plenty of space to circulate, even around the tabletop sale. There are loads of interesting traders to visit and, although I didn’t get around much, there were quite a few games that caught my eye and that I would have liked to explore further and closer up – better organisation required on my part next year!

As ever, I was there both as Monty and as a Lard Ambassador, in this case showing the upcoming Red Dawn Cold War supplement to TooFatLardies’ excellent Chain of Command rules. The scenario was based on a Soviet air assault on the crossings over the River LEINE, with our particular interest focused on a small bridge on the approach to the river. The Soviets were keen to seize it to ease the advance of their Main Body, the British clearly wanted to prevent that.

Here’s the table, the British to the left as you look at it:







We managed 2 games and ended up with one win to each side. In the first game, the Soviets made a dash for the bridge, were caught in the open and hit hard. The British managed 4 phases in a row and had effectively dealt with one squad and pinned another on the hill over to their right. All going well! But the Soviets don’t give up easily – the British player brought on a section and rushed for the cover of the hedge to the left of the bridge. Decisions, decisions, do you try and make it in one go or go tactical? The British player opted to go for it with 2 dice and fell short! The Soviet player then let rip with all he had and managed a couple of phases in a row. Here we see the active members of the section after that:



And those at the back are a different unit! One section wiped out, 2 leaders lost and the Soviets were laying down some serious fire. The British continued to take losses on their left, where they were now outnumbered and finally broke. Round one to the Soviets!

Round 2 saw the same set up. The Soviets again spread themselves across the table with the British focused on the centre. This time we saw little attempt at manoeuvre with both sides seeking cover and trying to win the firefight. The Soviet player was spread and the British were able to focus their fire, causing some significant damage (very good dice rolling) and the Soviets were unlucky in losing leaders quite quickly and they all, except the Platoon Sergeant (!), proved quite popular. Soviet force morale plummeted and, as we approached the end of the Show they were down to 2 with no real prospect of making any progress. Honours even.

And here are some more shots of the action:











Monty the Desert Rat



A week ago yesterday I travelled down the road to Falkirk for the ‘Hundred Years of War’ day – an event that is becoming annual and which is designed to promote the Society of Twentieth Century Wargamers.

The format for the day is that there are 2 game sessions – one in the morning and one in the afternoon; the idea being that people can get 2 different games in during the day.

In the morning I played in a Pulp game – far from my normal fare but it was an excellent game – well thought out, well run and with interesting challenges. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and, if you’d like to know more about the game, just visit:

and look up Skull Island.

In the afternoon I was running a game of Red Dawn the upcoming Cold War supplement to TooFatLardies’ excellent Chain of Command rules.

You can see the table here:



The scenario was that a Soviet Motor Rifle unit had been air assaulted into an HLS some distance off table to the left. Their objective was a bridge off table to the right. The Bridge Guard – a platoon of Territorial Army soldiers and a detachment of Royal Engineers (preparing the bridge for demolition) dispatched 2 sections led by the Platoon Commander to establish a blocking position on the high ground to the left. The Platoon Sergeant remained in command of the bridge with one section and the Royal Engineers. So, the British needed to establish their blocking position, meanwhile one platoon of the Soviet Motor Rifles had been sent ahead to clear the route and try to capture the bridge by coup de main.

The scene was set and the Patrol Phase saw the British with two JOPS in the low, rough ground in the centre and one on their extreme right flank, well advanced. The Soviets were similar, with 2 central just behind the ridge and one well advanced on their right flank. The British centre JOPs;



The British came on quickly, pushing a section from the right hand JOP up into the woods, aiming for the hill.



The second section and platoon HQ came on in the centre. The 3 Soviet squads also deployed quickly – two behind the ridge



and one over on their right.

The British on the right got into a good position on the ridge but the Soviets sent 2 squads that way, aiming to get into close combat and swamp the isolated Brits. The centre British section was moving to assist, but the Soviets closed quickly and attacked. The dice gods were not kind – only one squad made it into close combat, but they threw the Brits off the crest and occupied it themselves. The British Section, however, then responded by opening fire on the reorganising Soviets and did tremendous damage – leaving them suppressed. The other British section arrived and they all went over to the attack. This time, both sections made it into combat against the one remaining Soviet squad, which had moved up to support the suppressed squad. Outnumbered, the Soviets failed to cause much damage and the British not only broke that squad, but killed the platoon commander. Things were not looking good for the Soviets and, at that point, we called it.



We declared it a British victory – they had men on the ridge, albeit down about ½ a section, but they had their blocking position. The Soviets had lost 2 squads, but the third was moving round the back of the British position and would be able to continue on to close with the bridge. With no radio to talk to company, coordination would be problematic, but we acknowledged the partial Soviet victory as well.


Monty the Desert Rat



Last Friday Dave was round to continue our WW1 air campaign using TooFatLardies’ excellent Algy rules. In fact, we are using the version 2 Playtest rules, which dispense with hexes

It was a very different evening as we have missed a couple of game dates for a variety of reasons and wanted to move things along, so we played 2 games in the evening. We adjusted the firing rules to make things more brutal to help things along and we weren’t wrong about that!

The 2 games were set in October 1917 and January 1918, so the war is marching towards a conclusion. For the first game, I had 3 Camels and 3 SE5a s against a Rumpler, a Fokker DR1 and 2 Albatross DVa s. In each of my Flights I had a Junior Ace backed by a Veteran in the Camels and the rest were Experienced. Dave’s Top Ace took the Fokker, he had a Veteran and an Experienced pilot for the DVa s and a Sprog Pilot with a Veteran Rear Gunner for the Rumpler.

I won’t go into too much detail – to be honest, it was very focused gaming and I had no chance to make notes and the 2 games, being over quite quickly, have merged into one a little. Anyway, the first game went to the Germans, although we both lost a plane. In my case my SE5a Junior Ace was downed but I did get the Rumpler in exchange. The difference was, however, Pilot quality – a Junior Ace being more of a loss than a Sprog.

The second game was even more brutal. Dave and my Camels went head to head whilst my SE5a s came in from my right to try and get onto the scouts. Some nifty moves and a well judged break of formation saw Dave’s Ace and Veteran get on the tail of my Camel Junior Ace and a Veteran respectively (this Veteran had replaced the Experienced Pilot from Game 1, the Experienced Pilot having had engine trouble on take off). Dave’s Veteran duly nailed my Veteran and the Ace jammed my Junior Ace’s rudder. My other Camel Veteran then pulled an amazing move – he managed to get in between his Flight Leader and the Top Ace, going nose to nose with the latter and damaging his engine. The SE5s were coming into the fight as well, all except the Sprog, who just couldn’t get his turns right! The Experienced Albatross Pilot duly got on to him and down he went. However, one of the SE5s then got behind him and they headed for British Lines. The Albatross broke the tail and turned for home, he would be safe!

The other Albatross was trying to run interference for his Top Ace leader, the latter was limping for home, diving as he went to gain some speed and escape pursuit. Two British aircraft were in the hunt – the same Camel, damaged but still able to match the crippled Fokker, and one of the SE5s. The latter latched onto the Albatross and sent him down in flames, leaving the Camel to pursue the Top Ace. Try as he might, he just couldn’t land the killer blow as the Ace played every trick he knew to keep his aircraft in the air, ducking and weaving but, at the last gasp and as safety beckoned, the Camel fired a sustained burst and the aircraft exploded.

Looking at the value of the Pilots lost in the second game, it was a draw. However, across the 2 games, the Germans were in front. Looking at it another way, however, it was 4 British planes lost to 3 Germans, or 50% versus 75%, a loss rate the Germans just cannot sustain. The British have 4 aircraft and pilots left for the next game, the Germans only one, albeit with the Pilot upgraded to Veteran and with a Kill under his belt. If only additional resources could be released from somewhere else, like the Russian Front!!!!!

And here are the pics of the games:

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Monty the Desert Rat



Yesterday saw the Grand Opening of the new and very shiny Monty HQ.


After working in a cupboard in the roof for what seems like eternity, over the summer good friend, wargaming buddy and Mr Fixit in the grandest sense, Jimmy, has been hard at work converting our old garage into the new Monty HQ. He has, in short, done a superb job, turning a shell with an uneven and collapsing floor into a fully insulated and lined, light, airy space with room for a painting station, an office area and, most importantly (of course) a permanent table! At the moment, I have a 6′ x 4½’ table set up but I can go as large as a 12′ x 5′ should I so wish. Happy Days!


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After (but with the table still needing clearing off!!) The cage is to keep the dog away from the nasties such as glue!!:

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To mark the occasion, I invited the guys round for a game. Some had family/holiday commitments and pleaded leave to be excused on the grounds that domestic harmony was actually quite important to them …..bizarre!!

So, the stage was set for 4 of us to meet – Steve R (who kindly provided the buildings and beautiful figures – many thanks, Steve), Steve S, Jimmy (yes, the man behind the work) and myself. We have been playing a lot of Lion Rampant recently and having lots of fun. It is quick to grasp, plays quickly and gives a fun and enjoyable game – perfect. We had a 30 point Retinue each and 2 players a side. As we tend to play War of the Roses, Steve R and Jimmy were Lancastrian whilst Steve S and myself were Yorkist. We were essentially defending – I was the local (appropriate!) and deployed on table whilst Steve S was rushing to assist me, arriving on my right. The Lancastrians deployed with Steve R opposite me and Jimmy opposite Steve S. We all had secret, individual tasks to achieve – I had to secure the furthest building from me as it was the local food store, Steve R was also after a building, the one furthest from him (and closest to me) as he had hidden some money in the garden last time he passed through and was keen to recover it. Steve S simply had to break as many units as he could whilst Jimmy had a personal feud with me and needed to see me dead!!

Here’s the table. Looking at the first picture, the Yorkists are on the right with me nearest the camera and Steve S at the top:

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The woods on both flanks actually proved key. On my side of the table, Steve R pushed some Yeomen and his mounted Men at Arms through the wood. I really didn’t want the latter coming out behind my flank and also saw an opportunity to deal with them in the broken ground, which would put them at a disadvantage. I therefore pushed my Foot Sergeants and a unit of Yeomen into the wood to at least contain and, hopefully, destroy them. As it was, this flank played out inconclusively. The mounted Men at Arms wisely withdrew but never really came into the game so, in that sense, I succeeded. However, 2 of my units were drawn in and lost to the rest of the game, engaged rather in a inconclusive struggle in the trees with 2 units of Yeomen, although I did eventually, with the help of my archers, break one unit.

On the other flank, Steve S choose to move through the woods to deploy and it took forever! This left me somewhat thinly stretched and Jimmy wisely moved his men up on to the hill and the lower ground to his right, successively pushing forward a unit of Yeomen down the right hand end of the hill. Meanwhile, his mounted Sergeants pushed into the woods to try and turn Steve S’s right flank.

My archers were split both sides of the village, which was occupied by 3 units of Serfs, one in each building. My expert archers on the left side got themselves into a duel with Steve R’s expert archers and came off worse, freeing Steve R’s expert archers to engage other targets. To the right of the village, I had some archers and some crossbowmen backed by a unit of yeomen. The missile troops did well, targeting Jimmy’s yeomen coming down the hill and breaking the 2 units in succession. However, they were subject to the attentions of Steve R’s other archer unit, a unit of Jimmy’s archers in some rough ground and, for quite a bit of the time, Jimmy’s expert archers on the hill. Slowly my missile men died, retreated and broke. Steve R’s expert archers had shifted fire to a Yeomen unit blocking the road in the village and, whilst not breaking them, he reduced them to half strength and forced them back and out of the game.

Steve S was slowly coming into the fight but the activation dice meant he did so piecemeal and Jimmy’s archers were able to focus on units as they appeared and devastate them.

With the Lancastrians formed up with their archers dominating the ground and our missile troops gone or going, we had but one choice – close and close quickly. I led my yeomen from the centre forward in a desperate bid to get to grips as Steve S’s mounted sergeant’s did the same. The end result was our men looking like a whole bunch of pin cushions!!

And, at this point, we conceded. I had dropped to below half of my retinue’s points and one of the units of serfs had legged it as a result. This left me with my foot sergeants and a unit of yeomen in the wood waaaay over on my right, 2 units of serfs in the village just waiting to be shot to pieces and then bundled out, half a unit of yeomen in full withdrawal mode and me! Steve S was in better shape, but just wasn’t able to make headway against the mass of Lancastrians.

As for our objectives – the routing serfs ran from the food store itself and there was no way I was going to hold, so I failed. Steve R would take the village and so would recover his money. Jimmy had done his very best to kill me, but I survived, so a fail for him. And how many points worth of units had Steve S broken………………..0! So we reckon that counted as a fail as well! (Although, to be fair, he had done quite some damage, it had just been my men that had caused the breaks.)

And the photos:

The early moves:


Here you can see my troops heading off into the woods, Steve S coming on and Jimmy and Steve R establishing their lines:


A close up of Steve R’s troops with the mounted Men at Arms coming back out of the wood:


Steve S struggles with the woods, the stream and a turnip field!


The Yorkist centre! The troops top left in the wood are mine, there I am all on my own to the right of the village, the troops at the back are all dead/routed and it’s not looking too good!


And the final view from the Yorkist right flank (where we had some troops left!)


But the overall aim was achieved – a fun game with friends to mark the completion of Monty HQ and to set the scene for many more games to come!!


Monty the Desert Rat.



I know it has been a couple of days since the show, but I was exhausted after the day and then it was straight back to work so I am only now finding the time to put finger to keyboard. That said, it was as excellent a show as ever as far as I could tell. I was pretty much tied to my stand all day with interested parties and the game, so I really didn’t get to see much of the show at all, which is a real shame but goes with the territory.

Anyway, the game. I ran Red Dawn but this time we were part of the covering force battle. Once again, the game was curtailed to suit a participation game – no Patrol Phase and only a couple of Soviet squads against one British section and a sniper. The scenario pitted the remnants of a Combat Recce Patrol of a Motor Rifle Battalion, BMP equipped, against British mechanised infantry. The table looked like this from the Soviet side:






and like this from the British side:



The woods were broken ground as was the deforested area in the centre. The game started with a T64 brewed up by a bar mine just to the left (as we look at it from the British side) of the far trees. A BMP with the Platoon Commander was following and a second BMP with the Company Commissar was about to cross the stream just above the trees on the left of the picture.

The Soviets began by moving the OC’s BMP into the trees looking to use the dead ground behind the hill on their left to approach the British end, the second BMP, moving very slowly (double 1!) edged across the ford aiming to close before debussing.

The British Rifle Team duly deployed into the left wood and fired their Carl Gustav – close range, in the open, moving slowly – KABOOM! Scratch one BMP. This caused a flurry of tests as it exploded so the Soviets had to throw for the loss of the vehicle, the loss of the section, the loss of the section leader and the loss of the Commissar. But these things matter a lot less to the Soviets than NATO and Force Morale only dropped by 2.

Was this game over? Some thought so, but the Soviets pressed on and brought the BMP up the reverse slope. They deployed their dismounts, placed the BMP in a hull down position and held the Platoon Commander back out of the line of fire but still in a position to control matters. The fire from the dismounts and especially the BMP’s HE started to blow chunks out of the British. The GPMG team deployed with the rifle group to add their fire and shock kept hitting the Soviets. However, the combination of the Platoon Command and the BMP commander allowed them to keep the shock down and keep firing. It was an uneven battle and, after a particularly devastating HE round, the British, close to being pinned and reduced to little more than a gun group, pulled back into cover.

At this point, the Soviets saw their chance to close and the BMP accelerated across the table with the dismounts running as fast as they could to keep up. This exposed the Platoon Commander and the sniper duly deploy, in the same trees as the rest of the British, and did not miss! Down went the Platoon Commander. The Soviets dodged the Force Morale test, which is a very damaging one for the Soviets, by using a Chain of Command dice – a good call.

And the BMP rolled on! As it came through the trees the British, using a Chain of Command dice to interrupt, fired their last anti armour weapon – an M72 LAW – at it but the weapon had clearly been damaged in all the fighting as no hit was achieved (double 1). At this point the British scattered and conceded.

Overall, another good game of Red Dawn and one that all players seemed to enjoy! Many thanks to everyone, who stopped by to say hello.


Monty the Desert Rat




Dave was around for another Algy game last Friday and things certainly went better for the RFC. This was very pleasing as we had set out to ‘chart’ the progress of air combat through the latter part of WW1, starting in Jan 1917. After a couple of bruising encounters through the early months of that year we have now hit the summer. The SE5a has arrived and the general quality of RFC pilots is also up – these are the survivors of those brutal months. So we were hoping to see the tables begin to turn.

We decided to go Balloon Busting this time!! A German Observation Balloon has been calling down accurate artillery fire on the British preparations for the upcoming Big Push to break through the German lines and it has been decided that it has to come down!!

The British started with 3 Sopwith Pups with a Junior Ace, an Experienced Pilot and a Sprog. These were to attack the balloon and were to approach in formation with the Experienced Pilot leading, the Junior Ace on his right and the Sprog on his left. They were covered by 2 SE5as with a Junior Ace and an Experienced Pilot. Opposing them were 3 Albatross DVas with the Top Ace, a Veteran and an Experienced pilot. Here we see the Pups on the left approaching the balloon whilst, on the right, we have the SE5a top cover!

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The Germans arrived promptly on the British right and moved to get on their tails:

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It now really broke down into 2 separate combats, so let’s deal with the Pups first! They maintained formation well and made a superb approach to the balloon, diving as the balloon saw them coming and began to be winched down – the crew had jumped at the first sight of the approaching Pups! The German Veteran, however, was hot on their heels! he could tell the pilot on the left was struggling to hold his position and identified him as the easy target. He maneuvered into position but failed to get on the tail and on the Pups flew. Now in range, the Experienced Pilot, armed with Buckingham ammunition, opened fire – a hit and the gas bag was punctured but no explosion! Next up was the Junior Ace and he made no mistake – a long and accurate burst and the balloon exploded. All 3 Pups were rocked by the blast but all pilots retained control. However, the German Veteran took this opportunity to get onto the Sprog’s tail. As planned, the Pups reversed course and dove for home. All except for the Sprog, who lost control and, over the next couple of turns and closely watched by the German Albatross, spun into the ground.


Meanwhile the remaining 2 Albatross and the SE5as had a real dogfight. The German Top Ace decided to try and bag the Experienced SE5a and maneuvered to try and achieve that. His wingman failed to follow and the SE5a Junior Ace spotted his mistake, swung onto his tail and duly shot him down. Strike 2 to the RFC!! The German Top Ace, meanwhile, was on the tail of the other SE5a. A quick burst and the SE5a’s rudder jammed – thank heavens he was heading the right way – for home!


But help was at hand as the SE5a Junior Ace spun round and latched onto the German’s tail. Realising the balloon was down, that one Albatross was down and that the odds were unfavourable, the German Ace pulled hard away off his target’s tail, losing his own tail in the process, and both sides withdrew.

So, a much better show from the RFC. The better planes in the SE5a really made a difference and we are expecting the Camels to arrive next time – watch this space!


Monty the Desert Rat



What a great day! I have always had a soft spot for Carronade – the Falkirk Club are great people and really do work hard to put on an excellent day – but it is also the first show of the year for me and it’s great to see all those old friends emerging after their winter hibernation!

This time I was showcasing Red Dawn, the upcoming Cold War supplement for Chain of Command. A huge amount of work has gone into this so far with numerous playtests and so I felt it was ready to be exposed to the wider public.

I ran the same game though twice on the day with all places occupied. Here is the table:

From the Soviet left flank:



From the Soviet right flank:



From the British left flank:



From the British right flank:



Sorry I wasn’t able to take any more photos but I just didn’t have the chance as I was so busy running the games. Anyway, the story! The Soviets have attacked and, after several days, have reached the River LEINE. The lead echelon, after some hard fighting (as evidenced by all the wrecks on the table) have got across the river and are pushing on. We join the action with the Second Echelon, a BTR equipped Motor Rifle battalion, mopping up the remnants of the British defenders. The Soviets had 2 dismounted teams already on the table – one in the woods top centre, as we look at this table:



and one behind the fields in the centre. The Platoon Commander is in the woods and the Platoon Sergeant with the men behind the field. Their one BTR is coming on the road at the rear. The British have a GPMG team in the right hand building, a second GPMG team at the edge of the woods and an anti tank team with a Carl Gustav held back in the woods. The Platoon Sergeant is with the men in the woods.

In the first game the Soviets pushed the BTR well forward to support the team moving through the field. This proved their undoing as the British in the building let rip with their one M72 LAW. Some excellent dice throwing and the BTR exploded! This also left the Soviet team in the field exposed to the fire of the 2 GPMG teams and the riflemen of the anti tank team and they just could not match this, gradually being whittled down. The rearmost team played little part in the action and the Soviet Command Dice limited their options and forced them to focus effort on the forward team. Game 1 to the British.

Game 2 was the same set up but played differently. The Soviet player kept his BTR well back, masked from the Carl Gustav and out of range of the M72. He proceeded to use the HMG to target the GPMG team in the building and some excellent dice soon saw the team wiped out. The Platoon Sergeant had tried a quick dash across to help once the Team Leader went down, but only got as far as the cover of a wrecked BMP before realising that the team was no more. He returned to the woods.

The Soviet player was now in a difficult position. The obvious course of action was to move the BTR to engage the British in the woods but doing so would require him either to significantly close the range or expose himself to the Carl Gustav. He chose the latter course and moved at speed into a new firing position. It was a sound decision – he was at longer range and moving fast, so would be hard to hit, but the Carl Gustav gunner was on fire – 11 on 2 dice! A good, clean hit and the BTR was knocked out.

The Soviet player now moved his rearmost team forward and engaged the British in the woods with the team in the field. Both sides had cover but, as elites, the British were harder to hit and the GPMG gave them a significant fire advantage, especially when the Platoon Sergeant was able to direct their fire. But they missed the effect of the second GPMG and a more drawn out firefight ensued. The second Soviet team moving forward was caught in the open and cut down, but casualties were mounting all the time on the British. In the end, the last Soviet team was down to only a handful of suppressed men and the British advanced to take their surrender. A British victory of sorts. They had stopped the Soviets but the Soviet task was to clear the home bank and there were so few British troops left that they had effectively achieved that. Okay, at some cost, but men and BTRs are cheap in the Red Army!!


Monty the Desert Rat



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