Having recently bought the Bolt Action armoured fury boxed set, and am finishing off building the models for that over Christmas, I also picked up Battlefronts Tanks spin-off game. Using some basic tanks, you get three kits in the box: two Shermans and a Panther.
I did make a start on some Bolt Action figures a while ago and never really got anywhere, but while seeing some of the Black Friday deals recently I noticed that the Bolt Action Tank War Starter Set was on offer, so decided to take the plunge and make it my Christmas Holidays project.
So all I have done for now is build one of the Shermans. There were no instructions in the box, but I managed to find some online, and it’s a really nice model. Looking forward to making the others and having a game of it over Christmas: watch this space!
While this is largely a WW2 Wargaming blog, the best of us get diverted and having been excited about the prospect of the Cold War in 15mm with a new ruleset and some great plastic kits I was delighted to see all the coverage for the Team Yankee range online over the launch weekend.
My pre-orders arrived just after and this Christmas break has been the first opportunity to build some of the kits.
I started with the T-72 as I’d recently had a chance to climb all over a real one. There is a basic build sheet in the box but a more detailed guide online. It went together very well and easily, starting with the tracks and hull, and then the turret. The main gun fits well, and the only fiddly bits were the smoke dischargers. Once built it looked great.
I then had a go at the M1. I can remember these thundering around central Germany in the 80s and this is a very nice kit. It includes options for later M1 Abrams models which implies Battlefront is perhaps looking ahead with is kit but I built the 80s version. Again it went together very well, everything snugly going together and no filler necessary. The size of the model even in 15mm shows what a monster piece of kit this was and still is!
I first read Team Yankee, the novel by ex-US tanker Harold Coyle which depicts an American armoured unit in a fictional WW3, back in the 90s. This period and potential Cold War gone Hot I find fascinating as I spent a lot of time in Germany in the 80s both personally and professionally.
I also played a lot of micro-armour and some 20mm Cold War games back in the 80s using scratch built vehicles and the available Airfix. The announcement that Battlefront was bringing out a range for this period has taken my eye off WW2 for a while and no doubt I’ll do some blogging here.
While waiting for the game to come out I have been looking through my books, a few old manuals and trawling the Net. So here’s some notes based in that.
Cold War Books
Aside from the Team Yankee novel I remember reading quite a few during that time. Many, like Coyle, were veterans of the Cold Warbperiod who had put their thoughts into fiction. James Rouch did a series of Zone books and Chieftans about a British tank crew was one of my favourites. I wish I had it now as it appears to be very rare!! Breakthrough Assault did a good round up of Cold War Fiction.
In the 80s Salamandar Books did a series of large, glossy and fully illustrated books on the Soviet War Machinr, US War Machine and Chinese War Machine. These are great as painting guides and for background info. They are out of print but easy and cheap to find on eBay or possibly via charity bookshops.
Team Yankee in Video Games
The book inspired quite a few early video games and these YouTube films show a more recent simulation called Steelbeasts. It’s quite useful for tabletop gamers to watch these as it gives some good scenario ideas and insights into tactical/tabletop issues in handling troops. The need to move once having engaged a target to avoid artillery strikes is particularly noticeable and it will be interesting to see how that is reflected in the FoW game.
New Team Yankee FoW Website
Battlefront have launched a Team Yankee website and no doubt more product pages, building and hopefully some painting guides will be added.
It’s all looking good!
I have been a member of the Society of Twentieth Century Wargamers for more than fifteen years now. I joined it during a period when I was coming back to Wargaming and liked the fact that it published a regular journal covering a wide range of periods, often having special issues devoted to one subject. The reviews were always very good and there were some superb articles on modern Wargaming which should be of interest to FoW players getting excited about Team Yankee for example. All of these older issues are available in digital form via Wargames Vault.
The Society has had its up and downs in recent years, and the gaps between journals have got longer, but a new team are running the society now and the latest journal, shown above, now has a colour cover and better reproduction of images and maps. Things are looking up and they have a thriving SOTCW forum and also a Facebook page.
The current issue of the SOTCW Journal (shown above) is Number 84 and has 56 pages of material covering a wide variety of periods in the Twentieth century and with an interesting piece on WW2 British snipers and a Soviet version of a Bridge Too Far!
The SOTCW is a great organisation and for The Journal are always looking for copy: from articles to reviews. If you are into WW2 Wargaming in any way then becoming a member for £22 in the UK or just £12 for a digital subscription is well worth it.
I describe myself as an Old School Wargamer on my Twitter profile. On the one hand that refers to the fact that I have been Wargaming since 1973, when being a young and impressionable modeller obsessed with military history, I first read about it in the pages of Military Modelling. I was lucky we had an active local Wargames club and the library was well stocked with books by Asquith, Featherstone, Grant and Quarrie et al.
Second World War Wargaming then was quite simple: easy move rates, armour points, penetration points and the emphasis was on historical re-fights which is I suppose is where the second part of being an Old School Wargamer come in. The history is important: it’s not on the periphery, it is the core.
And now more than 40 years later I play Flames of War. ‘Heretic!’ I hear some cry. Well FoW for me has some advantages. Being time poor for the hobby, it’s an easy franchise to buy into with some nicely produced books and a steady stream of good models, especially since Battlefront’s move into plastics. They cost a little more but there are good deals on eBay and the cost side isn’t really an issue for me. There are also a lot of good blogs and Facebook groups which means you can feel attached to the hobby even if you mainly game on your own.
Having said all that, there are sides to FoW that I don’t like. I would never play in a tournament as they have little to do with the history side of the game: platoons of T34s facing Sherman Fireflys just because one list is ‘better’ than another. Nope, go to 40K if you want that. And linked in with the tournament side of it is the dreaded Points System FoW uses. This is is one of its weakest angles: points are irrelevant to any real battle situation and a rule set needs to be able to reflect that. I think FoW does if you let it but players have to be persuaded that it’s a good idea. And as they are often so invested in the points system, they can’t be persuaded! So that’s one of the directions I’m looking at in trying to apply some Old School to FoW.
Incidentally there was an interesting article in a recent edition of the superb Minature Wargames about Point Systems in Wargaming and while it is true several of the ‘old guard’ of gaming were in favour of such a system, making it Old School in a sense, I’m still not sure it can ever apply to a WW2 game.
And that leads into the FoW organisational ORBAT charts… and a subject for another blog post!
Had a productive summer painting some minis. Started to have a look at some 28mm Warlord figures but realised how big my 15mm backlog was so went back to them. Tried out the new Flames of War ‘Colours of War’ German armour paint set which comes with a big bottle of Panther Yellow as a basecoat plus a shade and some camo colours, although you need the green from the Quartermaster set to complete them. The paint went on well and this new range is really good. Quite happy with my usual ‘tabletop standard’ results.
The first photo above shows them with the base colours all painted and then the ‘after shot’ (below) of them weathered and dry-brushed.