Sunday, 3 February 2019


One of the most versatile boxes that PSC do, is the Panzer 38(t) and Marder variants. In this case, I built them as the later war 138 model and they will be very handy to offer a bit of A/T support to my hard-pressed German infantry. As you can see, they come with some nice looking crew figures which, with the added ammo box helps to personalise them a bit. One of the three has been held back for a Fallschirmjager crew, still to be painted, again to provide a bit of long range hitting power to my paras.


Sunday, 27 January 2019

A Quick Apology

Hi Everyone. Just a quick note to apologise for not uploading recent comments. I am supposed to get a notification every time someone posts a comment, so that I can see it, remove the bad language (only joking) and then upload it. For some reason, these notifications have not been coming through. I only found out by looking at the Comments awaiting moderation section of the blog and saw a whole load stacked up there. Don't know why that happened and have added them now. Again, my apologies - I appreciate any feedback and the effort taken to provide it. I will need to check manually in future to make sure that this doesn't happen again.

Postscript: Am still not sure that all is well. If you have sent a comment and it hasn't appeared, please let me know at Thanks.

Monday, 21 January 2019

Tiger Tiger.

Here is a bit of heavy support for my late war Germans - a couple of Italeri "Quick Builds". They are actually quite nice models, not massive amounts of detail but nice enough for wargaming purposes.

I have also added a Pegasus King Tiger. I must admit I prefer it to the Ready to Roll versions I have at the moment and may well get a couple more. The smooth finish on these vehicles works very nicely with the airbrush. The crewman is, I think, from AB.

I am really hoping to crack on with my WWII collection and the terrain (boards and drop on stuff) over the next few months and hopefully post some proper after action reports to show the rules in action. As always, all comments/suggestions are welcome.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Crewed-up Hanomags

Have finally managed to get the vehicle crews done for my 1st (armoured) battalion FBB. As I alluded to in an earlier post, it seems like wasted work in some ways, as they have no effect on the game. Even so, really glad I made the effort as they look so much better crewed up, rather than empty. First up are the basic infantry carriers with the accompanying crew and stowage that make the PSC boxes so attractive. As you can see from these two examples, there is quite a bit of scope for "individualising" the standard vehicle. Three to a box for less that £20, you really can't go wrong.

Next are two of the support options: a 75mm Infantry gun armed "Stummel" and the HQ variant with the 37mm A/T gun. Most of the crews in this case are AB, which match the seated and standing PSC crew really nicely. The gunner in the "Stummel" is one of the very nice sets done by Adler Miniatures - better known for their 6mm figures.

Finally there are a couple of shots of the engineer variant with attached assault bridges. The Armoured battalion did include an engineer company, so these could prove useful.

All in all, this is a very powerful unit, armoured and well equipped. In the Ardennes and against the Soviets, it should prove a handful in action.

Please feel free to comment on anything on the blog - always useful to get some feedback. Cheers and a Happy New Year. Steve.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

The Road to Berlin: Command and Control and Troop Quality

These two factors more than any others, led me to write these rules. Much as I enjoyed Rapid Fire - and I did, neither of these considerations bear heavily on them. Basically I wanted a card-driven set of rules that would allow me to reflect and vary the levels of command and control ability of the two forces and where troop quality would not just be a question of +1 for elite and -1 for militia. They also had to be both playable and fun.

Firstly, command and control. This is reflected at several different levels. At the top of the list is the card deck itself. Its composition is right at the heart of the game. Better armies, that is to say armies that are better led, not necessarily composed of better troops, will have a better deck. This comes out in such things as more command and control cards, fewer lull cards and so on. Secondly is the overall army rating; this reflects the quality of the staff work as well as the experience of the higher commanders. At the start of each phase, both sides throw a d6 to see who gains the initiative - this can be very important at certain stages of the battle. To this roll is added a modifier - anything from 0 to +5. So for example on the Eastern Front in 1941, the German force might have a modified rating of anything from +3 to +5, whereas the Soviet rating is likely to be at best +1. This ensures that the Germans will win the initiative on the majority of occasions. The initiative can be used or given/forced on the enemy should you choose to do so. When a Lull card is drawn,  this command initiative test is repeated: if the phasing side wins, then the only damage is a wasted card. If it loses, then the other side immediately draws an additional card from its own deck and acts on it. Again, if one side has a higher command rating than the enemy, then this will increase its chances of winning on its own Lull card and avoiding further problems, or winning on an enemy Lull card and drawing an additional, free card of its own. See the Lull card definition in my earlier post.

Each unit (usually battalion sized) also has a command rating: good, average or poor. When a unit wishes to move, the better the rating, the more "actions" they are likely to get. It varies between 0 and 3, with 2 being fairly average. An action allows the unit to move the "base move" of its particular type, for example infantry move 4" per action, whilst most tracked vehicles move 8". The better led a unit, the more movement it usually gets. There are a few modifiers, but leadership quality is the main driver here.

Armies are also allotted command groups as part of their unit structures. All will have brigade/ regimental and battalion HQ groups. Armies that are more de-centralised, such as the Germans, British and Americans will also have 2 figure company command groups. These are very useful as they can spot for integral artillery and mortars, making these assets much more flexible. The Soviets only get command groups at battalion level and above, so their options for directing supporting fire are much more limited, neatly reflecting their more centralised and generally less flexible approach. It also makes it more likely that Soviet guns and mortars will need to use direct (line of sight) fire.

Secondly, troop quality. I wanted to have a system that was fairly flexible. Rather than troops just being good, bad or indifferent, I wanted to be able to represent troops with varying characteristics, such as reluctant veterans or enthusiastic new boys. I therefore decided to give each troop type three different factors. These are:

Training: Troops are either green, trained, experienced or veteran. This is normally used when they are being fired at - green troops being easier to hit than troops that are better trained and more experienced in battle.

Motivation. Troops are rated as being either reluctant, confident or determined. This manifests itself when asking units to recover from suppression or to do something above and beyond the call of duty. Reluctant troops for example are less effective in close assault.

Morale. All troop types have a morale rating, usually between 6 (appalling) and 10 (excellent). Very rarely a rating of 11 can be given to reflect fanaticism.

This allows a wide range of options. For example, the Hitler Jugend in Normandy would be Experienced/Determined/11 - although most of the soldiers had not previously seen action, they had a leadership cadre of veterans and were well and thoroughly trained, hence the experienced, rather than trained rating. The same unit in the Ardennes six months later would be rated as Experienced/ Confident/9. A late war British infantry unit might be rated as Experienced or even Veteran, but with a reluctant motivation rating, making them a little "sticky" in combat. The permutations are, if not endless, then at least quite wide. In action you might find that many of the cobbled together late war German units will do a job for you if you put them in a good defensive position, but will struggle to deliver a strong, co-ordinated attack across open ground.

All in all this has worked well. We have found that superior troops can and do defeat equal numbers of poorer types, even when they are in good defensive positions. Troops with a "reluctant" motivation level really struggle to remove suppression, resulting in slow and uncoordinated attacks.

Anyway, there we have it. Hopefully this brief overview has explained one or two things about how the rules work and the thinking behind them. Next up will be movement.

Monday, 19 November 2018

FBB Flak Regiment (2)

Following on from the earlier post on the FBB Flak Regiment, this is a light company, comprising two sdkfz10s with armoured cabs, mounting 20mm guns. The vehicles were die cast EBAY acquisitions, crewed mainly with AB figures.

The brigade as a whole is really taking shape now. The first (armoured) battalion is completed - post to follow on the crewed up hanomags. I also have all the figures done for the second battalion, along with its transport (mainly schwimmwagens), but I still need to paint the 40 or so crew(!) Still need to add a heavy flak battery (88 and tow plus another 20mm).

Thursday, 18 October 2018

The Road to Berlin

In November 2017, I posted an after action report on a set of WWII rules that I was working on. After a bit of play testing, I am confident enough that they will work to post again with a little more information on both the rules and what lay behind them. Tentatively (and a little unimaginatively), I have given them the working title of "The Road to Berlin".

For over 20 years, ever since they came out in fact, the group that I game with have used Rapid Fire and on the whole, really enjoyed them. As with anything else that has become a little too familiar, one or two of us started to wonder if there was another way of doing WWII. For all sorts of reasons, Rapid Fire weren't really doing it for me any more. I think the main things were the lack of any real command and control element and the minimal impact that troop quality had in the games we were playing. A 1941 Soviet army with KVs and T34s would find life fairly easy against a German force equipped with PzIIIs; in other words it was all about kit, rather than quality. I had also become quite interested in card-driven games such as Piquet. I therefore decided to see if I could come up with anything that would work on the table.

Being as technically challenged as it is possible to be, I was fortunate to stumble across a website that provides ready made templates. Seemingly based on a Wild West theme, it was surprisingly easy, even by my standards, to adapt it to my needs (I used one of the cards that allow the importation of a photo).

For those of you not familiar with this type of card driven game, I will try to give a brief overview of how it works. Rather than the more traditional IGO/UGO game, where each turn has the same sequence of events, which are played out, in order, until a decision is reached, card driven games unfold differently. Typically each side will dice to see who wins the initiative, which can, if you choose, be passed to your opponent. This die roll is modified by the "army" command rating, anything from +1 to +5.  Let us say that side A wins by a modified score of three and decides to take the initiative. It then draws three cards, one after another and acts on them according to what the cards permit: movement, "re-loading", command and control etc. That done, the other side may then do the same, act on the next three cards in its own deck, which are, of course, likely to be different. This introduces a whole new level of command uncertainty into the game as you can never be sure which cards will be drawn next. At first glance this may seem a little random and for players new to such a game, the temptation to act on every card, just because you can, is strong. The important point is that you need to decide what your priorities are and then use the cards when they appear to achieve your objectives. Co-ordination is of course a little more difficult as you cannot guarantee that the cards will turn up as and when you need them. Firing is open to all units at any time, even when your opponent has the initiative, but having fired, units are marked as "unloaded" and are not able to fire again until the appropriate firepower card is drawn. As being able to fire is usually a good idea, players do not tend to blast away at every target that presents itself, but must learn to manage their fire wisely, usually in conjunction with the drawing of a new firepower card. It should be noted that it is possible to have short periods of sustained fire when an already loaded unit draws the appropriate firepower card, as it can fire, re-load, and if it wishes, fire again. Under the right circumstances, this can be devastating, but does carry the risk of leaving the unit unable to fire again, until another card comes along. Decisions, decisions!!

One of the main changes that I have made during play testing is to introduce a little interactivity to the game. After the first playtest with our club "rules cruncher" Andy Lawson, he suggested that it might be good to be able to act, to a limited degree, outside the strict sequence of the drawing of the cards. Three cards: Command and Control, Tactical Advantage and Superior Firepower have been modified to allow this. It is still early days and it will need to be tested in a few games to see how it goes, but in principle I think that it could add to the interest and enjoyment.

Anyway, that is the basic idea. Below are the various cards that appear in the game and a short explanation of  what they are used for. The number in brackets refers to the number of that particular card  usually to be found in an army deck.

AIR POWER. (0-3) Any air assets that the umpire has allotted for the game may appear when this card is drawn. Their affects are determined immediately following any defensive anti-aircraft fire.

BARRAGE. (0-3) This card tends to be used for any "special" situations relating to supporting off-table artillery, such as harassing fire, pre-planned stonks, naval artillery and so on.  

CLOSE ASSAULT. (3)  Troops within a defined distance may close assault. This is a decisive, but potentially risky and expensive manoeuvre and is fought to a conclusion. It can involve infantry, armour or both.

COMBINED MOVEMENT. (0-3)  This card allows armies with highly integrated armour/infantry to move both troop types simultaneously. This is clearly a considerable advantage when trying to co-ordinate your actions. Applies mainly to German armoured formations, but later war Allied units can also use this card. It can also be used in conjunction with the infantry and vehicle movement cards where the level of cooperation was less marked.

COMMAND AND CONTROL. (1-4) The higher the level of command and control ability, the more of these cards an army will have. When drawn, a d6 is thrown, providing that number of command chits. These allow a range of additional actions to be performed from removing unit suppressions, replacing lost command groups to modifying/overriding other negative factors. These are subject to chance, based on unit quality. A useful card.

COMMAND FAILURE.  (0-2) This card is usually found in decks belonging to armies lacking in command experience. When drawn it immediately ends the initiative phase and any remaining cards are returned to the deck unused. This is a real stinker as it can seriously impede your ability to act, depending on when it is drawn: if you are lucky it the last card to be played that initiative round and is therefore no more than a wasted card.

ENGINEER TASKS.  (0-3)   As the name suggests, this card is used when there is a significant engineering presence in the game, rather than just the odd platoon of assault engineers. Engineering units move and act on this card, rather than the normal movement cards.

INDIRECT FIREPOWER. (0-3) All indirect fire weapons, whether on table or in more general support off table are affected by this card. On table elements treat this as a "re-load" card and may use it to fire as and when they choose, as per the rules concerning all other on table units. Off table artillery/mortars are assumed to be in general support and must use this card immediately, or lose it.

INFANTRY FIREPOWER. (3-4) All infantry units are considered "re-loaded" when this card is drawn. Most armies get three of these; reasonably well equipped Germans (the vast majority) get four, to take into account the high rate of fire of the MG34/42. The quality of the fire is determined by a unit's more general armament - number of mgs/rifles etc and levels of training (Volksturm do not fire as well as Panzer Grenadiers for example).

INFANTRY MOVEMENT. (3)  All infantry units may, if they wish, attempt to move on this card.

LULL.  (0-6)  This is one of the key cards in the game and represents, in effect the standing around, doing nothing that is such a feature of combat. It is in effect, a wasted card. The less experienced and able the command and control elements of the army are, the more of these cards they will have. For example a 1941 German force may only have one, or perhaps even none at all; its Soviet opponent may have half a dozen. As a result, fewer of the German cards will be wasted, allowing them to do more things in the same amount of time. Not only that, but every time a Lull card is drawn, both sides roll their respective command dice. If the player with the initiative loses, the non phasing player may step in and pinch the initiative, turning and playing an additional, free card of his own. This can result in the better led army winning a number of additional cards, thereby cycling through his own deck more quickly and bringing a game turn to an end before the other player has managed to use up all of his own cards. This can be very important as the weaker command deck is rarely completed, resulting in the loss of potentially important opportunities to act.

MOVE ONE COMMAND. (0-2)  A "command" in this game is a company sized group: roughly 12-15 infantry or 2-4 vehicles. One such group may be activated on this card.

SPECIAL EVENT. (0-2)  As the name suggests, any special factors such as weather or any particular feature that is peculiar to any individual scenario is triggered on this card. Only used occasionally.

SUPERIOR FIREPOWER. (0-2) When this card appears, the player concerned rolls a d6 and receives a number of "superior firepower" chits equal to the score achieved. These are then used at the player's discretion to enhance the firepower on a single firing element - adding +1 to their chance of hitting. A useful but not decisive bonus.

TACTICAL ADVANTAGE. (0-2)  As with the Command and Control and Superior Firepower cards, a d6 is thrown, awarding that number of Tactical Advantage chits. These allow the user to attempt additional actions such as close assault, taking cover from incoming fire and bonus (out of sequence) movement.

VEHICLE FIREPOWER. (3)  All vehicles are considered "re-loaded" when this card appears.

VEHICLE MOVEMENT. (3)  All vehicles may, if they wish, attempt to move on this card.

WILD CARD.  (0-2)  This is a very useful card, usually only available to the best-led armies. When drawn, a player can re-name it as ANY card that he may feel he needs and apply it to any ONE company sized Command Group.

So, there we are. This is probably the longest post I have ever attempted!! Hopefully it gives a reasonable idea of how the rules work and some of the thinking behind them. Over the next few weeks or so, I will do a number of posts on the nuts and bolts of the rules to explain things in a bit more detail. At the end of the day, it is just an attempt to deliver what most of us want: an engaging and hopefully enjoyable game. I look forward to your comments.