Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tanker's Tuesday: Tank Posters

Tank Posters
The tank encyclopedia has an excellent range of tank posters that are worth downloading. Link
 Posted by

Monday, April 25, 2016



The ENGLISH version of the FT game box, which we were selling at SALUTE last weekend, is now up on the store - click the link in the main menu at the left of the store homepage!
At the moment we only have a VERY LIMITED NUMBER of the sets - once these are gone there may be a bit of a delay before we have more available, so if you want one then get it now!
SALUTE went off very well, especially considering the problems of getting ready for it while still being ill.... despite feeling rough I had a great day, and since getting back I've managed to get the mailorder situation under control and almost completely up to date, so most new orders should now start going out much faster than over the last couple of months. After everything that has happened since the New Year, I'm pretty much starting 2016 again from here on, with things being back to normal!
The new figure releases we had out for SALUTE (the long-awaited Moongrunt packs and Xar heavy weapons) will go up on the store in the next few days, so watch out for them finally being available to mail-order.
More news soon, please check back here regularly for more updates!
Thanks for reading.
Jon (GZG, Monday 25th April 2016.

Modern Warfare: Soviet Speedbump - Late Cold War US Mechanised Pla...

Modern Warfare: Soviet Speedbump - Late Cold War US Mechanised Pla...: So spent the last few days painting up some US infantry for the 1980s. The platoon is naturally under-strength, hence some of the three-ma...

Monday, April 18, 2016

Tanker's Tuesday: Massive Prussian Landship Confirmed!

VSF and 15 mm Science Fiction Gaming: Massive Prussian Landship Confirmed!: The reports that the Prussians were constructing a huge heavily armed land iron clad at their workshop in Dioscuria where proven correct...

In keeping with my "All Quiet On The Martian Front" project and stealing liberally
from other sources, namely the BBC 's "THE GREAT MARTIAN WAR" . I thought
I'd do a German faction since I already had this monster built several years ago......) 

Small Soliders - Fight! Win!: House Kurita Battlemechs - 6th Ghost Regiment

Small Soliders - Fight! Win!: House Kurita Battlemechs - 6th Ghost Regiment: Following on the heels of Genyosha here is another former creation of mine, done quite some time ago: 6th Ghost Regiment, Draconis Combine. ...

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Friday, April 8, 2016

GURPS Traveller: Interstellar Wars

Written ReviewApril 7, 2006
by: Britt Reid

GURPS Traveller, Interstellar wars has arrived and is mostly a good product with, unfortunately, a few interstellar sized warts marring an otherwise well written product.

IW opens yet another chapter in the Traveller universe: The 200 years of warfare that came between Earth's contact with the First Imperium and the fall of the first imperium to the Terran Confederation.

While this is the first traveller product to cover the IW period, an awful lot of the background material will seem awfully familiar to anyone who's into GURPS traveller, as much of it was covered in the excellent GT supplement "Rim of Fire".

IW does expand on the background given in RoF and in that it does very well. It sets up a basically acceptable story of how earth goes from more or less today to a united world government under the (Snicker) UN (HAW! HAW!), which in all fairness HAD to be done because it was official Traveller canon and they weren't going to monkey with that.

Once past the "The human race finally accepted UN domination" bit things get better, with detailed history on the first contact with the Vilani Imperium, the periods of wars that followed and so on, leading, plausibly enough, to the fall of the first imperium and the ascendency of terran descended humans.

The book also does an excellent job of setting up the background for the two main factions in the game setting: The Terran Confederation and the Vilani Imperium.
I don't think any other traveller product has covered these two polities in this level of depth, and it does a very good job of making both sides 'fleshed out'.

The culture and society of the Vilani imperium gets an extensive description and, I noticed, the book seems to brush off the explanation for Vilani conservativism and lack of innovation that was offered up in GURPS traveller. (In that book, the Vilani's attitudes towards innovation were explained as being the result of the fact than on Vland, their homeworld, the surface was littered with Ancient artifacts that could and often did kill anyone who tried to tinker with them, and that most foods on Vland were toxic unless processed carefully, resulting in curiousity and innovation being bred out of the VIlani!)

Fortunately IW does a much better job of explaining why the Vilani were so tradition bound, and this also explains exactly why the huge, millennial Vilani Imperium basically imploded under the attack of what began as a single world that had just discovered interstellar travel popping up on it's doorstep.

So, as a background book for the IW period and as a setting book for the Vilani Imperium, IW does the usually great job we expect from SJG products.
As to the rest, I'm sorry to say it's a mixed bag.

There's a 'star system generator' table that's pretty good and tries to balance the original traveller star system creation rules with reality and modern knowledge of cosmology. This bit would be good for any SFRPG.

We have a ship construction system that's very similar to the one used in GT, with is good as the one in GT was good. It's basically a modular system where you buy everything as pre-made modules and fit them into the hull size you've selected. Nothing awesome here, but a good, fast, workable system that holds true to traveller canon on technology.

The ship combat system is similar to the one in GT, again not a bad thing and it is a system that creates a working mix of realism (Ships move along a vector until and unless they apply thrust to change vector) and playability. Nothing really wrong with it, although there are some things that will no doubt be dealt with in eratta soon. (My review deals with seriour structual issues, not things that can be corrected with a line of eratta.)

Now we come to some of the glaring problems that keep IW from being a great product.

Most of these are 'sins of omission', and most glaring among them in the weapons list for IW. Simply put, THERE IS NONE!!!!!!!

Believe it or not, there are no weapons statted out for IW. Not a single one! No plasma gun man portables, no Gauss machine guns, no fusion guns, NOTHING!!!! (Ship weapons are statted, I must add, but not personal ones.)

Instead of even a basic weapons list, putting traveller staples like the FGMP into GURPS 4e terms, we are blandly referred to the generic weapons listed in GURPS 4e basic books.

It's no exaggeration to say my blood boiled as I read that incredible and inexcusable lapse. One of the main reasons I got the flipping book was to get G4e stats for some traveller weapons and gear. Instead, I get ZIP.

Whatever reason SJG had for this, it's wrong and I don't care who says otherwise.
Speaking of traveller canon items, that long term staple of traveller combat, the battledress, is likewise omitted and instead we're told to use the generic version from G4e.

That right there knocked several points off the rating. Just a page or two of stats for common traveller weapons and battledress would have given them a higher rating, but they came off like lazy bums instead. Maybe they want to get people to buy a gear supplement for IW later. Whatever the excuse is, that dog don't hunt as far as I'm concerned.

Another annoying thing was the lack of ANY illo for an odd alien species that could have used an illo. Meanwhile some 'humans in makeup' type aliens got an illo even though it wasn't needed, as they were just humans in makeup or not even that in one case.

That old alien race, the droyne, are in IW under a different name, but only one set of stats are given despite the fact the droyne come in 6 castes with different stats. Sigh. And since when were the droyne 'toothless'?

Other traveller favorites, the Vargr, K'kree, Aslan and Hivers, are not statted or even mentioned, except that the Vargr are referred to in passing but not by name. Would have been nice to have G4e stats for them...mutter mutter mumble grumble.
All in all, GTIW come soff as an overpriced hardback sourcebook that should have been done as a sourcebook for GT, or GT4e, instead of being done as an incomplete game book. Several things could have been done to make IW worth it's 40$ price tag, like adding in a weapons and armor section, or adding a section on updating the already excellent and well supported GT line to the fourth edition GURPS rules.
In fact I'd have liked to see a book updating GT to G4e, with the IW as a setting for it instead of an overpriced and underequipped game book. They could have probably done that in the space used to reprint the GT ship construction and combat rules and just updated the already existing, and excellent ones.

GTIW will be several things to several types of people, so I'll give it several scores for different groups.

Die hard Traveller grognards will love it, for them it'll be a 5/5.
GT grognards will like it but be disappointed by the lack of updated stats for traveller weapons. 4/5.

GURPS players in general, as well as SFRPG fans, would find some goodies in the book, but not enough to justify it's hardback price. for them it'll be a 3/5.
With just a little more work, it would have been a lot better.

Dust, Tears & Dice: Imperial Commander - Chechen style...

Dust, Tears & Dice: Imperial Commander - Chechen style...: Another distraction. The plan was to try Force on Force for the larger Chechen encounters, but the recent nostalgic review of Laserburn Im...

Thursday, April 7, 2016

NQM Orders of Battle - Eastern Front : Soviet 3

Soviet Cavalry Division

Div HQ & Sig Sqn1 Commander (in Gaz Jeep, on foot or horse),
1 Signals Staff Car (S3)
Div Tank Sqn1 Light Tk (T40) or A/C (S1-2)
Cav Regt  HQ x 3RHQ:Comd, MMG,  NKVD (all stands@Strength
3), 45mm + limber (S 2-3)
Cav Sqn x up to 155 Rifle Stands ( up to 2 may be SMG) (all stands
@Strength 2 or 3)
 Horse Arty BnBHQ comd, up to 3 FOO(S 1-3), 2 76mm Div gun
+ limber, 120mm Morter + limber (all stands S 3-4)
Arty Ammo Column1-2 trucks or limbers (all stands S3-4)
Arty RegtRHQ comd, up to 2 FOO(S 1- 3), 1 76mm Div
gun + limber, 122mm Howitzer + limber (all
stands S3-4)
Anti- Tank Bn 3 45mm Guns(S 2- 3), 3 Limbers, 1 Anti-tank
Rifle (ATR) stand (S 2- 3)
Pioneer Bn2 Pioneer Stands (S2-3), 1-2 Wagons with 
optional Bridging Trailer


Note that the Soviet Cav Div would have no FOOs, early in the war, so can
only pre-plan indirect artillery fire, or use direct artillery fire. As the War
progressed FOOs were introduced in greater quantity.   

Here the Div Comd is in a Rolls Royce, and the Div Tk Sqn only has an armoured car.
The Div Arty is made up from an assortment of older field pieces.
In 1939 the establishment of the Division was 4 Regiments each of
 5 Squadrons, (Total 20) and a Mechanized Regiment of a Tank Bn
and two Motor Rifle Bns. Supporting arms comprised a Horse Arty
Regt, Atk Bty, AA Sqn and Pioneer Sqn. Out of a possible 100 cavalry
sabre stands, My Division currently has 23

There are only Four Regiments in this picture. One has a Tachanka , but is short
of Sabre Squadrons. Two are more or less at full strength, and one is down to three
The cavalry briefly benefited from the need to absorb mechanized troops after the destruction of mechanized corps as an effective fighting force in the early stage of
the war. Later it lost these forces as the mechanized forces were rebuilt.

The Divisional Pioneers, Artillery Ammunition Column and Divisional Anti-Tank 
Bn are all shown here. The first two troop stands from the left are Pioneers. Our Division
depicted here only has two 45mm Gun Companies and an Anti-Tank Rifle Company.
By 1941 the Orbat had been reduced to the one shown at the top of the page.
15 Sqns of 5 stands = 75 Stands (I still have only 23)
The exigencies of war would mean that very few units would exactly match
their Order of Battle. Combat would quickly reduce the strength of the
fighting companies down. We typically fight battles with units at 2/3 to
1/2 their authorized combat strength, so the pictures above represents the
norm rather than an exception. Units in contact with the enemy would also
add captured equipment (especially logistic equipment ) to their inventory.
The Pictures above show how reinforcements progress from Raw (just
undercoated), through various stages of being half-painted, to finished
(Veteran) troops. With enough troops on the table and a bad squint, I just
about get away with it!

NQM Orders of Battle - Eastern Front : Soviet 2

Soviet Tank Brigade
Bde HQ   Commander mounted in Gaz Jeep(s3), Gaz Truck(s3), 82mm Mor(s3), SMG(s3), AntiTankRifle(s2-3)
The Brigade HQ
Med Tank Bn1 Comd T34(s2), 2 T34(s2)
Lt Tank Bn1 Comd T60 or T70(s2), 2 T60 or T70(s2)
The Medium and Light Battalions. I couldn't find T60s or T70s, so these Japanese Vickers are standing in.
The wire baskets on the back of the T34s allow me to place small dice or infantry on them.
Motor Rifle Bn1 Comd stand(s3), 2 SMG stands (@2 or 3 figs), optional MG stand(@2 or 3 figs) can replace one SMG stand , Gaz Truck(s3)
The Motor Rifle Battalion.
(Back to Soviet Orbats) 
The pre-war Soviet tank force was held to be the equal of any army anywhere, but they discovered that their  Tank Corps proved too unwieldy to command. The Soviets thus started the war against Germany with Tank Brigades. The tank inventory was grouped so that tanks in a Brigade were as far as possible of the same type.  
The BT and T26 tank appeared in about equal numbers (16 Brigades of each). Much rarer were the T28 (3 Brigades) and T35 (only one Bn in a Mixed Brigade with T28s). As the war progressed the Soviets changed TOEs (Tables of Operational Equipment) frequently as new tanks became available, and old ones were destroyed or became obsolete. It was not until well into the war that the equipment program caught up with losses. It would be fair to say that you could be justified in fielding just about anything, but beware of introducing stuff too early in the war, and check to see just how common some of the equipment really was. 
Tank Brigade Sep 1941-Mar 1942 
The Brigade contained in total 1 KV1 (s1),  1 t34(s2), 1 T26 or BT(s2). You can see that in anyone else's army this is 5 strength points of tanks - a strong company or weak Battalion! Some Brigades lacked the KV1s. The low point was reached in Feb '42 with a TOE of a mere 27 Tanks (s2-3). By April 46 tanks (s4-5).The problem was that operating light medium and heavy tanks in the same brigade just didn't work. This led to the TOE being reorganised in Summer '42 to create as far as was possible, all-medium tank brigades. 
Tank Brigade Jul 1942  
1 T60 or T70(s2), 2 T34(s3). On paper, a Bn of BM13 Katyusha rocket launchers (s3) was added. Sometimes these even appeared on the ground.
Tank Brigade Nov 1943 
3 T34(s2) these may be T34-76 or T34-85, or a mix of the two. Some brigades were being designated as heavy and contained KV1s. Some brigades contained lend-lease (some 16% of all Soviet tank production),
 or even captured enemy tanks (only ever small numbers) - keep one to annoy your opponent if he becomes too cocky.
In our campaign, the toys available dictate what appears in the Tank Brigades, so my lend-lease is made up of my Western Desert force, and you will see MkVI light tanks standing in for T60s. The appearance may not satisfy the purist, but the method follows real life.
There is nothing to stop you amalgamating 3 x strength2 units into 2 x strength3 units. Tactically, the first option gives you more firepower with less staying power, and the second option gives you fewer guns with more battlefield endurance.
Throughout this period, the Motor Rifle Brigade stayed reasonably constant, except that there was an increase in provision of SMGs to the infantry, and and increasing tendency for them to ride into battle clinging to the tanks as "tank desantny". This was a desperate tactic, and casualties were high. Combat would "strip" tanks of their infantry, and leave them vulnerable to destruction by determined infantry tank hunters deep inside the enemy defended positions.     
The tank strengths above are all derived from S.J. Zaloga's Soviet Tanks and Combat Vehicles of World War Two (ISBN 0-85368-606-8)
I calculate 1 Strength point as being equivalent to 10-12 tanks, thus a model represents 20-25 tanks.

NQM Orders of Battle - Eastern Front : Soviet 1

Soviet Infantry Division
Div HQ   1 Commander (in Gaz Jeep, on foot or horse), 1 Signals Staff Car(@Strength 3), 1 AA stand (in truck, or towed or horse drawn)
Div Recce Coy3 single fig recce stands (@Str 1), on foot, horse or M\cycle
Inf Regt (or Bde)HQ x 3RHQ:Comd, 82mmMor, SMG or NKVD (all stands@Strength 3), 45mm or 76mm Regt Gun + limber (@str 2)
Inf Bn x up to 9Comd, 3 Rifle Stands, MMG  (all stands@Strength 2 or 3)
Arty RegtRHQ comd, up to 3 FOO(@Strength 1-3), 2 76mm Div gun + limber, 122mm Howitzer + limber (all stands@Strength 3-4)
Arty RegtRHQ comd, up to 2 FOO(@Strength 1- 3), 1 76mm Div gun + limber, 122mm Howitzer + limber (all stands@Strength 3-4)
Arty RegtRHQ comd, up to 2 FOO(@Strength 1- 3), 1 76mm Div gun + limber, 122mm Howitzer + limber (all stands@Strength 3-4)
MG Bn3 MG stands, ATR stand (@Strength 2 or 3)
Anti- Tank Bn 3 45mm Guns(@ 2 or 3 crew), 3 Limbers, 1 Anti-tank Rifle (ATR) stand (strength 2 or 3)
Pioneer Bn2 Pioneer Stands (@2-3 figures), 1-2 Wagons with optional Bridging Trailer
Note that the Soviet Inf Div would have no FOOs, early in the war, so can only pre-plan indirect artillery fire, or use direct artillery fire. As the War progressed FOOs were introduced in greater quantity.   
Author's Collection. Various, including scratchbuilds and conversions
The  picture of the Inf Div above deviates from the Orbat. The Pioneer Bn only has 1 Wagon. The Mortars are 120mm (the Corps commander is surely going to want them back!) The Anti tank Bn has only 145mm gun, towed by a captured German Granit truck. The Rifle Regiments can only muster two Bns per Regt, and they have no Bn HQ stands, so can only operate as a Regt, not individually. The RHQs have had to make do with ATRs instead of 45mm ATk guns. There is only one Artillery Regiment, and it is making do with 76mm Regimental Guns instead of the more powerful Divisional Gun. At least one of the Div Recce Companies is over strength.
The exigencies of war would mean that very few units would exactly match their Order of Battle. Combat would quickly reduce the strength of the fighting companies down. We typically fight battles with units at 2/3 to 1/2 their authorised combat strength, so the picture above represents the norm rather than an exception. Units in contact with the enemy would also add captured equipment (especially logistic equipment ) to their inventory.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Tanker's Tuesday: Birch Gun By Shouting Into The Void

This is Peters' 3d-printed 15mm Birch Gun model all painted up. It
needs some crewmen added. He has some spare Peter Pig standing
artillerymen, but he needs a couple of seated figures also.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Chris Kemp's Not Quite Mechanised......Saving it from 404 (part 2)

NQM Summer Holiday Toy Soldier Campaign

Phil Steele's and my Russians pour over the Steppes like rats. The German recce looks worried.
                                     Bombastia  VS.  Lesser Kingdom of Munch (2008)
In 2006, I ran a largely solo refight of Stalingrad on one table. It worked well, so for 2007, I may try something like this again - a battle limited to one tabletop. This is handy, as I can leave my wargames table set up. It represents the border between the Empire of Bombastia, and the Lesser Kingdom of Munch for control of Oilfields. This year the two armies have decided that the border is disputed, and worth fighting to a standstill over. 
My battles follow the spirit  of Lilliput and Brogdignab, but for a real example of a pointless war such as this, look at the Iran-Iraq war over the Shatt-Al_Arab. There might be scope for a whole fictional campaign set in the 1930s. I'm sure that the Italians and Germans would want to get involved in the area of Turkey, in support of Bombastia and that Persia and Syria would be fought over. If oil is involved, America would be in there somewhere too. 
Don Maddox's splendid take on the Bombastian army, full of the latest modern armour based on scientific principles of war. Happily, Indiana Jones is nowhere to be seen! © Don Maddox (2008)
The Border Incident at Hill 1  2007
An unruly bunch of Munchkin Peasants attack the Bombastian border post at Hill 1 - allegedly. Perhaps it was due to the unremitting shelling, and loud Oompah band music that they had suffered over Spring, perhaps oil prices were low. The Empire decided that It's dignity had been affronted, and war was declared. Imperial American Allies attacked over the border, to be met by the Tan Border Guard Regiment. The war had begun. 
What follows are a series of comments illustrating the way that the battle was fought, some variations to the rules to make a campaign in such a confined space work, and general comments as the mood dictates.
  1. After every move, I roll 1d6 to see if a new box of troops can come on, on a roll of a 6. Boxes are forced off the table when they fall below half strength, and fail a morale test.
  2. Ranges are much truncated. Infantry fire one Thumb (Tip to second joint at base of thumb [the two metacarpals], 3" in my case). Tanks fire one Finger Span (6"). Field Artillery , two (12"), and Medium Artillery , three (18"). Heavy Artillery fire  four spans (24").
  3. Instead of ammunition dice, if any stand rolls a 1, they are out of ammunition until resupplied. I save ammunition dice for heavy Artillery, and mark stands that are out of ammunition with an ammo marker. I still use artillery dice for Fortress guns and Heavy Tanks (yes, I do own one!)
  4. If you really want to get through a game quickly, you can play 1 pip kills a stand. Casualties mount up at three times the normal rate. Great if you have lots of toys waiting for their turn to play.
Usually this game is played solo, but if friends drop round, they are usually invited to play a turn or so, as time permits.
Have Fun!
"Our pride of the Munchkin Armoured Cavalry and envy of civilised nations  is the Char 2C."
                                                                                                                                    General Christophorus Ager 1939 -Royal Armoured Cavalry Division

Chris Kemp's Not Quite Mechanised......Saving it from 404 (part1)

NQM Summer Holiday Toy Soldier Campaign

The Author's African Militia bravely attack an abandoned helicopter!
The Inspiration for this campaign came from two sources:
In my youth, I met Martyn Simson, (Simmo to his friends), who ran a campaign in the Summer Holidays. The idea was simple - if you bought and painted a model (it had to be painted), you could use it in your Army. Sales of  Airfix Tiger Tanks and JSIIIs soared in Scunthorpe in the 1970s!
More recently, I came across "The Army Men" homepage (see the links page). Again the idea is simple. If you own it, think up a rule and use it! There are only two armies, a green friendly one, and a tan enemy one (or blue or grey or whatever).                                                            
1. There must be some rules of course:
Each Faction owns a Country. Draw or trace a Map, or cover an existing map with sticky clear plastic. You can then draw on the map with re-usable markers. At the start of the war, each Formation must be in a home town or city. I define a formation as the number of troops, vehicles, aircraft or ships that will fit into one of my standard boxes. There is no reason for the boxes to be a standard size (or indeed to even have boxes Ben!), but you must write the name of the town on the box, and you must mark on your map where the town is. Real belligerent nations can join in as allies, but they support one of the two warring factions
2. Each country must have the following facilities in towns :
a. Oil and petrol production resources. There may be more than one location. The total number of production resources must equal the number of boxes that a country owns.
b. Repair facilities for Tracks, wheels, Aircraft, artillery and ships.

Roy Harrison's African Scenery showing an International Airport!1
c. Ports, Railway yards Hospitals and Airfields.
d. A Capital City with Radio Station, Palace, Ministry of War (or Defence!), Cultural buildings.
  1. If the town is captured, then anyone who cannot find a space in another friendly box is captured by the enemy. Captured vehicles may be used; captured men cannot.
  2. The battle starts using the oldest period equipment that you have (for me that is the1920's). When that is exhausted, you may start using the next oldest equipment and so-on. This ensures a smooth transition from your oldest equipment through to your newest, and avoids you having to fight Challenger Tanks with Panzer I's. Alternately, rate all your tanks and guns the same - not as daft as it sounds, AK47 rules do this.
  3. When troops or vehicles are destroyed, put them in the hospital or repair depot box. If there is no space, they are marked with a "dead sticker" of some sort. (I use the pages of little circular sticky dots that you can buy at stationers) At the end of every battle, half of the casualties may be recovered, half are not (you can alter these proportions to suit yourself of course).
  4. The winner is the one with the most territory at the end of the summer holidays when school starts again!
Using this system, older period troops can co-exist on quieter fronts as militia against newer troops. You suddenly find that you need troops that you previously had no use for: Engineers, Transport troops, Airfield troops, AA troops, military policemen are all examples that spring to mind. You find that you need infantry to garrison railway junctions and Headquarters. Your President or King needs a Palace Guard, and you need to build oil storage facilities, Radio stations, and much more.
For me, the attraction of these mythical campaigns is that I have an excuse to build things that every real army has, but which never seem to make it onto the wargames table. There is no reason why you should not fight whichever period you want with this method - Ancient, Medieval, ECW, Napoleonic, ACW, WWI, WWII, Modern, Sci-fi, Fantasy or whatever.
Have fun! If you do run your own campaign, you will be following an honourable tradition that includes Eric Knowles' "Madasahatta" campaign2  and the ill-fated "Tin-Tin" campaign in the "El Mundo Mythico" world, to mention but two. Currently, the "Lesser Kingdom of Munch" is collecting all sorts of strange military oddments for it's army in case it should ever be invaded by one of the major powers. With the rise of the Web, Googling Imagi-Nations will uncover a rich vein of imaginary countries and campaigns.
 1[© Derek Hooper (2005)]

2[© Eric Knowles (1974)]