A month or so back I went along to my regular club meeting without any real plans for a game. Last minute I arranged to play a game with one of my mates who had some World War II micro-armour and a few different rulesets he wanted to try out. Having had a flick through the different books we settled on Iron Cross by Great Escape Games.
What appealed about this was both it’s simplicity but also its approach to getting a lot of toys on the table at once. Add to this a (welcome) lack of weapon ranges and things seemed to add up to this being the one to try.
The rules themselves only span about ten pages and what immediately appealed was the use of ‘command tokens’ to activate, react and plan your actions. This put me in mind of the use of plot points in 7TV, so of course this immediately drew me in. It’s fair to say that I have not played that many historical wargames in my admitedly long gaming career, but I have done extensive painting and modelling of particularly WW2 in primarily 28mm.
Playing in 6mm scale (and adjusting inches to centrimetres for movement) on a 2 foot square board resulted in some really fun and fast paced games. Although the placement of tokens on the board to represent activated units provded a unique problem with this scale as the glass beads we were using were in some cases as big as the models. What became apparent to me as we played through (and was backed up by reviews I have read of the game) was that this would be ideally suited to a larger scale on a larger battlefield. 15mm seemed an ideal way to go. So emboldened with yet another new project I started plotting.
I wanted to put together two forces (rather than just build up a single army) and knowing that Flames of War 4th edition is currently hot I sought out the new (and really good value) Hit the Beach starter set. This provided me with a good basis for two starting forces and I supplemented this with some eBay purchases and also managed to track down a reduced price full German army box by Plastic Soldier Company.
15mm had never really appealed before, but with the enthusiasm gained from my first outing with Iron Cross in 6mm I really begun to see the attraction of getting a lot of figures and armour on the table at once.
Having agreed to give the game another go game at this larger scale at the next meeting which was only a few weeks away I got to work assembling and painting.
Most of the armour was a pleasure to put together. I’d probably say that the Battlefront Miniatures Flames of War stuff is slightly easier to assemble with the Plastic Soldier kits being slightly more fiddly. I also picked up a couple of Zvezda 1:100 scale snap fit kits to add a few of the big cats to the German forces (including a King Tiger). While cheap and ‘snap-fit’ I found that these do need a lot more after-assembly love and care (gap filling in particular).
In addition I’ve also done a bit of 3D printing to expand some forces. You can see a comparison between the Zvezda King Tiger and a 3D printed version below. While not a bad model, the obvious issue with 3D printing at this scale for a large game is simply the length of time it takes. We are not yet in the position I don’t think where the availability of 3D printing files for WW2 armour is going to have much of an impact on traditional kit sales for this very reason.
Painting the tanks and vehicles was case of keeping it quick and easy. Basecoat, dry brush highlight, wash, silver drybrush and spong chipping. For the allied armour I used a Halford Camo Green spray for the basecoat, which I would highly recommend.
The German armour was basecoated using Plastic Soldier’s Dunkelgelb yellow from a spray can. Trying to keep things at least a bit historically accurate I did various camo patterns on some of the German tanks. I am not hugely happy with these as I think they were a bit rushed. I hand painted these, whereas really I ought to have broken out the airbrush to get a better result.
Both allied and German decals have been purchased, but I haven’t yet got round to applying these.
So, the elephant in the room for me with respect to painting were the infantry. I’ve never painted anything smaller than 25mm so this was going to be interesting. In the end as the majority of the miniatures I was working with were one-piece I decided to try painting them on the sprue. In general this has worked quite well so far.
Anyhow after a productive couple of weeks assembling models and painting, this last weekend at the club we got a couple more games of Iron Cross this time on a 6′ by 4′ table in 15mm scale. Taking a very relaxed approach to matching up our forces, in the first game I got the upper hand as the Germans. In the second game we adjusted the forces to be slightly more realistic in terms of numbers (with the allies outnumbering the superior German tanks) and it went as you would expect with a victory for the British/Americans.
The rules worked really well again, we spotted some mistakes we had made last time and both games played through relatively quickly. I think we have found our go to club game for 15mm. I didn’t have enough infantry done to include them, so I think this will add an interesting new dynamic next time and that’s what I’ll be concentrating on painting wise.
So the moral of this story is don’t be afraid to try something new; however accept that it will add to your plastic/lead pile and project to-do list.
Cold war gone hot is starting to look appealing!