Iron Cross and 15mm World War II

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.

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Iron Cross – available direct from Great Escape Games or from other friendly local or online sellers

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.

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Tiny dice look huge next to 6mm scale armour!

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).

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Zvezda King Tiger – not visible here, but needs some gap filling

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.

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King Tigers – Zvezda (left), 3D printed – file from Thingiverse (right)

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!

Post Apocalypse Gaming Inspiration

When I first started at secondary school in the late 1980s we had rather strange setup in my home town.  At eleven years old we went to what was effectively a middle school, this was co-ed and following a couple of years the majority of pupils transferred to either the local girls or boys school, which catered for 13 to 18 year olds.  The other unique thing about my particular middle school was that it was split across two sites about a mile apart.  Break times were often spent on the transfer bus moving between buildings.

The main site (long since demolished), was kind of open plan with primarily outdoor corridors.  Believe me when I say this was actually the better of the two.  What however has any of this got to do with drawing inspiration for post apocalyptic tabletop gaming?  Well apart from the prison camp styling of the architecture, one thing that really sticks in my mind was the school library.  At the time I couldn’t really look beyond the classic Target novelisations of Doctor Who serials (I was slightly obsessed), but I do remember in particular another series of books with very striking covers.  I never read these at the time as something about the content was too close to a very frightening possible reality that hung over us all in the Cold War – nuclear armageddon.  These novels were the ‘Survivalist’ series by Jerry Ahern.

the survivalist total war simon bestwick mark west

Recently as I have been working on my 28mm scale post apocalypse projects (with 7TV Apocalypse very much my cross-hairs) I’d started thinking about backgrounds and settings for my games and models.  Aside from the obvious Mad Max style road warrior scenarios, my memory of the old school library and the ‘Survivalist’ came to the fore.  Needless to say a quick trip to Amazon and eBay and I’ve got the first few volumes.

First things first.  These books are very much of their time.  The hero is in that Reagan era 80’s mold. They are not literary masterpieces, they are pulp, but by heck (as they say round here) I’m enjoying them.  Needless to say the basic premise is following the titular ‘survivalist’ John O’Rouke in his adventures in a nuclear war ravaged United States.  John has to fight off marauding gangs, invading Soviets and the like, while searching for his wife and children.  Our hero is not only a survival specialist, but also a trained medical doctor, former CIA operative and weapons expert.  There is an almost lurid amount of detail in these books about guns and weapons with the caliber of ammo, background and description of rifles and machine guns all being describe in minute detail each time they are used (and they are used a lot).  There is also a lot of cigarette smoking in these books (check out the covers)!

There’s certainly plenty in here to act as inspiration for gaming on the tabletop.  I particularly like that the Soviet Union is attempting an occupation of the US (somehow this is possible after a nuclear exchange), but this gives a bit more scope for scenarios, rather than just the usual marauding gangs versus gangs setup.

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Unsurprisingly I’ve been looking into miniatures for John O’Rourke, and remembered the Wargames Factory Male Survivors multi-part plastic kit.  This came out originally a few years ago and was more recently re-packaged and re-released by Warlord Games as part of their Project Z range.

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Is that John McClane or John O’Rourke on the cover?

It seems uncannily like the creators of this set had read some of these books as out of the box I was quite easily able to pull together a figure which is almost a spitting image of the Survivalist from the book covers.  The next stage will be to paint him up and get some stats created for 7TV.

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Inspired by this I’ve also been looking into other background material and thanks to an excellent article in the November 2018 issue of Wargames Illustrated on ‘near apocalypse’ gaming have come across the old GDW Games Twilight 2000 source books.  But more on that another time…..

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For more information on the Survivalist series, I’d heartily recommend this article on ‘We are the Mutants’.

Star Wars Legion….just one more toy

I’ve broken the promise I made to myself that I’d not get distracted any further by terrain or toys.

I’ve just picked up the Hasbro Rogue One U Wing, which is riduclously out of scale for the action figure it comes with, but almost perfect for Legion. Touch of top coat and some panel lining and I think this will look pretty awesome on the tabletop. You should be able to find this for less than £25, so pretty resonable (oh and it also fires nerf darts!)

There’s no such thing as too many projects…

It’s taken slightly longer than planned for me to start up this blog, which is really also the story of my hobby projects too.

I hope to use this blog to share the various hobby bits and pieces I am working on and engage with like minded folks who might find my ramblings interesting.

Bit of background first.  By day I’m a spreadsheet wizard, but by night I transform into a hobby butterfly.  Like a lot of hobbyists my age I grew up with Games Workshop and Dungeons and Dragons in the 1980s, left the hobby for a while (for real world stuff) and came back as a proper grown up with actual money to spend.  I also suddenly found that the thing I enjoyed the most is the modelling and painting side of the hobby.  In particular starting multiple projects at the same time before getting distracted onto something else (ironic given my day job is in project management).

At the moment I am playing board games about once a week with a small group of friends and am also a member of the Matlock and Dales Wargames club which meets once a month.

Hobby wise my main focus at the moment is on the excellent 7TV by Crooked Dice Game Design Studios and Star Wars Legion (because it’s Star Wars and I am of an age!)

So let the blogging begin…..