Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life, featuring small skirmishes and big battles from many historical periods (and some in the mythic past or the far future too). The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Sunday 31 May 2020

Twilight 2000 in 15mm: Options

I have had Cold War Moderns on my to-game list for quite a while.  A little while ago I bought a few figures (a Soviet Motor Rifle platoon and an Australian Mechanised Infantry platoon) to paint them up as a test, and I am quite pleased with how they came out.

Soviet Motor Riflemen

And again

Australian Mechanised Infantry painted in a kind of generic way that would also serve for Vietnam at a pinch (I have kept some unpainted to put into proper Australian camouflage when I find out what colours are needed for that)

And again, next to some 6mm buildings for Vietnam from Timecast
And the last section of Motor Riflemen, plus the aforementioned unpainted Australians to the right and a GHQ WW2 German limber team to the left that I have absolutely no clue how to assemble...
 As it happens, the conventional "Cold War Gone Hot" does appeal, especially in 6mm, but not as much as the Twilight 2000 aftermath, particularly for 15mm skirmish gaming since it rules out the and everyone died when someone chucked a bucket of sunshine over them scenario.

Twilight 2000 is available at Drive Thru RPG (both editions, with all the adventure and supplement packs).

I had a look through both versions of Twilight 2000 to work out what kind of forces one might need, assuming that one did not change the initial premise that the characters were part of an American division (although were not necessarily American themselves) that has just been overrun in Poland.  I think the force levels one would need are something like the following:

100 Soviet troops (c.70-75 AKs, 5-10 Dragunovs, 10 RPKs, 5 PKs, 2-3 AGS-17, 2-3 RPGs, 2-3ATs); the number of RPGs seems a bit low to me, perhaps 10 RPGs would be betterm with c.5 ATs)

Ideally there would also be some Polish troops and some rougher-looking marauders and stragglers too.

6 vehicles (everything from civilian cars, Humvees, UAZ-469s, 4x4 pickups to 2.5-10t trucks); some horse-drawn wagons and carts
1-2 tanks (T-55, T-62, T-72, T-64)
1-2 BMPs (any versions)
1-2 APCs (BTR-70 or BTR-80s)
1-2 Light AFVs (BRDMs, OT-64s etc.)
1-2 mortars
1-2 howitzers
1 anti-tank gun
1 SP gun (2S3 or similar)
1 SP AA gun

In addition, there should be a smattering of Western stuff for the PCs and any other Western troops they happen to encounter.  Of course, there is nothing in the material to stop the entire party being from Soviet nations, equally desperate to get home.

Zvezda do a small range of the key Cold War vehicles, including T-72s, M1 Abrams, M2 Bradleys, BTR-80s etc.  Prices typically £7 per vehicle.

Plastic Soldier Company:
PSC does a company of 141 Soviet figures for £22.50 (£0.16/fig) a single T-55 for £5.75, and a single M-60 tank for £5.50.

Irregular Miniatures:
Irregular miniatures does a range of 1990s US Infantry and some some 1980s Soviet Infantry and Afghan Mujihadeen.  It also does some useful rioters armed with clubs and so on.  These are sold individually (£0.44/fig).

CP Models:
CP Models has a small but useful range of 15mm modern stuff, including some mercenaries and 'generic' troops which come in packs of 5-6 figures (£0.50-0.60/fig).

Quick Reaction Force:
QRF has a very large range of suitable figures and vehicles. Vehicles are in the £3.50 (very small) to £6.50 bracket (although it does have some really big B echelon vehicles which are understandably more pricy), figures come in packs of 8. (£0.34/fig).

Peter Pig:
Peter Pig has lots of relevant stuff in its AK-47 and Vietnam ranges, mainly figures but has some key vehicles as well.  Vehicles are £4 (UAZ-469, Toyota) to £8 (Centurions, big trucks).  The figures have some useful stuff that I don't think there is anywhere else (Female militia etc.) and come in packs of 8 (£0.44/fig).

Has a huge selection of stuff in its Team Yankee range.  Vehicles seem to work out at about £5-6 per model, £10 per helicopter, but they are typically sold in boxes of 3-5, so aren't quite as useful for the small battle gamer.  However, the most popular stuff is sold as individual sprues too, which are typically £5.20/vehicle.*  The infantry are sold in platoon packs, varying from c.25-c.50 figures each.  I think that the metal figures work out as between £0.34/fig and £0.44/fig, whereas the plastic figures are c.£0.25/figure (I could be very slightly wrong because it isn't always 100% clear to me exactly how many figures are in each pack).

(*Leopard 2, Marder, BO-105, T-72, BMP, Mi-24, T-64, M1 Abrams, VADS/ITV, M113, Cobra, Huey, M60A1, HMMWV, LAV, Chieftain, FV432, Scorpion / Scimitar, Spartan / Striker, Lynx)

Old Glory:
Old Glory has a range of modern infantry and vehicles which looks mainly geared towards the fighting in the Middle and Near East over the last two decades, but would definitely be useful for Cold War/Twilight 2000 type stuff: in particular the pack of Armed Civilians in western civilian clothing looks ideal.  Figures are sold in packs of 50 (£0.32/fig) and vehicles are typically £6-8, sold in packs of two or three.

Mick Yarrow Miniatures:
I don't think I have ever seen these in the flesh or online; apparently they were at Vapnartak this year but I can't actually remember seeing the stall.  Anyway, they do a small range of modern stuff with US infantry and various European and Arab irregulars and rioters.  Sold in packs of 8 (£0.28/fig).

MJ Figures:
MJ Figures have a  Falklands range and a small Modern range, figures £0.30ea. (some sold individually, some in packs of 10), with a couple of vehicles too £3-6.

The Scene:
The Scene has some slightly unusual ranges that would be of use, especially for militia, marauders and special forces types.  Some figures are sold in packs of 10, some in 6, some individually.  Prices seem to vary from £0.39/fig - £0.50/fig.

Oddzial Osmy:
Magister Militum stocks their ranges of 15mm Polish and modern Russian stuff, sold in packs of 6 (£0.67/fig).

Other Stuff:
I know that Khurusan Miniatures, Rebel Minis and Flashpoint Miniatures all do useful ranges but as far as I am aware, none have a UK distributor currently.  I don't include shipping costs for the other ranges since most can be obtained at shows or at FLGS shops, so there isn't an easy way of doing it, but if there are any fans of these ranges in the UK who can give an idea of how much their stuff actually costs per figure and vehicle, I will happily add this on.

I am not going to make any comments about the aesthetic quality of any of the ranges since that is such a personal matter.  For price, the Plastic Soldier Company takes some beating for its Soviet infantry.  I think the only way not buying them makes sense is if a - you really don't like the figures or b - you want to keep the model count very low and just have a core of say two-dozen Soviet infantry and then everything else is an optional extra.  The alternative here might be to buy the Battlefront Motor Rifle platoon and then add stuff, but depending on what you add, it might end up more expensive anyway.  The Old Glory, Mick Yarrow and The Scene ranges look quite good for adding the marauders and stragglers that play such a big part in the Twilight 2000 world, although the Peter Pig ranges could work in many cases too.  It might be worth getting some codes from QRF and Oddzial Osmy for the specifically Polish troops.  To save a bit, Soviets could be used to bulk out Polish units as long as they were in the minority.
The models needed for the PCs (assuming the PCs are from NATO countries) and Western forces generally will depend a lot on how big you want to make them.  If the assumption is that the PCs are a very small group and are only going to meet other small groups of NATO troops (or marauder groups based on NATO forces) then there is an obvious advantage in buying smaller packs or individual figures.  This will also depend on whether you want to just say that all "NATO" troops are in US, or German, or Canadian or whatever uniforms, or you want to make the distinction between them.

Friday 29 May 2020

Battle of Sittangbad - A Polemos General de Division Refight

Hearing Henry Hyde's extended talk last weekend on how a group of gamers put on Sittangbad and Mollwitz at Partizan (as part of 'Partizan in the Cloud') inspired me to have a go myself.

 I have had a go at Mollwitz before, so I picked Sittangbad.

Sittangbad is the larger of the two scenarios contained within Charge! Or How to Play Wargames.  Henry Hyde posted up the orders of battle and so on on his website.  Although a large battle in terms of numbers of figures, the battle as written is really an advanced guard/rear guard clash with around ten units per side.  I remembered I had seen another refight of this relatively recently, so I took some insipiration from that and scaled it up.

Although Charge! uses toy soldiers dressed firmly in the uniforms of mid C18, the rules seem quite Napoleonic-tinged.  With that in mind, I re-designed the scenario as appropriate for Polemos General de Division.  The 'Imperial' forces are therefore taken to mean the 'Imperial French' and the Electoral forces were re-skinned as Bavarians, which would at least count as 'Former Electoral' I guess.  Therefore the battle is assumed to be taking place during the latter stages of the 1813 campaign in Germany, with the French army being one of those contingents trying to escape the advancing Allies after Leipzig...

Imperial French Army:
C-in-C General Lenoir (Capable)

Infantry Division: Prince of Isembourg (Capable)
1 brigade of 3 bases of Trained Infantry SK2
2 brigades of 3 bases of Trained Infantry SK1
1 base of 6lb Trained Foot Artillery

Light Cavalry Brigade:
2 bases of Trained Light Cavalry
1 base of Trained Lancers

Heavy Cavalry Brigade:
3 bases of Trained Cuirassiers

Bavarian Army:
C-in-C: Herzog Johann (Capable)

Advance Guard Division: General von Luckner (Capable)
1 brigade of 3 bases of Trained Infantry SK2
1 brigade of 4 bases of Trained Light Cavalry and 1 base of 6lb Trained Horse Artillery

Infantry Division: General Steinzeit (Capable)
2 brigades of 6 bases of Trained Infantry SK1, 1 base of 8lb Trained Foot Artillery

The Set-Up:

Sittangbad is to the left, Eisenberg to the centre-right.  Eisenberg hill is to the top-right, the other unnamed hill is in front of the marsh (they are hard to tell with these kind of naturalistic mats, but I think you can make out where the slopes go! The isolated clump of trees to the top-right mark part of the summit of the Eisenberg.  The Bavarian forces are approaching from the right, the Imperial forces are split between the town and the village, with most of the cavalry and an infantry regiment between them.

Looking from the high ground over the marsh at Sittangbad.  The currently unoccupied earthwork is astride the road (centre)

General Lenoir with his artillery in front of Sittangbad, whilst a squadron of Polish Lancers and an infantry regiment occupy the town.

The village of Eisenberg and environs.  The French Light Infantry regiment occupies the village, with a Line regiment in support (centre-left); the Cuirassier brigade is in front of the earthworks, with the balance of the light cavalry in front of it (centre)

Herzog Johann's initial command post is set up on the summit of Eisenberg Hill, to enable him to simultaneously command his light cavalry on the flank (top)...

And his light infantry regiment approaching down the road (right)

A wider view of the whole

A close-up of Eisenberg village

And the line infantry supporting it.
The Battle:

Lenoir orders his infantry and guns forward to man the earthwork (right)

The Bavarian Light Infantry approach the village, whilst the Austro-Bavarian Light Cavalry brigade sweeps around the flank (top)

A closer look at the Bavarian light infantrymen

And the light cavalry: Bavarian Light Horse form the first element, the Austrians are with the guns in the second group

The Austrian Cuirassiers and Bavarian Dragoons arrive in support

A wider perspective

Satisfied that the defensive works are about to be occupied satisfactorily, Lenoir moves forward to a position where he can control the whole battle

The French Cuirassiers trot forward to face the lighter Austro-Bavarian cavalry (top-right)

Which occupies the high ground

The Bavarian light infantry deploys, ready to engage the troops defending the village

Bavarian line infantry arrives

The Light Cavalry brigade deploys, ready to charge!  Is this just a bluff though?

Apparently not!  Herzog Johann is apparently hoping that the artillery support should make this an even match until the heavy cavalry can reinforce and sweep away the French cavalry in a single swoop...

But fortune isn't particularly favouring the bold today - the French Cuirassiers push back the lighter Bavarian and Austrian horsemen (top), although the French Hussars have not performed so well against them (bottom)

A wider shot

The French Cuirassiers rout some of the Bavarian horsemen (top)

Although the French Hussars continue to perform dismally against the Bavarian Light Horse

Lenoir moves up a battalion of infantry to support the faltering French Hussars...

To no immediate avail, as one of the French Hussar regiments routs!

However, the exhausted Bavarian Light Horse is forced to fall back in its turn; and the rearmost Cuirassier Regiment has turned about face and is ready to charge the disordered Bavarians...

Finally the Austrian Cuirassiers look ready to join the action (centre)

Continuing the dismal performance of the French light cavalry, the second Hussar regiment routs in its turn!

And seeing the French Hussars in rout, the Polish Lancers join them without even seeing an enemy!!!!

The Austro-Bavarian Light Cavalry has had enough also, so the field is left clear for a clash of Cuirassiers

A wider shot: note that the Bavarians, whose light infantry are merely bickering with their French counterparts in the village, are nearly ready to launch their main infantry assault

The Austrian Cuirassiers charge! Hurrah!

But again, the French Cuirassiers perform with supreme skill, driving back the Austrians with loss

The fight continues up the hillside

The Austrian Cuirassiers get a second wind and start to push the French horsemen back

And one of the French Cuirassier regiments is broken! (left)

Feeling that the moment has come, Lenoir orders the village to be abandoned, then reforms his line just outside it.

As the Bavarians push forward, Lenoir again retreats and takes up a position on the high ground and astride the road

Leaving the Bavarian blow landing only in thin air!

Somewhat laboriously, the Bavarian infantry prepare to assault the hill (left)

Whilst their Right eyes the French Left with some trepidation!!

Lenoir again skillfully retreats, leaving only his light infantry regiments to slow the Bavarian advance

The Bavarians know that a clumsy uphill assault stands little chance, so they manoeuvre against the French right flank (centre)

Whilst their cavalry and infantry on the Right are discomfited by accurate French artillery fire, which disrupts their preparations to attack

The French infantry fall back into Sittangbad without significant loss

The position when Herzog Johann calls off his attack.
Game Notes: 
Nice to play a little bit of gaming history with one of the early classics of the genre.  Obviously it is going to play out a bit differently with the Charge! rules proposing a very large number of individually-based figures to represent a pretty small number of units, which isn't perhaps the most common way of gaming today.  Actually, I think what impresses me most look at this is the scenario itself, showing how one can adapt a battle from 1942 into a very serviceable horse-and-musket scenario, a very early example of Conrad Kinch's sage advice to "make the game fit the figures".  I think my much less radical change of setting is very much in keeping with the spirit of the original.
I terminated the game itself a few turns early (at the end of Turn 16 instead of Turn 20) since it seemed clear that the Austro-Bavarian force was not going to successfully capture the bridge by that point.  Despite the hilariously awful performance of the French Light Cavalry, the rest of Lenoir's troops performed very well and I think he himself judged the moments to retire very well, so his force was never in danger of receiving a really well struck assault.  Looking back, Herzog Johann probably launched his attack ten minutes (two turns early) since he needed to overwhelm the Imperial French forces, accepting losses in order to create a breakthrough.  As it was, Lenoir was able to control the timing of the battle.
Rules-wise, it was a fairly typical game of Polemos General de Division, nothing of great note except perhaps seeing again the possibility of amusing formation routs, which is always a possibility when everything starts getting bloody.

Figures from Baccus 6mm, buildings from Leven.