The cruel weird war in Anatolia

While I have been working on a small US force for Konflikt 47 (and Bolt Action), I have simultaneously thinking about how to represent Turkey within the game. In the 1947 history created by Clockwork Goblin, Turkey joins the Axis powers and is subsequently invaded by the Soviet Union. German troops are deployed to eastern Turkey, but there is not much information about this front and nothing has been published on how to field a Turkish force.

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Here is the beginning of my home-brew list:

Turkey was not a willing entrant into the Second World War. When the threat from the Soviet Union and parsimony of the western Allies finally pushed the government of Inonu into declaring for the Axis, the Turkish military was far from prepared.

While the cadre of the army was built around a professional officer class, including some with experience from the first world war and war of liberation, much of their equipment was hopelessly out of date and inadequate. Training was also often outdated, a situation that is being rectified by the presence of German observers and training units. Consequently, the quality of Turkish forces varies widely, from unmotivated garrison troops to elite Republican Guard battalions.

Germany is only selectively willing to provide rift technology to their new ally. However, the threat posed by the Soviet Union from Georgia has seen Germany send an expeditionary force, Operation Red Hat (Unternehmen roter Hut), into eastern Anatolia to bolster the Turkish land forces. This force is currently small and so far, has been used as a mobile reserve, leaving Turkish units to defend the front line.

There are several useful pieces to build a plausible Turkish Army. The Bulgarian and Romanian army lists in Armies of Italy and Axis have lists are a good inspiration, with local troops and older hardware supplemented by German weapons and vehicles. Both nations also have cavalry. All of this feels like a Turkish army would be similar.

From the Konflikt 47 supplements, Resurgence and the new Defiance, there are Finland, and two Italian lists. More inspiration. Each shows different ways to create interesting armies from belligerent nations without direct access to rift-tech.

I have also done a little reading about the Turkish military, particularly the post-Ottoman Turkish army after the first world war. There is not much about in English, so it didn’t take very long. The achievements of the new Turkish Republic in 1919-1922 are impressive. This conflict is of particular interest as it took place in Turkey (similar to the Konflikt 47 invasion story), and covers the period of the demise of the Ottoman empire and the beginnings of the modern Turkish Republic.

There is a lot to come on Turkey in K47: list creation, list building, and perhaps the most fun of all, modelling. I figure my blog is a good as place as any to record some this.

I’d better get to work.

 

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If you go into the woods today

This last Sunday saw Operation Bear, the largest Bolt Action tournament held in Melbourne so far. Thirty players assembled at Good Games for a cracking day of gaming. The hook of the day was 1,111 points using a single reinforced platoon (and no theater selectors) extended to allow one additional 0-1 choice provided nothing was repeated. So, you couldn’t take two Panzer III, but you could, for example, take a Tiger I and a Wirblewind. A silly example, of course, because that is almost 600 points, more than half of your budget.

So, of course, that’s what I did.

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There is a theme to the list. After the fall of Monte Cassino and the breakout from ANZIO, the 508 Heavy Panzer Battalion was used in penny-packets in support of 10th Army as they retreated to new defensive positions north of Rome. My force contained Heer Grenadiers, a unit of Fallschirmjager and a Tiger I accompanied by its anti-air asset, a Wirblewind.
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This is somewhat of fudge, since while Tigers were often defended by flak units, I don’t think Wirblewinds were deployed in Italy, or even available in June/July 1944. But I’ve got the model and I had never deployed it before.

It was a fun day. There were three games, two with objectives and one for kill points.
I feel this mix is pretty much optimal for three-game tournaments and encourages a more balanced approach to list building (or at least discouraging single-trick lists).
By the luck of the draw I faced two other German Players (who I beat), and a Polish Airborne list (who carried the day). Three fun opponents, three good games, a generally good buzz and lots of beautiful armies to look at on the day. It is hard to ask for much more.

If you want to hear more about Operation Bear and things Bolt Action, I’m one of the guests on the Cast Dice Podcast discussing the day in more detail.

Maybe I’ll see you at tournament sometime.

D.

Eighth edition is a thing

For those who came in late, like me, just on a year ago Games Workshop released a shiny new and significantly revised edition of Warhammer 40K, the eighth incarnation of this now venerable franchise. Well two days ago I read the rules for the second time, which didn’t take long as they’re only 6 or 7 pages, and opened my copy of Codex Chaos Space Marines for the first time. And, today, I threw some models down with my friend Oli, as he took me through my first game of the current version of 40K.

I like it.43018330461_3697ccca69_k

It reminds me a lot of the house rules that our gaming group finessed over many years of playing Apocalypse. Lots of toys, large explosions, not too much book-keeping and plenty of general dark-millennium mayhem. No doubt weird stuff will emerge, but for the moment Abaddon gives this edition 5 skull encrusted spikes.

The Mechanicus won the field today, but Chaos took it right up to them before being purged with flame.

Congratulations Oli, and thanks for coming over to show me how 8th ed works.

D.

 

They’re here!

Last post I mentioned I was working on some US infantry from Crusader Miniatures. Well, I’ve managed to complete them and in what is record time for me. The box had 24 dudes, and included several models with sub-machine guns, two officers and two with BAR. So enough for three smaller squads or two larger depending on what is needed.

I still need to get my photography fixed up. I’ve been using my phone, but I am not as happy with the results. Back to the SLR, I guess, even though it is a bit more fiddling to upload the photos. I think my main problem is lighting, but the SLR seems more forgiving of the less than perfect light and focus combination required.

The models on the other hand, I am pleased with.

An added bonus is that these 2 or 3 squads, depending on how their counted, also mean I’ve completed the June It challenge. Yay me!

Next up is back to the Germans, I’m a tank short of a list I submitted for a tournament this weekend. But after that, I think it will be onto the some support options for the US.

See you on the battlefield.

 

The Yanks Are Coming

Over there, over there
Send the word, send the word over there
That the Yanks are coming
The Yanks are coming
The drums rum-tumming
Everywhere
So prepare, say a prayer
Send the word, send the word to beware
We’ll be over, we’re coming over
And we won’t come back till it’s over
Over there

I’m not sure if it’s derogatory to refer to US citizens as yanks, but these are the lyrics from the 1942 classic Yankee Doodle Dandy, so I’m guessing it’s OK in the context.

Clearing my desk of the fallschirmjager has made room to start on some US infantry from Crusader Miniatures. I have had these in the cupboard from before Bolt Action was released, so it is high-time they got a chance to get some paint on. Still to be based but I’m pretty happy with the result. Here is a sample of the first 20 odd.

Next up will be to add a couple of 30 cal machine guns, a mortar and a bazooka team. Together with a few vehicles, including the walker I’ve nearly finished, and I will have a small force versatile enough for a reinforced or armoured platoon for both Bolt Action and Konflikt 47.

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Mudskipper, Medium Jump Walker

Huzzah! (Or whatever it is that Americans yell when they’re happy.)

D.

Fallschirmjager Fire Support

Another paint job that has been hanging around for months is finally finished, some support teams for my Fallschirmjager. it is lovely to have a somewhere to paint once again. I’m probably a squad and a sniper team short of a full FJ force, but as elite options for a German force in Bolt Action they may well do very nicely. All of the models are by Black Tree Designs.

First is a medium mortar.

A medium machine gun (which is good fun with the Hitler’s Buzz-saw rule, even if a bit fragile in play).42033066214_96b553b5a5_k

An LMG to add some firepower to one of the squads.42033065954_961c82167e_h

And a couple of random models I found in the same box.

I’m done with FJ for now. The cammo-smocks were an interesting challenge, but I’m not keen to return to 28mm camouflage patterns in the near future.

A last little observation: I know the blue helmets are anachronistic. OK, probably just plain wrong. But I like the silly touch as they remind me of my Airfix toys as a child.

D.

Big Bunny Bounces Back

Two years ago I painted a few samurai rabbits from Eureka Miniatures. Having fallen off the painting (and blogging!) horse when I moved house about six months ago, I returned to these wonderfully whimsical miniatures as a way to get moving again.

The lighting is rubbish, but some minis are painted. I’m calling that a win.

See you across a table somewhere.

D.

Smash fascism (and the patriarchy)

The representation of women in wargaming is an ongoing discussion. That women of all ages, and children and older people (of all genders), have been victims of war is a fact that can only be disputed through a narrow interpretation of facts. However, gaming (overwhelmingly) focuses on the soldiers, the majority of who have been male.

Fantasy and science fiction have an easy fix available: create worlds where the patriarchy is consigned to the dustbin. Creations like this cannot be disputed for inaccuracy. That we do not is a reflection of our communities’ biases.

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Historical gaming has a genuine challenge here, since overwhelmingly combatants were (and are) male. There are companies that are seeking to shift this balance, and being companies I guess they are doing so in response to demand. Good on them. Bad Squiddo Games come to mind as doing a particularly good job of making women warriors available, consciously rejecting the pernicious sexualisation that mars so many female figures (Games Workshop is an easy source of examples, but are typical rather than especially poor in representing women).

Given there were only ever around 1500 tiger tanks produced and I suspect far more than this in service on wargame tables, I have no particular problem with female soldiers appearing more frequently than they did (or even stretching some of their roles). For WWII gaming, the Soviet Union and Partizan forces both provide historical basis for creating armies with female combatants.

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Black Tree Design

Konflikt 47 has a wonderful opportunity, being a fantasy (diesel-punk) extension to the second world war. The background story has nuclear weapons tearing strange holes in space though which the competing nations receive information about how to build new (and terrible) weapons. The new technology see the Germans hold the allies east and west, extending the war into 1947. Part of the story extends real world events and strains: the Soviet Union splits from the allies, making the war three-way in Europe and the Middle East.

A real world shift not emphasized in the story to date is the role of women in the war. In every country, women stepped into roles dominated by men: particularly in factories, on farms, transport and planning. The access to the new rift-tech still requires soldiers to wield the new weapons.

The trend in the Soviet Union was to include women, and with two potential new fronts (Japan and Iraq) and the ending of US Lend Lease, this trend will be accelerated.

The United Kingdom, except for possibly India, were under enormous pressure after six continuous years of war. Given the opportunities given to women in the quirky Operation Sealion expansion for Bolt Action, I think getting a few into khaki for K-47 makes sense.

The United States still had a lot of man-power, but the rising affluence (and influence) of women could plausibly see them not just building the tanks but operating them.

French women took up arms when they could to liberate their country. I think they would not shirk their duty given the chance in 1947.

The case for the axis is less clear. While Germany faced acute shortages of combat fit soldiers, the deeply dysfunctional and conservative regime seems to me to be unlikely to recruit women (outside of home defense units). Unlike the other nations, the role of women as mother and wife was central to the nazi regime’s view of itself. I think it is plausible that Osttruppen, Hitler Youth, and Volksturm could all include women. And armed BDM seem to be more likely than flying vampires.

The Italians have less opportunity given their lack of resources and constraints from allies, but I think for different reasons the rump of the fascists in the north (desperation), and the newly liberated nation of the south (revenge) would both allow women into their fighting units.

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Rocketeers from Eureka Minatures

New possibilities for armies, miniatures and expanding representation on the table top. I can see no downside here. So how about it Warlord?

 

The Rule of Carnage

True story: The first date I had with my wife was at the Undera Park Speedway one hot summer evening in the mid-eighties. Petrol fumes and dust hold a special place for me and Osprey have just released Gaslands, a game of dystopian car racing that speaks to that long-ago rev head.

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There is more than nostalgia going on, Car Wars could easily scratch that old time itch. Gaslands is a fun little game that brings chaotic, destruction filled death racing to the tabletop using matchbox (or hotwheels) cars.

It is hard not to enjoy this game. I’m told that the mechanics are reminiscent of X-Wing, which I’ve never played, so I can’t comment there.

Movement is governed by templates, with the choice of template restricted somewhat by your current speed. In higher gears you get to move (and shoot) more often, but only at a reduction in your ability to turn and with increased risk. Each time you move you roll spin dice that allow cinematic maneuvers but may also cause you to loose control of the vehicle. Crashing is not always fatal, so it is not just worth pushing your luck, but pretty much mandatory if you expect to have a chance of winning. It captures the mayhem of car racing very well, without becoming bogged in detail (or sometimes, even physics).

The game scales to multiple plays well. With players taking turns activating cars you’re never left spectating for long, which can be a problem with some multiplayer wargames.

Three hotwheels cars is all you need to start. With as little or as much pimping your ride as you like, you can be quickly at the gaming table and not stuck at the painting table.

For less than $50 and a visit to your bitz-box you can get into this game – rules, cars, dice, templates – which is a real plus around a stretched hobby budget. As a little bonus, there is an active FaceBook group, where even Gaslands’ creator Mike Hutchinson participates.

And the Rule of Carnage? In what may well be the best rule ever included in a wargame, the Rule of Carnage says whenever there is doubt, apply the interpretation that causes the most carnage. This sets the tone nicely. Gaslands is not a game of millimeters, it is a game that encourages mayhem and fun in equal measure.

If you have fond memories of Mad Max, Car Wars, or even Mario Cart, I reckon Gaslands is worth a go, who knows, maybe I’ll see you on the highways.