A blog about miniatures, wargaming, and the people driven to ruin by them....

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

USMC: Saipan '44 and Beirut '82


This past weekend, the three former owners of Iron Ivan Games, along with the author of the IIG Berlin book and his own Altar of Freedom system, met for some Iron Ivan themed gaming.

Both games featured the USMC.  I'll discuss the 2nd game first, a more-or-less thrown together game representing bunker clearing late in the battle for Saipan in 1944.  We of course were using Disposable Heroes, and the Red Sun Red Death PTO supplement.

The Japanese had their forces spread along a series of fortifications and natural features.  The player was allowed to keep stuff off until it activated, and could dictate how many Japanese units activated each turn.  In this way, the Marines never knew for sure if more Japanese would show up, or where they would show up at.

[The Japanese and Marine infantry were all Brigade Games 28mm, the 37mm ATG and Ha-Go were from Company B]


The Marines attacked with a couple of battle-attritioned infantry squads, supported by flamethrower and bazookas.  They also had a 37mm ATG and a .30 HMG.  The Japanese defenders included battle-attritioned infantry teams, Typ 89 mortar, an HMG, a spider hole with LMG, 70mm IG, and Ha-Go tankette.

The 37mm failed to knock out a heavy log bunker, but a Marine bazooka team got the job done.  Japanese infantry popped up in a trench line, and were quickly whittled away.

The Marines on the right flank moved past the burning bunker (expecting to take fire at any time), eventually arriving in line of sight to the 70mm IG which had been lobbing speculative shots up until then.  The 37mm ATG was knocked out by the Ha-Go (an unexpected development).
At this point, the last survivor of a Japanese team on the ridge failed his morale, which resulted in a roll on my ever popular Japanese Reaction Table..... the result was a bonus 9" Banzai move....
... and since it was a bonus move, the model was able to move on its own a further 9" towards the nearest Marines who took snap fire at the model...
... which failed to bring him down, BUT did cause another morale test, which the Japanese model failed, resulting in an additional 9" bonus movement, bringing the model into close combat....
... and he was able to take a Marine with him!  As one player said, " man, that guy is fast!"
The Marines on the right flank moved up after taking fire from the 70mm IG, and tried to put a flamethrower into action... they missed, but the morale test was failed by the IG crew, who also gained a bonus 9" move (we were rolling on the Despaired table, which is mostly seppuku and banzai)...
... which moved them into close combat.  Here again the Japanese scored kills in melee before being eliminated.

The Marines had suffered some casualties, but the Japanese were all but eliminated.  The scenario was a little off balance, we should have had a few less USMC assets (I was a Marine player, so not sour grapes on my part!), or a couple more Japanese units.  The Japanese requested a couple more automatic weapons next time :)  Still, this was a very fast moving game, maybe about an hour of play after we set up, and we all had fun. 

Ever since I wrote Red Sun Red Death, I have met many gamers who love those Japanese reaction tables.... we do too.  Its not common to see so many bonus banzai moves in a single game, but when you do, its very exciting for both sides.

The first game we played that day was a Marines vs Druze Militia in Beirut 1982, and "what if" scenario where the Marines were allowed to clean house.  The good Doc chronicled this game on his own blog Doctor Merkury's Lab.

The table looked great, but right from the start the two Marine players (including me) were botching the job.

I moved the M60 forward, and was immediately taking fire from the dug in T-34/85, a roof top 57mm RR team, and an RPG.  I managed to miss the T-34 twice before retreating.  We used smoke (the only thing we seemed to do right), but we were losing Marines almost as fast as we were taking out Militia.

The Marine M47 Dragon team made short work of the T-34/85, but it was too little too late.
The Marines tried to flank from the left, but it just was not working.  Smoke was deployed to cover the advance of the LVTP-7 (amtrac!), but it was no use.  We conceded the game before taking further casualties.

I have no excuse.  Instead of house hopping, I stuck to the streets, and lost in the long range exchanges.  But it was a fun game, and an unusual gaming period.

Thanks to the other IIG alumni for rolling dice with me!


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Cold War: SAS Raid Behind Soviet Lines 1983


I recently put together a scenario for central Europe representing a commando style raid by British SAS on a rear area Soviet maintenance and communications park located near (long time readers will have guessed it).... Brezlen mit Senf!.  I had painted the SAS some time ago for use in the Falklands, see Falklands Special Forces.  The game was played in 20mm using Seek Out, Close With, and Destroy from Iron Ivan Games.  All of the Soviet infantry and almost all of the SAS are RH Models, with a few Combat SAS mixed in.  The vehicles are from a variety of sources.

The SAS objective was to eliminate the maintenance cadre and destroy their equipment (represented by the two trucks) ad they worked on a trio of (currently non-operational) T-80s, and eliminate the communications staff and their equipment (represented by a truck outside of the light factory they were currently using for their com center).  Afterwards, they would have to exit at least 4 models off of their board edge.  The SAS could swing the balance of victory somewhat by also destroying the T-80s and various Soviet security forces.

The Soviets had 6 single sentries deployed in the area, plus a 4 man PK MMG team, all of them with reduced accuracy and CC scores.  The targeted cadres were likewise at reduced combat values, and importantly, there was no effective central command.

During the course of the game, additional Soviet units would arrive ... these were rolled for randomly, and arrived in random locations, making it difficult for the Soviets to coordinate.  However, it als meant that as the game went on, the SAS would have a tougher time.  These additional Soviets would all be regular infantry and vehicle crews.

The SAS attacked with 3 full 4 man teams, a 2 man sniper team, and a 4 man command team.  They were armed with typical weapons (MAG, Bren, M16, M203, Sterling, SLR, and M72 LAW).

The game was assumed to begin with the SAS already having eliminated the initial screen of sentries.  Game play began with the SAS taking shots at on table sentries, and began to down them.  However, despite the poor light conditions and their own reduced accuracy, the sentries managed to return the favor and shot some of the SAS.  Also the Soviet response forces began to arrive, the first being a BRDM-2 recon vehicle.
The SAS had eliminated most of the sentries before heavier forces arrived.

As BTRs carrying squads of infantry arrived, and a T-62 MBT showed up, the central SAS teams shot down the maintenance staff and destroyed their equipment.  However, the SAS left flank team, holding the road position missed an opportunity against the BRDM-2 with their LAW... they managed to hit, but only immobilized it.  The entire team was cut down by combined sentry and rifle squad fire.

The security PK MMG team finally arrived in a position to take part in the battle but where quickly taken out of action.  The T-62 began to pour fire into the SAS right flank team, who missed with a LAW.  Another SAS team managed to destroy the communications truck with a 40mm M203 dual-purpose round, but were themselves cut down in the fields.  The SAS right flank team finally lost their uneven duel with the T-62 as a 115mm HE round and DsHK fire silenced them.

With three BTRs and 3 full squads of infantry on the table, as well as the T-62, the SAS realized that they could not possibly reach the communications center (though the truck had been destroyed).  The security forces were all down, but it was time to leave.  The sniper team moved off easily enough as they had remained in position well in the rear. However for the remaining models of the SAS command team....

... it was too late.  A BTR raced towards the SAS board edge, effectively cutting them off from their retreat (they had no remaining AT weapons).  Their only choices were to surrender or die where they stood.

This was a fun scenario, as it was quite frustrating for the Soviets at first (and equally fun for the SAS)... but as time went on, it became easier for the Soviets (and harder for the SAS).

In the end, the SAS had achieved one primary goal (the complete destruction of the maintenance cadre and their equipment) but only half of the other primary goal (the destruction of the communications staff).  This would have been enough to earn them a marginal to slight SAS victory, BUT, having failed to exit 4 models back off the table by games end, this became a marginal to slight Soviet victory.

We had fun gaming this, but, looking at the distances, I will plan on making the communications team slightly closer for the SAS... or delay the arrival of the Soviet reinforcements.  It probably was 12" too far for them to reach with the current scenario.  Still.... they did quite well, and have nothing to be ashamed of.  They certainly were better on the table, passing all but one morale test during the game, while the Soviets failed about a third of theirs.

I'll let you know when we try it again.  Thanks for reading!


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Falklands: Argentine Anti-Tank Teams


I started collecting miniatures for the Falklands about 15 years ago.  At the time, I just bought whatever Combat Miniatures packs I came across.  I then moved onto ordering some miniatures from Platoon 20, having decided that 20mm was to be "my" scale for modern wargaming.  My most recent purchase for the Argentine forces were some anti-armor options from MJ Figures.

Included are 2x 3.5" Bazooka or 90mm recoiless rifle teams, and 2x 105mm recoiless rifles. 

[Insert explanation... these are M40 106mm guns, the Argentines used M68 105mm guns, but this is a good enough proxy in 20mm... also, the 3.5" and 90mm visually look similar to me]

Now... there are no crew for the 105mm guns.  What I chose to do was utilize 2 command figures from the Combat range (I have a few too many of these), and 4 near-useless figures from Platoon 20.  When I ordered from Platoon 20 I received a number of surrendered Argentine infantry... not something I found terribly usefull.  However, they appear to have their hands near the sides of their heads, so, its not a stretch to imagine them covering their ears instead of surrendering.

Or maybe I am just cheap.

There are a couple of options that might work from RH Models, unarmed crew, but for now this will be okay.

During the Falklands War, the Argentines did not use these weapons against the British armor (those 106mm guns would have knocked the crap out of Scorpions), but they seemed to have used them against British infantry.  Anyway, I like the completion of the forces in my collection.

These images especially remind me of how poorly my camera takes picture (a frequently heard lament!), these all look much better in person... but what are you going to do?  Also included are the Argentine riflemen from the bazooka pack, and a single Combat sniper... again, I have a few of these already, but decided to just paint him with the rest.
This weekend showed me, that while I may not have quite the painting skill that I once did.... I am still reasonably fast, having knocked out a slew of 1980's era 20mm modern figures.  I don't always get the chance to paint for more than an hour at a time, but I got a few hours in during the past few days.

Thanks for reading.


Friday, November 27, 2015

Afghanistan: 1980's or 1990's Mujahideen / Northern Alliance


One of the conflicts I game is the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.  I have had a "small platoon" sized force painted for years.  Last year I purchased additional miniatures and have just completed them.
These are all 20mm from RH Models, and are all good looking miniatures.  I have some of the early ones I painted based in groups, but I will probably start removing them and basing everything individually.

The back bone of this fighting force are 7x 9 man "squads", each equipped with an RPG and an lmg, either an RPK, RPD, or PK.  With that many troops to work with, it is very easy to form larger "squads" or more heavily armed ones.
There is a solid command team, easily reinforced if need be....
And plenty of support options.
There are 2x DsHK hmg teams, 2 SVD snipers, 2 2-man RPG teams, a Stinger SAM, a SA-7 SAM, and 3 extra PK lmgs.

Additionally there are a fair number of heavy weapons....
What you see there are 2x 82mm mortars, 1x B-11 (a 107mm recoiless rifle... the B stands for Big, ha ha), and 2x SPG-9 (73mm recoiless rifles).  A few crew wait nearby, ready to man whichever weapons are needed.

Now, I confess, the 82mm mortars and SPG-9s are also used by my Cold War era Soviets, so these weapons get double duty as needed.

These miniatures are meant to represent forces in the 1980's, fighting the Soviets, though they look pretty much the same as Norther Alliance fighting the Taliban in the 1990's... I suppose they could serve in some capacity as insurgents fighting coalition forces in more recent times.
It is a big mob of Mujahs, that is for sure.  They are interesting to paint... lots of muted colors, some odd to see like the muted brown-pink color.  Overall, I like the way they turned out.

Some of them have seen a bit of gaming, hope to have them all see some more soon.

Thanks for reading!


Persian Gulf Wars: Iranian Pasdaran 1980's


I have recently completed my Iranian Pasdaran forces for the Iran Iraq War.  The Pasdaran are the Revolutionary Guards of Iran, as a different military force from the regular Iranian Army.  The Pasdaran have control over the Basij, which are a voluntary revolutionary militia. 

These Pasdaran are formed and painted to represent "mid-war" forces.  They are depicted with green headbands (or painted green stripes on the helmets), as that is what I associate with the Pasdaran.  I associate the red headbands with the Basij, but, quite honestly, I am not certain of this, nor do I feel there was a set standard in Iran at the time.

This force is comprised of enough infantry to form 4x 10 man squads, each with an RPG and a PK lmg, plus a 4 man command team.  In addition there are 4 Mullah figures, religious inspiration on the battlefield.  Further direct fire support is provided by 2x jeeps with American M40 106mm recoilless rifles.  All of these miniatures are from RH Models, and are 20mm.

In the back are 3x Chieftain MBTs..... these are Airfix models, and were pretty beat up when I bought them in a large mixed lot.  With a little paint, including Iranian rondels, they don't look too bad, but not as nice as the rest of the force.  Still, those 120mm main guns might come in handy when fighting these guys here.

A little about the equipment.... the Shah had been provided with American equipment, including M60 tanks, M113 APCs, Cobra gun ships, and a variety of US artillery.  The regular Iranian army at the start of the war was armed with West German small arms, G3 rifles and MG3 lmgs, but as the war was fought large amounts of Chinese and sometimes Soviet equipment was bought and used to arm the various Revolutionary units.  Also from the time of the Shah, there were a number of Chieftain and Scorpion tanks.

For these infantry, I bought from three lines of miniatures.... primarily, from the multi-purpose range "Headbands with Beards" miniatures, using Soviet type weapons.  These guys definitely look the part for Iranian Pasdaran.  I mixed in some "Bandana" figures, also from the multi-purpose range.  I simply painted the bandana like a headband, and now I had "youthful" Iranians without beards.  Finally, I also used Iraqis in M1 helmets.... the Iranians used M1 helmets, and a whole slew of kit, so painted to match the other Pasdaran, they really fit in.  Because RH Models has such a wide range of things to buy from, this kind of mixing and matching is really easy.

You might notice a number of figures with blue-grey clothing... this was my attempt at the blue grey rain gear frequently seen in color images.  Granted, that represents only a limited portion of the overall war, but it is so distinctive, I thought it a nice touch to include.

Strangely, after starting with the Iranian regular army, they are the only force for the Iran Iraq War I don't have finished!  After painting Iraqi regulars and Republican Guard, and now the Pasdaran, I am tempted to strip the Iranian regulars and re paint them.  We shall see.

I have some thoughts about additional forces for the Pasdaran.... but I think I will hold off for now.

Hope to see some Iran-Iraq War gaming soon... thanks for reading!