Wargaming

Catching Up, Pt. 1

It’s been a good while – nearly three months – but I am still here.

Hopefully, you’ve had a great holiday season and you’ve not been burdened by too much snow or frigid temperatures.  Just remind yourself that Spring is only 70 days away.

Life’s just gotten a bit . . . busy.  So many areas of interest, so little time or money – it’s weird how that happens.  But I had a couple of irons in the fire when I was last here, I should probably provide a run-down on how they turned out:

I did manage to clean and eventually repaint that O-scale Lionel engine.  I had to do a bit of improvised rigging, too, as some parts were rusted beyond repair.  In the end, I have what I wanted – a non-functioning period piece for any 1:48 scale gaming I might pursue.  I’d originally picked it up for Dust Tactics, but seeing how that’s no longer an option, the train – the engine and a few railcars – might be used with as scenery (or an objective) in Bolt Action.  I mean, in addition to the 1:35 figures I’ve got, I do have a number in 1:48 scale.  We’ll see.

I also got an opportunity to thumb through Modiphius’ Star Trek Adventures.  The book is gorgeous, and at least physically, lives up to the hype.  I’ve heard mostly good things about it from users, although I’ve yet to see the game being played.  I was particularly disheartened to learn that Modiphius has yet to release the playing figures – the dice have apparently been out for a while.  Then again, it could just be that the stores in my area aren’t carrying the figures, hence their absence.

Anyway, it’s something to consider.


Most of what I’ve been doing as of late revolves around a newer interest of mine – Battlefront’s Team Yankee.

 

Resized_20171227_083440.jpeg (2)

The ‘Other‘ 1985

For people not in the know, Team Yankee is a miniatures wargame based on a book by Harold Coyle, that details a major confrontation between the Soviets and the West in 1985 West Germany.  I remember getting the book when it came out (so long ago), but I don’t recall finishing it; there were a slew of World War III books that came out in the wake of the Hunt for Red October, and most of them are a blur to me now.

It’s funny, in retrospect, but it seemed like adventure novelists were fixated on some major military confrontation in the mid-1980s.  Coyle looked at a war from the perspective of ground forces, while Tom Clancy took a broader military approach in his classic, Red Storm Rising.  I remember one author who looked at a war beginning in the Mediterranean, while another had it start with a resumption of the Korean War.  One of the more interesting takes was a story where a war began in apartheid-era South Africa.  Books like these had comparable plots:  Devious plan cooked up by an aggrieved person leads to war, which soon spirals out of control.  Before it gets too far gone, sensible heads take over, the planners are destroyed in some fashion, the war ends, and the reader is left asking, “What happens now?”

They say that history is cyclical.  It’s not, but I won’t argue here.  What is true is that nowadays, people are fascinated by the 1980s, much the way that people in the 1970s were fascinated by the 1950s.  Each generation seems to fixate on some arbitrary point in the past, and argue that it was a “time of innocence,” before the “chaos of today.”

Maybe they’re right.

Team Yankee is interesting to me – at least as a game – because I was in the army during the time the game takes place.  Had this been the real-deal, I would have been one of thousands of young men and women who’d have been playing this for real, so there’s an added dimension to this material for me.  (Interestingly, it’s this personal familiarity with the time and place that’s been helpful as I reacquaint myself with GDW’s apocalyptic classic, Twilight 2000 – but that’s a topic for another day.)

Anyway, the available components for Team Yankee are 15mm, or 1:100 scale.  And while I’m sure that the folks at Battlefront would love for you to use their models, I’ve been wondering if smaller actions can be played by using their rule set and other, larger models.  I say “smaller actions,” because one of the issues I have with Team Yankee (and it’s older brother, Flames of War, a WWII version), is that the tabletop battlefield can get very crowded.  Photos in the respective books, as well as those found online, suggest that one needs to have dozens of scaled vehicles and troops all on a relatively tiny (4′ x 6′) tabletop.  Factor in the cost – about $45 USD for a set of five vehicles – and it is easy to see that Team Yankee can send a guy to the poorhouse rather quickly.

You don’t need to rush out and buy everything, and in fact, Battlefront has been very helpful in releasing Hammerfall, their introductory set that provides you with virtually everything one would need for a basic game.  Two US M1 Abrams tanks and three Soviet T-64s, along with a simplified set of rules, dice, and playing pieces, all for $35 USD is not a bad deal at all.  And these vehicles are kits – tiny models that are extremely detailed, but require the necessary glue, paint, and patience, before one can start.

And I mean a lot of patience.

Resized_20171227_124453.jpeg

Tiny!

I hadn’t planned on getting involved in the game itself; I was interested in the models.  And let me tell you, I think Superman would have had a hard time seeing some of that detail.  But as I started to acquire and accumulate, it just made sense to dig deeper into the game and to see what it had to offer.  What really helped me the most was that I was able to find used copies of some of the books, and that saved me a pretty penny.  Only the primary rule book is required; the others are helpful, but definitely not needed.

At this point, I’ve built a modest American force:

 

resized_20180101_125330-jpeg.jpg

Notice how few are painted in a camo pattern?  What was that about patience?

It’s a nice little American force, but it’s not finished.  I may add a few more vehicles to the group.  If one was going to be even remotely accurate, the use of the M109 artillery howitzers (in the back row) would necessitate a playing table much larger than 4′ x 6′; probably something in the neighborhood of 8′ x 20′.  I know that those guns have a far greater range than what the required tabletop allows.  It’s for that reason that I’ll likely avoid any air units and anti-air defenses.

But as I say, it’s a start and we’ll see how it goes.

Advertisements

I’m Back, Pt. 2

With the whole Star Wars/Trek thing currently on the back burner, I’ve been dedicating myself to some new interests, specifically, the idea of wargaming.

I’d gotten into wargaming some years back, but it was never serious.  Rather, I should say that I never got the chance to get too serious about it, as components were rather expensive and rule sets were (at least in my neck of the woods) hard to come by.  I did manage to piece together a really nice set of expensive 15mm US and Soviet vehicles, but I never got to use them, as my lovely nephew discovered them one evening, and thought they’d make wonderful projectiles to skip across a nearby pond.

Yep, I’m still ticked about that.

Anyway, I hadn’t had much to do with wargaming until recently, when I was intrigued 81oeiWfuyhLby the release of the 2nd edition rules for Osprey’s Bolt Action (BA).  I’d heard about it in passing, but knew nothing else.  Virtually no store in my area carried BA products (save for an occasional supplement book), and I knew no one who’d had any experience with the system.  But once the updated rules were released, I was curious.  I did some investigating and research, and eventually decided to just order a copy of the book.  I should add that what really got me motivated to act was my curiosity about a companion rule set, Konflikt ’47 (but that’s another post entirely).

I got the opportunity to watch the game being played at a local store and immediately fell in love with what I’d seen.  My only problem was in the costs, as fielding a basic force can be a bit expensive.  With me wanting to try the game at home (and possibly recruiting others into it), that meant I’d be paying for at least two armies (so double my prices), as well as all of the books, accessories, and who-knows-what-else would be involved.  What am I talking about dollar-wise?  The starter kit for one force runs about $120, and that’s essentially a collection of 28mm scale soldiers (between 25 and 40, from what I’ve seen), a copy of the rule book, and several smaller accessories needed for the game.  Vehicles could run another $25 to $50 each, and then there’s the costs involved in creating a realistic looking playing area, and that depends on what one is trying to do – but it can be pretty expensive, not to mention time consuming.  By the end of the day, I’d determined that I’d probably shell out several hundred on a game that might get used, and that was a bit rich for my blood.

Then, as they say, something happened.

Resized_20170523_094627.jpeg (2)I remembered that a few years ago, I’d gotten bit by the modeling bug.  There were a couple of really good hobby stores in my area – now since gone – where I’d gotten some basic 54mm scale Tamiya models on the cheap.  Some had been assembled, others sat waiting for action.

I’ve been questioning whether or not it is possible to play Bolt Action with figures larger than the 28mm scale.  Without a lot of table space, I’m guessing that it’d be near impossible to conduct large scale actions, but I’m wondering if one limited oneself to smaller, squad based activity – would it still be feasible?

I have so many models that would work that it seems almost silly not to try . . .