Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Basing 6mm moderns

A certain shed-based habitué of these parts (Hi Richard!) has suggested that it might be useful to share the basing conventions I use for 1/300th scale WW2 and Cold War units. So be it.

I've based my 1/300th scale vehicles since I moved over to playing rules where a single vehicle represents a platoon or more (Cold War Commander, TacWWII, Blitzkrieg Commander). I find bases help remind me that this is a unit, not just a single tank. In addition, regular-sized bases help me to store the models safely, particularly in magnetised drawers when the base has a layer of self-adhesive steel paper.

My basing conventions have evolved over the years but what follows is where we're at now. I'll give the dimensions in millimetres; width x depth.

Rifle platoons have four figures on a 30mm x 20mm base:

Soviet WW2 rifle platoon

Some WW2 armies need tank riders. I've started making special bases for these. I cut out a 30mm square from an old business card. I then glue a few suitable figures along both edges and add 5mm strips in front of and behind the figures to make a 20mm wide channel into which a tank base will fit:

Tank riders with T-34/76

Obviously when the riders dismount they are replaced by a normal infantry base. 

Another recent tweak I've made is to mount my engineer units on 20mm x 30mm bases (i.e. portrait rather than landscape). This helps distinguish them from conventional infantry. I've also taken to adding flamethrower flames from painted clump foliage or barbed wire made from cotton thread and staples:

Soviet assault engineers

Medium and heavy machine guns go on a 30mm x 20mm base with a single team depicted. Given that the gun crew are kneeling around the gun, it's easy to distinguish them from the riflemen:

Cold War British sustained-fire MG

I put medium mortars (typically 81 or 82mm calibre weapons) and heavy (106-120mm) mortars on 30 x 30 bases. 

I don't often represent lighter (50-60mm) mortars as separate units. I usually assume that effect of the British 2" mortar and the German 50mm is factored into the platoon's inherent firepower. However, the H&R US support weapons pack includes some nice 60mm mortar teams to I've started putting a few of them on 25mm x 25mm bases to make them easily distinguishable from their larger brethren:

US 60mm and 81mm mortars

Artillery or anti-aircraft units, whether self-propelled, towed or man-handled, get 30mm x 30mm bases:

US .50 cal AAHMG

I also use 30mm x 30mm bases for battalion HQ elements. A few suitable command figures make for a mini-diorama. I've recently started doing some of these with a space on the base where I can add an un-based vehicle if the HQ is for a motorised unit:

Japanese battalion HQ

The same HQ with staff car

Tanks, armoured personnel carriers, trucks the like generally go on a 20mm x 30mm base:

M18 Hellcat

Tank HQ units are distinguished by appearing on a 30mm x 30mm square:

Panther battalion HQ

However, I've recently started upping the depth where the model has a long gun that would otherwise overhang the base. These 3D printed IS-IIs are on 40mm deep bases, the HQ platoon being 30mm wide to distinguish it:

IS-IIs on extra-deep bases

CWC and BKC distinguish between battalion and higher-level headquarter units. The latter, called CO units, get 40mm x 40mm bases; a great opportunity to try your hand at mini-diorama building:

WW2 US CO base

The Commander series rules depict artillery observers and forward air controllers as separate units. I base these on 2 pence coins (25mm diameter), usually with a suitable vehicle and some dismounted observers:

Artillery observer with 1 tonne Landrover

The same basing can be used to distinguish the Centurion OPRA from its Sabre troop equivalent:

Centurion OPRA

Finally, a one-off. Years ago a wargaming forum had a painting challenge to produce a sniper unit. I decided to go tiny and did a 1/300th scale Frenchman with a .50cal. He went on a one penny (20mm diameter) coin:

French sniper - he should probably
remove the brass badge from his beret!

Sunday, August 27, 2023


At a recent Penkridge wargames sale I picked up a bag of Scotia Japanese infantry on a whim. I've just got them finished. 

The pack was pretty limited in scope. There were plenty of infantrymen with rifles, five machine-gun teams with tripod mounted weapons and a similar number of officers.

I use four figures on a 20mm x 30mm base to represent rifle platoons for TacWWII, BKC or CWC so the pack gave me more than enough for a battalion...

Five MMGs seemed a bit much so I carved one to represent a 60mm light mortar. Mounting it on a 25mm square base helps it stand out from the MMGs and also potentially from any medium mortars I might acquire later (they'll go on 30mm squares).

Finally, I wanted a base to represent the battalion HQ. After building the rifle platoons I had an officer and a couple of riflemen going spare. One of the rifles was broken so I painted the remaining stump black to pass as an SMG. 

The remaining rifleman had his weapon replaced by a length of brass rod around which I glued a flag made from a small piece of nylon cut from the washing instructions tab on a tea towel!

I used an article from an old copy of Wargames Illustrated for Vallejo colour references, the important bits being: uniforms - Khaki Grey, helmets - Brown Violet, and boots - Mahogany Brown.

I've never wargamed the Far Eastern Theatre of WW2 but I'm tempted to one day have a go at the 1945 Manchurian campaign. In the meantime, all but the HQ can probably pass as Czechoslovak troops in 1948 as in 6mm scale the Japanese and Slovakian helmets aren't that different.  

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Prague Summer 2

A few of us recently discussed some ideas about games featuring competing friendly forces. Could we represent rival brigades from the same army racing to reach a strategically valuable objective against relatively weak opposition? 

The classic historical example of this, albeit on a larger scale, would be Zhukov and Konev's respective Fronts racing to be the first to take Berlin in 1945.

The fictional Prague Summer 1948 setting seemed like a good fit for such a game. My plan is to recruit a total of between four and eight players. I hope to arrange a TacWWII game in such a way that the respective command teams can plan their operations in advance.

Two Soviet Divisional Forward Detachments will be tasked with reaching the fictional Czechoslovak city of Stary Boleslav. The Order of Suvorov First Class will be awarded to the first Soviet commander to reach the city.

One Detachment will have to fight its way along tables 1, 2 and 3, the other along tables A, B and C. Each Forward Detachment will be controlled by a Soviet player or by a team of two players if demand for places is high. 

The Czechoslovak players will defend the two routes to Stary Boleslav but they will be limited as to their deployment; political and logistic factors meaning they they must begin with a main force battalion on each of the tables 1, 2, 3, A, B, and C. Again we could have two individual Czechoslovak players or a team of two on each route.

Both sides will have fixed starting forces and the option to purchase additional supports. The Czechoslovak players will be able to co-operate as to how they share out the available supports whereas the Soviet players will be competing to get the best supports from a limited set of resources.

Combat engineers - a possible Soviet support

In addition, I want to make some allowance for political events in the period between the abortive February coup and the July invasion. I'll be asking the Czechoslovak players to roll three six-sided dice some time before the game. They'll be asked to allocate one die result to each of three categories of political effort: 

  • Czechoslovak Intelligence
  • Purging the Communists
  • Seeking Help from the Western Allies

Before allocating the scores they won't know the full effect of this; merely that lower numbers are bad and higher numbers good. The effects of these die rolls (using the umpire's secret table) will influence starting factors such as troops' training, morale, and deployment.

Another thing I'd like to try out, given the chance for the command teams to plan in advance, is an approach to artillery support that more accurately models Soviet doctrine.

I propose to restrict indirect Soviet artillery fire to locations plotted before the game. The Soviet players will be allowed to nominate a limited number of targets and the fire missions to be fire at them. 

The fire missions may be scheduled (e.g "Three 120mm mortar batteries are to fire HE at location B, starts on turn 3 and lasts for two turns") or planned to be called in by a battalion HQ unit that can see the target location (e.g "Perform Fire Mission 6 with immediate effect"). The details of Fire Mission 6 (target, guns firing, ammunition type, and duration) will have been specified before the game.

The number of pre-plotted target points allowed to each Soviet Forward Detachment will be limited. They will be restricted to tables 1 and A unless the relevant Soviet command team purchases the option of pre-battle tactical recon missions from the Air Force. This will mean that the Soviet commands will increasingly need to rely on their Heavy SU Regiments to provide direct fire support as the attack progresses.

If any of you will be within striking distance of Sheffield in Spring of 2024 I'd be delighted to have you as players.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

TacWWII on Facebook

As part of my efforts to find out if anyone else is playing TacWWII (and perhaps raise some enthusiasm among my gaming friends to play the rules at a future event) I've created a TacWWII Facebook Group.

3D printed ISU-152s with plastic rod gun barrels

Ian Shaw and I are working on stats for the vehicles of the various WW2 nations and I've also posted some Japanese unit organisations.

The Group is set to private at present to avoid spam. You can find it here. Could I ask, please, that some of you readers of this blog try to sign up so I can see how this works with a private group?

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Romagny, August 1945

I've just been doing a bit more solo TacWWII, this time playing Bob Mackenzie's scenario for the Battle of Romagny. This was a US attack to regain the initiative after the failure of the Germans' Mortain counter attack. Elements of the US 30th Infantry Division pushed back troops of the 2. SS.

Like most of Bob's scenarios when converted to TacWWII this occupies a small table; about 2 feet by 3 feet.

In the picture above the Americans are attacking Romagny (centre right) from the left and from the hedged fields "above". In the distance, La Roche Grise is held by Kampfgruppe Ulrich. It'll stay that way because I didn't send enough US forces to take it.

In the pic below we can see 1st Bn, 119th Infantry Regiment advancing through the ruined factory at the west end of Romagny. They are supported by M4A3s of the 743rd Tank Battalion.

At the same time, GIs of the 117th Infantry are attacking Romagny from the north.

As the SS rifle company holding the north end of town retreated, the German commander decided to send his attached troop of Panthers to plug the gap. They were successful in wiping out one US platoon but tanks vs Bazookas in a built up area is a high risk option and the Panthers were knocked out.

Casualties on both sides were significant but the Americans were slightly luckier on morale tests. Soon both SS companies were retreating from Romagny. 

The Americans lost one M4 platoon to foolishly brave attacks by Panzerfaust armed elements of the 2SS Aufklärungs Abteilung but their morale held and the Panzerjäger were driven off.

After a pause in the action (the 117th got a "Halt" result on a battalion morale test and had to be ordered forward again by the regimental HQ) the remaining Germans in Romagny, men of the headquarters company, retreated leaving the town in American hands.

It took a couple of hours to play through the game. I'm enjoying rebuilding my familiarity with these rules and gradually upgrading my WW2 forces and terrain as I go.

One question that came up this time refers to Neutralised elements of units that are subject to a Retire morale result. In the past I've always played that they remain in place (Neutralised units certainly may not make a voluntary move in the rules) but this time I played that they must retreat along with their non-neutralised fellows. This makes them less likely to be captured by their opponents but more likely to retreat off the battlefield. It means that the company stays together and it's easier to keep track of which platoon is from which company. It also avoids some silly situations later in the game if the company rallies and the remnants return to the fight. Why should the formerly Neutralised guys near the enemy be in the same Mode as their mates who are now half a kilometre away having legged it?

 I think I'll stick with Retire-takes-precedence-over-Neutralised for now.