I like a tabletop battlefield uncluttered by intrusive markers, so like to take any opportunity to replace a marker with something that looks more in keeping with the surrounding.
A good example of this is “Bailed Out” markers for tanks: especially useful when playing early war WW2, when you can expect far more bailed out than destroyed tanks.
I have the TFL marker pack that has some transparent oval disks with “Bailed Out” on them. I have some FoW markers: circular pieces of plastic in a variety of nice colours with little logos on them. But what I really like is a small group of painted crew figures that can be placed next to the bailed out vehicle in question.
I have these for my Germans, Soviets and British, but am mostly playing games set in the September War (Poland 1939) at the moment. Now the Poles don’t have a lot of tanks, but we’re just coming up to the period when those tanks were being used (and lost!) in almost every encounter. Time for me to paint up some Polish tank crews.
Battlefront used to be excellent for this. Every tank came with one or two standing crew figures that were designed specifically to represent bailed out and then fleeing crews. As far as I can tell, they don’t do this any more, which is a colossal shame, but I carefully kept all the ones I didn’t use just for a time like this when I needed some.
Somewhat ironically considering Poland’s fate in 1939, the above are a combination of Soviet and German tank crewmen painted up to resemble Poles. They are not perfect: the commander’s beret is a bit the wrong shape, and the crewmen should be wearing dark green mini-helmets rather than the padded version worn by the Soviets, but at a range of three feet (and just for a marker!) no-one is going to notice.
Although this site is dedicated to the TFL Company Level games such as IABSM, CDS and Q13, I do like to point out what else is going on in Lardland.
That's why I'm really happy to post that the much-anticipated Early War handbook is now available for the TFL platoon-sized game: Chain of Command.
Having published the IABSM early war books earlier this year, I was also somewhat involved in the production of this work, and can therefore assure you that it is truly epic. Rich has gone back to many first hand sources and original army manuals for the information it is based on.
This 124 page handbook provides a comprehensive coverage of the campaign in France and the Low Countries in 1940. Included is an historical account of the campaign in the West, as well as whole raft of new rules to cover the events of that summer. New theatre specific rules include Assault boats and river crossings, parachute drops, glider landings, bicycles, horse mounted troops and motorcycles. We have several new armour classifications for tanks with small turrets, vehicles lacking of radios and unreliable vehicles. Fancy blowing up a section of the Maginot Line? Well, you can with our new rules on fortifications and demolitions as well as looking at Francs Tireurs, ‘Shabby Nazi Tricks’ in the form of Brandenburg Commandos, Civilians, Stuka attacks and even the odd drinks cabinet being rolled out to stiffen the stiffest of upper lips.
Biggest of all is the truly massive section on Army lists. Here we wanted to provide a really comprehensive guide to the period and in doing so we went right back to the book, or more specifically the manuals that the armies of the period issued to their troops. The French Tableau d’Effectifs de Guerre, the German KsTN lists, the Dutch Handboek vor den Soldat and Officier series and many others issued throughout the 1930s and up to 1940. These manuals tell us not just how troops were organised, but how their training prepared them for war and their doctrines. This has allowed us to produce not just Army Lists but introduce national characteristics which make each nation unique in the way they fight.
First Line Infantry Reserve Infantry Chasseurs Groupe Franc Reconnaissance Motorcycle Fusiliers Reconnaissance Cavalry Motorised Infantry Dragon Portes Mounted Cavalry Chasseur Portes Colonial Troops Mountain Troops Ski Scouts Light DIvision Infantry Groupe Franc Motorise de Cavalerie
1939 Regulation Platoon 1940 Regulation Platoon Motor Infantry Motorcycle infantry Line of Communication troops Searchlight Troops
1st Wave infantry 2nd Wave infantry 3rd Wave infantry 5th Wave infantry 7th Wave Infantry Static infantry Pioneers Motorised Infantry Motorcycle Reconnaissance Schutzen Type 1 Schutzen Type 2 SS Totenkopf SS Verfungs and Leibstandarte SS Motorcycle platoon SS Aufklarungs motorcycle platoon Fallschirmjager Type 1 Fallschirmjager Type 2 Luftlande Glider platoon Gebirgsjager
Infantry Blackshirt troops Alpini
Alongside these lists we have nearly fifty support option lists giving support choices for a huge number of unit types, so if you have a motorcycle reconnaissance platoon you can select support from the different divisions which fielded that unit type. All in all, the gamer can choose an incredible range of interesting and varied troops types and then choose supports from friendly forces and allies for forces of almost limitless variety. But that’s not all. Each nation has a full Arsenal list for weapons and AFVs as well as comprehensive notes to cover their support options.
Finally, we have five new scenarios types, Going with a Bang, Strike from Above, Swift to Support, Hasty Defence and Blitzkrieg to bring the 1940 campaigns to life. All in all, a huge addition to your Chain of Command library in both hard copy and PDF.
Regular visitors will remember my post of a week or so ago mentioning that I had found somewhere (Heer46) that produced a model of an SdKfz 247: the command car used by some of the German armoured car regiments in the battle for France.
The two I ordered arrived quite quickly, and immediately jumped to the head of the painting queue.
There are two possible variants: one with a canopy over the rear compartment, and one without.
Lovely models of an uncommon vehicle that paint up very nicely. Another piece of kit that I can't wait to get onto the tabletop.
Those of you who are building an early war armoured car company from a panzer division's reconnaissance battalion (page 63 of the Blitzkrieg in the West: The Germans theatre supplement for IABSM) will have been almost immediately stymied by the need for the Big Man in the Company HQ to ride around in an SdKfz 247, as no one seems to make one.
Well I have some good news for you.
The figure manufacturer Heer46 now have an SdKfz 247 model available in 15mm. It's the Auf. B version with four wheels, as opposed to the Auf. A model with six wheels, and looks like a cracking bit of kit.
I've ordered two of the little blighters, even though I'm unlikely to ever need to field more than one.
The only problem, by the way, is the cost. In common with anything wargames related from Europe, they cost a comparatively enormous amount. The model is €11.80: which is about £10 or $14! That's about five times what you'd pay for a plastic SdKfz 222, making the SdKfz 247 the Ferrari of the German army!
A bit of a shameless plug, but here are some of the comments made around the web about my latest work: the Blitzkrieg in the West: Germany handbook for IABSM, published Thursday 10th May:
"An awesome piece of work. The level of detail is incredible."
"Turned on computer a couple of hours ago. Went to TFL website immediately looking for Blitz-Germany. Only time for a quick scan through: outstanding!
"IABSM was my first Lard rules (still a favorite) and all four Blitz books provide the best single sources of information for 1940 I know of. Useful in many ways, thanks for your work."
"I have bought the four books and they [are] the best thing since sliced bread. Not a player of IABSM myself but the detail and depth of the information is so good that can be used for any other set of rules or just for reference. Excellent job, congratulations."
Derek Hodge (chief proof-reader of the handbook):
"I've had a head start on the reading this as I helped Robert with the proofreading and I can say that he's put a huge amount of work into it. I had no idea that German OOBs in 1940 were so varied.
"The whole Blitzkreig in the West series is an absolutely fantastic resource for any wargamer interested in the 1940 campaign. You can use the lists in the pdfs to build OOBs at any level from company to division.
"And the lists are also useful if you're playing a platoon level game such as Chain of Command as they enable you to see exactly where all the various support options come from. This is invaluable if you're trying to build support lists limited to what was historically available to any specific infantry platoon."
Nick Skinner (co-author of IABSM):
"More superb work from Mr Avery. Can't recommend it highly enough. Even if you do not game IABSM the unit information is astounding."
Blitzkrieg in the West: Germany is the fourth in my series of early war handbooks for I Ain’t Been Shot, Mum. The handbook is a massive 185 pages long (over double the size of either the French, BEF or Low Countries books) and covers the whole of the German army that invaded France and the Low Countries on 10th May 1940, seventy-eight years ago today.
The book begins with the humble infantry: not one, homogenous, grey-clad mass, but actually eleven different types of infantry division, each with their own set of core and support troops.
Next, after a quick look at the infantry that doesn't fit into the above (e.g. the Gebirgsjaeger), the book moves on to the ten panzer divisions: with each panzer division given its own section and set of lists. There are, for example, five different lists that relate to 9th Panzer Division alone.
After the Panzertruppen, the book covers the cavalry, the SS and the army level support troops (that's where you'll find the StuGs!) before finishing off with the Fallschirmjaegers and Air Landing troops that dropped into Belgium and the Netherlands. Finally, we have the usual ratings and armoury sections, and a note on air support.
Although designed for IABSM, Blitzkrieg in the West: Germany contains a vast amount of information useful to gamers of other systems, and is really a must-buy for anyone interested in the early war period.
Available now from the TooFatLardies website, we've kept the price at £8.40: the same as the other three handbooks, despite its much larger pagination. That should make the set of four books - France, the BEF, the Low Countries, Germany - absolutely affordable for all.
I took advantage of the bank holiday weekend to finally finish the company of early war Polish tanks that I have been working on.
A Company of Polish 7TP (jw) tanks from 1st or 2nd Tank Battalion
I say a company, but actually I painted twenty-two of the little blighters: sixteen as the single-turret model, and six as the double-turret model.
That gives me the flexibility to field a company of tanks from the 1st and 2nd Tank Battalions (all single-turret); most of the 3rd Tank Battalion (one reduced company of single-turret, one reduced company of double-turret); or (given a little bit of leeway in counting 7TPs as the Vickers tank they were based on) the mixed platoons of 12th or 121st Tank Companies.
Either the 12th or 121st Independent Tank Companies: 7TPs used as Vickers
The models are all 15mm from Battlefront via Element Games. Undercoated in Army Painter green, then with the pale yellow and then the brown camouflage on top. The same basic camouflage pattern was used for each tank. Then washed and dry-brushed to bring up the detail.
Note that I had another varnish disaster in the initial spray. Not the varnish's fault, on this occasion, but mine. It was very hot, and I didn't shake the can properly, so got a light frosting of propellant/bad varnish. How did I solve it? As I've mentioned before, a light coat of olive oil got rid of the frosting, then another two sprays brought the models down flat again. A close call!
Those of you who follow the site will know that I already have loads of 4Ground 15mm Russian village buildings to which I recently added a few extras from the Minibits/RedVectors range (click here to see post, opens in a new window).
Now Things From The Basement, the US based 'manufacturer of dollhouse and wargaming miniatures' has also released a 15mm Russian village set of buildings, based on their 25mm range.
Two Log Cabins
Two different 'fancy' houses
A Farm Buildings set (a basic farmhouse, a barn, a well and an outdoor privy)
A Blacksmith Shop & Tool Shed
An Orthodox Church
I, of course, bought these immediately, and have just spent a very pleasant evening and morning, sat at my workbench in front of the open French windows, building them.
So are they any good?
The log cabins are fairly standard . I like the way they do the windows (cardboard sills that stick on the outside of the HDF) but I found it very difficult to build them in way that the roofs came off easily. My advice: buy one pack if you want a bit of variety in an existing village, but don't base your entire village on several packs of this set, stick to the 4Ground stuff.
The fancy houses (House 1 and House 2) are both good. I didn't much like the roofs, but they do come made to come off so you can put figures inside. What is really nice is the level of detail on the outside. The really fancy one has some lovely decorative woodwork that looks really nice when built, and the other one has a little porch that is exactly like the one I saw on that Russian TV show about the WW2 pilots "The Attackers". I would definitely buy both of these if you want a Headman's hut or two.
The farmhouse and barn from the Farm Buildings set is a bit like the log cabins: alright but nothing special (although the roofs do come off in these ones). What makes this set an absolute must-buy is the well and outdoor privy. Cracking models that I would buy again if available separately. Recommended.
The Blacksmith Shop and Tool Shed is another excellent bit of variety for your village. I can take or leave the tool shed, but the blacksmith shop, with it's open sides, roof vents, forge and anvil is another must-buy. Recommended.
Finally we come to the Orthodox Church. Come on, Robert, I hear you cry, you can't need yet another Russian church (I already have five...or is it six?) but actually, yes I can. This is a beautiful model that I really, really love. The build is intricate but not particularly difficult: to get the spires and the roof you end up building an internal framework that I just felt so proud of having managed! There's a real sense of achievement when you've built this little baby! Did I mention that it looks really good too?
So there you have it: a solid recommendation to buy from me. There is just one teensy-tiny little problem: the shipping from the States is quite pricey. The shop on the TFTB website won't let you buy outside of the US: you have to e-mail Joerg and ask for a PayPal invoice. The set is $55 for one of each of the above, but shipping is $23 on top of that...so that's £56 to get it to our front door if in the UK. No problems with the ordering and delivery, I hasten to add, my set arrived very promptly, but perhaps a bit pricey.
How was the build? About the same as a Sarissa build actually: so slightly more difficult that a 4Ground or Minibits build, but still nothing very problematic. I would, however, strongly advise downloading the instructions from the TFTB website (free to do) and build them with PVA glue not Superglue: there's quite a lot of finickity moving about of parts to do to get them to fit together just right. Nothing too difficult, but not something that Superglue will let you do.
So overall, a hearty recommendation from me, despite the price, and if you do order from Joerg, do mention Vis Lardica when you do so please.
Just to give my latest handbook for I Ain't Been Shot, Mum a little pre-publicity, I got the cover through from Rich today.
The handbook will be available from the TooFatLardies website on May 10th (next Thursday) and weighs in at over 180 pages!
The good news is that despite its huge size (over twice as big as the other handbooks in the series) we're not making it more expensive than the other books: it will be the same price as the French, the BEF and the Dutch/Belgians.
The handbook will cover the German army that invaded France and the Low Countries in May 1940. It will contain lists for each of the ten different types of infantry division, each of the ten different Panzer Divisions, the cavalry, the SS, the Fallies, the army troops...you name it, it's in there!
A few posts ago I mentioned that I had bought a whole company of Polish 7TP tanks, plus six extras for the dw version, from Battlefront via Element Games. It was now time to build the little blighters.
The jw single-turret versions are very easy to build: all you have to do is add a commander and hatch to the top of the turret, the gun to the front of the turret, the correct turret base plate to the main body of the tank, and then the tracks to either side.
There is, however, one thing to watch out for. There is a spot on the left hand side of the hull, towards the front, where the resin is very thin and very weak. Fully six of the twenty-two models I constructed either came out of the packet with this bit chipped away, or broke there as I glued the left hand track on.
Here's a picture to show what I mean:
Now with the turret on, and after painting, these gaps probably won't be noticeable on the tabletop, but it's enough of a hole to make me think about reaching for the green stuff. Six out of twenty-two tanks broken in this way (about half out of the packet like that, about half caused by me until I realised how careful you need to be) isn't a very good score from Battlefront.
In my earlier post, I did mention that building twenty-two of the same type of tank would be a good opportunity to check quality control. You've got the above weak resin spot, but were there any more problems?
Well unfortunately there were. Two of the twenty-two had genuine mis-casts or breakages, as shown in the pics below:
So if we count half the tanks with the weak spot gone (i.e. blame me for the other half) and add the two shown above, that's five out of twenty-two packs or 22% damaged items.
22% or about one in every five.
That's much worse than I was expecting.
So, Battlefront, and it gives me no pleasure at all to say this, you have an amazing range of great-looking kits but, given availability of the tank I want, I will always go for Zvezda and/or Plastic Soldier Company before you: not because I particularly like plastic tanks, but because your quality control is so rubbish. Simples.
Real life and all the work I have been doing on the IABSM early war handbooks has kept me away from the painting table recently, especially as what currently lurks there is the company of 15mm PSC late war Germans with all their camouflage and bits of kit...so, it was a relief to actually sit down and paint something else.
What did I paint, I hear you ask? A company of this? A company of that?
Regrettably not: I managed one 15mm tank!
I was reading the IABSM BEF handbook and realised that I only had two Matilda I's painted and ready to go and, as all those of you who have kindly purchased the handbook will know, they came in troops of three tanks.
I did, however, have a Zvezda Matilda I in the lead mountain. Not sure why...but I think it might have been an impulse purchase using up the last few pennies at Warfare last year rather than anything considered.
Anyway, I had one and I needed one, so built and painted it in a couple of hours.
The kit snaps together in about twenty seconds and, as you can see, paints up to be perfectly serviceable for the wargames table. I paid £1.95 for it, so very cost-effective for a tank that won't get used very often.
How does it compare to the Battlefront version?
Well, it's slightly smaller, particularly in the delicacy of the tracks, but not enough to make a difference at a distance of 3ft or so.
I am quite a fan of the Zvezda models. They are a great way of affordably fielding large numbers of tanks. Recommended.
The handbook is 88 pages long (bigger than either the French or BEF books) and contains two separate sections: one on the Belgian army of 1940, and one on the Dutch army of 1940.
The Belgian section contains sixteen separate lists covering everything from the Active divisions through to the Cavalry and then on to the Chasseurs Ardennais and Border Guards. There's also a section on the forts and bunkers positioned along the Belgian border.
The Dutch section contains seventeen separate lists covering everything from the First Line divisions through to the Light and Peel divisions through to the three independent brigades, the cavalry and the various territorial commands. There's also a short section on the defence of the main airfields and another on the defence of Rotterdam.
Both the Belgian and Dutch sections contain a lot of background information, so the handbook should be very useful for players of other game systems as well.
And don't forget the other two handbooks that are already available:
As one review on the TFL website says about the BEF handbook:
Picked this up this morning – I got the French one last month. Absolutely brilliant resource that I really look forward to using. Can’t wait for the German one. *****
Just in case people were wondering why it's all still been a bit quiet on here lately, it's because I'm still working hard on the series of Blitzkrieg in the West theatre books for I Ain't Been Shot, Mum.
The French and BEF handbooks are already available from the TooFatLardies website, and I'm pleased to announce that the handbook covering the Low Countries - Belgium and the Netherlands - should be available to buy right after the Easter Bank Holiday weekend i.e. Tuesday next week, 3rd April.
The handbook is 88 pages long (bigger than either the French or BEF books) and contains two separate sections: one on the Belgian army of 1940, and one on the Dutch army of 1940.
The Belgian section contains 16 separate lists covering everything from the Active divisions through to the Cavalry and then on to the Chasseurs Ardennais and Border Guards. There's also a section on the forts and bunkers positioned along the Belgian border.
The Dutch section contains 17 separate lists covering everything from the First Line divisions through to the Light and Peel divisions through to the three independent brigades, the cavalry and the various territorial commands. There's also a short section on defending the airfields and another on the defence of Rotterdam.
Both the Belgian and Dutch sections contain a lot of background information, so the handbook should be useful for players of other game systems as well.
So don't buy that extra Easter egg: save your money for Tuesday morning and a trip to the Low Countries!
What with real life and working on the IABSM early war theatre handbooks (the Dutch and Belgian handbook is out at the end of the month: almost broke me!) I have had no time for either painting or gaming so far this year.
So I'm quite pleased to be able to post that I've finally managed to finish the first of nine late war German infantry squads, shown here on a custom-made sabot base from Warbases:
The figures are Plastic Soldier Company in 15mm.
Just think: only another eight more squads to go. At this rate, the company will be finished sometime in 2019...not a very good showing for this year's painting challenge!
I'm very happy to announce that Blitzkrieg in the West: The BEF, the second of the series of theatre handbooks covering the early war in the West is now available. It covers the British Expeditionary Force from 1939 to the fall of France in 1940. Designed primarily for use with IABSM v3, the handbook will still prove useful to all players of WW2 company-sized wargames.
This incredibly detailed guide to British forces, written by me, is 75 pages in size and is packed with data, including the following British forces:
From the Infantry Division
The Infantry Company
The Infantry Battalion Carrier Platoon
From the Motor Infantry Division
The Motor Infantry Company
The Motor Infantry Scout Car Platoon
The Motor Infantry Motorcycle Company
From the Line of Communication Troops
The Line of Communication Infantry Company
The Pioneer Infantry Company
The Searchlight Infantry Troop
From the Reconnaissance Troops
The Divisional Cavalry Squadron
The Armoured Car Squadron
From the Detached Element of the BEF
An Infantry Company from Saar Force
From 1st Tank Brigade
A Tank Squadron from 4RTR
A Tank Squadron from 7RTR
From 1st Armoured Division
A Paper-Strength Armoured Squadron from 1st Armoured Division
A Tank Squadron from the Queen's Bays
A Tank Squadron from 10th Royal Hussars
A Tank Squadron from 2RTR
A Tank Squadron from 5RTR
From Calais & Boulogne
A Best Guess Tank Squadron from 3RTR
A Motor Infantry Company at Calais
A QVR Motorcycle Company at Calais
The Guards at Boulogne
From the Beauman Division
An Infantry Company from A Brigade
An Infantry Company from B Brigade
An Infantry Company from C Brigade
With additional sections on the Second British Expeditionary Force, other British independent formations, fielding British forces, rating your forces and a comprehensive armoury.
Just in case people were wondering why it's all been a bit quiet on here lately, it's because I've been working hard on the series of Blitzkrieg in the West theatre books for I Ain't Been Shot, Mum.
The French handbook is already available from the TooFatLardies website, and I'm pleased to announce that the handbook covering the British Expeditionary Force should be available to buy on Thursday this week, 1st March.
Covering everything from the Regulars to the Territorials, from the Pioneers to the Searchlights, the BEF handbook will give you everything you need to field a British force in May/June 1940. There's a lot of background info too, so the handbook should be useful for players of other game systems as well.
The good news is that I've finished the first draft of the Belgian Army handbook for IABSM v3. That should be out in a combined Belgian/Nederlands pack on 1st April, following the BEF handbook which is still on track for publication on 1st March.
The bad news means that all the research and writing is severely cutting in to my painting time. All I have managed to finish this week is three late war German Panzerschrek teams for my Aufklarungs Kompanie.
Nice figures from The Plastic Soldier Company, but it's going to be a long haul to finish the main body of the infantry!
When IABSM v3 was published, two late war handbooks quickly followed: Battle for Liberation and Vpered Na Berlin. I am very pleased to say that today sees the publication of the first of the v3 early war handbooks: Blitzkrieg in the West #1: The French.
The handbook is 73 pages long, and covers the French Army from 1939 to the fall of France in 1940. It has twenty-nine force listings in it, all looking at core company structure and then the possible battalion, brigade, regimental, divisional and higher level supports. It also has a guide to rating your French forces, and a comprehensive armoury.
Available only as a pdf from the TooFatLardies website, Blitzkrieg in the West #1: The French costs £8.40.
Handbooks covering the BEF, the Belgians and Dutch, and the Germans follow one per month in March, April and May this year.
Blitzkrieg in the West #1: The French contains the following lists:
Infantry Divisions Infantry Company GRDI Cavalry Squadron GRDI Motorcycle Squardon
Motorised Infantry Divisions Motorised Infantry Company DIM Motorcycle Company GRDIM Motorcycle Squadron GRDIM AMD Squadron GRDIM AMR Squadron
Independent Tank Formations Independent Tank Company (R-35, H-35, D-2 or fCM-36) Independent Tank Company (FT-17)
Colonial Infantry North African and Foreign Legion formations
One thing I don't have in my WW2 collection is any late war German infantry. Yes, I've got Fallschirmjaeger in camouflaged smocks, but no men in a mixture of feld grau and Zeltbaun.
Until now, that is.
My self-bought Christmas present this year was a PSC company of "Normandy infantry" and their heavy weapons support in 15mm, the first of which I painted this weekend just gone:
I've decided that I'm going to use the figures to build an Aufklarungs Company to go with my already-bought-and-painted SdKfz 250's. I'll then pad that force out to make a full Grenadier company.
Now after painting a company of British Paras in their Denison smocks, I did vow never to paint another camouflaged smock again, but painting these chaps wasn't too bad.
For a start, these are first PSC infantry I've painted: a nice change from the Battlefront and FiB Poles I've been concentrating on recently.
Secondly, these are lovely figures: well posed and with plenty of clear detail to work with. I'm not sure I like the kneeling chap in grey with the binoculars - he looks a bit tall to me - but the others are cracking.
Technique was simple. Undercoat in black, then paint the base colours including the basic tan for the zeltbaun. A very light wash brings out the detail, then highlight and paint on the little green and brown stripes that make up the camouflage. I might have highlighted the greys a bit too strongly, but 15s always look a bit better if a bit over-exaggerated.
I wouldn't say I'm looking forward to painting three platoons worth plus the other supports (about another 100 figures) but the first ten weren't too painful and seem to have turned out quite well.
Vis Lardica is a website devoted to wargaming and military history, with a special emphasis on the company-sized rulesets produced by the TooFatLardies: I Ain't Been Shot Mum (WW2); Charlie Don't Surf (Vietnam); and Quadrant 13 (science fiction)
Welcome to Vis Lardica, a website mostly dedicated to the company-sized wargaming rules produced by the TooFatLardies, but encompassing my other gaming interests as well.