Star Wars rules added

A set of rules for space combat by Mike Crane has been added to this website. The rules include drawings for paper counters and a game report using the rules.

It’s on the Complete Rule Sets page.

Posted in Periods - Fantasy, Periods - Science fiction | Leave a comment

Question about PBM campaign

<<Mark Phillips in the UK submits the following query:>>

Hello;
Decades ago I was part of a PBM , I believe called Macedon, which was an excellent pbm about the different Diadochi generals and provinces, really in depth. I had kept the game and setups but they have accidentally been thrown out by my wife. I am wondering if anyone in the association remembers such a pbm? and might be able to point me to the originator if possible?
Many thanks
Mark

Posted in Periods - Ancient, Wargaming | Leave a comment

Just a simple question

By Rob Morgan

Something which should really go in the ‘Letters to the Editor’ page, but we don’t have one. Or maybe in the ‘Reader’s Queries’ like the old ‘Battle’ wargames magazine used to have, but we don’t have one of those.

Anyway, take a look at these photos. I was in a charity shop months and months ago, and picked up a plastic bag of odds and sods. Some were basic and frankly useless ‘leggy’ infantry, others were similarly valueless hollow tanks and squat bombers. There were models in four colours, red, yellow, blue and green, as you see, and the only ones of use or indeed interest, are these two warships.

One’s a sort of battleship or heavy cruiser, 60mm long and quite neatly moulded, two funnels, two-masted and waterline. It reminds me of one of the Baltic Coast Defence ships, Swedish or Finnish. I’ve got three of them, all are green. No identifying mark underneath, but surely they must come from a board game?

The Destroyer is 50mm long, and again quite neat. Two-funnelled, a short mast and two guns fore and aft and an a/a gun, and torpedo tubes. They could be used as WWI destroyers or WWII escorts. I acquired several models of this type in all four colours, but sadly the blue ones had been cut about and are pretty useless. They are hard plastic, but odd in texture; a few experiments with different types of paint leads me to think they’ll be difficult to give a decent colour scheme.

That’s not my question, it’s simply this: has anyone seen these models before?

Posted in Naval gaming, Periods - World War I, Periods - World War II | 1 Comment

A new sample article for August

This month’s sample article from previous issues of Lone Warrior is by George Arnold and discusses his experiment with the DBA rules, using a hex grid. A game report with Ancients on hexes is included.

It’s on the Sample Articles page.

 

Posted in Battle reports, Periods - Ancient | Leave a comment

Old Science Fiction? Try Tarzan!

By Rob Morgan

In my youth, I taught Science Fiction, and I know that the four interesting books in the ‘Janissaries’ series do indeed provide some opportunities for wargaming, and solo wargaming at that. Book two is probably the best in terms of scenarios, but as they were published between the late 1970s and 1996, this is hardly ‘old’ Science Fiction!

I found myself pondering on the term ‘old,’ and perhaps the great era of SF, and its multitude of books and short stories on themes from Alien invasion to alternative histories might be worth a little more comment. More of that later.

Science Fiction has few boundaries, and as I’ve said before, quoting Ben Bova, ‘if the science is right , the fiction’s right.’ My thoughts then took me not into the far-off galaxies, but to something a little, well, ‘older’ and firmly, planetary based.

Tarzan!

Of course, there’s an ideal 20/25mm set of Tarzan figures still around, from Airfix. There are one or two copied sets too. So those are a starting point.

I devoured these books as a teenager, and there are more than two dozen Tarzan titles, written by Burroughs and published between 1912 and his death in 1950; a couple of titles emerged after this, together with a few spin-offs. Five or six of the books have definite value as far as wargaming and certainly solo play are concerned. At least three of them would make a decent long-play campaign with a lot of potential.

I recommend taking a look at:

  1. ‘Tarzan and the Ant-Men.’ From 1924! This is an active little book in which our hero finds himself in a far-off country called Minui, which has a number of city states at war with each other. The populace are dwarves, a quarter of Tarzan’s size, and he becomes involved in their wars. This gives the gamer the opportunity to use different scales, with perhaps 10mm troops from Irregular with the Airfix Tarzan? In some ways the overall scenario is a bit ‘Gulliver’s Travels,’ but you can wargame that adventure as well! Think outside the box here.
  2. ‘Tarzan Lord of the Jungle,’ published 1927. Tarzan enters a ‘forbidden valley,’ and discovers a society of European Crusaders, living as though in Outremer, and divided into two warring factions. Somehow they got lost in Africa en route to Acre, and set down roots. Tarzan’s accompanied by his loyal Waziri warriors, led by his great friend the chief Muviro. Easy enough to find two distinctly identifiable groups and some ‘civilians’ from for instance, the Caesar set H086 Dismounted Crusaders and Strelets M012 Military order warriors. A few civilians could come from the Airfix Robin Hood set perhaps? The Waziri warriors, well, the Tarzan set has a couple of decent warrior figures, but you’d need a few more! To my mind the best anywhere are the two Hat Zulu sets, 8316 and 8191, without the rifle-armed figures naturally, and there’s a very good chieftain in the set, too.
  3. ‘Tarzan and the Lost Empire.’ From 1928 (he really pushed these books out did Edgar!) While searching for a lost climber, our hero comes upon a last remnant of the Roman Empire, a kind of lost world. Again they’re split into two factions, like the ‘Blue’ and ‘Green’ bands of Early Byzantium. In this tale, Tarzan becomes a gladiator! So, I favour the 20/25mm sets of Revell’s Praetorian Guards, and Strelets Spartacus (there are four of these sets, a couple with civilians). Although some readers in the 21st century might regard this tale as a little trite, I think it has some great potential on the table top — solo!
  4. ‘Tarzan at the Earth’s Core.’ From 1929, this one. Now this makes for an interesting solo campaign game, map and table top. Almost ‘steam-punk’ in parts. It has an airship, polar exploration and the route to the inner world, where Tarzan, his Waziri mates and a band of gallant explorers take on prehistoric creatures, awkward tribes and a host of problems to emerge victorious (or not, if you’re playing a game). For the ‘explorers’ there’s a decent figure in the Tarzan set, and one or two from Airfix Cowboys or Wagon Train would do.
  5. ‘Tarzan the Invincible,” published in1931. It wouldn’t be contemporary if there wasn’t a ‘Bolshevik menace’ in Edgar’s books. Here it is, as Tarzan battles to save the ‘Lost City of Opar’ from a band of red marauders. This will be a motley bunch so try figures from any of the ‘revolutionary’ sets, such as Strelets M045 Red Army- Summer Dress, or BUM’s 5004, Spanish Civil War Militia, and 5100 Rif War 1920-27. They’ll suit. This book reads remarkably like an Indiana Jones film, by the way!

There are two other Tarzan titles which have clear potential by the way. ‘Tarzan and the Leopard Men,’ in which he and his loyal Waziris take on a sort of animated group of assassins, an African secret society of warriors. Then ‘Tarzan and the Foreign Legion,’ in which our hero reverts to his British stiff upper lip role and parachutes into Sumatra to take on and destroy the Japanese invaders. I haven’t in any way given you the detailed plots of these splendid, and barely dated in any way, works from almost a century ago, just a hint or two into how they might, if you use your imagination and let Tarzan be himself, become a decent solo wargame.

Of course, you’ll have to read the books. They are in print.

Posted in Periods - Science fiction | 3 Comments

USS Ohio and USS Los Angeles

By Rob Morgan

I was just writing a comment on early submersibles, looking for a suitable photo to go with it, and came upon a pack of Triang Minic 1/1200th scale waterline models that I acquired a little before the present crisis erupted. I thought it might make a short review note for the SWA, so I opened them. Here they are, complementary models, but very different.

They are sold two in a blister pack, and I paid £4.20 for them. One is USS Ohio, lead sub of the eighteen Ohio class SSGNs and SSBNs. What a model! The actual submarine is 560 feet overall, and in this scale it looks it, at 14cm long. The detail is splendid, etched neatly, and the small sail looks perfect. Overall paint job is a fine silky black, and apart from perhaps a touch of gunmetal or a streak of rusty brown, nothing needs to be added.

The second submarine is almost dwarfed by Ohio, and it’s USS Los Angeles. Literally, a film star of the sub world, having appeared in ‘Hunt for Red October,’ ‘Red Storm Rising,’ ‘SSN,’ and recently, in a few pc games, such as ‘Cold Waters.’ Lead boat of the astonishingly large class of, I think 62 in all, the model is similarly painted to the first and detailed just as perfectly. The model overall is 9 centimetres, but has one small, potentially problematic feature which needs to be dealt with, the Los Angeles  sail — that’s the conning tower if you’ve only ever wargamed with U-Boats — is a separate piece of metal, small, and needs to be super-glued in place, before you drop it, like I did!

Now, if there is any contemporary weapon of war more suited to solo warfare, and by default solo wargaming, it has to be the nuclear submarine, surely? I have a number of 1/1200th subs, including quite few Cold War Soviet craft, some dating back to the old Fleetline days, but have never really, seriously wargamed with them. When I have used subs it’s tended to be U-Boats, and Battle of Atlantic convoys, and the odd daring surface attack in mid-convoy aside, only the seriously damaged boats tend to appear on the table top.

I have no doubt that someone among the thoughtful membership of our wide ranging and intrepid Association will have used modern subs, like these, in a wargame, and will be better placed (far better placed!) than I am to suggest exactly how best to approach it, and what rules and scenarios are of potential interest. I can’t wait.

Posted in Naval gaming, Periods - Modern | 1 Comment

Old Science Fiction

By Jim Rohrer

I have been reading a science fiction trilogy by Pournelle and Greene (“Lord of Janissaries”). It is priced at $8.99 on Kindle and contains 896 pages (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B013RCXRNY/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_d_asin_title_o00?ie=UTF8&psc=1). Jerry Pournelle (1933-2017) has always been a favorite of mine so I do not know how I missed the Janissaries series.

You might ask how this is relevant to solo wargaming. The protagonist is a 20th century mercenary transplanted to a world in which the military technology is about at AD800. What would you do in this situation? He is a student of military history, so his first step is to introduce the pike and drill units to work in close formation. He also remembers the formula for gunpowder and starts a longer-term project to manufacture it.

The battle scenario in the first volume pits heavy cavalry against the pike. The opposing forces are Roman Empire legions. They have armored cavalry, as well as infantry units. Our hero trains Celtic hill fighters to use the pike.

Barbarian horse soldiers migrating due to climate change will offer another challenge later.

Posted in Periods - Dark Ages, Periods - Science fiction | Leave a comment

‘Flammen-Flieger’ — A weapon re-discovered

By Rob Morgan

There I was, meandering through my archives, or what my wife calls ‘the boxes in the attic’ (she’s never wargamed, you understand), looking for an article on the Model T Ford armoured cars that were used by the RNAS in Russia and Galicia in 1917. I found it in an Airfix Magazine from 1979, and in the same issue came upon a brilliant reader’s letter.

According to reader Michael Horsfall of Blackpool, early in World War II a Leutnant Stahl of KG51, the ‘Eidelweiss Geschwader,’ developed an aerial flamethrower used at low level to “… spread a blanket of flames over rooftops.”

The conversion is described as ‘home-made’ but must have been developed in some way from an existing flame system.

The nozzle of the weapon apparently protruded from the rear of the fuselage beneath the tail fin, just like a tail-skid, and seems to have been partly retractable. The fuel used for the flame attacks was stored in the fuselage bomb bay, which in most marks of the Ju88 was an optional internal fuel reserve bay, capable of taking a weight of around 1,200-1,400 kg’s.

Stahl’s original system was designed for and fitted to a Ju88-A1 in the Winter of 1940-4, and may later have seen limited action on the Eastern Front. It would certainly have been most effective against thatched villages, softskin lorries and vulnerable installations during the sweeping offensives across the Steppes!

Michael Horsfall went on to describe how one of KG51’s officers developed a technique for bombing tanks crossing ice, resulting in the break-up of the ice and the ‘sinking’ of the afv. He records the loss of a T-28 on the frozen Sea of Azov early in the war. I can’t find this anywhere else, but it may ring a bell with someone.

As far as the ‘flying-flamethrower’ is concerned, I can certainly see a role for the unexpected arrival over the battlefield of a Ju88 ‘Schnellbomber flat out, and roasting a Red Army HQ or supply dump. A limited number of bursts from the device of course, say 8-10 at most, but the burning fuel would be most effective at low level (as was the Ju88-A1!), and would spread widely. No modelling skills required. Watch out for the Gaz mounted Quad-Maxim’s though!

I’d also be tempted to bear in mind that at the time when Leutnant Stahl was dreaming up his hot idea in late 1940, Kampfgeschwader 51 with 3 Ju-88 Gruppen was based at Melun-Villaroche, across the Channel, and had been heavily involved in night attacks during the Battle of Britain.

So, perhaps his original intention was to create a ‘Terror-Weapon’ for Operation Sea-Lion?

Posted in Air gaming, Periods - World War II | Leave a comment

The blockade runner ‘Mars’

By Rob Morgan

The very thorough comment on what colour blockade runners were painted means I’ll have to repaint my small 1/1200th collection of them, after 30 years of, well, admittedly fairly infrequent use on the wargames table! Thorough, very, and many thanks indeed. But Robert Walker’s revelation that he designed the original deserves something more.

Now Mars when I first encountered the model, AC64 in the Navwar range, was about 75p for a one-piece metal moulding. Basic but useful, the ship was 50mm long, 18mm wide at the paddle boxes, and with a low funnel, and two small ship’s boats moulded at the stern. These days they sell at £1.75.

Robert Walker’s master mould may have had a small flaw in it, because where my seven Mars models are concerned, all of them are sitting well back, and low at the stern. Not a problem though, in 1/1200th it gives a blockade runner the impression of speed, and the same goes for the other purposes I’m about to mention. In 1/1200th naturally, the model can be given a small gun over the bows and a simple pole-mast to add ‘something’ extra. My interest in the model is in 1/600th scale (or 1/700th, alongside some of the Sky Wave sets). The Mars becomes an armed paddle tug for ACW use if you slip 12mm or 15mm of biro tube over the existing funnel and cement in place. Then file the two tiny boats from the stern. Between the paddle boxes, cement a square of plasticard 5mm by 5mm, for a pilot house. A 1/600th or 1/700th ship’s boat, not on davits, taken from any old kit source, cemented ‘fore and aft,’ adds to the impression of scale. The armament is one  of Peter Pig’s 1/600th scale pack 43 medium deck guns over the bow. A 20mm pole mast in front of the funnel and that’s it. Beefs up your Union or Confederate brown water force, at less than half the price of a standard gunboat.

There are several options in 1/600th and the small conversion thoughts can be changed. A Peter Pig set 13, single ship’s boat on davits can be added across the stern for instance, or a walkway 1mm, by 15mm between the paddle boxes. Or a 20mm by 5mm deck house, bring the changes. It becomes a generic 19th century small auxiliary with little effort, based around one of the small Pig guns — two, that is one gun forward and another aft, seem too much, in my opinion. Keep the funnel replacement though.

Another option is that in 1872, the Germans fitted two paddle tugs, Rival and Zephir with spar torpedoes. A single long pin over the bows will represent this, but no gun.

While as late as World War I, the Austrians had Krystina, a paddle river steamer of similar dimensions to Mars in 1/600th  for patrolling the Danube, a few Hotchkiss guns fore and aft, and a collapsible funnel for going under bridges. See Roger Branfill-Cook’s ‘River Gunboats,’ page 39. Lastly, in 1/600th, on Page 91 of this book is an Egyptian river paddler with side shields, ideal for Mars.

There we are, just a couple of ideas. Mars, simple model though it is, remains the most versatile of all those old Navwar ACW ships. I’ve just found myself looking at the other blockade runner in the series, Banshee. Now, there must be some use for that ship too?

Posted in Naval gaming, Periods - American Civil War, Periods - Nineteenth century | Leave a comment

‘Let’s Blow Up a Factory’ scenario

In this month’s sample article from previous issues of Lone Warrior, Peter R. Barkworth describes a scenario for a French partisan attack on German occupiers.

It’s called “Let’s Blow Up a Factory” and it’s on the Sample Articles page.

Posted in Periods - World War II | Leave a comment