2010 Mike Daddy Memorial WWII Miniatures Game

“Hey, I remember when we used to play WWII games with Mike.”  So, when he’s in town over the holidays, I make an effort to do it again.

For the most part when we play WWII, we play skirmish scale games: individually based infantry and about a platoon on each side.  We also play infrequently, so we seem to have settled on the Disposable Heroes ruleset.  It’s easy to relearn for only one game per year, and it lacks most of the quirks we found in rules like BAPS.

For WWII, I prefer to play scenario games instead of point-based pickup games, so I’ve invested in a bunch of the Skirmish Campaigns scenario books.  They provide a lot of balanced scenarios with different sized forces and boards, with a credible but not overwhelming amount of research in support.

Russian tanks threaten the barn as Germans advance
from the right

This year we played Counter-Attack at Bereza, a scenario from Russia ’41 – Drive on Minsk.  Mike played the Russian force, and Frank and Andy were German.  I ran this as a single-blind game.  Both sides moved their forces on a map, and I made spotting checks. When units were visible, they were placed on the board for all to see.  This slows down the game significantly, but adds a lot: when you don’t know where the enemy is or what their objective is, you have to expect the unexpected.  It’s dangerous to move around not knowing where the enemy is, but you need to be aggressive in order to take your objectives.

In this case, both sides had the same objective: to take and hold the two buildings on the map.  Germans started off board and approached from one side, and the Russians started on the other end of the map but on the board. No one held the buildings initially, but they were closer to the Russian side.  However, the Germans didn’t know where the Russians started, so they didn’t know whether they’d need to assault the building or just walk in unopposed.

Russians hold the house and threaten the German advance

Both sides had only 2 squads of infantry to take and hold the buildings, and 5 tanks or antitank guns.  The tanks were all comparable: early war lightly armed and armored.  There seemed to be two main forces at play here.  The infantry had no anti-tank capability, but they were valuable to help spot the tanks before they were placed on the board.  Tanks also have a hard time shooting infantry in this game, but they can be deadly if they can acquire a target.  Achieving armor superiority was important to save the limited infantry for the buildings.

In the first half of the game, the Russians were in a better tactical position, but lost a few tanks.  They still had a good crossfire set up, and were in cover, so they regained armor advantage before the end of the game as the Germans advanced in the open.

On the infantry side of things, the barn in the center was the first contentious point as expected.  Mike’s Russians made a mad dash for the building with a heavily damaged squad, right in front of Frank’s German rifle section.  He made it into cover, but the Germans drove him off in close combat shortly after.

With Frank’s other section basically gone, this left Andy’s squad to take the second building.  Mike moved into the house with a Russian tank crew, and then reinforced it with his squad of ninjas who made it almost to the last turn of the game before being spotted.  Andy’s infantry took heavy fire, and at this point it became clear that we had a standoff. 

Although the Russians were in a stronger defensive position, the Germans had advanced past the barn.  Neither side had infantry close enough to their second objective to reach it in the two turns remaining in the scenario.  We could have fought a battle of attrition to the very end, but this was only a small part of a very wide front, so it would’ve been as pointless as most real wars are, and no more fun.  We called it a draw and moved on.

Some gamers who play nothing but DBA like to complain that “other games” take a really long time, and don’t produce any decisive results.  Although this game was a perfect example of that phenomenon, there was no real downside this time since we all get along well.  The main point was to hang out and have fun, and we did.  I call that a win.

Hopefully Mike can make it out to Pittsburgh more often.  I enjoy these games, but I am not likely to put in as much effort as I did more than twice a year, these days.

Panzer III comparison

Here are two 15mm Panzer III models I painted.  The one on the right, “311,” was painted maybe 5 years ago, and it’s a Command Decision model.  It’s probably a Panzer IIIF, but I don’t remember the specific variant.  I painted the one on the left, “312,” a week or so ago for our annual WWII game.  It’s a Peter Pig PzIIIE variant.

It’s hard to tell which differences between these models are due to the different variant they represent, and which are just sculpted differently.  Overall, I much prefer the quality of the Command Decision model.  The Peter Pig castings have a rougher surface and are less detailed.  The drive wheels on 311 are toothed and have properly shaped holes in them (not round) while the PP wheels were obviously just done with a drill bit.  The PP model is larger overall.

In practice, I don’t think these details show very much on the game table, but if I have a choice between Command Decision and Peter Pig for a specific vehicle, I’ll choose the Command Decision.

WWII Russian Vehicles

Here are the Russian WWII vehicles I painted for our recent WWII game.  Since it was a blind game, I withheld these until after the game was finished.

First are four Russian T-26 tanks.  These are Command Decision models and I like them a lot.

When researching appropriate tank markings for these, I found more images of captured T-26’s with German markings, than T-26’s with Russian markings.  Apparently not many of them survived long enough to bother marking them up.  I added a red star to one tank to identify it as a commander, but left the rest blank.

Next is a 45mm antitank gun and a relatively light Gaz truck.  The truck looks straight out of WWI.  These are also Command Decision.

Comparison: GW vs. Army Painter

Unfortunately the focus is slightly off in this image, but it gets the point across.  This is a comparison of the difference between GW’s Devlan Mud wash on the left, and Army Painter’s Strong Tone dip on the right.

Both figures were painted with the same base coat colors in the same areas, and both were sprayed with Army Painter dull varnish after they were dry.

Overall, for these colors I prefer the Army Painter dip.  It darkened the colors a bit less, and stayed in the cracks a bit better.  The black on boots and gun were affected less by the Army Painter dip than the wash.  I also don’t like how it deadened the green helmet.

I really like Devlan Mud, and I will still use it in cases when I don’t want to wash the entire figure.  But Army Painter works really well.  It’s almost depressing how good a job it does, compared to making an effort.

The colors, for reference, are all Vallejo except the black which is a craft paint.  They were selected based on the Flames of War painting guide for Russian infantry:

  • Russian Green helmet (894)
  • Khaki Grey uniform (880)
  • German Camo Beige for the straps and gear (821)

Unfortunately you can hardly tell the difference between the two khakis used for uniform and belts.

WWII Russian Infantry

Here are some of the Russian Infantry I painted for this year’s Mike’s Memorial WWII Miniautes Game.  (“I remember back when I played games with Mike… let’s do it again.”)

These are 15mm figures I picked up at the flea market at Fall-In.  As far as I know they’re Quality Castings, but no guarantees.  They seem small, but it may only be compared to the Ancients I usually paint. 

I got them done quickly: 50 infantry in 2 nights of painting; and another 6 LMG’s in about an hour.  I used simple flat base coats of Vallejo paint and then applied a GW wash or Army Painter dip.  They came out good enough, which is just what I’m looking for.

After playtesting BAPS with Frank last night, we decided we won’t be using BAPS for this game.  Instead we’ll probably fall back on Disposable Heroes again.