Combat Patrol and What a Tanker games – My TotalCon 34 Recap

It’s been about a month since the last gaming convention I attended, and my how the world has changed.  I cannot see how a large convention could be held right now (though Cold Wars indeed happened in Pennsylvania this weekend).  There are a few upcoming gaming cons in obvious risk – and for now I think it useful to blog and paint and reflect back until this COVID-19 crisis passes (and that it will).  Best wishes for health and happiness to all my readers all over the world, from the US to Australia to the UK, All across Europe, and Africa and Asia. Now with everything at a lock down or a standstill due to the coronavirus crisis, I thought it was a good time to write a post about the games at my last convention as a distraction.

I had promised you great readers a few battle reports from TotalCon 34.  It was a very large convention with around 600 attendees.  Miniature games were a smaller offering there compared to RPG, LARP, board games – and a number of other offerings with which I was unfamiliar!

The convention was held from February 20-23, 2020 at the Best Western Conference Center in Marlborough, MA.  I had signed up to run four games – two on Friday and two on Saturday.  Two were Combat Patrol™ retro sci-fi games – “Space Cowboys versus Giant Zombie Cosmonauts” and “Attack of the Warbots” with my mostly OOP collections from Archive Miniatures, Mega Miniatures, War Games Supply Dump (and my own creations).  The other two were scenarios for What a Tanker© that I have created and discussed previously in this blog: “Battle of France May-June 1940” and “Normandy Breakout!“.

Running four different games in two days was a challenge (my vehicle was full of mats, terrain, and miniatures) but I pulled it off well enough I believe.  I’ll share some photos and some descriptions of the action.  I think the players had a good time.  This post will be pretty photo-heavy.

The first game I ran was on Friday was “Space Cowboys versus Giant Zombie Cosmonauts“.  I had four players (though I could have accommodated 9).  It turned out that I had two seasoned gamers on the defending Space Cowboys side and two younger players on the attacking Giant Zombie Cosmonaut/Martian/Retrovian side.

02212020 TOTALCON Space Cowboys versus Giant Zombie Cosmonauts
My flyer for this game – the space on the right is for business cards to share information about my gaming club –  the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club.
1 set up from defenders side
View from the defenders’ side.  They must save the chemical plant from destruction or kill The Mind.
2 set up from attackers side
View from the attackers’ side.  They must destroy the chemical plant in 10 turns or less.
1 SC vs GZC setup
The game set up at TotalCon 34.
2 SC vs GZC setup
Retrovians prepare to attack.
3 SC vs GZC setup
Close up of the chemical plant before the defenders deployed.  I allow the defenders to deploy by any barrier or the chemical plant.
4 Retrovians attack
The attackers ponder their next move.  The defenders moved and took up good defensive positions in and overlooking the wadi.
5 SC take casualties
On the attackers’ left flank, Retrovian fire begins to take its toll on the defending Space Cowboys (aka Texican Space Rangers).
6 Martians take casualties in wadi
On the other side of the table, Martian infantry attempt to charge across the wadi.  Effective rifle fire decimates the Martians in the open.  The stack of cards on the right indicates a pile of Martian KIA that ran into a hail of cowboy lead.
7 GCZ take casualties and move towards wadi
The Mind and its Giant Zombie Cosmonauts get close to the wadi, while Retrovians provide supporting fire.
8 SC squad runs away
The Retrovian fire is too much for one squad of Space Cowboys, which fails a morale check and skedaddles for cover.
9 Robo servo gun and Brasheer knocked out
Carnage ensues.  A Robo-Servo gun is destroyed (black smoke), while another gun destroys a Retrovian three-legged assault pod.  The fleeing Space Cowboy squad from the previous shot is in the upper left.  The Mind is breaking through in the top center, but many of its zombies have taken hits to legs and are falling away from the advance.
10 Brain is killed
As the protecting zombies fall away, the platoon sergeant, Armando Garcia, jet packs next to The Mind in a desperate attack.  The Mind had a 60% chance to react to the move and preemptively fry the Space Cowboy, but failed in the attempt.  SFC Garcia fired his assault rifle and killed The Mind, ending the game.

The game was a blast.  The defenders took up good positions but the attackers’ pressure was building to a decisive point.  Unfortunately, The Mind became vulnerable and the defenders’ gambit worked this time.  The players quickly got used to the Combat Patrol™ system.

The next game was later that night, when I ran “Attack of the Warbots”.  I have run this game several times, and it always is a crowd pleaser.

02212020 TOTALCON Attack of the Warbots
My flyer for the game.

I had about 8 players for the game.  The attacking Warbots made good progress initially in breaching the wall.  However, the defenders jet-packed their bazooka-armed Star Ducks onto unprotected rooftops – and got pretty shot up.

1 Attack of the Warbots set up
The Biological Alliance is in an “Alamo” type of a defense, with a massive force of Warbots attacking from this side, and an allied Martian force (yup they showed up in this game too) from the opposite side.
2 wall is pierced
The Warbot on the far right uses a plasma beam breacher (basically a long disintegrator ray) to piece the defenders rusty wall.  This kicks up a lot of smoke from the vaporized material.  The Warbot that did this uses a lot of energy in the effort and is stunned for three turns while recharging (hence the multiple “stun” placards).
3 targets on the roof
More Warbot destruction ensues as they fire another plasma beam breacher through the Aphid position in the center.
4 Mark 1 Sphere tank stunned by attacking Frinx
Frinx cavalry (on glyptodons) armed with anti-robot arc weapons and blasters charge!  They manage to stop a Mark 1 Sphere tank with a non-penetrating hit that stuns it at the walls edge.
5 The other Mark 1 Sphere tank attempts to flank
On the left Warbot flank, a defending Space Roo player checks to see if his RPG-armed Space Roo can engage the other Warbot Mark 1 Sphere tank.  It could, and at extreme range knocked out the other Warbot tank.
5a end of game
The end of the game found the captured Warbot tank repaired and capable of driving off of the board.  Therefore, a Biological Alliance victory!
6 After Battle
Happy gamers (and me) after the game are all smiles!

After this game, (which was around 11:00 PM+), I and some of the players cleaned this all up.  As my next game was in the morning at 8 AM, I set up my Normandy Breakout! scenario for What a Tanker©!  I have a lot of  bocage (hedgerows) for this game as you will see.  I got set up, and ambled off to my hotel room for a few hours of shut-eye.

02222020 TOTALCON Normandy Breakout!
My flyer for the game.

This scenario is as described on the flyer above, but to be clear, the Germans are in hidden positions across the board known only to them and the GM (me).  Additionally, the exact force composition selections on both sides are done secretly, as each side buys vehicles and Bonus Attack cards with points.  Each side starts with 200 points.

Points are earned by the Allies (US and UK) for successfully reconnoitering hidden positions (which could have either possible or actual Germans there), for knocking out Germans, and for crossing the board and breaking out.  Germans earn points for unreconnoitered positions, knocking out Allied vehicles, and can get a game bonus for limiting Allied crossings to zero or no more than 1 vehicle.  The Germans vehicles are more expensive, so their defensive benefits need to be offset by successful ambushes and an overall defense against any Allied breakout.  I announce only who is winning at the beginning of each turn, but not the exact score – so as to keep the game feeling crew-focused.

I had between 4 and 6 players (some joined mid-game).  The Germans went initially with two 8-wheeled scout cars (an Sd.Kfz. 231 and an Sd.Kfz. 233, a Panther D, and a Tiger I, all of which deployed secretly.  They loaded up on Bonus Attack cards as well.

The US deployed on the left half of the board, and the UK/commonwealth on the right half.  The US chose an M5 Stuart light tank (with recon abilities) and an M10 Wolverine tank destroyer to start, while the Brits took a Daimler Dingo scout car and an M4 Sherman.  The Allies also maxed out their Bonus Attack cards possibilities.

1 Dingo and Achilles move out
The Americans move up their M10 Wolverine “Demon”, while behind a British Daimler Dingo recons a field.

On turn 1, the Allies spent 71 points on vehicles and cards.  They successfully reconned 5 positions at 2 points each for 10 points, leaving them with 139 points at the end of the turn.  The Germans spent 88 points on vehicles and cards.  The German Tiger I ambushed and knocked out the British M4 Sherman for 14 points.  At the end of turn 1, it was close – 139 to 126 in favor of the Allies.

On turn 2, the Allies respawned another British M4 Sherman for the destroyed one, and bought 1 more Bonus Attack card.  This new vehicle was at no cost as the replacement cost as much as the previous loss (the Germans did get more points for killing that previous Sherman on turn 1).  The M10 Wolverine rolled a great movement, and was able to breakout successfully, gaining the Allies 16 points and taking away half of any potential German end-of-game bonus for preventing Allied vehicle crossings.  On turn 1, the US M5 Stuart had been able to move into a field and successfully recon a position where an Sd.Kfz. 231 was hiding.  On turn 2, the Stuart activated first, and destroyed the German scout car, gaining 11 more points for the kill. The Germans for their part bought two more Bonus Attack cards for 10 points.  Overall, the Germans had a weak turn, and only recovered 2 points by activating their Sd.Kfz. 233 before the US could find it.  The successful M10 “Demon” crossing widened the score at the end of turn 2 to 161-118 in favor of the Allies.

2 Sd.Kfz. 231 is pursued by M5 Stuart with Brit M4 Sherman burning
At the end of turn 1, the M5 Stuart chased down a German Sd.Kfz. 231 in a field.  The M5 activated first in turn 2, and destroyed the German scout car.

On turn 3, the Germans knew that they were losing, but not by how much.  They made a bold move and chose an expensive new tank for a respawn of their lost Sd.Kfz. 231 – a Tiger II.  The net cost was 18 points after “credit” for the “trade-in” in lieu of a free respawn of another Sd.Kfz. 231.  Adding another Bonus Attack card brought the German spend for turn 3 to 23 points.  The US player got a free respawning replacement M10 for the one that crossed on turn 2, so the Allies spent no points at all on turn 3.  They did earn 6 points for reconning German positions.  The Germans got a bit of revenge as a Panther activated and took out the M5 that killed the Stuart for 12 points, and the Tiger I moved to a crossroads and took out a second British Sherman for 14 points.  The score at the end of turn 3 was 167-123 in favor of the Allies.

3 early game action with Tiger etc.

Turn 3 action – the destroyed the German scout car is the left.  The Tiger I has moved to an excellent position at the crossroads and has knocked out the second Brit Sherman.  The Panther (not seen ) was hiding at position “F”, and activated.

4 Panther avenges Sd.Kfz.231 by taking out Stuart
The M5 Stuart was no match for the activated Panther.

On turn 4, the Allies decided to get three more vehicles.  Two were respawning ones for turn 3 losses – the US got a “free” M5 to replace the one killed in turn 3, and the Brits “upgraded” its second lost M4 Sherman to an M10 Achilles tank destroyer “Tabitha”.  They also bought another M4 Sherman for a new very young player that joined the game, and a couple of Bonus Attack cards.  The Allied spend was 24 points.  The Germans only bought 1 card, for 5 points.

During turn 4, the Daimler Dingo had a fun time.  It successfully reconned the hidden position of the Tiger II!  Then, scared for its survival, it and its crew sped off down the road to cross the other side  – gaining 7 points for crossing and thereby nullifying any potential German end-of-game bonus.

The Brit side then flanked the Tiger I at the crossroads with the M10 Achilles “Tabitha”.  It took a quick flank shot on the German, and did some damage.  It then called in the RAF (with a Bonus Attack card) which destroyed the Tiger I for a big 25 points.  The Allies successes widened the score at the end of turn 3 to 177-118 in their favor.

5 Dingo finds Tiger II
Surprise!  Daimler Dingo finds a Tiger II and takes off before it can be destroyed.
6 Young player and his Dad use a SHerman
A young player takes command of a Sherman for the US.
7 lots of action and Tiger I hit by USAAF
The Tiger I is destroyed in the crossroads by the RAF.

Turn 5 would be the last turn of the game.  The Allies respawned another Daimler Dingo for the one that crossed in turn 4, and bought a couple more Bonus attack cards, spending only 10 points.  The Germans were despondent, and decided to buy a Jagdpanther and a Bonus Attack card for 29 points.

The M10 Achilles “Tabitha” fresh off the combined arms kill of the Tiger I maneuvered for a rear shot on the Panther – and killed it for 22 points.  The Germans tried to hunt down a fleeing M5 Stuart.  It lined up a deadly point-blank rear shot on the Stuart – only to miss the shot.  It was emblematic of the German sides day.  After another position was reconned, the day belonged to the Allies.  The final score was a lopsided 191-89 in favor of the Allies.

This was the biggest disparity in this game ever (and I have run it many times).  In my opinion, the Germans did not keep their eyes on the objectives.  They also did not effectively take advantage of their ambush positions, and left too many openings for the Allies, who maneuvered their lesser vehicles much better than their foes.  With that said, all had a fun game.

8 Jagdpanther hunts M5 Stuart
Turn 5 – the M5 Stuart is missed by the Jadgpanther.

With some help from players, the tabletop was cleaned and it was time to take a break.  I could have played a game but I decided to spend the next game slot relaxing as I felt a but tired.

My next game was on Saturday night – “The Battle of France, May-June 1940” for What a Tanker©.  The scenario reverses the previous game a bit, with the Germans attempting to break through the French defenses and head to the channel and cut off the Allied forces in Belgium.  There are also two different Bonus Attack card decks that I made for this scenario.  I described this scenario in my blog previously here.

02222020 TOTALCON Battle of France 1940
My flyer for the game.

I had originally 10 players signed up for this game, with 2 on a waiting list.  I was disappointed that I only had 5 players show up – but it was fine.  I had two German players and three French players.

Each side had 200 points at the start.  Here again, the exact force composition selections on both sides are done secretly, as each side buys vehicles and Bonus Attack cards with points.  Points here are earned by the Germans for successfully reconnoitering hidden positions (which could have either possible or actual French located there), for knocking out French vehicles, and for crossing the board and breaking out.  The French earn points for unreconnoitered positions, knocking out German vehicles, and can get a point bonus for limiting German crossings to zero or no more than 1 vehicle.  Similar to the Normandy Breakout! game, I announce only who is winning at the beginning of each turn, but not the exact score.  This definitely keeps the game feeling crew-focused.

There are a couple more key additional nuances to this scenario.  There are two bridges, and the French player can spend points to wire one, both or neither bridge for demolition.  Any French attempts at demolition may be tried at any time, but are not guaranteed.  They also get a “free” small minefield (that is not very effective) that is also secretly set at the beginning of the game.  The French decided to wire the bridge on their right flank for demolition prior to the game, leaving the one on their left with the small minefield next to it.  During the game (which I will discuss), the French did blow the bridge on the right, and were able to fool the Germans into believing that the other was wired as well.  This rendered the minefield a non-factor in the game, but made the Germans attempt to ford the river.

The Germans decided to buy 2 6-wheeled Sd.Kfz. 231’s and a Panzer 38(t) on turn 1.  They also maxed out on Bonus Attack cards for a total of 50 points spent.  The French deployed in hidden positions (half the tabletop is designated as under the control of French cavalry tanks, and the other half (mainly the town area) is under the control of French infantry tanks.  The French bought a Panhard 178 armored car, a Char B1 bis, and a SOMUA S35.  Their initial purchases all had radios (some French tanks do not), so they were able to max out their Bonus Attack cards.  The total initial French spend was 71 points, including the wiring of the right flank bridge.

During turn 1, the Germans drove one of their scout cars onto the right flank bridge, and the French successfully destroyed the bridge with the German on it, gaining 11 points.  This also spooked the Germans to avoid the bridge as they feared it was also wired (and it was not!).  After this the Germans were forced to use fords to attempt crossing the river.  The Germans did successfully recon one possible hidden position for 2 points.  The score at the end of turn 1 was 152-140 in favor of the Germans.

On turn 2, the Germans respawned a Panzer IVD for the lost Sd.Kfz. 231 at no net point cost.  They also reconned a couple of French potential positions for 4 more points.  The French bought an additional SOMUA S35 for the cavalry for 10 points, and uncovered three of their own positions in order to meet a table-crossing threat from the surviving Sd.Kfz. 231 and a Panzer 38(t).  This gained them 6 points.  The Panzer 38(t) is a fast light tank, and was able to ford the river, along with the other scout car.  The French recognized this threat, and attempted to deal with it by activating its vehicles in the town.   The Germans used a Bonus Attack card to bring down smoke and obscure their movements.  The score at the end of turn 2 was 156-136 in favor of the Germans.

1 Sd.Kfz. 231 and Panzer 38(t) skirt the town
The Panzer 38(t) on the left and the Sd.Kfz. 231 (6-rad) on the right successfully ford the river, fearing that the bridge was wired for demolition (it wasn’t).  They get ready to dash off the table into the vulnerable French rear.
2 Germans plan their assaults and roll dice
The Germans get some excellent movement rolls.
3 Char B1bis moves out in town
The French react and send tanks such as their Char B1 bis to stop the penetration by the Germans.
4 German smoke screen blocks Char B1
The Germans foil the Char B1 with a smoke screen.

On turn 3, the French hurriedly bought a Renault R40 for 8 points and tried to use it to stop the crossings.  The French also bought more Bonus Attack cards for 15 points.  The Germans bought nothing.  During the turn, the Germans successfully crossed the Panzer 38(t).  This despite the fact that at first the Char B1 crossed the smoke and missed it, and then the R40 shot at and missed it.  This crossing earned the Germans 8 points, and limited the French end-of-game bonus chances.

On the cavalry side of the table, the Germans tried another smoke screen to protect a Panzer IVD as it crossed a ford.  one of the smoke rounds hit the river mud and did not ignite – leaving a hole in the smoke screen.  The French cavalry S35 did manage to shoot and damage the Panzer IVD on the other side, just after it forded the river.  This pushed it back into the river.  The French SOMUA then called in and then destroyed it with an artillery barrage using a Bonus Attack card, earning 8 points as well (and blocking that ford).  The Germans also reconned another of the hidden positions for 2 points.  However, the Sd.Kfz. 231 made it to within 1″ of the other side of the table – and the R40 had a rear shot aimed at it at turn’s end.  The score at the end of turn 3 was 166-124 in favor of the Germans.

5 Sd.Kfz. 231 escapes R40 and Panzer 38(t) sees Char B1
The Char B1 crosses the smoke and takes aim at the Panzer 38(t) – and misses.  An R40 activated and missed the Panzer 38(t) as well.  The Panzer 38(t) then rolled well and was able to cross the table.  The German Sd.Kfz. 231 almost made it off of the table and was in the R40’s sights as turn 3 ended.
6 On other flank, bridge blows and fords attempted
The German smoke screen imperfectly covers the Panzer IVD after it fords the river…
7 Panzer IV knocked into ford and knocked out
The Panzer IVD is pushed back into the ford and destroyed by artillery and SOMUA fire.  This blocks the ford (to the consternation of the following Panzer 38(t)!).

On turn 4, the Germans respawned the crossing Panzer 38(t) and the destroyed Panzer IVD for identical models, and added a Bonus Attack card for a total spend of only 5 points.  The French bought 3 Bonus Attack cards in the hope of stopping the German scout car from crossing.  The R40 activated first, and then missed the Sd.Kfz. 231.  The German scout then crossed, ending any chance of a game bonus for the French and earning 11 points for the Germans.  The score at the end of turn 4 was 172-109 in favor of the Germans.

I failed to get any more photos after turn 4 (I think I was getting tired!)

On turns 5 and 6, the French were getting desperate as they knew they had lost the game bonus.  They bought an Hotchkiss H35, and a SOMUA S35 took out another Panzer IVD.  The Germans bought a StuG III ausf. A.  Both bought more Bonus Attack cards.  The Luftwaffe was called in on the Char B1 bis and successfully destroyed it.  That loss ended the game.  The score at the end of the game was 159-89 in favor of the Germans.

Both sides played well, bu I have to say the dice abandoned the French at critical times.  The Germans crossings sealed the fate of the game.  It’s nice to see that both games results have differed each time and that no side has an advantage.

After this, I packed up with help (especially from Leif Magnuson – who was a BIG HELP THANK YOU!), and went home to sleep.

I hope you enjoyed these battle reports.  Now that the COVID-19 is endangering lives, we’ll have to see if and when I get to run these games again soon.  Let’s all hope for the best, and prepare accordingly.

Wishing all of you and your families safety and health!

 

 

 

Battle of France 1940 at Mass Pikemen

The Mass Pikemen played an action-packed game at our February gaming session.  The game was a What a Tanker© game for my Battle of France, May-June 1940 scenario.  This also served as a final play test of the scenario before using it at upcoming gaming conventions (TotalCon 34, HAVOC, and HUZZAH!).

At the start of the game, each side gets 200 points to buy tanks and armored cars as well as Bonus Attack cards if the vehicle has a radio (all the Germans have radios, many French vehicles do not).  The French are defending and have the ability to deploy at secret positions known only to their side and the GM.  The French forces are divided – with half of the battlefield being under the responsibility of cavalry tanks, and half under infantry tanks.

The Germans are exiting wooded areas on two congested roads heading to two bridges over a river.  The German mission is to cross the board and exit the other side (and head to the English Channel) – and gain points for doing so.  There are also several possible fords over the river that are minor obstacles.

The French player may also spend points to wire either one or both bridges (or none) for demolition.  This status is also known only to the French side and the GM.  The French side may attempt to blow a bridge at any time, but failing to blow the bridge or allowing any Germans to cross makes subsequent demolition attempts more difficult.  If a bridge is blown while a vehicle is on it, that vehicle is destroyed.  Any side that destroys a vehicle gets points for that action as well.  As GM, I only announce who is ahead at the beginning of the turn, and I do not share the score so as to maintain a fog of war for the players and try to maintain a crew-focused battle.

1 Battle of France set up
Overview of the battlefield from the French side.  The French deploy infantry tanks left of the second road on the left, and cavalry tanks on the right of that road. 
2 Battle of France set up town
Detail of the town where most of the hidden positions are for the infantry tanks.  Both infantry and cavalry had access to Panhard 178’s and H35’s.
3 Battle of France French cav side
The right (French cavalry) side showing the river and the bridges.  The rocks in the river were designated as fords.
4 Battle of France Mike rolls dice
The German players deploy.
5 Battle of France Panzer 35(t) knocked out
From a hidden position, a Panhard 178 calls for anti-tank support.  Using a 47 mm anti-tank support card from the Bonus Attack cards, a Panzer 35(t) is torched before getting to a bridge, while a wary Panzer IVB watches.
6 Battle of France Panzer IVB on blown bridge knocked out
A German Sd.Kfz. (6-rad) recon car crosses the bridge without incident.  Feeling safe, the Panzer IVB tries to cross.  The French had waited for a bigger target, and successfully blew the bridge with the Panzer IVB on it – destroying the Panzer IVB.  In the rear, another Panzer 35(t) observes multiple burning comrades.
7 Battle of France Sd.Kfz. 231 knocked out by SOMUA
The Sd.Kfz. 231 (6-rad) recons around a building and finds a SOMUA S35.  The SOMUA easily kills the German scout car, but not before taking some damage from Bonus Attack card artillery.
8 Battle of France river forded by Pzjager I and 38(t)
The battle heats up.  The surviving Panzer 35(t) fords the river as does a Panzerjager I with another Panzer IVB behind them.  The French activate the hidden Panhard, and the SOMUA S35 takes some more minor damage.
9 Battle of France SOMUA finally taken out by 88
The SOMUA S35 is hit by 88 fire and finally taken down by accumulated damage.  The black smoke indicates that the tank is knocked out, but the crew survived.  I use orange smoke to indicate that both crew and tank are destroyed.  
10 Battle of France Panhard dispatches 38(t)
Having taken damage from the SOMUA, the last Panzer 35(t) is knocked out by a daring attack by the charging Panhard 178.

At this point the game ended, and the French had a solid victory with the score being 158-112.  The French also got bonus points for no German being able to traverse the board.  The Germans made a couple of unsuccessful Luftwaffe attacks which hindered them as well as the early casualties.The scenario is pretty solid and the gamers made key decisions that affected the game.  I did run this scenario and three other games at TotalCon 34.  I will share the results of what happened at TotalCon 34 on a future post and things went differently!.

Thanks for looking!

German Armor for the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of France: Panzer 35(t), Panzer 38(t), Panzer IVB, and Panzer IVD Tanks; and Sd.Kfz. 231 (6-rad) Armored Cars

This post marks the last of my vehicle additions for the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of France in May-June 1940.  These German vehicles were completed in late January, but with my personal situation, naturally my posting and hobby activities were put on hold.  Time has passed now and I want to return to a certain degree of normalcy – of course that’s not the easiest thing to do.  But I’ll try – and now let’s catch up and get back to good old hobby stuff.

As readers of this blog know, I had needed to augment the depth and breadth of my 15 mm/1:100 scale armor (both sides) for my What a Tanker© Battle of France 1940 scenario.  I also wanted to develop some Bonus Attack cards for it as well (similar to what I did with my Normandy Breakout! scenario).  I had promised to get these projects covered on the blog and share some about games that I have run for them (at club days and the TotalCon convention).  Here, I will focus here uniquely on these German vehicles and the Bonus Attack Cards and post about the gaming events separately.

Below is my poster for the game that I use at convention-style events.

02222020 TOTALCON Battle of France 1940

Previously, I had posted and described several projects in support of building this scenario – here they are for reference:

Basically, prior to this project I had only 11 German vehicles for the scenario, and the mix was a bit unbalanced to say the least.  I had 4 Panzer IIC’s, 1 Panzer IIIE, 1 Panzerjäger I, 2 Panzer IVD’s, and 3 Sturmgeschutz A’s.  Now that I have 23 French vehicles, I needed to increase the size of the available German vehicles for the scenario.

Back in May-June 1940, Panzer I’s and Panzer II’s did form a large proportion of the German armored forces in May-June 1940.  As Panzer I’s have only machine guns, which are somewhat useless in a tank-on-tank game).  As I have 4 Panzer IIC’s in the inventory, I decided to augment the light tanks with Panzer 35(t)’s and Panzer 38(t)’s.  These were originally built for the Czechoslovakian Army, and the Wehrmacht happily incorporated these vehicles into their units – and continued building the both after the annexation.  I got two metal Panzer 35(t) models (#GFV28) from QRF in the UK, and two metal and resin Panzer 38(t) models (#GE022) from Battlefront.  Perhaps later on I might add a Panzer I, we’ll see.

For the medium tanks, I “assigned” (for game purposes) my two currently-painted Wargame Models in Ohio Panzer IVD’s into ausf A versions – and added B and D variants of the venerable Panzer IV with Zvezda models (SKU #ZD35 or #6151 for each box) from The Plastic Soldier Company.  PSC has a reasonable deal for a platoon of 5 so I grabbed those.  I already have one Panzer IIIE model for France 1940, and decided that was enough of those (for now anyways).

Lastly, similar to what I did with the French Panhard 178’s , I added 2 Sd.Kfz. 231 (6-rad) armored cars (#GE320) from Battlefront.  I know that the 8-wheeled versions were available and used in May 1940.  However, at the time the 6-wheel 231’s were being phased out in favor of the 8-wheeled versions – and I thought having the older ones would give a better feel to the scenario.  By building these models and converting the ones mentioned, I now have 23 vehicles available for both sides to choose.  I will go through a bit of a WIP with each type – as I did experiment a bit with contrast paints on them – to a bit of frustration which I will share.  I’ll also show the Bonus Attack Cards, some eye-candy shots, references, and list of paints for those interested.

General Assembly

The QRF Panzer 35(t) models were all metal, the Battlefront Panzer 38(t) and Sd.Kfz. 231 (6-rad) models were metal and resin, and the Zvezda Panzer IV’s were plastic.  I cleaned and prepped them all prior to assembly and painting, to include magnetizing the turrets.  Some green stuff reinforcement and repair was needed.  My overall goal was to have vehicles that were more grey and less dark than my previous German vehicles for 1940.  The dark colors were also historically correct – I just wanted a bit more variety in the collection that was also historically correct.

1 German armor for 1940 part two
The 11 models for this project in their packaging.
3 Czech armor assembled
The Panzer 38(t) models and the Panzer 35(t) models assembled.
7 All assembled for painting
All of the 11 models are here assembled.
8 All mounted for painting
I always prime and base coat the tank bottoms first – they are affixed to small plastic plates with poster tack.

The painting process was a bit different for me this time.  I basically did this sequence with all 11 vehicles.  I wanted to test out the contrast paints, so I decided to try the “Space Wolves Grey” contrast paint over Vallejo “German Panzer Grey” primer – and the chassis were nearly purple.

2 Panzer 35(t) with Space Wolves Grey contrast paint
My Panzer 35(t)  model looking a bit too purple for my tastes.

I then went back and dry brushed them with Vallejo “White” primer, then used “Apothecary White” contrast paint and dry brushed with a few more grays and added some shading (see the list at the end of this post).

3 Panzer 35(t) turrets after Apothecary White contrast paint
After redoing with a dry brush of white, added “Apothecary White” as seen with these turrets.ion
4 Panzer 35(t) completed turrets
I shaded these, and more dry brushing, followed by decals.  Here are some turrets looking better!
2 Panzer IVD needs weathering
Here is a Panzer IV chassis before weathering.

For weathering, I used Vallejo pigments – a combination/blend of two pigments on these with a makeup brush for dusting effect.

5 Panzer 35(t) in progress weathering
Weathering this Panzer 35(t)

Then I varnished the tanks with Vallejo Mecha Color “Matt Varnish”.  Now, let’s look at each type in brief.

Panzer 35(t)

These were originally built by Skoda.  The (t) stands for the German word for Czech, which is tschechisch.  The Germans had 244 of these after the annexation, and used them in both the invasion of Poland and of France.   Around 132 were involved in the Battle of France, and they served in the Wehrmacht through the invasion of the USSR until the summer of 1941.  By that time, there were no more spare parts being made, was performing badly in the cold, and it was badly obsolete.  Some were then converted to other uses, and some sold to Romania.

The Panzer 35(t) had a reasonably good (for 1940) 37 mm gun capable of penetrating 30 mm of armor.  It was a light tank, and had maximum frontal armor of 25 mm, with 15-16 mm on the side, 15-19 mm on the rear, and 8 mm on the top.  This allowed better speed and greater range than most French contemporaries, with a top speed of 21 mph and a range of 120 miles from its 120 hp 4-cylinder engine.  The chassis armor was riveted together.  It did have a radio.

Panzer 38(t)

The Panzer 38(t) was another Czech “acquisition” as it were.  It was designed and built by CKD.  Over the course of the war, the Germans had over 1,400 – of which only about a hundred were used in France.

The Panzer 38(t) had a better 37 mm gun than the Panzer 35(t).  That gun was capable of penetrating 36-59 mm of armor.  It also was a light tank, with a (in 1940) maximum frontal armor of 30 mm.  It also had much better speed and greater range than most French (and some German) contemporaries, with a top speed of 26 mph and a range of 160 miles from its 123.3 hp 6-cylinder engine.  The chassis armor was riveted together, and the tank had a radio.  The tank itself was used by the Germans until 1942, and the chassis was reused for many other vehicles, notably the Grille and the Hetzer, as well as being exported to Sweden (who also built them under license), Slovakia, Romania, and even Peru.  Peru also had acquired some from Czechoslovakia and used them in combat in South America versus Ecuador in 1941 in the Ecuadorian-Peruvian War as well as 50 years later against the Shining Path insurgents.

1 Panzer 38(t) turrets with decals

Panzer 38(t) turrets late in project

2 Panzer 38(t) chassis with decals
Panzer 38(t) chassis – I was happy with this shade of grey.

Sd.Kfz. 231 (6-rad)

Most modelers and WWII gamers know the Sd.Kfz. 231 8-wheeled version but the 6-wheeled (“6-rad”) version preceded it.  Over 900 were built from 1932-1937.  The Sd.Kfz. 231 (6-rad)  and the 8-wheeled versions were both known as Schwerer Panzerspähwagen (heavy armored reconnaissance vehicle).  The acronym Sd.Kfz. stood for Sonderkraftfahrzeug (special purpose vehicle)The Sd.Kfz. 231 had the same automatic 20 mm gun as the Panzer II, so it had some anti-tank capability (able to penetrate 40 mm at 100 meters and 23 mm at 500 meters).  Like the Panhard 178, it could be driven either forwards or backwards with redundant driver positions.  Armor was thin (8-15 mm) but it could get up to 53 mph.  They served in the Wehrmacht up until the early stages of the invasion of the USSR.

The models did have some QC issues – notably big pieces of resin were missing on fenders and on the rear spare tire.  I fixed these with green stuff.  These will serve the Germans as (of course) reconnaissance vehicles for my 1940 scenario.

Panzer IVB and Panzer IVD

The Panzer IV is iconic and was ubiquitous in WWII in Europe and North Africa.  My goal for the game scenario was to have A, B, and D models, all of which participated in the Battle of France.  The Germans made only 35 A’s, which had less armor (only 14.5 mm on the front!) than the B’s and D’s (30 mm on the front) and a less powerful engine (247 hp) making it only capable of 19 mph.  The B’s and D’s had a 296 hp engine, and more armor, and were faster (26 mph).  The Germans made 42 B models and 248 D models.  There was a C model, but that did not have a hull-mounted machine gun like the B’s and D’s, so I opted not to build these as C’s (140 C’s were made).  All had the short 75 mm gun.

I designated 3 of the Zvezda models as B’s and 2 as D’s.  In the game, they have the same stats – and are almost identical anyways.  I did use white numbers for the B’s and red numbers for the D’s.

1 Panzer IVD mounted for painting
Panzer IVD assembled and mounted for priming.

 

1 Panzer IVB after wash and decals
Panzer IV B chassis later on before weathering added.
3 Panzer IVD Done!
Panzer IVD completed.

Bonus Attack Cards

In my scenario, each side starts at 200 points and must use points to buy vehicles and other combat items.  I added Bonus Attack cards, which were optional 5-point purchases apiece for each side.  I allow reconnaissance vehicles to buy and have up to two at a time, and others one.  The caveat is that your vehicle must have a radio!  So the French FT-17, FCM 36, R35, and H35 tanks cannot get these cards.  Additionally, there are two bridges that the French player can choose to wire for demolition – at a cost of 20 points each.  The river does have fords, but obviously that slows the Germans down.  The French player can wire two, one, or no bridges for demolition.  Only the French players and the GM know what has been done, and I allow them to try to blow the bridges at any time.  The attempts may fail, or they may drop a German tank into the river.  Each crossing German vehicle and each failed attempt makes the demolition more difficult.  I also added “dummy explosion cards” (with an exploding dummy on it) so that the French player can keep the Germans unsure whether the bridges were wired for demolition or not.  The Germans get the Luftwaffe here – and the French Air Force does not show up.

You can see the cards below – the players buy these and get random results:

  • 104 “Bonus Attack Cards” built for What a Tanker© games
    • 50 German cards
      • 16 Infantry Assault cards
      • 6 37 mm anti-tank gun cards
      • 3 88 mm anti-tank gun cards
      • 7 Artillery HE Support cards
      • 10 Air Support cards
      • 3 Artillery Smoke Support Cards
      • 2 Radio problem cards
      • 2 Quick Repair cards
      • 1 Heinz Guderian Arrives! card
    • 54 French cards
      • 20 Infantry Assault cards
      • 7 25 mm anti-tank gun cards
      • 4 47 mm anti-tank gun cards
      • 10 Artillery HE Support cards
      • 4 Artillery Smoke Support Cards
      • 2 Radio problem cards
      • 2 Quick Repair cards
      • 1 Charles de Gaulle Arrives! card
French Deck, 1940
French Deck
German Deck, 1940
German Deck

And finally, a couple of group shots in front of an old Maginot Line fort:

1 German armor group shot frontal2 German armor group shot frontal top

I am repeating my reference section below for those interested.

References

Throughout this project I have used many of the books that I have as references – here are some I have used and strongly recommend.  I do not get paid by anyone to recommend these, but I am sharing the links if you want to get them.  I did study with BG Robert Doughty at West Point over 35 years ago – and he did give me my copy of the B.T. White book in 1984 – that I still have and used many times.  There are certainly other books, but these I recommend.  I will be using these in my next phase with my German tank additions.

For history of the conflict I recommend buying:

Doughty, Robert A. (1985). The Seeds of Disaster: the development of French Army Doctrine 1919-1939. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole books. (available at Amazon here)

Doughty, Robert A. (1990). The Breaking Point: Sedan and the Fall of France, 1940. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole books.  (available at Amazon here)

Horne, Alistair. (1969, 1990). To Lose a Battle: France 1940. London: Penguin books. (available at Amazon here)

For modelers and gamers interested in the vehicles’ look and history:

Forty, G. and Livesey, J. (2017). The World Encyclopedia of Tanks & Armoured Fighting Vehicles.  London: Lorenz Books. (available at Amazon here)

Jackson, R. (2009). Tanks and  Armored Fighting Vehicles Visual Encyclopedia in color.  London: Amber Books. (available at Amazon here)

Restayn, Jean. (2007). World War II Tank Encyclopedia in color 1939-1945.  Paris: HISTOIRE & COLLECTIONS. (available at Amazon here)

Smithsonian Enterprises. (2017). Tank: the Definitive Visual History of Armored Vehicles.  New York, NY: Penguin Random House. (available at Amazon here)

White, B.T. (1972). Tanks and other A.F.V.s of the Blitzkrieg Era 1939 to 1941.  Dorset: Blandford Press. (available at Amazon here)

Zaloga, S. (2014). French Tanks of World War II (1): Infantry and Battle Tanks. New York, NY: Osprey.  (available at Amazon here)

Zaloga, S. (2014). French Tanks of World War II (2): Cavalry Tanks and AFVs. New York, NY: Osprey.  (available at Amazon here)

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE USED ON THESE VEHICLES:

  1. Microscale Liquid Decal Film
  2. 1/8″ neodymium magnets
  3. Green stuff (kneadatite)
  4. Gorilla Glue
  5. Poster tack and plastic plates
  6. Vallejo “Surface Primer – German Panzer Grey”
  7. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  8. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  9. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Space Wolves Grey”
  10. Vallejo “Surface Primer – White Primer”
  11. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Apothecary White”
  12. Vallejo “German Grey”
  13. Vallejo “Neutral Grey”
  14. Battlefront “Dark Gunmetal”
  15. Battlefront “Oxide Red”
  16. Citadel “Typhus Corrosion”
  17. Citadel “Ryza Rust”
  18. Army Painter “Dark Tone” (shade)
  19. Vallejo Model Weathering “Dark Rust Wash”
  20. Vallejo Model Air “Gloss Varnish”
  21. Microscale Micro-Set
  22. Microscale Micro-Sol
  23. Appropriate decals from Battlefront
  24. Vallejo “Light Sienna” (pigment)
  25. Vallejo “Light Slate Grey” (pigment)
  26. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”

Thanks for looking – please let me know your thoughts and feedback!