In building a set of troops for the Spanish Conquest, I came across a couple of blisters of 25mm Ral Partha figures called “Aztec Arrow Knights”. These were in my lot of unpainted lead for the period, sculpted by R. Kerr, and dated from 1988. The blisters held 6 figures armed with huge feathered arrows – think javelins with fletching. As I thought that they were interesting potential elite troops with unique weapons, I decided to add one of the two blisters to my Aztec forces, keeping the other in reserve for future painting.
As I discussed previously, I had been doing research on the Aztecs. I looked for suitable color plates or guides to paint up this unit. To my surprise, there is a bit of mystery and possibly even controversy about Arrow Knights. History provides little evidence in the codices as to their existence – though there are clues here and there.
Possible Arrow knight on the right?
Is there a giant arrow here?
I suppose it’s not out of the question that an elite unit of Aztec warriors specializing in launching massively huge javelin-like arrows could have existed. Perhaps there was some confusion with the atlatl (ot-la-t) a spear-throwing device? Just because old Ral Partha made these does not mean that they did exist – but for the purposes of my games and my Aztec Army – they do now.
Of course, painting them would be up to me for choosing the colors. The only picture that I found was from a computer gaming site – and it did not match any of the plates. I did like the markings known as “hawk scratches”. I decided that I would give the unit a coloration similar to the cuahchic elites – that being a yellowish suit of tanned hide that would have been worn over their quilted-cotton armor ichcahuipilli (each-ca-we-pee-lee).
It was fun to break into this old blister from Ral Partha’s “1200 A.D.” line. The figures were all in the same pose, but I figured that I could orient their arrows in slightly different positions, use slightly different colors on each , and give different shields to each for aesthetics and ease of tabletop identification and playability. A familiar challenge was that the arrows were all lead – and vulnerable to bending and breaking. I also wanted them to have two big arrows – one to throw and one to use in melee.
The problem with doing this were twofold. First, I did not want to sculpt 6 little extra arrows – and second the little 25mm hands were too small to accommodate even the arrows provided. My solution was to use some steel wire pikes I had gotten from Iron Winds Metals during my Rooman War Party project. I cut the pikes to size and used super glue to affix them to the arrows. They would be the “second” arrow, albeit without fletching or another obsidian head. I think it worked – and you can be the judge.
Early flesh painting May 4th
Moving on to headdresses and other colors
Next, I’ll share some close up eye candy shots of each, a scale comparison, and some group shots.
Arrow Knight #1
Arrow Knight #2
Arrow Knight #3
Arrow Knight #4
Arrow Knight #5
Arrow Knight #6
I am also adding a new feature here. I want to be able to share related posts on the larger Aztec project with folks who have not seen all of the previous posts. Additionally, I need a way to help me keep track of my progress! Therefore, the list of links below will accomplish both for me.
Posts on Units for my 16th Century Spanish Conquest Supplement for Feudal Patrol™ – “Civilizations Collide”
As shown in my last post, I have started building forces of appropriate figures for tabletop wargames using the soon-to-be published Feudal Patrol™. These are Aztecs and other troops from the era of the Spanish Conquest in the 16th Century. This is a major project for which I eventually hope to have over 150 painted figures. I have a ways to go, as this project brings that total to a mere 18. Still, the journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step…
I acquired a large lot of Aztec figures on eBay probably 4 or 5 years ago. Most of them 25mm scale, and from Ral Partha dating from around 1988. In the lot were also two baggies of 3 Aztec Eagle Warriors (#25 AZ4) – ostensibly 25mm as shown on the Tin Soldier UK website. I was not familiar with Tin Soldier UK, but they have a pretty nice range of figures worth checking out. Of course, 28mm is the scale that I am going for – and sometimes 25mm can work for 28mm. While I was waiting for my order of new 28mm stuff to arrive (which I received this week), I decided to paint up some of the older figures and see if they could work with my 28mm figures visually. To my eyes, the Tin Soldier UK Eagle Warriors looked close enough to 28mm to work.
The Aztecs had two main elite unit types – the Jaguar Warriors, and the Eagle Warriors (sometimes referred to as the Eagle Knights). There were also the lesser-known Arrow Knights, which I will post about next time. To be an Eagle Warrior, one had to have captured up to 20 enemy for sacrifice or equivalent deeds of valor (well, in the eyes of Aztec society anyways). They were full-time professional warriors and along with the other elites were equivalent to nobility among the Aztecs.
Normally, Aztec Eagle Warriors would be armed with melee weapons, in particular the macuahuitl obsidian-edged club/sword. All of these 6 had the same pose and were armed with tepoztopilli (obsidian-bladed thrusting spears). They also had the weapons in a throwing versus a thrusting pose. Therefore, I decided to go through the 25mm Ral Partha Aztecs that I had and see if I could get any macuahuitl or cuauhololli (round-headed club) as extra weapons. The extra Ral Partha macuahuitl were way too small and bendable, but there were some cuauhololli that would work. I ended up using two of the cuauhololli and four of the tepoztopilli as weapons for the six. My plan was to orient each of their weapons slightly differently and also to have different shield patterns and different colors for authenticity and ease of tabletop play.
Now, as for the spaghetti-like tepoztopilli, they needed a solution as they were made from lead and were as floppy and vulnerable to bending as most leaden miniature spears are unfortunately, especially those from the 1980’s and earlier. The odd thing is that the model shown on the website indeed does have a macuahuitl instead of a tepoztopilli! My guess is that they redid the mold at some point as these model thrusting spears were too weak for use in gaming. In any case, I decided to try using a thin layer of Apoxie Sculpt on the shafts. Apoxie sculpt is easy to use and can be made more workable when used with wet fingers – and it gets hard as a rock when it cures in 24 hours. This process gave me much improved tepoztopilli, but still the underlying lead made them somewhat (though less) vulnerable to bend.
The models themselves were not too difficult to assemble. I did need to clean up the mold lines and the hands needed to be drilled out carefully to hold the weapons. I did pull out some of the molding rubber out of one model’s eyes, but overall I was happy with the quality of the castings. I definitely liked that the shields were not separate.
I made a unit plan as there were many ways to do the unit – and I wanted to have something to refer to along the way. In particular, one of my goals for this project was to give each Eagle Warrior a different shield design – and for that design to be historically correct. Over at Steve’s Balagan, I found his blog to be a wonderful resource for Aztec and other shields.
Most pictures that I have found on Eagle Warriors showed them in golden brown outfits – but some mention that there were possibly red, green, and blue ones as well. I decided to make three in golden brown, and then make the others in red, green, and blue. The accouterments and shields would also add to the differentiation on the tabletop. Unlike the novices, the pics that I saw of Eagle Warriors all had orange loincloths, so that feature was common here.
My next big challenge was painting designs on the shields. My handwriting is awful, and hand-drawing designs on shields has not been a strength for me – and these are tiny. I decided to let the engineer in me break out. I used an art template to trace a 9/32″ circle on a piece of paper, and then I cut that out. It proved useful in helping me to lightly sketch the designs on the shields in pencil – as guides for painting. I tried several designs that I saw on Steve’s Balagan blog.
I wanted to get these done for the weekend, and my wife helped fuel my push with a home-made pizza (that tasted even better than it looked!).
Below are a couple of WIP shots after I finished painting the shields – for me, this was a result that I was surprised to see.
Last month (March) was the first month in several years that I had not painted any miniatures at all. This happened because I was busy early in the month looking for a job, and then the pandemic hit with all that that entailed. I decided that I would take the time to honor a commitment made to my good buddy Buck Surdu (who attended West Point with me).
Buck has published many games, and as readers of this blog know, I am very fond of his Combat Patrol™ – WWII Skirmish card based system. If you take a look at his website, you will see many different (and very well done) free supplements that have been written for other periods and conflicts – check them out here. One limitation of Combat Patrol™ is that it does not adapt well to the periods before firepower became predominant in warfare – such as before the 17th Century. Buck has developed a new set of card-based rules for these earlier skirmish battles called Feudal Patrol™ – and they should be published this year I believe.
So back to my commitment – I agreed to help Buck by researching and writing one of the free supplements for the upcoming Feudal Patrol™. But which era?
When I returned to the hobby (back six years or so ago), I bought many miniatures that I found on eBay that were from the 1970’s to 1990’s. It was my way of catching up. One of the groupings I bought were Aztecs, so (without a fully developed concept – or an in-depth understanding of the history of the Conquest) I volunteered to write a supplement covering the Spanish Conquest of the Americas in the 16th Century – covering the Aztecs, the Maya, the Tlaxcalans, the Mixtecs/Zapotecs, the Inca, and of course the Conquistadores. The research (reading 4 books and other internet material) for this took me the better half of March, and writing the supplement (about 30 pages) took up the rest – so no painting in March for me. I have finished the draft and we’ll see where that goes – but so far it looks (to my biased eyes) pretty good.
The resources that I found were adequate I believe – as the authors are all subject matter experts. Besides, I just needed enough to design a gaming supplement – not pursue a doctorate. In any case, I now can start painting forces to use with the supplement and hopefully bring to club meetings and conventions.
I started with Aztec novice warriors. A major aspect of warfare in this period was the overriding need to take captives. The Aztecs would place the taking of captives at a higher premium than actually killing the enemy. Rank and prestige in the Aztec army (and Aztec society) were dependent on two things – the number and the quality of the enemy warriors one had captured. These captured were used for ritualized sacrifice or for making into slaves. The value of all captives was not equal – capturing a high-ranking member of a strong warrior tribe was better than a weaker one from a less-respected foe. Aztec troops were typically composed of a group of veteran warriors and an attached group of novices. The novices were usually (but not always) in a second rank, following the veterans. The veterans were supposed to be responsible for the novice’s training. In the game, I match up a group of novices to an equally-sized group of veterans (not elite units).
Novice warriors advance by capturing enemy warriors under the tutelage of the veterans. The first two blisters that I had were “Aztec Novice Warriors II” and came from Wargames Foundry. These are available in the US from Badger Games – here is a link to them.
The metal models cleaned up easily enough – but I discovered that there were a few lingering mold lines that I missed. Still, these would be a nice way to challenge my painting skills (and add to them) as I had not painted human flesh of any type in 28mm for several years – maybe these old 1970’s era Minifig neanderthals were the last similar types that I did. As these novices are mostly wearing only loincloths, it would be a lot of skin to paint.
The packs also came with many shields. Each blister pack of six contained 3 novices armed with slings, two armed with an obsidian-bladed wooden sword club called a macuahuitl (ma-kwa-wheat), and one with a a roundhead club called a cuauhololli (kwa-ho-lolly). One of the macuahuitl figures had a quilted cotton armor tunic called an ichcahuipilli (each-ca-we-pee-lee).
As a side note – part of the research into this era was the major challenge of pronunciation and spelling for Aztec terms!
I filed and cleaned the models, and mounted them on 1″ steel fender washers for painting. These were then mounted on specimen jars with poster tack for ease of painting.
By April 19th and 20th, I had gotten the models to where I could begin to choose which shields to use and affix. I did this with first Gorilla glue, and then with E6000 epoxy – allowing to harden overnight. At that point, I was able to use shading on the models and the shields – and flock the bases.
April 19th progress…
April 19th progress…
For flocking, I used Army Painter “Brown Battlefields”, followed by some pigments (see painting list below). I then airbrushed the models with varnish, and after that dried overnight, I applied random grass patches to the bases.
For better viewing, I will now share close up groupings of photos of each type of figure and some group shots as eye candy.
First, the slingers with cocked arms:
A blue-themed slinger w/cocked arm
A red-themed slinger w/cocked arm.
Both slingers from the side
Next, the slingers loading their slings:
Red-themed slinger loading
Blue-themed slinger loading
Rear view of these slingers
Next, the novice figures with shields and macuahuitl advancing.
Novice w/blue shield + macuahuitl advancing
Novice w/red shield + macuahuitl advancing
Both of these models, front
Both of these models, rear
Next, here are the two cuauhololli-armed novices.
Blue shield and cuauhololli
Red shield and cuauhololli
Both cuauhololli novices
The one type of figure with a macuahuitl , and a quilted cotton armor tunic called an ichcahuipilli.
Red-themed figure w/macuahuitl and ichcahuipilli.
Blue-themed figure w/macuahuitl and ichcahuipilli
Both figure w/macuahuitl and ichcahuipilli, side view.
Both figure w/macuahuitl and ichcahuipilli, back view.
The sixth type, a slinger with sling above his head:
Lastly, as an add-on bonus , I also redid seven Archive Power-Armored Archive Frinx infantry that I found on eBay a while back. I have a good number of Frinx and game with them often as shown in this blog – just search for “Frinx” on my blog and see what I mean!
I did not paint their original colors, but they were done well-enough with a dotted camouflage scheme, very different from my other brightly-painted Frinx. But as they were based such that I’d never get them off of the bases that they were on, I just touched up the worn-away paint, used some shading, varnished them, and improved the worn bases. I’ll use them as commando Frinx. For fun, here they are:
That’s it for now!
PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE USED ON THE AZTECS:
1/8″ x 1″ Everbilt Fender Washers
Poster tack and plastic plates
Vallejo “Surface Primer – White Primer”
Vallejo “Flow Improver”
Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
Vallejo Model Air “Weiss” (off-white)
Vallejo Model Color “Red”
Vallejo Model Color “Black Grey”
Vallejo Model Color “Sunny Skin Tone”
Citadel “Contrast Paint – Fyreslayer Flesh”
Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”
Citadel “Contrast Paint – Basilicanum Grey”
Citadel “Contrast Paint – Apothecary White”
Battlefront “Dark Leather”
Battlefront “Wool Brown”
Citadel “Dryad Bark”
Tamiya “Copper (XF-6)”
Tamiya “X20A Thinner”
Citadel Air “Evil Sunz Scarlet”
Deka Lack “Blau” (a survivor from 1987!)
Vallejo Mecha Color “Turquoise”
Vallejo Model Color “Glossy Black”
Citadel “Balor Brown”
Elmer’s PVA Glue
Army Painter “Brown Battlefields” (flocking)
Vallejo Model Air “Moon Yellow”
Citadel “Seraphim Sepia” (shade)
Vallejo “Dark Yellow Ochre” (pigment)
Vallejo “Burnt Umber” (pigment)
Americana “Desert Sand”
Citadel “Agrax Earthshade” (shade)
Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”
Army Painter “Grass Green” (flocking)
Thanks for looking – please let me know your thoughts and feedback!
Greetings from the Massachusetts lock down! I hope all of you are safe and that soon life will be returning back to normal for us all. If you have lost a loved one, a friend, or a job, or just been stressed out, my thoughts and prayers with all of you. This will eventually pass.
I have not been doing much on the blogging front except trying to keep up with others’ posts. At the beginning of April, the projections for death in the US were for 100,000 to 200,000 if we were lucky and did everything correctly in terms of mitigation. Frankly, that floored me and I went into a bit of a focus on the news, keeping up with my family (Mom and daughter/granddaughter). My Mom is on her own, and I worry about her. My daughter lives nearby and has taken walks with our 3 year-old granddaughter so we have gotten at least to see them. It kills us not to hug them both, but as my daughter works in a cancer radiation treatment clinic at a hospital in Worcester, we have painfully practiced “social distancing” during these brief but welcome visits. Of course there is communication via phone and Facetime, but it’s not the same.
The death toll has been mercifully less, but still very bad. Here in the US, as of this writing there have been over 48,000 US deaths, and approaching a million cases. In Massachusetts the surge/peak is coming up – and we have had 42,000 cases and nearly 2,000 deaths. I know that all of you are dealing with this and it’s horrible. I have some strong opinions on this, but I don’t want to get too political on my blog. My thoughts could be summarized by the article here.
My wife has been home on paid leave, but who know what will happen on this front. I have still been looking for a job, but with millions of Americans out of work and the understandable difficulties with interviewing – I have been staying home. I did fly to Virginia on March 9-10 for a face-to-face interview – which was an eerie experience. By the end of the week, everything was shutting down and we were in lockdown. And then the job did not come through.
Needless to say, tabletop wargaming is at a halt – and golf is impossible as all the courses are closed as nonessential.
I kept busy researching and working on a supplement for Buck Surdu’s upcoming game of Feudal Patrol™ – basically a new game similar to his Combat Patrol™ WWII card-based gaming system. It will cover the pike and shot era and earlier. My project was based on the Spanish Conquest of the 15th Century – so Aztecs, Maya, Inca, Tlaxcalans, Mixtec/Zapotecs, and of course Conquistadores. This has been on my “bucket list” – and I will share some more of that in future posts – but it did consume a lot of time (which I had to spare). I started painting Aztecs as well – but more on that later as well.
By the way, Buck redesigned his website – and it is an incredible free resource for unit organization and equipment for WWII. Here is an example.
Also, besides watching the news and the business channel, I watched TV, played cards (a rummy type game) with my wife, and did the grocery and pharmacy shopping. Thankfully I have a respirator that I use when I airbrush – so I wore that on these infrequent trips out of the house. It reminded me of my Army days with the old M17 gas mask.
I have a treadmill, and that helps with exercise too.
Earlier this month maenoferren22 at Bogenwald posted a challenge to share the view out the front window. I’ve enjoyed looking at others – so I thought I’d join in. It took a bit longer for me to get involved – as we are in early spring and it’s been cold and rainy. So. here’s some shots of my East Brookfield, MA home from inside and outside.
That’s it. Oh yeah, I do also listen to a couple of podcasts. Many of you know IRO (imperialrebelork). Along with his buddy Big Waz in Australia – he has The Fly on The Wall Podcast. He also just started a nice hobby podcast named, Imperial Rebel Ork podcast. I enjoy both – and TFOTW has been around a year now. Helps to get over the pandemic a little bit.
Here is my little promotion pic, with my Australian-descended friend, Caesar (who is 26 years old now).
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
For weathering, I used Vallejo pigments – a combination/blend of two pigments on these with a makeup brush for dusting effect.
Then I varnished the tanks with Vallejo Mecha Color “Matt Varnish”. Now, let’s look at each type in brief.
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.
Front of Panzer 35(t).
Panzer 35(t) right side.
Panzer 35(t) rear view.
Both Panzer 35(t) models.
Panzer 35(t) models (left side).
Both Panzer 35(t) models (rear view).
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.
Panzer 38(t) turrets late in project
Both Panzer 38(t) models, rear view.
Both Panzer 38(t) models, front.
Both Panzer 38(t) models, front left side.
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.
Poor molding on rear of cars
My repairs with green stuff
Repairs of car close up
Rear shot of Sd.Kfz. 231 (6-rad).
Frontal shot of Sd.Kfz. 231 (6-rad).
Sd.Kfz. 231 (6-rad) right sides.
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.
Rear view of the Panzer IVB’s.
Frontal View of the Panzer IVB’s.
Panzer IVB’s moving out.
Panzer IVD’s, rear view.
Side view of D models.
Frontal view, Panzer IVD’s.
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:
And finally, a couple of group shots in front of an old Maginot Line fort:
I am repeating my reference section below for those interested.
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:
Microscale Liquid Decal Film
1/8″ neodymium magnets
Green stuff (kneadatite)
Poster tack and plastic plates
Vallejo “Surface Primer – German Panzer Grey”
Vallejo “Flow Improver”
Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
Citadel “Contrast Paint – Space Wolves Grey”
Vallejo “Surface Primer – White Primer”
Citadel “Contrast Paint – Apothecary White”
Vallejo “German Grey”
Vallejo “Neutral Grey”
Battlefront “Dark Gunmetal”
Battlefront “Oxide Red”
Citadel “Typhus Corrosion”
Citadel “Ryza Rust”
Army Painter “Dark Tone” (shade)
Vallejo Model Weathering “Dark Rust Wash”
Vallejo Model Air “Gloss Varnish”
Appropriate decals from Battlefront
Vallejo “Light Sienna” (pigment)
Vallejo “Light Slate Grey” (pigment)
Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”
Thanks for looking – please let me know your thoughts and feedback!