EXCERPT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)

"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."

-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Published Portable Wargame Pt 4a: The Set Up.

The mid20th Century portion of the Portable Wargame takes a stab at the nearly impossible task of creating a simple wargame covering a period of wide technological and tactical change. Inevitably there are compromises that must be made and just as inevitable that different wargamers will have different opinions on what is essential to capture the flavour of any given sub-period. Luckily the rules are quite responsive to  tweaks that do not run too counter to the spirit.

I wanted to do something that involved tanks but no longer have my old WWII armies. Micro-armour, 10mm, 1/72nd and 54mm forces, all gone, but I do have my 1/72nd fictional 1950's troops. I wanted something a bit bigger and more complex than the last test game so I decided to base a scenario loosely on CS Grant's Hasty Blocking Position scenario from Programmed Scenarios.
The main Naryatrian column rolls onto the table, 76mm Shermans and the motorised Rhino Brigade leading the way as Roscian reinforcements rush to cut them off at the crossroad.
There is one issue with the mid 20th Century rules that I have trouble getting over and that is Bob's decision to have  just two classes of tank: light and everyone else and only a difference in range between light tank guns and tanks. There are campaigns during WWII when the  opposing sides' armoured and anti-tank forces were well matched and fit easily into the given categories but there were also some campaigns where the opposing armour was very mismatched or where there was a great range in capabilities of antitank and tank weapons. One need only think of the panic in 1940 when an attack by Matilda  tanks could not be stopped by 37mm antitank guns and 88mm antiaircraft guns had to be pressed into service, or of the adage in Normandy that it took three Shermans to take out a Tiger.

I'm not a rivet counter and I'm not interested in minute differences in armour and armament but I want to include that tactical challenge of how to deal with a serious imbalance of capabilities.

The Roscian forces are equipped primarily with British and American tanks, Centurions, Pershings and Shermans (though apparently, based on photographic evidence,  the Naryatrians are now operating Shermans as well). The Naryatrians usually field a mix of T34/85's and T55's.  It goes against the grain to consider Shermans and Centurions as equal but my only options were to call the Shermans and T34's "light" tanks or bring in a house rule. I was initially going to use the roster system so thought about making the heavier tanks Elite with an extra hit point but that would just mean that other modern tanks would have just as much trouble taking out an opposing modern tank as would an obsolete WW2 tank. I eventually decided to arm the obsolete tanks with the same range 3 gun as used by light tanks. This meant that the modern tanks had a 1 area range superiority but once in range of each other, equal combat ability. Any other house rule would have to wait for a future game.

Roscian Centurions roll on. The tan vehicles ahead of them belong to a Naryatrian recce squadron.
 The scenario is "inspired by" rather than an accurate translation of Grant's scenario. In this case there is a road running towards a pass in some rocky hills with a T junction, a village and some scattered groves of trees. A Naryatrian surprise attack has broken through and a column of light armour and infantry is rushing to secure the pass. The village is held by local defence troops while  a column of regular army troops rush to establish a defensive position in the pass before the Naryatrians arrive.

The table grid was 10x14 squares.

The Roscian forces were composed of :
Local Defence: 2 units infantry
Column: 1 Armoured Car
1 Saladin armoured transports with MG carrying a unit of Elite infantry
2 tanks
1 mortar
3 infantry
1 HQ

The Naryatrian force was comprised of

1 armoured car
2 non-armoured cars (a portee recoilless rifle and truck mounted HMG. These aren't in the rules so I treated them like armoured cars except that they are vulnerable to infantry and MG fire and the HMG  can not kill tanks when shooting.)
4 obsolete (light) tanks
4 trucks
6 infantry
1 mortar
1 heavy artillery.
1 HQ

The last of the Roscian local defence troops try to get close enough to use their bazooka on the armoured car.
That's it for tonight. More tomorrow.


  1. Great stuff. Are those converted ESCI Muslim warriors?

    1. Yes sir. May the Mallows never meet up with hillsmen with bazookas and bren guns!

  2. Hi Ross,

    Love that shot of the Centurions rolling into town! Especially with a glimpse of your great collection in the back ground! Ah, the mighty Centurion!

    1. They are the only bit of my wargaming kit that was still in service with the Canadian Forces when I was.