A few months ago I picked up a copy of the I Ain’t Been Shot Mum rules from Too Fat Lardies as I think I am addicted to reading wargames rules. I have read other people say the same thing. I just love reading rules even I don’t end up playing them. Actually I have copies of Rapid Fire and Nuts that I am yet to have a look at. Its a like a wargames equivalent of heroin. Always keep a supply stashed away somewhere.
Anyway I did play a couple of games with IABSM recently and thought I would blog my opinions on the system.
While some of the ideas and concepts in the rules are good I found that the total random nature of the card activation left me feeling helpless and my decisions on the battlefield became irrelevant. You cannot plan a strategy and the side that ends up pulling out his cards first or more often is going to win. I think there is enough luck and random chance in any rule set that uses dice to calculate results for most actions. You don’t need another totally random procedure in the mix as it just becomes a game of chance. As much as I tried to enjoy the Big Man concept of IABSM it also did not really have much impact on the proceedings as half the time your big men never got activated at the right time. I think having more leaders should give your force more chance of being activated when you want them. I guess I am after more control over my game than the IABSM rules allow.
In one game my squadron of tanks activation card came up just before one tea break card and then came up again almost immediately in the new turn. This leads to some units being able to move and attack unrealistically against enemy units in great defensive positions. Movement distances are resolved by a dice roll so I would say that covers the random nature of war enough. Move those troops over there, but if they are not that keen they may not move as quickly or as far as you want them too. In other instances you can try and coordinate artillery fire one turn but then the next turn your support card or Forward Observer card does not get activated. Its just frustrating and not very real. Especially when a dice throw is already factored into the process. Same with smoke, do you reduce smoke every time a tea break card is drawn? Why cant artillery keep firing smoke once they start even if their card doesn’t come up. Anyway I really don’t like the card activation system its like playing chess with your opponent getting to move three pieces in a row……….
On the positive side of things I did like the way in which the rules handle shock, which in turn also ends up being morale. The more shock you take the less useful you are and a side can quickly fold. The close combat and firing rules are also good and felt realistic in their outcomes. I also liked the very thorough extra bits you can buy from Too Fat Lardies that detail all the different forces and their organisation.
So I guess overall that IABSM is not for me. I do like most of the rules except for the card drawing activation. I think if I just changed it to an alternative IGO UGO format the rules would play out a whole lot better. Those Big Men would have a much better influence on how the game played out and strategies and plans could actually have a chance of success. I like the way Squad Leader uses its leaders and I think the Big Man idea has a chance of working like that.
So I will return to the Combat HQ rules for my next game. This has an excellent activation system that finds a balance between luck and leadership and gives you enough scope to make a plan and hope your men do their best! Next blog will be a bit of a battle report from Normandy somewhere.
I have continued building up my British forces this week finishing off another troop of Cromwell tanks. In 1/72 scale plastic the Cromwell is not well supplied. You can build an Airfix one in 1/76 scale, but that’s going to be too small for me. Armourfast make some very simple but very cheap kits ($10 for two), but if you want something with a bit more detail the only option is the Revell Kit. And what a great little kit this is. The best value i found for these was from Hobby Easy in Hong Kong for $16-17 a kit. So significantly more expensive than the Armourfast kits but much more of a challenge and the end result is worth it.
I bought two of them to make up two thirds of my next Cromwell troop. They are great models, Revell kits seem to be consistently good. Detail is fine and the kit is a challenge. Tracks are excellent link and length and a huge improvement over the Armourfast kit. I particularly like the headlight guards on the front of the tank. If you need some Cromwells for your British army in Normandy you really need to go and pick up some of these awesome Revell kits.
The third Cromwell in my troop is in fact an Armourfast kit i had lying around plus the camouflage hessian kit from Black Dog. This is a resin extra with a camouflaged turret, camo netting for the front and stowage for the back. Rather than waste this on a fine Revell kit i thought i would use it with the much cheaper and less detailed Armourfast one. I had to hollow out the lower hull so the resin turret would fit. Also i had to pad out the front camo netting with my own concoction of bandage and tea leaves. Which was the same recipe i used for my camo nets on the stowage at the back of the other two tanks. The Armourfast Cromwell is slightly wider and taller than the Revell Kits but not enough that makes them incompatible. Oh one thing about this Black Dog turret is that they put the turret MG on the wrong side. So i had to switcheroo the main gun and the MG so it matched all my other Cromwells.
Other stowage is from all sorts of places including Value Gear and Sgts Mess. The Revell decals are excellent. You have to paint in white the little circle in the rooftop Allied star. You also get the option for the hedge cutters at the front of the tank. I read somewhere that Cromwells didn’t actually use these, but who cares i think they look cool. I will be adding some AB Figures tank crew, who are in the painting queue, in due course.
I had a lot of fun with these kits. If you need Cromwells get some Revells!
Another great little purchase i found at Book Depository for a crazy price delivered to my door step! Books in Australia are little on the pricey side so i am amazed at the low cost of on line books that are shipped for free to the Southern hemisphere. I think most of the time i enjoy the building, modelling and painting parts of our hobby more than any of the playing. But then i guess some of the time my opinion changes. This book definitely inspires me in the building and modelling section, and will do the same for you too.
Alex Clark is a very talented and skillful model maker and he does his best in the book to pass some of his knowledge onto the rest of us to help us improve and learn in our own missions, whatever they may be. The first thing that caught my eye is the awesome number of brilliant models illustrated throughout the book. There are also many excellent photos detailing all the tips and tricks that Alex writes about. Aimed totally at modellers in 1/72 or 20mm scale this was perfect for me. Everything is covered from building, converting, and detailing all the way through to painting, weathering, finishing and basing. So whether you are making models for wargaming, display or just for fun there will be something in here for you. Definitely inspiring stuff and a volume that you will go back to again and again. Some of Alex’s finished models are so good you will be surprised they are not bigger than 1/72 scale. I would highly recommend anyone with an interest in World War Two or later vehicles to pick a copy up!
I finished another squad of the fantastic AB Figures British Infantry. I get these from Eureka Miniatures in Melbourne and what fine figures they are. Easily my favourite metal World War Two range out there. They have a wide selection which covers infantry, support, artillery and tank crews. Everything you could possibly need. The sculpting and detail are just amazing. It makes them very easy and a great pleasure to paint.
I have two more squads of these guys to paint up. Plus some other British i bought from CP Models and SHQ miniatures. Slowly phasing out my plastic squads as i am leaning towards metal being a better choice for painting and wargaming. Will do a comparison on those figures when i get to painting them up.
The Colonel has been on the road, traveling overseas the past few weeks, and only just returned to blog land. I had been working on some country roads as an alternative to my tarmac versions, and this week i finally got them finished. No Normandy battlefield would be complete without some good looking dirt roads.
Roads are one of the more simple terrain pieces to make, so i am not sure why anyone would buy any commercially made, expensive items, when you can make good looking roads for next to nothing. I am planning on playing a scenario from the “I Aint Been Shot Mum” rules so made enough roads for the map in the rulebook.
Its a very simple process. I drew my roads onto a sheet of 3mm MDF and then cut them out using a stanley knife and a handsaw. I made sure every horizontal cut was 8cm wide so all the road sections would fit together. I tried to avoid any straight lines as nothing is ever straight. Then a quick sand of all the rough edges and we are ready to decorate. I used a mix of PVA glue and a paint thickening medium to cover the road surface, and then a decent sprinkling of fine and coarse sand and some grit all mixed up. This gives the road a random texture. When this was dry i did add another round of the gritty mix down the middle of the roads as that is where the bigger stones etc could settle. The sand colours are pretty good but i did give them all a quick spray with a cream colour which blended everything together. The finishing touch was two different flocks along the edge and some random tufts. Check them out, you will see them in an after action report i plan on doing soon!