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The Tide at Sunrise A History of The Russo-Japanese War   By Denis and Peggy Warner  The Russo-Japanese war has ...

The Book of The Week The Book of The Week

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!



A History of The Russo-Japanese War 

 By

Denis and Peggy Warner




 The Russo-Japanese war has always fascinated me. I have read everything I could about it, that has been written in English. The land war has so many what if moments on the Russian side. As far as the naval war, the funeral procession around most of the world by 'The Second Pacific' squadron is mesmerizing. The fact that this is a rehearsal for WWI just makes it that much more interesting. Machine guns, search lights, and modern firepower should have alerted the major powers what was in store for them.

 I first bought this book when I was a teenager, and now I am on my second aging copy. It just has everything about the war, and also goes into all of the different personalities. This is a picture of General Nogi, who lost two sons in the war.




 I reread it or bits of it on a yearly basis. Funny thing though, I have never looked up any other books that the authors have written. Maybe this book is so good that I think nothing else the authors could do would match up to it. There are more than a few books on the Russo-Japanese War, but when I am asked "Which book should I read on this war?". The answer is always the same, this book.

Stalin's Favorite The Combat history of the 2nd Guards tank Army from Kursk to Berlin by Igor Nebolsin Translated by ...

Stalin's Favorite The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army from Kursk to Berlin Volume 2 Stalin's Favorite The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army from Kursk to Berlin Volume 2

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!



by

Igor Nebolsin

Translated by






 Stalin's favorite; at one time it would have meant honor. In this day and age, the phrase might be met with a bit of revulsion.

 This is the second volume of a masterful work on the history of the 2nd Guards Tank Army. In this volume we see its history from the battles for Lublin,Warsaw, and finally the capture of Berlin. After the war, it was stationed in East Germany and was actually disbanded in 1997. In 2001 it was reactivated. More than 103,000 of it's troops were decorated with medals and 221 of them were named Heroes of the Soviet Union. After the tank armies success in the Berlin battles is when it became 'Stalin's favorite'. The 2nd Guards Tank Army would have been in the thick of the Battle for Germany had WWIII broken out.

 This is a monumental work that is filled to the brim with combat and after-combat photos, but also contains photos of all of the separate unit commanders that made up the 2nd Guards Tank Army. There are sixteen pages of colored maps of the tank army's various battlefields. The pictures also show you the different lend-lease tanks that were in action with the Soviets, especially Shermans. The author not only shows us its history, but also adds his own conclusions to the write ups of its different combat actions. One of the highlights is the remarks of General Bogdanov's thoughts for the correct order of battle for a tank army, and an appreciation of the correct use of tank armies in combat. For each operation, the author not only gives us the order of battle for the 2nd Guards Tank Army down to the individual tanks, but also the order of battle for their enemies. There are also some remarks from German officers who had to face the 2nd Guards Tank Army. 


General, later Marshal Bogdanov


 The book is separated into three parts. The first 412 pages are dedicated to its use and actions up until the end of WWII. Next there is next an 'afterword' section that details its history for the next fifty years, and even discusses veterans' reunions. After that comes almost fifty pages of appendices.

 For a complete history of a Soviet tank army in WWII, look no further. This is a wargamer and statistician's gold mine for information. You even get a Soviet appreciation of the vaunted German panzerfaust, and its effectiveness. Thank you once again Helion & Company, and Casemate Publishers for bringing us another history home run. 


Robert

Autheor: Igor Nebolsin
Translator: Stuart Britton
Publisher: Helion&Company
Distributor: Casemate Publishers 




I love board games and tabletop wargames, the problem is finding someone else who shares an interest in the hobby, and then finding the t...

Tank on Tank (Digital) Review Tank on Tank (Digital) Review

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!




I love board games and tabletop wargames, the problem is finding someone else who shares an interest in the hobby, and then finding the time to play against them. My wife is my only regular gaming partner, but, understandably, her tastes in theme are a bit more limited than mine. Tactical wargaming just isn’t her thing. Or on the flip side, it might be exactly her thing and bring out her extremely competitive side, getting me in trouble if my Sherman scored a lucky hit on her Tiger. Either way, it’s just not a good fit. That’s why I’m always excited when I hear about a good wargame going digital, now I too can get in on the fun. 





Tank on Tank, from Lock ‘n Load Publishing, is the latest such title to come to my attention. I had heard about the tabletop version several times in the past, and found it a tempting purchase. By all accounts it was a very accessible wargame with a limited scope, but a large fun factor. With the arrival of the digital version, I can play any time against the AI or go online to find a human opponent.



The game features a long list of scenarios depicting armor and infantry fighting across the battlefields of Europe. The “full” game bundle includes both East and West front action, but you can purchase just one front if you prefer. The units take the form of counters representing infantry, AT Guns, vehicles, and, of course, a wide array of tanks. These units move around relatively small hex-based maps trying to destroy each other and control objective locations. The scale is at a sort of abstract tactical level. It isn’t exactly clear how many units a counter represents, but it doesn’t really matter. All you need to know is that units have movement, range, and defense values, be aware of a couple twists for using them efficiently, understand how each turn works, all of which can be learned via a five minute read through the in-game manual, and you are good to go. That said, there is an intriguing amount of depth to how you use your units and their limited actions each turn.

The limited actions each turn is really where the game forces some hard decisions on you, since you often get extra activations, in addition to the default two, but sometimes you don’t. You have to take a moment to consider what your highest priority is, since you might only be able to do one effective movement/attack on that turn. Grouping your units around HQ’s must be a part of your plans, since this lets you activate several units at once. On the flip side, concentrating your units together reduces your overall operational flexibility. Scenarios always have a limited number of turns, and multiple objectives, so when on the offensive you often need to cover a lot of ground in a hurry.


Combat results in the game are calculated by rolling two six-sided dice, adding or subtracting some modifiers, and then comparing to the target’s defense value. Counters are either undamaged or completely destroyed by the result, as there are no “steps” to be found here. This can result in some very wild swings in luck at times. You might attack with four units at once and fail to knock out that pesky AT Gun, but then on your next turn you take a shot at it with a single counter and destroy it. One of my early battles was particularly frustrating, as I watched a lone enemy infantry unit knock out three of my tank counters, one after the other. Of course, it was my rookie leadership that left those tanks vulnerable to attack in the first place.

One must approach this game with the proper mindset to get the most enjoyable result. This is not a game attempting to accurately depict WW2 combined arms warfare, this is a game that wants you to push some counter around a board and watch them blow each other up. Which isn’t to say that there is no strategy involved, since there are plenty of things you can do to increase your chances of winning. Just don’t go in looking for a game where careful positioning and realistic tactics will always win the day, since the dice might not be on your side that battle. If you take the game for what it is, you can have plenty of fun quickly playing a scenario or two or three, and you will find that the luck factor evens out over time.

Replaying scenarios is encouraged by the individual high score charts for each one. Victory is determined by which side scores the most points, earned by controlling objectives and destroying enemy units. More than once I found myself immediately restarting a scenario that I just won, simply to see if I could win by a greater margin. This also reinforces the idea that this game is meant to be simple and fun. You can blaze through a scenario, making some mistakes, and then play it again and do better, all in one lunch sized gaming session. This makes Tank on Tank an ideal game for wargamers like me who usually have small windows for gaming each day. I can hop in, turn some tanks into smoldering wrecks, then get back to real life. I kept track of time while playing several scenarios in a row, and found that many could easily be played in less than ten minutes.

Graphics and sound in Tank on Tank are relatively simple, but nicely done considering the transition from physical to digital. Tank counters throw up dust trails as their engines rev and the counter moves about, each attack features a shell being lobbed through the air and exploding, and air attacks are visualized by a fighter buzzing across the screen. There are snowflakes that fall on “snow” turns, a condition which also has important effects on the gameplay. The sound effects are all nicely done, with music that is pleasant and never distracting. The UI is clear and readily displays all of the information you need to play the game, with big buttons that are satisfying to click on, especially the fire button!

The AI will give you a good fight in pretty much every scenario. Early on I found that it bested me repeatedly, but once I nailed down the game mechanics the battles tended to be close run wins more often than not. I actually watched what the AI did at times to figure out how best to play the game as I was learning the ropes. The relatively simple structure of the scenarios and combat mechanics means that if the AI does make a major mistake, it won’t hamper your fun at all.




The game also features a multiplayer mode, where one can play out many of the same scenarios against a real live opponent. Unfortunately, I was never able to find a public match, despite waiting for an opponent to join my game for 30+ minutes as I wrote this review. It would be nice if there was some kind of indicator showing if anyone else was even in the multiplayer lobby. I can only assume the game would be great fun to play online, especially with friends.

A recent patch added the ability to create your own scenarios and campaigns, if you digest everything the game has and want some additional variety. However, doing so will require an extra bit of dedication, since units and their initial positioning must be done by writing some lines of “code” in notepad. Nothing too difficult really, but don’t expect to just click the map in the game and add units. Perhaps that kind of functionality will be added in later. It does not seem that you can create or modify the actual maps in the game. It would be nice if you could do so, since there are only a limited number of maps available, and many are simple variations of just a few unique maps. I suppose these are the same maps available in the physical version of the game, but it seems a waste to not take advantage of going digital by offering a wider selection, or letting players create their own.

Whether this game is worth your gaming dollars depends on what you are wanting it to be. For $40, one can get much meatier wargaming fare, but maybe meaty isn’t what you are looking for. If you are seeking a well polished game that lets you load it up and get into the action in a matter of mere seconds, then this could very well be worth the price. You can get your wargaming fix in fifteen minutes or less, no muss, no fuss. However, if you are averse to random rolls of the dice winning or losing a battle, steer clear. You will have the occasional match where absolutely nothing goes your way, despite making all the right decisions. This is a game that is meant to be quick, simple, and fun, and it succeeds in checking all of those boxes. I see myself playing bite sized bursts of this game for a long time. The icon is always there on the edge of my PC desktop, taunting me to go back for one more round.





- Joe Beard


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Tank on Tank for Windows (Mac version in the works) is available directly from LnL Publishing at http://store.lnlpublishing.com/

Just updated the WINGNUTS Sopwith Triplane build by Mike Norris over in the model making section. CLICK TO ARTICLE

Sopwith Build Updated Sopwith Build Updated

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Just updated the WINGNUTS Sopwith Triplane build by Mike Norris over in the model making section.

http://www.awargamersneedfulthings.co.uk/2016/07/sandbaggers-wingnuts-build.html

CLICK TO ARTICLE

Another fine line up from Thomas Gunn               It's been awhile since we reviewed some of Thomas Gunns finest,...

New Thomas Gunn Soldiers on Parade! Including at least one very famous face! New Thomas Gunn Soldiers on Parade! Including at least one very famous face!

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

Another fine line up from Thomas Gunn

 
 
 


 
 
 It's been awhile since we reviewed some of Thomas Gunns finest, the reason being that they've been doing so well and have been so busy that they just haven't had time to send me anything to review, until now. If you check their website this can hardly seem like a surprise. All the soldiers they release are excellent but over the last few months they have been excelling themselves! The recent WWI pilots are absolutely amazing, you must go check them out and grab yourself one or two...oh what the heck buy them all!!
 
 
 
 
 First in line is GB002 Scots Guard Marching. This is the second WWII Scots Guard on parade release, the previous miniature GB001 was a Scots Guard standing sentry. Both miniatures are in battle dress wearing No1 dress peaked cap. The Scots Guards is one of Great Britain's famous historical regiments dating back to 1642 formed under the reign of Charles 1st to serve in Ireland and were originally known as Marquis of Argyll's Loyal Regiment. They served with honours in the Great War and during WWII were based in North Africa, Italy and France.
 
 
 This soldier is marching on parade and as usual for Thomas Gunn is limited to 100, though if demand is there they will produce more:). The sculpt is faultless and the paint work absolutely perfect. Take a close look at the base. You can even see tufts of grass poking up:) The sort of detail I've come to expect from Thomas Gunn. I've yet to see a miniature that doesn't ooze quality. I'm so happy they have been so busy as they deserve it when time and time again they release such fantastic soldiers as this Scots Guard who is marching in front of me.


 
 As you can see in the picture above it looks amazing when you have a few of them all marching in line. Thomas Gunn have stated more Scots Guards on parade will be released during 2017 and I for one can't wait.

 Limited to 100 he retails at £32. Another Thomas Gunn bargain.

Editors note: Check out the superb book which follows both battalions of the Scots Guards throughout WWI. CLICK HERE

 
 Next we go back in time to our WWI release that's up for review. Last review we met some historical figures from WWI. We met Ben Butler, a footballer who served and died in the War, plus a famous war artist Muirhead Bone. This time we meet someone whose name I'm sure is known by all our readers. Probably (along side Wilfred Owen) the most famous Poet to come out of WWI, Siegfried Sassoon.
 
 What can I say about Sassoon that you don't already know? In the UK anyway there probably isn't a single person leaving school who hasn't studied Sassoon, not in History lessons but in English Literature were his war poems are, and most likely always will be, part of the curriculum. Sassoon and Wilfred Owen I'd say are the most well known poets here in Blighty. Sassoon at first actually enjoyed the War and was a first rate Officer, loved by his men. He won the Military Cross and was also recommended for the Victoria Cross. However the futility of it all and the horror of the trenches became apparent and he threw his Military Cross into the sea. He went on to write "A Soldiers Declaration" which was read out in parliament. This anti war rhetoric didn't go down well with the powers that be and he refused to go back to the trenches, so he was sent to a psychiatric hospital in Scotland, the Craiglockhart War Hospital run by Dr Rivers,  as a shell shock case, this they said was the reason for his behaviour. Whist there he met Wilfred Owen. Another close friend of his was the author of the WWI memoir 'Goodbye to all That' Robert Graves. It was Graves who managed to stop Sassoon going to military prison and instead being sent to the hospital. It was also Graves, along with his own conscious regarding leaving his men out in France, which made him stand down and go back to France. Not long after he returned he was shot in the head by accident by a British soldier and sent home again. After the war he wrote the excellent 'Memoirs of an Infantry Officer',  a fictional account of his War experience. He served with Robert Graves in the Royal Welch Fusiliers. He is not only mentioned in Robert Graves book but also in the superb, must read, 'The War the Infantry Knew' by J Dunn, Capt Dunn was the medical officer for the 2nd Royal Welch Fusilier Battalion. Two other books written by serving soldiers in the Royal Welch are the superb 'Old Soldiers Never Die' by F Richardson (unusually for a Great War memoir Frank was a private) and 'Nothing of Importance' by B Adams. In recent years Pat Barker wrote the excellent Regeneration trilogy which focused on Dr Rivers and Sassoon and Owen are in the book as is their meeting in hospital, though obviously this is a fictional account. A film Regeneration was also made which I recommend.
 
 
 GW072A The Poet.  The sculpt of Sassoon has him sitting on a wooden crate with pen and notepad in hand. I'll leave it up to you to decide on what he is writing, could it be the "A Soldiers Declaration" or is he penning another of his timeless classic poems, or maybe something more war like, like a trench raid plan (as he enjoyed those). The sculpt is first class. His posture is natural and easy on the eye. As standard for Thomas Gunn I can't fault the paintwork.

 He is limited to 100 and retails at £32. Now who wouldn't want a Sassoon miniature? I'm pretty certain these will sell fast!


 

 
 
 Now we jump forward again to WWII. However we are sticking with an historical figure. This time we have a famous German Ace Major Bruno Meyer.
 
 LUFT014 Major Bruno Meyer.
 
 Bruno Meyer was one of WWII top rated pilots. With over 500 combat missions and around 50 tanks destroyed you can see why. To fly so many missions as a ground pounder is something to be marvelled at, coupled with is superb kill tally he can stand proud with the likes of Rudel and 'Bubi' Hartmann. Flying both the FW190 and the HS129 he would have been a total menace to any Russian tank commander who was aware he was flying in their vicinity. He was born in Haiti and joined the party in 1933. On 21st August 1942 he was awarded the Knights Cross. His last command was with 1/SG 104 flying both FW190 F & G and JU 87 D & G.
 
 Here he is kneeling down taking a photograph, possibly of his plane or maybe his squadron members. His posture is very well sculptured and looks natural. The paintwork is faultless. Again note the blades of grass poking up around his boots! He also has a cup or most likely  ersatz coffee as well as a jerry can (no doubt has a similar taste to his coffee!). I love this miniature. The idea of him taking a photograph was pure genius, as it works perfectly. Thomas Gunn have announced they will be releasing two planes that would go with Bruno, a 75mm long cannon HS129 and the shorter 37mm cannon version.
 
 He is limited to 100 and retails at £32. Like Sassoon I'd grab him whilst he is still around.
 
 
 RS042B 8cm Mortar with Crew (Early War). The last miniature for review this time is a two figure set, and one you may well recognise. Click here and then scroll down and you'll come across this same sculpt. However that time they were wearing Australian Jungle fatigues, as they were fighting the Japanese, in the jungles of the Pacific. This time however, they are still Australian soldiers, but are fighting in the deserts of Africa, against Rommel's infamous Afrika Korps! As you can see they create an excellent little diorama all on their own. Their postures are dynamic and really capture the intensity of the moment. Just like the jungle set the paintwork is absolutely perfect. Typical Thomas Gunn quality.
 
 Again limited to just 100 this two figure set retails at £75. A bargain.
 
 Now I leave you with a couple of pics of Thomas Gunns recent WW1 pilots. WOW! they look fantastic.
 
 
 
 Until the next time...when I'll showcase some more of Thomas Gunns jaw dropping miniatures...bye!
 

READY FOR INSPECTION!   It's been to quiet in these parts for my liking so it's with great pleasure I get to review three new...

Three United Bricks MiniFigs reviewed Three United Bricks MiniFigs reviewed

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

READY FOR INSPECTION!

 
It's been to quiet in these parts for my liking so it's with great pleasure I get to review three new United Bricks MiniFigs kindly sent to us for closer inspection!
 
We have a mixed little lot standing to attention on AWNT's specially built parade ground. I've just been informed there was nearly fisty cuffs between our little heroes today due to communication problems. Well what do you expect when you have an American a Scot and a German! I do believe it was over todays date, read on and you'll understand why there maybe some disagreement over it. Coupled with the obvious language and accent issues I'm not sure why I didn't see this happening. So I've called in two interpreters an American who can speak and a  German who can speak English. The Scot can actually speak German and understand American but no one can understand him! I do know he didn't take kindly to being called English by the German and a Scotch by the American! All very complicated! Anyway onto business!
 
 
First in line and looking perfectly turned out is our DAK MG Soldier. DAK or better known as the Afrika Korps was the German expeditionary force sent to Africa to help strengthen the Italians, who more than likely would have been in trouble as the Italians were woefully equipped for War on any of the fronts and remained so throughout the conflict. I'm sure most people have heard of the Afrika Korps enigmatic leader Erwin Rommel. Many books have been written about the battles between Rommel's Afrika Korps and the British 8th Army.
 
 
 
 He is wearing, with pride I can see, his Afrika Korps uniform. He is one of Rommel's finest. The DAK uniform is the perfect colour for desert warfare. He is well prepared to man the MG with an ammunition bandolier across his shoulders. As per usual with United Bricks the printing is top quality, nice and clear and highly unlikely to wear off with handling. Judging by his smile I reckon he is fighting out there in the desert during the height of Rommel's powers, or he came out on top in the earlier..shall we call it a heated difference of opinion..ahem! Maybe the look on the other two faces will give us a clue!
 
He retails at £8.50. You can also purchase three other DAK torsos an Officer, MP40 soldier and a KAR soldier.
 
Next up is a rather upset looking US Admiral! Maybe the German did end up getting the upper hand? Or maybe we are dealing with a hard headed, no nonsense US Admiral. The kind that defeated the Japanese Navy in the Pacific. Looking at him, you'd even say defeated the Japanese single handed.
 
He looks very smart in his all white uniform. Though there is less printing compared to the DAK uniform what looks top quality. Also the more stark Naval uniform is reflected in his retail price.
 
He retails at £6.50.
 
 
Last to be reviewed is our Scot! Still smarting from being called a Scotch and even worse English he is also confused about why on earth the American and the German insist they are fighting in the second War, when he is still fighting the first one! Yet no matter how often he tried to explain it didn't seem to register, it's as if he was talking in an alien language! Anyway eventually things got heated and when the Admiral laughed when the German called him English..well what else did he expect other than a Scottish Kiss, or should he say Scotch Kiss!
 
So that explained we have hear a  WW1 Scottish soldier resplendent in his kilt, as he belongs to one of the famous Scottish Regiments, though he could just as likely been an Englishman in say the 1/8th Kings Liverpool Scottish battalion. One of several battalions within British regiments that are designated Scottish. As I said though this particular fine specimen is in a Scottish Regiment.
 
His tartan kilt is excellent and a great touch. He is wearing the Brodie helmet which troops starting wearing from late 1915 onwards. Again the printing is excellent quality and really can't be faulted. I also love his very WW1 moustache, plus the raised eyebrow really adds character!
 
 
He retails at £9.00 and is my favourite Minifig out of the three!
 
So that's it from United Bricks for now. Head on over to their website and check out many other figures aswell as a great selection of WW2 vehicles, including tanks!

 

 

THE BOOK OR BOOKS OF THE WEEK OR MAYBE BI WEEKLY, WHO KNOWS?         Hello everyone! With any luck this maybe become a regular fe...

Book of the Week! Book of the Week!

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

THE BOOK OR BOOKS OF THE WEEK OR MAYBE BI WEEKLY, WHO KNOWS?

 
 
 
 Hello everyone! With any luck this maybe become a regular feature. Each week or maybe bi weekly a AWNT team member takes a turn in recommending a book or even a set of books chosen from their book shelf. The book doesn't have to be a new release or even something they've just read. It doesn't even have to be historical. It could be fiction or non fiction, educational, scientific, a graphic novel, anything except porn..sorry to disappoint:)
 
 So I'll kick start this new and exciting (ahem) feature off with a series of books I've just recently got into. It's a series of novels set in WW2. We are transported to the East Front and follow a squad of Axis soldiers who come from different Axis nations plus one Hiwi (Russian volunteer). The author does a decent job in convincing the reader that this set up could possibly exist under the circumstances they find themselves in. The first book I bought was the paperback omnibus of his first set of novels, Bloody Stalingrad, that follow the squad during Stalingrad and the subsequent encirclement. Then as I was given a Kindle Fire for Xmas I went and bought the next omnibus, Rise of the Bloody Phoenix,  which consisted of the next two novels this time focussing on the 2nd battle of Kharkov. Also waiting in the wings is the next book, Bloody Citadel, which is yet to be published which appears to centre around Kursk.
 
 
 
 I'm normally pretty dubious about all these self published novels you now find on Amazon. Especially historical novels were far to often you'll come across glaring historical issues that make you throw the book away in disgust (this has happened on more than one occasion). However I'm obsessed over Stalingrad and certainly didn't want to miss out on a possible gem so I took a chance and bought the trilogy. Thankfully Andrew (the author) has done his research and it shows. Yes like many war novels liberties are taken and truths possibly stretched abit but I've not come across anything that has ruined the book or read any startlingly obvious historical errors (I see a book on sale that follows the SS in Stalingrad, that sort of thing annoys me).
 
 The author at times has a habit of being a touch repetitive and yes he isn't the most accomplished writer I've come across, however I can forgive him these minor indiscretions because he has done an excellent job in getting the reader invested in the main characters. You really do warm to them and want to spend time in their company, routing for them has they battle through the harsh winter conditions of the East Front.
 
 
 
 I actually can't think of many, what I'd consider, truly great war novels (The Red Horse is an epic tale of the Italian war experience, written by an Italian veteran of the East front. He has also wrote an account of his experiences during the retreat across the steppes). I can think of quiet a few really enjoyable war novels and  even more absolutely dire ones. Andrews books easy sits in the really enjoyable category. It's a typical War novel in many respects and it doesn't profess to be anything else. Maybe if you have little interest in the East front you may not view it in the same light as I do, however if you do have an interest and enjoy films like Cross of Iron (the book is very good aswell) then it wont disappoint.
 
 So if you own an E Reader go buy the books so far. Defiantly worth the money:) Even the paperback of the Stalingrad omnibus is worth the price, well I don't regret paying for it.
 
So that concludes my BOOK OF THE WEEK OR MAYBE BI WEEKLEY HOPEFULLY COULD BE MONTHLY... feature. As you can see from the excellent title you may, possibly, see another team member pick a favourite book or two or maybe more if they pick a series....yeah OK I'll shut up..bye!

 
STOP PRESS: I'm sure many of you have seen the excellent German war film Stalingrad? Well I've just discovered the actual book the film was based off. At first I thought the author had just seen the film then wrote the book, however after abit of research I found out it was originally released pre the film in Germany. The book is called Stalingrad: The Loneliest Death by C Fromm

STOP PRESS AGAIN: Below is a list of other recommended East Front fiction. In no particular order.

1. Cross of Iron
2. The Forsaken Army
3. Stalingrad by T Plievier
4. Pavlov's House
5. The Kindly Ones
6. The Red Horse
7. Siege
8. Scar of Honor
9. Black Cross
10 Into the Gates of Hell Stug Command '41
11. Devils with Wings: Frozen Sun (Book three of a trilogy that follows a Fallschirmjager unit. The other two books are set during the para drop at the fort Eben-Emael in Norway and the second book at Crete)

A superb WW2 LEGO animation   by the Brick Dictator !

1941 Lego World War Two Battle of Brody 1941 Lego World War Two Battle of Brody

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

1941 Lego World War Two Battle of Brody

A superb WW2 LEGO animation


 


BATTLE FOR STALINGRAD From the moment that I received Battle for Stalingrad [BfS], it's been an up and down experience. At...

BATTLE FOR STALINGRAD BATTLE FOR STALINGRAD

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!

BATTLE FOR STALINGRAD



From the moment that I received Battle for Stalingrad [BfS], it's been an up and down experience.

At first sight it looks like a classic DVG game - the usual lovely glossy box in a dark and sombre black and steely blue with evocative illustration on the front.  But, wait a minute - Russian soldiers advancing down what looks like a vast, open road in the face of tanks in Stalingrad?  Close quarter combat, rubble, dodging in an out of buildings - well perhaps somewhere, at some point this empty boulevard might have been seen.  After all it's only atmosphere [isn't it?] - but, hang on, those Russian soldiers look nothing like any picture of  a Russian WWII soldier I've ever seen!  Tight-fitting, modern clothing and even more obviously modern helmets.  OK, suspend judgement for the moment.



What period did these soldiers come from?



Next the physical box itself.  Heft the box, much lighter and slightly shallower than usual.  Go on, open it.  Open it!  DVG boxes are noted for their quality and snug fit, so much so that they can be a bit tight to open, but this was a wrestling match.  I was seriously concerned that I'd damage the box and even now after repeated extractions, it's no easy matter to separate the two halves.  At last inside was ... a significant amount of empty space filled by a cardboard insert that nearly reaches the box lid, with a shallow, narrow trough down the centre containing three packs of cards, on top is one sheet of counters and a rule book.  A typical DVG rule book in quality of paper and lay out, but 8 pages of rules and 2 and a half pages of a sample game is amazingly brief.  A very slim rule book indeed.  No mounted board, no card displays.

This really is a departure from the expectations associated with most DVG games.  First of all it is 2 -player only, unlike the predominantly solitaire games that DVG are noted for.  Its components consist of a set of ten cards that give you famed locations from the Battle for Stalingrad, a small deck of Force cards for each player and a much larger deck of Action cards for each player too.  The single sheet of counters are Rubble and Ration markers and what look like a small number of control markers, but are in fact Heroic Medals, earned by destroying all the enemy forces in a battle and controlling the location; such a medal is awarded to one of your own unit cards to strengthen its abilities.

So far, so uncertain.  Next for the cards - DVG are good at getting cards right and these are as right as right can be.  Every single one of the 168 contains a reproduction of an historical photo.  Even considering that, where there is more than one of the same card [e.g. the five Russian reinforcement cards], the same photo is duplicated, the game is almost worth having just for the cards to look at!  Also, that road those reinforcements are motoring down is sooo wide I've got too revise my view on some of the box art too!






The broad boulevards of Stalingrad?



The ten terrain cards that you will be randomly choosing from to form your five target locations cover all the most famous sites: the Grain Elevator, Pavlov's House, the all-important high ground of Mamayev Kurgan, the Red Barricades Factory and so on.  In how many tactical games have I fought over Pavlov's House, but to actually have a photograph to aim for is something else. 



Every card tells a story - it's that house!





I particularly like the inclusion of the two airfields, Pitomnik and Gumrak, that were so important for German supply, especially the inclusion of Gumrak airfield [which now lies under part of Volgagrad International Airport] and was the last of the seven airfields to be retaken by the Russians.  Finally each of the 27 Force cards also has its own individual picture.




Another of my favoured locations.




One of my major concerns was the lack of any mounted board.  Instead, the layout of the cards forms the playing area in a five card by five card grid.  The top row is the Russian Perimeter Area and the next row is the Russian Control Area, the centre row is where you place five of the ten building cards randomly selected, the 4th and 5th rows mirror the Russian layout but this time for the German player.  If this sounds familiar, it will be if -like me -you possess the game, Hell of Stalingrad, published by Clash of Arms in 2009.

Obviously, this feature of the cards creating both the playing area and the forces involved has been used in many other games, especially the fantasy genre of games.  Here the format is at its simplest and slickest and the fact that it is so simple is not a criticism.  It means that the few pages of rules are quickly and easily assimilated and all the focus is on playing the game and not thumbing through endless pages to check.  Consequently, this is a game that can be put on the table after a considerable period of time and you'll still be ready for play almost immediately.

So, how does a typical game play out.  First randomly select your five objective location cards - obviously, if you wish to, there's nothing stopping you choosing your favourite locations. [Can't help wanting to sneak in Pavlov's House.]  The Russian player then selects 11 pts worth of Force Cards [costs range from 1 to 4] and places them in any of the Perimeter or Control zones.  As a player wins by controlling all five locations at the end of their turn and the German player will take their turn first, I would say that it's important that the Russian player mainly occupies Control zones.  The Russian player also draws 10 Action Cards.



One of the strongest of the German Force cards


Then the German player selects 9 pts of Force Cards and draws 5 Action Cards.  He/she then deploys their Forces in any of their Perimeter zones.  Each Zone can hold up to three Force Cards [except for Pavlov's House, where each side can field only one Force.]  It's especially important to remember that, when a Force Card is first placed, it has a specific number of Rations marked on the card that are placed with it.  These Rations fuel so much of what happens in the game and represent far more than the basic meaning of "ration". 



A typical starting lay-out


First of all, to move a Force from one location to another costs a Ration.  Each Force that wishes to attack must also spend one Ration.  As you can imagine your supply of rations will soon be depleted and a single fresh Ration token can be gained at the beginning of your turn by each of your Forces, only if it is in a Perimeter zone or controls a Location card.

There are a limited few other ways of gaining rations, such as playing a Raid Action card to steal 2 rations from the enemy to give to your own troops.  Played at the right time this can be a life saver or the means to put just that extra bit of pressure on the enemy.

A feature of the game that I find very appealing is the fluidity of your turn.  Movement, Combat, buying Force cards, playing Action cards can all be combined and repeated in any sequence you wish, Forces can be moved and fight and move and fight again.  All this is purely dependent on how far you wish to deplete your rations and Action cards. 

Equally important, and again I would consider it a strength of the game, is the variety of uses for the Action cards.  They can be played for their text or used to buy new Force cards; they are played in Battle to add to your Fire power or subtract from the enemy's Fire power.  It is the age old dilemma: you will want them for everything, but can only choose one use! 



One of the many Action Cards


A knowledge of the cards is important, but a couple of games should have you well aware of the range and potential.  On the Russian side, the six Action cards that relate to Operation Uranus will often play a significant role.  They all come with a play cost for the Russians, but with a far more powerful harmful effect on the German player which is permanent, unless the German player pays an even more painful higher cost to remove them from play.




One of six important Operation Uranus cards

Play at the right time can be crucial to Russian victory



Play balance has had some criticism, but the number of those who believe the Germans have a lock on winning seems about the same as those who think the Russians have a similar lock on winning.  So that's one sort of balance, in a way.  For myself, I'm perfectly happy, having had victories and defeats playing both sides.

Initially, I found the game rather repetitive and drawn out, but I would strongly recommend persevering, as I've found the game really has grown on me.  One of the reasons for this is the Combat system, one of the game's strongest elements.  It is highly interactive with both players able to continue to add in cards to increase their own fire or decrease their opponents.  When both players have ceased this exchange of fire, a final unknown Action card is turned up from each player's deck and its modifier applied.  This last minute uncertainty is an effective touch. 

It is rare for both sides not to take some losses.  The number of hits inflicted can be reduced by one for each ration that you are willing to spend and every unit that retreats from the battle to its rear Perimeter zone cancels another two hits.  Despite this, when faced with possibly about 15 hits, wiping out three enemy forces is certainly achievable.  Occasionally, both players may find their forces wiped out. 

While on the topic of combat, I would strongly recommend either downloading Nagato Fuyibashi's excellent little chart for tracking hits for both sides from the Battle for Stalingrad site on BGG or creating a simple one of your own.  It really does make remembering the numbers easy and the battles swift to play out.

For those who believe purely card based games are just about hand management, that may be how you will perceive this game too.  But give it a try.  As you desperately try to cling on to a position or throw the last few points on your Action cards into overwhelming the defence or when you cannot decide whether you can afford to abandon 6 rations in order to cancel a particular Operation Uranus card,  I hope you'll get the same sense of tension and narrative feel as I do from playing Battle for Stalingrad.

 













Rorke's Drift a New Perspective by  Neil Thornton  The Title of the book pretty much sums this book up in a nutsh...

Rorke's Drift by Neil Thornton Rorke's Drift by Neil Thornton

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!



by 




 The Title of the book pretty much sums this book up in a nutshell. For those of us who thought we knew the story of Rorke's Drift and how and why it was fought, and also the story about all of the Victoria Crosses that were won there, we might be in for a bit of a shock. 

 The Zulus destroyed a camp and killed over 1,300 British soldiers and their African allies at iSandlwana on January 22, 1879. A few hours after that the Zulu Undi regiment crossed the Buffalo river into Natal. The Undi regiment was kept in reserve during the battle, so the warriors' blood was up. Prince Dabulamanzi, the Undi regiment's commander, decided to cross the river against his king Cetshwayo's orders. The next British encampment of any size would be Rorke's Drift. When Lord Chelmsford came back to his destroyed camp at iSandlwana, he could see the fire in the distance from the battle at Rorke's drift.

 For those of us who have had the pleasure to see it, the 1964 movie 'Zulu' starring Michael Caine and Stanley Baker encapsulates all of our thoughts about the battle. The only thing is that, as usual, the movie version of a historical event is not really historical. Although to be honest, this movie stays closer to the truth than many others. The real story of Rorke's drift does have all of the makings for a movie blockbuster. You have cowardice, bravery, and a desperate defense of about twenty to one odds or better. 

 The book starts with the actual history of Rorke's drift and why it was there and it's various uses before that fateful day. It started out as a trading post owned by Jim Rorke at a crossing place of the Buffalo River. Strangely enough its next incarnation was as a missionary post and chapel owned by the Church of Sweden, no less. The British negotiated the rental of it for their invasion of the Zulu's lands. It was used by the British as a supply depot at this time. The fact that it was stuffed with supplies for the army was an extremely good stroke of luck for the British soldiers stationed there. The tons of mealie bags and biscuit boxes that were stored, were the makings of their impromptu walls and fortifications besides the little bit that the Drift had to offer itself. 

 The Drift was awash with escapees from the massacre at iSandlwana before the battle. Almost 500 African allies and British soldiers were there. The appearance of the Undi regiment caused a panic and only 155 soldiers, mostly of B company of the 2/24th regiment, stayed to defend the Drift. 

 The book goes into minute details of the actual defenses that the soldiers built, and who was where at what time during the battle. The exploits of John Chard and Gonville Bromhead, and all of the other heroes of the battle are described in detail. For more than 10 hours, the 3,000+ Zulus attacked the Drift and its 155 defenders. A lot of the time the fighting was down to bayonet against assegai. The defenders and attackers had nothing to say about their enemies, except to mention their bravery. 

 The book first sets the scene and then goes into the battle itself. It then goes on to describe the battle's aftermath. Next it goes into a long list of the 'Gallantry Recipients' with a short biography and the stated reasons for their awards. To many, the book's part of 'Unjust Criticism' will be the most interesting. Apparently many, including the new area commander Sir Garnet Wolsley, did not think much of the heroes of the Drift, and didn't even think some of them deserved their medals!

 The stirring epic of the defense of Rorke's Drift certainly needed this book to separate fact from fiction. Hopefully the author is at work on a book about the battle of iSandlwana with this much detail.


Robert

Book: Rorke's Drift A new Perspective
Author: Neil Thornton
Publisher: Fonthill Media
Distributor: Casemate Publishers

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