WW2 Project: Introduction

There comes a point in most wargamer’s life where your eyes start to wander towards collections of tanks and men armed with bolt action rifles. Afternoons spent watching war films, trips to the library to pull down the hardcover book full of black and white photos or endless nights of Call of Duty suddenly lead you to looking at collecting books of reference material and eyeing the various ranges of chaps in steel helmets and woolen uniforms.

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your frame of mind), it is my time to take a trip back to WW2 and build my own army up. Although we had been talking about it for a while, the decision by my ‘friend’ Peeb’s Gaming Nonsense to gift me a Churchill tank for Christmas was really the straw that broke the camels back and unleashed the whirlwind.

(It should be noted that I got him back by gifting him some additions to a possible WW2 British Para Force. So guess what we’re playing in September)

So, what am I doing in my World War 2 project? Well, my first interest in WW2 came from Operation Market Garden, but there is a distinct lack of Churchill’s amongst the elements of XXX Corps speeding up Hell’s Highway (mainly due to the speeding requirement).

So my eyes drifted to the Reichswald and then into 1945. Mud, blood and hard fighting, everyone reaching the breaking point as the war begins to draw to a close. This time period also lets my opponents pull out the weird and wonderful toys to play with, while I potentially get to mix Paras and Churchills, Tommies and Comets as the final offensives get underway.

Because of this, I’ve decided I’m going to make a force for this period. Pulling on the feel of things like Fury, (and helped partially by my wash heavy painting style) I’m going to making these guys into a platoon of British infantry somewhere in Northern Europe in the early stages of 1945. Everything is muddy and wet, you can feel the cold in your bones, and still, bloody Jerry won’t simply pack it in and call time for this long game.

To take inspiration from the period, and get the right mood, I’ll be using the name “When This Bloody War Is Over” for it. Having listened to the tune above, it seemed appropriate for the time period. I’m also collating a few more books on the subject to try and capture some of the feel for the actions and tactics of the time.


With that target laid out, I’ve already made my start. The most obvious thing is the Churchill tank, now fully assembled and with a few tweaks to make it look unique. It was a bit strange building plastic kits again, but the Warlord product is really nice. I do have opinions on the fact it comes with two turrets and only one turret rear basket but it wasn’t enough to ruin the kit. More on it once it’s painted.

The bulk of the force, and something else that pushed me over the edge was the announcement that Empress had a range of late war British coming soon. Sculpted by the incredible Paul Hicks, from the first photo I fell in love with them. It’s something about how crisp they are as well as the proportions. The assault jacket and decorated helmets are also a strong outline

I picked up the Bren teams and two each of the two rifleman sets. My intention is to do some modification to the duplicate poses. These will probably be minor, removing some of the pioneer tools (of which there are many) and rotating a few heads, building on the scrim everyone is wearing around the neck to cover over any gaps.

However, there is also the matter of another few packs coming out soon which Empress released at Hammerhead this past weekend. The PIAT is a must, while the kneeling rifles and sten gunners should help to bring my force closer to the core platoon being comprised entirely of Empress figures.

Of course, I had to have a little play with a few other things as well. Arnhem and a Bridge Too Far weigh heavy on my mind when thinking about WW2, thanks to the inspiration it had in getting me into history. Despite focusing on the poor blooding infantry, I couldn’t help but pick up a box. Both for sourcing possible conversion bits, but also to let me possibly start building a second platoon in my collection. Also, plastic kits are something different from the piles of metal I usually have to handle.

In addition, I picked up the Winter British Infantry (mainly for the greatcoat look) and to act as an additional infantry section. Finally, I really like the ghillie suited snipers and will be making them into a sniper team, one soldier having his rifle replaced with a sten gun. More details on these guys as I work my way through them.

For anyone interested, here is a rough look at the Empress and Warlord figures side by side. The Warlord guys are definitely chunkier but should work well as an attached squad (maybe some of those Canadian fellows).

I’m also using the British Paras for an idea that GetWhimiscal, Peeb and myself talked about at Christmas – modelled patrol markers for Chain of Command. This should help to make pre-game phase a little more visually appealing, as well as reminding the players just what the markers represent. It’s also a chance for me to break out the converting skills and learning something new. Above is my first attempt, a pair of paras patroling forward, one of whom has recovered an MP44. There is a lot of work to do before they are ready but I’m really looking forwarad to working on them. Also the lack of pointing right hand on the para sprue is irritating.


With this idea, what am I actually going to play? Well, Chain of Command has really grabbed me, in part due to the feel of the game. The patrol phase and the jumping off points especially make me feel like an infantry commander in WW2, rather than an all-seeing general. I look forward to breaking out the support lists and getting a few more games in

However, I was lucky enough to get my hands on Radio Dishdash’s Ultracombat Normandy, the latest ruleset from Skirmish Sangin’s developers. Having had a read through it, it’s got some really interesting ideas that I can’t wait to put into practise.


Overall, I’m really excited about starting an entirely new setting. I have a tentative goal of getting a force ready for September (even if the equipment isn’t technically correct for Operation Garden) but I’d like to get plenty of games in before then. And of course, it may make sense for me to get some opponents for them at some point…

As this project continues, expect new posts every time I finish something. Meanwhile, I have to go read up on painting camo suits and using rifle/gun team combinations rather than my beloved fireteam arrangement.

“The Battle for Farm 412” or “Coc’ing around in the Desert”

As you might guess from someone who plays a lot of Skirmish Sangin, I don’t play wargames as a competitive exercise. Winning is nice, but at the end of the day, I’d much rather tell a good story, immerse the players in the setting and scenario. I’d rather make the players concentrate on making the decisions the real commanders would have to make.

Chain of Command from Too Fat Lardies is a game all about giving you the feel of being a platoon commander in the 1940’s. It’s about giving you the tricky choices while removing some of the more formulaic elements, beating into you the problems and issues your historical counterparts would have to deal with. I love the Too Fat Lardies motto – “Playing the Period and not the rules”. These are not a ruleset for competitive play. These are ruleset designed to evoke the feel without it turning into a horrible grind.

After having played it a few times at the club when I first started going, I’ve been desperate to play it again. Luckily, my usual York-based wargaming buddy Peebs Gaming Nonsense is a recovering Bolt Action fan with a platoon of both 8th Army and DAK. So what better way to start off my Christmas break than getting a game of it in.


Somewhere on the road to Tobruk. 1941

The desert sun glared down on Sergeant Kerridge as he stood on the roof of the farm, his beady eyes glaring out over the landscape around him. This part of Libya was greener than he expected, good enough to grow crops, the surrounding land covered in palm trees and shurbs. If it wasn’t for Jerry, and the questionable antics of the Lieutenant, it would be a perfect place to be posted.

Suddenly, with a cry from the sentries, his morning was interrupted by the arrival of a pair of Cheverlot trucks, each laden down with equipment and kicking up a plume of dust. One rolled straight past but the other rolled to a halt at the entrance to the compound, three troopers jumping off the back with ammo cans in hand while another two started to quickly work at dismounting the Vickers MG from the pintle position. To a man, the entire team seemed scruffy and out of regs, wearing the local headgear. They pushed past him, heading towards a position on the roof of the main building.

Kerridge was having none of this. He strode across the square, heading towards the commander’s seat, almost shaking with annoyance.

“What the hell is the meaning of this? Which unit are you part of? Don’t any of you know protocol about coming through lines.”

The man standing in the passenger seat turned to face him, the scraggly beard still covered in dust from the road. The sight of his rank slides caused Kerridge to click to attention, his boot heels slamming together. The Captain just smiled, throwing a casual salute before leaning down to him.

“Ah, there is a man in charge. Look here old chum, we were just returning from a patrol when we got into a bit of a scrap with some bosche just a mile or two back down the road. Looks like part of a probe and they heading straight this way. Now, we’re going to leave Williams and the old Queen here with you chaps to help give them what’s for while the Boy and I head back to somewhere with a radio to get the news out”

The Captain returned to full height, eyes scanning the horizon.

“Looks like you’re in for an interesting morning”


We decided to go for the second scenario Probe, with a DAK platoon of moving up to look for a way through British lines close to central farm.

Support wise, seeing as I was on the defence and just about had enough points, I went for a Vickers MMG team – hopefully it would help me to strike back at the masses of MG34s I was about to go up against. On the Germans side, my opponent went for an adjutant (to make up for the single Senior Leader the DAK platoons get) and a satchel charge (which went unused for the entire game).

After the dance of the patrol phase (a feature I particularity love), we had the above setup for the jumping off points. My positions let me setup up in several good pieces of cover, anchoring my defences around the main defensive position. The Germans had started their probe from my right flank, spreading their kicking off locations to a reasonable spread of locations.

Once the game kicked off, Jerry deployed two squads. One moved into the palm grove at the board edge, the other began to advance to the closest edge of the compound. In response, I deployed one section up to the low wall (both to protect the JOP and to prevent a flanking move) while the other appeared from the table edge and began advancing on

Sadly the second British Section made the fatal mistake of being caught in the open by two MG-34s which managed to rip them to shreds, dropping the NCO before pilling on the shock. This squad was eventually reduced down to one solider in each team, pinned down in the wadi.

Speaking of machine guns, the Vickers deployed in the position on the roof and started brassing up the Germans in the trees. The light cover of the undergrowth helped to reduce the casualties (although the NCO did take a hit) but they were covered in shock and unable to advance. They could, however, keep throwing potshots a the MMG that was pinning them down.

The next major deployment of troops was the Germans bringing their senior leader and the third squad to assist the advancing teams. The officer managed to get things moving en-mass. To fight back, I deployed my final section into position on top of the main compound building, able to put rifle and Bren fire down on that flank.

At this stage I made a critical error. Rather than keep my squad on the left in cover or trying to flank left, I decided to get more troops in the centre to engage more of the German offsensive. To do this I had to cross the open road which despite being done at the double, ended up with most of a squad stuck in the open. Two LMGs later and the NCO was done for, as well as several riflemen.

A phase later and I managed to get the 2inch mortar up to pop smoke and cover the crossing. Alas too late.


We ran out of time and had to call it there but where does that leave us? Well, I think it’s safe to say the Brits are in trouble. They managed to stop the probe and prevent it from breaking through the line, but they were now in serious trouble after my error. The Germans were taking shots but could possible had advanced down the right flank (using the other squads to put fire on the Tommies).

All I can say is that the cavalry better get there soon or else there might not be much to rescue.


I will admit, I can get why people don’t like Chain of Command and prefer other WW2 set games. If the dice hit you the wrong way, if Field Marshall Friction decides to make your troopers club footed fools, then yeah, it can throw your plans entirely out of wack. But nothing has quite matched the feel you get when reading histories of WW2 or even the modern day – where things can go incredibly wrong. In other words, I will be coming back to Chain of Command soon. Maybe even sooner than I expected when I started writing this post.

That said, I am very interested to try out the new WW2 rules from Radio DishDash.