Ripped from the Headlines: Wargaming the Modern Battlefield

Is it as tasteless as some claim? Just like the subject matter, that’s a matter of opinion.

The modern battlefield, while very interesting to wargame….is it too recent to be tasteful? -picture by Mikhail Evstafiev, 1996, of a boy in Grozny

So those of you following my blog may know I’m on a bit of a modern wargaming kick. Spectre Operations, and to a lesser extent, Team Yankee, are both extremely fun and well thought-out gaming systems. But, a nagging thought has been with me for a while, and somewhat reinforced by recent events around the world, outside of wargaming.

This post is not meant to discourage someone from wargaming the modern period. I certainly still will. But sometimes the best way to get a thought out of your head is to write it down.

I should disclose something else that might be relevant; I’m a Pakistani-born Canadian. My parents regularly tell me stories of the mother country, and while they try to tell only the good ones, the bad ones slip through. Pakistan in the 1980’s was an interesting place. Sometimes, my dad will comment on some of the models I’m working on with a unique angle, like how when I was working on my Afghan’s he mentioned working with Pashtun tribesmen during his time with the British Trade Commission. Or my mom will express some distaste at the sight of Kalashnikovs. This experience does colour my gaming somewhat, as most of my friends and wargaming group are, well, white dudes whose background lies in Canada for several generations, and who sometimes fail to understand what a different upbringing my folks must have had compared to their parents.

Islamabadian on Twitter: "#ZeroPoint in 1980's #Islamabad… "
1980’s Pakistan, specifically Islamabad, the Capital.

It was my friend Ty who suggested Spectre Operations to me, and he has a few campaigns he wants to cover specifically. Firstly, Chechnya. This was a war I remember seeing on the television as a young kid in the 90’s, and defined my view of Russians, and Chechens, well into my teenage years, but I was too young to remember the details.

And boy, are there details. The war was utterly savage, utterly without remorse on both sides. There is no clear “good guy” in Chechnya, only shades of very dark grey. Modern jihadists can trace a lot of their tactics to that war, and Afghanistan, which I will cover later. Grozny was an example of Post-Soviet Russian tactics, which lacked subtlety and went for shock and awe, practically leveling the city.

Despite that, or perhaps, because of it, it is a very interesting war to study and play in. Ambushes share the time with large armour movements. Rugged urban fighting contrasts with mountainside warfare. But this is certainly not your average insurgency, as the Chechens were very well armed, and extremely motivated, whereas the Russians were suffering from the Post-Soviet malaise they were just shaking off, and tended to be heavy handed because of it, as well as unmotivated to be fighting a war in general.

With a homemade SMG that wouldn’t look out of place in Fallout, a Chechen rebel takes a quick smoke, and photo, break. Photo by Mikhail Evstafiev-Chechnya, 1996.

This leads well into Afghanistan. One could indeed wargame the Soviet Invasion just as easily as the Coalitions turn later, and both can be problematic. Canadians fought and died there, as did many other nations. And the news coming out of there recently is depressing; Many fought in that region to oust the Taliban, only for them to make sweeping advances as soon as the NATO forces leave. One could make the argument that it was pointless. And NATO is on a whole leaving behind the interpreters and civilians who helped them, and they most certainly will die because of it. Wargaming Afghanistan used to be something I wanted to do, badly, but recent news has taken the wind-out of those sails.

Still, as a wargaming setting, it is perfect; asymmetric warfare at longer then normal engagement ranges, against a tough and determined local populace is great for scenarios. Clearing insurgent weapon caches and ambushes are also interesting things to do in the setting. Going back to the 80’s also allows for some Cold-War proxy fighting goodness, like delivering Stinger missiles to the Mujahedeen.

File:First Sting.jpg
Afghan Mujahedeen using Stinger Missiles on Soviet targets. Painting “The First Sting” by Stuart Brown
A Kiwi soldier and LAV on patrol in Afghanistan. Official photography by CPL Sam Shepherd, New Zealand Defense Force.

The final period discussed between myself and Ty was much more modern then both previous examples. That is, the Crimean Conflict, or War in the Donbas. Polite People vs Ukrainian Army. An extremely compelling, modern war, that lacks the insurgency both previous examples exemplified. This was very much an undeclared shooting war, although one with the gloves clearly still on by both sides for fear of escalation.

This is a war that I have some inside knowledge on. My Russian friend has family in the contested region, and the region is ethnically mostly Russian…however it was still annexed through pretty nefarious means, and the Ukrainians are right to defend their territory. It’s messy. The Ukrainians were so desperate for manpower they raised militias, and some of these militias have less then savory connections, including Neo-Nazi elements. And the Russian raised militia units are just as problematic. And, unlike both previous examples, this war is ongoing. Both sides have proved to be motivated and dogged, and the war doesn’t have an end in sight.

This was probably the most problematic wargaming scenario I could do, and honestly despite Empress making modern Russians in polite people kit(the new Ratnik soldier suite), I still can’t see myself fighting it on my tables in good conscious.

File:2014-06-12. War in Donbass 13.JPG
A Ukrainian soldier in modern kit. The Ukrainians had to rapidly modernize their armed forces in response to the Russian annexation. Pictures of the Ukrainians pre-war are almost indistinguishable from Russians in the 2000’s period. -Unknown photo source, sourced from Wikicommons and presented with a creative commons license.
Meanwhile, their Russian adversaries started strong, and in modern equipment. This was not to be a repeat of the Chechen wars. This was a well motivated, and professional, Russian army. -Photo by Elizabeth Arrott / Voice of America

So where does that leave the modern wargamer? I didn’t cover Iraq, but that is another popular place to wargame, and equally contentious. Let me explain what I’ve decided to do.

Chechnya, despite its ugliness, is in. It’s by no means a modern conflict anymore, and given a gentle and understanding hand, can be wargamed pretty well! The setting offers a lot, and the ‘just on the cusp of being fully modern’ equipment allows for a lot of variety.

Afghanistan is a more interesting take. Had you asked me a week or two ago, I would have been all for it. But now? It leaves a sour taste in my mouth, and I can’t say I can personally stomach gaming “Afghanistan” itself. But the Arma 2 Imagi-nation of Takistan on the other hand….that I will happily wargame. And I can use the models from Afghanistan just as easily in that setting.

The War in the Donbas is definitely out; It’s simply too new for me to cover in any way that doesn’t make me a little uneasy. However, I have referenced the conflict in my Zona Alfa games, as of course the Zone is in the Ukraine, and will continue to do so. The setting lends itself well to the extrapolation. I will probably resort to using another Arma 2 Imagi-nation, the Republic of Chernarus, for any Army on Army conflict. This fictional post-soviet state has much in common with the Ukraine, and while the uniforms differ quite a lot, that is a plus in my book. A fictional military allows you to go hog-wild with the equipment and look, and I will easily use real-life influence to fight the very not real-life setting. No neo-nazi militia for me please!

Green Sea Region in relation to world - Imgur
The fictional Green Sea Region will be seeing a lot of use in my modern games.

Now I’ll address this now; some people might call me an ‘SJW’ for these kinds of views. That is okay, they are allowed that opinion. Personally, I won’t push this thinking on anyone else. They are just my opinions about the Modern wargaming period. But just like any historical period, some nuance is needed if you want to sell the system on others. And these ‘ultramodern’ settings can easily alienate people. Personally, my solution of Imagi-nations allows me some serious lee-way to tell my own stories, and without some of the ugliness(although you can’t get rid of all of it).

Team Yankee sidesteps this neatly; there was no ‘Cold War Gone Hot’ in real life, and thank goodness for that! The setting in that case is inherently fictional. I have heard, however, some complaints leveled at the Oil War expansion. That I can understand, but the timeline is far enough in the past that I personally don’t see the issue on a personal level. Any game that tries to be overly serious and have Anzacs fighting in Europe in the 1980’s can’t really be taken all that seriously, and more the better for it! That being said…I do want to try A Fistful of Tows one of these days.

At the end of the day, as they say in the new Modern Warfare game, you “Draw the Line” where you need to. I have chosen to draw it this way. How might your games differ in that regard? I’d love to know! So leave me a comment.

That is all I have for today. I hope you enjoyed this post, and there will be more hobby oriented stuff as the Postman delivers the goods. For now, Happy War-gaming wherever you are, and до свида́ния comrades!

Undeniable Victory: First Steps with Team Yankee Iranians!

An army slapped together from disparate parts…fitting for the period!

The force (mostly) gathered. Lots left to do!

Team Yankee! It has been a long time since I posted about this game, but not for lack of wanting to. Other topics simply pushed it out of the way for a spell. But, staring down my ‘to build’ pile was a load of models for the game, and I really wanted a break from painting for a bit.

One of Team Yankee’s many supplement books, Oil War was an interesting direction for the game which had been almost laser focused on the European front of any WW3 scenario. But it made sense; the Middle East had been at war off and on with each other for most of the latter half of the 20th century, and these battles were a perfect petri dish to see how modern combat would actually look like. When two of my friends started Israeli armies, I knew I wanted something to fight them with. Initially, I was going to go with Syria(which use Iraq’s rules but with Warsaw Pact support), but after watching some very interesting documentaries on the Iran Iraq war, I was inspired to take up the sword for Iran.

An Iranian soldier takes cover during an Iraqi gas attack. The Iran Iraq War was as brutal as it was backward, as later on trenches became the norm. gas was commonly used, and Iranian soldiers would launch massive human wave attacks.

This was primarily due to just how unique an army they are in game. Using primarily Western equipment but utterly hostile to the West as a whole after the Revolution, and being aided by the Soviet Union. They have higher then average morale and courage values, but notably worse to-hit ratings and skill. It takes a very different sort of play-style to run then any other army I play so far.

In real life, the Soviet support would have never happened. The Soviets were viewed with just as much hostility as the West, and the ruling Ayatollah would have never condoned it. This could lead to some interesting narrative elements should I choose to include Soviet support later in my army.

The Iranian Army of the 1980s was an army in transition. The Artesh, or regular forces, suffered from leadership purges in the immediate aftermath of the Revolution, and was viewed as politically and religiously unreliable by the powers that be. The Shah had spent a great deal of money on modern Western equipment, like the British Chieftain and American F-14 Tomcat, and the army was mostly organized along Western lines. After the Revolution, this supply was cut off, leaving the Iranians with loads of kit they couldn’t replace. Some reverse engineering happened, and they were able to copy the TOW missile system. When Iraq invaded, the Iranians turned to North Korea and other nefarious sources for Russian style equipment, while the Iraqis enjoyed the unprecedented support of both the United States and the Soviet Union.

Iranians in a trench. I’m not sure if these are regular army or Basij troops.

The Iranians had almost a second army in the wings though, that of the Revolutionary Guard Corps. Raised as police originally, this was mobilized into a fighting force rapidly. The Basij, or ‘The Mobilization’, was open to anyone 12 or older, and often went into battle assured that they would die as Martyrs. This meant enlistments were high, and while poorly equipped, were fanatical on the attack. Basij troops would often begin attacks and make breakthroughs, which were then exploited by the trained regular army. They would attack through minefields and straight at Iraqi lines, which would sometimes break under the stress.

A very young Basij volunteer, wearing slogans on his helmet. Unfortunately, Iran used many child soldiers, an utterly deplorable tactic.

In all, the Iranian forces were a very diverse and eclectic army, with supply issues rampant, poor tactics, and vast casualties. Yet, they often achieved incredible victories among their losses. The Iran Iraq War ended with a UN brokered peace agreement, with no territorial changes for all the blood spilled. Seven years of brutal war with nothing but tears to show for it. The modern Iranian military is a different beast altogether, something a more military minded blog can cover.

So with all that in mind, this army started as a bunch of cast-offs. My American army donated its M60 tanks, M109 artillery, M113 apcs, and Cobra attack helicopters. I bought two sets of Ayatollah’s Revolutionaries from Meeplemart during a sale, which gave me Chieftain tanks, and yet more Cobras. A Fate of a Nation Egyptian T-62 Tank Battalion box gave me, well, T-62s and a couple of Shilka anti-aircraft tracks. This was all tied together with a purchase of Iranian Unit Cards to allow me to field this rag-tag and often dysfunctional army.

The complete army-list. The sheer variety on order here is crazy. East meets West indeed!

Lets take a look at some of the models. I have focused on one of each model, as being unpainted this won’t be terribly interesting for some of you.

Ah, Chieftains. I know these well, with many in my British army. These lack the Stillbrew armour package, which never made it to Iran, and conveniently allows them to look different.
The TOW Jeep kit has both Israeli and Iranian crew options, and one of my friends gave me his spare passengers from his kits. They make excellent tank riders.
M60 ‘Pattons’ are the most plentiful tank in this list, but not by much. I have grown to love these ugly and tall tanks, with a certain thuggish charm about them.
These tanks came second hand, and will require a new lick of paint.
A T-62, perhaps captured from the Iraqis or supplied by the Soviets in this WW3 timeline. These offer some unique, non-western flair to my army. Most Iraqi captured tanks I believe were crewed by Revolutionary Guard crews, but I’m not certain. I hope its true, as that will add some lovely narrative flavour.
Using notably worse export ammo and lacking the missile option of its Soviet counterpart, these tanks nonetheless offer a fun choice in my list.
A Shillka! These would also be Iraqi captures or Soviet supplied. These are great for clearing the skies of pesky helicopters, which haven’t yet made a strong appearance on the Clubhouses gaming tables…
For a resin/metal kit, this was actually really easy to build and fun to boot!
A nice brick of resin and metal, these M109s will add some serious punch at long range. These kits have been superseded by a newer plastic kit, which I will use in my Western armies. These older kits will serve instead in the Middle East.
Still, the detail is sharp and will be fun to paint.
An M113, a capable metal box! It’ll carry my Mechanized army regulars into battle alongside the M60.
Tow Jeeps, a fun unit with a nasty punch. Given that my tanks cannot pierce most Western designs from the front, these will be essential to deal with those modern tanks.
A Cobra attack helicopter. When Iran reverse engineered the TOW, it was for these vultures to use. This is also my main tank killer, and with four of them in the list they will have to earn back their points fast!
These models came to me built and in rough condition. They will need some TLC before I hit them with the rattle-can.
And the infantry. These will feature heavily in a different blog post, once I get them washed and put-together.
And the hilarious Iranian dice. I’m not entirely sure how politically correct it will be to throw these dice, but they do roll ever so nicely…

This project is far from over, but they have the advantage of being fairly easy to paint. I’m torn between the Team Yankee box-art bone-white colour and the pale green Iranian tanks were sometimes seen in. With the decals I purchased I can definitely add some unique markings that will add some flair, but I have also seen some tanks bearing a portrait of the Ayatollah on them, which I definitely want to add. Vallejo makes a great Bone White spray which will make painting this army a breeze…that is saying without taking the infantry into account.

I have shied away from the ‘human wave’ approach of mass Basij infantry, as I was drawn to this army from eclectic armour. But I had to include at least one unit of the Basij to pay my proper dues to the Army. Is this list competitive? I don’t believe so, but it will be a blast to play. With Chieftains providing cover for the faster M60s and T-62s, and with ample support options, I am really looking forward to some Oil War gaming!

Of course, as a match-up for Israel it is a bit silly. Iran may, to use massive understatement, disapprove of Israel… but they don’t share a land border. And with Iraq and Jordan in the way, it is very unlikely that they would ever trade blows in person. But the Oil War book’s internal balance appears to work out between the armies between its covers, and so it should be fun. The new ‘Super Tanks’ now available to both NATO and PACT forces are a hard counter to my mass of tanks, but some wily side-shots may yet prove effective.

With the Ontario lockdown extended until June 2nd, I have plenty of time to get some more painting done. I must say I was very impressed by the reach my blog had during my ‘manic’ posting spree of the last few weeks, but the burnout has finally hit and alongside a close family member being in the Hospital(not from the dreaded Covid, thank God.) I have been…distracted as of late. But I find myself happy with less views if it means I don’t push myself too hard. Blogging is supposed to be fun after all!

In any event, I hope you enjoyed this look into Team Yankee Iranians! I will have some painted before long, and once Lockdown ends I will hopefully get some games in of all varieties! I have another project in the wings to do with Oathmark, a rank and flank game from Osprey, so look forward to that in the immediate future!

But for now, Happy War-gaming wherever you are, and stay safe everyone!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Lock-Down!

Preparing for the Long Haul!

Merry Christmas! As I may have stated in previous posts, I am based out of Ontario, Canada. And, as of Boxing Day, the province is starting a 28 day ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown.

While as far as lockdowns go this is fairly relaxed, it does mean I’m both laid off(luckily, not permanently!) and probably staying at home most if not all day. I was running low on supplies, but luckily I had a few good paycheques and decided to treat myself.

Glue for the glue god, Paint for the paint throne!

Those of you who following the blog are mostly likely aware of my recent love-affair with Team Yankee. As my first foray into 15mm wargaming it has been a blast, and building up tiny tanks was actually my project for the first lockdown. While I’m still enthusiastic about completing the British I have begun, I’ve ended up with quite a few ‘modern’ armies, and I am very inefficiently plugging away at all of them. The Fate of a Nation box below is actually meant for my Iranian army.

It is a pretty good deal, with nine T-62s and two Shilka AA vehicles. Fate of a Nation itself I find very interesting, but alas my regular Israeli opponents favour the more ‘cool’ Merkava tank, and selling either of them on the Yom Kippur War is a tough sale indeed. However, seeing as you buy the Iranian unit cards separately anyways, you lose nothing by getting the Egyptian T-62 Battalion box, and actually save a good deal of money.

They are the full plastic kit as well, and I’m well and truly torn between assembling them as Soviet T-62s(which, bizarrely, can ally with Iran in the Oil War timeline…), which gives me solid AT-23 tank punch, or instead using them as Iranian ‘T-62s’, which were more likely North Korean Chonma Ho’s or Chinese Type 69’s in our timeline. Oil War allows the Iranians greater access to the Soviet toolbox then the Ayatollah ever got to play with, and one can take T-62’s en masse as a Revolutionary Guard flavoured tank company. I hopefully will make up my mind soonish!

Now Flames of War, a WW2 15mm game had crossed my radar before, I had always dismissed it because I played WW2 already with Bolt Action. 15mm seemed fiddly and time consuming, and I wasn’t sure I would enjoy the company level scale of the game. Team Yankee has proven I do, in fact, prefer the smaller models for company level actions and higher, and one of my friends in Toronto had gotten into it recently as his lockdown project. While chances are I won’t see him until the vaccines have rolled out, I figured I’d take a chance on the game in the hopes of playing him when the world returns to a sense of normalcy.

I was stuck on either the Soviets or the British, and in the end I went for Shermans instead of T-34s. These Flames of War Late War starters are really good value for money, and with the addition of one extra troop of Sherman V’s, I’m well set to play D-Day and onward with the contents.

For Christmas Eve, I decided to get cracking, and started on the Shermans.

Three 75mm Shermans, with two Fireflies. Two of the 75mm vehicles are going to be my command section, and the two Fireflies will be slotted into the two Troops I will have once the full set is complete. The spare 75mm will be another tank in one of those said Troops.
They are very pretty little tanks, but quite fiddly! I found the Yankee kits to be much easier to assemble. I do love the included tank commanders!
And a 17 Pounder Firefly! A beautiful little tank. My full force sadly only includes these two!

Now I’ve got a lot of stuff to work on. My goal this lockdown is a bit more modest; clear my Flames of War and Team Yankee assembly backlog. Will I succeed? Chances are, no! But it’ll keep me busy and out of trouble. Tomorrow I will crack on with the T-62’s. If I’m feeling particularly handy, I might knock out some WW2 stuff as well!

For now, happy War-gaming wherever in this wonderful world you are, and a very Merry Christmas! Stay Safe everyone!

And The Army Goes Rolling Along: Team Yankee Americans!

America, F**k yeah!

As so often happens in our hobby, I have wheeled and dealed my way into yet another Cold War army. This time, it is the patriotic poster boys themselves, the United States Army.

Valley Forge, Custer’s ranks,
San Juan Hill and Patton’s tanks,
And the Army went rolling along!

This was an interesting deal indeed, as it travelled between several people before eventually ending up in my hands. I was never intending to play Americans, but having an army pretty much fall in your lap is hard to say no to.

My plan is for this army to be a ‘demo’ army, one I can wheel out at the Clubhouse for games if a person doesn’t own a Team Yankee army and wants to try it out. Of course, I’m getting awfully attached to these wee plastic men, so I reserve the right to be selfish and keep the Freedom all to myself.

However, this army was a hodgepodge, mixed from many sources and missing a few of the unit cards. I decided early on that the M60’s (the not-Abrams tanks on the left) would instead be used…for yet another different army. But more on that later. The rest of the force was viable, and I decided to add some of the newer releases, along with the newer book, to my collection.

First up, I added some more modern airborne punch with two Apache gunships. While the jury is out on just how ‘good’ these helicopters are in Team Yankee, the kit itself is beautiful and a great example of how far Battlefront has come in their kit design.

These are robust, well detailed, and well designed models. I had no trouble putting them together!
They are also quite large! Absolutely dwarfing the Cobra gunship on the right!
While the size difference isn’t that comical, it does show just how imposing an Apache really is!

Secondly, two of the Abrams tanks in the army I got were done up as the later M1A1 variant. While, oddly enough, the kit included this option since its release many moons ago, it was never reflected in-game until the American book release this year. As such, I didn’t have the cards.

I also wanted more of them, so I purchased(on sale, might I add!) an additional platoon of Abrams. These will be assembled as 1 M1A1HC, and 4 M1A1 tanks, allowing me in total to field two platoons of three and command of these heavy-weight US bruisers. Expensive points wise, but with T-80’s on the prowl I’ll need the protection…and firepower.

While the rest of the Abrams remain on sprue, I have managed to assemble the command tank. With just the auxiliary power unit being the only difference(on the kit, the real tank differs quite a bit!), I wanted to add some spice to the model.

I was inspired by a model Battlefront did, featuring an ACAV turret from an M113 APC on an M1 Abrams. While in no way historically accurate, or even doable(I have no idea if the cupola would even match up correctly), it had the advantage of looking really cool.

So, I cued the music, and got to work.

The CO peers out, looking for Soviets. Or just posing for Stars and Stripes, who knows?
I also took another massive liberty and replaced the loaders machine gun with yet another gun-shield and an M60 machine gun. Not realistic. Very cool.
Combined with the APU(Auxiliary Power Unit), this command tank will not be mistaken for anything else.
Cutting an imposing figure from the front!
All in all, happy with my work!

While I took some pretty large creative liberties with this tank, I hope it looks good! I personally quite like the effect it gives off, and the calibre of the machine guns remains the same so no conflict with the unit card. Perhaps the Captain here is leading his company into a West German town, and traded for the turret. A tank like this deserves a little story to go with it.

Christmas promises some Bradley’s to go with my Abrams, so I can mount my grunts into some more protected transports. While the M113’s aren’t bad, I did want something similar to my British Warrior IFVs.

Story Pile: Pentagon Wars | press.exe
I may be watching this movie for inspiration!

As for the rest of the army….Since I lacked unit cards for the M109 artillery pieces and the M60 tanks, I had to think for a bit. The M109’s I can easily grab the new plastic M109 kit to add some additional firepower to the battery, and grab a slew of extra cards as well, the M60’s were another matter. I didn’t see myself using them as Americans, Marines or regular Army. And they weren’t kitted out as Magachs for the Israeli variant either. And I know two people with Israeli armies anyways.

But one other nation in Yankee also use M60’s, and that is Iran. With the Team Yankee sale on at Meeplemart in Toronto, I purchased the Iranian unit cards, and two boxes of Ayatollah’s Revolutionaries. While I’ll need to steal a Chieftain command tank from my pile of unbuilt Brits, combined with ten M60 tanks I have, at least at my local level, a viable force.

I’ll be chipping away at my pile of unbuilt Yankee goodness over the next few days during my surgery recovery, so expect a few more blog posts over the holidays. Happy War-gaming wherever you are, and Merry Christmas!

Waltzing Matilda: Finally, a return to Team Yankee!

Aussies in 15mm!

Oh my goodness, so tiny! These little bastards are finicky.

Back around March, when Covid-19 lock-downs first started hitting Canada, a bunch of my friends and I decided to do a lock-down game, a project to get done before we saw each other next. We decided upon Team Yankee. This initial period is documented on my blog! However, as new games and of course 40k 9th Edition came along, I got really, really distracted.

Still, I wanted to play Team Yankee. My issue lay in the fact my opponents lived a good 2-3 hours away in the Greater Toronto Area, so it was getting hard to muster energy up for a game I wasn’t going to play for a while. Then, because I needed to get through my backlog, I took all my stuff to my local Club.

The sudden interest generated by my sizable collection led to a few people locally buying in, which is great news for me playing the game, bad news because I had nothing done!

Pictured: Stuff finally getting done. These are British Chieftain tanks, finally assembled and primed!

Now my British force for Team Yankee is arguably my better army; new book, hard hitting super tanks, Milan teams…etc. But my Australian/New Zealand army kept calling, and since their infantry, which I decided to do in “Jungle Greens”(the issue of Auscam was slow and ponderous…), were considerably easier to paint then my horde of Brits in camouflage, I decided to tackle them first.

I primed them with what I had, Russian Uniform by Vallejo. I’m hoping that since its a good olive color I might get away with it.

Blocked in the main colours! Sculpts are really detailed for 15mm, and could be done by an experienced painter quite well!

I decided quick and dirty. These Australians are tired of sitting in a box…they want to fight! I blocked in the main colours, unfortunately that meant a lot of greens on greens. Still, that is the colour of the gear, so that is what they had to be. I took as many opportunities to get some additional colour in there.

Post-wash and Stirland Mud, these Aussies look like they are in Passchendaele, not untouched German soil. That had to get fixed!

They took the wash, Agrax Earthshade, quite well. Stirland Mud was applied liberally to the base. Once dry, I asked my local group if I should add grass. All it took was one person to comment to get me to do so…and I’m glad I did, it looks considerably better! Thanks Nick!

The finished Command stand. The most dangerous thing in warfare…A junior Lieutenant and a map…
They honestly look pretty good! For 15mm I can’t see going into more detail, my hands will simply not let me.
The grass is pretty sparse: this place has been driven over by tanks. The untouched flower bush adds some colour to the base.

Of course, I still have the full mechanized platoon to get done. And another. And my Milan teams(In the Australian list, it is probably my best chance against the T-80’s I’ll be facing soon…). I have my work cut out for me!

I might give the DPM on my British troops a try soon. These Australians were not as hard as I thought they would be, so I’m eager to see if I can successfully paint camouflage.

With a new Soviet, American, and Canadian player locally, my ANZAC’s will be busy in both exercises and live action against the Warsaw Pact.

For now though, that is all I have. I do have a King Edward model I’ve been cracking away on for VBCW, but until it is just right, I don’t want to post it! Happy War-gaming where-ever you are, and crack open a Foster’s with your mates! G’day!

Challenging Challengers: A lesson in Paint Stripping!

Oh, the road it took to get here. Filled with swearing and other such fun stuff!

Confession time…I hate painting camouflage. Absolutely hate it. I love the idea of it, but the actual time and painting skill required can be extremely daunting, and I never really attempted it. Until last week.

The British Army of the Rhine I’m working on historically had a quite simple scheme of black and green, and I figured I could rattle-can the process, and get it done really quickly. I followed this idea from Battlefront themselves,, and figured I could use Blue-Tack to accomplish the same task.

This. Did. Not. End. Well.

Oh, it looks so fine and alright. For now.

The issue I ran into is that not all Blue-Tack is the same. The brand I used was an off brand, a terrible gloopy Plasticine mess that stuck to the model and stubbornly refused to come off. Realistically, this wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own, as I used a sub-standard product. To be clear; Don’t use no-name brand Blue-Tack for this. Actually, having found another solution, I recommend not using Blue-Tack for this at all.

After a bath in Isopropyl Alcohol 90%, the Blue-Tack was finally gone, and most of the original paint too! Acceptable casualties.

Now, I had to get the paint and Blue-Tack mess off. Plastic models aren’t as bad as resin to strip paint of off, but it is still significantly harder then metal. There is a lot of debate as to what the best solution is. I can only offer my personal solution, and make no claims that it is the “best”. I must warn you that I have no idea how this works on resin, so be warned!

What you want is this!

Less Messy then Dettol. Just as good.

This, by far, in my experience the easiest and least fuss method. Simply pour the 90% isopropyl alcohol straight into a plastic container (Tupperware style), and let the plastic miniatures sit in it for a few minutes to a couple of hours. It should, depending on how thick the primer and paint was, come off fairly quickly. It may stain the model, but this doesn’t happen very often and also is of fairly little consequence as the new paint should cover it entirely.

Silly Putty! Childhood nostalgia comes to the rescue.

So with Blue-Tack turning out to be a bust, a bit of further reading turned up Silly Putty as a masking solution. I applied it much the same as I did the Blue-Tack, and resprayed the models, emptying my last can of Firefly Green in the process(Luckily, some advice from several people on the Team Yankee Facebook page has led to a suitable replacement.) Not only did it not stick to the model like the Blue-Tack, it is also reusable! This is a massive improvement, and leads to the models you see as the end result that you can see here.

Yes. I used the same picture twice. I really should document stuff better!

In all honesty, I didn’t document this process as thoroughly as I should have, since I was not exactly in the right mood for it. Lots of swearing, and overall malaise kind of took over. Lesson learned though, and it provides a decent start to begin painting in earnest. I do think I need more green and less black in the scheme, and the rest of my army will take that into account. On the bright side, one of the two boxes of Charlies Chieftains I found online has arrived, and the other hopefully will arrive soon, giving me Lynx helicopters and a solid core of Chieftain tanks, a cheaper alternative for when I don’t want to take the Challengers. The Lynxes I’m torn on if they should be assembled with TOWs or as transports; I’m leaning toward the latter to give me options to drop troops with nasty Milans in places they shouldn’t be.

This may not have been my most fun experience, and a less cheery blog post then I normally put out. But if my experience can help someone else, it’ll have been worth it! Beyond the scope of the Team Yankee project, I have also been tasked by my gaming Clubhouse to help build a website for them, and hopefully soon the fruits of those labours can be shared with all of you!

But until next time, Happy War-gaming, wherever you might be!


A Comedy of Errors: Team Yankee reinforcements!

More stuff! That I built wrong, and primed maybe the wrong color, but stuff!

Sometimes, Murphy’s Law happens; If it can go wrong, it will. Luckily today’s minor errors fixed themselves pretty easily, and it wasn’t too painful. But they were annoying, and of course, leads to more time spent tomorrow trying to fix them!

I had received the ADATs vehicles last week, but only started cracking on them a couple nights ago. As a metal/resin hybrid kit, there was a potential for some issues, luckily my casts were mostly clean, and didn’t take a lot of work. The metal was in good shape too. They weren’t overly hard to build, but the turrets were quite difficult to assemble, and once complete the turrets were not exactly balanced. Luckily, the addition of magnets fixed that issue.

The firepower will be worth the effort! These will go into my friends Canadian Army.

An extremely unique platform, trialed by both the US and Canada. The Canadian military eventually did adopt the system in small numbers.

The missiles could be fired at both Aircraft and Tanks, hence the name, Air Defense Anti Tank, or ADATS! In Team Yankee these vehicles pack a monstrous punch, but make up for that by being a massive target and having to do very different roles.

Eventually, both neglect and age killed the system. While advanced for its day, by the time of its retirement the missiles had serious issues. The Canadians never fought a war where it could do its job as needed, and therefore was sidelined. It acted as defense for the Kananaskis G8 summit, and that was its last “deployment”. Incidentally, I lived in Canmore at the time, and the summit made for an interesting change of pace in the small mountain community. The military presence while not obtrusive was obvious. As a kid, it was all very fascinating, and probably added to my interest in the military as an adult.


The other package today included two platoons of M113’s with T50 turrets, another box of Scorpions and Army Painter Army Green spray paint. I also got lucky and received from a UK store another Australian mechanized platoon, completing my infantry contingent of my Anzac forces.

The M113’s were where things started to go awry. Badly assembled rear hatches, forgotten top hatches, T50 turret machine-guns assembled the wrong way around….it was a bad idea to hobby while talking to people on Discord and trying to text people at the same time. I’m just glad I didn’t injure myself!

As you can see from the unpainted plastic pieces, I forgot a few! At the end of the day, at least it isn’t immediately obvious that things are wrong here…

The M113 in Aussie and Kiwi service was commonly fitted with turrets. This was a result of experience borne in Vietnam. Oddly, they were the only countries to use these styles of turrets on their M113s; a fact that puzzles me, as the advantages are obvious. Someone more knowledgeable then me can explain it better.

These are an older Battlefront kit, and the vast array of parts offered allow you to make a frankly insane amount of different variants. The M113 was certainly a workhorse platform!

Ah, Bent barrels and bare plastic. This thing fought me the whole time…I hope the next five go better!

Finally, I took the whole lot of stuff outside to prime. Army Green? I’m not entirely sure what I expected, but using it on historical miniatures I know to be a different but close shade, I think it was that I could get away with it. I’m undecided, and it is probably salvageable…

I don't know what I expected - Album on Imgur
I should invest in an airbrush…

As Chieftain Green is now out of production, and my can being empty after finishing my British, I took a chance on using it on my Canadian ADATs. Bad call, as this color isn’t right at all. Luckily, I can cover most of it with a camouflage pattern. On the Australians, the color isn’t as egregious but still not quite right. It is close enough that once darkened with a wash it should be closer to true, but as people who have read my Vostroyan project blog know, I’m not a great painter and like to get the color as close to the end result with the priming step.

As for the British, they are finally, sans infantry, primed!

Weather cooperating, finally! Got the whole lot done.

I absolutely adore this colour! It is a nice British Army of the Rhine base, and when I get a can of black spray to do the camouflage pattern it’ll go nicely with it.

It could have gone smoother, but at least it all is done for now. Wait, nope, still got five M113’s to do. Unfortunately, I need ten more, and the supply in Canada for them has run dry. Waiting for a daily deal from Battlefront or a good sale somewhere else is probably my best bet. My Leopard’s are not primed yet, as I got a comment on my last post about modifying them to Aussie spec, and I want to try that first. As well, I need a good paint for German “Gelboliv”, which Australian Leopards were delivered in that color and not repainted until later.

While I thought my British were “finished”, I found a place in Canada selling the otherwise difficult to find Chieftain kits! One is part of the older Charlie’s Chieftains set, a good buy as it gets me a template I don’t own, and two Lynx helicopters as well, while the other is a standard box. While I am happy to get the good ole’ backbone of the BAOR, with my Chieftain/Firefly Green paint can having finally given up the ghost, I find myself looking for a suitable replacement. I’m not too picky in having it match exactly, but it should be close. I should invest in an airbrush, but my family enjoys their peace and quiet….

Anyways, that is all I have for today! I’ll be back with more progress when I have some. Happy War-gaming folks, wherever you might be!

At least it was a nice sunset to cap off the day!

They Came from a Land Down Under: Lost Anzacs in Team Yankee!

“Waltzing Matilda….”

Hello there! I did say I would reveal my next Team Yankee project on April 25th, and as you may have guessed from the Free Nations book, and the date, its the Anzacs!

Wait, what?

Yeah, that was my reaction too, upon finding out that the Kiwis and Aussies were in the game! It was a pleasant surprise, as I quite like the countries in question, and actually have a small connection to Australia myself. But what are they even doing in West Germany in 1985?


Yeah Sam, I think our Anzac friends might agree with you there!

Well, there are two reasons. The first is the one the book gives us; The Australians and New Zealanders were invited by the British to a military exercise taking place in June 1985, and upon finishing it, were committed by their parent governments to stay, in case of hostilities with the Warsaw Pact. This isn’t entirely without precedent; Exercise Lionheart in 1984 in our real timeline had exchange officers from both nations embedded in it. A full brigade of troops is fanciful, but amusing, and one must remember it IS a game at the end of the day.

The second reason is much, much simpler. Battlefront Games is from New Zealand. They wanted their own country in it. That is entirely fair! Can’t say I’d do much different, in their place.

As for why I’m playing them, it came down to again, two reasons. Firstly, my friend and I always like to have two armies for a system, and he wanted to play Canada. As we are both Canadians, I will admit to being a little sad. But I got Australia instead, and man, am I happy about that!

Secondly, my own family history is amusingly on point here. We come from Anglo-Pakistani stock, and when it came time for my, well, large family to leave the home country, we chose two destinations. It is incredibly amusing, and the source of many jokes, that we chose almost literally the two farthest places in the world to settle apart from each other! Half went to Australia, the other Canada. We remain close, and as a kid I used to relish the visits of my odd speaking cousins.

As a child, I researched their military history almost as much as my own adopted country. The Battle of Gallipoli hold a place in my heart as much as Vimy Ridge. And who could forget Kapyong, where the Royal Australian Regiment and the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry both won a Presidential Unit Citation from the United States for holding a vital pass? A classic tale of Commonwealth brotherhood. The Royal New Zealand Artillery was there too, and they shouldn’t be forgotten either!

3rd RAR, looking fine in their Slouch Hats! Canada had the adjacent hill, and fought just as hard.

As you can probably tell, I was pretty excited to get started on this project. I’m still stuck on priming miniatures, as much of this was purchased while it was still too cold to prime, and that issue still continues. For now, I’ll just show off what I have.

An officer from the Royal Australian Regiment. He’s a model reused from Battlefronts Nam game, and honestly the kit used in Vietnam remained much the same as in the 80’s. He’s got an M16, a Giggle Hat, and a map, which in the hands of the junior officer here, is probably his most lethal weapon(to his own side!)

The first major deviation from the Nam range lies in the choice of platoon Anti-Tank weapon. This digger is armed with a Carl Gustaf, a fairly nasty anti-tank recoilless rifle.

The anti-tank guided missile option for the Australians is the Milan. In real life, these were fairly scarce, but in Team Yankee they were given a large amount to help the cause. These are a nasty choice in the game, but are also my only really strong AT option.

A hilariously mad-max concept, but not one unique to Australia, was mounting a 105mm recoilless rifle on a jeep/land rover. The Australians used theirs in Vietnam. In Team Yankee, they have a good role as a unit to hold in Ambush, allowing their weapons to be trained on the side armor of enemy vehicles.

In service, the soldiers using this equipment commonly went on to have serious hearing loss!

Adopted in 1976, the Leopard AS1 is the Australian variant of the venerable Leopard 1 Main Battle Tank. The Australians trialed both the M60 and the Leopard, and chose the latter. Agile but thinly armoured, these can fire well on the move, but get punished severely for being hit.

During the Leopard 1’s development, the Germans believed that HEAT ammunition made armour fairly useless, and focused primarily on speed and armament. Developments in armour eventually overtook this thinking, leaving the Leopard as an interesting period piece. Luckily, they never needed to test it in our timeline. In Team Yankee, this hot-rod only has a front armor of 9, abysmally low.

All these criticisms don’t matter to me for two reasons; It’s a very pretty tank! Secondly, you can take a great many of them for the points you usually pay for a typical NATO big-shot tank. You can’t out-horde Pact players, but you can advance at speed quickly, and take double the shots while doing so. Four countries in Team Yankee get the Leopard, and the Canadian/Australian ones have the “brutal” rule, allowing you to force enemy infantry to reroll successful saves, representing canister/splintex ammunition in use by the two countries.

All in all, my Anzac force is coming along. I still have two boxes of Leopard 1’s to build, giving me a total of eighteen in total! I still am waiting in the mail for another Mechanized Platoon, and I still need to order an insane amount of m113’s, a task made harder by the fact that Australia used the T50 turret, so I can’t just cannibalize other nations M113s. The Scorpions in my British list will probably be transferred to this list, to represent the New Zealand contribution to the war effort. They will be replaced in the British list by Foxes. I also require a Tracked Rapier troop; this gives my Anzac’s the serious anti-air option they require to be competitive, while also expanding the options available to the British list.

I’m quite pleased with the progress I’ve been making; the assembly line will continue tomorrow, churning out more tanks, and waiting for the weather to finally cooperate. Once this project is done, hopefully the shut-down will be over and I can get a game in, as believe it or not, I still haven’t tried out this out! If not, I will probably start on my Oil War forces, Syrians, mainly to fight my friends Israelis down the road. I also, on impulse, purchased two ADATS(an odd weapon platform adopted by the Canadian Army) Anti-Air platoons during Battlefronts daily deal, mostly because, c’mon I’m still Canadian at the end of the day. They’ll probably see use in my friends eventual army, but gives me an excuse to paint my own country’s armed forces.

Now, my friends gave me permission to post what they got done! So without further ado, lets have a peek!

One Hundred points of German Steel. This is my friend, Chris’s work. Very heavy on the elite units.

He also owns an airbrush; Meaning he actually got a start on painting! This is his Leopard 2, and is his first model in 15mm scale. Not a bad start my friend!

My other friend, Ty, has less free time on his hands, doing important work at the moment. When he gets time, he is working on his Soviets. Firstly, we got here some BMP-2s!

And here we got some T-64’s and some Geckos. The Tanks have mine-rollers, a neat ploy to prevent my MLRS minefield shenanigans!

And that’s all I got for today! Lots of painting in our collective future!

This was a fun post to write, and have one last aside to make. While it is certainly not a big deal for other parts of the world, I’d like to wish any Australians and New Zealanders visiting a good Anzac Day! It is a seriously important day for them, and while I may be half a world away, for at least a few hours, I’ll celebrate your achievements along with you. From Gallipoli to the Kokoda Trail, to Kapyong and Long Tan, may your soldiers be remembered as some of the finest in the world. Happy War-gaming Mates, wherever you might be! Stay Safe everyone!


Cold Weather for a Cold War: A Foray into 15mm

Oh boy, here we go again!

It feels good to be back! It has been a long time since my last post, with my own personal situation and the global chaos that has been 2020 having caused a whole slew of issues, with my problems at least finally back in control! I apologize for the few of you who read my content, but for now at least I’m back.

With Covid-19 looming large, and a shutdown (albeit a soft one) in Canada, I found myself with not a lot to do. A quarantine project was needed, but having burned out of 40k(again), I couldn’t really muster any enthusiasm. Luckily, as it so often turns out to be, my friend asked me a quite innocent question that caused an avalanche.

“Hey, Andrew, you ever hear of a game called Team Yankee?”

I had, but not paid it much mind. 15mm was a scale I’d sworn off on doing, what with the tiny models and multiple infantry on one base thing. But 28mm was a topic my group had covered quite comprehensively, and my research showed me a game that was fun, if not entirely always realistic. The Cold War is also a fascinating topic, with lots of ground to cover, from Korea all the way to the hypothetical situation in West Germany with the Able Archer exercise causing a global thermonuclear war. Interesting, and also terrifying. As well, unlike many of my peers, my parents didn’t grow up with the terror of the Cold War looming as they had the quite real terror of the Indo-Pakistani wars instead, so it was a topic I needed to study myself. So it was a solid background for a tabletop game, trading my current existential terror of the pandemic for the historical existential terror of World War Three.

With my interest in the history, real or otherwise piqued, I turned to the game. Team Yankee is based off the venerable Flames of War system. I have heard many things about that game, not all of them good, admittedly. But Team Yankee from, at least from all the battle reports I had watched, looks incredibly fun. Simple to learn, with a degree of strategy above Bolt Action(which does platoon level infantry action really well, less so armored combat) or 40k, where many games I’ve played having been decided in the list-building step. The smaller scale also means that company level warfare was now playable on our 4×6 tables.

As for what countries each of us would play, my one friend picked the Soviet Union, while the other picked West Germany. Myself? I had a couple in mind, but the first one is the focus for today…

“We’re fighting a land war in Germany….again?”

The British, or more specifically, the British Army of the Rhine, was my first choice. With a strong defensive focus, and a few nasty surprises, these chaps hit like a truck(or is that a lorry?) and can take it in turn. I wasn’t able to get the Challenger starter box, or either of the older Charlies Chieftains boxes, so my army was made up of what was available in Canada at the time. I didn’t know until later that this was one of the stronger nations to play, that was an accident, I swear!

We all agreed to build up to 100 points, and to have that 100 point army painted and complete before the next time we saw each other. Without any further distractions, onto the pictures!

Your average British infantryman of 1985. Soldiering on with the L1A1, this model is actually superbly detailed for 15mm…

…with his webbing and equipment well defined and easy to see.

Four to a base, with specific weapons, usually three rifleman with anti-tank rockets, and a special weapon. This stand has instead replaced a rifleman with one with a radio, and the special weapon for an officer. This is the command stand.

The full platoon. This size force is usually your entire army in Bolt Action or other 28mm platoon level games, but here it is simply part of a larger formation.


Warrior IFV’s(Infantry Fighting Vehicle). This is a newer unit in Team Yankee, being rushed to the frontlines. These are solid, safe transports for the infantry. Three, the ones without the MILAN missile on top, are my troop transports, while the other two without are my MILAN Warrior Anti-Tank unit.

These are in scale with the infantry, and you can see how they might fit into the transport.

I’ve uparmored these Warriors, which isn’t correct for 1985-87 if this was a historical wargame, but being an alternate history of World War Three, I figured I could take the liberty. Also, it makes the vehicle much more survivable. In reality these kits I think first saw action in the UK contribution to the First Gulf War.

The MILAN anti-tank missile, fitted to the top of this Warrior. This gives me an additional anti-tank option. Again, I don’t believe this configuration saw real life use, as the British didn’t want their transport crews to get any funny ideas and try to kill a tank.

These cute little tanks are Scorpion Light Tanks. Traditionally used in the reconnaissance role, these guys let me expand my deployment area. They can also hammer enemy light vehicles, and maybe even kill a few!

These things are small! Armed with a 76mm cannon, these little tanks can be a nuisance.

Ah, finally, the real meat of this list. Five Challenger 1 main battle tanks. With the best armor in the game, these lads will survive almost anything coming their way, but will be heavily outnumbered in doing so. These are also up-armored with the ROMOR armor package, making them considerably more expensive but even more hard to kill. This package was first seen during the Gulf War, but I think they existed earlier; they just had no need to fit them.

You can see the size here! A solid mass of still to this day classified armor, they will be a serious threat to Ivan.

And, while completely ridiculous, we have on table artillery. While they shouldn’t even be on the battlefield, what with their massive range, that is an allowance to make it a game, not a simulation. In any event, these are MLRS platforms, and fire a scary barrage of rockets over a massive area. They will devastate anything under the template, but will not survive enemies who close in to kill them.

These platforms can be taken by the British, Americans, and the Germans! A NATO vehicle through and through. This should help even up the battle against waves of enemy BMPs and infantry.

And now we leave the realm of reality for fiction. These are Chieftain Marksman AA vehicles, armed with twin 35mm cannons firing at a rapid rate. While the system did exist, and was trialed, it was an entirely civilian venture, and was not adopted by the British Military. It was picked up by the Finnish later, who would put it on their T-55s, and later, Leopard 2s. In this timeline, it isn’t completely crazy to assume that a British government might see the need for such a vehicle…

A Resin, Metal, and Plastic kit. Not a nightmare to work with, but a serious pain in the butt. Still, I know my enemy loves Hinds, so this is an investment to prevent any “Ride of the Valkyries” shenanigans.

Conveniently, said kit came with the full plastic Chieftain kit, allowing me to make the normal Chieftain Main Battle Tank as well. These older tanks have the Stillbrew armor package; A measure meant to expand their service life. While my side armor is still thin on these guys, the main gun and frontal armor is very, very good for a 70’s era tank.

And the whole army. I’m quite happy with this, not an overwhelming amount to paint, and very sturdy, at least in armor. Morale with my small units could be an issue, however.

As my friends complete their armies, I’ll ask them if they are okay with me showing off their progress. While it will be a while before I can play, it’ll be a fun project. I’ve already learned a considerable amount about the last years of the Cold War, and painting…when the weather finally cooperates to allow me to prime, will be a blast. Except for the infantry, in their fancy DPM uniforms. Almost makes me want to play the Warsaw Pact!

In any event, I didn’t stop here, as that would be an intelligent option. I also picked up another book, for cheap, on eBay. Reading it gave me an idea for another force…

Oh boy! More tanks!

As the weather is downright miserable in Canada(at least my little corner of it.), I’ll be cracking on with assembling this second army. A few clues to what it is. Firstly, it is in the Free Nations book. And secondly, I will be posting progress pictures on April 25th. If you got a guess lemme know! You won’t win anything, but it will be slightly amusing! I’ll see you guys then.

As always, Happy War-gaming, wherever in the world you might be! And, stay safe everyone. May not be 1985, but we still got a crisis to worry about. Take care!