Tag Archives: World War II


I logged into my Flickr account, tonight, which is something I haven’t done in a long time. While I was on the site, I stumbled across PhotosNormandie in my contact list. PhotosNormandie is a resource I had totally forgotten about. It is a sprawling photographic archive from the Normandy campaigns of ’44-’45.


It’s quite useful as a reference for terrain, building, equipment, and uniform details. It’s also great as a stark reminder of the reality which we attempt to game. Anyway, go have a look, if you’re interested in the campaign-you’re bound to see some interesting photographs (many of which are extremely good photographs, to boot).


Cards for I Ain’t Been Shot, Mum 3


Just a note to say that I’ve updated this card set on 3/3/2014 to include a teabreak card, plus a few tokens for shock, pinned, suppressed, and overwatch. I think they’re actually fully functional, now.


Wow, it’s been a while!

I recently completed a set of custom cards for I Ain’t Been Shot, Mum 3 and I’m sharing them with anyone who would care to download them.  These cards will provide you with all you need for Scenario Three in the main rule book: Action at Galmanche.

This is what they look like...

This is what they look like…

Here’s a dropbox link to the cards.
The cards are meant to be printed out on 8.5″x11″ paper, although there’s enough white space surrounding the graphics that you should be able to print them full size on a4 or a5 (or whatever the near-equivalent of US letter size is). I’d suggest printing on a nice light card stock. The first page in the binder will provide you with a generic card back. The other pages contain the ‘working’ areas of the cards. There are 30 cards, in total.

If anyone uses these, I’d love to hear how they worked out for you, and what you felt they were good at and where you feel they lacked. I’m also happy to answer any questions. Enjoy!

A Diversion

A Slight Return

The local gaming club had a game day this past Saturday, and I had scheduled to play Avalon Hill’s 1978 (I think) board game of squad level infantry tactics, Squad Leader with my friend, Brendon. Now, Squad Leader is a game that I played solitaire (or at least set up) a hundred times when I was a young teenager, but the few times that I actually got to play the game back then invariably involved a cheating opponent. I won’t go into why that was the case, but, as you can imagine, it led to some very unsatisfying play. As I found out about girls, rock and roll, and other diversions my interest in super complicated war games waned, and even when I returned to geeky hobbies in my early 30s, my friends were more interested in RPGs and Eurogames than such manly forms of entertainment as Squad Leader.

Suffice it to say, I was stoked to get to return to a game I was once thoroughly obsessed with. This time I would even get to play with an experienced, non-cheating, opponent!

The Guards Counterattack

The classic Squad Leader scenario, The Guards Counterattack

The above photo was lifted from Boardgamegeek, as I forgot to take my camera to our game. Brendon may do a write-up with his photos at a later date, and if he gets around to it, I will link here.

You’re looking at the first scenario from Squad Leader, The Guards Counterattack, which uses a half-board of a semi-urban nature. I believe the scenario is set in Stalingrad, though the board doesn’t much match the photos I’ve seen. The Germans (in blue) are on the defense, and, as you might suspect from the title, the Russians are on offense, with the goal of taking control of at least two of the stone buildings occupied by the Germans at the beginning of play. I believe the scenario is 5 (or maybe 7) turns long.

On the German left flank are stacks of PPSh-bearing Russian Guards units who are the most effective Reds on the board. The Guards have great morale and good firepower, but, being submachine-gun armed, don’t have a great range (2 hexes). There is one medium machine gun on the Soviet side. The standard Russian units that make up the rest of the force are inferior to their German counterparts, and the Russian leadership isn’t quite up to snuff with the Germans, either.

The German units are all standard infantry counters, though they are quite well outfitted with light machine guns, and even have a heavy and a medium MG in their order of battle. The Germans are, of course, quite well fortified in their multi-story stone buildings.

Learning the Rules

Squad Leader has complicated rules. Not as bad as Advanced Squad Leader, but, in their own right, they are complicated enough to make grown men weep. Thankfully, the rules are written so that they are learned in stages. You only have to read and digest a couple of pages of rules to play the first scenario (Guards Counterattack), and if you play that scenario a couple of times you will internalize the basics. As you move on through the rule books, new aspects of the game are addressed, and you play a scenario that allows you to put the new rules to use. I have to say, it’s an excellent way to go about digesting a complex and dense set of rules, and if you follow the written process, rules comprehension is quite manageable.

Of course, when I was 15, I really, really, really wanted to be using tanks, smoke, and starshells from the get-go. This made the process of learning Squad Leader near impossible.

Who Won, Already?

Guards Counterattack seems to be a well-balanced scenario. Our first game, I played the Germans and won quite handily. I spread out my German counters, and used the copious amount of LMGs to great effect. My opponent favors large stacks of troops for their combined firepower, but I think that concentrating your troops in that way is a dangerous strategy.

In Squad Leader an attack roll affects the entire target hex, and the combat table involves some insta-kill results. So, a lucky roll can eliminate a large number of your enemy if they’re bunched up. Spreading out your forces has a few drawbacks (particularly in close combat), but if you have good leadership and can maintain good lines, you can still combine firepower without the danger of losing a mega-stack to an unfortunate roll. To my great benefit, there were several instances were I rolled well and eliminated large stacks of Russians in the first game. In fact, I don’t think they ever made it into any of the objective buildings.

The second game, we switched sides, and I lost as the Russians. I was extremely aggressive with my Guards troops, which worked very well early in the scenario. I was able to storm into one of the objective buildings in the first turn, and after considerable close combat, I cleared it of German troops, taking a couple of valuable elite German leaders out in the process.

Unfortunately, I somewhat ignored my advice about large stacks, and pressed on, crossing an open street with my storm troops, all in the face of Wehrmacht MGs. In Squad Leader, MGs have this little thing called penetration, that allows them to affect multiple hexes in a continuous line of sight. I’ll just say that machine gun penetration is an easy way to lose five squads of elite Guards and the momentum and leave it at that.

Even with these casualties, the game went down to the wire, with a couple of key rolls in the last turn being the deciding factors. It was truly a tense and exciting bit of gaming, and I was thoroughly engaged the entire time.

In Conclusion

Now that my appetite has been whetted by our two games of SL, I’ve decided to buy into the game’s younger (and still in print) cousin, Advanced Squad Leader. I’ve ordered the ASL Starter Kit Three, and plan on using the game as a sort of stop-gap for my miniatures wargaming. I think it will be a good way to get some WW2 flavored tactical gaming in until I can find/make the time to actually get some miniatures painted. Who knows, perhaps the cultivating of ASL opponents will bear fruit for my miniatures gaming down the road.


Brendon was cool enough to do a photo-report of our Squad Leader game. You can find the AAR at his blog, What Am I Playing At.

A Dry Season

State of the Union

Well, the gaming drought continues due to the crushing workload of architecture school (insert whimpering sounds). After complaining, I’ll admit that I’m giving myself a four-hour break on Saturday to play Squad Leader with a friend at the local gaming club’s monthly game day. It’s been a long, long, (very long) time since I’ve played a game of Squad Leader, or any hex-and-chit wargame (unless Memoir ’44 or Command and Colors counts), and I’m really looking forward to it.

Current Events

I have managed to do a bit of reading here and there, though it’s not getting done at my usual rapacious pace. I finished up Frigates, Sloops, and Brigs, which was pretty darned awesome and launched into Balkoski’s Beyond the Beachhead: The 29th Infantry Division in Normandy. Balkoski’s book is the perfect resource for Skirmish Campaign’s Heroes of Omaha and Panzer Lehr, as it details the exploits of the US force covered in that game book and is written from the level of the blood and mud. The author did lots and lots of research from primary resources, which lends a lot of authenticity to the nitty-gritty perspective.

A chronicle of the 29th Division in WW2

I’m only about 50 pages in, but the book is clearly written, and has some great breakdowns of US infantry organization and small unit tactics. The narrative hasn’t reached actual combat, yet, but I suspect the quality will continue, or even improve. I get the impression that Balkoski fell in love with the 29th a bit, but I hope it won’t be to an annoyingly blinding degree.

In any case, if you’re considering playing the HOOPLA campaign book, Beyond the Beachhead is proving to be an essential companion piece. Unless the next 200 pages completely suck, in which case I’ll let you know!

Signing off for yet another night of drafting until I drool…

0.03 Mustering the Troops

Disclaimer: I did not start this blog at the same time I started my quest for wargameage. There is a temporal gap of around 1 month between the two events. You’re going to see some photos later that break through the 4th dimension and mix the near-current with the old. You are forewarned.

On with the posting…

Deciding on a Period

This was the easiest part of the hobby, so far. I picked WWII because the period has sustained my interest throughout my life, in books, film, and even computer games. It’s also the period I know best (well, I know dark ages/medieval pretty well, too, but I get plenty of that flavor from playing RPGs).

I think all the equipment and fluid movement of tanks and small units of infantry makes for really interesting tactical problems, as well.

Deciding on a Scale

I did a lot of research and soul-agonizing decision waffling over the question of what scale to use. I’ll boil down my reasoning and provide you, worthy reader, the salient points.


    + The small-scale allows for more realistic ranges for modern era.
    + Not as much detailed painting required at this scale.
    + Widely available (for example, Flames of War) miniatures.
    + I Ain’t Been Shot Mum seems to be aimed at this scale.
    – Difficult to paint if you do want to get a good level of detail.
    – Infantry mostly look like crap at this scale.
    – I might be tempted to play Flames of War.

28mm ——————–

    + Exquisite infantry miniatures by Artizan, Bolt Action, and Crusader.
    + Lots of opportunities for nice detail
    + Good availability of infantry models
    + Would work well for skirmish games, which is my primary interest.
    – The infantry miniatures are quite expensive.
    – Not much armor available at this scale.
    – What little armor is available is oh-my-God expensive.
    – Big! A 4’x6′ table just isn’t going to cover much territory.

20mm ——————–

    + 1/72 and 1/76 armor will work at this scale. Widely available!
    + 20mm plastic infantry have been produced for decades
    + Much less expensive than metal figures.
    + The metal miniatures (AB figures, mostly) in this scale are great.
    + Works well for skirmish gaming.
    + Could perhaps be stretched to do larger actions at 1:1.
    + Modern plastics are quite well sculpted.
    – Plastic?
    – 20mm isn’t quite large enough for distinctive facial features
    – 1/72 armor kits can be difficult to build (small parts)
    – Variety in sculpts limited within a particular manufacturer’s lineup

I eventually went with 20mm, because it best suited my primary goals: inexpensive and looks good. I’m not particularly advocating for the scale, though. The others certainly have their charms and might very well fit your needs.

Picking Troops

First, bookmark this. Done? Good.

I made my decision on what infantry to go with by looking at various threads on TMP and wandering through the immense forest of wargaming blogs (hello fellow trees). I wish I could say I made a rational choice, but I was in a hurry and was seduced by oh-so-sexy internet photographs, which, like all beautiful ephemeral things, led me astray.


These boxes of Valiant infantry were my first two purchases. They’re beautiful models, with great variety of poses, historically accurate kit, plenty of conversion opportunities with included heads and arms, and even some heavy weapons. They were easy to clean up, responded well to superglue, and a joy to paint. A completely painless experience.

—————HOWEVER (dum, dum, dum)————–

This is no optical illusion!

These US infantrymen are next to a couple of M4A2 Shermans from an Italeri Fast Build kit (which I’ll post about eventually). They look like Shriners that just got out of their little cars while on parade. Ok, it’s not that bad, but it vexes me, nonetheless.

I’ll primarily be gaming infantry actions, so my valiant Valiant’s aren’t often going to be in danger of trampling a tank. I can and will live with it, but I’m going to get even more annoyed when I have to pick up some troop types not included in these boxes. Guys with flamethrowers, for example.

In any case, the moral of this story is that before ordering infantry miniatures, you should definitely look at and use the handy-dandy miniature size comparison section on that wonderful website that you bookmarked just a moment ago.