A Wargamer’s Guide to the Desert War 1940-1943 – Review

Daniel Mersey, a wargame author with an increasing number of publications, has written a few “Wargamer’s Guides”. Previous volumes have covered the Anglo Zulu Wars and the 1066 Norman Conquest. This volume covers North Africa and the Desert War between 1940 and 1943.

The book is paperback of 118 pages, published by Pen & Sword Military on 12 June 2017, ISBN: 9781473851085. It is one of the range of wargame books being published by Pen & Sword.

In many respects, I found this book a better “beginning wargames” book than Iain Dickie’s Wargaming on a Budget as it covers pretty much everything from figure size and model scale, through rules, and figures, and playing the game and setting scenarios.

The book contains six chapters:

  1. The Desert War – an overview of the war covering the early cumsy attempts of the Commonwealth and Italian forces, then the changes broiught about by the introduction of German firces and then lastly the American effect and concluding with Operation Torch and the collapse of the Afrika Korps
  2. Armies, Organization, and Equipment – covering, well, the armies, their organisation and equipment. A generalised discussion of the organisation of the four armies but with references to more detailed Order of Battle. A reasonable equipment list for wargamers is also supplied. There is also a general painting guide for figures and vehicles here
  3. Wargaming the Campaign – it is what is says
  4. Choosing Your Rules – a summary of a number of rules, including: Battlegroup; Blitzkrieg Commander; Bolt Action; Chain of Command; Crossfire; Desert Rats; Flames of War; Iron Cross; KISS Rommel; Operation Squad; Panzer Korps; and Rapid Fire
  5. Choosing Your Models – a look at some of the main manufacturers in various scales including manufacturers of 28mm, 20mm, 15mm, 10/12mm and 6mm. This chapter also discusses scale for each of those figure sizes
  6. Scenarios – setting up some battles to get a feel of the desert war

There is also an index and a list of titles for further reading.

Mersey relies on previous authors’ works as well, such as Don Featherstone, which is not a bad thing.

The book also has a number of colour plates illustrating the subject in the figure sizes of 28mm, 15mm and 6mm. Many of the colour plates are from the Perry Twins.

Being a wargamer and having grown up on stories of the Rats of Tobruk and el Alamein, I have always had an interest in the Desert War. That it was in the first half of the Second World War when the equipment was being developed that would later be used and characterise the late war was  a bonus. Who can not fail to admire the Italians in their tiny tanks or groan at the number of breakdowns of the early cruiser tanks and then marvel at the later Lee/Grant tanks.

This is a volume that should be on any wargamer’s bookshelf. Even now, I am about to post this review, make a coffee and sit in my favourite reading chair and flick through this book again, planning my next Desert War project. Will it be Chain of Command and 28mm or more 6mm and Blitzkrieg Commander? Perhaps even 2mm this time.

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Warmaster Figures and Other Stuff For Sale on eBay

I decided to clear out my Warhamster stuff and have been listing items on eBay along with the Kallistra 12mm fantasy and the Courier magazine. These items are up until Monday next (Oz time, Sunday night US time, goodness knows when Hawaii time).

There are also some Warrior 15mm ACW figures and some CinC 1/285 Japanese tanks.

Look for seller thomo_the_lost on eBay

Or look here for a list Thomo’s eBay listings

Auctions end early next week

 

What’s Under the House — 2

I have done some sorting and organising so a brief update:

Item Comment
Egyptian and Sea Peoples – 1/1200 Langton boats Sold to Seattle and currently winging their way across the Pacific … or at least on the way to the airport to start the journey
Philistines – 15mm Essex – DBMM sized army Traded with Doug for the start of my Thirty Years War project
Ptolemaic Successors – 15mm Museum – DBMM sized army Will put these up on eBay tomorrow – I just can’t and don’t like them any more
Minoan and Mycenaean Greeks – 15mm Chariot Miniatures – DBMM sized army These are truly lovely figures but with one exception (possibly) I want to concentrate my large army ancient wargaming in the Classical and Dark Age periods. I’ve found a home for these though
Seleucid Successors – 15mm Essex – DBMM sized army I like these and so am returning them to the lead pile
Bactrian Greeks – 15mm Essex – DBMM sized army Classical and I like them a lot as well – I’ll write them up later but in the meantime, they will be returned to the lead pile
WW1 Austrian Naval fleet – 1/3000 Navwar – the full fleet Returned to the lead pile – they are ships after all. Will write this up later too
WW2 Matapan – 1/3000 Navwar – both fleets The British and Italian fleets from the Battle of Matapan. Returned to the lead pile
WW2 British Pacific Fleet – 1/3000 Navwar – the whole kit and caboodle A fine collection of a lot of ships and the largest number of British carriers ever – returned to the lead pile
Warmaster Empire Fantasy – 10mm Games Workshop – very large collection Still deciding what to do with these but likely will start eBaying items from it … watch this space … or the space above
Kallistra/Pendraken Fantasy – 10mm Fantasy, a lot of figures The barbarians are now homed with Doug and hopefully he may find a home for the Ratmen

So, that’s where we are up to. Next post will be as I consider the army for increasingly misnamed DeBAKLe 2013, on in February 2014. After which, more of the lead pile and then, a summary of 2013 and a plan for 2014!

RJW and Pendraken Search Results

Over the last couple of days I had another couple of search results from within Thomo’s Hole that were unsuccessful. However, both of these should have returned something, especially from a wargamers blog. The two search terms were:

  • “pendraken miniatures” which was searched twice
  • “rjw miniatures” which was searched yesterday

Let’s take the second search first. It tells me someone was searching Thomo’s Hole for information about the Russian Japanese War, especially, I would guess, from the point of view of a wargamer and looking for figures to represent the troops in that war. The only thing not specified is whether or not the searcher was looking for miniatures or vessels and in what scale.

This leads nicely into the other search term, “pendraken miniatures”. Pendraken is an English manufacturer of wargame figures, principally in 10mm scale. More on that shortly but if you are hunting for them, they have a very good mail order service and their website is at Pendraken Miniatures.

RJW Ships

There are a few manufacturers of ships used for wargaming the Russian Japanese War. The three most common scales for this are 1/6000th, 1/3000th and 1/1200th (there are also some vessels in 1/2400th but I am not so familiar with those.

1/6000th

Figurehead/Hallmark are a range of 1/6000th vessels with all the vessels necessary to refight the Battle of Tsushima. They can be purchased from Magister Militum in the UK or from Strange Cargo Games in the US

1/3000th

Navwar do a range of the vessels needed for the Russian Japanese War in 1/3000th scale. They have a Battle of Tsushima pack which contains the surface vessels for this battle. Also look under “Naval Vessels” under 1:3000 scale on their website for individual vessels. Note that they do not have online ordering – but telephone and send a fax, they are very efficient servicing mail orders.

War Times Journal (WTJ) do the best 1/3000th ships I have ever seen and cover this conflict very well. Again, Jim is a gentleman to deal with and his mail order is efficient and reliable. See his WTJ Game Store 1 for details. He also has painting guides in there.

1/2400th

Viking Forge have a range of pre-dreadnought vessels suitable for Russian Japanese War battles in their range. I’ve not seen any personally but indications from the pictures on the website indicate that they are quite reasonable castings.

1/1200th

Alnavco have some vessels available, especially for the Japanese, in 1/1250th scale in the Navis Range – see the link to the sidebar of the Alnavco website for World War I vessels. These are expensive though, I must admit.

Houstons Ships were, for many years, the only vessels available and their scale is a little, shall we say, elastic. It is generally around 1/1000th scale and Great Endeavours sells the Houston Ships line.

RJW Miniatures

There are a few manufacturers are figures suitable for wargaming the Russian Japanese War. These vary in scale size from 2mm up to 28mm and are discussed by section below.

2mm

Irregular Miniatures – http://www.irregularminiatures.co.uk/ – select 2mm from the bottom of the screen. Whilst there is no specific Russian Japanese War range, it is possible with this diminutive figures to build both armies fairly completely and quickly using a mix of the Horse and Musket Infantry and Cavalry blocks mixed in with some of the 20th century artillery. Their Mail Order is simply superb as well – one of the best firms I have dealt with.

10mm

Pendraken – http://www.pendraken.co.uk/sub%20page/russjap.htm – basic figures – Russian Infantry and Artillery, Japanese Infantry, Artillery and Hotchkiss Machineguns.

15mm

Irregular Miniatures – http://www.irregularminiatures.co.uk/ – select 15mm from the bottom of the screen then look for Riussian Japanese War – a fairly extensive range of Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery and such, including figures from other ranges that are suitable. Note also that Irregular provides the figures for both Russian and Japanese forces circa 1880. They also offer army deals for a discount on some figures purchases. I can unreservedly recommend their mail order service – it is just brilliant.

20mm

Spencer Smith miniatures offers a range of figures for this conflict manufactured by Jacklex Figures – see the Spencer Smith website for information. This is a range of Infantry and Cavalry for both the Japanese and the Russians.

OK, so there is a roundup of some of the figures and vessels for wargaming the Russian Japanese War. My favourites, amongst that lot, are really the ships from WTJ – they are quite the best I have ever seen, even though I own a large collection of Navwar vessels.

I’ve not gamed any part of the RJW land battles (Mukden etc) so can’t really comment much on what is available as far as figures go. I hope this helps as a good starter however.

Small Scale Figures – A Great Blog

I don’t often promote other blogs here – rather, I leave them in the sidebar as a link for folks to explore and enjoy at their will. However, today I came across a great blog and so I am going to mention it here as a post.

The blog is called SteelonSandBlog, and is a blog concentrating on one gamer’s efforts and interests in, well, small scale figures. These are figures in 2mm, 6mm, 10mm scale as well as 1/3000th and 1/1200th and 1/300th (5-6mm) scale.

If you are a wargamer, especially into the smaller scales, then this blog is quite inspirational. His posts are articulate and his photos are great, especially given that some of the content is 2mm in height.

One of his projects has a real appeal to those of use that enjoy pre-dreadnought naval wargaming. He has decided to refight the Boxer Rebellion … but at sea. Follow the 55 Days at Sea link and remember to read from the bottom post to the top (oldest to newest).

A highly recommended site.

Blitzkreig Commander, Cold War Commander

I have had  Blitzkreig Commander for a while now and I quite like those rules. I have some Skytrex 1/200th scale vehicles and figures for this by have not got around to acutally doing anything with them yet. On the strength of the Blitzkreig Commander rules, however, I have also decided to get a copy of Cold War Commander. Guess what I’ll be doing when I get the Victorian Science Fiction project finished?