Russian Civil War with Chain of Command

We had a quick and messy intro to the TooFatLardies’ Chain of Command/Through the Mud and the Blood WW1 hybrid today with my Russian Civil War figures. Chain is originally a WW2 platoon-level set of rules with some of the core rules based on the WW1 Mud & Blood rules we have been playing for several years, and in the December 2014 Christmas Special the Lardies closed the circle and provided an adaptation of Chain for the Great War, pulling rules out of M&B as needed to replace or supplement the basic Chain rules.

Our forces were as follows:
One short platoon of Bolshie Reds – four rifle sections of 7-10 men each, two Senior Leaders – who rolled hot for their Force Morale which was at 11 to start!

One short platoon of Whites, two Senior Leaders, three rifle sections of 7-10 men, 1 Maxim MMG with four crew, not as into this whole Civil War thing as the Reds with a Force Morale of only 8.

I hadn’t actually sat down to figure out the exact force balance on this particular force mix (TFL provide tools to do that, though) and we ignored the Support Points rules today and just ran with these basic forces, but it got us a good tight game with lots of back-and-forth until the White’s Force Morale collapsed to 0, so I think I was more or less right. Almost certainly too many Senior Leaders for either side at most stages of the RCW, but for an intro game I’m not fussed.

The first third of the game was all in the White’s favour; their Maxim deployed to fire down the village street and blotted out one Red rifle section single-handed, while two of the White rifle sections shot up, Pinned, and then close assaulted a Red rifle section that had pushed across main street and hunkered down in one of the hamlet’s houses but was isolated from any Red support.

The Whites had a string of dead Junior Leaders which pummelled their force morale, though, and pinned their Senior Leaders down acting as section commanders. The breaking point came when one White rifle section and the platoon Lt. launched a singledhanded close assault through the rear door of a house with a basically unsuppressed Red rifle section in it and got bashed all to hell, killing not a single Red and being thrown out into the open ground where irritated Reds quickly Pinned and then Routed them with close range rifle fire, killing the Lt in the process and routing the Whites with a FM of zero…

I’m absolutely certain we did a couple of things wrong, I know we missed rules and in some cases deliberately ignored them, but it was a good quick game and a great intro to CoC.

The Patrol Phase & Jump-Off Points are great, the Patrol Phase is much tenser and more tactical than the opening few moves of most games are, and JoPs mean less random wandering around the tabletop and more direct action!

The Command Dice mechanic isn’t as flavourful as M&B’s cards, but it’s quick and interesting, and often forces you to make difficult choices as to who to activate when. The actual Chain of Command Dice mechanic is also interesting but we didn’t use it much except to end the Turn and once to avoid a Force Morale check – there are more options for using Command Dice that we didn’t explore in this game.

I really like the fact that Chain has a Force Morale setup; sometimes in M&B it felt like you could feed men endlessly into the storm with just a bit of luck on clearing Suppression until everyone was dead. Not happening in Chain!

The actions/activations setup has been both clarified and expanded in Chain over M&B. Movement and fire, suppressive fire, and overwatch are all improved from M&B. The vehicle rules have had some expansion and clarification as well, especially with regards to Shock and vehicle morale.

For larger games, especially at conventions where I want to have two-four players per side I’ll probably stick with straight M&B, but for smaller games Chain/M&B (should we call it “Chain of Mud”?) is probably going to become my go-to system. I’m looking forward to more games and to getting to know the rules better!

Lead Painters League 7, Round Eight

Back to the Russian Civil War again this LPL round with some Copplestone 28mm Bolsheviks. I really like the whole Copplestone Back of Beyond range, even the “rank and file” infantry have loads of character and lots of really nice details.

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28mm Bolsheviks from Copplestone. Click for full size, as usual.

The tan background and khaki on the Bolshies gives this photo quite a nice sepia tone overall; that wasn’t really planned but looks good!

Lead Painters League 7, Round Five

Round Five of LPL7 was one of three Theme Rounds; this time the theme was “Historical Civil Wars”. This fits perfectly into my ongoing Russian Civil War project, and was one of the reasons I pushed myself to participate in this year’s LPL.

I pulled out some RCW figures that I’d finished very quickly and roughly, stripped them, and repainted them to a much, much higher standard. The main scene depicts a group of raiding Cossack cavalrymen coming around the corner of a village church to find the locals armed and waiting for them, with a big farm wagon pushed across the road as a barricade.

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Russian Civil War action – village militia vs Cossack raiders. Click for full size.

The local militia are Copplestone Castings Russian Partisan figures; they’re great figures loaded with character. I own twenty or thirty of these guys (at least two packs worth, maybe three, I’ve lost track!) and I have very few duplicate figures in that collection. I pulled out seven favourite poses to repaint for this scene. I painted them up as a mix of young men & old. The young men would likely be returned frontovik (Russian veterans of the Great War) or, if this is a Bolshevik militia, young radical Bolshies come out from the cities. There were rural militias for every political flavour of the Russian Civil War, and quite a lot of no distinct flavour at all — the “Greens”, who were either peasant militias formed for self-defence or anti-revolutionary bandits, depending on who was telling the story!

The Cossacks are from Brigade Games. Brigade’s Russian Civil War/WW1 in the East range doesn’t get as much attention as the Copplestone Back of Beyond ranges, but there are some lovely figures in that range, including these fairly recent Cossack cavalrymen. There’s a pack of regular riders with swords and slung rifles, and a command pack with officer, trumpeter and standard bearer; all six of these guys are from the regular Cossack pack. They’re very nice figures, a bit more fine-boned than the Copplestone figures but very compatible. The one downside to these Cossack figures is that some of the details are quite delicate, especially the sabres and scabbards.

By the time you read this my Round Six figures will be competing in the LPL; head over to the Lead Adventure Forum to see how they’re doing!

Lead Painters League 7, Round One

So Round One of Lead Adventure Forum’s Lead Painters League 7 (LPL7) painting contest has wrapped up. The (non-mandatory) bonus theme for this opening round was “Headquarters”, so I touched up some of my Russian Civil War White Russian figures from Brigade Games.

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My LPL7 Round One entry — a Russian Civil War White Russian colour party.

By the time this is posted the Whites will have won their round against a rather nice Second World War company HQ of French goumiers – North African colonial troops – and Round Two will have opened. You can check out the whole contest over on LAF. LPL7 is ten rounds long, so ten weeks. I’ve got Rounds One, Two & Three done and entered, but things are going to continue to be fairly quiet around here as I’m neck-deep in painting up Rounds Four through Ten!

When the Chinese met the train, a RCW game

In a cavalcade of firsts this Sunday, my (mostly) freshly-painted Chinese met their match in our new armed train, all being played on our new gaming mat, some 6′ by 9′ of fully flocked canvas drop cloth.

The game, a preview of Brian’s Trumpeter Salute convention game, was  the defense of a small Russian town by a combined White and Chinese force. Thankfully for the Whites, they had managed to scrounge up a field gun plus a machine gun. The wealthy Chinese warlord Wu Do also brought one along to the party. Facing against them were a large Red force, including the newly-built armed train and the armoured car.

Opening shot. Red armed train the back, Whites in the foreground. Chinese are out of shot to the left.

Due to a lot of luck, the Chinese ended up being the central troops in the game. They had lots of officers and their cards kept coming up, so they quickly occupied the central building and started taking fire. Another squad rushed up a hill, only to discover what happens when a HMG opens up on you when you cannot respond.

The maddest moment of the game came when Sean’s Reds cavalry attempted to run down the White field gun. The gun was right in the middle of town, which meant that his close assault was rudely interrupted by two squads of Chinese, including the Warlord’s aggressive Household troops. This did not end well for the Red cavalry, which were slaughtered to a man (and horse).

Red cavalry attempt to run down the White gun. Chinese infantry and Wu Do in the foreground.

By the end the train had done its job and had cleared a route into the town. We called it when it became clear that the Chinese would retreat (having no interest in defending this particular muddy bit of Russia to the death) and the Whites were too weak to hold back the largely untouched Red infantry (even if they couldn’t move due to bad card luck.)

(As usual, we used Through the Mud and Blood from Too Fat Lardies. An excellent rule set all ’round)

Updated M&B Russian Civil War Cards!

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’ve been rebuilding the entire deck of cards needed for Through the Mud & the Blood-powered Russian Civil War large skirmishes. I first made these cards back in November 2011, and after a year of use, we realized we’d wound up scribbling extra notes and other edits all over the cards we used, so I sat down and rebuilt the entire deck to incorporate the changes and edits we’d made while using the cards.

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You can download the 9-page 2.4Mb PDF here: M&B RCW Cards PDF

There are four pages for Reds and four for Whites, with ten Big Man cards per side, ten Command Initiative cards, a full set of the basic “National Characteristic” cards as laid out in the main M&B rules, and ten more Support or blank cards so you can customize your deck and add scenario-specific cards. The front page also has two Snifter and one Blank card per the main M&B rules, so one printing of all nine pages should give you everything you need for quite large M&B games.

Feedback in the comments, if you’re having problems, find a typo, or have ideas for the next edition of these cards!

Prepping for GottaCon 2013

In just under three weeks our local big convention kicks off – GottaCon 2013 is February 1st, 2nd & 3rd at the Pearkes Recreation Centre.

I’ll be running a Russian Civil War scenario, possibly with a Back of Beyond flavour. It’ll be a variant of my Even Whites Bleed Red scenario from last year’s Trumpeter Salute convention, mostly because I haven’t yet come up with a more entertaining title than that!

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I’ve got Red sailors, cavalry and more Red regular troopers on the painting bench as we speak, and some nice scenery bits to add to my existing Russian scenery. Now, to get off the computer and back to that painting bench!

How I Paint Russians

It seems “what colours do you use for WW1 Russian uniforms?” is one of those things that comes up again and again. I’ve been painting an awful lot of Russians (of various WW1/Russian Civil War flavours!) for a year or two now, and I’ve been asked for painting recipes in email, in comments here, and on forums. It’s time to do something I should have done months ago – write a flippin’ blog post that I can link people to, to save myself the trouble of typing the same thing out again and again…

I paint with Reaper Master Series paints, largely because they’re carried by my FLGS and the price point (especially when you buy in Triad sets) is better than GW or Vallejo. Reaper has this awesome web-gadget called the Power Palette that you can fire an image in, then extract the closest Master Series colours from. I scanned a couple of images from the Osprey Publishing RCW books and got the Power Palette to suggest a list of colours for me.

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A Russian Civil War Bolshevik infantry force.

I’ll add better shots of my painted figures eventually, but here’s my basic World War One/Russian Civil War Russian uniform recipe, all paints Reaper Master Series unless stated otherwise.
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Draft Versions of New M&B Cards

As I mentioned recently, I’ve been rebuilding my Russian Civil War cards for Through the Mud & the Blood over the last few weeks. I’ve finally got the revised versions of my existing Red & White Russian card sets for RCW to a point where I’m happy with them, so for a change of pace this evening I set out to design some cards for some of the other forces we’ll have available.

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Quickly assembled screenshots of draft M&B cards, some revised, some new.

Above, a quick screenshot of the current state of my cards. The Red Russian card has slightly changed background art; all the Big Man cards have a significantly changed layout with more information, and I’ve got a basic background for both British and Warlord Chinese forces! I have a small force of British in tropical kit, and late in 2012 my brother picked up a starter force of Warlord Chinese from Copplestone, which he promises to paint up one day.

One thing I’m not sure of: flag or star insignia for the Warlord Chinese forces? The flag fits in better with my other force cards, but the star works a bit better with text on top of it, as that black stripe on the flag really gets in the way of legible text. Opinions in comments below, please!

The British are also, of course, likely to be useful for other M&B folks, so I’ll get that set done up next, probably in February after GottaCon 2013, where I’ll be running an M&B-powered RCW game!

Rebuilding my RCW M&B Cards

As we’ve played Through the Mud & the Blood-powered Russian Civil War skirmishes over the past year or two (has it really been that long?) we’ve gradually tweaked and modified several of the custom cards we use. This has lead to a number of cards with pencilled notes all over them, a few blank cards re-purposed as hand-written replacements, and various other inelegant things, so I’m taking advantage of some post-Christmas quiet to begin rebuilding my custom card deck.

New cards in progress – new version in the top row, originals in the lower row.

I’m starting with the Big Man cards, which are by far the most common in an M&B game deck. I’ve removed the “Big Man” text, as it’s obvious without having to be pointed out every time. Command Radius has been joined by a reminder of how much a given BM can influence Fire/Melee die rolls, and there’s space for special abilities or whatever. I’ve also gotten rid of the “Big Man #x” text, as we found we were often ignoring it in favour of a simple pencilled number at the top of a card.

I’ll be adding some notes on the rules to many of other cards, especially Heroic Leader, Dynamic Commander and Friction, which often cause confusion. As well, I’m going to do up a series of “Troop Cards”, which will be quick reference cards for the players roughly the size of recipe cards, with basic details on the troop types, equipment and vehicles in their forces.