Tuesday, July 14, 2020

A great bit of 'myth busting'

I really enjoy good authorship and research that busts popularly held myths. In that vein some years ago good friend Pete lent me a couple of books by American researcher Walter S Dunn on the Soviet army in world war 2. Over the Covid lockdown I ordered a couple of those books to add to my own library:


Stalin's Keys to Victory: The Rebirth of the Red Army in World War II (Stackpole Military History Series)

Dunn has researched meticulously over the years, using original Soviet sources, and German sources, amongst others. He notes that often the German intelligence view was very close to that confirmed by the Soviet sources.

Dunn presents a mass of data that explodes many of the myths which I have to admit to having previously held. I'll describe one area in particular to make the point.

It os commonly held that by 1944/45 the Soviet Union was running out of manpower. Dunn uses population data to show that in fact the opposite was true. He shows that birth rates post civil war rose significantly, and health outcomes also improved. This meant that the Soviet Union was in fact able to mobilise up to 2 million men each year to add to its armed forces. The final wartime conscription 'classes were the biggest of the entire war.

What's more, the total armed forces deployed on the eastern front were maintained at over 6 million right through 1943 to 1945.  This is not to downplay the huge cost in lives that was the eastern front, but the myth of human wave attacks overcoming the staunch German defence simply do not stack up. This may have been the case in 1941, and possibly at times into 1942, as the Soviet Union worked to re-establish its economy and supply the armed forces with the weapons that they needed. 

Dunn describes the reductions in size of rifle divisions, something that others have held up as proof that recruitment was difficult. In fact, rifle companies were reduced in size and support units are expanded. Armour, artillery, tank destroyer, and self propelled gun, units are an ever greater part of the Soviet forces. The Soviet Union places ever greater numbers of automatic weapons in the hands of fewer troops so that firepower and combat effectiveness are not compromised.

There are many other old myths exposed by Dunn's work. He shows that by 1943 the Soviet Union had effectively won the economic war, the war of production, this coinciding with the Soviet command structures finally maturing to the point where Russian forces were capable of breaking the German line anywhere they chose.

This is good stuff, although Dunn's writing style can be repetitive, and the sheer volume of data is mind boggling at times. I don't normally buy non-fiction books in soft cover, but the hard back editions are a little pricier than I can afford. That said, I am glad I bought these. There are another few Dunn books that I think I'll invest in too.

This is a great bit of myth busting, based on solid reliable data (if the bibliographies are anything to go by). There's nothing better.

Those Weird World war 1 types acquire an airboat

I haven't been getting to much hobby stuff done lately, a combination of factors involving work, and the Covid situation. A year or so ago I bought the Airfix Be2c kit for use as an Airboat for the HotT (Hordes of the Things) Weird World War 1 army.

I hav missed the creativity that HotT allows in the construction of armies, and so this turned out to be a nice reconnection with some of those skills.

It was nice to reconnect wth a little kit bashing, although biplanes etc are often not that easy to assemble. The army is still a few points away from completion at 72 army points, the size for Big Battle HotT, so there is a little incentive there to finish this one too.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Kings of War v3.0 .. a first game.

No creative narratives here.. this was a 1500 point Kings of War game that Andy and I fought last night. We used 1500 points each, playing a loot based scenario. I used my Empires of Dust army, Andy his Kingdoms of Men army.

The armies face off... KoM on the left, Empire of Dust on the right

Andy's right flank Knights, supported by a regiment of archers

Reanimated behemoth in the EoD ;lines, a Desert Swarm regiment on the left
EoD spear horde held the centre, a regiment of Mummies on the right

The humans approach the EoD right held by a regiment of spear, and a regiment of Enslaved Guardians. The knights are making their way though the difficult terrain (lava flows)

Table top view as the knights approach the EoD right flank

Meanwhile on the left, the knights move around the woods. An EoD Warrior regiment supported by a second reanimated behemoth move to protect the army flank. A swarm regiment advances towards the archers

The knights charge in against the EoD right - an impeded charge

The spear regiment holds, allowing the enslaved guardians to swing onto the knights' flank

The EoD manage to get the reanimated behemoth ahead of the warriors to take the brunt of the charge which they know is coming

The threat against the EoD right is removed with the elimination of the attacking knight regiment

Now the EoD right moves to attack the supporting archers

The knights charge in against the EoD left flank

Meanwhile the enslaved guardians and a spear regiment attack the archers on the right.. again an impeded charge for the EoD units, charging through the lava flows

The centres clash - the spear horde take on a regiment of foot guard and a regiment of pike. Already lost to the humans has been a unit of foot guard on the right of the photo.. the reanimated behemoth has already advanced

The Swarm attack the archers - the aim is to keep the archers out of the action

The left flank warriors on the EoD left now join the reanimated behemoth in action against the knights Add caption

The archers eliminate the swarm
And the foot guard and pike eliminate the EoD Spear horde .. ouch

The knights attacking the EoD left are eliminated

The battle is lost, as the humans have few units left. their centre has been rolled up by the flanking Mummy and Reanimated Behemoth units. This was out first game with Kings of War v3.0. There are several rules mechanisms that we either got wrong, or which simple don't quite make sense... but we'll ask those more in the know, and see what we discover.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

In the shadow of the bald mountains..

To the Honourable Gentlemen of Horseguards
Your Lordships

Following our defeat of the dreadful horde of the Spider God, I advanced my forces slowly through the jungles of Guayabo. So traumatised were many of our men at the horrors they had faced that I determined to adopt more caution than I might otherwise have done, such was my concern for their state and the need to have them ready to confront any and all dangers that may lay ahead.

We pushed ahead through the jungles and found ourselves facing a mountain barrier peculiarly bare of all plant life of any shape or form, bald as a coot some might say. We navigated a pass through the mountain barrier, and as we descended from this bare mountain a sight of even greater terror confronted us.

Laying at our feet was a land of fire, a land across which the stench of sulphur barely disguised such malodorous waftings as made a man gag at every breath. Fire and molten rock belched from the ground and ran as a river across the landscape. Arrayed there across this desolate landscape were creatures yet more hideous than the spider horde that we had so recently confronted, protecting a piece of machinery guaranteed to put ice in a mans veins. For there we saw seemingly dead creatures feeding human heads into a roaring furnace, the purpose of which we could only guess.

Caruthers faces the Undead

The great steam powered behemoth supports Caruthers' line

The Undead army arrayed ready and waiting ... the Undead camp, the 'Furnace of tormented souls', in the foreground

The Undead advance past rivers of lava

Zombie beasts and humans

A giant bone dragon behemoth

The British artillery opens fire on a unit of undead dog beasts

A 2 and a 6 signal the demise of the beasts

Caruthers' Airboat attacks a unit of skeleton archers on the right flank of the Unded

The arcbers are recoiled back

The lines clash

The airboat of recoiled by shooting, and the steam robot is recoiled

However one of the two units of 'Grim Reapers' (blades) is destroyed by the British lancers
I found myself confronted by a most hideous opponent, a group of zombies the like of which one only ever reads of from the imagination  of Mary Shelly or Brahm Stoker. They came at us, moaning as they shambled forward.

Caruthers attacked by a zombie horde, first withstanding a magic attack from the Undead necromancer

The British artillery keeps up its fire on the remaining unit of beatss
 At tis sage, it was as if the very terror of the mind and the heart had froZen my troops iN place, so reluctant were they to atTack the enemy. (Both armies were plagued by a series of 1s as PIP dice)

The beasts attack the artillery battery, riding ti down and tearing the crew limb from limb. They are however prevented from attacking Caruthers as they are pinned in place by a unit of shooters.

The tussle continues

A nit of British Yeomanry (Riders) move across to support the shooters against the beasts

Caruthers withstands yet more magic attacks, but destroys the second of the two zombie hordes

Freed form any immediate threat, Caruthers comes across to support a unit of his infantry (blades) who have been battling it out against he Undead Hero general. The riders and shooters have meanwhile manoeuvred to attack the beasts (top of the photo)

The beasts are destroyed

The battle against the Unbdead Hero general is finished with a 1 vs 6 die toll

Magic has driven the steam robot back, but it's too late.. victory goes to Caruthers
And so it was, Gentlemen, that having fought and. brought down ambling human zombies, and withstood terrifying magic attacks, the Undead foe disappeared form in front of us, seemingly collapsing in a shower of dust and fragments before our very eyes.

As we advanced across the now almost empty landscape so we approached the enemy camp. Our worst fears, our very nightmares, came to life as we realised that this evil place had indeed been one of torment as human heads had been fed into a furnace, as if to condemn their souls to eternal torment.

We shall carry to our own graves the memory and the terror of these sights laid plain before our eyes at the feet of those bare mountains.

I remain, Sirs, your most obedient servant
Major General Sir Chelmswood Reginald Augustus Piers Caruthers

This was the fifth solo battle I played (using the HotT .. Hordes of the Things - rules) chronicling Caruthers' campaign to take the land of Guayabo for the British Empire. The armies were each of 24 army points, created in 20mm.

The armies were as composed as follows:

British VSF force:
1 x Blade General (Caruthers)
2 x blade
2 x shooters
1 x knight
1 x Rider
1 x artillery
1 x airboat
1 x behemoth

Undead army:
1 x Hero General
1 x magician
1 x behemoth
2 x hordes
2 x blades
1 x shooter
2 x beasts

A great bit of 'myth busting'

I really enjoy good authorship and research that busts popularly held myths. In that vein some years ago good friend Pete lent me a couple o...