Octagons are not Hexagons or my DIY Games Workshop Lost Patrol tiles

Alan Tradgardland Gruber’s post on Skirmish Kokoda Trail rules from Lone Warrior magazine reminded me of a failed experiment of mine last summer.

Maths was never one of my strongpoints.

I have often found that drawing hexagons that interlink well is not easy either.

I found this out about twenty years ago trying to plan some hexes to make a D & D style random terrain jungle path to suit Donald Featherstone’s Close Wars forest skirmish rules in the Appendix to his first War Games book (1962).

These simple rules call for impenetrable forests and dead ends to paths etc. as Natives track down Troops in the cluttered terrain on the tabletop terrain, mostly collected from the garden.

My 2020 card and 2000 paper versions of hex lost patrol type tiles, these 2000 paper hex and square ones survived tucked inside the card ticket holder of my old branch library copy of War Games by Donald Featherstone.

Template tin lid, Sharpie pen for doodling jungle plants, ridged garden wire for stranglewort weeds
My DIY cardboard version of Lost Patrol hexes with green paint & Black Sharpie pen doodle forest

I discovered some interesting things.

Hexagons are not Octagons.

One of them has six sides.

I noticed too late that the toffee tin castle lid that I found at home, my sure-fire way to mark out rough draft cardboard hexagons, had on closer examination eight sides.

I was happily looking through the photo archive of original and DIY versions of Games Workshop’s Lost Patrol minigame (2000) on Board Games Geek. The game was reissued in a different form in 2016 and here is also a useful Skip the Rule book on YouTube video on the rules and tile placing in the 2016 re-release.

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/2268/lost-patrol

This difference between hexagons and octagons eventually explained why, as I tried to produce rough cardboard copy DIY version of the original tiles for Lost Patrol, that some curved path tiles and the ‘start’ clearing tile of six paths did not work for me. They did not copy across for some reason. It was admittedly quite late in the evening that I was roughing this out.

I wondered why it didn’t work.

One of my family pointed out that my cardboard tiles did not tessellate properly without square inserts. Hexagons should fit snugly together without gaps.

Featherstone’s Close Wars Appendix to his 1962 War Games that inspired my first hex attempts on tiny paper c. 1999 / 2000.

Maybe I would find the answer looking at my tiny flimsy paper hex versions from the year 2000?

Putting numbers on the paper hex tile edges meant that using a d6 dice roll could help to place the tiles for solo play at random. Throw one d6 for the connecting tile edge, another d6 for which of the newest tile sides is connected. And so your path randomly grows before the game or as you travel … d6 dice roll by d6 dice roll.

Fast forward to 2020: Late one evening a few weeks ago I decided to have another go at a random forest path of larger hex tiles.

I had been looking at the Solo Wargaming with Miniatures group on Facebook post on this attractive 3D DIY terrain hexes for Lost Patrol by Raymond Usher.

Raymond Usher’s solo 3D version of Lost Patrol

Obviously the attractive 3D terrain modelling would be more difficult to store than the original design of flat tiles but they looked very impressive.

Raymond Usher’s solo play ideas are very interesting including the random tile choosing tokens.

The interesting concealed enemy (originally ‘lurkers’) have the advantage that they can cross the jungle across country from tile to tile whereas troops need to stay on the paths, which are surrounded by impenetrable jungle forest.

The jungle grows around the troops and can even encircle them. Apparently it is very hard to survive and win in the original Lost Patrol game as the Marines.

Available secondhand online, Airfix Gurkhas along with the Australians, useful as jungle fighters?

The Lost Patrol type hex or octagon path could be easily adapted back from fantasy and futuristic sci-fi of “aliens and lurkers” back to other jungle encounters in colonial times, ImagiNations, Victorian and Interwar explorers or modern / WW2 jungle forces. This malicious forest has a strong fairy or folk tale feel to it.

The Original Lost Patrol rules by Jake Thornton 2000

Hulkskulker has posted the older unavailable Games Workshop rules for Lost Patrol (2000 version) online at the Trove.net – Copyright still belongs to Games Workshop https://thetrove.net/Books/Warhammer/40000/Tabletop/Dataslates%20&%20Supplements/Lost%20Patrol.pdf

Useful starter rules from Games Workshop’s Lost Patrol 2000 version game design / rules by Jake Thornton – reprinted by Hulkskulker on Trove.net

Looking at Board Game Geek, now that the GW 2000 Lost Patrol original is no longer available at sensible prices, there are lots of interesting DIY variations that people have posted including using hex tiles from other games like this urban warfare futuristic game.

One of the many variants using other game tiles – Board Game Geek is a great visual resource for games design.

Very helpful Board Game Geek photos showing original and DIY versions of Lost Patrol.

The Octagon and Hexagon thing aside, these tiles were ‘doodle relaxing’ to draw up as rough tile copies. They could hopefully pass for alien forests or earth jungles.

The original Lost Patrol had ensnaring Tangleweed tiles that you had to dice to escape from. I used ridged garden wire to create my own renamed ‘Snarewort’ tiles.

In the original 2000 Lost Patrol, lurking forces of spirits of the forest were represented by card markers, an idea which could be cheaply and easily adapted such as card markers for the forest Natives in Close Wars / French Indian Wars. Forest spirits? Spirit warriors or ghost soldiers (Thanks, Wargaming Pastor / Death Zapp! ) are another possibility. That’s why your troops should never camp on the old Indian burial ground …

The route out or victory and end condition for the troops is to make it to the crashed dropship and retrieve documents. They do not have to fight their way back anywhere in the original. Presumably they get zoomed somehow out of the situation.

Again the lure or target such as the ‘drop ship’ plans could be adapted to period – a rescue mission, rescuing plans or vital maps and secret documents from a lost wagon or appropriate era vehicle. Explorer figures would have to find the Jungle Temple artefact Indiana Jones style etc.

Like the random path, where will this idea go?

Who knows? I could add or insert 3D jungle elements to the square spacer tiles but again this is a challenge for storage.

First off, I will explore Raymond Usher’s solo wrgaming ideas, read through the original and simplify it to my level.

If it doesn’t work it has cost only cardboard, paint, some ink and some time. I will have relearnt again some basic geometry. Hexagons. octagons. One of these has six sides.

Hex-ctagons anyone?

Watch this space.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN August 2020 / 12 February 2021

B.P.S. Blog Post Script

The Lost Patrol is also a 1934 film which looks promising for games scenarios https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lost_Patrol_(1934_film)

Quick plot summary from IMDB, which also has some dramatic and stylish film posters for The Lost Patrol: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0025423/

A World War I British Army patrol is crossing the Mesopotomian desert when their commanding officer, the only one who knows their destination [and mission] is killed by the bullet of unseen bandits. The patrol’s sergeant keeps them heading north on the assumption that they will hit their brigade. They stop for the night at an oasis and awake the next morning to find their horses stolen, their sentry dead, the oasis surrounded and survival difficult.

Airfix WW2 1:32 figures 54mm Rerelease for Summer 2021

Childishly delighted to see that Airfix are rereleasing six boxes of their classic 1:32 / 54mm scale WW2 figures in Summer 2021 – maybe in time for the 80th anniversaries of WW2 events over the next few years?

https://www.airfix.com/uk-en/shop/new-for-2021.html

The 1960s beach buggy in 1:32 is available again – amphibious assault vehicle?

These classic 1:32 figures will be as welcome to military modellers, collectors and diorama makers as to 54mm Wargamers.

The 1:32 British Infantry set – different figures from the 1:72 scale ones

14 figure for £9.00 is a good deal these days, 64pence each compared to 8 Chintoys figures for £25 at £3 ish each, although Steve Weston Plastic Soldiers WW2 British are a very good deal.

64p each – Cheap joy! 1 Officer, 1 radioman, 12 infantry: The tactile shape of my childhood.

Some exciting skirmishes can be fought with Paratroops and Infantry.

Six sets of WW2 1:32 figures is a start. Thanks Airfix! What can we expect next?

Strangely there are no desert war figures – German British or Italians – for the 80th anniversary of the desert battles of 1941/42?

No Waterloo 1:32 figures? No Wild West ones? No Australians or the versatile Japanese figures for the anniversary of Pearl Harbor December 1941? No Russians for the 1941 Invasion of Russia anniversary?

Looking through the website now is like poring over the lovely Airfix catalogues of our youth.

1982! https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2019/09/07/warning-more-vintage-airfix-nostalgia/

The last release of 1:32 Airfix figures in the early 2010s are still around online and in some shops including British Infantry Heavy Weapons Support Set and German Mountain Troops.

There are no new releases in 1:72 just these classic figures for WW1 and a few still available for WW2, along with a lone Airfix Multipose German Infantry 1:32 starter set https://www.airfix.com/uk-en/shop/figures.html

The current 2021 available 1:72 range, some now sold out, as of 2021. Sold out on the Airfix.com shop but ‘view stockists’ available from model shops and online stockists.

Good starter figures for young gamers such as Tom the Wargamer on YouTube. https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2020/09/20/ww2-wargaming-on-a-budget-tom-the-wargamer-and-historical-wargaming-on-youtube/

Blog posted by the childishly delighted Mark Man of TIN, 8 January 2021

Unboxing the Blue Box of 1980s gaming figures time capsule – parts 1 to 3

If you missed any parts, here are links to all three posts about my Unboxing my Blue Box of drawers, my ‘bits and bobs’ box of 1980s figures that I unpacked, explored and sometimes finished off this week.

What lead mountains, unfinished projects, forgotten boxes or stockpiles of your own figures have you raided over these Lockdown weeks?

Part 1 – 1/300, hair-rollers and other scales and the background to these posts:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/04/08/unboxing-my-nineteen-eighties-figures-box-part-1/

Random 1/300 Ancients from Heroics and Ros

And Moderns – some Platoon 20 Falklands era 20mm metal samples

Part 2: mostly 1/300 and plastic OOHO

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/04/10/unboxing-my-blue-box-of-1980s-figures-time-capsule-part-2/

Some of the random Airfix and Esci figures tucked away – great figures for an ImagiNations game?
Some random bits and bobs in the Blue Box such as this RSA First Boer War related stamp.

Minifigs 15mm British Colonial Infantry c. 1879, finally based & flocked after 35 years!

Part 3: Mostly 15mm Peter Laing and other 15mm figures.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/04/11/unboxing-my-blue-box-of-1980s-gaming-figures-time-capsule-part-three/

Peter Laing 15mm ECW musketeers, again finally based after 35 years.

My Blue Box of drawers reminded me of Peter Laing’s casting room wall of drawers. Some of my figures could have come out of these marked boxes from these very photographs. F1, F2, F3 …

These are the vanished moulds … December 1982 Mil Mod interview

I remember that Peter Laing had walls of such drawer boxes to store his castings. This scan from this site saves me tracking down my copy of this December 1982 Mil Mod: http://www.deartonyblair.co.uk/2013/12/peter-laing-interview-from-1977.html

I was already buying from Peter by then so it was interesting to see the man behind the figures.

What were your favourite parts, figures or drawers in the Blue Box?

Already the White Company pikes are in place, a new unit finally finished after 35 years patient waiting for basing and arming. These will eventually join my other Laing ECW regiments in Really Useful Boxes. They are no longer ‘odds and ends’.

What next for the Blue Box figures?

The box’s contents should give me some dedicated “Blue Box days” painting or gaming with the limited resources that I have in the Box.

Some of the random solo figures may be “returned to unit” if more exist elsewhere, packed away in my collections.

With unlimited figures available online now, it is quite restrictively creative in a ‘Desert Island Discs’ scenario that this Blue Box is all that you have …

This used to be the same going on holiday as a child (and still today) where you can only take a really limited box of figures, so you had to choose very carefully!

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/07/portable-wargames-on-holiday/

The portable Wargames 1960s Airfix style in a tackle box (2016)

What if / Blue Box games?

What If this was my Desert Island Discs box, my ‘fire box’, if this Blue Box from my 1980s gaming were all that survived, I think there is enough interesting variety to scratch together some skirmish games.

If these were the only figures you had in the world, what fantastical ImagiNations games these would be.

There would be enough for some Ancients and WW2 1/300 games, some 15mm ECW and Marlburian era games and OO/HO or 1/72 Plastic and metal figure games from various manufacturers and several 19th and 20th Century periods.

In an era of too much choice, I sometimes do this Time Machine thing with vintage Airfix games restricting the figures selection to those boxes available from 1959 to 1969.

What have I learned from several days rummaging through the Blue Box?

I have enjoyed sorting through the mixed figures, sample figures, lost figures, revisiting past projects begun and unfinished, sample figures. Some may have been long forgotten swaps. Sometimes I have no idea or memory why these painted figures were left unbased and unused.

It tells me I am still the easily distracted “Wargames Butterfly” that I was as a childhood or teenage gamer, who just likes collecting toy soldiers. Nothing much has changed.

Some of the junk bits and bobs have quite strong memories attached, from Owzthat dice to parts of long vanished 70s games or bits of houses like the old lead wiring cover strips from my childhood home that I planned to include in castings for my Dad.

Lovely flags! Peter Laing 15mm ECW Standard bearers who should be back with their regiments …

I still like, collect and use the Peter Laing 15mm figures that I eventually focussed on, choosing these above the odd 15mm Mike’s Model samples and for some reason (money?) never went with the 15mm or 25mm Minifigs.

The metal figures were part of the ‘eye candy’ temptation of what I was seeing in the wargames and modelling magazines. Outside of Featherstone books, ‘grown up gamers’ in magazines didn’t seem to use plastic figures. Plastic figures were for kids.

The Platoon 20 metal 20mm “Moderns” samples were good but expensive compared to similar Airfix, Matchbox, Atlantic or Esci plastic figure. That us, if you could find them in stock at the time. I still like and still use these plastic figures.

Early to mid 80s Esci Colonials

There was obviously in the early to mid 1980s a lot of distracting new figures, scales and ranges around to explore and choose from, ranging from tiny 1/300 to 54mm figures. Nowadays there is even more distractions and choice …

1/300 offered such a lot of figures for such a little amount of money. Such a lot of little figures. 1/300 were maybe too tiny for the skirmish level small group or individual figure games that I enjoyed then and still do now. The simple Featherstone War Games 1962 rules and Close Wars appendix still does nicely for me!

What is missing in the Blue Box is much trace of 54mm figures and 54mm gaming. Thankfully a representative sample of some of these original heroic plastic figures from my childhood have survived, despite paring down and house moves, in a separate metal engineers suitcase. For obvious ‘safety’ reasons, Lead 54mm and home casts were just not around in the shops and toy boxes of my childhood, metal 54mm meant Britain’s Deetail with metal bases.

Make Do and Mend

It all fits very well into Ann Wycoff’s Immaterium Challenge for April 2020 of “Painting what you already own”, perfect for exploring what you already have stockpiled for such lockdown situations. https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/04/05/anns-immaterium-painting-challenge-april-2020/

I shall explore some more boxes over the coming weeks.

Mark Man of TIN April 2020

Desert Commando Raid on Wadi Yu Min 1941

Setting up the game board ready for Turn 1 …

Insertion points for different units of the raiding forces were chosen by dice throw from 5 possible routes (see map below) before the game started.

The desert commando forces and two desert jeep trucks Ragtag and Bobtail enter the area from the old airstrip (insertion point 4). The Yestershire Infantry to appear along the rail bridge in foreground (insertion point 5).

Briefing Map, Raid Aims and named personnel set out here:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/18/lrdg-demolition-briefing-map-and-games-scenario/

Defending NordAfrika Korps are stationed in unknown areas and in unknown strength around the area as per the scant reconnaissance briefing and aerial photographs

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/05/desert-raid-on-wadi-yu-min-briefing-map-1941/

What the Allied raiding forces do not know is how many NAK forces are stationed in the Station Halt building or that on Turn 7 (decided by 2d6) these troops are on standby, ready to be replaced by fresh incoming troops by train. They also do not know that Meyer, an ADC or adjutant to General Von Rimmel is visiting the Special Operations Section (tented area) for a status report.

What the NAK forces do not know is that they are about to be rudely awakened early one morning by a Commando raid. Only a few sentries and gun teams are posted, a few Aircrew busy at work …

First contact Turn 1

Allied elements appear on the board as darkness fades and dawn breaks in the North African desert.

Turn 1

“As the sun rose beyond on the desert hills, Schutzen Wache on sentry duty spotted a flurry of faded khaki rushing across the railway tracks along the bridge … he raised his rifle and fired some warning shots into the air. Achtung! Alarm! Alarm!”

Whilst the Commandos rapidly and silently capture two Aircrew / Groundcrew without alarm being raised, the sentry Sch. Wache by the Railway bridge does raise the alarm on seeing the Yestershire rifles crossing (d6 thrown to decide if alarm raised) with several rapid shots in the air.

The railway bridge proved a narrow pinchpoint for deploying Yestershire troops – a bunched target.

Private Hunt lobbed a grenade at the sentry but missed, as did the rifle fire of Mulvaney, Mahoney and Sgt Brittle.

Clumped together by the bridge, Privates Mahoney, Hunt and Sgt Brittle were all quickly caught in the LMG fire of the Halftrack (which is part trackless and under repair). Some of the first unlucky casualties of this desert raid.

The Allied View from the Bridge – a fleeing Sch. Wache the NAK sentry and deadly half track

The Desert Commandos rush the airfield to silence the air crew and armoured car.

Very quickly the Commando rifle fire and the LMGs on Ragtag and Bobtail, the two desert “jeep trucks” silences the two crew of the Armoured Car.

The PAK gun crew on cemetery ridge managed to knock out Ragtag killing its two crew Ptes. Marrion and Foster. Fortunately the demolition charges and explosives did not explode close to Bobtail, the other Jeep Truck.

First major disaster – Ragtag the Jeep Truck is hit by the Antitank Gun and its crew killed.

Turn 2

The NordAfrika Korps garrison was inside the station halt, awaiting relief by train (2d6 thrown to check: train will arrive with replacement troops on Turn 7). They rapidly deployed to the roof, their fire brings down Commando Private Hemingway who is heading down the flank of the station building.

Meyer, the visiting ADC / Adjutant to General Von Rimmel and air crew sheltered inside the barricaded station halt. A small group of NAK troops led by Haupt. (Captain) Fuchs set out to defend the airstrip.

The PAK gun engaged Bobtail the second Jeep Truck and knocked it out for two moves.

Private Grant of the Yestershires guns down the Half Track crewman, although sinister grey uniformed Klang takes over the LMG on the Half-track.

The view from the other Antitank gun dug in on the Hills above the railway halt

From this hill, the Antitank gun engages a group of Commandos at maximum range and kills Private Young and Scruby.

Gefreiter Weigmann was shot by Commando raid leader “Popsy”

Allied and NAK Casualties from melee and rifle fire from the station building roof.

Turn 3

The PAK gun engages the Yestershire HMG crew and wipes it out, killing the crew (Curry, Stonefeather, Blease).

In return, 2/Lt Hyde shoots with his pistol at Sch. Richter on the roof.

Turn 4

Lt. Bath, Cpl Ridley and RE Appleby recrew the Yestershire HMG.

LCpl Mitton is hit by fire from the rooftop NAK troops.

Turn 4 – The fight around the Half track – mysterious Feldwebel Klang in grey
Turn 4: Private Maitland the demolition expert lays the first timed charge – kaboom in Turn Ten!
The fight for the Half Track – its machine guns finally silenced.
Turn 4: After being knocked out for two moves, Bobtail finally roars into action, LMG rattling.

The fight around the oil tanks. Success for the NordAfrika Korps? Maitland may be gone but his time fuse remains!

Turn 5

Three Commandos (Ptes. Steinbeck, Gammage, Dickinson) felled by grenade from above as they try to break in to the Station Halt.

Turn 6

Demolition expert Pte Maitland is shot before he can lay any further charges.

In a deadly melee phase Pte Grant, Pte Faulkner and Capt Young and NAK Sch. Junge and Schroeder are killed.

Jeep Truck Bobtail is back in action, heading down the railway track towards the station. Its LMG hit Sch. Vogel on the station roof.

The Yestershire HMG crew brought down the troublesome PAK crew Sch. Beck and Roth at last.

Turn 6 – fierce and deadly melee as more Desert Commandos pitch into melee against NAK troops.

Turn 7

Train arrives with NAK reinforcements

Turn 8 – the view from the NAK gun emplacement on the hill, attacked by Pte Ortheris

Turn 8

Bobtail the Jeep Truck turns sharply and retreats down the track away from the train and all its reinforcements.

NordAfrika Korps – Reinforcements detrain in Turn 8

Meanwhile Sch. (Pte) Huber in melee and with rifle fire brings down Commando after Commando including the raid leader “Popsy” before Huber himself is brought down.

“Popsy” the Commando Raid leader is down – time to retreat?

The planned escape route with Bobtail the LRDG Jeep Truck just before … Bobtail disaster!

Turn 9

With Raid leader “Popsy” dead and Allied numbers dwindling in the face of fresh NAK reinforcements, it is clearly time to leave. Hopefully soon explosive charges will wreck the area.

Abandoning the heavy HMG, RE Pte Appleby, Corporal Ridley and 2/Lt Bath head to the bridge to hitch a ride out of the area on the Jeep Truck Bobtail, along with Ptes. Wallingford and Mulvaney.

Before they climb on board Bobtail the Jeep Truck, it is hit at long range by the NAK Antitank gun on the hill. Bobtail is destroyed, its gunner and driver Ptes. Gough and Smith are killed. Disaster – but at least their remaining mines and explosives do not explode, injuring the remaining Allied troops.

Elsewhere across the airfield, Commando radioman ‘Sparky’ Sissons calls for the far off retrieval teams to meet him at the pre-arranged desert rendezvous point. He quickly leaves with Ptes. Shepperd and Learoyd. Their two captured enemy Aircrew held for interrogation are tied up and gagged but left behind, alive.

As the last of the Yestershires and the Commandos disappear off on foot the way they came …

Turn 10

Boom! The first of the oil tanks goes up in flames.

Private Maitland is avenged.

At this point the Allied survivors melt away into the desert on foot. The explosion of the first tank sends the surviving NordAfrika Korps troops diving to the ground to avoid the flames and showers of stones and metal debris as one after another oil tanks explodes, damaging the track and the engine of the train.

The old biplane is toppled over, made further unserviceable. Warehouses and stores are damaged.

Despite the heavy losses, this first desert Commando raid achieved suitable disruption.

Boom! The retreating Allies see more smoke and hear several more explosions as they head quickly off into the desert heat as the sun gets higher in the sky. Time to find their rendezvous points.

Boom! The Yestershires have their packs of supplies, water and ammunition handy. The small commando group are not personally so well supplied until they reach prearranged supply dumps.

They will hopefully regroup and head home to base to be debriefed. However the Commandos failed to bring any prisoners back for interrogation or to discover the activities of the NAK Special Duties Unit. What was going on in the tent for example? What was Meyer, the ADC to General Rimmel, inspecting?

(Above) Allied Survivors of the Raid on Wadi Yu Min – a few Commandos and some Yestershire Regiment escape into the desert. Yestershire Regiment 2/Sub Lieutenant ‘Tubby’ Bath RNVR , Corporal Ridley, Privates Mulvaney, Wallingford and Shepperd. Commando Radioman Signaller ‘Sparky’ Sissons, Pte Learoyd and Mine detecting RE Private Appleby

Thanks to our Featherstone Personalised Wargaming approach the names of tiny combatants have been used throughout.

NordAfrika Korps survivors with Meyer, ADC to General Rimmel and a wrecked Bobtail LRDG jeep truck
NordAfrika Korps survivors named.
Casualties on both sides Raid of Wadi Yu Min
The Allied Casualties named

The NordAfrika Korps casualties named.

Reflection back on the game and rules

Playing solo, this game / scenario worked well enough.

The cluttered terrain amongst the oil tanks and aeroplane made shooting difficult for both sides.

The Commandos and Yestershire Regiment suffered consistently from a series of poor dice rolls throughout on Melee and Firing. No Featherstone Savings Throws in this game. They were given no extra modifiers in Melee or Firing for being Commando troops, opposing tough NordAfrika Korps troops.

Despite the first NAK Armoured Car crew being quickly knocked out, the two anti tank guns on the hill and the half-track LMG quickly did damage to the commando transport and troop numbers. Lots of lucky dice throws. Dealing with these high up entrenched gun positions created many problems for the raiders.

Naming characters does positively change the way you view this game and would be even more effective with a smaller number of troops. Playing both sides with a larger number of characters, it is harder to become attached or show favouritism to any one particular figure.

The element of silent surprise at the beginning needs to be worked on and developed.

In future raids I would include more explosives trained troops, as well as assign rifles and SMGs to those typical ‘useless’ Airfix non-combatant figures without firepower such as the grenade throwers, knife men, observers with only binoculars and gun crew etc.

I used Featherstone based simple WW2 rules from War Games and its Close Wars appendix but with scaled down firing ranges to suit my hexes:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/02/ww2-platoon-level-close-little-world-wars-rules

Some rules ideas to tinker and think through after rereading Featherstone’s Wargaming Airborne Operations and Wargaming Commando Operations.

There are some interesting commando raid games and rules on the Grid Based Wargaming website: https://gridbasedwargaming.blogspot.com/2020/01/st-nazaire-raid-deciding-rules.html

Overall a joyful outing for some classic Vintage Airfix from my childhood collection and from Tony Adams’ gift of figures earlier in the year. Figures who never thought they would fight (again).

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 18 January 2020.

LRDG Demolition Briefing Map and Games Scenario

Available forces for the reconnaissance and demolition mission: see below

LRDG – Briefing: Raid or Mission Aims

a) investigate increased enemy activity at the railway halt and old desert airstrip at the old oil prospecting camp, Wadi-Yu-Min.

b) put out of use any military or transport equipment, railway, bridges as appropriate

c) destroy stores

D) remove any interesting weaponry and documents of interest to Intelligence Officers, including captured service personnel for internment and interrogation.

‘Ragtag’ and ‘Bobtail’, two LRDG (D) modified desert extended jeep type trucks with additional external  fuel tanks, stowage and demolition equipment   – 2 LRDG (D) man crews with  LMG Bren Guns, pistols and rifle plus spotter / spare armed with pistol.

Being more small truck than jeep, several commandos can be carried by each ‘jeep truck’.

Note: Numbers with names are not their ages!

Ragtag’s crew of 2 – driver and LMG gunner Desert Commando Privates Foster (35) and Marrion (34) and Spotter Pte Sheppard (32)

Bobtail’s crew of 2 – driver and LMG gunner Desert Commando Privates Gough (36) and Smith (37)

img_2317

Desert Commando Section 1 LRDG – D

Officer Commanding Captain Younger (14) with pistol and commando knife

img_2318

Photo caption: Three plucky Desert Commandos pictured with HMG Section gunner Privates Curry (38) and Stonefeather (39) and spotter Lance Cpl. Blease (7) and LRDG-D Truck LMG teams.

20 Desert Commandos under two Officers (Hyde and Younger),  commanding 9 rifles and 4 SMGs from various regiments and the Royal Angrian Defence Force (West Africa) and technical teams.

2/Lieut. Hyde (40) with pistol,

Riflemen – Lance Cpl Kaufman (6), ‘Fluffy’ Mitton (9) Privates Fremantle (5), Hemingway (10), Faulkner (12), Learoyd (14), Chandler (18), Dangerfield (24), Clayton (33)

SMGs – Lance Corporal Maclean (8), Privates Young (17), Weller (20), Scruby (27)

Commando Technical teams include:

  1. Royal Signals Regiment operator with radio, Private Sissons (25)
  2. Small antitank weapon (Bazooka type) Private Chamberlin (26) and second crew member Private Dickinson (31)
  3. Royal Engineers Demolition expert Private Maitland (30) with detonator
  4. Two ‘grenadiers’ equipped with Mills Bombs and knives Privates Steinbeck (11) and Gammage (29)

Each of these ‘Technicals’ carries Commando knives and pistol.

Donald Featherstone’s Wargaming Commando Operations gives a good idea of weaponry that early raiding teams carried.

img_2316

Desert Forces: Yestershire Regiment Regulars with two officers with pistols, 10 riflemen under Sergeants Brittle (40) and Bland (2)

Officers Lieutenant ‘Paddy’ Camberley (1), and 2nd / Sub-Lieutenant ‘Tubby’ Bath (41), attached from RNVR

Riflemen – Sergeants Brittle (40) and Bland (2), Corporals Stone (3) and ‘Daisy’ Ridley (4) and Privates Pollock (13), Mulvaney (15) Ortheris (16), Grant (19), Mahoney (21), Wallingford (22),

Bombers / Grenadiers – Private Hunt (28).

1 HMG team of two gun crew Privates Curry (38) and Stonefeather (39) and spotter Lance Cpl Blease (7)

Royal Engineer Private Appleby (23) with mine detecting equipment and pistol.

Briefing Map

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/05/desert-raid-on-wadi-yu-min-briefing-map-1941/

Insertion points 1-5 for each team to be advised (chosen by d6).

Recon and Demolition Mission Reminders

Yestershire Regiment to be inserted close by truck and carrier, (off table) arriving into the area on foot. They will be carrying water, rations and ammunition in their packs.

Commando teams will be carrying no packs. Ragtag, Bobtail and the truck logistics teams carry extra explosives and detonators. They have also established several caches of survival supplies nearby with map refs to ensure that commando teams can escape on foot as needed.

A radioman signaller is present to keep links back to base teams for rescue and retrieval at prearranged points in the surrounding desert.

Reminders: Civilian casualties are to be avoided or minimised.

Local people may be present along with unarmed railway staff.

No blame for the raid should attributable to the local population by the enemy. Where possible, ‘Dummy’ maps and equipment to be deliberately left behind.

Enemy prisoners and technicians are to be disarmed, taken captive where possible and escorted back to base for interrogation.

The raid game is now played and the account of it can be found here: https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/18/desert-commando-raid-on-wadi-yu-min-1941/

Personalised Wargaming: What’s in a name?

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/09/featherstones-personalised-wargaming-in-the-desert/

John Curry noted in the reprint edition of Donald Featherstone’s Advanced Wargames that the list of names in the ‘Personalised Wargaming’ chapter included the names of various 1960s wargame opponents, illustrators and figure manufacturers – Russell Gammage of Rose Miniatures, Neville (Minifigs) Dickinson, Illustrator R.J. Marrion, Jack Scruby, Brigadier Peter Young, Roy Belmont-Maitland (Tradition) etc.

You also get a possible glimpse of Featherstone’s bookshelf of rugged literary tastes. Several others appear to be novelists or writers – Chandler, Faulkner, Hemingway. Others include ‘The Soldiers Three’ or ‘Three Musketeers’ characters in Rudyard Kipling’s tales of army life in India during the Raj, one of Featherstone’s colonial gamingn interests, Kipling’s alter ego Ortheris, Learoyd and Mulvaney.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learoyd,_Mulvaney_and_Ortheris

After introducing Learoyd and Mulvaney, when asked who the third musketeer was, Kipling reputedly said Ortheris (‘the Author is’).

Other bloggers who commented on my Personalised Wargaming blog post created their character names lists using the names of actors, politicians and war leaders (“See here, Private Johnson!” – insert name of …), film characters and ingeniously, villains from acquaintances (with names scrambled).

Airfix 54mm ‘Saints’ https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/donald-featherstones-centenary/

The ‘Saints’ Southampton FC teams of the mid to late 1950s to early 60s would be another such useful or appropriate Donald Featherstone inspired list of names to collate and choose from, as he was their team physiotherapist and wrote several books on sports, work and dance injuries.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Southampton_F.C._players

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN, 18 January 2020

More Desert Kit and Equipment from Scratch

These two Pound Store jeeps have been converted into Jeep ‘Trucks’ for my desert raiding Force. Extra stowage, fuel tanks, winches and spare (button) tyres came from what was to hand in the scraps box, in keeping with their pound store origins.

The old tiny version 1 Airfix as crew do look a little undersized – probably less so with version 2 Airfix which are slightly larger – but if you think of them as desert trucks like the old LRDG Chevrolets, it kind of works.

Jeep trucks, windscreens trimmed – with LMG crew in place in game and without, with crew.

Monday Update: Responding to comments (below), trimming the windscreen does work to rescale it. It was not easily possible to remove the whole windscreen thing.

Goggles and tiny windscreens on this LRDG Matchbox kit.

They started life in the pound store, a Christmas gift from a charity shop, the usual mismatch mixture of scales.

This shows how the jeeps started off. The Airfix Centurion China copy tanks would be in scale for the vintage OO HO Airfix figures.

Improvised oil tanks from toothpaste lids – reused, not recycled!

I wanted to mock up fast a desert storage facility at a railway yard / airfield. Something for Airfix Commandos to blow up. These party popper storage tanks (first conversion attempts) are a bit wonky, as cutting off the necks and inserting this down into the flimsy body did not work as cleanly as I wanted.

The mysterious tarpaulin covered or camouflaged shapes are offcut blocks of wood, wrapped in some light brown serviette tissues I found in a cafe and glued with PVA wood glue.

A few additional figures that might prove useful, so I have painted and rebased some useful figures.

Desert Arabs from the early Airfix set, painted about 40 years ago and rebased.

A few Airfix Luftwaffe ground crew make good train staff, aircraft mechanics and oil tanks staff.

A handy antitank gun from the Airfix ready made solid plastic vehicle range, the gun that accompanied the halftrack. A little surprise or an extra bit of protection for the facilities at Wadi Yu Min.

These all add some potential for these desert raid scenarios.

Blog posted by Mark, Man of TIN on 12 January 2020.

Featherstone’s Personalised Wargaming in the Desert

Vintage Airfix Privates named, Privates for Desert Army and Privates / Schutz in NordAfrika Korps

One idea I wanted to develop in my skirmish gaming is a more ‘personal’ or ‘personalised’ feel to small troop action.

Giving names to your ‘characters’ adds a different dimension to the nameless hordes of figures.

I use the names suggested in the chapter ‘Personalised Wargaming‘ of Donald Featherstone’s 1969 Advanced Wargames book, recently reprinted and available from John Curry’s History of Wargaming project.

Naming characters has worked really well for me with the snowballers and the Boy and Girl Scout Wide Games.

However it has meant fairly regular picking figures up to check who they are!

See more at: https://tabletopscoutingwidegames.wordpress.com

The Blue Hills Boys … all named in the game, reports and write ups.

Personalised “Ripping Yarns” write up of the game report.

“You, Vot ist your Name?” “Don’t tell him, Pike!”

When I ran out of names from the Featherstone list in Advanced Wargaming and Skirmish Wargaming, especially for the many Schutzen (Riflemen) privates commanded by General Von Rimmel in the NordAfrika Korps, I turned to Wikipedia’s common German surname list and the WW2 / modern rank lists for translations

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_most_common_surnames_in_Germany

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ranks_and_insignia_of_the_German_Army_(1935–1945)

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ranks_of_the_German_Bundeswehr

Vintage Airfix Afrika Korps – General Von Rimmel can be seen top left

Sch. Schwartz? / Pte Black?

I have marked all the bases with the English ranks. For Schutzen (Sch) read Private etc. If needed, many of the Germanic names have an English equivalent, if you were using the NordAfrika Korps for other non German / non WW2 ImagiNations games.

Private Scruby? Private Young? Private Marrion?

John Curry noticed that Featherstone’s names in his “Personalised Wargaming” chapter were friends, wargamers, illustrators, and figure manufacturers from the 1950s and 1960s.

I wonder if Sergeant Featherstone was putting Brigadier Peter Young in his place a little jokily by only having a Private Young amongst the named characters in his ‘Personalised Wargaming’ chapter?

“Her Privates We” – some of Featherstone’s named figures in Advanced Wargaming.

And Don Featherstone himself? Not on his own list but I do have of course on my extended names list and now on an Airfix figure the name of one Sergeant Stonefeather!

I wonder what experience any of you have had of ‘personalised‘ wargaming? Did it add to your gaming or detract from it?

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 9/10 January 2020.

“Weirdos and Misfits with odd skills” Wanted – No. 10, LRDG, SOE, Commandos, GCHQ and Bletchley Park

Dominic Cummings, some Tory Brexit politico adviser, in his blog set out a Churchillian request for hiring people to make No. 10 and the Civil Service (and his Brexit / post Brexit team) much less ” public school bluffers” and “Oxbridge English graduates”, more “misfits and weirdos“.

He writes: “We want to hire an unusual set of people with different skills and backgrounds to work in Downing Street with the best officials, some as spads (special advisers to ministers) and perhaps some as officials. If you are already an official and you read this blog and think you fit one of these categories, get in touch.” He says the categories he wants to recruit are:

  • Data scientists and software developers
  • Economists
  • Policy experts
  • Project managers
  • Communication experts
  • Junior researchers – “one of whom will also be my personal assistant”

Send your CV to Mr Cummings if you think this applies to you. You may only last a week, in our “hired and you’re fired” modern world, as instant dismissal is threatened, in which case you will no doubt be known as a “Cummings and Goings.”

Well intentioned and headline grabbing as it may be, the whole “weirdos and misfits” thing is a gift to cartoonists and satirists.

Oddly Mr. Cummings forgot to mention on his list: wargamers and “board game geeks”.

Not so long ago, top secret GCHQ was publicly looking for a more diverse modern workforce of “spooks” and “spies wanted

I am reminded of Churchill’s wartime request to “leave no stone unturned” to recruit the right people to staff Bletchley Park and SOE. Part of GCHQ’s ancestry, Bletchley recruited a strange team of debutantes, crossword puzzle champions, Post Office engineers, mathematicians, linguists and graduate oddities to break German cyphers.

Too busy to read? Just watch the cinema shorthand, myth-making movie versions of such an eccentric cast of characters: Robert Harris’ Enigma and the Imitation Game.

After meeting Alan Turing and his other eccentric colleagues at Bletchley Park, Winston Churchill reportedly said to MI6’s Stewart Menzies, “I know I told you to leave no stone unturned to find the necessary staff, but I didn’t mean you to take me so literally.”

Extraordinary jobs require unusual people. Polar explorer Ernest Shackleton would agree!

Which is why my mind straight way turned to SOE, inspired by Churchill “to set Europe ablaze”, Bletchley Park, inventive backroom boffins, the Commandos and the scruffy but tough and talented Long Range Desert Group. All the cast of Mr Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare as they were termed in a recent book title.

St Nazaire? See the inspiring terrain with the promise of vintage Airfix Commandos https://gridbasedwargaming.blogspot.com/2020/01/st-nazaire-raid-project-more-terrain.html

 

Such people and characters in small teams are perfect for small scale gaming scenarios.

Weirdos and Misfits wanted? Small teams of characters (figures) who can see what is going on in this gridded aerial reconnaissance photo and improvise a plan when it is not what it seems …

What can you see?

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/02/aerial-reconnaissance-photos-western-desert-1941/

 

As pointed out in my comment to the vintage Airfix inspired Tradgardmastre himself,

“Sketch map in preparation by Desert Air Force Intelligence Officers, ready to brief some scouting parties of LRDG (D) – D For Demolition.

This is a mixed bag made up of various disruptive elements from the Royal Angrian Defence Force from West Africa (Bronte ImagiNations), some men of the Yestershire Regiment (Man of TIN Imaginations), various other upper class desert traveller, novelist and travel writer misfits, and some Royal Engineers and Commandos in training.

Two tooled up long range fast Desert Jeeps called “Ragtag” and “Bobtail” (Pound Store finest) being prepared.”

Vintage 1960s Airfix LMG teams and modern China plastic tat playset jeeps.

So a quick bit of internet searching brought me to various LRDG websites, seeking the childhood memory of LRDG box lids of Tamiya and unavailable vintage Matchbox LRDG kits (oddly featured in January 2020 Airfix Model World).

https://www.scalemates.com/kits/matchbox-pk-173-lrdg-30cwt-chevrolet-willys-jeep–130346

So preparing my teams, here are the vintage Airfix LRDG and 8th Army desert teams:

Vintage Airfix OO HO 8th Army (version 1) from my childhood collection and Tony Adams’ gift

Vintage Airfix 1960s Commandos and crawling woolly hatted (version 1) 8th Army
OMG! Vintage Airfix SMG, LMG and HMG teams – Airfix Commandos & 1960s 8th Army

Research and further inspiration:

https://gridbasedwargaming.blogspot.com/2020/01/st-nazaire-raid-project-more-terrain.html

LRDG Preservation Society (Research and Reenactment) website http://www.lrdg.org

Combined Ops Website https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2019/12/01/man-of-tin-advent-calendar-day-1-the-greek-sacred-squadron-combined-ops-1940-to-1945-ww2

I’m doing Popski on the cheap with vintage Airfix, inspired by this article in Wargames Illustrated Infamous Squads issue November December 2019

Donald Featherstone ‘Wargaming Commando Operations’ http://www.wargaming.co/recreation/details/dflosttalesvol2.htm

Weirdos and Misfits – your country needs you!

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN on 3 January 2020

And finally for The Tradgardmastre on LRDG Buffs Film Club:

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053935/mediaviewer/rm2816642305

Aerial Reconnaissance Photos Western Desert 1941

Gridded aerial reconnaissance photo from one of our Aircraft. What can you see?

1941: Somewhere in the desert, North Africa

One of our plucky Reconnaissance pilots has noticed some enemy activity around one of the old railway halts on a tired old desert branch line that served a pre-war oil prospecting expedition and abandoned desert air strip.

Some building work and fresh build up of stores appear to be in progress.

Using the photos, a sketch map is quickly being prepared by the Intelligence Officers for some of the misfits in our LRDG (D) Long Range Desert Group (Demolition section) to scout it out and if necessary, “light it up” and disrupt the railway.

Civilians or service personnel may be present. Local people should not be attributable for blame or harmed due to LRDG (D) actions. Enemy personnel should be taken prisoner where possible for interrogation.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN 1 January 2020

B.P.S. Blog Post Script

Intelligence reports suggest that some armoured vehicles may be present and there is the possibility of concealed weapons pits.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2019/12/16/man-of-tin-blogvent-calendar-day-16-vintage-airfix-africa-korps-1962

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2019/12/21/that-vintage-airfix-afrika-korps-gun-1962