Thursday, July 29, 2021

Vietnam Terrain

Here are a few pics of some of the Vietnam terrain that I've been working on.  Just generic jungle filler thus far, with some Britannia figs for scale.

First are a few bamboo groves,  

Next up are more jungle foliage stands, I need to do maybe 5-6 more batches like this.

And an overall view of the latest batch of stuff:

I'll be working more on the rice paddies and palm tree stands this weekend.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Vietnam Reading: "The Greatest Beer Run Ever"

 As part of my recent immersion into Vietnam, I've Gone into a reading frenzy, and read several books about Vietnam over the last couple of weeks, including:

The Greatest Beer Run Ever by John "Chick"  Donohue and J.T. Molloy

This was recently recommended on the Fields of Fire Vietnam Gaming forum, and I'm glad that it was, as it is the most enjoyable thing that I've read lately.

It's about a civilian, a veteran Marine of the early 1960s, who after a meet with his buds at the local watering hole, takes on the challenge of chasing down the group's friends serving in Vietnam, taking them some choice beer, and letting them know that the people from the old neighborhood haven't forgotten them, and support them doing their duty.

The author shares his adventure,  a most ill-concieved beautiful thing,  as if he's sitting on the stool next to you telling his story.  He also shares his perspective from then and now, and maybe sums up the conflicted thoughts probably as well as anyone who's ever tried.

Whether you arrived here on purpose or just happened by, I'd definitely recommend you give this book a look.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

My Off Again, On Again Romance With Gaming the Vietnam War

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been working on various bits for my long neglected 20mm Vietnam gaming.  I guess it's about time that I've finally come back around to Vietnam, as the war ultimately had a big part in influencing my involvement in wargaming.  I grew up while the war was going on, and saw the evening news every night at dinner time with updates on the war, body counts, etc.

Vietnam put the idea of playing war front and center, reinforced by WWII movies, such as Battlground, Battle of the Bulge, and Kelly's Heroes.  The presence of Vietnam in the news and magazines eclipsed the influence of WWII and Korea (my Dad served there) such that  when someone spoke of a US soldier, in my mind, I saw a Vietnam era US GI.  That is still the first thing that comes to mind.

In high school, I began playing Heritage's Panzertroops with 1/72 scale WWII Airfix infantry and various armor kits.  Towards the end of high school, I got a copy of Mark Baker's Nam (the book scrutinized over its integrity and authenticity) and was intrigued by the idea of gaming Vietnam in miniature.

A year or so later, I went to my first game convention, and encountered my first Vietnam game, being played mostly by veterans of the war.  It was a haunting experience, both from the tinges of my own childhood fears about Vietnam, and even more so by the way the vets at the table were experiencing the game.  Their sense of urgency and intensity during the game was amazing to witness, their manner of play was exhilarating and intoxicating.

From there it took another year and a half before I found Firefight 20 figures from Breastplate Hobbies in Boardman, Ohio, and brought my first Vietnam game to life.  

My gaming group of the time put together a game inspired by the movie, Uncommon Valor, with Craig of Gaming Models building a prison camp as the centerpiece of the game, it was run at some the of the conventions around Ohio in the mid-1980s using one home-brew rules.

Craig's prison camp.
The roofs are removable, the towers have blown up tops for when 
they are rocketed, and the fence sections can be removed, 
when they are breached.

After relocating for a new job, my old Vietnam figs spent several years on the shelf, and then would make it to the table top only two more times after almost a decade passing, introducing the period to a retired Navy SEAL that I gamed with at the time.  In those games, the rest of us marveled at his amazing vision and understanding of small unit tactics, and he re-experienced a bit of the exhilaration of the fire fights he had been in over the years.

As a result, he quickly researched information about newer, higher quality figs, and once again I found myself painting figs and refining rules for Vietnam.  This time it was 20mm FAA figs, a very nice quality line, but more limited in scope than I would have liked.  We played some games, and he even ran a few games at local conventions.  After a few years, he relocated out of the area, taking his US troops and Vietnam gaming with him.

My third adventure in Vietnam gaming started in 2004/2005, when I purchased most of the Britannia 20mm Vietnam line from the Emperor's Outpost (?) at Historicon.  I didn't really get them painted until 2009, adding some terrain and other bits over the next year, but they've only made the tabletop in limited numbers a couple of times.  I added some figs in 2017 for a scheduled event that got cancelled, and since then, they have been collecting dust.

Recently, I've been going through old posts on the Fields of Fire discussion forum, and got the fire burning again for Vietnam.  The current forum is the latest iteration of a long the running iconic discussion forum, loaded with amazing stuff for Vietnam gamers.

I don't know if this still counts as round three or maybe more properly round four of 'Nam Gaming, but I'm having a blast working on many of the things that I never got around to before.  Over the last couple of weeks, I've finished a bunch of infantry status markers that I've needed for years, made some bamboo groves, started making rice patties, and another round of jungle foliage.  

Jungle growing on the table.  Jungle foliage is being mounted 
on white styrene plastic bases.  Mounted palm tree trunks (no fronds at
 the time of the photo) are standing in the upper left of the photos, 
bamboo groves to the right of the palms.

I've also done a ton of research for a variety of other 'Nam projects, including more hooches, bunkers, more figs, hilly or mountain terrain modules, streams, bridges, and ordered some kits to add more helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.  It has been a lot of fun. 

I'll be sharing some pics of the new work in the coming weeks.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Bull Rushed by the Red Hoard

A couple of weekends back, I got to see an old friend for the first time in about 18 months and we played a game.  Just a one-off meeting engagement in Cold War West Germany, late 1970s.  We just threw some stuff on the table and went at it. 

As the Americans, I had a platoon of M60A2s, and a mech. infantry company.  The Soviets had a company each of T64s, infantry in BMP1s, a platoon of recce BRDMs, and another platoon of BRDMs carrying AT-3 missiles.

Towards my end of the table, there was a rise, and I intended to get my infantry deployed, supported by the M60A2s, figuring that I could deploy my Dragon ATGMs, and hope for the best.

A view from the NATO end of the table

That didn't quite work out.  The Soviets almost made it across the table, before I could get the infantry deployed, and despite getting the first couple of kills, I simply got run over.  Trees blocked almost any chance of long shots, so the M60s never got to fire a missile, and the Dragons were horrible as they were firing at close range, and never even cracked a 50 percent chance of hit.

After my first couple of kills, my few hits mostly resulted in bounces, tracks, or dirt as I couldn't score the turret of hull down BMPs.  Meanwhile I lost three of the M60A2s, with number four tracked, a few M113s, plus had infantry casualties due to high explosive.  Not surprisingly, my morale didn't hold up.

A few turns later.

A better view of the Soviets on their way to Paris

I was running away as we came to a close.  Likely that almost all of the survivors would have been POWs. Only maybe three of the M113s might have gotten away with their occupants.

I didn't take many pics, as there wasn't much to take pics of.  Craig does have an amazing table that measures something like 6.5 feet by 14 feet.  Ugly as the battle was, I had a blast getting blasted to bits.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

28mm Post Apocalypse Shanty

Not much of a hobby day today, but finally finish up a post apoc shanty/shack/house.  It just needed the tarps and a little dust, so not much of an accomplishment, but at lest it is off the painting table:

I'm off tomorrow to play my first post-covid game, so hopefully will have a few pics of that to post in the next couple of days.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

The Mayor of New Clovis (Leadership in a Post Apocalypse Town)

New Clovis is one of the more successful cities in the Confederation.  The city is run by an elected Mayor, who is re-elected every five years to a new term.  He can't lose, given that nobody will run against him.

New Clovis was founded after the attack on Cannon Air Force Base resulted in destruction of the original city of Clovis.  The attack was initiated by the Republic of Texas, during the land grab that took place shortly after the United States started to dissolve.  The fighting involved forces of the US federal government, the Pacific States of America, and the RoT.  The New Mexico National Guard refused to be federalized and fought the Federal troops, who began a scorched earth campaign to deny benefit to both the PSA and the RoT advances, Unfortunately, the Federal campaign hurt the citizens of New Mexico more than the enemy forces.  The NMNG simply tried to protect their state and its citizens, but were the smallest and least well armed of the forces involved, and fought nobly despite taking a pounding.

Still, remnants of the NMNG survived the fighting, and lived on, eventually reforming as the embryo that grew into the Confederation.  The PSA soon gave up their foothold in New Mexico, and mention of either the United States or Republic of Texas draw unkind thoughts from the people of what used to be New Mexico to this very day.

New Clovis was formed when the survivors of the fighting in old Clovis moved en masse (if you can call it that, less than 3 percent of the residents survived to make the move) and resettled their city, some distance away.  New Clovis would often find itself involved in the fighting that took place between the warlords and land barons in the New Mexico-Texas region, and often fell victim to roving bands coming south out of Utah and Colorado.

In time, New Clovis found itself on a trade route between the remains of the PSA, and the Texas region.   A militia formed to defend the town, and more recently, New Clovis joined the Confederation in an effort to gain regional influence and security.

At some point, a man by the name of Roberts moved west from the former state of New York, and settled in New Clovis.  He thrived there, and word got around that he was a man who could get things done.  Since first becoming Mayor of New Clovis, "Mayor Bob", as he's now known, has become quite prosperous; although, Mayor Bob sometimes wonders if joining the Confederation was the right move.

Mayor Bob in evening attire

Mayor Bob's rule is imposed by his Sheriff, Roberto, generally known as "Mexican Bob", and a hand full of deputies.  Additionally, the mayor has some special "agents", enforcers independent of the Sheriff's office that work at the Mayor's direction. Their leader, also from somewhere out east, is referred to in whispers as "Mean Bob", a brutal man, who seems to truly enjoy the ugliest parts of his job.

The "Bob's" generally work together, though each tries to carve out his own fiefdom within the realm of New Clovis, and occasionally, their interests conflict such that there is open confrontation.  Most of the time though, Mayor Bob's will is imposed, and the other Bobs just take whatever scraps are available to them.

Mexican Bob, the Sheriff, is a big man who enjoys his authority.  Both calculating and pragmatic, he mostly tries to impose order, just or otherwise.  He actually hates being called "Mexican Bob", but he is so commonly referred to as such, that he usually just lets it go.  His few real friends and allies still call him Roberto.

Sheriff Roberto, aka, Mexican Bob,
Sheriff of New Clovis

Roberto's little brother, Ortiz, goes by the his nickname of "Slim".  Despite being a smaller version of Roberto, the nickname betrays his girth.  Slim is usually a little less thoughtful than his brother, and tends to rely on violence a little more readily than Roberto.  Still, he does help maintain order, and is known to be kind-hearted to children and small animals in particular.

Deputy Ortiz, Mexican Bob's little brother,
 known to the locals as "Slim"

Only the Mayor knows where Mean Bob comes from.  He isn't from New Clovis, and just showed up one day as the strong arm of the Mayor.  Some think that his main purpose is to keep Mexican Bob in check, as he and Mexican Bob don't seem to like each other.  Mean Bob handles special jobs for the Mayor; jobs falling outside the authority of Mexican Bob, though it is not uncommon for both to be working the same "problem" from different angles.

"Mean Bob", an agent of the Mayor.

Under the direction of the three Bobs, New Clovis has been a prosperous town, and in general, the people of New Clovis have benefited from the presence of "The Bobs", with The Bobs benefiting most of all.