A few days before Christmas I was invited to speak on Sean Clark’s podcast Gods Own Scale, where I covered some thoughts and reflections from the year that just passed (link below the picture, if you want to check it out).
It is always great to catch-up with Sean and it is well worth checking up his back catalogue if you are not already familiar with it.
Anyway as a kind of complement I will do a quick overview of some of the things I did on the hobby front this year (mainly an organised listing of links to blogposts). As always in doing the review I realise that I have been doing far more than expected.
The sections are
More 3D printing
Commissioning some 6mm miniatures
Sweden 1943 Project 15mm
The Battle of Lund 1676 6mm and the 6mm Charity Project
Fantasy Ice Hockey 28mm
An Awarding Year – Caesar Award (Wargaming Blog 2021) and Best in Show at Salute (6mm Poltava 1709
More 3D printing
I continued some exploration of 3D printing and came to the conclusion after a lot of printing that I should stop just printing and just keep things back until I intended to paint stuff, avoiding creating yet another mountain – this time in resin instead of lead. On the whole I really enjoy using the printer and the result it produced – it has not really reduced the amount of stuff I buy but has given me some options for doing alternative stuff. Here are few of the stuff I did do.
More details on this here
Commissioning some 6mm miniatures
I also commissioned some 6mm miniatures to be used as commanders for my GNW 6mm stuff. I did 5 minutures in total, the one below shows Stenbeck at Helsingborg in 1710.
More about that here and the other miniatures that I commissioned.
Sweden 1943 Project 15mm
Further Progress was made on my Swedish 1943 Project and I added some more tanks and armoured cars (well trucks). I also did a high level army list for O Group, the new game from Too Fat Lardies.
More about this project here
The only big 6mm project I did start in the year was the Forces in Holstein 1700 as part of the start of the Great Northern War. This offers two very colourful opposing armies and the potential for a very interesting wargaming experience – in reality there were no big field battles, but this project offers some exploration of this.
I also bought some already painted 6mm ancients that I rebased and quickly got my 6mm Ancient Punic War collection substantially increased. I also did a summary blog on a lot of the #6mmtips I have shared on twitter over the last few years. More on these projects below.
The Battle of Lund 1676 6mm and the 6mm Charity Project
This year I took the Battle of Lund 1676 to the Virtual Joy of Six event, I ended up doing a video to present the game and also talked about the Charity Project that was completed last year. There are some links to two video that was produced to support these projects.
I did a lot of terrain projects this year most notably I did a lot of clutter, or immersion markers as I prefer to call them, for the 1943 table, but there are some generic ideas you could use for other theatres and scales. I also did a fair few buildings and fields.
These projects has allowed me to create some really immersive battlefields, like this one. Here a little video that Des Darkin did showing off the table laid out using many of the terrain elements produced this year (thanks Des).
Fantasy Ice Hockey 28mm
I did some further work on my Fantasy Ice hockey project and we are developing some alternative rules to use. More on some conversions and some 3d printed models below.
Those were my main activities for the year, here some of the smaller projects that was done
I received two awards this year, the Caesar Award for the Blog of 2021 organised by Little Wars TV and also the Best Game in Show (Presidents Award) at Salute for the 6mm Poltava 1709 table.
Here a video made by Alex at Storm of Steel covering the show with an interview with Nick and I discussing the battle.
Spent this weekend pimping up some MDF buildings from Sarissa precision (more here) to fit into my Swedish 1943 project, that I have been working on slowly over the last few years – exploring a what-if invasion by Germany in 1943 through Norway. It is a passion project and I have enough buildings to create a few farms but wanted to add some more.
This is the village so far
These were the houses I bought this time around.
As I have explained before I want to create a certain look to make the building fit into the environment so a Normandy type building will not really do. In Sweden most house at this time, and still are in Dalarna, are made of wood and painted either Red or Brown (most commonly red). I have opted to go hard on the red with white details as a unifying and most common look.
The first two buildings were the stable and the barn and the first step on these was to plank them and add tiles/roof, I did this using thick paper/card. This is just to create a little bit of structure to allow a plank pattern to show throgh as opposed to a flatish MDF surface. Note that I plank vertical.
This leaves them looking like this.
I painted them in Hull red and then another layer of red mixed with hull red (vallejo paint) added some white detail and quick weathering. They really look the deal, if I can say so myself.
Next up the two houses
First the “Dunkers Church”, with some detail being added after planking and coffee stirer detailing, including a bird house (My great Grandad apparently had a bird house on the back of this house that he was very fond of)….
Some planters outside the windows (these will be filled with plants later).
The house will need some roof tiling – I am waiting for some from Sarissa, so it will be painted next time.
As for the Dutch House (done in the same way as the others), I wanted to use this one to illustrated how you can make tiling a roof a little bit quicker than adding tile by tile, as I used to do. You can of course get tiling cardboard from Sarissa for about £4.5 per roof as was used for one of the barns as shown before. Anyway here is how I do it, you need cardboard (like a cereal pack), a sharp knife/scissors, ruler (metal works best), masking tape and a little bit of time.
First take a piece of cardboard and mark up the width of the tile you require, I used 5mm for 15mm (this is actually a 0.5 meter tile in scale but it kind of works you might want to go finer)
Cut out strips with hobby knife or scissors
Put the strips together between two strips of masking tape, leaving a very small gap between the tiles.
Use scissors or a sharp hobby knife with a ruler firmly pressed against the sheet and cut strips the other way to create strips like this (a row of tiles being held together by the masking tape, as shown below).
Now use this to clad your house (use Superglue due to the masking tape not being that PVA compatiable), start from the bottom and pretest each level before you glue it. DID I SAY USE SUPER GLUE. Have good ventilation with the glue.
It will look funny depending of what cardboard you are using but it gets all painted over in the end so it is totally irrelevant. This is how the roof looks like when finished – you could make your tiles tighter and also cut more precise than I did but the point is that the masking tape allows you to do this really quick as you add strip by strip instead of brick (I mean tile) by brick.
Next time we will paint the two houses, after I added some of Sarissa tiles on the other one.
Not really 1943, more like 1973, Dad on the left with his mates playing badminton on a nice sunny day. Note the houses in the background, that is Dalarna folks.
Well it arrived a few weeks ago – the new rule set from Two Fat Lardies (well actually Reisswitz Press) and this morning I had a read through and watched some of the videos available on the internet (Look for . It seems really interesting – new in terms of scale and some of the mechanics but familiar in terms of some elements of the Lardies rule sets I have come to like. But more about that when I have actually played the game and know what I am talking about.
Here are a few good starting points if you want to know more before you buy or getting up to speed once you got the rules.
My current WW2 collection consist of a large number of different platoons in 15mm (varying between 1 and 2 per theatre and period), including Finnish and Soviets (Winter War and Continuation War), German (Early, Mid and Late), British (early war), French (early war), Greek (early war), Italian (early war) and of course two Swedish Platoons.
Well, it took me about two minutes to decide to make this as a Sweden 1943 project and in 15mm, as I already have all the tanks, etc I would need and in essence would only need to do some more infantry on bigger bases (than the individually based I have for my platoon) which is something as was planning to do upscaling the toys to be in used for IABSM (the Company Level game by Too Fat Lardies).
I thought I share this as an example on how you could take a rule set and its army lists as a basis for developing your own for nations or theatre specific situations that are not covered by a set of base rules and also in this this case very unlikely to show up in future supplements. If you are doing a ‘What-if project’ for a German invasion of Sweden in 1943, you are probably on your own. But to me this is a lot of fun in its own right. It would be interesting to see a Finnish Continuation War Organisation at some point too.
The Swedish Infantry Regiment
The Swedish infantry regiment in line with the 1943M organisation consisted of the following high level elements (from April 1943).
MG Company (consisting of 3 No. MG platoons, with 2 sections of two MGs (normally the m/36))
Specialist company – heavy weapons company (AT Platoon with 6 No. Bofors m/AT guns). AAMG Platoon with 4 No. AAMG on Tripods, Pioneer Platoon (w. 5 flamethrowers), Heavy Mortar Platoon, 3 120mm m/41 mortars with FO, AA Gun Platoon, 4 No. 20mm Bofors m/40, on Tripod
1st Battalion – more detail on the battalion below, but basically, HQ, 1 No. Jager Platoon, 3 No. Rifle Company and 1 No. Heavy Company.
2nd Battalion – as above
3rd Battaltion – as above
An Infantry battalion
The infantry battalion, which will form the basis of the units you will have on the table consisted of.
1 No. Jager Platoon – consisting of Platoon HQ and 3 sections
3 No. Rifle Company (Skyttekompani), each with
4 No. Platoons, each with
4 Rifle Sections
Specialist Section – 1 No. AT Rifle and 1 No. 47mm Mortar
MG Section – 2 No. MGs (m/36 or m/42)
Mortar Section – 1 No. 80mm m/29 Mortar
1 No. Heavy Company (Tunga Kompaniet)
2 No. Sections of 2 No. 80mm m/29 Mortars
AA/AT Platoon with 4 No. Bofors m/40 Guns (Tripods)
MG Platoon (Kulsprutekompani)
MG Section – 2 No. m/36 MG
So how do we translate this into the O Group Framework, well studying how for example a typical German Infantry Battalion has been structured I have come up with a first framework enough to get some miniatures done. I will flesh this out with stats and costs later but I think this is a good start. Note that the There are no Artillery support at Regimental level, the extra punch is provided by the high number of mortars, including the 120mm Mortars. I believe this would have been effective and possibly used with the same devastating effect as the Finns used theirs. I need to do further research on the Divisional support list as currently I have limited information on the organisation and operations above regimental level, but this will get me started.
So, if you do have some further information or ideas, please do a comment for this post or use the contact form on the blog.
I am going to get myself some Battlefront Italians for this project right now.
/ Hope that is of some interest.
Pictures above are from Krigsarkivet (Military Archives of Sweden, link here) and I have borrowed them from the eminent page Tornsvalan about Sweden during the war years, link here.
‘O’ Group – Wargames Rules for Battalion Size Actions in World War II (2021), by David C.R. Brown, Reisswitz Press. Link here.
An Introduction to The Royal Swedish Army in WWII – really useful resource link here. I used their listing of the M1943 as a basis for the presentation above.
Infanterireglemente (InfR) – Regemente I (InfR I) – 1945 – This shows the M1943 organisation and details some of the aspects that are not covered in the link above. Difficult to get hold off but occassionally some of the regulations do show up on https://www.bokborsen.se/.
En svensk tiger : hårda fakta och siffror över svensk beredskap och upprustning 1939-1945 (2014) by Sven-Åke Bengtsson.
During the hostilities in northern Dalarna in 1943 the Germans used remote control mines (known as the Goliath) in trying to break through the fortifications of the Swedish border defences. Hauptman Pillistin of the Pioneer Company deployed a number of them during the fighting in Särna. The Hero of Skans 211 (the name of the fortification system at Särna) Corporal Davidsson managed to demobilise three of them using his Scoped Rifle and some pretty accurate shooting. This caused a significant delay to the offensive that bought necessary time at the early stages of the offensive to ready the Swedish defences at the inner lines.
Ok, it is my 1943 what-if again and one of the scenarios I am working on. The idea with the eventual set of scenarios is to provide a book with some interesting scenarios ranging from defending fortified positions, creating bridge heads positions, assaulting over water, and forest fighting. It will be set in Sweden but you could equally replace the Swedes with Polish during 1939 or the Finns (and the German with the Soviets) during the 1944 Summer offensive, etc. Interested in presenting We shall see how it goes.
The defensive system at Särna was built following the invasion of Norway in 1940, it can be see in the video below (the audio is in Swedish but the pictures could be of some interest) as it looks today.
Now what is this Goliath thing, well it is a tracked mine (German: Leichter Ladungsträger Goliath, “Goliath Light Charge Carrier”) and was disposable demolition vehicles and remote controlled (through a cable). You can read more about them on good old wikipedia (here).
So although to quote the wikipedia article “Mostly, they failed to reach their target although the effect was considerable when they did.”, I think a scenario with them in it would add some tension to the game with some slow moving Goliaths working their way through the defensive positions whilst the infantry sections are trying to stop it with small arms fire.
Recently I found some files on Thingyverse (here) and printed out some Goliaths with and without trolleys and added some Peter Pig Germans and two Kettenrads. Happy how they turned out.
One of my favourite looking tanks is the Swedish m/42 tank, a domestic tank that was finalised in 1943 and plausable to take some kind of place in a 1943 what-if invasion of Sweden. It did initially have a lot of issues as was not very reliable and I found an interesting article here. I did have one of these in 15mm before but got another two from Shapeways some time ago – I was waiting for an alternative source but I think these are great even if they take you back about £19 each.
An armoured Truck – Pbil m/31
The second one is a Paul Edwards special (who runs the excellent Sabotag3d company – https://www.sabotag3d.com/). I showed Paul a picture of one and of them and off he went and designed one for me and printed out a fair few, and I have had them lying around for about a year – it was time to put some paint on them. More about this vehicle here.
That was all, see you in Dalarna in 1943!
Sorry one more thing, there is a new Podcast that is worth giving a listen and a follow. You may already be familiar with the excellent Yarkshire Gamer blog, Ken has decided to share not just his smooth voice but his passion in Audio, focusing in the grand spectacle stuff, big gaming.
Gosh, how do you review 2020? It was a bloody miserable year from many aspects and I think better analysts will summarise the world events like COVID-19, Brexit, American Elections and whether historical wargaming is dying. This review is more personal…
Well given all the time I have had working from home rather than getting into an office my blog activity has been really poor – this is only the 24th blogpost this year, that is about half the number of blog posts I normally do. However I do a lot of mini-blogging on Twitter and sometimes wish that I could link the two in some way. The blog posts feel more permanent and perhaps more like an achievement and gives time for a little bit more thought and wider information compare to doing tweets – I do not know.
Anyway thanks to everyone who follows this blog, the facebook group (not sure what to do with it) and/or my twitter account. All your encouragement has been really helpful this year, keep it up!
In terms of the hobby it has been a fantastic year and a few highlights for me have been playing in Jeremy Short’s Runequest campaign with some great people, attended the virtual Grogmeet that was an absolute blast and again catching up with new and old friends, hosted my own RPG on Roll20 for the Gang running a 28 year old scenario I wrote for the first Dalcon in 1992 (The Dweller in Darkness). Mike Hobbs set up a virtual paint club that I have really enjoyed and again met new and old friends for some casual chat. Thanks to all of you!
The Little One and the Others
The Little One is always up for a Game and playing with him is not something new I have discovered during lock-down but we had a blast playing a lot of games including Chain of Command, What a Tanker, Twilight of The Sun King, Men who Would be Kings, Dragon Rampant and many others. We have even got the rest of the family involved in some RPG and board game fun which I have to say is an achievement, Cheers mate!
Painting for Charity
I also had this idea that now seems like a no brainer about paining an army together as a community projects and try to make some money for charity. Well what a total blast that was and in 2021 we will take it further. This project actually makes me really proud and I take my Tricorne, of is it floppy hat off to all the painters who participated.
Here are some links about the project, including painting guides, etc.
Below a few pictures when we fought a Battle using these two amazing armies, with the help of the Twilight of the Sun King rules.
The high level plan for the project moving forward is
Doing a booklet with the armies
I would like the Army to fight a Battle at a Proper wargames show
Raising monies to Combat stress by doing a Raffle to win the army
More about this in 2021, again thanks to all who participated and encouraged.
Gods Own Scale Podcast
Sean Clarke re-launched the Gods Own Scale following some, I hope positive pressure, from Peter Berry and I. Sean has a relaxed style and brings out the best in the interviews he carries out, his passion shines through and the his list of guest have been varied and some new voices not previously heard, I especially enjoyed the episodes on Irregular Miniatures and Heroics and Ros.
I was invited together with Daniel Hodgson, Alex Sotheran to the Christmas special. It was a long show and I hope it came across like a few hobbyists having a good talk in the pub, because that is how it felt.
After a long and relentless campaign of trying to get Dirk at Grognard Towers to do an episode on MERP he did TWO episodes and he even brought Legend Liz Danforth to the party – what an absolute delight. Dirk also asked me to do a “First, Last and Everything”, you can listen to it in the link below.
The project got some attention from the Dala Radio and it was fun to talk about the project and I wrote about that here. I have also made some suppression markers and jump off points here as well as some river assault boats, here. This is a great project and I will try to start playtesting some scenarios for a Swedish Half-Pint sized campaign in 2021. You can find the latest Swedish Platoon lists here.
I also did some strange base forces for Infamy! Infamy!, more here. This is expanding the Mutant 1984 world in an early era.
I did some cool 2mm bases and that I will use to try out Mark Backhouse’s upcoming rule set “Strength and Honour”. More here. This will be my early 2021 focus.
So for 2021 it will be more of the same, I wish you from the bottom of my heart a fantastic 2021!
But before I go, we had a fantastic game last night and I am too tired for a write-up and there are other things to do, so a few pictures from the Twitter Feed – Another Mutant 1984 diversion using a variant of “The Men who would be Kings” rules, with some freaky events.
One of the scenarios I am envisaging for the “What if”German Invasion of Sweden 1943 project I am working on is a river crossing over the Dalecarlian River (Dalälven) – as it is such a central feature of the county.
The German army used the Leichtes Sturmboot 39 that were small high-powered assuault boats with by an 30 HP “Powered oar” outboard motor, they were used for river and small waterway assaults, crossings and to push pontoon boats. They were mainly used by Engineering typically to form a bridge head to build a pontoon bridge. Below is a small video showing them in use from Youtube.
I made a few improvised boats that I wrote about in an earlier blog for my Continuation War Finns.
Anyway the new ones are based on the actual boats and 3d printed. You can buy the files from 3D wargaming here. You can print out two versions one is an uncovered version (open boat, as can be seen in the video above) I believe the covered versions were used by the Marine. Well in my 1943 campaign they came from some marine units in Norway just before the invasion. I also have some uncovered ones that I will use to “redo” the Finnish ones I showed above. I asked Paul Edwards at Sabotag3d (https://www.sabotag3d.com/) to print them out in 1/100 or 15mm scale.
As for the crew I used some Germans from the lead mountain – yes mine is substantial. For the “drivers” I used pointing NCO or artillery models and for the others a selection of different infantry types. As the models are close together pay attention to helmet size as they tend to vary between manufacturers and can look strange next to each other. I cut most of the bases off and also the feet or parts of the legs to make some interesting positions. In reality the were probably less obvious targets when crossing in them but I think you agree that it looks nice and dramatic in the pictures below.
I added a base to them and painted the boats in a dark and light grey, most pictures indicate this type of camouflage pattern being used. I tried to create some effect of water and some foam by painting the bases dark blue, the drybrushed with a medium blue before adding some vallejo Atlantic water effet, finally I paintes some white to represent the foam. Here are the finalised pieces, I am really happy with them.
During the hostilities of WW2 the Royal Swedish Army was undergoing a number of changes and the most significant at the Platoon level was the 43M reorganisation. This organisation was ordered for the Army in 1940. The objective was that all units would have completed this reorganization by 1943. This re-organisation introduced more fire power to the Rifle Section by equipping the NCOs with SMGs and adding 2 No. Semi-Automatic rifles to each section. Further firepower was also provided by the introduction of a fifth Specialist Section with a 47mm Mortar team and an Anti-tank rifleman to each Platoon. In addition, a rifleman per section was a designated Sharpshooter and had a scoped rifle.
These lists allow you to field a normal Rifle Platoon (Skyttepluton) or a Ranger Platoon (Jägarpluton). The latter was more than often used to do specific recon missions and to distress the enemy.
These platoons would most often march onto to the battlefield, with a platoon cart and a horse. Some platoons may be equipped with bikes and some may even be driven to the battlefield in a truck.
The changes were gradual, and we suggest that the player can choose to play either the 1940 to 1943 or the 1943 to 1945 Rifle Platoon for the 1943 campaign.
You can download the latest lists in a PDF format below (they are work in progress, if you have any views or suggestions let me now).
Writing this after another day working from home during the Corona lock-down in Greater London – I am happy to report that my immediate and extended family are all ok. It all feels very surreal, and I hope as always that this blog will give you a few moments of being away from it all in a safe place.
More pictures from the Dalarna 1943 Project and being contacted by Swedish Radio
A note on my appearance on the Grognard Files
I was contacted by the Swedish Radio last week, their regional Dalarna branch, about this project and recorded a short thing for their morning show today. It made me happy, I hope I did not come across as too much of an idiot whenever it is being aired.
Here is a sound file containing the segment (in Swedish, aired 03 Apr 2020)
A lot of recent progress on this project as I have finished the third batch of Prints from Sabotag3d (link here). I am really happy to see that Paul has been shipping some round pole fences (gärdsgård) over to Sweden and consequently me not being the only one fascinated by this type of Fence. So if this appeals to someone get in contact with Paul and see what he can do for you, he makes these fences in 1/100 scale (15mm size miniatures) as well as for 28mm miniatures. But I suppose you can get them in any scale you like – it really takes us straight into the Dalarna landscape of old (and new) without to much leap of faith. We should also add that Paul also did a few damaged sections for me, to be used to illustrate the impact of an explosion or that a tank has driven through them.
Last time around we had done the basic village tiles and the round pole fences and it allowed to create something like this (there is a link here to an earlier blog that covers this is some detail and talks about the Falu Red colour used for the houses, etc).
For further detailing I wanted to have some mail boxes, typical of the Swedish country side. So I sent Paul the idea and as always he returned a fantastic little print (truth is that the state post box may not have had the colour scheme and the symbol at that time, but I felt it just needed to look that way).
Milk of course was collected differently in those days and milk churns would be standing on tables alongside the road, ready for collection on the morning.
The centre of the village is the Lanthandel that would sell you the supplies you needed.
And finally a little petrol station, probably not that operational due to rationing, but again a not to uncommon feature in the Sweden of 1943.
On top of this I have spent some time doing further features to add to the landscape and increase the immersion factor on the table.
We laid out another table and had a game with the Little One last weekend (using the Chain of Command rules by Too Fat Lardies, link here) and then we did a lot of shots of vehicles because we could.
A Little Game
Some random shots of Swedish WW2 Vehicles
The Grognard Files – First, Last and Everything
For you not familiar with the Grognard files here is Dirk’s own summary what it is all about (stolen from his webpage).
I’m Dirk the Dice and this is the GROGNARD files podcast, talking bobbins about table-top RPGs from back in the day and today. The Armchair Adventurers are small FRPG group that meet monthly in Bolton. We first got together thanks to a ‘small ad’ in WHITE DWARF in 1983. We got back together in 2010 to play Call of Cthulhu Masks of Nyarlathotep monthly for 3 years. Playing again reignited our passion for RPGs, so we returned to some more classic campaigns from our teenage years: RuneQuest BORDERLANDS, Traveller ADVENTURE, RuneQuest GRIFFIN MOUNTAIN and Call of Cthulhu FUNGI FROM YUGGOTH. Our interest began to shift towards what had happened to RPGs during our period away from the hobby.
I have been, in a friendly way, been pestering Dirk to do a podcast about the Middle Earth Roleplaying Game for a long time (check out #grogmerp on twitter if you do not believe me). Last month he released part 1 of the MERP (Middle Earth Roleplaying) show and he asked me to do a “First, Last and Everything” segment for Part 2 – that is a presentation of my first, last and overall favourite RPG games. I went for (because it is true) the first being the old Swedish RPG game Mutant (from 1984) that I have written about here on a few occasions (link some of it here, here, here and here), MERP as it is the last one I played and you can find out more about it in the two Episodes below, my everything is the classic Call of Cthulhu Rpg.
Here are the links to the two parts of Episode 36 – Middle-Earth Role Playing (MERP) with Liz Danforth:
/ As always I do hope that this was of some interest, stay safe during these and any other times
First, Last and Everything
Hi, My name is Per and I am delighted to deliver my first, last and everything. You can find me on Twitter as Per at RollaOne or on my blog rollaone.com.
It was 1984 and I was 12 and my slightly older cousin Mika was visiting us in our little provincial town in the heartlands of Sweden, Dalarna, where if you take the wrong fork you may come upon a lonely and curious country, in areas that remind you of some Lovecraftian environment – desolate, quiet and with the occasional character sneaking around, or looking through the windows with empty stares and some doors hanging on rusty and consequently noisy hinges blowing in the wind. These are places where they say shoot-dig-keep quiet – that kind of thing. I mean all that Nordic Noir crime stuff must have come from somewhere? But most of it are quaint red houses with white trimmings, surrounded by, wait for it, round pole fences.
He, my cousin, cajoled me into buying this new game that he had played called Mutant, a game set after the catastrophe in a future Scandinavia. You could play as mutated humans & animals or be a robot from the old time (but with a messed up memory bank, with a tendency to obey orders from pure humans or those who had not too obvious mutations – later I learned they were programmed to follow Asimov’s 3 robotic Laws). You could also be a PSI-mutant with mental powers, shunned by most people with or without fur. They were like magic users but very often with defects like madness or confusion triggered by failing to use a mental ability – making it very frustrating at times, or pure (non-mutated) humans considerable sturdier and more clever than we are today and with a patronising at best to a disrespectful view on mutants. The society that had risen was roughly at the technology level of the early 19th century – you could arm yourself with a musket if you had the cash but equally common were a baseball bat and an old bin lid, or traffic sign with a moose, as a shield. It was a more organised society than in movies like Mad Max – things had calmed down. There were forbidden zones to adventure in and the dungeon equivalent were old research labs or other underground facilities with the chance of finding old tech, crazy cyber computers, frozen people from the old times or mutated beasts – sometimes all at once. The dragon equivalent were giant beetles and land sharks that swam through the earth It was my fist role-playing game and we had never heard about anything like it and it also came with some funny looking dice, but no gaming board. Just a little cardboard sheet that was used to resolve whether the character understood what the old tech item he has just found was. My cousin had never GM:ed before and actually as it turned out he had never played the game – however he spent a day reading it and the following evening a few friends and I made some characters – mine a mutated moose, a hunter, with a big club and a musket – then he very ably played us through the introductionary scenario “Mission in Mos Mosel” until the small hours ….it was love at first play….
This game has evolved to what today is known as Mutant Year 0, and a number of the modern products has given more than a nod to the old modules and adventures.
However we quickly advanced to non-Swedish rpgs – it was not as cool to play the Swedish games – at least not in those days.
We went on a School trip to London in Year 9, this was 1987, and the trip was funded to not a small part of us selling loaves of home baked breads outside a local shopping centre and we also set up a school show and invited all the parents and students – I and yet another cousin and fellow gamer Sebastian played two drunk characters and we made some crap jokes pretending to be pissed and we had a grand finale with the song “Shut uppa you face”, by Joe Dolce. In London we, equipped with a Summer of earnings from working for the local council’s real estate department cutting lawns, bushes and collecting rubbish, delivering leaflets at weekends or selling the Sunday issues of a broadsheet newspaper, bought a lot of RPG games and modules from Orcs Nest (still on Earlham Street today), Games Workshop and The Virgin shop on Oxford Street. We got Judge Dredd, MERP (Middle Earth Roleplaying Game), Call of Cthulhu, and “who ya gonna call” Ghostbusters, Top Secret, Chill, Timemaster, Paranoia and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying and god only knows what else, I remember the only non-rpg stuff I bought was the God Save the Queen single by Sex Pistols and Bob Marley’s Exodus (movement of Jah people).
But also a shout out to the Amazing swedish shop Hobby Huset in Uppsala – they had an amazing selection of RPGs in their catalogue and excellent shipping service. We sometimes even took the 1.5 hour train trip and visited the cellar it was located in and got some strange stuff from the bargain bucket. It was this shop that really opened up the hobby for us country boys.
We played so much RPG games in our youth, in people’s houses but eventually in a shed with a heater that made it bearable. We hated splitting up the group as we had to stand outside in the bloody cold freezing our Dirks off (remember this was Sweden when we had proper seasons). Later we asked our school if we could use one of the class rooms in the evening and weekends and the head teacher gave us a key and we had a hell of a good time. We had a good group with a few changes along the way, but then playing in death metal bands, national service, university education, and moving abroad split the old gang. We had our ups and downs but now 30 years or so later I can only recall the positive aspects, so to my old Grogsquad Jonas, Petri, Sebastian, Tommy, Thomas, Magnus, Micke, Reidar, Erik, Petter, Christer, Anton, Fredrik and the guy who only came once and played Pendragon with us and anyone else I forgot, but also to my new Grogsquad the Adventurers Club led by Dirk, Blythy, Ed, and the Daily Dwarf, I raise my glass of vodka to you all!
Although there was a lot of fear mongering around the Rpg hobby in the mainstream media at the time, thinking we would become too introvert, turn into extremists or jump from buildings imagining we could fly, I think our parents were grateful for the fact that instead of being out drinking moonshine vodka, a speciality of the region, and making the town unsafe, we instead sat in the shed telling each other stories and rolling dice. I think we all turned out ok in the end.
In the day we shared the burden of Game Mastering in our Little but Merry band, but the longer campaigns were usually game mastered by myself or Jonas and one of the first games he ran was MERP – Middle Earth Roleplaying. Jonas was amazing with regards to preparing for campaigns and game sessions and his knowledge of Middle Earth was very deep – he had even read the Silmarillion and the Lost Tales! Later Jonas were to run a very long AD&D campaign (2nd Edition) and although I never really liked the system, his overall campaign with a mixture of shorter episodes, long running plots and reappearing protagonists was probably the best one I ever played. However back to MERP. The rules today feels old-fashioned, being a Lite version of the bigger Rolemaster System but at the time offered us some kind of balance between the always fragile characters in the basic Roleplaying system kind of game and rise of your AD&D characters toward immortality – with MERPs open-ended rolls there was always a chance that an opponent could score critical hits and do some substantial damage whatever the differences in character levels, armour class etc. You had to be careful and not every encounter would be a question of drawing a sword. And the magic system was definitely not Tolkienesque but then Jonas did not allow us to be wizards. But what was more on top of this and perhaps the real legacy of MERP was the many fantastic modules and not the rules. The modules had some fantastic drawings and amazing covers that shaped our vision of this amazing world. There were many talented artists contributing to these modules but for me there are two I would like to mention especially – first the legend Angus McBride who did some exceptional cover art for many of the MERP modules. The second artist is of course Liz Danforth who created an outstanding visual presentation of the various characters, races and creatures of this wonderful world, and by the way a big thanks to you Liz for your support to the #grogmerp campaign on Twitter. But there was more, the modules contained information about the people and lands and it felt like it stayed true to the lore but expanded where there were white spots. Herbs, requires a special mention, and were like modern mobile phone apps – there was an app, sorry I meant a herb for that. It is actually my last RPG, I played and a big part of my recent interest in the hobby.
However, there was only one game that I really really immersed myself into in the day and it was the Call of Cthulhu rpg – I guess it does not need any deeper introduction. The first time I played it was at the RPG club in my hometown that some of us used to go to and play as well as playing with the core group, the club was founded by Magnus Seter and Dan Algstrand who today are well known characters in the RPG Industry. It was an excellent way in getting to know likeminded and try out a wider array of games. The club even run a few conventions and I wrote the Call of Cthulhu Scenario for the first two – with the imaginary titles of – the Shadow in Darkness and the Dweller in the Shadow (You can actually find these on the net, but mind you they are written in Swedish). Our little band played some of the epic campaigns like the Fungi form Yuggoth (later more adequately renamed the Day of the Beast), the Spawn of Azathoth and even the Horror on the Orient Express – although our campaign derailed after a few stops. But for me it was the Arkham county series of books that really made the game come alive – we played scenarios in the Miskatonic Valley – in places straight from the Lovecraft stories like Arkham, Dunwich, Innsmouth and Kingsport. The players included Professors working at the Miskatonic University, a PE teacher who could throw a javelin like no other, a retired Major from the British Army (yes he was a hell of a Marksman with his Webley Revolver), Private Investigators, a daredevil pilot and a Medical Doctor at the Arkham Asylym. The scenarios both readymade and homebrewed focused on local events – it made it more scary and intense when reoccurring NPCs asked for help, suddenly disappeared, ended up at the Asylum, or were found dead. When you could weave in characters family trees into the scenarios with the realisation that great grandfather Elijah Waitrose was a Cthulhu cultist or that Great Aunt Tess Collie was an adventurer lost in Dreamlands. As For anyone who may not be familiar with the literature I really recommend that you read the wonderful but not for the faint hearted stories like “The Call of Cthulhu”, “The Dunwich Horror”, “Escape from Innsmouth”, “The Whisperer in Darkness” and “The Colour out of Space” to name some of my favourites. Yes, having moved on more than 30 years from that initial fascination, I know that H.P. Lovecraft probably was a man I would end up arguing with in the pub – he was a racist, homophobe etc, revealed by studying his letter and analysing some of the stories – I get it! But I was never in it for that, I was in it for the chill, sense of hopelessness in a world full of unknown things that humanity at best had a very limited understanding of, the desperate fight against overwhelming odds of getting either permanently insane or ending up dead. The sheer joy of game mastering a group of seasoned investigators in gathering clues from libraries, local newspapers, speakeasies, weird locals, etc. They, the characters, were never flashing heroes with shiny armour and glimmering swords or caped crusaders flying the flag , they were mostly normal people who endlessly fought on. Call of Cthulhu is my everything!
If you have followed this blog you may recall that I have been working on a project relating to a “What-if” German invasion of Sweden in 1943 through the Dalarna County – where I “incidentally” was born and grew up. There is a good summary of where I got to with this project to date in a previous blog post (link here).
Dalarna, Sweden in 1943 does not look like Normandy or the Eastern Front and one of the challenges to create the immersion is to create an overall look that feels right. A lot of the existing wargames buildings and terrain are not suitable for this theatre – the Normandy buildings looks totally out of place whilst the typical eastern European houses, whilst in wood, does not neccesarily have the right look (the common thatched roof on many of these houses are not really suitable). However I have found a few houses, barns etc that will fit.
The house on the left in the picture and the excellent round pole fences are made by Paul Edwards. Paul does some amazing work (Sabotag3d.com) and future blogposts will show more of the stuff he has been doing for me once I have painted them up.
The other houses shown in the pictures above and below are from Timecast (Eastern European 15mm buildings, link here) and Ironclad Miniatures (link here).
I have also, previously, talked about the typical red colour that was predominant, and still is, in the area – The Falu Red Colour (Falu Rödfärg).
Although the paint fell out of favour in the Urban areas during the 18th century the paint still survived and in the countryside, even today, is still the dominant type of colour.
The origins of the pigments used for this paint was a rest product from the process of calcination of copper ore at the Mines in Falun, in the Dalarna county. In the 16th century it was found that these pigments mixed with lineseed oil and rye flour worked as an excellent anti-weathering and preservative when applied to wood.
The Falu mine itself deserves a mention as it operated for 2000 years and at its most productive phase in the 16-17th century it produced more than 60% of the copper in Europe. It even had its own regiment (with some infantry and cavalry units) during the Scanian War and Great Northern War era.
Every School child in the county visits the mine to learn about its glorious past – today it is not longer a working mine but a fantastic museum with a permanent exhibition as well as the opportunity to travel down to the depths of the mine.
Farm tiles and Gas Wood Cars
As easy way to integrate your built up sections is to make tiles for a building or a set of buildings. This allows a more defined look on the table and makes the buildings blend in better in your layout. I made mine from adhesive floor tiles from Poundland (they are made from vinyl) some acrylic paste (caulk) and sand.
Start by marking up where you want your buildings to go. I also consider the size of the fencing around the farm.
Then it is time to start the messy bits, with acrylics, sand and paint.
But what about these strange cars? Well if you study cars during this era, not just in Sweden you will notice the strange burners on other arrangements attached to the cars. These are utilising wood gas to power the vehicle due rationing of fossil fuels. I have rarely seen these on WW2 tables but very often in pictures so I made a few (based on some Kinder Egg vehicles I bought off ebay).
A game of Chain of Command
A few weeks ago the Little One and I had a small CoC (Chain of Command) infantry vs infantry game (with a tank each) mainly to test out the terrain and how it all looked together, we have a blast and we were really happy with the overall look.
I will let the picture talk for themselves.
Whilst I love playing in Normandy or the Eastern Front I have to admit that there is something special for me with this project in terms of passion and immersion. For this table all it really took was a type or Fence and the colour of the houses to transport us straight to Dalarna 1943.
Yes the whole thing is made up but I am trying to make the rest of it justice. As you may have figured out by now immersion is very important for all the projects I do. It takes an extra effort, but an effort I am more than happy to make.
If you have a what-if idea or a project based on some obscure location spend some time reflecting on how things looked – study photos and find those key elements that immediately gives it away – that is your primary focus for your wargames table. If these items do not exist – consider making them yourself or contact someone like Paul who has the talent to design something in 3d for your, make it printable, print and send it to you! (Sabotag3d.com).