Friday, March 31, 2017

Another Module Suitability Review - The Free City of Krakow

Taken from the Twilight: 2000 Wikia Page, Original Cover Painting is IP of GDW/FFE
The Free City of Krakow was the first adventure module published by GDW for Twilight: 2000, and it was an unconventional one. It had a lot going for it. A mcguffin that could change the post-apocalyptic balance of power, a damsel in distress, a helicopter up for grabs, all set in a city barely holding it all together, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding.

The module was, in my opinion, Casablanca meets Mad Max. And it pulled it off well, starting the players off on a classic trilogy of adventures known to Twilight: 2000 players  as "The Vistula Trilogy". 

It even had it's own Cafe Americain, with Adam Rataj stepping in for Rick. As for Victor Lazlo? Methinks that Israeli spy, Tanya, does a very good job there. 

It was post-apocalyptic espionage noir, and it was brilliant.

But from a miniatures standpoint, at first glance, it may not seem to have much to offer?

Um, wrong.

Skirmish Game Possibilities

There are a ton of possibilities to be found here. Some of the ones that immediately come to mind are?

  • Gaming out what happens when the handover of Reset inevitably goes wrong. Too many gunshots and the city ORMO comes down on everyone like a ton of bricks. It would lend itself well to a "cat-and-mouse" sort of game where an M-16 is a heavy weapon!
  • American mercs get hired to rescue  Krutzba's mistress, trouble is..either the KGB has tipped off the ORMO, or they are coming themselves to grab her.
  • The leadership struggle has come to a head, and one of the two titular leaders of Krakow has hired some American mercenaries to kill the other. (This then leads to the larger game idea below).
  • A group of Americans gets it into their heads to steal the city's Mi-17 helicopter.
All of these are good ideas, and are really the tip of the iceberg with this module. There are others mentioned, and a quick look at the module is all you need. Many of these scenarios lend themselves well to the Osprey rules set Black Ops.

Possibilities for a Larger Game

At first blush, Free City of Krakow doesn't lend itself well towards larger battles, but there is one underlying idea that could be developed well.

The core of Krakow's economy is to put it mildly, slave labor known as robotniki, and they are treated poorly. It wouldn't take much for an enterprising marauder band to stir up a city wide uprising. At first glance, this would not seem like much of a game, unarmed slaves against a well-armed city militia, but one thing that can be found somewhat easily in Twilight:2000 is arms. And any smart marauder band contemplating this idea is going to find friends...like the KGB, who would love to bring down the Krakow regime and restore "proper socialist order".

Throw in some American stragglers stuck with the aforementioned mcguffin, and done right, you can have a memorable large game for a party or convention ready to go.

Terrain might be an issue, as seen here:
Taken from RPOL.net, Original IP is from GDW/FFE

Even so, however, just building the old walled city in the center should suffice and it would not be too difficult to pull off in 6mm. 15s and 20s might be a bit more challenging, but not impossible.

What really makes it all doable is the detailed ORBATs laid out in the module. It makes 1:1 games a snap, and conversion to 1:5 rules fairly easy as well. 

In short, this is a pretty good module to use for miniatures game fodder, and it is something that makes one realize just how rich the Twilight: 2000 milleu really is.

Next time, we cover Pirates of the Vistula!



Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The First Module Suitability Review - Escape from Kalisz


Escape from Kalisz is the introductory adventure for Twilight: 2000. and as such, it is meant as both an origin story, and a world building exercise. From a roleplaying standpoint, it is an excellently done introductory adventure, and it was a shame to be honest, that it was not updated and reprinted in the 2nd Edition.

It's associated handout, Death of a Division really sets the stage well, and both do a fine job of putting any characters in a "YOU ARE THERE" situation.

But what about from a miniatures standpoint? What can we do with this supplement to mine it for miniatures scenarios?

There are a couple of ideas that immediately come to mind.

Larger Scale Scenarios

Death of a Division is a literal gold mine of ideas. And considering none of the forces are at full strength, many of the potential scenarios make for some small, but tight games that can be probably played in an afternoon.

  • 1st and 256th Brigades attack on Lodz on July 14th. This attack has two prongs, and you can do either one, but the attack by 1st Brigade would probably make a larger game.
  • 1st Brigade's defense of the Kalisz - Turek road. The numbers are mentioned in detail on the US side, and one can surmise the Soviet numbers rather easily. 
  • 2nd Brigade's final attack South on the 17th of July, or the defense of Kalisz by 1-40th Armored and 4-12th Cavalry. 
All of these would make some interesting games, and because of their sizes, would make good introductory scenarios to the milleu. 

Smaller Scale Scenarios

There are literally a number of scenarios where skirmish games could be written up in an interesting fashion, as in many towns, the locals are not happy to see the Soviets, and in some cases, have wound up victims to their excesses (Wielun is a good example). 

Any number of raid-type scenarios could be cooked up for any decent rules set and with some suitable post apocalyptic terrain for a village, a good game could be had, 

Other ideas aren't far either as Escape from Kalisz borrows a lot, thematically from any number of German Ruckkampfer experiences of small German units attempting to escape yet another Soviet encirclement late in the war. Find one you like, adapt it for Twilight: 2000, and it will fit well in Kalisz.

Other skirmish ideas include:

  • Urban fighting in Kalisz on the 17th. Small bands of Americans desperately trying to escape town while the Poles and Soviets are rounding up fugitives. Could turn into a very close MOUT game.
  • Small unit of American stragglers ambushes a Polish or Soviet supply convoy for supplies.

In short, the verdict is this scenario pack is a veritable gold mine of miniature gaming ideas. We'll be covering Free City of Krakow next! See you next time!


Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Short Entry

Hello all from the windy world of Twilight: 2000!

Been giving a lot of thought to many of the things I have said and written about. I intend to get to some more practical modeling articles, as well as some more writeups.

But I wanted input from you the reader!

So here is what I need? In the comments section, please let me know, am I?

a) On the right track?
b) We need more eye candy?
c) Some other ideas?

One of the other ideas I had was doing a module a week review with an eye towards dissecting it for the opportunities for miniatures play. We'd start at Kalisz and work our way forward all the way towards the end of the 1st Ed modules (they did a couple of modules for 2nd Ed, but those in my mind, didn't have a lot of minis opportunities, unless of course, you play Merc: 2000)?

I wanted to get your input because as my nuptials come up and my workload increases during the spring, posting time is going to become a bit limited, and I want to make sure, you the reader is happy with what's going up. I enjoy writing this blog, for sure, but I want my readers to stick around.

So here is your chance to speak your mind on what has come before, and what is to come ahead!

Don't be shy everyone!

BTW, I just noticed, it's our 15th post. Man the milestones just keep coming, don't they?


Monday, March 20, 2017

Back from Cold Wars - Notes for the blog!

Well, another day, another blog entry it seems. I attended Cold Wars 2017 for the day on Saturday, and had a damn good time. Usually, I am resigned to just doing some shopping and chatting, but this weekend seemed blessed.

First, I hit the dealers area and ran into the folks from Covert Intervention Games whom are taking over the Force 20 line, I will be updating this article to reflect this. In the more exciting news, they will also be exclusively manufacturing Ehliem Miniatures entire product line in the US. This is an exciting thing! Matt, as much as I love you, shipping from England can be brutal, even with the lower exchange rate of pound to the dollar. I see this being a very lucrative partnership. I arranged a meeting with the proprietor, J. Reid "Streak" Denton. He is friendly, knowledgeable and local to me (in Woodbridge, as I am in Fairfax), in the future to speak on things T2K and other sundries will be coming in the near future. I even got some sample figures and a bag of colored smoke for signal grenades!

A sadder duty that I performed was to get some face time with Frank Chadwick primarily to offer my condolences concerning Loren Wiseman. Frank was busy running a Desert War Command Decision game next to the game I managed to get into. I waited till he was done, and went over and wished him my deepest condolences for Loren Wiseman. Mr. Chadwick, was, as always, the gracious and humble fellow we know him to be, and after a short 30 second conversation, we parted ways. He described Loren as "a great guy". I didn't have a chance to meet Loren personally, but all accounts agree with that. Again, thank you Mr. Wiseman, we have a really fun game universe to play in, thanks to you.

The convention itself was a bit on the sparse side in terms of attendance I thought. Especially at peak hours. I cannot say why that was, and the flea market didn't have a whole lot that grabbed me, except for some rubbled buildings (including a church, which will look great on any table), and some more trees from a young lady who has a really promising career in terrain building and baking ahead of her (I always buy trees from her). I also picked up in the dealer's area about 30ft of the Hot Wheels Road Tape I have been hearing so much about. It looks great for modern roads, and a little weathering and distressing would go a long way with this stuff, at $8 a roll, it was a bargain. 

Much of the rest of the convention was focused on my WW-II likes, as well as my Full Thrust fleets, so I will discuss, at least the WW-II side on our sister blog, FestungPlatz

I did my share to wear my threatened "Twilight 2000" T-Shirt with the First Edition Cover painting on it, and pimp the blog. That got a lot of attention. Hope to see some folks come looking from Cold Wars. 

In short, a fun time to be had.

More to be said later on FestungPlatz.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Villages, Part 2

I want to thank Phil Hatfield for pointing some things I had neglected when I had written the original article about villages. His points were excellent and as such, inspired this sequel.

A Glimpse of A Town

As stated in my previous article, villages are like road stops on the post apocalyptic road trip that Twilight: 2000 often is. And every village has a certain look, in fact, a village can have many kinds of looks depending on who's running the place, as well as the materials and skill base available, this is especially true when it comes to the defenses of the village, which is the thing that interests most miniature wargamers the most.

As stated in my article on buildings, the look of Twilight: 2000 buildings are a mix of pre-war buildings held together with contemporary materials (and most of them not having been cleaned recently), or post-apocalyptic shanty towns and tent cities to accommodate the hordes of refugees that have shown up to seek any sort of "lifeboat in a storm."

The village defenses will range from amateurish to deadly professional, and will be as much a mix of materials as one can find. Everything from scavenged explosives, punji pits, cheaveu-de-frix, abatis, to simple walls made up of earth, rubble or both can and will be seen as part of a village's defenses. Entering a town is an experience in Twilight: 2000, as many towns have become wary of well armed strangers, most of the time, any strangers will be asked to disarm before they are allowed entry and the doors into a village wall are usually some of the best guarded and fortified in town.

All roads into town will be blocked by whatever is handy, from 18 wheelers, to (if you want to borrow a neat idea from the movie Stake Land), functioning railroad locomotives. The interior of town will be shabby and crowded, with trash pickup a memory, though how shabby will depend on how serious the town is to avoid disease and vermin infestation.

Any and all gas stations or store that sold propane is long since empty, probably with boarded up windows, their snack bars long since looted. The town might be using the place for the municipal still(s) now, but there are other places they might be using as well.

Other than the outer walls, the town hall and the police stations are both heavily guarded, if your nation had permissive gun laws before the war, the sporting goods and gun stores have either been likewise looted, or the guns and ammunition seized to help form the local militia.

Any grocery stores likewise either stand empty, or are now the town municipal larder, and are as well guarded as the town hall or the police station, though this will depend upon the construction of the store in question.

Most villages in Twilight : 2000 do not have any sort of real electrical power. The ones that do often generate either by water, wind, or a surviving nuclear power plant. In any of these cases, the village will take great pains to disguise the fact that it does, in fact, have electricity. Nothing will attract marauders to a town like unshielded light in the distance.

Every square inch of land, including former parks, play fields, and playgrounds will be cultivated to grow food, and most farm animals will be breeding stock. Meat will be somewhat rare in the average villager's diet, unless they go hunt for it.

Any roads in town will be in poor repair, and nobody should be using any road bonuses on a table.

Scenario Ideas

  • A typical Marauder attack on a fortified town, numbers and defenses should be carefully balanced to make for a challenging game, but keep in mind, both sides are fighting for their lives. The villagers cannot afford to give up the amount of food the marauders want, and the marauders need the village's larder to get through the winter to come. A neat twist is to have a small band of infiltrators loyal to the marauders available to sabotage the town's defenses.

  • A riot breaks out in a town occupied by government forces when the government brings in refugees and forcibly resettles them in the confines of the town. The militia of course, sides with the village. The refugees should be a large number, but unarmed for the most part, while there should only be a small, but well armed force of government troops.

  • A small force of villagers have hired some American mercenaries to help them retake their town (or what's left of it) from a band of marauders. The marauders have left little standing and few survivors, but the villagers won't know that till they get into town. After that, they might not bother with a thing called prisoners...

Monday, March 13, 2017

Blog News...and a bit about villages...

Ok, first, the blog/personal news. Even with the weather, the convention season marches on. And so do I. I have managed to finagle a day trip on Saturday to Cold Wars. I try to make the various HMGS cons as often as I can (have a long, and happy history with them), but yeah, with the upcoming nuptials? That probably will be my only con this year, though who knows?

But I am excited to potentially see fans and other curious readers (I suspect the latter outnumbers the former), I'll be the fella in the black shirt with the first ed Twilight: 2000 cover on the front!

Yeah, I will stand out..but that's the point, no?

Anyhow, enough about me and my travels!

A Few Notes About Villages

Villages are the usual touchstones of every Twilight: 2000 adventure. They're the road stops on the post-apocalyptic road picture Twilight:2000 can become. And the problems are many, some of the more memorable include the little village of Ostrow, who was occupied (very) unwillingly by the Soviets in Escape from Kalisz, to Dobrizieden, who had an American unit in residence (with a somewhat unstable and certainly haunted commander), in Black Madonna.

Not all problems are gameable on the tabletop, but many can be, given an imaginative and resourceful referee.

Take Dobriziden. At first glance, this would seem like a hard thing to base a miniatures game around, right? Wrong. Dobriziden has some fairly interesting neighbors. To the north, there is the remains of the 129th Motor Rifle Division, which according to Black Madonna, is holding together under Colonel Kasnov's middle of the road leadership till he can march the division home in the spring (the adventure taking place in the Fall of 2000). The division is teetering on the edge of joining the 9th and 38th Tank Divisions in flying apart and becoming bandits scattered all across Eastern Poland.

To the south? There is the Markgraf of Silesia. The Markgraf is by no means your stereotypical fascist maniac, but he is someone who can at best, be charitably described as a warlord. Now, that said, like many of the more "benevolent" war lords to be found in the world of Twilight: 2000, he usually asks "please" before he annexes you, and would rather you join willingly, pay his taxes and in return, he brings law, order, and peace. He is also very involved in the running of his kingdom, and is not above replacing a bad subordinate or two, probably violently. In short, he is about as good as you can expect under the circumstances.

This does put Dobriziden in a bit of a fix. The people are very attached to B Troop for the things they have done to protect the town. In the adventure White Eagle, we have a throw away bit where Dobriziden joins the Margraveate, and Molly's position as mayor is pretty much confirmed, but I never thought much of that resolution.

A better resolution? Or perhaps a more challenging one? Captain Warren gets word that Operation Omega is happening and the USAEUR is going home. She cannot in good conscience leave the town of Dobriziden undefended, and yet, she knows some of her troopers are going to want to go home, probably enough of them to matter. As much as Dobriziden has become a second home, it's not Idaho, where most of the 116th ACR hails from, so, Warren hatches an almost insane plan. She decides to try and march the people of Dobriziden to the Warta, where an enterprising tugboat captain has promised to sail the lot of them to Bremerhaven, and home.

The tabletop opportunities there are rife, think Battlestar Galactica, minus the space elements, instead of a "rag-tag fleet searching for Earth", it's a "rag-tag column headed for the Warta." Marauder ambushes, set piece raids on Soviet positions, or perhaps a Margavate roadblock trying to convince the column to turn around and go home, there's plenty of possibilities. 

And that's just one village folks...and there's a lot of villages in Twilight: 2000.




Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Marauders - Vultures of Twilight: 2000

Marauders - An Introduction

Marauders are one of the most prolific problems for Player Characters in the Twilight: 2000 RPG. Name an adventure from the game that didn't deal with them, even as a minor nuisance. Often, they were a major problem, being the focus of a major part (or the entire) adventure.

Marauders are in many ways, a problem that is a result of the collapse of civilization, rather than something that caused it. As one captured marauder said in Red Star, Lone Star. "A guy has to eat." And this is the driving force behind a lot of marauder bands: They gotta eat.

Many of these bands have little to no skills other than to kill people and break things, and many of them are, either because of the war, or pre-war experiences and predilections, too anti-social to be willing to hire themselves out as mercenaries to anybody. It's easier to rob the merchants and peasants..and that's if said merchants and peasants are lucky (I won't go into potential details, it's not germane, and I am not a lurid fellow for the sake of being lurid).

What does matter is how to reflect these marauder bands on the table top. I am going to use the TV show, The Walking Dead to illustrate further the loose "taxonomy" one can find with marauder bands in Twilight:2000, but by no means, is this taxonomy perfect at all.

We will also discuss how this works on a miniatures table.

Marauders - A Taxonomy

Marauders can be divided up into three rough groups, the first is what I call Brigands. These are your typical marauders, they're not nice folks, but they are clearly in it for what they can get. They're cowards at heart, because they aren't going to hit anyone they can't clearly handle, and will flee if they hit any sort of real resistance. Their roots are a mix of escaped prisoners (except clearly the most sociopathic, as they are "bad for business"), deserters, and embittered refugees and villagers forced into this life because they have nothing else and their pre-war world has been turned upside down (a large portion of former urbanites should fall into this category, see the adventure Allegheny Uprising for an excellent example of this).

Examples of this are most marauder groups found in the game's encounter table. They are usually small groups, though they can be larger (Baron Czarny's "army" from Ruins of Warsaw) and even grow into "kingdoms" (the Megapunks in Boston in Last Submarine come to mind), but are usually riven with infighting (enlightened self interest is not a feature of these bands). Another good example are pre-war biker gangs. All of these bands have one thing in common, they are callous and cruel to be sure, but not because they can be, but when it suits their "business model". 

A good example in the Walking Dead is the Claimers. Joe is a cruel, hard, and merciless man with a twisted code of honor. But he is not above acts of shocking violence to get what he wants, or to exact what he considers "justice".  Joe in Twilight: 2000 would be a very common marauder leader, and thus would be a very dangerous fellow to deal with.

The next type is the Viking model. These guys are the closest thing to "Robin Hood" you are going to find in Twilight: 2000, but they hardly limit their theft to the rich. Everybody pays tribute. If you don't, you get raided. They are in many ways, entrepreneurs in the new "scavenger and barter" economy. They are capable of relations with unincorporated communities, but those communities are often stronger then they are. They are shrewd statesmen, and aren't stupid at all. Often, these bands become full-fledged warlord kingdoms, there are laws, and everyone is expected to live by them..or else. Justice is often swift, and violent, but it is a form of law and order. The makeup of these bands are similar to brigands, but with less sociopaths, and more specialists and civilians (these Vikings often attract followers, as they tend to be a more acceptable lot to fall in with).

Examples of this are large (The "Duke" of New York from Armies of the Night) and small. But they have one thing in common, a charismatic leader who has a Machiavellian gift for governing.

A good example from The Walking Dead is Negan. He is Machiavellian, but unpredictably brutal. His society has rules, though they are enforced capriciously, and often without regard for anyone on the wrong end of them. He does see value in people as assets and often spares their lives, and his prohibition against rape is something of an interesting twist for such a character. But the unpredictable level of violence is something that will eventually inspire a coup or a revolt. His tribute system, does however, keep the level of violence at a simmer, but the capricious nature of Negan would make this an unstable arrangement.

A third type is what I call the Reaver type. These are folks who basically have decided to throw their hand against all other men. Either they murder everyone in the aftermath of a raid, or they practice cannibalism, they are often a dangerous threat to all concerned. The makeup of these bands is rarely stable, and once the leader dies, the band often falls to infighting.

Makeup of these bands are to be honest, the worst of the worst, escaped pre-war prison and mental ward sociopaths, or those triggered by 18 months of war culminating in a limited nuclear exchange. These folks can and do justify any manner of behavior, and are some of the most dangerous folks to run into in Twilight :2000. They are often fanatics, and will stop at nothing for their next meal or toy for their creative tortures. A well-written example of these types is the band described from the Challenge magazine adventure Rifle River.

A good example from The Walking Dead is the community of Terminus. Their justification of becoming "hunters" and using guile and deceit to lure new victims into their community to be eaten is a very good example of what a Reaver band run amok can accomplish. They are large by Reaver standards, as most Reaver bands, due to their nature tend to reach a "critical mass".

A fourth and final example is just as deadly as the Reavers, and that is the Cultists. Cultists are formed around a religious or spiritual belief that has been corrupted beyond all recognition by the stresses of the apocalypse. They are often led by someone who has both a force of charisma, and an amoral sense of self. Their societies are formed from the weak, the desperate, and the lost, and every single one of those in the society are willing to kill and to die for them, fearing that the dangerous "outside" will one day come in.

Victims of these bands will often be given a choice, join or die. The choice, as it turns out, isn't much of one, as those on the bottom of the social structure live in slavery, and are not trusted with even their own lives. Families are broken up, and the entire society is set against each other to forestall a coup.

The real trouble begins when the leader invariably dies and either the entire society suicides, or the society breaks up into a religious war between various factions of the cult. (Satellite Down is an excellent example of a cult, and the trouble brewing).

In The Walking Dead, The Governor has something of a cult of personality going, he is amoral, and possibly quite insane and uses the "outside" as a moral cudgel against his own community. He stresses that his rule is as good as it gets. But when things turn bad for him in his war against Rick Grimes and his allies, he thinks nothing of shooting his own in the back. He lies, cheats, and, steals to get what he wants, and callously weaponized the undead, regardless of the risks.

So, What Does All This Mean on the Tabletop?

On the tabletop, a lot of the nuance can be reflected in the morale rules you use for a given scenario when using marauders. Reavers and Cultists will tend towards the more fanatical bent, but on the other hand, the given targets of their attentions will not be inclined to surrender, knowing their fate is worse than death, Brigands and Vikings are more likely to see a surrender, but their terms had best be generous, lest the defenders become ones that would do the ghosts of Stalingrad proud.

Another idea can be in the victory conditions. Reavers and Cultists want prisoners, but the Reavers should also get points for wanton destruction. Brigands are more classic raiders, and will most likely want anything that isn't nailed down, whereas Vikings will want as much intact as they can manage.

Some scenario ideas include:

  • A Reaver band is about to overrun a lightly defended town, and the men have decided to stay behind and buy time for their women and children to flee to a neighboring town, can they, and a small band of American soldiers make a difference?

  • A Viking band is facing an uprising, but what they don't know is a neighboring community fed up with said band's raids is backing the village that is in revolt.

  • A coalition of communities is truly fed up with the antics of a bunch of Brigands, and catches them in camp. The brigands get points for each figure that escapes, and the coalition isn't in a prisoner taking mood.



Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Our 10th Post!

This won't be just a celebratory post, I promise. I actually will discuss what cantonments look like in Twilight: 2000 and why they're important for a) the combatants, and b) a great idea to focus a game around.

First, the response to the blog has been simply, well, phenomenal. I want to thank everyone who has commented here, on Facebook and elsewhere. It's really inspired me, not just to write more about something that has been my gaming obsession since 1985, but to get painting again (now if I can find the time, with my upcoming nuptials in October). This alone was a great thing with this blog.

In short, thank you everyone.

Cantonments and the Logistics of Broken Backed War


Now onto our subject at hand, Cantonments.

Cantonments are the revival of an older concept. To quote the definition from wikipedia:

cantonment (/kænˈtɒnmənt//kænˈtnmənt/, or UK /kænˈtnmənt/) is a military or police quarters.[1]
The word cantonment derives from the French word canton meaning corner or district.[2] and describes a place during a military campaign, such as winter quarters, where units of an army may be encamped for longer periods than they are during advances and retreats. The term shares an etymological origin with the Swiss Cantons though the meaning has widely diverged.

Cantonments in Twilight: 2000 fit the French definition to a "T". They are the encampments (mostly temporary, but just as often, permanent) of the remains of the various divisions and brigades (in name only in many cases), that are still in action.

"Action" in a large, conventional sense in Twilight: 2000 is a bit of a misnomer. Considering most military units have their hands full with their own logistical concerns (often growing their own food, and locating a source of potable water)..the fact remains, many forces in Twilight: 2000 have a very short window in which to campaign, before they must get their crops planted, or harvested. It's all very reminiscent of warfare before the 19th Century.

Consider something? In the adventure Ruins of Warsaw, the community of Silece could only put 300 men into the field. And they were pretty well armed by contemporary standards, and that was only for a short time, because the crops needed to be brought in. And they were still outnumbered...and outgunned by the Baron Czarny, who had 1000 under arms..but not enough food to feed all the mouths in his confederation of cutthroats. He had to take the city before the first snows. And he had to resort to some pretty desperate means to do so (including getting chemical weapons, or trying to).

In short, the big push in this adventure? The onset of winter. Winter in Twilight: 2000 isn't sitting by the fire and enjoying the holidays..It's praying you don't either freeze or starve to death.

So how does this matter for the tabletop?

Because for most armies, cantonments are their homes, their encampments, and their winter quarters, and other groups of all kinds, if they are desperate, or well armed enough, are going to want them for themselves. Smaller scenarios also lend themselves well to this, foraging and scrounging parties might be ambushed by marauders. Deals between cantonments (even in the same army) might go bad, the possibilities are endless.

But what does the average Cantonment look like?

Glimpse of a Cantonment (taken from Krypton Radio site and IP is GDW/FFE)

In short, imagine a cross between a Vietnam-era firebase, and a shanty town. The shanty town is populated by a mix of camp followers and what we would call independent local contractors who serve the various needs of the unit in the cantonment (brass re-loaders, machinists, etc.) These people are there to serve the unit, and often follow it on campaign, in return, the unit protects them.

Defenses are a mix of improvised (dug in tanks that no longer run, punji stakes, abatis, homemade land mines, fougass barrels, etc.) and piles and piles of sandbags,  trenches and sheet metal. There is often a ring wall around the camp, where there is all the buildings such as barracks, garages, warehouses and all the other sundries a unit of a given size needs to run.

Sentries on the walls are often given what little night vision equipment that the unit still possesses, the sentries are often the only warning a unit is given that there is something wrong before there is an attack on the cantonment.

Farms should surround the cantonment, and should be walled off with either rubble or barbed wire fence walls. Again, these are mostly tended by the civilians, but the unit will place a high priority on the protection of these farms, though they won't defend them to the death, it would be a foolhardy extension of the perimeter.

To show one on the tabletop, you could start with the myriad of Vietnam-era firebase terrain out there in 15 and 20mm. Most of the buildings in the interior would be of the post-apocalyptic "franken-build" variety, or issue tents that have somehow survived that long. The motor pool, still farm, and grain storage areas, not to mention the armory will all be as heavily guarded as possible, but the main emphasis will be to make sure no attacker gets past the wall in the first place.

The shanty town will be close to the wall, but there will be a cleared area between it and the wall, as the unit commander will want good fields of fire, and as such, has probably burned down/tore down with an AFV a few shanties to make his point to the unit followers.

In short, think Roman Castrum, but with automatic weapons and the deviousness of 5000 years of warfare behind it to develop all sorts of nastier surprises.

Scenario Ideas for the Tabletop

  • A full out attack on the cantonment, it's either a raid in force by a smaller marauder band meant to snatch and grab what they can, or a larger band meant to take the cantonment for themselves.
  • A small foraging/scrounging party is in an abandoned village when it is hit either by a marauder band, or by the former inhabitants.
  • A coup is launched by a dissatisfied officer for control of the unit. Various elements of the unit must now decide whether or not they back the coup, or remain loyal. This scenario can have elements of roleplaying, and should also reflect what happens to the camp followers.








Friday, March 3, 2017

Twilight: 2000 - The Look on the Table, Part 3, Uniforms (LONG POST)

Many armies of the Twilight War are at the very end of their logistical rope, and the days of natty uniforms are definitely at an end. With the collapse of modern industry with the opening of the nuclear exchange, spare uniform items and new uniforms are at a premium (It would be hard pressed to know when the last time your average infantryman in Twilight: 2000 has seen anything approaching a proper field laundry). Many uniforms are a collection of scrounged items, surviving items, lovingly mended, and items of local manufacture, maintained to whatever local standard can be managed.

So how is all this reflected on the table top?

So What Came Before?

The uniforms that many of the armies went to war with in the Twilight War were a reflection that many armies in the 1990s were in transition (even if the Cold War did not end in 1991, many armies had decided to update their uniforms, and these modernization plans would have proceeded).

So, what did these uniforms look like?

Camopedia is a great resource for this, if you aren't using it, you should. It is simply an exhaustive and amazing resource. Internet searches will often find the rest you happen to be looking for.

The United States of America: The United States was soldering on into the Twilight War with the ubiquitous M81 Woodland Camouflage Uniform (affectionately known as the BDU, short for Battle Dress Uniform). It was copied by a number of nations, but the United States was the most prolific wearer of the uniform.

M81 Woodland Pattern Camouflage

As the war ground on, and supplies of M81 uniforms began to run short, other, older uniforms began to be issued to later mobilizing formations, this was especially true of units being formed after the nuclear exchange. A mix of OG-107 Uniforms and in some cases, the Tropical Combat Uniforms from Vietnam were issued or used as replacement uniforms.  

OG-107 Uniform (taken from Soldier of Fortune webshop)


Tropical Combat Uniform (taken from Soldier of Fortune webshop)

Though these uniforms were issued "as is" it was often the case, especially during the long winters of the war, that they were modified by soldiers in cantonment, common modifications were the addition of the US Flag patches, the addition of thigh cargo pockets to the OG-107 trousers, and darkening of the brass belt buckle of the OG-107 belts.

Desert uniforms were in the three color pattern, which had begun issue in 1991, and by 1995, had reached all of the units slated for deployment to the Middle East (in some cases, being issued right on the tarmac or pier side as units departed for Iran).

Three Color Desert BDUs

The huge stocks of the original six-color "chocolate chip" pattern were distributed to a variety of American allies, especially Iran, but as the war ground on, some wound up with American units as replacement issue due to the fact no new three color uniforms were arriving from the United States.

Six Color Desert BDUs

The United Kingdom: The British Army was going through a transition from the Pattern 1984 and the Pattern 1994 (which had seen limited issue) to the Soldier 95 uniform system, which was meant to function in any environment.  Soldier 95 did see issue to most of the Regular formations, as well as to the Royal Marines, but many of the TA (Territorial Army) formations, as well as conscripts, went to war before the nuclear exchange in a mix of Pattern 1984 and Pattern 1994 uniforms. Incidentally, many regulars wore the tropical pattern of DPM pre-war. It is distinguished by a slightly lighter shade of colors involved in the pattern, but it is hard to tell unless you know what you are looking for.

Soldier 95 Pattern

Pattern 1994 DPM

Pattern 1984 DPM

After the nuclear exchange, the issue of uniforms got a bit more confused, and stocks of all three uniforms ran low. While a wartime economy uniform in olive green known as the "98 Pattern" was issued, supplies of it were often low as the British textile industry (like much of the economy) was in shambles. Thus, a mix of uniforms was often issued, such as tropical DPM, desert DPM, and in at least one case, Korean-war issue Battledress that had been found in a warehouse, complete with Denison smocks.

The Federal Republic of Germany: Germany was in a transitional phase with it's uniforms when war came. While about a third of the Bundeswehr had converted over to the new Flektarn uniform (this was mostly concentrated in the airborne units, and some of the Panzergrenadier battalions attached to the Panzer divisions), most were still soldiering on with the old Olivgrun uniform, this was especially true in the reserves.

Flecktarn Camo Pattern

Olivgrun Combat Uniform

As the war went nuclear, and the supply lines broke down, later arriving replacements, as well as uniform replacements became a mix of sources, mostly consisting of the Splitternmunster pattern uniforms which had been retired in the 1960s. Not many of these were issued, as there were ample stocks of the Olivgrun uniforms, and due to it's simplicity, it was easy to produce new Olivgrun uniforms from cottage industries.

Splitternmunster Pattern

As for the East Germans, their army's integration with the West German one was to say the least, a thorny issue that was decided, best left for after the war. Thus, the East Germans went to war with what they had and wore their distinctive Strichmunster, or "rain" camouflage for the entire war, with ample stocks available as replacement issue as needed.

Strichmunster Pattern

Canada: The Canadian Army was in the midst of a planned transition from the Olive Green Combat Uniform which had been around since the 1960s to the planned issue of CADPAT (which wound up never actually being issued until well after the Twilight War). Thus, the Army continued to soldier on with the Combat Dress for the entire war, even after the nuclear exchange, as with the German Olivgrun uniform, it was easy to produce in many cottage industries.

Canadian Army Combat Dress (taken from Canadian Army.com)


Union of Soviet Socialist Republics:  The Soviets at the beginning of hostilities had a dizzying array of uniforms they issued their forces, including the ubiquitous khaki uniform (which had been modernized in 1985 and now had cargo pockets and a field cap and was affectionately known as the "afghanska" ). Most camo patterns were issued as either a one piece or two piece pullover.

This however, began to change in 1981, with the issue of the tritsvetnaia kamuflirovannaia odezhda
(TTsKO) pattern. TTsKO was at first, issued as a six-pocket uniform meant for VDV and SF personnel, but it rapidly was developed into a variety of other patterns and uniforms.(It was by no means, general issue, however).  

By 1995, many Category A units were wearing some form of TTsKO "afghanska", or at least khaki "afghanska", with TTsKO pullover smocks and many other B and C units had at least been issued some version of the older KLMK one or two piece smocks, and also wore "afghanska".  Many Mobilization Only units made do with a mix of World War II "leaf" pattern camo smocks and wore the M-1969 uniforms, this was especially true after the nuclear exchanges.


TTsKO Green/Brown Pattern, this was the most common Soviet camouflage pattern seen in Europe during the Twilight War.

M-1985 Summer Uniform, the most common uniform worn by Soviet forces during the Twilight War (taken from russianwarrrior.com)

The M-1969 Uniform, this began to become more common with Mobilization Only divisions called up after the nuclear exchange, or as replacement uniforms to other units. (taken from Russianwarrior.com)

A later pattern of KMLK pattern camouflage

Poland: The Polish Army had a number of uniforms it was transitioning into and out of when hostilities broke out in 1996. There was first, the wz89 "Zaba" pattern, which had seen general issue throughout the Polish military, but was being phased out in favor of the wz93 pattern, which bore a resemblance to the American M81 pattern. Alas, the only units that got wz93 uniforms were the 6th "Pomeranian" Air Assault Division, and the 7th Marine Division. As for called up reserve units, including the ORMO, they made do with varying versions of the wz68 "Moro" or "worm" uniform. Many of these latter uniforms were later issued as replacements as stocks of the Zaba uniform ran out and home made versions of the Moro (often without the "worms") were made in Krakow for the city's defense forces.

wz89 "Zaba" pattern of camouflage

wz93 pattern of camouflage

 
wz68 "Moro" pattern of camouflage

Czechoslovakia:  The Czechs were transitioning from their long serving "needles" pattern of camouflage uniform, which was based on a Polish design, to a new "leaf" pattern that looked vaguely like the US M81 Woodland pattern. 

Issue of the new uniform began on the eve of the Soviet invasion of China, and was limited to select  Category A units in the Czech Army when the war began in Europe. All of the other elements of the army, along with the paramilitary organizations soldiered on with the older "needles" pattern.

After the nuclear exchange, many uniforms began to be replaced with local copies of the "needles" pattern (often without the needles, leading to a uniform that hued from slate to light grey, though such poor quality control was common even before the war, it just became more pronounced after the exchange, with one unit being dressed in "needles" pattern uniforms with the grey background being almost pink, the uniforms being made in a former dress factory). This continued for the rest of the Twilight era, as the uniform was easy to produce in local industry.

 Vz95 "Leaf" camouflage pattern



"Needles" pattern camouflage

In the Field

In addition to the "war economy" versions of uniforms being issued, or the older ones being pulled from warstocks, there was a myriad of improvisation being carried out by the soldiers themselves in the field. The long winters of the war, especially after the exchange, gave soldiers long periods to modify their uniforms in a myriad of ways, and as discipline became more relaxed at the front with regards to dress and grooming standards, soon, the only standard became "make sure your own side knows who the hell you are."

Thus, creations like the US 8th Infantry Division's "Red OGs" as collectors call them, where captured Soviet uniforms, dyed crudely with Olive Drab dye (closer to olive than drab), and adorned with crude US flags were born. (Page 1, Uniforms in the Twilight War, Langham)

To give you an idea of what a single US infantryman looked like by the year 2000, take the example of this US Marine in Iran:


Steel helmet with old pattern desert cover (although this appears to be a Kevlar cover), Soviet paratrooper (“hooped”) T shirt under a Pakistani copy of the British “woolly pully” with added chest pockets (probably ex Iraqi Army), new pattern BDU trousers and French boots. Woodland pattern assault vest with British 90 pattern NBC pouch worn by waist strap. (Page 2, Uniforms in the Twilight War, Langham)



As time went on, many armies settled for simply "issuing" new soldiers a simple armband, this was especially common when those troops were to be used for internal security duties. These armbands came in many sizes and shapes, with the best well known being the New American "Blue Lone Star" armband.

In short, by the time the fighting ended due to the mutual exhaustion of the combatants, it could be said that no two soldiers on the same side, let alone the opposite side, looked alike.

On the Table

So, how best to do this on the table? There are a myriad of ways, putty, files, use of after market vehicle kits (which often have rucksacks). Many figure manufacturers sell separate heads, such as Ehliem, Ground Zero Games, Peter Pig, and Raventhorpe, to name a few. A simple head swap alone can make a lot of difference in making a figure look more "Twilight: 2000".

Armbands are a simple matter with putty, it doesn't take much to do so, and in fact, scale thickness is key, simply take a small pinch of putty, pull it around the arm, let settle, and then paint appropriately.

Never be afraid to raid a bit box, as there are a ton of things that can be found to modify figures, especially 20mm scale figures, but even 15mm figures can be changed if there is time and patience. Plastic figures, by and large, are easier to modify than metal, but with patience, putty, the right tools and time, metal figures can be easily modified.

Whatever changes you choose to make, keep in mind, plan your changes beforehand, and keep in mind, less is more. Making 8-10 changes in a figure risk all sorts of problems, whereas 2-3 changes keeps things manageable, and PLAN IT OUT BEFORE HAND. "Measure twice, cut once" isn't just a mantra, it's a good idea.

That concludes things here, next time, I will begin to talk more about my collection..and my slow and steady attempts to expand it.  















Thursday, March 2, 2017

Twilight: 2000, The Look on the Table, Part 2, Buildings

Today's piece will continue on the vein of part one with terrain. Terrain as we all know, makes the wargame. You can have great looking figures on a lousy table and it can ruin the effect. But vice versa can often make a game memorable in a good way.

Twilight: 2000, is as I said before, is a unique post-apocalyptic experience, not everywhere was nuked or fought over as part of the frontline, but everywhere felt the war. Everywhere felt the shortages, the collapse of modern civilization, law and order, and the lack of fuel. Everywhere is crowded, dirty, neglected, and standing in mute testimony to a lost age, but not a forgotten one. They are also symbols of what could be again, and what may still be worth fighting for.

This article will mostly concentrate on man-made terrain, as natural terrain will have not had much time to change, with only 2 years having elapsed since the exchange.

So, how do we reflect this on a table top?

Home Sweet Home

Very few buildings in Twilight: 2000 have power. Most haven't had their exterior cleaned in years. Many are either abandoned completely, left to the elements, or overcrowded with refugees looking for any port in a storm. Which type of building is entirely up to the proximity of said building to a conflict zone or a nuclear strike.

Inspiration can be found in a lot of places for buildings that are in places that have been fought over..Grozny comes to mind:

Note the details in the photo, many of the buildings are bombed out shells, with soot stains on the upper parts of the windows, (the soot stains are subtle, weathering has done it's work there). All the trees are dead husks, and the road is quickly becoming a churned up mess as the asphalt has been damaged from multiple tracked vehicles passing by. This is what the average conflict zone in the Europe of Twilight: 2000 should look like.

Even in places where the fighting was either light, or non--existent, there would still be damage, more due to neglect, rather than deliberate, man made damage. It might look something like this:

Note the mix of boarded up and empty windows (looting of intact window glass in Twilight 2000 is going to be common, nobody's making it any more). Note also the weathering on the roof especially, the yards gone to seed and the beginnings of weeds growing up from the sidewalks. This look is going to be common in Twilight: 2000 Britain and North America.

For nuked areas, the look is going to be a mix of this, as the nuclear exchange in Twilight: 2000 was a limited one for the most part. You can certainly pull ideas from such movies as "Threads", "The Day After" and "The War Game", but remember, those movies depict an exchange far worse than anything Twilight:2000 does.

But, here are some images for ideas:

Note the soot and small bits of rubble EVERYWHERE. Everything is weathered and dirty from the fallout coming down, no effort has been made to clean up (people are just trying to see the next dawn). This is going to be common on the outskirts of most places that got hit by a nuke,


This would be common closer to ground zero. Note the lack of roofs or windows, but that most of the buildings are still standing. Everything has burned, so remember to reflect that on your table and there are veritable piles of rubble that have not been cleared (though in Ruins of Warsaw, you would see systematic clearing of the rubble to re-purpose it for walls and other structures).


Putting it Together

So, now that we have seen some ideas for how the look should be, how do we reflect this on the table top, remember the themes: rubble, neglect, and time. All of these are going to play on a Twilight: 2000 table. But yet, people are going to re-purpose things to reflect the new reality, and new needs. Have your buildings have a story, and do not be afraid to doctor up any kits you get. Remember, Twilight: 2000 is a fountain for your creativity, let it loose.

So with that said, let's look at a couple of buildings I did up:

This is the first of two railroad buildings I worked up, I was living in DC at the time, so it was not hard to look around for weathering effects on buildings, especially abandoned ones. The posters and signs were homemade, taken from signs on the internet, then appropriately weathered. The boards were made of Starbucks swizzle sticks. 

One of the sides of the building that show clearly the weathering of the brick face, some white and light grey paint, mixed together and painted gingerly, then washed with some black work wonders here. As for the bit of grey paint in the lower center, that is a painting over of graffiti, it is a method that is in common practice in the US. The sign is there to warn folks this area has been evacuated due to radiation on orders of CG, 1st Army in 1998. I pictured this building being on the outskirts of Perth Amboy, or Linden, one of the NJ refinery towns that got hit in the CONUS strikes.

Here is my attempt at a tar paper roof over the plastic one that came with the kit. I cut up strips of toilet paper, then glued them paper mache style to the roof after soaking them through with a mix of white glue and water. You then let it dry overnight, paint it black with a mix of grey (I would say 70/30 black), let that dry, and then drybrush some off white or light grey on the top..the effect looks great. I got it from a guy who was doing scratchbuilt buildings for zombie games.

This building has a different story, it's in a small town in the Ozarks, and New America (a right wing fascist group making a play to take over the US that figured in several adventures) has set up shop in this building..and the locals are demonstrating their displeasure..violently. Note the shattered window, and the bullet holes. The paint is fading and weathering, I did the same method with the roof as the building above, and the trim was in a light blue, which was also then hit with a blackwash after it dried. In short, a great, gritty look.

 The weathering is more pronounced in this photo, and a New American propaganda poster and a proclamation of  some sort has been affixed to the building. In short, for just a little bit of work, the building looks just great. 


This is more of a generic ruin set I made from some cork I got at CVS, it's meant for bulletin boards, but it works great for this. Just that, some pushpins and some super glue (I used wood glue, but it turns out super glue works better). It's all you need for some awesome ruins, the other items are completely optional, but they really added to the look. Note the poster taken from the internet. I scoured the internet for Soviet propaganda posters and film posters. It's a gold mine out there if you know where to look.  


A close up of a poster I found, it was an online collection of Soviet Civil Defense posters from the 1980s. They looked great, and a little bit of smoke wash, and they will just pass nicely. the base coat is a nice grey, then just drybrush it an off white or lighter grey, then hit the whole thing with a heavy smoke wash (I like my rubble burnt out).

An overall look at the project, the wooden beams are swizzle sticks and the grates are taken from cartridge boxes, they're the plastic inserts that hold the bullets in place in the box. One thing about being a wargamer...always be on the lookout for cool ideas to beg, borrow, or steal. I have done my share of it. The cork ruin idea came from the same website I have Maxim to Minimi posted.

In short, terrain items are only as limited as your imagination..and your bits box. Dare to try some things, you'll be surprised with what you can accomplish!

One note, I will be expanding this to a part 3, I want to discuss uniforms. I will be supplementing an article by Mr. James Langham, as he has done a fine study on the subject, but I want to discuss it from a miniatures standpoint. 


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