Monday, April 3, 2017

Module Suitability Review - Pirates of the Vistula

Image taken from Wayne's Books, IP is from GDW/FFE
Pirates of the Vistula has the tone of a "road movie" but with a tugboat as the car and the Vistula River as the "road". It has everything, a determined captain heading to an uncertain destination (this to be revealed in Ruins of Warsaw), betrayal by a member of the crew, an epic naval battle (of sorts), and places to see and help/interfere in along the way.

Meanwhile, with winter closing in, and the Vistula having seen better days, it's a race against nature and time to get to Warsaw and help Adam save his family before the river freezes over.

In short, it has a LOT to offer for Twilight: 2000 as an RPG supplement, but as a scenario generator for miniatures games, how does it fare?

Smaller Scenarios

For smaller scenarios, there is quite a bit here, many of the forays as detailed in the module by the muscle Adam hires in Krakow (aka the Player Characters) has a lot of skirmish gaming potential. It is a veritable smorgasbord of ideas, some of the ones that stand out to me are:

  • Liberating the small town of Niepolomice from the small band of Soviet deserters who have taken over the town. This would make an excellent Black Ops game in my opinion.
  • Clearing out the marauder band that has taken over the town of Tamobzreg, this would be more of a Force on Force game here. You could also make this a minor campaign and game out the subsequent attack on Sandomierz, though this might make a small game for a larger scale set of rules.
  • Gaming out the ambush of the Baron's Czarny's men at Gora Kalwaria. This also lends itself well to a Force on Force game.
  • Lots of fodder for boarding actions, either defending against one, or launching one against a pirate vessel? This can really lend itself well to Black Ops.

Larger Scenarios

One of the aforementioned scenarios for this is the Tamobzreg marauders attack on Sandomierz, it's small by the standards of most large scale rules, but it has enough to make a good game of it.

The other is the culmination of the module, the "naval" battle between the Baron's pirate fleet and the the Floating City's fleet led by the Wisla Krowla.

I personally have seen quite a few tugs and other boats in 15mm-ish scale, and with some heavy weapons retrofitted to the boats with some styrene and the like, you can make some real post apocalyptic riverine combatants. The nice part is the module does a very good job of laying out the types, sizes, and armaments of the combatants on both sides. Many of them are quite small, and presumably, could be scratch built. Sadly, I have seen a few WW-II Soviet and German coastal gunboats but nothing that would "fit the bill" for this. I am thinking one is going to have to get creative and find some children's toys?

UPDATE: Pete has advised me of the existence of a tug boat from Frontline Wargaming. I suspect it's not cheap and a very large hunk of resin, but it does exist!

Rules are a bit of a pickle for this, and I am at a bit of a loss as to how one would run this with the rules mentioned before. Perhaps a set of Civil War river monitor rules would work for the culminating fight?

In short, this module has got a lot going for it, and one can make quite a few miniatures scenarios out of this!

Also, consider the Vistula has seen better days, there are going to be a lot of river hazards that are going to figure in any naval game. But it would make for a challenging game!

Next up? Ruins of Warsaw!


  1. Great post.

    Frontline Wargaming do a tug boat that would be ideal for these sorts of games in 20mm.



  2. Replies
    1. I will correct that, the glory of the internet, actual Polish folks telling us how all these names are really spelled! ;-)

  3. We campaigned on table top with the tug and barge. plus some smaller boats and a 90' 2-mast Schooner and 54' Ketch that I scratch built in 1:96 of balsa. We made it to Boston from the Baltic via southern UK. Took several months of sessions to get it done and was pretty cool, even when tug almost sunk in a north Atlantic gale and was separated from the 'floatilla'

    1. Fred, if you have pics, feel free to send, I would love to add them to the article?

  4. And I recall the HoG made a 1:72 LST for a scenario, where one appeared... been about 30 years and I have problems remembering what I did an hour ago sometimes. :)

  5. Great Stuff!

    I just stumbled across your blog - I've been thinking of doing something similar for years - using my old T:2000 modules as scenario generators for various skirmish games - except in 28mm. A few years back I ran a few using Savage Worlds:

    For 28mm HLBS do a few boats that could possibly be converted:

    Including a tug:

    a bit smaller than the one in the game, if i recall correctly...

    1. I hadn't done any writeups for 28mm mainly because I don't know that much about the 28mm moderns market (to be honest, most of it seems geared towards recent events)

  6. I did the end River battle using Savage Worlds treating each boat or group of smaller boats like a separate unit. I didn't use minis per se...instead I used 3 different size of wooden Biscuits like these: because they were (forgive the pun) Ship shape.

  7. I'm doing g a P.A World where there is mass flooding and plan to use the rules in this module for all of the boats and water action.


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