Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Williamsburg Muster Convention Report - Part 1 (Parts 2 and 3 to be continued on FestungPlatz and Panzerfaust 150's Alpha Strike Blog)

This weekend, I attended the Williamsburg Muster convention at the Doubletree Inn in Williamsburg, VA. I split the report into three sections because, well, it would be really long otherwise, and I wanted to get the nice tidbits out to the folks who were interested in reading them.

First, details of the con. The hotel was much, much nicer than last year. Simply put, I was very impressed. But, because it was Memorial Day weekend, the attendance was depressed. I saw an empty main hall on the Saturday night of a convention...at 8PM. This is not a good thing. I spoke to a staff member, who said that they were down 100 from last year, and yes, they knew going in this might happen, but Memorial Day was the only slot they could get. C'est'la vie is all I can say on that score. 

So, what is of interest to readers of "500 Miles..."? Well, I spent a few moments with J. "Streak" Denton of Covert Intervention Games (CIG). Well, I was impressed, I got a look at some things that I can talk about...and some things, that for now, I cannot, but I can say this about the latter...readers, you are in for a treat, a real treat.

I got some WWII French Resistance folks from him (they'll do great for paratrooper games) but the main point is this..there are a lot of releases coming from CIG. Some, are from Ehliem Figures and are just gorgeous, such as these Ultra Modern Russians here (Twilight: 2020 anyone?): 

Figures by Ehliem, Photo by author

We also spoke of their new upcoming rules set, Defcon Zero, it looks great, and it reads well. (I got an inside baseball look, and that's all I am saying), but it looks great, and it fixes some issues I have found in other rules sets. 

That said, I am really excited, CIG has a plan and a vision, and I learned that some figures of interest to the Twilight: 2000 gamer don't sell all that well (it turns out the Ehliem MOPP suited Russians are not the big sellers I thought they were, for example). So, yeah, it looks as if I will be special commissioning anything I want that nobody makes for a while. No worries. I can deal with that.

We also spoke about the state of the Russian military currently, and he made me aware that Ospreys aren't the gold standard I thought they were. Streak is a very knowledgeable fellow, and I hope for one, that he enjoys the 20mm Rhodesians and that South African truck I gave him. I really didn't have a use for any of it and it wasn't selling at the Sunday Flea Market!

Speaking of that, I managed to get my hands on a First ed. Twilight: 2000 box set, along with a pair of adventures for $20! (The adventures were Urban Guerrilla and King's Ransom, IIRC, as I don't have it in front of me currently). 

Also of interest to the "500 Miles..." reader is my acquisition of two books in a series about the Iran-Iraq War:

Both images taken from Barnes and Noble.com

A further review will be forthcoming, but there are some editing issues with the books, and they are certainly not worth the full retail price I saw them going for at Historicon (For The Historian had them on sale at 20% off at the show). 

In short, it was a good con, even with the depressed attendance, and I had a lot of fun. Part 2 of this report can be found on FestungPlatz

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

For Manchester

But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour.
- Winston Churchill, June 18, 1940

I almost never comment on things political or contemporary on this blog. But Manchester was simply too, too much to ignore. Children were killed, and maimed, and all because they went to a rock concert.

To our UK readers..I share your outrage. As you supported us on 9/11. We support you now. Know that. To all those "downrange". Get some.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Module Suitability Review - King's Ransom

Image is taken from Twilight: 2000 Wiki, IP is GDW/FFE

King's Ransom is to me, "Indiana Jones meets the post apocalypse". It's chasing a valuable McGuffin (the Iranian Crown Jewels sound like something right out of a D&D game), through the devastated and unique vista of Iran. It's sweeping landscapes, and strange customs. It's all those things, and Frank Frey did a very good job tying it all together.

The story of the loss of the jewels is pretty well carried off, and their rediscovery, as well as the purpose they are put to? Straight out of something like the Maltese Falcon. The subplots, including a KGB Colonel, and a cheating wife, that could lead to the rebellion of the Communist army that the Soviets have built up in northern Iran, or a raid on the Soviet 45th Army staff. All of these things make this an adventure of unique value. One I am ashamed to say I never got a chance to run.

But how does this stack up as fodder for miniatures scenarios?

Skirmish Scenarios

We have quite a bit of fodder here, if only using the mountainous terrain of the Zagros mountains and gaming out the multiple patrol sized actions one can game out here. But there are some other ideas?

  • The initial raid on the Soviet signal company. That would make a pretty gameable scenario, and let's be honest, you'd have a use for all the specialty kits you find on the market these days!
  • The "Ducks in a Barrel" idea in the "Further Adventures" section of the book. It's a very gamable scenario, and the map is accurate enough that you could build a pretty nice terrain piece based on the map.
  • The defection of Colonel Shahrestani, this could make a good small-scale campaign if done right, and would fit right in for something like Black Ops.

Larger Scenarios

There are a few ideas here, such as gaming out the subsequent Soviet offensive that is in the offing, and you could also game out some of the Allied anti-marauder sweeps, which are described quite well in the book, though most marauder bands in the Allied held zone are not much larger than platoon sized bands,

But I like the idea of gaming out the rebellion of the Soviet-backed Tudeh army. Frank Frey hints at this being a strong possibility in King's Ransom, and a pretty good game could be done in the spirit of the Sepoy Rebellion, with the Soviets in the position of the British, but with a iffy supply line.

Well, that's as much as I can say for now. Next up will be a review of Last Submarine, which kicks off the second Twilight: 2000 trilogy and takes the game to interesting ports of call..so to speak. So, see you then!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Someone has done a conversion of an M1A2!

That's right, the old Giraffe itself! I am rather shocked how well it came out! Wish I could say I did it, but I didn't. Instead, this enterprising fellow on Lead Adventure Forum known as ultravanillasmurf made a very nice conversion! I am unsure as to what scale it is, however, as a wargaming model, it is pretty darn good.

UPDATE: After an additional readover of the forum post where this originated? It turns out it is 20mm! Yes, this is full of awesome.

Here are some photos!

Photo taken from Lead Adventure Forum, IP is Ultravanillasmurf

Photo taken from Lead Adventure Forum, IP is Ultravanillasmurf

You can read about the entire conversion process here

Module Suitability Review - Urban Guerilla

Image taken from Twilight: 2000 Wiki, IP is GDW/FFE

Urban Guerilla is described as an "adult" adventure where "..the dragon eats the fair maiden and has his way with the knight in shining armor." Victory is described as simply "..striking one more spark of resistance in the teeth of the New American hurricane.."

I must say, it delivers. Urban Guerilla came out when I was in the 7th Grade, and I read this adventure from cover to cover many times. Everybody wore grey hats. The New Americans were engaged in a subtle, nasty piece of genocide against their own population of Seconds and Thirds, and manipulated them through terror and "false-flag" attacks. But, the worst part? The resistance is fragmented, weak, and unable to do more than sting the New Americans here and there. Some of their actions could be seen as little more than terror itself, justifications aside, this adventure has a lot of grey.

Uglier than that bit of depressing news, New America is being made to work by a woman whose ideological corner cutting is the only thing making this enclave successful. Were New American rule to collapse without a viable alternative ready to move in? Yeah, I think we all know that answer.

(AUTHOR'S NOTE: My comments should in no way be taken as any endorsement of New America, or any real-life organization that shares their goals. Just stating some very unfortunate post-apocalyptic realities, namely that power abhors a vacuum.)

The adventure does a very good job at giving us a look at how New America functions..the bit about the "classification test" was very well done..and a bit creepy. Thomas Mulkey hit this one out of the park, in my opinion.

All of the subplots weave together well, such as the captured documents and the unfortunate courier at the beginning, ,the leader of the enclave..and her teenage daughter, the psychotic head of security, who has sent for an assassin to deal with his apostate boss, and the small matter of a father and daughter who are on opposite sides of the dirty war unfolding in South Florida, and a little boy caught in the middle.  Then there is the casual corruption, and the endless wars of "urban renewal" that lead to the deaths of thousands of ill-equipped Seconds and Thirds..and a potential rebellion in the ranks.

What a tangled web it truly is...but how does it translate well to a miniatures game?

Skirmish Games

To be honest, this is where Urban Guerilla shines, a lot of potential scenarios for rules like Black Ops can be found here, and there is a lot of mission fodder, some ideas include:

  • Smuggling the daughter of the enclave leader, and her boyfriend out to Milgov where they can be debriefed.
  • Rescuing the son of the leader of the clandestine resistance, and avoiding the New American trap they've set for just such an attempt.
  • Performing a prisoner snatch to grab a New American soldier and getting the results of an interrogation out.
  • Stopping a coup against the current leader of the New American enclave on the principle that the alternative could be far, far worse.

Larger Battles

There isn't a lot here for larger fights, but there are some possibilities, One of the best I can think of gaming out a popular revolt against the New Americans, particularly if it's in the confusion of a coup by the traditionalists who are unhappy with the current leaders "shenanigans". 

This has a lot going for it, and if done right, it could also make a good backdrop for some smaller battles as well. So all in all, there is something here, as there are some large forces arrayed against the New Americans (the Seminoles come to mind), and they just need something to unify them...

Next time, we'll be discussing King's Ransom. I accidentally skipped it as I have been trying to go in order of stock numbers, oh well. I promise I will discuss it and like always, there will be a lot of possibilities there.

So, have fun till then!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Yes..Another of Those Short Posts! Lots of Thank Yous Need to Go Out!

1. First, I want to say thanks again for all those who have supported the blog. With the recent release of the East African Sourcebook, and all the positive buzz here? Twilight: 2000 is back, with a vengeance. And to me? That is a good thing. Spreading the word of 80's post-apocalyptic fun is to me, a labor of joy..and doing it with miniatures? Even more fun. So to all the blog supporters and those spreading the word? Thanks to all of you (especially the members of the Red Storm Rising Wargaming and Twilight: 2000 groups on Facebook, you didn't write me off as some crazy spammer, and look what this thing has become, you guys put me there!) , and thanks to Marc Miller, for all he is doing to keep the game alive.

2. I want to again, give Covert Intervention Games another shout out. They mentioned us! Yep, that's right. "500 Miles.." is becoming a force in the hobby. A small force, to be sure, but it's always nice to be noticed, and I give a lot of credit to you, the reader. Thanks!

3. As you know, I am slowly but surely running out of 1st Ed modules to evaluate from a miniatures standpoint. Not to complain at all, but I intend to write some more about miniatures and modelling soon (I did promise). Specifically, I want to write about technicals and gun trucks and what you can accomplish in modeling them. As my modeling skills are to be fair..moderate at best, if anyone wants to contribute their work to discuss in an article? I'd appreciate it.

4. Please know, as much as I write this blog, and will be contributing the lions share of the work, I am not above, nor would I shrug off guest posts. In fact, I would welcome them. There is a whole big community out there, and I would love to hear from it. What would I be looking for?
  • Modelling articles?
  • Painting tips?
  • Terrain making tips?
  • Reviews of products I haven't mentioned here that might be of use to a tabletop gamer looking to do Twilight: 2000 inspired games?
  • Scenarios and AARs of games you have done that were inspired by the milleu?
I will be doing all these things and more, but I wanted to give you, the reader a chance to contribute as well.

So, if you're interested, fire up the word processor, I would love to see what comes of it. And as always, spread the word. "500 Miles.." is out there, and we'd like to reach all interested corners of the internet!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Module Suitability Review - Gateway to the Spanish Main

Image taken from rpggeek.com, IP is from GDW/FFE

Gateway to the Spanish Main is a very multi-layered adventure, and has a lot of fun moving parts. New American-backed pirates, the granddaughter of the head of Milgov in peril, and the small issue of a few thousand Cubans stuck very far from home, with their commander convinced that the Yanquis are coming in force.

Did we mention the adventure is meant for the heroes to start as escaped POWs? Aboard a movie copy of the USS Constitution? Yeah, this adventure has it all.

Then there are all of the opportunities the heroes of the adventure have to get a boat of their own, or just plain find some access to arms and ammunition...

It's got a lot going for it, and has a lot about Twilight: 2000 at sea. Moreover, it's just plain awesome as a sort of "Errol Flynn meets Mad Max".

But how does this work out for miniatures fodder?

Skirmish Scenarios

There is a lot of skirmish possibilities in this little scenario. And by a lot, I do mean a lot. If you ever wanted to do tall ships meets the post apocalypse, then this is the module for you. Some of the ideas one can play out are?
  • A fight between the Constitution, and a pirate vessel. Keep in mind this might be a more even fight than you might think, and that the crew of Constitution are experienced sailors, to put it mildly. But the pirates are numerous...
  • A raid by the Grenadian Constabulary or the NNP on the Cubans, or their lackeys in their "militia". Neither side is particularly well-equipped, but the Cubans are a bit more experienced than anyone else on the island, though there are some GGR folks who have a lot of experience compared to anyone on the island.
  • A raid by Constituion's marine contingent on one of the smaller pirate garrisons on Carriacou, or a hostage rescue game of some of the shipwrights being held hostage.
  • Gaming out a boarding action between two ships would also be a doable skirmish game, and could be done on a variety of ships. 

Larger Scenarios

The larger scenario possibilities are mostly of the naval variety, but a good game could be had on a raid on one of the ports on Carricou. Now that said, it would do well for a smaller scale (6mm), game. Special rules are going to have to be used reflect modern weapons in what is essentially, an Age of Sail game. In any case, the rules one would have to use would be quite unique.

One also needs to reflect that the pirates only have 106mm training ammunition for the RCLs. The weapons should not be as effective, but the fact is, it would make awesome scratch building opportunities for the ships involved, which rather resembles Pirates of the Vistula, only with tall ships.

Well, that is it for this week, next on the agenda, we'll be discussing Urban Guerrilla, or Twilight: 2000 in South Florida!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Module Suitability Review - Airlords of the Ozarks

Image taken from Twilight 2000 Wiki, IP is GDW/FFE

Airlords of the Ozarks to me, reflected a change in the "bad guys" in Twilight: 2000 from the traditional Soviets to something far more sinister, and familiar, New America. New America is born of the darkest fears about the Neo-Nazi movement from the 1980s. The ideas were borne of the seeming rise of the neo-Nazi movement, as well as the fears real, and imagined of the Christian Right. That said. New America, whatever your views, is to me, presented an "anti-Morrow Project" to pit against your players (and might have been a bit of a parody of said game, but that is my own position).

But on to the adventure. It's got a lot. The "recon" mission has sort of a creeping horror element to it, as you realize the true nature of the "Airlords" and what they have at their disposal (three dirigibles and a mess of ultralights). Air superiority in Twilight: 2000 against unprepared towns in the Ozarks is nothing short of devastating, as our heroes might find out.

The rot of New America goes as far as the state house in Little Rock in a side plot, and the mission to destroy New America's airfleet can resemble Guns of Navarone if done right. And there is the small issue of New America having some crude CALCMs at it's disposal...(Nice job MilGov). Yeah, you gotta destroy those too.

But that said, how does it do for miniatures scenario fodder?

Skirmish Games

For skirmish games Airlords of the Ozarks does very well on a skirmish scenario basis. There is a ton of fodder really, everything from ambushing New American patrols, to scouting out New American-held towns.

Some really neat ideas I have though are:

  • A raid to capture the leadership of the Jonesboro marauder band for interrogation, they would be a font of information on the nature of the "Airlords".
  • Raid on an New American LC (Long Contract) Labor Camp (re: Concentration Camp) to recover valuable prisoners as well as to perhaps rile up the prisoners in a general uprising.
  • A raid to capture a New American prisoner for interrogation.

Larger Scale Games

Airlords is some awesome fodder in my opinion for some larger scale games, especially for the climax of the adventure. Some of the more obvious ideas include:

  • A partisan raid stiffened by some American soldiers returned from Europe on the lair of the dirigibles, it would be especially exciting if there was one loaded with ALCMs ready to launch at MilGov and CivGov HQs. (relax, they aren't nuclear armed, but 1000kgs of HE won't tickle if aimed right). 
  • A fight between a captured dirigible and one held by the New Americans (what rules you would use for this, I have no idea).
  • Milgov sends the 197th Mech Brigade in from Memphis to crush the New American cell in the Ozarks, one town at a time (This would make an interesting micro armor game, and the New Americans, sans airships, aren't going to have a lot of anti-tank weapons to deal with the ironmongery the 197th can bring to bear).
In short, the scenario has a lot to offer, and the figures for New Americans are easy, just take a mix of Americans in uniforms from Vietnam to 90s era (ala my article on the subject)  and paint a blue armband with a white star in the middle. It should be a darker blue than the Somali flag, to be honest, and as for Ozarks terrain, there is some mention of it in my terrain article on what you can do for some ideas there. (You might have to scroll down). Vehicles for the New Americans would be a mix of pickup trucks and "technicals" for the most part.

Well, it's our 30th Post!! Thanks to everyone for their continued support and comments here. Your feedback makes this worthwhile! I apologize for the wait for this article, a cold laid me up for a few days. Our next entry will be Gateway to the Spanish Main, Post-apocalyptic pirates and kidnapped children to rescue, arr!

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