Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Module Suitability Review - Boomer

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


And so we come to the conclusion of the Last Submarine trilogy. This adventure is in many ways, a bit better than Mediterranean Cruise. There is a Soviet Typhoon-class SSBN out there, and it's got some missiles left. And the Soviets are trying to recover her..to what end, I am sure nobody wants to find out.

In any case, there is the epic voyage to Norway, to gain more information as to the whereabouts of the SSBN, with a tense moment or two involving the French Navy and some improptu repairs in what's left of the UK. After that it's a trek through the north of Norway and a raid on the Soviet encampment around the Soviet "Boomer". Then the players might wind up with a ship of their own? Perhaps a return to Europe is in order?

Like Mediterranean Cruise before it, there are a couple of capsule scenarios for Harpoon, if you are into modern naval wargaming. And, the advanture is well paced, and solid. probably one of the best to come out for Twilight: 2000 during that period.

But how does it stack up for generating miniatures games?


Skirmish Scale

There is a lot of skirmish fodder here, and with the maps in the module, it makes terrain construction a snap, to be honest.

Some of the best possibilities are?
  • Holding off the marauders trying to take the sub on the British beach while she is affecting repairs. It is a large, flat beach, with not much in the way of terrain features, but one can make some interesting changes, the numbers involved lend itself well to No End in Sight, or Force on Force.
  • The Norwegian raid on Narvik to hit the KGB Headquarters there would make an extremely good Force on Force or Black Ops game.
  • The final raid on the SSBN encampment would make a great, tense game as well, but there is a lot of flat terrain, so it would be best to limit visibility so as to not allow the defenders to have it all their way.

Larger Scale

Sadly, there isn't much for any larger scale games. Between the war coming to something of a grinding halt, the nature of warfare in the Great White North, and the forces involved, it's really not got much for large battles. For some more on wargaming in Scandinavia, and the factors involved...check out "Red Star, White Lights" by yours truly. (End Shameless Plug!)

This was a short review as Boomer is, for a Twilight: 2000 adventure, a pretty straightforward adventure. It hasn't got a lot of meat or subplots going for it, but then again, it's the nature of the adventure. Find the sub, sink the sub.

Next to be reviewed will be a book I think I accidentally skipped, which is Kidnapped. This book has a lot more potential for larger scale fights..not to mention..the McGuffin involved could decide the fate of the United States.

Signing off the net for now! 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Lots and Lots of News

See, getting away from the small post format...and the news is just too damn big for a measly short post.

Ok, for starters, the review of Boomer, will be a bit delayed. I am working on a manuscript for something that I will reveal much, much later. For now, it's hush hush all around.

But the big news?

Battlegroup NORTHAG is in development! We don't have too much more other than a mockup of the cover (which I hope remains the final version, as it is too badarse not to use!)

Taken from Ironfist Publishing's Facebook Site

For those living under a rock, Battlegroup is a set of tactical to operational rules for WWII that is wildly popular! And they are making the splash into Cold War Gone Hot. I have the rules and they are the joint subject along with Bolt Action for my other blog, Festungplatz. There has been quite a few modern fan supplements for some time, but to have something official is nice. And when it hits, I promise "500 Miles..." fans that I will immediately begin work on a T2K mod!

Yes, Virginia, this is a development, and I will keep you posted as much as I can.

Also of big news to "500 miles..." fans? Plastic Soldier Company has as some are aware of, released some 15mm T-55s as a test to see how they would do in the market. Sales must have been good, and us 20mm heads have been making quite the noise for our own T-55s! They are now taking preorders for 20mm T-55s, once they get 200 orders, they will be made! At 3 to a box for 17.50GBP, it's a pretty good price (even with the shipping to the US).

And, as an additional incentive, one lucky gamer will be chosen to receive a painted set of T-55s done by Piers Brand, house painter for PSC, co-designer of Battlegroup and all around great guy! I know his work, I have some Soviet Airborne by him that is well, stunning.

I have built quite a few PSC kits, and other than one screwup with a Pz III, I have found them to be awesome kits to build and easy to paint. Walk, do not run to get these kits.

Here is a shot of the projected box for the 20mm:

Taken from Plastic Soldier Company's Website

Run, do not walk to place your preorder, folks.

Also, the word is, 15mm Leopard Is are in development. So there will be a lot more I think coming down the Cold War pike.

Also, I wanted to mention a blog I found on the Red Storm Rising Wargamers page. The Third World War 1987 is some of the best speculative fiction on a potential Third World War in the 1980s I have read in a long time. We are still in the buildup phase, but you can feel the tension, and to be honest, communicating that pre-war tension is almost essential in writing these things (I am still writing a fanfic with that particular backdrop, and this is much, much better).

So, lots of news. I also plan on posting a review of Butler's Printed Models soon, I just have to finish painting them, but so far, I have found them to be very easy to assemble and paint (ridiculously so).

I also intend to do an article on fast-build kits that are out there, as well as the other plastic kits of use to the Twilight: 2000 wargamer.

So, till then, signing off the net.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Module Suitability Review - Mediterranean Cruise

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



Mediterranean Cruise is an interesting tableau for an adventure, The last active US Navy sub is going around Southern Europe and the coast of North Africa, recovering DIA assets for return home, as well as another McGuffin (The Popovs and their cold fusion technology, which might prove a boon to the recovery of the United States).

The locations are varied, and wide ranging, and while I understand the wide ranging tableau didn't allow for some detail in the adventure descriptions, I remember being a bit let down as to the level of descriptions of some of these places, it almost felt a bit cardboard.

That said, it is a solid adventure, and one can make a campaign out of it very, very easily. The ending is a bit of a climactic payoff, but it might be a bit over-the-top (Romanian guerrillas managing to have the firepower to dislodge the remains of the Soviet Army from their country with nothing more than what a submarine can carry? Bit of a stretch), but it has some potential, one might just have to play around with it a bit.

Then there is the small issue of a spy on board who's trying to sabotage the entire mission? That also leads to a bit of fun drama..and the referee can choose who the spy is...adds to replay value if you ask me,

I do like how it segways into the final adventure, Boomer. You can almost hear the "Next time on Twilight: 2000!" TV voice as you get handed the partial communique.

But how does this do for fodder for miniatures games?

Skirmish Games

As fodder for Skirmish games, this is where the modules shines, in my opinion. You have a number of missions where you have to recover DIA assets, and these missions are tailor made for rules like Black Ops. If done right, they could provide a tense, cat-and-mouse like game that would give everyone a good bit of fun.

Some other ideas?

  • A party of angry locals is chasing a shore party back to the sub for any number of reasons, the players have to evade pursuit, and the locals get points for any shore party members they capture or kill. And any captured members simply cannot be left to the locals...so one's going to have to rescue them..so there goes some more games.
  • The Turkish DIA officer's attempt to seize the submarine for his own nefarious ends..it would make an awesome skirmish game as both sides fight it out on the deck..and perhaps inside the submarine.
  • A bit AU for the adventure...but doable. Say the Popovs are taken by Soviet Spetsnaz and are being held in some small port town in Romania in an attempt to draw out the sub. A small shore party is sent in to rescue the Popovs, and kill the Soviets?

Larger Games

There isn't a whole lot of larger games to be had to be honest in this module, except for perhaps gaming out the uprising in Romania, but that would to be honest, better played out by a series of skirmish games.

But there is another quirky game you can do? Many pirate bands and such are going to want the sub. And you can't go wasting a Mk-48 on a cabin cruiser? So, what to do? MK-19s on the conning tower work well. And the sub can do thirty knots..so it might make an interesting fight..or the sub might simply dive away?

Another thing to mention, this adventure and Boomer both have capsule Harpoon scenarios in them, They are simple affairs, and with the right group of players, lend themselves to a new genre? Post apocalyptic naval wargaming?

Next time, we're going to take a look at Boomer! Stay tuned folks, we have more reviews to come!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Module Suitability Review - The Last Submarine

Taken from Twilight: 2000 Wiki, IP is GDW/FFE




Last Submarine is an interesting adventure. It has the usual Twilight: 2000 adventure elements, a very important McGuffin, and a road picture, this time, of New England, which is barely holding on by it's fingernails. The players involved are myriad, and if they aren't careful, things could spiral out of control fast while they try to recover the sub. The Boston Megapunks could make good allies or enemies, if Dain could be eased out of the way in favor of his sister (and if they can get the good father who knows where the sub is away from said Megapunks), and the UBF is an interesting foil, sort of a mobbed up union with some really nasty qualities, Not to mention the little issue of a coup brewing in the 43rd MP Brigade, but nothing I think a competent group of PCs could not handle? Right?

But how does this do for miniatures fodder?

Skirmish Games

There are a lot of skirmish games to be had here, and I mean a lot. If you're smart, you could make an entire campaign for your favored rules set out of this, and really come up with some great gaming ideas.

Some of the leading ideas for me include:

  • The UBF raid on the Weymouth Naval Depot for Mk 48 torpedoes for the sub.
  • A raid by the PCs with some local help, on Nantucket and kidnap John Carlucci, the head of the UBF. (this can then be morphed into another raid to recover the submarine)
  • A raid to save Father O'Grady from the 43rd MP Brigade in the midst of a coup.
All of these lend themselves to rules sets like Black Ops, or perhaps Skirmish Sangin. I personally like the two game campaign idea for the raid(s) on Nantucket.

Larger Games

While there is not a whole lot of larger game fodder, there is some. One is gaming out either the coup in the 43rd MP Brigade, or the collapse of the Isolationists in Rhode Island. Either one has an unusual but interesting premise that lend themselves to a larger scale set of rules. 

Well, that's it for Last Submarine, next on the list is Mediterranean Cruise, the 2nd adventure in the Last Submarine trilogy. It's got quite the spread of adventure, and has some real skirmish game potential.

So, with that said, see you next time!

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!

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