Friday, September 8, 2023

French Campaign 1940 for MEM44

 World War Two wargaming is immensely popular to state the obvious. My friends and I started WW2 gaming way back in the late 1960s. We used 1\72 Airfix figures and Roco Minitanks. That lasted quite a while but then 1\285 micro armor came out.

I dropped out of gaming around the time micro armor replaced Roco Minitanks but my two friends stuck with it, each adding large numbers of vehicles and infantry to their respective collections.

My WW2 gaming became MEM44 with my son when MEM came out.

When I got back into miniature gaming in 2014 and reconnected with my two friends I introduced them to MEM.

One of the friends (MS) built his wargaming table in the late 80's for micro armor out of the GHQ hexes that GHQ still produces.

It was not long before he decided to adapt those beautiful hexes to MEM; which my friend did by constructing a dedicated MEM board for use with micro armor.

Recently we have been playing the Normandy Campaign from MEM44 Campaign Book #1. My friend MS had everything necessary to play the game including all the varieties of tanks and infantry that mattered in a more detailed set of rules than MEM. The variety of equipment and infantry does not matter in MEM but it sure adds to the game for a history geek.

Our other friend (JZ) is recovering from a heart attack and has been slow to get back into gaming. His micro armor is extensive as well but is early war oriented. As JZ recovered he watched me and MS play the Normandy game and indicated that he would like to give it a try with his !940 collection of both Germans and French. The game would mark his return to gaming as he has recovered enough. 

Micro armor is not all that easy to photograph with an iPad or iPhone but I gave it shot since France 1940 in MEM is unique and JZ's collection is off the later war WW2 beaten path.

The combination of great terrain and great models in 1\285 is impressive.

French H35's

French S35's

German Pz IIIe, Pz 1, Pz II

 Foreign Legion, part of Group 97

German sig 150 SPGs

French GRDI with AMR and Laffly

French 155 GPF guns

German Infantry

Table overview before the units were placed

French GRDI elements

French GRDI with AMR and Panhard

For those unfamiliar with MEM44 it is a Richard Borg game that is similar to other Borg type games such as the Command and Colors series.

The game is card based which each player getting up to six cards depending on the scenario. It this scenario the French player received 4 cards and the German player received 5 cards. The cards are used, one per turn, forcing the player to make the best decision he can given the cards he has. Obviously, drawing a card after playing a card has a lot to do with Fog of War, or luck of the draw.

Combat is resolved with a dedicated set of MEM dice that indicate hits or misses. Each unit can take four hits if armor or infantry, two if artillery. Terrain matters and some units have more abilities than others.

Attrition is the primary way of determining winners although in some scenarios occupying key terrain hexes add to the numbers of medals needed to win. Six medals seems to be the standard victory conditions.

MEM44 is a fast game once the rules are digested. It was intended to be fast and that gave the players the opportunity to switch sides after the first game was played. It's an interesting concept because if you have play both sides you cannot complain about bias or being set up. You have to play that cards the best you can and the dice always provide surprises. 

For the scenario played here the Germans won the first game 6-4. In MEM that is a very close game with the French coming close to winning. In the second game after switching sides the the French won 6-3 and given the advantage in cards that the Germans had it was a more significant victory and not as close as the first game.

One of the strengths of MEM, at least within the official scenarios is play balance. This was certainly in evidence in this game because on paper it looked like the Germans would just bash their way through; yet the French came close to a win in the first game and did win in the second game.

MEM44's limitation is that the models do not matter. There are tanks, infantry and artillery and it does not matter what types of models represent the categories. MEM44 has expanded and later modules do include categories of anti-tank guns, heavy tanks and light armor as well as air power. Even with these additions it remains generic in nature but if you want a fast and fun game with minis it will be your cup of tea.

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

IMEX AWI Artillery

The figures are 1/72 IMEX from the British and American artillery sets. I used some from each set. They are painted as Continental artillery although the British uniform is not much different. The poses are excellent imo, but the guns that come with the sets are terrible. They are way to small which is to bad because it’s a howitzer in the British set. I tried to make them work but no go so I salvaged two guns from an IMEX set of Mexican artillery for the Mexican American War.

Friday, August 11, 2023

Hastings Project in Vintage 25mm Metal

My friends and I started wargaming back in the late 1960s with 1\72 plastic figures. By the mid 1970's and into the 80s, 25mm metal figures made major inroads into our collections. 

The companies that made 25mm metal that I used were primarily Minifigs, Hinchcliffe, Garrison and Ral Partha.  

One of the armies I had in 25mm metal were Anglo\Saxons or Anglo\Danes for the 1066 period. I also had some Normans and some Vikings.

Sometime in the early 90s I left the hobby and sold off 95% of my collections. (kick self here)

When I got back into the hobby back in 2014 the figures of choice were 1\72 plastic sometimes supplemented with 20mm metal figures. The use of 1\72 plastics, in addition to the low expense was a nostalgia itch that was scratched.

Within a short time I started to collect odds and ends in 25mm vintage metal figures from what I could find on eBay. The intent was to collect a few, paint them up and display them. Like many a wargamer and collector would attest to, the word "few" is mostly meaningless. It always seems we like what we like and the unpainted collections seem to grow faster than the painted pile.

A good friend dating back all the way to our early days discovered a huge stash of old 25mm metal in a local shop that does not advertise. Strange, but apparently this guy has some cool stuff and there my friend found hundreds of vintage Garrison, Minifig Dark Ages figures along with a substantial number of newer Old Glory Dark Ages. The total number of figures was 1,000 or more.

My friend knew I had started to work on my small collection of eBay figures and offered me hundreds of what he had found. I HAD to accept even though the stack of unpainted figures did not need reinforcement.

I decided to do a Hastings project to be followed by a Stamford Bridge project, to be followed by a 1st Crusade project-all in 25mm metal. Those who have ears to hear will understand totally.

The Hastings Project received immediate attention since I had a few units already.

Below is where I'm at with the project. Some of the Norman units will do double duty as units for the 1st Crusade.

The units are all organized for Lion Rampant 2.

Overview of units thus far. There are 10 units of Anglo\Danes and 14 Norman pictured

I put skirmish units out front, Select Fyrd and Huscarls in a Shieldwall and 2 units of Fyrd in the back,

Same arrangement on the other flank

The Norman unit on the far left is a split unit in LR2. They were painted more for the 1st Crusade project than Hastings. The small unit next to them are supposed to be dismounted knights for the 1st Crusade.

Norman crossbow skirmishers are in front, with Norman spearmen behind and behind them 4 of my five knight units.

The unit adjacent to the mounted knights are painted for the 1st Crusade as are the split unit in front of them.

A closer look at two of the 1st Crusade (Norman) units. The front unit are Minifigs and the back unit is Garrison.

This unit of Norman spearmen is particularly special. They were even to me by my friend. They are 25mm Phoenix miniatures who at one time made historical figures. An eBay search for Phoenix historical figures consistently turns up zilch. 

Getting some of the 25mm Garrison Norman Crossbowmen was great. I can use them as one unit or two units of skirmish types. 

Close up of the dismounted knights for the 1st Crusade. They are Minifigs from their Dark Ages line which are still available in the UK.

My two units of Ral Partha Normans. I have a late Byzantine army with many of the Ral Partha 1200 A.D Byzantines so the Partha Normans fit right in. I got most of the Partha Byzantines and Normans off of eBay. The 1200 A.D. line still commands a good price on eBay but not anywhere near what Iron Wind Miniatures who now carries the line charges!

Minifig Normans, although I think these poses are from the Minifig Crusades line.

These are Garrison Normans and they are another unit that is special to me. Garrison figures are very rare on eBay (in the USA). At one time my Anglo\Saxon army was almost entirely Garrison.

I have two units of Minifig Normans finished at this time. The banner is actually a 28mm banner but close enough.

This unit of Select Fyrd are all Minifigs.

Minifig Anglo\Saxon archers

My two units of Huscarls. The one on the left is Garrison figures. I had just enough with the Danish axe to give the unit the right flavor. The unit on the right are Ral Partha. The Danish axe is prominent as it should be.

Minifg Anglo\Saxon Fyrd used as skirmishers for LR2.

This is a composite unit of Select Fyrd or Veteran Heavy Infantry in Lion Rampant 2. The composite contains Garrison, Minifig and Ral Partha figures. The banner is from Maverick Flags in the UK. Maverick will scale his flags to whatever size is desired but he has a very limited selection for the Dark Ages.

Another unit of Fyrd. For LR 2 purposes I might use this unit as Light Infantry instead of Heavy Infantry. The figures are all Minifigs. I believe the bareheaded figures come from the Slavic portion of Minifig's Dark Ages line.

Fyrd Light Infantry. The unit is mostly Garrison with a sprinkle of Minifigs. The two lines are very compatible.

This unit of Fyrd Light Infantry are all Garrison figures and one of my favortites. Garrison made the best general Fyrd back in the day.

I have yet to do a game with the collection but when the time comes I intend to have it on a larger table with appropriate terrain.

Thursday, July 6, 2023

 War at Saber Point book review

The book is about the Banastre Tarleton and the British Legion. It is detailed and provides good ideas for Osprey's Rebels and Patriots.

British Legion Light Dragoons by Irregular Miniatures, UK.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Phoenix Models Norman Spearmen in 25mm

A friend gave these 25mm Phoenix Models some time ago. Thet are suitable for any number of armies. I originally painted them up as mercenaries for a later Byzantine army but they fit equally well into my Norman collection. Historical Phoenix minis are hard to come by so they occupy a unique place in my collection. I use them in Lion Rampant games.