Monday, April 23, 2018

Book Review: The Iran-Iraq War, Volumes 1 and 2


Pictures taken from Hellion Publishing Website
The Iran - Iraq War, Volumes 1 and 2, The first volume covers the period of September 1980 to May 1982 and the second covers June 1982 - December 1986. (There is a Volume 3 and 4).
Author: Tom Cooper, E. R. Hooton and Farzin Nadimi
Publisher: Hellion and Company, 2016
Dimensions: 8.5 x 11"
Cover: Soft Cover
Pages: 80pp


I really wanted to like these books. I did. While they are chock full of wonderful insights on the Iran-Iraq War in particular, and a good idea of what two nations unprepared for war with limited resources looks like in general, the books had a lot of issues that really overall, detracted from my reading experience.

First, the good. As I said, the insights found in the books are quite interesting. The extent to which Saddam really didn't have a plan as to how he was going to accomplish his war aims (and even have any really well-defined war aims to accomplish) was startling. It seems the Iraqis stumbled into this being the wider conflict it ended up being.

The Iraqi army wasn't really ready for war either, as it's way of taking an objective was a slow advance while blasting the snot out of a random portion of desert with copious amounts of artillery because said ground was the day's objective. Guderian they weren't.

Meanwhile, the Iranian army was even worse off in 1980 than can be believed, whole units were understrength, and the mullahs really didn't care, as they saw it as a means to prevent a coup, once the war broke out, it is well known they were grabbing military experience anywhere they could find it, including the jails (who were filled with politically suspect officers still loyal to the Shah).

Another interesting thing. The human wave assaults by Iran that we saw in the West became more nuanced over time. How much nuance that really was is arguable, but it seems that the Revolutionary Guards (who were the primary practitioners of said tactics) got better at their execution of such tactics.

Another surprise on the Iranian part, the slow response of the Army. While the Air Force, and even the Navy, as well as the Rev, Guards responded to eventually put up a ferocious defense Khorrmansharr, the Army was mostly not involved in the initial fighting in any real strength. It also had an interesting look at the fact both air forces spent more time either bombing the enemy homeland, or engaging each other, than supporting the army, which fell to the helicopter forces on both sides.

The not so good about these books? Well, for starters, Volume 1 was, from an editing standpoint, a train wreck. Often, when a range of numbers was quoted, like "500-1,000" the dash was often omitted so the numbers often looked like this "5001,000". It's a minor error, to be sure, but it was consistent throughout the book. There was several glaring errors with the photo captions, especially with regards to tank types, which, considering Hellion's status as a publisher of military history, should be a little bit embarrassing. Volume 2 does clean up a number of these errors, but both volumes suffer from the authors going off on tangential topics that at times had me going on like "What the hell was the point of this?"

Also, I think the MSRP for the books are a bit high at $35.00. I got mine at $24.95 in the bargain bin at a wargaming convention. It's taken me a year to read them properly for a review.

It's not so much that the books are bad...it's that they could have really been so much better.
But, where does it come into play for a Twilight: 2000 miniatures gamer? For starters? If you're doing an RDF based game or two set in the the area around Bandar-y-Khomeini - Khormansharr, and Avhaz, the terrain write-ups in the books are damn useful. It gives you an idea of what the terrain is like there, as well as the terrain further west in the Iraqi regions around the Shatt Al Arab.  This is also useful for roleplayers as well.

Also, if you're doing RDF based miniatures games, the color plates are useful, as it gives you an idea of what Iranian and Iraqi equipment would look like. The climate, and the terrain isn't the Arabian desert with unrelenting sand. It's more lots of hills and sand, with some marshland to the west, and that's going to a) create a different look to the vehicles, and b) be a very different war.

So, to sum up, I gotta give both books 3 out of 5 mushroom clouds, there's value there, but I gotta admit, they're a bit overpriced for what you get IMO, and the editing could have and should have been better, especially in the first book.


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

New Show in the DC Metro Area

I wanted to keep people apprised of a new one day wargaming show attached to the National Capital Model Soldier Society's annual show in the DC area. I happen to know the organizer and he's determined to make this first show a success. Therefore, I am doing my bit to get the word out.

The show will be September 8th, and the wargaming area has 3100+ square feet attached to it, so it should be preemo gaming space for just about everything. If you happen to be in the DC area, and want to play, or even run an event, come on by. I have posted the flyer for the event here, so as to put out the word of this event.

So please, show up, and make this first of what I hope to be many events, a success.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Writing Team is Growing!

Well everyone, we have a new Associate Writer here at "500 Miles..." Evil Von Scary is a long time fan of the blog, and his modeling efforts on the Twilight 2000 fp and workshop page on Facebook are both prolific, and a sight for the eyes.

Those are the reasons I asked (begged him, really), to join the staff of "500 Miles..". I asked him to talk about the kits he has worked on, the methods he has used, and to review the kits he has worked on.

I am still slogging through the Iran-Iraq books I mentioned previously, its a tough read, and it's engaged a minor pet peeve of mine. Proofreading matters. I know they cost money, but running a foreign language book through Google Translate and calling it done is not a way to proceed. Believe me, you'll please more customers in the long run if you are publishing anything for sale if you give it a few good edits.

Rant over, and I will try to keep them few and far between, but I really needed to get it off my chest.

Also, forgot to mention that Henry Hyde, author of the Wargaming Compendium (an exceptional book ANY wargamer should have on his shelf), as well as former managing editor for both Battlegames and Miniature Wargames magazine, mentioned us during a Q & A on his podcast on his Paetron page (its members only to hear the podcast, but we here at "500 Miles" encourage you to join up!) Thank you, Henry!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Games Tavern, Chronicle of a Visit...and it's POST # 75!!!

Hello all, welcome to another thrilling installment of "500 Miles.." I wanted to get into letting you all know that I recently visited a new game store in the Washington DC area, a store I've mentioned previously in this blog. We here at "500 Miles..." want to support our local FLGS, and we encourage our readers to do so as well! 

So, how is it? Games Tavern has some real promise folks. It's only been open two weeks, and I did like what I saw. The paint selection was well, impressive, to say the least...AK, MiG, Vallejo. The first two you really cannot get anywhere else in the area, and the third, well, how many stores do you know that carry the ENTIRE Vallejo Panzer Aces line?

What I also liked is that they have room for expansion. During discussions with John, the shop owner, he told me they will be carrying a selection of 20mm from Covert Intervention Games, as well as Fantasy Flight Games and a variety of other lines to be named. In short, they have a plan, and they are executing it. 

A Nice View of the Gaming tables

The store in total is 2500 square feet, and has even private gaming rooms of what looked to be ample size to rent (I didn't get details on rates for that). I was rather impressed by the amount of natural light to be had in the place, in addition to the other lights. A well lit hobby shop is a good thing. I've been in too many where "Dark Dungeon" wasn't just a name, it was a description of the lighting conditions. Kudos to the Game Tavern for this alone. It was clean, the employees were engaged and customer oriented. There were Flames of War demos set up for people to try. And the entire FRONT of the store was tables for people to play at or paint at. Yes folks, this store has a good plan, a plan I cannot wait to see where it goes.

They have quite the internet presence on Facebook, and they are advertising events all the time, as well as a website which can be found at: www.thegamestavern.com

In short, pay Games Tavern a visit. I give them 4 out of 5 Mushroom clouds, and we'll be back in the near future to see where it goes from here.

I also want to let folks know, the Iran-Iraq war books are being read and digested, and an interview is coming. They're a bit harder of a read than anticipated, and to be honest, for reasons I wish they were not. I also will have that review of PSC's T-55s in 20mm. My capsule statement: They're good, but there are some niggling concerns I have with them, but we'll address that in the near future. I also promise more Twilight:2000 focused content soon, as I intend to do a review soon on the Cold War Battlegroup effort on the Cold War Hot Hot Hot Blog. Short word? I like it enough that I am working on a Twilight: 2000 variant for a variant, eh?

There is one other thing I wanted to mention! This is the 75th blog post here at "500 Miles..." That's right, 75 posts, 40,000+ visits, and 46 of you are following this little blog of mine. I hope you're enjoying what you are reading. I really am happy that you, the reader continue to enjoy what is posted here, and as long as you keep reading, I will keep writing.

Yay, we hit 75!!!


UPDATE: I have been remiss, dear readers, in that I forgot to mention a new Cold War-era wargaming focused blog. The Red Storm Rising blog is fairly new and looking for contributors, so far, I rather like what I see, and I would love for folks to post more.


Monday, March 12, 2018

Module Suitability Review: Korean Sourcebook

Taken from DriveThru RPG


Hey all, been a long time since we did one of these, eh?

Well, this has been long threatened for Twilight: 2000, long demanded, cajoled, and pleaded for, and now, it's finally here. A canon sourcebook for the Land of the Midnight Calm. And, like the last time, it seems this 2nd Korean War has settled into a stalemate again, this time, both combatants are at the ends of long, shattered supply chains, fighting in a nuked, blasted landscape, and they are surrounded by a population that really wishes they'd leave. (Pretty much sounds like a lot of Twilight: 2000).  

So what do you get? For starters? I must say, Raellus did a good job. For a $2.99 PDF download, you do get a lot for your money. A very good description of events in Korea, a whole chapter on Korean Culture (a very useful thing for non-Korean GMs and players!) It has a lot of information on all the players in North and South Korea in 2000, important NPCs, character generation rules, as well as campaign ideas and missions and equipment unique to the Korean peninsula.

What I really like about this module is how it plays off the split between the Soviets and their North Korean "allies" (who are basically allies in at most, name only, really.) and the Milgov/Civgov - esque split in South Korea (which makes a lot of sense considering South Korea's history of Military/Civilian relations in the past). Rae also manages to throw a bit of horror elements into it for those so inclined. 

While the book has some editing issues, it's a solid book overall, I had a lot of flashbacks to the format and writing style of RDF Sourcebook, which as a model, you could not ask for a better template if you ask me. 

Now of course, you ask, what is the miniature gaming scenario potential for this book? Well, as it turns out, a lot, so let's get cracking, eh?

Skirmish Games

Like it's spiritual ancestor, the RDF Sourcebook, the Korean Sourcebook doesn't have any specific ideas for skirmish gamers, but the Mission Generator has some really good skirmish game fodder, as well as the rules for North Korean tunnels (Yes, that alone would make a great table setup and a very unique idea, a post-apocalyptic dungeon crawl! Always a hit!)

But here's some other ideas:
  • A small American outpost on the frontline, and it's adventures could be resolved as a skirmish campaign, you could use a mix of rules from the module, and either Force on Force or No End in Sight's campaign systems would shine here, no matter what rules you use. Using Platoon Forward from Too Fat Lardies would be an excellent idea to flesh out the personalities of the American garrison. 
  • A race to recover a nuclear weapon that failed to detonate from the remains of Seoul. You could have a three sided race, the US/South Koreans, the North Koreans, and the Soviets all racing to get the warhead before the other side does. And then there are complications with the nuke itself. Black Ops would be a great set of rules for this and a devious referee could make this a very exciting bit of gaming meets an RPG adventure.
  • Another great idea is a raid on the remains of the North Korean bioweapons program by either side, neither of whom is going to be really enthused about the Kim family unleashing whatever variety of nasty their scientists have been cooking up on what is left of the world. This would also make great Black Ops fodder.
  • Gaming out the initial raids by North Korean commandos and sleeper cells on a South Korean installation (any number of ideas here can be mined), versus a collection of South Korean cops, reservists, and other internal security forces). If the North Korean player can escape with any of his people, you can then game out the hunt for the surviving commandos as a mini campaign for Black Ops?
  • A clash between an American/ROK supply convoy and North Korean partisans. Rules for this would be Force on Force.

Larger Games

In terms of larger game fodder, like RDF Sourcebook, you really have to mine that from the chronology, as organized military operations do tend to break down after about 1998. But, it seems you can get some really interesting stuff out of it, some of the more interesting ideas to me are:

  • The initial attack on the DMZ, you could do a collection of company sized US or ROK outposts along the "Z" hit by a couple battalions of North Korean light infantry, with a bit of armor, and more than enough artillery (which isn't going to hit much outside it's pre-planned targets, but the pre-planned ones should be hyper accurate), and with some pre positioned North Korean sappers already to the rear of the US/ROK positions). The North Koreans have to overrun all of the positions to win, the US/ROK has to just hold one to win. Rules for this in my opinion would be the Cold War Battlegroup rules put out by the Cold War Hot Hot Hot blog, as authored by Richard Chambers, as the game is kinda too big for a skirmish game, and too small for a 1:5 game like Fistful of TOWs or Command Decision.
  • The fight for Munsan in the early days of the North Korean invasion, it's a desperate rear guard action between dug in South Korean defenders buying time for the ROK/US forces to set up a defense further south, and a North Korean mechanized army trying to push down the traditional invasion corridor. Couple this with a heavy chem environment in an urban area, and you have quite the game for Fistful of TOWs.
  • The summer 1997 amphibious landing near Kimpo by US 4th Marine Division and ROK 6th Marine Brigade. This landing and the subsequent breakout has the makings of a pretty decent Fistful of TOWs or Command Decision campaign.
  • The retreat of US 8th Army from the Yalu in 1997 as the Soviet Yalu Front enters the war in late summer of 1997. Fistful of TOWs works well here, as you might be using a nuke or two to simulate the heavy use of Soviet tactical nuclear weapons here.
  • The "Last Soviet Offensive of the War in Korea" in July of 1998, this could make a decent Fistful of TOWs or Command Decision game, as you have a depleted Soviet MRD with support from a Air Assault Brigade (both short on fuel) attacking towards the Gimwha Valley in an effort to seize the farmland to feed the Soviet army trapped in North Korea, as well as the US/ROK counterattack. This also might work as a campaign for Fistful of TOWs or Command Decision.
Well, that is it for now. We have a bit coming down the pike, a review and build of PSC's recently released T-55 kit for 20mm, a review and writeup of the Unofficial Cold War variant for Battlegroup, and those Iran-Iraq books I have been promising a review of. I will get to them, also, my roleplaying group and I want to try an actual Twilight: 2000 themed miniatures game in the very near future, so I am excited about that, and I will be working on that soon, so lots to come.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Book Review: Setting the Scene - Winter Wargaming, A Guide for Creating A Winter Layout for the Games Table.

Taken from the Wargames and Terrain Webpage


Setting the Scene - Winter Wargaming, A Guide for Creating a Winter Layout for the Games Table.
Author: Pat Smith
Publisher: Self-Published, 2018
Dimensions: 8.5 x 11"
Cover: Soft Cover
Pages: 103pp

  Setting the Scene is to me, probably one of the best terrain books to be published for the hobby in a long time. What I like about it is, unlike other wargaming terrain treatises, like Games Workshop's How to Make Wargaming Terrain, (the older, red covered edition is superior, by the way), this book is geared towards the historical terrain market, and from the looks of it, the 15 and 20mm gamer.

  Another thing I like about this book are the production values. All of the pictures are fairly good sized, the text is on a white background and is easy to read (which, with my eyes, is a damn good thing), and the steps are clear, workmanlike and don't have a lot of unneeded detail, which, for a guy like me (who isn't the world's best modeler in the first place), a godsend.

Isn't this picture gorgeous? Yeah, it is! And yes, it's in the book. Taken from the Publisher's Website.

What makes me the most happy? He shows you how to do this with a lot of easy to get items. No having to kill yourself to get that "special spray" or that effect from <fill in the blank> hobby company that does cost more than the average pot of paint. And here is the little secret...the terrain can be built for any season. He has a separate "winterizing" step, that if you don't want to build something (like hay bales) for winter, just skip it! 

 While books of this nature do not lend themselves well to bibliographies, he does have a very helpful links section for places to get ideas, and materials. (And many of it costs less than purposes created mats, though, I will say this much, don't sell the purpose built mats short.) It's got something for everyone, and even though it's oriented to the Ardennes in World War II, the ideas here can be adapted for anywhere and anytime with a little imagination and forethought. 

 The author is also accessible, friendly, and is easy to procure the book from at Wargaming with Silver Whistle, where he usually sends you a Paypal invoice for the book within 24 hours of request. The price of the book is 17.50 GBP, with an additional 7.45 for shipping, so all told, it will set an American gamer back about $34.50 (going by current conversion rates), but it's worth is for the quality of the book alone.

 I have to say, I really liked this book, and plan on undertaking a few projects from it soon. I encourage everyone out there to get this book, as it's worth it, and can really improve the look of your table. I give it 5 out of 5 mushroom clouds. Run, do not walk to get this book. 



Tuesday, March 6, 2018

More News Coming About!


A New Game Store in Chantilly, VA!
There's a new game store in Northern VA! And yes, Virginia, color me excited. Chantilly isn't TOO far from me, right down 66, and I am excited to know people who love 20mm have a storefront for me to hop down and pick up stuff to fill my gaming needs.

 Where in Chantilly is it, you ask?

4124 Walney Road, Suite H
Chantilly, Virginia 20151
(Do us a favor, tell them "500 Miles..." says hi when you visit!)

The store, from photos on their Facebook page, looks well stocked and has pretty much any gaming needs filled you might want. And yes, dear reader, we will be paying a visit soon to do a proper review, but one could not let something like this go without letting folks know. We have quite the readership in VA, and yes, we want this store to do well! And their grand opening is THIS weekend! So, go on down, and say hello!

Images taken from Wargaming and Terrain Website

And there's more. A new book is out, called "Setting the Scene: Winter Wargaming" and we'll be doing a review on it as well, as soon as I can manage it. On first blush, it looks gorgeous, and hey, winters and Twilight: 2000 go together like nuclear explosions and gamma rays! We'll have a review shortly for you, but the book looks very useful indeed.

We also should have a review of the new PSC T-55s that were finally released, and I put some together and I will have my thoughts on the assembly and details.

So, lots to come in the coming days.

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Twilight 2000, The Look on the Tabletop, Part 1, Vehicles

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