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STALINGRAD Bolt Action Mega Battle!

STALINGRAD Bolt Action Mega Battle!

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Project Blog by intelligentmistertoad Cult of Games Member

Recommendations: 198

About the Project

Inspired by the Ontabletop.com 'Spring Clean Challenge' I have dusted off my Soviet Army for Bolt Action, which is 'Stalingrad themed'. I have dug out half painted and many still boxed kits and blister packs to start/re-start and hopefully finish the ridiculous amount of Soviet's, German's and Scenery that has been stuck in gamers limbo for years. I particularly look forward to getting a German army up an running to challenge my Soviet's, and to base the elements on real units (such as the 100th Jager Division). I also need to get scenery to theme the board built and finished. No Stalingrad battle (let alone a MEGA BATTLE [which Stalingrad very much was!]) would look right without a mass of smashed grey buildings, and a ruined concrete and brick wasteland. It's ambitious, but I have a LOT of unpainted miniatures and scenery that is crying out to get done, and the end result will (God willing?) be achievable and great fun for my gaming group and I. Like many gamers we all have a favourite battle that we would like to have masses of models and scenery to play with our mates. In those terms. this is my Waterloo (in a gaming bucket list way, rather than my ultimate personal downfall!),

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Soviet Battlefield Objective - General Paulus's Desk.

Tutoring 4
Skill 4
Idea 4
1 Comment
Paulus's Desk complete with a replica of his Officers Cap.Paulus's Desk complete with a replica of his Officers Cap.

I wanted to make some bespoke objective markers for the Big Game, and after finding a  model table kit on the 4Ground website (https://www.4groundpublishing.co.uk/28mm-model-kits/28mm-furniture/28mm-furniture-table-a), I found a fun piece to embellish with details to make it stand out as Paulus’s operational planning table.

I printed out a strategic German Battle Map for Stalingrad, which I folded up into a tiny square, so as to make it look right when draped across the table. I used various officers accoutrements to look like it had been in use up until the moment of capture.

I have used a wash made with pigments to wash areas of the table and map, this leaves an ultra matt, dry look. Which is essential for cigarette as (Paulus was a bit of a “Chimney”), and the paper of the map should not reflect light, most acrylic based shades will do this.

The cap has been cut from the officer’s head from Warlord’s ‘Blitzkrieg German’ box set. I have painted it to the best of my ability, and it took an hour. The colours are as exact a match as I can get for Paulus’s actual Cap.

The cherry on the cake was the addition of the Iron Cross (from the plastic ‘Panzer Grenadiers’ kit from Warlord) which has bee placed to mark the German’s ultimate objective in the city.

I based the piece on a 60mm base from 4Ground (https://www.4groundpublishing.co.uk/tokens-bases/bases/60mm-diameter-bases).

This will God willing, be the first of many objectives.

Czech Hedgehogs on the 'Eastern Front'!

Tutoring 4
Skill 4
Idea 4
No Comments
Czech Hedgehogs on the 'Eastern Front'!

After seeing an image of a female engineer preparing anti tank defences at Stalingrad, I decided that my ‘Mega Battle’ would not be complete without them! The ability to set up road blocks and keep back armoured and mech assaults in key areas will be critical in some of my forthcoming games.

I managed to order a kit of suitably scaled examples from 4ground:

http://www.4ground.co.uk/28mm-world-at-war/28mm-czech-hedgehogs

It was a quick fun kit to put together, and importantly it will take paint. As painting is a big part of my hobby, this was a real bonus. Naturally I chose to use the basing rubble and sand to tie it in with the other scenery and miniature bases that theme this part of my miniature collection.

It also gave me the fun task of using rust pigment powders to give a heavily weathered effect.

I did these 4 over the coarse of a day, and I will be buying more fore Stalingrad and other great battles. The most obvious one would be D-Day with sand and water effects, but also fall of Berlin with rubble brick bases.

Scatter terrain like this has an obvious effect on the game and how it is played out, with the added benefit that it adds a level of detail and believability to the tabletop.

 

Czech Hedgehogs on the 'Eastern Front'!

Soviet Reinforcements. Desperate times call for desperate measures...'Not One Step Back!'.

Tutoring 5
Skill 8
Idea 8
2 Comments
In a City where the frontlines have been dissolved  into a sea of conflict, movement is fraught with risk from concealed enemies with unexpected lines of fire! In a City where the frontlines have been dissolved into a sea of conflict, movement is fraught with risk from concealed enemies with unexpected lines of fire!
Strafbat Platoon with two squads and a 'Frontnik Commissar'.Strafbat Platoon with two squads and a 'Frontnik Commissar'.

After the barrel has been desperately scraped, a Strafbat platoon has been dispatched to empty the prisons, dispose of political dissidents and Red Army deserters, with the added bonus of hopefully delaying Paulus’s advance and draining the German ammunition supplies!

To denote the men as being from a Strafbat unit I have trimmed off all the Red Stars from their field caps.

I started this unit and finished 2/3rds of it before needing a break. That break ended up being 2 years. In all fairness it was going to be just a squad, then became a platoon.

The Strafbat squad is easily the the worst unit in the game, but is also incredibly cheap. It’s useful as a meat shield for other units, or to hold objectives. To keep it inline, a ‘Frontnik Commissar’ (‘Stalingrad Campaign Book’ Warlord Games) is essential, as he will shoot deserters to stop the others running off, and will give an encouraging patriotic speech to help them shoot less badly.

These are not willing fighters and only half of them get a rifle that they are most likely not trained to use. I have tried to model the unit to capture a suitable level of chaos, desperation and sheer panic that was depicted in the film ‘Enemy at the Gates’. After seeing the film, I had to have a Strafbat contingent for my force, and it should add some colour and chaos to my planned Mega Battle!

'Some are more equal than others!'. To make sure that all goes to plan, I have painted up an artillery man as an officer to direct the Strafbat platoon troops to Victory, naturally from a .safe distance. 'Some are more equal than others!'. To make sure that all goes to plan, I have painted up an artillery man as an officer to direct the Strafbat platoon troops to Victory, naturally from a .safe distance.

Golden Button Awarded!!!

Tutoring 8
Skill 8
Idea 8
No Comments
What can I say, but this has really made my day! Thanks guy's for featuring this project on the XLBS show and the award.What can I say, but this has really made my day! Thanks guy's for featuring this project on the XLBS show and the award.

Soviet LMG Gunner.

Tutoring 9
Skill 10
Idea 9
3 Comments
This chap has been packed away undercoated for about 4 years. I am really pleased with the gritty look courtesy of a wash that I made using Forgeworld pigments. It's a real shame that they have stopped selling them! I have another 6 figures assembled and undercoated, and another 4 still on the sprue to finish a new Guards Squad, that this chap will form the centrepiece for.This chap has been packed away undercoated for about 4 years. I am really pleased with the gritty look courtesy of a wash that I made using Forgeworld pigments. It's a real shame that they have stopped selling them! I have another 6 figures assembled and undercoated, and another 4 still on the sprue to finish a new Guards Squad, that this chap will form the centrepiece for.

100th Jager Division Squad.

Tutoring 8
Skill 8
Idea 8
No Comments
100th Jager Division Squad.

I like the variety and diversity of historical units. A particular unit that grabbed me in the ‘Stalingrad’ campaign book by Warlord, was the 100th Jager Division squad. It is lightly equipped, and without an LMG and a Rifle Grenadier, it would be too weak to stand up to the mass fire power of the Soviet SMG armed squads that it will be facing on the table top.

The optional ‘mountaineers’ special rule, when taken will allow it to traverse the rough terrain with no penalty, a must for any unit that needs to advance to capture objectives in a city of rubble.

With every German platoon that I have started, or intend to build for my Stalingrad Mega Battle, I have chosen different heads to differentiate them from the other units. I have chosen the plastic heads from the ‘Blitz Opal’ kit from Warlord for my 100th Jager Division troops and teams. Also, I have painted green piping on the lapels to denote the unit as 100th Jager division to differentiate them further. This was not a aesthetic choice, but based upon the actual uniform they wore.

 

Soviet Naval Infantry Converted Maxim Machine Gun Team.

Tutoring 8
Skill 9
Idea 9
No Comments

I started these guys and then put them on ice during studying for my Masters Degree. Its great to have them up and running to give my (presently under strength) naval infantry platoon a bit more punch on the battlefield. As a lightly equipped platoon, and MMG will really make a difference when the lead starts flying (just to clarify, this isn’t a reference to poorly behaved opponents!)

All three figures are heavily converted, and the guy dragging the gun was my first attempt at sculpting using green stuff! I have used green stuff before a lot, but as a gap filler, rather than sculpting new components.

I plan to run a Soviet Naval Infantry Platoon at full strength with  3 twelve man squads, a tank hunter team, some anti tank rifles, and now I can field an MMG, which I am really pleased with. It has given me the confidence to plan to convert a sniper team for the platoon.

Soviet Naval Infantry Converted Maxim Machine Gun Team.

First Fruits of my Labour.

Tutoring 8
Skill 9
Idea 9
No Comments
First Fruits of my Labour.

Finally, after lots of assembling, gluing extra rubble, converting and a LOT of spray painting I have finally got something actually finished!

 

The Warlord branded Italieri ‘Wrecked House’ which I bought a few years ago half price in a Black Friday sale, is now done, and crucially I am really pleased with it.

I added extra rubble to the base to make it appear a bit more realistic, and to tie it in with my rubble basing on my infantry. I also sprayed it with a cooled down, un-shaken can to give the walls a rough texture. I did this to give the effect of concrete blocks, to look grim and ‘Stalinesque’.

I uses the sadly recently discontinued Forge world ‘Dry Mud’ to get some colour on to the model, and to give an impression of a couple of months passing after the building had been shelled.

It would have been great if there were more options with the kit, as some more variation could have made buying half a dozen of them a fun possibility. If I see any cheap again, I may well pick up a couple, but a lot of time and effort will be needed to convert them to look suitably individual, as no two bombed out buildings ever look the same.

I can’t wait for the next game to use this wrecked house in. It is ideal as an MMG nest and I can even get a sniper on what is left of the upstairs.

Where to start?

Tutoring 8
Skill 8
Idea 9
No Comments
Where to start?

In starting the ‘Spring Clean Challenge’ I have decided to start or re-start any mini or even large unfinished projects that I can use en masse for a GIANT Stalingrad Bolt Action Battle.

Part of the fun for me is the intellectual element, where I can learn more history, theme individual units from historical sources and generally get immersed into the culture, learning and entertainment surrounding the project.

The GREAT thing about Historical Wargaming is that there is a real wealth of high quality written and video content in support. I intend to consume as much as possible and hopefully develop a real , balance appreciation of the subject.

There are some great documentaries available as box sets or on Youtube and other streaming services such as thegreatcoursesplus (thanks @Lindybeige!).

I have found many useful articles and images online, in fact I have been somewhat flooded with information. TIK History has a great deal of well researched and in depth documentaries that must run into about a week of real time.

The Ontabletop has some noteworthy individuals who can help with direction to great source material. Thanks @oriskany for recommending Col. David. M. Glantz’s book ‘Stalingrad’. It’s definitely worth checking out OTT and tuning in for CoG Radio to get help.

There is a great scratch built Stalingrad themed project in Wargames Illustrated 387.

For music, I am currently listening to Prokofiev’s ‘Alexander Nevsky’ and ‘Lieutenant Kijé’ which are enormously atmospheric and would have been morale boosters at the time. Also you can see the influence upon James Horner, the soundtrack composer for ‘Enemy at the Gates’ in this body of work. It’s great to see what James Horner has done, and it works well.

I have been enjoying re watching the Stalingrad movies (two of which have the highly inventive and original title of ‘Stalingrad’!), my main purpose was to get inspiration for the wrecked built environment in planning how to paint and embellish my scenery, much of which is kit based. ‘Enemy at the Gates’ gets a bit of flack (or should I say Flak?) for it’s depiction of order 227 in perhaps it’s most memorable scene, but I have to say that it’s enormously entertaining (not least because I fancy Rachel Wiesz) and has some great combat scenes. In it’s defence, the visual realisation of the “Campaign” is suitably epic and there are a lot of good historical details.

Warlord have a fantastic and ever expanding range of miniatures to support their game, and I am happy to stay with them as “My Brand”. Like all great wargaming miniature manufacturers, some minor omissions are present within their range for his chosen period. I intend to fulfil notable gaps with conversions and new lines such as the NKVD as they het released. Warlord’s ‘Stalingrad’ game is great, packed with often widely varying scenarios and some great new units to add further variety, and enable me to represent notable formations, with special rules and stats to differentiate how they play on the table top. Unsurprisingly Warlord’s ‘Armies of Germany’ and ‘Armies of the Soviet Union’ are essential reading.

There is a LOT here to educate and inspire me on my journey.

Where to start?