Orders of Battle
The Far and Middle East
Organising the Toys
With all these Models floating about, you need some sort of strategy for keeping them organized and undamaged. Tim Gow puts me to shame, with neatly labelled boxes and figures with colour coded bases. I salute him.
My own strategy is somewhat more Russian in approach. I have plywood boxes made up to store my figures. They have a Nationality flag and a space to chalk information on the front. Then as units change through the campaign, I change the information on the front of the box. Stragglers who end up in the wrong box either miss battles, or fight in other units. This way I have been able to cope with the bewildering changes in Soviet TOEs.
Another strategy adopted by Graham Evans, is to store similar types of troops together. This works well when you have limited figures and are prepared to build units to order for each battle. Tim reckons though, that the reason he started operational level wargaming was to find a use for the huge quantities of toys that he owns.
Do not be put off, or think that this game can only be played using masses of toys. It works well with smaller numbers of troops too, and lends itself well to using cheap toys or card mock-up models to fill in the gaps in your army’s inventory.
What if I’m short of Stuff?
Full Orbats were a luxury that few armies enjoyed for long. In wargames collections, shortages occur at the beginning of a collection, not the end. If you find yourself short of “stuff”, just remember that real armies concentrated surviving equipment. so, for example, if your 8 tank, two-battalion regimental orbat is short of models, then concentrate them into one large battalion. The Junior General website has free downloads of paper models. I use them to fill spaces in my Orbat boxes to remind me what I still need to buid in order to finish a unit.
Remember that captured equipment was in widespread use. The Germans invaded Russia with a rag-bag of captured French, Czech and British equipment. US kit was widely used by the British and Soviets. I am happy for infantry of one nationality to “moonlight” in another army if the scenario needs it. For example, if you take the view that 15mm infantry are all LBJs, or “Little Brown Jobs”, then the following substitutions can cheerfully be made:
|Italians – Use Japanese or Russians .(mix this any of 3 ways – I never have enough Soviet infantry)|
|Romanians- Use Japanese, French or Italians, or better still, Dutch infantry if you have them.|
|French – Use Americans (They used US kit after the Torch landings and invasion of NW Europe)
Making do is a time-honoured wargames tradition. At one time, in 1985, I was short of BA32 armoured cars. My first quick fix was a Matchbox toy fire tender with a Grant 37mm turret on it. I then progressed to a Morris Armoured car hull casting with a T34 turret. Recently, I have acquired a 15mm model. It doesn’t fight as well on the table as the fire tender did, but my friends are happier!
From Seriously Suspicious, Decidedly Dodgy to “Oh, it’s a BA32″ (L to R)
For the ultimate in happy-go-lucky toy soldiering, have a look at The Army Men Homepage to see how far down this route you can go. I am happy to be counted amongst those who realise that playing with toy soldiers is A) not a serious hobby, and B) a perfectly suitable way for grown-ups to spend their free time.
No-one who wargames in a period should be blind to the politics of the age. Peoples’ political views are, quite rightly, of importance to them. These views are often passionately held and overwhelmingly expressed. For that reason, they should not interfere with a hobby that brings people together socially.
For this reason you will see little or no mention of the Waffen SS on this blog. A disproportionate amount of text has been generated over the years on this subject and I do not propose to add to it. It is my opinion that obsessing about the SS obscures the bigger military picture of what happened on the Eastern Front.