Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Painting WWII Soviet Infantry - Part 1:
Series Introduction, Plus Ranks & Insignia

Articles In This Series
Part 1: Series Introduction, Plus Ranks & Insignia
Part 2: Summer Tunics & Trousers
Part 3: Basing Tips & Tricks
Part 4: Winter Uniforms
Part 5: Painting Guides
Part 6A: Finished Black Tree Design 28mm Infantry
Part 6B: Finished Black Tree Design 28mm Infantry
Part 6C: Finished Black Tree Design 28mm Infantry

Series Overview
I think we all can agree that researching World War II uniforms for the Western Allies (United States and Great Britain) and Germany  is far easier than it is for the Soviet Union. It seems that ever since the war ended most people have been far more interested in these three armies than the Soviets, perhaps because the Soviets had been more an "enemy of my enemy," as witnessed by the ensuing Cold War. How many WWII movies are about Soviet battles? How many are about the other Allies? I rest my case.

The end result is that gamers like myself who are unfamiliar with the Red Army can have a difficult time sifting through the different historical books and reenactor sites trying to figure our how to paint our figures and understand how the Soviet army operated.

In January 2011, when I began examining my Black Tree Design Soviet figures and then researching the uniforms, I quickly discovered that the original sculptor for most of the line, Nick Collier, was a fanatic for detail. I'm sure he sculpted just about every Soviet uniform and equipment variation in existence. My head felt like it was going to explode!

Do It For The Gamers!
In order to make life a bit easier for the newbie WWII Soviet gamer and finally organize all my scattered notes before I lose them, I decided to begin writing this series of articles about spotting and painting Soviet uniforms. I'm not sure how long it will take me to complete the entire series. Part 1 has taken me over seven hours to write. Though my focus will be on painting my BTD figures, you can use these articles regardless of the scale you're gaming or the figure manufacturer you're using. Okay, let's get this thing started!

Some Background on Soviet Ranks Being Abolished
Whenever a revolution takes place, it seems as if the new powers-that-be always want to make their own mark on the military, expunging remnants of the previous regime. No where was this more dramatically demonstrated than in the Soviet Union after the revolution and civil war. For example, throughout the 1920's and into the 1930's as a political statement, the Revolutionary Council abolished all military and civil ranks, along with their privileges and honors. Of course, chaos quickly ensued. How could an army operate effectively without its command hierarchy displayed on uniforms? No one had thought of that little detail.

By 1935 the failed experiment ended. Officers, but not generals, had their titles and ranks restored, along with new, military-looking uniforms. Various branches of the armed forces, such as air and armor, began getting their own uniform patterns. By May 1940, all rank titles had been restored, along with parade and undress uniforms. All this occurred just in time for Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941.

Ranks Restored and a New Uniform: M35
For those gaming Soviets in World War II, there are two basic uniform styles, along with variations of each style. The earliest uniform is the M35 pattern, introduced in early December 1935, though it didn't see wide distribution until early 1936. This is the pattern reintroducing ranks into the Red Army. Based upon the traditional peasant's loose-fitting blouse and baggy trousers, this Soviet uniform was both simple and, from what I have read, more comfortable than the traditional uniforms of the Western Allies. The M35 was issued until 1943, when it was replaced with the M43 pattern. I'll try to explain some of the spotting features of the M35 and M43 patterns along with variations so that gamers can accurately paint and spot them.

M35 Collars & Insignia
We'll begin by exploring the uniform's tunic, called a "gimnasterka" in Russian. Both the M35 and M43 share the same basic tunic pattern, except that both have significantly different collars and rank insignia.

To the left, you can see a photo of an M35 collar. This is a traditional fold-down color buttoned at the top. The top photo shows how the newly restored ranks were displayed by placing an insignia (patch) on the collar.

Each branch of the military had its own facing color and piping color. Officers, though, had different piping colors from enlisted men.  Each branch also had its own brass badge on the upper-end of the patch. For example, the upper photo shows an enlisted private (aka Red Army Trooper), whose insignia is raspberry for the infantry, trimmed with black piping for enlisted men, and topped with brass crossed rifles on a target for the infantry. Armored troops, for example, had black facings on their insignia, trimmed with red piping, with a brass tank, its gun facing right. See the Rank & Insignia Guides at the bottom of the post for more information about other branches and ranks in the military.

Officially, the Soviets used facing colors and trim on their insignia until July 1940, when they were replaced with subdued insignia, as seen on the lower photo. The subdued insignias still had the same brass badges for each branch, but the facing color was changed to a darker drab green. Gone was the piping trim. This lasted until the introduction of the M43 uniform.

If your games take place from 1941 onward, as they most likely will, most of your soldiers wearing the M35 uniform should have subdued insignia. Since the Soviets often were slow to reissue uniforms earlier in the war, you could still have a very few soldiers wearing the old colorful patches. I painted all my M35 uniforms with subdued insignia.

M35 to left and right.
However, I had very few BTD figures where I could actually see the M35 collar. In the photo to the left, you can see the figure on the far left and the figure on the far right are wearing the M35 uniform. Every figure wearing this uniform pattern in my collection has most of its collar blocked by either a strap, chin, or blanket. When I had to paint the subdued insignia, the figure usually was wearing the winter jacket, which is a topic for a later post.

Ranks and the M43 Uniform
Compared to the M35, the M43 uniform appears to radically change the way ranks are displayed. However, and quite ironically, the M43 returns to the way ranks were displayed in the deposed Tsarist army--shoulder boards. The collar on the M43 also returns to a more traditional standing collar with two buttons.

The boards on infantry uniforms are the same drab green used on the M34's subdued insignia. The piping trim also follows the same colors as the earlier insignia, such as raspberry for the infantry.  When painting the piping, notice that it does not cover the edge along the shoulder. It only covers the two outer edges and the edge along the neck. The button at the top of the shoulder board is the same color as the rest of the buttons on the tunic. The branch badge will go next to the button toward the shoulder. (The photo to the left doesn't show this, but the insignia guides below do.) Additional piping now is also used to identify ranks, such as corporals and lieutenants.

M35 uniform with M43 shoulder board insignia.
Though shoulder boards were reintroduced on the M43 uniform, the Soviets in 1943 also began removing collar insignia on M35 uniforms still in use, adding the shoulder boards to them. If you look at Black Tree Design's Soviets, you'll notice that some of them are wearing the M35 with shoulder boards. As a result. any figure with shoulder boards won't be accurate for battles prior to the introduction of the M43 uniform.

Luckily, I'm not much of a stickler for such detailed authenticity in my gaming, preferring to have fun instead of creating museum dioramas. I only have some much money to spend and time to devote to painting.Though I mention the branch badges, I haven't painted any of them on my figures--the badges are just too small to paint, looking more like blobs than crossed rifles on a target.

Rank & Insignia Guides
I don't remember where I got the guides below, but I have found them to be very useful for painting my Soviet infantry, most of whom are lowly Red Army Troopers.

Future Articles in the Series
In Part II, we'll look at more spotting difference between the M35 and M43 uniform from a gamer's perspective, and painting the tunics. In future installments, I also want to cover trousers and boots, along with an assortment of straps, gear, and then weaponry. We'll also look at the winter uniforms. Of course, this will all take time, so please be patient.

Well, I hope you have enjoyed this first installment of the series and find it useful. And to think that I still have to paint my officers, Maxim machine gunners, tankers, snipers, NKVD, and more--and then write those articles!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Victorian Painting Guide: Gentleman's Emporium

On Sunday afternoon, I finished off another cowboy and began painting my packs of West Wind's London Thugs and London Mob. I also finished the last figure in the London Gentlemen pack. However, when it comes to Victorian clothing, I'm no expert. So, like most people, I look online!

When it comes to researching Victorian clothing, I have found Gentleman's Emporium, a Victorian and Western reenactor dealer, to be of utmost help, even if their store name conjures images of pole-dancing. Plenty of ideas for painting clothing. Plus. their section of full outfits reads like an novel, with named character's and their backgrounds--very handy for playing RPGs or skirmish games! Finally, they have a nifty steampunk section as well. Check them out.

BTW it seems they don't like people saving their photos, but Firefox gets around their javascript no problem. Just right click on the image, when their blocking script tell you they want permission just click "OK," and then the normal right-click menu will come up. Click "save image as" and you have the image. Easy enough!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Black Tree Design Soviet Progress Photos

Knowing that I won't have much time today for posting to the blog, I thought I'd put together a little series of progress photos that I cooked up last night when I wrote this post.. I don't consider myself an awesome painter, but I have enjoyed learning how to paint figures. Working on a large number of figures at once the past 14 months, has allowed me to experiment and slowly improve. In many ways, not having to finish figures quickly so I could get them on the game table worked to my advantage. I was able to slow down, read painting articles, watch painting videos, deconstruct photos of minis, and experiment at my own pace. And then repaint my many mistakes! (Don't talk to me about repainting Soviet helmets and the correct color for "Russian Green"!) I'm no Golden Demon painter, but I like to think I'm better than I was I began. I guess that's all we can ask for. Ok, enough pondering. On to some photos!

I snapped this photo on 3-25-11. The basic flesh is done, though I'll do more detail work on it later, like lining the cheeks and nose with Irdian Flesh. I only use P3's skin tones because those are the only flesh tones I've learned how to use.

I took these two on 10-8-2011. At this point, I was not happy how I painted the highlights and other details on the figures.I had to keep working on my techniques, so after I snapped these photos I did some repainting on all of them. I'm still working on getting it just right.
You can see on this figure that I was experimenting with black-lining the folds on the equipment. I quickly stopped that and began outlining the equipment and folds with a darker color. On the satchels, for example, I began using Olive Drab instead of black in the folds and pocket outlines. In the end, the eclectic painting styles just add to their rag-tag, battle-hardened appearance when you see several of them in a group--this is my story and I'm sticking to it! Painting straps: Because the Reaper khaki colors I was working with are thin, I always painted a base coat of Olive Drab on the khaki straps. This made it easier to paint the khaki onto than black. I then painted the straps Reaper Khaki Shadow. Thinning the paint with each new color and trying to layer it up as well as blend when possible, I painted the strap edges and other raised areas using Reaper Terran Khaki. Finally, I picked out the raised edges and folds using very thin coats of Reaper Khaki Highlight. Lastly, I black-lined the straps using a 00 brush.

The final product, minus the naked, unfinished base.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

West Wind Cowboy Test Photos

I've been wanting to set up a small studio in the game room, but all the big box hardware stores don't have the type of light bulb I need for my lamps. As a result, I'll have to go to the Light Bulbs Unlimited store downtown. I've been wanting to go there for weeks now, but we know how those things go, especially with me!

Anyway, the weather has been nice, so I took the camera outside. I set up a make-shift "studio" on a card table in the driveway, using God's own light bulb. At least this time no neighbors stopped by to see what I was doing. (That happens a lot in our neighborhood, which I like, but this time I just wanted to snap photos as quickly as possible without getting into the entire history of our hobby!)

The Soviets Are Coming!
I shot photos of all 25 finished Soviets, along with this test photo of some of my Western figures. Over the next several days, I'll be posting the photos of the Soviets in chunks along with my paint lists. Plus a little tutorial about how I painted their gun barrels, which look much better in person than my little Lumix snappy does them justice. Lots to come. (Note: I'll be doing the bases as soon as my hands can handle it.)

West Wind Cowboys
The three figures in the photo are from West Wind's Cowboy Wars line, which is made by Old Glory. I make it no secret that I love this line of figures, though there are a few clinkers here and there. I grabbed three figures out of the box for a test shot.

The figure on the far left is from pack ZCW-10 US Marshalls. It comes with a very John Wayne-looking figure. I painted this fellow's face a long time ago when learning how to paint flesh, but only recently finished his outfit. His trousers are Americana Burnt Umber, and the coat is Americana Russet. Can't recall the hat's color.

The middle figure, which I just realized has been seen on the blog long ago, is from ZCW-29 The Long Riders. I finished him a couple years ago. You can see how my shading and highlighting are different now than back then. I have no clue about the paints I used!

The far right figure is from West Wind's Gothic Horror - Realms of Terror - Jekyell & Hyde series of figures. This is one of four figures from pack GHJ-5 London Gentlemen. I painted his face a long time ago, but painted eyes on him when I did my Soviets last year. Other than his skin, I totally painted him last Sunday afternoon. I'm quite excited because I painted stripes on his pants. I have a very difficult time painting straight stripes. I think I'm getting better at it. His trousers are Americana Graphite, and the stripes are Folk Art Neutral Grey. His overcoat is Americana Black Plumb. (That was an oops! I wanted to paint it dark maroon, but grabbed the wrong bottle. Didn't realize it until I started painting! Sometimes mistakes work out for the best.) For a shadow color, I used Ceramcoat Dark Burnt Umber with a touch of Black Plumb. For highlights, I used Black Plumb mixed with Polyscale French Light Blue because it was easy to reach, though any very light grey will do. For the top highlight, I added a dab of white to this mix. The hat is also Americana Graphite, highlighted with Folk Art Neutral Grey, and then Folk Art Steel Grey for top-highlight.

That's all for today.
Watch for the photos of the Soviets. And then next weekend is the AWI-ACW-WWII-Modern military reenactment. Plus, I'll be returning to some old projects, like my ACW fellows, who have been feeling might lonely far too long!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Force on Force: Too Much To Handle

Last week, I sold my like-new copies of Force on Force and its first scenario book, Road to Baghdad. For many months, I had tried to pick up the rulebook and wrap my head around it to no avail. Within minutes of reading, my eyes would begin glassing over while my brain would begin looking for ways to escape the page.

I know many people enjoy playing the game, and I do believe there is a game in there just wanting to get out and play. I just could not find it. It's one of only a few rulebooks that I have never been able figure out or remain focused on while reading it. (For me, the original Gulf Strike from Victory Games remains on the top of that list and will never be dethroned!)

I think some of my problem with Force on Force comes from it's dense text and occasionally confusing writing style. It's organization also can be confusing at times. The main problem, however, is that the game is just too much for me to handle. For example, when the rules explain ranged combat, I kept getting lost in modifiers before I could even get to what they were supposed to be modifying. Firepower has eight modifiers alone. Cover also has around eight modifiers. Then there are armor modifiers and troop quality modifiers and support weapon modifiers and diminishing fire and splitting fire and.... Well, you get the point. There is just too much there for me to keep track of without someone teaching me the rules.

On The Road to Baghdad
While I had many problems reading the core rulebook and keeping all the rules in my head, I didn't have that many problems reading the scenario book, Road to Baghdad. Granted, the writing style isn't that different from the core rulebook, but like most scenario books the organization of Road to Baghdad is much simpler than a rulebook.

I like Road to Baghdad's overview of the days leading up to the war and its discussion about the early war's operations in general. That was the best summary of the war I had read--neither too complicated nor too simplistic. It helps frame the scenarios.

I also like how the scenarios are presented. Giving the actual events surrounding the engagement and then how those events and OOB's had to be changed to make the scenario playable, so the Americans don't win all the time, is very nice. I also found the sections explaining how each engagement historically unfolded to be of great insight and interesting. Overall, I found that gamers really can use the book for any set of rules, not just Force on Force.

I parted with Road to Baghdad only because I doubted I would be doing any modern skirmish gaming because it's just too complicated  as subject for me to learn on my own. I don't understand the weapons, the tactics, nor all the jargon. I guess I've come to a point in my life where I don't have the time to learn them on my own. On the other hand, Force on Force has made me appreciate our brave men from WWII, who fought with much simpler weapons and very little training compared to today. It's amazing what those ordinary guys accomplished, as well as sacrificed in large numbers.

So until someone at a convention teaches me how to play Force on Force, I felt that I had to part with the game, using that money to fund other projects. But that is another post for another day.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Rude Flea Market Gamers -- Argh!

Last evening while looking at photos of this year's Cold Wars convention in Lancaster, which we had planned to attend but had to pass on due to my wife's employment situation, I flashed back to a bad experience I had a couple years ago at the con's flea market tables.

While we enjoyed the flea market over all, there are always a few guys who just have little or no manners whatsoever. I'm not talking about bathing issues or bad breath issues, as important as those are. I'm talking about rude, selfish behavior that flea markets and cheap deals always seem to bring out.

One guy in particular at that year's flea market really got my goat. There I was, looking through a stack of game books a fellow gamer was selling for only $3 and $5 each. I was moving pretty fast, thumbing through them as I have done thousands of times at flea markets. Suddenly, this "big fellow" pushed his overly-large stomach into my back, leaned and reached around me, and grabbed a pile of books as soon as I reach them in the stack. They were original Rogue Trader rulebooks and supplements in great condition, $5 each.

Then he looked at me like he knew he was doing something wrong, pulled out his wallet, and tried paying for the books as quickly as he could--just like a little bratty kid. Ticked off, I politely mentioned that I had been looking through the books, and that I really would have liked to buy them. He replied "oh well" and that he gotten to them first. (That little "oh well" really ticked me off!) The poor fellow selling the books looked confused and frightened, eyes moving rapidly between the two of us. I could see he feared a confrontation was about to occur. So he took the guy's money and then turned away.

Not wanting to start a big scene, I left it go with a snarky remark that the rulebook would probably fall apart anyway as soon as he bent the spine. (A common problem with the Rogue Trader book that I exaggerated.) I should have just shrugged it off without saying anything, but man-oh-man, I was cheesed! And to boot, we were visiting PA that week to see my dad, who was dying, and Cold Wars was a way for us to escape that sadness for a short while that week. (I've also been thinking a lot about my dad, who died last year at this time. As a result, he and Cold Wars are forever tied together in our minds. But I digress...)

Let's Be Polite, People! Or Else!
Having gone to many flea markets, I've always believed that when someone is looking through a stack of books or rooting through a box of stuff, then that person has first dibs on everything there. (I know this is not a widely held ethic among flea marketeers, which is why I usually approach them with some apprehension, wondering how many jerks will bump and push me.) If I see someone thumbing through a stack of books or rummaging through a box, I'll ask them if they mind if I take a look as well. (Or just wait until they are done!) I'll often ask if there is anything special they're looking for, and even point it out when I find it, even if it were something I had been interested in. After all, they were there first.

Maybe I'm weird that way, but I just find it courteous. My son feels the same way. It also makes for a more enjoyable experience. I did that several times at the Cold Wars' flea market that year. Later on that hour, I even spotted stuff on another table and then bumped into that earlier-guy who let me share the box, tipping him off to check the table on the other side of the room. It's also made for some nice conversations. I don't think I'm being a sucker. I just like helping people when possible.

A Flame This High
But that guy who rudely "stole" those Rogue Trader books out from under me. I really hate that kind of rude behavior. I hope you guys don't have that happen to you--though I suspect it has too many times to remember. And if you're in the other camp... Well, enough said!

A Quick Thanks
I just want to take a moment to welcome all the new followers to the blog, as well as those people using blog readers who don't show up as followers. Remember that if you ever want to drop me an email about the blog or anything, simply click on my profile pane to the right. You can find my email address there. See you all next time!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

American Guerrilla in the Philippines (1945) by Ira Wolfert

"This is the story of Lt. Iliff David Richardson, USNR. The story explains, for one thing, the role of the people in the guerrilla operations and what they did to help. Richardson was the executive officer of PT 34. After it was sunk by the Japanese, Richardson and a dozen fellow Americans attempted to sail a native outrigger to Australia, but the boat was sunk in a storm. He eventually joined the Philippine guerrilla forces, setting up a radio network to keep the various bands in touch with each other and Allied forces in Australia. After the liberation of the Philippines, Richardson dictated his memoirs to war correspondent Ira Wolfert, who published them in 1945 as this book." Actually, it's a great how to manual for conducting a guerrilla war! It seems this book is currently out of print.

This is another one of our recent thrift shop finds, paying less than $1. This is the original 1945 edition. It's a bit beaten up and foxed, but it's always fun holding and reading an original copy of an old book. Many years (decades!) ago, I put myself through college selling used and antique books at our family's antique store. My grandfather sold 19th century oil paintings (usually several thousand dollars each), my grandmother and step-mother sold antique jewelery, my dad sold old lithographs and other prints, and I sold old photos, old books, and 1950s porcelain kitchen tables that I restored. Pretty cool, eh! Thankfully before he died last year, my dad passed on his love for art and antiques to my son. He also passed on the fine art of haggling, which I don't like to do, but that is another story!

In 1950, the book was turned into a movie starting Tyrone Power, written by Wolfert, and directed by Fritz Lang. I've never seen the movie, so it's on my list to watch. You can read more about it at its wikipedia page. It's IMDb page is fairly skimpy.

Dispatches From HQ

A quick update on the blog: You might notice some changes. I have made the Soviet uniform post its own dedicated page. You can now get to it at any time by clicking on its link in the "Important Dispatches" pane to the right. (I'm trying to keep this Victorian naming theme going. I know it's corny! LOL) Also playing around with some other changes and probably adding some more dedicated pages. So bear with me if you see things changing a bit while your viewing the blog. After all, there is a price to pay for progress!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Arkham Horror: First Win!

Tonight, we finally won our first game of Arkham Horror by Fantasy Flight Games! It took a little over three hours to finish. This is one of our favorite games and one of the hardest to win, at least it seems that way for us. This game we went up against Yig and its minions. Yig's Doom Track got down to 8 and the game's Terror Track got down to 9. It really came down to the wire before Yig could wake up and smear us across the streets of Arkham.

Jeremy played with the character Bob Jenkins and I decided to try Ashcan Pete, the local drifter. Pete was ok for a little while, then pretty much became useless much of the game, hanging out at Arkham Asylum an awful lot. Ergh! Notice how few items he has, like only one? And $1 to his name? I think I will retire Pete before I go permanently insane! Anyway, Arkham is a fun game. For me, it ranks up there with Runebound and Ticket to Ride. Read more about Arkham Horror at it Boardgame Geek entry.

The board at the end of the game, the last gate closed

Jeremy's character and his stash. For a salesmen, Bob is a decent Other World fighter!

I love using these cups to store chits! Much easier than baggies or counter trays.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

1st Infantry Division (Spearhead) by Ian Westwell

I recently bought this book at a local thrift store, paying only $1. This is part of the Spearhead series of books from 2002. About the series from an Amazon page: "This series looks at the cutting edge of war, and deals exclusively with units capable of operating independently in the forefront of battle. Each volume in the series examines the chosen unit's origins and history, its organisation and order of battle, its battle history theatre by theatre, its insignia and its markings. Also covered are biographies of the most important commanders of each unit. Each title ends with an assessment of unit effectiveness - as seen by the unit itself, by its opponents and in the light of more recent historical research. The books also include a detailed reference section with a critical biography, a listing of relevant museums and web sites, plus information about re-enactment groups and memorials."

For someone like myself learning about the details of WWII, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It's chock full of actual photos, reenactor photos, maps, organizational charts, weapon details, and everything else a miniature gamer could ask for. There are a number of books in this series, originally published in the UK by Ian Allen Publishing. Several private dealers at Amazon sell the 1st Infantry Division book very cheaply. I'm sure other places online sell it cheaply as well. I'm looking into getting other books in the series, such as the books covering Rangers, British Commandos, and the Desert Rats. Great stuff! Below are some photos of pages within the book.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Stalingrad For $3: Wargames, Soldiers, and Strategy #28

Keeping with the Soviet theme of late, I downloaded the PDF version of issue #28 of Wargames, Soldiers, and Strategy, paying only $3.05 after conversion from Euro to dollars. Though I began writing this post as a small blurb about the issue and a link to it, it quickly grew into an overview of the issue. Hopefully, folks will find it useful.

I downloaded the issue because a large portion of it, what they call a "dossier," centers around The Battle of Stalingrad during WWII.This is one of those "battles" (more like a protracted siege) that has always fascinated and horrified me since I was a teenager playing boardgames.

Historical Background
There is a 13 page history of the battle, "Stalingrad, The Hero City," complete with maps of the battle and a double-page spread of the city under attack, illustrated with photos of battle-destroyed 28mm buildings and Black Tree Design German and Soviet. I was a bit surprised that actual photos of the battle were not included, but those are easy enough to come by.

Miniature Reviews
Next comes a one-page article on available 20mm and 28mm miniatures. Since the list is five years old, it's getting a bit dated. Still, it's only a page.

Two rules-generic scenarios follow the listing of available miniatures. The first two-page scenario is "Pavlov's House, 29 October 1942." The German forces are elements of the 389th Infantry Division, 6th Army. The scenario calls for a platoon of four infantry squads, five halftracks, a Panzer III, and a Panzer IV. They are attacking only eleven Soviet infantry holding out in Pavlov's house. They also get an AT gun, a couple 50mm mortars, and a dreaded sniper team. Then there is the Soviet minefield to spice it up a bit. To be fair, the Germans also get some mortars. This looks like an interesting defensive battle, the type which occured over and over again in the city.

The second scenario, "Stalingrad Sniper Hunt, 19 November 1942," uses about the same number of German forces against a larger, platoon-sized Soviet force. This one tries to capture the feel of sniper teams lurking about the city, preying on enemy soldiers. Looks pretty interesting as well, though it needs more buildings than the first.

Book Reviews
This is a one-page listing of several books covering the Battle of Stalingrad.

Building Ruined Buildings
From where I sit, this is the best article in the entire issue. Paul Darnell of Touching History fame writes an excellent five-page article about creating ruined buildings and scenery for Stalingrad. The best part is that anyone can do this, not just a master modeler! I have always feared doing an urban game like Stalingrad because I fear making or buying all the buildings I would need. (While building structures and scenery was my primary hobby when I did model railroading, I seem to have pulled away from it as I've gotten older.) Plus, his tips and techniques will work for any ruined buildings, from Mordheim to Normandy. Many process photos help as well. Note that Paul's work also graces the historical article. Sadly, Paul's website seems to be offline for now.

Final Word
While lately I have not always been kind to Wargames, Soldiers, and Strategy, I found this older issue very useful, especially for only $3 in PDF. I recommend it as a nice introduction to Stalingrad.