After unboxing the massive box that was Battle for Berlin, I was left feeling a little daunted, feeling a little bit like I’d bitten off more than I could chew. I had sprues coming out of my ears, more weapon choices than I could shake a big shaky stick at, and lots of teeny-tiny decals, which my poor eyes could barely decipher. So, I had to get a grip, buy a book or two, and try and figure it all out…
The booklet that came in the box lists the statistics for the units within, specific unit types and sizes, which sounds all well and good, and probably means a lot to someone already immersed in the world of BA, but to me, it was as if it was all written in Greek!
After sitting and thinking about it for a while, I started to get my head around it, I was attempting to come at the problem from the wrong direction. My only experience of BA so far was through reading the rulebook and so I was fixated on the reinforced platoon, the basic foundation for creating a force, and the points system, whereas the units provided in the box didn’t appear to conform to this but were specifically built for the included scenarios.
This is fine, but the stats didn’t include point values for the units, and I wanted to know how it would all fit together later down the road when I wanted to put together my won reinforced platoons, both Soviet and German. Armies of Germany was my first port of call, it provided all the information I needed, typically, the late war theatre selectors from which my platoons will be formed.
The book was superb, containing bags of lovely pictures and plenty of historical background – the images of painted units would be a big help when I finally start assembling everything and move to painting. I could now work out how much each unit would cost if built along the lines suggested in the BoB box. I then did the same for the Soviets, grabbing Armies of the Soviet Union off Amazon. Whilst the German Armies book has been updated for use with BA 2nd Edition, the Soviet one remains unchanged because their army structure was a lot simpler and didn’t require any tinkering when the new edition came out. If anything, I prefer the way the Soviet book is put together, it felt like it contained a lot more historical content and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I also preferred the way it approached theatre selectors, they felt more concentrated, breaking things down into smaller chunks of time than the German one.
Before I dived in and started working out exactly how I was going to put it all together, I decided to add yet another book to my collection – The Road to Berlin campaign book. This concentrates on the events from Operation Bagration right through to the fall of Berlin, including the Warsaw and Prague uprisings, which I found really interesting.
Armed with these three books I could now decide on how to proceed. Here’s my thinking…’Blow it all and do what I want!’
Pretty sound don’t you think?
For example: The box comes with 12 German Heer Grenadiers and specifies two figures to be used as either an Officer and his bi… helper or as a sniper team, whilst the rest go towards a full, 10-man, squad. Now, I’m thinking that my initial Platoons are going to be late war, playing scenarios set towards the fall of Berlin, so, to keep in with that, maybe 2-squads of 5 men would be more realistic, as attrition would have ground down the forces and few, if any, would be at full strength?
More tinkering can be done with the Soviets. The set comes with 24 Soviet Infantry and 24 soviet Winter Infantry, and they are broken down in the book into 4 units: a rifle squad, a light machine gun squad, a submachine gun squad, and a veteran squad. The first two are full, 12-man squads, whilst the others are 10-man, the other 4 figures becoming an Officer and Sniper team. The minimum squad for Soviets is 5, which leaves plenty of room here for shuffling things around. I also noticed that, according to the Soviet Armies book, there were no standard rifle squads (being inexperienced) during this stage of the war, they were either guard or veteran squads. Again, I doubt if I’ll go with a full, 12-man, squad here, and reducing them down slightly will give me at least one extra unit, if not two, to play with – more units=more dice in the bag=more chance of pulling one of your own out!
I’m quite happy now on where I’m going with the assembly of my units, but then there’s painting, and here I find I’m in the same boat (mind the pun), as I was when painting my Naval ships. What colour was Soviets uniform? Why can’t I seem to get a definitive answer for this simple question? Shades of green, shades of grey, and shades of brown often erring on the side of yellow. I can only conclude that they’re all right to some degree and it depends on when the uniform was issued and how long it had been worn. I know for a fact that they fade. I have some of my old uniform, both the old Combat Soldier 95 DPM (Disruptive Pattern Material), phased out 2010-13, and the later MTP (Multi-Terrain Pattern), both of which are well worn and quite different to what they were originally. The colours of the CS95 are dull. Where there was once black there is now grey and dark greens have sun-bleached to a much lighter colour. The MTP, which is made up of four colours, has faded so much it now looks a single colour from a distance of 10m or so – on a side note, the newer MTP hasn’t lasted as long as my old CS95 stuff, which has seen me through many a day fishing, working in the garden, and generally getting mucky in the garage, and other than a tear in the knee is still going strong (The MTP wore so thin it fell apart!).
Tanks aren’t so much of an issue. Whilst there are many different; paint schemes to choose from, they do seem quite well documented, so it’s just a case of deciding which ones to go with.
So, that’s where I am at the moment. I have everything worked out in my head I just need to move on to actually putting things together. I’ve just prepped my last batch of MoM miniatures, as well as three more for M:CP, so they are what I’m concentrating on currently painting. They shouldn’t take long though, the MoM stuff I keep nice and simple, and when I find myself with a spare half-hour, I’ll make a start on assembling some units. I also want to forge ahead with the scenery, some of which should be a quick fix, though the Berlin Houses will take a bit more thought.
I’ll bang another BA post out when I have more to add, even if it’s just some pictures of work in progress. In the meantime, if anyone can recommend a good website or book detailing Soviet or German uniform colours (or tanks), that would be much appreciated, thanks😁