6mm Alt-History and why not?

Adolf Hitler was furious, his war against Czechoslovakia was not going well at all and now it seemed that the stupid Prussian Junkers of the General staff had lost the will for the fight. Even when the Czechs refused to just roll over and allow the Germans to annexe their country some of them were already warning against starting a war, but the early successes soon quietened them down but that early enthusiasm soon started to seep away again. The Czechs had managed to slow the German advance and then had the audacity to launch a counter-attack which was so successful that the damned Poles had decided to throw their lot in with them. The bleating from the General Staff had become even worse then as the war moved to two fronts and now the French were ‘insisting’ on peace talks or they would be forced to take up arms. But Hitler was holding firm, he had decided to fly to Rome to try and persuade Il Duce to join in the war and was planning on visiting Hungary next. Letting out a deep breath he looked out of the window at the Alps below to try and calm his thoughts, it was the last thing he ever did… And so ended Adolf Hitler, assassinated by a bomb on his plane planted by members of the General Staff that wanted to prevent a disastrous war that would ruin Germany.

So what is this piece of fiction all about? It is the point of departure for my alt-history version of the Cold War era whereby the Second World War has not happened and so the Warsaw Pact was never formed, indeed in my made up version of events the Soviet Union is more or less the same size and shape as it is now due to a particularly nasty conflict in the early 50’s involving most of Europe. But why, I hear you shouting, WHY!

Back in the 80’s I used to go to the Phoenix Wargames Club in Chadwell Heath and I took part in the first ever campaign of my life. We used to play a lot of 6mm ‘Ultra Moderns’ using Challenger rules and some of the chaps, I assume bored with the usual NATO vs Warpac games, hit upon the idea of doing something very different. They divided the UK up into the old Anglo-Saxon era kingdoms and assigned each a set of points. These were then spent on whatever kit the rulers wanted/could afford and the resulting armies then would fight each other as and when wars were declared. I thought it was fantastic and it threw up some great games and also there was some really interesting choices and mixes of kit going on which really struck a chord with me. Then when I started back in the hobby a few years ago and started putting together some 6mm forces for Fistful of TOWs I got to reminiscing and thought, why not have a go at something similar?

(Ukrainian Rooikat and Ratels from a Recce BTLN scout forward)

So the idea was simple at first, do away with the Warsaw Pact and then you could ‘arm’ the Eastern European armies with whatever kit I fancied as long as it wasn’t Soviet, for example I’ve always wanted to use the Vickers Mk3 in games but when would I ever get to use a Kenyan or Nigerian force? As it would be done in 6mm and the rules are scaled at a base = a platoon it wouldn’t be that taxing on my meagre budget either (or so I thought at first!). Apart from the excuse of putting some weird combinations of kit together on the table which has included doing some kitbashing for some what-if buts of kit, this project has also allowed me to spend time doing one of my favourite bits of the hobby: researching and converting TO&E’s, in fact sometimes I think it’s the real reason for doing this!

(Polish Vickers mk1’s leading Piranha APC’s move out)

One of the things that I really like about Fistful of TOWs is that they make it very easy to field forces of a Brigade/Regiment each side (although its usually Brigade vs reinforced Battalion) and have an easily playable game. With experienced players and/or more than 2 you can easily have a great all day Divisional sized battle which also makes the rules great for using in a campaign setting. With the potential of running games with larger forces than a brigade each side in I was soon thinking about exactly what the Armed Forces of these ‘new’ countries would look like to give the forces involved in such games some context. Therefore to arrive at the OOB’s of each of the nations the 1994 edition of the IISS ‘Balance of Power’ was duly ordered – I chose ’94 as I thought it was far enough away from the end of the Cold War to allow for some force reduction and reorganisation of the old Warsaw Pact Armies whilst still keeping the forces on the larger side. For the lower organisation of the forces I have used a mixture of real life organisations, the Poles use a tweaked version of their old Warsaw Pact regimental organisation which is radically different from the Soviet model and the Luxembourg Brigade uses the Franco-German Brigade organisation, or by ‘updating’ WW2 or earlier Cold War organisations.

(Their HQ element follows: Piranha-BILL ATGM, VBL and Piranha Command vehicles)

What has surprised me about doing this is that fellow ‘Cold War’ gamers at the club haven’t been snobby about playing with or against my stuff, far from it in fact, some have jumped in and made some forces up themselves! The great thing is that you can use them to fight against straight up Cold war forces too – indeed one of the best battles I’ve had was a Polish vs French scrap, a write up can be found here, and you can navigate round from there to look at more examples - https://tracksandthreads.wordpress.com/2017/06/05/club-game-290517-fft3-battle-of-miesta-sankryzos/ ) As one of the chaps said Cold War gaming is completely alt-history anyway why not just push it a bit further. Another pleasant surprise for me also was when I started posting about this project on my blog and on forums etc a few people got in touch saying that they were doing something similar either with an Alt-history set up like me or going down the Imaginations route.

It is one of the great things about 6mm gaming for me too, sometimes you can have an idea and just run with it as it doesn’t cost too much to get the project up and running. To highlight this my old clubmate Jonathan and I had planned to do something in this vein for our game at the Joy of 6 this year (but which hopefully we will be putting on next year) that came about after we were involved in a thread on a FB page. The thread was about taking WW2 battles and playing them out using Cold War kit, e.g. Market Garden with the Soviets as the Allies and NATO as the Germans etc., and I mentioned that I’d always thought the Western Desert battles with modern kit would be ace. A quick chat later and the game was on and so there will be Challengers, CVRT’s warriors et al resplendent in Caunter camouflage supported by South Africans in their Ratels taking on desert camo’d Germans in Leopard 2’s and Marders supported by Italian light forces using Centauros and OF-40’s – now what’s not to like about that!

(While T-80 (Chinese Type 80’s) follow on.)

Hopefully I might have sparked an interest in you trying something similar and I’d love to hear about it if you do (I’m on twitter @IAFuller or write a comment on my blog), remember the other benefit of 6mm is if you decide to bin a project soon after starting you can always re-purpose the kit with minimal bother.

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