I am perfectly aware of my many limitations as a war gamer. The most crippling of which is a lack of focus on any given project for any length of time. To be clear these projects are never totally discarded, but rather hang in suspended animation awaiting their time to shine once again. So to complete the basic units required for a 1000 point Bolt Action Soviet Army was, by my standards, going to quite an achievement. I had deliberately left aside the more esoteric units as something to look forward to, but with the return to work hobby time evaporated, that’s not to say that it disappeared altogether and there would be small steps forward, often snatched over a weekend, but the momentum built up through the longer breaks was inevitably going to stall.
Returning to the esoteric, the inclusion of the dog units was always going to be a controversial choice here at ‘Awdry Towers’. The Saintly Mrs. Awdry will not bat an eye as the massed ranks of my toy soldiers are massacred wholesale following another tactical blunder by yours truly, but suggest that an animal might be injured, even one made of white metal, and oh my goodness me - the horror!
So when we discussed the fate of these poor mutts, that had explosive charges strapped to their backs and then encouraged to go and lie under the advancing tanks, it was clear that I needed to present the grim reality in a more palatable way. No longer would they be referred to as Anti Tank Teams, but instead good doggies being taken for a walk by their caring handlers!
All of this nonsense aside, it would appear that there is some discrepancy as to the effectiveness of such tactics, not the sanitising of history to appease your wife you understand, but stories abound of dogs so terrified by the metal behemoths that they run back to their own lines, much to the chagrin of Uncle Ivan. I am led to believe that any stray dog seen on the streets of Mother Russia was exterminated by the German invaders. Still there was something so absurd about all of this that made them a must have inclusion to my force.
As hinted at earlier, tactics are not my strong point, so anything that throws a certain semblance of chance into the proceedings is most definitely up my street so I picked up the ‘Warlord Games’ pack and planned to paint them as they were, but give them the ‘wintery’ treatment to tie in with the rest of my force. Unfortunately the pack only had one handler wearing a Telogreika, but as I wanted to add additional units to this team I was going to need more winter clad warriors to swell the ranks. Fortunately I fell upon on a series of posts on the wonderful, Dramatic Katastases blog.
This was a veritable gold mine of ideas, and you can expect to see more of them shamefully plundered here in due course, but the dog unit in particular gave me food for thought - I could make my own! A couple of snow suited veterans that had been abandoned, as I was looking to make a unit with SMGs and they had rifles, were conscripted to the cause. The bits box also yielded some scraps that I thought would work well for me and as luck would have it, a pack Warlord Games Ancient Britons Mastiffs!*
*Everyone has these lying around, right?
The build itself was relatively straightforward and I am genuinely thrilled with the results, although already thinking about the possibility of using markers to show that the dogs had been deployed. With regards to painting, I simply followed the same steps that I used with earlier units, finished off with a dusting of ‘snow’. For the time being this is where I am going to leave my Soviet forces. By my reckoning, I have enough options to field a competitive 1000 point force, although there are still some pieces I could call upon, including the ubiquitous T34 waiting in the wings. As to what pops up next here at '28mm Victorian Warfare' is anyone's guess. A quick check revealed 54 draft posts, the earliest dating back to 2013, in various states of completion and detailing an inordinate array of periods and projects. That said, I am enjoying getting back to writing and catching up with friends so determined to keep going for a little while longer.