Verda versus Griza pound store plastic soldiers 20mm Interbellum FMS skirmish, now with added Esperanto!

Grizan Militia forces (milicoj) and light tank (malpleza tanko) approach the bridge (ponto).

Following on from last week’s Pound Store Plastic Warriors post about these tiny 2cm Airfix clone figures, I have been busy painting some of them

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2020/06/23/the-joy-of-pound-store-play-sets/

so here is now a small test skirmish using adapted Donald Featherstone simple WW2 rules from War Games (1962). Movement and firing ranges were generally halved to fit a small gridded picture frame battlefield with squares on the back of wrapping paper instead of inches.

Photo: Working out the rough dispositions of the Verdan (south) and Grizan troops (north) before allocating arrival turns.

In keeping with the adopted common or international language of Verda and Griza, some Esperanto words appear throughout including on this military map.

Border section (landlima infanterio sectio) Verda military sketch map (milita mapa skizo) – secreto!
From the Verdan side of the border or bridge post – how they expect the Grizan Militia to arrive

The scenario the Verdan Militia forces trained for – light tank / infantry attack on the border.

Scenario

Rumours of a small lightly armoured reconnaissance column of Grizan militia heading towards their small river or canal wharf border post have reached the Verdan troops and light tank stationed there.

They quickly arrange some of the sacks and freight boxes stored on the canal wharf into a roadblock barricade and elsewhere on the wharf as cover.

Their green MT1 light tank (malpeza tanko) waits in the cover of trees.

A small portable Boom-KA or kontrautankan armilon (antitank rifle or rocket) is readied in place behind the sack and sandbag barricade on the border bridge.

Message is sent back by despatch rider to call up the rocket car (skolto auto raketo or scout car) stationed further up the road. It will arrive hopefully on Turn 6.

Turns 1 to 4

Elements of both Verdan forces defending the borderpost and attacking Grizan forces appear on the board at staggered turns and locations chosen by d6 throws.

The Grizan forces attack head on from left, centre and right.

By Turn 5, the first few Verdan defenders are hit by fusilo or rifle fire, defending the low stone border or boundary walls.

Turn 5 – the Grizan light tank, knocked out for 1 move has a marker placed to remind me.
Turn 5 – the scene / seen from the Verdan Militia side.

Turn 7 – the Grizan tank is back in action with its 2 pounder gun.

The front line of the Verdan forces behind the stone walls are now all dead.

The unreliable shoulder-held Verdan Infantry antitank rocket (the Boom-KA) used by the Verdan Militia on the bridge is close enough to score a close range hit. It fires but again lands a glancing blow which failed to penetrate the light tank armour.

Thankfully neither of the Grizan or Verdan light tanks is the machine gun mounted type, it instead has rather light armour for speed and a not so powerful 2 pounder gun.

Turn 8 – the Grizan light tank is destroyed by the Verdan light tank.

On the footbridge to the side of the crossing, Grizan Militia troops have suffered badly trying to outflank the main action. Several Grizan and Verdan Militia men have been brought down by rifle fire from behind cover and melee.

Turn 9 sees the Grizan scout car destroyed by a rocket salvo from the Verdan rocket car (Verda raketo auto)

Turn 10 – Retirigi

The Grizan Officer decides (d6 1-3 yes, 4-6 no) that with the loss of over half his Infantry force and his two vehicles, it is time to retreat. The Retirigi signal is given. Retreat! Retreat!

The battered Verdan border troops cheer – “Venko!” (Victory) “Venko al Verda!”

Casualties

Verda infanterio – 10

Griza infanterio – 14

Malplaza tanko (Light tank) – 1

Skolto auto (Scout car) – 1

Solo Game Feedback

I haven’t used these simpler WW2 Featherstone rules from War Games (1962) for a while, although I have used them on and off for forty years. I noticed some omissions due to their conciseness. Where needed, I had add or approximate range / hit dice rate rule for “Tank firing on troops” or “Bazooka versus troops”.

I also kept confusing inches with squares.

I now understand much more now about the long discussions online about movement and firing on a square grid, orthogonal and diagonal movement etc. that are explored more fully in Bob Cordery’s The Portable Wargame book series.

I may go back to simple Heroscape hexes on my portable playing board.

ImagiNations Back Story – Verda and Griza

Forgotten Minor States FMS in the early Twentieth Century and Interwar period

Over a hundred years earlier, Verda and Griza were part of Verdigris, one of the many Forgotten Minor Eurasian States (FMS).

In the early twentieth century Verdigris adopted Esperanto as its official language with its international neighbours. This was partly because it liked the bright greenness of the Esperanto flag, for which it hoped to supply much of the copper green pigment.

The inventor of Esperanto, Ludwig Lazar Zamenhof (1859-1917) or one of his followers is said to have visited Verdigris early in the 1890s on a speaking tour to promote his new Lingvo internacia [citation needed].

Seen here in the mid to late Nineteenth Century, the Light Artillery of the Verdigris Volunteer Militia on a suitably grey misty day for their grey green and red uniforms.

Dapper dandyish Verdigris Militia force officers and Verdigris flag of grey, green and red, mid to late 19th Century

“The misty mountain regions of Verdigris is allied with Upper or Higher Plumea (another Forgotten Minor State). Its principal industry is copper mining, copper working for a range of industrial and artistic craft purposes, allied to the use of green pigment by artists. This has slowly declined since more stable green pigments were discovered and became available. As in Bleudelys, its pigment rival, the women of Verdigris play an important role in the processing of the pigment.”

“The original Verdigris flag reflects the mountain grey mist and the copper green of the Verdigris pigment industry.”

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/04/19/scrap-napoleonics-ready-to-scrap-forgotten-minor-states/

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Green, grey and red were the original Verdigris colours. By the late 1920s and 1930s, Verda and Griza had uneasily split in the aftermath of WW1 in the 1920s during the worldwide depression.

In the now forgotten FMS Minor Principality and Duchy (Duklando) of Verdigris, the last Duko and Dukino had died in the early Twentieth century, childless, of extreme old age. The Verdigris line of succession of this tiny royal or aristocratic house had finally dwindled.

It had faded out through low royal birth rates, copper poisoning, no heirs (or disputed heirs of dubious legitimacy) and abdication down to a few disputed, disinterested and financially distressed distant foreign cousins, many times removed, most of whom didn’t even want to live there anymore.

These minor royals and relations were quite happy to live quietly on the capital built up on the profit inherited from the labours of many generations of Verdigris working class copper miners, pigment makers and dyers, men and women alike. Many of the workers died younger than the Verdigris gentry from the toxic effects of copper and arsenic production.

Grizan Militia and MT1 Light Tank approach the Verdan border post

Royalist and Nationalist forces of Verda Armeo (the Verdan or Green Militia army) wore grey-green uniforms and a bright copper green flag or markings on vehicles.

The self-styled “socialist Republic” of Griza Armeo (the Grizan or Grey Militia army) wore grey uniforms with red flag and markings on vehicles.

They wanted the dwindling copper industry nationalised and the profits shared with the people. The lingvo internacia of Esperanto with its Russo-Polish middle European origins was adopted or promoted by the socialist Grizan people as a forward thinking international language of trade and socialist harmony. Many of the copper miners had already joined unions and socialist militias (milicos). It was partly that they liked the copper green flag of Esperanto, as it was good for business. If only the red flag of socialism could be replaced with a greener one …

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN (Viro de STANO) 28 June 2020

Blog Post Script B.P.S. – Esperanto and the US Army

The International Language of Peace – Esperanto Military Training Manual

Several decades later, The Ewessae (USA) Army used Esperanto as the language for the ImagiNations enemy “Aggressor Troops” in their troop training from the 1950s to 1970s.

I discovered this through the late Thor Shiel’s Milihistriot website and featured a screenshot in my 2016 blog post here; and two US Army 1960s Training Manuals :

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/07/18/tintin-and-imagi-nations-games/

https://ia600302.us.archive.org/4/items/FM30-101/FM30-101.pdf

https://archive.org/details/FM30-101AAggressortheManeuverEnemyEsperantoLanguage/page/n29/mode/2up

https://blogs.transparent.com/esperanto/the-us-army-used-esperanto/

This Aggressor fictional enemy using adapted recoloured US Equipment is one good future way of using Pound Store figures where both sides use the same moulds, albeit in different colours. Lots of ideas here for future gaming .

Here is another link to the US Army Aggressor Training Manual 1962 on archive.org

https://ia600302.us.archive.org/4/items/FM30-101/FM30-101.pdf

and that short video of US Army Esperanto speaking Aggressor training on YouTube

https://youtu.be/kZ2ei7e6aAs

The Joy of Pound Store Play Sets …

Combat Mission Mini Soldier Play Set Play Mat – more of a poster than a play mat?
The contents in full – 203 soldiers, 3 jeeps, 2 tanks, 2 flags, 1 aircraft – felt river not supplied.

Side view of the 2 cm green and grey 203 figures

This recent gift was (I think) bought last year from a seaside gift shop, part of the Combat Mission branding that we have featured elsewhere on this Pound Store Plastic Warriors site. However it can be found online for around £5 including delivery.

The tiny Airfix sized OOHO or 1:72-1:76 2cm type figures are clones or copies of two familiar Airfix figure sets of American Infantry (4 poses) and British Paratroops (2 poses).

They have muted details but are not too distorted with minimal flash and have good bases. Even without vehicles, these 200 odd figures would be 1p to 2.5p each.

Being a cheaper play set, both sides of German / Grey and American / Green troops use the same moulds / figures. Ditto the jeeps and tanks. They all make good enough generic WW2 / modern infantry and vehicles.

Six poses of green or grey troops, mostly scaled to each other. 4 and 6 are Airfix British Para derived, others American Infantry derived.

Green troops have a radar or searchlight jeep, along with a small multiple rocket launcher.

Whoopee! Grey troops have their very own rocket propelled jeep.

Side view of a ‘cute’ little grey tank. It looks like a light airborne armour or early war light tank.

A neat little tank from the rear, some good engine & stowage detail. Not sure which model of tank it is meant to be.

If you don’t want to use the flag-post mound for its intended purpose, it can become infantry cover.

Overall this is good (play) value, as you can buy these playsets online all in for about £5 and free delivery.

Given that you have 203 figures in my set, approximately four boxes of Airfix figures, this would cost you in the shops about £20. Add in the hard plastic tanks and jeeps similar to the Airfix ones from the 1970s, this £5 set proves good value to the young and not so young gamer.

Quantity has a Quality all of its own, someone once said. “The phrase has been popular in the US defense community since the 1980s, sometimes acknowledging it as a US coinage, but often misattributing it to Clausewitz, Lenin, Stalin, and Brezhnev, but mostly to Stalin.http://klangable.com/blog/quantity-has-a-quality-all-its-own/.

As poses go, we have a fair share of each of the poses but this leads us to having too many pistol waving (American Infantry) officers and too many (American Infantry) bazooka men. Obviously you can reuse pistol guy in other roles as vehicle crew etc. That saying, Airfix and other plastic figures have their fair share of useless diorama poses in each box.

One of the typical play set minus points for some is the weird period mix and oddities of scale. These are generic WW2 and postwar figures next to a WW2 type tank and WW2 or postwar type jeeps but the modern odd one out is the secret Stealth type jet.

If you are role-playing a pound store WW2 skirmish rerun of Germany versus Britain and America, this could be a prototype or experimental Me262 type variant jet fighter.

If you are role-playing Green versus Grey in your ImagiNations scenario, again it could be a top secret stealth fighter etc.

Britain vs America? Available play set Amazon U.K. June 2020

 

The German / American branding is fairly fluid, depending on which bag you get. Other versions of the same figures and vehicles can be found online with desert tan and green troops, marked by flags as Americans and British!

It is the sort of playset that I would have been happy to have bought with my pocket money as a child and even today as an adult gamer, I could enjoy this for what it is.

I might rebase the figures. I might remove the stickers and even add a lick of flesh paint, maybe some brown or black paint on boots and weapons. But I will enjoy them for what they are.

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN on Pound Store Plastic Warriors, 23 June 2020.