All posts by Russ Phillips

Panzer Kids Basic cover

Panzer Kids: WWII Rules

As implied by the name, this is a simple set of rules, primarily designed for playing with children. There are two versions, the free “Panzer Kids Basic”, and the paid-for “Panzer Kids Deluxe”.

The emphasis is on tank warfare, and the basic version only has rules for tanks. A nice touch for a game aimed at children is the “Mind Your Manners” section. Mostly common sense, it explains why the game is more fun for everyone if people don’t try to bend rules and take advantage.

The rules are very simple. When firing, the firer rolls a D6 and adds the result to the firing tank’s attack value. If the total is greater than the target’s defence value, the target suffers a hit. Once a tank has taken three hits, it is destroyed.

The deluxe version adds optional rules for wrecks, flank shots, damage, close range, hull-down, hull guns, anti-tank guns, elite units, roads, mine fields, objectives, and micro scale miniatures. The basic version includes stats for eight tank types. The deluxe version adds many more tank types, plus anti-tank guns. It also has instructions for working out the stats for any tanks not already covered.

Four scenarios are included in the deluxe version, along with a brief WWII timeline.

I’ve played a game using the basic rules with my two kids, aged six and eleven. They had three tanks each, and the game lasted about forty-five minutes, despite them spending much of their time hiding behind terrain. Both kids said that they had fun, so in that respect at least, the rules are a success.

Both Panzer Kids Basic and Panzer Kids Deluxe are available as PDFs from Wargame Vault.

Review by Russell Phillips

PSC T-55 box

Plastic Soldier Company 1:72 T-55

The box includes parts to make three tanks, each of which can be built as an original T-55, T-55A, or T-55AM. Since there are enough parts to make all three in any version, there will always be spare parts left over for the bits box.

The kits are quick and easy to build. The tracks, for instance, are a single casting on each side, with wheels and track all in one piece.

They lack some details. The coaxial machine gun and sight are missing from the turret, for instance. Still the finished model is unmistakably a T-55. They are sturdy, so should handle being played with on a regular basis.

Given the number of armies that the T-55 have seen service with, this is a very useful kit for any post-war 20mm gamer. I believe S&S Models have plans for conversions, which will make these kits even more useful.

Review by Russell Phillips

Memoir '44 map

Memoir ’44 Online

Memoir ’44 Online is available as a free download from Days of Wonder. Playing a game requires payment of in-game currency (called gold ingots). A few scenarios are free, but most cost between two and four ingots. You get fifty ingots when you first register, which is plenty to try the game. At the time of writing, ingots cost €8 for 200, €30 for 1,000 or €60 for 4,000. The €30 and €60 packs also include access to the scenario editor, which allows you to design and publish your own scenarios.

In play, the computer version is very similar to the board game, so if you like the board game, it’s worth a try.

Memoir '44 Online

You can play against a human opponent over the internet, or against one of two computer opponents. I’ve found that I enjoy playing against the computer. It’s good enough to give me a challenge without being unbeatable. The graphics look a lot like the pieces in the board game. There is in-game music and effects, both of which can be turned off if you prefer.

There are lots of scenarios to choose from, with options to filter by year, front, etc. The listing gives the percentage of times each side wins, to give an idea of how balanced the scenario is. You can choose to play as the Allies or the Axis. The “Service Record” section shows the scenarios that you have played and the result.

Personally, I’m fond of the board game as a quick, simple wargame. I find the computer version to be a good alternative, even quicker to play since there is no setting up or putting away.

Review by Russell Phillips

Book cover: England's Last War Against France

England’s Last War Against France by Colin Smith

England’s Last War Against France charts the story of the undeclared war between Britain and Vichy France, between 1940 and 1942.

The book is divided into four parts, each of several chapters.

Part one starts before the Second World War, covering the background and Anglo-French relations during the First World War and inter-war years.

Smith describes how relations between the two countries soured as the Germans advanced into France. It covers the diplomatic efforts to keep France in the war, and how and why France felt they had been abandoned by their ally.

This part also covers the fate of the French fleet, including the infamous action at Mers-el-Kébir.

Part two covers the campaigns in Africa and the Middle East. This includes actions to take over French Imperial colonies in Africa, Syria, and Iraq.

Part three describes the campaign to conquer the island of Madagascar, and part four covers Operation Torch.

Overall, it’s an interesting book, written in an easy to read style.

Review by Russell Phillips.

Britannia Miniatures KH-ITA02 Three Italian paratroopers

All wear paratrooper bone sack and Italian paratrooper helmet. Advance at a crouch with Beretta SMG, his chest and back has several SMG magazine pouches plus there is a water-bottle and poncho on his belt. Standing firing Beretta SMG, standing upright firing from the shoulder, as above has chest and back are laden with magazine pouches, he also has cartridge pouches on his belt, but no other kit visible. The last figure is the classic grenade thrower, left arm raised about to hurl a stick-grenade with his right, he has a rifle slung across his back; his belt carries a water-bottle, cartridge pouches and a bayonet. Nice interesting figures could be used as Marines with careful pruning – some quite bad flash however.

Review by Richard B.

Britannia Miniatures KH-ITAP01 Italian Paratrooper command

Two figures both wearing paratrooper bone sacks. The officer wears a soft peaked fatigue cap, he holds binoculars in his right and a map in his left, he has a map case and pistol holster on his belt. The kneeling radio OP is bear-headed, he holds his earphones in place with his left hand. His only visible kit is a water-bottle on his belt. Nice interesting figures with good details, lots of flash however.

Review by Richard B.

Grubby Tanks KH-ITA20 20mm Breda cannon and crew

The gun is actually smaller and nicer than the Britannia one and I wish I`d known this a few months back when I bought the Britannia gun for a modelling project! 6-piece gun: Carriage, 2-wheels, gun, sighting gear, seat/trail; a nice level of detail. The crew all wear Italian Army uniform, the gunners are both in helmet, the seated one has no kit visible his kneeling loader has a haversack and water-bottle. The NCO is in field cap, kneeling with binoculars in his right hand, no kit visible. Nice poses, great gun, lots of flash on the figures.

Review by Richard B.