Storm of Steele


Storm of Steele
28mm WW1 Trench Raid Game for Huzzah! 2015
Game Master: Wayne Warner

The genesis of this project was back at Huzzah 2013, and the purchase Ospreys German Army 1914-1918, and a bit of barbed wire. A year later at Huzzah 2014 some of us were talking about the centenary of the Great War and how best to game it.  Most felt that the first year would be best with some ability to maneuver with your mass of Infantry and Calvary. They had a point; not many gamers would happily push their troops 100 yards into the wire and mill about until the artillery and machine guns ground them to dust. I on the other hand had always thought the best way to portray World War I was on the Western front and a basic trench raid. So as prep for Huzzah 2015 I first reread Ernst Jungers Storm of Steele.  I then brought the concept to my Historical game group and with their help we scaled it down to a reasonable size with a plausible scenario. As a Trench raid it was always going to be a night action, from that came the notion to do it all in black and white troops and terrain (actually more of a gray scale but you get the point). Ken Eckhardt volunteered to research and paint some samples and provide the British troops. I was to do the terrain and Germans.

The terrain had to be 3D with the trenches below grade and the full kit of features you could expect to find there. The base is 2” foam board to allow for bunkers, deep shell craters and a trench with fire step. The second layer was 1” foam, this provided just enough lift for the fire step. The foam was cut with a hot wire tool that would take custom wire shapes.  The trench lines had to be deep and feature a traverse and firebay.  I was also able to incorporate a communications trench, forward sap and bunker in a 6 x 3 ft. area at maybe 5 lbs. Once the foam was done, shaped, cut, and glued down, I built a simple 4” pine frame around it to protect the foam and give it that Diorama look I like.

The parapet, parados and shell crater edges were formed using a craft plaster mix. The duck boards are years’ worth of collected wooden bits you know the type anything not fully used on a prior project or interesting items picked up here or there with no real use at the time but you never know when 200 small wooden sticks might be useful. The revetments could have been sand bags (costly and slow), wattle battens (see slow), wood planks (boring), or Huzzah, corrugated steel! This had some real advantages, the biggest being speed.  I was able to cut them out in bulk then hot glue them in place in one go. They are made from sheets of O scale Corrugated Steel by Plastruct. Now for you rivet counters out there yes, corrugated steel was not the most common method, but the research is clear it was used, and well, it is after all my trench.  I did purchase some Pegasus hobby’s unpainted sand bags and wire. The wire was surprisingly easy to use and while a bit thick it does look the part. The ground cover is part plaster, this looked best, sand not to bad, then some old flock ground cover.  This (flock) was not the best idea.  If I were to do it again it would be all plaster as it gives it a good overall mud look. With the variety of ground cover dry it was taken outside for a flat black spray primer base. As most of you know solvent based paints on foam board equals melted foam so cover it up first. The next step was a light gray dry brush overall topped off with some Woodland Scenic still water resin in the low points.

The figures are now being painted and are a mix of Brigade Games and Great War Miniatures.  After some rules testing with TFL's, "Great War, Chain of Command," I'll be ready.

The game will be a classic night raid carried out in the Vimy Ridge area, April 1917 just prior to the big push by the Canadian Expeditionary Force on April 6th. The Canadians had for some time been aggressively raiding into the German lines to gather intel and keep the hun on edge. The Germans not to be outdone would send over specially trained Stormtroopers to do the same. Our game is one of these raids on a supposed overcast night.  The Germans from the 79th Reserve Div. assault through known gaps in the wire and gain a firebay in a section defended by the Royal Canadian Regiment. Now the race is on with the night sky’s clearing the Germans must block the trench until the rest of the platoon can push on to the nearby bunker, get what the intel types want, and the get the hell out. For the RCR its simple; kick Jerry back out and make it hurt.

The scenario will naturally have more to it with 30 + troops a side with 8 players.

Recommended reading:

The Price of Glory, Alistair Horne

Storm of Steel, Ernst Junger

Somme, Lyn MacDonald

The Pity of War, Niall Ferguson

The Guns of August, Barbara W. Tuchman

Eye Deep in Hell, John Ellis

Yanks, John S.D. Eisenhower