Friday, December 31, 2010

Civil War Moves Into the New Year -
An Interview with Minister Rudolf Rudnost

December 31, 2010
It is quite clear that the unrest in Alcovia is approaching total civil war, but will the new year see the end of the monarchy?

The following interview between ENN Reporter Valya Luvonya and Alcovian Minister of the Interior, Rudolf Rudnost delves into the current conflict, it's origins and the future of the country.

ENN: Minister Rudnost, thank you for agreeing to speak with me today.

Minister Rudnost: You are quite welcome, my dear. Thank you for having me.

ENN: Now, minister, surely you must know that you have been invited here to speak about the Civil War in your country.

Minister Rudnost: Please, please Miss Luvonya, do not call it that. There is no was in Alcovia, simply a disagreement between political factions, one of which happens to be led by a military commander.

ENN: A diplomatic and, dare I say euphemistic, response. So do you see this disagreement leading to the end of the monarchy in Alcovia?

Minister Rudnost: The Alcovian people have long adored their kings and princes and it seems unlikely that such a beloved institution will be easily or readily abandoned. Centuries of devotion to a throne that has
supported its people and looked out for the welfare of its subjects will not dissolve in only a few decades of trouble.

ENN: Hmmm, a diplomatic answer again. And you do not think that the people have seen a change in the monarchy's ability to maintain the nation? With the dissolution of the national threat posed by Alcovia's traditional enemy, Iqenistan, isn't it possible that the thoughts of your nation's people are better able to focus on internal conflicts and issues?

Minister Rudnost: Let us be honest, Miss Luvonya, The end of the Iqeni threat is an opportunity for Alcovia to begin looking inward at its own problems. There is will undoubtedly be a period of adjustment as resources and infrastructure are retooled and re purposed for less...mmm..military needs.

ENN: But what of the increased immigrant population following the flu epidemic and the resulting financial crash of the Iqeni economy? Isn't Alcovia now under it's greatest economic burden in almost a century? This on top of the ongoing financial drain that has resulted from the occupation of Theogonia for the better part of a century, has left Alcovia itself on the edge of economic collapse for over a decade now.

Minister Rudnost: My dear, Alcovia is a resilient nation with a strong people full of pride in who they are and their long history of self-determination guided by the loving hand of their king. The majority of the people still see King Ullo as a guiding force with a strong moral compass and a paternal desire to see them flourish and succeed. The minority, as vocal as they may be, that opposes him, is not to be considered a true representation of the people of my nation.

ENN: If I may be blunt, minister, your answers do seem a bit naive and rhetorical? Aren't you turning a blind eye to your people's plight in favor of idyllic fantasies about an aging monarchy's ability to govern in a very modern world?

Minister Rudnost: You could think of them as such, if you wished, but ideology and dreams are what hope is made of. I have faith that current unrest in Alcovia will be over soon and that, once this anger and emotion is behind them, the Alcovian people will be able to see the error of their actions and get back to building Alcovia into a 21st century nation.

ENN: Well then, perhaps we should get onto some more specific questions. What is the government's official stance on the "unrest" in Alcovia?

Minister Rudnost: The official stance from the ministry of defense has been and continues to be one of containment and suppression. It is not the desire of the king and his generals to allow the situation to become one of open maneuver and rolling battlefields. This would needlessly endanger innocent civilians and private property.

ENN: But haven't recent engagements between rebel and national forces proved contrary to this policy?

Minister Rudnost: No, I do not think so. There have been several instances where fighting has spilled over into population centers, but this has been due to the tactics of the rebels. They have often positioned themselves around towns and villages, claiming they are sympathetic to their cause and wanting protection or offering support.

ENN: And national forces are not punishing these communities?

Minister Rudnost: Not at all. That is a very villainous characterization of both our troops and government.

ENN: I meant no disrespect, but isn't there always the danger of soldiers in the field taking out their frustrations or acting on their own political views? We have seen it before in other conflicts.

Minister Rudnost: It is pointless to dwell on the possibilities of such a conflict. While it is true that any military has soldiers who are less adept at maintaining their professionalism than others, the entirety of the military and the government should not be condemned by these individuals. Such individuals will of course be dealt with by the proper authorities and punished for any crimes they commit.

ENN: Will the national army be mobilized into a full offensive if the APA were to establish a control zone within the nation?

Minister Rudnost: I am not qualified to comment on the possible tactics that might be used by the NAA. I can however say that the government is committed to the maintaining the whole of the nation. If the rebels push this conflict to an open military conflict, I have no doubt that the necessary measures will be taken to address such a development.

ENN: Won't this mean the loss of civilian lives and property?

Minister Rudnost: Undoubtedly, but this would not be our choice. If blame should need to be placed, it would lay on the shoulder of the rebels and not national forces.

The remainder of the interview went on to discuss the economic status of the nation. Though he readily answered any and all questions, Minister Rudnost maintained a very careful, diplomatic stance and all times.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

94th Anniversary of the Bread Riots

On December 29, 1916, Alcovian common folk in the cities and townships rose up in angry protest against the discovered practice of mixing flower with sawdust and other fillers such as ground chaff and even chalk. This recent practice had been the handiwork of bakers who themselves had been victimized by corrupt government grain suppliers who demanded steep kickbacks for the grain they provided.

After three months of on and off again protests and riots, government officials were forced to take action and rooted out at least a dozen corrupt officers from the Department of Agricultural Management. The DAM officers were later found to have amassed a considerable sum of money which, due to the illicit manner in which it was collected, had been shielded from taxation. This elevated their crimes to that of a crime against the state and they were summarily tried and hanged for their "treason".

Newspaper illustration of an attack on a small bakery

In the following months the government dispatched bread trucks throughout the country delivery complimentary loaves of bread to townships and within the major cities. Civil order was restored but only after hundreds were killed in the unrest. The Bread Riots, as these events became known, marked a major change in government policies concerning the control of national resources. It should also be noted that rural Alcovia was relatively untouched by these events as local access to quality grain and other agricultural goods left them unaffected by the corruption of the DAM officers.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What Miniatures to Use?

One of the things that made me decide to do this project in 20mm instead of my usual scale of 15mm was the availability of miniatures for the setting. 15mm has a good selection of miniatures up to the 80s but that is where the selection begins to thin out. Now, if I wanted to wait a few years, I'm sure 15mm would catch up to 20mm, but I don't want to wait.

It is clear that for this project, Liberation Miniatures through Rolf Hedges is the way to go. This line is full of Russian, Balkan and generic insurgents. This gives me a well-stocked pallet for the three main forces involved in the Alcovian Civil War. I have yet to get my hands on many of the codes but the figures I have seen all look nice and gives me a good idea of what to expect.

It should be obvious that the RUS codes are the starting point. Most of Alcovia's military forces on both sides of the conflict will be armed much like late 20th century Russians. For most of the troops, I'll likely go with a combination of "H" codes (M40 helmets). I can mix in a smattering of other code variants like the "B" (forage cap), "D" (fur cap), and "J' (leather jump cap) codes for variety. There are also some "V" (netted helmets) codes in the specialist figs that would be cool. I'll avoid berets and bush hats for regular army forces. The standard selection of Russian hardware will prevale here - AKs, RPKs, RPGs, etc.

For National Alcovian Army (NAA) elite Lifeguard units, I'll be going with the ultra-modern Russian figures. Because I like variety and that campaign look, I'll likely mix and match various headgear in the same unit. I will likely avoid the "S" codes as they are the newest Russian headgear and likely too modern, even for Alcovia's favored units.

Alcovian People's Army (APA) forces will likely use the same codes as the lesser NAA forces but with more variety mixed in to show that they will have been fighting with less support and tighter supply lines. The SER, CRO and EER codes could be mixed in for that added volunteer look. For these units, I can mix in a few odd weapons on the alternate codes to show that BYOG (bring your own gun) volunteer look.

For the Alcovian Liberation Front (ALF) is made up almost entirely of militias and militant activist cells as well as some hired guns. The Urban Terror Range (URB) is perfect being mostly fighters in civilian gear with a variety of equipment. These along with figures from the Multipurpose (MUL) range, armed with light kit, webbing and Russian style weapons, and perhaps even a smattering of figures from the PLO, Insurgent (INS/STS), Arab Militia (ARA) lines for added variety and to show the mutli-ethnicity of some of militias fighting (Iquenistan, etc).

Liberation has such a wide variety of figures that I am sure that I could even extend some of the variety by adding in figures from other AK-armed ranges like the African or even non-AK armed figures representing mercenaries and militias armed with black market weapons.

I do have some helmeted Russians that are wearing no tactical gear, carrying a bread bag sort of satchel that I am trying to figure out a use for. I had been considering using them as police, but even the poorest police in the world these days have tactical gear. I wonder if I could model web gear onto them?

Anyhow, this should give you an idea of where I'm going with the figures here.

Take care,


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Fighting in Tugoi

December 18, 2010

Open fighting in Tugoi.

After several days of tense posturing, NAA forces opened fire on APA forces deployed in the area surrounding a northern Alcovian town of Tugoi. After an initial barrage of heavy ordinance fired from mobile artillery and helicopters, the NAA advanced on the entrenched APA motor infantry forces who had spent the last month building up defensive positions on the perimeter of the township.

The APA 51st Motorized Infantry Company, equipped only with light armored personnel carriers and limited artillery assets was quickly overrun by the NAA's 151st Motor Guards who pressed their advantage and brought the rebel forces to a surrender. This was accomplished after several hours of intense and heated combat, leaving much of the town devastated and hundreds dead or inured.

One civilian caught in the fighting, a shopkeeper, said that the royalist forces fought with incredible care for the town, but when the rebels were outmaneuvered or retreated that little regard was shown for the civilian property and safety by the APA forces. This seems to conflict with the rebel claims to be a force for and by the people for the freedom of Alcovia and also contrary to recently highly publicized stories of rebel generosity and civil service.

The commander of the 151st Motor Guards made himself available to reporters in the aftermath and had this to say,

Today's victory has been bittersweet. These rebels who defy their king in the name of change and defense of the people are nothing more than traitors, hiding behind those same people they swear to be protecting. If nothing more, today's fighting has shown the true character of the enemy.
Words said with great conviction...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Escalation Continues

December 1, 2010
Isolated attacks continue since the sporadic onset of hostilities between rebel and national forces. Despite official public protests from leaders on both sides, military units continue to exchange fire throughout the nation in an ever escalating series of raids and counterstrikes. Rebel forces claim provocation by national forces who in turn claim retaliation and self-defense as the reason for their hostilities.

APA forces, having moved out of their bases to establish security perimeters, continue to keep up a good public appearance - helping local citizens, providing unofficial police services, etc.. These zones have become heavily patrolled by forces of the NAA, a situation which has resulted in increased tension, a likely cause for the increasing outbreaks between factions.

The most recent attack occurred in the town of Kuzblat ion the southern region of Kuzbania where rocket artillery from rebel forces was used to attack NAA troops that had moved in to sweep the town for militia cashes an to check on the general well-being of the citizens following the recent pullback of APA troops. A total of fifteen rockets struck the town, killing ten civilians and injuring many more. NAA casualties were proportionately fewer with only one dead and two injured. Several NAA vehicles were damaged and one destroyed, but it was not occupied by its crew at the time. Helicopter gunships were dispatched to the area where the artillery strike originated from where they met a small amount of resistance from APA anti-aircraft before dispatching the attacking artillery units.

APA command declined to comment on the strike, but NAA force commander, Colonel Ilya Kraponya did have this to say,

"These continuing acts of unprovoked aggression from APA forces only serve to show the people of Alcovia just how little General Kusatya and his traitors truly care for the nation they so boldly claim to be liberating. Fortunately, the valiant forces of King Ullo and the NAA are ready to answer all challenges to the rightful rule of the monarchy and its beloved stewardship of Alcovia's beloved citizens."
A very politically charges comment, to say the least, but it does indicate the degree of commitment among national forces in these very trying times.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Bit Bogged Down

Sorry for the slow down in posting here. I am trying to get things off the ground for Crisis in Alcovia, but real life is interfering both on a time and budgetary level. I do have my first batch of Liberation minis that I am hoping to get based and primed now that I have resupplied my primer

Any suggestions on good bases for 20mm minis?

I hope you have been enjoying the various news snippets. They are intended to establish a sense of background and character to the games I will eventually be playing.



Thursday, November 11, 2010

Increased Security Off The Coast of Theogonia

After Alcovian authorities received a tip that weapons were possibly being smuggled into Alcovia through ports in its province of Theogonia there has been an increase in coastal security.

Since it's annexation by Alcovia in 1940, Theogonia has been a hotbed of unrest. The Alcovian monarchy has maintained a military presence in the country, now considered province of Alcovia, since its invasion in 1935. Still, 75 years later, a strong nationalist faction among the Theogonian people openly opposes Alcovian rule, despite the improvements in industry, infrastructure and quality of life that came with annexation.

It is these nationalist factions that have been blamed for this new security risk and both military and civil authorities have been mobilized in an attempt to actively track down and eliminate any militant factions operating inside Theogonia and Alcovia alike. At this time, all shipments into and out of Theogonia are being put under the most intense of scrutiny with both random and systematic boarding of ocean going vessels, air and rail transport occurring daily and around the clock.

Numerous seizures of private property have been made as the government declares total forfeiture of ownership of any items connected with illegal or illicit activities. One major seizure revealed nearly ten tons of weapons and ammunition all bound for Alcovia through several shipments being directed by the Theogonian militant extremist group known as the Thunderbolt Brigade, a group which had been connected to the bombing of a refinery in the Denothevian district in the Theogonian Highlands in the summer of 2006.

Friday, November 5, 2010

First Minis Arrive!

Hello All,

I just received my very first Liberation minis. These also happen to be my very first 20mm metal figures.

These were purchased through one of the special offers that RH Models runs and included figures from a couple of ranges, all falling into the Eastern European troops category.

Both lots were excellent and arrived nicely packed (in recycled packaging I might add). The figures were were well cast with only a couple of bent barrels which I simply marked off to shipping stress. The metal on the figs is good quality though and the barrels bent back into place and retained their integrity.

I can't really say too much on pose variety as these were mixed lots. The lots I received had a lot of moving and standing poses but not very many shooting poses.

Overall, a very satisfactory first foray into the realm of 20mm. I will be ordering more, definitely.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Troops Move Out of Rebel Bases

November 3, 2010
This morning, citizens across Alcovia woke to the rumbling of military vehicles as motorized and armored units loyal to the rebel General Kusatya moved from their bases and into positions throughout the surrounding areas.

This unprovoked troop movement came without any announcement of intent from the general, leaving government officials and loyal military commanders to question the purpose of these maneuvers. Though these units moved swiftly, there seemed to be no sense of emergency as they rolled through residential and rural areas. In several instances, columns of vehicles were noted as stopping to allow local civilians to cross the streets, to speak with concerned locals and, in one case, assist a driver who's vehicle had broken down on the side of the road.

Despite the relatively peaceful deployment, these rebel units took up final positions strategically located around their bases, indicating that they expect some sort of action to be taken against them. Though no official declaration of action has been made by government forces, there is no doubt that rebel forces are preparing for what they consider an inevitable attack.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Rioting Ends Well in Fredavia

Novermber 2, 2010

Yesterday, in the eastern town of Fredavia, citizens marched in a public display of outrage against the government's lack of action in response to the army's rebellion. Angry protesters shouted insults and threw food and water balloons filled with fermented soup and milk at police and internal security forces gathered for riot control. Despite the mess and the constant verbal scathing and abuse security forces remained calm and held their ground against the angry mob. No injuries were reported as a result of today's demonstrations.

Fredavian resident, Emila Bogrova, had this to say about what she saw today,

"The entire scene was very surprising, especially after hearing what has happened in other cities throughout the country. I was happy to see that the police kept their self control and didn't respond to the insults and taunting of the crowd. These people are just scared and confused and they want to be heard."

Shops and other businesses in downtown Fredavia reported limited damage and only one instance of intentional vandalism. There have been no reported thefts and other crimes as a direct result of the demonstrations and even the mayor of Fredavia calling today a, "successful display of the freedoms imparted upon the Alcovian people by their beneficent monarchy."

Analysts following the developments in Alcovia have commented that this demonstration illustrates the division in the nation. One opinion even went so far as to say that such fervor on both sides of the issue will likely mean that, should war break out, their is all likelihood of seeing civilian militias fighting for both national and rebel agendas.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Rethinking Scale

I have been thinking that I may have to rethink the use of 20mm as the primary scale for the Alcovia project. Though there are a few models available in 20mm/1:72 that are not found in 15mm, these are few and 15mm supports the scale well. The main thing that 15mm does seem to lack is suitably modern infantry models.

Even those models that there are are relatively few and far between. QRF and Peter Pig both do 15mm modern Russians, but these are all good up to the 80s/90s and both of very generic and aging castings. The 20mm miniatures I have seen go all the way up to current Russians and have much more character in them.

A plan comes to mind to use 15mm for larger scale battles in the open regions of Alcovia, played out on typical 4'x6' or 4'x8' tables at the company level and play the 20mm stuff at the platoon level on 2' x 2' or 4' x 4' board that focus in on a block or two of close-in fighting.

As it stands I already have three T-55s and 3 BTR-152s in 15mm leftover from an aborted project or two.

When it comes down to it, I still want to work with some 20mm miniatures as I never have worked with them before and it does bring back a certain nostalgia from my childhood when I bought box after box of 1:72 models and figures.

Militias Confirmed in Alcovia

October 30, 2010

Authorities in Alcovia have confirmed the existence of armed militias forming within the civilian population of their country.

Following information provided by concerned citizens, confidential informants and intelligence gathered by internal security forces, authorities raided several locations and discovered caches of weapons, materials and facilities consistent with the training, equipping and deploying armed militia troops. It was determined that enough material had been collected in these raids to equip at least fifty individuals for up to two months, perhaps longer if the militias were operating in small groups.

Officials have been discouraged by the fact that, in all these raids, only less than two dozen individuals have been arrested in direct connection to the caches with another two dozen having been held under suspicion of involvement with these militia groups. Authorities are finding local citizens unwilling to cooperate and, in some cases, have even found them  to be outright defiant in the face of security forces.

The discovery is deservedly unsettling to authorities who had hoped that conflict in Alcovia would remain between regular military forces and out of the civilian population. Security throughout the nation is being increased with checkpoints set up between districts in most major cities as well as routine checkpoints along major roads and highways. In the capital, Chubakrev, a curfew has been enacted in some areas limiting movement through these areas to necessary traffic only.

Prince Ilya offered his assurances to the people of Alcovia that order will be restored and that all diplomatic routes are being explored before any commitment to a military solution are considered. Though this comforting statement was welcomed by many citizens, there are still many who question the monarchy's ability to keep the country from exploding into violence, a sentiment compounded by the absence of King Ullo who has yet to make himself seen or heard since the initial outbreak of rebellion.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Truck Bomb May Have Detonated Prematurely

October 28, 2010
New evidence may indicate that a truck bomb that devastated a low income residential neighborhood in Alcovia, may have been intended for another target.

Two men arrest for public drunkenness in the Alcovian capital of Chubakrev were found to have traces of the same explosive found at the scene of Tuesday's tragic explosion. While Alcovian police and security forces have not made an official statement on the new findings, one lead investigator did make a comment indicating that this was likely a, "terrorist attack gone horribly wrong."

This development does raise serious concerns about the true target for the bomb and how such a large quantity of explosives could enter the nation's capital undetected. Officials within the government are calling for a review of security protocols in place throughout Alcovia with a focus on trying to determine the origins of these explosives and what procedures failed that allowed them to slip by numerous emergency checkpoints.

One expert on terrorist and insurgent tactics suggested that such an undertaking would most likely have to involve cooperation of local authorities in one form or another. When asked to elaborate on specifically what sort of involvement, it was said that it would most likely have taken the form of a pay-off or direct involvement. If this is true, then government there may be rebel sympathies within the still loyal ranks of government forces within Alcovia.

Arrests Made at Student Rallies

Today in Alcovia's second city of Dengarad concerned students gathered to rally against the perceived apathy of the government in dealing with the very real threat of open rebellion.

The protests began at around 06:00, continuing throughout the day. Several rallies were started simultaneously at campuses throughout the country with hundreds of students gathering carrying signs and banners bearing anti-government and anti-monarchy statements.

Little opposition was given to these rallies initially, but as the day went on and the students began to grow more and more outspoken, concerns were raised at the possibility of violent outburst. Local police were assembled at several of them ore outspoken and agitated gatherings which only seemed to fuel the growing crowds. In several cases rocks and drink containers were thrown from the crowd at the assembled police.

Reports from cities where arrests were made indicate that these arrests were only made after many heavy objects - concrete, metal signs, bricks - were flung at police. In one case small explosives, likely fireworks, were fired and thrown into the assembled police who then charged the crowd to apprehend the offenders. No police have been seriously injured and injuries to the students are being reported as minimal, though one student was sent away with emergency services after suffering a head injury when he felt to the street.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rules of Warfare

I have to admit that it has been FOREVER since I have been able to push lead. My gaming group mainly does the board game thing these days and my miniatures interests generally outreach most of their interest levels. I do have to be fair and say that they do humor me and occasionally jump in full on some of my minis pursuits. This leaves me a bit under-prepared rules wise for this sort of campaign.
I have collected a few systems over the years, but haven't had much of a chance to play them and so can't claim much in the way of experience or familiarity with any particular system. I am considering Ambush Alley, Force on Force, and even Charlie Don't Surf or Stargrunt. I am a bit unsure what sorts of rules will fit best, or if even a single rules system is the way to go. I am more inclined to keep several rules systems going as different systems can be adopted to achieve different levels of play.

I've already got Stargrunt and the Ambush Alley games, so maybe those are systems to start with. I also have a few free rules sets laying about as well as a couple of quick and dirty beer and pretzel rules sheets I've thrown together myself now and again.

I'm open to suggestions, if anyone has them.


Former American President Warns Against Involvement in Alcovia

October 27, 2010
Former United States President Bill Clinton addressed the possibility of foreign involvement in the political struggle in Alcovia.

Before a gathering of students and other guests at a conference on contemporary world affairs, Former President Clinton indicated his opposition to the use of American troops in Alcovia, for any other purpose than humanitarian aid and relief and then only if no other option existed. He also commented that he believed that at this time it would be premature to discuss contingencies in what really had not escalated beyond political posturing and social outcry.

He followed up his initial comments by stating that he felt that any sort of military involvement in Alcovia by U.S. or any other foreign power would be ill-advised as it could serve to embolden government forces or galvanize rebel forces.

When asked what sort of aid, if any, should be provided, the former president made his feelings quite clear that he believed that any aid should be confined to humanitarian relief organizations, private charities and independent contractors with an established record of providing effective, non-threatening assistance to war-torn nations.

He later declined any sort of comment on his own successes and failures in relief efforts conducted during his own time in office.

General Kusatya Speaks

October 27, 2010
Early this morning, the rebel Alcovian commander, General Yuri Kusatya released a brief but decisive statement to the press. Though he did not make himself available for interview, the general was careful to include any and all mainstream media outlets inside Alcovia and its neighbor states. Here are the general's words as received by direct communication...

File Photo
"People of Alcovia, the time has come for me to speak. Many things have been said about me and the loyal patriotic soldiers who have followed my cause and I feel I must address these claims and make clear my motives

First, let me be clear, that I am not a traitor. My decision to separate myself from the government was not made out of any malice for my homeland or its people, but out of a sense of duty - the same duty that has kept me at the front of the NAA for so many long years. I have shed blood in defense of my nation, both that of my enemies and my own and now I feel called to do so for the future of Alcovia, if need be.

The APA, is an army of liberation. Liberation from archaic, self-absorbed royalty and an way of life that has long disappeared in most of the world. King Ullo and his family have made many bad choices in the name of this country without any of your having any say. His misguided leadership has led out country to the brink of ruin and left honest, good Alcovians to rot while foreigners invade our country bringing disease, crime, and poverty with them. I will take this country back for its people.

I challenge King Ullo to meet me and discuss the surrender of his crown to the people and to step down from his throne. I call upon him to do the right thing and make Alcovia a nation of democracy, a nation of progress, and a nation for the future. If he will not listen, then I will be left with no choice, but to force him from his palace and put him in the street where he will have no choice but to face the people he seems to have abandoned.

In closing, let me say that the freedom of Alcovia rests not just in the hands of the APA but in hands of her people. Let all able-bodied Alcovians make their voices heard and leave no doubt for the king. Let him know that you will have no more of his indifference.

Let him know that Alcovia belongs to her people."

Bold words from the general, but the words of a man who truly loves his country and who seems to not want war.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Car Bombing in Alcovian Capital

October 26, 2010
Fifteen people were injured and two killed when a moving truck packed with explosives was detonated in the middle of residential neighborhood in Alcovia's capital city of Chubakrev.

Eye witness accounts indicate that the truck had been parked in front of an unoccupied home for several days prior to the explosion. One source indicated that the explosion was triggered when a local child, curious about the seemingly abandoned truck, tried to open the back of the vehicle. The resulting explosion sent flaming debris into neighboring homes, creating a number of secondary explosions and fires as nearby vehicles exploded or open fuel sources such as propane and carousine were touched off.

The neighborhood, home to many immigrant families, many of whom come from neighboring Iqenistan, had never had a history of violence or any sort of overt conflict. Long-time residents of the neighborhood described the area as, "surprisingly peaceful" in past years, despite the unrest of the past few decades.

One man, a local merchant, was quoted as saying,

"This has always been a good place to live. People here are all poor and do what they can to help one another. I cannot understand why somebody would want to do something like this to innocent, good people"

Alcovian authorities had received several calls from concerned residents in the neighborhood prior to the explosions, but sources indicate that these concerns were deemed as low priority. The truck had been put on a list of abandoned vehicles and was pending inspection by local police when an officer could be made available. When questioned about their seeming lack of concern, one officer responded,

"These neighborhoods are full of abandoned or stolen vehicles..."

Given the recent increase in national security and the fact that this occurred in the nation's own capital, the bombing has many people concerned over just how seriously the monarchy is taking the safety of its citizens in light of recent events.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Vehicle Models - Part Two

The Russian BTR covers a wide range of vehicles and quite a few are used in Alcovia. BTR-152, BTR-60/70/80, and BTR-50 are all used in Alcovia in one capacity or another. The models for these vehicles seem to be harder to track down than tanks. In this category it seems that plastic kits rule. There are a couple of gaming models and diecast toys. In each category I'll be addressing the basic vehicle as well as variants that I know of. I have decided to forgo posting pics of models and box art here as they will show up fine with a little Google-fu.

ICM (plastic kit)
This company seems to be the only one doing the BTR-152 as a 1/72 plastic kit but does a couple of BTR-152s including an open-topped, covered and command post versions. These models generally fall into the $10-15 range when I have found them online.

Trumpeter (plastic kit)
Trumpeter does a BTR-80 only. Online shopping searches put this in the $15 range. This is the only 8-wheeled BTR that they do.

ICM (plastic kit)
ICM does two versions of the BTR-60 both an APC and command version. These models, like most of their kits falls into the $10-15 range.

ACE (plastic kit)
ACE models has had a lot of BTR-60s in its inventory but like a lot of their models they can be hard to find. In fact, their website shows all their BTR-60 models are OOP but you can still track them down here and there. These models generally fall into the $15+ range.

Easy Model (diecast)
Easy models does a good BTR-80 in a couple of color schemes but these things fall into the $15-20 range. Why this is, I am not sure.

Liberation Miniatures (20mm gaming)
Sold through RH Models, Liberation offers the BTR-60, 70, and 80 in a variety of models. Unfortunately a good number of them are out of stock (not OOP), though it does seem that RH tends to bring things back in stock as they are able to. It is also worth noting that they also have a BTR-80A remote control 30mm turret by itself which would be perfect for updating Alcovia's older BTR-60/70s. They run about $13 depending on exchange rate. The turret is $4.

ACE (plastic kit)
ACE does two models, standard APC and command. Being ACE models, it is no surprise that they are out of stock, but you can still find them floating around online for $10-15.

Liberation Miniatures (20mm Gaming)
Liberation does have a BTR-50 APC in its inventory though it is currently listed as out of stock. There is no price listed but I imagine it would fall someplace around the $15+ range based on RH's other prices for the Liberation Vehicles.

The pickings on BTRs seem very thin, I must say. With half of the offering out there either OOP or out of stock, I may have to consider some other vehicle options. I will also note that while I was looking around, I did come across some vehicles that had slipped my mind while I was arranging the forces of Alcovia and a few that I'd not heard of before.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

First Shots in Alcovia

October 24, 2010
Eight Alcovian soldiers were killed today when their unnarmed transport helicopter was shot down while on approach to the Puchof army base in the northwest region of Alcovia. The helicopter, which had been dispatched with a negotiating party, was flying low, along the open plain south of the base when it came under fire. Radio traffic received from the helicopter's crew indicates that the attack came suddenly and without warning.

Emergency teams responding to the crash reported that the helicopter had been riddled with heavy weapons fire. No signs of any sort of missile explosions were evident in the wreckage. Investigators later found tire tracks and a few expended weapons cartridges in a nearby location. The expended ammunition is consistent with the type of weapon that is believed to have down the helicopter.

The current communications blackout has made any attempt at communication with base command impossible. General Kusatya refused to comment on this attack other than to say that,
"This attack was not made by my soldiers."
Whether or not this is true remains to be determined but the general's actions in the last few days since his declarations of the military's independence from the Alcovian government have been of a mostly peaceful nature with no intentional violence having been reported before this tragic event.

In related news, people throughout Acovia are polarizing regarding the subject of rebellion, with numerous demonstrations appearing the streets on one side of the issue or the other. The majority of the country does seem to still favor loyalty to the monarchy with a relative minority siding with General Kusatya. Clashes with police forces have been confined to shouting and sign waving with only a dozen arrests having been made nationwide. As yet, no NAA troops have been mobilized to aid in maintaining the peace.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

First Recruits On Their Way

Managed to take advantage of a deal and now have two lots of Liberation minis on their way to me. These were mixed lots sold in loose bags of figures from similar codes -

Russians 70/80's; all in 1 piece uniforms with ak 47 - 33 figures mainly in ushanka some in helmet

23 figs with ak47 all in russian m40 helmet.

These figures will likely work for either side of the conflict as the only units with any distinctly different uniform are the Lifeguards units who have the most modern gear. I will post pics of the raw lead and a bit of a review when they arrive.


Knock Knock...

Who's there?


Alcovia who?

Alcovia back while you hide under the bed.

Seriously folks. The only way Alcovia's monarchy could appear more unprepared is if you literally found them laying in bed with with a box of tissues and one of their father's adult magazines!

King Ullo...

Wait a minute! Wasn't he He-Man's diminutive sidekick and if so, where are his semi-phenomenal magical powers now that his country really needs them?!

Even more important, why do we even care what's going on in some little tinpot fake Russia? Oh that's right, they have oil and I have it on good authority some of the best darned napalm-roasted hot wings this side of Afghanistan!

Vehicle Models - Part One
T-55 Tank

I have posted much on the topic of the background of the conflict, current events within the country and the factions involved, but I have yet to really touch on the gaming aspects of this project and let's face it, that is why we are all here. As I intend to try to do as much of this project in 20mm as I can, I'll keep mosto f the discussion of miniatures centered around that scale, but there is no reason I need limit myself to this scale. I do have Russian vehicles in 15mm as well as militia forces. I imagine that, if I so desired, there are some scenarios that might play best in 28mm, but as I tend to avoid that scale it's unlikely that I would do so.

Where to begin. I suppose manufacturers of models and their respective costs might be a good place to start. This of course is a pretty broad subject and to help narrow it down, I think I will discuss the vehicles that I have lined up in the previous posts.

One of the main things I have had to consider is overall value. For me this comes down to a combination of factors - cost, durability, and ease of deployment to the table (assembly/painting). Under these requirements, cheapest may not always be best and I have tried to keep this in mind. Sometimes it's easier to buy a nicely done diecast vehicles for $15 rather than a plastic kit that requires assembly and painting still and will not hold up as well. It all balances out with the following considerations -

Plastic Models: Cost - AVERAGE, Durability - POOR, Ease of Deployment - POOR
Gaming Model: Cost - AVERAGE, Durability - AVERAGE, Ease of Deployment - AVERAGE
Diecast Toys: Cost - AVERAGE to POOR, Durability - GOOD, Ease of Deployment - GOOD (AVERAGE if a repaint is needed)

Alright, enough generalizations, let's take a look at the various T-55s out there.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Roots of War
The Alcovian Civil War Defined - Part One

Ocotober 21, 2010
Today in The Chatterbox, we will examine the beginnings of the current predicament in the Protectorate of Alcovia. Many of our viewers may find themselves wondering where this little nation with big problems came from and why it is that it seems to have fallen apart in what seems to be such a short time.

Before we discuss the possible civil war looming over that country, we have presented a brief historical overview of the key issues that have contributed to these current events. Presenting this overview is esteemed political science professor Gordon Chumway.

Thank you Professor Chumway.

When The Chatterbox returns we will dive into this topic.

Stay Tuned...

The current conflict in Alcovia has its roots almost a century ago, when in 1924 Alcovia and Elistonia united into a common economic union. Though Elistonia was not a monarchy it still had a standing hereditary aristocracy which had always held a sentimental kinship with Alcovia's ongoing royalist government. The two nations had supported one another before the union in defense against invaders and through trade of resources that were not available to one another. Their kinship was further strengthened by the marriage of Princess Stepfania of Alcovia and Vinter Gustol of Elistonia (son of Elistonia's most prominent industrialist). This was as close to a royal wedding as could be had between the two nations.
Though both nations enjoyed popular support for the unionization of the two countries, a small but vocal minority in Elistonia were not content with what they considered the selling off of their sovereignty and opening of their country to greater involvement in the ongoing conflict between Alcovia and Iqenistan. Several protests and a few cases of violence brought swift and decisive action from the Elistonian government. there was a trial and public execution of several of the more violent protesters. These executions did not sit well with the utra-nationalists in Elistonia.
The 1935 Acovian invasion of Theogonia bogged Acovia down in nearly five years of heated fighting in an imperialistic land grab. Theogonia proved more difficult for Alcovia to conquer with imposing mountain terrain and a strongly independent and proud population. The cost to Alcovia in both lives and resources was never quite seen as balancing the gain of this operation, even though Alcovia did gain access to both crucial sea coast territory as well as natural resources in the form of precious metals, stones and exportable agriculture (wine, olive oil, medicinal plants). Though official conflict ceased in 1940 with both Theogonia and Alcovia fighting to resist fascist aggression, post-war continuation of Alcovia's occupation of Theogonia maintained the tension.
In more recent years the strain of ongoing imperialism in Theogonia, worldwide economic conditions and decades of military spending in an effort to maintain the uneasy peace between Alcovia and Iqenistan have put a strain on the nation and its holdings. Nationalist uprisings in Elistonia have kept Elistonia's economic efforts focused internally, reducing the amount of support it has been able to lend in the past. Theogonian nationalists have kept the province in a constant state of elevated security and Alcovia has had to spend much to maintain security as well as repairing damages caused to infrastructure by nationalist attacks.
Though the outbreak of a lethal flu in Iqenistan in 1987 reduced the threat imposed by Alcovia's enemy, the flood of illegal immigrants across the river seeking assistance has created a stress on a social level. Iqenis trying to live in Alcovia have put a drain on already taxed Alcovian resources and created an air of nationalism among many of Alcovia's people who feel the government never took enough action to repel what they feel was a civil, not military, invasion of their country. Ethnic Iqenis and Alcovians have clashed several times in violent demonstrations and on several occasions civil and even military authorities have had to be called on numerous times.
All of this has left Alcovia raw and primed for a massive explosion of the sort which has been touched off by General Kusatya's rebellion and perhaps a full-on civil uprising.

Helicopters in Alcovia

Air power has always been a difficult prospect for Alcovia. With land that turns to mud in the winter and spring, swamps, hills and mountains making up a good portion of its native terrain, airfields have, in the past, proven difficult to construct and maintain. Modern construction techniques have alleviated many of these problems but these conditions have very much made Alcovia a helicopter nation.

Since their advent, helicopters have been embraced both by Alcovia royalty, which had for so long scoffed at air power, and the military. Several models have been purchased over the years and the country has maintained it helicopter fleet to a standard the is perhaps disproportionate to any other part of its military save for the tanks and equipment of the Lifeguard units. At present, there are three amin helicopter types in service with Alcovian forces, each operating with a few variations.

Mi-17/A "Phoenix"
Named for an Alcovian myth of a magical firebird that carried the royal family to safety when the Kuzak horse nomads invaded the country, the Mi-17/A is and Alcovian variant, produced under license, using domestically procured or manufactured electronics suites.

At present 32 Mil-17/A helicopters are in service within Alcovia. They are used in both transport and support roles the Mi-17/A and are the work horse throughout the Alcovian military transporting supplies, troops, and even light vehicles as well as providing air support with rockets, gun pods, and guided missiles.

The Alcovian military boasts 24 Mi-24 attack helicopters. Spanning several versions of the design through Mi-24 and Mi-25 variants, these helicopters provide a crucial role in defense and potential attack. They are generally kept on ready status at forward positions separate from main bases, allowing them to be deployed at a moment's notice. Maintenance and supply of these craft are provided within these remote depot, with any vehicle being able to use any depot when needing to repair or reload.

The Ka-29 was purchased for use specifically by the ASA River Marines as well as search and rescue elements. It's compact size and naval design make it ideal for landing river monitors and the riverside helicopter pads of found along the Alcovian bank of the Borka river. In its combat role, the Ka-29 is used by Alcovia to deliver it's elite forces and to support them during these landing. At this time 15 Ka-29s are in operation in Alcovian military forces with another 6 in civilian services.

Other Helicopters
there are numerous other helicopters used throughout Alcovia by private companies. These civilian craft are not equipped with military hardware and systems as standard but any number of these may find their way pressed into service during the civil unrest throughout the country.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

APCs and IFVs in Alcovia

Much more diverse than Alcovia's tanks, APCs and IFVs in service Alcovia's armed forces are a varied lot, sourced from several nations and used throughout the country. The primary role of Alcovian troop carriers is to carry troops and nearly anything with wheels or tracks will be employed for this purpose. Still some vehicles are held in reserve for specific formations as much as possible to maintain readiness as well as cut the cost of maintenance and repairs. Many of the older but simpler designs date back to the 50s or 60s and have been maintained with their original engines and drive trains or retooled with new, domestic equivalents or upgrades.

Alcovia still has 55 of these vehicles in its arsenal. They have been re-engined and given new drive trains, increasing their power and efficiency beyond their original design. These vehicles are used mostly by military police and internal security units much in the same way that modern Humvees and VABs. Alcovian BTR-152s are armed with 12.7mm DHSK machine guns. 12 of the BTR-152s in Alcovia are in service with civil authorities. These are painted in police colors and armed with air cannons and high pressure water guns.

BTR-113 (M113)
One of the rare non-soviet vehicles used by Alcovia, 36 M113 APCs were purchased in 1973 from the United States. These vehicles, designated BTR-113, were part of America's bid to keep Alcovia from slipping entirely under the umbrella of the Soviet Union. Alcovia has since re-armed their M113s with 12.7mm DHSK machine guns. All 36 of Alcovia's M113s are in service with units based along the Borka and are equipped with amphibious floatation kits. these APCs also carry man-portable ATGMs, allowing these frontier regiments to operate as early deterrent to invading armor, often being deployed preemptively across the river.

Alcovia's main APC is the BTR-70. A total of 124 BT-70s were purchased between 1977 and 1986. Some 120 of these vehicles were were purchased. All of them were deployed among regular army motorized infantry forces. These BTR-s have been updated and upgraded through license agreements with Russia and are currently rated at BTR-80 standards. At the time of the civil war, Alcovia had produced a handful of homegrown variants of the BTR-70/80. It should be noted that these upgraded BTR-70s still retain their original firing ports and do not have the forward-facing firing ports found on true BTR-80s.

One of these variants is a weapons carrier variant designed to carry a 105mm gun in a remote turret. This was being developed as a low-cost alternative to tanks and guided missiles. At present there are only four of this variant in the prototype stages all of which were pressed into service with NAA forces.

Alcovia has purchased 36 BMP-1s all of which were deployed to elite Lifeguard motor infantry units. Since their initial purchase in 1978 they have been well maintained and upgraded throughout the decades leading up to the civil war. The current versions of the Alcovian BMP-1 is uparmored and carried a modern 30mm autocannon. Though not up to the standards of the BMP-2 they are as close as they can be without a redesign.

The Apa Sirviciul Alcovia (ASA) or River Marines have been provided with a dozen of the BMD-2 after they insisted on a light vehicle with amphibious capabilities. These vehicles are used only by the ASA and have been used in several operations on and across Alcovia's borders. BMDs are used by ASA troops for scouting and support of small operations.

Another vehicle used almost exclusively by the ASA, the BTR-50, though an aged design, allows the River Marines amphibious capability in mass. With each vehicle carrying up to twenty armed men, these vehicles can move large numbers of assault troops into position to help secure a beachhead or exploit a break in the lines. ASA BTR-50s are often uparmored with additional armor plates, sandbagging, and anti-RPG cages. They are often used as mobile firing positions, having additional machine guns and sometimes even anti-aircraft guns mounted on the back. The ASA maintains 24 BTR-50s with upgraded electronics and newer, more powerful powerplants.