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.

More News From The Protectorate of Alcovia

October 21, 2010
It has been one day since the military forces in the Royal Protectorate of Alcovia declared themselves independent of their national government and took up a rebel stance against their country's ruling family and it monarchist government.

Since 5AM, Alcovian time military bases have been preparing themselves for the inevitable assault that they feel will come from government forces. A steady stream of men and women dressed in civilian clothes has been seen exiting several bases, presumably those individuals who did not side with the military forces that declared  their allegiance to General Kusatya and his Alcovian People's Army.

Interviews with several of these forcibly dismissed soldiers indicates that, with very few exceptions, they have been treated respectfully and that their departures from the dissident military facilities, though involuntary was not done under duress. In fact, it seems the only conditions of their release from these bases has been the surrender of any and all military equipment with all such material being collected for use by the APA.

One man, a private from the 5th Engineering Battalion had this to say,

"There was much surprise and disbelief when the base declared itself seperate from the government. Many of us thought it was some sort of drill or something. I...I could not believe that soldiers I had served with would decide rebel against our leaders. I mean, I knew there was a lot of complaining and unhappiness with the pay holds and supply difficulties last year but...but this is unreal."

The soldier, who preferred to remain anonymous went on to explain that he saw very few altercations and that in most cases there was a feeling of sadness and disappointment among parting soldiers who had served alongside one another.

At this time, Alcovian officials have put the entire country in a state of emergency and travel and communications are being monitored. News services have yet to be contained and the Alcovian monarchy has kept itself available for contact, though no official statements from King Ullo have yet to be made.  

Functional, Practical, Fictional

Back when I created Alcovia as a colonial era country for my VSF games, I never worried too much about making their equipment feasible. Later when I brought them forward to a 1930s interbellum nation, this became a bit more important, but at that time they were still a bit tongue in cheek and the general wackiness of that time allowed for much more flexibility. Still, I tried to maintain some sense of continuity and rationale behind their equipment and troops. If Alcovia had a relationship with Russian then that would reflect in its hardware and what equipment that came from elsewhere would not do so out of thin air.

Developing a modern conflict seems to require a bit more of an adherence to reality, even if Alcovia is a fictional country set in a world that is somehow stretched to allow for the insertion of additional countries, rivers, and mountains that were never there before. This is especially true, once again, of the hardware of the nation. After all, it is the hardware that defines a country in times of war as much as ideology or uniform.

When developing the modern arsenal of Alcovia, I initially wanted to gear them up with backwards technologies. This seemed right ta first, but the more I read about other small nations in Europe, including former Soviet states, the more I realized that I had sold my little country short. It seems that in modern days, just about every nation is developing its own homegrown weapons systems and variants of long-time standards. So, why should Alcovia not be the same?

Here is the tricky part though. In developing unique technologies and variations on real world hardware, I was running the risk of drifting into the realm of science fiction. Alcovia could have some of its own goodies, but they should still make sense. No giving Alcovia personal gyrocopters or T-72s with freakin' lasers. Anything I made that was not already in the catalog of the world market had better be believable.

The best way that I could figure out to do this would be to look at things that other countries had done and simply copy them or the themes behind them. Older weapon systems upgraded to or near to the standards of more modern equipment was one way. Another would be to equip vehicles with alternate weaponry than that which it was intended. Borrowing design philosophies from other nations was also a way to add a bit of spice to Alcovia's armaments.

As is demonstrated in my post about Alcovian tanks, Alcovia shows a desire to modernize, though it is having trouble. The ability to bring T-55s into the late 20th century is no great feat when you consider how commonplace laser and IR technologies are. Allowing Alcovian T-72s to have ERA is not far fetched when every nation seems to have figured it out. In some cases I placed limitations on these modernizations, such as the reliability of the T-55s and the fact that Alcovian APFSDS rounds use tungsten instead of Depleted uranium. Alcovia has access to industrial metals but it does not have nuclear power or the money to buy quantities of spent uranium.

As you read through the articles on vehicles and equipment, I hope this will help you understand the reasoning behind some of my choices. However, because this blog is as much a brainstorming place as it is a chronicle of a gaming project, I do welcome feedback and input.

Take care,


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Note on Posts

One of the primary purposes of this blog is to give me a place to gather the ideas I have for the development of this conflict. As such, there may be times when I edit or update a previous post. To make these easy to follow, I will update their posting dates so that they are a current post again. This should allow your readers to keep up with my thought precesses.

To further assist in following the development here, I will also leave editorial notes at the bottom of posts that will be dated and identify the changes that were made. If an update completely invalidates a previous post, I'll simply repost with the new idea or approach to the concept.

Thanks for reading,


Tanks in Alcovia

It seems even the smallest nations in the world can afford high end military equipment. Regardless of who they are and how small they are, a country can gain access to hardware that is maybe one or two steps behind the current state of the art. Such equipment is still rare and expensive for these nations, but politics and useful resources can often provide a tidy discount making such equipment available in useful numbers. Such advanced equipment is usually reserved for elite units and provides a heavy duty backbone to the main body of older hardware. Alcovia is such a nation.

Having been under constant threat of invasion from its neighbors across the Borka river, Alcovia has always needed to maintain a disproportionately high level of military build-up. As such, the military in Alcovia is equipped with several still serviceable tanks. In many cases there may be several versions of a particular tank in the same unit as small procurements of arms may be spanned across several upgrades on the basic design.

Alcovia's main tank is the T-55 as well as several T-54s brought up to T-55 standards. Due to an early license procured from the USSR for production of the tank within Alcovia, the T-55 was able to be produced in high numbers. During the civil war, these tanks serve on both sides of the conflict being found in both NAA and APA regular army forces. T-55s have been phased out of the lifeguards units in favor of newer, better equipment.

of the 250 T-55s in Alcovian service, at least 35% have been given additional applique armor to improve their survivability on modern battlefields and most are capable of firing APFSDS (tungsten not DPU) rounds. All are equipped with laser rangefinders and IR spotlights.

Despite these efforts to keep these tanks modernized, recent economic hardships have resulted in improper maintenance and breakdowns among Alcovia's T-55s are not uncommon.

Alcovia's 52 T-72s mark the most advanced armor in Alcovia. Procured in two lots, once in 1979 and then again in 1987. The earlier procurements of the tank were the inferior export models known as "monkey models" but subsequent upgrades using independently procured electronics, locally made ammunition and armor upgrades have them quite modernized. The later models we actually M84 tanks imported from Yugoslavia. These tanks form the elite Lifeguard units and are kept close to the capital and other important cities in Alcovia. At the time of the civil war, most of the T-72s in Alcovian service had been updated to ERA though resupplies of the reactive armor are in short supply

Future Developments
Alcovia's growing economic issues will likely make any large scale procurement of new armor assets or the advancement of existing armor systems difficult. If the economy of the nation can be stabilized, there are talks of developing an indigenous tank design, derived from the T-72. This tanks, named the "Rubel" after a famous Alcovia hero, will be a joint Alcovian/Elistonian venture utilizing the resources of both nations to develop and produce the vehicle. Sources indicate that the Rubel is very similar in nature to the Russian T-80, inviting suspicions that it may not be a purely Alcovian/Elistonian design.

[Updated 10/20/10 - I felt that the text on the T-55 was a little thin and after reading about some of the armor being done in other smaller former Soviet states, I felt I was selling Alcovia a bit short. also updated the information on the T-72s to bring them a bit more up to date.]

Breaking News

October 20, 2010
This morning members of the armed forces in the nation of Alcovia declared their independence from their government, naming themselves the Alcovian People's Army.

Citing recent economic instability, abuses of government powers, concerns about the use of military force against citizens, and following a months long labor strike which renderred secondary military units nearly immobile due to rationing of petrol, General Yuri Kusatya announced his goal of resting power from one of the last remaining monarchies on the Eurasian continents.

General Kusatya said,
"Too long has Alcovia suffered under the indifferent and ignoble stewardship of a pampered and aloof ruling class."
His statement and declaration of rebellion came as a bit of a surprise to both Alcovian leaders and the world community as he had just recently been awarded one of Alcovia's most prestigious peacetime decorations. World leaders have also commented that Alcovia's monarchy has long had a tradition of patriotic service to its people and that the allegations of General Kusatya and other members of the APA are unfounded and merely the product of idle militarists and unrest created by severe economic and social crisis in recent decades.

At this time, at least three military outposts on the border between Alcovia and Iqenistan have declared their allegiance to the APA and all outside contact with those bases has been discontinued. In addition, the southernmost river navy depot at Palutka has also closed off communications with Alcovian central command, though they have yet to make any public announcement as to their allegiance in the growing crisis. It should be noted that Palutka is the home base of the renowned Alcovia River Marines, the only Alcovian troops to have been deployed with Coalition forces in the war in Iraq.

King Ullo II, ruler of Alcovia was unavailable for comment, but his eldest son, Prince Ilya did have this to say,
"At this time, the Alcovian monarchy is not considering this a declaration of war, but rather a political maneuver and a civil outcry. Alcovia's monarchy has always valued and supported its military and its people, but all Alcovian citizens must adapt to the times and it is inevitable that some sacrifices may have to be made. It is our hope that a peaceful solution can be had to this most concerning development."
At this time it is unclear where these developments in the modest Balkan nation will lead, but leading analysts are favorable in their predictions.

More news as it becomes available...

[Image used without permission. No infringement upon any rights is intended and the image is used here only to generate an air of authenticity to the fictional story being told]

Monday, October 18, 2010

Taking Sides -
Defining the Conflict in Alcovia

Designing a conflict for the purposes of wargaming can be challenging, especially when it is not drawn from an actual historical event. For Alcovia I wanted there to be more than two sides. This may make for a particularly muddy conflict, but it works well for gaming.

Of course the major factions needn't be the only forces played in games set against the backdrop of the Alcovian Civil War. There is also room for smaller factions or private interests as well as intervention from outside nations, which has become an all too familiar theme in modern conflicts.

Listed below are the major players I have envisioned for the conflict including a bit of background and motivation for each of them -

National Alcovian Army (NAA)
Loyal to hereditary monarchy that has ruled in Alcovia for centuries, the forces of the National Alcovian Army will include both regular army units as well as elite units special to the ruling family. These Lifeguard units will have the best equipment with regular army using the standard equipment of the national armed forces. These forces will be fighting for the preservation of the Alcovian way of life, as they see it. Of course, this means a life under the monarchy which, despite being a benevolent monarchy, is a monarchy none the less.

Alcovian People's Army (APA)
The main aggressors in the Alcovian civil war are renegade factions of the NAA who, under the leadership of General Kusatya, have declared themselves an army for the interest of bringing Alcovia under the governance of its people. They will be fighting with equipment standard to the NAA as well as assets drawn from reserve (some out of date) sources.

Alcovian Liberation Front (ALF)
The ALF is an army of militias and rebellious cells of militarized civilians that have taken up arms in support of the APA. Though often found supporting APA actions unofficially, the APA has an official stance of keeping civilians out of the conflict despite their doing nothing to admonish or discourage the actions of the ALF. ALF forces often perform raids on NAA and other nationalist assets. Though not the norm, some ALF cells have resorted to terror tactics.

So, there we have the basic outlay of the conflict. Three factions that form two sides of the conflict. I'll get into more of the background and causes of the civil war and discuss a bit about Alcovia as a country in later posts.

Take care,


Sunday, October 17, 2010

What's Up With The Blog?

Crisis in Alcovia is a blog that comes from a long time love of Russian military hardware that has yet to really be expressed in my gaming hobby. Though I have played many games that have touched on this fandom of Eastern Block gear, I seem to have always avoided, intentional or otherwise, actually playing with it.

This blog will chronicle the outbreak and the drama of civil outbreak in Alcovia in the 21st century. My hope is to play games using a number of scales and systems and on a number of different levels - platoon, company, squad, etc. Much of it will be played in 20mm scale as I have recently been bitten by the bug for this scale and find that it supports this time period better than most other gaming scales. 

What is Alcovia?
Alcovia has its roots in other areas of my hobby gaming where I created a fictional country in which to play games using a decidedly Eastern European feel to them. I played this country in Victorian Science Fiction and Inter-War games and it seemed only fitting that this country, which had been developing its own history and feel, continue on into the late 20th and early 21st century.

Why Alcovia?
I have been asked, by a few folks, why I do not just play real world 20th/21st century conflicts. The answer is simple. I simply do not want to get mixed up in the real-world history of events too close to current. I don't fault those that do, I just don't want to dive into that particular pool.

As an added benefit, playing in an invented nation allows me to create my own conflict and to have fun with the setting in ways that history might not allow. I don't have to worry about stepping on toes and doing something "wrong".

So, we shall see where this takes me.

Thanks for reading,