Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Why does Alcovia use non-Russian Vehicles?

The real answer is model availability. Most miniatures ranges have yet to catch up to even the 90s. So I filled in blanks with hardware from other nations. This lead to some cool narrative (reason two).

The optional vehicles I chose started with the French VBL because there were no Russin Tigr or Otokar Cobras available in 15mm. This then created a narrative where Alcovia was upgrading the electronics on its Russian tanks with French electronics, similar to the Czechs. This then led me to deciding that Alcovia was phasing out its aging Russian helos moving from Hinds and Hips to Eurocopter Tigers purchased from the French.

This ends up giving Alcovia a very unique personality as a monarchy trying to move out from the shadow of its former Soviet/Russian neighbors to become a mare NATO like nation.

Friday, April 1, 2022

What Happened to the Crisis?


When I started writing this blog, so many years ago, I wanted to create a modern conflict in the vein of the other imagi-nations I had seen but with a more serious take. To this end, I tried to tell the story of a nation falling into civil unrest along real issues of inequity, prejudice, as well as social and economic disparity. the goal was never to glorify these things, but to make the story believable. So, why did it never take off over all those years.

If you are familiar with the blog you will have seen early on that I struggled to find the models that I wanted. A lot of this was simply due to my limited hobby budget but I also found myself perpetually vexed by holes in the inventories of the various producers. Much of the latter stemmed from my desire to keep Alcovia rooted in the modern world and not just another imagi-nation built around 1970s Soviet equipment. This was a problem as most miniatures producers still had their ranges firmly entrenched in the early Cold War with nothing past the mid 80s available.

This is partially my own fault for not developing a project using what was available but as I started the project as 1/72 (20mm) it was less an issue than it ended up being when I later shifted to 15mm scale. You see, the model ranges were a bit more up to date in 20mm than they were in 15mm but I was having a hard time finding infantry, which seemed more important at the time and Eureka had released its 15mm for Chechnya. This, combined with the fact that most of my terrain was in 15mm made me jump to 15mm.

Model selection was not the only boogie man that caused the Alcovia project to stagnate. Budget has always been an issue and over the years that budget got smaller and smaller until I was forced, more often than not, to put my hobby dollars toward my main hobbies with little or nothing left over for Alcovia. Then the biggest blow to Alcovia came along.

In 2014 Russia annexed Crimea and kicked off the Russo-Ukrainian War. Suddenly Alcovia was not something that felt, possible and inspired by the past, but became very present and very real. The images I was searching and using to illustrate the various stories of Alcovia had a new lens applied and it made me uncomfortable to use them. Even if the images were from conflicts past, they were still a stark reminder of what was happening at that moment to people in the same part of the world that my fictional nation was supposed to be set it. It wasn't something I could reconcile and so I sort of parked Alcovia in the "someday lot".

In 2016 I started to see a lot of useful vehicles coming out of Battlefront for their Team Yankee game, but still budget plagued my process and in 2020 a miracle occurred as the company released the T-80U, a tank I had wanted to have since the project began (I had four in 1/72). Still though, COVID hit, prices on things went up and household finances dropped hobby budget to nearly nothing. 

That then brings us to the specter of reality that had haunted my thoughts on Alcovia before. The Ukraine is under full invasion now. The devastation this time around is insane and it really leaves me with absolutely no heart in recreating an all too similar conflict in my imaginary country that bears far too close a resemblance to the very real Ukraine. My heart is with the people of that country and I can't bring myself to blog about Alcovia in the way I had in the past.

So, where does this leave Alcovia?

This year, my wife and I are moving to a new home in a new state. We are both leaving behind the place we grew up but we are moving on to a better life for ourselves. We will own a home, live in a place with a cost of living more inline with our income and near friends and family. I will have a large space to dedicate to the hobby and gaming and maybe, just maybe, a bit of a budget to devote to it.

I still have other hobbies and Alcovia will always be a side project but the stars do seem to be aligning with more modern models becoming a thing and 3D printing adding to the availability of models. I have refined Alcovia over the years and taken them from a nation that uses exclusively Russian hardware to a country that is taking advantage of the weapons manufacturers of the European Union. This not only makes filling the holes in the model roster easier, it also make the military of Alcovia look like its own thing. 

I think the future of Alcovia will be to focus on the hobby aspects and to put on hold the world-building that seems to be just a bit too topical at this time. Maybe when I am feeling better about it, I will kick Alcovia back off with a new crisis. There are several neighboring imagi-nations such as Iqenistan, Elistonia and Theogia. Maybe, a war with one of these imaginary countries is in Alcovia's future. After all, I doubt Alcovia was gripped in its civil war for the last 12 years. 

Thank you all for you interest and fandom. It still amazes me when I hear that other people have used my setting for their own games. 

Alcovia Forever, 


Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Holy Crap! Somebody Finally made them

 T-80Us coming out from Battlefront.

After nearly a decade waiting for somebody to make the T-80U somebody has finally done it and that somebody is Battlefront Miniatures. 

When Battlefront announced their Team Yankee range it looked like we were about to get another range of the same 1980s vehicles and infantry, helos and planes we had been getting pretty much since the Cold War was a real thing. QRF, Old glory, Skytrex, Qualtiy Castings, everyone who had been pumping out the same Cold War era stuff just seemed to never budge beyond this point.

I pleased my case with nearly every manufacturer that would listen, and was pretty much given the same answer (which didn't really make sense), that they were sticking to vehicles that had been used in real wars. This argument is a fair one, though it fails to be honest with itself when you consider how many of the vehicles in some of those ranges hardly ever saw service outside frontline Soviet forces and how rarely those forces were engaged. 

One of the main reasons for making models of leading edge military hardware is to allow players to play what-if scenarios like Team Yankee which has been at the forefront of mainstream public awareness of Cold War based what-ifs for a long time. The existence of evolved T-72s and T-80s in existing ranges would seem to acknowledge this basic concept as well which makes the argument of not producing later vehicles because they "weren't used" even stranger. Later model T-80s and other former Soviet hardware were indeed used in the aftermath of the Cold War and were developed during and for it. This includes the T-80U which was used in the Chechen conflicts (and used as a scapegoat for Russia's failure their) which makes them actually better used than some of the earlier T-80 variants.

I am glad Battlefront recognized that there was room for a newer T-80 variant in the market. the bonus is that we get them in nice modern plastic kits.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Is There Still a Crisis in Alcovia?

Since the declaration of a cease fire in 2012, the kingdom of Alcovia has remained in a tenuous state of peace which has been called an "Civil Cold War" by many analysts and politicians alike. There has been no official declaration of peace and the nation is still divided between west and east with a recognized demilitarized zone splitting the nation to 2/1, west to east, ratio. 

Image result for Russian Forward Position modern

Eastern Alcovia is strictly held by the rebel factions and the many militias that have risen up to support them and while the official government recognizes this border for the sake of peace during the cease fire, there have been no official talks of any sort of recognized official partitioning of the nation. More over, the rebels under General Kusatya have expressed absolute conviction for the overthrow of the Alcovian crown, its nobility and the standing government. King Ullo has stated that he will fight rebellion in all its forms should the rebels resume their open hostilities. 

In the northeastern region of Slavikova, open fighting between militias is common and there are concerns that rebel militia factions in the region are being supported by outside factions, possibly Russian. Russia has denied these allegations, countering with supposed evidence that CIA and former KGB agents have been attempting to destabilize the region, though they declined to provide any rationale for such an endeavor. What is true is that the region is a hotbed of activity where very little can be done, by national or rebel military forces alike, to curtail the fighting. 

During the cease fire, UN activity has increased with several refugee camps having been established on both sides of the Borka river where the majority of the refugees are ethnic Iqenis who are being forced out of eastern Alcovia not by the official rebel forces but by hostile militias who are using the region's instability to act on generations of ethnic prejudice and resentment toward those ethnic Iqeni who are native to the region and those who settled in later decades. Offcial Alcovian government response to this "cleansing" has been in opposition of the acts but lack of control over the region has made it impossible to act on these oppositions without threatening the cease fire.

Outrage in neighboring Iqenistan and local Iqeni populations was recently fueled when earlier UN findings that refuted claims of executions and death squads were themselves refuted by the discovery of several mass burials of mostly ethnic Iquenis. To date an estimated 250 bodies have been discovered in such mass graves throughout eastern Alcovia. When asked for a statement, a spokesperson for the Alcovian Ministry of the Interior had the following to say - 

"The Alcovian Peoples' Army has resisted all requests by official government authorities to investigate these killings. These crimes are being perpetrated by Alcovian citizens against its own citizens and are the responsibility of the legitimate authorities, to be investigated by those authorities and to bring to justice the perpetrators of these crimes under Alcovian royal justice. It is our position that, until the APA allows official investigation of these crimes, they will be considered complicit in those crimes."

There are those among the international community that see the region as a smoldering fuse that could flare up at any moment and explode the country into open warfare. Royal forces retain their vigilant stance along the demilitarized border between east and west while rebel forces struggle to maintain their own front, despite shortages of fuel, ammunition and a crumbling infrastructure. 

In the end, it may be time that decides this conflict, but at this time there is still very much a crisis in Alcovia.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

New Battlefront Cold War Tanks on the Horizon

Battlefront previewed newer T-55 AM2 models. This is something I have been hoping to find for the Alcovia project.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Armies Army Makers

A New Idea From Armies Army

Armies Army has been a powerhouse of 15mm vehicle and figure design for some time now. Mostly a manufacturer of 15mm science fiction models, Keith has recently started working with Cold War era machines and troops and has now taken his first steps toward a very cool idea in helping out other up and coming designers. He starts this out with Ben Kerr Barnes' Gaz Tigr in 15mm

The Gaz Tigr is a high mobility 4x4 infantry vehicle with a role comparable to that of the US HMMWV. This vehicle entered service in 2006 with the Russian Army, Ministry of Internal Affairs, and Naval Infantry, and has been exported to a number of countries including China. It has been seen recently with Russian infantry in Syria and again in large numbers in Crimea. The standard vehicle can carry 9 passengers with the option of fighting from roof hatches and hinged ballistic windows.

According to Keith, he's waiting for the the master to get to him but says that it looks good for molding. Hopefully we will have this proper, modern Russian vehicle in our hands soon.

Check out the progress of the kit and all other Armies Army products at...

Monday, November 10, 2014

Finally Getting Somewhere - New Minis

Over the last year or so, Crisis in Alcovia has taken a back burner to other projects. After abandoning the 20mm angle, I have been waiting for certain ranges of miniatures to start to mature, mainly Eureka's modern Russians.

Not only have I acquired some of these finally, I have also received a number of QRF Cold War era Russians that should make for a fine contract between acovian forces loyal to the crown and with newer equipment and rebel forces that are made up from units with older equipment (one of their main gripes).

I figures these, along with some converted Peter Pig militia types should make for the basics of infantry elements for the Alcovian Civil War. I have added some Khurasan Miniatures Somali militia types to these. They are a bit differently scaled but will work as militia elements on their own. They are really nice and will be painted as ethnic Iqenis.

Last, but definitely not the least, are some of Khurasan's new T-90 tanks. While a lot more recent than the hardware, I had planned to use in the Alcovian conflict, these will represent secret weapons of the crown, issued to elite bodyguard regiments.

I have also picked up some VBLs from IrishSerb. These are great little resin kits and while they are French, they do not look out of place next to Russian hardware. Alcovia purchased a bunch from France's export market. I picked these because nobody makes an Otokar Cobra or any of the other newer Eastern "jeeps".

I'll post more pics as I get things painted.