Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Crusade

In reading some of the comments here and on The Miniatures Page (TMP), I am becoming more and more convinced that 10mm is the way to game the Korean War.  Of course the issue then becomes finding suitable figures.  While a lot of what is needed can be covered by the various World War Two manufacturers, there are definitely some holes that need to be filled before the Korean War can recreated in 10mm.

One comment on TMP mentioned Pithead Miniatures as a possibility as they do make one pack of Chinese infantry in winter gear (listed curiously under their North Korea section).  An email to Phil at Pithead resulted in a quick reply in which he did mention he plans on making Chinese support weapons, as well as Americans and British for the Chinese invasion period (meaning cold weather gear).  That is the good news.  The bad is that is that because of the lack of support thus far going much beyond that (such as North Korean troops) might be problematic.  Hence the call for a crusade.

I have read the various posts on TMP about gaming the Korean War, and seemingly there are some constant themes.  One is the impression of needing hordes of Chinese.  I believe that the more one reads on the subject, one is more convinced that while the Chinese did have numerical advantage, the hordes idea stems more from the tactics they used as opposed to having human waves.  The tactics (night infiltration, advancing inside artillery barrages, etc.) gave the Allies the impression of hordes.  I do not believe one needs to paint up thousands or even hundreds of Chinese to pull off some amazing scenarios.  I'll discuss my stance on hordes in a future post.

Another common complaint on TMP is about the terrain.  This complaint is more valid to me than the impression of needed hordes.  The terrain in Korea, especially the areas involved during the Chinese invasion period, is impressive.  Steep mountains and hills with deep valleys mingled in between does not replicate itself well to the tabletop, especially to the temporary setups that most of us use (terrain mats, etc.).  Either a gamer makes terrain boards or terrain features that can be placed on a terrain mat.  In either case, the steepness of the hills and mountains for larger scale actions are not that conducive to the tabletop.  This picture shows the area near Yudam-ni, part of the Chosin Reservoir region.  The flat areas are around 3500 feet, while the surrounding hills are 600-700 feet higher.  That is tough to replicate on the table top.

But what if we focused on some of the hilltop fighting, on a smaller unit scale?  Just to the south of Yudam-ni is Fox Hill, where Fox Company of the 2nd Battalion of the 7th Marine Regiment held the heights along the road from Yudam-ni to Hagaru, and by doing so allowed other units to move to the south through the critical Taktong Pass.  The hilltop (more like a short ridge line) stays near 4900-5000 feet in elevation.  This hilltop, and the small unit actions that took place there, could be easily recreated on table top.  I am sure there are numerous examples of platoon and company sized actions that would not involve earth movers to recreate, nor would they take painting up hordes of Chinese with their bugles and burp guns.

Pithead Miniatures Chinese Infantry
Photo from Pithead website
I hope this might give you some inspiration that Korea does not all have to be about hordes and hills.  If this now possibly appeals to you, and you think that 10mm might be the way to game this conflict, I would ask that you send Phil at Pithead an email about your desire to see more figures for Korea, as well as place an order for the Chinese he does currently offer.  The more email traffic he receives, and more importantly, the more sales he has, the more likely he is to continue developing this range.  While there are current ranges in 15mm one can buy today, the detail I have seen on the Pithead site along with the fact that I will most likely be mounting my figures on multi-figure stands leads me to believe that 10mm is the direction for the land portion of this war.  If you feel the same, I call on you to join the crusade!


  1. I chose to do the early part of the war in 10/12mm, basically Pusan Perimeter. For North Koreans I used Minifigs US airborne infantry and trimmed their helmets to caps. I use Cold War Commander rules. More Chinese figure availability would be nice. Nothing wrong with 15mm or larger, but I prefer 10/12mm for the size of battles I like to do.

    Photos from some games:

    1. Thanks for the info, and the links to your pics!

      Care to tell me more about Cold War Commander? I went to their website today and seemingly from a scale perspective as well as an informational one they cover small actions and Korea. Are their differences for weapons (ranges, effect, etc.)?

    2. Cold War Commander. 1cm = 10m or 20m. 1 stand/vehicle/gun = 1 squad/vehicle/gun (10m scale) or 1 platoon/battery (20m scale). The rulebook has Army lists (1946-90). Each infantry/support/vehicle has move, attack, range, hits, save and cost values. Game mechanics are based off Warmaster.

      I have also used it with success for Vietnam.


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