Building the Parts II

The counters to my games need to be printed and cut out, but there is an order to this process that saves time and grey matter…

1) Print the counters on glossy paper to give them a professional look and feel.

2) Cut out the front side of counters in bulk. DO NOT attempt to glue each counter front to poster board individually.

3) Cut out the back side of the counters and then separate them into individual counters.

4) Glue the bulk front counters to the poster board. Give yourself plenty of room between counter bulks. Take your time and arrange the counter bulks on the poster board BEFORE gluing. A goodly layer of adhesive spray glue should be used on each bulk. Smooth the counter bulk gently with your hands only. When using newspaper or such for spraying onto, change the paper often, sticky newsprint gets onto the counters and ruins them.

5) Cut out the counters using an Xacto knifeXacto KnifeMake sure you start with a fresh blade and change the blade as needed. DO NOT USE A DULL BLADE.

6) Lay out the now cut bulk counters upside down (blank side up) in even rows on fresh newspaper or paper and apply another layer of  adhesive spray and gently one at a time place the back of the counters on. Make sure the back is in the same direction (top to top) as the front. Counters are done.

If you make a mistake or ruin some counters: Reprint ant start again.


Raven Games
Raven Games



Building the Parts

Okay so you have your copy of Panzer Thrust or Steam and Steel and now it’s time to assemble the parts. But it can be a bit daunting I mean what should you use and what techniques; if any; are useful? So let’s talk about putting all the pieces together.

What do you need?

1) Xacto knife is the most indispensable piece of equipment you can own. I recommend getting blades form Ebay. There are plenty of sellers and 100 packs make a goodly number. Make sure to change out your blades often when cutting. This of course goes without saying, that’s why I am going to say it…BE CAREFUL!

Xacto Knife

2) Box Cutter: The best knife for cardboard there is bar none. Best of all their cheap. Ebay is my personal source and I’ll buy 30 or so at a time. Snap off the blade EVERY TIME you start to cut cardboard.  “Can’t do nothing without a sharp knife”–Julia Child…

Box Cuttera

3) Poster board is cheap and easily bought at any dollar store. I buy my again at Ebay. (Sensing a pattern?) I buy 25 sheets at a time which lasts me about six months or so. Hey! I’ve got a lot of ideas okay? Poster board is best used for counters. It’s not really sturdy enough for map boards that need to be butted together.

Poster Board

4) Cardboard! I LOVE Cardboard I want to thank Mr. C. Board for inventing this stuff!!! Cardboard is free if you just keep your eyes open. One of the best places is the grocers they have cardboard coming out of their ears and love giving it away to any shmuck who wants it, and I’m just the schumck their looking for! Cardboard can be used for counters, but its thick and not that attractive as a counter backing. Not to me anyway. I use cardboard for the backing on maps, and to build buildings for miniatures, plus hills, rivers, canals etc etc etc. A variety of other uses for gaming I have found for this wonderful and recyclable stuff!


5) Finally spray adhesive. Now I have tried them all believe me, if it’s sold in the US, I’ve sprayed it. The only one I recommend is 3m Super 77. It is simply the best stuff. When using make sure to cover everything the spray goes every where. Outside has never worked for me, too many particle that get stuck and won’t let go.

3M Super 77

Okay so now you’ve got your equipment now what? Print out the counters and maps using your home printer, a color laser printer is best but not everyone has one of these. Inkjets will work just fine. I use glossy paper for counters and card stock for the maps. Both are easily obtainable, while not necessarily cheap they make the game look great. Have a printer or office supply place do the printing and get the professional look if you’ve got the loot and trust the place.

Laser Printer

Now cut out the counters (more on this in the next article). Spray the adhesive and glue the counters to the poster board. Spray adhesive takes no drying time so go ahead and start cutting. If the counters are double sided, spray the back of the counter and affix the back side to the counter. Trim any white boarder off the map boards as needed. Use an extra amount of glue with the maps and glue them to the cardboard. Cut out and invite your friends over threatening them with defeat at this great new game you just made.–Enjoy


Raven Games
Raven Games


Thank you a thousand times

Panzer Thrust Logo Bar

The response to Panzer Thrust has been overwhelming since we released it on the 1st. Special thanks to our play testers who have provided terrific insights. Many of their ideas have already be incorporated into the next edition of Panzer Thrust, called Red Charge. ‘What is Red Charge all ’bout?’ I hear you ask….well it will be released soon so stick around!


Raven Games
Raven Games

Diane’s a Pill…Or how I relaxed and learned to love the H-bomb

Okay so making your own games, and NOT having a $60,000.00 web press with employees to build boxes, and more to the point counter trays for you is a real stumbling block. So, when in doubt ask someone if they have any ideas to solve a problem or two. Now, normally I wouldn’t ask my wife much about how to solve gaming problems. You must understand she is not ‘into games’ in the board or role-playing sense.  But here is how she solved one of my big problems…counter trays for all those game counters I use for tiny game.


Use the humble pill case! (or pill organizer to some) And best of all it was a buck at a local dollar store! So in conclusion you need to store counters? Use a pill case. Thanx Luv!!!!

PS This is your first glimpse at Steam & Steel Guadalcanal

Raven Games
Raven Games

I’m Defending–Ahhhhhhhh!!

Panzer Thrust Logo Bar

HQ CounterOkay so the bad news is your defending that precious HQ and the Germans are rolling up just licking their lips. The good news is your the Red Army and your ready…how? Read on:

Panzer Thrust is far more historical than first appears, so use historical defensive techniques. FIRST RULE: ALWAYS HAVE A RESERVE! NEXT: You can’t go far wrong; no matter what your doing; when you have 3 or 4 BP’s of Red Army infantry supporting your gritty defense, more if your opponent is an experienced player. Entrench some but not ALL your infantry and make the Germans come into close combat with you using up their more expensive infantry trying to clear the way. Red Army artillery is your next best friend and 4 to 6 points of tubes will make the battlefield a hideous place to be if your a German tank. Soviet SPA’s are only adequate. Red Army heavy artillery is the real killer so make sure to have at least 1 and more like 2 units and set them at phase lines with defending infantry because the Germans are going to come after them.  Russian armor is used as a quick riposte force able to move into holes and plug them while you await reserve infantry.

Iron CrossHey! What about us?

FIRST RULE: ALWAYS HAVE A RESERVE! NEXT: The Germans are more powerful on an individual unit basis but this is 1942-1943 and the Red Army is catching up. Again infantry is the strong foundation of any defense and with a range of 2 they can exact a terrible toll in Soviet infantry. German infantry because of this range is more mobile so, don’t entrench too much.  Your tanks are much better so use them to kill artillery and tanks, their longer range is a real advantage here. Wrecking the Soviet rear goes a long way to victory. Post an SPA or two on hills overlooking the Russian approach route and start banging away at anything that moves and be willing to move your SPA’s when needed.

Finally, Panzer Thrust is about war at the broken end of the bottle: thrown together forces unsupported from the rear in desperate fighting. Imagination and a good understanding of combined arms in defense will win you more battles.-Enjoy!

Raven Games
Raven Games

The Transport Crunch

Transport Example

“I keep running out of !@##%!^&&*! trucks!”-Kevin Ravnsgames play tester for Warsaw Pact 8.4

There are only so many trucks in any army. How’s that for profound wisdom? And yet it’s an obvious fact that gets ignored not just by wargamers but also by armies. The truth is those shiny new trucks sent in by the thousands as the offensive begins, begin a process of attrition almost immediately:

Trucks break down

Trucks run out of gas

Drivers go back for supplies and decide never to go forward again

Commands not entitled to your trucks pinch them

Foot sore Generals requisition them

And on, and on, and on, and on……..

So after a few days your mechanized advanced is walking. Trucks in this context mean anything that carries replacement parts, food, gas and people.  Thus even M2’s or BMP are little more than armed fancy trucks carrying needed supplies to the battlefront. And all these trucks are subject to loss.

In writing Warsaw Pact! 8.4 I wanted to show this attrition as I felt it was important consideration on the part of a tactical command at company, battalion or regimental level, even divisions and corps must recon on the number of trucks they posses. Thus the unique set of rules in place to make YOU feel the transport crunch!

Raven Games
Raven Games

To Ride or Not to Ride?

” The American Army is so roadbound, the soldiers have almost lost the use of their legs”…General Ridgeway 1950

Twenty three BMP-02 trundled down the canal road on their way to yet another Israeli breakthrough attempt.  The Egyptian soldiers had trained with an intensity and determination which lead them to a peak of professionalism and vigor in attack. They had trained under the watchful eyes of Soviet training personnel, executing the battle drill so well even the Soviets had to admit the Egyptians looked like Soviet soldiers.  As they approached the Israeli position the BMP’s broke into a wedge formation and the infantry opened the firing ports ready to pour a deadly fire on the poor leg bound Israeli infantry. It would be a duck shoot. Suddenly the recoilless 75’s of the Israeli’s opened on the BMP’s melting the aluminum armor and condemning the brave men inside to a slow agonizing death as they melted and suffocated in the fighting compartment. The whole battle took five minutes, not a single ‘BUMP’ survived. It was not suppose to happen this way.

With the death of those Egyptian soldiers, died the Soviet experiment in having soldiers stay inside the vehicle. This outcome ended a debate inside and outside army circles as to how the mechanized infantryman would fight the next war. The Soviets had embraced the idea of the “Infantry Fighting Vehicle” i.e., a vehicle used to protect the infantryman, and making him little more than an intelligent turret which protected the the vehicle when it ran into enemy resistance while blowing through the enemy defensive crust. This philosophy was born out of the experience of World War II, the Germans had certainly used mechanized infantry inside SDKFZ-251.  This halftrack and it’s family pointed the way to cheap serviceable mobile infantry.  The Russians somehow forgot however, that those German soldiers got out of their Hanomog’s and fought on foot taking advantage of all the ground could give them.

The US had also forgotten this lesson.  But the US had a rude, bloody, and ultimately helpful dose of reality at the hands of the Chinese Communist Army in the frozen wastes of North Korea. It took one brilliant and practical American General to understand and absorb that lesson.  General Mathew Ridgeway, while on an inspection tour of the US 8th Army in Korea during its race up to the Yalu River in 1950, noted mechanized columns wind their way up endless mountain tracks with truck loads of infantrymen unwilling and in some cases unable to get out and walk.  This left the high ground; indeed almost all the ground; to an enemy willing to walk to war. When Ridgeway became 8th Army commander the first thing he did was institute a training regime including road marching, setup all round defense, and taking the ridge lines away from the enemy with ‘Ridge Runners’ small, light men that could climb quickly and still be able to fight when they got to the top.

This one man saved the US Army and all of NATO the painful and expensive lesson learned by the Soviets. Trucks get you there…feet keep you there.

Raven Games
Raven Games

Artillery for Every Occasion WWIII

Warsaw Support FEB_2018

Research into a game can lead you down many a path you never planned to study at the time nor had any real interest in.  Artillery of World War III was one such subject for me. Being a military historian artillery naturally interested me, but the complex problems of modern artillery use was fascinating.

As both NATO and Warsaw Pact looked at the modern battlefield they saw a world which precluded the use of tubes lined up hub to hub. This was much harder on the Soviets than the West as the annihilating power of massed artillery had been a cornerstone of their success against the Wehrmacht.  The question was how to put enough HE on target and at the same time not loose your artillery to counter battery, air power, and nukes?  The obvious answer was self propelled artillery pieces, an expensive solution, and one fraught with pit falls. SP units are expensive to use: larger crew per gun, fuel, more spare parts, and tracked support units; unless your willing to risk driving your SP’s on open roadways.  The advantages were limited mostly to the fact the gun could ‘Shoot and Scoot’ that is fire a mission then immediately move.

The British may have been the first to see the issue and take steps, but it was a long gestation for them as one insufficient SP after another was rejected. The need was there the money and the technology was not.  France saw the issue only in terms of the two or possibly three corps they had earmarked for operations with NATO in Germany. Thus France used a combination of US M155 and the AMX Mk F3 155.  The Germans decided to use US mobile artillery and support this with the Luftwaffe flying Alpha Jets and Tornadoes in close support roles.  Belgium felt the problem outside their scope as the country was so small that towed artillery could quickly move around and anyway there weren’t that many places to go.  The real leader was the US who not only began to test fast mobile artillery along with missiles and rocket batteries, but also started looking at aerosol propellants which would allow SP weapon platforms that would allow for longer field operations and less ‘tail’ i.e. support units.  The US also produced the Fairchild A-10, the Bell Super Cobra, and Boeing AH-64 Apache.

That left the Soviets. What would the USSR do with all those towed heavy artillery pieces they had built and stored at considerable cost? Their answer was indicative of the Red Army conservatism. Approaching the problem in two ways:  first the Soviet towed artillery would be increased in the hope to offset loses with numbers, and two, build a large SP force which would be used at the Schwerpunkt of every attack.  Units such as the 2S1 Gvozdika were indicative of the SP design philosophy of the Soviet Army.

One can’t help wondering if the artillery issue was not more a sales opportunity and less a real issue.  Certainly towed artillery batteries made a nice juicy target for tactical nuclear strikes, but then again, so did everything else.  Counter battery fire had been a fact of life for artillery for three hundred years and defenses had been developed.  Air strikes had not been all that effective against artillery during WWI and WWII due to strong Anti-Air defenses and by the 1980-1990’s air defense weapons had only gotten stronger. What would have happened then? NO definitive answer can be given except maybe: Luckily it never happened.

Raven Games
Raven Games



Bibliography of WWIII PART TWO

I’ve had some emails asking for a list of some of the books or sources I used to write the NATO! Games.  I thought I’d sketch out a few of the reference works that I most used and why.

An Illustrated Guide to Tank Busters

Another Bruce  Quarry, Mike Spick book. With the helicopter on the front you think you know what your getting into, but ‘Tank Busters’ is a broad subject included helicopters, fixed wing and much more. I used this book along with the one below to grasp the ‘pop-up’ attack as it applied to NATO! This book is easily found at Thriftbooks and ebay for around 4.95

Modern Fighting Helicopters

Big surprise! Bill Gunston and Mike Spick…again While Modern Fighting Helicopters is an old book and behind the time period of the game the basic tactics and problems of helicopters in ground combat are the same and well discussed.  I used many other sources other than these two books; or authors for that matter; while writing this facet of the game. However these two books in combination really covered the subject completely and well. This book can be found at ebay and thriftbooks for $4.95 or so.

 An Illustrated Guide to Soviet Ground Forces

You cannot find a better quick guide to hardware then these little gems. I have actually gotten rid of other ‘tank’ or ‘airplane’ books in favor of this series.  The illustrated guides are broken down into separate subjects with brilliant photos and the occasional well executed drawing and plenty of detail about each and every weapon they discuss. Roy Bonds edited this compilation book, showing the most up to date Soviet hardware including the BMP, T-62/4/72 etc etc. This book simply incorporates the information from many other titles but does give a wonderful overview of Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces in the 80’s.  You can find this book cheap at Priced from $4.00 to $12.00

Well since almost everything here is an illustrated guide something something let’s end with a word of caution. These books are cheap easily found, well written and researched. That having being said be careful if you branch off these to other series or publishers such as Arno or Salamander because their titles are often re-issuing the information found in these little gems.–Raven

Raven Games
Raven Games



Writing About What Didn’t Happen

Warsaw Pact Cover LIGHT

No war that never happened, has been more written about than World War III. So attempting to write a game about it has a flavor of Alice in Wonderland about it. When writing a wargame you tend to rely on ‘what happened’ accounts to try and bring your game mechanics into according with what you have read. This of course is all bollocks! And I am as guilty as anyone of attempting to breath ‘reality’ into a wargame. Unless you and a few of your best but foolish friends go into woods, desert, steppes etc. and shoot at each other with real ammo you’ll never understand the sheer terror of combat. And if you have no concept of what it is like to have people trying to kill you good for you!

So with that having been said how do you go about putting realistic results into your game? First you start with basic premises that you feel are universally true about the subject. My starting premise in NATO and Warsaw Pact was this: NATO was out numbered by Warsaw Pact forces. I did not fall for the old saw about Soviet equipment being comfortingly inferior to western hardware. Time and again the Soviets stunned the west with weapon systems just as capable.

My next premise was it would be the Soviets that would cross the line. There is nothing to prove that NATO would NEVER have started the war, but it seemed unlikely that the European powers would willing start a war that would end in their utter destruction. The Soviets on the other hand were looking to crush the west as quickly as possible and drive the US off the European landmass. I felt that this offensive would have been a stabbing attack into West Germany, Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands. I doubt that the Soviets ever seriously thought of ‘Marching to Paris’ but ‘Marching to Bonn and Antwerp’ was on the agenda. I believe the drive would have been a no holds barred race for the Rhine. I also feel that such an offensive would have drawn in the Mediterranean powers if for no other reason than to prevent reinforcements using Italian or Greek ports. Remember the Soviets had no real naval power in the Mediterranean and Turkey would have fought the Black Seas Fleet from moving south.

Premise three was the notion that neither NATO nor the Warsaw Pact would have ‘gone nuclear’ right at the start of the conflict. After all, what was the point of winning a burnt out, radioactive cinder? Chemical weapons would have been delivered as part of the opening gambit and that would have been all Soviet. NATO had such agents and their delivery systems. But, NATO also had millions of citizens directly in harm’s way of those agents. The Soviets did not need to shield the population in fact it might collapse the will to fight if later targets heard about the death toll in earlier battles, or crowd the MSRs with frightened panicked people.

My final premise was the fact that these games would be quick, easy to learn, dirty and as high tech free as possible. After all, all the myriad hardware in infinite detail would derail the idea of a tactical level game that could be played by two players in 1 to 2 hours without having to learn such phrases as APDS, FLIR, ALM etc etc ad infinitum. ‘Is the tech there at all?’ I hear you ask, of course! WWIII was going to be the war in which electronics would be the master, so the tech is built into the design of every unit in the game.

In closing I’m very happy with the overwhelming response to NATO, I feel this proves that others feel as I do that World War III is a worthy gaming subject and that ease of play has a vital roll in the design.

Raven Games
Raven Games