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Thursday, October 25, 2012

On the Pole - Building a Polish Army, Part One

 “Fathers, our only job is to keep our daughters off the pole.”  - Chris Rock

Winged Hussars or Winged Hussies? A rather frightening enticement crafted by Weyland.

Steve started off with this thread in the forum: "Help me convince Tom to play EW Poles."  Shortly thereafter, I was deluged with highly sexualized enticements to begin an EW Polish army.  I've featured several of them on this page.

Does the thought of being seduced by the WWPD forum frighten you?  It does me.  Especially because I imagine everyone on the internet is an obese 45-year old man living in his parent's basement, bathed in the amber glow of his ancient monitor.

How can I resist such pressure?  I can't.  So I will hereby begin to collect an EW Polish army, if only to spare my unborn hypothetical children the Curse of Busey Mouth.  This is the first of several articles that will chronicle my growing collection and army building.
"Tom if you don't buy poles all your kids will grow up to have busey mouth" -- cbaxter

Truth be told, I've been researching the 1939 campaign for a couple of months, as part of a possible alternate history novel.  I'd already collected a bunch of military history books and so forth about the Polish army.  My recent game as the Poles at the Nova Open also sparked my interest: I even walked away from the tournament with a box of TKS tankettes.  Anatoli's campaign book added to the excitement.

Where to Begin?

My first task is to decide on which Polish force to collect.  I quickly discovered I can't just buy a bunch of infantry and play every force.  The Poles in 1939 had several different uniform types which are easily distinguished even on eye-wateringly tiny 15mm figures.  Battlefront does not make all the possible variants, although other companies do.  So my choice of a uniform type would limit exactly which company types I could play, and whose model range I will be buying.  (At least to start.) To summarize:

    Anatoli's Contribution
  • The normal infantry wore a wide buckety sort of helmet (rather like US and Soviet offerings) and short anklets.  This is the uniform represented by Battlefront's Batalion Piechoty range.
  • The cavalry wore high boots (for riding horsies, naturally, but also used by dismounted and mechanized troops).  They had caps or ridged French helmets.  This is the uniform represented by Battlefront's Cavalry and Dismounted Cavalry range.
  • The famous 10th Mechanized Cavalry or "Black" Brigade wore dark overcoats and surplus WWI Austrian and German helmets.  Battlefront has no range representing this iconic unit, but True North does.
  • Mountain troops wore weird cloth hats, some with feathers in them.  Again, Battlefront has no range representing them, but True North does.
  •  And, of course, tankers and other types wore various coveralls and special helmets and other kit, but since they don't represent my main platoons, I don't much care.

With this in mind, I need to pick a range and start with it.  Later on, of course, I can expand into other army types. 

So which one?

I would prefer to purchase Battlefront models.  They are easier to get (usually) and higher quality (usually).  Plus, I want to support my favorite game.

Further complicating my choice, I discovered that many Battlefront EW Polish products were out of print or going out of print at the time of writing.  Notably absent were the mounted cavalry models and the Batalion Piechoty models.  In fact, every boxed set except the train seemed scare.  I wrote Battlefront, and they assured me that the full range is coming back, once it is packaged into blisters. Still, if I want them NOW, dammit NOW! I can't get them.

Poles- courtesy of Anatoli's Game Room.
I want a force I can play with either Battlefront's Blitzkreig book, or Anatoli's PDF.  If I have to pick one to base my purchases on, I will go with Blitzkreig, since it's the "official" offering.  With this in mind, I can build a tank list, a Batalion Piechoty list, some form of cavalry list, or a specialty list, like the Black Brigade.  I ruminate as follows:
  • A tank list is pretty boring.  Don't get me wrong.  I love tanks.  But the Polish variant doesn't seem to offer much over other nations.  The double-turret tanks are cool, but likely ineffective.  Ditto the TKS.  Besides, it's 1939 in Poland.  I'm not here for the Polish tank force.
  • The infantry Battalion offers one thing, and one thing only: numbers!  I fought a infantry Battalion at the 2011 Nationals.  It was huuuge!  My 17 or so German tanks spent two and a half hours trying to grind the Poles under their treads.  When time was up, I lost.  I felt like the whole Polish nation was linked arm in arm, singing Kumbaya as they were squashed to mush. Still, I can't imagine that playing the Polish side was much fun or offered much variety.  And this is an all-in choice: the infantry models are good pretty much only for an infantry company, and that's it.  Couple this with the fact that all the models are out of print, and I think I'll pass.
  • The dismounted cavalry models offer more variety.  I can use them for a dismounted force, a mounted force, or a mechanized force.  (But only the Warsaw brigade.)  They are Fearless/Veteran, and thus really tough.  Maybe a bit on the expensive side.  And, in one way or another, I can use almost any support option with core platoons of dismounted cavalry.  On the downside, the mounted models are currently unavailable.  And if I decide they are simply too pricey, I'm stuck.
  • The specialty lists are really, really tempting.  Especially the Black Brigade. Who doesn't love them? I could use the True North models, or maybe do some head-swaps.  But once I finished with them, my core platoons couldn't be used for anything else.  Plus, non-Battlefront models are often harder to find, may take longer to ship, and may have inferior sculpts.  Just depends.  

Given these options, a few Battlefront dismounted cavalry platoons make the most sense.  I can use them initially to build a motorized (Warsaw Brigade) cavalry list.  Then, when the mounted figures become available again, I can add some little horsie-men.  The Warsaw Brigade had a wide variety of support, letting me add some TKS tankettes, some 7TPs, or some Vickers E.  The Warsaw Brigade never fought alongside a train, but once I have at least one mounted platoon, then I can add that too.  Once I get done (and maybe bored), I can add some Black Brigade or mountaineer models to replace my core platoons.  If I want to go big, then I can work on the overwhelming Batalion Piechoty a bit at a time.

So, time to start shopping ...

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