Help support TMP

"Built And Gamed A Cold War Concentration Camp Rescue?" Topic

24 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the Cold War (1946-1989) Message Board

Back to the Modern What-If Message Board

Back to the Terrain and Scenics Message Board

Back to the Scratchbuilding Message Board

Areas of Interest


1,513 hits since 3 Apr 2018
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Cacique Caribe03 Apr 2018 9:23 p.m. PST

Movies like "Uncommon Valor" (1983), books like "Drawings From The Gulag"* and stories told to me by friends of my father who were locked up during Fidel, all got me thinking …

Now that there are at least a few Cold War figure options available, has anyone tried a rescue operation game (of an entire camp)?

A) If so, how did you build the camp? What layout and materials?
B) Was it in Russia (a Gulag) or perhaps elsewhere in Eastern Europe? Or did you go for a location in the tropics, Asia, Africa, Latin America, etc?
C) What figures did you use for the inmates? Or did you use tokens?
D) Were the rescuers a foreign military rescue team, or some private outfit? Or were nearby peasants the ones who stormed the compound?
E) What rules? Do you have the game conclude wishing a very short span of turns, before enemy reinforcements arrive?
F) How did the game turn out? Were you able to get most of the inmates freed? What were the exact victory conditions set for the game?
G) Anything else?

* link
Actual photos might be too much for some:

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian03 Apr 2018 9:36 p.m. PST

Keith Carradine did a silly movie (Attack Force Nam) about a Vietnam War rescue. Most of the movie was spent on the road, the camp rescue was the easy part. Then they had to drive through Vietnam and cross the border…

Bad movies make the best wargames!

Striker03 Apr 2018 9:42 p.m. PST

I'm planning on something like this for my imagi-Africa locale. For the inmates I might use some RR figures I picked up and paint them in a solid color, a different color for vip or something like that. Rules would be Spectre Ops, and I think a narrative/GM run game would work best. They have rules or a player to be "unaware" but I think most players cringe at that, or find it less fun. The players would run either mercs or a national outfit. Probably some kind of reinforcements will be available but only if the base gets a call off. Mostly it will be stealth driven so that if the players go tactical they could stir up a hornet's nest. Even a ad shot with an AK can kill. Terrain: I make my own buildings plus I was in the kickstarter or the Wild Geese set so I'm set for terrain for once!

Cacique Caribe03 Apr 2018 9:48 p.m. PST

I guess the Gulags typically had fairly solid-looking log towers:





Lots of crude logs everywhere from the looks of it, instead of boards, even indoors:



What did camps really look like in the tropics (like in Vietnam)? All I find are Hollywood's interpretations.

PS. This is a huge database of Gulag artifacts and accounts (including layout drawings):

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian03 Apr 2018 10:47 p.m. PST

The camp in Attack Force Nam AKA Behind Enemy Lines is very waterlogged. Lots of bamboo.

Oberlindes Sol LIC03 Apr 2018 11:23 p.m. PST

The SPI wargame Raid! (ca. 1980) has a scenario based on the Son Tay raid. I played it once back then, and don't have a strong memory, good or bad, about it.

POWs typically wear either their uniforms without armor, web gear, or helmets. They may wear a prison uniform, like at Guantanamo. I'm guessing that miniatures in prison uniforms will be easier to find than miniatures in uniforms without armor, weapons, web gear, or helmets, but I haven't looked for any.

How many prisoners would a 25mm POW camp that would fit in, say, a 2ft x 3ft area in the middle of a 4ft x 6ft table accommodate?

Cacique Caribe03 Apr 2018 11:26 p.m. PST

Check out what IrishSerb has here. I think that was for 20mm:



And look at this Wild Geese game. The camp also looks a lot like what you'd find in some parts of Latin America.




Vigilant04 Apr 2018 5:28 a.m. PST

We gamed Son Tay many years ago in 20mm. We worked on the principle that the prisoners were still there and used actual figures. Each building had to be searched and the number of prisoners was based on a die roll. It was over 20 years ago so I'm a bit sketchy on some of the details. The rules were home grown. The guards were Italeri plastics whilst the US troops were metal, possibly SHQ.

Legion 404 Apr 2018 6:08 a.m. PST

Great modeling ! Yes, I still have SPI's Raid. And one of my SF NCO instructors was not on the Son Tay Raid but had some fellow SF comrades on the mission. Of course he may have been there, but in '75, but some of that was still classified … However, in that Raid it was frequently mentioned, a number PRC "Advisors" were there. And as "stated" many were KIA'd. I learned a lot from him about fieldcraft, etc., as an ROTC cadet.

And routinely at Ranger and Recon Cdo training, Raids were a common patrol mission/op.

Also check out the book, The Ghost Soldiers and movie based on the book, The Great Raid. A WWII raid on a IJF's POW camp in the PI. Which had member from the US and UK … The Raid was carried out by US Rangers, PI Guerillas and a little known US Spec Ops unit in the PTO, the Alamo Scouts.

Some good ideas for gaming Raids are in that book and the book about the Son Tay Raid.

For 6mm gaming CinC makes a perfect Guard/Watch Tower for this. Here's a pic of my 6mm Ork Fire Base, "Fire Base Mork" !


Here's a 6mm kitbashed Ork Tower I did …


Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP04 Apr 2018 11:15 a.m. PST

WWII, Cold War, and Modern for this type of scenario.

A) Plank buildings, and regular buildings for the milieu representing "converted" facilities. In 15mm, HO scale train tower are great for this purpose; 25-28mm O Scale ones work OK.

B) France (after I reread Scum of the Earth), unidentified Eastern European countries, Sub-Saharan and Central Africa, Southeast Asia.

C) Internees were regular civilians. I don't have any in the "been in the Gulag for years now" state.

D) Foreign military were the rescuers, occasionally aided by outlaw guerilla groups.

E) I used QILS for most of the games now. I have used various other skirmish systems. Gangs of Mega City One is a good set for this type of operation, if you leave out the futuristic scifi elements. There were no (victory point) motivations for the rescuers to cut bait without rescuing anybody. Looming reinforcements were always a threat. The main tension came from how rapidly the prison staff could detect, react, and consolidate effort.

F) The outcomes usually ended in heavy losses for the rescuers. Sometimes, the prisoners would get out (with light losses), but no rescuers survived. Occasionally, all the "good guys" would die. There was a great feeling of pride to get all the (target) prisoners out without losing any "good guy" forces.

G) In the scenario there was also always the threat that one of the prisoners (target rescue or not) would sound the alarm and/or help the guards.

Cacique Caribe04 Apr 2018 11:58 a.m. PST


Re F) "There was a great feeling of pride to get all the (target) prisoners out without losing any "good guy" forces."
That is excellent.
Re G) I hadn't even considered that possibility. An excellent variable to include.



Pyrate Captain04 Apr 2018 5:02 p.m. PST

Beautiful Dan.

I would love to share a story of a colonel I once worked for who partnered with Morgan in Havana and only got out at the last minute under extreme circumstances. I think you would appreciate it.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP05 Apr 2018 9:14 a.m. PST

An excellent variable to include.

For this type of scenario, a "clock" is essential. It can be the countdown until supplemental security arrives. It can drive the probability that a rescuer, under stress, goofs up and reveals the party. Or maybe it counts random patrols' increasing chance of finding the "exit". If your extraction support is civilian, after a certain amount of clock, the could get spooked, leave, and make you have to outrun the prison forces for a longer distance.

We usually use a pseudo-randomly shuffled deck of cards and give the ranks and/or suits significance for the important time-driven events.

For the "traitor", we throw a joker in. The joker coming up in the clock activates the treachery. There is usually a condition attached – the prisoner who is closest to the largest number of rescuers – or somesuch. The prison player gets to take immediate action with this figure, usually running and alerting any guards that need it. For a quicker betrayal, put both in and activate on either one. For a longer wait, put both in activate the traitor when the second joker comes up.

So, the betrayal doesn't always happen. Sometimes it is buried too deep in the deck to get to. Maybe it happens early and there is no candidate prisoner (the rescuers aren't that far yet). Maybe all the guards are already alerted, so, the traitor is much less useful to the prison. (The rescuers or other prisoners can still kill him, though …)

Anyway you play it, suspense is a key ingredient in this type of game for us. Both the impending doom of the clock and the possibility of a traitor help create this.

TMPWargamerabbit05 Apr 2018 9:23 a.m. PST

My token effort for the concentration camp scene. Camp Dora in play during the Operation Overcast 1945 FOW 20mm miniatures convention scenario:

The camp "attendees" have control of the gates…. it is post war May 1945.

A German refugee column passes by the camp.

Soviet NGVD agents interview the camp personal to locate any rocket technicians who slave worked in the nearby Mittlewerk mountain factory.

Oberlindes Sol LIC05 Apr 2018 10:50 a.m. PST

There could be one or more agents planted among the prisoners to spy on them. See the movie Stalag 17 (1953).

RudyNelson05 Apr 2018 10:57 a.m. PST

When I was in the Army back in the 1970-80s, I was assigned to an MI battalion as an S4. I actually had an army manual with official diagram and plans to build POW camps and holding pens.
We needed the plans so we would know what to order in material. Some of these photos posted resemble the temporary pens but a complete Camp had a lot of layers.

Legion 405 Apr 2018 2:50 p.m. PST

Great work there Mike ! thumbs up

Cacique Caribe05 Apr 2018 3:43 p.m. PST

That's truly an impressive set up. And you used actual figures for the prisoners too!
It must have felt really good to get those poor guys out.

Legion 6
I still don't know how you can see, much less paint with such good results, your 6mm figures and terrain. I'm in awe.


TMPWargamerabbit05 Apr 2018 6:15 p.m. PST

The hidden secret… the 20mm Camp Dora former attendee miniatures are the old Airfix RAF, Luftwaffe and USA airforce personnel sets poorly painted with the camp light blue strips on light grey undercoat. During the scenario… only one Soviet player decided to check loose prisoner population for possible rocket technicians… the ones who knew how to build the V-2 rockets…forced hands-on experience. The whole post war scenario was about collecting the former German advanced weapons technology, the hardware that is, the scientists with plans and drawing, and the senior technical staff. Both the Americans with their JIOA detachments and the Soviet had NKVB detachments roaming the tabletop before the major military units entered the battlefield. The Camp Dora was only one part of the grand scenario tied with the Mittlewerk V-2 factory in the train tunnel mountain.

If interested… the Operation Overcast 1945 scenario detail is found here: link

ScottS05 Apr 2018 6:22 p.m. PST

How about the Soviet/Cuban reeducation camp from Red Dawn?

("Avenge me!!")

Cacique Caribe06 Apr 2018 1:52 a.m. PST


The simple but large fenced-in holding enclosure in Tomorrow When The War Began (small amusement park grounds) reminded me a lot of the one in the 1984 original Red Dawn (a high school football field).

TMP link
TMP link
TMP link



YouTube link

Legion 406 Apr 2018 8:22 a.m. PST

Legion 6
I still don't know how you can see, much less paint with such good results, your 6mm figures and terrain. I'm in awe.

Many thanks C/C, but it's classified ! evil grin

And thanks for the promotion ! But my call sign in the ROK was Legion 4. My call sign at Ft. Benning, GA later with an RDF Mech unit was Warhawk 6 ! evil grin wink

Cacique Caribe18 May 2018 3:59 a.m. PST

Pirate Captain: "I would love to share a story of a colonel I once worked for who partnered with Morgan in Havana and only got out at the last minute under extreme circumstances. I think you would appreciate it."

Consider me interested! :)


Cacique Caribe15 Oct 2018 8:50 p.m. PST

I wonder if there are any 15mm figures that could pass for Uighur separatists attempting to rescue people out of the new huge indoctrination/re-education camps popping up again in Communist China.

Hmm. Would 15mm Afghan figures work, specially if they don't have overly thick beards? Or would something else be better for Uighur?

And would these Rebel Minis figures work as armed guards on those camps, specially near hotspots?



Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.