One of the downsides of painting miniatures for periods like WWII is the uniformity. So I found painting this rag-tag bunch of partisans a real pleasure.
Black Tree Designs Partisans
These miniatures are from Black Tree Designs, a manufacturer I recently slated for their rubbish Pak 40 model. I’m pleased to say I found these partisans not just better quality, but a real joy to paint.
The figures come from their Eastern Front partisans range, but I picked out the ones that look fairly generic as I want to use them initially as Belgian resistance for a scenario. The range does include partisans in furry Russian hats and the like, but as you can see many are just wearing typical 1940s civilian clothes.
One of my pet hates is cleaning flash off miniatures, so I was very pleased by how clean these castings were. I think I only touched a couple of them out of this batch of 10, so top marks to Black Tree there. I was a bit unsure about the sculpts when I viewed them online as I thought some of the poses looked a little odd but now that I’ve painted them I think they look ok.
The main criticism I would have is that the range of sizes is pretty extreme. In particular the guys in the flat caps with their rifle at the shoulder are huge, while both the female figures are very small. I’m not sure if the sculptor actually thinks women are tiny, or if we’re seeing the hand of two different sculptors at work here. I have heard that Black Tree have had different sculptors go back and add extra sculpts to existing ranges, so I suspect it’s the latter.
Another small niggle is that despite being billed as “Soviet partisans” the rifles they carry don’t actually look like a Mosin-Nagant, and indeed aren’t all the same (again, two sculptors here?). But if you want to use them as non-Soviet partisans that’s actually not such a bad thing. They definitely tend towards the “massive gunz” end of the sculpting scale, so would look better alongside Warlord or Artizan than they would against Perry if you’re bothered about people having rifles almost as tall as a man. Personally I quite like the chunky style of miniature, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
Paint-wise I went for fairly neutral tones, as I figure you don’t wear “shoot me” colours when you’re stepping out to kill fascists.
Soviet Partisans in Chain of Command
I bought a big pile of these miniatures in a half price sale, so I’ve got a ton more contributing to the lead mountain. I think they paint up quite well and enjoyed doing them, which always helps with painting motivation. I might just chuck a few in with every other painting job I’ve got on and try to build up a playable partisan force over the next few months. If nothing else they’ll be an interesting force to play, and I’ve got a list for them that I’ve drafted but not tested.
The trick with a list for partisans is to get that feeling of an irregular, paramilitary force with less rigid structure than normal. There’s an official list for partisans in Winter War which has a standard triangular structure, but with a random roll for squad strength to make it feel less regular. That’s fine, but to me it seems like a bit of a slap of chrome over a normal military unit.
I think a better approach is to give the partisans a very small cadre of green troops, lightly armed, and then give them a bit of a smorgasbord of supports with which to build a custom force for each mission. A modular structure, basically. Partisans would organise and equip themselves differently for ambushing a convoy from how they would for attacking an outpost, so that’s the way I plan to go. The partisans also had a fair bit of support from regular army troops who were infiltrated through German lines to help them, and I think the range of ability among the partisans themselves should also be reflected. The core would be “green” in CoC terms, but they should have access to some better-trained and equipped supports to represent more experienced cadres brought in to stiffen up the sketchily trained rabble. Their opponents would normally be troops from the security divisions, who were low-grade units themselves, or other irregulars so a typical game would be green-on-green. That should be fairly bloody and quick to play at least, as green troops are a lot easier to hit.
Expect more on all of that when I’ve painted enough of the little blighters to play some games!