An Interview With Editor Monty
With the release of Operation Winter Storm for Chain of Command, Lard Island News thought it would be a good idea to have a rigorous look at Editor Monty, just to make sure! So, we invited him to our studio for a good probe.
Lard Island News: So, Monty, why are you called Monty? This surely wasn’t the name you were born with?
Monty: Quite right. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your perspective, my real name is Richard. That can be confusing when the large man of Lard is also called that. As I run a small wargaming business Called Monty’s Wargaming World as well as being Lardy Richard’s helper, so it made sense to find a less confusing handle. Monty stuck. A nom de guerre if you like.
Lard Island News: So, you must be excited about having your first supplement published. Operation Winter Storm looks like great fun. Tell us first about Chain of Command and your experiences with the rules. What do you like about them?
Monty:: First of all because it is probably the best rule set I have ever played and it has some very stiff competition in earning that title. For me, history is key. I find the accounts of veterans inspirational and I want my games to chime with those accounts. Of course, you can never replicate what it was really like for them, but you can create a very plausible representation and that is what Chain of Command and Lardie games in general achieve. Secondly, I want the challenge to come from the decisions I have to make not trying to understand and apply the rules! Again, Chain of Command scores here. I have had new players grasp the basic mechanics in half an hour but I have never yet had a game where I did not find myself challenged to a very great extent. It’s the focus on the men, leadership and friction that really create these challenges and I’m really taken by the way they put you in the boots of a platoon commander and avoid trying to have you playing as company commander, platoon commander and section commander all at the same time. This focus is also a key element for me. I could go on and on and on about this. It really does fit the bill for what I want from a game.
The other reason was my role as a Lard Ambassador. I am keen to help spread the Lard because it has revolutionised my gaming for the better and I’d like others to at least have the chance to experience the same. I was keen therefore to run shows at games and for these to be participation games and Chain of Command works very well in that respect. I was also keen to ring the changes as I went through the year. The show circuit up here in Scotland is well supported, but I was keen for people coming to different shows to see different games. I was inspired by the RAF Leuchars’ Club’s Band of Brothers series of games last year and I wanted to try to do the same thing; following a story through over the year. Hence the need for a number of connected Chain of Command scenarios.
Lard Island News: So Monty, what’s the general background to the supplement?
Monty: Stalingrad and the death of 6th Army. But we’re not looking at the pocket itself, rather the focus is on the attempt to break through and open an escape route for the encircled forces. I found this very interesting – it is a German offensive with Panzers galore and with a real feel of the ‘old days’ in that respect. But the Soviet side is also key. Gone are the armies of Barbarrossa and we are really starting to see the rebirth of the Red Army and its transformation into the force that would drive all the way to Berlin. We’re not there yet and so we have the Germans on the wane and the Soviets on the rise, creating a very nice balance. We see a range of Soviet forces engaged and an awareness on the Soviet part of what was going on, the risks they faced and what they needed to do about that. Of course, overall the plan failed in that the Stalingrad garrison was not rescued, but the operation itself was a success – achieving the objective it was set. Bizarrely, it was also a Soviet success as they achieved their objective of stopping the Germans where they wanted.
Lard Island News: What sort of games can we expect to find?
Monty: All sorts! We have partisans, cavalry, rifle and SMG platoons. We have day and night engagements – formal attacks, hasty attacks, desperate defences, flank attacks, link up operations, meeting engagement, a coup de main. There are some all infantry actions, some are all armour and some are a mix – including armour on one side and infantry on the other. Hopefully, there is a good mix and something for everyone.
Lard Island News: Aren’t battles on the steppes a bit…flat?
Monty: NO! Or at least, not at this level. In the context of a divisional level game, there is, perhaps, some truth to that statement. But not at platoon level. No ground is flat (unless man made), all ground has folds and dips and these are key to an infantryman it’s also true of the desert. You really don’t need that much of a dip to get into cover when the bullets are flying! Some of these dips and rises are quite pronounced – we encounter depressions and ranges of hills. There are also Balkas – wadis in other parts of the world – some of them quite minor and some major. And then some ground is rougher than other areas. We also have the man made effect, villages, farms, orchards, pastures for grazing – the list goes on. So no, not flat and not just a wide open space.
Lard Island News: So, with Winter Storm released, do you have more stuff planned for us?
Monty: Yes and no! Talking to Rich, I taken by the concept of the ‘pint sized’ campaign. The size of Winter Storm was largely a result of needing quite a few connected games for the show circuit, but I think splitting it into Chapters has helped and I think these shorter campaigns are the way to go. I have already written one (British Paras v Panzer Grenadiers on D Day) and a second is well under way (US infantry against SS Panzer Grenadiers during the Mortain counter attack). The first is with Rich for him to work his magic in turning my drivels into something slick, smart, coherent and comprehensible. I couldn’t say when that will be ready. The second will be finished, as far as my initial bit goes, this month. I have loads more ideas as well and hope to be able to keep Rich supplied with a steady flow of interesting campaigns. In terms of the bigger ones, I do have an aspiration to tackle Stalingrad itself, but I now feel that might be better as a series of smaller supplements rather than one big whopper!
Lard Island News; Tell us more about this “Pint Sized Campaigns” idea.
Monty: Gosh, well, I’m not the man to really ask, that’s Richard’s domain. However, we have discussed this and in essence the idea is to provide some short, interesting campaigns for Chain of Command with maybe five or six battles which really capture the flavour of a campaign and produce them really cheaply. In fact, for the price of a pint of beer. I think the idea of picking up something for a few quid which can keep your gaming group happy for six weeks is a fantastic idea. Hard not to be inspired by that concept, and its very much a key trait of Lard. Good value gaming.
Lard Island News: So Pint Sized Campaigns aside, is there anything esle from your pen we should be looking for?
Monty: I have been working on a number of Army Lists for Rich; Eastern Front to fill the gap between Barbarossa and the Late War lists and these should come out over the coming months. I’ve also looked at the Far East Late War, specifically Burma, following on from my Chindit list and scenario in the last Summer Special.
And I’m also working on a number of rule projects. Some of you may be aware of “Play Up, Play Up and Play the Game”, my big battle colonial set which is firmly into the play testing phase, although that’s not going as quickly as I would have liked. I’m also hopeful of getting another set out for playtesting soon, but I’ll say no more on that for now.
Lard Island News: Well thanks for joining us Editor Monty. We wish you the best of luck with your forthcoming projects.