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How Important is Historical Accuracy… Really?

Today I am after your opinion. Please post replies either to this Blog or over on my Facebook Page.

What I would like to know is “how important is historical accuracy to you as a gamer?” Specifically, I am looking at the Flames of War and Bolt Action crowds.

Let me tell you a quick story. My travels back into miniatures games started with when I was playing boardgames with miniatures in them to get my “miniatures fix” for much less than the cost of GW. Eventually, I wanted to get back into true miniature games and with the encouragement of my wife, I went to the Hotlead Gaming Convention in Stratford, Ontario. There I was introduced to a whole gamut of games that I never knew existed. Most of these games were of a historical nature and all of them were more affordable to buy into than the games that I was used to seeing at my local hobby store.

There I bought into RAFM’s USX: Modern Day Heroes and Death in the Dark. Neither of those were very historical, but the historical bug was planted. I then bought a copy of Memoir ’44 and painted all of the miniatures within. Reactions from all that played the game was fantastic. Battlefront then released their Plastic Open Fire Starter Box for Flames of War. I bought that boxed set and what a fantastic value that box set was! If you don’t have it, I recommend you buy it if you have any interest in Flames of War. It comes with a British Sherman Tank Company, an American Parachute Platoon and an entire German Grenadier Army. When I got the boxed set, I immediately found a club to play at and painted the American Platoon. The first person that saw my paint job told me…

They are too Green!
Above is the first reaction I heard from a historical gamer when I showed him my painted American Parachute Platoon from Open Fire.

Having spent all the time to paint up my American Platoon, I was not about to repaint them. They remain the same colour today. I will post the rest of the pictures of the Platoon at the end of this post, but I would like to know from my Historical friends and readers if they would play someone that didn’t paint their miniatures the right colour. This question is of relevance not only because I have a platoon of bright-green Americans, but also because I am contemplating painting a Platoon of Germans for Bolt Action in non-historical colours.

With the coming of Konflikt ’47, I can see no reason people should take offense to me running atypical colours for my German army. The issue may arise, when I wish to use those same infantry models for Bolt Action. The colour that I would like to paint my Army is Black. They wore those colours just before WW2 and I believe that there may have even been a Panzer Grenadier Company that wore black uniforms during the early war. Any Historical players out there that know the history of black uniforms for Germans, please chime in the comments.

I think I could get away with Black uniforms for the early war, but what about when I start to play late war with the same models? Will people take offense or be really bothered by my colour choice? What will they think if I paint my Panthers the same colour? Why is this even important?

Historical players are a friendly group, but they can also be particular. My first Flames of War tournament was for mid-war. I don’t own a dedicated mid-war army so I dropped the Panzerfaust and Shreck in my late war list and added in large 15cm infantry guns, PaK40s and 88s for support. The list is legal and taken from the proper book. The colours may have been a little off for Itally or the desert. One of my opponents complained to me and asked “what is this? Your East War army brought over for a West War game?” I didn’t have the heart to tell him that it was actually my Late War army re-tooled to work as a mid-war list for the West. At that time, I had not yet made my Objective markers. I am sure that would have blown his mind even more.

I get mixed reactions when I pull out these objective markers for Flames of War. Most people love them, but a small amount complain or look at them with disdain. I like them a lot and believe that these objective markers helped me win best appearing army at a couple of tournaments.  🙂

Well of Chaos - Reaper Miniatures
That is a Well of Chaos by Reaper Miniatures. I figure by late war, the Germans wouldn’t have been against summoning Cthulhu to help them regain an advantage. With reports that they were interested in the Occult, I find it an interesting marker to use in the game.
A well of blood with sacrifices
Around the Well of Chaos are a couple of dead Russian soldiers by Battlefront. Of course, they were sacrifices to fill the fountain with blood.
Side Profile
That is a German Commander summoning a Demon to help his cause. The Demon is a Night Gaunt by RAFM.
Top Angle View
Most people love the summoning circle! It makes for a really fun game. I also have a German Command Team done up as Red Skull (not shown).

As one might guess, I like to divert from History a little. That is part of the reason I am deciding on whether to get in on Konflikt ’47. I think it would be a good fit for me and there are local players buying Konflikt ’47 Armies. Again, I am wondering if people would criticize if I make my own colour scheme and want to bring it back to Bolt Action for a Late War game.

Currently, I have two objective markers for Bolt Action. Both are Bronze statues. I always get a look of confusion when someone sees them on the table for the first time.

“What? We are fighting over a town in France. Why wouldn’t they have a statue of Joan of Arc that they would want to secure? It is my objective marker.”
The statue from the back.
A Bronze Statue of a Mythical Fighter. So far, not a single player has allowed me to use him in Bolt Action.  🙂  Maybe I will use him for Frostgrave sometime.

So far, I have kept my armies historically accurate and had fun with the objective markers. I would like to change that with a Bolt Action Germany Army. Please tell me your thoughts on this topic either here or on my Facebook Page. Perhaps you have your own Blog Site and are interested in writing a response that way. If so, please do so and link back here.

I hope that everyone enjoyed reading this post. To end off, I leave you with pictures of the rest wrongfully coloured American Platoon.

“I told you we shouldn’t have trusted that laundry shop. Look at what they did to our uniforms!”
Bazooka Team
“Better get that shot off quick bud. I don’t think we will be able to hide after this.”
The Commander
“I know our uniforms are a little bright. Just keep advancing forward men. Perhaps the colour will throw our enemies off their game.”
A good looking group
“I don’t care that our colours are off. We still look great!”
“Boss, I think they see you! You stick out like a sore thumb in that uniform. Get Down!”
“So Bright! Maybe you can blind them.”
“Don’t hold back men!”
“Soldier! Did you say that you think we are painted with craftstore paint!? Then you had better work twice as hard to make us look good!”
“You mean he didn’t even use the right paints on us!? Inconceivable!”

This Post Has 33 Comments

  1. Conrad Hawkwood

    if you have to ask the question you probably have your answer already.

  2. Jordan Lee

    Franctly the idea that people playing Bolt Action and Flames of War would be so picky about something like your statues or colour schemes makes me a little sad for your local meta. My group is very open to experimenting within the hobby. I really like your occult objectives and units.

    1. jacobstauttener

      Most of the locals are good about it and even enjoy it. It is the tournament scene where I run into people put off by the objectives. Those people are few and far between, but they do exist and they are vocal about their beliefs. I am just there to play a fun game. 🙂

  3. Denni Brøndum-Hansen

    Your minis, your choice. Poor friends if they disallow this or give you grief for it.

  4. Sean Thorne

    1st time i brought my FoW Early War German infantry platoon to the local hobby store the resident 'expert' remarked, "Helmets are the wrong shade of grey, you need to repaint those." I didn't listen to him. I've gone on to do such things as craft a American modern mid century BBQ scene onto my DBx and ADLG medieval and ancient army 'camps'. I do it for me. I love this hobby and 99% of the players in it. The rest can find other players. #paintedarmies

  5. Anonymous

    People I play with wouldn't care as long as you don't paint anything pink.

  6. Anonymous

    As both a Flames of War player and Battlefront company employee I have to say that historical accuracy is very important…to me. For my opponent? I don't care if he paints his Panthers pink. My armies will be painted to the best of my ability and accurately, they are for me and no one else. This is the attitude that I find most people adopt, only the nutters out there care about what everyone else's figures look like. Now, do I prefer that my historically accurate West German Army for Team Yankee be facing an equally well painted and accurate Soviet Army? Yes, yes I do. But if my opponent paints them in an alternate scheme I'm just as happy to play them and will compliment them on their paint job as warranted.

    1. jacobstauttener

      Thanks for the comment from the Battlefront employee. Flames of War is a great game and I am glad that most players don't worry too much about other people's armies. I have run into some players that do care, but they are few and far between. 🙂

  7. Richard

    Well, let's examine "realism'.

    I fought the 1991 Gulf War, in Iraq and Kuwait ( note: Desert ) wearing woodland pattern BDU's issued to me in Germany. Supposedly the most advanced Army in the world and a LOT of us did not even have the right camouflage.

    They even had us make mud and rub it all over our woodland painted Humvee's to give them "camouflage".

    Enough said? I think showing a unit with uniforms in an "off color" ADDS realism. Maybe your protagonist has never seen what happens to fatigues when they are washed…a lot. I can remember looking in formations at new and worn Woodland BDU's standing right next to each other that did not even look like the same cammo any more.

    From a more historical viewpoint, can you imagine someone complaining that an American Civil War confederate unit had the wrong grey?

    As a side note, one day I am going to do a diorama of a bunch of 1991 US troops in woodland BDUs rubbing "Beige" Mud on Humvees. lol

    1. jacobstauttener

      I would love to see that diorama if you ever get to it. 🙂

    2. Satyan Patel

      Thank you for your service and you are deadly accurate. I met a had a WW2 friend and i asked him tons of questions about this. He told me Sherman tanks were all different shades of greens, jeeps ripped apart and mashed together with different shades of green too to keep going. Heck he said many of them after their uniforms became tattered in the winter wore German boots that fit, German jackets and even used German weapons as for they were readily available with plenty of ammo left behind.

  8. Unknown

    Love the objective markers. Though I personally love the aesthetic of "historically close" troops, to me it is more important that my troops, board, terrain, objectives etc all look good together in a pallet that I like.

    1. David Cashin

      Sorry, I noticed I didn't really complete my thought. The point is you are the critic you need to satisfy, I tend to think we are harsher on ourselves than other people are.

  9. Richard Allan

    I'm a painter first and a gamer second. I paint 15mm FoW to be reasonably accurate but will bend things a bit to make things have more movement and to be instantly recognizable as to what they are. An example (for me) is a French helmet. I always stick a bit of blue in it. I make the fore and and caps dark blue and officers Kapi's blue with a red top. I make an infantry man's trousers slightly lighter and so on. What looks good to my eyes. Try to find opponents that are low in abject stupidity factor. Sorted.

  10. Sapper

    No matter what game you play there are always a few idiots that think they are experts. I think someone already said this but your miniatures are yours to do with as you please. I personally try to paint my miniatures as accurately as possible, but when it gets down to "wrong shade of x color" you have entered the twilight zone. Bottom line, have fun and do not play with unpainted miniatures.

  11. The Dale Wardens

    Are you just trying to wind people up? It's one thing to not have the exact colour of the mini uniform. Our group has a range of painters in it from artist level to a beginner whose german's unis are gray, boots black, guns silver, and skin painted. His tanks are one colour plain gray. He doesn't use shading, or paint any of the details. That's fine. On the table the coolness is in the mass effect of the company and tanks. He and all my buddies love the history part of the game.

    It's another to bring fantasy elements into a historical game. If we're doing D&D Battles, or Hoardes of Things, that stuff is great. Otherwise it might be seen as not showing respect for the subject matter. If you are not showing respect for something someone loves, don't be surprised at their reactions. You are prodding them. You. Prodding.

    It seems like you are trying to take the mickey on people.

    David S.

    1. jacobstauttener

      Hi David,

      The American uniforms were bright green because I painted them with what I had. This was during the time that Battlefront was back ordered on paint so getting the right colours was not possible at the time. The unit was painted and painted up well. When I took them to the club I was made fun of because of the colour and one person went so far as to tell me to repaint the models the proper colour and not to show people the unit until I have done so. If I was of a different mind, that comment alone could have turned me off the hobby. It is not a very welcoming comment.

      Most people love my objectives. I've been to Flames of War tournaments in two different cities with them and won best painted army at both clubs for my Germans. Always though, there is one to two people in the group less pleased with the objectives. Some voice that opinion and that is their's to have.

      One thing that does bug me is that people make comments on my American Uniforms being too bright or German tanks being too dark and then we end up playing a game of blue-on-blue or red-on-red. Always found that funny.

      I am there to play a game and at the end of the day, I hope that all around can enjoy the experience and have fun.

  12. Satyan Patel

    Anything goes. I don't care if you proxy with 40k figures and tanks, post it notes (yes I have played against, guy was new and wanted to try out) Legos (Yes I have the young gentelmen was living with his mom out of their car, and needed a place to stay warm a few hours a day), play with unpainted, painted, play with snap fit models, wrong size, or what ever floats ones boat. All I care is that the person plays with dignity and peace. Just play to play, have fun conversation and have a good evening.
    I work with veteran seniors from the Korean war, Desert Wars (Afghan, Iraq), Vietnam, and had a dear friend from WW2 and have always pestered them about situations (pinned, conditions, etc) and about the gear. They all same thing. Nothing looks like it rolled off the assembly line. Many armoured vehicles fade quickly, and many are painted in different shades. Like the front a light beige, paint ran out or cheap and rest painted with a hint of different shade of beige. They all tell me the same thing basically " You ain't worried about anything else but life or death. It's me or the enemy, by any means necessary." One WW2 vet told me numerous stories about his last defense… A shovel. I never realized how versatile a shovel can be.

  13. Hadrian

    If people want to play with historically correct lists and accordingly painted armies: fine. Let them.
    You don't have to play with them and they don't have to play with you.

    If i know beforehand that we play a "fun" match of Bolt Action then i wouldn't mind a Sigmar statute as objective or stuff like that. (I have an 1:72 Haunebu Nazi Ufo as objective or sometimes for air support for example.. Does it look awesome: hell yeah! Do i use it in every game? Ofc not because not everyone likes stuff like this and thats ok)

    But if we agreed to play a scenario taking place during the kursk offensive and i spent hours to prepare a historically fitting list then i wouldn't want to have "mythical" elements on the table, because it just kills the immersion.

    Both ways of playing the game(s) (same goes for FoW too ofc) are fun and the most important thing is communication between players so both can get enjoyment out of it.

    Painting is a bit harder though: In a semi-historical game like BA or FoW i expect at least semi-historical painted stuff. No Ultra Marines themed soviets or something entirely silly like that. If the colors are a little off from the original (which happend in RL alot anyway due to wear and sun and mud) then its np. The german splinter camo has no "rain drops"? Irrelevant. Its pink-red-blue instead of green-brown-beige? That would bother me to some degree.

  14. Richard

    I would never refuse to play against someone for something as petty as their army being the wrong colour – but then, I'm primarily a fantasy wargamer, with historical just being a little side-hobby.

    So long as a historical army looks right enough for what it's meant to be, then it's fine with me. I spent ages trying to work out the best mix for early-Great War German uniforms for my Warhammer Historical army, but I wouldn't object to playing against a similar army that wore ahistorical grey or brown. Orange or pink might be a bit too out there though…

    And, as for Nazis summoning nightgaunts? Cool as it is, it'd detract if I was playing the Battle of Carentan, unless I had Godlike-style super-powered Talents on my side.

    On a sidenote, if you ever want to make those paratroopers look less bright green, maybe dab on a bit of Dark Tone Quickshade from Army Painter? It'll take the edge off.

  15. Unknown

    It's a GAME. Not real. Use what ever paint scheme you want.

  16. jacobstauttener

    Great responses. Still haven't decided what colour to paint my Germans. Might be nor of a historical colour. We will see when I get to that project.

  17. Syrath101

    There's a reason I'm glad I own both the armies me and my friend play with.

    1. jacobstauttener

      It certainly makes it easier to control the aesthetics of the game if you own both forces. I like to buy two forces for every game so people can play without owning. 🙂

  18. Paul Sutcliffe

    I go so far as to say I prefer to play against a painted army. Ideally in something that looks vaguely right, i.e. a shade of green or grey or whatever it might need. It doesn't need to be an exact shade at all just so long as it looks ok. I'm not fussed about the webbing being painted accurately or anything like that and, that said, if my opponent doesn't have anything painted up yet then fair enough. Its a game at the end of the day and although I try to get things looking about right thats as far as I go.
    as an example, my british napoleonics are painted in red coats wth cream ish trousers and white strapping. I've had people say before that the shako plumes are the wrong colour or that i'm using an infantry banner on a cavalry model. I don't care. Its a massive flag, it looks good, job done. Aesthetics are nice and all but not vital.

  19. Nicholas Caldwell

    I've been playing historical and a-historical games since the mid-80s and the historical gamer who complains that "the facings aren't the right color" has always been held up as a figure of ridicule and derision. I have no problem at all with "the wrong shade of green". And I personally love the German occult army and would be happy to play you. However, regarding the objective markers and the tournament I think you are getting some pushback because you are breaking a social contract. That contract is "in this game, we're playing WW2". Cthulhu, sadly, is not part of WW2. It's outside the bounds of what everyone else agreed to. Now, if on the other hand, you were to say to me "Hey, I have an alternative history campaign going – do you mind if I bring Cthulhu along?" then that's perfectly cool. Likewise, I think if you took this army to a Konflikt '47 game it'd be fine. That's already alternative history. I guess my point is that when you get right down to it — why do we have miniatures instead of cardboard counters? It's to increase that sense of immersion in a shared reality. To use an analogy – it's like pointing out that all the special effects are fake while you're at the movies. Of course they are – but for right now I want to believe them. The annoyance from some of your opponents is coming from those objective markers disturbing that shared reality they wanted to experience.

  20. Anonymous

    As a previous poster said, an application of Army Painter Dark Tone quickshade or wash would be a fast, easy way to bring the American uniforms closer to the historical reality.

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