The Plastic Soldier Company in the UK have created a new game for miniature tabletop gamers and military vehicle enthusiasts. It’s called Battlegroup NorthAG. The game is set in Europe in 1983, in a fictional Cold War Heats Up scenario. The idea is that the Soviets, with their client states of the Warsaw Pact, roll into Western Europe, in hopes of taking all territory East of the Rhine River and defeating NATO forces there to defend that ground.
Battlegroup NorthAG refers to the Northern Army Group (NorthAG) that the British Army were part of in 1983. A Battlegroup is a 100 to 400 man (or thereabouts) force, a mix of armor, infantry and support troops.
Luckily, this war never happened. But I did do my basic training for the Canadian Army in 1983, so I’m rather glad it didn’t happen. I’m sure most everyone is glad of the fact! I went on to serve 10 years as a Canadian Army Officer, but I was a wargamer, too, and I remember the sand table at the Royal Military College of Canada where we played this sort of scenario for forces in that period. At the time, we used GHQ and C-in-C 1:285 scale vehicles. Good fun. Good training.
You can print 1:144 scale vehicles and terrain for use with Battlegroup Northag. The largest selection of modern vehicles come from m_bergman on Thingiverse, but you will have to adjust the size from 1:100 to 1:144 scale. https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3766220.
Buildings, other terrain pieces (like roads, bridges, trees, hedges) can be printed as well. Simply scale to fit 1:144 scale.
What’s Compelling About Battlegroup NorthAG?
Other companies have created 1980’s era wargames, but most have concentrated on the 1:100 (or 15mm) scale. The models are large enough to have a good amount of detail, and making, painting and detailing them can be a true model making experience. Any smaller, and you’d lose this aspect of the hobby, to some degree.
Battlegroup NorthAG does indeed go smaller. It is set at 1:144 (or 10mm scale). The tanks are, of course, about two thirds the size of the larger 1:100 vehicles from companies like Battlefront or Peter Pig Miniatures. Normally, a game designer would sacrifice this level of detail to reduce the price of individual models so that you could have more in your collection, and on the table. I don’t think that’s the case here.
Instead, ranges on the wargames table is the key. 1:100 scale seems to suffer from the “hub-to-hub” problem. To get your vehicles to fit on the table, you tend to find groups of 3 or more vehicles parked together like they were in a parking lot – wheel hub to wheel hub. In NorthAG, you have a similar number of vehicles and figures on the table, but they’re spread out more, as they’re smaller. It actually looks a lot more realistic.
The Battlegroup NorthAG Rules
The rules themselves for the game are good. They don’t try to be overly complicated, and they restrict your forces to something you, as a player, can handle easily. Games last anywhere from an hour and a half to three hours, with early games (as you’re learning) tending to take a little longer. In early games, as you’re learning, I recommend that you keep the forces small, and you don’t take anything complicated (like helicopters, anti-aircraft weapons, engineers, etc.) so that you can get the basics down.
The game is an I go, you go sort of game, with some ability to interrupt your opponent on his turn if you’ve planned ahead. For example, having an antitank missile team hiding in a hedge, waiting for enemy tanks to arrive can be the trigger to fire off the missile just as they crest the hill. It keeps both sides in the game, regardless of who’s turn it is. Play progresses back and forth until one side has lost enough forces to “break”, or withdraw from the field, signaling the end of the game and victory for the non-withdrawing side.
The best part of this sort of wargame is that in the end, no one gets actually hurt or killed, and you put the figures back in the box to play again another day.
Why 3d Print For Battlegroup NorthAG?
The game Battlegroup NorthAG is releasing with British BAOR (British Army of the Rhine) forces, versus Soviet Army forces. They have a nice mix of tanks, support vehicles and infantry to play with. What you won’t find is indirect fire weapons (like mortars or artillery). Due to the scope of the game, this sort of asset is far enough back to make it off the table. So you can use the resources, but you don’t need a model or models for them.
But NorthAG initially comes with Soviet and British forces for 1983 Europe. It’s likely that they’ll add US, West German, French and possibly other Soviet Warsaw Pact allies (like East Germany or Poland) quickly to round out the forces. But I was a Canadian Officer, and I want to play Canadians!! The Canadian 4th Mechanized Brigade Group were a component of US 7th Corps and wold have been in the fray relatively early on.
So to play my lovely Canadians, I’m going to have to print my own vehicles, but use British infantry from Plastic Soldier Company. I use the PSC infantry because I haven’t found any good modern figures that look good at this small scale. British forces had a different uniform to the Canadian one, but essentially the same weapons (FN rifles, Sten SMGs, some form of squad automatic weapon, and a GPMG). Add to that some form of Antitank Guided Missile (ATGM) and a man-portable Antiaircraft missile (MANPAD) and you’re good to go.
At the diminutive scale, weapons details are generally not that important. But having good looking figures is. That’s why I’ll use the PSC infantry and not print my own (until someone comes out with good looking 1:144 scale troops STLs).
A good unofficial resource for Battlegroup NorthAG for those armies not yet published can be found here:
Enthusiasts have come up with army organizations and equipment statistics for the game. They seem well thought out, and cover many armies outside of the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union.
Where Can I Find Good 3d Models For Battlegroup NorthAG?
You’ll find most of what you need on Thingiverse.Com. There’s a lot there, and remember, at the very small size of 1:144 scale, you need the shape to be good, but not necessarily all the details. Once painted and camouflaged, and a little dust added, you should have a hard time seeing them to begin with!
That being said, here are the vehicles I think would be useful for the Canadian 4th Mechanized Brigade Group in 1983 in Europe (West Germany, to be specific).
The Leopard 1A4 model is close enough to the Canadian Leopard C1 that at 1:144 scale, it should look good enough. This is the main battle tank of the Canadian Army in 1983. It’s a fast tank, low on armor, but houses the excellent British 105mm L7 cannon.
M548, M113, M577, Lynx
There are lots of vehicles in this pack of STLs from m-bergman. He’s got what we need for the Canadian Army, in that he has M113A2, M548 cargo carriers (maybe for an objective – not suitable for fighting troops) and the M577 command post (based on the M113 – also unlikely to be in the front lines, but too sexy to leave out).
The more important vehicle for the Canadians is the Lynx CRV (a command and reconnaissance vehicle) that we called the M113-1/2 (or M-one-one-three-and-a-half). Literally, that’s the model number!
The size of the original .zip file was too much for Thingiverse, apparently, so m_bergman has split up this collection into individual downloads. Scroll down on the Thingiverse.Com page to find the files for the vehicles you’re looking for, or as I did, grab them all!
One model of M113 that is essential for the Canadians is the M150. It’s a TOW missile launcher mount in the back of an M113. It’s hard to find a model for it, but thommo1137 has a nice one. You’ll need a few in your Canadian Army!
A great many of you would likely want to use US Army formations to play the game. I think it safe to say that PSC will release these models quickly. But if you want to play very soon, you can use these models to make your own forces.
M548, M113, M577, M1A1, Bradley, M901, M981, Stryker, LAV-25, LVTx
I’ve already mentioned this collection above for the Canadians, but there’s a lot more that’s useful here for the US Army. Bradley and M1 are in there for later than 1983, as is LAV and Stryker. There’s M901 Tow Under Armor, and a host of other useful vehicles. There are a few missing that could be of use, but there’s still a lot here.
Scroll down on the Thingiverse.Com page to find the individual links to each of the vehicles.
The main battle tank of the US Army in 1983 was the M60. M_bergman doesn’t include one in his collection, so this is a good one to add. It will form the backbone of your US Army forces (or Marines if you use them in some theater). The M60 has the same excellent 105mm L7 cannon as the Leopard 1.
MIM-72 Chaparral AA
Chaparral is a useful anti-aircraft missile carrier. The model comes with the carrier and the missiles separate (the carrier shown above). It’ll give your forces some protection from roving MiG fighter/bombers and Hind helicopters.
West German Army
Again, it’s likely that PSC will come out with West German forces rather quickly after the release of the main Battlegroup NorthAG game. But just as you may want to try your hand at some US or Canadian forces, there are some good models to make West German forces, too. West Germany would be defending its own ground in this conflict, so they’re motivated and well equipped. They have, arguably, the best tank in the world with the Leopard 2 and an excellent armored personnel carrier, based on the Leopard 1 chassis, called the Marder.
West Germany was just introducing the Leopard 2 to their army in this period. There’s weren’t many, but they did exist. They have an excellent new 120mm cannon that is still in use today.
This is the same model as mentioned for the Canadians above. The Leopard 1 is the mainstay of the West German Panzer units, so it’s an important model to have in the collection. Likely, it will feature heavily in a West German Army of 1983.
By Marc Michaud (sheptr)
This is fine vehicle set on a modified Leopard 1 chassis. It is a pair of 30mm antiaircraft weapons with a radar. It’s used to defend against helicopters and low flying attack aircraft.
Marder APC (and Roland AAGM Carrier)
By Franz Schaupp (hushhushrat)
The West Germans did use the M113 in some of their units (and I’d recommend the m_bergman collection for those), but they had many units equipped with the Marder APC too. It’s based, like the Gepard, on the Leopard 1 chassis, giving it superior mobility and protection.
This collection includes quite a few versions of the Marder, including a very useful Roland AAGM Carrier.
Luchs & Fuchs
The Luchs and the Fuchs are armored reconnaissance vehicles that were unique to the West German Army. They were unnervingly quiet from the front, and could sneak up on you (yes, I say this because it happened to me in 1987 in a forest near Fulda). Both are great to have in a West German Army force for Battlegroup NorthAG.
Scaling For 1:144 Scale Vehicles
It’s important to note that the models listed above are not made for 1:144 scale, ready to print right away. You’ll have to scale them slightly to get them to the right size. Take note of the scale that the creator says the model is when you download it. Then, once downloaded, load into your slicer (I use ChiTuBox) and scale the model to make it 1:144 scale.
|Original Model Scale||Factor to Scale To Get to 1:144|
I like to scale the model, then add supports and slice it, then save it for future use. Then, it’s ready to go any time I need it (no need to reslice it if it worked before).
Best of luck in your games, and thanks to Plastic Soldier Company for bringing out a really nice game. Battlefront NorthAG may be new, but it’s already one of my favorites!
Battlegroup NorthAG Website: https://www.battlegroupnorthag.com/
What is the difference between 10mm scale and 1:144 scale?
Any scale listed as a millimeter (or mm scale, like 10mm or 15mm) is a subjective scale. It means that, if a figure of a person were standing upright, the base of the foot to the level of the eye is that number of millimeters. So a figure that’s 15mm from base of foot to eye level is considered a 15mm figure. Why the eye? Because it removes the problem of how tall a person’s hat is!
A scale listed as a ratio (like 1:100 or 1:144) is a true scale. You can take a measure in real life and scale it down to the size of the model. For example, with a 1:100 scale model, one meter in real life is one hundredth of a meter (or one centimeter) on the model. We tend not to do this with people, as people are all different heights and sizes (but interestingly, model people all tend to be the same size!)
So 10mm is roughly the same as 1:144 scale, but 10mm is a subjective scale and 1:144 is a true scale.
What millimeter scales correspond to what true scales?
|Millimeter Scale||True Scale|
|6mm||1:300 or 1:285|
|10mm||1:150 or 1:144|
|20mm||1:76 or 1:72|