Battle Report – “Climb To Glory” – Skirmish Sangin

This week’s battle report takes us back to Bazistan. The last few battles have been pretty Special Forces heavy so this time we’re going to get the regulars on the table. This is also a chance to play some Skirmish Sangin without a giant plane sat across most of the table. Anyway, on with the battle report!

The contested zone between Bazistan and Aden has been the site of several attempts by international agencies in improve local conditions. One attempt in the 2000’s was the establishment of the Bazistan Agricultural College, including a modern educational building in the contested zone. The compound, co-sponsored by the Argo Corporation, would provide technical help to the locals farmers as well as a testbed for new techniques and varieties. Unfortunately, the building was started just before a rise in violence between the local tribes and the governments and so was left abandoned. The local farmers took over the fields around the building shell and continued to till the ground.
Unfortunately, the building, among others in the valley, have been taken over by one of the insurgent groups in region to use as staging positions when moving supplies and personnel into Aden. ISAF-AP have spotted the activity in the region and have ordered elements of the 3rd BCT, 10th Mountain Division to move down the valley. Starting the operation in the early hours of the morning, dawn is approaching by the time the first troops reaches the Bazistan Agricultural College.


The Americans in this battle were formed up in two groups:

Alpha – Squad Leader and two fireteams with the usual mix of weapons (Two M4s, a M4 with UGL and a M249). One of the riflemen is replaced by a marksman with his M21.

Bravo – Team leader, Combat Lifesaver, grenadier and M240 medium machine gun team. All of these are mounted in a M-ATV with a HMG

The objective for the US Army troops were simple – secure the area, destroy enemy assets and limit friendly casualties. These guys are the forward edge of a search and destroy mission.


The opposing force in this battle was one of the militia groups in Bazistan that has taken advantage of the porous state of the border. Several small groups were scattered around the main buildings with a mix of weapons from assault rifles up to RPGs (including a RPG 29). There were also a set of technicals, with two of them carrying HMGs to add some fire support. Two more acted as objectives.

The insurgents have also setup the area for defence. They have placed some small but potent IEDs in some of the fields (in order to take out people trying to sneak into the area). Additionally, mortars in other strongpoints are available to call in (assuming a forward observation roll is passed).

For this mission, the Insurgents know that the Americans are in the area. They are preparing to fire a rocket barrage from their technical which is a little unreliable. This is also a delaying action, so causing casualties to the oncoming force will give other strong points more time to prepare their defences. Evacuating supplies and fighters is also recommended.

This battle begins just after dawn. The American offensive began before the sun rose, with small units working quickly and quietly to overcome positions at the start of the valley. Just off-board, Alpha dismounted from their MRAP and began their advance on foot, trekking up to the edge of the wadi. On the road, Bravo moved slowly, looking for a good position to support the assault.

Inside the college grounds, the insurgents were preparing the rocket pod pulled from a Bazistan Hind. Although the system for firing had been used before, it was never 100% reliable.

The M-ATV arrives with the gunner swinging to aim at the shell of the Agricultural College.

A better view from above shows Alpha set up near the wadi while Bravo sat in their M-ATV (their presence in the drainage ditch is an illusion).

Eager to get in the fight and keep pushing forward, Bravo’s driver put his foot down and floored it. As they rolled down the road, the gunner shouts “CONTACT” after spotting two of the sentries close to the turning into the compound.

Hearing the news over the radio, Alpha decided to stay in the wadi and put the fire down, rather than the original plan of assaulting the compound. The marksman in the squad quickly found a target on the roof and, in an excellent bit of marksmanship, dropped him with a single shot. This alarmed the RPG wielding fighter behind him, who is suddenly distracted from the oncoming M-ATV to evade bullets.

However, the insurgents closer to the road were all ready to take on the armoured truck rolling towards them. One of the DSHK technicals rolled onto the road while the RPG-29 gunner set himself up ready to fire. At the same time, the M240 team disembarked from the MRAP and began to set up their machine gun.

Before anyone could take their shots, one of the grenadiers in Alpha dropped a 40mm grenade straight onto the technical. This blast ripped the vehicle apart and rendered it combat ineffective. While the crew dived for cover amongst the wheat field, many of the other fighters were disheartened.

However, the RPG gunner on the roof was more on the game and sent an RPG round flying towards the target. Despite the huge size of the vehicle, he missed sending up a plume of smoke next to vehicle. The shot wasn’t entirely ineffective though – the blast rattled the crew inside causing them to be stunned in place.

Two insurgents attempted to outflank the MRAP by moving along the drainage ditch, careful to keep out of the firing arc of the M240. However, Bravo’s grenadier (sat in one of the passenger seats) spotted the oncoming threat. In one swift move he disembarked, spotted the oncoming threat and took out both fighters with a single 40mm grenade.

The two lead sentries, shocked by the arrival of the M-ATV, had gone to ground in the crop field. For a few activations they were hidden away until Alpha spotted them and opened up with the M249.

Back on the road, things were not going well. After seeing the original RPG 29 gunner get cut down, another insurgent rushed to pick up the dropped launcher. Barely pausing, and limited by his skill with heavy weapons, this plucky insurgent sent another round towards the vehicle. Sadly it was ineffective causing nothing more than another nasty fright for the crew in the MRAP. Return fire cut this have-a-go-hero before he could reload.

I haven’t got a huge number of photos of this but throughout the game, Alpha squad were racking up a massive bodycount. Rather than advance, they simply sat back and used their high rifle skills and night vision to spot enemy targets an engage. The photo shows one of the main threats to them, a PKM team in the front building, after it was engaged by multiple LMGs, 40mm grenade rounds and assault rifles.

After an aborted attempt, the rocket pod suddenly sprung to life. With a plume of smoke and a scream of rockets, the insurgents completed one of their objectives by sending its deadly payload into the bulk of the American offensive.

Around the same time, a plucky insurgent armed with an RPG attempted a hit and run on the MRAP. This shot also missed but it did make the M-ATV realise that it maybe should move before one of the rounds actually caused some damage.

Having seen the rocket pod go off, the Americans were desperate to engage and destroy the launcher before it fired again. This lead to a rather hilarious situation where almost two full squads engaged an empty vehicle and managed to do nothing more than add some ventilation holes, wreck the interior and blow big chunks of dirt up.

On the other flank, the green technical had been attracting ineffective fire from Alpha while distracting them from the escaping supply truck. As the rounds got closer, the technical decided to back up.

“What’s that Abdul, there’s Americans around here?”

The M-ATV hammered away with it’s .50cal, turning the vehicle to mincemeat and igniting the ammo.

With only two fighters left, Alpha and Bravo decided to roll forward and begin clearing out the college building. However, tragedy unfolded when the M-ATV decided to cut through one of the crop fields. With a deafening bang, one of the IEDs detonated and ripped through the crew compartment, completely destroying the vehicle. Having not taken a single casualty all game, two soldiers were now dead and an expensive vehicle was now wrecked.

However, the Americans had forced the insurgents from this position and the road was now open for the rest of the offensive to move forward. At the same time, despite massive casualties, the insurgents had fired their rocket barrage, evacuated their supply truck and caused casualties amongst the American forces.

Overall it was a really fun game. BLUFOR managed to get fire superiority and keep it through most of the game. Playing as the insurgents, I think I fixated too much on the M-ATV rather than trying to engage Alpha. It was a real shame that my off-map mortar were not called in – I guess they had an issue (possibly the kicking off for a new scenario perhaps). At the same time, I managed to hit all of my objectives which is new! It’s also really different to play with more Average troops having been running the demo game with Special Forces. There were more missed shots than I was used to (even with one of my opponents using his magic dice) which led to a few outrageous shots.

Having not run a game at the club since January, I really miss the different feel that you get from running demo games. It’s a bit more relaxed despite having less time to play. So expect a game in April – perhaps this one will be run with more than a week’s worth of planning.

Impressions: Empress M-ATV

One key symbol of the Ultramodern era has been the rise of Mine Resistant vehicles. As improvised explosive device usage increased in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the classic Humvee and Land Rover became unsafe for use by troops on patrol. The MRAP program worked to fix this, creating a selection of vehicles that able to better protect the crew from most IEDs. However, these vehicles were top heavy and less manoeuvrable than the vehicles they replaced, which especially caused issues in Afghanistan. To find a midpoint between the MRAPs and Humvee, Oshkosh developed the M-ATV. For wargamers wanting one of these vehicles on the tabletop, Empress has two versions of this kit available from their store.

As with most Empress vehicle, the M-ATV is combination of resin and metal pieces. Most of the body is big chunks of resin such as the crew cab and chassis while finer details are made of metal. Although there are no instruction provided, assembly is easy enough. Overall the quality on the casting is really nice. I don’t recommend it for newbies though – there were a few gaps to get filled once assembled, especially on the join between the cab and the chassis.

Once all the resin is in place, it’s time to add the details. All of these details are easy to fit, with careful cut outs and placement guides to make assembly simple. This adds on everything from the cameras required for manoeuvring the vehicle to the steps needed to climb up to the doors.

And here is the finished vehicle. Like all my vehicles, it got a desert tan spray and a wash, as well as copious amounts of drybrushing to give it the dirty look. I think my washing brush was a little bit dirty so I might re-do the paint job at some point. However, for now I’m pretty happy with it.

From the rear angle you can see the cargo bay (waiting for me to prepare all the stowage for it). Many of the details on back are siting positions for aerials. You could add these yourself to make the vehicle look even cooler but I think they would last the grand total of 5 seconds before I’d snap them off.

First up, lets see the vehicle against infantry. As you can see, it really towers over them, no matter what brand they are. I really don’t fancy dropping from the crew cab to the ground when disembarking.

Lets take a look at some vehicles performing similar roles – vehicles designed to carry a HMG and a small number of people. As you can see, the M-ATV towers over the Empress Humvee and Technical from Spectre.

I was really surpsied just how bulky the M-ATV is compared to the Challenger 2. The MBT looks almost sleek and speedy.

If you hadn’t guessed, I really like this vehicle. It required a few little tweaks when building but the final effect is awesome. It’s also a very practical vehicle to pick up. Rather than tanks and APCs, the M-ATV and other MRAPs are a relatively common vehicles after their deployment, meaning it will get a lot of use without overpowering every game it gets into. The price is also pretty reasonable for the vehicle – it’s not quite as detailed as a model kit but it’s definitely designed to be a playable game piece like all of Empress’s stuff. One thing I would like to see is a version (or an addon) including the CROWS remote weapon system, which became very common as time moved on.

In fact I liked the kit so much I bought a second one – come back in a few weeks to see my attempt to build the M1245 SF vehicle based off the M-ATV. As for this vehicle, come back on Friday to see it in action.

So that’s talking about the kit. As it comes out the box I think it’s fine but there were a couple of tweaks I did to the vehicle while assembling it. Inspired by some points raised on the Queeg’s rather excellent work on them, I decided to do some adjustments. Now, I’d safely say my hobby skills are journeyman level – not complete beginner but not great. Some of these tweaks look a little rough (especially compared to the Queeg’s stuff) but it was fun to do.

First up, the rear cargo bed. Technically the bed on the Empress version is way too low. It doesn’t provide the same amount of travel on the wheels. However, increasing the height would require adding more details such as the suspension. I’m not that fussed so I decided to raise that vehicle up. I assembled several panels of plasticard to raise it to the correct height, including pips for the locator lugs.

The second tweak was to fill in part of the gap between the rear cargo bay and the main cab. I wasn’t a huge fan of the gap and reference photos seem mixed on how much space there was on the real vehicles. I decided to fill the gap entirely and extended the storage bins backwards. This gives me a larger area to fill with kit once I’ve divvied up my stowage between this one and it’s brother coming soon.

Another tweak was adjust the turret. After clearing the turret of flash, it sat flush with the top of the cab. However, the cab has a lip that was colliding with the bottom of the HMG mount. To fix this, I made a shell out of plasticard to sit in the bottom of the turret well and just make it smoother to turn.

Finally, purely for a visual improvement and based on a stock photo I had seen of the M-ATV, I added some mesh panels to the site. This just makes the rear cargo bay look a bit more practical than it would be if left empty without filling it with plain storage boxes. This mesh was made out of an old sieve, with some careful clipping to avoid sending bits of metal flying round the room. This was then glued into place to the existing frame.

That’s it for the M-ATV but as I mentioned I’m converting a second M-ATV to SF standard. Expect more details in an upcoming article.

Wargaming Week 19/03/2018

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 11th through to the 18th of March.


This week’s post is took a look at 4Ground’s truly titanic Pylon. This wasn’t the post I originally planned to release but unfortunately I managed to lose the recently repaired barrel on one of the Spectre Green Beret guys and didn’t want to do an impressions piece on a partial squad. On the other hand, the pylon is a fantastic piece of scenery. Not sure it’s going to to be used a huge amount but it’s definitely something that screams “modern day” more than anything else.

This week is a double post week – I’m still deciding what exactly is going to be Wednesday’s post (from what’s on my workbench) but Friday will be a new battle report for Skirmish Sangin. I’m getting a few new toys on the table for it.


A little quieter on the news front – main thing is the T14 from Empress is now released and on their store on the vehicles page.

There is also a quite interesting terrain project kicking off on GoFundMe. Panda City One looks like it’s going to be a really simple way of building a large urban environment to the exact specification you want. These blocks are similar to KoD’s Tabula Rasa range in that they are designed as a starting point – once the core structure is assembled, there are lots of opportunities to extend them, in both dimensions and style. There is also some larger multi-storey buildings, complete with access to the individual floors. I’m interested in this project – just have to work out which package to choose! Again, it’s URL is at


No gaming in the last week – work has been a kicker. I did however manage to get down to the wargames club to pick up some bases. While I was there, I did notice this rather nice board being run by Angus (of various historical writings fame) featuring some piratical looking chaps. You can see his report over at his site, Edinburgh Wargames.

As said above, I’m running a game this week at the club using Skirmish Sangin. Not 100% finished planning but the current thinking is a US Army squad raiding an insurgent position in the badlands of Bazistan.


After last week’s pile, nothing this week.


The Hammerhead Empress Order arrived on Monday. As part of it, a second M-ATV arrived. I love just how colossal these vehicles are and so my plan with this second one is to build it as a M1245 vehicle. These share the same basic chassis but with some major changes to the rear section. Luckily I have a stockpile of plasticard, some handy reference photos and a few days off work just before Easter where I’ll be building up the armoured cargo section. There was a lot of resin cut away, including the wheel arches (which are a different style to the standard M-ATV). Here is to hoping I can reassemble it into something cool looking!

So here is my workbench on Sunday night. As you can see, there is a big pile of figures waiting to based up – both Empress’s Taliban (they got bikes) and White Dragon’s new Courage in Contact models. Expect some impressions on them coming cool. The Courage in Contact guys are especially interesting and getting them done should be pretty exciting.

That’s it for this update, expect more updates next week!

Impressions: 4Ground Pylon

Sometimes, you buy some practical MDF buildings that are used every game. Things like adobes or french farmhouses or other staples whose presence is almost mandated on every game board. However, once in a while you spot something while surfing the web that cries out as something a little special. True, it may not get used quite as much as the old stand bys. But when it does come out, it’s going to draw eyes to the table. 4Ground’s Pylon is one such item – by literally towering over the table.

Photos taken after building due to failure to plan ahead

This is my first 4Ground kit so I wasn’t 100% on what to expect. It’s a mixture of MDF and greyboard. Both come pre-painted on the sprue, with only minimal cleanup needed (including a bead of paint on the back of the greyboard where it had pooled). Unlike some kits, this one comes with an indepth doubled sided instruction sheet, making it very easy to assembly. In total, it took me about an hour and a half (with breaks for glue to dry) which was pretty impressive. I only had two slight annoyances. The first is having to bend the greyboard around the edges, which lead to multiple cuts going slightly awry. The other are the wire coils – they are only held on by three little bits of glue. Luckily the pack comes with a few spare ones just in case accidents happen.

The fact it’s pre-painted is especially cool, meaning that for once I might actually get an MDF monstrosity on the table relatively quickly (unlike the various warehouses I have lying around). The paint job is good enough to get it on the board, but I’m sure many wargamers will want to spruce it up a little bit – I’m thinking of hitting it with a light drybrush to make it a little more sandy.

One quick note before photos – this is the first item which actually shows off how slanted the floor in my flat so any thing not looking flat is probably more due to the board board not being entirely horizontal.

Now it’s finished I can’t get over just how tall it is. It’s very different from someone saying “oh it’s 540mm tall” and actually seeing it assembled. It’s pictured here next to a few small items and it entirely dwarfs the Supreme Littleness buildings.

To help make the pylon more than just something to fill up space, it has an inspection platform part of the way up the tower. This can be access by a ladder, which can be removed from it’s holding slot to extend to the floor. It’s safe to assume these guys will be getting the max possible elevation bonus.

Finally, one last shot to show how even the base is pretty massive. Seriously, it dominates this 2′ x 2′ board. This is one item you definitely will not be buying multiples of, unless you happen to have a truly titanic board.

At the moment, I haven’t glued the two main sections of the pylon together so I can actually easily store the thing. HOWEVER, I recommend drilling some pin holes to add some extra structure to the join. Otherwise, the top part WILL fall off when knocked and it WILL break some of the black elements off. Trust me on this.

I can’t say that everyone should buy one of these things. If you play on a tiny board, it might be a little much. But, if you want to make a desert board look a bit more populated or increase the verticality of you board, I can recommend the pylon. It’s a reasonable price for a lot of MDF and the fact it’s pre-painted shouldn’t worry people too much. That said, it’s really up for you to decide if you want to spend this much on something that won’t get used that often. You can find it on the 4Ground store here.

Wargaming Week 12/03/2018

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 5th through to the 11th of March.


Last week saw two posts, looking at the latest changes to the demo game and then finished off by looking at the new Eureka Modern Brits in Osprey kit. The “two post process” seems to have worked out this time so I’ll be continuing to do that in the future.

As for this week, only one post so you’ll have to wait until Friday.


Picture from Empress Miniatures

First up, Empress had a few announcements through the week. There are a few more HLBS releases now in the Empress store but the big news (both in terms of importance and actual size) was showing off a new vehicle for the Modern range. As you can see above, the reveal showed off a 28mm scale T-14 Armata. If you don’t know, this is Russia’s recently revealed super tank which is the first of a new generation of armoured vehicles, with advanced tech and an unmanned turret. This is probably the most ultramodern vehicle you could release and I can see it being a popular seller for people wanting something different supporting their Russian ground forces. According to the announcement, expect it in the next week.

Picture from Sarissa Precision

The second news (which ties into purchases section) was that Sarissa have released the new range of Colonial/MENA buildings they teased a few weeks ago. The entire 20mm range is now available in 28mm, including some larger buildings and destroyed versions of all of them. More details below!


Picture from White Dragon Miniatures

And of course after writing the post and about to turn in for the evening, White Dragon Miniatures release their new range. Courage in Contact’s first release is 7 packs of British Infantry, with a vast selection of kit. You can also pick from three different heads (Mk6, Para or Mk7 with Scrim) which should make it easy to assemble cool looking force. As well as the individual packs, there is also a platoon pack option for each helmet type with a slight discount. Interestingly, all the packs are listed as Vehicle Dismounts – this may point to future releases coming equipped with equipment more suited for a foot patrol.


No gaming yet – however, plans have been made for another moderns game on the 22nd so time to write the scenario up. It might involve the subject of this week’s article.


Picture from Sarissa Precision

Sarissa’s new stuff. I love this style and I’ve really needed some more “upmarket” and larger buildings for Bazistan. The new range is spot on for what I need and should make the more urban areas feel more interesting and different from the classic “board of Adobes” that the games have mostly been. So I’ve ordered buildings perfect for the marketplace of a district hub. I’m going for the intact ones but I could see picking up the damaged ones for possible future shenanigans.

I’ve also grabbed something from 4Ground. I could say what it is but I don’t want to spoil the surprise. It should be a quite dramatic addition to the tabletop.

As you might have guessed, I’ve also picked up Courage in Contact to take a look at it, I’ve gone for a mix of Para and Mk7 helmets to add some variation to the force. I’m looking forward to taking a look at this new style of figure.


Main thing this week was getting all of the Eureka Brits painted up. I think this is the most I’ve finished in a week. The main reason is painting DDPM – my method is super simple so rather than taking the hours that 20 figures in multicam would take, DDPM (thanks to being only 2 colours) took much less time. Probably the most annoying part was coming back at the end to fine line the helmet netting. These guys are not going to win any painting medals but perfectly show off the style of my collection – finished, on the board and good looking from tabletop height.

This is still WIP but I’m finally getting round to using Spectre’s range of barriers. I’m always split on how to use small scatter items – keep them loose for the most options or base them to prevent careless hand knocking the board around. After some thinking, I’ve decided to base them. I’m going with the same scheme as my demo board items for the base (plasticard base, polyfilla and sand, spray paint) and the attach the grey painted items on top before drybrushing them both. Once these are done, expect me to base up the taller barricades.

With the White Dragon releases, I’m also looking at my Empress British Army figures which may need repainting for the inevitable Brit Forces comparison.

That’s it for this update, expect more updates next week!

Impressions: Eureka Modern British

One of the first projects that got me into wargaming was building up a platoon of Brits ready for operations. These inital guys were from Empress and, I’ve got to say, it’s a pretty definitive range if you’re wanting to play battles from 2010 onwards. However, the War on Terror saw some pretty major changes in the British Army’s equipment so what works for 2010 are not suitable for players wanting to run battles in 2006 or earlier. Which is why, when the Eureka Modern British were first shown off, I was very interested in picking up the range to add to my collection.

The new range is currently 20 figures, consisting of three standard fireteams (2x L85s, L85 + UGL and LMG) and a selection of heavy weapons and specialists. The figures are all kitted up for the starting period of the War on Terror, with Mk 6 helmets, Osprey vests and not a rail in sight. The figures are sculpted by Kosta Heristanidis and packed full of his style (not heroic but with some of the guns slightly oversized for easy readability) with plenty of detail. There are some really nice little bits on detail on the figures, such as knee pads around the ankle. They also scale pretty well with other Eureka figures (such as the ANP I use in every comparison) and other ranges. Expect a more in-depth size/kit comparison once I repaint my Empress guys.

As for painting these guys, it was really simple. There is plenty of detail for the final wash to pickup. My DDPM recipe is really simple (Iraqi sand base, Beige Brown applied in sweeps) so painting this block of 20 didn’t take anywhere near as long as certain OTHER camo schemes. It’s probably not the most accurate way of painting it (I won’t be winning any awards) but it does help to evoke the camo pattern. The only right pain when finishing them off was painting up the helmet netting. Although annoying, I think the final effect makes it worthwhile.

The first fireteam has the chaps posed in an advancing state, while moving under fire.

The second team has engaged and are in firing poses. LMG and an AR are firing from the shoulder while the UGL gunner has learnt forward to engage. The last figure is in a crouched position.

Finally the last team will be useful for anyone wanting to deploy their team before the action starts. Weapons are held in the low ready state while three of the team have their heads on a swivel (the fourth seems to be checking something in his pouch)

To give your team some extra bite, there are several other weapon available. First up is some guys wielding the good old Gimpy. These figures are sold individually with two variants. Figure 1 is looking ally having taken off his shirt to beat the desert heat. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen some of the inspiration for this guy in the “British Army in Afghanistan” book I used as reference when painting. Figure 2 on the other hand is wearing long sleeves but seems to be a big fella (the sort you’d nickname Tiny) while firing the GPMG from the hip.I also like how both of these guys have pistols on their vests.

Another option is to give your team sniper support. This pack has two figures in it and a tripod for the sniper to rest his rifle on (not pictured). The sniper is armed with an Accuracy International rifle while his spotter is using his scope to assist. These guys would work great if mounted on a weapon team style base but also work well on individual bases.

The last pack available are four extra specialists. Two of the team are designed to counter any IED threat (one with Vallon sweeper and the other carry an IED jammer) while the other two give you figures for your platoon HQ. One of them is your radio man, while the other holds a 51mm platoon mortar in his hand.

So what do I think of the models? I really like them. The Eureka style is one I quite like and getting some Brits in it is great. There is something iconic about the look these figures are wearing and give me a good chance to paint something other than multicam. My only comment would be that producing three fireteams rather than four limits you to only one squad + fireteam of unique poses (assuming you don’t swap some guys out for the sweeper or a GPMG). However, I’m quite happy with the final result – expect to see these guys on the field standing in for the Republic of Aden’s Defence Force.

If you’re wanting a set of these for yourself, they are currently only available via email from Eureka but will be coming out on general release (meaning it should be available in the UK through Fighting 15’s) around Salute this year. Nic at Eureka also mentioned that the range will also be available with the guys wearing berets. I actually have a pack of the heads which were included and I really like the look of them… so I might have to pick up some more to round out the squads.

Operation Dragon’s Hoard: March Update

Last month saw Vapnartak and the first run of Operation Dragon’s Hoard for 2018. As you can see from my last post, there were one or two things I wanted to tweak after that run. Originally the plan was to spend the rest of February prepping the game ready for its run at Hammerhead and then have a full day giving a different crowd a chance to play it.

Well that didn’t happen. So instead, here is the update on what I managed to tweak coming into March.

You’ve already seen most of the detail on these buildings in my impressions piece. As much as I like the adobes, they are a little bit generic. These new building should help to give the OPFOR a bonus by giving them a height advantage. To fit the buildings in to the setting, I shifted the location slightly from random village in the desert to the outskirts of an abandoned oil facility. Much like the rest of the board, there was a lot of tan spray paint applied to give it the “dusted in constant sandstorm” look.

The bigger change was working on the plane. Up until this point, the only structural change I had made to it was the initial cuts to break it into five pieces (main body, nose, tail, wing, fuel tank). This was effective for gameplay purposes but it did give it the look of having just applied a hacksaw to it rather than ripped apart in flight. I’ll admit, battle damage is something that I always worry about – from my airfix days, it can be quite easy to go over the top and ruin it. Seeing as this had already been an expensive process already, the idea of having to redo the plane didn’t appeal. So, the plane was to go minimal – show off the impressions of lots of damage without completely shredding the plane.

Before applying dremel to plane, the first task was roughly working out the planned destruction I was going to cause. The background to the mission was that the plane went down in a storm. However, I decided to tweak it to make the downed plane a little more interesting. The new idea was to have it go down to a burst of cannon first stitching its way along the wing (possibly from the ZPU I have sat on my desk). The action plan was to rough up the broken edges of the plane with semi-random cuts, rough up the wing tips, expand the break on the wing to include a shell hole and then add additional damage to the right wing and right tail.

This was my first time using the dremel so took me a little while to get 100% comfortable with it, especially getting used to the safety concerns (always wear eye pro) and making sure not to run it late into the evening. However, it did make the job ridiculously easy. I managed to get all the cutting done really quickly. I would definitely recommend picking up a dremel for hobby projects – I’m going to be looking at some other cutting surfaces and tools to assist with it..

So key bits of cutting are:

  • Rough cuts at various angles along the hacksaw cuts – This was freehanded with only a limited amount of planning to give a semi-random look to it.
  • Deeper cuts on the wing tips and right hand tail plane – Designed to show ground damage and debris
  • Expanding damage on the wing break – So that it tied into the new story, I created an entry and exit point of an AA shell.
  • Additional damage – I took a chunks out of the broken wing to show additional damage. Some of this gap was then filled in with tin foil to show crumpled metal rather than just a void.
  • Shell holes – to add detail, I sunk a drill bit in a straight line through various points around the right wing. I then extended the exit hole for dramatic by putting the dremel in and then cutting out slots in a radial pattern to give the impression of an explosion. The cutting left some unevenly sized bits of plastic, giving the impression shredded metal and broken structural elements.

Once the cutting was done, it was painting time. Two different metallic paints were roughly applied, in slightly different quantities. The second coat was applied relatively watered down and then dabbed away to give a little bit of a less defined edge to it. To finish off, the usual drybrush of Iraqi Sand as my hobby sensei taught me.

Seeing as there is no show to recap, we’ll jump ahead to future plans. Although I’d be happy to run the game as-is, I think there are still a few tweaks to do to the plane. The big thing is building up the internal structure of the wings. This will be done in two parts. First up is adding new bulkheads of plasticard to prevent vision straight down the entire wing section. The next will be adding plasticard sections into the shell holes, giving the impression of bracing structs. I’ll also be adding some thin wire to represent the cabling. I’m also planning to do something to add more junk to the cargo bay. There will also be another round of painting, with the aim to neaten up the blast marks as well as adding some oil smears and other effects. Finally, some general maintenance to fix up any chipped paint and make sure it looks the best it can be.

Next update will be after Hammerhead. Expect some minor tweaks before it but honestly, I’m pretty happy with how the board is going to look. Once Hammerhead has been run, I think I can call this demo game a success.

…. and then start planning the next one with a year and a bit to do it in.

Wargaming Week 05/03/2018

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 26th of February through to the 4th of March.


Last week saw an exclusive first look at a new product on the market, Supreme Littleness Design’s new Tower Block setup. Its been really cool seeing the prototypes come out of Mike’s lab as he’s been working on them and getting to build and paint a set ready for game on has been great. I’m already planning out how to use them in the next trip to Bazistan.

In case you missed it, this last weekend didn’t see me heading down to Hammerhead as planned. Unfortunately, thanks to the Beast from the East, Hammerhead was re-scheduled to April 28th. On the one hand, it was a real shame and I’m sure lots of traders are missing out on the opportunity. On the other hand, I’ll get another month and a bit to getting everything ready for it.

This week is a twofer – you’ll be seeing an update on Operation Dragon’s Hoard on Wednesday (much shorter than originally planned) followed by an impressions piece on Eureka’s new British Infantry on Friday.


Photo from Empress

It was supposed to be Wargames Show week! Which means time for new releases from Empress Miniatures. The first announcement from Empress was adding a new pack to the range. These mercs look somewhat expendable and should be a few interesting characters to add more cinematic missions. Also any pack of figures with an AA12 totting operator in is one I like. These guys are on the Universal Range page for anyone interested in having their own team of tiny action heroes.

Photo from Empress

Announcement 2 was an extension to the Empress Universal range. The new set of heads are wearing military caps, making them perfect for a variety of roles from Afghan National Police to Central American military. The announcement also mentioned moving into some new body variation as well as a new moderns range in a few weeks. I’ve got some guesses on what it might be but no matter what it is, I’m sure it’s going to be exciting

Photo from White Dragon Miniatures

The other announcement is that White Dragon Miniatures are really close to a release for their Courage in Contact range. Seven packs of Modern Brits have been shown off in the Modern Miniature group, with a nice mix of weapons and poses. I’ll be picking up the range, so expect my thoughts on them once they arrive.

Photo from TTTS

Table Top Tactical Simulations, who have a pretty nice range of US Army and OPFOR figures, have shown off some more details on their upcoming Kickstarter. Based on funding from it, they will be releasing both 2 1/2 ton trucks (with variants) and 5 ton trucks (also with variants) as well as a JLTV. Military trucks are always a pain to find and having a selection of them with variants should be great for the community. I’m already thinking of possible scenarios for them.


No gaming sadly – all that build up for Hammerhead and then bang, wargames blue balled due to (admittedly a huge amount of) snow.


I’ve got an order in with Empress. As well as their new team of mercs and some universals for use with the caps (after all, local police need some new officers), I’ve also gone in deep with their Taliban range. Up until this point I hadn’t picked up their range due to owning the Eureka and Radio Dishdash fighters but seeing as the plan for this year is to focus on Bazistan, I’m going to need a lot of


So the focus of this week was getting stuff ready for Hammerhead. There will be more of a post on Wednesday going into more detail but the bulk of the work was getting the plane more banged up and the new buildings assembled. Sneak preview above.

The other thing I’ve started work on is the Eureka modern British. These guys are perfect for 2000’s Brits and so I’m looking forward to getting them painted up. Thankfully, my recipe for DDPM is super simple so I should be able to get them done to a standard I like pretty quickly. Expect photos soon!

That’s it for this update, expect more updates next week!