Impressions: Empress August Releases

Empress did a rather cool thing back in July and put out a list of things they planned to release. When I first saw it, I assumed we would see them dribbled out over a period of months. Empress instead dropped them all at once, leading to a rather exciting day watching the Empress Facebook page as lots of shiny new things were shown off.

For a change, I didn’t pick up all of the kits that were released; Empress also brought out a pack of pilots all ready to sit in 1:48 helicopters. As I’m currently focused on crashed aircraft right now, I didn’t see much need for this set. However, I’m tempted to pick up a Little Bird at some point and these guys would be perfect for it.

But for now, let’s focus on the guys sat on my desk.


TV Crew

TV Crews are an element that is always an interesting addition to the battlefield, often as a way of forcing some restraint on a more powerful force. Empress’s is perhaps my favourite rendition of this role with a fair amount of inspiration from the real world that a British tv watcher would recognise.

The pack contains two figures. The first is the bald-headed, sunglasses wearing presenter. He is wearing body armour and has a bare helmet under his arm. His cameraman is also wearing body armour and a helmet, with a shoulder rest camera and rucksack with all his gear

Both models are packed full of character. I only have one tiny issue and that’s the presenters nose. When it arrived it looked like it had been knocked off. I simply added a tiny blob of greenstuff to correct this. Apart from that, I really like this set. It should be handy to include in photos of the game and be a concern to the BLUFOR player. Although I get the feeling the presenter is well ‘ard and might have done some time with the SAS. Hopefully this is the first pack in a range that might include other figures in civilian roles such as photographers or journalists. They really help to bring the battlefield to life

Paint wise, the aim of the game was something deserty but not camo. Tans for everyone and blue vests to mark as civilians. Inspired by a photo online, I also free-handed “TV” in grey paint on the cameraman’s helmet to represent someone frantically taping identifying marks onto their helmet. It’s a fun detail no-one will notice except me but it’s still cool.

US SF Character

Empress already has a pretty fantastic range of figures suitable for the US Special Forces Community, from the Rangers to the US Frogman team and everything in between. Their latest release includes a character figure for the US teams but with an intriguing addition. In tribute to an iconic photo of an injured special forces soldier who has returned to the fight, this character has a prosthetic lower leg.

There are lots of little details easily visible, from the attachments on the gun to the NVG shroud on his fast helmet. Like the Rangers, the new character seems a little taller than some of the older US Special Forces figure. Much like the US Navy SEAL sniper from last year, he would be an ideal squad leader or to represent a more veteran soldier.

My figure is painted in multicam and three colour desert with tan gear, the same scheme I plan for the rest of my Empress Rangers. As for the leg, I went with a base metallic colour and then painted over the top in tan to represent a cover over it.

Universal Range

Okay, so here is the big one. Empress announced they were looking into making some third world armies which led to a flurry of questions based on what they would be like. Having now arrived, they are a neat combination of US gear and Russian weapons, very similar to the ANP models released by Eureka. I chose the MICH helmets as they are one of the most modern and western option but the M1 and Soviet helmet will be very useful.

The two packs currently available are split, with pack 1 being four riflemen and pack 2 being a pair of riflemen, a machine gunner and an RPG gunner. Details are super crisp, even down to buckles on the mag pouches. There is also some variation in terms of guns, with one of the rifleman having a folding stock AK rather than the standard one, an ideal chance to show off a squad leader or more veteran guy.

As with many Empress releases, most of the models look awesome and then there is one who just looks slightly off. The winner in this pack is the chap moving with gun down while reloading – with a minor tweak it would look really cool but at the moment he just looks really odd. The RPG and machine gun gunners are both moving – it would be nice to have them in a firing pose but that is what future releases are for.

I’m not 100% on the way they are selling them. Rather than offering heads and bodies separate, they are assembled into product codes combining bodies and heads. On the one hand, I can see the appeal for this. On the other, as someone with lots of spare heads from other upgrade packs (so many British helmets), this would be a cool way to be able to reuse them. It would be awesome to be able to pick up the heads separate, especially for people planning to build their own imagination. But no matter how they are sold, the combination of gear and guns make them a really cool idea while the separate heads gives you a huge amount of customisation.

As for me, these universals are going to represent the Bazi Army. This meant oldish AKs (hence the wood) combined with black MICH and 3 colour desert camo. These are the first figures I’ve actually done fully in this camo and I’m happy with the end effect. Requiring only three steps, it’s also a pretty easy camo to do. When more universal figures arrive, they will be swiftly joining the Bazi ranks. As for the heads, the plan for the Aden Defence Force (the British backed guys south of the border) will be British gear but MICH helmets. Hopefully I can pick up a few sets once they become available by themselves.


Overall, a really solid release from Empress. Rather than a simple expansion, most of the sets show possible future routes for Empress to go in. Universal have me really excited about the combinations we are going to start seeing people make, it now just needs more bodies. As for the TV crew, getting Empress’s excellent sculptor to start working on some civilian figures is a genius idea – more journalists would be a great way to bring the board to life. As for the SF figure? It’s something unique – I’m not sure many other companies would bring out a figure in this style. Of course, I’m now interested in see what comes next…

Skirmish Sangin – Plausible Deniability

Emergency post! You’re getting a post tomorrow but just been given the go ahead to talk about something cool.

Radio Dishdash has just announced the next Skirmish Sangin book entitled Plausible Deniability. Focusing on Special Operations, this book will have all sorts of stuff in it to expand Skirmish Sangin.

In addition some preview images are now available.

As you might have guessed from all of the Wargaming Weeks where the gaming portion read “writing stuff” this is the book I’ve been working on. I’m super excited to see it as it progresses and now we’re getting close.

The book’s release date is currently TBA. If you want more info, the best places to look are the Skirmish Sangin forum and the Radio Dishdash blog. More news coming soon but I’m super excited that I can now talk just a little bit about this project.

Wargaming Week 28/08/2017

Let’s start, covering the 21st of August through to the 27th of August.

BLOG STUFF

Battle report week! It wasn’t quite the game I was planning when I wrote out the scenario but it still ended up being great fun. It was also an exercise in speed writing as I managed to have the report written and released in just over 12 hours after finishing playing it. Which I’ll be repeating again this week.

Coming up on Wednesday is a quick overview of the last set of Empress releases and on Friday is another battle report. I’ll talk more about that in the gaming section

As a bit of an update for the blog, this month’s view count broke the 3000 mark, giving me an average views per day of more than 100. I can think of several reasons why this month got so many views (the 5 articles that made up the Cardiff update, the extra post weeks and the popularity of battle reports) but I’m really happy that people are reading my stuff.

GAMING

Last week I finally managed to play a game. The original plan was to run a massive 7 person game complete with factions backstabbing each other but I forgot the important wargaming rule – everyone is busy in summer. I still want to run the giant version but the little scenario I threw together ended up being quite fun. My opponent setup the US Army as a security element (just as planned) while the SF did the hard work. There were lots of places where if things had gone wrong, the US would have been slaughtered by HMGs and weapons of the militia. Getting my technicals blocked into the compound and the mercs fleeing before getting stuck in sadly lost me the game.

This coming week is going to see another incident in Bazistan. Pioneer Painting is looking to get his christmas presents on the table and who am I to not throw another scenario together. It’s going to be another game of Spectre so we can get a lot of toys on the table. I also don’t think I have too much to paint to get ready for it. Although I can think of two armoured things it would be cool to put on the table for the Kiwi’s to be rolling around in. Especially as I have a literal pile of RPGs to use. After all, the Geordiestan Ambassador needs fireworks to welcome him to the country.

PURCHASES

Nothing this week. The Empress figures arrived but expect more information on them in this Wednesday’s post

HOBBY

As I was running a game, it basically meant the week was spent frantically painting things to be ready for it. The big thing was actually pushing me into finishing off the pile of SUVs and Civilian cars that I had bought from Spectre a while ago and never actually finished painting. Luckily big brushes, solid colours and a lunch break or two finished it off. Still not happy with how I paint vehicles, I’m thinking of doing a complete repaint after I get an airbrush (hopefully after Christmas).

Yeah I know, I need to get a ruler

Needing some technicals for this week’s game, and with a pile of new weapons to build for the SF guys, I decided to do a rebasing spree. My original technicals were mounted on quite thin plastic sheets and so were starting to buckle under the weight. A second delivery of plasticard had given me one slightly thicker sheet and so, one lazy sunday afternoon, I got to work cutting it up into the irregular I-shapes that form the basis of my hot-swappable weapons. From this, I rebased all of my militia weapons. More details on the exact layouts will be coming in my SF technical article.

Speaking of technicals, I also got the first of the SF vehicles done. It performed admirably for its first game, not even blowing up. As I say above, I really don’t like painting vehicles. This was originally going to be plain black until I decided to “desert it up”. More details will be in the article on building all of my SF vehicles.

If you follow the Facebook page you might have seen a little melt down earlier this week regarding the Day of the Rangers models. I bought these guys in the kickstarter that ran last year but hadn’t got round to painting them. Deciding that I needed some guys for the pirates and Bazi Army, I decided to work on the Somalis and the US Rangers. On the positive side, the proportions on the models are fantastic – they look like tiny human beings. There is also a lot of fine detail in them, especially in the Somalis. But the more I worked on them, the more I got annoyed. Some of the posing is a little off, the guns are huge on them, there are giant (and very visible) mould lines including some across the face and the amount of flash that needed tidying up was ridiculous. However, I pushed on and got the Somalis painted. Thanks to them, I’ve found a recipe for painting African skin I’m a fan of and got to use some colours for a change. However, I was starting to get annoyed. I then started on the Rangers. Again, more flash to clean up. Then I applied the base colour for camo and noticed the rather terrible texture on many of the trousers. If one or two of the issues had been present, I’d have gritted my teeth and dealt without. With all of them, and experiencing the issue at 1am, I decided to cut my losses. The US Army replaced the Bazi in the game and the offending figures were put onto eBay. Someone will have a good time with them but I was so frustrated with them that I can’t keep them. The Bazi Army is going to be built from Empress’s Universal range (similar to the Bazi Police but in camo instead) and I’ll be going to either Spectre or Eureka for my African militia/pirate models. I’m sure many people would think these models are perfectly useable but they were just not for me.

Finally, I spent my saturday evening (in between blog writing) playing with green stuff. The main task was adding shemaghs to some of my Brits. The beret wearing squad needed to look a bit more ally and one or two specialists reccived some scrim. The biggest job is the gunner for the minigun. I want to be able to use him for some contracting shenanigans so I’m in the process of replacing the helmet with a baseball cap. It may not look great but I want to give it a go.


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

Battle Report: “Big Dave Must Die!” – Spectre Operations

Sometimes, pre-planning games don’t always go according to plan. On Monday, the game was a 7 person multiplayer game on a massive 6×8 table where every side had designs on Big Dave (mostly killing him). On Wednesday I had changed the sides. On Thursday morning, it was now going to be a much smaller game. When I got to the club, it had become a 1 vs 1 over a standard 6×4 board.

And honestly? It was a barrel of laughs that I enjoyed every minute of.


“Big Dave” was a Corporal in the Eritrean Army until he and his squad decided to cross the Red Sea and become a mercenary in the badlands of Bazistan. For the first few years he worked for the various factions before setting himself up as a pirate warlord. Due to his ongoing actions, his name and group quickly joined the list of targets of ISAF-AP seek to remove from the region.

Today, his number has come up. US Army Special Forces Command has dispatched an 8 man team (along with a US Army Security Element) to the small town where Big Dave holds sway. They seek to capture but if no other option is available, deadly force is authorised.

The American Force consisted of two parts: The team of 8 elites in a Razor and a SF Pickup and their Security Detail (a standard 9 person squad with a medic accompanying, all rated Professional) mounted in two up-armoured Humvees. The Americans had an advantage – as far as they knew, the defenders had no idea what they were doing in the region.

 

Against them were two groups. Big Dave had pulled back as many of his pirates as could, giving him a mob of African militia, 4 local militia and three technicals (two with HMGs and one mounting a BMP turret). In addition was his own squad, which were trained to a professional standard and had followed him over the sea from Eritrea. He had also paid off the local police force, giving him an additional 12 Trained fighters which included some heavy weapons. Most of the village was abandoned but a UAV had spotted two armoured SUVs arriving the previous day. The allegiance of the inhabitants of these vehicles were unknown – the Americans would have to be careful.

 As the game begins, the Americans moved into the Area of Operations from the north. In the centre of the board, outside the police station, a group of officers were milling around, chatting with some of the militia and generally standing guard. More officers sat inside doing the general tasks of a working police station, all while trying to not think too much about the most recent guests who had appeared in town. Importantly, all the heavy weapons (the RPGs and MMGs) were still in the station’s armoury.

Inside the compound, the 3 technicals (Red, Green and Blue) sat idling. One was preparing to set off on patrol, with the pirates waiting to help open the gates. However, Big Dave knew something was coming. A little bird had mentioned there could be trouble in the next few days and now dust clouds had appeared on the outskirts of town. He set off to start alerting his troops and getting everyone ready for the fight.

Entering the town, the two American units split. The grunts headed for the covering position, planning to take advantage of the long sight line of the main street. The SOF took the side streets, with the Razor zooming ahead of the upgraded pickup.

Despite the vehicles moving around, the bulk of the OPFOR hadn’t spotted the incoming threat. The green technical set off on patrol while the militia finished their discussion and moved to go back inside the compound.

However, the two most northern cops had spotted the bulky Humvees rolling around and became alert to the incoming threats.

 

As the next turn began the Americans moved even further into town. Both the Humvees finally rolled into their positions and prepared to set up an overwatch.

The two SF vehicles continued to speed along, heading straight for the compound wall and a possible assault position.

In the next turn, the pirates snatched the initiative. The alert police had grabbed the rest of their team and sprinted across the street in order to find a fighting position. However, this was a major tactical blunder. One of the Humvees had setup overwatch and the .50cals ripped a bloody hole in the team, piling on the suppression. The other Humvee fired past the police at the green technical just pulling out of the compound. However, all the rounds missed causing nothing more than suppression.

After having interrupted the enemy’s movement phase, the US Army deployed. Leaving the gunners in their seats, the rest of the team spread out. One fireteam setup on the roof to provide more fire while the other began checking nearby buildings for possible insurgent hotspots.

The SF had finally reached the corner and momentarily slowed in order to take it.

However the gunner on the pickup was itching for a fight. The grunts had reported two police heading for side road and the gunner was now ready. As they passed the gap, the M2 hammered between the buildings. This burst of fire dropped two more police, bringing that main squad down to one policeman hiding behind a car.

In the next turn, the SF vehicle came sliding round the corner, guns facing forward. This sudden appearance shocked the militia and the snarl you can see above appeared. Green had frantically reversed and turned to get away from a crossfire of .50cals while Blue had just moved through the gate as the main gunner frantically wheeled the turret around. The smaller gate had seen action, with all the militia pouring through as Big Dave started to move to join the fight.

Before Blue could hammer a round into the new attackers, the SF pickup sent a burst of .50cal rounds into it. No major damage was caused but it began a hail of rounds onto it.

The rest of the American forces began to send fire down towards Blue. Multiple hits caused damage, first immobilizing the vehicle and then sending .50cal rounds straight through the passenger compartment. The driver was instantly killed while the passenger was incapacitated.

Also at this time the Razor commander had swung its M240 round and lit up the squad of local militia. It’s four shots took down half the squad with the rest being removed by carbine and LMG fire from the grunts further up the map.

However, it wasn’t all going the Operator’s way. Green emptied a burst into the Razor. Only one round hit but it slammed into the driver. It only incapacitated him but the lack of action sent the Razor skidding towards the wall.

The following turn saw the SF disembarking from their rides. The team medic rushed to deal with the driver while the rest of the operators started engaging enemies.

A UGL blast was targeted at Green. However it missed and scattered onto the group of militia around the technical. Both the RPG gunners were vaporised and even one of Big Dave’s squad took a hit. At the same time, one of the operators had requested a missile strike to drop right on top of the wall next to the Green technical.

 

While all this had been going on, a small group of contractors had appeared from two buildings on the board. Initially it seemed like they intended to fight, with one team using the armoured SUV as a shield and advancing behind it. However, seeing the Americans at the compound gates, the rest of the mercs saw the way the wind was blowing. They quickly rushed to get in their vehicles, slinging kit into the boot and moving in a non-combat way. One of the contractors also radioed to the Americans, quoting the days authentication code for Private Military Companies in the region.

Checking the codes against the daily orders, the Humvee gunner did not engage the vehicles, instead letting them speed away from the battle raging behind them.

Around this time, the heavy weapon teams from the police had got their act together and moved to join the fight. However, they were still in the firing line and were taking rounds from the Americans.

Back at the main gate, a traffic accident appeared to have occurred. Blue had been immobilized right in front of the gate and so Red would have to ram the damaged vehicle in order to get into the fight. Luckily the ram didn’t destroy either vehicle but it did end up knocking Green (who had rolled forward to get out of the firing line. The militia decided to use these vehicles as cover and got ready to engage the attackers.

Despite this, the militia got pounded again. Rounds poured in knocking down fighters, killing the gunner on the back of Red and pinning everyone in place.

 

The Argo mercs reached the AO edge and swiftly drove off in the direction of the highway.

Big Dave saw the way things were going and started sprinting (along with his team) towards a parked pickup that could be used to escape. It was a slim chance but maybe the mess behind him would distract the Americans.

And just after everyone had cleared the target zone, a Maverick missile screamed out of the sky and blew a hole in the compound wall.

At this point the middle battle was basically over. The police had been annihilated (only one officer was left alive) while the militia were drowning in suppression or dead. Big Dave’s pride and joys (the technicals) were all combat ineffective, unable to do nothing more than act as a roadblock.

Big Dave kept running to his escape vehicle just as the two Humvees moved into position to block the main routes.

Big Dave reached the vehicle and, rather than wait for the rest of his team, slammed the car into reverse heading for the exit.

This move took him into the firing line of the Humvee. For this turn, he was safe as the Army wanted him alive.

Slamming into gear he skidded round the corner, sped past the two remaining members of his squad (one having been engaged by the Humvees) and began to make a break for it in the other direction.

However, he hadn’t taken into account the three operators that had crept into his compound. Before he even saw them, two carbine bursts and a hail of battle rifle rounds had slammed into the crew compartment. Everyone inside were injured, with Big Dave beginning to bleed out in his seat.

Having just seen their boss’s vehicle get shot up, and presented by a pair of .50cal barrels from the Humvees, the remaining Eritreans surrendered to the US Army.

A few minutes later the operators come to verify the casualty. Big Dave was now dead and the battle won. Not the best outcome but a victory for the US Forces.

But why were Argo in the village? And what had been in those containers inside of Big Dave’s compound? Maybe the interrogations of the remaining Eritreans can reveal who Big Dave was dealing with. 


Overall a really fun game. It came about due to some improvisation and would need a few tweaks if played again but both of us really enjoyed it. There were loads of cool moments, from the SOF sliding round the corner to see the crowd of technicals in front of them to Big Dave’s failed attempt to escape.

My big problem was forgetting two assets I’d been given. As this was pirate town, I should have been rolling for reinforcements every turn once I started taking casualties as the rest of the pirates started flocking to the fight. I also had a mortar strike that I should have dropped on the US Army base of fire and prevented the two 50cals from locking my guys down.

As the game was wrapping up, one of the other players at the club asked if I wanted to run a game next week so he can play with some of his toys. It’s only fair but I think I’m going to get all my insurgent toys out the cupboard. I’ve got some trucks to hunts down.

Wargaming Week 21/08/2017

Let’s start, covering the 14th of August through to the 20th of August.

BLOG STUFF

Last week was the first of the two post weeks! It ended up working quite well, with Wednesday’s post covered the MENA releases and Friday’s post covered the new SF Technicals. I was wanting to paint the vehicles up but honestly I wouldn’t have got it finished in time. Instead there is going to be a long post looking at the finished technicals and their cargo. Looking ahead, I have quite a few upcoming posts planned out as well as leaving some gaps for impressions and battle reports which is a cool situation.

Oh, also my facebook page broke 150 likes. Welcome to all the newcomers!

GAMING

Thursday saw me finally return to the SESWC after several weeks away. I ended up joining one of Angus’s Seven Years war battles and so the Coalition of the Three Michaels (coming in MDF, German and English varieties) began their battle to hold the crossroads. I took control of the centre of the army, consisting of Infantry and Artillery and then begun the clever defensive tactic of hit them with artillery until the enemy got close enough to musket to death. My left flank did a similar thing (although mainly doing this while defending the shrubbery on the board edge) while on the right the two cavalry units engaged each other. Eventually (like in all Seven Years War games I’ve played) the gunlines clashed. As the game ended, the result was inconclusive – the French were struggling but had two units at the crossroads (although both of those units were mid scuffle).

If you want to see a full battle report, they can be found at German Michael’s site, Angus the Gamesmaster’s site and the SESWC’s Facebook page.

The other thing that happened on Thursday was that I have ended up running a multiplayer game next week that had to be pretty playable and slightly tongue in cheek. Really looking forward to it, just need to get a few things painted up. The plan is to have some factions all scrapping over a pirate warlord’s stronghold so it could be a mess. Expect a battle report on Friday.

PURCHASES

Empress on Friday released some new products for their ultramodern range, many of which fitted into the new universal category. These are all quite exciting and interesting, especially the new third world army figures. My order has gone in so expect an impressions piece once they arrive.

HOBBY

Big thing was the MENA guys. Read a whole article om them here!

On top of that, my desk is currently filled with 401 different projects. At the moment I am at various stages on:

  • SF Technicals – basing the weapons, adding the stowage and painting
  • Rebasing and repairing the technical weapon teams
  • Plucking some of my case to fit the technicals rather than just letting the bits bounce around inside a box
  • Painting up some Somalis to be pirates
  • Painting up my Spectre agents to be used in a future game

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

Impressions: Spectre SF Technicals – Initial Thoughts

Earlier this year, I wrote a load of stuff covering Spectre’s first vehicle release for the technical. In it, I commented about miniguns which was a stretch goal from the Kickstarter that was sadly missed, as well as the illusive “Tactical Technical”. Well, it looks like it was merely being sneaky and it is now out as part of this latest release. And oh boy, is there a lot of cool stuff on this release.

Sadly, due to my desire to get the vehicles in a state where I can hot swap the various weapon systems and cargo, I don’t yet have them painted. However I can cover the initial impressions on every part of this release, detailing any issues I may have found during the initial build process and looking at what I like and don’t like. You’ll just have to wait to see the final product.

The Trucks

The vehicles that form the base for the SF Technicals range are the exact same ones released earlier in the year. Alpha provides a larger truck bed while Bravo is a more modern style but has a smaller cargo capacity. When building the kits for the SF vehicles, I assembled the two part chassis and then added the rack behind each cab. The remaining parts were left off to make assembling the upgrades much easier.

A few things have changed with the vehicles since the original release, presumably to ease production and save on material. Technical Bravo is comprised of much less material, with the cab now mostly empty space. The other thing I noticed was that some of the resin was slightly misaligned. This was quickly solved by a quick bath in hot water and some gentle bending.

The Upgrade Packs

The first part to look at when building your new technicals are the upgrade packs. These additions build off the pieces in the main kits and help to make them look more suited for off-road activities or military action.

Alpha

Alpha is perhaps the simplest of the upgrade packs. It’s a pack of wheels, sporting improved tyres. These are a good way of showing off upgrades (such as run flats) or extending the stowage in a vehicle by covering it in spares. These wheels replace the ones from the vehicle packs and come with enough to fully outfit one vehicle and have two left over to mount as stowage or for a gunner to stand on. They are a little bigger than the default wheels so the finished vehicle will be slightly taller than normal.

Bravo

Bravo is designed to make your vehicles really standout from the civilian pickups while also letting you really load it up with stowage. The pack is actually two sets of upgrades in one. The first is a long-range fuel tank. This is assembled around the rear door to the cargo bed. After placing the tank, a cage comprising of three parts is placed around it. The main thing when building it is to make sure the curved edges of the two side pieces clip onto the round sections of the back of the cage (it will make more sense when you are building them). Then simply glue the construction on the back of the cargo bed. If you don’t want the giant tank of flammable liquid behind your operators, the cage could be assembled to hold other stowage such as jerry cans or hard containers.

The other part of the upgrade are the racks that mount on the side of the cargo bed. These create the mounting points for all sorts of gear, from spare tires to sand guards. As well as hosting these bits of gear, the rails could also be used to support plasticard armoured panels if you feel the need to up the protection on your vehicle. I’d recommend putting the vertical part of the mounting area on the inside of the cargo bed (as you can see below) as it looks a little better

The rails mount on both types of chassis but are really designed for the Alpha technical. However, it does also work on the Bravo vehicle as you can see below. In this case, the side rails ended up connecting to the top of the cage around the fuel tank. This style does look similar to some troop carrying pickups you might see in places such as Mexico.

Charlie & Delta

These two packs perform the same role – adding bullbars and a snorkel to both types of the base chassis. These upgrades really add to the off-road style on the vehicles, turning them from a street truck to something you would expect to see bounding through the desert.

Charlie is for the Alpha technical. The pack includes a new bumper that features the bullbars, a snorkel and a roof top storage rack. The bumper fits on really well and I think looks awesome. The snorkel has a notch in the side to help with alignment when placing it, something that is appreciated during construction. However, my favourite feature is the roof rack. It has a slight ramp on the mounting block so it sits flat on the sloped roof and it looks rad. Combined with the stowage pack, you can fill it with all sorts of hard cases, anti-tank weapons and gear (all the goodies a team of operators might need) while leaving most of the cargo bed free for weapon mountings.

Delta is for the Bravo vehicle and contains a replacement lower front and the snorkel. It would have been cool if it came with a roof mounted storage rack to match the other pack of this type but it’s not a deal breaker. Again, the snorkel has a nice notch to help with placement and the resin front end only needed very minor cleanup.

Weapons

Of course, a major part of the latest release is giving you some SF suitable weapons for your new rides to roll around with. You could choose to mount the standard weapons (perhaps if your team is less well equipped) but honestly, there is a minigun option literally right there.

Crew

I hate taking photos of unpainted figures. An ink wash helps!

In every release from any wargames manufacturer there is a slight disappointment and I think this time, the crew selection is the slight let down. When the first technicals came out there was a nice selection of generic crew standing next to the various weapons. For the HMG alone there were two options seemingly designed for it (one shooting and one leaning on the weapon spotting). For the SF release there is only one option – Crew Hotel, an operator in combat gear in the aiming pose. It’s a good basic option but having a second choice (perhaps a character pointing out a potential target or gesturing at some civilian trying to overtake) would be a useful. Even a simple head swap would have been nice. At the same time though, this is probably the most commonly used pose so in the end for many people it won’t matter.

One thing to note is that you will need to carefully bend the arms to line them up to the trigger locations. It requires just a little more force than you would think it would need but the metal Spectre uses is very good at being slightly manhandled.

Common Elements

The new guns listed below share a common feature – the mount. Unlike the pole on the original M2, the new guns use a much more sturdy looking mount. It comes in two heights; the tall one clears the top of cab and allows for a forward fire arc while the other is better for rear or side firing guns. The top of each pole is split in half and matches up to the bottom of each of the weapon assemblies. This requires some patient holding while waiting the glue to dry but seems to work quite well.

No matter what height you choose, both mounts will require that a rear gunner stands on something in order to reach the spade grips. Having seen one of the Spectre models at Cardiff, it seems that a spare tyre is a good option.

M2 .50cal SF

Yep, you can’t release a technical without a 50cal. This one however is rather special. Wrapping the barrel is rail system onto which two attachments have been mounted. On top of the gun is an Eotech style holographic sight (or red dot in Spectre Operations) while underneath is the giant Hellfire torch capable of illuminating targets much further than other light systems. Combined together, these provide a useful setup to pair with the HMG’s lethality and range on the tabletop, letting you engage targets accurately no matter what time of day it is.

Without a doubt this was the simplest weapon to assemble out of the group. The gun is one piece so all it required was gluing it to the mount and it was good to go.

Mk47 AGL

The only thing better than a 40mm grenade launcher is an automatic one complete with rangefinder. An upgrade over the old MK19, the MK47 AGL is the hottest new thing in automatic grenade launchers. With basic stats its great for suppressing large groups of unarmored enemies but the addition of an aiming system (run as either a scope, red dot, thermal sight or some combination of them) really helps to make it a precision area weapon. If you are feeling especially high-tech, the MK47 is capable of programming MK285 rounds to airburst over a target. So if you want to make an opponent cry, mention you want to use those rounds and start dropping grenades every turn that ignore cover saves thanks to the airburst rules.

The gun is made up of three parts – the barrel and main sight piece, the side mounted sight (including rails for other sights) and the stand/ammo box assembly. Glueing these three together required a few tweaks to get them lined up. By default, the launcher is slightly tilted upwards ready to lob rounds at the enemy downrange.

Dual M240

Why have only one medium machine gun when you can bolt two together, stick a sight on one and then add a chute for spent shell casings? Like the SAS jeeps from WW2, the simplest way to increase firepower on a mount is just to double what you have. The MMG is a good gun to begin with thanks to Sustained Fire and a 3+ lethality but turning it into a dual weapon means double the shots. Add to that a scope/red dot and you’ve got a great weapon for engaging infantry.

Building the gun was the most fiddly of them all, consisting of five parts. The two ammo boxes clip on the outer edges while the guns themselves fit into the slots in the lower mount. This mount then attaches to the tower using the usual method. As always, do a dry fitting run before getting the super glue out.

Now if only there was another way to get a ton of shots on targets…

M134 Minigun

Okay I’ll admit, this is something I’ve wanted since the kickstarter. Miniguns in all their forms are super cool and having one on the wargames table is just too tempting. Assembly is relatively simple despite the multiple parts. The gun sits in an arm that attaches to the column. As well as this, there is an optional red dot to mount on the rail on the top of the gun itself and two parts to form the ammo supply. The belt is the usual strip of metal that can be freely trimmed and twisted to line up with the large ammo box.

As an aside, one of my favourite things about the separate weapons that Spectre produces is the fact I can use them elsewhere. I have two Empress Humvee where I have replaced the gun mount with a magnet. Combined with Spectre’s stock of guns, this means I can swap out the standard M2 HMG for a DsHK (for when the Bazistan Army gets to use them) or, as you can see, for a Minigun. This versatility means you don’t have to buy 101 different vehicles for all the combination of weapons you might want, instead only needing as you might want to be on the tabletop. One thing with the Minigun, I had to trim some areas so it would fit properly on the magnet and trying to fit the ammo box in the turret is going to be hard.

In game, the minigun is a nightmare to go up against, no matter what the ruleset. Spectre Operations gives it 6 shots a turn that let you roll through a squad and easily put on the suppression. 3+ lethality and a decent range interval finish off a good package, espeically if you add a red dot.

Stowage

This release didn’t include any new stowage options (other than the new tires). However, last month we got Stowage Alfa which is packed full of stuff to cover your vehicle in. You could use the Razor stowage packs but they are not really designed for this style of vehicle.

If you want more details on Stowage Alfa, you can find my impressions here.

Final Thoughts

I ended my post on the initial Spectre Technical release by saying “The Spectre technicals are a great start to a new range. Apart from the minor issues, all the models are beautiful to behold and will be fantastic additions to anyone’s collection.”. It’s safe to say, the same idea carries on here.

With the second major release there are now a collection of parts that let you take that initial release and direct it to be more suitable for a different use. Although designed for Special Forces teams, the upgrades mean the vehicles can now be used for other groups (such as well-trained OPFOR, contractors or cartel members wanting a cool off-road vehicle) by simply varying many upgrades and how much stowage you add. There are a few tweaks I would make (more crew options, stowage racks for Technical Bravo) but these can be easily be added in future releases. For now though, all the new bits open up a world of exciting possibilities. I can’t wait to see the sheer variety of vehicles people come up with.


So now I’ve done the initial thoughts, it’s time for me to do the fun stuff and start finishing them. There will be a whole post on the process of getting the group of vehicles finished in the next few weeks. The main delay is setting up the series of plasticard bases that will let me swap guns and cargo sections between vehicle while hopefully looking better than the first version used for the militia. In addition, the militia equipment is being rebased and repainted after they got banged up during the trip to Cardiff. So keep your eye on the blog for more stuff on Spectre Miniatures releases and all things dedicated to ultramodern wargaming.

Impressions: Spectre July 2017 Release

The end of July saw a new release to expand Spectre’s MENA Militia range. These new figures are designed to give your militia a bit of an edge, either by adding some tougher guys or bringing some new gear to the party. If you’re building a militia force, these fighters are a must buy.

Militia with Assault Rifles

Ready to add to the bulk of your force, these guys look hard as nails. The new packs (MENA Militia Echo and MENA Militia Foxtrot) both contain figures armed just with a standard assault rifle. However, they have a very different look to them making them perfect for use as squad leaders or better trained fighters, characters that need to stand out slightly in the middle of a battle. In particular, I think the guy with the baseball cap would work really well as a local contact or fixer for your CIA agent in the field thanks to the combination of traditional and western clothing. I also really like how they are wielding folding stock AKs rather than the standard version, ideal for urban guerrillas engaged in CQB.

Militia with RPG

One of the great things with the RPG-7 is the variety of warheads available. Up until this release, the only options with models were either the standard HEAT round or the tiny AP warhead. The two new miltia RPG packs (MENA RPG Bravo and MENA RPG Charlie) help to expand the munitions available to wargamers. Three of the four warheads are variations on HEAT rounds, however all of them are much more modern or unusual (some of them look like the Iranian NAFEZ and Slovakian PG-7M). The fourth figure carries a thermobaric round, superb at destroying bunkers and buildings.

Out of the four figures, one of them looks very similar to the rest of the MENA militia range, clad in his t-shirt, but he holds his RPG and ammo in a very different pose. . The others look much more unique, providing some improved weapons for when you need to knock out the enemy vehicles or clear a fortified position. Spectre doesn’t currently have any new rules for improved or more modern HEAT rounds but expect cool things in an upcoming supplement.

Militia Sniper with Anti-Material Rifle

I have a pet peeve with the model industry when it comes to prone figures. With most games I play focusing on real line of sight, having a figure being much lower than any other can be real paint. Additionally, a prone figure can a pain to base. They can’t do much about the figure being hard to spot, but Spectre have done something clever with the posing on this prone sniper (MENA Militia Sniper Alfa). By having him lying on his side, the sniper fits more easily on a round base, a look that is closer to the various other weapon teams. To help fill in the base, I ended up adding some MDF offcuts to form some rubble.

In terms of armament, the Militia Sniper is using a Russian Anti-Material rifle. This is another weapon which should help even the odds when going up against lightly armoured vehicles or troops in cover. In Spectre Operations, the Anti Material Rifle has several useful special rules such as Armour Piercing, Frag and Incendiary that make it a real terror. Alternatively, you could choose to downgrade it to a Heavy Sniper rifle which is still a massive threat to anyone who crosses the shooter’s line of sight.

Painting Notes

As with the rest of my Militia guys, the painting plan is to use a mixture of earthy colours with an occasional bit of camo or colour. I ended up just using the earthy colour. There is a lot of black on these figures so my tactic of Black then a drybrush of Basalt Grey was in full effect. The big change was a new colour for the wooden sections on the AKs and RPGs. Rather than using GW’s Rhinox Hide, I tried Valejo’s Cavalry Brown. After my initial panic, the final effect works very well.

 

One thing I did notice was one of the models had a bit of flash that needed cleaning up. It’s unusual to see on Spectre models but with the pattern on the jacket it’s easy to see how it happened. A quick file and the pattern is gone.

Wargaming Week 14/08/2017

Let’s start, covering the 7th of August through to the 13th of August.

BLOG STUFF

A scenario went up! It’s a little different from my usual posts but it’s something that I’ve been wanting to finish for a while. Also the release of Free Fire meant it was the perfect time to release it.

I’m also carrying on the blog post experiments. Looking at how many posts I want to write which are not impressions or battle reports and it seems I’m going to running out of weeks in my life if I also want to cover all things new. So new plan – every other wednesday there will be a post. This is for smaller stuff like new models in an existing range or minor hobby updates such looking at a completed painting projects. The weekend post will be for bigger things like new lines of figures, larger releases or new rules content for other things. I have so much I want to write and want to see if I can manage this tweak.

GAMING

Nothing this week, I was too busy seeing Aunty Donna on the usual gaming night. Planning more games though.

PURCHASES

Nothing, last week was more than enough. My orders have now arrived so expect some update posts coming soon

HOBBY

I’m in the process of painting the latest MENA militia up ready for their debut on Wednesday. More details in that post but they are great fun to paint. 

Boards are also progressing. Finally got the basic colours on, so now I can start getting the rest of the board sorted out and the terrain items painted. The forces are mostly ready so just need to push on with making the fighting area pretty.

A bonus of having these terrain boards is that I now have a playing surface in my flat, all ready to play some game on. The bigger bonus for you, the reader, is that having terrain boards means I can setup much more visually appealing photos for impressions and battle reports. So hopefully, less pictures of my desk.

Before anyone asks, the terrain in the photo above is from RedVectors. There will be an impression in the next few weeks but as a preview – they are really good.


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