Wargaming Week 26/02/2018

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 19th through to the 25th of February.

BLOG STUFF

Last week saw two posts go up, looking at two items from Empress’s catalogue. Wednesday’s post (the first of the new shorter style) covered their US Stowage pack while Friday’s went in depth with the GAZ Tigr model.

If you missed it in Wednesday’s post, the new shorter style will be on the site every other Wednesday. This is so I get the chance to write all the post I want to get done – I was rapidly running out of weeks.

Also in blog news, this weekend is Hammerhead at Newark Showground. I’ll be there running Operation Dragon’s Hoard complete with a few tweaks. The game will be in the Gamer’s Lounge which is the smaller of the two halls so don’t forget to come and take a look!

NEWS

News time! First up is a new release from Spectre. This set is ripped directly from the headlines – it covers a Green Beret team operating as mentors in Central Africa. From talking to the guys at Spectre Miniatures, there has been a fair amount of communication with some of the team out there leading to an incredible level of accuracy. There are some unusual features which help these guys to stand out, such as the lack of sidearms and hearing protection based on the research gathered. This set is once again sold as a Spectre Squad kit, giving you a mix of assault rifles and battle rifles. There are no support weapons however, as the mentored team will need to bring the firepower.

I love the look of this set and so I picked it up. Expect an impressions soon once they arrive on my desk. You can find it for yourself on their site at https://www.spectreminiatures.com/collections/green-berets/products/green-beret-jungle-ops-team

In terrain news, Sarissa has announced that their range of 20mm North African buildings will be released soon in 28mm. I love the style on these buildings, probably due to too much Call of Duty 2, and they will be perfect for the more built up areas of any former colonial state in northern Africa… like Zaiweibo. I’m not sure how many of the 20mm range will come over to the larger scale but it’s something I’m very interested in.

GAMING

None this week, getting ready for Hammerhead

PURCHASES

My order from Evil Bear arrived! I haven’t manged to do much with it due to Hammerhead prep but the combination of plastic troops and drones gun platforms should be fun. Expect more details on these coming soon!

HOBBY

Lots of stuff getting ready for Hammerhead so I’m going to keep it under wraps for now. Come back in next week’s post for all the WIP pictures!


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

Impressions: Empress GAZ Tigr

So far, nearly all the vehicles I’ve covered on the site have been either of Western origins or some form of technical. However, my regular OPFOR have been needing some vehicles to back them up. Where better to start than the GAZ Tigr, available in 28mm scale from Empress.

The Tigr is a infantry mobility vehicle developed for the Russian military and currently in use with several armed forces around the world. The model looks like its one of the armoured variants, capable of carrying a full squad of infantry through small arms fire and across rough terrain. This version is also armed with both a PKP medium machine gun and a AGS-17 grenade launcher, making it a pretty useful base of fire to cover your advancing troops.

Like nearly all the Empress vehicle kits, the Tigr is a combined resin and metal kit. The body, front bumper, turret ring and tyres are all resin while the finer details (like hatches, weapons and lights) are the usual white metal. There was a small amount of cleanup to do on the resin parts, but not more than would be expected for a kit of this type

Construction is simple – the bumper section slides easily into the slot at the front of the vehicle. Once done, the wheels can then be added; these fit both on the four struts and on the rear spare wheel mount. From here it’s simply a case of adding the various metal detail elements. The turret setup with the hatches is one place to carefully look at so I recommend dry fitting everything. If you want to go for a command version rather than a infantry carrier, the kit comes with a whole array of antennas to make it stand out.

As always, I hate painting vehicles. However, the Tigr was relatively quick to paint thanks to the level of detail on the body. After a desert tan spray, I followed up by quickly painting the tyres, glass and the tools. After that, it was several drybrushes and then a relatively thin wash to finish it off.

There are some really nice details on the vehicle (such as the tools on the side) which are impressive and really help to make the vehicle look detailed. Apart from the usual mess that I make of the wash, I’m really happy with the final look of this vehicle.

Picture here for scale are a few possible groups that will be using the Tigr in game. From front to back:

  • Warhansa Spetsnaz
  • Empress Universal
  • Eureka ANP
  • Spectre Spetsnaz

To carry on the comparison here are a few other vehicles alongside it:

  • Evil Bear Panther – based on the Iveco LMV, this is another infantry mobility vehicle. The similar size shows off some of the shared capapvilties, but the Panther is a much shorter vehicle as it’s for command and control rather than troop transport.
  • Empress Humvee – the main thing look at modern vehicle is showing me is that the Humvee is actually not the giant monster you always think it is compared to vehicles in the UK. Everything about it is

The final comparison is against some more civilian vehicles, both from Spectre. The pickup looks a similar size but much less bulky. The standard car though really shows the difference in size between civilian car and armoured troop carrier.


So my personal thoughts? I love this vehicle. It was beautifully simple to assemble, quick to paint and looks great on the tabletop. It’s also something different from the usual Humvees and BMPs, giving any games using it a nice feel. As well as military use, I think you could assemble it as the local SWAT van of a foreign country if you miss off the heavier weaponry. I’m planning to pick up another couple of these vehicle to carry the entirety of the platoon I currently own. At the very least, I’ll be setting up another one as the command vehicle. Expect to see this on the table dropping off squads of Bazistan Army troops wherever they can be the biggest pain for the other team.

If you’re interested in getting your own vehicle to carry your gang of Russians around, you can find it on the Empress store at http://www.empressminiatures.com/userimages/procart36.htm

Impressions: Empress US Stowage 1

Time for a little extra post to push you on through the week! As I’m looking at finishing off a few modern US military vehicles, I decided to pick up a pack of Empress US Stowage 1 to make them look a bit more used and in action rather than factory fresh.

Inside the bag you will find:

  • Two tow cables
  • Two wooden ammo crates
  • Two fuel cans in mounting bracket
  • One large tarp, stowed
  • Two small tarps, stowed (although one of mine seems to have gone walk about on my desk)
  • Three assault packs
  • Three small packs with bedroll
  • Three large packs with bedroll

Thanks to the style of the items, this pack could be used on almost any modern US armed forces vehicle. It also works for a large time period from the late 1980’s up until the modern-day. There is a really nice level of detail on them and should look great added to any vehicle. The packs are especially good, easily added to many of the Empress figures (such as the US Infantry) if you want to change to the look of them. The tow cables are also pretty handy. That said, some of these items are already moulded on some of the vehicles so I recommend having the vehicle in front of you before planning what you intend to add to it.

Overall it’s a handy pack to get the main Army look (as opposed to the better equipped SF teams that the Spectre pack feels better suited for). If you want this Empress stowage pack, you can find it on the Vehicles page on the Empress site.

The real question is, what do I have planned for them? Well, they will be going on the stowage racks on both of my Strykers – this will mainly be the rucksacks, stowed on the outside for the crew inside. The M-ATV is also going to be packed full of stowage thanks to it’s large cargo bay. In the future, I may pickup another stowage pack for other US military vehicles such as a second M-ATV, M113 or some Humvees. Finally, I’m to use some of the packs to add some extra variety to my US Army infantry platoon.

So this is the first of a new format of post. Every other Wednesday I’m going to start doing smaller posts, around 500 words. This will mainly be hobby focused (showing off WIPs) and smaller impression pieces (such as for single figures from existing ranges). The reason for this? I’m going to run out of weeks in the year for everything I want to write about!

Wargaming Week 19/02/2018

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 12th through to the 18th of February.

BLOG STUFF

The post for this week was taking a look at Warhansa’s Spetsnaz squad. This wasn’t the article I had planned, but as soon as these figures arrived I just had to paint them and get them out.

A bit of an update, Wargames Illustrated Prime members who have taken a look at the Vapnartak show report may have seen a familiar looking C130 at the end of the article. It’s really cool to see but it should look a little different next time people see it

NEWS

Not much news this week, stay tuned for more coming soon

GAMING

No gaming this week due to a couple of reasons. Looking like I used up all my gaming time at York.

PURCHASES

In less time than expected, the MARSOC figures from Wartime Miniatures have arrived. I haven’t done much with them other than basing them but I’m looking forward to painting them up. Expect an impression soon.

Seeing as they are running a sale on them, I also grabbed the Warlord Games Project Z Spec Ops set from Evil Bear Wargames. This is an oddity amongst modern releases as it’s a plastic multipart kit. Definitely worth playing around with it. In addition, I also picked up something else to give my operators some backup without risking their lives.

HOBBY

So yeah, the big thing for this week was getting the Warhansa figures painted up. I had originally planned for these guys to be painted somewhere else in the stack of things but I fell in love with the details and just had to get them done. Getting them finished also opened my eyes to other sculpts from igor working quite well in terms of scaling. Expect more Russians to be finished off and used as Bazistan Army forces.

While on a roll, I also got to work on one of my purchases from Vapnartak. This Empress Tigr was really fun and simple to build so it was finished and painted in an evening. Full impressions on Friday!

Speaking of purchase from Vapnartak, I also got to work on the Empress M-ATV. Unfortunately I was missing a piece (which arrived at work just this morning) but I did manage to do some other work to it. There are still a few things to tweak, as well as some other adjustments but I’ll go into more detail in an upcoming impressions piece.

My MDF wizard also dropped off the second part of the modular tower block range and a spent a fun evening assembling part two. I’m really looking forward to doing the write up on these, especially when showing off the potential for gameplay they’ll add to your table. Module 3 arrives this week and then I just have to paint them all up. Impressions piece on them will be on March 2nd (probably as a panic and try to get them ready for Hammerhead)


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

Impressions: Warhansa Spetsnaz

When I started looking for new companies to buy models from and write about, there were some that jumped out to me straight away. Others, including today’s manufacturer Warhansa, were ones I had looked at but never seen a set that screamed for me to take a look. Checking the site at the start of the year, my mind was swiftly changed upon spotting the Warhansa Spetsnaz pack appearing on their Facebook page.

Now, I have many weaknesses when it comes to figures. As previously mentioned, guys in bandanas and M4s are one (mainly down to how many places they can be used) while another is ultra-modern troops with near future sci-fi (think Chappie or Elysium). However, the biggest has to be figures in giant EOD style armour and totting machine guns. Be they military or police, I love this Juggernaut archetype. I guess you can blame Modern Warfare 2 for this. So upon spotting a team of four figures where one of them is a chunky looking fellow with a PKP, I just had to jump in and take a look

There are a couple of key points I’m going to mention first about Warhansa. Number 1, they are based in Russia. This is going to lead to some fun times with their postal system – for example, tracking on the parcel cut off as soon as the parcel left Russia and didn’t seem to pick up in the UK until it was delivered. However, the postage times were pretty great (taking only 3 weeks) so I’m not going to complain too much. The second point is that Warhansa figures are in Resin rather than metal. I find the old Resin vs Metal debate to one primarily of personal choice with resin providing a really nice level of detail but the cost of durability. I normally prefer metal to resin due to the difference in weight (especially as I base them on MDF disks) but it’s not a deal breaker for me.

Those points covered lets look at the figures!

The pack comprises of four figures. Two riflemen with AN94 assault rifles, an officer in beret and a PKP gunner wearing EOD gear. The figures are sculpted by Igor (who was also the sculptor behind the War in Chechnya kickstarter from Tiny Terrain as well as some upcoming releases from SASM) and is style is all over them. There is also a great level of detail to them from just the contours of the webbing to being able to identify the guns based on the muzzle break design. From looking closely I only found two minor issues (an air bubble in the PKM box mag and some unusual patterning on a shoulder piece) but both were easy to fix.

Aftergetting them out of the bag, I was really excited to get started painting and within a day of taking the first photo, they were done. A new record for me!

So, the paint scheme. When I ordered theses guys, I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to fit them into my ongoing Bazistan/Zaiweibo campaigns. The Empress Russians are filling in the role of modern Russian troops so these guys (in older gear) didn’t make sense to add to the elite Russian taskforce. However, I realised that one nation hadn’t received it’s well equipped frontline troops – Bazistan. By using these guys, as well as the Russians from the War in Chechnya Kickstarter, I’m able to show a force that may be a little bit less advanced than their foes, is still a threat. I’m particularly excited about using the gunner to smash through some doors and lay down the hurt when the dammed western operators are working a little too well.

Because of this, I had to work on the paint scheme. Although there are Russian desert camos, I wanted to make something different to what the actual Russians will be wearing (once I’ve painted them) and also be relatively easy to paint. For this reason I went with a simple scheme – Iraqi sand base with beige brown sponged on. This is designed to give the impression of a pixel based scheme in a similar colour to some of the older patterns. The only downside? I think I might have been a little heavy with my paint job and so obscured some of the detail.

As always, with new figures it’s time for a comparison picture.

From left to right

  • Under Fire Miniatures
  • Empress (older)
  • Empress (recent)
  • Warhansa
  • Spectre Miniatures
  • Eureka Miniatures
  • Crooked Dice
  • Hasslefree

And again from the rear

An extra comparison is to show off how chunky this PKP gunner is compared to his regular opponents, a Spectre Task Force Operator.


My overall opinion? If you hadn’t guessed above, I really like these guys. They are definitely more stylised compared to companies like Empress or Spectre but they still look pretty great on the tabletop. There is an incredible amount of detail on them if you are more interested in painting than playing. My only concern is how durable the resin is going to be, both for the weight (I like the feel of a metal figure in my hand and stops them being nudged) and for surviving the wear and tear of playing/going in and out of boxes. We’ll have to see that in the upcoming days. , If you are looking for some Russian characters to paint up, I heartily recommend this set.

Also I get to have a tiny Juggernaut sat on my desk. What’s not to like?

If you want a set of your own Spetsnaz, you can find them on the Warhansa website at http://www.warhansa.com/index.php/katalog/spetsnaz.html

Wargaming Week 12/02/2018

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

BLOG STUFF

This week saw two articles – one covering Operation Dragon’s Hoard at Vapnartak and the other taking a look at one of SASM’s range of figures. Overall a pretty busy week!

The other blog thing is that thanks to some work stuff, this year is going to be a lot busier than I originally thought. So you might start seeing some smaller posts looking at older figures as I try to spread out my coverage and keep the posts coming despite being busy with work.

NEWS

Photo from White Dragon Miniatures

Only one piece of news this week. White Dragon Games announced last year they were making a range of Ultramodern Brits called Courage In Contact. Interestingly these guys are going to be made from resin rather than metal. At the Robin show yesterday, the stall not only had some painted examples but also had a Foxhound complete with gunners. I’ll be keeping a close eye on these guys – in fact so close that we’re both in the Gamer’s Lounge at Hammerhead. You can see more at https://www.facebook.com/WhiteDragonMiniatures/

GAMING

None, too busy this week to get my gaming fix in

PURCHASES

I’ve put in an order to Wartime to take a look at their MARSOC range. Its coming from Australia so it will be a while before I have it on the painting table but it should expand out the people who I’ve covered.

HOBBY

Despite a lack of games, I did manage to get some painting done. First up was the SASM figures ready for the impressions. Theses guys were pretty fun to paint and also simple thanks to the civilian clothing. Although the guy dressed entirely in black was possibly the easiest one – paint flesh, drybrush the black with a grey and then wash it. Gives a nice black with minimum fuss.

After a busy week at work, I sat down Friday evening to start working on the pile of things that will be coming up in future impressions. The first to fall under the super glue was the first of the Radio Dishdash technicals. These were interesting to build and seeing as I have two more to go, there will be lots of opinions on them.

The next part of the hobby binge was building up one of Supreme Littleness Design’s new buildings which I picked up from the club on Thursday. I did a step by step of the build process and will be writing something once I’ve painted and assembled all three of them ready for Hammerhead. With this thing actually in my hands, I’m really excited to get some games in on them – the interiors will be great for some CQB action.

After checking the vehicles on my desk, the next was Empress’s Tigr. I picked this up at Vapnatrak (alongside the M-ATV) and it was a pretty simple build, especially if you skip the aerials and just make a standard one. More details in an upcoming impressions (possibly this week!)

Finally, I finished off assembling the last of the Technical weapons from Spectre. The half painted ones have actually been sat on my desk since the first release so are just a little bit overdue. The other were picked up later. Each provided some interesting things to look at (especially to make modular) so I’m really looking forward to the writeup on these.


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

Impressions: SASM Operator Juarez

A big push this year on the site is to expand the list of companies I cover, with the goal of providing the widest possible look into all the options available to an ultramodern gamer. One of the companies that had sat on my list for a while has been Special Artisan Service Miniatures based in the US. As well as their 3D printed vehicles, they also have a growing range of figures. After browsing through the range, I settled upon picking up one of the Operator Juarez packs for my invesitigation.

The CIA Juarez Operators pack is made up of six figures, all inspired by popular culture around the various agencies fighting the cartel in Mexico. There is a nice mix to these figures, giving you a set perfect for a whole host of scenarios. After ordering, the package with them in arrived on my desk after about a week after being sent out. They were securely packaged, with no damaged bits, and the hand written note wishing me well was a nice touch. Preparing was minimal, with the expected amount of of infill and mould lines to tidy up. The figures have a half pill shaped base, similar to many other ranges which almost melds into the base with no adjustment required.

Looking at the  figures, there are several different groups. The first consists of three guys perfect for contractors or low profile shooters. These guy are all wearing tactical gear and wielding AR15 pattern weapons. The “balaclava and baseball cap” look is one I particularly like (mainly because they can be used for all sorts of organisations). All three figures are moving forward cautiously, gripping either the magwell or the vert grip.

The next group are two characters designed to lead and support the rest of the team. One is holding his M4 in a low ready position while the other wields a silenced Mp5, holding his hand up while trying to calm the locals. These two are dressed the same way as the first, with civilian clothing and tac gear.

The final model is a little different from the rest. Rather than being one of the other characters ready to cross the border, this guy is dressed for a bit of black ops. Armed only with a pistol, the practical use of this one will mainly be for stealth missions and creeping around in the dark.

As this is a new company for me to look at, it’s time for for another figure comparison. From left to right:

  • Under Fire Miniatures
  • Empress (older)
  • Empress (recent)
  • SASM
  • Spectre Miniatures
  • Eureka Miniatures
  • Crooked Dice
  • Hasslefree

And again in rear view.

Okay, that’s all the basic information, showing off the painted figures. If you are interested in them, they can be found on the SASM site at http://www.kingshobbiesandgames.com/28mm-CIA-Juarez-Operators-p/28mmciaop.htm

Personal thoughts below the line.


To be honest, I have mixed personal feelings on this pack. I really love the concept and the ideas behind some of the figures but i’m less impressed with the style. The sculptor is very talented (all the characters were easily recognisable at first glance and they easily fit in with other ranges as part of a game) but there are one or two elements that don’t quite match my expectations. Although it’s not obvious, the figures seem incredibly slight and tall, almost like a 28mm figure from another company that has been grabbed at the top and pulled. I also have issues with some of the detailing – while the characters are packed full of it (such as molle loops and folds in the clothing), the weapons (especially on the three guys with bandanas) all seem a little flat sided. The suppressed MP5 also appears incredibly bulky compared to the other weapons, although I can see the practical reason for this adjustment. I would have also have liked to see a little more variation in the poses, particularly for the trio of shooters.

As always, this is just my opinions. Although they are not the ideal figures, they are certainly not the worst I’ve seen. Importantly they also spark the idea for plenty of scenarios to use the figures in. While I don’t necessarily recommend them, and as long as you like the style, they were certainly an interesting set to paint up and write an article on. As a final note, SASM seem to have a range of sculptors

Operation Dragon’s Hoard: Vapnartak, York

If you haven’t checked out the previous posts in the series on Operation Dragon’s Hoard, check out the page I’ve set up for it at http://hntdaab.co.uk/blog/demo-game-operation-dragons-hoard/

Last weekend was Vapnartak. This was a show I’ve been particularly looking forward to; Its one of my “local” shows (thanks to one of my buddies in the wargaming being based in York) and it’s also a massive event spread over three floors (and mezzanines). Its big enough to lure many of the southern companies (such as Empress) up to the frozen north. Getting to run a game has been on my wish list for a while and I was a little disheartened when they initially reported they had ran out of space. However, thanks to the guys at York we managed to squeeze in and we were off to the races.

PRE-GAME TWEAKS

So with the whole uncertainty around if I was running a game, I didn’t manage to do the main task of making the plane look a little less hacksawed by using my new airbrush and dremel. With only two weeks, the idea of having to repair it in the event of dremel related mishaps was too much to take. Instead, the focus shifted to improving the other elements on the table.

First stage was repairing the boards. This was pretty simple – reapply the filler, textured paint and the cover up with lashings of Zandri Dust. The repair work was mostly effective. However afterwards there were one or two places where I don’t think the filler had set properly before I painted it and so it wasn’t quite as hard-wearing as it should have been. However, between these tweaks and changing how I transported the boards (bubble wrap rather than foam spacers) meant there were no massive chunks of surface that had been knocked away.

The next step was to add some more terrain elements. Finishing off another RedVectors buildings gave the OPFOR some height (useful for the marksman) and make the board look a little less empty. As I mentioned in the impressions on them, this one is great but I did have one or two events where the rooftops dropped through the rest of the building. Luckily no figures were lost to the fall damage.

Another element I think that was missing from the board was debris. Even if you ignore the straight edges on the plane wreckage, it’s easy to notice the lack of material that a plane shredding itself in mid-air would eject. This would also add some more detail to the board and provide some difficult ground to cross. Building them was pretty simple – get more plasticard, cut out kidney shapes, add plastic elements from the C130 kit and then cover in filler. Some of the plastic elements were trimmed to be closer to the ground making them look like they have sunk into the sand.

Once assembled, the same process I used on the boards again came into place. The difference this time was that I added a rough spray of grey over the plane elements, oversprayed by the base colour and then finished off with some drybrushing grey and the old faithful, Iraqi Sand. Overall I think they worked out quite well – it helps to make the board look closer to the ideal.. The only issue was again due to the filler. It hadn’t set correctly and so, as you can see above, a few bits chipped off over the weekend. It’s easily fixable but if I had more time it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. Moral of the story – don’t try to rush things at the last-minute.

For a while, I’ve been wanting to upgrade my central objective from “white SUV” to something more suitable to the mission title of “Dragon’s Hoard”. After throwing a few ideas around, the idea of a big chunk of gold was just too tempting. I’d already bought the components I was going to use as part of Bank Accessories pack from TTCombat in 2017 and just hadn’t got round to building the actual objective. With time pressure adding focus, I built the pile of gold you see above. The three stacks were to act as the base, with one of the smaller piles placed on top for detail. The other smaller pile was chopped up into single bricks to be loosely scattered around the base.

After basic construction, the next stage was adding the tarp. This was the classic modelling standby – toilet paper with watered down PVA painted over the top. Once this was dried, painting began. Rather than painting up like terrain, this was closer to a figure – sand on the base, black undercoat, base colours, lashings of agrax and then drybrushing. The tarp was painted dark blue first before going over the top with a layer of light blue. Gold on black is always interesting and it took several coats to get the look I was after. Also Agrax is still my method of choice for fixing any issues with painting.

Something else I needed was smoke cloud, both for the operators to deploy and also to mark when explosions went off. Rather than cotton wool, one of my fellow SESWC members pointed me in the direction of teddy bear stuffing. After a Saturday where I couldn’t find any in Edinburgh I went to Amazon and ordered 1kg of the stuff. Now, I may not have anticipated just how much 1kg of stuffing is. The package was literally straining at the packaging when it arrived. To put it mildly, I don’t think I’ll be buying much more, even if I decided to model shooting lines for a Napoleonic battle.

Once I’d pulled lumps of smoke off the pile, it was painting time. Rather than just dropping lumps on the board, I used some old bases to keep the clumps anchored to the ground. Rather than just using the same colour for all of the smoke, I set up a few schemes. The white smoke had Mechanicus Grey spray for the lower portion with white spray paint for the top half. The black smoke was a little more involved. The bottom was black spray done relatively close to the clump for a dark colour. The next step was black again but further away. Finally, a light dusting of grey for the top of the cloud. For a first attempt, the smoke clouds worked fine – the only change I’d make would be to get a glue gun to stick the smoke to the base.

Some of the final prep was getting some more cards printed out. This was for a few reasons but primarily, it was because I repainted my insurgents. Along with finishing the other insurgents, I had I ended up with a fair number of cards left over to fill. This was a perfect excuse to keep working on the Task Force Operator pile, with a particular focus on some of the cool gear people may want to pick (such as the airburst grenade launcher). I also added the December releases to the list of guys I have on cards so pickup games of Skrimish Sangin will be even easier to arrange. Once again, personalised card creator knocked it out the park in terms of service. Downside: I didn’t do any post processing on the images so you can plainly see which cards are from which packs I made. However, they were once again a hit.

As I mentioned in my last post, the game at Fiasco ran well but it did feel like the operators, once on the objectives, were basically fated to win which is fine but not quite as exciting as it should be. Having managed to use two of the cards in the new pack for some Technicals, I decided that the operators going loud (be that by lots of gunfire or by blowing the cockpit) should prompt the arrival of some insurgents reinforcements. This basically moved the response squad from a building to a much larger threat, as a four man team of veterans were accompanied by two technicals with HMGs. The operators, thanks to the technicals lacking armour and BLUFOR having brought AT weapons, would find it relatively easy to destroy these reinforcements, as long as they react fast enough. This also makes the end game as exciting as the start, forcing the players to change-up the plan rather than getting all the time in the world to work out how best to approach the problem.

DETAILS OF THE DAY

After setting up the boards on Saturday afternoon (thanks to traders and game organisers being let in early), Sunday morning was a quite relaxed affair where we were able to turn up, get the figures out and then get ready for everyone turning up. Once again, we managed to run the mission three times, rotating players and observers each time.

Game 1 was the usual show started in that I get to play against my number 2. As well as making the game look busy while everyone is doing the early morning lap of the show, it’s also a chance to iron out issues and show off exciting gameplay. Game 1 had a nice mix of stealth and violent gunplay with BLUFOR achieving most of their objective before we called time.

Game 2 brought in some of the public to participate. I actually disappeared off for my lunch break during this battle so I didn’t see all of it but there was everything from awesome sniper shots, some clever tactics and a slightly explosive fumble that luckily didn’t cause any harm other than the need for some fresh pants.

Heading for the black box leads to some close quarters gun battles.

The final game of the day showed just how deadly Skirmish Sangin can be. Thanks to the operators picking a lot of explosive weapons (ranging from two AT4s to the multiple grenade launcher and airburst grenade launcher) the game was all action all the time. With both BLUFOR players ignoring stealth in favour of all action all the time, this was one game where the technicals were actually rolled out. The .50cal scared a few people, but the return fire was able to cut

The pickup takes an airburst round, shredding the insurgents near it
Later on, the MGL gunner engages the horde of technicals heading for the gold.

THOUGHTS ON VAPNARTAK

That was the game, how was the show? Well, apart from two evacuations after someone set the smoke alarm off twice, it was a fantastic show. Vapnartak does really well thanks to its timing at the start of the year, dragging in everyone looking to pickup new projects for a new year. The range of sellers is always great, and I was very excited to see both Spectre and Empress there. The combination of these two (plus people like Pig Iron Productions and Crooked Dice) is perfect for any ultramodern gamers.

Speaking of gamers, thanks to the size of York it’s perfect for meeting up with people you’ve only talked to online. Putting voices to names is always exciting and getting to talk about the hobby is one of my favourite things.

PLANS FOR NEXT TIME

So what’s next?

  • Work on the plane – change the edges of the cut to look less uniform, curl some of the panels, add some interior details (dangling wires and cargo nets) and then tweak the paint job
  • General repair work – make sure there are no chipped edges
  • Get the new buildings from Supreme Littleness Designs ready for action – I’m really excited to get these buildings into action. As I want to build and paint them up myself, there is going to be a little bit time to put aside to get these things built up but they should improve the look of the board and provide a nice tactical challenge for the players.
  • Tweak the battle – We’re almost there. The final gameplay tweak is going to be adding another two-man patrol to the OPFOR start. However, this patrol will be further back – they are not designed to be sentries, instead they will be backup once the action starts.

Something else I’m thinking about is future games. In the projects post for this year I’d mentioned my plan to do a second demo game, with its first run at Fiasco. As fun as this would be, one of the things I realised is that I kind of missed going to Vapa as a customer rather than as someone demoing. Chatting to the figure makers was limited to during a few small breaks. I also didn’t get to do as much browsing as I would like. Combining this with possible work schedules and I think I’ll be having a year off. Game 2 will be bumped back, giving me some more time to work on what exactly I want to do.

CONCLUSION

I’m so glad that we managed to show off at York. I’m even more glad that people really seemed to enjoy it. I had lots of great feedback from people (as always, a downed C130 draws the eye) and was really happy that lots of people totting cameras stopped to take proper photos. Seeing as the planned items is also much smaller, I think we are almost there with this game. Fingers crossed, the version shown at Hammerhead will be the definitive version, perfect for its final planned showing. So keep your eyes open for the final part of Operation Dragon’s Hoard at Hammerhead in March.