Briefing on Bazistan

You may have noticed the word “Bazistan” has been thrown around in several of the battle reports. So what on earth is it? Well, it’s an imagi-nation, a fake nation constructed for the simple purpose of providing a backdrop for my games. Rather than just including a random word in every battle, I thought I should actually explain what Bazistan is and why I use it.

Why an imagi-nation?

Despite playing “historical” rulesets, imagi-nations provide a powerful tool for gamers getting involved in ultramodern warfare. Here are the main reasons why I play in Bazistan rather Afghanistan or Iraq explicitly

  1. Avoiding difficult situations – One of the first things I learnt when I started trying to introduce people to ultramodern wargaming is that some people do not want to play in the modern day. Some people do not want to play anything past WW2. An imagination gives you a step back, letting you use the word “inspired by”. I have met a lot of people who would not play if I said the words “Kabul” rather than “Bazi City”.
  2. Total control over scenarios – In my opinion, playing in the real world requires you to be slightly more sensible and accurate with your missions – it would be strange to have Challenger 2s rolling around Afghanistan. In contrast, setting missions in Bazistan lets me play whatever I want. One week I could have a serious, military maneuver with British forces pushing through a village then the next have four thieves breaking into a warehouse used by a bunch of mercs, all using the same world. Similarly, I get reasons to use all sorts of forces. Pile of early ’90s US forces? Just found the forces for the local government. Collection includes Taliban and Iraqi insurgents? Bazistan has it’s tribal forces and urban militia.
  3. World Building – I come from a RPG playing background (one of the things that got me through my final project at uni was living with an excellent DM) and so writing worlds for me is fun. I’m also a huge Tom Clancy fan – following his lead using the real world as a starting point and tweaking a few factors is a great way to make something that feels real while also letting you mould it to your liking.

Overall, I can see both sides of the argument over imagi-nations. However, it’s a tool I like to pull from the box to make my games into something special.

Briefing on Bazistan

After WW1, when the British split the Arabian Peninsula, there was an additional kingdom that didn’t become part of Saudi Arabia. The Bazis are a proud tribe who managed to maintain control of their lands by acting as the middlemen to those who attempted to conquer them. To the Ottomans, the Bazi kept control of the lawless desert while providing their taxes on time. When the British arrived in Aden in 1838, the Bazis leased the land around Aden in perpetuity and provided access rights to the mines in the interior.

Post WW1, the Bazis established themselves as a kingdom  under King Bazhir the 1st. They appealed to the British and for a while became a protectorate, depending on the British for defence (particularly against their larger neighbour) and foreign policy. King Bazhir wanted to create a modern nation, welcoming in industrial concerns and assembling a modern defence force. WW2 saw Bazistan taking on the defence of the Bazi-Djibouti strait, allowing easy access for ships using the Suez Canal. Bazi troops also joined the Commonwealth forces in the Middle East, fighting in Iraq and forming part of the occupation force.

In the post war world, King Bazhir began in secret to foment a desire for Bazistan to no longer be under the British. Rather than seeking a violent break, Bazistan sorted out a deal and in the aftermath of Suez, Bazistan was diplomatically separated from Britain in 1958. Aden remained as a colony but after the announcement in 1968 that Britain was withdrawing from “east of Aden”, it also sought independence and became a tiny petrochemically funded state in 1970.

1970 also saw the death of King Bazhir the 1st, leaving the crown to his son who became King Bazhir the 2nd. The son was not as closely tied to the west as his father, having travelled to the Soviet Union as a student. This led to a shift in interior policies and a massive rearmament program that gave the CIA great concern. In November 1972 the Bazistani Army crossed into Aden in an attempt to seize the oilfields and mines. The local defence forces, assisted by the Royal Air Force and (it is rumoured) the SAS managed to stall the tanks in the mountains until a small British taskforce arrived. The Bazis eventually retreated after 40 days and the royal family (assisted by the Royal Guard) outsed Bazhir the 2nd, giving the throne to his cousin Ahmed.

Ahmed the 1st then decided to play a risky game. Rather than aligning with the East or West, Ahmed sat in the centre and proclaimed his country “The Switzerland of the Middle East”. Bazistan became a hotbed of espionage filled with spies from many nations while at the same time, taking advantage of anyone wishing to invest in the country. Around this time, King Ahmed opened the Royal Industrial area just outside Bazi City. The first occupant? The Argo Corporation, an American industrial conglomerate with multiple arms producing everything from farming machinery to weapon systems.

In the south, the Republic of Aden continued its growth as well, especially with the discovery of offshore oil in the Gulf of Aden. However, the democratic government became concerned about its security (especially after it’s discovery of oil and other resources) and so it signed a new agreement with the British. Rather than becoming a protectorate, Aden would give BP a first chance at all oil reserves and also provide Britain with a year round desert training area just outside of the city of Aden. This area has plenty of space for armoured units and fast jets to perform mock operations as well as fake neighborhoods for counter insurgency training. In return, the British would help train the local defence force and promise to guarantee independence.

As the Cold War ended, Bazistan was relatively stable and remarkably advanced for the region. King Ahmed however was growing old and frail. Seemingly to prevent the country imploding in a time that did not agree with monarchy, and cautious of the whispers of revolution on the wind, Ahmed setup a semi-constitutional system. The final buck stopped with the king but each district sent elected advisors to the court. Ahmed’s son, Bazhir the 3rd was to be the first king under this system and he took the throne in 1998 with the death of his father.

To put it mildly, the system proved to be terrible and Bashir the 3rd is a terrible king. As the 21st century began, much of the economic boom’s profit was spread out amongst the king and his advisors. Democratic elections failed almost entirely. As the price of oil began to plummet, Bazistan began to fall to pieces. To help break the camel’s back, an advisor managed to sneak in a law that allowed the forming of private militias for “self defence”. At the same time, the Argo Corporation have announced the expansion of their security department in order to protect their interests in the country.

South of the border, Aden became even more important as a partner to the British. The Aden Warm Weather Training Centre became a key facility for the British Army in the Middle East, providing acclimatisation training for troops heading to Iraq and as a testing ground for new equipment. Even after the withdrawal, Aden hosts a yearly desert warfare training exercise that brings in forces from around the world to share experience. Additionally, Private Military Companies have paid to use the training area before contracts in the triple states that now form Iraq or bodyguard duty in the Gulf States.

Current Situation

So that’s the basic situation in Bazistan, what is going on as the wargaming period (2014 onwards) begins?

Internally, Bazistan is beginning to crack. The mountain tribes are seeking a return to traditional ways. Rebellious acts are on the rise and the army has been deployed as part of policing actions. Images of BTRs and T72s fighting through mountain passes and Hinds flying down the valleys remind many defence journalists of the Russian intervention in Afghanistan. In the cities, there has been a rise in militias forming. These groups have now created no-go zones in key urban areas. Worse, these militias have been engaging the government security forces in battle and the attackers have included mercenaries from Eritrea (many still carrying their military ID cards). The worsening security situation, as well as the slowing economy, has led to a rise in PMCs hired by both the government and local interests.

Well the first thing is the worsening situation between Bazistan and its neighbours. In the south, factions seeking to overturn the Aden lease have been running cross border raids in an attempt to force the Republic into joining it’s larger brother. The most recent attack saw the involvement of British forces after a patrol discovered the insurgents setting up a resupply point and requested air support. Britain has warned Bazistan about these events and are deploying more troops to assist the Aden Security Force (ASF).

Bazistan is also the home of a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Ever since it’s creation, Saudi Arabia has been very concerned about Bazistan’s border and it’s proximity to Mecca. During the 1980’s, Bazistan and Saudi Arabia had several border crossing incidents with fighter jets have several close encounters and a dangerous crash that led to a hot point. To prevent this happening again, Saudi Arabia began spending its money to arm sympathetic militias and keep key friendly government elements in power.

On the other side, Iran sees Bazistan as the perfect back door into Saudi Arabia. If the Bazistan government was to be friendlier to Iran, it would force Saudi Arabia to fight on two fronts. To help this, Iran has been funding militias, insurgent groups and politicians interested in regime change. They have also deployed QUDs Force, leading to the CIA descending on the area to hunt these troublemakers down before they can cause any major issues.

Finally, Russia sees Bazistan as a potential ally in the region. They have begun to increase investment and recently signed a bilateral deal to provide access to the Bazistan Desert Training Area in return for economic assistance. This has seen the arrival of small elements of the Russian armed forces in the country. In addition, a recent report leaked to the Guardian included mentions of a large Russian intelligence gathering and direct action base in Bazi City.

Moving on in the timeline there will be several events fixed in stone. At some point, following what has been labelled “The Bazistan Incident” in my notes, ISAF AP will cross from Aden into Bazistan as a peacekeeping force. Apart from that, I’m writing up more events as I play more games.

Factions

  • Bazistan – Bazistan’s army is a mixture of equipment – first line infantry and armour are equipped with western gear while the second line and reserves are armed with the old Soviet tanks and weapon systems. The army is still in a reasonable state in spite of the economic issues.
    • Royal Guard – A subset of the army, the Royal Guard has the best equipment and training. In addition, the Royal Guard have special forces units designed for covert operations in defence of the royal family.
    • Internal Security Force – Formerly known as the National Police of Bazistan, the ISF function as both police and as additional army units as and when required. To assist in this role, the ISF have several BTR 80s for military use
  • Aden Security Force (ASF) – South of the border, the ASF protect the Republic of Aden. A self defence force, the ASF is designed to police the civilian population and hold long enough in wartime for the West to intercede. Although not as well trained or as well equipped as the British, it is a professional force.
  • ISAF AP (International Security Assistance Force: Arabian Peninsula) – Encompassing all expeditionary forces in Arabia (including NATO forces stationed in Saudi Arabia)
    • UK – The British have a permanent force as part of the training centre in Aden and rotates other units through
    • US – Despite the US having a base in Djibouti, some units have been taking part in exercises in Aden. US Marines, US Army Rangers and a Stryker Combat Team have all rotated through. Additionally, an arrangement is in place to allow USSOCOM to operate from Aden when required.
    • Other nations – French, German, Australian and New Zealand forces have all attended exercises at the ranges in Aden.
  • PMC – There are multiple Private Military Companies operating in the region ranging from purely security forces to trainers working with the Bazistan government up to contractors providing special operations skills to the highest bidder.
    • The Argo Corporation – Argo has several divisions in Bazistan, including a large proportion of their armament industry. Because of this, Argo has expanded it’s security. Argo now has a wide range of capabilities from facility security up to pre-emptive strikes against possible threats to the company.
    • Commando Global Solutions – One of the smaller companies on the circuit, CGS offers capabilities to it’s clients that would be more usually seen in the SOF community. They are also the protagonists of the main series of games included in Weekend Warfare
  • Irregular Forces – As well as official regular forces, Bazistan is fast becoming home to a wide variety of irregular, non-governmental forces.
    • Urban Militias – Thanks to a change in the law, there has been an explosion in the rise of militias controlling various neighbourhoods in the major cities. These militias are armed in various ways
      • Local Defence – Most militias are being formed by a neighbourhood, wanting to protect it from criminal organisations and other forces that might threaten their life. BEcause of their lack of backing, the defence militias are primarily armed with assault rifles and using civilian vehicles to get around.
      • Iran Friendly – Several militias have gained patronage from the government of Iran. The Revolutionary Guard see these militias a way of implementing a change in regime in Bazistan and so have provided training, equipment and trained Quds force troops to act as advisers and leaders.
      • Saudi Friendly –  As an almost mirror image to the Iranian friendly groups, Saudi Arabia has been backing it’s own militias, particularly in Bazi City itself. The Saudis act primarily through middlemen who use the funding source to purchase vehicles and weapons for the militia fighters.
    • Criminal Organisations – With the worsening economic situation, criminal groups are becoming more common in Bazistan. These groups are often working for one of the king’s advisers, reclaiming debts, running rackets and fighting the Internal Security Force and militias.
    • Mountain Tribes – In the south of Bazistan is a maze of valleys and mountains. For thousands of years, several tribes have lived in these hills practising a traditional way of life. As Bazistan has changed, these tribes have proved to be very anti-government. As well as fighting Bazistan, mountain tribes had ended up clashing with the ASF when they cross the border.
    • Eritrean Mercs – Due to its close proximity across the straits and due to a separate crisis inside of Eritrea, members of the Eritrian Army have been leaving the country and moving to Bazistan to work as contractors. In particular, many militia groups have hired them due to their better level of training on support weapons and ability to procure them.
    • Pirates – The Red Sea is exceptionally busy thanks to the Suez canal. Pirates, both Eritrean and Bazistani, have begun to operate from the Bazistan coastline, using small fast boats and lots of firepower to capture ships and their crew. These are then ransomed back to the ship’s owners.

Conclusion

So that’s the first briefing on Bazistan. As I play more games I’ll keep expanding it, adding in more recent events.

I’ll admit, it’s a bit more Tom Clancy than real life but it has led to some great games already. I’m also looking forward to the hobby projects coming from this. I need to paint up some figures for the Bazistan army as well as more for the Aden Defence Force ready to run some counter-insurgent operations alongside their British trainers.

Impressions: Empress Dismounted AFV Crew

When you start to add vehicles to the tabletop, it’s just a matter of time until you need crewman figures thanks to some lucky rebel with an RPG. For light vehicles the standard line infantry will do but as you start to get to the heavier end of the AFV’s available, crewmen start wearing different helmets and vests.

Luckily, Empress have just released some packs to help you out. Available for both the US and the UK armed forces, each nation gets both a mounted and dismounted version. As I haven’t got any vehicles waiting to assemble, I just picked up the dismounted version.

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I then made a fatal mistake. Rather than just relying on unpainted figures, I decided I could get all of my figures painted in a week. WHAT COULD GO WRONG? Well, the delayed posting time on this should tell you all you need to know

US Crew

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The US Crew has a pretty even split weaponwise, with two armed with M4 carbines and two with just pistols. There is some nice variation in the poses although the injured crewman clutching his arm reminds you that this is very much a scenario pack rather than figures for a standing army. The crewman with the pistol has a bandana across his face, similar to images you can find online. As you can also see from the photo above, three of the figures in the pack are multipart using Empress’s usual system of a pin and hole.

There seems to be some variation amongst US Army crewmen as to if they wear coveralls or camo uniforms. To keep things simple, I went with the ACU pattern I used for rest of my troops, relying on the different poses and helmets to distinguish them.

Of course now I really need to paint up an AFV for them to use – the two Strykers I picked up at Salute will be perfect for them to use.

UK Crew

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The British crew is much more ready for a fight, with three soldiers with L22 AFV carbines (a tiny variant of the standard L85) and one with a pistol. Two of the figures have separate arms but it’s only one arm rather than the matched sets. Interestingly, with the right paint job the British Downed Pilot set that Empress do (BRIT07) would fit in perfectly, giving you two additional figures.

When the models first arrived, my initial thoughts was to use the old method of MTP painting. However, Spectre have released their multicam guide so I finally bit the bullet and tried. The process was easy and I’m really happy with the end result. I made a few alterations to the listed method:

  1. Used larger brown areas to give it a browner tinge
  2. The dark brown and white patches were thin lines rather than smaller squares.

I like the scheme enough that there is going to be an interesting part to Monday’s Weekend Warfare.

Outro

Overall these are fantastic models. They are obviously designed to standout on the battlefield. I don’t think you would use these models in every game but they really help to make scenarios standout, giving you something more interesting to defend than just a counter. The fact they match up to their mounted counterparts is even better. If you have any AFVs and there is even a chance that it might need bailed out crew, these models are a must buy.

If you are on the Russian side, Empress already does some Russian AFV crew on foot as part of their Red Star range. I don’t have these models but from looking at them at shows and on other people’s’ blogs

Impressions: Scatter Terrain Part 2

In my previous Scatter Terrain post, I looked at everything resin. Now however, we move onto the world of MDF. Some of these may hit the boundary of what you class as scatter terrain but are included anyway.

Knights of Dice Cell Towers

Made of lots of little parts, these towers once built are perfect for making a building into a command post or data centre. Instructions are provided on the Knights of Dice store.

Knights of Dice Crates

Some of the cleverest design for building crates, these are made of flat sided 3D shapes with an detail layer sat on top. Perfect for filling warehouses or loading onto vehicles. Instructions can be found on their site.

Knights of Dice Pallets

Found everywhere, these are my favourite pallets. As well as the cool loader, the five pallets just look perfect and can be assembled super quickly. The instructions for both the pallets and the loader can be found on their website.

Sarissa Precision Market Stall

Easily assembled, this pack contains three stalls and six tables. The stalls are simple to build and can be easily tweaked by adding a cover to the top rail. However, the stars of the show are the tiny tables. They can be glued down but a better idea is to leave them free to move, perfect for your troops to flip when the bullets start flying.

TTCombat Site Fencing

Perfect for setting up obstacles and marking out the exterior of a facility, this site fencing is really great. The packet contains a load of sections (10 in total) and plenty of parts to link them together. The total length is quite long making the set a great deal.

TTCombat Intermodal Containers

You always need more containers. These are assembled from seven pieces and include opening doors. Each pack contains three making them a fantastic deal.

TTCombat Security Office

When building your industrial site, you’ll need somewhere for your guard to sit out of the rain and to check car entering the site. The office has one interior room and also includes two stop barriers. Simple to build and great looking on the board.

 

TTCombat Builders Office

Somewhere else for the guards to hide from the rain, this little office is simple but effective. I really like it as kit. In addition, you can place it inside a large warehouse to add some more detail.


As you might expect, my scatter terrain collection will continue to grow. Expect more parts coming soon!

Weekend Warfare 3 – INTEL01 “Thieves in the Night”

Part 3 of Weekend Warfare steps away from the adventures of CGS (don’t worry, more reports are coming soon following those lunatics). Instead we look at a side story, based on events that took place in Bazistan before Commando Global Solutions arrived. These stories are based off Intel requested by officers in the company

Argo Corporation maintains several depots in Bazistan. These depots will often contain Argo made products getting ready for local distribution but can also act as storehouses for Argo Black Ops in the region.

6 months ago, -REDACTED- discovered Argo was stockpiling gear and preparing to move contractors in country. -REDACTED- hired a team of freelance operators to break into a depot and document the hardware that was in place.

The freelance operators chose to break in before the contractors arrived, when the only personnel at the site were an overnight crew not expecting trouble.


The freelance operators comprised of four characters

  • “Hawthorne” – Elite with SMG
  • “Compton” – Elite with silenced SMG
  • “Alameda” – Veteran with assault rifle
  • “Hollywood” – Average with assault rifle

There are two interesting points about these guys – the first is the range of experience. Two are elites ready to roll but the others are less well-trained. I presume they found Hollywood in a bar somewhere. The other thing is the lack of gear. None of the guys are wearing body armour and only one of them is using a silenced weapon. In other words, they are not in the best state for the mission they have signed up for – the plan is to rely on not getting spotted.

Against them are 8 guards. The four with M16s are all fully trained (rated Average) and start off duty in the sight office. The four armed with pistols are renta-cops (either Novices or Average) and begin wandering set paths inside the warehouse.

The goal of the game is for the Operatives to place trackers inside 5 ammo boxes spread throughout the warehouse. Depending on how many are tagged will determine if the Operative succeed in their mission, each tracker placed improves the final roll by 20%. If they need to set off the alarm off to do this task, it doesn’t matter. However, due to a lack of numbers and armour, it would be best to be avoided

The Operatives stack up
Warehouse 1 with the two guards on patrol
Warehouse 2 with the two guards on patrol. The operators were placed inside due to some camera positioning issues

As the game begins, all is quiet with the guards continuing their patrol routes. Hawthorne and Hollywood are the first to enter, sneaking up to the shelving and coming to a halt. Hawthrone, keeping his eyes open for movement ahead of him, finds the first of the ammo cases and cracks it open. Placing a tracker inside, the first part of the objectives are achieved.

Compton, the second in command of this little group, then enters the warehouse. Walking through the half-light of a dark interior, he spots movement and a flashing torch ahead of him on the ground floor. However, his attempts to spot the exact source fail. In contrast, one of the guards (Waters) peers over the gantry and spots someone who doesn’t seem to be wearing a security guard’s uniform. A flash of a torch and Compton has been spotted. All it would take is a radio call and suddenly the rest of the guards would come rushing in.

Sensing his hastily planned mission is about to go awry, Hawthorne now decides time is of the essence. He sprint up the board and runs head long into Jones, another guard. Hawthorne throws his weight and slams Jones backwards. However, Jones isn’t knocked unconscious (instead running back behind a shelf) and the noise of the scuffle sets alarm bells ringing. With the rest of the guards now getting into combat positions, Hollywood finishes placing a tracker, pulls his gun and starts to rock and roll. Spotting Waters up on the gantry, he raises his assault rifle and sends a burst flying down between the shelves. It misses but forces him to duck for cover. This movement attracts Compton’s attention and he also hammers a burst of 9mm rounds up towards the gantry. These rounds hit and cause a lot of damage, knocking Waters unconscious with a Critical wound. One guard is now out of action.

More worryingly, the reaction team begin to enter the warehouse, sprinting for cover (one of them even flips a table over thanks to too many action films) or rushing up onto the gantry. However Alameda, the final operative has also entered the proceedings and rushes to cover near his boss and long time friend.

The guards start attempting to spot the intruders and for a little while the battle turns into a two-way shooting range with both sides trading fire for not much result after everyone dived for cover. There are some close calls (including a shot missing by 1%). The main result is the slow progress of the operatives up the board, with a third tracker placed by Alameda.

On the guards side, one memorable moment is when Baptist (one of the reaction guards) draws a bead on Hawthrone. He spots, aims and shoots. Its unsure what happens next but probably inspired by the action film they had been watching in the hut and maybe related to an unauthorised modification to a trigger sear, but Baptist proceeded to mag dump all 30 rounds into the wall. Even worse, he seemed to have misplaced all his spare magazines and would have to go grab one from one of this buddies (translated: he rolled a 100 which is a fumble in Skirmish Sangin).

Compton rushed up to cover and almost barged into Jones, still recovering from that first melee attack. Compton however quickly responds putting two shots into Jones chest before a final shot to his head to finish him off. However, exposing himself to get there draws the attention of the guards and a hail of fire flies over his head, almost pinning him in place.

Other guards continue to hammer fire at the rest of the operatives. One, by the name of Brown, pulls up his pistol and scores a hit on Hawthorne. It’s only a graze, a light wound. In return, Hawthorne swings around and puts a burst of accurate fire at Brown. The hits pummel Brown and falls unconscious from the shock. This sudden violence shocked many of the other guards letting up the fire slightly.

Hawthorne, watching the clock, realises that it might be time to cut their losses and flee before the rest of the reaction force turns up. Giving clipped orders, the operatives start to peel away with Hollywood taking the lead. Alameda followed, popping off a shot to pin down any pursuit. Compton even managed to brave the fire and begin his own withdrawal. However, before Hawthrone could join them, one of the guards popped out from behind his table and dropped the leader of the operatives with a short burst (the hit was a massive 17 damage on 2D10).

Despite this last act of defiance, the Operatives had managed to fulfil at least part of their objectives and escaped into the night leaving only one of their number behind. Now they just had to hope the trackers were working….


So final count:

  • 3 Guards knocked out of commission
  • 1 Operative KIA and left in the warehouse
  • 3/5 trackers placed giving a 60% chance of the trackers actually working as intended. Rolling the dice I got a 25, meaning that the mission was overall a success and -REDACTED- now know where the Argo mercs are heading. Starting point for a future mission maybe?

Overall it was a fun game. The testing of stealth rules was rumbled by a valid detection and instead it turned into the test of fighting through the TTCombat Warehouse. There were a few places where I was struggling to fit my chunky gamer hands but it’s a great place for just a simple battle through it if you don’t fancy laying out an entire board. The multiple levels and bays, as well as the shelves you get in the kit. The only downside is that there are limited chances to flank without exposing yourself. Having smoke grenades or adding a small outside area would help solve the issue.

Additionally, the lack of people with body armour led to much more cautious play, sticking to cover and using suppression. However, when someone got hit they normally dropped down hard. A 1D10 pistol becomes a lot more horrifying when there isn’t body armour to block it.

I also really like Skirmish Sangin for such a small game – each character feels like a separate person with their own skill level. For example, Hollywood’s rifle skill in this was almost as good as Alameda but Hollywood did suffer from a lower morale due to being Average rather than Veteran meaning he was more likely. In your mind’s eye, Hollywood becomes the skilled new guy who may be more likely to run away than the seasoned old-timer Alameda.

I’m coming to the end of a few things, and hopefully with have my terrain boards back so expect more Weekend Warfare soon!

Impressions: TTCombat Distribution Depot Set

Okay, this is a big one.

Normally when looking at buildings for wargaming, the focus is on making the outside look great. The inside becomes a second thought. However, TTCombat’s latest release is a visual treat both inside and out. It’s also ridiculously huge.

The Distribution depot is designed to be a centrepiece of a game, allowing gamers to play both inside and out, fighting through the cargo bays and across gantries. As an airsofter, it already feels like some of the urban sites I’ve played through. It’s on the more premium side of TTCombat’s releases and it’s obvious a lot of design went into it

Before I get into the impressions, you may have noticed (if you follow my Facebook page) I had an issue with the baseboard for the depot. However, within a day of telling the folks at TTCombat I had new one in my hands. Interestingly, the broken original arrived as a single piece while the replacement was in two pieces like the baseboard for the extension. I’m not sure how this happened and it’s quite possible I got something that missed QC. However, big positive on customer support.

Additionally, I haven’t got round to adding all of the cardboard detailing panels to hide the joins so excuse them missing from the photos below.

Common Parts

So the first thing I advice before building the depot is to read through all the instructions for the various bits you may have picked up. There are quite a few ways to assemble them, depending on if you want the office connected to the rest of the depot or separate, or if you want to use one or more extension kits.

As with all MDF kits – YOU NEED TO DRY FIT EVERYTHING. This is the biggest and most complex MDF kit I’ve seen (ignoring the truly gigantic galaxy building) and so there are lots of places where it can go horribly wrong. I really recommend not rushing it and taking your time as you assemble it.

Across all the buildings, the construction is primarily MDF with cardboard detailing panels. The most common use for the cardboard is covering up the various places where the MDF slots together and bridging the gaps in the roof. I think this is a very clever use of the materials but as a final step it is a little bit laborious as you slowly but surely add the straight pieces after having just assembled an entire thing. Both the MDF and Cardboard are quite securely on their sprues, require them to be cut away rather than simply “popped out”.

The Depot

The depot is the key to the entire setup – there is no reason to purchase the other two kits without first getting this one. By default the depot has two cargo bays and a double entry door at the front. There are also two other exit doors, one at the rear and one in an end wall. The internal area is about 40cm x 20cm.

As you can see while building, the basic structure is a two piece baseboard, two single part end pieces, and two long pieces made of triangular roof pieces added to wall pieces. These form the key structure with each clipping into the other and providing a good framework. From here, you start adding additional elements, fitting the sliding shutters (moveable in their rail container), adding the front loading steps before adding the shade over the bays. This shade shows off using cardboard to cover joins as well as the numbers that mark out which bay is which.

Inside, most of the floor space is left open but there is a gantry level. It sits quite high off the floor level, easily letting you fill the ground floor with containers and more. The gantry is assembled from MDF base pieces with a layer of cardboard on top. Both pieces are expertly cut out, making it easy to fit them together and allow additional elements such as ladders to be put into place. Around the gantry are is a railing, that holds the gantry’s surface up.  The gantry also include another ladder heading to the roof.

As you would expect, the roof is removable to let you access the interior. The roof has some nice details such as fluorescent lights and open panels. More importantly for something you’ll be moving on and off, they feel really solid. I don’t feel concerned about putting them down while playing.

For all the great parts of this kit, there are one or two little issues. I think the instructions are useful but there are lots of places where it took a while to work out exactly what is going on. There are also some strange issues with parts. I seemed to be missing parts of the stairs; instead having shorter stair props, I instead had duplicates of the stair with banister. This was easily fixed, requiring a quick snip to prevent them covering up the front entrances but was a little unexpected. In addition, there is a set of four holes in the backboard which look like somewhere you would normally attach the banisters to but are not used. Finally, as with other TTCombat kits there were one or two places I had to trim a part or two, most notably on the banisters where they connect to the front wall. Another reason to test with dry fits.

But wait there is more! The depot also comes with some additional bits to help fill the large interior.

I really like the fork lift included in the set. It’s just about the right height for my 28mm figures and is packed full of character. There is a slight downside in that they only really work well carrying the TTCombat pallets – anything heavier on the forklift just tips over. Even so, just look at it!

The depot also includes three shelving sets. These are really cool and help to fill the interior without blocking all the lines of sight. The gap between the shelving is perfect sized for the various crates you may buy, including a large pack offered by TTCombat.

I’m less excited about pallets. After having assembled the entirely MDF Knights of Dice ones, these are just disappointing. Rather than made out of just wood, they are instead combinations of MDF “legs” and a cardboard top. Having made a few of them, I have little faith in them maintaining their structure as they seem to flex a lot..

More exciting is the ramp that lets you wheel things up to the level of the front doors. MDF side pieces hold up a cardboard surface. It looks very cool. The only downside? It would have been nice to have a second one to allow for one to be placed on either side so vehicles could drive in and out of the depot or have them lined up at both bays.

The Extension Kit

Okay so the depot is big. But what if you need it to be EVEN bigger?

Fundamentally, the extension kit is another set of front and back walls with a slightly different layout and a method of attaching to the original building. The kit does require you to use the end wall from the Depot meaning you can’t easily switch between a single depot building and one that is extended. The new layout moves the gantry into going only along the back wall and increases the number of bays from two to three. Everything else, from initial frame to assembling the roof is made using the same techniques as the main building.

As with the depot, the extension kit also includes three shelving units, a ramp and a pile of pallets. These are the same as the main depot so check above for my impressions.

Finally, after looking over the plans (and realising how far the detailing numbers go), it looks like you could easily extend the depot to have even more bays simply by adding another extension kit in between the original depot and the kit you have assembled with the end wall. It’s a cool idea, but seeing as the depot + extension is almost 3ft in length, you will need a giant board.

The Office

Going from the huge buildings in the rest of the series, the office is a bit of a step down. Designed to give you somewhere for the security guards to hang out, the office is two storeys high but only has a ground floor. The building also has a normal door and a vertical moving slide door. The roof is also removable. On the other hand, the office does not include any interior furniture.

It’s a cool little building and I think any depot park without would be a bit lacking. It’s also a nice change of pace to build after the complexity of the rest of the depot.

If you assemble it without the back wall, and don’t install the light above the entrance to the depot, you can clip the office to the main depot. This lets you easily create a reception area (perfect if you’re trying to make a Royal Mail depot).

Final Thoughts

Overall, I’m very impressed with the range. Once fully assembled, it a true centrepiece, drawing the eye to it. With the roof on, it towers over the rest of the board. Remove the roof and you suddenly have a large interior space that can easily be filled with scatter terrain to form a complete battlezone.

It also seems a decent price. For all three kits, you’re looking at around £80. If you compare it to Sarissa’s factory (around £50), that £30 difference gets you a huge increase in playable area and a pile of scatter terrain. Of course, you could just combine them to build up an industrial park, all ready for your troops to fight through.

For as much as I like it, it would be cool to be able to have a bit more depth to it, letting you have a much larger warehouse to fight through. You could try to custom build it by sawing a hole through the back walls and adding an additional depot but it would require a fair amount of bodging to get it fully working.

If you’re wanting something to make you board stand out or have a certain desire to fight through parked HGVs and shelves full of crates, then this kit is for you. Of course, it does now mean I’m terrified to see what TTCombat is going to bring to Salute next year.


I hope you all enjoyed that as much as I enjoyed building it. Next weekend, keep your eyes open for a battle report showing some dodgy business going down at the depot…

STOP THE PRESS: Just as this goes to be posted, TTCombat have released a range of new sets to complement the depot, such as additional machinery and shelving units. Expect an impressions in the future!

Impressions: Scatter Terrain Part 1

Strictly speaking, terrain isn’t technically needed for a wargame – a few pieces of cardboard with labels on can play the role of buildings and walls. However, terrain makes games much more interesting, giving you something to actually fight over rather. While big buildings and rolling hills help shape the gameplay and draw the eye, smaller items and scatter terrain brings the game to life. Its makes urban streets feel like somewhere people live, adds detail to otherwise empty plains and provide vital cover in skirmish games.

There are two sets of impressions coming for scatter and smaller terrain items. This first article will cover plastic and resin items while the second will look at everything made from MDF.

Spectre Trash Piles

This set from Spectre was the first bits of terrain I picked up and they are pretty fantastic. The pack includes three cardboard boxes, three small rubbish bags and a large bag pile. All the terrain pieces have flat bottoms while the large pile also has flat back, perfect for fitting next to a building in a crowded alley. Both parts are great for adding some decoration to a street scene or terrifying your opponents by using them as possible IED sites.

Spectre Oil Drums

All games that involve shooting need barrels (especially red ones) and these are great. Each pack includes 10 barrels. They have a nice level of detail and paint up nicely. The only major issues is you can see some casting lines and a few of the barrels have some missing rims after some use.

Spectre Barricades – Alfa

Designed by The Lazy Forger, these barricades are amazing and an easy way to meet the chest high wall requirements of any mission. The pack includes six full size barricades and one partial barricade. Each one is unique and full of detail, really giving a war-torn feel to a board. The barricades are flat edged so really fit best forming straight lines.

Spectre Barricades – Bravo

Another Lazy Forger designed product, these vertical barricades provide full height cover. The pack includes six walls and once each is unique. They are also filled with evocative detail, such as the exposed re-bar inside the concrete and the masses of bullet holes. The walls have a concave edge on one side and a convex edge on the other, letting them fit together and hiding most of the join.

To add, both of these products make me really excited for what The Lazy Forger is doing next – Brick Walls! These are instantly useful and will make both building modification and board setup even easier.

Spectre Ammo Boxes

Not yet on general release, these hard cases were available at Salute 2017 and will presumably coming soon. There are a few casting lines that need trimming down but the level of detail on them is ridiculous for such a small item. These will look great when building a military outpost or wanting some objectives for teams to fight over.

TTCombat Portable Toilet Set

Most of the time your figures are answering the call of duty but sometimes they might need to answer the call of nature. These resin portaloos (coming in a pack of four) are simple and do the job, making temporary military installations or building sites slightly more realistic and also adding some full height cover. They are one piece of resin and feel really solid. Luckily they also don’t include the smell.

 

TTCombat Bank Accessories

Money, it makes the world go round. This pack is designed to add-on to an MDF building, letting you fill it with loot. The vault door and safes are really cool but the gold bars in various combinations are spot on for objective markers. If you’re wanting something more mobile the cash sacks are just the right size for using as markers, letting you know which of your troops have grabbed the swag.

TTCombat Bank Accessories 2

The second part of bank accessories are more security focused. It includes two burglar alarms, two piece security cameras (allowing for some careful placing and angling) and pieces required for a security console (such as a keyboard and a screen). Unlike the Bank Accessories 1, this one is very much focused on upgrading other pieces of terrain. However, it is very effective at this job and gives you a lot of bang for your buck.


The resin stuff is great for objects on the smaller side, but once you start using cheap laser cut MDF and scatter terrain can start doing some really cool stuff for the slightly bigger things. Come back in two weeks for part two where I’ll cover MDF constructs including shipping containers, pallets and more!

Impressions: Sarissa Precision Industrial

Sarissa Precision are pretty high on my list of favourite terrain companies thanks to their wonderfully detailed buildings. Among my favourites in the range are two buildings from their Industrial range, the factory and the office. I first saw these thanks to Spectre’s playtest report and was immediately interested in them.

Like all Sarissa buildings, both arrive on A4 sheets of laser cut mdf. In addition, they also have some cardboard detailing panels that sit inside the MDF. Unusually for an MDF building, the kit actually includes instructions which is massively appreciated to make sure no mistakes happen during assembly. For both kits, the MDF parts were cleanly cut and came away from the sprue really easily. The cardboard is a useful addition and easy to place but I’m less happy with the doors, especially the larger warehouse ones. The hinge is quite thin and just asking to eventually fall away if constantly moved. I will probably end up glueing or taping them.

Both kits include gantry items which can be combined together. As you can see above, this lets you bridge between the two buildings or just make a bridge. The gantries are simple to construct and look very effective on the tabletop.

In terms of scale, the Sarissa kits fit perfectly with the 28mm figures I have. The gantries are perfectly sized for 26mm bases (and would probably fit the 30mm bases used by Batman and other games) and the warehouse door easily fit most of the vehicles I have.

Factory – Office/Warehouse

(Please note, the metal air conditioning is not part of the kit but was added to make removing the roof easier)

This building is two stories and designed to be the perfect side building alongside larger factory units. The ground floor is slightly taller than usual and  has two large warehouse doors and a side entrance. Above it, the top floor has a side door for use with a gantry . The top floor also has a slot through the floor but I’m not sure it’s suitable for a staircase – it’s also too short for the height of the building and would block entryways in either alignment. However, a ladder or pulley system could be fitted depending on the building’s purpose.

The roof and top floor are removable with the roof resting on the top of the cardboard detail layers. Inside the building, the top floor rests in two slots in the cardboard and is surprisingly sturdy if a little fiddly to place correctly.

On both floors, the detail cardboard has lots of windows meaning the building has plenty of fire points. The outside also has a chimney or water pipe. unfortunately I managed to mess up construction of this and so on mine it’s slightly misshapen.

 

Overall, I really like this building. It works both with other industrial buildings or settled amongst more civilian dwellings for a little variation. The two floors also make it interesting to play through. As the description on the website, it could be warehouse with a storage area upstairs or an office depending on how you want to decorate the interior. This is a building I’d be interested in picking up a second.

Factory – Large

If you’re looking for a centrepiece to your wargaming board, the Sarissa factory is perfect. About 1ft square and two stories high, the factory just toes the line between “terrain feature” and “play area”. The interior is dominated by the open warehouse floor but there is also a smaller room under chimney (perfect for sneaking in through) and a second floor balcony so you can take the high ground and get a good view over anything inside. The balcony can be accessed by both a gantry on the outside and also from a ladder from within. The balcony is not removable.

The two end pieces are mirrored and both include two warehouse doors and a standard door.

A cool feature of the factory is the interior crane. This is composed of three parts – a frame, central gantry and the crane unit itself. I do not recommend gluing the frame in place if you intend to actually play through the interior as it sticks out and can prevent gamer hands from being able to place figures. Similarly, the gantry and unit can also be left unglued thanks to how well they grip the tracks which means the crane can be repositioned depending on the scenario. I’m a big fan of it. Especially if you get someone up on top of the crane, just asking to fall to the ground once he is taken out.

Finally, here are all the bits that make up the warehouse. The roof is easy to take on and off (resting on the struts you can see in the interior photo) and also feels very solid once constructed. The gaps in the roof could be filled with plastic for glazing if you want to add that extra detail.

 

Conclusion

So, overall how do I like the buildings? They are fantastic kits to build, easy to knock up over an evening. Once constructed they just look great, giving even the barest of boards a cool edge. I have my reservations about the cardboard doors but having played a few games using them, they are very gameable items of terrain letting you sweep and clear without having to carefully balance figures on strange angles.

There is however one thing to think about and that is the price. The factory is £50 and the office is £20. You get a lot of stuff for that cost but it is definitely on the higher end of MDF pricing for this size.

Overall though, a big thumbs up from me! Now I just need to go paint them…