Battle Report: Home of the Wolf – Skirmish Sangin

It was the last club night before Halloween – something slightly spooky was required. With freshly finished scenario in one hand, and freshly painted werewolves in the other, we sat down to play… Home of the Wolf!

The scenario saw 8 UKSF soldiers and a SIS agent going up against 3 werewolves. Thanks to the design of the scenario, I managed to fit two games of it in.


The board ready to play, with an abandoned compound in the middle of a forested valley. I think this was the most trees I’ve used in any of my wargames.

First game saw me taking control of the werewolves. The SAS setup throughout the central compound, in particular taking the high ground.

Slightly blurry shot, but it isn’t a werewolf film without a shot of one howling to the moon. I went for a scatter approach, probing for a thin point and then using my superior speed to mass suddenly at that position.

The start of the game didn’t exactly go my way. Werewolf number 3 was shot before he even activated, having been spotted early on and shot down by the combined gun fire of two Operators (including the SIS agent).

Werewolf number 2 ran straight into the two-man combination of shotgun/LMG trooper, leapt on top of the gunner and ripped him to pieces sending morale markers everywhere. Werewolf kills generate additional morale effects so even the elite and veterans were suffering morale failures.

Meanwhile the Alpha bounded over the wall and engaged one of the operators covering the front. Luckily for the trooper, he managed to parry the werewolf’s furious strikes.

I must have missed the photo but the two-man killing team that took out Werewolf 3 slewed round and finished off the alpha as well. About 4 phases in and I was down to 1/3 of my force.

Back on the rooftop, the shotgun trooper now stared down the last werewolf. Before it could leap forward he took aim and pulled the trigger. And….

Rolled a misfire. The shotgun jammed and now required 3AP to clear it.

The last wolf leapt off the roof and went running for some concealment. Maybe another ambush would help it get its prey.

After having watched the operators move to regroup, the wolf jumped in to take out another operator but got hit by the mother of all snapfires. Everyone in the arc opened up. However, the wolf managed to take the storm of bullets before slashing it’s target down and then sprinting away into the darkness.

As the wolf player, I was running out of options. So I went for a hail mary – moving round the compound, leaping over the wall and then trying to get some stealth kills by sneaking up behind

Alas, it was not to be. The wolf’s attacks were parried and in the next turn, he was dogpiled by the remaining SAS troopers.

Final result – all wolves dead, two SAS trooper critically incapacitated. Looks like the boys at Porton Down are about to have some new things to investigate.


I took a different approach when I jumped in as the SAS. Rather than sitting in the compound, I decided to make a break for the separate building and look for a spot where I could take advantage of massed firepower without being ambushed (also to avoid wolves jumping over the walls). To this end, I setup at the south gate ready for a sprint.

The downside of this blob approach was the fact the wolves could get much closer and very soon one had jumped over the wall to get at a straggler. However, snapfire inflicted some serious damage, dropping him to half health and his attempts at combat were parried.

This wolf then attempted to flee but Cunningham the SIS agent was having none of it. Upon activating she turned, sighted the fleeing wolf and dropped it with a burst before it could regenerate

The SAS attempted to make a break for it but upon exiting the compound got slammed by the other wolf.

After some bouncing around (including a good few hits on the wolf that regeneration didn’t get round to fix) one of the wolves managed to cause a wound on one of the rear guard. This caused a bubble of morale markers but the Operators were not being put down by a few oversized dogs.

At this point, the Alpha really got to strut its stuff. First it disemboweled the shotgunner (the snapfire shot missed by rolling equal to the target value) before killing the LAW gunner outright.

Raging at this kill, three of the SAS bum rushed the Alpha and with a flurry of blows (helped by the fact the wolves can’t parry).

The other wolf, seeing the Alpha taken down, promptly failed its morale test and made a run for the hills, followed by a chorus of jeers from the surviving troopers.

And with that, another victory for the SAS. Two men dead (minced by the Alpha) and one injured but the werewolves had been fought off.

One point we thought up while playing – the pounce move mentioned in the PDF which knocks the enemies prone is designed to cause a problem in close quarters. For this reason, we changed its effects to match up to the “Trip Up” combat action – a nasty way for the wolves to avoid enemies parrying them. Similarly, if you find the wolves a little too squishy, some light armour would help.


Overall a fun, dumb scenario – perfect for Halloween. Don’t worry, we’ll return to your regular scheduled Ultramodern content next week.

Impressions: Spectre’s September Releases

September saw a pretty big set of releases for Spectre. With 5 separate sets covering a selection of collections, there really was something in it for everyone. More importantly, it added some more female figures and filled some capability gaps. 

Tier 1 Operator – Delta

 

We start with a new Tier 1 Operator. She looks just like her male counterparts, with SIG MCX, silenced pistol and fast mag equipped battle belt. She fits perfectly into the rest of the range and provides some variety to the squad. I’ve painted her up to match the rest of my Argo contractors (solid colour clothing, tan webbing), but she would also work well in an Agent or other undercover force.

Task Force Operators – Golf

Two more operators to the giant Task Force collection. These two are equipped the same as their colleagues, wearing body armour and fast helmet while carrying carbines with the trifecta of upgrades (red dot, laser and silencer). One is wearing a full size vest while the other just has a chest rig and carrying a kit bag, both packed full of gear. These figures fit

One thing to point out – with the figure with the carbine pointing down, I noticed it was quite easy to bend the weapon back and forth. I don’t think it will snap but it’s something to keep an eye on.

GRU RPG – Alfa

A key capability for any force is the ability to knock out armoured vehicle and fortified positions. Since release, the main way the Russian GRU had to do this was the pump action grenade launcher. Now, a Russian player can pick up this figure and have a light anti-armour weapon perfect for knocking out insurgent technicals or the SUV the VIP is riding in.

I really like this figure – from the crouching pose to slung PP19 SMG, he is spot on for the role. Also there is nothing better than dropping an explosive rocket right on the target

Insurgent Stinger – Alfa

If the GRU RPG was a pretty useful piece of kit, the stinger is going to level the playing field for the OPFOR. In Spectre Operations, MANPADs can prevent airborne off map assets which are often used by the more elite teams (as I know well from the Spectre weekend where a little bird managed to wreck an entire flank). This figure, in balacava, vest and utility trousers, may not have much else but totting the stinger around is a pretty useful task.

As well as being useful against airborne targets, this guy would also be useful as VIP/objective for missions where your SF team is hunting down potentially dangerous gear.

Insurgent Kill Team

The first release in the new Squad packaging is a new team perfect for augmenting your insurgent force. Sculpted moving more tactically than their insurgent buddies, they are armed with tactical AKs, wearing BDUs, plate carriers and comms gear. These guys can form a core of a force, able to mentor your less trained troops or focus on snatching enemy VIPs. In addition, they could also work as special forces from a middle eastern country, ready to work alongside your Western buddies or as Republican Guard infiltrators.

So why the new Squad packaging? In this case, it makes sense to get all the team members togethers giving you a powerful single unit in one go. I can see the format doing well in other situations such as for specific scenarios (VIP + bodyguards) or interesting packs that wouldn’t sell by themselves. Its strange to see Spectre go from packs of four down to two (or one) to suddenly bounce back with these big releases.

Painting Notes

Painting notes, the place where I explain all the painting decisions when it came to getting this article ready. Again, the usual rush to get stuff finished in time for a post. I’m getting better though; this time around the figures were painted Wednesday night mean they were less rushed than usual.

The latest Tier 1 Operator is painted the same way as the other Argo Contractors – block single colour for clothing, tan webbing and a dot of blue for the glasses. She ended up a little darker than her comrades, closer to the other female agents I’ve painted

The two task force operators are also painted similarly to existing figures in my collection.  As they were only wearing tshirts, the trousers had to multicam (using Spectre’s great painting guide) to match the rest of the force. Block colour Tshirts, US field drab for webbing and tan gun parts. The mad rush to

GRU was back to using my Surpat camo. I’m actually happier with this batch than I was with the original GRU figures as I used more green, which in turn made the other colours pop more. I’m tempted to redo the original group, especially as I’m about to paint up the CQB guys in the improved Surpat. Webbing was in Russian uniform.

The stinger wielding insurgent was super easy to do. Nice blocks of solid colour across the different clothing items and then the Agrax wash to dull the colours and make it fit my collections aesthetic (which has been described as having a “Post Gears of War 3rd Person shooter”filter applied)

As I’m using the Killteam to represent Bazi SF, I went for US 3 colour desert camo with painted guns and khaki boots. The 3 colour recipe came from Bolt Action CP on youtube and is super easy to do. They also match up pretty well with the Empress Universal figures I have so mixing in the odd operator to mentor the trained Bazi Army should work well.

Initial Impressions: Tiny Terrain’s Figures

So far most of this blog has been filled with models from Empress, Eureka and Spectre. Today however, I’m going to take a look at Tiny Terrain’s current offerings – in particular his law enforcement pack (that was released a few weeks ago)and the two man JTAC team released earlier this year. This is just a small selection from the range, that seeks to cover some figures not normally seen. Based on reading around, these figures are sculpted by Phil Lewis, formerly of Games Workshop fame.

In regards to customer service, its excellent for such a small operation. I ended up with a figure missing, sent an email to him that evening and had a new figure sent out the following day.

Full disclosure – I’ve talked to Craig (Mr Tiny Terrain) a fair amount and he is a great chap. Three of the games from the Spectre weekend saw me going up against him. When his blog was running it was at the very top of Must Read list.

Law Enforcement Pack

The Law Enforcement pack, purchased for £30 during the pre-order phase, is designed to complement the already released Narcos and will set you up for engagements around the border. Each pack contains 14 figures, each with a unique pose. Apart from the dog, they all have separate heads, and available options include baseball caps, bush hats, helmets (as seen here) or a mix of all three. The helmeted heads are in tactical hoods and have some nice variety to them, mixing some with goggles on and others with them stowed on the helmet.

A plus point about the heads is that they actually fit in the neck joint properly, with no issues of giraffe neck or major trimming required (unlike a certain manufacturer whose head slot fills me with dread every time).

There are seven figures armed with AR15 style carbines in a selection of poses. I did manage to snap off one of the flash hiders while fixing a bend in it but the rest went back into shape really easily. The poses all feel different and unique which is great but the overall feel of them is very static. This is definitely a group not in the midst of direct combat.

The other seven figures are specialists, giving you a few more tools for the job. Two guys with ballistic shields will help room clearing, two guys with breaching tools and another with a shotgun will get you into a room and the dog team is always handy.

I do have a pet peeve with these specialists – I think that all of them (apart from the dog and the shield users) should have a carbine slung across their back or chest. I can think of a few reasons why they haven’t but it does make WYSIWYG a pain.

I also really dislike the dog handler. The pose is off, he isn’t armed – he just looks like he standing there waiting patiently for the dog to finish off its business rather than him leading it through a search operation.

Looking closer at the shield guys, I really like them. Shields definitely help you to tell a SWAT team apart from a SF team, and these two look the business. The shields come separate and I did have some issues when I tried the goggle wearing head on the crouching body when it came to attaching the shield so be warned about a possible incompatibility.

That said, I think the breaching tools are the stars of the show. These are two figures I haven’t seen the likes of anywhere else which is something Tiny Terrain has been good at with the range so far. The circular saw + arms is a separate piece that slots into place.

Looking at the back, you can see an impressive amount of detail. From the molle strips on the vest to the belts full of gear, each of these troopers look like they are ready for the mean streets of El Paso or Juarez.

As this is a new company, I’ve grabbed a size comparison. Going from left to right we have

  • New Empress US SF
  • Old Empress US SF
  • Tiny Terrain
  • Eureka Force Recon
  • Spectre Miniatures Task Force Operator

The pack of figures is currently unavailable but should be up on the Tiny Terrain store soon. on the Tiny Terrain store at https://tinyterrainmodels.wordpress.com/law01-law-enforcers/

JTAC Team

Slightly older, the JTAC team is two man pack designed to let you add a pair of troops calling in fire support to your force. Both figures are kitted up on SF style kit, with beards and heavily laden packs on both of them. Both figures also have M4s lying on the ground next to them. One figure is posted calling in on the radio while the other is crouched over the included SOFLAM

The SOFLAM is mounted on a tripod which is seated on triangular base. To help with alignment, the front of the spotter’s base has a triangular groove, making it easy to get the different parts into position.

Overall a very simple but characterful set of figures with plenty of ingame uses for them.

Edit: Find them on the store at https://tinyterrainmodels.wordpress.com/jtac01-jtac-team-with-laser-target-designator/

Conclusion

So what do I think of this range? Are they worth your time? Yes. I think the figures are well sculpted (apart from a few poses) and cast, with lots of detail at a reasonable price for a small company. The rest of the range provides some more figures you are not likely to find anywhere and so fills a cool place.


That said, there is a reason I haven’t painted them up. While I think they are well sculpted in a technical sense of the word, from an artistic stand point they don’t really grab me. The style of sculpt just looks old to me and I don’t have great fondness for them. And if I don’t like them they are not going to get painted or used. For that reason, I’m going to sell mine off. Don’t take this as me saying “Don’t buy them” – I think a lot of people will love them but for me they just fell a little flat.

That said, Tiny Terrain has plenty of upcoming things to be excited about. As well as these figures, his store also has some cool MDF terrain and free scenery models for 3D printing. At the time of writing, his Kickstarter for a Chechen War range is going on. This is a different sculpter and so I’ll probably be taking a look when they final product comes out.

Spectre Miniatures Unreleased Models: October 2017

As you may have seen based on the posts, I really like Spectre Miniatures. They make a great set of rules and make some of the coolest figures available to the modern gamer.

Another thing that particularly good about them is how often they post up some previews and show the world what is coming out, fresh from the workbench. Most of these previewed products are released soon after they are shown but amongst them there are a few figures hiding out, biding their time. In this post, we’re going to take a quick look at some of these. The main rule when choosing these early looks is to focus on the physical previews rather than the occasional renders – seeing things in the flesh is always better than a render and are more likely to be released due to the extra amount of work that has been put into them.

 

Bleeding edge operators WIP..#wargaming #spectreminiatures #spectreoperations #28mm #tabletopgaming

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Going back to October 2015, we have these three operators. They are wielding some pimped out rifles, complete with thermal optics and other attachments. Based on appearances they seem to be SIG MCXs, similar to those used by the Tier 1 operators. Looking at clothing, they are very similar to the Deniable Ops or Agents ranges, although the silenced pistols make me lean more towards the Agents, as the marksmen in that range are also equipped with them.

 

New African militia on the way #28mm #wargaming #sculpting #modernwargaming #spectreminiatures

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The African militia are among the oldest figures in the Spectre range, with all of them from the original Kickstarter. They are still fantastic models but you can really see the difference in detail and style between the Africans and the more recent releases. However, the Spectre Instagram showed off some WIP models of some new fighters ready to join the militia. This one is wielding an AK and a revolver, marking him out as someone of standing, ideal to be a squad or gang leader. The pose is also much more animated than the older style of model. I’m really excited to see the rest of this release when it finally comes, especially as I have yet to purchase any of this range.

 

Salute releases off to the casters.. #spectreminiatures #sculpting #modernwargame #tabletopgaming #28mm #wargames

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This requires a bit more of an eagle eye than the others. Before Salute 2016, this preview appeared showing off releases coming soon. Most have since come out (a mixture of criminals and vehicle crew) but there are two interesting figures – you can see both on the left side of the image. Both are armed with Steyr AUGs (one raised and one at rest) and wearing clothes similar to rest of the Criminal faction but we haven’t yet seen them on the store. This is a pretty cool gun to give to that group, especially if you’re wanting some slightly more professional criminals or just really like Die Hard. There is also two crew figures – one on the right side of image with a projectile and the other other crouching on the left.

 

More new toys with new toys on the way.. #spectreminiatures #spectreoperations #sculpting #tabletopgaming #wargaming

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A more recent preview, these three operators are pretty interesting and also show Spectre are about to go back and add more to some existing ranges.

The top figure looks like he is part of the Task Force Nomad collection, based on the combination of modern gear and traditional Middle Eastern clothing. His weapon, a bullpup Barrett, is also bang up to date and will add some nice long-range precision firepower to the squad.

Bottom left looks to be part of the Tier 1 Operators range (based on the baseball cap and fast mag pouches). The pose is cool but even cooler is his gear. In one hand is a breaching tomahawk, ready to help out your tactical actions or give you an edge in close combat. In his other hand is a SIX12 modular shotgun with an optic. The flat frontend shows it is set up in suppressed format. The level of detail is great as you can even see the three M-LOK holes on it. In related news, I think this is my new favourite breacher figure.

The final guy looks like a Task Force Operator. The weapon is an Ultimax LMG, designed to give MG firepower in a package that handles like an assault rifle. He also has a rucksack on his back.

 

New MWDs on the way… #spectreoperations #spectreminiatures #wargaming #tabletopgaming

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Much like with the African militia above, Spectre seems to also be revisiting our four-legged friends. Another figure from the original Kickstarter, the dogs were nicely detailed but also pretty static. This updated figure is much more dynamic, looking like he is moving alongside his master.

You can actually see part of his handler. Based on the fast mag holders and the pelvis plate, he is going to be some form of operator although I’m not 100% on which group – some of the detail looks very similar to a new collection that Spectre have been teasing in the past few days.

Speaking of which….

 

WHO… #spectreoperations #spectreminiatures #wargaming #sculpting #L119A2

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DARES #spectreoperations #spectreminiatures #wargaming #tabletopgaming

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WINS #spectreoperations #spectreminiatures #wargaming #tabletopgaming

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New SAS! From talking to the guys at Spectre, they are really excited about this release having really done the research on what gear is in use. They have all sorts of really cool equipment – some of it close to the Task Force Operators but there are plenty of UKSF specific items. I am particularly excited for the guys in SOTR breathing gear – perfect for CQB operations or (if you fancy a change) hunting zombies!

I am also interested in seeing how they will be released. Comments on the group seem to point to these guys being released in the new Squads packs (as seen with the insurgent killteam) with some specialist support characters sold in the normal blisters.

 

The armoury grows… #spectreminiatures #spectreoperations #tabletopgaming #wargaming #3dprinting

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As well as figures, the Instagram also includes this picture of 3D printed weapons we can investigate for hints. Spectre’s process is to use CAD tools to design the hard items (like helmets, fast mag pouches and guns), 3D print them and then add them to the greens before being cast as one part. The 3D sculpts are not sold separately so if they have been printed, good chance they are going on a figure.

So far, several of these weapons have been used:

  • The AT4 was part of the stowage kit. That kit also included some LAWs but these were packed up. The one in the picture is unfolded and ready for action, so presumably it will be used on a figure actually shooting it.
  • The Russian anti-material rifle is on the Militia sniper from the August releases.
  • The three RPGs at the bottom were also in the Militia releases from August.
  • The Stinger and Russian LAW (the weapon under the M79) were both used in the September releases for the Insurgents and GRU Spetsnaz.
  • The bullpup Barret has been shown in an unreleased preview (see above)

So what’s left over that hasn’t yet been used? The mix of weapons are unusual, from the high-tech ACR and Scorpion Evo down to the original Scorpion and the M79, making me think we’ll see these items appear across multiple ranges. However, two pairs of weapons are particular interesting. Two Tavors (one standard and one X95) and two Type 97s might show us the arrival of two new SF teams from Israel and China. Of course, these weapons might not be in the hands of state actors so we could see some more heavily armed insurgents, like the pair with F2000s. As someone who used to own one for airsoft, I’m also looking forward to seeing who will be wielding the blooper.

All of these have come from the Spectre Instagram but there was an even better place to see some greens – Salute 2015! My first trip to Salute some me come away with this picture. It’s interesting to see just how much in the image has since been released and also how many haven’t seen the light of day.

So, who came out and can be bought now?

  • Crouching MENA militia marksman
  • Task Force Operator breacher
  • Group of Task Force Operators at the back
  • Criminal with Mac 10 in the foreground
  • Insurgent leader shielding his eyes
  • MENA Militia RPG 29 gunner

Overall, a good number but there are still some guys left. Moving from left to right we have:

  • The moving low marksman armed with a scoped AK.
  • The Indigenous Forces figure, with PASGAT and AK. This is a range that is always exciting as it’s an area that for a long time was not filled with options. I really look forward to this group coming out and it would not surprise me if they are doing some updates to match the more recent changes in equipment.
  • The map using figure who I think was an insurgent. A nice alternative to the combat focused figures, he also makes sense to use as someone who has access to OTAs – checking the grid reference for a mortar strike perhaps?
  • The super early figure at the back – not sure what he would end up being but he was armed with an AK. Possibly a militia fighter?
  • The loader for the RPG 29 – I find it mad that the main gunner came out but his buddy didn’t. This guy would also be great for mounting up on technicals as a loader.

From talking to the guys at Spectre, it seems like they have releases and targets planned out for years to come. They also mentioned that anything shown on the Instagram is probably coming out in the future, they might just be delayed until a good group of figures are ready to be released together. As you can see from the list above, we’ll have plenty of goodies coming our way for years to come.

 

 

 

That said, there is one set of figures I’m still waiting for.

Operation Dragon’s Hoard: 100 Years of War, Falkirk

All the posts so far have been leading up to this: the first play through of the game. The original plan had been to go in at the deep end and running the first attempt at a proper show. After that fell through, running the trial at a smaller event made a little more sense. 100 Years of War is an anual event run by the Falkirk Wargames Club

After spending the Saturday typing up a play sheet, Sunday saw me waking up at 8:30 to drive over to Falkirk (about 45 minutes from my flat). The weather was a bit grim but it wouldn’t really matter much. The venue is a community hall, very easy to get to by car and with plenty of parking nearby. Its also really bright, great to see in a wargames club venue. In addition to my game, there were quite a few other being setup, including a huge Indo-Pakistani air war game next to mine and a ridiculously large Boxer rebellion game further up, complete with the walls of Peking. Overall, it was a great event – a very relaxed time that I am looking forward to next year.


So, lets take a look at the first game. The picture below shows the layout (although the gunner on the technical was removed before play began). Three players each took a fireteam (created by choosing four operators from the decks I’d made) while I took the OPFOR. My force was randomly generated, based on a dice roll for number of characters and then draw from the pack. Although this was fun to do, I think it may have made the game too easy.

There were four objectives for BLUFOR to achieve

  1. Destroy the flight deck with thermite
  2. Secure the black box
  3. Search the white SUV for important documents
  4. Destroy OPFOR technicals 

As the game begun, the players headed off for their objective. Fireteam A headed for the broken wing section in order to dominate the flank and then advance onto the white SUV. Fireteam B started close to the nose section and so they set off to place the charge. Finally, Fireteam C moved to grab the black box, as well as setting up to hit the various vehicles. All groups started infiltrating (using the stealth rules from the new book).

As they crept closer, one of the militia marksmen managed to spot an operator from Fireteam A. With no suppressed weapons, this basically meant they would have a limited time before they were rumbled.

With a ridiculously high shooting skill, Fireteam A’s marksman was easily able to shoot down his target and incapacitating him. Fighters nearby were unnerved by the sound of this first attack and started locking them in place with morale tests. Fireteam B used this distraction to get into the cockpit and placed the thermite device.

On the other side, Fireteam C got to work. The first shot sent a UGL round flying across the board and into a technical. The resulting explosion set off the fuel being stored there, destroying the asset and taking down two insurgents in the blast. The anti-material gunner 

Fireteam B and C also opened up, engaging the group near the white SUV. The first shot took down the middle of the group with the morale effect pinning the rest of the squad in place.

Fireteam C saw the fight starting and decided to use this distraction to sneak up on the black box. The fireteam leader sprinted to the box before kneeling next it.

Unfortunately, this move exposed him to the waiting sniper. Swinging the anti-material rifle around, a quick shot hit and inflicted massive damage, immediately killing him.

As the next phase started there was a sudden blast as the thermite detonated, immolating the sensitive equipment and achieving one of the objectives.

After being pinned down in the open, one of the militia sprinted to seek cover in the back of the plane. However, this move exposed him to gun fire and he was taken out by the dead eye marksman from Fireteam A. Also note the two operators in cover behind the wing, easily able to pin down anyone trying to move up on them.

Covered by their team mates, more operators started to move up on the white SUV, seeking to quickly snatch the intel. 

Having reloaded his grenade launcher, Fireteam C’s grenadier sighted the red technical and sent a round flying towards it. Another hit, another asset destroyed.

I must have forgotten to grab a picture but I should mention what happened to the machine gunner on the roof. Fireteam B’s SMG character, still standing close to the nose section, managed to thread a difficult shot through the plane and land an incapacitating hit on him.

Moving round both sides of the plane, the operator catch the last few enemies in a cross fire allowing easy access to the SUV. Both Fireteam A and B took full advantage of the cover provided by the wreckage, including crawling under the wing.

One final bit of excitement – as one operator was search the vehicle a militia man spotted him with the intel and opened up. He didn’t cause any damage and in the next turn, his target rallied and took him down.

As the game ended, nearly all of the OPFOR lay dead or incapacitated. BLUFOR took one casualty and managed to achieve all their objectives. Scratch one for the good guys. All three players had a good time which was great to hear.


After a short break for lunch (including a trip to Subways located 2 minutes from the hall), game two began with three new players picking three new fireteams. I also changed up the enemy team and the objectives, the black box now on the other side of the board. I also set up my OPFOR a little differently

Rather than jumping straight into the shooting, BLUFOR this time managed to actually be a little more sneaky.

While Fireteam A setup at the nose, Fireteam B and C can be seen above moving up on the central part of the plane.

Of course you can’t stealth forever. Fireteam A held off detonating the charge as long as possible letting element of Fireteam B sneak into position next to the engine. The insurgents didn’t spot him but did notice the marksman rushing forward.

As we learnt in the first game though, spotting marksmen never ends well. Before the alarm could be set off, the LMG gunner from the sentry team was taken down by a well-aimed shot, momentarily pausing the sentries as they have to handle the sudden appearance of BLUFOR.

Hearing the sound of gunfire one of the militiamen ran to the back of the SUV and opened up on a prone operator. His shots hit home but the body armour absorbed it all.

Before the shooter could get away, a BLUFOR SMG operator managed to get behind him, drop him with a quick burst and then begin grabbing the intel from the SUV.

Back on the wing, Fireteam A and B moved up. Fighters from Fireteam A, who had blown the cockpit, now moved to join the fight, including one who rushed up to the wing. An insurgent way back on the edge of the board (just out of shot) started shooting but was swiftly silenced by the combined efforts of an entire fireteam.

Meanwhile on the other side of the board, Fireteam C was causing havoc. Having taken out a technical and the marksman, the subsequent morale tests (and their many failures) had pushed lots of troops around and into less advantageous positions.

Seizing the opportunity, two operators moved up and started what was the strangest fight. As the shotgun wielding breacher turned the corner, the closest enemy managed to avoid all the shots fired at him, pass a morale test, drop prone and get into cover. Before the breacher could even act, the insurgent leader came screaming in from out of nowhere and engaged him in close combat. Luckily the leader manged to fluff two turns of close combat before the breacher threw him to the floor. The machine gunner eventually engaged the man under the car, forcing him to surrender.

Start of the final phase and the only effective fighter left on the board was the lone RPG gunner still frantically trying to reload his RPG. As the Operators closed in, two players almost caused a friendly fire incident. As a LMG gunner crept into position behind the tail, his AT gunner compatriot tossed a frag at the last insurgent alive. It didn’t land exact but luckily scattered enough that the plane’s tail absorbed all the shrapnel while still vaporizing the hapless goon. With the operator’s ears ringing we called the game.

Again, BLUFOR wiped OPFOR from the table (even managing to capture two of them) and got all the objectives. BLUFOR did end up losing one character to a PKM burst (this was the team leader in Fireteam A). Once again, everyone left the table having really enjoyed it.


So after getting back and having some time to think back over the events, there are a few things that I think worked and a few that need improving.

What worked well:

  • The baseboards: I am really happy with how the baseboards look and work. They look great, didn’t chip too badly despite having dice and terrain on them all day and I was easily able to carry them around by hand from car to table.
  • Terrain: The whole “crashed plane on board” idea worked. Despite not using a huge amount of terrain, it managed to successfully break the lines of sight and present something interesting to play around. It was also successful at grabbing people’s attention, with lots of people walking past stopping to take a look at it.
  • Cards: Everyone who played (and many people who walked past) commented on the cards. Having the stats plus picture in a handy format really made it much easier for player to get to, rather than having to check bases or look at descriptions.
  • Basic play sheets: The basic playsheet/quick reference I wrote up reduce the QRF down to four pages. People seemed to find them very handy and by the end of both games players were working out the modifiers.
  • Everyone enjoyed it: The most important part of running the game. Talking to everyone after the game, all of them said how much they had enjoyed playing and liked the system.

What Didn’t work well:

  • It was too easy: Both games saw the BLUFOR operators walk away having ripped OPFOR a new one and with minimal casualties. This is way to easy – the ideal is that the players should be able to do all the objectives but it would be a close thing.
  • The demo board gaps: The tables I was using had metal rims on the edges of them. This lead to there being a slightly higher point in the centre, leading to some gaps appearing. I think I should bring something to help level it out but I’m unsure what. Something to think about.
  • Transporting the boards: Moving the boards in my car was a bit of an experience – while driving back a sudden brake caused them to come sliding forward. Ideally, I need something that will both protect them and stop them shifting around.
  • Standing up all day: I really need to get used to being on my feet all day. By the end of it my legs were aching. Basically I need to stretch more.

So before the next showing, what am I going to do?

  • Detail the plane: As mentioned previously, I need to make the plane look more like it crashed and less like someone took a hacksaw to it. The plane is to add some structural elements to the joins, paint on some different textures (smoke and oil). Additionally, the board needs more clutter from bits of wreck that were ripped off, like panels of the fuselage or bits of cargo.
  • Better objective: Speaking of cargo, the middle objective needs to be improved. The white SUV was a good placeholder but it needs to be something more exciting for the main release. I’m still deciding what it should be but whatever it is it needs to be very important.
  • Rework the balance: The game is too easy. My solution is two-fold – increase the number of OPFOR and make the objectives take longer to succeed at. I think my time/AP estimates were off when it comes to placing a demolition device or checking for documents
  • Tweak the layout: The core idea is there but I think the buildings should be adjusted to make them more than just show off where the enemy are staying. I also want to add some elements to make it look like the insurgents are working on a recovery operation. Finally, the technicals need to be a little more spread out
  • (maybe) Paint up more operators: I really like the start of the game where people would pick their operators from the deck presented to them. If I go ahead with my plan to add some permadeath to the event (operators lost in the morning will not be available later in the day), I need more specialists (MG, UGLs and DMRs primarily) to prevent later teams from being screwed.
  • Tweak the timing: I’m tempted to drop the teams down to only two fireteams vs equivalent insurgents to speed up play and allow for more playthroughs of the scenario. It would be nice if this was a quick game that players could jump into. However, I’m not decided on this just yet.
  • Other things: I have some other ideas to help get the players in the mood for the game. However, these are secondary to getting the main game fixed so I’m not stressing too much about them yet.

That’s all the update for now. The next update will be after Fiasco but keep your eyes on the Wargaming Week posts for WIP photos as I work on my tweaks.

Operation Dragon’s Hoard: Part 4 – Final Approach

So there has been quite a gap since my last update (back in May) and since then a lot has changed. The game went from pie in the sky idea to actual game that is about to run in the next few days. I am both excited and terrified.

THE PLAN

So in the last plan I fired off a big long list of what is going on with the demo game. However, a few things changed

  • I didn’t make it to Claymore in August – ran out of time to get ready for it. On the other hand, not worrying about it did mean I really enjoyed the Spectre Weekend
  • I’m not 100% sure on Salute in 2018 – there is a lot of logistics to sort out around it (being up in Edinburgh obviously makes travel a huge issue)

However, the cool thing is I can now update that the game is confirmed for two shows! I can confirm I’ll be at the following shows running games

  • October 2017 – Fiasco, Royal Armouries in Leeds, 29th of October
  • March 2018 – Hammerhead, Newark Showground, 3rd of March

I should also be at York in February but we are still working on confirming it.

Of course, there is another event I’m going to this week…

 

THE SCENARIO

Scenario is ready. I decided that I wanted to a co-op mission – focus more on the players working together with their small fire-teams while I run the bad guys. The character sheets are all on cards makes this even easier so I can hand over a selection of troops and let the players parcel them out as required. I mentioned on Monday about the cards and I’m really happy with how they have turned out.

As for the objectives, I’ve decided on four that should force the players to push deep into the map rather than just sitting back and having a long range fire fight. These objectives are:

  1. Recover the flight recorder.
  2. Destroy the flight deck in the nose compartment (every operator has thermite grenades for this task).
  3. Check main compartment for sensitive information.
  4. Destroy OPFOR assets.

 

For the flight recorder, I looked up some example online, realised that the core of one looks like a fire extinguisher piece for the C130 and decided that that would be the objective. Quick, easy and simple to paint.

I’ll probably tweak them once I’ve done the first run but the multiple locations should lead to each

In addition, I’m also starting the game using the stealth rules I wrote as part of Plausible Deniability, letting the operators sneak onto the board without being pinned down out in the open areas. It also helps me to show off the new features of the book.

To finish, this is the description I’ve been sending to people and should be appearing in the various programs for each show:

Operation Dragon’s Hoard

A Special Forces team has been dispatched to investigate activity around a crashed transport plane somewhere in the Arabian Peninsula. A co-operative game using Radio Dishdash’s Skirmish Sangin.

 

THE BASE

The base boards are all done! These are obviously the foundation of the demo game so getting them finished was pretty important.

Last time you saw them they looked like this. The wooden portions had been assembled, the foam was added and then the polyfilla was placed on top. We eventually switched to using plaster as it was easier to buy in bulk. On top of that, I painted on a layer of thinned down PVA and sprinkled on sand to create some variations in texture. Then painting happened with spray can after spray can. First up was some textured paint (requiring 4 cans for 5 boards) then a spray of Zandri Dust for the base colour.

The final stage was a scruffy drybrush of Iraqi sand to break up the brown colour. I’m pretty happy with the final result but the real test will be how well they stand up to the process of driving to and from Falkirk as well as a whole days play on them.

THE CENTRE PIECE

As mentioned last time, the centre piece of the board is a downed C130. Having bought the kit. I then had to build it (as seen here covering my desk). The build was fun, although I was a little slapdash (hence some of the seams you can spot in the photos).

And then this happened after using a razor saw on it

After cutting it up, each part was then placed onto plasticard bases. Left over foam from filling the interiors of the baseboard was then added to fill gaps or add some decoration, topped off with a skim of polyfilla. Then the same process used on the boards was used – sand, textured spray paint, Zandri Dust spray on the top.

The next stage is to some addition damage and details. I’m actually planning to hold off on this for my first game – my hobby fund ran a little short for this month. However, they will be ready for the game in October. I intend to add some plasticard struts and wires dangling, as well as cutting some more of the panels away from the airframe.

This shows the wing and drop tank basically finished with the final drybrush layer. I think they do a pretty good job of showing off “aircraft that has been downed and left in a sandstorm for a while”.

I just about managed to get the entire plane finished before finishing this post. The final touches is just more sprays of dust and a big brush for drybrushing. The final effect looks dusty which is exactly what I was aiming for.

To add – I’m not finished with decorating this plane. I still intend to add some more damage to it but I just ran out of time and bits to be able to do it and guarantee to have something ready for Sunday.

THE SCENERY

My plan last time to go minimal on additional terrain was actually implemented. For the first run, I’ve decided to go with two adobe buildings from REDvector, five rough ground patches made from foam to provide half and full height cover and a collection of technicals (already painted) to be objective targets/cover.

The rough ground is made a similar way to all other terrain on the board – plasticard base, foam offcuts on the top, layer of polyfilla and then desert paint. The end result almost blends into the surface which I’m not 100% on. This is one element I might revisit.

It’s not a great photo but this also shows the buildings finished. Textured paint, spray paint, wet drybrush across most of it and then some brown paint on the beams. The brown helps to break up the scheme, prevent it from turning into just a sea of dust.

The terrain is one place I might tweak, either adding another building or more areas to break up line of sight. However, all this depends on the first run.

THE GAME

So with all these things at the correct stage, the biggest piece of news is what’s happening on Sunday. I am taking this game out for its first two runs on the 24th at 100 Years of War. This is an event that Falkirk Wargames club is running, bringing players along to take part in a whole series of games themed around 20th Century warfare. For me, it’s the perfect place to run a trial run – everyone going has some wargaming experience and it’s not a huge event.


Its really exciting to see how I’ve managed to actually get the game ready to go. Everything on it has been painted by me and its quite satisfying to see it laid out – this is my first terrain project and I’m amazed I even got it finished. The next step is to make sure the game side of it goes well Expect a full report next week as to how the battles went and to see the whole thing laid out on the table.

 

Impressions: REDvectors’s MDF Buildings

You may have noticed some MDF buildings lurking in the background of many of my impressions pieces. I’ve had some comments on them and so this reminded me I really should get my impressions up before they get ruined by my slap-dash painting style.

I picked up these buildings after bouncing a long chain of emails between myself and Mick at REDvectors. I’d seen some images of some 20mm buildings (including a version of the target building in Blackhawk Down and the Abbottabad target building) and was blown away by the style and quality of them. I fired him an email, had come great chats about getting some buildings and then Salute happened. A few months later, Mick sent me some details on a really cool set that he was working on. After a payday I sent off the cash and then a box of MDF appeared on my desk at work.

First things first, REDvectors has some great customer support. Quick responses via email, the package was really well secured and when I realised I had a miscut piece the replacement was in the post the following day. All really impressive from a one man operation.

Right, that’s enough intro, let’s take a look at the actual buildings. The pack included 6 buildings in a range of styles. Scalewise, the doors and windows are perfectly to scale with Empress and Spectre figures. The image below shows the Empress US SF figure next to two of the buildings.

The MDF is beautifully cut with no fitting issues. Even better, the buildings came precut so there was no need to cut the pieces out of any sort of frame. As always, do a dry run first as a quick test.


The first set of buildings are the simple, 1 room classic adobe style. Both buildings have two door ways and plenty of firing positions.

As common to all the buildings in this set, the roofs are removable and with solid floors. 

The next style of building is this two storey building. Two doorways on the ground floor and another on the first floor.

Both the roofs and the interior floor (with the circle cutout) can be removed to allow access to the interior. I did find the interior floor was a little loose but I once painted it should hold together better. This is so the interior floor can be pulled out without having to be tilted to miss the roof supports. The resting points on the upper floor are a little smaller than usual to also help with that.

The last of the adobe style buildings is this small compound. It includes a small covered area, three small rooms, a well and two door pieces (currently unassembled). The well is made up of multiple rings of MDF that easily go together (don’t do what I did and use superglue unless you like to live dangerously). 

So I simultaneously love this building and can see a few issues with it. Two of the interior rooms don’t seem to have any access point for them. In 90% of cases, this won’t cause any issues. However, if a close quarter battle takes places, some abstraction might occur. That said, I didn’t notice this issue despite having the buildings for a month or so and it won’t take much to knock a hole or two in the walls. Alternatively, roof hatches and ladders allow access. On the other hand, there are plenty of cool things – the two storey tower with window should provide some interesting tactical issues.

So we now come to my favourite two buildings in the pack. These are of a style we haven’t seen much elsewhere, more suited for an urban environment without becoming something that dominates the entire board with one building. I’m really excited about the idea of seeing more of these buildings, letting you having something that looks like the Mog with ease.

The first building has a balcony (that fits figures on 26mm bases) and a rooftop shack/staircase cover. There are no visible access points between the floors so some abstraction may be needed.

The more eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted the cutouts on the rim around the top of the building. This was not a design issue but some user error. The tabs used to rest the roof on do fit together in a specific way. So dry fit and then dry fit again!

Pulling the building to pieces reveals plenty of interior space. No interior walls gives you lots of room to set it up how you want.

The second building is a similar size but with some different feature. The rooftop is entirely flat, making it a perfect spot for some helicopter insertion (I bet a little bird will fit on it solidly). The ground floor has several entry points and there are windows everywhere for shooting out of or diving through.

In this case I managed to set up the rim of the roof correctly due to careful planning and dry runs.

In addition, the building has some interior walls on both the top and floors, giving you one large room and a small corridor around it. Again, no interior staircases might be a turnoff for some people but having more playable space makes a lot of sense.


Overall, I’m really happy with this set. It was very reasonably priced (I paid £45 including first class postage) for some very nice quality (and playable) buildings and it’s really likely I’ll be trying to get some buildings from him. I might even try to commission a few things. 

If you are interested in a set of these, the best way to get your hands on them is to get in contact with Mick at REDvectors via the Contact page (http://www.redvectors.co.uk/contact.php). Some of his stuff is also being sold via Minibits, both on their website and at several shows in the UK. You can also check out their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/redvectorsuk/.

Non-Standard Tactical Vehicles – Building the SF Technicals

When the full details for the SF upgrades to the technicals were announced, I could see that assembling these vehicles ready to support my operators on the field was going to be a fun project. Thanks to sheer variety of stowage and other bits to upgrade them with, building my Non-Standard Tactical Vehicles needed some planning and careful part purchasing. Thanks also to my obsession with interoperability and hot swapping, I also had to work out the best way to mount all the various bits of equipment I wanted to use. This post is going to take a look at my final products packed full of pictures to show them off.

For impressions of the various parts, you can take a look at my multiple impressions pieces covering both the core sets and the new Special Forces upgrades.


Vehicles

With the possibility of two squads needing transport, I decided to pick up four technicals and set them up for SF use. Looking at the parts available, and after adding stowage, each has been assigned a role. As you may notice, the basic vehicles don’t carry cargo for details you can see later.

All vehicles mount the snorkel and bullbar upgrades as well as the upgraded tyres. Additionally, they all have a similar style of paint scheme – block colour undercoat with stripes of tan. The idea behind this was that these vehicles have been modified in theatre, with the main paint scheme having been fresh from the dealership and then hastily painted over to break up the colour. As for painting it, it’s simple and effective to paint.

SF01 – “King”

The first technical finished, and having already seen action in Bazistan, this vehicle is designed to be the command vehicle for the group. Using Technical Bravo as it’s base, SF-01 also mounts the Upgrade Bravo set with the rails and rear mounted fuel tank. As mentioned in the main impressions, this pack isn’t designed for this vehicle but it does seem to work quite well. The vehicle also mounts the Satcom aerial, a spare tyre and rucksack on the rear. To help protect the front, smoke dischargers are mounted in the bull bars.

SF02 – “Queen”

SF02 has another nickname – “Mule”. Using the Technical Alpha as the base, this vehicle is designed as the logistics hub for the group. For this reason, it mounts everything. The racks and fuel tank help to bulk it out but it also has multiple jerry cans, rucksacks and a spare wheel hanging off bits. On top of the cab, the storage rack is designed to be ready for the offensive. A LAW, an AT4 and a pelican gun case help to show off the idea that this is where all the heavy weapons are stored.

SF03 – “Jack”

“Jack” is designed to be a multi-role vehicle. It isn’t the most well equipped vehicle but it provides a good enough platform for whatever is needed. The only upgrade is the storage rack that has multiple different items ready for support. Two LAWs, a rucksack, ammo box, small pelican case and a ration box means this guy is ready for patrol.

SF04 – “Ace”

SF04 is the high-speed off-road part of the patrol. The only additional bit of kit onboard is the multiple smoke grenade launchers. This guy will go everywhere and then get back out of there at a rapid pace. The real reason for no stowage? I’m leaving the roof space free in case a roof rack becomes available. Also there might be more stowage packs filled with new goodies.

Cargo Basing

When buying the technicals, a big thing was to make sure they were modular as far as possible. The main reason for this is that it doesn’t limit me to a specific combination of vehicle + weapon system and so that all the vehicles can be use for scenery without having to explain why the gun crew are not on the map.

Previously, when building the technicals for the militia, I had used several long pieces and various combinations of t-shapes made out of plasticard. However, this lead to some dodgy cutting and a few places where the guns were out of balance and liable to tipping over. This time, I standardised on the I shape throughout. Full size weapon use the entire I, half-size use 3/4s of the I with the remainder having stowage added to it. Mounting the rear weapons on both types of vehicles rely on a few rough cuts to tweak them to fit. This will need to be done by eye as I don’t have exact measurements for it.

A few people asked about a template for this. The reason I haven’t got one is that this, like many things I do, is done by the seat of my pants. Each of the shapes ended up being slightly different . The dimensions are approximately 3.1cm x 4.4cm. To make the I shape, I cut in 0.8cm slots at 1.1cm and 2.9cm. However I recommend you use these as guidelines rather than gospel. Measure carefully and prepare to trim.

The thicker plasticard works wonders but there is one more improvement I’d make. If I had a dremel, I would cut out a slot for rare earth magnets and utilise them for more support. I’d also measure properly,

Guns

The key part of the NSVs and their tabletop use is going to be their heavy weapons. Wanting the greatest selection, I picked up one of each and got to work. As I say in the last impressions piece, I was a little disappointed to see only one crew figure but paint jobs helped to fix that. I also think I maybe shouldn’t have mounted all the weapon on the taller mounts – it looks good when trying to get over the rack but it did lead to some odd positions on the Auto-Grenade Launcher and a really tall stand for the minigun. However, they do look really cool. In addition, the gun mounts also had a few stowage items to make them look used.

Heavy Machine Gun

The classic M2 is back. Having proven it’s worth in its first outing in Bazistan, I’m really happy with this setup. One thing of note, the gunner was painted at speed and so he ended up wearing a version of my ACU camo.

Dual GPMGs

The most “more dakka” of the guns, I really enjoyed assembling this guy. I look forward to him speeding around the board hammering away.

Auto Grenade Launcher

So this was the most troublesome to assembled. Due to the large height of the gun assembly and it’s two-part nature, I ended up with some support issue. To solve this, I had to glue the gunners face to the sight. It just about works but if I was to make it again I’d use the lower height stand and tilt the AGL more.

Minigun

For the minigun, I decided to do something different. I decided to do some tweaks so I could use this setup for a gun truck alongside my Tier 1 Operator models. This required some Green stuff work on the gunner – trimming his helmet off, reforming the shape, adding a head strap for the headphones and then adding a bill on it. I ended up building the shape with a cutout in it to allow me to add the bill. Unfortunately, I only noticed the presence of my finger print on a bit of the putty once I started painting it.

As for the weapon itself, I would again swap out the tall mount for the lower one. It looks great on the technicals with the side panels on but it’s a bit spindly for all other vehicles. However, I am happy with my beginners attempt at conversion.

As you can see, it looks pretty good amongst the contractors. Hopefully it will give them a bit of a firepower boost when up against hordes of militia.

 

Now, that was all the guns that are available from the store. However, I had a few other pieces lying around which meant I could setup another weapon ready for use. I present, the GPMG.

GPMG

By pulling the spare mount from a (now Humvee mounted) minigun and a spare M240 from the razor kit, I was able to get a lighter weapon together. The only major issue was the crewman. Looking through the Task Force Operators range, I eventually found the cheapest option – the single figure using the pirate gun. Combining these two together set up a great tactical combination and a unique weapon for my operators.

Cargo

In addition to the guns, the vehicles need a little extra stowage. This cargo is also great for mounting as an objective. The idea was also to make some that didn’t scream “SF OPERATORS HERE” so they can be used by the insurgents as well.

Full Size

There are two full size cargos. These only fit into Technical Alpha.

  1. A fuel setup with multiple barrels, two storage boxes and a row of jerry cans.
  2. A comprehensive cargo load with a bit of everything. Cargo boxes, ammo cases, cooler box, rugged laptop, rucksack and as a just in case, a M72.

Half Size

There are six half-size cargos. These fit into both vehicles, filling the bay on Bravo and adding more detail to Alpha. These are perfect for mounting alongside a weapon system in Alpha, helping to fill in the empty gap

  1. Generic ammo box and fuel tank.
  2. The car pack is designed to be relatively civilian, with a fuel can, spare wheel and two sand boards.
  3. Generic 2 – Spare wheel, storage boxes, ammo box, pelican box and a rugged laptop resting vertically.
  4. Generic 3 – designed for sitting at the front of Alpha, this one has an ammo box resting on top of where the wheel arch would be. In addition there is a good selection of kit such as a spare wheel, M72, rucksack and jerry can.
  5. Rocket pack – large container (probably full of rockets), ammo box (probably full of warheads) and an AT4 ready to rock
  6. Comms pack – large container, rucksack and three items to form a communication setup (aerial, small pelican case and a laptop)

Final Thoughts

The NSVs help to bring some new to the SF side. A bit more powerful than the Razors yet still ready to race around at full speed to deploy at the right location, the technicals are also a great way to personalise your force. I really recommend doing a little planning before buying in, picking out the right packs of stowage and guns.

The next step? Getting all of these vehicles into a game.