Impressions: Empress US Stowage 1

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

Inside the bag you will find:

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

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

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

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

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

Impressions: Warhansa Spetsnaz

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

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

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

Those points covered lets look at the figures!

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

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

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

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

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

From left to right

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

And again from the rear

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


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

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

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

Impressions: SASM Operator Juarez

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And again in rear view.

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

Personal thoughts below the line.


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

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

Impressions: Spectre’s December Releases

After the massive pile of releases in November, December saw a bit more of a focused set. For all of those who didn’t make it to Crisis, this was our chance to get hold of a set of useful support options for some of the other ranges. I’m always a fan of them going back to add new figures to the current lines rather than just pushing forward – when playing a skirmish game, it’s nice to have multiples of each role so you never end up with duplicates when outfitting your squad.

Task Force Nomad Sniper – Alfa

Task Force Nomad has a nice mix of weapons but only has one long-range support (the airburst grenade launcher). Luckily, this guy comes equipped with a XM500 sniper rifle to deliver the killing blow. This bullpup anti-material rifle is an update of the classic M82 and (depending on the profile you choose for it) should be a monster against infantry and light vehicles. In addition to his rifle, he is also sat on his kit bag. Finally, like all Task Force Nomad figures, he’s wearing local clothing to blend in with the crowd.

Like the rest of the Task Force Nomad range, this guy is great for playing some more sneaky missions or adding to a militia force as some advisors trying to operate under cover. He is a wonderfully detailed but simple character and will probably be a nightmare for your opponent when he appears on the tabletop.

Tier 1 Operators Breacher – Alfa

The Tier 1 guys seem to get all the good stuff and I have to say that this model has my favourite combination of gear. As well as his SIG MCX, this guy is also carrying a SIX12 shotgun. This revolver fed shotgun is the newest thing, able to be reconfigured for underslung and standalone use as well as various barrels. This one has an integrally suppressed barrel which should be perfect for when you need to silently infiltrate someone. If you want to be a little louder, the operator also has an axe to hand. This is perfect for breaking through windows and shattering locks, as well as

I have to say, this is one of my favourite models that Spectre has done. I’m always a fan of breacher focused figures and the axe/shotgun combination just makes this guy a must buy. It also makes the Tier 1 range a rather useful one to pick up. It now has 12 figures, with a solid core of 7 AR equipped soldiers and everything from SMGs up to multiple grenade launchers. All it needs is a second LMG figure and it would be perfect for people not wanting to go all in with the Task Force Operator figures. The range also now has two shotgun equipped guys, perfect for fighting through urban spaces.

Task Force Operators SMG – Charlie

The MP5 is the classic SMG, associated in one of its various forms with possibly every Special Operations Force in the world. That said, the availability of compact carbines and the rise in body armour can mean that it’s a little underpowered, leaving many to upgrade to its younger cousin the MP7. The two packs of SMG figures for the Task Force Operator range have only been using the newest kit so I was a little surprised when I found out that this latest figure was armed with the iconic 9mm subgun.

The model is posed in a pretty dynamic way, gun tilted to a 45 degree angle as he moves forward. From looking closely it has a retractable stock, red dot, laser and what appears to be a combined torch/foregrip. The barrel is also long enough to spot that it’s a integrally suppressed version. Overall, a pretty fantastic setup for sweeping rooms quietly. He also has the rest of the required Task Force Operator gear (helmet, sidearm, plate carrier, shades) along with a small assault pack.

Task Force Operators AT4 – Alfa

I am a fan of Professionals and Elites taking a Light Anti-Tank weapon in each squad for games of Spectre. Being able to hit back at RPG teams with a taste of their own medicine or knock out vehicles in a single hit is a useful bit of kit in the toolbox.  We’ve already seen the AT4 in the vehicle stowage pack so it was only a matter of time before we actually saw a figure with one.

This figure has the AT4 out and ready to fire. He also has a 416 (with magnified red dot, PEQ box and suppressor) slung in front of him. As you’d expect, he is rolling with the required Task Force Operator kit but with a much more complete plate carrier than the SMG operator. Plenty of storage places to carry extra gear.

The other cool thing with this release was that Spectre have released some weapon profiles for two variants of the AT4 which can be found on the page for this item. You can now pick between the HEAT round for blasting tanks or the HE for infantry killing. The HE round loses the Tank Killer ability and drops in lethality but increases the frag distance by 2″ making it much better for groups. Seeing as it’s a single shot weapon, I’d force the player using it to pick the

Task Force Operators MG – Bravo

Finally, the last figure from the release is a new operator with a LMG. For anyone who didn’t get the US SOF machine gunners from the early days of Spectre, you’ve been stuck with two LMG models. This guy should help to extend your options when it comes to building your team. What’s really cool is that he isn’t using the usual Minimi derivative but instead the Ultimax Mk5. This gun is considered very accurate for a LMG, with handling closer to an assault rifle and the ability to use a 100 round drum for when things get hot or standard STANAG mags to work with the rest of his team.

As for the model, he’s got the drum mag attached as well as red dot/magnifier combination and PEQ for laser/light duty. He seems to be wearing a low profile chest rig but is also carrying a huge rucksack just in case the drum runs dry. As well as a pistol he has the most dangerous of weapons – the operator beard. This should make him stand out from the rest of your team. Overall I really like this model. That said, he does have one hell of an awkward painting angle when trying to the underside of his left arm.

Final Notes

So final notes:

  • Really happy to see Spectre going back and adding more to existing ranges.
  • There were one or two mould lines that needed cleaning up but it was only very minor
  • The big thing with this group was relearning how to paint colour schemes I’d done before. Luckily two of the three ranges were mostly block colours
  • I’m looking forward to getting this lot on the table!

Impressions: Round Of Fire Universal Skirmish Rules

As someone who reads a lot of rules, I should really starting asking for money every time someone calls their ruleset “revolutionary” – it would probably make me more than my current Adsense performance. In most cases people trying something new end up combining elements seen elsewhere in new combinations which do play in a different way but don’t feel like a brand new game.

Round of Fire from The Lazy Games is something new. It throws the common activation systems you know and love (card based, IGO UGO) to one side, create a new concept and instead makes it the core of the game, requiring a different set of tactics to most other games. It’s also something new for this blog in that’s it’s not an ultramodern ruleset specifically – the subtitle is the “The Universal System for Skirmish Battles”. As you might expect, universal rules are a risky prospect – go too generic and its lacking in character; focus too much on one era and other time periods feel stretched to fit.

Before we start full disclosure: I was provided these rules in PDF format by the author to play and give an impression on.

First up, let’s take a look at the book. It’s currently only in PDF format (available from the Wargames Vault) although there are plans for a physical copy. Starting to flick through it, the first thing that really stands out is how it looks. 98 pages long and each page is in full colour, complete with a background that doesn’t make reading difficult but might make it rather taxing in terms of ink if you decide to print it (EDIT: The author has informed me that the Wargames Vault download includes a printer friendly version). It’s packed full of wonderful pictures and clean, useful diagrams that actually help to understand the rules rather than just act as decoration. One comment is that it is a little bit dense reading which is handy for explaining the rules but it can occasionally be a pain when flicking through to find a specific rule – there is definitely a need for a quick reference sheet. I also think the book could do with two other little elements to help with navigation – the PDF needs bookmarks added for each chapter and an index in the back would be handy.

In terms of main ideas, the game uses only simple D6s – no fancy extra dice. The core idea when rolling is that modifiers reduce or increase the number of dice you roll while successes are on a fixed value (mostly 5+). The game also does a good job being playable across different scales by using distance units for all of its ranges rather than specific inch distances. The table in the introduction chapter covers playing everything from 6mm up to 28mm and also covers both playing with a ruler/tape measure (how wargamers normally play) or using a grid system.

Image from Round of Fire

The biggest new idea has to be The Wheel. This is the core concept, the key foundation that the rest of the game is built on. Rather than IGO-UGO, the game takes place in rounds, represented by a complete rotation of the wheel. Each round is split into 8 steps, with units of both sides activating on different steps. Depending on the action a unit does in its step, its activation counter on the wheel is shifted by a certain number of steps depending on the longest action taken by a unit (more on those later). Apart from the initial location on the wheel for each unit, there is no random chance involved in future activation times – it’s all down to player choices. Because of this, tactics require some careful use of forward planning and the right actions at the right time in order to get the edge. For example, careful smaller movements take fewer steps than mad runs, giving you more time to react to the enemy at the risk that they will move into the best positions before you get there. Several other systems tie into the wheel, with suppression and shock pushing the affected units around the wheel and delaying their activation. Additionally, certain abilities reduce the cost of activations or allow you to move a unit around the wheel, giving you more options depending on your force. (if you are wanting more information on this system, the author of the rules has released the chapter on the Wheel as a free preview on the Wargames Vault)

Each counter you are moving around the wheel representing a unit and this concept is pretty cool. Units are made up from a number of elements. These can small fireteams, single specialists or a vehicle. A cool feature is that each element in a unit can be different so you could combine two fireteams and a squad leader to represent an infantry squad acting together or a vehicle and a fireteam to have some close dismounts. Units move at the same time but don’t have to do the same actions, letting two elements perform fire and maneuver very easily without worrying about not being in close activation steps to each other. On the other hand, because all elements in a unit are tied to the same activation counter, they are also more easily affected by suppression. The way to counter this is to use lots of smaller units made of single elements but that can be more expensive in terms of points and requires a little more careful planning. Each element is designed to be assigned to a card, which is a neat way of keeping track of the actions costs and vital stats.

In terms of actions, there are a few to cover. Alongside the usual movement (at one of three speeds), shooting and close combat actions there are a few other cool moves, many of which are focused on affecting the wheel. Units can choose to wait any number of steps (perfect for choosing your activation step) or go into overwatch. Overwatch is especially useful but can really slow down your units as the total cost of overwatching in terms of steps can be huge if you decide to sit and watch a gap for a long period of times. Certain units can also use a boost action, delaying their activation to speed up others units.

Two teams settle into a firefight, with the Rogue (bottom left) easily able to pick off important enemies

When it comes to engaging fire, there are a few facts to look at. Basic shooting sees you targeting the nearest enemy unit, rolling a number of dice depending on your weapons attack value and then modifying the number of dice based on cover. Target values of dice depend on ranges and once you have found out how many successes you have, your opponent gets to roll defence dice. The defence dice, made up of armour, toughness and the number of successful hits, will nearly always outnumber the attacking dice (although needing a 5 or more to block damage) so it never feels like the defender doesn’t have a chance to keep their units alive. Certain weapons affect this system such as sniper rifles (which remove a number of defence dice from the pool) making them feel more decisive than others. Successful hits also cause shock, which pushes that unit back in the wheel, reducing their effectiveness.

The other shooting options are to assault (moving and shooting in exchange for having less chance of causing damage) or to suppress. This ignores cover and armour but gives up the chance of causing damage. Instead any successful hit will push the suppressed unit back in the wheel, letting you maintain initiative. The is perfect when engaging elite armoured troops or those in cover, while also letting you move up your troops for the killing blow. You can also setup deadly crossfires (which allows for multiple units to shoot) or, if your units are about to be engaged when you are close enough on the wheel, use reaction fire.

Close combat occurs, bogging down both parties as the fire fight goes on over their heads

Finally there is close combat. Like shooting, the attacker rolls a number of dice depending on melee skills and weapons (which also affect the required score to succeed) and then the defenders rolls against them, with extra dice added for melee toughness and From my games, it really doesn’t feel like a focus of the game. It takes up a lot of steps to fight and the defender has a massive advantage so really, unless you’re packing big knives or want to bog down your opponent, the killing blow will be executed through shooting and assault actions. In more melee focused settings, I could see this defender advantage being a bit more dramatic but for ultramodern, its an action of last resort.

The core rules may be universal but you can’t really play a game without detailing some example forces. The book goes for a modern/near future sci-fi setting, giving you access to a range of elements from the regular soldiers and insurgents to combat droids and heroic specialists (including my favourite The Slab). All of these units can be picked by any of the factions (which range from the brown coated militia and regular army up to The Agency and a tech focused team made mostly of droids) but there is a system in place to help make your lists themed correctly.

Most of the element costs are expressed as both points and an icon to represent a token. Each type of token means something different, such as Speed token which is linked to upgrades and troops that give your force an edge in movement or the Tech icon for the more prototype kit. The points values of each token depends on the force – the militia would only pay 10 points for a speed token while the slower regular army pays 20. The creates a nice balance and stops every force being the same. The other thing that helps to theme forces is the rewards charts which detail how much VP you can gain or lose during a battle. As well as the usual actions like killing enemies or taking casualties, there are VP modifiers for faction specific tasks. The Agency, for example, gains lots of additional VP if an enemy specialist is captured but nothing for killing them – after all, their focus is on the intel, not the body count.

The Spearhead operator (just above the black SUV) is taking full advantage of the corner cover

Elements can also take upgrades to add new weapons and new abilities. Some of these also cost tokens (such as the common ability to take a run in your first action rather than being forced to walk) again helping to theme each of the forces. There are multiple pages of abilities for both weapons and troops, giving you plenty of starting points when building your own units for a custom time period. As well as the modern/near future setting, there is also some discussion on gunpowder and medieval weapons which should make creating some forces for less firearm focused time periods easier. I’d expect force lists (including new factions and elements) to be released as the game goes on. There are fillable PDFs available on the Wargames Vault for writing down the details of your force.

Finally at the back of the book there is a big section on scenarios. With some general guidance on different types of objectives and more details on victory points, the final chapter includes 9 scenarios for you to play. There is a nice mix of symmetrical and asymmetrical setups on offer, with situations such as rushing for extraction or fighting the other team for control of a crashed cargo plane. Each of the scenarios are packed full of detail, and often include additional rules to help make the battle feel a little more unique.

So what are my overall thoughts? I really recommend giving this game a go. The new initiative system and simple core mechanics make it very exciting to play, requiring some careful forward planning. By being a universal system, it also feels like a great sandbox (even more so than usual) just begging for you to dig through it and try out all the various scenarios. When playing with my usual opponent in York, it didn’t take long for us to big up the key ideas and start planning and (more importantly) pull off some really cool maneuvers. It might not match other games for getting the feel of Ultramodern gaming 100% but it is an incredibly fun way of getting the toys on the table and playing something that challenges your tactical brain. I’m also excited to see what the future brings – from talking to him, the author seems very keen to keep adding new scenarios, settings and more.

I’m planning a few more games of Round of Fire, as well as creating some addons to really theme the game to the Ultramodern setting. So keep your eyes on the blog for more details!

Oh you would prefer the impressions in Great Big Ultramodern Wargaming Rules Comparison titles? Okay, I can do that. Click read more to see them!

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Impressions: Spectre’s SAS Counter Terrorism Response

The final part of Spectre’s November releases was the SAS Counter Terrorism Response team. These guys may be familiar to those of us in the UK who watched the news earlier this year and noticed the guys in tactical gear alongside the police. All the operators are wearing civilian clothing (with no kneepads and only a few pockets on the trousers) with plate carriers, battle belts and helmets to help them perform their role. The team also wear mesh facemasks which is an unusual choice as it’s an item more commonly seen on airsofters. However, it does a good job of protecting your face from debris and doesn’t fog up your eye protection. This is in addition to the balaclava’s benefit of masking your ID. The operators have varying levels of armour; As well as the basic plate carrier and helmet, some figures also have applique armour panels on their head and/or the pelvic armoured plate. This really helps to make them look like they are ready to rumble. The range has three packs at the moment:

Squad Set

The main set is 6 men strong, in a variety of poses (three aiming, three in combat poses). All are armed with L119A2 short carbines, complete with lasers, torches and red dots. Some of the figures have assault packs. As always, there is plenty of variation in terms of webbing layout and pouches. An important thing with any multi-figure sets, the operators look great when deployed together – even all the shooting poses are varied enough that they don’t look like carbon copies.

Marksman

The first backup pack for the team is a marksman. Armed with a HK 417 DMR (with scope and laser), the marksman will help to back up the rest of the team. I love some of the details on this figure – you can even see the engravings on the AFG on the bottom rail.

Dog Handler

The final Response team pack is a Dog Handler and Malinois multirole dog. The dog is a new sculpt, an improvement over the original one early purchases of Spectre may have received alongside their K9 Handlers. It looks a lot more dynamic than the original one. The handler is also really cool – he’s got both the applique armour AND the pelvic plate. Combined with the UICW (a super short M6 carbine) he’s using, this figure will pull great double duty as a point man for your team.


For painting, my main focus with these guys was the eternal issue of making teams not in uniform still look like they are part of a team. The multicam webbing and helmets help, but I also did the trick of using the same palette of colours – for example I’ll use one colour for a figure’s trousers and then reuse the colour for someone else’s shirt. US Field Drab was used for the holsters and the multicam was done using the Spectre method. As with all my figures, I finished them off with a dousing in Agrax Earthshade to bring out the details and soften the edges of the colours.


Now I’ve finished all three packs, I think it’s time to pick my favourite of the three groups from the UKSF collection. Despite the coolness of the Assault squad in respirators and the dynamic posing of the Rural Ops (as well as the good mix of weaponry), the Response team stands out. I love the combination of civilian clothing and tactical kit. Alongside the two additional packs, this helps to make the team a fantastic set for anyone running close quarter actions. As with all the ranges, I’d love to see some more support operators for the Response Team. Operators with breaching gear or carrying larger rucksacks to stand in as a medic would be a great addition. As well as the traditional role as CT Response, these guys would also work for some covert agents. They look like they have just thrown their tactical kit over their street clothes. Look for them on the streets of Bazistan and Zaiweibo, ready to swoop in and snatch intel while under fire. This is one set I’m excited to get on the table.

Impressions: Spectre’s November Releases

In my article on unreleased models written back in October, a big chunk was taken up with three previews spelling out “WHO DARES WINS”. Well November saw those figures arrive, bringing the latest version of members of the UK’s Special Forces Community to the tabletop.

The big thing about this release is that all the core infantry are sold in the squad packs with any additional support in single figure packs. I think this system works well – it does mean you can’t buy individual figures for conversion work but it prevents you being unable to complete a squad because one of the three pack isn’t available. It also makes buying a starter easier – you can just point at a squad box or two and say “get that”.

SAS Rural Ops

We start with the new SAS Operators ready for an operation in the field. Equipped with body armour, assault packs and sidearms, the team has a good mix of guns ready for any engagements encountered on patrol. Five guys with L119A2 SFW carbines (complete with suppressors, lasers and optics) and a LMG give you your ranged firepower while the team also includes a UGL and a light anti-tank weapon meaning you have a wide selection of tools.

I think that this set shows off the best circumstances for using the squad pack system – a single box that gives you a squad that’s ready to go and get on the table as a pretty reasonable force. The figures are also great showing a lot of detail on each figure.

As an additional option, Spectre are also selling a Marksman to go with the rest of the Rural Ops squad. He is armed with a scoped 417, the perfect DMR to help out the rest of the squad. I particularly like the fact he is sculpted wearing an old style SAS smock to give him some variety. Unfortunately it seems like my DPM job is a bit too similar to my multicam so it can be hard to spot.

SAS Counter Terrorism Assault

While the Rural Squad are great for most ops, sometimes you need some guys to take down some doors. The Counter Terrorism Assault Squad is basically the modernised version of the classic black kit. They are wearing Crye gear but most importantly have donned respirators – perfect for defeating CS gas or when you need to assault a villain with a container of pathogen. In terms of gear, they are all armed with suppressed carbines (again with red dots and lasers) and sidearms. There is some nice variation with the tactical gear, with different troopers carrying different arrangements of pouches

One comment about this set is that it would have been nicer to see a figure in this style with some specialised gear such as a breaching shotgun or other device for close quarters combat – as it stands the set is all carbines which doesn’t give you the same options as the Rural Ops pack.

You may noticed I ended up painting them in multicam rather than the black used on the default models. This was just a matter of personal taste and I think it’s better suited for the sort of ops I’ll be using them on in my games.

SAS Counter Terrorism Response

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*—————-* DO NOT RELEASE BEFORE: 20/12/2017 *—————-*

Oh, that’s inconvenient. Looks like you’ll have to check back on Wednesday for the details on the SAS Counter Terrorism Response set.


I think this range is pretty great. There are some wonderful details, especially with the new style of heads; the gas mask and face protection (which you’ll see more of on Wednesday) are very different from any of the previous releases and they have turned out really well. I’m looking forward to seeing what other future releases might have a similar look – fingers crossed for some guys in full Hazmat gear. In addition, all of the armament and clothing shows off the quality of the research job on these figures – all the little tweaks to make them look different from the other ranges despite the pieces of common gear.

L-R: US Army Ranger, Task Force Operator, SAS Rural, SAS Assault

As you can see, they fit alongside the other operators pretty well while still looking different enough. This means there are now four collections you could mix and match when trying to build up your Special Forces assault team – perfect if you’re using my Task Oriented Team system. I’d heartily recommend picking these guys up if you want a set of Operators. In fact, the Rural Ops pack is probably the best option for someone just starting to play Spectre.

Impressions: Under Fire Miniature’s West German Polizei

As much as I love many of the established companies, I’m always keeping my eye on what else there is. One company that has caught my eye is Under Fire Miniatures. They have a wonderful range of 20mm figures but more exciting for me is their small but rapidly growing set of 28mm stuff. At the time of writing they have two sides of a Cold War Gone Hot Scenario, with 1980’s era West German Bundeswehr and East German NVA to fight against, with each range including command and support weapons. They also Russians for the same era on the way to the casters, getting you ready for some Red Thunder from over the Iron Curtain.

However, when I got to their stand at Fiasco I was looking at their other 28mm option, the West German Polizei. These figures really interested me from when they were first announced thanks to the mixture of military firearms and police uniform. Both packs are £8 each and include four figures. Looking for some local cops to patrol the mean streets of Bazi City (or with the long arms more likely the rural areas of Bazistan), I grabbed both packs and got to work.

The figures are excellent sculpts – in fact, the sculpting style reminds me strongly of Empress’s stuff, which is always of pretty high quality. Assembly is simple – most are one piece figures and those with separate limbs have a pin system making it easy to fit the limbs. That said, I recommend dry fitting the parts to make sure they are not any unwanted gaps.

Pack one is the basic pack, giving you 4 police officers armed with G3s. Two are shooting while the other two are more specialised. The chap in the beret is running with G3 and a HK69 grenade launcher slung on his back (ready for dropping smoke or firing rubber balls into the crowd when on police duty) while the final officer is obviously a superior (based off the pose and beard sculpted on the figure). I really like the posing on the two shooting police officers – its simple but works really effectively.

Pack two is the support weapons – two with Medium Machine Guns (MG3s) and two with Panzerfaust 44 anti-tank weapons. These may look a little heavy for a police force but makes sense in a Cold War Gone Hot/Mass Civil War situation. As with pack 1, there are some really nice details from ammo boxes for the MG3s to the sports bag the police have pushed into service for carrying AT rounds. These guys should be a nasty surprise for your opponent when you tell them you are using some police in today’s game.


Wanting to theme them more to Bazistan, I decided to sculpt some facial hair onto three of them (the running G3, the idle Pzf 44 gunner and the moving MG3 trooper). This was really simple and I fear I didn’t leave it long enough to cure as the undercoat covered up most of the detail. However, I did the job of making them look a little hairier.

Here they are painted up! I went for a Police uniform (so no camo) and took a look at police forces in the region. Originally the colour was Khaki top and bottom but it looked a bit dull so I add the Iraqi sand trousers. The caps were painted in beige brown while the band around was painted the same colour as the berets. US Tan drab was finely painted on the webbing. As always the final touch was lashings of Agrax Earthshade.

Here are the rifle pack, showing off the slung blooper. I really like the wooden colour that came out on the G3s giving them the look of an older pattern/locally produced gun as opposed to the later polymer guns. It also nicely offsets against the black painted gun.

The support pack painted up. Not technically right but I’m happy with the wooden stock on the MG3. The anti-tank weapons went with the usual scheme of metal and green warhead.

As with any new manufacturer, it’s time for a scale comparison. This image also shows off the various security forces in Bazistan (with more details on them coming soon). From left to right

  • Crooked Dice Lawman figure – Argo Corporation Security
  • Spectre Miniatures Insurgent Kill Team – Bazistan Army SF
  • Empress Universal in PASGAT – Bazistan Army
  • Under Fire Polizei – Bazistan Internal Security
  • Eureka ANP – Bazistan Local Police

If you’re looking for something different, and don’t mind the older style of kit, the Cold War figures from Under Fire are some awesome figures to add to your collection. The sculpting is great, they fit in well with other major ranges and are great fun to paint thanks to the mixture of kit. From talking to them at the stand at Fiasco it sounds like they have figures planned (MP5s were mentioned) but I wouldn’t say no to some police with handguns/revolvers. Either way, I’ll be watching that page with glee.

For the ultramodern gamers, Cold War figures still show some appeal. These guys would look great as police or palace guard in their fancy hats. Depending on the setting, the NVA and Bundeswehr could stand in for second or third line army troops, meaning you can have trained guys with a different look to ragged insurgent look. With a few clever paint schemes, it easy to get these guys into your force and onto the table. I’m probably going to pick some more up next year and I look forward to painting them!