Impressions: Osprey New Vanguard Technical

The historical wargaming hobby has many aspects to it for people to enjoy. One of the aspects I particularly like is learning the period as it’s a great way to learn tactics, be inspired for scenarios and find references for paint schemes. When looking for information, one of my favourite places to start is Osprey Publishing’s various ranges. Well written and formatted and with great artwork to illustrate the subject, these books help to provide a great overview. So when they showed off their new releases for April 2018, I noticed one book in there I just had to pre-order.

Written by Leigh Neville, who has also done several books for Osprey (including the RAID book on Takur Ghar and the hardback Special Forces in the War on Terror book that lives in my reference pile), the latest book covers a subject that has been featured quite heavily on here – Technicals! So for the latest part of Project Technical, we’re going to take a look at some reference material for building your own fleet of vehicles.

The book is the usual form factor for Osprey. Softback, 48 pages and colour throughout, the formatting makes the book an easy read. It’s also packed full of pictures (at least one on each page on average) and includes 13 pieces of Peter Denis’s incredible artwork. There are a whole host of base chassis shown ranging from the classic pickups to Land Rovers and trucks.

The book kicks off with a basic introduction to the concept of the technical as well as looking into the very early roots of the idea. A small section then looks at the most common weapon systems found in use with the technical. After that, it runs through various key conflicts the technical has been involved in starting with Beirut and The Great Toyota War in Africa, passing through Somalia (including an interesting bit of information on an alternative origin of the name “Technical”) and the Balkans before looking at their use in conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. It’s a pretty comprehensive look at the history, with a focus on showing the various unique vehicles from each theatre. This is a great inspiration for how best to make your technicals stand out.

Finally the last section jumps the fence and looks at the use of technicals by Special Operations forces. This section covers the whole history of them, such as the use of Land Cruisers in Gulf War and some details on Russian technicals. There is a lot of information I here I hadn’t read before, as well as plenty of photos of pickups with the Special Operations modifications I have on my own Spectre vehicles.

Do I recommend the book? Wholeheartedly, yes. I think it’s a great little reference, covering all aspects of the topic with a great level of detail without bogging down trying to tell you them. The pictorial element helps to bring the information to life, showing off the weird and wonderfully variety of things people have made.

The only problem with the book? It would have been nice to have last year when I started building mine own collection of these vehicles!

If you want to pick up your own copy, it’s available in PDF, ePub and physical copy over on the Osprey Publishing website. You can also get it via Amazon – you’ll find two affiliate links below (pointing to the UK and US stores)

Initial Impressions: Knights of Dice Tabula Rasa

 

In my overview earlier this year looking at Adobe buildings, I briefly talked about Knights of Dice and their MDF buildings. Since then, I’ve picked up the rest of range and I’m now ready to talk about all the various buildings you can purchase from the Tabula Rasa desert range. In this post, I’m going to look over the basics shells, point out some features and then quickly talk about what I intend to next with them.

First up, let’s talk about the common features. All the buildings are designed as shells, only contained key structural features and with none of the detailing many other buildings would have (such as exposed brick textures or doors). The shells are made of MDF and arrive on a sprue ready to be pushed out. They are held in tightly enough so they are not accidentally pushed out during transit. This does require some pushing to get them out but I’ve yet to break a piece while extracting them. In addition, most sprues include a crowbar piece that can be used to help get the pieces ready for use. All the MDF is well cut (needing only a tiny bit of trimming on the connectors) and fit together perfectly during assembly. As always, do a dry fit before gluing together.

In all cases, the buildings have removable roofs and easy access to both floors. All the buildings also have logical access to each room via both internal or external doors, windows or via staircases. I’m not a huge fan of the staircases; assembled by default and they are way too small to fit figures on bases onto the stairs, instead acting more like a ramp. There are alternative ways to assemble them so that they are more usable but by default you won’t be placing figures on them.

Crooked Dice, Spectre, Empress, Eureka

In terms of scaling, the doorways are a tiny bit small for 25mm bases to fit through but perfect for 20mm. Heightwise, figures from Spectre and Empress fit them perfectly, although again I recommend 2mm deep bases rather than the 3mm slotta style bases.


The first two buildings are referred to as Compounds and are the biggest buildings in the range. Both have two floors as well as multiple internal rooms making them a battleground in their own right.

Compound 1 is a huge arrangement, spreading six rooms across two floors. Features of note include a covered exterior area on the ground floor, staircase up to an open roof and two upstairs rooms.

This building is obviously on the more stylish end of the range, perfect for a target building. The ground floor in particular is perfect for some CQB; the wall between the covered area and the rear room is asking for a breaching charge.


Compound 2 is a slightly smaller footprint but equally detailed. Again spread over two floors, this building has three rooms on the ground floor (the long one is split in half) and an upstairs room that leads onto the roof of the long room. The upstairs room is actually a frame that fits inside the outer shell, making it easy to lift out and be used in-game. 

As a note, the metal details are not part of the kit. They are from Empress as part of their builder’s yard. Expect some details on them as the project goes along.

Being a larger building, Compound Two presents some interesting tactical decisions. Multiple rooms will need clearing and the upstairs could be an interesting target location.


The bulk of the range is the small Desert Residences. These buildings have a smaller footprint than the compounds but should still be interesting to play though.

Residence One is a simple two room building but also include a flat outside area with a low wall around it.

Again, the metal details are from Empress.


Residence 2 use the same idea but in a slightly different arrangement to give some variation to your town.


Residence 3 is really cool. It uses the same footprint as Compound 2 but only on one floor. It’s a clever reuse of the same pieces but it works – the slightly larger layout makers the rooms great for scuffle.


The final building is something different. Labelled as a Storage Building, this would be great filled with ammo boxes and fuel cans. The arches are sadly too small for vehicles so it can’t be used as a garage/workshop without modification but there is still plenty of space to fill with things that might go boom.

If the compounds were not tempting enough, then this is perfect for scenario use. Fuel, ammo or a weapon cache, the multiple entrances will making this building an interesting position to take.


So what do I think of these buildings? The first thing I stress is that these things are shells – If you’re a game developer, these things are grey boxes, geometry designed to give you the mechanically feel for a place but not the actual look. They are the perfect starting point to make them feel how you want them while having much of the heavy lifting (such as rooms or multi-storey buildings) already done. You could but them on the table after a spray of paint but they would look a little plain. This lack of detail also means they are slightly cheaper than many other MDF buildings.The quality level is great and they don’t feel too small, even with based figures, that can be an issue with some other MDF set ups.

Once you put some extra bits on them and painted them up, you can get some really cool looking stuff. Spectre have used them on their demo board at Crisis and in the UK (I got to run a game on them at the Spectre Ops day back in July). In fact, Knights of Dice have released a new range using these Tabula Rasa buildings as a base but with some sci-fi elements ready to make your own den of scum and villany.

As a useful starting point, there are plenty of accessory packs as part of the Tabula Rasa range. These add useful elements like antennas and vents, as well as some walkways and ladders to improve access to the buildings.

If you’re interested in them, where is it best to pick them up? For most people, and if you want the latest stuff, you’ll want to grab them directly from Knights of Dice via their online store. In fact, the website says if you are in the area (Victoria in Australia), feel free to drop in for a visit. Being Australian based, this can lead to some long delivery times and expensive postage. Luckily, Shiny Games in the UK also stocks them (with only a slight delay between release on the KoD site and being in the UK). I have bought a fair amount of stuff from them and they are a fantastic shop. Great pricing, prompt delivery and even have a loyalty scheme ready to knock some money off your orders.


I now have these boxes, it’s time to make them look pretty. This article officially kicks Project Compound, which will take these buildings and make them look ready for battle. The idea is to make them look like an urban area somewhere in Bazistan in the early days of a conflict. Some limited damage but not completely wiped out. As well as the texturing and painting needed, I also want to add some more walls and street furniture. I’m going to update the blog with a new post once I work out which parts are going where. I still have a few Empress bits to use up (both air conditioning units and TV dishes) so I now need to work out which buildings are getting them.

I’m looking forward to getting these buildings done. This should be a great chance to make some buildings ready to sit on my boards as well as theming them to my theatre of operation – I’ll be going all out with posters and advertising.

If you’re wanting to keep an eye on this project, I recommend following the facebook page where I’ll be putting some WIP photos up.

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.

Impressions: Spectre SF Technicals – Initial Thoughts

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

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

The Trucks

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

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

The Upgrade Packs

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

Alpha

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

Bravo

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

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

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

Charlie & Delta

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

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

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

Weapons

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

Crew

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

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

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

Common Elements

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

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

M2 .50cal SF

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

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

Mk47 AGL

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

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

Dual M240

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

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

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

M134 Minigun

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

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

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

Stowage

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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


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

Tactics: Razors on the Battlefield

Photo from Spectre Miniatures

So now you’ve got your Razor, built it up to how you want and found the rules for your system of choice, how should you actually use them on the tabletop? I’m going to primarily look at their use in Spectre Operations, in particular, analysing the rules that the team at Spectre have released. However, many of the concepts are applicable across multiple games.

Fast Attack

The first thing about the Razor is it’s really, REALLY fast – a move value of 16″ means it’s almost the fastest thing on the board (just in behind the motorbike). In addition, it’s also All Terrain so rough ground barely slows it down. It also has the rule Agile, making it able to turn on a dime; great for getting out of harm’s way in cramped and crowded streets. Finally on the positives, the rule Muffled Engine let’s the Razor get even closer before the alarm is raised, a great addition for stealth games.

The downside is that it has no armour with one of the lowest  DC values in the game. This isn’t an AFV, it’s a taxi designed to get you from A to B quickly and over rough terrain.

So as a high-speed, all terrain vehicle it can be great when you need to make a quick getaway or extract a VIP from the hot zone. Just remember you can only board a stationary vehicle and it can’t move in the same turn passengers embark. On the plus side, it’s open-topped nature means the rear passengers can easily put down fire as you race away.

Fire Support

Photo from Spectre Miniatures

By default, the Razor’s only weapon is the commander’s machine gun. This arm mounted weapon can be a compact LMG up to a 7.62 firing minigun (the current kit and crew come with a MMG with scope and suppressor). If the Razor only has this, then it’s mainly in place for self-defence or suppressing the bad guys during the final run into the drop off/exfil – the range of these weapons is going to put you right under the nose of the bad guys and you are in danger of biting off more than you can chew. Additionally, the arm only has a limited field of fire, so it can’t engage targets on the other side of the vehicle or behind it – this is where your passengers come in handy.

The Razor can also take a roll bar mounted weapon system. The weapon in this slot is limited by being Move or Fire (something the unarmoured but quick vehicle would probably prefer not to have) but the options for this slot are much more destructive, including HMGs and auto grenade launchers. Having both slots filled with weapons turns the Razor into something similar to a WMIK, perfect for forming a fast-moving base of fire for your main assault. Take advantage of the range of these systems to stay away from incoming fire and keep moving to the best locations, bearing in mind a vehicle mounted HMG doesn’t need to pack and then unpack when relocating.

Supply Point

Photo from Spectre Miniatures

The Razor also has another bonus to it – the fact it can carry additional gear. I can see this ability being underestimated by many players but it could actually be something very important for a small force. If you max out each character with multiple weapon systems (using the rules in the book for max equipment carried), then additional launchers and items for specific uses can be stored in a moving supply point. It’s conceivable that when a team of operators assaults a town, a character could use a sniper rifle outside the town to take advantage of the large range intervals before swapping it out for a shotgun as the fight gets up close and personal.

Stowing kit in a vehicle also means weapons that include the encumbering rule (such as MMGs) can be stowed until close to the fighting, removing that modifier to agility and allowing them to move at the same speed as their team (when sprinting or tactically moving) before grabbing a bigger gun when needing to form a fire position. The other items (long-range comns and medical gear) let you have access to this important kit with a certain character being stuck in the role as the game begins. Instead, as soon as the first casualty happens, any figure close to the Razor can grab what’s needed and then rush to begin triage.

The Razor 4 also has the ability to transport a crew served missile launcher, making the Razor a great vehicle to carry a tank hunter team when fighting armoured opposition. Just remember to shoot and scoot, seeing as your armour is not particularly thick.

Conclusion

Overall the Razor provides some new capabilities on the Spectre battlefields. When all of its functionality is being used, it provides a unique vehicle with multiple benefits. There are some roles it should not be used in (frontal assaults across minefields for example) but for the ones it’s suitable in I can’t see it disappointing the player in charge.

The main thing to remember is to play to its strengths : keep moving, don’t get pinned in place, think about your loadout carefully before the game begins. Apart from that, it’s a cool model to have on the tabletop and I look forward to seeing them crop up in battle reports.

Additional Rules: Razor In Other Games

Spectre have released their Razor model and alongside it brought out some rather cool rules to include it in their Spectre Operations game.

The Razor has a few key characteristics that separate it from other vehicles. These are

  1. High speed even over rough terrain
  2. Small size, light weight and lacking in armour
  3. Carrying capacity
  4. Weapon carrying

Using this set of ideas as a starting point, I donned the writing helmet and delved into my pile of rules (covered in great detail here). The first issue that came up was OSC and Danger Close. Both these rule sets currently lack rules for vehicles (although OSC is getting its rules in the next update). In those games, a Razor would be sited just off the board to act as a resupply or MG position and provide support. This left three rulesets to take a look at. Spectre’s rules does include the Razor 4 variant, different to the model that is released, but for now we will focus on the smaller Razor 2.

These rules are in their very early stages and so may be slightly unbalanced. If in doubt, talk them through with your opponents and tweak if needed. Think of these as guidelines.

Black Ops

Black Ops is a cool system that is super easy to get into and great fun to play. It’s rare that you will bring your own vehicles to the party (relying on stealth and all that) but for the Razor we can make an exception.

Razor 2 Stats

NameFrontSideRearCardEquipmentCrew (Passengers)Points
Razor 2000KingLMG (commander's)Driver, Commander (2)6

Rules

  • Razors count as man-sized targets when shooting at them (like bikes). When hit, they use the car row in the hit location table.
  • The Razor, as you can see in the stats, has no armour. You’ll want to drive very quickly.
  • Razors are fast: Cautious Move is 7″, Advance is 14″ and Run is 22″
  • The front machine gun always counts as stationary (so you always gain the additional shot)
  • The Razor has a quiet engine. It does not immediately raise the alarm, instead it generates a noise counter every turn it moves. This is increased to two noise counters if it Advances or three if it Runs

Options

  • The commander LMG can be upgraded to a GPMG for 1pt or a minigun for 4pts
  • The roof slot can be fitted with a heavy weapon. This turns one of the passengers into a gunner. The weapons available are: LMG 2pts, GPMG 3pts, HMG 4pts, AGL 5pts
  • The vehicle can carry two additional weapons (bought from those available to its faction) that can be used by character. Additionally, including a Razor allows the squad to take an additional squad upgrade for the usual points cost.

 

Force on Force

So Force on Force isn’t my favourite game and I haven’t used a ton of vehicles in it. However, looking around, it seems like many of the stat lines are standardised and anything on the small side will look pretty similar. I’m basing this off the Chenworth DPV with a few small tweaks. I was tempted by Deathtrap as an attribute but I think it would be a negative too far. Instead Technical makes it a less effective gun platform.

For weapon stats, check the rulebook.

NameClassTypeFirepowerGun RatingMGsFrontSideRearDeckCrewAttributes
Razor 2SW (Optional)
M2HB
or
Mk19
or
M240
(optional)M240 (3D)1d61d61d61d62+2Technical

Skirmish Sangin

Skirmish Sangin provides me with a problem as there are two ways to implement the Razor – treat it as a vehicle or use something similar to the motorcycle rules covered in Dispatches 2. I prefer the second option due to its increased detail but in case you don’t have a copy of Dispatches 2 I’ll present both options.

The Vehicle Option

The Razor 2 in Skirmish Sangin is generated the standard way depending on the crew experience level. The important information is the following:

VehicleArmourIED ProtectionPrimary WeaponSecondary WeaponCrewCost Morale ModCapacity
Razor 200None (Can be replaced with MMG, HMG, GMG)MMG (can be replaced with LMG)2 + 2
(3+1 if primary weapon is bought)
100 (not including weapons)04

The Razor can be used to carry additional gear. Players before the game can pay points values to store weapons and hand grenades in the vehicle. It takes 2AP to collect an item from the vehicle. I recommend limiting it to a small number of grenades and between 2 and 4 long arms. Mention your loadout to your opponent before the game starts and keep track of which character has which weapon by using a token. 

 

THE BIKE-ISH OPTION

The other way of showing off the Razor is to treat it like the motorbikes in Dispatches 2 (page 61) but with some minor tweaks due to it being a slightly larger and more stable platform. I’d use the following changes:

  • A Razor is bought as a vehicle using the profile above but without crew. It is instead crewed by four other figures bought as normal. These use their Drive skill. As ISAF troops would be more used to driving motorised vehicles, they get the skill for free. It is generated the same way – BODY x experience level.
  • A Razor has 4 crew positions – Driver, Commander and two rear passengers.
    • The Driver’s Drive skill is used for all tests involving the vehicle moving.
    • The Commander uses the commander seat’s weapon (their own weapon has been stashed away) and using their heavy weapon skill. The firing arc is from the forward position to the 4 o’clock position
    • The rear passengers can only shoot backwards and use their own weapons. They can only fire pistols, SMGs, Assault Rifles, Shotguns, grenade launchers, LMGs or MMGs while in that seat and only in the rear arc.
    • If a heavy weapon has been purchased it is mounted on the roll bars. One of the rear passengers is now the gunner. They can only fire in a forward arc, must use their heavy weapon skill and only shoot when the vehicle is stationary.
  • If a Razor collides with a character, it does not inflict damage on the crew. However, it does force a morale test.
  • If the Razor crashes, the crew take 1D10 damage. However, the vehicle can then move on after the crew members take a morale test.
  • If you attempt to ram a vehicle with the Razor, the other vehicle takes 1D10 damage. The crew of the Razor take 2D10 and must then take a morale test.
  • The team on board operates as a fireteam, with all crew members using the driver’s activation phases. They each get 3AP to use on the table on page 61 of Dispatches 2 but act in a random order.
  • When shooting, the crew take the modifier for shooting on the move. The driver does not shoot – his hands are on the wheel.
  • The Razor moves the full distance of 40 metres no matter how many crew it is carrying.
  • If a crewman is hit, they do not need to take a drive test to remain in the vehicle. However if the driver is hit while moving, the vehicle will move forward half its move distance in the next turn. If it impacts difficult terrain, it crashes.
  • The Razor provides light cover to anyone on foot behind it.
  • When disembarked, the Razor’s commander weapon can be used by a model standing close to it. It takes 1AP to begin using the weapon and 1AP to disengage from it. The firing arc is from the front of the vehicle to the rear of the vehicle as long as it does not clip through the Razor’s body.
  • The Razor can still carry gear using the rule mentioned above in the vehicle section.

That’s it for now. I hope more people will take a look at these cool vehicles and see that can be used everywhere, providing a new set of capabilities in any fire fight. Try out the rules, see what works and I look forward to your feedback!

Impressions: Spectre’s Razor Part 2

Before you read this impression, I really recommend going back and reading the original impressions on the Razor. I only intend to cover the new stuff and most of what I talk about in the previous post covers building the Razor now.

It’s taken a while but the Razor is now available from the Spectre website! Although it’s currently out of stock due to everyone buying them, they are now actually on the site. In addition, there are now crew and stowage available so you can make your vehicle look even more operator. We’re going to take a look through these new arrivals, and then have a quick update on my own Razors.

Razor 2

Building the Razor that arrived in the post was almost exactly the same as in my original post. I had to do a little clean up on the parts (you can still see the flash in the picture above) and I had to fix a cracked mud guard. Apart from that, the various pieces assembled easily. It was helped by the instructions now being online which mostly matched up to my procedures

There were a few things I tweaked but these were mainly due to the other releases that came out the same day. Primarily, I left off the seats, roll cage, steering wheel and GPMG. The other thing I left off is what sits in front of the passenger to make it match up with my pre-built one. I think it’s a handle (something to hold onto as the driver guns it) but I think the original part went missing somewhere between the Salute showfloor and my flat.

Razor Stowage

Image from Spectre Miniatures as someone forgot to snap photos when the models turned up

The first new addition is the Razor Stowage pack. The pack contains three items (two jerry cans in storage racks and a spare tire on frame). Both objects come with mounting brackets designed for specific places; the spare tire clips onto the top of the roll cage while the storage racks slot into the slits on either side of the cargo frame. However, you can easily trim them down if you want to place them somewhere else, such as cutting the supports off the racks so they can be placed on the rear gate of the cargo bed.

As for the looks, it really makes the Razor look a lot more suited for the off-road life and less civilian. The design features of the elements (in order to help place the items) is really smart and helps a lot with placement without giving a hard and fast “ITEMS MUST BE PLACED IN THIS LOCATION”.

Razor Crew

The other major addition is the crew. Unlike the technicals, the Razor is open to the elements and so really requires crew figures for use on the tabletop (it’s a bit strange rolling an empty buggy around the world). The two crew packs give you four figures in total; Alfa with the front crew (Driver and Gunner) and Bravo with the two guys sat in the cargo bed. Splitting the crew into two packs let you easily pick the crew you want, especially if you want to fill the rear cargo section with some form of cargo without having spare figures left over. The figures have the same shapes on the bottom of them that match up with the seats so that the crew fit in the correct place. The crew designs fit with the rest of the Spectre range, looking closest to the Task Force Operators or Rangers collections.

Now, the crew do come moulded into the seats and this was a minor annoyance as someone who built up their vehicle before they were available. However, after having seen the final product, there is no way I’d have wanted the figures separately as you would not have been able to get the same level of posing as these guys have. It’s cool how the crew members actually feel part of the vehicle (such as the driver with one foot on the outside of the buggy) rather than just resting on top of it. Also the guys in the back do not look massively

Fitting the steering is a pain in the neck and the getting the GPMG into location required some careful balancing of three separate pieces. But overall, these guys are a must buy if you have a Razor that you intend to have rolling round the battlefield

My Razors

So that’s cool for everyone else but what am I doing with mine?

So first thing – I made my first Razor before the crew were available and so it’s fitted with the seats. This means that without serious surgery (not something I want to try on resin) I can’t mount crew on it. But this gave me a plan. Razor 1 would become the dismounted version, ready for use as an objective or when the team dismounts. Razor 2, the brand new one, would get the crew figures. I would then make sure both had the same arrangement of gear and spare tires and paint them up in the same way.

This did throw up a minor issue. On Razor 1, the GPMG is stowed against the side of the cargo deck (primarily to make sure there isn’t a fragile piece of metal sticking out at a right angle). On Razor 2,this GPMG is now in an active position as the gunner starts hammering away. This leaves a giant empty space on the side of the vehicle where I can’t mount a rack as it wouldn’t match. However, the other release of the week came to the rescue. I stuck a bag over the space on Razor 2 – the thinking is that the team has grabbed their assault pack after dismounting (hence why it’s missing on Razor 1). It’s a cool little thing that no one apart from me will notice.

The next step was painting. Both the vehicles got a black undercoat and then followed by a desert tan spray. I then painted the details. I also painted up the crew using the new multicam pattern separately from the vehicles so the shadows on them would still be black. I then got the joy of assembling them onto a mostly finished buggy. This is a painting method I hate but in this case I think it was the best option.

As you can see in the photo above, I didn’t quite finish them before going to press. However, I should have them done for Monday’s Wargaming Week.

Conclusion Part 2

The Razor is an exciting kit to build and looks great when finished. However, I think the additional packs really make it. The stowage gives them a cooler feel while the crew is basically vital. Total cost for a fully equipped Razor (buggy + both crew packs + razor specific stowage) is around £33 which is quite expensive for such a small vehicle. However, it is packed full of detail and makes a nice centerpiece/tactical option for an elite force of operators.

Looking ahead, I hope we get more stowage and alternative crew poses. The rules page has some interesting points on it (such as a mount for heavy weapons on the roll cage which seems nuts) and even mentions some more variations on the Razor design. As I said in the first impressions piece, the Razor shows off a super exciting and interesting direction of releases that Spectre can go in.

If you are wanting your own Razor and accessories, you can all the bits over at https://www.spectreminiatures.com/collections/vehicles

Impressions: Spectre’s Vehicle Stowage Alfa

Alongside the release of the Razor, Spectre also released a set of vehicle stowage. Designed to let you personalise and add detail to any form of hobby project, the stowage kit comes with a pile of things to weigh down your vehicle of choice. It also hopefully points to future plans from Spectre which are exciting for anyone with a pile of Humvees or objectives that need some extra detail to them.

So for your £7.50, what do you get? According to the site description:

  • 1 each of large, medium and small cooler/storage box
  • 1 x long gun Pelican case.
  • 2 x mid-size Pelican cases.
  • 1  x laptop Pelican case.
  • 2 x ammo boxes
  • 4 x NATO Jerry cans
  • 1 x SatCom Antenna
  • 2 x Sand Boards
  • 2 x Multi-Barrelled Smoke Grenade Dischargers (MBSGD)
  • 1 x AT-4
  • 4 x Light Antitank Weapon (LAW)
  • 4 x packs

The models arrive in a small plastic bag and, apart from a quick trim of some flash, are good to go. Most things are pretty obvious, the only sticking point being the ammo boxes – for a while I couldn’t work out the second one but it’s a smaller one (more designed for grenades) as opposed to the more common design.

For highlights, I really like the AT-4 and the LAW; they are a really simple way of adding some AT firepower to any squad while still looking really cool. The MBSGDs are also really clever with the perfect shape to fit under the bull bars of an SUV. There are also some nice variations in the rucksacks, giving you everything from a daysack up to something bergen sized. Finally, there are the pelican cases – not great for your militia forces but that long gun case might have a nasty surprise in it when on the back of an SF Pickup.

So what did I use them for? Well, the first order of the day was fixing a mistake I made way back in the early days of my collection. I picked up the SAS Recce Patrol support back when the Spectre webstore started (consisting of a LMG gunner and a marksman) and then didn’t use their bergens. This was so the figures could pull double duties with the SAS Low Profile team (the packs themselves ended up in the hands of several British squaddies). Having just stripped the early paint job, now seemed a great time to give them an upgrade.

The LMG gunner took the biggest pack while the marksman  got a smaller pack put a pair of LAWs ready to knock out tanks (and to cover the joins). The packs have two parts of the strap at the top and, although they don’t fit as well as the original, they do look pretty effective. Even better, they work well with the rest of the squad making them look as heavily laden as their buddies.

The other first use is adding some detail to my 2nd Razor. I cover this in the second Razor post but it went into place very easily, requiring almost no clean up while making it look like it latched over the top of the frame.

For the future? Some of the boxes will be going on my existing weapon teams to give them somewhere to store the ammo while others will be saved to really laden down a few upcoming releases. I’m also looking at getting the plasticard out and making some fillers for the truck bed covered in gear – perfect for supply vehicles or objectives.

In the end, I think this stowage pack is one of the best on the market. There are lots of bits you would end up using and its a worthwhile purchase for anyone wanting to add a little extra to their vehicles, soldiers or terrain. When combined with the ammo boxes already out, it will be easy to give everything the right level of clutter.

If you’re wanting some stowage for yourself, you can find it on the Spectre Webstore at https://www.spectreminiatures.com/products/stowage-alfa for £7.50