Plausible Deniability – News

What’s this? A new post on a Tuesday evening? That’s not on the schedule!

The extra post is for one reason – Plausible Deniability (The new book for Skirmish Sangin I’ve been working on for about a year) has gone to the printers. We don’t want to put an exact date on it but it’s on the final approach to being available to the general public.

I’ll be very vocal when it comes out, but it may be worth looking at the Skirmish Sangin blog and facebook pages for updates. I’m incredibly excited to see it become a physical object and available for everyone to buy and start playing with.

Wargaming Week 25/09/2017

Let’s start, covering the 18th through to the 24th.

BLOG STUFF

This week’s post was looking at how my demo board is going! The last time I posted about it was back in May where the boards were still mostly wood and the plane was in the box. Now the boards have been played on, the model kits has been assembled and then brutally cut to pieces, and the people have actually enjoyed themselves while playing it!

GAMING

Nothing at SESWC (I was too busy having a break from drybrushing) but on Sunday I woke up at 8am, got in the car and drove over to Falkirk to run some test games of my demo scenario. It went really well – everyone seemed to enjoy playing it, the terrain didn’t fall to pieces with seconds and I’m super happy with how it looks all setup. Friday’s post will cover more about it, including what I think worked well and what I think needs adjustment. Also it’s going to include two small battle reports

PURCHASES

Photo from Spectre Miniatures

So while I was busy getting running wargames, Spectre brought out a new set of releases! It was the stuff they had shown at Colours (female operators, Russian with LAW and an insurgent with a stinger) plus a squad of highly trained insurgents in a kill team. We had seen a greens preview of them at Cardiff but painted up they look awesome.

I’m really excited about these guys – as well as giving an edge to the insurgents, the right paint job would set them up for a whole host of roles. My plan? Desert 3 colour and desert MARPAT so these guys are ready to be some SF in Bazistan. Maybe they are Bazi, maybe they are working for the Iranians. Who can say! Either way, I’m really looking forward to getting them painted. Impressions coming soon!

HOBBY

Most of my hobby progress was getting the demo board ready for 100 Years of War. In particular, this week say lots of drybrushing and lots of spray painting.

At the same time, I did manage to do some prep work – now almost at a point where all my figures are at least undercoated. I also got the Tiny Terrain figures assembled, all ready for painting next week. I’ll admit, I have thoughts on them already.


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

Demo Games Planning: Part 4 – Final Approach

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

THE PLAN

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

THE SCENARIO

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Operation Dragon’s Hoard

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

 

THE BASE

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

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

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

THE CENTRE PIECE

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

And then this happened after using a razor saw on it

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

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

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

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

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

THE SCENERY

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

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

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

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

THE GAME

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


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

 

Wargaming Week 18/09/2017

Let’s start, covering the 11th through to the 17th.

BLOG STUFF

My post on REDvector’s buildings went up! I was a little ashamed of how long it took me to review these buildings seeing as I liked them a lot but it was just finding the time to write the post up.

This week’s post will be an update on the demo board. It should be mostly done by Friday morning but there might be a few WIP pieces. After all, it’s not a deadline until you work right up to it!

GAMING

No gaming still busy building demo board.

PURCHASES

Apart from some more filler and sand, nothing of great interest. I have my eye on Spectre’s upcoming releases but that’s it. Also the “To be painted” pile is a lot bigger than it really should be.

HOBBY

Not much to talk about other than terrain building and prep for the demo game. Lots of details about that coming in Friday’s post.

However, what I can talk about is the cool character sheets I picked up for use in my demo game. Tiny Terrain inspired me to do this style. I tweaked the layout a little bit and then had to go borrow a camera off a friend to be able to take the snaps. The plan eventually is to document all of my troops with pre-rolled stats to make running games even easier.


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

Impressions: REDvectors’s MDF Buildings

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Wargaming Week 11/09/2017

Let’s start, covering the 3rd through to the 11th of September

BLOG STUFF

Last weeks post was covering the completed SF Technicals. As I said in the post, this was really a nice self-contained project. Just a chance to focus on building some cool vehicles and a selection of gear, made easier via Spectre’s great range of stuff.

As much fun as I had doing extra posts every other week in August, I don’t think I’m going to carry on doing it in September. Between work and other hobby projects, I’m running out of time in the week. It makes more sense to do fewer posts but keep up the quality. That said, there are a few occasions where a Wednesday post might appear but it won’t be a regular occurrence.

There is also some more exciting news on Skirmish Sangin stuff coming soon, but it’s not quite ready to be talked about yet.

GAMING

Nothing this week. Ended up looking at some more scenario writing including getting ready for the demo game. I rolled up so many characters this weekend.

PURCHASES

A few things this week.

  • Models for a game at the end of October turned up. Unfortunately one was missing most of his arm so I had to talk to the chaps at Warlord about getting a missing part
  • Ordered a truck for the demo game, the Rubicon models Studebaker. Turned out to be way too small which is a pain.
  • Pre-ordered Tiny Terrain’s new models. The complete set should be a useful SWAT team, especially as they have all the cutting tools you could ever want.

HOBBY

Apart from the Technicals? Nothing much – I’ve been working on the board but that will be covered soon once it’s almost done. More details coming soon!

 


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

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.

Wargaming Week 04/09/2017

Let’s start, covering the 28th of August through to the 3rd of September.

BLOG STUFF

Two actual posts this week – a look at Empress’s releases and a battle report from Thursday’s game. Both posts were great fun to work on – the rush to speed paint figures in time for a deadline and then the fun retelling of a game.

As a head’s up, we’re approaching the run in to my first demo game. As such, I’m going to be writing shorter posts for the next month or two. The timetable will be kept but there will be less battle reports as I spend all my time frantically getting stuff finished.

GAMING

Thursday’s game was a load of fun. I was really glad with the end result – a proper ambush rather than just a minor speed bump for the BLUFOR guys. One of the things I’m enjoying about building my forces up is just how visually impressive everything is getting. We had multiple people walking over to admire the board. I guess a big part of it was down to Jack’s simple but effective buildings but the technicals also draw the eye.

PURCHASES

Nothing ready to show but I’m starting work on a few projects. One is secret for now but it should be out sometime close to the end of October. It’s a little spooky but still relating to modern gaming.

The other is some new rulesets to take a look at before November as part of the second installment of the Modern Wargaming Comparison. The first one to arrive is the Winter of 79 rules. From a  quick flick through it seems to have some really cool ideas due to it’s focus on this specific period. Other rulesets are coming soon!

There are also a few more things coming for the demo board. More details in the next game update.

HOBBY

This week was a mad rush to get the Empress figures done. Overall though it was a simple job but just required some time. In part this was due to the choice of 3 colour desert; It’s a really simple camo to paint and so I hammered through the squad of 8 very quickly. Additionally, I was very happy with my minor green stuff job on the reporter, with the nose now looking a bit more present.

As for the game on thursday it was a much quicker job. Rather than having to paint soldiers and vehicles, all I had to do was paint one VIP (ready to be the aide), fix a figure’s face and then paint the base of the remaining technical weapons.

The weekend’s hobby work was split between finishing off the SF technicals to be ready for their prime time showing on Friday and working more on my demo game. The board has now been drybrushed so the next step is to get all the scenery on top of it ready. Such as the giant plane.


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