Wargaming Week 13/08/2018

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 6th through to the 12th of August.

BLOG STUFF

On a roll from the week before, last week’s post was taking a look the US Army range from Empress. This is a range that I’ve been building up as part of a platoon project, ready for larger games and complete with various support elements. It’s not 100% finished so you might be seeing a few more US Army guys being painted up.

NEWS

We have a new arrival this week in the news. Black Site Studio produce pre-painted MDF building kits and this week pre-orders have gone up for a small bank. This grabbed my attention, mainly due to the various materials used and the detail available. The layout should be familiar for those used to hearing about a broken down POS drill and I think this kit could be great for those whose modern gaming is more “small town USA” rather than the middle east.

The day is finally here! Tiny Terrain has released the figures from the first Chechnyan War kickstarter. Seven packs of Chechens and five packs of Russians gives you a selection of figures to pickup (although I have heard they can be a little RPG heavy) and all are in Igor’s great sculpting style. You can pick them up from the site at https://tinyterrainmodels.wordpress.com/ .

Spectre had another lapse in the OPSEC and have shown off a new preview of an upcoming range. Having already been glimpsed in the background of some previous preview images, they can now finally reveal that the upcoming figures are some updated Spetsnaz. These guys are based off more modern photos of the Russian SF in action abroard and are armed with various versions of the AK12 along with PKP MMGs. If you look closely you can see some really nice detail on the clothing and webbing kit. However, my favourite feature has to be the backpack ammo feed on one of the MMG users. I don’t know why but its just so dangerously sci-fi. Seeing as these guys are full sculpted (and in a reasonable number for a release) they will be coming pretty soon.

In unrelated news, guess who is rushing to finish the pile of Spectre Russians sat on his desk. Expect a range impressions in the next few weeks.

But that wasn’t all! This week also saw Spectre tease and then release a new Luxury SUV for their civilian vehicle range. This is a nice counterpart to the other SUVs that Spectre have sold, giving a different style that will make telling the good guys in SUVs apart from the bad guys in SUVs. I’m looking forward to picking one up the next time I order from them.

If you’re wanting your own, you can find it on the Spectre site.

Yep, it’s that time of year! The Great Wargaming Survey is back for 2018, letting WSS know just what the wargaming public want to play and be in the hobby doing. As always, you get a 15% discount from Karwansary once you finish the survey and you can also enter to possibly win some prizes. As you might expect, Ultramoderns is normally quite far down the chart so lets see if we can change that this year.

You can find the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8SBKF8L

PURCHASES

Nothing wargames related – much more focused on getting my way through the lead pile!

HOBBY

The big thing this week was finishing off the US Army figures. As you can see from the collection above, I have two full squads, a command element and a few support teams (such as the EOD guys or the spare fireteam. I’m tempted to pick up another pack so I can have the total of three squads (while pulling the squad leader out of the EOD team).

The next step for making this almost platoon size will be picking up another set of Strkyers to carry the rest of the platoon.

If you’ve been following the blog you know I’ve been busy with work reccently. However, I took Thursday night off – this was both to have some relaxation during a busy time but also to remind the local wargames club I’m still alive and still like rolling the old dice. This time, I managed to jump into a game of Frostgrave. We played it in 15mm (ish) and I had a whale of a time. There were wizards controlling bears, there were henchmen being flung through portals and there was some classic multiplayer shenanigans. Overall it seemed like a great little game – so maybe I need to grab some more magicians for the dungeon delving project. 

So what’s now on the workbench? Well the Russians have moved up the list but I’m also wanting to clear some table space. I have a pile of things I haven’t got round to basing and undercoating yet so I did some utility tasks. I even broke out some greenstuff to tweak the Empress US Sniper in Crye gear.

I’m still deciding on the post for Friday but it might be time for another part in the Building A Force series.


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

Range Impression: Empress US Army Infantry

When going back to do my Range Impression on the Empress SAS, I found myself delving into the release history of Empress. Which of course reminded me of their second release set, the US Army Infantry. Having just finished the Strykers, now seemed the perfect time to get the last couple of figures finished and take a look at this range.

The range of figures is designed to represent US Army Infantry around 2010. Weapons are M4s for most, with M249 SAWs and M203 UGLs to extend your firepower. As you’d expect, these are the usual Empress style, with four figures in a pack and mostly separate heads. The heads included in the packs are wearing ACH helmet (some with additional light units) with some also wearing eye protection. There are also a pack of heads with monocular NVGs if you want the alternative look for doing business after dark.

You may notice a few of these guys are not wearing their issue helmets and have instead have donned MICH and high cut helmets (sourced from the US Rangers collection). Now, I must admit the addition of these may be partially down to playing a lot of Modern Warfare 2; I really like the combination of kit and just had to add the variation to my force. It also makes it easier to pick out specific figures on the battlefield.

Painting wise, I went for the UCP look. The technique I ended up using was designed to be super quick  while still being effective at communicating the look, in particular of well used kit. The end result is not as crisp as it could be but (like most of my painting) I think does the job and gets them ready for the tabletop.


Team 1 shows off a fireteam on patrol. They have a good mix of guns, including a M4/M203, M249 SAW and even a M14-derived DMR. The pose are all great for troops at the start of an engagement or moving alongside a vehicle.

And then there is the flipping team leader who seems to have become entirely jaded with the concept of being in the middle of a tiny firefight and is instead enjoying a smoking break. I can see the point of including this figure in the pack (especially for those wanting to build dioramas) but he does look a little out of place in the battle. Even if I’m not a fan of him, he does fit in with the rest of his squad.

Team 2 is another fireteam. However these guys do not have the DMR backup but are instead posed as if they are moving under fire. There are also some nice details such as the pelvic plate on one of the figures.

The final fire team pack has the team engaging. The grenadier and rifleman are aiming down sights while the Automatic Rifleman and team leader are preparing to get into the fight. As with all the figures, there is a nice variation in terms of webbing gear based on the role.

Pack 4 gives you a few extra figures perfect for more command roles. These can be either used as attachments to to a squad (with one figure being the squad leader) or as a separate command element. The two riflemen could be either an officer or NCO while the two specialists (medic with kit bag and radio operator with aerial sticking up behind his head) are perfect for bring some force multipliers to the battlefield.

The first support pack is really designed for guys that are perfect for fitting into your squad. The AT rifleman (with M4 stashed on the ground) is just what’s needed for destroying light armour or wrecking enemy positions. The shooting DMR rifleman is a great replacement for the rifleman in a squad, especially if you need to reach out and touch the bad guys. Finally, the pack includes two figures (as well as belts of ammo) designed to form a M240 team when you need to create your base of fire for an assault.

As an aside, I decided to replace the AT4 with one from the Spectre vehicle stowage pack to make it look a little closer to other AT4 users in my collection. Having done the conversion, I’m not 100% sure it’s needed but it’s a relatively easy upgrade.

If the main support pack isn’t hard enough for you, then this pack really lets you go across the board and cause havoc before the enemy get into main combat range. The four figures are split into two teams – a marksman team with a M110 rifle (or something similar) for long range infantry work and a Javelin ATGM for blasting hard targets (or maybe a tank if one turns up)

A great addition with this pack is just how much kit is included to really add to the bases. Both sets include enough M4s for the crew to return fire with their small arms. I also really like discarded helmet for the Javelin gunner.

The last pack is a bit of special one. Perhaps inspired by a certain film, this three man pack gives you an EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) team. Two riflemen provide covering fire while the third figure is in his bomb suit ready for the long walk. I love this pack – it’s a great set of characters and is perfect for setting up a different style of game.

A great other use is if you only want to build a single squad. Two packs (chosen from team 1 – 3) and this EOD pack give you a full squad with one additional rifleman. Perfect for building on a budget.


If you are looking for US Army Infantry, this range is pretty good. Some equipment has changed (more people would probably be wearing kneepads and the helmets have been slightly tweaked) and you’ll need to be painting them in Multicam rather than UCP but they are still worth picking up. The US Army has been pretty prolific so would be perfect for anywhere from Eastern Europe to the sands of Iraq to the mountains of Afghanistan.

So what would I add? As with any regular forces, you can never have too many variations – another pack of infantry would be a neat addition and let you build up two squads using pack 1 – 3, the EOD pack and an additional one. The only other thing missing from this range (compared to the US Marines or the Brits) is a lack of heavy support weapons like the .50cal and MK19. That said, if you’re willing to work on it I’m sure you could do the conversion work with what is currently available.

If you’re wanting your own US Infantry force, you can pick them up from Empress here.

If you’d like some heavy metal to help out your US Army guys, you’re going to need some vehicle crew. I took a look at the dismounted US vehicle crew in a post last year.

Empress stocks several other ranges of US Infantry for different groups. If you’d prefer devil dogs and suppression through accuracy with the M27 (or maybe you just want massive 13 man squads), the USMC range is pretty comprehensive. If you prefer special operations, there are several small packs of US SOF teams (for both Army and Navy) as well as a comprehensive range of US Rangers. Expect to see articles on all of them soon as I work my way through the lead pile.

Wargaming Week 06/08/2018

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 30th of July through to the 5th of August.

BLOG STUFF

This week’s main post was taking a look at Empress’s Strykers, in both ICV and MGS versions. These guys have been sat undercoated on to-do list for over a year but I just hadn’t got round to doing the final touches to them. Overall I really like them and I’m already thinking about picking up a few more as I get ready for turning the US Army troops into a platoon sized force.

Now I just have to get the other pair of vehicle sat on my workbench finished off…

This week also saw the first post of Side Project 1, covering me building the fantasy soldiers that will be going into the dungeon. It’s been a really nice change building plastic model kits and I’m tempted to go back and build some more adventurers and bad guys once I have the first batch painted up. I also need to work out what I’m going to do for the bases as my usual method won’t look really suitable for dank caves underground.

Also hello to all the new people joining ChargeBlog for the first time! I’ve started increasing how many sites I publish to so more people can see what I’m working on. Hope you all enjoy the site, the Something for the Weekend category is full of feature posts.

NEWS

Miniature Building Authority, who ran the successful kickstarter earlier this year for LMTV and FMTV trucks, have shown off the first glimpse of their HEMMETT. These look pretty sizeable and will come with a good range of cargo types including gun truck. Plan is to release in September with pre-order soon. There isn’t a huge number of trucks available for 28mm wargaming so these are worth keeping an eye on.

Crooked Dice don’t appear on here all the time but when they do it’s normally in style. They have just done a massive release for their upcoming Apoclypse setting including lots of stuff for setting up your vehicles for the harsh wasteland. Most of it is a bit too wastelandy for most modern settings but the stowage packs look just perfect for creating your SF vehicles. I really like the Landy above so might take a look at picking some stuff up for less military forces in Bazistan.

After much teasing the Cold War US from Under Fire Miniatures are now out. Three of the five packs are avaliable right now with two more (ATGM team and platoon command) coming soon. These are Under Fire’s usual standard of sculpting and I’m frantically trying to work out how I can justify picking up a set. Maybe its time to work on Zaiweibo’s army? They are up on Under Fire’s site so go take a look.

White Dragon continue to keep teasing us with more new releases. This time, it’s the quad bikes! I saw the prototype for these back at Chillcon and I know a lot of people are very excited for them. The fact they are now in white resin means these are very close to release. Keep an eye on White Dragon Miniatures for future updates.


Spectre Miniatures are hard at work on some new stuff but they drop a photos of some really tooled up vehicles. We’ve seen a preview of one of these vehicles before (the Humvee mothership at the back) but it’s great to see the different chassis all modded up. Most of the items are recognisable from the current stowage pack but there are a few items we haven’t seen before like the Javelin tube and FLIR camera. Expect more news coming soon. If you want some more pictures, a few close ups have been released on the Spectre Facebook group.

PURCHASES

Nothing – seriously!

HOBBY

As you might expect, the main thing this week was finish the Strykers off. It took me a grand total of an evening’s work to finish them off from the undercoat of green, just painting up the black elements, adding metal detailing and then dust for the final effect.

I’ve been busy with work for most of this week (meaning also that I ended up missing my local show Claymore on Saturday) so the rest of my hobby time has been pretty limited. However, I did fit in a little bit of time to put another pair of Space Marines together and start work on finishing off the pile of US Army guys sat on my desk. These guys should be the subject of this week’s post thanks to the relatively simple paint scheme – expect another Range Impressions soon.


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

Impressions: Empress Stryker ICV and MGS

Playing as US force in Ultramodern tabletop wargaming is like being a kid with a box of toys. There are so many options that are available! On one side, you could be rolling around in technicals as SF advisers alongside local troops. Alternatively, you could break out the heavy metal and plonk the Bradleys and Abrams on the table. An interesting option is to roll out with a Stryker Brigade Combat Team and all the vehicles it includes.

 

If you are not aware of the Stryker, it’s an APC based off the Canadian LAV-III. Entering US service as part of a post-cold war rapid reaction force, it was designed to fill the gap between Humvees and Bradleys. Airportable yet armoured, the platform includes multiple variants to fulfil different combat roles. It’s first use in Iraq revealed some issues but also showed some advantages over other vehicles, leading to it continuing in service. As well as the Stryker BCTs, other American forces have used them; The US Army Rangers first used them for urban raids in Iraq but images and footage from Syria have shown them still in use, often alongside much lighter vehicles.

On The Tabletop

Of course, we’re here to look at the model version from Empress. Both vehicles are the usual metal and resin construction, with metal details fitting on top of large amount of resin. There isn’t a huge amount of construction to do but I have to mention the wheels. The back wheels fit into horizontal pegs rather solidly but the front four fit into struts that fit into holes on the underside of the vehicle. This can leave them a little delicate so there is a metal plate that fits across the vehicle and then has caps that sit on top of the struts for support.

As previously discussed, I am a cack handed fool and managed to snap the caps off on all of the metal plates while trying to bend them gently to fit. I ended up having to reconstruct the supports with plastic card. It’s not noticeable in gameplay but it’s definitely something to do very carefully when assembling.

There is a nice amount of detail on the vehicle, with cargo racks, jerry cans and tools all exposed on the side. The only thing that is missing, and is almost iconic on Stykers in action, is cage or SLAT armour for defeating RPGs. As much as this would be a nice addition to the kit, I can see the reason it wasn’t included.

Painting

When I first broke out the paint, I unsure about what colour to actually paint it. Most of my US vehicles are painted in tan. However, it’s very hard to find pictures of tan painted Strykers in action. Most are instead are a particular shade of green with dust on top, presumably to save having to repaint the rapid reaction vehicles as they move from theatre to theatre. I ended up picking up a can of Tamiya’s NATO Green (TS-61) for the base colour. I then decided to hide most of the green under some tan drybrushing to really give it the dusty look.

I’m not 100% on the final look (I might have overdone it a bit) but I prefer the look over the basic green. This was also a really quick way of painting them up, making it ridiculous that it took me over a year to finish them.

Now we’ve gone over the common features, lets look at the specifics of each vehicle:

Strkyer ICV

The ICV (or Infantry Carrier Vehicle) is the main vehicle in the family, performing the role of APC. Being able to carry a full 9 man infantry squad, the ICV can support the troops after they have disembarked thanks to it’s remote weapon system on top. Strykers have been seen using MK19s, M240s and M2 HMGs but Empress only sells a version with the classic Ma Deuce. As well as the .50cal, the weapon system also include smoke grenade launchers.

Aside from the weapon system, the main features of this vehicle (compared to the other variant) is the rear ramp and door, as well as the positioning of jerry can on the rear of the vehicle.

Stryker MGS

While the ICV is carrying troops, the MGS is your mobile fire support. Although mounting a tank cannon it is not designed to hunt down and take out enemy tanks – that’s what the ATGM carrier is for. Instead the 105mm gun (complete with autoloader) is designed to provide direct fire support to accompanying troops, while sharing the same maintenance requirements and portability as the rest of the BCT. The MGS also has a co-ax M240 and a commander M2, meaning it has basically the same weapon systems as an early M1 Abrams but on a much less protected chassis. To quote a US Army soldier, “Some commanders look at the MGS as a tank,” he says. “I cannot stress enough that it is not a tank; it is a support vehicle with some tank-related features.”

As a wargamer though, this thing is fantastic. Assuming your mission writer has allowed you to do it, the MGS gives you a handy tool when it comes to engaging enemy positions. A 105mm tank gun is plenty powerful when engaging enemy light vehicles and buildings. If you play Skirmish Sangin for example, a tank gun has a huge blast area and does the max damage that game supports. If your rules support it, the MGS can also fire canister rounds when you need to take out enemy infantry. It’s presence is also a nice hit to your opponent’s morale – like any vehicle mounting a tank gun, it does draw the opponent’s focus. Just be glad tiny 28mm soldiers don’t complain about the lack of air conditioning.


Comparison

Of course we can’t look at these vehicles without breaking out the comparison photos:

First up, we have the two vehicles plus reference Empress US Army figures. As you can see, the two variants are incredibly similar seeing as they share the same chassis. The MGS’s turret though is a major height addition.

Looking at the lighter vehicles, you can see the Styker is on the larger size (as you would expect from a vehicle carrying 9 fully equipped soldiers). The other vehicles (all from Spectre) do still have their advantages – the smaller sizes means they can get to places the armoured box can’t.

Going up to the heavy wheeled vehicles you can see the Stryker next to a similar Russian vehicle (although the BTR-80A is armed with an autocannon and carries less soldiers). You can see the BTR has a lower profile compared to the American vehicle. Also I’m banning the M-ATV from future comparisons – it’s just ridiculously big.

Finally we have the big boys. The MGS is a taller vehicle than the Challenger 2 but you can see it’s a smaller footprint (as well as being lighter). In real life, the difference between these platforms is bigger than on the tabletop – most wargamers don’t have to handle the concept of logistics, other than making sure the vehicle gets to the tabletop in one piece.


Conclusion

The Stryker is another one of the iconic GWOT vehicles – something that we hadn’t seen in the Cold War but soon became a star of the evening news. Like most things, it has had it’s problems but they have been improved and tweaked to make it a more effective combat vehicle. While doing my research for this, I kept finding comments about how the Strykers were pretty resistant to being destroyed, more often being able to be recovered and repaired while protecting it’s crew.

The Empress models give a nice balance between detail and simplicity. Assembly was incredibly quick and (once I actually got down to it) painting didn’t take very long. They also look fantastic, much meaner on the tabletop than a column of Humvees.

If you’re wanting your own Strykers, you can pick them up from Empress for a pretty reasonable price. If you’re wanting some of the more recent variants that are being experimented with (such as one mounting a 30mm cannon), you might want to keep your eyes on Wargaming Week over the next few months.


Of course, I really can’t finish the post without bringing up one of the incredible conversions I’ve seen using the Empress vehicle as a base.

Based on Strykers spotted in use in Syria, this one has had some serious plasticard magic done it (WIP photos are on the instagram). With extra weapons and stowage equipped, this vehicle looks spot on!

Project Dungeon Crawl – Assembling the Cast

Do not adjust your set, you’re about to look at a post that may not quite match with what you normally come to the blog for. But don’t worry, we’ll be back in the modern-day on Friday.

As I’ve said before, modern wargaming is still my favourite thing. But you know, maybe it’s time for a side project or two. For a while I’ve wanted to do something Fantasy related. I’ve also wanted something that is relatively quick to play and easy to pick up. I bought Open Combat earlier this year and after reading it (and talking to the author at Chillcon) it seemed perfect to act as a base. However, it’s not a ChargeBlog project until I break out the rule writing and there is a specific type of game I’ve wanted to run:

Dungeon Crawling

As such ,Project Dungeon Crawl is made out of three parts:

  1. A set of rules designed to tie games of Open Combat together, let players create an adventuring party and the generate the dungeons with ease.
  2. Dungeon Tiles – after all you’re going to need somewhere to fight through
  3. Some figures suitable for dungeon delving

We’ll look at the first two parts in future posts but today we’re going to focus on building the troops. Before deciding what I wanted to buy, I had to think about the look I was going for. The plan was for some dirty grimey low fantasy, with the dungeon delvers being the city watch fighting through the sewers and caverns against the thieves and cultists that inhabit them. The Frostgrave Soldiers box seemed ideal for my purposes based on pictures of the sprue and the examples I’ve seen produced from it.

After breaking out the plastic glue (last seen building crashed C130s) and sitting down with a box of sprues, it was time to get building.

Soldiers

The Frostgrave Soldier box comes with four identical frames of various plastic pieces. The max number of figures you can build from each sprue is limited by the bodies included on each one, giving you 5 figures per sprue giving you 20 in the box. The rest of the frame is packed full of items – there is a nice variety of weapons you’d want in an adventuring party as well as plenty of tools and kit to really make them look like a group carrying all the kit needed to get past all the various traps you may meet. I really like the lantern – perfect for going through dark tunnels. One comment i was about to make was in regards to the relatively few left handed weapons (other than a small knife); however I then realised that with only a little extra work you could easily use some of the clenched left hands after clipping the weapons apart.

The box doesn’t include an exact construction guide but most of the bits that are multi part (such as the bows) are located close to each other to make things easier. The plastic is pretty tough meaning that there was very little damage to the pieces when clipping them from the frame. Overall, it’s a great frame to work with. I will say that after finishing a box I have a literally pile of arms, heads and more waiting to be used – all I need is some more bodies and bases.

Anyway enough technical stuff, lets take a look at what I’ve made so far. These are all WIP – they are not quite ready for painting as I might go back and add a few other items and do the last bits of cleanup.

Group 1 was the very first figures I made once the box arrive. The idea for these is to represent the City Watch while looking at the options. From left to right we have:

  1. The technically minded crossbow wielding adventurer, laden down with bolts and kit needed for dismantling traps (or reassembling them)
  2. The hardened tunnel fighter with sword, sword knife and armed helm to jump into battle in the darkness
  3. The classic “axe and board” guard ready in a defensive pose
  4. The grizzled watch veteran, lighting the way but ready to switch to his great sword when needed
  5. The foppish bowman, probably more used to spending his time above ground, pointing out the cultist/man sized rats climbing out of the sewers.

Group 2 was part . Again from left to right:

  1. Another laden down crossbowman – unsure if it’s supplies needed for dungeon delving for just space for ill gotten loot.
  2. A Sword and Board guard in full effect ready to rush into battle.
  3. Sven – doesn’t take kindly if asked about being a northman in the tavern. The combination of great axe and helmet just sold me on the idea of viking looking big man.
  4. “Who goes there” in plastic form. Probably more useful as a tavern keeper hearing noises after closing or a concerned citizen.
  5. The most accurate of dungeon adventurers – torch in one hand, sword in the other, distinct look of unease on his face as he shuffles into the darkness.

Of course, after building the first group of soldiers I realised that it might be time to pick up some of the other plastic kits so I could do some mixing and matching. After finding the sprues available individually on eBay, I got some ordered and then picked up some bases and heroes from Northstar.

Cultists

The cultists frame follows the same basic idea as the soldiers sprue – 5 bodies and a pile of accessories. As well as equipment with a different style to it, the spure has some cool additions to theme some of your characters. There are several skeletal and zombie parts (including heads and arms) so you could easily assemble undead or reanimated versions of your goons if a necromancer is in play. I really like the heads – the hooded versions come in plenty of styles while the unmasked sets are packed full fo character. This sprue had a few more items that were designed to replace the hands of other arms so having a sharp scapel was useful. There are also a few sets of belt kit with bits of bone and mysterious bottles that just sell the point of this pack.

After having built the figures you see below, I can easily see myself going back and building more cultists when the situation demands a horde of robed goons.

Using just the cultists sprue, I threw together these rather unsavoury looking chaps. As I theme I wanted to make these guys look very cult-y so it was pointed caps for everyone. From left to right:

  1. I was inspired by the zombie parts to add them to a few of the cultists, maybe showing that following a death cult is a bad idea. Not sure the ingame effect but I’m sure pointing a rotten hand towards people might not be the most inspiring sight
  2. This guy is similar to the first although with the opposite hand beginning to decay. I also used the knife arm from the soldier pack to give him a weapon.
  3. The Heavy for the cult, giant maul in hand
  4. Some sort of jailor or warden for the cult, with spear for poking captives and a chain for shaking threateningly at people
  5. A mainline cultists with sickle and knife. I modified the knife hand to adjust the pose, making it look a but more dynamic

Of course the point of buying more spures was to start combing parts. The idea behind these was to be able to use them in multiple roles, either as other cult members, criminals or members of the watch (assuming they have reached the bottom of the barrel for new recruits). The heads from the cultists sprue (including the zombie ones) really give these guys a very different feel to the normal soldiers. From left to right:

  1. A criminal ready for tunnel fighting with axe in one hand, knife in the other and a bag of swag on his back
  2. I really love the later but this guy is interesting due to the conversion work. After using the top of a two-handed axe on character number 5, I used the bottom end of it and paired it with the sword held by the skeleton on the cultists frame. The chipped blade gives him a slightly different feel to the other lantern holders above. Also the gritted long teeth and hood just makes him look like a real bastard.
  3. Zombie head means this guy isn’t a great looker but I really like the setup. Combing the cultist curved sword and shield together with the soldier body, makes him look like a different breed of soldier. Maybe a specialised hunter journeying into the dark on the path for revenge.
  4. The other zombie headed soldier is combined with the pair of arms that make the great sword ready to swing. Adding some pouches to make this chap look a bit more well equipped and I think we’ve found a suitable grim-looking monster slayer.
  5. The pointing hand is challenge due to the lack of left-handed weapons. However, but using the two-handed axe top and an open grip, I was able to assemble this guy. He also has a coil of rope and a club on his back, making him a well prepared adventurer. Perhaps he is pointing out a door that needs cleaving open.

Barbarians

As you might have guessed the barbarian sprue also matches the idea of the soldier spure with five suitable attired bodies and then plenty of options for them. This entire spure screams “Big gits with big axes and big beards” from the posing on the bodies to the focus on axes and hammers. As with the cultists, there is a similar selection of weapons to the original soldiers spure but with a very different feel to it. There are also plenty of knives, axes and other little items to include on your figures. In fact, between the five barbarians and the five semi-barbarians I actually used up everything off this set.

First up we have the full-blooded angry northmen and their furry cloaks to look at. From left to right:

  1. Come on. That head, big ass axe, dynamic pose? How could I not make a not-Conan?
  2. I really had fun building this old archer, covering him in little addons like his quiver but also some knives for when things get close. I can see him being useful as a scout like character.
  3. A more restrained warrior in a threatening pose ready for combat to begin.
  4. Another older looking figure, this time using the spear. Perhaps the brother to number 2, helping him with the hunt?
  5. Big hammer, flowing cloak, armoured helm. I can see this guy being the big guy the party needs to take out the dungeon.

Like with the cultists, I swiftly got to work mixing bits. I think this combination of soldier body and barbarian heads works really well – it makes them still look like part of the civilised group but still wild like their brothers outside the city. From left to right:

  1. In a charging pose, this berserker has a sword in one hand and a throwing axe glued to the other. I trimmed the bottom of it off so it would fit properly in the hand.
  2. Even northmen need a sword and board, although this one is using a bit hammer instead
  3. Even the vikings get a crossbowman. I like the unbearded head – a nice change from the beard patrol.
  4. A bit of conversion work here with adding a torch to the clenched fist. It hasn’t glued 100% straight so I might go back and tweak. This guy has a knife out but additionally has a knife on his back and an axe hanging from his belt.
  5. This final soldier has gone all in on carrying items with a sack over his shoulder and a bag hanging from his waist. Combined with the dual wielding, he is obviously very prepared for adventure.

Alongside the bases I ordered from Northstar, I realised that I needed a few other items to make the order sensible (and not just postage). Thinking more about my plans for what dungeon crawling might eventually entail (and delving into the metal figures in Northstar’s Frostgrave range) I decided that I should get a few villains for the piece. The plan is that the barbarians and cultists represent two different threats to the city above and that conducting dungeon raids would eventually reveal their plots. As such, I’m sure the groups will need some characters to get involved – perhaps to turn up and get rid of them meddling kids.

For the cultists I picked up the Lich and their apprentice. I love the sculpting on these figures, with the Lich looking terrifying and the book wielding side kick like the slimy weasel that escapes from the heroes at every turn. Open Combat doesn’t currently have a magic system other than counting certain abilities as spells (although a supplement is coming to fill this) but I have a few ideas on how to make encountering either of these two a bad idea for your party. For the barbarians, I went for bigger badder beardier. I went the Barbarian Knight and Templar set. The hammer equipped chap will probably be the chieftain planning to take over the town while the horned helmet chap work great as his second in command.


So there we are, the first step is taken. I am a massive fan of the Frostgrave range so far and it’s very hard to avoid picking up more of their figures to fill in the rosters. I’m also quite excited for the female adventurers coming soon and will probably take a look once they are released.

The plan for the next few weeks of side project is to start getting these figures painted up. I would normally base with sand, but I think more of a stone/dirt colour for these guys. I’m also going to do some more writing work, nailing down the back story and getting the rules for mission and dungeon generation done. And I probably need to get a few games of Open Combat in to get some more play time with the rules.

Wargaming Week 30/07/2018

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 23rd through to the 29th of July.

BLOG STUFF

July’s month of Range Impressions is over with one last post looking at the Bundswehr from Empress. Now technically this is an impressions piece but shush, it’s looking at plenty of figures so it counts. I am so glad I got these done – they have been sat on the workbench partially painted for a while but I just had to push myself to actually put some time aside to get ready to do the camo. Having my holiday week off really helped refresh my joy of painting.

It’s been a while since I last reminded everyone of various links to other ChargeBlog things. I’m relatively active on various platforms so often you’ll see WIP elsewhere that you might not see here.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChargeDog
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/chargeblog/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ChargeBlog/

Lead Adventure Threads:
Modern: http://leadadventureforum.com/index.php?topic=97949.0
Fantasy: http://leadadventureforum.com/index.php?topic=110960.0

NEWS

White Dragon Miniatures are now showing off their next set of releases – some Taliban OPFOR for your Brits to fight. I quite like the look of these – there is some nice variety in the figures in terms of headgear and clothing. I’m looking forward to seeing them come out.

Tiny Terrain also some news promising releases coming soon! It’s finally time for the figures that were part of the Chechen War kickstarter (sculpted by Igor) to be available to the general public. Keep an eye on their facebook page and website for when they go live.

Finally, by the time you read this the LAV-III pre-order from Full Battle Rattle will be over. Standby for final update soon.

PURCHASES

I bought something for side project 2. Kill Team fever is in full effect. I grabbed a box of Intercessors and the Deathwatch details pack to get my kit started. I also grabbed the digital version of the rules and spent Saturday morning in bed reading up on it.

HOBBY

Obviously the main thing this week was getting the Germans finished off. I actually covered most of the painting in the post itself so time to talk about other things.

Wait these aren’t modern guys. I got all of my Frostgrave soldiers built up and ready to talk about. If you look closely you can see I had a good time using bits from the Cultists and Barbarians frames on the soldier bodies. More details in a post on Side-Project Wednesday

No, hang on these aren’t modern either. On a roll from the plastic glue, I ended up assembling a chunk of the box of Intercessors. These marines are definitely a bit more involved than the old Space Marines but look so much better. Except a post coming soon about these guys and Kill Team.

I also got some paint onto the Strykers that have been sat on my desk for over a year. It would be nice to get these things ready soon so when I get back to wargaming I can get an armoured convoy out.


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

Impressions: Empress Bundeswehr

Empress releasing a new range in their modern collection is a pretty major event, especially when it introduces something entirely brand new. Going for the all in approach, a new range gives you plenty of toys to get ready for the tabletop. Earlier this year, just before Salute, they finally released one of their most anticipated ranges. First teased at the end of the Empress Kickstarter back in July 2013, the German Bundeswehr is now available from their website.

These Germans are also not your standard 2000’s era Afghan ground pounder (if you’re wanting them, Eureka have a suitable range). Instead, Empress has gone with these incredibly modern looking guys equipped with the IdZ system, a product of the German Future Soldier program. You can see this throughout their gear, from the Ops core helmets with vision systems to various details on the G36s (such as new stocks, optics and laser units). As you’d expect, all the figures in the range are the usual Empress quality and sculpting style. The figures do come with detachable heads of varying styles (no vision system, NVGs and heads up displays) and separate heads are available if you want to equip all your soldiers with the same type.

Empress notes on its website that the packs give you 6 man fire-teams by combining Pack 1 and either Pack 2/Pack 3. This number roughly matches up to dismounts for the Puma IFV but there is nothing to stop them represent foot troops or those using other German Army vehicles.

Pack 1

The first pack is your command and support pack. This has two Team Leaders (armed with the G36) and two Light Machine Gunners (equipped with the new MG4). Much like the other two packs, the figures are split into advancing and engaging poses. The pack does include one of my wargaming pet peeves (a prone figure not part of a support weapons team) but thanks to the MG4’s short length you can just about fit him on a standard size base. On the other hand, it’s rather cool to see one of the team leaders holding an optical viewer up to his eye, showing him taking advantage of the IdZ system.

Pack 2

The first fire team is posed advancing on patrol, with weapons held relatively low. The team has a selection of weapons, including a Panzerfaust 3 AT weapon (complete with optic) and UGL. Every soldier also has a G36, with an optical sights and lasers.

Pack 3

Fire Team 2 is posed engaging (or preparing to engage) the enemy. Weapon loadout is the same as Pack 2, except that the AT gunner in this squad is equipped with an MP7 SMG rather than a full-sized assault rifle.

Pack 4

Every new range needs support packs and the first of them gives the some anti-armour/anti-bunker support in the form of the MILAN ATGM. It’s a nice change from the Javelin featured in many of Empress’s other forces. It’s also nice that the pack includes a MP7 for the assistant to use (great for systems where weapon teams can still engage with personal weapons). The Milan also

I had a bit of difficulty trying to get the crew figures to line up properly on the launcher. Eventually, I unfortunately managed to break the legs off the tripod so it’s now operating in an incredibly low profile mode (with one of the gunners covering up the most damaged leg). I’d recommend taking your time assembling it, rather than trying to rush it, and to dry fit all the parts.

Pack 5

In a fantastic case of “Something Old, Something New”, the last pack in the range gives you a three-man MG3 team, with the venerable weapon design on a tripod many WW2 players will quickly recognise. This Feldlafette tripod actually lets the team fire the gun from the prone position thanks to the optical periscope system. The pack comes with three figures – the team leader is directing the team (and could be used as part of a foot patrol), the assistant is feeding the belt of ammo (while carrying a MP7) while the gunner is adjusting the elevation of the tripod. I had a bit of fun trying to fit the team on my standard weapon team base, leading to the unusual positions you see above.

As with the MILAN I found this a little fiddly to assemble. I’d really recommend taking your time assembling it, especially if you want to prevent it being slightly tilted.

Painting

This is my first time painting Germans so I had to work out how on earth to paint their camo up. Seeing as I play mostly in desert settings, I went look for how best to paint Tropentarn. Luckily, Eureka has a guide (including Vallejo colours) for both temperate and desert flecktarn. In order to reduce complexity, and seeing as I end all my paint jobs with a copious amount of Agrax Earthshade, I decided to tweak it slightly:

Base Colour: Vallejo Game Colour 34 Bone white
Green: Vallejo Model Colour 894 Cam Olive Green
Brown: Vallejo Model Colour 818 Red Leather

The process was base colour, large dots of Green and Brown and then cover up slightly with smaller dots of the base colour. This give the impression of the camo without it being dominated by the pattern. I’m also not sure the colours are 100% correct but it provides the right look (as well as being different from any of the other nations I’ve painted so far.

Conclusion

Overall this is a pretty different release. It’s a strange blend of old and new, combining old kit like the MILAN and MG3 with the ultramodern elements of future soldier program. It’s great to get some ultramodern Germans, providing an alternative to the older Eureka figures. It also gives the Empress Leopard 2 some dismounts to escort it. It’s also great to have some G36 equipped bodies. These could be a great jumping off point for some conversion work as a whole host of nations use the G36.

Aside from my usual comments about my cack handed lack of fine motor functions in regards to the finely detailed Empress support weapons, my only other comment is that a pack of additional patrol suitable support weapons would have been a nice addition to the range. A pair of guys with the G28 DMR or G22 rifle would be handy for giving some long-range punch while a version of the MG3 or the new MG5 MMG on the move would give some additional fire support for a patrol. We’ll have to keep an eye on the future to see what Empress get up to.

If you want to pick up your own German Infantry for fighting the Russians or training the ANP in Afghanistan, you can find them on the Empress website.

Wargaming Week 23/07/2018

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 16th through to the 22nd of July.

BLOG STUFF

This week’s post was a Range Impression of Eureka’s excellent ANP sets. I’ve really liked using these guys on the field, both for their look but also for the different opportunities they provide for a BLUFOR player. Going back and looking at these older ranges is really making me want to break them back out and write a few scenarios for them, ready for when I get a chance to hit the gaming board again.

Now I just have to finish painting the subject of Friday’s post…

NEWS

 

The Spectre preview train is a-rolling and they are showing off some more scenery options. And in the case of these walls, finally! Those walls were previewed last year at the Spectre event and I’ve been quite looking forward to them – chest high cover is pretty much vital for most battlefields so having some pre-made stuff is great. As well as the walls there also appears to be some stacks of boxes and supplies that seem interesting. More news when these get released and then I can finally get round to decorating my Knights of Dice buildings by adding some extra cover.

Spectre also surprised us this week with another release! This time we’re looking at the extended version of the Razor, seating four “internally”(as much as you can be on this vehicle) while still leaving the rear cargo bay free for storing kit and munitions. The kit uses the same upgrades and crew as the original vehicle (which I looked at back in my impressions) but there will be some additional crew and stowage options coming soon to take advantage of the change in setup.

Finally we’ve got a small update on the LAV-III from Full Battle Rattle Miniatures. The pre-order program is going to be finishing off at the end of the month and they are not quite at the goal they need to guarantee production. The end goal is the 29th of July – if they have reached the target number of vehicles production will begin, if not refunds will be going out. I’m really hoping they get the numbers but if not, I’ll still be picking up some Canadians to take a look at. Fingers crossed they work something out.

PURCHASES

I may have bought some more stuff for Dungeon Crawling. We’ll take a look at that next week.

HOBBY

Bases! Finally all of my odd sized purchases from Salute are finally on MDF bases. It only took them three and a bit months but they are one step closer to being ready for the tabletop. I’m going to sit down at somepoint and get everything that is waiting to be undercoated done. I’m quite excited about getting the bikes and animals ready for the table top – it should hopefully make missions involving the local population a bit more interesting.

I also managed to order the wrong bases sizes so for the next 40 or so guys they are going to be on slightly bigger bases than everyone else. But no one is going to notice, right?

Look, fantasy figures! The Frostgrave Soldiers box arrived and I eagerly jumped in with plastic glue and clippers. So far I’ve built half the figures from the box but, after seeing how modular they are, decided to pick up a sprue for the barbarians and cultists and get to work doing some hybrids. As such, construction has stopped until they arrive. However my greater concern is seeing how many bits are left over on each sprue after using the bodies. I’m gonna need a bigger bits box.

Also the painting of Germans has continued. I’ve gone back over the first colours and made sure it’s neat before getting into the camo on all figures BUT I managed to sit down and finish off the first squad. I’ll be going over the paint job in the post but it’s definitely one I wasn’t happy with until the final stage. More details on Friday!


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