Wargaming Week 15/10/2018

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 8th through to the 14th of October.

BLOG STUFF

This week’s post was taking a look at Spectre’s S.W.A.T. team! These guys were fun to paint and I’m really happy with the final result. Now I just have to get them operating.

NEWS

First up, Radio DishDash (who for disclosure I should say I worked with on Plausible Deniability) have announced their next Kickstarter. Ultracombat is going to bring a new game (separate from Skirmish Sangin) to the market, as well as a range of vehicles and figures for it. Going off the description on the forum, this is going to basically be what Platoon+ was aiming for but with a different gameplay system closer to the upcoming WW2 game. I’m really excited for it – as someone who loves Skirmish Sangin, it’s going to great to see their take on a Platoon level game.

More news from Spectre Towers about their partnership with Black Powder Red Earth. As you can see, they are really making sure the gear is correct to the comics, including this heavily modified M4 with plenty of BCM kit. From the custom stock to the offset T1, this matches up to one of the guns that appears frequently in the comics. Based on this, I’m looking forward to seeing the actual figures even more.

PURCHASES

Nothing!

HOBBY

So as you may guess, this week was really about just pushing the SWAT guys over the finish line. I’m still super busy with work (and my free time currently being used on other things) so honestly, the whole hobby thing has slowed down. Next on my desk is either going to be the buildings I’ve worked on or possibly the Tier 1 Operators that are partially painted.


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

Impressions: Spectre S.W.A.T.

One thing that’s great about wargaming is just how broad you can be. From 54mm games where players control single figures, all the way down to tiny scales where you are basically playing with painted pins to represent your armies of soldiers, there is something for everyone. And even within relatively niche periods, such as Ultramodern wargaming, there can many different settings that let you play out the whole breadth of modern-day gunfighting.

One setting that Spectre provides for is the modern day cops and robbers, thanks to their range of both criminals and armed police. These are ideal for anyone interested in this setting and today, we’re going to take a look at their SWAT team.

The Spectre SWAT range at the moment consists of 6 figures. All of them are geared up, based on very latest kit US police departments are issuing. Every officer has body armour, FAST helmets, eye protection and more kit on them, including their trusty sidearm. The uniforms are a mixture, but there are plenty of trousers with built in kneepads to show the operators among the bunch. All of the figures are posed aiming or at the low ready, perfect for stacking up on each other.

The differences come with their equipment. The bulk of the force is armed with AR15 pattern rifles, covered in rails and mounting a selection of accessories. Some figures have magnifiers behind their red dots, while others are just using the EoTechs. 

The other two officers are your specialists, ideal for winning in a close-quarters firefight. One is carrying an MPX SMG, great for when you need manoeuvrability in tight spaces. The other carries a KSG shotgun, perfect for breaching and clearing. Both of these guns also have red dots, ideal for actions where close quarters combat is expected.

So, let’s talk about how I intend to use them. I have to admit, my focus when wargaming is really military or SF operations in MENA and Africa – partially because I have the terrain and figures for it and partially because that style of action is more interesting than drug cartels and police actions to me. So, how best to use these guys in a more militarised setting?

Well, the figures are definitely well equipped but are not quite as well armed as the Task Force Operator figures – these guys have standard M4s rather the 416s of their better funded/trained brothers. This means that the SWAT range is ideal if you need some local SF figures with western style equipment – similar to your main operators but still visually distinctive.

I’ve gone the contractor route with my guys. Thinking these are the QRF sat waiting to rescue the principal or drag their buddies (possible from the Tier 1 Operator Range) out of the fire when things go wrong. Alternatively, they may end up being the bad guys when the inevitable third act twist takes place and suddenly the operators have to fight against almost near-tier adversaries.

Now I just have to get them on the board…

Wargaming Week 08/10/2018

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 1st through to the 7th of October.

BLOG STUFF

This week’s post was a Range Impression taking a look at the Deniable Operators from Spectre Miniatures. These are a cool set, and despite being painted a while ago I really like them.

I’m still really busy with work so this week’s post may be another Range Impression. My SWAT/CIA Operators may have to wait a bit until I have a bit more time to sit down and get to work on them.

NEWS

Tiny Terrain’s War in Chechnya Kickstarter is up and running! It started off on Monday and they are almost 200% funded, with several stretch goals already down and ready to add to your pledge.

In rather exciting news coming from New York Comic Con, Spectre Miniatures and Echelon Software, the makers of the Black Powder Red Earth comic series and several related project, are partnering up. This is pretty cool, especially after they announced two of the projects they are working on.

For people looking for more cool operators to have on their tabletop, Spectre is going to be releasing a set of figures styled after Ember team from the latest series of BPRE. I do love the style on the operators, laden with all the latest kit while still looking different from other operators currently available. This range has been tentatively slated for a Black Friday release and I will be picking up a set as soon as they come out.

The other part is that Echelon is working on a PvE board game, letting players take control of a small team of door kickers in non-permissive environments. In other words, it sounds a bit like a dungeon crawl in a modern day, something that sounds perfect for when you want to get your game time in without having to roll the full board out. Spectre is again helping, working on the miniatures and assisting to make the rules fast paced and flowing well.

In other words, it’s an exciting time!

Finally, 4Ground are previewing some 28mm ruined African terrain. There are only a few images for now but it sounds like they are working on two styles, the city ruins you see here  and ones closer to their existing African terrain. Although designed for North Africa in WW2, I can see plenty of use for them in the MENA area of the world, ideal for creating some real urban hell holes for your insurgents to dig in to.

PURCHASES

Nothing! I’ve been too busy to buy anything!

HOBBY

Honestly, not very much. This week has been incredibly busy at work so apart from throwing some textured spray onto the last of Sarissa North Africa buildings, I haven’t had a chance to sit at a desk and get the paints out. Fingers crossed I’ll have something ready for the next Wargaming Week.


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

Range Impressions: Spectre Deniable Operators

Although wargaming for most is focused more overt actions (complete with all the firepower you might want), for most of history covert action has played an important role. TV, films and games are filled with deeds of low profile agents fighting wars in other people’s countries where they are not supposed to go. The frequent refrain of “we’ll deny you even exist” is probably becoming a trope at this point. If you’re wanting to bring some low profile guys to your own tabletop, the Spectre Deniable Operators are perfect.

At the moment, Spectre has four packs available – two for the rifleman and two for each of the specialists. All of the operators are dressed in civilian outdoors clothing and are wearing rucksacks. If it wasn’t for the AKs in their hands, they could easily be hikers out for a day’s stroll. The chance to paint some civilian clothing means that you can add the odd touch of colour that you might not normally see when painting more regular troops

Riflemen

There are a total of four riflemen available, giving you a nice variety of poses. All four are armed with a rail-equipped, crane stocked 7.62mm AKs, complete with all the usual bits of kit that operators love to have when fighting in urban terrain.

The rucksacks are ideal for representing any number of kit, from grenades to medical equipment to laser guidance systems for bringing the rain.

Support

Of course, every squad needs special weapons. For the Deniable Operators, you don’t get quite the same heavy firepower as some other ranges. Instead, it’s a bit more of a scalpel (in relative terms). One operator has an M203 under his AK, ideal for taking out groups of hostiles or enemies in cover. The other is designed for reaching out and touching the bad guys at long range, the larger optic ideal for representing a DMR.

As much as you might want a machine gun, I think keeping the specialists with AK platforms make a lot of sense for operators working in small groups behind enemy lines.

Usage

The best thing about ranges like Deniable Operators is just flexible they are. These guys can represent anything, from heavily armed criminals up to special forces seeking to hide their origin. Mix them in with some irregulars and you have some advisers mentoring their more ill-equipped buddies.

Conclusions

The Deniable Operators are one of my favourite compact ranges. Small and sweet, these six operators are ideal for something new compared to the usual door kickers. If you’re looking for a small team with a fun playstyle, I recommend picking these guys up. You can find them on the Spectre store under Undercover Operators.

Wishlist

Like all of the compact ranges, the wishlist is just more. AK armed operators have a certain attraction, something different from the usual AR15s and FAST helmets. A few more figures, perhaps in some different poses, would be nice. Some guys pointing out enemy targets would be ideal when using them as advisors.

Wargaming Week 01/10/2018

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 24th through to the 30th of October.

BLOG STUFF

This week saw yet another part in Project Humvee, looking at the new weapon options. I’m really excited to see these come out, especially the weapon stations – I think I’ll be picking up a few more to upgrade some American armour I’m planning to pick up eventually. After all, can’t have a platoon of Marines without some heavy armour to back them up – going to need to get a War Pig on the table.

NEWS

Tiny Terrain’s next Kickstarter is rumbling closer (in fact it should be up later today). As part of this, the two main squads of new figures have been previewed. First up, we have the Russians. This is a nice set of guys, packed full of AKs but with an SVD, PKM and some disposable RPGs for support weapons.

The other preview is for the OPFOR, the Chechens. These guys are armed similarly to their Russian oppositions but clad in a very different style. For example, I think it would probably be frowned upon for the standard Russian trooper to bring a sword into battle.

Finally we have the preview video for the Kickstarter itself. All of the figures are from the same sculptor as the original range, giving you even more guys ready for the battlefield. From the descriptions on the images, there will be plenty of other support options to extend the squads. Keep an eye on the Tiny Terrain page for more details once the Kickstarter is up.

Spectre returned to the release stage with a new set of specialists for the Cartel range. We saw previews of these guys on the Colours table a few weeks ago, but it’s nice to see them now available.

The new release is seven figures. Each is on the store individually and, if you’re fighting other cartels or law enforcement south of the border, you are going to want these guys. Each figure is packed full of character (from the mad man with his dual MAC-10s to the soldato, bare chest exposed while holding his AUG one handed) and there is also a useful range of weapons. There are now two LMGs in the cartel range, as well as an AA12, a multiple grenade launcher and even one cartel member with a M82 – useful when your rival is rolling around in an armoured SUV

PURCHASES

Actually, nothing. I’ve still got a lot of things I want to tidy up and, although I really like the look of the new Cartel fighters, I want to work out the best way to include them in my MENA/African setting. I am also conscious of how many figures I have sat waiting to be painted.

Okay, well almost nothing. I finally picked up the last volume of Black Powder Red Earth Yemen. I really like the series, although it has some flaws, and the Yemen run is the best so far. It has much more of a story to it rather than just operators thwacking people so it’s going to be exciting to see how the story wraps up.

HOBBY

The main hobby time this week was assembling the turrets all ready for Friday’s post. In fact, there were too many turrets (and not enough hobby time) so the turret gunners were put to one side to be saved for another post. You’ll be seeing those guys in a few weeks.

The building of B-Town continues as I keep working my way through my collection. This weekend saw it progress a bit more, with more MDF covered in textured paint and a few more air conditioning units on walls.

I also decided to get some figures that have been sat on my workbench finished off. Gazing around at the options, and thinking of my next game, I decided to grab the Spectre SWAT team and broke out the paints. I’ll talk more about them in the post but the plan is to paint them up using the PMC painting scheme. More details in Friday’s post


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

Project Humvee – Weapon Options

Last time we looked at Project Humvee, we’d just finished adding another chassis to our convoy. In this post, we’re going to add some more weapon options. When running scenarios, it’s nice to be able to pick from a selection of gear, so the hot-swappable turret system is perfect.


But first, I needed to add an upgrade to Humvee Alpha. Up until this point, the only variant that had space for a spare wheel was the SF upgrade. For anyone using the regular variants, there was no mounting point available. From reading the Haynes guide to the Humvee, this is actually a pretty common occurrence. However, seeing as I haven’t covered my vehicles in bags handing off the side, I was looking for a way to make these vehicles look a bit less factory fresh and more utilitarian.

I’ll admit, there isn’t much too it

As part of the last wave of releases, Spectre has released HMV Upgrade Delta, inspired by the tire carrier seen on military Humvees. This is a simple two-part kit, comprising of a one-piece frame and a spare tyre. This is actually a different style to the tyres included in the basic vehicle, with a much deeper central recess. The frame glues into a locator lug on the back of the vehicle and then rests on the rear of the bumper. Its position means you can easily mount the spare tire frame even if you have installed oversized aerials on either side.

I really like this upgrade, so much that I think I’ll be picking up another one to add to my other normal Humvee. The frame sits away from the back of the vehicle which had me a little worried about how much support it would have once assembled, especially once exposed to the rigours of the gaming table. However, the resin actually has some flex to it – not enough that it’s weighed down by the tyre but enough that catching it on a building edge or dropping it shouldn’t be a problem.

I should also point out that mounting the fuel cans onto the frame is not technically accurate. Although a perfect space, this would cause issues using the mechanical lifting system (needed due to the sheer weight of a Humvee tyre). On the other hand, it does look cool.


Right, that’s the utility out of the way, lets move on to the cool stuff.

Three generations of M2 mounts

As the War on Terror has rumbled on, a key element of modern vehicles that have come on leaps and bounds is the weapon mounting system. In 2001 Humvees were rolling around with ring mounts and no protection but after combat usage in Iraq, they were soon mounting armoured shield and turrets to protect the gunner from being shot.

Of course, the safest place for the gunner to be is inside the vehicle. Remote weapon stations (or RWS) remove any need for the gunner to stick their head out of the vehicle while also adding some additional features such as improved optics or smoke grenade launchers to assist in the role and improve survivability.

Spectre’s range of RWS comprises of a mix of weapon systems and mounting platform. The heavy variant comes with thermal optics and smoke dischargers and can mount the M2 HMG, M240 MMG and the MK47 AGL. If you’re wanting to mount them on a smaller platform (such as a technical or a modified SUV) there is also the light version – it’s currently only available with the M240 and lacks the smoke dischargers of it’s bigger brother. However, it is more suitable for less military roles.

Having two of the heavy mounts you can see the similarities. The turret ring is a modified version of the one that comes with every HMV, and so assembles the same way. The actual gun mount (complete with ammo box and mounting system) is actually similar but slightly different for each gun so I wouldn’t recommend trying to hot-swap them. The smoke dischargers are small, but not small enough to cause an issue with attaching them.

I currently leave all my turrets loose, letting me easily swap between them. By default, the RWS attaches with a pin and socket system. Although stable, I could see an issue with so many loose parts – to this end, I decided to magnetise it. Of course, being a man of limited patience and skill, I ended royally bungling the job leading to several slightly drunken looking guns when rotated too far. Luckily this was easily fixed with a bit of filing.

The M2 is sort of the classic weapon for an RWS system, easily able to engage a mix of targets from infantry to lightly armoured vehicles. The thermal cam and zoomable optics make it even more of a threat.

I’ll admit, I have a soft spot for the MMG. The AGL is a useful weapon system but I’m much more of a fan of the MK19 – the MK47 is slightly too snazzy for most forces using the Humvee. The M240, on the other hand, is a much more refined tool, easier to balance as a scenario writer and slightly less terrifying to go up against.


Speaking of things terrifying to go up against, let’s talk about the GAU-19. If you’ve followed this blog, you know I’m a fan of all things rotary, even modding the Empress Humvees to mount a M134. Combining rotary with .50cal, and you’re about to see something pretty nasty to go up against. I know for a fact that Spectre is currently still working out the stat line for the GAU-19 and looking at for Skirmish Sangin, I think it’s first burst is going to be an incredibly emotional event for anyone downrange of it.

Assembly is actually something worth covering. The pack comes with the weapon, a box of ammo and the basic mount. Unlike previous miniguns, the scope is actually part of the main body of the gun. Additionally, the pack doesn’t include the turret ring, which means it can be used on all the various turret styles if you’re willing to slightly widen some of the slots in the armoured plates.

More interesting is the change in material. Unlike previous weapons, this gun is actually resin. But more importantly, the belt is resin. This makes it much easier to shape and mould after a bath in hot water, especially compared to the metal one that came with the M134 Minigun.


Of course, it was also time to assemble something a little more basic, perfect for the MENA forces or those less well equipped. For this, I grabbed a simple M2, an unused turret ring and a small piece of the pylon that comes with the M2 gun. Trimming down the turret mount slightly to make the pole fit flat, this turret is a bit of a classic. Change the door design, and this vehicle would be ready to roll around Mogadishu. On the other hand, this version is better suited for internal security, either rolling around military bases or city streets.


These new additions help to open up the options I have for using these Humvees. With a good selection of weapons, a limited number of vehicle bodies can fulfil many roles. As you can see above, the same weapons also work pretty well on the Empress vehicles, although the new RWS will need some tweaks to fit the roof flush due to the box at the front. Perfect for upgrading an M-ATV to sling .50cal rounds down range.

Next time on Project Humvee I’ll be adding some personality to my Humvees with the addition of some turret gunners. In addition, the local forces will be getting their first turret, perfect to upgrade the MENA regulars with something more than just a pickup truck.

Wargaming Week 24/09/18

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 17th through to the 23rd of September.

BLOG STUFF

This week’s post was finishing off the Foxhounds. I’m really happy that I have finally got these vehicles done – they have been sat on my desk for over a year at this point but now they get to go into the completed project box. Hopefully, they should be out on the board the next time I run a game featuring the ADF but I’ll have to work something out to really show them off.

Also, I updated last week’s battle report with some post-game analysis. Seeing as people really liked it, I’m going to try and expand what I do with battle reports, as well as getting more games in. Go and take a look at the updated write-up!

NEWS

First up with have a double bill of news from Tiny Terrain Models. Last weekend at Colours, they were there with a brand new terrain board for their set of rules focused on the First Chechen War. As you can see in the picture above, and in the gallery on Facebook, it’s rather beautiful. Tinned Fruit helped to assemble it and you can see his skill in just how nice the buildings are. Overall, this is another occasion where I’m annoyed that I’m up in Edinburgh and so can’t really make it down to Newbury to attend Colours. Luckily, Tiny Terrain should be at Fiasco in Leeds in October so fingers crossed I should be able to lay my eyes on it there.

But that’s not all for fans of Russians and Chechens clashing. Tiny Terrain also announced the date for the upcoming Kickstarter. This is the second part to the very successful original Kickstarter, adding even more figures (including a few more Chechens with AKs to balance out the vast number of RPGS) all from the sculpting hand of Igor. Ignoring my distaste of prone figures (i’ll get over it) I think some of these sculpts are fantastic. If I was more interested in this conflict, I’d be putting money aside for this one.

The Kickstarter will begin on the 1st of October, keep a close eye on the Tiny Terrain Facebook page for more details

One of the MDF Wizards I have contact with, REDVectors, has just announced the completion of a recent commission. It’s a 28mm scale cargo ship suitable to play over. Stretching around 6ft long, the ship has interiors letting your team of operators clear it deck by deck. It can also be broken down into smaller parts for storage and transport. There are plenty of cool details so I recommend taking a look at the gallery I linked.

As I mentioned when the news came out, this style of ship was what we had in mind when writing Cargo Inspection for Plausible Deniability. So if you want to play that scenario and don’t mind dropping the cost, this is perfect for setting up the board.

White Dragon Miniatures are back and showing off more of their Afghan Insurgent range. These guys are some really cool new poses, including some you don’t see very often (when was the last time an insurgent pulled a sidearm in your game?). It’s going to be really cool when all the various poses are available – one thing that was apparent when talking to them at shows is that White Dragon is using all the benefits of 3D sculpted figures to allow for a huge amount of variety in the range. Keep your eyes peeled to see what’s coming up next

(Also I really need to get my British Infantry rebased and painted :|)

PURCHASES

Nothing!

HOBBY

As you might have guessed, most of the work for this week was getting the Foxhounds finished off. For full details, check the post.

My weekend tasks has been assembling more Humvee Weapons from the latest order. I’ll be taking a look at these in Friday’s post so stay tuned for more details on them.

I’ve also started looking at how much work it would be to convert the turret ring of the Empress M-ATV to fit the Spectre weapons properly. It would be ideal if all my US vehicles shared the same turrets, letting me swap in the various versions as they were needed.


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

Force Protection – Finishing the Foxhounds

Wargamers like building themselves piles of lead. This is a known phenomenon. Of course, having a blog does like to remind you of these lead piles, especially when you start cleaning up your blog of old posts.

One of the first impressions pieces I wrote, way back in May 2017, was on the Evil Bear Foxhound. Now, over a year later, and after watching some Humvees being ripped to shreds by an explosive device, I’m finally inspired to get my act together and get these wonderful little vehicles painted up.

Preparation

The first step was getting the vehicles ready. As you can see, I’d already hit them with a tan spray colour sometime in the last year. However, there were a few things that needed tweaking before I could finish them. The first was redoing one of the magnet positions for the GPMGs pintles. I decided to magnetise them so I easily swap the vehicle between up-gunned British Army pattern and a less overt version if they were being used by a non-government organisation. My first attempt had got most of them okay except one mount was at a 45-degree angle. and looked broken. I popped it off, re-dug the hole and remounted it.

I also decided to modify the position of the boxes at the front to make sure they match and also popped off the tow bar from one vehicle. Technically, I’m not sure this is 100% accurate – most of the vehicles on operations have them. However, I wanted to make the two vehicles look visually distinctive.

Stowage

The next step was stowage. The large flat open top is great for covering in kit but I had to make sure to explain how they were being lashed down. I broke out the green stuck, assembled a few sausage shapes from it and gently laid it across the items in order to lash them down.

The stowage itself is a mixture. Most of the kit is from the Spectre stowage packs, with the various missile tubes being especially useful. I continue to be a fan of the rucksacks and so have liberally covered this vehicle in bits from packs.

Other bits were picked up from Empress’s range of kits. The side mounted fuel cans and a few of the rucksacks were pulled from the US Vehicle Stowage pack. The more exciting addition is the disassembled Desert Hawk drone. This was pulled from the British Army drone controller kit. It’s a small detail but it could signify a vehicle’s access to the UAV’s camera, handy in some rule sets.

Painting

Finally, time for painting. On the one hand, I’m never 100% happy with how painting vehicles turn out. It’s a different style of painting to figures and despite having hammered out plenty of transports in my time, I’m still getting used to it. However, the benefit is that I can get them done relatively quickly thanks to liberal use of spray paint, picking out key details and then covering in wash before dabbing it off.

Comparison

The original impressions were packed full of comparisons to the rest of Spectre’s range of civilian vehicles and trucks but I didn’t actually look at any of the equivalent vehicles. So above is a lineup of the usual suspects.

As you can see, the Foxhound sits right in the middle in terms of size, more easily able to match the roads that the Humvee can handle while still capable of protection of IEDs. It’s actually a step down in raw firepower compared to the less protected Humvee and the chunky M-ATV, mounting the pair GPMGs rather the heavier .50cals.

Also that M-ATV continues to be a ridiculous vehicle.

Conclusion

Aden Defence Force troopers set off on patrol

I am really glad I got these vehicles finished. They are a really nice model of a distinctive looking vehicle. Having spent the time to get them ready for operations, including adding the stowage and correcting my initial construction mistakes, I think they are now ready to see some action.

Fingers crossed next time the ADF go on patrol, these beauties will take the strain.