Operation Dragon’s Hoard: March Update

Last month saw Vapnartak and the first run of Operation Dragon’s Hoard for 2018. As you can see from my last post, there were one or two things I wanted to tweak after that run. Originally the plan was to spend the rest of February prepping the game ready for its run at Hammerhead and then have a full day giving a different crowd a chance to play it.

Well that didn’t happen. So instead, here is the update on what I managed to tweak coming into March.

You’ve already seen most of the detail on these buildings in my impressions piece. As much as I like the adobes, they are a little bit generic. These new building should help to give the OPFOR a bonus by giving them a height advantage. To fit the buildings in to the setting, I shifted the location slightly from random village in the desert to the outskirts of an abandoned oil facility. Much like the rest of the board, there was a lot of tan spray paint applied to give it the “dusted in constant sandstorm” look.

The bigger change was working on the plane. Up until this point, the only structural change I had made to it was the initial cuts to break it into five pieces (main body, nose, tail, wing, fuel tank). This was effective for gameplay purposes but it did give it the look of having just applied a hacksaw to it rather than ripped apart in flight. I’ll admit, battle damage is something that I always worry about – from my airfix days, it can be quite easy to go over the top and ruin it. Seeing as this had already been an expensive process already, the idea of having to redo the plane didn’t appeal. So, the plane was to go minimal – show off the impressions of lots of damage without completely shredding the plane.

Before applying dremel to plane, the first task was roughly working out the planned destruction I was going to cause. The background to the mission was that the plane went down in a storm. However, I decided to tweak it to make the downed plane a little more interesting. The new idea was to have it go down to a burst of cannon first stitching its way along the wing (possibly from the ZPU I have sat on my desk). The action plan was to rough up the broken edges of the plane with semi-random cuts, rough up the wing tips, expand the break on the wing to include a shell hole and then add additional damage to the right wing and right tail.

This was my first time using the dremel so took me a little while to get 100% comfortable with it, especially getting used to the safety concerns (always wear eye pro) and making sure not to run it late into the evening. However, it did make the job ridiculously easy. I managed to get all the cutting done really quickly. I would definitely recommend picking up a dremel for hobby projects – I’m going to be looking at some other cutting surfaces and tools to assist with it..

So key bits of cutting are:

  • Rough cuts at various angles along the hacksaw cuts – This was freehanded with only a limited amount of planning to give a semi-random look to it.
  • Deeper cuts on the wing tips and right hand tail plane – Designed to show ground damage and debris
  • Expanding damage on the wing break – So that it tied into the new story, I created an entry and exit point of an AA shell.
  • Additional damage – I took a chunks out of the broken wing to show additional damage. Some of this gap was then filled in with tin foil to show crumpled metal rather than just a void.
  • Shell holes – to add detail, I sunk a drill bit in a straight line through various points around the right wing. I then extended the exit hole for dramatic by putting the dremel in and then cutting out slots in a radial pattern to give the impression of an explosion. The cutting left some unevenly sized bits of plastic, giving the impression shredded metal and broken structural elements.

Once the cutting was done, it was painting time. Two different metallic paints were roughly applied, in slightly different quantities. The second coat was applied relatively watered down and then dabbed away to give a little bit of a less defined edge to it. To finish off, the usual drybrush of Iraqi Sand as my hobby sensei taught me.

Seeing as there is no show to recap, we’ll jump ahead to future plans. Although I’d be happy to run the game as-is, I think there are still a few tweaks to do to the plane. The big thing is building up the internal structure of the wings. This will be done in two parts. First up is adding new bulkheads of plasticard to prevent vision straight down the entire wing section. The next will be adding plasticard sections into the shell holes, giving the impression of bracing structs. I’ll also be adding some thin wire to represent the cabling. I’m also planning to do something to add more junk to the cargo bay. There will also be another round of painting, with the aim to neaten up the blast marks as well as adding some oil smears and other effects. Finally, some general maintenance to fix up any chipped paint and make sure it looks the best it can be.

Next update will be after Hammerhead. Expect some minor tweaks before it but honestly, I’m pretty happy with how the board is going to look. Once Hammerhead has been run, I think I can call this demo game a success.

…. and then start planning the next one with a year and a bit to do it in.

Wargaming Week 05/03/2018

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 26th of February through to the 4th of March.

BLOG STUFF

Last week saw an exclusive first look at a new product on the market, Supreme Littleness Design’s new Tower Block setup. Its been really cool seeing the prototypes come out of Mike’s lab as he’s been working on them and getting to build and paint a set ready for game on has been great. I’m already planning out how to use them in the next trip to Bazistan.

In case you missed it, this last weekend didn’t see me heading down to Hammerhead as planned. Unfortunately, thanks to the Beast from the East, Hammerhead was re-scheduled to April 28th. On the one hand, it was a real shame and I’m sure lots of traders are missing out on the opportunity. On the other hand, I’ll get another month and a bit to getting everything ready for it.

This week is a twofer – you’ll be seeing an update on Operation Dragon’s Hoard on Wednesday (much shorter than originally planned) followed by an impressions piece on Eureka’s new British Infantry on Friday.

NEWS

Photo from Empress

It was supposed to be Wargames Show week! Which means time for new releases from Empress Miniatures. The first announcement from Empress was adding a new pack to the range. These mercs look somewhat expendable and should be a few interesting characters to add more cinematic missions. Also any pack of figures with an AA12 totting operator in is one I like. These guys are on the Universal Range page for anyone interested in having their own team of tiny action heroes.

Photo from Empress

Announcement 2 was an extension to the Empress Universal range. The new set of heads are wearing military caps, making them perfect for a variety of roles from Afghan National Police to Central American military. The announcement also mentioned moving into some new body variation as well as a new moderns range in a few weeks. I’ve got some guesses on what it might be but no matter what it is, I’m sure it’s going to be exciting

Photo from White Dragon Miniatures

The other announcement is that White Dragon Miniatures are really close to a release for their Courage in Contact range. Seven packs of Modern Brits have been shown off in the Modern Miniature group, with a nice mix of weapons and poses. I’ll be picking up the range, so expect my thoughts on them once they arrive.

Photo from TTTS

Table Top Tactical Simulations, who have a pretty nice range of US Army and OPFOR figures, have shown off some more details on their upcoming Kickstarter. Based on funding from it, they will be releasing both 2 1/2 ton trucks (with variants) and 5 ton trucks (also with variants) as well as a JLTV. Military trucks are always a pain to find and having a selection of them with variants should be great for the community. I’m already thinking of possible scenarios for them.

GAMING

No gaming sadly – all that build up for Hammerhead and then bang, wargames blue balled due to (admittedly a huge amount of) snow.

PURCHASES

I’ve got an order in with Empress. As well as their new team of mercs and some universals for use with the caps (after all, local police need some new officers), I’ve also gone in deep with their Taliban range. Up until this point I hadn’t picked up their range due to owning the Eureka and Radio Dishdash fighters but seeing as the plan for this year is to focus on Bazistan, I’m going to need a lot of

HOBBY

So the focus of this week was getting stuff ready for Hammerhead. There will be more of a post on Wednesday going into more detail but the bulk of the work was getting the plane more banged up and the new buildings assembled. Sneak preview above.

The other thing I’ve started work on is the Eureka modern British. These guys are perfect for 2000’s Brits and so I’m looking forward to getting them painted up. Thankfully, my recipe for DDPM is super simple so I should be able to get them done to a standard I like pretty quickly. Expect photos soon!


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

Impressions: Supreme Littleness Designs – Tower Block

One of the joys of ultramoderns is that almost anything can be used as the back drop. Thanks to the vast variety of terrain in the world, anything from medieval Arab buildings to pulp era Brownstones, the possibilities are endless. One thing that I haven’t seen is modern buildings under construction. The combination of steel and concrete is found everywhere, and is a frequent tool of choice for games designers creating levels for modern games. Ubiquitous yet no MDF version ready for the wargamer.

So I was very surprised when just before Christmas, Mike of Supreme Littleness Designs turned up at the local wargames club with the prototype of one of these in progress buildings. After a few months of work, these three modules are now ready to build and take a look at. To say I’m excited to get them into a game is putting it mildly.

Before we starting taking a look, a slight disclaimer – I’ve been talking back and forth with Mike while he developed these buildings, throwing a few ideas at him to help make them more useful to modern wargamers. 

The Range

The modules all have a few things in common. The footprint for each module is at most 140mm x 140mm. In addition, the modules are all self-contained – there are no protruding parts that would prevent placing each module together. This makes them easy to lift out of an arrangement if you need to position figures inside. Alternatively, if you want to add some additional strength to the buildings, some of the circular cut outs on the beams could be used to house pegs.

All the buildings also have a similar structure, with a frame-work supporting flat panels. The pieces have laser cut details on them, designed to be facing outwards (a key thing to remember when assembling). The doorways in each building are about 20mm wide, so anyone basing for Spectre will easily be able to fit figures through them. All the modules have multiple floors – however not all of them have access to each of them, relying instead on either the addition of ladders or by placing next to another module.

A cool feature of this design are the small holes around each of the corners. These holes are perfectly sized to let you fit pins through them to stand in for rebar. This is an extra little detail that would be handy to make these buildings really standout on the table top. Just remember to clip the ends off.

To make this article a little easier to read while still providing as much detail as possible, I’ve put some construction and painting notes in a separate post you can find at https://wp.me/pvEn5-2rY. I’d recommend having it open in another window while looking at details of the three modules so you can compare the WIP and the finished project. It also provides some additional details of each of the floors.

A few minor construction points for the range – all the pieces are nicely cut (with no alteration required) but I still recommend a dry fit to make sure. Additionally, pop out every push through (including the pin holes) before assembly in as some may be blocked once complete. Supreme Littleness Designs will be providing instructions once the kits are released – I managed to work out the build process from pictures and made only one major mistake which I was able to rectify so they are not hugely complicated to assemble.

Building 1

The first building is the tallest, consisting of three enclosed stories and a roof. This will be a pretty key location to secure thanks to how much it can cover the board. As for internal features, each floor has interior walls in a selection of layouts. They are all ideal for placing next to other building, easily creating small rooms.

The roof passes the essential Little Bird test (it fits a MH6 with space to disembark the passengers) with the staircase leading down to the floor below. There are no other staircases in the building but the cut away would allow the positioning of a ladder.

This side on view shows just how much interior real estate is available on each floor. The rooms are not empty, but I’d recommend adding additional cover if you are using this module by itself. I’m planning on adding some tarps handing off the interior edges to help break the sight-lines up.

For more details, check out the companion article at https://wp.me/pvEn5-2rY

Building 2

Building 2 is composed of two floors, complete with a small staircase from ground floor to first. There is also a hole in the roof, allowing climbing access or interesting sight-lines between the floors.

The big feature of building 2 is the interior cladding complete with windows. These work for both interior and exterior walls, letting you assemble offices and other interesting spaces rather than just empty voids.

The cross-section shows off how this module could fit with the others. The wide open space would easily extend Building 1’s first floor turning it into a longer firing line. The half height of the staircase would also let figures engage from a place of relative cover.

For more details, check out the companion article at https://wp.me/pvEn5-2rY

Building 3

Building 3 is a stairwell and it’s inclusion really ties the other modules together. The staircase provides access to three levels along with a series of corridors to connect the various floors.

The corridors are probably the only fiddly space I’ve found with these complete kits, requiring some deft finger work to place figures exactly.

Finally the cross section, shows off the corridors along with the L shape. This module forms a great bridge between two other buildings in this release.

For more details, check out the companion article at https://wp.me/pvEn5-2rY

Layouts

The big thing about these modules is the fact they are designed to fit together in different ways. As part of construction, I threw a few layouts together to have a play.

One thing to bear in mind with putting modules together is that they don’t need to line up – placing moduels together in a non-square fashion allow for much more interesting fighting spaces. With the release of more modules

Add-Ons

There are also a few other elements that Supreme Littleness Designs has cut. I’m not 100% on the distribution plan for these elements but they will help to make your buildings more detailed.

This exterior cladding helps to add the skin to the building. Attaching it does have the side effect of making the buildings hard to attach together as it attaches onto the outside beams. Getting enough of them could also make the buildings look almost complete

The smallest addition is these junction boxes. A tiny piece of MDF but added to the walls (along with a few wires) it adds a nice little bit of detail you don’t see elsewhere.

Final Thoughts

I think this range is something new and I’m looking forward to seeing how everyone receives them. They are designed to be modular and playable. Thanks to the design work behind them, they are also pretty easy to assemble and paint, meaning hammering a whole building site out won’t take very long at all.

At the moment, the buildings are not currently released. However, expect plenty of details from me once they are out. Supreme Littleness Designs’s website and Facebook are also well worth keep an eye on them. I’ll also update this piece once the buildings are out with direct links.

Additionally, there are other products coming in the construction site range. As well as more modules, there will be other things to detail your warzone with.