Initial Impressions: Sarissa Precision North Africa / Colonial

When most people look for terrain to fill their MENA board, the first thought goes to the classic adobes. Although these mud brick buildings (and their variations) are found throughout the region, there are all sorts of other buildings suitable for the tabletop. For a while, Sarissa Precision have had a range of colonial buildings designed for North Africa in WW2 available in 20mm scale. A year or so later, and with much rejoicing, the entire collection has been released for 28mm. As someone looking for some grander buildings to represent the more urban areas of Bazistan, I just had to pick some up. I ended up going with some of the larger buildings, perfect for building some traditional streets. This is going to be an initial impressions (unpainted and missing some of the detailing greyboard) as I haven’t chosen the modifications I want to do to “Modernise” them.

As with all Sarissa Products, the building is a combination of thick MDF for the structure and greyboard for additional details. A common element of these buildings is use of large greyboard panels for the doors and window; these sit on the inside of the building to help increase the sense of depth. Additionally, greyboard window shutters are included and can be glued in either the open or shut position. The MDF is well cut and comes out the sprue with no tearing or damage. Although I always recommend a dry run when building MDF, all of these kits went together with ease.

To improve gameplay, all the buildings have removable roofs secured by MDF tags at either side. The roofs also provide some cover, although it’s only half height in the corners and the front feature. Multi-storey setups have the same combination of locating lugs allowing for quick removal and access to different levels. One comment for these buildings is that there are no interior staircases modelled in order to maximise space on the inside to place figures so moving between floors may require some abstraction.

Additionally, the range includes damaged versions of all the buildings. I haven’t picked any of them up yet but from looking at them they have done a nice job keeping them as terrain obstacles while still making them look like they had been part of an engagement.

With the basics covered, lets take a look at the specific examples.

Large Single Storey Building

The first building is a large single storey build. It’s comprised of three units, each with a different layout of windows and doors.

The rear view shows off the different arrangement of windows and doors. The end pieces also have extra detail, such as cracks in the coating of the wall or an additional window.

With the roof removed, you can see there is plenty of interior space for figures or obstacles for when you’re fighting from room to room.

Large Two Storey Building

Building two uses the same basic layout as the first building but adds an additional floor. It also changes some of the design, squaring off the windows above the doors on this compared to the first building.

The back still has plenty of windows meaning it’s got plenty of place for figures to shoot out of. Both end pieces also have windows in them for all round viewing angles.

Another addition is the two balconeys on the first floor. If you’re wanting to have figures on 25mm bases standing on them, you will need to open the doors behind them as otherwise they won’t fit.

Souk Building – Single Storey

The next two buildings are labelled up as part of the Souk, ready to form the local marketplace or bazaar for spy related shenanigans. The common feature is arched and covered area, a perfect place to add some small market stalls or to get out of the sun. For the single storey building, it’s very similar to the Large Single Storey building but with a much larger footprint.

Anyone looking at the this picture and comparing to the images on the store may have noticed something strange here. For the first time I received a miscut piece from Sarissa – the two long walls of the building were cut with the same end connectors rather than the different one needed to fit into the middle of the side walls. What this does mean is that I’ve managed to get a different layout than most with only some smaller gaps needed to fill. Sarissa provided some great customer support, another positive for them.

The addition of the covered front area adds some more room for gameplay around the buildings as well as a much larger roof element. Aside from that, the interior is similar to the one storey building shown above.

Souk Building – Two Storey

To go with the one storey building, there is also a two storey option for players needing some more vertical space. As you can see, the expanded foot print of the arched area helps to give the upper floors proper balconies with plenty of space for heavier weapon teams. One of the balconies seems to be lacking door access so expect troops diving through windows.

The back of the building is similar to the two storey building above, once again with all round line of sight through the windows.

With access to the balconies, this building could be quite a difficult one to assault and I can see lots of fighting from room to room. The balconies add some options for out flanking enemies in other parts of the upstairs.

Administration Building / Hotel

The last building is designed to be a centrepiece, the local hotel or a government building. It has a certain amount of finery not seen on the other buildings with arches and decorative elements. It also has a balcony perfect for local leaders or agitators to speak from. The roof also passes the Little Bird test so your D-Boys can deploy straight into cover.

The rear shows off another access door, as well as more as the decorative aspect of the building.

As you can see in the picture, the interior is entirely open with no interior walls. It would have been nice for some interior details on this building but I can see the point of leaving it open if you’re playing certain squad based games. With the sheer number of windows, putting full squads into the building will make it a pretty hard nut to crack.

One interesting point about the construction of this building is that it’s actually made up with more greyboard than the other buildings. This is the MDF frame which provides the top layer and most of the structure. There are then two layers of greyboard to give a greater level of depth than is seen elsewhere which will look rather special.


So what are my opinions on this range? Well it’s the usual high level of Sarissa quality combined with a style of building that I haven’t seen a huge amount of. With only a few buildings, the entire tone changes from a board mainly covered in adobes. For anyone wanting a more urban battlefield, I really recommend these.

Additionally, this style is quite common across previously colonial regions and as such could be used for anything from the Middle East to the Caribbean. These buildings could also be a great starting point for more modern buildings if you don’t mind trimming details down or cutting holes. I’m really looking forward to getting my sleeves rolled up and making them look more modern.

Impressions: Evil Bear Wargames Combat Support Drones

The line between Sci-fi and Ultramodern for wargamers is sometimes a very thin line. With the rise of drones from things flying high above to smaller ones that fit in the palm of your hand, it’s highly likely at some point you’ll want to add a robot with a machine gun to your game (similar to the SWORDS robot), especially if you’ve played the Somalia level from Medal of Honour Warfighter or cleared a way to the helipad in Modern Warfare 3. Luckily, Evil Bear Wargames, whose range includes a selection of items from modern day to science fiction (such as the Spudies and Hardsuits), have two types of Close Support Drones ready to fill your need for some robotic support.

The two packs I ordered arrived in a single blister. Both vehicles are basically the same, sharing the same core unit and accessories. The main changes are the locomotion system and mounted weapons. As you can see, the entire kit is metal. One feature I particularly like about construction is the fact that both the chassis and weapon have enough space to fit in rare earth magnet in without any tweaking. This lets you easily switch between guns if you own both versions (or the Evil Bear Panther PMV which uses the same weapons). I’ve haven’t used them here but the pack includes two other little details, a control box and manipulating arm. These would let you theme the bots for a different purpose or for marking who has control of them in game.

Here are both vehicles painted up. This view also shows the vehicle in more detail, including the cool winch at the back of the chass

So what are the two variants? The first is the Medium Close Support Drone. This guy is armed with a GPMG and is equipped with wheels for moving around at speed.

The other is the Heavy Close Support Drone, equipped with tracks and mounting a M2 .50cal. This should be a nasty surprise when it appears and starts rolling around.

As you can see here, when compared to an Empress SF figure, these drone are certainly not man portable. They also won’t fit everywhere that people can get to, so more difficult terrain will prove to be an issue for them.

However, compared to vehicles these drones provide some serious firepower in a much smaller package. The photo shows both drones in comparison to the Panther from Evil Bear Wargames and one of Empress’s Humvees.
Honestly, these things are just cool. A little bit of ultramodern tech to add to your games (perhaps to show off the super high tech faction). You might need to jury rig some rules for them (most games don’t cover them quite yet) but they will be an interesting challenge. As the models, the casting is great with little clean up required and some neat details on them. Painting was a breeze and I’m pretty happy with the final result. C3 and R2 should useful when kicking doors and taking names.

If you’re wanting to get a pair of Close Support Drones yourself, they can be purchased from Evil Bear Wargames. At time of writing, their site is being re-developed but you can contact them via email at [email protected] in the meantime.

Wargaming Week 02/04/2018

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 26th of March through to the 1st of April.

BLOG STUFF

Last week we took a look at Spectre’s Green Berets pack. This was a little delayed due to a broken barrel but luckily Spectre’s great support got me a replacement sent out ASAP. Overall they were a fun set to paint, lacking the usual body armour but still pretty well equipped.

This week is a double post week. I’m still working out the exact articles but come back on Wednesday and Friday for new content.

We’re also into a new month! In exciting news, I broke 5000 views in March! This is a pretty exciting milestone. The goal now is to keep up this level of interest in the blog for a few months and see where it goes from there. But thanks to everyone for reading my work!

NEWS

Only one news item this week but oh my it’s a big one! Empress has released a new nation for their Modern range. The Germans are here! Ready for operations in their new IdZ kit (the German Future Soldier program), these guys are bring a whole load of new kit to the table. The range is pretty extensive, bringing enough figures for two 6 man squads, a MMG team (with MG3 on tripod) and a Milan team for busting bunkers/tanks. Overall, this is a great looking range and bring out some figures for an army in kit not covered by many other manufacturers. There is even a Leopard 2 already in the store to give your squads some backup.

I spent my Saturday morning at CHILLCON near Sheffield. This show was pretty great – it had the feel of a local show while also bringing in some big names and a good mix of traders. One of the ones I was interested in talking to was White Dragon Miniatures, whose resin British Infantry are on my workbench. After talking to the owner, I’m really excited to see what’s coming next. The stall showed off a few upcoming releases. To go with the existing vehicle dismount release, there will be foot patrol figures coming soon. These share the same basic poses as as the dismounts with a few tweaks to add the rucksacks and other kit needed for a patrol (made easier by the CAD origin of the figures). Also coming is a few add-on packs such as the night time items (including NVGs and laser light modules) which are 3D printed items ready for adding those extra details. The Foxhound and crew is pretty great but I’m really excited about the quad bikes. Coming with a few options for riders, stowage options on the bike itself and three trailer variations, this set should be great for building up some logistic elements (or making some jumping off points for Fighting Season when it comes out).

Of course, there was also a few other releases planned for further in the future which are very exciting indeed. But I won’t spoil the surprises. However, it’s clear White Dragon is aiming to keep pushing Courage in Contact, with a decent roadmap and the intention to provide everything a player might need for their force. I will be keeping a close eye on them

GAMING

Sadly none. Rather than wargames club, my Thursday was spent driving south for Easter weekend in Leeds.

PURCHASES

Well I bought some Germans. Really excited to get these guys on the battlefield! In the same order, I also picked up some Jazz Age Afghans with Lee Enfields. My plan is to do some headswaps to give the Taliban a few guys with bolt action rifles.

HOBBY

I took some time off work for a long Easter weekend and managed to dig my teeth into the pile of Sarissa Colonial buildings I had waiting to be assembled. Apart from a miscut piece stopping completion of one (which Sarissa were quick to get replacement sorted out), I had a fantastic time building these impressive buildings. This range is one I’d been keeping an eye on since they were first announced for 20mm and now I’ve built them I’m really happy. Simple to build, great level of detail and should be easy to get looking good with only a few simple techniques. I’ll be putting up an initial impressions soon covering the basics while painted up versions will wait until I get round to “modernising” (making adobes and colonial buildings look more suitable for the modern day while adding some extra details) and painting the pile of MDF sat on the workbench.

I also had some free time to do some painting. As well as rushing to finish off the Green Berets, I got to finish off the Evil Bear Wargames Drones you can see above – expect an article on them later this week. I wish I could have done some more painting but taking some time off to see family and watch films was much appreciated.


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