Technicals – Bravo Equipment

Ah, time to go back to old faithful. It’s safe to say that writing about pickups with guns has been pretty successful so far. This time, I’m taking a look at three new pieces of gear designed for the more modern of the technical models offered by Spectre, Technical Bravo. The Bravo has a much smaller cargo bed than the Alpha which can make mounting certain weapons (like the rocket pod) very hard. With some careful planning though, you can use this disadvantage to make some really cool weapon setups. Here are three that work best on the Bravo chassis, all purchased from Spectre Miniatures.


ZPU-1

The ZPU is a 14.5mm HMG usually used for AA purposes. Spectre sell three variants using this gun, from the quad version down to this single gun.

When it arrives, it comes 4 pieces; the gun, tripod, gunner and seats. The gunner figure actually has a seat built in making it easier to assemble. If you don’t mount the seat, the gun can freely turn on the central pivot.

Assembly was simple but took a little bit longer than expected. A bit of force was needed to line up all the pieces so the gunner had his feet on the footbars. When building the hot-swap base, I had to add some extra height – this was so the gun would clear the rear gate on all vehicles when it was closed, letting me use it on all the vehicles and not just the three that have lowered gates.

And there we are done. Obviously this gun is only going to cover the rear arc, but it might end up being pretty handy covering the rear of a convoy or setting up for a hit and run ambush. HMGs are pretty handy in every game for both infantry and vehicles and the 14.5mm ZPU can be really nasty.


SPG-9

A recoiless rifle designed for killing armoured vehicles, the SPG-9 is common sight around the world. From skiffs off Somalia, to fighting positions in the Ukraine to the back of technicals almost everywhere, these weapons are a step up from the RPG. Although not quite as powerful as the M40, it’s still no push over.

When it arrives from Spectre, the SPG-9 comes in two pieces – the launch tube and the low profile tripod. This setup is great for a stationary support weapon (and is perfect for some of their crew figures like Echo and Delta) but limits it’s use on vehicles. So I decided to use some spare bits (the stand from one of the M2 .50cals I used on my Empress humvees) and built a slightly higher mount.

Luckily the bottom pin on the SPG 9 fits perfectly into the top of the stand. After gluing, I added some green stuff to add some support. However, to prevent it breaking, I also used a Crew Alpha figure to help support it. I also added a Crew Echo figure (seeing as I hadn’t used one in my collection so far) to help balance the weight and prevent it toppling over during gameplay. You can also see here that I originally planned this as a full-size weapon system. However, I soon realised I could clip the base in half and tweak the wings to turn it into one that would fit on both types of vehicle.

Here it is mounted up and ready to go. This weapon system actually fits in different directions depending on the vehicle – on Bravo it faces forward but, due to the height of the mount it only faces backwards when used on Alpha (meaning that the crew cabin would get wiped out if fired in this setup). No matter how it’s setup, it’s going to be a cool way to give the insurgents some AT firepower without wheeling in the Heavy Ammunition in the form of the M40 and TOW.


MENA Regulars PKM

The final item has already been teased in the MENA Regulars impression. Designed to give the Bazistan Army some backup before their Humvees arrive, a pickup mounted PKM should give some good covering firing and give an opportunity for some simple conversion work.

When I built my SF weapons, I used the high mounts for all the weapons leaving me with a pile of smaller but structurally stable looking weapon mounting positions. By combining this with the PKM gunner, a simple vehicle mounted system could be made. There was only one problem – the PKM figure is really leaning into the gun. So to make sure it actually fitted on the base and attached to the mount in front of the box mag, the gunner had to on a slant. Additionally, I had to put the pintle as far forward as possible. Without some tweaks it still didn’t fit correctly. In the end, I trimmed flat the front side. This means on Technical Bravo it looks like pintle is partially bolted into the back of the cab but can be a bit strange on Alpha.

Once assembled, it was looking good. Unfortunately, putting the crewman on the slant shifted the centre of weight making it likely to fall off the back when moved. To correct this, I added one of the boxes from the stowage pack and painted it green, ready to stow all the loose belts of 7.62x54mmR for the gunner to grab.

Finally here is the end product. The crewman and weapon are painted up in the same style as the rest of my MENA Regulars while the mounting pole was the usual metallic paint plus some roughly applied green paint. Overall I’m really happy with how this guy turned out – it’s going to be great putting him on a normal technical and rolling alongside the SF Technicals or Humvees in convoy.


Conclusion

That’s three more weapons for me to pick from when assembling a group of technicals. The fact they work great on the both technical models really opens up the types of forces I can make, expanding the options available (which is kind of the point of the whole project). As with all Spectre technical bits, there is a really nice level of detail on all the parts and it was great fun assembling, converting and painting them up. Keep your eyes open for when I wheel them out of the armoury.

And speaking of armoury, here is how the options currently stand. From the Insurgent heavy weapons to the SF options to the piles of kit, I’m really happy with how the whole hot-swappable system has been working. I’m actually looking at what else I can add to the technicals using this setup for other purposes, like water tanks or covered cargo bays. I might even add a few more weapon systems in there.

Keep your eyes on the site for another Technical Project article coming soon and focusing on the last weapon systems I currently need to paint – the AA guns!

Technicals – Improvised Weapon Systems

While writing Friday’s post I realised, except for a brief mention, I haven’t actually talked about some of the wierder weapons available from Spectre and how I had assembled them ready for hot-swapping into the technicals. Seeing as they don’t fit into either of the themes of the next two posts, and as a midweek treat, here is a quick post covering how the insurgents now have a bit of long range firepower thanks to the rocket pod and the BMP turret systems.


We’ll start with the rocket pod. As seen in a few conflict zones around the world, irregular forces struggle  to maintain attack helicopters in a civil war situation due to lack of pilots and supply networks. Instead of sitting around doing nothing, many groups re-purpose the under wing rocket pods – flipped upside down, mounted to a frame and put into service as bootleg MRLS system.

The rocket pod from Spectre comes in two pieces – the rocket pod itself and a support frame. This frame is designed to clip into the rack behind the cab on the technicals, making for a simple and easy installation if you don’t mind it being a permanent fixture.

To make it hotswappable, I had to make sure it didn’t require a connection to the bar behind the cab to stand up right. The pod could still rest on it but the main support had to be on the hotswappable part. In Version 1, I clipped off the front of the Spectre supplied frame to make it easy to attach the rocket pod and (because I was lazy) I simply stuck a piece of plasticard to the frame to hold it upright. Although it worked, it really didn’t look very good. So I went back to the cutting board.

Version 2 of the mounting was to tear off the original single piece mount (you can still see the gluing point on the bottom of the base) and redo it with two pieces placed just underneath the pod to give it support. This looks a lot sturdier while still looking like something someone threw together in a garage. The paint job was then applied – really simple job of Russian Green uniform and grey followed up by a Agrax wash.

Honestly, this is a weird piece of kit. It does scream “irregular forces” like almost no other (except maybe the BMP turret). I’m also not sure about how often I’ll be using it in a direct fire role, instead I can see it being used mostly as an objective or scenery as we saw in the first game using it.


Speaking of the BMP turret, I think I need to look at it in a bit more detail. In the original impression article, I really only covered what it was like when it arrived including the basics on how it goes together. I haven’t shown off the rest of the work I have done on it to get it ready for the table.

First up, a problem I encountered. Using the frame as intended (resting on the rear wheel arches) meant that the turret did not fit on top of the gunner preventing it from working properly. Even removing the hotswap base portion didn’t give enough extra space. So in order to get this ready for wargaming, I was going to have to do some tweaks.

My solution? Build a frame work as part of the base to raise the metalwork up slightly, giving plenty of clearance between the top of the gunners head and the turret. Being in a rush, I threw this together with a bit of give so I could work out the correct height and then come back to fix it. As you might spot, I didn’t go back and fix it.

And here is in its full painted (and heavily washed) glory today. The turret is painted the same colour as my other Bazistan vehicles to make it look like it’s been stripped off a regime vehicle. I actually ended up painting the gunner in situ so he’s colour scheme is a little simplistic compared to some of the other technical crews.

There is a certain amount of love amongst the local club when this vehicle appears on the board and it’s been christened “Tiny Tank”. As you might guess, it inevitably end ups on fire or blown up by an actual tank. On the other hand, the recoiless rifle in the turret can be pretty handy to pump out explosive rounds, either against lightly armoured vehicles (like Humvees or other technicals) or infantry dug in to cover. I have in the past used it with some extra armour to represent the turret

I am tempted to go back and tweak the framework to reduce the height slightly and make it the gunner isn’t exposed from the front. I’m also looking at adding some side armour to metalwork in order to project the gunner from side shots, as well as adding somewhere to stick militia slogans onto.


Overall both these weapons are a neat addition to any insurgent force. You get add a bit more firepower, able to level the playing field against better trained forces. You also get some kit that is exclusively suitable for an insurgent force, really helping it to look like a group of fighters in desperate times. After reading the Osprey book on Technicals, I’m already looking at some other slightly odd weapon setups to extend the rag-tag look.

Come back on Friday to see some more Technical weapons.

Project: B-Town – Part 1: More Impressions and Project Begins

It’s time for a new project! With the completion of Operation Dragon’s Hoard, my scenery projects have run dry (and less full of downed planes and dust). However, that doesn’t mean my terrain collection is all good to go. Since I started wargaming, I’ve slowly been collecting more and more MDF, all ready for a day when I run a full size game set in a city (as planned for a future part of the CGS series).

As you can see by my picture of shame taken in March, there is a lot of MDF to paint. And what’s worse, it’s all assembled (due to me mainly wanting to write about it) so painting is going to be interesting. To help with that, I’m organising it into a new project. Nicknamed “B-Town” the aim here is to assemble, modify and paint all my MDF to make it suitable for a modern day urban area somewhere in Bazistan/Aden. The target is to use this process to learn modification techniques to turn simple MDF into more detailed structures, learn painting techniques to get the terrain painted quickly and effectively and work on assembling the required scatter terrain to really make the scene look more realistic and interesting to play over.

This project is going to take a while and I’m sure I’m going to find ways to keep adding to it but for now lets start by taking a look at a few new purchases.


In my initial look at the Sarissa’s North Africa/Colonial Range, I focused on the big boys – multi-storey and street filling structures that are specific to range. However, there were also a few smaller buildings that Sarissa offer that I hadn’t picked up in the initial order. After having built the others I realised that maybe I should pick some up to use as prototypes for painting – after all, I’d rather ruin at £10 building than one of the larger ones.

As before, both kits arrived in the usual Sarissa packaging. It was interesting to see that the small building was only on A5 MDF rather than the cut used for all the others. Quality was high as ever and assembly matched pretty closely to the kits covered in part 1.


Small House

The first building in this set is the smallest building in the range. It’s also super simple – two doors, five windows and a lift on/off roof.

The rear view shows more of the access points as well as some of the laser cut details

With the roof removed, you can see the interior. It’s a simple single room with two entrance ways. I had an issue where one of the greyboard panels where it seemed reversed but managed to fix it by trimming out the


House – Two Storey

Building 2 occupies a similar footprint but extends it with another floor, including a balcony.

As you can see from the rear there is an additional door onto the ground floor. It’s interesting to see that there are no side windows on the ground floor, making it easy to outflank but limiting entry.

Like other buildings in the range, the interior are empty cells. An interesting note is that due to the same plug system used for the room, the ground floor could be replaced with the one storey house or the two storey could be converted into a single – with two doorways, it’s perfect for a security office in a compound.


Picking up these two buildings, really started to let me see some of the possibilities you can get with this range. Although the large buildings are very impressive, multiple small ones will help to quickly make any neighbourhood large, especially as they could be used in a modular fashion to make a wide variety of different buildings. I’m not going to rush to pick up more but it’s something to think about for the future.


Of course, I can’t leave you with just a simple impressions piece. In between my time at work, I managed to get some paint onto buildings. As planned, I’m starting with the smallest Colonial building to work out my method.

Due to the fact I’m working with buildings that are already assembled in this project, I can’t start from a sensible place like base-coating on the sprue. Instead, I’m having to mask areas I’m not wanting to cover in textured spray, such as doors and windows.

So here is my process for the first building. It’s not 100% finished – I’m still debating adding window glass on the inside.

  1. Assemble
  2. Mask off windows and doors
  3. Textured spray with roof on
  4. Remove masking pieces and roof
  5. Spray Black Undercoat
  6. Spray Grey Undercoat
  7. Spray White
  8. Dusting of Tan spray on the lower edges
  9. Paint doors with a dilute blue to bring out the lasercut detail
  10. Nuln Oil wash for vertical surface, Agrax Earthshade for the flat surfaces
  11. Roughly paint/drybrush white
  12. Apply scrunched poster, hit with a Nuln oil wash

For a first attempt I’m reasonably happy. There are a couple of things I’m going to tweak. First of all, I don’t think I need to spray black AND grey. The grey is pretty dark and it covers the main role of the black (covering up the black and white of the textured spray/giving the same “dark up” feel that my figures have). The poster is something else – I think I over handled it causing it to tear and smudge. A layer of wash was needed to stop is standing out too much but I used a dirty brush. Next time, clean between uses.

The big thing is I’m going to take a bit more time on future spraying. I painted up these relatively quickly (probably 1.5 evenings) which meant I didn’t leave the spray paint long enough to settle. This lead to some odd textures and cracking you can see if you look closely. If anyone asks, it’s just the plaster cracking. Another tweak will be to change the final finish colour – looking at buildings in Yemen (the geographical area of Bazistan) and there is a nice mixture of colours from white to shades of brown. Due to the fact the buildings share many of the same features, a colour tweak will make the city look a bit more varied.


What’s next?

The next part of the project is going to work on the other colonial buildings so I can have a core set of buildings painted up. However, I need to look into some detailing parts to help them look more modern such as air conditioning units, metal bars around the windows, wiring and aerials. I already have a few but I want to expand my options and see what is out there. Having now started this project, I’m really looking forward to getting a board covered in painted up buildings.

Impressions: Spectre MENA Regulars

It’s safe to say that most ultramodern games will probably end up with high tech Western forces up against irregulars. However, sometimes you’ll need some more uniform looking MENA forces to either act as the OPFOR or to act the role of the locals being advised or assisted. At Salute, Spectre released their first wave of MENA Regulars and I just had to pick them up.

The release goes for the classic look of these forces, with the combination of PASGAT helmet, body armour and Russian weaponry. There are three packs available, with a six figure squad set armed with assault rifles and two support packs. There is a nice variety of poses for a squad in combat (with a combination of shooting and moving under fire). As you’d expect from Spectre, there is a really nice level of detail to the squad; things like different types of body armour and a variety of AK patterns (including some with folding stocks) help to make the squad look a little better equipped than their militia opponents while not quite being up to the same level as their Western advisers/opponents.

For painting, I went for the classic 3 colour desert camo along with green body armour and helmets. I used a few slightly different shades of green for the armour and helmets (although its hard to see on the final models) which was then dusted with Medium Grey to make it look a bit dustier. The desert camo is a little different from other models as I made the Camo Beige splodges slightly bigger than I have previously. I quite like painting this camo as it’s relatively easy with only three steps and simple shapes.

As well as the main squad, the first release includes two support weapons – an RPG gunner and PKM machine-gunner to help deal threats that the normal squad can’t.

As a little bit of extra firepower, and after seeing the pose on the gunner, I realised that this squad could do with some mobile backup. For this reason, I built up a technical weapon using some bits box elements and the base template I’ve used on previous weapon systems. I’ll go into more details in a future post (as well as looking at other weapons designed for Technical Bravo) but I’m happy with how it came out. It will also be a nice backup for other Bazistan Army vehicles.

Of course, you may already have some troops for your MENA Army. Eureka and Empress also produce figures in similar kit. As you can see above the sizing is pretty close. Although the Eureka figure is a little on the small size, the helmet and gun are still to scale. Overall, I wouldn’t have any problems using them together (for example when you need the whole Bazistan Army).


Bazistan Army troops (accompanied by Bazistan SF elements) engage an opposing militia on the streets of Bazi City

So what do I think of these guys? I really like them! They have Spectre’s usual high quality with great poses and detail and are perfect for any less well equipped nations – I’d even be tempted to use them for nations outside of the MENA region such as African Forces. Apart from one guy with a slightly elongated neck, my only other comment is this group could be a little too uniform if you were wanting some really crap Indigenous Forces. However, this won’t be a problem for long – from talking to the Spectre guys, we’ll be seeing more MENA regulars coming soon with different weapons and kit. I’m really looking forward to getting these guys on the table.

Operation Dragon’s Hoard: The Final Run and Post Mortem

This post should have been appearing back in March. However, General Winter came a calling and the final run of Operation Dragon’s Hoard was delayed due to the show being cancelled after an unexpected amount of snow.

In my last post on Operation Dragon’s Hoard, I covered some major tweaks I’d made to the plane to make it look more crashed. I also covered some other tweaks I’d thought of making to add some extra detail. However, I ran out of time to make these alterations. They might be something I come back to in the future but honestly I think the game looked pretty great anyway.

The only other tweak I haven’t previously mentioned was to add some low cover for the insurgents. This was the Spectre Jersey Barriers I covered last week. This low cover was designed to give the militia a bit more staying power, especially after the great explosives massacre that was game 3 at Vapnartak.


After a night spent in York and a 1:30 drive down to Newark, Peeb and I managed to get to the Gamer’s Lounge to set up one hour before opening. Everything was really well organised, with easy access to the venue and plenty of parking. The switch over to using bubble wrap rather than the foam blocks continued to be a better choice. Unfortunately, just after setting up we spotted some large chunks of plaster surface that had cracked in transit and would need repairing. Luckily there were some big chunky terrain that could cover it up.

As you can see, we did a few little tweaks to the game layout. The biggest addition is the construction buildings from Supreme Littleness Designs, adding some much-needed vertical elevation to the board. Combined with the jersey barriers, it now looks like the plane has come down close to an abandoned building turned militia stronghold. I also assembled the two adobes to be a little less square. Is this practical town planning? Not really. Does it look better? Yes.

During the first game of the day (traditionally run between myself and Peeb while everyone attending was in “look around the show” mode) we had a good few pieces of action. This was the shot just after one of the operators loosed an AT4 round down range to knock out the MMG team on the first floor. Adding in the multiple levels really helped to make the game more interesting, especially as it gave the insurgents a slight advantage in a few cases.

And here it is again from the Operator eye view. Picking up the teddy bear stuffing and painting it for smoke clouds really adds something to the game.

Later in the game, four of the operators stack up on the edge of the plane.

Partway through the game, one of the RPG gunners spotted a possible shot by threading his explosive payload under the wings. Instead, thanks to a scatter roll, he managed to catch himself in the blast radius.

Game 1 ended with the BLUFOR having wiped most of the enemy off the board, popped smoke and then began to retreat with black box in tow. All at the cost of one killed operator and some injuries.

Board reset for game 2 – a few different operators ready for the players to use.

As always, blowing the cockpit is among the first objective everyone does.

For game 2, I decided to tweak the setup and have a technical waiting on the board. Thanks to a very low body value, this turned up once the players had started moving and so required a bit of careful planning. In the end, the technical managed to cause some injuries before being shredded by close range assault rifle fire.

What couldn’t be planned for was a lucky RPG shot flying straight across the board to hit a Good Samaritan trying to heal up an injured colleague. The RPG was a perfect shot and 6D10 damage has a habit of overwhelming even body armour.

I spent the final game talking to a few people so didn’t see much of the action. However, it sounded like the insurgents caused a fair amount of damage to the oncoming operators.

With the last game done, it was pretty quick to get the game packed up and begin the drive back to York. Overall, running a game at Hammerhead was great fun. Although I kind of wish we had been in the main hall rather than the Gamer’s Lounge so as to get the most eyes on it, it was still quite busy. The team behind Hammerhead was great, with plenty of emails and help on the day to making running the game super smooth. I also got some really nice feedback and advice from the Mantic rep at Hammerhead which made me start planning ahead.

Also The Terrain Tutor covered my board in his video – click here


With this being the last run, and no more game days planned due to real life work, I think it’s time to look back at the project.

First up,

What Went Well:

  • It Got Done – This was a project that went from initial concept to execution in just over a year. I managed to get four runs out of the game, going to multiple different shows and getting a lot of people to have eyes on the game. Everyone who played it seemed to enjoy it so it’s safe to say mission accomplished
  • Crashed Plane – The crashed plane, the very expensive cornerstone of the map, was a risk. But in the end if fulfilled the role I intended it to have – it caught the eye, with plenty of people rubbernecking as they walked around the various shows.
  • Scenario – Simple idea (recover crashed plane), multiple fun objectives (especially with multiple BLUFOR players) and a great show of the Plausible Deniability’s rules with stealth and new weapon systems.
  • Gradual Evolution – Although not the traditional way, varying and improving on the game between shows meant that even people who had seen the game before still stopped at the table to check in and look at the tweaks. It also meant that the work was spread throughout the project rather than being front-loaded before the game even hit the board.
  • Skirmish Sangin – I finally got to show Skirmish Sangin (and my book) to people. A common phrase said while near the board was “I’ve heard of Skirmish Sangin/own a copy but I’ve never played it”. As it’s a ruleset I very much enjoy (enough that I wanted to write a book for it), getting to show it off was really great.

That said,

What Didn’t Go Quite So Well:

  • Game Length – Due to the game lasting 2 hours, we only managed to get 3 games run through at each show. With game one normally being between me and peeb, this massively reduced how many people actually got a chance to play. When I next run a game, I’m going to aim for something closer to 1 hour. As for what I would change I’m not sure. Possibly reducing the number of figures or switching to a slightly faster playing ruleset.
  • The Boards – I used my Ford Fiesta for transportation which meant I had limited space. As much as they looked fantastic, I’m in half a mind if I would use moulded boards again. They were very heavy and had to be repeatedly repaired after breaking chunks of the surface up.
  • Pick Your Team – This was an idea I had to take advantage of the cards I had printed for the teams but as cool as the idea was, it didn’t quite work – it was very hard to balance and I’m not sure it was as exciting as my brain thought it was.
  • Multiple Missed Targets – As you may have noticed, a few of these posts included comments about “not managing to do tweaks I’d want to”. This meant there were ways I could have improved the game but missed out on due to time. Next time I think needs a bit more planning.

Overall though, the Operation Dragon’s Hoard game has been a pretty great experience. I got to go to various wargames show, get people playing moderns and show off something I’ve made. I’m already thinking a game we might do next, possibly inspired by the recent trip to London for Salute. So maybe you’ll be seeing another set of project posts coming soon. But not for a while – I have to work out where I’m storing all this stuff.

Hammerhead 2018

Okay, so I may have said I was not doing a Wednesday post, but while writing the Operation Dragon’s Hoard focused article I realised that it was turning into a bit of a monster by combining show report and post mortem. Instead, I’ve brought forward the post with all the pictures to today! So here’s my coverage of Hammerhead 2018:

Perhaps the biggest thing for me, as you might expect, was that I was running Operation Dragon’s Hoard in the Gamer’s Lounge along with Peeb’s Gaming Nonsense. Full details coming in Friday’s post.

However, I did make some time to speed around the rest of the show and take some snaps of the various games.

Zomski was a combination of Chechen War and Zombies. With a board packed full of cover and teeming with combatants it was certainly a sight. Did it need zombies? Who can say! That said, it did seem pretty busy when I swung past.

I didn’t get a chance to spot the rules this game was playing but it was certainly one of the most eye catching. I do like the teddy bear fur look for North Western Europe.

A very well put together game of Sharp Practise 2 from Harrogate Wargamers. Every time I see a game of it, especially one looking this nice, I will admit I do start planning a force for it….

Leeds Wargames Club brought along Conn Sonar. I really liked the look of this game when I spotted it at Fiasco and it’s cool to see their method of allowing submarines and surface vessels on the same board.

I think I saw this board (or a game similar) at last Hammerhead. However they had tweaked it slightly, with the addition of a crashed glider and a UBoat pulled up on the dock.

7TV’s new board was showing off their Apocalypse range. I’d seen TM Terrain working on this board over on his Facebook page and missed it at Salute so getting to see it finished was fantastic

Indian Mutiny game up and running – spotted a few familiar buildings amongst the town which drew the eye.

The massive Battle at the OK Coral Board – I believe this ended up with the overall “Best Game” award of the day. Wild West is something I enjoy from afar but haven’t yet been pushed to jump into.

A Lord of the Rings game? Haven’t seen this being played for ages but it was cool to see Corsairs being rumbled.

With What A Tanker being the recently released game for tank fighting, it was interesting to see someone running Tanks!

The other modern game in the Gamer’s Lounge was this large scale battle of Germans vs Russians. Some inventive methods for doing hedgerows .

The final game was a massive Science Fiction game using some hex base terrain.

So that’s all the games I spotted. Details of Operation Dragon’s Hoard will be in Friday’s post as well as some thoughts on the show.

Spectre Jersey Barriers

If there is one thing any gamer knows, every battlefield should be littered a number of chest high walls perfect for hiding behind and funnelling enemies into killzones.. While thinking about balancing out my demo game and looking through my list of unassembled projects, I realised that I could kill two birds with one stone by building some more cover points for the insurgents. Time to assemble some Jersey Barriers.

The starting point was Spectre’s Barricades Alfa. I bought this pack ages ago when they were first released and really liked them (as you can see in my original scatter post) but never got round to painting them. Part of this was working out the best way to use them. I could leave them loose for the most flexibility but it would put them at risk of being constantly knocked around by stray arms and vehicles. The other option, slightly more limiting but likely to look better, was to put them into groups. This was the option I went for.

The first step was assembling the bases. I went for some straight-ish elements that look like emplacements without being too rigid. Like most of my demo board terrain, these were made out plasticard with filler laid over the top to form a surface. The ground was them covered in PVA and dipped into sand to add some texture. After that, they were sprayed in various colours. Black basecoat, then grey to give the concrete colour. Finally, I sprayed the ground colour used for my boards, aiming to hit mostly the ground elements and only a small dusting on the concrete (to show the sand resting in the gaps). Nuln oil on the grey was then used to darken it down and bring out the cracks sculpted into the surface. The final element? The traditional Iraqi sand drybrush.

After all that, here is the final project. The texture generated from the sand and a spray can drying issue has helped to catch the drybrush and make the dusty look I have on most of my terrain.

And here is the reverse view. As you can see, there is a really nice level of detail. I’m tempted to add a little extra to the barricades by painting on graffiti and other messages from the locals.


There we go, some new jersey barriers for my troops to use as cover/learn to vault over. I’ll be putting them into action this weekend at Hammerhead, giving the Insurgents some firing positions for their RPGs while also making the new partially constructed buildings feel more like a construction site rather than just in the middle of nowhere. I’m now looking at my other scatter terrain and thinking about the best way to use all of these small items.

(This wasn’t the post I had planned. However, I had a few issues this week which didn’t combine with Hammerhead prep very well and so I had to prioritise. I hope you enjoyed it!)

Final reminder – I’ll be at Hammerhead tomorrow running Operation Dragon’s Hoard. Look for the board with the crashed C130 in The Gamer’s Lounge!

Impressions: Osprey New Vanguard Technical

The historical wargaming hobby has many aspects to it for people to enjoy. One of the aspects I particularly like is learning the period as it’s a great way to learn tactics, be inspired for scenarios and find references for paint schemes. When looking for information, one of my favourite places to start is Osprey Publishing’s various ranges. Well written and formatted and with great artwork to illustrate the subject, these books help to provide a great overview. So when they showed off their new releases for April 2018, I noticed one book in there I just had to pre-order.

Written by Leigh Neville, who has also done several books for Osprey (including the RAID book on Takur Ghar and the hardback Special Forces in the War on Terror book that lives in my reference pile), the latest book covers a subject that has been featured quite heavily on here – Technicals! So for the latest part of Project Technical, we’re going to take a look at some reference material for building your own fleet of vehicles.

The book is the usual form factor for Osprey. Softback, 48 pages and colour throughout, the formatting makes the book an easy read. It’s also packed full of pictures (at least one on each page on average) and includes 13 pieces of Peter Denis’s incredible artwork. There are a whole host of base chassis shown ranging from the classic pickups to Land Rovers and trucks.

The book kicks off with a basic introduction to the concept of the technical as well as looking into the very early roots of the idea. A small section then looks at the most common weapon systems found in use with the technical. After that, it runs through various key conflicts the technical has been involved in starting with Beirut and The Great Toyota War in Africa, passing through Somalia (including an interesting bit of information on an alternative origin of the name “Technical”) and the Balkans before looking at their use in conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. It’s a pretty comprehensive look at the history, with a focus on showing the various unique vehicles from each theatre. This is a great inspiration for how best to make your technicals stand out.

Finally the last section jumps the fence and looks at the use of technicals by Special Operations forces. This section covers the whole history of them, such as the use of Land Cruisers in Gulf War and some details on Russian technicals. There is a lot of information I here I hadn’t read before, as well as plenty of photos of pickups with the Special Operations modifications I have on my own Spectre vehicles.

Do I recommend the book? Wholeheartedly, yes. I think it’s a great little reference, covering all aspects of the topic with a great level of detail without bogging down trying to tell you them. The pictorial element helps to bring the information to life, showing off the weird and wonderfully variety of things people have made.

The only problem with the book? It would have been nice to have last year when I started building mine own collection of these vehicles!

If you want to pick up your own copy, it’s available in PDF, ePub and physical copy over on the Osprey Publishing website. You can also get it via Amazon – you’ll find two affiliate links below (pointing to the UK and US stores)