Wargaming Week 20/01/2020

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 13th through to the 19th of January.

Blog Stuff

I got back to my fantasy project! Really happy with the response to the first post -this has been a side project I’ve been working on during my downtime last year. I’m really excited about actually getting the figures on the table – both for the gameplay but also just because they are some lovely models!

I’m also really excited as I’m playing around with a setting I’ve worked on with a really good friend of mine. She’s been cranking out maps of the various countries alongside our world building and I can’t wait to show them off!

NEWS

Speaking of fantasy, here is a nice upcoming release from my local MDF wizard, Supreme Littleness Designs. He’s making some modular Frozen City ruins, perfect for any skirmish game where you want some verticality. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on 4 Ground for when they are released.

Next up, Black Site Studios showing off a pile of scenery perfect of some fantasy skirmish gaming. I’m a big fan of their stuff, and this bundle seems perfect for making a board suitably dense for that style of game. Definitely something I’ll be thinking about soon.

And just to prove I haven’t been lost to swinging swords, Tabletop Tactical Simulations is back with another truck kickstarter! This time, they are bringing a range of Ural trucks to the tabletop, perfect for any number of theatres as long as you paint them right. I’m usually put off by the fact it’s 1/56 but I have to admit, I’m kind of tempted to give them a look and see how well it works.

PURCHASES

Nothing!

HOBBY

More painting, all thanks to my 15 minutes+ a day. It’s really good for just getting small stuff finished. For example, these two turrets – sat on my desk for literally months while getting the energy to paint the camo on the gunners. However, I managed to get them cleaned up and good to go. These are both for the Bazi forces, something to make their Humvee’s pop out among the legion of US vehicles. Additionally, I don’t fancy coming up against either of them in a dark alley!

Speaking of not fancy fighting them, the other two things finished this week was my second LTV and the monstrous Land Warfare RWS with its 30mm cannon, ATGM and coax medium machine gun. I really like this kit, and having two of them means I can deploy a full 8 man patrol under protective cover. Next stop, convoy.

Finally (inspired by my Christmas game of Chain of Command), I started playing around with a test figure for my own Empress British. I only managed to get the base colours on, but it looks the right tone. I’m looking forward to only having to do a single piece of camo gear, as opposed to a whole figure. Fingers crossed I’ll finish this guy off this week.


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

Project Fantasy Skirmish – Update 1

So it’s been a while since I last talked about Fantasy Skirmishing. Mainly because, like a wargames butterfly, I was distracted by something shiny and disappeared off into doing non-wargaming things for a bit (as well as losing motivation). However, this didn’t stop me picking more models and continuing to think about adventures

Name Change

First of all, you may notice the name of this project has been changed. The reason is pretty simple – after finally settling on a story or setting, I realised dungeons would end up only being a little part of the games I’d want to play. Sure progressing through a maze of tunnels is fun, but so is ambushing carts on a forest road, brawling in the local tavern or even sneaking past the town guards through the streets of some fantasy town.

The other reason was the lack of chandeliers in most dungeons.

Setting

I mentioned setting above. Well, I’ve been talking with a friend, often about story ideas, and we came up with a fantasy setting to base some of them in. The world takes a lot of inspiration from other fantasy settings, along with a few twists of our own. Now, it’s still in development, so lots of things keep changing with it. You might see a few names change even between posts on this blog.

This is the continent of Eutanica, one of many on the Lonely Sphere. It is split between two rival kingdoms. In the North, the King of the Dark Elves rule – his navy crosses the seas to bring back slaves and plunder from other continents while worship of the twin Elven gods of War and Shadows powers his armies. In the South, the Queen of the Iron Kingdoms gives praise to the Morrigan, her nation a patchwork quilt of smaller kingdoms united under a common ruler. It advances ahead thanks to bottling lighting and using it to power a host of machines, from weapons of war to great Iron Ships. These two powers, once almost close to being united through friendship, were torn apart by a flashing blade and now exist in a state of semi-war.

And in between these two superpowers? The Marches.

Comprising of multiple smaller nations, The Marches are what have stopped these two greater powers from attempting to wipe each other out. None of these independent kingdoms has the might to challenge the Dark Elves or the Iron Kingdoms but neither would they be simple to overrun and subject. Instead, this separation has started a cold war, with both superpowers seeking to improve their influence over the buffer, gently pushing the balance of power. Both powers send their agents, such as the dreaded Dark Elf Shades and the Swordmasters of the Iron Kingdoms to assemble alliances, impress the locals and generally push their agenda forward.

And this is where the players come in.

The idea

I am a fan of narrative wargaming, to put it mildly. So my concept for this project is that each fantasy skirmish will be wired together to form miniature campaigns. Each “campaign” will represent a single quest, with the players picking small groups to represent their adventuring companies. And like every quest, each will begin with a meeting (sometimes in a tavern), progress through the mission’s various stages (with smaller battles) and usually end in some terrifying finale against a dangerous foe (ranging from rival agents to the undead to servants of the Elder Gods).

The actual battles will probably be fought using Open Combat, giving a versatile tool kit to build everything from a ratman with a knife up to Greater Demons of the Dark Prince (…maybe… if something goes very VERY wrong for the players). I’m only aiming for small battles so we don’t need to deal with things like ranked up groups. Open Combat is also relatively easy to bolt stuff onto, so weird effects like magic shouldn’t be too hard to stick on.

Painted Figures

Of course, all these games need figures. More importantly, my collection is full of unpainted fantasy figures that someone bought and the painting logbook is merciless. Let’s take a look at what I have done so far.

Iron Kingdoms Ruffian

Ruffians, rogues, scum of all kinds. A good recruiter will find them throughout the Marches, even if their quality does vary from soldier to soldier.

First model painted, this is a Ghost Archipelago crewman. The main thing here was getting used to contrast paint for the skin and painting things other than camo. There are going to be a chunk of these Ruffians assembled and painted. Mainly because these guys will form the core of most adventuring parties or (if not chosen) be causing havoc while working for rival employers.

Lacelle “Gordelan” O’Dicca, Swordmaster

Swordmasters are the Iron Kingdom’s main agents in the foreign lands. Trained in the ways of the blade and the wit, Swordmasters travel around to push their Queen’s agenda. Lacelle is one such Swordmaster. As fast with her tongue as she is with her blade, O’Dicca is notorious for causing havoc and mayhem wherever she goes.

One of North Star’s Swordmasters, this was one of those models I just had to have. Painting the puffy sleeves (in Iron Kingdoms red and white none the less) was especially fun. She may not be on the board very often, but I guarantee she will cause havoc.

Benfrey Jochman, Swordmaster

Perfectly paired, Benfrey is the yin to Lacelle’s yang. While she is fast talking and emotive, Benfrey is usually quieter, lurking in the corner of the tavern waiting to tell the poor saps she has hired exactly what they will be doing. In battle he works perfectly alongside the quick strikes of O’Dicca, often delivering crushing final blows.

The other Swordmaster, painted up to be contrasting with Lacelle. At the same time, the red and white cloth at his waist shows off his allegiances.

‘Mouse’, ThIEf

For many in Eutanica, poverty can often be a bad harvest away. Luckily, ‘Mouse’ has developed a very special set of skills to assist her in redistributing wealth in her advantage. And for a fee, she’ll join your adventuring group to use them for other purposes.

I really like this little figure. Small than the others in the range, she just looks the very model of a fantasy thief.

Syghilda, Dark Woods Wanderer

Between the lands of Siccarius and Ruskov lies The Dark Wood. Many leagues across, this dense forest is a place of superstition and danger. Some say that the Elder Gods themselves stalk between those trees, their servants living alongside humans who fled into there thousands of years ago. Occasionally, denizens of this forest venture out to live among the more civilised people of Eutanica. With pale skin covered in strange eldritch markings, they are worthy warriors, unnaturally tough and strong.

This was a fun model to paint. Lots of exposed flesh to cover in my attempt at tattoos and then a bright vibrant hair colour to draw the eye. She fits the Celtic barbarian idea that the Dark Wood’s inhabitants are supposed to evoke, even if she is a little bit more refined.

Ser Renault, Knight of Fransya

North of the Iron Kingdoms, Fransya is ruled by a monarch but the individual peasants owe the fealty to one of 12 Knightly Families, each with their own traditions. Blood matters little to these families – a knight must prove themselves worthy of the name, often by embarking on quests elsewhere in the Marches.

Honestly, super simple to paint but super evocative. I love everything about this model, from the posing to the mix of armour and cloth. I went for a simple tabard, as this questing knight hasn’t earned the right to wear his house’s full colours.

Zarqaa, Farisian Demon Hunter

Hailing from a land across the sea, the Farisian Demon Hunters travel the world to slay creatures of the Elder Gods wherever they may be found. Painting their skin in ash to hide their presence from the beasts, they have many tools to banish or trap their prey. The gold on their cloaks can attract wandering eyes, but the large sword is often warning enough.

Another evocative model, whose back story was written while painting. The mix of weapons and layers of clothing were fun to paint – a light coloured lower cloth is probably all she would need back home but the other layers hold back the chill. Plus, I’m excited to introduce this sort of character into quests.

The Old Lioness, Iron Kingdoms ADVENTURER

Not all heroes can settle into a quieter life. The Old Lioness is one restless soul, happier travelling the roads than settling down to live by a fireplace. Strangely, records of a woman resembling her have existed for centuries, leading some to question just how old she really is…

One of the Heritor models. I really like this set, and for her, I went with the old adventuer look. Drybrushing on the grey hair is fun, but also adding touches like armoured plate beneath her clothing to lure in the unaware

Death Knight

In ancient places, far from home,
In tattered skin and browning bone,
Metal rusts, fabric decays, all goes below,
But Evil is a hardier foe…

I don’t have to say much – this figure is one of those that got me out of my funk and back into painting. It reeks of evil and malice, standing taller than most other figures, thin but also worrying. This is an enemy that will appear in the finale, the corroded metal and exposed bone there to terrify the players…

Cultists of the Undead

The dead should say dead, say the Covenant of the Iron Kingdoms. However, dark magics exist in this world and some mortal men wish to put the dead to other purposes. These necromancers often form cults around their work, offering immortality in exchange for service.

These were fun models to paint. I think my gold was a little too thick (I’ve lost some of the detail on the masks) but it is a nice contrast to the black robes and corroded metal. Plus great weapons to smash apart those goodie two shoes wanting to interrupt their master’s work.

Skeleton Cultists

Although skeletons with rotting clothes may have a certain visceral horror to them, loyal acolytes are much better when dressed as they were in life. And returning them as the undead means they are much less likely to tell the local constables exactly what their master is up to when captured…

These guys. Skeletons in robes have a glorious comedy to them even while looking horrifying for the part. I had great fun painting the bone thanks to how easy washes and well-sculpted figures make it.


So that’s the new update done. Obviously, I have a lot of painting ahead of me, and a lot of games to plan. I’m in the progress of planning the first few adventures (which is mostly assembling generic scenarios and working out the right bad guys for them) but the main thing is going to be finishing off the figures I have while trying very hard to not buy any more. One of the advantages of fantasy is just how many ranges full of shiny things there are…

And what’s next?

Elves. Damn, dirty, scheming Dark Elves

Wargaming Week 13/01/2020

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

NEWS

Spectre has awoken from it’s Christmas break with a pile of new updates and releases. First up, previews looking forward. We’ve already seen these heads before but now we finally get to see them all armed up. It’s an interesting set of gear – the foreground figure is armed with a Galil assault rifle while one of those in the background seems to be using a short machine gun. I’m going to be interested in seeing what range these guys are part of, but they should be an interesting addition to the collection.

Ah, time for the return of an old friend. Technical Charlie was the first vehicle Spectre worked on, as you might have seen back in the original Kickstarter as the PMC Technical. Up until this week, the only way to get your hands on this chassis was to go hunting on eBay and pay silly prices. However, Spectre have decided to bring this vehicle back, giving you another pick-up truck to add to your forces. They are currently on pre-order and should be arriving late February.

The only thing missing from this release is the PMC gunner with PKM sat on the back. Fingers crossed we’ll see this guy return to action.

Finally, Spectre has also added a new starter set to the website, giving you a simple and easy way to get in Spectre Operations. The pack, as well as the Version 2 rulebook, includes two 7 man squads of Elite Operators (Russians and Task Force Operators). Now, the weapons given to them are… interesting? They definitely give you a nice mix of equipment choices (and would be great fun to paint) although maybe not exactly the pieces I would have chosen for a beginners pack. The pack is available for a limited time but fingers crossed the idea of a starter kit will be maintained.

PURCHASES

My Mum and Dad were planning on buying me a Citadel Painting handle as a surprise Christmas present. However, it went missing in the Christmas Post and so didn’t arrive in time. However, they instead decided to purchase another hobby tool I’ve wanted for a while – an Army Painter Wet Palette. This is mainly to stop me from wasting paint, as well as to replace the horrible piece of plastic I’ve been using. In addition, to bring up the order to get free postage, I added one of the TargetLock Laser Line devices. More details once they arrive.

HOBBY

My “15 minutes of painting a day” continued (only missing Sunday) and I managed to get a few more figures done. One more fantasy figure, two Spectre operators that have been on my to-do pile for ages and the Spectre Adviser figure. Painting every day has been fun and it’s nice to get stuff actually finished.

Unrelated, that photo above is awful but it is much as I have. Hopefully some lights I have ordered should improve it


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

Wargaming Week – Christmas!

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the Christmas Break!

Blog Stuff

In a shocking turn of events, I actually got two blog articles done! And posted! I guess most of you have read them.

Before Christmas, I managed to get my impressions on the Sarissa Walled Compound finished. These kits have some great potential, and I can’t wait to get them onto the board.

I also managed to get up my battle report from Christmas’s game of Chain of Command. As always, I love playing it and this quick game has lit the fire under my backside to get around to painting up my own platoon.

and maybe a few tanks.

NEWS

Not much news as everyone was on their Christmas break, but Empress popped up out of nowhere with a release just around New Years. Their USMC Recon Pack is one I’ve been looking forward to since it was previewed – I love this style of figure, laden down with kit. This pack is full of wonderful details and weapon choices. I’m not currently playing Vietnam BUT this is definitely a pack that could be a great start for some long-range recce games in the light green.

PURCHASES/Presents

With it being Christmas, I got a few things hobby related things as presents. I usually end up buying myself models and paints when I need them (and but mostly when I want them) but reference books I go mad for them. This year, I was lucky to get two art books from games – Modern Warfare and Breakpoint. Although I think Breakpoint is a not particularly good game, the design work on it is packed full of possible inspiration. Modern Warfare, on the other hand, is a game I love and being able to see more about it – both artistic inspiration but also the development process. The final book, Leigh Neville’s Infantry Small Arms is just to keep me up to date with goings-on, as well as all the details.

In terms of purchases, I picked up a few things from Empress – the Middle Eastern Civilians and the new USMC Recce team. Both of these are sets of figures I’ve been excited about for a little bit, so I’ll be dropping some of my birthday money on them. I also grabbed some of the old Dark Elf Shades for my fantasy games. There will be more lore on how I’ll be using them soon, but they should be a fun set to paint up before springing them on unsuspecting players.

HOBBY

At the start of my break, I did nip back into work to pick up a few parcels, including some new arrivals from Spectre! As well as the new guys I picked up, I also got a lucky box! And first piece out was the cartel LAW figure that is as of yet unreleased. I also got a few other Kickstarter exclusives and some mainline figures (including the crouching Ranger).

But of course, the big thing over the holidays was beginning my 15 minutes of painting a day. This is my plan to keep on being productive with my painting pile this year but its also a great bit of relaxation. To begin with, I started taking a look at my fantasy project. Since December 23rd, I managed to get 12 figures finished. And frankly, I enjoyed getting everyone painted. When I have a few more ready, I’ll collate all my lore notes on them together and write up something for them.


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

Battle Report: “OPERATION CHlSEL” – Chain of Command

Christmas is the time I return home to Leeds. As well as family events, I usually end up using it to encounter my Regular Opponent and get a game of something in. This year, myself and Regular Opponent got invited up North to partake in some Chain of Command, my favourite set of WW2 rules (and one that I dearly wish was still coming to modern-day). With three of us ready to play, we decided to play Big Coc and, in between chuckling, started looking up all the tank rules we had not got round to ever using before.


As the only player who didn’t have a painted army (my Brits still sat waiting for me to get my act together), I took control of one of The Host’s armies. Seeing as the three of us are very interested in Operation Market Garden, The Host decided we’d be working our way up Hell’s Highway and he’d be the one blocking us with “old men and boys” (Translated from Intel: a Panzergrenadier platoon and a Panzer 4 platoon). My Regular Opponent was in charge of the Paras while I would be taking charge of XXX Corps.

While the other two rolled up support choices, I ( Lt. Michael Mather-Charge II of the Grenadier Guards) was presented with a simple force – A Sherman V with Senior Leader, two Sherman V’s with Junior Leaders and a Sherman Vc Firefly with Junior Leader. To provide support, a pair of Universal Carriers transported a section of Motor Infantry.

The other side of the game was the scenario. Rather than simply running a standard setup from the rule book, The Host instead decided to expand and make it a little more interesting. Each player received a different briefing, meaning that myself and My Regular Opponent actually had different goals despite being on the same team. Worse, we actually had different information as well, with our maps having different key locations on them.

Put simply, my goal was to capture the central plaza of Elst, before pushing north to continue on the road to Arnhem. However, I couldn’t actually get onto the board until the Paras had captured a foothold in the town referred to as HIGH TOP. Until they popped smoke, I was forced to sit on the sidelines (with my CO making sure I didn’t try any funny business). If I gained enough COC dice through lucky dice rolls, I could start off early – this task would be made easier if enemy armour was spotted from my Jumping Off Position or enemy infantry started to advance on the bridge.


Here we have the town of Elst, as it was established on our arrival at Our Host’s residence. Shown here is the bulk of the village, the bridge in the south and the road to Arnhem in the north.

As well as the road signs, this image captures three vital locations – the tall building known as HIGH TOP on the left, the leafy town plaza I was ordered to secure and the local town hall, which the German would have inevitably fortified.

The view from the bridge shows XXX Corps route of arrival. On the left, the first house in that row is also the bridge control building – it would be vital to secure this to prevent the Germans from cutting off the main advance.


Patrol Phase

Before the Patrol Phase had actually begun, The Host showed off his wonderful patrol markers, detailed with kettenkrads and scouts.

As the rest of the XXX Corps boys wait for the signal, a lone rifleman sneaks forward to spot the Germans moving into location.

Sadly, I failed to capture the useful photos of how the patrol phase actually went. The Para’s were able to get their markers relatively far forward, but the Germans stormed across the plaza and lockdown was achieved relatively quickly. German JOPs ran from the comms hut in the north down to the plaza, while the Paras managed to get one very close to HIGHTOP target building.


Combat

The Allies grabbed the first action… and thus began my dice rolling/waiting. However, the Paras were much faster. The third sections deployed into the roof of the northern farmhouse, setting up their pair of brens and marksman team.

In the Windmill, an Airborne sniper gently opened up the shutters and set up, his scope covering the road outside the church.

The other two sections of the Platoon also deployed and began their advance onto the objectives. The section at HIGHTOP moved relatively quickly, getting into the small back garden while the Bridge section moved through the cover alongside the road.

And not a moment too soon as the ripping paper sound of dual MG42s announced the arrival of a PanzerGren squad in the inn beside the bridge.

As the rifle team advanced, the MG team (pausing to cover 1st Section’s advance on the objective HIGHTOP) suddenly found itself under inaccurate light mortar fire.

Yep, the Germans had turned up with the 5cm mortar, digging in close to the church.

At this point, there was some discussion of how annoying it is the German mortar doesn’t come with smoke. My Regular Opponent is a big fan dropping all the smoke hey possibly can, influenced no doubt by the events of our first game of Spectre.

The Germans had snatched a double turn and immediately took advantage of it, opening up another hail of MG fire that put shock down Paras, forcing them to hit the dirt even while trying to move tactically.

The team at HIGHTOP also noticed more Germans advancing out of the Town Hall and again started wondering who thought this lot counted as “old men and boys”

The Paras also spotted a German officer come racing out of the Town Hall. This was Hans von Gruber, recently arrived leader of a new Kampfgruppe. Although not able to activate other units (the veterans are not going to listen to this unknown officer who showed up), his survival was a German objective.

And as a way of supporting that objective, the Panzer 4 platoon sprung into life, deploying the platoon leader and one of the other tanks onto the board. Despite the Paras reporting their arrival over the radio, a lack of line of sight to my JOP at the bridge meant we couldn’t deploy just yet, despite the rumble echoing between the buildings.

However, the tanks immediately got to work, hammering main gun rounds into the British secured farmhouse. The Paras didn’t take any damage, simply hitting the deck and waiting for the enemy gunners to realise they were just increasing the airflow rather than causing damage.

Meanwhile, at HIGHTOP, the Paras finally burst into the objective (vaulting through a downstairs window. At this point, the Airborne realised they would need to pop smoke from the top floor window and just how many stars would need to be climbed.

Of course, the plight of the Paras wasn’t helped as a burst of fire shredding the windows announced the setup of a tripod-mounted MG42 in the building across the square.

Of course, the MG wasn’t the only thing attempting to slow them down. As the team of elite soldiers pounded up the stairs, an explosion from the main gun managed to cut down two Paras. However, the section kept pushing, eventually reaching the top floor.

Not part of the action, just a good image of My Regular Opponent’s bugler in a pumpkin patch. Perhaps telling XXX Corps to stand ready?

The Panzer IV Platoon Leader decided now was the time to roll forward and continue engaging the Paras sat in the farmhouse.

The Germans continued to move forward, the camouflaged Panzer IV moving out to allow one of its comrades to join them in the AO. Additionally, Hans von Gruber’s staff car arrived, disembarking another squad of Panzer Grenadiers and allow the senior commander to prepare for this daring escape.


The Tanks Arrive!

Finally, even as the Germans prepared a force to retake HIGHTOP, they finally popped green smoke. Immediately upon seeing it, Galahad (one of my Shermans) was the first one over the bridge, spotting enemies dead ahead and preparing the machine guns.

Close behind Galahad was Arthur, the lead vehicle (and technically my command tank), storming across the bridge and preparing to flank around and meet up with the rest of the Paras. As they drove past the infantry in the row of houses, cries of “took your time didn’t you?” rang out.

Of course, this is where my inexperience with tanks showed up. After unleashing a literal mountain of dice to brass up the squad near the town square, the German player pulled out a CoC dice and shoved a Panzerschrek round up the rear of Galahad, immediately knocking it out.

Even as the first tank across started burning, the rest of my force appeared. Gaiwan (another Sherman V) moved past the burning wreck of its teammate while Lancelot (the Firefly) moved to link up with the command element and prepare to knock out the pile of tanks in the main square.

Additionally, the motor infantry arrived, preparing to support the tanks and secure the inn.

Speaking of killing tanks, the Airborne PIATs claimed the first Allied tank kill, the bomb lazily arching in to destroy a Panzer IV.

Inside HIGHTOP, The Paras began a desperate close-quarters battle. Leaving the Bren team upstairs, the Section Leader and his rifle team bust downstairs to secure the building. Grenades were thrown, killing some of the Germans before closing to contact. The end result? Even as the few remaining Germans fled outside, the only Para survivor was the Junior Leader, staggering back up the stairs covered in dust.

With the battle advancing, the Para Senior Leader hit the board, ready to take control of the Airlanding Section that had joined the assault.

At the northern end of the board, the British Paras attempt to fight across to the comms shack but ends up taking fire from the Panzer IV.

In another shock, the dreaded Ambush popped up again with the second round from the Panzerschreck team carved through the front armour of my command tank. Not only was it entirely knocked out, but the ammo cooked off, putting shock onto the Airlanding teams.

Due to the turn ordering, the Germans managed to box my armoured units in at the Bridge, kicking my Command Dice down a dangerous amount. Worse, the German armour platoon pulled in a Panther. Myself and The Regular Opponent started to get a little concerned…

…Until the Panther’s attempted shortcut through HIGHTOP simply ended up putting it into the cellar (we used a modified version of What A Tanker’s smashing through buildings). Worse, the damage to the building would mean it was about to collapse at the turn end.

And then the turn ended. Meaning the four Paras who had just survived so much now had to dig themselves out of the rubble and fall back.

Cruising past the wreck of their boss’s tank, the crew of Lancelot were ready to get some payback. Spotting a Panzer IV rolling forward, the 17pdr blew the tank to pieces, burning pieces of tank shredding the vegetation around it.

Time was rapidly moving on, and having spent the whole game fighting off the Allies, The Host suddenly remembered his objectives. Hans Von Gruber’s staff car, with the support of the Panzer IV platoon leader, put the pedal to the metal and raced down the board. Brushing off fire like it was nothing (including multiple sniper hits) the halftrack actually reached the very end of the board…

At which point we had to break out the “grenades on open-topped vehicle” rules as the Paras did a last chance rush on the vehicle as it slowed slightly at the gate. Despite one grenade bouncing back and causing shock, the Paras did manage to stop the vehicle in its tracks before dragging Von Gruber out.


After 5 hours of non-stop play/rules checking, we finally called it here. Looking at the various objectives, we decided that the Allies had won a pyrrhic victory – they had prevented Von Gruber from reaching his forces to the north and the bridge was secure but the Germans were still contesting the town plaza, the German Comms broadcast had been uninterrupted and a tank wreck just off the bridge would take some time to actually move it and open the road for the rest of XXX Corps to advance.

Once again, Chain of Command is a great game to play. Even just this one game has got me very excited about playing more, and was the kick in the backside to get a move on with my own platoon of Brits. Going to need some tanks of my own as well – having them in-game was glorious fun but definitely something I’ll have to practise with (and get more infantry co-operation).

Initial Impressions: Walled Ambassador’s Residence Set

As a modern wargamer bogged down in endless tiny conflicts in the Middle East, it can occasionally be difficult to find suitable buildings to fight through. Many I’ve covered here, but otherwise, you’re stuck picking up a whole host of generic adobes that don’t quite have the same feeling as the built-up and developed areas of key cities in the MENA region.

One key element of the more well-to-do areas in many of these places are walled compounds, either around public buildings and richer families. Differing from the adobe walls of the rural region (mostly through the visual side), these walls provide a very interesting set of challenges for a wargaming commander, forcing troops into killzones or requiring the use of tactical equipment to cross them.

In partnership with Footsore North America (formerly SASM), Sarissa Precision has released a range inspired certain compounds in Libya. To nitpick, technically the design on the buildings is closer to the CIA annex rather the main Ambassador’s compound immortalised in 13 Hours. However, no matter what the inspiration is, they do provide an easily purchased way to build up your own modern-day compound to storm/defend.


Walls

The key feature of any walled compound is, of course, the walls! Comprised of three pieces of MDF and two slices of greyboard, assembly on these sets are super easy. Wide piece at the base, thin piece at the top, place greyboard on each side. Done in literally 2 minutes. The wall segments are each 8 inches long and you get four of them in the separate packs (although only two of this smaller size are included in the Walled Ambassador’s Residence Set).

The main comment about these walls is the height. These are not minor obstacles, there are taller than a man and would require teamwork to cross. They would definitely do the job for marking out a protected building or just catching the eye when setting the table up.

I could also see them being easily modified with a few additional touches. Treadheadz on facebook has done some breached walls (something I may do with one of my additional sets) but there are plenty of other little tweaks. For example, some razor wire could easily be strung along the top if you really don’t want any visitors.

Posts

Of course, the wall panels above may look sturdy, but without proper support they will fall over to even the most minor explosive or errant arm. for this reason, most of the kits in the range include a common post design. The other elements have a pair of hooks on each side, that in turn slot into the posts for stability. The elements are also designed to match the base of the posts, removing any unwanted gaps in the base.

The vertical component of the post are actually four matching pieces. Two of them have slits cut to take the element hooks, while the other two are bare. The slitted portions have a pin that goes into the base, while their counterparts protrude slightly upwards, slotting into the top portion before being covered by a topping piece. By default, the posts are designed to be assembled as passthrough supports, connecting opposite sides to extend the walls.

However, it is important to note that the base has four slots that the bottom pins can fit into. This means that, if you wanted to add some variation to the look of your compounds, you could assemble the posts to make some right-angled turns or even create a T-shaped arrangement through the use of upright pieces from other posts. This does require a little modification, shaving down the top prong seeing as there is no longer a slot to slide into.

Corners

You could simply assemble the posts detailed above to create the corners of your compound, but the more visually pleasing (and more accurate) version is included in the kit. These curved walls are really clever in terms of construction, letting you have the curved shape, without losing the sturdiness of the rest of the MDF kits.

Rather being entirely MDF, only the core structure (the two end walls, the base and the roof) are made from wood. The actual curve is greyboard, with two interior pieces clamped between two exterior pieces. The design works really well – I’d also add the interior pieces can be put in either way around with no issues (the outer pieces covers any gaps).

Entrance

Of course, every compound needs an entranceway. And with this being a secure compound, it needs the proper place to check over anyone who approaches. The entrance is actually made up of several pieces, all tied together with the same hook and lot posts used in the rest of the system.

The main focus is, of course, the gate. A baseboard with two pillars attached (with slots on both sides for alternative uses), the actual gates themselves can swing freely letting you open and close them as the game requires. They can also be easily removed for storage (or if someone decides to risk ramming them mid-game). The gate style is definitely wrought iron and simple, but you could easily replace them with something different thanks to the ease of removal.

As well as the main gates, there are also two corner pieces. One is a normal corner piece (as detailed above) but the other is an armoured gate house. This has an internal door and an external window beside the gate. Much like the other corner pieces, it’s a similar construction

Now you may notice, I made a bit of a mess with it. I hadn’t realised that the inset piece is supposed to be a locator piece for the roof. I, of course, didn’t realise this until I’d glued it all together and then realised there was no way to access the interior. So I had to take a claw hammer to it to break the super glue before assembling it the correct way around. Luckily my textured spray paint should help to cover up the mistakes.

The entrance pack also includes an extra-long wall piece to match the gate assemblies size. This means you can easily assemble a square compound, without needing strange sizes of MDF wall. Apart from the size, it’s exactly the same as the normal walls.

Residence

Of course, there is no point in assembling an enclosed compound if there is nothing to enclose. The compound comes the Ambassador’s Residence, a medium-sized open-plan building with plenty of room on the room for a last-ditch defence.

So this was the midpoint of assembly and honestly, it was a pig getting the basic frame together. Things snapped, slots didn’t align and in the end, I swore quite a lot. I assume most of it was down to my own cackhandedness rather a particular design flaw, but be aware when assembling just in case you end up with a few missing elements to the doorways.

On the other hand, I am a big fan of how the edge of the roof is assembled. This is made out of three pieces of MDF per straight section. A central structural piece goes in first, followed by an outer piece (using the extended pegs from the roof) before a final, interior detail piece is added. I really like the effect this has – the roof feels like it has some real depth to it.

In addition to the main building, there is also a small single-room building. As you can see in the picture, it’s designed to be placed on top of the main building, taking the role of some rooftop quarters or interior access. However, I personally think it looks a little cramped, especially once figures, details and scatter are placed on the roof. This shed will definitely end up being used as a separate annex building.

Finally, a few touches I just had to mention. Both roofs have a ventilation unit in place. Although super simple (5 pieces of MDF, 4 of which are the same) I think it really adds to the look of the rooftop. Similarly, there is also a solar panel setup included on the sprues. It’s free-standing, so feel free to place it anywhere.


So that’s all the pieces, what does the compound as a whole look like? Well, here it is, along with a WIP vehicle and civilian to get a sense of the scale.

Assembly of the final compound is super simple. Using the hook and slot system, you just need to clip each piece together until you’ve connected them all up. The slots can be a little tight but I’ve not yet felt like something is about to break while building. There is also a useful amount of flex/give in the pieces once all put together – not enough for players to notice, but still easy to actually get everything apart again at the end of the night.

Overall the basic compound rough fills a two foot square on the board. This size definitely feels a little snug in my opinion, ideal for a single focus building (like a medium-sized house) and maybe. It does not fit anything like the Knights of Dice apartment blocks in its current state but can still fit some of the larger buildings from Sarissa’s other ranges (such as the colonial buildings). With the items included in the box, I’d also say it’s a little on the small side if the compound is the sole extent of the playing area. Without much dead ground to fill with scatter, games will end up being very short or not particularly interesting. This, to me, feels like a compound that plays a part in a larger table, without overstaying it’s welcome – somewhere for the players to be fighting to, from or alongside rather than just through.

Of course, this is just a bundle. You can buy all the various pieces separately – the wall pack, gates and corners all include plenty of posts while more of the residences would let you add additional structures in this style to your game. I have two sets of walls, a set of corners and another entrance gate. By using all of these, I should be able to assemble two of the normal-sized compounds or simply extend one out to a larger size, allowing for fighting actually inside the walls. Expect another article soon, once I’ve assembled all the various bits of MDF lying around my flat and have made some giant compounds.


Final thoughts? I think this is a great kit for anyone looking to play modern wargaming in a more built-up area. Being able to buy a series of walls that can be easily re-arranged and stored is a great time saver. The style of the kit could fit into most places in the modern world, not just in the MENA region. So no matter if you’re assembling a drug lord’s palace in South America or building up an embassy to be defended, I think this is definitely a range worth taking a look at.

Wargaming Week 16/12/2019

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 9th through to the 15th of December.

Blog Stuff

I am partway through writing up my initial impressions of the Ambassador’s Compound I showed off last week, mostly trying to get into details so everyone reading can know how best to pick it up and expand it. It’s a really cool set and I really want to get into detail on just what you can do with it. Also, I was busy packing up for Christmas Break that started this week. But it will be done soon!

NEWS

First up, Empress dropped 4 separate releases on us this week in their Ultramodern Civilian range. Now, being an idiot who read the news while on his morning off, I didn’t notice that these new packs have a new ID code on them “MIDCIV”. On closer inspection, these four packs are actually designed for use in the Middle East, as opposed to Afghanistan. There are some key designs to them that make them stand out but I think it’s safe to say they could possibly be mixed in with the Afghan civilians (especially if you’re setting your games somewhere more urbanised).

Once again, I’m very interested in these sets – it’s a sad fact of modern war that you can never have too many civilians to get in the way.

Squeaking in before the end of the year, Spectre has also put a few new figures out. Adding to their classic range of the African Militia, three new leaders are now available. As well as the big boss warlord with his M16 and M203, there are two squad leaders – one looking rather more like the rest of his squad, the other ready for the mean streets totting a revolver and acting as a common thug. There is also now an African crewman figure for your technicals, finally free from his prison on a page of the Spectre Operations rulebook. The figures look cool and independent, showing off the unique look these militias can have.

Additionally, we have got a little taster for a new set of figures joining the African Militia in the form of a pair of robed Nomad militia fighters, coming in a support pack (PKM and RPG). I’ll freely admit, I think I would have preferred to see these figures all released as one big event or even as a new collection. However, they have been released as a little bit of a tease of an upcoming range. They look like they will be a fun range, and with the right paint job, can be deployed to several locations around the world.

PURCHASES

I picked up the new Spectre releases! I know, shocking. The African Militia will join their buddies for when I finally get round to Zaiweibo but the robed chaps will be painted up as desert nomads.

HOBBY

This week was all about wrapping up at work and getting ready for some time off so my hobby time was less than zero. However, with this Christmas break starting, I should have plenty of time to get a little more done.


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

Actually, after looking at the dates, you’ll see more updates next year! Fingers crossed it will start off with post full of newly painted models.

Wargaming Week 09/12/2019

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 2nd through to the 8th of December.

NEWS

News this week out of Spectre – we have new African Militia on the way! As we saw in the greens a few weeks ago, there are two styles of African militia coming – some that look like an expansion to the existing range (with the sunglasses and street clothes) and other with a more Boko Haram look. I’m interested in both, but I can see the robed figures ending up in Arab style paint schemes.

With metal in hand, I can see these guys coming very soon…

PURCHASES

The only purchase this week was an unexpected one – someone at work was clearing out their hobby cupboard and put up an almost complete (i.e. missing three figures) copy of the Dark Imperium box. To cap it off, it was a 1/3rd of the price of a full box. So frankly, it was a steal.

Not planning on playing 40k with it, but I’m sure I might think up something to do with them.

HOBBY

Work is slacking off with us reaching a release, so I actually had time for some work. The first step was some green stuffing work. This ghillie suited sniper from Warlord has been sat on my desk for a while, plastic head and sten replacing the clipped off pieces. However, I only just got round to ‘sculpting’ the new hood to fill in the pieces. It’s not going to win an award, but should be good enough to setup this pair as a team of spotter and shooter.

I’ve also started work on one of my fantasy figures, replacing her hairstyle with one to match a favourite character from Overwatch. More details once I actually finish her.

Speaking of non-modern things, I finally assembled my Dark Eldar Warriors kit. Fun building plastics, rather than the metals of must of my games. I think the kit has some great parts but the posing is pretty limited. However, they should be fun on the tabletop for whatever I end up doing with them.

Finally, and the big thing this week, I assembled The Ambassador’s Compound from Sarissa Precision. A bundle of their compound wall range as well as a unique style of building, this pack was a pretty fun build. More thoughts in a blog post soon that I have already started writing!


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