Wargaming Week 23/07/2018

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 16th through to the 22nd of July.

BLOG STUFF

This week’s post was a Range Impression of Eureka’s excellent ANP sets. I’ve really liked using these guys on the field, both for their look but also for the different opportunities they provide for a BLUFOR player. Going back and looking at these older ranges is really making me want to break them back out and write a few scenarios for them, ready for when I get a chance to hit the gaming board again.

Now I just have to finish painting the subject of Friday’s post…

NEWS

 

The Spectre preview train is a-rolling and they are showing off some more scenery options. And in the case of these walls, finally! Those walls were previewed last year at the Spectre event and I’ve been quite looking forward to them – chest high cover is pretty much vital for most battlefields so having some pre-made stuff is great. As well as the walls there also appears to be some stacks of boxes and supplies that seem interesting. More news when these get released and then I can finally get round to decorating my Knights of Dice buildings by adding some extra cover.

Spectre also surprised us this week with another release! This time we’re looking at the extended version of the Razor, seating four “internally”(as much as you can be on this vehicle) while still leaving the rear cargo bay free for storing kit and munitions. The kit uses the same upgrades and crew as the original vehicle (which I looked at back in my impressions) but there will be some additional crew and stowage options coming soon to take advantage of the change in setup.

Finally we’ve got a small update on the LAV-III from Full Battle Rattle Miniatures. The pre-order program is going to be finishing off at the end of the month and they are not quite at the goal they need to guarantee production. The end goal is the 29th of July – if they have reached the target number of vehicles production will begin, if not refunds will be going out. I’m really hoping they get the numbers but if not, I’ll still be picking up some Canadians to take a look at. Fingers crossed they work something out.

PURCHASES

I may have bought some more stuff for Dungeon Crawling. We’ll take a look at that next week.

HOBBY

Bases! Finally all of my odd sized purchases from Salute are finally on MDF bases. It only took them three and a bit months but they are one step closer to being ready for the tabletop. I’m going to sit down at somepoint and get everything that is waiting to be undercoated done. I’m quite excited about getting the bikes and animals ready for the table top – it should hopefully make missions involving the local population a bit more interesting.

I also managed to order the wrong bases sizes so for the next 40 or so guys they are going to be on slightly bigger bases than everyone else. But no one is going to notice, right?

Look, fantasy figures! The Frostgrave Soldiers box arrived and I eagerly jumped in with plastic glue and clippers. So far I’ve built half the figures from the box but, after seeing how modular they are, decided to pick up a sprue for the barbarians and cultists and get to work doing some hybrids. As such, construction has stopped until they arrive. However my greater concern is seeing how many bits are left over on each sprue after using the bodies. I’m gonna need a bigger bits box.

Also the painting of Germans has continued. I’ve gone back over the first colours and made sure it’s neat before getting into the camo on all figures BUT I managed to sit down and finish off the first squad. I’ll be going over the paint job in the post but it’s definitely one I wasn’t happy with until the final stage. More details on Friday!


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

Wargaming Week 16/07/2018

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

Blog Stuff

This week’s post was another Range Impression, taking a look at the Empress SAS in Afghanistan. Despite this being some of the oldest sculpts I own, you can tell I really like them. Expect to keep seeing them in battle reports for as long as I need some scrappy contractors.

So I’m coming off a short break away, lets talk about how the blog is going – think of this as a mid year catch up.

First up, things have slowed down a bit as you may have noticed. I like to keep blaming this on work but it’s not entirely the reason. I think I’ve been a bit bogged down in trying to get big chunks of my collection painted and so the motivation has just dried up. This hasn’t been helped by the fact I haven’t been down to the club to play for a while so the cycle of “painting to be ready to play a scenario” has been broken some what. It’s probably going to get worse before it gets better.

Second, I’m thinking of diversifying a little bit. Remember back when I’d post stuff on Wednesdays? Well, I think I’m going to return to the occasional post as part of running some side projects . I can already think of three little projects that will let me vary up what games I play (and figures I get to paint and assemble) in addition to the moderns that dominate the blog.

  • Fantasy Mercenary Bands (using Open Combat): I like my fantasy on the more realistic side, dirty peasants fighting horrible monsters with the occasional magical lunatic when things go horribly wrong. Open Combat is also a ruleset I’ve been really interested in playing, especially after talking to the writer at Chillcon. I’m also looking for a wargame that I can put together and [lay in a lunchbreak. Combing these elements together and I think it’s time for some dungeon crawling. There may even be some written material coming out of this
  • British Airborne at Arnhem (for Chain of Command): My holiday read has been Anthony Beevor’s Arnhem book. Aside from getting massively annoyed with the blunders of high command, it re-awakened my desire to get a platoon of Red Devils in my collection. I’m also thinking of using this as an excuse to improve my green stuffing and conversion work – the plan is to make a few of the troops look a bit more battleworn while also assembling patrol markers and jumping off points. My target is to get this ready by September 2019, in time for the 75th Anniversary
  • Deathwatch Kill Team: KILL TEAM IS COMING BACK. As someone who blames the original KIll team for my love of small scale tactics games, the idea of new version fills me with joy. I’ve wanted to pick up some of the new Primaris Marines for a while and a game that only needs a few is perfect. This will probably be the shortest project, as I’ll be picking up a single box and rulebook to get ready for it

Don’t worry! This blog is still going to focus on Modern Wargaming – it remains my main love for wargaming and so the Monday and Friday posts will remain the same. The change is that every once in a while you’ll get something a little bit different.

News

So the news! I may have been away enjoying some time off in Yorkshire venturing outside, but this didn’t stop exciting things happening in the modern wargaming world.

Phalanx Consortium and Radio Dishdash have been showing off some more shots of their figures for their upcoming Kickstarter! I’m really liking the look of these guys – I’ve had some misgivings about the Day of the Rangers figures but these look improved.

Spectre have also been showing off some upcoming terrain detailing products. These are some air conditioning units and TV aerials, a good shorthand for making many terrain items suitable for the modern day. EDIT: These are now out and available on the Spectre site!

I’m going to be buying a lot of them for my Bazi City project.

Also OPSEC at Spectre HQ seems to have dropped, those greens look pretty exciting.

Under Fire Miniatures have some brand new releases. As well as 20mm sets, the first of the RhSAS are now out. Pack one includes two RPDs, an AK and a FAL. The pack also comes with small packs and bergens, letting you set these guys up for either long range patrolling or close in fire fights. I’m looking forward to seeing what other figures are coming soon.

In a follow up to last week’s post, White Dragon Miniatures have shown off the detailed version of their Hesco combinations. As you can see, they’ve added some sand to make these look used and ready for combat. I love the single Hescos and these walls should help make some really cool battlefields.

I’ll be keeping an eye on these, and maybe I’ll be building that FOB sooner than I originally planned.

Purchases

As part of diversifying, I picked up the Frostgrave Soldiers box for my Open Combat project. I’ve kept my eye on this since I first started investigating the idea of wargaming something other than moderns. Expect a post coming soon looking at the box and describing my plans for the project. It’s gonna feature sewers.

I bought some bases. I still hadn’t got round to basing many of the figures I bought at Salute (those donkeys need ). They are MDF bases. There is nothing exciting about them.

EDIT: With Spectre releasing their terrain items yesterday, I picked up multiples of the Air Con and Satellite Dishes to get to work on my Sarissa North Africa Buildings. I also, after checking through my collection, realised I was actually missing two of the Russian Breachers with half height shields and so added them to my order, all ready for when I get round to covering the Spetsnaz range.

 


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

Range Impressions: Spectre Task Force Nomad

In the past my impressions on this blog have been focused on the brand new, the recent arrivals, the purchases just made. However, there are plenty of figures that I have sat in various boxes that haven’t been written up on the blog (especially in this new format). So I think it’s time to break open the old model boxes and take a look at what’s inside. To begin with, Task Force Nomad.

I’ll admit, this was not a range I rushed out to purchased. When they were first shown (back in 2016) I though they were neat but not quite was I was looking for at the time. In fact, it would take me a year (and seeing the figures in person at the Spectre event) before I’d drop my money and jump on the low profile train, picking up all the figures in the collection.

Task Force Nomad is based off multiple images of SOF troops in the Middle East wearing a mixture of local clothing and modern kit. This allows them to pass as locals at distance, without affecting their combat capabilities in the same wear as wearing entire local clothing and equipment would. Much like another range I’ll be taking a look at soon, these guys are all rolling rather fancy setups – from the Crye Precision style clothes to the SIG MCX rifles and other, more exotic support kit. As a rule, they all also have silenced pistols stowed in their robes, perfect for when you need to switch to the more offensive stealth. Spectre has done a feature video showing off the inspiration for the range that is well worth a watch.

But now, lets take a look at the models

Riflemen

First up, we have core of any range of figures – the riflemen. Despite maybe not having all the cool gadgets, troops armed with assault rifles form a multi-purpose block in any fight that can be vital for winning the day

Task Force Nomad is no exception. The range currently has four operators just armed with rifles, split into two packs. There is a nice mix of poses from up and engaged to directing fire (a shoe in for the squad leader figure). The guys are using SIG MCX rifles and these are tooled up, with red dots, magnifiers, lasers and suppressors all equipped. The MCX in this case is, according to the description on the Spectre site, using .300 blackout. This chambering is designed to easily switch between subsonic rounds (for ultimate stealth action) and supersonic rounds with only a minimal drop in performance giving the user great flexibility when operating covertly. On the tabletop, this just means they are going to be really good for stealth missions.

Support

Once you’ve built your base of shooters, you can then add your toppings of specialists. The Task Force Nomad range has no shortage of team members with special kit to help out.

The first pack builds upon the covert nature of the group giving you a pair of troopers armed with suppressed MP7s, complete with the usual package of red dot and laser. The SMGs will have less hitting power but are better at the quiet work, so these guys are ideal to lead your forces in, able to pick sentries off at close range without waking up the neighbourhood. Just a warning though – the barrels on these are liable to bend slightly so I recommend careful handling, especially after they first arrive.

The rest of the support options seem to have forgotten the whole “stealth” thing; they are really there for when the shit hits the fan and the silenced pistol won’t cut it. Case in point: the shotgunner. Armed with the Origin 12 semi automatic shotgun, the version modelled is the short barrel (without even a suppressor) but with a PEQ box (laser) and red dot. Now, I’ll admit, the Origin 12 offends me on an asethic level (and the fact it seems to have replaced the AA12 in the role of “cool combat shotgun” doesn’t help) but it does get results on the tabletop. Normally when you need to cut your way back out of a situation.

The other way of getting out a bad situation has got to be the airburst grenade launcher. This is one of those guns that screams “ultramodern”. The XM-25s abilty to detonate at a preset distance helps to remove the effectiveness of cover, something that comes in handy when having to fight through a defended position. The only downside to this model is that he doesn’t seem to have any form of secondary weapon other than his pistol, making him much more of a long range and loud pick for the team. He is also the one that is most obviously wearing Crye Precision kit, as you can tell from his kneepads. Fitting that the gucci looking operator would have the future tech!

The final option, and one that has appeared on the blog before, is the Task Force Nomad Sniper. Armed with a Barrett XM500, a bulpup and modernised version of the classic “Light Fifty” M107, giving your covert team a long range reach with a bit more precision than the XM25. Either as a heavy sniper rifle or an anti-material rifle, this gun is a monster when used in the game, especially when combined with an elite character’s high shooting skill. I really like the figure, especially when you start picking out the details like the rifle bag he is currently sat on.


Usage

These guys are cool, but how best to add them into your games? Well the big thing about them is that these guys is that they are special forces operators through and though. You might be able to get away with using them as high end contractors (the type usually seen ambushing the SF heroes when the conspiracy is revealed) but these guys are going to be near the top of the skill chart. They do however work for pretty much any western nation (the MCX, while not a service rifle, has been purchased by USSOCOM amongst other).

You could use them as low profile operators on a mission, sneaking around an enemy settlement and trying to avoid guards. Alternatively they could be rolling around the desert in local vehicles and meeting in the middle of nowhere for a prisoner exchange or to gather intel on a target. Finally, you could scatter a few amongst a militia force as mentors, teaching the local force the best way to carry out their objectives. I’ve used these guys as the stealthy team trying to reach the hostages while the main group of operators kicked in doors and made lots of noise – you can read more in my battle report covering the “rescue” of the Geordiestan Ambassador.

Something else to think about is how you’re going to paint them. They are designed for the middle east but a few tweaks and a different paint scheme can totally change their feel. Going for a darker, more urban look and they might even fit into a “The Division”/post-apocalyptic game as a team waiting to ambush unaware groups.

Conclusions

Overall, this range provides the option for an elite force that uses many of the same painting skills you may have gained while getting your OPFOR together. The cloth detail from the cloak adds some interesting textures and the combination of old clothing and modern kit is great once the paint job is finished. On the table, a Task Force Nomad team is probably going to the point you break out the covert rules and add some patrolling guards to make life interesting. You can really use them to push the scenario side of play, rather than just being more operators in multicam to hit the table with. As I’ve said above, I wasn’t too fussed when they first released. But after getting them home and painted up in my style, I really like them! Although I do need to go back and repaint the sections where the wash has pooled a lot.

Wishlist

No range is perfect however and when I take a look at the options available right now, a few ideas stick out:

  • A LMG figure would be a handy addition when it comes to tactical options – letting you set up a proper base of fireteam that can still be suppressed, rather than immediately revealing yourself if the XM25 is used.
  • I’d really like to see another set of guys with carbines to give a few more of the basic team members. This would be even better if one is in a crouched position, ready to act as spotter for the sniper that is already released.
  • This might be more suited to being another range but it would be cool to see the operators slightly further down the scale towards looking like the locals and instead armed with Russian kit. Now this isn’t to say it should be totally militia-esque (the AK looks rather cool with a suppressor on) but a truly covert team (with just enough identifies to make them more than “well armed militia”) could be a neat addition to the collection.

Wargaming Week 02/07/2018

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 25th of June through to the 1st of July.

BLOG STUFF

This week’s post was part two of the Humvee project, taking a quick look at the Haynes guide for the vehicle. I really enjoyed reading the book and there are lots of photos that I’ll be working from when I get round to building up the rest of my fleet. The section on vehicle maintenance may not be the most useful but it does help to put my car issues in perspective!

NEWS

Oh boy this week’s news is lots of cool stuff

First up, Under Fire Miniatures hit us with a one-two punch of previews. The first was a step away from their current 28mm range to a brand new theatre – Rhodesia. Having already gone deep in this setting with their 20mm, I’m really excited to see their 28s. The first pack shown is Rhodesian SAS team of four guys armed with FAL, AK and two RPDs. Interesting to note they also have two style of packs in front, possibly hinting at some choice in how they are equipped – big packs for patrolling, small packs for assaulting. It hasn’t been stated if the packs will be moulded or separate but I’m looking forward to their release. Maybe it’s finally time to get some figures focused on Zaiweibo ready.

Part 2 was showing off the start of the Cold War American range, to go with the already existing Bundswher, Polizei, Volksarmee and Soviet troops. These guys are mid-cold war, combining the M16A2 with the cloth covered M1 helmets. Preview images show off what look like two rifleman packs and a command pack (complete with M60). In the comments, Under Fire have mentioned that guys in Fritz Helmets and body armour (perfect for the later years) are coming in a separate range. Of course, on this blog we’re more focused on the ultramodern. I could see these guys being used as Third World forces very easily.

The final news update for this week covers something big, green and rocking a 25mm cannon. Full Battle Rattle Miniatures have put up pre-orders for the 1/50 LAV III they have shown off recently. This pre-order campaign requires a certain number of units ordered (50) before it will be fulfilled. The final product is being developed with help from Trenchworx and will be a resin/metal kit. the LAV-III is obviously designed for Canadians but looking around it could be easily used with other nations like New Zealand (especially great if you have some of Radio Dishdash’s figures).

Now, this isn’t coming in cheap. A single vehicle is about £40 which is slightly more expensive than similar vehicles from other companies. If you are wanting to roll a group of them, there is a discount code which you can use if you pick up three of them for a slightly reduced price. I don’t forsee everyone jumping on this pre-order, and there is a chance it will fail to get the needed units, but chatting to Alex at Full Battle Rattle and the involvement of Trenchworx gives me some confidence. If you’re interested, this is the direct link to the LAV-III on the Full Battle Rattle’s site.

PURCHASES

Want to guess this week’s purchases? I’m going all in on the Canucks. I put my pre-order in for the LAV-III and tacked on the two packs of skirmishing infantry to roll around in it. This should give me a good force for Skirmish Sangin, with the possibility of adding them to another group (such as the US in their Strykers) for larger games. I’m planning to work on the Canadians differently to my previous forces, picking them up in smaller groups. I like the sculpting style of these guys so looking forward to getting them in hand and ready to paint.

I have a week off work coming soon meaning I’ve been looking at picking up some books to read for inspiration. Thanks to Anthony Beevor’s Arnhem being sat on my kindle, I’m having yearly desire to go pick up a box of Warlord Paras and start a new time period.

HOBBY

In a shocking turn of events, this wargamer actually did some painting! Rather then trying to re-motivate myself to finish off a few of the projects sat on my desk, I instead turned to the planned repainting of my Spectre Tier 1 Operators. My first attempt was a rush job back in x. Although they were okay, something about the colouring was off. This was compounded when I painted up the two later releases (female operator and breach). I resolved to start from scratch, so I stripped them, resprayed and now got to work on them. I’m going for a much more restrained colour pallet than last time, wanting to make them look a little more professional. Expect an article on them soon.


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

Wargaming Week 25/06/2018

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 18th through to the 24th of June.

BLOG STUFF

This week was another Building A Force article, looking this time at the Irregular Forces. It’s been 5 months since the last part so I’m planning to speed up the rate of these posts – they are quite handy to write on a busy week.

I’ll admit, I’m torn on these tactics articles. They always do incredibly well and people seem to like them. At the same time, I’m never 100% how the article is going to end up. Unlike impressions which have a natural flow to them, tactics articles are not quite as free flowing to write. My tactical knowledge mostly comes from playing games, slinging plastic BBs at people in fake battles (which is of dubious use) and a lot of reading; I’m always cautious about preaching concepts that I’m not 100% on. That said, if this is something people like, it’s definitely something I’m going to work on, especially when I run out of time to paint all the figures I want to.

NEWS

Three new pieces of news this time

First up, Crooked Dice are bringing out another pack to add to their range of cops. These four cops are armed with shotguns, filling the hole that original releases included. Although they come with some heads designed for a certain long running series, the bodies would also work well with the Lawman heads. I’m looking forward to picking up a pack to extend out the Argo Security Guards I have.

Photo from Too Fat Lardies

Next up, an update on Fighting Season from Too Fat Lardies. This is a ruleset that I (and many other people) have been really looking forward to since it was originally announced. In case you haven’t heard about it, it’s based off Chain of Command but updated for Ultramodern conflicts (primarily Afghanistan). I love Chain of Command and the idea of a ruleset ready for me to put a platoon’s worth of Brits on the table really helped to get my interest in the period going.

It’s been quiet for a while, and after a question about it was asked on the Too Fat Lardies Yahoo group and Rich Clarke posted the above response, clarifying that the game is on hold for a bit longer. Another response also mentioned some significant issues and work need (such as campaign systems for each nation involved) before they would be ready for primetime.

This answer doesn’t make me as happy as one saying “I’m almost done with it”. But I’d much rather the work be done on it when the author wants to be writing for it rather than just wanting to get it out. Fingers crossed we’ll see this one com

Finally, Full Battle Rattle Miniatures has shown off a render of the long awaited Canadian LAV. This has been a project they have been looking at for a while. The render isn’t final and there is going to be a few tweaks before it’s show time. However its going to be great once it ready, giving the Canucks a unique vehicle. I’m looking forward to it; picking up a vehicle and a squad of Full Battle Rattle’s infantry will be a nice start to a Canadian force.

PURCHASES

Nothing this time.

HOBBY

Again, another mad week at work. I just haven’t had the time to put paintbrush to figure. It’s just been posing some figures for this week’s article and scrawling down some more rules ideas. Between that and the ongoing lack of dice rolling, I’m starting to get hobby withdrawal.


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

Spectre Operations: Building A Force – Irregular Forces

In the last two posts in this series, we took a look at the basics of building a force, with posts looking at both task specific teams for infantry and the basics of vehicle use. In this part, we’re going to be taking a look at some of the points relating to more irregular groups. As with previous parts, this article is designed primarily for Spectre Operations but many of the tactics are valid in all modern skirmish games.

Irregular forces, by their definition, vary massively in style. They can be anything from untrained groups of fighters armed with nothing more than an AK and the shirts on their back up to well equipped groups that rival (and in some cases beat) the more traditional forces in terms of capabilities. However at a fundamental level, building an irregular force still relies on the commander identifying the goal and picking what is needed to fulfil the task.

So why am I writing a separate post for these less well trained forces? Why am I not just reposting the first article but changing the pictures? Well, Irregular troops normally don’t have all the benefits of national forces and so there are several points they need to think about.

Manpower

The first point to realise is that in most cases, your forces are going to be much less effective on a one to one scale than the regular forces you’ll normally find yourself up against. In Spectre Operations (and in most games), this will mean you’ll have a lower chance of hitting when shooting, be more likely to become suppressed (as there is no cap on your and will lose in a close quarters fight in one to one combat. Put simply, the bulk of your guys are a bit shit.

However, it’s not all bad news – after all, quantity has a quality all of it’s own. If you play with points based forces, your militia and trained soldiers will be much cheaper, meaning you can more easily flood the board with forces. If instead you play scenarios, most of the time the writer will give the irregular forces a significant numerical advantage, either through just have more guys on the board or letting casualties be recycled back into place (perhaps representing militia fighters finally getting into position before joining the battle). As many of the battles wargamers play will feature teams of SF operators assaulting locations, the irregulars will often be on the defensive, often letting you setup in positions and dare the enemy come towards you.

Having a numerical advantage doesn’t guarantee a victory but it can certainly help. Especially when you consider the next point.

Redundancy

Put simply – you’re gonna need a bigger squad. Seeing as the . If you were working from some of the teams from the first article, I’d probably add two or four more guys armed with assault rifles to add some extra firepower or “ablative armour”. An alternative way to keep your force moving is to take additional smaller squads armed simply, without machine guns or explosives, and use them as supporting units to your task orientated squads. This lets you leverage your greater numbers, protecting your main force by engaging first with lighter elements or by outflanking the professionals.

Special Weapons

At the same time, you get some useful weapons. The stereotypical irregular group (seen everywhere from Afghanistan to Sub-Saharan Africa) has two aces up their sleeves – the RPG-7 and the PKM Medium Machine gun. Both of these weapons are encumbering so you’ll be slowed slightly while using them. On the other hand, they do provide a massive benefit. The MMG has a longer range than the SAWs most modern forces are armed with, has a greater lethality and can also cut through body armour and light vehicles thanks to the armour piercing rule. Sustained Fire also lets you spread the fire across multiple troops, useful when fighting Professionals and Elites who can only take a certain amount of suppression. The RPG on the other hand is all about causing damage. Although it can’t fire indirectly like a UGL, it’s more than capable of putting suppression down on a large group. Additionally, it can also help when engaging enemy vehicles depending on which warhead you use.

By combining these two weapons together, your basic squads will be able to kick out a lot more firepower than your enemy might be expecting. There are also other weapons that might be handy to include in an irregular force. A common trait for many of these is Armour Piercing, helping to make your guys more effective against enemies wearing body armour or vehicles. Adding Light AT Weapons or Sniper Rifles help up your ability to take out more heavily equipped opponents while also allowing for more flexibility in your deployment.

Body Armour

To many, using body armour in a wargame helps to differentiate the better equipped and trained forces from their irregular opponents. However, body armour is increasingly available to the general population and in certain situations, it’s not inconceivable that some insurgents or militiamen might end up wearing kevlar.

So how best to use it in your own forces? Body Armour helps to reduce the lethality of shots that hit and so can help to keep your guys alive for a little longer. However, it is quite expensive for what it does so it might not be worth equipping your entire force with it, especially if your forces are mostly in the lower end of the training spectrum. Instead, outfitting your best trained and armed teams with body armour will help to keep them safe while moving up to their objectives. The rest of your force will just have to focus on sticking to cover and moving quickly.

Other Equipment

As well as body armour, there other items that are worth thinking about taking:

  • Radio Comms: A key deficiency in most irregular force is the relatively low command rating. This can make recovering from incoming fire or performing orders a little hard. Unless of course, you’re not using your own command value. Setting up a radio network between your commander and the rest of the force can really add some back bone to it, keeping them active for longer than you’d first expect.
  • Personal Medkits: Insurgents are normally pretty squishy. Being able to affect the lethality of incoming fire can help turn an instant kill into a light wound
  • Tactical Ladders: When double checking the equipment list, I noticed that Militia and Trained soldiers can actually take Tactical Ladders. Not the first thing that springs to mind, but being able to get your support weapons up to elevated positions and keeping off the streets will help to
  • Grenades: As with RPGs, explosives are the great leveller when it comes to taking people out. As well as the usual Frag Grenades, a neat alternative is the Molotov Cocktail. Causes area damage, puts up a small smoke cloud and can block off locations by putting fire in the way. Just don’t drop it.
  • MANPAD: When the operators arrive, they’ll be up to their eyeballs in aerial fire support platforms located just off map. However, a trooper with a Stinger will potentially throw a wrench into your opponents plan when they attempt to call in helicopter support.
  • Dogs: Something else that you’d normally associate with the Operators, but then you’d forget the humble Guard Dog. While the opposing team is trying to sneak around, the dogs will help to reveal hidden units. Once the alarms goes off, your canine friend can rush off to bite the bad man.

We’ll discuss some other bits of equipment and support (mostly the stuff that goes bang) for the irregulars forces in the next instalment.

Conclusion

Overall, irregular forces present a slightly different challenge to the better trained and equipped regular troops. You’ll need to organise your forces carefully, rely on any advantages the situation gives you and be aware of your limitations. If you are aware of all these tweaks, you can easily outfox and out fight your better trained opponents.

In the next article, we’ll take a look at the heavier weapons an insurgent force can bring to the field, including emplacements, technicals, off map resources and even the sneakier tricks of modern warfare.

Wargaming Week 18/06/2018

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, a weekly look at what I’ve got up to over the last 7 days in the hobby, covering the 11th through to the 17th of June.

BLOG STUFF

It’s Humvee time! The start of a new project needs a big post and this initial impressions piece certainly fit the bill (coming in at almost 3000 words). It was however quite fun to write!

NEWS

No news this week – come back next time to see what’s coming up.

PURCHASES

Nothing this week – I’ve still got tons of stuff to work on.

HOBBY

The main hobby this week was my Tuesday evening, spent assembling and taking photos of the recently arrived HMV kits. It was one of those great hobby occasions where a plan is in effect and there is a key task that needs doing. I just got to sit back, put some TV on and spent the time cutting, gluing and photographing. The only downside was having to rapidly put the rest of the article together due to how little time I had to get the writing side done due to work and travelling time.

Apart from that, I haven’t managed to do much else. My Friday and weekend were spent down in Leeds seeing family for the Father’s Day festivities so apart from assembling a rough plan of my next Humvee order there was not much hobby.


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

Project Humvee – Initial Impressions

You know, after the 9 posts that was Project Technical, I think it’s safe to say that pickup trucks with guns mounted on them are pretty great. On the other hand, there is something to be said for a vehicle that is actually designed to carry a group of infantry over rough terrain while carrying a heavy weapon and not assembled in some backstreet workshop. The Humvee is an icon of the post Cold War conflict, be it on the streets of Somalia, the dusty highways of Iraq or attempting to climb the mountains of Afghanistan.

I’ve talked to Spectre for a while and when they mentioned they were looking into making a range for the HMV, I was immediately interested. This interest grew with every update, especially when they showed off the various elements to the range. More importantly, I started planning out all the various combination of turrets and weapons I would need, gather reference material (see below) and soon enough the realisation hit home that this would be a brand new project.

The first wave arrives – along with some reference material

As with all projects, we’re starting with the initial impressions. We’re going to take a look at the basics of the range in their rawest state and act as a basic primer before moving on to tweaks and painting in future posts.


Construction Details

First up, the basic details. The HMV range is mainly produced in resin with the only required metal parts being the various guns you attach. From talking to the Spectre team, I discovered that this is the first product that Spectre have produced in resin in-house, primarily as a way of fixing the supply issues previous resin releases have had and allow them to do more in that area. In fact, if you check the vehicles collection page, you may notice a lot more things in stock.

Most of the finished product is great, with nice deep detailing in most cases. I did noticed a few air bubbles and slips (including a chunk out of a bumper) but no more than you might see from other similarly sized producers. In most cases I was able to hide the issues during construction or fix later with green stuff or thin plasticard. As with all resin models, I recommend cleaning them in warm soapy water (especially the wing mirrors). There was a fair amount of cleaning up to do with most pieces and some of them (such as the doors) were very easy to crack or damage while removing from the sprue. Overall, the experience was pretty much what I would expect when buying a wargaming ready kit – it rewards a little bit of careful planning ahead.

Base Variant

Of course, all vehicles have to start somewhere and even in a modular system there is a core set to buy. In this case, the HMV package includes what is in the picture above. Most of these parts are used in all variants although some, like the rear bumper are replaced in various upgrades. As always – DRY FIT EVERYTHING BEFORE PICKING UP THE GLUE.

Once assembled it looks like this. Immediately you can see just how detailed the vehicle parts are. I have my doubts how long the wing mirrors will last under constant gaming use, but there is at least more material to glue together with these compared to the metal bits in the technical sets. I’ll talk about the turrets more later but it’s great to see them spinning pretty freely.

The rear view shows off the special piece you add just for this version. The armoured section behind the cab turns this truck into the light cargo hauler/utility variant. Not one you’d always see in combat but it could be useful in a convoy situation. With the right turret setup, it could also be pretty great for various NGO forces that want something tougher than an SUV while offroading.

One comment is that this kit is only £16 for a good-looking vehicle. Combine this with Upgrade Alfa and a M2 and for around £20 you get a classic Humvee all ready for somewhere not many people are going to shoot back at it.

Chassis Upgrades

Of course, as cool as the basic version is, it’s highly likely you’ll be needing more than just a 4×4 pickup truck. So to help this out, Spectre have three upgrade packs available that take advantage of the modular design

HMV Upgrade – Alfa

If you’re wanting to make the classic design, this is the back you need. Sloped back covering the boot (or trunk) and a front mounted bullbar for smashing your way through any obstacles you might meet such as parked cars or insurgents getting in the way.

One simple install later and the shape seen on a thousand news broadcasts arrives. I can see this upgrade is probably going to be quite popular.

HMV Upgrade – Bravo

If you’re finding the Technicals to be a little too vulnerable for karting your operators around, than Upgrade Bravo is certainly worth looking at. Like Alfa it upgrades two parts of the vehicle, adding an IBIS TEK style front bumper (for even more smashing potential), a new rear bumper and an armoured open-topped box to surround the cargo bed. This box also includes a new rear hatch, allowing assualters to quickly mount and dismount when on operations.

Assembled and you can really see the change in shape that the new rear section adds – perfect for adding stowage to (either inside or on the sides). Additionally, the front bumper looks mean although the sheer size of the thing might make turning a little interesting.

HMV Upgrade – Charlie

The last upgrade pack is an interesting idea. Rather than new chassis, this just adds some new extra detailing elements. These are:

  • 2x Smoke Grenade Launchers
  • Spare Tyre
  • Spare Tyre mounting point
  • Additional weapon mount
  • Microwave Antenna (for jamming primarily)
  • 2x aerial mounting point

One thing with these is that most need a fair chunk of material removing before they were ready for use on the vehicles – the actual items are actually quite small so take care when preparing them.

When mounted on the vehicle, these elements really add the little bit of extra detail. The aerials go into slots at the rear of the common hull, meaning they can be used across any vehicle – the second aerial base went on the other Humvee I’ve been working on. The additional gun mount simply adds another post with the mounting system many of the newer weapon systems have while the spare wheel just looks cool. I had mounted the smoke grenade launchers on the vehicle (you can see the super glue marks) but they were removed so I could spin the larger turrets 360 degrees without the front shield clipping.

This pack feels like it’s designed to go with Upgrade Bravo, but I think it could be used with other variants. For example the spare wheel mount could go on the back of the boot panel and the additional weapon mount could go inside a turret for mounting some close in firepower. I really like the fact the aerials fit into slots on the base chassis making them incredibly useful.

Doors

A key part of the Humvee throughout it’s life has been the arms race between where the vehicle is deployed to (and what people shoot at it) and what sort of armour it carries. This has led to some interesting changes in visual profiles of the vehicle as more and more armour has been added to what was designed as a utility vehicle. Luckily, Spectre have included some options to let you up armour your vehicle.

By default, the core vehicle comes with lightly armoured doors moulded into the chassis. These doors have lots of detail on them and look pretty great, even down to the towing hooks needed if the doors are jammed shut. In most cases, these doors should be pretty great. The only comment – these doors are flat sided which means that a basic level of armour is on them. They are very much designed for post 9/11 and onwards. Depending on your local group, you might have a few people pulling faces if they turn up in early ’90s Somalia.

However, if you are rolling into serious trouble, you might want to invest in the more heavily armoured doors. There are two version available:

  • Door Armour Alfa (left) upgrades covers the windows, making them bulletproof while still able to open for troops inside to shoot out of.
  • Door Armour Bravo (right) covers more of the door making it more resistant to damage although it does prevent the troops inside from shooting out

As much as I like these additions to the vehicles, I did find the doors troublesome when removing from the excess material. There wasn’t a major cut off point visible to say “this is model” and “this is flash”, leading to some irregular edges and some overzealous trimming. It might be a case of me using the wrong tool for the job so I recommend being careful, otherwise you’ll be hanging some damaged armour off the side.

Turret Options

Of course, the other major feature on these Humvees is the turret on the top. As wargamers, this is probably the most important detail for us – we need to know what heavy weapons we’re rolling in to games with! The main common fact is that these turrets all have the usual notch that all the Spectre modern weapons fit into. I haven’t managed to run a full test of all the weapons to see what fit but it’s safe to say most of the sensible ones will work just fine.

All of these turrets are quite light, with only a thin ring to attach to the vehicle rather the plug some other companies use. I’d recommend being very careful when moving vehicles around off the table, lest the turret drops off and onto the floor. Adding a crew figure and some other upgrades should help to rebalance them. Speaking of crew, the distance between turret ring and the “floor” of the turret section is relatively short so expect the crew to be trimmed slightly, probably at the knees. Also, several pictures on the Spectre website show a plug covering up the turret ring. This is currently unavailable but may be released soon if you’re wanting to make a more civilian looking 4×4.

Final point, be careful when accessorizing your vehicle – positioning certain upgrades (like smoke grenade launchers) may stop the larger turrets from swinging freely.

Turret Ring

Included in the base variant, the turret ring is super simple to set up, with only two parts (turret ring and hatch). The hatch design is common across all the turrets and although it doesn’t close completely (the front half of the hatch is moulded onto the other half) you can still assemble it buttoned up or open.

Turret Alfa

Building on the turret ring is Turret Alfa, including a half height armoured panel and a gun shield. The gun shield fits onto the rest of the turret really easily with a big solid bar and socket. I also mounted the basic M2 .50cal – although it’s not designed for the half circle mount like the more recent guns, it has plenty of resin to bond to.

Turret Bravo

For proper armoured protected, Turret Bravo is the way to go. Based on the OGPK kit, this system has bullet resistant glass in both the gun shield and protective turret, giving the gunner both protection and visibility.

For this turret I added the SF version of the M2. As you can see, the under weapon light makes it a quite tight fit with the armour shield but as you can see – it looks pretty beefy.


All this analysing is cool but what am I doing with my vehicles? I haven’t yet got round to painting or adding the stowage (that will come later in the series) so for now, here are my first two Humvees.

Vehicle 1 is the first of what will be at least a pair of “Patrol” Humvees. This style is probably the most common in use and can stand in for pretty much any force. The Patrol Humvees will probably end up wheeling around US Army or Marine troops, especially if I get round to playing some of the Skirmish Sangin scenarios I’d previously avoided due to lack of Humvee. Similarly, the turret I built with it is all about being the most used setup I’ll go to.

Vehicle 2 is expanding out the SOF vehicles I have in my collection, giving them something a bit sturdier than the RZR or Technicals. It’s using both Upgrade Bravo and Charlie which, combined with the armoured doors, make it perfect for getting into the midst of the action and dropping off the assaulters on the X.

The original plan was to mount a minigun in either the turret or the rear section but due to stock issues I settled on the SF M2 in the turret (also a test to see if the two extremes of large weapon and massive turret would work) and one of the M240s from the twin GPMG mounts. The idea was to make it look like a proper mount and more like one of the troops had put their own MMG in place for the ride in before dismounting it later. I also placed it close to the spare tyre, working off the idea that it will provide a little cover. This is a vehicle that will definitely need a lot of extra stowage added to it.


Of course, no vehicle is ever used by itself so I’m going to do the photo comparisons and talk a little about cross compatibility.

EDIT: I realised that I missed out a photo showing off the vehicle compared to infantry figures. Here is the Spectre Humvee with a Empress SEAL (WIP) and a Spectre Ranger.

Can’t have a new release without some comparison shots. First up we’re looking at the Spectre vehicles, in particular the SF set. As you can see the Humvee is massive compared to the RZR and still chunkier than the Technical.

Looking at another Humvee available, you can see the Empress and Spectre vehicles are pretty similar from a distance. Up close, the Spectre vehicle is slightly larger, both in length and width. The M-ATV continues to dominate over all comers.

Speaking of other makers how do the Spectre parts compare? Well I’m not sure I’m rushing to replace all my turrets just yet. The Empress turret rings are slightly larger and, although the Spectre turrets fit and mostly cover up the hole, it’s not quite as smooth as the original. However, this could be easily fixed with some plasti-card.

Going the other way, I think the Empress vehicle crew will work well but you will need to build a floor up for them as they are cut off at the waist and maybe a little too short for your liking.


So after a first look, what do I think of the range? Well, the HMV set is the set to get if you want the most detailed Humvees currently on the market. Apart from a few minor issues (and those flipping doors) everything was really easy to get out, clean up and build. The end results look great, and I can’t wait to break out the paint and get them on the table. It would have been nice if all the weapon systems had been in stock on release day and a few new crew figures would have sweetened the deal. I’m interested to see what is coming next for this range – hopefully extra weapon systems (like a MK19 for the less SOF looking teams) or maybe a few smaller weapons (like a PKM or a M107 on pintle mount) ready for mounting in the back of the Bravo upgrade.

NEXT UP

That aside, what’s coming next in Project Humvee? Step one is going to be looking at adding the stowage and getting painting on these vehicles. Next month I’ll also be picking up some more turrets (and hopefully crew for them) to give me all the options I might want. I’ll also be picking up two more vehicles to build. One will be the other Patrol Humvee but I haven’t decided what to do with the last one.

Some people have made some really cool mothership Humvees laden down with cargo for other vehicles but I’m tempted to go a little more “Middle Eastern Militia” with my fourth vehicle. Battlefield 3 has a really cool DLC called Aftermath which included some jury rigged vehicles. The Humvee based system, the Phoenix, has a MK19 launcher in a forward facing turret in the back of the vehicle so I may work from this and create something suitably bodged. I’m going to have a think, but keep your eyes open for more updates from Project Humvee coming soon!