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!

Wargaming Week 11/06/2018

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 4th through to the 10th of June.

BLOG STUFF

Last week’s post was looking at Empress characterful Mercs, getting them ready for the tabletop. Expect to see these guys backing up my other mercs when things get really hairy.

As you may have seen in Friday’s post, I’ve done a little experiment with the images. I take my photos on my phone, with no fancy lenses or tweak-able settings. Most of the time I’ve used the raw photos straight from the camera which look okay but can also mean the main figures take up a tiny space. Instead, I’ve decided to try following advice and trimming the photos down to focus on the subject. On the one hand the photos are a bit more informative and show off the figures better. On the other hand, it does show off all the small mistakes I make while painting. I’ll freely admit, I don’t think of myself as a good painter – merely good enough for the tabletop. I’m still playing around with the best setup to get the best photos so expect some tweaks in quality over the next few posts.

NEWS

After spending a whole news post of Spectre Humvee and them not actually releasing, they are finally out! You can get to them on the site in the rather busy Vehicles collection page and I wouldn’t be too worried about the resin bits going out of stock. To be slightly down, a few of the weapon systems you might want are out of stock (minigun humvee will have to wait) and the crew figures are not here just yet and I really wish the bumpers were not bundled in with the rear sections. Apart from that though, just look at them! Fantastic detail and I can’t wait to get my grubby paws on them and get building.

There is also a 360 spin of the SOF vehicle available on the Spectre facebook page is you want to see the detail from all the angles.

PURCHASES

Well guess what this week’s purchases are – Humvees! I mentioned on Lead Adventure that I was splitting this impressions up (to make sure I stick within my hobby budget for the month) and building two vehicles this month and two in the next order. Order 1 is going to let me build two vehicles:

  • SOF Humvee (Upgrade Bravo and Charlie) with Door Armour Bravo and mounting a GPMG in the back (probably a single one from the twin GPMG pack) and a Bravo Turret with a SF M2 in it
  • Normal Humvee (Upgrade Alfa) with Door Armour Alfa and mounting Turret Alfa with a M2.

I’ll be able to take a look at the default variant covering all the basic construction options by just not gluing certain pieces in place while taking photos, meaning a small order can still cover all the important points.

Unrelated but seeing as I’m starting work on my Empress SF (both SEALs and US Army Special Forces in combat kit) as well as a few special figures that fit the range, I realised I was actually missing a model – US11, an American sniper in Crye precision gear. This is a figure I haven’t seen in the flesh and so grabbing some more pics would be great.

HOBBY

This week’s hobby was (shockingly) limited but I did manage to finish off the four mercs ready for last week’s post. I’ll freely admit they are not the best paint job I’ve done (not helped by the cropped photos) – a part of me was just sick and tired of seeing them sat on my workbench. That said, I’ve left them unvarnished so I can go back and do some touch up when I have some time. Apart from that though, usually great quality sculpts from Empress

In what ever other time I had, I started repainting the Empress SEALs and Sniper ready for redoing in the new method of multicam. As part of that, I did some tweaks to the standing version of the American Sniper. The example pictures show the rifle slung vertically. However, I am a cack handed fool and long vertically protruding elements do not last long. So, to prevent bent sniper barrels, I pulled the gun off his back and re-positioned it pointing down. Hopefully it doesn’t look too bad and means he may actually stay in once piece for longer. I’m looking forward to repainting these figures – they were some of the earliest I bought from Empress and it will be cool to see if I’ve improved.

With the rest of my hobby, I ran around a field most of this weekend dressed in my new Tigerstripe combat uniform and wielding my SR47 doing my best operator impression at the yearly Airsoft Club reunion. Haven’t been in ages, writing this while everything aches.


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

Wargaming Week 04/06/2018

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 28th of May through to the 3rd of June.

BLOG STUFF

This week’s post was the last post in Project Technical, taking a look at the anti-aircraft options in the Technical range. It’s been a great time finishing all these vehicles and building up the collection. The next step is going to be writing (and running) some more scenarios to get them on the table.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

It’s also the start of a new month so time for a quick reminder. I run a Ko-Fi page where, if you like the stuff I write, you can throw me a few bucks. You can find it by clicking the button above or by going their directly at https://ko-fi.com/chargeblog

NEWS

Image from Spectre Miniatures

The main new this week is that it’s almost Humvee time! After a week of smaller teases of WIP and unpainted models, they finally showed off the full painted versions. As you can see above, there is a nice amount of variation between the vehicles, showing off some of the upgrade parts. I’m not 100% on the final release date but it’s going to be very close at this stage

Image from Spectre Miniatures

This photo from the Instagram shows off the SOF version accompanied by other vehicles like the Razor and a SF Technical. I must admit, I’m looking forward to running some mixed vehicle patrols, maybe even with the M-ATV. And speaking of M-ATV, I’m interested in seeing if the rear of the SOF vehicle could be used to speed up assembly of my M1245, saving on me having to detail all the panels at the rear. I’m not 100% on it but it will be work taking a look at.

PURCHASES

Currently none – just waiting to pick up a pile of Humvees.

HOBBY

The main hobby thing this week has been getting the three pedestal mounted AA guns finished. Honestly, the paint job is very simple but it was more just pushing to finish them.

Speaking of pushing to finish things, I finally started painting up the Empress Mercenaries I picked up before Salute. Having just watched the inspiration, I realised that I really didn’t want to paint a load of guys in just straight black. Instead, I looked at my Commando Global Solution figures (the SAS from Empress) and tried to work out some schemes that kind of match while still being distinct. So far, I’ve only finished this chap with an AA12 and a german sounding name but I’m working on the others soon.


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

Technicals – High Speed, High Calibre

One of the more interesting systems you’ll see on technicals is the use of anti-aircraft guns. Requiring a bit more engineering work than a simple PKM or a HMG (unless you want to flip your vehicle) these AAA guns are pretty useful to an irregular force seeing as they are able to easily engage a whole host of targets from infantry to light armoured vehicles to helicopters and aircraft. Spectre have three of these weapons in their range and I’ve finally got round to finishing them off.

Pedestal

A common element of all the AAA weapons is the square pedestal mount. When it arrives from Spectre, each of the four legs has a slight cut out so it fits into the slots in the cargo bed. This makes sure that it gets a proper fit when glued into place. However, with me wanting to hot-swap the elements, this locator lug would probably start ripping through the paintwork. So, as with all my other weapons, I decided to mount on plasti-card pieces

I have three pedestals (one for each of the guns) – for two of them I simply cut out the usual “I” shape out of plasti-card so it fits around the wheel arches. For the final pedestal though, I had something else in mind.

Chopped Pedestal

By default, you can fit the pedestals into the cargo bay of the Technical Bravo chassis by either sticking it on top of the cargo bay or by trimming the legs and sliding it into position. However, both these options are pretty permanent. For hot swapping, I had to do something else. The plan was to cut down the pedestal to fit inside the cargo bay while still having a method to lift it out when changing weapons.

Unfortunately, my cutting wasn’t as precise as perhaps it should have been and so made a bit of a mess. Worse, the trimmed legs ended up not fitting correctly as I had worked off the wrong height for the wheel arches. So I had to re-do it; The intact legs would now rest on the wheel arch while a plasticard framework would hold up the other end. Overall it’s a cheap nasty fix but seeing as I’m close to finishing this project I kind of just wanted to get them done.

As you can see the it works pretty well, with most of the bad construction hidden by the cargo bed. It does mean I can’t mount all three weapons on Technical Alphas but it’s unlikely I’d be using all three of the heavy guns without having access to a Technical Bravo chassis.

ZPU-2

The ZPU-2 is a two barreled version of the 14.5mm KPV machine gun I mentioned in one of the earlier posts. The dual mounting upgrades it with proper anti-aircraft sights and large boxes for each gun to feed from. As you can see above, when it first arrives, there are plenty of pieces to put together. The main thing is getting the central section around the gun barrels and on the base and then work up from there.

Once assembled, the painting was pretty simple. I worked up from various metal shades before topping off with the usual Russian green. I painted the figure up while assembled although I can definitely see the advantage of painting him separately.

ZPU-4

If the two barreled version wasn’t nasty enough, the four barreled variant is designed to get as many rounds as possible down range in a short amount of time. With two massive ammo caskets on either side feeding each barrel and firing 4x the fire rate of a single gun, this is a nightmare to go up against in Spectre and other games.

I covered the basics in the first technicals post so I’ll focus on the painted side. Its the same process as the other Russian guns – metal and Russian uniform. Unlike the other guns, this one has a gunner already attached to the main body of the mounting.

ZU-23

The ZPU works by getting lots of rounds on target. The ZU-23 works by getting rounds on target that cause massive damage to whatever they hit. Rather than slinging the 14.5mm round, this dual barreled auto-cannon fires 23mm rounds with a variety of ammo types such as high explosive and armour-piercing. In game, this makes it very effective against groups of infantry and can even damage light armour and APCs. A real danger to most modern forces.

As with the ZPU-4, this was covered in the initial post back in 2017. One point I didn’t mention is that I seem to be missing the AA sight that sits in front of the gunner – luckily with these being for insurgents it’s easy to imagine it was snapped off at some point. Painting up was similar to the other AA guns.

THE END?

The AA guns are another way to help give the Insurgents a bit more firepower and increase the challenge for the more regular forces. A quad HMG or auto-cannon can really wreck a squad’s day, forcing them to actually use cover and smoke to prevent being caught in the open. It also gives the militia something that can take out vehicles with a bit more reliability than poorly trained troops popping up and firing RPGs. Finally, much like the improvised weapons from last week, these are also something that screams “militia” – they look gloriously ragged on the back of the pickups.

And we these finished, I have now painted up at least one of every weapon system offered by Spectre for their technicals. I’d say at this point, this is the final main Project Technical entry. From working away on these posts, I hope I’ve shown off what you can do with the range, from the conversion to add a PKM gunner for the MENA Regulars up to the heavily laden SF technicals and their massive selection of weapon systems. I’ve now got a nice selection of weapons that I can easily jump into most scenarios and pick out which weapons I want to use depending on the situation at hand. It also means that, I think, I can now fill a board with vehicles.

The real question is what modelling project to work on next. If only there was another range of modular vehicles coming soon to form a project I could really sink my teeth into…

Spectre Operations: Building a Force – Mobility, Protection, Firepower

In the last post we took a look at the basics of building a force through role specific teams. In this post, we’ll look at how vehicles can be added to regular forces in order to augment their capabilities and provide new tactics. As in part 1, this article is designed primarily for Spectre Operations but many of the tactics are valid in all modern skirmish games.

Vehicles are one of those things that players love to get their hands on. Everyone likes rolling out the big guns, using overwhelming firepower to destroy enemy positions while rolling through small arms shots like it was nothing. As a national force, you’ll have access to the widest range of vehicles, covering everything from motorcycles and quad bikes up to main battle tanks. Depending on the situation, adding a vehicle to your force will give you a massive bonus on less well equipped opponents.

The problem is that vehicles, while certainly powerful, are also incredibly vulnerable on the modern battlefield. In WW2 there were limited number of AT weapons available but the advent of anti-tank rocket launchers and HEAT warheads has meant that every infantry fireteam can carry a light anti-tank weapon, often alongside its normal loadout. The RPG-7, the darling of every bad guy, can’t crack a MBT but is easily capable of damaging and destroying medium and light vehicles. Combined with IEDs, this makes approaching urban areas a massive danger. With limited routes, its hard to avoid enemy attacks while the varying elevations give bonuses to troops shooting down into the vehicles.

Another limiting factor is that troops cooped up in a vehicle are not able to act as efficiently as they can on foot. They can’t spread out to avoid frag weapons and (if enclosed) are less effective at helping out with their own weapons. After all, when you roll “passenger compartment takes lethality check” it doesn’t matter if you’re a militiaman or an elite SF operator.

Finally, the bigger vehicles often suffer in places where constricting ROEs are used. A MBT might be able to easily splat a possible enemy position but if it’s got civilians nearby than it’s unable to act effectively.

This is harder article to write than the infantry one as it’s one case where I think using points only rather than a scenario can really break down. It’s very possible for one player to pick a force that is incapable of taking out any of the other player’s force (for example a militia player vs someone who picks two MBTs) and it just turns into one player bugging out in the first turn. Vehicles, along with certain OTAs, makes it blatantly obvious that modern war is not “fair” or balanced. For this reason, setting up the right scenario is key. If player’s are picking their own force, give them the intel they would need to be able to combat each other. Setup objectives that can’t be done from the safety of an AFV – after all, it’s pretty hard to secure buildings while in one.


There are three major aspects to look at with the vehicles: Firepower (how much damage it can deal), Mobility (how fast it can move) and Protection (how it can stay alive)

Firepower

Probably the one people rush to improve first, firepower is a big draw of all motorised platforms. Vehicles can offer two factors over infantry in this regards

  1. More firepower: Vehicles can carry weapon system that either require a team or are entirely impractical for foot mobiles. These weapon systems can be incredibly destructive (often with 1+ or 2+ lethality saves) and lay down massive amounts of suppression either through sheer rate of fire or fragmentation.
  2. More accurate firepower: Thanks to stabilisers and extra storage space for ammo, man portable systems become even more deadly. The classic GPMG on a vehicle is a perfectly sensible setup and doesn’t require someone to hoof it around. I’m also a fan of anti-material rifles mounting on vehicles – it’s one of those things that just looks cool.

One consideration is if the vehicle has the move or fire rule. Having to move slowly will let you keep for the suppression down but risks destruction at the hands of anything you don’t manage to kill.

The final point is firing arcs. Keeping the weapon on target while moving is obviously easier with a turret mount while limited fields of fire require more careful positioning.  Technicals will especially struggle with this as many of the heavier systems (like the TOW or heavier recoilless rifles) can’t shoot forward on the current spectre pickups due to the crew cab.

Mobility

Mobility is somewhere else we can split into two regarding what it offers:

  1. Vehicle Mobility: How agile is this vehicle? How far can it drive every turn and how much can it turn? Knowing what your vehicle can do will help when picking your actions. Key things to look for is Uprated Engine and Brakes (giving you additional movement and sharper turns) and All Terrain (faster movement through difficult terrain).
  2. Force Mobility: If this vehicle can carry passengers, how much of your force can it carry? Can it carry a whole squad or will you need to split them across multiple vehicles? Alternatively, could it be used for carry heavier armament like a crew served system or additional AT weapons? Vehicles acting as resupply are especially important when using the ammo loads included in the rulebook.

These two aspects combine together to affect how mobile your force is. Although rolling up and discharging troops directly onto the enemy is a bad idea, reducing how much time they spend foot slogging will help to keep them alive and make you more reactive to the enemies movement.

Protection

Finally, protection. Mobility can help with this ( after all you can’t hit what you can’t see) but having armour plate between the passenger compartment and the incoming fire helps. Fully armoured vehicles can almost ignore enemy small arms, making the dangers of being caught out in the open less than in an unarmoured vehicle. Even partial armour can help to prevent casualties. As for the poor guys in unarmoured vehicles, you need to either be going fast or sticking to cover.

Another part of protection is its subsystems. These elements can often be forgotten but can help many vehicles feel less like a civilian car and more like the platform they are supposed to represents. Key ones include Run Flats (ignoring M-Kills is a good way to stay alive), MBSGDs (for dropping smoke when under fire) and Gun Shield (excellent for protecting any top gunners).


So that’s all great, but what does that mean for picking a force?

The key principle (as I’ve tried to hammer into you so far) is to look at the mission you’re about to do. Do you need a high speed transport, a weapon platform to sit back and provide overwatch or armoured vehicle to carry the rest of your force onto the objective? What vehicles would your force have available? Would your SF team up in the foothills of the Hindu Kush really have access to a main battle tank or is it more likely it would be a mix of quad bikes, pickups and maybe a GMV?

Once the task is identified, selecting the actual elements will require matching the various archetypes available in the book to what you want to utilise. The various examples will help next to each archetype should help you choose.

Something to consider is looking at real missions and what vehicles are used. As an example, Osprey’s excellent Special Operations Patrol Vehicles includes mention of a four vehicle US ODA convoy arrangement used in 2002-2003 consisting of:

  • M1114 Armoured Humvee – Better protection than the rest of the group and carrying a heavy weapon.
  • GMV SF Humvee – Good performance, lots of firepower, plenty of space for storing supplies for the rest of the group
  • Two Non-Standard Tactical Vehicles (Pickup trucks) – Able to go places the other vehicles can’t, lower profile, plenty of space for supplies

As you can see, this combination is mainly focused on a strategic level (outside the focus of a game of Spectre) but the variety of options can help when building your own team.

I have an additional few pointers to think about when setting vehicle elements up:

  • The HMG is mounted on almost every vehicle for a reason. It’s a nice compromise, being able to hit out at both infantry (thanks to sustained fire) and light armoured vehicles (thanks to armoured piercing) equally well.
  • Civilian vehicles might seem like nothing but trouble for a force, but for low profile teams they provide a quick way of getting out of danger. Covert vehicles are often equipped armour and uprated engines making them a nasty surprise.
  • When rolling multiple vehicles in a convoy, mixing up the weapons is recommended. Different weapons are good at different things – the HMG is general purpose but a Grenade machine gun is perfect for flattening groups of enemy infantry. It does however lack the same level of precision you would gain from a machine gun so it’s not the best thing to use at close quarters. Instead, the minigun or GPMG is much more useful.
  • When outfitting weapons, remember that you can mount optical systems to many heavy weapons. A HMG with a scope (such as the setup seen on my British Army Jackals) is perfect for any sort of overwatch fire support, being able to sit well outside the range of enemy return fire will still being able to hit back effectively.
  • Once on the battlefield, there are a few things to consider:
    • Avoid built up areas with your vehicles. These are just asking for you to be ambushed.
    • Don’t waste your vehicles. Use them for their role.
    • Play each vehicle to its strength. Don’t expect your Razors to be able to take hits like a tank – instead play to it’s high speed and all terrain features.
    • Vehicles can also provide cover to troops on foot. This will continue even after its destroyed.
    •  Spectre has rules for ramming and shunting obstacles out of the way – use this when appropriate. Armoured vehicles are especially good at this.

That’s it for this article. Next time, we’ll cross the lines and start looking at how picking an OPFOR force is different, how quantity is a quality of it’s own and why you should look very carefully at what type of characters you are using.

Wargaming Week 22/01/2018

Let’s start, covering the 15th through to the 21st of January.

BLOG STUFF

Last week’s post was looking at December’s release from Spectre. I really like this little set of releases – its exciting to see some new weapons for the older ranges, giving them more options on the battlefield. It will be cool to see just how much gear the Task Force Operators end up getting, especially as you’ll not be using a huge number of them.

NEWS

Last week was a little too quiet for news updates in the field of 28mm Modern. I’m thinking many of the big companies are getting ready for Vapnartak in early February.

GAMING

No gaming last week, too busy finishing off a few personal things.

However, slightly related to gaming is a new project I’ve started work on. I’m not quite ready to give out many details on it just yet, but the plan is to make something a little different that can be used to generate scenarios for any ultramodern game.

PURCHASES

The first part of “Look at all the companies” has arrived. A small order from SASM in the states arrived on my desk after about a week in transit which was pretty good. Inside was a pack of 3D printed plastic water bottles (which I’ll cover when I do an update on project technical) and the Operator Juarez pack. There will be more details in a week or two when I do the proper impressions but early impressions are mixed.

But that wasn’t the only model related thing this week. I’ve also put two orders in to some countries across the sea. There are currently packages heading my way from Warhansa in Russia and Eureka in Australia. More details when they arrive.

The final thing that arrived is a can adaptor for my airbrush. I still have a few propellant cans left over and, rather than simply putting them to one side, my plan is to use them up before getting a compressor. Unfortunately, the different hose size from my old adapter meant I had to get a new adaptor sent out. However, now I’m ready for airbrushing time!

HOBBY

Not a huge amount of hobby time this week sadly – did a few more block colours on the insurgents and got the SASM figures ready for painting. Too busy!


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

Wargaming Week 15/01/2018

Let’s start, covering the 8th through to the 14th of January.

BLOG STUFF

This week on the blog, we took a look at a brand new ruleset Round of Fire. I was really excited to try it out and from the few games I got in over Christmas it’s definitely something I want to play more of. Hopefully I should get a few games in.

To everyone who just started reading based off being linked to my Round of Fire Impressions, welcome! I hope you enjoy all the content that’s going up over the next few weeks. We’ve got a nice mix of articles planned, from figures impressions to tactics articles to battle reports.

NEWS

Not a huge amount of news this week, but I’d recommend going over to Tiny Terrain’s Facebook page to look at some of the new models from their “War in Chechnya” campaign. Beautifully painted up by Andy Zeck, these figures look awesome. I’m struggling to work out where I can fit them in the Bazistan/Zaiweibo theatres but I’m looking forward to grabbing them once they are available.

GAMING

Nothing yet – however, there is a Spectre game on the books for the 25th so look forward to an upcoming battle report on the 26th!

PURCHASES

As it was my birthday on the monday, and it’s a dumb item I’ve been looking at for a while, I decided to spend some money on the Citadel Painting handles. Before I go further, I am sure you could get something similar for cheaper but work being 5 minutes from the nearest Warhammer shop was just too tempting. I think I’m going to do a bit more of a write-up on them after they get a bit more use but I’m currently a fan. I’m not probably going to use them for bigger batch painting jobs but for doing small numbers (where you don’t have to keep swapping out the models) they are invaluable.

HOBBY

I was busy writing the Round of Fire Impressions this week but I did manage to get some painting in. The first set of the week (and in fact the year) was finishing off the models for the December releases impressions planned for Friday. These three were more Task Force Operators so apart from some of the new gear it was a return to the usual methods of painting this lot – block out the main colours, do most of the detailing and then paint on the multicam scheme.

The next main thing I’ve been working on was repainting the Spectre insurgents. The original set was done very early on in my return to the hobby and so had a limited colour pallet of OD and tan. This was starting to look a bit tired, especially next to the militia, and so I decided that enough was enough and they were dumped into the iso. As these guys are used pretty frequently amongst my OPFOR choices, the turn around has to be pretty quickly. This is especially the case as many of the insurgents are to be used as part of the demo game and a new paint scheme means new cards are needing to be printed. I’ve only done the basic colours so far, but the plan is to paint the insurgents in a mix of camo and plain colours to make them look a little more military than their militia buddies.


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