Downscaling

Andy tackles some 15mm armour.

I’ve done a fair bit of 28mm figures and models recently, finishing off my French in Mexico collection. So, I thought a change of scale and subject was required.

Last year I picked up some 15mm Sci-Fi vehicles and figures. The figures and a couple of small vehicles ware intended for some Rogue Stars games but I also came into possession of a tank. I haven’t painted the figures yet, but have finished the vehicles and tank. Paints are mostly Vallejo or Army Painter (AP).

First up is the tank. This is a Brigade Models Rapier MBT, it comes as a 9-piece resin and metal kit:

After cleaning up any mould lines and vents, and checking the fit of the resin pieces the parts were washed in soapy water to remove any dust or mould release agent.

Once the hull and track units were assembled a little filler was required for a small gap between the hull and tracks, nothing too severe. The main gun also needed a little filing to fit the turret.

Once the turret was assembled the hull and turret were primed with Halfords grey primer and then base coated with a couple of coats of AP Soviet Green, touched up with WW2 Russian Uniform (which is almost an exact match). I then added some camouflage of German Camouflage Beige Brown. These were then washed with AP Military Shader and Soft Tone wash respectively. Tracks were painted with MiG Rubber & Tyres, hull gatling Gun Metal, brake lights Red and head lights Matt Black. The gatling, hull vents and fans, and what appear to be cooling fins on the turret were heavily washed with AP Dark Tone wash.

The model was given a couple of coats of matt varnish (Titans Hobby), once thoroughly dry I gloss varnished the panels where I planned to add the tank ID number, then applied these (from Brigade’s Vehicle Markings range) and then reapplied matt varnish over the top.

In Brigade’s range these tanks are used by Ander’s Legion; so, if I decide to field a full force of these (and Brigade release appropriate unit decals) I may have to do a little more work on the tank.
One of the smaller vehicles is also from the Brigade range, a Javelot Scout car. The Javelot has a resin body with metal wheels, hatch and gun turret.

I wanted to use this a Police or Paramilitary vehicle, so went with a Dark Blue Grey paint job, with AP dark tone wash. Tyres are MiG Rubber & Tyres. The model has windows at the sides, I tried layering shades of blue from light at the bottom to darker at the top to give the illusion of reflected sky. Headlights were painted Silver, indicators Fluorescent Orange and brake lights Red.

I added a couple of vehicle ID numbers, using the same gloss / matt varnish technique as used on the Rapier tank. If I ever find my box of transfers, I’ll have a rummage and see if I can find some Police or Gendarmerie decals.

The other is from GZG, a light hover truck. This is a two-part metal kit, upper body and hover skirt, with a choice of two drivers, one in helmet and one in fatigue cap. I haven’t painted the drivers yet.

I chose Olive Green for the main body, with Dark Grey for the skirt and seats in the cab. The cab and load bay floor were painted Gunmetal Grey as were some panels on the sides of the truck. Headlights, brake lights and indicators as the Javelot. I used some spare 1:300 scale Dutch Neutrality aircraft markings from Dom’s Decals on the front and sides of the truck.

Plague Bearers

Mark2 has been working on some Death Guard; he insists they aren’t based on what he sees out of his window while painting…

Just before lockdown the club were starting to organise games for the open day. When I saw Eric was going to run a Kill Team game, there were two things I had to do. 1. participate in Eric’s game (can’t do that at the moment), 2. finish painting my Death Guard Kill Team, now that I can do, and so I did!

The figures are painted using Citadel paints, including some of their technical range, which I used to produce the rust and grime. I had thought about including some of the Death Guard’s original pre-heresy colour, which is bone white, but decided go for the classic putrid green look. I’ve purposely used light fogging here as it helps to produce the grime and general dirty aged look of the figures. There are loads of excellent examples of painted death guard out there, better than mine but I find most are too clean. These guys are supposed to be stinking rusting hulks surrounded by flies, foul gases and smoke.

They’re based on the Pallid Hand sect, part of the second company of the Death Guard, which specialise in armoured attack. My brief back story for the team is they’re part of armoured recon and specialise in operating behind enemy lines, gathering intel and taking out key enemy personnel, but also pack enough punch to take out light vehicles and strong points if required.

The sergeant (Nex Morbus) is armed with a power fist, plasma gun and plague blade; he carries most of the heavy weapons to take out any strong points but can also mix it up hand to hand. The rest of the team are armed with early pattern bolters and carry plague knives, blight grenades and melta bombs. I’m currently adding to the team, working on some poxwalkers to use as cannon fodder for larger Kill Team games.

Can’t wait to see how they do, the Death Guard are tough but slow, so tactics against more mobile but heavily armed units will be a challenge. Going to try them out against my son’s imperial guard using my 40K city terrain, will send this in for another blog at some point.

Rubber Nightmares

Dave Sime makes some fiddly robots, and dedicates them to Jeremey!

Back a few years ago at a SELWG show I relieved Jeremey of the burden of taking back home his 9 box collection of VOTOMS Vol.02 Mechs, that had failed to sell in the Bring & Buy. As I recall, Jeremy did not have the time to carefully assemble them.

VOTOMS Mechs feature in a Japan anime series from the mid 1980’s. The series did not gain any traction outside of Japan. While a number of larger plastic models were produced during the series run, Takara Micro World produced a range of 1/144 scale models, probably in 2007.

At first glance in their box trays, just separate heads, trunks, arms, legs & weapons, pre-formed and painted, you think this is going to be a doddle. Alas NOT. They are made of some sort of soft ‘rubbery feel’ plastic which, even using my range of tweezers, were hard to grasp/control. They did not all fit together correctly, which required painstakingly slow micro surgery using the sharpest blades to correct. Even then some parts, especially the legs, would not stay in the correct position. The only adhesive that worked was rubber glue for the body parts, even then I had to wait for each part to set before continuing, and epoxy resin to adhere to the 2p coin bases. It actually took over two weeks to assemble them. When I had finished I thought never again !

They are 27mm in height, for representative scale purposes the first photograph includes a GZG 15mm figure I am currently painting, which is actually 17mm high and one of the crewmen for the mechs which are 14mm in height. In the anime each VOTOMS has a human operator who sits in the trunk. Depending on how Chris and I intend to use them, we can use them as mechs in Sci Fi games from 6mm to 15mm, possibly even at 28mm ? Crewed or not.

It was intended that they would have their debut at the Open Day end of June, but alas that’s not to be.

Virtually Meeting

Last Saturday, at Stephen’s suggestion, some club members held a ‘virtual’ club meeting; some played solo games or with family members at home, and three even managed to play a board game over Zoom. Here’s a round up of what went on.

Mark H, Mark J and Seán – Nightfighter
Mark H ran a three-player game over Zoom – he’s written it up fully in a separate report.

Marcus – Air Combat in the Gulf War
Marcus played a solo game of modern air combat using Wings at War; this will also be getting its own write-up soon.

Phil – Space Hulk
Phil broke out the new (ish) re-issue of Games Workshop’s Space Hulk with his eldest son; unpainted figures, really!

Stephen – Full Thrust
Stephen, whose idea this all was, went for some solo Full Thrust. Which just sounds all wrong…

Mark J – Kobolds and Cobblestones
Mark.2 played out a Fantasy rumble at the docks.

Tony F – Lord of the Rings
And finally, the webmaster played out a simple Lord of the Rings scenario (the one where Sean Bean/Boromir gets shot full of arrows defending Merry and Pippin).

BLACK OPS – Battle Report

Stephen goes dark…

Black Ops is another Osprey game I bought when it came out but didn’t have a chance to play.

Once I had my copy and read it, I felt as if it had been mis-sold to me. The pre-launch blurb was all about futuristic stealth missions. And the cover art of the rules enforces that feeling.

However, once read, you can see the author is more aiming at contemporary special forces missions – SAS and Delta Force style anti-terrorist actions. Oh yes, there’s a brief bit on near future tech at the end, but you feel that’s been added solely as a bit of lip-service.

Maybe that’s why it stayed on the shelf for ages, unplayed.

However, I have now played it and I must say I thought it was a great game! I always wanted it to be more sci-fi, if I’m honest, but I didn’t let that stop me. How I rationalised it is that at this level of combat it will always come down to frightened men desperately trying to stay alive and eliminate the person trying to kill them. The battlefield tech is for the…well, battlefield.

So I decided the weapons were all relative. Whether you call it an assault rifle or a gauss carbine, or a LMG or an autolaser, who cares? Well, I don’t.

I decided the game board should be loaded with terrain. This creates a more tactical game, enhances the stealth nature of the rules, and cuts down firing lines. The scenario was simple, the humans had to break into a communications station, download some data, and get out.

What I liked the most about Black Ops is how the rules were geared to the setting. This, as you may have read in a previous review, was the main failing of Zona Alfa for me. Since Black Ops is about stealth missions then the rules must reflect that. And they do. You can either play against an opponent or you can play solo and you make rolls to see if the guards spot your troops and what they do. It worked really well.

My sci fi humans are all named after French philosophers and writers. Leading them was Foucault with Voltaire offering heavy support and Camus, Balzac, and Flaubert as back up. The cyborgs are all named after 70s and 80s computers. The venerable Dragon 32 was control with the ZX81 equipped with a heavy bolt gun and the Spectrum, C64, TI99, MSX, and CPC 464 also on patrol.

Turns are done by card activation (I like card activation, as any club member will tell you). Foucault with Camus and Flaubert made their way around the north of the compound with Balzac and Voltaire sneaking through the breaker’s yard.

Standing guard outside the comms bunker were the Sinclair duo – ZX81 and Spectrum. The rest of the ‘borgs wandered around. How the stealth and observation rules work is that if a model moves into a position where they could be seen a roll is made. This could be modified if there’s any gun fire, running, fighting, etc. If heard, the observer has a choice – they can either raise the alarm or take a shot. Once a guard has heard the enemy then they are under player control and no longer roll for their actions.

The humans moved up part of the way. To the north, Foucault, Flaubert, and Camus were held down as Dragon 32 and MSX kept pacing back and forth. They could have made a dash for it, but they might have been seen, so decided to be cautious and stay hidden.

Most of the cyborg guards seemed to be drifting toward the south, where Voltaire and Balzac were. It was proving hard for them to move up. It reached that point where any more movement may compromise the mission and so, deciding to take the fight to the borgs rather than the other way around, Balzac opened fire! Voltaire took his lead, and also let rip.

This fire drew the attention of the cyborgs. On their turn, they got to roll for observation and they were alerted by the firing. This drew the guards toward Voltaire and Balzac, allowing Foucault and co the chance to move up!

Amongst the trash the firefight hotted up. ZX81 went down (not for the first time) but TI99 returned fire. Dragon 32 dithered a bit, unsure whether to stay where he was or cross over to where the shooting was taking place. MSX was in position around some junk, and he was making it difficult for Foucault and the boys to sneak up to the comms bunker.

Meanwhile, the firefight with Voltaire and Balzac took a turn for the worse. Balzac went down under fire from TI99 and C64. Voltaire moved up, firing from the hip with his rail gun. C64 went down, with CPC464 close behind him. Foucault sneaked around behind some tires but was seen by MSX, who promptly started firing at the French linguist. He missed, and Foucault returned the gesture. Down went MSX.

The two sides now got stuck in to a fire fight. But due to cover no one was scoring any more hits. Foucault saw his chance, albeit a risky one. He moved around the side of the comms bunker and had to take the risk – a dash for the bunker doorway where he could deconstruct the cyborg data. Dragon 32 also took a risk and made a rush for Foulcault and the two became locked in close combat. Dragon 32 had the advantage on the first round by attacking Foucault from behind, but he failed to exploit this. Foucault turned to face his attacker and managed to take down the 8 bit monstrosity.

Success went to the humans.

I thought Black Ops was a great game. Loved it. The stealth rules work well, and so do the guard reaction rolls, without being too stodgy. The other mechanics are nice and simple and there are also lots of equipment options for specialists. I will definitely be playing this again.

Red Alert

Marcus sounds the alarm!

Having played in a demo of Red Alert from PSC games at Salute 2019, I was really taken by the design. I had often toyed with the idea of playing Command & Colours Ancients, and eventually bought Memoir ’44 for one of my boys for Christmas, but it has never been a favourite. However, the theme of Space fleet combat and the dynamics really seem to work. They certainly seemed to reach a sweet spot for me.
However, I didn’t buy the game at Salute. Despite some very good offers, I just didn’t want the miniatures. I have some space ships of my own, plus the aesthetic didn’t really appeal. Soon afterwards though PSC released most of the components separately.

Unfortunately, due to building work at home, the game was consigned to storage after just one play won by Son “Tzu”, who can’t get enough games (Or should I say winning games…). Now in lockdown, it has made its reappearance.

Having played through the first scenario for a second time, we set up Declaration of War, the second introductory scenario. Like all the scenarios, the introductory scenarios mark both fleets’ starting positions. However, they also mark the exact deployment of each unit. In later scenarios you choose where to deploy your fleet, which is chosen by drawing a card for your core force and having some additional points to choose additional units.

In this scenario the objective was simply to destroy 13 points worth of the enemy. The initial set up is shown above.

I had to cobble together some fleets as I am still repainting some old models (from Zandris IV). We played a Star Trek inspired game (despite the fighters), Federation (Son Tzu) versus Romulan (Me). Still, I didn’t have enough figures for all the units in this game, so the number of units was often displayed on a dice with the unit. The Federation was particularly short on Cruisers, so the Intrepid’s (Voyager) represented three ships, and the groups of two Nova’s (destroyers) also represented three ships. Three ships is the default strength for most units (all in this game). A hit will normally result in the loss of one ship.

The earth-like planet is at the centre of four hexes and the gravity well extends through these. This inhibits movement but it is more difficult to hit another ship inside it from outside the gravity well. Asteroids and planets block line of sight, as do ships. We also missed some markers only available with the core game. I used blue counters for “star” tokens. These are order tokens used in addition to the command cards. Also there are Red Alert markers. These are a combat result which can occur on the custom dice, illustrating “when bad things happen” during combat. They will require a retreat. I had a couple of these from an expansion, but that was all, so I used additional red counters.

Early contact and Son Tzu’s fighters take some damage while the Romulans move up on their left and…

…in the centre, the Romulan fighters also suffer some damage, but nearly knock out a federation unit.
But a very different picture emerged after the next moves.

Son Tzu moved up his fighter on the Federation right and used a “fighter swarm” combat card against my Battleships. With seven combat dice, he rolled five hits, turning my warbirds into a cloud of incandescent gas. If we had some debris tokens, they would be on the table adjacent to the two “yellow” fighter groups. One of them suffered a loss minor loss as a result.

Things did not look good for the Romulans at this point. 6 – 0 down. However, the Romulans also struck back with a concentrated fighter attack forcing back the battleship group in the centre marked with a Red Alert (which probably saved the group from destruction at that point), causing the remaining Federation battleship to retreat two hexes. One of the Romulan fighter groups was also badly damaged and retreated. However, The Romulans are still 6 – 0 down, with the Federation cruisers moving up into the centre.

Son Tzu could smell victory, but it was to prove elusive. The remaining Romulan fighters and destroyers picked off the remaining battleship to take revenge and even things up, despite taking some damage. While Son Tzu waited for the perfect card to launch his final assault, the Romulans deftly vectored their strike classes, the destoyers (again) and cruisers onto one cruiser group as it moved up in the centre…

…and then the other.

Although the second Romulan battleship group took some severe damage from long range fire (just out of the picture), they held up while the strike craft gave the Feds a hammering.

Those cruiser groups were worth three points each. Just before taking down the last one, the Romulan Cruiser group on their left, moved up for an easy kills on a crippled fighter group (revenge for the earlier battleship swarming loss).

The single point for that fighter, and the three points for each cruiser group gave the Romulans seven precious points. With the earlier six for the battleship, that made a game winning 13 – 6 to the Romulans. Doubtless the federation could have taken out a lot of heavily damaged ships if there had been a next turn, with their undamaged destroyers and second battleship group, but that was not to be.

Slammed in the Middle

Tony F reports on a recent big game with lots and lots of tanks…

Back in October we ran a large game of Hammer’s Slammers:The Crucible involving eight players. It was an asymmetrical match-up, with the attacking forces mustering no fewer than six detachments of Slammers regiment tanks and combats cars attacking from two flanks, while the defence in the middle had a mix of armed rebel militia (albeit lots of them) and light armour in the form of local defence forces and two Wolverine mercenary detachments.

Despite the disparity in forces, the game was very close, being decided very late on when the defence finally collapsed and the Slammers were able to sweep away the last remnants.

There’s a full report on the Hammer’s Slammers website; here are some more photos taken by Andy King.

Intruder Alert!


In November 1980 a now forgotten conflict started. Now you can re-fight that conflict at the Open Day. Jeremey will be taking on all comers, with this hard uncompromising game. Many show games are made in favour of the player, not this one. Expect to face humiliation as you try and get a high score against the relentless robots or Evil Otto himself. Can you clock up the highest score to be crowned Berserk champion?

Starship Fleet

John Lambert gives us some background on his new fleet of spaceships…

Having enjoyed Gaslands, I was intrigued to learn that the Author, Mike Hutchinson’s next venture was going to be a journey into space, entitled A Billion Suns. I signed up to be a playtester and purchased some excellent American Republic spaceships from Brigade Models. Here’s the result:

What about the game?

I’d never been wowed by Space games that resembled a Naval game and this has many interesting ideas that I really like. Players act as CEOs whose game objective is to fulfil a contract. These are either Commercial or Military in nature and it looks like there will be 12 of each. Each player has an Admiral’s Helm which the player uses to boost his ships capabilities for the turn (seize initiative, speed, firepower, defence shields) and a profit and loss tracker. There are no fleet lists, players have to judge what to buy to fulfil the contract but will only win if they are in profit at the end of the game. Deployment is by jump point. These are placed by the player and ships enter and leave the table via these jump points. It allows for playing between two tables, which sounds great for multi player games as fleets can jump onto a different table! Gravitational effects are governed by Ship size and Planetoid size. We hope to get another game in at the second meeting in April.

Extended Slamming

Tony F reports on one of the two mega-games that the club put on at the August bank holiday weekend meeting.

Last weekend the club ran an extended meeting – nine hours of gaming, from 10am to 7pm. To take advantage of this there were two extra large games – a Napoleonic 15mm game set in the days just before Waterloo, and a nine-player Hammer’s Slammers clash. A report on the former will be with us soon, and here’s a brief-ish rundown of events in the latter game.

This game took place on a 15 foot long table covering a border zone between the territories of the Stewarts and the Hirosekis on the planet of Kalan (mentioned briefly in the essay Backdrop to Chaos in volume one of The Complete Hammer’s Slammers). Each of the nine players commanded a combat detachment, and each side also had an air defence detachment as a shared asset.

View along the table from the Stewart end.

The Hirosekis fielded three detachments (one each of Heavy Mechanised, Planetary Warfare and Mechanised Infantry) stiffened by two Lightning Division detachments (Armoured and Infantry), with air defence provided by a Foster’s Mercenaries calliope detachment. The Stewarts’ first line of defence was provided by a detachment of Stewart Borderers – this is a unit I made up specifically for the game, comprising mostly infantry with some anti-tank guns and fixed defences. They’re very much unofficial, the detachment sheet has no points values, but feel free to use them in your own games if you wish. The defenders also had two Stewart Highland detachments and a supporting Harris Commando Armoured detachment, all in off-table barracks – these came on 1dAv turns after the first shot was fired. Air defence came from a troop of United Defence Calliopes (and boy, did they earn their fee…).

The clash would provide an interesting comparison between the Hirosekis, a Commissar force with average quality troops but commanded by officers with high leadership ratings, and the fanatic Stewart Highlanders who were rated as elite, but whose officers left much to be desired. In game terms this meant that the Hirosekis had lots of leadership points with which to order their troops around, but the troops in action couldn’t hit a barn door (from inside the barn…). On the other hand, the Stewarts were excellent quality troops but the poor leadership values of their officers meant surrendering the initiative and having very few leadership points – it took a long time to get the Highland Detachments into position once they entered the table.

Lightning Division APCs on the road

The objective was a TV transitter aerial, which the Hirosekis needed in order to broadcast propaganda to the Scots. The Stewarts had been told that they needed to hold on as long as possible so that reinforcements who were currently on the way could reach the battlefield.

The battle raged for almost seven hours – the Hirosekis opened proceedings by advancing their heavy armour down their right flank with the Lightning Division’s heavy blowers charging down the main arterial road, accompanied by mortars and MLRS. The Borderers, a territorial unit, clung on desperately as the Japanese advanced with their anti-tank guns having little impact. Their morale rose when the first of the Highland detachments came on table, as the Hirosekis finally had someone else to shoot at !

As mentioned, it took a long time for the Highlanders to get into position because of a dire shortage of leadership points. Once their tanks and anti-tank guns managed to deploy they started to chip away at the Hiroseki and Lightning Division heavies which had begun to advance at speed (the Lightning Division blowers performing a rarely-seen Thunder Run manouevre down the main road). But the Stewarts only had four tanks between them, and once they started to be knocked out they were reliant on the towed anti-tank guns, which had to be deployed in the open to counter the Soheis. The two APC mounted heavy mortars were very handy, one of them knocking out three enemy tanks on its own.

The much-awaited reinforcements that the Scots were clinging on for finally appeared – but in the rear of the Hirosekis ! Colonel Clark, commander of Clark’s Commandos, had on his own initiative diverted his landing shuttle to an open plain behind the Hiroseki forces and sent a high-speed detachment straight into the Japanese soft underbelly. The force of light armoured cars tore into the mix of artillery, command and air defence vehicles, routing Foster’s unit almost immediately and destroying virtually all of the Hiroseki artillery. The Japanese recovered their poise quickly however, and Clark’s Commandos pretty much disappeared in hail of powerguns and lasers.

Refusing to be distracted by the clamour behind them, the remaining Hiroseki tanks made a desperate dash for the transmitter mast; one Sohei and a Shaman got there, only to be mauled by a fusilade from the remaining Stewart anti-tank guns. The Lightning Division blowers charged down the road and attempted to reach the mast that way. The leading tank was knocked out, but the following vehicle pushed it aside and the defenders had simply run out of ways to stop it.

After seven hours hard fighting, we gave the Hirosekis a minor victory for reaching the mast; more than half of their heavy tanks had gone, including that of their CO, Major Tredaiwa. The Lightning Division tanks had also taken a battering, while Foster’s Mercenaries had disappeared altogether. On the other side of the table, only one of the Stewart detachments was in any sort of shape; the other Highland detachment and the Borderers were one TU away from breaking, and the Harris Commando unit had lost most of their infantry.

We’d like to thank John Treadaway, Kevin Dallimore and Peter Merritt of the South London Warlords for coming down and helping us put the game on – John provided the Hirosekis, one of the Stewart detachments and Clark’s Commandos plus a fair chunk of the scenery. The rest of the forces and scenery were painted by me. All of the figures and vehicles are from Brigade Models apart from Clark’s Commandos, which are from Darkest Star.

Photos by Andy King, John Treadaway and me.