Zona Alfa Office

Club member John L takes us through the complete build of his recent office block.

This post is in response from a fellow club member regarding the buildings I’ve made for Zona Alfa, a sort of ‘How to’ guide. I wouldn’t profess to be a good terrain builder, but this method worked for me.

Planning
First check out photos on the internet for the type of building you want to use then draw the plan on A4. If you are going to use a storage box, check the plan against this allowing sufficient spacing around the building to get it out of the box. Simple enough but if you add on a detail later, it can prove frustrating! Plan how many floors you are going to have and if you want to be able to take it apart later (I did as I wanted the space inside the building shell to add another building).
In 28mm I work on 5mm to a foot scale and allow 35 – 40mm for door heights, depending on type of building. Door widths 15 – 20mm. Windows are 15 – 20mm from ground level, adjust until it looks right.

Materials
5mm Foam board – Hobbycraft
Mounting Board – Hobbycraft
Lolly sticks – Hobbycraft
Clear plastic (optional for windows, I used food packaging material)
Cereal box cardboard
White card A4 pack from ASDA
Fine sand
Builders sand
Tools
Snap off large and small knives – B&Q
Resin W PVA glue
Bulk PVA Glue – B&Q
Set square
Steel ruler
Pin

Step 1
Cut out the base from mounting board. This needs to fit on the box if using and should include a 5mm border around the building. It’s probably better to radius the corners of the base to prevent a ‘dog eared’ look.

Step 2
Draw out the walls onto foamboard, taking into account the joins at the corners. I used simple lap joints so the long walls were 10mm shorter than the plan, use a set square to make sure all is square. Mark the sections you want to cut out so that you don’t remove the wrong bit!. I then take a pin and push through to the reverse side of the foam board.

Step 3
When cutting foam board I use the large snap off knife and steel rule, making a shallow cut. If you try a deep cut, the foam will tear. It’s a material that will blunt your knife blade quickly so snap off blades are ideal. I use the smaller knife to cut out the window openings. To get a clean finish, flip over the foam board and check the backing of the foam board is cut through, you can use the pin holes as a guide. By keeping the blade vertical against the rule, you should get a clean finish.

Step 4
Once the wall panels are cut out, I added detailing from strips of mounting board to the front faces. On the interior faces, I added strips of foam board which would be supports for the roof and first floors. I then created slots for the cross walls.

Step 5
To assemble the building, I used Resin W PVA. This is quick drying which helps prevent the whole building collapsing as it’s drying. Use the set square to check all is square.

Step 6
At this point, I decided to add a staircase (should have been in the original plan!). I used 1cm x 2cm pieces of foam board to build the spine and then 1 cm strips to build the supports. Then used lolly sticks to add the treads.

Step 7
I decided to add broken windows to the building. To do this I added 3mm strips of cereal pack card as the outside frame for each window. This was the most time consuming bit but now the basic building was done.

Step 8
To achieve the concrete look, I painted the exterior with a thin layer of PVA and then sprinkled fine sand over this. If a bit is missed, it’s better to let the whole thing dry before touching up. It’s important to have the cross walls in place for this stage as the PVA will cause the foam board to bow in at the centre. For the base, I used Builders sand which is courser. When the whole thing is dry, I painted the base using acrylics – dark brown/black followed by a light dry brush. For the walls I started with a base coat of Wilko Mineral Stone, then mixed this with Wilko Biscuit Crunch to paint over everything except the recesses. I’d picked this up from Terrain Tutor. From the same channel, I’d seen tips on applying washes to buildings, by prewetting the surface first so I added a dark wash to the recesses and a Sage Green wash to the lower panels to the ground for Algae. I then added brown stain on some sections and I think this worked well. I then painted the interior using acrylics.

Step 9
I cut the windows from plastic by cellotaping the plastic to my cutting board, then cutting out strips which I gave a jagged edge. These were secured by 2mm strips of cereal card on the inside of the windows. Another long job, when finished. I used a dab of superglue in the corners to secure the panes in place.

Step 10
To finish, I made the door adding part of a cable tie for the lock. I added graffiti and then made up some signs to hang over the doorway. These can be changed as required.

Work in Progress Wednesday

This Wednesday’s work in progress sees another week packed with miniatures.

This week Tony F opens with a Rohirrim standard bearer, to keep his hopes of a LOTR figure a week going.

Lord of the Rings Standard Bearer

Next up Andy has continued making progress on his various Dark Age figures.

The multitude of Dark Age miniatures

Eric has managed to finish his crew for Zona Alfa and they are looking pretty good.

The whole crew – “Mad” Gregor, Dimitri, “Big” Mik, Vasily The Kid, Arkady (the leader).

Eric has also managed to put together some critters in the form of Zombies.

The zombies, George and Mildred

And last but not least John L has given us a sneak peak of some newly based Chilean Infantry, just waiting for a bit of vegetation.

Chilean infantry

John mention the following “A new rule book for the Pacific War 1879 – 1885 is out so I might give this a look.” So here’s hoping John gives us some more pictures of this projects.

Encounter at Cwm Gwyn

Stephen reports on a battle twixt Good and Evil in the Welsh Valleys…

On the border of Shropshire and Denbigh there is a lonely valley that is known locally as ‘Cwm Gwyn’ (White Valley). It has long been said that it is a haunted place. At the head of the valley there is a single stone tower – the White Tower.

For services overseas, fighting against the French, King Richard II gave the land to Sir Ursus ‘The Bear’ FitzArkus. All that was left was for this worthy knight to explore his new holdings and find out exactly what lay at the heart of the mystery of Cwm Gwyn.

This was a game of Dragon Rampant. Each side had 24 points.

Sir Ursus had with him two contingents of billmen, a contingent of crossbowmen, and his household knights.

Slowly they made their way down the wooded valley. It was only when they came to a mountain stream, the Afon Ddu, they heard the sound of a warhorn.

It would seem that rumours of a haunting would be more accurate than anyone dared imagine…

Knights advance down the stream
Crossbowmen take aim from the hill
Zombie horde
Zombies and crossbows clash
Billmen check the zombie advance
Skeletons advance
Lord Ursus descends upon the skeletons
Charge!
Things are starting to look dicey
Kluruch holds the field

Wars of the Roses: First Battle of St Albans – May 1455

Stephen embarks on a modest endeavour to refight the War of the Roses…

I decided that I would re-fight all the major battles of the Wars of the Roses (well, those listed on www.britishbattles.com) in order.

So first up is the First Battle of St Albans.

For rules I am using Basic Impetus, because these will be solo games and Basic Impetus provides a nice and simple game that lasts just about as long as you want it to. For anyone who might also be interested in having a go then here’s the order of battle I cobbled together for the game:

I went with a historical deployment, and after that the battle was mine.

So, the Yorkists had Salisbury on the left flank, Warwick in the middle, and York on the right. The Lancastrians had Somerset on the left, King Henry in the middle, and Clifford on the right. Although it’s clear the battle ended in the town, it’s unclear where it started. I went with the Lancastrians positioned on the edge of town and the Yorkists crossing the fields. The Lancastrians had barricades protecting the lanes, and I decided these would negate the Impetus bonus for any charge across them (in either direction).

There was no reason for the Lancastrians to move out from a defensive position (in fact, a lot of the battles during the war were assaults against prepared positions), so I let the Yorkists take initiative for the first couple of turns until they got within bow range. At that point it became important who had initiative each turn so then started dicing for it.

York led his nobles down Shropshire Lane toward the Lancastrian defences whilst Salisbury led his men down Sopwell Lane.

This left Warwick, who had the largest contingent, across the fields. The early rounds looked bad for the Yorkists. In fact, I was wondering how on earth they could win – the Lancastrian bow fire took out two Yorkist units before units met in combat.

The battlefield formed a natural funnel – the fenced lanes gave little room for manoeuvre, which meant any jockeying for position was down to Warwick. In fact, it would turn out this is where most of the action would take place.

Just a few turns in, and I thought I had been careless with York’s deployment. His archers went down, leaving the plate-armed nobles to push forward as quick as they could, all the while taking fire from the ensconced archers under Somerset. If they went down, then York would go with them and that would be that!

The same could be said for Salisbury, who got locked in an archery duel against Clifford. Warwick, in the middle, was also looking weak since he had lost units going in.

Yes, things were looking good for King Henry!

The Yorkists were not gaining anything by exchanging bowfire. This was partly because I forgot I had classified some of the Lancastrian archers as levy and was rolling for them as retinue quality. Oops.

Warwick needed support, because it was becoming clear that this was where the main battle would be – to punch through and nab the king. So levy spearmen were funnelled into the middle to support Warwick against any losses.

Down in Sopwell Lane things had stalled. Eventually, Salisbury decided to bring it to a head – he urged his billmen forward who swapped lines with the archers and forward they went. Clifford realised his archers would fair poorly against the bills, and he did likewise – pushing his billmen forward.

Meanwhile, along Shropshire Lane, the Duke of York’s dismounted nobles surged forward and smashed into Somerset’s line. If it went badly, then that would be the end of the battle. But York prevailed!

Although the Lancastrian archers had given good account of themselves, once Warwick’s billmen got stuck in things soon started to change. The archers soon fell under their blows, and so the King ordered forward his nobles.

But as the Lancastrian archers had rolled well in the initial turns, it was now the turn of Warwick’s troops to be blessed with good dice rolls.

The battle had really been fought in the middle, and when the Lancastrian nobles were cut down, then King Henry went with them!

It would be a Yorkist victory!

So that was my re-fight of First St Albans finished. I really didn’t see how the Yorkists could win. But once they got stuck in, then things started to turn around. In hindsight, the levy spearmen should have been deployed with Warwick in the first place, instead they lost several moves and had to manoeuvre into position where they could support Warwick’s assault.

Treasure Islands

John Lambert goes in search of treasure in the South China Seas.

Emperor Ming has sent his treasure fleet south laden with tea, ceramics, gold and fine silks. Bound for India, it is beset by a massive typhoon in the South China Seas close to Borneo. The resultant Tsunami, sweeps the fleets on to treacherous shores of an archipelago, the ships are crushed like matchwood. Ming orders Admiral Feng Shui to recover Gold treasure from the once mighty Treasure Ship the ‘Shandong Trader’. En route, Feng Shui enlists a local Proa to help with navigation and the search. As they approach the islands, Feng Shui is disturbed to find they have company. The black sails of Pirate Queen Li Chee in the ‘Sea Scorpion’, accompanied by a small pirate junk have been shadowing him for days and now it was a race against time.

In the first turn, both sides locate treasure on two of the islands. All this commotion triggered the ire of Head hunters in dugout canoes, which headed for the nearest vessel, the Proa.

(In the scenario, a roll of 5, 6 means treasure is successfully located. Headhunters are normally discovered on a search roll of 1. I added this extra element selecting the island of deployment randomly then location for deployment determined by a D10).

At the end of the first turn, the Headhunters are closing in on the Proa and the Imperial treasure. Li Chee prepares a cunning move seeking to stern rake the Imperial Flagship, whilst the second pirate junk will head for the bottom island.

In the morning light, Li Chee in a more manoeuvrable junk prepares a devastating Stern Rake.

The stern rake is not devastating!

(The white dice show the combat modifiers applied to the base combat factors. The red dice are the combat rolls. Li Chee needed to double Feng Shui or roll an even number on the red dice to cause damage).

This shows the Headhunters in hot pursuit of the Proa whilst the Pirate junk prepares to search the lower Island.

A Change in wind direction allows Feng Shui to close in on the pirate junk and fire.

(There were not enough activation dice to fire a broadside and the reinforced junk hull has prevented a doubling. The danger was not heeded!).

The Headhunters attempt to board the Proa and fail!

(The Proa has a combat value of 0 but it’s a 6:1 combat roll!)

A fatal error. Instead of sailing off the edge of the board and safety, the pirate junk is exposed to a stern rake which this time is devastating. Meanwhile, the tenacious Headhunters manage to board the Proa.

(The Junk is tripled. 3 damage [red dice for Feng Shui not shown] and a roll on the critical hit table [3, 3] means it begins to sink. The Proa takes one damage but is not captured by the Headhunters [another lucky 6!]).

The Proa decides to head off table and safety, the crazed Headhunters attack Feng Shui’s flagship to no avail, it’s just too powerful a target to attempt.

As a tropical squall closes in, Li Chee heads off to nurse a bruised ego, vowing revenge whilst Feng Shui has recovered some treasure. Will Feng Shui get that promotion He is after or will Li Chee get her revenge, stay tuned to the next instalment of ‘On Farthest Tides’.

(I’d played this scenario several times, each time giving a different result. The activation method and variation in wind direction during the game really make for exciting and unpredictable battles. The rules play smoothly and suit solo play well.)

We’ve All Done It!

A constant of all miniature wargamers has always been to come up with your own set of rules. Every gamer has either written a set of rules (unpublished of course!) or heavily modified a published set of rules (just to to improve it), although to be fair to the club a number of home grown rules are used on a regular basis.

Jeremey takes us through such a typical Wargamer project and what happened to it.

Back in 2009 I fancied getting into mass battle fantasy games. I’d played a bit of 2nd edition Warhammer in my youth but was in a period of preferring smaller scales. I picked up a copy of Warmaster but it didn’t really grab me, the movement section with 20 plus pages (slight exaggeration) explaining how to perform a wheeling movement, just looked very similar to many of the historical rule sets that put me of historical wargaming for years.

Like all Wargamers in this situation I naturally started writing a set of 10mm fantasy rules of my own, I went with units based on round bases with no need to worry about detailed facing and movement rules.

When writing rules I’ve always had a weakness in needing actual miniatures to test the game with. I hate testing just on paper or with stand in’s, so I  created two whole armies first!

picture of skeleton miniatures
Pendraken 10mm Skeletons painting up nicely

I decided to go with 10mm fantasy miniatures from Pendraken miniatures. Pendraken’s miniatures are cast individually which meant I could put them on a round base. Most other 10mm fantasy miniatures were cast on strips for 40mm wide bases. I used standard 40mm round bases and put 10 foot or 6 cavalry miniatures on each base. I was really pleased with the results but the first crack in the plan appeared as all the miniatures needed to be painted before putting them on the base and flocking the base was a pain to get between the miniatures.

Regardless I continued to torture myself and carried on creating two armies (Undead vs Barbarians).

picture of 10mm armies
The Barbarian army faces down the Undead hordes

Unlike a number of other rule sets I’ve written I did get to playtest this set which I called ‘Battle Fury’ (often referred to as Battle Furry!), it was a very simple ruleset with no unit facing so you just moved where you needed to. There were typical bonuses for combat based on charging and having multiple units ganging up on the enemy. Activation was done by players taking it in turns to move a unit. I also went with 10 sided dice as I’ve always found the range of a normal 6 sided dice does not offer enough variation. 

Picture of miniatures
Battle in full swing

Games of this type often suffer from needing lots of markers for activation, wounds etc. But I had the genius idea (in my opinion of course) of making flags for both sides that showed the number of hits the unit had remaining (see the skulls on the flags!). The rules had the units roll a number of dice based on the number of hits remaining so you could see at a glance how strong the enemy or your own units are.

Picture of miniatures
Fight between the Barbarian Mammoths, Skeleton Cavalry and a Skeleton Giant

The game worked fairly well on the playtest, the forces came out quite balanced and I got the kind of game I wanted with big beasts fighting it out and plenty of back and forth action allowing for tactical moves.

Picture of fighting miniatures
Barbarians and Skeletons in full Close Combat

This project taught me a lot about writing rules, having a clear idea of the kind of game I wanted from the start really helped. But it also taught me a lot about creating games and mistakes that can often be made.

The use of round bases for this scale hasn’t really been done and so the idea that wargamers would be willing to rebase their armies is unrealistic. However the round bases packed with figures looked good and better reflected warfare in an undisciplined world where armies just charged at each other and fought to the death. The flags that could be changed to reflect the hits of a unit felt like a good idea, but having to create enough to show the correct number of hits as units suffered damage became quite a challenge.

And so this project came to a halt and the miniatures are back in the pile of unfinished ideas (which is quite large if I’m honest), although after writing this I might revisit the flag idea for my WOTR army instead of the mini dice added to the base.

The Aftermath

Tony F tells the tale of a game that not even Phil could lose … or could he? Photos by Tony and Andy.

As the club is still unable to meet formally, a few of us met for some outdoor gaming in Phil’s back garden to throw a few dice for the first time since lockdown began. The chosen game was Games Workshop’s Middle Earth rules, The scenario, suggested by our host (and provider of tea and ice-creams), took place between the assault on Minas Tirith and the Battle of the Black Gate.

The Battle of Pelennor Fields is over; the armies of Mordor have been vanquished, defeated by the combined intervention of the Grey Company and the Rohirrim, and finally by the death of the Witch King. In the aftermath, the remnants of the Dark Lord’s forces were pursued from the scene by the combined armies of Men; Gondor, Rohan and the various fiefdoms of Dol Amroth, Lossarnach, Llamedon and others.

View from the western edge.

In our scenario, 500 points of Mordor forces (orcs, Uruks and a troll) are retreating through a small hamlet (in the book, the Pelennor is a fertile area of fields and farms, not the barren plain seen in the films). An equal size force from Dol Amroth are in hot pursuit and have begun to encircle the fleeing orcs. The orcs set up 1/3rd of the way from the Western edge, while the Dol Amroth forces deployed into three separate groups; a group of Knights led by Prince Imrahil on the northern edge, a group of Warriors and Men at Arms on foot on the southern edge and a small group of archers provided harassing fire from the west. The evil forces, being greater in number than the Dol Amroth troops, were split into three forces led by Andy (mostly a covering force of archers), Stephen (Uruk Hai and the troll) and Phil (Mordor orcs). Jeremey handled the Dol Amroth warriors, while Tony took the small group of archers and the knights (“you’ve played this before, you should know what to do with them…”). The Mordor forces were required to get 1/3rd of their troops off the table.

The battle naturally split into three combats; the covering force of orc archers spent much of the game exchanging remarkably ineffective bow fire with their Dol Amroth counterparts who slowly advanced on their barricade.

Jeremey’s main force of Dol Amroth warriors closed on Andy’s Mordor orcs in a small fenced-off area, and between them they spent most of the game performing what became known as the ‘Pelennor Two-Step’, inching forwards and backwards for most of the game.

In the centre, Stephen’s crack Uruk Hai seemed to be the ones selected to lead the retreat. They were engaged by a smaller group of warriors including some foot knights, which slowed their progress somewhat.

Andy offered to give some fire support – in the GW Middle Earth rules, only evil figures are permitted to fire into combats (the good side won’t risk hitting their own figures). Andy checked with his fellow orc that this was OK, but it seems that Stephen didn’t read the small print and realise that there was a chance that he could be hit! One dead Uruk later, it was decided that the experiment was was not to be repeated.

In the meantime, the formation dance teams carried on their pas des deux on the southern flank, with much two-ing and fro-ing and “After you, Claude”. It involved lots of jockeying for position with supporting spears and pikes in the second rank, much bluff and bluster and very little blood.

The archers slowly kept up their advance, pushing forward in bounds with three moving and three firing (until one got shot, then the numbers went all to pot).

The Knights meanwhile had sped down the northern flank, hoping to cut off the Uruks as they headed for the table edge – and it worked. Although the orcs tried to disperse, the Knights hit them hard – and with foot figures charged by cavalry being automatically knocked over, even those who survived an attack were delayed by a further turn as they got to their feet again.

Although the troll took a toll of several knights, the Prince himself took a hand and, with the aid of the horn blower (who led a charmed life), made sure that not enough orcs reached safety. By this time the dance had broken up, and the Dol Amroth archers reached their Mordor counterparts and their heavier armour proved decisive.

Phil’s evil minions don’t have a great record in our Middle Earth games. But this one involved retreating, so he should be good at that. But after five hours of hard fought combat, he still found himself on the wrong end of the stick…

The Fellowship

Andy completes his Journey through Middle Earth…

I think everyone who plays Lord of the Rings games probably has the fellowship, and I am no exception.

I’ve had these for quite a while, and having finally finished my LotR Dwarves, including Gimli, I thought it was time to paint the rest of them up.

The figures represent the Fellowship after leaving Rivendell; Gandalf has Glamdring, Aragorn has Andúril and Frodo has Sting and the Mithril coat, the latter presumably under his outer clothes.

All paints are Vallejo acrylics unless stated otherwise, and most colours were washed with the appropriate Army Painter tone.

All of the Fellowship were started in the same way. Gaps in the slotabases were filled with 4Ground base render; then a layer of sand & grit glued to the bases with PVA glue. Once dry they were undercoated with Halfords Grey Primer. The bases were painted a dark brown (USA Olive Drab) and dry-brushed London Grey. Faces and hands, and feet for the hobbits, were base coated Brown Sand, then top coated with Medium Flesh and washed with AP flesh tone.

Aragorn

Aragorn’s tunic is Light Brown, his Coat is Flat Green, trousers are Black and boots German Camouflage Black Brown. Belts are Chocolate Brown. The blanket roll over his shoulder is Dark Grey, and on his back are his bow, German Camouflage Medium Brown, quiver, Saddle Brown and another blanket roll, Khaki Grey. His hair is Flat Brown.

Boromir’s overcoat is Black, with Black Grey highlights on raised edges, his robe is Red. The small amount of mail visible is black with a Gunmetal Grey drybrush. His boots and vambraces are German Camouflage Medium Brown, belts German Camouflage Black Brown and hair Light Brown. The Horn of Gondor is Buff with the end Tan Yellow, with silver scroll work. His shield (slung on his back) is Black Red with Gunmetal boss and rim.

Gandalf the Grey has Light Grey tunic and London Grey robes, highlighted Light Grey. Belts are Dark Grey. His hat is Grey Blue. (Definitely a grey theme here). His staff is Beige Brown with an AP Crystal Blue tip. Glamdring is Silver. Hair and beard are Dark Sand.

Legolas

Legolas has a Golden Olive tunic, Light Grey trousers and Pale Greyblue sleeves. Quiver harness and vambraces are German Camouflage Medium Brown, quiver is Flat brown, the latter two lined Saddle Brown. Belts are also Saddle Brown. Boots are German Camouflage Black Brown and bow is Beige Brown. Hair is Dark Sand.

Merry

Merry has Black trousers, a Golden Yellow waistcoat with Bronze buttons and a Deep Green coat. His cloak is London Grey and his hair is Tan Yellow.

Frodo

Frodo has Black trousers, Light Brown waistcoat and Flat Brown coat and hair. His cloak is Luftwaffe Camouflage Green, and belts Chocolate Brown. His pack is Saddle Brown. Sting is painted Silver, with an AP Blue wash, my attempt to represent Sting’s blue glow in the presence of Orcs.

Sam

Samwise has London Grey trousers, with a Deck Tan shirt and a Flat Green coat. His cloak is Black Grey and belts and scabbard Saddle Brown. His hair is German Camouflage Orange Ochre, and on his back he has a pack painted Beige.

Pippin

Pippin also has Back trousers, Beige Brown waistcoat with an AP Crystal Blue jacket and Light Brown Scarf. His haversack is German Camouflage Beige and cloak Flat Red (and I’ve just noticed a little blue on the cloak so that will need touching up). He has Dark Sand Hair.

When I bought the figures off e-bay one of the lots contained a model of Gollum on his rock. So here he is:

Gollum (and his rock)

I started off painting the rock London Grey, with an AP Dark Tone Wash and Light Grey dry-brush. There were a few patches of what looks like moss on the rock, so these were painted with dots of Golden Yellow and Olive Green. Next came his skin; as I wanted him to look paler than the other Hobbits, I used a mixture of Pale Sand and Medium Flesh. Hair was black, eyes white and his loincloth German Camouflage Beige. As he is modelled with a snarling mouth, I painted his tongue Flat Red and teeth Deck Tan. His skin then got a wash of AP Skin tone.

All the figures bases were then flocked, for Gollum I added some flock to some of the flatter sections of the rock, and then tidied up the base edges with more Olive Drab.

Finally, the figures were all varnished with a matt spray.

So that’s the LOTR collection, Fellowship, Dwarves and Goblins completed.

The Attack Drone at Zamatkya

John Lambert enters the Forbidden zone in this solo Zona Alfa battle report

It was getting tough in Sector 27. The Federation had replaced unreliable Mercenary patrol Vigilantes with mechanised robots who didn’t need paying and in a sinister development areas of the zone were now patrolled by Kamov attack drones – pickings were slim, it kept Big Ilya awake at night. Rumours spread through his base that one of the drones had crash landed close to Zamatkya village. Ilya called up Cziscova ‘Czisco’. She had worked on development at Kamov and He thought if He could get hold of the flight control software, the drones could be jammed. Maybe the happy times would return.

Kovacs sat in the bar opposite Big Ilya and ‘Czisco’, He’d been bought a shot of Bison Grass vodka, things looked bad.

‘I need you to get a Software copy’ whispered Big Ilya, take ‘Czisco’. Nobody had said ‘No’ to an ex Cage Fighter.

Kovacs was a seasoned Zone veteran – act first, question later. His tactics were simple, eliminate the hostiles first, then scavenge and he had an ace scavenger, Ali – the thief of Baghdad. Little more than a kid, He’d survived by scavenging through the rubble before the shutters came down for good. Then there was Anasova ‘ice Queen’ the silent one, a deadly sniper from Riga, ever reliable. At the bar, He’d been taken by Czisco’s long legs and spray on denim but she never stopped prattling on, it was like a never ending hangover from cheap vodka.

They had arrived at the village in good time 35 minutes to act before a patrol drone returned, a weak sun failed to penetrate the greyness. Quickly, they identified their objective – the damaged drone in the centre but what was this? Howling mutant hounds from Hell with their sadistic Hound master Pavlov could be heard coming from a building to the west of the drone. They were guarding a hotspot. The crew would have to creep around an intervening hotspot to eliminate them. ‘Damn’ muttered Kovacs ‘This will slow us down’

Zamatkya village, with attack drone in centre and zone hostile hounds to the west
Ali moved into position and eliminated two hounds in good time

Then disaster! Both Czisco’s and Ice Queens guns jammed. There was only one thing for it. Kovacs lobbed a smoke grenade at hounds. He just didn’t want one of the crew mauled so early into the mission. He checked his watch 5 minutes gone, things weren’t going to plan and would get worse

That should stop an attack but attempts to destroy the remaining hounds were ineffective so the crew got into position for the smoke to clear. Ten minutes gone. As the smoke cleared Kovacs killed one hound before his gun jammed. Ice Queen’s gun jammed for a second time before Czisco despatched the other dogs – perhaps He’d been wrong about her all along mused Kovacs. This allowed Ali to search the building – 1250 salvage value and two red dot sights.

Fifteen minutes gone, time to head for the objective Ali tosses a bolt revealing two dangerous luminous venomous insect swarms.

Again Ice Queen’s gun jams. Ali destroys one of the swarms and then his gun jams also!

‘What the …’ snarled Kovacs, this was more than coincidence, running across open ground he blasted the remaining swarm as He and Czisco made it to the drone.

Twenty minutes gone, it was cutting it fine as it would take more than five minutes to remove the access panel, download the software then replace the panel. As the panel is removed, Kovacs orders Ali and Ice Queen to search the closest hotspot. Not ideal as Czisco’s Laptop crashes and they’ll have to spend longer at the drone!

Meanwhile Ali throws a bolt at the hotspot which reveals a mutant – looks like He’d taken a heavy dose of radiation when searching an anomaly.

Ice Queen took aim and this time the mutant was despatched instantly – phew! Ali searched the area diligently but only came away with 350 worth of salvage.

With thirty minutes approaching there was no time to search any other hotspots and it was time to get out before the patrol drone turned up. Whilst the objective had been achieved, Kovacs was no nearer to retiring to that Black Sea Dacha. He thought the ammo He’d recently bought had caused the jams. Time to visit the Dealer and ask Him if He feels lucky.

Allies of Gondor

Tony F paints some alternative Lord of the Rings figures.

When I first read The Lord of the Rings, many, many years ago, one of my favourite parts was the defence of Minas Tirith and the Battle of Pelennor Fields. The cavalry actions particularly grabbed my attention, including the charge of the Rohirrim, and the sortie led by Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth (who sadly didn’t make it past Peter Jackson’s editing pencil in the films) to rescue Faramir and the defenders of Osgiliath. I painted up a box of Swan Knights of Dol Amroth for an Open Day game a couple of years ago, and I’ve always wanted to expand them into a full army.

Apart from Prince Imrahil and the Swan Knights, there are few other official figures available from Games Workshop for the fiefdom of Dol Amroth. There is a set of four Men at Arms with pikes, and some older metal foot knights, which don’t really match the new plastic mounted cavalry (which are much better than the old metal ones). Forgeworld also has a new set of very nice resin foot knights which are moderately pricey but are a better match for the new plastic knights.

A while back I came across pictures of another Dol Amroth army with lots of conventional looking warriors on foot. These turned out to be conversions from Gondor figures with new heads – after a brief bit of digging I found that the heads came from eBob Miniatures. So I bought 20 heads (at a very reasonable £1 for 4) and then set about getting some plastic men of Gondor from eBay. I won an auction for 17 already assembled figures – which then of course languished in a box in the hobby shed for over a year (I believe wargamers are like wine collectors – our purchases need to be laid down in a cool, dark place before they can be fully enjoyed).

Then lockdown happened. Unlike some people I was neither laid off nor furloughed (in fact I was one of those for whom lockdown was a very busy period), but there are still weekends, and since we couldn’t go out, the Dol Amroth idea was dusted off again. I started with the head swaps on the plastic figures. The existing heads were removed with a pair of side cutters and cleaned up with scalpel and files, before drilling a small hole with a pin vice for the peg at the bottom of each replacement head. The heads were superglued on, and then came some tedious filling with green stuff. I also had to resculpt hair on the back of some of the figures which had been damaged by the removal of the original heads. I also cut, scraped, filed and sanded off the sculpted-on White Tree motif on all of the shields, as I wanted to replace that with Dol Amroth symbols. I also created a standard bearer using a spare lance from the Knights box – I swapped the hand with a swordsman.

With the conversion work done, painting could begin. I mostly use Citadel paints of all types including shades, dry and the new contrast paints. I started with an undercoat of Halfords grey car primer, followed by spraying them with silver paint bought from the poundshop. I then gave them a black Nuln Oil wash followed by a drybrush of Necron Compound. This is a really quick and easy way to paint silver armoured figures en masse. I painted their tunics blue using a contrast paint (not sure which one, sorry) with a single highlight layer and their trousers with Black Templar (also a contrast colour). After this it was just details – faces, armour straps and belts, and some gold detailing on the helmets.

The shields were painted blue and them I applied some home-made decals; I’d found some suitable designs online which I resized and recoloured in Photoshop, and printed on white decal paper on a laser printer. I touched up the edges of the decals with paint to blend them in as much as possible.

Everything was then given a coat of Army Painter spray varnish, and the bases were finished off with a combination of flock and grass Tufts.

So my Dol Amroth force now had six mounted Knights and 17 warriors on foot. To this I added three Knights on foot and four pike-armed men at arms, all led by Prince Imrahil himself. the other figures were all painted in the same way as the other warriors, starting with their sprayed silver armour. As befits his status, I did spend a bit more time on their leader.

Overall it makes a solid 600-point force, and all from figures that had been in the unpainted pile for a while.