A painting method.

Andy describes how he goes about painting his irregular figures.

I don’t claim to be a great painter, I’m certainly unlikely to win any painting competitions, my aim is to get figures to a reasonable standard for the table top in a reasonable time.

When painting irregular, or at least non-uniformed, troops I still try to have a systematic method of painting, so I thought I’d share how I go about it.

For this example, I have 16 Gripping Beast Plastic Saxon Thegns to paint.

I start off by washing the figures in warm soapy water, to remove any mould release agent, then rinse and dry them.

For 28mm infantry I standardise on 2p coins for the bases. I can then use them individually for games like SAGA or Lion Rampant, or on sabot trays for games like Dux Bellorum.

So once cut from the sprues and any mould lined removed with a scalpel and file the figures were stuck to their bases using a general-purpose adhesive, like Bostick.

Cleaned up and based.

Some of the figures have their left arms as part of the torso, others have them as separate pieces. I then assembled the figures using liquid polystyrene cement, except for the shields. I leave the shields off to make it easier to paint the left arm and chest. I do keep a shield handy to check the position of the left arm against the position of the right arm and spear during assembly.

I didn’t have quite enough heads with helmets for the 16 (I had previously used some on some unarmoured bodies) so a couple of the figures had bare heads from the Dark Ages Warriors box. The bases were then built up with Polyfilla.

Assembled, bases built up with polyfila.

I then undercoated the figures with grey car primer spray.

Most of the paints I use are Vallejo Model Colour, exceptions are mainly Army Painter (AP) washes and inks.

First off, I painted any areas of mail matt black, followed by dry-brushed Gunmetal Grey. Spear tips and helmets were painted the same colour. Next the faces, necks and hands were base coated Brown Sand.

Skin basecoat, mail and helmets painted.

Skin was the painted Medium Flesh Tone.

Now to start with the systematic randomisation of colours for the clothing. I arranged the figures into as near a rectangular formation as possible, in this case the 16 figures simply went into four ranks of four files.

I then painted the figure’s trousers by file:

    • Light Brown (A, E, I, M)
    • Chocolate Brown (B, F, J, N)
    • AP Dark Stone (C, G, K, O)
    • Basalt Grey (D, H, L, P)
Skin and Trousers done.

Then the tunics by rank:

    • Grey Blue (A, B, C, D)
    • Deep Green (E, F, G, H)
    • Red (I, J, K, L)
    • Mahogany Brown (M, N, O, P)

If I had been painting lower status troops, I would have used the same colours overall for tunic and trousers, but added an additional colour to the tunic mix to avoid having the tunic and trousers the same colour on any individual figure.

Tunics done.

Next were the leggings, in diagonal lines top left to bottom right

    • Buff (A, F, K, P)
    • Pale Sand (B, G, L, M)
    • Beige (C, H, I, N)
    • Deck Tan (D, E, J, O)
Leggings done.

Next is the leatherwork. Belts, pouches and scabbard in diagonal lines from top right to bottom left, I used the same colours for the figure’s boots in a semi random order.

    • Chocolate Brown.                         Belts etc: (D, G, J, M)      Boots: (A, H, K, N)
    • Red Leather.                                   Belts etc: (C, F, I, P)         Boots: (B, G, L, M)
    • Saddle Brown.                               Belts etc: (B, E, L, O)        Boots: (C, E, J, P)
    • German Cam Black Brown.     Belts etc: (A, H, K, N)       Boots: (D, F, I, O)

Sword and knife hilts were painted in the same colours, plus black, at random.

Next was the hair, again four colours were used, with a semi-random selection of figures, making sure I didn’t use the same colour twice in any row or column of the 16 figures.

    • Black: C, E, L, N
    • Tan Yellow: A, G, J, P
    • Flat Brown: B, H, K, M
    • Brown Sand: D, F, I O
Belts and scabbards done.

Belt buckles and scabbard metalwork were painted either Gunmetal Grey or Bronze.

The spear shafts and wooden crosses were painted Beige Brown and the cords of the crosses painted AP Hemp Rope.

Swords, spear shafts and crosses done.

As always when I paint, I have to do some corrections, reworking any colours that had accidentally been painted over.

After corrections.

Once all the main colours had been finished, I proceeded to the washes.

All skin was given a wash with AP Flesh wash.

The tunics were washed as follows:

    • Blue Wash (A, B, C, D)
    • Green Wash (E, F, G, H)
    • Red Wash (I, J, K, L)
    • Soft tone Wash (M, N, O, P)

Soft Tone was also used for all spears and figures with Red Leather or Saddle Brown Belts, Scabbards and Boots.

    • Red Leather. Belts etc: (C, F, I, P)          Boots: (B, G, L, M)
    • Saddle Brown Belts etc: (B, E, L, O)      Boots: (C, E, J, P)

Dark tone was used for figures with Chocolate Brown or German Cam Black Brown Belts, Scabbards and Boots:

    • Chocolate Brown.                    Belts etc: (D, G, J, M)        Boots: (A, H, K, N)
    • German Cam Black Brown. Belts etc: (A, H, K, N)       Boots: (D, F, I, O)

All leggings and figures with Tan Yellow or Brown Sand hair was washed with AP Light Tone wash.

The bases were then finished with green basetex.

Washes added and bases finished.

Having finished the figures, I moved on to the shields.

These were cleaned up in the same way as the figures, then undercoated black on the backs and white on the front. I use white on the fronts as I was going to use shield transfers rather than painting the designs.

I then drybrushed the back of the shields with Beige Brown and painted the shield bosses Gunmetal Grey while still on the sprues.

Shields work in progress. The white needs touching up.

I then applied the shield transfers to the front. These came from Little Big Men Studios or Battle Flag decals.

Little Big Men Studios decals have a hole for the shield boss already cut out, but the Battle Flag decals don’t, you have to cut those yourself.

I did have some issues with some of the LBMS decals, I couldn’t peel the plastic cover off to expose the self-adhesive surface. After ruining a few of the decals I ended up gluing them to the shield complete with the plastic layer using PVA glue. I haven’t had that problem before, so I wonder if it’s because these are fairly old, 3-4 years maybe? I didn’t have any problems with the Battle Flag decals.

Once the decals had dried, I painted the shield rims with Japanese Uniform to represent the leather edging. Once this was dry, I then cut the shields from the sprues, tidied up the edges with more Japanese Uniform.

Finished shields

The astute among you will notice there are 20 shields, but only 16 figures, the extras will be used as battlefield markers: Fatigue in SAGA, Battered in Lion Rampant, or Leadership Points in Dux Bellorum.

It’s never a good idea to glue painted articles together, paint to paint bonds aren’t strong, so I used a file to remove the paint from the contact points and then used liquid polystyrene cement to glue the shields in place.

The figures were then given a coat of spray matt varnish.

Here they are, 16 figures, making up 4 points of SAGA Hearthguard, a unit of Lion Rampant Sergeants with four figures left over or 2 units of Dux Bellorum Noble Shieldwall:

The finished figures.

The guy on the left of the front rank has a painted shield (Green and Light Blue) from my stash of spare shields rather than one of the shields I did in this session.

So, that’s my method for painting irregulars in a systematic way.

I hope it was of interest.

God Wills It: A Lion Rampant Battle

Stephen gets a bit nostalgic…

The first historical wargames army I ever bought was a Crusader army. It’s always been a period of great interest to me, especially the later crusades of the thirteenth century.

I resisted buying a crusades army in 28mm because that meant I’d also have to get some Saracens and I just didn’t want to paint all that patterned cloth.

Then a while ago I was given a box of plastic Gripping Beast Arab infantry. They sat in a cupboard for a couple of months because I still didn’t have the will to paint all that fabric. Then I saw some pictures of other’s Saracen armies and I saw how they’d done them in plain white material. ‘That’s a good idea’, I thought. So that’s what I did, and decided I’d make the Ghulams a bit more colourful – representing wealthier troops able to buy expensive fabrics.

Being motivated to get these done, I motored through them. And this weekend I decided to have a game. I was going to play Saga, but it doesn’t play solo so well. So instead I went with Lion Rampant…

Forces Deployed

The two sides lined up opposite each other. Both had 24 points a side.

The Crusaders had two units of Templar knights (LR: Mounted Men at Arms), two units of Mounted Sergeants, and one of foot Crossbows.

I gave the Saracens two units of Ghulams (LR: Foot Men at Arms), two units of Ghazis (LR: Foot Yeomen, armed with short range missiles – javelins), and two units of Ahdath (LR: Bidowers).

I did a simple meeting scenario – both sides hacking at each other until one is gone.

I rolled for leader traits and got Vulnerable for the Crusaders (leader killed on a Lucky Blow of 2 or 3) and Lionheart (ironically) for the Saracen leader (meaning his unit could re-roll 2 failed hit dice).

The Saracens went first and they were lucky enough to activate all their units – moving up to occupy favourable terrain that would hamper the mounted crusaders. The Ahdath would be well placed in these areas of bad terrain, where they could lodge themselves in and shoot at the Crusader cavalry. The only solution to this would be the Crusader crossbows, so it would be worth the Saracens taking out the Crossbows as soon as possible.

Saracens Advance

The Crusaders were equally lucky, activating all their units. The Sergeants on the right went galloping past the village, the Crossbows moved up to get into range of the Ahdath hiding in the scrub, and the Knights also moved up.

One thing became obvious – there was a natural funnel to the battlefield between two areas of rough terrain. The Ghulams had moved up to block this gap, with the Ahdath either side with their bows to shoot at anything coming between them. The only thing the Crusaders could do was to advance as quickly as possible to minimise their exposure to the enemy arrows.

Getting Ready To Shoot

The Saracen Ghazis kept moving up to the Crossbows, desperate to engage and eliminate them – if they could it would make a Crusader victory difficult. The other unit of Ghazis, over by the village, decided to hurl their javelins at the approaching Sergeants, scoring enough hits to take one of them out. When it came to the Crusader’s turn they were more than ready to return the gesture. Although the Ghazis were approaching the Crossbows, it was obvious the Crossbows had to take a shot at the Ahdath in the scrub. Spanning their bows, they took aim, and…a devastating volley! The unit of Saracen skirmishers were devastated and routed off the table! Both units of Sergeants advanced – those on the left moved into the middle of the funnel to threaten the Ghulams, whilst those on the right put in their spurs and charged the other Ghazi unit.

Sergeants Charge In

Casualties were taken on both sides and the Ghazis were bounced back. But the Sergeants were now down to half strength which meant their combat effectiveness was also halved.

It was then over to the Saracens to go on the attack. On their activation they sent the Ghazis in to charge the crossbows.

Ghazis Rush The Crossbows

Improbably, the Crossbows prevailed! They didn’t take a single casualty and pushed back the Ghazis who failed their courage roll and were now battered. The other unit of Ghazis managed to rally, ready to block the Sergeants. The remaining unit of Ahdath drew their bows, trying to decide who to shoot at – the unit of Sergeants leading the attack through the funnel, or the unit of Knights who were coming in behind to mop up any remnants the Sergeants left behind.

In Go The Cavalry

Deciding that the Ghulams should be able to resist an attack by the Sergeants, the Ahdath took aim at the Knights and let fly. No effect this time.

Now it was over to the Crusaders. The Sergeants were in charge range of the Saracen leader, so decided to go for it and see if they could get a lucky hit. And they did! OK, so the Saracen leader didn’t go down, but a couple of his Ghulam bodyguards did and had to retreat. The Crossbows, knowing how lucky they’d just been in repelling the Ghazi charge, took aim and let rip. A good shot that took out a couple of the Ghazis. However, best of all, the Ghazis then failed their courage test. It was such a bad fail that they routed off the table.

Sergeants Charge The Saracen Leader

The Saracens had to go on the counter-charge. The Saracen leader ordered his men to charge and in they went against the Sergeants. But it happened again – the Sergeants came out on top. Sort of – no casualties on either side, but since the Saracens had charged and failed they had to retreat. The Ahdath had another go at the Knights, this time scoring a kill. And the Ghazi unit by the village threw more of their javelins at the Sergeants, taking another rider out and leaving them battered.

Templars and Ghulams

Things were coming to a head. The Sergeants, not believing their luck, charged the Saracen leader again. Not such a good result this time – the Sergeants took heavy loses and were pushed back, under half strength and battered! The first unit of Crusader Knights went in and charged the Ghulams. A fairly even result, meaning the Crusaders had to retreat. Had the Saracens managed to turn things around?

Back to the Saracens, and they spent most of their turn rallying units. The Ahdath once again took a shot and once again took out one of the Knights. They were starting to become a real pain.

So on the Crusader turn the Crossbows moved up so they could get in range of the other unit of Saracen skirmishers. The Crusader leader also decided to take part (remember, his leader trait would make him more susceptible to a lucky blow, so he’d been wise to keep out of it until needed). So the Crusader leader took command of his Knights and they charged one of the Ghulam units. Casualties were taken on both sides, and a Lucky Blow roll was made against the Crusader leader: double 6 – nowhere near!

Templar Leader Takes Control

On the Saracen turn I noticed the two leaders were near each other. There was only one thing for it – Leaders Challenge! The Crusader leader accepted. Into the middle they went and rolled for it.

Challenge Accepted

No hits for the Saracen leader, but the Crusader leader scored a hit, meaning the Saracen leader had been killed in personal combat! All the Saracen units now had to make courage rolls. Only the ex-leader’s unit failed, leaving them battered, but all the others passed. There were still enough Saracens left to make it worth fighting on, so I kept the battle going – despite losing their leader, could the Saracens still manage to win?

Well, maybe. But on the Crusaders’ turn the crossbows took a shot at the remaining unit of Ahdath in the rocks. Despite the extra protection, they still lost half their unit and fled. It was now looking extremely unlikely that the Saracens could win this one. All they really had left was a single unit of Ghazis. Well, there were the Ghulams, but both of those units were down to just two models each, so they’d lost their punch.

One Last Charge

Ultimately and inevitably, it would be a Crusader victory. The Crusader leader, emboldened by his victory with the Saracen leader in single combat, led his knights in repeated charges on the final unit of Ghazis. The Ghazis were steadily whittled down until they finally failed their courage test.

And that was it – a Crusader win.

The Saracens

What A (Grav) Tanker! (Part 2)

Marcus gives us the next instalment of his Sci FI adaption of What a Tanker!

I have continued to develop my WA(G)T ideas since the first outing and this is the third time on the table. Well actually on the floor again, but I did at least get to use the table for game 2.

I have introduced some changes, and there are more ideas to come. Firstly, I went back to the original Lardy allocation for the dice orders. On reflection I didn’t feel much was gained by that change.

Secondly, this time I added in a command group each. I tried this in the first game but adjusted how they worked this time.  For simplicity I gave both command groups four dice. The idea behind these is that they can (apart from making nice objectives for the enemy maybe…) use their dice to cancel enemy orders or supplement their own units die rolls. I played it that the command units needed to roll at least one 6 to use as a comms/data link. At first it was too easy to disrupt enemy shooting by allowing any dice rolled by a command unit to cancel an enemy order dice. This time I went for the following options:

      1. Cancel one enemy move dice or substitute a friendly unit dice
      2. Cancel or add an acquisition dice
      3. Add/Improve aim
      4. Add a shoot dice
      5. Add a defensive dice
      6. Comms/data link

I also added in missiles in both games. However, in the first game they didn’t work satisfactorily. In the second, well, you’ll see.

I added in a wider selection of cards than in the original WAT game, to add some sci-fi flavour. Some were successful, although those relating to missiles need to be revised.

Finally, influenced by PSC’s “Red Alert” which I have written about previously, the biggest change in this iteration was the number of vehicles on the table (sorry, floor!) with a shift to multiple element units. Essentially these employed the same stats as used previously with a hit just removing one vehicle.

There were a few new or adjusted vehicles. The “attack boats” were a Callisto class boat, as seen in the previous game, but with a change to a missile launcher in place of the forward twin gun. It is a modular design (the turrets on the models are magnetised). The two smaller boats notionally have vertical launch cells under the bow cover. These still acted like one unit, although in retrospect I think I should have upped the defence value and/or the hits that could be taken, especially on the larger Ganymede.

Additional units:

Core Dice Max Attack Defence Movement
Attack Boats 6 Ganymede 8 missiles; Leda & Ersa 4 each 8 6
Pz 35 “Hornisse” 5 15 9 9
Command Units 4 0 8 7

The British started with 2 groups of 4 Chieftains, one of 4 Ferret’s and the naval group of Ganymede, Leda and Ersa plus the command group, see the header picture.

The NAU had 3 groups of 4 Wespe, 1 group of 4 Hornisse  and the command group.

The Hornisse models are envisaged as earlier models which have not been completely replaced by a later version, but are ideal for service in a riverine/swamp environment (maybe they should be better than grav vehicles over this kind of terrain. I always envisaged grav vehicles having more “mushy” responsiveness over wide stretches of water)

Ersa and Leda are also from GZG. The Hornisse is from the Osario from the Scotia range. As an objective I thought about both making this the command groups or taking the previous route; the British was to get the Callisto off the far river edge with the NAU needing to prevent this. In the end I went for just targeting the naval group and playing out a few turns.

Activation worked as previously, but I forgot about the “exploding 6’s” for hits. It seemed likely to be a more destructive game anyway…

Here is an “drone” shot of the initial set up:

With shots from the British perspective:

And the NAU positions:

Turn 1:

The NAU took the initiative moving the green Pz 37 unit up, seen at the bottom of the drone recce photo,  and the corresponding yellow unit to the top. The yellow unit benefited from a stealth card requiring an additional 2 acquisition dice. The British Ferrets activating next were unable to move, but prepped for future activation with the idea that they would designate targets for the missiles on the naval units if possible. The Ganymede group also moved up and were able to acquire and aim at the NAU yellow group having rolled three 6’s.

The cautious positioning continued since the British had no data link and the GBR yellow group were therefore unable to acquire the stealthed NAU yellows. No firing took place this turn.

Turn 2:

The NAU again gained the initiative (on exactly the same number of dice as the GBR), continuing a theme from the last game.

NAU command had rolled two 6 (one of which could be used as data link) and two “shoot” dice last turn. The dice rolled for the last turn continue to be available until a unit activates in the subsequent turn and rolls a new “hand” of dice.

The NAU orange “Hornisse” hover tanks moved forward in the centre, but were unable to find a target in line of sight. However, NAU blue had no such difficulty. Moving to acquire the naval group they launched a 15 dice attack. Despite the GBR side using a card for a D6 firer systems down, resulting in a reduction of only 1 attack dice to 14. A roll of 6655 didn’t seem too threatening, until the 8 defence dice yielded no blocks! A further desperate defensive systems card for the GBR took out one of the critical hits, but under the new rules either critical (6) or a double hit (55) would destroy a target. While the card saved the Ganymede the Ersa and Leda were destroyed.

In response the GBR yellow Chieftain unit moved out of cover and launch a retaliatory attack on the more exposed NAU yellow unit.  With 13 attack dice -1 for range attenuation, the Brits roll 666655. Despite playing an “All power to shields” card, the NAU rolls only a 65 against the incoming fire, seeing three of the four vehicles in the unit destroyed. The remaining vehicle rolled a test and stayed in the fight (D6 higher than the number of vehicles destroyed)

GBR orange Ferrets attack the “Hornisse” unit, having rolled 6543 (using the wild 6 as a 2 to acquire), but hits of 665 were all blocked . The Ganymede went into stealth mode with a card.

Both command units now activated successively and maintained comms/data links.

The turn concluded with a GBR Green Cheiftain attack on the exposed NAU yellow over the river with a 6555 on 13 dice. With only a defence of 4 the unit still blocked with 65 resulting in one tank destroyed.

Turn 3:

This proved to be the final round of a vicious confrontation.

The NAU maintained the initiative and their yellow unit used an extra command unit acquisition dice to make 3 allowing them to target the Ganymede in stealth mode. 15 dice resulted in a 66666. A defensive systems card d4 roll resulted in two of these being cancelled. The Ganymede’s defence dice only took out one of the remaining hits, resulting in a mighty explosion as the last two critical hits crashed home. BOOM!

The NAU red Hornisse unit rolls 65511. However, despite being unable to acquire or aim, using a “snapshot” card, they are able to make a reduced level attack. A ten dice attack results in an unlikely 66655. The green unit with all power switched to attack is unable to stop any of these critical hits, although a damage control card cancels the non-criticals.

NAU command rolls a 5321. Without a data link it cannot use any of these dice to support its units. NAU Green rolls 633322  continuing the paralysis on the NAU left flank as without a shoot order, they cannot get into the fight.

The GBR command group still has data link and the GBR yellow unit uses a command unit 2 to acquire NAU yellow. With a 13566 and the 2, the GBR unit can make two attacks using the wild 66 as 44 shoot orders.  A 66655 followed by 65555 leaves the NAU unit doomed, having only two for defence against each attack.

That effectively ended the action for the round and the game, with both sides more or less suffering equal damage and choosing to retire.

As alluded to earlier, the missile rules didn’t get tested and the cards need further development given the rule changes. Overall though, I like the changes; having the extra vehicles on the board “Red Alert” style and the command unit rules, although these could evolve further.  While the game was excessively destructive I think that was a function of the lack of defensive allocation and a need to restructure the cards  to reflect rule developments. The cards are a key thing to work on going forward.

However, missiles still need work. I am thinking of rolling one dice (probably a D6 but maybe others depending on missile characteristics) per missile and in the spirit of using the same dice in a different way, rolling the defence dice to block the specific number rolled (i.e. a defensive 6 would take out any attacking rolls of 6, a 2 would take out any attack rolls of 2 etc.)

I hope to develop the command group idea and use multiple groups (2/3 perhaps depending on the size of game).

I have an idea that I might do an Antarctic game going forward. I have a suitable shower curtain that I used as a mat for a club show game. However, I have no suitable vehicles or other terrain. In the interim I may break out my island terrain (a couple of pictures of which can be seen here) for the next game and hopefully some future blogs might cover painting vehicles (probably striping and re-painting old vehicles) in snow camo and creating some terrain.

Look out for further developments!

Night Raid on Qui Nhon

John reports on a follow up game to Treasure Islands, using Ganesha Games Galleys and Galleons rules and his scratch built junks.

Angry that she’d missed out on treasure from the wrecked ships, Li Chee the Pirate Queen shadowed Admiral Feng Shui from the islands to Qui Nhon in the South China Sea. Determined to exact revenge, she planned a night raid on the harbour at Qui Nhon (see picture above).

She hoped to capture one of the junks, avoiding the larger Treasure Ships and the Admiral’s Flagship. She’d also have to avoid the attentions of the fort guarding the harbour entrance.

Li Chee passes the fort guarding Qui Nhon Harbour

All Feng Shui’s ships were moored facing into the wind. Li Chee decided to go for the smallest Junk. This would make a fine pirate Junk to accompany her on further adventures and was bound to hold some treasure too.

In this scenario, Feng Shui can only activate when Li Chee performs a boarding or firing action.

The first activation. Li Chee rolls up to 3 activation dice requiring 2+ to take an action. The double 5 indicates a change in wind direction of one point clockwise.

Li Chee slowly and silently passed by the fort and after several moves is in a position upwind of the smallest Junk ready to strike in a swift and deadly boarding action.

Li Chee’s crew have ‘Derring Do’. This reduces the combat value of both vessels to zero in the first boarding action of the game. They are intimidating so get a +1 modifier. The enemy Junk has a -2 modifier from the scenario and a further -1 being a Merchantman. The Junk is tripled and takes 3 damage. Ouch!

The hapless Junk attempts to cut the grapples and head away.

Two activations are sufficient to cut the grapples but the ‘1’ requires the ship to take an all at sea roll. A ‘3’ is reduced by 1 as Li Chee is a Dread Pirate. Li Chee decides to let the Junk continue. She will move in for the kill next turn.

All this commotion has alerted Feng Shui, who turns his junk which is in irons to a firing position.

In the next round of combat, Li Chee takes her prize – now to escape!

The captured junk is now manned by a prize crew and Feng Shui opens fire on it.

Feng Shui opens fire to no effect. The reinforced Junk hull proving invaluable.

As the pirate junks begin to pull away to safety, Feng Shui makes a boarding attempt on Li Chee’s junk. Li Chee is in great peril.

Boarding! Li Chee has an intimidating crew and gets +1 but Feng Shui has a higher combat value, high castles and Drilled Soldiers. The dice roll saves Li Chee but the Feng Shui’s veteran NCO rallies the troops.

It had been a lucky escape for Li Chee and using actions to cut the grapples and break free she was able to move away from Feng Shui, who was now in a bad position and would have to sail round the island or lose time in irons. The two pirate junks would now have to run the gauntlet of the fort.

The fort opens fire first on the captured junk.

The Junk is not doubled but the ‘6’ dice roll causes a point of damage.

And then on the Pirate Queen.

The fort fires on the Pirate Queen to no effect.

As the pirate Junks head for safety, the fort manages to fire on them again a longer range but fails to score a hit.

As the sun begins to rise in the east, Li Chee and her pirate crews make good their escape.

It had been a close-run thing but now, Li Chee had a second junk which she would repair and turn into a formidable fighting ship. Feng Shui was worried as he tried to get to grips with the Chilli Crab. The treacherous Straits of Malacca would have to be negotiated with their swirling currents and risk of ambush – things did not look good.

Appendix

This game was based on the cutting out scenario from the Galleys and Galleons rule book. Vessel and fort stats below:

Feng Shui’s flotilla:

Li Chee’s ship:

KONTRABAND – A ZONA ALFA EXPANSION

John gives a the low down on the Kontraband expansion for Zona Alfa, and a prize winning battle report on one of the scenarios from the book.  

John tells us “There’s a competition on the F/B page for battle reports. I sent a copy of the article to the rules author and I’ve won a copy of the rule book signed by the author and illustrator.”

Zona Alfa was published by Osprey in early 2020. It’s a skirmish game set in the Chernobyl exclusion zone where teams battle for salvage and hope to survive. I’d hoped to play it at the club, then along came the pandemic. The author supports the game well via the Stalker 7 website and solo or Coop rules were soon developed, where the player games against the zone itself rather than a physical opponent. I’ve posted 3 battle reports here and you can check out Guerrilla Miniature Games U Tube channel where a full 7 game campaign is played out. These rules are highly recommended.

Kontraband is an 80 page expansion to the Zona Alfa ruleset (which you will need to play Kontraband), available through Amazon as hardcopy or Wargames Vault as a pdf. It develops the ideas above to take the game in a different direction, recommending a play area of 3’ x 3’ and a crew of 4 veterans. It is set deep in the Exclusion Zone at high threat level so it’s worth playing through a few standard Zona Alfa games before diving in. Here’s what’s in the book.

Crew Members.

Crew members can either be Stalkers – good at combat or Scientists – good at technical tasks, a further option is to include a dog companion for which there are detailed rules and additional rules for Hazmat suits. Each crew member can have different equipment or skills so it’s worth spending the time to make them complementary.

Zone Setting.

The play area is populated with a recommended nine searchable locations (points of interest). The crew have to live off the land so these need to be searched for food, drink, ammo etc. to sustain the crew for the next game. There are 20 points of interest cards from which the 9 are randomly selected, shuffled and placed as an Incident Deck, the top card being revealed when a point of interest is searched. These cards are nearly all bad news and may spawn a zone hostile within close combat distance, dangerous plants or booby traps. There is a greater emphasis on melee combat than in Zona Alfa.

The objective of the game is to search Anomalies to retrieve artifacts (the recommended goal for a campaign being 12 artifacts). It is recommended that the play area for a game has 3 Anomalies to search. The rules for anomalies are fleshed out and there are options for different area effects if the anomaly search goes wrong – four ways to die. Models can be caught in a gravity force field, electrocuted, blasted or teleported away from the anomaly.

There is no game turn limit, the risk of staying in a dangerous area is handled by zone events. Starting on the second move, and becoming more likely with each subsequent move, there is a risk of a zone event, for example: an energy wave, vermin stampede, security patrol, angry mutant or anomaly movement to ruin your day.

New Stuff

This covers a better way of dealing with wounds than the original rule book, there are new weapons and accessories with better options for melee combat. Zone hostiles can be made more dangerous and the concept of fatigue and obsessions are introduced. In Zona Alfa, progression is covered from Rookie through to Veteran. In Kontraband, crew members can add sixth sense, extra toughness, and an additional skill after a number of survived missions.

Missions and Expeditions.

There are 6 separate mission ideas for pick- up games or to link together to form an expedition and a sample expedition of 5 missions in the rulebook. So whilst waiting for some new figures, I decided to try out the reconnaissance mission.

Here is the table layout with 9 POI (blank dice) and 3 anomalies (Spheres), the crew will enter at the bottom RH  corner. Their mission is to search the 4 POI at the corners as a minimum, destroying all Zone Hostiles and retrieving samples from any of the corner POI which contain a hazard. I selected a crew with 3 Stalkers and 1 Scientist.

Turn 1.

For the first turn the crew will check out the POI closest to their entry point, the abandoned farm equipment. Each crew member can have three actions per turn and it’s worth using one action “alert” to provide overwatch for the Searcher. The top card from the Incident deck is revealed.

Here the vermin swarm is spawned by using a D10. The dice roll number is the distance in inches/2 from the POI and the facing gives the direction. The Leader (Nimzo), with the steady hands skill and a red dot sight has one action before the swarm can charge into the nearest model and attack it. They are destroyed.

Had the incident card been a bandit ambush, it’s likely that one or more crew members would have been out of action on turn one, unless crew members are on alert to take pre-emptive action.

The Searcher (Ali) has the scrounger skill so can search the POI twice, He secures rations, water and ammo which the crew will need for the next mission – in the game you have to think about the future as well as the present.

Turn 2

At each turn after turn 1 a D10 is rolled. The die roll is added to the turn number and if the result is greater than 10, a zone event occurs the subsequent turn. No zone event for turn 3.

The crew head up the board and Sukova (a Scientist) is best equipped to search the anomaly, which she does.

Here, a skill roll of 8 would normally fail but Sukova is equipped with a Detector which gives her a +2 bonus and she recovers an artefact, which would count towards a campaign goal.

Turn 3

A zone event, an anomaly shift will take place at the start of turn 4. The crew move up to the top RH corner of the board to search the POI, next turn. This will not affect the crew as they will be out of range.

Turn 4

No zone event is rolled. Spassky (Bounty Hunter) checks the POI – not the best option. The card reveals a zone hazard ‘Spores and Spitters’. He survives one attack and retrieves a sample from the POI.

Turn 5

The zone event roll results in an Alpha Predator entering the board at the start of turn 6.

The crew move towards the POI at the top left hand corner of the board but reserve an alert action to use against the Predator when it enters the board. Where possible, they move into cover, this will give protection against the attacking Predator which has Ranged and Melee combat abilities

Turn 6

An area emission effect will arrive at the start of turn 7

The predator enters, this is a dangerous opponent with high armour value. Ruined buildings prevent a direct attack route and it is forced wide and after 3 movement actions it has none left to attack the crew. It’s the crew’s turn and Ali fires the grenade launcher and scores one wound. The Leader gives him an extra action to get into cover. Spassky with Steady hands and a Red Dot sight on his battle rifle fires at the predator. It takes 3 firing actions but the predator is downed. Spassky is stuck in the open.

Turn 7

The Zone event roll results in another Alpha predator arriving. Things are not good for Spassky. He takes the full force of the Zone emission, he’s pinned and wounded and it takes all his actions to recover. Nimzo gives him an action to go on alert. The rest of the team move round to deal with the Predator when it enters.

Turn 8

The zone event roll brings up another zone emission at the start of the next turn.

The Predator enters, Ali fires a grenade which causes one wound, whilst Nimzo causes another. Spassky lobs a smoke grenade at the Predator which has to take a will check. It rolls a 10. This is an automatic pin and the will failure adds another. It will take 2 actions to remove the pinned counter but the Predator will still be able to attack Spassky once when it emerges from the smoke.

It’s a straight roll off, Spassky has the knife man skill and is armed with a Trench knife. Both adversaries roll a hit. Spassky could use his roll to parry the attack from the Predator but he’s a Bounty Hunter. Both take a wound and the Predator is destroyed.

Ali makes it to the thicket which holds the POI they must search for. Sukova manages to search a second anomaly and  grab an artefact before ducking into cover. Nimzo orders Spassky to seek cover under farm machinery. Nimzo joins him there to apply a med kit.

Turn 9

The zone event for the next turn is another Alfa Predator

This turn, the effect of the zone emission is negated because all crew members are in cover. Nimzo and Spassky go on alert whilst Sukova searches a POI, which reveals a mutant.

The mutant spawns 4 inches away from the POI and is downed by Spassky. Sukova retrieves some ‘hotload’ ammo for the crew.

Meanwhile Ali’s search triggers a Zone Hazard  – cobwebs.

Ali avoids the effect of the Zone Hazard, collecting a sample and retrieves a Lithium battery, Med Kit and heavy weapons reload. He will need this for the grenade launcher next mission.

Nimzo gives Ali an extra action so he can go on alert and get in position to attack the Predator the next turn

Turn 10

The zone event for move 11 is another zone emission.

The Predator enters but the crew are ready. Ali fires a grenade causing one wound and Spassky finishes it off with two shoot actions, the extra damage from his AS Val battle rifle proving crucial. In their move, the crew race towards the final POI that needs to be searched to complete the mission. They duck into cover to avoid the effect of the emission. Ali moves slower as he is slowed down by the heavy weapon.

Turn 11

The zone event for move 12 is the arrival of a Spetsnaz zone patrol

The zone emission has no effect and the crew continue towards the final POI. Spassky searches the POI – Marsh gas, if he fails the will check, he will fire at the nearest crew member! He passes and collects a sample having an action to clear the board. The rest of the crew follow, Ali needs to take a swig of Electric Juice to give him the extra action before the Zone Patrol enters.

The incident packed game had taken just over 90 minutes, a bit longer to make commentary notes and photos. I really enjoyed the game which adds extra detail to the Zona Alfa ruleset. I’ve played this scenario 4 times now, each game was different and challenging. I’d recommend this game to all players- whether you are a regular player or a sceptic who felt the original game wasn’t for them.

Reflections

Zona Alfa and Kontraband are well supported by the author who has answered any queries or clarification promptly. The Facebook page is an excellent and supportive source for the game, no bitchy point scorers on this site which is refreshing compared to other wargaming Facebook pages I subscribe to.

 

The 3 S’s: Stargrave, Space: 1999 and Serenity

Andy tells a story of repurposing an Eagle…

With the announcement of the release of Stargrave last year one of our members suggested that as a lockdown project those interested might like to kitbash or scratchbuild a shuttle or spaceship and paint up a 15mm crew for the game, with a target date of early 2021 when we hoped we might be able to resume meetings. The due date was of course extended.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

Actually, no, it was in the 1970’s in Rochester, I bought and made up an Airfix Space 1999 Eagle Transporter. Said model has followed me around various student lodgings, digs, flats and finally my current home.

So, I had a search in the loft and found the Eagle. It’s not had very much use, but at one point I completely repainted it into a non-cannon scheme.

Eagle as found

I noticed that the thruster units were missing, I have a vague recollection that I removed them for the last repaint, and put them in a ziplock bag somewhere. Exactly where I don’t recall, hopefully they will turn up at some point.

Having found the model I decided I didn’t want to do a full strip and repaint, but I wasn’t that keen on the colour scheme I had used for the doors on the cargo pod or cockpit.

I decided to just touch up the grey and repaint the cargo pod and cockpit panels. I started off by giving the doors and the cockpit panels a couple of coats of Foundation White. Once dry I then repainted the doors and panels with Fluorescent Orange, with some black lining. The instrument panels at the top of the doors were painted Gunmetal Grey.

I also decided that the main engine nozzles need a touch-up, matt black inside and Gunmetal Grey outside. I also repainted the black panels on the cockpit section. I suspect my decision to use a grey and orange scheme may have been influenced by old Royal Navy SAR helicopters.

I had a rummage through my spare transfer box and found quite a few sheets from some Hasegawa 1:72nd scalexe UH-1D Helicopters I’d built for Vietnam games. This gave me a load of duplicate registration numbers, plus some Japanese Kanji characters. I gloss varnished the areas I to which I was going to place the transfers, added some 5-digit numbers to the front and sides, and larger two-digit numbers to the sides and top surfaces. I also added a Kanji block to the sides of the cargo pod, these actually read Rikujōjieitai or “Japan Ground Self Defence Force”. The reasons for adding some Kanji characters will become clearer later.

Eagle repainted

While I was working on the Eagle and posting WIP pictures on the MWS groups.io discussion page a debate arose about whether I should give the Eagle some weapons. There were arguments in favour and against, some of which were quite passionate.

I decided to try and have the best of both worlds, and make the guns detachable. Looking at the Eagle the spinal lattice work had gaps of approximately one inch. I thought I could make some inserts to fit this lattice to hold the guns.

I started by cutting some 25mm square sections of 5mm foamboard, then trimming about 2 mm off each edge of one of the cardboard faces and the underlying foam. This needs to be done carefully so as not to cut through the second face. This results in a roughly 21mm square “plug” with a 25mm square upper face. I made two of these.

Left to right: 25mm square foamboard, markings for the edge cuts, the roughly 21mm square plug with 25mm upper face.

I obtained a selection of spare guns from Brigade’s 15mm Accessories range, and made two gun packs, one fixed gun firing forward using a Triple Powergun and one with four Remote Weapons Mounts, think of some small Vulcan Phalanx systems.

I painted the guns Gunmetal grey and the body of the pack as close a match to the Eagle’s grey as I could mix. I then gave the guns a liberal coat of Army Painter Dark Tone wash.

Eagle Guns (L to R) Chin gun from a Kirin walker, Triple Powergun, Remote Weapon Mount

These gun packs just push fit into the spinal lattice, the foam is flexible enough to deform as they fit into place and expand again to hold them solid. The separate twin turret just fits into a recess in the cockpit section.

Eagle guns mounted

Now onto the crew.

A while ago I was tempted by a couple of GZG figure packs that bore an uncanny resemblance to the cast of a certain 2000’s Sci Fi TV show and film. Shiny. So, these would become the crew of the Eagle.

I mounted these on some 16mm diameter washers, built up the bases with Polyfilla and undercoated them with grey primer.

I found a few pictures of the cast on the web and used those as inspiration for the colour scheme, or as close as I could get with the mostly Valljeo paints I had available. The bases were then finished off with basetex and the figures varnished.

Three of the cast had duplicate figures, either different clothing and / or weapons, so I painted the second version in slightly different colours so that they could be used as different characters if required.

Left to right: two versions each of the Captain, Enforcer and First Mate.

The other six members of the crew only had a single casting each:

Left to right: Telepathic teenage ninja girl and her brother the Doctor; Pilot (husband of the First Mate), Engineer, Shepherd (sort of a priest) and Courtesan.

Oh, and the use of the Kanji script on the Eagle? In the TV show the characters speak a mixture of American English and Mandarin (the latter usually mild profanities) and the latter also appears in company names and logos, the Kanji decals were the closest I had to Mandarin.

I originally thought that the Airfix kit was 1:72nd scale, but if so, the crew would have to be contortionists to fit in the cockpit.

Off to Google. There’s quite a few websites dedicated to Space: 1999. I found one website that states that the Eagle is 76 feet (23.16m) long which, given the model length of 300mm nose to engine nozzles, would make the kit  approximately 1:77th scale; another  compares the Airfix kit to the different Eagle models used in the TV series, which were not necessarily consistent with each other.

This suggests that the Airfix model is likely to be closer to 1:96th scale. I could probably start some arguments if I started making pronouncements that 15mm = 1:100 scale (personally I reckon it’s closer to 1:120), but the bottom line is I think that the Eagle looks OK next to 15mm figures, and the crew could get into the cockpit without scraping their heads on the ceiling.

Unarmed Eagle and crew

Wherever you have protagonists you need antagonists. As far as I could see GZG didn’t do any of the TV show’s “baddies”, the Alliance, so I went elsewhere.

Brigade models do some Uniformed Starship Crew and some Tank Crew in helmets. I got a pack of each. Unfortunately, the bases on these were too small to glue directly to the washers, so I had to cut some suitably sized cardboard fillers to bridge the gap. These figures got a generic mid grey uniform with some red and silver highlights here and there. Depending on your viewpoint these are the heroes of justice, or the lackeys of the oppressive state.

Alliance Officers: The Commander (2nd left) and her Lieutenants.
Alliance Grunts

These chaps don’t have a ship of their own, but I do have a vehicle, a Brigade Javelot scout car, for them.

Grunts and car

It might be a bit tight for all 8 of them in there, so I might need to get them more transport!

Stephen’s Stargrave Crew

Stephen enthuses about Stargrave and describes a couple of crews he has put together.

Image backdrops are used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License from Deviant Art user Moodyblue https://www.deviantart.com/moodyblue

I’m really excited about Stargrave.

I can see myself wanting to play it loads (mind you, there’s loads of other games I want to play as well – currently undergoing bad Saga withdrawal symptoms).

Lucky for me, I have enough figures and scenery to get started with Stargrave, no need to paint before play, etc.

So what I have here is an introduction to two crews I have put together.

The first group are a party of scavengers from the Candolorian system. They are led by Elias Dante, captain of The Devastator, and a rogue who has been one side of the galaxy to the other. With Elias is Imjin Tik-tok, a Tuncoul and experienced tekker who looks after Elias’ droids.

Captain Elias and Imjin

The droids themselves are TT-1B and CLN-T 35TWD. 1B is an old sentry bot who’s had his software updated. CLN-T is of unknown origin.

TT-1B and CLN-T 35TWD

The rest of the crew are made up of Mackenzie Talian, Quill Raiker, and Murch Nagu. Mac and Quill have known each other for years and have worked on many heists and smuggling jobs. Murch is a Thecan and a heavy trooper from the wars.

Mackenzie, Quill, and Murch

Next up is Madam Sholay, a psionicist and owner of The Monsoon – a converted Hauler class light freighter. First mate on The Monsoon is a biomorph called Shoggoth, who never strays far from Sholay’s side.

Madam Sholay and Shoggoth

The crew of The Monsoon is made up of ex-military personnel. There’s Aidan Kenver and Yammet de la Cruz, a pair of advance party pathfinders.

Aidan and Yammet

And rounding off the group are Mallias Bygrove and Zanford Schneider, two snipers who have a long list of kills to their names.

Mallias and Zanford
The crew of the Monsoon

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

 

Dark Ages Assorted

Here is the third and final instalment of Andy’s recently finished Dark Ages figures.

Above we have four figures from Westwind Productions DS04 Character pack, comprising (left to right) Arthur, a Bishop, Merlin and Owain.

The pack came with a selection of heads and shields for Arthur and Owain however, at some point in the painting process (interrupted by Christmas when I had to clear my painting table) I lost the shields. So Owain now has a spare Saxon shield and, as I used a Romano-British looking head for Arthur, I gave him a Late Roman shield, both from Gripping Beast Plastics.

Paints are primarily Vallejo acrylics over a grey primer finished off with Army Painter washes. Arthur and Owain’s shields were painted white and finished with Battle Flag or Little Big Men Studios transfers.

Unknown source, Ral Partha Bard, Gripping Beast Blind Seer, Gripping Beast Viking Warlord

The last four figures from this batch are from a variety of manufacturers.

I’m not sure where the figure on the left came from, Irregular or Lamming perhaps? The figure was originally unarmed, so I drilled out his right hand and fitted an axe from the spares box. If I need him to fill out a unit I may give him a shield.

Next in line is a bard or skald from Ral Partha Europe, he’s playing a harp of some form.

The Skald

The last two models are both from Gripping Beast. First off is the Blind Seer and his boy, finally a Viking Warlord.

After these were finished I had a bit of a diversion in scale and period, doing some 15mm Sci Fi figures before returning to the Dark Ages with some Saxon Thegns, but more of those later.

MWS Quiz Retrospective 16/09/2020 answers

Answers to Peter’s quiz from last year.

Pictures used are public domain or used under Creative Commons licence. Click the image to see attribution and details.

Q01a: Which river in Greek mythology would travellers take to the Underworld

Answer: River Styx

Q01b: What was the name of the Ferryman

Answer: Charon

Q02a: What was the home base of Stingray in the TV series

Answer: Marineville

Q02b: From the same series can you name either the ruler of the undersea city of Titanica, or the code name of his surface agent.

Answer: Mighty Titan OR Agent X20

Q03a : Which river separated Rome from the northern provinces of Italy, over which it was forbidden for a general to bring troops without permission of the Senate?

Answer: Rubicon

Q03b: Which Roman General’s crossing of it precipitated the civil war of 49BC

Answer: Julius Caesar

Q04a: At which major river crossing did Napoleon suffer his greatest losses in the retreat from Moscow in 1812

Answer: Niemen

Q04b: Which French Marshal commanded the crossing operation and covering forces?

Answer: Marshal Ney

Q05a: What is the name of this aircraft?

Question 5a (Credit Tony Hisget. Click image for details)

Answer: Fairy Swordfish

Q05b: What is the name of its successor?Question

5b (Public domain. Click image for details)

Answer: Fairy Abelcore

Q06a: Where did the first major naval battle of WW2 take place?

Answer: River Plate

Q06b: Where did the Graf Spee take refuge after the battle?

Answer: Montevideo, Uraguay

Q07a: Who was the captain of the first submarine Nautilus?

Answer: Nemo (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea)

Q07b: Where or when was the first operational submarine used in combat?

Answer: American War of Independence, Sept 7 1776 the “Turtle” attacked the British flagship HMS Eagle in New York harbour

Q08a: Where was the first major land action of the combined allied armies fought against Imperial Russia in 1854?

Answer: River Alma

Q08b Which river gave its name to the battle in autumn 1914 which stopped the German advance on Paris?

Answer: River Marne

Q09a: Which combat over the river Derwent ended Scandinavian hopes in England?

Answer: Battle of Stamford Bridge, 1066

Q09b: Which battle of ‘Black Week’ in the 2nd Boer War was fought at a river crossing?

Answer: Battle of the Modder River, 1899

Q10a: Which Indiana Jones film starred River Phoenix as young Indy?

Answer: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Q10b: Where was Thoeden’s son Theodred killed?

Answer: At the Fords of Isen

Q11a: Which river did this bridge span?

Question 11a (Public Domain. Click image for details)

Answer: The Rhine (at Remagen)

Q11b: Name any ludicrous attempts to destroy it after its capture by US Forces?

Any of the following answers: V2 rocket, Arado jet, Frogmen, 600mm Karl-Gerät, naval mines

Q12a: Which club show game featured British ‘stay behind’ partisans in a 1940 ‘What If’?

Answer: Bridge on the River Wye (2011-12)

Q12b: Several club games of the 2nd VietNam war featured riverine action. Which river was the primary focus?

Answer: The Mekong

MWS Quiz Retrospective 16/09/2020

Here’s the third of Peter’s quizzes from last year. Answers Monday evening.

Pictures used are public domain or used under Creative Commons licence. Click the image to see attribution and details (after answering, of course)

Q01a: Which river in Greek mythology would travellers take to the Underworld

Q01b: What was the name of the Ferryman

Q02a: What was the home base of Stingray in the TV series

Q02b: From the same series can you name either the ruler of the undersea city of Titanica, or the code name of his surface agent.

Q03a : Which river separated Rome from the northern provinces of Italy, over which it was forbidden for a general to bring troops without permission of the Senate?

Q03b: Which Roman General’s crossing of it precipitated the civil war of 49BC

Q04a: At which major river crossing did Napoleon suffer his greatest losses in the retreat from Moscow in 1812

Q04b: Which French Marshal commanded the crossing operation and covering forces?

Q05a: What is the name of this aircraft?

Question 5a (Credit Tony Hisget. Click image for details)

Q05b: What is the name of its successor?

Question 5b (Public domain. Click image for details)

Q06a: Where did the first major naval battle of WW2 take place?

Q06b: Where did the Graf Spee take refuge after the battle?

Q07a: Who was the captain of the first submarine Nautilus?

Q07b: Where or when was the first operational submarine used in combat?

Q08a: Where was the first major land action of the combined allied armies fought against Imperial Russia in 1854?

Q08b Which river gave its name to the battle in autumn 1914 which stopped the German advance on Paris?

Q09a: Which combat over the river Derwent ended Scandinavian hopes in England?

Q09b: Which battle of ‘Black Week’ in the 2nd Boer War was fought at a river crossing?

Q10a: Which Indiana Jones film starred River Phoenix as young Indy?

Q10b: Where was Thoeden’s son Theodred killed?

Q11a: Which river did this bridge span?

Question 11a (Public Domain. Click image for details)

Q11b: Name any ludicrous attempts to destroy it after its capture by US Forces?

Q12a: Which club show game featured British ‘stay behind’ partisans in a 1940 ‘What If’?

Q12b: Several club games of the 2nd VietNam war featured riverine action. Which river was the primary focus?