Saturday, October 29, 2016

Taking Advantage Again - Figures and Painting

Chinese infantry - picture from GZG
Although I placed a recent order from GZG a few weeks ago, they are having their classic buy four get one free offer through Halloween, so I decided to take advantage of no VAT, a low exchange rate, and the offer of a free pack to add to the Moongrunt project.  Five packs of figures on their way from Old Blighty to the United States for $19.99 which includes shipping.  A pretty good deal!

With the forces I am organizing, I needed some additional Chinese to create more squads which will give the Chinese a larger force, which in my mind as based in some history seems logical.  I will have enough figures for four squads of Chinese to go against four fire-teams of Marines.  

Khurasan DEVGRU painted by Micropanzer
With my inability to leave figures lying about on the dining room table in various stages of painting (for some reason the wife likes to have the dining room table cleared for dinner...go figure!), I have decided to hire out a professional painter to complete the Moongrunt project.  As I really like the style of the painted figures I have purchased from Jason at Micropanzer, I contacted him via Facebook to see if he was doing any commission work.  Within a few minutes I had a reply to my message that indeed he was getting back into the painting business, so once I receive my pending order with GZG I will come up with some sort of scheme ideas and send the figures off to Jason.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Moongrunt Ratings for Tomorrow's War

Chinese Lunar troops - picture from GZG website
I have mentioned the GZG Moongrunt figures on previous posts, and finally got around to buying some recently.  They are crackin' good figures (as really all the GZG figures I have seen or purchased are), and they beg to get on the gaming table.  While looking over various sci-fi rules to use, I have decided to go with the tried and true Tomorrow's War by Ambush Alley Games.  I thought at first that the tech level aspect that is within TW might have caused an issue, but making the assumption that both sides have the same comparable technology, I can ignore the tech level aspect altogether.

I did rate the Chinese as having a heavier support weapon and better defense in their pressure suits, but this is offset by giving the U.S. Marines better morale and unit capabilities.  I kept the Marines with a four man fireteam, leading to a thirteen man squad, while using a three man cell organization for the Chinese.  It will take some play-testing to see how the ratings and unit organization balance out, but as it stand the Marine fireteam will throw up to nine dice (if using their grenade launchers) while the PLA will throw eight dice (again using their GLs).  

Here is my organization.  Please feel free to comment with suggestions!

People’s Liberation Army Space Force

PLASF Basic Attributes
Confidence Level: Normal
Supply Quality Level: Normal
Body Armor: Type 28 Armored Pressure Suits (2D and may not use rapid movement)
Troop Quality/Morale: D8/D8

Typical Unit Attributes
·         Cavemen CASEVAC
·         Poor Initiative

2 x Riflemen with ZH24 Laser Rifle/Grenade Launcher (Lt AP:1)
1 x Gunner with ZH34 Heavy Pulse Laser (Hvy LWS AP:3/AT:2)

1 x Squad Leader with ZH24 Laser Rifle/Grenade Launcher (Lt AP:1)
1 x Gunner with ZH40 Multi-Purpose Rocket Launcher (Med AP:3/AT:3) (uses d6 for attack dice)
3 x PLASF Cells

United States Marine Corps Extra-Planetary Expedition Force Luna

USMCEPEFL Basic Attributes
Confidence Level: High
Supply Quality Level: High
Body Armor: M31 Protected Pressure Suits (1D)
Troop Quality/Morale: D8/D10

Typical Unit Attributes
·         Designated Marksman
·         Old School

1 x Fireteam Leader with M225 Laser Rifle/Grenade Launcher (Lt AP:1)
1 x Rifleman with M225 Laser Rifle/Grenade Launcher (Lt AP:1)
1 x DMR with M225 Laser Rifle/Grenade Launcher (Lt AP:1)
1 x Gunner with M237 Rapid Pulse Support Laser (Med LWS AP:2/AT:1)

1 x Squad Leader with M225 Laser Rifle/Grenade Launcher (Lt AP:1)
1 x Gunner with M222 Multi-Role Portable Rocket Launcher (Med AP:2/AT:2) (uses d10 for attack dice)
3 x USMCEPEFL Fireteams

Monday, September 26, 2016

Curse You Ground Zero Games!

Picture from GZG website
Today I went to go take a look at the GZG website to see their new vehicle for their Moongrunt offerings, and before I could even get that far, I came across new figures for a new faction for Stargrunt.  Now, I don't do Stargrunt per se, but do use Stargrunt figures for my own nefarious gaming.  And I really like the looks of this new Stargrunt faction (OutRim Coalition - see picture).

With the deal, one buys an eight figure pack for the normal eight figure pack price, and two free SAW gunners are included.  I love this idea as a) it cuts down on the extra SAW gunners I always wind up with, b) it gives me five-man fireteams which is concurrent with modern German forces that I "base" some of my gaming on, and c) they are FREE figures included in every pack!

According to the GZG website, this is a limited offer (receiving the two extra figures), so I guess I better go order a few packs!

Hmmm, I never did find that Moongrunt vehicle....

UPDATE - I went forward and ordered a couple of packs of these OutRim Coalition figures as well as some packs of the Moongrunt infantry (both US Marines and Chinese).  Couldn't pass up the ten figure packs for the OutRim releases...worked out to .32 cents per figure (before shipping) for some great quality 15mm sci-fi.  No idea what I will do with the OutRim figures, other than some sort of Germanic based faction (hmmm, Swiss...could look cool with little patches of red squares and white crosses on some sort of dark combat uniform).  The Moongrunt figures should be fun, and I have terrain for the Moon, having bought a dark gray Zuzzy mat and handmade sci-fi buildings from Micropanzer some time ago.

Friday, September 23, 2016

A Review and Build of the Irishserb VBL

Both versions assembled
Sometimes it is good to have talented friends....

Recently I made a trade for some Irishserb 15mm vehicles.  It was a good trade in which I was able to obtain some pretty cool mostly Cold War period vehicles to use for Lord knows what (most likely some sort of African warlord brew-up) but the figures I had I wasn't using and I knew Irishserb would be more likely to get them on the table, so we worked out a deal.  I shipped off my Old Glory Boxer Rebellion 25mm Germans and a short while later I received a goodie box with several vehicles I selected from Brian's offerings.

.50 cal VBL
I put together the two VBLs I selected, one being a recce model with a GPMG and the other having a big honking .50 cal.  

The VBLs come in nine (recce version) and ten pieces (.50 cal version, which has an extra hatch cover you do not need to use so really it is a nine piece kit).  The vehicles are beautifully cast in a lightweight resin.  There is very little mold flash, what little is there flicks off with a fingernail as it is so minimal and so thin.  The detail on the vehicles is superbly crisp and exacting.  There are no resin bubbles to be seen, making these extremely well cast models, something I believe Irishserb takes pride in.

Showing the tabs to align the wheels
Assembly was fairly simple, and would have been easier with a bit of fast setting superglue, but what I had took a bit longer to set so I built these over two evenings.  Starting with the wheels, I glued them into place and made sure to align them using the tab showing in the picture to the right.  Once they were set I added the hatch covers and hatch ring.  The GPMG was a bit fiddly as you just glue it on top...there are no slots or tabs, but I think I have it pretty close to actual...good enough for gaming certainly.  I added the ammo box and feeder to the .50 turret, then filed down the bottoms of the wheels a bit to flatten them out.

Assembled recce version
Cost per VBL is only $5.00, one of the best bargains for resin 15mm vehicles currently on the market.  

Irishserb is not taking orders until October, but you can check out his wares in the meantime on his website.

Assembled .50 cal VBL

Monday, September 19, 2016

Another Use for Chaco War Figures

I was perusing the world wide web in search of figures for South America or the Caribbean during the Banana Wars period, and came across a mention on a gaming site about perhaps using Chaco War figures for opponents for U.S. Marines during the 1920s and 1930s.  That is one Gran Chaco of an idea! (pun intended)

Paraguayan infantry - Pic from Khurasan website
While I sold my Irregular Chaco War figures a few months ago, I still have a few packs of Khurasan Bolivians and Paraguayans that could face off in a three way affair with my Eureka Marines and sailors (and of course the China gunboat I brokered from The Virtual Armchair General).  The Paraguayans are a bit more like local militia in their appearance, which might be a nice pro gringo force, and the Bolivians, aided by the evil Germans, look a bit more regimented in their appearance.  I don't have terrain that quite fits, while I have arid terrain I use for a variety of periods, I am not sure what to do quite yet to add a river to the tabletop that will hold the monster gunboat.

For rules I do have a couple of options.  I did work on rating the two Chaco War combatants using Force on Force (see this post), and years ago I put a bit of polish on Greg Blake's Yanks Up the Yangtze which was written to cover the gunboat period in China (and you can find a link to the latter rules at the top of the right column on this blog).  I am fairly certain that YUTY has rules to cover gunboats and moving the setting to South America should be fairly easy.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Darkest Star Federation

Oh boy, I am stoked!  I was able to purchase twenty-eight painted Darkest Star Federation troops from Jason at Micropanzer and they arrived in the post this weekend!  Not only are the figures very well-painted, but the price was excellent!  I have always had good dealing with Micropanzer so if you ever see him selling wares from not only his website but other various forums out there, buy without hesitation.

The figures make up two thirteen-man squads, with two extra figures to boot (so I guess I will be doing fourteen-man squads).  They are painted in a dark blueish gray, so dark I might be able to use them for my Black Brunswickers project, but then I would need to tinker with them to give them some Brunswicker blue distinctions, and I do not want to take the chance of messing up an excellent paint job, so who knows what they will be used for.  Oh who cares, really, because they are so nice regardless of how they are used!

The figures have a mix of weaponry, such as advanced combat rifles, particle beam rifles, Gauss rifles, combat carbines, plasma rifles, and rockets.  Very Travelleresque in feel.  I am fairly certain, based on the other offerings from Darkest Star, that the intent is to create *not* Traveller figures.  The Venturians are much like Zhodani, and the Garrhul are very much like Vargr.

Anyway, I digress.  The bottom line is that I have some really nice figures for a really great price that are ready to deploy to the tabletop!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Israelis

Photo from Peter Pig website
Some time ago I bought a few packs of 15mm Israelis from Peter Pig as another force to be used with Ambush Alley/Force on Force.  As I already have desert/arid terrain with Middle Eastern/North African buildings as well as Arab forces, adding in the kick ass Israelis was an easy decision, plus I know my friend Dances with Clydesdales (his TMP handle) would definitely be interested in playing as he is a bit of an Israeliphile (an understatement to be certain).

Some chaps on TMP has turned me onto a couple of good resource sites:

What I do still need looks to be a few M-113s (maybe, haven't decided if I want to spend the money for vehicles yet), but other than that I have the workings of an Israeli platoon.  (16 infantry with Galils, 8 carrying LMGs, 8 with RPGs, 8 command, and 8 radiomen)

I had put out a request on the new Ambush Alley Games forum (now on The Wargames Website) to see if folks have already rated the Israelis for Force on Force but have had only a few bites as of this writing.  Shawn, from Ambush Alley Games, did offer this:

I haven’t done a lot of reading on the conflict, so I’m not really able to get down in the weeds on troop ratings. You can’t go too wrong by remembering the following things, though:

TQ D8 troops represent decently trained professional troops. If they’re poorly led, their Confidence may be Poor, while if they’re very well-led, it may be High.

Troops who are highly motivated will have a D10 or higher Morale. Troops with average Morale will throw D8s, while those that would really rather be somewhere else will roll D6s.

And that does help a bit.  

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Thoughts on the Vietnam Project(s)

With my recent gaming experience using Two Hour Wargames' FNG rules, my interest in gaming Vietnam has dramatically increased.  I stopped at Half Price Books over the weekend and snagged three mass market paperbacks, two of which I had owned and read years ago.  The Village, by Bing West, is a great read about a Marine squad and their experiences within one village, and I was glad to buy it again for a penance.  I also picked up Inside Force Recon, a detailed look at some of the best operators in Vietnam, that starts well before Vietnam then delves into numerous stories of missions that involve Force Recon; this was also a title I owned some years ago.  The last title is The Proud Bastards, about a young Marine's journey from Parris Island to his severe wounding while serving in the 4th Marines.  The last title is another of a huge number of solid memoirs, although at times it is difficult to plow through as the author really gets you inside his head with long rambling trains of thought.  

I have always enjoyed small unit actions, which of course the Vietnam War has numerous examples far beyond reckoning.  And gaming actions described in books or movies is a great way to jump into a project.  I already have some painted Flames of War American infantry, and while I am waiting for Flashpoint to make some Khmer Rouge for my Koh Tang Island project, I am considering some other Vietnam diversions.

One diversion is something based around Go Tell the Spartans, a movie that is set during 1964.  An American advisory team, some Nung "regulars', and some local forces, facing off against some fairly experienced Viet Cong.  Without trying to buy too many buildings and trying to do the movie as is, I think I will use it more as an outline to replicate the forces and setting.  Flashpoint make a Montagnard patrol pack, that would work well for the local pro-government militia types or possibly the hired gun Nungs.  Some of the figures from the Flashpoint RFPF pack could be used for the Nungs as well (some of the figures are carrying AK-47s and M-16s).  The local force VC packs can be used as the Viet Cong of course.  Flashpoint will be making both a Free World fire-base and a CIDG camp bundle at some point, and I am thinking that there should be items in both bundles that might be cobbled together to suit a Muc Wa-type setting.  I already have those Eleven Tree Designs jungle buildings, and Sarissa make many more laser cut buildings for the Far East that includes a watch tower.

The American advisors would probably be best suited by using a mix of World War II figures and other suitable Nam figures, as most are carrying M1/M2 carbines or M3 grease guns with some wearing steel helmets and others with soft covers and boonie hats.  Flashpoint is going to make some CIDG/MIKE Force support figures and infantry with M2s.

Of course, once I develop terrain suitable for a Go Tell the Spartans inspired adventure, I should have enough to then delve into other Vietnam projects with little effort beyond figures.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

FNG - First Thoughts

Today I had the chance to try out FNG 2nd Tour, the Vietnam era rules from Two Hour Wargames.  I have been looking forward to trying these rules for some time, as they get a lot of mention on the Field of Fire Vietnam forum, especially from Garryowen (Tom).  Tom has invited me in the past to come game with his group on several occasions, but I could not make it work out schedule-wise, until today.

I will admit that I have read through both Nuts! and the Korean War supplement (entitled Fire in Korea), and was not impressed, mostly from a layout and rules flow viewpoint.  But having had a chance to push through a game of FNG, I feel like I have a good grasp of how this system of rules is supposed to work.  Tom had a nice QRS and turn sequence he shared, and that really helped.

Tom has quite a collection of miniatures (from several historical eras) and an awesome gaming area, and he had already set out the gaming table we would use before my arrival.  He went over the basic rules mechanics, and we jumped into playing.  Each side had four figures, with the Americans having a goal of moving towards the hooch from the jungle, and the North Vietnamese trying to keep the Americans away.  On the first turn I was able to force back one of Tom's troopers, but in return I lost one of my own.  On another turn we traded kills, leaving Tom with three remaining figures, and myself with only two, and one of Tom's figures was an M-79 grenadier, so I was usually outgunned when it came to figuring out reactions.  We circled around the rice paddies, and Tom made a dash towards my two remaining figures while they were both prone, but I won the activation the next turn and killed both the grenadier and leader, but at the expense of running out of ammo for both my figures.  Tom's remaining grunt gave it a go, killing one of my two figures, but after hunkering down, reloading, I was able to have my leader figure pop up, win the in sight test, and kill his last trooper.  To be honest, I thought he had me when he came after my prone troops, but two of his figures got caught in the open and that swung the balance towards the NVA.

I have skipped over many of the things that happened along the way, because the point of getting together was for me to learn the basic game skills.  After going through the pre-game need to knows, I felt like I was able to pick up the flow of the game, when to do in sight tests, and firing and reaction fairly well.  

While this isn't really a rules review, I will share that I did enjoy learning the core of FNG, and certainly want to keep gaming these rules to see how other mechanics play.  Now if Darby would just finish the third edition....

After the game we went to a local Vietnamese restaurant, which was quite good.  Sate is a spicy mother though, but my first 33 beer helped cool my throat a bit.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Slap Miniatures Global Defence Forces

Ground Zero Games, Slap Miniatures, Darkest Star Games, Ravenstar Studios
Some months ago I participated in a Kickstarter fundraiser for a company called Slap Miniatures.  They were offering a range of 15mm sci-fi figures in which each figure would be unique.  My level of support was rather small, just a squad of troops and a a weapons team.  I received my order from Slap this past week.

The figures are very nice.  The riflemen are carrying a scoped rifle with what appears an under-slung grenade launcher.  The figures are wearing helmets and a bit of what is probably meant to serve as ballistic armor.  Poses are widely varied, with standing, advancing, kneeling, and shooting all included.  One or two of the poses are a bit odd with how weapons are being held, and one pose in particular is standing with one hand practically holding his crotch - perhaps another weapon being held?  This is my rifle, this is my gun....

The proportions are superb, and casting is super clean.  The figures are cast with a round 13mm base that is probably large enough to forego any other basing needs, although I will be adding a Litko 15mm base to my grunts.

The weapons team has one figure I will not be using, and that is the assault trooper.  Looks a bit too much like fantasy sci-fi with his bladed weapon.  But as I was a Kickstarter supporter I did receive a couple of extra figures, including an extra machine-gunner, which will work nicely with the unit organization I came up with.  The weapons team also includes a rocket launcher, auto grenade launcher, a sniper, and a comm figure.  The comm figure will serve as the squad's CO, with the sniper as part of the squad HQ and the other weapons parsed out to the fire-teams.

Ground Zero Games, Slap Miniatures
I would offer two "complaints" - First, the figures are tiny compared to any other 15mm sci-fi range that I have seen on today's market.  The figures barely measure 15mm from sole to top of the helmet.  Therefore, they are practically unusable with any other figures being produced.  Having said that, it is actually refreshing to have a company do a bit of scale reversal.

The other complaint is retail cost.  A pack of thirty figures (each one unique) is $22.43, making each figure .75 cents!  That sort of price is more in line with the larger 18mm figures, not smaller 15mm figures.  However, based on the fact that one probably would not buy more than a pack of infantry or a pack of specialists, the one time hit is not as shocking to the wallet.  I would like to see Slap offer fire-team and squad sized packs as this would probably help overcome the sticker shock some may have with pricing structure.

These are fine figures, and once Slap comes out with an opposing force, figures that are probably worth the investment.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

DEVGRU - Other Uses

Mk. 14 EBR
Because I am an odd duck, and like to represent the non-mainstream forces, I was doing a bit of browsing over the weekend at some of the more obscure special forces who also use the same sort of weaponry (the HK-416, the Mk. 14 EBR, and the Mk. 46) that is portrayed on the Khurasan DEVGRU figures.  Starting with the HK-416, Wiki shows that there are several users for this assault rifle/carbine, including Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, and Turkey,   (there are many more users but these would be countries I would be interested in putting on the gaming table)  Okay, good start, but who uses the Mk. 46 or at least the M249 SAW and who also uses the HK-416?  A bit harder, but if I include the FN Minimi I was able to pare the list down to Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Serbia, and Slovakia.  Okay, then who also uses the Iveco LMV, which are essentially the Evil Bear Panthers I have?   That cuts the list down to Norway and Slovakia.  Okay, then who uses an enhanced battle rifle that looks similar to the Mk. 14.  None, really.  But this won't stop me from using the DEVGRU as Norwegian Marinejegerkommandoen or Forsvarets Spesialkommando, most likely the former as they have been involved in several operations in the Middle East, mainly Afghanistan and Somalia.  Okay, the MJK it is!

The MJK should work well as I have Somalis already from Flashpoint and of course some Somalian-like terrain.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Oscar-Sierra-Charlie - First Look

Recently I had placed an order with Evil Bear Wargames for a couple of their 15mm Panther vehicles.  In an effort to bulk up my order to a point where paying for shipping from the United Kingdom wasn't as much as one of the vehicles, I decided to also order their Oscar-Sierra-Charlie modern to near future skirmish rules, along with the card tin (click HERE for this combo deal).  The scale of these rules are basically fire-team to squad level, so while fairly comparable to Ambush Alley/Force on Force/Tomorrow's War in that respect, each figure in OSC actually has a bit more going on than in AA/FoF/TW.  To that end I decided to do a small play test using a DEVGRU fire-team and an equivalent points number of insurgents.  

A bit about the rules makeup - They are printed softbound in A5 booklet format, in color, and consist of fifty pages (not counting the cover).  The font is on the smaller side which means there is plenty of meat within.  There are a couple of short stories for flavor.  The rules are broken into several sections, covering turn sequence to missions to game rules to weapons to army building and more more as well.  There are a few diagrams of game play, but I did not find them to be overly helpful.  Weapons are listed by generic type (rifle, assault rifle, sniper rifle, etc.).  Weapons and armor are given a type rating, which helps with hitting/defensive power as well as ranges for weapons.  There are seemingly a lot of nuances within the rules, which will be covered during the play test.

First let's review unit generation.  Each level of figure (from civilians up to special forces) has a point value.  To that one adds weapons and armor, which also has a point value depending on type of weapon and type of armor selected.  Also, because commanders have an extra action each turn (more on actions below), commander figures cost twice their basic level.  So, let's take a swing at building a DEVGRU fire-team.

As these are the best of the best, they are rated as special forces (seven points per figure).  For this fire-team I wanted to include one figure with a underslung grenade launcher on his HK-416, one figure with an Mk. 46, and two figures carrying HK-416s, sans grenade launcher.  They will also have some sort of ballistic armor.  Assigning points to each figure, this is what the team comes out looking like:

Type Level Armor Weapon Points
Commander 7 B Assault Rifle/UGL 30
Rifleman 7 B Assault Rifle 15
Rifleman 7 B Assault Rifle 15
Mk. 46 7 B LMG 23

Four figures at 83 points.  The rules suggest that basic level games should be around the 75 point mark, so we are close enough for a basic level game.

Now, let's take a gander at the bad guys.  Their opponents are going to be a mix of militia with a smattering of seasoned soldiers in the mix.

Type Level Armor Weapon Points
Leader 4 Assault Rifle 13
Insurgent 4 Assault Rifle 9
Insurgent 4 LMG 17
Insurgent 4 RPG 12
Insurgent 3 Assault Rifle 8
Insurgent 3 Assault Rifle 8
Insurgent 3 Assault Rifle 8
Insurgent 3 Assault Rifle 8

Not sure how I did that, but I was able to match the point totals exactly on the first try.  It does look like it would be easy to tinker with forces by moving a figure up or down a level, so really matching points every game should not be a stretch to accomplish.  Also, notice the lack of extras such as grenades, etc., which are in the game but would increase the points greatly.  For my first walk through I wanted to keep it as simple as possible.

Now that I have my forces organized, next time we will push figures around the tabletop and talk about mechanics of the rules.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Old Crow Models Trojan APC - Build and Review

Yet another purchase from some months ago that has been waiting for me to work on.  I had actually built one of these 15mm Old Crow vehicles last year, but never posted about it nor took pictures.  I had two more awaiting assembly, and so thought here was a great time to post a review and share some pictures of the Trojan APC.

With just a few pieces to assemble, the build process is very simple.  Glue the six wheels on (using the tab in the wheel well to create perfect spacing - see picture below), choose a weapon mount (choice of an auto cannon, a missile launcher, or forego the mount and use the included hatch), and you are done.  If you would like, add some stowage as the top of the APC is very clean and has plenty of room for such customizing.  I went with the auto cannon as I feel it is the best look and no self respecting APC should be without some sort of weapon system.

The tab helps space the wheels evenly within the wheel well

The quality of the resin is very high, with no imperfections (i.e. bubbles).  The wheels and hatch cover are resin while the weapon mounts are metal.  Another superb model from a small manufacturer.  With the various sci-fi human factions I have I am not certain where I will use these vehicles, perhaps with my Eureka Germans or really anything needing some transport for low tech incursions.

Length - 68mm.  Width - 31mm.  Height (with weapon mount) - 33mm.

The Evil Bear Panther - A Build and a Review

After many months of looking at the Evil Bear 15mm Panthers, I finally broke down and ordered a pair (along with their modern skirmish rules Oscar-Sierra-Charlie).  What follows is a mini-review and the building of the vehicle.

The parts...yes that is all of them

Lovely kit, if calling this a kit isn't a bit of a stretch.  With only two axles, a remote weapons mount, and a superstructure to glue into place, calling this a kit is probably a stretch as it takes just a few minutes to assemble.  The resin body is superbly cast with fine details and no resin bubbles that plague some other vehicles on the market.  The metal pieces are clean, with no flash or mold lines.  The build was super easy, with the wheels and axles cast as one piece that affix into a slot on the undercarriage.  The superstructure is simply glued on top (no guiding pins or holes but really those were not needed) and then choose a weapons mount and glue on top.  A crackin' great vehicle!

Undercarriage in place

The Panther measures out as follows:  length - 45mm; width - 22mm; height - 35mm.

I will be using these Panthers with my Khurasan DEVGRU.  While the DEVGRU teams would most likely not ride into battle with such vehicles (being that the vehicles are of British manufacture and the DEVGRU are U.S. special operators),

The finished product

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Building the Darkest Star Games Scorpion LACV

Many moons ago I supported a Darkest Star Games Kickstarter for some 15mm sci-fi vehicles, with factions heavily influenced by Traveller (see this post).  I only went in at a level high enough to earn a Scorpion Light Armored Combat Vehicle as this was only the third Kickstarter I had ever supported, and the second gaming KS, so I was still fairly new to the KS game and really did not know what to expect.  I am glad I supported this particular campaign as I think Darkest Star has the real potential to become another Ground Zero Games in terms of quality product, and to have such a company in the Uniteds States is a real plus, although I will say that the service from GZG is superb!

I have had this vehicle sitting in its baggie for far too long, and with the recent purchase of Federation and Venturian figures from Darkest Star, I thought is was time to put the Scorpion together.  I was fortunate enough to buy a painted Scorpion from Micropanzer, so once I assembled and painted my Kickstarter version, I would have a pair of these sweet looking vehicles to support whatever sci-fi faction I desired.  Those of you who have seen Generation Kill will understand this...they are the Warpigs of a far future conflict, breeding hate and discontent like a mother.

The Scorpion LACV is a resin and metal kit, with the hull and turret in resin, and the remaining parts in metal.  As you can see, the resin quality is super high...nary a single bubble as found in many other resin products (the same high quality I have also seen with Old Crow).  There is very little resin flash from the mold-line, so prep work is minimal.  The metal parts have a small fraction of flash, so again minimal prep work needs to be completed.  The metal pieces include a choice of turret bustle, four choices of weapons, eight wheels, a stowage bin, and a hatch cover which can be installed open or closed.  See picture.

Assembly should have been easy, but for some reason the two types of super glue I tried did not want to adhere in a quick manner (Zap-a-Gap and Citadel thick super glue).  This made assembly time higher than I would suspect it needed to be, as I had to wait quite some time after gluing a piece before I was able to move to the next piece.

The wheels are cast with hubs that insert into hollowed out ends of the axles, making lining up the wheels a breeze.  The toughest part of this process was deciding on which weapon system to use.  The Scorpion I purchased from Micropanzer had the railgun installed, so I decided to go with a lighter gun option and use the 40mm autocannon, which also uses the other turret bustle, giving me two similar yet distinctive Scorpions.

The build continues....

Wheels on, turret bustle in place:

40mm autocannon in place, along with the storage bin and hatch cover.  I just received a pack of 15mm stowage items from S&S Models, so I might add a piece or two to provide even more "flavor" to these excellent vehicles.

The size of the model:  70mm long, 31mm wide, and about 25mm tall (depending on what turret bustle is used and if the hatch is open or closed).

Overall, these are some of the top vehicles in 15mm on the market for sci-fi gamers.  Realistically they could be used in a modern setting depending on weapon choice.  Run, don't walk, over to the Darkest Star website and order one or a dozen of these excellent vehicles (or any of their other cool toys) today!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Darkest Star Games Venturians

The Black Brunswickers (Federation) and their Venturian opponents have arrived!  I got my goodie box from Darkest Star Games a couple of days ago, and must say that these are really nice figures.  Yet another company making some quality 15mm sci-fi castings.    

Over the last few days, after some comments I had left on the Darkest Star blog, I have come to realize that the Darkest Star owner is none other than Darby from the Fields of Fire Vietnam forum.  Talk about a small world!  Here I thought he was this 'Nam gamer (which he is) and he also owns a company offering some really nice sci-fi figures...crazy.

Okay, now to the figures (warning, a bit of a review coming up)....

Each figure is different, and either in an advancing, standing, or firing pose.  The troops carry a wide variety of weaponry, including advanced combat rifles, Gauss marksman rifles, plasma rifles, accelerator carbines, and particle accelerator rifles.  I have added a note on the picture from the Darkest Star website as to what each figure is carrying below.

The casting is clean, with just a touch of flash to be removed.  Details and proportions are excellent.  The weapons do not suffer from "bazookaitus" that some figures suffer from, especially in 15mm.  The metal reminds me of when MiniFigs moved from lead to a tin alloy, but the metal is pliable, not brittle.

As for using these Venturians with the Eureka offerings, I would say no.  While I no longer have any of the Eureka Vents, I do remember them being much larger than the Eureka sci-fi German storm troopers, and the comparison pictures below indicate to me that the Darkest Star Vents would be smaller as they match nicely with the Eureka Germans.

Left to right - Eureka sci fi German, Peter Pig modern US Marine, Darkest Star Venturian, and a Flashpoint US Ranger

Monday, June 20, 2016

Oh, the Horrids!

Horrid soldiers - pic from Ravenstar Studios website
No, not "oh, the horror" but the Horrids.  A alien race created by the evil mind behind Ravenstar Studios, which not too long ago ran a nice sale on their figures.  I am always on the lookout for small companies making 15mm sci-fi to add to my Tomorrow's War gaming,  One, with sci-fi I can be as silly as I want to be when it comes to alien races, although I do lean towards hard sci-fi.  Also, I can offer a variety of forces (and hence attributes to tinker with) as opponents for my various human factions.  And last, I like supporting the little guy.  So, while I certainly did not need to buy any figures, I did jump in and ordered five packs of the Horrid soldiers from Ravenstar's Landcore range.  The other Horrid offerings did not spark much interest, but I thought the soldiers looked pretty cool.  Scary to the human eye, and armed with high tech weaponry, a perfect combination for a child's nightmares.

It did take a few weeks to receive my order, but to make up for the delay in shipping, I received several freebies which included extra Horrid soldiers...a LOT of Horrid soldiers.  That was a nice gesture by Chris at Ravenstar to offset the delay I experienced in receiving my goodies.

What shocked me was when I did receive my order and came to realize the figures are made from resin of at least two colors!  I was not expecting that at all, and I did not come across any reference to resin being used, as opposed to metal, on the Ravenstar website.  It really is of no matter as the figures are sharply cast and will need just a touch of cleaning before priming, but for some reason I just assumed that the Horrids were made of metal.

Now, let's rate these bad boys for Tomorrow's War....

Standard weapons are part of the soldier, or perhaps he is inserting his hand and arm inside the weapon.  I am thinking these weapons interface with the soldiers bio make-up, perhaps the soldier thinks about what to shoot and the weapon reacts.  If this is the case, then the Horrids may possess an advanced weapons technology compared to the humans in Tomorrow's War or at least they have the ability to interface with their weapons, which may result in higher accuracy and/or faster response.  There is a small of stature overlord sans weapon, so I am guessing there may be some sort of psychic control going on.

Let's see, let's try the following characteristics from Tomorrow's War and By Dagger or Talon:

Designated Marksman
Heightened Situational Awareness/Reflexes
Hive Mind

Those four should be a good start, and I can always tinker with the Unit Attributes if necessary.

As for painting, I am going to do a very simple scheme.  Prime in white, wash with burnt umber, perhaps dry brush a fleshy gray, and paint the weapons black with a steel-colored drybrush.

Just out of the bag and ready for cleaning and priming

The figures are fairly cleanly cast, with just a touch of some resin "flash" to clean up.  They range in height from 11mm for the little overlord dude up to 15mm (foot to to of head) for the grunts.  They carry a variety of weapons, from small hand guns to "rifles" to heavier squad weapons (including a shoulder launched weapon) to a "sniper rifle."

All in all these are an interesting batch of figures from Ravenstar and if you are looking for something a bit different, give them a look-over.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

ID These Moderns

I purchased these painted 15mm moderns some time ago, but I do not know the manufacturer(s).  I do believe, based on the larger size and heftier proportions of the top row as compared to the Delta operators in the bottom row, that these are two different manufacturers.  I am fairly certain they are not Rebel or Peter Pig, and the Deltas might be QRF.  I would appreciate any help!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Black Brunswickers

Federation troops - Picture from Darkest Star Games website
No, not Napoleonics, and yes, you did read that title correctly.  I am thinking up another sci-fi project, using the Darkest Star 15mm Federation and Venturian 15mm figures.  While there are a plethora of companies making excellent figures for 15mm sci-fi, I always like supporting the small guy, and as Darkest Star Games is a fairly small operation, one based in the United States, it should make delivery times short and shipping costs low.  And having participated in their Kickstarter campaign a couple years ago, I also know they make a quality product.

They do offer a few different items in 15mm with a wide range of figures and vehicles, but the Venturians and Federation troops I really like.  Obviously inspired by Traveller, I have seen others use the Venturians as Zhodani.  And the weapons mix gels with the Traveller/Striker universe with advanced combat, plasma, and Gauss rifles, along with other weapon types that Traveller players will recognize.  

And, as I have this affliction for the Black Brunswickers from the Napoleonic period due to a few factors (Germans, cool uniforms, a stubborn Duke, etc.), creating something that pays homage to the Schwarz Braunschweiger sounds like a very doable and enjoyable project.  Painting the Federation figures in a mostly black motif with highlights of light blue should be a fairly easy to knock out.  Still need to figure out some sort of death's head symbol but perhaps a small touch of paint on the helmet will work (unless I can find small decals...but I do not think I have the patience for small decals).

So I have gone forward and have ordered both Federation and Venturian infantry from Darkest Star.  Ordered on 6/15 at 8:00 p.m. EST - we will now test their speed of service!  I will have to say I did not like the $8.00 shipping charge for a handful of figures.  More to come on the figures, mounting, rules, and painting in future posts!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A Banana Marine in a China War

The San Pablo
Some months ago I was able to purchase a custom made gunboat brokered by The Virtual Armchair General and built by the prolific Richard Houston.  Normally Mr. Houston builds boats in 25mm, but I wanted a 15mm version of the San Pablo of The Sand Pebbles fame and Pat at TVAG was able to convince Mr. Houston to do this request for me.  More on this later in this post.

For years I have tinkered with a Banana Wars or China Sailor project, but like many of my projects, I buy books, maybe even figures, scoop up rules, create a Yahoo group or cheap free website, and then not much more than that as my interest waxes then wanes and waxes towards another project.

BAR toting Marines - picture from Eureka
For some years I have also owned a selection of the Eureka Miniatures 15mm Wake Island Marines and sailors, with a thought of doing some sort of Wake Island scenario.  Some books and the figures were as far as I proceeded with that dream.  But, in looking at the figures, I think they would serve well in both a Banana War or China setting.  Of course the Eureka Marines are wearing helmets and not the campaign hat, but in the later periods of the Banana Wars I believe the helmet was being used, albeit possibly not often due to its weight and unsuitability for the hot and humid climates.  But it was certainly being used in China and it looks darn cool with Springfield, Lewis Gun, Thompson, and  Browning Automatic Rifle toting Eureka Miniatures!

Eureka Filipinos
Okay, so now that I have a gunboat and Americans, I need to find some sort of opposing force(s).  Easy enough to field some Asiatics as Eureka happens to make World War II Chinese that I think are close enough for government work, but what if I want to move into the Caribbean or Central America?  I am not having much luck finding many suitable options, other than perhaps some Cubans from the Spanish-American War period.  Perhaps the Eureka World War II Filipinos could also be used.  I do like to have all my figures for any project from one company.  So, between the Eureka Chinese and Filipinos, I should be able to have small actions in China or Central America.

Rules?  Easy enough I think.  I recently uploaded a set of rules to Google Drive (the link can be found at the upper right of this blog) called Yanks Up the Yangtze, written by Cannon Fodder Miniatures's Greg Blake, who was kind enough to allow me to tinker with them and offer them as a free set to anyone who wanted a copy.  Several years ago I reformatted them to bring about a cleaner appearance, changed the ranges to inches, and added a card set to aid in play. 

Terrain?  Ahhh, there's a problem.  I have this aforementioned gunboat, a real beauty, which is just dying to make an appearance on the game table.  I would have to come up with some sort of river feature for my Terrain Guy tiles to use the gunboat.  And as The Terrain Guy has closed shop, I do not know what I can do to add some sort of river edge to my terrain tile set up.  I have a blue sea mat, but I really should have a brown one for China.  Also, no manufacturer makes Chinese buildings in 15mm.  I just keep finding it amazing with a few ranges of 15mm Boxer Rebellion figures on the market that no one has made Chinese buildings to go with them.  I can stretch it a bit and use Japanese buildings, like the excellent offerings from Oshiro Model Terrain, but players are too smart for that weak substitution attempt, yes?  There are also companies making Vietnam buildings but again, not correct for China, but some actually might be useful for the Caribbean.

Anyway, back to the boat.  It alone could create the gaming construct needed for a scenario.  The decks lift off allowing figures to be placed throughout the miniature, so boarding actions could be fought.  But that would also mean that I need some sort of Chinese conveyance in order for the Chinese to approach and attempt to board the boat.  Small launches?  A junk or two?  Who makes 15mm Chinese junks?  Perhaps a scenario could start with a Chinese force already onboard, and they have to clear each area.  So many possibilities I guess, but before I get that far I need to get the American mounted and painted, and then start purchasing the opposing forces.

Like most of my other projects, this one will see future posts over the future months as I try to get my gaming focus narrowed a bit and start to see some projects actually hit the table.
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