Sunday, 25 September 2016

The Brit, The Yank, and the Hobby episode 9

video


Episode 9 of our historical gaming podcast is now live, and can be found at the following links




For more information, and to speak to us directly, as well as find photo's and models related to this episode come on over and join our Facebook Group, at The Brit, The Yank, and The Hobby.




Monday, 19 September 2016

Warlord Games 1/56 Churchill

As part of the on going operation Sand Dune project with Carl Titterington, Sam Phillips and myself, and with my DAK army nearly done now, I've decided to start branching out into the British forces. Warlord Games were kind enough to supply me with some of their new plastic Churchill tanks to form the core of my Tunisian forces. Today I shall be reviewing the kit and describing the options included. 




Warlords Churchill is another collaboration with Italian model kit manufacturer Italeri, and looking at the parts break down I suspect it's lineage goes back to the Dragon 1/72 scale kits of this impressive tank. 
 







 The kit is supplied in dark grey plastic with each frame packaged in it's own bag, and a decal sheet is included (And which I forgot to photograph). Also included is an instruction sheet, and I recommend going through this first and marking all the parts you want to use for the version you are building, so as to avoid any confusion later. The instructions I felt are pretty clear, though care should be taken when following them. I didn't pay too much attention to them and managed to somehow assemble the tracks wrongly.

The decal sheet is nicely done,  with a good selection of regimental markings and flashes, and also includes a Soviet guards badge for making a lend lease vehicle. Only three things jump out at me from the sheet, it includes a number jumble for making the vehicles registration code, but doesn't come with the 'T' prefix, the squadron flashes have a black filler inside of the geometric shape, I'd have much preferred this to be open so that it can be blackened later if desired. Finally, some names would have been welcome, though that may be pushing the limits of what is possible with a small sheet. 

Assembly is actually very straight forwards (When you bother to read the instructions...), I glued some pennies into mine to give it a little more weight and heft, and also replaced the antennae with fuse wire but that was it. Building mine as the MKIII the use of slide moulding was evident, as the gun (as will all of them), is pre drilled and in scale. The only small, fiddly parts are the head lights at the front of the vehicle, the rest is made up of large panels that fit nicely. I do really recommend using a proper plastic glue or solvent, and dry fitting though as going straight in with super glue will make for a bad day.

Warlords Churchill allows you to build one of the following versions, MKIII, with welded turret and 6 pounder gun. The MKIV with a welded turret and 6 pdr. MKV with 95mm howitzer, Mk VI with 75mm gun, this has a particularly nice muzzle brake too. There is also an option to build the NA75mm version. Eavh of these looks good and is pretty accurate. If you are someone who likes swapping variants this could be a problem, however if you made judicious use of magnets it may be possible.

Also possible in this kit is the option to build the AVRE, the Petard mortar is well done, however quite a few of the hull fittings are missing so it's hard to build an accurate model of the vehicle straight from the box if that is what you require. 








 
Luckily S&S models are coming to the rescue, and will be bringing out a series of update and conversion kits for the AVRE, that will also allow you to build a few of the different options. I'll be getting myself one of the bridge layers when it comes out.






To paint my Churchill I primed black, and then airbrushed Vallejo USA Olive Drab. I then mixed some Vallejo Pale sand in, applied the transfers, then let the paint dry for 3-4 days. I then came back to the tank, painting AK4062 Light Dust Deposit over the entire vehicle, before using a broad brush lightly dipped in white spirit to work most of the Light dust off the model. I then repeated this process a few times until the dust had built up to a level I was happy with. 

After placing the Churchill to one side to dry for another day, I came back to it and did the same thing using AK4063 Brown Earth Deposit, concentrating this onto the tracks and working parts, as well as the lower hull and anywhere dirt may accumulate in thicker quantities.








 Again, the tank was left for a few days to dry, before I painted MIG 1000 wash for Dark Yellow into the darkest recesses and deepest panels. 









Finally, I used a selection of artists oils to add some streaking to the sides, and some MIG Oil and Grease to some of the drive wheels and engine deck. A quick drybrush of the tracks with a dark steel colour I mixed up and the Churchill was complete. 









The crewman is the one included with the kit, and very nice he is too. 
I'd sum this kit up by saying it was an excellent build, but one must exercise some caution to ensure you are building the correct version you want, and also to get the tracks together correctly. at £20 the kit is good value, and is quite sizeable too. Warlord also sell the Churchill in a platoon set, with 3 vehicles for £50. My thanks to Warlord Games for providing the kit, and you can see more of my work or contact me regarding commissions at Volley Fire Painting Service















Sunday, 18 September 2016

Beyond the Gates of Antares Xilos Horizon Isorians

Having been fortunate enough to acquire a ticket to Warlords Xilos Horizon campaign weekend, I have settled on using the Isorians. Now, currently I only have one squad of Isorians painted, and need to bring a thousands points worth of the bio-mechanical badasses with me. I enjoy a challenge, so have started putting together an army list and assembling my figures from the stash. 

To give some context, the campaign will feature the 6 scenarios present in the battle for Xilos campaign book.I'll give a short over view below of what to expect from each mission

Mission 1: Xilos Landing

This scenario has the defender place half their units on the board, whilst the attack drops down from orbit to attempt to destroy a generator in the centre of the board. The scenario features a space invaders style pre-game to determine the attackers deployment, This is a game that will require a heavy infantry presence, both for the attacker and defender, as the only way to capture or damage the generator is through moving infantry into base contact with it.

Mission 2: The Ghar Strike Back

This scenario has the defender surrounded in the centre of the board, by an attacking force The defender is attempting to bring a transmat station online, and does so placing an order dice in the bag for this too. When the defender pulls the order dice they may opt to roll a D6 instead of activiting a unit, and add these to a rolling total. Once this reaches 20 the game ends, though the defender may only do this once per turn. I anticipate this taking me 20 turns... The attacker is attempting to over whelm the defender before this total is reached, and may recycle units that are destroyed at the start of their next turn...

Mission 3: Exploration - The Battle of Discovery

In this multiplayer mission 2 or more explorers fight a Ghar force for control of builder relics. 2 per explorer plus an extra relic are placed on the board, with the objective being for the explorers to find the relics and get them off the board, whilst the defending Ghar try to stop them. Victory goes To either the explorer who removes the most relics, or to the Ghar if they inflict more damage on the explorers or prevent them from withdrawing the relics. What makes this scenario interesting is that the explorers have to cooperate to a certain extent to avoid being overwhelmed by the Ghar, however they also have to keep an eye on their capturing their own objectives...

Mission 4: Tunnels - The Builders revealed

Interesting mission this one with a lot of uncertainty. The basic premise and objective is to fight through some tunnels and secure the objective rooms. However, tunnels can collapse and beasties can appear to attack you as well as the enemy. Forces are suggested to be around the 750 point mark, and and nothing larger than a 50mm base can be used. This is going to be a very tense fight, and again going to be quite infantry intense. I can see the the not being able to fire through squad mates becoming quite an issue here too... 

Mission 5: Jail Break- The battle for freedom

Another attack/defence mission, with 6 objectives (prisons) and the attacker moving onto the table on the first turn along one of the long table edges. The defender starts with half of their units on the table, and then brings the other half on later. Victory goes to whomever can liberate or control the objectives by the end of the 6th or 7th turn. Another mission that will require a lot of aggressive play to try and head off the enemy, and mobility will be important too to try and sneak around and get to the prisons,

Mission 6: -A greater conflict - The Builders awake 

A large multiplayer mission this time, with 3 pairs of players facing off across a 12 foot table, and moving on from the first turn. One  of the short edges has an advancing dimensional rift (!) whilst the other short edge is the escape point. Each opposing pair of players has a different set of objectives, with the ones closest to the rift needing to escape, the middle pair scoring points not only for escaping, but also destroying their opposing pair's units and capturing relics as they  go.
The final pair closes to the exit are attempting to destroy one another, whilst still scoring points for killing other players forces. To make matters even more interesting, the dimensional rift advances throught the course of the game, and any models caught behind it are destroyed. The game lasts until either the rift reaches the other end of the board, or all units are destroyed/escape. 
This is going to be a tough mission and require a pretty single minded focus on the objective I feel.



My Force

For the event I am taking my Isorians as it's a good motivator to actually get them painted up. Unfortunately the Isorians still have some gaps in their range, however it's just another challenge to adapt and over come! 













Isorians in general 

Isorians are very similar to the Concord, in that they are well armed and armoured, however the biggest different is contained with their armour. Where Concord are more resistant to blast weapons, Isorians can use their phase armour to go down when fired at, even after they have activated, making them quite tasty and resilient. I have a feeling this will be critical in some of the scenarios, especially number 6. 







Senatex Command Squad

Command squads allow you a certain level of tactical flexibility as they have a good accuracy skill, but more importantly have the Follow, Command and Leader special rules. This allows them to activate another unit smultaneously as themselves, to help with the command checks of friendlies, and also to be a little more resilient to recieved fire. Very useful as a centre to the battle line or to help get stuff done slightly out of sequence of the order dice. Well armed too, I've equiped the leader with sling net ammo to help pin down the opposition, and also equipped them with a spotter drone. The temptation is to really tool this unit up, however I want to keep them small and flexible so they can get to where I need their buffs the most without getting in the way of my main units. 


Senatex Phase Squads

These are the bread and butter of the army, and I'm taking mine in 7 strong squads to maximise their resilience, as quite a few of the scenarios award extra points for destroying the enemy. Between that and their phase armour they should prove hard to kill, but so they are dishing out some pain as well they have a spotter drone, sling net for the leader and a plasma lance to hurt any bigger targets. 

Tsan Ra phase squad

These are a fairly points heavy unit, and only 3 models strong, though they have fairly good resilience and very good fire power. I don't see them as a front line unit though, and more as a fire base. Their weapons are very flexible though, being able to pump out 3 shots each, or a single shot with high strike value, Again, I've equipped them with sling nets to help put pins out when needed too. 

Senatex X Launcher team

I love these weapons, they are cheap, can be deadly, but also have the option for some dirty tricks with their ammunition. Again I've gone for net ammo to pin stuff and give me more tactical control. Hopefully. Also the team has a spotter drone to help them see targets...

Senatex Phase Sniper

A very characterful unit that I couldn't leave home.  I've equipped my sniper with camo and shield drones to increase their survivability. The sniper is here to act as a sniper, surprisingly. with D6 shots when stationary, a long range and good strike value, as well as ignoring the targets cover bonus, the Snipers job will be huntiing Nu-Hu and leaders that come into it's line of sight...

Senatex Light support drone

Another useful choice, I've only the points for one, and will probably use it in conjuction with my sniper to give myself a nice fire base for the rest of my forces too attack from. Equipped with a plasma light support it's job is to hit enemy units or light drones that may appear. 

Senatex targetter shard

Targetted drones are my favourite unit in the game! my dice rolling is generally awful, and these little guys really do help massively with to hit rolls, as a few together on an enemy unit can make shooting vastly more accurate and deadly. Only the one shard, but at least there's a lot of them, and it's an extra order dice in the bag.


In all, I'm very excited for this event, it looks to be a great days gaming, and the Isorians look to be a unique and interesting faction to play. I've got one unit painted, and have gone for a dark, almost Star Trek Borg like colour scheme. I'm still not finished on basing so will add more there once inspiration strikes, however now it's time to get assembling and painting...


You can read more about Beyond the Gates of Antares here, and can see more of my work or contact me for commissions at Volley Fire Painting Service












Saturday, 17 September 2016

Introduction to Battlegroup

I've recently become interested in the game Battlegroup, from Ironfist Publishing and distributed via Plastic Soldier Company, and thought it about time I shared some thoughts on the game and gave an over view of the rule set and books available.




 You can hear more about Battlegroup in the Brit, The Yank and the Hobby, where we speak to Piers Brand in episodes 3 and 6 (Links to the Facebook page and Libsyn downloads). 





Battlegroup is a very scalable game set in the Second World War. You can play anything from squad to battalion level games using these rules. Forces can either be selected as per a historical scenario, or through pointed army lists, and these lists are provided in campaign specific books that contain rules scenarios and history for their respective forces. Battlegroup is a D6 based system.



Battlegroup is designed with 15 and 20mm sized miniatures in mind, however it also plays well at 28mm, and can be used with smaller scales too with some adjustment to ranges if required.







 

Each force must contain a required minimum amount of infantry, and this varies depending on points level. A platoon level game therefore requires you to have at least one infantry platoon, although this covers both leg and mechanised types usually. Once you have your infantry you are free to add in support elements such as artillery, armour, command and logistical and strategic elements. 



Logistics are important in Battlegroup as ammunition for vehicles is limited, and they may require resupply through the course of the battle. Forces are historical to the operation as well, so if you are playing a Normandy game you won't see anything that didn't serve in Normandy in the army lists for example. 






Turn Sequence
Battlegroup is an I go U go system, with the first turn (Unless in a specific scenario), being decided by the roll of a dice, and then adding the number of officers in the the force to the die roll. whomever has the highest score then decides whether to go first or second. 

At the start of their turn, the player rolls a die (1 or more depending on the level of the game) and adds  to this the number of officers they have. This is the number of units they can activate in a turn. Units activated are able to perform 2 things, generally a combination of moving and shooting, though there are other specialised orders as well, and it is possible to shoot and then move too. 

in practice this tends to result in fairly quick turns, as though you may have a lot of units on the board, you have to prioritise what you want to do, and what you wish to achieve, making battles very tactical and forcing a level of coordination. Everything action has to be considered as part of an overall plan, making battles a game of attack and counter attack. 


Movement
Movement is fairly standard, with models moving up to their maximum move distance, and they are also able to perform a double move to forgo firing and gain more ground. Broadly speaking, terrain affects movement by subtracting D6" from the move, with models always able to move a minimum of 1".  Roads allow vehicles to travel faster, and most vehicles have their own individual on and off road movement distances shown in their profiles.

Shooting

Shooting is again carried out through an order, with models able to give up moving to fire a second time in a turn. Shooting is split into 2 different types. Area Fire allows you to pin  enemy units, you simply add up the number of shots being fired, then roll over the required score. If you equal or exceed this amount, and the target fails it's cover save they become pinned and unable to activate until it is unpinned.  


Aimed Fire is the more traditional shooting to neutralise a target, and requires a spotting roll to see the target. Once this is passed roll a dice for each shot to hit, the required score is target dependent and modified by distance a few other factors. For each hit the target takes a cover save, and those that are failed inflict casualties.



 Vehicles don't take a cover save and instead the penetration value of the weapon is compared to the targets armour value. If this value is exceeded on 2 die the target is destroyed. 



Assault
Infantry units can be issued a close assault order, to close to with 5" of an enemy unit., be it infantry or vehicle. 










The assault itself is resolved as with shooting, although observation is automatic, and the attack is permitted and extra die to represent grenades being thrown and the impetus of the assault. Unpinned enemies fight back in the same way and simultaneously, although they do not receive the extra die. Pinned enemies do not get to fight back at all, rendering coordination between suppressive units and assaulting units very important.  

Game resolution
Unless playing a scenario with specific objectives, battles is usually decided by a force exceeding it's battle rating. battle rating, or BR is calculated by adding up the BR in your force before the start of the game, and as units are lost, or other situations occur a chit is drawn numbered between 1-5 secretly kept. 










The first player to exceed this rating loses. Some chits also add in an extra level of unpredictability with things like air and mine strikes also being possible. In some ways its like drawing a chance card in Monopoly, it might be good, it might be bad, and it can be one extreme or the other of this too and lends a real air of unpredictability to it. 






There is obviously far more to the game than I have mentioned above, but this gives a little bit of an insight into how Battlegroup plays. some of the source books are currently out of print but can be found on Ebay, and can also be purchased as PDF's direct from Plastic Soldier Company as well. 



Pictures of the game in action were taken at Medway Wargames Society in Walderderlade between my mate Chris' Russians and my Germans, and was a very narrow victory to the Russians. In my opinion Battlegroup is an excellent rule set, and gives a good historical feel without getting bogged down, and maintains a great flow, especially when using 2-3 platoons worth of toys with additional support elements.

You can see more pictures of my steadily growing 20mm forces or contact me regarding commissions  at Volley Fire Painting Service.






















Warlord Games 28mm Volksgrenadier

One of Warlords most recent releases for Bolt Action is the Volksgrenadier pack for the Germans. This set contains 10 28mm sized figures in Warlord traditional style.


 







 

All the models are wearing the late war M43 uniform with ankle boots and gaiters, and carry a mix of MP44's, K98's and Panzerfausts, as well as a 2 man MG42 team. 




 
Poses are a little mixed, with some being breathtakingly good, my favourites being the guy holding the Panzerfaust with the slung MP44 standing and waiting,  the whole body language and pose suggests tiredness and tension.  





The Machine gun team too is another favourite, they really convey the weight of carrying the gun and fatigue of constant combat. 














Most of the other figures are fairly standard fair, advancing to contact or gesticulating in an NCOish fashion.


 


















 The only figure I'm not so keen on is the stooping guy holding his rifle across his body. I suspect if he were posed against a building or a wall he'd look excellent, however standing alone on a base he looks a little odd. 

The set retails for £15, and also includes bases. As these were a pre release copy of the figures I can't comment on packaging, however cast quality was excellent. I suspect I shall be painting some up as very late war SS grenadiers too at some stage too. 

My thanks to my friends Warlord for providing the models, and you can order a set of Volksgrenadiers either through your local games shop or direct from Warlord Games. As ever you can see more of my work or contact me regarding commissions at Volley Fire Painting Service










Friday, 16 September 2016

Warlord Games 28mm Winter Germans Review

Last Christmas Warlord Games release their Winter German range of figures, and were kind enough to send me some. Therefore, and in the midst of a heat wave, I have painted some up.










For the purposes of this review I have 2 sets of grenadiers, the command pack, an MG42 team and a PAK 40, as well as the heavy weapons set which was available as a limited release earlier in the year.
 All the sets were cleanly cast and required minimal prep and clean up, and all contained bases, though I found the base in the PAK 40 a little small so replaced it with an MDF one.

I'll discuss below the contents of each pack individually below:-

German Grenadiers Pack (Winter)
The biggest set contains 10 figures, all in winter garb (surprisingly). The models are armed for the winter of 1944, as they are carrying 3 MP44 rifles. The rest of the squad is armed with 1 MG42 Light Machine Gun team, 4 K98 rifles, and a figure with an MP40 sub machine gun, as well as 4 Panzerfausts.
 Each figure is dressed in either a great coat, parker, or full winter suit. Most have helmet covers too whilst some wear caps. The models in this article were some that I painted for work, and my own ones I'm tempted to do as Waffen SS with the camouflage side of the suits visible as opposed to the white.
Most of the men have separate heads to allow greater variety in posing and individuality. Field gear is also nicely presented on these models. My main gripe with these models is that I'd have liked to see less (or preferably no) MP44, and instead have more models with rifles or MP40's to enable their use through earlier stages of the war, likewise with the Panzerfausts, and then the later war weapons available through either a different pack or individually on the website.

German Heer HQ (Winter)
This is my favourite of the sets, and contains an NCO gesticulating at something important, an officer in a fancy coat and hat, as well as a medic carrying a wounded comrade, with the set being finished off by a prone observer.
I love this set. The poses are straight out of the film Stalingrad (1993) and are full of character. field gear and faces is nicely done, the only one I'm not so fond of is the officers face, and I may replace that with one from one of the plastic sets when I do my own.




German Heer MMG team (Winter)
A 3 man gun group serving an MG42, another good little set with some good poses and open to plenty of fancy basing potential if you're that way inclined. Not a massive amount to say on this one, other than it goes together quickly and looks good!









German Heer PAK40 Anti-Tank gun (Winter)
Another set straight out of Stalingrad (1993), this 4 man team serves their PAK 40 and all are wearing great coats this time. No instructions for the gun are provided, however they can be worked out by looking at photos of the real gun. As stated above, I replaced the base with an MDF one that was a little bigger than the supplied plastic one. 









German Heer Special Weapons (Winter)
At the time these were only a temporary release, with a full release scheduled for later in the year.
The pack contains 6 figures, who break down into a 2 man Panzershrek team, a 2 man Sniper team, and a 2 man flamethrower team. As with most of these sets they wear a mixture of great coats and parkas, and have some unique poses to them. I'm parituclarly fond of the Panzershrek team, but they are all very nicely done.






For speed I painted these with anything that could be white, white, and the rest using field grey. My recipe for field grey is to use Vallejo Russian uniform, with increasing amounts of either deck tan or pastel green mixed in, and use army painter soft tone and green inks for shading.
The white parts of the uniform started off as vallejo deck tan, were shaded with a hit of soft tone, before being highlighted up with deck tan mixed with increasing amounts of Ivory, also from Vallejo.


Basing was done using Forest Ground Cover from Warlord, with snow made from bicarbonate of soda mixed with Vallejo Water effect. The more water effect the slushier the snow is. 













I really like these figures a lot. My only real complaint is that they are very late war, however this is more a matter of taste than real criticism, and I can only hope the range will be expanded with more support and heavy weapons, as well as more riflemen to be used earlier in the war too. A few with PPSH41's would be especially welcome! 









You can order the figures either through your local games shop or direct with Warlord, who also sells the sets in a nice deal package. As ever you can see more of my work, or contact me for commissions at Volley Fire Painting Service.