Monday 26 November 2012

Games Mat - update

 I've finished the first few stages on my games mat.  I've also produced a small test square (20x20cm or 8x8 inches) to experiment with a few techniques.  One of the first things I've done is try setting objects into the sealant so see what sort of texture they leave when I remove them after the sealant has dried.

Back of a tie pin / pin badge - should look like a man-hole cover!
I textured the rest of the surface with a sponge and dragged my large aluminium ruler across one side to produce a roadway.

Plastic cross-stitch mesh.
 After 24 hours I carefully removed the items.  The mesh left a nice texture behind.  The pin back pulled the sealant off with it, so I'll class that one as a failure!  I tried again but it pulled the sealant off again, I think it has too much texture in comparison to the base fabric.  The mesh is good because it's quite a chunky, very smooth polythene plastic so the sealant doesn't stick to it.

The dried test piece (the crinkling flattens out without any real difficulty).
I painted using Wilkinson's tester pots.  Java Bean is a good dark brown base colour, Nutmeg Spice a lighter colour that gives a mottled appearance when sponged on while the  base is still wet.  Flintstone for the concrete hard standing.  The road is black acrylic which dried to an odd, slightly shiny texture which attracts dust, fluff and stray hairs exceedingly well!

Base coat.
One dried I gave a drybrush of coffee brown and urban jungle green.  The river was painted using inscribe acrylics.  It didn't come out quite right, but this was a test anyway so I'm not too worried.

Almost finished...
 I'm quite pleased how some of the experiment have turned out.  The road works well, though the ruler is only wide enough for a single vehicle width.  I'll need a thicker plasticard template to use if I make a large games mat featuring roads.  I already knew the tyre tracks worked.  The mesh surface gives a slightly off texture but I quite like it, rather like widely spaced concrete sets.  It will certainly do to add interest if I make an urban games mat.

The entrance to an IMEC mining site.
 Ensuring an even thickness of sealant is clearly important when using the mesh!  Only a very thin layer is required - too thick and it comes up through the holes.

Hard standing

Tyre tracks through the mud.

Tarmac road and man-hole.

The standard sponged texture.
 I've completed the texturing on the entire 6 x 4 foot mat and have also given it a coat of Java Bean so my next task it to start highlighting and mottling the surface with other colours.

Thursday 15 November 2012

SG15-HS3 - Hammer's Slammers infantry on skimmers

 My mounted Slammers have been painted in the same colour scheme as the dismounted infantry, as described in my earlier posts.

You get 4 identical skimmers in this pack.  If you wanted to add a buzzbomb launcher it wouldn't be too hard to fabricate one from a bit of brass rod/tube or even a plastic sprue offcut.

I've painted their skimmers Humbrol 86 Olive Drab the same as their body armour, with a Valejo sepia ink wash.  Details are picked out in Vallejo stonewall grey with a black wash.  The GEV skirt is Vallejo matt black with a Humbrol 32 dark grey drybrush.

I've already got some which act as fast scouts for my NAC troops, though I've treated them as grav vehicles rather than GEVs.

They're also ripe for conversion by adding bits of brass rod, plasticard fins and head-swaps.

Wednesday 14 November 2012

SG15-HS2 Hammer's Slammers with visors closed

 I thought I'd posted these pictures a while ago but if I did I couldn't find them!

These Slammers are identical to set SG15-HS1 except that their visors are closed.  Colour scheme is exactly as the first set I painted.

As before, weapons are (L-R, top - bottom) pistol, buzzbomb launcher, powergun, grenade launcher (thanks to Comstar for pointing that out last time) and 4 more powerguns.

 I think they'd make good security personnel too, they look quite intimidating.

One thing I haven't painted on is the red and blue pull tabs on the front of the armour for the painkiller/stimulant injectors, though they are moulded on.

Tuesday 13 November 2012

SG15-J03 - Japanese Power Armour

The conclusion of my Ground Zero Games Japanese Corporate Troops painting project - power armour.

As you can see, we have a squad leader with a couple of very chunky swords.  They have small cables running into them so presumably they are power swords/vibroswords or something similar.  He also has 2 banner-styles fins containing sensors and communications gear.  Next in line are a pair of identical troopers armed with tribarrel support weapons, making good use of the power armour's extra load-carrying capacity.

The bottom row comprises a trooper with some sort of square-barrelled heavy weapon.  Maybe it's some sort of heavy flechette gun or launcher.  Finally there are a couple of troopers armed with paired shoulder-mounted missile pods which are obviously the same as the single hexagonal-fronted one carried by the heavy weapon trooper in the normal infantry set.

 I've followed a pretty similar colour scheme to the regular troopers, using Vallejo beastly brown and charred brown with GW red gore on the shoulder pads, backpack grilles and lower leg details.

The commander has the little sensor windows on his back fins detailed in green for a bit of contrast.

 Finally a comparison photo so that you can see how a normal trooper measures up against one in power armour.

I've seen several other reviews where people have commented on the "teddy-bear" shape of the helmet!  They are quite cute.

Sunday 11 November 2012

Remembrance Day

No games today - just Remembrance Parade to show our respect for those who have given their lives in the service of our country.

Our Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Explorers paraded through the village to the mediaeval round-towered church where we stood round the war memorial and had a short service.

The little metal and plastic people we play with in our games have no families and friends to miss them when they're gone.  They don't have hopes and dreams that will never be fulfilled because they die on some far-of battlefield.

I thank our brave service men and women both past and present for my safety and for my freedom.

Saturday 10 November 2012

Games mat

Following the success of my initial experiments, plans are proceeding apace with my games mat.

Fabric Warehouse on Swan Lane in Norwich can do me 1.4m wide brown leatherette at £6 per metre length.  I reckon that if I get 2m I'll end up with a 6½ x 4½ foot playing surface.  If I trim it to a 6x4 sheet which will be big enough for all my games, I'll have enough in the off-cuts to make over 30 2x12 inch tracks or a mixture of tracks and ploughed fields or whatever I fancy.

Based on the coverage I achieved on my trial muddy track sections, I think another 3 tubes of brown frame sealant will be enough to cover the main gaming mat so a quick trip to "QD" at the same time will give me all I need.  I've got plenty of plasticard scraps which I can turn into scupting tools to create tracks, wheel-ruts and other low relief featuures.

A 6x4 Zuzzy mat would certainly be far superior in detail and quality of finish, but at £32.96 (according to currency converter) plus an additional 22% postage it would be more expensive than my budget substitute which should come in at less than £18 (circa $28).  Neither of these prices includes paint, but that would work out the same in each case.  With my home-made gaming surface I won't mind so much if the painting goes wrong because it should be easy to fix without the worry of damaging an expensive mail order item that I'd have to re-order from the US!

I'll also have the satisfaction of having made it myself, and that chance for creativity is one of the main reasons that I enjoy making scenery and painting models.

If everything goes according to plan, I have ideas for another games matt fro urban games with a low-relief road and pavement layout into which I can drop my existing urban scenery (which has been built using a 10x10cm grid).

Friday 9 November 2012

SG15-J04 Kneeling & Prone Japanese

I've just realised that I've done these out of order and that the Power Armour should have been next but never mind, I'll leave them for next time!

These kneeling and prone troopers have the same armour and assault rifles as the standing troops.  There's not much more to say really, whether you would buy this pack probably depends upon your views on prone figures.  If you didn't want to use them as regular riflemen, you could probably convert them into snipers or support gunners without too much bother by adding long gun barrels.  A bit of brass or plastic tube would give you an anti-tank missile.  This would be different from the hexagonal shaped launcher with the standing figures, but I've always thought that looks more like an anti-personnel launcher firing smaller warheads.

Thursday 8 November 2012

SG15-J02 Japanese Corporate Troops (bare headed)

 More Japanese Corporate Troops, this time without their helmets.  Other than that they're identical to those in pack SG15-J01.

I think that the bare heads add a huge amount of character to these models.  I particularly like the squad leader shouting orders

I've used exactly the same base colour scheme as the previous set.  After discussions with Jon Tuffley I've given them white headbands with a red circle in the middle to add to the Japanese feel.  I don't know if that would have any particular meaning in Japan but it looks OK anyway!

I'm especially impressed by the fact that these are 8 unique models, Jon has given each a different head rather than just doing 1 variation on each of the 5 basic figure types.

As you'd expect, these figures mix in well with the helmeted troopers.

 Tomorrow I hope to post the kneeling/prone Japanese troops - stay tuned!

SG15-J01 Japanese Corporate Troops

 I've aimed for a Samurai feel with these Japanese Corporate troopers from Ground Zero Games.

Vallejo beastly brown was used for the armour, Vallejo charred brown for the trousers and upper sleeves.  I overpainted some parts of the armour with GW red gore.  Painting it over the brown has kept it fairly restrained, unlike the bright red you'd get from painting it over a white undercoat.

The whole figure received a wash of Vallejo sepia ink.  The darker brown areas received a further wash of Vallejo black ink to ensure a good contrast with the lighter brown armour.

Weapons are Vallejo matt black with a Humbrol 32 dark grey drybrush.  Flesh is Vallejo dwarf flesh with a sepia wash, highlighted with dwarf flesh and then with elf flesh.  I'm not sure that it's an entirely convincing Japanese skin tone, but there's so little flesh on show that it hardly matters!

The officer's sword has GW red gore and Vallego bonewhite stripes.

A nice set of figures.  5 are armed with compact assault rifles, one a tribarrel support weapon and one a 6-round mini-missile launcher.  The officer has an assult rifel and a sword (perhaps a katana?).

Tuesday 6 November 2012

First major action on Charity

A full report on Sunday's battle, played in an asymmetric style but using regular troops on both sides.  This was used as an introduction to someone who fancied trying something different from the usual 40K slaughterfest, so I tried to keep the rules fairly simple.  The photographs were taken in-game so apologies for their poor quality.

A small unit of Neo Colonial Commonwealth Marines has established an observation post in a small compound.  With rumours of AFCFA forces gathering in the area, the local commander has made the decision to pull his men out before the situation degenerates into open fighting as happened a few weeks ago.  An APC and an MBT have been dispatched to the village to cover the withdrawal of the observation unit.  NCC observation post forces: 4 power armoured troopers, 4 marines, 1 Goanna scout car.  Relief force: 8 Marines, 1 Glaive grav APC, 1 Sabre grav MBT.  All are confident, TQ8, morale 10, equipped with light armour (+1D defence), GPMGs (med support +2D firepower), LAWs (med support +2D firepower).  Powered armour carry light support weapons/grenade launchers (+2D firepower)

Armed Forced of the Charity Freedom Alliance commanders have been building their forces and feel that the time is right to take on some of the NCC troops.  When news of the relief force's approach reaches them, they rush to launch their attack on the observation post before their entire force is in position.  AFCFA  assault force: 3x 4-man fireteams deployed by die roll close to the reinforcement markers.  Reinforcements arrive at the end of each turn, 1 fireteam on turn 1, 2 fireteams on turn 2, 3 fireteams on turn 3 etc.  Once all spare fireteams have been used up, weapons teams will be deployed instead.  All are confident, TQ6, morale 10, equipped with hardsuits (+2D defence), light support weapons (+1D firepower), light missile launchers (+1D firepower).  Weapon teams include ATGMs, light support weapons, snipers, light missiles.

AFCFA troops receive their first of many casualties.
The Marines and powered armour in the observation post opened fire on the AFCFA troopers in nearby buildings.  They caused several casualties without suffering any of their own.  The MBT and APC moved rapidly down the track towards the village.  One fireteam stayed in the APC but the other started the game dismounted and trotted across the track towards the cover of a small outbuilding.

The APC hurtled on towards the observation compound.  Seeing it approach, the marines and powered armour moved down into the compound where they would be hidden from view until the transport arrived.  The MBT slowed, the turret traversing towards the nearest of a group of buildings with several AFCFA troopers visible inside.  With devastating accuracy the tank's main gun sent a shell straight through the front windows, the resulting explosion causing the entire building to collapse into a dusty heap of rubble.  The remaining AFCFA troopers kept their heads down, waiting for better targets to present themselves.

Marines de-bus to cover extraction from the observation
compound as the Goanna roars past.
The APC slowed as it approached the compound, the fireteam debussing to take up a firing position close to the meeting house in the centre of the village.  The marine fireteam inside the compound piled into the scout car and swerved out through the gates and off towards the meeting house.  AFCFA troops traded a few shots with the NCC marines but to no obvious effect.  The MBT turned its attention to the building adjacent the observation compound, this one also vanishing in a cloud of dust and brick fragments.  The NCC marines were performing well.  They had no casualties and their fast and decisive actions meant that were well on the way to successfully extracting all their forces from the village.  The AFCFA forces were suffering severely, most fireteams containing some injured troopers - but their forces were still building, and now some of their weapon teams were starting to arrive in the battle area.

Powered armour marined prepare to move to the APC.
The Scout car accelerated across the village, past the meeting house and between the hills at the edge of the village.  One of the most recent AFCFA units to arrive was an anti-tank missile team.  Seeing the Goanna hurtling towards them, they swiftly finished setting up the system and were able to launch at the unarmoured vehicle.  The ATGM skimmed out low from the building before lifting skywards so that the top-attack warhead could achieve the optimum firing position.  The charge penetrated the top of the Goanna and detonated inside, blowing the scout car onto its roof.  The driver and 3 of the marines were able to drag each other clear of the burning, twisted wreckage, but the remaining marine had been killed outright by the missile.

AFCFA weapons teams (ATGM team on right).
Back at the observation compound, the APC had arrived and the power armoured marines clambered inside.  The marine squad near the meeting house continued to trade fire with an increasing number of AFCFA troops but managed to keep causing casualties while losing none of their own.  Despite this, their isolation was causing problems with their morale and they were feeling far less confident than they had at the start of the battle.  It didn't help that an eliet AFCFA sniper team had joined the battle.  This unseen enemy had already caused casualties, though fortunately they had only been wounded rather than killed.  The MBT fired again, this time directly against a squad of CAFCA troops visible on top of a building.  The entire unit was taken out of action by the shellburst in their midst.

At the wrecked Goanna, the survivors desperately fought for their lives.  Time and again them somehow avoided serious injury whilst taking down enemy troopers, but it was only a matter of time before weight of numbers overwhelmed  them.

As the MBT searched for another target, a second ATGM  team crawled into position in the rubble of the first house that the takn had destroyed.  Luck was with them as their missile soared above the tank and a jet of fire streaked down through the armour and into the power cells.  2 crew managed to clamber free of the blazing tank but their comrades succumbed to the fire.  The isolated squad by the meeting house moved quickly to the tank crew and they stumbled off towards the firefight near the wrecked Goanna.  As they moved, they exchanged fire with the growing number of AFCFA troopers in the rubble and succeeded in silencing several of them, including the ATGM team which had destroyed the tank.

The bailed-out tank crew and survivors of a fireteam make a break for it.

The APC swished past the Goanna and its survivors, the automated machine gun turret spewing shells into the AFCFA  troopers nearby.  The ATGM team frantically tried to reload their launcher but their inexperience showed, and they were unable to get it ready to fire.

As the APC skims past, survivors from the Goanna try to deal with their casualties.

Then things got worse for the NCC marines.  A  chem alert was sounded and they immediately started to don their protective equipment.  Already burdened with wounded, the marines now found their effectiveness further degraded by their chem suits.  Finding themselves on a more even footing, AFCFA troops started to inflict greater damage on the struggling marines.  The marine APC's machine gun mount was destroyed and rather than risk further loss of life, the driver carried out his orders and whisked his passengers out of the village and to safety.

Despite this, not everything was going AFCFA's way.  To add to the confusion, a dust storm blew up, then an AFCFA unit away from the main battle area decided to lend some indirect fire support.  Their mortar fire landed on one of their own units, causing severe casualties.  The main building overlooking the exit to the village was being used as a strongpoint by several AFCFA squads but they now realised the error of this choice when it became clear that the shoddy construction of the building gave them no protection from enemy fire ("What's this wall made of, Swiss cheese?").

AFCFA armoured infantry fireteam with wounded.
Although the marine APC had gone, a light armoured missile carrier rolled up to the edge of the village to provide fire support.  Their first target was the surviving AFCFA ATGM team who were immediately taken out of action.  Return fire spattered ineffectually off the vehicle's armour.  Most of the AFCFA troops concentrated their fire on the marine who were trying to make their way to safety.  Marines went down, were hauled upright by their comrades only to be hit a second or third time and fall to the ground again.

Overwhelming AFCFA firepower brings down the already injured marines.
The marine unit that concealed itself in the small hut overlooking the exit from the village now rushed out to aid their fellow marines.  With the number of AFCFA units ever increasing, they stood little hope of turning the battle.  The AFCFA  commander requested that the sniper unit fire on the missile carrier as it mowed down more of his troops.  No-one was expecting the enormous explosion that followed.  Exactly what it was that the sniper hit isn't clear, perhaps it was the warhead or fuel tank of one of the missiles but whatever it was the vehicle was completely destroyed.  Meanwhile an AFCFA  tank had finally reached the battle area and was rolling into the far end of the village.

Having seen all their squadmates cut down around them, the surviving three marines decided that they could do no more, it was time to cut and run.  Throwing caution to the wind, they sprinted in the direction the APC had taken.  Luck was with them and only a single squad of AFCFA troopers were able to fire aftetr them, missing with every shot.

The battle was over.  The NCC marines had extracted their powered armour team and ¾ of a fireteam from the village, but at what cost?  A scout car was easily replaced but the loss of the MBT would be felt.  Including the vehicle crews, 14 marines were either dead or wounded and captured by the Charity Freedom Alliance.  Some of the AFCFA troops had obviously had cameras recording during the battle because footage of the NCC MBT destroying buildings quickly found its way onto the news networks, as did additional footage of the destruction of the tank and the battered and bloody marines being led into captivity.
Many AFCFA troops had been killed or wounded.

I had forgotten to set victory point criteria before the game began, but with fog of war cards giving a -3 penalty to the NCC and a +3 bonus to AFCFA, I think I know who won!  The loss of ¾ of their vehicles was clearly not good for the NCC marines.

The battle was certainly going the NCC way for the first 2 or 3 turns, they wiped out entire AFCFA squads without taking any casualties of their own.  As reinforcements started to build, the situation started to change.  On some occasions towards the end of the battle, marine units were taking so much incoming fire that they actually ran out of return fire dice!  What really swung things in the AFCFA's favour was the fog of war NBC warning that caused the marines to drop to TQ6.  Very lucky rolls by the 2 AFCFA ATGM teams also made a big difference.  Until that point, all ant-tank fire against NCC vehicles had bounced off, but  good rolls by the missile teams and unbelievably bad rolls by the tank (the Goanna scout never really stood a chance anyway) followed by an outstanding roll on the damage table meant that the MBT's fate was sealed.  The off-board sniper team also had an extraordinarily lucky shot against the missile carrier.

A fun game and what effect the bad publicity will have will be interesting to see.  Incidentally, it was the NCC marines who fired first in this battle - but only because they won the TQ roll against the AFCFA squad who were trying to shoot at them!  There is also the question of the marine prisoners who could probably do with rescuing, preferably before they get subjected to a show trial by the Charity Freedom Alliance...

Monday 5 November 2012

Charity Freedom Alliance victorious against off-world agressors!

In yet another humiliation for the Neo Colonial Commonwealth, injured NCC Marines were shown being led into captivity yesterday by victorious AFCFA troops.  This is the first major battle on Charity between the Armed Forces of the Freedom Charity Alliance and Neo Colonial Commonwealth peacekeeping troops.  After an initial skirmish 3 weeks ago, the situation appeared to have stabilised, but is is now clear that this had given a false impression of calm.

In a statement yesterday, an NCC spokesman nevertheless described the operation as a success.  "We had received reports of a build up of AFCFA forces in the area around one of our outlying observation units.  We made the decision to withdraw our unit as a precautionary measure, but were attacked whilst doing so.  This unprovoked assault on our forces was met with stiff opposition and the main body of our garrison was successfully extracted from the area.  The remainder of our troops surrendered to prevent further loss of life on both sides, having bravely fought a rearguard action to allow their comrades to escape.  We are currently pursuing discussions with the Charity Freedom Alliance for the repatriation of these troops.  Our operation also prevented several advanced powered armour suits falling into the hands of the CFA."

This statements contrasts sharply with the statement issued by the CFA.:
"At 15:00 local time, an AFCFA unit on exercise moved to investigate a report of NCC armour moving into their area.  Our brave volunteers were immediately fired upon and despite their lack of experience they instantly sprang into action to defend both themselves and the local civilians from these off-world aggressors.  Their outstanding courage and the strength of their beliefs led them to victory against those who wish to oppress the hard working inhabitants of Charity and bind them into slavery.  The irresponsible and indiscriminate use of force by the NCC resulted in the destruction of many dwellings, but swift follow-up action by our forces has helped avert a refugee crisis.  Selflessly giving their own rations and portable shelters to those whose houses had been destroyed in the fighting, our heroic armed forces have shown themselves superior to our imperialist foes in all respects.  Engineering units are on the way as I speak, preparing to rebuild the village and create a permanent memorial to our fallen heroes.  Our skilled warriors successfully apprehended a number of the cowardly Commonwealth mercenaries and we intend to convene a war trials tribunal in the near future to ensure that they are dealt with appropriately."

The triplanetary council that requested NCC peacekeeping troops be deployed to Charity has not made any official comment, but sources close to them are reporting major disatisfaction with the way in which the situation is developing into a military confrontation.

Commonwealth Marines firing indiscriminately into nearby civilian buildings.
Footage on the holonet appears to support the CFA viewpoint, showing an NCC MBT firing into buildings, reducing them to rubble, followed by marines apparently firing indiscriminately into nearby buildings.

Injured AFCFA armoured infantry heroically fight back.

Other footage shows AFCFA armoured infantry engaging NCC marines, an AFCFA missile team in action, destroying the MBT with a direct hit and finally a group of battered and bloody marines being escorted into custody.

Main report to follow...

Thursday 1 November 2012

Experiments with builders' caulk

I came across an article on making your own "zuzzy mat" style roll-up wargaming surface a few weeks ago.  You can find the main articles on the Durham Wargames Group web pages.  I found them through a link from another page, possibly someone's blog but I can't remember - if you're reading this and think it was you, please e-mail me and I'll update this page to include that link too!

I bought a tube of brown acrylic frame sealant/decorators' caulk in our local garden centre (one of the Cherry Lane / QD chain if you're in the East of England).  About £1.25 for a standard sized cartridge for use in a sealant gun, the brand is "151".  I've found that 151 stuff is pretty good for wargaming and modelmaking use.  They do epoxy putty, superglue, self-adhesive magnetic tape, all pretty good quality for very low prices and you often find them in budget shops.

I had about 10 minutes before I went out one evening so quickly cut out some 12" lengths of leatherette (left over from woggle-making with the Scouts), squirted a wiggly line of sealant over them and smoothed it over with my finger.  A bit of sponge packaging from the back of a BattleMech blister pack was patted over the sealant to give it a rough texture, then I scraped tyre-ruts in with a wooden coffee-stirrer (end cut off to give a flat-bottomed rut rather than a curved one).  Because I was in a rush I didn't take any photographs at the time but here are some very bad ones of the semi-completed trackways still in their raw sealant form.

Old Crow Goanna scout car for scale

Detail of the sponged texture with wheel ruts.

Looks like someone swerved off here...
These were just a rush job proof-of-concept exercise.  I used dark blue leatherette because that what I had handy, but brown would work better because the edges would be less noticeable.  On the next batch I'll make sure that all the ends are the same width - these were all cut with a pair of scissors, using a nut screwed partly down a 2" bolt as a cutting guide, not the most accurate of methods!

I'll experiment with a bit of paint on these next week and take some better photographs.

Next task will be to buy a larger sheet of brown leatherette, probably 3x3 or 4x4 feet to make a roll-up gaming surface.  Before I do that I'll probably practice applying a few different textures to the leatherette to see what works and what doesn't.

My thanks to Durham Wargames Club for giving me inspiration!