Sunday, January 22, 2017

Progress on my 28mm Sci-Fi Recce Cars

I've made some progress on my Sci-fi scout cars and thought I'd share a few pix.  Painting them has not been altogether successful, as I used a couple of paints that I hadn't used before, and had problems with transparency, multiple coats and streaks in the paint. Anyway, here is how they sit at the moment:

 
 
 

That's an old GW plastic Imperial Guardsman in there for scale.  Hoping to get them weathered and done next weekend.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

First Fighters for Star Fleet Battles

One of my ongoing projects is to bring Star Fleet Battles to my table top in miniature form.  I had been concerned about how to do this, as Amarillo Design Bureau only offers a few models to represent the many different fighters in SFB.

I asked on TMP, who might make a variety of small space fighter miniatures and was directed to GZG or Ground Zero Games, who have an amazing range of model space ships and fighters for the Full Thrust rules system. As it turned out,  I received a nice selection of GZG space fighter models for Christmas, and have painted up a few as a test run for size comparison, basing method etc, and thought that I'd share a couple of pix. These are from pack FT-101B (New Anglian Confederation), and will being used as Klingon fighters in my SFB.

Two Klingon fighters pictured with a US one cent pieces and an ADB
Klingon D-5 War Cruiser (Starline 2400) for size comparison.

And pictured again, this time with Klingon D5 and F6, and a
Kzinti Medium Cruiser.

My wife (who is not a gamer) instructed me to inform everyone that GZG was wonderful to deal with, and that the service was spectacular, getting the items out and across the Atlantic in just over a week at Christmas time.

I'm pretty happy with the fighters and think that they will work well for my purpose.  I cut the 5/8 inch hex bases from styrene for these, but have since ordered 15mm plastic bases from Minairons (as I don't want to hand cut 200 hex bases), and will get a bunch more of these ready to go once the bases arrive.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

28mm Sci-fi Recce Cars Update

When I went searching for my last post about these, I was shocked to find that it was nearly two years old.  I stopped work on these as I needed to either make of find wheels for them, and finally did, but can't believe that they set on my painting table for what turned out to be a 23 month search. 

Anyway, as part of my "finish unfinished projects" crusade, I managed to make some headway on these yesterday. When I started, they looked like this:



After today, they look like this:

 
 
 
 
 

They are two variations of the same basic vehicle.  A light armored car used by a regional military in my post apocalyptic world.  The idea is that they are recycled, pre-apocalypse gas guzzlers, rebuilt as electric exploration/mapping and recce vehicles, with various added gizmos for their new role.  That's an old GW Imperial Guard fig (circa 1989) in there for some sense of scale/size.

There are some other bits and some baggage that will be added during or after painting.  With any luck, I've have some shots of the table-ready vehicles to share in the next couple of weeks.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Reflecting on 2016; Considering 2017

2016 ended up being a year of almosts.  A few projects were almost completely ignored, WWII East Front, France 1940, and 20mm Vietnam.  Others received more attention in the form of planning, miniatures acquisitions/painting, and rules writing that almost brought them to the table;  Star Fleet Battles, Cold War, Post Apocalypse, and Near Future.  And one almost went according to plan;  Modern Africa. 

Particularly in the second half of the year, I made some headway, playing seven games in a six week span, getting a set of modern air combat rules onto the table, and getting a full scale war launched in my modern African campaign.

A near future project that I've envisioned for decades, gained momentum in the form of planning, rules and figure acquisitions.  Its close proximity and interwoven nature with my Post Apocalypse world means that both often get a boost from work on either.  My PA game is so close to happening that I can feel the oppressive heat of the wasteland sun stealing my breath.


In 2017 I am going to try to focus a little more narrowly than in the past year.  I had targeted eight projects over the past year, but only made any real progress on five of them.  I figure that those are the five nearest and dearest to my gaming heart for now, and will focus on them in the new year:

15mm Modern Africa Imagi-nations
I plan to fight more of the battles between Mugabia and Uwanda.  In just the opening battles of the broader conflict, each side has realized an significant oversight that may heavily impact the progress and direction of the conflict.  And, with the manifestations of the oversights, the likelihood of outside intervention grows, on land and in the air.

28mm Post Apocalypse
 I have rules, story-lines,  characters, and figures for 22 factions in my post-apoc world.  I only have to get some terrain and other bits finished (and make a place to store it), before the adventure can begin.  My game will be launched in the coming year.  I hope to share it on my blog, as a series a stories told from the vantage point of various characters in the game.

28mm Near Future
This is a less ambitious project than my PA world, but involves a number of factions for light-hearted adventures in a near future setting.  Set in and around a southwestern Hollywood town, adventures will range from squabbles between locals and out-of-towners to espionage to zombies to alien invasions. The plan is to finish building the game in 2017 for presentation as a convention game early in 2018.

6mm and 15mm Cold War
I am a child of the Cold War, and have been fascinated with the hypotheticals since the early 1970s.  The goal this year will be to field armies of 4-5 nations circa 1982 on completed battlefields by the end of the year.

Star Fleet Battles
A fan of the boxed rules and three expansions from the early 1980s (pre-Captain's Additions), over the last year, I have been working to get this onto the table in miniature in a way that I have envisioned since about 1982.  An old friend and I are chasing this, and will be experimenting with adaptations to the rules to better accommodate the SFB rules with miniatures later in the year.


So these are the main goals, probably as unrealistic and unattainable as always, but it never hurts to dream.  Other projects may creep in as the mood strikes me, as Victorian Piracy and adventure, the jungles of Vietnam, and battles of 1940 and the Eastern Front are never far from my heart. 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Finishing Old Business

Most of my basement is occupied with miniatures, terrain, and endless gaming projects in various states of completion.  Incomplete projects out-number completed ones, and I'm am always in my own way, while trying to work on anything.  Early in the year, I started to make a little headway, discarding things that simply weren't worth the space that took up, selling "abandoned miniatures", and finishing old projects.  But as I got busier with life again, I faded away from the "clean-up".  In recent days though, I have managed to get the jump on some unfinished business.

Back in 1989 or so, I plunged into 15mm WWII gaming via Quality Castings, which sold the old Heritage miniature line.  My first encounter with these figs came nearly a decade earlier, when I was introduced to the Panzertroops rules, but we opted to play with 1/72 scale plastics, as the metal miniatures were more expensive and not readily available to us at the time.

At the time that I got into 15mm WWII, Quality Castings was the only suitable miniature line that I was aware of, and it was readily available.  I was actually pretty happy with them, though some
models were better than others.

QC Somua S-35 and French infantry in 15mm.

Anyway, shortly after receiving these, I thought that I would clean up their Pz III E to make it a little more accurate.  As I began scaling their model, and considering what was involved, I just decided to make a new master for the model, and thus started the life long endeavor of making my own miniatures.

Though it hasn't seen the table in years, this Pz III is a veteran of
hundreds of France 1940 games.  I imagine that it will get a
face-lift before seeing the tabletop again.

Over the next few years, I mastered more than 50 WWII vehicles in 15mm scale, focusing on building a nice collection of 1940 models over that first 18 months or so.  I continued working on mid and late war Germans, late war US, and a few Soviet models as well.

One thing lead to another, with the result being that I never built my own mid and late war armies.  I cast a couple of these and a couple of those, and played the occasional game, but for example, all these years later I have only four Pz IV, two Tiger 1, a couple of Panthers, etc.  There are many models of which I have no castings.  So for all these years, I have carried around boxes of molds with the intent of building my WWII armies.

Nearly half of my late war German armor.  Most was cast and
finished with a minimum paint job in a rush for the odd game.


I've reached a point where storage space is at a premium, and those molds take up valuable shelf space, while offering no on-table options, so I recently decided to cast up my armies, trading  miniatures for molds, and in the end, gaining a couple of empty shelves.

With a few days off over the holidays, I've started casting, and am making progress.  I don't know if I will be done by the start of the new year, but it shouldn't be too much longer than that, to complete my casting project.

 
My growing number of parts for armies that should have
been finished decades ago.

Hopefully, it won't take another 27 years to get them assembled and painted.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

New Arivals (More Figs for the Unpainted Heap)

Haven't done much gaming-wise this month due to work and making 15mm masters, so thought I'd share some new arrivals, now waiting patiently on my painting table.

Zombiesmith Grey Aliens
First off, I received my Greys from Zombiesmith a few weeks ago... and they are awesome.  Wonderfully detailed little guys, about 22mm tall (plus of minus), with unique faces and expressions full of character.  They will be a very welcome addition (well, maybe not by humans and cattle) to a contemporary/near-future adventure that I'm working on.  And I have an idea for their transport, but that will be the subject of future posts. Here are some pics of the figs:

I measured the guy on bottom 4th from the left, but the pic was fuzzy;
he measured .87" in height, about 7/8 inch or 22mm.


Zombiesmith was great to deal with, good coms and order status updates.  Highly recommended.


SOE Kill Team, Statuesque Miniatures
Next up are some items from Statuesque miniatures. I ordered a sprue of female heads for some sci-fi and post apoc conversions.  This is my first order with Statuesque, and I was impressed.  They have three sizes/scales that you can order in (you need to check out scales on their site), that seem to be scaled to range from roughly 25mm to 32mm figs (my interpretation).  I ordered mine in the "pulp" scale, and am quite happy with the size for use with my generally 28mm figs.

Above is pack SMA301 in "Pulp" scale next to a 28mm Bobby Jackson
 (Thugz) figure (left), and a Hasslefree fig (right) for scale reference.

Next is the S.O.E. kill Team, three outstanding figures that will be modified slightly for my post apoc games.  The figs are finely detailed, flawlessly cast, and  truly outstanding.  Another company that features great coms and order status updates.  Here is the Kill Team as received:

 
 
 
The last pic is show a 28mm Hasslefree fig and Bobby Jackson
fig for scale reference with the Statuesque fig in the center. 
The S.O.E. Kill Teams figs are also in the  Statuesques' "Pulp" scale.

Another thing that I like about the Statuesque figs, is that the weapons are reasonably scaled and also very finely detailed. Each figure arrives in its own bag, and you pick your preferred base size when ordering.



QRF Air Support
And lastly, I finally got around to ordering some air support form QRF.  I picked up two SU17s, two Sepecat Jaguars, and two Su25s.  QRF sent order status updates, with the order coming very quickly, taking about two weeks to get across the pond. Here is the SU17:

 
 
 

The fuselage in resin has good detail, but the resin is a little rough in spots.  This will clean up very easily with a little automotive glazing putty and a Squadron sanding stick.  There are a number of micro-bubbles in the resin, but again, they clean up very easily with the glazing putty.  The exhaust nozzle on both castings had a bigger bubble on the right side which got chipped a little more in shipping on one of the castings (see last photo).  This is still a relatively simple fix with a little bit of styrene and a touch of putty.  The wings and detail parts are white metal and very nicely detailed and cast.

The Jaguar is a lovely model and will require very little cleaning up.  Again with a resin fuselage and metal wings and details.  I haven't decided if I will finish them for my UK or French forces yet.

 
 
 
 

Again, this is a really nice model, with all of the castings of superior quality.  I look forward to ordering a couple more of these, to complete forces for whichever of my air forces doesn't get them first.

Lastly is the Su25, another very nice model, is mostly resin, including one piece fuselage and wings, with smaller detail parts in metal.  The resin casting is much cleaner than the SU17, but not quite as perfect as the Jaguar.  It will require a little cleanup, mostly along the trailing edge of the wings, but not much.  Again, as for the models above, the metal parts are quite nice, and I particularly like how the expendable munitions are cast directly on the hard-points.  It saves a glue joint and a weak spot when handling the model.

 
 
 

Given the current exchange rate, these aircraft from QRF are a bit of a bargain, so if you're going to get the them, and in the US like me, now is the time.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

AAR24: The Mugabian Surprise

Before cleaning up my table to make more room for more casting, I played the first ground battle of the second strategic turn of the Uwandan invasion of Mugabia.  The battle took place on the southern fringe of Objective B-21.  Below is a map of the central border region between the countries of Uwanda (left) and Mugabia (right) with the black line being the border.


"I like this young Mugabian" thought Major Beriev of the Mugabian officer hurriedly readying his troops before him; "I believe the fire burns within him." The Major had been teaching the ways of proper leadership, and the ways of war.  The student would soon have opportunity to apply his lessons.

The Mugabian captain  had the fortune of commanding the only unit in a position to respond to the President's order for immediate counter-attack.  His troops made up a composite force intended to be  a ready reserve to counter any Uwandan attack at A59 and/or B-11, and by chance, located at Objective B32 to the south of Objective B21, where Uwanda's first ground attack came.

Re-purposed, his unit was on the road to reinforce objective B21, not knowing that the war had already arrived there.  While in route, he began receiving reports of the events at B-21 and he adjusted his advance as best he could to avoid the Uwandan air attacks that were being reported.  Though it slowed his pace, his unit still moved quickly, having left what little armor it possessed at B-32. 

As he neared B-21, friendly aircraft flew overhead, and he could see smoke rising in the distance,  He deployed a portion of his infantry company to act as reconnaissance, as he had no dedicated element of this type. 

The Captain listened to the Russian advisor that was attached to his unit, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. Though he would likely be reprimanded for it, Captain Smythe lead one of the recce elements, and soon found his force in an excellent situation.  The Uwandan forces at B21 were forming up to advance on Objective B32, but had not moved out yet.

Below are views of Objective B21 and Uwandan Force 4 as first encountered by the Mugabian attacking force:

Southerly view of the battlefield, showing disposition of Uwanda forces.
Damaged and abandoned vehicles from the earlier battle
 are still in place, some still smoldering.

View looking east, Uwanda possesses the town to the north.

View looking west, Mugabia attacks from the south (left) edge.

The Mugabian attacking force consisted of :
1x HQ with 1x BTR152, 1z GAZ69
1x Mech Infantry Company with 10x BTR152
4x 85mm gun w/GAZ66
2x ZU23/2 w/truck
4x 120mm mortar w/truck, 1x GAZ69

Uwanda Force 4 consisted of :
1x HQ with 1x M3 halftrack, 1x Jeep
2x Centurion (attached from Force 1)
8x Firefly
13x M3 halftrack with infantry company
3x Saladin
4x Ferret

Uwandan Occupation Force at Objective B21:
1x ZU23/2
2x Inf sections (deployed along the south edge of town)

The Mugabian captain had his infantry platoons fan out across the southern approach to B21, and managed to moved two of his 85mm guns into position to the southwest of the town.  He also had four 120mm mortars deployed off-board ready to fire a mix of high explosive and smoke. 

A Mugabian infantry platoon and two 85mm guns move
 into position to the southwest of the town.
 
The Mugabian Captain and infantry on the rise directly south of town.
 
Mugabian infantry platoon advancing up the road from the southeast.
 
Very slowly the Mugabian infantry, bristling with RPGs, advanced into choice positions against the Uwandans.  Minutes ticked by, the Mugabians continued to advance, with the order to return fire if the Uwandans started shooting.  The Uwandans did not (for 32 very cautious, exceedingly slow, and utterly eventless turns, the absolutely blind Uwandans couldn't see squat). 

Uwandan infantry advance through the trees southwest of town...

... and up the road from the southeast.

Finally, the Captain, concerned that somehow he was walking into a trap, gave the order to fire.  The Uwandans were caught completely flat-footed.  Still, the range was just great enough that the RPGs were not as effective as hoped with 6 of 8 missing entirely on the first volley.  But the 85mm guns hit, as did the mortars, and a number of Uwandan infantry and a couple of armored cars were damaged or destroyed.

First hits on the unsuspecting Uwandans. 

In those first seconds, flustered Uwandan infantry fired at ghosts, hitting only one Mugabian soldier, before a second volley of RPGs could be fired, a captured ZU23 and another armored car exploded, then a Uwandan halftrack, automatic weapons fire broke out all along the southern flank of the town.  Tanks and armored cars attempted to get out of each others way, and find the enemy among the chaos.


The Uwandan commander immediately called for air support, believing he was being attacked by a much larger force, but air support was not possible at the moment.  His artillery was moving to follow his force advancing towards B32.  His infantry and armor were on their own for the time being, and insufficient information was being reported to get any idea of what was really happening.

Mugabian infantry continued to advance particularly from the southeast and southwest, with RPGs being fired as fast as possible.

Mugabian infantry advance up the tree-line west of town, eventually
engaging the tail of the Uwanda infantry company on the east-west road.
 
Infantry advancing through the buildings southeast of town.
 
In time the Mugabians began to run out of rockets for their RPGs, while the Uwandans started to get an idea of what they were up against, and the tide began to turn.

Uwanda's armor begins to inflict casualties on the Mugabian infantry.

The Mugabian commander understood the changing situation and instructed his forces to withdraw, but caught up in their success, they were slow to respond.  While continuing to inflict some damage, they  had over-extended, began to receive heavy fire, and were rapidly losing their ability to threaten the Uwandan armor.

The turning point, Uwanda gains control.
 
To the southwest, both 85mm guns were destroyed, and a few infantry casualties were taken, but the infantry platoon withdrew, mostly intact.  To the southeast, the Mugabians were not lucky.  Saladins and Fireflies cast withering machinegun and cannon fire, rapidly inflicting many casualties on the second platoon.  They withdrew as best they could, but were forced to leave their wounded comrades behind.

Second platoon suffers heavy casualties.

Major Beriev stood behind the young Mugabian Officer, nodding his approval as the Muagbian showed his insight, issuing the correct orders, at the correct time.  "This one shows promise" Beriev thought, "We can make a true leader of men from this one".

Despite the infantry losses, this wasa  battle well fought by the Mugabians.  Significant casualties were inflicted on the Uwandan force, and their planned  attack would fall behind schedule.  Mugabia would have a little more time to reinforce their positions elsewhere. And a Soviet advisor would issue a very favorable report.
_____

The Uwandans advance was hampered primarily by the slow speed of the Centurions, which allowed this Mugabian force to have the jump on them.  About the time this battle took place, Uwanda temporarily lost control of the sky, and had no artillery support.  If Mugabian had any significant close air capability, Uwanda could have been in a world of hurt, but losses were still significant, and reorganization would be needed before the attack on Objective B32 took place.

Losses

Uwanda

3x Firefly
2x Saladin
3x Ferret
3x M3 1/2t
1x ZU23/2

20KIA
9 WIA

Mugabia
2x  85mm
26 KIA
2 WIA
2 MIA

Captured by Uwanda

2 POW wounded
_______

I will be taking a little break from the Uwanda/Mubagia War to get some other things done, but plan to come back to this in about a month.