sci fi

sci fi

Thursday, 30 July 2015

The Law of the Gun


There's a summer sale on at Northstar with some interesting things reduced down to a fiver. I wanted another artillery set for my WSS imaginations project, so for a fiver I now have a battery of four cannon and some more mounted command figures for a nice vignette. I might even be able to use some of the gun crew as sappers too. 

I was also tempted by the Chris Peers western gunfight rules The Law of the Gun, which looked interesting and might be ideal as an game to play with my boys. I've played a lot of Legends of the Old West and some Dead Man's Hand games as well but neither are quite simple enough for a nine year old to pick up without quite a bit of stopping and starting.. 

The rules are designed for one to one shootouts between small gangs of no more than four figures, so at a slightly lower level than other rules that I'm familiar with. This should make them just right for a bit of roleplay style action. I like the way Chris Peers writes his rules and the no nonsense mechanisms he uses, so I like the sound of these rules too.

I have two posses painted up and always planned to do a third one but didn't get round to it. This would be a cowboy outfit to use alongside my lawman and banditos. I also really should invest in some decent terrain now that all those nice mdf buildings are available, assuming you have deep enough pockets!

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Commando Tactics


A bit of reading around the subject while I base up the commando force for Bolt Action and Chain of Command. The various commando units were incredibly diverse and had a wide range of composition, so it's very much a case of anything goes within the bounds of reason. It looks like my unit is a fairly typical commando section, which consisted of an HQ and two sub-sections, so not too off the mark.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Achtung Commando [4]


I set about organising my Foundry and Westwind commandos for Bolt Action and Chain of Command today, having forgotten to pack any superglue so being unable to start basing them up. I'll get some tomorrow but, in the meantime, I have sorted out a flexible orbat to cover both of the rules.

The Bolt Action 'platoon' consists of an HQ of an officer and NCO, together with an attached naval forward observer team. The two commando sub-sections consist of an NCO with SMG, seven riflemen and a bren team. The support elements include a 2" mortar and a sniper team, so a bit limited but better than nothing. In cost terms the total force adds up to 563 points or 623 if you include an LCA landing craft.

The Chain of Command 'platoon' is slightly different and a bit more interesting, with some additional support elements to jazz things up a bit. The HQ section consists of a senior leader, an NCO senior leader, the 2" mortar and an extra bren team instead of a PIAT team. This isn't really historically accurate but neither is Bolt Action, so there you go! I'd like to have a Boyes AT rifle but I haven't got one and I doubt they'd have one either.

The two commando sub-sections are the same but the support elements now feature as options in the support lists rather than as pre-determined add-ons. These consist of the sniper team, the naval forward observer and a three man demolition engineer team. There will also be off table naval fire support, equivalent to a 3" mortar battery, and the on-table LCA which can act as direct fire support.

In real terms both of these commando forces represent small 'hit and run' raiding parties rather than full blown assault units. They definitely wouldn't last very long without the benefit of stealth and the use of darkness to sneak up on the enemy, so that's exactly what I have in mind. I plan to use them for skirmish level scenario based games, so more Heroes of Telemark than Raids on St Nazaire!

That's enough waffle for now...onto the project!

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Summer Holiday Projects


The holidays have finally arrived and I've packed a box of projects to tackle over the summer. I probably won't get round to all of them but at least one painting and one basing project will get finished. The four projects are all things I've planned to do and have made a start on already, so they have been on the 'to do' list for a while:

1. Painting a 28mm Japanese platoon for Chain of Command.
2. Basing up a 28mm commando raiding force for Bolt Action.
3. Basing up a 28mm Turkish army for the Back of Beyond.
4. Painting a fleet of 1/450 pirate ships for Galleys and Galleons.

I'll get started in a couple of days....bad weather permitting!

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Dinosaur Hunter


I set up and moderated a now defunct Yahoo group called Lost World Safari once upon a time, dedicated to Saurian Safari in particular and dinosaur hunting games in general, so I was interested to learn that Osprey will be publishing a guidebook to prehistoric big game bagging in October. It would be great if they tied this in with a new set of Mesozoic hunting rules perhaps based on Saurian Safari but this isn't very likely, which is a shame as it's a great set of rules and good excuse to play around with plastic toy dinosaurs.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Back of Beyond Expedition Extras [7]

 

 
 
 
After the game the other day I was pondering the lack of anti-armour capability in the 'Dinosaur Hunter' expedition army list. The answer to this tactical shortfall would be to allow the force to have some limited anti-tank weaponry of some sort, without going too far over the top. I decided to have a go at an anti-tank rifle conversion of a Copplestone big game hunter, to see if I could fill this gap.
 
This involved a simple headswap and the addition of a bipod from a Lewis gunner figure, so fairly straightforward. The anti-tank rifle is supposed to look a bit like a Mauser T-Gewehr although it's a bit on the short side. In the club house rules this figure will take the place of one of the snipers and will cost exactly the same in points terms.
 
The other thing I thought of was to up-gun one of my unarmoured machine gun carriers with a 'drop-in' 37mm anti-tank gun, although this is a bit on the heavy side compared to the AT rifle. I'll have a go at persuading my opponents that this is a reasonable addition to the expedition's firepower, on the basis that a friendly Chinese warlord passed it on as army surplus for an exorbitant price tag!

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Back of Beyond Battle Report


 













I had a  very enjoyable game at the club last night but, unfortunately, had to concede a narrow victory to the British Museum, although the outcome did hinge on the last turn. I had some initial success with my DH2 aircraft which wiped out Andy's irregular cavalry and then pinned down his Chinese infantry unit in the railway station. However, the rest of my army spent most of the game cowering behind sand dunes, trading long range shots with his assorted armoured cars and heavy machine gun.
 
In the end both sides decided to end the stalemate with a cautious advance. On the right flank the Garford Putilov armoured cars traded shots until they both blew up in a close range, point blank death or glory clash. In the middle, the White Russian mercenaries and Chinese labourers were outflanked by Andy's armoured cars but held off to the end, despite having no effective anti-armour weapons and being outranged by the vehicle mounted machine guns.
 
The key turn of events was on the left, however, where my unarmoured and improvised machine gun carriers were comprehensively dispatched by Andy's concentrated firepower. This was despite using the aptly titled 'Ping' rule, by which the chocolate teapot vehicles gained a saving throw of 1-3 when hit. This saved them once or twice but worked both ways, leaving my repeated attempts to knock out the British Museum vehicles pretty futile.
 
In the end, my Texan oil prospector unit was virtually wiped out as it tried to outflank Andy's armoured spearhead over on the extreme left hand side of the battelfield, using one of the trucks as a moving shield to soak up his machine gun fire. I lost four units in total, three of which were vehicles, whilst Andy lost a heavy machine gun, his mongol cavalry and an un-armoured car, so scraped a win over the hard-pressed Texans.

Dagnabit!
 
The house rules that we have used help to make the game mechanics less clunky, with the 'Ping' rule being a good example. We both agreed that some sort of anti-armour capability, however small or limited in strength, would make a big difference to the survivability of the Dinosaur Hunters, so I'm thinking of allowing them to field a single anti-tank rifle in the guise of a high powered elephant gun for the next game, in place of one of the snipers that are allowed in the Back of Beyond supplement.
 
It was really good fun and a great way to begin the Summer holidays, especially as we're both teachers!

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Achtung Commando [3]


Way, way back at the start of 2014 I bought a few packs of Wargames Foundry British Commandos as a Xmas stocking filler, with the intention of using them for Bolt Action. I even found a really nice resin LCA from Grand Manner to go with them. Needless to say, these have been stuck in a small plastic box ever since, although they've been ticking away at the back of my mind.
 
Anyway, to cut a long and very familiar story short, I was up in the loft at the weekend and found a small plastic bag full of Westwind Berlin or Bust commando figures that I'd completely forgotten about. I painted up a section of these about fifteen years ago and they looked pretty good but I sold them on Ebay to a bloke in France, with the leftover figures stashed away to gather dust.
 

If you line them up against the Wargames Foundry figures they're actually a good match, both in terms of sculpting style and size, although the rifle armed figures don't really work. However, I do have enough figures with SMG's, commando knives and pistols plus a couple of bren team to be able to put together a third commando squad alongside the Foundry figures.
 
 
In Bolt Action terms this means that I have enough for a decent small troop rather than just a couple of rifle sections, an HQ and an engineer team, which makes it much more viable as a mini-project. At a push they might even be useable with my 28mm Japanese for 'behind enemy lines' commando raids in the Far East, although this would be fictional rather than historically accurate.

I don't know when or even if  I'll get round to painting them up but at least they're back on the radar. In the meantime, I'm now going to do some test 'speed painting' on the Japanese figures to work out the best approach to take over the summer holidays. The first stage will be to do a soft tone wash and a drybrush with Foundry Base Sand, before blocking out the webbing and equipment.
 

Monday, 20 July 2015

Back of Beyond Expedition Extras [6]



 
I finished off the basing on the Chinese labourers this evening although it all ended up being a bit rushed. I have to matt varnish the figures tomorrow after work before I pack them up and head off to the club for a friendly game against Andy's British Museum Archaeological Expedition.
 
I'm still finding my feet with 28mm painting and have yet to discover the best way to go about it, but this small unit is less than impressive in terms of finish and may well mark the demise at my attempt to paint over a black basecoat. At least they match up with my existing expedition figures.
 
I'm going to have a third attempt at the Army Painter dip method for my 28mm Chain of Command Japanese platoon in the holidays, having had one success with the Bolt Action late war US infantry and one abject failure with the SAGA Normans, so it may be third time lucky?

Frostgrave [1]

 

I gave into temptation (again!) and ordered a copy of Frostgrave last week, using the last of my birthday Amazon tokens left over from January. The rules only cost me £1.65 as a result, so I blew my pocket money on a box of the plastic soldiers that have been released to go with the rules. I've already had a rummage in the loft and found several plastic sprues of GW Bretonnian Archers and a handful of metal Bretonnian brigands, which I had bought years ago for some long forgotten HYW skirmish project. These can be added to the plastic figures and adapted using some of the extra bits on the sprues, to create some interesting additions to the opposing sides.

I haven't found a wizard and apprentice yet, not really wanting to use the 'official' figure sets, but I do have some rather nice monsters and beasties. These include a fantastic multipart Heresy Miniatures snow troll, which I originally acquired for a pulp scenario and which will look superb once assembled, based and painted. I'm thinking of taking the Frostgrave stuff off to France to do this stage, alongside painting up my 28mm Japanese Platoon for Chain of Command. I'm impressed by the rules already, having had a decent read through yesterday afternoon, so I'm looking forward to tackling this unexpected addition to the project 'to do' list over the Summer.

Back of Beyond Expedition Extras [5]



I finished painting the unit of Chinese labourers for the Back of Beyond expedition over the weekend, with a few little details to pick out and the basing to be finished off this evening. I'm a bit rusty when it comes to 28mm painting, so they're a bit rough around the edges and fairly workmanlike, but they'll have to do. I'm not sure painting over a black undercoat is such a good idea for a start. I also ran out of Army Painter spray matt varnish so had to use a combination of Humbrol satin varnish and brushed on matt varnish from a bottle, so they're still a little too shiny.
 
 
I also made a start on the SPAD XIII kit and painted up the pilot figure to fit into the cockpit. I don't think I'll get the model finished for the game but I should be able to complete it by the end of the week, ready for use in the next Back of Beyond encounter. It took a while just to sand off the roundels on the top wing and to fill in the ejector holes on the lower one, so it has been less straightforward than I expected. The rest of the kit should be much quicker to put together, with just the painting left to complicate things.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Back of Beyond Supplement Sale!


If you haven't heard of the Back of Beyond or have been thinking about starting your own army but just haven't got around to it, you may be interested to know that the revised supplement published by Sinister Laboratories is currently on sale at Brigade Games:

http://brigadegames.3dcartstores.com/Back-of-Beyond-Army-Lists-for-Central-Asia-1919-26_p_2830.html

The army lists and campaign system are perfectly good for any set of skirmish level rules and would work very well with Bolt Action, for example, so if Contemptible Little Armies isn't your cup of tea, no problem. The Osprey interwar rules, A World Aflame, would be a good place to start.

They would also work with 15mm figures rather than 28mm, which would keep the cost of starting a couple of armies down to a minimum. Peter Pig, Miniature Figurines and QRF all do ranges that would provide most of what you need, especially if you mixed and matched a bit.

So, if you fancy some central Asian platoon level skirmising in the Back of Beyond, with armoured trains, interwar tanks, Mongolian irregular cavalry, Chinese Warlord 'dare to die' infantry, armoured car flying columns and Bolshevik shock troops, now's your chance!

Friday, 17 July 2015

Back of Beyond Expedition Extras [4]


A few years ago I ran a series of campaigns in the Back of Beyond at the local club, the last of which involved six different factions in a race to Kashgar across the desert. To add some background to the campaign I wrote up a briefing for each the player including their mission objectives and how they should deal with their rivals when they encountered them. These were designed to help them get into the campaign and to add a bit of  basic 'role-playing', which is very much part of the rules.

This also involved the use of special characters, which feature in the Back of Beyond supplement but don't usually make an appearance in club games. These include a variety of useful individuals including arms dealers, big game hunters, secret agents and revolutionary rabble rousers to name but a few. It was easy to match these up with the corresponding factions but I didn't have a character to support my own force, the Texaco wildcat oil prospectors, which I had based on the Dinosaur Hunter list.

To remedy this, I came up with a new special character, Eddie 'The Eagle' Eagelberger:

You are also able to hire the services of an ex-WW1 fighter ace, Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Eagelberger who has been touring the region with his barnstorming flying circus having fallen on hard times. He is an outstanding pilot and a specialist in aerial dogfighting, having shot down twenty three opponents single handed over the Western Front.

If accompanied by Eagelberger, your force can field an additional aircraft. This may be used for ground attack using the procedure described in the Contemptible Little Armies rulebook. However, due to Eagelberger’s razor Sharp eyesight, there is no risk of mistaken identification of friendly units if he flies within 6 inches of them.
In addition, Eagelberger will chase off and shoot down any aircraft deployed by the enemy. This means that neither aircraft will take part in the battle as they are assumed to be chasing each other in a dogfight high above the ground. Any aircraft that is fielded by your side in addition to Eagelberger’s aircraft will be able to continue its mission as normal.


Unfortunately, I didn't get round to using 'The Eagle' in the campaign, as I failed to roll the dice high enough and didn't get around to making a second 1/48th scale plane, not that one was actually required. Now, however, I have the time to glue one together and paint it up, so a quick rummage in the loft for a suitable kit was required. The best model I could find was a very basic but entirely suitable Testors SPAD XIII fighter kit.


This is a very old and very simple kit which was originally produced by Aurora way back in the early 1960's. It is pretty rugged and should be very straightfoward to build, having only a couple of dozen parts in total. I have a Copplestone pilot to glue into the cockpit and will do a bit of basic detailing but, otherwise, it shouldn't be difficult to complete over the weekend ready for the game on Tuesday, if I can find the time. All I need now are some politically incorrect insignia!
  

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Back of Beyond Expedition Extras [3]

:O(
Well that didn't go quite as well as I hoped. The armoured guntruck scratchbuilding ended up in a bit of a creative cul de sac yesterday, with the end result just not looking quite right. I've decided instead to paint up just the gun and crew to stick into the back of one of my existing unarmoured trucks, using a drop-in flatbed so that I can use it as just a machine gun armed vehicle as well. I'm also looking to add a second Texaco tanker model to use as a baggage element, so all is not lost.
 
 :O)
I've have done most of the basecoating on the Chinese labourer figures though, using a wide range of drab or dusty shades rather than lots of colour. These will get a further two layers and a highlight to finish them off over the weekend. I also have a unit of twelve Japanese infantry complete with a sword wielding officer and an attached machine gun to complete. I may swap them over with the White Russian mercenary troops that normally accompany my expedition team for the next game.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Back of Beyond Expedition Extras [2]

What do you get if you cross this:


...with this?:


I'm not entirely sure but I'm about to give it a go, using some plastic card and strip to turn the Mack AC lorry into a 37mm Puteaux M1916 equipped (un)armoured gun truck for my Back of Beyond expedition. The lorry is a Days Gone By diecast which I had left over after converting the others into machine gun carriers and improvised armoured vehicles, while the gun is a Pulp Miniatures model from the deck gun pack.

This isn't one of the options in the Dinosaur Hunter army list but, as my expedition is a rufty tufty, tooled up Texan oil exploration team, I'm fairly sure they could have easily 'found' a second hand infantry gun, perhaps from a freindly Chinese Warlord's arsenal or armoured train and fitted it to one of their machine gun armed heavy trucks, just in case? It will certainly add some much needed anti-tank firepower in place of a 'proper' armoured car like my Garford Putilov.

The Puteaux 37mm has a range of 40'' against infantry targets and 24'' against vehicles, so it will be limited in range but effective as stand off support against soft targets. I'm working on a points cost of fifty for the vehicle and an extra forty for the gun, which seems a reasonable calculation given the restricted range? I'm going to get this assembled this evening so will post some pictures of the end result once it's glued together and undercoated.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Monday, 13 July 2015

Victorian Steel

 
I followed a link on TMP to this set of big battle colonial rules this morning and liked what I found a lot. This is a ruleset designed specifically for colonial wargaming and includes just about everything you would need for the period. I have a 15mm Mahdist army that I set up for Patrols in the Sudan, which is a great set of rules but very much a company level skirmish style game, so this set of rules would be a good way to scale up to brigade sized games. It also ticks the wargame campaigns box!
 
 
The rules are designed around square stands of 2 to 6 figures, each of which represents a company, with eight of so companies forming a brigade. I have enough 15mm dervish to put together several brigades, although I do need to finish off the highlighting and detailing, which I could add to the list of things to do over the summer. I don't have any Anglo-Egyptian forces yet but there's plenty of 15mm figures in the leadpile that will double up for PITS.
 
You can read more about the rules here:
 
 
One of the nice things about the rules is that a proportion of the cover price goes to the Combat Stress appeal, so it's a bit of a no-brainer all round. The rules also include two 28mm flag sheets, although what they are isn't specified, but I guess they are probably for the Sudan. I don't have plans to do anything in 28mm for this but I do have some 28mm plastic Zulus that would be a great way to branch out into larger scales.
 
 
I think I'll order a set of the rules instead of the Frostgrave option, as it would make more sense to make use of my existng 15mm armies rather than starting something completely new. If they arrive before the end of term I can work out what I need to do to either finish off the 15mm Mahdist or to assemble the 28mm Zulus. I've always had a soft spot for colonial gaming so this looks like a really exciting ruleset and a very effective way to get an existing project finished off.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Chain of Command Japanese Platoon [15]


This seems to be dragging on for ages but I have actually, really finished the assembly, basing and undercoating stage of this long in the tooth project. I've actually really enjoyed it thus far, although I did need a bit of a break from gluing together the plastic infantry about half way through, but that's all done and dusted now. Today, I put together the two resin Type 97 Chi Ha tank kits from Warlord Games to finish the armoured support options for the platoon.


These are nicely detailed models but the semi-circular bendy turret aerials proved to be a right pain in the bum and I glued one of the turret hatches on the wrong way round, not that you'd really notice. They've now been based and spray undercoated in Humbrol Grass Green, ready for some funky camouflage and lots of washing and weathering. I'm taking a short break (again) from the Japanese project now, to focus on a couple of extra units for the Back of Beyond that have been hanging around waiting to be finished off for years.

Frostgrave?


I must say that I hadn't really been particularly interested in this new skirmish dungeon crawl game from Osprey but, having read the relevant article in Wargames Illustrated, I'm giving it some thought. I have a bit of a dodgy track record with this sort of thing, having failed miserably to get Ronin past the initial stages, but Frostgrave does look like a feasible project. 

First up, it only requires a handful of 'medieval' and fantasy figures so there's some potential in raiding the leadpile and ebay for suitable models. Secondly, you can have some nice character figures for your wizard and apprentice, with EM4 looking like a good source of Copplestone sculpted cheaper alternatives to the official Northstar range. 

Thirdly, the monsters and undead can be scrounged from wherever, keeping the cost factor down to a minimum, while the plastic box set of soldiers will be more than sufficient to equip two parties. Finally, the terrain set up is really simple and fits on a 3' x 3' board, so would be easy to scratch build and would look very cool.

Hmmmm.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Hallowed Ground


I found this very short but very interesting book in the Oxfam second hand bookshop today. It's signed by the famous author too, which is a nice bonus, especially as it only cost me £3.99. If I ever visit Gettysburg at least now I'll have some idea what I'm looking at! It also has me thinking about Longstreet again, which is probably not a good idea.

Back of Beyond Battlefield

Mongolian Steppe

At the club we have a very yellow sheet of heavy duty cloth that we use for games in the Back of Beyond. It's not bad visually but isn't really the right sort of terrain for the region, which is more dusty steppe grassland than proper sandy desert. It also does funny things to your photos, giving everything a weird alien glow.

See what I mean?

With this in mind and with a game set for a week on Tuesday, I thought I'd have a go at modifying a spare Citadel grass mat into a steppe battlefield. Now, I'd love to be able to afford a sixty quid cloth from Cigar Box Battle Mats but this would be way beyond my pocket money, so I'll be using what I've already got in the terrain box instead.

£60.....ouch!!

I have three of the old Citadel grass mats, so I can afford to muck about with at least one of them using spray paint, dry brushing and even some household cleaning products, to create an alternative arid steppe meets the wild west style battlefield cloth. If it works, the other spare mat may well be adapted to create a winter wasteland mat, complete with muddy patches of ice and snow.

It may well end in a complete mess...but it should be fun to have a go!