Saturday, 19 August 2017

African huts and cooking pots for Congo

While some of us from the club were at the IPMS show up at Thornbury last Sunday, we bought some resin models from Wargames Terrain Workshop's stand. I'd already bought some graveyard items from them but these were a club purchase to be used in African-themed games, Studio Tomahawk's Congo in particular. There is a growing amount of interest in this game at the club, I've even bought the rules and some minis myself. They aren't painted at the moment, just undercoated, so they aren't going to feature here for a while yet.

Anyway, I volunteered to paint the stuff we bought for Congo and here they are;

There is one large hut (described as a Chieftain's hut) and two smaller ones (presumably for hoi polloi) and five scenic items for scattering around the village. There is a nice cooking fire and four other sets of pots of varying sizes. I've included a 28mm figure in the photo so you can see the size of the models.

I can report that these are excellent models, no bits of flash or bubbly or pitted surfaces and they paint up really easily. The huts are hollow, to reduce weight, which is nice. These models took me around four hours to paint, in total. They were undercoated in Army Painter Desert Yellow and the colours were built up on the straw parts of the huts with progressive drybrushing in suitably bleached-looking dried straw-like shades, given a wash with Windsor and Newton nut brown ink and then given a final drybrushing with Vallejo Beige paint. I used a similar palette of colours for the scenic bits and bobs, with the addition of Vallejo Red Leather on the pots (I also used this for the mud walls of the chieftain's hut). The mud walls were inked with W&N Deep Red ink and the pots had a wash of W&N Sunshine Yellow ink. Finally, they were varnished with Army Painter matt spray varnish.

I have to say that I am pretty pleased with the way that they have turned out. It'll be good to see them on the table in the not too distant future.

Monday, 7 August 2017

An Encounter With The Unknown - an Alien Squad Leader AAR

This AAR represents the first outing for my newly-rebased Corporate Mercenary Army. Their opponents were Richard's enigmatic Alien Greys.

Third Level Clan Commander Utor Varanis had been an employee of the Kagemusha Corporation for a decade or more, following his discharge from the New Venus Defence Force. His military career had been solid if unspectacular, but brought to an ignominious end when his illegal financial trading had been exposed by the planetary government's Inquisitors. Fortunately, most of his ill-gotten gains were invested in an anonymous off-planet account with the Kagemusha Bank. Some of the money was invested in a profitable arms dealing enterprise and the rest was used to buy a stakehold in the Kagemusha Corporation's private army, the Kagemusha Security Force. Since then, his career had been one of endless small small conflicts, security actions and punitive expeditions for the kind of customers who were prepared to buy discreet K-Force muscle from K Corp with no questions asked. This latest contract was no different from many others; a security detail on an arid satellite of a gas giant, defending huge automated mining installations from pirates. Nine weeks in both he and his troops were bored, listlessly counting down the days until they were rotated out to be replaced by a fresh company.

Now, in the hours before sunrise, the alarms were going mental across the control centre and the long range sensors were down. Across base, troopers were scrambling and taking up defensive positions. Whatever it was, it was something that 3L Varanis had never seen before. Hurredly, he deployed his troops in a line either side of a road that led from his base to the nearest mining installation, which, if his displays could be believed, was offline and powered down, as was the entire network of orbital spy satellites. In the dim early morning light, he could see something approaching.

Varanis deployed hover AFVs on both flanks, on the left secure behind a toxic slurry canal. He pushed Techno Ninja stealth troops in a ruined settlement and in some scrubland way out on his right, supported by robotic Cyborg Guardian troops.

Before long, the enemy could be seen advancing. These were robotic troops of an unknown type. Almost immediately, their energy beams destroyed the AFV on the K-Force left, leaving the infantry there out in the open and at risk of destruction.

The unknown robots took cover in a rocky outcrop where they were difficult to locate and attack.

Varanis occupied the settlement, deploying a heavy weapons team to try and take out the robots.

On the right, K-Force units occupied heavy cover in a deserted mine.

 For hours, little happened. The robotic troops bombarded the settlement without much effect and K-Force responded with an equal lack of success. Varanis began to feel that he had a firm control of the situation, despite attacks from floating weapons platforms that appeared, fired and vanished again. Suddenly, alien troops appeared over a low hill. Varanis ordered his elite Ninjas to attack.

Inexplicably, these masters of combat were defeated and eliminated by the aliens. First they lost their initial assault (due to an appalling dice roll) and were then crippled by a Paralysis attack which meant they were wiped out without being able to respond.

As the sun rose over the horizon, Varanis sent in the Cyborg Guardians, but despite causing some damage, these were taken over by a Mind Of The Machine attack and forced out into the open where they were picked off by heavy weapons fire. Elsewhere, the threat from alien Flyers forced Varanis to deploy many of his troops on Overwatch, as casualties began to mount from long-range heavy energy beam fire. The heavy weapons team in the settlement was one such loss, one that would prove crucial.

The alien robots, supported by floating heavy weapons platforms were proving to be almost impossible to dislodge. They were too far away to assault and with few heavy weapons, almost immune to his Ashigaru infantry's small arms.

In desperation, Varanis ordered his remaining AFV to attack the robots.

Finally, the primary weapon on the AFV scored a hit and severely damaged one of the alien robots.

This success was short-lived as withering heavy fire destroyed the remaining K-Force heavy weapons team and damaged the AFV.

However, before long, the damaged robot exploded from prolonged suppressive fire from the beleaguered K-Force troops.

The constant airborne threat kept K-Force from doing anything except cowering in cover and anxiously scouring the skies. Inevitably, a Flyer got through and destroyed the remaining AFV. 

At this point, Varanis realised that his gamble had failed and his remaining troops were sitting ducks. He ordered a general withdrawal. As his battered fighters emerged from their improvised defences in the ruins, Third Level Clan Commander Utor Varanis contemplated his future. Demotion to Second Level Clan Commander seemed inevitable and he fully expected that there would be large financial penalties to pay as well. He would be lucky to avoid the disgrace of being sent to command a Kagemusha Corporation Debtor Re-education Facility.

So, an interesting game. The loss of an AFV early on meant that my army lacked long-rage firepower and was unable to get anywhere near the enemy to launch any assaults on the weak Grey infantry. My forces were bottled up in defensive positions that soon became death traps. The Alien Greys are an odd force in many ways but the sheer number of heavy weapons they can deploy means that they can stand off and destroy their opponents one at a time.

Still, plenty of food for thought. I still like the Corporate Mercenary army, but they do seem to need more long-range punch. Also, Flyers.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Rebasing a Sci Fi army

Last year, I posted about my GZG sci fi armies that I was planning to use for Quadrant 13 games. Here is the piece I wrote about my Corporate Ashigaru army.

Anyway, no one at my club plays Q13 so this army, which I like a lot has been languishing away in a drawer, not being used. However, in the new version (so far unreleased) of Alien Squad Leader, written by the club's very own Alex Self, there is a new army list for "Far Eastern Corporate Mercenaries". "Bingo!" I thought. "Perhaps I can reuse my figures."

Of course, this meant a rebasing exercise, which I've been avoiding because it seemed like a lot of hassle. So far, so much Nothing Much Happening. Until now. 

Having been away on holiday, I didn't have any plans for games for the next few weeks but on Sunday, I arranged to play ASQL next Sunday. My original thought was to use my Human Imperial army again, a force I very much like, but the idea light bulb flickered into life and whispered "What about a Corporate Mercenary force?" in my ear. "After all, you've got the figures."

I couldn't see any compelling reason why not to do it, so I've been setting about the troops with a Stanley knife and deploying the Bostik, PVA glue, 5cm MDF bases from Warbases and the right basing material (crushed limestone grit designed for reptile tanks) and flock and getting an army ready to deploy on the table.

And here are the results. First are eight elements of Corporate Ashigaru (including two command stands). These are basic infantry compulsory choices.

Next are two Ashigaru Support elements with heavy weapons and two stands of Cyborg Guardians, who are classed as Robotic Infantry. I still have a couple of heavy weapons to be rebased at some point.

Next up are two Ground Attack Craft. I've decided that these GZG drones fit the bill perfectly.

Now four stands of Ninjas, elite infiltration infantry.

Next, some overkill. A total of seven stands of Samurai Stormtroopers wearing power armour. In the first picture they are acting as bodyguards for the Clan Commander character stand, and in the second one, they are led by a Sword Master power armoured character.

And finally, some vehicles; three Teishin APCs and two Teishin APCs. Note that these models are hover vehicles, designated as Air-lifted Vehicles in the rules. This means that they have a reduced saving throw but they have other advantages, including the ability to cross certain types of terrain and rivers without penalty and they can also make pop-up attacks.

Of course, I have far too many elements for a 150pt game, even for a 200pt one, especially when in comes to power-armoured Samurai Stormtroopers, but has that ever stopped a wargamer before? I had a lot of power-armoured troops and I was reluctant to leave then in the drawer. What really makes me happy is that I can finally get to use these troops, the techno Ninjas in particular (they count as "stealthy" in the new ASQL rules) because they are terrific little figures. Well done Ground Zero Games for producing such excellent miniatures!

All I have to do now is stick some magnetic sheeting to the bases and I'll be ready to take on any opposition on the tabletop. There are a couple of other troop types in the army list, so I will definitely be doing some shopping at some future date to give me more options.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

And the Hyborian Barbarians are finished!

I devoted a fair amount of concentrated time getting the last of my HOTT Hyborian Barbarians finished before I depart for foreign climes at the end of the week. There were three groups of elements to complete. First, three groups of Shooters with bows;

Next four Warbands, comprised of warriors with axes or swords and shields, but without any body armour at all (some of the Blades wear mail shirts). I see these as younger fighters, eager to prove themselves in battle;

And finally, four Hordes of primitive and savage cave dwellers, armed with stone weapons, tattooed in arcane designs and led by shamans and priestesses of the Elder Gods;

I am really pleased with this army. I think that it really does justice to Robert E. Howard's invented Hyborian Age. The figures really fit the concept perfectly. The miniatures, from Copplestone Castings Barbarica Fantasy range are really excellent and the detail on them is amazing, lovely and crisp and with a lot of definition. This makes the minis a delight to paint and they take ink well to bring out the details perfectly. I love ink as a finish to my minis. My preference is for Windsor and Newton Peat Brown drawing ink.

The minis are on the larger side of 15mm, chunkier than Essex and considerably bigger than Peter Pig or Magister Militum, but I don't think that is a bad thing at all. Not only does it make them easier to detail, it also makes them look like a really dangerous and powerful-looking force. Of course, whether that translates to success on the table all depends on the luck of the dice and whether I get the tactics right.

So, holiday time now. When I get back I'll really have to finish off all the stuff I've got either prepped on sticks or in various stages of undercoated and initial blocks of colour.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Revealed - my latest project ...............

...........And it is Hyborian Age barbarians, for Hordes Of The Things. Once again, my aim is to build a big enough army to be able to field a 48AP army if I get the chance. Also, I really love the miniatures, which are from the Copplestone Castings 15mm "Barbarica Fantasy" range.

While I was waiting for the figures to arrive, I wrote up some ideas about what a Hyborian Age barbarian army might be like, and how one might arise. Here are my thoughts;

Many of the barbarian tribes of the Hyborian Age still worship the eldritch Elder Gods in their fastnesses on the fringes of the civilised nations. They live for battle, for plunder, for glory and to be named in the songs of the tribes. Great barbarian leaders are remembered for many years and the stories of their deeds are recited and retold around the fires of the tribes long after their deaths. Many of the great leaders of the past are celebrated as almost divine figures.

The armies of the barbaric tribes consist mainly of warbands of brutal fighters armed with swords, axes and warhammers, supported by smaller numbers of warrior elites who usually fight on foot, supported by fighters mounted on the hardy horses of the steppes and plains. These armies also contain a number of skilled hunters, often younger warriors, who fight with the bow, hordes of primitive tattooed tribesmen who use stone clubs and spears, priests and priestesses of the gods, male and female shamans and mighty heroes, some riding barely-tamed savage beasts.

Barbarian armies rarely stay together for long periods, though. Their aim is plunder and pillage and warbands often have a falling out once they have sacked a few settlements or towns, generally returning to their villages with their spoils after trading insults and blows. It takes heroic leaders of great physical presence, personal renown and great charisma to keep a large force in the field long enough to defeat the armies of the kingdoms, but from time to time such a leader emerges, the warbands and tribes unite and an unstoppable tide of bloodthirsty killers descends upon civilisation, leaving death, destruction and red ruin in its wake. Occasionally, huge barbarian confederations can overrun entire provinces, sack great cities and even topple thrones. Some barbarian leaders have even found themselves ruling lands which their hordes have seized after defeating all the armies sent against them. It is rare, though for a barbarian king to found a dynasty and therefore perpetuate barbarian rule over a whole kingdom for several generations, but it has happened more than once.

So, on to the figures. First, here are a dozen mighty warriors representing the Blades component of my army. Because of the size of these minis, I have only put three on each base.

Here they are in two separate groups. I am really impressed with the quality of these castings.

Next, I have some mounted troops, based up in threes, who will all be classed as Riders.

I also have enough miniatures prepped ready for painting to give me four elements of Warbands, three of Shooters (bowmen) and four Hordes. I am hoping to get these finished before I go on holiday at the end of next week.

Of course, any army needs to include some characters, and this one is no exception. So here are three mounted Heroes. These were the figures that first attracted me to this range. I think that they are superb. Of course, I can't envisage including all three in a single 24AP army, but they really are irresistible.

Next, here is a giant, who will be my barbarian Behemoth. This miniature is about 60mm tall, so he'll really stand out on the battlefield.

And finally, I have a Magician, OK, two Magicians on one base;

And a pair of savage priestesses of the Elder Gods, who will be used as a Cleric;

As I have mentioned the Elder Gods, the statue on my Stronghold (see my previous post ) is removable, so it can be fielded as a God if I so desire.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Guess the next project

Here are a few photos of the start of my next project. Any guesses what it might be?

The terrain is made from blue dense polystyrene foam, mounted on 2mm MDF and the removable resin statue (from Copplestone Castings) is approximately 4.5cm tall. The statue is clearly of some kind of Lovecraftian Elder God.

The stone alignments are also made from blue foam. I cut into the foam to get the effect of stratified layers and cave entrances and also cut out the rough steps up to the main plateau. This was given a sparse layer of fine railway ballast and spray-painted in varying shades. The grey spray actually began to eat into the foam, but the effect of this looked pretty good, creating a weathered and aged effect. I then painted everything with washes of Vallejo acrylics, drybrushing to bring up the details and then flocked the rocky outcrop in a number of places.

I think that this looks pretty cool.

Monday, 26 June 2017

A return to Alien Squad Leader

Having not played Alien Squad Leader for a while, yesterday was a chance to get the Human Imperial Army out again for a 200pt game against Richard's Alien Predatory Warhost.

The scenario was a Pitched Battle. Here is some background.

The Third Human Condominium has been fighting against the Canid Predators who had appeared in the sparsely populated but mineral rich Bowza system for several months, and the conflict had recently arrived on Bowza IV, a dry and inhospitable mining world. 

Following the fighting on Themis III, Brigadier Natasha Franklin and her strikeforce had been augmented by the addition of a number of units of Class C Line Droids. These robotic infantry units would better able to withstand the parched heat of Bowza IV, which is where Brig. Franklin's troops had been posted. Their role was to act as an advance force on the left flank of the main 3HC army on the planet. Elsewhere, combat had been heavy and both sides were currently regrouping, but Marshal Otto von Bizmüth, the 3HC planetary grand commander saw the broken territory to the north west of his lines as a possible line of advance. Franklin's troops were sent to explore. Before long, her scouts brought back reports of an advancing Canid battle host. The 3HC commander halted her force and constructed a hasty defensive line.

She had a weak right flank. This was a deliberate ploy, the idea being that the hated Xenos would concentrate their attacks here.

In the centre was a heavy Vanquisher Class Battle Mech. Before long, this would be reinforced by a couple of units of Line Droids.

The 3HC left wing contained the armoured threat of the fearsome Goliath MBTs. A stealth-equipped sniper was also deployed on this flank.

The lighter droids would act as a screen for the heavier giant Mech.

Stormtrooper infantry soon deployed along a low hill to protect Brig. Franklin's ACV.

The hated Canid barbarians began to swarm around the low hills in front of the 3HC right flank.

An artillery bombardment from orbital gun platforms soon caused the Canid centre to take casualties, pinning them in the cover of a rocky outcrop.

Unfortunately, the Canid tanks soon began to find their range and targeted the smaller droids, causing casualties. The giant Battle Mech was immune to their puny fire.

With no enemies visible on the 3HC left, the troops there remained on Overwatch, while the Xeno beasts advanced across the plateau in front of the 3HC right.

Their troops charged into combat with the 3HC light AFVs, and massed fire took out the Stormtrooper commander on this flank. This could have been a major blow, but Brig. Franklin's command range was still able to control her forces here.

The giant Vanquisher poured bolts of fire onto the Canid tanks, stopping them from advancing.

Aware that there was something in front of the 3HC left, but unable to see it, the Goliath MBT's swept around from the left, one advancing behind the Canid lines and destroying a tank, and the other swinging around behind the 3HC defensive positions to bring its guns to bear on the Canid foot troops.

It was clear that hand to hand assaults were the most successful Xeno tactic and the weak 3HC right was finally eliminated, with the emphasis switching to the central area dominated by the combat droids.

This area would soon become the make or break part of the battlefield.

Realising that the rocks on her left had been infiltrated by stealth Canids,  Brig. Franklin left sufficient troops on overwatch to counter any threat from this quarter. More and more indirect fire was called down from above, destroying the Canid centre and causing a mounting casualty list.

Eventually the aliens tried to break out from their hiding place but Stormtrooper fire, supported by the stealth Sniper soon defeated this threat, while the central battle raged on, with the giant Battle Mech finally being overwhelmed by the feral Xeno hordes.

However, this was still not enough to tilt the balance against the gallant Human troops, whose core forces remained relatively intact. Things looked hopeless for the aliens, who were forced to concede the day.

OK, so I won. Terrific, except that it was only after the battle that we realised that according to strict tournament rules. Rich had actually eliminated half of my elements in the final round, just before I eliminated 50% of his. However, it was obvious that with no armour he was unlikely to actually defeat my army, particularly as he had few stands of troops who were not carrying hits. So, therefore a moral victory to me. This was an excellent game, with my overwatch tactics effectively neutralising his infiltrated units, and vice versa. The thing that really swung the balance was the power of the Human indirect artillery barrages, coupled with the long range threat from my MBTs and the Battle Mech.