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Wednesday, 13 July 2011

First game of Force on Force

Well last night Colin and I were taken through the basic infantry mechanics for the first time by Si . Wow! A lot to take in but what an elegant system?

We chose to meet up at the Gaming Club which meets every Tuesday evening at the Swan Inn at the bottom of Aylestone Hill in Hereford. Most of the guys play WH or WH40K, but there was a small game of AK47 going on too.
Look at those buildings! I want some.......
We didn't fight a scenario as such. We just pitted 2 USMC (D8) Fireteams against 3 low grade (D6) Iraqi sections. This allowed us to learn the firing system, how to intervene and the Overwatch option.

We can see how powerful Overwatch can be if used wisely and also how even D6 infantry can get the better of Hi-Tech Marines if they've got as unlucky a dice thrower as me!

The figures used were my recently finished Peter Pig Minis and the terrain all Si's - a mixture of Battlefront's "Battlefield in a box" Resin casts and his own scratch built buildings built from foam board and thin ply. I think his buildings were some of the cleverest I've seen - each floor could be lifted off to allow figure access and being built on long strips meant they could be laid out to quickly form a street grid on the sand coloured cloth base.

A good night was had......I'm convinced now that FoF is a game worth investing in and will be getting myself some more stuff soon.

Next time we meet up, Si's going to introduce us to Crossfire WW2 in 15mm. I've owned the rules for years but never read them thoroughly or played them before. Looks like I'd better get a move on......

Sunday, 10 July 2011

15mm Generic Middle Eastern Infantry by Peter Pig for Force on Force

At the same time I ordered my USMC Minis from Peter Pig, I chose five packs from their AK47 range to start off my generic Middle Eastern forces. I say generic, because I haven't made any effort to brand these figures as any particular army - a bit like their manufacturer has done.

I figured that these minis could pass for Iraqi, Iranian, Syrian, Libyan, Cuban or any Soviet supplied Middle Eastern Army dependent on the scenario being played.

I have to be honest here, I have a bit of a mental block when it comes to wargaming current conflicts involving UK Forces (i.e. Afghanistan) and I am much happier re-fighting historical actions from 10 years+ ago or imaginary "what if" scenarios.

To this end, these figures were going to get a simple (i.e. quick) finish. Before I started it's always good to spend five minutes contemplating what you want your finished figures to look like and the strategy you'll apply to get them there. By this I mean deciding what colours to use and in what order to apply them. As I go through the stages you'll see what I mean.
First job was basing the figures on Warbases mdf 15mm dia disks. These were once again, textured with Vallejo Grey Pumice before priming White. When dry they received two sprayed coats of Vallejo Model Air Light Green. OK this might look a bit bright, but I believe smaller figures (i.e.15mm or smaller) should be painted in lighter shades to simulate how colours appear at distances.
Ultimately these figures are going to get an all over coating of Vallejo Sepia Wash. So as part of the planning ahead I spoke of earlier, the next steps were to paint the webbing (Brown), the boots (Red Brown), the faces and hands (Flesh) and the helmets and bases (Tan Yellow) as all these will be shaded with the Sepia Wash.
The wash was sprayed on and allowed to dry. It settles nicely into the well sculpted folds on the Peter Pig minis and darkens the green to a more military shade.
Once fully dry the complete figure was dry brushed with Vallejo Buff to pick out all the high-lights.

Now the finishing details can be added. The weapons picked out in Black and their woodwork in Bestial Brown and once dry, a dry-brush of Buff. Some of the figures had Shemags picked out in White and some "Elite" forces had their berets painted Maroon (a very popular colour for SF Headwear the world over!!).
Finally, the edges of the bases were tidied up with some Tan Yellow, before the figures received two coats of varnish. Once they'd fully dried a little static grass was added to the base and after a self-adhesive magnetic disk was fixed underneath.
The finished minis are now stored in another Really Useful Pencil Box with metallised sheet attached to the bottom.

All-in-all not bad for three evening's work. Now to get on and read through those rules!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

15mm USMC by Peter Pig for Force on Force

As you'll probably have gathered, I purchased a few figures to go with my IrishSerb Humvees, from Peter Pig.
They arrived in the best packaging I've yet seen from a figure manufacturer. They were packed in a really sturdy long, slim box (like a pencil case) that completely protected the minis and had the advantage of fitting through our letter box.

Why do I get excited about this? Well living in the sticks and both my Wife and I working all day, means that many parcels don't get delivered and we end up having to make a 15 mile round trip to Hereford Post Depot to collect them!
I'd ordered 40 USMC figures and 40 assorted Arabic type figures. The quality of casting was as good as ever and the figures needed only the bases filed flat before they were ready to attach to Warbases 15mm dia circular mdf bases.
The bases were then textured with Vallejo Grey Pumice and left overnight to dry, before undercoating them with Matt White Primer the next day.
I planned to tackle these figures as quickly as possible, whilst still trying to attain a decent finish. The first step was to spray them with two coats of Vallejo Model Air Sand. (You probably guessed that I did this at the same time I sprayed my Humvees!) This base coat will be the only colour I apply to the uniforms - no attempt will be made to try and paint the new digital camouflage patterns. Why? well if you look at stills of USMC personnel in Afghanistan etc. that are in the middle distance (i.e.100m+ away from the photographer) you cannot make out the camo pattern on their clothing.....everything looks like one single drab colour.

Therefore why stress yourself out trying to paint it? The scale of the figures (1/100th) means that when you're stood 1m away from the table, you're getting the same view you would of a 180cm tall man stood 100m away.

You'll see that I've split the figures into 9 man Rifle squads and attached them, with Blutac, to plastic strips to make it easier to handle them while painting.
Next step pick out the load bearing equipment (Body Armour and all) together with the boots in Vallejo English Uniform. When dry the bases were painted Vallejo Tan Yellow.
Then the figures were sprayed Vallejo Sepia Wash. Peter Pig figures are so well sculpted the wash flows beautifully into all the creases and crevices giving a well worn appearance.
When dry, a generous drybrushing of Vallejo Buff to both figures and bases to catch the high-lights. I'm experimenting with a GW Medium Drybrushing brush - which I have to say does seem to do the job rather well. Up until now I always used cheap art shop brushes for the purpose.
Time now to start the finishing touches. First a little sky blue applied to the goggles lenses on the helmets.
Then the Goggles themselves were picked out in Vallejo English Uniform. Faces and hands were painted flesh* with a flesh wash to follow, when dry. Finally the weapons were painted black followed by a drybrush of Dark Grey. Job Done!

*Now I didn't think about it at the time, but researching on Wikipedia, I now realise that 18% of USMC personnel are of Afro-American decent. So really I should have painted 8 or so figures as such. This I will do retrospectively.

Finally two coats of varnish sees the minis completed. I glued a tuft or two of flock on each base just to represent a bit of foliage and break up the rather drab overall impression.

I decided to attach magnetic bases to the figures so the could be stored in a Really Useful Box pencil case, to allow ease of transport whilst offering maximum protection.
Box stood on it's side and no figures fall out - magic!
I bought the self-adhesive magnetic disks (15mm dia) from the Magnetic Displays stand at WMMS ready for just such a project, together with sheets of self-adhesive metallised rubber sheet for them to adhere to.

The disks stick well to the mdf bases but are slightly too big (or the bases are too small - not sure which??!!) so had to be trimmed to size.
The bottom of the box was lined with metallised rubber and the figures cling to it like glue. It's a bit of extra work but gives a good storage solution. In case you're wondering, the Humvees have magnetised sheet attached to their bases too.

Well I'm really pleased with the finish of these, and also how quick they were to complete. Four evenings saw the 40 figures completed and in the box.

Right, now it's time to get on with my Arab figures......

Friday, 1 July 2011

IrishSerb's 1/100 Armoured Humvee's

I decided for my first foray into 15mm Moderns I'd just get a few Humvees to start off with. As I thought I'd probably have a go at Iraq or maybe Afghanistan, I'd need armoured Humvees, so I started to search the Interweb.
Armoured Humvee with protective turret mounting 40mm Grenade Launcher
I found that QRF, Old Glory and Peter Pig all supplied Humvees (albeit un-armoured) in the UK from between £4.50 and £5.50 per unit. Then I took a look at each on-line using other people's blogs (Bless them!)
QRF's offering did not appear to be one of their best sculptings, needing lots of cleaning up, but is open not a solid casting.
Old Glory's examples looked OK, but I dislike their insistence on selling everything they supply in numbers higher than you really want!
Peter Pigs's examples looked good. They were of the solid casting variety, but had interchangeable gunner/gunmount castings to increase flexibility. I was on the verge of ordering these when I stumbled on the IrishSerb's website.

Brian (the IrishSerb) is a wargamer who's putting a bit back into the hobby. He too wanted armoured Humvees, found no-one made them and rather than compromise he made his own master and cast them in resin. Now he offers these and a variety of other useful modern vehicles via his website at VERY reasonable prices - even when mailed to the UK.
The models arrived, very well packed, just 5 days after Brian sent them. Each vehicle in it's own bag with an additional bag of spare parts just in case anything got broken. He takes PayPal making payment simplicity itself - 3 models delivered from the USA for less than £12!
Each model is just 7 parts;- Hull, 4xwheels, turret & armament. I built up each hull quickly (no real cleaning up required) but left off the wheels to paint them separately. The completed hulls and separate wheels were then all sprayed in white primer. The turret looks like it can accommodate a 3/4 figure and can also be left to traverse freely if desired. I fixed mine in place and as I haven't any suitable crew figures, I left the turret empty for now.
Next the hulls and wheels were sprayed in Vallejo Model Air Sand - two coats required to cover adequately.
The wheels were washed with Vallejo Sepia and the tyres painted Dark Grey. When dry the whole wheel was drybrushed with white. The wheels were held on a plastic strip with blutac for ease whilst they were being painted.
As the castings are of the solid variety, I picked out the areas of glass in matt black.
The hulls were then sprayed with Vallejo Sepia Wash. Once this dried the hull was drybrushed in Vallejo Buff with a fairly loaded brush. Areas around doors, hatches etc were picked out with GW Sepia wash (more orangy than Vallejo) and finally the hull edges were dry brushed white.
Final stages to finish off were the attachment of the wheels and painting the main armament. Fixing the wheels is simplicity itself - Brian has thoughtfully left a flat surface (where the struts and springs would be) with an overhang at the top to which the flat rear surface of the wheel is glued - this ensures each wheel is centred in the arch and at the correct depth from the top of the arch so the finished vehicle sits square.
The three vehicles - each with a different main armament - with Peter Pig USMC for scale.
The headlights and indicators where picked out and the underside painted Black.
To complete these vehicles I will probably mount them on mdf bases to protect them and add a gunner figure, in time. I guess you could go to town and add aerials, bullbars and wing mirrors etc, but I'm happy with the way they look now. They're intended to represent an armoured Humvee on the table and they do that admirably.

In Conclusion.
  • Price!
  • Quality
  • Service
  • Um.......can't think of any

I've got to say these little vehicles were the "find of the month" for me. They are just what I was looking for and I'm sure I'll be buying more. In fact when I need some M2A2's I'll be emailing Brian as well. Thoroughly recommended.

Force on Force

I had a quick look through the pre-publication FoF books available at the WMMS show back in March and was impressed by the production standards of this new rule set from Osprey. I wasn't so impressed by the £25 RRP.
I was pleased then when I found them on Amazon for a very respectable £13.70 delivered and sent off for my copy straight away.

I'd been swayed by the various articles published over the last few months in Wargames Illustrated and Miniature Wargames - particularly an in depth article discussing the rules with their creator.

OK I know they're not strictly brand new, but they're new to me and they seem to have come up with mechanisms that neatly cope with some of the processes in small unit combat that aren't fully grasped by other sets of rules.

What I'm trying to say is here is a rule set that appears to capture small scale tactical warfare without getting bogged down in all the wrong detail.

Primarily, there's no weapons data tables! This means the rules avoid what I call "MG42 Syndrome" - meaning players cannot get into debates about the relative merits of different types of small arms - these guys know that it's all about how you use them not what they are.

Yes an MG42 may have a cyclical rate of fire of between 1200-1500rpm when compared to the good old Bren Gun's 500rpm - but when you consider that a belt in an ammunition box is only 250 rounds long can you see yourself carrying enough boxes just to prove the point? NO. The German gunners used their MGs in the light role just like we did ours, firing short controlled bursts to conserve ammo - so there's no difference or no advantage between an MG42 and a Bren.

It's all about discipline which comes from training - and this is what FoF concentrates on neatly allowed for by using different dice (D6, D8, D10 or D12) when trying to score the almost universal success score of 4+. Simples.

I love the concept and hope the rules measure up when finally played!

To do this I've branched out into 15mm Moderns - 4 squads of Peter Pig USMC and 40 odd assorted Middle East troops (Iraqi's maybe) armed with the usual AK47s and RPGs. Oh and 3 Armoured Humvee's to get about the table in.

Now, where's my paint brush?