Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Desert Terrain WIP

It has been a while again...

But I haven't been procrastinating - well, not all the time at least. I started to build up my terrain collection, especially pieces that will fit onto my desert table. For this I bought an oil derrick and two nodding donkeys from Fenris Games:

 Very nice kits, both of them. Sadly, both nodding donkeys were missing several piece - i.e. the ladder sprue and some of the tubing. I tried to contact Fenris Games but to no avail... I don't know, it is kinda telling that both times exactly the same parts were missing - I would assume a rushed job. That;s a shame because otherwise it is a very cool and unique piece of terrain.

The derrick is better, complete and a very nice construction, but several of the sheets were not completely lasered which made assemble unnecessarily difficult:

Yeah, so there was some disappointment, but once you have the finished pieces in front of you it's mostly forgotten and forgiven :)

I also built a storage tank out of a can and some bits:

Now I need to paint everything and then I want to make some mine fields and barbed wire obstacles. Hopefully it won't take taht long again to show you new pics!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Ghost Recon Wildlands Beta - First Impressions

After a couple of hours of Ghost Recon Wildlands I am ready to share my first impressions.

For those with little time: This is much more Far Cry 5 than Ghost Recon.

Don't get me wrong, it is a decent game and fun so far, but it is not a Tactical Shooter. The gameplay is very much like Far Cry 4, with some good new additions I'll mention later.
But enemies and missions feel sadly familiar.

My biggest worries so far:

- The story seems to be non-existent. Yes, there is a lot of lore about the cartel, but I don't expect any depth or even surprises during the game. This is not telling a story.

- For god's sake, if I am supposed to be the best of the best on a black ops, don't drop me in a foreign country with nothing but a MP5! That's right - you start with 1 (!) weapon load-out, and you have to unlocked everything else. Including the customization parts. You get a sniper rifle after the first mission, but still... Not cool.

- Talking about sniper rifles - if I put a bullet from a  dedicated sniper rifle in your face, I expect you to drop. But some enemy heavies take to high-powered shots. Tactical shooter? Yeah, sure...

- Side missions are do-or-die. If you mess one up, there is no second chance. That's fine, but if the mission is "shut down this antenna" don't throw a " now shut down the second antenna that was never mentioned before 1 klick away within 90 seconds" at me.

- While I can see that this game will be heaps of fun with a group of people you know, the single-player is sometimes frustrating. Your team is usually better left behind while you scout, and the very limited orders make them useless for any kind of stealth approach. There isn't even a "cover me"-command!

- Enemy AI is not very good, either. They don't care much about people being dropped within line of sight, but once they are alerted, they call for reinforcements. And there is close to no chance to stop them. Just Cause 3 gives you a couple of seconds to drop the guy with the radio, but here, no way. Then reinforcements show up exactly like they do in Far Cry, and that's it. I tried to escalate a fight, but reinforcements seem to be unable to call for more reinforcements. Weird...

- You can free imprisoned rebels in enemy bases, but all they do is grab a gun and start a firefight with the guards, blowing your stealth and get reinforcements being called. Yep, just the kind of " help" I need. *slowclap*

- Oh, and Bolivia has a helicopter density like an airshow - there must be well over 20 just in the province you are allowed to play...

So, what about the good stuff?

Well, if you look at it more as a military RPG, it is quite good. What I mean i, if you embrace the premise of being an operative deep in enemy territory, you can get that feeling.
Also, the addition of interrogations is pretty cool, and the Intel actually opens up different approaches to story missions (a grain of salt here - I have not checked if some Intel is mandatory to make story missions playable).
The world looks much better than I expected, and it feels pretty fitting. I am actually looking forward to seeing the other climate zones.
The beta gives you only a very tiny idea of what you can do to mess up cartel operations. There are 4 different "departments", and I am sure  if you put a lot of effort into going after supply, I hope that you can actually start an internal conflict within the cartel by going after production or public relations.

All in all, it is not what I hoped for, and much more what I expected. Nevertheless, I like it so far.
But I can't really see myself buying this over Mass Effect Andromeda.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Review - Airfix 1/48th Bedford MWD

I needed another truck for my Bolt Action British, so I picked up a 1/48th scale Bedford MWD from Airfix.

First a couple of words about the original:
The Bedford MWD was the ubiquitous 15cwt truck in British service - over 200.000 have been produced during the war and it served in every theater. Also only 4x2, it had a powerful 72 hp engine and reached a top speed of 95 km/h with a range of over 400 km. It could transport a 10-man squad or up to 800 kg of material.
The early version had only canvas doors and tiny screens for the driver and passenger, earning it the nickname "pneumonia wagon". In 1943, the design was updated to have half doors and a proper windscreen, together with some changes to the engine covers and instrument layout.
In the desert they were also used as 2pdr ATG portees.

The Airfix kit comes with 95 parts on 3 grey sprues plus one clear sprue for the windshield.

It allows to build both the early and late version and several canvas configurations, so you'll have a decent amount of pieces left after you finished:

You could even further reduce the number of used parts by omitting the engine parts and some of the interior that might not be visible in the version you want to build.

The kit comes together without any issues and I only encountered two small pitfalls:
First, the tires are flattened on one side so be careful when you assemble them to make them fit correctly.
Second, the instructions skip one step when it comes to the steering wheel, but it is quite obvious how it should work.

The final product is a fine little model:

I found several pictures of MWDs in North Africa, and it seems to have been quite common to remove the side covers of the engine, so I left them off my truck, too:

I also left the hood separate to allow easy access to paint the engine:

Size-wise, it fits quite well with 28mm miniatures, mostly because the MWD is such a small truck. A Company B driver doesn't look out of place at the wheel (apart from his missing legs...):

And next to some Perry Miniatures 8th Army soldiers it still looks good:

Even in direct comparison to a Warlord Games 3-ton Bedford the scale difference isn't outrageous:

Just to put the difference between 1/48th and 1/56th scale into some numbers:
This MWD is 1.3 cm too long, 0,6 cm too high and wide.

And with a coat of sand color it is almost ready to roll!

All in all, this was fun to put together and the kit makes a very nice looking model. The scale is acceptable in my mind, and I am looking forward to finish the paint job soon!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Bolt Action Pulp Partisan Cultists

Today I'd like to share an idea for a rather unusual Bolt Action army. 

Picture from Fenris Games

I am a huge fan of Weird War settings, but sadly, there is not much interest in that at my gaming club. Generally, they are quite conservative and like to stick to the rules as they are, while I like to be more... experimental.

Anyway, after realizing that there is almost no way to get away with a British '46 army based on a late war German list (basically an excuse to build some British assault engineers and use JTFM's Tortoise as a Jagdpanther), I thought up a new concept: Cultist Partisans!

Every proper Pulp setting has a sinister cult performing strange rituals to end the world/ wake up an ancient good / summon creatures from the other side / have NSFW social gatherings.
So why not make a fun Bolt Action army based on this concept?

This is the list I envisioned:
Kingsport Irregulars (Partisans)
Second Lieutenant with SMG
+ soldier with SMG

Partisan Squad 1
NCO with SMG
Soldier with Panzerfaust
16 soldiers with rifles

Partisan Squad 2
NCO with SMG
Soldier with Panzerfaust
16 soldiers with rifles

Partisan Squad 3
NCO with SMG
11 soldiers with SMGs
Anti-tank grenades

Guerrilla Squad
NCO with SMG
11 soldiers with SMGs
Anti-tank grenades

Anti-tank Team with Bazooka

General Purpose Truck
General Purpose Truck

= 1000 points
Pretty straight-forward: Two large squads as a solid base, and two assault squads in trucks to get right in your face. Plus a little extra in case of tanks. Anyway, not the best list ever, but okay to play.

Now the fun part - miniatures!
When one thinks of cultists, the excellent Frostgrave plastic box comes to mind immediately. Combined with an abundance of left-over firearms and Molotov cocktails from different Warlord Games boxes this should be a great foundation for this army.

Of course one could just use some army trucks as transports, but if I go wacky, I go wacky all the way:

Behold Sloppy Jalopy's 1910 Type B bus - the perfect way to ride into battle in style!
For the second one I would take the Ford AA panel van from the same manufacturer:

Or I get a Mack Bulldog Model AC from Shapeways:

Or, to fit with the tongue-in-cheek approach, this little vehicle from Great Escape Games:

This army also offers some interesting options for mission objectives and markers. Fenris Games has a whole range of Mythos-inspired pieces like these:

"Sir, we need to blow up the rune stone before those lunatics complete their ritual!"

And if you are looking for some further inspiration, have a look at Osprey Publishing's books about the military struggle against the Elder Ones:

On that note: Cthulhu fhtagn!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year (Hobby) Resolutions

Happy new year!
It's the tim eof the year when we sit down and make plans about how to improve things in the future.

So here are my resolutions for 2017:

1. Finish 200 miniatures
That sounds like a lot, but I have so many half done armies that I think it is a realistic goal. My 8th Army needs some repairs and basing, and you might remember the Hungarians I started. There are also more Winter War Russians and I started a Late War German army, too. And that is just Bolt Action!

2. Start a new system
Sometimes I feel a bit of "Bolt Action fatigue", so I think I should start another system. Not entirely sure what, but SAGA has a good chance of  being picked.

3. At least 25 posts on this blog
I feel bad neglecting the S.A.S. blog, and at the beginning I envisioned 2 posts a month as being reasonable. And that is my goal for 2017.

Now that I have written it down and published it I feel much more pressure to actually get something done :)

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Book Review - Ghost Fleet

I just finished the World War 3 novel "Ghost Fleet" by P.W. Singer and August Cole and thought I might share my thoughts with you.

The Story of Ghost Fleet is set about 30 years in the future and pretty simple: After a coup that topples over the Communist Party in China, the new technocrat regime decides that it is their time to become the dominant world power. In a surprise strike the PLA invades Hawai'i and defeats the US military through deception and sabotage. Basically, they sneaked backdoors into some of the microchips they sold the rest of the world, and suddenly all your high-tech gimmicks are not actually doing what they are supposed to do.

The main set-piece of the story is the USS Zumwalt, the only completed and then prematurely retired US "stealth" ship, and there is another storyline about the occupation and resistance on Hawai'i.

I knew P.W. Singer from his very good non-fictional "Wired for War" book about drone warfare and was quite surprised when I found this novel with his name on it. So it is no surprise that this book heavily features autonomous robots and a lot of technology DARPA dreamed up. And while the action feels right and mostly well-paced, the narrative is kinda worn out. Nobody will be surprised how it all ends, and who dies and who lives. It seems to be a movement in this genre to move away from the, let"s say "holistic", style of Tom Clancy (covering everything from the commander in chief to diplomats to boots on the ground) to a more cinematic narrative. And while David Suarez largely succeeds in this (see Kill Decision), Singer and Cole deliver a mostly uninspired story.
At this point I have to mention some not very well crafted pop culture references and some plot points that seem to be attempts at some kind of comic relief, but they don't work very well (but to be fair, this part of the story gave me the best "Oh no they didn't!" moment in the whole book).

Another slightly annoying thing is that a lot (and I mean A LOT!) of events are mentioned in the book, but never explained... Well, while this is usually no big deal and just a way to make the fictional world more real, it becomes somewhat annoying in this book because I felt like I am missing pieces of history that led to the starting point of the book. Even major events like the break-up of NATO is just fed to the reader as a matter of fact without any further explanation, and that happens within the timeframe of the story!
 The lack of political "bigger picture" story also makes the end somewhat disappointing, but I don't want to discuss this as it would be a major spoiler.

So this book is no Red Storm Rising (for me still the benchmark for a WW3 novel), but it is also not a piece of pure Cold War propaganda like Team Yankee. The setting, although feeling somehow familiar from mostly FPS video games, is fresh enough to make this book worth reading. I got through it in just over a week (which is tremendously fast for me at the moment), so I guess the story sucks you in quite good.

All in all, it was an interesting read, informative and entertaining. If you are interested in near future warfare and can forgive the lack of an elaborate story and characters you should give it a try.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

20 kg of Awesomeness

One thing I did during my vacation was sending a package to myself - 20kg of toys that were in storage at my parents place. Today, it finally arrived!

The box was pretty beaten, but it travelled around the world. I was just hoping I packed everything reasonably safe...

Nope :(
The horror...

Man down! Man down!

But luckily most of it was okay.

So what was inside? For example my 6mm Modern IDF:

And some half-done Germans:

Plus reinforcements for my BAOR and Syrians:

Some 6mm Brigade Models Neo-Soviets:

One and a half 15mm Mighty Armies forces:

And two more:

A 15mm Walker from Micropanzer Wargames, long time oop and awful to assemble:

But the main part of it was BattleTech miniatures. I bought my first BattleTech novel, Way of the Clans, when I was 14, and I was hooked. Got the Mechs! box as a present soon after, but never actually played the game until I was 17. But then, BattleTech was HUGE in my circle of friends, especially during my last years of school and first years of study. We played an ongoing campaign with a mercenary unit, and back in the day there was heaps of organized play throuch MechForce and communities like Lordprotector and Batchall. I still own hundreds of BattlecTech miniatures, and maybe half of them are now back here with me.

Sadly, they suffered the most during transit...

First we have the mangled remains of my Clan Hell's Horse Omega Keshik:

The Hell's Horses always have been my favorite clan, I loved their schism between Crusaders and Warden and I loved their use of second line Mechs beside OmniMechs and their combined arms tactics. They were like one step smarter than the average clanner.

Well, if you are looking for a game with even more ridiculous tank designs than 40K, look no further! Also, I have way more ProtoMechs than I remember...

I also have a bunch of rather boring Clan Wolf machines:

Including a Fenris with this quite presentable free-hand logo I did:

And a bunch of unpainted Clan Mechs, including 3 Dire Wolves :)

One of them is a Widowmaker, produced by the MechForce UK. But I suspect mine is a re-cast.

Beside this, I also created my own mercenary outfit, with the rather unoriginal name of Ronin. They were a bunch of soldiers who lost their units, families and/or homeworld in the Clan invasion. The core was the remnants of an FRR unit which teamed up with a beaten up Steiner mercenary lance and went from there. Yepp, I had a very detailed background for this unit.
They adapted the same organisation as the clans with 5 Mechs per unit, and employed an "open" company structure, meaning that lances were put together into comapanies according to teh task at hand.

This is the command lance:

I was not very skilled when I painted those, and I think they deserve a new (hopefully better) paint job.

The Ronin employed three combat lances of mixed weight, employing embedded scouts in combat units:

The Thug is a bit of a stretch for a mercenary outfit in 3052, but I am sure there was a very good story for it being there.

Talking about stretches, of course they have a LAM leading their scout lance!

The other two light lances are more combat oriented, with an ambush lance of 5 Javelins, well, technically three JVN-10N Javelins and two JVN-10F Fire Javelins, and a Hunter/Killer lance with two Phoenix Hawks and three Valkyries.

More specialized units come in form of an urban combat lance, as heavy as possible while being jump-capable and  painted brightly red for easy identification in the chaos of close quarter combat, a fire support lance and the pride of my collection, the Guard lance with an Unseen Marauder II, two Unseen Marauders and an Unseen metal Warhammer (the painted Warhammer is plastic)!

Later, I expanded the Ronin to a full bataillon with Mechs from the newer TROs. Here are some of them, although each lance is missing at least one member - I guess they stayed behind when I packed the box...

And some more unaligned Mechs:

The last picture also contains a disturbing amount of unaccounted bits...

I hope you enjoyed this little trip through my hobby history!
And there is still another smaller box sitting here waiting to be unpacked. :)