Forgotten Classics! Game Review: Firefight (Alternative Armies)

Many years ago, a budding teenage me was snooping about the dusty corners of that wonderful den of geekery, “Another World”, when I should chance to happen upon a book. Something about it caught my eye, and a quick flick through hooked me in completely. I stumped up my £10 (or whatever it was) and off I went with a book that would bring me many, many happy hours of nerd bliss.

This was the book:

Firefight, by Alternative Armies.

Now, I’d seen a few AA “Levy” series minis in blister packs and bought a few to use as 40k Imperial Guard renegades/ Chaos cultists/ Genestealer cultists/ PDF, because they caught a pretty cool aesthetic with the visored helmets, flak armour and Space-Kalashnikov rifles, and the Crusader series had appealed to me as Space Marine proxies,so curiosity got the better of me and I thought what the hell.

I remember being significantly underwhelmed flicking through my new purchase on the bus ride home – the full colour cover giving way to a black-and-pamphlet with pencil artwork, fluff that was… well, meh, really, they’d gone for the same Dark Ages In Space feel as 40k, but with a lot less grim dark and a lot less imagination (in fairness, though – GW are the fluffmeisters, you aren’t going to win going head to head with them there). On the human side you’ve got the Levy – basically Imperial Guardsmen, with the elite rising through the ranks to become Crusaders, power armoured elite troopers whose own elites include Templars and Hospitallers. On the alien side, you have the Shia Khan…

These are sort of an Ork/ Eldar hybrid race, faster but weaker than humans with their basic troops known as Goblins (wielding weapons codenamed “Popcorn” and “Eggtimer” by the human forces.. a shout out to the NATO names for Warsaw Pact weapons during the Cold War, perhaps?)

The game included some thin cardboard terrain tiles and tokens, a long way from GW quality cardstock, a few typos in the rules suggesting poor editing… I didn’t expect much.

Boy, was I ever wrong. Firefight is a brilliantly designed game, based around the concept of action dice allowing you to do particular things (I’m willing to bet more than a few of the Mantic design team played this game back in the 90s) – close fought, addictive, fast and deadly. I don’t mind admitting a strong influence on our Black Ops skirmish game (still WIP for now). Every trooper has rolls a certain number of dice depending on what action he has chosen, modified by what he’s armed with, with a basic rule of 6 generating an offensive action (such as shooting someone in the face), and 1 generating a defensive action (dodging out of the way). The designers commented that they hoped to produce a system that was easy to play but hard to read, and you know what, they managed it.

The rulebook teaches you the rules stage by stage, starting with a basic house clearance mission where a Levy squad with a Crusader NCO clears a house of Shia Khan Goblins and Infiltrators, and the subsequent missions bring in heavy weapons, melee, more sophisticated actions such as medical aid, and mini campaigns on both strategic and tactical levels, where your Crusader or Levy platoon patrol across a city working their way through snipers, ambushes and (as the name suggests) firefights!

Not a bad haul!
A very Rogue Trader aesthetic in the rulebook..
Pretty certain the same artist as a LOT of the early 90s GW stuff!
Levy and Crusader NCO squad take on Shia Khan Goblins and Infiltrators in a house clearance mission
This game is up close and personal!
As the rulebook says – “With these weapons, at these ranges…”

It’s been a real blast getting back into this game again, and I’m planning to replace the thin card tiles with proper MDF based jobs with 3D terrain to enhance the feel – yet another project! But for the meantime, when we want a quick skirmish with minimal set up, low model count etc, this is our go to game for the moment, and I think will be for some time.

I thoroughly recommend this game for anyone looking for a quick fix wargame, and I commend the Alternative Armies team for producing a classic that holds it’s own 27 years later! You can still find copies on eBay if you hunt around, this game is worth the effort to find.

Till next time, stay thrifty out there!

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Deadzone! On a budget.. of £0…

Focus? What is this focus of which you speak? Heresy!!

You know that phenomenon where you hear about something – a band, a game, a TV show – and all of a sudden you hear about it everywhere?

What is that called?

Anyway, that’s what’s happened with us – a Luke’s APS video brought it up, and then over the next couple of months we just kept hearing about it, reading about in blogs and forums.. what is it? Deadzone, that’s what!

I’ve long had a weakness for small, quick skirmish games that bridge the gap between wargame and boardgame, and doing a little digging into what Deadzone is.. we liked what we saw.

Particularly when we discovered the rules available for FREE on Mantic’s website. BOOM (as the saying goes).

So, we had the rules downloaded. Next up – miniatures. Well, that was easy. Dice – Deadzone runs on a D8 system with specially labelled D6s for command rolls, but normal D6s will work just as well- you simply assign a number to each command skill. Ebay, £3, 20 D8s show up a week or so later. God bless those hard working Chinese kids.

Finally, terrain – Deadzone box set ships with a 2′ x 2′ mat with printed 3″ squares, and a terrain system based around 3″ cubes. Happily, Dan had a couple of bits of hardboard knocking around his shed, roughly 2′ x 3′ – the excess would be used for dice, counters, roster cards etc.

It begins! Measured out 3″ squares onto the hardboard and scored them into the material with a DIY knife
Stippled on texture paste – a mix of paint, PVA, filler powder and sand. Rubble effects are done by squeezing acrylic caulk onto the board and pressing cat litter into it. Caulk is excellent for gripping the litter and holding onto the board.

Sprayed the whole thing with cheap black spraypaint and then began drybrushing up as per the previous urban board.

Here I’ve added washes to help delineate the squares – thinned down black, smokey ink, and skin washes to colour the greys.

Texture catches the drybrushing nicely

Added mud – burnt umber basecoat, drybrushed with layers of lighter brown
Added flock to the mud to help mark out the squares, simulating weeds growing in the mud

After all this, the board was pretty warped, about a 1cm bulge in the middle. Were all our efforts to be in vain, our attempts at Deadzone gaming to be thwarted by models gradually sliding off theboard?

Happily, no – Wyloch to the rescue – we coated the other side with thinned down PVA and left it for 24 hours. Result? Totally flat board.

Added some scenery built a while back from various bits of food packaging and away we go!

The rules give a sample scenario along with two strike teams – we’ve proxied the Marines as Enforcers and the Gretchin as Forge Fathers, and so far we’re 3-2 to the little stunties.

Deadzone is definitely a fun game, once you get your head round the dice test mechanic, and it’s great for keeping both players involved through alternating activation boosted by command dice providing extra actions throughout the game. It’s definitely a game that lends itself to tactical play – you’re going to get the victory points through taking and holding objectives, as it can be damn difficult actually putting a model down, (particularly as the wimpy laser rifles the Enforcers are equipped with don’t pierce armour too well), but this is no bad thing – in the real world, you wouldn’t just chuck your highly trained strike team into a meat grinder, and as we get the hang of this game it’ll be fun to try and build a narrative campaign.

Time to finish up with some pics, as Grot and Marine get down and dirty in the Deadzone:

Till next time, stay thrifty out there and we’ll see you soon!

CheapHammer 40k -The 2nd Ed Revival Project! Pt. 1 The Plan

So, hands up who remembers this?

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As it happens, we don’t either – don’t drink and eBay, kids! So, we were wondering what we should do with this haul – loads of Grots, a full complement of 20 Marines, and a couple of Orks in various states of repair… not to mention the cardboard cutout Dreadnaught, plus the very brightly coloured Codex Imperialis and campaign book.

 

In the grim darkness of the far future, there are only bold primary colours

Now, this raises an interesting, almost paradoxical conundrum – because we can’t afford proper 40k minis, we’d got sunk deep into 20mm (aka 1/72 or 1/76 or HO) gaming, meaning all our terrain was designed and sized for this. So getting our hands on actual 40k minis kind of threw the plans out a bit. As discussed before, we planned on using them as proxies for OOP systems like Firefight, Space Crusade etc (not to mention freely downloadable ones like Deadzone), but with all this… stuff… it was more or less a given that at some point we’d end up giving 40k a try again, and we’ve had a couple of little skirmishes with our new skirmish board.

And yeah, compared to modern systems, this old girl is a bit clunky. But we got to thinking – both me and Dan got into 40k in 1991 (albeit independently of each other and hundreds of miles apart) and by then the 1st edition Rogue Trader had evolved massively from it’s origins as an almost unplayable (in practical terms) RPG/ skirmish game and was heading towards the slick and shiny and GLORIOUSLY colourful subsequent editions. Dan and I both remember getting the 40k box set – and be aware, a 40k box set was a brand new thing back then, never been done before! – for Christmas 1993, and working our way through the mini campaign missions given in the book. If you’re unfamiliar, this set focused heavily on the 2nd War For Armageddon, and featured a three (four?) mission campaign of Blood Angels vs Orks.

Then Dan reminded me that 1993 was 25 years ago exactly.

Hmm. We should mark this occasion.

We did something similar last year, commemorating 30 years of 40k by playing The Battle At The Farm from Rogue Trader using 8th Edition rules, and had a blast, but we figured, you know what? 2nd Ed was our edition. Goblin Green bases, primary colours – the grim darkness of the far future had never looked so appealing. Army lists existed from the drop, rather than being gradually added over six years of White Dwarf articles.

Or  Warhammer 40000 Compilations.

Or Warhammer 40000 Compendiums.

Or Warhammer 40000 Battle Manuals.

You have to figure by this point, the game had evolved quite away from it’s origins, and was badly in need of a rewrite! And so it was…

You bought wargear with cards rather than having a 15 % chance of having it. The thing had been tested, and many mechanics from 2nd Ed actually form the backbone of 40k as we know it now, love it or loathe it. We may not have had Tau or Necrons, but we had Squats, dammit! (at least for a while..) And so begins our new project for the remains of 2018 – painting up the contents of our unwitting haul to replicate those halcyon days gone by – we began with the Marines, and Dan has a load of Grots ready for the camera – then there’s the scenery to make… lots of ruins (which we’ll make 3″ by 3″ to also be Deadzone compatible – muy Skinflint).. plus we have found a very cool papercraft of an Ork Deff Dread… And then come Christmas, we’ll run the whole campaign!

So, here’s raising a glass to our “origin story” within the hobby – we may not be the seasoned grognards in at the birth of it all with Rogue Trader, but we were there for 40k to find it’s feet and become what it is today. And for all it’s (many many ) faults-  it will always have a place in our hearts.

Terrain Talk Pt. 6 – Next Gen Hills!

One of the great things about this hobby, especially with the rise of the internet and YouTube, is that you never, ever stop learning new tricks. Certainly, our last terrain post, dedicated to master terrain builder and all round good egg Dakka Dakka user Skalk Bloodaxe, taught us that!

And courtesy of our internet mentors at Luke’s APS and Mel The Terrain TutorBoseClifffSitu2, we’ve learned a few new things since our last round of terrain building. Last year, we bought a big square of insulation foam and 3mm MDF with the intent of revolutionising our collection of hills, and in true SFG style we’ve managed to make….

One.

The problem we’ve had is gradient – trying to get the height/ width ratio with such a thick block of foam is really tricky, so we’ve ended up settling for a big LoS blocker, and as a salute to Luke of Luke’s APS fame, we heretofor dub this “Fellowes’ Peak”. The real issue is having bought to thick of a sheet of foam. Too thick a sheet = too much height = too steep slopes to get up.

That said, it was a pretty fun build. Want to see how we did it?

Step 1: Cut out a piece of insulation foam, hack some chunks out of it with a DIY knife and glue it to a piece of MDF. I tried using a jigsaw but 3mm MDF didn’t respond too well to it – wound up using a DIY knife, scoring the material before cutting through it. Notice the little alcove carved in the left hand corner.

Step 2: Adding texture! Tacky glue and “Hard As Nails” glue used to attach pieces of masonry and bark shippings to what will become the rock facings.

Step 3: Filler! Using a spatula and fingers, we start to create the hill contours.

Step 4: Dressed with cat litter, painted with texture paste (mixed from PVA, sand, filler pwder and water) and undercoated white – yes, white! Stay with me…

Step 5.1: We begin the leopard spotting! Start with washing a dirty yellow, mixed from yellow, brown, and black craft paints, thinned down with LOTS of water

Step 5.2: Dabbed on some brown wash, plenty of overlaps

Step 5.3: Black wash chucked over the entire thing, and black paint to undercoat where there will be earth tones and flock. You can start to see the effect coming together now!

Step 6: With the wash dried, a light bone drybrush pulls it all together and adds highlights.

Step 7: Flocking! I used Mel The Terrain Tutor’s 3-tone flocking method for this, mixing three grades of Jarvis JTF flocks – lowlights, highlights, then midtones

Step 8: Sealed with a spray mix of PVA and water, and then hit with a coat of matt varnish. Then place in situ and enjoy!

And thus was Fellowes Peak born!

A week or so later, I got the itch to do another big piece – I’d always fancied a big corner piece to add drama to the table, and it occurred to me that a big cliff or rocky bluff would be the perfect way to utilise the height that the thick foam gave me. And so, using the exact same methods, over the following week Bose Cliff was created:

The thing that’s been really great about these pieces is how easy the new techniques have made things – I always hated the PVA/ sand stage, it took forever and inevitably made a huge mess. Texture paste is a far better bet, especially when you’re going to be flocking on top of it anyway. As for leopard spotting instead of the traditional grey drybrushing – well, I’m not sure we’re there yet with the paint ratios, but it’s looking pretty fly!

Bose Cliff in situ

I’d also like to take a moment to thank Mel the Terrain Tutor for his video on the three T’s of terrain design – I built this having measured the capacity of my cupboard and also the footprint of Skalk Point, our power substation from the other month, as we’re planning these to be the centrepiece of our big Apocalypse: Earth Summer Smackdown game, just a few short weeks away!

In the meantime, I hope these provide you with some inspiration – good luck and good hobbying, stay thrifty and we’ll check in soon!

2017 – A Year In Review (and plans for the year ahead..)

January is a bleak month. Christmas decorations are down, work is back and you can’t start the morning drinking Buck’s Fizz without someone frowning at you.

Particularly the passengers that get on my bus.

Anyhoo, time to think about the year just gone and the year ahead.

2017 was not a great year in terms of gaming, in that we didn’t really play that many games – but the ones we did were pretty freaking great, including the biggest ever Apocalypse Earth battle and an Epic rematch. What this year was, though, was the year our blog grew up. Seriously:

2016 – 4095 views, 1897 visitors, 6 likes

2017 – 18,358 views, 10,297 visitors, 36 likes.

Woah. Just woah. That’s quite some improvement.

And it would seem that y’all out there have a lot of love for the dastardly Holy Soviet Empire – these three posts got over 1000 views each!

While 2017 may not have been too great in terms of games and battle reports, it was pretty great for us both in terms of painting and modelling, starting with the discovery of Wyloch, then Mel The Terrain Tutor and Lukes Affordable Paint Service. Honourable mention to Duncan Rhodes from Warhammer TV for teaching us the wisdom of two thin coats rather than one thick one!

So this led to a revamped board, a complete revamp of all our scenery, a repaint job on both Apocalypse: Earth factions, a cheapskate take on the 40k Imperial GuardOrk and Space Marine factions – we’ve been busy!

Incidentally, our blast markers seem to have caused quite a stir – I would put a tutorial together, but the entire idea was something I copped from Mel, check out his original video here.

So for 2018, what’s the plan? Well, life has a way of fething up your plans as soon as you make them, so we’re not going to get too carried away… but, some resolutions all the same:

Da Skooderia WILL hit the table. 40k in 1/72 is ON, yo.

We’re going to explore the other Apocalypse: Earth factions – it’s all been about the Atlantic Alliance and the Holy Soviet Empire so far, but there’s also the League Of European Nations and the Asian Communist Federation to check out.

Escalation is surely due in Epic scale as well, I keep seeing Dan looking at yogurt pots and  pictures of scratchbuilt Gargants…

We’ll also be revisiting Hyperian Wars and there’s a couple of other projects in the offing: Future Force Warrior takes Apocalypse: Earth 200 years into the future as humanity takes it first steps into the stars, and Apocalypse: Earth – Black Ops explores more detailed small scale encounters in the secret wars against the Greys, bringing an RPG element to the fractured world of the Apocalypse War. The rules will cover small scale skirmishes and role playing campaigns where your fireteam members will be able to develop, gaining new skills and equipment as they face ever darker and more sinister threats…

So, that’s what’s in the pipeline for the year ahead. However, it’s January – and that means we’re both skint. So a pact has been made – no spending money on hobby stuff for a month, we’re going to improvise and use what we’ve got… necessity being the mother of invention and all that… So let us leave you with a shot of what’s on the modelling table right now – two ancient battered Matchbox cars getting the Orky makover, because Da Skooderia are coming to town in 2018!

Warbuggies
How can he drive while holding an axe and a club? Because he’s Kimi-freaking-Raikkonork, that’s why!

Stay tuned, stay thrifty,  and let’s see what we can put together without cracking open the credit card….

 

Apocalypse: Earth Battle Report- The Battle Of Kubica Pass (Pt. 2 – FIGHT!!!!)

And thus was battle joined…

Turn 1

The Atlantic Alliance won the initiative and opted to move first.

A Silverbug gunship leapt from cover, skimming over the treetops to hover inside the ruins of the church, securing Objective 6 and sending a terrifying volley of fire at the Soviet superheavies – two Stinger/TOW  missiles rocketed towards the Colossus and a burst of deadly Rosewellium tipped shells from the Avenger cannon pattered lightly of the Rampager’s incredibly thick armour. In return, the Colossus stomped forward, lightning launcher and machineguns failing to damage the second Silverbug, who managed to blow out a sensitive knee joint with it’s Avenger cannon. The pride of the Holy Soviet Army, slumped against the ruined wall, immobilised but still very much in the fight!

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Stompy Uncle Joe is immobiilsed by the Avrocar Silverbug flight

On the other side of the field, the crew of the SU-152, (their resolve hardened by a “Take Aim” Order Card) prepared to fire their first shot in anger… the massive artillery shell arced straight and true, landing square on the top armour of an M60A3 Centurion.

Which promptly exploded.

Cue much fist bumping amongst the Soviet artillery crew, reinforced when the SU rolled onto Objective 1, and cue loud swearing from the Allied side as one of their most powerful assets was demolished without firing a shot..

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“Comrades- drop an M60A3 on the first shot?”
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“YES WE CAN”

The M42 Stealth Tank and the Rocketeers manouevred their way through the woods and hills in front and below the SU-152 and it’s frantically high-fiving crew while the Soviet Artillery Observation team (who were feeling a little redundant by this point, it has to be said) followed the assault gun up the hill to consolidate Objective 1. Meanwhile, on the Soviet right flank, the Rampager ground forwards, it’s twin 140mm cannons and multiple machineguns spraying a wall of lead at the lead Silverbug but the damnable Alliance contraption bobbed and weaved in a physics defying fashion to deny the Soviet behemoth a hit.

Realising they had better get their remaining Centurions into play quickly, the central Allied MBT advanced forwards, 120mm cannon and Stinger/TOW systems entirely failing to miss the Soviet Elektra tank, but was rewarded with at least downing a Siberian.

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M60A3 Centurion surveys the scene….
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“PHIIIIIIIIIIL!!!!”

Elsewhere along the frontline, the Holy Mystic struggled, beads of sweat on his forehead as he desperately tried to summon forth the psychic energies around the battlefield- to no avail. Meanwhile, the Stinger/TOW equipped Humvee missed the SU-152 and the Cherno Alfa, a Soviet T-48, immobilised the Stealth Tank before it could cloak and Cherno Brava took down the railgun-equipped Humvee with a single shot!

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“In Holy Soviet Empire, gun rails you!”

Rushing toward Objective 3 in the centre, the Soviet Shock Drones took position to prepare a lethal ambush for the Allied infantry, but an M113 with a 20mm cannon took down the first, also killing a rifleman from Soviet HQ in the process, while the Allied Dreadnaught squad paused on the low hill to take aim with a Stinger/TOW and with a beautiful shot brewed up Cherno Troika!

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“Watch this”
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“OH YEAH”

Inspired by their example, Charlie Squad and support M85 ‘bot try the same on the Cherno Brava and Cherno Draka, but their missiles fall short. More range time, gentlemen (and robot)!

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No. 4 (Support) Squad take position on Objective 2…
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Promptly gutting Charlie squad, killing the sergeant and demolishing the support M85!

This was not without cost though, as Ghost 7 dug in on Objective 5 drew a bead and sent a 7.62mm round straight through the forehead of a Soviet heavy machine gun crewman.

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The Soviet Lightning Storm Squad deploy onto the walls of the tenement block, losing two bodyguards to fireteam Delta 2
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Elektra rolls forward, her lighting launcher immobilising an Avrocar Silverbug and stripping off one of it’s Stinger/TOW launchers
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FInal M113 pulls into the gulley and fires on the advancing No. 3 squad – this goes VERY wide…
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..Straight into the middle of No. 2 squad, in fact – killing four of their number!
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At the end of turn 1, Soviets occupy objectives 1, 2 and 4, Atlantic Alliance are on 5 & 6, closing on 3

Turn 2

The Atlantic Alliance won the initiative and decided to move first. Bobbing up and down serenely in the ruined church that was objective 6, the first Silverbug gunship unleashed two volleys of fire at the Soviet Colossus – a dozen Roswellium tipped armour piercing rounds, and no less than FOUR Stinger/TOW missiles crashed into and around the massive mech…. but at the end, it still stood firm, albeit with a second knee joint blown out. So all we had accomplished was immobilising an already immobilised target. Great. And that was one of the most powerful Allied assets!

Stompy Uncle Joe was displeased. With Lightning Launcher, heavy flamethrower and heavy anti air machineguns, he did vent his wrath on the Silverbug squadron…

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F*CK YOU.
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AND YOU.

Two gunships destroyed and one VERY worried Atlantic Alliance commander! Did I mention one of those Silverbugs was holding Objective 6?

Meanwhile Elektra led the Soviet advance into the gulley to assault Objective 3, Lightning launcher firing wild but machine guns downing a member of Bravo 2.

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Meanwhile, a humble Stinger/TOW equipped Humvee decides to get this party started…
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First shot blows the SU-152 off it’s perch on Objective 1, spinning it round and immobilising it – effectively making it a 40-ton paperweight…
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Second shot brews up a T-48, which explodes, killing a member of No. 4 (Support) Squad and suppressing them!
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A suppressed Support Squad, you say? Rocketeers zoom up to Objective 2, claiming the entire Soviet Heavy Weapons Squad as POWs!

Elsewhere the momentum was starting to turn… The surviving Soviet Shock Drone leapt on an M113, ripping off it’s main weapon before being destroyed an M60 Centurion..

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“Git yo’ claws outta mah buddy”

..which went on to slaughter five Soviet infantrymen and brew up yet another T-48!

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BOOM!
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“You know what today is? A bad day to be a T-48, fool”

Elsewhere in the centre the Soviet APC managed a lucky shot, killing a member of Charlie Two and suppressing the rest of the fireteam, whilst in return an M113 managed to kill a Soviet Lightning Storm trooper, also suppressing the Soviet elite troops.

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The sole surviving T-48 crests Objective 1 and destroys the Stinger/TOW Humvee after the Allied Dreadnaught squad miss with their Stinger/TOWs
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Carnage around Objective 3 – M60 blows Elektra’s turret off…
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Whilst Inferna’s brutal assault saw rips the other M60 in half!
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“Today’s weather forecast – fire. Lots of it.”
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Rampager super heavy moves in on the Allied left flank
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Charlie One demolish Inferna with another superb Stinger/TOW shot
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Assault saw whirling, an M85 heroically charges the Rampager..
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….scratches the paint, but that’s about it.
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Soviet infantry and HQ hustle up to the gulley to support the attack on Objective 3
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Immobilised, the Stealth Tank decloaks to fire at the surviving T-48.. futilely, as it would turn out..

(By this point, victory points had kind of gone out of the window – we were just enjoying the epic slugfest! The battlefield itself looked truly apocalyptic, blast markers blazing everywhere- check out this video on our Facebook page)

Turn 3

The Atlantic Alliance won the initiative and went first.

Fresh from capturing both Objective 2 and the entire No. 4 Soviet Support Squad, the Rocketeers decided to take a gamble, given the relative paucity of Holy Soviet forces  in this area of the battlefield. Jet packs roared into life and submachineguns delivered death from above as the Holy Mystic was riddled with 9mm rounds before he could summon up his supernatural powers!

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No throwing tanks for you today, Ivan!

Meanwhile, a turretless but still game Elektra forced her way onto Objective 3, ramming an M113 in the process as the battle in the centre hotted up.

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The M113 is flipped over and destroyed by Elektra’s attack, Allied HQ barely escaping!
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Immobile, the Stealth Tank looses twin burst of rapid autocannon fire against the surviving T-48 on Objective 1, scratching the paint but that’s all..
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Humvee sweeps around the gulley to attack Soviet HQ in the open, wounding Lt. Polikarpv and killing the Soviet RTO…
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…Before being rammed by a reversing Soviet APC and losing it’s minigun!

To the Soviet right the Lightning Storm Squad shook off their suppression and marched doggedly forward, but it would be another turn before their lethal Lightning Launcher would be in range, whilst in the centre an M113 advanced up insupport of the Humvee and immobilised the Soviet APC with it’s .50 calibre heavy machinegun.

Further back the shamefaced bodyguards of the Soviet Mystic vent fury on the Rocketeers, filling the air with lead from their submachineguns and downing one of their number – checking morale, the Rocketeers were rewarded with Frenzy, which allowed them to instantly vault back to Objective 2!

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Dreadnaught squad line up the final T-48 with a Stinger/TOW…
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..and are rewarded with ANOTHER big juicy explosion!
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Pushing forward in the centre, the sole surviving Siberian assault trooper hurls himself at Platoon Sgt. MacAuliffe – CCR 7 + 1 for charging, vs CCR 3…
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Mac, you are one bad ass mutha***ker – Hero Save on two wounds and put the Siberian DOWN!
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As the Rampager closes in, a desperate manoeuvre from an M113 crew – light autocannon, point blank, rear armour… the shots bounce harmlessly off (however side machineguns kill a Tesla trooper and suppress the squad yet again!)
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However, this in turn left the vehicle exposed to the Lightning Launcher of Stompy Uncle Joe, who promptly immobilised it

Vasily the Noble Sniper drew a bead and picked off a member of fireteam Alfa 2, suppressing them, while chaos erupted in the centre as a vicious grenade battle raged between Soviet and Allied infantry:

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“There’s too many!”
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Lt. Polikarpov falls and Commissar Kuryakin leads the charge!
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ZA RODINA!!!

By this point we had completely forgotten about victory points and were just in it for the sheer love of the game – would the Soviets pierce the thinning Allied lines? Because if the Rampager completed it’s flanking manoeuvre, it would all be over….

Turn 4

The Atlantic Alliance won the initiative and went first.

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Allied Centurion crew manoeuvre for the perfect flank shot on the Rampager – one 120mm cannon round later and it turns into a fireball!

With that, it pretty much seemed like game over for the Holy Soviet army – all their heavy weapons and armour were destroyed, but Commissar Kuryakin was not going to go down without a fight! He lead his HQ into the gulley, guns blazing and grenades flying, but to no avail…

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..as the final M113 rolls up to the rear of the surviving Soviet infantry squad. 2 light and one heavy machine gun, point blank range. Nothing to do but drop weapons and raise hands..

And with that, Dan had to concede defeat. The Lightning Storm squad (suppressed), the surviving members of the Mystic bodyguard and the immobilised form of the Colossus were all that remained, whereas most of the Allied infantry fireteams were still intact, along with the Dreadnaught squad an M113 and an M60.

It was a close one, and props once again for Dan for being a hard but fair opponent, but the Atlantic Alliance held just long enough and got just lucky enough to pull this one off. But it could so easily have gone differently….

Conclusions:

The Holy Soviet Army:

CURSES! I’m starting to feel like the Jervis Johnson to Jim’s Andy Chambers (’90’s White Dwarf readers will know what I’m on about). I could blame the dice, but we both had good and bad luck – yes, I lost the initiative each turn, but that’s how the Soviets roll.. big and slow, but when they get you you’re in trouble!

Where did I go wrong… I think my big mistake was not holding Elektra and Inferna back (and the Shock Drones too) until my infantry were ready to close assault, if I’d have concentrated them together that would have enabled me to break through the gulley and slaughter those capitalist running dogs. Instead I let them get destroyed piecemeal going after targets of opportunity. Next time, next time… Other than that, the lads all gave a good account of themselves, particularly my SU-152, and Stompy Uncle Joe – two Silverbugs in one turn!

So, enjoy a well won victory, Jim lad – because next time it’s going to be the clenched fist of Holy Soviet fury,  infantry and tanks and Siberians and drones all in one go, let’s see how you imperialists like that!

Atlantic Alliance:

On paper, it looks like a pretty respectable victory – I still had a coherent force of infantry and vehicles to hunt down any Soviet survivors while Dan was reduced to a few scattered survivors but it could so easily have gone differently. Had we not won the initiative on the last turn, that Rampager would have got into the Alliance rear areas and caught everyone out in the open, slaughtering them. Once that was out of the game, we were safe, and when my last running M113 captured his rifle squad, that was it.

The Silverbugs were a bit of a disappointment, clearly rather more vulnerable than I’d thought they were going to be! Lightning Launchers are clearly very effective anti-air weapons, so Stompy Uncle Joe will have to be dealt with by other means in future. I also had a weird time trying to get the infantry into a place where they could accomplish something without being fried, so most of them spent the battle hiding behind the gulley. Maybe a freak of terrain placement, we’ll see what happens next time!

Meantime, we’re planning a scenario game based on Operation IRON HEART – those of you familiar with the fluff will know that this was the moment when the Atlantic Alliance entered the Great War – as the Holy Soviet Army crashed into northern Germany, the 1st (Allied) Air Cavalry Division mounted a heli- and saucer-borne attack into a large Soviet logistics base near the German coastline on February 14th, 1954.

If you want to get in on the action, pick up a copy of the rules here or click below:

 

Detail page of Apocalypse: Earth Miniature Wargame Rulebook
Apocalypse: Earth Miniature Wargame Rulebook
£5.99

 

 

And we’ll leave you with this rather haunting shot showing the blast markers we made (thanks for the tutorial, The Terrain Tutor)!

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Stay tuned, stay thrifty, we’ll see you again soon!

Apocalypse: Earth Battle Report :The Battle Of Kubica Pass (Pt. 1: Deployment & Strategy)

Buffalo 2-7 patrolled into the deep dark wood.

They deployed into cover and the cover was good.

Up on point was stealth sniper team Ghost 7.

They counted Soviet tanks, all the way up to 11.

But then something mighty shook the ground below –

Oh Help! Oh No! It’s Stompy Uncle Joe!

Stompy Uncle Joe? Who’s Stompy Uncle Joe?

Stompy Uncle Joe? Why, didn’t you know?

He’s fifty feet tall, with a terrible roar

And a terrible flamethrower on his terrible claw

He can fire lightning into the air – his antiaircraft machine guns have our Rocketeers scared!

Where his he headed? He’s on our left flank – 

AND HIS FAVOURITE FOOD IS CENTURION TANK!!!!!

(thank you Julia Donaldson)

It’s time.

New board. New terrain. New and improved armies. After a summer of repainting and terrain building, Dan and I are champing at the bit to get this game underway and try out all our new toys, and this is going to be a BIG post. So big, in fact, we’ve decided to split it into two parts. This week, we’ll cover the army lists, deployment and strategies, and once the dust has settled and the empties cleared away, we’ll take a look at how the battle unfolded.

We decided to flip the narrative for once – the Atlantic Alliance would be the attacking party, striking deep into formerly Polish territory to try and secure the strategically vital village of Kubica Pass (yes, named for the racing driver.. we’re both rooting for you and hope to see you back on the F1 grid in 2018!) while the Holy Soviet Army would be trying to hold them back and protect this newly acquired slice of Motherland.

There were six objectives on the board, each worth 30VPs each – the central gulley and various hills and buildings around the battlefield. We reckoned each force chimed in at roughly 3000 points, so it should give us a good balance of manoeuvre and flat out slaughter!

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The board (Soviets nearest the bottom) – objective 1 just out of shot extreme left Soviet flank, objective 2 the rocky hill next to it, objective 3 the central gulley, objective 4 the ruined department store to it’s right, objective 5 the hill near the Allies, objective 6 the ruined church

Army Lists:

Holy Soviet Army – Task Force Polikarpov, 63rd Guards Tank Division

Command  –

Platoon Headquarters : Lt, Commissar, RTO, Standard Bearer, 3 x Riflemen

Line

Rifle Squad (No. 1)

Rifle Squad (No. 2)

Rifle Squad (No. 3) – Flamethrower replaces Light Machine Gun

Heavy Weapon Squad (No. 4) – reinforced with Lightning Launcher

Support

Strong Men (Sil’nyye muzhchiny) Close Assault Squad

Lightning Storm (Ataka grozy) Attack Squad

Artillery Observation Team

Special –

Noble Sniper (Blagorodnyy Snayper)

Holy Mystic (Svyataya Misticheskaya) & Entourage

Vehicles

T-48 Platoon (4 x T-48 including 1 command tank)

SU-152 Assault Gun

IS-6 Rampager

“Inferna” variant T-48

“Elektra” variant T-48

Kolossus Super Heavy Mech

Shock Drone section (2x Shock Drones)

 

Atlantic Alliance – Buffalo 2-7, VII Corps

Command  –

Platoon Headquarters : Lt, Platoon Sergeant, RTO, Medic

Line (each squad split into 2-man fireteams)

Rifle Squad (Alfa)

Rifle Squad (Bravo) + M85 support bot w/ assault saw, flamethrower

Missile Squad (Charlie) + M85 support ‘bot w/ Stinger/TOW launcher

Light Machinegun Squad (Delta) + M85 support ‘bot w/ LMG & HMG

Support

Dreadnaught power armoured infantry

Rocketeer squad (Warhawk 4-9)

Stealth squad (Ghost 7)

 

Vehicles

M60A3 Platoon (3 x M60A3 including 1 command tank)

M42 Stealth Tank

Humvee – Minigun

Humvee – Railgun, targeter

Humvee – Stinger/TOW launcher

M113 – HMG, 2x LMG

M113 – Light Autocannon, 2x LMG

M113 – Automatic Grenade Launcher, 2 x LMG

Avrocar squadron – 2 x Avrocar Silverbugs w/ 2x Stinger/TOW launchers, targeter and Avenger cannon

Pregame – 

Soviets:

Trying to read the terrain to best advantage, I stuck the SU-152 on the far left with the Artillery Observation team, with the intent of capturing and securing Objective 1, which looked safe enough and would also function well as a firebase with cover and plenty of views over the battlefield. Over on the right, I anchored the superheavies – the IS-6 Rampager and Stompy Uncle Joe, the Colossus, as they could command the open ground and the layout of the village streets gave the Rampager crew a nice field of fire for their twin 140mm cannons…

Objective 2 looked within reach and would provide a nice firebase, so I earmarked No. 4 (Support) squad to take that, and they would be led over the top by the T-48 platoon as I suspected we  might see some allied vehicle activity in that area of the table. Once it was secure, No. 4 squad could sit on 30 VPs of territory, sweep the board with heavy machinegun fire and lightning blasts, as well as dropping mortars wherever we felt like.

Objective 5 looked safely in the Allied zone so I decided to focus on 3 and 4 – this would be the main body of the infantry assault who would use the buildings for cover and get close enough to flush out any deployed Allied infantry with Molotov cocktails and vodka fuelled violence! I deployed the Siberians, Elektra and Inferna to support the HQ and squads 1, 2 & 3 in the centre. This would be my hammer blow, and the Shock Drones went with them to soften up anything foolish enough to get in their way.

By this point I was running out of space in my deployment zone! Vasily the sniper took up position in the ruined tenement block and the Lightnng Storm squad took Uncle Joe’s back as these slow moving but rugged troops would cause carnage when they got in range.. finally, the Holy Mystic and his bodyguard found themselves a nice little ruined shop to take refuge in and plot their evil deeds…

The stage was set. Za Rodina!

Atlantic Alliance:

I found myself with a bit of a mental block trying to form a plan, so I decided to deploy my most powerful assets first and build around them. First up was the flight of Avrocar Silverbug gunships – these chaps packed a pair of Stinger/TOW launchers each as well as a potent rapid fire Avenger cannon (essentially an A-10 in B-movie sci-fi clothing). I stuck them out on the far left where I could see the opportunity to pull off a flanking manouevre and quickly secure Objective 6.

The Stealth Tank simply HAD to go in the woods where he would best be able to utilise his ability to transform into a tree, so that solved that conundrum, and I decided that since that looked like a good area of tank country, most of my anti-tank units would go there – Charlie Squad, two of the Humvees and the Dreadnaughts all took position.

The Rocketeers would be a mobile fire brigade, so I kept them fairly central with the intent of having them close up and slaughter vulnerable Soviet infantry, and hopefully the Mystic, and the main grunt of the armour went where I figured the Soviet armour wouldn’t be – the Holy Soviet Empire has little conventional antitank capability, preferring to drown the enemy in T-48s and if that fails get their Mystic to start chucking tanks around like tennis balls. This meand that if you catch them out, they have no answer to the powerful Allied main battle tank. So, 3 M60A3s and 3 M113s formed the central punch, supported by Alfa, Bravo and Delta squads, as well as platoon HQ in order to ensure unit coherency. We would punch through the gulley and secure Objective 3, maybe 4 too. Ghost 7 deployed forward onto Objective 5, the craggy hilltop giving a fine view of the battlefield.

That was the plan. Now to see if the enemy would co operate…

 

 

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Soviet right flank – superheavies take position amongst the ruins
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Left to right in the Soviet centre – Siberians (behind the building), Elektra, Inferna, rifle squads, BTR -152 APC
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T-48 platoon and No. 4 Squad ready to take Objective 2
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SU-152 surveys the scene – it’s first deployment, the crew rueing the fate of all newly painted models…
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The Red Horde!
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Allied right flank – M42 Stealth Tank, Dreadnaught Squad, anti-tank missile and railgun equipped Humvees, Rocketeers and M85 combat support ‘bot
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Air Cav! Rocketeers at the ready
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The Allied centre, deployed in the woods behind Objective 3 – M60A3 Centurions, M113s, grunts and ‘bots
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Charlie squad survey the target rich environment
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Allied left flank – Avrocar Silverbug gunships anchor the far left, then Alfa and Bravo squads with associated support ‘bot
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Silverbug gunship flight.. How will these lads fare in their first battle?
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Noble Sniper Vasily takes position on the tenement block
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His opposite number, Ghost 7, deploy forward onto Objective 5
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Siberian Strong Men lick their lips at the scent of so much decadent capitalist blood to spill.. but will they make it to the fight this time?

Next time out – battle is joined! How will all our new toys acquit themselves? Stay tuned, stay thrifty, see you soon 😉

40K Freebies!!!!!!

So, Jim is mired in a big painting project and has given me the keys to the blog this month – and it’s only right and proper that we give a shout out to the game we fell in love with many years ago  when the world was a more innocent place.. when Donald Trump was making pizza adverts and tweeting was an activity reserved for thrushes and a mobile phone was one that you had fitted to your car..

Anyway, we caught the tail end of the Rogue Trader era and the lovable crazy amateurishness of it, and we were both sold the (by the standards of the day) shiny and slick 2nd Ed.. now many, many, many years have passed and we are now onto the 8th edition of that “bloody waste of time” as our parents described it! After coming in for much criticism in recent years, dear old Games Workshop really seem to be trying a reset, slimming down and substantially modifying the rules for 8th and best of all? They’ve got them online for free

Seriously.

40k for FREE!!!

Obviously, it’s just the sketch out version to get you going, but you know what? That’s just fine. I’d love the Dark Imperium box set, but it’s £95. £95!!! For toy soldiers!! I have a kid – this is not a luxury I can justify.

Don’t get me wring, this is not an anti-GW pricing rant – lord knows there are enough of them – but a simple objective analysis that for alot of people, £95 (or £47.50, if you’re splitting the box with a mate) is a bloody hell of a lot of money. An awful lot of people don’t have that to spare.

“Aha”, you say, “but what about the quality, the sculpts, the IP, the design etc…” – to which I say fair enough. GW stuff is pretty darn nice, and I love the fluff at 37 just as much as I did at 12, but just as I couldn’t afford it on a paper round, I can’t afford it on a warehouse job with a kid to look after. And I get the fact that they have to make a profit, or it’s game over and no 40k for anyone. I’m not questioning whether it’s a good deal – £15000 for a Ferrari Testarossa is a good deal, but since I don’t have the £15000 it’s irrelevant.

So, hats off to GW for giving me and Jim a chance to play the newest version of the game that nicked our childhoods with an entry fee of £0. If either of us win the lottery, we’ll be sure to buy a f**kload of your minis to play it with – but in the meantime, we’ll be taking the DIY route. Thanks for opening that back up to us.

Now, pass me a deodorant bottle and some plastic spoons – I’ve got a grav-attack vehicle to make….

Hyperian Wars – 1/72 Steampunk / Fantasy

It’s been a busy month here at Skinflint HQ as we’ve been knocking together armies for Apocalypse: Earth‘s sister game, provisionally entitled Hyperian Wars…

In typical SG style, this came about as we were perusing a box of “miscellaneous” 1/72 soldiers bought off eBay and pondering what to do with the Napoleonic and WW1 troops. A few hours and a good many beers later the concept of a steampunk fantasy world driven by sorcery, featuring some analogues of human societies in real life and A: E, as well as your standard orc/ elf/ goblin fantasy types.. but with a bit of a twist. Hyperian society is dependant on Vril, the magickal life giving element that allows magic-tech to function, but the political situation is deteriorating rapidly as the world nears Peak Vril.. Dwarves ready their fortresses, Elves deploy Enchantments Of Mass Destruction and as the wards deployed at mining sites begin to fail the Terrors of the Dead begin to escape. The clock on mankind’s new home begins to tick perilously close to midnight..

Anyway, enough of the fluff – let’s look at some toy soldiers!

The first crop are the Grand Army of the Ancien Regime – an empire centred on the planets massive central continent. These are your basic sword, sorcery, musket ‘n’ cannon types, bolstered by rudimentary armour.

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Cavalry Squadron – Napoleonic Franch troops by Airfix (pretty much everything here is Airfix, actually). These were a bitch to paint, but quite rewarding in the end.
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Squadron commander – I’ll probably pop him with the overall command group as he doesn’t exactly fit the charging cavalry aesthetic!
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Casualty figure – I may use him as an objective marker
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Armoured support – this is a papercraft A7v from Landships II, I love that site!
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The grunts! Airfix Waterloo Prussians – detailed here
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Commander and standard bearers

And now for the OPFOR – Sky Marines of the Grand Alliance, a loose coalition of islands and floating cities based in the oceans of the western hemisphere.

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Basically an infantry platoon supported by a Skycutter..

The ASV Dauntless! Essentially a Skycutter is a mix of floating tank and slow moving steampunk helicopter gunship, mounting missiles, cannon and fearsome Vrilfire thrower.. although ferocious, she can be fragile as her power fields are easily stripped away by concentrated rifle fire. Should be interesting to field her in the game.

Basically, she’s half a toilet roll tube, the dispenser nozzle from a box of wine, a LOT of cardboard, greenstuff and junk and a Royal Flying Corps influenced paintjob. Lots of fun to build, although I’m sure there’s room for improvement.

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With crew – signaller and gunners, spotter just out of shot
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Command group – signaller, mortar team, spotter, officer and riflemen

Grunts – Airfix WW1 Brits. These guys will be joined by “Artificials” – WW1 style robots providing fire support and force protection.

We’re looking forward to getting our first game in next month, should be fun!

Thoughts on #TheBigGame

So we rolled out with everything a couple of weeks back, testing out the new Rampager, Elektra, Inferna and Siberian units on the Holy Soviet Empire side, and letting the Atlantic Alliance give their M85 Autonomous Combat Platforms and M60A3 Centurion squadron a maiden airing. The full after action report will be published in our new (free, digital, available for download here and Wargames Vault)) magazine just as soon as we can get it all written up, photographed and DTP’d, but meantime there are a few fine tuning details we can take away from what was a hard fought, close run and hugely fun game!

Dan, your snipers are way too expensive.L’il ol’ Vasily accomplished precisely squat despite being twice the cost of a rifle squad! Yes he’s hard to hit, but what’s the point of he just sits there? I suggest we halve his points cost and give him an “Infiltrate” skill to ensure he can deploy somewhere he can get shooting straight away. For fairness, we should give my Ghost 7 team the same skill, of course!

Spotting for indirect fire – let’s clear this up. For off table support, I think we can let that be targeted anywhere (“Sir, Zaplinsky reports enemy tanks on the ridgeline!”) but for on-table indirect fire such as mortars,someone in the squad needs to be able to see the target (“Rogers, shift your fire, 10 meters bearing five two!”). Although it pains me to say it after what happened to my HQ, “speculative fire” actually does make sense – “Drop a few rounds behind those bunkers, Corporal, lets flush out anything that might be hiding” – so after much soul searching I’m turned around on this one.

Objectives – For all  the fun, the game still turned into a bit of a kill-point-slug-fest by the end. I suggest making each objective 45 vps rather than 40. It still means a bit of a scuffle in smaller games (you can’t win a 500pt match without some shots being fired) but it does encourage more manueuvre. As we saw, you can’t really capture all 4 objectives in a 2000pt game anyway unless the other guy collapses so there’ll still be plenty of carnage!

This is actually a positive but I loved the way the tank fights played out! LOTS of maneuvering to get a better shot through weaker armour, the open spaces on the table east edge were a whirling knife fight between my M60s and Dan’s T-48 and Rampager!

Thoughts, gentlemen?