Sunday, November 13, 2016

Blast From the Past

There's a lot of love in the community for Cold War gaming at the moment, brought on by the huge success of Battlefront's "Team Yankee". Which is just great, because it's always been my first love too.

However, it seems I've suffered complete relapse to the 80s. So much so that I just picked up a copy of this baby on eBay!!:

Lots of supplements too!

Twilight 2000 was one of my favourite ways to spend some hours with some of my mates at school in the late 80s. It had it all; military action and adventure in a post-apocalyptic Europe (and in later modules, US). Role playing, and up to skirmish-level when gaming small unit actions.

Not sure what I'm going to do with it (I don't know if I'd be able to find anyone to play?), but the nostalgia value alone makes it worth it!!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

(More) Modern 6mm US for Team Yankee

Following the theme of other recent posts, I have also picked up some 6mm GHQ US forces on eBay that I plan to use for "Team Yankee".

Some of the minis were brand new and some were used and requiring re-painting. First I picked up a new GHQ "US Mechanized Infantry Combat Command" comprising 14x M2s, some HMMWVs (3), some Trucks (3), an M577 Command vehicle, a M113A3, and a M113A1. I also picked up a lot of 11x M1s second hand (one had a gun barrel that broke off leaving me with 10, although I'll try and repair the broken one at some stage...).

The second hand M1s in need of a touch up

These troops would be added to my existing Team Yankee forces, so I decided to paint them in the distinctive MERDC camo scheme on the '80s.

Base colour was Vallejo 'US Olive Drab' Primer. Then Vallejo 'Tan Yellow' for the Brown camo areas. Finally Vallejo 'German Grey' and Vallejo 'Deck Tan' for the black and camo stripes respectively.

This photo makes them look like they need a little matt varnish,
but they're actually ok in the flesh.

M2 Bradleys - Love these GHQ models, they're super detailed.

A decent sized starting force for Team Yankee,
and a good foundation for a larger force for other rules systems (eg. Fistful of TOWs)

Close up of the M1s

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Reconditioned 6mm Modern Germans

Similar to my last blog post, Over the course of a couple of eBay wins, I have ended up with a good sized modern German force.

The base of my force was a GHQ Modern German 'Combat Command' box. Like other GHQ Combat Commands, this is a great starter core force for 1:1 gaming (like "Team Yankee"). It contains enough miniatures to field a company combat-team group; 8x Marder IFVs, 4x Leopard IIs, 3x Luchs, 3x Fuchs, 3x Jaguars, 2x Iltis 4x4 vehicles, 2x PzMorser M113s, and 40-odd individual Infantry. This box was brand new, so there was no need for re-painting - I just had to paint them from scratch.

Added to this, I was lucky enough to pick up another lot of 22x Marder IFVs, and another one of 10x Leopard IIs and a single Gepard SP AA system. Between these purchases I have enough for a fairly large German force for 6mm gaming; a mixed PzGren Battalion with two Companies of Infantry in Marders, and a full Leopard II Company. Plus supporting platoons of Jaguars (3), Luchs (3), Fuchs (3). With only 2x PzMorser providing Mortar support and one Gepard providing AA support, I need to pick up some more Mortars and Gepards at some stage. Also probably some M109s and Roland SAMs, but that can wait.

Moving on to painting...

The lot of second hand Marders  I got were painted dark green with brown spots and would need re-painting. The Leopard IIs were painted in plain German 'GelbOlive' (Olive Green) - fine for early to mid 80's, but I wanted to target my force for mid to late 80s 'Team Yankee' gaming under the new "Leopard" supplement.

The paint job on the Marders as purchased
I therefore decided to repaint my entire force in one coherent paint scheme, using the NATO 3-colour camo scheme introduced from the mid '80s. The Battlefront website very conveniently provides a NATO 3-colour camo template to copy for all the various German vehicles (

Using the NATO 3-colour scheme has the added advantage that my Germans can continue to be used in the same colours right up until current day. And at some stage I can supplement or substitute parts of the force with some of the more modern vehicles all in the same scheme (for example the Leopard IIA4s soon to be released by GHQ, and Leopard IIA6s, Puma IFVs, and Boxer APCs and IFVs already in the GHQ range).

I base-coated all the vehicles in 'NATO Green' Vallejo primer. For the already painted vehicles I didn't even bother stripping - I just painted over the top. I then heavily dry-brushed with Vallejo 'German Cam Bright Green', to provide a suitable brighter, lighter green base coat.

I then painted the brown camouflage areas with Vallejo 'Brown Sand' and the black areas with Vallejo 'German Grey'.

As per my usual process, I then gave them all a quick drybrush of Vallejo 'Yellow Ochre' to highlight details and unify the camo colours somewhat. This was followed with an Army Painter 'Soft Tone' ink wash, providing shading and bringing out further detail. Finally, some details on MGs, Tracks, Wheels etc and the models were done.

I'm very happy with how the minis turned out. Even the re-painted vehicles don't seem to have any detail obscured by multiple layers of paint. And the force looks coherent and tied in together. I can't wait to get them onto the gaming table!

The entire German Force (the infantry still need basing)

Close up of Leopard IIs and Marders

Even closer view of Leopard IIs

Slightly different angle

Marder close up

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Re-conditioned eBay 6mm Russians

I have been adding to my 6mm collection over the past few months through eBay purchases. I've found some good 'bargain' pick ups, and have also ended up with some 'odds and ends' (that perhaps I wouldn't normally buy new) as part of 'package deals'. On reflection, this is a good thing as my collection has grown more organically and in some unexpected directions. The odds and ends are pretty useful to throw into eclectic third world forces, or just provide some variety for more main-stream forces.

One of my recent pick ups was a lot of 37x GHQ T-80Us - an instant tank battalion! The price was right, but the paint scheme was not really to my liking so I bought them with the intent of repainting. Photos are below of the original scheme - a very dark green, with very light greenish-grey camo spots. No higlighting or shading.

The T-80U Battalion - original colours
Close up view of the colours

And a closer view. The paint was a little thick and shiny for my liking as well.

Repainting, however, turned out to be very much easier than I expected. The base-coating was already done for me, and the very dark and very light contrasting colours provided a good basis for a couple of simple further steps.

A quick dry brush of Vallejo 'Yellow Ochre' highlighted the details and unified the two contrasting camo colours somewhat. Already a great improvement.

A quick dry brush starts to bring the scheme together more, and bring out detail.

This was followed with an Army Painter 'Soft Tone' ink wash, providing shading and bringing out further detail. This made even more of an improvement - I have become a massive fan of the Army Painter inks.

After an Ink Wash, they're looking very nice and the details are really brought out.

I'm pretty pleased with the final effect and think the camo scheme looks pretty cool. I'm probably going to paint some other vehicles in the same scheme, to put in the same unit as supports (BMPs etc.)

Close up view of the re-touched tanks.
Pretty quick work to churn out a battalion when they're already base-coated
and all you need to do is a dry brush and wash!

Friday, September 23, 2016

6mm Aussies

The blog has had a bit of a hiatus recently, but I have been busy painting!

I've been working on some more 6mm stuff, both for the Cold War period and also ultra-modern period for our 6mm African Imagi-Nations gaming. Below is some miniatures for the latter - they are some 6mm Australian forces to intervene (as part of a coalition of course!) in our fictional African conflict.

As a starting point, I've painted 15 each (because they come in packs of 5) of: ASLAV (Aussie version of LAV-25), Bushmaster PMV (Aussie MRAP equivalent), M113AS4 (Aussie modernised and lengthened M113), M1A1 AIM SA (the Aussie variant of M1A1), and Boxer IFV (IFV version of the German Boxer APC).

This last one (Boxer IFV) was included because it is one of the two vehicles down-selected this year to progress to field trials for the "Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle, CRV" requirement for the Australian army, to replace the ASLAV (the other vehicle is the Patria AMV, fitted with CV-9035 turret). But since only the Boxer IFV model is available (it was just released last month by GHQ incidentally), it made the cut by default into my fictional Aussie force. It's a great model and really looks the part too! Pics are below:

Bushmaster PMV



Boxer IFV (future CRV?)

The Oz collection to date

Infantry is next!!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Review: Oddzial Osmy Ultra-Modern Israelis

I recently painted up some of the newest releases from Oddzial Osmy (O8) received via my trusty suppliers in the US, PicoArmor, and all I can say is "WOW"!!

I've mentioned before that Marcin's sculpts (from O8) keep improving with each new release. True to form, the releases of the latest 'ultra-modern' Israeli vehicles are probably the best 1/600 miniatures produced by O8 to date.

All of these have been on my "wish-list" for several years. I periodically post this wish-list to the 3mm Miniatures Yahoo Group, The Miniatures Page, and other forums. I can't say whether Marcin actually takes note of these posts or not, but either way his latest wave of releases are just fantastic and have made me a happy gamer!

The detail on these little models is simply staggering. Some pictures are below. Remember, these are 3mm (1/600 scale) miniatures, and they are as well sculpted and detailed as the best 6mm miniatures (1/285 or 1/300 scale). Amazing.

Merkava III MBT

This is a very nice model of one of my favourite tanks, modernising the earlier Merkava I and IIs. The details are very crisp and nicely defined - it's a great looking model. These MBTs make up the majority of the Israeli inventry these days (although Merkava IVs are being introduced progressively) and featured in many of the Israeli's latest campaigns.

To learn more on the Merkava III, go to:
Wikipedia: Merkava

Achzarit Heavy APC

This is a heavy APC based on the T-55 Chassis. The Israelis captured plenty of these in the 1967 and 1973 wars and have put them to good use by removing the turrets and converting them into an APC with the same mobility and protection as an MBT. This vehicle was among the first of the heavy APCs, and was the fore runner to the Namer (see below).

To learn more about the Achzarit, go to:
Wikipedia: Achzarit

Merkava IV MBT

Latest generation of the Merkava. This tank has it all - good armour, good gun, active protection system, gun-launched ATGM, etc. I can't wait to try this out on the gaming table! As for the model, well it's superb...

To learn more on the Merkava IV, go to:
Wikipedia: Merkava

Namer Heavy APC

I've saved maybe the best for last. The Namer is a heavy APC based on the Merkava IV chassis, and again it's one of my favourite vehicles. Modifications to the Merkava include removal of the turret to free up room for some Infantry in the back, and addition of a Remote Weapon Station and Active Protection System. The result is probably the most formidable APC in the world. It's certainly the most protected transport for the dismounts it carries!

To learn more about the Namer, go to:
Wikipedia: Namer

I'm currently looking at some scenarios in which I can use these beasts. The obvious ones are historical scenarios based on the Israeli campaigns into Lebanon and Gaza over the past 10 years. This would give me an opportunity to try out the 'Insurgents' house rules I devised for Fistful of TOWs (available on my 'House Rules' link on this blog). Should be interesting.

A less obvious option, but one I've had an itch to do for a while, is a fictional 'refight' of the 1967 or 1973 battles in the Sinai between Israel and Egypt. The concept is that I'd use the same situations and units, but with updated equipment. For example, Egyptian M1A1s taking on Israeli Merkava IIIs and IVs. This could be a very interesting 'what-if' clash, enabling the gamer to test out latest generation 'western' style MBTs against each other. It may not be that plausible, but is still a good excuse to test the equipment on the tabletop in a hypothetical situation.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Border Clash!

Tony and I had our first game in our African Imagi-Nations setting last night.

The battle took place in the disputed province of Zumbura, on the border between the Republic of Zumbanda and the Democratic Republic of Buranda. The Zumburan tribal lands have long been claimed by both Zumbanda and Buranda, and Zumbanda's proxies in the province (which is currently under notional Burandan control) are the 'Central African People's Liberation Army' (CAPLA), supported by their Cuban advisors.

The battle was an encounter between a reinforced company of Buranda government troops, and a reinforced company group of CAPLA rebels.

My force is the Burandans. Buranda is a former French colony, and the young democratic country still maintains close ties with France. On the military side, the Burandans are equipped largely with French equipment, but they do also have equipment from some others. The force in this encounter comprised:
  • Infantry company of 9x Squads, mounted in Casspir APCs (these are 4x4 protected vehicles of South African origin - used because I like the look of them!);
  • 2x 120mm Mortar Squads, mounted in Casspir APC;
  • Platoon of 4x AMX-30 MBTs;
  • Platoon of 4x AMX-13 light tanks; and
  • Recon Platoon of 5x AML H-90 Armoured Cars
The Burandans are all rated 'Fair' under the FFT rules, with Artillery accuracy of '5'.

Tony's force was the CAPLA. These are a rebel group, based in neighbouring Zumbanda (a socialist republic, and cold war Soviet ally). Zumbanda foments rebellion in the border regions of Buranda, trying to force the disputed border province of Zumbura to break away and join Zumbanda. CAPLA are based out of training camps in Zumbanda, and have the assistance of Cuban and Zumbandan advisors. Additionally, CAPLA has a respectable level of support in the Zumburan tribal lands, and receives assistance from these supporters. The group involved in this border incursion was a substantial one:
  • Infantry company of 9x Squads, mounted in BTR-152s;
  • 2x Tank Platoons, each of 3x T-54Bs;
  • Recon Platoon of 3x PT-76 light tanks; and
  • Recon Platoon of 3x BRDM-2 Armoured Cars.
CAPLA are rated 'Fair' under the FFT rules, with Artillery accuracy of '5'.

We played the 'Encounter Battle' scenario from the FFT rulebook. In this scenario, both sides deploy using 'Moving Deployment' (ie. from off table), and earn Victory Points for each unit exited off their opponent's table edge.

Overview of the battlefield looking S to N.
Sparse woods, with a couple of small villages in the centre, and some impassable
rocky outcroppings. Dirt roads connect the villages and run through the area.
The Burandans got the first turn. At top of picture can be seen
the majority of the Burandan force entering the battlefield.

Burandan AMX-13s move up to cover the S of the advance.
This picture shows fairly well the colour of the battlefield covering itself.
This is a terrain cloth from the Cigar Box Battles company.
I spotted this and bought it recently at the Little Wars Melbourne show.
since whilst it's a green matt, it is more yellow and dappled than other matts I've seen,
so I thought it would be quite suitable for temperate and arid Africa.
I have another 'Desert' matt from Cigar Box Battles for battles occurring in more arid areas still.

The Burandan Infantry move up on the N flank.
Two platoons of Infantry in their Casspirs move forward in line abreast cross country (on the L).
The Mortar sections in their APC follow.
The AMX-30 Platoon and the third platoon of Infantry advance in column on road (on the R).

View from the front of the Burandan column - AMX-30s lead.
Burandan vehicles are painted a simple tan colour,
which suffices for camouflage in the arid north of the country.

Buradan AMX-30s and Casspir APCs.

Casspirs advance in line-abreast.

The CAPLA forces advance. The PT-76 platoon moves up behind a village, in the centre.
The buildings were supplied by Tony. They are card buildings, and I think they look quite good.

CAPLA Infantry in their BTR-152s advance in line through the sparse woods on the S flank.

Close up of CAPLA PT-76s. Note the CAPLA three-tone green camo scheme.

CAPLA troops in the centre (bottom of picture) and further N (top of picture).
From bottom to top: BRDM-2s, T-54B Platoon, and a platoon of infantry in BTR-152s.

CAPLA T-54Bs survey the terrain for targets.

The AMX-13s move up to the edge of the woods, to cover the S direction.

Burandan Armoured Cars seize the village and cross-roads in the centre of the battlefield.

The main element of the Burandan force moves up in the N.
The AMX-30s spread out and find cover from which to engage any advancing CAPLA.

The Burandan 120mm mortar sections dismount behind the woods
to provide some indirect fore support.

View of the Burandan forces shaking out int formation in the N.
A couple of the Rocky outcrops provided by Tony can be seen here -
these are made from pieces of 'tan-bark', painted up in grey. I think they look very effective!

View from behind the Mortars.
The figures are actually from GHQ's US Vietnam War Infantry Support Weapons.
Painted in Tan uniforms, and with African skintones, I think they look pretty good
as 3rd world 'western' type troops in older kit...

The CAPLA troops move into view and range of the Burandan AMX-30s.

And the PT-76s move into view of the Burandan ACs in the centre.
These French Armoured Cars are lighly armoured but have very decent 90mm guns on them.
Their range and penetration are sufficient to trouble most MBTs, let alone light tanks like PT-76s!

CAPLA T-54s and BRDM-2s move up in the centre.

In the S, the CAPLA Infantry dismount from their BTR-152s and sweep forward in the woods.

A long range HEAT shot from the PT-76s takes out a Burandan Armoured Car!

The tanks exchange fire. In the foreground, a Burandan AMX-30 is brewed up,
but also manages to get a CAPLA T-54 (the Burandan tanks were on "Hold Fire" orders,
so fire in the CAPLA fire phase is simultaneous).

A slightly wider view of the action.
The remaining AMX-30s are careful to find what cover they can.

The Burandan 120mm mortars lay smoke in front of the T-54s.
This is useful for the Burandans, since the AMX-30s have Thermal Imagers
and can shoot through the smoke (albeit degraded),
whereas the T-54s lack TI and therefore the smoke blocks their LOS.
The AMX-30s find themselves good fire positions in cover.

The Burandan infantry dismount their APCs and move forward towards the fight!

Burandan infantry make the most of cover where possible.
The Burandan Infantry are GHQ US Vietnam War Infantry, in Tan uniforms.
The old-school steel pot helmets look the part for 3rd world regulars... 

The AMX-13s are hidden in the treeline on overwatch.
But they hold their fire, until the CAPLA infantry get closer.
The CAPLA infantry can be seen on the edge of the opposite treeline (top of picture).

Burandan Infantry move forward. The AMX-30s cover them to the front.
Casspirs are thinly armoured and poorly armed (MG only), so remain safely in the rear.

A Burandan squad on the far N flank gets spotted and engaged by the T-54 in the distance.
They are hit and required to take a Quality Check (QC - yellow marker).
They fail the QC ('Fair' troops need a '6' to pass!), and dissapear into the undergrowth for the remainder of the battle.

CAPLA and Burandan tanks exchange fire, with the superior Burandan guns winning out.
Another T-54 goes up in smoke.
Also seen on right of the picture is a Pin marker in amongst the (now dismounted) CAPLA infantry.
This is from indirect fire from the Burandan 120mm Mortars, which suppressed two squads,
along with their (open-topped) BTR-152s)

Burandan Infantry creep up through the trees on the N flank,
and fire a MAW (they have RPG-16s) at a T-54,
causing a QC which it subsequently failed. Another tank down!

Overview of the Burandan advance.
Infantry occupy the wooded areas, and the Casspirs all pull back into a 'Zulu-muster'.

Another view of the Burandan infantry, showing them in the treelines.

After a bit of a stand off and some inconsequential fire exchanges
in the centre, the PT-76s move forward.

Both the Buranda and CAPLA infantry move forward and face off.

The CAPLA infantry can be seen in the woods at top of picture.

The AMX-13s call in the mortars against CAPLA infantry in the treeline in the S.
They pin one squad only, since the CAPLA troops have been listening to their Cuban advisors,
and have maintained decent spacing.

Bad mistake for the PT-76s to break cover and move forward.
The 90mm guns on the Burandan ACs rip through the thin armour of the PT-76s,
destroying the whole platoon in one volley!

This photo shows the aftermath of a Burandan combined arms assault.
The copse of trees in the centre did have a CAPLA infantry squad in it.
One of the AMX-30s suppressed the squad with direct Area Fire (ie. HE), pinning the squad.
The second AMX-30 (up in contact with the copse of trees),
plus a Burandan infantry squad then close-assaulted the CAPLA squad. 
The Burandan infantry was destroyed by defensive small arms fire,
but the AMX-30 destroyed the pinned CAPLA infantry,
then subsequently its BTR-152 (in smoke to the rear). 

The CAPLA troops withdrew at this stage, as the victory was clearly going to Buranda. With the destruction of the PT-76 platoon in the centre, the AMX-13s and ACs had an unopposed route off the table. Likewise, with no more CAPLA tanks on table, the Burandan Infantry and remaining two AMX-30s could drive around the CAPLA infantry and also exit, fulfilling their scenario victory conditions.

We hadn't worked out the specific points values before the game. Instead we just agreed on a rough size ("an infantry company, plus a few platoons of supporting tanks and stuff...") and took it from there. Doing a rough calculation at the end of the game, we worked out that the forces were pretty close in points, but probably with a slight advantage to Buranda. But not intolerably out of balance and commanders have to use what they get! Having said that, with a slight points advantage, it is probably fair that Buranda won.

Some other points on the game:
  • It was really fun!! The setting gives a lot of scope to play around with different forces and equipment.
  • We were happy that the terrain represented what we had pictured for our African setting pretty well. We will add to and develop the terrain as we go along.
  • It was great using some of the older vehicles we hadn't had use of before. Tony said he has had his PT-76 models for about 30 years, and this was finally his excuse to get them out and paint them! Likewise, I had a few packs of cold war French stuff lying around that I'd bought off eBay but never painted up. So this was a perfect opportunity to get them onto the table.
  • I was happy with my simple tan paint scheme for my Burandans. Also the selection of the GHQ Vietnam Infantry to use for the army. Being equipped with 60's-70s era weapons, and having their sleeves rolled up etc really makes them look the part in my opinion. Likewise, I think the three-tone camo on Tony's stuff distinguishes it nicely.
  • The French Armoured Cars are pretty damn cool! With their 90mm guns, they pack a fair bit of punch. They are very vulnerable if fired upon, but if they get the first shot, they can put out some hurt!
  • AMX-30s are pretty good. They lack a bit of armour (especially against HEAT), but their main gun has good range and penetration. A bit like a Leopard I. Other useful things are that they are equipped with TI (very useful), and also their co-axial 20mm cannon! This is great for taking on Infantry, which I found in the assault at the end of the game.
I look forward to seeing some more kit on the table in the future. Maybe some obsolescent aircraft (Alouette helos, or MiG-17s perhaps?), and some more armoured cars and older tank types (I'm picturing some T-34/85s in the hands of Militias, maybe even some upgraded M-4s, T-10s and SU-100s?).

Also some more factions:
  • I'm picturing the main Zumbandan army with Soviet kit, including upgraded T-55MVs (lots of ERA, and look very cool). And maybe some T-72s.
  • Expand my Burandans, with some more vehicle types, and especially with some elite Commando units in Berets (using the GHQ 'Brushfire Warriors' infantry).
  • One I really want to do is a more 'western' themed force with better quality troops and some western equipment - I'm looking at this as a perfect excuse to get all the brilliant new modern Italian vehicles just released by GHQ in the last six months (where else would you use them?!).
  • One of our other gaming mates, John, is putting together a neo-South African force, with Oliphants and the Ratel family of vehicles, so this should be an interesting one on the tabletop.
  • And of course some insurgent/militia types, complete with technicals of verious types.
More to follow!