Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Sahel Conflicts: More Terrorists, Troops, and Civilians

 I'm back with the last of my modern African figures; the storage box is finally full, so there will be no more expansions beyond this and the remaining vehicles on the painting table.

28mm modern African figures for Mali/the Sahel from Eureka, Miska, and Combat Octopus miniatures for Spectre, Bolt Action Modern, and Zona Alpha

Motorcycles seem to be a popular mode of transportation in Mali for various militias and terrorist groups, and I received a few as part of my Miksa Miniatures Kickstarter pledge. They weren't enough to field a full unit, but Eureka Miniatures had a set of Australian SAS soldiers in headscarves that I converted.

28mm modern African insurgents/terrorists from Eureka (Australian SAS conversions) and Miska miniatures

As part of the conversion work, I ordered a Russian weapon sprue from Miniature Building Authority. Unfortunately, they were more 32mm in size and looked huge on the figures, so I had to try and cut them down a bit to make them look more appropriate. In the end, they were still oversized when compared to the Miska AK47, but I think it looked ok overall. Straps for the weapons were made from thin strips of plasticard.  

28mm modern African insurgents/terrorists from Eureka (Australian SAS conversions) and Miska miniatures

One of the stretch goals from the Miska Kickstarter was an insurgent with improvised rockets. I couldn't find any real world photos to help with painting, so used some Hamas rockets as references.

28mm modern African insurgent/terrorist improvised rockets from Miska miniatures

The final items from Miska in this update were a set of civilians. They were slightly taller than the Eureka civilians, but not enough to be distracting.  For clothing, I used some photos of civilians from the Timbuktu as reference.

28mm modern African civilians from Miska miniatures

To complete the civilians, I ordered a few herds of goats from Eureka. Depending on the scenario, they could either be static terrain pieces or join the civilians as moving variables/complications on the battlefield (perhaps with an IED tied to one of them).

28mm modern African goats from Eureka miniatures

Finally, I ordered some African militants off of Etsy that were designed by CombatOctopus. The figures were comparable in size with my other 3D prints, but one odd thing about them was that the head sizes were smaller than the other manufactures. To me, they looked like 25mm heads on 28mm bodies, particularly the heads in caps. However, I think they will be fine on the table. I left them as generic soldiers, and they will either function as poorly equipped Malian soldiers (they have no body armor), mercenaries, or bandits.

28mm modern African militants from Combat Octopus 3D print miniatures

Friday, March 3, 2023

Punic Wars: Refurbishing An Old Carthaginian Army


When I got back into wargaming in the early 2000's (I had previously played Rogue Trader WH40K back in the 1980's), I was really interested in moving from Sci-Fi into historical battles, but had no idea where to start. Poking around various forums in those early interweb days, I saw references to a new Warhammer Ancient Battles (WAB) game that seemed to be all the rage with 28mm players. Given my previous WH40K background, this seemed a natural place to jump in and I managed to track down the rulebook and "Armies of Antiquity." 

After talking with various people online (including a very helpful Allen Curtis, who would go on to write the "Hannibal and the Punic Wars" supplement for WAB), I thought the variety of troops found in a Carthaginian army would make for a fun bit of painting.  With the advice of Allen and others, I assembled my first army from various manufacturers and managed to play a few tournaments at "The Shield" historical conferences in the San Francisco area. Unfortunately the conference shut down (and later Warhammer Historical itself), so without access to other players in my area, my army sat in storage for over 15 years. 

But recently a gaming buddy of mine expressed an interest in playing ancients with the Hail Caesar rules, so I thought it was time to dust off my Carthaginians.  I had about 200 figures painted, and another 200 or so that had never been finished. Given the age of my army and my limited access to paint and other supplies at the time, I figured a makeover was needed to bring them up to more modern standards.

Here is what they looked like out of the storage boxes. The painting was only a two tone affair, decal options were limited, and the steel bases were just green with some added model railroad flock and rocks. While not a complete disaster, there was definitely room for improvement, particularly with the bases.
28mm Punic Wars A&A Carthaginian miniatures for Warhammer Ancient Battles (WAB) and Warlord Games' Hail Caesar

With the large number of figures to process, I had to make a decision of how far down the refurbishment rabbit hole I wanted to go. I went with the following:
  • I would not fully repaint the figures for the most part, but add additional highlights and washes as appropriate. The bare figures would be painted to match using the old color schemes, rather than my new recipes.
  • I would still use some of the old Veni Vidi Vici monotone water slide decals, but would also add in some Little Big Man Studios decals as appropriate for some added pop.
  • Rather than try to break the figures off their old bases and switch them to plastic or MDF,  I would stick with the steel bases for the army. I was also going to leave the base sizes and unit formations as is, rather than adjust them for the Hail Caesar recommendations.
  • The old flock and other basing materials were to be removed.  The bases would be coated with Vallejo ground texture, the rocks better integrated into the ground, and a dusting of light flock and modern grass tufts added.
The first unit through the process was a batch of A&A veteran African spearmen.
28mm Punic Wars A&A Carthaginian miniatures for Warhammer Ancient Battles (WAB) and Warlord Games' Hail Caesar

For this unit, I kept the original VVV shield decals, though added some wash and highlights. Skin and clothing got highlights, and the edges of the linen cuirasses were lightened from black to a sand color.
28mm Punic Wars A&A Carthaginian miniatures for Warhammer Ancient Battles (WAB) and Warlord Games' Hail Caesar

1st Corps African/Libyan Hoplites 
28mm Punic Wars 1st Corps Carthaginian miniatures for Warhammer Ancient Battles (WAB) and Warlord Games' Hail Caesar

These were upgraded in the same manner as the A&A figures. I hadn't painted in the eyes originally (these figures are a bit smaller) and attempted to do so during the refurbishment, but the shield and spears got in the way of my brush. As such I gave up and left the eyes as is. 
28mm Punic Wars 1st Corps Carthaginian miniatures for Warhammer Ancient Battles (WAB) and Warlord Games' Hail Caesar

Wargames Factory Numidian Light Infantry
28mm Punic Wars Wargames Factory Numidian miniatures for Warhammer Ancient Battles (WAB) and Warlord Games' Hail Caesar

I never assembled these plastic figures back in the day, so they were new to my army.  Considering they were one of the very early 28mm historical plastic kits for wargaming, they actually looked pretty good. The kit came with javelins instead of spears, so I replaced them here. Unfortunately, I was out of wire spears and had to use my stockpile of pewter ones.  They are a bit thick as a result, but it got the job done. I trialed the Little Big Man decals on this unit and while the designs were lovely, I had some issues with the edges of the decals bunching up on the convex shields. For the next batch of convex shields, I think I'll try cutting divots out of the edges to see if that helps.
28mm Punic Wars Wargames Factory Numidian miniatures for Warhammer Ancient Battles (WAB) and Warlord Games' Hail Caesar

And here is a bit of a size comparison.  This army was built during the transition from 25mm to 28mm figures, so I had some size discrepancies between the manufacturers. 1st Corps figures were only around 25mm to the eye, while the other two manufactures were 27-28mm.
28mm Punic Wars miniatures: 1st Corps, Wargames Factory, A&A size comparison


I still have a long road ahead of me to finish the rest of the figures, but I'm happy with the initial upgrades and am optimistic that the final army will be looking much better.
The remaining "to do" pile


Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Star Wars Legion: Inferno Squad and IG Assassin Droids

 

Just a small update this time: Inferno Squad with support Imperial Special Forces troops and the IG assassin droids.

All black uniforms can look rather dull and the details can be easily lost, so I did my best to add variation between the materials. Armor was highlighted with dark sea blue and given a satin finish, while  cloth was highlighted dark grey and leather dark brown, with flat finishes for both.

Star Wars Legion Inferno Squad (Imperial Special Forces) miniatures

I'm no expert on Star Wars lore, but it appears that the Inferno Squad was just a select group of operatives, and that only three of the figures in Legion box represented then. As such, only those figures received the red stripe down the right of the uniform and the red helmet markers with the Inferno Squad logo. 

Star Wars Legion Inferno Squad (Imperial Special Forces) miniatures

For the standard Special Forces troopers, most people use white Imperial icons. I didn't want to buy another set of decals (I purchased mine from Little Metal Spaceships; great decals, but poor communication and slow shipping), so opted to use the red imperial icons I had.  Unfortunately, there were none on the sheet that were shoulder patch size, so I used the Inferno Squad insignias rather than leave the spots blank. Hopefully the rest of the uniform differences will still be enough to distinguish them from the true Inferno members om the table.

Star Wars Legion Inferno Squad (Imperial Special Forces) miniatures

For the IG Assassin Droids, I went with IG88 and IG11 for my builds rather than generic. Looking at reference photos, the major differences between them were the metal colors on them: IG88 was mostly steel and black tones, while IG11 had brass and copper tones on its limbs. I also gave them both some grime via washes for a worn look. The kit came with a few different arm and leg variations, so you could build figures a variety of ways.

Star Wars Legion IG-88 and IG-11 Assassin Droid miniatures

With that, my Star Wars storage box is nearly full, so I'll likely call an end to this project for now. 

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Star Wars Legion: Rebels and Partisans

I decided to take some time off for the holidays and the rainy weather spurred me to get a lot of painting done. Over the last few weeks, I managed to complete the rest of my unpainted Star Wars Legion Rebels. Some are official figures, while others are proxies available from various 3D printers. 

Star Wars Legion miniatures.  Rebel and Partisan forces, both official and 3D print proxies

Standard Rebel Troopers from the game box.

Star Wars Legion miniatures.  Rebel Troopers

Star Wars Legion miniatures.  Rebel Troopers

Star Wars Legion miniatures.  Rebel Troopers

Rebel Commandos with Orrimaarko (Prune Face).

Star Wars Legion miniatures.  Rebel Commandos

Star Wars Legion miniatures.  Rebel Commandos

Star Wars Legion miniatures.  Rebel Commandos

Unofficial Rebel Irregulars from a wide variety of species, including the NED-B leader droid from "Kenobi." While the official figures are great, they are limited in terms of variety and I wanted more aliens on my table.

Star Wars Legion miniatures.  Unofficial 3D print proxies.  Human,  Twi'lek, Rodian Rebel Irregulars

Star Wars Legion miniatures.  Unofficial 3D print proxies.  Bith, NED-B Loader Droid,  Mon Calamari Rebel Irregulars

Unofficial Jedha Partisans from "Rogue One." Since I wanted to be able to use them both before and after the events of the film, I decided not to get Saw Gerrera and other charters that I knew didn't survive the Jedha attack.  The reference photos I found for Kullbee did not include a coat, so I took a guess and painted it blue to match the trousers he wore. 

Star Wars Legion miniatures.  Unofficial 3D print proxies. Saw Gerrera Jedha Rebel Partisans. Gelan Yees, Benthic (Two Tubes), Kullbee Sperado

While I found a good photo of the unnamed partisan on the left, the figure on the right was harder to track down. The only photo available was a black and white concept drawing, which didn't help with painting.  However, looking at screen captures from the movie, he appeared in the background (minus the turban) for a few seconds and was dressed in very dark colors with lights on his chest unit. Not wanting him to look completely like a Turkish Star Wars Darth Vader knockoff, I went with dark brown robes instead of black.  

Star Wars Legion miniatures.  Unofficial 3D print proxies. Saw Gerrera Jedha Rebel Partisans. Unnamed, Moroff, Unnamed

I was really happy with the end results. I think Benthic and Moroff were my favorites out of this batch and will look suitably imposing on the battlefield. Now I just have to convince my teenage sons that dad is still relatively cool and they should turn off the Nintendo and sit down for a game with the old man.
 

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Bolt Action WW2: Chinese and Soviet Border Town Battle

It was time for another game of WW2 Bolt Action.  In this 1930's scenario, Art's Soviets were battling my Chinese warlord for control of Chinese border town. At the start of the game, the Soviets had a sniper and forward observer in the town, while I had a sniper and two teams of guerillas lurking about. 

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

Round 1:

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

From the southwest, the Chinese warlord's retinue arrived, along with some cavalry, a big sword squad, and a T-26 tank. 

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

They were countered by a large amount of Soviet infantry, mostly inexperienced.

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

In the north, Soviet infantry arrived by truck, with a supporting armored car and flamethrower T-26. Chinese cavalry rode to meet them, with infantry, an SDKF 222, and a junior command team not far behind. The Soviet armored car inflicted casualties on the cavalry, but did not break their resolve. 

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

Round 2:

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

The Chinese warlord activated the majority of the troops in his sector, with the tank firing down the roadway at the Soviet tank, and the big sword squad moving through the rubble.

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

The Chinese cavalry circled around the buildings and destroyed a Soviet truck carrying NKVD, with the surviving troops stumbling into the street. 

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

Additional Soviet troops headed north trying to rescue them.

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

At the southern edge of town, a Soviet flamethrower team disembarked from a transport and attempted to burn out one of the Chinese guerilla cells, but failed to hit its target. 

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

The guerillas counterattacked, killing the flamethrower team and destroying their truck.

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

In the center of town, another guerilla cell ambushed a second NKVD transport and burned it to the ground. 

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

At the home next door, a Soviet transport pulled up to the garden wall, and troops climbed over into the courtyard.

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

Across the main street, Chinese levies took up a position in the local restaurant. 

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

In the north, Chinese infantry and the SDKF 222 tried to take pressure off the cavalry, but the Soviet's refused to switch targets.  The Chinese cavalry was shot down before they could engage. 

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

Round 3:

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

The Soviet forward observer called in an artillery bombardment on the warlord and the surrounding squads. However, luck was with the Chinese and there were no deaths.

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

On the other side of the building, the Chinese cavalry eliminated the NKVD, but at significant cost. They turned south in preparation for two squads of advancing Soviet infantry.  

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

The Chinese big sword squad exited the rubble onto the main street and provided covering fire for the cavalry. 

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

However, a lucky shot by a Soviet mortar team managed to eliminate the squad in one strike. 

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

The Chinese cavalry were now on their own.

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

In the center of town, the surviving NKVD engaged in hand to hand combat with the guerillas, killing all but two of the them.  The guerillas were forced to retreat. 

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

From the safety of the ruined warehouse, a Soviet anti-tank team fired on the Chinese T-26, but did no damage.

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

Up north, the flamethrower tank failed in its attack on the Chinese infantry. They attempted a counter attack with anti-tank grenades, but were also unsuccessful. The SDKF was immobilized by the Soviet armored car, and its counterfire was ineffective. 

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

Soviet infantry drove the Chinese away from the tank with a significant number of kills.

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

Round 4:

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

The southern Chinese guerilla cell opened fire on the Soviet infantry, hoping to protect the isolated cavalry. 

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

The warlord's retinue also joined the fray, but did not perform well.  All except the warlord were killed off, and he abandoned the battlefield and his troops.

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

The other southern squad of Soviet infantry FUBARed their attempted attack on the cavalry and fled, but the the forward observer team hidden in the building managed to kill all but one of the Chinese.

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

Back at the warehouse, the Soviet anti-tank team scored a successful hit and jammed the turret of the Chinese tank.

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

The NKVD then rushed in and finished the job with anti-tank grenades.

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

The Soviet sniper and the Chinese levies engaged in a gun battle, with the sniper picking off the Chinese NCO.

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

Back in the north, the Chinese infantry launched a punishing attack on the Soviets, but were eventually burned to death by the flamethrower tank.

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

Soviet troops also finished off the immobilized 222. 

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

Round 5:

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

Soviet infantry stormed the ruins hiding the Chinese guerillas and eliminated them.

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

In the center of town, a vicious melee broke out between the Chinese levies and a squad of inexperienced Soviets. The Chinese were victorious, but most every combatant was dead at the end.

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

After destroying the Chinese tank last round, the NKVD located the Chinese sniper team and finished them off.

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

Soviet infantry charged the building holding the remaining Chinese command team, and though initially successful, the remaining guerillas pushed them back. 

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

The Soviets then sent the flamethrower tank against the guerillas and killed one of them. 

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

Knowing the town was lost, the remaining guerilla commandeered a car and fled. The surviving levies hit the road as well, and the town was fully under Soviet control.

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

A 28mm early WW2 Bolt Action game pitting a Chinese warlord against Soviet Russians  for control of a border town

Despite a relatively promising start, luck was not with the Chinese and the Soviets tore them apart through the second half of the game. I was really hoping that troop quality would win over quantity, but it was not the case.  And though I love the visual appeal of cavalry on the table, they have proven to be be mostly ineffective during my WW2 games, which I guess is to be expected (or a sign of my poor battleplans).  That said, it was still a fun game and I enjoyed the opportunity to finally use my Chinese terrain.