Saturday, December 3, 2022

Sahel Conflicts: Terrainify Outcroppings for Tigharghar Mountains

While I had a fair amount of urban/village terrain for my Mali wargaming, I wanted to have more options for battles out in the countryside. In 2013, French and Chadian forces fought against the Islamist insurgents in the Tigharghar (Tegharaghar) Mountains of northern Mali during the Battle of Ifoghas, and I wanted to look for terrain that would be appropriate. The major terrain feature for this area appeared to be large piles of black basalt rock. 

Tigharghar (Tegharghar) Mountains, Mali. Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-21326831
Source: BBC

Tigharghar (Tegharghar) Mountains, Mali. Source: https://www.alamyimages.fr/photos-images/adrar-des-ifoghas.html?sortBy=relevant
Source: Alamy

I considered making terrain for this out of high density foam, but was concerned that the tall rock spires needed wouldn't hold up well during transport between home and the gaming store.  Looking around for 3D prints, I found the eBay store for Terrainify and thought their Craggy Hills Outcroppings would  meet my needs.  I was a bit concerned with the resolution of the prints after looking at their photos, but I thought I'd give them a try and bought the unpainted large prints.

While the sculpt quality and style was just what I wanted, my concerns around the print resolution were justified, as you can see below.

Terrainify Craggy Hills: Printing is low resolution printing

If left as is, the prints would not have looked like the rocks in the area, and drybrushing would have been a real problem. As such, I decided to hand sand all the pieces. The plastic these were printed in was surprisingly hard (good for durability), so sanding took 30 minutes to 2 hours per piece, depending on size. But with all the nooks and crannies in the formations, it was impossible to remove all the print layers. I used some Squadron white putty to further conceal them, and in the end I was able to get them looking decent, though not completely free of lines. 


Terrainify: Original texture on the left, sanded and filled on the right
Left: Original texture Right: Sanded and filled

It took a lot more work than I expected (and I had some pretty sore hands after the sanding), but I was able to get them to a place that satisfied me. With the large scale prints, I had enough rocks to cover about a quarter or so of a 4'x6' table at a reasonable density for play.

Terrainify Craggy Hills Outcropping Bundle

To give a better idea of how big the formations are with a large size print order, here they are with some 28mm miniatures.

Outcropping A

Terrainify Craggy Outcropping A

Outcropping B

Terrainify Craggy Outcropping B

Outcropping C

Terrainify Craggy Outcropping C

Outcroppings D and E

Terrainify Craggy Outcropping D and E

Outcropping F

Terrainify Craggy Outcropping F

So I'm a bit torn with the product. I think the final rock formations will look great on the table and give the environmental feel I was trying to accomplish. However, for what I had to pay for these (approximately $190 USD with taxes), I think the amount of physical labor they required to look good was a bit unreasonable. 

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Bolt Action Burma: HQ Raid


After a focus on modern gaming this past year, it was time to get back to a bit of WW2. My tropical British force had never been used in a game, so Art and I decided to unleash them against my Japanese at the local game shop.  

For this game, we played scenario 6, HQ raid, from the Empire in Flames book.  In this scenario, British infantry (no vehicles or heavy artillery allowed) trekked over the mountains and through the jungle to raid a Japanese camp behind the front lines.  Their goal was to kill the two command squads in the large HQ buildings, and also gather useful documents from each of these building. The Japanese garrison was mostly made up of less experienced troops, with reinforcements arriving from random directions over the course of the battle.

Figures were mostly Warlord, with some Assault Group, Artizan, and Trenchworx mixed in as well. Building were by Warbases, Sarissa, and 4Ground.

Round 1:

A lieutenant and his team manned the stucco HQ building, with a sniper watching from the tower. To his north, a MMG watched the center of the outpost, and an infantry squad was stationed in the northwest hut. A captain and a medical team were based in the thatched HQ building, with a grenadier squad out front.

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

British forces silently slipped out of the jungle from the east and southeast. 

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

Suddenly, Bhanbhagta Gurung of the Gurkhas sprung from the underbrush and killed one of the machine gunners. 

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

Just a quickly, Gurung disappeared, but the Japanese sniper managed to target a British observer in the same area. The observer was pinned, but not killed.

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

The Japanese grenadier squad retreated to better cover, and were unsuccessful in targeting the Sikhs with their knee mortars. 

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

A squad of Chindits in the south ran for the cover of one of the outlying huts.

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

Round 2:

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

The forward observer called in a successful strike on the thatched HQ hut.  Given the scenario, Art and I used the stats for light mountain howitzers rather than the heavy artillery. The teams inside were pinned, but nobody was killed.

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

A squad of West Africans moved into the southeastern hut.

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

The British lieutenant positioned the Sikhs and another unit of West Africans for an assault on the stucco HQ building.

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

In the south, the Chindits were surprised by an arriving flamethrower team. They were pinned, but the flames failed to injury anyone, and the Japanese soldier was out of fuel after the attack.

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

They quickly eliminated the flamethrower team.

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

A Japanese tankette arrived from the west, and pinned the Africans in the hut.

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

Round 3 (we forgot to flip the die):

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

The Japanese tankette began an attack on the Chindits.

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

To the north, the Japanese MMG team rolled a FUBAR and retreated away from the Gurkhas. 

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

Orde Wingate arrived from the east just in time to oversee the building assault.

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

The Sikhs stormed the building, killing the Japanese lieutenant and his team, and capturing critical documents. They then retreated and the West Africans and Gurkhas took up positions inside.

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

Form the north, a Japanese tank arrived and eliminated a British sniper that had been harassing the garrison. Unfortunately, they were surprised by a British Boys anti-tank team who made a critical hit through the rear armor.

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

The Japanese infantry squad left their hut and charged the HQ building, but were eliminated by the West Africans.

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

Round 4:

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

The grenadier squad successfully targeted the West Africans in the hut, and the few survivors of the attack fled the battlefield. 

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

Gurung and the rest of Gurkhas avenged their comrades, hacking apart the Japanese grenadiers. 

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

The surviving Japanese command team and medical group did their best to keep the Sikhs pinned. 

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

However, the Sikhs fought back and picked off the Japanese captain.

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

After coming under sniper fire, Wingate and his team rolled a FUBAR and ran from cover to the edge of the table. This was a bad omen for the British.

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

A veteran squad of Japanese reinforced from the south and eliminated the Chindits.

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

The veterans and another arriving squad of regular Japanese then moved into the camp. 

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

Round 5:

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

The Japanese tankette fired on the Sikhs, killing two members of the squad. The survivors took cover in the hut previously occupied by the West Africans, but were soon killed by an assault from the Japanese veterans.

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

The other West African squad in the stucco building provided covering fire, wounding the sniper team in the tower. 

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

With the sniper team occupied, the Gurkhas charged out and assaulted the thatched HQ building, killing the medical team and gathering additional documents.

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

A Japanese infantry squad joined the survivors of the command team and launched a successful counterattack against the Gurkhas.

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

Another Japanese infantry squad arrived from the east, ambushing Wingate's team and also killing the forward observer. 

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

Round 6:

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

The Japanese veterans continued their rampage, eliminating another arriving team of Chindits (reduced in strength by heat exhaustion) and also the surviving British command team.

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

The West Africans launched an unsuccessful assault against the tankette. 

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

Japanese infantry overran the building, killing the remaining West Africans and a supporting medical team.

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

Round 7:

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

The tankette eliminated the British anti-tank team and with that, the Japanese were back in control of the camp.

28mm Bolt Action WW2 Wargaming, Empire in  Flames book, Scenario 6.  British Commonwealth forces attack a Japanese HQ in Burma.

For the first half of the game, it looked like Art's British were going to roll through the Japanese camp and make quick work of things. My regulars were no match for his veterans and specialist troops. But the new army curse struck again, and after Wingate's FUBAR roll, it was downhill for the British. My Japanese had a lot of luck with the random spawn points for reinforcements in the second half, and I was able to effectively throw bodies against his depleted squads and vulnerable command teams on the edge of the table. Though he completed three of the four objectives, his troop loss was enough to secure me enough victory points for a win.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Predator (1987) Special Forces Team in 28mm

 While looking for additional Western forces for my modern games, I found an Etsy seller who had these figures from Predator (1987) and I thought these would work great as a special forces/ mercenary team, and would also make a fun stalker crew for Zona Alfa.  They normally are printed in 32mm size, but I managed to find a vendor who would scale them down to 28mm to match the rest of my figures. Some of the figures have multiple variants, with alterations to make them more compatible with the Colonial marines from Alien or WK40K. I did my best to grab the movie versions, with one error mentioned below.


28mm Special Forces miniatures for Predator (1987): Dutch, Dillon, Mac, Poncho, Cooper, Billy, Hawkins



Major Alan 'Dutch" Schaefer. I think the barrel of his M16 looks a little too long, but wasn't able to do much with it due to the under-barrel grenade launcher.

28mm Special Forces miniatures for Predator (1987): Alan "Dutch" Schaefer, Arnold Schwarzenegger

Blain Cooper and "Ol' Painless." I had selected the movie version of him, but didn't notice the seller had accidentally used the Colonial Marines version when he sent me the resize proofs. To make him look a bit more accurate, I removed the backpack camera mount and tried to make the armored shoulder pads looks like the sleeves of a shirt. The under-barrel grip is totally wrong, but there wasn't really anything I could do with it. Despite this I think it doesn't look too bad and people will know who it is.

28mm Special Forces miniatures for Predator (1987): Blain Cooper, Jesse Ventura

CIA Operative Al Dillon.  I think his face doesn't look exactly like Carl Weathers, but still a great sculpt.

28mm Special Forces miniatures for Predator (1987): Al Dillion, Carl Weathers

Sergeant Mac Elliot. I think the best sculpt out of the lot.

28mm Special Forces miniatures for Predator (1987): Mac Elliot, Bill Duke

Rick Hawkins

28mm Special Forces miniatures for Predator (1987): Rick Hawkins, Shane Black

Billy Sole.  Another figure with an overly long looking M16 barrel, particularly with the under barrel shotgun mount. In this case, I was able to remove some of the length without it being obvious.

28mm Special Forces miniatures for Predator (1987): Billy Sole, Sonny Landham

Jorge "Pancho" Ramirez.  Another really good sculpt.  Unfortunately,  I got the stripes of his face makeup a bit too wide, but I thought I'd do more damage trying to clean them up rather than leaving them as is.

28mm Special Forces miniatures for Predator (1987): Jorge 'Poncho" Ramirez, Richard Chaves

I did also order one of the many Predator variants as well, trying to pick the one that seemed most accurate for this movie.  Unfortunately, even scaled down, I think it looked way oversized (probably one of the extra large Predators from the new movies), so I'll look for other options in the future.

Sunday, October 9, 2022

Sahel Conflicts: Miska Miniatures African Militiamen and Size Comparisons

 Earlier this year I bought into the Miska Miniatures' Kickstarter to produce African militiamen and assorted vehicles. It was my first time joining a Kickstarter (I've always been a bit hesitant after hearing about some of their fiascos), but I felt sponsoring designs for 3D printing was fairly low risk. I don't have a 3D printer myself, so purchased the physical copies. They arrived this summer in some of the most robust packaging I have ever seen used; not a single item broke coming over the Atlantic. The sculpting quality was quite good, and the printing quality was overall acceptable. I had two infantry figures with some printing defects (I think they shifted slightly during the print) and the two technicals had some warping and cracking (they are still to be painted), but nothing that couldn't be fixed with some sanding and filling.

So first off the table were the militiamen.  I was really excited to get these, as there were so few figures actually designed specifically for the Sahel region.

28mm Miska Miniatures Modern African Militiamen/Islamic Insurgents/Terrorists for Sahel Wargaming

The commander with a Dragunov SVD sniper, AK-47 gunman, and RPK light machinegun operator. For the commander, I felt some flashy Elvis-style sunglasses were in order.  The Miska gun barrels were rather thin, and I managed to break off the end of the RPK during painting. It was rebuilt using brass rod, so hopefully will last a little longer.

28mm Miska Miniatures Modern African Militiamen/Islamic Insurgents/Terrorists for Sahel Wargaming

RPG, AK-47s, and PKM. Again I had issues with the thin gun parts, and managed to break the ammo belt hanging from the LMG. It took a bit of effort to glue back into place, and sadly some of the detailing was lost during the process.  The clothing on some of these figures were a bit more garish than my previous figures, but were all based on actual fighters in Mali.

28mm Miska Miniatures Modern African Militiamen/Islamic Insurgents/Terrorists for Sahel Wargaming

RPG, PKM, RPK with drum magazine, and AK-47.  These were painted to match my Quartermaster 3D martyr squad and bring some heavier weapons to that team.

28mm Miska Miniatures Modern African Militiamen/Islamic Insurgents/Terrorists for Sahel Wargaming

Overall, I was happy with these figures and they will bring some more regional character to my insurgent force. The only thing that concerned me was the rather thin gun barrels and how they were going to hold up during transport and gameplay.  I think they tried to go with realistic proportions, but only time will tell if that was a good call.

I now have figures from six different manufactures in my insurgent collection, so I thought it was worthwhile to generate a new set of comparison pics so people could see how the figures and their weapons compare to one another. Grids were 1 inch, or 25mm.

AK-47 Fighters:

28mm Modern Insurgent/Terrorist Miniatures for Wargaming in Africa: Size Comparison of Empress, The Assault Group, Eureka, Miska, Footsore, Quartermaster 3D with AK-47

PKM (and one  RP-46) Fighters:

28mm Modern Insurgent/Terrorist Miniatures for Wargaming in Africa: Size Comparison of Empress, The Assault Group, Eureka, Miska, Footsore, Quartermaster 3D with PKM light machinegun

RPG Fighters:

28mm Modern Insurgent/Terrorist Miniatures for Wargaming in Africa: Size Comparison of Empress, Eureka, Miska, Footsore, Quartermaster 3D with RPG

Dragunov SVD Snipers:

28mm Modern Insurgent/Terrorist Miniatures for Wargaming in Africa: Size Comparison of The Assault Group, Miska, Quartermaster 3D with Dragunov SVD sniper rifle

Across the lines, the figures scaled up reasonably well with one another (though the Empress ones needed modifications to bring their height down). The most notable difference were with the weapons. The Miska miniatures really stood out for their thinner weapons, particularly the RPG and SVD.  The Quartermaster 3D RPGs were also a fair amount thicker than the other lines. While I wouldn't have a problem putting them all out on the table together, I think I'll be a bit selective in how I combine the lines for the squads.