Friday, 13 January 2017

New arrivals and some observations.

I recently obtained NAC and UNSC/H starter packs from GZG. Usually I am very satisfied with my GZG purchases. Initially I was a little put out to discover that there is a significant size difference between these two figure ranges and the other GZG figures I already have.

Upon opening them I immediately noticed the considerable level of flash on the figures. Clearly the moulds were older and had seen a lot of wear. The figures themselves are still very good quality, they just required a bit more cleaning up than my previous GZG purchases.

When I compared them to some of the new sculpt GZG figures, I was relieved to find that the difference in size is not that noticeable.

 From left to right: UNSC/H Marine, ORC Marine NCO, IF NCO, UNSC/L Rifleman, Armoured Police SWAT Trooper.
 From left to right: FSE Colonial Legion NCO Kra'Vak Leader, Ravager, ESU Naval Infantry NCO, NAC Marine NCO, Robot Rifleman.
 From left to right: UNSC/L Trooper, Armoured Police SWAT Trooper, NSL Jäger NCO, NSL Panzergrenadier NCO (his face needs some work), Crusty Rifleprawn.

 In the above photos you'll notice a UNSC/L Trooper. Jon's Christmas deal included a two packs of UNSC/L rifles, an NAC six wheeled buggy and couple of packs of NAC Power Armour (shown below). 
 From left to right: ESU Black Bear Power Armour, NAC Power Armour, NSL Power Armour, Crusty Power Armour.

The NAC power armour is considerably smaller than the others, so I'm thinking of classifying them as a Light Power Armour Suit. In fact it is actually smaller than some of the unpowered infantry figures shown above. Given its size I'm also thinking of making NAC Power Armour a mostly female unit with exceptions made for particularly small males who otherwise meet enlistment requirements. 
NAC Power Armour  (at least this particular model) will likely carry less firepower, but would make up for it with speed and manoeuvrability. 

Despite being initially disappointed, I am fairly happy with this purchase. Despite the flash they are still good quality figures and I'd recommend them to other gamers.

One thing I did notice when writing this post and comparing the figures. Some figure ranges share certain things.
For instance the IF and ESU both use the same SAW, Sniper Rifle and the same Man Portable Missile/Rocket Launcher. 
Also the NSL and the Robots use the same AMR.

 From left to right: ESU SAW Gunner, IF SAW Gunner, IF Missile Operator, ESU Missile Operator.

  From left to right: Robot AMR, NSL PzGren AMR, ESU Sniper, IF Sniper

As I understand it this is part of the GZGverse (Tuffleyverse) background where factions often use the same equipment, much the same as military forces in our present time. Whether they are licence built, unauthorised copies or the result of military assistance programs, it doesn't matter much but it can add flavour to your setting. 
In the Tuffleyverse, factions also use the same vehicles but apparently they have different designations depending on the faction. 
In the Stargrunt II rulebook it states that the FSE's AGCI-5B GEV APC is licence built in the OU as the Wombat GEV APC. Also artwork in the book depicts a LKPzW VI MICV with its NSL PzGren Squad, the MICV looks remarkably similar to the Gauntlet Hover APC seen on the GZG website. So either the NSL uses a licence built version or it is a NSL design exported as the Gauntlet. 

I rather like these little linkages between the different GZG miniatures.

Five Alpha, out.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

I've been struggling to develop my grand campaign, which will include 15mm, 6mm and Fleet Scale wargaming and Traveller roleplaying. I created a map using the Traveller Map 'Poster Maker', then realised I had an error in my spreadsheet for star system creation and started again. I'm also trying to fit all these different ranges of figures, bits and pieces from various settings into my own setting and I've finally come to the realisation that the task is too big to prepare prior to gaming. If I try to get it all designed and prepared before I start gaming, I will never get to play a game.

For the map I'm going to change to the Astrogators Handbook which maps the positions of pretty much every star within 75 light years of the Solar System. It may be a bit dated but it looks good.

For now the space beyond the solar system will be defined only in vague terms, the star positions will be known, but what's in each star system will not be known. I will have a general idea where the major star empires are located, but the specifics will only become apparent as the game expands outwards.

I recently purchased VBAM and intend to use it to run the overall campaign. Important space battles will be resolved using Fullthrust: Project Continuum, while important planetary battles will be resolved with Dirtside II. Planetary engagements of company strength or less will be resolved using Tomorrow's War, unimportant or minor engagements can be resolved with VBAM rules if players don't want to battle them out on the table. VBAM rules will likely be used to resolve conflicts involving two or more non-player factions.

I like both the Tuffleyverse and the Tomorrowverse, but I'm also leaning towards the 2300AD setting. I think I have a preference earth to be just as fragmented as it is today, with somewhere over 150 independent nations, and not a half dozen to a dozen power blocs.

The 2300AD setting makes for a good starting point. The timeline is vague regarding the Twilight War (WWIII) giving no set start or end dates, primarily due to a loss of records during the post war recovery period. That recovery begins somewhere in the last few decades of the 21st century, with a neutral France emerging far better off than the rest of the world. From this point the timeline extends to 2300AD where the game is meant to start. I think I'll go back to around the mid 2100s, with nations beginning to build their first FTL capable ships and starting to explore nearby star systems.

I haven't fully read the VBAM rules but they look to be able to handle non-player factions with specific systems designed for that purpose.

I plan for the wargames campaign to provide a variant 2300AD setting, within which our group may roleplay or wargame, as they choose.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Hill 105

Sub-Commander Amelia and I, made Hill 105 out of expanded polystyrene chunks glued to a board I scavenged from an old lounge chair, then covered with paper mache, given a spray of brown paint, daubed with Mod Podge and liberally sprinkled with flock and clump foliage. I may try to make one with a road leading up and a big enough area for a building of some sort on top as our next project.

Ooh and here's some pictures....

 I think I might touch it up a bit with a bit of grey and some crackle medium to get a rock face effect on some of these exposed areas.

FiveAlpha, out.

Neu Deutscher Bund SternTruppen

Ok, my setting is being reworked because of a flaw in my star system generation spreadsheet. But I have finally managed to paint a full company of miniatures. Although some additional touches are still needed, they're table ready.

I used GZG's NSL Panzergrenadiers for the figures.

This company will see use as both SternTruppen and Panzergrenadiers, depending on the scenario.  

The still need transport. The plan is to provide them with hover vehicles and for the SternTruppen some suitable dropships and/or drop pods. (I have my sights set on some GZG Gauntlet series vehicles).

The force comprises 1x HQ Platoon, 1x Support Platoon, 1x Powered Armour Platoon, and 2x Rifle Platoons. (Total Strength 112 men, not including vehicle crews when they arrive)

 The whole company conducting a drying in the field exercise.

HQ Platoon includes:
1x HQ Squad of 2x three man fire teams
1x Admin Squad of 2x three man fire teams
1x Scout/Sniper Squad of  3x two man recce teams
1x Scout/TAC Squad of 3x two man recce teams
1x Scout Bike Squad of 2x two man recce teams

Left to right: Scout Bike Squad, HQ Squad and part of Admin Squad

Left to right: HQ Squad, Admin Squad (centre), Scout/Sniper Squad and part of Scout/TAC Squad

 Scout/TAC Squad can be seen in the centre of the image.

Support Platoon includes:
1x Mortar Section of two tubes with crew
1x AGL Section of two guns with crew
1x RFAC Section of two guns with crew

 Support Platoon: AGL Section on the left, RFAC Section in the centre and Mortar Section on the right.

Powered Armour Platoon includes:
3x Powered Armour Squads of 2x three man fire teams

1st Powered Armour Squad w/platoon commander in the foreground.

Rifle Platoons include:
1x Command Squad of 2x three man fire teams
3x Rifle Squads of 2x three man fire teams

 The shoulder patch on the left shoulder is a just a dab of red with a white dot. 
It is meant to represent a white eagle on a red field. 

 In the background you cans ee some of the cheapest products I could find, Mod Podge and White Knight Clear Acrylic Sealer (Satin Finish)

Company Commander on left, 1st Platoon Leader on right.
I just can't seem to get the skin tone to work, I think the paint is too thin. 
Maybe a few more coats will do the trick.

The picture quality is a little improved as I took these outside, but not in direct sunlight.

They still need some transport and, now that I think of it, an RAP. 

I'll post up stats for Tomorrow's War asap, but for now.....

FiveAlpha, out 

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Campaign Maps

I've done a little bit of work on my figures, but my main focus these past few weeks has been on developing my game setting. To that end I've been reading The Art of War Games' Awakening setting, anything to do with the TuffleyverseTomorrow's War, Traveller (various incarnations), Near Earth, Orbital and The Outer Veil.

So far I've worked out the major earth factions, a horde of non-human factions and a sector map in the Traveller style. The map was done using the Traveller Map. Use the this text file in Traveller Map's Booklet Maker and/or Poster Maker to print out the map or you can just get the pdf map or the black background map here. You can alter the text file  to make the map your own.

About the map, for those unfamiliar with Traveller each hex represents 1 parsec or 3.6 light years. Dangerous areas in Traveller are usually marked as Red Zones or Amber Zones (red and yellow circles respectively). Red Zones are usually enforced while Amber Zones are  only warnings. Because the central government has fragmented, I am using Red Zones to indicate extreme danger to any who enter, and Amber Zones to indicate worlds sterilised by the DEATH Squads. The two exceptions are Alpha Centauri and Barnard's Star which are active war zones, there are others but these are the only ones that mankind is aware of.

The premise for this setting borrows heavily from the aforementioned works. The Synod of Worlds, is a truly ancient multi-species collective that spans the entire universe. The history of the Synod spans the entirety of the lifetime of this universe and part of the previous one. The founders of the Synod were in fact survivors of the great war that brought about the end of the previous universe and resulted in the big bang, birthing this present universe. How they survived is a bit beyond my simple minds ability to grasp, something to do with pocket universes, I think.

Anyway here's the gist of the situation:
The Synod seeds the universe with life from their own genetic codes, modified to local conditions. That genetic code has been altered to remove violent tendencies, beyond those need for survival. Once a species matures enough, by achieving the technologies of cloning themselves and FTL travel, they are accepted into the Synod. Integration is made easier by a mentor species (genetically similar), assisting to develop technologies and to adapt culturally.

About two thousand years ago a trend towards violence was noticed, in an uncharacteristic burst of speed a plan was quickly devised and implemented. Fortunately for mankind and many other species a public outcry and an industrial accident put a stop to that plan. (see Prometheus).

Because of its size the Synod usually takes forever to reach a consensus and make a decision. A few hundred years ago they finally came to a decision. They would cease all seeding operations, they would wipe the slate clean and start again. Specialist teams, called DEATH Squads, were sent in to secretly retrieve certain disguised artefacts and activate a device called a 'World Eater' to destroy all life on the planet. Once decided the Synod acts fairly quickly, in this case it meant that a single planet was totally devoid of all life 24 hours after the order was signed. The Council continued to debate the measures and opted to allow any species that could achieve the required level of development (i.e. the ability to clone itself and build FTL drives), acceptance into the Synod. The Synod member species being called 'Chosen' whilst those who weren't were called 'Fallen'.

The next planet on the list apparently made great leaps and bounds in technological research and discovered jump drive a few hours before the DEATH team arrived, putting a halt to that particular operation and saving an entire planet from extinction. The DEATH Squads schedule created the ultimate deadline and many mentors did their utmost to help their charges to meet the deadline, achieving cloning and FTL before their time was up.

A few decades ago a Tityn named Prometheus was caught by Synod authorities assisting Human scientists in the improvement of their own technologies and understanding Synod FTL and weapons technologies. The Council was so outraged that they tried him and executed him rather hastily. The repercussions were felt immediately, many scientists and specialists failed to show at work the next day, apparently afraid of being executed like Prometheus. Indeed the rift created in Synod society by this one act tore it apart as many planets seceded from the Synod. The Synod tried to make amends but the damage was done.
Synod representatives were sent away and in some cases imprisoned or even in one exceptional case summarily executed.

The Synod had unintentionally started an intergalactic war with millions of fronts, that it was unprepared to wage. The average Synod citizen is genetically predisposed to abhor violence, and in some cases they become violently ill at the prospect. Initially the Synod relies heavily on the Consensus, a group of AI's with Chosen status, to prosecute the war while selected Synod volunteers undergo advanced training to prepare them for war. Further efforts include the use of propaganda to turn one Fallen species against another. Another resulted in the creation of the Darghaur (see By Dagger or Talon and GZG).

You'll find in the text file mentioned above that I've tried to list as many manufacturers' alien figures as possible. There are a few names that don't match a figure range, Atlanteans, Tityns, etc.

Given the nature of the universe this is set in, most forces will start with fleets made up largely of refitted transports. As the war progresses they will be replaced by dedicated warships. The Synod has the advantage of superior technology, but generally lacks the military doctrine, strategic and tactical knowledge of their more war like opponents.

For mankind, the war starts in 2065AD. The major powers have assembled their fleets of borrowed and refitted transports, loaded their newly trained Marines, Commandos, Naval Infantry, SternTruppen and Foreign Legionnaires on board and departed for Alpha Centauri and Barnard System's. Reconnaissance places Synod troops in both systems with the heaviest concentration on Alpha Centauri 3a, where Synod Forces are supporting the indigenous population in preparing their defences. Barnard's Star seems to have a force of Robots defending it.

Definitely a work in progress, as the map will need some adjustment, species descriptions need to be done and matched to figure ranges. There's scope for adding in any species you want to add, either replace an existing species or make them part of the Synod by placing them on whatever Synod world you want. The map shows all systems with a native population, all others are shown as Synod worlds or a few non-aligned worlds. The Synod itself has its central worlds in an entirely different galaxy. I need to do planetary, regional and local maps for each world that will be campaigned on. And constantly update the maps as the grand campaign unfolds.

Five Alpha, out.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Shacks, Modules and Neo-Soviets

I haven't been playing much, nor have I been working on my figures much, but the last few days have seen a bit of a change.

I've had a few orders come in, which rekindled my interest and got me working again.
I've been thinking about setting and rules as well. While I like the Stargrunt II Rules, I've been looking at Tomorrow's War. It is very similar to SG II in that troop quality is more important than equipment, but the differences I've noticed so far are more fluid turn sequence, rules for the networked battlefield and good support for alien species. So I'm reading through the pdf's now and have ordered the books online.

Recent arrivals included GZG's Shack Set and Base Module Set, and Brigade Models' Neo-Soviets which arrived yesterday. As noted in my previous post GZG's building range required some assembly. As yet they are unpainted, but they have been assembled.

 The Base Module Set

The Shack Set.

I ordered the Colony Bar w/extension and it should arrive in about a fortnight. I'm thinking of ordering some building parts and fittings, for home made buildings, but I'll need to work out what I'm actually going to make before I do so.
I intend on buying some stowage, vehicle commander half figures and other bits and pieces from GZG's accessories range. Also Mr Tuffley has a metal shipping container kit, but I might look around for some resin shipping containers first. I found the shacks and particularly the modules awkward to put together. It's probably just my age and infirmity showing.

The Neo-Soviets include a Spetsnaz Squad and a Conscript Platoon. They arrived in one of those yellow envelopes with bubble-wrap on the inside. Sub-Commander Amelia found them on her daily recce of the mailbox. I was a little concerned that they may have been damaged by being stuffed into the letterbox, but the figures are quite sturdy and the package was pretty slim. Time between ordering and delivery was 13 days. It would appear that UK Post is considerably faster than US Post, why? who knows, doesn't really matter anyway, it's just an observation.
The Spetsnaz Team appears to be wearing some sort of ballistic coverall, with a face mask. Each soldier carries an XM-8 style personal weapon. Two of which appear to include integral over and under grenade launchers. Their harness is replete with pouches providing ample room carrying capacity for all the spetsnaz gear each soldier requires in the field. Two fire teams of four men, one GL per fire team, makes sense with these guys.

 The light is a bit bright, the bases are a little small for the washers I use and sometimes need something to cover the hole.

Fireteam 1, Grenade Launcher on right.

Fireteam 2

Here they are interspersed with GZG's ESU Naval Infantry.

The Conscript Platoon includes 2x Rifle Squads, 1x Support Weapons Squad and 1x Command Squad.
The Rifle Squads include 6x Riflemen, 1x RPG Gunner, 1x SAW Gunner, and 1x Squad Leader. The conscripts main weapon looks to be a descendent of the Kalashnikov, the RPG has not changed appearance much over the years, the SAW looks very much like the RPK with a drum magazine. Either these troops are, as I expect, meant to represent near future Russian forces or Russian weapon designs haven't changed much in the future.
The Support Weapon Squad includes 2x 2 man Gatling Teams, 1x man Missile Team, 1x Sniper and 1x Plasma Gunner. Their body armour and personal equipment is identical to the Rifle Squads'. The Pack includes 3x small rod like pieces which represent reloads or discarded cases for the Missile Launcher.
The Plasma gun is big and bulky as befits such a weapon, it's fed by a power pack worn on the back. The Sniper looks to be wielding an energy weapon, probably a Laser Rifle. The power pack is rather uniquely located right of the pistol grip, with the soldiers forearm and hand being concealed by the powerpack.
The Command Team includes 1x Commissar wearing a commissar's hat and armed with a handgun, 5x soldiers (Officers/NCOs) one of which carries the platoon comms gear. (nice little satellite dish on the pack and headset).

Also each squad includes 1x soldier that looks to be wearing an NBC suit.

From left to right: Missile Gunner, ComTech (note the directional array on backpack), No.2 on a Gatling gun, Plasma Gunner, Commissar and a half man?

From left to right: No.2 on a Gatling gun, Commissar, No. 2 on the other Gatling gun, Sniper, No. 2 Missile Gunner.

The whole platoon on parade at the foot of Keyboard Hill.

On parade, again, but here they are in front of my GZG NSL Panzergrenadiers. Note the sniper, front row, right. You can clearly see the power pack positioned over the firers arm and trigger hand.

There is some flash on these figures, noticeably on the heads, it looks like the two mould halves have some very slight movement, leaving a flash line across the top of the head of each figure. The poses tend to be closed, as in the arms are generally held in tight to the body, making these figures rather solid compared to some open poses in my collection. Proportions are much the same as GZG figures, although the heads appear smaller. Detail is not as clear as GZG figures, but they should come up nice after painting.

The differences in equipment, mean these figures will represent a different faction than that represented by the GZG ESU Naval Infantry. Their weaponry is closer in design to 20th and early 21st century weapons, which suggests that they could be used as a lesser Russian satellite state or an independent colony with Russian roots. One that is using older tech.

My GZG NSL Panzergrenadiers appear in the background of some oft hese photos. I'll talk about them in my next post.

Five Alpha, out.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Wormhole Transport

I ordered the Shack Set (V15-COL4) and the Base Module Set (V15-PBMSET) from Mr. Tuffley at GZG. I ordered them on the 8th, I got an email on the 11th letting me know my order was complete, they arrived today, the 17th. That's a 7 day transit from the UK to Australia.
I believe that is the quickest delivery I've had with GZG. So far GZG has consistently delivered faster than any other manufacturer I've ordered from.
The rumours that Jon has his own personnel wormhole for deliveries must be true.
Basically each set contains 5 buildings, in five or more pieces each, so 'some assembly required'.
Instructions are not included, quite rightly too. 'We don't need no steeenkin' instructions!!' They'd only confuse things anyway.
oh.. and here's a picture....

Not much to look at now.... but wait until I put them together.

Five Alpha, out.