Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Imperial Armour

The Occupier tank is now finished. (Or at least the vehicle anyway; the basing still needs to be done.)

This is my first time applying MERDC camo to a vehicle in 28mm scale. I think it came out looking not too bad, but could be improved. Reading up, I have the ratio of colour areas wrong - the mid-gray and light-gray should each cover around 45% of the vehicle. Still, the end result I'm not too unhappy with.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Product Review - Steel Warrior Studios

Today an order of 6mm buildings from Steel Warrior Studios arrived. This is my first time ordering from this company. I will recommend them and would order from them again.

The complete order, with existing Sixmillopolis for scale
Steel Warriors sell a range of both terrain and miniatures, in a number of different scales. Their product line is very focused on sci-games (particularly Battletech or mech games) but some of their buildings would work for modern cities as well. The buildings are 3-D printed resin. While I've ordered resin models before, I think this is the first time I have ordered models manufactured using 3-D printing, and the results are excellent. The detailing is very crisp and there are no voids or imperfections.

I ordered a range of different buildings, and this should be enough to complete Sixmillopolis (barring any special tiles I might make, like say an airport or somrthing).

First up, some small and large apartment buildings to create some suburbs. Looking at Google Earth views of cities you see they always have their suburban belt of residential housing, so I wanted a few tiles of shorter buildings to surround my existing downtown area. I ordered 18 of the Small Residential and 9 of the Large Residential buildings, which will be arranged (with driveways, yards, maybe some small parks) into suburban tiles.

Small and Large Residential Buildings

Example surburban tile

Next up a hospital, which just seemed like something a city should have. As a decently large building this will probably get a tile to itself.

The mech has an owie :)
Next up, a shopping center. It's laid out as one L-shaped row of shops in this image, but it's actually seven separate pieces; the six-sided corner piece, four smaller square stores, and two larger square stores. I'm thinking of splitting these, to create two shopping centers to put somewhere on my suburban tiles.

The last building I ordered is a High Rise Residential Block. This is again a multi-part kit (hence why it looks like it's going to fall over, the pieces are just sitting on top of each other at the moment) - a two-story base block, as many levels as you wish, and the roof section. Hint when ordering this model, the floor count is actually the number of middle sections included. So if you order a "one floor" kit it will in fact be 3 floors high, and a "6 floor" kit will actually be 8 stories high.

So I think I now have about all the buildings I will need to complete Sixmillopolis. Just need to get some more tiles (9 should do it) and get working. One thing I definitely want to do for the remaining tiles is include more flocked area, especially on the edges of the suburbs. Real cities aren't built by covering huge squares in concrete and asphalt. While that looks fine for the city-center (which even in modest-sized cities are essentially filled in) , I'm wanting the edges of Sixmillopolis to be more irregular, and blend more naturally into the mat I use as my gaming surface.

All the new buildings placed out with the existing

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Team Yankee: Operation Tunguska

I'm a big fan of Google Earth. It's a brilliant tool, which I use both professionally and for my own things like planning out vacations (marking hotels, airports, sights to see, and so on). And it can also be very good for making maps for fiction. As an example, here's a scenario I've had fun thinking out - Team Yankee: Operation Tunguska.

To be upfront at the start, this is not a remotely realistic scenario, and isn't intended to be. It's just a whimsical excuse to play Team Yankee battles in the US mid-west, around cities and locations that I know.

So with that admission made, here is the scenario...

Operation Tunguska

In July of 1985 the Soviet Union launched Operation Tunguska, the largest military action since the Second World War. Massed waves of air attacks sunk the USS Abraham Lincoln, USS Enterprise, USS Long Beach and many other American ships. Soviet submarines took station off the coast of Oregon and throughout the northern Pacific, lurking ready to threaten any US naval response. At the same time an amphibious task-force launched an invasion on a scale comparable to D-Day, with four major landings cutting off and capturing Seattle and Vancouver.

With a beachhead established, the Soviet force began an advance east, roughly following the route of the I-90 and I-94 interstate highways. Their first objective was to seize the US nuclear silos in Montana and North Dakota. While the US would still have air and submarine launched nukes, Soviet planners assumed that the loss of a large portion of their land-based weapons would create a large enough missile gap that the US would not dare initiate a nuclear war.

With the advantage of surprise and the low population of the north-western states, the Soviets advanced swiftly. National Guard units, local law enforcement, and private citizens put up brave stands, but they were hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned. By early August the Soviets had reached Minneapolis. Within days they had the city surrounded, and were at the Wisconsin border. The Premier and Central Committee began toasting to their great victory.

But their celebrations were premature. By this point the US military had begun to respond in numbers. Soviet planning had assumed the nuclear advantage would lead to a US surrender. This did not happen. Instead President Reagan declared a line in the sand - the Illinois Nuclear Ultimatum;
"If any Soviet or Soviet-allied force crosses into Illinois, then the United States would consider that the final straw. We would have no choice but to respond. With the full force and might of our entire strategic arsenal."
 - Ronald Reagan, August 15, 1985
While the US had been caught off-guard, by mid-August they were mobilizing and getting ready to begin going on the offensive. The Wisconsin National Guard had set up initial defense lines along the Mississippi and Wisconsin rivers. These were rapidly being reinforced by regular army units, primarily from III Corps. The 82nd Airborne was deployed to Milwaukee, ready for whatever plan was ordered. The Soviet leadership either believed Reagan was bluffing or were willing to accept a nuclear confrontation; their forces kept pushing east.

They did not go unchallenged. While Soviet forces crossed the Mississippi and won the Battle of the Dells, they took heavy loses in doing so. As of September 1985 the front runs through central Wisconsin. US forces are massing north of Chicago, while the Soviets are assembling south of the Twin Cities. 

Friday, 15 May 2020

The Power of the Dark Side

Progress has been made on my Imperials for Star Wars: Legion.

Obviously the color scheme is pretty much set before you start. I've seen some people do paint up their stormtroopers with some extra markings, but I'm just going to go with the classic all-white.

One unit I did feel I could safely be a bit creative with is the Occupier tank. I decided to give it a camo scheme, and have gone with what I'm calling "Graystone MERDC". For those who don't know, MERDC is a camo scheme developed by the US Army. It's not overly complicated, and doesn't require an airbrush or special painting technique to blur the borders between colors. My version is not a real-world army MERDC, but will use the same pattern. The light gray and medium gray main colors are done. Next I'll add some tan/sand edging around parts of the light gray, and finally a few bits of black. Hopefully should look fairly striking when it's done.

Other main progress is completing a stormtrooper model as a prototype. I'd heard white can be difficult to shade and highlight, but I didn't find it too bad. This guy isn't going to win any painting competitions, but he came out plenty good enough to put on the table.

So, now it's just painting a dozen or so more like him. For the moment Vader will be the force commander, but that's really just by default. I wouldn't include him by choice, but he comes with the starting box, and none of the other command units released so far interest me. Ideally I'd like it if Fantasy Flight would release a generic "Stormtrooper Captain" or something, rather than being required to include a named character from the movies. 

Sunday, 10 May 2020

Multiple Projects on the Go

Progress on Sixmillopolis has slowed lately. I could use the excuse that some additional 6mm buildings I ordered haven't arrived. Which would be true, but there are still plenty of details I could have been finishing off. Really I just felt like a change of pace. So I've pulled out a bunch of old armies and models, and started jumping between them. I'll do a bit of painting on one force, get bored and move to the next. Admittedly not a great way to get any one army finished, but it means steady progress is being made on many.

On my painting table right now there are roughly five projects being chipped away at.

First, Sixmillopolis. As enthusiasm hits I am still doing detailing work on things like windows and storefronts. And once the new buildings do arrive that will probably kick off another wave of progress.

Second project is the Robotech: Tactics armies that will be fighting over Sixmillopolis. Right now the focus is on the UEDF. The conventional vehicles and Tomahawk destroids are done. Still to finish are the two VF-1 veritech fighters, and a company's worth of infantry stands that will disembark from the APCs.

Third project is a complete change of gear - a Soviet force for Team Yankee. While the ANZACs are the army I'd prefer to use, they are a bit of a niche list. For many themed games/events it can be hard to explain why they would be involved, plus without heavy tanks/artillery it's difficult to bring them up to 100 points. So, the Soviets will be my force that can easily slot-in to "standard" TY games and events, with the ANZACs set aside for friendly games or scenarios where they fit in.

Fourth project is another change-up - Star Wars: Legion. The Imperials are on the painting table right now, with my force at the moment being Vader + 2 squads that came with the core box, plus an Occupier tank.

(As an aside, the film crew for Rogue One made the Occupier by modifying an Alvis Stormer armoured vehicle. So if somebody could find 28mm models of any Stormer or CVR(T) variant, it would probably be pretty easy to fit the parts to the Occupier model and make a new Imperial tank design. Just saying.)

Last project is a one-off mini-army - a Kaiju to attack Sixmillopolis. The model is a Tyranid Hierophant bio-titan from an early edition of Epic. Already painted, but damaged in transit and needs some fix up work.

Friday, 1 May 2020

Assembling the UEDF

With progress on Sixmillopolis going well, I figured it was worth putting some time into a few armies to fight over it. Since Robotech: Tactics was the incentive that pushed me to re-start working on Sixmillopolis, a pair of Robotech armies was the obvious choice. Rather than use the original Robotech: Tactics rules that the models come with, the plan is still to write army lists using the Epic: Armageddon rules system.

The invading alien Zentraedi are already base-coated. They aren't finished by any means, but they're far enough along to put on the table and play some trial games to test out the rules/stats I've given then.

That leave their opponent - the United Earth Defense Force (UEDF). While the original Robotech: Tactics game only includes mechs, one advantage of porting it over to Epic is that I can easily include conventional infantry and tanks as well. I'm a big fan of including conventional forces in mech games, because (IMO) they really help give a sense of scale. Sure the mechs are the stars of the show. But if you see a battlemech just sitting out on a plain how can you tell whether it's 6 feet tall, 10 feet fall, or 50 feet tall? Buildings help, but having some tanks and especially human-sized figures running around underfoot really makes it clear how huge the mechs are.

Anyway, on to my initial UEDF force. In honour of the country that gave us the original Macross anime, I decided to make it a contingent from the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF). The initial force will consist of;
  •  1 Company of 10 Type 90 Main Battle Tanks
  •  2 Platoons of 3 Type 96 wheeled APCs (as recce vehicles)
  •  2 Tomahawk Destroids
  •  1 Veritech Fighter

The complete JGSDF force, plus a Veritech in support

MBR-04 Mk IV Tomahawk Destroids

VF-1 Veritech Fighter

Company of 10 Type 90 Main Battle Tanks

Two platoons of Type 96 wheeled APCs

The Type 90's I'll just be treating as Leman Russ tanks for now, and likewise the Type 96's as Salamanders. For the Tomahawks, my initial stats are this;

Unit Type Speed Armour CC FF Weapon Range Firepower Notes
Tomahawk Destroid WE 20cm 4+ 5+ 3+ Dual Heavy Particle Cannons 45cm 2 x MW2+, Slow Firing DC4, Walker, Fearless, Reinforced Armour
Dual Gun Clusters 30cm 4 x AP3+/AT6+
Missile Pod 60cm 3 BP

Stats and rules for the veritech I haven't figured out yet, and they present a bit of a challenge. At this stage my initial thought is to have separate stat lines for each of the Fighter, Guardian, and Battloid configurations, and have changing modes be a move-equivalent action. A veritech in Fighter mode coming in to land in Guardian or Battloid would use the Air Assault rules, but I'll have to review those (and for that matter the whole aerospace operations rules) to see if there are any clarifications needed for how they apply to veritechs.

As a rough guess this would come to around 2000 points in Epic, but I'm not worrying about points too much at this stage. For now the goal is to play a few trial games and see if the assigned stats work out on the table - is the power balance between units about right, do they behave the way they are shown on the TV show, etc. Once the stats are locked down, then it will be time to start playtesting points values.