Fantasy – Rhazgra the Seneschal and Retinue

The dark armoured warriors stepped further into the darkness of the tunnels, moving carefully over the loose sand and scree that covered the incline. There were four of them, the rest of the band left above to guard the entrance against any intruders while the chosen few ventured deep into the tombs. They were looking for something, something to bring their lord greater power.

At the bottom of the stone ramp the warriors paused, listening. The tunnels around them were inky black, not even the strange glowing crystal the cave above had contained. It was also quiet, still, not even the sound of the wind whistling through the caverns.

“Rhalar, light.” The tone of the leader of the band, Rhazgra the Seneschal, was short and to the point, the brisk words of a commander used to seeing her action done. She didn’t bother to turn, instead crouching behind her shield, her mace held low in the enclosed space.

“Of course, sister” the taller mage answered, her voice with an ethereal edge to it, the greenish glow of the scars in her cheek become stronger as her hand ignited, green fire wreathing it like a beast desperate to flee. With a delicate motion, she place the fire inside the top of the staff, letting it writhe over the metal as in it was in pain.

“Where to now Seneschal? These tunnels all look the same.” The Dour asked, his voice like the grinding of stone against stone, his axe resting against his shield as his helm leaned forward.

“Rhalar will guide us, won’t you beautiful?” Arkfel the Slayer, the pelt of a great scaled beast over his shoulder moving as he laughed quietly to himself, only stopping when he felt the glower from his leader.

Ignoring such pedestrian things, the sorcerer lifted her glowing hands, the magical energy now spilling fully from her eyes and the scars on her face before evaporating into the air. She turned to look down each of the tunnels, the glow seeing to burn away the darkness, before she focused on one in particular. “The way ahead. There is something dangerous, old, long dead but now disturbed.” Rhalar lifted up her hands, letting the staff float beside her as she pushed her mind forward, attempting to understand the presence before her.

“The treasure’s guardian? Or something else those damn Templars have disturbed?” Rhazgra asked, turning slightly to look at her sister. Spotting the way her hands shook and the way green fire was emitting from her eyes even as her face creased with the effort, Rhazgra placed her shield down and delicately guided her sister’s hand back to the staff, the cold metal bringing her back to the present. She seemed to sign, her shoulders heaving as she drank in the cool air.

“Careful, beloved sister. It would be unwise for you to push yourself too hard before we have reached the prize. I’ll need your mind to unlock it’s traps.” She pulled her taller sister’s head down so their brows met, the anxious sweat of the mage resting against the cool of the warrior. “Besides,” she smiled “I would hate to have to leave you behind in favour of the treasure.”

Rhalar smiled. “I know sister, but I do not think you will need to. I know The Patron smiles on us this day. I can feel her whispers in the air.”

Yep, it happens to the best of us. Eventually anyone playing Sci-fi or Fantasy finds themselves looking at Chaos Warriors and reflecting on just how cool they look. They combine the glorious appeal of knights in armour but with that dark fantasy baroque look that means they just drip with character. They are the warriors that burn down the hero’s village as child, thus setting off the story. They are the Dark Figures that chase your heroes across the plains, slaying anyone in their way. And right at the end, they are the army you fight through to take on their leader. As you might guess, I adore the artwork and mental images, even if the normal models (released back in Warhammer Fantasy Battle days) are very static/designed for ranking up.

Seeing as I’m now working on very small (honesty) fantasy collection, and after seeing the Underworld Warband back when it was announced, I decided that these much more dynamic warriors were exactly what I wanted. Each of them looked like a real threat, a champion of the dark gods assembled alongside allies and rivals to take the fight to the enemy. What better troops to follow my Chaos Lord (who I’ve designed as some kind of Cursed Warrior/Undying King) than a collection of highly skilled individuals who just happen to be able to work together.


As a test bed, I decided to paint up the Underworld Warband “Khagra Ravagers”. Comprising of three warriors and a mage, it’s a great little introduction into the range. There are lots of shared character design elements among them – the armour and cloak combination, the multiple weapons and shield all ready to go, the smattering of decorations showing their allegiance.

As an aside, before I get into the figures, I’m just going to mention that I’m using my own names and descriptions for them. As much as I like Games Workshop’s setting, I’m one of those people who really like writing their own settings, characters and stories. As part of this, these four warriors will form the leaders of my Chosen Warriors, set to accompany the Lord into battle (seeing as he fights on foot). Additionally, as the greatest warriors among them, they are sent off to do specific tasks for their leader, ideally setting them up for small skirmish games.


First up we have a Warrior with shield and axe, ready to attack but in a relatively guarded pose. This is “The Dour”, an old warrior in a profession where that is a rarity. He’s basically Rhazgra’s main advisor/strong man, ready to offer the blunt opinion when required but then following her orders to the letter.

He’s also just really fun to paint, a relatively open pose with lots of finer details to add to. As the first figure painted, this was where I decided on the colours I would be using. Going for Valejo’s Royal Purple for the cloak really helps to make them look regal. I also used the classic Leadbelcher for the armour but after a quick look, a layer of black contrast over the top made it look the classic black armour that the Chaos Warriors are known for. On most, I decided to use mostly brass colours rather gold, helping to make them look less “fancy” than any Templars I am doing. The exception was the leader and mage, the gold marking them out as a little more important.


Next, with a weapon in each hand and animal pelt over the shoulder we have Arkfel the Slayer. With a pose like that, leaving himself entirely open and daring his enemy on, he seems like a real charming bastard of a warrior. Combine that with the pelt over his shoulder, I worked up the idea of the charming asshole who knows he has the skills to backup his boasting. Plus, if I’m doing the writing, a perfect partner to the mage, standing there to taunt attackers away from his beloved.

This guy is really similar pose to the Slambo figure from the olden days and I kind of love it. It was really fun working on him, especially with the scales over his shoulder. I originally started off with the colours reversed, only swapping to a more realistic look once I double checked some reference.


Rhazgra the Seneschal is of course the leader of this warband, standing in a dynamic pose to command her warriors forward. Her gear is more ornate than her fellows, she goes to battle without her helmet and that sneer of command. In her role as Seneschal, she is responsible for making sure her Lord’s affairs are in order, as well as enforcing his commands and protecting him with the help of the Chosen. At other times, she will go and do important tasks and quests herself. As for her (and her sister’s) origins, they are shrouded in mystery. Some say she is the daughter of a northern tribal chief, others say she ran away from the Templars as a teenage trainee to protect her sister. Either way, she’s a formidable warrior and great leader of her force.

As the figure that attracted to me this band, I was very careful to try and get her done just right. As well as the ornate details, the face is really well sculpted. Normally, my faces are apply base colour, wash, finish, barely even bothering to do the eyebrows. With Rhazgra, I used the Reikland fleshshade but then went back, adding eyebrows, highlights for the nose and cheek bones as well as a touch of gold though the piercing on her eyebrow. The markings on the side of her head were an attempt at tattoos which I think have the right effect. I also spent a lot of time on the hair, working from the black basecoat to the strip of white. In sort of the opposite way, I started off the wolf pelt with a very light grey, working my way down until the layer of black contrast paint over the top portions. Overall, I’m really happy with this model, one of the ones I’m most proud of.


And then we get to the mage.

So at first I originally painted her up using the original head. This sculpt was my least favourite in the set. I understand the visual of the cursed mage with the horns and hairless, and it makes sense for Warhammer. But in my head, this wasn’t the look I was wanting for the warband. These are supposed to be well trained and skilled warriors, not yet corrupted fully. The other issues was that the head lacks a lot of the details I’d usually rely on when painting – it’s not got much topological features to let the wash run into. I tried my best with the black and gold bands but it just looks so agressively… eh.

After a weekend of staring at the model, I decided enough is enough and went looking for an alternative head. I had, a while ago, purchased some alternative Stormcast heads (which are now being used in my Templar forces which I’ll be showing off soon) so I could get away from the “nope, we’re totally not space marines” look. Those heads, waiting for me to finish the box of Paladins I got for cheap from the local corner shop back up in Edinburgh for a tiny price, have been in my bits tray for a while. Pulling them out, I found one which was ideal, matching the look of Rhazgra while still looking a little magical. The only problem was that all the detail was on the wrong side of the head, forcing a slight change in pose.

Removing the head without damaging the paintwork was one of those butt clenching moments of hobby, trying very hard to scrape as little away as possible. Luckily I made a clean cut, cleaned up the resin part and then re-assembled the head into the slot, undercoating it via brush.

And now, here she is finished – Rhalar. With the new head, she looks like a true battle mage, just as likely to kick your ass with her fists than she is with magic. This better suits the mental image of her, working as her sister’s magical aid right next to her in battle. Her origins are as mysterious as her Sister’s and she shows promise of an even greater level of magic than she has already shown.

I’m really happy with the headswap, elevating this figure from okay to something I’m really happy with. I like how similar this model is in terms of gear to the actual warriors (such as the armour, cloak and the fur around her neck) while still having plenty of pieces that are different enough to make her stand out. The flames were especially fun to paint – I used the Hexwraith technical paint over a white basecoat and it worked out exactly as planned. I also managed to drip a little bit into the scars on her face, just to show the magic beginning to seep out.


Overall, this Underworlds unit was a fantastic way into painting more fantasy figures. I really recommend anyone interested in trying out a new Warhammer army take a look at these figures – they have some really nice details and it isn’t a huge amount of models to paint up. I’m also pretty happy with how the group has turned out, with a paint scheme that is relatively simple but looks awesome.

Next stage with these guys? Well I have 10 warriors, 5 knights and a lord on angry crocodile to finish off in a similar way to this warband. Beyond them, there are a few more less armoured chaos fighters to paint before I can move onto the big parts of the force – my Lord and his Patron.

Only a little terrified at the prospect of those two.

March 2021 Project Update

Welcome to April! Lets take a look at how things are going.

Project 365

To start, lets take a look at the count.

Painted: 40

DescriptionMakerNumber
British InfantryEmpress36
Chaos Warriors (Underworld)GW4

Purchased: 19

DescriptionMakerNumber
SwashbucklersWargames Foundry12
Keeper of SecretsGW1
Darkoath ChieftanGW1
Knight-IncantorGW2
SequitorGW3

A good bit of progress! I’ve now managed to paint more models than I’ve bought this year (always a good side of the equation to be on) and made a considerable dent in the Empress WW2 brits. Purchases… well we’ll talk about them in a sec.

I also managed to do enough models above and beyond the target value (31) helping to bring me a little closer to the intended progression. At the moment, I’m only 5 models below the target progression – I could have pushed to actually hit that target this month but honestly, it’s not the point of it. It’s a goal, not a requirement. As another positive, I’ve now hit over 44% of my collection painted, a percentage I haven’t beaten since 2018.

Project WW2

Project WW2 was the key focus of March, especially after the test painting of the month before. And I managed to finish the core platoon of my force! Three infantry sections, a PIAT team, a light mortar team and the two Senior Leaders (NCO and LT), all painted up and based. I’m really happy with how these models have turned out – the painted scheme is glorious muddy and grim, just right for a 1945 force. I’m also really happy I decided to go with the snow bases, helping to offset the darker colours. It’s also impressive to have the force finished – I could now (if the world wasn’t mad) go play a small game of Chain of Command with no extra units.

Finishing the platoon was Phase 1 of my WW2 Brits. Phase 2 is now to paint up the supporting Infantry I currently own, beginning with the senior leadership (and medic) above. The rest of the stuff to work on includes two vickers guns, two radio crew acting as JOPs, SMGs users and a few figures with soft caps I’ve converted. Phase 3 will be me working on my platoon of Churchills and friends. Phase 4 is the end game; there are a few force elements that are missing from the Empress Range (such as the 6pdr crews) that I’m hoping they will release some in the future.

Of course, this month I also ran the numbers on preparing some OPFOR for the Brits. The Empress Volks Gren range is really good looking…

Project Fantasy

I’m rapidly finding myself thinking about and painting up more fantasy figures. WW2 is definitely fun to paint (and I’m really looking forward to playing with the Brits/building up another force) but Fantasy is really filling the niche of fulfilling both interesting things to build/paint and getting my world building/design elements. I’m in the middle of writing up a post on the Chaos Warriors I finished this month, where I actually get to stretch my writing skills.

The big quantity of purchases this month is from Wargames Foundry’s Swashbucklers range. This is mostly due to the fact my Sister expressed an interest in possibly playing some games of soldiers. Based on her interests (and a love for buckling swashes), I decided to pick up these wonderful figures. Along with the three figures in this style from North Star, they will form my Sword Masters, spies/assassins for the empire in my nebulous fantasy setting. Once painted up, and the ruffians 3d printed, there will definitely be some fun games coming.

Also part of this setting is a way to use GW’s Stormcast.

Okay, stop running.

The Stormcast Eternals are definitely aggressively iconic for Age of Sigmar and I hadn’t really found a use for them. However, after seeing some Stormcast painted in a more realistic (i.e. less gold) style, I was suddenly captured by the idea of using them for a Templar like force, aggressively over the top fanatics to go toe to toe with the Chaos Warriors. I’ve also decided to go with exposed head look – it’s definitely among one of the weaker points of my skill set but I did really enjoy working on the head for my Chaos Warrior champion I painted.

Now. I am a simple man. I like little treats. And I set myself a goal that, if I finished my WW2 Brit Platoon, I would start on a nice kit for my fantasy range. Having mentioned my Chaos Lord and his cursed warrior details last time, I decided to push the button and get a model for his patron. The Keeper of Secrets from GW is one of their finest figures, nailing that merger of lethality and beauty. I decided, after a little bit of sweating aggressively, to go for more of the “four armed warrior goddess” rather than the traditional claw arms of Slaanesh demons. The picture above shows the WIP form, stuck together with some white tack. I still have some work to do, mostly with adjusting the left shield arm to cover her chest more. I am really enjoying building this model, and it will definitely be pushing my skillset forward.

Now… I am a little worried that this month is going to shred some of my gains from last month in terms of improving my completed percentage. Games Workshop is going hard on adding vampires to Warhammer fantasy and man, they found my weakness. I was already on board with the four new vampires in the Underworld box (a superb entry for great figures) but then they announced Cursed City, a board game using Games Workship miniatures just dripping with character. I adore the models they have announced, the gothic horror/low fantasy setting spot on for what I love. This is going to be a big chunk of change, but definitely worth it. I’m going to curb my new purchases soon, but I think these vampires (and maybe a few other vampires/undead for fighting in skirmish games) will be in the collection soon.

Project Moderns

I wrote a post in March about some decisions I’ve made regarding how I’m going to be playing my Ultramoderns, stepping away from the real world and into real-world adjacent. You can find more in the post. As for extra work, I’ve done a little bit of development on the aims/rules for the nations, more coming soon.


That’s it for this month’s update, I’ll see you in a month!

Taking a Sideways Step

Lets start with the Too Long Didn’t Read: I’m no longer going to play my Ultramodern games using real world settings or real world events. Going forward, all ultramodern games will be set in an ultramodern setting that shares similarities with the real world but bears no direct connection to the exact situation in the real world.

Now let me explain why.

As you may have noticed, things have gone a little bit quiet around here regarding the main focus of the blog for a long time, Ultramodern Wargaming. I’ve managed to play a few games, paint a few models but nowhere near the same level as I once did. As well as The Ongoing Situation, I’ve definitely felt myself losing interest in pushing around tiny figures representing the real world. Like many of us, I’ve spent a good chunk of the last year bouncing between being incredibly angry at the world and the politics that have brought us here and chewing through a reading list that contains a big chunk of analysis and personal accounts of the last 20 or so years of war. And frankly, the combination has made me increasingly uncomfortable with directly linking playing games for fun and using the current ongoing events as a background.

The latest additions to the library

Wargaming is fundamentally about taking humanity’s worst features and turning it into something you play with for enjoyment. And people have different points where they draw the line – for some it’s nothing Historical, for some it’s no go post WW2. I’ve always found myself to be pretty loose in my no-go point – nothing super Nazi (so no SS), nothing too extreme in Iraq/Afghanistan and nothing over the top gruesome. But time changes us all and I’m definitely feeling that unease creeping in.

I will also say, like with many things in the last year, I’ve definitely felt the tone of a lot of places where Ultramodern wargames have been discussed shift slightly and in a direction I don’t feel 100% comfortable with. A lot of terms and opinions are thrown around that can make it hard to think of it as a simple game. Even something as innocent as troop experience levels can lead to frantic disagreements. And frankly? I just don’t have the energy to give a damn any more.

This whole situation reminded me of a comment from Richard Clarke of the Too Fat Lardies when asked why he’d stopped working on Fighting Season. At the time, I was a petulant child a little annoyed at not being handed a favourite toy. But now? I 100% can understand where he was coming from.


Now, there are tens of hundreds of figures in cases in my house which are going to top me from simply dropping Ultramoderns and taking my ball to play elsewhere. And frankly, I don’t want to stop Ultramodern gaming entirely – I get too much enjoyment out of some of it. (Also if I stop buying Spectre Miniatures, I get worried messages from the team there).

This lead me to sit down and really think about Why I wargamed Ultramoderns. Why did I spend hours painting things various shades of tan? Eventually, I realised that the things that have interested me the most can been split into three elements:

The tactical and moral challenges squad and platoon leaders on the ground have faced (on both the BLUFOR and OPFOR sides) in the wide variety of situations that the ongoing conflicts have provided

The moment I always knew a game I was running at SESWC was going well was when a player would pause, step back from the table and actually genuinely consider what to do next. Realistic situations where players need to think like the soldiers on the ground rather than an uncaring god rolling dice is what gets me excited about these games.

The correct application/experimentation/evolution of force organisation, weapon systems and supporting technolgy in the modern day.

As wargamers, we all enjoy getting our toys on the table. Ultramodern Wargaming is jam packed full of toys, from NVGs to armed drones to the latest in protected vehicles. I also found the progression of troop organisations fascinating, seeing weapon systems and numbers of forces change from year to year as the situation changed, and then seeing how they affected groups on the board.

The telling of stories, both to setup the games and using the outcomes of the games to influence future events.

This is the main thing. “You bring your 1000 points, I bring my 1000 points and we’ll play a scenario from the book” is boring as hell. Wars don’t happen between equal forces, or equal situations. Using the fiction to setup events makes for more interesting gameplay. Add to that the campaign element and suddenly the merging of game and fiction leads to some very exciting games or sudden plot twists as things don’t go quite as expected.


After sitting down and thinking about it, I realised that none of these elements required me to specifically use the current conflicts. As far as my enjoyment of the tactical challenges and stories, it didn’t require me to reference Afghanistan or Iraq. In fact, it didn’t even need to map to the exact events we know of.

And this got me thinking about the Strange-Real.

For anyone who doesn’t play video games, the Strange-Real is where the Ace Combat arcade flight sims are set. In many ways, the world matches ours – armed forces are equipped with real-world weapons (mostly), the landscapes you fly over and fight in are based on the real world and nations act in ways very similar to our own. There are some original elements and some which are just the real world with the trademark filed off but overall it’s a mostly accurate world that works.

This setting means that you don’t have to deal with the issues of the real world intruding upon the game. Referring to the Belkans as a bunch of terrorist assholes who blew up their own country causes 0 issues as they don’t exist. But at the same time, the number of people who declare that Belka did nothing wrong shows you can still make a connection to them.


So what’s going to happen next? Well, I’m going to do some world building, set up some nations and then return to game playing. Honestly, I really enjoy writing and designing things so this part is going to be some fun events all by itself. I’m also aiming that it won’t just be the real world but flipped upside down, but that there will definitely be some of the same dynamics at play. And don’t worry – Bazistan and Aden will still be here.

I’m also going to take a look at Chain of Command and see how best I might update it to Ultramodern gaming. There has already been several attempts covering modern conflicts like Vietnam and Mogadishu and although these things are very close, there are still little tweaks I’ll need to make. Of course, many of the forces I’ll be assembling will be fictional, but there will once again be similarities to the real world and there will be a focus on realistic elements to them – no dual wielding 249 gunners here.

I appreciate that these changes won’t be what everyone wants or is interested. But I feel like it’s something I need to do, if I want to keep playing this time period or these rules. Hopefully, you won’t find it too much of an obstacle when it comes to reading my after action reports

#HobbyStreak Day 50

In case you haven’t seen on my Twitter (or have managed to avoid taking part in what can mostly be a hell site), I’ve restarted doing the #hobbystreak. This is where you attempt to do a little bit of hobby every day and keep the streak going. Now, I admit I’m very lucky in being in a situation where I am able to do this – I work from home (at the moment), live by myself and can make it very easy to carve out some time no matter what.

However, I’m really excited to say I managed to hit 50 days! I don’t have a specific target for days I want to hit, I just want to see how far I can keep it rolling.

If you want to follow along, I’ve added a moment with all the streak so far. It’s interesting to see just what I was working on when I started off.

Impressions: Spectre’s Delta Release

A little delay on writing this one, but I finished off painting up the release of Spectre’s Delta Force guys from earlier this year. The first major release of 2021, these guys were definitely packed full of cool details and gear to paint and I had a pretty good time getting into them. While also learning how to paint camo again in a little bit of a death march.

If you want details on what the range consists of, I covered it in a previous post, so this will be more focused on what they were like as models and getting them painted up.

Assembly

As you may expect, they arrive in the traditional Spectre boxes with the foam interiors. The specialists come individually while the standard assaulters are in the squad pack.

Unlike the previous Spectre guys, however, these are now multipart. This is probably on the more extreme end, having two separate pieces to assemble, but shows off that these figures are now designed in multiple parts. Overall I found the fit reasonably good. There was definitely some that needed a touch of liquid green stuff in the gaps to fill them in.

Now that said, these new arrangements aren’t perfect, although this might be more of an issue with the inspiration. SIG MCXs have a very thin folding stock on and unfortunately on a few of them, the stock failed to appear in place when moulded (rather than having any signs of damage or debris in the box).

Luckily while 3D printing you generate a literal pile of resin tubes and so was quickly able to find a replacement. This isn’t perfect but with the right paint job should be much easier. On the other hand, the number of barrels I had to bend back into place was much much slimmer than a usual shipment of Spectre products. I think this change is definitely a positive, although I’m interested to see what other figures in this style look like.

Painting

Painting up these guys was a throwback to my traditional method of painting Ultramodern Special forces – aka, it’s time for a crapload of MultiCam painting with some tan webbing. However, there are a few little tweaks based on the models and their details. The first is that several models have softshell tops rather than the usual Crye Precision battle dress. For this, I decided to go with a mix of colours to make it a little more visually interest, mostly going for tans and greens.

There are two exceptions for these basic colours – the Delta Commander and the Scout. For the Commander, the basic t-shirt look is always cool. There is maybe a little look of “Captain America” to him with the blue, which would definitely make him stand out a little among a rebel force that he’s assisting. For the Scout, I originally wanted to do tigerstripe. However, I then realised I had 0 of the paints I wanted to use for it. So I shifted to try Desert NVG camo which I attempted… but then failed during the attempt. Instead, it ended up as a bit of blurry green which is distinct enough from the MultiCam to make him look like something special and unique (for the camo butterfly in the squad).

I also did some work with a few little details, just to make the operators stand out a bit. Little things like the Mechanix gloves or colouring in the glow sticks in Moot Green. The guns were also a new take on my usual setup – rather than the gunmetal grey, I instead used Leadbelcher with a thin layer of Contrast Black over the top. I’m actually really impressed with the final result, and I’ll definitely be doing it more.

Finally, the bases. These are the first modern guys I’ve finished using the Gaming Scenics Arid Grassland basing material. Like the others, I’m really impressed with just how good the mixes work out and are definitely an improvement over the pure sand I’ve done in the past.

Final Thoughts

So what do I think of this release now I’d finished them? I’m a big fan. These are definitely one of my favourite sets that Spectre has produced, with a good mix of poses and a great set of weapons. I think also the range is a pretty good starting point for anyone wanting to get into Ultramodern gaming, giving you a full squad of operators with a mix of gear ready for a variety of missions.

A few people asked about the sizing of the models. I do agree they are a little bulkier than most of the rest of the other operators, but nothing outside the realms of human variations. They just look like some boys who have been to the gym a lot.

(End of) February 2021 Project Update

This may only be a little shorter than the other updates but it is coming out at the start of the next month rather than at a random time.

Project 365

First up, this month’s count is standing at:

Painted: 32

DescriptionMakerNumber
CypherGW1
Winter British InfantryWarlord10
British SnipersWarlord2
British InfantryEmpress4
Delta ForceSpectre12
Task Force BlackEmpress2
Tier 1 OperatorsSpectre1

Purchased: 34

DescriptionMakerNumber
Comet TankRubicon1
SigvaldGW1
Chaos Lord on KarkadrakGW1
Chaos KnightsGW5
Chaos WarriorsGW10
Daughters of Khaine MelusaiGW10
Daughters of Khaine KhineraiGW5
Melusai IronscaleGW1

I’m aiming for 31 models painted every month so I managed to hit it. I am a little bit down on the running total for the year (January missed it by a chunk) so I’m going to have to slightly increase my numbers coming up. However, having a lot of models ready to be painted, it should be much easier to hit those goals.

As for the purchased – well technically not all of it was purchased… I’ll get to that.

Project Database

Not much more on the web plugin but I have managed to do some database wrangling to turn data into visuals. I’ve set up a page on the blog with all the graphs I’m to all my graphs, as you can see above. I’ll sit down and do some analysis at some point (because I find it fun) but it’s interesting to see how the shift in my collection is going, as I throw off that idea that I’m “just a Moderns wargamer” and actually start collecting what I want to and what excites me.

Project Modern

The Delta Operators are now all painted and based. I’m really happy with how they turned out – it’s been a while since I painted Multi-cam and then painting 12 of the buggers in it was a bit of a shock to the system. That said, it’s neat to get them all done and relatively quickly, managing blocks of four roughly every three days (base colours, details, camo).

I still need to do the writeup on them, but I’m waiting on a lightbox – the large one is good but it’s not really suitable for only a few figures.

Project WW2

Project WW2 is now the focus project. After the first section was finished earlier this month, I have also finished off the Warlord Sniper pair and have started on the bulk of the Empress guys with the first section. There was a little bit of relearning the paint scheme, mostly due to the different equipment worn by the Empress figures and the finer details that the sculptor brought to them. As you can see above, it’s definitely worth it. The camo jackets and helmets covered in scrim were really fun to paint and I adore their poses.

Perhaps the biggest thing is finally getting my hands on some snow powder. I got it from the same place I have picked up the rest of my scenic supplies from, Geek Gaming Scenics after waiting a little bit for it to come back into stock. It actually works incredibly well, requiring a few blobs of glue to get this semi-melted snow effect on the guys. These aren’t in the depths of winter – it’s January/February and so it should be started to melt, mixing with the mud and forest floor.

One thing I have decided is that I’m not going to focus on the WW2 guys in a single big block of painting. I did notice the Enforcers definitely reached a point of “oh god they are finally done” – with the WW2 guys being a full platoon, that’s a lot of green and brown to paint.

Project Fantasy

So I’m going to be writing some more stuff about my fantasy gaming. It’s an idea that has really captured my mind, and has some potentially very exciting elements to play around with.

Remember how I mentioned the sudden jump in purchases? Well, that’s because I had a nice surprise when my pre-order of the new Sigvald figure and some Chaos Warriors arrived. At first, I thought I might have been an incorrect order but nope, I’d managed to win the lucky draw from Leodis Games and ended up with a special prize… and a lollipop.

Now, this box is great. It’s a pair of really rather nice armies. However, despite having just bought the new Slaanesh model, I actually don’t have any plans for a Slaanesh force. Luckily my Creative Opponent up North, in his slow decline to Chaos, decided he wanted to give in to temptation and leap in. I’m really happy it went to someone I know – I feel a little funny about just selling off a prize. Instead, it will be going North, while I will be keeping the Dark Elves to add to my force.

Speaking of Dark Elves, I also managed to assemble both of the Warbands from the War Cry Catacombs box I got for Christmas. Like all of the GW figures, these are beautiful to look at, with carefully designed pieces fitting together. They were also complete bastards to assemble, especially figures with multiple part cloaks that fit together. However, I think they are well worth the swearing and fingers covered in glue.

But what of the Sigvald I purchased? Well, remember last update when I mentioned the idea I had for him? Well I’ve managed to work out the basics. In my head, this guy is a cursed ancient king skilled at the art of war and perfecting his skills in it. However, despite having attracted an army of Chaos Knights and Warriors, he is no simple follower of the Chaos gods. Instead, he spites them, breaking his horns to reject the gifts. Of course, anyone who recognises the spear and shield I’ve given him might work out where this story arc might be going. Lets just say, he has a patron who I might need to purchase in the future for when she has to enter the fray…

Story aside, I’m happy with the first assemble of this conversion. There needs to be a little bit of greenstuff work on his spear hand, and the painting will be the proof of the design. A lot of this design came from playing Hades and the basic model having some very greek style armour, and I think the giant spear and shield nail that image that came into my head. It’s going well, so the next step is actually painting and putting him together fully.


That’s it for this month’s update, I’ll see you in a month!

January 2021 Project Update (and some of February)

Ah. So this was supposed to be a post I was doing at the start of each month but I’ve been a little distracted by actually doing the hobby rather than simply talking about it. Which is a positive I think!

But for now, here is a quick check-in for what I did in January and the first half of February.

Project Enforcers

Project Enforcers is done! All the models I purchased have been built, painted and based. The figures are now living in my display cabinet and I’m really happy with how they turned out.

Project WW2

Project WW2 has properly begun. I’ve already completed my first Infantry section, as you can see above, and a pair of Snipers. These are both from Warlord and have functioned as a very good testbed. The next step will be working on the main platoon.

I’ve also assembled all the tanks to go with my main force, with three Churchill gun tanks, a Crocodile, an AVRE and a Comet all assembled and ready to be undercoated.

Project Modern

With the release and then the arrival of the Delta Force guys from Spectre at the end of January, I decided to interrupt my planned project to try and get them painted up. At time of writing, I have done two of the three batches with the aim of finishing the third this week. They are some nice models, which I’ll cover some more details on once they are done, and were a nice step back into the Moderns Painting.

I also managed to get a new game in, having a battle report of Spectre Operations set in Bazistan again. It was a nice step back into playing, and I’ll be trying to get some more in.

Project Fantasy

Nothing to update for Project Fantasy. I’ve come up with a cool idea using the new Sigvald model and the Chaos Warriors (including the underworld box I picked up last month) so I’ve got my hands on them but I haven’t started actually working on them. I’ll probably do a fantasy project after WW2.

Project 3D Printing

Oh boy, this is the big one. Since the last update, I’ve managed to get my 3d Printer up and running, learnt a few of the ins and out of it and then managed to print off some stuff. I’m really impressed with just the quality you can get out of an entry level resin printer.

Above are just a few things I’ve printed using it after my initial burst of “Test all the things!”. I’ll be going into more details of the process in an upcoming post sat in my draft pile but as a preview – I don’t think 3d Printing is quite at the stage that everyone needs to get one (they are still a little finicky) but it’s a really interesting tool to have.

Project Database

My figure tracking has now shifted from an excel spreadsheet into a database on my webserver. I’m still not 100% finished with the data (I still need to do some detective work to find purchase dates) but every model I have is now tracked in there. You can see the count of the various stages of models up above.

The next stage of this project (aside from keeping it up to date) is going to be surfacing the data. I’m already planning a widget to appear in the sidebar of the blog, showing off the most recent figures I’ve painted up/projects I’ll be working on. This won’t be up for a while but it’s a fun learning project.

Project 365

The data for this year so far

After having got all the data and getting into a hobby streak, I’m actually feeling pretty motivated to keep painting. I’ve been doing roughly four figures every 2-3 days, especially when working on actual projects such as the WW2 section and the deltas. Which got me thinking…

My Creative Opponent has decided to attempt to paint 365 models in 2021. Although I may have originally laughed at this concept, especially after last year’s lacklustre numbers, I’m starting to think that it might be something worth trying out. Not sure I’ll hit it by the end of the year but aim high and all that.


That’s it for this update, see you in a few weeks for the next update post.

Battle Report: Operation Odeysus – Spectre Operations

Well… it’s been a while since I last did these. Like literally 18 months (18 months and 19 days to be exact) since the last time I planned, wrote and played an Ultramodern game set in Bazistan. A lot has happened in that time – “losing my cool” during that last game was the sign of something a little worse, I move 200 miles south and then we got stuck inside for almost a year.

But now? Well, I had the hankering to roll a dice or two. So why not take a step back to the fictional nation of Bazistan and carry on the story.

Background

It has been almost two years since the events that lead to the capture of Captain Amari of the AESA by elements of the Bazi Interior forces on the outskirts of Bazi City (see The House on the Corner). Alongside her and two of her Adenese colleagues, the capture of SAS Trooper Robert Chalk proved to be a political bomb, leading to the resignation of the Minister of Defence and (among other things), the collapse of the British government at the time. 

After being paraded on Bazi Television as spies, Amari, Chalk and others have been disappeared into a series of Military Prisons that the Bazi regime maintains. Bazistan has refused to return any of the prisoners while they are still alive. In the past year, the bodies of the two other AESA agents have been returned to the Republic of Aden’s government but there has been no sign of Amari or Chalk.

At the same time, counter-government forces in Bazistan have shifted to small scale open combat, especially around the second city of Alriyah. As the combat has increased in intensity, Bazi security forces have begun extracting important assets from the region. This has included the last two prisoners held in a secret prison. Thanks to dissidents in the Alriyah Police, British and Aden governments have been told that these prisoners are Captain Amari and Trooper Chalk.

In case you didn’t know, my games are set in an alternative universe where Yemen is actually split into two nations – the West leaning Aden and the monarchy ruled Bazistan (you can find. If you want more ways to tell it’s a fictional universe, the fact a scandal involving the parading of a British operative on TV actually causes the British Government to collapse.

Also yep, it’s time for a time skip. Last time the country was definitely at the tipping point but not quite into open warfare, mostly because most of the games I was playing were much more focused on small scale sneaky stuff or gradual skirmishing in the hills between Aden and Bazistan. This was mostly due to how my collection was themed, with larger forces not really existing.

Bazistan now, however, is in the early stages of collapse, mainly because having checked through my collection I realise I have plenty of figures that would be suitable for a larger set of games, possibly using Ultramodern or Chain of Command. With this larger size, it was time to turn the heat up a touch. Hopefully, we’ll be breaking out a few more insurgents and platoons of infantry to get into the fight.

Mission Briefing

UK Special Forces Command has drafted up a recovery plan. Taking advantage of the current insurrection taking place in Bazistan, UKSF has managed to infiltrate a small number of SAS operative into the region. As well as assisting the opposition forces, these SAS operatives have been on standby to attempt a rescue operation when Chalk and Amari were located.

Chalk and Amari are being extracted in a pair of Interior Ministry SUVs, accompanied by humvees belonging to Bazi Special Forces and regular Bazi Army forces. The convoy will be escorted by a Mi-35 Hind gunship. However, due to the current security situation, the gunship will only join the convoy once they have cleared the outskirts of the city.

This leaves a window of opportunity for the SAS to take advantage of. The element has discovered a possible ambush site in one of the city’s suburbs along the vehicle’s exit route. The goal will be to strike the convoy, recover the two passengers and then exfil the target area before any back up arrives.

I gave my Dastardly Regular Opponent the option to decide exactly how the SAS would recover the two targets and he chose a vehicle interdiction (the other option being a prison break). After a little bit of setup, and remembering the ramming rules in Spectre operations, it was time to break out the uprated vehicles and commit a traffic accident.

Forces

BLUFOR (the SAS) are rolling with a pretty stocked team of operators (as you’d expect for them planning an operation). The Ambush team (dressed in the desert robes) comprised of six Elite operators, armed with a mix of Carbines, suppressed MP7s and a combat shotgun. Knowing they would be up against vehicles and needing rapid armour penetration, the Carbines and shotgunner decided to use Armour Piercing ammo.

The BLUFOR support team of five Elite operators would take up overwatch positions. The key elements to this would be a heavy sniper rifle and medium machine gun (with an assistant), both set up on rooftops to create a killzone. For additional support, the team also has a medical specialist (to make sure the recovered objectives can be treated) as well as a UAV co-ordinator for overwatch. He also has access to a loitering glide munition just in case they need to blow the crap out of something. The team is definitely lacking in AT weapons, so having a contingency may be handy.

Finally were the BLUFOR vehicles. To create the traffic block, the shotgunner of the Ambush team would be driving an uprated civilian pickup, with improved engine and brakes, as well as a toughened front end (counting as a bullbar in the Spectre Operations rules). The extraction vehicle would be a white minivan, which would take the core team away quickly while the rest moved offboard to nearby transport.

On the other side, OPFOR were split into several groups. The main force was a convoy, comprised of two light humvees and two unarmoured SUVs. Both Humvees are armed with HMGs, but differ in their crew – the lead vehicle with Trained Bazi Army forces (with Assault Rifles and a MMG) while the rear vehicle was crewed by the Professional Bazi Special Forces.

Each SUV has four occupants – a hostage (either Chalk or Amari), a professional Operative from the Bazi Interior Ministry, a Professional Bazi Special Forces Operator and a Trained Bazi Army driver.

If the convoy runs into trouble, there are three tiers of response. The lowest level is a pair of Bazistan police in a civilian vehicle. These two are only militia fighters, but do come with G3 battle rifles stored in the car. The next level is a Bazi Army technical with four Bazi Army soldiers that is waiting to link up with the convoy. If it’s late, they will come looking for their objective. And if the SAS really cocks it up, well then a BTR-80a is following the convoy as a rearguard, complete with a squad of Bazi Republican guard.

SOP for the Bazi Army is to attempt to escape any ambush by pushing through. If held in place, the Bazi Interior Ministry operatives are ordered to eliminate the hostages. However, due to the situation in the Bazi government, not all Interior Ministry operatives are as loyal as they should be. A command roll may be required to see if their will holds…

Play-by-Play

We begin with the Bazi convoy speeding through the suburbs of Alriyah, bumping through the empty streets as the distant sound of gunfire fills the air, the sound of the dissidents being crushed by the Bazi Army.

The convoy keeps close together, turret gunners rotating left and right to cover the rooftops.

In a side street, the driver of a heavily armoured pickup truck pulls the shemagh over his face as the British voice in his ear counts down. “5… 4… 3… 2…”

Before the driver of the lead humvee can respond, the roar of a high powered engine fills the air, followed by a sickening “CRONCH” of metal on metal.

The impact of the armoured front onto the humvee knocks it off the road, the driver jarred by the impact until they slam into the jersey barrier at the side of the road. With a hiss, the engine stops working as the crew slump forward in their seats.

In contrast, the driver of the vehicle shrugs off the impact, pulls the Origin 12 shotgun off the dashboard and climbs out, leveling at the oncoming SUV.

With this impact, the rest of the SF operators appear out of cover. Covering the killzone, the marksman shifts his Heavy Sniper Rifle into position.

On another rooftop, the rest of the Overwatch team also setup, the MMG resting on the cover as his asistant prepares the belt.

Additionally, the rest of the Ambush team move out of the nearby buildings, taking up positions in cover to aim at the oncoming vehicles.

At the same time, two final Ambush operators move into cover beside an abandoned vehuicle and open up on the rear humvee with Armour Piercing rounds. These rounds shred the vehicle causing a mobility kill and killing the driver and gunner,

The Medium Machine gunner then opens up on the damaged lead humvee, the heavy 7.62mm rounds shredding the light armour and bouncing around the interior. Both the driver and passenger go down, taking the Bazi Army squad leader out of commission.

The first SUV continues driving attempting to smash through the now immobilised vehicles, the radio screaming “PUSH PUSH PUSH”. The SUV however is not an upgraded vehicle. It slams and comes to a halt, the engine softly smoking.

Before anyone in the car can react, the SAS shotgunner (having just moved out of the road as the SUV kept coming) runs up to the front passenger window, levels the shotgun at them and fills the front seats with multiple slugs, killing the driver instantly.

The other SUV decides to risk going off road and turns off into the desert. As it hits a divot in the ground, it bounces slightly.

Seeing the gunfight starting, and not wanting to be trapped in a light humvee against an opposition with serious firepower, the Bazi Army regulars disembark from the lead vehicle and into cover.

The cover however is not good enough. The MMG gunner shifts fire and hammers another burst, taking down the two regulars.

At the rear of the convoy, the two remaining Bazi SF guys manage to pull themselves out of the vehicle, taking cover behind the vehicle while frantically calling for reinforcements.

However, a few moments later the heavy sniper rifle hammers and takes out the Bazi SF trooper, leaving only the team leader alive.

SUV 2, unable to take the corner fully to escape, slams into the building, resulting in a mobility kill and knocking the crew out for a moment. However, in SUV 1, the survivors have disembarked. Their ears ringing, the Bazi SF trooper and Interior Ministry start trying to get the SAS to back off, holding a gun to the female hostage.

The SAS, fully aware of the upper hand they have in the situation, move closer keeping their guns trained on the Bazis.

At the rear of the convoy, the Ambush Team Leader and two members move forward towards where the Bazi SF had gone to ground, ready to take out the survivors

Still stunned, the crew of SUV 2 falls out of the vehicle leaving the male hostage inside. The Bazi Army trooper attempts to engage one of the SAS in the open but is rewarded with a burst of MP7 fire that takes them down.

Into this scene drives… The Police

Luckily a cross map heavy sniper rifle shot hits the civilian vehicle before it can get too close, hitting the engine block before it coasts to a stop.

The policemen dive into cover behind their car, pulling out their battle rifles from the back seat while demanding reinforcements at their location. They attempt to engage the SAS troopers, who are too busy dealing with the last remaining Bazi SF operator.

Coming under (Semi-)accurate battle rifle fire, the operator dealing with the Bazi SF team leader ends up simply smacking him around the face before turning round to deal with the threat.

After managing to suppress them with multiple Rapid Fire bursts from their carbines, the trio began to peel back towards the rest of the team.

Around the two damaged SUVs, the SAS team moved in to clean up.

Taking advantage of maintaining the initiative, the operators managed to move and clean up the bad guys, with a mix of close combat and close-range shooting.

And just in time, as the main Bazi army began to arrive. The technical, pausing at the end of the road start trading MMG fire with the team on the roof.

With the action about to hot up, the Ambush team leader reached into SUV 2 and dragged Trooper Chalk out before hoisting him over his shoulder

Trooper Chalk was reported to have hissed “You took your bloody time didn’t you?”.

And speaking of hotting up, the sound of grumbling engines announced the arrival of a BTR-80A and it’s troops. Heavy armour, an autocannon and a full belly of troops means this is not something to stick around and fight.

With very little able to actually deal with the BTR (and both hostages in their hands), the SAS beat a quick retreat. Bundling the two hostages into the minivan and driving off, the rest of the operators disappearing into the suburbs.

Wrap-Up

The Bazi Army inspecting the killzone

So, as you’d hope from a crack team of special forces, they successfully managed to extract the hostages and escape. Elite troops in Spectre Operations are exceedingly effective at their job and, in a situation like this, can rip the enemy apart. By getting the drop on the enemy, they were able to achieve the objectives.

Of course, this does leave them trying to evac a pair of hostages out of a hostile country in the opening stages of armed revolt. Not the simplest task, but it should be possible. On the other hand, the Bazi Army is not going to let themselves be made fools of.


Man, it felt good to be back rolling dice. And as much as I love Skirmish Sangin and all it’s details, Spectre has a lovely level of detail to it while still not requiring quite so much paperwork. It has lots of fun toys to play around with and a simple core that keeps it exciting. I’m looking forward to playing a few more games (even in solo) but hopefully we’ll be back to some multi-player games soon.