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.

Project WW2 – Infantry Section, 10th (Teesside) Regiment of Rifles

Corporal Joshua Smith kept low as he made his way through the blasted tree stumps and muddy ditches he’d been calling home for the past few weeks, his Sten gun held in his left hand as the other worked to steady him. The mud underfoot was trying it’s best to throw him on the face, bringing back memories of helping his father on the farm in the hills above Middlesbrough, pulling sheep out of the sucking mess.

He wasn’t sure what part of the European Winter he hated more; when the ground was too cold to dig into properly, when the snow was coming down hard enough you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face, or days like this when the sun heated the ground up just enough to turn walking to and from the Platoon HQ into an adventure all of itself. What was worse, he could feel the icy chill of the mud sneaking in, finding a gap in the leather of his boots. He cursed the RQMS again, and made a mental note to go try talking to the lads in the next trench line over, see if some trades could be made.

Eventually, after a few more slips and slides, he made his into the dugout. Huddled in the corner, Private Williams was trying to snatch an attempt at sleep, huddled under his rain cape for that extra layer. Above him, Private Campbell stood facing out across the valley at the woods beyond, keeping an eye open for Germans attempting to probe the lines and a hand on the grip of the Bren gun. He seemed unblinking, ever watchful – quite different from the loud brawler personality that came out in the thick of it. Before Smith could even open his mouth to check on the dark-skinned soldier, a mug of warm tea was thrust into his own gloved hand, a shadow following after it.

“So, Corporal,” his 2IC asked, his tall, gaunt frame wrapped in greatcoat and looming out of the darkness like Boris Karloff in a picture show. The only light on him seemed to be the cigarette between his lips, the orange glow revealing a face creased with dirt and camo paint, the balaclava around his face shrouding it. “Anything interesting from the Mother’s Union meeting?”

Smith smiled, wrapping his hands around the metal cup. “Well, Lance Corporal Caines, we’re not part of any big push, at least as far as beloved Rupert knows.” He sat down upon an upturned wooden crate they had borrowed from the Logistics boys, looking around at the assembled men. “Looks like we’ll be in reserve for it instead. The Yorks and Scots will be having a first go at those new positions, the poor bastards.”

“Thank Jesus for that,” Campbell’s deep voice boomed in response, before leaning forward on the Bren gun to keep watch into the darkness beyond.


Ironically, the first section finished for Project WW2 is not from my main platoon. The bulk of my force is pulled from the Empress range by Paul Hicks, and features troops in the latest gear for combat at the end of the war in Europe – waterproof smocks and leather jerkins, helmets covered in scrim netting all while laden down with entrenching tools. They look like the guys geared up for the task of pushing across the Rhine and into Germany.

The Winter British from Warlord do not look they have properly equipped for the advance. They look like the guys who have been fighting since June, have been on the line for most of it, and are now stuck in a trenchline somewhere near Germany, sitting in frozen mud during the awful winter of 1945, wondering why the Germans haven’t just given up so everyone can just go home. They are wrapped up in scarves and greatcoats (replaced by the smock to improve their mobility in combat) with only their faces exposed to the cold. For this reason, I decided that they will probably end up being a support section, one pulled from the support list when more bodies are needed. This is why they are from the (fictional) 10th (Teesside) Regiment of Rifles, rather than the (fictional) 25th (Scots and Yorks) Regiment of Rifles.

There are 10 figures in the box, giving you two figures with Sten guns (a classic of Bolt Action squad setups), a Bren gunner and the rest with Lee Enfield rifles. There is some variation between the figures – some are in greatcoats, others in battle dress in leather jerkins while one has a rain cape over his gear, including covering up the backpack. Helmets also have some variety, with some using them uncovered while other have added helmet covers or scrim netting.

In terms of painting overall, I cover the basics in my first sitrep on them. Having now done the whole section, the scheme I’ve worked out is very easy to paint and I’m very happy with the final effect. Using the textured mud on both the base and the bottom edge of the clothing really helps to make them look suitably gritty. I’m not 100% finished when them yet though – I’m going to add a little bit of fake snow to them, just a tiny bit of white to offset the brown.

With these guys as a test bed, I’m very happy with the process and can now begin working on the bulk of the platoon. Of course, there will be some differences so the first Empress squad will also be a little bit of a testbed.

SITREP – Project WW2 Begins

Its only taken me two years but I have finally painted my first batch of WW2 British Infantry. Two years of planning, talking about it, getting distracted etc. But now, the first test models are done and I’m ready to begin working on the rest of the platoon, creating a force ready for the very final days of WW2.

Although the main platoon will be from Empress, these starting models are from Warlord’s metal Winter British Infantry. I’m not always a fan of the Warlord sculpting style (some of them are quite exaggerated) but I really like the look of these figures, wrapped up in cold weather gear, greatcoats and wearing the later gillet. They have that look of tiredness that really match up to the feel I wanted for my force.

Of course, the main thing with these guys was picking out a scheme that would work for them. As inspiration, I took the British Airborne paint set, picking out the Vallejo pots from it that I already owned and adding a few other ones. Here are my colours:

  • Dark Green (Vallejo 893): Helmet and neckscarf
  • English Uniform Brown (Vallejo 921): Trousers and canteen
  • Russian Uniform Green (Vallejo 924): Helmet camo strips, PIAT, mortars, guns, Respirator Bag
  • Khaki (Vallejo 988): Helmet camo strips, gaiters, webbing and backpack
  • Mahogany Brown (70.846): Jerkin
  • GW Leadbelcher: Metal pieces – Base colours for gun metal
  • GW Rhinox Hide: Rifle Wood (although I will vary this to have a mix of looks)

After the base colours, I also dry-brushed some Rhinox Hide around the bottom of the coat/trousers to show the splashes of mud. For the next set, I’m going to try and add some more on the knees and ankles, just to help make them muddy. Finally, the ever-useful Agrax Earthshade toned the colours down and helped them to mix.

For the base, I started with the Stirland Mud texture paint, ladling it on heavy. I also added a touch to the bottom of the clothing, to add a little texture to the mud splashes. For some colour, I added some Forest Ground Cover, touches of leaves and twigs perfect for the Reichswald. The downside to these base mixes if that they can be a little dusty, lightening the mud already in place. As a final touch to done this down, a light wash of Agrax Earthshade helped to darken it down.


Next step – four more Infantrymen, including the team Bren gun. And then after that, I’ll finish the Warlord guy off with the pair of Sten guns in the squad, as well as the two Ghille suited sniper I purchased from them at the same time.