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.

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.

Impressions: Gringo 40’s NVA – MENA Style

A wise man once said – “You will never have enough insurgents for wargaming”. And it’s kind of right! With such a variety of groups around the world, as well as the breadth and depth of equipment available to them. Due to this, ranges listed for Ultramodern can only go so far before you start wanting something a little fresher.

This led me to take a look at the Gringo 40’s range of NVA. Just glancing at the range, you don’t see the stereotypical Vietnamese look of the more rural fighters, and after seeing them painted up by Volley Fire Painting services, I just had to take a look. I picked up six figures (all that were available from the site when I purchased them) and started to begin my work with them.

First of all common features – the range is focused on the NVA fighting during the battle of Hue City. You don’t see the stereotypical pyjamas and conical hats that fill many other ranges. These are the NVA who moved into the city and then fought through the streets. As such, they are in shirts and trousers and all are equipped with chest rigs and a whole host of other kit to give them a well trained and supplied look.

As a minor note, I made a few modifications to them to make them a little bit more suitable for MENA. This was mainly me covering up sandalled feet. Although probably suitable to fighters in the region, I think the full covered feet is a more professional look, suitable for such a group of well armed fighters. Personally, I think I went a little heavy on the green stuff leading to some oversized feet, but I can work on that for next time.

The first four are standard AK armed fighters, their poses putting them in the midst of fighting. It’s a nice mix and they do look really good put next to each other, like a small group in the middle of the action. All of them wear the same shirt and trouser combination, with plenty of detail on the sculpting.

The rear shot shows off just how well equipped these guys are – a string of grenades across the back of their webbing, as well as a pile of pouches, water bottles and knives. I’m a fan of this look, especially when put alongside less well-equipped troops (such as the Spectre Militia ranges).

There is also a double pack of an NVA Leader and a female Runner. This pair works really well for my setting, including as it does a female fighter and a figure dressed in military garb. It’s easy to see the leader as an ex-regime fighter, still in his fatigues to show his experience and stand out among his irregular comrades.

As you can see, I did a few little green stuff tweaks. The female fighter received shoes and a headband, while the officer had the most vital addition – a moustache, to show his authority and make him look a little more suitable for the MENA area.

Of course, as with any range, some comparison shots are required. Here we have the classic lineup. From left to right: Empress, Eureka, Gringo40s, Spectre and Eureka. As you can see the Gringo40s NVA fit the size range perfectly, and from a distance, they will easily blend in with the rest. Weapons are a similar scale to Empress or Eureka, so don’t worry about them bending or breaking. Similarly, the figures arrived and needed barely any cleanup. Another win for them.

To conclude, I am very happy with the new additions to my milita collection. These guys (and girl) are nicely posed, fun to paint and packed full of character. The price per figure is very reasonable and postage is charged separately, meaning you aren’t overpaying for it, and arrives very promptly. Overall, I can heartily recommend both the company and the figures, no matter what setting they end up seeing action in. You can find them on the Gringo40’s site at http://www.gringo40s.com/north-vietnamese-army.html

Impressions: Spectre Contractor Ops

I’ve got to admit, there is something about using Private Military Contractors in-game. Maybe it’s the flexibility of the models, maybe it’s the ease they can be added to any theatre or the extra punch they add to the force with their training. Or maybe I just like the stereotypical plots which end up with Special Forces guys fighting turncoat contractors, the lure of money too strong for their corporate masters.

Either way, I am always looking for new contractor models and I have especially loved Spectre’s. The original Kickstarter came with three packs showing three different types – Alpha (the super modern CQB team), Bravo (the AK wielding boys) and Delta (the classic Western PMC look). These figures are some of my favourites from the original batch and I have been waiting to see other figures to fit that niche. The Tier 1 Operators are pretty good but sometimes you really want something a little more outlandish…

The Contractor Ops pack comes with six operators, each dressed in t-shirts and tactical trousers. Each one is also equipped with a plate carrier and load-bearing gear, plenty of spaces for ammo and all sorts of kit. One interesting thing I like is the mix of weapon systems – two guys are armed with suppressed Vector SMGs, two guys with Scorpion Evo SMGs, one with a Tavor bullpup assault rifle and the last with an X95 assault carbine. This gives you a range of kit – it’s cool to note the guys with the unsurpassed weapons have suppressed sidearms to help out. These weapons are not exactly a standard mix for any military force – however, they all come with the image of portraying a well-equipped team, standing out from the usual AR15 armed operators.

Looking at the backs of them, you can really see just how much equipment and detail each of the figures has. Their belt rigs are pretty stacked, and most have some sort of pack or carry kit for all the specialised toys. The models also have some pretty non-regulation haircuts and facial hair – perfect for the non-government look and pretty fun to paint. I went for the blonde mohawk on one and a mixture of blonde and purple on the other, just a dash of colour without standing out too much.

As a little comparison, here are a few of the different groups from Spectre that could be used in the similar role of Western Private Military Contractors, with a few tweaks to the paint job. The Tier 1 Operators are the most obvious – in fact, I decided when painting these new figures to make them the contrast to the Tier 1 guys, swapping the paint schemes around. Task Force Operators and the SAS ranges are maybe a little more heavily equipped but the Green Berets, with their light loadout, could with the right paint scheme pass for a few Contractors in contact.


Overall, I’m a big fan of this pack. As I said at the top, I’m a sucker for anything contractor releated and these figures really deliver. The mix of weapons and poses, the little non-standard details – all help to make them look the part. I’m really excited to get them out on the table, either hunting down some corporate infiltrators, protecting a VP of a department during a deal or helping the local forces by providing technical assistance on the ground.

Impressions: Spectre Miniatures Drone Systems

Ultramodern war, especially in the last few years, has been marked with several iconic items. MRAPs, quad eye NVGS, the list of equipment that screams out this current time period. But I think the one that a lot of people think of has to be the unmaned vehicles. Be it an off the shelf quad copter carrying a frag grenade up to the Predator drones hovering over the battlefield, the robot is starting to take the strain.

So naturally, it was only right for Spectre to include rules and figures for them in their range. The figures were released back in October and have been sitting on my painting bench for a while, looking rather annoyed at me as I got distracted by other things. However, I have finally set it right and they are now ready for the table. So let’s take a look!

Quadcopters

Let’s start on the small side with the quadcopters. Both of these drones are pretty much designed to be man-portable surveillance devices, able to nip up and grab the higher ground. Spectre has produced two versions, each coming in the box with one of the operators.

The common thread is that these things are tiny. Single pieces of metal with intricate detail that would be very easy to lose if left outside of their containers so I don’t recommend magnetising these. Additionally, both sit upon flight stands, using the items bought from Spectre themselves. The bases look like their normal plastic bases with a hole drilled in the centre to attach a plastic rod through. For the small drones, I decided to clip the rod in half to let it sit a little lower and less likely to topple over from errant hands and arms. Painting wise was also pretty simple. Black undercoat, white spray over, nuln oil to pick out the details. Anything else would, in my opinion, just be excessive.

Also, these things are a pain in the ass to photo.

Out of the two, the Tier 1 drone is the more elegant and sleek. It’s almost a racing drone, tiny body and four propeller assemblies; it looks like it could be easily held in a pouch before deploying it. Actually, it’s very Ghost Recon-esque, which is perfect for the Tier 1 guys.

The insurgent drone, on the other hand, is a slightly larger model. It looks a lot more like a commercial drone, complete with gimballed camera underneath. It definitely fits their look and feel. The camera also provides a nice surface for mounting the flight stand.

Puma UAV

Of course, sometimes you need a drone with a little more loiter time. This is where the Puma comes in. Easily transportable via vehicle, deployable by a man running with it once the engine has started, the Puma can loiter above the battlefield for 2 hours, deploying a multi-role camera to send back information to the operator.

As a model, it’s a single piece of resin. There was a little bit to clean up and had to straighten the wings a tiny bit with some hot water but otherwise, it was simply a case of sticking it to the flight stand and it was ready to go! Alternatively, you could just mount it in the back of your vehicles to have it stowed. Again same paint job as the smaller drone (black -> white -> nuln oil) – it really helps to pick out the panel details. I also glued it on at a slight angle, making it look like it’s in the middle of a pylon turn.

MAARS Robot

I’ve wanted these guys for far too long. Maybe I need to blame Medal of Honour Warfighter, where you got to drive one of these through some ruined buildings in Somalia, or maybe I just like making the Robot take the strain. The MAARS is an unmanned ground vehicle, similar to a bomb disposal bot but mounting a set of weapon systems (an M240 MMG and quad M203s), providing a remote-controlled fire support platform with none of the bitching an infantryman carrying this setup would provide.

Assembly was pretty simple (you can see it better in the unpainted image above). Most important thing is to dry fit every step of the way. In addition, take care with the belt feed for the M240 – I managed to lose it for one of my drones somewhere during assembly.

Drone Operators

Of course, you’ll be needing someone to control your drones. Some can be controlled from off-board but it’s always handy to have a controller on hand at close range, ideal for reacting much faster than their off-board counterpart. Something I love about both of these controller is how useful they can be – as well as controlling drones, they could be pressed into service as JTACs to bring in your off-board support or as hackers to fit the Specialist role mentioned in the new rulebook.

The Tier 1 Operator is modelled knelt, with his control unit in hand. I do really like the whole setup, from the baseball cap/headphones combo, the aerial on his back and even just the pose. Weapon wise, the Tier 1 operator continues that ranges use of the SIG MCX, except this time going for the Rattler, the tiny Personal Defence Weapon version of it.

Again as a contrast, the Insurgent drone control is seated on the phone while tapping away on his laptop. The civilian garb and rucksack I think will make him very useful for a variety of roles – I can definitely see him hitting the board a lot. On the other hand, he is lacking a weapon, so he may need a minder to keep him safe.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I think that drones add a brand new element that is unique to modern wargaming. Spectre’s releases so far provide a very nice starting point. Obviously, I’d love to see operators for some of the other ranges (a Nomad operator would be especially cool). But more importantly, just having them available at all means you can get interesting tactical situations setup and on the board, using the intelligence gathering (or even the offensive) capability to provide support to your forces. Overall, these are definitely some elements to pick up.

Impressions: Spectre Miniatures Ember Team

To say I have an interest in Black Powder Red Earth is putting things mildly. I think it’s an incredible series that, despite having a few issues with the pacing sometimes, details the activities of a PMC named Cold Harbor operating in international hotspots, all detailed in a striking (and sometimes very unpleasant) art style. It feels unlike any other comic book, presenting a realistic take on the world packed full of action and operators operating operationally.

More importantly, I love the look of these operators. Equipped to the nines with the latest military kit, their faces covered by bandannas, these guys look operators. Hearing that Spectre had managed to sign an agreement with Echelon Software to bring these guys to the wargaming table made me very happy indeed.

The first pack represents several operators from Ember team, a force shown in the Black Powder Red Earth Yemen series. This set includes 6 operators, all equipped with heavily modified 5.56 carbines. As someone who has an interest in all the latest gear (such is the curse of the airsofter) it was easy to spot that these guys are covered in all the latest and greatest kit. The carbines are decked out with parts that you may recognise if you have been on the BCM website recently, including cool details like offset red dot sights alongside short dot scopes or upgraded stocks and rail kits. The operators themselves, over their civilian clothing, have Haley Strategic rigs and belts. Even their side arms, a tiny detail, are setup like they are in the comics, in custom holsters and with red dots on their slides.

It’s important to note that this pack includes the NOD sprue – you don’t need to buy additional packs unless you want to swap some of the two tubes out for the panoramic versions (maybe your operators got a particularly well paying client this time).

As with all these Spectre figures, the posing is one of the unique features that sets them out from other manufacturers. This pack has a neat variation in terms of poses with two in the firing pose, two in the rapid movement and the last two readying up. Out of all of them though, I really have to say I’m a fan of the guy using his backup optics (pictured here in his red shirt). However, all of them look as cool and dynamic as expected.

It’s well worth looking at the selection of operators currently available from Spectre and showing off the different options each of them provides.

From left to right:

  • US Rangers – Much more uniform look. Everyone wearing the same uniform with similar kit
  • Task Force Operators – Varied style of uniform and equipment. Everything from full-sized plate carriers down to low profile chest rigs. Also the widest selection of weapons and poses
  • Ember Team – Civilian clothing mixed with a very specific set of gear and weaponry
  • Tier 1 Operators – Military-style clothing (can be painted as camo or plain colours), a wide selection of modern weapon systems, chest rigs and soft headgear.
  • SWAT – Older style of kit and weapon however still pretty uniform.

Painting wise, I decided to set these guys up as the QRF for my other Tier 1 guys, having stopped long enough to grab their helmets and NODs before going out on the street. As part of this, these guys were once again treated to the irregular force painting scheme I’ve used before, By picking a small number of colours and making sure each is used in different locations on a few models, it helps to make the team look a little more unified. With these operators, there was also a third region (as well as the shirt and trousers) with the bandannas to populate and I’m pretty happy with the overall look.

So what do I think? Well, I think Spectre has done a fantastic job of capturing the style of the Ember team operators. These guys look exactly like the team from the comics, and if you go hard on the original scheme you could make some really impressive looking models.

If your warzone doesn’t include Cold Harbor, then these guys would still be ideal for any number of heavily armed and well trained groups, from private military contractors to special operations forces. And best of all, you get to put the very latest in gucci kit on the board

I’m also looking forward to what comes next from this partnership. Ember is from the Yemen books but there are other operators from the earlier books that are also pretty stylish looking, especially as someone who loves the baseball cap and ear defender look. This first pack also only includes troops armed with assault rifles – it would be handy to get some alternative weapons for different situations. Either way, I’ll be keeping a close eye on them.

So remember – All Kill No Capture.


As an aside, I also recently ordered the Ember team ID patch from Echelon Software itself. And when it arrived, this spilled out of the packaging (along with a few stickers).

Nice try Echelon, but I’m already hooked.

Range Impressions: Spectre Tier 1 Operators

A frequent question people have when starting to collect Spectre figures is which range to get first. For those wanting their own tiny Special Forces team, the Task Force Operators range is obviously the first stop. However, for sheer versatility, I really have to recommend the Tier 1 Operators.

The common identity to all these figures is for a set of operators in cutting edge gear while wearing practical clothing that makes them useful for a whole selection of paint schemes, from camo to the latest in Operator fashion, plaid. All of them are wearing modern chest rigs and belt kits, with retention holsters for their suppressed Glock. The weapons are all upgraded with the usual mix of attachments perfect for sweeping and clearing. I really like the variation in this range – the Task Force Operator guys are much more uniform while these figures look much more like they have chosen their kit based on personal preference.

Riflemen

The core of any force is your riflemen and in this range you have seven of them. Each pack is a different style of pose, from enaging the enemy to moving under fire. There is a nice mix of bare heads and caps, as well several figures equipped with shades.

With all these figures, the main assault rifle is the Sig Sauer MCX with all the trimmings – suppressor, laser, red dot and various sights. This makes them a pretty powerful rifle when clearing rooms. The MCX is also usable with the specialist .300 Blackout round, designed for superior performance while suppressed.

The final rifleman is actually a female operator, which is a neat addition and perfect for representing any number of characters in your special operations force.

Support

As cool as the riflemen are, the specialists are where the fun begins. There is a definitely feel of close range firepower to these guys and the first specialist, armed with a MPX SMG, is perfect for being a pointman. The SMG’s bonus in close quarters makes it perfect for popping sentries or being the first through the door.

Of course, you may want something a little more dramatic for room clear and there is where the two shotgun equipped figures come in. The first is armed with an Origin 12, a rapid fire shotgun that can be used as an automatic in Spectre Operations. If you need to put the suppression down at close range, this weapon is great.

The second figure, we covered in an impressions piece last year, is going a different approach with his shotgun. The Six12 is only a combat shotgun rather than an automatic but comes with a suppressor. This figure is also wielding a tomahawk perfect for breaking locks and busting heads.

A great bonus to both these guys is the fact they are still carrying their assault rifles, so they can easily join in the mid-range firefight while moving to the objective.

Of course, not every firefight will be at close range. So, you’re going to want some guys to bring the pain at longer rangers. First up is the LMG – every squad needs a base of fire and a suppressed LMG fills that slot. It also has a the usual optics upgrade, making it very useful went approaching the objective.

On the other hand, you might need to take out a few enemies in one go. To help with this, the Tier 1 range includes the ever useful MGL. As well as explosives, multiple smoke grenades can help to cover a rapid exfiltration. In addition, he still has his assault rifle when you need a little more precision.

Conclusions

As I said at the start, I really like the Tier 1 range. I’ve also loved how many different variations of them that people have painted on the Spectre Operations group – everything from guys in full camo to run as advisors down to the plaid look more commonly seen on competition shooters. For a new player, 12 figures is actually a pretty sensible amount and gives you plenty of options when building a mission.

In terms of who to use them as almost anything – Western Special Forces, highly trained PMCs or federal agents ready to steal some money from the cartel (if you’re a fan of Sabotage). What is really cool is putting these guys up against other Special Forces, meaning both players have to be much more careful when trying to fire and move as everyone is pretty effective.

Wishlist

Honestly, this range is pretty complete. It’s a nice mix of poses and equipment. So apart from the stock answer (give me more!), it would be cool to see some more variation, or maybe even someone with other futuristic SIG guns like the tiny MCX Rattler for some real close quarters action.

Impressions: Spectre S.W.A.T.

One thing that’s great about wargaming is just how broad you can be. From 54mm games where players control single figures, all the way down to tiny scales where you are basically playing with painted pins to represent your armies of soldiers, there is something for everyone. And even within relatively niche periods, such as Ultramodern wargaming, there can many different settings that let you play out the whole breadth of modern-day gunfighting.

One setting that Spectre provides for is the modern day cops and robbers, thanks to their range of both criminals and armed police. These are ideal for anyone interested in this setting and today, we’re going to take a look at their SWAT team.

The Spectre SWAT range at the moment consists of 6 figures. All of them are geared up, based on very latest kit US police departments are issuing. Every officer has body armour, FAST helmets, eye protection and more kit on them, including their trusty sidearm. The uniforms are a mixture, but there are plenty of trousers with built in kneepads to show the operators among the bunch. All of the figures are posed aiming or at the low ready, perfect for stacking up on each other.

The differences come with their equipment. The bulk of the force is armed with AR15 pattern rifles, covered in rails and mounting a selection of accessories. Some figures have magnifiers behind their red dots, while others are just using the EoTechs. 

The other two officers are your specialists, ideal for winning in a close-quarters firefight. One is carrying an MPX SMG, great for when you need manoeuvrability in tight spaces. The other carries a KSG shotgun, perfect for breaching and clearing. Both of these guns also have red dots, ideal for actions where close quarters combat is expected.

So, let’s talk about how I intend to use them. I have to admit, my focus when wargaming is really military or SF operations in MENA and Africa – partially because I have the terrain and figures for it and partially because that style of action is more interesting than drug cartels and police actions to me. So, how best to use these guys in a more militarised setting?

Well, the figures are definitely well equipped but are not quite as well armed as the Task Force Operator figures – these guys have standard M4s rather the 416s of their better funded/trained brothers. This means that the SWAT range is ideal if you need some local SF figures with western style equipment – similar to your main operators but still visually distinctive.

I’ve gone the contractor route with my guys. Thinking these are the QRF sat waiting to rescue the principal or drag their buddies (possible from the Tier 1 Operator Range) out of the fire when things go wrong. Alternatively, they may end up being the bad guys when the inevitable third act twist takes place and suddenly the operators have to fight against almost near-tier adversaries.

Now I just have to get them on the board…