Wednesday 29 July 2020

Optimus Primates

After a little bit of a painting hiatus, I'm back to 'work' and have started on my Ape Revolution Committee (henceforth referred to as A.R.C.) for Pulp City, beginning with the Primate of Science and the Ape-Bot.

I picked up this pair and three others from Ebay for a bargain price (mainly due to them missing their cards and one model missing an arm - more on that in a future post), and I started with these two because they struck me as the quickest wins.

The Primate of Science is one of the leaders of the A.R.C. (along with the Primates of Mystery and Nature), and unlike the leaders of other factions is in no way a heavy hitter, more a support piece, and only a Level 1 character.

Given his scientific focus, I've gone for a Tron-vibe with him, doing a simple base of contrast black and picking out details in electric blue.

For Ape-Bot I was struck by how the armour playing and star on his shoulder reminded me of my Soviet Tanks, and so I decided to run with it. This idea makes 'sense' in that the A.R.C. appear more than a touch communist in their outlook ("Apes together strong!"). The vehicle numbers also imply that Ape-Bot is simply one of many constructed for the cause.

This has also given me the idea to go for a military theme with the rest of the models, with the aim of suggesting that this is a fully mobilised ape-insurgency. Obviously the Primate of Science is an exception to this, but he's in charge, he gets to design his own uniform.

It's nice to get painting again because the last few weeks have seen the tally moving in the wrong direction. Sadly, this has continued with my purchase of six dinosaurs...

Acquired: 238
Painted: 205

Tuesday 21 July 2020

New Avengers: Breakout, Issue #3

After an almost two year hiatus, I've finally returned to my solo Marvel campaign centering on the New Avengers: Breakout campaign.

The gist of the storyline is that the Avengers have disbanded until person or persons unknown have staged a mass breakout from the Raft maximum security prison. Captain America, Iron Man and Spider-Man have individually rushed to the scene to help contain the situation, which included stopping Count Nefaria. See Issue #1.

Meanwhile, Matt Murdock, Luke Cage and Jessica Drew were visiting one of Murdock's clients when the lights went out and they narrowly escaped Hydro-Man, Zzaxx and Venom. See Issue #2.

Now the heroes need to see if they can work together to prevent a horde of prisoners from escaping into the night.

For this scenario I had Iron Man, Spider-Man and Captain America trying to hold the communications centre against an increasing number of escapees seeking to call for some sort of extraction with the heroes trapped below arriving later. The game would last until one side was knocked out or a villain was alone (i.e. no heroes to distract them) on top of the comms centre at the end of a round.

I'm not sure where I'm going to go next with this, however, I suspect I will follow the story from the comics (and the campaign in the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying rulebook) and eventually head for the Savage Land...mainly because I already have a board for it.

In other news, I've done no painting, but I have bought some 'beastmen' that are definitely not the Thundercats from Crooked Dice and Leon of Kitbash Games has been having a clear out and sent me a bunch of minis that are destined to be S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and Sentinel Prowlers in further installments.

Acquired: 232
Painted: 203

Friday 10 July 2020

Opening A New Front

Last weekend, I was able to have my first proper wargame in a long time. Matt came over, and with social distancing enforced by the gaming table between us, we christened (well, it was more of a baptism of fire) his new Japanese Bolt Action army.

To do this week headed to 1939 and the somewhat obscure Khalkin Gol campaign, which ostensibly began as a border skirmish between the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo, and the Soviet satellite state of Mongolia but rapidly escalated.

When it came to setting up the table, Google Earth images of the battlefield presented a view which certainly challenged some of the conventions of wargaming, such as cover, and so I introduced a bit of artistic license, which included a dry river bed, a few hills and a scattering of scrub and bushes.

It would still be an unusually barren battlefield, but given that the Japanese objective was to cross the board, it at least offered on protection. Which would potentially be helped by the attack happening at night. However, as it happened the scenario rules said that each round there was a 50/50 chance of lightning removing the cover of darkness.

It must have been one hell of a storm, because all but one turn was lit up.

Our armies were a bit mismatched too. I've been adding to my Soviet force for several years, whilst Matt has only had his Japanese a couple of months. Combining this with the requirement that I include three Inexperienced units meant that I had a distinct numbers advantage.

Soviet Army
HQ: Senior Lt, Captain, Commissar
Infantry: 3x Inexperienced Squads, 3x Regular Squads, MMG team
Artillery: 45mm Light AT Gun
Armour: BA-6, T-26a

Japanese Army
HQ: Second Lt, Captain, Medic, Artillery Observer
Infantry: 2x Regular Squads, 1 Large Veteran Squad, 2x Lt Mortar Teams
Armour: Chi-Ha

After two turns featuring little more than movement and some desultory shooting, the third turn saw the conflict heat up in a big way.

The Japanese objective meant that they had no option but to head directly for the Soviet hordes.

A task that was made even more daunting when the Soviet line was stiffened by the arrival of almost all their reserves, including two armoured vehicles - however, neither the Soviet BA-6 and T-26, nor the Japanese Chi-Ha would prove decisive, as all would suffer from dreadful accuracy.

Despite the big guns misfiring, the large Japanese veteran squad was subjected to massed Soviet rifle fire producing a somewhat offensive number of casualties, taking the sting of this threatening unit.

With their numbers being whittled away, one Japanese squad got into charge range, hoping to get the jump on the Soviets at the start of the following turn.

But it was the Russians that took the initiative and swarmed into a furious assault with a significant numbers advantage, and when the dust settled...

...thing had not exactly got their way.

The lone survivor scurried into the cover of the river bed, but was mercilessly gunned down by the Russian Captain...

...who was then subsequently assaulted and beheaded by the Japanese commander.

Meanwhile, on the left flank things were going the Soviets' way. Supported (to an extent) by the MMGs of the T-26, a squad of Siberians drove the Japanese off a hill. However, having done this, the squad then refused to do anything else for the remainder of the battle.

Unfortunately, the Japanese didn't know that this was the end of Siberian involvement and so the Chi-Ha advanced cautiously, all too aware that the unit on the hill was bristling with anti-tank grenades.

The Japanese line stalled in the cover of the river bed, lacking the firepower to severely impact the Soviet line, whilst the Russians were only able to chip away at the entrenched Japanese.

Faced with this impasse, the Japanese commander and his attendant launched what would surely be a suicidal charge...

...but no, again the Soviets met their match in the ferocity of the Japanese blades. However, the rampage was eventually brought to an end by the Commissar, posthumously awarded Hero of the Soviet Union after losing his life whilst killing the sword wielding captain.

In what passed for an armoured engagement, the Chi-Ha's light howitzer immobilised the T-26, which lacked the armament to do anything in return. Meanwhile, the Siberians, who definitely equipped to deal with the lightly armoured Japanese tank, looked on from the safety of their hill.

Despite the almost successful thrust of the Chi-Ha, weight of fire had mopped up almost all of the rest of the Japanese army. The Red Army had clinched victory and would retain control of eastern Mongolia.

This game was a tough ask for Matt, who had stretched his small army to the limit to get to 1200 points, but had to advance towards my firing line. To add injury to insult, his task was made nigh on impossible by the lighting exposing his forces to my full weight of fire. I'm pretty sure that with a more infantry heavy force and a bit more darkness, I might have found more of my units on the point end of a bandai charge.

I'm looking forward to playing some more games on this theatre as the terrain gave a very different feel to the game, forcing us to think differently about how to preserve units. It was also nice to play a game where there was a distinct lack of monster tanks dominating the battlefield.

What's more, the Khalkin Gol campaign offers some interesting options for scenarios, including cavalry clashes, unsupported tanks and heroically fighting overwhelming odds to the last man.

There's more to come.

Friday 3 July 2020

The T is for Transformer

A slight change of pace from Pulp City, I've painted a Soviet T-26a tank ready for my first (socially distanced) game of Bolt Action in three months.

As ever Russian tanks are a doddle to paint because the Soviet Union conveniently did nothing fancy with their paintwork during WW2.

The tank is from Rubicon and the kit has about ten options for the specific model of T-26. This one is the first type (hence the 'a'), with two turrets armed with an MMG each, an arrangement that would quickly find itself obsolete in the early years of the war.

However, this is not a massive problem because although the kit is designed for you to build a single T-26 model, with some careful planning (and a little bit of cardboard for a hatch) you can also field the same hull with a different turret arrangement as an OT-26 flamethrower tank.

Despite the thin armour and propensity to explode, the OT-26 has more uses in layer war games, as it not only does something the rest of my Soviet tanks don't, it also will be more specifically suited to clearing urban areas of tenacious german defenders.

Additionally, it is also possible to switch the turret out again to field the T-26b, armed with a light anti-tank gun. This isn't going to stop a Panther, but it might give some Japanese tanks (which have suddenly trundle over the horizon) pause for thought.

On the subject of the Japanese, my new T-26 (the specific model I'lluse is currentlya military secret) will be taking the field against them this weekend as Matt and I battle over barren landscape of Khalkin Gol, pitting my conscripted Soviet hordes against his shiny new veteran Japanese.

Despite being able to use it as three different tanks, the T-26 only counts as one model painted, but I've not bought anything new recently. However, I might possibly have started a brand new army...

Acquired: 217
Painted: 203