Wednesday, 12 January 2022

15mm Sci Fi - Old Crow Provider Transports aka Space Trucks!

 Yesterday I had (you guessed it), more free time.  So I decided it was a good opportunity to finish off the last of my Old Crow vehicles, three wheeled Provider Transports.

Provider Transports deliver vital supplies to the distant US Marine outposts on the planet Glory. 
The fight against Space Communism requires a never ending stream of beans and bullets.

Join the US Star Marines and fight for freedom across the galaxy and defend against alien invaders!

There is a saying: Amateurs study tactics; Professionals study Logistics.  While its great to have tons of combat vehicles, transports and logistics vehicles are also very important (game-wise).  They provide excellent objectives, to both save, capture and or destroy, turning an otherwise boring meeting engagement into something actually interesting.

The ADATS (Air Defense/Anti-Tank System) provides protection against attacks from the Democratic People's Republic of Glory's aerospace forces (DPRG). 
Communist aggression must be thwarted!

The missile system is removable and easily replaced with cargo containers.

Ammunition must be unloaded and secured.  It will be used soon.  Medical bots prepare to load wounded heroes for return to rear area hospitals.  

The vehicles were painted in the same scheme as my US Tomorrow's War forces.  The blog post can be found here: 

The convoy CO oversees all aspects of the delivery.  
"Fuel and ammunition are needed!  Move quickly!  Hurry!"

The cargo pods are of course removable.  

Aerial Drones keep watch from above and beyond....

Another productive mid-week.

Tuesday, 11 January 2022

15mm Sci Fi - Old Crow 6mm Buildings

Last night I had some free time available (on a Monday no less), so making use of that I managed to bang off more of my WIP pile: several Old Crow 6mm buildings that I had lying around, specifically a habitation block and two communication towers.

Venturan Star Marines patrol the Endurium fuel processing plant on Hades III

    I have found that certain Old Crow 6mm buildings work very well at 15mm scale, specifically as both scatter terrain and as smaller specialized buildings (communication hubs, power units, ect).  Typically I paint these in my standard sci fi building pattern: Tamiya Medium Grey, highlighted with Tamiya Royal Light Grey and Vallejo White Grey.  

The buildings scale well enough, and many are modular so you can attach additional blocks if you wish.  

Warbots provide the squad with the necessary heavy firepower.

Endurium is vital to interstellar travel.

 Now I have to start working on the huge pile of Brigade Models vehicles and buildings that I got during their Christmas 2021 sale.  Stay tuned.  

Saturday, 8 January 2022

15mm Sci Fi - Old Crow JagdLancer Tank Destroyer & Lancer Heavy Tank

Happy New Year folks!  Over the holidays I managed little painting.  However, I did manage to bang off the last of my Space Nazi force: Old Crow Lancer Tanks and JagdLancer Tank Destroyers.

The Lancer MBT is simply a Sabre Tank hull mounted on the Lancer Heavy APC.  Old Crow sells the turrets separately for this very conversion.  Available in tracked, hover or grav versions, it makes a convincing sci-fi tank.  My top deck stowage is removable of course.  

The JagdLancer is a vehicle that is available, but it does not appear on Jez's old web site.  It is one of those hidden gems that you just "need to know exists".    The heavy tanks will likely become my King Tigers in World of Tanks, whereas regular Sabre tanks will stand in for regular Tiger tanks.

The barrels are from GZG.  The actual barrels that Old Crow provides are fine, but are very stubby.  I had these lying around and thought they fit better with my concept for the vehicle.  In World of Tanks terms, these could be JagdTigers or JagdPanzer E100s.

JagdLancer from Old Crow

Lancer Heavy Tank from Old Crow

This year I will be focusing less on figures and more on vehicles.  I have a ton from Brigade Models to paint up, as well as miniatures from World of Tanks.

Thursday, 30 December 2021

World of Tanks Miniatures Game - A Review

 This Christmas my youngest son surprised me with a thoughtful gift: The World of Tanks Miniatures Game.  We played a couple of games this Christmas and it was a pleasant surprise to say the least.

I had seen this game before in the stores.  However I always passed it by since I did not want to start collecting WW2 tanks in addition to my already huge inventory of Sci Fi tanks.  The game is a tabletop approximation of video game of the same name.  Those familiar with that game, or WW2 armor will be right at home.

There are many unboxing videos on the net, so I will not go into depth on what is inside.  Suffice to say, you receive 4 tanks and their associated cards, upgrade cards for said tanks, dice, counters and 2D terrain.  Everything you need to play is in the box.  

The whole concept is similar to X-Wing: your stock tanks can be upgraded by spending part of your point total (typical games are 200 point affairs).  These upgrades can make a huge difference in the vehicle's performance.  The good thing is that unlike X-wing,  if you never cease plating this system, you can use these miniatures in other WW2 tabletop battles.  

The miniatures are well casted, with an acceptable level of detail.  To be honest, I was rather surprised and impressed with their overall quality.  Some tanks have holes for pintle machineguns and or antennas.  

The current game consists of 5 different tanks for each of the 4 nations, 20 total.  More are planned for future releases.  Considering the number of tanks in the WoT video game, the number of models that could potentially be released is large.

The models are pre-primed, and could be used right out of the box if you so wish.  Serious gamers will of course paint these models.  

The counties represented are Germany, the USSR, the United States and Great Britain.  Tanks have several categories which dictate their performance: 

  • Tank Type: Light, Medium, Heavy, Tank Destroyer, Self-Propelled Gun (all of the tanks in the Core set are medium tanks).  Each type comes with a special ability which is tied to the class.
  • Point Cost: do you go with cheaper tanks and overwhelm with numbers, or more expensive models with more abilities?
  • Firepower: the number of attack dice they throw...more is better.  The maximum is 6.
  • Survivability: the number defense dice they throw...more is better.  The maximum is 6.
  • Mobility: the number of times they can move per turn...again, more is better.  
  • Initiative: when they act in the turn in relation to all other vehicles on the map.  Higher is better.
  • Hit Points: when you reach zero its all over.  Your vehicle becomes a wreck and potential cover for everyone else.  The colored zones only come into play with Crew Upgrades.  Some crew members actually perform better if they are about to die.  Go figure.  
  • Crew: This allows certain Upgrade Cards to be played.  You cannot have two upgrades for the same crew position.

Some tank types provide different abilities, as do some individual tanks within a class.  There is a lot of variation to be had.  For example, Medium Tanks can re-roll a  missed Firepower die, whereas Heavy Tanks can re-roll a failed Survival die.

In the base game, Great Britain has the decided advantage.  The Cromwell stats are clearly the best, with the T-34 not far behind.  The Germans are the worst off, with the slowest tank and the lowest initiative.

Each turn is broken down into several phases, the Command phase (where you roll for repairs and "Advantage”, which is similar to Initiative in RPG combat rounds), Movement then Shooting phases.  Movement occurs in Initiative Order, starting at 1 and going up from there.  Shooting goes in reverse Initiative order, with the highest number shooting first.  If players have tied Initiative scores, then the player with "Advantage' goes first.  

Initiative is the key in the game.  Moving after your opponent is a huge advantage as is shooting before the enemy does.  Low initiative tanks will be forever one step behind their opponents. A crafty player with weaker but higher initiative tanks could possibly outmaneuver a larger and more dangerous foe and get in an ideal position for a killing shot. 

Initiative scores (as can some other scores) of tanks can be increased by purchasing various Upgrade Cards (Crew, Modules, Consumables, ect).  This is where each game can become unique since each tank has almost endless configurations.  Should you invest points in upgrades and field fewer but more capable tanks, or forgo those upgrades and trust to numbers to overwhelm your opponent?

Movement is handled by a special tool: a Movement Arrow.  You place the arrow at any point on the tank and move the vehicle up to the distance of the arrow (stopping at the base of the arrow head).  It is similar in concept to X-Wing and Song of Blades and Heroes.  This negates the use of a tape measure in the game.  This is a fairly loose system, allowing for a lot of maneuverability without the fuss of X-Wing.  

Prior to movement.

After movement.

Line of Sight is infinite as are weapon ranges; only hills and buildings block actual LOS.  A laser line is very helpful with determining LOS: if you can measure a line from the turret center to any point of an enemy vehicle you can fire at it.  The caveat is that, unless you can see at least 3 different corners of an enemy vehicle it is considered "in cover" which is beneficial to defense.  

Armor facing is very simple: everything on a horizonal plane from the front hull of your tank is a frontal shot.  Everything behind this is a flank shot.  Flank shots reduce Survivability by 1 die.  Some tanks (such as the Panther) are even more vulnerable to flank shots and reduce the number of dice by 2.  This vulnerability can lead to potentially fatal shots to even previously undamaged vehicles.   

Shooting is straight forward: the dice are 6 sided: each has 3 blank (miss) sides, 1 critical hit side and 2 regular hit sides.  When defending you roll the same dice; each critical hit or regular hit the defender rolls negates one of the attackers dice.  Most tanks have low Survivability scores, but this can be increased by using cover (which grants 1 additional dice) and by movement.  Each point of movement used during the turn by the target tank grants 1 additional defense die.  Also, each point of movement used during the turn by the firer grants the defender 1 additional defense die.  Standing still makes it easier to hit your target, but moving keeps you alive.  Both attack and defense dice are capped at 6, so there is a hard limit on what can be done at both ends.  Some tanks allow re-rolls to attack and defense dice; there is potentially a lot going on during this phase.  

Some of the various types of Critical Hits

Critical Hits are resolved with a separate card deck.  Some hits cause no superficial damage (i.e. loss of hit points) but degrade the vehicle in some way (eg: the crew bails out rendering the tank inert until they remount it), while others can be catastrophic (an ammo explosion or an engine fire) causing quite a number of hit points of damage.  Critical Hits add a lot of excitement and tension since you may hang on to that last hit point due to sheer dumb luck, or go out in a blaze of glory due to a lucky hit to your ammo rack.

Sci Fi Vehicles: Old Crow, Brigade Models, Darkest Star, GZG

Since I do not have any WW2 tanks painted up we used Sci Fi vehicles for our games.  Personally, I have no problem with this.  I am a fan of alternate history, and the rules are generic enough to be used across multiple historical spectrums.  Modern Sci Fi vehicles are larger than 1:100 scale WW2 models, but some of them do come close in size.  My inventory is vast so I already have all 20 of the current vehicles in the game covered.  It would be simple enough to take a photo of the tank I am using in place of the regular one and stick it to the tank card with white tac.  This would prevent confusion as to what is what.  

With a little imagination anything is possible.  Space T-34s, Space Shermans, ect.

The game is normally played on a 3'x3' table, but with larger models I would go with 4'x4' to accommodate the size difference.  Eventually I will add all of the actual vehicles to my model pool, and I will likely paint them as well!  This is somewhat necessary due to the fact that without the additional cards from the Booster Packs the game would be rather bland over due time.  Using both historical and sci fi vehicles also opens up the game and prevents it from becoming stale.  Sometimes I want Space Nazis, not regular Nazis.  

The game is amenable to House Rules.   Board game Geek forums are a good place to connect with folks who have already developed their own.  

Overall I am pleased with the game.  I would not normally be interested in collectible games, but this one hit the right spot for me.  It is fast and varied enough to allow enjoyment past a couple of plays.  If you love tanks (I do) then you will likely enjoy this game.  

Wednesday, 29 December 2021

World of Tanks Miniatures Game AAR - in 15mm Sci Fi

 This Christmas my youngest son surprised me with a gift of miniatures: The World of Tanks Miniatures Game.  I was formally a WoT player on the XBox for 7+ years, so he knew I would like this.  Sadly, I dont have any WW2 tanks painted, so I thought: why not use my 15mm Sci Fi vehicles for the interim.  A tank is a tank.  There are many reviews online for this game so I will not go over the rules here.  Suffice to say, they are simple.  The game is similar to X-Wing, where you can equip your stock tanks with upgrade cards such as crew, modules and consumables (ammo, supplies, ect).  This creates a varied play experience each time.  The game avoids the movement fussiness of X-wing, which was very refreshing.  

We setup a relatively simple battle: Base Capture.  Soviets vs the Germans.  The Germans used two stock Tiger tanks and two Panzer IVs, while the Russians fielded a single IS-2 and three T-34s.  Each side had a single base: a Soviet forward command bunker and a German supply dump.  Civilian vehicles, trees and other stand alone terrain pieces served as walls, allowing cover and a temporary hull down position before being destroyed by incoming fire or movement  

The Battle of Villin Farm

For the Germans, I used Old Crow vehicles: Sabre tanks for Tigers and Gladius tanks for Panzer IVs.  Soviet forces were equipped with Khurasan Red Faction tanks.  

The goal was simple: the Germans were attempting to breakthrough a narrow pass in the Caucuses Mountains and had built up a forward supply base to support the attack.  The Soviets mission was to disrupt the attack by destroying the supply depot. 

The odds favoured the Soviets slightly.  Their tanks have a higher Initiative rating than the Germans and their T-34s can move three times whereas the none of the German tanks could move more than twice.  Their higher initiative meant they moved last and fired first, giving them a tactical advantage and their increased speed allowed for greater mobility and flexibility.  The IS-2 also boasted a heavier gun (122mm) than the Tiger (88mm); it is a serious threat to any of the German tanks, especially the Panzer IVs. 

Turn 1: Both sides cautiously advance, attempting to get into defensive positions.  Fire is exchanged between both forces, but, was inconclusive. 

Turn 2: The Panzerwaffe moves up aggressively on both flanks while Soviet forces take hull down positions opposite to their advance.  The IS-2 remains on the central hill, hull down and in a commanding position.  

Furious fire is exchanged between both groups.  The lead Panzer IV is caught in the open and is disabled by a lucky shot to her tracks, leaving the vehicle exposed and vulnerable.  The Soviets come off worse, with shells shattering both solar panels a T-34 had been using for cover and knocking it out after suffering multiple critical hits.  

Turn 3: The Panzerwaffe begins an  aggressive push towards the Soviet base.  In the north the Panzer IV fails its repair roll, leaving it disabled in the open, and in the sights of the IS-2 and a T-34, both in hull down positions.  In the south, a single T-34 takes up a firing position in the woods beside their base.

Fire is exchanged, with both sides suffering heavily.  The immobilized Panzer IV is easily knocked out, while the T-34 defending the base suffers 3 hits, taking it down to 1 hull point.  

Turn 4: The Panzerwaffe continues its advance, slowly against the Soviet base.  The Tiger defending the German supply dump remains on the hill in a hull down defensive position.  Russian forces re-deploy slightly, with the damaged T-34 falling back to block the Tiger's line of sight to it, while the IS-2 moves slightly to cover the southern approaches.  

Fire is exchanged, with both sides suffering losses.  The damaged T-34 is knocked out, while the other Panzer IV suffers a minor hit while the crew of the northern Tiger tank bails out due to a lucky critical hit.  This is potentially disastrous for the Panzerwaffe since their base is potentially wide open to capture.   Until they pass a repair roll the tank will remain inert.  

Turn 5: The crew of the Tiger remounts their vehicle due to a successful repair roll, which is crucial to their defense of the Supply Dump.    In the south, their Schwerpunkt advances boldly, with the Panzer IV and Tiger rushing the Soviet base. Russian forces redeploy to save the situation, with their remaining T-34 moving to cut off the German advance.   This is bad news for the Panzerwaffe, since their defending Tiger has no targets.

German boldness is punished: the Panzer IV is knocked out by a devastating shot from the IS-2.  The Soviets suffer no losses from return fire from the advancing Tiger.  

Turn 6:  German forces continue their desperate attack, with both Tigers advancing: one towards the base, taking cover behind a Soviet wreck, and another advancing down the center.  Russian forces see an opportunity and pounce on the lone Tiger near their base.  If they can overwhelm it victory is all but assured.

Several lucky shots later and the Tiger is in rough shape: 4 damage and the crew bailing out due to a critical hit.  The German offensive has collapsed.  

Turn 7: The Tiger fails its repair roll, meaning the crew refused to remount their vehicle, leaving the tank inert.  This spells doom for the Tiger.  Soviet forces pounce and easily knock it out with multiple critical hits, with the final blow coming from an ammo detonation.  German return fire from their sole remaining tank is ineffective.  

At this point we called the game.  The Germans had no realistic chance of capturing the base and were in danger of being surrounded.  It was a good game, with excitement for both sides.  WoT the Miniatures game is an excellent introductory wargame and provides a fast play experience without undo complexity.  

I need to get collecting I think.  

Friday, 24 December 2021

15mm Sci Fi - Old Crow Apartments

I guess this could be considered Old Crow Week.  

Sadly, Old Crow makes only two buildings at 1:100 scale: a large apartment block and a smaller one.  As usual however, their quality is superb.  I have two of the large and 4 of the smaller ones.  They paint up quickly and are suitably generic for just about any setting.

Each side of the buildings have a different frontage.  

Old Crow Small Apartment Block.

The buildings themselves were painted with Tamiya Medium Grey, then accented with other warm greys and finally highlighted with Vallejo Grey White.  Nothing fancy.

Old Crow Large Apartment Block

I used Vallejo pigments (in a dry form) to weather the buildings, giving them a grungy look, fitting for a colony world or slum.  

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