Category: 15mm

Wargaming supplies in Seoul: Neighbor Hobby

Scouring around for places to pick up paints and supplies I stumbled across likely the new Mecca for hobby supplies for me, Neighbor Hobby. It’s nestled away unassumingly in the lower floor of an office building. But despite it’s location, they have a pretty amazing stock of model kits of all sorts.
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There is a great selection of military models. Unfortunately for fans of Bolt Action, they carry only Tamiya 1/48 kits, but they seem to have a full selection from that line. As 1/72 and 1/76 scale kits go though, they have a great choice of tanks, soldiers, and terrain. With buildings I usually use 20 mm, even for 28mm stuff as it keeps a smaller footprint on the table and looks okay. I find true 28mm scale buildings just a little too big and even the smallest 2 story house seems to dwarf the rest of the table terrain. So having a lot of building model kits for sale was a pleasant surprise.
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Now for paints, brushes, and other supplies you are set. There is a great selection of paints from Testors, Tamiya, AK Interactive, MIG, as well as my go to for painting, Vallejo. It’s a wonderful amount of choices and stock for both brush and airbrush painters. They also carry a complete selection of Testors and Tamiya sprays. Well worth checking out.
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To get there isn’t too difficult. Take subway line 2 to Hongik University and get off exit number 3. You need to cross the street and footpath park and take a side street, then go right. Once you hit a main street go left and it will be in an office building.

Blue pin near the top marks the location.

Blue pin near the top marks the location.

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The entrance is actually a bit odd. Going behind the building from the parking lot you enter on the first floor. You will follow a long hall towards the elevator, and can find the shop directly.
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However if you enter the front of the building you are actually on the 2nd floor and have to take the lift down to the 1st floor.

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All in all Neighbor Hobby is a fantastic place to pick up military models, paints, and modeling supplies. It certainly is one of the top places to get wargaming model supplies in the city. It’s also in the same neighborhood as Rolling Dice so a great stop to get a double scoop of geek supplies while in Seoul.

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Paint scheme reference cards

PaintRefAThis week just a small tip for folks delving into miniature painting. If you are like me you might have a lot of different game systems and army projects going (sometimes several simultaneously). Once an army is done, going back to add a few troops or units is always an option. However it can be a tad difficult to remember what paints were used before for that force.

Another issue is that occasionally your miniatures will get some dings and dents. You may find needing to touch up a miniature or two. So trying to think back what paints you originally used for a base coat along with the proper wash might be a problem. It’s compounded if you’ve been painting a slew of other stuff since then too.

To get around this I use note cards. I write down the paints used for base coats, washes, and highlights. Additionally I pair this information up with the appropriate parts of the models. Along with the name of the paint, I also place a small dab of the paint color on the card.

This way I know exactly what colors I used for say, the webbing on my US Marines, along with the colors used for the drybrush highlight too. The color reference is also there in case I have problems tracking down a specific paint. I then have a hue to compare to if seeking a replacement paint from a different manufacturer. Another plus is I can take the card with me into the shop to directly compare.

They are very handy. I’ve got a slew of unfinished 15mm Russians I’ve been sitting on for a couple of years now. At least with the paint reference cards I have some confidence I can revisit them again using the same color scheme as I had done in the past, ensuring that my army will have a uniform look. So consider keeping track of the paints you use on your minis. While I find note cards handy, but even a notebook is helpful. After all you never know when you might have to touch up a couple of minis (or add another squad to your force).

Drones and Probes for Gates of Antares

I haven’t taken the plunge yet for getting an army together for Gates of Antares. Instead I’ve been using a lot of my 15mm sci-fi stuff as proxy forces and have been having quite a bit of fun. Maybe later I’ll consider eventually getting a batrep done. Seems 15mm is a great way to jump into the game if on the fence wanting to give the rules a test drive.

I’m liking the Algoryns and might work on that faction. However Warlord Games is still trying to expand that model range for them. And sadly the choices for that force are only in metal. While I dig the heft of metal figures, the cost compared to plastic kits is pretty hard to swallow. Might have to clear my bench some of stuff to paint before I consider jumping into another range of models.

Nonetheless one thing I’ve been missing with my proxy forces is a way to represent drones and probes. GoA uses gobs of em. I really dig having some small bonus abilities represented by models on the table. However I wanted to actually get a figure down that I could push around over just using tokens or painted bases.

I picked up some cheap plastic beads I felt would fit the bill for using as probe models. The cost for a huge gross is dirt cheap. Just head to a craft store and check out the craft jewelry section. Being about 7-9mm across, they are perfect for drones.ProbeB

I wanted to have them floating about though and was considering using some wire, but then I stumbled on some clear plastic tubing for modelling. The material is acrylic and the stuff I got was in 3mm diameter. Perfect for mounting a floating drone onto a base.ProbeA

The pickle I had however was that the tubing was pretty large so I had to drill and file a larger hole into the plastic bead. Fortunately the beads have a hole already in them (for stringing wire and string through). So I could easily use those as a guide hole when using a larger drill bit. Drilling and filing a portion out of some 20mm slot bases, I was able to use a bit of instant bonding cement to assemble the entire thing.ProbeC

The downside of using beads is that there is a small hole drilled into the top of my probes. So I had to use a bit of green stuff to fill it it. I also used green stuff to fill in the gaps for the slot base.

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A bit of paint, drybrush a tad, some flock for the base, and bam…there’s a spotter drone. One thing I like about the model is I can use a variety of colors to indicate different types of drones and probes. The downside is that the beads have a particular pattern on the surface making my painting schemes a limited some. This was a quick prototype and I didn’t quite get the pattern and look to what I’d like, but I can touch it up later.ProbeE

Hope folks find this helpful. It was super easy to do and pretty cheap. Considering you can end up with a lot of spotter drones for your units, along with support choices, I think you’ll end up needing quite a few drones for your typical GoA force. This isn’t a bad way to get a lot of models assembled for your force quickly (and cheaply).

Hotz Mats felt fields

A long while back I mentioned that I picked up some battemats from Hotz Mats and wasn’t that impressed with them. At the same time I made my order, I decided to pick up some flocked felt field sets from the same company. Despite me not being keen on the treated felt mats, I gotta say that I do like the flocked fields they offer.

I bought 2 sets of the 20-30mm range felt fields. The fields vary in sizes and colors that look pretty good for that scale. Seems they offer smaller scale mats for 6-15mm. The pics I have here are of 1/72 scale Germans. It does seem that smaller models would look a little off with the larger scale mats.
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The felt fields are durable though and the flock is tightly adhered to the material. Mind you I keep them stored relatively flat tucked in a box of other terrain, so if tightly rolled up I’m not sure how they would hold up. But I have to say they’ve been through some heat and humidity and still look nice. Through normal gaming wear and tear you’d likely have some fields that would last for years.
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The felt fields range in size having one large section, 2 smaller fields (a little over 6″ long), and a mid-sized field. A good mix for a set which looks nice. Throw in some small stone walls or bocage and you’d have a nice bit of rough terrain or light cover for your table. If looking to get some rural terrain and not too keen on modeling your own, they are a good option and worth picking up a set or two.
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Jungle terrain using plastic plants

I’ve been slowly working on some more Pacific-themed terrain for Bolt Action. One stickler for me was getting some appropriate woods for a table together. I’ve got some decent trees that could work for deciduous forest, but really nothing that would work for jungle terrain.

Cruising through a small pet store I stumbled on some inspiration finding fish breeding bedding for aquariums. This lead me to also hitting up a local arts and crafts store to buy some plastic floral arrangements.

With a craft knife and a hot glue gun, I was able to remove sections of plastic plants and mount them on metal washers. A coat of plastic primer and flat green paint, along with a simple drybrush of a lighter green and I was able to whip up quite a few stands of jungle trees and overgrowth. I cut many sections at varying heights and mixed and matched them to provide a little more realistic look.
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They really look pretty well and being on separate bases, I can move them around to accommodate larger teams and vehicles. Next to some 20mm Japanese troops I painted up, they’ve got an appropriate height and occupy a good chunk of area to offer cover. They were also a snap to get together. Certainly one of my more easier terrain projects to complete. Making trees and jungle terrain this way is easy and offer some decent terrain for your Pacific theater games.
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Review: No Stars in Sight

From Nordic Weasel Games, No Stars in Sight is a new sci-fi ruleset that expands on the conventional wargame from the same designer, No End in Sight. The game is designed for small unit action of a reinforced platoon with a vehicle or two at most. The scale is for 6-15mm individual models, but larger scales or infantry stands could also be utilized. One thing that stands out is the game is meant to have a very small footprint on the table, with 2 to 3 feet being enough space to duke it out.

The game is more geared towards near-future engagements. Some trappings are offered for more futuristic technology and aliens. However there is a foundation that troopers in the future will be armed with advanced weaponry that utilize some type of projectile. All the while the universe tends to be geared towards a generic setting of future conflicts that somewhat mimic what we have in the world today.

Player’s troops are organized into units or independent fire teams with assigned leaders. Coherency with the units are pretty tight, with each trooper required to be within 6 to 8 inches of their leader. This works out though as squads are designed to be 4-5 troops at most. Players activate a unit and alternate with their opponent until all unit leaders are exhausted. Victory conditions are assessed, stress removed from leaders, and the turn sequence is repeated until one side has a clear advantage (or victory).

Units activate based on rolling a d6 and retaining that many activation points for their squad. Individual troops firing, recovering from pins, movement, and other miscellaneous actions require an activation point. There are options for group fire and movement, allowing 2-3 models a chance to activate on one point. Models but can only move and fire once when they are activated. At the conclusion of the unit’s activation the leader gains a stress marker.

Movement is a simple affair keeping everything at a constant 3 inches provided they are in cover. If players move a unit out of cover into LOS of an enemy however, this becomes a random roll of d6 inches. If caught out in the open, their opponent has an opportunity to fire at them hitting a trooper on a 6 (with the poor grunt being pinned on any other result). So those dashes across open terrain become a very tricky proposition, and even more so as there are no cutoff for weapon ranges. Anything that can be seen on the table is fair game.

Directed fire is split into two types as shock or kill dice. All basic weaponry throw out shock dice. For every 2 shock dice thrown, 1 kill die is generated. Shock dice can pin a model on a 5 or 6, while kill dice hit a model on a 6. Hits are rolled again resulting in killing the model outright on a 6, or wounding them. Either way, hits with kill dice typically mean the target is out of the fight being wounded which can be rather deadly.

Close assaults are even deadlier. When units approach within 6” of each other shock dice are dropped and kill dice are rolled instead, having hits generated on a 5 or 6. Actual hand-to-hand fighting results in just rolling of a d6 between players, with the attacking player killing the enemy if they roll equal to or higher than the defender (and being killed in turn if they do not).

With all of these pins being thrown around and casualties, they all contribute to degradation of morale. If players cannot roll over this amount on a d6, they immediately fall back a random distance. Casualties also incur stress on the leader. For each excessive casualty, one point of stress is added to the leader. At the end of the turn when all units are exhausted, each leader can discard 3 points of stress. All excess stress becomes permanent, making it more difficult to activate on future turns.

What you end up with is this slow degradation of a unit’s ability to function. Pinned models cannot take any actions until an activation point is used to remove the pin. Casualties and activating a unit slowly accumulate leader stress. After a few turns, they begin to whittle down the ability of a leader to do anything but have their squad hunker down and remain in cover.

Different types of troops with varying equipment is offered, from elite troops in power armor to irregular, lightly armed forces. Vehicles are also presented with a variety of armaments although most are land-based as tracked or walker equivalents (with no real rules for flying units). There are several optional rules to mimic near-future battles, including rules for improved communication and command (along with hacking these aspects) and there are also rules for drones and simple automaton combatants.

There are a variety of scenario ideas and a simple campaign system to allow for a more role playing type of experience, following a single trooper or unit through a series of battles. Some more military-centric rules for off board ordinance, smoke, combat drops, and the like are also presented. There are several generic alien species offered with small tweaks to combat abilities along with suggested scenarios to play them as.

Finally suggestions on a point system for force construction is presented. While the numbers do not not necessarily ensure a balanced game, they can provide some guidance for a fair engagement if trying to figure out how best to match up power armored troops against regular militia. This is a nice feature of the game.

Don’t let a point system detract you however. This is very much a wargame ruleset based on players agreeing to have a fun game and tinker around with asymmetrical forces. There are a lot of optional equipment and rules to utilize. The game does require going through some set hoops for playing them however. You have to use a board with a certain amount of terrain density, or at least be willing to break up long alleys of open ground. You really can’t field larger forces more than a few squads of 4 or 5 troopers each.

The Good – Pinning and suppression are key. I really enjoy the whittling down of actions a unit can complete due to taking enemy fire, and it’s not dependent on killing troops (but it doesn’t hurt either). I also appreciate how task resolution uses a relatively streamlined system for determining outcomes.

There is a fair bit of optional rules and varying techs and equipment to give games a little variety. There are a few scenario tables offering a pretty diverse list of possible combat encounters as well as a more narrative campaign. As there are aliens and planetary environments, the game is not exhaustive in detailed rules but certainly provides a nice platter of choice sci-fi elements to try out.

I have the PDF version so I can’t speak on the quality of the printed book. You get a very spartan layout with a decent number of charts including a few summary sheets at the end of the book. It’s serviceable and plainly explains the rules.

The Bad – The game has some rough edges, especially with excessive bookkeeping. Troops typically are wounded which need to be indicated somehow. Effectively they are out of the battle however a unit needs to spend actions stabilizing them and getting them to an extraction point. While untreated wounded troops have an effect on morale, treated/stabilized figures don’t. Add to this individual units getting pins and you have a clutter of markers and tokens hovering around every unit. While a small engagement with 2 units and 8 figures total would not be much of an issue, adding more models into the mix seems to glut the game down some.

Another rule regards stressed leaders passing off leadership to another model in their unit. Effectively this can get rid of any permanent stress (as it stays with the original trooper and is not transferred to the new leader). While the vibe of the rulebook certainly rings of folks playing in an agreeable manner, this is something that could certainly be abused.

Overall I found the rules pretty well laid out. However a few topics seem to jump around some. It feels like a few sections could have been tightened up and reorganized in a better fashion. There are some critical rules that seem to get buried in other key topics. The rulebook is far from being difficult to go through, but it’s also far from being perfect.

The Verdict – I see No Stars in Sight as sort of a mixed bag. I really don’t like the wounding of troops and seems heavy on keeping track of fiddly conditions in the likes of pins, stress, and unstabilized wounded troopers. But the game has many more hits than misses. The random activation of units, the desperate dash of units out of cover, the accumulation of control stress on a unit, all are highlights to the game.

I also appreciate the abstract systems employed by the rules. Movement, cover, and weapon types are not mired down in detailed minutia. However there is certainly enough optional rules and suggestions to make the game have some unique flavor from unit to unit. It’s a decent set of rules that give a challenging feel of command for small, tense, engagements with a futuristic feel. Still, there are some rough edges to the game. I think No Stars in Sight is a fair set of rules and not a bad choice if looking for sci-fi skirmish action, just not quite the home run I was hoping for.

Review: Battlegroup ruleset

Plastic Soldier Co. and Iron Fist Publishing have teamed up to produce the Battlegroup series of books. From my understanding Battlegroup Kursk was the first set of rules released combined with supplementary material to describe that engagement in WW2. From there, a small ‘mini’ book was released with just the base rules. There are several other books released that detail different campaigns with various theater selector lists for forces and scenarios, but these only have special rules related to those campaigns. You need the small rulebook in order to play.

The scale for Battlegroup is set at 15mm to 20mm. Additionally it is a 1 man = 1 model system. There is no basing of units into fire teams. However as the game plays, actual basing isn’t really an issue. There are many examples of folks playing the game with multiple troops on single bases (like Flames of War). However, having a handful of single troops on lone bases is ideal to indicate casualties for a squad.BG Kursk Cover

The rules themselves detail a pretty ambitious task of outlining a system that can be played at a variety of engagement sizes, from a squad up to an entire battalion. The squad level game is a bit of a misnomer as they expect you to take at least a platoon of troops, but it does give you varying levels of forces to play which can range from a few squads for an afternoon of fun, up to a full day of gaming at the battalion level. It’s a point system game, where you decide a point total and purchase units up to this limit. I picked up Battlegroup mainly for company level games.

The game utilizes a IGOUGO system of sorts. A player will roll a set number of dice to indicate the total units they can activate for that turn. For a platoon level this would be 2d6, while at the company level would be 3d6. I groaned a bit at this first but digging into the rules a bit more, I started to like it.

You roll to activate units, which really breaks down into teams. An entire platoon is really 4 individual units (a command team, plus three 8 man squads), and in addition you might have a few LMG teams that are also units. So that 3 platoon company suddenly mushrooms into 12-18 units, making that 3d6 activation roll a little more unpredictable. Add in additional MG teams, AT assets, field guns, artillery spotters, a few tanks, mortars, etc. You suddenly have a lot of things that may not be able to activate on your turn.

Each activated unit can be given one specific order; firing, maneuvering, a combination of the two, or just waiting in ambush to react to your opponent. Reaction orders also are a nice element, giving a chance to interrupt an opponent’s turn. This really allows for a fluid back and forth type of game making the turn progression more tense and engaging.

Movement is a flat rate for vehicles and infantry. Difficult ground will reduce movement to a d6 inch roll depending on the type of vehicle or terrain. Overall movement is a simple, easy system to execute.

There are maximum effective ranges for weapons, with small arms topping out at 30″. However this is tweaked some as there are two modes of fire. Area fire is a simpler affair where total firepower is determined and a single die is rolled to see an effect. If successful, they pin a unit.

The alternate is aimed fire which has a maximum range and individual die rolls for troop weapons, designated to inflicting casualties. Successful rolls to hit forces the target unit to roll for saves (6+ if in open ground, and much better if in cover). Failed saves result in casualties and morale tests, likely resulting in a unit either being pinned or forced to retreat. Combined with aimed fire is the need for spotting a target unit. Again a simple d6 roll test altered by different modifiers. If they can’t spot the unit, they can’t conduct aimed fire (area fire does not require a spotting check).

Vehicle fire mimics small arms fire some, however there is more gradation in target numbers to hit based on the type of gun and target armor. Also unlike infantry units, vehicles must keep track of the number of rounds fired. Close combat is more of an extension of aimed fire. When units come to within 5″ of each other, an intense firefight breaks out with both sides making attack rolls.

Morale is a pretty simple affair. If a unit is pinned they cannot be given an order until it is removed (more on that later). If a unit suffers a casualty, or is damaged, while pinned they roll on a d6 chart. On a 2 or less most units will break outright if they are pinned. The game is exceedingly dangerous to units in the open. Get them pinned and follow up with effective fire, you likely will have them break and run.

This leads into an interesting tweak to the the game, the Battle Rating. Every platoon, tank, command team, etc. in your army has a Battle Rating (BR). The total represents the overall morale and will of your force to fight. For each unit that is destroyed, you draw a random counter. These are also taken for other aspects of the game, such as your opponent having more scouts or when your opponent takes an objective. Effectively the only way to unpin units requires you also to draw a counter (unpinning d6 units while doing so).

The counters themselves are an uneven distribution of numbers ranging from 1 to 5 (with most being 2-4). As you draw counters you put these aside and secretly sum up the total. If the total of drawn counters ever exceeds your force’s Battle Rating, your entire group collapses and withdraws from the battle. This makes for some nail-biting decisions. Pinned units can do nothing and are exceedingly vulnerable to additional fire. If they break, you draw a BR counter. If you decide to rally some units, you draw a BR counter. So there is this fine line of deciding when to try and unpin units (or instead just let them keep hitting the dirt), as you never know how much pressure your force can take before they break.

There are rules for calling in off board artillery and air support. A series of rolls are made to simulate communication and firing priority. As off board artillery goes, there is a fair amount of randomness where rounds actually land, certainly allowing for the potential of friendly fire. Anti-air assets on the table also have a role which is a pleasant change from other systems.

The book comes with a handful of scenarios depicting typical engagements you might see, from patrols to withdrawing actions. Most scenarios also dictate the use of objectives. Given that holding objectives forces your opponent to draw BR counters, these alternate goals add some variety to the scenarios and provides for some differing victory conditions.

As mentioned earlier this is a point system game. You select units up to an agreed total. The actual force lists are rather structured however, with limited choices based on the core units you pick up. The game is very infantry-centric but armor heavy battlegroups can also be drafted up.

There are no force lists within the rules however. These are all provided separately in different campaign books which have battlegroup lists, special unit rules, unit profiles, etc. and are very much themed towards specific combat theaters. In this aspect, historical gamers will probably enjoy this as gradation in forces can be achieved to represent different parts of the war. With a universal force list for different nations, this would be harder to model. However, you are not getting a complete game just picking up the ruleset book. You also need to invest in a campaign book to play the game.PaK40_BGKursk

The Good – There is a lot here to like. Yes, it’s an IGOUGO system. However with the random die activation and a plethora of individual units representing a platoon, you aren’t going to be able to count on activating every model on the table during your turn. Further, the reaction orders also provide a means to make responses to your opponent’s actions making the game even more dynamic.

Pinning units matter and is an effective means to shut down your opponent. The splitting of fire modes into either suppression or trying to inflict casualties is also a nice touch via the area and aimed fire orders. Among this is the Battle Rating system. Pinned troops are effectively out of the fight. To reactivate them requires drawing a BR counter. If you let them sit pinned and they get hit by further fire, they will likely break forcing you to draw a BR counter as they are destroyed. Do you let them remained pinned and wait a few turns before opting to unpin d6 units? Or do you force your hand early and just unpin that one unit? It’s a challenging decision with slow degradation of your force’s morale, along with the unpredictability when it has had too much and will retreat, all of which makes for a fun game.

The rulebook itself is written fairly clearly and offers plenty of examples. There is a good amount of artwork and photographs to entice the reader. It’s a rather handy size and well bound. The addition of a solid quick reference sheet at the back of the book is an especially nice touch.

The Bad – The game does have it’s share of bookkeeping. Ammunition use for tanks is the most notable. For a tank or two this isn’t much of an issue, but running with a platoon of armor, it could bog down. I dig the concept as a means to balance out heavy hitting guns compared to the armor workhorses and also a way to mimic logistical problems, but it’s clunky. I wonder if using a d6 roll to determine if a unit was out of ammo would be better.

Another thing that crops up are past orders for opposing units. Spotting a target can also depend on whether it fired the previous turn or not. Get a big enough game going and it can get a little murky keeping track whether individual units fired the previous turn or not, so you likely will need to use markers indicating given fire orders.

Some of the task resolutions require a lot of procedural die rolls. Artillery is especially damning as you need to make a fire mission request, a communications skill test, then determine how close the spotting round hits, the number of guns that are part of the strike, etc.. While all the die rolling allows for more predictable results due to probability, it can be a chore to go through.

The rules express a differing view of design also. Some parts are well detailed (like vehicle aimed fire and artillery) while other aspects of the rules are glossed over with abstract task resolution. There aren’t hard definitions of cover. Close combat is very streamlined under a general assault that takes place within 5″ of an enemy. There are some points in the rules suggesting resolution by player agreement as opposed to hard, defined rules. It just seems a bit of an odd match in how the rules are presented where some elements are highly detailed, while others are not.

The book would really be aided having an index. Some important rules are shuffled off into sidebars. It’s not incredibly difficult to find what you need, but tracking down a key rule can sometimes be a little bit of a chore. The book itself is a scaled down version of the larger campaign books. I appreciate the lower price of the rules, however the print is exceedingly small. This isn’t a comfortable font to read at all and it’s a shame a larger one wasn’t used.

The Verdict – Battlegroup is a solid WW2 miniature wargame. There are some rough spots and with larger games, bookkeeping can get to be somewhat clunky. Additionally, this isn’t the most innovate set of rules and you’ll likely be finding yourself treading over familiar game elements found in a myriad of other WW2 rules.

However it gets a lot of things right. One thing that stands out with me is the sheer unpredictability of unit activation and force morale. You can count on your plan of battle up to a point and then… well… things get interesting. It’s another game that emphasizes suppression and pinning of units. This has an important role in the game and you’ll find ordering units to cross open terrain will get either pinned to hell, ripped to shreds, or dispersing in a retreat. The utilization of cover and judicious use of ambush orders are needed.

Yes, it is a point based game. However taking a peek at some of the campaign books, it doesn’t feel like a tournament army list-of-the-month game. Battlegroup really seems to have it’s feet firmly in the historical camp. I’m certain that it’ll get some complaints on not having proper campaign TOEs, but there are far more hits than misses with the force lists.

I don’t think Battlegroup will quite replace my WW2 infantry skirmish game of choice. I need to get a few more games in, however I still feel that Bolt Action scratches that itch for me. However I wanted a ruleset I could use for 15mm and was looking for something different to Flames of War. Battlegroup does this quite well, and I totally expect it’ll be my go to rules for WW2 company action in the future. If folks are interested, an excellent overview of the rules as an intro report can be found in a list of PDF download links.

15mm sci-fi habitat structure

A short post today. As I’ve been dabbling in 15mm sci-fi models, I certainly needed to get some terrain built too. I’ve done plenty of fantasy and WWII stuff and it’s never been a real challenge to whip up something serviceable on the table. However for fair looking sci-fi terrain I’ve been a little at a loss.

Some of the model kits floating around are gorgeous, but not quite that cheap. Granted as 40K prices go much of it is a steal, but one thing I liked about running 15mm games was the low cost for picking up figures. I’d rather spend the money on another platoon of minis than just a cool looking building.

Slowly I’ve been picking up a lot of little plastic containers and odd packaging bits. For the most part I never quite figured out how to add small elements to make pieces stand out and avoid looking like a plastic tub. Then I stumbled across folks adding pieces of thin cardboard from cereal boxes to build up layers of material. Glued onto a plastic container, you can simulate doors and windows. Not to mention add additional layers in odd shapes to put on building details.

A bit of sandpaper was applied to the plastic to scuff up the surface and add some texture. I was able to add a few entrances and windows on a plastic food bin using thin cardboard. The bits of card were able to easily cover up your ubiquitous recycling symbol seen on most containers, and also could add some small detail to the building roof. Pretty easy modelling project to make a sci-fi structure.

I decided to just go with a simple base coat with a quick wash and drybrush. A very simple and quick alternate color for the windows with just a streak for highlights. Granted, it’s a very basic paint job and not too lovingly adorned for details. I think for other terrain I might try to put the effort in, but I’d rather save that for my minis. It’s serviceable, which is fine for now and I can always revisit it for a bit more color and detail later.

Wargaming in Seoul – Orc Town

A while back I talked some about places where you can pick up different wargame supplies in Seoul. One place in particular was Orc Town. They recently packed up and moved to another location, so I thought I’d give them a visit and check out the new store.

Ocr Town is now in the southeastern part of Seoul in Dongok I-dong. If you take subway line 3 and get off at the Maebong station, Exit 4, head south a few blocks alongside an apartment complex. Go past a main T intersection, and one block west, you’ll eventually hit the store. It is now in the basement of a small business complex.

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Be sure to look for the small sign on the side of the building over the basement stairway.

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It’s certainly much bigger than the old shop. There is a small storage section where folks can leave their models in personal lockers for a fee. This is pretty nice for regulars as they don’t have to lug their models around to the store.

The new place has more space to play, with a side room just for gaming holding several tables. From what I remember, the gaming section here has almost double the number of tables from the old place. They also have a few shelves with store terrain to allow players to dabble in some different scenery layouts.

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They seem to still carry similar products, including Infinity, Bolt Action, Firestorm Armada, a few Napoleonics and a smattering of other historical kits. There are also some Flames of War miniatures and some alternate 15mm WW2 sets. However Orc Town is still very much a Games Workshop store. They carry lots of 40K stuff and a good number of Warhammer Fantasy minis. The store also has a full line of Citadel paints, spray primer, and other GW hobby modeling supplies.

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Sadly, I still think prices are over retail. No real clue how the prices for GW products fare but I noticed some of the Warlord games stuff being well over retail. I have no idea why. Maybe they can’t get distributors to send stuff over and have to go the route of resale (which likely includes having to pay extra custom fees on merchandise).

They have an online store and I’m guessing with pre-orders, you could get more of a discount to bring it in line with other international distributors. For a handful of items, given that you’d have to pay international shipping charges, it seems ordering directly through Orc Town works out maybe a little cheaper. However I do wonder if making a large order, getting a big a discount from an online retailer, and just paying extra shipping might be more economical.

Nonetheless, if you want to pick up a few models and paints Orc Town seems to fit the bill. If you are a GW fan, it’s the only place to shop. I’d also give it points for allowing space in their store for gaming. Certainly a great way to get some feelers out to meet up with other fellow wargamers.

In and out of love with Flames of War

A long while back most of the World War II gaming I did was skirmish stuff with Battleground WW2. I really enjoyed the tactics of small unit infantry action and along with a tank or two that game handled it pretty well. Larger forces for smaller scales wasn’t something I was interested in. This attitude was mimicked with my 40K gaming also. After a while, interest in skirmish-type gaming sort of waned some playing 40K and BGWW2 a lot simultaneously. I was itching for something different.

Flames of War was making some noise as trial rules were making the rounds on TMP and it caught my interest. 15mm wasn’t a scale I was too keen on painting, but the idea of company-sized engagements with combined arms sort of hooked me. What absolutely got me into FoW though was a local mini gaming club that met monthly at a local library. Those guys were really into historical gaming (and miniature wargames in general) and that really drove me to play Flames of War.FoW1

I enjoyed the combined arms aspect of the game, while still retaining a company-sized force. The telescopic range was also interesting with longer ranges being longer distances. Yeah, artillery really should be off board assets but with the idea of telescopic ranges, it allowed me to field a few guns on the table which looked cool. I liked the idea of target experience being the factor for how easy it was to inflict casualties. I liked the idea that hits on a unit could impede movement and shooting so that casualties weren’t the only means to cripple command of a force.

The game had abstract mechanics but they typically led to historical outcomes. FoW tanks ruled the battlefield and could cut through infantry. But get those infantry dug in, and within bulletproof cover, those stands are suddenly a bit tougher to dislodge. Throw in some AT assets and they become a nightmare for tanks to effectively attack, going back to using infantry to assault infantry in those conditions. I liked that.

Another big thing was we used tables with lots of cover. Oodles of terrain were used in our games. I’ve heard of nightmare stories of some employing 40K-like tournament tables, with not a lot of terrain. We never had that issue with plenty of cover and stuff to break up LoS. We also didn’t get into min/max forces with much of the group leaning towards historical company composition for certain periods (even tried a longer campaign with Operation Husky for the invasion of Sicily). So I think I lucked out getting with a great group of FoW players.

But there were rough spots with the game. A glaring aspect was the IGOUGO turn order and no real chance for opportunity fire. Even with pinning units, they could still throw out some dice in attacks. It all became a little predictable. Add to this the meta of super efficient lists, with guaranteed attackers and defenders for certain missions, you ended up with the potential for an alpha strike army. A player could move in and cripple certain forces within the first couple of turns (especially seen with light tank armies). There were specific counters to this, which sort of made for a game where players took relatively safe lists and weren’t willing to tinker around with something different.FoW2

Moving across the world, I packed up my Flames of War models. I ended up taking a few 15mm Russian troops with me in hopes of possibly painting up an infantry force. However I let them languish for the most part as I haven’t played the game in over 8 years. Not getting an opportunity to play certainly had diminished my desire to paint.

Another bit that soured me some on the game was Battlefront’s response to competition. They always seemed to accept folks were going to use other manufacturer’s models. However when Plastic Soldier Co. hit the scene with their 15mm kits, they completely changed their attitude going for a more restrictive policy for hosted tournaments. I don’t blame them. It’s their show and their rodeo with official tournaments. Yet given they release so many different rule and campaign books and have that as a source of revenue, it seemed a little bitter on their part rather than trying to offer a more competitive priced product.

So where does that leave me now? I’m getting the itch some to dabble in 15mm again. I’m feeling the call to paint up those Russians. I’m just not sure that Flames of War will be my go to for 15mm gaming any more.