Monday, February 5, 2018

IJA Officers and Weapons Teams

My Imperial Japanese Army for China moves closer to completion with some command, weapons teams, and artillery.  All figures are from Warlord's Bolt Action line.

First up are the headquarters figures, lead by Colonel Baron Nishi.  This is a well sculpted and cast figure and surprisingly matches up fairly closely in size with my Copplestone Chinese general (the Copplestone figures tend to run larger). The rest of the figures run smaller, so I've opted to pad the bases a bit as usual.

Baron Nishi

Officers on foot

Kempeitai officer and medic

The infantry officer bodies are also well done, but I find the sculpting of the heads in the Warlord range to be a mixed bag, particularly those wearing caps (see the Kempeitai officer for one of the poorer ones). The figures all use the separate head system, so at least you can mix them up between packs and get some additional variety.

Next up are flamethrower and sniper teams. They fight as two man teams, so I've opted to use a single base for each team. For the snipers, I've gone with camouflaged helmets that I bought separately instead of the included heads. 


The upright sniper has a somewhat unnatural squatting pose, but I think the final team looks fine.

Finally, there is a Type 91 105mm howitzer with crew and an observer.  The observer again has a strange squat pose like he needs to relieve himself, but what are you going to do.  

The field gun itself is a massive beast that barely fits on a 6x9 cm base.  Assembly was fairly straight forward if you follow Warlord's online instructions.  

For me, the trickiest part of this was trying to texture the base with all the figures that need to be added. I ended up adding a few figures at a time, texturing and painting the ground as I worked front to back. There are a few spots where you can see the figures' bases,but I don't think it's too noticeable on casual inspection.

At this stage I just have a last infantry squad and a medium machine gun left, so looking forward to wrapping things up and trying them out against my Chinese nationalists.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Death in the Dark Continent: First Game and Impressions

My gaming group has been regular users of Chris Peers' "In The Heart of Africa" and "Contemptible Little Armies" rules for our Africa games, and we've found them to be quite enjoyable for our casual get togethers. With North Star releasing his new "Death in the Dark Continentrule set, we wanted to see if it brought anything new to the table.

For our first trial game, Steve and I tried a clash of two European forces: British and French.  We went with the basic "Pitched Battle" scenario to be fought over a jungle outpost. The scenario description says that bases can be placed anywhere up to 6" of the opposing table edge, so we both decided to deploy around the middle of the table.

Steve won the dice role for initiative, and placed his French in the village while I did my best to surround them.

 The British askari charged the French tirailleurs holding the trading outpost, but were pushed back and received 2 disorder markers.

Meanwhile, the British soldiers moved in on the left to threaten the French baggage, while Sikhs moved in on the right behind the outpost.

The askari and Sikhs opened fire on the tirailleurs and failed to eliminate any bases, but managed to cause some disorder. The 1st legionnaire squad began firing at the Sikhs, while the 2nd legionnaire squad moved to protect their baggage from the advancing British.

The askari and tirailleurs continued their exchange of gunfire at the trading outpost, with neither side managing to dislodge one another. Meanwhile, the Sikhs changed targets and charged the 1st squad of legionnaires.  Their action was unsuccessful and they were forced to retreat. 

On the other side of the village, the 2nd legionnaire squad and the British unleashed a hail of bullets at each other.

Shooting continued for another round and though no bases were lost, the disorder markers continued to pile up.

 The 1st legionnaire squad finally launched a counter-charge against the Sikhs, but after a short stalemate they were pushed back.

The 2nd legionnaire squad and the British exchanged another round of fire, with the British eventually deciding to take cover behind the huts and move into position to support the asakri advance towards the tirailleurs.

The Sikhs eventually managed to eliminate a base of  legionnaires while the askari overran and slaughtered the tirailleurs.

At this stage we decided to call it a British victory and end the game.

So our thoughts on the rules:

  • The production value is top notch, with beautiful pics, extensive army lists, and a lot of historical reference.  And it's well indexed with quick reference sheets to boot!
  • It generally plays similarly to his previous rules, with the major difference being the use of multi-figure bases instead of individual figures. We didn't want to rebase out figures, so used 2x1 movement trays from Warbases. The larger bases did cause us some confusion in determining how to draw line of sight for shooting, but we later got some clarity from the Facebook group (2 corners of a base need to be visible to the attacking unit).
  • Our impression is that morale breaks are what is going to win or lose combats much more so that base loss. In our game, only 2 bases were lost to critical hits.
  • There are a lot of dice modifiers for the shooting and melee (16 each, both additive and subtractive!) that really slowed the attacks as we tried to work out the math. I think this is the weakest part of the new rules and it would have been better if they had fewer modifiers and and had stuck with either additive or subtractive instead of mixing in both.  Or perhaps they could better organize them to help with improving the processing speed.
  • For close combat, the unit sizes don't actually play a role in any of the above modifiers, which we found rather odd. It will be interesting to play again with natives to see if this confers any advantages to to either side.
Final verdict: While solid, we weren't really sold that the rules are a significant improvement over Chris Peers' other rule sets. It seemed more like a variation on a theme, with some things working better and some less so. If you've already invested in the other rules and army books, I'm not sure this would be worth picking up.  However, if you're just starting out in African gaming, this would be a good purchase, as the rules include all the army lists and histories, plus a bonus big game hunting set of rules.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

IJA Grenadiers

Happy belated New Year!  I've been away from the hobby table for a bit with the holidays and family events, but finally managed to get some figures wrapped up. These are a squad of Japanese Grenadiers created using the Warlord plastic Japanese Infantry box. 

As with my previous squads, I've gone with the yellow green uniforms more common to China than the green used in the pacific.

The rules allow for up to 3 mortars per squad, and I've decided to take the maximum.  Rather than individually base each figure, I've decided to include the loaders and base per mortar team.

This is my second squad created from the plastics and I have to say I feel like I'm getting a good handle on this kit and am enjoying the construction and painting even more than before. Definitely worth the investment if you plan on fielding an IJA force.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Zulu War Artillery and Officers

I've been moving slower on this project than I would like, but I've finally gotten a few more items off the painting table.  First up is a 7pdr gun from Empress Miniatures

The cannon included no instructions, so it took some investigative work to figure out how to assemble it. Overall, I found the assembly to be a bit fiddly and I ended up damaging one of the axle ends during the build.  However, I think it still looks reasonably good in the end (though not sure I'd want to assemble another one).

As with my infantry uniforms, I struggled trying to find the right blue among all the variations seen in images online. I opted to continue on with the Dark Sea Blue I had used previously. It ended up looking a bit grayer than I planned on, but I think it will still get the job done.

The officers are also from Empress and and in my opinion look like proper toffs, in particular the one with the monocle. While I like the sculpts overall, the helmets appear to have four panels rather than the correct six (same with the artillery crew). As a result, I've done my best to file the seams down and paint them to better match my plastic Warlord figures.

I've now reached the halfway point on this project, and my aim is to try to have it complete by the Christmas holidays.  Fingers crossed!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Zulu War Natal Native Contingent

My British army continues with a group of Natal native warriors.  As with the European soldiers, these are plastic figures from Warlord Games. The figure frames appear to based on the Zulu plastics, but with changes in the heads and some of the arm detailing. 

The frames have four body types in total, just like their British counterparts, but the variety of head and arm options are much better.  All the figures in the below photos are built off the same bodies, but as you can see, the resulting variability is pretty good.  For this particular unit, I've opted just to use melee weapons and forgo the firearms.

As is often the case with plastics, there are areas of soft details and some of the poses look a bit wooden or awkward, but en mass I think the overall effect is going to look good on the table. And at around $1 US per figure, you get a lot of bang for your buck. So while these will never be your star figures, I would not hesitate to recommend them.