Checked Out, or Learning Lessons from the Worst Star Wars Prequel.

The ‘brain drain’ conundrum!

Clip Art Mentally Ill Psyche - Free image on Pixabay
Gee, that doesn’t look like miniatures at all…

This is primarily a hobby blog. I usually talk about pretty fun stuff, like building miniatures, painting them poorly, and just being an all round fun guy. This is not going to necessarily be all that. Instead, I want to talk about mental health for a second, and a weird thing that I feel is happening to me over time. Feel free to skip! I promise I’ll have tanks and and other fun things in the next one! But not externalizing this is driving me a little crazy, and I want it out in writing.

Right, now that I have that out of the way, I want to ask you something. Have you ever felt really dumb? Like, ‘gee, that was quite silly, why would I do that?’ kind of dumb? I bet you have, and in fact, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t. But what if you felt it was a constant, ever-growing process, happening more often, finding it difficult to remember, saying the wrong things more often.

200+ Free Baggage & Suitcase Images - Pixabay
Pictured; My braincells, going to start a new life in Argentina

That is to say, I feel, literally, quantifiably, dumber then, say, three years ago. Some people I have talked to have attributed this to age; I am nearly 30. But I feel like that is understating the issue. When people turn 30, they don’t usually feel like they are going on 50(Or they do! I have no idea!). My memory feels foggier, my math skills which were already poor are not as sharp as they used to be. Reading difficult, more cerebral works makes my head spin just a little too much to be comfortable. History books, especially, are proving difficult to me, and that concerns me, as those are my favourite kind of book!

Book History Textbook - Free image on Pixabay
Not pictured: a finished history book!

Some of this I can attribute to the fact I have a recognized mental condition, Borderline Personality Disorder….but the medication seems to have both stabilized me and on the flipside altered how I think quite drastically! I am working with my doctor to see if I can’t stem the brain drain effect….but I fear some of the damage has already been done.

I am no conspiracy theorist, I believe in the power of medication and therapy. But this poses an interesting conundrum; How does a rational human mind approach the fact it is not processing simple things quite as easily? How do I learn to live with, well, being just that little bit less sharp, less able to learn things quickly and with ease, like I used to?

This has been an interesting year, and I don’t think if it had gone smoothly that I may have picked up on this as easily. Adulting usually leaves little time for introspective thought. But now that I know something is up, it nags at me. What additional factors could have led to this over the years?

File:Arthur Schopenhauer colorized.png - Wikimedia Commons
Ah, Schopenhauer. What a lovely misguided worldview I adopted from you.

May I present my hypothesis; I had been led to believe as a youth that I was inordinately gifted, and for a while, that may have been true. But eventually, I just stopped trying. As a youth, I had few long term aspirations, no real long term goals. Combined with what I considered a ‘smart, and realistic’ worldview, I stopped really pursuing anything truly challenging, for what was truly the point? I was very arrogant. I was nihilistic. I disagreed with teachers, fellow students who were probably more gifted, professors, bosses. I had a chip on my shoulder, even though I never pushed past getting my high school diploma.

For a while, I thrived. While I wasn’t a university graduate, I could usually keep up with them in debates about politics or ethics in journalism. I avoided math, simply because what was the point? I had a calculator. And, considering I had a pretty sharp head on my shoulders, the facade of being more intelligent then I really was easy to keep up.

Now, after two years of some pretty serious brain medication, and starting to suffer the side effects, the facade is slowly unraveling. I can talk an excellent game, but it is slowly becoming harder to come up with the right words at the right time, or to follow simple direction at work without asking twice what exactly I’m meant to do. I find it harder to concentrate for long periods of time on the same subject. History books, some of my favourite forms of non-fiction, are proving more difficult to chew through and keep the facts straight.

That is the hypothesis….but while I may have subscribed to philosophical pessimism at one point, I don’t really anymore. I want solutions to my ‘brain drain problem’. And my answer, in the typical dodging the problem way I’ve used all my life, is simply to stop playing at being smarter then I am. Instead, it is to try and be wiser.

Dexter Jettster | StarWars.com
And I learned it from Star Wars Episode Two! Have mercy on me, please!

Sometimes an answer comes from somewhere you don’t expect. In, of all things, Star Wars Episode Two: Attack of the Clones (read: probably the worst one!), a bit character drops a piece of solid wisdom.

I should think that you Jedi would have more respect for the difference between knowledge and wisdom.“-Dexter Jettster

All my life, I have always tried to be the smartest person possible, even to the degree of being condescending. All because I placed a value on Knowledge above all. Perhaps losing that ‘sharp edge‘ I may or may not have had was never my real strength? Perhaps instead I should focus on things within my control, not without. I may not be able to stop the ‘brain drain’ completely. But perhaps instead I don’t need to.

I’m not suddenly claiming I’m Yoda or something, but maybe I am saying that I can instead try to be that little bit more wise, perhaps a little bit more wiser then I was yesterday. Put less emphasis on being the smartest I can be, and instead just try to be the best person I can be. Be that little bit more kind, that little bit more supporting. I will stumble, I will fail sometimes. But perhaps challenge is what I need, not what I need to avoid.

Sometimes, wisdom is not being a Jedi. It’s being Dexter Jettster.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Lock-Down!

Preparing for the Long Haul!

Merry Christmas! As I may have stated in previous posts, I am based out of Ontario, Canada. And, as of Boxing Day, the province is starting a 28 day ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown.

While as far as lockdowns go this is fairly relaxed, it does mean I’m both laid off(luckily, not permanently!) and probably staying at home most if not all day. I was running low on supplies, but luckily I had a few good paycheques and decided to treat myself.

Glue for the glue god, Paint for the paint throne!

Those of you who following the blog are mostly likely aware of my recent love-affair with Team Yankee. As my first foray into 15mm wargaming it has been a blast, and building up tiny tanks was actually my project for the first lockdown. While I’m still enthusiastic about completing the British I have begun, I’ve ended up with quite a few ‘modern’ armies, and I am very inefficiently plugging away at all of them. The Fate of a Nation box below is actually meant for my Iranian army.

It is a pretty good deal, with nine T-62s and two Shilka AA vehicles. Fate of a Nation itself I find very interesting, but alas my regular Israeli opponents favour the more ‘cool’ Merkava tank, and selling either of them on the Yom Kippur War is a tough sale indeed. However, seeing as you buy the Iranian unit cards separately anyways, you lose nothing by getting the Egyptian T-62 Battalion box, and actually save a good deal of money.

They are the full plastic kit as well, and I’m well and truly torn between assembling them as Soviet T-62s(which, bizarrely, can ally with Iran in the Oil War timeline…), which gives me solid AT-23 tank punch, or instead using them as Iranian ‘T-62s’, which were more likely North Korean Chonma Ho’s or Chinese Type 69’s in our timeline. Oil War allows the Iranians greater access to the Soviet toolbox then the Ayatollah ever got to play with, and one can take T-62’s en masse as a Revolutionary Guard flavoured tank company. I hopefully will make up my mind soonish!

Now Flames of War, a WW2 15mm game had crossed my radar before, I had always dismissed it because I played WW2 already with Bolt Action. 15mm seemed fiddly and time consuming, and I wasn’t sure I would enjoy the company level scale of the game. Team Yankee has proven I do, in fact, prefer the smaller models for company level actions and higher, and one of my friends in Toronto had gotten into it recently as his lockdown project. While chances are I won’t see him until the vaccines have rolled out, I figured I’d take a chance on the game in the hopes of playing him when the world returns to a sense of normalcy.

I was stuck on either the Soviets or the British, and in the end I went for Shermans instead of T-34s. These Flames of War Late War starters are really good value for money, and with the addition of one extra troop of Sherman V’s, I’m well set to play D-Day and onward with the contents.

For Christmas Eve, I decided to get cracking, and started on the Shermans.

Three 75mm Shermans, with two Fireflies. Two of the 75mm vehicles are going to be my command section, and the two Fireflies will be slotted into the two Troops I will have once the full set is complete. The spare 75mm will be another tank in one of those said Troops.
They are very pretty little tanks, but quite fiddly! I found the Yankee kits to be much easier to assemble. I do love the included tank commanders!
And a 17 Pounder Firefly! A beautiful little tank. My full force sadly only includes these two!

Now I’ve got a lot of stuff to work on. My goal this lockdown is a bit more modest; clear my Flames of War and Team Yankee assembly backlog. Will I succeed? Chances are, no! But it’ll keep me busy and out of trouble. Tomorrow I will crack on with the T-62’s. If I’m feeling particularly handy, I might knock out some WW2 stuff as well!

For now, happy War-gaming wherever in this wonderful world you are, and a very Merry Christmas! Stay Safe everyone!

And The Army Goes Rolling Along: Team Yankee Americans!

America, F**k yeah!

As so often happens in our hobby, I have wheeled and dealed my way into yet another Cold War army. This time, it is the patriotic poster boys themselves, the United States Army.

Valley Forge, Custer’s ranks,
San Juan Hill and Patton’s tanks,
And the Army went rolling along!

This was an interesting deal indeed, as it travelled between several people before eventually ending up in my hands. I was never intending to play Americans, but having an army pretty much fall in your lap is hard to say no to.

My plan is for this army to be a ‘demo’ army, one I can wheel out at the Clubhouse for games if a person doesn’t own a Team Yankee army and wants to try it out. Of course, I’m getting awfully attached to these wee plastic men, so I reserve the right to be selfish and keep the Freedom all to myself.

However, this army was a hodgepodge, mixed from many sources and missing a few of the unit cards. I decided early on that the M60’s (the not-Abrams tanks on the left) would instead be used…for yet another different army. But more on that later. The rest of the force was viable, and I decided to add some of the newer releases, along with the newer book, to my collection.

First up, I added some more modern airborne punch with two Apache gunships. While the jury is out on just how ‘good’ these helicopters are in Team Yankee, the kit itself is beautiful and a great example of how far Battlefront has come in their kit design.

These are robust, well detailed, and well designed models. I had no trouble putting them together!
They are also quite large! Absolutely dwarfing the Cobra gunship on the right!
While the size difference isn’t that comical, it does show just how imposing an Apache really is!

Secondly, two of the Abrams tanks in the army I got were done up as the later M1A1 variant. While, oddly enough, the kit included this option since its release many moons ago, it was never reflected in-game until the American book release this year. As such, I didn’t have the cards.

I also wanted more of them, so I purchased(on sale, might I add!) an additional platoon of Abrams. These will be assembled as 1 M1A1HC, and 4 M1A1 tanks, allowing me in total to field two platoons of three and command of these heavy-weight US bruisers. Expensive points wise, but with T-80’s on the prowl I’ll need the protection…and firepower.

While the rest of the Abrams remain on sprue, I have managed to assemble the command tank. With just the auxiliary power unit being the only difference(on the kit, the real tank differs quite a bit!), I wanted to add some spice to the model.

I was inspired by a model Battlefront did, featuring an ACAV turret from an M113 APC on an M1 Abrams. While in no way historically accurate, or even doable(I have no idea if the cupola would even match up correctly), it had the advantage of looking really cool.

So, I cued the music, and got to work.

The CO peers out, looking for Soviets. Or just posing for Stars and Stripes, who knows?
I also took another massive liberty and replaced the loaders machine gun with yet another gun-shield and an M60 machine gun. Not realistic. Very cool.
Combined with the APU(Auxiliary Power Unit), this command tank will not be mistaken for anything else.
Cutting an imposing figure from the front!
All in all, happy with my work!

While I took some pretty large creative liberties with this tank, I hope it looks good! I personally quite like the effect it gives off, and the calibre of the machine guns remains the same so no conflict with the unit card. Perhaps the Captain here is leading his company into a West German town, and traded for the turret. A tank like this deserves a little story to go with it.

Christmas promises some Bradley’s to go with my Abrams, so I can mount my grunts into some more protected transports. While the M113’s aren’t bad, I did want something similar to my British Warrior IFVs.

Story Pile: Pentagon Wars | press.exe
I may be watching this movie for inspiration!

As for the rest of the army….Since I lacked unit cards for the M109 artillery pieces and the M60 tanks, I had to think for a bit. The M109’s I can easily grab the new plastic M109 kit to add some additional firepower to the battery, and grab a slew of extra cards as well, the M60’s were another matter. I didn’t see myself using them as Americans, Marines or regular Army. And they weren’t kitted out as Magachs for the Israeli variant either. And I know two people with Israeli armies anyways.

But one other nation in Yankee also use M60’s, and that is Iran. With the Team Yankee sale on at Meeplemart in Toronto, I purchased the Iranian unit cards, and two boxes of Ayatollah’s Revolutionaries. While I’ll need to steal a Chieftain command tank from my pile of unbuilt Brits, combined with ten M60 tanks I have, at least at my local level, a viable force.

I’ll be chipping away at my pile of unbuilt Yankee goodness over the next few days during my surgery recovery, so expect a few more blog posts over the holidays. Happy War-gaming wherever you are, and Merry Christmas!

Day of the Jackboot: The BUF gets reinforcements!

The BUF get buff!

Finally, some BUF progress!

When my friend and I first decided to play The Very British Civil War setting, it was I who suggested I play the bad guys. I will be up-front: I prefer to paint my Royalist contingent, in their old WW1 style uniforms, as opposed to the more striking British Union of Fascists(BUF) paramilitary uniforms.

For example purposes only, a picture of said Royalist uniform.

This is for two reasons, firstly since the Royalists are fairly easy to paint! Nice chunky detail, an easy basecoat, and they take well to washes. The BUF, in black, suffer from all the problems of painting black uniforms: contrasts and an overall flat feeling.

Secondly, my primer. I used Rustoleum Flat Black, which went on a bit satin and overly smooth. Nothing likes to stick to it! All my BUF were sprayed in one go, and all will suffer this problem unless sprayed over with a flat black from a different manufacturer.

Of course, all this complaining is very much a case of a bad craftsman blaming his tools, and it isn’t getting my Fascist jerks painted any faster. So after doing important housework….

Hard to say no to this face when she wants walksies.

And I had at it! Now, I was given some good constructive criticism from members of the Very British Civil War group on Facebook, namely to punch up the contrasting colours to make the black less flat. I’ll let you, dear reader, decide if it was worth the effort.

These guys fought me tooth and nail to get done. It’s almost like they knew they were the awkward cousin no-one wanted at the party. I went for grey jodhpurs to strike up the contrast, and khaki coloured webbing. Their helmets are a nice shade of grey, just for contrast purposes.

Khaki puttees and blond wood Lee Enfields give a splash of colour.
Not my cleanest painting ever, but serviceable. Ready to fight the Anglican League!

Now my painting isn’t as sharp as it used to be, which I suspect is a combination of the bad primer causing issues, and more frighteningly an issue with my hands from medication I’m taking. Hopefully this passes in due time, I got a lot of unpainted models!

Now for comparisons sake, here is a picture of one of my BUF Yeomanry models, compared to a regular paramilitary BUF soldier. I’d like some thoughts on the comparison, especially with the increased contrast! Be harsh!

Left, a BUF Soldier, Right, A BUF Yeomanry constable.

I think the difference is a positive one, but I think for consistency the Yeomanry lads will stay in that colour scheme.

On a different note, I’d like to weigh in on a discussion that seems to come up whenever the BUF miniatures range gets brought up. That is, historical accuracy.

The British Union of Fascists: Newspapers and Secret Files, 1933-1951 |  British Online Archives
The bastard himself! I may hate fascism, but man those uniforms are spiffy.
Australia & the Fascist Idea of Greater Britain – Imperial & Global Forum
However, the average joe made do with a black shirt and pants. Hardly a military organization!

In real life, the BUF were little more than thugs, with a very basic uniform, and they certainly weren’t toting rifles around! For miniatures like this, the range from Warlord for their Operation Sea Lion expansion works really well! And for some people’s Very British Civil War setting, this works. For me, it doesn’t. Allow me to explain why!

BUF Fifth Column – Warlord Games Ltd
Warlords great offering of BUF miniatures, a much more realistic take then the route I took.

In the Very British Civil War, Mosely is Prime Minister. I’m extrapolating here, but I like to imagine that the BUF goes legitimate; an armed paramilitary force for both policing and bodyguard purposes, with elements trying to integrate into the British Army or stand apart as an armed, military wing of the Party in general. For this, Footsore Miniatures offerings are fantastic, a much more wild extension of the historical record, and very ‘Waffen SS’.

For my friend and I’s VBCW, we have gone with the latter interpretation, to make for a neat enemy for his Albertine forces to fight. I’ll be running them as inexperienced, badly trained fanatics using the Bolt Action rules, brave but not particularly well drilled and prone to breaking off an attack if it goes south. Maybe using the Italian rules? They’ll be backed up by Royalists using the British rules, stiffening the back of the army I play as a whole. I want the BUF to be dangerous, but not overpowered.

Anyways, I’ve said my opinion. If you disagree or want to debate it, I’m more then happy to! Just comment away.

In other news…and a little teaser of what’s coming. I’ll leave you with a model to ponder over…

Redcoats? On my blog? Its meant to be!

As well, my battle report from a while back for Zona Alfa was very well received! I won a prize in the associated contest, and got a signed copy of the rules from the author, Patrick Todoroff! I’m quite chuffed with my win, and hopefully I can get back to Zona Alfa fairly soon!

Signed by Uncle Vanya himself! Maybe another Zone expedition is coming?

But for now, that is all I have. Happy wargaming wherever you are, and God Save King Edward!*

*Not Prime Minister Mosely though, he’s an absolute jerk!

Lest we Forget: A small tribute to a man I never knew.

I’ll keep this brief, as this is not supposed to be a post solely to get views. Remembrance Day is very important to me, but I also just started a new job today, and had to mark my moment of silence while working. I don’t have a lot of pictures; My grandfather burned them after the war to spite the British.

In 1939, Austin Turner went to war. A youth, from middle upper-class gentry, and schooled in the British fashion, the reason he went to volunteer is unknown to us. As an Anglo-Indian, considered to be a “Non-Warrior” race, he wasn’t actively sought out. A sort of reverse racism. But nonetheless, as the Empire went to war against Nazi Germany, he found himself in military service.

Eventually, he found himself in the Western Desert, fighting against Rommel and his Afrika Korps as part of the 8th Army, the famous ‘Desert Rats’. In fact, he was an Engineer, helping clear the minefields of El Alamein.

Now this is where the story gets weird. He ended up as a navigator on an LRDG truck, (and in actual fact, this is where I got the name for this blog; Their unit motto was “Non Vi Sed Arte“, Latin for “Not by Strength, By Guile), and this is where the trail goes cold, and difficult to follow. He was in one of the English/South African patrols, according to family folklore.

He recalled serving in Yugoslavia, and was wounded in action in 1943. Returning to Egypt, he helped open a Singer sewing machine factory(which, if I recall correctly, is still there today!) and was quite a character in the Egyptian yacht community. Finally coming back to India in 1945, and in 1947 was bitterly disappointed with how Britain handled Partition, burned his passport and British citizenship, and became an avid Pakistani patriot. Running a salvage operation, breaking down ships, he finally died sometime in the 70’s from complications due to smoking. (My dad, who knows the exact date, is always broken up when asked, and for the sake of an internet article, I won’t ask).

A replica set of medals, given to each of the grandchilden. The full set is in Australia with my family there.

This man, who I never met, was apparently a gruff, stern, built like a truck individual. The polar opposite of myself. Yet his influence on my upbringing was staggering. I spent much of my formative years tracking his progress across the Western Desert campaign, and told tales of his exploits to my schoolyard friends. His bayonet, ground down into a fighting knife during his posting to the LRDG, is a unique heirloom exclusive to my family.

My interest in history, the Second World War, and the Western Desert campaign all comes from a man who in 1939, went to war, and was never the same again. He was not alone in my family; A great uncle went to Burma, and was captured and worked in prison camps not far different then the Bridge on the River Kwai, and if I’m not mistaken, WAS actually where he ended up. My Grandfather on my mothers side didn’t serve, but worked in the news, editing articles and getting them up for the evening news.

My family now finds itself in two Commonwealth nations, remembering our veterans quietly, as to not take away from the fact we are honouring Canadian and Australian veterans in our respective nations. But we remember our contribution to the Commonwealth and Britain in general. While my Grandfather may have been bitter about Partition, he was still an outstanding soldier, and that is how I choose to remember him. As I do all my family’s veterans.

Lest we Forget.

Royalist Reinforcements: Vickers Medium for VBCW!

Vickers Medium Mk2, reporting!

A section of Royalist infantry take over my painting desk, supported by a Vickers Medium

Sometimes, you just need a palette cleanse. An easy paint job to brighten your spirits and fire you up for additional painting.

I chose for just such a task a Vickers Medium Mk2, a very interesting interwar design. Large and slab sided, and not particularly fast, these tanks are out of date by the Very British Civil War timeline, and in our timeline only saw use in small numbers in Africa in World War Two*.

This was one of my earliest prints that I have done, and the bow-legged tracks betray my lack of skill at the time. Still, painted up, I’m hoping it will do sterling service on my gaming table, and look good doing it!

I primed it Vallejo Russian Uniform, a colour that seems, for some reason, to really resemble the off-green the British Army used.

Even with its wonky tracks, it still is an imposing mass of steel.

The tracks I did in an Eshin Grey, and the metal components Army Painter Plate Mail. I then sponged Plate Mail around the tank as severe weathering. Finally, I used Nuln Oil to fill in the metal details on the tank, giving them a more worn appearance.

Free-handing is hard!

I found the free-hand detail to be quite difficult, but serviceable. In my excuse for painting, I have decided that these are hand-painted by the crew, and this crew is particularly sloppy!

Going to have to fix that free-hand here….
The bow-legged tracks are particularly noticeable up front and rear!

Still, for a quick paintjob to get it on the table, its not the worst! I can always go back and add more later.

Behind the tank you can see a section of infantry! Those will be next, bringing my force to twenty royalists and a tank. An HQ section is after that, and I can start fighting for King Edward VII in style! Of course, for such a battle one needs an opponent, and luckily my friend has been working hard on his Albertines! For those fresh to Very British Civil War, that is our timeline’s King George he’s fighting for, to put on the throne.

Quite awkwardly, he too has decided to use Woodbine Design Studios WW1 figures as his base for his army…meaning the only difference is our paintjob!
He has gone for purple puttees instead of armbands for his army. Purple accents show up quite regularly!
And unlike me, he has gotten his officers ready too! I have some catching up to do!

As lockdowns and shutdowns, and other various bits of stressful news come in, I will admit I sometimes find it hard to work up the hobby energy. But I’m really keen on getting my Very British Civil War guys done before I next see my friend next. Goals keep us going!

But for now, that is all I got. Happy War-gaming wherever you are, and God Save King Edward!

*Note, I may not get my history right. Don’t quote me without doing your own digging first!.

The Empire’s Time…Has Come!

Imperial Special Forces for Legion!

“I see a white Stormtrooper and I want it painted black…”

I was visiting my friendly local gaming store, when I noticed something; a nice stockpile of the new Star Wars Legion expansions. Did I go there for them? Goodness no, but given my recent paycheque and the very real possibility of a better job in the near future….I couldn’t resist leaving with something. While ARC Troopers are the coolest choice, I am not playing the Republic(yet). So I instead walked out with Inferno Squad!

Now for those of you not in the know, Inferno Squad is from the much maligned Star Wars Battlefront 2 game by EA. While I definitely had my problems with it, I did enjoy the single player experience, which focuses on the exploits of Inferno Squad, from the Imperial Special Forces.

The box set by Fantasy Flight allows you to make these characters except for their leader, Iden Versio, who got rolled into a Commander/Operative class model. However, as I can see myself buying a second box of these fantastic models, I decided to be a bit daring and make instead my own custom Special Forces team.

Taking a page from my Black Templars from Warhammer 40k, I primed black, then drybrushed lightly with Eshin Grey. This was followed by a drybrush of Dawnstone. What this did was introduce some gradients to the black uniform, so that a shade, Nuln Oil, would actually add some depth.

I’ll leave it up to you to decide if it worked or not, but I was quite happy with them. This, to be entirely honest, is where I left the black uniform; A lot of the colours are so similar and my collection of black and grey paints is running thin. I did however repaint the E-11 and DLT-19 blasters in Eshin Grey fully, to add some different tones. I have come to quite enjoy painting weapons in that color, its actually closer to what colour the weapons are in films and cartoons, instead of being painted with metallics.

A DLT-19 toting Special Forces trooper, with a sharp looking weapon.

I decided early on that I would use Army Painter’s Electric Blue as my insignia colour, to make them distinct from Inferno Squad’s red details. On most of the troopers, this was just on the small blue discs on their shoulders.

However, for interest, I decided to have on three troopers a stripe running down their legs. I did this on the Squad Leader, and the alternate builds for Gideon Hask and Del Meeko. This brought in some much needed visual interest.

Is it practical on ‘stealth’ uniforms? Goodness no. Is it cool? Yes…I think.
The drybrushed highlights really worked on the back armour plates.
Another model, this one being the alternative Gideon with helmet build. Here you can see the gloss coat I added to the eye-lenses.
And here is the alternate Del Meeko build. I’ve based these models to fit my Mimban campaign idea.
And the whole squad coming together. I really enjoyed this little project.

I’m quite pleased with these models! I was pretty happy with the fact Fantasy Flight has moved to a plastic sprue for their newer kits; this extra detail really helped the drybrush along.

As a happy accident, one of my friends had picked up a can of Vallejo Spray for my Team Yankee stuff. However, he had accidently grabbed a German Field Grey can instead of my Russian Uniform! I decided to try it out on my General Veers to see if it was a good match for the Imperial Officer uniform, the olive-grey seen in the movies!

“The shield will be down in moments. You may start your landing”-General Veers, Empire Strikes Back.

Its…admittedly not a perfect match. But it’s not entirely terrible either, and I decided to press on regardless. The uniforms are a tough nut to crack, as they were made in an olive-grey materiel but the colour grading makes them appear more grey in the films. I feel like this leans a bit on the green side….

This is an older Legion model, from Wave 2. It shows; the face isn’t up to par with the newer sculpts and it’s features are quite chunky. Still a great model and really fun to paint!
He still looks the business leading the troops!

All in all, a good days work! My Legion stuff seems to find its way to the top of my painting queue quite often…I can’t seem to figure out why! In any event, I’m making decent progress at being able to play a game with fully painted models!

The whole, unhappy, imperialist, Jawa-murdering, family!

This was, to be entirely honest, a deviation from the content I meant to have done this weekend. Seeing as I have a day off between today and my next class, I might try and sneak in a VBCW article! My friend in the city has been making good progress on Albertines, and I have a most royal project waiting in the wings.

But for now, that is all I have! I hope you enjoyed! I’m still in the process of trying to find a name for my ‘not’ Inferno Squad, and if you have any suggestions, let me know! Happy War-Gaming, wherever you are, and may the Force be with you!

Pimp your Russ: Tank Overhaul Part One!

Building a Better Russ!

Once upon a time, this was a primarily 40k-centric blog. Over the years I have adapted and switched to new games as they have come and caught my fancy, but it isn’t like I have stopped collecting or playing in the mean time.

The Chaplain would like to have a word with you…at 120 MPH.

However, my tastes over time have changed, and looking back at my old, reliable Russ fleet, and having played games with more realistic stylings recently, they didn’t hold up well. I now own a 3D printer, but printing whole alternate tanks was still a difficult task…a print-bed is still a limiting factor. I wasn’t really looking all that hard, when I caught wind of II GARGOYLES STVDIO, a patreon who had done in the past a T-34 styled upgrade kit.

Nice and Soviet. I particularly liked the Cannon!
Their Chimera alternative sides kit is also looking great, with excellent(if difficult to print for newbies) suspension detail.
Their Maxim-styled Bolter replacements will find use in both 40k and Historical settings. I’m planning a Double-Decker Bus for VBCW with broadsides of these things.

However, this kit was meant for the newer styled GW Russ, which I only have one of. My fleet mostly consists of older, early 2000’s and 90’s Russ hulls, and that meant the back extension would not fit, as the engine bay on the older models is offset instead of centreline.

Curse you! In actual truth this makes a lot of sense; Who even owns these older tanks…except me obviously.

However, all the stowage will fit just fine, as well as equipment and other paraphernalia. What particularly interested me was the main gun; a replacement for the notoriously large calibre Leman Russ Battle Cannon goes a long way in making the Russ ‘work’ better from a realism angle. I really liked the T-34/76 style it has going on, and took one of my older kits apart.

Much better!
The tank almost looks MORE menacing with a more sensible gun; While the Russ will never be a ‘realistic’ tank, this goes a long way to making it more reasonable. The profile looks more like a predator of a tank, instead of a cartoon caricature.
Loading shells will still be a problem in the cramped turret, but at least now it is physically possible to carry a few rounds…
The cobbled together look of the tank lends it-self to my lore; Being that these are Sabbat Worlds Crusade era tanks, this could very well be a local Urdeshi variant of the parent design.

However, because the upgrade kit was designed for a newer kit, some modification was needed. This was actually doable as opposed to the rear hull extension. Since I am pointing people toward the Patreon, I figured I’d show you quickly how I did it.

Before gluing(or regluing as the case is here), you will need to trim away some of the bottom turret plate.
Using the front protruding part as a guide, trim away the parts where the cannon hangs too low. You won’t be able to adjust elevation, but given that this is a gaming model that might not be a problem for you!
Then simply slide the new, sensible cannon down into where the Battle Cannon used to be. You can see here the cuts I have made, to allow the new cannon to sit well. Use a good superglue with a good bond to make sure you don’t lose your new cannon during play, as nothing but the glue will now be holding it!

This is the first step on my Russ overhaul, and I won’t be stopping here. I am also going to ‘try’ and undo the side-pieces on my Chimera APCs, but I did too good a job the first time and I don’t think they are coming off! Luckily, a friend of mine got me a Chimera a year ago I have yet to build, so I will be putting the new suspension unit on that kit soonish!

I highly recommend checking out the Patreon for II GARGOYLES STVDIO at https://www.patreon.com/2gargoyles, as they have a lot of really cool stuff! They have this month a Dino-Riding Rough Rider unit, and in their backlog you can grab regular, horse mounted Rough Riders and various other bits and bobs, like the Tank Upgrade I got here!

Including this Dshk styled Heavy Stubber! I have asked them to make a simplified version for my shaky hands, but you can make the current one available totally posable!

I will have some more, non-40k content for those who enjoy that later this week! Covid-19 has well and truly entered a new stage, and I am skipping my local clubhouse visits until the situation in Canada gets a little better. More time for hobbying and blogging, and anyone who finds this content interesting is in for a treat!

Until then, Happy War-Gaming where-ever you are, and stay safe and positive as best you can in these trying times!

Shortcuts make Long Delays: Temporary Hiatus!

Just a quick note, I have some great content in the wings, but I have run into some rather more boring problems: I’ve reached my WordPress picture cap! Rather then ruin my older content, which actually gets a decent amount of traffic for a pokey little hobby blog, I’d rather pony up and get the upgrade.

It’ll take me a few weeks until payday, then I’ll pull the proverbial trigger and get some content on the go again! Not that anyone is too fussed, but it shan’t be a long wait. Until then, Happy War-gaming!

AK-74 Sunrise: A Zona Alfa Battle Report!

Mysterious Foes from within the Zone!

To the Director of CIA Field Operations, Kiev, Ukraine. Some important events have transpired in the Zone in the last month. I have directed one of the field officers in the Zone to compile this document.

The following report regards the events of September 30th, 2020, Exclusion Zone, Pripyat. Compiled from multiple sources, this report details the action at the Lisove, a village near the Red Forest.

On or about 0630 local time, a group of scientists from the Ukrainian Government task force found themselves under attack by an unknown group of hostiles. Said hostiles are the first non-zombified human contact coming from the Duga Array since 2003. They put out a distress call, which attracted the attention of two teams of Stalkers.

Group known locally as the “Zone Rats”. Experienced Stalkers, on their second expedition into the zone. Their Leader, Lebedev, is known for his obession with salvage….
Bandit group calling themselves the ‘Cheeki Breeki Boys”. Known for their callsigns, all based off Russian politicians. Cutthroat but fair, but always with an eye for undercutting the ‘other guy’

The two teams descended upon the zone to find it under heavy fire. The hostiles were described later by the scientists as ‘wearing western equipment and firing western weapons, with distinctive blue helmets’ The UN has disavowed any knowledge of this group, and we are inclined to believe them…no group UN funded is this well equipped.

Long range photography of known group now called the ‘Blue Helmets’

The following timeline has been established from local interviews, drone photography, and sources on the ground who witnessed the event. By breaking the events into distinct parts, ‘Turns’, if you will, we can now go over what transpired.

‘Turn One’: Both teams arrived around 0730 local time, with the ‘Zone Rats’ arriving first to the scene. As they arrived, Lebedev, the leader of this team of Stalkers, took down a Blue Helmet with his rifle from range.

Firing on the move, Lebedev gets first blood.

Meanwhile, as the ‘Cheeki Breeki Boys’ arrived, one of their number, ‘Gorbachev’, likewise fired upon the hostiles, taking down one of their number, while the other took it in the kevlar and was still combat effective.

The Blue Helmets take rifle fire from the CB Boys, and return fire in turn

The hostiles return fire from an elevated position. Lebedev avoids the fire, while ‘Putin’ from the CB Boys takes a flesh wound, treating it with a medical stim.

Meanwhile, another Blue Helmet fired an M72 LAW(where such weapons were acquired is a mystery, and will be an additional report) into the bunker containing the science team, killing one of their security detail.

The report of such heavy ordinance draws attention, even in the Zone.

Machine gun fire from both teams of Stalkers killed one Blue Helmet, and forced the ‘leader’ into cover. Vorobev(Zone Rats), fired at the LAW-wielding BH, and here we have our first verbal communication from these mysterious foes. “Try again, loser!” in perfect English!

Other members of the teams moved into cover, prepared for the next phase of combat.

Shpatsky(Zone Rats) puts armor between him and incoming 5.56mm

At this point, driven by an unknown compelling force, several Blue Helmets got up despite apparent fatal injuries. They would usually proceed to fire one last shot at their attackers before expiring.

This Blue Helmet was observed taking heavy fire, and yet surviving what should be a fatal wound to fire again!

‘Turn Two’ began with Lebedev, who moved forward toward a Hot Spot, throwing(and missing) with a bolt, a common thing in the zone to trigger such anomalies. Apparently infuriated by his lack of luck, he fired a wild burst into the LAW gunner, killing that Blue Helmet. Driven by some base compulsion, he ran to loot the Hot Spot, tripping into a pile of Rad Ghouls hiding in the rocks. (Lebedev has an obsession with salvage, leading to such incidents like this. I will go over this in another report).

It is said among witnesses that despite the gasmask, a loud BYLAT was heard.

‘Lenin’ from the CB Boys fires at the hostile leader, downing him, however in the last few shots his antique DPM machine gun jams, forcing him to take time clearing it.

‘How many times have I told that cyka to replace that old piece of pizdec!’-Putin, interviewed 2 weeks from this incident

One Blue Helmet, struggling with blood loss but compelled by some force, fired two bursts of M16A1 fire into the scrum of Ghouls surrounding Lebedev, killing three, Lebedev shrugging off the incoming fire but throughly pinned down. The Blue Helmet then expired.

In any other circumstance, this would be a heroic moment.

The Rad Ghouls attacked, their numbers weakened but their claws sharp. Lebedev fought off his attackers, and killing one with his knife. His comrades were reported as saying “This is why we follow the man, he may be a salvage monger but he knows how to fight!”

Bayonets with some guts behind it!

‘Stalin'(I think you can see how the names in the Cheeki Breeki Boys work now) takes fire, however his body armor takes the hit and protects the meat.

A comment from the Youtube video uploaded of the incident reports a famous influencer saying “Boris Appoves” over ‘Trotskys’ yellow tracksuit.

Shpatsky attempted to extract Lededev from the mess he had gotten himself into, not wanting to chance the flamethrower shot.

The flamethrower not useful unless he wanted to roast his leader, Shpatsky dives into melee.

This attempt was unsuccessful, and the would be rescuer had to apply first aid to himself.

Zakharov, the shotgun wielder of the Zone Rats, managed to aim and splatter a ghoul, rescuing Lebedev from himself finally.

Zakharov earned a pay raise for his actions. In the words if this CIA agent, it was one hell of a shot!

‘Gagarin’, the most recent and psychopathic addition to the Cheeki Breeki Boys, ran up to a hot spot, and awakened a nest of Zombies. However, he was prepared for such a situation..

“And…” Asked Putin as he set down the gun he was cleaning and regarded his compatriot with a raised eyebrow. “Did you ask this new cyka about that gigantic thing he carries strapped to his back?”
“I did indeed comrade” responded Yeltsin, who was stoking the coals to a camp fire.
“Well, I’m all ears.”
“He said that it is a chemical weapon.”
“A chemical weapon?”
“Indeed, a chemical weapon.” Affirmed Yeltsin “Apparently it sprays the area with acid, which then reacts with oxygen in the air and catches on fire.”
“Did you not suggest to him that might be an inappropriate choice of weapon, since we hired him to help us kidnap some scientists comrade?” Questioned Putin, visibly irritated beneath his ushanka.
“I did indeed suggest that” Responded Yeltsin, unfazed, opening a can of borsht to heat on the fire.
“And..” Growled Putin “What did our new comrade say, when you made that suggestion.”
“He said that by making that suggestion, I betrayed my ignorance of the zone, and suggested he might be a better leader for the team. Now do you want some borsht?”
“Well…” sighed Putin, eyeing the can of soup “The man may be walking pizdec, but he has a point.”- Conversation overheard by Field Agent.
Gagarin’s chemical thrower made short work of the Zombie swarm.

‘Turn Three’ began with yet more Blue Helmets emerging from the Red Forest, and the leader getting up from his horrific wounds.

‘Putin’ jammed his AK47 trying to kill the BH leader, however the effect was the same, as the Opfor was downed due to bleeding out.

The Blue Helmet pitches into the forest earth, his wounds too heavy to sustain anymore.

Lebedev, obsessed with needing to know what lay in the anomaly field, triggered an Inker anomaly, covering the area in thick clouds of black living smoke.

Lebedev can’t catch a break.

‘Gagarin’ on the other hand has much greater luck, finding a valuable artifact in the centre of the hot spot.

Gagarin clears the anomaly field, and leaves a richer man.

Zakharov decides to spare Lebedev his obsession, and tried to clear the hot-spot in the BTR convoy. However he instead awoke a sleeping Zone Bear!

“Oh pizdec”
The common Zone Bear, a mutated and ruined form of the common Black Bear. Scary, and behind the deaths of many rookie stalkers.
“Three times I have seen those radiated Cykas, and three times I have seen this madman shoot them down like vermin. This man has khabrosht!-Lebedev, leader of the Zone Rats, in a recorded conversation 3 hours after the incident.

Two more Blue Helmets arrive, and take up positions, and several ‘dead’ ones get back up to fight again! However, ‘Yeltsin’ fired a rocket into the tree-line, using an old Panzerfaust tube with an improvised explosive warhead, taking out one and the other was saved by the tree.

‘Gagarin’ and Koralev both took fire from Blue Helmet positions, and were forced to take cover and tend their wounds, using valuable medkits to do so!

The Cheeki Breeki Boys, in effective cover of the dense bushes.

Zakharov tried to investigate the now Bear-clear hotspot, and instead triggered a magnetic anomaly, sticking his gun to the spot. He eventually cleared it, taking a great deal of time.

Putin downs another Opfor.

‘Putin’ advanced to the ‘ever burning tank’ anomaly and gunned down another Blue Helmet.

It is at this point, ‘Turn Five’ that things get more heated.

More Blue Helmets arrive, however the incoming fire from the Cheeki Breeki Boys is effective and downed one.

Shpatsky advanced to the bunker, and yelled for the trapped scientists to leave. However, none respond to the massive man with a flamethrower!

Lebedev is more successful, and convinces one to leave safety, only to be cold cocked by ‘Putin’, eager to kidnap the scientist for ransom!

one rescued scientist(actually a member of the security detail)…
Only to be taken by ‘Putin’ at Obrez-point. These Cheeki Breeki Boys are not to be trusted. It is of note that no casualties were sustained in the scuffles for the scientists between the teams, as both did not want to actually kill one another…

‘Lenin’ manages to further suppress the Blue Helmets, killing another. However, as ‘Turn Six’ begins more hostiles arrive. One armed with a LAW attempted to rocket a large pocket of rescued(or kidnapped!) scientists!

A melee ensues between the two teams, as they punch, bite, and grab each other for control of the Science team. They avoided lethal weapons but many ice-packs were used afterwards!

Control of the lead scientist was crucial to both teams payday!

Two Blue Helmets fire M16’s into the scrum, but land no effective hits. The LAW is efficiently suppressed by incoming fire. Vorobev is unsuccessful trying to wrestle away the lead scientist, however Shpatsky is not, and leads the scientist away from the ‘Crazy Gopniks’

Incoming fire prevents the Blue Helmets from completing their objective.
Another rescued scientist!
‘Gagarin’ leads, at gunpoint, another scientist away.

Leading into ‘Turn Seven”, more hostiles arrive, and the LAW gunner manages to collect his wits enough to fire at Shpatsky, but not enough to aim well, instead ruining a jersey barrier.

A lucky miss! And a good look at ‘Trotsky’, who attempted to wrestle control of the other scientist.

‘Lenin’ returns fire, and both his and the return fire is ineffective. Both teams eventually collectively end the threat from the Blue Helmets(for now), and having moved away from each other, choose to break away with their hostages/rescued scientists.

The Cheeki Breeki Boys make for the hills, their hostages secure.
Discretion is the better part of valour, and having secured the lead scientist, The Zone Rats allow the security detail to get taken by the Cheeki Breeki Boys.

At this point I must report the action breaks off. Both teams managed to secure a few scientists, but the Zone Rats having gotten the Lead Scientist away are the ones making a bigger payday. The interesting angle for us at the CIA is what followed…

Once the Scientists were returned to their protected bunker, they made a radio broadcast over open channels.

Fellow Stalkers, we have made a most excellent discovery. The Duga Array need not hold us back any longer. Due to our research, which lead to an unprecedented attack from inside the Zone, we have discovered a way to ‘block’ the signals emanating from the inside of the Field. We are working on prototypes, and need a team of willing Stalkers to wield such devices. If the Duga Array, the Scorcher, could be turned off, the centre of the Zone will become open to all of us. Report to our bunker. You will be paid well.”

I recommend dispatching a team, or funding one, immediately to make use of this discovery.

Yours, Agent Blackwell.

AUTHORS NOTES:

This battle report was an experiment in writing narratively, and may have succeeded in some ways, and failed in others. The impetus behind this was the STALKER 7 Battle Report contest, a contest I can’t see myself winning, however I hope it remains entertaining!

This was a custom scenario devised by a friend and I, to recover scientists from the field while under attack from hostile, Monolith, like forces. This is greatly inspired by the events of the STALKER video game, and may work in some ways and not in others. We had some custom rules I will go over now.

There were 5 Scientists in a bunker on the other side of the field, and the winner was the player controlling the most of them by the end of Turn 7. You could escort the scientists by moving into base contact, wrestle control away by doing a melee fight(lethal or not) or try to convince them to follow you with a Will-check.

There were two opposing squads of hostiles on the board, controlled as if they were a player. Due to Zone influence, they had 7 Will, and could get up on a 5+ for one final action before dying.

Each Turn, d3, minus what was already on the board, hostiles would arrive from the Red Forest. This ensured there was at least one hostile on the table on each side at all times.

The last hostile activated each turn had to shoot at the bunker and the scientists within, to act as an incentive to move up the table and act as a timer.

We used three Hot-Spots, using the expanded Anomaly table and any results of Bandits was rerolled when hostiles showed up.

We are not sure how well this worked, but it was a great deal of fun to play regardless. I hope you guys reading enjoy it as much as we enjoyed playing it. As always, Happy War-gaming where-ever you are, and beware, for Such is Life in the Zone!