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.

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.

An Old Dream, Long Remembered: Childhood Goals in Dark Times

A new, grand goal.

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
-JRR Tolkien

Fair warning, this is minis lite: This is something I plan to do, not currently have ready! It reads more like an essay. This is the beginnings, the first steps…the first stones that start an avalanche. It’s not going to be for all of you! And that’s okay. Its a bit depressing too, at first.

It has been a rough year for all of us. Between Covid, Lockdowns, Quarantines, Restrictions, one could get tired of it all. I can be tough to cope.

Frodo Baggins' entire backstory explained
Buckle up Frodo, you got a long way to go!

For myself, especially, and for the first and last time I’ll mention on this blog, it has been a particularly close run thing. My mental health has taken serious blows, and it brought myself closer to the brink then I’d like to admit. Let me be perfectly blunt. I’m happy to be alive. I’ve come out of the darkness with a pretty renewed sense of purpose, drive, and motivation to not let the little things pass-me-by.

J. R. R. Tolkien quote: I will not say, do not weep, for not all...
Sometimes a hard-lesson is the only way to learn what matters.

In the midst of all of this, Games Workshop quietly announced Quest for the Ringbearer, a supplement for the Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game. Having received my copy yesterday, I finally got a chance to sit down, and read it. A pretty good supplement, barring some minor spelling errors and potential rules gaffes. The campaign is akin to the journeybooks of old, but updated for the most current ruleset and party to some of the more balanced versions of the included scenarios I’ve seen.

Middle-earth SBG - Dunlendings - Page 34 - Forum - DakkaDakka | Roll the  dice to see if I'm getting drunk.
Finally, worthy tomes exist to replace these great but long since out of print epics

If it was just that, I’d have been happy, but included were a couple additional treats; a full fantasy Fellowship campaign modification, and most crucially to me, an up to date way to fight ALL of the Fellowships battles using all currently released books. This is something brand new, and very exciting!

War Comes to Rohan™! - Warhammer Community
This, and the Gondor at War book, complete the whole Trilogy of epic content.

Indeed, it brings me back to a childhood dream of a much younger version of me, twinkles in his eyes and full of naivety as I fought battles across my living room floor. I wanted to do the books AND the movies justice, nailing the feel of both. A full Fellowship playthrough, with bespoke terrain, painted armies, and good company.

I dreamed in my youth of taking the Fellowship, all parts of it, across Middle-Earth on an adventure to end an age.

For the first time in living memory, I have both the drive and willpower to see it through. I have the collection my thirteen year old self couldn’t even dream of owning. I have many good friends willing to go on an adventure, lending me their Sword, Bow, or Axe to the cause. From Bag-End to Mount Doom, from Rivendell to Rohan and Gondor, to the Black Gate itself.

I'm Going On An Adventure! | Know Your Meme
Adventures are better with friends!

It fills me with joy and excitement, something that can be difficult to muster in this age of uncertainty. It could take years for me to complete such an undertaking. It could see missteps, mistakes. But yet my excitement holds true. I work best with a goal, however distant, in mind.

The man I have become these last few years isn’t the one I thought I’d be, better or for worse. But for the kid I was, that happy go lucky pre-teen who broke the seal on the Return of the King Starter Box back in 2003….I’ll follow Frodo and Aragorn’s journeys across Middle Earth. A dream, now a future.

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And its WORTH fighting for.

I hope you good folks out there can forgive a man getting a few things off his chest, and finding hope in the smaller things in life. I don’t like to dwell on such unhappy, if motivational topics, and your regularly scheduled dose of wargaming content will continue on Wednesday evening! But in the mean time, Happy Wargaming where-ever you might be, and may you find some inspiration in the strangest places!

For King OR Country: First Steps into A Very British Civil War!

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They aren’t perfect. But I printed them at home!

In my last post, I mentioned that my 3D printer was arriving the day after. As one can guess from my utter lack of posting since, I have been busy enjoying my personal resin miniature machine. It’s a not insignificant learning curve, and I can’t claim to be 100% proficient at the process yet. But, for my stated goal of printing tanks, it has not failed me.

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The Phrozen Sonic Mini, doing its black magic. In goes liquid resin, out comes Tanks!

On the other hand, a few weeks ago, I mentioned that a friend and I had bought into A Very British Civil War, a setting based on King Edward VIII’s abdication crisis in 1936. Before I give you a quick synopsis, fair warning here, I’m not a Britisher myself, I may get some details wrong, but lets carry on with it, shall we? King Edward had attained the throne upon the death of his father, King George V.  However, the young king was sort of a playboy, and had fallen away from his womanizing ways by wanting to marry Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee. To our modern eyes, this doesn’t seem so bad.

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Prince Edward in the First World War. He was a member of the Grenadier Guards, but never allowed to see service. Admittedly a rather handsome young man, and his leave in Paris was…educational for the young Prince on the art of wooing ladies.

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However, he met his match in the 30’s in Wallis Simpson. An admittedly pretty lady, who proceeded to nearly cause a country to crumble!

But back then, it was a massive deal, and one that threatened to cause a serious issue in the United Kingdom. Parliament, to not go into too much detail, had said they wouldn’t support such a move. King Edward deliberated for pretty much the entirety of 1936. During that time, he showed an inclination towards supporting Fascism, which is probably the more dangerous part of this whole crisis. He was friends with Hitler later on!

Prinz Harrys Urgroßonkel Herzog von Windsor traf Hitler
The Duke of Windsor, as Edward was styled after his adication, during a trip to Germany. He did the whole touristy thing, did as the Germans did. Which, in 1937 was Nazi Salutes and meeting good Ole Hitler.

Now, in our history, King Edward abdicates the throne in order to marry Wallis Simpson, and while a thorn in the side of British foreign relations, he played no serious further part in history. In the timeline of A Very British Civil War, however, he decides he’d like both, please. By keeping the throne, and marrying Simpson, Parliament collapses on itself. Some stay loyal to King Edward, but most resign. The government is on the brink of collapse. In order to keep things going, King Edward decides to invite someone to take charge, and appoints a Prime Minister.

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King Edward opening Parliament during his brief reign.

He chooses Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists, and confirmed absolute jerk, who then proceeds to fill Parliament with a heavily Fascist majority, and placing his Blackshirts as an actual, legal, paramilitary. This does not sit well with a large part of the country, but he still manages to keep a lid of things. This is, until, a royal parade.

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Like a British Hitler, with a much more stupid mustache!

Traveling via armored car out of fear for his life, King Edward was being escorted by the Guards regiments, and several columns of British Union of Fascist “police”men. Someone fires a shot. Utter pandamonium reigns as King Edward makes his getaway, but the British Union Fascists turn their guns on the crowd. The Guards, in part but not entirely, fire at the Fascists! No one knows who shot first. In the aftermath, the country falls into collapse. The non-English Guard regiments are disbanded, and the Welsh, Irish, and Scots Guards are sent home in disgrace. The perceived insult leads many of these men to join the ever increasing and violent opposition to Mosley and his King. The many, many factions start to group together into loose coalitions.

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The Anglican League, middle class England, starts to form militias out of cricket teams, former soldiers, and various parts of your typical British village. They rally around Anglican dioceses, and start to form a mild-large religious front. They are a loose federation, all fight Mosley, but few groups agree what happens after. Some even consider working with the Socialists for a greater say in post war reconstruction.

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The Socialists get a huge shot in the arm, now convincing many lower class workers that the time is right for vast social reform, a revolution! Support from the Comintern is forthcoming, and many veterans of the Spanish Civil War join the ranks. They too differ in ideology; Some are more Leninist, some prefer hard-line Stalinism, and a few broach the dangerous territory of being Trotskyites. Some are willing to work with the Anglicans on broad goals, some refuse on principle. Some actually don’t want Soviet help, while others jockey to please Moscow.

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The Royalists are in a bad spot; They control most of the Army, and the Royal Air Force overwhelmingly supports Mosley and the King. The Navy is actually not touched upon in great deal in the setting, but I’d like to think that, inspired by global events elsewhere, some go Socialist, as mutineers rise up on their ships. Some go to follow the other claimant to the throne, Prince Albert, to Canada. And some stay loyal, but probably with the least amount. What they do maintain is extremely well trained Regulars, a good Territorial Army system, but with some of the major arms suppliers being now in rebel hands, they are fighting a war of attrition, in both losses of men to bullets or desertion, or difficulty maintaining supplies.

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The Fascists, while nominally on the same side as King Edward, are jockeying and using the turmoil to make themselves more and more ingrained into every part of governance and warfare, a move that Royalists can’t stop but don’t have to like. Mosley recruits fanatical youth, forming a military around his BUF. His new Legions take the name of famous kings and folk heroes of Britain. But really, the jackbooted thugs find themselves in a gamble; if they win this war, Fascism is entrenched and the UK saved from undesirables. If they do not, the reprisals will end them. Simple as.

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The Scots, having had quite enough of this silly stuff, turn into a self governing Republic. They suffer from internal issues as most of their officers wish to reunify upon Scottish victory, and become part of a Union again. Jacobites in the Highlands bring up the Stuart claims to the throne…again. The Scots really just want to defend their ancestral lands, and force a peace deal to secure this.

1920px-Flag_of_Wales_(1807–1953).svg

The Welsh, ever fractious, can’t form a national resistance, and naturally form into similar groups as the English did. A few want an independent Wales, however, and are willing to fight for it. Now if only they could all agree on how to do that….

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The Irish, wisely sensing they can get away with it, occupy Ulster and Belfast. Ireland is now united, albeit temporarily. Ireland now sits, and waits to see how the sides respond. Eamon de Valera might be able to keep Ulster if he backs the winning horse, but will the luck of the Irish help them choose right?

1024px-Coat_of_Arms_of_Albert,_Duke_of_York.svg

Finally, Prince Albert, in exile in Canada(from this point on, this is conjecture. And this is the lore we are using in my games among friends.) seeks the aid of the Canadian government. An Expeditionary Force is authorized, and while badly under-equipped in aircraft and armoured vehicles, a few of each are attained. Fellow British exiles join this Force, and they make for the coast of Wales. Upon landing, and setting a defensive perimeter, they are approached by envoys of the local political factions. He dismisses the Socialists outright, unwilling to work with a party that seeks to abolish the throne; He will fight them as hard as he will Mosley. The Anglicans are a much more interesting case; interested in fighting for a claim to the throne, back the Albertines. However, some talk in the Anglican ranks seems to push them to ask for concessions, and perhaps stricter religious laws. The Canadian bulk of the Expeditionary Force is seen by some as foreign invasion; to alleviate concerns, detachments of local Anglicans are embedded into the command structure of the Force. The Canadians are eager to restore who they feel is the true King to the throne, and bring a staunch professionalism and grit to the otherwise undertrained militia flocking to the Albertine banner.

Okay, now that the ‘brief’ summary is out of the way, for those of us unfamiliar with the setting. I honestly got carried away writing it! It was an absolute blast. I really enjoy the setting, what can I say?

As I said last time, My buddy is playing the Albertines, with Anglican support. A very traditional faction, with some cricket teams and some other goofy stuff planned for late. Here are some pics of what he’s started on!

A BEF box, Command, Vickers Machine gun, and a boat to carry them home to the Rainy Isle. He’s got more coming!

As for me, I did two large orders of infantry, one from Footsore Miniatures for my BUF, and another from Gripping Beast for WW1 Infantry, to be used as Territorial Army(Reservists) serving the Royalists. They have not yet arrived; Hopefully soon! Both companies have been in touch to ensure that they do.

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A whole of bad dudes; And, what I presume, is a large amount of black primer!

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The good ole Territorial Army. Going to war with what their father’s would have, and dressed pretty damn close. I have 4 platoons in there! so I should be set for both BUF and Territorial Army.

 

Of course, what is clearly lacking here is vehicles. Having already got a 3D printer, I decided to try scaling up two 15mm models, and adding in a 28mm tank on that as well. Now this is a learning curve, a lot went wrong at first until I learned my machine a little better.

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The Assembly Line of Resin Goodness!

My first prints were a couple 40k and Fantasy related things, but I wanted to print an armored vehicle. I settled on the Rolls Royce Armored Car, model of 1920.

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Hmmm, something doesn’t look right.

After this failure, I fixed the issue with the supports, and produced my first battlefield ready model! It is far. far from perfect. And I can tweak it to make it better! But let me show you!

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Much better! A few issues with the tires, but very gameable.

 

With a nice solid coat of a nice green, it is ready for painting! I’m quite pleased, even thought its far from perfect. These were a common vehicle, and it’ll serve as a fairly quick machine gun position, moving along roads to secure key positions.

Morale restored, I decided to do a small Vickers “Dutchman” tank, an export model meant for the Dutch East Indies. Meant for police and enforcement, this tank was woefully under-equipped to fight the Japanese in 41-2. But in the VBCW setting, they will be nimble, small, decently well equipped gun platforms. My intention is that General Fuller has requested as many fast, light, tanks as he can get a hold of, trying to prepare for a blitzkrieg across the English countryside, and the Dutch order gets cancelled and vehicles pressed into service.

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It’s so widdle!

Finally, feeling confident I could tackle something larger, I started on a Vickers Medium Mk2. This tank is a key part of many VBCW armies, as it was common in service and training roles, and many could see service on any side. On this tank, the Turret Peg simply didn’t print, and as a large piece to hold the turret in, it was kind of important. This was fixed by a convenient off cut of plastic pipe a plumber left behind; perfect fit, and cut to size!

As well, the 3 Pounder Barrel didn’t print entirely. I decided to replace it with a pen tube. I can always print more, and I have gone back and fix the print. The real disaster came when the tracks came out seriously warped; it took a lot of rubber bands and hot water warping tricks to get it to this not entirely satisfactory result. But, it’ll serve just fine, and while very noticable, won’t affect my enjoyment of using it in a game! I love this tank, and this will form the core of my tank force. with a 3 Pounder gun, it is actually well equipped to deal with other armor it might encounter.

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Tissue armor, slow, slab sided. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I love this model.

Now since two of these models are scaled up from 15mm, I needed to see if they still looked the part! So I did a scale test with a Bolt Action plastic 8th Army soldier.

No major issues, and consulting the internet shows that while a hair too small, they are perfectly usable. 1/56th scale is common for Bolt Action, and seeing as we are using that rule-set, we decided to keep the vehicles that size. As well, my infantry in the mail are much smaller and finer in detail then the Warlord plastic model I’m using here. It should, altogether, make a striking force to look at on the table!

That is all I really got for today! But look on Monday for some sweet Zona Alfa related content!

This has been a fun experience, the printer. For printing obscure models from the Interwar years, it has been invaluable. I will continue to collect store-bought and boutique models, but as a tool to make some cool stuff, color me happy and impressed.

If you are a old school veteran Very British Civil War player, please let me know if I’m off to a good start. As a foreigner, some concepts here might escape me. And If anyone can help with flavour, I’m all ears! Happy to be joining a setting that has interested me for almost seven years!

Until next time, Happy War-Gaming, where you might be! I’m off to watch some Blackadder Goes Forth, Bertie and Wooster, and some Peaky Blinders to get into the flavour of things. Have a wonderful day!

 

Soviet Steel: 3D Printed BTR-70

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Great detail, low cost. Is this the way of the future?

When I needed to procure terrain for Zona Alfa, I looked at a great deal of Soviet armor on many websites. Some, like Empress Miniatures, offered beautiful sculpts with great detail, but it had one issue; price! I needed abandoned vehicles, not wrecks, but simply left to decay in the Zone after their crew disembarked and never returned for some reason or another.

While talking this over with a few of my fellows at https://badlypaintedminis.ca, one guy, Cody, offered to print me up a few. I was skeptical, as I thought the resulting model would look like trash. I had seen his own 3D prints before, and while frankly amazing, it was primarily bits for his 40k army to lend flavour, nothing on this scale. But, it was for terrain, so I decided I didn’t care if they didn’t turn out perfect; after all, I’d be covering the thing in rust, mud, moss, and other detritus.

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Damn, that looks good? What is this?

After a while, he sent me an in-progress picture, shown above. I was astonished, this looked considerably better then I imagined. Especially since we had decided to scale up a 15mm print to 28mm. The details, gun barrel, and vents especially, came out sharp and extremely detailed. Sure, it wouldn’t hold a candle to a dedicated 28mm model such as what Empress offers, but it was still incredible!

(for reference, this is the file we used: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4062110, go check it out! Thank you, Ollie1269! )

It took several weeks for Cody to make his way up from the City to come over to the Clubhouse, where we have a limit of ten people currently at a time. Finally, we did meet up, and I took possession of two great looking BTR-70’s!

They weren’t perfect of course, but honestly? They still looked far and away better then I thought. And the cost, as I had paid for the resin used as a courtesy, was minimal. I was looking at a much higher budget for one, and instead got two, with plenty of change to spare. Now the usual scale for Zona Alfa is roughly considered anywhere from 1/56th to 1/43rd for vehicles, so these are a little smaller then you might expect. But on the consumer-friendly printer Cody has, we couldn’t go much bigger!

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Here, shown in scale with three Lead Adventures miniatures. These BTR’s will look even better with my smaller Eureka sculpts. This is still a very reasonable size!

While Cody was in the City, I asked him to buy me a couple cans of Vallejo Spray, one color being Russian 4BO. I wanted to get these primed quickly to see how they would look, and I rushed to do so. After all, I had a game lined up for Zona Alfa and these would be far better then the Sherman hull I had used previously.

This color worked great! It filled in the very small print lines, and left models with a very smooth, almost store bought quality, finish. Suitably dressed up with some moss, and thrown unto a table, they turned our Citadel Realm of Battle table into the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone quite effectively!

The game we played was fun, fast, and violent. As we are testing the waters and rules before going in deep for a campaign, this was a one-off game, and all sides were therefore incredibly reckless and trigger-happy, something I don’t anticipate will continue once we start for real.

All in all, we are quite happy with the game! One of us with an FDM printer is printing a full Soviet Bunker complex from Black Site Studios, a process he believes will take a couple weeks. https://blacksitestudio.com/bunker-16, if your curious. It’ll be a great set-piece for our final campaign excursion.

This whole thing has also convinced me to purchase my own Phrozen Sonic Mini, and quite luckily a supplier in Taiwan was having a screaming deal, and I managed to get it at a decent price. It arrives tomorrow! It’ll be a learning curve, but being able to print some terrain and bits for all my games will be nice. And tanks, a lot of tanks. Frankly an unneeded amount of tanks. So. Many. Tanks.

Of course, as you may see, there are three BTR’s in the above picture. Not everything goes perfectly each time when you print something. And the third BTR…well it suffered a bit of damage.

The nose of this BTR has warped and broken off a bit. Again though, this minor issue was easily overlooked for the purposes of making terrain, especially Zone terrain. Something clearly sliced through this with a massive claw, or it drove into a temporal anomaly. It’s easy to imagine a scenario where this could happen!

These miss-prints are sort of a learning error, and in this case it was because it was a new resin to Cody and he hadn’t worked out the kinks yet. His other two are practically perfect, for the purposes I’m using them for at least.

I’m quite excited to get my printer, learning mistakes be damned. I found quite a few Patreon’s, Zona Alfa related or otherwise, and I’ll be doing prints from them as soon as I can. You will still see lots of classic, metal miniatures on this blog, I simply love them too much.

But the times, they are a changin! I’m going to be trying this new part of the Hobby, with gusto! I really think this will disrupt the industry, in both good and bad ways, and with easily available, and affordable, 3D printers now commonplace, will we see the demise of certain parts of the hobby?

But, to leave you on a happy note, I will continue to document my progress in the Zone, fellow STALKERS. For now, Happy War-gaming, wherever you might be! Have a great day!

 

Zona Alfa: Preparing for a Zone Excursion!

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Ah, another radiation fueled sunrise.

I said come in! Don’t stand there!

Okay, now that I got that out of my system, welcome back! In my last post, I expressed frustration that I didn’t have much to write about since, well, nothing had arrived for my current passion project, Zona Alfa. Well, as the saying goes, good things come to those who wait, and I got the rest of my needed models to play Zona Alfa in two days of package delivery goodness. A village from Sarissa Precision, their Russian one to be specific. I had also ordered a bunch of Lead Adventure miniatures, and this had turned out to be quite a laborious task.

You see, Lead Adventures, because of Deutsche Post having issues shipping to North America and elsewhere, currently only ship to the UK and the EU. Luckily, I have family in the United Kingdom, and I had an order ship to them, and them to me. This combined with a prior order from Magister Militum in the UK, would give me the bulk of my Pripyat Stalkers. The latter order was split in half, since they didn’t have all of what I ordered…

All three orders shipped weeks apart. They all arrived almost together, in a span of two days. Honestly, it was kind of awesome.

This first batch is particularly ragtag. They would not be out of place in Metro 2033, a distinctly post-apocalyptic experience. As I’ve said before, STALKER, and in turn, Zona Alfa, is not inherently post-apocalyptic, since it is both localized and people come of their own free will to the Zone.

However, these models still fit in perfectly; They look like a bunch of unaffiliated individuals, perfect for an Independent team. I will focus on painting these as individuals, with no real unifying theme other then being very, very grubby. I’ll point out my favorite of the bunch, and talk about why I like this one so much.

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“They say the Zone is a harsh mistress. That implies that you had any control in the first place, tovarishch. The Zone simply is.”

This model is simply perfect, at least in my very personal definition of what that is. A rugged, veteran Stalker who has clearly been around the block (or Reactor, as it were), and I can see him leading teams of Cordon-fresh rookies to their demise. The model itself tells a story quite well, and is full of character. The trench-coat and well-maintained rifle, a sturdy gas-mask and pouches full of goodies. This guy is simply cool, and probably why I bought the whole set.

On the other hand, these guys are far more equipped. I would hesitate to call them military, but that in-game distinction for Zona Alfa probably fits them the best. To use a faction from the STALKER games, they look a lot like Duty, the paramilitary group dedicated to eradicating the Zone and its various dangers.

With not quite uniform equipment, but with a heavy Russian/Ukrainian military influence, these guys feel like trained soldiers. I particularly like the the two Stalkers with AS VAL assault rifles, larger-bore integrally suppressed weapons that pack a mean punch over short distances.

I really like these guys, and I’m looking forward to using them as a more elite team.

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“Deadly anomalies, dangerous mutants, anarchists and bandits… None of them will stop Duty on its triumphant march towards saving the planet!” –Duty Propaganda

Of course, these are some very “old school” models. Chunky, with large weapons, hands, feet, etc. I actually love models like these, as I find they take washes well, and look great once painted. But they are definitely not for everyone; Anyone looking for more “realistic” models will probably be happy with other miniatures.

I believe these are hand-sculpted, which also is a very traditional style. Modern models are quite often designed in CAD and 3D-printed to produce a master, from which are made either resin models or plastic sprues. Models of this type are getting more and more rare, with most being older lines or in this case, specifically made to fill this niche.

I do in fact like both styles, and I only care about consistency for models within a team, not across the collection, so there is a little bit of room across the board for any style of models in my Zone.

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Scale Comparison! From Left to Right: Spectre Miniatures, Lead Adventures, Eureka Miniatures. Even with the base on the Spectre guy being shorter, he is still quite tall! This Eureka miniature is one of their newer ones, and as such holds up pretty well scale wise, their older line up of NBC suited soldiers are quite a bit smaller.

Like you can see in the above picture, my collection is quite eclectic! But none of these guys will rub shoulders in the same camp, only venturing to fight the Zone or each other, and in that case, it won’t matter overly match if they don’t match.

Now I do have a marked preference for metal miniatures; I like their heft, and the fact that they remain stupidly easy to strip of paint if I mess up. Playing a 2000 point metal Imperial Guard army in 40k has set me up for working with this materiel quite well. But it does require a bit of work.

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Going for a swim! Unfortunately, Dawn Dish Detergent will not remove horrible radiation burns.

I soak all the models for a few minutes in soapy water, then scrub them with a toothbrush. Then I rinse them in a new source of soap-free water, then take them out to air-dry. It doesn’t take long, and on some manufacturers it isn’t essential, but I find it greatly increases the strength of the base-coat’s adhesion to the model. If your going to paint them, you might as well give them the best possible start!

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Looking clean, and ready for some paint!

Now, I’ve got a lot of work to do, getting crews painted, terrain assembled and painted, and various other tasks. However, this won’t prevent me from getting my first game of Zona Alfa in tomorrow! After all this build-up, I’m really excited to get an idea of what the game plays like.

We have a lot of terrain at our communal clubhouse, and with local conditions being favorable to cautious social-distancing gaming, it should give me a good idea of what else I need play a full-scale campaign. I’ll be using a basic, low threat first mission, and I can start tweaking things to my preference as I go. There is a bit of local interest in the game, and I’m hoping to have it take off a bit!

Now the rest of this article has substantially less pictures…so bear with me, or tune it if you’d like, I won’t hold it against you!

My last post about Zona Alfa on this blog, was, frankly, an outrageous success. I got a really warm welcome over on the official Facebook group, so if any of you are coming from there, thanks gents! You guys rock!

Now in terms of my eventual Canadian Zone expansion, I’m still waiting on a company here in Canada to ship me my 28mm Canadian Military models. They are a small, one man operation, so they tend to take a bit of time. But to fill that specific niche is worth it. As well, while most of the monsters will carry over, I do want some local, specific nastiness. Some guys had some great ideas over on the Facebook page, and I’m going to use some for sure!

Mutated Raccoons may be a thing…(side note, I hate the damn things. I used to work behind the scenes removing them from places they shouldn’t be at an amusement park, and that cute factor is a lie!), as well as some bears, coyotes, and the occasional Listowel redneck who had a bit too much radioactive moonshine. It is kinda fun to do local research for a game, and my friends here like the idea, despite how dark a subject matter it can be.

I’m leaning toward a more “free” zone, with the Canadian government selling licenses to harvest materiel from the Zone, and a healthy black-market in weapons cropping up around it. We do share a border with the United States after all! The “hook” as it were, in this case, is the fact that Cobalt-60, a rare resource, is actually produced quite a bit in the reactors near me, and the “medical gold rush” of cancer-defeating artefacts produced by this Zone draw a wide array of Stalkers. Your average Canadian Stalker is a far-cry from a dour, sombre Stalker from Pripyat though! Medically aligned Stalkers from major pharmaceutical companies will be my specific neat thing for this Zone.

Finally, while it may be a while before I get to Canada in the campaign, quite conveniently from a recent history stand-point, is the deployment of the Canadian Army in a training capacity to the Ukraine. It won’t take much of a jump in logic for a few, special operations trained soldiers, to venture into the original Zone for some training of their own, with the backing of the local Government. Perhaps paving the way for a future Canadian Army Stalker detachment?

Now, today’s article was focused on old school, metal models. But the way of the future is far different, and I am now the proud owner of a resin 3D Printer! (Or will be, once it arrives…) I am going to use it for producing a lot of cool monsters, smaller terrain, and yep, Stalkers! And that is just for this specific game. But not even that will truly diminish my love of the older style, hand-sculpted models of yesteryear. Raise a glass, if you will, to the old breed! But I will be featuring some 3D printed stuff in the very near future, since a friend of mine has printed some stuff for me to use in this game, that will add a certain Post-Soviet feel to my Exclusion Zone.

But, until next time, Happy War-gaming, wherever you are! For such is life in the Zone.

 

Waiting: The Hard Part of Pandemic Hobbying…

Waiting. It is never really the fun part of our hobby. Waiting for washes to dry, waiting for stuff in Post. Waiting for that base-coat to finish so you can, finally, crack on.

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When I’m not distracted by Doggo. Yes, that is a horse toy. She kept losing the smaller dog sized balls in the bushes.

In this lovely, hot, Canadian summer I find myself in, I’m doing a lot of waiting. Honestly, it makes for awful content; I have little to show for it, as much of what I had in the wings primed, ready to go, I’m simply not interested in painting! And on the hobby front, I really want to start on Zona Alfa.

But, as I imagine it is worldwide, mail has slowed considerably. I don’t blame my local Posties; They are fantastic people, and once it actually gets to here, I get my stuff promptly. But I have a lot I want to write about, and unfortunately, it just isn’t here!

I can hear you now “Mate, go paint. under-coat something.” Herein lies the next problem. Unlike my Australian friends down under, I am unused to scary insects. And we have several nests of Wasps, and they sneak in every-time a door is opened. We take care of one nest, and several more crop up. So, until they decide to piss off, my family and I tend to not go out much, and staying outside longer then I have to with Sir Stings a Lot and his merry buzzing men about, I tend to avoid. So no mass-undercoating either!

I miss winter…

But all is not lost! I did get something neat done, and I can talk to you fine fellows about what is coming!

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“Do I have to go up, again?”

This is a Forge World Thunderbolt Pilot. He was available in 2007 at Games Day, and of course, I wasn’t there. Someone who was decided to part with it on eBay, and after deciding it looked legitimate enough, I pulled the trigger.

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He’s quite a character! Quite a lot of detail on this model, it is a fantastic sculpt.

He sat, languishing in my collection for years. I was simply terrified to mess up a rare model, especially one that is resin, as that is a notoriously difficult medium to strip. But after getting well and truly sick of trying to paint Space Marines, I used him as a palette cleanser. I was also inspired by the “spirit of the blitz” attitude of Vera Lynn, and cued up Cliffs of Dover and There Will Always be An England. She sadly died last week, and while I’m sure this means nothing to most, this is my tribute to her, and in turn, the RAF. I was tempted to go for 40k style, Phantine colors. But in the end, inspired by the Royal Air Force flight uniform of the early 40’s (1940’s, not 40,000).

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The uniform I’m quite happy with; It was a simple matter of shading in the correct hue for each part of the model, something I don’t bother with on “mass” production models.

So this is my humble tribute to the late Vera Lynn, in my own way. I have a Bilbo Baggins in the wings to pay homage to the late Ian Holm, so watch this space!

Of course, because I can’t stay on track for long….my buddy did it again. Seriously, I should leave his stuff on “read” sometimes. He asked if I was interested in war-gaming the Spanish Civil War.

It took me by surprise, as this was one setting I never thought I’d get the chance to do. But I knew that his heart wouldn’t be in that setting for long. So I counter-suggested.

“What about The Very British Civil War?”

This is a setting close to my heart. I had followed it for years, but knew, deep down, that there simply wasn’t a community to play it here in Canada. But, he did some digging, and really liked it! I was in! We will be using seriously adapted Bolt Action rules, for ease of using something we know!

Now, I don’t want to rouse the copyright gods, despite my gut-feeling that the lads behind the setting wouldn’t care, so you’ll have to wait until I get some models and books of my own to truly cover it. Suffice to say, he is playing the plucky “Middle England” Anglican League, and their allies in Canada, the Albertine’s, wanting to put Prince Albert on the throne.

Meanwhile, as is my custom, I’m playing the “bad” guys, the British Union of Fascists (those jackbooted jerks!) and King Edward’s loyalists in the Army. I’ve put in an order from Gripping Beast for a significant force of Territorial Army Royalists, using the Woodbine Design Company WW1 British, a model line I’ve been keenly interested in for years. This will be followed up by an order from Footsore Miniatures, of “BUF” troops, to represent His Majesty’s unsavory and backstabbing allies. My buddy will be fielding a force of Warlord and Footsore miniatures, to represent regular Canadian Army and Local Defense Volunteer’s. 3D printed tanks, something I’ll show off soon, will round out our band of modern day Cavaliers and Round-heads!

Of course…this means yet more waiting! I never learn, do I!

I do apologize for the lack of content; My next article will hopefully, Canada Post willing, have more substance! But in the mean-time, Happy War-Gaming, wherever you are!

 

 

A Blogging Update: What I’ve been up to!

Hello there! Lately, I’ve gained through either blind luck and timing or sheer serendipity a staggering amount of views lately. I’ve even finally broken the ten subscriber wall, and honestly? It is really nice! I never intend to make money off this blog, or to publish anything I have zero interest in.

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I’ve heard of a global audience, but this was crazy to see! Thank you everyone! Sweden, I don’t know what I did but I promise to buy more Ikea.

This was actually a blog I “started” in college for my Print(Oh, yeah, that didn’t exactly work out) Journalism diploma. After realizing that career path didn’t have long term legs, I scrapped it. However, some of the writing and interviewing(more on that later) skills I learned I didn’t want to lose, and a couple of years ago I decided to start this blog again. And it will remain a space for me to post my own, personal projects.

However, last year I was asked to help write for a venture my local Clubhouse had started, a website and multi-media project called Badly Painted Minis. This I was happy to do, and I was initially brought as pretty much a writing guy; I post the things, maybe cross post from here occasionally, and basically help add content. It took a lot of time to launch, and it did so a few weeks ago.

However, I now find myself as pretty much the head website guy, based primarily around my knowledge, however limited it may be, of the WordPress platform. I’m also the Editor, a grandiose title that means effectively herding several nerds around to write things I think may work; They are worse then cats!

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Daisy would know. She’s a cat.

Of course, I say that affectionately. The Badly Painted Minis team are a great bunch of folks, and we are all gunning to make it succeed in the ways we know how; We have as well a Podcast Team and a Battle Report Team. We are all just a bunch of crazy nerds with delusions of grandeur, a spring in our step, and stars in our eyes.

What does this mean for this site? Let’s get this out of the way. Absolutely nothing will change, I will post here whenever I want, and while I might occasionally cross-post an article from here to the Badly Painted Minis site, it won’t be done all the time. My focus here is on what I personally find fun; Games that may not be Clubhouse staples, or are games I play in the Big City with my group of friends there. I also like to wax philosophical on a lot of stuff mainline audiences will be bored to tears over. And I want to maintain that creative safe-space.

So for those of you who like my content, feel free to check out my content over at my other hangout, https://badlypaintedminis.ca.

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I absolutely did not draw this. I can craft a sentence, not a work of art. For more of that, come visit the other site!

Of course, you don’t have to. This isn’t meant to be entirely a shill for the other site (It, of course, is, but hey) but merely to let you know that you can find more of my nonsensical ramblings elsewhere on the world wide web. There are also other writers, and tutorials, and even Fanfiction to peruse at your leisure. If you choose to instead stay here? No worries, pull out your pipe, fine Virginia leaf and a good scotch and I will aim to keep you entertained.

I will keep to my schedule of posting whenever the mood strikes me, as scattershot as a hunter’s shotgun.

Now, I did mention I had interview experience? I decided last week to give that a try again, and last Sunday I conducted an interview with “Uncle” Atom of Tabletop Minions(apparently he is not actually an Uncle, the scoundrel!) We talked about how he got into the hobby, skirmish war-gaming, and how the industry might evolve given the global pandemic. Oh, and I ask him about the Fez. That’s important.

As you guys are fans of this page, I felt the need to give you a heads-up. It goes live at 12:00pm Eastern Standard Time, today, on Badly Painted Minis. It is in Podcast format, runs for about an hour, and went reasonably well as one could expect a relative amateur to do; I have much to learn.

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Hear that Yuri? Someone thinks they are getting pretty important. Better send him to clear Anomalies with his face, right Comrade?

The last few months have been a roller coaster; I’ve been a lot more active on Facebook, doing self promotion, something I hesitated to do in the past. However, my primary aim remains the same; I simply want people to read my ramblings, so that I am engaging in conversations, not yelling at the clouds, be they as interesting as they may. I’ve talked to some cool people on Facebook, getting over my anxiety of talking to people online.

There will be more Zona Alfa, Team Yankee, 40k and more on the way, all on this site. I’d like to thank anyone who has stuck with me so far, all the new folks I’ve picked up in recent weeks, and those who just now found this page somehow through the wonders of the internet. I promise you that just because I write in two places now, that the content here will not suffer for it.

I hope to see you on the other site and here as well, and for now, Happy War-gaming wherever in the world you might be! The best is yet to come!

 

 

 

 

 

A Good Day for a Roadside Picnic: Getting started with Zona Alfa!

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Oh no, not another game. I swear these things just keep showing up.

As usual, it all started with the same question: “hey, you ever heard of Zona Alfa?” I hadn’t, so I did a bit of digging, and found a game that can be summed up fairly easily as ‘Frostgrave with Kalashnikov’s’. This was, in fact, a major selling point, and after spending my hard earned rubles on a PDF copy from Osprey, I purchased a physical copy from Amazon. It took a long time to get to me, given current circumstances, but that was okay, I could wait.

A browse of the PDF copy and the Facebook page Stalker7 by the author of the game showed a game I could very much enjoy, and even play solo if so desired. So I did what I usually do, jumped in with both feet.

Before I go any further, I’d like to express my delight at how lovely this book is. It is well laid out, like all the Osprey Blue Book games. But the artwork is phenomenal, the lore snippets interesting and mysterious, and the overall ‘tone’ matches very well with the video games, movie, and novel that inspired it. It can’t reach out and flat out tell you, outside of the introduction at the beginning, but it wears it’s inspirations on its sleeve, and is all the better for it.

The game takes a lot from S.T.A.L.K.E.R, the popular game series by GSC Game World in the Ukraine, which in turn took a lot of inspiration from Roadside Picnic and the movie Stalker which came after. Zona Alfa is more of a homage, but it isn’t shy about making it known where its ideas came from.

An interesting point to make here; There has been many Post-Apocalypse tabletop games in recent history. To name them all would take time, and to save you that hassle, I can say this; Those games wear their inspirations on their sleeves as well, but they are based off Western Post-Apocalypse ‘tropes’, and this comes across in how they play and how they depict the world they are trying to show. Zona Alfa, despite being a western production, by the simple fact it is delving into the Eastern European take on the topic, takes an entirely different approach.

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Stalker, the movie that is, is a great example of what I’m about to go into.

The Post-Soviet bloc tends to have a much bleaker approach to the whole topic, combined with a mystical angle. One could argue it is more ‘realistic’, but I’d say it is more of a ‘dog eat dog’, post-Soviet existentialist take on the topic, and a more bitter, brutal and unhappy world. There are no grand victories in Roadside Picnic, STALKER, or Metro, just small ones that let you live another day. Fallout in it’s current depiction is more optimistic, a totally different feel. Mad Max is bleak, but also leans into the ‘weird’, leather and football pad aesthetic. Media from the post-soviet bloc just doesn’t seem to do that, instead it is more rooted in what we know, specifically the soviet experience.

Weirder still, is that Zona Alfa isn’t truly post-apocalyptic! The world, in general, is absolutely fine out side of the titular ‘Zone’ this all takes place in. Outside of criminals forced to hide in the Zone, locals who never left, and the poor Military grunts guarding it, everyone involved is here out of their own volition. They have chosen, for whatever reason, to make a name for themselves running artifacts and mutant parts out of the Zone for profit, science, or whatever reason.

Then there is the giant, reactor 4 sized ‘elephants foot’ in the room. Roadside Picnic takes place in a undefined location (widely assumed, and I believe as well, to be Canada), and Stalker (the movie) moved it to the Soviet Union. Then Chernobyl, the actual real life event, happened in 1986, after both of these pieces of media came out. The Zone was suddenly real.

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The remains of Reactor Building 4.

Let me be perfectly clear here; the actual event was horrid. We should look at it with a certain amount of reverence, and anything I mention after this should take that into account.

The Zone, being called what is was, was almost immediate fuel for conspiracy nuts and fiction authors alike. Chernobyl was the buzz-word to use in your fiction to be serious about nuclear-power. But for the Kiev based GSC Game World staff, many who had been alive when it happened, it was a personal thing, and they used that. When they made Shadow of Chernobyl in 2007, it was an buggy, messy, masterpiece. The tale it told balanced the pieces needed to tell a compelling, terrifying story of Soviet science going horribly wrong. It became in short order a cult-classic, and in writing this post I made sure to go and actually play it, despite my absolute terror at playing any survival horror game. Don’t say I don’t do anything for my craft! Anomalies from Roadside Picnic and dangerous mutants were added to a ‘second disaster’ exclusion zone around Chernobyl, and it is a terrifying, compelling experience that doesn’t easily leave you.

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This is a heavily modded version of Stalker. But the atmosphere has never changed. This is the aftermath of an Emission, a blowout from Reactor 4 of some sort of weird psychic energy.

Zona Alfa was born from this fandom, as many of us on the tabletop front have waited for years for a game to ‘nail’ that feel. The game doesn’t tell us directly where the ‘Zone’ is, but the references to the Sarcophagus and stuff in the lore snippets make it very clear where the game takes place. Patrick Todoroff, the author, does however encourage you to relocate the zone to wherever you want. And in time, I will, which I will get into later.

The game features anomalies, throwing bolts at said hotspots, mutants, bandits, radiation as a background element that shortens the amount of time in certain scenarios. Your crew of Stalkers can be outfitted with gear not too dissimilar to that from the video game, and while there are no ‘official’ miniatures, Lead Adventures in Germany makes probably the coolest looking ones. As of time of writing, they are not shipping to Canada, so I’ve got an order heading to family in the UK to eventually come here. Good things come to those who wait.

I haven’t had a chance to play; Covid and current events in the United States have understandably slowed shipping, so not everything I need to play is here yet, even in solo. But I can show off what miniatures I am using. Eureka Miniatures does an excellent, spooky but realistic line of 1980’s Soviets in NBC gear, and I have more then I can possibly use right off the bat now that my order of twenty models has arrived.

 

These guys look really, really cool. The tank crew are based off a movie called ‘The Beast’, and look really neat. The rest are in full NBC kit, and wouldn’t look out of place as Chernobyl liquidators. My favorite model is the guy carrying the dosimeter/geiger counter. Of course, they need something to fight, and luckily the market for cheap monsters has never been more varied with plastic, pre-primed models from a variety of sources.

 

The humanoid creature, called a doppelgänger, is a particularly terrifying model, and I’m going to stat it as having mimetic camouflage. The two-headed dog is pretty western post-apocalypse in look, but they look neat.  The rat swarms will make for excellent vermin swarms, and I like that they aren’t just large rats, just a lot of angry regular sized ones.

The zombies and ghouls I’ve sourced from Zombicide, as it was pointed out to me that the size works. I went for the ‘Angry’ zombies wearing prison jumpsuits, as I think I can get away with painting them in Soviet/Russian/Ukrainian prison uniforms and they would work, unlike the regular zombies which are very, very western.

Going forward, I have primed the Soviet Tank Crew to get back into the painting grove, and because I had tan Vallejo spray primer. I have a backstory planned for them, and while they are outrageously well equipped, I want to get the rest undercoated so I have less well equipped guys to throw into anomalies. I’m hoping to get a spray in grey or light greenish blue to do the rest of the NBC troops, based off Osprey reference books about the Soviet chemical troops.

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Might need a respray to get coverage to survive handling until I hit it with varnish when I’m done.

Now my plans going forward with this game? Obviously, as with many others, I really want to do the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. It is famous, well researched, and the Stalker games have made it too cool to ignore. I have purchased a 28mm Russian Village from Sarissa Precision to start off the less dangerous parts of the zone. I’m planning on getting some ruined vehicles and BTRs to throw into maps for ambience.

But Roadside Picnic….as a Canadian, I want to bring the Zone ‘home’. And after watching Chernobyl from HBO, I got curious about nuclear power. And, while I knew the Nuclear Plant near me was big, I didn’t realize just how big…

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Bruce Power, in Kincardine Ontario, Canada. About 45 km away from me. 8 reactors, and was until very recently the biggest in the world in output.

Now I’m actually a nuclear power advocate, and the scenario I have in mind is almost impossible, and only in our darkest dreams could it ever happen. But for fiction purposes, it is a fun mind exercise.

I’m talking a Canadian Zone, a level 7 nuclear accident combined with the weird psychic angle from the STALKER games. In the campaign I want to run with one group (I’m in two potentially, and one is staying in Chernobyl only), the events of the player group in the original Chernobyl Zone would cause a global event, a ‘blip’. During this blip, people don’t remember 10 minutes of their lives, a collective memory gap. Some reactors around the world suffer massive, intentional, internally caused damage. Bruce Power would be among them, and a massive, 50km exclusion zone in my own backyard is both a terrifying and compelling idea. Roadside Picnic will have come home. How would Canadian ‘Stalkers’ differ from their Russian/Ukrainian counter-parts? I have no idea, but I intend to explore that.

But all in good time! For now, I hope you all enjoyed my ramblings into Zona Alfa, and hope you stick around to see where this goes. In the mean time, Happy War-gaming, wherever you are, for such is life in the Zone. Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

They Came from a Land Down Under: Lost Anzacs in Team Yankee!

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“Waltzing Matilda….”

Hello there! I did say I would reveal my next Team Yankee project on April 25th, and as you may have guessed from the Free Nations book, and the date, its the Anzacs!

Wait, what?

Yeah, that was my reaction too, upon finding out that the Kiwis and Aussies were in the game! It was a pleasant surprise, as I quite like the countries in question, and actually have a small connection to Australia myself. But what are they even doing in West Germany in 1985?

 

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Yeah Sam, I think our Anzac friends might agree with you there!

Well, there are two reasons. The first is the one the book gives us; The Australians and New Zealanders were invited by the British to a military exercise taking place in June 1985, and upon finishing it, were committed by their parent governments to stay, in case of hostilities with the Warsaw Pact. This isn’t entirely without precedent; Exercise Lionheart in 1984 in our real timeline had exchange officers from both nations embedded in it. A full brigade of troops is fanciful, but amusing, and one must remember it IS a game at the end of the day.

The second reason is much, much simpler. Battlefront Games is from New Zealand. They wanted their own country in it. That is entirely fair! Can’t say I’d do much different, in their place.

As for why I’m playing them, it came down to again, two reasons. Firstly, my friend and I always like to have two armies for a system, and he wanted to play Canada. As we are both Canadians, I will admit to being a little sad. But I got Australia instead, and man, am I happy about that!

Secondly, my own family history is amusingly on point here. We come from Anglo-Pakistani stock, and when it came time for my, well, large family to leave the home country, we chose two destinations. It is incredibly amusing, and the source of many jokes, that we chose almost literally the two farthest places in the world to settle apart from each other! Half went to Australia, the other Canada. We remain close, and as a kid I used to relish the visits of my odd speaking cousins.

As a child, I researched their military history almost as much as my own adopted country. The Battle of Gallipoli hold a place in my heart as much as Vimy Ridge. And who could forget Kapyong, where the Royal Australian Regiment and the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry both won a Presidential Unit Citation from the United States for holding a vital pass? A classic tale of Commonwealth brotherhood. The Royal New Zealand Artillery was there too, and they shouldn’t be forgotten either!

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3rd RAR, looking fine in their Slouch Hats! Canada had the adjacent hill, and fought just as hard.

As you can probably tell, I was pretty excited to get started on this project. I’m still stuck on priming miniatures, as much of this was purchased while it was still too cold to prime, and that issue still continues. For now, I’ll just show off what I have.

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An officer from the Royal Australian Regiment. He’s a model reused from Battlefronts Nam game, and honestly the kit used in Vietnam remained much the same as in the 80’s. He’s got an M16, a Giggle Hat, and a map, which in the hands of the junior officer here, is probably his most lethal weapon(to his own side!)

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The first major deviation from the Nam range lies in the choice of platoon Anti-Tank weapon. This digger is armed with a Carl Gustaf, a fairly nasty anti-tank recoilless rifle.

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The anti-tank guided missile option for the Australians is the Milan. In real life, these were fairly scarce, but in Team Yankee they were given a large amount to help the cause. These are a nasty choice in the game, but are also my only really strong AT option.

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A hilariously mad-max concept, but not one unique to Australia, was mounting a 105mm recoilless rifle on a jeep/land rover. The Australians used theirs in Vietnam. In Team Yankee, they have a good role as a unit to hold in Ambush, allowing their weapons to be trained on the side armor of enemy vehicles.

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In service, the soldiers using this equipment commonly went on to have serious hearing loss!

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Adopted in 1976, the Leopard AS1 is the Australian variant of the venerable Leopard 1 Main Battle Tank. The Australians trialed both the M60 and the Leopard, and chose the latter. Agile but thinly armoured, these can fire well on the move, but get punished severely for being hit.

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During the Leopard 1’s development, the Germans believed that HEAT ammunition made armour fairly useless, and focused primarily on speed and armament. Developments in armour eventually overtook this thinking, leaving the Leopard as an interesting period piece. Luckily, they never needed to test it in our timeline. In Team Yankee, this hot-rod only has a front armor of 9, abysmally low.

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All these criticisms don’t matter to me for two reasons; It’s a very pretty tank! Secondly, you can take a great many of them for the points you usually pay for a typical NATO big-shot tank. You can’t out-horde Pact players, but you can advance at speed quickly, and take double the shots while doing so. Four countries in Team Yankee get the Leopard, and the Canadian/Australian ones have the “brutal” rule, allowing you to force enemy infantry to reroll successful saves, representing canister/splintex ammunition in use by the two countries.

All in all, my Anzac force is coming along. I still have two boxes of Leopard 1’s to build, giving me a total of eighteen in total! I still am waiting in the mail for another Mechanized Platoon, and I still need to order an insane amount of m113’s, a task made harder by the fact that Australia used the T50 turret, so I can’t just cannibalize other nations M113s. The Scorpions in my British list will probably be transferred to this list, to represent the New Zealand contribution to the war effort. They will be replaced in the British list by Foxes. I also require a Tracked Rapier troop; this gives my Anzac’s the serious anti-air option they require to be competitive, while also expanding the options available to the British list.

I’m quite pleased with the progress I’ve been making; the assembly line will continue tomorrow, churning out more tanks, and waiting for the weather to finally cooperate. Once this project is done, hopefully the shut-down will be over and I can get a game in, as believe it or not, I still haven’t tried out this out! If not, I will probably start on my Oil War forces, Syrians, mainly to fight my friends Israelis down the road. I also, on impulse, purchased two ADATS(an odd weapon platform adopted by the Canadian Army) Anti-Air platoons during Battlefronts daily deal, mostly because, c’mon I’m still Canadian at the end of the day. They’ll probably see use in my friends eventual army, but gives me an excuse to paint my own country’s armed forces.

Now, my friends gave me permission to post what they got done! So without further ado, lets have a peek!

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One Hundred points of German Steel. This is my friend, Chris’s work. Very heavy on the elite units.

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He also owns an airbrush; Meaning he actually got a start on painting! This is his Leopard 2, and is his first model in 15mm scale. Not a bad start my friend!

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My other friend, Ty, has less free time on his hands, doing important work at the moment. When he gets time, he is working on his Soviets. Firstly, we got here some BMP-2s!

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And here we got some T-64’s and some Geckos. The Tanks have mine-rollers, a neat ploy to prevent my MLRS minefield shenanigans!

And that’s all I got for today! Lots of painting in our collective future!

This was a fun post to write, and have one last aside to make. While it is certainly not a big deal for other parts of the world, I’d like to wish any Australians and New Zealanders visiting a good Anzac Day! It is a seriously important day for them, and while I may be half a world away, for at least a few hours, I’ll celebrate your achievements along with you. From Gallipoli to the Kokoda Trail, to Kapyong and Long Tan, may your soldiers be remembered as some of the finest in the world. Happy War-gaming Mates, wherever you might be! Stay Safe everyone!