Friday, 29 August 2014

Building your Apocalypse (4) Impudent Mortal

Last month I did reviews of some of the mdf buildings available to DZC players, or indeed anyone playing in 10-12mm.

I only had access to UK based companies, so covered Sally 4th , Blotz , and Eleven Tree Designs . In passing I was talking to Leon from Minibits who sell Impudent Mortal 28mm mdf buildings imported from the USA. IM make 10mm buildings suitable for DZC too link, so I asked if he planned to stock them. He wasn't certain, but said he would get a couple for me to review next time they were placing an order.

I had pretty much forgot about this until a parcel arrived yesterday - Leon was as always good to his word (sound chap) and sent two model buildings for review.

Interestingly these were already detached from the sprue similar to those from ETD. They were shrink wrapped to keep everything together, which seems to add some protection although there were no fragile parts to break.  Components are clean and accurately cut and details are finely etched. There are no instructions but as they are simple designs this isn't an issue. IM dont try to add layers or external details unlike the other three manufacturers already looked at, which makes them easy to build but a little plain.

First up is the Level 3 Futuristic Ruined building.

5 parts - 4 walls and a roof, and it went together without any fuss. Like all the other mdf buildings it is comparable in size to the Hawk models, in this case one of the small sized 3x2 buildings. As you can see it is badly beaten up but still has plenty of roof space to place your infantry stands so is a nice change to an undamaged building but still functions in game - a nice touch. Detailing is very fine and may not show up at first glance, but it is there.

Next the Level 4 Modern building.

A much larger 4x3 footprint made up of 15 parts, however 10 of these are the two rooftop extensions. Assembly was simple and quick, and the end result quite nice. The round windows make an interesting change to the Art Deco theme. There is a problem with the doors, which are etched details, but they don't seem very visible and may need a bit of work when painting, or better yet adding something to give them relief.

Overall these are very nice additions to your tabletop. I suspect they would be greatly improved if there was some raised detailing - even a doorway. I can't comment on the price as yet, but as soon as I know I will post it up. (edit - Leon says due to shipping from the States etc the price would probably be a straight $=£ swap, so the ruin would be £15, the larger building £20. Thats probably cheaper than buying them direct and paying postage and import tax, but still makes them just a bit too much for what you are getting IMHO) Nice buildings but shipping makes them expensive.

(edit again) "Fantasy \ Sci Fi Tax" seems to be evident with the IM pricing if you compare the $20 price tag for this 10mm building with the same $20 you pay for the stunningly detailed IM 28mm Brick buildings  which are much better value. Of course I am totally ignorant of the factors that contribute to that price, and it may be justified, but at first glance it does seem either the 10mm sci fi is comparatively very expensive, or the 28mm historical is very good value.

Sunday, 24 August 2014


Terry, the nice man who likes my painting style and who through his commissions keeps my Road Tax paid (and therefore keeps our roads maintained) asked me to do some modern US Infantry to fight his Taliban types I painted earlier.

Terry have me a free hand on these, and I decided to try something a bit different and paint them in the new UCP digital camo, which looks a bit grey\green in pics. I thought it would be interesting and would help keep the figures distinct from the Brits he has, as well as being more portable to other theatres.

It was a bit hit and miss initially, but with a bit of trial and error I think I got through them OK, and am pretty happy with the results

The figures are from PeterPig, as are the Hummers.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

The best wargame I ever played by miles was...............

AK47 by Peter Pig

Not the "Reloaded" version currently available, but the old AK47 Republic.

I've been wargaming now since the late 1970s and have seen just about every possible combination of dice, tables, rules that claim they are innovative, revolutionary, ground breaking or unique. AK47 Republic managed to do a bit of all that, and managed, above all else, to be fun.

That is not to say they didn't have problems.

First and foremost was the "Elephant in the Room" in that they were covering a very touchy subject and could be seen as borderline racist. All wargames are in bad taste somewhere along the line - we get enjoyment and stimulation out of what is at root recreating the death and destruction of others. If there were a cable channel that simply showed people being shot and mutilated simply for the enjoyment of the audience I suspect anyone subscribing would (rightly) come to the attention of the Authorities, yet we all do it at one remove or other. Most of us are happy to either not think of it or rationalise it in some way - its just a game, its historical or whatever. AK47 was not just all that, but was also set in Africa and was about the horrible, bloody and sometimes seemingly depressingly pointless wars of liberation as Africans fought European Colonial masters, and each other. What is more, there is a distinct whiff of "Black & White Minstrels" about it. Black African troops tend to be classed as incompetent Militia, White Europeans as Regulars or Professionals. You are encouraged to create fictitious countries and faction names, possibly to add distance to the setting from the real thing, but even then that does seem just a little iffy,  Umbongoland may not exist, but there is still a faint taint of racism in creating a nation with such a silly name, and playing a game set in modern Africa when the Rwandan genocide was in the news was also a problem.

Added to that there was the production quality, which was, to say the least, not high. We had not quite reached the glossy full colour printing that most rules now have, but even in comparison to contemporary rules the layout was poor, the rules badly worded and contradictory, punctuation was sometimes optional and the diagrams were (badly) hand drawn affairs.

But it worked. Beautifully. Players represented faction each with their own army list which limited access to troops types, and each army had only 5 units, but each also had a Political Manoeuvre chart on which you could spend points, leaving players with a decision - do I buy "x" units or invest those points in some Politics?  The PM charts were very different depending on faction, and the returns on the investment in Politics could be fairly random or downright damaging. What was really fun and interesting was that the PM charts could affect both your troops and your opponents, and often in a big way, so an arms embargo could turn a motorised infantry unit into footsloggers as their trucks were removed, or the Cuban Ambassador could "accidentally" leave the keys to a couple of tanks when he visited.

Then there was deployment - you numbered your units 1-5 and rolled to see if they were actually available on the first turn - usually most were not. Then you rolled each turn to see if they did arrive, but sometimes they would appear from a different direction. It was chaos, and run against a countdown where at the end of each turn a d6 was rolled and the result deducted from the initial target, which usually gave about 6 -8 turns play.

The on table mechanics were deceptively simple - all the rules you needed fitted comfortably on 2 sides of A4- variable move distances, attacker rolled 2 dice plus mods based on weapons etc, defender rolled 1 and deducted. Doubles in combat resulted in special effects which could help or hinder, and morale was a simple dice roll based on class and circumstances, with the added complication that an opponent could force a second morale roll once per turn.  Nothing was certain.

That lack of certainty, the chaos of variable moves, armies that after PMs looked nothing like what you had expected, non arrivals, late arrivals from the wrong direction and random events all combined to make a perfect storm of a gaming experience, and probably the finest wargame I ever played. And great fun.

There were still some issues, mostly because players were demanding more toys - Helicopters, ATGWs etc, more troop types. PeterPig responded to supporters requests for an updated version with AK47 Reloaded. These addressed much of the layout issues bit sadly threw out much of the chaos in favour of some new game mechanics that, in my view, didn't manage to create the gaming synergy of the original, and were a massive disappointment.

On the plus side, the old AK47 is now available as a pdf from peterpig at

Do yourself a favour and buy them.

Technology Epic Fail

My beloved digital camera has got damaged - I suspect due to me being too casual with it - so posts will be delayed until a replacement is found or the original repaired

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Darkening Skies - Air Support is starting to make its presence felt in DZC

I was at a small Dropzone Commander competition yesterday at Waugh Games in Middlesbrough. It was a friendly and relaxed event at a nice venue, but something was different this time. The air over the battlefields was starting to get busy.

Don't get me wrong, the airspace over most DZC games is usually quite busy with medium dropships ferrying their tanks and APCs to hotspots, and light dropships darting around with assault squads seizing objectives.

What made this day a bit different was that above that, and for the first time in an event that I have been at, there was an additional layer of fighter and ground attacking Fast Movers (FMs). More than half the armies present brought FMs, and in some numbers, with Pairs of Athena's and in one case four Archangel Interceptors zipping around. Critically, everyone has started to take note. The results of battles are now being effected by FMs. I watched as a PHR army found itself incapable of extracting objectives because Triton light dropships which in the past had been carefully husbanded and kept in safety until they were needed were systematically hunted down and eliminated by interceptors. It lost, even though it had a fairly reasonable AA contingent and was holding its own on the ground because the Tritons had to leave the protection of the AA bubbles to do their job, and the Archangels then pounced. On another table an Athena delivered a game winning blow when it used one of  its cruise missiles to complete the collapse of a critical building full of enemy troops.

The only real protection against FMs is another FM, and I think that will be reflected next time we get together, which cannot be a bad thing. Combined with the arrival of Forward Air Controllers in the new Resistance book, I suspect the air above our DZC tables is going to get even more crowded in future.

So where is the pics of all this air delivered carnage? Sorry, I was a bit busy doing other stuff, but I did see what I thought was a true clash of Titans when THREE PHR Hades were shooting it out at close range

Friday, 15 August 2014

The Resistance Begins.........

The general level of expectation in the Dropzone Commander community has been rising recently as the release date for the new Resistance faction gets closer. Due for phased release from 30th August, this represents 2 new factions for the DZC universe - Allied & Feral Resistance.

I was lucky enough to get hold of a starter army early through being part of their Talon demo team. The models are exactly what DZC players have come to expect - highly detailed and very nice. Photos of the new models have been released via Hawk Wargames for the last month or so. What these have not shown is just how big some of the new models are in comparison to the other races.

So without further ado, here are some comparison shots of the Resistance compared to the current UCM equivalent units. I should add the models are straight from the box with no cleanup and no glue - any parts are just push fitted.

Firstly, the Resistance Jackson APC a UCM Bear

Initially I didn't like the Jackson, but now I have them "in hand" they're growing on me. They're smaller than the massive Bear, but have a smaller load capacity

Next, The Hannibal MBT, shown here alongside a Sabre.

One of the things that up to now has not really penetrated into my thoughts, even though it is mentioned several times in the background, is just how Spartan and mission specific the UCM vehicles are. They are designed to be compact, efficient and air portable. The Hannibal clearly isnt! In many ways it is a Heavy Tank, so here it is with the UCM Gladius

The final direct comparison is a Lifthawk Dropship and the UCM Condor

As with the Sabre, the Condor is lean, sparse and efficient, the Lifthawk is big and brash, and incidentally costs twice as many points as a Condor in game.

That leaves us with the Resistance use of civilian or re-tasked vehicles.

This is the Kraken hovercraft. It is a sort of updated Lebed or LCAC, and is used to carry the civilian vehicles such as Wagons and Technicals. I'm using the Condor as a comparison again, because there is nothing in the UCM stables that comes even close to the Kraken for function. I left the ramp off the Kraken for the pic.

Lastly, one of the Gun Wagons - basically a civilian truck with a remote control flak gun on the back, here compared to the Rapier AA tank.

So guess what is going to be my painting project for the next couple of weeks :-)

and God help us when this arrives - its 140mm long, slightly wider, and carries up to 24 Technicals or 12 Wagons!