Anyhoo, here are the first of the Astagar foot (sci-fi snakemen originally from CMG and now available from Ral Partha Europe): the mortar support weapons.
Nice figures that paint up well: I only wish my painting skills/patience were good enough to do them justice.
And, as a reminder, if anyone has any of the Astagar MBTs or SP Artillery that they don't want, do please get in contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I'll happily come to some arrangement to take them off your hands.
An interesting "light" army, better suited to raids and quick assaults than to a stand-up, toe-to-toe sustained fight. I wish now that I'd got the MBTs and SP Artillery models when the Kickstarter finished, as I can see me sorely needing these in the tabletop clashes to come.
So, if you have any Astagar MBTs and/or SP Artillery models that you don't want, preferably unpainted, but I don't really mind, then please contact me at email@example.com and I'm sure we can sort something out.
Incidentally, the Astagar list is the twenty-fourth now available for free for Q13. Plenty of AARs to read as well, and plenty of room for more AARs if you want to send them in...
Those who follow this blog regularly will know that I am currently building a 15mm Astagar army for Quadrant 13, the company-sized sci-fi wargame published by the TooFatLardies. The Astagar are a range of man-sized snakes originally from Critical Mass Games and now held by Ral Partha Europe.
Last time's post featured the six APCs needed to transport my two platoons of armoured infantry. Lovely models, but not very snake-y: they could have been from any vaguely humanoid race.
This post features the two types of, well, walker is the equivalent, although I'm not sure that "walker" is an appropriate term to use where the Astagar are concerned! These are most certainly snake-y enough to do the term justice.
First up is the Viperia Powered Armour i.e. battlesuits for our serpenty friends:
These are lovely models that paint up really well. They were painted the same way as the APCs: an undercoat of green, a bit of brown sprayed in random patterns, then a heavy drybrush to bring out all the detail. Finally, a nice gloss green for the visor/windshield.
The only pain is actually building the things. They come in five parts: tail/base; torso; two arms and the shoulder-mount. The arms and shoulder-mount go on okay (a mixture of superglue and PVA glue does the trick...although it can sometimes take a few goes to really get that concrete fix) but getting the torso to stick to the tail/base can be a little annoying. The torso isn't stand-alone (i.e. it doesn't balance upright) so you really do need to pin or support the join whilst the glue dries.
I say a pain, but it wasn't that difficult really.
Anyhow...how big are these, I hear you cry? Here's a quick comparison shot with a 15mm H-35 tank from Battlefront:
Next up are the Volos Assault Mecha: either a bigger battlesuit, or some kind of robot/android:
Exactly the same comments apply as for the Viperia, except magnified by the fact that these are bigger and heavier! Here's a size comparison with the same Battlefront tank:
Loving these two!
And, before I forget, there's several variants to all these: including this version pf the Viperia which I will use as an electronic warfare or communications Specialist.
So that's the support arm of the army done. Highly recommended, although the Volos aren't available from Ral Partha at the moment. I can't wait to get them onto the tabletop!
Critical Mass Games are, unfortunately, no more: their ranges having been absorbed into Ral Partha's offering. This has meant that whilst many of their infantry codes are still available, their vehicles are not...or at least not yet, Ral Partha assure us. At least their ranges are still available, even in part, as it would be a real shame for such an innovative series of ranges to die out completely.
One of the last things that CMG did before their demise was to run a Kickstarter campaign for their Astagar range: a range of sci-fi Snakemen-with-guns originally found as only a pack or two within their Mercenaries range but, such was their popularity, eventually promoted into a full Kickstarter project.
I backed the project to the tune of £173 and, in due course, received most of my order plus reward. Not all, which was annoying but, as I didn't immediately open the box and check everything, was as much my fault as anyone else's!
What I did receive, however, was excellent: six squads (eight each) of snake-y infantry; a couple of command figures; two support weapons; six snake-y battlesuits; one snake-y comms battlesuit; two huge snake-y walker-equivalents; and six APCs. Oh, and if you're interested, what I didn't receive were any AFVs or SP artillery, but...no matter.
These, as I said, have been sitting in an unopened box under the painting table until, bereft of anything to do now that the four Blitzkrieg in the West books are published, I decide to hack into the lead mountain and paint up an Astagar army.
I'm painting everything at the same time, so all units are on the way at once, but here's the first off the production line: the APCs.
Very nice, but not very snake-y!
Very nice, but not particularly snake-y, I hear you cry. Well, you're right, but the rest of the range more than makes up for that.
For those interested, I painted these very quickly: base coat green, then another base coat in brown in strips, wash, drybrush, done. They have, I think, come out pleasingly battered.
The original version
Some of you will note that these don't look exactly like the APCs featured in the original Kickstarter. You are correct: I tried the engines on the way they were designed, but they looked odd: a downwards-facing vent at the front. To my mind, the engines look better the wrong way round. That way you have a vertical vent at the front to take in the air, with a downwards-blower to pump it out as a jet at the back.
As they looked a bit plain, I've added a few spare decals, including some human-script numbers. Not right for Snakemen? Well, yes...but I'm claiming the numbers are superimposed by your targeting scanner! They also make the models look better and mean I can use them for more general purpose APCs rather than just Astagar-specific ones.
Some of you may wonder why so much of my own painting recently has been 15mm sci-fi rather than adding to my WW2 collection, the period I play most often.
Truth of the matter is, when I did a little add up on my lead mountain a year or so ago, I discovered that I had thirteen companies (yes, companies i.e. three platoons plus supports or around 100 figures) of different sci-fi figures lurking in the cupboard.
This seemed a bit excessive, even for me, so 2017 has been the year when I reduced that figure.
How am I doing? Well, so far I have painted the Xar, the Hura, the Tah-Sig, filled in the gaps in my Chuhuac, and added three platoons to my Dwarves i.e. have knocked five or so companies off the list.
That only leaves me with the Praesentia (ex Critical Mass), the Astagar (ex Critical Mass), the Foreign Legion (Khurasan), the Martians from AQOTMF (not sure now), the Alien Invasion aliens (Khurasan) plus assorted other platoons to add to my existing armies.
Here's the latest bit of sci-fi goodness to emerge from the painting table: Clear Horizon's hi grav space mercenaries or sci-fi dwarves to the rest of us.
Nice figures, plenty of character. Very dwarvish, but not very small (they tower above last week's Sons of Thunder from Rebel). And no separate platoon command figure, so I either buy another pack of eight and waste seven, or use a figure from someone else.
I'm still waiting for my twenty-two Polish 7TP tanks to arrive, so still picking at bits of the lead mountain to pass the time.
Today's offering is a couple of units that have been waiting for paint for some time. First up is the last of the Thrainites (space dwarves) from Khurasan: a squad of light mortar teams. Nice models that paint up well, but they are a slightly different size to the rest of the Thrainite figures. Not enough to stand out too much, but enough that I noticed!
Next up are more space dwarves, but this time from Rebel Miniatures. These are the two packs they have in their Sons of Thunder range: a basic infantry platoon, and then a smaller pack with some command figures and heavier weapons.
I mixed the two packs together and achieved three eight-dwarf squads, each with two Light Support Weapons, and a couple of Big Men. I even have five left over to man some kind of support weapon.
Now these figures are properly, dwarvishly small. Whereas Khurasan's Thrainites are easily approaching the normal height for a 15mm figure (and their command figure is more like 20mm), the Rebel Sons of Thunder are each only about a centimetre tall, if that. Seeing them in their sabot bases as in the photo, above, reminded me of playing with 10mm figures...but maybe that's exactly what space dwarves should look like. The clue is in the name!
Anyway, nice looking figures, just a shame the range isn't bigger.
Whilst I'm waiting for my company of 7TP tanks to arrive (well, I've actually ordered twenty-two of the things so that I can field a full jw company and a mixed jw/dw company!) I've been pottering around working on those odds and sods that always inhabit the outskirts of the painting table/lead mountain.
These are large construction walkers that come in three varieties: A, B and C:
A: a general purpose mecha with hands
B: a loader much like the exo-skeleton worn by Ripley to fight the alient queen at the end of Aliens
C: a site clearance version with chainsaw, flamer, and gripping hands options
The pictures on the GZG site (and the models I'd seen on their stand at shows) looked great, so all I had to do now was to build them.
Unlike a lot of mecha models, the GZG set come with one part per section of the body and limbs. So a leg consists of a toe, a heel, a shin, a thigh that connects to the hip piece. This allows you to pose and animate the mecha in a thousand different ways...but is, if I might say so, quite difficult to build. Emptying the little plastic bag that one mecha comes in literally gives you a pile of very similar one centimetre by one centimetre by one centimetre chunks of metal.
Worse, try as I might, I couldn't find any instructions on the GZG website. Only the helpful comment that "some modelling skills and experience of metal kit building are advised"! Well, as my East London friends would say, I should cocoa!
Yes, they are quite tricky to build...requiring superglue, accelerator spray (well, I use PVA glue as my accelerator!) and quite a lot of patience. That said, when I was working out how they went together (lots of reference to the pictures of the completed mecha on the GZG website required) I did manage to build one up to the hips and get it to stand up straight without using any glue, so when they do go together, they go together well.
Now that they are finished, however, I am very happy with them, very happy indeed. The pictures show the B and C variants with a Battlefront 15mm WW2 US infantryman as a size comparison.
As you can see, I painted mine in construction yellow with a brown wash and light dry-brush of GW's rust-colour from their Dry range. I then added warning patches on several of the flat panels. The windscreen I painted dark green, then scuffed with white. A couple of other bits of detail (lights and the spotlight) and done.
In all, I'm very happy with them. Tough to build, but they look good, and are ideal either for dressing a sci-fi battlefield or giving some of my militia/miners a bit of unexpected oomph!
I've finally got around to finishing my Tah-Sig force (15mm sci-fi from Khurasan Miniatures).
Today's completed painting was the Company HQ (two Big Men, one two-man Sniper team, and to three-man mortar teams) and 2nd Platoon HQ (two Big Men, three two-man Infantry Support Weapon teams) for a total of eighteen figures.
That now gives me a complete company of two platoons, supported by a squad of main battle tanks. Done!
I've set myself the target of finishing all the Tah-Sig I have to paint before allowing myself to buy or paint anything else.
It's proving reasonably difficult, as all the thrill of painting a new army has worn off now, so it's just a question of grinding through the final few figures.
So, first up is the final squad from Platoon #2: eight Tah-Sig foot from Khurasan:
All that now leaves me is Platoon #2's command (eight figures, half way through); and the company command squad of Big Men, mortars and a sniper (another eight figures, all undercoated). Maybe by this time next week...
One thing I have also managed to finish is the promised Garshaw main battle tanks. If you remember, these come from Dark Star Games:
These are painted in the same way as the already-featured Paghgaw IFV, but with a grey base colour rather than green, and with a Platoon #2 infantryman for size comparison.
To re-cap: an undercoat of red, masking tape in rough stripes, an overcoat in grey, peel off masking tape and finish with a very light dry-brush.
Although the technique has 'worked', again I am not too sure if I like it. Will have to actually play a game on proper sci-fi terrain to see. I do like the shape and look of the models, I hasten to add, it's just my paint job I'm not too sure about. Feel free to comment with what you think.
Note also that although I say the technique 'worked', the tank at the back suffered from very bad undercoat peeling when I took the tape off. Rather than be bothered to start the whole process again, I decided to treat it as battle damage, so re-painted in the metallic blue I use for all Tah-Sig equipment, then scuffed it up a bit.
The peel was probably due to me not washing the resin before painting. Either that or not letting the undercoat dry properly. In other words...my fault!
With the infantry element of my Tah-Sig force almost complete (only 24 to go!), it's time to start thinking about what armour they will have in support.
Khurasan haven't yet got around to releasing any vehicles for the Tah-Sig (assume my usual complaint about infantry-only sci-fi ranges is repeated here) so it was time to have a look around the web to see what else was available.
Paghgaw IFV: image from the Dark Star Website
I've had my eye on the Dark Star 'Other Factions' range for some time. The tanks are an unusual shape (pizza slices, as my daughter called them) but as they are long and low, I think they suit the Tah-Sig perfectly: matching the idea of them wearing armoured environmental suits as well.
Only problem is that the tanks are only available by mail order from the States, and with each vehicle being $18, the poor old pound still hovering around the $1.30 mark, and with postage and tax on top, they end up being pretty expensive. About £25 each in fact!
Well, my children don't really need to eat at every meal, so I bit the bullet and ordered four: three Garshaw AFVs and one Paghgaw IFV to use as a command vehicle.
Here's my attempt at the Paghhaw:
I decided not to use the suggested chain guns on the front but, as it's a support tank, to use the wider, howitzer-looking gun that comes as an option with each AFV.
The tank also comes with a separate drone which, as you can see, I have modelled floating above the vehicle. That was fairly each to do: a pin drill and a bit of wire was all that was needed.
The unusual paint scheme is a bit of an experiment. It was done old-school style: the tank was sprayed in the dark red colour, then I put masking tape strips where I wanted the stripes to be. Another spray, this time in the green, leave to dry, then peel off the masking tape to get the camo pattern. Then a quick touch up and drybrush to bring out the detail.
To be absolutely honest, I'm not sure I like it! I'm going to paint the other three in grey with red stripes as opposed to green, and see if I like them more. It is certainly eye-catching, so we'll have to see if it grows on me once deployed onto the tabletop proper.
Here's the Garshaw from the Dark Star website. My version to follow in a later post...
Slowly working my way through the rest of the TahSig: 15mm sci-fi from Khurasan.
One of the problems of playing sci-fi games is a lack of familiarity with the units involved...even if it's only because I don't play often enough.
I mean, I can spot a Denison smock at a distance and work out I'm probably looking at WW2 British Paras (I'm talking figures here, not real life!), and then know a bit about their OBs and capabilities, but have to think a bit before being able to do the same for any of the sixteen or so 15mm sci-fi armies I have.
I've therefore decided to make life easy for me with the Tah-Sig. Each platoon will have different coloured armour: first platoon in red, second in green, and company HQ to be decided. Then each section has a different coloured tail-fin and top-knob on their armour. Simples!
So here are the first two squads from platoon two: green armour rather than red, and with red and yellow squad markers.
One squad and the platoon HQ to go, add a few more for the company HQ, and that's all the infantry finished for the moment.
Regular visitors will know that the Hura range from Clear Horizons suffers from the all-too-common "infantry only" syndrome: a nice range of infantry, a single type of infantry support weapon...and that's it. No heavier support weapons, no armour: no vehicles at all.
Now whether that's because the range hasn't proved popular and it's not worth expanding or some other reason, it has still left me with a couple of platoons of unsupported infantry...something which I got around by assigning to the Hura Brigade Games' Xarledi grav tanks from their Yenpalo range.
Very nice looking grav tanks, but still only one vehicle type...that is until now, when Brigade have added a support variant.
As you can see, the Xarledi Support Tank shares the same 'body' as its AFV brothers, but has a short, fatter gun.
I must confess I'm little underwhelmed. Lovely models, don't get me wrong, and always keen to have a variant or two...but they could have made its 'support' weaponry a bit more different. Perhaps more mortar-like, or Stalin-organ-esq. Basically something other than just a shorter, stubbier gun!
Funny, isn't it, how I'm quite happy to be happy with an early Panzer IV and an F2 as contemporaries whose main difference is barrel-length (hush, rivet counters: just pipe down, you know what I mean), but unhappy when you've got effectively the same thing in a sci-fi setting.
As Rich would say: too much space-pixie dust!
Anyway, as always from Brigade, lovely models, and good back up for the Hura.
I'm gradually working through my two Tah-Sig platoons...particularly as I need to get the infantry finished before my Darkest Star AFVs arrive to provide their support. Fresh off the workbench is a another section of grunts, and two particle cannon teams i.e. floating squad light support weapons.
I particularly like the LSW teams: the two front bases in the pic, above, as I like the way the weapons are portrayed as outlined below.
Each two-man team consists of a gunner and a loader. Although it's not very clear in the photo, the standing loader in the nearest team has a couple of football-sized objects on a rack on his back, but the lying-down loader has one football-sized object on the ground close to his gunner's weapon, and one 'deflated' football-sized object strapped to the rack on his back. It's now obvious to me that the football-sized objects are some kind of magazine or powerpack for the gunner's gun. Neat!
Anyway, the Tah-Sig come from Khurasan, and I'm looking forward to getting them onto the tabletop when all finished.
Just realised that some of the army lists in the Quadrant 13 section needed updating...so I've updated them.
First up is a new list covering Khurasan's Tah-Sig: some very non-human aliens for which there are figures to represent a nicely scoped out platoon. No vehicles yet, but the infantry are cracking.
Here's the particle cannon team from Khurasan's website:
Click on the pics to go to the relevant manufacturer's website
Secondly, I've updated the Xar list to take into account the relatively new Xar infantry on flying saucers, and the fact that I've equipped mine with vehicles from Critical Mass/Ral Partha's Kaamados Dominion range.
The pic on the right is a shot of the saucer chaps in the raw, as it were, straight from GZG's website.
I haven't linked here to the pdfs of the relevant army list: how boring would that be! You'll need to vsisit the Q13/Army Lists page to get them.
It's hard to keep track of all the manufacturers of 15mm sci-fi figures: old ones keep disappearing or being acquired by other people, new ones spring up all the time.
Here's one new one whose website went live only about a week ago: Boon Town Metals.
Describing themselves as a niche figure manufacturer, they currently have two ranges: cyberpunk orcs (with a few other bits and pieces included) and sci-fi dwarves.
I have, of course, immediately purchased some of their dwarves. As you all know, my opinion is that, whenever you see miniatures that you like, you should buy them immediately as, if you don't, they can disappear from the scene without warning (e.g. Cactus dwarves where are you now?) so we'll see what these are like in the flesh.
Anyway, good luck to Boon Town, and hopefully they will be around for a long time.
Whilst I was waiting for my Battlefront bases to arrive (to finish my second Polish infantry platoon - do keep up!) I decided to start on one of the four sci-fi armies that I have in my lead mountain.
Yes, ridiculous to have four entire armies in the mountain, but I've learnt that you have to buy them when you see them in case the manufacturer goes under whilst you're still vacillating over whether to buy them or not!
The Tah-sig are radically different from humans from a biological perspective, using liquid nitrogen as a solvent rather than water, and therefore living in a much colder environment. They are also burrowers rather than surface dwellers and rely on hearing more than sight as their primary sense. The Tah-sig have eyes but their main sense is hearing, and this is as acute, precise, and long-ranged as the human sense of sight. Their armoured environmental suits have built-in aural enhancers mounted on either side of their helmets to amplify and fine-tune this, and to prevent enemy disruption. The suit also has vision enhancement (the faint blue vision slots being visible in the recesses on either side of their helmets), but even when enhanced the vision of a Tah-sig is not equal to the unenhanced sight of a human.
The current range of figures covers only infantry, but is nicely thought out in terms of the company and platoon OB.
Here's the first couple of infantry sections:
Now to start thinking about what vehicles to go with them...
Now did he build them then paint them, or paint them then build them?
Now I already have quite a few sci-fi buildings (mostly Critical Mass Games, RIP) so, nice as they were, I didn't fancy investing in any of their standard constructions...but what I didn't have and, funnily enough, what Matt hadn't shown, was what Warbases call a Laser Wall.
As you'll see in the picture, this is individual sections of either straight or corner pieces consisting of a wooden base and pylons, and then a glowing plastic "laser field" that slots in and out.
Each section, straight or corner, is (at time of writing) £2.50 plus p&p. This seemed like a good deal, so I bought twelve sections: four corners and eight straights.
Opening the box, I was immediately impressed: the plastic bits are indeed very glowing (mine were orange not yellow, but still looked great) and very solid as well: each is a serious chunk of plastic. The wooden base and supports are the usual Warbases laser-cut mdf, and each upright back-bit has two little holes in it to take teeny-tiny magnets to keep the fence together on the tabletop.
Getting the magnets was no problem: one day delivery from first4magnets from Amazon meant that I had them in my hands literally, er, the next day! The twenty-four magnets I needed cost me £5.50 plus another £1.10 p&p.
Building the basic fence was easy: went together in the usual excellent Warbases fashion. Getting the magnets sorted, however, proved a royal pain in the posterior!
As you can imagine, I carefully worked out the positive/negative order in which the magnets needed to go. I then used PVA glue to bed them in and waited for the whole thing to dry. I then went to build my lovely laser-walled compound and found that I had half the bloody magnets in the wrong way round!
That meant working everything out again, then popping the upside-down magnets out of the back support and then re-siting them. Whilst I was doing this, I discovered that PVA glue isn't strong enough to hold the magnets in place: you need superglue for that.
So I then re-sited all the magnets using superglue, only to discover, to my horror, that in the process I had, yes, you've guessed it, reversed some of the magnets...so I now had a number of joins in my compound wall that actively pushed each other apart! And the magnets were superglued in.
I now discovered a use for an old pin drill: popping magnets out of the frame backs: a quick tap with a hammer did the trick, although you have to be careful where the magnets end up, as they are quite small!
One other thing you have to be careful of is that there is not much tolerance for anything sticking out into the groove the plastic laser field sits in on the frames. If a magnet is not flush to the (inside) frame, or there is a lump of dried superglue impeding the groove, those lovely chunks of plastic will not sit right. It took me about an hour to carefully clear each groove (for that read angrily chop at them with an old scalpel and the aforementioned old pin drill) until the plastic at least went approximately in smoothly.
Now that I had the raw compound built and successfully sitting together, it was time to paint it. That was easy: a quick spray of grey undercoat and then a dry-brush in a lighter grey.
See how the bases bow upwards where the plastic doesn't sit flush
As you'll see in the pictures, I still haven't managed to get the walls to sit perfectly together: the bases tend to bow upwards where the plastic doesn't sit flush. However, that is a pretty clinically taken photo against a smooth, white background: on the wargames table, the bowing is hardly noticeable at all.
Here's a pic with a couple of Felids in place, to give you an idea of scale:
Well I'm happy with my new laser-walled compound, and at a total cost of about £40 once p&p is taken into account, I think that's pretty good value too.
Now to write rules and a scenario to get the thing onto the tabletop...
Having re-done the Chuhuac gallery (15mm sci-fi velociraptors with guns from Loud Ninja Games) I realised that I hadn't painted the Company HQ's reconnaissance tool, the heavy combat cyberform: a pterodactyl-like bird with a link to a ground-based specialist.
After sitting wondering where on earth it was, as I had definitely bought one, just not painted it at the same time as all the others, I strapped on a heavy backpack and headed for the lead mountain to seek the little bugger out. An hour later and a complete re-organisation of the sci-fi section of the mountain, and I had it in my hands.
The wings went on surprisingly well, despite not having any slots or tabs or anything. As I've said before, it's a feature of the Loud Ninja Games casts that they have a natural build-quality to them. The Chuhuac, for example, come on separated feet but, incredibly and with a little light bending, balance.
The wire is florists' wire (get it at the garden centre) and the base a plastic coin from a kids shopping set: makes it easy to drill a hole for the wire.
So that's the Chuhuac now complete...at least until the next release!
My Chuhuac (15mm sci-fi velociraptors with guns from Loud Ninja Games) force consists of three platoons: one camouflaged for the jungle, one for the desert, and one (special ops) for the city.
Each platoon consists of a couple of large squads of infantry in APCs, a squad of grav bikes, and a squad of battlesuits. Or that was the plan, until half way through the usual massive initial paint, I got distracted by other things.
Anyway, had a bit of time to spare this weekend, so filled in one of the gaps: the battlesuit squad for the second (desert) platoon.
Vis Lardica is a website devoted to wargaming and military history, with a special emphasis on the company-sized rulesets produced by the TooFatLardies: I Ain't Been Shot Mum (WW2); Charlie Don't Surf (Vietnam); and Quadrant 13 (science fiction)
Welcome to Vis Lardica, a not-for-profit website mostly dedicated to the company-sized wargaming rules produced by the TooFatLardies, but encompassing my other gaming interests as well.