Sunday, 31 August 2014

Guns of August Convention Report

Hello everyone!  Our small local convention was held here in Williamsburg, Virginia back on the 22nd -24th of August.  The convention draws around 200 local mostly historical gamers each year so a fairly small gathering where most people know each other and things are always pretty relaxed.  The big difference this year was the fact that The Phalanx Consortium was there to promote and sell Skirmish Sangin.  Overall the informal and formal demos for the rules went well and we had the fun of adding the second board to the table so there were plenty of people stopping by to take pictures and ask questions about the rules.

Many in attendance had seen us at Historicon so they checked in to see what the latest updates were on the new supplements and figures.   We also had the opportunity to discuss participation in a couple of programs next year with a representative of the Virginia War Museum so we will be working with them on those programs and we will feature both game demos, as well as running a figure painting class for those wishing to participate.
While we held our formal demos in the evenings we did take time to take those interested over to the table to run through a few points of the rules before making their decision to purchase a set.  So having the demo boards on permanent display over the weekend help to afford these opportunities and we would like to thank the organizers for allowing us this flexibility.

As we announced on our Facebook page we were excited to add another retailer to our partner list over the weekend with The Dragon’s Hoard in Staunton, Virginia picking up stock for their store while they were down as another vendor for the weekend.  So if you live up that way or just passing through please stop by and see Harry and company in beautiful Downtown Staunton in the Historic Valley of Virginia.
During one of our evening demos the players were taken by how actual topography on a game table makes such a difference in how a game is played. While hard to completely appreciate in these photos the ISAF players used the low and obscured ground of the irrigation canal to bring troops around on the Taliban left forcing them to retire and melt into the populace versus getting overrun.

So all in all we had a great weekend and are looking forward to seeing those who can attend at Fall-In in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Southern Front in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Both of these conventions will be held in November of this year.  Till then happy gaming!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Building a Technical

As requested, here is a bit more information about the technical that my Taliban force had for Call to Arms.

To cut a long story short, a technical is:
a type of improvised fighting vehicle, typically a civilian or military non-combat vehicle, modified to provide an offensive capability similar to a military gun truck. It is usually an open-backed civilian pickup truck or four-wheel drive vehicle mounting a machine gun, light anti-aircraft gun, anti-tank weapon, or other support weapon. (Wikipedia)

Like this:

There are some good technical models out there- Empress do a nice resin one with a variety of armaments. So one could assume that I had one lying around ready to go?

Well, no. I didn't actually.

What I did have, was this kit from Airfix:

I bought this kit to go with my Irish force actually, the Snatch Landrover is 3/4 finished in a stunning shade of white for UN duties(which one day I will finish, honest!). Which leaves the WMIK, which I had always planned to turn into a technical.

I thought I would share some of the ideas and tricks I found while converting the Landrover WMIK into a Taliban Technical.

The first few steps are to simply build the chassis of the WMIK, making sure to not include the V underarmour, and removing any upper superstructure for the vehicle. With my technical was loosely based on the one above, I wanted to keep the whole vehicle structure low.

The first challenge comes in the back tray of the landrover. The back of the vehicle has next to no detailing, it is all covered by the upper superstructure of the WMIK. To correct this, I used some plasticard which had striations on one side. I think it was designed to be used to make roofing tiles, but it works perfectly as the grooved rear tray. I chose to also build up the sides as well, to make it look like a more interesting ute (pick-up) back.

Once you are happy with the plasticard, the next step is to use Greenstuff to smooth out the joins, making it look like it was always meant to be there! While the green stuff is drying it it time to make some crew.

Craig and I have always been in agreement that vehicles look cooler when they have crew. Especially when it is going to be an open-topped technical!

Luckily for me, I had a couple of spare Taliban lying around. The gunner comes from Eureka Miniatures, from the 14.5mm DsHK gun team, but had sadly lost his gun (he donated it to the ANP technical). The driver is a bit more complex. I started with an Empress Miniatures Taliban, who was last seen fleeing from Jose the Military Working Dog in Despatches 1 (page 62). Unfortunatly through the course of gaming, or maybe because of Jose (either the real one, or the model one), he broke at the ankle. So instead of trying to rebuild his ankle, I made him into my driver.

Step 1 is to remove the paint from the two of them. So into the Simple Green to soak, then cleaned up with a scalpel and an old toothbrush.

The gunner is the easier of the two conversions. The basic Eureka model is great, but I don't like how he has the gun pointed at the sky. To change the angle of his arms, using a scalpel I carefully removed his arms, keeping them as intact as possible. At this point I would recommend to remove his base, you will need to remove it for him to fit nicely on the back of the landrover.

Then it is a simple matter of using greenstuff to reattach the arms, in the lower position. You may find it useful to remove some cloth from the arms, to make it a more natural pose. It is up to you, it's just to make you happy with it. I also tended to test fit them on the bed of the vehicle too, to make sure that I wasn't pointing the 50cal at the ground, or at the driver or something odd like that.

The 50cal is the one from the WMIK kit, with a few of the optics removed (based on my dice rolling, this Taliban doesn't aim). I used a spare metal pike (I use these a lot) to form the strut to attach the gun to the landy. I deliberatly cut it longer than I needed, that way I could check it off against the gunner, and to the height of the vehicle. Once I was happy with the location, it was a simple case to drill a hole in the landy. The hole was wider than I needed, so that I could use Greenstuff to make sure I had a nice join. I glued the gunner on at the same time.

So while the gunner is easy, the driver is a bit more involved. First thing to do is to cut the poor guy in half. I used a hacksaw to do it, while I held it in place with pliers.

Brutal but effective.

The Empress Taliban that I am using as a base had his left arm moulded on at his side, and the right arm as a seperate piece. This was perfect for me, so I left the left one on, and put the right arm into the bits box for the future.

The lower half and the right arm for my driver both come from the Academy MH-6 kit. One of the more odd things about that kit is that it contains 4 pilot figures, for a two pilot aircraft. It is even more odd when you think of all the number of 1:48 helicopters which come with no pilots (I'm looking at you Italieri). Crew rants aside, the spare pilot figures are great to make the seated drivers. Simply cut the pilot in half. You will need to lop the feet of the model, it just makes him sit better in the vehicle. The driver's right arm will also come from this kit.

While it may seem a simple case of a+b+c= driver, getting him to fit nicely into the technical, as well as looking right. Green stuff is your friend here again, I added a dishdash to cover up a few of my sins in the waist join, and did need to do some sculpting around his right shoulder.

Remember to keep test fitting him in the vehicle. I attached the steering wheel to the driver, and made a length of wire (from a spare pike) to connect it to the dash. It just helped to make the whole process easier, it was one less thing which I needed to make align nicely! I found that the driver sat much too high to use the steering wheel as moulded by Airfix, so creating my own attachment really helped me out in this process.

My first test fit of the two crew, without any green stuff.

One you are happy with the driver, I chose to add doors to the landy. Now the WMIK kit doesn't have doors, but the Snatch does, and it conveniently comes with two sets, open and closed. Getting them to fit is a bit trickier- you need to remove the top of the door (the bit that has the window) and also to remove a 2mm (ish) strip of the back of the door. It seems finicky, and to be fair it is a little bit, but not having the doors to me looks a bit odd. It is important to do that after the crewman, as it is a lot easier to test fit him without the door. Although, make sure you don't put his arm in the way of the door.

The fully assembled land-rover looks like this:

Note that the driver is not glued in, but the gunner is glued.

I chose to paint up the technical in a lovely pastel blue, which I then attacked with a whole lot of weathering.

This is the finished product:

The technical will hopefully be the first of a few of these models, I have a couple more vehicle kits which I plan to convert into Taliban vehicles.

But for now, more Auzzies!


Saturday, 23 August 2014

Post 100+ A Look Forward

We had planned to have this post marks the 100th put up here on the Skirmish Sangin Blog, but we got so distracted by Call to Arms and sharing pictures of the weekend that we forgot about the milestone!

So although this may not be post #100, we would just like to take the opportunity to say that we have really enjoyed talking with the commenters, sharing our ideas for gaming and showing off some of the great work people are doing out there in the Sangin Community. While we three writers might think we have a great game, which we personally enjoy playing, it still surprises us, how it has been received by the wider community of gamers, your feedback, comments and images provide us even more encouragement to keep making books and writing rules.

In light of it being our 100th post (ish), we thought we would share some of our upcoming releases....


Despatches II follows the same style as our first Despatches book, made up of articles, scenarios, ORBATs and other really useful stuff for Skirmish Sangin gaming.
Inside Despatches II you can find....

- Additional vehicle rules, including how to field on-table helicopters in your ISAF list.
- Scenarios, ranging from vehicle checkpoints to helicopter assaults and everything in between.
- ORBATs for the Dutch and the long awaited Taliban ORBAT

We hope to have this out before the end of of October. Its currently at the editors, so we are on track. Th final running order of articles may change as once again we have more articles than space but whatever ones make the cut you can believe it will more despatches gold :-)


Day of the Rangers is out first Battle Book, focused on the actions in September 1993 in Somalia. Battle Books are different to a Despatches book, firstly because they are no longer set in Afghanistan, but secondly because they are setting out to represent a specific series of combat actions.

In the case of the Maalintii Rangers, it means some special Somalia specific rules, things which will add to the main rules to give the right "feel" for the battles in Mogadishu. The release of Maalintii Rangers will be supported by a range of 28mm US soldiers amongst others, which you have already seen a preview image for here....

Inside Maalintii Rangers you will find....

- A Somalia ORBAT, with rules for mobs of civilians
- US ORBAT for Rangers, D-Boys and 10th Mountain
- ORBATS for the UNOSOM II forces, such as the Pakistanis
- Additional helicopter rules- Because it isn't the Maalintii Rangers without Blackhawks and Little Birds!

When will this be out you cry? The team are working on it now, but we are not sure just yet but lets just say as soon as we can after Sangin Despatches No.2!

Is that all we are working on? Well, no actually, no it is not. But we have to keep some secrets!

So thank you for reading our blog. Let us know what you want to see more of - scenarios, AAR's, painting guides, book reviews, ORBATs, miniatures reviews or something completely different? Get in touch either in the comments, or by email. We look forward to hearing from you!

Colin, Craig and Chris

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Call to Arms- Armies done and dusted!

Well, I managed it, finishing the last bit of basing on my two forces for Call to Arms on the night before the event (well timed that!). The weekend went very well, I had three tough games, achieving the distinction of being Most Mortared by the end of the weekend, my forces being subjected to no less than 5 scarily accurate 81mm mortar barrages in their three games! Needless to say, this had a very negative impact on my force's ability to fight the enemy!

Mortars aside, I did have a great weekend, you have already seen a few of my photos as part of the overall pictures for the weekend, but I also wanted to share a few close ups of my two forces for the weekend.

This is how they came out:

My Taliban:

More on the technical soon, in case you want to build one of your own!.

My Australians:

Even the Javelin team that got left behind got to make an appearance!

Next on the painting table for me? I am going to finish the remaining 10 or so Australians, before I forget how I did them. Plus they have a few transports (you know which one Spyros!) so I am going to get them all off my painting table.

That is, unless I get distracted by a set of our brand new Taliban that I got over the weekend too!


Monday, 18 August 2014

1st tournament

So the first SKIRMISH SANGIN Tournament was played this weekend

We all had some laughs, even though it was hard work, five games over a weekend for most of us left us all I am sure a bit dazed and confused. Awards were won, books and figures sold but more importantly interest was generated.

The group of players were all excellent and played hard games that were very narratively based. As with all things not everything went smoothly, mistakes were made and the cramped space made for a bit of manoeuvring on our part. However I think we would all agree it was a success and I would like to publicly thank my two off-siders for all there invaluable help.

  • Craig for continuing to build beautiful terrain and managing to ref with a severe hangover on Sunday.
  • Chris, for helping us with all the set up and for being good enough to play the entire weekend knowing we wouldn't let him win.

I would also like to thanks Ray, and Tom and Chris for lending us terrain.

I am sure the medal winners will wear their medals with pride.

Here is a few images of the event.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Posts from the Sangin Community- 20mm Chinook!

During the Insurgent competition, I got chatting with a few of those who are playing Skirmish Sangin around the world.

One of them, Carvel, got me thinking about 20mm. There are some great manufacturers out there doing some awesome stuff in that scale, and it had never even occurred to me. Perhaps it was willful blindness? While I was doing a good job of resisting yet another scale of miniatures, he did send through some awesome pictures of an RAF CH-47 Chinook he recently finished.

The first shot is of a squad of Royal Marines disembarking from the Chinook- two nice neat, orderly lines.

Carvel used weathering powders to good effect- this Chinook definitely looks like it needs a thorough scrub down!

The last image shows off what I think is a pretty cool basing option. Rather than go for a tall flight stand, the Chinook is hovering just above the ground, disembarking onto a raised area. Although Chinook pilots like to land the aircraft to disembark troops, they are able to hold it at a hover, with the door touching the ground. This is useful when deploying troops into places which don't have enough space for a proper LZ, such as up on mountain ridges.

With cool pictures like these of helicopters (I might be slightly helicopter obsessed), any bets on how long I will be able to resist 20mm? I do like the appeal of having access to more helicopter models!

Don't forget to get in touch with us if you have After Action Reports, game ideas, scenarios, painting or whatever to share, we love hearing from you!


Saturday, 9 August 2014

Adam- MARSOC- making Berets and Painting Commandos

Armies of Afghanistan has wound down a bit, but Adam clearly hasn't! He has sent through some tips on how to sculpt a beret, along with a few pictures of the work in progress for his MARSOC and Commando force.

Hey there, I've been pretty busy despite the break in school but I have managed to get some progress on this project. I was really stoked to get the minis and had been working on several ideas in my mind as to what to do with my minimal skills to make them look the part.

One was berets, or 'French Hats' as I jealously refer to them as! I needed to get a couple of them to signify NCO's and officers of the Afghan National Army's,(ANA) Commando Kandaks that I am portraying here. Generally they wouldn't be worn on patrol, but these are wargaming miniatures so they need to be representative as well as illustrative. So berets for the NCO's and O's. The minis have either kevlar helmets or patrol hats so some minor surgery was needed. I tried a couple different ideas and this worked the best.

The starting model:

Scalp them.

Roll out a small ball of green stuff, probably smaller than you think, see the pic. Then smash it onto the head and shape it like you care.

You will often find French hat wearers staring at mirrors trying to get that perfect look. Just saying...

Another detail was the lack of pouches and nonsense on some of the minis. Now I must say that they are excellent sculpts as well as castings from Eureka but my Commandos do a lot of foot patrols unlike the modeled Police. So I made a few pouches and packs or water bladder carriers.

Now onto the Critical Skills Operators, (CSO) of MARSOC. I've drafted a Eureka SAS troopie on a quad bike to go with my Eureka Aussie SF motorcyclist.

Chopped the head off the Aussie, swapped it with an ANZAC head with a kevlar from the Skirmish Sangin Kiwis and did a bush cover trim on the SAS boy. Those big floppy hat brims look a bit strange to Marines.

Both of these minis got a few extra pouches by milliput or hack and slash methods.

The Ranger from Pooch was disassembled and repainted a nice light khaki and them washed with Brown Tamiya model wash, I like this stuff though it's the first time I've used it. However, my first bull bar and roll bar attempts have been rejected by quality control, and I am in search of 3mm brass wire.

Everybody got a good old fashioned woodland camo scheme as well as desert boots and Commando patches. Just waiting on final dry brushing, detail bits and basing add ons. (Bases are washers, thanks Andy!)

In the end I've got a suitable manoeuvre element for a Sangin game to complement my other figures or even on their own buffed out a bit. My other Afghan Police minis will be mostly more Commandos but I will keep a couple of them as Police in their grey blue.

Looking great Adam! You will have to keep sending through pictures as the painting continues- I will be very interested to see how the roll bar turns out on your Ranger! For all those who were looking lovingly at Adam's motorbike and quad bike, the rules for them you can find in Despatches II, out later this year.