Thursday, 27 February 2014

Craig H - Research on the Bundeswehr in Afghanistan

Craig has undertaken some serious research into the Germans in Afghanistan. Please note these are Craig's ideas and we like them but this is not to say we will not supercede them as more information becomes available.

In thinking about what unit to use I was very interested in German light infantry, particularly the paratroops, or Fallschirmjager. Armed with Google, Wikipedia and my 20-year old, first year college German I scoured the internet for information, hoping to come up with a rough ORBAT for a Fallschirmjager zug (platoon).

(The Bundeswehr makes an appearance in Despatches 1, but Craig wants the Fallschirmjager, which at the time of writing, we were not able to get any good information on-Ed)

Firstly a bit of history. German Army paratroops have a long history. During World War Two they participate in a range of military operations, including the Low Countries in 1940. They led the world’s first airborne invasion, the bloody assault on the island of Crete in May 1941. As the war turned, they fought on most fronts, including at Monte Cassino in 1944 and, if you’ve seen HBO’s Band of Brothers, at Carentan in June 1944.

The Fallschirmjager were restablished in the post-war Bundeswehr in 1956 and were assigned as reserve forces during the Cold War. From 1989, as Germany started to deploy troops overseas, Fallschirmjager were present in a range of peacekeeping ops in Somalia, the Balkans and the Congo.

In 2011, German paratroopers helped evacuate foreign nationals from Libya. And then there is the Bundeswehr deployment to Afghanistan as part of ISAF.

In early 2014 the airborne and special forces units of the Bundeswehr were combined into one division of 9,500 men, the Division Schnelle Kräfte (DSK) which very roughly translates as the Rapid Forces Division. It includes two airborne brigades and the Special Forces Command (Kommando Spezialkräfte, or KSK).

A Fallshirmjäger kompanie is around 160 men, comprising four platoons (one HQ, three combat platoons and one heavy weapons/support platoon).

A Fallschirmjäger zug consists of around 40 men, with a platoon HQ of 8-10 men, led by a captain or senior lieutenant (with medics, sniper, or anti-tank team) and three 10-man combat squads.

Each combat squad (Fallschirmjägergruppe) is led by an Oberfeldwebel (NCO) with a corporal or sergeant as assistant squad leader. The squad can operate as one group, however, more recent doctrine is for it to work in two 5-man fire teams, each with an MG4 and with the squad leader and assistant commanding the elements. This is post 2005 – previously it would more likely operate as a single 10-man unit centred on a heavier MG3.

Standard weapon is the G36 assault rifle, with the two MG4s noted earlier. One or two members may carry the AG36A as a UGL, and the squad may have a sharpshooter with a G28 designated marksman rifle. Heavier weapons such as a Panzerfaust-3, or a Military Working Dog team could be added depending on the mission.

My first go at creating a squad worked out at around 1100 points. I had every trooper as at least a Veteran, reflecting the experience associated with being a paratrooper, but this could be modified downwards to include troops of average rating.

Fire team 1
1 x Elite Oberfeldwebel (NCO) (G36/AG36A (UGL))
1 x Veteran rifleman (MG4)
1 x Veteran rifleman (G36/ammo for MG4)
1 x Veteran rifleman (G36)
1 x Veteran sharpshooter (G28 marksman rifle +P8 pistol)

Fire team 2
1 x Veteran unteroffizer (CORP) (G36)
1 x Veteran grenadier (G36/AG36A (UGL))
1 x Veteran rifleman (MG4)
1 x Veteran rifleman (G36/ammo for MG4)
1 x Veteran rifleman (G36)

Now to paint them….but that’s for another post!

AAR - Defend the river crossing

So most of the usual bunch met on Thursday to have a game of Skirmish Sangin.

Ray and Craig chose to play the Taliban this time leaving me to play the British.

The Taliban had two groups of 8 and the ISAF a small 8 man British Para squad. So with forces decided what was the mission.

Well Ray had cooked up a great little mission for us that went something like this.

The British making a large push into the green zone had been reasonably successful until they crossed the river where they where hit by a large force of Taliban. Using their superior air power and close in support they had held the larger Taliban force but not without taking casualties. These casualties now need to be evacuated, with no safe LZ available the decision was made to evacuate by road. Unfortunately this meant crossing the river at the only spot that was currently held by ISAF.

This is where my force came in. My Force had been deployed to defend the river crossing as the main force leap frogged forward.

The Taliban Spies had realised the bottleneck and sent a small force to cut off the line of retreat for the ISAF wounded.

So what did this mean in reality?

Well my chaps had to hold the river crossing for one combat round, 10 combat phases at which point the wounded convoy would enter from the far side of the table. This, ISAF was lead to believe, was a convoy consisting of number of Landrovers protected by a Warrior armoured vehicle.

I got to deploy my troops within 12” of the river (This was an 8 x6” table). And the table got to deploy up to 12” on their side of the table.

So all I had to do was to keep a numerically superior force that came on two flanks at bay for 10 Combat phases. I imagined by Para’s saying something like “ Bring it on” while lighting a nervous cigarette.

I deployed on the north side of the river, keeping the river behind me, to the left in a building and its courtyard on the right in another courtyard to compound. Trying not to be too gamey I only deployed one soldier on the stairs at the beginning of the game and no one on the roof but I did make sure all my chaps had medium cover and where kneeling as the game began.


So unfortunately I don’t have a blow-by-blow account but this was a very hard fought game, first blood went to the Para’s with a nicely placed 40mm grenade, quickly followed up with ten rounds of rapid fire but we definitely didn’t have it our own way. Ray’s Taliban kept up a stead level of pressure on the left but were reasonably static, making a slow and steady advance. While on the right, the use of a well placed berm meant that Pooch could split his force and use one lot to try and keep my head down while all the while trying to outflanking me using the berm to hide line of sight as he rushed up his out-flanking force.

This was a hard fought couple of hours, with both sides taking casualties as we came to phase 8 the Para’s looked in good shape, only one casualty. We had been making great armour saving rolls and Taliban damage rolls had been low. We had also managed to reload one of the UGL’s (It takes 3 AP to reload, which means that a man is out of action for a combat phase and I frequently didn’t have time to reload the UGL because of the weight of incoming fire meant I needed him to be firing his armalite). But an AP screw up on my part meant I didn’t get to fire it as the at the two RPG gunners on the roof opposite.

However, it began to slide when Pooch’s RPG gunner managed to blow up two men at the doorway to the compound (The only saving grace was he injured one of his won men in the blast)

Now down to 5 men and with none active in the last two combat phases I took another casualty was then down to 4 men as we reach the last combat action phase. I had made it… but only just. ISAF had managed to hold a very determined Taliban force for one combat round. Now the convoy would arrive and I still had possession of the crossing even though I was besieged on all sides.

That’s where we stopped the game as it was getting late and we hope to complete the mission next week.

I’ll let you know how we get on.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

The Afghans are coming...

Just thought I would share with you a few news items.

 We have always been a huge fan of the Eureka Miniatures 28mm Afghans and will continue to recommend them at every opportunity.

but... drum roll please... this week we commissioned eBob to develop some 28mm Afghan figures for us. This will be our second range of figures and will compliment the Eureka and Empress ranges.

We hope to have the greens to show at SALUTE 2014 and obviously production not long after that. We will start with an initial 4 figures and build this range up to 16 over time.

Also on the Afghan Front we have been working furiously in the background on a Taliban ORBAT, these are additional rules to add a little more flavour to your teams and we are looking for a few playtesters to help us finalise these. So if you interested let me know.

However, just one point to remember, we love the enthusiasm of the Sangin community to be playtesters, its absolutely fantastic, but in the past we have had playtesters who didn't give us feedback.

So if you do volunteer please make sure your are willing to write us an email containing your ideas, notes, comments so we can use this valuable feedback in creating the final project. Those that playtest and feedback will get a free PDF copy of the finalised listings.

Obviously we will share more info on this as we have it.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Alex McE- Painting the Betterer Looking Baddies

Alex is back, this time with some paint on some Insurgents- Watch out ISAF, the Red Beret comes for you!

Before starting on painting, I needed to strip the old paint off the Qud (Empress Insurgents- Ed).

How I strip paint

Two words: Simple Green. I get mine from Bunnings or Mitre 10 (Big hardware stores in NZ-Ed) and usually in 1 litre bottles. I usually give models a soak in Simple Green for 24 hours, sometimes up to 48, and then pull them out and give them a scrub with a stiff toothbrush. That gets a lot of paint off pretty easily. Then I'll grab a scalpel and very gently use the point to scrape paint out of any deep grooves. I also use the tip to scratch over large flat areas (not an issue here) and that sometimes lifts paint off in sheets! After that, I go back over with a second, drier brush. If the majority of the paint hasn't come off it goes back in the Simple Green for another 24 - 48 hours and repeat.

Once I'm happy with the clean, the models go in water for 24 hours. I have found that Simple Green sticks to models and can stop superglue setting properly and occasionally make primer not stick. Then I'll let them air dry and occasionally give it one last run over with a dry toothbrush. Rough is good at this point. Once that's done, they're pretty well good to go.

These Taliban insurgents have proven to be very hard to get clean although not as bad as some Privateer Press plastics I'm trying to clean at the mo. I think it's a result of the bad primer job. It’s just meant a touch more manual intervention that I would normally have liked.

Anyway, on to PAINTING!

Stage One

These are the first six Empress insurgents out of the paint stripper. I glued them onto the base before work this morning. They're mostly clean although the long weekend of soaking has stained some of the metal. It happens. Primer covers it fine.

Stage Two

Now with added cat! I tried to get him to pose in the photo but he knows when I'm trying to make him look silly. The basing I'm using is a bit of an experiment. If I really, really hate it, I can change it but I wanted some more texture than I usually get with just polyfilla (spackle for North American readers- Ed)

I still use GW black primer. I'm really fond of it and other than the priming disaster on these models it has not ever let me down. Although I have learned recently that there are better ways that I’ll elaborate on when I get to discussing my camo paint schemes.

Stage Three

And here we are with the first three done:

On the left, my Afghan Warlord in a US Woodland flak vest. He’s ex-ANP so rocking the grey coveralls and mirror shades. The chap next to him is enjoying US Woodland pants. The chap on the right is rolling with his LAW and some European Camo pants.

The three currently on the block are all wearing items in British Desert DPM and the challenge at this point is finding some complementary block colours for their other clothing items. The next ones I’ll be having a go at the very detailed British DPM.

The photos aren’t great – my average phone camera isn’t great – but once I’ve got the next three finished, I’ll get someone with a decent photos of all six, including some closeups and a list of colours and instructions.

Army composition
Don't ask me about force composition yet. I haven't the foggiest. I'm likely to wind up painting a lot of stuff to make up the many options that *could* be used. At this stage that's looking like a dozen Foreign Fighters, 17 Taliban infantry including light support weapons and, if Pooch* gets his way, some Taliban motorbikes and a couple of heavier support weapons. Will all that get done? Who knows?

*he is a bad man (That is not true, Pooch is a wonderful person who should be listened to at all times, especially in terms of buying and modelling more figures to play more games of Sangin- Ed).

We've already cooked up one random side project from this…


Monday, 24 February 2014

Tom- Painting - A Journeymans Guide

Tom is back, this time with a look at increasing his Painting-Fu! We have let him away with painting a fantasy figure, but only because his next article will be using what he learned to paint up his NZSAS!

In my last article I said I was going on to tell you all about Willie won his VC. Well I got distracted, so I am going to write an article about something I never ever thought I would write about - painting.

I am at best a Journeyman painter. I can paint a reasonable table top standard but I will never win - or have never won best painted. This probably wont change in the near future, but I hope I now have some extra tools in my toolbox after spending a weekend in a painting Masterclass. For those of you around the world who have access to master painters you may have already done this sort of stuff - but down here in NZ we tend not to have this sort of event happening. Yes we have amazing and talented painters, yes people share their painting - but actual professional painters teaching technique and theory, well I haven’t ever had that opportunity before.

Over the weekend we have had a US painter Meg Maples (look at her blog for what she does here) take a two day Masterclass. If you have had a wee look you will realise that Meg is mainly a fantasy/SciFi figure painter, so she didn’t show me how to do MARPAT (but Craig does here-Ed), but she did show me how to get the effect I am after.

Two full on days of theory, technique, tips and ideas. Meg was very focused on how to use different techniques to paint to get effects that you want (rather than telling you what to paint and with what colour). One of the biggest revelations for me was using colour opposites and colour theory. An example of this being - rather than shading a light brown with a darker brown, you can use greens or blues or purples or red shades depending on the lighting effect you are after and the warmth of the brown you started with. Complimentary colours are opposites but they work very well in shading and highlighting giving quite stunning depth to a figure.

We started with a figure supplied for the class to experiment. We cleaned it up and came to my first surprise for the class - undercoating.

I thought undercoating was the easy bit - but I found out I had been over undercoating all these years. I usually undercoat with a black spray (or I used to) and I would make sure every little crevice was covered. This has tended to wash out the detail in my models and I have had lots of problems with chipping. We learnt a light covering sprayed across a model actually (a spackling) creates a small uneven surface for paint to adhere to when it is applied. It took a while to get my head around this - and if you want to read more there is an article on Megʼs Blog.

Below is the cleaned up model and then the undercoated model.

Once undercoating was done it was on to base coating. The idea was to base coat with a medium shade (no surprises there) and from that we would shade down two colours and highlight up two colours. This is normally where I would get my inks and washes out, wash the whole thing to death and put some line highlights in - and the wonder how the good painters got such a graduated shade and highlight effect on their models. Meg taught us the two brush blending technique, and coupled with the colour theory things started to come together. The expert painters out the will already know what two brush blending is - but for the rest of us plebs .....erm .......journeymen here is a quick guide.

The secret to shading with two brush blending is using a good paint that doesn’t dry out to quickly and saliva. You kept one brush moist in our mouth and the other in our hand with the paint you wish to apply. Then you chose recesses to shade and put a dot of paint in that recess. Using the moist brush from your mouth and the saliva on that brush as a medium you sweep across the surface you want to pick up colour and then drag the paint from the dot you have already applied across the surface. Et Voila! Some shade blended into your base. On her jacket I shaded twice - once with a darker brown and once with a dark green.

Then the highlighting - using the same two brush blending technique but this time choosing the ridges to highlight and dragging the paint along that ridge from a dot of paint. I tend to put the dot where I want the deepest shade or brightest highlight. It is a simple technique to do but a complex one to master - and several layers will be involved, although it is easy to correct. If your paint is coming out chalky or highlights are too bright a glaze can often smooth it out for you. By glaze I mean a really watered down medium colour of the surface you are working on - not a special pot of “glaze.”

One of the things I wanted to emphasize is Meg’s philosophy. She accepted and understood how people painted and the fact we all do things differently. Doing something a different way did not mean it was wrong, in fact it was celebrated. Showing us new ways and explaining why and how has really opened my eyes. I won’t be throwing any inks/washes or paints away, but I will look at the paints I buy from now on and there will be changes to some of my old ways. I have loved climbing out of my same old way of doing things and I am keen to get painting my NZSAS.

Dorothy... Done! Shading and highlighting done on the flesh, bodice, basket and stocking. I even managed eyes and lips :)

And now for the NZSAS, first up Mr Apiata :


Saturday, 22 February 2014

Painting Navy Seals by Craig W.

For my project I decided I wanted a group of Elite soldiers so I could play lots of scenario games with a small amount of troops. My favourite Sangin games are those with only a few troops and a heavy narrative component. I received the figures from Colin’s personal stash-thanks Colin.

Now I searched multiple websites and decided that I would use a mix of Multicam and MARPAT as there seems to be an awful lot of images showing Seals wearing both. It also meant I could use some of the figures as Delta or Rangers for other scenarios.
Here are a couple of images of the uniforms: 
As you can see they are a bit detailed for a 28mm figure!
And yes my first few test attempts were a good rendition of this but it left the figure way too busy with no definition…so in the paint stripper jar they went. (here they are before paint removal!)

So I finally got the hang of abstracting the patterns so they look good on a 28mm figure – less accurate to the real uniform but give the impression of it well enough. So here they are all nice and finished:

Here is an inspirational shot on the table:
So how did I paint them?
Well I tried a variety of different paints until I found something that worked.
For Multicam I used the following paints:
Here is my test square:
Here is my test figure:
For MARPAT I used the following paints:

Here is my test area:
Here is my test figure:
So there goes! Obviously I haven't given you a step by step guide - but hopefully it makes sense and you can follow it. Colour choice is a personal thing so my advice to you is to just have a go and trust your eye. Any questions just let me know :)

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Alex McE- More Betterer Looking Baddies, Or a Manifesto on Flash Harry Combat Pants

Continuing our theme of Camo schemes, Alex McE, aka "The Bad Guy" comes back with a bit of a look at what camo works for Insurgents

So, blog post the second. This one is going to be a bit of an introduction into the thought processes that go on in my slightly demented head.

Camo Patterns

As I said in my introduction last time, I'm all about things that look cool! To counterbalance the block colours and limited palette that will characterise my Taliban, I'm going to go a bit nuts with camo patterns on the Foreign Fighters. Now I want to be relatively (really?- Ed) sensible with the camouflage patterns I’m going to do and fit in with the time period and region- there will be no SS oak leaf camo, I'm not insane! (debatable-Ed) so I'm going to have my first crack at these four:

That's US Woodland (still in use all over the world), British Desert DPM (let us assume "acquired" locally), British DPM (only recently being replaced in the British Army and also common outside the British army) and Central European Pattern. I think they'll all work and provide me with a bit of a challenge to replicate these in 28mm. If I can get the hang of those, then I might just have a crack at these:

That’s US UCM, MARPAT Desert and MARPAT Woodland.

In order to keep a degree of consistency among the soldiers, they’ll all be wearing deep red headdresses where they have them. There is one chap with a baseball cap and I’m open to suggestions as to which team’s logo I should attempt on the front of it! (Detroit Redwings. I don't see why the Taliban can't love hockey...-Ed The red is a bit of an indulgence but it will give these guys some real stand out character in amongst the more plain Taliban.

Now lastly, I'm going to do one or two models in something totally daft because, well, it's me and that's how I roll. The first candidate for this is Chinese Type-99 Oceanic Camo:

Inappropriate? Absolutely, but it will look amazing if I can get it right. The base colour is going to be the challenging one I suspect.

Next time,

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Colin – Battlecry 2014

So last weekend the whole crew Craig, Chris and I, went on our inaugural 1300km round trip to Battlecry 2014 in Auckland's ASB centre.

We had tried to go the previous year but work got in the way. So it was only now we got to personally introduce the Auckland gaming scene to Skirmish Sangin.

Well to put it briefly we had a ball. This was a chance for us to test out our more mobile terrain; we are taking to SALUTE 2014 and a chance to introduce a whole new batch of wargamers to our skirmish goodness.

To say that we had a warm reception is an understatement. We sold out everything we took on the day and managed to play 4 great games. 

Unfortunately it was a hard day for the Taliban as they suffered 4 pretty decisive losses but as always winning or losing in Sangin is fun regardless with everyone entering into the spirit of the Narrative game.

We even had our first female player, way to go Eloise, you kicked Taliban butt. I would like to say how refreshing it was to see so many women players at Auckland, obviously still heavily out-numbered by the guys, the girls put up a great show, with many of them playing in tournaments.

So if your in NZ and want to go to a great wargames event ,keep your eyes out for Battlecry 2015, it worth the drive. We will be back.

I thought I would share some of the images below:

 The first 4 show the board from each edge.

Chris and Craig show a young lad how to play.
Kiwi's hiding behind a wrecked tank

Kiwi house to house search

 Kiwi advising a civilian to take cover
 Taliban Infiltrate the village
 Taliban Infiltrate the village