Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Short Post: PSC Updates for the 15mm Crowd

Well, it seems PSC has been very prolific on the 15mm front. We're seeing new releases here that will fit quite nicely for your Twilight: 2000 needs. First, the 15mm Plastic Soviet Motor Riflemen are coming out soon, and they're doing a prize draw and soon.

Box Art for the Upcoming Release (Image taken from PSC)
Next, we've got the box art for the M60A3 release!
Box Art for the Upcoming Release (Image taken from PSC)
So the M60s are coming, I don't have a release date up, but I will let you 15mm fanatics know when that happens. That said, I am jealous we haven't seen much in the way of 20mm releases yet for Cold War. I assume we shall see what happens there in the near future.

Other than that, we'll keep on this.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Wear Value-5 or “Gee that Tank is Dirty and Overloaded!"

The world of Twilight: 2000 is a pretty devastated one. It’s grungy, dirty, full of ruins and half the pre-war population of the planet is dead. The Third World War has raged for almost 5 years in some places (the Sino-Soviet front comes to mind), and everything has been used it seems, from nukes to spears, and everything in between.

Vehicles have been a big casualty of the war. Many of them have been destroyed on the battlefield or abandoned for a lack of fuel or parts. Many other vehicles (tanks especially) simply won’t run for very long on the new alcohol fuels. Thus, the vehicles that still run are valuable indeed. They’re like horses in the Old West, to lose one is to probably doom yourself to a slow death in a man-made desert.

So, how do vehicles look in Twilight: 2000? In two words, very raggedy. Many vehicles on both sides have adopted what is called the “gypsy caravan” look. They’re simply overloaded with belongings and other gear, not to mention other than the most important of preventative maintenance, many of these vehicles haven’t received a lot of TLC since 1997. When clean water is in short supply, you can’t justify a car wash, thus many vehicles have a layer of dust, the paint is chipped and faded, and there’s even some signs of rust.

So, how does one make all this happen? Well, follow along, and we’ll discuss vehicle weathering techniques, and where to get cool stuff to put onto your vehicles.

1. Weathering:
There’s an awesome section on weathering vehicles in the back of the US Army Vehicle Guide (as well as some slick conversion ideas involving Roco minitanks). While many of the techniques are a bit dated (the modeler/wargamer has a lot more tools available today then he had thirty years ago), but, the basics of the techniques are still quite valid, and for a beginner, are pretty good places to start. A note: ALWAYS weather a vehicle AFTER you apply decals, otherwise, it’s just not going to look very natural.

A great modelling section in this book, Pic taken from Twilight:2000 wiki, IP is GDW/FFE
a. Black Wash: A black wash is the basis of any good weathering technique, it’s also great for dulling down a paint scheme, as well as unifying any scheme you put together. There are some commercial blackwashes out there, Citadel makes one, as well as Secret Weapon, but you can make it yourself with a little patience. The main thing is to get a good mixture of black paint to water together, say about 5 or 6 parts water to one part paint. 
Once you have a paint mixture ready, don’t be shy about applying it. The wash will seek its own level, so apply it and forget it, it will dry nicely and fill in the crevices and other places where natural light would be shadowed. It also dulls the paint down and does a nice job of representing all the mix of grime, dirt, and POL residue that accumulates on vehicles in the field. 
b. Dirt and Mud: Dirt and mud can be represented in quite a few different ways, amongst them is either pigment (which can be tricky but once you master it, it looks great) or a brown wash of a red-brown color (done just like the black wash, but wait till the black wash dries, otherwise, it’s just like the black wash), and follow that up with a drybrush of light brown on the leading and trailing edges of the vehicle, as well as the lower sides, anywhere where dust might accumulate. 
How do to a drybrush? Simple, get a napkin and a brush with a flathead (say a size 3 or 4 minimum, Size 6 works best for this sort of thing), take a dab of light brown paint, and then dab it vigorously against the ridges and raised surfaces of the napkin till no visible paint comes off onto the napkin, then apply to those surfaces I mentioned earlier. This part represents the dust, wet mud, and dried mud that builds up. Pigment works much the same way, but you can layer it to make it look like caked on mud if you really get good with it…I am not as good with it as I should be. You also must use pigment fixer with it (and if you aren’t careful, you can eat decals with it).
c. Faded and Chipped Paint: You’re going to see a lot of this in Twilight: 2000. Paint schemes are just not going to last forever, and 4 years of war and the breakdown of logistical networks are not going to do anyone’s paint jobs any good. A simple way to fade a paint job that looks quite natural is to simply add a bit of white to the original paintwork on the model. The more faded you want, the more white paint you add. It’s all about the mixture. Paint chipping is easy as well, get a toothpick, dab it into a bit of dark brown paint (should be almost black in color) and dab it onto the leading edges of the vehicle (fenders, weld seams, lower hulls, etc.) Do not do it too much, or it looks awful. You can also do this with rust, just use an orange brown.
2. Stowage and additional gear: All soldiers collect gear. It’s a given as you never know when it might prove useful. 3 years after the logistical chain collapses in the wake of a all-out conventional conflict? That’s only going to exacerbate matters. The fact it, by the time Twilight: 2000 rolls around, you’re going to see all kinds of contraptions and gear on a vehicle. If there’s a place to tie it down, or shove it, a soldier will toss it on. Extra rations, sandbags, extra ammo, gas cans, personal belongings, you name it, and it’s on a vehicle somewhere. But where do you find stuff suitable to toss on your vehicles?
a. Premade resin gear: There are some pretty good specialty resin stowage producers out there, such as Legend Productions and Black Dog Models. They are a more than a bit pricy, but they are awesome stuff and they paint up great. Some of them are even premade for certain kits and will fit those kits like a glove.
b. Metal accessories: S & S has a line of metal tracks and accessories in addition to the resin gear they make, and it’s rather well done, if not always perfect.
c. Model railroad gear: HO scale model railroad gear has some promising stuff, such as truck loads, or other items one can find, and make use of.
d. Spare stuff from model kits: This why you save sprues from kits, guys.
e. Home made from Greenstuff: You can make all sorts of items here, such as bedrolls, tarps, air recognition flags, sandbags, rolled up camo nets, your imagination is your only limit.
f. Scrap materials: Swizzle sticks from Starbucks, packing materials, items from toys, or some oregano and gauze, your imagination is limitless.
One technique I love to do with the Greenstuff especially is to take the greenstuff, blob it along a fender or another part of the vehicle, and then poke holes into it and make it look like a rolled up net, then paint it a dark olive drab. Voila, instant camo netting.
Or, if you want to deploy said net, drape some gauze over a part of the vehicle (make sure you don’t cover windows, muzzles, periscopes, vision blocks and the likes), then cover the gauze in white glue, and scatter oregano onto it, allow it all to dry, then shake off the excess, and paint it with a dark olive drab color. 
In short, you can get imaginative with stowage and put as little or a lot as you want onto a given vehicle, just make sure to plan it out first, before you start gluing things down.
This is an older ESCI M1 kit built and painted by Chris Steadman, it took a bit of a beating in a move and I lost a few treadlinks, so I mounted it on a plasticard base, and made it look like mud so as to hide the plasticard replacements for the tread links. I also then added a block of gear from Legend Productions over the blast doors on the rear of the turret, and made some camo netting out of oregano and gauze on the front turret facing and the main gun.

This is a cheapo MARS kit from China, and I had to make up a mounting for the .50 and the loader's MG. I then added a bunch of stowage from Legend Productions (I am very proud of the "For Beer" cooler). I also added a rolled up camo net made of gauze and then faded the 3-color CARC paint heavily, hit it with a blackwash, and drybrushed the edges with a heavy coating of light brown paint for dust.
This is an ACE BMP-2 kit, I had to use green stuff to fill in the gaps on the tread links, as there was not enough of them included with the kit..go figure. The kit was blackwashed and heavily dusted with pigment, after having Polish decals applied (the vehicle was stolen from a Soviet unit), and a pair of Soviet tankers half figures were added from RH Models. 

A pair of LAV-25s and a pre-painted Hobby Master M113. The first LAV on the left is a repainted toy, I replaced the toy 25mm barrel with one from a rolled steel barrel from RB Models, then painted it in Taimya colors for 3-color CARC, then blackwashed and dusted the vehicle, and added some stowage from Legend Productions. The LAV in the middle is a Trumpeter kit with a rolled steel barrel from RB Models, I added more stowage from Legend Productions, then drilled and added an aerial made of airplane locking wire, and added a Confederate flag gotten from Warflag.com. The M113 was heavily weathered, with more Legend Productions stowage added, and an MK-19 AGL added from a Twilight: 2000 figure pack. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Where Do We Go From Here?

A familiar photo to all Twilight: 2000 lovers (Image is IP FFE/GDW)

Ok, gang, I have some ideas on what I want to talk about, but of course, I'd love input from you, the reader. This page is about you guys, and what you want to see, or not want to see. I am going to put ideas for future posts out there as a way of saying a) What I am working on, and b) Ideas for you to contribute?

So without further ado:

  • A tutorial on how to build a model of a vehicle and give it the proper "Twilight: 2000" look?
  • Some product reviews (I would love to do an article on just hobby and super glues out there).
  • The long-threatened 28mm figure and vehicle review article. (This is a subject area I am a little thin on, so any help here would be VERY appreciated).
  • A discussion of what's out there in 6mm?
  • A discussion on scenario design?
  • Book Reviews (I have those Iran-Iraq War books to finish and review, and any other suggestions?)
  • An article on vehicle weathering and stowage? Where to get it, make it or just plain how to make it look good?
  • Some terrain building ideas?
  • Your suggestions? What would you like to see?
I am very eager to see your comments about this. I know we have an audience. The Module reviews have been a big hit and I want to continue the momentum we've had.

So, the floor is yours everyone. Let me know what you are thinking!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Module Suitability Review - Rook's Gambit

Cover image is taken from Drivethru RPG, IP is GDW/FFE

Well, here we are. The last of the v1 adventures, Rook's Gambit. This adventure, by Alf Bergstrom, aka Raelleus on the Twilight: 2000 forums, is a pretty straightforward adventure, and one that tells an interesting "side story" of Going HomeNamely, a vengeful, and ambitious Soviet General (whose war record up till now reads like someone applying to the Douglas Haig Memorial Staff College), has gotten the bright idea (no pun intended) to use a captured American ADM (Atomic Demolition Munition) to destroy the concentration of American troops in and around Bremerhaven. The repercussions of such an action are well, staggering, to say the least, and the DIA has recruited a "crack" team (the player characters) to go in, disable or capture the nuke, and kill the good general before he touches off an even worse nuclear exchange. The adventure itself is available for sale as a PDF for $2.99 on DrivethruRPG.com.

The side plots, involving the Polish Free Legion are fun, and the chase to "get the McGuffin" are classic Twilight: 2000. as well as the sandbox nature of the adventure (there's multiple options for the ref to get the bomb to Bremerhaven). I love the inclusion of the castle as well, it's a nice touch, and frankly, I think it's better carried off than Castle by the Sea, but that's just me (Not a bit V2 fan, but 2.2 had a lot of promise).

But how does this do as miniatures fodder?

Skirmish Gaming

For a skirmish game, Rook's Gambit does well for inspiration. The mission to sneak in and assassinate the General/steal the nuke is enough to make a very good Black Ops/Skirmish Sangin game. Furthermore, what makes it loads of fun is the castle, the amount of 15mm or 28mm castles out there to be used for a game like this are plenty, and it does give the game a whole "James Bond assaulting the evil overlord's lair" sort of feel.

Some other ideas include?
  • Intercepting the nuke if it's already been sent out, either raiding the airfield, or shooting up the SSM, or waylaying the Spetsnaz team (The last is my particular fave), all of them would make excellent Skirmish Sangin/Black Ops fodder.
  • Fighting out the 1st Polish Free Legion's "civil war", the numbers involved lend themselves to be more of a skirmish game, perhaps even a campaign. Force on Force would do pretty well here.
  • An interesting what if? What if the Soviet KGB or GRU got wind of this little plan? Might they in willing cooperation with the Army (probably a first for the Soviet Union) go in and crush this mutinous nutcase before he does too much damage? And what if some American "free-lancers" got mixed up in it all? Yes, has the makings of a good Force on Force game, no?

Larger Games

The trouble with doing larger games is that the Soviet general is commanding a paper force. He has a frontal HQ and some assets at his disposal, but no major combat formations, so honestly, were there forces available to go crush him, it probably wouldn't last long. Unfortunately, he has just enough gear available to deliver the nuke. The rest, well, that's academic. But, sadly, for a large scale game, it's not really all THAT possible...but you could pull a what-if? Suppose our general makes some promises he should not have to a certain exiled marauder warlord that some American stragglers recently kicked the hell out of in Warsaw? And he has an army...and some murderous ambition of his own?

Well, that's it for now. It's post #60 everyone! Where do we go from here? Well, I have some book reviews I promised, some products I have been meaning to talk about, and there's enough coming down the pipe to discuss. Rest assured. I'll be keeping the flame for everyone, so as long as you keep reading, I will keep writing. 

ADDENDUM: I want to thank the TGN Blog Network for adding "500 Miles.." to their ranks. It's awesome to be a part of something like this, and it's nice to be recognized a bit.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Module Suitability Review - East Africa Sourcebook

Taken from DrivethruRPG.com, IP is GDW/FFE
We're now reviewing the first of two PDF-only releases for Twilight: 2000. The first is something that was bandied about on the Twilight: 2000 forums. Africa got scant attention in the development life of the game, a throwaway line here, or there, but there were three attempts to bring what has become this book to life.

The first was Frank Frey's post about the "Lions of Twilight" which was a bare-bones writeup about the 173rd Airborne Brigade being sent to secure Mombassa in Kenya and the refinery therein to make sure the oil flowed to the RDF in Iran. Another work was by the poster "Raelleus" whose work formed some of the basis of the third attempt, by David Adams, whose work we see here. The East Africa Sourcebook is currently available for $2.99 at DrivethruRPG.com

So, the cool factors? One, the book has plenty of mayhem and chaos to game out. Most of Africa has collapsed under the weight of war, disease, famine, and the not-so-occasional nuclear attack. Kenya has only survived an invasion by most of her neighbors because of direct US intervention (organized under AFRICOM or African Command), not to mention the exhaustion of the other combatants.

Even though the book says "East Africa/Kenya" we get a write-up for South Africa (now Apartheid-free and expanding at the expense of her chaos ridden (and in some cases, nuked) neighbors.

So, who's Kenya fighting now that the conventional war with her neighbors is over? It's mainly a marauder/terrorist/guerilla threat, which in Twilight: 2000, can often be one in the same. In Kenya's case, it's a group known as PARA (Pan African Revolutionary Army) who is often raiding the Kenyan forces occupying what was once Tanzania. There's also the Lord's Revolutionary Army (LRA) in Uganda, who's taken over Uganda, and has received some French aid after they overthrew the previously US-backed government. There's also the Somali warlord threat to the north as well, and they aren't behaving much differently then they do in our timeline.

There are detailed write-ups for most of the local militaries, as well as AFRICOM and some other players (namely the French). It also has entries for all of the prominent local NPCs as well as campaign suggestions that may as well be fodder for all sorts of miniature game ideas..and yes. we'll be discussing this later in the article.

I also like a discussion of the terrain, climate and people of Kenya, all of it very useful for not just the role-playing side, but the wargaming as well. I especially like that there are a few paragraphs on mercenaries and even in World War III, the wings of the Wild Geese flap somewhere. I also like the idea of Operation Harverster. The idea of raiding and trading all over Africa for parts and munitions to keep aircraft flying is a very Twilight: 2000 thing to do, and it's great scenario fodder.

Another thing I like? The real grab bag of gear. Everything from US Army run-Skyraiders found boxed up in some warehouse in Mombassa, to a "Volunteer" Mech Infantry Battalion made of US ex-pats and reenactors, complete with period gear and P-47s! And that's just the Americans!

But, how does this do for wargaming fodder?

Skirmish Scenarios

For skirmish scenarios, this is some pretty great stuff. Modern Africa has seen a real growth as a sub-period of modern wargaming, and Twilight: 2000 and Modern African wargaming go together like cookies and cream for ice cream. What I love about the book is how the role playing scenario ideas in the back of the book are such great ideas for miniature games as well.

Some of those ideas include:

  • Any number of raids or anti-marauder sweeps by American, British, French, or Kenyan forces against PARA or any of the Somali Islamist groups.
  • A boarding action on a pirate vessel by either elements of the USMC, the French Navy, or a mercenary group hired by one or more of the non-governmental interests in this part of the world.
  • A covert raid to decapitate the head of an LRA brigade before a raid. This would have to be done covertly of course because of the French support for the Ugandans. This game would make perfect Skirmish Sangin (which I plan to review and add to the rules section) or Black Ops fodder. If you make this part of an "Operation Harverster" raid, all the better.
  • Another LRA focused operation is the destruction of a series of hydroelectric dams under LRA control. This would also make excellent Black Ops fodder.
  • The initial invasion of Northern Kenya in 1997 by Somali Islamist bands, the Kenyans are simply trying to slow them up and inflict casualties, the Somalis need to take the town. You can also game out the counterattack by US Army Special Forces and Ranger units that retake the area.  

Larger Battles

For larger games, there are more than a few ideas here. Most of them are set in the backstory of the book because, by 2001, the combatants are mostly engaged in operations that are more skirmish game in size.

Some of the better ideas include:

  • Some of the battles from the initial invasion of Kenya by the Tanzanian-run coalition. The initial ambush 20km outside of Nairobi sounds interesting, as well as the fight for Mombassa.
  • US 173rd Airborne's attack with two battalions against the Tanzanian "volunteer" brigade that has cut the Mobassa-Nairobi railway. Considering the Americans have a company of M551s and the Tanzanians have Ferrets and PT-76s, it's actually a neat idea for a game.
  • A large scale raid on an isolated airfield in say, Zambia to seize parts and munitions to keep aircraft flying. This might make a better Rapid Fire or Battlegroup: NORTHAG (when it is released) game than something like Fistful of TOWs. 

This module is replete with ideas, and there's plenty of wargaming figure lines out there for it! Some of the ones off of the top of my head include:
Some rules I can also suggest to help give the local "flavor" include:
Post #60 is coming up! We'll be reviewing Rook's Gambit next, so stay tuned!

Monday, November 13, 2017

A Short Post - New Maps of the Caucasus on Drive Thru RPG!!

Hello everyone, November is going swimmingly, and I am getting back into the swim of things, but I heard about this neat new thing that's just come out on DriveThru RPG for $4.95 or as a PDF and Poster for $6.95.

Taken from DriveThru RPG

The map is very well done in the old 1st Ed Campaign Map from the boxed set, as well as the Northern Germany map from Going Home. The map is full color, with very clearly marked out locations and terrain on the map. It also has a hex overlay option in the PDF and JPEG options. In short, it's a wonderfully done map, and it also has marked out railways and airbases, two things the old campaign map did not have. 

In short, this thing is a roleplayer's godsend, or if you're doing a campaign map for a miniatures game (Hint, Hint!). It's got adventure potential galore.

In short, do not walk, run to get your copy of this. I am hoping Albatross Press does more maps of other areas of the world, as the air navigation maps that were often enclosed with 2nd Edition products were very difficult to use from a RPG standpoint.

Some ideas that come to me are:

  • A campaign by US Special Forces units based in Iran to stir up trouble in the Trans Caucauses against the Soviets? 
  • Recovery of a crashed US B-52 or B-1 with nuclear weapons aboard.
  • Move Satellite Down from Baja to the TransCauscasian region? With some modifications (Brupp becomes a suitable Russian name, and instead of a cult, he proves to be an ultra loyal party hack with some strange ideas on party loyalty?)
  • An OPFOR campaign of a small Soviet unit far from home, surrounded by tons of locals who do not like them...or each other.
So, next up will be the East African Sourcebook. I intend to get that writeup out soon, probably in the next week or two. 

Till next time!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Module Suitability Review - Survivors Guide to the United Kingdom

Picture taken from DrivethruRPG.com. IP is FFE/GDW

Hello all, it's on to the final GDW-published supplement for 1st Ed. Twilight: 2000, Survivors Guide to the United Kingdom, or SGUK for short, is a controversial book to say the least with UK fans of Twilight: 2000. Many of the UK fans state they got a lot more wrong than right in this book, being an American, I can't really argue one way or the other, so I will simply state that I am just going to review this book as is for miniatures scenario fodder, and let the UK/Commonwealth fans argue whether or not this book added anything to canon. 

I won't be reviewing 3W's effort, City of Angels, by the way. Honestly, I kinda consider it the worst Twilight: 2000 supplement ever written, and it suffers from a lack of basic research, so rather than spark a flame war about that one..we're just gonna skip it entirely. Everyone ok with that?

So, what does SGUK have going for you? Well, from the miniatures standpoint, quite a bit. The UK as posited, is broken up into a lot of little statelets (with HM Government being just one of them) after the country is nuked about the same time as the US, receiving a further wave of strikes again in 1998. Yeah, not fun to be British. This all leads to a patchwork of groups and warlords, with some of the more memorable entries being the Tartan Army (A marauder band that pays...and is run by committee?), the Red Devils (Man U's fanclub got REAL militant), and the Soviet Group of Forces England (SGFE) (Escaped EPWs who just want to go home.) And did we mention the private little war that's going on between the Republic of Ireland and the UDR over Northern Ireland?

But there are more groups out there than one can shake a stick at, and more that are just hinted at...not to mention, HM's Government in the southwestern third of the country wanting to reunify the whole thing (with MI-5 preparing to fight an assassin's war to do so). And the drought, like in America, getting ready to knock the entire thing into a cocked hat..but what about miniatures possibilities?

Skirmish Games

There's a ton of fodder here. Just about anything you could conceive of for a Post-Apoc skirmish could be done with a British guise, just make sure the combatants have a British feel with less ironmongery, more SLRs and shotguns, and perhaps an armed traffic warden or two....A really good online source that you could adapt for ideas is Winter of '79. Some great figure lines in 20mm are Ehliem and Liberation, the latter's a bit hard to come by outside the UK, but their Urban Meltdown range is perfect for this stuff. It's got a lot going for it in terms of ideas and with a bit of adaptation...it could work for Twilight: 2000. But since you also expect some ideas from yours truly:

  • A raid by one statelet on another for food, arms, or just about anything would make a good skirmish game. It's pretty straightforward, and would be pretty much the cause of most armed combat in Twilight: 2000 Britain. Most skirmish rules can handle this pretty well. 
  • Another game that could be fun is the two patrols from rival factions run into each other and both decide the other isn't going to report back. Again, most skirmish rules can handle this pretty well. 
  • Finally, in a bit of fun, you could do a Black Ops game where MI-5 gets the go-ahead to start assassinating warlords. a small team of 4 MI-5 agents sneaking into a warlord's compound, and doing him in in the middle of the night would make for a tense game.
There's a whole host of other ideas one can pull from this book on the Skirmish end.

Larger Games

The trouble with larger games here is the shortage of food and fuel to support the larger games some of the 1:5 rules thrive on. When your army is based around a single, and I mean single AFV with not much ammo, it's difficult to do a good Fistful of TOWs game. That's not to say it's impossible. One game that comes to mind for a medium-sized game, perhaps with a bit of fast play rules like Rapid Fire, or perhaps Battlegroup: NORTHAG (once it is released), would be HM's Government deciding to apply direct military force against a nearby warlord, and using it's hoarded supplies of North Sea oil to do it. It would make for an interesting, if tough game for the defender.

Well, that's it here. Next on the review queue is the East Africa/Kenya Sourcebook, where we look and see how all that African wargaming material that's come out in recent years can be adapted to Twilight: 2000. 

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Twilight 2000, The Look on the Tabletop, Part 1, Vehicles

Twilight: 2000 is in some ways, a unique post-apocalyptic experience, it isn't quite Mad Max, it isn't quite Gamma World, or for tha...