December 17, 2019

Zvezda 1:100
Sd.Kfz. 222

A closer look at Zvezdas 1:100 Sd.Kfz.222 for their "Art Of Tactic" wargame. As I mentioned in earlier posts, the use for this model is not limited to the Zvezda wargame, virtually this light recon tank could be used for every 15mm wargame which rules support this unit.

But without any more words left, let us take a look at the plastic modelkit which comes with this expansion:

The kit comes in two gray sprues and as I stated in earlier Zvezda reviews, the plastic feels slightly different from styrene used by other manufacturers, it feels minimal softer, but it is still hard and sturdy enough for a modelkit.
The kit can be build without the use of glue, but it takes modelcement well and binds pretty fast, but it seems not as fast binding as the green material used by Zvezda.

I did not find any issues with the sprues, except for some mouldlines which have to be to removed, but there is minimal flash, are no sinkholes, and any possible ejectormarks would not be seen, when this kit is built.

The roadwheels are well made, even the armourplates of the wheelhubs are good. The grid of the turret is pretty simplified but I think for that scale it is okay.

Once again we have a nice 1:100 "Age Of Tactic" modelkit. The overall grade of detail is well done and for its price, approx. 4 Euro as most Zvezda 1:100 tankkits, it could be a cheap alternative to the resin/metal model of the Sd.Kfz. 222 made by BFM.
Unfortunately, no decals are included in this box, but "Art Of Tactic" 1:100 tanks expansions never have decals included.

I recommend this kit if you need one (or more) of them for wargaming.

As I wrote before, this kit can be built either with or without the use of glue, and you need a fair amount of pressure to avoid gaps between the parts. I used glue, but I did not apply enough pressure, now my kit look like this:

As you can see, I will have to use some putty on this to close the gaps between the parts.

I do not have anything to compare this to, except the leftover turret from the PSC Sd.Kfz. 250 (review will come soon). The picture below shows both turrets side by side:

Personally, I would prefer the turret of the Plastic Soldier Company kit, and luckily it fits to the Zvezda model without any modifications, as you can see below.
I think, that I will use the PSC turret for my Sd.Kfz. 222, with both parts combined, my 222 now looks like this:

I will return with a closer look at an Allied or Soviet 1:100 Zvezda tank this Thursday.

Instead of a review I will post another battle report this Thursday.

December 16, 2019

TANKS The Modern Age
Battle At The Crashsite

After the last battles were lost by the NATO, their morale got low and some US troops deserted and tried to reach France, but the French army will not tolerate any deserters crossing their borders and prepare to fight against these foes.
While the Americans reached the crashsite of F-WTMD and destroyed a small East German reconissance platoon, the French are heading towards them...

We decided to build our platoons without knowing what the other player would use, what ended in 2 very different platoons, and in 2 NATO partners fighting each other.

On one side are the Americans, played by my mate Olli, choosing to play a rather small platoon equipped with a lot of useful upgrades. Just read his platoonlist (the M-109, Artillery Scout and Target Computer are custom cards):

Cobra Helicopter
- Improved TOW
M1A1 Abrams
- Artillery Scout / Randall Avery / Ressourceful Gunner / Silver Bullet
M-60 (coming next weekend)
- Joseph Ortelli / Robert Folk
- Target Computer

= 101 Points

On the other side are the French troops, which are a "quantity instead of quality" army, their strenght is the relatively low costs for average tanks that you get strenght in numbers. This time I took only tanks and howitzers, the "Rapid Fire (5)" ability of the AMX-30 tanks would be enough firepower against any enemy helicopter. The "Willie Petes" were useless, since they are only effective against units with a lower initiative.
Just take a look at my list:

AMX 30
- Willie Pete
- Willie Pete / Artillery Observer
- Henri Delacroux / Artillery Observer
- Andre Mareau
- Ressourceful Gunner / Bomblet Bombardment
- Ressourceful Gunner / Bomblet Bombardment

= 101 Points 

As you can see, 3 tanks and 1 helicopter are fighting against 6 tanks, who would win this battle?

After we placed the scenery and our units (except for the planewreck, all scenery pieces count as cover while the wrecked plane is a sightblocker), my mate Olli had the tactical advantage for the first round, and we were ready to start:

In the first round nothing happened, some units were moved but nothing else. The second round showed the strenght of the "Bomblet Bombardment", both AMX-AUF1 used it on the M-60, and with firesupport from an AMX-30, the Patton was shattered into pieces.
In that moment my mate Olli saw his troop already defeated while I was sure that I would win, but the game had not ended yet.

First Blood
In the third round the Cobra destroyed the first AMX-30 with missiles, the Abrams almost destroyed another AMX-30 in a single attack, while the French attacks did not do any harm to their enemy.

The fourth round included heavy firefights, a second AMX-30 was destroyed and the Cobra was turning its "Rapid Fire" on the very fragile howitzers, not destroying them.
Due to the "Ressourceful Gunner" both French AMX-AUF1 used the "Bomblet Bombardment" again on the Abrams hitting it a single time, while one of the two remaining AMX-30 made on its way to the M-109.

Round 5 and another AMX-30 got destroyed, but its "Final Fury" attack destroyed the M-109, now the Cobra and the Abrams were left over on the American side, while the French had a last AMX-30 and both slightly damaged howitzers.
The AMX-30 attacked the Abrams, scoring a critical hit. I tried my luck and attacked the Cobra with one of the howitzers (every tank has at least a D3 attack versus helicopters) and it got hit a single time.

The sixth round brought more casualities for the French, who lost their first howitzer, now it was two on two and I already had a rough foresight how the game would end.

The seventh (and final) round brought the defeat for the French. There was the (micro)minimal chance of getting a draw, according to the "Final Fury" rule, both destroyed tanks had a last attack, but they did not hit.

The American deserteurs have won the battle, but the US HQ already got informed about this and sends a platoon to hunt them down. After a future battle you will see, if 5 Humvees are strong enough to beat the leftover deserting units.

By the way, making the Americans deserters was done only for dramatic reasons and the lore of our campaign, those boys would never retreat.

This battle showed that "hightech" upgrades and air souvereignity play a big role in deciding the victory, more than having strenght in numbers. While the first rounds the French seemed overpowering the Americans, from the moment the helicopter went into battle, their luck changed.

The Fremch AMX-30 are well armed against helicopters, but having luck with the dice plays another important role, the first picture of the post shows my D5 attack versus a D3 defence, Olli had not even to roll his defence dice.
But in a usual fashion, this game made fun because it was unclear until the final rounds, who would win. We learned some more things on platoonbuilding, and, for a first game, the French fought hard. I will have to rework the US and Soviet custom artillery units and upgrades since I found some inconsistencies.

In the next days we are going to play a 4 player all vs all game, with slightly changed rules. I do not think the initiative rules to decide which tank to move would not work with 4 players fighting each other.

December 15, 2019

T-34 Tank expansion

A closer look at the 1:100 T-34 expansion pack for the "TANKS" strategy game by Galeforce 9. As usual, this box contains a 15mm model and some upgrade cards for the game.

As usual this expansion contains one 1:100/15mm modelkit made by Battlefront Miniatures and some cards to use for the game. But with no further words, first let us take a look at the plastic which comes with this expansion:

This kit comes in two green sprues, the first of them contains the main parts for the turrets and the hull.
There are virtually no mouldlines, and any possible ejectormarks will not be seen when this kit is built. Also, there are no sinkholes and only a minimal amount of flash needs to be removed.
All turret hatches can be build opened or closed, but there are no crewfigures included to put them in.
The second sprue contains the tracks and a lot of smaller parts, but only a bunch of them will be used, the leftovers will disappear in the bitsbox. This sprue is at least also included in the BFM SU-76 kit.
The roadwheel detail is good, just as the general grade of detail, the tracks are acceptable for its scale.

Beside the modelkit some upgrade cards for the game are included in this expansion. First we have  the cards for the unit itself:

The T-34/76 has a initiative of only 4 with an attack of 4, the T-34/85  has an initiative of 6 paired with 5 attack dice. Both tanks have a armour of 1 and 5 hitpoints, even when they may not be the best tanks in the game, they are solid units. Both T-34 have the "Fast" ability what makes them very flexible.

Also included are the following 5 upgrade cards:

First we have the cards for crewmembers, two Soviet-exclusive and a global usable crewmember come with this:

The Soviet driver "Mariya Oktyabrskaya" gives for 4 points an additional armour point when it has any speed token. The busted tracks critical hit gets automatically repaired when drawn.
This is a pretty useful card, since you almost move each round, then you would have 2 instead of 1 armourpoints. Or use her with an heavy tank, then you would have 3 when you have moved.

"Vasiliy Storozhenko", the Soviet tankcommander of this box, adds 2 additional initiative points to his tank, and, (best combine with "Coordinated Fire") Add the start of each game phase you may add an additional initiative point for each tank in close range. This is a good card, you could push your initative very much depending on that you keep your tanks closely together.

The "Agressive Loader" for only 1 point adds an additional initiative point for the shooting phase. If your tank has room for a gunner left, and you could spend a point,  just take it, since this is useful for every unit.

The last 2 cards are for equipment upgrades:

All all other nations, the Soviet have with the "Arrowhead Shot" their own special ammunition upgrade. Equipped for 1 point, this card grants you an additional attack die on close range when discarded. Even when this can only be used buy T34 and SU-76, it can be an useful upgrade if it fits in your playstyle.

"Liquid Courage" is a global upgrade for 1 point, which is at least also included in the starterbox of the game. When equipped, you can reroll failed repair rolls for critical damage that affects your crew.
This cards usefulness depends on the dice and what critical damages you draw. I remember a game, where a Panther of my mate Olli could neither shoot or move for 3 rounds because of failed repair rolls, a little "Liquid Courage" could have repaired that damage earlier.

Following the simple instructions on the inlet of the box, this tank was built pretty fast and nothing special happened while building the T-34, my finished model can be seen on the picture below:

This is a good expansion pack for the game, the T-34 was the maintank of the Red Army and should find a place in every players collection.
Combining its "Fast" ability with the Soviet "Coordinated Fire" ability, you could build up a lot of pressure on you opponent. The Soviet heroic commander supports this playstyle too, and the other upgrades given in this box can be useful in the right situation.
As usual, there are neither decals nor any figures included, a shared thing among all "TANKS" expansions, you will have to rely on your bitbox if you want to use them.

Ending this post with some comparing pictures. The Plastic Soldier Company T-34,  the Zvezda T-34, and this tank show some differences in their dimensions, just take a look for yourself:

December 14, 2019

Zvezda 1:144
Hawker Hurrican Mark 1

A closer look at the 1:144 Hawker Hurrican Mk. 1 game expansion made by the Russian company Zvezda. This kit belongs to Zvezdas range of small scaled modelplanes for their "Art Of Tactic" wargame. I built some planes from this range and they are easy to build, and can not only be used for Zvezdas wargame.

But without any words left, let us take a look at the kit which is included in this game expansion:

The Hurricane modelkit comes in a single sprue of sandcolored plastic, the same stuff Zvezda always uses for their Allied "Art Of Tactic" models. You can read my thoughts about this material in earlier Zvezda (p)reviews.

The sprue contains all parts needed to build this plane and I did not find any flaws on the sprue, no ejectormarkings or sinkholes were on the parts, and there is not much mouldlining to remove.

As you can see, there is the option to build the landing gear opened or closed, a nice feature that this kit has in common with all other 1:144 and 1:200 Zvezda wargaming planes.

The next "sprue" from this box contains the clear part:

The clear part for the canopy is casted as solid block, as they are in most Zvezda wargame planes, next Saturday we will see an exception. Due to its thickness, you could not add a pilot figure without a new piece for the canopy.

The third and final sprue in this box contains 2 parts to build a stand for the plane. It is included in every "Art Of Tactic" plane expansion. It seems solid and not too bad and would be a decent modelstand if all flash and ejectormarks would be removed.

As usual for "Art Of Tactic" plane kits, the Hurricane also includes a well made decalsheet for the model. In general, Zvezda produces decals of good quality, but these did not take the decalsofter without taking some minor damage.
A good layer of matte varnish may hide this, but I when I saw what happened after the application of "Mr Mark Softer", I thought that I messed up the kit.

Luckily that was not the case, my finished 1:144 Hawker Hurricane Mk.1 looks like this:

For a gamepiece this kit is ok, it is easy and fast to build due to the well made building instructions, and after you may have painted it you could add some of the decals that are included.
Do not expect a real modelkit, this one aims at wargamers, the plane could be used for early war scenarios like the Blitzkrieg or the battle for Africa, even the Sovietunion got them via the lend/lease contract.

In the end it depends on you, but if you need a Hurricane, you should take a look at this one, even when there are other alternatives in this scale like the (out of prodution) Revell Microwings Hurricane or the Sweet Aviation Models Hawker Hurricane,  both are way more detailed, but compared to the price of the Zvezda kit (below 4 Euros), their cost would be higher.

Tomorrow it is Sunday what means we will take a look at an expansion either for "TANKS" or "TANKS The Modern Age", this time we will take a look at the T-34.

December 13, 2019

Zvezda 1:100
Sturmgeschütz III Ausf. B

A closer look at the 1:100 STUG III Ausführung B made by Zvezda, a modelcompany from Russia. This is an expansion box for their "Art Of Tatic" wargame, but (I may have written this before) you could use the included model in every 15mm ww2 wargame if there are rules for this tank.

But before we are going to examine this kit, please let me say that today it is the 10th anniversary of the World War 2 Modelzone (even when I wrote only approximately 3,5 years in that time), and this is great.
I never thought that I would continue this blog after I had a harsh break in my life some years ago, but after I returned to modelbuilding, it was a logical step to continue this blog as I explained in this Rügen'46 post.

Everyday people visit this blog(*) and I am thankful and happy if some of my posts may be entertaining or helpful. I think my old English teacher would kick my butt if he would read this gibberish, but

Are there any plans for the future ?
Sure, getting more models, build and paint them and write reviews about some of them, playing both "TANKS" games and write some more battlereports, more custom units for both games, more wartime pictures, all that mixed with the usual shit I am writing about.

But to go in detail, the planes expansion and a lot of new custom units should come over the next weeks (rules ready/cards not), the Britons for cold war "TANKS" will stay in focus next year (Easter?), my mate Olli and I created some funny gamemodes (Senshado anyone?) which will get tested, and much more.

Not to forget to mention, that over the next year I should be done with (p)reviewing the whole range of Zvezda "Hot War" and "Art of "Tactic" 1:100/1:144/1:200 game expansions. According to my list, there are 76 (?) kits fitting in that scheme (even a ship), of which I already have 21 reviewed (including this), 20+ are in preparation to be reviewed soon, but as soon I have time for regular posting, I will lower the frequency of kit (p)reviews.
(If you ever ask why I link to the Boardgamegeek hub for that game, the official site is not existing anymore.)

While there is a plan, it all depends on the amount of time to spend for this hobby and I almost always priotorize the building itself to posting about it.
I should have used the auto-publishing function earlier, and now, since I am using it, there are here and there some posts that got lost (Leo 1 comparison), or, like last weekend, a T-34 turned into a Leopard 1, but all in all, it works.
Any lost post will be re-added to the list of auto-published posts that they sooner or later will appear.

While the first post in this blog was about a STUG III, I would like to start the next decade of the World War II Modelzone with another STUG. III. But without spending any more words, since this is a (p)review, let us take a look at the plastic kit which is included in this game expansion:

The kit comes as a single grey sprue, made from the usual material which is used by Zvezda. For me it feels minimal softer than the stuff other companies use. As a regular reader you should have read my impression on this in previous posts about these 1:100 Zvezda kits.
Some tools and the towrope are moulded onto the hull, and they look good. Beside the wellmade roadwheels, even the tracks are not as bad as usual, what does not mean that they are great, on the last picture you get a better view of them

In best Zvezda tradition, the boxart was taken from their 1:35 STUG III modelkit, but this time it fits and shows indeed the model which can be build from the box, this is not always the case, for example their 1:100 Katjusha modelkit differs much from its boxart.

All hatches can only be build closed, but that is ok since there is no commander miniature on the sprue which could be used. I think you could modify this but I did not try this on my STUG, maybe I will get another of these kits in the future, then I will try if this would work.

I built this kit as addition for my Afrikakorps platoon, the construction was uncomplicated due to the simple but good instructions on the back of the box, and this is the result:

I like its look and and it fits perfect to the colorscheme of the other tanks from that platoon, there are still 2 or 3 models to get, then, when it is finished, I will write at least one post about them, but back to topic.

This model can be a useful addition to every early or mid war German army. Sure, there are other STUG kits like the Plastic Soldier Company STUG or the Battlefront Miniatures STUG, but this should do its job pretty good. As you can see on the picture above, the tracks are not as plain as on the general Zvezda 1:100 tank kit, we will see similar tracksets in later posts.
Some decals would have been nice, but "Art Of Tactic" tank kits never have them included. 

As usual, you can get this kit (at least in Germany) for below 4 Euros. If you would need more STUGs, you could get a PSC or BFM Stug 3 platoon-sized box, you would not only get decals (not sure if there are decals in the PSC platoon boxes) and tankcommanders with those boxes, you could build different versions of this tank (see links above). But their construction is way more complicated as with this Zvezda kit and would need glue, what is not needed to build this modelkit.

In the end, it is always your decision, get whatever you like, but I recommend this kit.

This Saturday we will take a look at another 1:144 plane expansion from Zvezda and the day after tomorrow we will see another 15mm T-34. Since I have some time over the next days, I will prepare the next batch of posts for the coming weeks.
In the next days I will close this blog for some hours to do some maintenance and a decent redesign, but I will keep you informed about that.

But before this is happening, my mate Olli and I are going to play a little game of "TANKS The Modern Age" this afternoon, that battles report will get posted on Monday. While I made a small 101 pt. French list, I have no idea which nation will be my opponent.

(* Funfact: if you use privacy addons for your browser, you are invisible for that counter it and do not get counted.)