June 15, 2019

AMX-30 / AMX AUF1 Tank Expansion
TANKS The Modern Age
Team Yankee AMX 30 Tank Platoon

A closer look at the AMX-30/AMX AUF1 tanks expansion for "TANKS The Modern Age" by Galeforce 9. This game is a remake of ww2 "TANKS" with extended rules, and a spin-off of "Team Yankee". It contains a 1:100 model kit and some cards for the game.

First let us take a look at the plastic model kit that is included:

The kit comes in 2 green sprues containing enough parts to build either an AMX-30 or an AMX AUF1. Whatever you choose, there will be one complete turret left over for the bitsbox.
The kit came without any flaws. It is made in the same high quality as the other newer BM plastic kits I know. Neither sinkholes nor flash can be found on the sprue, a quick look offered that there are no ejector marks that would be seen when the kit is built.

After a look at the plastic, let us take a look at the cards which are included in this expansion. First there are the cards for the available units from this box:

The French AMX-30 offers with an Initiative of 6 and an Attack of 4 a solid base unit. Having an armour of 1 is ok, but only 5 hitpoints makes this one of the weakest battle tanks in the game. Sure, it is not the best tank in the game, but it is better than it may seem because of the AMX-30 special ability.
This tank is equipped with the "Rapid Fire" ability, granting this tank 5 dice against helicopters and unarmoured vehicles. For 13 points, this tank is a must-have for the French, even when there would be more battletanks to choose from.

The French AMX AUF1 is the only official artillery unit in the game. With a defense of 0 and only 3 hitpoints this thing is at the same level as most light tanks from the game. It has the lowest initiative in the game, with only 1 it moves first but shoots last what is a big disadvantage.
Its strenght is the "Artillery" ability, which lets it shoot over other tanks. "Brutal" is very useful too, it lets you change one hit to a critical hit.
With 10 points this unit is very cheap, but its usefulness may not be given in every game.

After a look at the units, let us see which other cards come with his game expansion:

There are 4 crewcards and one equipmentcard in this expanxion. First there are two French hero cards.

The commander "Paul Durand" adds 2 Initiative and 1 armourpoint. You also may place up to 2 tanks not before the game starts but in the first rounds repair phase. For 5 points this commander should join every French Platoon.
The gunner "Laurent Dyre" adds 2 Initiative during the attack phase, its special ability, just read it for yourself, is useful for any tank with a high Initiative. Pretty good for only 4 points.

The next 2 crewmembers are French use only and the new type of "Revealable" cards.
The "Charging Commander" adds for 3 points +1 initiative while the movement phase. When revealed, the tank gets +1 Armour for that round.
Next is the "Charging Driver" who adds +2 Initiative during the movement phase. When this card gets revealed, the tank gets the "Fast" ability for that round. This is a nice addition for only 3 points.

Last there is the "Bomblet Bombardment" for 4 points. Usable only for artillery tanks, it grants you an unmodified D3 attack versus the target tank and all other tanks in close range when discarded. This could be a big gamechanger, especially when combined with the "Artillery Observer" which is included in the AMX-10 expansion.

This expansion is solid, the model comes in a high quality and offers two choices to build. The units for the game are not bad, but I hope that GF9 will make more French battle tank expansions. The addition of the new French crewmembers with the "Charging" tag is nice, I will see how useful they are.
As usual, the only negative point on this model are missing crewmember figures, at least one figure would have been nice, and also there are no decals included.
The main battle tank costing only 13 points, makes me think that the French are a mass army compared to the USA or germany.

I got 2 AMX expansions, but only two of them are not enough for a good game, especially since they are not the best units available and they have a quite low cost of points, that is why I had to get some more AMX tanks trying to score victories by strenght in numbers. Getting a Leopard 2 or an M1A1 down one on one seems pretty impossible, but what if the ratio would be 3:1?

A closer look at the AMX-30 platoon for "Team Yankee" from Battlefront Miniatures. Team Yankee is a ww3 tabletopgame in 15mm/1:100 scale which uses the same models than "TANKS The Modern Age". That is why I choosed this box to improve my French tank platoon.

This box contains 5 AMX-30/AMX AUF1 sprues, which were already shown in this post.

Also included are some unitcards for "Team Yankee". At the moment they do not interest me, but since my mate Olli and I have rulebooks for the game, it is not impossible, that you may read some Team Yankee battlereports in the far future.

More interesting than the unitcards are the other things which came with this box.

First there is a small sprue with 6 tankcommander figures. It is made from the new plastic which is used for Battlefronts Miniatures figuresets. It feels minimal softer than resin or the Restic stuff used by Mantic.
This addition is very useful because the figures could be used for other nations.

Finally there is a small decalsheet with names for the tanks included. I did not test them, but I know, there are two different types of decals available from BM.
They are very thin and either they will need very long in the water, like the "Flames Of War" decals, or they need only a short period of watering before they can be applied, like their "Team Yankee" counterparts. No matter which type they are, all BF decals I used before were pretty fine even when sometimes it got tough to apply them properly.

I already started to work on the first tanks from these boxes.

On the picture you can see another bitsbox/3Dprint hybrid.
Due to the fact that I will get 7 spare turrets when I will have built all of one or the other AMX variants, I searched through Thingiverse, looking for possible spare parts and found this AMX AUF1 file.
Printing the hull took about 4 1/2 hours, but when it was finished, I saw that I will have to recallibrate the 3D printer since the surface details were not printed properly.
I can replace this anytime with a better print, but for now it is ok, I think the big turret distracts from the hull. The turret was magnetized using the method I used before.

I think I will print 3 more of these hulls, a platoon of 4 AMX AUF1, each under 20 points with useful equipment, may be pretty fragile, but with the right support units they may be a tough challenge.

A simple desert pattern was chosen, at least for the AUF1. The paintjob is not finished yet, there are some things left to do, highlights, decals, varnish, all that stuff.

All artillery units will get commander figures. To have something different, I used a "Flames Of War" tank commander with a French head with Kepi (also FOW), just  to let them look like the troops of the French Foreign Legion.

After I have uploaded the next closer look at the last remaining French expansion for "TANKS The Modern Age", after that and the first games using them I may write a post about the French forces for the Game. And since the amount of available choices for the Germans and French is very low, you may expect some more custom units for the game.

June 14, 2019

1:100 Master Modell
Avions Marcel Dassault

A closer look at the 1:100 Avions Marcel Dassault "Mercure" made by the German modelkit manufacturer Master Modell.
Initially released in 1975 by the East German Plasticart Zschopau, this kit was re-released from 1989 to 1991 by Master Modell. These and many more informations about this long gone manufacturer can be found on this homepage.

This is not the usual stuff on which I take a closer look, but when I saw a picture* of a scenery piece with a crashed passenger jet, I felt pretty inspired. I checked various sources to get the cheapest 1:100 civil airliner kit which I could find, to build a scenery piece for "TANKS The Modern Age".

I found this kit, even when I did find almost no informations about it. The linked homepage was the highlight from the search but the rest I got was pretty bad. This is a good reason for this mini review. 
Let us take a look at the parts which are included:

The main parts are moulded in white plastic, which is pretty sturdy and hard. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you may know that I am absolutely no aviation expert, but even I see the simplicity of this kit.
There are not much details, only some raised panel lines. I did not expect the quality of a modern Dragon or Revell kit, but building this as desired will take more efford than I tought.

The next sprue comes in a silverish grey plastic, not as hard as the white parts. It contains more parts to finish this model, among some others, the landing gear and the engines can be found. The grade of detail is low and most of the panel lines are raised just as on the other parts.

The next sprue comes in black plastic and contains all wheels for the landing gear. The detail is simple but at least they are round.

The final sprue includes all clear parts for the model. I am positively surprised by its quality, they are pretty clear, especially since today I unboxed another kit with many clear parts which are pretty milky.
Seems that there are some more closer looks incoming.

Beside the plastic there is a big decal sheet included. According to the Wikipedia article about the Dassault Mercure, it was used by only one airline (Air Inter) for which this sheet is included.
I can not say anything about the quality of East German decals, but to be honest, I do not expect much from them but I will see.

All in all, this is an old kit, compared to "west" modelkits from this time, I think this was never a great kit. On the other side, it is a relict from the past, made from a company in a country who both do not exist anymore.
I think with some work it will make a great scenery piece, combined with the planned new battlefield, this will not only be a fun to make but also an impressing piece of decoration.

This weekend I will continue my closer looking at French tank expansions for "TANKS The Modern Age", it took a little longer to prepare, I had to resupply my French forces, but there will be some "bonuscontent" included.

(* The picture which inspired me can be found in this video at Youtube at 15:30 right after the Boxer.)

June 9, 2019

First Planes Playtest

Finally I had the chance to make a first playtest of my custom (work in progress) planes expansion for TANKS by Galeforce 9. After I wrote the last post, I had a friend for visit and invited him to a small game of TANKS.

Luckily he has some experiences with the modern variant of TANKS, having been part of the battle at the Easter front.
I built 2 small platoons and set up an improvised playfield in my hobbyroom, made from a blanket and some pieces of styrofoam. Not the prettiest battlefield, but it is ok for this quick test. We decided against any crew or equipment cards to keep it simple.

My friend played the attacking forces. The German platoon included one Panther (A) and two Panzer IV, all made by the Plastic Soldier Company.
As new custom units he had a Ju 87 in 1:144 scale and a 3D printed SdKfz 7/1 for air defense. I think I did not show the halftrack in any post, the only thing I added after printing were some figures from the bitsbox.

The defending British platoon was played by me and included a Sherman Firefly from an old "Flames Of War" starterbox, and the Comet and Achilles tanks from the game expansions.
My new additional units were a Hawker Tempest in 1:144 scale and an 3D printed M17 halftrack for air defense.

A look at the battlefield before the game started. It looks pretty simply but I may build some snow covered scenery pieces (and wash the blanket) because I like this winter look.
By the way, today I won an ebay auction, when the thing arrives, a new battlefield for "TANKS The Modern Age" will be build soon, maybe usable for ww2 TANKS too.

Having only sightblocking elements and no cover pieces, the game would have a touch of an arena fight. The first two rounds were pretty unspectacular but it seemed that at least the movement rules for the planes would work as supposed.

Would work as supposed in future games. Experiences from this first game showed that a special movement template and its own movement arrow is needed for games using these new rules. Wish I would have built them before, following some older drawings in my notebook.
The selfmade bases were impractical, I already replaced them with bases matching to the standard "Flames Of War" flyerbases.

That the halftracked AA vehicles would work was pretty clear from the start of the game, Actually the only new thing to them was that they got an ability known from ww3 TANKS.
Giving them "Rapid Fire" was an easy solution for their arnament, a thing I had issues with from the beginning.

I think, at this point I should state out that most of the rules were written before "TANKS The Modern Age" hit the market, and even when I took some elements from the TANKS followup, most of the planes rules were written at least one year ago.

While the battle on the ground went as usual, we started to attack with our planes. Not only the equipped weapons were used, we also made some theoretical dice throws to test several variants of bombs and other stuff.
And this also worked almost as supposed.

The planes landed some hits and the AA halftracks gave their best to shoot them down. Since there are no effects for planes in the critical hits cards, we found a simple solution for this. A conversion list will be included in the actual rules addon.

And I think that we have found some good equipment pieces for planes, even some pilots and doctrines will be available. I do not want to spoiler this stuff but after my mate Olli and I discussed the pointcosts for the new stuff, it seems that a big part of this project is already done.

The game took about 2 hours, ending with a victory for the German troops. I decided that when all enemies ground units are lost, the game is over, no matter if there are enemy planes left or not.
Having planes available adds some new tactics and advantages to the game, even when this was a very first test it made fun.
And I learned a lot of things that will have to be included in the rules to make this whole as easy to understand as possible.
At the moment I think I am going to create units (for this expansion) only for plane models which I have in my collection, what means, the first edition of the planes expansion for TANKS will include 5 to 6 planes and other units, that at least each nation will get one new type of AA unit and plane available. There will be different planetypes available, but I will keep this for a future post.
Maybe some readers will allow me to use pictures of their plane models for new cards.

But since the expansion is just a fun project, it takes some time. Some more playtests will have to happen, the final costs for all the new cards will have fo be found, and than I can start to write the actual expansion.

Maybe some more units may find their way in future revisions, once all the digital work is done, it will be no big issue to create new cards for them.

June 6, 2019

Faces Of War (6)

More pictures from the African campain during ww2. My Grandfather made these pictures but I had no oportunity to speak with him about these pictures and the memories he had.
I do not exactly know where the signpost from the picture above was standing, but I found at least two more pictures of it while browsing through the net.

Seems like this was the signpost which stood at the Lybian Marble Arch, found on this picture, near Ra's Lanuf. AKG images has this picture from the signpost.

All of the pictures come from the first two posts of this series, the remaining pictures in these posts were digitalized in better quality, as also the pictures from the third "Faces Of War" post were.

I do not know if he was in the Luftwaffe, but a lot of the pictures show planes and stuff which belongs to them. It seems there is a repair crane or something like that on the pictures above, either the plane was scavenged for spareparts or it was repaired, who knows.

Creative Commons Lizenzvertrag

Dieses Werk ist lizenziert unter einer Creative Commons Namensnennung
 - Nicht kommerziell - Keine Bearbeitungen 4.0 International Lizenz. -

In the next post I will take a closer look at the French AMX10 expansion for "Tanks The Modern Age". It is possible that a playtest of the new custom rules for planes will happen tonight. Than that review will be the after next post, aehh, I mean that closer look.
While I ordered some more AMX 30 tanks, all French forces on my desk, including a new custom unit, got their basecoat of Army Painter Skeleton Bones, I think it is a nice basecolor for a desert scheme.
Actually I wanted to use some 3D printed stencils from Thingiverse for their camouflage pattern, but I decided against it, a quick test showed that they did not work as supposed at least in 15mm scale.