Monday, September 30, 2013

"Leopard 4A2" 15mm sci-fi tank conversion

So, every 15mm army needs armour, right? And I was looking for something different (and let's face it, cheap) for my new 15mm NAC force. The infantry already roll around in modern Fuchs APCs made by a company called Siku, who happen to make a 1/100 die cast model of the Leopard 2. Can you feel the stars aligning here? I went on eBay and found the best deal on the Siku Leopards (turned out to be from a German seller on, 8 euro each plus 9 more for postage) and a couple weeks later, they arrive.

...and after judicious application of wire antennae, plasticard bits and random metal junk, here they are.

The canisters on the turret side and the other metal bits are from Rebel Miniatures.

The greeblies on the hull rear match those on the APCs. Anti-personnel mines maybe?

I cut plasticard strips, then scored them with v-shaped cuts. The idea was to suggest some futuristic kind of explosive reactive armour or suchlike. Plus it breaks up the recognizable "Leopard" silhouette a bit.

Here it is with some figures. The Leopard model scales out at exactly 1/100 so is at least notionally suitable for the figures. I'll be basing the tanks to match the APCs so the completed model will be a bit taller.

Stay tuned for further painting updates!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

2013-14 40K Beer League – Chapter 1: The Arrival

The entire Ork Empire of Octarius has been nearly consumed by the countless waves of Tyranids that have descended since the Hive Fleet’s arrival. The outer planets of the Empire have been reduced to barren wastelands devoid of any life; every morsel of Ork organics annihilated down to the last spore. The war has pushed closer and closer to the capitol region where the Orks have formed their last stand while the tendrils of the alien invasion grow stronger.

Then there was the day a warp storm appeared along the outer rim of the Empire. Alongside the storm, a massive fleet of Imperial Space Marines emerged with their sights set on the extermination of all Xenos in the Sector. The Orks and Tyranids turned their attention to this new enemy and began to mobilize their forces to make sure the fleet would not get any further into the Empire. After all, if the Space Marines made it to the Octarius War battlefront, both the Ork and Tyranid forces would be eliminated. But as the Xenos approached the outer rim to meet the Angels of Death, two more enemies appeared. With the arrival of all these forces, the planets along the outer rim of Octarius became host to new battlefronts and what would become a massive war.

Last week I played my first game of the new season of the Winnipeg Warhammer 40K Beer League.
Host: DaveV (me)
I fielded the following semi-mechanized Eldar force, "Asurmen's Academy" (1000 points):

  • HQ - Spiritseer (“Speaker for the Dead”); Warlord Trait = The Dust of a Thousand Worlds
  • Troops - 5 Wraithguard; Wave Serpent transport (Holo-fields; TL- Scatter Lasers)
  • Troops - 5 Dire Avengers; Wave Serpent (Holo-fields; TL- Scatter Lasers)
  • Troops - 5 Dire Avengers; Wave Serpent (Holo-fields; TL- Bright Lances)
  • Fast Attack - 5 Warp Spiders
  • Heavy Support - Night Spinner artillery tank (Crystal Targeting Matrix)
Guest: JordanN
Jordan fielded a strong Chaos Space Marines force, the "Cult of Eternal Word" (999 points):

  • HQ - Sorcerer; plasma pistol; Sigil of Corruption; Psyker (Mastery Level 3); Veterans of the Long War
  • HQ - Warpsmith
  • Elites - 8 Chosen; Power Maul; power axe; power fist; Veterans of the Long War; Chaos Rhino (dirge caster)
  • Troops - 10 Chaos Cultists: Cultist Champion (shotgun); 8× autogun; heavy stubber
  • Troops - 5 Chaos Space Marines: melta bombs; flamer; Chaos Rhino
  • Troops - 10 Chaos Space Marines: Aspiring Champion (melta bombs); Lightning Claw; 7× close combat weapon; 2 x meltagun; Chaos Rhino
  • Heavy Support - 1 Obliterator: Mark of Nurgle; Veterans of the Long War

Beer (we started by splitting La Fin du Monde):

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From the briefing package:

This is a 1000 point game for two players. Both players will add units to their Cores until they form a 1000 point army list that follows the standard rules for Force Organization.

In this game, the different Factions are attempting to establish a position on the battlefront while discovering that the former battlefields from the War of Octarius are littered with non-organic resources that were ignored by Tyranid harvesting.

This game is intended for 4’ x 4’ table. Terrain suggestions include rocky pieces, craters, debris, and anything that looks like a former battle scene on a barren, lifeless planet.

Divide the table into four quarters. Players must then alternate placing markers until a total of six markers have been placed. A marker must be placed in each quarter, then the two remaining markers placed where the players wish, ensuring that no quarter contains more than two markers. The markers must be placed a minimum of 6” from a table edge and 9” from another marker. Note that these markers are not objectives, they are Resource Markers.

Once the markers have been placed, players will roll off to determine sides using the Dawn of War Deployment Map as described on page 119 of the Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook.

Players deploy as on page 121 of the Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook. No models may be placed within 1” of a Resource Marker.

The player who deployed his army first goes first unless his opponent can Seize the Initiative (page 122).

This Mission uses Variable Game Length (page 122).

At the end of the game, the player who controls more table quarters wins the game. If players control the same number of table quarters, the game is a draw. A player controls a table quarter by having at least one scoring unit completely within the boundaries of a quarter, and no enemy denial units completely in that same quarter. To be completely within a quarter, a unit must have all of its bases fully within the quarter boundaries.

However, if one player concedes the battle or his entire army is wiped out, the game ends and his opponent is awarded a victory. Likewise, if at the end of any game, one player has no models on the battlefield, his opponent automatically wins.

Note that Faction Point and Resource Point accumulation is independent of the Victory Conditions. The criteria for accumulating these points do not fall within the definition of ‘Controlling Objectives’.

At the end of the game, players will earn 1 FP for each of their scoring or denial units with at least one model in their enemy’s deployment zone.

Throughout the game, players will earn 3 RP for each Resource Marker they collect. A player can collect a Resource Marker by having a model from one of their scoring or denial units end its movement in base contact with the marker during their Movement Phase. Once a Resource Marker has been collected, it is removed from the table.


Reading the above, it rapidly became clear that the Victory Conditions, Resource Points and Faction Points are unrelated to each other. One could obtain all the available RPs or FPs and still lose the game.

Jordan won the roll for table sides. He chose the northern table edge. I won the roll to choose whether to go first or second. I chose to go second.

Jordan hid the Cultists and Obliterator behind the shipping containers to the northwest, and deployed the Warpsmith in a Rhino with 5 Marines between the containers and the junk yard. The other two units could infiltrate. In response, I set up everything in a loose line, anchoring the left flank with the Night Spinner. I was hoping to push back the infiltrators' deployment the full 18 inches away, and to the west. I would probably lose the Night Spinner early, but I planned to push everything into the northeast table quarter, and try to gain max Faction Points for the Craftworld Eldar faction. In retrospect, this use of the Night Spinner as a target was an error. The Wave Serpents are very resilient, and I think I could have left the Night Spinner in reserve, counting on my transports' Serpent Shields and Holo-fields to keep them alive for the first turn.

Below you can see the situation just before the game's start, looking north. The two infiltrating Rhinos were indeed deployed to the west. The Sorcerer was deployed to the far west, with the Chosen. Various 40mm round counters can be seen scattered about; these were the Resource Markers.

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The Chaos forces made a general advance, seizing Resource Markers as they went. The Sorcerer used the Puppet Master psychic power to make my Night Spinner use its Torrent on a couple of my other tanks; luckily, no damage. The Obliterator managed a lucky lascannon shot and blew it up, hence the "Destroyed - Explodes" marker below.

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The Eldar moved off to the northeast. Their fire destroyed the Warpsmith's Rhino APC, forcing the infantry to disembark.

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The two remaining Chaos Rhinos moved east to engage my forces, rather than to try for table quarters. Jordan's list was designed to kill things. They immobilized the Bright Lance Wave Serpent. The Spiritseer and some Dire Avengers disembarked to get close to the Wraithguard.

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The Sorcerer tried to use Puppet Master on the Warp Spiders, but they managed to shrug off the power, making their 1 in 6 odds "Deny the Witch" save.

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A close range firefight ensued. Most of a disembarked  Dire Avenger squad and a Chaos Marine squad went down. The Spiritseer attached herself to the Wraithguard. The Eldar shot into the Warpsmith's squad, but they rolled hot cover saves, leaving most of them alive. The Chaos Marines then assaulted the immobilized Eldar tank, destroying it with grenades.

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The Chaos forces concentrated flamer and gun fire onto the Wraithguard. I rolled a bunch of "1's" for armour saves, losing the last blue armoured Avenger and three(!) Wraithguard. At this point I figured the game was lost. However, it's not over until it's over!

The surviving Wraithguard and the Spiritseer kept moving north, to gain the Chaos deployment zone and try and score some Faction Points. Mass fire wiped out the Warpsmith and his squad.

The Chaos Sorcerer and the Chosen moved off in different directions. The Chosen moved east to engage the Wraithguard, while the Sorcerer moved south to join the much reduced Marine Squad, to bolster their strength. This may have been an error. Focused fire from the other Avenger squad (who had dismounted to the south) and the Warp Spiders wiped out the Sorcerer and his ersatz unit. Other fire reduced the Chosen down to four men.

In the photo below, the Cultists can be seen in the distance running south, to take the southwest table quarter. The elf spear man figure below is a marker representing the Psychic power Conceal, which the Spiritseer cast to help protect her unit.

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At this point we were tied, 1 table quarter each with one contested. We rolled for game's end, but we got another turn.

The remaining Chosen needed to roll a "10", on the lowest 2 of 3 dice (due to bad going) to get into contact with the Spiritseer's unit. They rolled exactly a "10", and subsequently wiped out my Core with Power Axe and Power Fist. The two remaining Rhinos reduced my last Dire Avenger unit down to 3 men. In return, the sole remaining Warp Spider moved into the southwest quarter to contest it, and Eldar tank fire broke the Cultists, who ran back north.

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The Eldar were now winning by one table quarter. We rolled again for random game length, and we  were forced to play a 7th and final turn.

The Cultists rallied and shot the last Warp Spider down. The Chosen destroyed the northernmost Eldar tank in close combat. The Obliterator moved, but could not quite reach the southeast table quarter to contest it. In the last three turns, the Obliterator (BS4) missed with its shooting, every time. The Rhinos failed to tank shock, or to even wound the Dire Avengers with their bolters.

The last Eldar tank moved up to the Cultists, and fired everything it had (Scatter Lasers, Shuriken Catapults, and Energy Shield); IIRC it inflicted 10 or 11 wounds on the 4 hapless Cultists, who were swept away, despite going to ground...

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Below shows the final positions of our respective forces. All the Eldar had left on the table were 3 Dire Avengers and a single tank. The Chaos forces consisted of 4 Chosen, the Obliterator, and two Chaos Rhinos (which cannot contest table quarters).

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Result: Eldar Win

Chaos Space Marine Table Quarters: 0
Eldar Table Quarters: 1

Chaos Space Marine RP's: 12
Eldar RP's: 3

Chaos Space Marine FP's: 0
Eldar FP's: 0

It was a tense, close game, full of outlier die rolls. Once my initial plan was ruined, it was a challenge to try and salvage something. The firepower of the Wave Serpent is awesome; you just have to try and pick the right times to fire off their energy shield, otherwise they may be left too vulnerable to return fire.

Thanks again to Jordan for such a fun game!

Wings of Glory - The Hun Attack!

Last Thursday night's game was the latest in our long-running Wings of Glory/Wings of War campaign. The game was still set in 1916, pitting men and machines of the French Army Air Service (Aéronautique Militaire) against those of the Imperial German Flying Corps (Die Fliegertruppen des deutschen Kaiserreiches).

From the last game, the German's had their choice of three scenarios for this mission. They chose scenario 3a. modified as follows:

Mission 3a: Hold the Line: With key targets and locations located in the last mission, HQ has ordered the air service to clear the skies while the ground troops make an advance on them..

Type: Dogfight

Victory Conditions: Mission Points. At the end of the sortie, the side that has the most victories wins the mission.

Fallback: Mission 1

Setup: Mission should be played length wise on a 4’x6’ table. The Attackers  have an 18 inch deployment zone and the defenders have a 30 inch deployment zone. This leaves 24 inches of No-man’s Land. Both sides must start the sortie with their planes inside their deployment zones in a loose formation no more than a ruler length between panes..

Below, Conscripts Frederick. Bill and Kevin (not pictured) played Die Fliegertruppen, setting up three Albatross DIIIs in the left (eastern) section of the table.

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We had an odd number of players, so I stepped out of the campaign organizer role to assist Jim and Byron, flying a trio of Aéronautique Militaire Nieuport 17s. The planes can be seen angling southeast towards the three German machines...

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Up until that point I thought that this was going to be a canny game of maneuver. However, the opposing forces ended up flying straight at each other in a no-deflection exchange of machine gun fire.

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The first two phases after initial contact, my camouflaged Nieuport managed two heavy bursts against a couple of German aircraft. After the game, I found out that these close-range bursts had inflicted like 8 or 9 damage points to each plane!

However, the Germans gave as good as they got, damaging my plane severely. I Immelmanned back and went for Bill, who put in the finishing blow, sending my aircraft down  into No Man's land.

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Jim made a wide loop to the south and west. Meanwhile, Byron got caught in a squeeze play between Frederick and Kevin, and was soon shot down.

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Jim got back into the fight. His rudder got jammed by enemy fire, so he was forced to go head to head against Frederick. They shot each other out of the air - Jim's French plane also fell into the mud of No Man's Land, and Frederick's Albatross disappeared in a  ball of flame!

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The takeaways from this fight? Maneuver to take shots on enemy planes from their rear; trading head-on shots leads to more pain than it's worth.

All the pilots who got shot down drew cards to see how badly wounded they were. Frederick's pilot, due to the nature of the incident, had a very high chance of dying outright.

Campaign Standings:

From Thursday's Game:

  • Bill: one sortie flown, one victory (DaveV), still suffering from the effects of 2 wounds received in Mission 1 = 1 victory, 2 campaign points
  • Frederick's Flight Leader: one sortie flown, one victory (Byron), 1 shared victory (Jim), shot down in No Man's Land (suffered 4 wounds but managed to evade capture) = 3 1/2 victories, 15 campaign points
  • Kevin: one sortie flown, 1 shared victory (Jim) = 1/2 victory, 3 campaign points
  • Byron: one sortie flown, shot down in No Man's Land (suffered 3 wounds but managed to evade capture) = -3 campaign points
  • Jim: one sortie flown, 1 victory (Frederick), shot down in No Man's Land (unwounded and managed to evade capture) = 1 victory, 1 campaign point


  • Brian: 1 victory, 5 campaign points
  • Indo: 1 victory, 5 campaign points
  • MikeA: -3 campaign points
  • Frederick's wing man: 4 campaign points

If any pilot  manages to reach 5 victories (Frederick's Flight Leader is close with 3 1/2), he will become an Ace, and then be entitled to gain Ace Skills, special skills that functionally break the rules of the game (that is, to ignore some weapon jams, ignore certain damage effects, etc.). Double aces will get to choose another skill, or potentially upgrade an existing skill.

With 15 pilot points, Fredericks' lead pilot is also 5 points away from possibly winning the Knight's Cross.

The Germans currently have the advantage. Can they keep up their momentum?

15mm StuGs from Plastic Soldier Company

15mm StuGs from Plastic Soldier Company
The WW2 painting table blowout continues.  Here are two 15mm German StuG assault guns - I think "F" variant, but I'm not 100% on my "StuGology" - with 75mm guns.  The vehicles are from the Plastic Soldier Company.
Top view of one of the models

My 15mm German WW2 collection is laughably heavy on the panzers, but shamefully lacking in vehicles like these, so it's good to start balancing things out a bit. StuGs were a very common part of German tank destroyer units in the various infantry and Panzer grenadier divisions.  They manufactured a lot of them (and I'm likely understating that) and the vehicle's silhouette is synonymous with the Second World War.
Random green cammo pattern to match my other panzers

These Plastic Soldier Company models are very nice - decent price, lots of options - and five per box! You can have a whole battery of these things ready to roll in pretty short order. But I have to say I still prefer the heavier models by Battlefront and others. 

Hmmm...something odd about the wheel assembly on this one...what did you do there Greg?
Why Battlefront (or others) over PSC? I like the vehicles to have some heft, and I also prefer models with very crisp detail on the casting.  And one piece track assembly!! I dislike lots of assembly. I'm not saying every Battlefront tank model is easier to work with (again, whoever thought up the plastic schurzen for Battlefront's current late model Mark IVs should be caned), but overall they are still a lot easier for me to build than the PSC vehicles.

The other flaw I find with the PSC models is that the detail is very very soft.  It is much harder to pick out, say, the tow cables and stowage that is cast on to the hull of a 15mm PSC tank.  When I spray a base colour on to the model for the first go, the detail softens even more and is easily lost.

But that's just me, and I'm grouchy.  I'm not here to tell you to avoid PSC - quite the contrary! You should absolutely go nuts and by their stuff! They offer good service and a great way to build up an armoured force very quickly.

Ready for Eastern Front doom
And even though I'm an inept modeller (see if you can spot the StuG in which I put both idlers on one side and both drive sprockets on the other side! GREAT work Greg, you dunce!)  they turned out well-enough to deploy on the table and get overrun in a game sometime soon.

I still have three more kits from the box.  They will wait for me refill my too-small reservoir of modelling patience before I take a crack at them, while I look online for other StuG alternatives :)

Monday, September 23, 2013

More 15mm WW2 Soviets

15mm "Strelkovy" Platoon from Battlefront
I'm continuing to clear 15mm WW2 material from the painting pile.  Here are some more 15mm WW2 Soviets I wrapped up over the weekend.  The figures are all from Battlefront. There is a rifle platoon and a bunch of 82mm mortars.

"Pumpkin-faced" NCO on this base...

The Infantry platoon is comprised of a command stand, seven rifle stands (four of them with LMGs) and a stand of SMGs.  I don't think I was supposed to end up with a stand of SMGs, and if I had thought this through a little more clearly before gluing things to bases, I believe I could have had eight or even nine rifle stands...anyways...

For the Motherland! Rifle/MG teams for the Eastern Front
Here is the lone SMG stand...which I don't think I was supposed to end up with...
I think this might represent one platoon for Flames of War, which is not very much, particularly for the Russians.  For Spearhead it would represent the bulk of a rifle battalion (adding a mortar and a HMG to make it a complete battalion).  Again, for the Russians, not very much...but it is starting to add up.  I have a total of 27 rifle/MG stands painted for my WW2 Soviets now - about half of what I would like to have.

Ready for bombardment...

There are eight 82mm mortars in the package from Battlefront. It also came with a command stand, but I have so many of those stupid things I didn't bother painting it up.

82mm mortar teams from Battlefront

I think this would represent two mortar platoons in Flames of War - enough to keep some German heads down.  For Spearhead purposes, where each base would represent a platoon, this is a health pile of 82 mortars, probably enough to fill out an entire rifle brigade, which would have 82mm mortars attached to each battalion, with another group of them horded together in some kind of mortar battalion.

I don't know the FOW mortar rules very well, but I'm thinking these guys could really paste a target
I just wish the mortar platoon pack would have come with an observer team...oh well.

Up next is...who knows? Probably more WW2 stuff....

Friday, September 20, 2013

Some 15mm WW2 Soviet Stuff

15mm T-34s from the Plastic Soldier Company
 And now over to some more 15mm WW2 stuff - Russian WW2 stuff.  This is a mix of items, 45mm AT guns from Battlefront and T-34s from the Plastic Soldier Company.

These turrets can be switched out to make the tank into a T-34/76

While I am laughably unable to ever get the treads to connect properly, overall I find the T-34 models from Plastic Soldier Company to be easy to assemble and paint. I really like the option for the turrets. The price is very reasonable.  I got the "Battalion" deal, so I still have many, many, many more of these tanks to paint.

Six tanks painted - another 15 to go (!)

The Battlefront AT guns were not too bad to assemble - you can see I struggled with the gun shield on one of them. Crowding them on the medium Flames of War base was a little tricky but overall they turned out OK.  I was struck by the resemblance these weapons have to the early war German AT guns - but I understand these are in fact based on that design (maybe even manufactured under some kind of license or something)? At any rate, they will come in handy on the table.

Soviet WW2 AT gun battery - I think they are 45mm guns...

While I actually enjoyed our recent Flames of War game, my goal is actually to get a huge pile of this stuff done to play games of Spearhead in 15mm. Spearhead is an excellent set of division-level rules, with each base or vehicle model representing a platoon of men or vehicles, or a battery of guns. 

So I screwed up that one gun shield on the right pretty badly
I have played Spearhead for many years now using 6mm figures, but I've tried it a few times in 15mm and it is a little easier on the eyes without sacrificing too much in terms of the look vs. ground scale. I am aiming to get enough stuff painted to do some of the scenarios from the Spearhead scenario book "Where the Iron Crosses Grow".

These other ones turned out better...

The first scenario I am targeting - "The Devil's Cauldron" - has 101 pieces (either tanks or infantry stands etc) for the Russians.  I'm at 54 pieces painted so far, so almost half-way there.  Still need to add bits like heavy mortars and 76mm guns, and of course many, many more tanks and infantry stands. But in the interim, if we do another Flames of War game, the Russian side will have a growing stash of kit to build on. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

15mm Battle Report - Control Battalion vs. GZG NAC

A couple weeks back we played an enjoyable game using our house rules, "Red Storm!", updated for use in a sci-fi setting. Greg brought out his awesome "Control Battalion" army and I used some new figures I had gotten from a German TMP member - some very nicely painted GZG NAC and APCs - along with a few I painted especially for the game. The action centred around a sludge production facility on (where else) Toxo IV....

A team of NAC engineers started the game at the sludge plant. Their goal was to retrieve the production data slates and take them off board. I guess the wi-fi was down - but why would they have that giant dish??

The engineer figures are from Rebel Miniatures and their transport is actually a repainted Matchbox vehicle found at Wal-Mart :-)

The rest of the NAC force arrived in transports (mildly converted 1/87 "Fuchs" APCs from Siku). Their goal was to protect the engineers from the approaching Control Battalion forces and facilitate their escape off-table.

NAC transports approach the sludge plant.

But Control Battalion has gotten there first! Cleverly, they fire on and destroy the engineers' transport.

As the engineers scramble to retrieve the data slates, the supporting NAC force hurriedly deploys. A Control tank has just destroyed one of their transports.

View from the Control side. Riflethings are taking cover in the cactus while their armour lights up the helpless softskin truck...

... then blows sky high! What happened??

It was Brian's cleverly deployed NAC heavy weapons team. Brian turned out to be the star general of this game. After dropping off its section, his transport cruised around for a bit, then positioned itself to retrieve the retreating engineers and secure a NAC victory. But we're getting ahead of ourselves a bit...

The situation at the sludge plant. Control has broken through the perimeter and the NAC tries desperately to stem the tide. The few surviving engineers are in full flight.

Brian's section moves up to provide fire support.

Endgame. Brian's APC has made its way to the ad-hoc rendezvous point to pick up the engineers and data slates. Control has been pinned in the middle due to some hot fire from NAC anti-tank weapons.

The APC high-tails it with its iron-ring wearing passengers ;-)

Quite a fun game - thanks to Greg for bringing his awesome Control guys and to the lads for coming out. I'm becoming more a convert to individually based 15mm figures with each game we play...