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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Iron Maiden: The Unboxing and Playing

As I was writing all those articles on the “Iron Maiden” release, I also volunteered to do the “unboxing”; not just because I wanted to write more about the subject, but to feed my desire to play with this new and interesting faction for Team Yankee. As some of you know from reading the past articles I penned on the Brits; I have always felt that this new force will change how the game is played. The forces in IM gives the player some really good infantry and a cheap but deadly main battle tank that can hold its own on the game table.

The Chief
I was able to get a hold of this box set that has 5 Chieftain Tanks and 2 Lynx helicopters. The box also comes with the new mini rule book witch is better made than the V3 FoW mini-rulebook, it will not snap its spine when you open it. 

Having made a Chieftain during the roll out event without instructions I found making them with the guide was a snap. Even the baskets on the sides of the turret fit right into a groove and you do not have to worry about misplacing them. One decision you will have to make is to use the regular or Stillbrew turret. While I love using magnets to swap things like this out, this kit does not give you the parts to do that; with only one cannon and one set of baskets available. I decided to use the Stillbrew turret for uniformity and for the fact that it not only looks a bit better, but it is also not that noticeable to the untrained.

Two things that will slow down your speed building of this model; the first is the cupola machine gun, which is just ripe to get ripped off the tank unless you are careful. The other is the side skirts, they seemed to go on at a slight angle and this is something you will have to play with to get it just right. Based on the pictures I checked out on the Chief, the actual side skirts so somewhat taper in the rear. The only real “complaint” I could think of is the commander who sits in the open cupola.  They seem to be at a larger scale and some of the included commanders will only fit in the turret at an angle. They also leave little logical room for the HMG, unless you want your crewman hugging the gun awkwardly.

As easy as the Chieftain was to build the FV432 gives you a bit more of a challenge. I picked up an extra box of these guys because my force need them and now I can say there is one model I had building more than the BMP. With this difficulty, I can claim some good news; the kit gives you the ability to build the IFV version, the mortar carrier, and of course the Swingfire version. Knowing I will need two of these versions (not a fan or arty in TY), I was able to make a few of my models “modular” by putting a big magnet on the bottom of the chassis, and placing small magnets on the rear hatch, mortar, or Swingfire turret.

 Big magnet on the chassis floor, then apply magnets to the Swingfire turret and hatch

And the mortar team gets one too!

For the mortar, I sanded down the bottom and placed the magnet in the middle and then glued the two crewmen to the base of the mortar.  With two mortar men hugging the gun in an almost obscene way, so on two of the 4 mortars I only used one crewmember. The large magnet holds either the hatch or turret down without any problems.  One thing you have to forgo with the mortar carrier is the pieces for the open hatch; if you use them, you will never get the closed hatch or Swingfire turret on the model.  I only made 5 of the 15 FV432s with the magnets since the bulk of these guys will carry around my infantry.  Speaking of which, the Irish Guards formation I plan to run uses a lot of these guys, HQ uses one, an infantry platoon with the extra Milan team needs 5 each, and the Milan platoon will need two, so that is 13 right off the bat.  I did make the other two dedicated Swingfire vehicles, so I hope that they release a single sprue for the FV432, so I can take a full complement of 3 Swingfires.

Cut the hatch open and glue the "modded" mortar crew inside 

The model itself comes in more pieces than it should and for some reason, as the glue dried, some of the roofs of the vehicles became uneven and left a little gap on one of the sides on a few of my models. I also thought that like the Chieftain, the crewman did not fit so well in the open cupola. It also made the GPMG tough to fit in and I did not use the MGs on some of the vehicles where I had a commander popping out. Much like the BMPs, having so many similar models makes for a bland sight on the table, so I took some of the stowage from the Chieftain kit and placed them on the FV432. I also split open one of the hatches, clipped the mortar shell out of the hands of the crewman and made one model with an open top with two infantryman sticking out for a variation.

The Rapier
While I was getting ready to paint the infantry I received my box of Rapiers in the mail. You need to take these guys, they are simply the best AAA in the game.  With a range of 64”, RoF 3, and a FP of 3+, this unit will wipe the skies of enemy jets and choppers, so you must protect them. The most you can ever take is 4 for total of 6 points and it’s a steal. The models themselves were simple to build and come in resin. The box I got only had 4 of the 8 required side skirts, and they all were for the same side, so my models do not have them. I used magnets for the missile assembly so they can rotate, however even without them I think the fit is tight and these babies will stay in place.

The Painting
First of all I loved the sprays for the Soviets and West Germans, but I ended going through 2-3 cans each which raised the costs of these forces.  Having seen the models at the IM rollout in October, I had a good idea of what the basecoat spray looked like and realized that the cans of Rust-oleum Army Green was a dead on match.

 With Basecoat

After I sprayed the models I applied a healthy coat of CGR Painters “Magic Mudd” wash (Editor: Which they STOPPED MAKING!?!?), which darkened the color as well as gave the model some depth. After this dried I decided to use Vallejo “German Grey” over the recommended Worn Rubber (Black Grey).  I saw very little difference in these two colors when I put them on the model, maybe the German Grey was a bit lighter.

Once the wash dried, I gave the model a dry brushing of German Camo Beige. I thought of using Grey-Green, but the lighter color really made the details of the model stand out.  Once that was done I painted the details on the Chieftain using Khaki-Grey for the barrel jacket, Gunmetal Grey for the MG, and Flat Earth for the tracks. After this I hit the barrel with another coat of dark wash.

The FV432 has less detail, and I painted the exhaust pipe on the left side of the vehicle in Hull Red.
Decals; well I saw that BF had different sets of decals for the Chieftains, however I seemed to have gotten the same ‘A” version in all of my boxes. It still was enough to give 10 of my 11 tanks unique decals.  I thought the article BF put out on the site was a great guide. With 15 FV432s in the assembly and the fact that 5 of them were “modular’, I decided to use the decals meant for the mortars to fit out those IFVs. As a final touch, I took the tank names from my British Great War decal sets and put them on a few of the Chieftains.

For the unboxing Battlefront sent me a British Infantry box and a blister of Milans which you will need to get. The box has all you need to fill two platoons of Irish Guards with the command and command support SF GPMG teams. The Milan blister comes with 10 teams which is enough for the 2 Milan teams assigned to each of the infantry platoons and if you take the full 4-team Milan support platoon. If I was to run a full Airmobile formation I would need to get another blister, however I doubt I will ever run that list in full.

I hate painting infantry with camo and I tried to put off painting these guys as long as I could. I didn’t want to have to buy the British Paint set that came out for Iron Maiden (less $$ for tanks) and I found that colors like Maverick Khaki were hard to match with the Vallejo paints I had in stock. Even in looking on Battlefront’s web site could not give me the translations I needed so I hit the web for some help. This search got me even more confused and it seems everyone had a unique way of painting DPM. I decided to use, Leather Brown, Military Green and Dark Sand were the original colors recommended in the painting instructions from IM.

I first applied a base coat of Rust-oleum Army Green and have the figures a wash with Delvin Mud.  I then used a combo of Leather Brown, Military Green and Dark Sand for the main parts of the uniform and then used a small amount of black for some highlight.  I did the weapons and boots in black and the gaiters in US Army Drab. The webbing was done with Khaki Grey and the rifle slings I used Buff.  Weapons such as the Carl Gustav, LAWS and Milan were done in Reflective Green. After this I bushed on some Minwax stain and let the figures dry.


As I split up the figures before basing them I noticed that some stands will have the same figures as others since the box set has a limited variety of sculpts.  As I put this together I thought I was missing figures, however the SF GPMG team only has 3 figures on a stand. After I sorted out this force I color coded each platoon and placed a radio operator and a unique bush on what are going to be my command teams.

I like the way they came out, and I have to say this pattern of camo is the hardest to recreate on a figure, much more of a challenge than my Waffen-SS posed a few years ago.

Chief in Action
I was fortunate to have the time to paint up 7 Chieftains and 2 Swingfire FV432s for a game within a week I got the kits.  On 11 November I met up with Jorge Durzen and Peter Baysdell at Huzzah Hobbies for a game to demonstrate Team Yankee. Both of these guys were happy to have the chance to try out the new force on a table for the first time. While I wanted to play with my new toys, I let Peter push the Chieftains around the table, since he is a dedicated player of British forces in Flames of War. The 7 Stillbrew Chief’s and the 2 Swingfire carriers came to 63 points; Jorge took a bit of a larger force of West German Leopard II’s and support assets, and I made a huge 140 point Soviet list. 

After I went over the rules changes with Jorge and Pete we did a Fair Fight mission with all of our forces on the table. Pete’s love of the British also effects his play style, he is not one to be overly aggressive and come right at you with his force. In this game he left that to me and deployed his forces in good fields of fire where they would take on the bulk of my T-72s.

You would figure that a running fight between 7 Chieftains and 21 T-72s would be over quickly. It wasn’t and the basic math bears that out, Pete was not moving and getting 14 shots from cover hitting me on 3+, the terrain limited the movement of my force and I was still getting a bunch of shots at his tanks, however they were hitting on 5+.  I was able to destroy one of his tanks in the first turn, but the return fire, as I detail above was deadly and would have been worse if Pete did not roll a bunch of 1’s on his firepower rolls.

While said he didn't read every one of my IM articles, I did notice how he treated his tanks like tank destroyers which is something I mentioned in a post. After a few turns my decimated T-72s were able to out flank one of his platoons and I knocked one out and weakened the other. I did kill one of the Swingfires with the other getting stuck in the woods. While that battle raged, by BMP/Infantry horde push was less than decisive and I was able to knock out Jorge’s Gepards, however my infantry was stopped cold in front of his Leo II tanks. We ended up calling the game since I just not have the forces to carry on the fight.  Plus the whole reason we played was to introduce new players to Team Yankee, so our mission was accomplished.

Soviets come hard

So what did I think of the Chief?  Well if you play with them you are going to have decide between mobility or firepower since the RoF goes down when you move. If you feel lucky, you can try to do Blitz and Follow-Me moves to reposition your force, but eventually you will have to move and live with the reduced RoF. After the game all of us agreed that adding the Stillbrew was not a factor, and by taking the stock version you can add at least one more Chieftain. So while my dream list only had 7 of these guys in my force, I soon realized that you should have at least 10 or 11 of these guys on your list.  10 Chieftains comes to 3 platoons and 60 points and is a good buy. The Swingfire platoon could not score a hit and I blame bad rolling for that. They were able to get some shots at long range, but when you close in on them they have to run. Return fire on them was a problem, they remain Gone to Ground when they shoot, so they were a constant 6 to hit when concealed.

With only a British vs Soviet fight in the bank, I did wonder if that force would do as well vs. the American’s or West German’s. While this is only a speculation, but I think that if the British force had some sizable infantry they would fare very well in a Blue on Blue matchup.

Chiefs and Leos
What’s Left?
Right now I have 4 sprues of Lynx helicopters which I decided to put off for now since I will not be using them in my force. I will try to build one and share its unboxing with you, however right now I do not need them and the only place the rotors will not break is on the sprue. I am also waiting for my Scorpion/Scimitar and Spartan boxes which are due to be released soon.   I may get more FV432s, so I can field a full Swingfire troop or maybe some mortars.

Final, after dull coat 
So having played with the tanks, and looking at what I have, I decided to change my planned 100 point list.  The big change was adding more Chieftains, at 6 points these tanks are too good to pass up in mass.
So here is my planned 100 point force based on what I have on hand or have pre-ordered.
Formation 1: Tank Company
HQ:    1 x Chieftain (6 Points)
Plt 1:  3 x Chieftain (18 Points)
Plt 2:  3 x Chieftain (18 Points)
Plt 3:  3 x Chieftain (18 Points)
Support: 2 X Swingfire (4 Points)
Formation total: 64 points

Yes this is a lot of points, but I get 10 Chieftains! I also decided to forgo the Stillbrew which would have cost me another 10 points in total. I feel more shots downrange beats the extra point of protection.

Formation 2: Infantry Company
Hq:    1 x Cmd SLR team (1 Point)
Plt 1: 1x Full platoon with 2 x Milan teams (9 Points)
Plt 2: 1x Full platoon with 2 x Milan teams (9 Points)
Support: 4 x Milan teams (4 Points)
Formation total: 23 Points
I feel this force can hold any objective or fight an enemy off of theirs. So far my list is 87 points and looks pretty good.

Division Support
Rapier Section: 4 x Rapier mobile launchers (6 Points)
Total force: 93 points

Now here is where I get stuck.  I wanted to be able to field a recce formation as well, I love that spearhead move they get which is a game changer in some missions and having that Striker troop would be nice.  However with 7 remaining points this will not happen.  I still have options in taking recce, since either of my formations can take them, or I can take them in Divisional Support.  With the morale rules as they are, I think it’s better to take a platoon of 4 and after a lot of debate I decided to go with the Scimitar.  The Scimitar has a RoF of 3, and 2 on the move with an AT of 10, which is good if I am getting side shots.  Yes the FP of 5+ does suck, however with and AT 14 the Scorpion shoots a HEAT round which is useless against the side of most tanks in the game.  I may revisit this in the future after a few plays.

So add on to my Divisional Support;
Recce: 4 x Scorpions (4 points)

This leaves me at 97 points. The first choice now is clear, add one more Swingfire to the tank list giving me a full platoon of 3 for 6 points. This brings me up to 99 points. If this was Flames of War I would be out of options and have to eat the one point, however in TY I have options. I could take 1 SF GPMG team in my Infantry formation or go for 2 mortars.  Right now I am leaning for the mortars since they will pin and even kill dug-in infantry. So I will need 3 more FV-432s! I also realized that I have no need for the box of 4 Spartans I pre ordered if I stick with this list.
So are the Brits my now go to list? At this point I need to take them out and play with them more and see how they do. I have concerns on how they are on the attack, since on defense they will be tough to beat. 

So far the forces released for TY suit many different playing styles. Aggressive players will gravitate towards the Soviets, balanced players will like the US and West Germans since they have a lot of deadly tools. With IM, the cautious player has found a decent force with infantry that can hold back whatever is thrown at it. Time will tell how the future releases of East Germans, Canadians, Australians along with the new Soviet and American lists will work out with what we currently have, however right now you can find a fun and competitive force to play with.

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