2019 marked my return to scale model building. Though I built several Revell, Trumpeter and other kits in recent years, it was always with wargaming on my mind, usually tanks in 20mm scale for Coldwar gaming.
In 2017 I met an experienced scale modeller whom I showed some of my wargaming stuff and he asked me to take part in a scale modelling exhibition in our vicinity (Maple Leaf, Brühl) to present some of my minis and models. On the one hand, I didn’t feel well with the idea. Scale modelling and building for wargames are truly two different disciplines. While wargamers usually want to put up a big army quickly, commited scale modellers put much effort into details („No, no, these oil stains are too far away from the exhaust pipe!“) On the other hand, I couldn’t get the idea off my mind. The release of MiG Alley!, the expansion for Warlord Games‚ Blood Red Skies last year, put a new light on this.
This was my plan: Bring some tabletop wargaming to a scale model exhibition and invite people to play MiG Alley! there. At the same time I wanted to present a MiG-15 and F-86 in scale.
But time told me another story and I just couldn’t finish my projects. Anyway, as I was told, the interest in wargames at scale modelling events is usually rather low. So I presented an Airfix MiG-15 in 1/72th there and that was it. Next time I also might have finished the F-86. ;-(
When I was a kid I built a lot of scale models but never put much effort into painting them. Nevertheless, I had a lot of fun with the hobby and some of the old models still exist… back in the darkness of some dusty cupboards. And that’s the problem with scale models: After building you can do nothing with them, except displaying. Ok, one or two of them went boom with a cracker… but those were the days. I guess this is why scale modelling is rather unpopular among young people nowadays. In wargaming displaying gets a meaning. The true fun starts with playing and testing your models against opponents. As for me, circumstamces brought me back to scale modelling and I have plans for the future.
Some years ago I promised myself not to paint any more miniatures for other people. Now this promise was broken. The reason I promised this anyway was that it took me too much time to paint other people’s stuff while my own projects accumulated on the pile of shame. Nevertheless, now I painted these XV25s for a friend of mine. So, why did I do this:
He is one of my best friends and it’s for his birthday.
It gave me the opportunity to try out GW’s new Contrast paints.
I hope I can convince my mate that it is so easy to paint Vior’la Taus with Contrast paints that he starts to paint them for Kill Team himself. (Canny little ba…d, I am!)
I don’t really know what to think about the result. On the one hand it’s very easy to do in a short amount of time on the other hand the standard method produces much better results. Maybe it’s better not to look at individual figures but to imagine them as a whole unit on table top. For now it’s ok and maybe I will add some details and highlights later. Another ‚first‘ is the bases. Here I used one of the „Acrylic muds“ from MIG. The result is really good but I don’t know why it should be any better than the one’s from Vallejo or GW.
Nice story about how I got hand on these figures. At the end of last year I took part in my first scale modelling exhibition as a participant (Maple Leaf Bühl, Baden-Württemberg) where I met a Canadian guy who also was in 40k. There he sold some of his stuff along with the XV25s in a battered box but everything on sprue… for 10€. Happy with the deal I took it as a later present for my friend. Now I decided to paint them up as I already had all the necessary paints on my shelf.
Airfix? Wargame? Maybe playing a wargame with your old plastic figures and tanks from old childhood memories? That was my first thought when I read about Airfix Battles for the first time. Well, this is not exactly it but it comes close enough.
First of all, Airfix Battles is not really Airfix but Modiphius, probably better known for roleplaying games. Maybe the producers were just clever to use the Airfix logo on their game to get more attention. (It worked!) Otherwise, Airfix Battles could be just another wargame which would work quite well without the logo. But as the author, Chris Birch, once said in an interview, he also had thoughts about childhood memories when he created the game.
For several decades the brand Airfix was a synonym for the hobby of scale modelling. I think in most boys‘ rooms there were Airfix-planes, -ships, -tanks or -figures. But during the 80s their success declined as scale modelling became less popular. Only in recent years, Airfix was sold to another company, the brand is more on the go. Maybe this a reason why they let Modiphius use their logo on their Introductory Wargame.
Airfix Battles is a simple to learn wargame which can either be played with the cardboard counters from the box or with plastic soldiers and tanks from any company. Of course Airfix figures in 1/72 scale (20mm) are recommended but I made another choice, which I will explain later. The game includes two 59,0 x 41,5 cm two-sided poster-maps on thick paper as well as buildings and obstacles on cardboard counters. All information about units are printed on so-called Force Cards, which go to the players‘ hand. This way stats and special abilities don’t have to be kept in mind. Preparation for a typical game takes only a few minutes time.
The rules are easy to learn with a scenario-based tutorial system. Ideal if you want to play with kids (As long as they know enough English!) or people who don’t have much experience with wargames. But also experienced wargamers will have a lot of fun with Airfix Battles. However, some limits of the gameplay will become obvious after a while if you are used to more complex games. A lot of reviews are already around on the net (e.g. boardgamegeek.com). No need to repeat that but here are two aspects of the game I would like to single out.
This is not a new idea in a game but adds a lot to the fun of Airfix Battles. Usually a player knows the opponent’s possible moves and by counting and calculating can plan his own moves. Command Cards bring the element of surprise. Each player has a certain number of these cards which grant Special Orders, which are unknown to your opponent. This brings more tactical options, for example, some cards give the option to move further or move AND shoot, what is usually not allowed. Some cards work as Interupts and can be used any time during your opponent’s move. This way the usual ‚I-go-you-go‘-conecpt is broken up. But of course, that means, luck and coincidence play an even greater part in the game.
The Valour Counter is only a small detail in the game but the idea is genius! Only one player can own the Valour Counter at a time. If you have it, you can decide to re-roll a roll of any number of dice. After that the counter goes to your opponent, who has this option now. The second roll has to be accepted. In our games the Valour Counter already contributed to a lot of fun. When bad luck strikes again there is at least a second chance.
Figures and models
Airfix Battles is recommended to be played with the cheap and easy to get figures from Airfix, Revell or similar companies. Using figures adds a lot of fun and depth to the game. However, I felt 1/72 (20mm) is too big a scale for the maps. The houses look too small in contrast to figures, tanks would use up more than a single square on the map. As a cosequence I decided for 1/100 scale (15mm) models. A nice side effect: When storing the game components, they use much less space.
For infantry I use figures from The Plastic Soldier Company, which offers a wide array of choices for a reasonable price. For tanks and vehicles Zvezda offers very nice models in 1/100 scale for their own World War II wargame. These are cheap, easy and fast to build and do not necessarily have to be painted. The choice of models in this range is limited but it is growing and if still not available, models can still be purchased from The Plastic Soldier Company or Flames of War.
Airfix Battles is open for a lot of expansions which will hopefully come. Additional Force and Command Cards are available from Modiphius and new material was published in Modiphia, Modiphius‚ new free house-magazine. The first two editions offered new scenarios and cards for home-printing. Modiphia is available by download via drivethrurpg in pdf-format.
Airfix Battles is a great game. It brings back memories from a long time ago. Frankly, a lot of childhood memory revivals end up in disappoinmtent (e.g. TV shows, ice cream). Airfix Battles did not disappoint me and brings new worthwhile memories and fun in form of building new models and having great gaming sessions.
Experienced players will definitly see the limits of the game mechanics but, nevertheless, playing can still be fun when there is no time for larger games. Airfix Battles could also be a nice choice for fathers and sons to find a common interest and for introducing friends to the world of wargames, who did not have the luck to play such games, so far.