In my never ending search to find a Modern historical ruleset that I really like, I came across Black Powder Red Earth, a 28mm game set in a near future conflict in an imagined nation. The creators of BPRE have also created a whole host of other materials in the universe, most notably graphic novels and video games. Today we’re going to look at the models and other materials in the box – very soon we’ll have a gameplay review.
Before we get started we’d like to thank the creators of BPRE for sending us a free preview copy of the Complete Target Package box for review purposes.
What’s in the Box?
Echelon Software (the name of the company that produces the stuff) offers a number of different starter options. The one we reviewed is the Complete Target Package – basically everything, all-in, that you’d need to ever play the game. You could spruce it up with some MDF buildings or whatever, but really those are just value-adds.
Included in the box are resin minis on sprues – enough to make:
Crisis Troop Scorch (the operators)
- 1 Advisor
- 4 Assaulters
- 4 Recce
- 1 Automatic Rifleman
Hongbin Mercernaries + Aayari Network Fighters
- 1 Enabler
- 4 Hongbin Mercenaries
- 4 Guard Muhtasib
- 12 Guard Shurta
There are also 19 resin doors included in the box that you can use in your scenarios.
Beside just the minis, you also get the other stuff you need to play:
- A 100+ page rulebook with details on how to play as well as the units included
- 75 cards that you use for list generation, scenario generation, special attacks, etc.
- A 6″ radial template made from plastic
- Six 3mm thick terrain tiles made from PVC
- 37 tokens made from the same type of PVC material
- 18 scatter terrain pieces made from PVC
First and foremost, I’ve put together and painted a lot of Modern wargames minis and I believe these are amongst the top tier of any I’ve worked with. They’re what I would call true 28mm, with very realistic proportions.
I really like the level of detail here – they’re 3D designed with all the gear from the graphic novels and look like they’re ready to get into combat. They have all their individual ammo pouches, NVG, weapon attachments, belts, clothing, sidearms, etc. They look like they’ve been modeled for a video game with everything available. The casts are extremely crisp – there is flash on models, but that is something I expected. I did scrape moldlines but not a lot – usually with resin minis it’s much better than pewter or plastic.
The only real problem I had with the minis is remembering which unit is which, to be honest. That is remedied by looking online at the BPRE website and identifying each guy, which I think I’ll do when I paint them. I figure I’ll paint the operator Recce guys a little different so I remember which ones they are, and the Hongbin mercenaries will definitely be a different shade from the operators.
A short instruction booklet would take these model kits from being what I would say is a medium difficulty level to a lower difficulty level. I know how to snip and clean resin minis because I’ve done that a bunch in my hobby life; a beginner, or someone who is only used to GW plastic might be confused at first. As always, I soaked my resin minis in a soapy water and scrubbed a bit to get any release agent off, but it really didn’t feel like there was any in the first place.
Here you can see a bit more of a focused sprue shot. Most of the connection points to the mini are easily cleaned up and filed a bit to provide a great quality mini. The only bit I had an issue with was the back of the head point – wasn’t sure sometimes what was flash and what was part of the helmet, but I cleaned them up to what I think looks great.
There are 12 Shurta minis in three different poses (from my count) and they’re easy to put together. They provide an excellent contrast to the operators and mercenaries because they’re wearing bulkier clothes and big army boots.
The doors feel like a hardier resin, one that will stand up to use but still detailed. There is some flash on either side of the door that clippers will take care of. I’m considering basing these on flat rectangle bases just to make sure they stand up easy as they aren’t all perfectly flat. They should paint quickly and easily and give a 3D feel to the board.
Overall you get 31 resin minis + doors to create a modern wargame miniature collection. The operators for both sides look great and really bring the BPRE graphic novels to life for me on the tabletop. Like I said above, these are some of the crispest, cleanest, and most realistic sculpts you’re going to find on the market.
No boxed game is complete with just minis, so we have quite a few peripherals and terrain bits that will complete the game experience.
The most important pieces are the terrain tiles. The missions and board layouts in the book are written for these tiles; without them you could definitely make your own, or scratch build some structures, but the game works really well if you have them.
The tiles themselves (there are five medium size buildings and one large one) are made of a 3mm thick PVC of some sort – I’m not an engineer but to me they feel sturdy and seem like they’ll keep their high def image printed on for a long time. I put them in a big bag that’ll go in a sturdy box so they don’t get crushed.
The rulebook actually tells you how to interpret each structure – where the windows are, hedges, etc. There aren’t enough resin doors to put on every single door space, but you could purchase extras or use some cardboard chits to put in their place. It would be great to have indoor door tokens, and just use the resin doors for outside doors.
Each battlespace description tells you how to place the tiles and how to space them out with specific increments. I think the game could be played on a grid mat really nicely, with the inch squares separating the buildings and scatter terrain. You can purchase ones that have real art on them, not just blank white space – I think those would work really well. A paper mat with grid tiles on it would be a great addition to the box. From my reading, all the missions in this book are played on 26 inch by 26 inch square boards.
The cars, planters, and air conditioner units are all great additions and make good use of the rules for movement, cover, etc. Again they’re sturdy, made of the PVC material, and printed in high def imagery.
It’s a weird thing to latch on to but I really like the template they included. It’s made of a clear plastic that feels like it’ll last, and it has all the details printed on. I love that it comes in a cardboard envelope – which is again a weird thing to latch on to, but I can put it back in there and not lose it.
The tokens are made out of the same material the tiles are made out of. There is one turn marker, one turn counter, one objective marker (called TE or tactical exploitation – a phone, maps, photos, etc.), 5 frag markers, and 29 ‘act’ tokens used to mark an activated fighter. Some of them have a little extra flash on them from when they were cut but its easy to remove that.
The cards are, well, cards. They’re nicely designed and printed, and feel like they’ll last a while. I like all the information that is presented and feel like it makes starting up a game really quick. Interestingly enough, they’re also provided in the rulebook if you wanted to copy them from there to try out a game.
The Complete Target Package retails at the BPRE site for $325. You can find it at a few online distributors for $300. Value is definitely subjective – I personally feel as a complete package here, that $300 is a fair price. While it is a large outlay right at the start to get everything, like I said above this is all you’re going to need to play the game, and the materials are high quality. Personally I think a smaller box with card tiles, tokens, half the minis, and lacking the doors at a more competitive price would also help to get gamers into the game.
Resin minis at a high quality like this usually go for around $5-8 a mini, so you do have to take into account that you’re getting 31 of those and a $35 rulebook. To get started, you might grab the materials in smaller chunks – I would definitely suggest getting the rulebook on Amazon or from BPRE.com for $35 and playing some test games with minis you might already have. Later on you can buy minis, cards, etc.
Check back soon to see our final article that reviews the gameplay in entirety, breaking down a turn and providing a walkthrough!