The new Algoryn plastic sprue is out giving a complete AI squad, with options. Three of these appear in the new (and amazing value, in my view) Strike on Kar’A Nine introductory set and two appear in the AI boxed set. Whilst I’ll start with an overview of what you get on the sprue, I’ll extend this blog post as I paint them up.
Firstly, like the Concord plastic sprue, the AI sprue gives a complete squad; unlike the 5-trooper Concord sprue, however, this sprue supports almost all the options for the flexible AI squad rather than provide something else like a weapon drone. Given the leader has three options on their own, and other troopers can be equipped with a choice of three weapons, the sprue is a little more complex, giving a range of options from the base 94 points to a fully-kitted out 157 point, 5-trooper squad.
As you can see from the above, mag guns abound. Each trooper comes in six parts: head, chest, back, legs, right and left arms. There are two ‘open face’ heads, the rest helmeted, and a spotter drone (useful for the micro-X). Separate bases are supplied for each trooper as well as a flight stand and 25mm base for the spotter.
The spotter drone is in two halves as shown to the right. Also, you can see the two Micro-X options as well as one of the core mag guns with which the squad is equipped. On the C3 sprue, connecting the arms to the weapons at the wrists can be really fiddly due to the thin wrists: here, the wrists are a little thicker but aligning the arms, the wrists and the shoulders to the model can still be frustrating. I’d have liked some form of locater to make it easier but it’s worth noting that I do suffer from a nerve disorder which makes positioning a problem generally.
The next part of the sprue worth showing are the leader options. In the lists, the AI squad leader comes with an X-sling and pistol but can be upgraded to a mag repeater or a mag gun. At the same time, another member of the squad can also be upgraded to a mag repeater or Micro-X – all of which you can see here. The left arm for the mag-gun/micro-X option is the same – it’s just the right arm-plus-weapon that changes.
Confused? It’s not the sprues fault: the AI squad is so flexible that, frankly, I’m amazed Warlord have managed to get all the options onto one sprue. I thought we’d see a simple set – a mag repeater for the leader and a micro-X, but NO – we have all the options for the 5-man squad on a single sprue.
That’s worth repeating: all the AI Squad options are on this sprue. If you wanted to add a couple more troopers to a squad, I guess you could buy another sprue and add mag-gun-equipped troopers in or you could just buy a few metal troopers, instead (I’ve yet to compare the size, though).
Moving on, you can see the leg poses and the last commander option. Whilst one of the poses perches on the edge of the 25mm base, all are nicely dynamic and steady on the base once glued, despite another having only one foot to stand on (mid-step). More importantly, the top of the waist is curved so that the chest/back assembly can be tilted at an angle to make more flexible poses.
Lastly, the shot above shows the more repetitive end of the sprue: 5 backs and 5 chests. The detail here is good and deep, easy to paint. The parts snap together easily and the heads can be shifted round in the shoulder pads to face different directions. One of the heads has no helmet whilst one of the others has his helmet partially raised: all the others are closed (I’m pleased to say) so if you want a professional look (or hate doing faces) it’s there.
It sounds a bit dry, doesn’t it? Looking over it, I think it’s because to do the sprue justice you have to look at a lot of useful options. It’s not like you’ve just been given a bunch of cosmetic options and neither is it a simple squad sprue: everything bar the heads and poses is a tabletop decision. And having to think about how I want to play the squad as soon as I pull the sprue from the box is an interesting and rather fun concept.
Which means that, overall, it’s an excellent, well-thought-out and flexible sprue that sprays up well when assembled. The models also have detail that is well cut rather than a surface skim – which will really help with painting to a gaming standard. Despite my disappointment over locating lugs, you can’t see the struggle I had on the final models. But what’s really great is that the options engage you from the start and provide a solid backbone to an AI force – one tailored to your own preferences.
And I’ve forgotten the number of times I said flexible.
Till next time… 🙂