Impressions: Warhansa Spetsnaz

When I started looking for new companies to buy models from and write about, there were some that jumped out to me straight away. Others, including today’s manufacturer Warhansa, were ones I had looked at but never seen a set that screamed for me to take a look. Checking the site at the start of the year, my mind was swiftly changed upon spotting the Warhansa Spetsnaz pack appearing on their Facebook page.

Now, I have many weaknesses when it comes to figures. As previously mentioned, guys in bandanas and M4s are one (mainly down to how many places they can be used) while another is ultra-modern troops with near future sci-fi (think Chappie or Elysium). However, the biggest has to be figures in giant EOD style armour and totting machine guns. Be they military or police, I love this Juggernaut archetype. I guess you can blame Modern Warfare 2 for this. So upon spotting a team of four figures where one of them is a chunky looking fellow with a PKP, I just had to jump in and take a look

There are a couple of key points I’m going to mention first about Warhansa. Number 1, they are based in Russia. This is going to lead to some fun times with their postal system – for example, tracking on the parcel cut off as soon as the parcel left Russia and didn’t seem to pick up in the UK until it was delivered. However, the postage times were pretty great (taking only 3 weeks) so I’m not going to complain too much. The second point is that Warhansa figures are in Resin rather than metal. I find the old Resin vs Metal debate to one primarily of personal choice with resin providing a really nice level of detail but the cost of durability. I normally prefer metal to resin due to the difference in weight (especially as I base them on MDF disks) but it’s not a deal breaker for me.

Those points covered lets look at the figures!

The pack comprises of four figures. Two riflemen with AN94 assault rifles, an officer in beret and a PKP gunner wearing EOD gear. The figures are sculpted by Igor (who was also the sculptor behind the War in Chechnya kickstarter from Tiny Terrain as well as some upcoming releases from SASM) and is style is all over them. There is also a great level of detail to them from just the contours of the webbing to being able to identify the guns based on the muzzle break design. From looking closely I only found two minor issues (an air bubble in the PKM box mag and some unusual patterning on a shoulder piece) but both were easy to fix.

Aftergetting them out of the bag, I was really excited to get started painting and within a day of taking the first photo, they were done. A new record for me!

So, the paint scheme. When I ordered theses guys, I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to fit them into my ongoing Bazistan/Zaiweibo campaigns. The Empress Russians are filling in the role of modern Russian troops so these guys (in older gear) didn’t make sense to add to the elite Russian taskforce. However, I realised that one nation hadn’t received it’s well equipped frontline troops – Bazistan. By using these guys, as well as the Russians from the War in Chechnya Kickstarter, I’m able to show a force that may be a little bit less advanced than their foes, is still a threat. I’m particularly excited about using the gunner to smash through some doors and lay down the hurt when the dammed western operators are working a little too well.

Because of this, I had to work on the paint scheme. Although there are Russian desert camos, I wanted to make something different to what the actual Russians will be wearing (once I’ve painted them) and also be relatively easy to paint. For this reason I went with a simple scheme – Iraqi sand base with beige brown sponged on. This is designed to give the impression of a pixel based scheme in a similar colour to some of the older patterns. The only downside? I think I might have been a little heavy with my paint job and so obscured some of the detail.

As always, with new figures it’s time for a comparison picture.

From left to right

  • Under Fire Miniatures
  • Empress (older)
  • Empress (recent)
  • Warhansa
  • Spectre Miniatures
  • Eureka Miniatures
  • Crooked Dice
  • Hasslefree

And again from the rear

An extra comparison is to show off how chunky this PKP gunner is compared to his regular opponents, a Spectre Task Force Operator.


My overall opinion? If you hadn’t guessed above, I really like these guys. They are definitely more stylised compared to companies like Empress or Spectre but they still look pretty great on the tabletop. There is an incredible amount of detail on them if you are more interested in painting than playing. My only concern is how durable the resin is going to be, both for the weight (I like the feel of a metal figure in my hand and stops them being nudged) and for surviving the wear and tear of playing/going in and out of boxes. We’ll have to see that in the upcoming days. , If you are looking for some Russian characters to paint up, I heartily recommend this set.

Also I get to have a tiny Juggernaut sat on my desk. What’s not to like?

If you want a set of your own Spetsnaz, you can find them on the Warhansa website at http://www.warhansa.com/index.php/katalog/spetsnaz.html

Wargaming Week 12/02/2018

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 5th through to the 11th of February.

BLOG STUFF

This week saw two articles – one covering Operation Dragon’s Hoard at Vapnartak and the other taking a look at one of SASM’s range of figures. Overall a pretty busy week!

The other blog thing is that thanks to some work stuff, this year is going to be a lot busier than I originally thought. So you might start seeing some smaller posts looking at older figures as I try to spread out my coverage and keep the posts coming despite being busy with work.

NEWS

Photo from White Dragon Miniatures

Only one piece of news this week. White Dragon Games announced last year they were making a range of Ultramodern Brits called Courage In Contact. Interestingly these guys are going to be made from resin rather than metal. At the Robin show yesterday, the stall not only had some painted examples but also had a Foxhound complete with gunners. I’ll be keeping a close eye on these guys – in fact so close that we’re both in the Gamer’s Lounge at Hammerhead. You can see more at https://www.facebook.com/WhiteDragonMiniatures/

GAMING

None, too busy this week to get my gaming fix in

PURCHASES

I’ve put in an order to Wartime to take a look at their MARSOC range. Its coming from Australia so it will be a while before I have it on the painting table but it should expand out the people who I’ve covered.

HOBBY

Despite a lack of games, I did manage to get some painting done. First up was the SASM figures ready for the impressions. Theses guys were pretty fun to paint and also simple thanks to the civilian clothing. Although the guy dressed entirely in black was possibly the easiest one – paint flesh, drybrush the black with a grey and then wash it. Gives a nice black with minimum fuss.

After a busy week at work, I sat down Friday evening to start working on the pile of things that will be coming up in future impressions. The first to fall under the super glue was the first of the Radio Dishdash technicals. These were interesting to build and seeing as I have two more to go, there will be lots of opinions on them.

The next part of the hobby binge was building up one of Supreme Littleness Design’s new buildings which I picked up from the club on Thursday. I did a step by step of the build process and will be writing something once I’ve painted and assembled all three of them ready for Hammerhead. With this thing actually in my hands, I’m really excited to get some games in on them – the interiors will be great for some CQB action.

After checking the vehicles on my desk, the next was Empress’s Tigr. I picked this up at Vapnatrak (alongside the M-ATV) and it was a pretty simple build, especially if you skip the aerials and just make a standard one. More details in an upcoming impressions (possibly this week!)

Finally, I finished off assembling the last of the Technical weapons from Spectre. The half painted ones have actually been sat on my desk since the first release so are just a little bit overdue. The other were picked up later. Each provided some interesting things to look at (especially to make modular) so I’m really looking forward to the writeup on these.


That’s it for this update, expect more updates next week!

Impressions: SASM Operator Juarez

A big push this year on the site is to expand the list of companies I cover, with the goal of providing the widest possible look into all the options available to an ultramodern gamer. One of the companies that had sat on my list for a while has been Special Artisan Service Miniatures based in the US. As well as their 3D printed vehicles, they also have a growing range of figures. After browsing through the range, I settled upon picking up one of the Operator Juarez packs for my invesitigation.

The CIA Juarez Operators pack is made up of six figures, all inspired by popular culture around the various agencies fighting the cartel in Mexico. There is a nice mix to these figures, giving you a set perfect for a whole host of scenarios. After ordering, the package with them in arrived on my desk after about a week after being sent out. They were securely packaged, with no damaged bits, and the hand written note wishing me well was a nice touch. Preparing was minimal, with the expected amount of of infill and mould lines to tidy up. The figures have a half pill shaped base, similar to many other ranges which almost melds into the base with no adjustment required.

Looking at the  figures, there are several different groups. The first consists of three guys perfect for contractors or low profile shooters. These guy are all wearing tactical gear and wielding AR15 pattern weapons. The “balaclava and baseball cap” look is one I particularly like (mainly because they can be used for all sorts of organisations). All three figures are moving forward cautiously, gripping either the magwell or the vert grip.

The next group are two characters designed to lead and support the rest of the team. One is holding his M4 in a low ready position while the other wields a silenced Mp5, holding his hand up while trying to calm the locals. These two are dressed the same way as the first, with civilian clothing and tac gear.

The final model is a little different from the rest. Rather than being one of the other characters ready to cross the border, this guy is dressed for a bit of black ops. Armed only with a pistol, the practical use of this one will mainly be for stealth missions and creeping around in the dark.

As this is a new company for me to look at, it’s time for for another figure comparison. From left to right:

  • Under Fire Miniatures
  • Empress (older)
  • Empress (recent)
  • SASM
  • Spectre Miniatures
  • Eureka Miniatures
  • Crooked Dice
  • Hasslefree

And again in rear view.

Okay, that’s all the basic information, showing off the painted figures. If you are interested in them, they can be found on the SASM site at http://www.kingshobbiesandgames.com/28mm-CIA-Juarez-Operators-p/28mmciaop.htm

Personal thoughts below the line.


To be honest, I have mixed personal feelings on this pack. I really love the concept and the ideas behind some of the figures but i’m less impressed with the style. The sculptor is very talented (all the characters were easily recognisable at first glance and they easily fit in with other ranges as part of a game) but there are one or two elements that don’t quite match my expectations. Although it’s not obvious, the figures seem incredibly slight and tall, almost like a 28mm figure from another company that has been grabbed at the top and pulled. I also have issues with some of the detailing – while the characters are packed full of it (such as molle loops and folds in the clothing), the weapons (especially on the three guys with bandanas) all seem a little flat sided. The suppressed MP5 also appears incredibly bulky compared to the other weapons, although I can see the practical reason for this adjustment. I would have also have liked to see a little more variation in the poses, particularly for the trio of shooters.

As always, this is just my opinions. Although they are not the ideal figures, they are certainly not the worst I’ve seen. Importantly they also spark the idea for plenty of scenarios to use the figures in. While I don’t necessarily recommend them, and as long as you like the style, they were certainly an interesting set to paint up and write an article on. As a final note, SASM seem to have a range of sculptors

Operation Dragon’s Hoard: Vapnartak, York

If you haven’t checked out the previous posts in the series on Operation Dragon’s Hoard, check out the page I’ve set up for it at http://hntdaab.co.uk/blog/demo-game-operation-dragons-hoard/

Last weekend was Vapnartak. This was a show I’ve been particularly looking forward to; Its one of my “local” shows (thanks to one of my buddies in the wargaming being based in York) and it’s also a massive event spread over three floors (and mezzanines). Its big enough to lure many of the southern companies (such as Empress) up to the frozen north. Getting to run a game has been on my wish list for a while and I was a little disheartened when they initially reported they had ran out of space. However, thanks to the guys at York we managed to squeeze in and we were off to the races.

PRE-GAME TWEAKS

So with the whole uncertainty around if I was running a game, I didn’t manage to do the main task of making the plane look a little less hacksawed by using my new airbrush and dremel. With only two weeks, the idea of having to repair it in the event of dremel related mishaps was too much to take. Instead, the focus shifted to improving the other elements on the table.

First stage was repairing the boards. This was pretty simple – reapply the filler, textured paint and the cover up with lashings of Zandri Dust. The repair work was mostly effective. However afterwards there were one or two places where I don’t think the filler had set properly before I painted it and so it wasn’t quite as hard-wearing as it should have been. However, between these tweaks and changing how I transported the boards (bubble wrap rather than foam spacers) meant there were no massive chunks of surface that had been knocked away.

The next step was to add some more terrain elements. Finishing off another RedVectors buildings gave the OPFOR some height (useful for the marksman) and make the board look a little less empty. As I mentioned in the impressions on them, this one is great but I did have one or two events where the rooftops dropped through the rest of the building. Luckily no figures were lost to the fall damage.

Another element I think that was missing from the board was debris. Even if you ignore the straight edges on the plane wreckage, it’s easy to notice the lack of material that a plane shredding itself in mid-air would eject. This would also add some more detail to the board and provide some difficult ground to cross. Building them was pretty simple – get more plasticard, cut out kidney shapes, add plastic elements from the C130 kit and then cover in filler. Some of the plastic elements were trimmed to be closer to the ground making them look like they have sunk into the sand.

Once assembled, the same process I used on the boards again came into place. The difference this time was that I added a rough spray of grey over the plane elements, oversprayed by the base colour and then finished off with some drybrushing grey and the old faithful, Iraqi Sand. Overall I think they worked out quite well – it helps to make the board look closer to the ideal.. The only issue was again due to the filler. It hadn’t set correctly and so, as you can see above, a few bits chipped off over the weekend. It’s easily fixable but if I had more time it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. Moral of the story – don’t try to rush things at the last-minute.

For a while, I’ve been wanting to upgrade my central objective from “white SUV” to something more suitable to the mission title of “Dragon’s Hoard”. After throwing a few ideas around, the idea of a big chunk of gold was just too tempting. I’d already bought the components I was going to use as part of Bank Accessories pack from TTCombat in 2017 and just hadn’t got round to building the actual objective. With time pressure adding focus, I built the pile of gold you see above. The three stacks were to act as the base, with one of the smaller piles placed on top for detail. The other smaller pile was chopped up into single bricks to be loosely scattered around the base.

After basic construction, the next stage was adding the tarp. This was the classic modelling standby – toilet paper with watered down PVA painted over the top. Once this was dried, painting began. Rather than painting up like terrain, this was closer to a figure – sand on the base, black undercoat, base colours, lashings of agrax and then drybrushing. The tarp was painted dark blue first before going over the top with a layer of light blue. Gold on black is always interesting and it took several coats to get the look I was after. Also Agrax is still my method of choice for fixing any issues with painting.

Something else I needed was smoke cloud, both for the operators to deploy and also to mark when explosions went off. Rather than cotton wool, one of my fellow SESWC members pointed me in the direction of teddy bear stuffing. After a Saturday where I couldn’t find any in Edinburgh I went to Amazon and ordered 1kg of the stuff. Now, I may not have anticipated just how much 1kg of stuffing is. The package was literally straining at the packaging when it arrived. To put it mildly, I don’t think I’ll be buying much more, even if I decided to model shooting lines for a Napoleonic battle.

Once I’d pulled lumps of smoke off the pile, it was painting time. Rather than just dropping lumps on the board, I used some old bases to keep the clumps anchored to the ground. Rather than just using the same colour for all of the smoke, I set up a few schemes. The white smoke had Mechanicus Grey spray for the lower portion with white spray paint for the top half. The black smoke was a little more involved. The bottom was black spray done relatively close to the clump for a dark colour. The next step was black again but further away. Finally, a light dusting of grey for the top of the cloud. For a first attempt, the smoke clouds worked fine – the only change I’d make would be to get a glue gun to stick the smoke to the base.

Some of the final prep was getting some more cards printed out. This was for a few reasons but primarily, it was because I repainted my insurgents. Along with finishing the other insurgents, I had I ended up with a fair number of cards left over to fill. This was a perfect excuse to keep working on the Task Force Operator pile, with a particular focus on some of the cool gear people may want to pick (such as the airburst grenade launcher). I also added the December releases to the list of guys I have on cards so pickup games of Skrimish Sangin will be even easier to arrange. Once again, personalised card creator knocked it out the park in terms of service. Downside: I didn’t do any post processing on the images so you can plainly see which cards are from which packs I made. However, they were once again a hit.

As I mentioned in my last post, the game at Fiasco ran well but it did feel like the operators, once on the objectives, were basically fated to win which is fine but not quite as exciting as it should be. Having managed to use two of the cards in the new pack for some Technicals, I decided that the operators going loud (be that by lots of gunfire or by blowing the cockpit) should prompt the arrival of some insurgents reinforcements. This basically moved the response squad from a building to a much larger threat, as a four man team of veterans were accompanied by two technicals with HMGs. The operators, thanks to the technicals lacking armour and BLUFOR having brought AT weapons, would find it relatively easy to destroy these reinforcements, as long as they react fast enough. This also makes the end game as exciting as the start, forcing the players to change-up the plan rather than getting all the time in the world to work out how best to approach the problem.

DETAILS OF THE DAY

After setting up the boards on Saturday afternoon (thanks to traders and game organisers being let in early), Sunday morning was a quite relaxed affair where we were able to turn up, get the figures out and then get ready for everyone turning up. Once again, we managed to run the mission three times, rotating players and observers each time.

Game 1 was the usual show started in that I get to play against my number 2. As well as making the game look busy while everyone is doing the early morning lap of the show, it’s also a chance to iron out issues and show off exciting gameplay. Game 1 had a nice mix of stealth and violent gunplay with BLUFOR achieving most of their objective before we called time.

Game 2 brought in some of the public to participate. I actually disappeared off for my lunch break during this battle so I didn’t see all of it but there was everything from awesome sniper shots, some clever tactics and a slightly explosive fumble that luckily didn’t cause any harm other than the need for some fresh pants.

Heading for the black box leads to some close quarters gun battles.

The final game of the day showed just how deadly Skirmish Sangin can be. Thanks to the operators picking a lot of explosive weapons (ranging from two AT4s to the multiple grenade launcher and airburst grenade launcher) the game was all action all the time. With both BLUFOR players ignoring stealth in favour of all action all the time, this was one game where the technicals were actually rolled out. The .50cal scared a few people, but the return fire was able to cut

The pickup takes an airburst round, shredding the insurgents near it
Later on, the MGL gunner engages the horde of technicals heading for the gold.

THOUGHTS ON VAPNARTAK

That was the game, how was the show? Well, apart from two evacuations after someone set the smoke alarm off twice, it was a fantastic show. Vapnartak does really well thanks to its timing at the start of the year, dragging in everyone looking to pickup new projects for a new year. The range of sellers is always great, and I was very excited to see both Spectre and Empress there. The combination of these two (plus people like Pig Iron Productions and Crooked Dice) is perfect for any ultramodern gamers.

Speaking of gamers, thanks to the size of York it’s perfect for meeting up with people you’ve only talked to online. Putting voices to names is always exciting and getting to talk about the hobby is one of my favourite things.

PLANS FOR NEXT TIME

So what’s next?

  • Work on the plane – change the edges of the cut to look less uniform, curl some of the panels, add some interior details (dangling wires and cargo nets) and then tweak the paint job
  • General repair work – make sure there are no chipped edges
  • Get the new buildings from Supreme Littleness Designs ready for action – I’m really excited to get these buildings into action. As I want to build and paint them up myself, there is going to be a little bit time to put aside to get these things built up but they should improve the look of the board and provide a nice tactical challenge for the players.
  • Tweak the battle – We’re almost there. The final gameplay tweak is going to be adding another two-man patrol to the OPFOR start. However, this patrol will be further back – they are not designed to be sentries, instead they will be backup once the action starts.

Something else I’m thinking about is future games. In the projects post for this year I’d mentioned my plan to do a second demo game, with its first run at Fiasco. As fun as this would be, one of the things I realised is that I kind of missed going to Vapa as a customer rather than as someone demoing. Chatting to the figure makers was limited to during a few small breaks. I also didn’t get to do as much browsing as I would like. Combining this with possible work schedules and I think I’ll be having a year off. Game 2 will be bumped back, giving me some more time to work on what exactly I want to do.

CONCLUSION

I’m so glad that we managed to show off at York. I’m even more glad that people really seemed to enjoy it. I had lots of great feedback from people (as always, a downed C130 draws the eye) and was really happy that lots of people totting cameras stopped to take proper photos. Seeing as the planned items is also much smaller, I think we are almost there with this game. Fingers crossed, the version shown at Hammerhead will be the definitive version, perfect for its final planned showing. So keep your eyes open for the final part of Operation Dragon’s Hoard at Hammerhead in March.

Wargaming Week 05/02/2018

(So I’m writing this having just got back from a full day running my demo game at Vapnartak – I apologize in advance for any spelling issues)

Let’s start, covering the 29th of January through to the 4th of February.

BLOG STUFF

This week’s post was a new part in Building a Force, focusing this time on vehicles. I found this post a little harder to write, as unlike infantry vehicles can well and truly unbalance many modern games. However, it was fun to do a run down of the various important bits. The next part will probably be next month (also probably before I go run a show) so keep your eyes open for that!

This week is going to see a two post extravaganza. On Wednesday, I’ll be releasing the write up for Vapnartak, both in terms of how the demo game went and how Vapnartak 2018 was. It will probably be similar to the Fiasco post, with what I changed before the game and what I’ll be tweaking before the next one. Then on Friday, once I finish painting them, the plan is to take a look at the Operator Juarez pack that has been sat on my desk for a couple of weeks.

NEWS

Image from Empress Miniatures

So news! And with this being Vapa week, Empress brought out some new insurgents! Except these might look a little familiar if you picked up the Universal bodies last year. These guys have sculpted keffiyeh on their heads. I’ll admit, when I first saw them I had mixed feeling but after seeing them in the flesh at Vapnartak (my Number 2 for demo games pick up a set) I’m much more excited about them. This is definitely a style of headwear that you couldn’t make modular and the poses would fit in great alongside the rest of their range. I also failed to notice the addition of a slung LAW tube to one of the riflemen which should be a nasty surprise. Empress has also put up some more picture of the Universal guys with the different heads – the insurgent heads especially look like a great fit for any ragtag militia, from the Middle East to the Middle of the Rockies.

Spectre didn’t have any new releases but they did show off a new preview of an upcoming release. The eagle eyed amongst the Spectre fans spotted this group at the front of the last preview image and raised some excitement. Now we have some better pictures, and we have also been told their inspiration, which are Green Berets operating in Central Africa as mentors. These guys look like the usual light kit SF but after talking to Spectre there are a few features which are specific to the role they are replicating. I’m a sucker for this style (guys in light kit, especially with M4s) because it’s a loadout you can use for a massive number of roles. This is definitely a set I’ll be looking forward to.

The final bit of news is some terrain! Supreme Littleness Designs is my local MDF genius and we’ve been talking about some more terrain for ultramodern above and beyond the usual adobes. Well after literally a few months he’s come back with some awesome modular construction site buildings, perfect for close quarters gunplay or being a perfect sniping position. I’m pleased to announce that these will be shown off as part of the demo game at Hammerhead. Of course before then I’ll have to build and paint them so expect a post sometime in February giving you lots of detail in this unique set of buildings.

GAMING

Come back on Wednesday to see all the gaming I did this week. Because there was a lot of gaming.

PURCHASES

I purchased a few things for getting ready for the demo game, you’ll find out more in this week’s post.

Vapnartak was a little quiet on the purchasing front for me this year (probably due to the big stack of SASM and Eureka models to finish). However, after seeing the pickups get minced in the last game, it was immediately vital that I got some more armoured backup. Two vehicles I’ve wanted for a while are Empress’s M-ATV and Tigr vehicles. I’ve picked up both and will start assembling over the next few weeks. These are going to be some great vehicles to build and something new for the tabletop.

HOBBY

This week’s hobby was all about getting ready for Sunday so I’m going to save that for the report later this week.

The only preview I’ve got is that I finished off some more operators ready for use in the game. THis was just more of the same multicam but I’ll grab some better pictures when I cover them in the York update.


That’s it for this update, expect more updates next week!

Spectre Operations: Building a Force – Mobility, Protection, Firepower

In the last post we took a look at the basics of building a force through role specific teams. In this post, we’ll look at how vehicles can be added to regular forces in order to augment their capabilities and provide new tactics. As in part 1, this article is designed primarily for Spectre Operations but many of the tactics are valid in all modern skirmish games.

Vehicles are one of those things that players love to get their hands on. Everyone likes rolling out the big guns, using overwhelming firepower to destroy enemy positions while rolling through small arms shots like it was nothing. As a national force, you’ll have access to the widest range of vehicles, covering everything from motorcycles and quad bikes up to main battle tanks. Depending on the situation, adding a vehicle to your force will give you a massive bonus on less well equipped opponents.

The problem is that vehicles, while certainly powerful, are also incredibly vulnerable on the modern battlefield. In WW2 there were limited number of AT weapons available but the advent of anti-tank rocket launchers and HEAT warheads has meant that every infantry fireteam can carry a light anti-tank weapon, often alongside its normal loadout. The RPG-7, the darling of every bad guy, can’t crack a MBT but is easily capable of damaging and destroying medium and light vehicles. Combined with IEDs, this makes approaching urban areas a massive danger. With limited routes, its hard to avoid enemy attacks while the varying elevations give bonuses to troops shooting down into the vehicles.

Another limiting factor is that troops cooped up in a vehicle are not able to act as efficiently as they can on foot. They can’t spread out to avoid frag weapons and (if enclosed) are less effective at helping out with their own weapons. After all, when you roll “passenger compartment takes lethality check” it doesn’t matter if you’re a militiaman or an elite SF operator.

Finally, the bigger vehicles often suffer in places where constricting ROEs are used. A MBT might be able to easily splat a possible enemy position but if it’s got civilians nearby than it’s unable to act effectively.

This is harder article to write than the infantry one as it’s one case where I think using points only rather than a scenario can really break down. It’s very possible for one player to pick a force that is incapable of taking out any of the other player’s force (for example a militia player vs someone who picks two MBTs) and it just turns into one player bugging out in the first turn. Vehicles, along with certain OTAs, makes it blatantly obvious that modern war is not “fair” or balanced. For this reason, setting up the right scenario is key. If player’s are picking their own force, give them the intel they would need to be able to combat each other. Setup objectives that can’t be done from the safety of an AFV – after all, it’s pretty hard to secure buildings while in one.


There are three major aspects to look at with the vehicles: Firepower (how much damage it can deal), Mobility (how fast it can move) and Protection (how it can stay alive)

Firepower

Probably the one people rush to improve first, firepower is a big draw of all motorised platforms. Vehicles can offer two factors over infantry in this regards

  1. More firepower: Vehicles can carry weapon system that either require a team or are entirely impractical for foot mobiles. These weapon systems can be incredibly destructive (often with 1+ or 2+ lethality saves) and lay down massive amounts of suppression either through sheer rate of fire or fragmentation.
  2. More accurate firepower: Thanks to stabilisers and extra storage space for ammo, man portable systems become even more deadly. The classic GPMG on a vehicle is a perfectly sensible setup and doesn’t require someone to hoof it around. I’m also a fan of anti-material rifles mounting on vehicles – it’s one of those things that just looks cool.

One consideration is if the vehicle has the move or fire rule. Having to move slowly will let you keep for the suppression down but risks destruction at the hands of anything you don’t manage to kill.

The final point is firing arcs. Keeping the weapon on target while moving is obviously easier with a turret mount while limited fields of fire require more careful positioning.  Technicals will especially struggle with this as many of the heavier systems (like the TOW or heavier recoilless rifles) can’t shoot forward on the current spectre pickups due to the crew cab.

Mobility

Mobility is somewhere else we can split into two regarding what it offers:

  1. Vehicle Mobility: How agile is this vehicle? How far can it drive every turn and how much can it turn? Knowing what your vehicle can do will help when picking your actions. Key things to look for is Uprated Engine and Brakes (giving you additional movement and sharper turns) and All Terrain (faster movement through difficult terrain).
  2. Force Mobility: If this vehicle can carry passengers, how much of your force can it carry? Can it carry a whole squad or will you need to split them across multiple vehicles? Alternatively, could it be used for carry heavier armament like a crew served system or additional AT weapons? Vehicles acting as resupply are especially important when using the ammo loads included in the rulebook.

These two aspects combine together to affect how mobile your force is. Although rolling up and discharging troops directly onto the enemy is a bad idea, reducing how much time they spend foot slogging will help to keep them alive and make you more reactive to the enemies movement.

Protection

Finally, protection. Mobility can help with this ( after all you can’t hit what you can’t see) but having armour plate between the passenger compartment and the incoming fire helps. Fully armoured vehicles can almost ignore enemy small arms, making the dangers of being caught out in the open less than in an unarmoured vehicle. Even partial armour can help to prevent casualties. As for the poor guys in unarmoured vehicles, you need to either be going fast or sticking to cover.

Another part of protection is its subsystems. These elements can often be forgotten but can help many vehicles feel less like a civilian car and more like the platform they are supposed to represents. Key ones include Run Flats (ignoring M-Kills is a good way to stay alive), MBSGDs (for dropping smoke when under fire) and Gun Shield (excellent for protecting any top gunners).


So that’s all great, but what does that mean for picking a force?

The key principle (as I’ve tried to hammer into you so far) is to look at the mission you’re about to do. Do you need a high speed transport, a weapon platform to sit back and provide overwatch or armoured vehicle to carry the rest of your force onto the objective? What vehicles would your force have available? Would your SF team up in the foothills of the Hindu Kush really have access to a main battle tank or is it more likely it would be a mix of quad bikes, pickups and maybe a GMV?

Once the task is identified, selecting the actual elements will require matching the various archetypes available in the book to what you want to utilise. The various examples will help next to each archetype should help you choose.

Something to consider is looking at real missions and what vehicles are used. As an example, Osprey’s excellent Special Operations Patrol Vehicles includes mention of a four vehicle US ODA convoy arrangement used in 2002-2003 consisting of:

  • M1114 Armoured Humvee – Better protection than the rest of the group and carrying a heavy weapon.
  • GMV SF Humvee – Good performance, lots of firepower, plenty of space for storing supplies for the rest of the group
  • Two Non-Standard Tactical Vehicles (Pickup trucks) – Able to go places the other vehicles can’t, lower profile, plenty of space for supplies

As you can see, this combination is mainly focused on a strategic level (outside the focus of a game of Spectre) but the variety of options can help when building your own team.

I have an additional few pointers to think about when setting vehicle elements up:

  • The HMG is mounted on almost every vehicle for a reason. It’s a nice compromise, being able to hit out at both infantry (thanks to sustained fire) and light armoured vehicles (thanks to armoured piercing) equally well.
  • Civilian vehicles might seem like nothing but trouble for a force, but for low profile teams they provide a quick way of getting out of danger. Covert vehicles are often equipped armour and uprated engines making them a nasty surprise.
  • When rolling multiple vehicles in a convoy, mixing up the weapons is recommended. Different weapons are good at different things – the HMG is general purpose but a Grenade machine gun is perfect for flattening groups of enemy infantry. It does however lack the same level of precision you would gain from a machine gun so it’s not the best thing to use at close quarters. Instead, the minigun or GPMG is much more useful.
  • When outfitting weapons, remember that you can mount optical systems to many heavy weapons. A HMG with a scope (such as the setup seen on my British Army Jackals) is perfect for any sort of overwatch fire support, being able to sit well outside the range of enemy return fire will still being able to hit back effectively.
  • Once on the battlefield, there are a few things to consider:
    • Avoid built up areas with your vehicles. These are just asking for you to be ambushed.
    • Don’t waste your vehicles. Use them for their role.
    • Play each vehicle to its strength. Don’t expect your Razors to be able to take hits like a tank – instead play to it’s high speed and all terrain features.
    • Vehicles can also provide cover to troops on foot. This will continue even after its destroyed.
    •  Spectre has rules for ramming and shunting obstacles out of the way – use this when appropriate. Armoured vehicles are especially good at this.

That’s it for this article. Next time, we’ll cross the lines and start looking at how picking an OPFOR force is different, how quantity is a quality of it’s own and why you should look very carefully at what type of characters you are using.

Wargaming Week 29/01/2018

Let’s start, covering the 22nd through to the 28th of January.

BLOG STUFF

This week saw a new battle report for Spectre Operations – Big Bird Down. Overall the battle was a fun time and a great game to write up!

This week’s post is going to be a little bit shorter as I’m currently REALLY busy getting stuff ready for something.

NEWS

Nothing model news related, seems like everyone is gearing up for Vapnartak. The big news is that I’ll be at Vapa this weekend! Seems like news of our demise were greatly exaggerated – I got a message earlier this week saying its back on. So this weekend I’ll be running the latest version of Operation Dragon’s Hoard, complete with a few tweaks.

If you want to join in the game, we’re up on the Second Mezzanine floor at the racecourse. The event is at York Racecourse on the 4th of February from between 10am and 4pm

GAMING

As you can see, I got a game of Spectre in down at SESWC. As always, it’s fun to get more people playing. It was also really fun to get vehicles on the board. After the game, the BLUFOR player realised that maybe he should have used his speed more rather than getting stuck in. I’m also really he played for the objective rather than just focusing on the bodycount.

PURCHASES

As mentioned last week my Eureka figures finally turned up! Haven’t yet had a chance to start painting them but managed to get them inked up. They are perfect for early to mid 2000’s with Osprey body armour and MK6 helmets. I really like Eureka’s style of sculpting and although the weapons are a little bit larger than usually, these guys are fantastic. Full impressions coming soon.

HOBBY

A few weeks ago, I stripped back the painted Insurgent figures I had. Seeing as these guys were among the first figures I painted up I decided to redo them. This week, I managed to get them all painted up. In addition, I also finished off a few insurgents I hadn’t painted up the first time, such as the FN2000 guys. Overall, the new scheme is a lot more colourful while also being a lot neater than V1. Unfortunately, this repaint does mean I need to redo a few of my Skirmish Sangin cards.

With the news we’re now running a game at Vapnartak, there was suddenly a lot of hobby work to do:

  1. Repair some broken parts of the gaming boards: Done, filler -> textured paint -> coloured paint -> drybrush, all done.
  2. Order some new cards! This is both to replace the incorrect cards from first printing, the redone insurgents and a few extra figures I want to be available for players to choose. This isn’t quite done – I still need to finish painting the operators I’m adding to the list. Luckily the place I’m ordering the cards from offers a rush order option
  3. Assemble a new objective. There is a reason why the game is called “Dragon’s Hoard” but I hadn’t got round to building it. Luckily, I managed to get the basics assembled and painted this weekend although there are a few final tweaks to do before its ready to go. Well you known what they say, all that glitters…
  4. Touch up paint jobs. There are a few figures I’ll be using for the demo game that have taken some wear and tear. So they are in their best state for gaming, I’ll be doing a few touch ups.

That’s it for this update, expect more updates next week!

Battle Report – Big Bird Down – Spectre Operations

This week’s battle report saw me finally bringing the downed C130 down to the club. Rather than the infantry heavy Skirmish Sangin scenario that is being used for the demo game, we instead brought out the big guns and went for some vehicle action in Spectre Operations.


While flying a routine transport operation between Bazi City and Abu Dhabi, a C130 Hercules belonging to a civilian contractor suddenly reported incoming fire. The aircraft managed to attempt evasive action but contact with the aircraft was swiftly lost.

Due to the nature of the cargo on board the aircraft, the contractor was quick to report the loss citing safety reasons and the potential issues if the various militia groups in the region were to secure it. Coalition forces have attempted to find it but a massive sandstorm in the region has forced a delay.

Now the sandstorm has cleared up, intelligence has now found the crash site and spotted movement around it. JSOC has now been ordered to prepare an operation. It’s objectives are to deploy to the crash site and secure all sensitive material.

Due to the number of enemy in the area and reinforcements approaching it, US Special Forces are attacking at speed. The plan is to snatch and grab the key objectives, utilising two armed SF pickup trucks.


Forces for this engagement were as follows:

BLUFOR:

V1 – SF Technical with .50cal

Team 1 – 5 professional with the usual operator kit such as body armour, comms and personal medkits. Also a mix of weapons from carbines to compact LMGs and light AT weapons

V2 – SF Technical with minigun

Team 2 – same as team 1 but with one less LAW available.

OPFOR:

6 Trained but well equipped soldiers with body armour, assault rifles fitted with scopes and red dots and comms

2 Trained soldiers working as a sniper team with a DMR

Two groups of trained fighters (each between 5 and 10) with a mix of assault rifles and at least one MMG and RPG

2 Technicals with HMG

Technical with light recoilless rifle


The US forces start at the bottom of the board and would need to work up it. The three objectives were:

  1. Recover the black box
  2. Recover intel documents from the white SUV in the central cargo compartment
  3. Destroy the flight deck in the nose
  4. (Optional) Destroy enemy assets (such as the technicals)

OPFOR’s role was to prevent these from happening – any objectives left standing at the end would count as being under control of the bad guys.

The board layout before deployment. Lots of open areas for both sides to cross while under fire. From here you can see the objectives stretching from the black box next to the tail section up to the flight deck at the top of the board.

The game begun by both of the US vehicles rolling on the board and getting ready to fire. Vehicle 2, complete with its minigun, rolled slowly onto the board and spotted the enemy. With the characteristic “brrrt”, the minigun opened up.

In no time at all the target squad, hunkering down behind a section of wing, were taking serious hits. Each of the minigun’s six shots took out their target, causing some a chunk of suppression. However, it wasn’t all going the operator’s way. In response to this hail of gunfire, the leftover bits of the target squad (as well as the marksman team on the two storey building) opened up at their oppressor. With the hail of PKM bursts and a carefully aimed marksman shot, OPFOR managed to knock out vehicle 2’s driver, gunner and then engine block in rapid succession.

Vehicle 1, having just seen its buddy get lit up, decided to take a slightly less dangerous route. It pulled in behind the wreck of the tail section, just in range to collect the black box. It also was the perfect position to engage one of the smaller insurgent groups hiding under the wing with the .50cal.

Having seen the lead BLUFOR vehicle go down, the rest of the OPFOR vehicles moved in for a better shot. These technicals moved at full speed, giving up a round of shooting in order to get closer next turn.

Springing from their death trap of a vehicle, Team 2 moved into cover and started acting as a base of fire team for the rest of the attack. Despite coming under long-range sniper fire, the team’s biggest concerns were the approaching technicals and the left over medium machine guns that had chewed up their ride. Unfortunately, the response to the technicals missed (although did cause some suppression) at the cost of their single use AT4 rocket.

On the other hand the LMG caused merry havoc on the infantry behind the wing. After another hail took out the squad leader and a medium machine gunner, the leftover trio would have to spend time regrouping and recovering from the suppression.

On the other flank, Team 1 and their vehicle were doing well. Most of the team had disembarked,leaving only the top gunner still in the vehicle. However he swiftly got to work, the HMG cutting down the small 5 man squad over the course of two turns of fire. On the ground, the rest of the team was getting ready to deploy. The team leader disembarked, spotting the left over bits of the main enemy squad and radioed to his buddy with the 40mm grenade launcher.

One carefully aimed indirect shot later and the leftovers had been taken out.

On the other side of the board though, Team 2 were in dire straits. Although the machine gun fire had been effective, they had been exposed for just a little too long. First, the light recoilless rifle fired taking out one operator with a direct hit but missing his buddy on the luck of a dice roll. Then the HMG on the other technical fired, kill the exposed LMG gunner. Finally, in the following turn, the recoilless rifle fired again, blowing the immobile technical to pieces to prevent anyone using its minigun.

Seeing it all going to hell, the BLUFOR commander decided to cut his loses and focus on grabbing some of the objectives. To grab the black box he popped smoke, sprinted a guy out to the box and dragged it back while the rest of the team put down supporting fire. Marking the flight deck off as a lost cause, he them formulated a simple plan to solve the issue of the intelligence documents in the white SUV. Using another light anti-tank weapon, he blew the target sky-high. If BLUFOR can’t have it, no one can.

Loading the black box onto the remaining vehicle, squad 1 mounted up (apart from two escorts) and made a sprint for the edge of the board. Despite the rest of the enemy being hot on their heels, BLUFOR managed to escape unharmed.


That was a really fun game. Trying to roll the unarmoured SF pickups directly into the line of fire might have been a bad move to begin with but the fact that the operators managed to hold the bad guys (mostly). I think this game does show how vulnerable the highly trained operators can be while they are still mounted as they can’t rely on their improved skills as much.

Next time though, I’d give BLUFOR something a little more armoured like so they could actually be more likely to thunder run up the board.