Wargaming Week 17/07/2017

Let’s start, covering the 10th of July through to the 16th of July.

Hey, so this is my holiday week so not going to spend much of it on blog stuff. For that reason, I’m not posting anything this Saturday – going to be spending it enjoying a little time away.

That said, I’m still doing

So updates from last week?

  • Big news regarding the writing project – it’s reached a very exciting point and how much I can actually work on has dropped giving me more free time!
  • Big thing last week was Razor week – it was a cool idea and people seem to have enjoyed it
  • I managed to play some Spectre Operations – full report coming soon. Was a good game – the operators managed to almost get to the objective before the hordes of locals turned up. After that practise session, I’m ready for Cardiff.
  • Not much hobby stuff – I spent most of the week getting ready for holiday. All I’ve managed to finish is Deniable Operators. Really happy I managed to get them finished, especially as they actually use colours other than brown and green.

And that’s it for this week, full update and posts coming week commencing 24/07/2017

Tactics: Razors on the Battlefield

Photo from Spectre Miniatures

So now you’ve got your Razor, built it up to how you want and found the rules for your system of choice, how should you actually use them on the tabletop? I’m going to primarily look at their use in Spectre Operations, in particular, analysing the rules that the team at Spectre have released. However, many of the concepts are applicable across multiple games.

Fast Attack

The first thing about the Razor is it’s really, REALLY fast – a move value of 16″ means it’s almost the fastest thing on the board (just in behind the motorbike). In addition, it’s also All Terrain so rough ground barely slows it down. It also has the rule Agile, making it able to turn on a dime; great for getting out of harm’s way in cramped and crowded streets. Finally on the positives, the rule Muffled Engine let’s the Razor get even closer before the alarm is raised, a great addition for stealth games.

The downside is that it has no armour with one of the lowest  DC values in the game. This isn’t an AFV, it’s a taxi designed to get you from A to B quickly and over rough terrain.

So as a high-speed, all terrain vehicle it can be great when you need to make a quick getaway or extract a VIP from the hot zone. Just remember you can only board a stationary vehicle and it can’t move in the same turn passengers embark. On the plus side, it’s open-topped nature means the rear passengers can easily put down fire as you race away.

Fire Support

Photo from Spectre Miniatures

By default, the Razor’s only weapon is the commander’s machine gun. This arm mounted weapon can be a compact LMG up to a 7.62 firing minigun (the current kit and crew come with a MMG with scope and suppressor). If the Razor only has this, then it’s mainly in place for self-defence or suppressing the bad guys during the final run into the drop off/exfil – the range of these weapons is going to put you right under the nose of the bad guys and you are in danger of biting off more than you can chew. Additionally, the arm only has a limited field of fire, so it can’t engage targets on the other side of the vehicle or behind it – this is where your passengers come in handy.

The Razor can also take a roll bar mounted weapon system. The weapon in this slot is limited by being Move or Fire (something the unarmoured but quick vehicle would probably prefer not to have) but the options for this slot are much more destructive, including HMGs and auto grenade launchers. Having both slots filled with weapons turns the Razor into something similar to a WMIK, perfect for forming a fast-moving base of fire for your main assault. Take advantage of the range of these systems to stay away from incoming fire and keep moving to the best locations, bearing in mind a vehicle mounted HMG doesn’t need to pack and then unpack when relocating.

Supply Point

Photo from Spectre Miniatures

The Razor also has another bonus to it – the fact it can carry additional gear. I can see this ability being underestimated by many players but it could actually be something very important for a small force. If you max out each character with multiple weapon systems (using the rules in the book for max equipment carried), then additional launchers and items for specific uses can be stored in a moving supply point. It’s conceivable that when a team of operators assaults a town, a character could use a sniper rifle outside the town to take advantage of the large range intervals before swapping it out for a shotgun as the fight gets up close and personal.

Stowing kit in a vehicle also means weapons that include the encumbering rule (such as MMGs) can be stowed until close to the fighting, removing that modifier to agility and allowing them to move at the same speed as their team (when sprinting or tactically moving) before grabbing a bigger gun when needing to form a fire position. The other items (long-range comns and medical gear) let you have access to this important kit with a certain character being stuck in the role as the game begins. Instead, as soon as the first casualty happens, any figure close to the Razor can grab what’s needed and then rush to begin triage.

The Razor 4 also has the ability to transport a crew served missile launcher, making the Razor a great vehicle to carry a tank hunter team when fighting armoured opposition. Just remember to shoot and scoot, seeing as your armour is not particularly thick.

Conclusion

Overall the Razor provides some new capabilities on the Spectre battlefields. When all of its functionality is being used, it provides a unique vehicle with multiple benefits. There are some roles it should not be used in (frontal assaults across minefields for example) but for the ones it’s suitable in I can’t see it disappointing the player in charge.

The main thing to remember is to play to its strengths : keep moving, don’t get pinned in place, think about your loadout carefully before the game begins. Apart from that, it’s a cool model to have on the tabletop and I look forward to seeing them crop up in battle reports.

Additional Rules: Razor In Other Games

Spectre have released their Razor model and alongside it brought out some rather cool rules to include it in their Spectre Operations game.

The Razor has a few key characteristics that separate it from other vehicles. These are

  1. High speed even over rough terrain
  2. Small size, light weight and lacking in armour
  3. Carrying capacity
  4. Weapon carrying

Using this set of ideas as a starting point, I donned the writing helmet and delved into my pile of rules (covered in great detail here). The first issue that came up was OSC and Danger Close. Both these rule sets currently lack rules for vehicles (although OSC is getting its rules in the next update). In those games, a Razor would be sited just off the board to act as a resupply or MG position and provide support. This left three rulesets to take a look at. Spectre’s rules does include the Razor 4 variant, different to the model that is released, but for now we will focus on the smaller Razor 2.

These rules are in their very early stages and so may be slightly unbalanced. If in doubt, talk them through with your opponents and tweak if needed. Think of these as guidelines.

Black Ops

Black Ops is a cool system that is super easy to get into and great fun to play. It’s rare that you will bring your own vehicles to the party (relying on stealth and all that) but for the Razor we can make an exception.

Razor 2 Stats

NameFrontSideRearCardEquipmentCrew (Passengers)Points
Razor 2000KingLMG (commander's)Driver, Commander (2)6

Rules

  • Razors count as man-sized targets when shooting at them (like bikes). When hit, they use the car row in the hit location table.
  • The Razor, as you can see in the stats, has no armour. You’ll want to drive very quickly.
  • Razors are fast: Cautious Move is 7″, Advance is 14″ and Run is 22″
  • The front machine gun always counts as stationary (so you always gain the additional shot)
  • The Razor has a quiet engine. It does not immediately raise the alarm, instead it generates a noise counter every turn it moves. This is increased to two noise counters if it Advances or three if it Runs

Options

  • The commander LMG can be upgraded to a GPMG for 1pt or a minigun for 4pts
  • The roof slot can be fitted with a heavy weapon. This turns one of the passengers into a gunner. The weapons available are: LMG 2pts, GPMG 3pts, HMG 4pts, AGL 5pts
  • The vehicle can carry two additional weapons (bought from those available to its faction) that can be used by character. Additionally, including a Razor allows the squad to take an additional squad upgrade for the usual points cost.

 

Force on Force

So Force on Force isn’t my favourite game and I haven’t used a ton of vehicles in it. However, looking around, it seems like many of the stat lines are standardised and anything on the small side will look pretty similar. I’m basing this off the Chenworth DPV with a few small tweaks. I was tempted by Deathtrap as an attribute but I think it would be a negative too far. Instead Technical makes it a less effective gun platform.

For weapon stats, check the rulebook.

NameClassTypeFirepowerGun RatingMGsFrontSideRearDeckCrewAttributes
Razor 2SW (Optional)
M2HB
or
Mk19
or
M240
(optional)M240 (3D)1d61d61d61d62+2Technical

Skirmish Sangin

Skirmish Sangin provides me with a problem as there are two ways to implement the Razor – treat it as a vehicle or use something similar to the motorcycle rules covered in Dispatches 2. I prefer the second option due to its increased detail but in case you don’t have a copy of Dispatches 2 I’ll present both options.

The Vehicle Option

The Razor 2 in Skirmish Sangin is generated the standard way depending on the crew experience level. The important information is the following:

VehicleArmourIED ProtectionPrimary WeaponSecondary WeaponCrewCost Morale ModCapacity
Razor 200None (Can be replaced with MMG, HMG, GMG)MMG (can be replaced with LMG)2 + 2
(3+1 if primary weapon is bought)
100 (not including weapons)04

The Razor can be used to carry additional gear. Players before the game can pay points values to store weapons and hand grenades in the vehicle. It takes 2AP to collect an item from the vehicle. I recommend limiting it to a small number of grenades and between 2 and 4 long arms. Mention your loadout to your opponent before the game starts and keep track of which character has which weapon by using a token. 

 

THE BIKE-ISH OPTION

The other way of showing off the Razor is to treat it like the motorbikes in Dispatches 2 (page 61) but with some minor tweaks due to it being a slightly larger and more stable platform. I’d use the following changes:

  • A Razor is bought as a vehicle using the profile above but without crew. It is instead crewed by four other figures bought as normal. These use their Drive skill. As ISAF troops would be more used to driving motorised vehicles, they get the skill for free. It is generated the same way – BODY x experience level.
  • A Razor has 4 crew positions – Driver, Commander and two rear passengers.
    • The Driver’s Drive skill is used for all tests involving the vehicle moving.
    • The Commander uses the commander seat’s weapon (their own weapon has been stashed away) and using their heavy weapon skill. The firing arc is from the forward position to the 4 o’clock position
    • The rear passengers can only shoot backwards and use their own weapons. They can only fire pistols, SMGs, Assault Rifles, Shotguns, grenade launchers, LMGs or MMGs while in that seat and only in the rear arc.
    • If a heavy weapon has been purchased it is mounted on the roll bars. One of the rear passengers is now the gunner. They can only fire in a forward arc, must use their heavy weapon skill and only shoot when the vehicle is stationary.
  • If a Razor collides with a character, it does not inflict damage on the crew. However, it does force a morale test.
  • If the Razor crashes, the crew take 1D10 damage. However, the vehicle can then move on after the crew members take a morale test.
  • If you attempt to ram a vehicle with the Razor, the other vehicle takes 1D10 damage. The crew of the Razor take 2D10 and must then take a morale test.
  • The team on board operates as a fireteam, with all crew members using the driver’s activation phases. They each get 3AP to use on the table on page 61 of Dispatches 2 but act in a random order.
  • When shooting, the crew take the modifier for shooting on the move. The driver does not shoot – his hands are on the wheel.
  • The Razor moves the full distance of 40 metres no matter how many crew it is carrying.
  • If a crewman is hit, they do not need to take a drive test to remain in the vehicle. However if the driver is hit while moving, the vehicle will move forward half its move distance in the next turn. If it impacts difficult terrain, it crashes.
  • The Razor provides light cover to anyone on foot behind it.
  • When disembarked, the Razor’s commander weapon can be used by a model standing close to it. It takes 1AP to begin using the weapon and 1AP to disengage from it. The firing arc is from the front of the vehicle to the rear of the vehicle as long as it does not clip through the Razor’s body.
  • The Razor can still carry gear using the rule mentioned above in the vehicle section.

That’s it for now. I hope more people will take a look at these cool vehicles and see that can be used everywhere, providing a new set of capabilities in any fire fight. Try out the rules, see what works and I look forward to your feedback!

Wargaming Week 10/07/2017

Let’s start, covering the 3rd of July through to the 9th of July.

BLOG STUFF

Razor week has begun! It was a rush to the finish and to get the two posts out (Part 2 of the Razor impressions and impressions on the new stowage). However, I’m getting some good responses on it. I was trying to get the vehicles painted up before release but it hit 5pm and decided to go with what I had. Good news, I finished off the vehicles and you can see them below.

There are two more articles coming out this week on the Razor so stick around for more details on the adorable little things.

GAMING

So there was going to be something in this slot but unfortunately my buddy had to drop out and get ready for his holiday. However, this chance to run a demo game did lead me to write up a new scenario designed to get into the action quickly and show off what can happen. It’s also going to be a second part to the INTEL series, so we can finally see what happened to all those trackers.

PURCHASES

Okay, so that isn’t an ultramodern figure above. I’m a keen fan of Warhammer 40k and although I don’t have an army, there are a few characters that I love. One of which is Cypher, the leader of the Fallen who is on a mysterious quest and keep evading capture. I particularly like the new version and seeing a friend was seeing him I just had to pick it up. This is the most recent GW model I’ve pick up and it’s interesting to see the changes to both the sculpting and assembly method. It’s packed full of detail, such as the fine detail on the gauntlets and especially on the sword. Additionally, the mechanic of assembling is very different to the old Space Marines; the largest piece is comprised of elements from the leg, body and arm. It’s simple to assemble and almost guaranteed to give you the same pose every time with little chance of slippage after assembly.

HOBBY

So the Razors are now finished. I really like them as model – there is a great weight to them and they were a fun project to build. I’m still not a fan of assembling crew off the model, getting them painted and then re-attached. Now they are ready, I look forward to them zooming around the tabletop.

I also finally got all my models stripped. Took me an evening of scrubbing with a toothbrush but a big chunk of my completed figures are now ready to be repainted in an improved scheme. I also managed to tweak a few of the British models, fixing a duff pose or three that had happened the first time I built them.


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

Impressions: Spectre’s Vehicle Stowage Alfa

Alongside the release of the Razor, Spectre also released a set of vehicle stowage. Designed to let you personalise and add detail to any form of hobby project, the stowage kit comes with a pile of things to weigh down your vehicle of choice. It also hopefully points to future plans from Spectre which are exciting for anyone with a pile of Humvees or objectives that need some extra detail to them.

So for your £7.50, what do you get? According to the site description:

  • 1 each of large, medium and small cooler/storage box
  • 1 x long gun Pelican case.
  • 2 x mid-size Pelican cases.
  • 1  x laptop Pelican case.
  • 2 x ammo boxes
  • 4 x NATO Jerry cans
  • 1 x SatCom Antenna
  • 2 x Sand Boards
  • 2 x Multi-Barrelled Smoke Grenade Dischargers (MBSGD)
  • 1 x AT-4
  • 4 x Light Antitank Weapon (LAW)
  • 4 x packs

The models arrive in a small plastic bag and, apart from a quick trim of some flash, are good to go. Most things are pretty obvious, the only sticking point being the ammo boxes – for a while I couldn’t work out the second one but it’s a smaller one (more designed for grenades) as opposed to the more common design.

For highlights, I really like the AT-4 and the LAW; they are a really simple way of adding some AT firepower to any squad while still looking really cool. The MBSGDs are also really clever with the perfect shape to fit under the bull bars of an SUV. There are also some nice variations in the rucksacks, giving you everything from a daysack up to something bergen sized. Finally, there are the pelican cases – not great for your militia forces but that long gun case might have a nasty surprise in it when on the back of an SF Pickup.

So what did I use them for? Well, the first order of the day was fixing a mistake I made way back in the early days of my collection. I picked up the SAS Recce Patrol support back when the Spectre webstore started (consisting of a LMG gunner and a marksman) and then didn’t use their bergens. This was so the figures could pull double duties with the SAS Low Profile team (the packs themselves ended up in the hands of several British squaddies). Having just stripped the early paint job, now seemed a great time to give them an upgrade.

The LMG gunner took the biggest pack while the marksman  got a smaller pack put a pair of LAWs ready to knock out tanks (and to cover the joins). The packs have two parts of the strap at the top and, although they don’t fit as well as the original, they do look pretty effective. Even better, they work well with the rest of the squad making them look as heavily laden as their buddies.

The other first use is adding some detail to my 2nd Razor. I cover this in the second Razor post but it went into place very easily, requiring almost no clean up while making it look like it latched over the top of the frame.

For the future? Some of the boxes will be going on my existing weapon teams to give them somewhere to store the ammo while others will be saved to really laden down a few upcoming releases. I’m also looking at getting the plasticard out and making some fillers for the truck bed covered in gear – perfect for supply vehicles or objectives.

In the end, I think this stowage pack is one of the best on the market. There are lots of bits you would end up using and its a worthwhile purchase for anyone wanting to add a little extra to their vehicles, soldiers or terrain. When combined with the ammo boxes already out, it will be easy to give everything the right level of clutter.

If you’re wanting some stowage for yourself, you can find it on the Spectre Webstore at https://www.spectreminiatures.com/products/stowage-alfa for £7.50

Impressions: Spectre’s Razor Part 2

Before you read this impression, I really recommend going back and reading the original impressions on the Razor. I only intend to cover the new stuff and most of what I talk about in the previous post covers building the Razor now.

It’s taken a while but the Razor is now available from the Spectre website! Although it’s currently out of stock due to everyone buying them, they are now actually on the site. In addition, there are now crew and stowage available so you can make your vehicle look even more operator. We’re going to take a look through these new arrivals, and then have a quick update on my own Razors.

Razor 2

Building the Razor that arrived in the post was almost exactly the same as in my original post. I had to do a little clean up on the parts (you can still see the flash in the picture above) and I had to fix a cracked mud guard. Apart from that, the various pieces assembled easily. It was helped by the instructions now being online which mostly matched up to my procedures

There were a few things I tweaked but these were mainly due to the other releases that came out the same day. Primarily, I left off the seats, roll cage, steering wheel and GPMG. The other thing I left off is what sits in front of the passenger to make it match up with my pre-built one. I think it’s a handle (something to hold onto as the driver guns it) but I think the original part went missing somewhere between the Salute showfloor and my flat.

Razor Stowage

Image from Spectre Miniatures as someone forgot to snap photos when the models turned up

The first new addition is the Razor Stowage pack. The pack contains three items (two jerry cans in storage racks and a spare tire on frame). Both objects come with mounting brackets designed for specific places; the spare tire clips onto the top of the roll cage while the storage racks slot into the slits on either side of the cargo frame. However, you can easily trim them down if you want to place them somewhere else, such as cutting the supports off the racks so they can be placed on the rear gate of the cargo bed.

As for the looks, it really makes the Razor look a lot more suited for the off-road life and less civilian. The design features of the elements (in order to help place the items) is really smart and helps a lot with placement without giving a hard and fast “ITEMS MUST BE PLACED IN THIS LOCATION”.

Razor Crew

The other major addition is the crew. Unlike the technicals, the Razor is open to the elements and so really requires crew figures for use on the tabletop (it’s a bit strange rolling an empty buggy around the world). The two crew packs give you four figures in total; Alfa with the front crew (Driver and Gunner) and Bravo with the two guys sat in the cargo bed. Splitting the crew into two packs let you easily pick the crew you want, especially if you want to fill the rear cargo section with some form of cargo without having spare figures left over. The figures have the same shapes on the bottom of them that match up with the seats so that the crew fit in the correct place. The crew designs fit with the rest of the Spectre range, looking closest to the Task Force Operators or Rangers collections.

Now, the crew do come moulded into the seats and this was a minor annoyance as someone who built up their vehicle before they were available. However, after having seen the final product, there is no way I’d have wanted the figures separately as you would not have been able to get the same level of posing as these guys have. It’s cool how the crew members actually feel part of the vehicle (such as the driver with one foot on the outside of the buggy) rather than just resting on top of it. Also the guys in the back do not look massively

Fitting the steering is a pain in the neck and the getting the GPMG into location required some careful balancing of three separate pieces. But overall, these guys are a must buy if you have a Razor that you intend to have rolling round the battlefield

My Razors

So that’s cool for everyone else but what am I doing with mine?

So first thing – I made my first Razor before the crew were available and so it’s fitted with the seats. This means that without serious surgery (not something I want to try on resin) I can’t mount crew on it. But this gave me a plan. Razor 1 would become the dismounted version, ready for use as an objective or when the team dismounts. Razor 2, the brand new one, would get the crew figures. I would then make sure both had the same arrangement of gear and spare tires and paint them up in the same way.

This did throw up a minor issue. On Razor 1, the GPMG is stowed against the side of the cargo deck (primarily to make sure there isn’t a fragile piece of metal sticking out at a right angle). On Razor 2,this GPMG is now in an active position as the gunner starts hammering away. This leaves a giant empty space on the side of the vehicle where I can’t mount a rack as it wouldn’t match. However, the other release of the week came to the rescue. I stuck a bag over the space on Razor 2 – the thinking is that the team has grabbed their assault pack after dismounting (hence why it’s missing on Razor 1). It’s a cool little thing that no one apart from me will notice.

The next step was painting. Both the vehicles got a black undercoat and then followed by a desert tan spray. I then painted the details. I also painted up the crew using the new multicam pattern separately from the vehicles so the shadows on them would still be black. I then got the joy of assembling them onto a mostly finished buggy. This is a painting method I hate but in this case I think it was the best option.

As you can see in the photo above, I didn’t quite finish them before going to press. However, I should have them done for Monday’s Wargaming Week.

Conclusion Part 2

The Razor is an exciting kit to build and looks great when finished. However, I think the additional packs really make it. The stowage gives them a cooler feel while the crew is basically vital. Total cost for a fully equipped Razor (buggy + both crew packs + razor specific stowage) is around £33 which is quite expensive for such a small vehicle. However, it is packed full of detail and makes a nice centerpiece/tactical option for an elite force of operators.

Looking ahead, I hope we get more stowage and alternative crew poses. The rules page has some interesting points on it (such as a mount for heavy weapons on the roll cage which seems nuts) and even mentions some more variations on the Razor design. As I said in the first impressions piece, the Razor shows off a super exciting and interesting direction of releases that Spectre can go in.

If you are wanting your own Razor and accessories, you can all the bits over at https://www.spectreminiatures.com/collections/vehicles

Wargaming Week 03/07/2017

Let’s start, covering the 26th of June through to the 2nd of July.

BLOG STUFF

We took a trip to Bazistan, my fake imagi-nation this week. It was really great to get all of the information I’ve had lying around and collate it into one place. I’m going to use it as a place to jump off from for paint schemes and model projects; I’m looking at repainting some of my Empress USSF figures to stand in as special troops for the Republic of Aden, ready to fight the insurgents crossing the border.

This weekend also saw the start of a new month and a few milestones. Looking at the stats, the blog is down from last month’s massive view count but it’s better than April’s views so I’m pretty happy with that. I’m also super happy that I managed to stick to a release schedule. Another milestone was reaching over 100 likes on the facebook page. This blog is just a hobby but it’s cool to see people actually reading my stuff.

GAMING

No gaming but its getting close. I’ll be running a tutorial session for someone this week and giving Skirmish Sangin a go. Also rules writing is reaching that exciting point where it comes down to little tweaks – the end of the road is in sight and then people will get to see what I’ve been working on.

PURCHASES

Photo from Spectre Miniatures

Something that has been on my to buy list for a while is another Razor from Spectre. After having built the original before the crew were available, I’ve been desperate to pick up another to add the crew to and have rolling round the battlefield. Well, over the weekend that finally released a load of stuff alongside the buggies. I’ve picked up a second one, the crew figures, two sets of razor stowage (so I can make the two vehicles match) and one of the larger packs (for making the technicals I have look even cooler)

However, I did notice a problem. When I assembled the Razor, I stowed the MG tight against the passenger side of the back vehicle. This is where one of the stowage racks hangs which I now can’t place. However, I have a plan. Using the stowage pack, I’ll put one of the rucksacks on the crewed version – when the team dismounted, one of them obviously grabbed his pack to use in the fight.

Also using the photo from Spectre reminds me just how much I want to improve my photo taking. Once I get the boards built and the scenery painted, I want to go through my figures, use a nice camera and get a load of good photos rather than the “here is picture of my desk”.

HOBBY

Phew, lots of hobby stuff this week so this will be a quick fire round.

The C130 for my demo board is almost ready to be chopped up. This week saw me get the wings and tail attached to the fuselage. I also scored out the rough cut lines

The last few Empress SAS figures turned up and I got them painted. I really like these guys and will be using them for CGS on the battlefields of Bazistan. The HQ pack is pretty standard but the sniper team caused a problem. For skirmish games, I usually like to base individually. However, my sniper team for the US was based on a single heavy weapons team that looks a little better. However, seeing as I’ll be using these guys as individuals a lot, I just go inventive with my building. The sniper was simple (careful positioning got both parts on the base) but the spotter need a little tweak. I ended up cutting the spotting scope off its mount and just attaching it to his hand. Hopefully, you’ll see these guys in action soon.

The second Foxhound from Evil Bear turned up, finally giving me two vehicles ready for deploying a British fireteam into action. I love these vehicles and with a few tweaks they can be used for non-military applications. To fit this more, I ended up removing the GPMGs. To let me re-add them when the situation demanded, I fit some rare earth magnets into the slots where the guns usualy sit – this required only minor work and I’m happy with the results. Now to finish painting them.

So the stripping part continues. Last week I experimented with Acetone and honestly, not that impressed with the results. It pulled the paint off with ease (as well as the green stuff and super glue) but seemed to be unusable after only a few figures. Instead, I’ve moved over to Isopropyl Alcohol. Instead of just leaving them, I have to scrub with a tooth brush but the end result is much better and doesn’t required as much stinky liquid hanging around my flat. I’m already a chunk of the way though – my British Army platoon entered the stripping material on Sunday so I’m expecting I can start back on the repainting next week. And god, do some of the paint schemes need replacing.

In addition to the actual stripping, I’ve been pulling figures off their bases so I can rebase them up to my recent standard. Part of this is tweaking the bases on Empress figures from giant rectangles that are readily obvious down to smaller less regular shapes that are easier to hide.

 


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

Briefing on Bazistan

You may have noticed the word “Bazistan” has been thrown around in several of the battle reports. So what on earth is it? Well, it’s an imagi-nation, a fake nation constructed for the simple purpose of providing a backdrop for my games. Rather than just including a random word in every battle, I thought I should actually explain what Bazistan is and why I use it.

Why an imagi-nation?

Despite playing “historical” rulesets, imagi-nations provide a powerful tool for gamers getting involved in ultramodern warfare. Here are the main reasons why I play in Bazistan rather Afghanistan or Iraq explicitly

  1. Avoiding difficult situations – One of the first things I learnt when I started trying to introduce people to ultramodern wargaming is that some people do not want to play in the modern day. Some people do not want to play anything past WW2. An imagination gives you a step back, letting you use the word “inspired by”. I have met a lot of people who would not play if I said the words “Kabul” rather than “Bazi City”.
  2. Total control over scenarios – In my opinion, playing in the real world requires you to be slightly more sensible and accurate with your missions – it would be strange to have Challenger 2s rolling around Afghanistan. In contrast, setting missions in Bazistan lets me play whatever I want. One week I could have a serious, military maneuver with British forces pushing through a village then the next have four thieves breaking into a warehouse used by a bunch of mercs, all using the same world. Similarly, I get reasons to use all sorts of forces. Pile of early ’90s US forces? Just found the forces for the local government. Collection includes Taliban and Iraqi insurgents? Bazistan has it’s tribal forces and urban militia.
  3. World Building – I come from a RPG playing background (one of the things that got me through my final project at uni was living with an excellent DM) and so writing worlds for me is fun. I’m also a huge Tom Clancy fan – following his lead using the real world as a starting point and tweaking a few factors is a great way to make something that feels real while also letting you mould it to your liking.

Overall, I can see both sides of the argument over imagi-nations. However, it’s a tool I like to pull from the box to make my games into something special.

Briefing on Bazistan

After WW1, when the British split the Arabian Peninsula, there was an additional kingdom that didn’t become part of Saudi Arabia. The Bazis are a proud tribe who managed to maintain control of their lands by acting as the middlemen to those who attempted to conquer them. To the Ottomans, the Bazi kept control of the lawless desert while providing their taxes on time. When the British arrived in Aden in 1838, the Bazis leased the land around Aden in perpetuity and provided access rights to the mines in the interior.

Post WW1, the Bazis established themselves as a kingdom  under King Bazhir the 1st. They appealed to the British and for a while became a protectorate, depending on the British for defence (particularly against their larger neighbour) and foreign policy. King Bazhir wanted to create a modern nation, welcoming in industrial concerns and assembling a modern defence force. WW2 saw Bazistan taking on the defence of the Bazi-Djibouti strait, allowing easy access for ships using the Suez Canal. Bazi troops also joined the Commonwealth forces in the Middle East, fighting in Iraq and forming part of the occupation force.

In the post war world, King Bazhir began in secret to foment a desire for Bazistan to no longer be under the British. Rather than seeking a violent break, Bazistan sorted out a deal and in the aftermath of Suez, Bazistan was diplomatically separated from Britain in 1958. Aden remained as a colony but after the announcement in 1968 that Britain was withdrawing from “east of Aden”, it also sought independence and became a tiny petrochemically funded state in 1970.

1970 also saw the death of King Bazhir the 1st, leaving the crown to his son who became King Bazhir the 2nd. The son was not as closely tied to the west as his father, having travelled to the Soviet Union as a student. This led to a shift in interior policies and a massive rearmament program that gave the CIA great concern. In November 1972 the Bazistani Army crossed into Aden in an attempt to seize the oilfields and mines. The local defence forces, assisted by the Royal Air Force and (it is rumoured) the SAS managed to stall the tanks in the mountains until a small British taskforce arrived. The Bazis eventually retreated after 40 days and the royal family (assisted by the Royal Guard) outsed Bazhir the 2nd, giving the throne to his cousin Ahmed.

Ahmed the 1st then decided to play a risky game. Rather than aligning with the East or West, Ahmed sat in the centre and proclaimed his country “The Switzerland of the Middle East”. Bazistan became a hotbed of espionage filled with spies from many nations while at the same time, taking advantage of anyone wishing to invest in the country. Around this time, King Ahmed opened the Royal Industrial area just outside Bazi City. The first occupant? The Argo Corporation, an American industrial conglomerate with multiple arms producing everything from farming machinery to weapon systems.

In the south, the Republic of Aden continued its growth as well, especially with the discovery of offshore oil in the Gulf of Aden. However, the democratic government became concerned about its security (especially after it’s discovery of oil and other resources) and so it signed a new agreement with the British. Rather than becoming a protectorate, Aden would give BP a first chance at all oil reserves and also provide Britain with a year round desert training area just outside of the city of Aden. This area has plenty of space for armoured units and fast jets to perform mock operations as well as fake neighborhoods for counter insurgency training. In return, the British would help train the local defence force and promise to guarantee independence.

As the Cold War ended, Bazistan was relatively stable and remarkably advanced for the region. King Ahmed however was growing old and frail. Seemingly to prevent the country imploding in a time that did not agree with monarchy, and cautious of the whispers of revolution on the wind, Ahmed setup a semi-constitutional system. The final buck stopped with the king but each district sent elected advisors to the court. Ahmed’s son, Bazhir the 3rd was to be the first king under this system and he took the throne in 1998 with the death of his father.

To put it mildly, the system proved to be terrible and Bashir the 3rd is a terrible king. As the 21st century began, much of the economic boom’s profit was spread out amongst the king and his advisors. Democratic elections failed almost entirely. As the price of oil began to plummet, Bazistan began to fall to pieces. To help break the camel’s back, an advisor managed to sneak in a law that allowed the forming of private militias for “self defence”. At the same time, the Argo Corporation have announced the expansion of their security department in order to protect their interests in the country.

South of the border, Aden became even more important as a partner to the British. The Aden Warm Weather Training Centre became a key facility for the British Army in the Middle East, providing acclimatisation training for troops heading to Iraq and as a testing ground for new equipment. Even after the withdrawal, Aden hosts a yearly desert warfare training exercise that brings in forces from around the world to share experience. Additionally, Private Military Companies have paid to use the training area before contracts in the triple states that now form Iraq or bodyguard duty in the Gulf States.

Current Situation

So that’s the basic situation in Bazistan, what is going on as the wargaming period (2014 onwards) begins?

Internally, Bazistan is beginning to crack. The mountain tribes are seeking a return to traditional ways. Rebellious acts are on the rise and the army has been deployed as part of policing actions. Images of BTRs and T72s fighting through mountain passes and Hinds flying down the valleys remind many defence journalists of the Russian intervention in Afghanistan. In the cities, there has been a rise in militias forming. These groups have now created no-go zones in key urban areas. Worse, these militias have been engaging the government security forces in battle and the attackers have included mercenaries from Eritrea (many still carrying their military ID cards). The worsening security situation, as well as the slowing economy, has led to a rise in PMCs hired by both the government and local interests.

Well the first thing is the worsening situation between Bazistan and its neighbours. In the south, factions seeking to overturn the Aden lease have been running cross border raids in an attempt to force the Republic into joining it’s larger brother. The most recent attack saw the involvement of British forces after a patrol discovered the insurgents setting up a resupply point and requested air support. Britain has warned Bazistan about these events and are deploying more troops to assist the Aden Security Force (ASF).

Bazistan is also the home of a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Ever since it’s creation, Saudi Arabia has been very concerned about Bazistan’s border and it’s proximity to Mecca. During the 1980’s, Bazistan and Saudi Arabia had several border crossing incidents with fighter jets have several close encounters and a dangerous crash that led to a hot point. To prevent this happening again, Saudi Arabia began spending its money to arm sympathetic militias and keep key friendly government elements in power.

On the other side, Iran sees Bazistan as the perfect back door into Saudi Arabia. If the Bazistan government was to be friendlier to Iran, it would force Saudi Arabia to fight on two fronts. To help this, Iran has been funding militias, insurgent groups and politicians interested in regime change. They have also deployed QUDs Force, leading to the CIA descending on the area to hunt these troublemakers down before they can cause any major issues.

Finally, Russia sees Bazistan as a potential ally in the region. They have begun to increase investment and recently signed a bilateral deal to provide access to the Bazistan Desert Training Area in return for economic assistance. This has seen the arrival of small elements of the Russian armed forces in the country. In addition, a recent report leaked to the Guardian included mentions of a large Russian intelligence gathering and direct action base in Bazi City.

Moving on in the timeline there will be several events fixed in stone. At some point, following what has been labelled “The Bazistan Incident” in my notes, ISAF AP will cross from Aden into Bazistan as a peacekeeping force. Apart from that, I’m writing up more events as I play more games.

Factions

  • Bazistan – Bazistan’s army is a mixture of equipment – first line infantry and armour are equipped with western gear while the second line and reserves are armed with the old Soviet tanks and weapon systems. The army is still in a reasonable state in spite of the economic issues.
    • Royal Guard – A subset of the army, the Royal Guard has the best equipment and training. In addition, the Royal Guard have special forces units designed for covert operations in defence of the royal family.
    • Internal Security Force – Formerly known as the National Police of Bazistan, the ISF function as both police and as additional army units as and when required. To assist in this role, the ISF have several BTR 80s for military use
  • Aden Security Force (ASF) – South of the border, the ASF protect the Republic of Aden. A self defence force, the ASF is designed to police the civilian population and hold long enough in wartime for the West to intercede. Although not as well trained or as well equipped as the British, it is a professional force.
  • ISAF AP (International Security Assistance Force: Arabian Peninsula) – Encompassing all expeditionary forces in Arabia (including NATO forces stationed in Saudi Arabia)
    • UK – The British have a permanent force as part of the training centre in Aden and rotates other units through
    • US – Despite the US having a base in Djibouti, some units have been taking part in exercises in Aden. US Marines, US Army Rangers and a Stryker Combat Team have all rotated through. Additionally, an arrangement is in place to allow USSOCOM to operate from Aden when required.
    • Other nations – French, German, Australian and New Zealand forces have all attended exercises at the ranges in Aden.
  • PMC – There are multiple Private Military Companies operating in the region ranging from purely security forces to trainers working with the Bazistan government up to contractors providing special operations skills to the highest bidder.
    • The Argo Corporation – Argo has several divisions in Bazistan, including a large proportion of their armament industry. Because of this, Argo has expanded it’s security. Argo now has a wide range of capabilities from facility security up to pre-emptive strikes against possible threats to the company.
    • Commando Global Solutions – One of the smaller companies on the circuit, CGS offers capabilities to it’s clients that would be more usually seen in the SOF community. They are also the protagonists of the main series of games included in Weekend Warfare
  • Irregular Forces – As well as official regular forces, Bazistan is fast becoming home to a wide variety of irregular, non-governmental forces.
    • Urban Militias – Thanks to a change in the law, there has been an explosion in the rise of militias controlling various neighbourhoods in the major cities. These militias are armed in various ways
      • Local Defence – Most militias are being formed by a neighbourhood, wanting to protect it from criminal organisations and other forces that might threaten their life. BEcause of their lack of backing, the defence militias are primarily armed with assault rifles and using civilian vehicles to get around.
      • Iran Friendly – Several militias have gained patronage from the government of Iran. The Revolutionary Guard see these militias a way of implementing a change in regime in Bazistan and so have provided training, equipment and trained Quds force troops to act as advisers and leaders.
      • Saudi Friendly –  As an almost mirror image to the Iranian friendly groups, Saudi Arabia has been backing it’s own militias, particularly in Bazi City itself. The Saudis act primarily through middlemen who use the funding source to purchase vehicles and weapons for the militia fighters.
    • Criminal Organisations – With the worsening economic situation, criminal groups are becoming more common in Bazistan. These groups are often working for one of the king’s advisers, reclaiming debts, running rackets and fighting the Internal Security Force and militias.
    • Mountain Tribes – In the south of Bazistan is a maze of valleys and mountains. For thousands of years, several tribes have lived in these hills practising a traditional way of life. As Bazistan has changed, these tribes have proved to be very anti-government. As well as fighting Bazistan, mountain tribes had ended up clashing with the ASF when they cross the border.
    • Eritrean Mercs – Due to its close proximity across the straits and due to a separate crisis inside of Eritrea, members of the Eritrian Army have been leaving the country and moving to Bazistan to work as contractors. In particular, many militia groups have hired them due to their better level of training on support weapons and ability to procure them.
    • Pirates – The Red Sea is exceptionally busy thanks to the Suez canal. Pirates, both Eritrean and Bazistani, have begun to operate from the Bazistan coastline, using small fast boats and lots of firepower to capture ships and their crew. These are then ransomed back to the ship’s owners.

Conclusion

So that’s the first briefing on Bazistan. As I play more games I’ll keep expanding it, adding in more recent events.

I’ll admit, it’s a bit more Tom Clancy than real life but it has led to some great games already. I’m also looking forward to the hobby projects coming from this. I need to paint up some figures for the Bazistan army as well as more for the Aden Defence Force ready to run some counter-insurgent operations alongside their British trainers.