Wargaming Week 21/08/2017

Let’s start, covering the 14th of August through to the 20th of August.

BLOG STUFF

Last week was the first of the two post weeks! It ended up working quite well, with Wednesday’s post covered the MENA releases and Friday’s post covered the new SF Technicals. I was wanting to paint the vehicles up but honestly I wouldn’t have got it finished in time. Instead there is going to be a long post looking at the finished technicals and their cargo. Looking ahead, I have quite a few upcoming posts planned out as well as leaving some gaps for impressions and battle reports which is a cool situation.

Oh, also my facebook page broke 150 likes. Welcome to all the newcomers!

GAMING

Thursday saw me finally return to the SESWC after several weeks away. I ended up joining one of Angus’s Seven Years war battles and so the Coalition of the Three Michaels (coming in MDF, German and English varieties) began their battle to hold the crossroads. I took control of the centre of the army, consisting of Infantry and Artillery and then begun the clever defensive tactic of hit them with artillery until the enemy got close enough to musket to death. My left flank did a similar thing (although mainly doing this while defending the shrubbery on the board edge) while on the right the two cavalry units engaged each other. Eventually (like in all Seven Years War games I’ve played) the gunlines clashed. As the game ended, the result was inconclusive – the French were struggling but had two units at the crossroads (although both of those units were mid scuffle).

If you want to see a full battle report, they can be found at German Michael’s site, Angus the Gamesmaster’s site and the SESWC’s Facebook page.

The other thing that happened on Thursday was that I have ended up running a multiplayer game next week that had to be pretty playable and slightly tongue in cheek. Really looking forward to it, just need to get a few things painted up. The plan is to have some factions all scrapping over a pirate warlord’s stronghold so it could be a mess. Expect a battle report on Friday.

PURCHASES

Empress on Friday released some new products for their ultramodern range, many of which fitted into the new universal category. These are all quite exciting and interesting, especially the new third world army figures. My order has gone in so expect an impressions piece once they arrive.

HOBBY

Big thing was the MENA guys. Read a whole article om them here!

On top of that, my desk is currently filled with 401 different projects. At the moment I am at various stages on:

  • SF Technicals – basing the weapons, adding the stowage and painting
  • Rebasing and repairing the technical weapon teams
  • Plucking some of my case to fit the technicals rather than just letting the bits bounce around inside a box
  • Painting up some Somalis to be pirates
  • Painting up my Spectre agents to be used in a future game

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

Impressions: Spectre SF Technicals – Initial Thoughts

Earlier this year, I wrote a load of stuff covering Spectre’s first vehicle release for the technical. In it, I commented about miniguns which was a stretch goal from the Kickstarter that was sadly missed, as well as the illusive “Tactical Technical”. Well, it looks like it was merely being sneaky and it is now out as part of this latest release. And oh boy, is there a lot of cool stuff on this release.

Sadly, due to my desire to get the vehicles in a state where I can hot swap the various weapon systems and cargo, I don’t yet have them painted. However I can cover the initial impressions on every part of this release, detailing any issues I may have found during the initial build process and looking at what I like and don’t like. You’ll just have to wait to see the final product.

The Trucks

The vehicles that form the base for the SF Technicals range are the exact same ones released earlier in the year. Alpha provides a larger truck bed while Bravo is a more modern style but has a smaller cargo capacity. When building the kits for the SF vehicles, I assembled the two part chassis and then added the rack behind each cab. The remaining parts were left off to make assembling the upgrades much easier.

A few things have changed with the vehicles since the original release, presumably to ease production and save on material. Technical Bravo is comprised of much less material, with the cab now mostly empty space. The other thing I noticed was that some of the resin was slightly misaligned. This was quickly solved by a quick bath in hot water and some gentle bending.

The Upgrade Packs

The first part to look at when building your new technicals are the upgrade packs. These additions build off the pieces in the main kits and help to make them look more suited for off-road activities or military action.

Alpha

Alpha is perhaps the simplest of the upgrade packs. It’s a pack of wheels, sporting improved tyres. These are a good way of showing off upgrades (such as run flats) or extending the stowage in a vehicle by covering it in spares. These wheels replace the ones from the vehicle packs and come with enough to fully outfit one vehicle and have two left over to mount as stowage or for a gunner to stand on. They are a little bigger than the default wheels so the finished vehicle will be slightly taller than normal.

Bravo

Bravo is designed to make your vehicles really standout from the civilian pickups while also letting you really load it up with stowage. The pack is actually two sets of upgrades in one. The first is a long-range fuel tank. This is assembled around the rear door to the cargo bed. After placing the tank, a cage comprising of three parts is placed around it. The main thing when building it is to make sure the curved edges of the two side pieces clip onto the round sections of the back of the cage (it will make more sense when you are building them). Then simply glue the construction on the back of the cargo bed. If you don’t want the giant tank of flammable liquid behind your operators, the cage could be assembled to hold other stowage such as jerry cans or hard containers.

The other part of the upgrade are the racks that mount on the side of the cargo bed. These create the mounting points for all sorts of gear, from spare tires to sand guards. As well as hosting these bits of gear, the rails could also be used to support plasticard armoured panels if you feel the need to up the protection on your vehicle. I’d recommend putting the vertical part of the mounting area on the inside of the cargo bed (as you can see below) as it looks a little better

The rails mount on both types of chassis but are really designed for the Alpha technical. However, it does also work on the Bravo vehicle as you can see below. In this case, the side rails ended up connecting to the top of the cage around the fuel tank. This style does look similar to some troop carrying pickups you might see in places such as Mexico.

Charlie & Delta

These two packs perform the same role – adding bullbars and a snorkel to both types of the base chassis. These upgrades really add to the off-road style on the vehicles, turning them from a street truck to something you would expect to see bounding through the desert.

Charlie is for the Alpha technical. The pack includes a new bumper that features the bullbars, a snorkel and a roof top storage rack. The bumper fits on really well and I think looks awesome. The snorkel has a notch in the side to help with alignment when placing it, something that is appreciated during construction. However, my favourite feature is the roof rack. It has a slight ramp on the mounting block so it sits flat on the sloped roof and it looks rad. Combined with the stowage pack, you can fill it with all sorts of hard cases, anti-tank weapons and gear (all the goodies a team of operators might need) while leaving most of the cargo bed free for weapon mountings.

Delta is for the Bravo vehicle and contains a replacement lower front and the snorkel. It would have been cool if it came with a roof mounted storage rack to match the other pack of this type but it’s not a deal breaker. Again, the snorkel has a nice notch to help with placement and the resin front end only needed very minor cleanup.

Weapons

Of course, a major part of the latest release is giving you some SF suitable weapons for your new rides to roll around with. You could choose to mount the standard weapons (perhaps if your team is less well equipped) but honestly, there is a minigun option literally right there.

Crew

I hate taking photos of unpainted figures. An ink wash helps!

In every release from any wargames manufacturer there is a slight disappointment and I think this time, the crew selection is the slight let down. When the first technicals came out there was a nice selection of generic crew standing next to the various weapons. For the HMG alone there were two options seemingly designed for it (one shooting and one leaning on the weapon spotting). For the SF release there is only one option – Crew Hotel, an operator in combat gear in the aiming pose. It’s a good basic option but having a second choice (perhaps a character pointing out a potential target or gesturing at some civilian trying to overtake) would be a useful. Even a simple head swap would have been nice. At the same time though, this is probably the most commonly used pose so in the end for many people it won’t matter.

One thing to note is that you will need to carefully bend the arms to line them up to the trigger locations. It requires just a little more force than you would think it would need but the metal Spectre uses is very good at being slightly manhandled.

Common Elements

The new guns listed below share a common feature – the mount. Unlike the pole on the original M2, the new guns use a much more sturdy looking mount. It comes in two heights; the tall one clears the top of cab and allows for a forward fire arc while the other is better for rear or side firing guns. The top of each pole is split in half and matches up to the bottom of each of the weapon assemblies. This requires some patient holding while waiting the glue to dry but seems to work quite well.

No matter what height you choose, both mounts will require that a rear gunner stands on something in order to reach the spade grips. Having seen one of the Spectre models at Cardiff, it seems that a spare tyre is a good option.

M2 .50cal SF

Yep, you can’t release a technical without a 50cal. This one however is rather special. Wrapping the barrel is rail system onto which two attachments have been mounted. On top of the gun is an Eotech style holographic sight (or red dot in Spectre Operations) while underneath is the giant Hellfire torch capable of illuminating targets much further than other light systems. Combined together, these provide a useful setup to pair with the HMG’s lethality and range on the tabletop, letting you engage targets accurately no matter what time of day it is.

Without a doubt this was the simplest weapon to assemble out of the group. The gun is one piece so all it required was gluing it to the mount and it was good to go.

Mk47 AGL

The only thing better than a 40mm grenade launcher is an automatic one complete with rangefinder. An upgrade over the old MK19, the MK47 AGL is the hottest new thing in automatic grenade launchers. With basic stats its great for suppressing large groups of unarmored enemies but the addition of an aiming system (run as either a scope, red dot, thermal sight or some combination of them) really helps to make it a precision area weapon. If you are feeling especially high-tech, the MK47 is capable of programming MK285 rounds to airburst over a target. So if you want to make an opponent cry, mention you want to use those rounds and start dropping grenades every turn that ignore cover saves thanks to the airburst rules.

The gun is made up of three parts – the barrel and main sight piece, the side mounted sight (including rails for other sights) and the stand/ammo box assembly. Glueing these three together required a few tweaks to get them lined up. By default, the launcher is slightly tilted upwards ready to lob rounds at the enemy downrange.

Dual M240

Why have only one medium machine gun when you can bolt two together, stick a sight on one and then add a chute for spent shell casings? Like the SAS jeeps from WW2, the simplest way to increase firepower on a mount is just to double what you have. The MMG is a good gun to begin with thanks to Sustained Fire and a 3+ lethality but turning it into a dual weapon means double the shots. Add to that a scope/red dot and you’ve got a great weapon for engaging infantry.

Building the gun was the most fiddly of them all, consisting of five parts. The two ammo boxes clip on the outer edges while the guns themselves fit into the slots in the lower mount. This mount then attaches to the tower using the usual method. As always, do a dry fitting run before getting the super glue out.

Now if only there was another way to get a ton of shots on targets…

M134 Minigun

Okay I’ll admit, this is something I’ve wanted since the kickstarter. Miniguns in all their forms are super cool and having one on the wargames table is just too tempting. Assembly is relatively simple despite the multiple parts. The gun sits in an arm that attaches to the column. As well as this, there is an optional red dot to mount on the rail on the top of the gun itself and two parts to form the ammo supply. The belt is the usual strip of metal that can be freely trimmed and twisted to line up with the large ammo box.

As an aside, one of my favourite things about the separate weapons that Spectre produces is the fact I can use them elsewhere. I have two Empress Humvee where I have replaced the gun mount with a magnet. Combined with Spectre’s stock of guns, this means I can swap out the standard M2 HMG for a DsHK (for when the Bazistan Army gets to use them) or, as you can see, for a Minigun. This versatility means you don’t have to buy 101 different vehicles for all the combination of weapons you might want, instead only needing as you might want to be on the tabletop. One thing with the Minigun, I had to trim some areas so it would fit properly on the magnet and trying to fit the ammo box in the turret is going to be hard.

In game, the minigun is a nightmare to go up against, no matter what the ruleset. Spectre Operations gives it 6 shots a turn that let you roll through a squad and easily put on the suppression. 3+ lethality and a decent range interval finish off a good package, espeically if you add a red dot.

Stowage

This release didn’t include any new stowage options (other than the new tires). However, last month we got Stowage Alfa which is packed full of stuff to cover your vehicle in. You could use the Razor stowage packs but they are not really designed for this style of vehicle.

If you want more details on Stowage Alfa, you can find my impressions here.

Final Thoughts

I ended my post on the initial Spectre Technical release by saying “The Spectre technicals are a great start to a new range. Apart from the minor issues, all the models are beautiful to behold and will be fantastic additions to anyone’s collection.”. It’s safe to say, the same idea carries on here.

With the second major release there are now a collection of parts that let you take that initial release and direct it to be more suitable for a different use. Although designed for Special Forces teams, the upgrades mean the vehicles can now be used for other groups (such as well-trained OPFOR, contractors or cartel members wanting a cool off-road vehicle) by simply varying many upgrades and how much stowage you add. There are a few tweaks I would make (more crew options, stowage racks for Technical Bravo) but these can be easily be added in future releases. For now though, all the new bits open up a world of exciting possibilities. I can’t wait to see the sheer variety of vehicles people come up with.


So now I’ve done the initial thoughts, it’s time for me to do the fun stuff and start finishing them. There will be a whole post on the process of getting the group of vehicles finished in the next few weeks. The main delay is setting up the series of plasticard bases that will let me swap guns and cargo sections between vehicle while hopefully looking better than the first version used for the militia. In addition, the militia equipment is being rebased and repainted after they got banged up during the trip to Cardiff. So keep your eye on the blog for more stuff on Spectre Miniatures releases and all things dedicated to ultramodern wargaming.

Impressions: Spectre July 2017 Release

The end of July saw a new release to expand Spectre’s MENA Militia range. These new figures are designed to give your militia a bit of an edge, either by adding some tougher guys or bringing some new gear to the party. If you’re building a militia force, these fighters are a must buy.

Militia with Assault Rifles

Ready to add to the bulk of your force, these guys look hard as nails. The new packs (MENA Militia Echo and MENA Militia Foxtrot) both contain figures armed just with a standard assault rifle. However, they have a very different look to them making them perfect for use as squad leaders or better trained fighters, characters that need to stand out slightly in the middle of a battle. In particular, I think the guy with the baseball cap would work really well as a local contact or fixer for your CIA agent in the field thanks to the combination of traditional and western clothing. I also really like how they are wielding folding stock AKs rather than the standard version, ideal for urban guerrillas engaged in CQB.

Militia with RPG

One of the great things with the RPG-7 is the variety of warheads available. Up until this release, the only options with models were either the standard HEAT round or the tiny AP warhead. The two new miltia RPG packs (MENA RPG Bravo and MENA RPG Charlie) help to expand the munitions available to wargamers. Three of the four warheads are variations on HEAT rounds, however all of them are much more modern or unusual (some of them look like the Iranian NAFEZ and Slovakian PG-7M). The fourth figure carries a thermobaric round, superb at destroying bunkers and buildings.

Out of the four figures, one of them looks very similar to the rest of the MENA militia range, clad in his t-shirt, but he holds his RPG and ammo in a very different pose. . The others look much more unique, providing some improved weapons for when you need to knock out the enemy vehicles or clear a fortified position. Spectre doesn’t currently have any new rules for improved or more modern HEAT rounds but expect cool things in an upcoming supplement.

Militia Sniper with Anti-Material Rifle

I have a pet peeve with the model industry when it comes to prone figures. With most games I play focusing on real line of sight, having a figure being much lower than any other can be real paint. Additionally, a prone figure can a pain to base. They can’t do much about the figure being hard to spot, but Spectre have done something clever with the posing on this prone sniper (MENA Militia Sniper Alfa). By having him lying on his side, the sniper fits more easily on a round base, a look that is closer to the various other weapon teams. To help fill in the base, I ended up adding some MDF offcuts to form some rubble.

In terms of armament, the Militia Sniper is using a Russian Anti-Material rifle. This is another weapon which should help even the odds when going up against lightly armoured vehicles or troops in cover. In Spectre Operations, the Anti Material Rifle has several useful special rules such as Armour Piercing, Frag and Incendiary that make it a real terror. Alternatively, you could choose to downgrade it to a Heavy Sniper rifle which is still a massive threat to anyone who crosses the shooter’s line of sight.

Painting Notes

As with the rest of my Militia guys, the painting plan is to use a mixture of earthy colours with an occasional bit of camo or colour. I ended up just using the earthy colour. There is a lot of black on these figures so my tactic of Black then a drybrush of Basalt Grey was in full effect. The big change was a new colour for the wooden sections on the AKs and RPGs. Rather than using GW’s Rhinox Hide, I tried Valejo’s Cavalry Brown. After my initial panic, the final effect works very well.

 

One thing I did notice was one of the models had a bit of flash that needed cleaning up. It’s unusual to see on Spectre models but with the pattern on the jacket it’s easy to see how it happened. A quick file and the pattern is gone.

Wargaming Week 14/08/2017

Let’s start, covering the 7th of August through to the 13th of August.

BLOG STUFF

A scenario went up! It’s a little different from my usual posts but it’s something that I’ve been wanting to finish for a while. Also the release of Free Fire meant it was the perfect time to release it.

I’m also carrying on the blog post experiments. Looking at how many posts I want to write which are not impressions or battle reports and it seems I’m going to running out of weeks in my life if I also want to cover all things new. So new plan – every other wednesday there will be a post. This is for smaller stuff like new models in an existing range or minor hobby updates such looking at a completed painting projects. The weekend post will be for bigger things like new lines of figures, larger releases or new rules content for other things. I have so much I want to write and want to see if I can manage this tweak.

GAMING

Nothing this week, I was too busy seeing Aunty Donna on the usual gaming night. Planning more games though.

PURCHASES

Nothing, last week was more than enough. My orders have now arrived so expect some update posts coming soon

HOBBY

I’m in the process of painting the latest MENA militia up ready for their debut on Wednesday. More details in that post but they are great fun to paint. 

Boards are also progressing. Finally got the basic colours on, so now I can start getting the rest of the board sorted out and the terrain items painted. The forces are mostly ready so just need to push on with making the fighting area pretty.

A bonus of having these terrain boards is that I now have a playing surface in my flat, all ready to play some game on. The bigger bonus for you, the reader, is that having terrain boards means I can setup much more visually appealing photos for impressions and battle reports. So hopefully, less pictures of my desk.

Before anyone asks, the terrain in the photo above is from RedVectors. There will be an impression in the next few weeks but as a preview – they are really good.


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

Scenario: Warehouse Shoot Out

The start of this week saw the release of the film Free Fire on Blu-Ray and DVD in the UK. Set in the 1970’s, it’s an incredibly tense film all set in one location as an arms deal goes incredibly wrong. The film is packed full of twists and turns and well worth a watch. Incidentally, it was also filmed just round the corner from where I used to get my car serviced when I was in Brighton.

When I first saw the film, I started writing a wargames scenario (scribbling down ideas on the way back from the cinema) but then that whole “lets write a book” happened and it fell by the way side. But seeing as the film has just come out for everyone to watch it, I thought it would be a good time to finish it off.

The scenario is going to spoil a few things from the film so go watch it before coming back. Everyone past the double horizontal lines should be considered spoilers.

 

 

Seriously, don’t read further unless you don’t mind being spoiled on a really good film.
Continue reading “Scenario: Warehouse Shoot Out”

Wargaming Week 07/08/2017

Let’s start, covering the 31st of July through to the 6th of August.

BLOG STUFF

My post(s) about my weekend in Cardiff playing Spectre went up. I wrote a total of 5 posts last week as part of it so around 5000+ words, had to install about 4 plugins to hide the battle reports and not send them out via the email subscription and just as it went up I realised that all the links were broken due to the shift in release date. But overall, it was a pretty great way to wrap up the weekend and I’m really happy with all the people giving me positive feedback on it. Going to be a while before I do anything of similar size though.

I’m also going to do some more playing around with release times after seeing comments and tracking stats of when people actually look at my stuff. The big thing is, people seem to enjoy reading my stuff during lunch breaks (it’s when I catch up on various blogs). So I’m shifting everything to release at 1200 GMT. Wargaming Week is still coming out on Monday but the main article each week is moving to Friday, so I can catch the last lunch of the week and it be available for everyone to read on Saturday morning. Like everything on the blog, this is subject to change pretty quickly depending on what happens.

As for a sneak peek of this week’s post, check out today’s UK BluRay releases…

GAMING

You know, I think I gamed quite a lot last weekend. Having a little break to start planning out future games and get back to work. Hopefully will be back at the club in the next week or two, hopefully running something by the end of the month.

PURCHASES

Big week for hobby purchases:

First things I grabbed this week appeared on Monday, just as I was driving home. Spectre brought out a few more MENA militia. These guys look a little more hardcore than the rest of the militia, with their giant beards and jacket/robe apparel. I’m a big fan of the poses as well – the chap with baseball cap and jacket will be great as both for the insurgents and as a local fixer (obviously in a New York Yankees hat). The release also includes four RPG variations (including the terrifying thermobaric round) and a sniper with an Anti-Material rifle. You may have noticed that this guy is lying prone. Now, I hate prone models – for a skirmish game that is focused on true LOS they can be a pain. Also basing them can be annoying (most of my ones from Empress are on cavalry bases). Spectre have gone an interesting route by having the figure lying perpendicular to the rifle, letting them fit onto a round base more easily.

At the same time, I also decided to pick up a few more Spectre models that I’ve been missing. Many of these I had disliked when they were first released but actually getting to see them in person during the Cardiff weekend changed my opinion on them. The main culprit for this is the insurgent commander but the Russian SMG 1 guys are the ones I’m now the most excited about from this pack.

Saturday saw me going to Claymore, the local show run by my wargames club. I haven’t been involved at all due to not being at the club for a few weeks due to holiday/book writing. However, it is always fun to see what people have been up to. As always the show was fantastic and I walked away with something. Supreme Littleness is run by a guy at the club (also a Mike) and is a genius for anything MDF. I had noticed a month or so ago he was starting a range of buildings ready for the Middle East.

I finally got to see them in the flesh at Claymore and I’m really impressed. There are loads of little details to them which are fantastic. I bought one and have mostly built it so expect impressions soon. However, as he was handing it to me at the show, Mike noticed it was missing the cardboard portion pieces. So I’ll be picking that up on Thursday. He also gave me the rather nice Arabic gate you can see in the picture. I really like it, it’s a nice alternative part when you’re wanting to make more urban compounds rather than the adobe and wood combinations of Afghanistan. I’m going to pick up two more gates to be used when they are in other states (such as destroyed or unlocked).

(Unrelated to purchases, hopefully next year I’ll actually be able to run a demo game as I had originally been planned. However, I’m also very glad I didn’t run it this year – it wouldn’t have been anywhere near ready).

Photo from Spectre Miniatures

The big thing this week was the release of the new SF Technicals, also from Spectre. To say I’m excited is an understatement – ever since the original kickstarter with its mention of the “Tactical Technical” and Minigun, I’ve been wanting some more upgraded pickup trucks for the special forces and mercs to patrol around in. As such, when the new kits got released I went in deep on them. When they arrive I’ll be doing my usual impressions, covering all the bits and building one of them completely but I want to spend a bit longer on the others, adding plenty of details and tweaks. I’m also planning out an additional weapon for the SF using my bits box.

Unrelated, I also picked up a few more tools for the demo board. At some point this week, someone at work is about to wonder why someone ordered 6 cans of spray paint. The plasticard and filler also arrived so I can start basing up all the bits of plane which can then have the final parts assembled such as the missing engine portions. Just under 50 days to go before the first version of the game is going to be run.

HOBBY

I decided to have a bit of a break from painting so instead I built up a load of MDF buildings. These are ones from RedVectors that arrived before I went on holiday and so apart from dry fitting I didn’t get to build them. That has been fixed. I’ll be doing some impressions in the next few weeks but these buildings are exactly what I was wanting. I’m especially happy with the multi-storey buildings.

The plan for next week is to get back on the painting queue, but also to start looking at the terrain that needs building for my demo game. Speaking of MDF, I finally got my collection out as you can see below. That table is 2’x4′ so it should fill a 4′ x 4′ which is the size I’m building. I have my eyes on a few more MDF constructions but there will be a game coming up fighting through some dense urban areas.


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

Spectre Operations Weekend 2017 AAR

I’ll admit, when they announced that Spectre were running a gaming weekend in Cardiff I had tons of questions. What was it going to be like? What figures did I need to bring? Were the other Spectre players going to turn out to be tournament mad points fans? Would I find somewhere sensible to stay? Is driving to the other end of the country really worth it to play a wargame? Having got back from it and had some to think and decompress, I think it was one of the best wargaming experiences I’ve ever had.

The weekend began on Friday with me driving 9 hours from Edinburgh to get to Cardiff (mostly in the rain) and then checking into the nicest Youth Hostel I’ve ever seen. The rest of the evening was full of drinks, curry and some good chat with everyone before we eventually managed to grab some shut-eye.

Saturday started with all of us heading to the venue for the event. Now, when it was announced we were going to Cardiff to play Spectre, I think a lot of people (except those in Bristol and other places close by) found it pretty inconvenient due to the fact it wasn’t a more central location like London or Birmingham. However, after seeing Firestorm I can easily see why I’d found myself in Wales. It’s a fantastic place, with a huge space for boards, a nice casual area for card games or grabbing lunch, a bar serving both food and beer and a massive shop packed full of stuff (I had to prevent myself from being tempted into picking all sort of goodies from the well stocked shelves). Most importantly for anyone who likes taking photos of wargames or has ever served their time at the King and Queen in Brighton, it is very well-lit!

The gallery above is of all the board layouts that were in place at the start of Day 1. The terrain was from a mixture of sources – several tables were filled with stuff from Darren’s rather excellent collection while a few near the front had items brought by the Spectre team themselves. This included some new terrain items in the shape of some resin pallets and brick walls. I am a huge fan of those walls and will be on them like a shot when they come out.

The rest of the boards showed off the terrain available at Firestorm. As you can see in the picture above, the entire back wall is full with shelves for terrain for everything from fantasy to modern batman-esque games to the far future.

Of course, the main reason for being there was not to marvel at the venue but to get some games in! There were a selection being run, from a two day multi-game boot camp for two players (Mike and Si) who had never tried the game before to a four player game that a whole family were taking part in. Due to the number of people who were there and the varying experience levels, I ended up being matched against Craig “Tiny Terrain” for most of my games. He was a great opponent in all the games we played and I’m looking forward to the next time we get to play against each other.

Before I cover the fighting, I should mention a little bit about how the games were organised. The Spectre team had brought down almost all of their painted models in perhaps the biggest figure case I had ever seen. People wishing to run games had free rein to select figures from this box (or bring out whatever they had brought down themselves) and set up the scenarios how they wished. It was great to have the rules writers to hand while playing, answering all those minor questions and suggesting little tweaks to play around with. Thanks to JT, Matt, Ivan and Stephen for answering all the random queries throughout the weekend.

Anyway, enough introductions, time to get into the meat of the event – the battle reports! The italicised introductions are just some scene setting on my part but the rest of the action was entirely down to the dice and our choices as players. Just so this post isn’t a ridiculous long one, I’ve split most of the battle reports off into separate posts linked below. Each one starts and ends with a link back to hear to make reading easier.


Game 1 – La Chute du faucon noir

Bazistan: During operations, a US Army UH-60 Blackhawk has been shot down in the old town of Bazi City. Observers have spotted two casualties attempting to extracte themselves from the wreckage. Needing to secure the site, Coalition command has deployed a French SF team to the Old Town to capture and defend the area from the Militia. However, this is the Militia’s home turf and they know that the enemy are coming. Will the French be able to hold the crash site long enough to treat the wounded?

Click here to find out!


Game 2 – Teaching

Val Verde: A team of deniable operatives working for a Cartel is closing in on a facility owned by their rival. Their aim? To take out El Jefe while he is out in the open. Two problems: El Jefe has surrounded himself with some Bad Hombres and worse, the team don’t know exactly what the target looks like. Will El Jefe be able to escape?

Click here to find out!


As Game 2 ended, the staff from Firestorm were coming along to gently shepard the gamers out the door. After packing up my gear and taking it back to the hostel, the plan was to then head into town for a quiet drink. However, a pretty intense day of wargaming had drained us of any desire to go anywhere, so we grabbed a few beers, ordered pizza in the hotel lobby, had a casual chat and then went off for an early night, drifting to sleep to the sound of 101 hen/stag parties heading out into Cardiff.

As Day 2 started (after a minor delay), the Spectre team also got to pull out some previews of what is coming next. As well as mentioning the releases that came out on Monday (more veteran militia) and showing off the fully painted SF Technical with a mounted minigun that had previously been spotted speeding round the board during Operation Razor Strike (and is due out THE WEEKEND THIS POST APPEARS possibly), some greens (the final sculpted product ready to be sent off for casting) were also shown. I’m pretty excited for these; they included two female Task Force Operators, equipped with all the latest gear, and a small group of more tactical looking OPFOR with better equipment than usual (such as soft caps, chest rigs & tactical AKs). Fans of certain middling history channel tv shows may spot some of the inspiration behind them. It’s always fascinating to see what’s coming next, especially before it’s cast in metal and still fresh from the sculptor’s touch. We also got to hear about some things that are planned for the future. I’ll be keeping quiet on them for now but it’s obvious we’ll be seeing cool things from the team at Spectre for quite a while.

Of course, the real reason we were there was to get some more games in and so the battle reports carry on!


Game 3 – Bad Day in Bazistan

Jazan, Bazistan: an Emir in charge of one of the Bazi Militia is heading home after a meeting. The convoy is powerful force, thanks in part to the backing of the Argo Corporation. What the Emir doesn’t know is that the Russian GRU have issued a capture order on him and he is about to roll into a trap. Will the GRU be able to capture their prey?

Click here to find out!


Game 4 – Deck by Deck

Off the coast of Val Verde, two cartel lieutenants are meeting about this month’s pay with the gold bars sitting on the meeting room table. The two groups are enjoying the delights of a pleasure yacht. Unfortunately, their partying and lax attitudes to sentry duty has allowed a small team of operators to sneak on board. Splitting into two groups, they set off to do perform a HVT extract on the high seas. Will they be able to grab the targets?

Click here to find out!


After putting the dice down on the last game, it was almost time for the event to finish. Several people had already headed off (a minor downside of running an event on a Sunday) leaving only one table still active – a real clash of companies as Spectre and Warmill fought over a battlefield filled with some rather nice looking mansions that Warmill are working on. The Cartel put up a hard fight but it looked like the Operators were seconds away from snatching the target. As the day finished, we packed up what was left, said our goodbyes and then headed back to our various homes. Luckily my journey was split with a quick trip home (and a chance to check on my WIP demo boards) and so I didn’t have to do the full 9 hours on Sunday.

Final Thoughts

Having now had a chance to sit back and think about the weekend, its safe to say that I had an exceptionally good time, creating a very nice end to my summer break. The chance to head out and get some really solid games in against opponents other than my regular ones was great.

I think one of my main thoughts from the entire weekend is this – there is no better way to really see a set of wargame rules then to play it solidly for two days. I have had some little misgivings about Spectre Operations for a while, little things that were hard to quantify but meant it didn’t flow as well as it should have done. Having taken part in four quite varied games over the weekend it’s safe the say the misgivings are gone; they were probably caused by still being a little unfamiliar with bits of the rules that frequent play would have removed. Spectre Operations is something pretty special; lightweight enough to get anyone into it but still with a level of detail and realism that makes it not just feel like a reskin of Warhammer but more like something closer to the modern battlefield. The guys behind it know it has a few places that need tweaking (I’ll stop banging on about the vehicle rules at some point) and are also looking for ways to expand it, to polish off the rougher edges and make it better and better.

It’s also still incredible how wargaming brings so many types of people together while still keeping them civil. Throughout the weekend, I don’t think I ever heard anyone getting annoyed at each other. Any rules disagreements were swiftly settled by either a GM or the roll of a dice. As befitting the rules, no one appeared to be a try-hard, too focused on winning at all costs rather than enjoying and playing the scenario. There were plenty of people over the weekend who had never played Spectre before and I think all of them left with a smile on their face and chatting about the events of their games. Overall, it was just a really pleasant time.

To wrap up, this weekend was fantastic. Good gameplay, some fun times hanging out with friends and a chance to get all the toys from Spectre off the shelf. Yes, Cardiff was a long way but if you told me they were doing it again next year I’d be getting my booking in faster than a team of Elites would rampage through a small force of Militia.

Maybe I should talk to a friend about setting up something Spectre Operations in the north…

Spectre Weekend 2017 – Game 4

Hey, this is one of the battle reports from the Cardiff Spectre Operations Event. If you haven’t read the main post yet, you can find it here. If you just want the action, keep reading!


Game 4 – Boarding Action

Off the coast of Val Verde, two cartel lieutenants are meeting about this month’s pay with the gold bars sitting on the meeting room table. The two groups are enjoying the delights of a pleasure yacht. Unfortunately, their partying and lax attitudes to sentry duty has allowed a small team of operators to sneak on board. Splitting into two groups, they set off to do perform a HVT extract on the high seas. Will they be able to grab the targets?

The sides were as follows:

Operators:

All operators have body armour, pistols, personal med kits, frag and stun grenades.

  • Team 1:
    • Elite with Carbine (Red Dot and Laser)
    • Elite with Battle Rifle (Red Dot and Laser)
    • Elite with SMG (Red Dot and Laser) “Pointman”
    • Elite with Carbine, Automatic Shotgun, breaching charge and breaching tools
  • Team 2:
    • Elite Team Leader with Carbine (Red Dot and Laser)
    • Elite with Carbine (Red Dot and Laser)
    • Elite with SMG (Red Dot and Laser) “Pointman”
    • Elite with Carbine, Combat Shotgun, breaching charge and breaching tools

Cartel:

  • Sicario Faction:
    • 1 Civilian VIP
    • 1 Trained Squad Leader with Assault Rifle
    • 4 Trained with Assault Rifle
    • 1 Trained with LMG
  • Gangers Faction:
    • 1 Civilian VIP
    • 1 Militia Squad Leader with Assault Rifle
    • 7 Militia equipped with a mix of SMGs, machine pistols and assault rifles.

Additionally, there are several civilians on the boat. These are working for the cartel but not the main combat troops. If a 6 is rolled on the civilian reaction table something different from the rulebook happens. Rather than attacking the nearest figure, they are simply converted into another fighter for the cartel player; there is also a roll off to see if they are armed with a pistol or a machine pistol. These figures are still civilians and so are not particularly skilled. That said, they could be a nasty surprise if left unsecured.

The operators start on the bottom deck. The two factions of cartel start separately, with the VIPs on the Bridge and Captain’s Quarters deck. Above them on the roof deck, the cartel are enjoying the sun and partying away. Below the meeting, the team of sicarios are patrolling through the ship (aka doing their job).

The original plan for the operators was to sneak around as much as possible. However, two turns in the sicarios had just glimpsed Team 1 sneaking past the pool. They were able to put some fire down on the Pointman (lightly wounding him but mostly saved by his body armour) which alerted the rest of the boat. In response, the breacher in Team 1 swept his AA12 around and filled the lead target full of buckshot. Despite being injured, the SMG equipped point man was also able to put a burst into the last sicario visible and drop him. Team 1 then consolidated to protect the flanks while starting to clear the interior.

On the deck below, Team 2 were stacking up to breach the wall of the engine room so they could push through the rest of the deck. However, this activated one of the civilians. It seems like the Cartel VIP’s flunkey had finished being sea-sick and was now ready to investigate the strange noises going on in the ship.

On the top deck, the gangers stopped the party and started to form up and head downstairs to secure their boss. Several of these civilians started panicking before almost all were converted into pistol wielding goons.

Back on the middle deck Team 1 was tactically clearing the rooms, beginning with the dining area. The Sicarios opened up with a LMG, putting some suppression down and a lot of bullets through the furniture. Seconds later, the rest of the operators were able to incapacitate the gunner before he caused too much damage. This fire also put a ton of suppression points on the now injured bad guy.

The bottom deck saw Team 2 attempt a breach. The charge was placed but rather than create an entry hole, it simply caused some damage to the wall. The breacher would have to manually expand the gap. On the other side, Fatty heard the loud noise and moved to investigate.

As Team 1 moved forward to clear the deck, they flung a frag grenade to clear one of the corridors. This grenade wiped out two more of the trained Sicarios and finished off the gunner, moving all of the suppression onto the final enemy waiting in one of the side rooms to ambush the operators.

Team 2 finally busted through the wall and found themselves facing Fatty down the corridor. Rather than just shooting him, I decided I was going to try to secure as many civilians as possible (I blame long sessions of SWAT 4). A rush into combat, a few rolls, and the Pointman was slapping on the plasti-cuffs.

Team 1 continued to sweep through the deck to prevent anyone trying to flank them. As mentioned before, this poor sicario in the middle of the picture is drowning in suppression points, making him easy prey to the operators.

There were a few turns between the last picture and this one. I spent my time moving through the ship, cuffing civilians and cartel fighters such as the suppressed sicario to prevent any nasty surprises. The gangers spent that time fortifying the deck, setting up overwatch on the staircases and using the converted civilians as alarms against the operators sneaking up. It was going to be a pig to clear out.

The picture actually shows the start of the final assault. After using the leg up move to get Team 2 onto the correct deck and positioning most of Team 1 at the bottom of the stairs, my last operator stood in the pool and flung a stun grenade into the meeting room to hit as many people as possible. It was a hard throw but he managed to hit it dead on. Team 1 then started up the staircases. The stun grenades had reduced the effectiveness of the overwatch but it still put some suppression down on my assaulters. From the other end, Team 2 traded shots through the glass on the bridge. They easily took out the armed civilians before advancing inside to trap the gangers in a pincer move.

The final turn saw the operators continue moving forward. What was interesting was that the cartel had taken the initiative at this point as they were the only ones shooting (my operators were too busy rushing into close combat to prevent them being shot at). This led to the operators taking casualties, with both breachers finishing the game with 5 turns of the bleedout. That said, as the Team 2 breacher took his hit, his sidearm shot took out the militia squad leader and killed him. As the clock ran out, it was safe to say the operators were in charge of the boat.

Once the mission was over, both myself and Craig sat back and breathed out for the first time in a while. That final assault was on a knife-edge – a few fluffed rolls or the enemy armed with some more destructive weapons (like a combat shotgun) and it would have been a very different. Many of the advantages of the operators are tempered due to the close quarters, you can’t clear your way through with explosives. Fighting across 2D ship plans was something really different from usual and I would love to see someone make an actual MDF ship with all the interior rooms.

Big thanks to Harry from Warmill for letting us play across his excellent shipping plans. It was a really unique battle and a great end to the weekend.


Finished reading? For the rest of the battle reports and more on the event itself, the main post is here!