Demo Games Planning: Part 2 – Further Planning and Physical Things

So since last time, I’ve done a few things to get ready for building the demo board I have planned out.

  • Emails have been sent out to get the ball rolling on actually booking space to run the game at two shows. It might be a little early for some but better early than late.
  • Continued working on the scenario and forces. Looking at three way brawl, going to have to test/practise the scenario a few times.
  • Sat looking at Italeri C130s and mentally preparing to spend that much money on something I’ll be cutting to pieces. Plan is to cut into three (nose, centre of body + wings, tail + bit of fuselage) and then build up the broken support structs using plasticard.
  • Built my first two buildings to go on the board. Originally I just thought about only filling the board with shacks but a few larger buildings will set the scene better and a change in elevation will be more interesting to play over.

The buildings are from Knights of Dice (delivered by Shiny Games in the UK). I picked up Desert Compound 2 and Desert Residence 1.  The buildings went together super well, just had to pop them out of MDF frame (assisted by the MDF crowbar that came in one set), pop out any inner bits and then assemble together. A few of the guys on the Spectre Operations group came up with some nice advice about building them. The dry run went together really well so next step is gluing everything together and then break the primer/textured paint out.

I’m also going to look into getting some detail items to set the scene. Thinking fencing, tv aerials and air conditioning units to be attached permanently with some more situational stuff (like sandbags) to be left loose and added when needed.

In a few day’s I’ll be grabbing the bits I need for the board (as well as maybe a little extra) and finally pushing the button on the most expensive item that makes up this build.

Battle Report: Skirmish Sangin 09/02/2017

Scenario 12 of the Bazistan Crisis – An RAF F35 Lightning II enforcing the no-fly zone has suffered an engine failure and has crashed somewhere in the rebel held zone. Unable to deploy conventional CSAR assets, British command has ordered an SAS team already in country to find and extract the downed pilot. Upon arriving in the area, the special forces troopers spot some mobile tangos also moving to find the pilot. It would now be a race to find where the pilot is hiding out

Coming back to Skirmish Sangin after a short break where I’ve spent most of my time writing scenarios rather than playing them, I decided to go all out. Big table, vehicles and everything. After dispensing with my original idea, I instead decided to send us off looking for a downed pilot. After lots of comments about “That’s a big board” (useful seeing as vehicles move rather quickly), we set down and started playing


The SAS begun in the village, getting ready for moving into the rest of the search area. In the fields, the rebel band was milling around next to an old watch tower, climbing aboard their technicals or setting up their machine gun to overwatch the area. One of the fighters moved north to scan through the crops but found nothing of use.

Across the board, the SAS drove north heading to the abandoned mosque. Coming to a stop nearby, the team leader disembarked and looked inside. With a whisper of a codeword, the pilot revealed himself. He was swiftly bundled into the SUV but the sight of potential pursuers caused the SAS to pause in place.

“Flying Officer Livingston I presume?”

Seeing the cloud of dust from a high speed vehicle, the rebel leader shouted for his band to roll out. Streaming across the desert, the two vehicles separated while the guard team (sat in the tower) started trying to accurately spot the target vehicle.

However, the SAS had easily drawn a bead on the pickup trucks. A second trooper disembarked, dropped to a knee and opened up on one of the approaching vehicles. A burst of fire ripped the vehicle to pieces blowing it up and immolating all the passengers except the rebel leader. This cunning veteran had dived out the vehicle just before and was now lying prone on the desert floor.

The other vehicle tried to spot the source of the gunfire but the gun crew were distracted watching the burning wreck of their comrade’s ride. This distraction was deadly – a second burst of fire (this time from the squad’s LMG gunner) shot up the crew compartment wrecking the vehicle and stopping it from functioning. The passengers bailed out, going to ground around it.

However, it wasn’t going all the SAS’s way. The guard team in its tower was putting fire down on the SUV, with the combined PKM and assault rifle pinning the troops inside down. In an attempt to respond, the JTAC in the squad started trying to call down a hellfire from an orbiting drone. Despite the visible threat, the drone operators were in a no go situation, requiring more details from the operators. The JTAC was happy to give them, in addition to a few choice words.

The rebel leader was, to bit it mildly, a little annoyed. He had been robbed of his prize to parade on TV, two expensive weapon platforms were destroyed and several soldiers were either dead or injured. Angry, the battle-worn fighter levelled his AK at the figure behind the bonnet of the SUV, took aim and fired a shot. He saw the target drop behind the vehicle but before his eyes the injured man crawled out of sight.

With an injured squad leader (mostly alive due to his body armour) and still under MG fire, the team was now all in cover behind the vehicle and trading shots with rebels. The UGL punched out a grenade that took two more rebels down, leaving 3 of the attacking force still alive. The second squad leader didn’t want to become stuck out in the wasteland so he and his buddy sprinted off towards the village in the hope of finding cover and a better angle.

Also around this time, another white SUV was seen off in the distance. This was the second team in the SAS element, having been alerted to the ongoing fight. The offroader bounced across the plains, pulling to a stop near the edge of the crops in the centre of the play area. The second team then started to disembark, providing a distraction to the guard team in the tower. The PKM swivelled to face the new threat.

The let up of incoming fire allowed the JTAC to do his job more easily. Transmitting the target co-ordinates to the help flying aboce,  nothing initially seemed to happen. Nothing that is, until a titanic explosion ripped the tower apart as a hellfire missile found it’s mark. With the gunfire slackening off, the SAS started to prepare to leave.

The rebels were shaken but not yet out the game. The force’s leader became pinned down in a crossfire, lost his nerve and then left the field of conflict. However, the other squad leader sprinted up some stairs to a rooftop. Using this advantage, he and his partner in crime riddled SAS team 1’s SUV, causing the pilot to bail out and potentially giving them a long walk home. However, before they could finish the job, Team 2 landed a 40mm round on their position putting them out of action.

The AO now clear of enemies, the SAS were victorious. Now they just have to fix their holey vehicle and get out the hinterlands and back to civilisation. I’m sure this is one story the pilot will be telling for a while.


Overall we both had a fun time. It was great to get back into playing Sangin after a break and it’s still my favourite system to play.

Learning Points

  • Vehicles look tough but actually technicals and humvees (whose profile the SUVs were using) are still vulnerable to small arms fire.
  • JTACs and UCAVs are very fun to use as a player, even if they take up a massive points value.
  • Scenario still needs a little balancing. If I had all my vehicles painted, the insurgents would have received a third technical as well as a team to go with it as reinforcement for the OPFOR.

Technical Notes: A Primer

Intro

With the recent release of Spectre’s comprehensive range of Technicals and weapon systems, it’s never been a better time to be a militia warlord on the tabletop. This primer is designed to fill you in on these increasingly common vehicles and their role on the tabletop. I’ll cover some tactics for using them, some weapon suggestions, how best to kill them and then finally where you can get your grubby paws on your own.

But first what is a technical? Put simply, it’s an improvised weapon platform built off the back of a pickup truck or similar vehicle. The name comes from Somalia in the 1990’s, where “technical assistance grants” was a euphemism for hiring local gunmen in their up-armed pickup trucks due to laws regarding private security. However, technicals have been in use for a long time before that. As long as their have been cars, there has been someone looking at it and thinking “I bet I could put a gun on that”. The first major use is in North Africa, with the Long Range Desert Group and the SAS outfitting striped down unarmoured trucks with more firepower than they really should have. Interestingly, North Africa also saw the “Technical War”. In this conflict in the 1980’s, forces from Chad using weapons equipped Toyotas were able to hold off Libya’s armoured forces, thanks in no small part to their high-speed and MILAN launchers from France.

 

As well as militias, technicals have also been used by security contractors and SOF teams. These vehicles are often better equipped with armoured plating, run flat tires and other tools of the trade. The common theme with the cheapie versions is that these modifications are not factory standard.

Most people still link them to the conflict in Somalia but they are a common sight on the modern battlefield when one party can’t afford proper AFVs.

Basic Tactics

Image from IMFDB

Technicals have two things going for them. They are motorised and they carry a heavy weapon. Using technicals effectively requires you to use both of these facts and to not forget them. Utilising shoot and scoot tactics will let you hit the enemy with a lot of firepower just when the enemy least expects it.

Additionally, technicals in most systems allow for some limited transporting capacity. Use this to slam a small group down the flanks if you need to grab a better position or contest an objective.

One idea that someone suggested to me was technicals should be used like light cavalry – a fast-moving screen designed to use the flanks, hit hard and then fall back. Technicals normally move faster than their more heavily armoured equivalents which can be handy to get out of a sticky situation.

Finally, technicals are cheap, especially in comparison to proper AFVs. This means you can normally outnumber your enemy in both troops and vehicles and buy vehicles than can (in the right circumstances) punch far above their weight. Get in a good position and (in Spectre) your 50pt truck crewed by guys in football tops can knock out a 150pt MBT

There is however a major downside to technicals – they are unarmoured meaning everything is a threat. Rifle fire, squad machine guns and GPMGs can cause damage to you. Heavier weapons (such as grenade launcher or anti-tank launchers) will probably knock you out in a single hit. To counter this, lie in ambush and then once spotted keep moving until you can escape the enemy fire.

You may be carrying a heavy weapon but do remember – tanks and IFVs will easily knock you out. So unless you are totting weapons on the heavier end of the scale, run a mile when the armour appears.

Weapons

One of the great points about the technical is that, when it comes to weapons, anything goes! If you want inspiration, YouTube is a fantastic source of evidence of bizarre weapon setups on the most improbable frames.

HMG (M2 /DSHK)

Probably the default weapon when people think of technicals, a heavy machine gun is cheap but can be very dangerous. It will mince infantry, ignore body armour and cause a threat to light vehicles such as snatch landrovers. If you want a good all-rounder, a HMG is a safe bet.

Light Recoilless Guns (SPG-9 / M20)

On the lower end of explosive weapons, the light recoilless rifle is still cheap. It will knock out light vehicles with ease and the splash damage will worry groups of enemy. I wouldn’t want to go up against tanks with this but it’s a nice way of hammering suppression downrange.

If you want to channel some of the weird that comes with technicals, you could strip the turret off a BMP-1, bolt it to a frame and stick it on the back of your vehicle. The reason I’ve classed it as a light recoilless gun is that it fires the same round as the SPG-9 (with less propellant). Same effects but talk to your opponent about maybe giving your technical a little extra protection.

Heavy Recoilless Rifle (M40 / Wombat / B-11)

So this is where the humble Recoilless Rifle starts to be more of a threat. These rounds will obliterate light vehicles, easily penetrate armour on APCs like the M113 and might have a chance of causing damage to modern armour. These weapons will also be more lethal against infantry. The downside? Well they cost more and that’s about it. If you can’t get a TOW but you think your opponent has armour in their figure case or they are eyeing up the hard cover on the board, get this.

Guided Missile/ATGMs (TOW / Milian / Kornet)

Do you need to kill tanks? You need an ATGM. The combination of high-speed launch platform and a devastating anti-tank weapon wrecked tank designer’s plans in the Cold War and now you have a chance to do it on the tabletop. It’s not designed for infantry but will nail buildings and entrenched positions.

ZPU Series

The ZPU-1 is an AA 14.5mm heavy machine gun which is bad enough in its single form. The main thing it’s known for however is the fact it turns up in double (ZPU-2) and quad (ZPU-4) versions as well.

In game, I’d use this as a heavy machine gun, adding any rules for double or quad mounts on top of the HMG profile. Either way, it will rip infantry to pieces if it catches them in the open or at the very least pile on the suppression. If the game you’re playing also support helicopters, these things will be your go-to anti-aircraft gun.

ZSU-23

The ZSU is a 23mm autocannon. It does come in a quad version, the main weaponry of a Shilka AA vehicle, but seeing as YouTube has clips of technicals carrying the double version flipping over, it makes sense that Spectre has only released the more common version.

In game, it’s basically a ZPU on steroids.  It will wreck infantry, shred light vehicles and cause armoured vehicles some concern. If your opponent has deployed an AH-64 or a Hind over the board, this will make them think twice.

Rocket Pods (MLRS)

So talking about improvisation, this is a simple way of making a Multiple Launch Rocket System without spending money. Take rocket pod from an aircraft, bolt it to a frame on the cargo bed, point it downrange and hope that the force of it launching doesn’t flip the vehicle or rip itself off its mount

This setup will be many things but accurate is not one of them. It’s basically a long-range explosive shotgun. It will cause a bad day if it lands on you. As the user, also be aware it is unlikely you’ll be able to reload this ingame.

That’s all the weapons released for technicals are the moment but there are some other options if you are willing to custom fit them.

MMG (PKM/M240)

Mounting nothing more than an MMG is a pretty common sight on transport vehicles or vehicles not designed for frontline combat (such as Afghan police vehicles or PMC escort cars). An MMG is still an effective threat even if it lacks the power of it’s bigger brothers. The other point is that being smaller means it occupies less space, leaving more room for your fighters to pile on.

Mortars

With mortars already being a core part of a militia force, why not mount one on a vehicle? The recoil of the round is going straight into the shocks but it makes sense as a shoot and scoot vehicle. A mount I have seen is a ghetto mortar made of tubing weld together in banks. Once all the tubes are loaded, a single button press sends 6 or so mortar rounds off down range. Not sure how you would do this in-game but give me a week.

Auto Grenade Launcher (MK19/AGS)

I haven’t seen many pictures of this but everywhere the HMG goes, it’s 40mm slinging cousin isn’t far behind. This is a nice halfway between the HMG and the rocket pod – lots of explosions down range but you won’t be killing tanks with it.

Counter Tactics

Photo from IMFDB
Other tactic – steal them

This is all good if you are using the technicals, but how do you deal with them?

Fundamentally, engaging with all weapon system will cause at least some damage. Grenade launchers and anti-tank weapons will be the most efficient but don’t be afraid to put some MMG bursts at them – at the very least it will suppress them.

The main way to defeat them is to work out how your opponent intends to use them. If they are close to the flanks, expect a rush from them. If they set up in cover, expect an ambush. Once you know how they will be used you can easily avoid or neutralise them. Similarly, look at what they armed with – if they only have anti-personal weapons, use your own vehicles or air support to knock them out.

Otherwise, engage them as you would fight a heavy weapon team. Smoke to blind them, fire to pin them down and then finish them.

Buying Technicals

So now you know how to use them, where best to buy from? I’m assuming you are wanting them in 28mm as that is what most readers of this blog play moderns in.

Photo from Spectre Miniatures website

Well the article was inspired by the releases from Spectre. They have two base chassis to choose from, the classic Toyota and a more modern frame. Then you can pick your weapons from a huge list and any crew (only MENA/Insurgent at the moment) you need for them. Spectre also say you can swap out the system easily. I’ll be doing some writing about them once I have a big box of them in my hands. I’m also expecting to see another wave of releases at some point in the future based on the contents of the kickstarter.

Photo from Empress Miniatures website

For a long time, Empress was the only game in town for 28mm technicals. Their chassis is a Toyota pickup. As for weapons, you can pick from an M2 .50cal, an SPG-9, a heavy recoilless rifle and the ZSU-23. A big advantage to Empress is that they have crew figures to match their superb ranges, including Taliban figures.

Photo from Evil Bear Wargames

EDIT: Another alternative is Evil Bear Wargames, who make a rather nice SUV styles pickup just asking to to turned into a technical. It doesn’t come with any weapons but Empress weapon systems fit in the back. The SUVs are available in either individually or as three pack in a deal.

Photo from Radio DishDash’s website

Your final option is Radio Dishdash. One thing I like about their range is that rather than being Toyata based, the technicals are Land Rover based instead. Both types have crew figures to match their Day of the Ranger range. You can also get a triple pack with two heavy machine gun trucks and one recoilless rifle carrier.

The Ending

I hope this article has grabbed some interest in using some technicals in your own games. They are a worthwhile investment for a militia player, giving you some back bone and a few toys to play with. Good luck on the table!

If it’s good enough for the cookie monster, it’s good enough for you

Testing Report: Skirmish Sangin 08/09/2016

The last few reports I wrote were done in a narrative fashion. I’m not abandoning that format, but as this is a special game I’m going back to a more descriptive style.

Rather than using a pre-made scenario, I instead decided to spring on them a brand new, beta version of a scenario I had been working on. Tentively named “House Call” the new scenario sees the ANP and British advisers entering a Afghan village to hunt down an insurgent leader. However, the insurgents have dug in hard and have a load of special items in the toybox to use. Additional, most of the OPFOR are in hiding, waiting for the opportune moment to pop out.

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Overview of the map for this scenario

As the game starts, a squad of Afghan National Police (along with a British NCO acting as an adviser) ready to start searching from house to house. In addition, a Panther CLV is heading into town carrying two engineers and a medic to assist the search.

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Board level view as the game begins. Civilians help to confuse the battlefield.

Testing Notes: Checking a house requires 6AP worth of action to be spent on it. The idea behind this is that a single soldier will take a while to search while a big group is more efficent. The downside to rushing in with a load of guys to clear is that after clearing you roll a D10. Roll high and you might find intel, reveal an enemy fighter or even bring the target VIP out of hiding. Roll lower and you’ll either find nothing or set off a booby trap. In the initial version of the scenario played, ISAF players gained 30VP per building cleared to incentive them to actually clear buildings. However, this is way too much. The plan is to increase VPs from finding intel and not give any if you search the buildings.

You can see in the above picture, the board is pretty scenery dense. You can also see there are a fairly large number of civilians milling around. In fact, the board above only has two hostiles on it – two spotters ready to set off IEDs and spot targets. The rest of the insurgent force is currently lurking in the ratlines waiting to deploy. The insurgent player also got to place three IEDs and (initially) 5 booby traps.

As the game began, civilians milled around as the ANP starting investigating buildings, primarily as a big group so the check only takes one combat phase. As one group cleared the white building with the courtyard, a second group (along with the British NCO) moved up to the street to investigate another building. Crossing an alleyway, there was a sudden boom as a booby trap was triggered.

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A booby trap detonates just as an ANP squad is about to clear a house throwing everyone to the ground

This booby trap was initially placed on the corner so the damage was less than it could have been – the lead guy and the NCO were both only knocked down. However, both machine gunners took damage through their paper thin body armour. One was still able to keep fighting but the other was knocked unconscious, a major blow.

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The Engineers get to work

Outside of the town, the approaching armoured vehicle decided to stop and start searching the route instead of possibly blundering into another IED. Disembarking the two engineers, the vehicle stopped and went into a covering position. After a few tests, the engineers eventually found a medium IED with a pressure plate and managed to disarm it, clearing the way for the Panther to move into town.

Testing Notes: When the scenario was written, the Medium IED had a booby trap placed with which went off when the engineer originally failed his IED test. This would have required a casulty evac, ending the mission pretty quickly. As accurate as this is to the potential situation and after careful investigation of the rules, we decided to roll this back in order to keep playing and reduce the number of booby traps for the insurgent player.

As ANP troops rushed to clear the building close to the booby trap, they quickly discovered an enemy fighter and dragged him outside. As this happened one of the players turned to me and asked “Can we start interrogating him?”. After a little bit of persuasion, I agreed and the leader of the ANP started doing activities that if the British were doing this and a Western news crew were nearby, they would be in serious trouble.

Testing Notes: Okay, so Skirmish Sangin doesn’t include rules for interrogating captured enemies. There are several probable reasons for this (including the issue we had that certain characters spent most of turn 1 kicking the snot out of an opponent in order to get any info from them. However, thanks to the RPG style system, it was super easy to throw in a morale check and then start providing information that a novice fighter would know whenever the poor devil was being interrogated. This is a potential rule I’m playing around with as part of some civilian interaction additions, but I will be making it an awful lot harder.

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ANP officers move through the shipping containers as they clear the town

The ANP continued to move around clearing buildings and as they checked they found some weapon caches but not much else (although they did cause both of the spotters to swiftly move off the street to prevent their arrest). However, clearing the buildings did reduce places I could make insurgents appear. In order to make the most of this situation, I popped up both a sniper and an RPG team on the outer edge of the town. However, the RPG gunner decided to duck back in the ratlines to avoid death at the hands of the Panther’s GPMG. His assistant moved to a position overlooking a group of ANP heading into an alleyway and managed to spot them. Bringing his AK up, he fired a burst and… hit nothing. Oh dear.

Testing Notes: Ratlines are a useful way of getting troops in place, breaking the frontlines that most players want to setup in any game. Sticking them in buildings is handy way to make the town seem like bad guys are everywhere and clearing buildings becomes a way of preventing them being outflanked.

The response was what you would expect – pretty much everyone who could see the shooter opened up, hitting him with 10 points of damage and knocking him unconscious. The ANP  moved on to start clearing the building the shooter had been on top of in order to prevent it being used as a ratline position. The other ANP group moved up to the final few buildings, sprinting past two IEDs which failed to detonate before running headfirst into a recently arrived machine gunner.

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The Casualty Collection/Holding Pen is setup on the edge of town

At this point the British had parked their vehicle at the town’s entrance and appeared to be setting up a casualty/prisoner collection point, administering aid to the various unconscious fighters.

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Finally, the Taliban fighters appear from the most bizarre of ratlines

The battle was starting to wrap up, and I was running out of time to cause some more damage to the (so far) successful BLUFOR forces. IEDs and booby traps had been failing so far so I decided to deploy my commander and a few other fighters down in the south (including an RPG popping out of the well). My plan was to get them close enough to attempt and arrest and then detonate my last IED. After, of course, I tried to knock out the Panther with an RPG. Sadly he was obviously not happy about having jsut climbed out of a wheel and the rocket spiralled off into the fields. As a response, the GPMG on the Panther swung around on it’s weapon mount and leveled the attacker with a burst of 7.62.

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The Fox appears again! And doesn’t die this time.

While the gunfire banged up and down the open square, the ANP 2IC decided to put pressure on my sniper. The sniper’s response was to dive off the building and make a run for it. Deciding to snapfire, the 2IC put a burst down and did nothing more than spook the guy as he ran past. This did expose the 2IC and left him locked in place, perfect for The Fox (newly arrived via the ratlines) to pop up and drop him with a single shot from his trusty G3.

Down the far end of the street though things were going horribly wrong for me. With one fighter down, another stuck in the street with five morale markers on him and several markers on the commander and his bodyguard, some of the ANP managed to get close and arrest them both (even if it took a while for the commander to actually get it). As the ANP mopped up, both of the snipers on the outskirts manged to merge with the population and disappear away.

At the points tally, BLUFOR wins, thanks to clearing every building and arresting quite a few of the insurgents. Part of the massive win was due to how the points had been awarded by – I was giving away 30pts per building which quick adds up on a dense urban map, in addition to points gained to taking out enemies and finding intel. Although that said, managing to actually arrest the commander was also a pretty big boon.

Final Thoughts:

This scenario has lots of little additional tweaks and really needed a good play. There are a few things I’m going to take away and work on before getting it finished off. Its a different style to many of the other scenarios, with BLUFOR having to react to the moves of the OPFOR while the OPFOR has lots of angles of attack to strike back against the .

As for playing the game, my opponents seemed to really enjoy it. This is kind of the most important thing when playing at the moment – as interesting as it is to be simulating a warzone, playing something that people loose interest in by phase 2 is a terrible thing and almost a waste of an evening’s play.

Looking at the board, I may occasionally be annoyed by all the models I’ve purchase/had to paint but it makes for some great shots. Civilians in particular help to set the scene, especially when you dot a few of the armed guys among them – Eureka have some wonderful sculpts for the Taliban in more static poses, perfect for matching with their civilians. Spectre’s

Also vehciles look cool on the tabletop so it was great to get Evil Bear’s Panther out on the streets of Afghanistan. I’m not 100% on the wash job but I was happy enough to get it on the tabletop. As I write this I have more vehicles ready to be painted, so expect a shift to an imagi-nation soon so I can get my Challenger 2 on to the streets of Bazistan or some other fictional warzone.

Additional Photos:

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“If you play Wonderwall again, I’m throwing you down the well young man”
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Two figures on the rooftop. Enemy fighters or just locals enjoying the view?

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Another view showing the start of the game. Thanks again to SESWC for the awesome terrain
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Some of Eureka’s fantastic ANP figures on the tabletop. Having painted these models specifically for this scenario, I’m really looking forward to getting to use them again!

Battle Report: Skirmish Sangin 21/07/2016

Seeing as people liked the last game, here is the followup. I’m forming a rough campaign taking the results of the last game and bringing it forward. I played this at SESWC using a tweaked version of the Compound 17 scenario from the rulebook. 

48 hours earlier…

“Round of applause for Team 2 everyone” joked the Major as the teams shuffled into the briefing hall. “Thanks to the little snot they captured during the bombmaker hunt, they managed to claw viable intel from what would have otherwise been just one less bomber in the world”. The Major waitied for everyone to be seated before continuing.

” We now know that the Taliban are looking to regain a foothold in the region. There are lots of warlords eager to line their pockets and go back to the bad old days. Thanks to our little bit of intel, we know when a major Taliban figure will be sitting down with a warlord to discuss joining forces. Team 4, you’ll be going in to  observe the target compound. Once both HVTs are meeting, we will launch an assault supported by the West Shiresdale Fusiliers. Two sections will block to the north while 1st section will provide fire support. Grab or eliminate the HVTs and try not to get too banged up – the quartermaster is still annoyed with the dinged armour Team 2 came back with”

Now…

The Blackhawk flared slightly as it came into land. The 8 soldiers inside quick disembarked and regrouped, heading towards the series of compounds.

“Bloody hell, could they make any more noise?” ‘Oscar’ whispered to the rest of the operators huddled in the dried creak bed. 2 days ago they had trekked in and hidden themselves amongst the rocks and grass. It took 24 hours of waiting before there was even any sign of enemy activity in the village, more than just a few locals tending the fields and chatting in the sun. The arrival of a group from out of town in black turbans and totting serious firepower announced that both HVTs had arrived. After reporting in, the team had donned their kevlar and prepared to engage.

The helicopter has also elicited a response from the village. Civilians stared up into the sky or rushed to their rooftops to catch a glimpse of what was happening, but the fighters started to spread out, claiming fire points and grabbing guns. More importantly, the coming battle had pulled the warlord out of his meeting, running across to pull his newest fighter back into action and to scatter the civilians. The Taliban leader instead calmly stayed inside, trying to understand what was happening before risking his neck.

Putting their training to use, ‘Oscar’ brought the Minimi  to bear and, with a single burst, dropped the warlord into the dust with a scream. Other members of the squad similarly added their fire until the warlord stopped moving. With one HVT down, the special forces started to hammer the terrified and broken local fighters, plucking them from their perches or sending them crawling in the dirt to cover (including one who got pinned out in the open and distracted the SAS’s shooting for a while). Behind the SAS, the Fusilers had formed up and were beginning to move through the field towards the town.

The Fox was having none of this. With a cry to his brothers, they rushed to the roof of the building they had been resting in. One of the experienced fighters spotted some ‘Americans’ moving through the field. Resting the heavy PKM on the wall, he sent a burst of tracer fire flying towards the Fusilers. No rounds connected but the troopers had to stop to get their act together. This was to be a dangerous mistake.

Seeing the targets lit up, another insurgent rushed up the stairs, paused briefly and then sent an RPG spiralling towards to the field. It missed its intended target but instead airburst, sending bits of metal spiralling everywhere. Several fusilers got hit by shrapnel, with body armour luckily stopping most of the impact but one unlucky soldier took a shard to the leg, dropping him like a sack of potatoes. This changed Fireteam 2’s objective, and they quickly sought to get their casualty out of the line of fire.

This was not to be. With another burst of PKM fire, the rounds ripped the injured man apart. Fireteam 2 would now be evacuating a dead man. A field over, another catastrophe hit the Fusiliers. Eager to get out of the danger zone and close with the target, one of Fireteam 1’s soldiers rushed forward through the field. Unfortunately, he did not see the pressure plate stuck in the earth and detonated a booby trap placed the previous day by the insurgents. Fireteam 1 quickly rallied though, with one soldier pulling the injured away despite the rounds whizzing over his head. The other two (with grenade launcher and GPMG in hand) managed to dissuade any further response.

The SAS had finally cleaned up the fighters and started to advance into town, hoping to snatch the second HVT. What they hadn’t expected was The Fox. Having rushed across the road and pounded up to the roof of the two storey building (brushing past one of the locals recording the firefight on his phone), he found himself above two operators sneaking through the undergrowth. Worn out from rushing up the stairs, none of the shots connected but it had drawn the attention of one of the Fusilers. Trooper 1-2-4 raised his rifle and started hammering the rooftop while the SAS hit the deck and returned fire. Once again, ‘Oscar’ swung his LMG into place and ripped the target to pieces.

The frequent bursts of fire had started to draw the attention of the rest of The Fox’s team. First the PKM fired a burst, sending splinters of rock flying everywhere. Then the recently reloaded RPG sent another round spinning towards dried up river bed. His aim was off but ‘Oscar’ was dealt a critical wound. Seeing the Fusilers trying desperately to extract their casualties and concerned about his own team’s injuries, the SAS leader, Cpt E____ signalled a withdrawal and started to cover the retreat. Both sides were blooded but the Taliban had been dealt a serious blow. A potential ally had been killed and a lot of additional fighters had been sent packing. Two wounded and one KIA was a worrying trade however.

As the smoke cleared, one of the civilians climbed the ladder to his roof, eager to see what had happened from better viewpoint. He had seen The Fox rush upstairs and then the sound of gunfire and was eager to see what had happened. Lifting the hatch, he was greeted with a strange sight. The floor was covered in shell casings and a blood trail went to one of the corners. However there was no body to be seen…


Overall a tightly fought game. The ISAF forces managed to get a load of points at the start of the game thanks to nailing the warlord so early. However the combined RPG, PKM and booby trap combo managed to claw back a few points for the Taliban.

Learning Points

  • The game works really well with three people. Having separate commanders for the SAS and Fusilers ended up with some cool interactions
  • Veteran fighters are a god send for the Insurgents – decent skills and morale
  • Booby traps and IEDs can be a massive pain for ISAF and can quickly rack up VPs
  • Elite solders and good dice rolls can chew out much more numerous forces.
  • The moment ISAF takes casualties, you have a massive issue on your hands.

Photo Gallery

Thanks to SESWC’s facebook page for the images

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View of the battlefield from above – SAS on the left, Fusiliers advancing on the right
Closer view of the Fusiliers advancing trhough the fields
Closer view of the Fusiliers advancing through the fields
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A group of Taliban fighters rush past a meeting of the locals
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Fireteam 1 moments before encountering a booby trap
Another glimpse of "The Fox"
Another glimpse of “The Fox”

 

Afghan Civilians

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I showed a few of these figures off in my last painting bench post but I now have a few more done, about half way through them all. Its slow going as I’m approaching each figure individually while still using a similar colour palette to make them fit together aesthetically. Exception being one of the footballers in his knock off Man U strip. I have also realised how much my painting style relies on  copious amounts of washing. Overall I’m pretty happy with them so far and hopefully we will see them on the tabletop soon.

In other news, I’m adding static grass to most of my painted models something I’ve meant to do for a while. I also think we may see the return of The Lead Mountain!

Battle Report: Skirmish Sangin: 21/06/2016

Skirmish Sangin is all about the narrative and so I want to try writing some narrative reports for it. This is from a game I played at SESWC using the trusty Route Clearance scenario, although replacing the SEALs with SAS troopers thanks to Empress’s new releases. EDIT: Pictures at the bottom of the article.

Night, and the lights of the nearby village appeared like fireflies in the NVGs of the four waiting SAS troopers. Intel had revealed that the local star bomb maker had finished a new device and would be placing it somewhere on this road, all ready for the next ANA convoy to blunder past it. For months, this figure had alluded them until a recent capture blurted out the craftsman’s habit of placing the devices himself. Thanks to this, the team was in position to spring an ambush although they had brought full kit, expecting a fire fight. The new officer, Captain R______, and his subordinate were crouched in a poppy field; the tall stalks provided good cover from prying eyes. On the other side of the road, the team’s LMG and his assistant were prone in a dried river bed, which provided ample protection and concealment. Now they just had to wait.

As the hours went by, a small group of locals came out of the village and headed up the road towards the team. They moved carefully, scanning their surroundings. Upon reaching the junction, one of them knelt and started to dig at the earth while the rest setup a circle around him. These actions seemed suspicious to the Captain and a quick scope revealed the knelt figure as the target, carefully placing a package into the freshly dug hole. However, the ROE prohibited firing unless active opposition was spotted. The manoeuvre element slowly creeped forward, ready to rush in and arrest them.

For a while, the other figures seemed unarmed just smoking and watching the man work. All this changed after the bomb maker finished when one figure turned to put out his cigarette and his robe shifted, revealing a PKM to the SF team. With a single radio command, the team leader gave the orders to open fire.

The LMG did quick work of the machine gunner leading the group. Hearing the gun shots, the bomb maker fled. However, running over rough ground at night is tough and the bomb maker kept slipping and slamming into the ground before collapsing into the field and the cover of the tall plants. Another fighter also rushed into the field but instead of finding his friend, he came face to face with the SAS officer creeping forward. The two combatants engaged each other, but neither could find an opening so the insurgent broke off and hid. Deciding to focus on the mission, the officer crept on.

Back on the road, the remaining Taliban soldier went to see what had happened. Instead of finding his friend, he instead found the barrel of the SAS 2IC’s rifle. A few silenced shots, and another fighter was down. Hearing the noise of his friend and the SAS officer getting into a scrap, the bomb maker fled again, out of the cornfield and back towards the village. Obviously wearing shoes two sizes too big, he kept falling in the dirt until he eventually reached the wall of the first house.

The noise of the gun battle quickly brought more fighters into the fray with 7 more insurgents streaming onto the board, including a foreign fighter known simply as “The Fox”. While the rest of the group rushed forward towards the bomb maker to extract him, this wily fighter instead stepped off the street, dropped to his knee and started to scan for targets. One of the villagers ran up the stairs to the building’s roof and tried to spot any sign of the SAS in the wheat field. Two of the lead fighters advanced up the road, only to be dropped by another burst of 5.56 from the LMG still sat in the river bed.

The SAS officer, seeing it all going a bit Pete Tong, decided that a change in ROE was in order. After informing the rest of the squad, all the operators quickly aimed towards the bomb maker, now planning to take him off the streets entirely. A quick shot from number 1 downed the target, but he managed to crawl round the corner towards his compatriots. At this point, the LMG swung round and cemented itself as the toast of the mess. Drawing a bead on the injured fighter, the SAS trooper filled the street with high velocity rounds. The trail of hits not only took down the target but also killed two other fighters, including one clutching an RPG.

The Fox, seeing all this, started zeroing in on the cause of the fire. As the muzzle flash of an LMG  filled his sights, he fired a quick burst. The three shot flew in, one shattering the lens of the gunner’s NVG, while the other two slammed off his body armour. Crying out in pain, the gunner got low, trying to get further into cover. By his side, the assistant quickly popped up, sighted the source of the incoming rounds and dropped him with a few shots, seeing the insurgent fall onto his back before pulling himself out of the line of sight.

The 2IC had fallen behind, attempting to support his team from afar. As he moved toward the village and his superior, a noise and movement drew his attention. The last remaining member of the initial enemy group had planned to take advantage of the ongoing firefight to attempt to sneak back to town. Instead, he had run across to the road but tripped and fell into the ditch. Acting on instinct, the 2IC popped off a shot, the howl of pain from the injured man showing his hit. Hearing the call of “Target Down” from his boss, he decided to not finish the possible source of intel currently lying in front of him. Hitching the casualty on his shoulders, he worked his way back through the poppy fields. As he entered the first one, he heard a thud as someone had fallen over and in the rough earth in front of him. Much as he expected, the prone form turned out to be his Team Leader. Eyes raised and a mutter of “Bloody Ruperts” later, the operators continued falling back.

With their main target dead, a possible source of intel in hand and only a minor injury, the SAS started to exfil. However, one lone fighter still stood on the rooftop. Peering through the inky blackness, he attempted to spot the elite soldiers. For brief moment, he thought he saw the shine of a weapon in the moonlight. Then it was gone, much like the elite operators who had wiped out most of his friends. As he stepped down and went back to report in events to the local warlord, he noticed the body of The Fox had also vanished from where it had been moments before…

It wasn’t until the team was back on the helicopter ride home, captive safely on board and waiting for debriefing, that Lt. P____ turned to his Captain and said “Sir, you do realise that the IED is still in ground right?”. Looks like EOD will returning to that stretch of road before any convoys drive along it.

Learning Points

  • I need to finish painting the civilians. They play a key role in this scenario by potentially alerting the Taliban to the SF presence and getting in the way.
  • That SF LMG got me bottle necked coming on the board resulting in most of my reinforcements getting murdered before they even got a chance to engage.
  • SPREAD OUT – LMG fire has an AoE which can be pretty deadly.
  • The tripping on terrain rule in this scenario is rather cool and make fast movement almost impossible for OPFOR and hard for the BLUFOR soldiers.

Photo Gallery

Thanks to SESWC’s facebook page for the images

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Cpt R______ and his 2IC setup watching the road way
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LMG team takes cover in the dried creek bed
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SAS start their advance – MMG gunner has been downed and the insurgent group is starting to separate. The bomb maker and Cpt have not spotted each other

 

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2IC dragging an injured fighter out of the line of fire, ready for debriefing back at HQ