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”

Additional Rules: Razor In Other Games

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

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

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

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

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

Black Ops

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

Razor 2 Stats

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

Rules

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

Options

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

 

Force on Force

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

For weapon stats, check the rulebook.

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

Skirmish Sangin

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

The Vehicle Option

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

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

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

 

THE BIKE-ISH OPTION

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

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

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

Weekend Warfare 3 – INTEL01 “Thieves in the Night”

Part 3 of Weekend Warfare steps away from the adventures of CGS (don’t worry, more reports are coming soon following those lunatics). Instead we look at a side story, based on events that took place in Bazistan before Commando Global Solutions arrived. These stories are based off Intel requested by officers in the company

Argo Corporation maintains several depots in Bazistan. These depots will often contain Argo made products getting ready for local distribution but can also act as storehouses for Argo Black Ops in the region.

6 months ago, -REDACTED- discovered Argo was stockpiling gear and preparing to move contractors in country. -REDACTED- hired a team of freelance operators to break into a depot and document the hardware that was in place.

The freelance operators chose to break in before the contractors arrived, when the only personnel at the site were an overnight crew not expecting trouble.


The freelance operators comprised of four characters

  • “Hawthorne” – Elite with SMG
  • “Compton” – Elite with silenced SMG
  • “Alameda” – Veteran with assault rifle
  • “Hollywood” – Average with assault rifle

There are two interesting points about these guys – the first is the range of experience. Two are elites ready to roll but the others are less well-trained. I presume they found Hollywood in a bar somewhere. The other thing is the lack of gear. None of the guys are wearing body armour and only one of them is using a silenced weapon. In other words, they are not in the best state for the mission they have signed up for – the plan is to rely on not getting spotted.

Against them are 8 guards. The four with M16s are all fully trained (rated Average) and start off duty in the sight office. The four armed with pistols are renta-cops (either Novices or Average) and begin wandering set paths inside the warehouse.

The goal of the game is for the Operatives to place trackers inside 5 ammo boxes spread throughout the warehouse. Depending on how many are tagged will determine if the Operative succeed in their mission, each tracker placed improves the final roll by 20%. If they need to set off the alarm off to do this task, it doesn’t matter. However, due to a lack of numbers and armour, it would be best to be avoided

The Operatives stack up
Warehouse 1 with the two guards on patrol
Warehouse 2 with the two guards on patrol. The operators were placed inside due to some camera positioning issues

As the game begins, all is quiet with the guards continuing their patrol routes. Hawthorne and Hollywood are the first to enter, sneaking up to the shelving and coming to a halt. Hawthrone, keeping his eyes open for movement ahead of him, finds the first of the ammo cases and cracks it open. Placing a tracker inside, the first part of the objectives are achieved.

Compton, the second in command of this little group, then enters the warehouse. Walking through the half-light of a dark interior, he spots movement and a flashing torch ahead of him on the ground floor. However, his attempts to spot the exact source fail. In contrast, one of the guards (Waters) peers over the gantry and spots someone who doesn’t seem to be wearing a security guard’s uniform. A flash of a torch and Compton has been spotted. All it would take is a radio call and suddenly the rest of the guards would come rushing in.

Sensing his hastily planned mission is about to go awry, Hawthorne now decides time is of the essence. He sprint up the board and runs head long into Jones, another guard. Hawthorne throws his weight and slams Jones backwards. However, Jones isn’t knocked unconscious (instead running back behind a shelf) and the noise of the scuffle sets alarm bells ringing. With the rest of the guards now getting into combat positions, Hollywood finishes placing a tracker, pulls his gun and starts to rock and roll. Spotting Waters up on the gantry, he raises his assault rifle and sends a burst flying down between the shelves. It misses but forces him to duck for cover. This movement attracts Compton’s attention and he also hammers a burst of 9mm rounds up towards the gantry. These rounds hit and cause a lot of damage, knocking Waters unconscious with a Critical wound. One guard is now out of action.

More worryingly, the reaction team begin to enter the warehouse, sprinting for cover (one of them even flips a table over thanks to too many action films) or rushing up onto the gantry. However Alameda, the final operative has also entered the proceedings and rushes to cover near his boss and long time friend.

The guards start attempting to spot the intruders and for a little while the battle turns into a two-way shooting range with both sides trading fire for not much result after everyone dived for cover. There are some close calls (including a shot missing by 1%). The main result is the slow progress of the operatives up the board, with a third tracker placed by Alameda.

On the guards side, one memorable moment is when Baptist (one of the reaction guards) draws a bead on Hawthrone. He spots, aims and shoots. Its unsure what happens next but probably inspired by the action film they had been watching in the hut and maybe related to an unauthorised modification to a trigger sear, but Baptist proceeded to mag dump all 30 rounds into the wall. Even worse, he seemed to have misplaced all his spare magazines and would have to go grab one from one of this buddies (translated: he rolled a 100 which is a fumble in Skirmish Sangin).

Compton rushed up to cover and almost barged into Jones, still recovering from that first melee attack. Compton however quickly responds putting two shots into Jones chest before a final shot to his head to finish him off. However, exposing himself to get there draws the attention of the guards and a hail of fire flies over his head, almost pinning him in place.

Other guards continue to hammer fire at the rest of the operatives. One, by the name of Brown, pulls up his pistol and scores a hit on Hawthorne. It’s only a graze, a light wound. In return, Hawthorne swings around and puts a burst of accurate fire at Brown. The hits pummel Brown and falls unconscious from the shock. This sudden violence shocked many of the other guards letting up the fire slightly.

Hawthorne, watching the clock, realises that it might be time to cut their losses and flee before the rest of the reaction force turns up. Giving clipped orders, the operatives start to peel away with Hollywood taking the lead. Alameda followed, popping off a shot to pin down any pursuit. Compton even managed to brave the fire and begin his own withdrawal. However, before Hawthrone could join them, one of the guards popped out from behind his table and dropped the leader of the operatives with a short burst (the hit was a massive 17 damage on 2D10).

Despite this last act of defiance, the Operatives had managed to fulfil at least part of their objectives and escaped into the night leaving only one of their number behind. Now they just had to hope the trackers were working….


So final count:

  • 3 Guards knocked out of commission
  • 1 Operative KIA and left in the warehouse
  • 3/5 trackers placed giving a 60% chance of the trackers actually working as intended. Rolling the dice I got a 25, meaning that the mission was overall a success and -REDACTED- now know where the Argo mercs are heading. Starting point for a future mission maybe?

Overall it was a fun game. The testing of stealth rules was rumbled by a valid detection and instead it turned into the test of fighting through the TTCombat Warehouse. There were a few places where I was struggling to fit my chunky gamer hands but it’s a great place for just a simple battle through it if you don’t fancy laying out an entire board. The multiple levels and bays, as well as the shelves you get in the kit. The only downside is that there are limited chances to flank without exposing yourself. Having smoke grenades or adding a small outside area would help solve the issue.

Additionally, the lack of people with body armour led to much more cautious play, sticking to cover and using suppression. However, when someone got hit they normally dropped down hard. A 1D10 pistol becomes a lot more horrifying when there isn’t body armour to block it.

I also really like Skirmish Sangin for such a small game – each character feels like a separate person with their own skill level. For example, Hollywood’s rifle skill in this was almost as good as Alameda but Hollywood did suffer from a lower morale due to being Average rather than Veteran meaning he was more likely. In your mind’s eye, Hollywood becomes the skilled new guy who may be more likely to run away than the seasoned old-timer Alameda.

I’m coming to the end of a few things, and hopefully with have my terrain boards back so expect more Weekend Warfare soon!

Weekend Warfare 2 – CGS S01E02

Part two of my attempt to play more wargames returns us to Skirmish Sangin, with a few new house rules this time. While the last mission was all out action against an inferior foe, this one sees a small team attempting to recon a warehouse currently being used as a base for a shifty corporation and their mercenaries. What could they be up to? It’s time for CGS’s Team 2 to deploy.

 


CGS S01E02 – 1 Hour Earlier

1 hour before CGS Team 1 go into action in Bazi City, the camera zooms in to a warehouse complex on the outskirts of town. Zooming out to the front gate, it pans over old and worn adobe building before directing towards four dirt lumps huddled on the roof. There is a pause and then a shuffle as weapons are drawn and placed into position.

Team 2’s mission was to infiltrate this warehouse facility (codenamed Site Bravo) and perform two tasks:

  1. Hit the comms tower and grab a data dump that will contain information on transfers around the site
  2. Investigate the interior of the warehouse, in particular a shipping container from the last shipment to arrive at the warehouse

Team 2 was comprised of four soldiers split into 2 elements:

  1. Sniper team with Tinkler (Sniper Rifle) and Richards (DMR)
  2. Assault Team with Ward (M4 w/ UGL and Suppressed Pistol) and Harrison (M4 and Suppressed Pistol)

Arrayed against them?  The initial Intel put a set of 4 security guards (Smith, Wright, Brown and Creighton) patrolling round the site or in static positions. On site observation in the days before the raid showed an 8 man from Argo’s Direct Action team – armed with assault rifles, SMGs and a light machine gun. Four operators began off site in an SUV (Dvořák, Pownall, Baum and Leusink), two were sleeping in the building next to the portaloo (Chichigov and Séguin) while the other two were guarding the warehouse (Montanez and Šnajdr).

Due to the imminent start of the operation in Bazi City, it was decided to bring the action part of the operation forward. With the SUV away from the site, Ward and Harrison chose this opportunity to sneak inside and begin the intel gathering.

Turn 1

To begin with Tinkler and Richards stayed quiet, using their shooting position to spot the various guards that were in the line of site. Wright and Brown continue on their patrol paths while Smith stayed inside the front gate shelter, looking back into the facility. This distraction gave Ward and Harrison plenty of time to sprint towards the dense on the south side of the facilty, moving past the jersey barriers via the gap. They then paused to climb the fence.

Inside the warhouse, the two mercs eventually stopped their conversation and returned to guard duty. Worse, the two sleeping mercs woke up and move outside to get some fresh air. Luckily, Richards and Tinkler were able to pass on their locations allowing the assault team to pick the right moment to climb the fence and then sneak past the front security gate. Unfortunately, just as they were about to clear the guard hut, Smith finally stopped staring off into the distance, turned, noticed a man (Harrison) wearing a bush walking past and started reaching for his radio.

Before he could thumb the radio, it was time for Ward to activate. Walking forward, he pumped two suppressed pistol rounds through the open window dropping Smith to the ground, heavily wounded and unconscious. Brushing this off, the assault team crept in. Creighton, having swapped roles with Brown, walked out of the site office and strolled right past the front gate. Obviously thinking too much about the warm chair he just left, Creighton managed to miss both the pair of bushes and the strangely quiet gate post.

Turn 2

This lack of awareness would be his downfall. As the second turn started, Harrison activated and crept up behind Creighton. Rolling well, Harrison dropped the guard to the floor by causing 13 points of damage, an instant kill. Bounding past, Ward rushed to the the main hub building to get to the data tower and begin the download. Working his way through the building he reached the roof, placed the hacking device and started the transfer. Harrison moved into position on the floor below, ready to provide cover or escape should it be required.

It was at this point that an SUV started pulling up to the entrance of the facility. The four remaining members of the mercenary team had returned.

Tinkler and Richards, sat in overwatch watched the vehicle slowly turn in and halt at the barrier. Realising that the odds were stacked well and truly against them with the arrival of the relief team, and that the objective wasn’t yet complete, Tinkler decided now was the time to go active. Also affecting the decision was the sounds of dismay coming from two of the security guards – they had spotted Creighton’s body in the open and were about to raise the alarm.

Just as Baum stepped from the vehicle (planning to investigate why the barrier hadn’t been raised), a round from Tinkler came flying right past him, hitting the front of the vehicle and smashing through the engine block. The SUV was no longer functional, causing the rest of the mercs to dive out of the vehicle in disarray. Richards then attempted to send a round into Baum but he missed. The rest of the mercs outside the base then moved into their own cover points either by choice or by failing morale tests and retiring.

Inside the compound, the rest of mercs started appearing out of their various hiding places and started moving towards the front gate. Montanez headed up to the first floor of the warehouse to gain an advantage while the others (and the remaining security guards) moved into various pieces of cover to regroup.

This gap in the firefight was advantageous as Ward was quickly able to finish grabbing the download. At this point, CGS had fulfilled one of two objectives. After consulting with the CGS off-site commander (one of my wargaming buddies down in York), they decided not to risk entering the warehouse as they were unsure how many enemy troops were hidden away and the current situation was one they could more easily escape from. As part of this getaway, Harrison rushed down the stairs, vaulted through the window of the front gate’s hut and then hit the deck. Ward, data disc in hand, only made it to the top floor of the office.

Back at the extraction point, Richards was able to spot Pownall and bring an aimed shot to bear. It hit, dropping the unfortunate soldier with a single shot. However, this fire was starting to attract attention. Leuinksi, having pulled himself together managed to spot Tinkler after a few attempts. The rest of the mercs inside the compound started to engage the Assault team. Montanez sprinted up the stairs ready to breach and enter. The rest focused on Harrison, shredding the outer wall of the hut but doing nothing more than causing some morale markers. Chingov, looking for a new angle, moved behind the site office.

Turn 3

Baum and Tinkler have the same body and would activate at the same time so a roll off took place. Tinkler won it and responded by spotting Baum in the open and hammering a shot into him. The sniper round caused more than fatal damage and another merc was down. Success was also on CGS’s side inside the compound as Harrison climbed out the window and barely made a close range shot. It also caused a low amount of damage, doing not much more than putting Brown on the ground for a bit. Ward also caused some damage, spotting Montanez through the door and putting a burst into him. Montanez was in a bad way but still conscious. This shooting had a knock on effect as both Wright and Brown became pinned in place.

The next activation saw lots of things happen very quickly. Tinkler tried to shoot the LMG gunner but fumbled, causing a misfire that would need to be cleared. Spotting the shot, Lesunki popped up out of cover and put a burst of fire down on Tinkler to shut him up. It didn’t cause any damage but it did draw Richard’s attention. After a successful spot, a shot landed and caused a medium wound knocking Lesunki unconcious.

The mercs still in the fight spotted Ward and started putting rounds down. With the luck of the devil, Ward managed to evade all this fire, pass his morale checks and keep running. Both he and Harrison reached the exfil zone and were about to move off board when Dvorak, the Argo team leader, popped up and sent a few aimed shot towards Ward. The shots missed and the CGS team disappeared off into the desert.

Post Game

With all four team members intact and with the data disc in hand, CGS Team 2 had managed to fufil part of their objective. However, they had not investigated the warehouse and so are unaware of what exactly Argo are distributing in the region. Due to the lack of injuries, Team 2 will also be able to assist Team 1 in the next mission, either as heliborne snipers or by dropping into the city.

The rules I was testing was working well, and although there are a few tweaks needed it’s heading in the right direction. The other stand out part of this was playing over the excellent MDF terrain. Sarrissa’s factory is without compare and it’s a shame more of a firefight didn’t happen in there. Its also making me think about using the factory as one element of my demo board. Maybe CGS will be returning to Site Bravo? I also really need to get the boards assembled and the scenery painted – bare MDF is a little boring to look at.

Next game will be delayed a while (the next few weeks are very busy) but when we return it will be time for Team 1 to try and get out of Bazi City with a VIP in tow. Hopefully the arrival of Team 2 should help them out a little bit. On the other hand, there are a lot of cops and militia on their tail.

Team 2 sits in the back of extraction chopper, ghille suits stowed and weapons hung on the racks. The usual post mission feel is interrupted when the helo suddenly changes direction. The loadmaster breaks open the supply boxes and begins handing out ammo and weapons. Ward stands up, turns to his team and asks “You guys ready to pull Davison’s ass from the fire again?”

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.

img_20160908_193450
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.

img_20160908_193459
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.

20160908_200047
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.

20160908_203404
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.

20160908_205757
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.

20160908_211937
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.

14231940_1104351416269497_7890282577929616277_o
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.

20160908_214018
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:

14289845_1104350652936240_8912746839439869554_o
“If you play Wonderwall again, I’m throwing you down the well young man”
img_20160908_193757
Two figures on the rooftop. Enemy fighters or just locals enjoying the view?

14258259_1104349952936310_7951491345242440439_o

14310274_1104350056269633_6804550882075432158_o

img_20160908_193509
Another view showing the start of the game. Thanks again to SESWC for the awesome terrain
14324644_1104349666269672_5720121611703292570_o
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!