The Shadow War: Operation Wingate – UKSF

Details are still lacking but it is believed that a major operation has been undertaken by British forces in East Africa as part of Operation Wingate, in a goal to quell seperatist elements. A daylight raid by elements of the 2nd Battalion Rifles has supposedly managed to capture a HVT responsible for a series of attacks on government and private interests in the region. Multiple reports also mention the presence of unknown forces in a mixture of civilian and military clothing who were seen escorting the HVT away from the engagement site, presumed to be the rumoured UKSF contingent. – Janes’s Defence Weekly, 2nd week of March 2017

As I mentioned in the last post, there are four teams working in theatre:

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Team 1 is the UKSF Close Observation team. With a medium sniper rifle, a DMR, a compact carbine w/ UGL and a compact carbine the team is pretty well prepared for one the bullets start flying. They are only wearing ghille suits so no body armour which could prove interesting once they get engaged.

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Team 2 is the UKSF Recce Patrol. This squad is equipped pretty simply with four compact carbines and one compact carbine with a UGL. They look like guys who go yomping through the jungle and so are lacking in armour. However, their massive rucksacks are just asking for extras like laser designators or various kits to give them an edge.

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Team 3 is the UKSF Low Profile team. Dressed in a similar fashion to the guys shown hanging around with the US Marines in this video, they look all ready to blend in with the local population before getting into action. Same gear as the recce patrol in terms of weapons but less of the lugging around heavy kit.

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Team 4 is the UKSF Assault team. Dressed in armour and helmets, these guys look good to go to roll with the big boys. All four have compact carbines, helmets and chest rigs so they look like they could be used with armour or without depending on the situation. This team will also have another member – a Dual Purpose dog. Seeing as I received a second model, I decided to modify this one. I’ve clipped off the antenna and camera but green stuffed on throat panels and a headband setup similar to that seeing on the dog Reily from Call of Duty Ghosts. He is still waiting for my next round of basecoating before I paint him up

Colour scheme wise, each set had a theme I wanted to stick to. With both the Assault and the Close Observation, I wanted something to tie them to the rest of my British forces. I probably should have varied between the MTP being painted on the jackets and trousers but I ended up painting the DPM before I had the MTP paint (hence the mismatch). I original planned to paint the Low Profile guys in just tans and greens but ended up going for a much more varied colour palette, to give them a bit more of a civilian feel (something the Assault team also has to a limited degree). Finally, the Close Observation Team was perhaps the simplest paint job yet. Basecoat green, then drybrush two different browns.

Another comment is about the Assault team. These models are actually resin which I’m not 100% sold on. They seem to have a similar amount of detail to the metal models but also need a lot more cleaning up. They are also lighter than the metal ones which caused some issues while spray painting (I base using MDF counters of a similar size to GW slotta base rather than coins). Overall, models being resin doesn’t put me off them but I think I prefer the metal ones.

To conclude, I really like the UKSF models and I look forward to using them on the tabletop. They should be the perfect team of Elite Operators, ready for anything!

The Shadow War: Operation Wingate – British Infantry

The British counterpart to Taskforce Wolverine in theatre are the forces operating under Operation Wingate. Much like the Americans, the operation is split into two parts: a conventional ground force and a special forces contingent. The ground force is pulled from 2 Battalion Rifles. The deployment is slow but first boots are on the ground. Before leaving their base in Northern Ireland, the ground troops engaged with in training operations with ANZAC troops.

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When I started wargaming I just had to buy some Brits. As cool as the Americans are, I have a slight bit of national pride for the plucky tommy. I bought three packs from Empress and these models are superb. They are packed full of details and you can choose from a selection of heads from berets for your paras up to scrim covered helmets that most modern pictures include.

So lets look at the fire teams. All rules mentioned are based off the Spectre Operations ruleset.

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Fire Team 1 is designed to be the base of fire team. The team includes a Squad Leader with an assault rifle and three troopers  with an assault rifle, a LMG and an assault rifle with a UGL. One of the team also has a battlefield trauma kit, ready to prevent bleedout.

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Fire Team 2 is the Assault team. Same basic loadout except the 2IC has a shotgun rather the a UGL. The last guy in the team also has a vallon mine sweeper on his rucksack. In game terms, I’m using this as an indicator that he is a combat engineer and so have given him a breaching kit, all ready for some close quarters action.

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Team 3 is a support team. Comprised of a Javelin team (for the horde of technicals I’m expecting), a spare LMG gunner and a marksman with a medium sniper rifle, this team will be used and attached to fire teams as and when they are needed.

In addition to the weapons, everyone has body armour, pistols, frag and smoke grenades and radio comms. Speced up as professionals, the entire group comes in at a cool 664 points with up to an additional 50 points worth of command assets generated from the two squad leaders. I have the army list over on a google doc at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1wrYUrzFKnCzQ0lysZ_EtTmZ12t2D-mETgaLDBXIRirE/edit?usp=sharing

Painting wise, a big thanks goes to Tiny Terrain Models. The multicam instructions listed over on his blog were super helpful, I only did two slight adjustments. Rather than doing blotches, I ended up doing small lines to mirror the slightly different shapes of MTP. I also skipped the final step of ding the tiny olive dots. This was a personal choice – I think the camo looks best from a table top height so the little green dots would be lost entirely. As always, I still need to base them so I’ll be doing that in the next few weeks.

In terms of expansion, I REALLY like the Empress sculpts. In addition they have a nice deal to buy one of each packs that would almost fill out a platoon which would be really good for running campaigns of Sangin. They also have a set of heavy weapons which would make games interesting (only 20 points for a .50 cal? nice). The aim is to have a platoon and support ready to go by the end of the year. After that, I might look into some support.

Talking about support. Next post will cover the UKSF involvement in the game world. Here is a little in world taste of what’s coming up.

Compared to their US allies, Operation Wingate has a massive special forces contingent. According to rumours, there are 16 UKSF operatives working as part of Operation Wingate, split into four teams. Two teams have been spotted boarding helicopters carrying gear suitable for jungle operations, including large bergens and ghille suits, presumably to take part in the initial recon of Lion Shield’s African operations. The other two teams have been working in close concert with the arriving British troops, acting as low profile and assault forces in urban environment against the local militias.


I’ll be playing my first game of Spectre on Monday against someone with a ANZAC group of figures. I’m looking forward to it – its been a while since I played and I keep meaning to get back into it. The terrain is going to be Bolt Action so its a little out of theatre but it should be a good first run. Full battle report next week.

 

 

The Shadow War: Downed Pilots

I still haven’t got round to painting up the Brits (still waiting on the MTP paints) but I did get my downed pilots all good to go.

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Ward and Sullivan ready for their latest caper

Looking at research pictures, there is 101 different sets of colour schemes and combinations worn by UK Apache pilots. Base layers can be different coloured coveralls or fatigues while the vest are either plain tan or MTP. I wait for a general purpose look (plain green coverall and tan vest) in order to make them useable across a selection of scenarios (the L22 looks super cool and could pass at a glance as some sort of AUG). So expect to see these two pilots as downed chopper pilots in Afghanistan, crashed cargo drivers in the Congo or even recon pilots escaping behind enemy lines in the Balkans.

And speaking of objective markers, I now have a wide selection of them. Due to a slight SNAFU from Spectre they accidentally sent me additional models thinking my pledge rewards hadn’t been sent. This also explained the extra guys I got around Christmas. Thanks to it, I now have another set of Green Beret contractors, another set of AK contractors and Delta Close support. In addition I also got a complete set of Kickstarter exclusives. This means I now have two separate VIPs to involve. I think the be-suited VIP and bodyguards will come in handy. As for the duplicates, I think I’ll paint the Delta’s up to match but the contractors will be slightly tweaked – only need one set of Green Berets.

Of course, all these free figures means I have to buy some more models from Spectre when I head up to Salute in April . I’m also tempted to pick up some more Brits from Empress (in particular the mortar and the .50cal) so the Para’s and SAS can do some defensive ops.

 

The Shadow War: TaskForce Wolverine

So I’ve now finished the whole of Taskforce Wolverine as it stands. This is comprised of the 5 Green Berets I showed previously and their backup force of US Army Rangers tooled up to the nines. I’ve also tweaked up my painting style and added a brown wash at the end that really helps to make them look better as well as painting up the bases.

First up the Green Berets:

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In both Spectre and Skirmish Sangin, these guys will be played as Elite. Most of them are armed with assault rifles and light armour although the grenade launcher and combat shotgun should help to even the odds.

Now we have the US Rangers. The models are the Spectre Miniature’s Delta Force.

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The Specialists add some much needed punch to go with the other two teams massed assault rifle usage. A grenade launcher, missile launcher, DMR and automatic shotgun should do the business. In additon, the dual purpose dog is useful in both Spectre and Sangin in sniffing out trap or running people down.

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Team 1

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In game terms, I’ll be using them as Regulars in Spectre (purely so I can actually deploy all of them in the same game for a decent points price). In Skirmish Sangin, they seem more suited to be primarily Veterans, with maybe some variation either way. For most of them gear is full armour and assault rifles, with grenades and pistol across the board.

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Taskforce Wolverine with local air support

For these group I think I am pretty much done. Any potential additions would be some of Spectre’s machine gunners but I can’t see myself getting them any time soon – there is plenty of stuff already there to give the bad guys pause (or should I say paws) for thought.

If you are interested in any of the models shown, most are available over at the Spectre Miniature’s webpage. In addition they are running a mini-kickstarter for some very nice looking technicals and heavy weapons which can be found here. I’d love to get the tactical technical with a mounted minigun for the PMC guys to use (or for the Rangers to blow up with that missile launcher) but they are pretty far down the stretch goals. So get in there join in! Otherwise, I think I’ll settle with a nice heavy weapon emplacement so the militas can get some firepower

Next group I’ll be doing is the SAS and the group of British Army soldiers I have. I’ve order some more paints in order to do the MTP that they will mostly be wearing and I’ll be following the method posted up at Tiny Terrain Models blog. Main army units will be full MTP while the lighter SAS will be MTP tops, DPM bottoms to give some variety. After that, I’ll be starting on the horde of PMC guys currently sat waiting to be painted.

The Shadow War: TaskForce Wolverine Pt 1. (US Army Operations)

Currently based out of Djibouti, TaskForce Wolverine is a US Army taskforce formed from element of the 75th Rangers and a small number of US Green Berets acting as a “fire brigade” that can easily be deployed to any number of theatres of war, for any number of operations from short raids up to longer term deployments. Current operations are focused on Somalia and Iraq although incoming intel points to the possibility of future missions in the United Arab Emirates.

Wolverine is split into two groups – Five Green Berets (the four PMC Delta figures and the ISA agents) and the 11 men (+1 dog) of the 75th Rangers. The Rangers are actually the Delta figures but seeing as I have so many, its makes more sense that they are from a much larger force, especially if I want to use all of them at any one time.

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From the left: Panther, Tiger, Bear, Wolf, Hound

 

 

The Green Berets are here to act as the lighter force, the scalpel to the hammer of the Rangers. Overall, the squad is lightly armoured, with chest rigs and soft armour but comes out with five M4’s, an AA12 combat shotgun, an M203 launcher and a collection of pistols (and some grenades hidden away). This, combined with their elite rating (in both Sangin and Spectre) should make them pretty hardy to go up against. Like with all elite forces, they will struggle against massed militia fighters (their points cost will be their downfall) but luckily, they have 12 friends to jump in should they get in over their heads.

Paintwise, these are my first figures in 5 years. I started off airbrushing them with Valjeo black primer before applying a base coat of US Dark Green across most of the non fleshy bits. The hats, vest, rail covers and holsters where then painted in US Field Drab and faces in Medium Fleshtone. Weapons had another coat of Black (primarily to cover up mistakes) as did the operator shades they are all wearing. A dot of White was then put. The camo pattern is babies’ first attempt at camo painting (in this case something similar to US Woodland) and consists of strips of the Field Drab and Black over the Green base. It may look a little sparse up close but when looking at it from the perspective of someone playing the game it gives a nice impression of camo’d gear.

To keep track of them, I’ve attached the Skirmish Sangin character sheets below and will be adding Spectre rules details once the main rules are available.

Skirmish Sangin

Total points cost: 790pts
Total points cost: 790pts

Spectre

The Shadow War: Skirmish Sangin (and something more)

So Shadow War is all well and good being just a painting project but what is it if there isn’t also some tabletop games. The only issue is that the rules from Spectre are not out just yet and I’d like to get some games in pretty soon. This led to me looking around for some other modern day rule sets. Partially inspired by the Model Dad’s review, my eye roved over the Skirmish Sangin rules set. After doing a bit of research (and in part thanks to my birthday earlier this week) I decided to pick up the rules, along with both expansions (and some extra stuff I’ll mention below).

Skirmish Sangin is designed for small scale skirmishes with most scenarios using a section or 8 men per side. The main difference I notice between this and say Warhammer 40K (the last skirmish rules I played in any large amount) is its greater focus on individual characters. Its always a sign of game’s style when the first section reads more like a section from a tabletop RPG than from any wargame book. There are also some cool level of detail that you don’t see often, such as the replacement of IGo,YouGo with a phases system to change the pace of the action or the abilty for grenades to be cooked off or thrown back. In fact, the rules are of a style and standard that reminds me a little bit of GW’s old Inquisitor game, although lacking the need for a separate GM or the 54mm scale. I’m really looking forward to getting some games in

Its important to note that I unusually bought the rulebooks in physical form. Part of this was wanting to make it easier to learn and pass around (always handy when you’re introducing it to new people) and the other part is to support Radio Dishdash. Now I have some income, I’d much rather buy proper versions then trawl the internet for free copies to properly back the guys who make all this cool stuff.

 

Speaking of cool stuff,  I also picked up some of Empress Miniature’s rather superb looking Brits to join in the Shadow War. These will probably play a similar role to the Rangers (well technically they are the Delta figures from Spectre but seeing as I have two fire teams and specialists in my collection, they will probably be the lower skill Rangers so I can use them all at once) in being the larger force to help out the SAS. I’ve picked up a pack of four standard team members, a pack of support personal (Shotgun, sniper rifle and a javelin team) and two downed pilots just waiting to be an objective. Based on how good they are, I might pick up another fireteam to complete the group. This should give me the option to play some larger scenarios. I’m also excited to learn how to paint MTP.

Paint wise, putting the last touches on my first group of guys I’ve painted up. I’ll blog about them some point soon.

Spectre Miniatures Update: The Shadow War

I’ve noticed a lot of hobby modellers seem to base their collections around one conflict in particular, such as the excellent Hotel Zugando I have really enjoyed reading recently. This makes a lot of sense, its gives your collection a good consistency and lets you tell a trail of stories that focus on your setting. However, instead of a single country, I’m going to take another tack.

The Shadow War is the battles hidden behind the headlines, often hidden from plain sight by a collection of seemingly unrelated. Primarily fought by special ops teams, secret PMC teams and intelligence operatives, The Shadow War occasionally draws in front-line troops when the situation demands more of a sledgehammer than a scalpel. These battles are close fought events on a variety of scales, taking place everywhere from the former Soviet Republics to the seemingly friendly nations in the Middle East to Brazilian Favelas to the very streets of Europe and America. The sides are more shades of grey than black and white, and today’s allies could be the wolves at the door in a matter of days.

On a practical sense, my aim with The Shadow War is to create a set of teams inspired by both games and films that could be easily seen in all sorts of locations. These will start with the Spectre models I own but I hope to add some additional figures from both Eurkea’s and Empress’s range.

In terms of progress, I’ve managed to get a start but sadly I’ve run out of both bases and airbrush propellent so there will be some delays before the US guys will be hitting the field. I’ll mention the titles of the various groups I’m currently thinking of doing, with more details coming soon.

  • Task Force Wolverine – The Scapel and The Sledgehammer (US Army Special Forces)
  • Task Force Tiger – The Seaborne Strike Force (US Marines + US Navy Seals)
  • Operation Wingate– The Watchers in the Dark (SAS + British Army)
  • Grapevine – The Conflict Factory (CIA SAD and it’s Paramilitaries)
  • Lion Shield Industries – The Unknown Factor (South African PMC)
  • ?? – The Bear (Russian Army Special Forces)