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


  • 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


  • 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)
(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 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!

The Great Big Modern Wargaming Rules Comparison

Before we start a disclaimer: I have done some writing for Skirmish Sangin and I am listed in the Spectre Operations book as a play tester.

EDIT: Two appendices have been added. These should be read after the main article.

A frequent question on the various wargaming sites is simple – “which rules should I play?”. The aim of this article is designed to assist players with answering this question. To do that, we will take a look at several rulesets, briefly discussing how they work and what they are best at. This isn’t a review – I have no plans of saying “this is best rules”. All the rules I cover are ones I have played, enjoyed and wish to detail for more people to get stuck in. So, let’s get started!

Basic rules – all of these games are playable with 28mm figures at a 1:1 model ratio. They are all about playing games in the post 1945 world, although many of them would work for actions in WW2.

If anything is incorrect below, please drop me a message so I can fix it.

Which rules are we looking at?

Well, who best to ask about the details of each ruleset than the info pages for them on their store? Click on the images to go find them.

Black Ops from Osprey


Black Ops is a skirmish wargame of tactical espionage combat that recreates the tension and excitement of modern action-thrillers such as the Bond and Bourne films. The fast-play rules keep all the players in the thick of the action, while the mission generator provides a wide range of options for scenarios – from stealthy extraction or surveillance missions to more overt raids and assaults. Stealth, combat, and technical expertise all have a role to play, and players may recruit a number of different operative types – spies, mercenaries, criminals, hackers, special forces, and many more – to recruit the best possible team for the job. Players may also choose to join a faction – powerful organisations, intelligence agencies, criminal syndicates, militaries, or rebel groups, each with a stake in international affairs. By doing so, their team may receive certain benefits, but may also find itself limited at a crucial time. With the variety offered by the characters, factions, and scenarios, no two games of Black Ops should ever be the same!

Danger Close from Empress


Tired of over complicated rules that take a degree in maths, physics and psychology to understand?

Tired of trying to find that particular mechanism that you know is there somewhere but cannot find the page?

Tired of setting up an evening’s game and having to pack up three hours later half way through move 4?

The Empress team are! We just wanted to get our toys out and play with terrain that we’ve spent years working on. We wanted a game that felt right but was accessible and smooth.

While searching we found “Some Corner of a Foreign Field” written by Matt Moran. This one sheet (two sides of A4) rule set is aimed at 4 to 15 figures per side. It’s easy to pick up and does everything that we wanted without any problems. We liked the rules so much we obtained the rights to them and have now re-released them under the name “Danger Close”

Force on Force from Ambush Alley Games

FOF Rulebook layouts16.qxd

Force on Force brings the drama and action of modern warfare to the tabletop using miniature soldiers. The rules cover all aspects of modern warfare from the confidence and supply level of troops to air-strikes and off-board artillery and accommodates scenarios set anywhere from the end of World War II to the conflicts on today’s news without sacrificing either character or playability. Quick to learn and play, the game rewards players who use well-considered modern tactics to try and achieve victory. From infantry and armor to artillery and air support, Force on Force presents everything that players need to recreate post-World War II warfare involving both conventional, combined-arms forces and the irregular guerrilla units that have become the hallmark of 21st century warfare.

Oscar Sierra Charlie: Part 1 from Evil Bear Wargames


Oscar Sierra Charlie puts you straight in the front line of gripping battles. This is combat at the cutting edge; individual and squad-level action, desperate missions to capture key objectives, with victory going to best tactical mind.

OSC’s mechanics are deliberately streamlined for fast-paced tactical play. Straightforward stat lines are augmented by a plethora of skills, options and tactics. At its heart a player-driven rules system, no two games of OSC will be the same. Your troops will stand and fight at your command – their fate and that of the mission is wholly in your hands!

Skirmish Sangin from Radio DishDash


SKIRMISH SANGIN is a tabletop skirmish game where players control opposing forces, either modern western military forces (ISAF) or insurgent militias that do battle everyday in the modern war for Afghanistan. Inside this book you will find:

  • Simple, fast combat rules that enable furious tabletop skirmish battles
  • Information and rules for creation of professional and insurgent forces
  • A full array of modern weapons and armour for both sides
  • Rules for off table support ranging from snipers to heavy weapon platoons, fast air and helicopters
  • A game that plays as easily with two people as it does for multi-player games.
  • A set of rules that provides an intense and compelling tabletop game regardless of whether you field four figures per side or forty.

Spectre Operations from Spectre Miniatures


Spectre: Operations is a tabletop skirmish wargame from Spectre Miniatures which takes you to the cutting edge of modern warfare. Spectre: Operations introduces a world of action and intrigue, where special forces, intelligence agents and military contractors are on the front line, carrying out covert operations against a multitude of adversaries; including enemy nations, unstable regimes, ruthless warlords, insurgents, mercenaries and paramilitary groups.

The game mechanics within this book are realistic, fast paced and quick to learn, optimised for 2+ players with 4 – 40+ miniatures each side. It takes into account all modern battlefifi eld factors such as ranged and close combat, infantry and vehicle combat, air support, covert operations and civilians on the battlefield. The game uses mechanics to realistically represent darkness, adverse weather conditions and how alert your troops are, as well as cutting edge equipment such as night vision, suppressed weapons and surveillance drones. Stealth, cunning, and the ruthless will to win is the only way to prevail; you must rely on tactics, cover and careful selection of your forces to plan your action and succeed in Spectre: Operations.

How do I get the rulebook and how many expansions?


Black Ops

Osprey publish the rules so it’s basically available everywhere that their books are sold – so their site, Amazon, etc. In addition, there is a digital version available in Kindle format, ePub and PDF. There are currently no expansions released.

Danger Close

It’s literally two pages, available from Empress as both a PDF and a laminated double-sided sheet of A4. Supplements covering more forces are available on the Empress website.

Force on Force

Finding a physical copy of the original rulebook is like searching for hen’s teeth. However, it is also available in PDF format from the Ambush Alley Games website. As for expansions, Force on Force is king. It has 8 separate books, covering actions such as Vietnam War, African Bush Wars, Somalia, Cold War Gone Hot,The Global War on Terror and one final book covering various Special Operation actions. Each book is pretty thick covering history, multiple scenarios and some details on the forces.

OSC: Part 1

The first book is out and available direct from Evil Bear Wargames in both physical and PDF versions. More books will be coming to expand the rules from skirmish level to multiple squads and from there into the far future.

Skirmish Sangin

The rulebook are available from the Radio DishDash site, who have distribution in New Zealand, the UK and the US (through . Studio Miniatures in the UK also sells the rulebook at shows. The physical version includes the PDF as part of the purchase, so you can start reading the rules before the book even appears. There are two dispatches books that expand the core game, a battle book covering the event of Blackhawk Down and a book covering a fictional Afrika setting (with lots of scenarios and forces). In addition, there are free scenarios and additional rules available on the Skirmish Sangin blog and website.

Spectre Operations

The rulebook is available from the Spectre Miniatures site, being shipped from the UK. There is currently no digital version but there have been many requests so watch this space. As a warning, there is an older beta set of rules that were in PDF and floating around. The rules are out of date and apart from a brief understanding of the core concepts should be ignored. This ruleset is very recent but expansions are already being planned to add commander upgrades and focus on jungle fighting.

What are the core systems I really need to know about?


Black Ops

  • Card activation: Troops activates by pulling cards from a deck composed of two suits (or one for each player). Jacks let the standard troops play, Kings activate Heavy Weapon teams, Queens make specialists move, Aces allow for leaders to get to work and 2’s activate civilians. When a card is drawn, it activates all of that type for that player.
  • Dice rolling: In Black Ops, a low value is better than a high value. When rolling tests for various actions, the stat value is
  • Stealth Missions: As you might expect with the name, Black Ops has a big section focused on sneaking missions. It has some very nice rules for tracking noise and a useful table for running patrolling guards.

Danger Close

  • Skills and drills: Each soldier has a Skills & Drills value to represent their level of expertise. Skills and Drills form the core of all tests – higher values cause you to activate first, give you more activations and give you bonuses in certain tests.
  • Actions: Actions such as spotting, shooting or close combat are based around a D20 roll, with modifiers affecting the end results.
  • Stress and Morale: When soldiers are attacked or subject to other unfortunate incidents, stress markers are added. When they next activate, a test is rolled. In addition, stress also affects other actions, reducing how well a character can fight.

Force on Force

  • Troop Quality and tests: Core concepts behind Force on Force are simple – every test is based on a dice roll of 4. Troop quality helps to change how likely this is to occur. Forces are assigned a dice type (from D6 to D12) to be used when testing, with more experienced troops having a higher chance to succeed. Forces also are assigned a morale rating which is independent from skill level.
  • Fog Of War: Every time a reaction test is failed with a roll of 1, a fog of war card is played. These cards can do all sorts of things to ruin a forces day, from units running out of ammo or being needed elsewhere to aircraft performing an emergency attack run.
  • Rules: There are a lot of rules in the main rulebook. They cover everything from tiny SOF engagements to huge massed battles with air assets and fire support being called in. Rules also allow for engagements between different types of forces (regulars or insurgents).

OSC: Part 1

  • One stat system: All tests are based around a single stat value, ranging from 1 (a civilian) up to 7 (elite SOF). When using actions, this stat is added to a 1D10 to generate a final value.
  • Deployment and Objectives: On the first turn, players place a deployment zone from which their armies start the battle. Keep it clear is important, to allow more forces to arrive on the scene. The commander can also move the deployment zone by using their actions. In addition, the game is heavily focused on objectives. One objective is the main one while other secondary objectives provide more opportunities to win. In many cases, these objectives must be collected and stashed on the deployment point.
  • Actions and Skill tests: There is a long list of actions that can be played using your 2 activation points. These actions (from hip shooting to challenging an enemy to surrender) are either Action tests (where how far over 10 your final result is important) or skill tests (as long as the final result is over 10, its successful). Once you know the actions, it’s a very quick system to play. Players activate based on who gains initiative on a 1D10 dice roll. Additionally actions can cause
  • Card play:As the game progress, players will gain cards (either through losing the initiative or via the commander spending activation points). These cards can be played at during time and help to swing battles, removing counters or adding additional actions. Or just forcing an opponent out of an annoying building.

Skirmish Sangin

  • Stat lines: As you can see below, soldiers in Skirmish Sangin are more like RPG characters than simple soldiers. The body rating is used as the basis for all skills, with experience levels determining how effective they are. In addition, character packages (such as sniper or NCO) can be bought to improve skills This adds a boat load of character to each fighter.
  • Combat phases and Activation: Rather than IGO-UGO, all characters of a certain body rating activate at the same time. Body armour affects this activation time. Each turn, every soldier will activate a total of four times, able to use 3AP an activation to perform their actions.
  • Actions and Modifiers: Spotting, Shooting and Close Combat all test using the D100 against their skill rating with modifiers added. When you first start playing, the list of modifiers seems overwhelming but after a few games it starts to sink in. Worse, coming under fire will add more modifiers and reduce a character’s effectiveness.

Spectre Operations

  • Suppression: A core system of the rules, suppression is gained from coming under fire and drops a characters stats and movement speed, potentially locking them in place. Suppression is a nightmare incarnate, reducing a player’s battle plan to tatters. More well-trained troops have limitations on how suppression they can take but it is still a major issue.
  • Command Actions: The second phase of each turn allows a commander to (after they pass a test) use command actions. These actions can do many things, from rallying off suppression, going into overwatch or scanning for hidden enemies.
  • Tactical Actions: The movement phase is not just for closing with the enemy. This phase also allows more “cool” actions such as Tactical Movement (reduce speed, increase defence and stealth), Combat Sprint (increase speed but prevent combat) or breaching through an obstacle. Players can also deploy tactical grenades such as smoke or stun to reduce enemy effectiveness before the combat phase. Tactical actions can take place before or after movement, letting players setup room clearing actions with ease.
  • Stealthy stuff: Spectre can be used for all out battles but it is particularly good for stealthy operations. Teams of SOF operators with silenced weapons and using the night can sneak around much larger forces, avoiding patrols. I really like how effortless the play can move from creeping around to all out warfare.

What does a unit profile look like?


For this test, we will be using the profile for a British Army squadie (so a professional soldier) with body armour, Assault Rifle, a Frag grenade and a Smoke grenade.

Black Ops

Professional Soldier4444JackAssault Rifle, Body Armour, Smoke grenades, Frag grenades-

Grenades in Black Ops are purchased as a squad upgrade to outfit an entire force. The system works that lower stats are better.

Danger Close

NameS&DAMP. WpnS. WpnGrenade
Squadie 14HRL85A2None1 Frag, 1 Smoke

Soldiers are either regulars or insurgents which affects their morale.

Force on Force

Initiative Level: D8
Confidence Level: Confident
Supply Level: Normal
Body Armour: 1D
Troop Quality/Morale: D8/D10

1x Rifleman w/L85A2

Stats are usually applied for an entire force.

OSC: Part 1

Soldier5BAssault Rifle | Frag Grenade | Smoke Grenade

Skirmish Sangin

BodyArmourMoraleAPWeaponCBT Phases
13 (15)1D10+455%3L85A22, 4, 6, 8

Pistol (BODY x3) 45% | Rifle (BODY x3 +10%) 55% | Heavy Weapon (BODY x2) 30% | Spot (100%) | First Aid (40%) | Throw (BODY x3) 45%| Forward Observer (BODY x2) 30%

Spectre Operations

7Professional Soldier3352310Assault Rifle, Body Armour, Frag Grenade, Smoke Grenade

What is the squad system like?


Black Ops

There is no squad system but there is a morale (DED) benefit to remaining in a group when under fire. Grouped figures provide protection to leaders, heavy weapon teams and specialists, forcing hits off them and onto the poor Jacks protecting them.

Danger Close

No specific squad system but a benefit to remaining close to other soldiers when suffering stress (it increases the dice roll).

Force on Force

Squads is how this game is normally played, although the elements can be of any size from 1 up to 10ish. Size of the squad is normally set by the scenario writer. Squads can split and merge easily

OSC: Part 1

At the moment, there is no team system (it’s coming in part 2). However, a force’s commander can spend their activation on other soldiers nearby.

Skirmish Sangin

There are no rules for teams or squads in the main rulebook except for heavy weapons (which just means that the various soldiers that form the team activate together). However, soldiers close by can provide assistance during morale tests and enemy troop positions can be shared amongst characters. In addition, Dispatches 1 adds the concept of acting as a fireteam. It requires action to form, everyone must stay close to each other and it causes the team to activate using the phases of the lowest body rating in the team. But, it does let you activate all of the team at the same time which can be vital.

Spectre Operations

Squads form a key part of the final release for Spectre. Squads let soldiers use their commander’s command rating but requires them to stay within cohesion distance. Militia units gain even more command There is also rules for breaking and reforming squads when you need to separate a larger team. Finally, squad leaders can perform actions such as Fire control orders which lets you bring a lot of fire down on a particular target.

Do the rules include vehicles?


Black Ops

Yes. Vehicle rules are simple but good enough for a vehicle to join the fight.

Danger Close

No – It’s literally 2 sides of A4 already filled with information for the infantry battle

Force on Force

Force on Force is a ruleset designed to have vehicles operating on a battlefield. It works very well and can model anything from civilian vehicles up to helicopters and fast air.

OSC: Part 1

No. The vehicle rules will be coming in Part 2.

Skirmish Sangin

There is a complete section detailing various additions to cover AFVs. Vehicles are based around a few key types (such as IFVs or MBTs) but with varying weapons, armour and IED protection. They are incredibly powerful and the rules writers felt it fit to caution against using them (especially the MBTs) in such a small-scale game. Day of the Rangers and Dispatches 2 also adds helicopters as onboard vehicles.

Spectre Operations

The is also another full section of the rulebook. The rules support vehicles in their full range of actions (include ramming enemy troops or colliding with terrain) and also feature a vast arsenal of additional upgrades for them, to make modelling different types more easily. The vehicles feel very different, with armoured vehicles causing issues to opponents especially.

Do the rules include off map support?

Black Ops

Yes. Various supports can be purchased as Faction Specialities.

Danger Close

Mortars, helicopter support and off-map weapon teams can all be called in via squad leaders.

Force on Force

Artillery batteries, helicopters and air units are modelled. All of these are well modeled, with air units even showing different styles such as strafing runs, pylon turns or dive bombing.

OSC: Part 1

None at the moment.

Skirmish Sangin

Both regulars and insurgents can take off-map support as part of the Advanced rules section. Due to the small-scale of the battlefield, supports also include snipers, HMG teams, mortars, anti-tank missile teams, attack helicopters and fast air (although only in a show of force role).

Spectre Operations

The off-map assets start with heliborne snipers and go up to artillery barrages, fast air units and even ISTAR drones. The list is massive and can be used by all the types of forces.

What is the optimum size of force for a single player?


Squad size is between 6 and 13 figures, platoon size is 30ish figures (normally split into sections)

Black Ops

Squad although grouping units could allow for platoon games

Danger Close

Squad – There is a huge amount of detail in each soldier’s action.

Force on Force

Squad up to platoon level with depending on the size of each element (single figures for a squad game, teams for platoon level).

OSC: Part 1


Skirmish Sangin

Squad size – much like Danger Close, I really would not fancy playing larger than a squad (especially the 13 man squad for the USMC) due to the level of detail each man has in their actions.

Spectre Operations

Squad and Platoon both work equally well.

What is the points cost of a British Infantry Section in this ruleset?

2015-06-23 19.28.13

In modern wargaming especially, points systems should be treated more as a guideline in most systems – history is after all unfair. However guidelines are still useful things, especially when building a force

Points are calculated using a squad of 8 men in body armour with both frag and smoke grenades. The weapon loadout is 2x L85A2, 2x L85A2 w/ UGL, 2x L110A2 LMG, 1x L7 GPMG, 1x L129A1 DMR.

Black Ops

71 points – Two aces for the fireteam leaders, a heavy with the GPMG and the rest Jacks. Frag and Smoke upgrades taken

Danger Close

Danger Close doesn’t include a points system. It’s up to the players to balance their scenario. There are guidelines on the Danger Close FAQ.

Force on Force

Ah. Force on Force doesn’t use a points system, instead relying on pre-written scenarios or players to devise their own scenarios. As such, no points cost can be provided.

OSC: Part 1

245 points – 1 Level 5 commander, 7 Level 5 soldiers

Skirmish Sangin

880 points – 1 Veteran with Corporal/Lance Corporal package, 1 Average with Corporal/Lance Corporal package, 6 Average soldiers

Spectre Operations

374 points – Professional Squad Leader, 7 Professional Soldiers. In addition to the gear listed at the top, each man also carries a Personal Medical Kit and radio.

How easy is it to make your own force for scenarios?


Black Ops

IT USES HALF POINTS, RUN FOR THE HILLS! Seriously, the main book includes a wide selection of forces from criminals to intelligence agents (and ninjas). There is also a big list of weapons, squad abilities, faction abilities and specialities from which to build your force. It’s a great and characterful selection from which to make a force suitable for any situation.

Danger Close

No points to guide (although the FAQ provides some guidelines), so its best to take standard squad arrangements. However, it does not take very long to get all the details together due to the simple statlines. It’s more a case of selecting their guts level and then weapons.

Force on Force

There is no points to guide but the forces are not hugely detailed making it easier to work out. All it really requires is a few force stats and then determining which squads have support weapons. The tricky bit is balancing if you are wanting that to be correct.

OSC: Part 1

The system works well – Pick a level, pick body armour level and then pick a gun or two. Values are simple and easy to calculate. The weapon list is massive from the simple bow up to multiple barrel rocket launchers. In addition. the ruleset includes a selection of close combat weapons.

Skirmish Sangin

All figures are either Novices, Averages, Veterans or Elite. Each figure can also take a Speciality package, to theme them into a particular role. Players can also select weapon teams, vehicles, off-map supports and additional bonuses (such as IEDs or ratlines to move around the board). The main time-consuming section of making a force is rolling out the stats from them, generating a body value and then working out the stats from there.

Spectre Operations

This game makes you feel like a kid in a candy store. There is a huge selection, lots of options for both guns and gear, 13 soldier levels from Civilian up to Elite commander. Overall, its easy to make a varied and enjoyable force to use.

What style of game is the ruleset best at?


This is my own personal feeling about when the rulesets play best.

Black Ops

Small scale, sneaky stealth missions inspired by cinema.

Danger Close

Section on Section violence

Force on Force

probably platoon vs platoon fights using sections/squads as the element

OSC: Part 1

Fast paced section vs section fight

Skirmish Sangin

Section vs section fights with an immense level of detail. Multiple players could do a platoon on platoon battle with ease.

Spectre Operations

Section to platoon level fights, often starting with one force utilising stealth.

What do I need to know/need to have for my first game?


Assume for all games that a tape measure, playing surface with terrain and models are required. All the rules work on a 6’x4′ table although some are better on a small one.

Modern battlefields are a lot more cluttered than those of ancient war. I personally recommend lots of scatter terrain to provide plenty of cover and concealment for the forces involved.

Black Ops

  • D6s
  • Pack of playing cards for activation. You’ll need at least two suits (1 red and 1 black).
  • Counters for suppression and noise.
  • Keep control of noise counters in night games! Causing a ruckus is a bad idea.

Danger Close

  • D20s
  • Markers for stress
  • Not much else to be honest – 2 pages makes checking rules very easy. It would work well as a participation game.

Force on Force

  • Dice of every number of sides under the sun for different sizes
  • Hit markers
  • There are lots of rules in the book so I recommend starting out small and working up. The scenarios in the rulebook are very good at illustrating the different rules as they are introduced.

OSC: Part 1

  • D10s and D6s
  • Templates and Counters – both are available from the website for free
  • Event, Action and Resource cards. Physical cards are available from the Evil Bear site. Alternatively, play using the table in the back of the book. The downside is that you can’t look over the top of your cards at your opponent.
  • Objective Markers for the table. You’ll need 5 markers – 1 main and 4 standard markers.

Skirmish Sangin

  • D100s, D10s and D6s
  • Markers – they are handy to keep track of a soldier’s state at any time. Multiple sheets of markers are in the back of the rulebook.
  • Quick Reference sheets – especially the modifiers
  • Character sheets – Vital
  • It’s good to have someway to know which figure is which at a glance. There are lots of ways from markers to making your character sheets cards with a giant picture of the model.
  • Play the two scenarios in the rulebook. Street Fight is a nice small game while Compound 17 is perfect for getting four players round the table. If you’re demoing, Route Clearance from Dispatches 2 is great fun with only a few figures.
  • The key concept I have worked out for Sangin is easy to spot, hard to hit, easy to kill. If you position poorly, not even body armour will save you.

Spectre Operations

  • D6’s and lots of them
  • Markers
  • Spectre is fast paced and bloody – you’ll want to stick to cover and practise all the small unit tactics you know.
  • Beware the Compact, Laser, Red Dot combo. BEWARE!

I like ruleset X. Where can I go to learn more and talk to other wargamers about it?

Basic rule – head to Modern Miniatures Wargaming group on Facebook or the Lead Adventure forum for general modern-day warfighting.

Black Ops

Take a look at the Black Ops facebook page

Danger Close

Danger Close is on the Empress website and has an unofficial facebook group

Force on Force

Ambush Alley has a website and forum.

OSC: Part 1

Evil Bear has a website with forum, a facebook page and a facebook group

Skirmish Sangin

Radio DishDash maintains a website with store, forum and blog.

Spectre Operations

Spectre are literally everywhere. Official website, official page and instagram. Well worth following all of them to keep an eye on the frequent new releases. The community has also set up a facebook group.

None of these rulesets are really working for me. What else is coming up?

I’m not sure how you’ve managed to not find a rule system you like out of that lot but sure. This is what I know is coming up in terms of modern military rules


Radio DishDash’s next set of rules. Designed to be easily scalable, so by using different elements you can play much larger sized games. A post on their blog lays down some basic ideas. Keep an eye on their blog for more details.

The Empress-Queeg Project

Empress and the House of Queeg are working on a companion set of rules to go with Danger Close. Expanding from the squad action up to large-scale combined arms operations/Company Battlegroup. Their blog at has some fantastic looking tables and gameplay.

Fighting Season

Too Fat Lardies make some great rules for other historical periods. Each ruleset is great at making you play in the style of the period. In fact, their motto is play the period, not the rules. Fighting Season, written in partnership with Leigh Neville, will update Chain of Command to the modern-day and seek to model both the battlefield and tie them into a wider campaign of counter insurgency in Afghanistan.

Ambush Alley: Boots on the Ground

The makers of Force on Force are going back to their roots with Ambush Alley: Boots on the Ground, a much more infantry focus game. Low figure count, small table size and quick play according to the announcement post. In addition, it will include a points system!

OSC Book 2

Evil Bear has been hard at work adding new playtest rules to their forum as a preview for whats coming next. The book’s name is War and plans to add Vehicles, fireteams, weapon teams and more specialists to the base game.

Well that’s the comparison done. I hope the page is useful to you and helps you answer that tricky questions – “which rules should I play?”

If anything is missing or incorrect, please drop me a message and I’ll update it.

I’m Back– Of Freedom and Summer

So I’m out of the darkness and back to the light. All my work is handed in, my room is slowly being packed up and my bank account is looking exceptionally sore. It obviously means I’ve survived my first year of uni. I’ll be going back to Leeds on Saturday but before then got a few more things to do – such as crazy BBQ and airsoft meetings.

Games Writing

brink 2011-05-25 01-30-53-78

So now I no longer have uni work to do I’ll be jumping back into this reviewing lark. At the moment, I’ve got the latest map pack fro Black Ops to do, as well as Brink, Fate of the World (which is the best educational game I’ve played in a long time) and also the great Frozen Synapse which is getting its full release this week. Hopefully, I’ll be able to grab a screenshot of my face in the game – a perk of pre-ordering it.

Outside of This Is My Joystick, I’ve also got a ton of my own games to review. Inspired by a bunch of videos online, I’m going to go back and review some of the oldest games in my collection, such as Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, Close Combat: A Bridge Too Far and Jane’s Apache Longbow 2. Expect these at various points through the Summer but I intend to release at least one review every week, probably on a Wednesday.


(Image credits XKCD – click the picture to visit the site)

I’ve got a couple of projects planned out for Summer primarily for coding practise while I’m not in uni.

First up is a Company of Heroes mod I’m working on with friends from university. I’m in on a coding level, working in LUA to write all the attribute files to get the fantastic gameplay design and art assets the rest of the team are hard at work on, actually working in game. Its been a while since I last modded CoH, so I’ve spent most of Tuesday getting the basic project setup and ready for me to start out on the rest later on this week.

The second is an app a friend of mine (Paris Arrowsmith) has come up with an idea for. We’re still working out the details for it but we will be looking to have it out on Android/iOS at some point over the Summer. I will have to make a prototype first (using the grand old C++) and also brush up on how to write apps for the various platforms. This will also involve me finding a Mac to do iOS development on so the Android version will probably be the first one finished based on my project estimation. More info will be forthcoming so keep your eyes peeled for it.

Other Stuff

So apart from all these creative things, I also have a few other things lined up. I’ll be looking for work in order to get my finances straight so that will be a barrel of laughs. Hopefully it will be somewhere vaguely not soul crushing but we will see.

I’m planning to go to Ground Zero, a huge airsoft weekend event over the Bank Holiday weekend in August. So while the rest of you guys are getting stuck in the mud and grime at Leeds or Reading, I’ll be chilling on the South coast, spending the days in huge battles of several thousand airsofters and the night drinking beer, BBQing food and having a good old time.

As part of Airsoft, this is a plea. I love my XM8 by the odd size mags and the non-Britishness of it makes it standout from the rest of my gear. I’m looking to get hold of an L85A2 before Ground Zero in order to be able to swap out mags with the rest of the group (many who have switched to using M4 mag equipped weapons, much to the disgust of our AK loving new chairman Denis) and to also suit the gear I wear including a converted S10 gas mask (cool as all hell but can be pretty uncomfortable mid game). So if you have an ICS L85A2 (or an Ares but that’s me wishing out loud) that you’re willing to trade for my XM8, get in contact with me and we can sort something out.

So that’s life for me, expect some more updates coming more regularly than in the previous months.

Thoughts On… Call of Duty: Black Ops

(This is originally a review from This Is My Joystick)

altEven if you don’t like Call of Duty, you have to admit that last year’s Modern Warfare 2 did rather well at its launch, drawing in a huge number of sales ruined only slightly by the Infinity Ward snafu a couple of months later. However, this year is Treyarch’s year and they are taking us to back to the Cold War. Can it match up to last year’s blockbuster or should this game never have got off the boat?

It’s a conspiracy!
Black Ops is set during the Cold War, which perhaps is one of the best settings not used by the vast majority of the industry. You play (most of the time) as Alex Mason, an American Black Operative who is one of the best his country can offer (as a certain historical personality states). You play your way through several of the Cold War’s hot points, from Cuba to Russia to Vietnam, all on a mission to prevent the forces of Communism from taking over the world through its evil schemes. It ties successfully into the “Cold War Paranoia” idea, from the number stations to lots of redacting of information, all the way through to fiendish plans you’ll eventually have to stop.

It also goes through some amazing set pieces, my particular favourite has to be your brief part in the defence of Khe Sahn in Vietnam, where everything goes from a perfectly normal day at a military base to complete mayhem in only a few minutes. Other points of interest include stopping a Soviet Rocket launch, fighting your way through the aftermath of a chemical weapons attack in a hazmat suit and taking on dual roles of both the CIA team on the ground and an SR71 observer up in the atmosphere guiding them around enemy patrols as you attack a snowy base up in the Ural Mountains.


Grrr… Damn ruskies!

I love nearly all of the set pieces but I have some significant issues with the plot as a whole. Unfortunately I really can’t mention them exactly without spoiling the game. Pretty much I just played through the story to go between the set pieces as opposed to last year’s entry in the Call of Duty series whose plot actually had me interested from start to finish. Despite a link back to World of War, the returning character has nowhere the same “OMG” introduction that Captain Price had in Modern Warfare 2. Play for the set pieces, not for the plot.

Business as usual then?
To be brutally honest, Black Ops plays almost exactly like every other Call of Duty past number four. You run, sprint, aim down the sights, fire, throw a grenade just like you’ve done for the past few years now. There are some changes; there is now a dive function if you sprint and then go prone which I’m not a great fan of; it lifts you up higher before you land which in many cases is the last thing you want to do. It is much better to see a wider variety of weapons in Black Ops than in previous games. In single player, there are so very few weapons which lack any sort of attachment; even if most of the time they are simply just extended or dual magazines. This does make finding new weapons much cooler and is better as you get to try out many attachments before you buy them in multiplayer. In terms of the weapons themselves, most are what you expect from a Call of Duty game but there are one or two prototype weapons (such as the devastating chain lake or the G11 assault rifle) to fit in with the new setting and themes of being part of a top-secret team.


Cue Vietnam era soundtrack

Fire, fire everywhere!
Black Ops is still running on the engine from Modern Warfare 2 and it looks as good, if not, better. Treyarch have tweaked some of the visuals so it looks closer to World at War in terms of style and lighting. They also really like their fire effects and seems to sprinkle the entire game with them, including the flamethrower attachment you can put on your assault rifle and the ‘Nam era obligatory napalm usage. Character animation seems to have improved dramatically since last year’s game, in part due to Treyarch’s system of motion capture, which is the same as that used by Mr Cameron in Avatar. It makes the characters look realistic without straying into the Uncanny Valley. Overall it looks pretty damn good.

The sounds of war, surprisingly loud
Audio is another area I really like. The voice acting in the campaign is superb in most cases from Gary Oldman’s dual roles to Ice Cube’s role as Bowman, one of your key teammates. My personal favourite is Ed Harris, who has a great turn as Hudson, a CIA handler and badass whose actions become even better with Harris’s gravelly voice behind it all. Unfortunately, the main character is a bit chattier than Ramirez or Roach and it’s a shame he is voiced by Sam Worthington (of Avatar fame) who can’t seem to exactly nail the accent and keep it throughout the game, with it varying wildly from its correct Alaskan out to Australian in certain cases. However, the action sounds awesome, especially over a good sound system. There are a couple of licensed tracks, primarily used to evoke the feel of a Vietnam War movie but I was actually surprised at the original soundtrack in the game which I really enjoyed listening to as it perfectly sets the atmosphere for the levels while also coming in at the perfect moments.


I love the smell of napalm in the morning…

Shooting your friends: The blackest of ops
The main draw of any Call of Duty game is the multiplayer. In this respect I think Treyarch have done really well in crafting a great experience using the basics of the standard Call of Duty formula. All the modes we know and love are in along with a few tweaks. The first is to the crack-cocaine substitute known as the levelling up system. Weapons are still unlocked at each level but perks, attachments and much of the non-gameplay customisation are bought via COD Points which are earned by playing games or fulfilling contracts (time limited challenges). This is a double-edged sword; you unlock what you want when you want, but at level 20 you have probably unlocked everything you want or need to. Another use for these COD points is wager matches, where you can gamble a small amount of COD points to gain entry and attempt to win it back if you come in the top three.

These game modes are a load of fun and despite not being a gambling man (or very good) I have enjoyed my time on these modes a lot. They all seem to encourage a different style of play from One in the Chamber (where each player has only one round in their pistol and have to get more via knife kills in order to be the last man standing) to Sharpshooter (where the weapons switch every 45 seconds to any random gun and attachments). All four of the modes are really enjoyable and a blast to play. The game has also introduced bots into a multiplayer mode called “Combat Training”, which allows players to practise both alongside and against bots on all the various maps in both deathmatch and team deathmatch. It’s a shame it doesn’t include the more complex modes but the bots are good enough to present a challenge. Black Ops also seems better for players sat in the same room; its co-op modes (like zombies or online multiplayer) can be played with two players in split-screen while the four player same console play can be done with four players and all items are unlocked from the go making it a perfect testbed and a good laugh.

This is a Black Ops: You are likely to be eaten by a Zombie Grue
Treyarch threw a curveball by including the Nazi Zombie mode in their last game and they have brought back the insanely popular mode in the new game with a few subtle tweaks. If you don’t have the Hardened or Prestige editions (who receive the four maps from World at War on top of the normal maps), you start with only one map with slots remaining for two other zombie infested environments. The mode is a slightly more complex than its predecessor which actually makes it worse; I wasn’t much of a fan of the DLC maps in WaW which added more goals (such as turning on generators or linking teleporters) to achieve than simply killing zombies and surviving. However, one of the modes (DOA) is a great dual stick shooter that is even more fun than the other modes. Also one map you unlock at the end of the game also lets you play as JFK, Nixon, Castro or McNamara in a zombie fight inside the Pentagon which is pretty cool (especially when Nixon starts wheeling out the Futurama references).


History buffs! Cover your eyes! That’s a mini-gun

However, one of the greatest things has to be the terminal system. The main menu is actually more than a simple list and if you can break your way out of your restraints, you can walk round the room. The only thing you can interact with is a terminal which if you use the correct console commands, allows to unlock the other two zombie mode maps, various sets of concept art, soundtrack and easter eggs but also a fully function copy of Zork. I love this kind of easter egg that not only fits into the game (such as with all the historical documents) but also is packed fully of interesting stuff. Bravo to Treyarch for including it.

Another point to make is one of technical difficulties with the PC version. By the sounds of it the problems are being fixed but at time of writing the multiplayer seems rather broken with players unable to invite friends to games quite regularly on top of general lag, technical issues and other badness that is the sign of a bad console-to-pc port. It’s a bad sign when on launch night the PC edition box wasn’t open until the 60th customer in the queue. I think it might be time to just admit that sadly the PC is no longer the target platform for Call of Duty despite it being where it originated.

This is the mission’s end
Black Ops is a metric ton of fun if you’re a Call of Duty fan who enjoys the multiplayer/single player already. It’s not a massive overhaul through so if you don’t like CoD this will not change your mind. I have to say I agree with a view floating around the internet; the next game in Activision’s shooter series has to be a change on the same level as that of Modern Warfare as the current model is rapidly getting old.