Battle Report – A Brush With The Law – Spectre Operations

Before we get into the good stuff, I’m running a survey to get some feedback on the blog. This is to help me work out how I can improve it next year. The form is really short, doesn’t need a login and can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/2FXWLKF. Hurry though, there are only 25 more responses before it closes.

This week’s battle report sees us return to the ongoing campaign in Bazistan. Following the kidnapping of the Geordiestan Ambassador from the Petramco/NZDF force back in September, it’s time to go to the next stage of the operation.

 


The Geordiestan Ambassador has been missing for two weeks. After being kidnapped en route from the airport by an unknown group of militia, intelligence has been working day and night to recover him. Unfortunately, the whims of the Bazistan government has caused this process to be delayed as only Bazi SF can act on any intelligence partner nations provide. A Special Forces team from Geordiestan did arrive in country but was turned round at the airport. Other nations have also been held off, with American, British and Russians all barred from operating legally on Bazi soil.

However, a new piece of information has come to light. Multiple sources point to a group in the badlands bordering Aden which is preparing to move two high value targets out of the country. This compound has attracted the attention of the Bazistan army as well as British Intelligence. Two teams from the SAS (codenamed SABRE and WANDERER) have been deployed to extract the hostages before the Bazistan Army does.


The game takes place in a frontier town in the Badlands of Bazistan, close to the border with the Aden Republic and only a short drive to the Red Sea. Intel had found two target buildings, (the tan coloured ones in the photo above) that were militia strongholds and could be the location of the two hostages. Both buildings would need to be checked. As the game began, the militia were completely unalert – the town is in safe territory and the police hadn’t tipped them off to any possible attackers. The Bazistan Army wouldn’t arrive until later – Bazi SF arriving on turn 2 and the bulk of the force arriving on turn 3.

The forces were simple:

SAS

  • SABRE – 6 Elite operators with usual direct action kit, including a LAW, LMG, UGL and DMR
  • WANDERER – 6 Elite operators in local clothing. Designed for stealth, they also had a SMG, Auto Shotgun and a Airburst grenade launcher

Bazi Army

  • Bazi SF – 6 professionals with modified assault rifles and the usual support items like body armour and medical kits
  • Bazi Motorised – 8 Trained soldiers with Assault Rifles, a MMG and an RPG accompanied by an Elite Special Forces mentor

Militia

  • Three technicals – two with HMG and one with a recoilless rifle
  • Multiple small groups of trained fighters, armed with the usual mix of Assault Rifles, RPGs and MMGs

The SAS came on from the Western board edge, seeking the shortest route to one of the buildings that avoided the patrolling guards. SABRE headed for one of the ruined buildings, aiming to set up a base of fire to assist an assault on Objective Bravo.

WANDERER headed for Objective Alpha, stacking up on the door before breaching into the empty interior. Carefully sneaking around, they headed upstairs. Due to the buildings not including staircases, we added two in opposite corners of the building. Next time I’ll add some markers

Upstairs, they found themselves in the midst of a small collection of insurgents. Taking advantage of their silenced pistols and SMGs, the team took the first shots of the game easily dropping the two fighters inside the main room. After disposing of them and the two RPG gunners on the balcony, only three militiamen knew something was up.

Unfortunately, their intel was faulty – this building was completely clear of hostages. Time to dig in and start covering

Instead, time to focus on Objective Bravo. SABRE moved into an assault position, with the LMG, DMR and UGL gunner digging into the damaged building while the rest of the team prepared to sprint across the road.

Interestingly, they spotted a white SUV moving away from the target building. It seemed to be forming up into a convoy with one of the other technicals.

As turn two began, the first sign of real trouble turned up. Six operatives of the Bazi Special Forces had appeared, moving through the ruins of the African Quarter. They managed to stay relatively quiet, not alerting the militia as they crept into position.

Turn two was pretty uneventful – WANDERER dug in to the building by setting up positions covering the staircases and aiming to cover any assault on Objective Bravo. At the same time, SABRE moved into final positions, with the assault team going into cover behind one of the pickups by the side of the road. By now these actions were starting to concern some of the civilians and it was only a matter of time before the militia was entirely on alert.

Of course, elements of the Bazi 12th Motorised Division have no concept of stealth and rolled onto the board in their BTR80A. This could be a major game changer – the armour would be hard to penetrate while the heavy autocannon would easily cut a swathe through tightly packed squads.

This was the battlefield as the engagement shifted from a stealthy operation into a more kinetic experience. A few other things happened very quickly:

First up, the technical leading the convoy about to escort the SUV away swung round at the sight of the enemy. The M40 recoilless rifle it carried on the back would be one of the main weapons against the enemy AFV.

Two of the local Bazistan police ran forward to see what on earth this military unit was doing here. Once in cohesion range, these two police changed from being ambient civilians to working alongside the military.

As for the militia, they quickly started moving some more assets around. One of the technicals with HMG moved into an ambush position, ready to spring out with the .50cal. Of more immediate danger, a fighter with a RPG-29 moved into position on the balcony and prepared to engage.

Across the road, SABRE waited.

Rolling forward, the BTR was quick to drop the ramp and send deploys its squad of Bazi soldiers. Of note was the fact that they had been joined by an Elite mentor to give them a bit more sticking power in the fight.

Thanks to the massed fire from three separate squads, the Bazistan army quickly started taking a toll on the smaller militia units, pinning them down under massed suppression of simply taking them out.

Meanwhile, SABRE bust into the target building and came face to face with a few surviving militiamen. Ever the professionals, they quick dropped them before pushing forward. From upstairs, they could hear the steady sound of gunfire as the insurgents engaged the oncoming army. The fire managed to down the two policemen and suppress the oncoming soldiers but did distract them from the team of killers slowly climbing the stairs.

At the same time, WANDERER got involved and pulled a cool piece of kit out of the toolbox. Rather than engaging an isolated militia group with carbines, the airburst grenade launcher took aim and sent a single shot flying out across the roof tops.

Safe to say, it was quite effective.

An interesting side diversion was the two police at the end of the map. Rather than meeting up with the Bazi army to begin operations, they instead got stuck in a fight while trying to defend themselves from the militia trying to restrain them.

Back in the fray, the militia were taking a beating with huge numbers of suppression markers. It wasn’t just the Bazi Army – WANDERER were assisting the assault on Objective Bravo by eliminating incoming militia units thanks to sitting on overwatch – the -1 modifier was easily nullified by the optics and high shooting skill.

Meanwhile in the building SABRE rushed up the stairs to be confronted by a stack of insurgents. However, they were ready for this. In went the flashbang.

After a blinding flash and a hail of gunfire, three insurgents lay dead – the other two were to follow in the next turn.

At this stage, the photos dry up but there were a few great events

  • SABRE’s base of fire started engaging the Bazi Army, kill several with a mix of 40mm, LMG fire and DMR shots. However, many more were saved thanks the body armour and personal medkits
  • The BTR and technicals started trading rounds, leading to both parties ending up with no drivers.

However, the big thing was unmasking of the hostage in Objective Bravo revealing the ambassador’s aide. Finally being told that the ambassador was in the quickly escaping white SUV, two members of WANDERER decided to engage. And for the first time this game they actually rolled pretty high on their armour penetration roll leading to this.

The aimed precise shots were a little too effective, with a carbine killing all three passengers in the vehicle with a single burst.

Good job everyone.


Henry Mitchell reports on the situation in Bazistan after the dust has settled

Seeing as the Ambassador is no longer with us, Geordiestan must be furious with everyone involved in this affair from Petramco and the Kiwis to the Bazistan government and the rumoured involvement of British troops. We shall have to see what happens next!

Slightly more concerning is what the rescued aide recounted to the SIS when being debriefed. He overheard his kidnapper mention a safe house they were to be taken to… in the city of St. Davide in Zaiweibo!

The next game will pick up this trail, possibly going for a slightly stealthy mission as intelligence forces seek to discover more information in the land across the Red Sea.


Hope you guys enjoyed the battle report! It was a really good game, where I got to put a lot of toys on the table, hiding the militia in amongst civilians. The most important thing however was that everyone left the table smiling having had one hell of a battle.

Next week we’ll take a closer look at those SAS chaps, along with their more urban focused buddies. There might even be an additional impressions based on another set of figures I’ve recently painted…

Spectre Operations: Building a Force – Task Orientated Teams

Before we get into the good stuff, I’m running a survey to get some feedback on the blog. This is to help me work out how I can improve it next year. The form is really short, doesn’t need a login and can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/2FXWLKF

Despite this being a hobby blog, I do keep an eye on what seems to be doing well for me in terms of stats. My Starting Lists for Spectre Operations have done really well but I now want to expand it and provide something a little more useful than just “here am list”. Simple lists are good to begin with but there comes a time when you want to feel less like an accountant moving numbers of points around and more like a military commander, analysing problems and finding solutions with what meager forces your supplies (and wallet) allow.

To get you on your way, welcome to Building a Force! This series will be in multiple parts and cover some hints and tips when it comes to building your forces. In future installments, we’ll look at vehicles, Off Table Assets and getting your rabble together when playing the OPFOR.

This time however, we’re going to look at building a force for more well trained and organised armies (including Special Forces teams). In particular, we’re going to work on how you can pick your force more easily by selecting for the right tools for the job.

Using TOEs

“But Charge”, I hear you say “Why not just use the written down Tables of Organisation and Equipment?”

Okay, lets talk about TOEs.

TOE’s are a great tool when understanding history and tactics, writing rules or building a collection. Its much easier to balance a preset force or know how many figures you may need when making a platoon. However, from my understanding, when it comes to day by day operations the times when a unit deploys exactly to TOE is not 100%. Soldiers fall ill and aren’t replaced in time, squads are formed into multiples for specific missions and specialists are attached.

For this reason I suggest treating TOEs as a guideline. Start from them but when writing a scenario or preparing a force for a possible operation there is nothing stopping you from tweaking and adjusting the composition. Obviously this needs to be within reason – a squad made entirely of M249 LMGs and LAWs would be powerful but in reality they would have some ammo consumption issues and be a bit clunky to move round.

Basic Advice

Instead I recommend building your team around the objective given to you. Look at the goal, plan out what you think you need and pick from the example teams below. After a few games, I’d even suggest making up your own teams that you find effective. I look forward to seeing what everyone comes up with

Here are a few other bits of advice when picking your force:

  • Take attachments – red dots, lasers and scopes really help to improve your chances in ranged combat while different ammo types and suppressors can quickly change your role on the battlefield.
  • Suppressors and Subsonic ammo can be combined for ultimate efficiency in stealth but even just using the suppressor with regular ammo will give you a considerable benefit.
  • If you’re using Trained soldiers, adding a few additional riflemen to each team will increase your firepower and surviability.
  • Body Armour and Personal Med-kits will save your soldier’s lives. By affecting lethality and potentially reducing the damage from a hit, combining both is recommended.
  • Grenade choices are important – frag and smokes are good generic choices to expand your tactics while the other grenades are better in specific situations such as close quarters or asset destruction.
  • There are several weapons that can be added to the teams to give them additional edges in combat but don’t necessarily require a full additional team.
    • A Light Anti-Tank weapon to a team gives you a multi-role explosive device that lets you cause massive damage on a group of enemies or a vehicle/strongpoint.
    • A UGL can easily be swapped for a Multiple Grenade Launcher or a Airburst Grenade Launcher depending on your needs – the MGL is good for large numbers of enemies while the Airburst is perfect for when you are fighting enemies that are entrenched.
    • The humble RPG is actually a pretty tempting prospect – the multiple warheads (AT, HE and Thermobaric) gives you access to a range of effects for a reasonable points cost.
    • Shotguns are useful upgrades. Combat and Auto Shotguns may steal the headlines with Rapid and Auto fire but don’t underestimate the Under Barrel/Sawn Off Shotgun; It’s a cheap way to up your breaching skill and provide a nasty kick in close quarters when combined with the various ammo options.
    • Tasers can make capturing OPFOR alive much easier, reducing the need to get into close quarters.
  • Extra equipment like tactical ladders and climbing gear is very situational but can be the difference between success and failure. This is especially important when using the small Elite forces.

The Teams

The nine teams I’ve developed are below. Each will explain their task, show off the composition and then be accompanied by several notes explaining the idea behind them and how best to use them.

I’m going to use the term Service Rifle when describing the various teams. This can, depending on your forces nationality and skill level, be a carbine, an assault rifle or a battle rifle. There are only minor differences between them (the carbine has less range but gains bonuses in RI 1, the assault rifle is the default and the battle rifle is less effective at suppression but longer range and better lethality) so we shall be treating them as generic in the lists.

For people interested in points values, we’ll be covering that in the final part when we start building forces.

1. Basic Fireteam

Task: General Purpose – Provide a good mix of firepower at various ranges.

  1. Team Leader: Service Rifle
  2. Grenadier: Service Rifle + UGL
  3. Gunner: LMG
  4. Assistant: Service Rifle

Notes:

  • A common variation is to swap out the Service rifle on number 4 for a DMR or sniper rifle. This reduces your number of shots but does help you when engaging an enemy at long range.
  • This is a core building block – applying minor tweaks (such as those listed in the Basic Advice section) can massively improve the effectiveness of it

2. Assault Team

Task: Advancing and clearing a fixed position

  1. Team Leader: Service Rifle + UGL
  2. Pointman: Service Rifle + Combat Shotgun
  3. Breacher: Service Rifle + Breaching Gear
  4. Gunner: LMG

Notes:

  • The idea with this is a Basic Fireteam but more focused on the “Manoeuvre” part of the Fire and Manoeuvre Idea.
  • Pair these guys with a Base of Fire Team – it’s less flexible than two of the Standard Fireteams but more effective at their chosen job.
  • Close with the enemy to get to within RI1 and gain the most bonuses
  • The Pointman and Breacher are perfect to work together when assaulting a position – one can perform the breach allowing the other to enter and clear using the advantage of the shotgun in the same turn.

3. Base of Fire Team

Task: Providing suppressing fire on a position/covering the advance of another team.

  1. Gunner: MMG
  2. Assistant: Service Rifle
  3. Marksman: DMR
  4. Gunner: LMG

Notes:

  • The idea with this is a Basic Fireteam but more focused on the “Fire” part of the Fire and Manoeuvre Idea.
  • If you hadn’t guessed, pair these guys with an Assault team. See the assault team for more details
  • This team should find a good piece of cover with good line of sight across the place you intend to assault and then sit there
  • The Gunner and their MMG is the main focus of this team. That needs to keep up and running, putting suppression on enemy forces moving against your assault team.
  • The Assistant should be helping out the MMG gunner unless the enemy start to get too close to the Base of Fire team.
  • While the Gunners spread the suppression around, the Marksman lets you focus in on specific characters such as enemy weapon teams.
  • The LMG gunner’s main job is extra suppression but is also useful for close protection on your Base of Fireteam. Alternatively, this trooper’s gear could be enhanced with an explosive weapon if you want to add that capability to your force.

4. Scout Team

Task: Find and engage the enemy

  1. Lead Scout: Service Rifle
  2. Scout: Service Rifle and Combat Shotgun

Notes:

  • The inspiration for the scouting pair comes from the American WW2 squad.
  • Number 1 could alternatively equipped with a SMG alongside his service rifle for additional close quarters firepower.
  • This team would do especially well if equipped with suppressors and subsonic ammo. The idea with this squad is to close with the enemy and so benefits from avoiding detection.
  • Additionally, equipping this team with Ghille Suits would let them sniper stalk and reduce their chance of being detected even more

5. Command Team

Task: Command and provide support to the other teams

  1. Squad Leader/Commander: Service Rifle
  2. Medic: Service Rifle and Trauma Kit (Optional)

Notes:

  • Depending on your nationality and service branch, you might want to upgrade a team leader in one of your fireteams to be a squad leader rather than having a separate team.
  • In addition to two characters listed here, you could add another squad leader to act as a Forward Air Controller for an OTAs you may have access to.

6. CQB Team

Task: Clearing hostile area at extremely close range.

  1. Pointman: SMG
  2. Rifleman: Carbine
  3. Breacher: Carbine + Combat Shotgun + breaching gear
  4. Gunner: Compact LMG

Notes:

  • You’ll notice I explicitly mention carbines rather than Service Rifles. This is due to the Compact rule, something which gives you a real edge when inside range interval 1
  • To extend the above point, combining Compact weapons with Red Dots and Lasers gives you a +3 bonus in total which engaging targets inside RI1. This is perfect when combined with Rapid Fire or Automatic weapons as it removes the modifier for multiple shots
  • The Pointman and Breacher are designed to give you the edge in close quarters – in particular,
  • The Rifleman and Gunner will provide some longer range firepower which
  • For an additional edge, the Rifleman could be equipped with a Multi-Role dog. This is good for both detection and restraining enemy combatants. Also take a look at the various upgrade packages for your four legged friends

7. Anti-Tank team

Task: Destruction of enemy armoured assets

  1. Gunner: Service Rifle and AT weapon
  2. Assistant: Service rifle

Notes:

  • The AT weapon is generic – depending on your force and models it could be an RPG (with a variety of warheads), Light Anti-Tank weapon, Light Recoilless Rifle or a Guided Missile Launcher.
  • The Assistant, like in some of the other teams is going to either be providing security for the team or (if the weapon is crew served) providing the backup to the anti-tank weapon. They are also required by the Guided Missile Launcher in order to carry it.
  • The team has a lot of firepower but will need some

8. Sniper Team

Task: Long range precision elimination

  1. Sniper: Sniper Rifle (Light, Medium, Anti-Material)
  2. Spotter: DMR or Service Rifle

Notes:

  • Classic sniper team setup – one of the pair is the gun while the other is the eyes.
  • A worthwhile upgrade for this pair is some Ghillie suits, letting your avoid detection and sniper stalk. It also gives you cover bonuses.
  • If acting stealthily, suppressors are recommended for both. In addition, the spotter may want to consider subsonic ammo but the limitation to 2 range intervals of effectiveness may blunt the Sniper’s primary weapon. Alternatively, take a secondary such as a SMG.
  • Unless massed firepower is needed, the spotter should be crew serving in order to give your sniper the best chance of kill their target.

9. Heavy Weapon Team

Sadly I’m missing a photo for my heavy weapons – all of them belonging to the conventional forces are still in the painting queue

Task: Fire Support from a heavy platform

  1. Commander: Service Rifle
  2. Gunner: Service Rifle and Heavy Weapon
  3. Loader: Service Rifle

Notes:

  • One of simplest teams – long ranged firepower is your only mission
  • The heavy weapon could be any from the list but the most common will be either the Heavy Machine Gun, the Automatic Grenade Launcher or the Guided Missile Launcher.
  • Two men are needed to move a heavy weapon so including a third (or alternatively adding a few more) gives you a larger security element.
  • In an ideal world, a heavy weapon team should begin the game in a piece of cover with excellent sight lines. If that isn’t an option, your first priority should be to get this team into a position where it can cover the advance of the rest of your force. Until it’s setup, this team is not doing it’s job

With that we end Part 1 of Building a Force. The next few weeks are already planned out so there will not be any additional parts until the new year. However, once we are back I’ll be hammering through the other sections:

  1. Task Orientated Teams – Building the Core of a National Force
  2. From Quad Bikes to Tanks – Vehicles for a National Force
  3. “TBA” – Building The Core of an Irregular Forces
  4. “TBA” – Vehicles for Irregular Forces
  5. “TBA” – OTAs
  6. Problem to Solution – Assembling your force ready for the mission

Spectre Miniatures Rare Models

Despite Spectre only being around for a few years there are a few models that have achieved collectors status. Be this due to accidents or careful planning, these models are hard to find. That said, if you want to watch eBay or work out what your opponent across the table is using, this article should help you out.

All the photos for this article have been sourced from the Spectre Miniatures website and Facebook pages.

Salute exclusives

The first set we’re going to talk about are those models which were planned to be limited releases. Every April at Salute, Spectre release one or two sets exclusively at the show and in limited numbers in the online store on the same day.

2014 was the year of the Kickstarter. Before its start in May, Spectre attended Salute with demo board, early figures and a freebie. The operator below was for many people the first Spectre figure they owned. Armed with a PDR and carrying tactical kit over civilian clothing, he can be seen as the predecessor to the Agents range. He would also reappear in the kickstarter that year.

2015 (The first year I went to Salute) saw the first event after the launch of the wand the stall had all sort of figures on display (including some still unreleased). This exclusive was the first female figure released by Spectre, ready to work alongside the previous year’s freebie or other intel agents. There are some great details on her, such as the sunglasses tucked into the shirt or the Molle go-bag slung. I decided to tweak mine by adding a shemagh around the neck and I really need to get her painted up.

2016 was a bumper year for Salute releases. Alongside the release of the core packs for the Tier 1 and Agents ranges, Spectre also delivered two exclusive figures.

This juggernaut is perfect for a scenario play, stomping round the board in heavy armour and wielding two long arms. The PKM and shotgun are dangerous combination, especially when backed up by the rest of a Spetsnaz team. coming in the door behind him. Seemingly a habit with my exclusives, I added a visor to juggernaut.

The second figure was designed to work alongside the Agents released on the same day, giving you some sniper cover for your team. She has a really cool pose and again the details are astounding – I’m a fan of the stowed Vector on the side of the pack.

2017 saw me almost knock over the stand in my rush to buy new figures and a few early releases. The first Razors were sold, a few pieces from the terrain range were released (such as the ammo boxes) and this exclusive figure came out.

Rather than being a tweaked figure for an existing range that could sub in, this set is something special. Its much more of a scenario centrepiece, showing an injured operator being carried by his buddy while under fire. There have been some really nicely painted version of this on the Spectre Operations group if you have one and are looking for inspiration.

 

Kickstarter

The main bulk of Spectre’s rare models all come from one place – the original Kickstarter. Starting May 2014, the project was the first many people (including myself) heard about Spectre and it helped to get them off the ground. During the process a total of 28 sets were made available to backers.

As it stands today, many of these figures are no longer available. This was due in part to the original moulds being lost. On the other hand, the core of the African Militia range comes from this release – it’s missing a few of the stranger models (yep, that’s a man wearing a dress as one of the bulletproof militia) but support weapons and crazed gunmen are all there. I originally went in just for the SOF figures and I really regret not picking up the Africans when I had a chance.

There are a few standouts among the list:

The original Delta/US SoF figures were the set that grabbed me and said “The is a range for you”. I think the newer Task Force Operators are a massive step up in quality (and don’t have separate arms that bend or need gluing) but these guys have a certain character to them. Also all the details we know expect from Spectre are there – from the kneepads to the attachments on the SCAR, they look just right. I still really like using them alongside their newer brothers in arms.

Delta in the Kickstarter also included this guy. Ready for breaching duty, he has a MP7 slung at his side with an AA12 out as his primary. He also has a collection of breaching gear on his back. You can see this guy’s concept being updated in the Task Force Operators AA-12 – Alfa figure.

The other pack that grabbed people was the SAS Recce Patrol. Laden down with packs and armed with L119s and various bits of kit, these guys are the forerunners of the SAS Jungle Ops range. There was also the SAS Close Observation Team, which is where the Task Force Operator snipers in ghillie suits came from. Unfortunately, their two buddies with L119s and a UGL got lost in the jungle somewhere.

Something I think is missing from the current range is some private military contractors in the less cutting edge kit, i.e. baseball caps and civilian gear with M4s or AKs. The kickstarter included three packs. The main things with them is that they are wearing non-standard kit but still look like a unit thanks to careful picked similar details.

PMC Alpha is the most modern of the three team. Armed with Vector SMGs and wearing plate carriers over t-shirts, these guys look like a well-funded team ready for a close quarters street fight.

PMC Bravo is a little more heavily armed. Equipped with AKs and various attachments/secondary weapons, these guys would work well as Russian advisors or mercs somewhere from the eastern bloc. You can see little bits of their design being used in the Deniable Ops range. I also need to point out the second figure – another with separate arms, something that drove me mad while assembling them.

PMC Delta is the classic Western Contractor look with M4s, plate carriers and, of course, shades. This pack also includes the AA12; combined with the UGL, it gives the team a nice mix of firepower for such a small team.

Speaking of mercs we come to the biggest kit that was part of the kickstarter – the PMC Technical. This was Spectre’s first vehicle and as you can see, it looks pretty cool. Like with the Deltas, you can see how this was the starting point for the current range of technicals. I’d love to see some parts come out for the current vehicles, letting us add the PKM mount for something a little lower profile than the .50cals.

Something else cool from the Kickstarter was the Weapons Caches. These were small bits to add to the scenery or work as objective markers. I’d love to see an updated version of these.

Early Releases

After the Kickstarter was finished, Spectre setup their webstore and started adding new items in addition to some of the kickstarter sets. Many of these are still available, such as the Task Force Operator Marksmen and Grenadiers. Others however have since left the store.

We’ve seen multiple dog handlers in both the Kickstarter and more recently with the UKSF releases. This guy was designed to fit with the original US SoF, giving them a dedicated dog handler rather than having him tag along with one of the normal riflemen. There is a load of extra detail on him, from his compact 416 to the setup on his rig.

Another set of additions to the US SoF range was this pair of Machine Gunners. The variation in poses and gear are great as usual for Spectre. I still use them and they look great alongside the newer figures.

The final part of the original SAS teams (alongside the Recon guys and the team in ghillie suits) are these operators in civilian clothing. It was quite cool to have the three teams, each with similar guns and heads to represent the same team in different roles.

To backup the SAS guys is this pair of support. Carrying their bergens like the rest of the Recce guys, the marksman and MG bring the team up to six and give you more tactical options.

Something else that happened in the early days of the store was an experiment. Spectre looked into producing high quality resin models and two sets were chosen – the UKSF assault team and a pack of militia that became . Although the results were spectacular in terms of detail, there were some mixed feelings about resin over metal; I personally wasn’t a massive fan having broken barrels much more easily. In the end, metal won out

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip through Spectre’s back catalog. Hopefully when you spot some suspicious characters on an eBay auction, you’ll know a little more about them. It’s also great to look back and see how far Spectre has come – the early models are pretty good but each release includes more detail backed by more research to help bring us the most up to date figures around.

Continue reading “Spectre Miniatures Rare Models”

Operation Dragon’s Hoard: Fiasco, Leeds

If you haven’t checked out the previous posts in the series on Operation Dragon’s Hoard, check out the page I’ve set up for it at http://hntdaab.co.uk/blog/demo-game-operation-dragons-hoard/

Operation Dragon’s Hoard had its first public showing last weekend. This was a pretty major turning point for this project – as well as having the game running, it also needed to actually attract people to it from the horde walking past.

Pre-Game Tweaks

Reminder of what the board looked like at Falkirk

Remember the massive list of things at the end of the last post? Unfortunately due to a couple of reasons (mainly the potent cocktail of other releases, work and finishing a book off), I didn’t manage to get any of the physical tweaks to the board done. I really don’t want get into adding more damage without having the correct tools and material for the job so I pushed back those changes to the long gap between Fiasco and Vapa.

One thing I did decide to do was adjust some positions of bits of terrain in order to change-up the dynamics. BLUFOR now approached the board from a full edge rather than just a corner piece. They also approached the plane side on rather than head on, meaning that the detached wing became less of a trench line. The other two points were shifting the buildings around, and moving the technicals from parked locations to more dispersed. As well as improving the look of the board, it helped to make things a little bit more natural looking.

The final decision was to adjust the number of characters on both sides. BLUFOR was reduced to two fireteams (8 in total) while OPFOR was maintained at 16. The aim with this was to keep a relatively quick pace of play (allowing for a quick turn around) while also providing a challenge. BLUFOR should still have a slight advantage but there should still be a little more balance that what was seen in the original run.

Details Of The Day

Part of the reason for choosing Fiasco as the first run was it’s on my home turf. Needing only to drive 30 minutes into Leeds to get to the Armouries meant I had a pretty relaxing morning. As I wasn’t a trader I could only use the back entrance for drop off. Luckily, there is a cheap nearby car park to leave the car in. In addition, being in Yorkshire meant I could grab my usual York based gaming buddy Peeb to help out.

Setup was relatively painless – the tables were already placed out in the hall and just need a quick swap round to create a more level surface. A quick look around the hall also made me realise I need to a bring a tablecloth next time to cover up the table underneath.

As it was pretty quiet at the start of the day (everyone more focused on seeing what was available rather than wanting to sit down to a game), I decided to jump into a quick game against my buddy in order to give the table some activity. To make it easier to stop and reset once someone became interested, we went for a tiny team of operators (just four) against the rebels. This first game was pretty relaxed so it ended up being a testbed/photo gathering chance. I also got to see Mr REDVector himself, and show off his buildings being put to good use.

Peeb decided to go loud in a rather spectacular way by shredding a patrol with a 40mm grenade and causing enough suppression to worry the elite reaction team hiding in the building.

The game also saw one of the OPFOR team manage to sneak behind the BLUFOR operators. Rushing up the wing and standing on the engine, he was interrupted by the operator snap firing. This shot managed to hit the OPFOR, dropping him. Nice try, but no one out sneaks Wyse.

At the end of the game, which ended with the BLUFOR operators with two figures down and the other two suppressed, we decided to do a few tweaks. Bringing the rest of the BLUFOR team on the field, we also moved the OPFOR DMR nest to tweak its field of fire. Rather than seeing across the entire board, the rear DMR now just had a good shot into the gap between the two plane sections.

As you might be able to guess from the lack of photos of Game 2, it was full on. Both myself and Peeb took control of the OPFOR forces to go up against three players (split up with 4 – 2 – 2 in terms of figures). Overall it was a bloodbath, with BLUFOR using its explosive advantages and reasonable skills while snapfiring to reduce the OPFOR team down to only three survivors before calling it.

After another gap (during which I ran round the floor grabbing some purchases while Peeb watched the table) and then we had time for one final game. Three kids took command of six operators and in perhaps a shocking display of the impetuous of youth, managed to achieve the most objectives of any games during the day. Highlights include an early maneuver that saw two operators pile on to a single militiaman and (I quote) “shank him”.

After the game was done it was time to pack up. Everyone we talked to seemed to like the board (especially the centerpiece) and many of those who got to play came away with saying how much they had enjoyed it. I also really liked how many people said how they had seen Skirmish Sangin before but were tempted to get back into it after seeing it being played.

Thoughts on Fiasco

As for Fiasco 2017 what did I think about it? It’s very definitely on the smaller side of shows, with a focus more on local clubs and retailers. As such, it got really quiet by the start of the afternoon and I think many people were there to simply get in, buy and then get out. The other thing is the hall is a little dark. Black curtains and roof worked okay but it did lead to lots of slightly overshadowed photos.

The location is great, relatively central to Leeds and only a short walk to the station. Car parking is expensive if you want to park right next door to the event but a short walk away is £3 all day – one of the joys of being on a Sunday.

Overall as an exhibitor doing something for the first time and with free accommodation in the city, it worked out great. I’m also tempted to come back next year with a new demo game but we will have to see.

Plans For Next Time

The next event is going to be Vapnartak in February at York Racecourse. This is the first Big show of the year I’ll be going to and as such I want to improve the board even more. So there are a few points to look at.

Fix the broken edges on the boards 

I really like the boards and they seem to have held up pretty well to models and dice bouncing off it. However, the edges have been suffering and so I need to do some emergency repairs. Luckily it should be relatively easy to repair. The bigger issue is how best to prevent this damage from happening too often.

Detail the plane

Yeah okay, I know I mentioned this one last time. Same plan however I should be getting the necessary tools (dremel and airbrush) and material (wire and aluminium foil) at Christmas

Improve the central objective

Still trying to decide between gold transport and mysterious box – either way this should be more interesting than the objective to “look through car”.

Tweak the balance

So we’re still not 100% on the balance. I think that 6 BLUFOR seemed to be the best number to balance speed and the giving the players enough toys to play with. On the OPFOR side, I want to tweak the composition. Primarily, I want to adjust the elite reinforcements so they don’t just roll out of building.

To make the game a little more exciting, I’m tempted to get some cards made for vehicles and have the OPFOR backup arrive in a pickup and backed up by a .50cal truck. This would force BLUFOR to get into a good location rather than letting them sit back and plink. It also helps with the action movie esque flow.

Build more explosion markers

I’ve learnt the ways from a friend at SESWC, but I think I need more. Especially if the Operators get more explosive weapons.

Make more cards

It’s safe to say the cards are a hit, with lots of comments and questions about them. With some upcoming releases and the possibility of swapping some figures out, more cards are needed!

Conclusion

So overall I’m calling Fiasco 2017 a success, which is a strange thing to say based on that name. The game worked, people enjoyed it and I didn’t destroy the terrain in transit. I should be doing an update post just before Vapa in the new year so keep your eyes open for that!

Operation Dragon’s Hoard: 100 Years of War, Falkirk

All the posts so far have been leading up to this: the first play through of the game. The original plan had been to go in at the deep end and running the first attempt at a proper show. After that fell through, running the trial at a smaller event made a little more sense. 100 Years of War is an anual event run by the Falkirk Wargames Club

After spending the Saturday typing up a play sheet, Sunday saw me waking up at 8:30 to drive over to Falkirk (about 45 minutes from my flat). The weather was a bit grim but it wouldn’t really matter much. The venue is a community hall, very easy to get to by car and with plenty of parking nearby. Its also really bright, great to see in a wargames club venue. In addition to my game, there were quite a few other being setup, including a huge Indo-Pakistani air war game next to mine and a ridiculously large Boxer rebellion game further up, complete with the walls of Peking. Overall, it was a great event – a very relaxed time that I am looking forward to next year.


So, lets take a look at the first game. The picture below shows the layout (although the gunner on the technical was removed before play began). Three players each took a fireteam (created by choosing four operators from the decks I’d made) while I took the OPFOR. My force was randomly generated, based on a dice roll for number of characters and then draw from the pack. Although this was fun to do, I think it may have made the game too easy.

There were four objectives for BLUFOR to achieve

  1. Destroy the flight deck with thermite
  2. Secure the black box
  3. Search the white SUV for important documents
  4. Destroy OPFOR technicals 

As the game begun, the players headed off for their objective. Fireteam A headed for the broken wing section in order to dominate the flank and then advance onto the white SUV. Fireteam B started close to the nose section and so they set off to place the charge. Finally, Fireteam C moved to grab the black box, as well as setting up to hit the various vehicles. All groups started infiltrating (using the stealth rules from the new book).

As they crept closer, one of the militia marksmen managed to spot an operator from Fireteam A. With no suppressed weapons, this basically meant they would have a limited time before they were rumbled.

With a ridiculously high shooting skill, Fireteam A’s marksman was easily able to shoot down his target and incapacitating him. Fighters nearby were unnerved by the sound of this first attack and started locking them in place with morale tests. Fireteam B used this distraction to get into the cockpit and placed the thermite device.

On the other side, Fireteam C got to work. The first shot sent a UGL round flying across the board and into a technical. The resulting explosion set off the fuel being stored there, destroying the asset and taking down two insurgents in the blast. The anti-material gunner 

Fireteam B and C also opened up, engaging the group near the white SUV. The first shot took down the middle of the group with the morale effect pinning the rest of the squad in place.

Fireteam C saw the fight starting and decided to use this distraction to sneak up on the black box. The fireteam leader sprinted to the box before kneeling next it.

Unfortunately, this move exposed him to the waiting sniper. Swinging the anti-material rifle around, a quick shot hit and inflicted massive damage, immediately killing him.

As the next phase started there was a sudden blast as the thermite detonated, immolating the sensitive equipment and achieving one of the objectives.

After being pinned down in the open, one of the militia sprinted to seek cover in the back of the plane. However, this move exposed him to gun fire and he was taken out by the dead eye marksman from Fireteam A. Also note the two operators in cover behind the wing, easily able to pin down anyone trying to move up on them.

Covered by their team mates, more operators started to move up on the white SUV, seeking to quickly snatch the intel. 

Having reloaded his grenade launcher, Fireteam C’s grenadier sighted the red technical and sent a round flying towards it. Another hit, another asset destroyed.

I must have forgotten to grab a picture but I should mention what happened to the machine gunner on the roof. Fireteam B’s SMG character, still standing close to the nose section, managed to thread a difficult shot through the plane and land an incapacitating hit on him.

Moving round both sides of the plane, the operator catch the last few enemies in a cross fire allowing easy access to the SUV. Both Fireteam A and B took full advantage of the cover provided by the wreckage, including crawling under the wing.

One final bit of excitement – as one operator was search the vehicle a militia man spotted him with the intel and opened up. He didn’t cause any damage and in the next turn, his target rallied and took him down.

As the game ended, nearly all of the OPFOR lay dead or incapacitated. BLUFOR took one casualty and managed to achieve all their objectives. Scratch one for the good guys. All three players had a good time which was great to hear.


After a short break for lunch (including a trip to Subways located 2 minutes from the hall), game two began with three new players picking three new fireteams. I also changed up the enemy team and the objectives, the black box now on the other side of the board. I also set up my OPFOR a little differently

Rather than jumping straight into the shooting, BLUFOR this time managed to actually be a little more sneaky.

While Fireteam A setup at the nose, Fireteam B and C can be seen above moving up on the central part of the plane.

Of course you can’t stealth forever. Fireteam A held off detonating the charge as long as possible letting element of Fireteam B sneak into position next to the engine. The insurgents didn’t spot him but did notice the marksman rushing forward.

As we learnt in the first game though, spotting marksmen never ends well. Before the alarm could be set off, the LMG gunner from the sentry team was taken down by a well-aimed shot, momentarily pausing the sentries as they have to handle the sudden appearance of BLUFOR.

Hearing the sound of gunfire one of the militiamen ran to the back of the SUV and opened up on a prone operator. His shots hit home but the body armour absorbed it all.

Before the shooter could get away, a BLUFOR SMG operator managed to get behind him, drop him with a quick burst and then begin grabbing the intel from the SUV.

Back on the wing, Fireteam A and B moved up. Fighters from Fireteam A, who had blown the cockpit, now moved to join the fight, including one who rushed up to the wing. An insurgent way back on the edge of the board (just out of shot) started shooting but was swiftly silenced by the combined efforts of an entire fireteam.

Meanwhile on the other side of the board, Fireteam C was causing havoc. Having taken out a technical and the marksman, the subsequent morale tests (and their many failures) had pushed lots of troops around and into less advantageous positions.

Seizing the opportunity, two operators moved up and started what was the strangest fight. As the shotgun wielding breacher turned the corner, the closest enemy managed to avoid all the shots fired at him, pass a morale test, drop prone and get into cover. Before the breacher could even act, the insurgent leader came screaming in from out of nowhere and engaged him in close combat. Luckily the leader manged to fluff two turns of close combat before the breacher threw him to the floor. The machine gunner eventually engaged the man under the car, forcing him to surrender.

Start of the final phase and the only effective fighter left on the board was the lone RPG gunner still frantically trying to reload his RPG. As the Operators closed in, two players almost caused a friendly fire incident. As a LMG gunner crept into position behind the tail, his AT gunner compatriot tossed a frag at the last insurgent alive. It didn’t land exact but luckily scattered enough that the plane’s tail absorbed all the shrapnel while still vaporizing the hapless goon. With the operator’s ears ringing we called the game.

Again, BLUFOR wiped OPFOR from the table (even managing to capture two of them) and got all the objectives. BLUFOR did end up losing one character to a PKM burst (this was the team leader in Fireteam A). Once again, everyone left the table having really enjoyed it.


So after getting back and having some time to think back over the events, there are a few things that I think worked and a few that need improving.

What worked well:

  • The baseboards: I am really happy with how the baseboards look and work. They look great, didn’t chip too badly despite having dice and terrain on them all day and I was easily able to carry them around by hand from car to table.
  • Terrain: The whole “crashed plane on board” idea worked. Despite not using a huge amount of terrain, it managed to successfully break the lines of sight and present something interesting to play around. It was also successful at grabbing people’s attention, with lots of people walking past stopping to take a look at it.
  • Cards: Everyone who played (and many people who walked past) commented on the cards. Having the stats plus picture in a handy format really made it much easier for player to get to, rather than having to check bases or look at descriptions.
  • Basic play sheets: The basic playsheet/quick reference I wrote up reduce the QRF down to four pages. People seemed to find them very handy and by the end of both games players were working out the modifiers.
  • Everyone enjoyed it: The most important part of running the game. Talking to everyone after the game, all of them said how much they had enjoyed playing and liked the system.

What Didn’t work well:

  • It was too easy: Both games saw the BLUFOR operators walk away having ripped OPFOR a new one and with minimal casualties. This is way to easy – the ideal is that the players should be able to do all the objectives but it would be a close thing.
  • The demo board gaps: The tables I was using had metal rims on the edges of them. This lead to there being a slightly higher point in the centre, leading to some gaps appearing. I think I should bring something to help level it out but I’m unsure what. Something to think about.
  • Transporting the boards: Moving the boards in my car was a bit of an experience – while driving back a sudden brake caused them to come sliding forward. Ideally, I need something that will both protect them and stop them shifting around.
  • Standing up all day: I really need to get used to being on my feet all day. By the end of it my legs were aching. Basically I need to stretch more.

So before the next showing, what am I going to do?

  • Detail the plane: As mentioned previously, I need to make the plane look more like it crashed and less like someone took a hacksaw to it. The plane is to add some structural elements to the joins, paint on some different textures (smoke and oil). Additionally, the board needs more clutter from bits of wreck that were ripped off, like panels of the fuselage or bits of cargo.
  • Better objective: Speaking of cargo, the middle objective needs to be improved. The white SUV was a good placeholder but it needs to be something more exciting for the main release. I’m still deciding what it should be but whatever it is it needs to be very important.
  • Rework the balance: The game is too easy. My solution is two-fold – increase the number of OPFOR and make the objectives take longer to succeed at. I think my time/AP estimates were off when it comes to placing a demolition device or checking for documents
  • Tweak the layout: The core idea is there but I think the buildings should be adjusted to make them more than just show off where the enemy are staying. I also want to add some elements to make it look like the insurgents are working on a recovery operation. Finally, the technicals need to be a little more spread out
  • (maybe) Paint up more operators: I really like the start of the game where people would pick their operators from the deck presented to them. If I go ahead with my plan to add some permadeath to the event (operators lost in the morning will not be available later in the day), I need more specialists (MG, UGLs and DMRs primarily) to prevent later teams from being screwed.
  • Tweak the timing: I’m tempted to drop the teams down to only two fireteams vs equivalent insurgents to speed up play and allow for more playthroughs of the scenario. It would be nice if this was a quick game that players could jump into. However, I’m not decided on this just yet.
  • Other things: I have some other ideas to help get the players in the mood for the game. However, these are secondary to getting the main game fixed so I’m not stressing too much about them yet.

That’s all the update for now. The next update will be after Fiasco but keep your eyes on the Wargaming Week posts for WIP photos as I work on my tweaks.

Operation Dragon’s Hoard: Part 4 – Final Approach

So there has been quite a gap since my last update (back in May) and since then a lot has changed. The game went from pie in the sky idea to actual game that is about to run in the next few days. I am both excited and terrified.

THE PLAN

So in the last plan I fired off a big long list of what is going on with the demo game. However, a few things changed

  • I didn’t make it to Claymore in August – ran out of time to get ready for it. On the other hand, not worrying about it did mean I really enjoyed the Spectre Weekend
  • I’m not 100% sure on Salute in 2018 – there is a lot of logistics to sort out around it (being up in Edinburgh obviously makes travel a huge issue)

However, the cool thing is I can now update that the game is confirmed for two shows! I can confirm I’ll be at the following shows running games

  • October 2017 – Fiasco, Royal Armouries in Leeds, 29th of October
  • March 2018 – Hammerhead, Newark Showground, 3rd of March

I should also be at York in February but we are still working on confirming it.

Of course, there is another event I’m going to this week…

 

THE SCENARIO

Scenario is ready. I decided that I wanted to a co-op mission – focus more on the players working together with their small fire-teams while I run the bad guys. The character sheets are all on cards makes this even easier so I can hand over a selection of troops and let the players parcel them out as required. I mentioned on Monday about the cards and I’m really happy with how they have turned out.

As for the objectives, I’ve decided on four that should force the players to push deep into the map rather than just sitting back and having a long range fire fight. These objectives are:

  1. Recover the flight recorder.
  2. Destroy the flight deck in the nose compartment (every operator has thermite grenades for this task).
  3. Check main compartment for sensitive information.
  4. Destroy OPFOR assets.

 

For the flight recorder, I looked up some example online, realised that the core of one looks like a fire extinguisher piece for the C130 and decided that that would be the objective. Quick, easy and simple to paint.

I’ll probably tweak them once I’ve done the first run but the multiple locations should lead to each

In addition, I’m also starting the game using the stealth rules I wrote as part of Plausible Deniability, letting the operators sneak onto the board without being pinned down out in the open areas. It also helps me to show off the new features of the book.

To finish, this is the description I’ve been sending to people and should be appearing in the various programs for each show:

Operation Dragon’s Hoard

A Special Forces team has been dispatched to investigate activity around a crashed transport plane somewhere in the Arabian Peninsula. A co-operative game using Radio Dishdash’s Skirmish Sangin.

 

THE BASE

The base boards are all done! These are obviously the foundation of the demo game so getting them finished was pretty important.

Last time you saw them they looked like this. The wooden portions had been assembled, the foam was added and then the polyfilla was placed on top. We eventually switched to using plaster as it was easier to buy in bulk. On top of that, I painted on a layer of thinned down PVA and sprinkled on sand to create some variations in texture. Then painting happened with spray can after spray can. First up was some textured paint (requiring 4 cans for 5 boards) then a spray of Zandri Dust for the base colour.

The final stage was a scruffy drybrush of Iraqi sand to break up the brown colour. I’m pretty happy with the final result but the real test will be how well they stand up to the process of driving to and from Falkirk as well as a whole days play on them.

THE CENTRE PIECE

As mentioned last time, the centre piece of the board is a downed C130. Having bought the kit. I then had to build it (as seen here covering my desk). The build was fun, although I was a little slapdash (hence some of the seams you can spot in the photos).

And then this happened after using a razor saw on it

After cutting it up, each part was then placed onto plasticard bases. Left over foam from filling the interiors of the baseboard was then added to fill gaps or add some decoration, topped off with a skim of polyfilla. Then the same process used on the boards was used – sand, textured spray paint, Zandri Dust spray on the top.

The next stage is to some addition damage and details. I’m actually planning to hold off on this for my first game – my hobby fund ran a little short for this month. However, they will be ready for the game in October. I intend to add some plasticard struts and wires dangling, as well as cutting some more of the panels away from the airframe.

This shows the wing and drop tank basically finished with the final drybrush layer. I think they do a pretty good job of showing off “aircraft that has been downed and left in a sandstorm for a while”.

I just about managed to get the entire plane finished before finishing this post. The final touches is just more sprays of dust and a big brush for drybrushing. The final effect looks dusty which is exactly what I was aiming for.

To add – I’m not finished with decorating this plane. I still intend to add some more damage to it but I just ran out of time and bits to be able to do it and guarantee to have something ready for Sunday.

THE SCENERY

My plan last time to go minimal on additional terrain was actually implemented. For the first run, I’ve decided to go with two adobe buildings from REDvector, five rough ground patches made from foam to provide half and full height cover and a collection of technicals (already painted) to be objective targets/cover.

The rough ground is made a similar way to all other terrain on the board – plasticard base, foam offcuts on the top, layer of polyfilla and then desert paint. The end result almost blends into the surface which I’m not 100% on. This is one element I might revisit.

It’s not a great photo but this also shows the buildings finished. Textured paint, spray paint, wet drybrush across most of it and then some brown paint on the beams. The brown helps to break up the scheme, prevent it from turning into just a sea of dust.

The terrain is one place I might tweak, either adding another building or more areas to break up line of sight. However, all this depends on the first run.

THE GAME

So with all these things at the correct stage, the biggest piece of news is what’s happening on Sunday. I am taking this game out for its first two runs on the 24th at 100 Years of War. This is an event that Falkirk Wargames club is running, bringing players along to take part in a whole series of games themed around 20th Century warfare. For me, it’s the perfect place to run a trial run – everyone going has some wargaming experience and it’s not a huge event.


Its really exciting to see how I’ve managed to actually get the game ready to go. Everything on it has been painted by me and its quite satisfying to see it laid out – this is my first terrain project and I’m amazed I even got it finished. The next step is to make sure the game side of it goes well Expect a full report next week as to how the battles went and to see the whole thing laid out on the table.

 

Impressions: REDvectors’s MDF Buildings

You may have noticed some MDF buildings lurking in the background of many of my impressions pieces. I’ve had some comments on them and so this reminded me I really should get my impressions up before they get ruined by my slap-dash painting style.

I picked up these buildings after bouncing a long chain of emails between myself and Mick at REDvectors. I’d seen some images of some 20mm buildings (including a version of the target building in Blackhawk Down and the Abbottabad target building) and was blown away by the style and quality of them. I fired him an email, had come great chats about getting some buildings and then Salute happened. A few months later, Mick sent me some details on a really cool set that he was working on. After a payday I sent off the cash and then a box of MDF appeared on my desk at work.

First things first, REDvectors has some great customer support. Quick responses via email, the package was really well secured and when I realised I had a miscut piece the replacement was in the post the following day. All really impressive from a one man operation.

Right, that’s enough intro, let’s take a look at the actual buildings. The pack included 6 buildings in a range of styles. Scalewise, the doors and windows are perfectly to scale with Empress and Spectre figures. The image below shows the Empress US SF figure next to two of the buildings.

The MDF is beautifully cut with no fitting issues. Even better, the buildings came precut so there was no need to cut the pieces out of any sort of frame. As always, do a dry run first as a quick test.


The first set of buildings are the simple, 1 room classic adobe style. Both buildings have two door ways and plenty of firing positions.

As common to all the buildings in this set, the roofs are removable and with solid floors. 

The next style of building is this two storey building. Two doorways on the ground floor and another on the first floor.

Both the roofs and the interior floor (with the circle cutout) can be removed to allow access to the interior. I did find the interior floor was a little loose but I once painted it should hold together better. This is so the interior floor can be pulled out without having to be tilted to miss the roof supports. The resting points on the upper floor are a little smaller than usual to also help with that.

The last of the adobe style buildings is this small compound. It includes a small covered area, three small rooms, a well and two door pieces (currently unassembled). The well is made up of multiple rings of MDF that easily go together (don’t do what I did and use superglue unless you like to live dangerously). 

So I simultaneously love this building and can see a few issues with it. Two of the interior rooms don’t seem to have any access point for them. In 90% of cases, this won’t cause any issues. However, if a close quarter battle takes places, some abstraction might occur. That said, I didn’t notice this issue despite having the buildings for a month or so and it won’t take much to knock a hole or two in the walls. Alternatively, roof hatches and ladders allow access. On the other hand, there are plenty of cool things – the two storey tower with window should provide some interesting tactical issues.

So we now come to my favourite two buildings in the pack. These are of a style we haven’t seen much elsewhere, more suited for an urban environment without becoming something that dominates the entire board with one building. I’m really excited about the idea of seeing more of these buildings, letting you having something that looks like the Mog with ease.

The first building has a balcony (that fits figures on 26mm bases) and a rooftop shack/staircase cover. There are no visible access points between the floors so some abstraction may be needed.

The more eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted the cutouts on the rim around the top of the building. This was not a design issue but some user error. The tabs used to rest the roof on do fit together in a specific way. So dry fit and then dry fit again!

Pulling the building to pieces reveals plenty of interior space. No interior walls gives you lots of room to set it up how you want.

The second building is a similar size but with some different feature. The rooftop is entirely flat, making it a perfect spot for some helicopter insertion (I bet a little bird will fit on it solidly). The ground floor has several entry points and there are windows everywhere for shooting out of or diving through.

In this case I managed to set up the rim of the roof correctly due to careful planning and dry runs.

In addition, the building has some interior walls on both the top and floors, giving you one large room and a small corridor around it. Again, no interior staircases might be a turnoff for some people but having more playable space makes a lot of sense.


Overall, I’m really happy with this set. It was very reasonably priced (I paid £45 including first class postage) for some very nice quality (and playable) buildings and it’s really likely I’ll be trying to get some buildings from him. I might even try to commission a few things. 

If you are interested in a set of these, the best way to get your hands on them is to get in contact with Mick at REDvectors via the Contact page (http://www.redvectors.co.uk/contact.php). Some of his stuff is also being sold via Minibits, both on their website and at several shows in the UK. You can also check out their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/redvectorsuk/.

Non-Standard Tactical Vehicles – Building the SF Technicals

When the full details for the SF upgrades to the technicals were announced, I could see that assembling these vehicles ready to support my operators on the field was going to be a fun project. Thanks to sheer variety of stowage and other bits to upgrade them with, building my Non-Standard Tactical Vehicles needed some planning and careful part purchasing. Thanks also to my obsession with interoperability and hot swapping, I also had to work out the best way to mount all the various bits of equipment I wanted to use. This post is going to take a look at my final products packed full of pictures to show them off.

For impressions of the various parts, you can take a look at my multiple impressions pieces covering both the core sets and the new Special Forces upgrades.


Vehicles

With the possibility of two squads needing transport, I decided to pick up four technicals and set them up for SF use. Looking at the parts available, and after adding stowage, each has been assigned a role. As you may notice, the basic vehicles don’t carry cargo for details you can see later.

All vehicles mount the snorkel and bullbar upgrades as well as the upgraded tyres. Additionally, they all have a similar style of paint scheme – block colour undercoat with stripes of tan. The idea behind this was that these vehicles have been modified in theatre, with the main paint scheme having been fresh from the dealership and then hastily painted over to break up the colour. As for painting it, it’s simple and effective to paint.

SF01 – “King”

The first technical finished, and having already seen action in Bazistan, this vehicle is designed to be the command vehicle for the group. Using Technical Bravo as it’s base, SF-01 also mounts the Upgrade Bravo set with the rails and rear mounted fuel tank. As mentioned in the main impressions, this pack isn’t designed for this vehicle but it does seem to work quite well. The vehicle also mounts the Satcom aerial, a spare tyre and rucksack on the rear. To help protect the front, smoke dischargers are mounted in the bull bars.

SF02 – “Queen”

SF02 has another nickname – “Mule”. Using the Technical Alpha as the base, this vehicle is designed as the logistics hub for the group. For this reason, it mounts everything. The racks and fuel tank help to bulk it out but it also has multiple jerry cans, rucksacks and a spare wheel hanging off bits. On top of the cab, the storage rack is designed to be ready for the offensive. A LAW, an AT4 and a pelican gun case help to show off the idea that this is where all the heavy weapons are stored.

SF03 – “Jack”

“Jack” is designed to be a multi-role vehicle. It isn’t the most well equipped vehicle but it provides a good enough platform for whatever is needed. The only upgrade is the storage rack that has multiple different items ready for support. Two LAWs, a rucksack, ammo box, small pelican case and a ration box means this guy is ready for patrol.

SF04 – “Ace”

SF04 is the high-speed off-road part of the patrol. The only additional bit of kit onboard is the multiple smoke grenade launchers. This guy will go everywhere and then get back out of there at a rapid pace. The real reason for no stowage? I’m leaving the roof space free in case a roof rack becomes available. Also there might be more stowage packs filled with new goodies.

Cargo Basing

When buying the technicals, a big thing was to make sure they were modular as far as possible. The main reason for this is that it doesn’t limit me to a specific combination of vehicle + weapon system and so that all the vehicles can be use for scenery without having to explain why the gun crew are not on the map.

Previously, when building the technicals for the militia, I had used several long pieces and various combinations of t-shapes made out of plasticard. However, this lead to some dodgy cutting and a few places where the guns were out of balance and liable to tipping over. This time, I standardised on the I shape throughout. Full size weapon use the entire I, half-size use 3/4s of the I with the remainder having stowage added to it. Mounting the rear weapons on both types of vehicles rely on a few rough cuts to tweak them to fit. This will need to be done by eye as I don’t have exact measurements for it.

A few people asked about a template for this. The reason I haven’t got one is that this, like many things I do, is done by the seat of my pants. Each of the shapes ended up being slightly different . The dimensions are approximately 3.1cm x 4.4cm. To make the I shape, I cut in 0.8cm slots at 1.1cm and 2.9cm. However I recommend you use these as guidelines rather than gospel. Measure carefully and prepare to trim.

The thicker plasticard works wonders but there is one more improvement I’d make. If I had a dremel, I would cut out a slot for rare earth magnets and utilise them for more support. I’d also measure properly,

Guns

The key part of the NSVs and their tabletop use is going to be their heavy weapons. Wanting the greatest selection, I picked up one of each and got to work. As I say in the last impressions piece, I was a little disappointed to see only one crew figure but paint jobs helped to fix that. I also think I maybe shouldn’t have mounted all the weapon on the taller mounts – it looks good when trying to get over the rack but it did lead to some odd positions on the Auto-Grenade Launcher and a really tall stand for the minigun. However, they do look really cool. In addition, the gun mounts also had a few stowage items to make them look used.

Heavy Machine Gun

The classic M2 is back. Having proven it’s worth in its first outing in Bazistan, I’m really happy with this setup. One thing of note, the gunner was painted at speed and so he ended up wearing a version of my ACU camo.

Dual GPMGs

The most “more dakka” of the guns, I really enjoyed assembling this guy. I look forward to him speeding around the board hammering away.

Auto Grenade Launcher

So this was the most troublesome to assembled. Due to the large height of the gun assembly and it’s two-part nature, I ended up with some support issue. To solve this, I had to glue the gunners face to the sight. It just about works but if I was to make it again I’d use the lower height stand and tilt the AGL more.

Minigun

For the minigun, I decided to do something different. I decided to do some tweaks so I could use this setup for a gun truck alongside my Tier 1 Operator models. This required some Green stuff work on the gunner – trimming his helmet off, reforming the shape, adding a head strap for the headphones and then adding a bill on it. I ended up building the shape with a cutout in it to allow me to add the bill. Unfortunately, I only noticed the presence of my finger print on a bit of the putty once I started painting it.

As for the weapon itself, I would again swap out the tall mount for the lower one. It looks great on the technicals with the side panels on but it’s a bit spindly for all other vehicles. However, I am happy with my beginners attempt at conversion.

As you can see, it looks pretty good amongst the contractors. Hopefully it will give them a bit of a firepower boost when up against hordes of militia.

 

Now, that was all the guns that are available from the store. However, I had a few other pieces lying around which meant I could setup another weapon ready for use. I present, the GPMG.

GPMG

By pulling the spare mount from a (now Humvee mounted) minigun and a spare M240 from the razor kit, I was able to get a lighter weapon together. The only major issue was the crewman. Looking through the Task Force Operators range, I eventually found the cheapest option – the single figure using the pirate gun. Combining these two together set up a great tactical combination and a unique weapon for my operators.

Cargo

In addition to the guns, the vehicles need a little extra stowage. This cargo is also great for mounting as an objective. The idea was also to make some that didn’t scream “SF OPERATORS HERE” so they can be used by the insurgents as well.

Full Size

There are two full size cargos. These only fit into Technical Alpha.

  1. A fuel setup with multiple barrels, two storage boxes and a row of jerry cans.
  2. A comprehensive cargo load with a bit of everything. Cargo boxes, ammo cases, cooler box, rugged laptop, rucksack and as a just in case, a M72.

Half Size

There are six half-size cargos. These fit into both vehicles, filling the bay on Bravo and adding more detail to Alpha. These are perfect for mounting alongside a weapon system in Alpha, helping to fill in the empty gap

  1. Generic ammo box and fuel tank.
  2. The car pack is designed to be relatively civilian, with a fuel can, spare wheel and two sand boards.
  3. Generic 2 – Spare wheel, storage boxes, ammo box, pelican box and a rugged laptop resting vertically.
  4. Generic 3 – designed for sitting at the front of Alpha, this one has an ammo box resting on top of where the wheel arch would be. In addition there is a good selection of kit such as a spare wheel, M72, rucksack and jerry can.
  5. Rocket pack – large container (probably full of rockets), ammo box (probably full of warheads) and an AT4 ready to rock
  6. Comms pack – large container, rucksack and three items to form a communication setup (aerial, small pelican case and a laptop)

Final Thoughts

The NSVs help to bring some new to the SF side. A bit more powerful than the Razors yet still ready to race around at full speed to deploy at the right location, the technicals are also a great way to personalise your force. I really recommend doing a little planning before buying in, picking out the right packs of stowage and guns.

The next step? Getting all of these vehicles into a game.