Operation Dragon’s Hoard: Vapnartak, York

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/

Last weekend was Vapnartak. This was a show I’ve been particularly looking forward to; Its one of my “local” shows (thanks to one of my buddies in the wargaming being based in York) and it’s also a massive event spread over three floors (and mezzanines). Its big enough to lure many of the southern companies (such as Empress) up to the frozen north. Getting to run a game has been on my wish list for a while and I was a little disheartened when they initially reported they had ran out of space. However, thanks to the guys at York we managed to squeeze in and we were off to the races.

PRE-GAME TWEAKS

So with the whole uncertainty around if I was running a game, I didn’t manage to do the main task of making the plane look a little less hacksawed by using my new airbrush and dremel. With only two weeks, the idea of having to repair it in the event of dremel related mishaps was too much to take. Instead, the focus shifted to improving the other elements on the table.

First stage was repairing the boards. This was pretty simple – reapply the filler, textured paint and the cover up with lashings of Zandri Dust. The repair work was mostly effective. However afterwards there were one or two places where I don’t think the filler had set properly before I painted it and so it wasn’t quite as hard-wearing as it should have been. However, between these tweaks and changing how I transported the boards (bubble wrap rather than foam spacers) meant there were no massive chunks of surface that had been knocked away.

The next step was to add some more terrain elements. Finishing off another RedVectors buildings gave the OPFOR some height (useful for the marksman) and make the board look a little less empty. As I mentioned in the impressions on them, this one is great but I did have one or two events where the rooftops dropped through the rest of the building. Luckily no figures were lost to the fall damage.

Another element I think that was missing from the board was debris. Even if you ignore the straight edges on the plane wreckage, it’s easy to notice the lack of material that a plane shredding itself in mid-air would eject. This would also add some more detail to the board and provide some difficult ground to cross. Building them was pretty simple – get more plasticard, cut out kidney shapes, add plastic elements from the C130 kit and then cover in filler. Some of the plastic elements were trimmed to be closer to the ground making them look like they have sunk into the sand.

Once assembled, the same process I used on the boards again came into place. The difference this time was that I added a rough spray of grey over the plane elements, oversprayed by the base colour and then finished off with some drybrushing grey and the old faithful, Iraqi Sand. Overall I think they worked out quite well – it helps to make the board look closer to the ideal.. The only issue was again due to the filler. It hadn’t set correctly and so, as you can see above, a few bits chipped off over the weekend. It’s easily fixable but if I had more time it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. Moral of the story – don’t try to rush things at the last-minute.

For a while, I’ve been wanting to upgrade my central objective from “white SUV” to something more suitable to the mission title of “Dragon’s Hoard”. After throwing a few ideas around, the idea of a big chunk of gold was just too tempting. I’d already bought the components I was going to use as part of Bank Accessories pack from TTCombat in 2017 and just hadn’t got round to building the actual objective. With time pressure adding focus, I built the pile of gold you see above. The three stacks were to act as the base, with one of the smaller piles placed on top for detail. The other smaller pile was chopped up into single bricks to be loosely scattered around the base.

After basic construction, the next stage was adding the tarp. This was the classic modelling standby – toilet paper with watered down PVA painted over the top. Once this was dried, painting began. Rather than painting up like terrain, this was closer to a figure – sand on the base, black undercoat, base colours, lashings of agrax and then drybrushing. The tarp was painted dark blue first before going over the top with a layer of light blue. Gold on black is always interesting and it took several coats to get the look I was after. Also Agrax is still my method of choice for fixing any issues with painting.

Something else I needed was smoke cloud, both for the operators to deploy and also to mark when explosions went off. Rather than cotton wool, one of my fellow SESWC members pointed me in the direction of teddy bear stuffing. After a Saturday where I couldn’t find any in Edinburgh I went to Amazon and ordered 1kg of the stuff. Now, I may not have anticipated just how much 1kg of stuffing is. The package was literally straining at the packaging when it arrived. To put it mildly, I don’t think I’ll be buying much more, even if I decided to model shooting lines for a Napoleonic battle.

Once I’d pulled lumps of smoke off the pile, it was painting time. Rather than just dropping lumps on the board, I used some old bases to keep the clumps anchored to the ground. Rather than just using the same colour for all of the smoke, I set up a few schemes. The white smoke had Mechanicus Grey spray for the lower portion with white spray paint for the top half. The black smoke was a little more involved. The bottom was black spray done relatively close to the clump for a dark colour. The next step was black again but further away. Finally, a light dusting of grey for the top of the cloud. For a first attempt, the smoke clouds worked fine – the only change I’d make would be to get a glue gun to stick the smoke to the base.

Some of the final prep was getting some more cards printed out. This was for a few reasons but primarily, it was because I repainted my insurgents. Along with finishing the other insurgents, I had I ended up with a fair number of cards left over to fill. This was a perfect excuse to keep working on the Task Force Operator pile, with a particular focus on some of the cool gear people may want to pick (such as the airburst grenade launcher). I also added the December releases to the list of guys I have on cards so pickup games of Skrimish Sangin will be even easier to arrange. Once again, personalised card creator knocked it out the park in terms of service. Downside: I didn’t do any post processing on the images so you can plainly see which cards are from which packs I made. However, they were once again a hit.

As I mentioned in my last post, the game at Fiasco ran well but it did feel like the operators, once on the objectives, were basically fated to win which is fine but not quite as exciting as it should be. Having managed to use two of the cards in the new pack for some Technicals, I decided that the operators going loud (be that by lots of gunfire or by blowing the cockpit) should prompt the arrival of some insurgents reinforcements. This basically moved the response squad from a building to a much larger threat, as a four man team of veterans were accompanied by two technicals with HMGs. The operators, thanks to the technicals lacking armour and BLUFOR having brought AT weapons, would find it relatively easy to destroy these reinforcements, as long as they react fast enough. This also makes the end game as exciting as the start, forcing the players to change-up the plan rather than getting all the time in the world to work out how best to approach the problem.

DETAILS OF THE DAY

After setting up the boards on Saturday afternoon (thanks to traders and game organisers being let in early), Sunday morning was a quite relaxed affair where we were able to turn up, get the figures out and then get ready for everyone turning up. Once again, we managed to run the mission three times, rotating players and observers each time.

Game 1 was the usual show started in that I get to play against my number 2. As well as making the game look busy while everyone is doing the early morning lap of the show, it’s also a chance to iron out issues and show off exciting gameplay. Game 1 had a nice mix of stealth and violent gunplay with BLUFOR achieving most of their objective before we called time.

Game 2 brought in some of the public to participate. I actually disappeared off for my lunch break during this battle so I didn’t see all of it but there was everything from awesome sniper shots, some clever tactics and a slightly explosive fumble that luckily didn’t cause any harm other than the need for some fresh pants.

Heading for the black box leads to some close quarters gun battles.

The final game of the day showed just how deadly Skirmish Sangin can be. Thanks to the operators picking a lot of explosive weapons (ranging from two AT4s to the multiple grenade launcher and airburst grenade launcher) the game was all action all the time. With both BLUFOR players ignoring stealth in favour of all action all the time, this was one game where the technicals were actually rolled out. The .50cal scared a few people, but the return fire was able to cut

The pickup takes an airburst round, shredding the insurgents near it
Later on, the MGL gunner engages the horde of technicals heading for the gold.

THOUGHTS ON VAPNARTAK

That was the game, how was the show? Well, apart from two evacuations after someone set the smoke alarm off twice, it was a fantastic show. Vapnartak does really well thanks to its timing at the start of the year, dragging in everyone looking to pickup new projects for a new year. The range of sellers is always great, and I was very excited to see both Spectre and Empress there. The combination of these two (plus people like Pig Iron Productions and Crooked Dice) is perfect for any ultramodern gamers.

Speaking of gamers, thanks to the size of York it’s perfect for meeting up with people you’ve only talked to online. Putting voices to names is always exciting and getting to talk about the hobby is one of my favourite things.

PLANS FOR NEXT TIME

So what’s next?

  • Work on the plane – change the edges of the cut to look less uniform, curl some of the panels, add some interior details (dangling wires and cargo nets) and then tweak the paint job
  • General repair work – make sure there are no chipped edges
  • Get the new buildings from Supreme Littleness Designs ready for action – I’m really excited to get these buildings into action. As I want to build and paint them up myself, there is going to be a little bit time to put aside to get these things built up but they should improve the look of the board and provide a nice tactical challenge for the players.
  • Tweak the battle – We’re almost there. The final gameplay tweak is going to be adding another two-man patrol to the OPFOR start. However, this patrol will be further back – they are not designed to be sentries, instead they will be backup once the action starts.

Something else I’m thinking about is future games. In the projects post for this year I’d mentioned my plan to do a second demo game, with its first run at Fiasco. As fun as this would be, one of the things I realised is that I kind of missed going to Vapa as a customer rather than as someone demoing. Chatting to the figure makers was limited to during a few small breaks. I also didn’t get to do as much browsing as I would like. Combining this with possible work schedules and I think I’ll be having a year off. Game 2 will be bumped back, giving me some more time to work on what exactly I want to do.

CONCLUSION

I’m so glad that we managed to show off at York. I’m even more glad that people really seemed to enjoy it. I had lots of great feedback from people (as always, a downed C130 draws the eye) and was really happy that lots of people totting cameras stopped to take proper photos. Seeing as the planned items is also much smaller, I think we are almost there with this game. Fingers crossed, the version shown at Hammerhead will be the definitive version, perfect for its final planned showing. So keep your eyes open for the final part of Operation Dragon’s Hoard at Hammerhead in March.

Spectre Operations: Building a Force – Mobility, Protection, Firepower

In the last post we took a look at the basics of building a force through role specific teams. In this post, we’ll look at how vehicles can be added to regular forces in order to augment their capabilities and provide new tactics. As in part 1, this article is designed primarily for Spectre Operations but many of the tactics are valid in all modern skirmish games.

Vehicles are one of those things that players love to get their hands on. Everyone likes rolling out the big guns, using overwhelming firepower to destroy enemy positions while rolling through small arms shots like it was nothing. As a national force, you’ll have access to the widest range of vehicles, covering everything from motorcycles and quad bikes up to main battle tanks. Depending on the situation, adding a vehicle to your force will give you a massive bonus on less well equipped opponents.

The problem is that vehicles, while certainly powerful, are also incredibly vulnerable on the modern battlefield. In WW2 there were limited number of AT weapons available but the advent of anti-tank rocket launchers and HEAT warheads has meant that every infantry fireteam can carry a light anti-tank weapon, often alongside its normal loadout. The RPG-7, the darling of every bad guy, can’t crack a MBT but is easily capable of damaging and destroying medium and light vehicles. Combined with IEDs, this makes approaching urban areas a massive danger. With limited routes, its hard to avoid enemy attacks while the varying elevations give bonuses to troops shooting down into the vehicles.

Another limiting factor is that troops cooped up in a vehicle are not able to act as efficiently as they can on foot. They can’t spread out to avoid frag weapons and (if enclosed) are less effective at helping out with their own weapons. After all, when you roll “passenger compartment takes lethality check” it doesn’t matter if you’re a militiaman or an elite SF operator.

Finally, the bigger vehicles often suffer in places where constricting ROEs are used. A MBT might be able to easily splat a possible enemy position but if it’s got civilians nearby than it’s unable to act effectively.

This is harder article to write than the infantry one as it’s one case where I think using points only rather than a scenario can really break down. It’s very possible for one player to pick a force that is incapable of taking out any of the other player’s force (for example a militia player vs someone who picks two MBTs) and it just turns into one player bugging out in the first turn. Vehicles, along with certain OTAs, makes it blatantly obvious that modern war is not “fair” or balanced. For this reason, setting up the right scenario is key. If player’s are picking their own force, give them the intel they would need to be able to combat each other. Setup objectives that can’t be done from the safety of an AFV – after all, it’s pretty hard to secure buildings while in one.


There are three major aspects to look at with the vehicles: Firepower (how much damage it can deal), Mobility (how fast it can move) and Protection (how it can stay alive)

Firepower

Probably the one people rush to improve first, firepower is a big draw of all motorised platforms. Vehicles can offer two factors over infantry in this regards

  1. More firepower: Vehicles can carry weapon system that either require a team or are entirely impractical for foot mobiles. These weapon systems can be incredibly destructive (often with 1+ or 2+ lethality saves) and lay down massive amounts of suppression either through sheer rate of fire or fragmentation.
  2. More accurate firepower: Thanks to stabilisers and extra storage space for ammo, man portable systems become even more deadly. The classic GPMG on a vehicle is a perfectly sensible setup and doesn’t require someone to hoof it around. I’m also a fan of anti-material rifles mounting on vehicles – it’s one of those things that just looks cool.

One consideration is if the vehicle has the move or fire rule. Having to move slowly will let you keep for the suppression down but risks destruction at the hands of anything you don’t manage to kill.

The final point is firing arcs. Keeping the weapon on target while moving is obviously easier with a turret mount while limited fields of fire require more careful positioning.  Technicals will especially struggle with this as many of the heavier systems (like the TOW or heavier recoilless rifles) can’t shoot forward on the current spectre pickups due to the crew cab.

Mobility

Mobility is somewhere else we can split into two regarding what it offers:

  1. Vehicle Mobility: How agile is this vehicle? How far can it drive every turn and how much can it turn? Knowing what your vehicle can do will help when picking your actions. Key things to look for is Uprated Engine and Brakes (giving you additional movement and sharper turns) and All Terrain (faster movement through difficult terrain).
  2. Force Mobility: If this vehicle can carry passengers, how much of your force can it carry? Can it carry a whole squad or will you need to split them across multiple vehicles? Alternatively, could it be used for carry heavier armament like a crew served system or additional AT weapons? Vehicles acting as resupply are especially important when using the ammo loads included in the rulebook.

These two aspects combine together to affect how mobile your force is. Although rolling up and discharging troops directly onto the enemy is a bad idea, reducing how much time they spend foot slogging will help to keep them alive and make you more reactive to the enemies movement.

Protection

Finally, protection. Mobility can help with this ( after all you can’t hit what you can’t see) but having armour plate between the passenger compartment and the incoming fire helps. Fully armoured vehicles can almost ignore enemy small arms, making the dangers of being caught out in the open less than in an unarmoured vehicle. Even partial armour can help to prevent casualties. As for the poor guys in unarmoured vehicles, you need to either be going fast or sticking to cover.

Another part of protection is its subsystems. These elements can often be forgotten but can help many vehicles feel less like a civilian car and more like the platform they are supposed to represents. Key ones include Run Flats (ignoring M-Kills is a good way to stay alive), MBSGDs (for dropping smoke when under fire) and Gun Shield (excellent for protecting any top gunners).


So that’s all great, but what does that mean for picking a force?

The key principle (as I’ve tried to hammer into you so far) is to look at the mission you’re about to do. Do you need a high speed transport, a weapon platform to sit back and provide overwatch or armoured vehicle to carry the rest of your force onto the objective? What vehicles would your force have available? Would your SF team up in the foothills of the Hindu Kush really have access to a main battle tank or is it more likely it would be a mix of quad bikes, pickups and maybe a GMV?

Once the task is identified, selecting the actual elements will require matching the various archetypes available in the book to what you want to utilise. The various examples will help next to each archetype should help you choose.

Something to consider is looking at real missions and what vehicles are used. As an example, Osprey’s excellent Special Operations Patrol Vehicles includes mention of a four vehicle US ODA convoy arrangement used in 2002-2003 consisting of:

  • M1114 Armoured Humvee – Better protection than the rest of the group and carrying a heavy weapon.
  • GMV SF Humvee – Good performance, lots of firepower, plenty of space for storing supplies for the rest of the group
  • Two Non-Standard Tactical Vehicles (Pickup trucks) – Able to go places the other vehicles can’t, lower profile, plenty of space for supplies

As you can see, this combination is mainly focused on a strategic level (outside the focus of a game of Spectre) but the variety of options can help when building your own team.

I have an additional few pointers to think about when setting vehicle elements up:

  • The HMG is mounted on almost every vehicle for a reason. It’s a nice compromise, being able to hit out at both infantry (thanks to sustained fire) and light armoured vehicles (thanks to armoured piercing) equally well.
  • Civilian vehicles might seem like nothing but trouble for a force, but for low profile teams they provide a quick way of getting out of danger. Covert vehicles are often equipped armour and uprated engines making them a nasty surprise.
  • When rolling multiple vehicles in a convoy, mixing up the weapons is recommended. Different weapons are good at different things – the HMG is general purpose but a Grenade machine gun is perfect for flattening groups of enemy infantry. It does however lack the same level of precision you would gain from a machine gun so it’s not the best thing to use at close quarters. Instead, the minigun or GPMG is much more useful.
  • When outfitting weapons, remember that you can mount optical systems to many heavy weapons. A HMG with a scope (such as the setup seen on my British Army Jackals) is perfect for any sort of overwatch fire support, being able to sit well outside the range of enemy return fire will still being able to hit back effectively.
  • Once on the battlefield, there are a few things to consider:
    • Avoid built up areas with your vehicles. These are just asking for you to be ambushed.
    • Don’t waste your vehicles. Use them for their role.
    • Play each vehicle to its strength. Don’t expect your Razors to be able to take hits like a tank – instead play to it’s high speed and all terrain features.
    • Vehicles can also provide cover to troops on foot. This will continue even after its destroyed.
    •  Spectre has rules for ramming and shunting obstacles out of the way – use this when appropriate. Armoured vehicles are especially good at this.

That’s it for this article. Next time, we’ll cross the lines and start looking at how picking an OPFOR force is different, how quantity is a quality of it’s own and why you should look very carefully at what type of characters you are using.

Wargaming Week 22/01/2018

Let’s start, covering the 15th through to the 21st of January.

BLOG STUFF

Last week’s post was looking at December’s release from Spectre. I really like this little set of releases – its exciting to see some new weapons for the older ranges, giving them more options on the battlefield. It will be cool to see just how much gear the Task Force Operators end up getting, especially as you’ll not be using a huge number of them.

NEWS

Last week was a little too quiet for news updates in the field of 28mm Modern. I’m thinking many of the big companies are getting ready for Vapnartak in early February.

GAMING

No gaming last week, too busy finishing off a few personal things.

However, slightly related to gaming is a new project I’ve started work on. I’m not quite ready to give out many details on it just yet, but the plan is to make something a little different that can be used to generate scenarios for any ultramodern game.

PURCHASES

The first part of “Look at all the companies” has arrived. A small order from SASM in the states arrived on my desk after about a week in transit which was pretty good. Inside was a pack of 3D printed plastic water bottles (which I’ll cover when I do an update on project technical) and the Operator Juarez pack. There will be more details in a week or two when I do the proper impressions but early impressions are mixed.

But that wasn’t the only model related thing this week. I’ve also put two orders in to some countries across the sea. There are currently packages heading my way from Warhansa in Russia and Eureka in Australia. More details when they arrive.

The final thing that arrived is a can adaptor for my airbrush. I still have a few propellant cans left over and, rather than simply putting them to one side, my plan is to use them up before getting a compressor. Unfortunately, the different hose size from my old adapter meant I had to get a new adaptor sent out. However, now I’m ready for airbrushing time!

HOBBY

Not a huge amount of hobby time this week sadly – did a few more block colours on the insurgents and got the SASM figures ready for painting. Too busy!


That’s it for this update, expect more updates next week!

Impressions: Spectre’s December Releases

After the massive pile of releases in November, December saw a bit more of a focused set. For all of those who didn’t make it to Crisis, this was our chance to get hold of a set of useful support options for some of the other ranges. I’m always a fan of them going back to add new figures to the current lines rather than just pushing forward – when playing a skirmish game, it’s nice to have multiples of each role so you never end up with duplicates when outfitting your squad.

Task Force Nomad Sniper – Alfa

Task Force Nomad has a nice mix of weapons but only has one long-range support (the airburst grenade launcher). Luckily, this guy comes equipped with a XM500 sniper rifle to deliver the killing blow. This bullpup anti-material rifle is an update of the classic M82 and (depending on the profile you choose for it) should be a monster against infantry and light vehicles. In addition to his rifle, he is also sat on his kit bag. Finally, like all Task Force Nomad figures, he’s wearing local clothing to blend in with the crowd.

Like the rest of the Task Force Nomad range, this guy is great for playing some more sneaky missions or adding to a militia force as some advisors trying to operate under cover. He is a wonderfully detailed but simple character and will probably be a nightmare for your opponent when he appears on the tabletop.

Tier 1 Operators Breacher – Alfa

The Tier 1 guys seem to get all the good stuff and I have to say that this model has my favourite combination of gear. As well as his SIG MCX, this guy is also carrying a SIX12 shotgun. This revolver fed shotgun is the newest thing, able to be reconfigured for underslung and standalone use as well as various barrels. This one has an integrally suppressed barrel which should be perfect for when you need to silently infiltrate someone. If you want to be a little louder, the operator also has an axe to hand. This is perfect for breaking through windows and shattering locks, as well as

I have to say, this is one of my favourite models that Spectre has done. I’m always a fan of breacher focused figures and the axe/shotgun combination just makes this guy a must buy. It also makes the Tier 1 range a rather useful one to pick up. It now has 12 figures, with a solid core of 7 AR equipped soldiers and everything from SMGs up to multiple grenade launchers. All it needs is a second LMG figure and it would be perfect for people not wanting to go all in with the Task Force Operator figures. The range also now has two shotgun equipped guys, perfect for fighting through urban spaces.

Task Force Operators SMG – Charlie

The MP5 is the classic SMG, associated in one of its various forms with possibly every Special Operations Force in the world. That said, the availability of compact carbines and the rise in body armour can mean that it’s a little underpowered, leaving many to upgrade to its younger cousin the MP7. The two packs of SMG figures for the Task Force Operator range have only been using the newest kit so I was a little surprised when I found out that this latest figure was armed with the iconic 9mm subgun.

The model is posed in a pretty dynamic way, gun tilted to a 45 degree angle as he moves forward. From looking closely it has a retractable stock, red dot, laser and what appears to be a combined torch/foregrip. The barrel is also long enough to spot that it’s a integrally suppressed version. Overall, a pretty fantastic setup for sweeping rooms quietly. He also has the rest of the required Task Force Operator gear (helmet, sidearm, plate carrier, shades) along with a small assault pack.

Task Force Operators AT4 – Alfa

I am a fan of Professionals and Elites taking a Light Anti-Tank weapon in each squad for games of Spectre. Being able to hit back at RPG teams with a taste of their own medicine or knock out vehicles in a single hit is a useful bit of kit in the toolbox.  We’ve already seen the AT4 in the vehicle stowage pack so it was only a matter of time before we actually saw a figure with one.

This figure has the AT4 out and ready to fire. He also has a 416 (with magnified red dot, PEQ box and suppressor) slung in front of him. As you’d expect, he is rolling with the required Task Force Operator kit but with a much more complete plate carrier than the SMG operator. Plenty of storage places to carry extra gear.

The other cool thing with this release was that Spectre have released some weapon profiles for two variants of the AT4 which can be found on the page for this item. You can now pick between the HEAT round for blasting tanks or the HE for infantry killing. The HE round loses the Tank Killer ability and drops in lethality but increases the frag distance by 2″ making it much better for groups. Seeing as it’s a single shot weapon, I’d force the player using it to pick the

Task Force Operators MG – Bravo

Finally, the last figure from the release is a new operator with a LMG. For anyone who didn’t get the US SOF machine gunners from the early days of Spectre, you’ve been stuck with two LMG models. This guy should help to extend your options when it comes to building your team. What’s really cool is that he isn’t using the usual Minimi derivative but instead the Ultimax Mk5. This gun is considered very accurate for a LMG, with handling closer to an assault rifle and the ability to use a 100 round drum for when things get hot or standard STANAG mags to work with the rest of his team.

As for the model, he’s got the drum mag attached as well as red dot/magnifier combination and PEQ for laser/light duty. He seems to be wearing a low profile chest rig but is also carrying a huge rucksack just in case the drum runs dry. As well as a pistol he has the most dangerous of weapons – the operator beard. This should make him stand out from the rest of your team. Overall I really like this model. That said, he does have one hell of an awkward painting angle when trying to the underside of his left arm.

Final Notes

So final notes:

  • Really happy to see Spectre going back and adding more to existing ranges.
  • There were one or two mould lines that needed cleaning up but it was only very minor
  • The big thing with this group was relearning how to paint colour schemes I’d done before. Luckily two of the three ranges were mostly block colours
  • I’m looking forward to getting this lot on the table!

Wargaming Week 15/01/2018

Let’s start, covering the 8th through to the 14th of January.

BLOG STUFF

This week on the blog, we took a look at a brand new ruleset Round of Fire. I was really excited to try it out and from the few games I got in over Christmas it’s definitely something I want to play more of. Hopefully I should get a few games in.

To everyone who just started reading based off being linked to my Round of Fire Impressions, welcome! I hope you enjoy all the content that’s going up over the next few weeks. We’ve got a nice mix of articles planned, from figures impressions to tactics articles to battle reports.

NEWS

Not a huge amount of news this week, but I’d recommend going over to Tiny Terrain’s Facebook page to look at some of the new models from their “War in Chechnya” campaign. Beautifully painted up by Andy Zeck, these figures look awesome. I’m struggling to work out where I can fit them in the Bazistan/Zaiweibo theatres but I’m looking forward to grabbing them once they are available.

GAMING

Nothing yet – however, there is a Spectre game on the books for the 25th so look forward to an upcoming battle report on the 26th!

PURCHASES

As it was my birthday on the monday, and it’s a dumb item I’ve been looking at for a while, I decided to spend some money on the Citadel Painting handles. Before I go further, I am sure you could get something similar for cheaper but work being 5 minutes from the nearest Warhammer shop was just too tempting. I think I’m going to do a bit more of a write-up on them after they get a bit more use but I’m currently a fan. I’m not probably going to use them for bigger batch painting jobs but for doing small numbers (where you don’t have to keep swapping out the models) they are invaluable.

HOBBY

I was busy writing the Round of Fire Impressions this week but I did manage to get some painting in. The first set of the week (and in fact the year) was finishing off the models for the December releases impressions planned for Friday. These three were more Task Force Operators so apart from some of the new gear it was a return to the usual methods of painting this lot – block out the main colours, do most of the detailing and then paint on the multicam scheme.

The next main thing I’ve been working on was repainting the Spectre insurgents. The original set was done very early on in my return to the hobby and so had a limited colour pallet of OD and tan. This was starting to look a bit tired, especially next to the militia, and so I decided that enough was enough and they were dumped into the iso. As these guys are used pretty frequently amongst my OPFOR choices, the turn around has to be pretty quickly. This is especially the case as many of the insurgents are to be used as part of the demo game and a new paint scheme means new cards are needing to be printed. I’ve only done the basic colours so far, but the plan is to paint the insurgents in a mix of camo and plain colours to make them look a little more military than their militia buddies.


That’s it for this update, expect more updates next week!

Wargaming Week(s): Christmas Break 2017

Let’s start, covering the 19th of December 2017 through to the 7th of January 2018.

But before that, its my birthday today! And to celebrate, its my first day back at work!

BLOG STUFF

Since the last Wargaming Week I posted up two articles. The SAS CT Response Impressions (I really like them) and the second part of the The Great Big Modern Wargaming Comparison article. Both of these did pretty well and I’m happy with the tail off – the two weeks I had with no posts still had a nice background number of views.

The plan for this week is to do an analysis post on 2017 tomorrow (looking at the stats and going through that survey)and then take a look at what’s coming up in 2018 on Wednesday. All this before a big post on Friday looking at Round of Fire, a new ruleset that is pretty exciting.

Some bad news though. Looks like I’ll not be running Operation Dragon’s Hoard (my demo game) at Vapnartak in York. Some emails fell through the cracks and so they became booked up. It’s a shame, and I’m going to continue working on the game to get it ready for February, but the main focus will be making sure it’s ready for Hammerhead. More updates in the next few weeks.

On the other hand, I managed to get some really cool things in motion over the break. I’ll post more when I can say more but they are all pretty exciting.

NEWS

Hey a new heading! Yeah, I’ve decided I need somewhere on the blog to add weekly news updates. I post a lot of them on the Facebook page but I realise that a lot of people don’t actually use it that much, instead preferring the blog format. Some weeks will obviously be pretty quiet but I’ll endeavour to show off what’s coming soon.

The start of the year is always pretty quiet, but Spectre have dropped a preview image on Instagram. From zooming in, there are a few things to take a look at:

  • The torsos look like we’ve got a selection of gunners for the Humvee set
  • The crew in the foreground has baseball caps and a selection of kit as well as some M4 looking guns. Maybe we’re seeing some PMC troopers or alternatives Special Operations troops.
  • There are four civilians in slightly more aggressive poses than the current releases. Perfect for those angry mobs interrupting your missions.
  • There are a group at the back wearing what appears to be cowboy hats, although I think it’s actually more of a folded boonie hat. They are also carrying some interesting guns. Due to the distance, I can’t tell if they are QBZ-95s or just old style M4s. Either way, I’m expecting they will be some form of new African fighter.

These are all exciting additions and I can’t wait for when they are available. I do wonder if we are about to see a few new figures for Spectre’s original setting of Africa, something suggested by someone on facebook. Perfect timing as I’m getting ready for operations in Zaiweibo.

GAMING

For a change, I actually got a few games in over the Christmas break!

The first was not against my usual opponents. With the book and talking about my hobbies, my uncle asked if I wanted to run a game of Skirmish Sangin for him on the 27th of December (the day the extended family usually comes to Leeds for a meal). So I quickly threw something together (helped in a big part by the profile cards I already had printed), pitting four BLUFOR operators (a mix of Veterans and Elites) against the local militia (Novices, Averages and Veterans with assault rifles and a MMG). Add to that a combination of MDF buildings from REDVectors and a scratch built cardboard base board (assembled in five minutes) and the game was ready to go.

Overall the game was a nice intro, showing off all of the key aspects of infantry combat in Skirmish Sangin. Giving the new players BLUFOR (with their armour and high skill values) meant they were pretty successful at taking out bad guys and surviving bursts of fire. At the same time, when the MMG opened up they really got the picture of just how potentially deadly they can be. Frag grenades were used to deadly effect, cunning crossfires were setup and overall, while the night rolled in, we had a great time. It also means they now vaguely understand what I’m on about when talking about it.

Next up was the trip over to York for the regular wargames/painting days. After a bit of a delay due to snow, we set up the above town with a combination of my bought MDF and Peeb‘s homemade terrain, some of which is still WIP but looks great. The main aim of the gaming portion was to get Round of Fire on the table. We managed to put a few learning scenarios on the table, to test out certain elements of the rules before jumping into a bigger game with four elements per side.

I’m not going to say much (you’ll have to come back on Friday for my full thoughts) but it was a fun game trying out some cool ideas. The core concept of the game is something I don’t think I’ve seen before and it’s something I’ll be interested in playing more of.

You should also go follow Peeb’s Gaming Nonsense on Facebook. He does a bit more varied stuff than I do (including 40K) but I do keep trying to persuade him over to the moderns side. Don’t forget to tell him I sent you!

PURCHASES

I mentioned last time that I was in the midst of an ebay auction last Wargaming Week. Well, you’ll be pleased to know I won it. I was bidding on three unopened Radio Dishdash technicals, a product I’ve been wanting to look at for a while thanks to Project Technical. They arrived just after I set off for Christmas break in Leeds so I didn’t get to look at them until I got back. I’ve got to admit, I’m not overly happy so far. The hulls seem to be lacking in detail and the metal parts are covered in flash, similar to the troops I angrily abandoned midway through painting. There was a plan to investigate integrating them in Project Technical (trying to fit the hotswap Technical weapons) but I’m leaning away from that idea. Either way, expect an impressions this month.

Of course the big addition was Christmas! I received some wonderful presents, some of which you’ll be seeing on the blog. The big ones have to be the dremel and airbrush. The main reason for both these purchases is the demo board – I’ve reached the point where I need the right tool for the job. Trying to remove panels from the wing using a hacksaw or “lightly” spraying the damaged edges seems like a bad idea. I’ll need some practise before I go to town on the actual elements, but this way the end result should be better. The books are going to going their cousins in the reference library; the Special Patrol Vehicles will be especially useful as I wait for the Spectre Humvees to drop.

I also opened up my birthday presents and my sister got me another KRCase cardboard interior box with lots of space of infantry and some pick-n-pluck for vehicles/weapon teams. I am entirely sold on the KR products – they are great quality and the nature of them means I can stack them and just take whatever trays I need for a game day. I also used some birthday money to get a GorillaPod so I have a proper tripod – just what you need when you’re about to take a load of photos of tiny figures.

HOBBY

Despite having a fair amount of time off, I actually didn’t do a huge amount of painting. This was probably down to being busy writing things but also I don’t have a painting setup in Leeds (not helped by parents redoing chunks of the house). However, I did have the painting day in York. Well I say day, it was more of a long afternoon once we managed to get everything together after a lie in. I managed to paint two models to completion and get well on the way with five more (they just need camo). The two figures are extensions of existing ranges, so I got to have the fun time to make sure the colour palettes matched. I also think these are two of my favourite figures from Spectre, especially the new breacher. Now I just have to finish off the other three Task Force Operators

Speaking of piles of models, one thing I did once back in Edinburgh was to do a collection check. I find it a little too easy to just keep buying models and not realise how much is still on the “to paint” pile. So the plan this year is to create a list at the start of the year and then keep it updated at least every three months. I’ve done my collection check and the results will be coming soon. Lots still to do! But that’s going to be covered in Wednesday’s post.


That’s it for this update, expect more updates next week! And welcome to 2018!

Impressions: Spectre’s SAS Counter Terrorism Response

The final part of Spectre’s November releases was the SAS Counter Terrorism Response team. These guys may be familiar to those of us in the UK who watched the news earlier this year and noticed the guys in tactical gear alongside the police. All the operators are wearing civilian clothing (with no kneepads and only a few pockets on the trousers) with plate carriers, battle belts and helmets to help them perform their role. The team also wear mesh facemasks which is an unusual choice as it’s an item more commonly seen on airsofters. However, it does a good job of protecting your face from debris and doesn’t fog up your eye protection. This is in addition to the balaclava’s benefit of masking your ID. The operators have varying levels of armour; As well as the basic plate carrier and helmet, some figures also have applique armour panels on their head and/or the pelvic armoured plate. This really helps to make them look like they are ready to rumble. The range has three packs at the moment:

Squad Set

The main set is 6 men strong, in a variety of poses (three aiming, three in combat poses). All are armed with L119A2 short carbines, complete with lasers, torches and red dots. Some of the figures have assault packs. As always, there is plenty of variation in terms of webbing layout and pouches. An important thing with any multi-figure sets, the operators look great when deployed together – even all the shooting poses are varied enough that they don’t look like carbon copies.

Marksman

The first backup pack for the team is a marksman. Armed with a HK 417 DMR (with scope and laser), the marksman will help to back up the rest of the team. I love some of the details on this figure – you can even see the engravings on the AFG on the bottom rail.

Dog Handler

The final Response team pack is a Dog Handler and Malinois multirole dog. The dog is a new sculpt, an improvement over the original one early purchases of Spectre may have received alongside their K9 Handlers. It looks a lot more dynamic than the original one. The handler is also really cool – he’s got both the applique armour AND the pelvic plate. Combined with the UICW (a super short M6 carbine) he’s using, this figure will pull great double duty as a point man for your team.


For painting, my main focus with these guys was the eternal issue of making teams not in uniform still look like they are part of a team. The multicam webbing and helmets help, but I also did the trick of using the same palette of colours – for example I’ll use one colour for a figure’s trousers and then reuse the colour for someone else’s shirt. US Field Drab was used for the holsters and the multicam was done using the Spectre method. As with all my figures, I finished them off with a dousing in Agrax Earthshade to bring out the details and soften the edges of the colours.


Now I’ve finished all three packs, I think it’s time to pick my favourite of the three groups from the UKSF collection. Despite the coolness of the Assault squad in respirators and the dynamic posing of the Rural Ops (as well as the good mix of weaponry), the Response team stands out. I love the combination of civilian clothing and tactical kit. Alongside the two additional packs, this helps to make the team a fantastic set for anyone running close quarter actions. As with all the ranges, I’d love to see some more support operators for the Response Team. Operators with breaching gear or carrying larger rucksacks to stand in as a medic would be a great addition. As well as the traditional role as CT Response, these guys would also work for some covert agents. They look like they have just thrown their tactical kit over their street clothes. Look for them on the streets of Bazistan and Zaiweibo, ready to swoop in and snatch intel while under fire. This is one set I’m excited to get on the table.

Impressions: Spectre’s November Releases

In my article on unreleased models written back in October, a big chunk was taken up with three previews spelling out “WHO DARES WINS”. Well November saw those figures arrive, bringing the latest version of members of the UK’s Special Forces Community to the tabletop.

The big thing about this release is that all the core infantry are sold in the squad packs with any additional support in single figure packs. I think this system works well – it does mean you can’t buy individual figures for conversion work but it prevents you being unable to complete a squad because one of the three pack isn’t available. It also makes buying a starter easier – you can just point at a squad box or two and say “get that”.

SAS Rural Ops

We start with the new SAS Operators ready for an operation in the field. Equipped with body armour, assault packs and sidearms, the team has a good mix of guns ready for any engagements encountered on patrol. Five guys with L119A2 SFW carbines (complete with suppressors, lasers and optics) and a LMG give you your ranged firepower while the team also includes a UGL and a light anti-tank weapon meaning you have a wide selection of tools.

I think that this set shows off the best circumstances for using the squad pack system – a single box that gives you a squad that’s ready to go and get on the table as a pretty reasonable force. The figures are also great showing a lot of detail on each figure.

As an additional option, Spectre are also selling a Marksman to go with the rest of the Rural Ops squad. He is armed with a scoped 417, the perfect DMR to help out the rest of the squad. I particularly like the fact he is sculpted wearing an old style SAS smock to give him some variety. Unfortunately it seems like my DPM job is a bit too similar to my multicam so it can be hard to spot.

SAS Counter Terrorism Assault

While the Rural Squad are great for most ops, sometimes you need some guys to take down some doors. The Counter Terrorism Assault Squad is basically the modernised version of the classic black kit. They are wearing Crye gear but most importantly have donned respirators – perfect for defeating CS gas or when you need to assault a villain with a container of pathogen. In terms of gear, they are all armed with suppressed carbines (again with red dots and lasers) and sidearms. There is some nice variation with the tactical gear, with different troopers carrying different arrangements of pouches

One comment about this set is that it would have been nicer to see a figure in this style with some specialised gear such as a breaching shotgun or other device for close quarters combat – as it stands the set is all carbines which doesn’t give you the same options as the Rural Ops pack.

You may noticed I ended up painting them in multicam rather than the black used on the default models. This was just a matter of personal taste and I think it’s better suited for the sort of ops I’ll be using them on in my games.

SAS Counter Terrorism Response

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*—————-* DO NOT RELEASE BEFORE: 20/12/2017 *—————-*

Oh, that’s inconvenient. Looks like you’ll have to check back on Wednesday for the details on the SAS Counter Terrorism Response set.


I think this range is pretty great. There are some wonderful details, especially with the new style of heads; the gas mask and face protection (which you’ll see more of on Wednesday) are very different from any of the previous releases and they have turned out really well. I’m looking forward to seeing what other future releases might have a similar look – fingers crossed for some guys in full Hazmat gear. In addition, all of the armament and clothing shows off the quality of the research job on these figures – all the little tweaks to make them look different from the other ranges despite the pieces of common gear.

L-R: US Army Ranger, Task Force Operator, SAS Rural, SAS Assault

As you can see, they fit alongside the other operators pretty well while still looking different enough. This means there are now four collections you could mix and match when trying to build up your Special Forces assault team – perfect if you’re using my Task Oriented Team system. I’d heartily recommend picking these guys up if you want a set of Operators. In fact, the Rural Ops pack is probably the best option for someone just starting to play Spectre.