Wargaming Week 22/04/2019

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 15th through to the 22nd of April.

NEWS

It’s the post Salute lull so news is basically nothing as everyone rebuilds stock and recovers from standing in the Excel centre.

The only exception is Empress who keep drip feeding previews for their ongoing Vietnam range. As always, it’s some fantastic work from Paul Hicks.

PURCHASES

Nothing! I’m working through the pile I have while getting ready for some time away. That said, having somehow lost some of my scatter, I might be rebuying the rubbish bags from Spectre.

HOBBY

First up, I finally managed to get the pile of UAVs from Spectre finished off and mounted on the flight stands. I’m going to do a writeup on them along with the MAARS robot and the Operators once I get them all finished. As for these guys, they were super simple – paint white, black ink wash to pick out the details. I was a little slapdash when spraying so some of the flight stand was coloured but honestly, I’m not that fussed – I’d rather get them ready for the table than making them 100% perfect.

With it being the Easter weekend (and staying in Edinburgh for a change) I managed to get a load of stuff done. Most of it was preparation work (bases and undercoating) but now everything but the White Dragon guys.


And shockingly, I actually painted my first two figures for the year! Yes. In April. Jeez, that’s a painting funk and a half. Wanting something simple (aka no camo) I decided to get the Spectre Sheriff and my favourite Undercover Operator painted up. It was really great to get back in and get them painted, especially using the Army Painter brushes. I’m sure they are not the best figures I’ve painted by hey, first time back after a long time away!


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

Wargaming Week 15/04/2019

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 8th through to the 14th of April.

BLOG STUFF

My Salute report went up! People always seem to like them (maybe because it means they get to see Salute without risking their wallet) and honestly, showing stuff off is one of the bits I find fun going to

A few people said they were quite impressed with the photos which I’m shocked at seeing as I was (in many cases) running and gunning with the Pixel 2XL. It does an incredible job no matter what you throw at it and I’m really hoping the Pixel 4 this year will keep the incredible camera.

NEWS

First up, Tiny Terrain last week showed off the DSHK coming to their Chechen war. Both sides will be receiving support weapons in the next wave. Also mentioned is the T62 coming soon with a tentative date set for May.

After receiving them at Salute, Empress has been drip feeding out new sculpts for the US Marines in Hue. There are plenty more on Empress’s Facebook page, showing off a few really nice variations. Keep your eyes open for the full release soon I guess.

As you saw in last week’s pile of shame, White Dragon Miniatures released a literal pile of new models at Salute. From the entire Taliban range (including bikes) to Foxhound and Quads, Courage In Contact is slowly expanding out into a full range. It’s a really good looking set of figures and I’m right in the middle of getting both my Brits and Taliban all together.

Spectre has started their recovery from Salute. As well as cranking their way through the last few pre-orders, and getting stock back into action, they have been starting work on the next set of releases.

The mask in the photo above is a Russian made respirator. Based on that, we’re probably looking at some more CBRN guys. The question is, whose getting them? Russians are the obvious choice but this style is pretty old. Possibly the Militia might be needing some protection if they are handling the nuclear devices from the objectives packs.

Finally, not wargaming related but definitely part of the inspiration. The writer of Terminal Lance and the White Donkey is writing a new book I can’t wait for. Set in Afghanistan rather than Iraq this time, the artwork alone (including this very Metal Gear Solid inspired front cover). I’m really excited about it, especially as you don’t see media of troops in the upland portions of Afghanistan very much – after all, it’s normally deserts that everyone thinks about.

PURCHASES

I point back to last week’s post and the haul from Salute, while explaining why I’m not buying more figures for a while. That said, I am looking at a second LTV but it may wait a little bit.

HOBBY

Main thing this week is assembling all my purchases from Salute. In other words, lots of basing, lots of resin, and lots of undercoating.

I’ve also been taking a look at my pile of unassembled models which meant I built a lot of drones this weekend. I’m going to try and get them done sooner rather than later.

The main thing from this week in the hobby has been finally getting all these Brits ready for painting up. For the first time, I’m using Stirland Mud which means I’m doing all my base texturing after the undercoat. However, the WW2 project is slowly rumbling on.


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

Salute 2019

Last weekend was Salute 2019, the biggest wargames show of the UK calendar. And as is tradition, I got myself down to London for a weekend of tourism and looking at the usual impressive selection of wargames goods that appear at the show. And, as you can see in the last Wargaming Week, I bought a few things from the usual suspects.

After having pre-ordered the important stuff that I knew would probably run out, I decided to take a more leisurely start to the day at Salute. As someone who isn’t a huge fan of playing demo games at shows (I prefer my wargaming slightly slower paced and without being concerned at making sure I’m not missing something else) I usually burn through everything by lunch. So rather than waiting in the queue for the mad crush, I decided to casually stroll in later on.

In a turn of events that will shock exactly no one, my first stop was to the Spectre Miniatures who this year were right inside the door. After picking up my order and marvelling how quick the vultures had picked it clean of all the new stuff, I had a look at their demo game you can see above. Using the Black Site Studios buildings on a battle mat, they had a cool scenario with Russian agents trying to reclaim a cold war weapons cache clashing with US operatives. Overall, it seemed busy all day.

A quick drop in to Studio Miniatures was next and it was for exactly this picture. I’m still incredibly proud of the work we did on Plausible Deniability and seeing it available at Salute was a very strange thrill.

Another quick drop in was to see Supreme Littleness Designs, my local MDF wizard. More importantly, I wanted to see this little beauty he had talked to me about – a colonial fort. I can see it appearing in an upcoming game or two so watch this space.

And then I got to the White Dragon Miniatures stall and my wallet suddenly became lighter. First up, their new Taliban figures looks exceptional. I have a pile of them on my desk at home and I can’t wait to get them painted up.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a show without some previews and White Dragon brought along a future range – the IDF! Complete with both Tavor armed infantry and two versions of the Merkhava, I can’t wait to see more of them!

Finally I got to take a look at the new Foxhound and White Dragon’s interesting method of producing resin vehicles. Rather than traditional single piece vehicles (which are big chunks of resin), they are instead casting them in two parts. This means they can do larger vehicles without needing piles of material and also means they can hide. Personlly, I’m not a fan of the scale White Dragon has chosen for it’s releases (1/56 rather than 1/50) but I am looking forward to seeing the Mastiff when it arrives.

4Ground had their usual collections of small boards (including one for their Adeptus Titanicus range).

Similarly, TT Combat were there in full effect, with the traditional mile of MDF boards all ready for people to buy.


Of course, one of the big reasons to go to Salute are the demo games. This year there was a really nice selection of tables showing off different games, everything from the giant set piece games to some really nice and practical arrangements.

First up, we have the Too Fat Lardies and their excellent Malaya set Chain of Command game. The game was busy all day and honestly, I just really enjoyed how good it looked! If you want some more details, Rich has been detailing the progress on it over on the Too Fat Lardies blog.

Oshiro had a very evocative game set in Victorian London using their terrain. It’s not something I play but it definitely grabbed my eye.

Burrows and Badgers is a guilty pleasure of mine and I always love the little boards these skirmish games provide.

Gringo 40’s ran an Indochina game that literally stopped me in my tracks. From the way the river shines to the intricate buildings, every part of this screamed care and passion.

Honestly, I’m not a fan of Battlefront’s offerings in terms of gameplay. But this board using Fate of the Nation was so impressive that I had to grab some snaps. No idea how well it actually played but it certain looked fantastic!

Wargames Illustrated had a game using their brand new release in the Giants in Miniatures range, T.E. Lawrence on his bike. Simple but evocative board using the 4Ground buildings was a pretty good setup for an effective game.

Peterbrough Wargames brought their Bloody Omaha game using I Ain’t Been Shot Mum and I love it, especially after reading Mike Whitaker’s blog where he documents putting it together. Giving the players the attacking Americans while the GM ran the Germans meant it was busy all day!

A really cool WW2 game I glimpsed as I ran. Seemingly simple, but very eye catching.

A very impressive looking fantasy game that was busy every time I went past it but I completely failed to write down which game it was!

I’m going to admit, I’m not 100% what this game was but I think it was the Ardhammer 2nd Sino-Japanese War game. Honestly, it was mostly the paddy fields that grabbed my attention as I walked by and I just had to grab a picture.

As traditional, Dalauppror was there with their impressive board. This year was the battle of Dänholm. Even though it’s not a period I’m a fan of, it was definitely a sight to behold. On the face of it very simple but very impressively done.

Of course, my highlight had to be this. Walking the hall, my eyes were soon drawn to the familiar tan and roadways of Afghanistan. Moving closer, I was even more surprised to see British troops running around the classic scene, crossing over the canal and moving towards the compounds.

This game, Operation Panther’s Claw, was being run by the Whitehall Warriors and to my surprise were using Skirmish Sangin! They explained a few tweaks they had made to make it play more easily with full fire teams but honestly I just love how the board looks!

A sight any Modern wargamer would be jealous of – a true vehicle pool just waiting for the British to roll onto the board. I was really impressed with the sheer variety of figures on the board – every manufacturer I could think of was represented ranging from Spectre to Empress to Eureka to the Assault group.

While talking to the guys behind this game, they showed off the level of detail they had been working to get. Each of the civilian vehicles actually have accurate number plates for the type of vehicle, with a mix of Pakistani and Afghan registrations to really set the scene. I really like this little detail, even if very few people would actually recognise it.


Overall, I really enjoy coming down to Salute. Although mostly for the social side (catching up with friends mostly seen via Facebook), it’s also really nice to get that burst of hobby inspiration. So expect to see me back next year, all ready for more!

Wargaming Week 08/04/2019

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 1st through to the 7th of April.

Ladies and gents, this is going to be a short one. And mostly about Salute.

BLOG STUFF

My Impressions of Spectre Operations Version 2 are up! As I say in it, this new book is a real evolution of the game, rebuilding what was needed to make the game even better while still maintaining the core that made version 1 such an interesting game. You’ll be seeing me playing this a fair amount – as much as I love Skirmish Sangin, writing scenarios and handouts for it can be a bit of a slog. I’m working on making a way of speeding this up but for when I just want to grab a rulebook and go, Spectre has returned to being my go to product.

NEWS

SALUTE HAPPENED – EVERYONE GOT READY FOR SALUTE AND THEN WENT

PURCHASES

So I may have been a little busy at Salute – lots of wobbly shelves throwing items into my bag. Let’s run through the damage.

  • Spectre Miniatures – Carefully pre-ordered on Wednesday as I knew they would be sold out by the time I got there otherwise.
    • Baba Yaga – This year’s special edition will be a great addition to the undercover or bodyguard range. A nice dynamic pose really helps to see the character it’s supposed to be portraying.
    • Minivan – FInally! Steve from Spectre will stop having to listen to me begging for this! I’ve been desperately wanting a Minivan for operators to pour out of after watching S.E.A.L. Team do it in the very first episode. Civilian vehicles really expand the possibility space so get more on the table is always good
    • Objectives – I’m always looking for things to spark new scenario ideas and oh boy do the new objectives cover that in spades. I’m already looking at a few ideas, especially with that warhead.
  • Hasslefree
    • Modern Archaeologists – Okay, I love the games that inspired these two figures. More importantly, for all the things the remake of The Mummy with Tom Cruise did badly, it did interest me in the concept of some scenarios featuring archaeologists or treasure hunters working in an ongoing warzone. Keep your eyes open for these two popping up in a future game.
  • Militia Miniatures
    • Republican Guard – I’ll admit, I had taken a glance at the kickstarter for these guys and not been entirely sold on them. However, Westbury Wargamers (available on twitter and at their blog) showed them off in the metal and they looked pretty interesting. To add to my ongoing focus on the Middle East, I pick up all three packs for the Republican Guard. This should give me a team of regime loyalists/Bazi Royal Guard, complete with a nice commander figure ideal for a Special Forces team to attempt to snatch and grab
  • White Dragon Miniatues
    • Taliban – So this is a big one. I have been keeping a very close eye on these as they went through development and were previewed earlier year. Having now seen them in person, I just had to pick up the entire range, in a varety of heads, and get them on the board. There are some very clever design decisions, including some weapon combinations you just haven’t seen in use in other ranges. I think the double barrel will be a nasty surprise for an operator trying to breach and clear a location.

HOBBY

Between work (including some good news that might be slowing my hobby WAY down in May) and going to Salute, I’ve had a really slow hobby week again. I did manage to get a few odds and sods done, getting stuff mounted on bases and continuing some paint jobs.


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

Impressions: Spectre Operations Version 2

Disclaimer: I have been involved in the development of Spectre Operations Version 2 along with a group of other playtesters.

It’s finally here. Spectre Operations was released in 2016, the first rulebook the company had released. Now, after hundreds of games (at least) and all the experience that comes from that, Spectre have released a second edition. The plan was improve several areas that have been needing enhancement while still keeping the core mechanics everyone knows and loves in place.

And by god, I think they did it. Wasting no more time, lets dig in.

The Book

Before we go into the mechanics and their changes, let’s talk first about the book itself. Version 1 was the very first rulebook they had produced and, although very good, there were plenty of complaints by people about just finding the rules needed to play the game.

Version 2 is a much thicker book, packing in more stuff as well as some improvements to the rules explanations. There are now plan view diagrams for many sections to help explain the concepts, as well it still being packed full of colour photos of Spectre’s expansive range and lovely scenery (as well as making me jealous). Getting around is much easier too, with a handy index at the back and a well thought out contents page at the front.

As well as the actual rules there are plenty of other additions to help you get ready to play. A big chunk of the appendix is dedicated to a tactics guide, including some military terms to help make your scenarios sound exciting. There are also some other new additions that, as well as adding new rules, also help to really push the feel of doing some special operations shenanigans – things liked picking deployment options and it adjusting how many troops you can get out the door using that method. Additionally, every command level has some pages helping to describe the types of forces represented by each type.

Overall, this is a good book to settle down and read, worth more than just a quick once over.

The Rules

Of course, even if the book looks pretty, the actual rules are really what is important. Version 2 is very much an evolution of Version 1 rather than a total rewrite. The core ideas, things like the opposed dice rolls and fundamental interactions are still here. You’re still gaining the initiative, performing command actions, performing tactical tricks and movements before actually engaging. Weapons concepts are mostly the same, with range intervals providing modifications to hit that can be counteracted by a selection of factors. If you liked Version 1, all of that is still here.

Suppression

The first major change comes with Suppression. Now, this is a core mechanic of the game; I can understand that changing this would be a concern for everyone involved. But I think it was needed. If I may get a little deep, the suppression mechanic was one place where the ‘soul’ of the game felt a little split. Despite being focused on squads and teams, suppression effects were felt on the individuals which would lead to some events that just felt off while also requiring far too much bookkeeping. In addition, the fact Elites and Professionals were limited to only a few points meant they could run rings around their less well-trained opponents. Overall, the core ideas were there but it needed a second look.

So for Version 2, the system has been drastically changed. Rather than the number of suppression points on each individual affecting just them, each suppression point instead pushes the squad down as a whole, representing the rest of the squad reacting to the incoming fire. Once a squad has more points than the command value of the squad, then it’s time to test against the squad leader’s Command value. Pass, and you keep the points but remain in the fight. Fail, and you gain a suppression level. At the end of each turn, all unused suppression points are removed but the suppression levels are maintained.

Suppression levels start off with some pretty nasty effects on your shooting and movement but then gets more adverse as the fire keeps coming in. At the worst level, Routed, the squad must immediately fall back, seriously affecting your plans. In addition, the suppression levels reduce your initiative rolls as the start of each turn by different set amounts rather than totting up some ridiculous value (never forget 22 points of suppression on the lone marksman back in the beta testing days). The game also still gives your elite and professional forces a bonus, as they can’t be routed – if pinned down, they have enough training to weather the storm.

As you can probably tell, this makes the whole game much simpler while still maintaining the key idea that coming under fire is a bad time. The reduction in book keeping also helps to keep the game rolling, speeding up the modifier tests and improving the flow. I’m a big fan of it.

Vehicles

The second major change is vehicles. And as someone who was shouting about how broken the vehicle system was since the original beta, I am glad to see this change being made. The version in 1st Edition combined “to hit” and “to penetrate” into a single roll. Although fast-paced, it did lead to some very strange situations, especially with low-quality fighters engaging armoured vehicles. To be frank, this system really put me off using Spectre for anything vehicle based.

In Version 2, the system has been modified. Rolling to hit is done as with any other shooting action, the defender using their agility stat to represent their driving skill. If it hits, then it’s time to check for penetration. Otherwise, it’s just the usual suppression (depending on the vehicle’s attributes).

Weapon statlines now include a penetration value, showing you how effective they are at going through vehicle armour. Some weapons, like the RPG HEAT rounds, have variable penetration which makes them an interesting throw of the dice with every shot. No matter how the value is gained, penetration determines if the shot actually does anything interesting. Too low and it bounces off. Otherwise, it’s time to roll on the penetration table and then add extra to the roll depending on just how much overkill the shot was – an ATGM hitting a civilian car adds 11+D6 to the roll, almost guaranteeing the local saloon car is being turned into scrap metal. One element I do like is the fact that a weapon can’t roll higher on the table than it’s penetration value – a battle rifle isn’t going to cause a K-kill on any vehicle, despite what Hollywood may have told you.

The rest of the system remains the same – vehicles can have a selection of attributes that affect how they are used (including the addition of Remote Weapon Stations) and what incoming fire effects them. The examples list has been extended, including different eras of tanks and IFVs, letting T34s feel different to the latest Challenger 2.

So what does this do? Well, it makes vehicles actually interesting to fight with, rather than just almost invulnerable boxes. As you say in the last battle report, vehicles need to be very careful when coming under fire. Instead, they need to play to their strengths, using speed. I now have no real problems with getting my collection of vehicles on the board with Spectre.

New Stuff

In addition, there are a pile of new elements to the rules. Rather than going through exact details, here is a quick list of the new things.

  • More guns! – Spectre has added a pile of new guns. As an example, the SCAR-H can be used in a variety of roles, from CQB (a lower RI, perfect for suppressing) all the way up to dedicated DMR platform (coming in with a scope). There are also additional rules for some of these guns, including a rather interesting change to sniper weapons to increase their utility.
  • UAV rules – covering both Unmanned Ground Vehicles and Aerial vehicles, these rules let you add this brand new tech to the battlefield.
  • CBRNE Rules – Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive rules add a new edge to operations, forcing you to deal with having to wear specialist kit and adverse conditions. The EOD rules I can see being used a lot with counter-IED operations.
  • ECM Rules – Multiple Electronic Countermeasures now have rules, letting you model anything from backpack devices to vehicle-mounted systems and even an off-table asset. There are some really interesting ideas in this mechanic.
  • Campaign Rules – A whole section is devoted to the basics of a campaign system, including rough scenario generation and even details for mid-campaign advancement.
  • Insertation Methods – I really like this. There are now a few options about picking how your force has reached the battlefield. Many of these limit numbers or mean light vehicles start having to set up the weapon systems, letting you focus on the narrative behind this mission.
  • Specialists – A really small section but adding in a few example specialists (like hackers or NBC scientists) will help to add some more themed elements to certain scenarios. Now it’s even easier to reenact a few famous missions by having some lower overall skill guys coming along to do a specific task.

Points

Okay, let’s talk about a pretty major change which some may find controversial. The Version 2 rulebook does not contain any points values. From having talked to the team at Spectre and from posts the group, this is intended to really focus the game on the narrative play. Now I can see this is an issue for people wanting to do simple pickup games and new players trying to balance but there are plenty of starting scenarios to work from in the book. That said, the points values will be available on the Spectre website, letting them quickly update them if something is found to be unbalanced.

On a personal note, I think this is fine. Spectre has never been designed to a competitive game – it’s all about the scenario. Balance is something we strive too hard for in such a game focused on realism, as life just isn’t fair. Forcing players to have to deal with real-world situations (including many which are bull crap) and making them adapt to it is something I enjoy as a scenario writer as it breaks people out of trying to game the system rather than thinking tactically.

Minor changes

Finally, there are some minor changes. Little things like the removal of personal medkits help to speed up the game and reduce paperwork while the addition of Rapid Fire to the standard pistol will help to make small scale, low firepower games (like cops vs robbers) much more exciting. Weather and Night Fighting have both been extended, taking the core ideas and adding more detail to both.

There are so many of these tweaks that i’m sure I’ll spot more as I keep playing.


Overall, I really like what the Spectre team have done with Version 2. It’s taken the core that I loved, fixed my major issues and helped to expand the system out with new possibilities. I can’t wait to get this ruleset on the table even more, getting to grips with some of the interesting systems that Spectre includes.

If you didn’t like Version 1, there are just enough changes to make it worth a look again. If you loved Version 1, this is just more of what you love. Either way, I’d reccomend taking a look!

Wargaming Week 01/04/2019

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 25th through to the 31st of March.

BLOG STUFF

I put up a new battle report last week! I know how much people love the games, especially when I get new kit out on the tabletop and this being the first go with Spectre V2 was especially special. Even if the scenario didn’t work, people still had a pretty good time. I also enjoyed taking a little longer to do the write-up, letting me really think back and analyse the game, as well as thinking about what I can change in future games. Also it means I actually get some sleep after running the game!

As I’m writing this, I’m also a good chunk of a way through writing up some thoughts on Spectre Operations Version 2, talking about the new book as well as quickly going over the rules tweaks and changes. I’m expecting to get it finished before Salute but there is a lot of stuff to cover in it. Overall though, I’m really enjoying the changes.

NEWS

This week was Adepticon and Spectre was there, sharing a stand with Black Site Studios and their wonderful terrain. As well as a great demo board, it’s also acting as a little preview for what’s going to be coming out at Salute next week. The scenario markers from last week’s instagram preview were available as well as a mini-van in resin (something I’ve been asking for since watching them use one on SEAL Team) but the biggest news has to be the exclusive figure. Your own hitman, back out of retirement and taking down the mob. I really like

If you weren’t there, Spectre have said that the exlcusive figure will be available at Salute and online for a limited time. I am already throwing Spectre an email with a list of things on and I can’t wait to see it all in the flesh on Saturday!

Speaking of Salute, Eureka has also shown off some new things they are beinging with them. For anyone interested in Cold War Russian forces or using them for other things, the brand new heavy weapons should be an ideal addition to your teams. The figures are all brand new sculpts from Kostas and presented in Eureka’s style. The weapons are also a good set of additions – the mortar, AGS and SPG 9 have been released with Afghan users in the past but the new NSV gives you a much more modern machine gun than the DSHK. If you use the rest of the range, these guys are heartily reccomended.

PURCHASES

Nothing – it’s almost like there is a giant monster waiting around the corner to take all of my money as well as pulling me into London for the weekend.

Although speaking of Salute I have a few plans of things I want to pick up. As well as the latest modern releases, I’m really looking for some stuff to add to the scenery collection. Adding the walls helped to bring the table in the last battle to life, so my next step is to add more scatter style terrain. More importantly, greenery – I need to really bring the board to life and not just make it a sea of brown and tan.

HOBBY

This week’s hobby time has been pretty limited by a whole host of real world things (both good and bad). So honestly, just had a little bit of a week off from it. Probably the most involved thing I’ve done is sit down and have a proper read through the Spectre V2 rulebook!


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

Battle Report – Operation Monte Carlo – Spectre Operations

Well it’s finally time. Spectre Operations V2 has finally arrived on my desk and it pushed me to go get a game of it together down at the wargames club. And having just watched Triple Frontier, the idea of contractors doing bad things for gold was sat on my mind. And then I found the gold marker from my demo game and an idea was formed.


Background

Due to the announcement of ISAF-AP’s intention to reduce the number of troops currently involved in direct ground operations in Bazistan, the recently formed democratic government of The Bazi Republic has decided to contract the Argo Corporation to run and assist it’s internal counter-insurgency programs.

Using a core of trained contractors, (veterans of operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan), accompanied with locally hired fighters (many former insurgents or ex-regime military), Project Final Hand has been a strategic success, clearing several areas of rebel activity entirely as well as making strides in others. Their success has been a key feature in the Argo Corporation’s PR documents for the next year.

However, Argo has a history for mismanagement of projects like these and so payment for those involved has been somewhat delayed. This has led to some unsavoury activities – contractors moonlighting for private militias or selling high-end equipment on the open market. Additionally, the use of former insurgents has led to some concerns of information leaks and backroom deals between unit commanders and the remaining insurgent cells.

And then rumours started to spread. Rumours about a C130 that crashed into the Bazi desert over a year ago. About how it was carrying a shipment of the Bazi Family’s gold reserve. Something that was never recovered but some say was found by a rebel band and carried away. Perfect for the taking, if only someone knew where it was…

Situation Brief

The Players

BLUFOR – The Argo Corporation

BLUFOR was comprised of two groups of Argo Corporation Contractors and locally hired help.

Group 1 was the Quick Reaction Force. 6 Professionals, including a squad leader, all armed with carbines (and the usual extra tricks), pistols, and frag and stun grenades. The team also carries first aid kits and wear body armour. They are mounted in an LTV, an armoured patrol vehicle mounting an HMG in a remote weapon station with an MMG on the flexible rear mount.

Group 2 was a squad of local trained troops in body armour and totting a PKM and an RPG alongside the assault rifles. They were also led by a single Professional trooper to act as their mentor (bringing their skills up to a higher level) while also giving him frags and smokes alongside his carbine to act as a force multiplier.

OPFOR – Local Bazistan Militia

The OPFOR was a bit more random. To represent this being an insurgent stronghold with hordes of bad guys being woken and pulled into the fight, I just kept adding more and more fighters each turn. These were randomly selected but mostly armed with assault rifles, representing the rank and file arriving.

Additionally, the rebel commander could call for reinforcement using a command test. If successful, the player could then request specific weapon selections like RPGs or machine gunners.

They also had two IEDs which could be placed to along the route and could be set off via two triggermen (portrayed on the board as civilians).


The Battlefield

The gallery above shows the layout of the board. As you can see, it’s a real street fight, a mixture of large and small buildings around the main road. The new walls I painted up helped to improve the feel slightly as well as adding some cover. And I FINALLY got to put that pylon on a gaming board.


Recap

As the game begins, BLUFOR started to roll into town.

The QRF remained in the vehicle, while the local force broke down into two groups.

With the rumbling of the LTV echoing through the streets, an insurgent group breaks cover and starts to setup an RPG-29.

A local peers out of the doorway as the armoured vehicle rumbles past.

Despite rumbling forward, the LTV’s remote weapon system managed to come to bear on the insurgent that had popped out from behind the concrete barricades. A quick burst and the threat was downed.

The sound of gun fire draws in another group of insurgents.

BLUFOR continues to advance, the locals sticking close behind the vehicle as it advances.

Another shot as the LTV crew suddenly spots the barricade blocking the way toward the objective.

A successful command test brings out a fighter with an anti-material rifle. He sets up watching the road, lining up his scope on the driver’s windscreen. His first shot simply cracks the glass, causing the gunner to change his target.

More fighters start to spill out out into the streets, ready to ambush the approaching BLUFOR. Above, another civilian pulls out their phone, his fingers hovering over a special contact…

A civilian narrowly avoids a grizzly end when they step into the street in front of the towering armoured patrol vehicle.

One of the insurgent groups decide to engage more directly and take up firing positions on the ground floor of the corner building. These guys actually managed to put some fire down and take out two local force soldiers before the LTV blocked them from view.

The LTV suddenly now enters a target rich environment – the marksman down the road or the squad of hostiles in cover.

He picks the marksman, the hail of .50cal round tearing the rooftop apart and suppressing the threat easily.

The next turn, as the insurgents start to take up ambush positions, another burst of .50cal fire takes out the anti-material threat, the impacts kicking up a plume of dust.

With the way forward blocked, the LTV turns and begins to head down the side road. Inside, the QRF start to get a little concerned about the occupants of the buildings around them.

All the while, the local forces had been moving to take up positions to support the LTV’s advance. After taking fire from a two storey building ahead of them, one fireteam from the local forces hunker behind the road barriers and return fire.

However, the insurgents began to move forward in force, taking up ambush positions.

As the LTV rounds the corner, the action hots up. The two operators in the back (only one pictured), looking up at the rooftop above them suddenly spotted movement. With reactions created by long hours of training, the carbines come up and hammer the low wall the enemy were crouching behind, ready to ambush. This fire successfully suppressed the insurgents above, making them far less effective.

The RWS system then dropped elevation and hammered through the wall, each shot taking out more of the insurgents and pinning down the last squad member.

The local forces were also in contact. After taking out the group on the rooftop that had initially slowed them, they soon received a reversal of fate when an RPG went off in their midst, vaporising their squad leader and sending two others into bleeding out states.

Things soon turned from bad to worse as the insurgents above managed to pop their heads up and mag dump into the rear portion of the LTV. When the dust cleared, one of the QRF had fallen backwards off the cargo bay, immediately KIA by the hail of shots.

With time running out at the club (not helped by me messing around before the game started after leaving a few things at home), the BLUFOR player decided to push on through the streets. And then this happened – a car bomb IED went off, stunning the crew and bringing the vehicle a halt. Just in time for an RPG to be spent spinning into the back of the crew compartment and injuring everyone inside.

As the LTV sat smoking on the street corner (and the hours having ticked by), we called it there. The contractors had tried their hardest to get into the town but with multiple casualties and an immobilised vehicle, they would have to concede.


Analysis

Overall the game was pretty fun for me to setup and run (and it looked impressive) but something was quite right. BLUFOR struggled to get off the starting line and then bogged down at the second corner.

Now, this was our first game in a while playing Spectre Operations and the rules played beautifully. Anyone in the open got taken out very quickly, shooting was quick to work out and it was simple to perform some cool manevoures. It was also a nice change of pace to plan – I love Skirmish Sangin’s character depth but just being able to use a standard chart helped.

After having a few days to think about it, I think the issues/tweaks fall into two areas:

Scenario Tweaks

Photo from SESWC

So I designed the scenario after only a very quick initial read and vague remembering of my time testing version 2. For this reason, there were a few things I was worried about (such as vehicles being basically invulnerable and professionals running rings around everyone else) and may have ended up correcting a little too far.

First of all, the masses of reinforcements the insurgent player was given. This did a really good job of making the BLUFOR player realise how much trouble he was in as AK totting gunmen just sort of appeared on the board every turn. On the other hand, it did also mean that there was an awful lot of OPFOR on the table and they were able to set up ambush points far too easily. I think rather than just offering free reinforcements every turn, I should have required the command roll AND let the player pick between 5 goons or support weapons.

I also think I didn’t provide enough forces for BLUFOR. An additional unit, probably some more trained forces to represent local friendly militia, would have given the player another option, a set of troops to move down one of the flanks and help keep their offensive moving while also giving another set of rifles to engage targets with.

Finally, the route. I set up the barricades to really force the LTV down a specific route (I blame designing for video games) and so placed the barricades up at the first junction. However, when combining this with the building arrangements, the LTV had no options at all. What I should have done is to move the barricade down a single junction, forcing the LTV to choose between the long sightlines and exposure of the main road

Tactical Tweaks


Photo from SESWC

However, at the same time, I think there were a few tactical decisions that I should have been advising with. Ultramodern gaming is quite a niche period and requires a slight adjustment in tactics thanks to the sheer power of modern firepower. As the guy running the game, it should fall to me to help guide newer players in the tactics to use.

First of all, staying in the vehicle. The QRF really wasted an opportunity by staying in the LTV as it bimbled along slowly at walking pace so it could continue engaging with the .50cal. Instead, four of the six operators should have disembarked to escort it, letting them use their carbines to add an additional 8 shots every turn. This would have helped to put the fir down more, letting them take down the opposition to more manageable number.

In addition, the BLUFOR guys had some toys they didn’t use. The QRF guys had stun grenades and frags, perfect for busting in and clearing buildings filled with bad guys (such as the corner building). In addition, the professional mentor had smokes which could have been useful when manevouring into the buildings.

After both of these facts, I think BLUFOR should have pushed harder. Using combat sprint to bust into the corner building and secure a multi-storey fire position for the local force’s RPG and MMG to start engaging the enemy forces. Additionally, setting up in there would have meant the LTV could have sped up and moved faster.

Finally, civilians. I should have made it more obvious about letting the BLUFOR player arrest civilians to prevent them from being used as triggermen. This would have encouraged them to perform actions that might have neutralised IEDs before they turned the LTV to broken chunks of metal.

Overall though, the idea of the mission is good, my plan is to illustrate the tactics more and make people aware of the special points that Spectre brings over other modern games.

Wargaming Week 25/03/2019

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 18th through to the 24th of March.

BLOG STUFF

The battle report from last week’s game is almost done – I’m just adding the last few touches to it, including a section talking about the scenario design and analysing the result. This is something that always comes up in the forum threads afterwards so taking a few days to get the infomation together myself makes sense.

I’m also starting to write up some thoughts looking at Spectre V2 and comparing some of the changes. From my first play, the final product is the same great game we had in version 1 but with many of the sticking points removed. More details coming soon!

NEWS

First up, Sarissa are showing off some new bits of scenery and this caught my eye. I’ve been thinking about what my collection is missing and a big part of it is greenery. These vine trellises would be a really great thing to add to compounds for a MENA situation, adding some green while still creating something cool to fight through.

Spectre have started showing off a few things coming soon at Adepticon and Salute by putting up a few images of their new objective markers coming soon. I recommend clicking through to instagram and taking a look; there is a really nice combination of military hard cases full of guns alongside servers if you want something a little more urban. I’m already thinking of quite a few scenarios to use each of them.

Not too be outdone, Empress has finally given the German Infantry released last year something to roll around in. To match their near future look, the Puma IFV could have rolled out of a sci-fi film, totting a 30mm cannon and ATGM under that sleek armour. I’m really interested in one and I can see it being a great addition to the range. The Germans now have both an IFV and a MBT from Empress, letting you build up a reasonable force using them.

And of course, the sound of Fortunate Son blaring through the sky can only mean one thing – the first packs of the US Marines in Vietnam are here. Two packs of riflemen, a set of M60 gunners (including both a team and two individuals) and a pack of grenadiers.

I don’t need a new period, I don’t need a new period…

Finally, just squeezing in under the wire as I finish writing this post, Supreme Littleness Designs has shown off a new release that will be coming out at Salute – a Colonial Fort. I think this one looks pretty cool, especially after having built some of Mike’s other stuff. Although not designed for modern, it could be an interesting setpiece for anywhere in the MENA region that had a colonial touch. Maybe the local bad guys have found a useful place to dig in, taking advantage of the fortifications. Either way, I think I’ll be looking to pick one up.

PURCHASES

Nothing this week, although my eyes are starting to look towards London and planning Salute purchases.

HOBBY

My main hobby time this week was spent painting up some scatter walls to get ready for Thursday’s game. Expect more pictures when I finish them (I only just got them to a playable state) but I really like them. They are a great addition to the board, making it feel more realistic and lived in. Now I just have to find where the rest of my scatter terrain has gone…

In other hobby news, no pictures but I managed to progress on the Sarissa Colonial buildings – they are all now undercoated and ready for me to start my process of washing and getting ready for the tabletop. Once these are done, it’s going to lead to some far more interesting street fights. I’m also hoping I can bring some extra colour to the game with them, not just tan.


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