Wargaming Week 29/01/2018

Let’s start, covering the 22nd through to the 28th of January.

BLOG STUFF

This week saw a new battle report for Spectre Operations – Big Bird Down. Overall the battle was a fun time and a great game to write up!

This week’s post is going to be a little bit shorter as I’m currently REALLY busy getting stuff ready for something.

NEWS

Nothing model news related, seems like everyone is gearing up for Vapnartak. The big news is that I’ll be at Vapa this weekend! Seems like news of our demise were greatly exaggerated – I got a message earlier this week saying its back on. So this weekend I’ll be running the latest version of Operation Dragon’s Hoard, complete with a few tweaks.

If you want to join in the game, we’re up on the Second Mezzanine floor at the racecourse. The event is at York Racecourse on the 4th of February from between 10am and 4pm

GAMING

As you can see, I got a game of Spectre in down at SESWC. As always, it’s fun to get more people playing. It was also really fun to get vehicles on the board. After the game, the BLUFOR player realised that maybe he should have used his speed more rather than getting stuck in. I’m also really he played for the objective rather than just focusing on the bodycount.

PURCHASES

As mentioned last week my Eureka figures finally turned up! Haven’t yet had a chance to start painting them but managed to get them inked up. They are perfect for early to mid 2000’s with Osprey body armour and MK6 helmets. I really like Eureka’s style of sculpting and although the weapons are a little bit larger than usually, these guys are fantastic. Full impressions coming soon.

HOBBY

A few weeks ago, I stripped back the painted Insurgent figures I had. Seeing as these guys were among the first figures I painted up I decided to redo them. This week, I managed to get them all painted up. In addition, I also finished off a few insurgents I hadn’t painted up the first time, such as the FN2000 guys. Overall, the new scheme is a lot more colourful while also being a lot neater than V1. Unfortunately, this repaint does mean I need to redo a few of my Skirmish Sangin cards.

With the news we’re now running a game at Vapnartak, there was suddenly a lot of hobby work to do:

  1. Repair some broken parts of the gaming boards: Done, filler -> textured paint -> coloured paint -> drybrush, all done.
  2. Order some new cards! This is both to replace the incorrect cards from first printing, the redone insurgents and a few extra figures I want to be available for players to choose. This isn’t quite done – I still need to finish painting the operators I’m adding to the list. Luckily the place I’m ordering the cards from offers a rush order option
  3. Assemble a new objective. There is a reason why the game is called “Dragon’s Hoard” but I hadn’t got round to building it. Luckily, I managed to get the basics assembled and painted this weekend although there are a few final tweaks to do before its ready to go. Well you known what they say, all that glitters…
  4. Touch up paint jobs. There are a few figures I’ll be using for the demo game that have taken some wear and tear. So they are in their best state for gaming, I’ll be doing a few touch ups.

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

Battle Report – Big Bird Down – Spectre Operations

This week’s battle report saw me finally bringing the downed C130 down to the club. Rather than the infantry heavy Skirmish Sangin scenario that is being used for the demo game, we instead brought out the big guns and went for some vehicle action in Spectre Operations.


While flying a routine transport operation between Bazi City and Abu Dhabi, a C130 Hercules belonging to a civilian contractor suddenly reported incoming fire. The aircraft managed to attempt evasive action but contact with the aircraft was swiftly lost.

Due to the nature of the cargo on board the aircraft, the contractor was quick to report the loss citing safety reasons and the potential issues if the various militia groups in the region were to secure it. Coalition forces have attempted to find it but a massive sandstorm in the region has forced a delay.

Now the sandstorm has cleared up, intelligence has now found the crash site and spotted movement around it. JSOC has now been ordered to prepare an operation. It’s objectives are to deploy to the crash site and secure all sensitive material.

Due to the number of enemy in the area and reinforcements approaching it, US Special Forces are attacking at speed. The plan is to snatch and grab the key objectives, utilising two armed SF pickup trucks.


Forces for this engagement were as follows:

BLUFOR:

V1 – SF Technical with .50cal

Team 1 – 5 professional with the usual operator kit such as body armour, comms and personal medkits. Also a mix of weapons from carbines to compact LMGs and light AT weapons

V2 – SF Technical with minigun

Team 2 – same as team 1 but with one less LAW available.

OPFOR:

6 Trained but well equipped soldiers with body armour, assault rifles fitted with scopes and red dots and comms

2 Trained soldiers working as a sniper team with a DMR

Two groups of trained fighters (each between 5 and 10) with a mix of assault rifles and at least one MMG and RPG

2 Technicals with HMG

Technical with light recoilless rifle


The US forces start at the bottom of the board and would need to work up it. The three objectives were:

  1. Recover the black box
  2. Recover intel documents from the white SUV in the central cargo compartment
  3. Destroy the flight deck in the nose
  4. (Optional) Destroy enemy assets (such as the technicals)

OPFOR’s role was to prevent these from happening – any objectives left standing at the end would count as being under control of the bad guys.

The board layout before deployment. Lots of open areas for both sides to cross while under fire. From here you can see the objectives stretching from the black box next to the tail section up to the flight deck at the top of the board.

The game begun by both of the US vehicles rolling on the board and getting ready to fire. Vehicle 2, complete with its minigun, rolled slowly onto the board and spotted the enemy. With the characteristic “brrrt”, the minigun opened up.

In no time at all the target squad, hunkering down behind a section of wing, were taking serious hits. Each of the minigun’s six shots took out their target, causing some a chunk of suppression. However, it wasn’t all going the operator’s way. In response to this hail of gunfire, the leftover bits of the target squad (as well as the marksman team on the two storey building) opened up at their oppressor. With the hail of PKM bursts and a carefully aimed marksman shot, OPFOR managed to knock out vehicle 2’s driver, gunner and then engine block in rapid succession.

Vehicle 1, having just seen its buddy get lit up, decided to take a slightly less dangerous route. It pulled in behind the wreck of the tail section, just in range to collect the black box. It also was the perfect position to engage one of the smaller insurgent groups hiding under the wing with the .50cal.

Having seen the lead BLUFOR vehicle go down, the rest of the OPFOR vehicles moved in for a better shot. These technicals moved at full speed, giving up a round of shooting in order to get closer next turn.

Springing from their death trap of a vehicle, Team 2 moved into cover and started acting as a base of fire team for the rest of the attack. Despite coming under long-range sniper fire, the team’s biggest concerns were the approaching technicals and the left over medium machine guns that had chewed up their ride. Unfortunately, the response to the technicals missed (although did cause some suppression) at the cost of their single use AT4 rocket.

On the other hand the LMG caused merry havoc on the infantry behind the wing. After another hail took out the squad leader and a medium machine gunner, the leftover trio would have to spend time regrouping and recovering from the suppression.

On the other flank, Team 1 and their vehicle were doing well. Most of the team had disembarked,leaving only the top gunner still in the vehicle. However he swiftly got to work, the HMG cutting down the small 5 man squad over the course of two turns of fire. On the ground, the rest of the team was getting ready to deploy. The team leader disembarked, spotting the left over bits of the main enemy squad and radioed to his buddy with the 40mm grenade launcher.

One carefully aimed indirect shot later and the leftovers had been taken out.

On the other side of the board though, Team 2 were in dire straits. Although the machine gun fire had been effective, they had been exposed for just a little too long. First, the light recoilless rifle fired taking out one operator with a direct hit but missing his buddy on the luck of a dice roll. Then the HMG on the other technical fired, kill the exposed LMG gunner. Finally, in the following turn, the recoilless rifle fired again, blowing the immobile technical to pieces to prevent anyone using its minigun.

Seeing it all going to hell, the BLUFOR commander decided to cut his loses and focus on grabbing some of the objectives. To grab the black box he popped smoke, sprinted a guy out to the box and dragged it back while the rest of the team put down supporting fire. Marking the flight deck off as a lost cause, he them formulated a simple plan to solve the issue of the intelligence documents in the white SUV. Using another light anti-tank weapon, he blew the target sky-high. If BLUFOR can’t have it, no one can.

Loading the black box onto the remaining vehicle, squad 1 mounted up (apart from two escorts) and made a sprint for the edge of the board. Despite the rest of the enemy being hot on their heels, BLUFOR managed to escape unharmed.


That was a really fun game. Trying to roll the unarmoured SF pickups directly into the line of fire might have been a bad move to begin with but the fact that the operators managed to hold the bad guys (mostly). I think this game does show how vulnerable the highly trained operators can be while they are still mounted as they can’t rely on their improved skills as much.

Next time though, I’d give BLUFOR something a little more armoured like so they could actually be more likely to thunder run up the board.

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!

Impressions: Round Of Fire Universal Skirmish Rules

As someone who reads a lot of rules, I should really starting asking for money every time someone calls their ruleset “revolutionary” – it would probably make me more than my current Adsense performance. In most cases people trying something new end up combining elements seen elsewhere in new combinations which do play in a different way but don’t feel like a brand new game.

Round of Fire from The Lazy Games is something new. It throws the common activation systems you know and love (card based, IGO UGO) to one side, create a new concept and instead makes it the core of the game, requiring a different set of tactics to most other games. It’s also something new for this blog in that’s it’s not an ultramodern ruleset specifically – the subtitle is the “The Universal System for Skirmish Battles”. As you might expect, universal rules are a risky prospect – go too generic and its lacking in character; focus too much on one era and other time periods feel stretched to fit.

Before we start full disclosure: I was provided these rules in PDF format by the author to play and give an impression on.

First up, let’s take a look at the book. It’s currently only in PDF format (available from the Wargames Vault) although there are plans for a physical copy. Starting to flick through it, the first thing that really stands out is how it looks. 98 pages long and each page is in full colour, complete with a background that doesn’t make reading difficult but might make it rather taxing in terms of ink if you decide to print it (EDIT: The author has informed me that the Wargames Vault download includes a printer friendly version). It’s packed full of wonderful pictures and clean, useful diagrams that actually help to understand the rules rather than just act as decoration. One comment is that it is a little bit dense reading which is handy for explaining the rules but it can occasionally be a pain when flicking through to find a specific rule – there is definitely a need for a quick reference sheet. I also think the book could do with two other little elements to help with navigation – the PDF needs bookmarks added for each chapter and an index in the back would be handy.

In terms of main ideas, the game uses only simple D6s – no fancy extra dice. The core idea when rolling is that modifiers reduce or increase the number of dice you roll while successes are on a fixed value (mostly 5+). The game also does a good job being playable across different scales by using distance units for all of its ranges rather than specific inch distances. The table in the introduction chapter covers playing everything from 6mm up to 28mm and also covers both playing with a ruler/tape measure (how wargamers normally play) or using a grid system.

Image from Round of Fire

The biggest new idea has to be The Wheel. This is the core concept, the key foundation that the rest of the game is built on. Rather than IGO-UGO, the game takes place in rounds, represented by a complete rotation of the wheel. Each round is split into 8 steps, with units of both sides activating on different steps. Depending on the action a unit does in its step, its activation counter on the wheel is shifted by a certain number of steps depending on the longest action taken by a unit (more on those later). Apart from the initial location on the wheel for each unit, there is no random chance involved in future activation times – it’s all down to player choices. Because of this, tactics require some careful use of forward planning and the right actions at the right time in order to get the edge. For example, careful smaller movements take fewer steps than mad runs, giving you more time to react to the enemy at the risk that they will move into the best positions before you get there. Several other systems tie into the wheel, with suppression and shock pushing the affected units around the wheel and delaying their activation. Additionally, certain abilities reduce the cost of activations or allow you to move a unit around the wheel, giving you more options depending on your force. (if you are wanting more information on this system, the author of the rules has released the chapter on the Wheel as a free preview on the Wargames Vault)

Each counter you are moving around the wheel representing a unit and this concept is pretty cool. Units are made up from a number of elements. These can small fireteams, single specialists or a vehicle. A cool feature is that each element in a unit can be different so you could combine two fireteams and a squad leader to represent an infantry squad acting together or a vehicle and a fireteam to have some close dismounts. Units move at the same time but don’t have to do the same actions, letting two elements perform fire and maneuver very easily without worrying about not being in close activation steps to each other. On the other hand, because all elements in a unit are tied to the same activation counter, they are also more easily affected by suppression. The way to counter this is to use lots of smaller units made of single elements but that can be more expensive in terms of points and requires a little more careful planning. Each element is designed to be assigned to a card, which is a neat way of keeping track of the actions costs and vital stats.

In terms of actions, there are a few to cover. Alongside the usual movement (at one of three speeds), shooting and close combat actions there are a few other cool moves, many of which are focused on affecting the wheel. Units can choose to wait any number of steps (perfect for choosing your activation step) or go into overwatch. Overwatch is especially useful but can really slow down your units as the total cost of overwatching in terms of steps can be huge if you decide to sit and watch a gap for a long period of times. Certain units can also use a boost action, delaying their activation to speed up others units.

Two teams settle into a firefight, with the Rogue (bottom left) easily able to pick off important enemies

When it comes to engaging fire, there are a few facts to look at. Basic shooting sees you targeting the nearest enemy unit, rolling a number of dice depending on your weapons attack value and then modifying the number of dice based on cover. Target values of dice depend on ranges and once you have found out how many successes you have, your opponent gets to roll defence dice. The defence dice, made up of armour, toughness and the number of successful hits, will nearly always outnumber the attacking dice (although needing a 5 or more to block damage) so it never feels like the defender doesn’t have a chance to keep their units alive. Certain weapons affect this system such as sniper rifles (which remove a number of defence dice from the pool) making them feel more decisive than others. Successful hits also cause shock, which pushes that unit back in the wheel, reducing their effectiveness.

The other shooting options are to assault (moving and shooting in exchange for having less chance of causing damage) or to suppress. This ignores cover and armour but gives up the chance of causing damage. Instead any successful hit will push the suppressed unit back in the wheel, letting you maintain initiative. The is perfect when engaging elite armoured troops or those in cover, while also letting you move up your troops for the killing blow. You can also setup deadly crossfires (which allows for multiple units to shoot) or, if your units are about to be engaged when you are close enough on the wheel, use reaction fire.

Close combat occurs, bogging down both parties as the fire fight goes on over their heads

Finally there is close combat. Like shooting, the attacker rolls a number of dice depending on melee skills and weapons (which also affect the required score to succeed) and then the defenders rolls against them, with extra dice added for melee toughness and From my games, it really doesn’t feel like a focus of the game. It takes up a lot of steps to fight and the defender has a massive advantage so really, unless you’re packing big knives or want to bog down your opponent, the killing blow will be executed through shooting and assault actions. In more melee focused settings, I could see this defender advantage being a bit more dramatic but for ultramodern, its an action of last resort.

The core rules may be universal but you can’t really play a game without detailing some example forces. The book goes for a modern/near future sci-fi setting, giving you access to a range of elements from the regular soldiers and insurgents to combat droids and heroic specialists (including my favourite The Slab). All of these units can be picked by any of the factions (which range from the brown coated militia and regular army up to The Agency and a tech focused team made mostly of droids) but there is a system in place to help make your lists themed correctly.

Most of the element costs are expressed as both points and an icon to represent a token. Each type of token means something different, such as Speed token which is linked to upgrades and troops that give your force an edge in movement or the Tech icon for the more prototype kit. The points values of each token depends on the force – the militia would only pay 10 points for a speed token while the slower regular army pays 20. The creates a nice balance and stops every force being the same. The other thing that helps to theme forces is the rewards charts which detail how much VP you can gain or lose during a battle. As well as the usual actions like killing enemies or taking casualties, there are VP modifiers for faction specific tasks. The Agency, for example, gains lots of additional VP if an enemy specialist is captured but nothing for killing them – after all, their focus is on the intel, not the body count.

The Spearhead operator (just above the black SUV) is taking full advantage of the corner cover

Elements can also take upgrades to add new weapons and new abilities. Some of these also cost tokens (such as the common ability to take a run in your first action rather than being forced to walk) again helping to theme each of the forces. There are multiple pages of abilities for both weapons and troops, giving you plenty of starting points when building your own units for a custom time period. As well as the modern/near future setting, there is also some discussion on gunpowder and medieval weapons which should make creating some forces for less firearm focused time periods easier. I’d expect force lists (including new factions and elements) to be released as the game goes on. There are fillable PDFs available on the Wargames Vault for writing down the details of your force.

Finally at the back of the book there is a big section on scenarios. With some general guidance on different types of objectives and more details on victory points, the final chapter includes 9 scenarios for you to play. There is a nice mix of symmetrical and asymmetrical setups on offer, with situations such as rushing for extraction or fighting the other team for control of a crashed cargo plane. Each of the scenarios are packed full of detail, and often include additional rules to help make the battle feel a little more unique.

So what are my overall thoughts? I really recommend giving this game a go. The new initiative system and simple core mechanics make it very exciting to play, requiring some careful forward planning. By being a universal system, it also feels like a great sandbox (even more so than usual) just begging for you to dig through it and try out all the various scenarios. When playing with my usual opponent in York, it didn’t take long for us to big up the key ideas and start planning and (more importantly) pull off some really cool maneuvers. It might not match other games for getting the feel of Ultramodern gaming 100% but it is an incredibly fun way of getting the toys on the table and playing something that challenges your tactical brain. I’m also excited to see what the future brings – from talking to him, the author seems very keen to keep adding new scenarios, settings and more.

I’m planning a few more games of Round of Fire, as well as creating some addons to really theme the game to the Ultramodern setting. So keep your eyes on the blog for more details!

Oh you would prefer the impressions in Great Big Ultramodern Wargaming Rules Comparison titles? Okay, I can do that. Click read more to see them!

Continue reading “Impressions: Round Of Fire Universal Skirmish Rules”

2018 in Preview

We’ve taken a look at what happened in 2017, let’s take a look at what’s coming up in 2018.

Targets

The main plan is really just to keep going with the current plan as a base level. 2 posts a week works out pretty well, with Wargaming Week taking about an evening so the rest of the week’s hobby time is free to work on whatever is needed for the main post. However, I am going to start working on a buffer of posts (probably impressions of older models or tactics) that I can slot in to the calendar when things get a bit rushed. I also want to avoid the issue I had with the SAS releases at the end of last year, so rather than rushing to finish that week’s post, the plan is to now work one week ahead. Hopefully you won’t see this change but we’ll see what happens.

An experiment I’m tempted to try is do an extra post every other week focused on hobby elements (such as an extra impressions or Project update) depending on the rest of the week’s activities. However, this will all depend on how much of a buffer I manage to carve out. Tying into this is the desire to get new releases painted and impressioned quickly which can get in the way of pre-arranged blogs.

The big takeaway from the survey is that people like Battle reports. In an ideal world I’d be playing modern wargames every week but I’m not sure I can persuade other players to always be playing in the ultramodern setting. That said, I’d like to make sure that there is a new battle report every month.

Finally, video content. It’s something I want to try but I need to get the correct kit together. I’m also getting stuff sorted for better photography so hopefully I’ll get some better picture in this year’s post.

Projects

The big thing I’m doing this year is splitting the work I want to into several projects. Going to say now, not all of these projects will be finished this year. Instead these are target areas:

Dragon’s Hoard

The game has been run twice but I’m not finished with it yet. The main thing is improving the look of the downed C130 – it should be a bit more crashed and a bit less “attacked by hacksaw”. In addition to that, there are one or two elements to tweak in terms of the gameplay such as better balancing between the two sides. The final point is making sure the final objective is something more than just “HERE IS CAR PLEASE SEARCH IT”. The current idea is either a macguffin in a box or some form of gold on a pallet.

As part of this, I also need to reproduce the cards I have for the characters. This is because I decided to repaint the insurgents to improve them from the uniform green and black to something a little more ragged

Game 2

I really liked running the game at Fiasco and for a wide variety of reasons I think I want to keep going back there to run new games. I don’t particularly want to run the exact same thing two years in a row (and they probably wouldn’t let me) so that means I’ll need a new game by October. Not 100% sure on what it will be (either rules, scenario or figures) but the intention is to reuse the baseboards and just change what appears on it.

Compound

I’ve shown off these Knights of Dice buildings before and, as mentioned in the impressions piece, I really want to spend some time detailing them. Thanks to the design they are perfect for bolting new elements on top, such as roof panels. I’m going to aim for a much more modern look but I haven’t decided the exact details yet

Technical

I’ve done a fair few articles in this project already but it’s not yet finished. As well as the last weapons that I haven’t assembled yet (such as the AA guns), there is also the possibility of more weapons and crews being released. For example, we haven’t received any crew for the African militia. The aim with this project is to be a one stop shop for all the hints and tips you might need for building technicals.

Humvee

At Vapnartak last year, I picked up one of the Humvees from Empress (pictured above). As much as I like them (and they are fun models to have), they are a lacking some of the detail of the Spectre vehicles. After hearing the announcement that Spectre were working on their own range, I quickly sold mine to a friend and started preparing to build some more. Having talked to the Spectre guys, they are looking at a pretty massive range with plenty of options for key components so you can theme them for almost any role. Due to this, and foreseeing the oncoming hole in my wallet, this range seems like the ideal candidate for the project experience.

Little Bird

Ah, Project Little Bird. Announced back in 2016, killed in 2017, reborn late 2017 after a friend pointed me to an ongoing ebay auction. The plan now is to finish building the third helo as a MH6 and then decorate them up (including fixing the armament) to make them look like the Little Birds from Modern Warfare 2. This means adding the FLIR turret and the rappelling rig.

The final stage is building the flight stands. I’d like to make them a bit more dynamic than the plastic vertical ones so I’m looking at retractable car aerials or something similar to adjust the height and then a way of adjusting the angle of attack so you can have them swooping around the board.

Brit Platoon

The British Army Platoon I have from Empress is the dream project. I was really happy when I finished it but then realised that maybe it was something that could be improved so I stripped them and rebased them. Combined with the new releases (such as the marksmen and the additional fireteam I built) this meant I now have a reinforced platoon ready to be painted up in the new multicam scheme. Once they have been finished, I’ll have a full platoon ready for a campaign season.

Zaiweibo

At the end of last year, I decided that I wanted to start setting some games across the Red Sea from Bazistan in East Africa. After doing some more reading on Eritrea, I decided that maybe it might be a bad idea to use it as the setting for some wargames. So a new imagi-nation is in order.

This project is both a writing and terrain building exercise. I need to set up the country, detail the factions and setup the ongoing engagement. The current plan is something a bit less high-intensity than Bazistan in the present day but with a different style of battle in the past (this may or may not be related to me eyeing up the Rhodesia range Eureka has). The terrain is also a bit different in terms of both the buildings and the natural environment. For example, I’ll actually need some green plants.

I’m also chatting to a friend about improving the production values of both imagi-nations and it may lead to something else.

Maintenance

Okay so don’t be mad, but I kind of made a key mistake – due to botching up a varnish job a while ago, I haven’t been varnishing my models. This means they look great but quite a few are looking a bit banged up. Luckily I’ve grabbed some new varnish which seems to not mess up. The plan is to work back through all the painted models, touch up any issues and then varnish them.

Clean Sweep

Ah the big one. I have done the new year checkup and worked out what figures I actually own. From this, I can tell I’ve dropped below the 50% mark in terms of painted models. This need to be corrected. In an ideal world, I’d just crack on and concentrate on getting it painted but there are multiple reasons (including keeping a head of new releases) that means this isn’t what I want to do. Instead, I’m going to work on painting pretty much every day for at least 30 minutes. This will either be at work during my lunch break or in the evenings. The goal by the end of the year is to be over 50% and ideally over 75%. After all, bad things happen if you finish your lead pile.


So that’s the plan for the year. I’m looking forward to getting back into the hobbying swing of things and keep making all that content you guys like.

2017 in Review

Time to talk State of the Union. My Christmas break blog reading was packed with people talking about how their blog had done in 2017 and what they had planned for 2018. I always like reading these posts so I think it’s time to add my own to the pile. As is traditional, it may get a bit navel gazing-y.

The Blog

So let’s talk about how 2017 went for the blog. The big thing is that this year is the first year that I’ve focused entirely on the wargaming. In previous years, I had a mix of posts covering all sorts of things from tech to wargaming to airsoft. Now, every post is wargames focused which makes the site a little easier to navigate and a bit more interesting for people reading it – you find an entire site of posts to read rather than having to find the gold amongst the rubbish.

The other thing is the decision to aim for a schedule rather than just posting whenever I felt like it. Having a deadline to hit forces me to keep being involved in the hobby, to get my paintbrush out or sit down and think of ideas. I’ve managed to do a heck of a lot of writing, gaming, socialising, painting and buying (oh god the buying) off the back of preparing things for the magazine. That said, there is no fixed immovable deadline crushing down on me – if I don’t finish something or don’t feel like posting, the only thing that would force me to write something is me. There is just enough pressure to make me productive without causing issues relating to burnout. This will prove crucial as actual job becomes more and more frantic.

Combining these two has changed the site fundamentally. Rather than being another hobby blog, it’s closer to a magazine style, focusing on ultramodern wargaming (with one or two other periods sneaking in). However something I’ve tried very hard to do is to keep it MY hobby blog, rather than turning it into a faceless site. Every post is written by me and in my tone (leading to spell check having a nightmare sometimes) and I try very hard to never refer to the site as a group – it’s always “I” rather than “we at the site”. Much like how I’m happy that all my figures are painted by me, it’s just a little point of pride. It’s also something that came up in the comments in the survey (more details below).

Stats

Here are a few stats for 2017:

  • Total Views: 33k views (up from 6,978)
  • Total Visitors: 14,990 (up from 4208)
  • Top Five Countries for views: UK, USA, Australia, Germany, Canada
  • Total Posts: 113 (up from 34)
  • Estimate of painted models (as featured in posts): 235 figures, vehicles and weapon teams

I think the most promising thing is that the trend for monthly views is continuing to rise (ignoring the tiny spec that is January 2018). You can also really see the effect that doing two posts a week does when I started in May.

One thing I noticed is that actually, many of the indepent hobby blogs I follow were hitting much higher than 33k in their yearly views. There could be lots of reasons for this (long established communities, lots of sharing through social media or on forums that still float around) but I’m guessing “broader target audience than just Ultramodern players” plays a big part. If this was my day job, I’d be concerned but seeing as this is just a hobby I’m not that worried. I’d rather make the best thing for the people looking for this topic rather than water it down to appeal to more people.

The top 5 posts of the year were:

  1. The Great Big Modern Wargaming Comparison (2016)
  2. Spectre Miniatures: First Games and Rules Thoughts (2015)
  3. Spectre Miniatures: Rare Models (2017)
  4. Spectre Operations Starting Lists (2016)
  5. Spectre Operations Weekend 2017 AAR (2017)

So turns out Spectre is pretty popular – my guess is the popularity is down to both the active facebook group often referring to posts (The Starting Lists especially) and how well the site does in any search request that feature the terms “Spectre Operations”. Outside of the top five, the rest of the posts are all 2017 except for a legacy post which has since been removed as part of the purge. Overall, a good sign! Looking just at the popular 2017 posts, it’s really obvious that sharing via Lead Adventure and Facebook (as well as the few occasions where TMP has picked up articles) makes a massive change.

I’ll cover future plans in tomorrow’s post.

The Survey

In case you missed it, I ran a survey throughout December and got the required number of responses (100 as it’s the max I can get without having to pay for them). If you want to look at the data, you can find it at https://www.surveymonkey.com/results/SM-YD729TGM8/ – I’ve removed some of the open ended answers as it might allow you to identify people.

So the questions:

  1. Ultramodern Players – No surprises, most of the people who read the blog play ultramodern games
  2. Finding ChargeBlog – Lots of people found the site from Facebook. An option I should have included is google as 14 people said they found me via a web search which would have been third place
  3. Hearing About New Posts – Again the top was Facebook, but also quite a few people chose either checking the site or email subscription. In fact, lots of people converted from other social media to just checking the site
  4. Favourite Types of Post – Battle reports are the clearest winner. Wargaming Week is last which doesn’t surprise me – it’s really more something I enjoy writing to setup the week. What was surprising was how many people chose to write in “I like all of them” or “The variety is what I like best”.
  5. What Would You Like To See – Again lots of people voting for Battle Reports (seems to be the theme). Also lots of talk of projects (you’ll all enjoy tomorrow’s post) and scenarios. Interestingly, video and audio content was lower than expected – I though lots of people would be asking for video as it’s the most common request on many of the facebook groups.
  6. Painted or Unpainted – This was really a check to see how many people would be annoyed if I didn’t paint some figures for an impressions. The plan is always to get them painted but its nice to have the option to just ink them as a just in case.
  7. Comments – Seriously, thanks to everyone who filled this in. It was great to read all your comments, especially as lots of your were saying how much you enjoy reading the blog. I’ve also added quite a few blogs to my RSS reader than to people posting them.

Overall I found the survey pretty handy. It’s going to help tweak my plans for the year but it also showed me see how many people were actually interested in spending the time to fill it in – I must be doing some right to keep you all interested.


So that’s last year, tomorrow I’ll take a look at what’s coming up.