“The Battle for Farm 412” or “Coc’ing around in the Desert”

As you might guess from someone who plays a lot of Skirmish Sangin, I don’t play wargames as a competitive exercise. Winning is nice, but at the end of the day, I’d much rather tell a good story, immerse the players in the setting and scenario. I’d rather make the players concentrate on making the decisions the real commanders would have to make.

Chain of Command from Too Fat Lardies is a game all about giving you the feel of being a platoon commander in the 1940’s. It’s about giving you the tricky choices while removing some of the more formulaic elements, beating into you the problems and issues your historical counterparts would have to deal with. I love the Too Fat Lardies motto – “Playing the Period and not the rules”. These are not a ruleset for competitive play. These are ruleset designed to evoke the feel without it turning into a horrible grind.

After having played it a few times at the club when I first started going, I’ve been desperate to play it again. Luckily, my usual York-based wargaming buddy Peebs Gaming Nonsense is a recovering Bolt Action fan with a platoon of both 8th Army and DAK. So what better way to start off my Christmas break than getting a game of it in.


Somewhere on the road to Tobruk. 1941

The desert sun glared down on Sergeant Kerridge as he stood on the roof of the farm, his beady eyes glaring out over the landscape around him. This part of Libya was greener than he expected, good enough to grow crops, the surrounding land covered in palm trees and shurbs. If it wasn’t for Jerry, and the questionable antics of the Lieutenant, it would be a perfect place to be posted.

Suddenly, with a cry from the sentries, his morning was interrupted by the arrival of a pair of Cheverlot trucks, each laden down with equipment and kicking up a plume of dust. One rolled straight past but the other rolled to a halt at the entrance to the compound, three troopers jumping off the back with ammo cans in hand while another two started to quickly work at dismounting the Vickers MG from the pintle position. To a man, the entire team seemed scruffy and out of regs, wearing the local headgear. They pushed past him, heading towards a position on the roof of the main building.

Kerridge was having none of this. He strode across the square, heading towards the commander’s seat, almost shaking with annoyance.

“What the hell is the meaning of this? Which unit are you part of? Don’t any of you know protocol about coming through lines.”

The man standing in the passenger seat turned to face him, the scraggly beard still covered in dust from the road. The sight of his rank slides caused Kerridge to click to attention, his boot heels slamming together. The Captain just smiled, throwing a casual salute before leaning down to him.

“Ah, there is a man in charge. Look here old chum, we were just returning from a patrol when we got into a bit of a scrap with some bosche just a mile or two back down the road. Looks like part of a probe and they heading straight this way. Now, we’re going to leave Williams and the old Queen here with you chaps to help give them what’s for while the Boy and I head back to somewhere with a radio to get the news out”

The Captain returned to full height, eyes scanning the horizon.

“Looks like you’re in for an interesting morning”


We decided to go for the second scenario Probe, with a DAK platoon of moving up to look for a way through British lines close to central farm.

Support wise, seeing as I was on the defence and just about had enough points, I went for a Vickers MMG team – hopefully it would help me to strike back at the masses of MG34s I was about to go up against. On the Germans side, my opponent went for an adjutant (to make up for the single Senior Leader the DAK platoons get) and a satchel charge (which went unused for the entire game).

After the dance of the patrol phase (a feature I particularity love), we had the above setup for the jumping off points. My positions let me setup up in several good pieces of cover, anchoring my defences around the main defensive position. The Germans had started their probe from my right flank, spreading their kicking off locations to a reasonable spread of locations.

Once the game kicked off, Jerry deployed two squads. One moved into the palm grove at the board edge, the other began to advance to the closest edge of the compound. In response, I deployed one section up to the low wall (both to protect the JOP and to prevent a flanking move) while the other appeared from the table edge and began advancing on

Sadly the second British Section made the fatal mistake of being caught in the open by two MG-34s which managed to rip them to shreds, dropping the NCO before pilling on the shock. This squad was eventually reduced down to one solider in each team, pinned down in the wadi.

Speaking of machine guns, the Vickers deployed in the position on the roof and started brassing up the Germans in the trees. The light cover of the undergrowth helped to reduce the casualties (although the NCO did take a hit) but they were covered in shock and unable to advance. They could, however, keep throwing potshots a the MMG that was pinning them down.

The next major deployment of troops was the Germans bringing their senior leader and the third squad to assist the advancing teams. The officer managed to get things moving en-mass. To fight back, I deployed my final section into position on top of the main compound building, able to put rifle and Bren fire down on that flank.

At this stage I made a critical error. Rather than keep my squad on the left in cover or trying to flank left, I decided to get more troops in the centre to engage more of the German offsensive. To do this I had to cross the open road which despite being done at the double, ended up with most of a squad stuck in the open. Two LMGs later and the NCO was done for, as well as several riflemen.

A phase later and I managed to get the 2inch mortar up to pop smoke and cover the crossing. Alas too late.


We ran out of time and had to call it there but where does that leave us? Well, I think it’s safe to say the Brits are in trouble. They managed to stop the probe and prevent it from breaking through the line, but they were now in serious trouble after my error. The Germans were taking shots but could possible had advanced down the right flank (using the other squads to put fire on the Tommies).

All I can say is that the cavalry better get there soon or else there might not be much to rescue.


I will admit, I can get why people don’t like Chain of Command and prefer other WW2 set games. If the dice hit you the wrong way, if Field Marshall Friction decides to make your troopers club footed fools, then yeah, it can throw your plans entirely out of wack. But nothing has quite matched the feel you get when reading histories of WW2 or even the modern day – where things can go incredibly wrong. In other words, I will be coming back to Chain of Command soon. Maybe even sooner than I expected when I started writing this post.

That said, I am very interested to try out the new WW2 rules from Radio DishDash.

Project Dungeon Crawl – The Additional Players

Ah time to catch up on some of those side projects…

Oh.

As you might have guess by the slow down on the main blog, I just didn’t have time for very much other than moderns for the last little bit and so my fantasy adventuring plans have gone literally nowhere. I still have a pile of unpainted models on my desk and I have yet to even play a single game of Open Combat.

However, that wasn’t going to stop me picking up some sprues and creating a few more adventurers to go into the dungeons. Kicked off by the arrival of single spures on ebay for the new female soldiers, I quickly grabbed some off eBay and got to work.

ghost archipelago Crewmen

Hailing from the more tropical realms of Frostgrave’s sister game Ghost Archipelago, these 5 figures have a bit more of a tropical pirate vibe to them. However, I think they would work pretty well as the townsfolk of this northern town once they are indoors or in the underground. For this reason, I decided to go with the less “sea dog looking heads”. These are going to be the poor peasants or workers, suddenly interrupted by the appearence of cultists or barbarians (or maybe worse)

Assembly wise, it’s obvious there is the same feel to them as the other Frostgrave kits. I didn’t try any cross assembly but it might look a little unusual with the difference in clothing styles.

Let’s take a look at what I assembled, going from left to right

  • Simple bowman – maybe someone to be encountered out in the woods near the city, moments before something nasty appears.
  • Big axe, bag on back – either another woodland dweller or maybe a merc hired to cut through obstacles before grabbing the loot.
  • Bandana, beard, sword – simple cannon fodder. Ideal for a bar fight.
  • Mohawk, sword, simple clothes – another sailor ideal for throwing into the mix
  • Okay, this guy is my secret favourite. Floppy hat, club in hand, closed fist. I am willing all my luck

I’m actually tempted to pick up some more sprues of this, especially if I decide to add some docks to the city for the opportunities. So expect to see more of these guys.

Female Soldiers

I’ve been looking forward to getting my hands on these girls for a while, especially after seeing the original previews. I really like the style they have gone for, continuing the wrapped up warm look that the original figures had while being sculpted to still look feminine. These all look like tough practical fighters working in winter conditions.

Options wise, there is the same mix of kit as the original spures, everything from bows and crossbows to various swords and spears. There is a great selection of heads

So lets look at who I assembled. Again going from left to right

  • I went for a classic adventurer look here, here striding forward, resting on her spear as she treks into the mountains.
  • This one is probably going to be used as the leader of the adventuring party. Cape hanging off there back sword held low as she advances, her mouth covered in a cloth against the environment.
  • An experienced fighter, axe in one hand and a bow in the other
  • Big lady with a big axe. This figure also has the two-part ponytail head, slightly moved to give her some motion
  • I think the hood and crossbow makes her look like some form of tracker, ideally suited for living up above the snow line

Overall, this is a really nice alternative to the normal soldier sprue if you want some additional variations. There is a good selection of parts and they do look different to their male variants – it’s definitely more than just a headswap.


So where do we go from here? I really like both of the sets I’ve take a look at, and I’m tempted to play around with the crewman sprues a little more to make some more civilians.

Next step: Actually do some painting.

Wargaming Week 17/12/2018

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 10th through to the 16th of December.

BLOG STUFF

Surprise, I’m back! Last week I took a look at the Ember team guys from Spectre Miniatures. I really like these guys and I really hope we’re going to see more figures from this partnership with Echelon Software.

And just as I get back, I immediately go away again for my Christmas break. There will be a new Wargaming Week on the 7th of January but I might try and drop a few things during the break. For example, I think the last figures for my fantasy project should be arriving today so I can at least get them glued together.

NEWS

Empress has revealed their plans for the next year. As well as showing off some late war British figures (which are really making me think about building a force for crossing the Rhine) they also mention some of the other ranges they will be adding to. For Ultramoderns, I am very excited about the prospect of some Kurdish Freedom Fighters. With so much variation, it will be exciting to see what they are equipped with.

I seem to have missed these but Miniature Building Authority has some cool weapon caches. These would be ideal for objective markers or setting the scene. I’m really tempted by them.

PURCHASES

Now owning a BMP 1, it is only a matter of time before it takes a hit, spews smoke and sends the crew running for cover. So, I needed some crew! I ordered some of the Chechnya War AFV crew from Empress and they arrived super quickly. These guys might be a little overdressed for operating in the desert but they should do for now.

HOBBY

I finally finished Ember team. Turns a month and a bit off from painting the models means you’re a bit slower when you come back. On the other hand, not rushing to get these guys done means I had a lot more fun painting them.

I’ve also started to look forward at what I’ll be doing next. There are a few forces I should look at (including that platoon of Brits that’s hanging over me) but I really like the latest undercover operator. I’ve been playing a lot of Overwatch and I think I’ll be taking some inspiration for her based on one of my favourite characters who is also from the MENA region.

Kind of related to wargaming, but I’ve been playing a lot of Insurgency Sandstorm. This game is one of my favourites at the moment, perfectly blending high-speed shooting play with the requirements of a tactical game (and customisation that lets me dress up in some really good looking Tigerstripe). But more importantly, it has a really nice variety of environments. I’ve been taking a look at them, capturing screens shots ready for the next stage of painting up B-Town. I’m going to try to pull out some of the graffiti just to put it on the Sarissa buildings I have.

The gameplay is also an interesting idea that could lead to a simple participation game, letting players drop in and out while working through a map. Now, I just have to build a load of structures to push through.


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

Impressions: Spectre Miniatures Ember Team

To say I have an interest in Black Powder Red Earth is putting things mildly. I think it’s an incredible series that, despite having a few issues with the pacing sometimes, details the activities of a PMC named Cold Harbor operating in international hotspots, all detailed in a striking (and sometimes very unpleasant) art style. It feels unlike any other comic book, presenting a realistic take on the world packed full of action and operators operating operationally.

More importantly, I love the look of these operators. Equipped to the nines with the latest military kit, their faces covered by bandannas, these guys look operators. Hearing that Spectre had managed to sign an agreement with Echelon Software to bring these guys to the wargaming table made me very happy indeed.

The first pack represents several operators from Ember team, a force shown in the Black Powder Red Earth Yemen series. This set includes 6 operators, all equipped with heavily modified 5.56 carbines. As someone who has an interest in all the latest gear (such is the curse of the airsofter) it was easy to spot that these guys are covered in all the latest and greatest kit. The carbines are decked out with parts that you may recognise if you have been on the BCM website recently, including cool details like offset red dot sights alongside short dot scopes or upgraded stocks and rail kits. The operators themselves, over their civilian clothing, have Haley Strategic rigs and belts. Even their side arms, a tiny detail, are setup like they are in the comics, in custom holsters and with red dots on their slides.

It’s important to note that this pack includes the NOD sprue – you don’t need to buy additional packs unless you want to swap some of the two tubes out for the panoramic versions (maybe your operators got a particularly well paying client this time).

As with all these Spectre figures, the posing is one of the unique features that sets them out from other manufacturers. This pack has a neat variation in terms of poses with two in the firing pose, two in the rapid movement and the last two readying up. Out of all of them though, I really have to say I’m a fan of the guy using his backup optics (pictured here in his red shirt). However, all of them look as cool and dynamic as expected.

It’s well worth looking at the selection of operators currently available from Spectre and showing off the different options each of them provides.

From left to right:

  • US Rangers – Much more uniform look. Everyone wearing the same uniform with similar kit
  • Task Force Operators – Varied style of uniform and equipment. Everything from full-sized plate carriers down to low profile chest rigs. Also the widest selection of weapons and poses
  • Ember Team – Civilian clothing mixed with a very specific set of gear and weaponry
  • Tier 1 Operators – Military-style clothing (can be painted as camo or plain colours), a wide selection of modern weapon systems, chest rigs and soft headgear.
  • SWAT – Older style of kit and weapon however still pretty uniform.

Painting wise, I decided to set these guys up as the QRF for my other Tier 1 guys, having stopped long enough to grab their helmets and NODs before going out on the street. As part of this, these guys were once again treated to the irregular force painting scheme I’ve used before, By picking a small number of colours and making sure each is used in different locations on a few models, it helps to make the team look a little more unified. With these operators, there was also a third region (as well as the shirt and trousers) with the bandannas to populate and I’m pretty happy with the overall look.

So what do I think? Well, I think Spectre has done a fantastic job of capturing the style of the Ember team operators. These guys look exactly like the team from the comics, and if you go hard on the original scheme you could make some really impressive looking models.

If your warzone doesn’t include Cold Harbor, then these guys would still be ideal for any number of heavily armed and well trained groups, from private military contractors to special operations forces. And best of all, you get to put the very latest in gucci kit on the board

I’m also looking forward to what comes next from this partnership. Ember is from the Yemen books but there are other operators from the earlier books that are also pretty stylish looking, especially as someone who loves the baseball cap and ear defender look. This first pack also only includes troops armed with assault rifles – it would be handy to get some alternative weapons for different situations. Either way, I’ll be keeping a close eye on them.

So remember – All Kill No Capture.


As an aside, I also recently ordered the Ember team ID patch from Echelon Software itself. And when it arrived, this spilled out of the packaging (along with a few stickers).

Nice try Echelon, but I’m already hooked.

Wargaming Week 10/12/2018

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 2nd through to the 9th of December.

BLOG STUFF

Oh look, blog stuff is back.

Okay, after my lovely time away I’ve been doing some thinking about this blog. As much as I have loved writing a feature post every week, it’s safe to say it’s knackered me out. So I’m going to change how I’ll be running posts.

Monday posts are remaining the same. It gives me a good place to check in and update how I’m doing. I also know a few people who don’t use Facebook read this and so it’s handy to pass on new releases and such. Also, I like writing them.

Instead of a feature post every week, you’ll be getting a bit of writing every time I finish something. So what this means practically is that some weeks all you get is the Monday news update while others you might get a pile of posts to read. They will still be going up at the same time (12pm GMT) to make sure you get something ready to read on your lunch break or first thing in the morning depending on where you are.

This is not me giving up on the blog – far from it! What it is is a re-arrangement – this isn’t my job and if I treat it like such I’m going to grow to dislike it. It also means I get some more time to do other projects than riding the painting train to hell – including writing more scenarios and rules! I’ve already been testing a rules tweaks so maybe you’ll hear about them soon.

NEWS

Honestly, no real news, we’re getting close to Christmas so it’s to be expected. A minor point for anyone stateside is that Spectre Miniatures has announced they will be going to Adepticon next year, sharing a stand with Black Site Studio.

PURCHASES

Some black spray paint. It’s all go around here.

EDIT: Okay, false here. I actually (after setting this to be scheduled) went and picked up a sprue of the new Frostgrave female soldiers and a spure of the Ghost Archipelago crewmen (and bases) so I can finish off assembling figures for my fantasy project.

HOBBY

Not much movement on the hobby front this week unfortunately – it’s been a week filled mostly with video games thanks to a few key releases coming out. However, there was a little bit of progress on the BPRE operators, mainly neatening up some of the colours and getting the detailing in place. Fingers crossed, you’ll see these guys finished this week.

In other news, my latest order arrived. I’ve already got to work basing the new figures. I’m going to plan out a few ways to base the walls and brick piles, ideally to create interesting features rather than just gently placing them on the tabletop.

And also there is the small matter of building another Humvee…


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

Wargaming Week 03/12/2018

Let’s start this Wargaming Week, covering the 26th of November through to the 2nd of December.

NEWS

Under Fire Miniatures has updated its Cold War US Army infantry range. As well as adding a new release (the Dragon ATGM team), they have also been rebalanced. This mean the packs are a little easier to choose when trying to build you force, splitting the riflemen from the support weapons.

If you want some of your own, you can find them on the Under Miniatures site .

Image from Spectre Miniatures

This week also saw a small but exciting release from Spectre Miniatures. The first figure is the undercover operative you see above. Dressed in civilian clothing ideal for the MENA region and with a suppressed pistol, she is perfect for more covert missions. I’m also a big fan of her sculpt, and can’t wait to get her painted.

The other release was designed to give the FSB team some backup. Deciding that .50cal rifles were not enough of an advantage, this new killteam operator arrives in full heavy body armour. Although not quite as covert, it won’t matter when he is kicking in the door.

PURCHASES

Image from Spectre Miniatures

Okay, I may have done a big Spectre purchase. As well as the two new figures (which I’m very excited about getting on the table) I also decided to pick up a few things

  • HMV 4 – This is going to be another blank Humvee, probably with some stowage applied but not much else. This will give me a pair of vehicles ready for use in various countries, as well as two additional high-tech vehicles for special forces use.
  • DSHK and gunner – An upcoming scenario I have planned is going to see some of Bazistan’s SF rolling around in a Humvee. So I’ve picked up a suitable gunner and another DSHK to add to the ring mount.
  • Scatter terrain – Spectre released a pile of scatter terrain that I hadn’t picked up, such as the walls you can see in the picture above. I really want to start improving my picture and tables and this terrain should be a great addition.

HOBBY

We have action on the painting bench. After a nice break away, I finally broke out the paint and got to work on Ember team from Spectre. I managed to get the basic colours sort, so maybe there will be a post on Friday with some more details on them!

Maybe.


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