Range Impressions: Eureka ANP

It’s hard to wargame Afghanistan without involving any of the locals. There are many situations where missions should include elements of the local government, either being instructed by the coalition or providing assistance to make an operation seem less outsider focused. Among the variety of Afghan Security Forces, the Afghan National Police have been a consistent sight in reporting from that part of the world, wearing their (predominately) blue uniforms and kepi hats while manning checkpoints or guarding strategic locations.

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Eureka has released two pack of figures designed for the ANP. Each set comprises of six figures, containing 4 riflemen, a PKM gunner and a RPG grenadier. The two packs includes some slightly different poses but the main difference comes down to their equipment. Pack 1 features the ANP in caps while Pack 2 has them wearing PASGAT helmets and kneepads. All of the figures are wearing BDUs and a tactical vest, although the style of this vest varies from character to character.

Riflemen

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As you’d expect, the bulk of any ANP force is it’s riflemen. This range has 8 figures in a variety of poses (from low ready to steadily advancing). A neat feature, and vital for an ANP force, is the fact that several of the guys are not armed with standard AKs; instead, they are using the AMD-65 complete with the distinctive fore-grip.

Support

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The ANP is policing in a warzone and as such, the squads include some special weapons. The machine gunners in the pack are armed with the PKM and posed holding it at the hip. Each gunner has a slightly different pose a cool addition to the range and not just being the same figure with a headswap.

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It’s hard to overstate the usefulness of the RPG and so it’s handy to see the ANP also get an RPG gunner in each pack. Both gunners are only equipped with the RPG-7 launcher (so no backup weapons when you need to reload) but they do at least carry backpacks with plenty of rounds. I like the nice touch that the capped gunner has turned his hat around so it doesn’t cause an issue while aiming down the sights.

Usage

I mean, do I really need to spell it out for these guys? If you’re looking for Afghan National Police figures, these are the guys to go with. However, if you’re not fighting in Afghanistan, these guys would also work for many police forces throughout the MENA area. If you paint them in a camo scheme, they could also work for regular army forces. Thanks to the weapons in the range, you can actually put together a pretty well equipped squad while the PASGAT is common enough in that region of the world.

On the tabletop, these figures give you plenty of situations to use them in. ANP forces have acted in multiple different operations, from both a security role (guarding locations) to more offensive postures when fighting various criminal groups. In many cases, they would also be working along with ISAF personal. Germany in particular has played a large part in training the ANP so there will be situations where a ANP checkpoint may have a OMLT (Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team) alongside them. The Dispatches books for Skirmish Sangin includes some more details on the ANP, with book 1 including the ORBAT and book 2 a scenario featuring a checkpoint attack.

One comment I’d make is that, if I was to go back and repaint them I’d probably mix up the tone of the uniform. As well as the blue, uniforms can also be more grey or green. Adding a bit of variation would certainly give the force a different look.

Conclusions

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The Afghan National Police has played a sizeable role in the fighting in Afghanistan and, if you were wanting to put them on your table, these figures are certainly a great option. Some people have expressed thought’s about the sizing and sculpting style of Eureka figures but I think these guys look really good. From tabletop height I think they fit just with other manufacturers (helped in part by the real life size difference between the Afghans and Western forces) and the team at Eureka have done a great job with these guys.

Wishlist

I think this range is complete and honestly I’m not asking for more. Twelve figures with a mix of poses and weapons is very good. The only possible addition might be some figures designed to be added to the back of pickup trucks for patrolling, either passengers or gunners.

More generally, this has reminded how we are currently lacking some good figures for Afghan National Army soldiers. Although we have plenty of MENA figures armed with AKs, no one has released any figures armed with American equipment and the slightly slap-dash look many images of the ANA include.

Battle Report: Spectre Operations 23/10/2016

I’m writing this just after two weeks of manic work and then a weekend away getting back to the airsofting/shootmans for the first time in a while. Airsoft was really good, great site and I got to rock and roll with my favourite airsoft gun that hasn’t been used in a year (thanks Timehop for that reminder). I also got to spend some time with friends and have a fun drive back up through some great countryside – Autumn really is the best time for driving (except for the torrential rain that came out of nowhere as I got past Newcastle).

More importantly, I got to play some Spectre Operations with my wargaming friends down south. As usual, I took the OPFOR while the 6 SAS operators were split between three new players to the rules. So without further ado, lets take a look at the game.


Barzistan is a breakaway region in the Middle East, containing parts of Saudi Arabia and Yemen. 24 hours ago, two civilian aid workers were kidnapped by militants. In response, SAS operatives in the region have deployed on a snatch and grab mission. Based on recon information, they strike at dawn before the major groups of militants return to the target village.

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Forces

BLUFOR

All BLUFOR has body armour, a pistol, radio and three types of grenades (Frag, Smoke and Stun)

1x Elite Commander w/ Carbine (Laser, Red dot, Scope, Suppressor) and Underslung Grenade Launcher

1x Elite Operator w/ Carbine (Laser, Red dot, Scope, Suppressor), Underslung Grenade Launcher and RPG w/ Thermobaric Warhead (a M72 ASM)

2x Elite Operator w/ Carbine (Laser, Red dot, Scope, Suppressor)

1x Elite Operator w/ Compact Light Machine Gun (Laser, Red dot, Scope, Suppressor)

1x Loitering Tactical Munition

OPFOR

1x Militia Commander w/ Assault Rifle

1x Militia Squad Leader w/ Assault Rifle

20x Militia w/ Assault Rifle

1x Militia w/ Sniper

1x Militia w/ DMR

1x Militia w/ LMG

5x Militia w/ MMG

4x Militia w/ RPG

The Game

As the operation starts, the SAS team is formed up near the communications mast. Inside the village, the militants are split into several groups. The two largest were the attack groups with around 10 figures in each group. There was also a 5 person sentry group (just heading out to their prepared positions) and two pairs of sentries on various roof tops.

The SAS figures quickly split up, with two forming a fire support team while the rest moved into the village. Approaching the first house, the fire support team spotted the 5 man sentry group getting close. Rather than risk detection, they opened up with the suppressed weapons. Three guys went down but two more were left standing forcing a quick response from the assault team. Sneaking in closer, the assault team managed to carefully dispatch the other two sentry groups, the last just moments before they tried to set off the alarm. However, by now both mobs of militia were sat on the outskirts of the village and would pose an issue in getting to the target building.

Upon agreement with all three players operating the SAS, the team decided to go kinetic. First up, the Commander dropped a Loitering Tactical Munition out the sky and onto group 1 causing multiple KIA and a pile of suppression points. Group 2 was engaged by the fire support element, dropping rapid fire onto the mob and forcing them back behind the buildings. Two more of the SAS planned to  advance onto the taller building, stacking up on the doorway and planning to breach.

However, at this point we rolled for the civilians (having forgotten to do so up until this point – oops). Most groups scattered but one group took offence at the arrival of a bunch of westerners and immediately mobbed on of the breaching operators. One short close combat later and an elite SAS operator was knocked unconscious for the loss of one civilian also knocked down. His buddy managed to drag him into the building’s cover and then proceeded to stun grenade the angry civilians.

Ignoring the public relations work two of the SAS were doing, the renaming 4 operators went off to finish the militia. Group A (lead by the commander) worked its way round to start finishing off the group recovering from a drone strike. One of the suppressed militia managed to pop a shot off but the suppression was cleared pretty quickly. Group B waited for the larger mob to pop its head out. As soon as they appear, the two man team performed a Fire Control Order, dumping a burst of MG fire and an M72 ASM to pin the remaining fighters down with a pile of suppression. With all the militia combat ineffective and unable to rally off the suppression, we called the game

As the militia huddled under the blistering fire, forced away from their captives, two of the SAS operators manhandled the hostages and the team broke contact, falling back into the desert. The rebels will need to find another way to get the leverage they need…

Gallery

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Play begins as the sun rises across the board
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The SAS deploy near the old communication hut
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Guard group A finishes their work at the target building and prepare to go on sentry duty
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On the roof tops above, a sniper team watch the horizon while Ahmed attempt to get some signal
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Two SAS trooper provide cover as the rest of the team advances forward
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“Hold on, I might need to call you back. The Americans are here again”
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Team A gets ready to advance
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A loitering munition drops out the sky
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The aftermath
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Fire support take up position on the roof tops
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SAS 5 regrets sticking his head round the corner – even the stunned soldiers are still armed
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The breaching team conducts some PR work
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Fire support comes out of overwatch and drops the hammer

So how are the rules? Well I was playtesting the rules for a little bit (see previous posts in the Spectre Operations tag for the early days) but this is my first time with the final version. Overall I think they are a fantastic little set of rules. The addition of squads really make the game standout – its not just focused on the individual characters but really focused on how a squad works together. Combat is pretty nasty (up close the tooled up operators were getting masses of modifiers thanks to compact/red dot/laser and more) and remaining unaware is very bad if you intend to stay in one piece (unlike the militia in this game). My biggest issues with the game are fixed – suppression is limited on professional and elite figures so they feel a little more special while frag rules just make more sense and are much harder to break. It is a little strange when you initially work out points values – 6 elite figures tooled up are equal to 50 odd militia fighters with AKs. However, after playing you soon see they can handle it. The game has a nice flow to it, even with the various markers and additional dice that end up on the board. It also still gives you the kid in the candy shop feel with the massive list of weapons and gear. There are a few beta features I miss but based on what Spectre have been saying it looks like they have plenty of stuff planned out.

Overall, I am super happy with Spectre and I’m really looking forward to playing some more of it. I have some more situations I want to try with it and see how it works (the big one being militia hunting AFVs) but I’m already getting sorted for my next game of it!

Now I’ve played this rules, I’m going to start work on the comparison article of the various modern rulesets. It won’t be a “X is better than Y” but more a comparative look into just what is available and what each does well/less well.

Testing Report: Skirmish Sangin 08/09/2016

The last few reports I wrote were done in a narrative fashion. I’m not abandoning that format, but as this is a special game I’m going back to a more descriptive style.

Rather than using a pre-made scenario, I instead decided to spring on them a brand new, beta version of a scenario I had been working on. Tentively named “House Call” the new scenario sees the ANP and British advisers entering a Afghan village to hunt down an insurgent leader. However, the insurgents have dug in hard and have a load of special items in the toybox to use. Additional, most of the OPFOR are in hiding, waiting for the opportune moment to pop out.

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Overview of the map for this scenario

As the game starts, a squad of Afghan National Police (along with a British NCO acting as an adviser) ready to start searching from house to house. In addition, a Panther CLV is heading into town carrying two engineers and a medic to assist the search.

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Board level view as the game begins. Civilians help to confuse the battlefield.

Testing Notes: Checking a house requires 6AP worth of action to be spent on it. The idea behind this is that a single soldier will take a while to search while a big group is more efficent. The downside to rushing in with a load of guys to clear is that after clearing you roll a D10. Roll high and you might find intel, reveal an enemy fighter or even bring the target VIP out of hiding. Roll lower and you’ll either find nothing or set off a booby trap. In the initial version of the scenario played, ISAF players gained 30VP per building cleared to incentive them to actually clear buildings. However, this is way too much. The plan is to increase VPs from finding intel and not give any if you search the buildings.

You can see in the above picture, the board is pretty scenery dense. You can also see there are a fairly large number of civilians milling around. In fact, the board above only has two hostiles on it – two spotters ready to set off IEDs and spot targets. The rest of the insurgent force is currently lurking in the ratlines waiting to deploy. The insurgent player also got to place three IEDs and (initially) 5 booby traps.

As the game began, civilians milled around as the ANP starting investigating buildings, primarily as a big group so the check only takes one combat phase. As one group cleared the white building with the courtyard, a second group (along with the British NCO) moved up to the street to investigate another building. Crossing an alleyway, there was a sudden boom as a booby trap was triggered.

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A booby trap detonates just as an ANP squad is about to clear a house throwing everyone to the ground

This booby trap was initially placed on the corner so the damage was less than it could have been – the lead guy and the NCO were both only knocked down. However, both machine gunners took damage through their paper thin body armour. One was still able to keep fighting but the other was knocked unconscious, a major blow.

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The Engineers get to work

Outside of the town, the approaching armoured vehicle decided to stop and start searching the route instead of possibly blundering into another IED. Disembarking the two engineers, the vehicle stopped and went into a covering position. After a few tests, the engineers eventually found a medium IED with a pressure plate and managed to disarm it, clearing the way for the Panther to move into town.

Testing Notes: When the scenario was written, the Medium IED had a booby trap placed with which went off when the engineer originally failed his IED test. This would have required a casulty evac, ending the mission pretty quickly. As accurate as this is to the potential situation and after careful investigation of the rules, we decided to roll this back in order to keep playing and reduce the number of booby traps for the insurgent player.

As ANP troops rushed to clear the building close to the booby trap, they quickly discovered an enemy fighter and dragged him outside. As this happened one of the players turned to me and asked “Can we start interrogating him?”. After a little bit of persuasion, I agreed and the leader of the ANP started doing activities that if the British were doing this and a Western news crew were nearby, they would be in serious trouble.

Testing Notes: Okay, so Skirmish Sangin doesn’t include rules for interrogating captured enemies. There are several probable reasons for this (including the issue we had that certain characters spent most of turn 1 kicking the snot out of an opponent in order to get any info from them. However, thanks to the RPG style system, it was super easy to throw in a morale check and then start providing information that a novice fighter would know whenever the poor devil was being interrogated. This is a potential rule I’m playing around with as part of some civilian interaction additions, but I will be making it an awful lot harder.

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ANP officers move through the shipping containers as they clear the town

The ANP continued to move around clearing buildings and as they checked they found some weapon caches but not much else (although they did cause both of the spotters to swiftly move off the street to prevent their arrest). However, clearing the buildings did reduce places I could make insurgents appear. In order to make the most of this situation, I popped up both a sniper and an RPG team on the outer edge of the town. However, the RPG gunner decided to duck back in the ratlines to avoid death at the hands of the Panther’s GPMG. His assistant moved to a position overlooking a group of ANP heading into an alleyway and managed to spot them. Bringing his AK up, he fired a burst and… hit nothing. Oh dear.

Testing Notes: Ratlines are a useful way of getting troops in place, breaking the frontlines that most players want to setup in any game. Sticking them in buildings is handy way to make the town seem like bad guys are everywhere and clearing buildings becomes a way of preventing them being outflanked.

The response was what you would expect – pretty much everyone who could see the shooter opened up, hitting him with 10 points of damage and knocking him unconscious. The ANP  moved on to start clearing the building the shooter had been on top of in order to prevent it being used as a ratline position. The other ANP group moved up to the final few buildings, sprinting past two IEDs which failed to detonate before running headfirst into a recently arrived machine gunner.

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The Casualty Collection/Holding Pen is setup on the edge of town

At this point the British had parked their vehicle at the town’s entrance and appeared to be setting up a casualty/prisoner collection point, administering aid to the various unconscious fighters.

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Finally, the Taliban fighters appear from the most bizarre of ratlines

The battle was starting to wrap up, and I was running out of time to cause some more damage to the (so far) successful BLUFOR forces. IEDs and booby traps had been failing so far so I decided to deploy my commander and a few other fighters down in the south (including an RPG popping out of the well). My plan was to get them close enough to attempt and arrest and then detonate my last IED. After, of course, I tried to knock out the Panther with an RPG. Sadly he was obviously not happy about having jsut climbed out of a wheel and the rocket spiralled off into the fields. As a response, the GPMG on the Panther swung around on it’s weapon mount and leveled the attacker with a burst of 7.62.

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The Fox appears again! And doesn’t die this time.

While the gunfire banged up and down the open square, the ANP 2IC decided to put pressure on my sniper. The sniper’s response was to dive off the building and make a run for it. Deciding to snapfire, the 2IC put a burst down and did nothing more than spook the guy as he ran past. This did expose the 2IC and left him locked in place, perfect for The Fox (newly arrived via the ratlines) to pop up and drop him with a single shot from his trusty G3.

Down the far end of the street though things were going horribly wrong for me. With one fighter down, another stuck in the street with five morale markers on him and several markers on the commander and his bodyguard, some of the ANP managed to get close and arrest them both (even if it took a while for the commander to actually get it). As the ANP mopped up, both of the snipers on the outskirts manged to merge with the population and disappear away.

At the points tally, BLUFOR wins, thanks to clearing every building and arresting quite a few of the insurgents. Part of the massive win was due to how the points had been awarded by – I was giving away 30pts per building which quick adds up on a dense urban map, in addition to points gained to taking out enemies and finding intel. Although that said, managing to actually arrest the commander was also a pretty big boon.

Final Thoughts:

This scenario has lots of little additional tweaks and really needed a good play. There are a few things I’m going to take away and work on before getting it finished off. Its a different style to many of the other scenarios, with BLUFOR having to react to the moves of the OPFOR while the OPFOR has lots of angles of attack to strike back against the .

As for playing the game, my opponents seemed to really enjoy it. This is kind of the most important thing when playing at the moment – as interesting as it is to be simulating a warzone, playing something that people loose interest in by phase 2 is a terrible thing and almost a waste of an evening’s play.

Looking at the board, I may occasionally be annoyed by all the models I’ve purchase/had to paint but it makes for some great shots. Civilians in particular help to set the scene, especially when you dot a few of the armed guys among them – Eureka have some wonderful sculpts for the Taliban in more static poses, perfect for matching with their civilians. Spectre’s

Also vehciles look cool on the tabletop so it was great to get Evil Bear’s Panther out on the streets of Afghanistan. I’m not 100% on the wash job but I was happy enough to get it on the tabletop. As I write this I have more vehicles ready to be painted, so expect a shift to an imagi-nation soon so I can get my Challenger 2 on to the streets of Bazistan or some other fictional warzone.

Additional Photos:

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“If you play Wonderwall again, I’m throwing you down the well young man”
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Two figures on the rooftop. Enemy fighters or just locals enjoying the view?

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Another view showing the start of the game. Thanks again to SESWC for the awesome terrain
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Some of Eureka’s fantastic ANP figures on the tabletop. Having painted these models specifically for this scenario, I’m really looking forward to getting to use them again!