A first try at 5core Skirmish (3rd Edition).

I, like most wargamers I think, am never 100% fully satisfied with any given rule set and so I go through stages of tweaking bits, rewriting others or adding bits in. Also I’m always keen to try a new set of rules to see if the grass is greener on the other side. The obvious answer would be to write my own set but that is always easier said than done.

Given how much I and the others have enjoyed playing Nordic Weasel’s 5core Brigade Commander rules in 6mm I decided to pick up one of their skirmish sets from Wargames Vault and give it a go.

I grabbed what was handy fromthe shed and Brian and I had a quick run through of the rules. I set up a 4 by 4 table (I’ll say here that we played with all measurements doubled) to look a bit like Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). The light green patches were  bits of scrub, mid green defined the edge of woods.

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Brian got 2 four man teams of RLI each with 3 FN FALs and 1 FN MAG:

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Whereas I got 10 assorted ZANLA (5 AK, 2 SKS, 2 PPSh, 1 RPD), all of the figures were from Under Fire Miniatures.

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My ZANLA move up the left flank.

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Whilst others advance into the kraal.

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The RLI move into position at the edge of the woods, this was just before we found out how powerfully an FN MAG is.

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We used a lot of counters (Green= hidden, Orange= fired, White= Panic, Red= Knocked Down, blood splat= out of action) I know that is not to all gamer’s tastes but for me function follows form if it for the sake of game play.

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RLI advancing through the scrub on the ZANLA right flank.

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In my last two turns I managed to combine a scurry followed by a fire fight; I got my men into position weathered the return fire then was in a good place to shoot. I took a few casualties (4 out of the fight) but I gave the RLI a bloody nose (2 out of the fight) which historically they would have found hard to countenance.

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First impression on the game were overwhelmingly positive from both of us- clear rules and it played nice and quickly too, ideal for a mid- week evening. The mechanisms are very similar to the brigade level game but feel right for a smaller level of play. Having three reserve activation dice to use throughout the game is a nice feature, standing in for the asset cards in Brigade Commander. The RLI didn’t do as well as they should have, even with the tactical advantage, but if we re run the scenario I’ll add in some skills to boost their performance. I wanted to keep things simple for a first run through.

The only two minor quibbles would be how to have assault and bolt action rifles on the table at the same time. We decided to just treat the AKs and FN FALs as infantry rifles and the SKS as a single shot rifle to provide some differentiation.

Also I’d have like to see some rules for medics too – but that can be easily house ruled (and that takes us back to the top of the post).

I’m very taken with the set and am already planning future games as well as tie ins with our 6mm Cold Wars games in a mini campaign.

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

Russo- Japanese Naval- a new project.

There is nothing as much fun as a new project is there?

 

This time I’ve decided to start a naval project based around the Russo- Japanese War. Simon ( http://lestradesgame.blogspot.co.uk/ ) has gone for the slightly earlier Sino- Japanese War so there should be some crossover potential for our model collections. We both bought the appropriate starter packs from Tumbling Dice’s relatively new 1/2400th Battleships range. With the aim of fighting out the bigger actions of both wars as well as running campaign games. Simon has done some work already on the Sino- Japanese one.

I was really impressed with the little model ships. A bit tricky to assemble with regards to what goes where as it is a new period to me but fortunately I had a book in my library that had some good line drawing of the major ships. The contents of the RJW war Japanese starter pack looks like this:

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The corresponding Russian one looks like this:

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The ships were based on plasticard textured with a thick acrylic paste stippled on to look like water. Drybrushed up I think it looks quite effective. Finding the right colour schemes for the ships has proved to be somewhat difficult as a lot of the information is contradictory. In the end, I decided to base my paint selections on the information from this site:

 

http://www.wtj.com/store/index_paint_guide_hist-paint.html

 

I have two sets of rules for the period, both from A and A Game Engineering, Tsushima and Fire When Ready. Tsushima seems the simpler of the two and will allow for the large actions that we want to game to be played out quickly so with have decided to go with that set for the time being. Fire When Ready does have some excellent scenarios in its back pages which I intend to work through.

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We have had a few games now and seem to be getting the hang of the rules. With all naval games, I’ve played there is an element of book keeping but it is kept to a minimum with only hull hits and weapons mount losses being recorded. Combat resolutions is mainly by D10 but a variety of different sided Dice are used to determine gun damage dependant on range. The Japanese vessels are qualitatively better than the Russian equivalents but the Russian ships pack more torpedoes on which can allow for a lucky shot and getting a disabling critical hit. Cruisers are pretty tough until they get hit by a battleships’ main 12” guns at which point they look like they are made of tinfoil. In the games that we have played they have been the only actual sinkings, although the battleships have usual mutually damaged each other by game’s end.

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I got Evan to play a game too and he seemed pretty taken with them so that is good.

 

To move the project forward I intend to get the Battleships and Cruisers at least and maybe the destroyers too for the Battle of the Yellow Sea and Tsushima. A lot of the Japanese ships can be used for both which is handy. It should give me something to work towards for the rest of the year. I’ll add a few islands to the list too to give the table a bit of character (the ones in the photos are Evan’s).

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

6mm Cold War game report. Part2- the game.

Following straight on from the last post:

After due consideration Brian decided to place his forces as below, all of the companies dug in or taking cover as appropriate.

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Evan decided to have a broad advance, mixing the little mechanised infantry in and amongst his tanks. After his first turn, which he elected to take as a Scurry, his dispositions and intentions looked like this:

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In 5core Brigade Commander a D6 is rolled at the start of a players turn: on a 1 the turn is a Scurry (all can move) on a 2-5 it is a standard turn (1 unit in 3 may activate) on a 6 it is a Firefight (all may shoot).

Evan put most of his effort into his right flank. A high number of activations (using his assets well) meant that he encircled the bottom wood.

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At this point Brian rolled a Scurry turn and used it to withdraw from what would have been a heavy attack. Evan then took up the positions that the Soviets had vacated.

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Focussing on the centre and his left flank Evan moved forward and occupied the hills for a commanding position.

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As you can see Brian has started to lose his units. Unfortunately this seemed to be the high water point of the West German advance. Brigade Commander uses two different dice in its combat system, Shock dice produce morale results and Kill dice produce the losses (we just use blue and red dice respectively. Basically for the remainder of the game Brian was spectacularly lucky with his shock dice. As soon as Evan tried to advance Brian’s units firing on overwatch would send them scurrying back to which ever spot of cover they tried to emerge from. Thematically you could explain this by the fact that the West German forces were deeply unsettled by the Soviet offensive so much so their counter attack went in at something far below peak efficiency. Mechanically Brian just rolled a lot of 6s on the blue dice.

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Though he was pushed back in the West German right flank Brian’s units did not break completely. Still inflicting losses on Evan.

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Whilst artillery is very potent in the game, as it should be in a game at this level, it did not shift that many of Brian’s units out of their cover, it really wasn’t Evan’s night. That the right flank took all of his attention he failed to breakthrough at all in the centre of left.

With the attack completely stalled and the time getting late we decided to call the game.

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It was a hard-fought game and at time a little frustrating for Evan his plan was sound but Brian’s luck was seemingly endless. Still next week will see the 6mm forces take to the table again, we shall see what happens.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

 

 

6mm Cold War game report. Pt1 the set up.

Earlier this week I umpired a game of 5core: Brigade Commander (by Nordic Weasel) for Evan and Brian.

I knocked up the following generic scenario:

Soviet Briefing.

Date: 1984.

Location: The Former West Germany.

Situation: The attack into Germany has gone well but the focus has shifted from our sector. Hold the line in the face of the counter attack.

Victory Conditions: Control the North/ South Road.

Initial deployment: Set up any where within 18” of the North/ South road.

Special Rules: The weather is bad until informed otherwise. Max visibility is 24”. No aircraft can fly.

Forces:

HQ Coy.

6 BMP Motor Rifle Coys.

2 Tank (T64 no ERA) Coys.

1 ATGM Coy (may be split into 2 attachments at your discretion).

2 AA Aetachments.

1 Light Recce Attachment.

1 Heavy Recce Attachment

1 Engineer Attachment.

You have the following Assets:

1 one use Stonk

1 Persistent Stonk

1 Persistent Deception

1 one use Shock Operations

1 one use Communications jamming

West German Briefing.

Date: 1985.

Location: West Germany.

Situation: The Soviet offensive seems to have stalled, now is the time to counter attack to regain some lateral movement.

Victory Conditions: Secure the North/ South Road.

Initial deployment: Enter from your board edge.

Special Rules: The weather is bad until informed otherwise. Max visibility is 24”. No aircraft can fly.

Forces:

HQ Coy.

8 Leopard 2 Coys.

6 Marder/ infantry Coys.

2 Heavy Recce Attachments

2 AA Attachments.

3 Engineer Attachments.

You have the following Assets:

2 one use Stonks.

1 persistent Stonk.

1 persistent Intel advantage

1 persistent Coordination

1 one use Shoot and Scoot

1 one use Tactical Withdrawal.

This was the set up:

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Whilst we were discussing possible games a bit back Brian made the suggestion to make cards to to played for the assets. These assets are one of my favourite parts of the rule set as they allow you to add a large degree of differentiation between the forces. While a big advantage of the system is that it takes a relative approach to vehicle performance it does mean that some units feel a bit generic. An hour or so on the PC saw these knocked up. I printed them onto thin card then put them in the sleeves that Collectable Card Gamers use.

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Next will be the pictures from the game itself.

Cheers,

Pete.

Black Ops game Report.

Over the past two weeks I ran a game of Black Ops for Brian and Evan, they took the role of the SOF troops whilst I plumpired the opposition. The first week was taking up with planning whilst in the second week we played the scenario out.

I created an 80 point force using the fanatic list and prepared the following briefing for Evan and Brian:

Target for tonight: The Bomb maker.

Coalition Briefing

Date: 2009.
Location: Afghanistan, Helmand Province.
Situation: Recent attacks on coalition troops have been shown to be the work of a new IED maker recently arrived in the area from the Pakistan tribal areas. SIGINT has pinpointed his location and a SOF raid has been authorised to remove him.
Victory Conditions: Kill the Bomb maker.
Intel/ Suspected Enemy: The bomb-maker has been using a large walled compound as his factory before moving the IEDs to the local Taliban for planting. Drone surveillance has shown that when the target is present the facility is guarded by 6-8 fighters but his group may be as 18.

Forces:

You have 80 points to spend from the Special Ops list. Decided on the forces you want, the style of attack and the time of day.

 

I also made a rough sketch map of the table I intended to use. Brian and Evan took a hour or so to make up their forces to a combined total of 80 points.

Brian went for an NCO (Ace) with a silenced PDW (fancy new SMG) who had the linguist and B+E skills and two Soldiers (Jacks) one with an Auto Shotgun, the team medic, and the final one with a suppressed Assault Rifle, who was the demolitions specialist.

Evan took and NCO (Ace) with an Assault Rifle and Under barrel grenade launcher, a Soldier (Heavy, King) with a GPMG and a Soldier (Jack) with a suppressed Designated Marksman Rifle. Given that Evan’s team was to play a supportting role he elected not to buy any skills.

Both players agreed on a night attack so equipped the entire force with Night optics.

Here we took a week’s break, waiting till the next game night to play the raid out. This gave me a some time to paint up a few extra figures we needed for the game.

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The table set up for the game. The wall was considered to be contiguous and over head height with only one gate at the top middle of this photo. The guards are arranged around the compound with the balance of the forces split between the main centre building and the double building on the right.

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Another view of the table. Both Brian and Evan’s troops entered from the right hand side amongst the hills.

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Brian’s figures enter the table.

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The random moves of the guards kept both players movement cautious.

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Basic overview of the game and each players route to the main compound.

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Both NCO’s link up before beginning to clear the first building.

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The Demolitions expert pre places a breaching charge before joining the two NCOs.

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One of the guards wonders rather close to the two NCOs. In a bit of roleplaying Brian tries to get his linguist to call out to the guard to entice him closer. It’s a good idea but the role fails. Plan B is to quickly kill him then drag him inside.

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All four figures have no entered the first building. The stealth rules are still in effect as the guards haven’t noticed that there is one missing from their number.

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One of the guards is more observant than the others and notices Evan’s NCO lurking by a window and shots are exchanged. The guards spring into action and now come under umpire control. In the intial exchanged of fire the fanatics come out very badly.

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Between the figures in the building and the DMR on the hill the guards fair badly. They do manage to get a shot on target and take down one of Brian’s soldiers. The medic stabalizes the wound but he’ll play no further part in the game. Four more fighters rush from the building to try and take out Evan’s NCO. All they do is provide so easy target practise for the GPMG. A fanatic PKM in the doorway tries to suppress the SOF troops as much as possible (the black counters) to try and help out the group of four joing the fight. Given he had no optics he could suppress the main threat which was the GPMG on the far hill.

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With all the fanatics in the courtyard either dead of cowering Brian moves his figures up to the main building and deals with the PKM gunner

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Entering the main building two more fanatics who escaped the fire of the GPMG are seen lurking in an inner courtyard, still no sign of the bomb maker mind.

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As they move to engage a burst of AK fire down’s Brian’s medic with a fatal wound. Evban’s NCO can just be seen advancing in from the bottom of the shot.

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Finally cornered in a side room the bomb maker meets his end. By this stage of the game Evan’s DMR armed Soldier has entered the compound via the pre placed demo charge.

The final score was all but one of the fanatics taken out for one killed and one wounded amongst the Coalition SOF troops.

The game went really well. so much that I am planning a follow up game from the intel collected from the compound. There are a few clarifications regarding the stealth rules that we would like but overall this first proper scenario was a great success.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

 

6mm Cold War Fun.

The Cold War is one of those periods of history that has long fascinated me. Not least because of all the ‘what if?’ possibility. I’ve been gaming the skirmish possibilities using 20mm fora while now and have fancied looking at the larger picture for a while but have not wanted to get bogged down in all the tech heavy detail that the 80s style ruleset revelled in (looking at you Challenger 2000 and Corps Commander). Fortunately I hit upon the Nordic Weasel ruleset ‘5core: Brigade Commander’. The rules were bought as a PDF and the relevant bits were printed out; in a moment of sense I cut out some counters to try the rules before I commited to anything.

 

The game works great. A weak Soviet divisional attack on a weak British Brigade was played out in well under three hours. Very abstracted but enough flavour there to get and keep your interest. So I dusted off some old H&R 6mms I’ve had for 15 years or so and repainted them- Soviets and USA. I then picked up some 2nd hand terrain and Evan bought himself some West Germans. With our 80% completed forces we had a game to see how things were looking…

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The table- packing and masking tape stood in for roads, felt and lichen for woods and plastic card textured and painted makes the extend of BUA.

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My forces: 3 companies of Mechanized infantry, 9 companies of armour with a HQ base (the BMP2s) and 2 recon and 2 AA attachments.

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Evan had a similar mix or armour and infantry.

We have gone for 50mm squares for company bases and 30mm square for attachments.

I borrowed some of Bill’s superb collection of 1/285th GHQ aircraft for the game as well.

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It was just a simple encounter game so we both advanced to meet each other- Evan got to the best positions quickly with two scurry moves in a row.

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I tried to get a strong defence on my flanks by placing tank companies in the edge of the woods.

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In the centre the mech infantry didn’t suffer too well.

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Neither in the end did the flanks when the Tornado turned up.

 

At this point I conceded as I was losing units far quicker than I could get my reserves up to fill the gaps so I had been pretty much out manouvered.

All in all we are all very excited with the rule set. Plenty of scope to make plans for future projects too. Look out for more in the coming months.

 

Cheers,

Pete.

 

Black Ops rules review and playtest.

Whilst I attended the recent Fiasco show (great to meet up with a few people but the show wasn’t great- not a good look when a third of your demo/ participation tables are no shows…) I picked up a few bits including the new Black Ops rules from Osprey.

Written by Guy Bowers and subtitled ‘Tactical Espionage Wargaming’ it is in the common ‘Men at Arms’ sized format and is clearly designed to bring the feel and flavour or many FPS PC games to the table top.

By the Tuesday following the show I had read through the rules and decided to run a couple of quick games to test the rules.

I’m not a fan of points in games; there is nothing wrong with in principle but their mere inclusion in a set of rules brings out the worst in a significant minority of gamers who represent the antithesis of my preferred gaming style. Still I created two roughly equal sides from the extensive faction lists: One a conscript squad the other a 4 man SOF team and got the table set up.

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The first game was a quick encounter game to get the basics of activation, movement and firing worked out.

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The game is run using a deck of cards- much like the old Arc of Fire rules that I’ve played lots of but with types of figure activated on each card rather than discreet units. Movement and activations are simple and firing is just rolling over the required hit number.

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As a basic skirmish game the rules work well enough, not better or worse than other comparable sets really though I would have preferred a bit more friction in the activation system. However that is not the rule sets raison d’etre so I reset the table to run a stealth mission.

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Here the rules really came into their own with wandering guards and noise token which had to be minimised by the raiding player to avoid raising the alarm- though I’d like to see the noise list extended. This style of game is great fun and I can see it being played a lot in the coming months here, especially as I’ve plenty of figures and terrain that are suitable and ready to be used.

My only real criticism of the rules is that I thought the close combat system is a bit weak and breaks down quickly when you have a large melee. I will say however that I’ve yet to find a close combat system in any set of skirmish rules that I’ve really thought was good.

The rules seem to be marketed as a Science Fiction set but in reality they are really decent set of modern i.e. 21st century skirmish rules, the SF parts only really amount to one small table of extra equipment. Equipment that in the most part can be found in prototype form currently.

Cheers,

Pete.