Megagame Report: Juntas.

Taking inspiration from the classic old board game of the same name (which I still haven’t played yet) Paul put on this megagame in Manchester on the 24th November. The scenario was expanded beyond the premise of the board game to have players taking on the role of the ruling politicos/ families of four fictional 1960/ 1970s South American countries, all of which were centred around the Anaconda basin. Also, there were players representing various multinational corporations trying to exploit the countries natural resources; four 2- person ambassador teams from the major powers (USA/ UK/ France/ USSR), five single player roles were given over to intelligence operators (all with bland names starting with ‘J’) and finally there were two players taking the roles of writers floating about looking for the story of the century. These final two roles were based on Ernest Hemmingway and Paul Theroux.

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The network figures on the abstracted board.

My job on the day was to run the intelligence game, something that I always enjoy doing. The game was a mixture of open and closed maps. There was a map that everyone could see that showed the info that everyone would know but a large amount of the info about the actual state of a country was kept hidden by control. This design philosophy was reflected in the intelligence game. The players had an abstracted map of the area upon which coloured figures were moved that represented local and transnational networks that could be hired to do the intelligence officers bidding. Whilst the players could negotiate and talk to other players in the game pretty freely the only way that they could mechanically interact with the game was through the networks. The hidden information came from the fact that they invested money into each network and only I as intelligence control knew who had invested what and who had ultimate control of each network. The five players were all experienced megagamers and kept me busy all day with some excellent ideas. Of the five roles four were American, and the final one was Soviet. Three of the US players worked quite closely together whilst John, playing a National Security Agency player, acted to type and kept a distance. Daniel as the Soviet was up against it from the start as the others instantly were suspicious of him, furthermore he invested heavily in the worst network in the game meaning that their loyalty to him was only matched by their incompetence in the field. Networks could be tested to see how good they were but that was not really done by many of the players.

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A general view of the hall with the screened off umpires’ section, the open map (bottom right) and the country tables round the edge of the room.

I could tell from turn one that I was going to be in for a busy game as Matt had been planning on the train down to the game, as he told me after the game’s conclusion, for his opening gambit. He wanted to buy a large quantity of heroin to have it at hand to potentially use to destabilise any of the four played countries if it looked like that they were going to move towards socialism/ communism… very CIA. His networks spent a few early turns locating and the purchasing said drugs. Ed was seemingly unhappy with his budget allocation and rather than deal with the paperwork to increase it (which was an in- game option) decided to raise his own slush fund by having his network rob some banks for him. This did wind up the counties no end as it got docked out of their budgets, as Ed’s networks were pretty good he never had an agent captured that might’ve given him away. A couple did go out in a hail of gunshots on the steps of a bank.

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The common knowledge map of the Anaconda basin.

Within the structure of the turn I was busy all the time as I needed to keep my paperwork regarding the networks up to date, thanks are due here to Becky W for helping my out with  cash counting duities. Collate the pieces of information that the intel players were asking for, resolve any other actions then relaying any pertinent info to the relevant country controls. As such I didn’t see much of the game other than that which was through the spy’s lens. John played the slow and steady game, sticking to his brief by infiltrating and bugging each countries’ radio network. This was spotted by the other three American intel players and they did try to spy on John to find out his loyalties. I just told them that they didn’t have a high enough security clearance to have the answer. At this stage of the cold war even the acronym ‘NSA’ was classified, hence its occasional nickname of ‘No Such Agency’.

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A glimpse behind the umpire’s screen where the countries’ actual data was tracked.

Daniels lowly network was nothing but not persistent taking several turns to finally blow up a dam as an act of economic warfare. As he was about to be hunted down to the others as the game drew to a close Daniel did the sensible thing and negotiated for himself a French passport. The heroin did make its way into the game as it was infiltrated, by the troika of US players when a country went over to communism, into a player’s food to make him unwell when it was withdrawn to limit his efficiency. It may have sounded far- fetched but one only has to remember the CIA plots against Cuba’s Castro during this time frame.

All in all it was a busy but very fun day and another solid political- military game by Paul to finish off Pennine Megagames 2018 calendar. The only thing that I would think about changing from my corner of the game would be to have an intel player tied to each ambassador team as it was difficult for the USSR player to do much and the US got a bigger advantage than the others as there were four players supporting that side.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

https://www.penninemegagames.co.uk/

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The latest additions to my 6mm (1/300th) Cold War forces.

I’ve been busy in the shed expanding my Cold War micro armour collection in preparation for a multiplayer game of 5core: Brigade Commander that I am planning.

6mm US

First up with have a mix of US Army vehicles: A Command stand and a company of M1A1s plus extra ATGM, mortars and Vulcan AA cannons mounted on the ubiquitous M113 chassis.

6mm Warthog

To give the US some air support I painted up a A10 Thunderbolt II aka The Warthog. Probably THE close air support aircraft for the Cold War period.

6mm Harrier

For the Brits I have done a Harrier GR3, for a change I decided to do it in the winter camo scheme often seen sported during deployments to Norway.

6mm jaguar

Also for the Brits I’ve painted up a SEPECAT Jaguar, one of my favourite Cold War era jets.

All the models are from Heroics and Ros apart from the infantry that are from Irregular.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

Beating around the Bush (Horizons).

Last week I took a trip with Bill of Under Fire Miniatures to vist his friend Wing Commander Luddite aka Nick to playtest his African campaign/ battle system that he is developing called Bush Horizons. Also it was nice to see the Wing Commander’s model collection and be able to game with it. All models and terrain in the photos are his.

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We were joined by Jerry and Kev to run through a full campaign turn and play out any resulting battles.

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Basically the game was set in a fictional African country sometime in the 1970s/ 1980s. You create an armed/ political party: Kev and I formed B.O.P.M to take on P.R.O.F. run by Bill and Jerry. You then have 40 ‘elements’ to split between 6 different abstracted territories of the country. Once both side have committed their forces for the turn it is revealed to both sides. Any contested areas are played out. If you are massively outnumbered you can always conceed the territory to your opponent.

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Once a battle has been decided upon both side roll a number of D6 equal to the number of elemnts that they committed to that battle to see what actually turns up. These elements are then grouped into units for the battle.

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We managed three battles of various sizes in an afternoon so fighting a campaign to its conclusion wouldn’t take that long.

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The tactical battle system is fast and elegant and gives you a definite result with hte minimum of fuss. I’m looking forward to being able to get another turn of the campaign done.  I’ve not given away too much in terms of the mechanisms of the campaign or battle systems are they aren’t mine to do so with but it would be great to see the rules reach a wider audience someday. Playing the games got me thinking about other, historical, areas it could be used for. The South Africans fighting the Angolans and Cubans wouyld be an obvious one. You could play up the quantity versus quality difference there. Also I thought that the campaign system with a few tweaks would work well for the various wars that have broken out in the area around the Great Lakes, particularly the Kagera War between Tanzania and Uganda (I know its fairly obscure but I’ve been reading a lot of the Helion African at War series recently clicky ).

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Wing Commander Luddite’s 6mm modelling skills are amazing and as the photos show it is something to aspire to. I will try to up my scenery game in 1/300th now.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

Speed paints and a fail from the shed.

I’ve been hit with the painting bug recently so have been trying to get stuff finished off in the shed.

I quickly knocked out these Pegasus Vietnam US marines see review here I really liked them. Good sculpts and a wide range of weaponary being fielded.

vietnam marines

With the recent games of 5core: Brigade Commander that we have all been enjoying I’ve bought some more 6mm/ 1/285th / 1/300th aircraft to add some variety. The most recent ones to be painted up are:

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An IL28 ‘Beagle, model from Scotia Grendel.

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A Su7 ‘Fitter’, again from Scotia Grendel.

skyraider

A Skyraider painted in Vietnam era US Navy colours. Model is from Raiden bought via Magistermilitum when they were getting rid of their stock.

Panther

A Korean War USN era Panther again from Raiden.

f100

Last of the aircraft was an early 1960s USAF F100 Super Sabre, also from Raiden.

 

When I bought the GW 40k Chaos Cultists that I blogged about a bit back I also bought some poxwalkers the Nurgle Zombie type things. In my minds eye I had an idea of what I wanted then to look like… rotting green appendages going into pale sickly looking skin. Accordingly I didn’t think that my usual speed painting methods were suitable so I tried to paint them ‘properly’ you know, washes, shading, highlights and so on. I spent ages on them and I don’t think the end results justify the time invested. I mean they look ok but still a long way from what I wanted to achieve. Still, it serves me right for being clever I guess.

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pox walkers 2

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So for my Van Saar Necromunda gang that I’ve currently got on the painting bench I’ve gone back to my tried and trusted methods….

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

Whoop, Whoop: das Geräusch der Polizei.

(With apologies to KRS-One)

Elhiem Figures has recently released two version of the (in)famous East German Trabant car: one civilian, one police. These are 3D prints and are rather nice, much better than the Shapeways ones I bought several years back.

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The pair of little Trabants.

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Believe it or not over 3 million of them were made.

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This Police one should really have lettering on it but I didn’t fancy trying out my freehand on it so left it off.

Both were painted in acyrlics before being weathered with oil paints. The blue police lights were done with Games Workshops range of gem paints; they look OK but I don’t think they were really worth the extra effort. Still given how little paint I used they should last for years.

 

They make a nice little pair and should be some nice set dressing if I ever set a Cold War game in East as opposed to West Germany.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

Bargain price game mats.

Given the quality job Pix Art Printing clicky did with the game maps for my recent Case Blue megagame I decide that I put some more business their way. Several years ago I bought a few game maps from Wargames Vault clicky with the intention of printing them out onto paper and assembling them as a jigsaw. This didn’t work so well for various reason… but now there is Pix Art I decided to send them there to be printed. Using MS Publisher I added all the images together into one massive file and then waited for a special offer to be on to maximise my savings.

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In the End I got a 130cm by 350cm vinyl at printed for £30 including delivery from Italy.

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I got a 120cm square wasteland mat that will be ideal for any game set in the Middle East/ North Africa, as a point of comparison the going rate for a comparable sized mat by itself seems to be about £25.

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This 120cm by 60cm costal strip will be great for ampibious landing be it in WW2 or the Dark Ages, the textures should work for both 20 and 28mm sized figures.

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I added a few maps from my Print and Play board game collection- here we have maps for the Russo- Japanese War, WW1, fictional WW3 and right up to date with the War in Donbass.

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A slightly smaller urban mat- should be useful for some of the 40K figures I’ve painting recently.

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Finally I printed the map for use in Brian Train’s free urban COIN game: Maracas clicky

 

All in all I’m really pleased with this. They should last for ages and as they are easy to roll storage isn’t a problem either.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

 

Fighting for Angola: FAPLA figures in 20mm.

I have just finished some of Under Fire Miniatures recently released Angolan Government troops [clicky]

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They represent soldiers from the FAPLA (Peoples Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola) who were the armed wing of MPLA (Peoples Movement for the Liberation of Angola) who had fought against the Portuguese up until 1974 when Portugal granted independence to its African colonies. After this MPLA formed a government and started moving Angola to a single party Marxist state. (The Soviet Union/ Warsaw Pact and Cuba send military aid as advisors). This led to a civil war in Angola between the MPLA/FAPLA and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) as well as the FNLA (National Liberation Front of Angola). This ended up as a something of a Cold War proxy battleground between East and West. Furthermore South African forces frequently crossed into Angola due to MPLA’s support of SWAPO (South West African People’s Organisation: a guerrilla force fighting in what is now Namibia against the South Africans). It makes for a rather long and complicated war that didn’t really end untill the 2000s.

With military aid coming from the Warsaw Pact and Cuba I’ve painted the figures to reflect this.

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This group of figures has been painted in a Cuban Lizard pattern camo. They are armed with the usual mix of Soviet weaponary.

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This second smaller group are in the East German Rain pattern (fiddly to do on 20mm figures and the zoom of a digital camera isn’t kind to my so so painting), three of them wear the DDR’s NVA helmet.

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For support they have a Recoilless Rifle.

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As well as a Plamya AGS17 Automatic Grenade Launcher.

 

Great figures that will make for nice opponents to the South Afrtican Defence Force figures I painted some time back.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.