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.

 

Where we are going we need roads….

As you will have seen from past posts I’ve been getting into 6mm ‘Cold War goes hot’ gaming recently. However I’ve been unhappy with roads I’ve used for my games: I just used the thinnest dirt roads from my 20mm collection. Whilst they did the job I’ve been on the look out for a more suitable replacement and after considering a few options I’ve made my own (kind of).

 

Firstly I purchased this rather nice  PDF from Wargames Vault:

http://www.wargamevault.com/product/196057/Roads-1-285

Being multilayered you can selected the different types of road marking and road surfaces before printing them out. I went for European markings and dirty asphalt dry before getting them printed out (Cheers Brian). I then used the technique I had previously utilized to make megagame counters and stuck them on to self adhesive floor tiles (4 for £1). You can get thicker more durable tiles from places other than pound shops but they need to be cut with a blade and ruler rather than scissors that slows down production.

I went from this:

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To this:

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I tidied up the edges and added a bit of weathering with marker pens and pencil crayons to give a bit of variety:

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I did plenty to give enough variety to the road layouts. The vinyl tiles give them a bit of flexibility but I don’t know how well they’ll drape over hills… Gentle slopes should be OK.

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I made up a quick layout so I could see how they look:

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You get a decent selection of parts although I’d have liked to see a single into dual carriage way connector. I grabbed some 6mm toys to see how they scaled (Heroics and Ros based on 50mm and 30mm squares for 5core Brigade Commander):

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Overall I’m really pleased with how they look. I’ll get a game in with them as soon as possible to try them out.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

Some 6mm terrain.

MDF laser cut terrain has really taken off in the wargames world in recent years, I’ve been buying the odd bit for my 20mm collection for a few years now but have only just got round to getting some for my 6mm games.

 

I bought three buildings from Blotz to try. The bigger buildings come in sections and it is a nice touch that you are able to buy ruined levels to have the same building with different levels of destruction.

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Construction was simple enough using PVA glue and following the online instructions. I took my time and let sub assemblies dry before moving on to the next stage. MDF can soak up paint due to its porus natures so the buildings got two coats of spray paint (from pound shop cans) before I went at them with hobby acrylics.

 

Overall I’m impressed with them and will order some more further down the line.

http://blotz.co.uk/

 

I recently pick up some small pieces of 6mm scatter terrain from Leven Miniatures to use as markers and objectives. I went for the fuel dumps, supply dumps and the sandbags.

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The above strips of sandbags are intended to be put just infront of a company base (50mm square for 5core: Brigade Commander) to show that it is dug in. I’ll be after a few more bits from Leven next time I see them at a wargames show.

http://www.levenminiatures.co.uk/

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

 

Tauregs.

Fresh from the painting bench we have this small group of 20mm Tauregs.

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They are from what was previously Force 20 miniatures, they seem to have (as of 1st July this year) changed their name to Covert Intervention Games. Either way they are available through Elhiem Figures.

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The Tauregs are an interesting tribal people who ancestral land crosses the borders of several modern African nation in the trans Sahara area. Periodically they have launched a war for self determination or at least increased right. However the latest uprising saw on of the major factions becoming allied to Al Qaeda. The French intervention in Mali Operation Serval was in part linked to the latest Taureg rebellion.

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Finding information is pretty hard on them, as much as it pains me to say it Wikipedia is as good a starts as any, it was through there I become aware of a few different scholarly articles that I got hold of that gave good info on the late 20th century Taureg Rebellions.The fall out from the Lybian civil war has left a lot of their lands in a state of perpetual low level warfare as this Vice documentary shows:

https://news.vice.com/video/libyas-quiet-war-the-tuareg-of-south-libya?utm_source=vicenewsfb

Either way my figures will be making they way on to the table top in games of Black Ops/ Chain Reaction/ Force on Force as I use gaming to try and make sense of this latest geopolitical development.

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

 

 

 

Napoleonic Wargaming for fun and Little Cold Wars- book reviews.

As I enjoyed my short stint as Napoleon so much in the Pennine Megagame’s Jena 1806 (see an earlier post) I decided to pick up a copy of Paddy Griffith’s Napoleonic Wargaming for Fun from the History of Wargaming Project. Whilst it is really not my period (other than a fondness for the Ridley Scott film The Duellists and subsequent desire to do a retreat from Moscow skirmish campaign) I was intrigued by the inclusion in the book of high level games hence my purchasing of it.

The late Paddy Griffith seems to have a reputation in gaming circles as something of an iconoclast famously and publicly swearing off miniatures gaming sometime in the 80’s. This book (the HoWP being a reprint) pre dates that proclamation as half of the book deals with miniatures games; that it was republished within his lifetime implies to me that he still saw some worth in what he wrote and he was not as dogmatic as his reputation at times suggested.

As alluded to earlier the book is a compilation of seven rule sets all on the theme of Napoleonic land warfare, they cover different scales of engagement, starting with the skirmish level, passing through, brigade, division and army level, all of which are miniatures games the book concludes with a generalship game, Kreigspiel and advice on TEWTs (Tactical Exercises Without Troops). It was these last three I was interested in. Not that I am giving up on miniatures, I’m still keen on the toy soldiers but for one thing I’ve not got the space for a giant collection in another period. Rather I’m wanting to use the Napoleonic Wars to add a bit of variety to my gaming.

Dealing with the first four sets of rules first they are very straightforward games, interestingly it is noted that apart from a few special circumstances/ theatres there is not that much scope for little actions within the Napoleonic period and even Brigade and Divisional actions are best assumed to be part of a much larger action. Being honest this middle part doesn’t interest me much. My gaming interests lie at either extreme, the larger extreme being adequately covered by the Army game, also the shortest of the four miniatures rules. Indicative of the time it was written perhaps is the fact that you would still have a multitude of little bases to move about. If I were to dabble at this level in 6mm I’d want to have more figures representing a higher formation to speed play. In any event this rules set would form an ideal starting point.

Following on from this is my favourite part of the book: the generalship game. Essentially it is a time management roleplay where you have to plan your day as a general running a campaign against an opponent who is doing the same. I’d love to use this system to re run the Jena campaign, also the example used in the book, I think it is eminently possible, maybe as a PBEM too.

The nineteenth century origins of Kriegspiel are well known enough now for me to not detail them further. Unsurprisingly playing the 1824 Kriegspiel is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time but like many things remains on my gaming wishlist Paddy Griffith’s notes and observations makes me want to get organised and put on a game. Any pointers as to where I could get the blocks to play the game with would be much appreciated.

The final section deals with yet another part of gaming that I want to try but have yet to do so a TWET, essential a country walk with a moderated battle taking place in the participant’s mind’s eye(s). It has a similar heritage to the Kriegspiel in that it originated as a training technique for nineteenth century officers, known then as a staff ride. I think how ever I shall wait until someone offers to run one of these locally as I fear any attempt to dive in at the deep end myself and run one would be a little beyond me.

Overall the book is ideal for those wanting a little more from gaming, I think that in today’s hobby market the miniatures rules themselves are unlikely to get any new adherents, the market is not structured in that way. However they still have worth as examples of rule sets written by a professional (i.e., holds a PHD in History) historian rather than an enthusiastic amateur, not to belittle the latter rather I want to highlight the different viewpoint that the (rarer) professional historian who also writes rules brings. In gaming as well as his academic work Paddy Griffith wasn’t afraid to follow his convictions even if they went against the orthodoxy (at this point I’ll recommend his ‘Forward in to Battle’).

On a completely different tack but in the same order I bought a copy of Little Cold Wars: Wargaming the Cold War using Toy Soldiers by Tim Gow and Betrand Plastique. This rule set takes a nostalgic and delightfully whimsical approach to the often technologically obsessed genre of Cold War gaming. Channelling HG Wells the authors have developed hybrid of a floor game with toy soldiers to the warm glow of remembering a childhood living under the bomb. Eschewing dice for all but the Close Combat mechanisms Little Cold Wars sees a mix of scales (1/35th for toy soldiers, 1/48th for vehicles, 1/72nd for aircraft) do battle by matchstick firing cannon, dropping darts into targets and throwing scrunched up bits of paper. The thing is it really works, I can vouch for this having played an early playtest version of the rules.

Early hobby gaming all started out by using physical props to determine the results of combat, it was not until after WW2 that the dice rolling obsession took hold. It is really pleasing to see a return to these mechanisms are carefully put together is a game that relies on two lots of nostalgia, not that any gamers alive today would have played any HG Wells style games pre war so that nostalgia at least is vicarious. Being 11 and just starting at secondary school when the Berlin Wall was opened I am probably amongst the youngest gamers who remember the Cold War with any clarity, I’d be interested as to what a millennial would make of Little Cold Wars. My uncle was in the Army in Berlin at the time it was knocked down and brought a piece back for me which I still have.

[A little piece has broken off from the larger lump which gave me the idea to crush it up and mix it with plaster to create a scale model of a section of the wall to have a physical link to the place on the table top]

Either way it is a game I want to play myself, albeit all in 20mm, though I need to assemble a few props and toy cannon… and buy some silly hats… I just wish I still had my DDR flag too.

Both books are available here:

http://www.wargaming.co/

Cheers,

Pete.

Alternative DPM and UK Militia.

I have recently finished a small batch of figures from Under Fire Miniatures. The first lot were inspired by pictures I saw of British infantry wearing blue coloured DPM, apparently they have been issued for OPFOR purposes at BATUS (British Army Training Unit Suffield) in Canada. As I had some spare 2010 Helmand British that were surplus to requirements I knocked up this section.

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Bill of Under Fire is in the midsts of developing a future timeline called Reiever ’25 as a setting for some civil distrubance in the UK games. The work so far can be found here:

http://www.underfireminiatures.com/page2.htm

The first new releases to support this are a pack each of armed civies for countryside and urban enviroments.

First up the Urban pack- all youthful armed with Pistol, Shotgun and MP5s:

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Then we have the countryside pack, more older gents, with the possible exception of the AWOL squaddie. They come with 2 SA80s, a Lee Enfield sniper and a hunting rifle.

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I look forward to seeing the project expanded upon and some scenarios released too.

 

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.