Sangin – What’s New?

Yes, as previously announced, the next version of Skirmish Sangin is coming. Titled simply Sangin, with an updated subtitle, this product is designed as an evolution of the first game – keeping some of the core concepts while making it play a little more smoothly. To begin the playtesting process, Dishdash Games have put up an alpha version of the rules, letting everyone start playing and take a look. You can find it on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/716296198947496/permalink/762611367649312

To play my part in this testing, I’m going to be putting up a few posts as I work through it, especially once my foray into the North African desert is over and my Regular Opponent is dragged into the uplands of Bazistan for some counter-insurgency patrols.

But before we begin the actual playing, lets talk through some of the major changes. All of these are using screenshots from Playtest Version 1.5.4. As a heads up, I’ll be using Skirmish Sangin and V1 for the original game, and Sangin and V2 for the playtest rules.


New Character Card

Image from Sangin V2 – version 1.5.4

This is going to be a brand new post to itself but the classic character sheet is gone. Instead, we have a much leaner, much more active character sheet. Damage is designed to be marked off as it’s taken, there are far fewer percentages to keep track of and the bar at the bottom and top of the sheet are described as best to be used with a pin or paperclip.

Even better, the character card is designed to fit 8 to a standard sized piece of paper so you only need to print out a page for a regular British Army section.

And yes, there are already changes afoot if you look close enough. We’ll get to them in a second.


Updated Force Creation Process

Image from Sangin V2 – version 1.5.4

Again this will be a full post by itself (once I’ve read through it more), but force creation has been tweaked to allow for a little bit more structure. There is a cool new mechanic about generating squad points to lets you spend on adding additional bits of kit.


Skills and Classes/Templates

In the original Skirmish Sangin, you picked your character’s rating (now expanded to include civilians), rolled up their body rating, rolled up their skills and then picked from a number of packages to fine-tune your soldiers. You had to break out the calculator to create ALL the skills on the character sheet and even then it was hard to theme soldiers quite as well.

In Sangin, there are now templates. These function to both give you starting values for a soldier and also define costs and skillsets. Certain templates will have additional skills (such as the NCO and the new Command skill) or including skews towards their specialisations, speeding up the creation process.

Additionally, the list of skills covers more than just shooting guns – two I especially find interesting are Interpreter and Combat Medicine. These are not covered in this specific version of the rules but I look forward to their arrival in the next update.


Initiative

Yep, the singular body value is gone, died before it had a chance to activate. Instead, the new Initiative value has come to the table, generated during character creation and affected by body armour. Functionally, it does a very similar task but is separated out from the basic skills. No need to worry about the person activating last being a complete chump.


Tempo

The big new addition is Tempo. Tempo is basically a new resource to represent your characters gaining momentum as they do well, allowing them to push themselves slightly further than most other soldiers. Either by starting the mission with it or by gaining it by rolling well, tempo points can then be spent on doing actions such as Reacting to Contact, Interrupting an opponent’s actions or even gaining an additional AP. It also lets your soldiers interact with each other, helping to clear friendly soldiers of suppression through Leadership or assist them by Mentoring them.

Tempo, I think, is huge. Tempo is going to let your characters become even more unique and even more powerful. You’re going to have a lot more of those dramatic moments, the stories you tell after the game is over – the NCO who rallied his squad-mate to fire the critical shot, the team who, surrounded by MGs, managed to react to contact so well that not a single one of them took a hit. I’m looking forward to taking another look at this mechanic, especially once I get it on the tabletop.


Command

Tied to Tempo is Command. With your NCOs and Leaders, characters with the Command skill can use it to generate Tempo, increasing the effectiveness of the force. This tempo can then be passed out to fellow soldiers nearby, helping to keep up the momentum of your operation.

Combining these two additions together, there is now a greater need for command characters to, rather than simply being a fighter with better morale, do what they should be doing in a combat action – commanding their soldiers!


New Action List

Image from Sangin V2 – version 1.5.4

The core of the game is still the 3AP per activation and the list of actions. All our old favourites are here (including a nice speed boost for anyone not wearing body armour) but there have been some tweaks.

  • You no longer pick between Crouching and going prone, instead just Going Firm instead.
  • All of the actions are now properly detailed, including specifics for tweaks (such as entering/exiting buildings)
  • Focus is the new name for the loose rule of “spend extra AP for a 10% boost”. And now it provides +20%!
  • Attack and Clear Jam/Reload are now variable cost – some weapons are going to need a bit more time to use effectively and then get back online
  • Suppression… I’ll cover this more later.

Shooting

Shooting is mostly the same routine as last time but with a few little tweaks. Spotting is still required but actually taking the shot depends on the weapon used – heavier infantry weapos

Image from Sangin V2 – version 1.5.4

Once you start shooting, the new combat modifiers table is much shorter than in V1, with much less maths needed. Cover and elevation has been simplified.

Then when you actually land the shot, the person on the other end now actually gets a chance to react (if they have the tempo) or simply hit the deck, take as much damage as is rolled based on a weapon’s firepower dice and roll for suppression.

Additionally, automatic and explosive weapons have had their rules clarified. Now, both have Templates, using the idea of Kill zone and Damage zone to let you spread out your attacks.


SUPPRESSION

So Suppression/Morale is a key part of wargaming and had a very particular feel in Skirmish Sangin, throwing down markers that stopped you playing properly until you solved them. This worked, but it was definitely an all or nothing approach – you’d have markers or you were fine.

V2 nows moves suppression to a floating value, using the chart on the character card. It still has an effect (-10% to each skill for every level of suppression) but now you can still keep fighting through it. At the same time, suppression is also much more varied – rather than a marker for each shot on you, you instead roll the number of dice from a weapon’s firepower rating and then see how many actually beat your experience modifier. This means that elites have a 50/50 chance of beating a firepower dice, showing their nature. This change also reduce the number of additional dice rolls – instead, as you gain suppression, you hit ratings that force behaviour, going firm and getting pinned.

Luckily, you have ways of recovering from suppression. From spending tempo to motivate another soldier to using an action point to get yourself together there are plenty of positive actions to take to get a trooper back online. However, you also slowly recover a little at the end of an activation. This is where sticking to cover and close to friendlies comes in handy.


Buildings and CQB

There seems to be a lot more details about fighting in and around buildings than I remember in V1. As well as detailing about moving in them and between the sections, there are now lots more details about causing havoc getting in there. Enter and Exit actions can now include adjustments for breaking through locked doors (with or without the correct tools).

There are also rules for stacking up on a CQB situation. Currently this is the only bit of rule that activates multiple soldiers at once and once again uses Tempo, keeping that theme of it giving your force more momentum.

The rest of the CQB rules seem pretty familiar (although the modifiers now give you a reason to use a SMG over an assault rifle) but there is a lot more details to them (helped by various example and edge cases being covered). I need to take another read but I think CQB actions will end up being much more interesting.


Target Reference Points

A neat addition, TRPs add to the mission planning of scenarios. You can mark out key locations where the enemy might be and then prepare your forces for possible contacts in that area by letting shooters ignore the spotting rules for targets in that area. The fact you place it during deployment and tell both sides means that it might actually let you put pressure on your opponent before the game even starts – pushing figures out of key overwatch positions based on careful placement and making key chokepoints even more dangerous.

I will need to take a look at this in several games to see how it works but I like it on first reading.


Fumble Chart

Image from Sangin V2 – version 1.5.4

Yep, its still here. Changed to the new rules and if you roll on it you end activation right away as well as the effect. Some of these are pretty nasty – losing all your tempo mid-mission is probably going

The D100 is still here!

Yep, the king of dice is still alive and part of the game. I think it plays a key part in the feel of the system and I’m glad it’s still here.


There are a lot of other smaller changes throughout but these are the big ones I noticed. The main thing is that everything feels a little smoother, a few less random dice rolls in strange places or unneeded maths. It’s definitely got the same tactical feel, but now with a better coat of paint.

I am very excited to get this on the table, and will probably try a few solo games before I put my opponent up against it. I’ll also be continuing this series, covering my findings as I play and detailing other additions as they are added.

Painting Space Marines – Finding the Scheme

I didn’t get up to much painting over the break (catching up on sleep and a little bit of prep-work took up my time). However, I did manage to get around to painting up one of my squad of Deathwatch Intercessors (that I assembled for some Killteam play over 18 months ago).

I decided pretty early on that I didn’t want to paint the normal Deathwatch pattern. Partially because I’d rather avoid having to hunt down/use transfers and partially bevause it saves me painting different coloured shoulders. The other side to this is that I’m not 100% sold on running them as Deathwatch. From my reading of the rulebook, not being a core space marine means missing out on some of the cool toys, especially as I’m only really interested in collecting the big marines (the normal Tactical Marines look too much like Marinelets at this point).

So instead, I’ve come up with my own chapter “The Punished”. Their arms painted red to match their chapter master (and because I’m a MGS V fan), their decorated left shoulder a sign of veterancy, I’ll be adding more to the lore for these guys. For now, here is the basic paint plan:

  • Black Undercoat
  • Black armour
  • Left shoulder – Natural Steel
  • Left arm – Natural Steel then  carmine red
  • Left shoulder – Black
  • Rim + skulls – Game colour 72.034
  • Pouches – Mahogany Brown

Painting space marines is different from painting all my modern troops. For one thing, they are much larger, meaning all the details are larger as well. There are also much more large flat or rounded areas, without the texture for my usual techniques to use. However, I’m looking forward to painting the rest of them up!

Chain of Command – Attack on Al-Papsi: Part 1

With it seeming like we’re settling in for a long time of dealing with coronavirus-related limitations, I decided to attempt to get out and play some games. I’m not quite ready to risk playing at a club (mostly because I need to find a new one). However, due to being back in England and within a reasonable distance (40 minute drive) of my Dastardly Regular Opponent in York, we decided some socially distanced gaming was in order. After some careful prep/planning, we were able to play.

However, the question was what to play – both of us have collections we were interested in playing with. But eventually, we settled on some desert Chain of Command, 8th Army vs DAK in 1941. This, along with my Dastardly Regular Opponent reading up on the period, eventually mutated to a cunning plan… a campaign.

As my Dastardly Regular Opponent has been writing this campaign up, I’ll let him provide the details (you can see above). However, I’ll add that I decided to play as the Afrika Korps, rather than my usual British. Why? Well, I’m already incredibly used to how the British platoon works and wanted to try using the dual MGs, less integrated support. Even better, I’ll eventually get a hand on my some of the German Steel – I have already been sending him Flak 88 links so I have something to hammer his Matilda tanks.

So Mission 1 saw the British probing the Axis defences before eventually pushing through the first line of defences. Despite being the defender, I managed to be quite aggressive in the patrol phase but then remained static when the shooting started. Instead, I should have pushed harder, grabbing the centre and becoming a real threat to keep the carriers away. I was also pretty stuck with the lack of AT, which really hampered my attempts to keep them away. My single point of support was a bit of a kick in the junk!

So next time (in two weeks or so), I’ll have to deal with the British pushing into the suburbs. Hopefully, I’ll be able to lock them down more easily in a semi-urban environment and HOPEFULLY hold them off until the relief force (and its armour) arrives. Also hopefully before the British Matilda starts to roll around.

Wargaming Week is Over

You might have seen that there hasn’t been a Wargaming Week for the past few weeks and the ones that have arrived are… lacking something. I’ll admit, the fervour that I once had for modern wargaming has pretty much dried up. I can blame this partially on some of the mental health issues I’ve been working through but I’m finding it incredibly difficult to give a damn about writing the once a week update post, especially when the hobby section is nothing more than a reminder of my lack of progress and the news posts are just not that exciting to see.

Frankly, and to stand on my soapbox for a bit, I’m finding there isn’t actually very much exciting news going on (and this started before the madness of 2020 began). Ultramodern releases have dropped to nothing – Spectre appears to be frantically trying to get itself back together after over-extending (taking resin production in house for a small two-person team might have been a bad idea), Footsore is charging way too much for a range that only barely stands out from other makers (and in a sculpting style I’m not a fan of), White Dragon is doing great work (if only their vehicles were the right scale) and the miniatures to the Ultracombat Kickstarter seems to be stuck in (semi-understandable) development hell to the point where I’ve lost all excitement over actually receiving what I’ve paid for. Empress has also diverted towards their Vietnam and WW2 ranges which frankly I can see the reason why (as Paul Hicks does fantastic work). There have been some interesting bits (Contact Front, Battlespace and a version 2 of Skirmish Sangin coming soon) but overall, there is nothing exciting to keep me going. Ultramodern gaming should be one of the most exciting and constantly evolving genres in wargaming but for a while, it seems to have plateaued for me personally – it’s a little depressing seeing so many missed opportunities flutter by.

Proof I’m not quitting wargaming just yet

The blog isn’t going anywhere (I’m definitely not going to delete it) and I’m still going to write stuff once in a while if it takes my fancy. I’m just not going to be doing it every week. And also this isn’t me quitting wargaming by any stretch of the imagination – it’s just that reporting about it every week is no longer as important as it once was.

Thanks to everyone who came along for the ride and kept reading these things. Hopefully you got something good out of it.

Wargaming Week 27/07/2020

It’s a new week, time for a new update!

Not much hobby done as I spent a chunk of last week fixing the website again. I wrote a little bit about what has been changed up on my Twitter (and warning about what I think caused them). Fingers crossed this is the last time we’ll have this issue.

NEWS

Brigade Games are running a new Kickstarter that is perfect for anyone working on some action in South or Central America. Drug War Z is all about some zombie fighting action, but the figures could very easily be used for more regular missions. I’m definitely a fan of the Policia guys – this style of uniformed but less well equipped figure has plenty of uses.

UPDATES

The White Dragon Mastiff arrived! As you can see this is a lovely piece of kit (if a little delicate) and I’m already enjoying building it. It uses the White Dragon design of a hollow two piece design, much lighter than any similar. I’ve got my concerns about the scale (it’s 1/56 rather than my preferred 1/50) but we’ll see once I’ve assembled it.

Seeing as I love resin, I also ordered a Technical Charlie from Spectre (just to sate the completionist in me). Seeing as it arrived the next day (the joy of living back in England), I managed to crack it out and take a look. A full impression is coming but from a quick look it’s some wonderful Spectre design, with only minimal cleanup. The downside to it is that the rear cargo bay is fractionally smaller than the other technicals, so my modular weapons templates don’t work on it. Some work may be required…

Another element from Spectre was a very lucky ebay purchase. Thanks to a heads up from a friend, I managed to snag a pack of African militia I had been mostly missing from my Spectre collection. This was the support weapon pack for the Militia – an UZI carrying fighter, a well dressed man with a shotgun, a marksman with a Lee Enfield and an LMG gunner with a Bren gun. These figures have had some of the fine detail knocked off (as you might expect from a second hand figure) but still I’m very glad to own them.

A couple of years ago I made up this bingo chart to compare my collection against the releases from the original kickstarter. Since then, I’ve picked up a few more figures, either through Spectre re-releases (such as the Technical Charlie or the Warlord) or through ebay. As you can see, I’m slowly clawing my way to 100%. I’ll admit, the only figures I’m desperate for are the original PKM for the technical and the missing two figures from the Witch Doctor pack -The Bulletproof Militia and the sapeurs are perhaps a little too extravagant for my tastes – the African guys I’m focusing on will be much more focused on East Africa, far away from the cultures that the militia were originally inspired by. However, I’m kind of happy to be in the single digits for missing items

Finally, and on a more practical/civilised note, I finally got myself a dice tower. I’ve been wanting one for ages but never spotted the design I quite liked. But, while picking up the Infamy Infamy PDF (no intention of playing it but I like reading the Too Fat Lardies rules), I spotted their version of the Warbases design. It’s a great setup and I especially like the green baise surface on the top. Assembly was fun to work out and I have to admit, it is the most satisfying way to roll dice.


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

Wargaming Week 19/07/2020

Another week, another update.

You might have noticed some more posts are missing images. Looks like the gremlins have got back into the system and something is removing files from my uploads folder – the price of running a blog install for 10+ years. I’m going to spend some time hunting through it, making sure to get everything fixed up. So there may be some downtime over the next few days.

NEWS

White Dragon Miniatures are releasing their Mastiff! It’s finally up for pre-order and by the time you read this will be available to purchase at it’s full price. I’m really excited to pick this vheicle up – the mix of WDM’s vehicle production (resin but hollow to save on weight) and the bar armour should make it a lovely kit to build and use. More details when it arrives!

Footsore Miniatures have released the first of their Modern range in the UK. If you’ve followed SASM, then you’ll recognise them as the most recent sets of figure releases – vehicles and older figures will be following soon. I’m really interested in looking at them but the price is giving me pause.

It is quite a lot of money – the SBS set of six figures is over £30 for 5 figures (and a dog). It works out cheaper than ordering them from the US (and you have less concerns about them going missing in the post) but its far too expensive for me to justify sadly.

UPDATES

This week was mainly finishing off the last fireteam in my US Marine infantry squad. It took longer than planned but honestly I’m just grinding away at it all. I am happy about how they are turning out though – the USMC have been sat for far too long.

As mentioned in the article above, the next set is going to be the SMAW launchers for the USMC. I’m looking forward to these guys, and the urge to get them on the tabletop is increasing. Maybe I need to do some terrain for them to bust first?


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

SITREP: US Marines Fireteam 3 Pt. 2

Spending an evening watching films (Greyhound) I did the last few bits of camo and then finished off these four guys. They have turned out a little bit lighter than usual, although not different enough to be a concern. However, I feel happy spending a little extra time to finish them off, and they look pretty good alongside the other ones on my shelf.

This guy was perhaps the most interesting one to do. His helmet was the original test piece I did until I repainted it. Other things to mention was the mags on his chest (rather than the pouches most of the other figures have) and the water line running over his shoulder. Painting these up in the right colours really makes him look better, rather than just tan – perfect for a squad leader.

I also tried painting him up as an African American. Out of all the Marines I’ve painted so far, none of them have been black. So I thought it was time to make the group slightly more diverse. I’m still learning how to paint it – my current recipe is Burnt Umber, drybrush Beige Brown, highlight Beige Brown and then Agrax. I’m probably going to paint a few more using this technique.


Well with three fireteams done and an NCO to lead them, I’ve got myself a USMC squad. This, of course, means it’s time to break out the fun stuff. And seeing as I’ve been re-reading some Terminal Lance (and with his next book coming out end of the month), it’s time to paint up some Assaultmen with SMAWs.

Wargaming Week 13/07/2020

Another week, another update.

Managed to get some time aside to start painting four more US Marines. I was going to try and get more done this weekend but it was one of those weekends where the motivation dives into the toilet.

NEWS

Flytrap Factory are working on some cool 3D models of SIG assault rifles that might be part of a possible new range from them. Flytrap has done some cool modern figures in the past as tests for possible clients (in a scale that matches other modern brands) so seeing what they might come up with is rather exciting.

UPDATES

So not strictly hobby but I managed to watch the Outpost this week thanks to some VPN shenanigans. Seeing as it’s based on the same events as one of my favourite books (Red Platoon), it’s very interesting to see them from a different point of view. Overall, I think it’s a rather well done film – they merge some facts together, tweak a few details but it’s mostly on track. As for the film itself, the script isn’t the best but it’s serviceable and, more importantly, the action is what really ties it all together.


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