Salute 2015 Report – Spectre, Empress and more!

Ah London
Ah London

Salute is one of the largest (if not THE largest) wargaming conventions in the UK. Taking place in the EXcel Centre in London, it takes a huge area filled with the best and brightest of Britian’s wargaming community. As a newbie to the entire scene, the idea of going to Salute came up as a way to see everything out there. After getting the train to London and then jumping on the tube out to the convention centre (being the same weekend as the London Marathon meant transportation was packed) I finally encountered the biggest room full of wargamers I’d ever seen.

One of my main reasons for going to Salute was to meet up with the guys behind Spectre who I have been talking to/bothering over twitter and facebook. Chatting to them was really cool. They seem to have a handle on their releases, with lots coming up from a whole selection of theatres and forces (they mentioned they were looking into Russians or Chinese as another national faction). They also have been hearing the reports from everyone playing the rules and are looking at taking the feedback on board. Apparently the air support rules were missing from the first release thanks to a corrupted upload, so we should be seeing new rules soon. They were also talking about looking at the bleedout – their idea was to make it realistic and rapid but seeing as it pops up a lot in comments they were looking into making some minor tweaks. Overall, I am excited to be getting in on the ground floor with this range of models and rules – the team behind it seemed very excited about their future plans and I wish them all the best.

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The WIP models from Spectre. Models of note include the breacher with rifle and shotgun, the new set of US SOF and the two models at the front – the criminal element (a new faction) and an indigenous force with AK and PASGAT helmet

But of course there were tons of other companies and games filling the hall. Empress has a busy stall that was packed all day as were Hasslefree who took up an entire corner of the convention hall. Old favourites like Warlord were packed while smaller stall still seemed to be super busy. This is great – with so many people, every stall is just packed with plenty of eyes on everything. There was so much to see but I thought it was best to just show the best I grabbed pictures of:

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Didn’t see the rules for this (or much play going on) but a lovely board set in the Cold War. Brits on one end of a highway deploying with an oncoming Russian force. Lots of tanks and a sight to behold
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Blurry cam but here is an American Revolution board. I love these boards – so many tiny details to catch and see. Almost too nice to play on.
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Battlegroup Blitzkrieg is a cool looking alternative to Bolt Action. Their board was Dunkirk with some cool details from the oncoming Germans in the distance. the skirmishes in the middle to the rear support units recovering tanks and manning AA guns
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I didn’t catch the rules for this one, but they made mention of being focused on armour and supporting infantry in WW2. Lovely little scene, the field in the foreground look perfect. As for the gameplay, everyone seemed to be having fun.
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ZEPPELINS! Not something you see at every games session but this was one that stood out. Cool models, massive props. Spot on!
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Bolt Action. British paras and Germans clash over Peagsus Bridge. This board was packed all day.
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I managed to spot this on the way out and was so happy not to miss it. Ambush Alley rules, cold war got hot scenario, NATO special forces fighting aboard a Russian ship. Two levels of interior to fight through. You would never see this board down the club on a Monday night but damn is it not impressive

So what did I end up buying? Well, as you would expect, the moment Spectre said they had an exclusive model I was ready to pick that model and stick into my collection. The model is a pretty unique looking female merc with an MP7. Spectre also had a brand new set of UKSF guys with MP7s that were just asking to join the assault team and to go grab some HVTs. From Empress I picked up a deal of British moderns to get my platoon well on its way. After a little bit of calculation I am two boxes sets away from having a complete platoon comprised of three sections, one HQ sections, a few weapons teams and a group of combat engineers with barming tools. And then I bought a Warrior IFV to help them out. I was intending to get a Scimitar but sadly they were out of stock when I went back. The Warrior is a lovely kit although I need to get hold of a drill in order to attach the turret. The Warrior should allow for some interesting scenarios be it up and moving or as an objective needing rescuing. It will also be a new challenge to paint as I have never done an AFV at this scale. I’ll be getting my airbrush fixed so I can speed up painting the huge expanse of hull. Just need to decide on the green/tan shade to colour it.

There will be more details on the Brits coming soon (hopefully once I’ve painted most of them) along with a complete army list and how I intend to run them. Also more games coming soon!

Spectre Operations: Rules Report 2

Unrelated to the day's battle but here is my Farmer, ready to get them soldiers off his land. This is one of Spectre's Sapeurs with a less flamboyant paint scheme
Unrelated to the day’s battle but here is my Farmer, ready to get them soldiers off his land. This is one of Spectre’s Sapeurs with a less flamboyant paint scheme

Finding time for wargaming is hard work but luckily Brighton Warlords is packed with people wanting to try out new things. And so I ended up with a brand new opponent to take on a few more different scenarios. I tried to add something a little more interesting than just the scraps of the last game session and although there is room for improvement in my scenario writing, they were still fun.

Thanks to a few last minute purchases (the SAS and US special weapons sets were handy to get some much needed LMGs in the fight), I was able to have both the Yanks and the Brits match entirely. Each comprised of 8 soldiers – two squad leaders with assault rifles, two soldiers with assault rifles, two soldiers with light machine guns, one soldier with a combat shotgun and finally a soldier packing an assault rifle with a grenade launcher. All soldiers have pistols, body armour, frag and smoke grenades. One soldier per team also has a battlefield trauma kit

Game 1 saw the British and the Americans scrapping over two ammo caches in the ruins of an industrial city. There were four possible locations scattered across the board (two placed by me and two by my opponent) and each one had to be investigated (rolling 4+ while in base to base contact with it) in order to make sure it was full of useful guns and ammo rather than an assorted collection of old pagers and bits of wood.

The Americans got an early lead by grabbing their safest cache and then dug in around it. My Brits sprinted to take the closest one but got bogged down in a firefight down the main street. Both sides took casualties but most troubling was the grenade launcher round that took out the British team’s medic and splashed out on the two causalities he was rushing to help. The Americans at the other end of the street were also in trouble, especially when one of the injured brits dropped one of them with a pistol shot.

In perhaps a misguided attempt to take some sort of victory, two British team members rushed off to climb a ruined building and take the rooftop cache. Unfortunately, the surviving LMG gunner from the yank’s team stormed into the building behind them and riddled the top floor with automatic fire, dropping both of them. With every British soldier either bleeding out or lying dead, it was safe to call it an American victory.

Game 2 saw the defeated Brits attempting to evacuate an elite Hawaiian wearing MI6 agent from the city. Unfortunately, the Americans had dug into one of the buildings on the way out of town. To help them, the Brits added a few extra guys – a marksman with a medium sniper rifle and two plain clothes SAS operatives to shepherd the VIP and give him cover.

Unfortunately it didn’t do much to help. The distraction team tried to pop smoke but got pinned down, while the marksman managed to suppress a few guys. Worse, just as the extraction team sprinted to cover, a shot from one of the Rangers managed to wing him and dropped him to the floor. Overall, a poor show from Brits.

Game 3 was the same setup again except this time I took the role of the Americans. Digging in at the start of the game, I managed to drop a few guys and the VIP retreated back into cover Sadly my ace in the hole (the shotgun equipped soldier) got dropped leading a flanking team, leaving them to hide in cover and take a few shots at the British fire support. After failing to make much of an impression, the Yanks got pinned down and wiped out.

Both myself and my opponent agreed that the basic idea of the second game type was good but a few tweaks need to be made before its ready for prime time. The evening finished 3-0 to my opponent and much fun was had by all.

Thoughts and Impression

First of all, I was rolling terribly all night. I probably should have dropped some points on a UAV to change the initiative back but it probably wouldn’t help all the fluffed shooting rolls, the failed command tests and that unlucky search through the cache. Some days the dice gods are with you, some days they are busy helping the 40k players across the room.

As for the rules, this session pretty much sealed the deal for me – there really isn’t place for a dedicated medic, everyone needs to carrying battlefield trauma kits. Bleedout is pretty powerful and 1 turn bleedout is still as annoying as it was first game. I’m looking forward to the new rules to see if there are any changes but honestly, I’m not that bothered by it. The high lethality makes the play frantic and fast.

I must also congratulate my opponent – he was a joy to play against and I look forward to our next match (my purchases from Salute should hopefully even the odds…). He also came up with a cool tactic that I hadn’t noticed. If you are using troops of decent quality, then there is no reason not to use tactical move when dug in. The additional defence stacks with the cover, making you impossible to shift. There is no mention of forcing movement so it can be assumed that a stationary model tactical moving is simply popping in and out cover, making best use of their surroundings to stay in the fight.

Much like the last session, the use of suppression was again pretty vital. If they are not sprinting, medicing, moving with an encumbering weapon or somehow busy, your characters should be putting down as much fire as possible. Every point of suppression helps keep people down – even regulars are reasonably susceptible to burst of machine gun fire. I also slightly understand the reasoning behind not having area effect suppression – automatic weapons can pick up to three targets so between a light machine gun and a grenade launcher, a fire team can suppress a big group.

I am still sold whole heartedly on the Spectre rules. The speed of them let us play three games in an evening, and each one was fun even when losing. The list of gear is packed full of fun and I am very excited for both future rule updates (the off table assets should help to make fights more interesting) and for future releases. Hopefully next time I can fight some of the insurgents one of the other wargamers have bought and see some milita vs elite fights. There is also a small matter of the vehicle rules to be tested.

If you want to join in the fun, the Spectre Operations ruleset and all their figures are up on their site. In addition they have two Facebook pages for the models and the rules as well as a Twitter account.