SITREP: Monday Construction

Another Monday in quarantine, another hobby sessions with people. As well as my opponent (still in Marine land), two other wargaming friends jumped in to work on some projects (tiny Knights and yet more Space Marines). I of course was working on something totally different…

Space Marines! Wait…

Yeah, I’ve finally finished assembling all the Primaris Space Marines I suddenly seem to have collected from various places. They still need to be undercoated and then painted but I seem to have enough guys for maybe a small force for 40k. I don’t intend to play 40k but I might end up in a situation to play some games with my friends who have their own groups. I do need to bulk out the Reavers and the Inceptors (probably) and I would like to order a few extra units (I’ve always wanted a Redemptor Dreadnought and the Heavy Intercessors look perfect).

The final few models done, I then moved on to assembling the last few pieces of MDF from the Sarissa Alamo packs I backed on Kickstarter earlier this year. Having now built it all, it’s a pretty impressive collection. There are plenty of buildings to use, as well as some smart design within them.

I can already see plenty of different layout that would work using them, and can’t wait to get some figures on it and play a few games. I have some other opinions on it (and especially but they will be in a separate post.

As a final thing, I made up the Technical Charlie from Spectre that arrived earlier this year. Really nice construction, great quality on them with very little clean up required. This will pop up later once I finish painting.

Not sure what I’ll be working on next week – part of me wants to finish off this Cypher character on my desk but I might do some more Enforcers or finish tweaking my Brits. But another SITREP next time I hobby!

Chain of Command – Attack on Al-Papsi: Part 2

Back in the heady days of September we actually played the second mission in the campaign set in North Africa. However, before we get into the battle, I actually finally rolled up the details of my command team, using the details from the At The Sharp End PDF book.

NameBackgroundAgeOriginDescription
Senior LeaderThomas Fuchsex-Doktor of Engineering32BerlinTall and Thin
Zug 1Claus HaberSturmabteilungsmann (street fighter)28KolnShort and full of fight
Zug 2Manfred BraunEx-Gamekeeper on a large estate23EberswaldeAverage Sort
Zug 3Horst GüntherInner City School, Ex-Hitler Youth21MunichStrapping 6ft

As you can see, I’ve picked up a pretty good mix of characters – I really like how Zug 3 that has been absolutely hammered so far (and will be in this scenario) is led by the youngest and most impulsive of the leaders – perhaps this is his first campaign and is a little too impulsive/full of bravado.

Additionally, after the previous game, I had to handle the losses. With two soldiers wounded and two killed, I decided to reduce Zug 3 to keep the rest of the squads at full strength.


Game 2 was a Delaying Action – after the DLI managed to advance with their recon units in the previous game, the Afrika Korps guys are falling back to defensive positions around the town itself. As part of this, they will need to slow any advance, buying time for the rest of the defenders.

As you can see, the battlefield is a few scattered outbuildings around a larger farm complex. The Germans dug into the main farm, placing their three jumping off points (the objectives to be defended) among the fields and behind the buildings. The Allies managed get into the two depressions each side of the board – I had blocked them off from reaching the outbuildings which might have caused more issues.

I ended up deploying my forces relatively rapidly – being on the defence it was handy to get as many MGs on the board as possible, so I could easily engage the attackers with a full force. The only thing I aimed to keep back was my senior leader and the AT gun I chose as my support option. Mostly because…

The Queen of the Desert was on call. Obviously a sign of the main assault’s proximity, the Matilda at this stage of the war definitely has a chance to inflict “Tiger Panic”, where a player focuses on the big target and ignores the actual threats (the infantry trying to capture the position). This wasn’t helped the fact my only AT weapon was a brand new (for the time) 50mm Pak38, my only support choice for the game thanks to some poor rolling.

Less poor rolling was the gun crew on the Pak 38! After an initial ranging round that bounced off the Matilda’s thick armour, a second shot (under the eye of the senior leader) managed to cause a pentrating hit that was bad enough to make the screw bail out.

As for the rest of the game, it was a bit of a slugging match. The Brits attempted to push at both sides of the board, using their jumping-off points to push forward. The top side of the board mostly ended up getting pinned down in the palm trees, with a lead infantry section and a Vickers team getting into a firefight with the defenders. Turns out, MG34s are really good at suppressing enemy troops not in hardcover, and only the arrival of the belt-fed Vickers (and the loud SNCO) started to even the odds. Of course, it didn’t help that the Pak 38, after tank crushing, decided to switch to HE and drop explosive rounds among the palms.

On the south side, British troops attempted to cross the smaller gap between the outbuildings and core farm itself. This is actually where my Dastardly Regular Opponent almost got a win. While one section lay down some suppressive fire, the other one decided to make a break for it. They managed to push forward to the very edge of the farm buildings, just as a German squad moved to reinforce the position. Both sections prepared to engage in a close-range firefight…

And then we ran out of time (the fatal flaw of still learning to play the rules/playing after work).


As the game managed to end at a key turning point, my Dastardly Opponent and I talked through the end result. Although both sides had taken casualties, the British had lost a major support asset and had several units with lots of shock on it (the MGs being assisted ably by the AT gun). Zug Three took even more casualties (bringing it to basically two MG teams and an injured junior leader) but the rest of the force was in pretty good standing. So as a final decision, we decided the Brits had won by only a very narrow margin. When we come back for the next game, we’ll use a slightly tweaked setup (showing the Brits getting a foothold in the suburbs while the germans managing to hold off the bulk of the enemy force).

Standby for the next game… when I’m allowed to go to York again.

SITREP – Enforcers (Part 2)

Another Monday, another long-distance painting session with the Dastardly Regular Opponent. While he started work on some more armour for our chain of command games, I decided to take a break from painting Space Marines to assemble some more of my Enforcers. Remember them?

Well, I have managed to start putting the basic list together so might as well put a few more cool guys together. As in the first SITREP, the idea is to make some Sci-Fi Mercs ready to act as enforcers in the Underhive.


First up, we have the Captain. One of the McNespy boys, sent by his Dad/Boss to clear our the Underhive and make some coin. The bald PMC head + shades seemed the most appropriate for the leader, and I decided to combine that with the stance used by the leader in the box. Additionally, I liked the image of him with pistol raised, ready to finish off a downed foe. As you can, I also added a load of kit around his waist including some Black Templar bits with a short command staff. I shaved off the Black Templar icons so it now looks suitably utilitarian.

Next up, we have a standard bolter armed trooper. However, rather than using the usual enforcer one, I discovered I had a few of the classic boltguns in the bits box. Suitable for a veteran Merc, I had to do some surgery to attach it. However, as you can see, it looks pretty damn good. The pouches big enough for bolter mags were a final addition to make the trooper.

So this guy was definitely the “oh damn the sprue is almost over and I need to make a final figure”. It doesn’t help that the Concussion Rifle on the sprue only has a single hand version so it can only be used in a single designed pose. Not wanting to use the pose recommend, I ended up with this slightly idle pose, the handgun twisted slightly to add some movement. Biker PMC head and all the kit in the world were the final touches.

Finally, we have the sniper figure. The leaning forward sniper seemed a little lacking in tactical look, so I went with a classic crouching look. I’m not technically finished with her (I need to smooth the join between the cloak and the armour) but she’s already looking pretty cool. The Female PMC head is really nice as well, with maybe a few painting tweaks to make it look a little more 40k.


At the moment I have seven assembled enforcers, six Palatine and a single Subjugator. I’ve still got the rest of the two boxes to build and plenty of parts to do it with, so there will be plenty more of these posts to come.

I’m also thinking about the colour scheme. I’m definitely not going the classic look, but I’m still not 100% on what I’ll choose. With the idea of some classic grungy mercs in space, some Colonial Marine inspired colours might be high on the list.

SITREP: Marine Squad 1

Last weekend was my Dastardly Regular Opponent’s birthday. (I got him a Crusader to replace the Matilda I shredded with a 50mm AT gun in our last Chain of Command game before lockdown. Because I’m petty like that.) And seeing as he was stuck in the middle of an Imperial Fist painting spree, and all of us stuck in our houses because of isolation, we decided to jump on and assist as morale support/hangout.

And as part of this, I got to finish off my Intercessor Squad! You can see them arrayed above – entirely illegal in 40k, probably not great in Killteam but also a fun different thing to paint.

The final three figures I stuck on some female marine heads from Statuesque, just to add a little variation to the squads look. These heads are lovely – cast in metal rather than resin, covered in hair styles and biotics to make them look like “female Space Marines” as opposed to “Female space marines”. In other words, they fit perfectly. I had great fun painting the lady with cornrows and I think she’s my favourite in the squad.

The Squad Leader on the other hand… I’m not quite as keen on? When painting her face, my attempt at a new flesh tone came out very dark, almost covered in ash. So, working from references of soldiers post-explosion, I decided to add a few additional touches of Blood for the Blood God (focusing on the forehead and the nose) and make it seems like she’s just had her helmet blown away by some high explosive blast. I’m not sure the effect works, but it definitely has a look to it that makes her really stand out from her team.


So what’s next? Well I have my WW2 brits on the go, the Enforcers need building there are more modern miniatures to finish and I do actually have my hero character to finish off in the same colour scheme…

Oh and I started assembling this Dark Imperium set I have. I’m not going to assemble the Death Guard side, but a few more marines (minus the fancy shoulder pads) should be a neat expansion for my squad of elites. And totally not the start of an army with.

I think.

News: Spectre Previews 13/10/2020 – Potentially Thermobaric

I’ve got news to share! So, with the death of Wargaming Week, my opportunity to share news has been limited to only Facebook. And, as much as that site is useful, it is still a hellsite that I perfectly understand why people avoid it. So, as we slowly return to having news to share, I’m going to be posting it here so that everyone can see the news.

So Spectre, who has had to act rapidly to get the fulfilment issues under control, has just shown off some new and upcoming releases (now they are getting the stock levels under better control). With four new figures on their way to extend/support existing ranges, it’s time for me to break out the handy magnifying glass and some internet sleuthing to try and ruin everyone’s surprises! However, I am not an arms expert – these are all rough guesses so take them with a pinch of salt.


Up first, we have a relatively easy one. The gas mask and chemical suit gives him away as a new member of the Aftermath team (released earlier this year).

Aftermath Kill Team

The addition of a Milkor 40mm grenade launcher probably means that the Aftermath set is one of the heaviest armed, with an RPG, PKM and now an MGL to really ruin anyone’s day.


Figure 2 I think is taking us back to one of Spectre’s most popular (and one of my favourite ranges), the Tier 1 Operators. The cap, lightweight clothing and belt mounted pistol are the main signifiers.

As for the gun, I think it’s one of the Knight’s Armament LMGs, something addicts to Modern Warfare will recognise as the Finn. I’m not 100% sure if it’s a 5.56 light MG or the 7.62mm medium MG but based on the size of the mag, I’m leaning towards the Medium Machine Gun (as seen above). This will give you a nice chunky base of fire gun for a Tier 1 team, especially if paired with the Mk46 they already have.


Now, we get onto the interesting one. Spectre have these listed as “supports to an existing range” but I don’t recognise this one. The most obvious addition is the line launcher linked to the backpack, ideal for getting your team up to high places. The figure is possibly wearing a bump helmet (ideal for climbing) and has the look of a high tier merc team from a Nolan film. However, the interesting bit is the gun. It has a very AK look to the curve of the magazine, as well as some Valmet/Galil features but it’s also very modern and tactical. There has been some great discussion in the Chargeblog Research Group (aka Twitter dms) trying to guess what it is. I’m thinking it looks very much like the guns from the Chinese Special Forces Assault Squad but it’s not quite 100% the same. Either way, this is going to be an exciting release.



EDIT: Stop the presses! Thanks to the tireless work of the Research Group, they have managed to find a possible contender. This is the AMB-17 from Kalashnikov, a suppressed assault rifle that is similar to the classic VAL in function. If this is the gun on the side, it seems like the Russians will be getting another assaulter ideal for getting the drop on the bad guys.


Now for the final figure (and the reason for the title of this news post). He’s a very interesting setup – civilian clothing but heavy body armour, a head covering and something held in his hand… Oh and the rocket launcher. After looking around, I’m pretty sure this is a new addition to the FSB line. Let me explain why.

This is an RPO PDM-A Shmel-M. It’s a thermobaric launcher used by the Russian Military as a “rocket assisted flamethrower” – basically bunker busting/room clearing with a longer range punch. This is ideal for close quarters battle (especially if you’ve read the rules for thermobarics in the Spectre rules). As for the rest of the figure, the mix of armour and clothing is very similar to the puffy coat wearing FSB Kill Team CQB Specialist. The helmet (which looks like a visor carrying Russian one) would be handy if you’re firing the launcher. It’s also good to see he isn’t just a single weapon figure – if you look closely at his right leg you can see a piece of metal that is probably a weapon slung over his shoulder.


That’s my coverage of this preview. It’s a really interesting set of figures, perfect for some releases to add to your existing teams to give you a few additional options in your games. We’ll have to see if these are the only specialists we’re seeing or maybe a few extra figures not quite ready for primetime. If there are, you can be sure I’ll be covering it on the news posts!

SITREP – A Few Marines More

Seeing as I’m now back into full on local lockdown, biweekly Monday wargames with Dastardly Regular Opponent have been swapped out with painting sessions on the internet. And so as part of this, I’ve been continuing work on my Space Marines!

After doing my test model, I spent my first week finishing off the three other marines who did not have bare heads – seeing as I was making a kill-team, I went overboard on characters and so everyone got bare heads.

The paint scheme, having now done several, works really well. The black is simple and easy to do, the red arms help them to really stand out, while the flash of tan around the edge of the shoulder pads is a nice contrast to the other colours. It’s also a nice number of colours – not so many that each figure takes too long but not too few that they look unfinished.

I also did a figure that has been sat in my collection since I grabbed it from a friend’s collection as they were getting rid of it. The Assault on Black Reach pilot is a really good figure and although some of the details are a little softer compared to the more modern sculpts, he’s still a cool little guy. I’ve painted him up as a slightly suspicious Imperial agent that could be used either for Killteam as an objective or end up in the underhive for Necromunda. Blood technical paint is a heck of a thing.

Yesterday’s painting saw me do the first three of the bare-headed Marines. I’m actually really happy with how the faces came out – the washes and hair colours worked well, while the details like studs and scars were nice to pick out. The only thing I’m not keen on is the colour of the flesh – under the lightbox it looks very yellow. I think I’ll go back and hit it with a few light highlights, just to make it look a little less yellow.

Next up for the marine project is the last three Intercessors and the Cypher character I picked up. I actually removed the head from the Intercessors because I picked up some female heads from Statuesque Miniatures because I want to add a few warrior women among my superhuman warriors. More details coming when they arrive (and I keep painting).

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.

SITREP: 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!