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.

Battle Report – Rescue Mission – Skirmish Sangin

Okay, this game was an exercise in improvisation. What was originally planned as an all-out assault on a rebel fortress (cancelled due to lack of painting time) became a massive multi-person game (until we lost some players due to double booking) until finally it was down to a tight, three person game. And what a game it was.




SITUATION:
BAZISTAN

US MARSOC Team Sabre has been separated and immobilised behind enemy lines. Radio communications report their Humvee was damaged in an ambush and the team has sustained casualties.

ISAF-AP forces are directed to recover injured personnel and destroy assets. Local National Forces are available to assist.

Enemy militia forces are on site and moving to the target location. Motives unknown. ISTAR has spotted unknown forces among the Militia units.

Objectives:
ISAF-AP must fulfil the following objectives:
MARSOC Team must be escorted off the board
– MARSOC team cannot move until contacted by friendly troops
MARSOC Humvee must be destroyed by the use of incendiary devices
– This must be placed
by hand

The MARSOC team consists of four guys. Well three guys for me to activate. A team leader, a LMG gunner and a final trooper carrying his injured buddy around. This last trooper was unable to run while assisting his buddy and only armed with a pistol (the rest of his kit left behind in the humvee.)

Coming to rescue them was a combined force of US Special Forces and local Bazistan Forces. The four operators had light body armour and were armed with a mix of weapons including assault rifles, combat shotguns and an LMG. The local force were in heavy body armour, 5 soldiers armed with assault rifles and another totting a PKM.

Against them was a sizeable insurgent force. Although lacking body armour they did have an RPG and PKM to help put the fire down, as well as a total of 8 soldiers. Interestingly alongside them was a group of bandana-wearing operators. These guys only had assault rifles and light body armour but were rolling hard with grenades.


Seen from above, you can see the battle zone. ISAF-AP are entering from the the top left, while the insurgents would move on through the fields. In the centre of the map was the construction site where the MARSOC team have dug in, their damaged Humvee outside.

As both teams start to move, two of the operators from the rescue party work their way through the quiet streets.

The lead scout of the Bazi Army squad rushes up to an abandoned vehicle to use for cover.

Meanwhile on the other side of the board, the contractors wait as militia fighters begin to advance.

Thanks to their high body rating, two of the operators bombed forward to get into a position overlooking the damaged humvee.

They aren’t the only one getting into position. Two of the contractors move into a position to rush, one of them popping a smoke grenade to cover their advance.

Concerned by this, the MARSOC LMG gunner started scanning the horizon. After spotting an engaging a militia fighter, he relocated to behind the engine block of the nearby pickup, hoping those fuel drums on the back were empty.

Dodging the machine gun fire, one of the contractors pops smoke to block line of sight and then moves up into the cloud.

Meanwhile, the Bazistan Army were moving up as a squad. The PKM gunner started heading for the roof.

A third smoke grenade filled in the gap, blocking the humvee from any of the US-SF guys. Just in time for one of the contractors to bust up and get close to the intel inside the humvee.

Despite the firing around him, the contractor manages to wrench the door of the Humvee open and recover the data disc. Looks like payday for this merc!

Seeing the enemy getting closer, one operator decides to drop a second smoke in order to build up. However, rolling a 100, the smoke grenade simply rolls out of his hand and goes off directly in front of him.

The nearby insurgents decide to back this hero up, not having seen the fumble that just occured. They also rushed passed one of their comrades who had been hit (the cards hiding his current condition until someone checks on them).

The Bazi Army hold back and hammer rounds down range, except for one brave soldier who rushes forward to make contact with the stranded MARSOC team.

Good news for the ISAF-AP team! The injured Marine and his buddy managed to meet up with one of the US-SF guys. The rest of the MARSOC team were still engaging the agressors, hammering 5.56mm whenever the militia would popup.

But tragedy strikes! A grenade, thrown to take out machine gunner on the roof scattered into the open and bringing the US-SF team leader into it’s blast radius. The armour absorbed some of it but he was still knocked unconscious, sliding down the wall behind him.

After running through a hail of gunfire, the contractor with the data managed to get back to his buddies. This actually started shifting the militia’s objectives. They started falling back, popping off some suppression to make sure the data was secure.

The US Marines still in the fight managed to put fire down, pop smoke and fall back through the building. They were probably happy to see the Bazi Army soldier frantically giving them the Jambo as they ran past.

However every moment of joy for ISAF-AP was tempered by something sour. And oh boy, was this sour.

In one of the last shots of the game, the RPG gunner who had moved to flank managed to get onto the rooftop. With a super low chance to hit, he fired and rolled a critical. With a single super powerful shot, two of the operators were taken out, one KIA and the other critically injured.

The sole remaining US-SF operator, having heard his team go down, rushed after the fleeing merc carrying the data, desperately trying to catch up with him. With the final dice roll, he shot and missed. The Merc kept running, successfully escaping with his prize.

Who knows what shenanigans someone could get up to with that classified material…


At the game’s end, the MARSOC team had been successfully rescued, with the loss of three veteran operators rendered combat ineffective. However, the classified material was now in the wind, possibly setting up a future game.

Overall, it wasn’t the game I originally planned but everyone involved had a good time. There was some comments about getting some more cover to break up the sight lines, so I think it’s time to base up all my scatter. Come back next time for more events in Bazistan.

Battle Report – “Climb To Glory” – Skirmish Sangin

This week’s battle report takes us back to Bazistan. The last few battles have been pretty Special Forces heavy so this time we’re going to get the regulars on the table. This is also a chance to play some Skirmish Sangin without a giant plane sat across most of the table. Anyway, on with the battle report!


The contested zone between Bazistan and Aden has been the site of several attempts by international agencies in improve local conditions. One attempt in the 2000’s was the establishment of the Bazistan Agricultural College, including a modern educational building in the contested zone. The compound, co-sponsored by the Argo Corporation, would provide technical help to the locals farmers as well as a testbed for new techniques and varieties. Unfortunately, the building was started just before a rise in violence between the local tribes and the governments and so was left abandoned. The local farmers took over the fields around the building shell and continued to till the ground.
Unfortunately, the building, among others in the valley, have been taken over by one of the insurgent groups in region to use as staging positions when moving supplies and personnel into Aden. ISAF-AP have spotted the activity in the region and have ordered elements of the 3rd BCT, 10th Mountain Division to move down the valley. Starting the operation in the early hours of the morning, dawn is approaching by the time the first troops reaches the Bazistan Agricultural College.


BLUFOR

The Americans in this battle were formed up in two groups:

Alpha – Squad Leader and two fireteams with the usual mix of weapons (Two M4s, a M4 with UGL and a M249). One of the riflemen is replaced by a marksman with his M21.

Bravo – Team leader, Combat Lifesaver, grenadier and M240 medium machine gun team. All of these are mounted in a M-ATV with a HMG

The objective for the US Army troops were simple – secure the area, destroy enemy assets and limit friendly casualties. These guys are the forward edge of a search and destroy mission.

OPFOR

The opposing force in this battle was one of the militia groups in Bazistan that has taken advantage of the porous state of the border. Several small groups were scattered around the main buildings with a mix of weapons from assault rifles up to RPGs (including a RPG 29). There were also a set of technicals, with two of them carrying HMGs to add some fire support. Two more acted as objectives.

The insurgents have also setup the area for defence. They have placed some small but potent IEDs in some of the fields (in order to take out people trying to sneak into the area). Additionally, mortars in other strongpoints are available to call in (assuming a forward observation roll is passed).

For this mission, the Insurgents know that the Americans are in the area. They are preparing to fire a rocket barrage from their technical which is a little unreliable. This is also a delaying action, so causing casualties to the oncoming force will give other strong points more time to prepare their defences. Evacuating supplies and fighters is also recommended.


This battle begins just after dawn. The American offensive began before the sun rose, with small units working quickly and quietly to overcome positions at the start of the valley. Just off-board, Alpha dismounted from their MRAP and began their advance on foot, trekking up to the edge of the wadi. On the road, Bravo moved slowly, looking for a good position to support the assault.

Inside the college grounds, the insurgents were preparing the rocket pod pulled from a Bazistan Hind. Although the system for firing had been used before, it was never 100% reliable.

The M-ATV arrives with the gunner swinging to aim at the shell of the Agricultural College.

A better view from above shows Alpha set up near the wadi while Bravo sat in their M-ATV (their presence in the drainage ditch is an illusion).

Eager to get in the fight and keep pushing forward, Bravo’s driver put his foot down and floored it. As they rolled down the road, the gunner shouts “CONTACT” after spotting two of the sentries close to the turning into the compound.

Hearing the news over the radio, Alpha decided to stay in the wadi and put the fire down, rather than the original plan of assaulting the compound. The marksman in the squad quickly found a target on the roof and, in an excellent bit of marksmanship, dropped him with a single shot. This alarmed the RPG wielding fighter behind him, who is suddenly distracted from the oncoming M-ATV to evade bullets.

However, the insurgents closer to the road were all ready to take on the armoured truck rolling towards them. One of the DSHK technicals rolled onto the road while the RPG-29 gunner set himself up ready to fire. At the same time, the M240 team disembarked from the MRAP and began to set up their machine gun.

Before anyone could take their shots, one of the grenadiers in Alpha dropped a 40mm grenade straight onto the technical. This blast ripped the vehicle apart and rendered it combat ineffective. While the crew dived for cover amongst the wheat field, many of the other fighters were disheartened.

However, the RPG gunner on the roof was more on the game and sent an RPG round flying towards the target. Despite the huge size of the vehicle, he missed sending up a plume of smoke next to vehicle. The shot wasn’t entirely ineffective though – the blast rattled the crew inside causing them to be stunned in place.

Two insurgents attempted to outflank the MRAP by moving along the drainage ditch, careful to keep out of the firing arc of the M240. However, Bravo’s grenadier (sat in one of the passenger seats) spotted the oncoming threat. In one swift move he disembarked, spotted the oncoming threat and took out both fighters with a single 40mm grenade.

The two lead sentries, shocked by the arrival of the M-ATV, had gone to ground in the crop field. For a few activations they were hidden away until Alpha spotted them and opened up with the M249.

Back on the road, things were not going well. After seeing the original RPG 29 gunner get cut down, another insurgent rushed to pick up the dropped launcher. Barely pausing, and limited by his skill with heavy weapons, this plucky insurgent sent another round towards the vehicle. Sadly it was ineffective causing nothing more than another nasty fright for the crew in the MRAP. Return fire cut this have-a-go-hero before he could reload.

I haven’t got a huge number of photos of this but throughout the game, Alpha squad were racking up a massive bodycount. Rather than advance, they simply sat back and used their high rifle skills and night vision to spot enemy targets an engage. The photo shows one of the main threats to them, a PKM team in the front building, after it was engaged by multiple LMGs, 40mm grenade rounds and assault rifles.

After an aborted attempt, the rocket pod suddenly sprung to life. With a plume of smoke and a scream of rockets, the insurgents completed one of their objectives by sending its deadly payload into the bulk of the American offensive.

Around the same time, a plucky insurgent armed with an RPG attempted a hit and run on the MRAP. This shot also missed but it did make the M-ATV realise that it maybe should move before one of the rounds actually caused some damage.

Having seen the rocket pod go off, the Americans were desperate to engage and destroy the launcher before it fired again. This lead to a rather hilarious situation where almost two full squads engaged an empty vehicle and managed to do nothing more than add some ventilation holes, wreck the interior and blow big chunks of dirt up.

On the other flank, the green technical had been attracting ineffective fire from Alpha while distracting them from the escaping supply truck. As the rounds got closer, the technical decided to back up.

“What’s that Abdul, there’s Americans around here?”

The M-ATV hammered away with it’s .50cal, turning the vehicle to mincemeat and igniting the ammo.

With only two fighters left, Alpha and Bravo decided to roll forward and begin clearing out the college building. However, tragedy unfolded when the M-ATV decided to cut through one of the crop fields. With a deafening bang, one of the IEDs detonated and ripped through the crew compartment, completely destroying the vehicle. Having not taken a single casualty all game, two soldiers were now dead and an expensive vehicle was now wrecked.

However, the Americans had forced the insurgents from this position and the road was now open for the rest of the offensive to move forward. At the same time, despite massive casualties, the insurgents had fired their rocket barrage, evacuated their supply truck and caused casualties amongst the American forces.


Overall it was a really fun game. BLUFOR managed to get fire superiority and keep it through most of the game. Playing as the insurgents, I think I fixated too much on the M-ATV rather than trying to engage Alpha. It was a real shame that my off-map mortar were not called in – I guess they had an issue (possibly the kicking off for a new scenario perhaps). At the same time, I managed to hit all of my objectives which is new! It’s also really different to play with more Average troops having been running the demo game with Special Forces. There were more missed shots than I was used to (even with one of my opponents using his magic dice) which led to a few outrageous shots.

Having not run a game at the club since January, I really miss the different feel that you get from running demo games. It’s a bit more relaxed despite having less time to play. So expect a game in April – perhaps this one will be run with more than a week’s worth of planning.

Operation Dragon’s Hoard: Vapnartak, York

If you haven’t checked out the previous posts in the series on Operation Dragon’s Hoard, check out the page I’ve set up for it at https://hntdaab.co.uk/blog/demo-game-operation-dragons-hoard/

Last weekend was Vapnartak. This was a show I’ve been particularly looking forward to; Its one of my “local” shows (thanks to one of my buddies in the wargaming being based in York) and it’s also a massive event spread over three floors (and mezzanines). Its big enough to lure many of the southern companies (such as Empress) up to the frozen north. Getting to run a game has been on my wish list for a while and I was a little disheartened when they initially reported they had ran out of space. However, thanks to the guys at York we managed to squeeze in and we were off to the races.

PRE-GAME TWEAKS

So with the whole uncertainty around if I was running a game, I didn’t manage to do the main task of making the plane look a little less hacksawed by using my new airbrush and dremel. With only two weeks, the idea of having to repair it in the event of dremel related mishaps was too much to take. Instead, the focus shifted to improving the other elements on the table.

First stage was repairing the boards. This was pretty simple – reapply the filler, textured paint and the cover up with lashings of Zandri Dust. The repair work was mostly effective. However afterwards there were one or two places where I don’t think the filler had set properly before I painted it and so it wasn’t quite as hard-wearing as it should have been. However, between these tweaks and changing how I transported the boards (bubble wrap rather than foam spacers) meant there were no massive chunks of surface that had been knocked away.

The next step was to add some more terrain elements. Finishing off another RedVectors buildings gave the OPFOR some height (useful for the marksman) and make the board look a little less empty. As I mentioned in the impressions on them, this one is great but I did have one or two events where the rooftops dropped through the rest of the building. Luckily no figures were lost to the fall damage.

Another element I think that was missing from the board was debris. Even if you ignore the straight edges on the plane wreckage, it’s easy to notice the lack of material that a plane shredding itself in mid-air would eject. This would also add some more detail to the board and provide some difficult ground to cross. Building them was pretty simple – get more plasticard, cut out kidney shapes, add plastic elements from the C130 kit and then cover in filler. Some of the plastic elements were trimmed to be closer to the ground making them look like they have sunk into the sand.

Once assembled, the same process I used on the boards again came into place. The difference this time was that I added a rough spray of grey over the plane elements, oversprayed by the base colour and then finished off with some drybrushing grey and the old faithful, Iraqi Sand. Overall I think they worked out quite well – it helps to make the board look closer to the ideal.. The only issue was again due to the filler. It hadn’t set correctly and so, as you can see above, a few bits chipped off over the weekend. It’s easily fixable but if I had more time it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. Moral of the story – don’t try to rush things at the last-minute.

For a while, I’ve been wanting to upgrade my central objective from “white SUV” to something more suitable to the mission title of “Dragon’s Hoard”. After throwing a few ideas around, the idea of a big chunk of gold was just too tempting. I’d already bought the components I was going to use as part of Bank Accessories pack from TTCombat in 2017 and just hadn’t got round to building the actual objective. With time pressure adding focus, I built the pile of gold you see above. The three stacks were to act as the base, with one of the smaller piles placed on top for detail. The other smaller pile was chopped up into single bricks to be loosely scattered around the base.

After basic construction, the next stage was adding the tarp. This was the classic modelling standby – toilet paper with watered down PVA painted over the top. Once this was dried, painting began. Rather than painting up like terrain, this was closer to a figure – sand on the base, black undercoat, base colours, lashings of agrax and then drybrushing. The tarp was painted dark blue first before going over the top with a layer of light blue. Gold on black is always interesting and it took several coats to get the look I was after. Also Agrax is still my method of choice for fixing any issues with painting.

Something else I needed was smoke cloud, both for the operators to deploy and also to mark when explosions went off. Rather than cotton wool, one of my fellow SESWC members pointed me in the direction of teddy bear stuffing. After a Saturday where I couldn’t find any in Edinburgh I went to Amazon and ordered 1kg of the stuff. Now, I may not have anticipated just how much 1kg of stuffing is. The package was literally straining at the packaging when it arrived. To put it mildly, I don’t think I’ll be buying much more, even if I decided to model shooting lines for a Napoleonic battle.

Once I’d pulled lumps of smoke off the pile, it was painting time. Rather than just dropping lumps on the board, I used some old bases to keep the clumps anchored to the ground. Rather than just using the same colour for all of the smoke, I set up a few schemes. The white smoke had Mechanicus Grey spray for the lower portion with white spray paint for the top half. The black smoke was a little more involved. The bottom was black spray done relatively close to the clump for a dark colour. The next step was black again but further away. Finally, a light dusting of grey for the top of the cloud. For a first attempt, the smoke clouds worked fine – the only change I’d make would be to get a glue gun to stick the smoke to the base.

Some of the final prep was getting some more cards printed out. This was for a few reasons but primarily, it was because I repainted my insurgents. Along with finishing the other insurgents, I had I ended up with a fair number of cards left over to fill. This was a perfect excuse to keep working on the Task Force Operator pile, with a particular focus on some of the cool gear people may want to pick (such as the airburst grenade launcher). I also added the December releases to the list of guys I have on cards so pickup games of Skrimish Sangin will be even easier to arrange. Once again, personalised card creator knocked it out the park in terms of service. Downside: I didn’t do any post processing on the images so you can plainly see which cards are from which packs I made. However, they were once again a hit.

As I mentioned in my last post, the game at Fiasco ran well but it did feel like the operators, once on the objectives, were basically fated to win which is fine but not quite as exciting as it should be. Having managed to use two of the cards in the new pack for some Technicals, I decided that the operators going loud (be that by lots of gunfire or by blowing the cockpit) should prompt the arrival of some insurgents reinforcements. This basically moved the response squad from a building to a much larger threat, as a four man team of veterans were accompanied by two technicals with HMGs. The operators, thanks to the technicals lacking armour and BLUFOR having brought AT weapons, would find it relatively easy to destroy these reinforcements, as long as they react fast enough. This also makes the end game as exciting as the start, forcing the players to change-up the plan rather than getting all the time in the world to work out how best to approach the problem.

DETAILS OF THE DAY

After setting up the boards on Saturday afternoon (thanks to traders and game organisers being let in early), Sunday morning was a quite relaxed affair where we were able to turn up, get the figures out and then get ready for everyone turning up. Once again, we managed to run the mission three times, rotating players and observers each time.

Game 1 was the usual show started in that I get to play against my number 2. As well as making the game look busy while everyone is doing the early morning lap of the show, it’s also a chance to iron out issues and show off exciting gameplay. Game 1 had a nice mix of stealth and violent gunplay with BLUFOR achieving most of their objective before we called time.

Game 2 brought in some of the public to participate. I actually disappeared off for my lunch break during this battle so I didn’t see all of it but there was everything from awesome sniper shots, some clever tactics and a slightly explosive fumble that luckily didn’t cause any harm other than the need for some fresh pants.

Heading for the black box leads to some close quarters gun battles.

The final game of the day showed just how deadly Skirmish Sangin can be. Thanks to the operators picking a lot of explosive weapons (ranging from two AT4s to the multiple grenade launcher and airburst grenade launcher) the game was all action all the time. With both BLUFOR players ignoring stealth in favour of all action all the time, this was one game where the technicals were actually rolled out. The .50cal scared a few people, but the return fire was able to cut

The pickup takes an airburst round, shredding the insurgents near it

Later on, the MGL gunner engages the horde of technicals heading for the gold.

THOUGHTS ON VAPNARTAK

That was the game, how was the show? Well, apart from two evacuations after someone set the smoke alarm off twice, it was a fantastic show. Vapnartak does really well thanks to its timing at the start of the year, dragging in everyone looking to pickup new projects for a new year. The range of sellers is always great, and I was very excited to see both Spectre and Empress there. The combination of these two (plus people like Pig Iron Productions and Crooked Dice) is perfect for any ultramodern gamers.

Speaking of gamers, thanks to the size of York it’s perfect for meeting up with people you’ve only talked to online. Putting voices to names is always exciting and getting to talk about the hobby is one of my favourite things.

PLANS FOR NEXT TIME

So what’s next?

  • Work on the plane – change the edges of the cut to look less uniform, curl some of the panels, add some interior details (dangling wires and cargo nets) and then tweak the paint job
  • General repair work – make sure there are no chipped edges
  • Get the new buildings from Supreme Littleness Designs ready for action – I’m really excited to get these buildings into action. As I want to build and paint them up myself, there is going to be a little bit time to put aside to get these things built up but they should improve the look of the board and provide a nice tactical challenge for the players.
  • Tweak the battle – We’re almost there. The final gameplay tweak is going to be adding another two-man patrol to the OPFOR start. However, this patrol will be further back – they are not designed to be sentries, instead they will be backup once the action starts.

Something else I’m thinking about is future games. In the projects post for this year I’d mentioned my plan to do a second demo game, with its first run at Fiasco. As fun as this would be, one of the things I realised is that I kind of missed going to Vapa as a customer rather than as someone demoing. Chatting to the figure makers was limited to during a few small breaks. I also didn’t get to do as much browsing as I would like. Combining this with possible work schedules and I think I’ll be having a year off. Game 2 will be bumped back, giving me some more time to work on what exactly I want to do.

CONCLUSION

I’m so glad that we managed to show off at York. I’m even more glad that people really seemed to enjoy it. I had lots of great feedback from people (as always, a downed C130 draws the eye) and was really happy that lots of people totting cameras stopped to take proper photos. Seeing as the planned items is also much smaller, I think we are almost there with this game. Fingers crossed, the version shown at Hammerhead will be the definitive version, perfect for its final planned showing. So keep your eyes open for the final part of Operation Dragon’s Hoard at Hammerhead in March.

Operation Dragon’s Hoard: Fiasco, Leeds

If you haven’t checked out the previous posts in the series on Operation Dragon’s Hoard, check out the page I’ve set up for it at https://hntdaab.co.uk/blog/demo-game-operation-dragons-hoard/

Operation Dragon’s Hoard had its first public showing last weekend. This was a pretty major turning point for this project – as well as having the game running, it also needed to actually attract people to it from the horde walking past.

Pre-Game Tweaks

Reminder of what the board looked like at Falkirk

Remember the massive list of things at the end of the last post? Unfortunately due to a couple of reasons (mainly the potent cocktail of other releases, work and finishing a book off), I didn’t manage to get any of the physical tweaks to the board done. I really don’t want get into adding more damage without having the correct tools and material for the job so I pushed back those changes to the long gap between Fiasco and Vapa.

One thing I did decide to do was adjust some positions of bits of terrain in order to change-up the dynamics. BLUFOR now approached the board from a full edge rather than just a corner piece. They also approached the plane side on rather than head on, meaning that the detached wing became less of a trench line. The other two points were shifting the buildings around, and moving the technicals from parked locations to more dispersed. As well as improving the look of the board, it helped to make things a little bit more natural looking.

The final decision was to adjust the number of characters on both sides. BLUFOR was reduced to two fireteams (8 in total) while OPFOR was maintained at 16. The aim with this was to keep a relatively quick pace of play (allowing for a quick turn around) while also providing a challenge. BLUFOR should still have a slight advantage but there should still be a little more balance that what was seen in the original run.

Details Of The Day

Part of the reason for choosing Fiasco as the first run was it’s on my home turf. Needing only to drive 30 minutes into Leeds to get to the Armouries meant I had a pretty relaxing morning. As I wasn’t a trader I could only use the back entrance for drop off. Luckily, there is a cheap nearby car park to leave the car in. In addition, being in Yorkshire meant I could grab my usual York based gaming buddy Peeb to help out.

Setup was relatively painless – the tables were already placed out in the hall and just need a quick swap round to create a more level surface. A quick look around the hall also made me realise I need to a bring a tablecloth next time to cover up the table underneath.

As it was pretty quiet at the start of the day (everyone more focused on seeing what was available rather than wanting to sit down to a game), I decided to jump into a quick game against my buddy in order to give the table some activity. To make it easier to stop and reset once someone became interested, we went for a tiny team of operators (just four) against the rebels. This first game was pretty relaxed so it ended up being a testbed/photo gathering chance. I also got to see Mr REDVector himself, and show off his buildings being put to good use.

Peeb decided to go loud in a rather spectacular way by shredding a patrol with a 40mm grenade and causing enough suppression to worry the elite reaction team hiding in the building.

The game also saw one of the OPFOR team manage to sneak behind the BLUFOR operators. Rushing up the wing and standing on the engine, he was interrupted by the operator snap firing. This shot managed to hit the OPFOR, dropping him. Nice try, but no one out sneaks Wyse.

At the end of the game, which ended with the BLUFOR operators with two figures down and the other two suppressed, we decided to do a few tweaks. Bringing the rest of the BLUFOR team on the field, we also moved the OPFOR DMR nest to tweak its field of fire. Rather than seeing across the entire board, the rear DMR now just had a good shot into the gap between the two plane sections.

As you might be able to guess from the lack of photos of Game 2, it was full on. Both myself and Peeb took control of the OPFOR forces to go up against three players (split up with 4 – 2 – 2 in terms of figures). Overall it was a bloodbath, with BLUFOR using its explosive advantages and reasonable skills while snapfiring to reduce the OPFOR team down to only three survivors before calling it.

After another gap (during which I ran round the floor grabbing some purchases while Peeb watched the table) and then we had time for one final game. Three kids took command of six operators and in perhaps a shocking display of the impetuous of youth, managed to achieve the most objectives of any games during the day. Highlights include an early maneuver that saw two operators pile on to a single militiaman and (I quote) “shank him”.

After the game was done it was time to pack up. Everyone we talked to seemed to like the board (especially the centerpiece) and many of those who got to play came away with saying how much they had enjoyed it. I also really liked how many people said how they had seen Skirmish Sangin before but were tempted to get back into it after seeing it being played.

Thoughts on Fiasco

As for Fiasco 2017 what did I think about it? It’s very definitely on the smaller side of shows, with a focus more on local clubs and retailers. As such, it got really quiet by the start of the afternoon and I think many people were there to simply get in, buy and then get out. The other thing is the hall is a little dark. Black curtains and roof worked okay but it did lead to lots of slightly overshadowed photos.

The location is great, relatively central to Leeds and only a short walk to the station. Car parking is expensive if you want to park right next door to the event but a short walk away is £3 all day – one of the joys of being on a Sunday.

Overall as an exhibitor doing something for the first time and with free accommodation in the city, it worked out great. I’m also tempted to come back next year with a new demo game but we will have to see.

Plans For Next Time

The next event is going to be Vapnartak in February at York Racecourse. This is the first Big show of the year I’ll be going to and as such I want to improve the board even more. So there are a few points to look at.

Fix the broken edges on the boards 

I really like the boards and they seem to have held up pretty well to models and dice bouncing off it. However, the edges have been suffering and so I need to do some emergency repairs. Luckily it should be relatively easy to repair. The bigger issue is how best to prevent this damage from happening too often.

Detail the plane

Yeah okay, I know I mentioned this one last time. Same plan however I should be getting the necessary tools (dremel and airbrush) and material (wire and aluminium foil) at Christmas

Improve the central objective

Still trying to decide between gold transport and mysterious box – either way this should be more interesting than the objective to “look through car”.

Tweak the balance

So we’re still not 100% on the balance. I think that 6 BLUFOR seemed to be the best number to balance speed and the giving the players enough toys to play with. On the OPFOR side, I want to tweak the composition. Primarily, I want to adjust the elite reinforcements so they don’t just roll out of building.

To make the game a little more exciting, I’m tempted to get some cards made for vehicles and have the OPFOR backup arrive in a pickup and backed up by a .50cal truck. This would force BLUFOR to get into a good location rather than letting them sit back and plink. It also helps with the action movie esque flow.

Build more explosion markers

I’ve learnt the ways from a friend at SESWC, but I think I need more. Especially if the Operators get more explosive weapons.

Make more cards

It’s safe to say the cards are a hit, with lots of comments and questions about them. With some upcoming releases and the possibility of swapping some figures out, more cards are needed!

Conclusion

So overall I’m calling Fiasco 2017 a success, which is a strange thing to say based on that name. The game worked, people enjoyed it and I didn’t destroy the terrain in transit. I should be doing an update post just before Vapa in the new year so keep your eyes open for that!

Battle Report: Home of the Wolf – Skirmish Sangin

It was the last club night before Halloween – something slightly spooky was required. With freshly finished scenario in one hand, and freshly painted werewolves in the other, we sat down to play… Home of the Wolf!

The scenario saw 8 UKSF soldiers and a SIS agent going up against 3 werewolves. Thanks to the design of the scenario, I managed to fit two games of it in.


The board ready to play, with an abandoned compound in the middle of a forested valley. I think this was the most trees I’ve used in any of my wargames.

First game saw me taking control of the werewolves. The SAS setup throughout the central compound, in particular taking the high ground.

Slightly blurry shot, but it isn’t a werewolf film without a shot of one howling to the moon. I went for a scatter approach, probing for a thin point and then using my superior speed to mass suddenly at that position.

The start of the game didn’t exactly go my way. Werewolf number 3 was shot before he even activated, having been spotted early on and shot down by the combined gun fire of two Operators (including the SIS agent).

Werewolf number 2 ran straight into the two-man combination of shotgun/LMG trooper, leapt on top of the gunner and ripped him to pieces sending morale markers everywhere. Werewolf kills generate additional morale effects so even the elite and veterans were suffering morale failures.

Meanwhile the Alpha bounded over the wall and engaged one of the operators covering the front. Luckily for the trooper, he managed to parry the werewolf’s furious strikes.

I must have missed the photo but the two-man killing team that took out Werewolf 3 slewed round and finished off the alpha as well. About 4 phases in and I was down to 1/3 of my force.

Back on the rooftop, the shotgun trooper now stared down the last werewolf. Before it could leap forward he took aim and pulled the trigger. And….

Rolled a misfire. The shotgun jammed and now required 3AP to clear it.

The last wolf leapt off the roof and went running for some concealment. Maybe another ambush would help it get its prey.

After having watched the operators move to regroup, the wolf jumped in to take out another operator but got hit by the mother of all snapfires. Everyone in the arc opened up. However, the wolf managed to take the storm of bullets before slashing it’s target down and then sprinting away into the darkness.

As the wolf player, I was running out of options. So I went for a hail mary – moving round the compound, leaping over the wall and then trying to get some stealth kills by sneaking up behind

Alas, it was not to be. The wolf’s attacks were parried and in the next turn, he was dogpiled by the remaining SAS troopers.

Final result – all wolves dead, two SAS trooper critically incapacitated. Looks like the boys at Porton Down are about to have some new things to investigate.


I took a different approach when I jumped in as the SAS. Rather than sitting in the compound, I decided to make a break for the separate building and look for a spot where I could take advantage of massed firepower without being ambushed (also to avoid wolves jumping over the walls). To this end, I setup at the south gate ready for a sprint.

The downside of this blob approach was the fact the wolves could get much closer and very soon one had jumped over the wall to get at a straggler. However, snapfire inflicted some serious damage, dropping him to half health and his attempts at combat were parried.

This wolf then attempted to flee but Cunningham the SIS agent was having none of it. Upon activating she turned, sighted the fleeing wolf and dropped it with a burst before it could regenerate

The SAS attempted to make a break for it but upon exiting the compound got slammed by the other wolf.

After some bouncing around (including a good few hits on the wolf that regeneration didn’t get round to fix) one of the wolves managed to cause a wound on one of the rear guard. This caused a bubble of morale markers but the Operators were not being put down by a few oversized dogs.

At this point, the Alpha really got to strut its stuff. First it disemboweled the shotgunner (the snapfire shot missed by rolling equal to the target value) before killing the LAW gunner outright.

Raging at this kill, three of the SAS bum rushed the Alpha and with a flurry of blows (helped by the fact the wolves can’t parry).

The other wolf, seeing the Alpha taken down, promptly failed its morale test and made a run for the hills, followed by a chorus of jeers from the surviving troopers.

And with that, another victory for the SAS. Two men dead (minced by the Alpha) and one injured but the werewolves had been fought off.

One point we thought up while playing – the pounce move mentioned in the PDF which knocks the enemies prone is designed to cause a problem in close quarters. For this reason, we changed its effects to match up to the “Trip Up” combat action – a nasty way for the wolves to avoid enemies parrying them. Similarly, if you find the wolves a little too squishy, some light armour would help.


Overall a fun, dumb scenario – perfect for Halloween. Don’t worry, we’ll return to your regular scheduled Ultramodern content next week.

Dare You Enter… the Home of the Wolf!

SHOWING NOW ON A WARGAME TABLE NEAR YOU…. 

Halloween is always a great time to put some stranger things on your wargames table. Rather than the usual zombies, and after watching a film or two, I instead pitched Colin on werewolves. Nasty, agile, ambush predators werewolves that are dead hard to kill. The scenario includes the special rules for the werewolves and a small scale action showing the SAS going up against a pack.

This free scenario (as well as some more serious ones) can be found on the Skirmish Sangin site at the download page http://www.skirmishsangin.com/downloads/


Tune in on Friday for this week’s battle report which will be this scenario. Good thing someone finished off some figures for it…

Plausible Deniability is available for Pre-Order

 
Plausible Deniability, the next supplement for Radio Dishdash’s modern day skirmish game, is now available to pre-order!
Plausible Deniability contains 12 Special Forces scenarios for Skimish Sangin. It includes 9 ORBATS of Special Forces teams ranging from MARSOC to GROM and all the associated rules to run a Special Operations campaign using the Skirmish Sangin rules.
Customers who pre-order today from the Radio Dishdash store will get the PDF version straight away and the printed version once they become available. They will also save $5.00 off the RRP.
For players interested in getting into Skirmish Sangin with Plausible Deniability, there are also bundle offers which include the original rulebook for a reduced price
Preorder Special Offer 1
Preorder Plausible Deniability for US$19.99 – That’s a US$5.00 saving
You receive the PDF immediately and the printed version when it becomes available. Purchaser will need to pay postage and packing from the USA, UK or Australia (nearest).
Preorder Special Offer 2
Preorder Plausible Deniability and add PDF version of Skirmish Sangin core rules for US$29.99 – That’s a US$10.00 saving
You receive the PDFs of both books immediately and the printed version when it becomes available. Purchaser will need to pay postage and packing from the USA, UK or Australia (nearest).
Preorder Special Offer 3
Preorder Special Offer 3 – Printed Skirmish Sangin, Printed Plausible Deniability (US49.99) – That’s a US$20.00 saving
You receive the PDFs of both books immediately and the printed version when it becomes available. Purchaser will need to pay postage and packing from the USA, UK or Australia (nearest).

Well that’s it – if you pre-order today you could be reading and playing the stuff I’ve been working on. It’s pretty exciting.