Battle Report: Operation Odeysus – Spectre Operations

Well… it’s been a while since I last did these. Like literally 18 months (18 months and 19 days to be exact) since the last time I planned, wrote and played an Ultramodern game set in Bazistan. A lot has happened in that time – “losing my cool” during that last game was the sign of something a little worse, I move 200 miles south and then we got stuck inside for almost a year.

But now? Well, I had the hankering to roll a dice or two. So why not take a step back to the fictional nation of Bazistan and carry on the story.

Background

It has been almost two years since the events that lead to the capture of Captain Amari of the AESA by elements of the Bazi Interior forces on the outskirts of Bazi City (see The House on the Corner). Alongside her and two of her Adenese colleagues, the capture of SAS Trooper Robert Chalk proved to be a political bomb, leading to the resignation of the Minister of Defence and (among other things), the collapse of the British government at the time. 

After being paraded on Bazi Television as spies, Amari, Chalk and others have been disappeared into a series of Military Prisons that the Bazi regime maintains. Bazistan has refused to return any of the prisoners while they are still alive. In the past year, the bodies of the two other AESA agents have been returned to the Republic of Aden’s government but there has been no sign of Amari or Chalk.

At the same time, counter-government forces in Bazistan have shifted to small scale open combat, especially around the second city of Alriyah. As the combat has increased in intensity, Bazi security forces have begun extracting important assets from the region. This has included the last two prisoners held in a secret prison. Thanks to dissidents in the Alriyah Police, British and Aden governments have been told that these prisoners are Captain Amari and Trooper Chalk.

In case you didn’t know, my games are set in an alternative universe where Yemen is actually split into two nations – the West leaning Aden and the monarchy ruled Bazistan (you can find. If you want more ways to tell it’s a fictional universe, the fact a scandal involving the parading of a British operative on TV actually causes the British Government to collapse.

Also yep, it’s time for a time skip. Last time the country was definitely at the tipping point but not quite into open warfare, mostly because most of the games I was playing were much more focused on small scale sneaky stuff or gradual skirmishing in the hills between Aden and Bazistan. This was mostly due to how my collection was themed, with larger forces not really existing.

Bazistan now, however, is in the early stages of collapse, mainly because having checked through my collection I realise I have plenty of figures that would be suitable for a larger set of games, possibly using Ultramodern or Chain of Command. With this larger size, it was time to turn the heat up a touch. Hopefully, we’ll be breaking out a few more insurgents and platoons of infantry to get into the fight.

Mission Briefing

UK Special Forces Command has drafted up a recovery plan. Taking advantage of the current insurrection taking place in Bazistan, UKSF has managed to infiltrate a small number of SAS operative into the region. As well as assisting the opposition forces, these SAS operatives have been on standby to attempt a rescue operation when Chalk and Amari were located.

Chalk and Amari are being extracted in a pair of Interior Ministry SUVs, accompanied by humvees belonging to Bazi Special Forces and regular Bazi Army forces. The convoy will be escorted by a Mi-35 Hind gunship. However, due to the current security situation, the gunship will only join the convoy once they have cleared the outskirts of the city.

This leaves a window of opportunity for the SAS to take advantage of. The element has discovered a possible ambush site in one of the city’s suburbs along the vehicle’s exit route. The goal will be to strike the convoy, recover the two passengers and then exfil the target area before any back up arrives.

I gave my Dastardly Regular Opponent the option to decide exactly how the SAS would recover the two targets and he chose a vehicle interdiction (the other option being a prison break). After a little bit of setup, and remembering the ramming rules in Spectre operations, it was time to break out the uprated vehicles and commit a traffic accident.

Forces

BLUFOR (the SAS) are rolling with a pretty stocked team of operators (as you’d expect for them planning an operation). The Ambush team (dressed in the desert robes) comprised of six Elite operators, armed with a mix of Carbines, suppressed MP7s and a combat shotgun. Knowing they would be up against vehicles and needing rapid armour penetration, the Carbines and shotgunner decided to use Armour Piercing ammo.

The BLUFOR support team of five Elite operators would take up overwatch positions. The key elements to this would be a heavy sniper rifle and medium machine gun (with an assistant), both set up on rooftops to create a killzone. For additional support, the team also has a medical specialist (to make sure the recovered objectives can be treated) as well as a UAV co-ordinator for overwatch. He also has access to a loitering glide munition just in case they need to blow the crap out of something. The team is definitely lacking in AT weapons, so having a contingency may be handy.

Finally were the BLUFOR vehicles. To create the traffic block, the shotgunner of the Ambush team would be driving an uprated civilian pickup, with improved engine and brakes, as well as a toughened front end (counting as a bullbar in the Spectre Operations rules). The extraction vehicle would be a white minivan, which would take the core team away quickly while the rest moved offboard to nearby transport.

On the other side, OPFOR were split into several groups. The main force was a convoy, comprised of two light humvees and two unarmoured SUVs. Both Humvees are armed with HMGs, but differ in their crew – the lead vehicle with Trained Bazi Army forces (with Assault Rifles and a MMG) while the rear vehicle was crewed by the Professional Bazi Special Forces.

Each SUV has four occupants – a hostage (either Chalk or Amari), a professional Operative from the Bazi Interior Ministry, a Professional Bazi Special Forces Operator and a Trained Bazi Army driver.

If the convoy runs into trouble, there are three tiers of response. The lowest level is a pair of Bazistan police in a civilian vehicle. These two are only militia fighters, but do come with G3 battle rifles stored in the car. The next level is a Bazi Army technical with four Bazi Army soldiers that is waiting to link up with the convoy. If it’s late, they will come looking for their objective. And if the SAS really cocks it up, well then a BTR-80a is following the convoy as a rearguard, complete with a squad of Bazi Republican guard.

SOP for the Bazi Army is to attempt to escape any ambush by pushing through. If held in place, the Bazi Interior Ministry operatives are ordered to eliminate the hostages. However, due to the situation in the Bazi government, not all Interior Ministry operatives are as loyal as they should be. A command roll may be required to see if their will holds…

Play-by-Play

We begin with the Bazi convoy speeding through the suburbs of Alriyah, bumping through the empty streets as the distant sound of gunfire fills the air, the sound of the dissidents being crushed by the Bazi Army.

The convoy keeps close together, turret gunners rotating left and right to cover the rooftops.

In a side street, the driver of a heavily armoured pickup truck pulls the shemagh over his face as the British voice in his ear counts down. “5… 4… 3… 2…”

Before the driver of the lead humvee can respond, the roar of a high powered engine fills the air, followed by a sickening “CRONCH” of metal on metal.

The impact of the armoured front onto the humvee knocks it off the road, the driver jarred by the impact until they slam into the jersey barrier at the side of the road. With a hiss, the engine stops working as the crew slump forward in their seats.

In contrast, the driver of the vehicle shrugs off the impact, pulls the Origin 12 shotgun off the dashboard and climbs out, leveling at the oncoming SUV.

With this impact, the rest of the SF operators appear out of cover. Covering the killzone, the marksman shifts his Heavy Sniper Rifle into position.

On another rooftop, the rest of the Overwatch team also setup, the MMG resting on the cover as his asistant prepares the belt.

Additionally, the rest of the Ambush team move out of the nearby buildings, taking up positions in cover to aim at the oncoming vehicles.

At the same time, two final Ambush operators move into cover beside an abandoned vehuicle and open up on the rear humvee with Armour Piercing rounds. These rounds shred the vehicle causing a mobility kill and killing the driver and gunner,

The Medium Machine gunner then opens up on the damaged lead humvee, the heavy 7.62mm rounds shredding the light armour and bouncing around the interior. Both the driver and passenger go down, taking the Bazi Army squad leader out of commission.

The first SUV continues driving attempting to smash through the now immobilised vehicles, the radio screaming “PUSH PUSH PUSH”. The SUV however is not an upgraded vehicle. It slams and comes to a halt, the engine softly smoking.

Before anyone in the car can react, the SAS shotgunner (having just moved out of the road as the SUV kept coming) runs up to the front passenger window, levels the shotgun at them and fills the front seats with multiple slugs, killing the driver instantly.

The other SUV decides to risk going off road and turns off into the desert. As it hits a divot in the ground, it bounces slightly.

Seeing the gunfight starting, and not wanting to be trapped in a light humvee against an opposition with serious firepower, the Bazi Army regulars disembark from the lead vehicle and into cover.

The cover however is not good enough. The MMG gunner shifts fire and hammers another burst, taking down the two regulars.

At the rear of the convoy, the two remaining Bazi SF guys manage to pull themselves out of the vehicle, taking cover behind the vehicle while frantically calling for reinforcements.

However, a few moments later the heavy sniper rifle hammers and takes out the Bazi SF trooper, leaving only the team leader alive.

SUV 2, unable to take the corner fully to escape, slams into the building, resulting in a mobility kill and knocking the crew out for a moment. However, in SUV 1, the survivors have disembarked. Their ears ringing, the Bazi SF trooper and Interior Ministry start trying to get the SAS to back off, holding a gun to the female hostage.

The SAS, fully aware of the upper hand they have in the situation, move closer keeping their guns trained on the Bazis.

At the rear of the convoy, the Ambush Team Leader and two members move forward towards where the Bazi SF had gone to ground, ready to take out the survivors

Still stunned, the crew of SUV 2 falls out of the vehicle leaving the male hostage inside. The Bazi Army trooper attempts to engage one of the SAS in the open but is rewarded with a burst of MP7 fire that takes them down.

Into this scene drives… The Police

Luckily a cross map heavy sniper rifle shot hits the civilian vehicle before it can get too close, hitting the engine block before it coasts to a stop.

The policemen dive into cover behind their car, pulling out their battle rifles from the back seat while demanding reinforcements at their location. They attempt to engage the SAS troopers, who are too busy dealing with the last remaining Bazi SF operator.

Coming under (Semi-)accurate battle rifle fire, the operator dealing with the Bazi SF team leader ends up simply smacking him around the face before turning round to deal with the threat.

After managing to suppress them with multiple Rapid Fire bursts from their carbines, the trio began to peel back towards the rest of the team.

Around the two damaged SUVs, the SAS team moved in to clean up.

Taking advantage of maintaining the initiative, the operators managed to move and clean up the bad guys, with a mix of close combat and close-range shooting.

And just in time, as the main Bazi army began to arrive. The technical, pausing at the end of the road start trading MMG fire with the team on the roof.

With the action about to hot up, the Ambush team leader reached into SUV 2 and dragged Trooper Chalk out before hoisting him over his shoulder

Trooper Chalk was reported to have hissed “You took your bloody time didn’t you?”.

And speaking of hotting up, the sound of grumbling engines announced the arrival of a BTR-80A and it’s troops. Heavy armour, an autocannon and a full belly of troops means this is not something to stick around and fight.

With very little able to actually deal with the BTR (and both hostages in their hands), the SAS beat a quick retreat. Bundling the two hostages into the minivan and driving off, the rest of the operators disappearing into the suburbs.

Wrap-Up

The Bazi Army inspecting the killzone

So, as you’d hope from a crack team of special forces, they successfully managed to extract the hostages and escape. Elite troops in Spectre Operations are exceedingly effective at their job and, in a situation like this, can rip the enemy apart. By getting the drop on the enemy, they were able to achieve the objectives.

Of course, this does leave them trying to evac a pair of hostages out of a hostile country in the opening stages of armed revolt. Not the simplest task, but it should be possible. On the other hand, the Bazi Army is not going to let themselves be made fools of.


Man, it felt good to be back rolling dice. And as much as I love Skirmish Sangin and all it’s details, Spectre has a lovely level of detail to it while still not requiring quite so much paperwork. It has lots of fun toys to play around with and a simple core that keeps it exciting. I’m looking forward to playing a few more games (even in solo) but hopefully we’ll be back to some multi-player games soon.

News: Spectre – Delta Release Overview

The D-Boys are here! As mentioned yesterday the Delta models from Spectre were released at 10pm yesterday. Spectre is putting a two week lead time on sending out these orders based on some comments on the Spectre Operations group but even so it’s still worth going over just what’s included in the range.


The first point to make is something I think a few people have missed – all the descriptions for the Delta range explicitly mention  “This is a multipart model and required some assembly”. Now, at first you might this is generic copy inserted by the Spectre website – however, I’ve been chatting to Stephen from Spectre and he smuggled out a secret preview for me (that I’ve been cleared to share).

Yep, we’re about to see the return of two part figures. Ironically, the last time I saw figures like this was way back in 2014 with the original Delta figures. Since then, most Spectre figures have been one piece, even as the sculpting has pushed the borderline of what is possible. However, the decision to go back to multipart figures has come (as Stephen said in our messages) from issues with guns breaking or bending in transit. This (as well as the stock issues) has been one of my biggest annoyances with Spectre so it’s good to see this being mitigated through the design work.

Also interesting to note this figure is from Spectre’s new casting partner. Cleanup was (apparently) minimal to none so hopefully we can go back to figures rolling off the production line with less need to spend time clipping waste pieces off them.


But okay, enough setup lets look at the range. To steal from the marketing copy:

The 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment–Delta (1st SFOD-D), more commonly known as Delta, The Unit or CAG (Combat Applications Group) are arguably the most elite, secretive unit in the world. With almost unlimited funding and access to extremely advanced technology, these models really epitomise what Spectre Miniatures are all about – SOF on the bleeding edge of modern warfare.

With guidance from advisors and after extensive research, we have very carefully decided how to represent this miniature.

These operators wear Arcteryx clothing and a mix of covert plate carriers, with light weight chest rigs and belt kit which carries extra magazines, chemlights, flash grenades and scalable frag grenades.
A mixture of Opscore and Crye Airframe helmets are also worn.

A key element of these miniatures is the integration of the Future Warrior program. Their Sig MCX Virtus SBRs are chambered for 300 Blackout and equipped with Wilcox BOSS XE optics. This next generation ‘smart’ optic monitors the performance of the weapon, counts shots and shares the information with other users in real time. Each operator also wears ‘Smart’ devices that monitor heart rate, blood oxygen and other vital statistics, which again can be viewed in real time with the unit commander and other operators. This information can also be viewed when the operator uses Enhanced night vision goggles, available as Smart Goggles from Spectre Miniatures. These enable complete integration with the other smart devices, as well as IR/Thermal hybrid and Augmented reality features.
Modified Glocks, with suppressor, red dot and light are worn as sidearms.

Key members of the unit also carry the revolutionary Slingshot communications system. To further enhance situational awareness for each operator, a smart phone is carried in a Juggernaut hard case on the chest and advanced in ear, low profile ear pieces are worn.

Spectre Marketing, Delta Assault Squad

The weapons may change based on the figure but the basic details are the same. These guys are some high end special forces tech, playing with all the latest toys. The use of Smart optics and AR is definitely bordering on the edge of Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter territory – remember when we thought Quad Eye NVGs from the SEALs was the cutting edge?

Weapon wise, we’re definitely beyond the realm of M4s and 5.56 – the assault rifles are SIG MCX variants (be they normal or the cut down Rattler) and all in .300 Blackout, a round that can be loaded subsonically and still hit with the energy of a 7.62mm AK round while keeping the STANAG mag’s capacity.

The first element of the release is a six person squad pack, giving you six shooters armed with the SIG MCX in variety of poses. This is going to be the core of your squad and it’s cool to see the variety – some in battle dress tops (even if it’s the fancy ones) while others wear softshells.

The first of the support options we’ll look at is perhaps my favourite – I have a soft spot for figures who have switched to their secondary (be it for desperation or sensible purposes). This Scout is definitely designed to be your pointman – he’s rolling a short and suppressed MCX Ratler but to be REALLY quiet he has a Glock out as his primary. It’s definitely a rather gucci one – mounting a weapon light, suppressor and (sighs) a red dot mounted on a bridge over the slide. He’s also got an AR eyepiece over his glasses, ideal for a scout to keep an eye on his teammates.

Of course my other soft spot? Breachers. Shocking I know, the man who goes airsofting covered in armour with a slung breaching shotgun likes breaching. The D-Boys get a really nice combination of gear for their Breacher – a SIG MCX Ratler as his primary and the suppressed SIX 12 ready for breaching work. The SIX 12 is an interesting gun, using removable revolver cylinders in a bullpup format to create a relatively compact shotgun that can be relatively easily swapped from separate weapon to underslung format thanks to it’s modular design.

Of course, you can’t entirely focus on close range fighting and so you’ll need some longer range support. The Marksman is rolling a full-length (and very nicely detailed) MCX Patrol with the magnified optic and MAWL laser/light box. Much like some of the other specialists, he has an AR eyepiece in place as well. I do like this guy’s pose, and I’m sure he’ll look great providing suppression while in cover.

Of course, if you prefer your suppression a little more in volume rather than precision, than the MG is the go to. Much like with the Tier 1 MG Bravo from last year, this guy is armed with the Knight Armament AMG, a medium machine gun with some rather good shooting characteristics. It also has a suppressor, laser/light unit and a holographic/magnifier combo, ideal for getting all those extra To Hit effects.

Of course, it’s not the future until you have your drones up and what better. Another Rattler user, he also is in the process of deploying a quadcopter drone ready to scan up ahead. If you bought the drone pack from a while back, you actually have the perfect model to go with this guy after deployment is done.

Finally, we have the big dog – the Commander. I really like this guy, Rattler held at a high rest while checking his smart device (which, as a neat detail, is not modelled on his vest because it’s in his hand). I think this figure might actually end up being used away from the rest of the squad as the perfect advisor model, combined with local forces or militias to provide them with training advice, and connection to the big guns.


As you can see, Spectre is kicking it’s way into the new year with a rather cool range. There are lots of cool bits of kit that will be fun on the tabletop and I’m really excited to see just people do with these models in terms of paint schemes and getting them on the table. Mine have been ordered and we’ll see them once they arrive!

News: Spectre STLs and New Releases

Two pieces of news regarding Spectre Miniatures.

Okay well actually three – the first being that they are still alive. Having had a chat with the team at Spectre, last year was just a whole host of misfortunes added together into a perfect storm. I’ll leave it to them to say however much they wish to but after talking to them, many of the issues in the last year (issues with models requiring more clean up than usual, a lack of stock on the site) should mostly be in the past… hopefully.

However, lets focus on the actual news. Fitting for me seeing as I’m writing a post on it, Spectre have entered the 3d printing game. Last week they put up a pile of STL files for sale on their website for personal use. Priced pretty reasonably, these cover a wide selection of pieces from weapons to put in your HMV to scenery items and stowage. I know this is something a lot of people have asked about and it’s great to see them release them. I’m also intrigued to see what will come next – maybe the HMV turrets would be a useful addition.

It’s important to note that they are not planning to release their vehicles through this system which… is fair. There is a lot of work and design details in their 3d modelling and STLs are an inheritably open system – selling models this way would be asking for piracy and unlicensed selling. I would like them to be sold as STLs (you can never have enough humvees) but I think the maths to make it worth doing would probably make them incredibly expensive.

Hescos – Spectre Resin on the left, my own 3d printed version on the right

I had a little play with the files I picked up. They are nice STLs but arrive unsupported, so some work may be needed. As you can see above with the hescos, the ones bought from Spectre are going to have much more detail than the one printed by an entry-level 3D printer. That said, I was impressed that the 3d printed model actually maintained some of the texture detail, such as the netting on the corners of it. If you’re willing to accept these differences, and of course have the printer to make them, then you’ll be able to crank out hesco outposts at a fraction of the cost.

The STLs can be found on their website at https://www.spectreminiatures.com/collections/stl-files


Next piece of news – Looks like we have a release incoming. Spectre put up this on their Instagram earlier today showing off some new figures. These are the brand new Deltas that Spectre had announced were on their way.

Interesting to note that this is a pack of 6 figures all armed with assault rifles (SIG MCXs based on the previews. They also look like an updated version of the Task Force Operators (as you might expect) – new gear, new guns.

You may recall that last year we saw the previews of them in 3D sculpt form. Only one of these figures are in the preview image, while the pistol wielding operator and drone controller are missing. The ChargeBlog Reasearch Group did throw around the idea that we might see the riflemen released as a squad pack, while the specialists are added later in smaller blisters. Or these might have just been the figures that were ready for previewing. Either way, I’m excited to see how these releases will go.

Battle Report: The House On The Corner – Spectre Operations

So here we go, the direct follow on to the last game.

After the events during the attempted hand over of two Aden citizens, Captain Amari and her rescuing SAS team have fallen back to an Aden External Security Agency (AESA) safehouse on the outskirts of Bazi City. The team has decided to go to ground, waiting for a security gap to allow them to escape back across the southern border.

Meanwhile, the rebel leader has taken the intelligence gained from the captured local fixer and used it to locate the enemy safehouse. Rather than risking his own forces, the leader has instead sold the information to the Internal Security Forces of Bazistan (ISFB). 

After all, when you find a criminal den, you call the police.

The Forces

Limping away from their firefight in the badlands, the forces of the AESA and SAS were limited to a small number of operators. Six Elite operators, mostly using carbines but supported by an LMG would be the main force. Along with the Elite Captain Amari, three other Trained AESA staff members were on-site and armed with assault rifles which would provide some extra guns.

The BLUFOR objectives were to prevent any opposing forces from capturing evidence of illicit activity taking place on Bazi soil by the Aden Government. This would mean holding off the opposing force long enough to destroy the pair of servers holding operations data, demoing the supplies in the garage building and then extracting as much of the personel as possible, including the unarmed civilian AESA station chief.


Prompted by details of the safe house, the Bazi Ministry of the Interior assembled a large force to deal with the security threat. To provide the training core, the Bazi Army hired six Professional Argo Contractors, each armed with modern CQB small arms and grenades, body armour and NVGs. These troops could be parcelled out, either mentoring the lower skill Bazi units or acting as a close-quarters assault force.

And speaking of the Bazi Army, they are providing two units. The elite(ish) Bazi Special Forces would be taking part in the assault. Although only Trained, the 6 man Bazi SF team were equipped with CQB weapon systems. They are also arriving in a Tigr armour vehicle, mounting an MMG (the automatic grenade launcher being banned due to the ROE). A much larger presence was the regular Trained Bazi Army, bringing an 8 man squad in body armour and carrying an MMG and an RPG (just in case). They also arrive on the board in a BTR-80A – despite having its main claws trimmed by the ROE, it can still help the assault through using the armour and its Medium Machine Gun. Finally, a Technical from the Bazi Army would provide MMG support.

OPFOR objectives are simple – capture as much evidence of insidious actions against the Bazi Royal Family and Government taking place on Bazi soil. Ideally, the Interior Ministry would love to have some captives to parade on TV and so capturing the opposing force is a priority.

The Setup

First of all, let’s take an overview of the setup. Taking place in the suburbs of Bazi City, strict ROE is in place regarding the use of explosive weaponry such as the RPGs or autocannons. The mission also takes place at night. (Although this may have been forgotten once the action kicked off)

(As an aside, I really want to get some more of my buildings painted up and ready for play. As much as I like the layout, a few more buildings would have really set the suburban scenes)

The AESA compound in the photo above is located south of the road and focused on the main safehouse, with two other smaller buildings acting as annex’s, including a garage. Several concrete walls and barriers provide cover. On the other side of the road, a multi-level construction as well as several smaller buildings filled with non-combatants.

The Special Forces in the Tigr slowly rumbled down the side road. Pausing only to let three of the team disembark, the vehicle prepared to push on into the main compound. Upfront, an Argo contractor kept an eye on the gentleman in the orange outdoors coat, listed as a possible AESA agent.

On the other side, a technical from the Bazi Army rolls up, MMG swinging to focus on the target building.

Inside the safehouse, the BLUFOR operators were unalert but at risk of a future assault. For this reason, they were checking entrances. Upstairs, the SAS were taking positions at the windows and doors, trying to cover all the angles.

On the ground floor, the AESA statin chief, a SAS operator and Captain Amari were in discussion. Two AESA agents were also on this floor, one in the makeshift server room and the other checking keeping watch.

Events

As the night rolls on, the Bazi Army makes it’s assault.

Three of the Bazi SF operators setup on and then breach into the garage building, the sound of boots on wood echoing through the night. Inside, they find a stockpile of supplies destined for anti-government rebels – in other words, jackpot.

With the sound of vehicles moving the raised voices, the inhabitants inside the building start to setup. Table are flipped, guns checked and made ready to go.

Making a tight turn, the Tigr bursts into the compound, causing the AESA agent to make a break for the annexe. The civilian he was talking to, after adopting a surrendering gesture then attempted to run. Twigged by this movement, the Tigr’s gunner opened up with a burst of fire, dropping a suspect to the dirt. The first casualty had taken place.

The Tigr also ended up being a bit of bullet magnet, with SAS troopers both inside the main building and the annexe engaging it and piling on suppression.

On the other side, a fireteam of the Bazi Army troops were moving alongside the BTR and getting ready to stack up on the back door. However, with a smash, a frag grenade thrown by one of the SAS came flying out, landing in the middle of the attackers and shredding most of the force.

Hearing the gun battle outside rising, Captain Amari snatched thermite grenades off the AESA agents and got to work, placing them on the server racks to destroy the lists of operations inside Bazistan.

At this point, the three man infiltration set of contractors were getting ready to rush the building, sprinting across the road. The squad leader suddenly looked to his left when, with a roar of an engine, the BTR came flying down the road, turning the corner and then…

BOOM

It collided with the building, it’s prow smashing through the wall, the driver’s head coming flying forward and breaking his neck. The rest of the crew and passengers were stunned, leaving the three operators outside to keep pushing.

Inside the room, as the dust settled, the room was a mess. After talking it through, we decided that everyone in the room would be stunned, the cloud of dust and rubble smashing things aside.

On the other side, the Bazi SF split up, starting to assault the two buildings. Unfortunately, they ended up being caught in the cross of the SAS LMG and a riflemen, eliminating the trio on the ground floor.

The PKM gunner, his ears ringing, hit the deck and got ready to open up while his Argo buddy got ready to move up. However, a quick burst of assault rifle fire and the MMG went silent. The contractor hower brought his SMG up and trained it on the window when…

BOOM

A thunderous blast of from the upstairs, accompanied by a pile of shrapnel, and suddenly the fire from the upstairs windows slowed. The SAS team leader was preparing to drop a grenade on the assault for below when he fluffed his throw. Landing on the window sill in front of him, the blast took him out, the concussion echoing around the roof the room and stunning his teammates.

The operator, who had taken out almost a whole team by himself, was caught standing in the window stunned by a burst from the Argo contractor. He dropped dead, leaving only two SAS operators standing upstairs.

In the Annexe, the SAS operator and AESA agent looked at each other and decided to make a move, busting out the window and getting ready to make a run for it.

After a short scuffle, one of the Argo Contractors managed to tackle and drag the AESA Station chief back outside of the ruined front room, letting the main Bazi Army push inside. Another contractor around this time also attempted to knock unconscious one of the SAS operatives. After a short scuffle hower, the SAS operative was killed in the fighting.

Outside, the last of the Bazi SF were taken down, the SAW in the SAS gunner’s hands hammering away and shredding what was left of the door.

This is a bad photo of the event, sorry

As a final push, the last rifle operator upstairs attempted to rush down and rescue the AESA station chief. However, the Contractor holding the captive simply swung around and clocked him around the face with his rifle, knocking the operator unconscious and adding him to the captive pile.

Inside, the Bazi Army and Argo contractors burst into the server room, finding Captain Amari slowly raising her hands and kneeling down.

On the other side, the servers gently smoulded, useless to anyone. Amari was still smirking when the rifle butt came down on her face from an irate Bazi Army trooper.

The last AESA agent, crying out for updates from the explosion behind him while still keeping an eye on the Bazi SF before they were cut down, was very surprised when an Argo Corporation merc grabbed him by the neck and slammed him into the door. And with that, resistance at the compound was ended.

AFTERMATH

Although missing out on the data, the Bazi force did manage to take four inhabitants of the compound hostage. Three AESA agents, including the famed Captain, and a single British citizen should be a handy group to show on Al-Jeezra as proof Aden is not to be trusted. The stockpile of material in the garage would help with this, providing shocking evidence.

Of course, three BLUFOR operators did manage to get away. Perhaps they may return in future missions?


Overall, it was one hell of a game. I did not expect the BTR to be used as a battering ram, nor for just the sheer number of grenade fails. I did lose my cool a little (I blame the heatwave we’re in) when it came to keeping the game flowing and also forgot a rule or two (such as sidearms in CQB). On the other hand, the Spectre rules still play fast and feel brutal.

But this is setting up the next mission in the campaign. With Captain Amari in chains, I think it’s time for someone to build a prison (I’m thinking a few of the Knights of Dice apartment buildings) and prepare a rescue. The question is… who will be doing the rescuing?

Battle Report – Operation Monte Carlo – Spectre Operations

Well it’s finally time. Spectre Operations V2 has finally arrived on my desk and it pushed me to go get a game of it together down at the wargames club. And having just watched Triple Frontier, the idea of contractors doing bad things for gold was sat on my mind. And then I found the gold marker from my demo game and an idea was formed.


Background

Due to the announcement of ISAF-AP’s intention to reduce the number of troops currently involved in direct ground operations in Bazistan, the recently formed democratic government of The Bazi Republic has decided to contract the Argo Corporation to run and assist it’s internal counter-insurgency programs.

Using a core of trained contractors, (veterans of operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan), accompanied with locally hired fighters (many former insurgents or ex-regime military), Project Final Hand has been a strategic success, clearing several areas of rebel activity entirely as well as making strides in others. Their success has been a key feature in the Argo Corporation’s PR documents for the next year.

However, Argo has a history for mismanagement of projects like these and so payment for those involved has been somewhat delayed. This has led to some unsavoury activities – contractors moonlighting for private militias or selling high-end equipment on the open market. Additionally, the use of former insurgents has led to some concerns of information leaks and backroom deals between unit commanders and the remaining insurgent cells.

And then rumours started to spread. Rumours about a C130 that crashed into the Bazi desert over a year ago. About how it was carrying a shipment of the Bazi Family’s gold reserve. Something that was never recovered but some say was found by a rebel band and carried away. Perfect for the taking, if only someone knew where it was…

Situation Brief

The Players

BLUFOR – The Argo Corporation

BLUFOR was comprised of two groups of Argo Corporation Contractors and locally hired help.

Group 1 was the Quick Reaction Force. 6 Professionals, including a squad leader, all armed with carbines (and the usual extra tricks), pistols, and frag and stun grenades. The team also carries first aid kits and wear body armour. They are mounted in an LTV, an armoured patrol vehicle mounting an HMG in a remote weapon station with an MMG on the flexible rear mount.

Group 2 was a squad of local trained troops in body armour and totting a PKM and an RPG alongside the assault rifles. They were also led by a single Professional trooper to act as their mentor (bringing their skills up to a higher level) while also giving him frags and smokes alongside his carbine to act as a force multiplier.

OPFOR – Local Bazistan Militia

The OPFOR was a bit more random. To represent this being an insurgent stronghold with hordes of bad guys being woken and pulled into the fight, I just kept adding more and more fighters each turn. These were randomly selected but mostly armed with assault rifles, representing the rank and file arriving.

Additionally, the rebel commander could call for reinforcement using a command test. If successful, the player could then request specific weapon selections like RPGs or machine gunners.

They also had two IEDs which could be placed to along the route and could be set off via two triggermen (portrayed on the board as civilians).


The Battlefield

The gallery above shows the layout of the board. As you can see, it’s a real street fight, a mixture of large and small buildings around the main road. The new walls I painted up helped to improve the feel slightly as well as adding some cover. And I FINALLY got to put that pylon on a gaming board.


Recap

As the game begins, BLUFOR started to roll into town.

The QRF remained in the vehicle, while the local force broke down into two groups.

With the rumbling of the LTV echoing through the streets, an insurgent group breaks cover and starts to setup an RPG-29.

A local peers out of the doorway as the armoured vehicle rumbles past.

Despite rumbling forward, the LTV’s remote weapon system managed to come to bear on the insurgent that had popped out from behind the concrete barricades. A quick burst and the threat was downed.

The sound of gun fire draws in another group of insurgents.

BLUFOR continues to advance, the locals sticking close behind the vehicle as it advances.

Another shot as the LTV crew suddenly spots the barricade blocking the way toward the objective.

A successful command test brings out a fighter with an anti-material rifle. He sets up watching the road, lining up his scope on the driver’s windscreen. His first shot simply cracks the glass, causing the gunner to change his target.

More fighters start to spill out out into the streets, ready to ambush the approaching BLUFOR. Above, another civilian pulls out their phone, his fingers hovering over a special contact…

A civilian narrowly avoids a grizzly end when they step into the street in front of the towering armoured patrol vehicle.

One of the insurgent groups decide to engage more directly and take up firing positions on the ground floor of the corner building. These guys actually managed to put some fire down and take out two local force soldiers before the LTV blocked them from view.

The LTV suddenly now enters a target rich environment – the marksman down the road or the squad of hostiles in cover.

He picks the marksman, the hail of .50cal round tearing the rooftop apart and suppressing the threat easily.

The next turn, as the insurgents start to take up ambush positions, another burst of .50cal fire takes out the anti-material threat, the impacts kicking up a plume of dust.

With the way forward blocked, the LTV turns and begins to head down the side road. Inside, the QRF start to get a little concerned about the occupants of the buildings around them.

All the while, the local forces had been moving to take up positions to support the LTV’s advance. After taking fire from a two storey building ahead of them, one fireteam from the local forces hunker behind the road barriers and return fire.

However, the insurgents began to move forward in force, taking up ambush positions.

As the LTV rounds the corner, the action hots up. The two operators in the back (only one pictured), looking up at the rooftop above them suddenly spotted movement. With reactions created by long hours of training, the carbines come up and hammer the low wall the enemy were crouching behind, ready to ambush. This fire successfully suppressed the insurgents above, making them far less effective.

The RWS system then dropped elevation and hammered through the wall, each shot taking out more of the insurgents and pinning down the last squad member.

The local forces were also in contact. After taking out the group on the rooftop that had initially slowed them, they soon received a reversal of fate when an RPG went off in their midst, vaporising their squad leader and sending two others into bleeding out states.

Things soon turned from bad to worse as the insurgents above managed to pop their heads up and mag dump into the rear portion of the LTV. When the dust cleared, one of the QRF had fallen backwards off the cargo bay, immediately KIA by the hail of shots.

With time running out at the club (not helped by me messing around before the game started after leaving a few things at home), the BLUFOR player decided to push on through the streets. And then this happened – a car bomb IED went off, stunning the crew and bringing the vehicle a halt. Just in time for an RPG to be spent spinning into the back of the crew compartment and injuring everyone inside.

As the LTV sat smoking on the street corner (and the hours having ticked by), we called it there. The contractors had tried their hardest to get into the town but with multiple casualties and an immobilised vehicle, they would have to concede.


Analysis

Overall the game was pretty fun for me to setup and run (and it looked impressive) but something was quite right. BLUFOR struggled to get off the starting line and then bogged down at the second corner.

Now, this was our first game in a while playing Spectre Operations and the rules played beautifully. Anyone in the open got taken out very quickly, shooting was quick to work out and it was simple to perform some cool manevoures. It was also a nice change of pace to plan – I love Skirmish Sangin’s character depth but just being able to use a standard chart helped.

After having a few days to think about it, I think the issues/tweaks fall into two areas:

Scenario Tweaks

Photo from SESWC

So I designed the scenario after only a very quick initial read and vague remembering of my time testing version 2. For this reason, there were a few things I was worried about (such as vehicles being basically invulnerable and professionals running rings around everyone else) and may have ended up correcting a little too far.

First of all, the masses of reinforcements the insurgent player was given. This did a really good job of making the BLUFOR player realise how much trouble he was in as AK totting gunmen just sort of appeared on the board every turn. On the other hand, it did also mean that there was an awful lot of OPFOR on the table and they were able to set up ambush points far too easily. I think rather than just offering free reinforcements every turn, I should have required the command roll AND let the player pick between 5 goons or support weapons.

I also think I didn’t provide enough forces for BLUFOR. An additional unit, probably some more trained forces to represent local friendly militia, would have given the player another option, a set of troops to move down one of the flanks and help keep their offensive moving while also giving another set of rifles to engage targets with.

Finally, the route. I set up the barricades to really force the LTV down a specific route (I blame designing for video games) and so placed the barricades up at the first junction. However, when combining this with the building arrangements, the LTV had no options at all. What I should have done is to move the barricade down a single junction, forcing the LTV to choose between the long sightlines and exposure of the main road

Tactical Tweaks


Photo from SESWC

However, at the same time, I think there were a few tactical decisions that I should have been advising with. Ultramodern gaming is quite a niche period and requires a slight adjustment in tactics thanks to the sheer power of modern firepower. As the guy running the game, it should fall to me to help guide newer players in the tactics to use.

First of all, staying in the vehicle. The QRF really wasted an opportunity by staying in the LTV as it bimbled along slowly at walking pace so it could continue engaging with the .50cal. Instead, four of the six operators should have disembarked to escort it, letting them use their carbines to add an additional 8 shots every turn. This would have helped to put the fir down more, letting them take down the opposition to more manageable number.

In addition, the BLUFOR guys had some toys they didn’t use. The QRF guys had stun grenades and frags, perfect for busting in and clearing buildings filled with bad guys (such as the corner building). In addition, the professional mentor had smokes which could have been useful when manevouring into the buildings.

After both of these facts, I think BLUFOR should have pushed harder. Using combat sprint to bust into the corner building and secure a multi-storey fire position for the local force’s RPG and MMG to start engaging the enemy forces. Additionally, setting up in there would have meant the LTV could have sped up and moved faster.

Finally, civilians. I should have made it more obvious about letting the BLUFOR player arrest civilians to prevent them from being used as triggermen. This would have encouraged them to perform actions that might have neutralised IEDs before they turned the LTV to broken chunks of metal.

Overall though, the idea of the mission is good, my plan is to illustrate the tactics more and make people aware of the special points that Spectre brings over other modern games.

Spectre Operations: Building A Force – Irregular Support

In the first two posts in this series, we took a look at the basics of building a force, with posts looking at both task specific teams for infantry and the basics of vehicle use. In this part, we’re going to continue the theme of irregular forces (that we looked in post 3). As with previous parts, this article is designed primarily for Spectre Operations but many of the tactics are valid in all modern skirmish games.

(Delving into the archives for this week’s photos – it’s been a busy week)


In the last article we looked at the core of any irregular force, the infantry. Having had you’re greens, we’re now going to talk about the dessert of playing Irregular troops – support options! We’re going to save details of Off Tablet Assets for the next post so for now it’s all the things that will be on the board.

Nothing beats a lack of training like a mass of firepower

Support options are where the irregulars can really level the playing field (often literally).  This is where most of your killing power is going to be, able to get through the Regulars advantages and make life for your infantry easier. Thanks to the relatively low points cost of your core forces, you can often bring a great variety of support to table with a larger selection of options.

Scenario/Setting Bonuses

Before we go into stuff you can buy in the rulebook, lets talk about how the scenario writer should be helping you out. With a few exceptions, irregular forces are not going to be going to pitched battles against regular forces. Irregular forces will use other types of engagements, ofter where they have the chance to prepare the ground or force the opposing force to act in certain ways. These elements are the responsibility of the scenario writer and, while they can be incredibly effective at murdering the balance of a scenario, they are fantastic at helping to set the scene.

There are two types of force multiplier irregular forces can get from the scenario special rules – Bonuses to the Irregulars and Negatives to their opponents:

Bonuses

An Afghan sniper uses the ratline to get into position for the perfect shot

Bonuses are rules that give an advantage to the irregular player. It might be something as simple as having the first turn or starting with the initiative but more characterful mission writers will give you a tool that matches your force.

An example of a bonus is the existence of ratlines (also described as Hot Spots in Force on Force). Representing either tunnels or access to other routes, these give the insurgents a mobility advantage. Dpeending on the scenario, this advantage can either be at  initial deployment (letting teams appear where they can gain the most effect) or during the game itself (letting your troops perform hit and run attacks more easily). Having to clear ratlines also slows enemy units down, especially if they require specialist gear that has to be brought into position. OTAs can help to reduce the effectiveness of ratlines (it’s hard to get away from an eye in the sky) but they can still be a powerful force multiplier.

Another bonus is allowing the recycling of KIA troops to represent overwhelming reinforcements rushing into battle. As well as reducing the number of figures you need paint, reinforcements will allow you to keep the pressure on for longer. Rather than having to worry about winning a firefight as your troops diminish, you get to keep pushing bodies at the opponent. This often won’t

If we look outside of Spectre Operations, Skirmish Sangin includes some characterful bonuses designed for the irregular Afghan forces. Disguising your dickers alongside other civilians requires regular troops to get close before engaging. Adding some goats to the table will make it more likely ambushing troops are discovered. Even the ability for a fighter to ditch their kit and merge with the population will prevent that fighter from being a potential intelligence source or addition to a kill count at the end of the game.

Negatives

Marketplace full of civilians or possible hostiles? Break out the PID checks

Negatives is effectively when you grab the opposing forces’s hand and stop them from being able to use their troops exactly how they want to. Although you can choose to do this physically (your opponent will object, especially if it stops them going for their beverage of choice), I really mean implementing Rules of Engagement and requiring PID. Both of these elements are a part of any modern counter-insurgency and can be incredibly frustrating for the regular troops constrained by them.

Rules of Engagement can vary depending on the situation. It might be limiting the use of certain weapon systems (I.e. don’t engage key buildings with heavy weapons) or restricting actions of your troops (don’t engage targets unless they are already engaging you) but no matter what happens it’s going to force a change in play style. As the irregular player, use this. Enemy can’t engage civilian buildings? Start taking pot shots out of them. Depending on how much you know about the enemy’s ROE, you can really use it to your advantage.

Within this is the concept of PID or Positive Identification. This is how regular troops can actually work out who the bad guys are. This is normally a dice roll that, if successful, reveals the enemy and lifts elements of the ROE. This is has the potential to cause a real issue to you, requiring you to stay out of sight to prevent being rumbled before you are ready. But it also slows down the regulars, and a failed test might cost them the turn needed to prevent you getting a grenade or shot off.

Unconventional Systems

A key part of running an irregular force is releasing they you are not going to play the game in the same way as a regular force. You’ll have much less capable troops,  often much less in the way of direct fire superiority and will probably lack in off table assets. Unless you have a massive advantage in man-power, you’re going to have to look for advantages elsewhere.

The mere mention of IEDs can slow down Regular forces

If the situation makes sense, IEDs and land mines can be a very useful tool. They can be either vehicle or infantry killers and set up to detonate via different method but at the end of the day it’s a way of suddenly striking your opponent without having to expose the bulk of your force (other than maybe a spotter). The bigger devices are a cheap way of knocking out armoured vehicles but don’t dismiss the smaller stuff – an injured soldier is going to affect the rest of the squad.

Even a small device can cause havoc

Finally the mere idea that IEDs are there can also affect how your opponent plays. Every bit of scatter terrain becomes a possible marker for a device. Use this to your advantage!

Now, this final option isn’t for every player, and some people may find it a distasteful element to include. Suicide activated IEDs give you another method of getting explosives into an enemy force without needing to be on the defence. One figure in the right place can cause massive damage, while a vehicle based system is an extreme threat to

Heavy Weapons

Right, lets talk about the big guns. Emplaced weapons are a quite attractive prospect for an irregular player. Most have either high rates of fire or large blast areas, which go a long way to negating the shooter’s low shooting skill. They also normally have several special rules like armour piercing or tank killer that can help get killing blows where other weapons fail.

A DsHK can really ruin an elite operator’s day

Now, they do come with several disadvantages. They are not quite as effective on the attack as on the defence (unless you can find a good position early in the game to cover the entire battlefield). They are very vulnerable to return fire and have a severe mobility issue, requiring the gun to be assembled and disassembled. However, when brought to bear, these weapons can. Especially on defence, assembling these heavy weapon teams in supporting positions and forming a crossfire will let you easily pin down a more professional force.

Of course, if you want to avoid the mobility disadvantages, there is a couple of ways you can get around it…

Vehicles

TECHNICALS

You guessed it, technicals. As I’ve covered in the past, these pickups with heavy weapons give you the firepower of an emplaced weapon while mounted on a much more mobile chassis. On the other hand, they do provide much less protection so you don’t want to get caught in the open. Treat them like a more mobile heavy weapon team rather than an armoured vehicle, putting a few round down range and then relocating.

The arrival of an armed APC can cause serious havoc

Of course, there are plenty of cases where rebel forces get their hands on actual armoured vehicles and bring them into play. In most cases, the crew are more enthusiastic than well trained but fundamentally they act in a similar way to other vehicles on the board. For more hints, take a look at the second article in this series.

Bringing in the Professionals

A small group of militia come under fire but are steadied by the presence of a professional contractor

If you’re getting bored of just having a bunch of poorly trained militia in your force, the situation may allow for the addition of a few Elite or Professional soldiers. There are multiple occasions in modern war where regular and irregular forces have worked alongside each other, such as in Syria where both sides have had Special Operations troops working with militia. On the wargames table, the addition of a small group of elite operators can help to give you a few more options. Fundmentally, there are two ways to use them.

Option 1 is to include a Professional or Elite mixed in with your less well trained groups. This utilises the Mentoring rule and can be handy to keep the irregulars in the fight, both with the physical presence and with the equipment they can bring. For example, battlefield trauma kits (unavailable to anyone below professional) will prevent unnecessary casualties. Alternatively, certain weapons will be very helpful alongside irregular groups, such as a marksman with a high shooting skill or a weapon system unavailable to most forces such as the airburst grenade launcher. At the simplest level, an operator with this ties them into a radio net with characters with much higher command values, making recovery from suppression much easier.

Option 2 is to keep the Professionals or Elites in a separate squad. This focuses the power in one place, letting them keep moving thanks to their superior training and get their skill set onto the target. This prevents their skills from being diluted (you have a squad guaranteed to get most of their shots on target) but can leave them vulnerable if the irregulars decide to pack it in.

Conclusion 

As you can see from this post and the last, there are a lot of options for players to use when operating as an Irregular force. Depending on what style of force, you will be bombarded with the different ways of getting the job done. Think carefully about what you’re trying to do and then pick what fits the situation. The only main difference between you and the regular player? Just expect more of you guys only wearing t-shirts.

Next time, we’re going to return to the land of Regular troops to talk about Off Table Assets and air power. What is the best way to use these game changers? How do you make sure you don’t have to change your mission to Blackhawk Down? And finally, how much OTA is too much OTA?

Spectre Operations: Building A Force – Irregular Forces

In the last two posts in this series, we took a look at the basics of building a force, with posts looking at both task specific teams for infantry and the basics of vehicle use. In this part, we’re going to be taking a look at some of the points relating to more irregular groups. As with previous parts, this article is designed primarily for Spectre Operations but many of the tactics are valid in all modern skirmish games.

Irregular forces, by their definition, vary massively in style. They can be anything from untrained groups of fighters armed with nothing more than an AK and the shirts on their back up to well equipped groups that rival (and in some cases beat) the more traditional forces in terms of capabilities. However at a fundamental level, building an irregular force still relies on the commander identifying the goal and picking what is needed to fulfil the task.

So why am I writing a separate post for these less well trained forces? Why am I not just reposting the first article but changing the pictures? Well, Irregular troops normally don’t have all the benefits of national forces and so there are several points they need to think about.

Manpower

The first point to realise is that in most cases, your forces are going to be much less effective on a one to one scale than the regular forces you’ll normally find yourself up against. In Spectre Operations (and in most games), this will mean you’ll have a lower chance of hitting when shooting, be more likely to become suppressed (as there is no cap on your and will lose in a close quarters fight in one to one combat. Put simply, the bulk of your guys are a bit shit.

However, it’s not all bad news – after all, quantity has a quality all of it’s own. If you play with points based forces, your militia and trained soldiers will be much cheaper, meaning you can more easily flood the board with forces. If instead you play scenarios, most of the time the writer will give the irregular forces a significant numerical advantage, either through just have more guys on the board or letting casualties be recycled back into place (perhaps representing militia fighters finally getting into position before joining the battle). As many of the battles wargamers play will feature teams of SF operators assaulting locations, the irregulars will often be on the defensive, often letting you setup in positions and dare the enemy come towards you.

Having a numerical advantage doesn’t guarantee a victory but it can certainly help. Especially when you consider the next point.

Redundancy

Put simply – you’re gonna need a bigger squad. Seeing as the . If you were working from some of the teams from the first article, I’d probably add two or four more guys armed with assault rifles to add some extra firepower or “ablative armour”. An alternative way to keep your force moving is to take additional smaller squads armed simply, without machine guns or explosives, and use them as supporting units to your task orientated squads. This lets you leverage your greater numbers, protecting your main force by engaging first with lighter elements or by outflanking the professionals.

Special Weapons

At the same time, you get some useful weapons. The stereotypical irregular group (seen everywhere from Afghanistan to Sub-Saharan Africa) has two aces up their sleeves – the RPG-7 and the PKM Medium Machine gun. Both of these weapons are encumbering so you’ll be slowed slightly while using them. On the other hand, they do provide a massive benefit. The MMG has a longer range than the SAWs most modern forces are armed with, has a greater lethality and can also cut through body armour and light vehicles thanks to the armour piercing rule. Sustained Fire also lets you spread the fire across multiple troops, useful when fighting Professionals and Elites who can only take a certain amount of suppression. The RPG on the other hand is all about causing damage. Although it can’t fire indirectly like a UGL, it’s more than capable of putting suppression down on a large group. Additionally, it can also help when engaging enemy vehicles depending on which warhead you use.

By combining these two weapons together, your basic squads will be able to kick out a lot more firepower than your enemy might be expecting. There are also other weapons that might be handy to include in an irregular force. A common trait for many of these is Armour Piercing, helping to make your guys more effective against enemies wearing body armour or vehicles. Adding Light AT Weapons or Sniper Rifles help up your ability to take out more heavily equipped opponents while also allowing for more flexibility in your deployment.

Body Armour

To many, using body armour in a wargame helps to differentiate the better equipped and trained forces from their irregular opponents. However, body armour is increasingly available to the general population and in certain situations, it’s not inconceivable that some insurgents or militiamen might end up wearing kevlar.

So how best to use it in your own forces? Body Armour helps to reduce the lethality of shots that hit and so can help to keep your guys alive for a little longer. However, it is quite expensive for what it does so it might not be worth equipping your entire force with it, especially if your forces are mostly in the lower end of the training spectrum. Instead, outfitting your best trained and armed teams with body armour will help to keep them safe while moving up to their objectives. The rest of your force will just have to focus on sticking to cover and moving quickly.

Other Equipment

As well as body armour, there other items that are worth thinking about taking:

  • Radio Comms: A key deficiency in most irregular force is the relatively low command rating. This can make recovering from incoming fire or performing orders a little hard. Unless of course, you’re not using your own command value. Setting up a radio network between your commander and the rest of the force can really add some back bone to it, keeping them active for longer than you’d first expect.
  • Personal Medkits: Insurgents are normally pretty squishy. Being able to affect the lethality of incoming fire can help turn an instant kill into a light wound
  • Tactical Ladders: When double checking the equipment list, I noticed that Militia and Trained soldiers can actually take Tactical Ladders. Not the first thing that springs to mind, but being able to get your support weapons up to elevated positions and keeping off the streets will help to
  • Grenades: As with RPGs, explosives are the great leveller when it comes to taking people out. As well as the usual Frag Grenades, a neat alternative is the Molotov Cocktail. Causes area damage, puts up a small smoke cloud and can block off locations by putting fire in the way. Just don’t drop it.
  • MANPAD: When the operators arrive, they’ll be up to their eyeballs in aerial fire support platforms located just off map. However, a trooper with a Stinger will potentially throw a wrench into your opponents plan when they attempt to call in helicopter support.
  • Dogs: Something else that you’d normally associate with the Operators, but then you’d forget the humble Guard Dog. While the opposing team is trying to sneak around, the dogs will help to reveal hidden units. Once the alarms goes off, your canine friend can rush off to bite the bad man.

We’ll discuss some other bits of equipment and support (mostly the stuff that goes bang) for the irregulars forces in the next instalment.

Conclusion

Overall, irregular forces present a slightly different challenge to the better trained and equipped regular troops. You’ll need to organise your forces carefully, rely on any advantages the situation gives you and be aware of your limitations. If you are aware of all these tweaks, you can easily outfox and out fight your better trained opponents.

In the next article, we’ll take a look at the heavier weapons an insurgent force can bring to the field, including emplacements, technicals, off map resources and even the sneakier tricks of modern warfare.

Spectre Operations: Building a Force – Mobility, Protection, Firepower

In the last post we took a look at the basics of building a force through role specific teams. In this post, we’ll look at how vehicles can be added to regular forces in order to augment their capabilities and provide new tactics. As in part 1, this article is designed primarily for Spectre Operations but many of the tactics are valid in all modern skirmish games.

Vehicles are one of those things that players love to get their hands on. Everyone likes rolling out the big guns, using overwhelming firepower to destroy enemy positions while rolling through small arms shots like it was nothing. As a national force, you’ll have access to the widest range of vehicles, covering everything from motorcycles and quad bikes up to main battle tanks. Depending on the situation, adding a vehicle to your force will give you a massive bonus on less well equipped opponents.

The problem is that vehicles, while certainly powerful, are also incredibly vulnerable on the modern battlefield. In WW2 there were limited number of AT weapons available but the advent of anti-tank rocket launchers and HEAT warheads has meant that every infantry fireteam can carry a light anti-tank weapon, often alongside its normal loadout. The RPG-7, the darling of every bad guy, can’t crack a MBT but is easily capable of damaging and destroying medium and light vehicles. Combined with IEDs, this makes approaching urban areas a massive danger. With limited routes, its hard to avoid enemy attacks while the varying elevations give bonuses to troops shooting down into the vehicles.

Another limiting factor is that troops cooped up in a vehicle are not able to act as efficiently as they can on foot. They can’t spread out to avoid frag weapons and (if enclosed) are less effective at helping out with their own weapons. After all, when you roll “passenger compartment takes lethality check” it doesn’t matter if you’re a militiaman or an elite SF operator.

Finally, the bigger vehicles often suffer in places where constricting ROEs are used. A MBT might be able to easily splat a possible enemy position but if it’s got civilians nearby than it’s unable to act effectively.

This is harder article to write than the infantry one as it’s one case where I think using points only rather than a scenario can really break down. It’s very possible for one player to pick a force that is incapable of taking out any of the other player’s force (for example a militia player vs someone who picks two MBTs) and it just turns into one player bugging out in the first turn. Vehicles, along with certain OTAs, makes it blatantly obvious that modern war is not “fair” or balanced. For this reason, setting up the right scenario is key. If player’s are picking their own force, give them the intel they would need to be able to combat each other. Setup objectives that can’t be done from the safety of an AFV – after all, it’s pretty hard to secure buildings while in one.


There are three major aspects to look at with the vehicles: Firepower (how much damage it can deal), Mobility (how fast it can move) and Protection (how it can stay alive)

Firepower

Probably the one people rush to improve first, firepower is a big draw of all motorised platforms. Vehicles can offer two factors over infantry in this regards

  1. More firepower: Vehicles can carry weapon system that either require a team or are entirely impractical for foot mobiles. These weapon systems can be incredibly destructive (often with 1+ or 2+ lethality saves) and lay down massive amounts of suppression either through sheer rate of fire or fragmentation.
  2. More accurate firepower: Thanks to stabilisers and extra storage space for ammo, man portable systems become even more deadly. The classic GPMG on a vehicle is a perfectly sensible setup and doesn’t require someone to hoof it around. I’m also a fan of anti-material rifles mounting on vehicles – it’s one of those things that just looks cool.

One consideration is if the vehicle has the move or fire rule. Having to move slowly will let you keep for the suppression down but risks destruction at the hands of anything you don’t manage to kill.

The final point is firing arcs. Keeping the weapon on target while moving is obviously easier with a turret mount while limited fields of fire require more careful positioning.  Technicals will especially struggle with this as many of the heavier systems (like the TOW or heavier recoilless rifles) can’t shoot forward on the current spectre pickups due to the crew cab.

Mobility

Mobility is somewhere else we can split into two regarding what it offers:

  1. Vehicle Mobility: How agile is this vehicle? How far can it drive every turn and how much can it turn? Knowing what your vehicle can do will help when picking your actions. Key things to look for is Uprated Engine and Brakes (giving you additional movement and sharper turns) and All Terrain (faster movement through difficult terrain).
  2. Force Mobility: If this vehicle can carry passengers, how much of your force can it carry? Can it carry a whole squad or will you need to split them across multiple vehicles? Alternatively, could it be used for carry heavier armament like a crew served system or additional AT weapons? Vehicles acting as resupply are especially important when using the ammo loads included in the rulebook.

These two aspects combine together to affect how mobile your force is. Although rolling up and discharging troops directly onto the enemy is a bad idea, reducing how much time they spend foot slogging will help to keep them alive and make you more reactive to the enemies movement.

Protection

Finally, protection. Mobility can help with this ( after all you can’t hit what you can’t see) but having armour plate between the passenger compartment and the incoming fire helps. Fully armoured vehicles can almost ignore enemy small arms, making the dangers of being caught out in the open less than in an unarmoured vehicle. Even partial armour can help to prevent casualties. As for the poor guys in unarmoured vehicles, you need to either be going fast or sticking to cover.

Another part of protection is its subsystems. These elements can often be forgotten but can help many vehicles feel less like a civilian car and more like the platform they are supposed to represents. Key ones include Run Flats (ignoring M-Kills is a good way to stay alive), MBSGDs (for dropping smoke when under fire) and Gun Shield (excellent for protecting any top gunners).


So that’s all great, but what does that mean for picking a force?

The key principle (as I’ve tried to hammer into you so far) is to look at the mission you’re about to do. Do you need a high speed transport, a weapon platform to sit back and provide overwatch or armoured vehicle to carry the rest of your force onto the objective? What vehicles would your force have available? Would your SF team up in the foothills of the Hindu Kush really have access to a main battle tank or is it more likely it would be a mix of quad bikes, pickups and maybe a GMV?

Once the task is identified, selecting the actual elements will require matching the various archetypes available in the book to what you want to utilise. The various examples will help next to each archetype should help you choose.

Something to consider is looking at real missions and what vehicles are used. As an example, Osprey’s excellent Special Operations Patrol Vehicles includes mention of a four vehicle US ODA convoy arrangement used in 2002-2003 consisting of:

  • M1114 Armoured Humvee – Better protection than the rest of the group and carrying a heavy weapon.
  • GMV SF Humvee – Good performance, lots of firepower, plenty of space for storing supplies for the rest of the group
  • Two Non-Standard Tactical Vehicles (Pickup trucks) – Able to go places the other vehicles can’t, lower profile, plenty of space for supplies

As you can see, this combination is mainly focused on a strategic level (outside the focus of a game of Spectre) but the variety of options can help when building your own team.

I have an additional few pointers to think about when setting vehicle elements up:

  • The HMG is mounted on almost every vehicle for a reason. It’s a nice compromise, being able to hit out at both infantry (thanks to sustained fire) and light armoured vehicles (thanks to armoured piercing) equally well.
  • Civilian vehicles might seem like nothing but trouble for a force, but for low profile teams they provide a quick way of getting out of danger. Covert vehicles are often equipped armour and uprated engines making them a nasty surprise.
  • When rolling multiple vehicles in a convoy, mixing up the weapons is recommended. Different weapons are good at different things – the HMG is general purpose but a Grenade machine gun is perfect for flattening groups of enemy infantry. It does however lack the same level of precision you would gain from a machine gun so it’s not the best thing to use at close quarters. Instead, the minigun or GPMG is much more useful.
  • When outfitting weapons, remember that you can mount optical systems to many heavy weapons. A HMG with a scope (such as the setup seen on my British Army Jackals) is perfect for any sort of overwatch fire support, being able to sit well outside the range of enemy return fire will still being able to hit back effectively.
  • Once on the battlefield, there are a few things to consider:
    • Avoid built up areas with your vehicles. These are just asking for you to be ambushed.
    • Don’t waste your vehicles. Use them for their role.
    • Play each vehicle to its strength. Don’t expect your Razors to be able to take hits like a tank – instead play to it’s high speed and all terrain features.
    • Vehicles can also provide cover to troops on foot. This will continue even after its destroyed.
    •  Spectre has rules for ramming and shunting obstacles out of the way – use this when appropriate. Armoured vehicles are especially good at this.

That’s it for this article. Next time, we’ll cross the lines and start looking at how picking an OPFOR force is different, how quantity is a quality of it’s own and why you should look very carefully at what type of characters you are using.