The line between Sci-fi and Ultramodern for wargamers is sometimes a very thin line. With the rise of drones from things flying high above to smaller ones that fit in the palm of your hand, it’s highly likely at some point you’ll want to add a robot with a machine gun to your game (similar to the SWORDS robot), especially if you’ve played the Somalia level from Medal of Honour Warfighter or cleared a way to the helipad in Modern Warfare 3. Luckily, Evil Bear Wargames, whose range includes a selection of items from modern day to science fiction (such as the Spudies and Hardsuits), have two types of Close Support Drones ready to fill your need for some robotic support.
The two packs I ordered arrived in a single blister. Both vehicles are basically the same, sharing the same core unit and accessories. The main changes are the locomotion system and mounted weapons. As you can see, the entire kit is metal. One feature I particularly like about construction is the fact that both the chassis and weapon have enough space to fit in rare earth magnet in without any tweaking. This lets you easily switch between guns if you own both versions (or the Evil Bear Panther PMV which uses the same weapons). I’ve haven’t used them here but the pack includes two other little details, a control box and manipulating arm. These would let you theme the bots for a different purpose or for marking who has control of them in game.
Here are both vehicles painted up. This view also shows the vehicle in more detail, including the cool winch at the back of the chass
So what are the two variants? The first is the Medium Close Support Drone. This guy is armed with a GPMG and is equipped with wheels for moving around at speed.
The other is the Heavy Close Support Drone, equipped with tracks and mounting a M2 .50cal. This should be a nasty surprise when it appears and starts rolling around.
As you can see here, when compared to an Empress SF figure, these drone are certainly not man portable. They also won’t fit everywhere that people can get to, so more difficult terrain will prove to be an issue for them.
However, compared to vehicles these drones provide some serious firepower in a much smaller package. The photo shows both drones in comparison to the Panther from Evil Bear Wargames and one of Empress’s Humvees. Honestly, these things are just cool. A little bit of ultramodern tech to add to your games (perhaps to show off the super high tech faction). You might need to jury rig some rules for them (most games don’t cover them quite yet) but they will be an interesting challenge. As the models, the casting is great with little clean up required and some neat details on them. Painting was a breeze and I’m pretty happy with the final result. C3 and R2 should useful when kicking doors and taking names.
If you’re wanting to get a pair of Close Support Drones yourself, they can be purchased from Evil Bear Wargames. At time of writing, their site is being re-developed but you can contact them via email at [email protected] in the meantime.
The War on Terror has seen a massive rise in the use of IEDs against conventional forces and as such, there was a much greater interest in the development and purchasing of mine resistant vehicles. The British Army purchased a whole fleet of vehicles designed for different roles, including a replacement for the Snatch Land Rover. Named the Foxhound, this vehicle is currently in British service.
Evil Bear Wargames have previously released another vehicle from the late 2000’s refresh (The Panther) and I was very impressed with it. Lots of detail, hot swappable weapons and super easy to assemble and paint. They have since expanded the range by adding another vehicle, the Foxhound. Although I purchased mine second-hand, it was basically fresh out the box.
The Foxhound model is comprised of resin and metal pieces. The core hull, unlike many wargaming vehicles, is actually two parts – the base plate and nose are one piece, the crew compartment the other. As well as hinting at the possibility of future variants (as shown on the Evil Bear facebook page) it also does a fantastic of covering up any marks from the casting process. There is a banding texture to the resin but it should be easily covered by an undercoat.The wheel assembly is very similar to the Panther (metal central structure and two resin wheels) allowing for a great deal of detail around the axle. Most of the metal details do not have any form of mounting slots or guide positions. However, this can be a benefit if you wish to skip certain elements (such as the rear mounted boxes) and reference images are easy to find. The GPMGs on the top of the cab do have mounting guides and the top hatches can be mounted either open or closed (the hinge is attached to the hatch). There is also a good depth underneath each hatch so crew figures (such as Evil Bear’s Virtus or Empress’s British figures) can easily be mounted.
Assembly is super easy. Attach the two body parts, assemble the wheel units and attach and then add details. As I mention above, I recommend doing it with plenty of reference to make sure everything goes in the right place. Once built, it’s an impressive beast. As you’ll see below, it maybe on the smaller side of Mine Resistant vehicles but it’s still huge.
The completed vehicle all good to go.
Some of the texture is visible here, expect an update once painting begins.
Seen here next to some of Empress’s SAS figures. It’s a real monster.
Empress US Ranger and Spectre Task Force Operators to show the height of this thing.
Next to its little brother in the series, the Panther. Looking forward to these two rolling round the board together.
Next to the Spectre buggy and Technical Alpha. Shows just how tiny the buggy is.
Finally, the Foxhound next to a Spectre Civilian Car. Expect to see the Foxhound doing a monster truck impression when the bullets start flying in a crowded street.
So overall, what do I think? Once again, I’m consistently impressed with Evil Bear’s output. The Foxhound, despite its very minor flaws, is lovely to build and great to look at once constructed. I am seriously thinking about getting a second one for larger games and to add to any convoy I might need. Additionally, it’s generic enough to work as a protected vehicle for any contractors needing a protected patrol vehicle.
The last few reports I wrote were done in a narrative fashion. I’m not abandoning that format, but as this is a special game I’m going back to a more descriptive style.
Rather than using a pre-made scenario, I instead decided to spring on them a brand new, beta version of a scenario I had been working on. Tentively named “House Call” the new scenario sees the ANP and British advisers entering a Afghan village to hunt down an insurgent leader. However, the insurgents have dug in hard and have a load of special items in the toybox to use. Additional, most of the OPFOR are in hiding, waiting for the opportune moment to pop out.
As the game starts, a squad of Afghan National Police (along with a British NCO acting as an adviser) ready to start searching from house to house. In addition, a Panther CLV is heading into town carrying two engineers and a medic to assist the search.
Testing Notes: Checking a house requires 6AP worth of action to be spent on it. The idea behind this is that a single soldier will take a while to search while a big group is more efficent. The downside to rushing in with a load of guys to clear is that after clearing you roll a D10. Roll high and you might find intel, reveal an enemy fighter or even bring the target VIP out of hiding. Roll lower and you’ll either find nothing or set off a booby trap. In the initial version of the scenario played, ISAF players gained 30VP per building cleared to incentive them to actually clear buildings. However, this is way too much. The plan is to increase VPs from finding intel and not give any if you search the buildings.
You can see in the above picture, the board is pretty scenery dense. You can also see there are a fairly large number of civilians milling around. In fact, the board above only has two hostiles on it – two spotters ready to set off IEDs and spot targets. The rest of the insurgent force is currently lurking in the ratlines waiting to deploy. The insurgent player also got to place three IEDs and (initially) 5 booby traps.
As the game began, civilians milled around as the ANP starting investigating buildings, primarily as a big group so the check only takes one combat phase. As one group cleared the white building with the courtyard, a second group (along with the British NCO) moved up to the street to investigate another building. Crossing an alleyway, there was a sudden boom as a booby trap was triggered.
This booby trap was initially placed on the corner so the damage was less than it could have been – the lead guy and the NCO were both only knocked down. However, both machine gunners took damage through their paper thin body armour. One was still able to keep fighting but the other was knocked unconscious, a major blow.
Outside of the town, the approaching armoured vehicle decided to stop and start searching the route instead of possibly blundering into another IED. Disembarking the two engineers, the vehicle stopped and went into a covering position. After a few tests, the engineers eventually found a medium IED with a pressure plate and managed to disarm it, clearing the way for the Panther to move into town.
Testing Notes: When the scenario was written, the Medium IED had a booby trap placed with which went off when the engineer originally failed his IED test. This would have required a casulty evac, ending the mission pretty quickly. As accurate as this is to the potential situation and after careful investigation of the rules, we decided to roll this back in order to keep playing and reduce the number of booby traps for the insurgent player.
As ANP troops rushed to clear the building close to the booby trap, they quickly discovered an enemy fighter and dragged him outside. As this happened one of the players turned to me and asked “Can we start interrogating him?”. After a little bit of persuasion, I agreed and the leader of the ANP started doing activities that if the British were doing this and a Western news crew were nearby, they would be in serious trouble.
Testing Notes: Okay, so Skirmish Sangin doesn’t include rules for interrogating captured enemies. There are several probable reasons for this (including the issue we had that certain characters spent most of turn 1 kicking the snot out of an opponent in order to get any info from them. However, thanks to the RPG style system, it was super easy to throw in a morale check and then start providing information that a novice fighter would know whenever the poor devil was being interrogated. This is a potential rule I’m playing around with as part of some civilian interaction additions, but I will be making it an awful lot harder.
The ANP continued to move around clearing buildings and as they checked they found some weapon caches but not much else (although they did cause both of the spotters to swiftly move off the street to prevent their arrest). However, clearing the buildings did reduce places I could make insurgents appear. In order to make the most of this situation, I popped up both a sniper and an RPG team on the outer edge of the town. However, the RPG gunner decided to duck back in the ratlines to avoid death at the hands of the Panther’s GPMG. His assistant moved to a position overlooking a group of ANP heading into an alleyway and managed to spot them. Bringing his AK up, he fired a burst and… hit nothing. Oh dear.
Testing Notes: Ratlines are a useful way of getting troops in place, breaking the frontlines that most players want to setup in any game. Sticking them in buildings is handy way to make the town seem like bad guys are everywhere and clearing buildings becomes a way of preventing them being outflanked.
The response was what you would expect – pretty much everyone who could see the shooter opened up, hitting him with 10 points of damage and knocking him unconscious. The ANP moved on to start clearing the building the shooter had been on top of in order to prevent it being used as a ratline position. The other ANP group moved up to the final few buildings, sprinting past two IEDs which failed to detonate before running headfirst into a recently arrived machine gunner.
At this point the British had parked their vehicle at the town’s entrance and appeared to be setting up a casualty/prisoner collection point, administering aid to the various unconscious fighters.
The battle was starting to wrap up, and I was running out of time to cause some more damage to the (so far) successful BLUFOR forces. IEDs and booby traps had been failing so far so I decided to deploy my commander and a few other fighters down in the south (including an RPG popping out of the well). My plan was to get them close enough to attempt and arrest and then detonate my last IED. After, of course, I tried to knock out the Panther with an RPG. Sadly he was obviously not happy about having jsut climbed out of a wheel and the rocket spiralled off into the fields. As a response, the GPMG on the Panther swung around on it’s weapon mount and leveled the attacker with a burst of 7.62.
While the gunfire banged up and down the open square, the ANP 2IC decided to put pressure on my sniper. The sniper’s response was to dive off the building and make a run for it. Deciding to snapfire, the 2IC put a burst down and did nothing more than spook the guy as he ran past. This did expose the 2IC and left him locked in place, perfect for The Fox (newly arrived via the ratlines) to pop up and drop him with a single shot from his trusty G3.
Down the far end of the street though things were going horribly wrong for me. With one fighter down, another stuck in the street with five morale markers on him and several markers on the commander and his bodyguard, some of the ANP managed to get close and arrest them both (even if it took a while for the commander to actually get it). As the ANP mopped up, both of the snipers on the outskirts manged to merge with the population and disappear away.
At the points tally, BLUFOR wins, thanks to clearing every building and arresting quite a few of the insurgents. Part of the massive win was due to how the points had been awarded by – I was giving away 30pts per building which quick adds up on a dense urban map, in addition to points gained to taking out enemies and finding intel. Although that said, managing to actually arrest the commander was also a pretty big boon.
This scenario has lots of little additional tweaks and really needed a good play. There are a few things I’m going to take away and work on before getting it finished off. Its a different style to many of the other scenarios, with BLUFOR having to react to the moves of the OPFOR while the OPFOR has lots of angles of attack to strike back against the .
As for playing the game, my opponents seemed to really enjoy it. This is kind of the most important thing when playing at the moment – as interesting as it is to be simulating a warzone, playing something that people loose interest in by phase 2 is a terrible thing and almost a waste of an evening’s play.
Looking at the board, I may occasionally be annoyed by all the models I’ve purchase/had to paint but it makes for some great shots. Civilians in particular help to set the scene, especially when you dot a few of the armed guys among them – Eureka have some wonderful sculpts for the Taliban in more static poses, perfect for matching with their civilians. Spectre’s
Also vehciles look cool on the tabletop so it was great to get Evil Bear’s Panther out on the streets of Afghanistan. I’m not 100% on the wash job but I was happy enough to get it on the tabletop. As I write this I have more vehicles ready to be painted, so expect a shift to an imagi-nation soon so I can get my Challenger 2 on to the streets of Bazistan or some other fictional warzone.
I managed to get a little bit more painted this week – starting on the operators and putting the final touches to the hard suits. I’m not too fussed about adding the wires for the machine guns but I probably will do down the line. Overall, fun kits to make and will be great fun on the table top.
Next week, the aim is to get the operators and deniable guys finished off, as well as a bit of mopping up of the in progress stuff. Then it will be a straight run into the end with the piles of militia to finish.
Painted, varnished and based – 186:
38 Empress – Modern British Infantry
14 Spectre – UKSF (of various types)
6 Spectre – Task Force Operators (painted as SAS) + 1 Spectre Dog
10 Spectre – AK armed contractors
5 Spectre – Western Contractors (being used as US Special Forces)
11 Spectre – Task Force Operators (being used as US Army Rangers
2 Spectre – Intelligence Agents
5 Spectre – African Soldiers
4 Empress – Armoured Troopers
4 Empress – US SEAL Team 6
8 Spectre – Task Force Operators (To be split between UKSF and Rangers)
17 Radio DishDash – Taliban
4 Spectre Direct Action GRU
14 Spectre – Insurgents
4 Empress – US Frogmen
1 Eureka – Taliban Sniper
2 Spectre – Hostages
2 Evil Bear Wargames – Hardsuits
1 Eureka – Force Recon .50cal Sniper
6 Eureka – US Force Recon
4 Empress – PLA Special Forces
Spectre – 1 VIP and 3 Bodyguards
7 Spectre – Task Force Operators (To be split between UKSF and Rangers)
5 Spectre – Covert Action GRU
5 Spectre – Western Contractors (Converted with Shemaghs)
1 Spectre – African Forces Commander
2 Spectre – African Forces Special Weapons
In the process of being painted, varnished and based – 14 :
1 Empress – Dog for Counter-IED Team – Based, needs painting
1 Spectre – Dog – Based, needs washing
1 Empress – Warrior IFV – Repainted in Desert Tan
1 Spectre – UKSF (ghille suit with M4)
1 Evil Bear Wargames – Panther – Base coated in Desert Tan
1 Empress – Challenger 2 – Base coated in Desert Tan
2 Spectre – Task Force Operators
2 Spectre – Task Force Operator Marksmen
2 Spectre – Task Force Operator Breachers
1 Spectre – Task Force Operator Dog Handler
1 Spectre – Task Force Operator Grenadier (pirate gun)
Basecoated with Basing Material– 75:
5 Hasslefree Miniatures – Modern Troopers
8 Spectre – SMG Armed Contractors
6 Spectre – Intelligence Agents
Spectre – Female Contractor (Salute 2015 model)
Spectre – 1 Agitator and 1 Bodyguard
6 Spectre – African Locals
2 Spectre – Deniable Assets
8 Gripping Beast – Falklands War Brits
3 Spectre – VIPs
4 Spectre – Close Protection Agents
19 Spectre – MENA Militia
1 Spectre – Offroad SUV
2 Spectre – SUVs
6 Spectre -Deniable Operators
2 Tale of War – Special Figures
Basecoated – 1:
1 Spectre – Contractor (being converted)
Total Models: 274
Models finished (Based, painted and varnished): 186