Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Warfare In The Age of Madness

Been playing a little Warfare in the Age of Madness. To teach a friend who is pretty green in wargaming I came up with two loosely "platoon-scale" (600 points, though these are each actually 680) forces that are designed to showcase different types of infantry and the mechanics of the game without involving many units to keep track of. To help make this work we played on a much smaller table than is normal for the game (roughly 6 bounds to a side) and with only three objective markers-- neither side uses a command post. Pictures will follow.

The forces:
Hell Divers ("Platoon" Level—8 models)
Inspired Motivation
Vast Network
Unified Teamwork
Heroic Moxie
Hawkeye Shooting
Elusive Evasion
Ninja Assault  [As you can see these are meant to be the best of the best-- and this helps keep the unit count very low!]
Assault Rifle Element with Grenade Launcher  and Hardened II  (meant to represent 3 combat-suited Hell Divers with something like Traveller's Advanced Combat Rifles-- with integral smart grenade launchers)
Rifle/MG Element with LAW-T2 and Hardened II (3 Hell Divers, one with a SAW, and two as a rifleman and a rifleman with LAW on his back)
Command Element  w/Medic Trait, Hardened II (the squad leader and a corpsman with assault rifles)
165+275+235= 680 its 
[I will say preliminarily that using this force really felt like the original "Ghost Recon"]

Trojan Belt Pirates (Platoon Level—15 models)
Aggressive Motivation
Broad Network
Tight Teamwork
Brave Moxie
Average Shooting
Elusive Evasion
Ninja Assault [Also an elite force, but more 'focused.' They are good at close combat and not getting hit and have higher than average motivation, as they are meant to represent veteran space pirates who focus on swift strikes, stealth, and agility]
CQB Element w/Stun Grenades, Hardened II and Command (The Captain and his two best fighters, all in colorful combat armor and carrying heavy pistols and stun grenades)
Assault Rifle Element w/Recon, LAW-03 (Three pirates specialized in stealth and equipped with rifles and an RPG)
Rifle/MG element, LAW-03 (Three slightly less elite pirates, equipped as above but with an MG taking the place of one of the assault rifles)
Blade Element w/Molotov cocktails (2 pirates with blades and pistols, and one with a short range incendiary launcher)
CQB Element (3 pirates, 2 with shotguns and 1 with a carbine)
[This force may actually represent a few more men than the models suggest, as tends to be the implication in WitAoM, but ultimately this is an elite force and it 'feels right' that it should be about fifteen men at 'platoon' scale-- if there are more men I'd imagine they'd mostly be in the CQB and Rifle/MG element, as those are the less elite troops and their relative strength suggests more men to me. Playing with these guys and their sweeping assaults definitely calls to mind 'Sid Meier's Pirates' land battles]

Neither of these forces is particularly well designed, in my opinion, for a regular game of WitAoM. They might work as half of an allied force, but at the end of the day they seem weak against armor or masses of cheaper troops, and all of those advantages ultimately don't mean that much for their price. However it turns out they make a pretty excellent skirmish game against each other!
The pirates are raiding a small research station-- of particular value are several expensive robots. The Hell Divers made a quick drop in response to the distress call and are engaging on the ground in an attempt to prevent damage to stolen goods (as would be the case if they intervened in a risky orbital battle). As is normal in WitAoM, both sides also would like to confirm enemy casualties-- either for its own sake or for the salvageable goods or intel that this entails. 

We ended up playing four rounds, switching sides each time. I also played against myself with these forces once to test them (and did multiple 'what if' assessments to see different results). These pictures are from that game:
Hell Divers Assault element attacks into an ambushing Recon team as both converge on a Salvageable robot

The rest of the squad take up a position by another Salvageable Robot

CQB and Blade pirates ready themselves behind a building as they prepare to assault.

The Captain and the Rifle/MG team prepare to enter a building to claim as a command post for the rest of the assault (it has commanding fire lanes and puts the Captain in range to provide a bonus action to both the beleaguered Recon unit and the CQB and Blade teams)

The Pirates execute a failed assault on the Hell Divers and take heavy casualties in the process-- the rest are mopped up on the Hell Divers' turn. [this was an intense moment, although perhaps too swingy. Roughly even odds meant a few 'what if' rolls resulted in all of the Hell Divers being dead within a turn instead... but skirmishes like this, with bold moves like this assault, should be swingy!]

The Hell Diver Assault element hunkers down and recovers after taking some hits from the MG outranging them from the building while the Recon Pirates pull back out of LOS through the forest after sustaining casualties. Before long this Assault element pulls back for the corpsman to treat their wounded.

The surviving Pirates (CQB Commander, Recon Assault Rifle, Rifle/MG) regroup in a building-- the Salvage Cache bot in the background remains unclaimed after both sides retreated, unable to gain the upper hand with their forces in the area and unable to risk sending more into the woods

In an attempt to prevent the Pirates from regrouping, the Hell Diver SAW moves into the opposite building and watches for the enemy to peak outs-- but ultimately the pirates are able to gain the upper hand by charging into close range and finishing off with an assault by the Captain himself. Unfortunately for the pirates the rest of the Hell Diver squad is close behind and is able to outflank the attackers and  finish them off-- a blood bath of close quarters combat to end the battle. [This was a similarly swingy moment, both in terms of similar odds for drastically different results and also in terms of slightly different strategies resulting in very different statuses. This was the most dramatic result-- a lot of waiting around and hoping to slightly out-suppress the enemy was the more common but less interesting result, and ultimately this riskier move played better to the hand of the Pirates for when it worked it worked WELL]
I was actually a bit surprised how much fun this game was in a purely skirmish form-- the forces really felt like squad+ forces in a regular skirmish game. It is a bit swingy with such small forces but that tends to be true of skirmish games anyway (and this seems realistic). This game is quickly becoming my go-to for anything above RPG-ish level and below a battalion, especially for less scenario-focused gaming. It does need a bit more actual SF for my taste, however-- the rules basically represent modern forces but it seems possible to modify this (I've emailed to see if the publishers have any suggestions for fielding Mobile Infantry-like power armor, for instance).

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Gearing up for Traveller

Going to play in a Classic Traveller campaign soon; the group is going to try some experimental ideas-- perhaps rotating GMs, players role-playing as NPCs (with guidance from the GM-- something like an improv exercise), some attempts at scene structuring a la TV.

But of course there will still be 15mm miniatures.
Wasn't really motivated to take great photos, but here's some new models (some old ones too that needed some retouching).

Clear Horizon Hell Divers-- great minis. Was somewhat reluctant to get them because of concerns about head size (seemed a little large) but once they're painted up and on the table I don't really notice it.

Rebel Minis Black Widows, Infiltrators (one with paper towel poncho added), GZG bot

Khurasan Resistance

Mix of old and new

Another view of that poncho. I have another infiltrator with poncho added primed and ready to paint-- trying to get that Boba Fett vibe

Monday, December 14, 2015

Some 28mm Characters

I'm a scale-hopper, what can I say?

I'm doing 15mm primarily, still, but some 28mm models are just too tempting. Perhaps I'll use 28mm for really small scale skirmishes more (15mm is a little fiddly on occasion).

And of course I  recently made a pretty sizable order of 6mm that I'll probably use with Warfare in the Age of Madness, Dirtside II, and/or Stryker (the cheapness of vehicles and the way ranges look make this scale preferable for anything bigger than a platoon, to me, no matter what the rules were written for).

Anyway, here's some models I've painted in the past few days:

Reaper Miniatures (I've since fixed the weird black mark on his leg and changed the ear flap color to be more red as my reference photo was misleadingly orange)

Reaper Miniatures

Reaper Miniatures

Flash kinda washed out parts of  this model so I took one without as well

Games Workshop (Not totally pleased with the armor markings)

Other news; 5150: Fringe Space is coming out very soon. I think I should note for readers of this blog that most of the mechanics and concepts previewed on this blog are not in the final product (though it is possible some elements will make it into free or cheap expansions in some form). The game is closer to Urban Renewal with a streamlined, narrative focus, and streamlined rules for space combat (that are similar to RSBS, focused on using limited bonus dice) and man to man fire fights (a la Chain Reaction 2015). The whole thing is built to be very modular-- it is extremely easy (and perhaps preferable, in some cases) to port in Urban Renewal or New Beginnings, Star Army, Fighter Command or Star Navy, or really any other THW game (as the combat mechanics are very streamlined I think I'll personally be doing this for more important encounters, and using the streamlined rules for quick random encounters where what matters more is resolution than exact tactical events). The whole goal of the game is to keep your character above water (or improving) month to month; there isn't an economic or financial component to this (that isn't abstracted), but instead the focus is on how these things affect Rep-- increasing or decreasing based on successes and failures. This makes characters fluctuate noticeably over the course of an adventure, which I think is very interesting.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Squad Vs. Squad Playtest

As I said I'd do a military play test with a few more figures-- a 9 man Khurasan Exterminators squad--1 Sgt/Assault Rifle with 2 leader dice and 2 command dice, 2 Cpls/Assault Rifle with 1 leader die, 2 troopers with SAWs, 1 trooper with 'dumb' GL,  and 3 troopers w/Assault Rifles, all with hand grenades-- against an 8 man GZG squad (I forget which)-- The same composition except instead of 2 SAWs and 1 'dumb' GL, they have 1 SAW and 1 'smart' GL that adds significant cover-ignoring abilities. All troops are wearing light body armor, which makes low caliber weapons and shrapnel less damaging, but the rifles and SAWs are pretty much just penetrating it. I'll call the Khurasan Exterminators Imperial Marines and the GZG forces are Asgardian Light Infantry.

The battlefield-- a small, dried riverbed running between two hills-- one with an old wall, the other with a few buildings. At either end of the dry riverbed is another building, and on the outskirts of the village there are sporadic trees.

The Marines approach the village from the west.

To the East, the Asgardian Light Infantry move towards the buildings, their squad leader with an extra rifleman pulling overwatch from the center.

The two weapon teams (SAW on the left, GL on the right) move into the buildings and sprint up the stairs to get into position. 
One of the Marine SAWs can make out the Light Infantry on the right and starts suppressing them, while the activation order allows the dumb GL to start shooting at the third floor of the building on the left (the sprinting troops just visible above the ridgeline). With a few of the Light Infantry suppressed, and several others unable to react as they sprinted, the Marines move one fire team up to the ridge line and exchange fire with the Light Infantry. 
One of the Light Infantrymen gets unlucky and is killed outright by rifle fire. Between this and the weight of fire hitting their position, the entire fire team is suppressed.
Seeing that the enemy is largely suppressed but not easy to damage, the Marine sergeant leads part of his other fire team through cover to the wall close to the enemy position, hoping to start hitting them with grenades.
The corporal and SAW split off and provide additional covering fire against the 3 story building.
With all of their troops suppressed except for the Sgt and his rifleman, the corporals and sergeant expend their energy simply trying to get the suppressed Smart GL and SAW to fire-- They manage to get both moving, but two of the three rolls are low initiative order. The other gets to shoot first, however, so the smart GL gets a shot out.
Meanwhile the un-suppressed Marines are able to put their command and Leader dice towards activating all of their troops (and indeed have an extra successful die to 'pass' down to a fire team, which saves the SAW on the left from failing to activate). I activated the GL separately as he rolled a personal activation high enough to go before the Sgt's group, meaning he could possibly suppress the activated SAW and prevent it from reacting before the Sgt made his move.

The Smart GL shoots over the wall in airburst mode (think like an XM25) and gives a heavy wound to one of the riflemen, but the rest keep their cool and aren't suppressed. This is pretty much the point that it was clear the firefight couldn't be salvaged for the Light Infantry-- even if they had done better to keep the enemy back, the Marines hadn't pinned themselves in buildings, and the Light Infantry inadvertently had-- the doors out were all too visible to the enemy!-- but failing to really connect this one shot ensured that the enemy would be able to advance and likely take out the rest with ease…
The Marine Sgt. moves up and throws a grenade at the two story building on the right, the rest of the squad lays down even more suppressing fire to keep the enemy suppressed next turn as well, and some riflemen move up and start shooting at the enemy Sgt and rifleman. While the Light Infantry could've theoretically gotten in a reaction shot or two that could've slowed the process, the fact was they'd lost the firefight and didn't have the reserves or terrain to perform a tactical withdrawal and regroup. At the end of the turn there was 1 wounded Marine, 2 wounded Light Infantry (including the Sgt), and one dead Light Infantry. The rest of the LI were suppressed. I did play one more activation but only the Marines had any ability to do anything so I called it (they wounded 3 more with grenades mostly).

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Playtest AAR

Did a quick (well under ten minutes) play test of the tactical skirmish rules I'm toying with... This scenario used two identical forces of Space Pirates,
1x Pirate Leader with pistol and sword. (1 leader die)
1x Pirate with pistol and sword.
1x Pirate with nonautomatic shotgun (slug and shot selectable).

I'll do another play test soon with military forces-- the activation system makes military forces very different (and faster with greater numbers on the table). I'll also do a Pirate vs. Military scenario... I expect there to be a fair balance between the disorganized but fast and high-personal initiative pirates and the slow but steady, armored and organized soldiers. I hope also that this will bold well for even more varied forces (such as aliens).
For perspective, I see a baseline military squad as follows:
1 Sergeant (Has Command dice and Leader dice)
2x fire teams
-1xCpl (has leader die)
-3x Troopers
With all having less initiative (less personal activation dice) then the pirates but the leader and command dice meaning that they can put effort into coordinated actions while the pirates all act in essentially random order (though they are more likely to act individually in any one turn).
Of course a poorly trained force with low experience would have neither the pirate's personal initiative or the military's leadership and organization, while an elite force would have both to some degree (the 1-10 stat basis and having several stats play a function in activation and leadership allows a fair degree of granularity).
Hopefully even a platoon's worth of pirates will be playable, but we'll see-- regardless the system is really aimed at a handful of figures a side-- a la XCom. Admittedly this AAR is somewhat below the aims of the system in that it is two very simple AND small forces. Ideally if everyone has the same stats (excepting leader dice) and simple weapons and equipment (no SF weaponry or armor) then you'll be playing with more models on a bigger field, while a small game like this will be more interesting with more detail in each piece…

Anyway, onto the AAR:
GZG figures on Khurasan terrain. The pirates at the top of the picture we'll call Ravagers, the pirates at the bottom we'll call Scavengers. Presumably they've met somewhere on an abandoned installation or ship...

As neither side is In Contact, the leaders roll to activate their whole group and the Ravagers win, sending their shotgun down the flank while the others move out into light cover to engage the Scavengers.

As Overwatch is an action, and without that action troops are roughly equally effective to active troops when reacting, acting first is an advantage on defense or offense. In this case, both sides exchange some pistol fire down the hallway, and the Scavenger with the shotgun is suppressed.

But the Scavenger leader and the other pistoleer are still able to act once it is their turn. The Pirate leader takes an Aimed Shot at one of the Ravagers and gets a lucky hit through cover, taking him out of action. Meanwhile the other pistol moves up to a door and opens it, taking some fire from the Ravager shotgun but taking no damage.

Everyone is in Contact now… so everyone rolls activation separately. Normally a suppressed character cannot roll, but one capability of Leaders (anyone with a leadership die or more) is to assign leader dice to act as activation dice for nearby suppressed troops. Doing this means other actions cannot be taken however, such as coordinating actions that allow units to move together. Rallying the suppressed shotgun means everyone is definitely going to be acting individually (even getting the same activation roll means that they're treated as moving at different times for the purposes of reactions, which is often a disadvantage and is merely an option to coordinated troops). Regardless, the Ravager leader fails to activate, and the first actors are Scavengers… things aren't looking too good for the Ravagers.
The first action in the sequence is Suppressing Fire on the shotgun, which succeeds. Next, the Scavenger Leader sprays suppressing fire down the hall, pinning the Ravager Leader behind some barrels. Finally the Scavenger shotgun finds her way to her enemy's flanks clear, and she rushes up... 

And barely wounds the Ravager! Unfortunately for the Ravagers it is clear that the Scavengers have won the firefight regardless… even surviving a single hail of fire, all of their fighters are suppressed, and sure enough the next turn the Scavengers get another chance to push up unopposed, and the Ravagers are wiped out.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

More Character Models

Just painting some more…
GZG Ravager, Rebel Minis Sahadeen, GZG Armed Colonist(?) 

RAFM (Painted this awhile ago but not sure if I uploaded it).