Tuesday, 29 October 2013

15mm Modern Fictional Wars

Regular readers of this blog will know how much I love the modern age as a wargaming period, but at the same time I am extremely uncomfortable in gaming real world conflicts more recent than than (say Vietnam). I've discussed the reasons why in previous posts, so I wont go into them again. But what I'd really like to do next year is assemble and create terrain and armies to let me play out these conflicts.

So, I'm taking a stab at creating a fictional nation (as yet un-named) off the coast of North-East Africa. This means I'll be squarely in the middle of two of the worlds trouble-spots (North East Africa and the Middle East) for wargaming purposes. The idea is to create a nation about the size of Qatar, but to make it an Island nation off the coast of  Somalia, just north of the Seychelles.

Scenario Ideas:
The idea is that although this will be a small nation (with about 11,000 professional soldiers) it's a very professional and well equipped force in a very troubled region. So it's soldiers get around a bit on peace-keeping duties and protecting the national interests. That should give me plenty of room to for creating scenarios such as:

  • Raids on pirate bases
  • Peacekeeping and peace-enforcement
  • Inteverention in local fictional conflicts (such as a religious or socialist coup in the nearby Seychelles or on the mainland).
  • Repelling an invasion by a foreign power. Perhaps even those dastardly Franonians?
  • Zombie plague outbreaks

This nation will be a former British Colony (independence circa 1971, like many of the former British colonies in Africa) with British style laws, policing and traffic codes but with Middle-Eastern/African/Medeteranean style terrain and buildings. Inspired by cities such as Tel-Aviv and Muskat (at one end of the scale) and Mogadishu on the other, that will mean the following sort of buildings will turn up:

  • Generic Middle Eastern/North African villa's, sginel room dwellings and compounds
  • Italian/Spanish style tenements
  • Les Verrieres style buildings.
  • Shanty Towns
  • Modern Office buildings and shops.
  • Roads, Pavements and 70's style blocks of flats from Scalescenes.co.uk in HO scale. (OO printed at 87%)
The military of this fictional nation will be relatively well equipped given it's size, with a good portion of it's military recruited from abroad (particularly from Britain, Pakistan and India). However, it's gear will be a mix of legacy equipment inherited from the British Garrison, second hand equipment purchased cheap during the initial formation of the military and newer, better quality equipment as the military attempts to modernise. Although the country will maintain close ties to the UK, it will purchase most of it's equipment from regional powers (such as Israel and South Africa) and the USA.
  • Peter Pig IDF soldiers to represent the regulars (painted with ACU style uniforms)
  • Flames of War M113's to represent the battle taxis of most units.
  • Stryker's (from QRF) and Hummers (from Peter Pig) to represent the AFV's supplied to newer suits
  • Peter Pig militia  and Technicals ( to represent african insurgents, pirates and the like)
  • Khurasan armed British Police ( to represent the local police)
  • Civilians from Peter Pig, Rebel Miniatures and Ground Zero Games
  • Zombies from Khurasan and Rebel Miniatures.
And that will be my major project for 2014.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Warmachine: Butcher Battle Reports

I've got a tournament coming up later this week, so Luke came over for some practice games at the weekend. It's a "beginner friendly" Steamroller tournament. 35 points, two lists. 12 minute turns. Thanks to a trade with Lord Siwoc, I now have a decent amount of Khador miniatures. I'm still painting some of them, but, combined with the Khador miniatures in Luke's collection, I'll be able to put together two lists. Neither list will be entirely brilliant. One of them is almost every miniature that Lord Siwoc sent me with a few tweaks. The only is very, very thrown together. The Lord Siwoc list features eButcher, and would have been brutal in mki but, in Steamroller 2013 tournament rules, suffers badly from limited mobility.

PButcher and Co
Still, it's going to be my main list for the time being, so I decided to get some practice games in with it, using prime Butcher rather than the epic version. Because it's "beginner friendly" I'm hoping that that tournament organizer will let me use the eButcher model as p Butcher. I've asked, but haven't heard back yet.

These games are my tenth and eleventh games of Warmachine mkii. I played my ninth game on Vassal the night before.

Anyway, on to the lists:

eCaine list

My List:
Widowmaker Marksman
Max Uhlans
Max Shocktroopers
Saxon Orrick

Luke's List:
Gun Mages and UA
Stormblades and 2WA
Ayanna and Holt

Game One: Scenario 8

Game One Deployment

I chose to go first. Luke surprised me by taking the left hand table edge. I thought he'd have benefited more by taking the other table edge for the clearer lines of fire. I suspect that he just really liked the idea of being able to teleport his 'Caster in and out of a forest. 

My turn one consisted of putting Iron Flesh on the Uhlans (two of them are represented by Proxy Bases because Luke forgot to bring his Uhlans to pad out my own) and Fury on the Shocktroopers. Saxon Orrick gave the Uhlans Pathfinder. Everything Ran.

Luke put Blur on the Stormblades and eCaine's shooting buff (Dead Eye? True Shot? Snipe?) on the Gun Mages. His shooting was pretty ineffectual, only ticking off a few boxes from my multi-wound infantry here and there and killing a Widowmaker. Even eCaine didn't manage to do much. Ayanna and Holt were out of range.

In turn two, I dropped Iron Flesh on the Uhlans. My Widowmakers gunned down a number of Stormblades and withdrew bakwards. My Shocktrooper hugged the very edge of my control zone to stay out of charge and shooting range of the Stormblades. Orrick gave the Uhlans pathfinder and they charged the Gun Mages, killing a few (including the UA thanks to reach) but failing to do more than scratch the Defender. My Widowmakers picked off another Stormblade or two.

Uhlan's Charge Home

My Berserker with three focus failed to charge the Stormcad (half inch out) but as he hadn't actually spent any focus I didn't have to worry about him blowing up.

I looked at the board before moving Butcher and, knowing that eCaine would HAVE to go for an assassination run soon before his Gun Mage flank collapsed, decided to entice him into trying it too early, when the chances were poor. I moved Butcher (with just two focus) up so that only the War Dog was between him, the StormBlades and eCaine. 

Madness? Not really. I'd been counting inches and knew that Ayanna would be out of range to Harm and the Holt would be too. Plus I was fairly sure that only two Stormblades would be getting a shot in, and one Stormrifle. I expected the other would be killed the WarDog and that the second would be shooting the Dog to ensure it was dead before eCaine activated. Finally,  I'd worked out that, even with pathfinder from Rhpuert, eCaine would be an inch out with his pistols. I knew he'd just teleport away once he realised that he was out of range, but that would be thin.  I'd pop Butcher's feat. Massacre his over-committed Stormblades with the Widowmakers and Shocktroopers, kill or engage A+H with the Berkerker and remaining Shocktroopers, destroy the objective and control his zone with the Uhlans (I was confident the Defender and Gun Mages wouldn't kill them all) and claim a third control point with Butcher (safely behind a good number of medium bases and camping on six focus). That would force eCaine to go for the assassination again, which he'd fail. After that I'd wrack up one more control point on his zone and on my next turn after that, either kill Caine or score the 5th CP anyway.

I smiled at Luke and dared him to come get me.

Luke activates, drops his upkeeps, and camps everything on eCaine. I try not to smile. His Gun Mages activate and kill one of the Uhlans and Saxon Orrik. Fine. His Defender activates and kills an Uhlan. Fine. 
The Stomrblades move into range of Butcher. Also Fine. The Wardog doesn't kill the first rifleman (a little unexpected, but still fine) and runs back to Butcher. The first Rifleman doesn't kill it (but hit's it) the first Stormblade kills it. The second Rifleman hits Butcher for two boxes (fine, I'd expected at least one hit from the Stormblades) the second Stormblade hits automatically but does no damage. Ayanna advances and casts Harm. Out of range (as expected). Holt advances and shoots. Out of range (as expected). e Caine advances and shoots (fine). Wait.... what.... he' within range. 10" you say? But I counted  inches. He's out of range by a good inch. It should be 13". Even with a 1" margin of error, you should be out. What's that? Speed 7 you say?

S**t. Could have sworn he was speed 6.

What follows is very tense. First shot hits. Second shot hits, third shot... and every time the damage modifier gets better and better. Critically, eCaine actually misses a shot and by the time shot number nine rings out, eCaine is now sitting squarely in melee threat range of a very angry, 4 box Butcher who hasn't yet popped his feat. Knowing he's about to face a 5d6 Pow 16 hit damage roll followed by 6 more 4D6 damage rolls, Luke extends his hand across the table.

Butcher gives eCaine the chop.

Whew. Talk about close.

Game Two:

Game 2 Deployment
We decide to do a straight re-fight of the game, with the exception that Luke wants to switch table edges. Our deployments essentially mirror the first game in almost every respect. The first turn plays out exactly the same. In my turn two, I drop Ironflesh on the Uhlans with the intention of casting Fury prior to their pathfinder charge through the woods. But I make a mistake, Butcher is too far away to cast it without having to move towards them and away from the friendly zone. Deciding that his Stormblades aren't going to be able to threaten my own zone, I chose getting a control point myself (because I'm still first player) over stopping eCaine from getting his and don't cast the spell. But when I come to activate the Uhlans, I'm suddenly second guessing myself. Are those Gun Mages and the Stormclad even in charge range. I make a stupid decision and keep them where they are, in the woods, even knowing that the Gun Mages ignore concealment and that they might as well be out in the open contesting the zone.

It costs me the game. In Luke's second turn, the Gun Mages, eCaine, Ayanna and Holt combine to murder all my Uhlans. That's right, my mobile element -the only really mobile element in my list- is gone. I suggest re-starting as well still have time to fit in another game. Luke thinks I still have a chance. I can't see it, but I'm still feeling kinda bad about winning the last game by a fluke and decide that Luke deserves the satisfaction of taking me down. So I play on and break his Stormblades with shooting and two charging Berskers. See? Says Luke? You can still win this.

I physically can't, because I've nothing that can contest his zones in time (except the Berserkers, but I've still got the Mkii prime scenario rules in my head that say 'Jacks can score). But I grunt and play on regardless.

So his Stormclad charges my right-most Berserker and kills it (plus two Shocktroopers with lucky eleaps). His Stormblades rally but can't do anything. ECaine destroys his objective and teleports back into the zone and at the end of his turn three Luke is sitting on 3CP.
No Chance. End of Lukes turn 3
My turn four, I kill the Stormclad with the second Berserker (actually, it dies when the 'Zerker blows up from focus overload) and kill all but two Stormblades. The dog can't reach his zone to contest. He's on 4CP. He'll get number five just by ending his turn. I extend the hand.

Final Thoughts:

Two very bittersweet games tonight. My Victory in game one wasn't really earned, as I'd miscalculated how far Caine had moved forward and by rights I should have lost. I won the game due to a fluke of bad dice rolling on Luke's part more than anything else. Secondly, I lost the second game when I stupidly didn't upkeep Iron Flesh on the Uhlans in turn 2. I had intended to Fury them instead, decided they wouldn't be in charge range of the Stormclad and then instead of casting Iron Flesh on them again, I moved Butcher to the other side of the table looking to score a control point by dominating my zone. Then I compounded the error by leaving them in the woods (which wouldn't give them cover from the Gun Mages anyway) rather than at least moving them up to contest the zone. Major brain fart. 

I even suggested we re-start the game there and then, explaining to Luke what I thought would happen in the next couple of turns. Instead, he convinced me I still had a chance and then the game played out exactly the way I said it would, with the sole exception that I had one less Shocktrooper left than I'd anticipated. I'm kicking myself because we would have had time to get a third game in that might have actually been of benefit to both of us, rather than simply playing out a lost cause. Of course, if I could have just ditched the mkii prime thinking that Berserkers can't contest the game would have turned out....exactly the same. Buying me an extra turn until the Berkserkers were killed wouldn't have given me enough time to get the Shocktroopers across without running them. And it was a shot from the Shocktroopers that broke the Stormblades. If I'd ran them, that wouldn't have happened and they'd have been tied down for a turn in melee with the 'Blades. Same result.

I've learned a few lessons from this game, and I've tweaked my pButcher list accordingly, removing one of the Berserkes and replacing it with some Men O'War demi corps (I know, I know, my list needs more mobility, not more so slow units, but Luke and I don't have a single small-based Khador infantry unit between us yet. A major gap in my tool-box. It's like not having a screw-driver.

Lessons Learned:

1: It's all very well making your opponent dance to your tune. Just make sure he doesn't know something you don't.
2: eCaine is Speed 7
3: Saxon Orrick can only grant Pathfinder to WARRIOR models.
4: Be more aggressive with those Uhlans.
5: Be more aggressive with Butcher.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Fox Hounds: Distress Call

A Fox-Hounds battle-report written by George, who plays Foa (Vike) in the campaign.

Prior to evacuating CEO Rashiq Iqbal from the Outworlds Alliance, Foa received a personal distress call from an associate on Kinkaid III.

Fox Hound Command Lance deploys to Kinkaid II

After being decontaminated Quintas Allard offered the Fox Hounds a mission that involved work in the Outworlds alliance against the Oberon Pirates, the primary objective being on Kinkaid II. Conveniently (or rather, thanks to Lishka's wheeling's and dealings) the Hounds had beeen offered a contract in the same system as the distress call.

Arriving in the system Foa received yet another short distress call from the same source. He persuaded the the crew of the drop ship to make a quick detour to Kankaid III. 

Due to mountainous terrain and high winds, the Lucky 7 drop ship landed in a clearing some distance from where the distress call originated.

On arrival, the Fox Hounds deployed 4 mechs: Lishka in the Clint, Ranger in the Javelin, Domino in the Panther and Foa in his Valkerie. Boxier rode in the Valkyrie, on a fold-down seat.

Shortly thereafter, a lance of pirate mechs were spotted attacking several buildings. With the Fox Hounds' deployment, they broke off their attack and came after for the Fox HoundsTwo Locusts and a Cicada raced down the mountain track while a Pheonix Hawk rose into the air on its jump jets.

Pirate Mech Lance
Ranger and Lishka immediately took up positions on a low hill while Foa and Dom moved up the centre of the valley towards a grain silo.

Foa's Valkyrie unleashed a swarm of LRMs to greet the Pheonix Hawk. They struck in a concentrated burst, melting the armour from the pirate's left torso.

Pirate Locust-1 ran round attempting to Flank but met with Ranger and Lishka whereupon they dueled it out. The pirate was having none of it and dodging wildly and managing to break through.

Mean-while the 3 other pirates crossed the river. While laying down covering fire they closed in to concentrate fire on Domino's Panther. After trading shots and searing armour, none of the pilots came out on top. The pirate Cicada and Locust-2 broke off, leaving the P-hawk and Dom dueling it atop a grain silo.
Domino and a Pirate Duelling atop the Grain Silo

Having had little luck against the Panther, the Pirate lights concentrate their fire against Lishka, who had been sniping with her Mech's large laser from the near-by woods. As they closed in,  Lishka managed to dodge most of their shots. Unbeknownst to them, Ranger closed in on  from behind unleashing a volly of SRMs, at one of the locusts. Although it dodged many of the missiles, but didn't manage to dodge one of Ranger's physical attacks, which tore off one of it's weapon-pods. 

It was at this point the pirates noticed that Foa had made his way across one of the peaks towards the target buildings (while also laying volley after volley of LRM cover fire). The Cicida broke off its attack to try and head him off before he could get across the valley floor. Ranger pursued in his much slower Javelin.

At this point Domino's Panther and the pirate -hawk engage in physical combat. Domino has the worst of it, nearly losing a leg. She jumps off the silo, leaving a spread of SRM's in her wake. The P-Hawk also breaks off towards the hills and comes under enfiladding fire from two Fox Hounds. While Ranger only clips it, Lishka surgically snipes off its large laser. Locust-1 closes on Lishka but is unable to do any significant damage. In exchange, the Locust take's a large laser to the leg, crippling it.

On the other mountainside the Cicada goes for Foa. The Fox Hound who ignores it and continues to launch LRMs into the P-hawk keeping it back. Locust-2 moves across the valley floor to back up the Cicada, Ranger dogging him all the way.

At this point Dom ignores the almost ineffective fire from the P-hawk. Combined with sniper fire from Lishka and SRM volleys from Ranger, she blows the a leg off Locust -2, forcing it to the ground. 

Foa reaches the target building, still taking harassing fire from the Cicada.

The P-hawk makes a break across the valley floor in a final attempt o take him down. Dom lets loose with a PPC blast from her Panther that melts most of his centre torso armour.

Foa exists his machine letting Boxer take the controls. Shortly thereafter, the objective building opens its Hanger Doors. Foa re-appears, but this time at the controls of a new and unfamiliar mech.

Just as Foa emerges, Ranger unleashes a furious onslaught of SRMs and punches at the Cicida, blowing out it's giros. A follow up flight of LRM's from Boxer blows of the Cicada's left foot. The Cicada falls. It does not rise again.

By now the P-hawk pilot has given the battle up for lost. The medium pirate mech begins to withdraw. In return, Lishka, Boxer and Foa unleash concentrated fire which leaves him damaged so badly that he badly makes it off the field alive.

After the Fox Hounds regroup, Foa quietly explains that his new Mech, a Firefly, is a family heirloom which he and his tech have been restoring for the past 5 years..With the recovery of this Star League era antique and the capture of two pirate Mechs (a Locust and a Cicada) Locust this mysterious side trip has proven quite profitable for the Hounds.

The Fox Hounds contact the Davion Government on Kincaid II. They inform the planetary governor's office that they have made a short “good will” detour to Kincaid III to take care of a pirate incursion (“Just fulfilling our civic duty ma'am”) and are now on their way to fulfill their contract on Kincaid II.

Post Mission Notes: The Fox Hounds take only light damage. As well as recovering Foa's ancestral Mech, they also recover a Locust and a Cicada from the battlefield.