Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Alien Squad Leader - a Human Imperial Strikeforce

I've had the figures for this army for ages, going right back to when I created my original Human Imperial Army. I finally decided that I ought to reduce the lead mountain by a small amount more and got round to creating a Human Imperial Strikeforce - an elite formation of power-armoured troopers with minimal heavy supports, but capable of quick assaults, covert operations and hit-and-run attacks. Like my original army, this force is going to be part of the military capability of the Third Human Condominium (3HC). 

I'd already painted up a couple of stands of power-armoured troops and jet-bikes, so I had the colour scheme all worked out and I felt like it was time to get the rest painted. These figures are 15mm (as usual) UNSC Hardsuit troopers from Ground Zero Games.

First, here are five squads of Shocktroopers.  
   

Next, three Heavy Support teams (I really wish that they were all the big gun at the back, but I only had one so there are mixed teams).


Finally, two Shocktrooper command stands, with command and communications droids,


and then some characters; a Primary Leader (red helmet), a Hero of the Empire, a Medic (white helmet) and two snipers (the kneeling one is equipped with a heavy weapon).



There are a few other options I want for this army that I'll probably fill using existing stuff from other armies. First, Assault Troops, who I'll probably represent with the power-armoured guys from my 2nd Global War Soviets, because their heavy power armour looks right for the job and also some Armoured Transports. These will probably be the ones in my Corporate Mercenary force for the time being, but I quite like the look of these from GZG.

At some point, I might want a Dropship, so I'll be on the lookout for a suitable model in the coming months.

Anyway, I think these have turned out pretty well, so I am going to have to get them into action before long. 

edit: Regarding the Assault Troops, I've changed my mind. What I am going to do is use the two stands of power-armoured troopers from my original Human Imperial army, but with their helmets painted green. This keeps the uniform character of the overall army, with just a distinguishing detail on their armour to designate their special status.



Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Some light attack vehicles for ASQL

I wanted some light vehicles to use in various Alien Squad Leader armies, generally for alien forces, as I am pretty well-catered for when it comes to Human vehicles. I was really taken with these ones from The Ion Age. They are described as Sphera Attack Orbs for the Shia Khanate Legions, but I will be using them for my Alien Imperial army and also for my as-yet unused Alien Imperial Strikeforce. I am sure that I will find other uses for them, because they look pretty versatile to me. 


I thought that green would be a fairly generic colour to paint them, seeing as it will fit in with most colour schemes. Before I glued them to their bases, I trimmed off some of the resin at the bottom of the vehicles, to give a larger area for the glue, but also to allow them to look as though they were slightly sunk into the surrounding terrain. I've also allowed some of the ballast to stick to the lower parts of the revolving tracks, hopefully looking like they are rolling along and kicking up some regolith or whatever the planetary surface consists of.

I think that these would also work in a Mechanoid army, maybe as Recon Droids. Anyway, they are nice-looking models. There are also larger versions of these circular vehicles with big guns and different variants of these small ones with different weapons options, so lots of ideas for a complete wheely army if that sounds like something you might want to create.

Monday, 12 February 2018

A nice 15mm resin church

I bought this 15mm resin church model a while ago from a bring and buy table at the club's HOTT tournament. It only cost £4 and was originally produced by an American company called Scenic Effects, about whom I know nothing.

Anyway, as it has a sort of vaguely Mediterranean/Spanish look to it, I thought that it would be ideal for my Syldavian and Bordurian SYW imagi-nations games. I see it as a Syldavian church, maybe one from the coastal regions where outside influences could easily have included those from Spanish-controlled southern Italy in the 16th century.





The figure is from Peter Pig, actually from their Pirate range, and is the Holy Man for my Syldavian troops. He is a somewhat martial Catholic priest, armed with a sword.

I really rather like this building. It was a fairly quick paint-job and is going to be useful for other games too, hopefully. I think it is quite characterful and I might have to get some other buildings that will fit in with it on the table. The Hovels Spanish 15mm buildings look like a decent set.

I haven't written much about Syldavia and Borduria for quite some time, but they are never far from my thoughts. I've been thinking on and off about some Ottoman opponents for both countries, seeing as they both have southern borders with the Ottoman Balkans, and that particular mini-project might happen later this year. I also want to paint up some Syldavian militia, who will probably be based on Essex SYW Austrian Hungarian musketeers.

Alien Squad Leader - The Soviet Armoured Fist rumbles on.

I was keen to get my Second Global War Soviet army back on the table again, so a game against Nick's Alien Enslavers at the club yesterday was just the ticket. This was a 200pt battle, so I got an opportunity to deploy my Super Heavy Tanks, unreliable experimental technology but packing a massive punch because of the Primary Weapons system on each tank.

The battle we were fighting was Breakthrough/Rearguard Action, Scenario 6 in the rulebook. I was the attacker, and to win I had to get two units across the table and exited. I'd played this before and managed a win, but I was less confident this time, because of the inherent unreliability of my tanks. Also, I was worried about the psychic powers of the Enslavers.

The table was set up with a river cutting it in two. Luckily I was able to reposition the built-up area nearest to the forest to give my troops some useful cover.


I had a plan, but it all depended on using my long-range firepower to whittle away at the Alien hordes. The Heavy Tanks were on my right and the Super Heavies on the left, with mobile rocket artillery and field artillery in the centre  to launch hopefully devastating barrages.


The infantry were always going to be secondary in my plans, but I deployed them on the flanks to prevent the Aliens from getting around and attacking my vulnerable artillery.


Supporting my armour I had a stand of Mechanical Scientists, inferior infantry defending Mechanics who could repair damaged vehicles.


The Alien Enslavers were a truly bizarre force. Giant tentacled brains. eldritch vehicles, fearsome-looking beasts and hordes of psychically-controlled Thralls.


Supported by floating heavy weapons, the alien tanks and infantry occupied the village on the Alien right.


My tanks soon began to hit their targets, causing damage to the Alien armour. The white figure is a Subject Telepath.


The Alien centre was packed with Thralls, but indirect artillery fire began to thin their ranks. Getting these out of my way was crucial to my plan.


I was also keen to drive off or destroy the Alien armour in the village. 


This force on the Alien right worried me. I didn't want to have to divert forces to fend them off, but I didn't want them coming over to my side of the river either.


I got my vehicles into cover as soon as possible. I didn't want my defensively weak mobile artillery destroyed by Nick's Beast of the Air.


My super heavy armour came under attack, sustaining hits, but my Mechanical Scientists were able to effect battlefield repairs and kept their threat very much alive. I also lost some infantry, but my core force remained intact.


One concern was my Sniper, who was generally unable to trouble the enemy, missing with about 80% of his shots. Re-education in the Gulags beckoned.


Slowly, the enemy forces were thinned out, but I was still not going to commit my forces to advance until they had overwhelming force. 


Finally, with the alien tanks on my right destroyed, the time came to get some troops over the river, my tanks sweeping aside the much-reduced screen of Thralls.


I was still worried by the Psychic threat, though and I concentrated my fire on the command stand on the hill.


These guys were also a concern. I took time to try and weaken them as much as possible.


My centre remained solid. both the indirect artillery and the tanks were causing damage to the aliens.


One tank was lost due to psionic attacks, but my advance continued. 


I ordered more armour to cross the bridge, once the aliens were weakened to such a degree that the threat was becoming negligible.



I sent my mainly-useless sniper into hand-to-hand combat against the Master of Thralls. Almost inevitably, he lost and his death meant that he wouldn't suffer at the hands of my NKVD goons in one of my dungeons.


However, this was just a minor setback as my armour and infantry poured forwards  to gain that all-important breakthrough, with two units leaving the table, with more to follow unopposed.


So, a resounding victory for the Soviet Armoured Fist. I am really beginning to like this army a lot. It isn't fast and it does suffer from unreliability, but The Stubborn characteristic means that troops don't suffer command penalties if pinned, so choosing to be Pinned instead of Falling Back makes a lot of sense.

The opportunity to re-roll shooting dice with tank guns upgraded to Superior Firepower is also useful. It gives you a second chance to score hits on targets you have missed with the first shot.

I've been the attacker twice with my Soviets now. I think that overall they are probably going to be a better defensive force, but they do offer an all-round threat from the massive firepower they can deploy.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

New purchases

Here are some recent purchases which are intended to fulfil two things. Firstly, to satisfy the standard wargamer magpie urge and secondly, to boost an existing project and start off another one.

First, here is the project boosting set. These are the new plastic Perry 28mm Zulus, which I shall be using for Congo to give me some African warriors who are a little different from the standard Congo ranges of African Kingdoms metal figures. I like that this box gives the option of making warriors with muskets ot rifles as well as traditional weapons. This means that I can have four warriors with rifles and five with muskets. I'll probably have to buy some metal character figures but for £20 this is a cheap way to bulk out my Congo collection.


The next two boxes were something that I'd wanted to get for some time, because I really wanted to paint some Late Romans, but really didn't have a reason to go out and spend the money on figures for which I didn't have a use. They are Gripping Beast plastics, again in 28mm. My idea is to use these to create a Romano-British warband for Saga, but they could easily be the basis of a Late Roman warband too. Again, I might need to get a few metal figures as characters later on.

The Dark Age cavalry (I really wish they were called Late Antiquity/Early Mediaeval Cavalry, but that is me being a pedantic historian) will work well as Auxiliary light cavalry, and the foot troops look perfect for my plans.



I'd never really considered Saga before, but my appetite was whetted by Annie Norman's Freyja's Wrath Kickstarter, to which I have pledged enough money to give me enough figures for a warband with extra troop options and some characters.

Of course, the Late Romans/Romano-British will also be ideal for Dux Britanniarum, assuming I want to buy another set of rules, which can never be ruled out!

So, lots more figures to paint in the coming months. It should be fun.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Big Congo - a bit of an experiment


A few weeks ago, we were having a conversation at the club about how Congo could be adapted for larger games and games in different periods and locations. There were two different periods that we thought would work pretty well and they were The Wild West and Mexico during the age of the Conquistadores. I think that we have a bit more thinking to be done on these, but I am sure that the game mechanisms would translate pretty well.

The other thing we discussed was whether we could use the rules for larger games with more players and more figures. This post is about this, and some specific rules ideas that I wrote up for a specific experimental scenario. Here is what I wrote;

Big Congo special rules

This scenario has a small European force defending a village, kraal, trading post or similar built-up area. This is surrounded by a compound contained within a mixture of light and hard cover, plus buildings. One building/open area must be designated as a Dressing Station (see below).

Light cover could be hedges or light fences. Hard cover could be walls, sandbag defences or substantial fencing. This force is facing an attack from a local native ruler with a grudge against the Europeans. Perhaps he has been deprived of his income from slavery or maybe his dispute is over grazing rights, proselytising missionaries or some other insult to his dignity. Unable to resolve this issue via peaceful means he has assembled a force of tribal warriors, some equipped with firearms and mercenary fighters.

The game should be played on a 6 x 4 table..

The territory could be open savannah or a jungle setting. Regarding forces, it is pretty much what is available, but there really needs to be a much larger native forces attacking a smaller, but better-armed European one.

Composition of forces

Defenders

The defenders can choose from the White Expeditions list and could be something like;:

1 x Explorer
1 x Retired Officer
3 x Soldiers
1 x Adventurers
1 x Trained Askaris
1 x Askaris
1 x Ruga Ruga
1 x Loyal Warriors (see Forest Tribes army list for stats)
Any number of civilians, bearers etc.

Of course, if there is a different range of figures available, more groups could be included.

The defenders may contain 1 x Missionary. This character will add +1D6 to all dice rolls for units within a radius of M distance. The missionary is taken from the total number of available civilians. The presence of the Missionary will allow any non-European defending unit targeted by a Ritual to ignore the result if it can successfully roll against its Bravery. Any unit within M distance may also re-roll a failed Terror test. The Missionary does not need to be attached to a specific unit. The Missionary has stats of Shooting (0) Combat (6) Bravery (8).

Characters may leave a unit and join another at any time as part of normal movement.

Dressing station

All defender casualties are placed in the dressing station. In the round after they have entered the station roll 1D6. If the roll is a success, the figure is only lightly wounded and may return to its unit. Figures cannot do anything except move (at distance M) until they are back with their unit. If the roll is 1, the figure is dead and is removed. Figures can be rolled for again at the start of each round. There are up to two civilians in the Dressing Station, acting as doctors or nurses. Each doctor figure can roll a maximum of 3D6 per round.
 
Civilians

The defenders have a number of civilians amongst their numbers. Up to two civilians (not bearers) may be placed in the Dressing Station as medics. One civilian may act as a Morale Booster. This figure is an Inspirational Person. Any unit to which the Inspirational Person is attached may re-roll all dices scores of 1. The Inspirational Person has stats of Shooting (0) Combat (6) Bravery (10).

Up to four civilians (not bearers) may be armed. They have the same stats as Scouts (i.e. D6 for all characteristics).

Any other civilians present are simply unarmed and with no specific role. This includes any bearers on the table.

Native Attackers

The Native forces will be led by a Native Warlord (King). Up to two other characters may be taken. If available a War Horn may also be taken. The War Horn may only be attached to a unit armed with assegais.

Note: if a Witchdoctor is taken, he cannot influence any European units or characters, only other African ones.

Characters may leave a unit and join another at any time as part of normal movement, apart from the King, who must remain with his Bodyguard at all times. The size of the Native force really depends on what is available. Units in BOLD are obligatory. For example;

1 x King
1 x Bodyguards
1 x War Horn
2 x characters of choice
2 x Bundukis
1 x Fanatical Warriors
0-2 x Ruga Ruga
0-2 x Married Warriors
0-3 x Warriors
0-5 units of Young Warriors
0-2 x Pygmy Archers
0-2 x Pygmy Warriors

Fanatical Warriors and Married Warriors may make a Charge move (distance L) if they pass a Bravery dice test.

Native reinforcements

Each native casualty is removed until a complete unit has been destroyed. This unit can then rejoin the battle on the following round from the edge of the table as a unit of reinforcements. Reinforcements should move at double speed until they are within the zone of battle. Native reinforcements will be the same type of unit as the original one being replaced.

Pygmies

Pygmies will be ordinary units of natives and count as being in light cover when being fired upon. They make their saving throws using 1D6 and add 1 pip to their dice scores. Pygmy archers do not have poison arrows in this scenario. Pygmies count as being unseen until they are within 1 x L +1 x M distance from a defending unit.

Defensive cover

Defenders count as being in light or hard cover, unless clearly in the open. Saving rolls from Shooting are made on 1D8 for light cover and 1D10 for hard cover. In Melee, the defenders will roll 1 extra Combat dice if in light cover and 2 extra Combat dice in hard cover.

Long range shooting

All troops (defenders and natives) equipped with rifles (not muskets) may opt to shoot at Long Range. Each dice rolled suffers a -1 penalty for this.

So, that was the starting point for the game.

As things turned out, the European defenders had;

1 x Explorer
1 x Retired Officer
1 x Kirangozi
1 x Missionary
1 x Inspirational Person
2 x Medical Staff
4 x Soldiers
1 x Adventurers
2 x Trained Askaris
2 x Askaris
2 x Ruga Ruga
1 x Loyal Warriors (see Forest Tribes army list for stats)
2 x Bearers(who were just there as scenery really)

The Attacking side was huge. There were three players, each with seven or eight units and a couple of characters apiece, plus the King and his Bodyguards.

We played the battle out in a fairly busy forested region. I took the European side and the African tribes were played by Nick, Andy and Craig. Here is the table before the game started.







The woman in blue is the Inspirational Person and my Missionary is the younger woman in the green skirt on the right edge of the picture.


 

Here are the Africans. Lots and lots of troops.







Here is the defending force from the other end of the compound.


 
 
The defenders take up firing positions and await the onslaught.


What we agreed to do was this. Each player on the African side would have two Action cards per turn and could draw one Totem card per turn. As the Defender, I was allowed one Totem card per turn and four Action cards. The Turn would be as follows;
a) All four players choose an action card and play them. These are resolved accordingly.
b) the Defender then plays one action card in turn against each Attacker.
It took a while to get everyone onto place, but once this happened, the game proceeded pretty quickly.




































As the game played out, it became apparent that the sheer weight of numbers would eventually favour the attackers and it was only a matter of time before the defences were breached and inevitably the defenders began to come off worse in hand-to-hand combat. As casualties mounted in the dressing station, so did the number of dead. Clearly this station was a pretty insanitary place and the medical staff were not qualified enough to do much to patch up their casualties.

In the end, the clock defeated us, but as things stood at the end of the game, it seemed obvious that the Africans would triumph. There were simply too few troops to defend the outer compound and the end would undoubtedly be grisly for all concerned.
We agreed that the experiment was relatively successful, but that there probably needed to be a number of adjustments to the special rules. A couple that seem to make sense are;
  • Increasing rifle range to L+M as standard.
  • Allowing two rounds of rifle fire per shooting action inside Range L (but with a success score of 6 required for both shots).
  • Not giving the defenders any extra combat dice when fighting behind cover but possibly giving them a saving throw  for any casualties caused.
Anyway, definitely an interesting experiment.