Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas Calendar - Final Entry

To give a proper end to the christmas calendar (and to this year), I´ve spent some more time today on completing the African Soldiers. Here is a range of pictures, staged as a fight between the woodland-camoed and the desert-camoed units:

Elite Units the NAM advancing against enemy positions

Osambi Mukutu in action

Defenders lying in Ambush positions behind the field

Waiting to strike...

I hope you enjoyed the calendar ;)
I wish everyone a happy new year!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Campaign System December Updates - Part 3

In yesterdays entry I talked about the new game mechanism that will be added soon (probably in Campaign turn 6). With the new system, we´ll reintroduce Fog of War cards into our tabletop games. The twist is that the FoW-Cards are a ressource within the campaign system, that have to be earned and "distributed" on the scenarios, as players build their decks for every mission. Read Part 2 for more details, everything is covered there!

Today, I´ll speak about the balancing aspects of this system.  On the first glance this new mechanism probably doesn´t need too much balancing. The most important questions in this regard is the development of the FoW-Cards: We don´t want too much free resources (e.g. tanks or whole Fireteams popping up out of nowhere), but modifiers that give you an edge, a small tactical advantage or new opportunities to strike. On the other hand, I´d like to implement some tactical assets (Free Air Support, IEDs, etc.). 
This means we´ll have to make up some rought design philosophy of what is OK and what is not – and the distribution of cards has to be considered as well. Giving the Insurgents lots of IEDs and almost no Air Support for the US would probably cause some irritation. This is the part where balancing matters need to be considered. But that had to be done anyway, if we ever wanted to reuse FoW-Cards in our game. In fact, this system provides an elegant solution to the problem we had with FoW-Cards: Under normal circumstances, adding FoW-Cards would put another responsibility on the shoulders of the game master, as he has to choose which cards should be used as a deck for the respective mission and which are not applicable. This can easily go wrong and favour one side too much. It´s already hard to design the VP conditions, FoW-Cards would make things harder.

The system circumvents this problem, as the players are now responsible for shaping their FoW-deck. The game master cannot be blamed for wrong choices of the players. The system is transparent and known to everyone – no discussion about why that player got this card and vice versa. He earned them (by controlling villages) and draw them. He was lucky enough and was able to use the opportunity he had created by good planning.

Apart from this aspect of card design, the second aspect that needs some testing & balancing is: How many cards will be needed per game (and should be generated on average per campaign turn). Having too few cards available will have the system running below its capacity. Half of the systems intricacies will not come to bear, as resources would be too tight. There should be a small deck of cards in every game. The opportunity to buy additional cards from other ingame-currencies (COIN or Cells) could circumvent this problem, but this might also lead to positive feedback circles, so the price must be high enough (but not too high)...
On the other hand, we don´t want too many cards. Having too many available will make things boring, as the resource-management aspects of the mechanic won´t work properly. If you have the same card available for every mission, there´s not much choosing: You can use it anytime anyway and half of the cards wouldn´t matter anymore, because they´re lost in this turn but redrawn in the next one. You´ll hit the point where you can gather so many cards that you don´t have to manage anything meaningful anymore – only a huge mass of cards that are not really worth much. FoW-Card-inflation ;)

Apart from these two aspects, I can see no bad implications. For a start, I´d like to aim for something like 5-10 cards as player decks (per player & scenario). With 10-20 FoW-cards per game this is probably a smaller deck then normally used, but in my experience the number of drawn cards is somewhere in that range, which means players won´t build much larger decks than that anyway + maybe a safety margin. (I´m seriously interested in reports from more experienced players! How large would your deck be, if you had sufficient cards available?).

So far, we´ve played 4 campaign turns with 6 engagements, which equals 1.5 engagements per turn on average. Our current (5th) campaign turn will probably have 2 battles, maybe even three. That would increase the rate to about 1.6 to 1.8 scenarios per turn. Though more engagements have to be expected as the US pushed deeper into the valley we´ll stick with this observation for now.

With 5-10 cards per player – we´ll take 8 as a mean, rounded up from 7.5 – this means that approx. and on average 25-30 cards that should be available per turn. Right now, we´ve 9 built-up-areas on our map, which means that a support-value ranging from -2 to +2 would not be enough, as only a maximum of 18 cards could be provided this way. How do we tackle this problem?

  • Option 1 is to increase the range of potential support-values to a larger margin (e.g. -4 to +4). 
  • Option 2 is to introduce more built-up-areas (BUAs) into the map (adding some farming villages in the greenzone). 
  • Option 3 is to add a factor to each BUA according to its importance (e.g. factor 3 for the densely populated city center of el Qualeed, factor 2 for the outskirts of the city and factor 1 for the villages).
Option 1 would yield more cards on the extremes (up to 36 if every village is completely controlled) and it would require more effort per city to build up local support to the highest possible level. The problem is that it doesn´t change much if cities are not extremely supportive of either side. If all cities are contested and fought over, nothing changes from the initial problem.

Option 2 would introduce more objectives, which would require further resources to control – so this is probably not a good idea to implement as a “patch” into the ongoing campaign. Furthermore, it causes a new kind of problem: More areas → more fighting → more scenarios → more FoW-Cards needed! Ouch! That might not help to fix the problem but worsen it! 
Option 3 requires some more calculation, as each area has its own factor. But it is probably the least interference with the map as it is now and provides the best results. In my opinion, its the best way to solve the shortcomings of a campaign map that was not designed with this feature in mind from the start. It keeps the game scale limited and doesn´t cause nasty feedback-circles like Option 2. Furthermore, it adds some differentiation in the importance of the targets. Controlling key cities might be more important than holding rural strips of land – but urban combat is also harder and nastier, which is kind of a trade-off, as this part of the challenge is also present on the Tabletop!

With option 3, El Qualeed would provide a maximum of 14 cards if completely dominated by one party (2x3 for the city center, 2x2 for the two outer districts). The villages would contribute up to 10 cards and the dam and its hydroelectric plant should probably be valued with a factor of 2 as well, contributing another max. 4 points. That way, we reach a sum of 28 cards at maximum local support. Which is about right. Additional cards have to be bought! This encourages good management of your cards and keeps the size of the card pools below the threshold of burdening the player

Option 3 also adds some non-linearity to the control of different areas. Improving local opinion in a city can increase your card-generation by up to 3 cards per point increase in Support-Value, while it´s only 1 in a village.

 Coming back to our example from Part 2: 

Controlling Mayasaf, the US player gains 3 cards (2 for Mayasaf West, 1 for Mayasaf East) and needs to spend COIN on more cards, or he might run into unexpected trouble within the scenarios. Mul Qasr doesn´t yield any bonus. The Taliban would generate a substential amount of cards: El Qualeed would generare 12 cards (6 for the center, 4 for the western district, 2 for the eastern district), the Hydroelectric dam would contribute 4 cards, and Mursaba would generate another 4 cards. In total, the Taliban would draw 18 cards into their player pool for this campaign turn.
The exact values are still subject to testing & evolution, but I think they are a good starting point.

However, as we didn´t play too many game with FoW-cards, so I cannot make a very confident assertion in this manner. As I´ve hinted in the text, I´d be very interested in your experience with FoW-Cards. I know they are highly variable with some games almost having none drawn and some generating a multitude of events. But I´d still be interested if you agree with my reasoning or if your experience tells you that my assumptions are wrong. So, the questions for you, dear reader:
  1. How many FoW-cards are drawn in a usual FoF-game (6-8 turns, 2-3 Squads) in your experience?
  2. How many cards would you put into your average FoW Mission-Deck and what would be your maximum number considering you loose all cards after the game regardless if drawn or not?
Please answer in the comment section, your input would be greatly appreciated and could save us some development time that would be required for answering them by trial and error. And feel free to add some further comments or suggestions!

On the 1st of January, I´ll put up the promised group-pics from the christmas calendar.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Campaign System December Updates - Part 2

Continuing this small series of on the current additions & plans for the campaign system, this post will pick up where I´ve ended yesterdays entry. I recommend you to read Part 1, if you haven´t already done that.

The third addition and improvement that will be implemented is a mechanism to provide an incentive to capture and pacify villages apart from their role as objectives to win the campaign. Right now, controlling a settlement has no obvious utility. Though it is one of the objectives for the Coalition player to control them all, even this objective was rather fuzzy, as there was no special definition of what “control” means. It didn´t matter much yet, as we are still far from taking all the areas. But still, I wanted to address the complaint that taking settlements had no effect on the campaign (apart from controlling the district center, which is needed as a prerequisite for some COIN-actions, like utilizing Governance Experts).

Right now, there´s no real reason to seize villages and establish a strong position there. But this is a major objective in modern COIN-Operations, as only securing settlements and winning over the local population will bring any progress in a strategic sense. 

So the question was: How to implement strategic boni/mali to securing settlements without either bloating the campaign system with further features no-one needs, but without making it so shallow that it is boring and repetitive. Taking settlements in a guerilla campaign should not be a decisive factor on the short term – but controlling settlements for a long time and swaying the local population is key to winning. Continuity and security is very important, while short periods of capturing and leaving the area shortly after has no effect whatsoever and potentially worsens the situation as the attitude towards the foreign troops becomes one of “they come only to destroy and then leave us alone again”.
The first ideas I came up with where unimaginative and within the boundaries of the current system. Controlling a settlement could earn COIN-Points or guerilla cells (or a sub-currency that has to be saved until enough is accumulated to earn COIN-points). But that was only more of the same, with the potential danger of causing an “inflation” of these values, which would require further balancing of costs & effects and adds no strategic depth to the game.

The second idea was that Tactical Assets (CAS, Arty, UAVs, etc.) could be separated from the strategic COIN-options (Reinforcements, Strategic mobility & INTEL, strategic investment, etc.), as those two categories didn´t mix too well and need some further love until I´m satisfied. I liked this second approach better then the first and explored the idea further. I thought about how it might be possible to implement this in conjunction with taking cities... This resulted in the idea to set up a deck of cards with these special tactical assets. These cards would be drawn according to the number/importance of the cities that you control and could be applied to missions. One could even add a set of strategic special effects to some cards, to add further boni...
The last step was an easy one:
Tactical assets for the insurgents are limited – if you want to implement this system for both sides, you´d invariably come up with something like IEDs - Now... there´s already something like this.
It´s called Fog of War-Cards and we´re currently not using them as we´re dissatisfied with how they distort the balance within our campaign game (with tanks or SF-teams popping up as free resources, which are not even there on the campaign map...). Time for re-introducing Fog of War in conjunction with an incentive for holding cities! The idea is simple, elegant but nonetheless deep enough to provide some additional challenges and (most important of all) Choices for die Players! (Gaming is all about choices)

The system I envision works as follows:
Every city or settlement area gets a marker that indicates its disposition towards either the Insurgency or the Coalition troops. The value of this marker has a certain range, e.g. -2 (insurgency-friendly) to +2 (coalition friendly). The value on the marker is influenced by the ability of the coalition troops to provide security in the area. Guerilla cells in the area and fighting in the region are bad for stability, which influences the opinion of the locals. Only if your forces are able to maintain enough presence and keep the insurgents in the defense they will succeed in winning hearts and minds. 

The local support-value on the marker allows the respective side (Guerillas if negative, US if positive) to draw a certain amount of cards from the card pool, which contains all potential Fog of War-cards for the side (the card pool consists of two separate stacks, one for the guerillas and one for the US). These are gathered in the player pool. An alternative way to obtain cards could be to buy a bunch of cards for a certain amount of COIN (and by sacrificing insurgency cells from the forcepool?).

Example of how its going to look (roughly)
In our Example picture above, the US are still on the back burner. They have secured Mayasaf (one Region with +2, and one with +1), are working on improving the Situation in Mul Qasr (but the Interference from the Insurgents is making things harder there). The other relevant areas are still controlled by the Taliban. If every point of local support lets you draw one FoW-Card (which will not be the case, but more on that later in Part III), the Coalition player would be eligible to draw 3 FoW-Cards into his player-deck, while the Taliban could draw 11 cards into his player pool. 
Before conducting a mission, both sides now have to build their FoW-Card mission deck, which can include any card available in the player pool. 
Within the mission, FoW-Cards are drawn as usual by a 1 in reaction tests. You draw your own cards - which are positive for you, because they´re from your deck. It has to be this way around because the chances of rolling a 1 is not equal. Its usually 1/6th for the Insurgent but 1/8th for the Regulars – so the probabilities would be distorted if a failed reaction test should trigger a “bad” event for you. As most of the FoW-cards in the standard book seemed to be negative for the US player anyway, it´s only fair to give the Insurgent some advantage with slightly better chances to draw a card. Apart from that, losing a reaction test with a 1 is bad enough ;-)

So, you draw the card and apply the effect (or keep the card until you want to apply the effect if the card allows that). If you don´t have any cards left in your deck, your opponent draws a card instead. If he doesn´t have one left either, nothing happens. 
All cards in the mission deck are lost after the mission and go back into the card pool. It doesn´t matter if they were drawn (and used) or not.

This adds some interesting choices when building decks: On the one hand, your cards are lost if you put them into the deck, so you want to put only those in that are going to be used. Of course, you only want to put in relevant cards that are useful to you according to the mission. A vehicle repair probably won´t be useful to you if your mission setup doesn´t contain a vehicle. On the other hand, you don´t want your opponent to draw cards once your deck is exhausted (because this gives him the opportunity to utilize his cards and get an edge over you), which means you´ll have to bolster your deck with more cards then you´d normally put in - or maybe its better to risk giving a free lunch for your opponent than potentially wasting cards...?

It´s your choice and there is no perfect way! Excellent! A simple game mechanism that adds more resource-management, strategic depth, player interaction (he things that I think he thinks....) and re-introduces Fog of War-cards without unbalancing the game, as they have to be earned with investment (to control cities & increase local support).

Now, after introducing you to the basic aspects of this mechanism, I´ll use this opportunity to make another cut in the text. Tomorrow, I´ll talk about the balancing & the more technical aspects (with numbers & calculations!) of this feature. Stay tuned!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Campaign System December Updates - Part 1

Hey folks,

as I´ve promised on christmas, I´ve started to condense my thoughts on the new mechanics and (potential) changes to our campaign system into a word document. After hitting page 6, I decided that I´d split the promised blog-entry into at least two parts (maybe three) in order not to kill you with a wall of text.

To recapitulate how the campaign system works in general, I recommend a short study of the posts Operation Firefly - The Campaign continues which features a small executive summary of the mechanics of the campaign system. The second post is for those who are really interested in more details & my thoughts about balancing some aspects, but not required to understand this post. Read here about: The Delicacies of Balancing

So, we´re starting today with the first bit - the light stuff. Then you´ll get some time to recuperate before we move on to the truly awesome stuff ;)

During the last scenarios and the campaign turns we played through, some points have come up that need some further work on. I built the initial version of the Campaign system on the most basic mechanisms that I could come up with. The trick with designing a game is not overloading it with useless mechanisms, but instead abstracting it as much as possible. As much as possible means that everything that does not add to the game experience and the intended aim (a believable representation of guerilla warfare in our case) should be thrown overboard - but without sacrificing the aim for the sake of simplicity.
As all my games suffered from overcomplexity in the past, I´ve tried to restrain myself and condense this system to its basic skeleton from the start. And while the core works relatively well, the playtest has shown some shortcomings that I´m trying to fix with some additions and tweaks to the system. Some added flesh to the slightly corrected skeleton ;)

The first change we´ll make is concerned with bookkeeping. Although I´ve tried to design the system with the most basic mechanisms I could come up with, the unit status table has suffered from my habit of making things too complex:

I seriously considered tracking all that for >20 units?!
Tracking the Status of every soldier in the team has proven to be cumbersome and hard with more than a few Squads on the board. We will keep TQ, Morale & Name (maybe also Experience) for information, but the detailed bookkeeping on unit status will have to go!

Instead, a more abstract view on the subject will replace the detailed roster:
KIAs and Seriously wounded contribute to scenario VP in most cases anyway, which is incentive enough for the guerillas to kill coalition units in order to build up more strength on the campaign map. 
The new interpretation is that WIA and KIA units are replaced automatically within the time that is covered by a campaign turn. This means they´ll probably be full-strength on the next mission anyway. The concept of “Combat Fatigue” will be adapted to represent the strain on the unit that results from taking casualties and the potential difficulties that could arise when resupplying many units with casualties.

So far, we´ve used the concept of combat fatigue in the following way:
“When suffering heavy losses, troops might be affected by a state of shock that limits their combat abilities. For every KIA or POW in a Squad, roll 1 TQ-die. If the unit passes all checks, they suffer no fatigue. If one of the checks fails, they are subject to Combat Fatigue as per FoF-Rulebook.”
(Excerpt from the campaign rules document)

This concept will be modified and expanded to cover the effects that losing men has on your units. Every KIA, POW or serious wound causes a TQ-roll. A fail indicates that the unit will become “depleted”, e.g. suffers from combat fatigue and becomes less efficient in combat. We still have to experiment with the effects that will be applied to these units. That could range from using only FoF-rulebook combat fatigue, harder modifiers, like the chance to have understrength-squads in combat, or  even complete loss of combat readiness. We need to clarify what will happen when they are engaged despite being depleted. 

To recover from depletion, the units will have to spend an entire turn away from the combat zone to replenish (two if special forces). So, we get rid of useless bookkeeping and replace it by a mechanic that was already implemented anyway and smoothens the game with easier handling of things.

 The second aspect of todays entry is supply. We´ll have to test that in a few turns. So far, there are different options on the shelf how to resolve things (both are similar in nature but somewhat different in their details). So this part will be more raw then the above section.
The roads (thick lines) are the main supply routes in the map and can be disrupted if not properly guarded. We´re going to experiment with the following mechanic: Whenever a road is blocked by a guerilla cell, the insurgent player rolls XD6, with X being the sum of the cell value in the area. 

Now, the two potential versions:
-Version 1: For every 6, the supply level of the regular force is decreased by 1 level for the turn. It goes up automatically on the next turn if not disrupted again. (Easy & simple version)

-Version 2: The insurgent rolls XD6 vs. the convoi protection dice available to the regular player. Just like an FP-attack, the dice are paired off. If the Insurgent has more successes than the regular player, his guerillas succeed in disrupting supply for this turn. The US player has to invest in supply-protection to prevent disruption (more complex variant, more FoF-esque, but gives further choices to the regular player between investing precious COIN vs. using troops to keep the supply routes clear)
 Right now, I like the second version better. This is why I´ll end this entry with an example for Version 2: 
Example: Two guerilla cells (value: 1 each) are blocking the road to El Qualeed. They roll 2D6 for supply disruption scoring (6,6). The US convoi protection level is default (1D8). The US player rolls his D8 and scores a 7, blocking one of the sixes, leaving one success. The supply-level decreases to “Normal”, as the insurgents succeed in blowing up several trucks with IEDs.

What do you think? Version 1 or Version 2?  Please leave some comments in the discussion section. 
If you have any question, I´ll try to answer those as well ;)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Now, that´s the last mini that is going to be presented in daily installments of the christmas calendar.
Due to the crappy nature of the last few pics and the amount of figures that I´ve painted during the last weeks, I´ve decided that I´ll finish this calendar with a special set of bonus pictures, featuring all the minis that I´ve prepared on  New Years eve. In the meantime, we´ll enjoy our christmas holidays ;)

I promise that I´ll show you some proper pics of the last 4 gentlemen when I get home from my family-visit. Please have some patience until then.

So, apart from the Bonus pics I´ve promised above, what´s next on this blog after this little christmas project is finished? Here´s my list of things plannd for the next few weeks:

-I´m planning on writing an entry on our most recent addition to the campaign system, which should encourage taking strategic objectives on the map and add some interesting choices for the players.

-We´ll hopefully be able to resume the campaign sooner or later.We´re working on a solution to continue our latest game after we´ve been interrupted as I´ve moved in November .

-I´ll paint more Taliban and present the results here!

-I´ll add more buildings (especially more town-buildings, as I think I have enough farm & greenzone-terrain for the time being. And I´ll make some more courtyard/compound walls, as I lack some of these.

I hope that will suffice to keep you entertained for the next month or so!  If you don´t want to miss anything, you can subscribe - if you haven´t already.
Merry Christmas & a happy new year!

Friday, December 21, 2012

BGs Christmas Calendar - 21

As now apocalypse has occured today, I´m obliged to post another picture.

I´ve decided to paint 4 Light Infantry/Special Forces Types (or maybe even Paramilitaries). As I´m visiting my family again for christmas, I had to prepaint all 4 minis & take fotos in advance, which is why I didn´t take the usual time for prepping the environment.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bomb Alley

This is the promised report of our game from last saturday at the gaming club. Have fun!

2012, Somewhere in Afghanistan
American forces are tasked with escorting a convoi carrying humanitarian aid to a nearby town. The plan original plan was to follow a route that was recently cleared from IEDs and largely protected from Taliban interference. However, the Taliban picked up radio-chatter from the Afghan National Army contingents who are supporting the american operation and set up a hasty blocking position, laying several IEDs in a small village along the road. They are determined to destroy the convoi, or at least slow it down significantly to enable other cells to set up further ambushed down the road.
To counter this threat, an American team has been sent deep into the village to set up a strongpoint, in order to bind and distract the suspected Taliban forces in the vicinity. Afghan National Forces - supervisied by the second team of the detached squad - are supposed to join them and reinforce their position.

US Forces:
- 1x EOD Team (3w. M4 + 1 Lt. Supp)
 -4x Fireteam (2x M4 + 2x Lt. Supp)
 -2x Squad Leader
 -1xMG Team (1x M4 + 1x Med Supp, WT)
 -Stryker (Driver + Gunner)
 -Supply-HMMV (Driver)
-1x ANA-Fireteam (3x AK + 1 Lt. Supp)
 -1x ANA-Fireteam (2x AK + 1 Lt. Supp + 1 RPG (Med.Supp) )
-1x Medic

Taliban Forces:
Several groups, I didn´t count their number. Of course, this was a mistake as I put too few on the table... or too many Blufor. More on this on the debriefing.
American Objectives:
-Clear the Route from IEDs (4 potential devices)
-Exit the Supply Truck on the designated table edge
-Reinforce the blocking position in the large building with the ANA-troops.

Taliban Objectives:
-Destroy or capture the Convoi!
-Prevent the convoi from exiting the map!
-Per US soldier KIA
-per US Soldier seriously wounded  (bonus if no CASEVAC happens)


The game started with the US in the initiative. With their stryker and two teams on overwatch, the American players sent their MG team to occupy the central house. After winning two firefights with separate Taliban troops, the MG team suffered two casualties and became combat ineffective...
The other team advanced into the fields near the walled compound, after the EOD team had disabled one of the potential IEDs with their robots. 

MG Team Advancing
The American troops are moving in from the right side of this picture. The position that has to be reinforced is the large house to the bottom of the pic. The convoi must exit the left side before turn 8 ends.

A closer look on the firefight in the center
 Preparing to check their fallen companions´ status, the remaining fireteam moved into a position that enabled it to join the house on the next turn.

Turn 2

To rescue their MG team and to get them up working again, the fireteam was now sent towards the house.
An attempt to interrupt them on the move failed and the team established a position inside before trading fire with the enemy.

Taliban attempting to interrupt

But failing miserably.

Meanwhile, the stryker pulled up to cover the important EOD team and opened fire on the remaining Talibs. The HMG slugged through the walls of the compound and killed the remaining enemies.
With the threat to their flanks largely dealt with, the American players now sent their ANA-squad forward.

ANA on the march

Turn 3

With their numbers already decimated and bad luck on the reinforcement rolls, the Taliban struggled to gain the initiative. Making full use of their advantage, the Americans pushed on.
The MG team was checked and while one member only had a temporary shock and minor scratches, his assistant gunner was seriously wounded and needed immediate medical attention.

However, the second bomb on the road could not be disabled from afar and required the EOD team to begin their long march. To cover their approach, the Stryker was sent foward to deal with the Taliban:
(The die is indicating the danger-zone of the Ied)
As a result, the Stryker was engaged by both the RPG-gunner and the HMG in the round compound down the road. But both threats where easily defeated by the Overwatch-team and the Strykers main gun.

Dead Taliban

EOD Team moving up

On the other flank, the ANA assaulted the house in an Act of Valor, finding that an enemy had survived. After resolving the close fight, they took him prisoner to interrogate him later.

ANA close assaulting the Taliban position

Turn 4

Though unable to gain initiative, the Taliban finally had a good reinforcement roll and got another DshK-Team. To the surprise of the Americans, the HMG opened fire from the hill in their rear, with a clear field of view to the Supply-Truck.

Taliban Attacking the rear!
Meanwhile, the ANA had almost reached their objective:

ANA troops preparing to enter the Strongpoint
With the Supply truck now in immediate danger, the US players tried to pull it away out of the Taliban Line of Sight. Unfortunately for the Taliban, the HMG-Team rolled miserably, unable to score a significant hit.
(With a bit more luck, this could have been a win for the Taliban, or a significant boost to their position, if the vehicle was immobilized...)

Furthermore, the US sent their Medic into the central house, where the MG-team was still waiting for medical aid. Setting up a CCP, the medic remained there to treat the casualty, while the team moved on.

Turn 5
Another Taliban group pops up in the American rear on the hill (but this time only a PKM-Team).
The EOD-team moves towards the bomb to defuse it, but something goes wrong and the device goes off, causing a casualty.


Trying to secure their rear, the US player sends one team back to engage MG-Hill.

Locked in a fierce firefight, they suffer a man down!

Man Down! Medic!

Meanwhile, the Taliban are gathering at a new position with newly arrived insurgents:

More Taliban!

Turn 6

With turn 8 coming closer every minute, the US player check for the EOD-casualty and are relieved to see that he´s not in immediate need for CASEVAC.  Retaining the initiative, they resort the desperate measures and decide to clear the IEDs in an unconventional way:

Light Wound!

After the EOD-team has cleared one of the remaining two IEDs, the Stryker is ordered to drive into the second device to check if its an IED an detonate it, thereby clearing the path:

Stryker immobilized

Indeed, it IS an IED. Fortunately for the Stryker, its a poorly made device that only immobilizes the Stryker.

The Supply truck pulls forward and prepares to continue on the route

After this, the Supply-truck left the board on the next turn. In the same turn, the US evacuate their second serious casualty to the Casualty Collection Point they set up in the central building.


Though it was a fun scenario and definitely a good game, we had the impression that the US might have been favoured a little too much. The game was close nonetheless, with a desperate (and unneccessary) measure of sacrificing the Stryker (Damage to the stryker should also bring some VP for the Taliban, to keep the incentives correct) employed to ensure a completed mission - but this was largely not due to Taliban interference, but caused by the setup and the task of clearing the route. The Taliban where a minor distraction in the game, unable to deliver some good blow or a lasting impression.

This was probably due to good playing on the US-players side, who constantly maintained good overwatch and watched their fields of fire. But it was probably also due to the abundance of troops available to the Americans. One (maybe even two) Elements less would have made things more interesting in hindsight.

On the other hand, the Taliban decided to engage the Army very early. Trying to avoid contact until a favourable situation arises is key for Taliban successes! Even if it means to forfeit some reactions or opportunities to shoot at the Americans. Preserving your forces until the right opportunity to strikes shows up is very important when playing any kind of insurgents. Furthermore, they could have used Hotspot-Traveling more aggressively, popping up in the rear of the coalition troops more frequently.

But this is not the kind of gameplay I am asking of new players :)
Last time, they completely devastated the Americans, now it has been the other way round.

If you want to replay this scenario, you might want to use more Taliban or scratch at least one US Fireteam from the force list. And don´t forget to add VP for damaging the Stryker! Such a sacrifice should not be encouraged! Furthermure, make sure you place some more IED-markers on alternative routes to the exit - I´ve simply forced my players to go straight ahead, but adding more markers on sideroads will make maneuvering for normal teams harder and gets rid of a "hard" (as in: "forbidden action") constraint. Let them choose where to go and suffer the consequences.

Here is the final VP distribution after the game:

American Objectives:
-Clear the Route from IEDs (4 potential devices) (5)
-Exit the Supply Truck on the designated table edge (5)
-Reinforce the blocking position in the large building with the ANA-troops. (3)

Taliban Objectives:
-Destroy or capture the Convoi! (10)
-Prevent the convoi from exiting the map! (5)
-Per US soldier KIA (3)
-2x per US Soldier seriously wounded (2) (bonus +1 VP if no CASEVAC happens)

Which is a solid Victory for the US (13-4).

BGs Christmas Calendar - 19 & 20

Today I had the opportunity to catch up, so here are the two missing guys:


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

No Pic Today

I just wanted to leave you a note for information: I´ve just returned home after being away since 8:30am (its now 11:20pm) - I haven´t had any time to paint a mini or do anything else at home today. You´ll have to wait until I find some time tomorrow to paint two figures. Just bare with me and have some patience ;)

Good night!

Monday, December 17, 2012

BGs Christmas Calendar - 17th Window

Today we have another RPG-gunner. This was an accident, as I realized that I´ve already painted one in woodland camo and there´s usually only one in a typical NAM-squad according to my TOE...
On the other hand, the distribution of minis is such that there are more RPG-gunners than normal anyway. Guess some guys have picked up rebel weapons, or supplemented missing equipment through private means... a very special kind of african life insurance for soldiers.

But here we go:

Sunday, December 16, 2012

BGs Christmas Calendar - 15 & 16

Now that I´ve done the painting - here are the guys No. 15  and 16 in a group footage:

BGs Christmas Calendar - Window 15

Hey guys,

I´m a bit delayed with this one, as I didn´t find the time yesterday. I thought I could paint another African at the morning, but time was short and I didn´t get to it before I went to our gaming club session.
This is good and bad news:

Bad: This means I´ll update this post later today with the picture once I get to paint.
Good: I´ve a whole lot of pictures of our FoF-game from yesterday for you, which will be up as an AAR sooner or later.

Hope this outweights the delay ;)


Here we go:  Minis 15+16 in a rare group picture!

Friday, December 14, 2012

BGs Christmas Calendar - 14th Window

Today it´s going to be quick and dirty again, without fancy stuff. I had to pimp my terrain which also took some time and have no motivation left to edit the picture to make it more shiny.

Somehow, the pictures look bad and not as good as in reality... :(
But here´s what I was working on today as well:

New Buildings - still drying, which is why they are somewhat spotty. It will go away.
Upgraded Compound Walls

Thursday, December 13, 2012

BGs Christmas Calendar - Window 13

As you can see in yesterdays post, I´ve finished one squad (8 soldiers) of the regular NAM-Troopers. This means now is a good time to switch to the woodland camo-scheme. Unfortunately the pictures aren´t optimal to show the pattern...

And another one to see the detail:

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

BGs Christmas Calendar - Window 12

The first half of the calendar is already over. However, contrary to sports, I don´t take a break...

Thats our man for today.
And as all those poses are somehow repeating over and over, I´ll add another picture so you will believe me that I´m not posting the same minis over an over ;)

A Full NAM-Squad + Special Forces Team

Organisation-wise the NAM-squad will probably be split into one large Fireteam (3 AK + Support Weapon) and two Weapon teams. One of those will be an RPG-Team (RPG+Support Gunner) and the other one either an MG team (PKM + Ass. Gunner) or a Sniper Team (Dragunov + Spotter).

Even when running on low ammo (-1 FP) this will give them a lot of firepower:
4 Dice for the Fireteam (4 + Support - Low Ammo), and 3-5 FP for the Weapon teams (2 men + Support Weapon (if used) + 2 WT Bonus -1 Low Ammo)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

BGs Christmas Calendar - 11th Window

Almost halfway through ;)

Heres the guy (its the prone figure):

As the postures will be repeating again and again from now on, I´ll probably switch to the US woodland camo scheme for the last 5 Figures. I guess my african country is pretty short on cash and in the process of replacing the old camoscheme (US woodland) with a new one (Malonga Bush Camo) - but this leaves troops with a mix of schemes. Or maybe the NAM uses two different camos for jungle and bush terrain, but  the current crisis left no time to order more stocks for the lighter camo...