Friday, December 19, 2014

Fantasy Sculpts painted up

Some more Fantasy figure sculpted by your truly. They had been sitting on my desk for far too long and I wanted to get them off, so I skipped the last few steps of "finishing" the last few details on the models. This is why they look a bit rought at places - which wouldn´t happen if they´d go into production, but these are private models done for my entertainment-

On the left, a Skeleton mage, the spear and forearm stolen from a GW kit, the rest sculpted from scratch.  I´m thinking about making the flames blue instead of green to increase the contrast with the bones and grey cape.

On the right, my High Elf sword master interpretation - a slight redesign of the armor to improve freedom of movement by shortening both the armor kilt and the helmet and removing some decoration. Again, sculpted from scratch.

Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Winter Offensive - Part 2

The great winter painting offensive is rolling on!

A few more Taliban, lighting not ideal and not entirely satisfied with the folks, especially with the guy on the right, where I messed up with green on green, very similar shades, not enough contrast between pouches and jacket.

Also ventures back into the realms of fantasy and repainted a few more High Elf swordmasters to modern standards. You can see that one of them was painted using a black primer with pre-shading, the other three guys are plain grey primer.

And with a bit less direct lighting, stolen from the Taliban pic:

More is already on the way, WIP in the background.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Code Red - Dev Diary 12: List Building II

Hey folks,

I´m a few days late with the Dev Diary as I was busy and not very motivated to write another entry last week - including the weekend.
So today we´re covering list building with some more in-depth details.

Let´s take a look at some entries from the Taliban list to get a better idea how the system works.
First of all, every faction has some degree of flavor built into it, encouraging you to use them according to their doctrine or preferred way of fighting. Modern US Forces will get cheaper fire support, Russians will probably get cheaper mechanized forces and artillery and so on – always depending on the theatre of course.

The Taliban list takes a special position here as a list that doesn´t get much of a bonus, but has a huge amount of choices and flexibility. Taliban units are not cheap (in fact, some units might even be more expensive than comparable units from other lists), but they have a large arsenal that can be combined into a multitude of force compositions, enabling clever players to use synergies and adapt their list to meet the challenge ahead.
Before we delve deeper into the example:  The list is still work in progress and being tested, not the final product.

The basic building block of the Taliban list is the Cell, currently available in three sizes:  Small cell (3), medium cell (5) and large cell (7).
Each cell has options to choose from, like adding leaders, support weapons and other shenanigans.  Next to the options there are restrictions and limits.

 Small Cell

3x Local Taliban with Assault Rifles     (30pt)

 + RPK  (Magazine LMG)                     (10pt)
 + PKM (MMG)                                     (20pt)  (not available with RPG-7)
 + RPG-7                                                (40pt)  (not available with PKM)
 + Ammo for RPG-7                              (20pt)
 + Weapon Team                                    (10pt)
 + Upgrade to Hardcore Fighters           (10pt)
 + Upgrade to Foreign Fighters             (21pt)   
 + Leader (additional figure)                 (35pt)    (1 per 150pt*)
 + Ambush Card                                    (10pt)    (max. 2 per Cell)

By choosing and customizing our cells we can now create a variety of different infantry groups, ranging from standard infantry groups over MG-teams to RPG-cells and so on.
Being a tactically advanced and versatile irregular force, the Taliban also have options to upgrade their troops to a higher standard by making them Hardcore Fighters or even Foreign Fighters (Cechens, Syrians, Arabs, Pakistanis,  etc.) – this doesn´t come cheap but will boost the effectiveness of your core force. Combine this with a cheap screen of irregulars to suck up the enemy firepower and you can devastate modern western forces.

Taliban also have the capability to add  area denial options in the form of IEDs to their list. IEDs can have a huge impact on battles as we experienced in several test games – Western Forces think twice before heading into a minefield. You can (and should) combine your regular IEDs with some dummies to increase the uncertainty, it´s a cheap option that always pays off. And there are Suiciders carrying IEDs as well…
The Afghan Insurgents also have access to some limited Fire support either in direct fire mode (like DShK HMGs, RPGs and SPGs) or indirectly via mortars and improvised, unguided rockets, which can be combined with disguised locals to correct shots.

Speaking of locals:  The Taliban list also sports Rules of Engagements that apply to their opponents. These can be a real pain in the ass, if your opponents troops have to confirm the hostility of their opponents first, while you can shoot as you like. There are different sets of RoE, from PID checks to Fire support restrictions of different intensity.

Furthermore, there are reinforcements. You can choose from several lists and customize the kind and intensity of reinforcements, from a trickle of Hardcore Foreign fighters to waves of locals. As outlined in the DD on this topic, there are some trade-offs here.

Being Insurgents, the Taliban are also masters of the ambush – so they do have access to Ambush cards, both when setting up their list and during the game (getting new cards).
And there is another advantage of their guerilla nature: The enemy does have some restrictions on the objectives you will be confronted with. Some objectives are simply not available against guerillas.

The only things Taliban do not have are heavy fire support (large artillery and airstrikes) and heavy vehicles (not even armed technicals, as the use of those is suicidal with all the air assets flying around).

All in all, the Taliban have multitude of options that are not available to other combatants per se – this is their inherent bonus: flexibility and the ability to adapt.
You can create any kind of scenario.  Small number local insurgents in urban environments imposing heavy Rules of Engagement on their opponent,  Human Wave Tactics with lots of reinforcements (beware your command dice though!), Hardcore Foreign Fighters fighting in a remote area using all sorts of ugly tricks,  IED-ridden environments becoming the showground of an ambush, and so on…

 I hope this adds some more insights into the list building, please leave your questions in the comment section if there are any. 


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Winter Offensive - Part 1

Been painting some more Insurgents to reduce my stash of unpainted figures:

And a lot of painting still ahead for the rest of the winter months:

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Code Red - Dev Diary 11: List Building

Hello again,

I´ve been struggling with myself if I should write another DD today or not. I haven´t had much time this week and progress has been slow. But I decided I can´t break the schedule that easily, so this one will be a shorty.

We´re moving on to the scenario generator. My vision has already been outlined in one of the very early conceptual DDs. I want to design a system that combines the best aspects of point based gaming and scenarios.

The point-based system is very well suited to pick-up games, each player brings along his list, you set up the table and just go and play. I feel like this aspect is very popular with many gamers and certainly an mechanism that most of the "big" gaming systems out there have in common.

What people don´t like about this approach and why scenarios are so popular is that you´ll almost never see the kind of balanced engagements that standard point systems produce in reality, so they´ll always feel rather artificial. More often than not, one side has an inherent advantage over the other, either more material, better equipment or training, etc.

As outlined earlier, I can´t imagine any good reason why these two aspects can´t be combined into a single game mechanism. Scenarios are usually balanced by giving the inferior side easier objectives or by restrictions to the superior side (like rules of engagement and such).
Why can´t we give these point values as well?

This is the basic idea we used for list building. A list contains troops, support, objectives, circumstances, etc., all valued with a certain point value. As with your usual Warhammer, FoG- or Battlegroup-game, you set up your list by combining these in any fashion allowed by the restrictions of the list until you hit your scenario point value.

Now two people can bring along their list and a scenario is born. The trick is that you will chose the objective for your opponent when building your list, so you cannot min-max your list according to YOUR objective (as this one will be set by your opponent). It also means that objectives that are more difficult to fulfil for your opponent will be more expensive, so you will have less troops available to defend it and reach your own objective.

 The exact details and balancing the system are still work in progress, the basic idea so far seems to work. It´s a daunting task to get all the tiny details right, especially regarding the objectives - things can go wrong from time to time and we have to test more thoroughly to erase all the glitches that can be set up with this system, but I´m confident that given enough time we can work out a good and solid framework for people to design their own scenarios as a standard game.

More details next week, I hope you are not too disappointed with this rather shallow entry :/

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Code Red - Dev Diary 10: Reinforcements

Hello guys and welcome back to the tenth week since we started this Dev Diary series. To be honest, I´ve fallen a little behind on my planned schedule regarding the first playable test version since we have some more changes that need internal testing and I probably won´t be able to host a playtesting session throughout december, so the end of the dev diary will probably not coincide with the start of the Betatesting as I had originally planned.

So I´m talking about some minor aspects now instead of going full-steam with the scenario generator as I had intended. We´re saving this for later.

Today it´s all about reinforcements. Reinforcements are troops that are not in your initial deployment and will enter the table during the game. We added some new ideas and concepts here, but again we´ll have to take a look at Force on Force to understand how we got where we are now.

FoF used a reinforcement- or insurgency-level to roll against at the beginning of each turn, so you´d get a variable number of reinforcements depending on your luck. When you got them you´d roll on a table to determine which troops would enter the board and roll again to see which "Hot Spot" they would deploy from. These Hotspots where 5 points on the table carrying numbers, you roll a D6 and deploy on the rolled number, with a 6 meaning you get to choose one.

With the introduction of the Command and Control mechanics we realised that bringing on reinforcements on a random basis could actually destabilise the game a little, especially when people got lucky and deployed a lot of leaders as reinforcements. Furthermore, the reworked defense mechanics meant that troops would survive longer than they used to, so the need to deploy reinforcements declined somewhat while the impact of new troops arriving was larger (as you need more time to grind them down)

So we felt that a new measure of control had to be introduced to stop the flow of new recruits onto the battlefield.  Instead of simply reducing the overall number, we did this by introducing an element of choice and a trade-off. 
Instead of rolling automatically at the beginning of each turn, reinforcements can be called by your leaders, so they will require an order. This action will cost a command die (see also Dev Diary 3) and will be an order that you won´t have available to activate your troops.

This way, we´re giving the Insurgent player full control over their reinforcements. He can call whenever he likes, as long as he has dice left. Of course, there is a downside of coordinating a lot of forces coming onto the battlefield, so each attempt after the first will incur an increasing penalty on your roll. So you are actually more efficient when constantly bringing in small amounts of troops, but you probably won´t be able to do that all the time due to the limited budget of command dice.

Furthermore, we changed the way the reinforcement tables worked. Instead of scenario specific tables, we have a few predefined tables for each faction that can be upgraded in various ways. For the Taliban, there are currently 4 or 5  tables to choose from, containing a variety of forces from Local Taliban to Foreign Fighters and IEDs.  You can mix and match these in your list and, as I said, upgrade them in various ways, so you have a lot of room to customise your own reinforcement pool.
During the game, you can roll on any of the tables you "bought", so you can bring in Local Taliban with one command die, add Foreign Fighters to your troops with a second one and try to get an IED in the next turn with new command dice.

Depending on your upgrade, the chances to succeed are increasing - the basic table has quite a substential rate of failure, so mixing different types of reinforcements is either costly if you want high efficiency (high rates of success per throw) or a little less efficient compared to specialising on one or two reinforcement-table upgraded to higher tiers.

We have also discarded Hotspots, on the one hand because we feel that while they were quite fun in FoF they left the Blufor player with too much certainty over where troops could pop up and which areas where clear.  Second, we had introduced the Ambush Cards (explained in Dev Diary 9) and had a good way of bringing "hidden" troops onto the table already, so we felt the Hotspots where a little redundant.

Troops are thus either entering through ambush cards (hidden sleeper cells that are "activated" by the call of their leader, grab their weapons and get out of hiding)  or enter on the table edges outside Blufors deployment zone and outside of 10" of blufor troops (troops flocking in from areas outside the actual battlefield).
This has worked rather well so far and we haven´t missed the Hotspots much.

Of course this also adds the challenge of how to set up your leaders to coordinate the inflow of new recruits. Just having them sit on the edge of the battlefield is no good after all, so bringing in a lot of troops might seem like a good thing, but unless you can place them right into Line of Sight with your opponent they will strain your command resources if they don´t bring along their own leader.

During our testing sessions, these changes have spiced up the reinforcements aspect a lot by transforming them from a random mechanism to a mechanic influenced (and influencing) player decision.

That´s about it for today.


Friday, November 28, 2014

Afghan Firepower

A few more Afghan Fighters wielding heavy firepower to strike fear into the hearts of their infidel oppressors...

Number 1:

Number 2:

Number 3: 

And, as a Bonus figure, some more assets for the Coalition to fight the IED threat:

Thanks for looking,

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

DPM / Woodland - Painting Tutorial

Hey folks,

I´ve been asked to do a tutorial on my DPM / Woodland camo, so I took some photos while painting the latest mini and here we go:

The end result is supposed to look somehwat like that:

Only difference is: we´re painting an Insurgent today.

Before we start, a word of CAUTION:
The pictures where taken under my neon tube, which distorts the colors! The green is much greener than it appears in normal sunlight. So don´t worry if your results done look exactly as on the pictures!

We´re starting with priming the minis and adding a pre-shading by spraying some grey primer on top of the black one. You can probably achieve a similar result when working just on the plain primer, but I prefer it this way.

Next we start with the base color, which is  Russian Uniform Green (VJ 70.924)

If you want to apply wash or shade, now is the time. Put it on, let it dry, repaint the parts that are not supposed to be dark with russian green.

After this step, we make this a little bit greener by adding a diluted layer of Olive Green (VJ 70.967) or German Camo Bright Green (70.833) to create some depth.  Please don´t paint the highlighting color all over the mini, only on the elevated parts!

Now I add patches of Desert Yellow (71.122), which is an AirModel Color. I believe the standard model color equivalent is Iraqi sand or somesuch.

The trick here is to add the yellow patches on the elevated parts of the uniform, where the light would hit it. This way, you create the appearance of more depth which is usually lost when painting camouflage all over the figure.
The figure now looks like this -  Sorry for the blurry picture:

Next step is adding patches of German Camo Medium Brown (70.826) - preferably on the darker parts of the uniform, but you probably need to add more blobs elsewhere.

Now where getting close to the finishing line. Grab your Olive green again and highlight the edges of the uniform, the raised parts of folds in the cloth, etc. 

Then  use  German Camo Black Brown (70.822) to paint the dark pattern. Be very careful, you have to paint rather thin lines. I apply the color by using just the tip of the brush and a very low dilution (almost pure color, just a tiny tiny bit of water to improve the paintflow). 

If you look at the original pattern you´ll see that it´s usually three lines joined together in the middle.

Now re-highlight the edges again with Olive green if you´ve painted over them and maybe add a second layer of edge highlighting with a slightly lighter greentone (I mix it myself, using Olive Green and White or Ivory)

Et voila:

That´s about it. Now take care that you don´t destroy the camo again while painting the rest of the figure :D 

Good luck!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Code Red - Dev Diary 9 - Fog of War

And another sunday afternoon, so time for the next dev diary
(though I´m obviously pre-writing it at an earlier time ;))

Today we´re going to talk about different mechanics of Fog of War. The chaotic, unpredictable nature of the battlefield.

Fog of War - Image source:

For Code Red, we´re going for a layered approach to depict this difficult part. The very first layer is obviously die rolling, which creates a lot of chaos through path-dependency. It´s the usual thing you´d expect in wargames - very lucky or unlucky rolls can of course cut through your plans and create a very difficult environment for planning your attack or defense.
Everybody knows how that works, and we had some pretty incredible cases in our playtests already - an LMG team got shot badly, managed to save all 4 attacks without morale effects, shot back, scord 5 successes and the attacker failed to save all 5 on a threshold of 4+ on a D10. Such things happen, they are unpredictable and part of the Fog of War.

Though obviously that´s not a valid game mechanic. So looking at what else is adding uncertainty and special events in our game, we´re on to the second layer:  Fog of War Cards (or event cards). 
Anyone who played Code Reds "ancestor" Force on Force will know these played a role.  During our first few games of FoF we completely ditched these cards as they screwed the balance of the scenario with Tanks popping up, Special Forces joining one side, sandstorms hitting every second game... the idea was fun, but the effect seemed a little over the top to me to b enjoyable.

So we transformed the Fog of War cards by designing a new set of effects which is constantly expanded. Instead of huge balance-disturbing events we now have a set of effects that happen on a much lower level but may influence the outcome of the game in a much more subtle (but substential) way.   Instead of tanks popping up  you´ll now see the Machineguns jamming or running low on ammo, cover crumbling under enemy fire, and generally cards giving all sorts boni or mali to rolls depicting the mishaps and extraordinary performances you might find on the battlefield.

To add a twist to this card-scheme, you may now hold the cards and play them at any moment of your choice - so there´s a question of prioritising your effects, do you keep them for a critical situation or play them outright?  If you keep them until the end of the game, you might use them to hasten the demise of your enemy by investing them to end the game earlier than it might otherwise (which we´ll talk about in one of the future Diaries covering Scenario Generation).

Now on to a third layer of Fog of War, Ambushes. I´ve though about simlpe ways how to depict the deployment of units that are hidden to the ambushed faction and came up with a mechanic using Ambush Cards.
These cards provide a set of limiting factors (terrain features and map parts) which allow you to redeploy troops on the table or bring in new reinforcements (depending on the card) to the areas outlined by the cards.
So if you hold an Ambush Card saying "Redeploy a unit to a building or wall on the eastern half of the map" you may exactly do this if you play the card. Only restriction is that you may not pop up in the immediaty surrounding of your enemy in close contact, you´ll always have to stay outside 10". And of course you may not remove a unit within enemy line of sight to redeploy it.

Any command die used to activate a unit that has just been deployed or redeployed using an ambush card will trigger an "ambush", granting the ambushing units some one-off bonuses on their rolls during the turn. If you just have them stick around, they might be spotted and will not gain any bonuses in future turns, but might still roll good enough to surprise their prey.

This mechanism allows us to depict guerilla style warfare pretty well - usually there´s one faction able to mount an ambush, usually the local guerillas, the defenders, etc. - while the other faction is pretty well observed and will rarely be able to surprise their opponent.
So holding an ambush card equals a threat from every terrain piece on the board, you don´t know what your opponents restrictions are, the ambush might happen anywhere, but there´s a clear restriction written on the card - as soon as you play the card to execute it, your opponent can see whats going on and verify the legitimate use of the card.
And of course your opponent might hold cards that are utter trash because the tabletop does not have the required terrain features on the right part of the board...    but you won´t know!

Last but not least we have the fourght layer of Fog of War, which is the use of dummies for IEDs, pre-planned artillery strikes and things like that. You know from your opponents list that there might be an IED somewhere, but not exactly where. You might figure it out eventually, but he could have messed with your psyche and placed it somewhere else...  he might even use an ambush card to relocate an IED to a better place, but you have no idea if that was a real IED or just a dummy to screw with you...?
So while dummies are nice, they will not be used in a widespread manner to obscure the placement of your units - just the important bits, where it would be pointless to know EXACTLY were bad things are going to happen so you can avoid them easily.

That´s the most important points about Fog of War and the unforeseen events that you might encounter. Until next sunday!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

More Bundeswehr

Another Rifleman joining the group:

Now on to a fourth guy :)

The Russians are waiting for a resupply of Kalashnikovs, the stocks have run dangerously low. As casting will take 2-3 weeks I´ll have the first batch available just before christmas if everything goes well,  the second batch will follow after that with new weapons.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Compound - Another "Code Red" Playtest

Hello folks and welcome to the next battlereport as promised. This is the second game we played on Saturday and the setting is again Afghanistan.

I threw together two lists from previous scenarios that we hadn´t pitted against each other in this combination, so we saw the USMC facing a horde of Local, irregular Taliban.

After setting up the table and rolling off the starting edges it became pretty obvious that the terrain favoured the Taliban to some degree.
The USMC had to secure and hold the compound, the Taliban just had to kill the Infidels. 

As you can see, the USMC also screwed up the initial deployment somewhat by committing a whole squad to the central compound, which severely limited their movement options. The second squad was positioned much better on the right flank, covered by a treeline and with a good look over onto the rocky hills.

The approaches to the compound where littered with suspect devices which pretty much blocked the USMCs way on any direct route into their objective.

Due to the restricted approaches the Taliban where able to secure some key positions, including the compound in the first two turns which made it even harder for the americans to achieve their objectives.  Instead they switched into the patience-mode and started picking off the Insurgents at range, killing Taliban at a steady rate. 

The only problem was that Taliban where getting reinforcements and could compensate this to some degree as long as key personell (leaders) were still alive.
The US couldn´t reinforce their troops and any losses would bring them one step closer to defeat. Unfortunately, the first KIA on the american side occured in the early part of the game, one of the first firefights on the right flank took down a Marine for good.

To put up more pressure, the USMC sent a Fireteam forward on the right flank to occupy the hillside under cover from the rest of the squad and called in their Cobra Gunship to deliver a strafing run on top of a bunched up group of Taliban.

Unfortunately for the Marines the Taliban were not pinned down and able to move out of the way before the ordnance hit, so the strike was actually very ineffective but at least drove the Insurgents closer to the US.
Meanwhile the Taliban had turned up with a new shiny toy,  a DShK-HMG that was being set up in a field before delivering a volley of 12,7mm fire into the house occupied by US Forces. Though no casualties were caused, the Team and the JTAC where easily pinned.

To counter the threat, the Cobra was again dialed to deliver a missile into the HMG-team and the nearby cell of fighters. Unfortunately clearance procedures and a bad attack vector of th helicopter after the last strafing run delayed the request significantly and would leave the US in contact for quite a few more turns.

So instead of being stuck in the compound the Marine commander decided to relocate one of the fireteams towards the right flank to reinforce the push onto the hill.

 Meanwhile the firefight on the hill and the right side in general was raging on, with one single fireteam pitted against three groups of insurgents in a firefight on close range. In a heroic stand they held out for the entire game and reduced the Taliban groups one by one - fortunately the leadership on the right flank was somewhat weakened by the loss of a leader early on, so the Taliban couldn´t fight with full efficiency as the Irregulars wouldn´t always perform as expected. 

On the picture above you can see a second US casualty occuring, shot from the far end of the compound. He was ultimately found seriously wounded and quickly tended to by the Medic.

Meanwhile, the firefight on the hill raged on, with a steady rate of Taliban casualties. Fortunately the Taliban weren´t able to mount a combined effort on the USMC team, both due to command and control issues and overwatch from the rest of the squad in the treeline.

The Taliban now moved another small cell into the compound to establish line of sight to the isolated fireteam, but again they were unable to cause casualties or suppress them for good to prepare a close assault by the remaining troops.
Another HMG-team turned up and was positioned on the right flank as well, ready to deliver some hefty firepower on the lone Fireteam.

Fortunately, the Taliban made a mistake by drawing in another leader from the left flank to prepare the ultimate destruction of the fireteam. Putting the leader in the direct line of fire of the USMC-team (and without much cover on the wall of the compound) proved to be fatal as the Marines took him down before he could coordinate anything.

At this point, the Taliban command was seriously strained, with only three leaders left they where running short on activations for all their units.

Furthermore, time was running out as the Taliban player had to leave and my departure was also drawing closer.  We thus called it a game, and though it was a very balanced affair to this point my bets would have been with the Marines. On the other hand.. you never know, a few bad rolls and the Taliban might have succeded as well...  hard to say

All in all, a very nice game.  The Marines paid for their mistake to deploy into the compound, which essentially boxed them in. They also suffered from the IEDs blocking their way (or rather from our hesitation to put the men at risk by taking that route).

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Code Red - Dev Diary 8: Vehicle Destruction

Hello again and welcome to another iteration of our dev diary series!

Todays topic is Vehicle Destruction.

Image source:
The reason why I call it vehicle destruction rather than vehicle combat is simple: we´re focussing on destructio, as that´s the major area of change and the most important field to talk about.

In Force on Force, vehicles where destroyed by rolling firepower pool, pairing off successes against the defenders defense pool which was defined be the vehicle armor. If the attacker scored more successes than failures, he could roll on the damage chart and inflict some damage.

In my opinion this approach has several downsides. First problem is mixing all the relevant factors and steps into the firepower pool. As the firepower pool represents both hitting the target and achieving some terminal effect on the enemy, it can be very confusing to interpret.  Weapon systems with more damage potential (i.e. higher firepower) are much more likely to "hit" something (i.e. score some amount of successful die rolls) but may not inflict much damage by doing so as the result can b canceled out.  This produces a very strange picture of the events transpiring, with a lot of hits of very destructive weapons causing no effect on the vehicle.
On the other hand, it also means more destructive weapons are actually more likely to hit ANY target.  Firing with a big gun on a very light target yields a very high chance of destroying it, not just because the damage potential is higher, but because its much more likely to produce enough successes on a higher number of dice (which will usually be enough to trigger damage vs. low amount or armor dice)

Small example:
A TOW with Firepower 9D8  or so  is so much more likely to actually hit the target (expected amount of successes on TQ D8 = 5-6 dice or just a 0,026% chance to fail all 9 dice) than a 30mm autocannon with just 4D firepower  (average: 2-3 dice,  chance to fail all dice = 2,5%).
If you just look at the chance to fail all dice you´ll notice that a factor of 100 divides these cases.

So interpretting any successes as "hits" is not only the wrong interpretation, it´s also a problematic game design aspect. If anything, shouldn´t the 30mm cannon be much more likely to hit a target?  Less likely to penetrate it may well be, but hitting something is certainly easier with a lot of ordnance flying towards the target, which the autocannon can certainly do better...
Part of that problem is remedied by the different weapon damage and vehicle armor classifications, but it still plays a strong role.

Second problem with the FoF-approach is damage resolution. FoF features many tables with effects of different guns vs. vehicle types (which is another problematic aspect but I´ll not discuss this in full length...) but ultimately yields a stochastic result. We´ve seen Abrams shooting a T55 and the T55 survived unscathed because the Abrams rolled a 1 on his D12. Several times in a row...

You can never argue about luck or bad luck, but maybe the distribution is not ideal if my chances to escape certain death by a high end tank is still almost 50%? Only a 6+ on the relevant damage table results in immediate destruction of the tank, everything below that will only damage components...  

Anyway, I won´t go into too much detail here as FoF vehicle combat has so much subtleties and hidden pitfalls that make it hard to explain my point. In my opinion, the results feel wrong, and while in theory the mechanics should work and some measures have been taken to balance out the worst anomalies, the empirical evidence from gameplay is such that I think a change is required.

So what have we done with vehicle destruction for Code Red?

First of all, we´re split the process up again. You first have to hit the target, if you do so, you have to penetrate the armor. This immedialy reduces the amount of trouble caused by different weapon systems and their characteristics.

The to-hit roll is resolved like any other fire from heavy weapons and a rather trivial check. If you fail to hit your explosive charge might land elsewhere and cause damage in the area around your original target, depending on how bad your shot was.

Once you´ve hit, it´s all about penetration.  In my opinion that I generated by some basic research penetration relatively close to an all-or-nothing thing.  Either the vehicle is penetrated and some degree of damage is caused (with exponential effects as the level of penetration increases - minor penetration might just be survivable, major penetration will almost always kill the crew or the electronic systems and render the vehicle entirely inoperable)  - or it isn´t.

To check if a vehicle is penetrated, the attacker substracts the armor value from the penetration value (AT-power of the weapon). The result is a modifier that depends entirely on armor and penetration.

This modifier is then used to roll on a damage table, added on top of 2D10 (negative modifiers are thus substracted)

2D10 generate a nice bell-curve thingy with average results of 10 and 11 respectively.  Serious damage happens at 14+.  Assuming equal penetration and armor, the attacker thus has about 30% chance to knock out the target with a single hit. If the penetration exceeds armor, this might very well be much higher.

There´s also a very simple solution for critical hits, which is again kept secret to encourage you to look at the full ruleset once finished ;)

If a vehicle is hit and survives the damage, the crew must take a morale check - again, this check is modified by the modifier calculated earlier, so very small calibre weapons are very unlikely to scare the crew of a heavy tank, while something potentially dangerous might make them think twice!

Of course, things are always best explained by an example.  So let´s take an extreme case of a TOW vs. T55 from start to finish.

The TOW-gunner declares his activation against the T55, wins his reaction test and fires. The first shot misses the tank, but due to a bad reaction test the T55 hasn´t spotted the TOW team properly and is only able to put fire in the rough direction, to little effect.
The TOW then fires again in the next turn, this time hitting the T55.
A TOW(-I) has a Penetration of 15, whereas the T55 only features a front armor of 7.

The armor is substracted from the penetration value (15-7 = 8), which results in a total bonus of +8.
Now, 2D10 are rolled and +8 are added.  We roll a 16, add the 8  and get a 24.
Cross-referencing the damage table we can quickly guess that the tank explodes in a ball of flame, with munitions cooking off and parts and debris flying all around the place. 

And a second example, just to show some more variety:

A T72 fires on an M60A3 Patton, hitting it (otherwise the example would be quite pointless). With a penetration of 13 the basic T72 has slightly more penetration value than the M60 has on his front armor (10).
The total modifier is thus +3  (13-10),  2D10 are rolled for penetration. Result is an 11, which is barely enough to produce a 14 with the modifier applied. The M60 is penetrated and disabled. The crew has to take casualty checks for each member- two of the crewmen are dead, the remaining two bail out and get to cover somewhere nearby.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Go West! - A Cold War Batrep

This is a short summary of the events that transpired during one of our two playtests today on a local convention.

We played a Cold War-Scenario pitting East German Forces against British Army of the Rhine.

The East Germans fielded a platoon of Motor Rifles with BMP-2 and some support assets:
  • 3x Mot. Rifle Group  +  BMP-2
  • 1x T55
  • 1x Platoon Lead + Forward Observer
  • Heavy Mortar Battery on call
The British had a force of two veteran sections with good morale:

  • 2x Infantry Section (Veteran) including a Carl Gustav in each time as usual
  • 1x Platoon Lead + Forward Observer
  • Light Howitzer Fire Support on call 
The disparity in forces was balanced out by the higher training level of the Brits and their easier Objective of delaying the East Germans and/or destroying their T55 to prevent an exploit into the flank of the company.

The East Germans had to achieve breakthrough to threaten the defensive line of the company and lead the way for the next wave. To do this, they had to bring at least 3 teams towards the enemy table edge.

The game started with aggressive action of the BMPs, which unleashed their 30mm Cannons on Section 1 Riflegroup entrenched in their field fortifications. Unfortunately, the fire was less devastating than the East Germans had hoped...

The answer was relatively swift and within two turns, both BMPs exploded in balls of flames as the MAWs hit their target and pierced the APCs.  The explosion of one of the BMPs also affected the dismounted infantry group next to them by killing their leader and causing some confusion in the worst possible moment.

Reduced to the infantry dismounts in the centre, the firefight quickly evolved into British target practise as the veteran troops slowly, turn by turn, chewed through the infantry groups.

Meanwhile the East germans started a last attempt on the right flank and managed to advance their tanks and a Motor Rifle group with the last BMP along the right side.
Due to a bad decision by the NVA platoon leadership (i.e. players) the infantry group was ordered into the British flank but ultimately failed to develop enough momentum to do any damage. The British just regrouped a few meters back, held them at a distance, pinned them down and slowly chewed through the group.

So while the BMP and the T55 had broken through, the three infantry groups were stuck in the firefight, pinned down and taking heavy casualties, unable to recover from the constant fire without further heavy support.

We thus surrendered and awarded victory to the capitalist defenders ;)

The reason for our failure was to commit the third infantry group into the attack on the flank while the center was already losing the firefight. If we had just pushed on to the table edge, we might have been able to draw away more British troops, disperse their units more and move the infantry off table under the cover of our vehicles.

Bad call  - but a very nice game, showing that the system works in other settings just like intended, although with quite a different feeling to it. Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures for this battle. At least I remembered to take pics of the second scenario which will be covered another time!


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Random Mix

A quick overview over the results of last weeks work. A very random mix as I just worked on what I liked most.

First: Tanks in various stages of production.  The foremost T55 is the most advanced stage, the others are lagging several steps behind. 

The T55 are pimped in support of my East Germans, now finally getting prepared for some Cold War Hot action.   Again, still WIP and missing the essential highlights, so they´re looking rather dull right now. Add the wrong camera focus and you get a less then impressive pic:

On the sculpting front, I took the time to base the recent productions  - two Bundeswehr Riflemen and a US M249 gunner. 

Also working on a US Team leader to get the second fireteam finished before I send in the next lot.

For those of you who haven´t noticed:  I also put the figures from the last batch (SAS, Insurgents, US & Taliban) online, anybody who wants to grab them can do so - they´re just missing pretty pictures as my time to paint them up is a bit limited and when I do paint my focus is elsewhere at the moment.

That´s it for now... work is holding me back, but unfortunately I can´t eat miniatures ;)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Code Red - Dev Diary 7: Fire Support

As you can see, the title of todays entry has been changed, as we´re proud to announce the current working title for our modern ruleset. 

Air Strike -  Image source: Reuters/Goran Tomasevic

Before we move on to the main aspect of this dev diary, I want to clarify a few points about reactions tests thatt have been pointed out to me.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

More Russkies

The next two guys, a Riflemen on the right almost finished by now, and the RPG-29 gunner on the left still heavily WIP.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Back at work

Due to being back in the job since the beginning of the week I haven´t been able to get a lot of stuff done. I suspect my rate of production will slow down throughout the next few days.

Meanwhile, there is some stuff I can present, though not much:

After sculpting 7 Russians throughout the last two weeks, I needed a little break and shuffled a German soldier into my schedule. Aiming to produce a few more Riflemen and possibly some more Support-Weapons later on

Of course, I still have to finish all the Russians that were crowd-funded, with 7 ready I now got another 7 to go. So here´s number 8 in a very advanced WIP-stage.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Code Red - Dev Diary 6: Close Assault & Casualties

Back again with another Dev Diary for our modern ruleset.

This time it´s all about getting close up and gritty. We´re going to cover Close Assaults and Casualties.

The prerequisite elements (find, fix) have been covered already, so it´s time to show you how to defeat the pinned opponent once and for all... using close combat.

Close Combat in FoF was a protracted affair, with each side rolling attacks and defenses back and forth until one side broke or found itself annihilated.
While there was nothing wrong with the procedure nor the outcome, I felt that I´d have to rework it to generate a level of cohesion with the rest of the rules. As stated in earlier Dev Diaries, keeping the FoF-Mechanic of attacks and defense when it was not used anywhere else anymore didnt seem like the most straightforward solution. So I dropped it and redesigned it.

The development of the mechanism itself was one of those ideas that just appear in front of you without any thinking or planning. Sort of the "why don´t we do it that way"-moments that simply work out.

But before we get to the core, we´ll again cover what we wanted Close Assaults to be:
  • Bloody.  The close fight should be the real killer, while the firefight has relatively low casualty rates, the close engagements firing bursts at point blank range, using knives, bajonets, buttstocks and grenades should be very very quick and bloody. 
  • Defensive Fire - should play a role, as troops that are not properly suppressed have a decent chance of defeating the assault before it reaches their position.
  • Morale effects - should also play a role, as troops that are suppressed are certainly less steady and aggressive than units that are fresh and calm. 
As it happened, the solution was very simple. Taking away the cover roll during close combat produced some very brutal combat results, while the morale effects would be considered while rolling for successes in the first place. The only changes were the dice contribution and to make combat occur simultaneous. Both attacker and defender roll at the same time once close combat has been reached.

Defensive fire can be mounted by troops that are still able to fire, an assault would be canceled once the attacker received a morale chit during the defensive fire. Troops take a reaction test to see if the defenders are quick enough to mount effective counterfire on the assaulters, while the attacker get a penalty to their reaction test the more distance he has to cover to the target.

A small example:

A Soviet PKM-team has been pinned down by a a British Squad using the gun group to put fire on it while the rifle group maneuvered in. The British Rifle group (6 men still standing after first contact) now mount a close assault on 8" distance. 
Being pinned, the PKM-team can still fire with a penalty, so they take a reaction test with the British Rifle group. The PKM-team rolls a 5, the British a 10 which means the British advance fast enough (despite all the negative modifiers) to reach the enemy position before effective fire is mounted. 

Close Combat then commences, the British have 6 dice at their disposal for 6 men in combat, the Russians have 2 dice for 2 men in their team and are pinned, which penalises their roll.
Both now roll their dice and count their successes, the enemy doesn´t get a cover or defense roll at all. Unsurprisingly the British roll enough successes (two) to defeat the Russian team. 
The Soviets meanwhile roll a 1 and a 7, which means they score one success after all modifiers and cause a british casualty. The British take a morale test for their casualty and roll a success, so no adverse effect for now. 
After having conquered the position, they check their casualty and find him dead.

Which brings us straight to the next point:  Casualties. These have been surprisingly easy on your troops when playing FoF and always seemed like a minor annoyance to deal with. To make things more realistic, we´ve increased the effects that casualties have on your troops.

Critically wounded soldiers can now succumb to their wounds on the battlefield if they are not tended to by trained medical personell. The medic is now simply there to stop that deterioration and keep your critically wounded personell alive while the combat is still going on.

Light wounds (walking wounded) that still leave the soldiers in the fight are now restricting the movement range of your troops to tactical speed and decrease combat efficiency of your unit slightly, but noticably.

Apart from buffing the wound effects we´re also using different regimes to abstract situations where the seriously wounded would be left behind to be recovered or treated after the battle - situations such as a regular conflict in a Cold War Hot environment, WW2-style situations, etc.

We also introduced a more granular effect of body armor, distinguishing between light armor (Helmets + Kevler Vests or Flakjackets) and full body armor with heavy plate carrier vests. This should allow you to depict different equipment styles throughout different periods, conflicts or factions.

We hope to introduce more options while limiting the depiction of unneccessary detail to distinguish the different features of wars and conflicts.

I think that´s it for today, more stuff coming in next week, when we´re talking about Fire Support!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

New SAS Painted

EDIT Nov. 08:  Available now in the shop, proper release announcement will follow when the other sets are painted up, meanwhile they´ll already be available to my regular blog visitors ;) 

Just a quick shot of my painted SAS.

Not entirely happy with the DPM, but acceptable I think.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Upcoming Enfilade Figures - Preview

EDIT Nov. 08:  These are available now in the shop, though only with these preview-pics for most of the sets as I didn´t (and won´t) have any time to paint them all up properly. US Infantry will get a second fireteam + squadleader, so this set is a preliminary release and will be expanded into a full squad with the next batch of casts.


Getting home today I found a nice little package in my letterbox...  New casts!

So after basing and giving them a little pre-shading with black and grey primer, here we are with a small preview:

US Infantry in IOTV

SAS with SLR

Taliban Small Cell with Leader

Eastern European Insurgents with AK.

An together with those last four, Babai and his Crew will also be released as a second pack. I got no photos of him as he´s already half-painted, but here´s an old pic to refresh your memory:

All the new figures are slightly larger than the previous minis I made, as I got several comments on their size being a little bit smaller than other 20mm minis. So these should be a better fit!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Hunting Abu al Kabris - A mini-Batrep

Last saturday we had another demo-battle for our new modern warfare rules, so I´m giving you a very very condensed version of the events that transpired.

I brought to lists, pitching USMC with Cobra Air Support against a mixed bag of Insurgents, featuring Hardcore Foreign Fighters (the best of the best), regular Taliban and a small group of Local Militia hired to support the hardened troops.

The task at hand was to hunt down and kill Abu al Kabris, a high ranking leader in the Insurgent hierarchy who was believed to have a safehouse in a small industrial complex in the mountains.

The Target: Abu al Kabris

The Battleground
The Insurgents started the game by rolling an extraordinary success on their command roll, which enabled them to move the HVT into the central industrial complex closer to their troops. Even after doing that they had enough activations left to bring their troops into position and cover the road.

The USMC moved in slowly, covered the hills on the north-eastern part of the battlefield which overlooked a good part of the map.

Soon, a firefight erupted on the eastern flank as US Marines moved in, surprising the PKM-Team that where in an exposed position without cover.
The American killed three of four Taliban, the return fire caused a single casualty on the American side who turned out to be lightly wounded.

After seeing three of his mates go down the PKM-gunner decided to retreat into the nearby bushes but got shot during his retreat and didn´t get up again...

The nearby RPG-Team then unleashed a volley, scored a direct hit on an American Fireteam and caused two more casualties, one of which was a serious wound.

The US answer was swift, a fireteam unleashed hell on the RPG-team, the Forward Air Controller called in support from the Cobra Helicopter and though the request was successful, the strike would be delayed due to the RoE and Clearing procedures, giving the Taliban enough time to evacuate the position.

However, the infantry fire did kill most of the cell before the Taliban moved away.

The Taliban then consolidated their groups on the eastern flank and moved towards the buildings to avoid (or at least delay) further Airstrikes, leaving the left US flank relatively open.

Instead, they focussed on defending the western flank and tried to call in more reinforcements, who arrived in the form of two small cells in the back area of the US. One of those was quickly spotted and dispatched before they could mount a devastating rear attack from their ambush position, but the other team appearing out of a compound forced the US Marine players to divert a full Fireteam to guard the exit of the compound.

The game was finally decided when the US Marines tried to push on the right flank and ran into very determined resistance from a Syrian LMG-Team and an Afghan RPG-Team of Hardcore Taliban. Though the US where able to deal with the Afghan Team and initially pinned down the Syrians, they soon found themselves under a barrage of RPK-fire.

The Syrian LMG Team - the Game Changer

The final, incredibly lucky series of rolls was the US attacking the Syrian LMG team, firing first with four firepower successes. All four where saved by the Syrians, who counter-attacked with 5 Firepower dice, rolling ALL successes and had the US blundering by failing ALL 5 saving rolls against a 4+  

Three KIA where the result, bringing the Taliban up the Taliban victory score close to auto-win. They now needed to roll a 2+ to win the game (trying once each turn) and thus we had a Taliban victory, as the US where far from killing the HVT.

Decisive Taliban Victory!

Everyone had great fun and loved the game, so I´m looking forward to playing some more demo-games, we seem to be on the right track. Some small balancing tweaks and finishing the writeup on the basic rules and we can enter the public playtesting stage!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Code Red - Dev Diary 5: Dice, Cover and Conceilment

Today we´re talking about dice.


Those of you who played Force on Force will remember the multitude of dice used to display different quality levels. The charm about that solution is that you can set a flat target number (like 4+) as a success threshold and don´t bother about modifiers for different troop quality levels or profiles with differing success numbers.

A problem I encountered after inserting my saving roll into the infantry firefight was that I suddenly had two thresholds for successes - 5+ for saves on a D10 (always a D10, no matter the troop quality)  and 4+ on Troop quality dice on all other aspects.

You can probably see the problems that created - suddenly it was no longer clear which dice you should use, you had two different target numbers and no coherent ruling.

I also found that people mistook the different dies (especially D8 and D10) and grabbed the wrong ones, a problem not uncommon with players new to Force on Force.

So one day I wondered if it was worth sticking to the dice and principles inherited from FoF and came to the conclusion that I could simply switch to a single die type: my beloved D10.