Monday, March 31, 2014

Fighting Falcons

Good evening,

after a long way home I used the last light of day to paint up some more airplanes, hoping to finish something to match the Su-27ers my friend produced lately. I do have F-18s at the ready, but these are navy fighters and not suitable for every scenario. As I knew I still had some F-16s around, I decided to finish those to put something the other aviation branches could throw against the russian planes.

Remember these are 1/600

I spotted the camouflage scheme on the wikipedia page on the F-16 and immediately thought it would be a nice and distinct painting. Probably most suitable for desert environments, these can be used for anything Middle Eastern (probably proxy as Israeli F-16s as well) and more arid regions of east asia as well.

Everything you see on them is painted, no decals no nothing. The color patterns are not 100% accurate and probably slightly to accurate, but I didn´t have that much time today to experiment around until everything was right. Good enough for now :)

In addition to the airplanes, I was able to finish another Fireteam + 2 Support Groups of US Marines, but these are reserved for a later entry as I still have to take suitable photos of these guys.

I also noticed that my tin mountain has shrunk considerably since I last checked:

To-Do box for Rifles and Muskets... running low on supplies O_O

I still have more plastic insurgents, but I have grown to dislike the plastic figures as the colors behave differently than I´m used to and they´re just a pain to paint. As you can see, there are some more jets left, another two USMC Fireteams, some Insurgents and a few civies. That´s about all that´s left from my stack of stuff for this blog.

However, there´s the entire French Navy in 1/6000 waiting to be painted AND I have figures arriving from the casting service, hopefully within next month. I have to paint samples for the website, the french ships AND all of the above.

So, my nascent plans to order another set of jets to keep me busy has been immediately canceled, as I will have enough to paint for the next months, even with good weather and sunshine on the balcony forcing me to paint more often. :)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Another Brick in the Wall

I´ve been renovating today.
For quite some time I´ve been annoyed by the looks of the walls and today they received a fresh painting. Or at least I started painting them, there are several sections still waiting for completion.

This is the result of my painting session on the balcony today:

New Walls. Of course I failed at putting them together for the picture, posing the worst side right to the front, but I don´t care right now ;)

Because - this is how it looked BEFORE:

Quite a bit more ugly. Now, it´s much better:

More to renovation to follow, I´ll be doing the next few section in a slightly more yellowish coloring.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

How small is too small?

Hey folks,

I´m still sick, but finally feeling well enough to sculpt some more stuff. I hope the coughing doesn´t get worse as this would pretty much prevent any work on the figures.

I´ve become upset with the size of my chinese sculpts yesterday after putting them next to an Elhiem Marine. The difference is quite large and though I could argue that people of asian original are generally smaller than european descendents, I´m not quite sure if it´s within the acceptable limits. So here´s some more pictures for you to make up your mind and give me an opinion of how bad things are - still useable as a 20mm figure or rather not?

They look good standing next to each other...

...but they seem small next to an Elhiem US Marine
How bad is it?

The standing Chinese officer (not on the pics here) measures just 22mm, assuming a 1/72 scale he is just 1,58m tall. The other guys appear smaller due to their poses.

Some more offenders, another speed built of mine (which I will use for myself as I need some more Special Forces on my table) are Undercover Special Forces subject to the same issue:

Looking good on their own...

... but slightly too small next to other 20mm fellows.

Soo, lesson learned: Scale creep does not only occur upward, but sometimes there´s a downward pressure. I´ll be comparing my next figures more thoroughly to examples from other manufacturers to make sure their size fits. And I might have to re-do most of the Chinese for commercial release...

Thursday, March 20, 2014

It´s f*cking China, man!

Remember those? 

I´m surprised no-one participated with any guesses on the blog, but whew, life is hard. You probably new I´d give in sooner or later and post the pics anyway. 

Now things should be easier, with a big title as a hint and a clearly visible QBZ-95 rifle...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Jungle Camp

Hey guys,

this is the report of our battle from last saturday using the latest version of my houserules set for Force on Force (which makes the barebone-FoF hardly recognizeable anymore). If you want to know more, hit the "Houserules" label on the right ledger or down below the post.

The scenario pits the Presidential Guard of the National Army of Malongo - the armed forces of our fictional african state - against a group of hardcore jihadists operating in the remote southern parts of the country. The NAM is planning a raid against a recently discovered camp in the jungle and moves in with two Squads of Infantry, a Command Squad and a T55 backed up by indirect fire-support after sealing off the area. The Jihadists have long been aware of the rattling tank closing in and are preparing a last-ditch ambush.

NAM Setup-Zone on the near side of the table, Jihadists deploy anywhere on the map

The objective for NAM was to push through the Insurgents defences and clear the compound (symbolized by the ruins in the picture above) and disable two weapon caches. Bonus points would be awarded for clearing out hotspots.

The Jihadists could earn points by destroying the tank, killing leaders or the FO and by reducing the strength of the NAM forces. They would get variable reinforcements, starting with an Insurgency Level of 1 - meaning in the first turn new reinforcements would turn up on a roll of 1 on a D6, as the Jihadist need to roll equal or lower than their Insurgency Level.  Every turn without reinforcements would increase this level by 1, every turn with reinforcements would decrease it again. Game length was not fixed, but delaying is a valid tactic for the Insurgents as they get more reinforcements in the long run.

The Presidents Guards are TQ8, Morale D10,  the Jihadists are a mixed bunch of TQ D8 Morale D12 hardcore fighters and TQ D6 Morale D10 local recruits. All reinforcements are locals.

 We had been testing the scenario on a smaller board the day before, with me playing the Jihadists and my friend commanding the NAM. After a fierce and nail-biting fight I won by a very small margin after killing off half of the forces. With that experience in mind, we switched sides, adopted some co-commanders from the club and went straight into battle.

 Before starting, here´s a short summary of the scenario stuff:

National Army of Malongo

Initiative Level: D8
Troop Quality: D8
Morale: D10

-2x Infantry Squad composed of:
  •  1x Rifleteam (6 Rifleman + Squadlead) 
  •  1x Gun Team (1x MMG (Med. Supp.) + 2x Riflemen); Weapon Team!
-1 Command Squad:
  • CO, FO + 4x Rifleman
-1x T55A

-Medium Mortars on Call

  • Destroy the Weapon Caches (Hotspots 1 + 2): 5 Points per Cache
  • Clear the Area: 1 Point per Hotspot


Initiative Level: D6
Troop Quality: D8 / D6 (mixed)
Morale: D12 / D10 (mixed)

4x Jihadist Cell:  5x Rifleman (D8/D12)
 - 2x commanded by an additional Leader, 2x uncommanded

3x RPG Team (D6/D10)

2x DshK-Team (D6/D10; Weapon Team)

2x Leader for free arrangement on the battlefield (attach to any group)

  • Destroy the enemy tank: 5pts
  • Kill the enemy Commanding Officer: 3pts
  • Kill enemy NCOs: 2pts per NCO
  • Bleed them out! -  1 pt. per full 10% loss of manpower for NAM.

The game started with an Insurgent ambush from the hills alongside the road. The rocky terrain and the conceiled position provided excellent cover for the first minutes of the firefight. Opening fire on the surprised NAM, the Mujahideen hit one african soldier and caused a casualty. Morale held firm though and soon the ambushers where pinned and suppressed by a hail of well aimed bullets flying their way, suffering their first casualty.

Immediately after the ambush mortar support was called in on the hills and the two groups of Insurgents where hit with devastating results. The larger group reduced to half their strength with their leader as casualty, the RPG-team completely gone to the ground.

With confusion among the Insurgents due to the confusion about the loss of their leader, NAM was quickly able to assert initiative for the next turn. The NAM casualty was checked and found to be lightly wounded, while all but one insurgents (the RPG gunner) were dead or seriously wounded and thus effectively out of action.

With the tank on overwatch, the FO called in more mortar fire - smoke shells this time - to cover the advance of the rifle team towards the hill.

 Furthermore, the PKM teams were relocated to set up a base of fire for the coming assault on the hill.

The plan was delayed slightly when the Insurgents moved their second nearby group around the cover of smoke to hit the african guard troops in the open during their advance. Fortunately, their training kicked in and with good and proper reaction the surprise attack was answered by effective fire, pinning the Mujahideen down behind the brushes and causing some casualties.
The already wounded NAM-soldier was hit again, this time fatally.

On the hill, the surviving RPG gunner tried to get back up on his feet to engage the tank with his rocket launcher, but was quickly pinned down by the superior crew who spotted him while he was still busy praising allah instead of just shooting already.

Next turn, the Jihadists asserted initiative but failed to use the lull in the fight to their advantage. Placing their hardcore fighters on overwatch without finally intervening anywhere, NAM was still free to carry on with the original plan.

Under the cover of their tank and the machine gun group, th NAM squadleader ordered his rifle group to assault the hill, which resulted in them killing the pinned RPG gunner in close combat, while their MG team shifted fire and neutralized the remaining lone mujahideen with aimed bursts and some lucky shots. A well placed tank round had previously annihilated the last of the mujahideen group that had popped up behind the smoke previously.

Left flank secured
Suddenly, the battlefield was almost empty on the left flank, some hot spots between the NAM troops and the river, but almost no troops on this side of the stream. But things where about to change, as more reinforcements arrived.

The almighty hand of Allah summons more reinforcements

While the Insurgents had to reorganise the defense of their left flank, NAM redeployed their troops. Under the cover of the T55 and a rifle team, the machine gun group was moved forward and set up a new position. The Insurgents tried to launch another surprise attack on the moving gun group, but unfortunately their PKM was already set up and the insurgents ran into a devastating hail of bullets...

Never run into machinegun fire...

Surprisingly, the morale of these ferocious fighters held despite losing almost half their manpower. Meanwhile, NAM had been redeploying troops from the right flank - where a wide open field prevented any serious attempts to move forward without risking a shitload of casualties.

Under the cover of smoke from the mortar, the rifle team redeployed across the road, ready to clear the jungle:

Following more mortar fire on the left flank to pin and suppress the Jihadists fighting positions, the rifle squad went into the woods to root out the enemy positions and stumbled upon another RPG team:

Again the guard soldiers had the RPG team pinned down and suppressed for good. With fixed bayonets they headed on to assault the Jihadists main defenses around Hotspot 3:

After this conquest the position was consolidated by killing of the remaining suppressed survivors in the area before redeploying more troops foward. The next obstacle was a lone group of reinforcements (locals) that where stuck without a leader. After some failed attempts to coordinate a good river crossing to aid their brethren in the fight, they had bogged down on the far side of the stream to set up an ambush for the oncoming troops as the firefight had died down.

Using proper Fire and Maneuver tactics, the NAM elite crossed the river without any serious losses or impediment, pushing forward into the thinly defended left flank. The mortar was called in again by the squadleader to destroy the improperly led insurgent group by the river. Small arms fire and a relentless advance did the rest and soon the objective was in sight:

With NAM moving ever closer towards the objective, the Insurgents had to intervene on the right flank, hoping to catch the african command squad on the move to a better position. Heavily overwatched, opening fire at that point was not the best timing, but being hard pushed on the left the Jihadists where running out of choices.

White markers are for hidden troops at that stage of the game

Fortunately, the commander was quick enough to move behind the cover of his tank before the bullets struck home.  The DShK was silenced by the return fire from the overwatching tank that drove the crew into the cover of their position and pinned them down.

On the left flank by the compound, the NAM elite stirred up another DShK-nest which fortunately used spray-and-pray fire without much effect. The presidential guard responded by calling in mortar fire. As the shells rained down, two crew members manning the DShK were riddled by shrapnels.

Meanwhile the command squad took a new position on a small hill in the jungle, overwatching the entire battlefield across the stream.This of course exposed him to all enemy fire on the board and soon the command squad was under a heavy barrage that could barely be kept in check by the overwatch units. As a result, a guardsman was hit, becoming a walking wounded casualty.

On the left, more mortar and machinegun fire was placed into the compound to soften the occupants up for the final assault, while the assault team was already moving into position under the cover of smoke:

The resulting close fight was a foregone conclusion as superior troops overwhelmed the suppressed local rabble and wiped them out.

Clearing the ruins

We called it a game at that point and awarded victory to NAM, as the Jihadists where in very bad shape, down to one commander and unable to coordinate any serious resistance. Their initial ambush had failed and NAM dominated the fight from that point on, with few interruptions by some desperate measures of the insurgents.

Of course, it was also a matter of luck. My friend and Jihadist leader demonstrated his impression of the die rolls in this small arrangement:

While it is true that some lucky die rolls where on our side (especially my co-player and squadleader Sebastian excelled in that regard) we used every advantage we could get while the Insurgents where inhibited in some aspects.

In our test game the day before, I was able to wipe out half of NAMs troops including some leaders with the same starting troops and dealt them a serious blow, even if I did not crack the tank. This time, NAM suffered a total of 2 or 3 dead and seriously wounded casualties, which is barely 10% of the force.

In my opinion, the Jihadists did not launch a proper and well concentrated ambush on NAM. They spread out their troops too much, using only a small contingent to launch their initial surprise attack and had to throw reinforcements in to stop the gap that quickly opened when the counterattack was mounted. NAM used all assets right from the start and concentrated their force on the spot where they could mount an effective attack, ignoring the trap that was laid on the right flank. After the early loss of one of their leaders, the Insurgents where less able to mount an effective defense, as their ability to coordinate their troops and proactively pick their fight decreased. Lastly, they had pure bad luck in regards to reinforcements. No skilled leadership came onto the table for quite some time, leaving a hard felt gap in the Jihadist chain of command.

All in all it was a lovely game, and everyone who had played standard Force on Force earlier agreed how it was so much better and more realistic, even though sligthly longer. We´ll be testing the houserules further, trying different scenarios to assert that they work.

If you´re interested in participating, write a comment and I´ll give you my contact details.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Stryker Reworked

After using him for over a year in a half-finished painting scheme, barely enough to be playable, I decided to give my Stryker ICV an overhaul and repainted it. It received a nice new wash with highlighting and some dust on the wheels, proper lights on front and back...

Alone as above, and with Infantry dismounted in support, as below!
It´s not a perfect job, rather quick and easy, but the result is much better than the previous half-finished look.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Su-27 Dogfight

After my friend had painted two awesome Su-27 in camo scheme, we decided to do a small testgame of Check Your Six Jet Age after we didn´t have the time to play a demo game in our club last saturday.

To demonstrate the game mechanisms, I put the two Su-27 on the board, equal height, equal speed but with a difference in Pilot Skill: I took the Skilled (+1) Pilot, having played two games of CY6:JA before and gave my friend the veteran pilot (+2) to show the impact of the different skill levels

The game started with a BVR missile fight, my friends veteran pilot achieved a lock on & fire result and fired off his first AA-10 immediately, while I was barely able to get a lock on. His missile streaked by, unable to hit my plane due to the difficulty to hit the front angle.

While closing in on each other, I went into a dive to make the lock-on harder with all the ground clutter below me, while me friend climbed up into the sky, trying to build up more energy before going into the dogfight.

Next turn, my locked on AA-10 had a malfunction while the veteran pilot failed to achieve a lock on at all. So we closed in on each other without scoring any missile hits.

After two more missiles that all failed their target, we where in gun range and went close up into the dogfight. Anticipating that my friend would try to push down on me, I started to climb and overshot him two or three altitude levels above him, which meant that he could not shoot on my due to the extreme angle.

My plane in the foreground

Following that maneuver, I turned into a Split-S while adjusting slightly to the left, while my friend executed a steep immelmann, coming up way above me with almost no speed left. I turned right to get into his rear, he turned right to avoid that and get his sights on me, and while I climbed he power-dived into the following head-on gun run:

Head to head on the same altitude level...  my plane on the right

Both pilots fired their main guns.
I needed a 9+ to hit (6+ base on the given range, roll modified by -1 pilot skill difference and -2 head to head or deflection shot), my friends veteran needed a 7+
He rolled a seven, I rolled poorly. With the long range heavy cannon bullets ripping through my plane, I suffered airframe damage.

Though not immediately destroyed, I was now unable to execute extreme turns or special maneuvers without risking the plane to break apart - with more than a 50-50 chance of immediate destruction, I tried to break away left and into a climb, but of course the veteran pilot was able to reverse his course by a special maneuver (power Split-s) and ended up in my rear.

Beep Beep Beep - Missile Warning!

Not much I could do, the game was basically over the moment he hit me with his cannon fire. Fortunately, the missile was a proper proximity hit, ripping the plane apart and ending the misery of hopelessly trying to escape a veteran pilot...


And that was it. The simulator screen turned black and both russian pilots got out of the cockpit to drink some vodka together ;)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Khardala Road Ambush - Part 2

Hey folks,

I´ve been busy playing and painting with my best friend the last few days, so the Khardala Road Ambush got postponed slightly. Here it is, to show you the flow of the new iteration of houserules. After two more games, I can proudly claim that they work almost flawlessly. It needs less tweaking than I thought and I´m very surprised how fun it was to play the last three scenarios since the upgrade of the command & control system.

I´ll post a seperate report later, let me first finish the Khardala Road Ambush to show you how realistic tactics are rewarded and how important Command and Control has become.

We ended last part with the following situation:
Taliban had ambushed a convoi of Americans, one team got pinned with a casualty, while the other team tried to move into a covered position nearby.

We actually decided to adapt the pinning rules back to a fallback option - so pinned units would fall back into nearby cover and stay there until unpinned. Units that already are in cover stay in cover and cannot move anymore - we are assuming that any leader would rather risk to bring to troop into nearby solid cover than being shred to pieces in the open in the long term.

Americans Moving into cover

On the start of turn two, the American player decided to spend a dice to un-pin his pinned unit. 
Unfortunately, the unit checked their casualty later on and was re-pinned automatically, as the soldier was seriously wounded. Being pinned, they fell back into the ditch (which they should have done previously).

Meanwhile the Taliban tried to hit the other team with concentrated MG fire (having un-pinned their PKM at the beginning of the turn), but caused no casualty and only pin results, but losing the entire PKM team as casualties - including the leader.
The other RPG teams opened fire on the Stryker but was pinned by preemptive reaction fire before causing any further damage.

In addition, the Taliban moved their four man rifleteam towards their hotspot to get a line of fire with the American squad in the orchard.

I´m pretty sure I missed a turn with my photos, the PKM team got shot to pieces meanwhile and both the leader and the gunner died, leaving the talibs short on command dice.
This enabled the US to gain initiative in the following turn. With the stryker on overwatch, they pulled their team out of the orchard:

Of course my feeble attempts to interrupt where met with organized fire and caused more pins:

Then, reinforcements turned up in the US rear in the compound by the road:

Unfortunately, having no leader and being well out of range of any other commander, I could not employ them properly without sacrificing a shitload of initiative dice to activating them by radio.
So the end result was that they hunkered down, surprised by the US forces that had taken the initiative by now and where seizing the compound:

So they where pinned and suppressed in the little orchard by the compound, faced with a superior enemy in close contact and without much hope to gain the upper hand any time soon.

On the other flank, the RPG teams tried to move in and hit the stryker, but failed to penetrate the vehicle again and gain for the lack of proper AT munitions.

More Reinforcements arrive at the dreaded Hotspot 2, again without any leader to command them. The Stryker and the infantry had meanwhile pulled back using bounding overwatch to cover one another. My last attempt to move another reinforcement group into the ditch to shoot at the Stryker ended in a barrage of HMG fire effectively suppressing the Taliban.

With the US troops withdrawn into a safe zone close the their board edge and almost all Taliban in LOS pinned or suppressed, we decided to award victory to the Americans for escaping the ambush with only a single seriously wounded, who was transported to the board edge without bleeding out and escorted back to base by Medevac from a safe zone.

A few very small tweaks followed after this test of mechanics, but overall it was a resounding success - the system works, and the two games we played as a follow-up with more troops reinforced that impression. I have to test more scenarios to determine if things are fine for other combinations of TQ, like regular vs. regular engagements or Urban mob irregulars, or special forces scenarios with higher TQ difference.

So there´s still some work involved, but the first tests have left me confident.