My Clubhouse is planning a trip to Miniwargaming down in Welland, Ontario! For those of you who don’t know, its a major YouTube Battle Report channel that does a load of 40k and Age of Sigmar content, as well as a few other games.
One of my good friends, Kyle, is a regular on their show, and he managed to get us all excited about going again(we had been once, in December 2019), and we are planning on staying into the weekend. I have been there twice, and have two 8th Edition 40k Battle Reports filmed. They have loads of amenities at the Bunker, and while our Clubhouse is great, the sheer selection of tables and terrain available is fantastic. We are staying on-site, in their crazy 40k and AOS themed rooms. All in all, colour me very excited.
But what to play? Originally, I was just going to bring my 40k stuff. But Kyle told me that Luka, one of the Battle Report hosts, really wants to play Middle Earth. This was possibly the best thing I could have heard! My local group is great, but Middle Earth hasn’t taken off like the other GW stablemates at my Club. Actually getting to play, let alone for YouTube or their Vault, is big.
I’m dusting off my Iron Hills Dwarves collection that is mostly complete, but my goal for the next month or so before November is to get them fully complete, as well as a 700 Point Minas Tirith list done as well. I’ll be bringing a Fellowship just in case we have time to do a scenario, specifically the Ambush at Amon Hen.
I also need to practice playing the game, and luckily I have one friend who plays, and another willing to learn to help me “drill” the system before I go and play it live. The Middle Earth System is absolutely bananas with rules, so it’ll be worth it.
Luka is probably bringing Isengard; this will be a heavy hitting army supported potentially by one of the best spellcasters around. Pikes, Crossbows, and Shamans will make them a tough nut to crack. Luckily, my Iron Hills army is considered by many to be an insanely strong army.
Mind you, it’ll be commanded by me, an utter pillock, so it should remain balanced.
So lets take inventory of what I potentially need to paint:
12 Iron Hills Warriors with Spear/Shield-I may not need to since I have 24 done already…
The Fellowship at Amon Hen-I have specific models for this, but I’ll have to wait and see what Luka says we’ll have time for. I already have the Hobbits done!
8 Knights of Minas Tirith, one with a Banner-This is if I take a Minas Tirith list for a second Matched Play game.
12 Warriors of Minas Tirith, assorted weapons-Again, this is if I bring my second army.
12 Rangers of Gondor, with Bows-Same as above, to be led by…
Faramir, Captain of Ithilien-Oh yeah, its time for Boromir and Faramir to do a double feature! painting the silver tree on his chest should prove fun….
8 Citadel Guardsmen-Led by Irolas, this warband will be a tough infantry choice if I need it.
Captain of Minas Tirith, Hornblower and Banner Bearer-To potentially lead my Warriors, if i don’t bring…
Ingold, Captain of the Rammas Echor-What I’ll probably lead those Warriors with, if I’m frank.
So, as they say….
I’ll be posting work in progress content over the next few weeks, as I feverishly try to get everything done. I’m quite excited though, and this does give me a lot of energy to as they say in my neck of the woods, “Git er dun”.
Now a lot of this is still up in the air; If Luka becomes unavailable, chances are I will pivot to a 40k Battle Report. Which will still be fun! But not, maybe, as fun as this could be!
But, time typing is time not painting. So, Happy War-gaming wherever you are, and I’ll catch you in the next one!
It’s been a long road on my VBCW journey. It has been slow but steady progress since the Lockdowns of last year started this “little” project. I still have some more to paint, but I’ve hit a watershed moment; I have more painted then unpainted models in the collection!
I started on some Territorial Army infantry earlier this week, and decided to try something I don’t usually do; batch painting! I hate doing it, and honestly I got pretty burnt out by the end of it, despite it only being 21 models. But after I got them mostly done today(the base rims need to be done!) I decided a parade was in order, to see what I got.
I was pleasantly surprised! The collection looks great massed on my spare table. I still need to build a sleepy English village to fight over, but I have many more models then I really need to play!
First up, lets look at the models I got done this week!
Next up, I did another Officer. I’m swimming in these, as I got both the Battalion command and regular, company level officers. I forget which pack this Officer belonged to, but he has a yet another great Woodbine Design pose!
Finally, I laid out all my painted models on my spare table! Lets see how the platoon(s) looks like all together!
I also decided to bring out the BUF, and line them up as well. Unsavory allies they may be, but for now they are all fighting together.
And finally, a complete army shot! It’s been a year of work to get this far.
All in all, I’m really chuffed with this whole force. I have some more to paint, namely a section of Territorials and the Grenadier’s second section and support elements. The addition of a Boy’s Anti-Tank rifle or two will not be amiss either…
Now that the UK is allowing travel from Canada again, I’m considering flying out to an event in the UK. I just need to wait and see if the Delta Variant doesn’t lock down either country again, and in any event I’d have to save up, and talk to the community to see if someone can’t show me around.
Either way, I have more then enough to play games, and to make a good showing in a larger game as well!
But that is all(!?) I have for today. I hope you enjoyed this project progress, and I’ll see you in the next one! Happy War-gaming wherever you are, and God Save the King!
Ah yes! A Part Two. I actually got some progress on the 40k Gallipoli project. On Monday I recieved my Victoria Miniatures order. First up was the Tallarn, which I assembled a couple days ago.
But alongside the noble Desert Raiders, was three and a half squads of “Van Diemens World Devil’s”, Victoria Miniatures love letter to their homeland. Australian as all get out, with all the fixings. Slouch hats, big knifes, and big bush packs for carrying all that gear. As is, they make excellent jungle troops, a perfect alternative to Catachan Jungle Fighters if one wanted a less Vietnam and more Kokoda Track feel.
But, as I stated in the outline for this project, these men would become Roane Deepers. If you are reading this first and haven’t read the outline, the Roane Deepers are from Dan Abnett’s Gaunt’s Ghosts series, a side-regiment known for lax discipline and a carefree attitude, but hard as nails on the defense and dogged on the attack. Mr. Abnett has described the Roane as influenced from the ANZAC’s of WW1 and WW2, and it was from here that I took a different route then some others. Many had done the Roane as a Western Front WW1 army, complete with Brodie Helmets. This is brilliant, and I’m standing on the shoulders of giants. But I decided on an altogether different angle…the debacle that was the Gallipoli Landings.
What that meant was no Brodies for starters, as I wanted Aussie “Slouch” Hats(Kiwis, don’t be offended. I’m looking for Lemon Squeezers and I asked Victoria Miniatures if they had any plans to do any!), and stripped down equipment. I would use GW Lasguns to give them a 40k feel, and paint their tucked in fatigues as blue undershirts, which are so common in depictions of Gallipoli.
But first, to assemble them. Lets see how that looked.
First things first, I forgot to mention it the other day. Man, has Victoria Miniatures resin improved over the years. This stuff was absolute gold to work with. Any flash cleaned off really easily. There were a few mold lines/slips, but I missed a lot of those sadly until I saw them during painting. It is what it is, and minor enough to be forgiven here.
Unlike the Desert Scorpions, I had better luck giving these Roane Deepers their lasguns. It took a little finesse, but I got them looking mostly like they belong.
Now, I was on a bit of a roll, so I decided to toss some paint on them. Why these guys and not the Tallarn? Simple! I had English Uniform spray, and didn’t have a Tan spray. The Tallarn will wait till I have paint. In the meantime, the Roane will play!
I’m not the best painter, and I take a few shortcuts, the main one being that I prime the models the colour that they will have the most of. In this case, the brown fatigues.
The shirts I decided would be a light blue, which is excellent for contrast here. They certainly will pop on the battlefield!
Lets see how I cracked on!
With the Guardsmen out of the way, lets take a peek at the Officer and Standard Bearer! There were a joy to paint, and I really enjoyed the challenge. I kept them simple; A Guardsmen is a Guardsmen, no matter how fancy.
First, the Platoon Commander!
Now the hardest one…the Banner. Oh boy.
I won’t say he was easy, but he was far easier then I thought. Deciding the colours and pattern was the hard part, really.
I was going to make this a game of guessing, but I copied the colours of the Australian Defence Force Ensign. I left out the military crest, but kept the pattern and added a number, in this case, a 9. I feel that it makes for a simple, yet evocative banner.
It was a fun days work! I have some more memory testing tomorrow, so this was a fun project before some not so fun mental gymnastics. These Roane weren’t overly hard to paint, and I can see a squad on them being done pretty quickly.
I have the other 30 left to build, and I need to order 30 more to make a competent list. But at least it has begun, and it is no longer just a project in my head.
I’ve done a lot of research into Gallipoli for this project, and enough so that I might collect a historical army for the period. I might not wargame it(that doesn’t seem like a particularly funpart of the war to fight with dice!), but I feel the itch to get some Gripping Beast metals.
Anyways, that is all I have for today. I hope you like it! Happy War-gaming wherever you are, and have a great day!
Another day, another Regiment of the Imperial Guard. The Tallarn Desert Raiders are a classic Games Workshop regiment, from the distant year of 1994. They are almost as old as I am! They had a really distinct look, equal parts Bedouin tribesmen and British LRDG/SAS.
As a fan of the North Africa campaign of WW2, these guys always called out to me. And over time, GW had began to portray them as distinct Arab in theme, always nice to see in a sea of more European themed regiments, and something that also appealed to me.
Unfortunately their model line is also a product of 1994, being quite dated in appearance. It was a bit of a turn off when I was younger and could have bought them, and while that style appeals to me now, it is far too late to really acquire a full army of them.
Enter Victoria Miniatures. Based out of Adelaide in Australia(although now shipping from the USA), they make a line of “Regiments of the Galaxy’s Finest”, which are clear homages to the GW regiments of old. I’ve purchased from them in the past, as far back as when it was just a small bits shop run from Victoria Lambs own website. I’ve seen them go from Lead to Resin, and from Australia to the USA. My Roane Light Horse are from them, and while I didn’t go with a full army of them in the end, I do have quite a few Victorian Guard from them as well!
Last year, they brought out the Desert Scorpions, an amazing looking regiment with a distinct Tallarn influence. I was lacking funds when they came out, so I missed out on them at release.
When I decided to do my Gallipoli themed Guard Army, I also at the same time purchased 30 Desert Scorpions and 3 Missile Launcher teams to go with them. This had the benefit of leaving 6 men spare, as the missile launcher teams went into the squads. This lets me make Platoon Commanders and a Command Squad as well!
So I set up my station, and got to work.
I spent the better part of a day working at them. I did make the controversial move of using GW weapons; this was intentional, to tie the Desert Scorpions into the Warhammer 40k universe and to give my opponents a clear view of which weapon is which.
After about 6 hours I had some models to show off! I’ll admit, the GW weapons work better on some poses then others, and the Plasma and Melta guns are gigantic, and while they would be equally gigantic on GW bodies, they look even more so here. While I think a good paintjob will tie them in a bit better, I will admit they could look better. And they are very securely glued in, they are not coming out now!
Let’s start with the Sergeants!
The Sergeants turned out really well. I really liked the Bolters they came with, so I kept those. The heads are integral to the bodies, so I took care to pick bodies that would match the pose. My favourite is the Sergeant shielding his eyes from the sun.
Next up is the Vox-Caster operators.
These Guardsmen turned out pretty well! The GW Vox Units and Lasguns are large, but I like how cumbersome they look. The Kantreal Pattern Lasgun really sells them as Imperial Guardsmen, in my opinion at least!
Now for the most controversial models.
These Tallarn Guardsmen carry the squad special weapon. These weapons were scrounged from my bits box, and I do not know the original kit they are from. I did compare them to my Cadians armed with the same weapons, and they look just as big there!
The arms did not want to cooperate with the Plasma guns, and many glued fingers awaited me. The Meltagun oddly fit really well once I removed the stock from the arm, and lined up with the hand well.
Still, more then one person has expressed confusion as to why I picked them. Honestly, it is so my opponent won’t get confused, and and I do actually like the look of these iconic weapons too!
Next up we have the humble Lasman. Let’s see how they look!
These Guardsmen were not particularly hard to put together, outside of some fiddling with the arms to get them to fit. Some fit better then others; while they all look pretty decent from the front, some definitely have some issues viewed from above or the side.
But, as I have said to some critics, I quite like the look of the Kantreal lasgun. I think a solid paint job will make them look right at home!
Now there are an awful lot of them, so I picked out the best to show you.
Now for the real stars of the show! The Missile Launchers are really neat looking, and have a stripped down and portable look about them.
These Heavy Weapons will allow my squads to hurt targets much larger then themselves, as well as giving them a long range frag rocket for softer targets.
These I didn’t mess with too much; they looked really good as is!
All in all, a good days work. Tomorrow I will get the Officers and Command Squad sorted! I did buy a banner pack so I can make a really nice Regimental Standard for these Tallarn to wave. I might start on the Roane Deepers tomorrow as well, but we’ll have to see!
I do intend to run 6 squads of Tallarn Desert Raiders for my list, so I will be ordering quite a few more from Victoria Miniatures on payday. I sold some spare Airsoft gear(which, with my health problems I might have trouble playing…) to help fund that.
The blog upgrade is looming as well. It is a decent chunk of change!
Anyways, I will be continuing progress on the Gallipoli project soon! Look for that in the coming days! Happy Wargaming wherever you are, and مع السلامة!
I’ve been on a Warhammer 40k kick recently, despite all the new drama surrounding the hobby. Having a chance to read the Sabbat War anthology book had given me the inspiration and motivation to work on my Imperial Guard(Astra Militarum, to you new players) forces again, and to play some more rousing games of 9th Edition Crusade. A friend of mine suggested we take two Guard armies against one another, fluffing the 25 Power Level starting games as ‘Military Exercises’ and then opening it up to everyone else once we hit 50 Power Level. An intriguing idea, with one very important caveat; It had to be a custom or lesser known regiment, using the custom regiment rules.
But what regiment could I do? I have a significant amount of Cadian troops that could easily be a custom regiment, but that wouldn’t be as exciting or new. All my other regiments are either big names or used to be, with loads of established lore. It had been many years since I had thought of doing something fresh. I had just sold some Airsoft equipment, and therefore had the funds to acquire something new. But what regiment?
The idea came, oddly enough, by listening to the song “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda” one day. It wasn’t a song I hadn’t heard before, nor was it any special day for it. But my love of Australian and New Zealand military history made me think.
Dan Abnett’s Gaunt’s Ghosts series introduced a regiment, the Roane Deepers, that he went on to say on his blogs were inspired by Anzac troops of both the Great War and the Second World War. They are often thrown into meatgrinder campaigns, used as cannon fodder by uncaring Guard commanders, doing the thankless and inglorious work while other regiments get the credit.
This is often depicted by other hobbyists doing the regiment as Western Front style trench warfare, with the ubiquitous British Brodie helmet and trench coats. And there is certainly nothing wrong with that approach. But the ‘thankless, inglorious work’ reminded me of a different WW1 campaign.
The ill-fated and tragic Gallipoli landings.
There were three main inspirations for this army beyond the battle itself. Firstly, the beautiful and haunting soundtrack from Battlefield 1 for their Gallipoli missions. Secondly, many documentaries covering the campaign in detail. And thirdly, and most of all, the amazing Chunuk Bair diorama and artwork that Weta Workshop, Peter Jackson, and hundreds of painters around New Zealand did a few years back. 5000 figures in all!
So why do this in 40k, as opposed to 28mm Historical gaming? The simple answer is that I will be able to educate people about the battle more readily with a more popular system, and to both get some creative license on how to approach the subject matter…and that the original subject matter might make for incredibly depressing and boring gameplay. That, and if I’m completely honest, to have an excuse to paint some very different figures!
I was doing an order anyway from Victoria Miniatures, an Adelaide based company that does a great range of 28mm scale Sci Fi soldiers. Many of these are nods to older, out of print Games Workshop regiments, and that is what I intended to order, using the companies Desert Scorpion models to do a Tallarn list that I’ve been wanting to try.
But one regiment that she does has no real GW analogue(although they are often done as alternate Catachans), the Van Diemens World Devils. These models are clearly Australians, with the name a subtle nod, and the Slouch Hats a far less subtle one. I had in fact used the heads from that range for a Roane Lighthorse Rough Rider unit many years ago.
The uniforms are depicted in Jungle colours. But the tucked in shirt, suspenders, and cut of the uniform in general struck me as awfully easy to work into a Gallipoli style uniform. I’m thinking of painting the shirts light blue, and the trousers in English Uniform to get a close approximation of Anzac uniforms of the late Gallipoli campaign. The biggest glaring gap in my project is the lack of ‘Lemon Squeezer’ campaign hats worn by some of the Kiwis at Gallipoli. I hope to source a few of those before I do the next wave of miniatures! Otherwise, the slouch hat without the side folded up will suffice, as not every Kiwi wore the Lemon Squeezer in 1915, and it was only post Gallipoli that it was adopted across the board by the New Zealanders.
So to start, I’ve ordered three 10 man squads and one 5 man squad(to make a command section and a Company Commander out of) to start, and unlike so many of my projects I will start with this and finish them before buying more, unless it looks likely that I won’t be able to get more later.
This will be a thematic army, and the backstory of these poor Roane Deepers is that they will be attacking a key strategic Renegade position, located on the coast of a landmass I have yet to name. Protected by a powerful Void Shield network, Imperial Command must take it by seaborne landing craft, and to establish the beachhead the Roane Deepers have drawn the short straw. The terrain is unsuitable for armour, and the rocky coastline also prevents the use of most Imperial equipment that would make the attack any easier.
Therefore, the Guard has chosen an attrition approach, feeding in Roane Regiments piecemeal until they can either take their objective and disable the void shield network, or they decide such a position is untenable, and stop. Unfortunately for the Deepers, they have yet to decide to stop. Frontal attacks with little chance of victory are the norm.
Since this is in the end both a tribute to the Anzacs as well as a shoutout to a lesser known Imperial Guard regiment, it’ll be a careful balance of what is fun, what is realistic and thematic, and of staying a fictional homage to a real event. It’ll be tricky, but I’m hoping people will see the genuine interest I have in the subject, and that I’m not trying to either glorify or diminish the real event.
There will be more about the Roane Deepers when I get the models in the mail! For now, I will plan the project further, and get ready.
For both the fictional Roane Deepers and the very real Anzacs, Taking Hell will be a project I can see myself sinking a lot of time, effort, and money into. No half measures.
That is all I have for today, and I will have more in the near future! I hope you enjoyed this! Happy Wargaming wherever you are, and have a great day!
It has been a while since my last post, but not to worry, I’ve just been busy with medical appointments. I’m not a particularly healthy person! I literally forgot where I was and what I was doing in the middle of the town I live in, which was very scary.
But blogging has been a great outlet for creative energy, and is helping to keep my memory intact and my brain working.
But that is not the only reason I am posting today!
Games Workshop has updated their IP policy recently, just in time for a recent resurgence of hobby activity on my end for Warhammer 40k. Honestly, not much of it affects my blog, and I’m far too small a fish to fry. But in an abundance of caution, I will be using entirely my own models for photos, and no longer using the copyrighted images that I sometimes did before. As well, any small fictional snippets will be from my own writing from now on. Hooray for fanfiction!
I’m still 3D printing conversion parts for my models; I have a printer and I’m going to use it. Luckily I haven’t printed 1 to 1 copies of anything so I shouldn’t suffer the banhammer on that end either.
Aside from Games Workshop, I also have run into the problem of storage space on WordPress. To be frank, I need to upgrade to a tier I never expected to hit, and it might be a financial challenge. But it will be worth it, and I will do so in the coming weeks. I have no intention of adding advertisements to my blog, and that will not change. This is for fun, not profit. It also keeps the GW lawyers away; It means I can post Fan-Fiction and Fan-Art without any problems.
I have a couple massive projects I’m working on, and as a teaser one is ANZAC themed Gallipoli style Imperial Guard!
Thanks for bearing with me, and if you’ve read this far, thank you.
Happy Wargaming wherever you are! And I hope to provide you quality content for years to come!
So in my last Conflict Dossier, I covered the Arma nation of Takistan, my go-to for a Middle Eastern-inspired fictitious nation. Today I’m covering its unlikely neighbor; The Republic of Chernarus!
The Green Sea region from Arma 2 is the gift that keeps on giving for Modern wargamers who want to add some fictional nations to their tabletops. A country with a political situation similar to many post-soviet states, Chernarus allows you to refight familiar scenarios inside an entirely fictional country. The only major alteration I’m making is that instead of the inexplicable ‘Chernarussian’ language being Czech I’m making it an offshoot of Russian.
The Republic has a problem that many post-soviet states contend with; Pro-Russian rebels who want to break away and either join the Russian Federation as a member or join it outright. South Zagoria, in the country’s north-east, is the hotbed for such unrest. While the Chernarussian Defense Force does its best, the ‘Chedaki’ as the rebels are known are persistant, dug-in, and hard to dislodge. Supported ‘off the books’ by Russian arms and equipment, these rebels pose a serious threat to the countries overall stability.
Now in Arma 2, the campaign resolves such events. Being a tabletop gamer, I’m using the beginning situation but altering it to suit my tabletop. Therefore, my backstory involves a Russian annexation of South Zagoria in 2017, with the CDF having to contend with well armed ‘Polite People’ as well as a seriously beefed up Chedaki force. NATO cannot officially intervene, and so far the annexation has stopped in South Zagoria itself, where an uneasy and constant low-intensity conflict smolders.
Unofficially, NATO forces have worked to destabilize the Chedaki forces, and such efforts are showing results as formerly Chedaki areas fall into local revolt between Chernarussian nationals and Chedaki supporters. The ‘Russian’ forces, there themselves ‘off the books’ cannot formally complain, but firefights between Russian forces and NATO forces have occurred. Both sides try to keep such engagements from being leaked to the news, for fear of further escalation.
The border with Takistan has also been a concern. In the 1980’s a Soviet invasion of Takistan used Chernarus as one of its main supply routes, and a certain grudge is held by the Takistanis toward the Chernarussians because of this. Chernarussians were part of that invasion force as well, adding further fuel to the fire.
Cross-border attacks by militant Takistani groups means the border is constantly, but not always effectively, guarded. During the NATO intervention in Takistan, Chernarus decided to not take part initially, despite their NATO aligned government. Instead, a few years later, the Republic of Chernarus formally committed peacekeepers as part of a UN backed initiative. While unpopular both at home and among the Takistanis, who view Chernarussian Peacekeepers with an air of suspicion, the good conduct of most of the CDF forces involved are slowly mending fences.
Now that is all well and good, but this is a wargaming blog. So besides my lovely Arma screenshots(I work way, way too hard on them!) I also got some models to use as Chernarussians on the tabletop.
They aren’t 1/1 recreations of the Arma 2 originals; they lack the kevlar, NATO styled, K-pot helmets. But surprisingly little has changed from Afghan era Soviet models and most Post-Soviet republic’s uniforms.
With that in mind, I decided to go with Eureka Miniature’s Afghan-era Soviets. They are well cast(barring one absolute pig of a model) and have loads of detail. I also find the metal particularly good to work with. Modern models have a problem with bent and broken barrels, and Eureka’s models are made of a metal that is both reasonably strong and pliant enough to bend back into place. Eureka also slightly, and I do not mean by much, exaggerate the size of weapons, just enough so that I find them much more durable then say Spectre Miniatures.
The models are really cool, and picking my favourite sculpts was hard. But here are some stand-outs!
My paint order should be arriving this week, so hopefully these Chernarussians don’t have to wait long for their coat of Russian Uniform. I’m torn on what camouflage pattern to use on them. I’m thinking Flora, but KLMK and a homebrew Chernarussian woodland pattern are all coming to mind. I like the idea that they have deployed to Takistan in green as the country can’t afford to have two sets of uniforms for just that occasion.
I’m quite pleased with the models, I have to say. I’ve ordered from Eureka US in this instance, but I also have placed an order with Eureka UK to see what would arrive faster. The US postal service has won in this case! The UK order has US Marines and Afghan National Police(to be used as Takistani National Army). I’m excited to get them!
But for now, that is all I have got for you fine people. Happy War-gaming wherever you are, and I wish you all a Calm Night. прощание!
So those of you following my blog may know I’m on a bit of a modern wargaming kick. Spectre Operations, and to a lesser extent, Team Yankee, are both extremely fun and well thought-out gaming systems. But, a nagging thought has been with me for a while, and somewhat reinforced by recent events around the world, outside of wargaming.
This post is not meant to discourage someone from wargaming the modern period. I certainly still will. But sometimes the best way to get a thought out of your head is to write it down.
I should disclose something else that might be relevant; I’m a Pakistani-born Canadian. My parents regularly tell me stories of the mother country, and while they try to tell only the good ones, the bad ones slip through. Pakistan in the 1980’s was an interesting place. Sometimes, my dad will comment on some of the models I’m working on with a unique angle, like how when I was working on my Afghan’s he mentioned working with Pashtun tribesmen during his time with the British Trade Commission. Or my mom will express some distaste at the sight of Kalashnikovs. This experience does colour my gaming somewhat, as most of my friends and wargaming group are, well, white dudes whose background lies in Canada for several generations, and who sometimes fail to understand what a different upbringing my folks must have had compared to their parents.
It was my friend Ty who suggested Spectre Operations to me, and he has a few campaigns he wants to cover specifically. Firstly, Chechnya. This was a war I remember seeing on the television as a young kid in the 90’s, and defined my view of Russians, and Chechens, well into my teenage years, but I was too young to remember the details.
And boy, are there details. The war was utterly savage, utterly without remorse on both sides. There is no clear “good guy” in Chechnya, only shades of very dark grey. Modern jihadists can trace a lot of their tactics to that war, and Afghanistan, which I will cover later. Grozny was an example of Post-Soviet Russian tactics, which lacked subtlety and went for shock and awe, practically leveling the city.
Despite that, or perhaps, because of it, it is a very interesting war to study and play in. Ambushes share the time with large armour movements. Rugged urban fighting contrasts with mountainside warfare. But this is certainly not your average insurgency, as the Chechens were very well armed, and extremely motivated, whereas the Russians were suffering from the Post-Soviet malaise they were just shaking off, and tended to be heavy handed because of it, as well as unmotivated to be fighting a war in general.
This leads well into Afghanistan. One could indeed wargame the Soviet Invasion just as easily as the Coalitions turn later, and both can be problematic. Canadians fought and died there, as did many other nations. And the news coming out of there recently is depressing; Many fought in that region to oust the Taliban, only for them to make sweeping advances as soon as the NATO forces leave. One could make the argument that it was pointless. And NATO is on a whole leaving behind the interpreters and civilians who helped them, and they most certainly will die because of it. Wargaming Afghanistan used to be something I wanted to do, badly, but recent news has taken the wind-out of those sails.
Still, as a wargaming setting, it is perfect; asymmetric warfare at longer then normal engagement ranges, against a tough and determined local populace is great for scenarios. Clearing insurgent weapon caches and ambushes are also interesting things to do in the setting. Going back to the 80’s also allows for some Cold-War proxy fighting goodness, like delivering Stinger missiles to the Mujahedeen.
The final period discussed between myself and Ty was much more modern then both previous examples. That is, the Crimean Conflict, or War in the Donbas. Polite People vs Ukrainian Army. An extremely compelling, modern war, that lacks the insurgency both previous examples exemplified. This was very much an undeclared shooting war, although one with the gloves clearly still on by both sides for fear of escalation.
This is a war that I have some inside knowledge on. My Russian friend has family in the contested region, and the region is ethnically mostly Russian…however it was still annexed through pretty nefarious means, and the Ukrainians are right to defend their territory. It’s messy. The Ukrainians were so desperate for manpower they raised militias, and some of these militias have less then savory connections, including Neo-Nazi elements. And the Russian raised militia units are just as problematic. And, unlike both previous examples, this war is ongoing. Both sides have proved to be motivated and dogged, and the war doesn’t have an end in sight.
This was probably the most problematic wargaming scenario I could do, and honestly despite Empress making modern Russians in polite people kit(the new Ratnik soldier suite), I still can’t see myself fighting it on my tables in good conscious.
So where does that leave the modern wargamer? I didn’t cover Iraq, but that is another popular place to wargame, and equally contentious. Let me explain what I’ve decided to do.
Chechnya, despite its ugliness, is in. It’s by no means a modern conflict anymore, and given a gentle and understanding hand, can be wargamed pretty well! The setting offers a lot, and the ‘just on the cusp of being fully modern’ equipment allows for a lot of variety.
Afghanistan is a more interesting take. Had you asked me a week or two ago, I would have been all for it. But now? It leaves a sour taste in my mouth, and I can’t say I can personally stomach gaming “Afghanistan” itself. But the Arma 2 Imagi-nation of Takistan on the other hand….that I will happily wargame. And I can use the models from Afghanistan just as easily in that setting.
The War in the Donbas is definitely out; It’s simply too new for me to cover in any way that doesn’t make me a little uneasy. However, I have referenced the conflict in my Zona Alfa games, as of course the Zone is in the Ukraine, and will continue to do so. The setting lends itself well to the extrapolation. I will probably resort to using another Arma 2 Imagi-nation, the Republic of Chernarus, for any Army on Army conflict. This fictional post-soviet state has much in common with the Ukraine, and while the uniforms differ quite a lot, that is a plus in my book. A fictional military allows you to go hog-wild with the equipment and look, and I will easily use real-life influence to fight the very not real-life setting. No neo-nazi militia for me please!
Now I’ll address this now; some people might call me an ‘SJW’ for these kinds of views. That is okay, they are allowed that opinion. Personally, I won’t push this thinking on anyone else. They are just my opinions about the Modern wargaming period. But just like any historical period, some nuance is needed if you want to sell the system on others. And these ‘ultramodern’ settings can easily alienate people. Personally, my solution of Imagi-nations allows me some serious lee-way to tell my own stories, and without some of the ugliness(although you can’t get rid of all of it).
Team Yankee sidesteps this neatly; there was no ‘Cold War Gone Hot’ in real life, and thank goodness for that! The setting in that case is inherently fictional. I have heard, however, some complaints leveled at the Oil War expansion. That I can understand, but the timeline is far enough in the past that I personally don’t see the issue on a personal level. Any game that tries to be overly serious and have Anzacs fighting in Europe in the 1980’s can’t really be taken all that seriously, and more the better for it! That being said…I do want to try A Fistful of Tows one of these days.
At the end of the day, as they say in the new Modern Warfare game, you “Draw the Line” where you need to. I have chosen to draw it this way. How might your games differ in that regard? I’d love to know! So leave me a comment.
That is all I have for today. I hope you enjoyed this post, and there will be more hobby oriented stuff as the Postman delivers the goods. For now, Happy War-gaming wherever you are, and до свида́ния comrades!
Almost 2 years ago, myself and Ty played a quick demo of Spectre Operations first edition at his place. We were in a rush, and the game was…confusing to say the least. We hadn’t had time to fully digest the rules, and our terrain setup was nowhere near suitable for a game that requires dense, realistic terrain. It didn’t leave a bad taste in my mouth, but neither did it wow me.
Fast forward to this weekend. We wanted to play a game of something with fully painted models to feature on our respective blogs, but while Very British Civil War was our original plan, we had no terrain for it yet and we want to give that setting the justice it deserves. Instead, on a lark, I suggested Spectre Operations as Ty had a smorgasbord of Blacksite Studio “War Zone Arabia” terrain and lot of special forces models. Ty liked the idea, and with the addition of some roof shingles cut down into roads, we quickly made a fairly decent looking table.
The scenario we made up called for Russian Spetsnaz to extract an HVT from a building in the centre of the table, and then use his Gaz Tigr(a Russian light vehicle roughly equivalent to a Humvee) to make a quick getaway. My Canadian foot patrol would be in the area on the same objective. He had 6 elite operators to my 10 professional soldiers. This would prove problematic.
The game started off pretty alright. I advanced the Canadians at a sprint right up the road, as the Gaz hadn’t arrived and the Russians didn’t have a shot yet. Ty moved up from his northwest deployment area and reached the target building in 2 turns, ready to enter.
This is where things started to go badly wrong for the Canadians. I was very concerned about keeping cohesion, so my models were fairly close together…
Ty had on one of his models a pump-action grenade launcher! I knew these would be strong as I had read up on them on the unofficial Facebook group. But holy cow did it pack a wallop. He placed a grenade right in the middle of the left fireteam and BOOM!
Two grenade launcher shots later and almost my entire force was dead or bleeding out. This was very, very bad. My Sergeant and Medic were still alive, and quickly moved away from the scary Russian man and his boomstick.
It was at this point that Ty suggested we get lunch. While we were out, he had a good idea to allow me to roll for reinforcements. While these would be unpainted models(to my shame) it would at least let me try and level the playing field.
It was at this point that Ty had begun to extract the HVT. Having climbed the stairs and taking the HVT into custody, he began to move the Gaz up to pickup his team, with the Spetsnaz taking overwatch positions, but not yet taking the action to overwatch, having moved to get there.
My Canadians finally got some much needed revenge at this point.
It was at this point that a small miracle happened for my Canadians. I won initiative. I was able to shoot back at the Spetsnaz who had fired on my Sergeant, and I downed the Russian.
His other Spetsnaz in the garage moved to kill my sergeant in close combat, encountering the Medic first. In the ensuing melee, my medic was killed. My Sergeant moved behind a truck to get better cover, but was also killed by the blood-crazed Russian maniac on a melee binge.
The HVT was moved into the Gaz, and the Spetsnaz began to retreat.
His forces had lost 2 Spetsnaz so far, but his damage to me was far greater. I didn’t want to make it easy for him.
But, by now, it was too late for the Canadians to make a difference. the Spetsnaz move into the Gaz, and make a quick getaway. I did attempt to fire a LAW at the outgoing Gaz(which would have killed the HVT, but I was getting bloodthirsty myself). I missed however, and they made good their escape.
It was a fun learning game, and I learned to not bunch up nearly as much. 40k muscle memory cost me a lot of lives, and I’m sure the news would murder the poor Canadian commander who sent the patrol in. It was a black day for the Canadian forces.
We learned a valuable lesson that the points system is a guideline for helping to make a scenario, and doesn’t always lead to balanced games. The Elites are just that much better then the lower tiers that they often keep up the initiative and shoot before my Professionals(who are no slouch themselves…), which leads to heavy casualties. The addition of the additional squad could have made a difference, or the addition of a vehicle(Come on payday! I Daddy needs a LAV III!) might have also tipped the balance.
We did play another game, after hiding in the house for a bit due to a tornado warning in the area. This game was much closer, but unfortunately I took no photos as I was so focused. We also added hilariously the “Baba Yaga” rules for John Wick, which Ty has a model for. Mr. Wick silently killed an entire house of models, but the Spetsnaz faired much worse as my Canadians were able to steal initiative enough to force casualties as the Spetsnaz moved to take the compound. The addition of a Russian sniper team was fun, and I definitely want one of my own.
In short, I am very impressed by the Second Edition of Spectre Operations. It takes some nuance to create good asymmetric scenarios that are still fun for both parties to play, and the points don’t work on their own to properly “balance” the game. But the layout and wording of the rules is far superior; after a night studying the game I was able to play with very few errors!
Our next gaming day is in a couple weeks, and Ty and myself want to do some more traditionally insurgent style scenarios, such as searching for Takistani militia weapon caches while avoiding ambushes and IEDS. The game system is perfect for that sort of warfare. I’m considering looking into Force on Force for more platoon on platoon modern warfare for Ukrainian vs Russian fighting, but otherwise Spectre will remain our “go to” for modern, asymmetric warfare.
While this was going on, Ty also had a request for my 3D printers; he had purchased an STL pack of “modern” Japanese Ground Self Defense Force miniatures. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to support them properly on the first try, but I got very lucky. He left that day with 18 of them! They look really fun, and we will be using them for Japanese forces in Takistan, where they are meant solely for humanitarian relief, but will shoot back if ambushed while on the job. Lets take a peek at a few of them!
I also printed him a sniper and two rifle-grenadiers, which in total leaves him with 18 JGSDF soldiers. Ty’s contemplating painting them with blue helmets. Let me know what you think of that idea and I’ll forward it to him!
The rainstorm kept us inside the shed most of the day. It was a great day of wargaming fun! I should be able to get another Spectre “battle report” in the next couple of weeks! Lots of painting to get done in the meantime; If I need more professional forces I might as well finish my Canadians!
But that is all I have for you today. Happy War-gaming wherever you are, and stay frosty. Bravo Six, Going Dark.