Ambush Valley AAR – The Battle of the Five-hole in the Long Huang Valley (20mm)

March 29, 2011

I have said before that every gaming session tells a story.  Sometimes the story goes off in a way different direction than you might expect.  Nonetheless camaraderie and companionship around the gaming table creates the environment where everyone can take part in the story being created and thus have stories to tell.  This past Sunday’s gaming session of “Ambush Valley”, the ruleset of Ambush Alley Games covering the Vietnam War, made for some memorable moments.

The “Ambush Valley” ruleset was one I had not had a chance to try out before.  Jim Roots and his son Will had set up an excellent gaming area, this time representing an area of Vietnam we fondly named “the Long Huang Valley”.  It was a largely jungle area (1D of cover) with many more dense areas (2D of “hard cover”), some rocky outcroppings and some scattered rice paddies.  Oh, and an extensive Viet Cong tunnel network loaded with local force Viet Cong soldiers.  Plus a LOT of booby traps!

The Long Huang Valley viewed from the north

The rules for the game had the Viet Cong acting as insurgents, able to emerge in random groups from any of 5 different hotspots on the map (represented by the blue dice).  The VC were local forces and were poorly armed at this stage of the war.  Thus they had a troop quality die of D6, with a morale of D8.

The US Marines who were staging out of the village of Long Doang in the south end of the Long Huang valley were standard forces, troop quality D8 with morale D8.  They had two 2-man teams of M60 gunners, several 5-man fireteams and a small HQ detachment with a medic and a radioman.  No air cover or arty was available.

The miniatures were provided by Skip Petersen of “Legends in Time” (www.legendsintime.com) and are amazingly well painted.  I mean it just puts my personal stuff to shame…

Some of Skip's VC forces

Some of Skip's US Marine forces - Vietnam era

The Marines were spread out in a broad sweep line, set to move north up the length of the Long Huang valley with the mission of closing up tunnel entrances that were spotted by aerial photographs.  In “Ambush Valley” rules this meant they had to keep a group of Marines by a “hot spot” for a turn and then pass a troop quality test to neutralize it.

The starting positions of the US Marines as layed out by Will

The “open” area actually represented more open jungle, providing 1D cover to anyone in it.  The stands of trees and bushes represented heavy cover, giving a 2D cover bonus BUT allowing the VC to pull a “booby trap” card on any US forces moving through the heavy cover.  Also, if the US forces moved at a faster speed than “cautious”, i.e. more than 6 inches they also could have a “booby trap” card pulled on them. The rice paddys were completely open areas with no cover (just like the real things).

The Marines look for a safe path to their goal

VC units on the board started off hidden in heavy cover spots

The Viet Cong units that started on the board were all considered “hidden” and were located in heavy cover areas.  They were waiting to use “Ambush” tactics to spring attacks when US troops came within 12 inches.  The US troops had a chance to spot hidden units, but only within 8 inches range and only after a successful Troop Quality (TQ) check.  Otherwise the VC forces remained hidden until they revealed themselves by movement in line-of-sight or by shooting.

The VC forces could also move rapidly around the map in two other ways.  They could use the tunnel network, entering one entrance and reappearing at any other entrance the next turn, no matter what the distance.  They could also move an unlimited distance on the map provided they remained out of line-of-sight of enemy troops.

Thomas observes the Marine advance, preparing to unleash an ambush with his VC force

The Marines advance in staggered formation

The Marines advanced carefully, using cautious movement (6 inches max) to avoid booby traps.  Some teams advanced while others stayed on Overwatch to cover them.  This tactic always left troops ready to react and defend the advancing units.  It also takes some time and is a little boring for the opponents, who admittedly are simply waiting for use to get close enough to be ambushed…

A Marine team enters heavy cover not knowing they are being watched

The first Marine team entered some “heavy cover” terrain.  The VC side pulled a booby trap card on the team and, presto: everyone’s favorite – feces-covered pungie sticks!  This proved to be the first of many times that the VC folks rolled poor dice and the Marines got lucky.  The Marine defensive roll blocked the VC attack roll.  No casualty!

However, Charlie (the VC) decided that this was a good time to ambush the Marine advance team.  This didn’t go really well for the VC unit…

The Marines spot the ambush first and pin the VC unit

The VC unit did not get their ambush off correctly, were seen and taken under fire by the Marine team.  They received casualties, failed their morale check and were pinned by the fire, unable to return fire.

The first catch-phrase of the day is inspired...

The VC unit had bad enough luck with the dice to inspire the first of several phrases that day: “Charley don’t roll, Sir!”

One unit down, a theoretically infinite amount to go...

The VC patrol is eliminated by fire.  The rest of the Marine sweep continued.

Marine sweep continues

The closest tunnel entrance to close up was code-named “Five Hole”.  The right flank of the sweep moved towards it in order to close it up.

The right flank troops head towards the Five Hole

The point team of the sweep enters heavy cover...at a cost

The point team of the Marines on the right flank chose to enter the heavy cover as they approached the Five Hole.  This allowed the VC side to draw another booby trap card.  What a booby trap!  They were spotted by a hidden machine gun nest!  Lots of BLAM came their way and, yet again, the VC dice blew goats.  This spawned the second catch phrase of the day.  As the Marines took advantage of the hard cover they were in their motto was: “We Hide with Pride!”

The machine gun nest

The Marines returned fire to the Machine Gun nest.  This proved “golden BB” effective!  The dice rolls brought out a Fog-of-War card for the machine gun nest, and a sucky one at that.  The Marines also dealt with the VC unit in the heavy cover next to the machine gun nest.  The VC unit fired on the lead Marine unit, took some casualties in return fire and took complete casualties from the 2 M60 machine gun teams.  The M60s really rocked in this game.

The dreaded "Jammed" card!

The FoW card was the “Jammed” card.  This meant that the machine gun nest was reduced to 1/2 of its fire power for the rest of the game.  A 4D6 attack became a 2D6 attack. This made it much less effective.

The left-side advance hits a booby trap

The Marine units that were advancing northwards on the west side of the rocky ridge ran afoul of a VC booby trap.  This was a bad one, explosive frag.  One casualty.  The HQ unit with the Corpsman then made a rapid move to get to the wounded man. This, of course, left them vulnerable to another booby trap.  This caused a casualty in the HQ team.  The casualty assessments at the beginning of the next turn showed that the lead unit casualty was KIA and the HQ unit casualty ended up being okay.

VC troops start coming out of the Five Hole

Meanwhile , the lead unit on the right flank was ambushed as they approached the Five Hole.  This time the Marines rolled some bad troop quality dice in response to the ambush.  Hello, Fog of War card…

"I just wanted to be back at my hooch!"

The FoW card made this team into “Short Timers”.  Their morale plummeted and they would not advance without a TQ check.  Then the incoming fire gave them some casualties and they, of course, failed their morale roll and were pinned.  Hmmm, this is looking more and more like a Vietnam war movie…

Other Marine units come up to help and the Battle for the Five Hole gets under way

Other Marine units moved forward to help the beleaguered unit extract itself.  This kicked off what became known as “The Battle of the Five Hole”. The advancing units took fire from the machine gun nest but were not hindered by it.

The defining moment of the game...

Suddenly a large unit of VC popped out of the Five Hole.  This occurence (actually from the standard “roll for insurgents” at the start of a turn) inspired a comment that will not only live in infamy but also stopped gameplay for several minutes while some of the players (myself included) had to compose themselves and learn how to breathe again.  The comment made by one of the players and attributed to the pinned Marine team was: “Pull out!  Wrong hole!”  Yeah, ow…

With one KIA and two WIA the team falls back

Casualty assessment for the pinned Marine team was one KIA and two severely wounded WIA.  The team prepared to perform a limping version of “The Bugout Boogy”.

After some amazing dice luck the wounded reach cover

The Marine fireteam brought its wounded through three different interrupts that failed to cause any more casualties.  “Charlie don’t roll, Sir!”

Another Marine team swung in from the west an eliminated the machine gun nest.

More forces concentrate around the Five Hole

With the wounded unit in cover the rest of the Marines on the right flank started closing in on the Five Hole.  the VC also started moving forces in that direction as well.  The game mechanic of the VC forces being able to use the tunnels for free movement is a good one.  It serves the purpose of keeping the action going while at the same time providing a “cinematic” element to the game, with hordes of enemy forces pouring out against the outnumbered but not outgunned “good guys”.

More VC units arrive at the Five Hole

The VC units kept popping up out of the Five Hole, making it an area of great interest to the Marines.  When they got interested in something they kept shooting it until it was no longer interesting.  Lots of casualties among the VC, with really sucky dice rolling on the VC side.

Definitely the wrong hole for the VC today...

The VC players threw a lot of forces and reinforcements at the Five Hole, but it was not the only place where combat was happening.

A Marine patrol was heading to close up another hole and got ambushed

A Marine team on the left side of the map saw an opportunity to go after another tunnel entrance.  As they moved towards it they were ambushed by a unit of VC that just popped out of it.  This ambush was a charge to close combat.

Close combat in Ambush Valley (and the other Ambush Alley games) goes until one side is defeated.  Casualties are immediately assessed.  In this case, the VC team was not only taken out by the Marines but the Marines took two VC prisoners, i.e. there were 2 unassessed VC casualties at the end of the close combat.

An0ther VC team observed this and failed their TQ roll to assault, thus staying lurking in the bushes.

The Five Hole at game end...

The VC forces at the Five Hole were taken in the flank by another Marine fire team.  This caused sufficient casualties that, given the state of the game, we decided to end things and call the game.  The results were determined to be a massive US Marines victory.  There were over one hundred Viet Cong casualties to 2 Marine KIA and 2 Marine WIA.

Honestly though, the Marines did not do a great job completing their primary goal, which was to neutralize the hot spots, i.e. close up the tunnel entrances.  That was a difficult proposition.  The booby trapped laden jungle didn’t make things any easier.  The Marines succeeded more due to bad dice luck on the VC side than anything else.

I want to thank Skip Petersen for lending Jim Roots his minis.  They really made the game look and feel better.  Jim’s son Will was the game master and ran it very well, even as he played some of the VC forces.  Will had some of the most horribly bad dice rolls I have seen in a long time.

The game was a lot of fun and “Ambush Valley” creates very interesting stories.


Tomorrow’s War AAR: 15mm – The New Londoner assault against a town held by Brazilian infantry backed up by Hammer’s Slammers

March 15, 2011

Greetings all!

I went to “Ambush Sunday” at Unique Games & Gifts in Grayslake, Illinois expecting to join in a game featuring Khurasan Miniatures “Felids” attacking a human colony.  It seems the kitties decided to nap in the afternoon.  Instead Jim Roots and his son had set up a very different game, featuring an armored force (hovertanks and hover APCs carrying powered-armor troops) attacking through an urban area and facing local defense forces backed up  by 2 Hammer’s Slammers blowers (hovertanks – nasty and tough) and 4 Hammer’s Slammers combat cars (smaller open-topped hover vehicles with medium arms).  This looked like it was gonna be fun!

They had enough forces in the game for each side to be run by three people (convenient since we had 6 people playing).  Jim’s son, Will, once again did a bang-up job of running the game. I ended up on the New Londoner side along with Jim and another gentleman.  On the other side was the gentleman’s son, whom I keep meeting at these games and whose name I can never remember, the store owner and (I think) the store owner’s son.

I will say this: every wargame I play tells a story.  Sometimes (the way I play, sigh…) the story is predetermined.  Other times the story that is created takes you in all sorts of directions, some of them quite unexpected.  Let’s see how this story developed…

The battlefield as set up by Will

The battlefield set up by Will was very detailed and provided many challenges and good cover for both sides.  The mission for the New Londoners was to drive the Brazilians past the Poofloo river and take control of the urban area.  They were also to try to destroy a communications station used by the Slammers. The Brazilian infantry were to break up the New Londoner advance in order to generate shooting opportunities for the Slammer’s forces.  The Slammers “blower” tanks had hard-hitting main guns the had a great chance to blast a New Londoner tank apart in one shot.  The Slammers combat cars had their Tri-barrel energy guns that, while only having a small chance to damage a New Londoner tank, were “intimidating weapons” to the advancing New Londoner infantry.

The New Londoner infantry were wearing powered armor suits.  This gave them increased mobility, more protection and environmental resistance.  They were armed with laser weapons, which while giving them pluses to shooting had minuses in close combat (lasers break easily).  The Brazilians were wearing standard body armor and were armed with Advanced Combat Rifles (ACRs).  These gave them a plus to shooting and double dice in close combat (SCARY).

The New Londoner forces before deployment

The New Londoner forces consisted of 9 hovertanks (4d main gun) and 3 unarmed hover Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs).  The APCs each carried 2 fireteams of 4 power armored infantry (plus 3D in defense) armed with laser weapons.  Each of us on the New Londoner side controlled 3 tanks, 1 APC and 2 fireteams.

The Hammer's Slammers Blowers and Combat Cars north of the Poofloo river

The Brazilian infantry (whom the Slammers would refer to disparagingly as “locals”) consisted of multiple fireteams of 4 or 5 troops, some armed with Rocket Propelled Grenade launchers (RPGs).  These fireteams were scattered around the northern buildings, mostly south of the Poofloo river.  The Slammers blowers and combat cars were located north of the river in good manuver positions that both had cover and yet had good lines of sight down possible approach corridors.

Looking down a western alley towards the comm station that was our goal

This view is one of the approach ways for the New Londoner forces.  In the distance across the table you see one of our primary goals.  The NL tanks had enough firepower to take the antenna structure down, but only if we could shoot without being shot up by the Slammers blowers.

The antenna gave the Brazilian side an advantage in rolling dice to determine who controls “the Grid”, i.e. the local communications networks.  Having Grid control in Tomorrow’s War gives you advantages in almost all die rolls.  It can be very important.

The first advance by the New Londoner forces

As the first turn started the two sides contested control of the Grid.  In an amazing series of die rolls the Brazilians lost Grid control to the New Londoners.  This event should have had classic movie “foreboding” music associated with it.

This first assault column was led by the APC which wisely stopped in cover to deploy forces.  The infantry plan was to enter the large, dark industrial building to their right in order to use its cover while attacking the Brazilian infantry holed up in the buildings across the next street.  One of the Brazilian units to the north got a tank in their line of sight and attempted an interrupt in order to use their RPG.

A certain kind of momentum was developing...

The interrupt attempt was rolled and the Brazilians came up with a “1”.  This brought them a “Fog of War” card.  This particular card caused an immediate casualty in a randomly determined fireteam.  The casualty was immediately assessed and found to have a light wound.  First blood goes to Murphy…

The attack from the Brazilian fireteam went “clang” on the tank armor.  Tank return fire did little that time…

The NL infantry enters the building...

The New Londoner infantry entered the industrial building in a “move and fire” operation, one fireteam at a time. The Brazilians across the other street interrupted the NL infantry and caused some casualties.  They received some too.

Another New Londoner column advanced up the western avenue

On the west side of the town another column advanced up the paved avenue and deployed infantry towards the buildings to the left in the picture.

"Tanks add dignity to what would otherwise be a vulgar brawl..."

The NL fireteam in the building was having a hard time of it with the Brazilian forces in the building across the street.  The New Londoners brought some, uh…backup.  Hmmm, bringing a tank to an infantry skirmish.  Not quite cricket, eh?  Oh well, they’re just wogs, what?

Can you see the bad guys in that building over there

Another NL tank moved up in a move and fire attack on some Brazilian infantry in  the building in the distant middle of the picture.

The New Londoner tanker could see those guys...

The exchange of fire between the tank and the Brazilian fireteam was brief and brutal.  Three casualties, to be assessed by one who is already wounded.  Some days it doesn’t pay to stand to…

The Brazilian fireteam at top of picture was taking fire from 2 NL fireteams

The other Brazilian fireteam on the west side ended up taking fire from the two New Londoner fireteams.  One casualty was taken on each side.  (Man, ACRs are brutal when you are on the receiving end)

Casualties on both sides of the street

Back on the east side, bringing a tank to an infantry battle was a good idea for the New Londoners.  The Brazilian fireteam took 3 casualties, bouncing a RPG off the tank for no effect.  The Brazilian side was beset by bad dice…

Column 3, one battle, no waiting...

The third column of New Londoners made its appearance. advancing up the street on the east side.  The advanced far enough that the lead tank could a previously attacked Brazilian squad under fire, with brutal results.

All fireteam members are casualties in the building on the left of the picture

The remaining member of the fireteam in the building center left became a casualty.  This meant that the Brazilian side would have to move another fireteam over to them to assess casualties.  Until that happened they stayed down and out of the fight.

To the north of the Poofloo river the Slammers forces, who had not reacted during the turn, prepared to perform some Move/Fire actions.

Let us see here, do I have a line of sight?

One of the Slammers players moved a blower and lined up a shot across the Poofloo river at some New Londoner infantry on the west side.

The guys on the roof have a great view of the Slammers blower in the distance. Uh-oh...

BLAM!  A shot from the Slammers blower caused much sound and fury but did not cause any casualties.  REALLLYYY bad dice on the Brazilian side…

Brazilian and Slammers forces at start of next turn

The New Londoner forces at the start of the next turn

The forces on both sides at the start of the next turn were well situated for some quick mayhem.  The New Londoners had enough of an avenue cleared to advance, but had to deal with the fire lanes that the Slammers had staked out.  And the Slammers combat cars had not yet entered the fray…

Officially a bad day for one Brazilian fireteam

You know you’re having a bad day when your entire fireteam become casualties and your morale drops enough to be marked with a giant yellow chicken.

A very busy time on the east side of town

A lot happened in the beginning of the turn.  The New Londoners maintained the initiative but the Grid became “contested” and not in anyone’s control. Some of the advancing New Londoners went on “Overwatch” so they could quickly react to Brazilian interrupts.

Next, a New Londoner tank poked its nose out of the cover of the buildings and got it shot off.  “Main Gun KO” by a Slammers blower.  But hey, the crew would be able to claim they survived being shot by a Slammers tank!

As the New Londoners started firing on the Brazilian infantry in the eastern buildings they reacted with movement, trying to leave the buildings and move rearward, using the building as cover.  This required some “troop quality” rolls.  Murphy and the dice gods (what a name for a band) struck again…

Did the Met office predict this?

Another “1”, another Fog of War card.  Literally “Fog” of war this time.   Visibility dropped and infantry could no longer target anything more than 18 inches away.  Only vehicles with advanced imaging could fight normally.

Fireteams all withing 18 inches of each other...

On the west side it turned out that the Brazilian and New Londoner fireteams were all within 18 inches of each other.  A nasty firefight continued between them.  However, remember that vehicles with advanced imaging could target more distant objects?

A Slammers combat car looks south and spots some NL infantry on the west side

To the north across the Poofloo river a Slammers combat car got a good line of sight on a New Londoner fireteam on the west side.  It opened up with its weapons and caused 2 casualties.  The fireteam passed its morale check but could not return fire.  All they could see was fog that hid Death…

On the east side an advancing New Londoner tank drives into the sights of a Slammers blower

On the east side a New Londoner tank moved forward to get a better shot at the fleeing Brazilian fireteams and moved right into the sights of a Slammers blower.  ANYONE who knows ANYTHING about Hammer’s Slammers could tell you that there are few worse places to be.  This looked like the ugly point in the battle, at least for the New Londoners.  The plan was to soak up some shots from the Slammers blowers in order to give other NL tanks a chance to hit them.  War by attrition.  It can work, but it is rough on those who are attrited…

The Slammers tank rolled interrupt dice against the New Londoner player. Everybody looked expectantly at the dice.  Holy cow!  The Slammers side had not only rolled lower than the New Londoner tank but they rolled a “1”, meaning another Fog of War card was in the offing.  We waited for the card before determining the results of the combat.

Yet another truly horrible Fog of War card for the Brazilians

“GAS! GAS! GAS!”  We decided that a stray shot had ignited pollutants in the Poofloo river and generated a toxic cloud.  The Brazilian forces had to don Chemical Warfare Protective gear, which reduced their troop quality from a D8 to a D6.  The only things not affected were the two Slammers blowers, who were both environmentally sealed.  The 4  Slammers combat cars were affected, being open-topped vehicles.  This well and truly sucked for the Brazilians.

Now, the duel between tanks could be resolved.  The New Londoner had the initiative and rolled the dice (4D8).  The Slammers player confidently rolled the defense dice of 4D12.  Slammers blowers are very well armored.

An amazing shot by the New Londoner tank

BLAM! An amazing shot by the New Londoner tank scores one success, as in one die that was not blocked by the Slammers player.  A D8 was rolled and the “Heavy Gun on Heavy Vehicle” chart was consulted.  The New Londoner player rolled an “8” and the Slammers tank was destroyed!  Everyone was shocked!  The picture shows the cloud of smoke coming off the Slammers tank.
This result on top of the “GAS!” card caused us to end the game with the remaining Brazilian and Slammers forces withdrawing.  Things would have gotten very bloody for them had they stayed.

Forces at Game's end

I said earlier that every game tells a story.  The story here was one where the naturally screwed up nature of war caused as much mayhem to one side as the enemy did.  Tomorrow’s War captures this element very well.  Indeed all the Ambush Alley games do that.  The amazing thing is that they make it fun while they do that.

The Brazilian/Slammers forces had a potent combination that was vulnerable to losses.  With one heavy tank out of action they could no longer control their flanks and were vulnerable to flanking maneuvers if they stayed.  Withdrawing was the wisest course of action.  Also, the Brazilian/Slammers players would not have had much fun with the disadvantage they were under at that point.

All in all a fun game and a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon!


Tomorrow’s War AAR – Scenario 2: Last Stand at Red Ridge

March 6, 2011

Last night my son Thomas and I played a game of “Ambush Alley Games” Tomorrow’s War.  This time I wanted to try a scenario right out of the book, so we went with Scenario 2: Last Stand at Red Ridge.  This put my new minis from Khurasan Miniatures and some re-based Mechwarrior: Dark Age figs to use for the first time.  Way cool!

The scenario recreates (pre-creates?) a botched mission of US Green Berets during the First Interstellar War in 2289.  Six Green Berets in high-tech powered combat armor survive the destruction of their dropship during a mission to destroy a suspected missile platform in the jungles of Brazil.  The Green Berets drop 10 miles (16 kilometers) away from their drop zone.  They land separated and unsupported in the Brazilian forest controlled by “one of Brazil’s elite Home Defense Battalions”.  The Green Berets are directed by their leader to rally on a hill poking out of the forest.  While getting their they are spotted and surrounded by a platoon of the Brazilian soldiers.  With no hope of rescue the Green Berets decide to make a last stand on the hill now known as “Red Ridge”.

US Forces (all in standard power armor, Tech Level 3, Troop Quality/Morale D8/D10:

1 Leader in battlesuit armed with Gauss SAW

1 Gunner in battlesuit armed with Gauss Saw and Shoulder Launched Missile Pack

4 Gunners with Gauss SAW

They are organized in groups of 2.

Brazilian Forces (all in hardened body armor, Tech Level 2, Troop Quality/Morale D8/D10:

3 squads of 9 men, with a Leader and 2 fire teams of 4 men: Leader, SAW, Grenadier and Gunner.

All squads with Gauss Advanced Combat Rifles.

Also the Brazilian forces had a single Tech Level 3 Infantry Fighting Vehicle armed with a Rotary Laser and a Gauss LMG.

The Brazilian forces came in on all four sides of the map, with the vehicle in the North and the three squads coming in on the East, South and West sides.

The forces at the start of Turn 1 - viewed from the South

You can see the three pairs of Green Berets in the central area of the map, located on either side of “Red Ridge” as it came to be known.   Brazilian infantry are on the West, South and East sides with the Brazilian IFV to the North. Yeah, I know it is a substitute for a futuristic vehicle…

The Green Berets had the initiative for turns 1 and 2.  At the start of turn one they could not be seen by the Brazilian infantry due to visibility through forest and jungle.  I used the terrain I had to lay out the map as close to what is given in the scenario as I could.  The boulder field to the Southwest comes from Thomas’ rock collection.

Brazilian forces looking from the East

The Brazilian Squad in the East started in an area designated at heavy jungle.  They had limited movement and couldn’t see squat.  They did know which way to go, though.

Brazilian forces look from the West

The Western Brazilian squad had to make its way through lighter woods along the base of a ridgeline.

The Brazilian IFV comes around the North of the western ridge

The Brazilian IFV coming from the North had a terrifyingly good line of sight of the whole western side of Red Ridge.

The Southern Squad makes its way through the woods

The Brazilian squad moved up from the South.  They took an initial position on the hill in front of them.

It sucks facing something that your bullets just bounce off of...

The IFV interrupted the central pair of Green Berets when they moved into cover on Red Ridge.  The Green Berets, who had no anti-vehicle armament, had to hunker down and take it as the IFV blasted them with lasers.  Luckily nothing hit them.

The first of many rough and nasty exchanges of fire with the South Squad

One of the Brazilian South fireteams interrupted the Eastern pair of Green Berets as they moved onto Red Ridge.  The exchange of fire caused the first Green Beret casualty and some Brazilian casualties as well.  The Brazilian troops were wearing hardened armor (adding 2D to their defense rolls) while the Green Beret’s powered combat armor gave them a 3D adder to their defense rolls along with on-board AI and advanced medical equipment.  The onboard AI enabled them to make casualty checks even if the entire squad was down.  Otherwise this would be a very short scenario…

Eastern Brazilian squad causes Green Beret casualties

The Eastern Brazilian squad moved to the edge of the woods and caused the Green Beret team squad leader and his wingman to take casualties.

Western Brazilian squad tries to take down the big battlesuit

The Western Brazilian squad moved to the edge of the woods and took the missile-armed Green Beret and his wingman under fire.  The missile armed battlesuit was tagged as a dire threat.

The Western Brazilian fireteam appears to be successful

The Western squad caused two casualties in the Green Berets, taking down the big battlesuit and his wingman.  This ended the turn.  Now it was time for medic casualty checks.

The beginning of the next turn had all forces performing casualty checks.  The Green Berets did okay, but their leader took a serious wound and was down, out of combat.  However, the missile-armed Green Beret and his wingman were both back up, one with a light wound.  First thing on their mind was not the squad that just hit them…it was instead the IFV lumbering down from the North.

Boom!

The missile hit, penetrated the armor and…boom…bye, bye IFV.

The Brazilians become victims of You-Tube...

The Brazilian soldiers attempted to interrupt another pair of Green Berets.  They rolled a “1”.  The Fog of War card that came up was one of those “insult to injury” situations.   Combat video made it on the Net and made the Brazilians look bad.

The Brazilian fire team eats a missile...

The two Green Berets can put out 8D of attack.  Even when they are down 1D that is still a lot of firepower from two men.  They take down an entire fireteam.

A really good dice roll for the Brazilians brings the battlesuits down again

Thomas rolled some phenomenal dice and took down the two power-armored Green Berets again.

The Green Berets roll a 1 but it works out...

Apparently the video feeds of the battle that made it onto the net made the Green Berets look really good.  Yeah, they rolled a “1” on interrupt and got their first “Fog of War” card.  It was a good one for them, though, worth 3 victory points.

This normally ends a game...

The end of this turn finds all the Green Berets down as casualties.  The power armor AI’s were having to work overtime here…

Beginning of Turn 4 - the Western side of the map

The beginning of Turn 4 had the Green Berets making casualty checks.  This time things didn’t go as well.  One KIA and everyone else was lightly wounded, along with the seriously wounded CO.   This left them with 4 effectives.  Two of them were effective enough to take down the fireteam of Brazilians who had just gotten back up from making casualty checks.

View from a shot-up Brazilian fireteam

The Green Berets were hurting but still packed a punch.  The second Brazilian West fireteam was almost taken all the way down.

The Northern Green Beret goes down again

The trouble with punches is that both sides can throw them.  One of the South Brazilian fireteams takes down the standing Green Beret next to the wounded Green Beret CO.

The Brazilians start occupying Red Ridge

With the Green Beret covering fire down, the remaining Brazilian forces on the East and South charge up Red Ridge.  The real “Battle for Red Ridge” is about to commence.

Things are about to get nasty...

The top of the ridge prevents the Green Berets from reacting to the oncoming threat.  Yes, things were about to get nasty…

The beginning of Turn 5

The forces at the beginning of Turn 5.  The Green Beret at the north side who was guarding the wounded CO was a KIA.  Most of the casualties for the Brazilians were okay, with a few KIAs.  The ridge is starting to get crowded.

Getting closer to guys in powered armor with big guns is not always a good idea

The lead Brazilian fireteam crested the hill and immediately took some serious fire.  They failed their morale check and were pinned at the crest of the ridge. A single survivor of a Brazilian West fireteam is taken down.

Stalling the Western advance

The remaining Brazilian West fireteam is taken down.  This wasn’t as helpful as it seems.

The forces on Red Ridge at the start of Turn 6

The start of turn 6 had the remaining Green Berets hunkering down and experiencing a “target-rich environment”.  This is not always a good thing.  The Brazilian forces had the initiative and hit the Green Berets hard.  All three combat effectives became casualties.  The Brazilians then charged them.

The Brazilians succeed in taking Red Ridge

The Brazilian forces crested the ridge and surrounded the downed Green Berets.  The Green Berets then tried to “avoid capture”.

"You'll never take me alive!"

The Green Beret on the north side of the ridge found himself surrounded by Brazilians.  He smiled and pulled the wire detonating all his grenades at once.  The Brazilians took a 3D attack but were unwounded.

Captured.

Sadly, the 2 Green Berets on the west side of the ridge failed their Troop Quality rolls and were captured by the Brazilians.  Their fates were too gruesome to contemplate.

The game actually went a total of seven turns, since it took an extra turn for troops to capture the Green Beret on the north side of the ridge.  The main victory conditions for the Green Berets were to hold out as long as possible.  The victory conditions for the Brazilians was to capture or kill, preferably capture, the Yankee invaders.

Doing the math and with the additional effects of the Fog of War cards the Green Berets scored 43 victory points.  The Brazilians scored 7 victory points.  This, coupled with the combat footage that made it to the net, gave the “victory”, bitter as it was, to the Green Berets.

We really enjoyed playing a scenario right out of the book.  It was much more balanced than it first seemed.  Powered Combat Armor is a huge force multiplier, but Gauss weapons, which negate 1 defense die, had their own terrible impact.  Good carnage and a lot of fun for both Thomas and me.  Plus, I got to use a bunch of my newly painted forces for the first time.  All in all a great way to spend a Saturday evening!


Another “Work in Progress” report

March 5, 2011

Greetings everyone!  It is March 5 and the weather outside has been either cold or wet or icy or snowy or all of the above.  Seems like good time to spend working on the game stuff.  I have been squeezing time in to actually get some stuff done, so here goes…

De-basing Mechwarrior Dark Age battle armor

First up is the ongoing project to de-base and re-base a bunch of old Mechwarrior: Dark Age and Age of Destruction battle armor minis.  The tools of the trade for that are shown.  The process involves bringing some of my tools and a cutting board into the kitchen, putting the minis in the freezer and then removing one mini at a time from the freezer and cutting it off the clicky base and off any “decorative” base it is attached to.  These “Ravager Battle Armor” figs are pretty easy.  They have no “decorative” base.

Note that I intend to use all these for 15mm scale gaming.  Some late pictures will show how the sizes compare.

Debasing these figures is more work

The “Kanazuchi Battle Armor” figures are harder to de-base since they are glued to a decorative plastic base which is then glued to the “clicky” base.  It takes a combination of knife and clippers to get them where I want.

Leg damage to the mini is common when doing this

A bunch of “Kanazuchi Battle Armor” figs are shown here.  You can see there is a casualty in the group, where one fig’s leg broke off in the removal process.  It is easy to fix with super glue (cyanoacrylate glue) right before re-basing on a washer.

These battle armors take damage more easily

This batch of “Salamander Battle Armor” figures shows that leg breakage is a common occurance in de-basing them.  They were all easily re-glued with super glue.  Please note that the plastic these MWDA and AoD minis are made from does not glue well with any other glue except super glue.  I think that maybe they are made from polyethylene plastic, which would explain that.

Further note: During the de-basing process plastic bits flew all over my kitchen.  The plastic breaks off easily with the clippers and flies far.  I recommend safety glasses, an open area and a broom.

Finally getting my Hammer's Slammers tanks worked on

Next up – FINALLY I have gotten around to working on my Hammer’s Slammers tanks and combat cars from Old Crow Models.    http://www.oldcrowmodels.co.uk/

I want to take a second and talk about the REALLY AMAZINGLY GOOD customer service I received from Old Crow Models.  I ordered a tank platoon and a combat car platoon from them in late November of 2010.  By late January they had not arrived and I contacted them.  They checked things out and immediately sent me out a new order.  I got it 3 days later, from Britain to the USA.  It seems that a bunch of their customer orders went missing with the awful weather experienced in Britain and the USA in that time period.  I was quite pleased with the response and service.

The picture shows a couple of the “Hammer’s SlammersBlower hovertanks I am working on.  The washers glued to the bottom help protect the plastic during gaming and allow for magnetic-based storage (more on that later). The washer under the turret allows me to magnetize the turrets to hold them in place and allow them to rotate.

Note the magnets glued inside the tank

I cut out circular pieces of plastic card (mine came from a plastic “For Sale” sign) and glued them into the hole in the tank body.  The card sits just below the washer glued to the underside of the turret.  On the underside of the plastic circle I glued a pair of small rare-earth magnets.  These are strong enough to hold the turret in place.

The turret stays in place even upside down

Even upside down the turret stays in place.  I am very happy with how that turned out.  It took almost no time to do as well.  I finished the four tanks in about one hour.

A lot of firepower...

All four tanks are shown here, almost done with assembly.  I then mounted the small metal secondary guns called “Tribarrels” because they have three rotary barrels.  The location for the tribarrel is a spot just in front of the turret hatch.  I used a pin vise to drill those spots a little deeper and glued the metal-molded tribarrels in place with “Green Stuff” and super glue.

Old Crow Models Hammer's Slammers Combat Car

Next up I moved to the “Hammer’s Slammers” Combat Cars by Old Crow Models.  These are open topped hover vehicles with moderate armor.  They mount three “Tribarrels”, giving them a decent combined firepower.  If you think of the “Blower” tanks as heavy cavalry then the “Combat Cars” are light cavalry.

The picture shows one combat car that I have mostly assembled and the unassembled parts of another one.  The etched brass top cover is really neat and produces a great effect in the model.  The vehicle includes the “stowage” – the bedrolls, personal equipment, footlockers and such that the crew would travel with.  This is a neat addition and helps to enhance the “gritty” look of the assembled model.

Closeup of partially assembled combat car

A closer view of the partially assembled combat car.  The top and the stowage are not secured yet.

Pieces layed out prior to painting

These are the pieces of the combat car that will get painted separately.  I want to be able to access the inside for detail painting before permanently mounting the upper section.

Size Comparison between Blower and Combat Car - all at 15mm scale

This picture shows the relative sizes of the “Hammer’s Slammers” Blower Tank and Combat Car minis from Old Crow Models.  They look great together and I look forward to painting them up!

15mm Khurasan Miniatures SciFi Infantry in comparison

The reason I was waiting to work on my “Hammer’s Slammers” vehicles was because I had to finish basing and painting my “Khurasan Miniatures” Sci Fi Infantry figs.

http://khurasanminiatures.tripod.com/15mmscifi-infantry.html#humanity

Great minis and the price is excellent too.  I am going to buy more and recommend them highly.  The picture shows a couple of the 15mm Sci Fi infantry figures in comparison with the “Slammers” vehicles. They fit right in there!

The "re-based" minis fit in well at 15mm scale

Remember I said earlier that the “Mechwarrior” miniatures were intended for 15mm gaming.  Here are some of the “re-based” battle armor figs in comparison with the Khurasan 15mm Sci-Fi Infantry fig.  Good fit, I think.  Oops, the “Kanazuchi Battle Armor” fig is facing away from the camera.  He must be admiring the hovertank…

Look - no mess!

I mentioned “magnetic storage”.  Jim Roots of “Beast’s Wargaming Log – http://beastgaming.wordpress.com/

showed me how he stores all his minis.  I was very impressed and had to start doing it for myself.  The picture shows some of my 15mm scale infantry secure to a magnetic sheet while being held at a 90 degree angle to gravity.  No mess!

Sheet and roll of magnet material

This is the material I ordered from McMaster-Carr, an online industrial supply company.

http://www.mcmaster.com

The roll is flexible magnetic strip with adhesive back, 2 inches wide and 1/16 inch thick.  I ordered a 20 foot long strip.

McMaster Carr item number: 5759K82  Price: $1.51 per foot

The sheet is a flexible magnetic sheet with adhesive back, 7 inches wide by 10 inches long by .020 inches thick.

McMaster Carr item number: 5775K6   Price: $2.41 each

The magnetic strips are strong enough to hold my hovertanks and combat cars (that have washers superglued to their undersides).  The sheet does well in holding my infantry figs, though I might go with a thicker, stronger sheet next time.  Any plastic storage cases should do fine.

Next "work in progress"

I also lined up my next “work in progress” for when I finish the hovertanks and combat cars.  I purchased some model railroad HO scale unpainted human figures.  About $9 for 72 figs.   They will become civilians, “special” personnel and of course some 15mm scale zombies.  The picture shows them with one of the “Khurasan 15mm Sci Fi Infantry” figures.

Well, I need to get back to my assembling and painting.  One final picture though, showing one of my family hard at work on her “work-in-progress”:

Hard at work...

Yup, Maggie the basset hound hard at work on a nap.

Have fun!