Friday, 30 October 2015

Force on Force: Sniper Hunt AAR

A spare Sunday morning saw a good opportunity for a game at my brother's place. I've been itching to use my .50 cal sniper team since I painted them a while back and so we chose a mission they could finally do some damage!

Dead1 took control of the Taliban, supported by Chechen jihadi's, whilst I and another mate, Codename Danger Mouse, took command the AUS/US coalition.

What follows in the After Action Report, nicely written up by Dead1.

A combined team of US Special Operations (ODA) and Australian SASR operatives were assigned a mission to capture a High Value Target (HVT) in Chora District in Urozgan when they encountered a well executed sniper ambush.  Three special operations operators were wounded by fire from three separate sniper nests.  Later analysis revealed the presence of Chechen fighters.

Due to poor weather conditions, air support was cancelled, though the Australian  protection detail was dispatched  via Bushmaster IMV.

The operatives took cover in a compound but were unable to retrieve the three wounded of the ODA team.  The SASR quickly set up a sniper position with an M107 Barrett anti-materiel rifle and successfully engaged and neutralized two of the enemy teams whilst the ODA neutralised the third one.  The Special Forces acted with great efficiency as neutralizing the Taliban quickly was necessary to evacuate the three wounded ODA members.

Despite the sniper teams being neutralized relatively quickly and efficiently, their actions allowed the Taliban to funnel additional troops into the fray and place pressure on the allied special forces operators.  One of the ODA fireteams managed to cross the street while under fire and clear one of the Taliban rallying points, neutralizing a number of Taliban in the process.

Three ODA injured during the initial ambush. Await CASEVAC!
Overhead Drone view of Compound. WIA's to the south.
Coalition forces scan for the enemy snipers
SASR sniper team spots and engages hostile snipers
Taliban Sniper team take heavy fire

The Taliban were hampered by their inability to coordinate their troops.  They arrived piecemeal and often milled around ineffectually without contributing to the fighting.  Some of the ODA sustained light wounds.   The superbly trained an experienced SASR sniper team dominated the battlespace inflicting many Taliban casualties.
Ever desperate to press the attack, the Taliban rushed the Australian position with a technical though this was neutralized by a well placed .50 calibre round through the engine block whilst the spotter took out the driver with his SR25.
However in the fighting a number of civilians were caught trying to escape the firefight and a child was wounded by a stray round.  The ODA team that had redeployed courageously acted to provide aid to the civilians.  This was the break the Taliban were waiting for and in a display of excellent marksmanship killed Sergeant Major Charles “Chuck” Orris and seriously wounding two others.

It was at this point the first Bushmaster IMV appeared to casevac the wounded men.  The Taliban attempted to detonate an IED under the Bushmaster but were dispatched by the vehicle’s commander.  However the elite Chechen sniper team continued to wreak havoc, wounding a number of ODA as well as the SASR special operations team.
The failure of the mission was assessed to poor intelligence and too routine nature of deployments in the area that meant the Taliban were able to predict the special operations and prepare a well placed ambush.  Of note was that it was clear that the three sniper teams initially used in the ambush were a rouse.  The elite sniper team that killed Sgt Major Charles Orris and wounded several others was never discovered but interrogation of  wounded Taliban indicated the men were Chechens. They were unfortunately not found but it is clear they were extremely capable and well trained. 

SASR Security team advances to secure nearby house
Orris provides medical aid to injured civilian, despite danger nearby 
Despite their considerable losses, the Taliban continue to attack
CASEVAC arrives, but moments later ODA engaged by unknown sniper 
The SASR also are wounded by the unknown hostile Sniper
IED Trigger man spotted  just in time to be stopped.

Taliban 17
(Caused 3 x WIA and 1 KIA. This excludes the initial WIA's on mission start)

ISAF 20 
(Eliminated 3 x Enemy Sniper Teams, Extracted WIAs)

hard one for the insurgents.  The D12 allied sniper team with the Anti-Materiel Rifle simply dominated the game with 8 starting shots.  Every time that two man team fired, a unit of Taliban disappeared.  They quickly discovered the Taliban sniper teams, thrashed them and then proceeded to take out whatever blobs of men the Taliban managed to roll up on the random reinforcements table.  

There was an amazing number of Fog of War cards throwing all manner of carnage into the fray - the ISAF got amped up but lost air support, the Taliban got civilians, a technical and an IED as well as the near game winner - a pair of of offboard snipers dishing out 5D10 shots a turn.  They were untargettable and simply smashed Special Operations units including the mighty D12 SASR sniper teamWithout them the Taliban would've been stuck with 3 points, not 17! 

But that made up for the fact that the Taliban were unable to muster forces and what came often didnt activiate due to being Leaderless.

Need to try this scenario out some more, but we think that maybe making all the Taliban sniper teams D8 and maybe reducing the alied D12 unit to D10 might balance it.

All in all a great cinematic game with all the trappings of a Holywood war flick!

Up until the arrival of of the "real sniper", it was all going swimmingly well. The rush for a hotspot by Team Chuck (led by Charles Orris) paid off as it stopped from two insurgents popping up on the flank on future turns. The small two man SASR security team were also going to remove a hotspot but they were a turn late as a large mob of hopped up martyrs arrived so the Aussies had to retreat.

As Dead1 noted, the elite Barrett Team was simply devastating. It took out perhaps two dozen insurgents, most of the enemy sniper teams plus a technical. Only a run of bad dice against the enemy's off-board sniper saw them finally knocked out but only on the final turn.

This scenario truly showed the smart game mechanic for Fog of War cards. The lower the quality of the troop, the more likely they'll trigger it. Despite some of the cards having negative effects, there is plenty of good one that as seen, can change the game.
This makes up for the horde of D6 quality Taluban dying in droves!

Friday, 23 October 2015

X-Wing AAR: The Corvette Ballet

The CR90 Corvette sat patiently in the darkness. Having only seen combat twice in existence, one could imagine that its array of turbo lasers and quad cannons nearly forgotten their purpose. 
A coating of substance covered the topside of the ship. One would find on further investigation that it was dust.
Yes, dust, from lack of use as my model space ship had been barely used it in the year or so I've had it.
But grasping the new Imperial Raider in my excited hands, I had newfound reason to organise a big space battle of Fantasy Flight's dogfight game, X-Wing.

I found two volunteer commanders, each who would take control of either Imperials or Rebel Alliance.
Dead1 took command of the Rebels aboard the CR90, Dodonna's Pride. Luke Skywalker was also aboard, along with his Astromech buddy, R2-D2. The ship would be supported by two squads with three wings each, Red Squadron X-Wing and Bandit Squadron Z-95 Headhunters. 

Meanwhile, the Imperials would be commanded by Alpha Theta. The sleek Raider Instigator was carrying precious members, including the Sith Lord Darth Vader and tactical genius Grand Moff Tarkin.
The ship was also supported by two elements, a three piece squad of TIE Fighters piloted by Academy Pilots, and the more experienced Avenger Squadron TIE Interceptors.

The Mission
Both players had no experience fielding huge ships. So I decided to run a pitched battle with each side being deployed opposing corners. The huge ships' escort elements deployed as squads within Range 2 of the ships.
The mission would be won by destroying the other player's huge ship, regardless whether there were any escort ships surviving or not.

Special Rules
I included the following custom rules for this game.

Squad Manoeuvre: To speed up the game and concentrate on the huge shops, each squad of three fighters would only have a single manoeuvre dial. Upon revealing the dial, the player moves the middle fighter (squad leader), and the other two flanking fighters simply get dragged along. I understand that in a normal game of X-Wing that this is not always technically possible, but in larger games like this, it sped up the game and also made it more enjoyable for less experienced players.
To point is to have fun, right?

It did cause some irregularities during the game, such as doing a K-Turn but with one ship already being stressed (in which instances I gave it another stress and it rolled a red damage die).
Sometimes one of the ships would overlap and break formation. In this instance it skipped its actions as normal. On the next manoeuvre it snapped back into position.
Having an impartial Games Master (GM) made all this possible and easy for the players.

Random Initiative: As both huge ships had Pilot Skill 4 (as did the Red Squadron X-Wings), instead of one side having initiative always, this was randomly decided at the start of each turn! This added some uncertainty for both sides.

Space Debris: Another amendment was that the space debris would only affect the smaller ships as normal whilst huge ships simply ignored it (the were no asteroid like obstacles in this instance).

Screening: To push the idea of small ships screening the Corvettes, small ships could not fire on huge ships if they could legally shoot an enemy small ship instead.

Opening Moves
Both Corvettes advanced towards one another at the slowest possible speed, trying power up their systems (the slower the ship moves, the more energy it gets.Energy is a resource spent to power secondary ships, special effects and replenish shields).

The Imperial escorts split, the TIE Fighters rushed ahead while the Interceptors started a long sweeping flank. The Rebel escorts on the other hand stuck together, driving towards the TIE fighters.

The huge ships continued at a Jargor Snail's pace, gaining all the energy needed but unable to support their now distant escorts.

The first few rounds of combat were against the Imperial's favour, as both the X-Wings and Headhunters were lined up against the unsupported TIE Fighters. Even Dodonna's Pride could add  some of its firepower, though the secondary weapons' arcs of fire limited its impact.
One of the TIE Fighters exploded against the sheer power and the remaining two were also damaged. The reduced return fire from the Academy Pilots only managed to peel away some of the Headhunter's shields.

At this point the players started to get into grips with the pondering movement of the huge ships and also some of their strengths and weaknesses.
The CR90's primary weapon has unparalleled range of 3-5, and for an additional point of energy can throw an impressive 5 Firepower dice. Against TIE's and their Agility 3, at Ranges 4 to 5 the bonus defence dice make it very hard to hit, even with Luke Skywalker's ability to make another attack.
Meanwhile the Raider's primary weapon is Range is 2-4, but for an extra two energy, can fire twice.
The huge ships' firing arc were also very different from small ships and indeed one another. The CR90 preferred broadsides whilst the Raider's optimal arc was parallel to its forward diamond edges.

Into The Thick Of It
Whereas the first few turns were slow and uneventful, the following turns saw plenty of carnage. 
As the Raider finally reached combat, the TIE Fighters were on their last stand. Before being  destroyed by the combined Rebel fire, their point blank shooting saw one of the Red Squadron's X-Wings blow up. 
The Interceptors and the Instigator also added their weight and reduced Bandit Squadron to a single Headhunter. The commanders at this point seemed very concerned about every loss of their small ship, and I reminded them that the object was to destroy the opposing Huge Ship.
Dodonna's Pride was the first to shoot at its adversary and the result were severe, thanks to lock ins and Luke Skywalker. The entire lot of the Fore section's shields were broken through and the Ion Battery scored a critical hit. The damage would see the Raider gain one less Energy for tne rest of the battle.
It was here that the guns of the Huge Ships proved to be devastating, as such ships gain limited defence in terms of defense dice. Return fire from the Instigator was terrible and unlucky, as instead of locking in the Imperial's spent their action and Energy reserves into replenishing all of its shields. Suddenly the commanders didn't seemed so concerned about the smaller ships!

Both Huge Ships altered their course.  Dodonna's Pride banked to the side to reveal its broadside, the fire raking at the Instigator. The primary weapon and turbo lasers would strip the shields and the Ion Battery would cause a critical hit (each Ion token reduces the amount of Energy gained in the following turn). The Instigator's guns just failed to do any significant damage,however it initiated its Ionisation Reactor, causing damage to the nearby X-Wings.

Meanwhile Red Squadron and x were duking it out between the two Corvettes, slowly whittling each other down. Comm Boosters aboard the CR90 and Moff Tarkin on the Raider assisted their own escorts with special abilities (Comms remove all stress tokens and add a focus. Tarkin can add or remove a focus token from any nearby ship). However one of the Inyerceptors was obliterated when it was hit by the CR90's bulk!
The lone Headhunter shifted away from battle and was also nearly run over by the Raider, had it been a bit more aggresive (when a Huge Ship moves and overlaps any small or large ships, these ships are removed from the game regardless of their current health. The Huge a ship might suffer a single damage in return).

The Return of the Jedi
The Instigator just couldn't catch up, trying to allocate its limited Energy intake between replenishing shields, powering up its guns and trying to remove effects of various critical damage. As the CR90 still had most of its shields, Darth Vader's ability to cause critical damage (at the cost if two Damage to the Imperial ship) was pointless.
The small ships battled against one another, using the Huge Ships as cover, though one of the Interceptors was shot down.
In its aggresive approach the Rebel CR90 smashed into one of its escort ships, leaving Red Squadron to a single ship. 
With Skywalker heading up the guns, further broadsides from Dodonna's Pride crippled the Fore section. We presume that Darth Vader, who was aboard the Fore Section, escaped unseen in his Advanced Tie or else was wounded or floating through space frozen. Still, the Aft Section had two guns operational but limited energy.

The Imperials steered their broken ship in an attempt to ram the CR90 but the turning abilities of these things are limited. Dodonna's Pride continued pouring fire into the Aft of the Raider and in a matter of turns the Instigator was nothing more but a scorched hulk.

Revenge Of The Sith... Maybe Next Time!
The poor Raider, for its first foray into battle I was hoping a little more performance. Sloth like manoeuvres and bad dice saw it doomed. It's an aggresive beast and likes to get into mid range fast whilst the CR90 likes ranged combat.  
Dead1 managed his energy well and the first barrage into the Raider saw the Rebel Corvette jump to a significant advantage.

The smaller ships did little except smash each other, while some better tactics on both sides could have seen them try to navigate around enemy escorts and fire at the Huge Ships.

All in all, it was a good and cinematic battle to watch, even if this AAR does sound one sided. My special rules worked well (except for a few slight discrepancies or limitations) and helped speed the game up nicely and I'll use them again in similiar battles.

Both players have agreed to a rematch in the near future but will swap sides.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Rogue Trader - A Serving of Murder

I run a Warhammer 4o,ooo RPG, and recently I put my players through a "Who Dunnit" scenario I wrote.
It was an interesting albeit lengthy experience to organise. I had to create a sequence of events, scene of murder, suspect motives and make the mystery convoluted yet logical. The players would try to get as many clues as they could before determining and blaming their prime suspect.

Here's what happened:

By the end of the session, the players were stumped with each having their thoughts as to who the second murderer was. Having decided to give up and defer the investigation to the Arbites the session ended (past midnight, mind you!). Had any of six players had knowledge about the Ecclesiarchy they would have realised that the Confessor was dribbling made up crap. Here is the sequence of events, detailing how the murders occurred:

Monday, 9 March 2015

Dogs of War 2015

This weekend LGC hosted its fourth Flames of War tournament - Dogs of War.

For something different compared to the usual "bring a list and your army", players circulated around the five tables with preset missions and armies. The event lasted over a weekend but I was only present for one (my brother Dead1 took over for Sunday's final two games.

The organisers and people who built the terrain had done a fantastic job. I hadn't played Flames of War for a couple of years but fully painted models and great terrain made it a fun day.

I took control of the Yanks and had to push the Germans out of the town. I had Lieutenant Spiers sprint over to a pinned unit that under the scenario could only be unpinned by the officer.
A sniper shot rang out and killed Spiers before he could get there.
The rest of Easy Company slowly pushed through the German-infested town but the the rate of attrition was against the yanks. The arrival of Panthers did not help either!

A final and desperate push failed to gain any head way and the German held Foy.

5-2 Loss

Having never played this period, I found this battle very interesting. I took command of the Germans who defended the trenches. Both sides included field guns and behemoths of tanks as support.

The attacking British split into two flanks and my HMG nests whittled them down. The tanks blasted at one another but failed to cause any damage whatsoever.

One flank of British wasted its entire time either pinned or struggling to cut through the  barbed wire. The second flank managed to ultimately gap the wire and surge forward but Germans destroyed them. The scenario allows destroyed attackers to be redeployed and these continued what their former brothers in-arms failed to do. The British guns and tanks managed to take out one of the German trench guns and a small mortar team.
Even though the British finally managed to reach the German trench-lines, they ran out of time and the big push, at least in this sector, was called off.

4-3 Victory

In this scenario a massive horde of conscript Soviet infantry, along with two titanic land ships and ten T-26 tanks, swarmed at dug-in Japanese defenders. I took control of the Soviets but couldn't help but feel daunted on behalf of the Japanese.
Half of the Japanese force was in reserve, leaving only two infantry platoons and the Type 97 tanks guarding two objectives.

In the theory that the best form of defence is to attack, the Japanese tanks bravely drove towards the red horde and in their first salvo destroyed one of the two land ships. However the return fire during the next two turns destroyed the Japanese armour, their last couple of shots bailing out the remaining land ship.

My Soviets then threw themselves continually at the single Japanese infantry platoon on the closest objective. These Japanese  defenders managed to stave off five individual assaults, including two by the mass of T-26’s!
Although reinforcements trickled in and time was about to run out, the objective was just secured in time by my Soviets.

6:1 Victory

Dead1: "It started off badly for Germans - Fearless Veteran Fallschirmjager weren't able to beat up a small platoon of Confident Trained Brits who gutted a Fallschirmjager platoon.
And it got worse with Fallschirmjager units failing to unpin and then one of the reserve platoons losing half their number before entering the table due to casualties taken inbound. It took the Germans about 5 turns to make it about 18 inches to the objective at which point they had lost 4 platoons with fifth one reduced to two stands plus company HQ.
The Germans had one bit of luck - the 2 British Matildas refused to turn over for most of the game. By the time one finally started, the 4 remaining Fallschirmjager had managed to take the objective! Phew. Very historical result as the Fallschirmjager suffered catastrophic casualties in taking Crete."

4:3 Victory

Dead1: "It started off with a failed Vietnamese assault on a single American platoon that saw 27 stands wiped out by combined infantry and helicopter support.

Vietnamese then started building up their forces and reinforcing their own objective despite harrasment by UH-1B gunships and 105mm artillery.  The US infantry did nothing for most part until late in the game when a single American platoon moved towards the Vietnamese objective.

Any American casualties were negated by idiotic medic rules.  Being completely unable to hit any US infantry (8 inch range plus Americans were hit on 6s only) the Vietnamese focused on taking out the helicopters. Both gunships and an observation helicopter were shot down.  The Americans managed to gut some infantry and guns units but failed to make any serious inroads.

Essentially neither side had an incentive to move or do anything, just like the first time I played this scenario.  FOW Vietnam is awful to play.  In essence the myriad of special rules actualy accentuate the clumsier elements of the FOW rule set (essentiallyy pitting a near unkillable pure infantry company versus a pure infantry batallion with unlimited respawn), resulting in a game that is painful to play.  Yuck!  Shame as it was a pretty game.

Deadone thinks stuff like Vietnam is better handled by Force on Force which is designed around insurgency warfare."


Overall, Dead1 and I came third, tied with another player. Thanks to the organisers and sporting players for a good weekend.

For more information, pics and statistics can be found on Camp Cromwell's BlogSpot.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Rogue Trader - Vexing Issues

Rogue Trader is a Warhammer 4o,ooo inspired Role Playing Game by Fantasy Flight Games (FFG), one of a few different series.

FFG has very much managed to do what Games Workshop has failed in their normal gaming system - to really capture the gritty vibe of the grim darkness.

A couple of years ago I started a campaign which would span over a few Acts.
The first Act followed the exploits of heretics using Black Crusade rules, and plenty of havoc and mutation ensued over the next 12 months.

Act II sees a character swap into more loyal followers of the Imperium. It has now been going for 12 months, and with a few extra people it has really been a hoot. Act III will eventually tie up both the good and bad guys with some interesting results!

Here is a write up I've produced of the last four sessions we've held. Enjoy!