Saturday, July 30, 2016

Thoughts on the Vietnam Project(s)

With my recent gaming experience using Two Hour Wargames' FNG rules, my interest in gaming Vietnam has dramatically increased.  I stopped at Half Price Books over the weekend and snagged three mass market paperbacks, two of which I had owned and read years ago.  The Village, by Bing West, is a great read about a Marine squad and their experiences within one village, and I was glad to buy it again for a penance.  I also picked up Inside Force Recon, a detailed look at some of the best operators in Vietnam, that starts well before Vietnam then delves into numerous stories of missions that involve Force Recon; this was also a title I owned some years ago.  The last title is The Proud Bastards, about a young Marine's journey from Parris Island to his severe wounding while serving in the 4th Marines.  The last title is another of a huge number of solid memoirs, although at times it is difficult to plow through as the author really gets you inside his head with long rambling trains of thought.  

I have always enjoyed small unit actions, which of course the Vietnam War has numerous examples far beyond reckoning.  And gaming actions described in books or movies is a great way to jump into a project.  I already have some painted Flames of War American infantry, and while I am waiting for Flashpoint to make some Khmer Rouge for my Koh Tang Island project, I am considering some other Vietnam diversions.

One diversion is something based around Go Tell the Spartans, a movie that is set during 1964.  An American advisory team, some Nung "regulars', and some local forces, facing off against some fairly experienced Viet Cong.  Without trying to buy too many buildings and trying to do the movie as is, I think I will use it more as an outline to replicate the forces and setting.  Flashpoint make a Montagnard patrol pack, that would work well for the local pro-government militia types or possibly the hired gun Nungs.  Some of the figures from the Flashpoint RFPF pack could be used for the Nungs as well (some of the figures are carrying AK-47s and M-16s).  The local force VC packs can be used as the Viet Cong of course.  Flashpoint will be making both a Free World fire-base and a CIDG camp bundle at some point, and I am thinking that there should be items in both bundles that might be cobbled together to suit a Muc Wa-type setting.  I already have those Eleven Tree Designs jungle buildings, and Sarissa make many more laser cut buildings for the Far East that includes a watch tower.

The American advisors would probably be best suited by using a mix of World War II figures and other suitable Nam figures, as most are carrying M1/M2 carbines or M3 grease guns with some wearing steel helmets and others with soft covers and boonie hats.  Flashpoint is going to make some CIDG/MIKE Force support figures and infantry with M2s.

Of course, once I develop terrain suitable for a Go Tell the Spartans inspired adventure, I should have enough to then delve into other Vietnam projects with little effort beyond figures.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

FNG - First Thoughts

Today I had the chance to try out FNG 2nd Tour, the Vietnam era rules from Two Hour Wargames.  I have been looking forward to trying these rules for some time, as they get a lot of mention on the Field of Fire Vietnam forum, especially from Garryowen (Tom).  Tom has invited me in the past to come game with his group on several occasions, but I could not make it work out schedule-wise, until today.

I will admit that I have read through both Nuts! and the Korean War supplement (entitled Fire in Korea), and was not impressed, mostly from a layout and rules flow viewpoint.  But having had a chance to push through a game of FNG, I feel like I have a good grasp of how this system of rules is supposed to work.  Tom had a nice QRS and turn sequence he shared, and that really helped.

Tom has quite a collection of miniatures (from several historical eras) and an awesome gaming area, and he had already set out the gaming table we would use before my arrival.  He went over the basic rules mechanics, and we jumped into playing.  Each side had four figures, with the Americans having a goal of moving towards the hooch from the jungle, and the North Vietnamese trying to keep the Americans away.  On the first turn I was able to force back one of Tom's troopers, but in return I lost one of my own.  On another turn we traded kills, leaving Tom with three remaining figures, and myself with only two, and one of Tom's figures was an M-79 grenadier, so I was usually outgunned when it came to figuring out reactions.  We circled around the rice paddies, and Tom made a dash towards my two remaining figures while they were both prone, but I won the activation the next turn and killed both the grenadier and leader, but at the expense of running out of ammo for both my figures.  Tom's remaining grunt gave it a go, killing one of my two figures, but after hunkering down, reloading, I was able to have my leader figure pop up, win the in sight test, and kill his last trooper.  To be honest, I thought he had me when he came after my prone troops, but two of his figures got caught in the open and that swung the balance towards the NVA.

I have skipped over many of the things that happened along the way, because the point of getting together was for me to learn the basic game skills.  After going through the pre-game need to knows, I felt like I was able to pick up the flow of the game, when to do in sight tests, and firing and reaction fairly well.  

While this isn't really a rules review, I will share that I did enjoy learning the core of FNG, and certainly want to keep gaming these rules to see how other mechanics play.  Now if Darby would just finish the third edition....

After the game we went to a local Vietnamese restaurant, which was quite good.  Sate is a spicy mother though, but my first 33 beer helped cool my throat a bit.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Slap Miniatures Global Defence Forces

Ground Zero Games, Slap Miniatures, Darkest Star Games, Ravenstar Studios
Some months ago I participated in a Kickstarter fundraiser for a company called Slap Miniatures.  They were offering a range of 15mm sci-fi figures in which each figure would be unique.  My level of support was rather small, just a squad of troops and a a weapons team.  I received my order from Slap this past week.

The figures are very nice.  The riflemen are carrying a scoped rifle with what appears an under-slung grenade launcher.  The figures are wearing helmets and a bit of what is probably meant to serve as ballistic armor.  Poses are widely varied, with standing, advancing, kneeling, and shooting all included.  One or two of the poses are a bit odd with how weapons are being held, and one pose in particular is standing with one hand practically holding his crotch - perhaps another weapon being held?  This is my rifle, this is my gun....

The proportions are superb, and casting is super clean.  The figures are cast with a round 13mm base that is probably large enough to forego any other basing needs, although I will be adding a Litko 15mm base to my grunts.

The weapons team has one figure I will not be using, and that is the assault trooper.  Looks a bit too much like fantasy sci-fi with his bladed weapon.  But as I was a Kickstarter supporter I did receive a couple of extra figures, including an extra machine-gunner, which will work nicely with the unit organization I came up with.  The weapons team also includes a rocket launcher, auto grenade launcher, a sniper, and a comm figure.  The comm figure will serve as the squad's CO, with the sniper as part of the squad HQ and the other weapons parsed out to the fire-teams.

Ground Zero Games, Slap Miniatures
I would offer two "complaints" - First, the figures are tiny compared to any other 15mm sci-fi range that I have seen on today's market.  The figures barely measure 15mm from sole to top of the helmet.  Therefore, they are practically unusable with any other figures being produced.  Having said that, it is actually refreshing to have a company do a bit of scale reversal.

The other complaint is retail cost.  A pack of thirty figures (each one unique) is $22.43, making each figure .75 cents!  That sort of price is more in line with the larger 18mm figures, not smaller 15mm figures.  However, based on the fact that one probably would not buy more than a pack of infantry or a pack of specialists, the one time hit is not as shocking to the wallet.  I would like to see Slap offer fire-team and squad sized packs as this would probably help overcome the sticker shock some may have with pricing structure.

These are fine figures, and once Slap comes out with an opposing force, figures that are probably worth the investment.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

DEVGRU - Other Uses

Mk. 14 EBR
Because I am an odd duck, and like to represent the non-mainstream forces, I was doing a bit of browsing over the weekend at some of the more obscure special forces who also use the same sort of weaponry (the HK-416, the Mk. 14 EBR, and the Mk. 46) that is portrayed on the Khurasan DEVGRU figures.  Starting with the HK-416, Wiki shows that there are several users for this assault rifle/carbine, including Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, and Turkey,   (there are many more users but these would be countries I would be interested in putting on the gaming table)  Okay, good start, but who uses the Mk. 46 or at least the M249 SAW and who also uses the HK-416?  A bit harder, but if I include the FN Minimi I was able to pare the list down to Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Serbia, and Slovakia.  Okay, then who also uses the Iveco LMV, which are essentially the Evil Bear Panthers I have?   That cuts the list down to Norway and Slovakia.  Okay, then who uses an enhanced battle rifle that looks similar to the Mk. 14.  None, really.  But this won't stop me from using the DEVGRU as Norwegian Marinejegerkommandoen or Forsvarets Spesialkommando, most likely the former as they have been involved in several operations in the Middle East, mainly Afghanistan and Somalia.  Okay, the MJK it is!

The MJK should work well as I have Somalis already from Flashpoint and of course some Somalian-like terrain.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Oscar-Sierra-Charlie - First Look

Recently I had placed an order with Evil Bear Wargames for a couple of their 15mm Panther vehicles.  In an effort to bulk up my order to a point where paying for shipping from the United Kingdom wasn't as much as one of the vehicles, I decided to also order their Oscar-Sierra-Charlie modern to near future skirmish rules, along with the card tin (click HERE for this combo deal).  The scale of these rules are basically fire-team to squad level, so while fairly comparable to Ambush Alley/Force on Force/Tomorrow's War in that respect, each figure in OSC actually has a bit more going on than in AA/FoF/TW.  To that end I decided to do a small play test using a DEVGRU fire-team and an equivalent points number of insurgents.  

A bit about the rules makeup - They are printed softbound in A5 booklet format, in color, and consist of fifty pages (not counting the cover).  The font is on the smaller side which means there is plenty of meat within.  There are a couple of short stories for flavor.  The rules are broken into several sections, covering turn sequence to missions to game rules to weapons to army building and more more as well.  There are a few diagrams of game play, but I did not find them to be overly helpful.  Weapons are listed by generic type (rifle, assault rifle, sniper rifle, etc.).  Weapons and armor are given a type rating, which helps with hitting/defensive power as well as ranges for weapons.  There are seemingly a lot of nuances within the rules, which will be covered during the play test.

First let's review unit generation.  Each level of figure (from civilians up to special forces) has a point value.  To that one adds weapons and armor, which also has a point value depending on type of weapon and type of armor selected.  Also, because commanders have an extra action each turn (more on actions below), commander figures cost twice their basic level.  So, let's take a swing at building a DEVGRU fire-team.

As these are the best of the best, they are rated as special forces (seven points per figure).  For this fire-team I wanted to include one figure with a underslung grenade launcher on his HK-416, one figure with an Mk. 46, and two figures carrying HK-416s, sans grenade launcher.  They will also have some sort of ballistic armor.  Assigning points to each figure, this is what the team comes out looking like:

Type Level Armor Weapon Points
Commander 7 B Assault Rifle/UGL 30
Rifleman 7 B Assault Rifle 15
Rifleman 7 B Assault Rifle 15
Mk. 46 7 B LMG 23

Four figures at 83 points.  The rules suggest that basic level games should be around the 75 point mark, so we are close enough for a basic level game.

Now, let's take a gander at the bad guys.  Their opponents are going to be a mix of militia with a smattering of seasoned soldiers in the mix.

Type Level Armor Weapon Points
Leader 4 Assault Rifle 13
Insurgent 4 Assault Rifle 9
Insurgent 4 LMG 17
Insurgent 4 RPG 12
Insurgent 3 Assault Rifle 8
Insurgent 3 Assault Rifle 8
Insurgent 3 Assault Rifle 8
Insurgent 3 Assault Rifle 8

Not sure how I did that, but I was able to match the point totals exactly on the first try.  It does look like it would be easy to tinker with forces by moving a figure up or down a level, so really matching points every game should not be a stretch to accomplish.  Also, notice the lack of extras such as grenades, etc., which are in the game but would increase the points greatly.  For my first walk through I wanted to keep it as simple as possible.

Now that I have my forces organized, next time we will push figures around the tabletop and talk about mechanics of the rules.
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