Wargaming in the Pandemic – Playing Nightfighter over Zoom

As we currently have no meetings and gathering indoors is not possible, we have been starved of our wargames for 2 months!

We tried a game of GMT’s Nightfighter over Zoom.  The game uses some house scenarios that allow multiple players on the German side.  The main game map is enlarged and uses miniatures to substitute for counters.

There were four Ju88C-6 night fighters patrolling to intercept bombers over the targets.  These could be coned by the searchlights on the ground, spotted by the onboard radar, or spotted visually.

Here is the hidden umpire map showing the Lancaster position at close of play:

We played until a Lancaster was shot down.  Mark shot down ‘E for East’ after a four move duel.  The bomber spotted him before he attacked and got two rounds of fire, but failed to score a hit.

The Ju88 missed on the first pass from a poor position, then scored heavy damage on the second pass.

The Ju-88 mis-timed the third pass, but finished the target off on the final pass.

Sean had meanwhile homed in on a bomber with one of his Ju-88s, but ran out of time to shoot it down.

This was the game board at close of play:

A scan of the battle map was shared on Zoom with the players and annotated with the fighter positions, radar sightings and searchlight spots.

Game play is slowed, as moves have to be described sequentially, so the game would have worked faster with less planes controlled by one player with hindsight, but the board game hex playing surface does make a game over Zoom possible!  We may give it another go having worked out the snags.

Painting 6mm Romans

New(ish) member Mark2 shows us how he paints his little fellas…

I’ve recently started playing Field of Glory at the club and decided to purchase a 6mm late Roman Army, never owned a Roman army but I have dabbled with late western Roman reenactment and enjoy this period. After consulting the FoG ‘Legions Triumphant’ army list, I picked a Dominate army (3rd to 5th century). Bought my figures from Baccus, they have a good range of late Roman and allies to pick from, the whole army cost around £90. Bases where purchased from Warbases and I used a mixture of Citadel and Vallejo paints, plus the Baccus basing kit.

Baccus figures are pretty chunky for 6mm and have quite a bit of detail, after consulting with some experienced 6mm painters at the club I decided to start with a black undercoat and work up from this, dry brushing light/bold colours to accentuate the detail, finally picking out detail such as weapons, helmets and banners. It’s important to use lighter or bolder colours at this scale, without this figures tend to look like a dark blob on the table. The black undercoat acts as shade/black line effect. The trick here is to ’trick’ the eye, with the aim of producing hopefully decent looking figures on a tabletop battlefield.

These figures are Baccus late roman with helm, I’m using them for my Auxilia palatina. In a Dominate army these troops were usually deployed as medium infantry but where also used as heavy infantry. I believe this was to fill gaps in the legions which were becoming a little more scarce during this time. I’ll be basing the auxilia on a FoG 15mm medium infantry base (40x30mm) but will pack the troops together in the style of heavy infantry. The figures come in fours and I use 16 per base, two lines of eight, that’s about as many as you can get across a stand this size using Baccus.

These figures where tacked to temporary painting bases, I usually permanently base before painting if I can, but didn’t fancy painting these guys when they are so closely packed together. I tack using a small blob of super glue as it’s easy to break off when you’re ready to base.

I base coat using a black acrylic spray, I find cheaper car sprays work well with metal figures, not to be used with plastics. It’s a messy job, but you can cover a whole army fairly quickly. I tend to undercoat in chunks, usually around 4 units at a time.

I begin by dry brushing the main colour, for the auxilia it’s their tunic, which I have painted using Citadel Lothern Blue, a bright powder like blue. I chose this colour as I have seen artists impressions using blue and it plausible that it may have been used. I dry brush with one of my 0 size brushes that has seen better days, you can purchase dry brushes but they tend to be on the large size and you need a relatively small brush for this scale. Dry brushing involves removing moisture from the brush by sweeping it across some kitchen role or the like and then lightly brushing across the area you want to paint, at a 45 degree angle if possible. This technique highlights raised detail and leaves recessed areas darker, giving a fairly good and realistic contrast, I find it works really well at this scale. I don’t tend to dry brush at larger scales as I prefer to wash and layer, however this is a quick and effective way to paint 6mm armies. You need to be careful not to contaminate other parts of the figure, such as the spear, shield and forearms, but this is relatively easy with some steady sweeps of your brush, any miss-haps can be blacked over.

Once I’ve completed the main colour I move on to the ‘large’ peripheries, in this case the shield (Vallejo Scarlet). Note that I am not dry brushing here but applying colour to the front of the shield leaving the middle and rear black, the same technique is also used with the spear (Vallejo Beige Brown), helmet (Citadel Mithril Silver) and flesh (Vallejo Flat Flesh), more on this in a moment.
Fourth picture – helmet, spear.

Before moving on the next stage, now is a good time to check for any contamination, such as tunic colour on flesh or weapon areas by touching up with some black, this sounds fiddly but it’s worth doing and doesn’t take long at all. I spend about 5 minutes per unit, the auxilia have eight stands with 16 figures on each so it gives you an idea of what I mean by not taking up much time.

I now move on to the flesh, hands and face in the case of these figures. As I mentioned above, Baccus are quite detailed for 6mm, so need a little care and attention when doing the Faces. I use a three spot method, one at the mid-top of the face and two below, left and right, this creates a face rather than a flesh coloured blob (at least that’s the theory). I’ve found the Baccus figures do have different faces, some work well with three dots others are better with two, this can only be about casting variations. Remember the effect works at battlefield level, on the table top, not close up. Next is to add any metal colours, I used Citadel Mithril Silver for the helmets, spear tips and shield boss. Gold (Vallejo Brass) for the standard, instrument and helms for the officer, musician and standard bearer. I use the same technique described above, making sure to pick out highlights and leave those in shade black. After this it’s the spear poles and then onto shield detail (see below). I also apply paint to the leggings at this point (Vallejo Pale Sand).

I’ve chosen to add a pattern to the shield, I’ve done this as it adds a little more detail to the figures and helps to catch the eye, really important at this scale. I’ve used Vallejo white, note that there are two units both with differing patterns. I’ve done this based on research carried out about the period, which indicates that Roman armies of this time were subject to more barbarian influence.

Finally the base materials are applied, basing is important at all scales, for 6mm it’s really important as it helps to bring your units to life. Again, brighter colours should be used for same reasons described above. I’ve chosen to use the Baccus basing system, which involves applying fine grade sand using PVA glue, washing the sand with a light brown ink and then dry brushing three progressively lighter sand colours over the dry wash. Don’t worry about hiding the figures’ stands at the moment, this comes next. Once the dry brushing is complete, you add the grass, this is done using a small plastic device called an Uff Puff. It’s best described as a plastic bellows, which you fill with grass and then apply the grass over the base, this means that the grass is more likely to stand up, and less likely to lie flat or clump. So, water down a little PVA apply around the figures’ base and hey presto you have some grass and no step showing from the figures’ base. Finally I paint the edges of the base Citadel Moot Green. I’ve also included some of my archers and cavalry, these were done without using temporary panting bases and there’s more space between these figures. I have also added grass between each figure. So that’s it, I hope this has been helpful, I am also working on a 6mm Spanish Peninsular army and hope to share some photos of these in the not too distant future.

Answers to Quiz 27th May

1..  Churchill (tank is of North Irish Horse in Italy 1944)Renault Char B1 bis, Char B acceptable (tank at Musée des Blindés at Saumur)

2. 1870 – Sedan

3.  Avro Lancaster – Avro Lincoln

4.  Boromir – Faramir and the Rangers of Ithilien

5.  1814 – Battle of Bladensburg

The end of the war in Europe allowed Britain to send a force of Peninsula veterans to America to put an end to what up to this point had been a backwater conflict.  They routed the US force, which was mainly composed of militia and added to its disgrace by fleeing right through the capital.  The fire-raising in Washington was a direct retaliation for the complete destruction of the settlement of Port Dover by US forces in Canada a few months earlier.

6.  HMS Vindictive – Acting Captain Alfred Carpenter or Able Seaman Albert (Edward) McKenzie

7.  122AD (72-172AD acceptable) – Emperor Pius Antoninus (the Antonine Wall)

The earliest known military presence at Chesters Fort, the Bath House of which is pictured above, was a wing of cavalry, ala Augusta ob virtutem appellata (“named Augusta because of its valour”).  Infantry Cohors I Delmatarum, from Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Cohors I Vangionum from Upper Rhineland in Germany were also stationed here. 

The Antonine Wall was begun in 142, took 8 years to build and was abandoned only 12 years later – Caledonians were just too hard to control!

8.  Guernica (the canvas is now in the Reina Sofia Gallery in Madrid) – Condor Legion

9.  Jerusalem – The 3rd Crusade was launched with the aim of recovering the city for the Kingdom of Jerusalem

The hero of the film, Balian of Ibelin did command the defence against Salah ad-Din in the siege.  However, Balian was not a virtuous blacksmith from France!  He was the legitimate third son of a knight of French descent from the County of Jaffa, inherited his title as Lord of Ibelin in 1170 from his father and was in his late forties in 1187.  He died in 1193 and was a major power-broker and political operator in the region, with a role similar to Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, in the Wars of the Roses.

10.  Gettysburg – Major General Commanding George Gordon Meade

11.  秦始皇帝 pronounced Qin Shi Huangdi, meaning Emperor Qin (I) – 匈奴 pronounced Xiongnu or Hsiung-nu in DBM army lists!

12.  Hamburger/Burger – Hardtack (one pound a day) or Small Beer (one gallon a day – thin with low alcohol content – just enough to prevent bacteria growth – water would have quickly become full of bacteria on a voyage)

Hardtack also known as ship’s biscuit and occasionally as brewis, cabin bread, pilot bread, sea biscuit, soda crackers, sea bread (as rations for sailors)

Society Quiz 27th May

Here is another virtual quiz for you to try.

Follow the link at the end for the answers.

  1. Name the Prime Minister the tank type in picture 01 is named after?  For a bonus point name the type of tank you can see in the picture 02.
    Picture 01

    Picture 02
  2. In which year did Emperor Napoleon III declare war on Prussia?  For a bonus point name the climactic battle of the initial campaign at which the newly appointed French commander, General Ducrot, summed up the tactical situation as ‘Nous sommes dans un pot de chambre, et nous y serons emmerdés’ (“We are in a chamber pot, and we’re going to be shit on”)
  3. What is the name of the famous WW2 bomber in picture 03?  For a bonus point name its less famous successor in the picture 04.
    Picture 03

    Picture 04
  4. Name the son of the last Steward of Gondor (as played by Sean Bean) who was killed by Uruk-Hai.  For a bonus point name his brother and the part of Gondor the Rangers he commanded were named after.
  5. In what year did the British Army set fire to all of the government buildings in Washington DC, including the presidential mansion (now the White House), during the War of 1812?  For a bonus point name the catastrophic defeat suffered by the American Army that led to the capture of Washington.
  6. Our 2018 show game was ‘twisting the dragon’s tail’ featuring the Royal Navy assault on the Zeebrugge Mole in 1918.  What was the name of the cruiser that was the centre-piece of the action?  For a bonus point name either of the members of her crew who won Victoria Crosses in the action in pictures 05 and 06.
    Picture 05

    Picture 06
  7. In which year did construction begin on Hadrian’s Wall?  Answers within 50 years will be acceptable (picture 07 is the bathhouse at Chesters Fort).  For a bonus point name the emperor who brought what is now southern Scotland briefly under Roman control and built a wall from the Forth to the Clyde.

    Picture 07
  8. The bombing of which Spanish Town in 1937 is depicted in picture 08 by Picasso?  For a bonus point name the unit responsible for the bombing.

    Picture 08
  9. The siege in 1187 of which city was featured in the semi-fictional 2005 epic, Kingdom of Heaven?  For a bonus point, what military campaign began in 1189 in response to the fall of the city?
  10. Which battle, fought in Pennsylvania in 1863 is famous for an infantry assault led by Major-General George Pickett, as depicted in picture 09?  For a bonus point name the commander of the Union Army in the battle as shown in picture 10.
    Picture 09

    Picture 10
  11. Who ordered the construction of the first Great Wall in China in 221BC?  For a bonus point what name were the nomadic tribal groups it was intended to keep out known by to the Chinese (the answer is not Mongols!).
  12. According to Jules (as played by Samuel L Jackson in Pulp Fiction), what is the cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast?  For a bonus point name the regulation food or drink of the Elizabethan Navy.

Click the link for the answers:

Answers to Quiz 27th May

Horsin’ Around

Andy goes equine.

Among my Mexican forces for the Maximillian Adventure I have some dismounted Irregular cavalry, to represent these as Mounted Infantry in “The Men Who Would Be Kings” games I wanted some rider-less horses. I eventually found some Sash & Sabre ACW Union horses (and holders) at Colonel Bill’s. Not ideal as they are uniformly equipped, but they’ll do for my purposes.

After cleaning up any vents and flash and washing in soapy water they were glued to 50mm x 25mm pill bases, 4Ground base render was used to build up the bases and they were undercoated with Halfords grey primer. The horses were painted black or various shades of brown, the latter with an Army Painter dark tone wash. Horse furniture, blankets and saddle rolls were painted a variety of Vallejo colours to give the impression of an irregular unit.

Bases were finished with Banshee brown and flocked, and then matt varnished.

ROMANES EUNT DOMUS: A game of Basic Impetus

Stephen gets impetuous…

I downloaded Basic Impetus yonks ago, when it was available as a free download.

Unfortunately it’s no longer available as a freebie because the publishers subsequently brought out a separate edition because it proved so popular as a game in its own right and not just as a stepping stone on to the full Impetus rules. After my recent game I think I may buy the bells-and-whistles published version because Basic Impetus is a great game.

I went with Romans, invading the Germans. The battlefield was set up with a river going across the middle, some woods either side of the river on one flank and an area of rocky ground on the other. The Romans lined up with their auxiliaries facing the wood, the cavalry and legionaries in the middle, and the artillery and archers on the left. Similarly, the Germans also lined up with their warbands in the middle. On their left they put their cavalry and some of their skirmisher archers, and on their right they had the rest of their skirmishers. The Roman tactic was to use their archers and artillery to engage the Germans.

The risk was the Germans would take up position along the river, meaning it would cause disruption to the Romans as they crossed. So the Romans chose to use the archers and artillery to draw the Germans across the river rather than just sit there taking all the hits. The Germans put most of their skirmishers on their left flank, to make their way through the woods and outflank the Romans. Both sides initially held their cavalry back to act as a reserve unit to exploit gaps.

The Germans did indeed move up to the river and take position along it. This was an understandable and obvious tactic. The Roman auxiliaries moved up using the woods as cover, trying to shield themselves from the German skirmishers. This was fine, but as soon as they cleared the woods and moved up to the river they would be exposed, and the German archers opened fire. The Romans were trying a similar tactic on the other flank – their archers moved up and engaged the German archers that had taken up position in some rocks, and the artillery fired at long range in an attempt to disrupt the German battle line. Neither had any effect (something that would continue throughout the game).

The Germans did indeed move up to the river and take position along it. This was an understandable and obvious tactic. The Roman auxiliaries moved up using the woods as cover, trying to shield themselves from the German skirmishers. This was fine, but as soon as they cleared the woods and moved up to the river they would be exposed, and the German archers opened fire.

The Romans were trying a similar tactic on the other flank – their archers moved up and engaged the German archers that had taken up position in some rocks, and the artillery fired at long range in an attempt to disrupt the German battle line. Neither had any effect (something that would continue throughout the game). The Roman artillery and archers continued their firing but were having little effect. Fortunately, neither were the German archers.

The auxiliaries had made good progress against the Germans – having advanced across the river and pushed their opposition back. It had come at a price, though, and the auxiliaries had taken damage in securing this bridgehead. Now it was up to the legionaries. With initiative finally going the Roman way, the legions splashed across the river and charged against the Germans! A shoving match ensued, with the Germans counter-attacking. But the Romans were winning and steadily pushing the Germans back.

There now came the chance for the auxiliaries to show their worth once more. Although they had taken damage and were no longer fresh, all that stood in front of them were the German cavalry, commanded by their general. If the auxiliaires could eliminate the cavalry and general then victory would go to the Romans. Fortunately, the cavalry had also taken some damage, but it had rallied and was no longer disrupted. Nevertheless, the auxiliaries formed up and they charged against them.

This would prove to be the decisive melee. In went the auxiliaries and they managed to destroy the German cavalry and with it the German general. Final victory went to the Romans who, though many of their units had taken damage, had not lost a single unit.

Mounted Legionnaires

Andy takes his brushes south of the border again.

One of the last units to be painted for my Maximilian Adventure collection is a unit of mounted French Foreign Legion. Mine came from Wargames Foundry, most are actually cavalry and have carbines rather than rifles, which gave me a thought.

In “The Men Who Would Be Kings”, a mounted Regular Infantry unit needs 12 figures, whilst a Regular Cavalry unit needs only 8. As I only had three with rifles, I decided to give most of them white trousers so they could be used as either Cavalry or Mounted Infantry, with 4 of the 12 with the red trousers used bythe Foreign Legion.

After cleaning up the models by removing any vents and lines, and washing in soapy water, the horses were stuck to 50mm x 25mm pill bases from Warbases, then built up with 4Ground base render and undercoated matt black.

The horse’s coats were painted a variety of browns, or black, apart from one which I decided to try painting as a grey, so this one had a coat of white paint followed by Light Grey applied with a stippling brush.

Horse furniture was black, saddle and saddle bags Saddle Brown, horse blanket Black Grey dry brushed Basalt Grey and cape London Grey dry brushed Light Grey. Bases were painted AP Banshee Brown and patches of flock applied with PVA glue.

The riders were also undercoated matt black, face and hands were base coated Brown Sand and top coated Medium Flesh. Tunics and lower Kepi Dark Blue with AP Blue wash, trousers either white or Flat Red, the latter with an AP Red wash. The upper part of the kepi was also Flat Red. Some of the riders had sombreros, painted various shades of brown or grey; others white kepi covers. Carbines and rifles have Beige Brown woodwork, Gun Metal Grey metalwork and German Camouflage Beige straps. Belts and scabbard were black.

I originally based my mounted figures for this period on 50mm round bases. These proved to be a bit of a bugger to store in the KR Multicase boxes I use. I also started using some rules where it would be useful to have multiple figures on a base. I looked around and found that Warbases do both mdf bases and movement trays to take them. They will also make custom movement trays to your own specification (they kindly made some for me for some Vikings for Dux Bellorum). So, I decided to change my basing strategy. I’ve mounted these (and a few others) on 50mm x 25mm pill bases. Here’s the old and new styles:

I’ve also bought some compatible movement trays, 120mm x 60mm, with four slots:

So all I’ve got to do now is rebase around 25 older models once Warbases reopen and I can get some more bases. ☹.
I think I’ll be using the same bases for my Dark Ages mounted so I can use the same figures for SAGA, Lion Rampant and Dux Bellorum, but I’ll need to get some customised bases the same size but with only three slots.

Answers to the MWS Quiz 13th May 2020

Fregatten Jylland

Here are the answers to our quiz from 13th May 2020, with some trivia associated with the answers:

1.  Stalingrad – Vasily (Grigoryevich) Zaytsev

Prior to 10 November 1942, Zaytsev killed 32 Axis soldiers with a standard-issue rifle. Between 10 November 1942 and 17 December 1942, during the Battle of Stalingrad, he killed 225 enemy soldiers, including 11 snipers

2.  Any of T-65B or X-wing or Starfighter – TIE Advanced (x1)

3.  Alexander III or Alexander the Great – Darius (III)

4.  1956 – MiG 15, but Gloster Meteor and MiG 17 also acceptable

5.  Denmark – Heligoland or Helgoland

Steam frigates Niels Juel and Jylland and the corvette Hejmdal defeated Austrian steam frigates, SMS Schwarzenberg and Radetzky, Prussian Aviso Preussischer Adler, Gunboats Blitz, Basilisk – the victorious HDMS Jylland is preserved as a museum ship at Ebeltoft and is pictured above.

6.  Yorktown – Comte de Rochambeau

7.  (Gaius) Julius Caesar – Pharnaces II or Pontus

Caesar’s letter was to the Senate according to Appian; Caesar was on a roll as Dictator for the year and having his second term as a Consul at the time.

8.  Marston Moor – Prince Rupert of the Rhine

9.  Vice-Admiral Sir David Beatty – HMS Caroline is the light cruiser (4th Light Cruiser Squadron in the action), HMS Indefatigable, HMS Queen Mary, HMS Invincible are the sunken Battlecruisers

Caroline fired two torpedoes at the close of the day action, which narrowly missed the Battleship Nassau.  She also narrowly avoided torpedoes fired by the German 6th and 9th Flotillas earlier in the action when 4th LCS counter-attacked them with gunfire.  She survived for many years as a drill ship before being renovated as a museum ship.

10.  1969 – Vought (or F4U) Corsair

11.  Charlton Heston – the Reconquista or Valencia

Rodrigo’s wife Jimena Díaz = Sophia Loren, almost certainly didn’t tie his corpse to a horse  to lead the army in battle when he died in 1099– a legend grew around this as she rode alongside his coffin on the journey to Burgos, where he was buried in the cathedral in 1102 – you can see what might well have been his sword, the Tizona, in the museum there.

12.  1974 – Henry William Paget, Earl or Lord Uxbridge, later 1st Marquess of Anglesey or Willem Frederik George Lodewijk, William, Prince of Orange – all variations are acceptable!

In a famous piece of understatement Uxbridge remarked “By God, sir, I’ve lost my leg!” — to which Wellington is reputed to have replied; “By God, sir, so you have!”

OUTREMER: Upon Yon Crossroads

I decided to have another game of Outremer, having really enjoyed the first one.

The game was set during the Baron’s War of Simon de Montfort. Rebels loyal to de Montfort were scouting ahead, unaware that men loyal to King Henry were doing the same. Ahead was a road junction – the winner would be the side that could control the junction after 8 turns (this was scenario #3 from the book).

The rebels were led by Sir Maddox Melior. Amongst his retinue he had two skilled crossbowmen – Beric Morris and ‘Big’ Eddie. This duo would prove invaluable.

Sir Maddox, Tankard, Beric, and Eddie

In charge of the king’s men was Sir Guy de Ferris. With him were a trio of archers and a motley selection of men-at-arms.

Sir Guy with Louis and Guy Cartwright

Sir Maddox, being a bit of a loner, sent his crossbowmen rushing forward along the edge of a wheat field. The two took up position behind a hedge overlooking the junction. Sir Maddox sent his spearmen down a lane, with a French sellsword (Roul Allaire) and a young archer (Gamal) making their way through the wheat.

Meanwhile, Sir Guy had ordered his archers forward, to skirt around the edge of a pond. Sir Guy led two of his men through the woods whilst the others made for the lane that ran alongside a travellers inn and down to the junction.

It was the two archers, Rowan Windrush and Derek the Eel, who opened hostilities. Seeing Sir Maddox’s spearmen coming down the lane they let fly. But no one was hit. Beric and Eddie saw the two archers and so loaded up their crossbows and shot back. Down went Rowan! This left Derek with a dilemma – whether to shoot back at Beric and Eddie or try to stop the spearmen.

Rowan goes down and Derek draws his bow

Quite unexpectedly it was Tankard Jenkins, a Welsh spearman and bondsman of Sir Maddox, who clambered over a hedge and plonked himself defiantly in the middle of the junction – more of a fingers-up at Sir Guy and his men than anything else.

Tankard Jenkins stands defiant

Sir Guy and the rest of his men met up on the road beside the inn. They couldn’t let the rebels hold on to the junction, but Beric and Eddie were in a strong position, and both were skilled with their crossbows. If they tried to rush the junction they may get cut down. So Jean Paul, a young and impressionable Frenchmen, climbed over a wall and made his way around the back of the inn to outflank the rebels. Guy Cartwright, with his whooping great two-handed sword, did similar, but made for the gate that led on to the junction.

Sir Guy’s men surround Sir Maddox at the junction

Sir Maddox’s spearmen had now come down to the junction. Hallet Adkin decided to distract Big Eddie by charging him. But Eddie was quick with his bow and as Hallet came across the field he was felled by an arrow.

Hallet Adkin foolishly runs forward

If the royalists were to win the day then they had to act quickly. Guy Cartwright climbed over the stone wall and waved his massive sword menacingly at Sir Maddox. But it was just bravado, since he lacked the courage to actually charge.

So it was down to Sir Guy to draw his sword and lunge forward for Sir Maddox!

Sir Maddox managed to fend the English knight off and with a flurry of blows Sir Guy was beaten. Just in time, Roul Allaire came to Sir Maddox’s defence to engage Guy Cartwright before he could attack Sir Maddox from behind.

Sir Maddox wounds Sir Guy

And down went Guy Cartwright as well and with it, the end of the game.

The rebels had won.

In Outremer, just because a figure is taken out, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are dead. An end of game roll is made to see what happened. Fortunately, Hallet Adkin only sustained a flesh wound and would live to fight again. The same could be said for Rowan and Will (another of Sir Guy’s men).Sir Guy himself had taken a bad wound to his leg which would mean that in future games he’d be at a disadvantage. Some of Sir Guy’s other men had also taken bad wounds and would also be hampered. Guy Cartwright, however, had been killed in the melee.

Down goes Sir Guy and Roul lays into Guy Cartwright

BLACK OPS – Battle Report

Stephen goes dark…

Black Ops is another Osprey game I bought when it came out but didn’t have a chance to play.

Once I had my copy and read it, I felt as if it had been mis-sold to me. The pre-launch blurb was all about futuristic stealth missions. And the cover art of the rules enforces that feeling.

However, once read, you can see the author is more aiming at contemporary special forces missions – SAS and Delta Force style anti-terrorist actions. Oh yes, there’s a brief bit on near future tech at the end, but you feel that’s been added solely as a bit of lip-service.

Maybe that’s why it stayed on the shelf for ages, unplayed.

However, I have now played it and I must say I thought it was a great game! I always wanted it to be more sci-fi, if I’m honest, but I didn’t let that stop me. How I rationalised it is that at this level of combat it will always come down to frightened men desperately trying to stay alive and eliminate the person trying to kill them. The battlefield tech is for the…well, battlefield.

So I decided the weapons were all relative. Whether you call it an assault rifle or a gauss carbine, or a LMG or an autolaser, who cares? Well, I don’t.

I decided the game board should be loaded with terrain. This creates a more tactical game, enhances the stealth nature of the rules, and cuts down firing lines. The scenario was simple, the humans had to break into a communications station, download some data, and get out.

What I liked the most about Black Ops is how the rules were geared to the setting. This, as you may have read in a previous review, was the main failing of Zona Alfa for me. Since Black Ops is about stealth missions then the rules must reflect that. And they do. You can either play against an opponent or you can play solo and you make rolls to see if the guards spot your troops and what they do. It worked really well.

My sci fi humans are all named after French philosophers and writers. Leading them was Foucault with Voltaire offering heavy support and Camus, Balzac, and Flaubert as back up. The cyborgs are all named after 70s and 80s computers. The venerable Dragon 32 was control with the ZX81 equipped with a heavy bolt gun and the Spectrum, C64, TI99, MSX, and CPC 464 also on patrol.

Turns are done by card activation (I like card activation, as any club member will tell you). Foucault with Camus and Flaubert made their way around the north of the compound with Balzac and Voltaire sneaking through the breaker’s yard.

Standing guard outside the comms bunker were the Sinclair duo – ZX81 and Spectrum. The rest of the ‘borgs wandered around. How the stealth and observation rules work is that if a model moves into a position where they could be seen a roll is made. This could be modified if there’s any gun fire, running, fighting, etc. If heard, the observer has a choice – they can either raise the alarm or take a shot. Once a guard has heard the enemy then they are under player control and no longer roll for their actions.

The humans moved up part of the way. To the north, Foucault, Flaubert, and Camus were held down as Dragon 32 and MSX kept pacing back and forth. They could have made a dash for it, but they might have been seen, so decided to be cautious and stay hidden.

Most of the cyborg guards seemed to be drifting toward the south, where Voltaire and Balzac were. It was proving hard for them to move up. It reached that point where any more movement may compromise the mission and so, deciding to take the fight to the borgs rather than the other way around, Balzac opened fire! Voltaire took his lead, and also let rip.

This fire drew the attention of the cyborgs. On their turn, they got to roll for observation and they were alerted by the firing. This drew the guards toward Voltaire and Balzac, allowing Foucault and co the chance to move up!

Amongst the trash the firefight hotted up. ZX81 went down (not for the first time) but TI99 returned fire. Dragon 32 dithered a bit, unsure whether to stay where he was or cross over to where the shooting was taking place. MSX was in position around some junk, and he was making it difficult for Foucault and the boys to sneak up to the comms bunker.

Meanwhile, the firefight with Voltaire and Balzac took a turn for the worse. Balzac went down under fire from TI99 and C64. Voltaire moved up, firing from the hip with his rail gun. C64 went down, with CPC464 close behind him. Foucault sneaked around behind some tires but was seen by MSX, who promptly started firing at the French linguist. He missed, and Foucault returned the gesture. Down went MSX.

The two sides now got stuck in to a fire fight. But due to cover no one was scoring any more hits. Foucault saw his chance, albeit a risky one. He moved around the side of the comms bunker and had to take the risk – a dash for the bunker doorway where he could deconstruct the cyborg data. Dragon 32 also took a risk and made a rush for Foulcault and the two became locked in close combat. Dragon 32 had the advantage on the first round by attacking Foucault from behind, but he failed to exploit this. Foucault turned to face his attacker and managed to take down the 8 bit monstrosity.

Success went to the humans.

I thought Black Ops was a great game. Loved it. The stealth rules work well, and so do the guard reaction rolls, without being too stodgy. The other mechanics are nice and simple and there are also lots of equipment options for specialists. I will definitely be playing this again.