Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Newest Addition to my Miniatures Collection!!

I don't know if I would call her an addition to my Toy Soldier collection, but she's definitely going to be helping daddy with some terrain projects when she's old enough.  Under the guise of "arts and crafts" of course!
Our little one resting

Now WHO put that in there???

Hopefully this is a good enough reason for a small lack of postings!  Huzzah!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Crossfire Modifications for Modern Operations

Nick Grant was asking so I thought I would post my personal modifications for Arty Confliffe's Crossfire to make it more adaptable for 21st Century games.  (and late 20th century).

It's important to note that I've gotten alot of inspiration and the core of my ideas from Matakishi's Tea House (in my links section).  Matakishi is a huge Crossfire enthusiast and his works are both inspiring and a little genius.  I recommend anyone go there and check out his Counter-insurgency ops page.

I keep the regular mechanics of Crossfire the same as I like the system and feel it is a great representation of modern infantry combat.

Instead of playing at the Squad level, the basic unit of maneuver is a Fireteam (one half of a squad).  What's nice about this is now you can play Crossfire in 1:1 for many Western Armies as a fireteam is roughly 3 to 4 troops.  So 1 Fireteam is 4 dudes who I like to have bunched together or at about 1" apart to represent their cohesion (actually 1 base width since we don't use measurements or distances in Crossfire).  Players will note, as in Matakishi's changes, that now a platoon is roughly the size of a company when you use Fireteams as your basic unit of maneuver.  (3 squads times 2 fireteams is 6 manuever units, plus 2 weapons sections and command elements = 9 total units)

Summary:  Unit = Fireteam

Western Fireteams with M249 Minimis (US Soldiers affectionately call it a SAW or Squad Automatic Weapon) and Under barrel grenade launchers get 4 attack dice.

Summary:  Western Fireteams get 4 attack dice, Insurgent Fireteams get 3 dice, unless they have a light machine gun like an RPK, PKM, etc.  Then they get 4 dice.

Forming Crossfires::  The WWII Rules for forming crossfires still apply, however if there is radio communications between fireteams, then the Squad Leader or Platoon Leader attempting the Crossfire makes a roll.  Veteran troops roll a 3+ on a 1D6 to form a Crossfire.  If successful they get to fire, if not successful only the fire team in contact shoots.  Line of sight to the PL or Squad Leader is not necessary although LOS to the target obviously still is.

Summary:  Make a leadership check (same dice you'd use to rally from Pinned) to determine if the Squad Leader or Platoon Leader can form a Crossfire when elements do not have LOS to the leader stand.

(the leadership mods still apply, and also Western armies equipped with PAK-4 or other IR Lasers add 1 to the roll)

IED Attacks: IEDs attack in almost the same way as Artillery however prior to the game opening players should agree to the nature of the IED and also the trigger mechanism.  (Cell phone, trigger man w/ wire, pressure plate, etc)  Also the size of the IED and nature of it as well (Artillery shells?  metal gas tanks filled with explosives?  Or more sophisticated EFP weapons)

RPGs / Vehicles:  Someday I'll publish the values I use for Armor however suffice to say it's constantly changing.  For instance the other day I used a +/- 0 To Hit modifier for the RPGs and a penetration of only 1.  The Bradley's Armor was a 3 which arguably should have been higher thanks to the application of bolt-on shaped charge defeating Armor systems.  None of the RPGs that hit the Brad penetrated, which I think is fairly realistic.

ROE: A very important aspect of modern, counterinsurgency operations.  Requesting permission to engage and staying within the Rules of Engagement.  For instance I can tell you in Baghdad in 2004, tankers had to seek permission from their Battalion Commander to use their main guns in the city (Obviously post-invasion).  However coaxial and .50 calibers were authorized.  As the war progressed, I imagine that became even more restrictive.  After 2005 in Iraq, you needed a General Officer's permission to use 155mm Artillery in many cases!

I represent this by the following rule:  Vehicles such as Bradleys receive 5 fire dice which ignore all but the toughest cover modifiers, however they must seek permission to use the main gun.  Same with main battle tanks as well.  So if you want to use the on-board MGs that's fair game, but using heavy, vehicle mounted weapons requires a successful roll of 4+ on a 1D6.

These are my modifications.  Crossfire is so unique that it can host a huge amount of small adaptations and still keep the flavor of fast-moving and fluid infantry combat alive and well.  So there are any number of ways you can add modifications and still keep the system intact.  

Here is a wrap-up:

Unit: Fireteam
Size: 4 troops, roughly 1 base-length apart
Leadership: Squad leaders and Platoon Leader/Platoon Sergeant
Crossfires: Can be formed via radio on the same roll it takes your troops to recover from Pinned.
Insurgent Teams: Regularly get 3 dice but add a 4th 1D6 if they have an LMG
ROE: Large vehicles need permission to use their main-guns in all situations - same with Attack Aviation.
IEDs: Ensure everyone agrees to the size, scope, type, and firing mechanism.
IED attack / Placement:  

Crossfire moves around so much that pre-plotting IEDs might not be the way you want to go.  We like to use IEDs as an insurgent bonus attack, to be used whenever the insurgent player wants, wherever he wants.  Another key reason why the amount should be agreed upon before the game starts.  He will need a successful "trigger man" roll to kick it off though, something he could not accomplish last game.

remember too that if you don't have the necessary number of figures, you can always adjust as well.  In my games i use 3 US troops for a fireteam and 2 insurgent figures for an insurgent fireteam.  in this way i still have it aesthetically pleasing with a decent ratio but it's not critical to play.

Anyways, these are my humble ideas for Crossfire.  There are many adaptations and mine are by no means the best.  I just wanted an easy and quick way to use Arty Conliffe's Crossfire rules in a modern setting and to recreate some of the experiences of modern combat, especially in Iraq.  If you disagree with any of my findings or methodology, that is perfectly ok with me!  Please feel free to change any way you see fit.  That being said, if you have a better idea, definitely post it in the comments section as I would be happy to modify my rules for an idea that makes the game better.  All of us is smarter than some of us or one of us!


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Trouble in Tarmiyah, 2008: More Modern Crossfire!

The UAV shot I posted yesterday is part of the battle I am posting today.  This action was an American raid on a Sunni insurgent leader's house in Tarmiyah, Iraq, however things did not go off as planned for the Americans, as they disrupted a major gathering of terrorists prior to an operation.

Original plan was for 1st squad to establish blocking positions on the highway, 2nd squad to establish cordon positions around the house, and 3rd squad to go in "hard."

What ended up happening?  Well for starters none of the targets of the raid were even in the house and instead a security element ambushed 2nd squad as they were moving in their bradley IFV to surround the house.  Intense RPG and rifle fire erupted from the grove and 3rd squad was ambushed as they stormed the house by stay-behind security elements.

This battle didn't go well for the insurgents, who were only able to knock out 1 US fireteam in the end of the game.  The US player, through some sh*t hot rolling was able to establish the platoon headquarters and M240 section atop the house and pretty much owned the insurgents the whole time after.

Every attempt to form a crossfire via radio succeeded, whereas the insurgents never got to use their Improvised Explosive Devices.
Fireteam Alpha, 1st Squad on the road.  

Fireteam Bravo, 1st Squad, on the road south of the house

Second squad is hit, forcing a dismount.  The red die is my"NO FIRE" marker.  The building to the right is a mosque.  US Forces have specific requirements to not hit the mosque unless permission is forthcoming.

Second squad in a small tree grove, engaging insurgents in the palm grove and orchard.  Note the bent barrels!  The bane of the plastic toy soldier hobby!

View from the Predator on-station.  Note the Bradley squad mixing it up with the insurgents.  The target house is just off to the left, out of the pic

The grove... The target of the raid is seen in the lower left emerging from the grove and directing mortar fire.

Vicious close combat in the target house as third squad emerges victorious.

Second squad still holding on.  Pinned down but not knocked out!  The bradley soaked up every RPG thrown at it.

American PL and M240 have arrived.

Insurgent team occupies the Mosque to try and take out US Forces.  The PL immediately requests permission to engage targets.  They roll a 6...good bye terrorist a**holes!

US Fireteam in the mosque.  This close combat didn't last long either.

US Forces engaging the insurgent cadre in the palm grove.  The battle is almost finished.  The US Player lost 1 fireteam's worth of troops as they entered the grove and were ambushed by an insurgent fireteam.  The guys in this pic are mopping up.

Shot from the UAV shows the mortar team but no more insurgents left at this point!

US PL still trying to get Attack Aviation (AH 64 APaches online) which would never show up...

The last insurgent fireteam...The raid HVI (high value individual) is on the right...
What an awesome game and if you look at yesterday's post, I had a little fun with powerpoint and made a fake Predator Feed screen complete with made-up telemetry data.  I am really going to use that technique from now on as it's a lot of fun.
Posted yesterday but I just couldn't help myself!!  It's that cool...

This game didn't see the use of all of the vehicles as the action was just too fast moving and there was literally so much cover that it was an infantry fight from the get go.  I also think the presence of the US Squad around teh Bradley protected it from more units throwing RPGs at it.

This battle saw the insurgents not prepared like my previous Crossfire action in Al Amarah, where the US barely won with heavy casualties.  In this instance, I diced for Insurgent starting positions and it made for a much more fluid game.

Rolling for Rules of Engagement and requesting permission to engage a mosque, as well as trying to form Crossfires via Radio (rollinga 4+) was alot of fun.  Same with requesting attack aviation.  More than likely, if we're talking about an operation in Tarmiyah and a major raid planned, Attack Aviation would already have been present.

Tons of fun!  Huzzah!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

More Modern Crossfire AWESOMENESS! UAV Shot

Ben from Ben's Soldiers...
This is for you.  I was trolling around the internet today and watching some devastating hellfire and 30mm attacks via Predator drones and Apache Gunships and thought up this all on my own.  It is UAV "footage" from a recent game I played showing the orchard and palm groves in back of the mosque during a US raid.  I hope you enjoy!
US Force in the top right move into position after stirring up the "hornet's nest" in Tarmiyah, Iraq.  Insurgent fireteams scramble into position to meet them.  Take note of the pickup truck loaded with weapons as well as all of the insurgents carrying weapons.  Target rich environment.  Attack Aviation has orders to support but to not shoot the mosque.
Since this was a small part of a much, much larger game, I'll let this image settle in and hopefully post pictures tomorrow.  I just thought this was a cool picture, which I will let speak for itself.



The game was set for a raid but rolling for Iraqi position setup, most of the troops, to include the target of the raid, started in defensive positions in back of the building.  As you can see from the orchard, a Bradley moving up into position makes heavy contact while 2nd platoon elements can be seen dismounting the Brad and also in the copse of trees next to it.  Out of the picture to the upper right there are blocking positions of humvees with fireteams who will eventually swing into action.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Task Force 24: A WWII South Pacific Naval Engagement

Just got my snazzy new Axis and Allies Naval Miniatures starter set in and immediately put them to work.  The mission was for an American Task Force built around a large, heavy cruiser, the USS Montpelier, to rendezvous with the Australian Navy's HMAS Nizam and conduct a sector patrol hunting for a "large" Japanese surface group with land-based bomber support.

Finding and killing this Japanese group was critical to supporting future Amphibious operations in this portion of the South Pacific....

The American Task Force - the USS San Diego in the foreground, with the Montpelier  behind her, and the venerable Destroyer, the USS Taylor behind the Montpelier.  

The HMAS Nizam is on station and has reached the rendezvous point.

Meanwhile the Japanese Heavy Cruiser, the Haguro steams at full speed with a host of other vessels, eager to do battle with the spotted enemy ships.

The Japanese force consisting of the Shigure and the Teretsuki both flanking the massive Haguro.  Picture taken from a  G4MI "Betty" patrol bomber...  They are to link up with the Submarine I-25 and begin their patrol.

Contact!  The Betty goes after the easy prey.  The Nizam steams its way towards the Americans but is caught by the Betty squadron.

UNBELIEVABLE!  Higher numbers are better in Axis and Allies.  6's are double hits.  4 and 5s are good hits.  As you can see, this roll achieves NO HITS for the Anti Aircraft round and the Betty charges in for the attack.

Lucky 6.  Torpedo attacks hit on only 6's but cause 2 hull points worth of damage.  In this instance, the HMAS Nizam only has 2 hull points of damage.  The war is over for her...

The Betty is RTB (return to base) to rearm

The American Task Force maneuvers to meet the Japanese 
Japanese head towards the Americans

The I-25 Submarine makes short work of the USS Taylor.  More allied steel is sent to the bottom and the Allies lost all of their anti submarine capability.  The I-25 can stalk at will now.

The Betty returns!  2 turns later and she is ready to attack the USS San Diego

This time though, she goes after the wrong ship and is aborted by AA fire.

an inconclusive round.  next turn would prove decisive

The Betty is eventually destroyed by accurate AA fire and alot of 6's

The USS San Diego and the Haguro trade broadsides, causing extensive damage to the San Diego and some hull damage to the Haguro.  The San Diego is destroyed and eventually sunk by the Haguro's secondary gunnery systems.  

While you cant see from the picture, the USS Montpelier takes on the 2 small Japanese destroyers and sinks both of them, but not before the Japanese "long lance" torpedo attacks cripple and destroy the Montpelier (the US flagship).  The battle ends with the Haguro and I-25 limping away, bruised but not beaten!

This is the first time in history I've played a naval miniatures game.  I know "hard core" naval gaming enthusiasts would probably scorn me playing the Axis and Allies Miniatures game, but I have to admit, this game was addictive, easy to play, and tons of fun.  The systems are easy with not too much book keeping or clutter.  Dave F once told me the trick with naval games is to not make them feel like micro armor games on larger, blue tables.  This game captures the feel of the naval battle and is sharp, as well as unforgiving!  In fact I can see the need to collect more miniatures because ships are regularly being sent to the bottom.

Here are a few tips if they break out this game at your local gaming club:

KEEP YOUR FORCES TOGETHER:  The whole idea of destroyers "screening" your force is only good if you have a large number of them and can afford losses.  Since my task force was so small, losing the Nizam meant I should have consolidated and kept everyone together.  The USS Taylor went after the I-25 and was subsequently sunk.

IF YOU CAN MAKE SMOKE - DO IT TO CONCEAL WEAKER SHIPS:  Would have been great for my 2 small Japanese destroyers to escape the USS Montpelier's revenge!

STAGGER LAND-BASED BOMBERS:  Land based aircraft take an entire turn to refit so if you have more than 1, resist the urge to use a huge wave of bombers in 1 turn and ensure you have continuous coverage of aircraft.  In this way, you keep the pressure on the other guy.

DONT USE AIRCRAFT AGAINST HUGE SHIPS:  They have an awesome amount of Anti Aircraft firepower and can bring down your planes in the blink of an eye.  Go after the smaller ships that your opponent needs to take out subs, etc.

All in all, the game was very enjoyable and alot of fun.  Plus the miniatures come 5 random minis to a box and you have to collect them.  So that makes the game even more fun.  I have Italians, French, a few German, and a bunch more British and Japanese so I'm well on my way.  This game is appealing because you don't need alot of terrain and the miniatures are relatively inexpensive.  I'm sold.  Huzzah!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

NVA & US Stands, Ia Drang, 1965

Well there you have it.  The first-run of my LZ Xray project has been posted.  Here is a "stand" of US Aero Rifles (1st Platoon, B Co, 1-7 Cav) and an NVA Regulars stand for the Battle of Landing Zone X-Ray.  These stands will adequately represent squads for Vietnam Crossfire or Platoons for Cold War Commander.  (They are actually being painted up for a large Cold War Commander game).

The GIs are Command Decision mini's and are actually, upon further inspection, US Marines from early in the war, circa Operation Starlight.

However the reader will have to excuse the rough kit and "pretend" they are wearing US Army kit.

That being said, the large, yellow patches painted on their arms should help with your visualization efforts!

The NVA are painted in the old GW Graveyard Earth, which is my favorite drab-khaki color for totalitarian armies.  The special helmets are painted folk-art "ivy green" or some shade like that, that was purchased years ago specifically for their helmets!

So for the American player - 1 stand down, about 20 more to go.  For the NVA player, 1 stand down, about 51 more to go!!!!!!  Huzzah!
The stand looks nice - wasn't easy to get that effect either!  glue sand down, then paint black, then drybrush a few different shades...and on and on and on

Nice shot

THey are wearing marine kit but that's ok - everyone gets the idea

Hardened regulars from the PAVN...

I actually like the dynamic poses with the CD modern minis.

Here they are, fanatically charging towards American M-60s!

I will experiment with different khakis but overall I like this color.