Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Adam- MARSOC Update

Adam has sent a whole host of pictures, along with his plans for what to do with his force. Additionally, he has provided some great MARSOC and Afghan Commando images.

Hi there, Adam here, back with an update finally.

I’ve got my awesome Eureka Afghan National Police minis and they look great. My initial plan is to take a couple of the guys with ‘Fidel’ (Actually called Ridgeway, and later patrol or Ranger) caps and turn them into berets. Mostly because Afghan Army Commandos look cooler! They could also use a few more random pouches and packs but I will green stuff them up. They will still have the Hungarian AMD’s, but I try to be less of a pedant these days. I’m not joking, really, I am trying! (What some may call an obsession for accuracy makes Adam our go to for firearms related questions. Which is probably not helping him be less of a pedant, but it gets our questions answered accurately!- Ed)

Thanks to Pooch I have a Ford Ranger to paint up like an ANA truck (Cheers mate!)

I plan on being able to field a force of three or four Marines and five or six ANA Commandos.

For my MARSOC operators, I can use some of my existing Marines, but I will certainly be taking the opportunity to give them a repaint with some Woodland Camo to match the ANA.

A full team is similar in size to an US Army Special Forces A team of twelve, and has similar training and capabilities. Lately they have mostly augmented SF on the Foreign Internal Defense mission in Afghanistan, training and mentoring ANA and ANP units. Like a lot of special operations forces they have used a lot of motorcycles and four wheel ATV’s to help with their tactical agility as well as hauling gear for long patrols.

One of my new minis is on an endure bike, with a headswap and woodland paintjob coming up.

Anyone interested in MARSOC should check out the upcoming Level Zero Heroes book and documentary. (which I really want a copy of!- Ed)

Next project will be a couple of ANP’s


Looking forward to seeing the beret equipped commandos! You have some great source material shots there- you are going to have to get out the greenstuff to make sure your marines have beards!

Monday, 28 April 2014

Peter Tann - Book Review Company Commander

Peter gave us an email about whether we would be interested to read some book reviews from him. Naturally we said yes, here is the first of what we hope will be a series of reviews from him.

Not surprisingly, the current conflict in Afghanistan has led to a large number of books being written  about the experience of operations there. The idea behind this post is to share my opinions on those that I have read and looking at how helpful they can be as a resource for a gamer looking to create scenarios for Skirmish Sangin. Before we start I should say that I am based in the UK, so the majority of what I have read covers British operations in Helmand since 2006. Hopefully, gamers based elsewhere will be encouraged to share their views on books covering their own armed forces' experiences.

I am going to kick off with Company Commander, written by Major Russell Lewis, MC. Lewis was a company commander in 2 Para in 2008 and the book is part journal, part reflection on his six month tour and the demands and challenges of leadership. The book (not surprisingly) focuses on the experiences of Russell and his company, and does not examine the wider context of Western involvement in Afghanistan.

I must say that I found this book very engaging. It is well-written, effectively conveying the intense pressure of COIN operations in the difficult conditions of an Afghan summer and a cagey population that has learnt that often 'facing both ways' is necessary for survival. It also gives a very good insight into the tough, often lonely, responsibilities of command. One example that really stood out was Lewis agonising over whether to call in a MEDEVAC helicopter for three soldiers critically wounded by a suicide bomber. Realising that this could be exactly what the Taliban were hoping he would do and that the LZ, whilst perfect for the helicopter, could not be fully secured, Lewis reluctantly orders the chopper to land at the fire base and that he will bring the soldiers there, even though the delay could be lethal. The soldiers subsequently died at the hospital at Camp Bastion, but the following day a patrol found signs of Taliban activity by the proposed LZ, including an RPGS warhead, vindicating Lewis' hard call.


How useful is the book as source material for Skirmish Sangin? Set as it is at company level, the larger actions are really beyond the scope of the game. For one 'platoon' level patrol, Lewis actually has upwards of 80 men out on the ground! However, there are many actions which can be broken down into smaller parts which are suitable. For example, Lewis often took a GPMG-heavy Fire Support Group with him on patrol - this often held a static position in a contact to support his manoeuvre elements, so could be considered off-table support. Another action involved searching for and discovering a weapons cache, a four-hour contact as the Paras made their way back to base, an evacuation of a non-battle casualty by Viking, contact on the vehicles, contact on the base, another casualty in the base, a (non-lethal) mine strike on the vehicles as they evacuated the two casualties to the LZ before finally getting them safely away in a helicopter which decided to risk the incoming fire to pick up the injured! Plenty of food for thought there, either as individual scenarios, or maybe even a different type of 'campaign' which links the events of this one battle into a series of smaller games.


Another aspect of the book is that it throws up many command decisions, which can also be recreated on the tabletop eg do you blast your way into that compound, all guns blazing on Attack State Red? On one patrol, this is exactly what the Paras did. The first two compounds they stormed proved to be empty, so Lewis orders that this be cancelled on the next compound searched. Once inside they discover 13 women and young children! Or do you open fire at the vehicle that is speeding towards your checkpoint? Making the right (or wrong!) decisions in these circumstances could be reflected in the victory points in the scenario, and random events could be introduced, triggered by a dice roll like criticals and fumbles, which the player has to react to.

Five major contacts are described, with useful sketch maps showing the rough layout of the ground and positions of both Taliban and Paras, as well as several smaller ones. One factor that really does emerge is the physically arduous nature of the climate; heat exhaustion really should be considered as a real possibility in a game, and the dreaded D&V as a very unpleasant event in a campaign which can seriously deplete unit strengths and activity!

Overall, I would thoroughly recommend this book. Even though set at company level, there is plenty of information that can, with a little imagination, be adapted for the lower level of Skirmish Sangin. I would also say that the book provides an excellent framework for a campaign, utilising the rules and guidance in Sangin Dispatches No. 1.


Tuesday, 22 April 2014

NATCON 2014, Christchurch, NZ

As I alluded to in my last post, I headed down to my home town of Christchurch to play a few games with the locals down there.

One of the things which I was really keen on was having some games with people that Colin and I had introduced to Sangin last year. I was incredibly fortunate to have guys like Rick and Simon around to play some games, both new-ish to Sangin, but they both were quickly able to pick up the rules and play their games. It was great to see so many people interested in our rules, and in Skirmish Gaming as a whole.

Nice neck of the woods isn't it?

There were some great games over the weekend, a highlight for me was seeing Rick's Taliban escaping off the board in the Advance to Contact scenario from Despatches 1, a possible lowlight was me attempting to do the same, and getting completly wiped out. In my defense, I was teaching Rick the game, so I was meant to be nice (that's a believable excuse for Rick smashing my poor Taliban right? definitely believable....)

Some of Rick's competant Taliban. Mine are not pictured for some reason....

One other perk of the weekend was talking through a few of the plans for the forthcoming year, and being able to show people the first of the scenarios and rules from the forthcoming Despatches II.

The Scenario is called Rook One Down, and takes the premise that a Blackhawk has gone down, leaving the pilots stranded on the ground in hostile territory. Luckily they have an Apache on station to help them out, and a reserve force of soldiers on their way. All they have to do is hold out until help comes!

Apache on station!

Apache... off station?

As you can see from this picture, the ISAF ran into a few issues- mainly the Apache got smacked by an RPG! All up it was a very tight game, although the ISAF were able to defend the helicopter, they took more than a few casualties, and lost not just the Blackhawk, but the Apache as well!

It was a great weekend, thank you to those who helped me, be it joining in with games, helping me out with terrain or even just talking through the ideas about the game. I really enjoyed it.

We will be back later this year Christchurch, you can count on it.


Wednesday, 16 April 2014


So we have been to SALUTE 2014 and what a time we had. Everything on this trip has gone well and we hope to have a few surprises for you all soon. Fingers crossed.

The man on the left of the picture is our very own Dougie, painter extraordinaire and general all round great guy, you were terrific dude. Fantastic on the day helper.
My sister-in-law Wai-lin and her daughter Tahira manned the shop, so it was a real family adventure.
We sold lots of books and demo'd the game all day long. Craig and I both lost out voices.

We also had a trip to Boving Tank Museum to check out all the Afghanistan vehicles as well as the other armour. It is well worth a visit.

We also saw this beasty the only working Tiger in the world. A very special thank you to the Bovington guys for taking pity on two Kiwis and letting us go and see the big cat, even though she wasn't on display that day.

Craig is here to show proportion, well thats the story he is telling. Bloody big is all I will say.
 So finally after much organisation we managed to get a rest and see the sites of Londinium.

So now of course we are looking forward to the 36 hour flight home in cattle class, the things we do for you. A massive thank you to everyone who made the UK trip so special.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Natcon 2014 in Christchurch

Colin and Craig are off in the motherland for Salute (their report is to come!), but all is not lost for those of us here in New Zealand.

I am off to Christchurch to take down a demo table of Skirmish Sangin. Luckily for me, I enlisted some local support to help show off the cool game that is Sangin.

Along with rulebooks, Despatches I and miniatures, I thought I would bring with me a mission, on debut from the forthcoming book Despatches II.

The mission is a cool one, and involves one of these....

Friendly little critter isn't it?

So come and say hello if you are a local Sangin player, and see one of the future scenarios in play!

As for those who are a bit too far away, you will be able to catch this new scenario in Despatches II, which we are planning to release later this year.....


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Taliban No.3

So eBob has created more sculptory goodness with Taliban No.3. A fine figure it is as well. Don't forget the full set of 4 new greens will be on display at SALUTE this weekend and in production just as soon as we are able.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Ray- Painting the 2nd REP

Ray is back, and having now got a whole lot of his French figures, has been hard at work painting some up to show off! And, given the nice chap that he is, he has shared a bit of his process on how he painted them.

I love that feeling you get when a new batch of figures arrives in the post. It’s like being kid at Christmas! Well a few weeks ago it felt like all of my Christmas’s had come at once. Pooch dropped of my French Foreign Legion figures over the weekend and a few days later I received the VAB and VBL which I had ordered from Gasoline. The biggest quandary was deciding what to start first.

In the end it wasn’t that hard a decision. The Eureka figures are so nice you just have to get stuck into them.

As figures go, Eureka's French are amongst the nicest I’ve seen. Like all Eureka stuff I’ve ordered, the castings are crisp, free of flash and mould lines and need an absolute minimum of preparation before painting.

I decided a while ago that I didn’t want to paint these guys in the usual desert camouflage but in something a little more striking. From what I have seen in photos, while the desert camouflage has been worn in Afghanistan, it is much more common to see the Legion wearing the European theatre camouflage so that’s what I plumped for.

2nd REP wearing European theatre camo

Painting camouflage has never really been my strong point. I can never really seem to get it to a stage where I’m completely happy with the finished result. In saying that, I think these guys have turned out as well as I could have hoped. Camouflage is awkward stuff to paint. At 28mm, if you make the colours authentic, they tend to blend into one another and the effect gets lost. So from the outset I wanted to slightly over emphasise the colours to make the contrast more apparent. You can make your own mind up about the finished article. At this stage I should also apologise for the shots. They were all taken on my dining room table, hence the reason for the dodgy tablecloth.(It makes for a lovely base cloth!- Ed)

On to the painting:

Stage 1.
After undercoating the figures black. I started with the Flesh:

Caucasian skin: Basecoat of GW Ratskin Flesh with a wash of GW Reikland Flesh Shade then highlighted with the basecoat lightened with a little white. The darker skin is Vallejo Leather Brown , highlighted with Vallejo saddle Brown.

I’m never comfortable painting eyes at this scale. I invariably end up with my grizzled veteran looking like a rabbit caught in the headlights. So I haven’t attempted to paint the eyes on most of these guys, with a couple of exceptions.

Stage 1 completed!

Stage 2.
Onto the uniform. The basecoat is Vallejo German Camouflage Beige with a wash of GW Aggrax Earthshade and highlighted as above with the basecoat and a little white added. The camouflage green is GW Castellan Green highlighted with Vallejo light olive, Brown is Vallejo leather brown and the black is (funnily enough) Black! I then went back over the basecoat areas and picked them out in basecoat and white to add to the contrast.

The webbing is GW Castellan Green highlighted with a little white mixed in with the green. For the body armour on the beret wearing figures I used Vallejo Khaki Grey. On the heavier equipped guys I used Castellan Green.

Stage 2 finished

The finishing touch is the tricolour emblem on the left shoulder of each figure which I think sets them off perfectly. I then did the bases which are sand painted with Dulux Hokitika (house paint from NZ-Ed) and washed with Aggrax Earthshade. Once this dries I highlight it with off white and add some tufts and static grass.

So that’s it, first batch done and I’m pleased with how they turned out. I’ve already ordered more from Eureka and have enough to do the rest of the Platoon now. You may also notice the VAB in the background of the last shot. I’ll go into that and it’s kid brother the VBL in the next article.

En avant mes amis!

For someone who feels that camo is not their strongpoint, those French are looking really nice! You should be happy with how they look, the balance between the skin tones and the camo has come out really well. As for the VAB and VBL? I am incredibly excited to see them, the Gasoline Kits are just super aren't they?

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Tom- Victoria Crosses, The Way They Are Won

Tom is back, here to talk about how Willia Apiata won his VC, which was the defining start for his NZSAS force for Armies of Afghanistan.

The Action that saw Bill Henry Apiata win his Victoria Cross happened while his troop was on patrol in rural Afghanistan. The NZSAS had been using Dumvees (stripped down Humvees- Ed) for long range patrolling, at times up to 6 weeks being resupplied by helicopter. This allowed the troop on patrol to move further and faster than the local Taliban could keep tabs on and so they were able to make contact and establish relationships with villages and settlements without Taliban interference.

On this particular occasion the NZSAS were 2 weeks into a patrol and had successfully kept ahead of any Taliban. They were beginning to gather some vital intelligence for the ISAF forces when the evening saw them approach a remote hamlet. The Troop Commander led a couple of vehicles from the patrol and made contact with the local elders and set up a meeting for the next day. The men who went to the village had heard this may be a Taliban friendly village, but otherwise were received in a friendly enough manner.

While contact was being made the rest of the troop were organising the Lay Up Position (defensive position for the night- Ed) and preparing for the night. The place they decided to rest up in was on a rise and split the troop between the two sides of the small ridgeline. Apiata’s dumvee Almighty was closest to the village and a watercourse that provided a covered approach for any attackers.

The night came, guards were set and the troop settled in to get some much needed rest. The first thing anyone new about the attack was that Apiata’s Dumvee exploded. Immediately the realisation was that it had been struck by an RPG. Then all hell broke loose as small arms opened up from the cover of the watercourse. Apiata who had been asleep on the bonnet woke unharmed but several feet from where he went to sleep and assessed the situation. His driver was badly wounded and the other trooper was clambering out of the Dumvee. Taking cover and checking his injured comrade Apiata realised the wound was extremely serious and unless he was attended to quickly it would be fatal.

Apiata’s dumvee was alight and being the only source of light became a bullet magnet for the Taliban. Incoming fire was relentless. As the rest of the troop (half of the patrol was still on the other side of the rise and not in a supporting position) started to return fire the decision was made and Apiata hoisted his comrade onto his back and the three of them made the 70m run up hill to the medic and the safety of the rest of the troop. There was no dodging or weaving – it was a flat out run under heavy enemy fire (serpentine is just for the movies kids -Ed). They made it and the medic got to work. Apiata got his hands on a GPMG and joined the return fire. By this time the .50s were up and running and the rest of the patrol was in position, and they lit up the sky. Accounts tell of the enemy fire dropping off quickly as they withdrew taking dead and wounded with them.

The medic worked miracles and saved the injured man. Help was still at least 3 hours away and the injuries were serious. The advanced training of the medic saved soldiers lives that night.

In the morning there was little left of the smouldering Dumvee. The potential for a disaster was there – but the men of the NZSAS were cool under fire, straight thinking and aggressive. The action lasted a little over 30 minutes and in that time the world gained a reluctant hero, Bill Henry Apiata VC.

And here is Tom's version of Willie, all painted up

Looking great Tom! Now we just need Almighty to turn up right? I know that the next thing on your painting table is going to be cool as, I look forward to seeing it!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Taliban No.2

So eBob has sent us through the latest images of Taliban No.2 and doesn't he just look great. This time its the RPG guy. Instead of the usual kneeling or standing firing, this guy is bossing some lackey about and giving directions. All great ideas from eBob.

 I am really pleased with this figure and I hope you guys like it too.

At this point we are not sure when we will get these in production, all we can say is soon as we wait with baited breath for eBob to complete the final two.

Fingers crossed you'll be able to come and eyeball the greens if you attend SALUTE and visit our stand. We will also be running a participation game, so if you have any questions or would just like to come and play come and find us out.