Monday, 17 December 2018

Albedo ACP164 Introductory Scenario

With my EDF and ILR squads painted and the TerraBlock terrain done its time to try and get the Introductory Scenario played through before the dining table has to be cleared for Christmas.  ILR fighting patrol (6 pax)  coming in from top left, EDF defenders (4 pax) from bottom right. The three coloured decks are Activation (blue), ILR (yellow), EDF (red).

EDF critter moves past a back door, no rabbits in sight yet.

Half way through the first turn and both sides are on the board creeping round the sides of their nearest building. Being me I've converted the rules to 1" square grid play, and using the nice 2ft x 2ft battle map I got at Games Expo.

ILR ready to round the corner, fireteam OC and the LMG critter.

ILR round the other side of the building - dice are activation numbers.

Friday, 14 December 2018

Skirmish Rules Testing: Summary

Having got the end of of my mammoth skirmish rules test I thought it would be useful to do a summary and index piece so that people can get a quick heads up on my view of them all (and this is of course all just my view based on what I want from a game, your mileage my vary).  I've also pulled together what a Frankenstein set might be like - pulling together the best bits from each - and finally on my thoughts on my own set. I've also added Skirmish Sangin and 7TV into the mix, which whilst not in this mega-test I have also played in the recent past.

Reviews Summary

  • Pros: Really good set, all on one sheet A4. Covers most the bases.
  • Cons: Activation not ideal

Snapshot 1/10
  • Cons: Too lethal, no cover or spot

  • Pros: Surprisingly good for age. Good morale.
  • Cons: Dreadful activation. No spotting.

  • Pros: Good NPC AI once spotted. Nice campiagn/pre-game/scenarios.
  • Cons: Unclear. Odd inverse activation.

Black Ops 6/10
  • Pros: Nice guard AI.
  • Cons: Noise disappointing. Surprisingly pedestrian for a "big name" release (or because of?)

FiveCore 5.5/10
  • Pros: Nice patrol mode and campaign rules. Use of Kill and Suppress dice nice.
  • Cons: Rules all over the place. Keep changing dice. Hard to kill. V few DMs.

  • Pros: Well balanced, card system very neat, usable and quick. Nice morale and movt.
  • Cons: No spotting (in advanced). No suppression/aimed shots yet. Too many out-of-ammo.

Paragon 4/10
  • Pros: Body part effect.
  • Cons: Very basic DMs, simultaneous movement. Minimal morale. Hard to hit. No suppression/spot.

FUBAR 6/10
  • Pros: Short
  • Cons: Ranges too short. No UGL difference. Hard to activate or kill. Few DMs. Poor suppression.

Gruntz 5/10
  • Pros: Unit cards nice
  • Cons: Very short ranges, very few DMs, lots of stats. Change both ends of die roll. Rapid kills.

  • Pros: Nice actions options.
  • Cons: Ranges only just OK. Very bloody. Odd wound recovery and not cumulative. No suppression. No morale. Opposed per figure activation.

  • Pros: Nice activation and action model. Has spotting and reasonable stress. Some suppression.
  • Cons: Few DMs. Very bloody. Poor indirect fire.

  • Pros: Poses and pose chits. Unconscious & mission change mechanic. OK basic mechanics.
  • Cons: Very complex per action activation. No suppression. Poorly laid out.
7TV 3/10
  • Cons: Star/cast model/countdown doesn't work so well in simulations. IGOUGO. Defend then attack roles. Blurred ranged/melee system. No spot/suppress/IDF. Not really designed for this.

So if forced to choose I'd probably be happy to play both Danger Close and ACP164 as is, with a marginal preference for Danger Close detail wise, but I'd miss the ACP card  approach!

Frankenstein Rules

So given what I think needs to be in a set of skirmish rules which would I choose for each bit?

  • Activation: Fireteam:Modern with user choice but random Red/Blue and opportunity to trump
  • Actions: Fireteam:Modern or Victory Decision: Raid
  • Movement: ACP164 randomness. Skirmish Sangin poses.
  • Spotting: Danger Close, good above/below
  • Aimed Fire: Danger Close or ACP164
  • Suppressive Fire: None really did it right!
  • Indirect Fire: Danger Close or ACP164
  • Morale: AHL or ACP164
  • Wounding: ACP164 or Paragon
  • NPC AI: Bits of FiveCore/Chain Reaction/Black Ops
  • Scenario/Campaign Builder:  FiveCore/Chain Reaction

Thoughts for My Rules

And what I'm probably looking for in my rules:

  • Core Mechanic:  Probably D20, so effectively 5% changes. But do like the card model (suppose could generate afterwards). Also toying with FATE dice.
  • Activation: Need to be able to choose who to activate, so can do proper fire & manoeuvre, but with some friction, Fireteam:Modern really is pretty close.
  • Actions: A good range, at least 6, maybe even 12 so you feel like you have choices to make, perhaps with different ones for interior and exterior (maybe even 1s and 5s "bounds" as the two engagement types have different feels to them).
  • Movement: Some element of randomness, even if just +/- 1 or 2 units. Also differentiate between "patrol" (actually a quite slow walk), "jog" (fast, but not out of breath) and "run" (very fast and out of breath)
  • Spotting: Full DM set, including cover and up/down storey, and movement and size
  • Aimed Fire: Long ranges, but rapid fall off of DMs. Can spend actions to aim better. Out of ammo (not quite as frequent as ACP164) and also gun jam. Might do to hit target area, then body part locations THEN base save role on both cover for that location and any armour. Extra detail would be worth it I think.
  • Suppressive Fire: Add up weight of fire, spread across target frontage, reduced change to kill but higher chance of suppression. Little you can do if suppressed except keep head down or fall back, or very unaimed fire. WRG mech rules had it pretty good.
  • Indirect Fire: Roll for on target/offset/direction - must always go "bang" somewhere! Less side ways deviation if line-of-sight (eg UGL)
  • Morale: Some form of stress for person, and then unit morale based on casualties. Mission change for "western" forces. Maybe even some sort of "TV" rating as I think was planned for Fighting Season. Would like to include the Flight/Fuss/Fight model from Brains and Bullets book.
  • Wounding: Body location and minor/serious/dead.
  • NPC AI: Guard, fighting patrol, ambush and encounter modes? Keep to cover.
  • Scenario/Campaign Builder: Steal ideas from FiveCore/Chain Reaction, but not a key focus!

Oh well, time to start play-testing!

Thursday, 13 December 2018

Skirmish Rules Testing: Part 12 - Fireteam:Modern

Cpl Hore taking fire as he approaches his favourite corner


74 page PDF from Wargames Vault. $9.99. Well designed and laid out with good QRS pages, Good balance between imagery, diagrams, rules, explanation and "fluff". 3rd Edition used.

The insurgents inflicting more suppression on Hore in the distance


Standard with standard 10 encounter positions for the 5 teams, randomly rolled as they come into sight.

LCpl Wall goes right-flank, but the target is down already

How It Played

Or Hore's Revenge! Hore made it to the T junction corner. The insurgent commander, Nufail, and RPG man Mahamadou were on the house to the left but only pepered the wall and caused Hore to flinch. Hore spotted them, and he and Jones took them both out in the first volley. More insurgents popped up from the building across the street and again were quickly taken out. Wall brought his fireteam up. Another insurgent pair put a couple of suppression points on Hore, but he quickly shook them off. Wade and Kronfield headed off down the main street but were engaged by another insurgent team, Kronfield getting a serious wound. Hore moved up and with Wade put enough fire into the shooters to kill them. A final insurgent team opened up from the scrub land, Wall started making a right flank attack, but Hore and co despatched them before they got close. The remaining insurgent team legged it.

ENDEX overview - and Hore's trail of carnage!

Rules Impression

The activation system worked really well, just red or black cards to randomise whose team activates next - but you choose which team, and have a "hand" of spare cards so you can trump (as well as normal overwatch). Then random roll to see how many activation points, and a reasonable selection of actions (only one firing per turn though). Nice rules on radio and comms use for cohesion. Fixed movement per AP. 

Firing was very bloody, especially for the Brits as a) they got more AP (on 4+ not 5/6+), b) hit on 4+ (not 5+ or 6+), and with body armour took less damage. Only the key DMs. Spotting OK (but few DMs), but no deviation/miss rules for indirect fire. Suppression didnt really work as suppression (as with 4 activations you could remove 2 shock and still do aimed fire - so effectively no penalty if stationary). Everything was pretty simple though and no odd maths.


One of the better sets, but just a few too DMs and some significant gaps (IDF) and poor suppression/stress for me. Ace activation though. Overall 7/10 - 7.5/10 at a push.

Next Steps

So that's it, 12 sets of modern/SF skirmish rules played and evaluated. taken me a lot longer than I thought - my other armies think I've left home! Next steps in this little strand though are to a) write a summary piece and thoughts on my own rules (hopefully next week) and b) start play-testing my rules, and then finally c) share an AAR of the same scenario some time in Jan/Feb. Will also squeeze in a few more Albedo games - especially using the corridor terrain. Oh and I also signed up to the new Ultracombat modern skirmish rules from the Radio DishDash/Skirmish Sangin team, so will hopefully have those to test soon too!

Friday, 16 November 2018

Skirmish Rules Testing: Part 11 - Victory Decision: Raid!


"Glossy" PDF, lots of pages but about half are builders and army lists. $16.99 at No QRS but a lot more concise than Gruntz and there are really only 8 pages that cover everything you need for an infantry battle - so printed them out as an A5 booklet.


Standard, rules are in inches, so used 1 hex = 2 inches. Just a short game planned as I'm getting the hang of what I'm looking for. My own encounter rules as on other scenarios. The rules are for WW2 not modern, so chose suitable late-war German gear.

How It Played

Cpl Hore had finally learnt his lesson so put Jones on point. As they reached the corner they failed to spot two insurgents on the roof across the street. Jones bought it instantly. Another pair of gunmen opened up from the roof above Hore firing at Wade and Kronfield across the street, stunning Wade. Then the air was rent with bullets as both fire teams opened up on the roof tops and all 4 insurgents went down. Pushing on down the street Wall and Wilson were half-way down when they were ambushed by Olasyar and his PKM. Wilson took a wound but Wall single handly killed both gunmen. As the remaining gunmen opened up from the main compound Wall pushed McDowell and Gallagher right flank into the bushes to get an angle on the gate. Wade (now recovered) and Kronfield legged it across the gap to the compound wall but this time Kronfield got hit and was out. Hore also dashed across to join Wade. Meanwhile at the gate Mahamadou opened up with his RPG7 on McDowell and Gallagher in the shrubs but stunningly failed to hurt either of them. Just then Hore lobbed a grenade over the wall which took out both the insurgent leader and  Mahamadou. Two guys left to go, and with McDowell and Gallagher firing from the shrubbery and Wall from down the street they were soon gone. Mission accomplished, all insurgents killed, TV crew OK, but one Brit killed and one wounded.


Rules Impressions

Ranges were better than Gruntz, but still on the short side. Few DMs but very bloody. This is mainly because each man get 3 actions - so can shoot 3 times! Initially I played it wrong, giving just one fire, but treating 2D6 as two separate D6, each going after the 4+/6+ to hit - but the effect was probably the same. So rolling 2D6 three times, with just 4+/6+ to hit it wasn't strange to get each buddy pair scoring 6 hits on their activation - then a 4+ saving in hard cover still gives 3 hits, and then a 5+ to kill averages one kill per activation!

There is an odd opposed activation role which could be a pain, so I activated in pairs not individually. There is spotting (but oddly on the Leadership factor), but no suppression, and no DM for height. No morale. You can through recover from wound, 1 turn to go from wounded to stunned, another to fit, and again rolling against Leadership (!?). The actions options were very good, with movement (no running), firing, spotting, recover but also things like "going to ground".


Better than Gruntz I think, and the action choice one of the best, but very bloody and a probably time consuming activation model. Overall 6/10.

EDF Albedo fire-team almost done

The EDF team for Albedo ACP164 is almost done. Going to redo the grey cat as was just too dark.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Skirmish Rules Testing: Part 10 - Gruntz


High production values "glossy" PDF from Wargames Vault $14 -

A bit wordy with stuff buried in and spread over multiple pages, but there is a QRS (although doesn't bother to tell you movement distances for troops on foot!)


Standard, rules are in inches, so used 1 hex = 2 inches. Just a short game planned as I'm getting the hang of what I'm looking for. My own encounter rules as on other scenarios.

Hore goes down at that fateful corner yet again!

How It Played

Cpl Hore got to the corner of the street and spotted two insurgents on the roof ahead. He and Jones put down some SA80 fire but the insurgents were too well protected. When the insurgents returned fire Hore was instantly Waxed. Wade and Kronfield moved up and into the house at the top of the street to get a better angle. Wall and co started legging it right to get to the compound and house on the corner but insurgent commander Nufail let rip with his AK47 followed by the "boom" of Mahamadou's RPG7. Both Wilson and McDowell were waxed and Wall and Gallagher got a "condition brown" and pulled back. Wade and Kronfield returned fire from the roof top on the initial insurgents and Waxed them both - mainly through the Minimi's full-auto mode.

With 3 Brits down by the end of effectively Turn 2 I called ENDEX!

Wall and Gallagher are forced back as Wilson and McDowell go down.

Rules Impressions

When Hore and Jones missed first time I thought it was going to be a slow game, but it just proved to be that -3 DM against hard cover. The insurgents had no difficulty hitting the Brits in the open and the body armour had what seemed like a minimal effect - no one was saved by it.

Like several of the "gamier" rules weapon ranges were very short (8" effective, 16" max) for a skirmish game, and there were very few DMs (hard/soft cover, firer static). However the mechanics were a bit complicated as you were changing both the firers fire stat and the defender guard stat, and then rolling for the difference! Body Armour only changed the damage roll from 5+ to 8+.  Area damage was primary target at full, and then others at -3 rather than a true blast radius. No direction suppression option and no spotting rules.

The card based activation was good though, you drew a card per unit, assigned them (hidden) as you wanted, and then both sides declared.


Too "gamey" for me,  which was a pity as I'd like the look of it. Overall 5/10.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Remembrance Sunday

When I was a kid we used to watch the Cenotaph service on TV, and then afterwards I’d re-enact it with my toy soldiers. I can’t remember whether they were Britains or Airfix 1/32nd or even 1/76th, but what I do know is that my Britains Royal Marine band always provided the “music”.

So on the 100th anniversary of the WW1 Armistice it seemed appropriate to dig the band out of retirement and to stand in tribute to all who died, from whatever side, in WW1, and indeed in all armed conflict. Appropriately for old soldiers (they last stood for parade about 1975, and probably first stood 1970 or so - so almost the 50th Anniversary) 9 of the figures had lost limbs, based or even heads and so were unable to parade - but having got them down to the work bench it would seem ungrateful not to fix them up and put them on a decent base before returning them to slightly better storage!

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Skirmish Rules Testing: Part 9 - FUBAR

What?! We got to the corner without being hit? No way!


Single sheet set of rules on PDF ( Also version for Traveller, a ship-boarding version (very GW) and a morale 2pp supplement. 


Standard, rules are in inches and cm, so used 1 hex = 2 inches. Just a short game planned as I'm getting the hang of what I'm looking for. My own encounter rules as on other scenarios.

Hore, Jones and  McDowell go right flanking...

How It Played

Cpl Hore was suitably stunned when he got the street corner without being shot at. In fact all of the first 4 encounter points rolled empty. With Hore's team covering from either side of the T junction LCpl Wall and Pte Wilson ducked and weaved across the road to get to the far gateway. Mid run they were engaged by insurgents on the next two rooftops. Caught in the interlocking fire Wall got suppressed, but next go he and Wilson made it into the gateway and cover form at least one shooter. But they were still in sight of the better team and Wall got hit twice and was out. For what seemed like an age Hore and Co brought down fire on both rooftops, but the insurgents had decent cover. They'd get suppressed but would soon be up shooting again. With units on 3 corners of the T junction co-ordination was also an issue. Finally Hore got Gallagher (with Minimi) and Wilson up onto the rooftop so bring better fire onto insurgents whilst he led Jones and McDowell on a right flanking move in order to get the UGL in range. Finally the Brits' luck turned and an insurgent on each rooftop was killed, and the other suppressed. It was Turn 15!

ENDEX situation

Rules Impressions

In turn terms probably one of the longest games. Units kept failed to activate (needing 4+ or 5+), so much so I upgraded the Brits to Veterans (3+). Lots of misses on firing, and when they did hit it was taken as a suppression and so recovered next term - there wasn't the weight of hits to turn into damage (2nd on a figure or 3rd on the team). Body armour did its job though, mostly. The insurgents also had cracking die rolling for most of the game, the Brits less so. Ranges were very short (hence the move of the UGL), and the UGL had no indirect fire/explosive mechanic, it was just another 3D6 damage maker.  No spot rules or proper suppression rules (just a by product of hitting), or smoke. Very few DMs.


I know a lot of people like FUBAR but it was just too simple/simplistic for me. If you want a one pager that feels more realistic Danger Close is way better. Overall 6/10.

Time to gear up for Gruntz!

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Skirmish Rules Testing: Part 8 - Paragon


Real old skool - it was our go-to set WW2 skirmish rules in the 70s. 16pp A5 with card cover and very rusty staples!


Standard, rules are in cm, so used 1 hex = 5cm as made the maths easier. Just a short game as I knew they weren't really a contender.

Wounds mount up but he won't die!

How It Played

Cpl Hore got to his favourite corner and insurgents opened up from the roof of one of the buildings, and in what would prove to be quite a lucky shot gave him a serious leg wound. He scurried back into cover whilst his fire team, supported by LCpl Wall and his Minimi man. It takes three turns and first magasines running out and four UGL rounds to just take out one of the two gun men (and then only 2 x serious, not dead), with the other escaping unscathed. Wall has sent his grenadier and #2 round the RHS of the building in front to try and get to a higher vantage point, but they get shot at by the PKM team which completely misses them!

Gunman on the roof rains fire, but no hits, on the flanking team!

Rules Impressions

First off, this is meant to be a "write your orders for each man and then move simultaneously" (well it was the 70s). I ditched that for side turns by random initiative. There are very few DMs in use, and as you can see getting hits is hard, kill harder (need 11+ on 2D6 AFTER you have you hit - usually 6 on 1D6). Morale is primarily per man - a roll for almost every action, on movement you go slower (or perhaps faster), on firing you get a -1 or -2 DM, or possibly a +1. Very few DMs on the morale role itself. 

On the plus side, the hit location mechanic was simple and not only gives nice extra flavour but can be important (eg Hore being hit on unprotected legs, not on his body armour). Also it does have ammo tracking, but on a magasine=3 bursts/rounds of shooting, rather than per bullet. Both of which I want in my rules.


In some ways not as bad as I expected, once you rip out the written rules! Overall only 4/10 as written though.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Albedo ILR Done

Just finished painting my ILR squad. bases still to be done. The hare's didn't come out as good as I'd hoped, or the white rabbits, bu think the standard rabbits are OK. My first real attempt to do 3/4 colour/shade 28mm painting too. Now on to the EDF!

Hare and rabbit in the  in-progress Terra Blocks Sally 4th MDF system

Two rabbits - I gave the hare's the big guns!

Probably the best of the figures. My normal "lived-in" look.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

1st of the Month

1st of the month so what better than 7 white rabbits! (I know, they look cream in the photo and more like hares than rabbits!) Albedo figures he we come. Hardly ever painted 28mm so should be an experience!

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Skirmish Rules Testing: Part 7 - Albedo ACP164


ACP164 is Buck Surdu's SF version of his WW2 Combat Patrol card-driven rules for the new Albedo wargame on Kickstarter. A quick-start version of the rules are currently available to backers as a PDF with a PDF card set. Didn't take long to print the cards out and stick onto card stock. The rules are pretty well laid out, and as it is the cards have most of what you need to know. I made rough equivalences between the ACP164 weapons and SA80/AK47 etc.


My standard set-up was used, with 10 encounter points to be randomly diced for pairs of insurgents as they cam into sight. As with almost all my games I converted the rules to Hex, one (4cm) hex = 1inch in the rules. Figures were my standard 15mm, not ACP164 28mm (not yet painted!)

How It Played

Cpl Hore and the team (EDF) got a fair way onto the main drag before coming under fire from insurgents (ILR) on the roofs of the two central buildings. Wade and Jones were caught in the drainage ditch, Hore and Kronfield raced to a building roof to give covering fire, whilst Wall's team provided the fire base. A few lobbed AGL rounds missed their mark, there was a lot of running out of ammo on both sides as rounds flew, and even as the ILR took casualties their morale held up. But in the end the body armour meant that most ILR hits were ineffective, but the EDF hits were deadly. 

A UGL round bursts harmlessly in the street, but one ILR already down

With the first obstacle cleared Hore pushed on, but he and Kronfield were on point then another ILR pair opened up from behind one of the houses on the south side. Luckily the RPG failed its reaction role, as did Nufail the ILR commander. Hore and Kronfield returned fire, taking out Nufail. Wall and co did a rapid right flank, came up behind Mahamadou and his RPG acting as a club was no help against their SA80s and cold steel.

Mahamadou taken in the flank

No sooner had the EDF regrouped when an ILR pair on the compound roof opened up, wounding Wade. Wall managed to take Olasyar and his PKM out, but Hore was beginning to feel the pressure and his team got an adverse morale check, with Wade and Jones becoming stunned whilst Hore and Kronfield decided that the only way to save their exposed comrades was to charge the enemy team by the compound gates!

Hore and Kronfield charge the compound!

Luckily Wall saw the problem and in a fast move managed to get his guys to the gate just before Hore, but incoming fire from Jandol wounded Wilson. 

Wall & co pile in!

McDowell and Gallagher went into the melee, but the ILR ML199 had a massive edge against the EDF L1-56 in melee, and both were forced back. Wall took a morale test and whilst McDowell and Gallagher stayed firm back at the ditch Wilson had had enough and fell back to the sheep pen. Meanwhile Wade and Jones had managed to pin Ali on the compound roof, but by the gate Jandol and Karwan now had Hore, Kronfield and Wall all right in front of them. Luckily BOTH of them rolled out of ammo. 

Returning fire the EDF took out Jandol. Karwal took a reaction test and got a CHARGE, and so Butch Cassidy style charged out of the gates into the withering fire of the three EDF soldiers and it was game over. The ILR had lost 9 , EDF had only 2 wounded. The game lasted about 8 turns.

Karwal's final charge!

Rules Impressions

As previously mentioned I had Buck's WW2 rules on my to-play list, so it was nice to be able to try them out in their Albedo/SF version - and I must say I really liked them. The use of the multi-purpose cards worked really well and meant that there was hardly any table look-up.

Sample prototype ACP164 cards. Almost everything is on them, some elements are dual purpose, and you may need 2 cards to resolve some issues - e.g. one to hit and one for damage, creating more randomness. They work well.

The double random activation worked well, with fire-teams not individuals activating. The random movement was also good.  I did seem to get a lot of out-of-ammo cards at the start, but that eased. ILR morale also almost always held up - so they had to be killed one by one (which probably reflects the "Japanese" morale they've been given to start with). Cover also looked like it was going to be problematic, with lots of cover saves, but again they eased off. EDF body armour kept their casualties low, but they certainly suffered worse morale wise.

There are probably fewer DMs then I'd ideally like (to/from different heights, aiming) , and in the current version no spotting rules or suppression (but pin has a similar, even bigger, effect). 


Overall I'd have to give them 8/10 - but I might need to edge the Danger Close rules up to 8.5 as with the sets as they are I'd marginally prefer the added detail in DC - but ACP164 gives a faster game and would certainly be better for "playability" - and once the final rules are out they may also be at 8.5 or even 9. They've certainly also given me some new ideas for my own set.

All in all a great game, with probably the best balance of hits and morale effects so far.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Albedo ACP164 Kickstarter

The Albedo Kickstarter from Sally 4th that I mentioned in an earlier post is now live!

As mentioned then Albedo is a superb hard military/political SF story/comic from the 1980s, it just happens that the worlds are populated by anthropomorphic critters, not humans.

Sally 4th who are doing the Kickstarter have released a starter set for each side on pre-order (now order, mine have been posted), so that you don't have to wait til the Kickstarter deliverable to get playing.

They've also released a quick start beta rule set. Interestingly the rules are a version of Buck Surdu's Combat Patrol rules. These were on my list to check out, so now I'm play-testing the ACP164 version rather than the currently available versions - they are already on the table and playing well, and use a neat card activation/decision/DM system for everything. Full report to come.

So if you like SF, or even just modern skirmish (they also have a superb terrain set for built up areas), then back the kickstarter now!

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Skirmish Rules Testing: Part 6 - FiveCore


FiveCore is a rules family/system from Nordic Weasel Games, available through WargamesVault. As well as the Core book there are loads of supplements with additional and optional rules and even different ways of doing things (e.g. activation, damage). I picked up several which looked like they'd be useful (which was probably a mistake). Good production quality and each individual book is well laid out.


No major variations, most weapons covered in generic terms. Used FiveCore's Sandbox supplement to set up a presence patrol scenario, with patrol points to be visited and encounter points which may, or may not, contain enemy.

How It Played

Note: Doing these run-throughs is taking up a lot of time, and spare evenings have been hard to come by lately. I've also found that within the first couple of turns I have a feel as to whether I'm going to get on with the rules or not, so I'm no longer going to play every rules set to the end of the scenario - also saves me boring you with repetitive description. These descriptions will probably also be more high level.

Insurgents just visible on the two roof tops - and man down in the ditch!

The patrol set of and almost immediately came in sight of the first encounter point. That was a dud but as FireTeam 2 turned the corner onto the main drag the next one spawned a group of 4 insurgents who I put on suitable building tops. They took out the point man who was moving down the ditch and the others took cover and started returning fire. Several UGL rounds were lobbed onto the roof tops but kept missing. Eventually the weight of SA80 and Minimi firepower took the insurgents out and a flanking attack by Cpl Hore and his #2 wasn't needed.

Rules Impressions

Whilst all the options were nice in the end they were totally overwhelming - perhaps I should have just stuck to the core book. It was nice to compare though their standard move/normal/fire turn type (neat idea, especially the move turn where everyone can move but can't be shot!) with their action-points based system. Whilst the idea of rolling Kill and Shock dice was nice, the constant changing of your dice mix was a real pain. The 1 and 6 for results instead of even just 5 and 6 also seemed to increase the mental gymnastics. 6S for suppression from an MG was nice though. Killing was very hard (6s on Kill only), and there are very minimal DMs (probably just as well) for cover - you're either hiding (so out of sight) or not.

The patrol mode worked quite well, and the encounter spawning, and I could see myself using the Sandbox book as a campaigning ruleset regardless of the main rules.


Overall through I though they were too complicated in presentation and too fiddly in the mechanics, so I'd only give them 5/10 - maybe 6/10 if I had only read the one book!

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Skirmish Rules Testing: Part 5 - Black Ops


Probably the glossiest rules set in this sequence, a 64 page book from Osprey. Layout pretty good, but like most commercial sets lots of words between the main rule tables.


Black Ops is all about stealth so I decided to change the set up. Rather than a presence patrol through town I now put a big compound in the middle of the table, with lots of cover to approach through. The TV crew were now "hostages" in the compound, the boss and his main crew were asleep, whilst guards patrolled outside and  in a sangar on one of the block-house roofs.

How It Played

The attacking Brits moved in two groups, coming from SE and SW and converging on the back gate. The random guards drifted close, then away, then finally the sangar spotted Fire Team B, who immediately took casualties. The shooting caused a nearby guard to walk over and a firefight developed around the small sheepfold, but eventually the sangar was taken out, and the guard. Despite the firefight and lots of noise markers though the enemy leader stayed sound asleep!

On the other corner a guard drifted around the corner right into the rear-guard and was shot dead - but still the boss snored.

Now it was time to get into the compound. The grenadiers put smoke rounds up over the wall and filled the compound.

Cpl Hore made a dash through the smoke whilst his 2ic took a gun group to try and get on top of the sangar to provide covering fire once the smoke cleared. The insurgent boss finally woke up but with all the smoke his team had nothing to fire at. Hore and co burst through the smoke and were lucky to get two initiatives before the enemy and took the boss and his 2ic out, liberating the prisoners. The two remaining enemy on the roof, and the one guard behind the compound decided it was time to bug out!

Rules Impressions

The random activation as OK but meant you couldn't plan things, and the single action on activation gave limited options. Firing seemed pretty lethal, with guys going down all over the place, hitting on 4+, 3+ if aimed, saving only on 5+. The observation test is very weird and I needed the Internet to try and sort it out. It looks like is actually a REVERSE observation test - you take it to show that you are still hidden, not to see if you've been spotted. UGL rounds were pretty useless, needing 6+ to be on target.

The random walk for the guards worked well, but what surprised me was how poor the much vaunted noise mechanic appeared to be. The problem seems to be that the noise count is halved for hard cover, and halved again if further than 12" - so the boss hardly hears anything. Nice idea, just doesnt seem to be executed well.


A bit disappointing given that they are Osprey (but in some ways not surprised) and are likely to be one of the more heavily played sets tried here. I might bring through some modification of the noise mechanic (although interesting that there's also a version of that in AK47), but otherwise nothing much for me in it, Overall 6/10 (just).

Monday, 10 September 2018

Albedo Wargame!

Wow! Sally 4th are going to do a skirmish game and 28mm figures based on the Erma Felna/Albedo comic books of the late 80s/90s. More details of the game at and here.

If you haven't come across Erma Felna and Albedo before it was a stunning military/political series/world produced by Steve Gallicci which just looked "right" militarily (Steve was an ex USAF illustrator) but also got into the political and moral implications and reasons for the military action. One of the best bits of military SF ever as far as I'm concerned. Oh, and all the "people" were actually anthropomorphised animals and Steve single handedly kicked off the whole "Furries" sub-culture.

You can see almost all the comics on Steve's archive at I've just got  a few gaps in my own collection, so better fill them fast before the prices go up!

Really looking forward to the Sally 4th release. I can use the figures with whatever comes out of my mass-skirmish rules assessment, and put their own rules into that assessment (and I've dug out my old Albedo RPG to check those out too). Sally 4th are apparently going to sell a few figures and make the rules available for free when they start the Kickstarter so people can immediately get playing - great idea.

Will post up images and AARs as I can do do them!

20mm ECW - Lord Brookes' Regiment

Just finished Lord Brooke's regiment using Tumbling Dice early ECW figures. Just love the colour! Basing to follow. Currently doing an NMA Regiment.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Skirmish Rules Testing: Part 4 - Chain Reaction


Chain Reaction is the master ruleset from Two Hour Wargames. I also picked up NUTS (WW2) and FNG (Vietnam), all in PDF, but the differences were minimal. Rules seemed reasonably laid out.


No major variations, most weapons covered in generic terms in CR.

How It Played

Cpl Hore moved down to his favourite corner, and for once there wasn't an RPG waiting for him - just a PKM instead!

Cpl Hore issuing commands
Hore and Jones survived the first PKM volley, kept their cool and took the insurgents out. For some reason the next group of insurgents left the comfort of their cover and started to move down the street so Hore and boys took them out. But then a lone gunman opened up from the building that Hore was sheltering behind and started creating carnage amongst the media team and LCpl Walls team.

Carnage form the lone gunman
With three guys down and 9 insurgents down it came down to the loan gunman. Grenade after grenade missed its mark. Wall and McDowell tried to storm the building, but McDowell bought it. Then Wall and Gallagher tried and were forced back. Finally Jones managed to get a grenade up onto the roof and the lone gunman was killed.

The lone gunman!

Rules Impression

The first night playing this was a real struggle as lots of rules seemed unclear. After watching a couple of painfully slow YouTube tutorials the second night was easier, but I can't say I liked the rules. The "chain reaction" bit of having one action causing some consequence that caused another action and another consequence  and so on was nice in theory but never flowed for too long and did give some odd situations. The "AI" for the "potential enemy forces (PEF)" was dreadful with them leaving cover to get closer to the advancing Brits, the NPC AI once a PEF was revealed was far better. Kills generally seemed very easy - apart from the lone gunman! The inverse activation was odd - you win the activation roll, but because you had to roll high you cant activate anyone, so the enemy gets to activate instead! But at least it was at group level.


Some nice ideas I might borrow around the AI, but otherwise it really didn't gel for me. 6/10 maybe.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Skirmish Rules Testing: Part 3 - Azhanti High Lightning

Next up in the Skirmish trials is Azhanti High Lightning. In my 20s I lusted after this but it was already out of print. Nowadays it turns up on eBay every so often for about £30-£50.


Large format box with deck plans for a huge spaceship. Must get them all out one day! An A5 LBB to describe the cruiser and another LBB with the combat rules and scenarios. Similar layout to Snapshot, again rules in about 6 pages and  something approaching a QRS double-fold.


As with Snapshot everything was kept at ground level. Normal span points for teams of 2 insurgents. AK47s and SA80s were treated as Assault Rifles, RPG 7 as 4cm RAM, UGL as a downgraded 4cm RAM, and Minimi and PKM as LMG, but without set-up time. Body armour treated as Cloth.

How It Played

Cpl Hore moved off at a pace down to the corner at the T junction as before with Pte Jones providing cover. Then WHAM an RPG round was fired off from the house at the end of the street - 3rd time out of 3 games! But this time the round thudded into the building behind him and he and Jones survived. In the ensuing firefight though Jones got hit, but Wade and Kronfield moved out to the left flank behind the wall and building, came up on the rear of the Insurgent position and killed both the RPG man and the Insurgent leader. The next Insurgent group laying in wait the other side of the RPG house saw their leader go down and instantly decided to withdraw. Already the game was feeling to have a bit more subtlety than previous versions.

LCpl Wall's fireteam moved through Hore's fireteam and took up positions in the compound NE of the T junction. LCpl Wall got it from an insurgent team further down the road.Wilson the Grenadier moved up and put a UGL round in the midst of them.

Meanwhile Hore and Kronfield were moving up behind the same house, but that put them in the line of fire from some insurgents behind the hedgeline on the edge of the cropfield.

Hore bought it this time, but Kronfield poured Minimi fire into the sheepfold that the insurgents retreated into. LCpl Wall's fireteam moved up to provide UGL support,first with smoke to enable Hore to be retrived and then with HE to take the insurgents out. With only one team left the insurgents withdrew, and the Brits organised the casevac of their two casualties.

Rules Impressions

AHL showed a marked improvement over Snapshot, and apart from the lack of spotting rules you could almost see it as the grand-daddy of modern rulesets like Danger Close. The biggest issue though was the activation system which was again prioritising the leaders and making it hard to move in a tactical way. The morale rules worked really well though, as did the to-hit DMs giving lots of missed shots and armour saves. If you fixed the activation model it would be a very playable set.

Overall, 5/10 as is, but 7/10 with a fix to the activation.