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.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Skirmish Rules Testing: Part 2 - Snapshot

Next up is Snapshot - the old (1979!) Traveller Skirmish box game for combat on board starships. Not really designed for Afghan but we'll see how it goes (think of it as TL8 vs TL7). And having owned it for a while I really wanted to get it out onto the table.


I've got the A5 box version, with an A5 Traveller LBB style rule book and a set of deck plans. The core rules probably only take up half a dozen pages and one table. No QRS.

Long out of print, but occasionally on eBay.


The only change to the scenario is that since Snapshot has no concept of "up" (you're in a corridor 
dammit) I put all spawn points at ground level, typically wall corners. AK47s and SA80s were treated as Assault Rifles (full automatic), 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

Sunray down!

The patrol moved rapidly down the road to the T junction. Cpl Andrews peered round the corner and Wham! the insurgents had rolled again for the RPG7 to be at the first spawn point and Cpl Andrews was blown to bits. 

There being no morale or shock issues his team then went into overdrive. His No2 took out both the RPG man and sidekick in a burst of auto-fire. The second Fire team came through and started moving down the street. 

Clearing the street

As each insurgent pair spawned the Brits just pre-empted them and in one burst took them out. One other rifleman got hit (unconscious but OK), but otherwise the team cleared the whole street for no further loss!

Rules Impression

Well, wasn't expecting that! I though being an RPG based set the damage model would be quite gentle so my guys could soak some damage John Wayne style. Now it may be that as the insurgents were mostly 777777 goon NPCs they only  needed 7 hits to take out, but I was anyway rolling 9+ each time, so most PCs would have been goners too.

The big issues though were:

  • Most shots were autohits (i.e. modified targets of 2 or less on 2D6) - short ranges I know but even so
  • Most shots got the 7+ to make unconscious first time
  • The ability for the higher spec soldiers to pre-empt the lower speck insurgents whenever they tried to activate meant Brit's got first shot, and first shot was 100% on target and 100% deadly - they didn't stand a chance.
I did try and use the "cover" rule (ie watch a hex for movement then fire), but even then as the soldiers were typically only entering arc that was a -3DM, running, so -1 DM and with a 7+ target (as in Cloth armour), had the insurgents needing 10/11+ to hit.

On the plus side at least activation was in reverse ability, so Commanders went last.

And that's apart from no spotting rule!



I suppose given 1979 this was GDWs first attempt to move beyond the abstract combat rules of the LBB Traveller into something more detailed. The core AP based system is fine, but the hit system includes protection, and has nD6 damage against characteristics, so feels very D&D like. 

So overall a bit of a disappointment and really only 1/10.

Will be interesting to see how the following year's Azhanti High Lightning compares!

Monday, 13 August 2018

Skirmish Rules Testing: Part 1 - Setup and Danger Close

I've been wanting to find a good set of modern/SF (even WW2) skirmish rules for a while now. By "skirmish" I mean typically less than 10 figures a side (i.e. about a section or a party of adventurers + opposition) where:

  • 1 figure = 1 person/being/bot
  • Ground scale = figure scale
  • A "turn" is probably less than a minute
  • Firing and most other tests are per figure not per unit/element
  • Damage is per figure not per unit/element
  • Damage is probably gradated(?)(light/serious) and probably located (arm/chest etc)

Ideally I'd also like to use them for RPG play too - mainly Traveller scenarios.

Over the last few years I've tried Force On Force (just at edge of definition), Chain of Command (definitely out of definition), and Skirmish Sangin (OK but v complex turn sequence, and general high complexity).

So now I've decided to "blitz" it and play as many as I can lay my hands on (cheaply or free!) and give them a go. I'll also be throwing some old favourites in there! Of course the upshot is I'll end up writing/updating my own, but we'll see.

So as to have a consistent evaluation I've decided to use Colin Phillip's "Protect the Film Crew" Skirmish Sangin scenario from Aug 18 of MW. The main change is that I've positioned 10 spawn points around the battlefield where each of one of the 5 the insurgents will start, rolling for each when required (eg successful British spotting roll or tempting target!).  Of course being me I'm also modding all rules to play on the 4cm hex grid of my nice new desert cloth. here's the set-up, with the Brits ready to move across the river bridge at the bottom left, and insurgents in a holding pen bottom right. Small spawn point markers just visible - mainly on rooftops.

The Brits have two fire teams, each SA80 (comd), SA80+UGL, SA80 and Minimi LMG. The media team is an unarmed cameraman and reporter, and interpreter with AK47. All allies have body armour. There are 10 insurgents, one with PKM, one with RPG7, rest with AK47, none with body armour. Generally the insurgents have lower ability, and leaders have higher ability than their troops.

So let's get to it!

Danger Close


Nicely presented double sided A4, laminated, and that's the whole rules. Seem well laid out, although some detail in the small print (e.g. grenades). £5 for laminated, £1.50 for PDF from Empress Miniatures.

How it Played

The Brits didn't make it as far as the T junction before they spotted insurgents on the roof NE of the T junction. That team then turned out to be the RPG one. Despite intense fire from the Brits an RPG tore into the road before the smoke could be put up. The RPG missed the trooper on the road but hit just by the right hand wall corner where the TV crew were sheltering - not a direct hit but the blast was enough to kill the camera man and severely wound two of the soldiers. Oops. 

The death, wound and shock carnage after the first RPG!

The smoke cleared quickly, but by then the Section Commander had got on top of the building SE of the T Junction and took out the RPG man. 

RPG man goes down!

As the team prepared to extract the casualties the insurgents opened up form the next building E and from the field edge further E. One of the UGL guys kept pumping smoke to try and protect the open flank whilst the casevac got underway but one insurgent team moved S along the field edge out of the smoke and inflicted two more serious casualties.

With RPG loader finally killed the Section Commander pulled everyone back to the casualties and men started sprinting back to the bridge carrying their wounded comrades. Fire from the other building was ineffective but the OC and his No 2 took one of the pair out. Then the OC called in off-table support and managed to get the Sniper and HMG in the same go, the former taking out the second of the building pair, the latter taking out one of the insurgents that was boldly trying to move through the scrub towards the mosque. 

Laying down the smoke

The Brits managed to clear the rest of the casualties, the insurgents now had 4 dead and two running away, so ENDEX was declared. The dead cameraman wasn't going to go down well on the evening news, but the Brits had no other permanent losses and 4 insurgents killed.

Rules Impression

Given that (because?) the rules are just two sides of A4 they played well and quickly, gave generally good results and overall I was pretty impressed and would certainly play them again. More specific comments:

  • AP allocation and use was good
  • Spot and fire mechanic and  DMs  good
  • Simple use of radio to communicate and call-in  good,
  • Shock  good - like the way it disappears after a test
  • RPG  lethal!
  • Appears to have no AP for RPG7 reload
  • No UGL firing rules - just treated as grenades (no grenade range either - strong arms!)
  • Would have though that the off table SF HMG would have a beaten zone rather than point target
One thing that did strike me was whilst I'm generally in favour random activation its doesn't work well in this sort of setting. In fact by prioritising the high S&D characters (the commanders) you actually get the reverse of what you want which is where a) units move by pairs and fireteams and b) commanders probably hang back til they see what is happening. Will have to build that in to mine. May be less relevant for an RPG, but even then you'd want to co-ordinate.

There may also be a general case for a more involved spotting sequence, for instance:

  • Just because I can see someone on a roof top doesn't mean I can shoot at them - do we need rules of engagement?
  • How does the guy on the rooftop know he's been spotted so he can take evasive/first action - interrupts?



I'd give Danger Close 8/10 - a really good value set of rules which play well and give a realistic result!

Monday, 6 August 2018

20mm 10th French Hussars and Middle Guard

Bit of a catch up post but finished my latest batch of Napoleonic 20mm painting for our 2021 Waterloo - 2 Bns of Middle Guard and the 10th Hussars - according to my records the only French Hussar regiment actually at the battle. Had been hoping for something nice and colourful, but they're green and so little different from all the Chassuers a Cheval regiments!

Friday, 3 August 2018

Battle of Friedland 1807 and Snappy Nappy - AAR

Start positions, from behind Russian lines looking W across the Alle towards the French

After much delay I finally got my game of Friedland underway. The game was played with Snappy Nappy as I'd heard a lot about the rules and wanted to give them a go. This post will therefore have two parts, an AAR of the battle, and some comments on the rules.

End Turn 4 - Peak Russian!

The Battle

The Russians already had all their forces across the Alle river and were pushing out of Friedland, and only Lannes' Corps and Grouchy's cavalry stood in the way.

The early turns went the Russian's way. On the left (Russian/West) they moved unopposed through the woods. Closer to the Muhain Floss though Lannes guns and cavalry managed to match the Russians blow for blow. It was a similar story on the higher ground just R of the millstream with cavalry matching cavalry. On the extreme R the Russian cavalry scored some successes against the French and the Russian Guard Cavalry almost reached Heinrichsdorff. By the end of Turn 4 the Russians were doing OK, if not spectacular.

On Turn 5 though both Victor and Ney arrived (Ney one turn early). Ney arrived in the Sortlack Forest and right in the rear of two Russian Divisons  that were trying to turn the French R flank. Victor was behind Mortier and Lannes and struggled to get his fresh troops to the front. As Ney rolled up the Russian L the Russians moved onto the defensive, pulling back into Friedland on the L/C, but keeping a strong gun line plus cavalry on their R flank. Ney found it a costly slog to reach Friedland, particularly with position batteries across the Alle firing on his flank, but eventually the way was cleared for Victor to come through. But its a very narrow spit of land that Friedland is on and so was too congested to really deploy and fight - particularly with the Russians still holding the right. So it was only on the last turn that Victor's first divisions got to grips with the Russians defending the town. Without any softening up (the guns trapped behind the inf) it was going to be a difficult ask for Victor, and so an even result (2 off one of Victors divisions, and 2 off one of the Russians) was not a bad start.

As night fell the Russians still held Friedland and the R side of field - but backs against the Alle. They had through lost 5 Infantry Divisions, 3 Cavalry Divisions and one Grand Battery - and out of these the Advance Guard had lost 6 of its 8 units. French losses were 3 Infantry Divisions and 2 Cavalry Divisions.

Turn 8 - French cavalry reached Friedland

Overall not a bad result historical wise, and it was always going to be a struggle for the Russians once the main part of the French force arrived.

The final (first) assault on Friedland

Balloon's eye view of the final assault

Endex - in the gloom of twilight!

Snappy Nappy

I think I like some of the ideas of Snappy nappy (such as the Division level and "campaign in a day" idea), but the rules didn't really work for me.

The biggest issue was undoubtably the Morale Check (MC) mechanic. The main result of any combat is to take one or more MCs.Typically this is 6+ for veterans, 7+ for seasoned - but you keep taking it until you pass - and lose one damage for every one you fail. So get a bad run and a single MC result wipes out your unit (5 fails). And that happened a lot. I even had cases where the melee was a draw, one side took 0 hits (passed its MC first time), and the other routed (lost all 5). I also had a case where a square got a minor win (1 MC) out of an attack by a cavalry division - but the division lost all its MCs and so was wiped out. The whole model was just too random for me.

Some other observations:

  • Having "divisions" of horse artillery is a bit odd
  • Couldn't see any rules for interpenetration, so I allowed it
  • Heavy Cav gets no advantage vs Lt Cav unless it is attacking (but didn't try the counter-charge rule)
  • Artillery could survive multiple melee rounds with cavalry and even retreat
  • Cavalry vs column seemed to get no DMs at all, so little incentive to form Sq as could square off as equals
  • Not sure why cavalry on a hill crest should get a DM
  • Artillery wiped out a whole division at 800m in one go
  • A square wiped out a whole cavalry division in one go

Now I was playing solo, and had not seen the rules played, so I may have missed some things (although there rules are actually very short and so things should be hard to miss), or got them wrong, but for me the main rules mechanic was just too unpredictable, and some of the other elements just didn't play right for me. Your mileage may differ of course....