Chechen Wars 28mm Kickstarter

Kickstarter…

Yeah I know. Great idea – not always the best experience. Incessant delays, poor communications, long-winded excuses, sub- par products, partial fulfillment… I’m 50/50 Good to Bad projects over the past five years. And lately, I’ve given up altogether. It’s just not worth the hassle. Sure, nice figs/game/terrain but I’ll wait until they’re available at regular retail.

But…

I relented for this one:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1026360580/28mm-chechen-wars-miniatures

Three Reasons Why: 

Igor Karpov: sculptor behind Lead Adventure’s Post Apocalyptic, VSF, and Bruegelburg range. Nice, chunky figs, detailed without being fussy, bucket loads of character.

Jan 2018 Delivery: The figs are made, reputable company, the caster is lined up, everything’s ready to go. No ’12 to 18 month’ estimated delivery.

Russians with Guns: Blame STALKER. I have a vodka-soaked soft spot for Russian-flavored settings and while these are billed for Chechen War, they’re perfect for any near-future/post-apocalyptic skirmish games. (like STALKER, right?)

The figs are good. (metal too) Price is reasonable. Delivery time acceptable. Go have a look and see if you couldn’t find a spot for some of these.

Oh and check out the Stretch Goals. ( I pledged ‘All In’. Look at that Ruined Warehouse)

Have a great day.

 

 

New STALKER and Freedom troopers

More on the ZP/STALKER front: a new converted Eureka fig and some old Freedom troopers.

Took a bit more time with this latest STALKER, varying the paint scheme slightly, trying to capture the plastic orange look of those AK mags. I think he came out alright. I have plenty more in my STALKER-related bits box.

You can see him facing down some feral hounds on his own or with some comrades playing Hide-N-Seek with a group of Shufflers.

Next up are some Freedom troopers, converted from The Assault Group’s excellent Modern Russians range. Just add Pig Iron heads and you’re good. I did these a while back – before Lead Adventure put out their excellent Post-Apoc line. I made a set for Clear Sky and Duty. I’ll take pictures of them soon-ish. I think they get the job done. (This reminds me I could use a couple more TAG packs to create Monolith troops)

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Finishing my next novel will be the priority for the next month or so, which means Tuesday night Game Night is board games for a while. (Zombicide anyone?) But I picked up a copy of GW’s Gorechosen online for cheap and should be able to get in some painting time, if only to keep my sanity while I hammer out the final chapters of this draft.  Here’s hoping.

Thanks for looking. Have a great week.

Sosnovy Bor Garrison Run – ZP Test Game

On the western fringe of the Exclusion Zone lies the deserted military garrison, Sosnovy Bor  – Pine Forest. Classified as Threat Level One/Relatively Stable, it is a great training ground for experienced Stalkers to acclimatize new crew members to the hazards of the Zone, as well as a frequent destination for Zone guides to bring their ‘tourists’ in order to give them a taste of danger without too much trouble.

Well scavenged, there is little by way of salvage and equipment, but its proximity to roads and trails make it favorite jumping off point for excursions deeper into the Zone.

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A recent emission prompted four STALKERS – Timur Bok, Vitya Laska, Ilya Nikitovitch, and Sava Urakov – to chance a quick trip in search of possible new artifacts and salvageable gear from any unlucky visitors.

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Slipping under the Cordon fence, the four of them made their way briskly along a well-worn path to the old garrison. Detecting movement, they did a quick radio check then split up and approached the base each from a different corner.

The leader Timur Bok, scanned the grounds with his monocular. “Two bodies,” he said. “With packs and weapons still on the ground beside them. No local distortions that I can detect though. Appears the emission didn’t generate any anomalies. That means no artifacts.”

“But loot, yes?” Vitya responded.  “So I say we pop in.”

Carrying a heavy CETME battle rifle, Ilya Nikitovitch grunted. “For a sack of old gear and a couple surplus AKs? Meh.”

“It’s money laying on the ground,” Vitya protested. “If you’re scared, don’t worry. I have extra med kits in my pack to patch you up. Unless you want to sit this one out, Mr Big Shot. Then we’ll split the money three ways. Right Sava?”

He heard Sava spit. “If there’s anything of value down there, I’ll find it,” the scrounger said. “Besides, I think Olga deserves some extra magazines after she was so good to us on our last outing, no?”

Sava Urakov’s old AK-74 had saved their collective bacon three days past when the four of them had been jumped by a pair of Snorks outside the bus stop on the old south road.

“OK. We go in,” Timur decided. “Eyes up though. I got two Rotters shuffling by that office building and movement behind the garage.”

Ilya sighed and chambered a round in his rifle. “You know, if you see one…”

Vitya jumped to his feet. “…there’s a dozen more you can’t see,” he finished. “Whoo hoo. We’re off to see the wizard.”

***

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GAME SUMMARY

Very straightforward game to test the combat mechanics and the Hostile NPC AI rules. Area had Two Hot Spots (locations with probable loot. And hostiles) and five enemies already visible. The players decided to cooperate rather than compete, coming in from the four corners of the base/mission area.

Timur the leader promptly climbed to the top of a large fuel tank. Vitya the medic skirted the far side of the garage to flank the zombies and approach one of the Hot Spots.   (symbolized by a Dead Stalker scenic) The Scrounger Sava ducked and weaved his way past the ConEx containers toward a truck, while Ilya lugged his battle rifle around the fuel depot at the rear of the base.

 

The game itself unfolded swiftly and without surprises: seeing Timur on the fuel tank, the zombies promptly lurched forward, allowing Vitya and Ilya to approach unnoticed. Sava made the first kills of the game, dropping the two office zombies before they knew he was around.

Jealous, Timur lobbed a grenade at the shuffling trio, only to miss and tear up the cab of a nearby Ural 4320. The zombies pressed ahead, coming within 4″ of the second Hot Spot and triggering a pack of feral dogs, who ran to the fuel tanks rear ladder and began barking.

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With this distraction as cover, Vitya tossed a bolt to trigger the Hot Spot directly in front of him. (Two Bandits!) Meanwhile, Sava gave Olga a quick kiss on the bolt cover and sidled over to the barricades and began picking off the distant zombies. Ilya ran to help Timur, who was prepping another grenade.

Timur dropped the grenade on the dogs. (“Puppy burgers over the camp fire tonight, comrades!”) Sava took down the last of the zombies which allowed Ilya to climb on top of the damaged Ural and dispatch the two Bandits before they could turn on Vitya.

 

All threats dispatched, the Hot Spots were clear for salvage. Sava, being a Scrounger, can check each location twice, virtually guaranteeing the STALKERs a decent haul for their effort. Game over.

THOUGHTS

Only Two Hot Spots, a few Shufflers, some Dogs, and a pair of Bandits, players cooperating and coordinating their moves, the game went smoothly with no drama at all.

Nail-biting it wasn’t but as a test game for the rules? I’d say it Passed. I’ll be tweaking the ZP rules to get the conclusions on paper this weekend and that’ll be another step toward the finish line.

Thanks for reading.  Have a great day.

 

ZP Sample Character Sheet

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SAMPLE CHARACTER SHEET FOR ZONE FIREFIGHTS

 

CHARACTER NAME: Leytenánt Timur Bok

CORE PROFILE

MOVEMENT COMBAT ABILITY ARMOR WILL
6″/Action 5 Mil-Body Armor (4) 6

WEAPONS

WEAPON TYPE RANGE FIREPOWER DAMAGE
MP443 GRACH Pistol Melee -12″ 1 0
AK74 Assault Rifle 1″- 36″ 3 1

OPERATIONAL SPECIALTY/ABILITY

SCROUNGER: May SEARCH Terrain item twice.

HUSTLE: +2″ Movement Bonus for two consecutive Move Actions in the same turn.

 

GEAR

Military Body Armor: Armor 4 PLUS counts as Obscured Target from Ranged Attacks when in Cover. Med-Kit: (2) Self-administer. No Action Cost. Automatically replace Wound Result with two Pin counters. Hand Grenade: (2) Range: 1″ -18″  FP: 1   Dam: 2/model. Small Blast Template

Another Zona Perestrelki crew

The 4th of July weekend is upon us so this is a short post.

Another squad for ZP. I painted up five more Eureka Soviets with Pig Iron heads. A simple modification that’s easy and works well to provide loads of appropriate looking Zone denizens is no time. This squad can be unaffiliated STALKERS, a rival crew, perhaps even successful Bandits out to rob players of their hard-earned salvage and artifacts.

The old VOR Union Power Armor Commander makes for a good random event for those missions deep in the Zone. He could be an enemy or an ally – it all depends on how the players react once he appears on the board.

Speaking of which… Each ZP mission can be played at one of three Threat Levels: Blue, Yellow, or Red. (TL 1, 2 and 3 respectively) Lower level areas are more secure with fewer hostiles but offer less salvage. Sure, you can scrape out a living pecking around the relative safety of the perimeter areas, but it’s only when you risk a Red/TL 3 well inside the Cordon that you come across truly valuable gear and artifacts. But beware! Mercenaries, Bandits, and Mutants guard those areas and would gladly kill any who trespass on their territories. A player will want solid experience under their belt, a fair-sized crew with decent gear before venturing too far in.

But as they say in Russia – кто не рискует, тот не пьет шампанское.

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Breech and Clear an abandoned building
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RPK Support
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Cheeki Breeki, baby
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Military Power Armor. Very rare, expensive to maintain, but absolute top-of-the-line for scavenging the Zone

Zona Perestrelki – Zone Firefights

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Fast-play war game rules for skirmishing, salvaging, and surviving in the Exclusion Zone.   

 

Sorry no Bat Reps this time. I’m slammed with real life obligations and our Tues night games have been solid but not very dramatic. This past session for example, 4 out of 5 Heroes could NOT roll to get off the starting line for the first half dozen turns. Meanwhile the Baddies surged forward and killed the one character model who managed to tiptoe a few feet forward, slaughtering him while his hapless comrades watched.

Finally Derek’s Skald stumbled forward into a copse of trees behind a stone wall. He then spent his next three successes to sound his magic horn. (It requires all enemy models within appropriate range to roll for Morale) The forces of Darkness – crowding at the Heroes’ side of the table by now – promptly failed their Q checks and panicked. They actually passed the three other characters still standing on the starting line on their way off the nearest board edge. Game over, man. Game over.

DESIGNER NOTES?

So this post is me thinking out loud about Zona Perestrelki.  ZP is going to be the next iteration of our “Cleared to Engage” House Rules and once we finish up our ASOBH Summoning campaign, our game group is going back to the post-apocalypse.
So as I’m hammering out the new rules, I’m thinking about the minimum required complexity of table top war game rules.

Now my experience with wargames started 40+ years ago with Avalon Hill’s “Gettysburg,” “Panzer Blitz,” and “Panzer Leader”.  I transitioned from counters to miniatures when I discovered Airfix 1/72 plastics. I’d glue them on cardboard rectangles to form units of Chargers, Shooters, and Commanders. Informed by the Avalon Hill games, these units had 4 stats: Attack, Range, Defense, Movement. Sure, there were different troop types, specialist weapons, simple modifiers for cover or terrain, but those four basic stats defined not just the units but the game. They streamlined the play. They simplified the mechanics so rather than flipping pages for multiple charts or special rules, or grabbing the calculator every round of combat, you could get stuck in right away and fight. It was smooth. It flowed. You could play the game, not the rules.

It was my recent purchase of GW’s new Shadow War: Armageddon that pushed my mind toward this topic. I love the idea of a skirmish game. I own a fair amount of GW figs. However, on the first read-through I was reminded why I don’t play 40K; not because I’m a hater who loathes soulless, money-grabbing, devious, price-gouging, new-edition-releasing, corporate bastards. (which GW is not. They’re a business like any other business that needs to market and turn a profit.) It’s that I was struck by the notion most table top miniature wargames are built on old pen-and-paper RPG engines and IMO they bring unnecessary levels of detail and complexity with them.

Some folks like and want a lot of detail in their games. Fine. Horses for courses. Personally, I find the nuances and intricate mechanics so useful in highly personalized, intimate-level RPG combat actually slows a table top war game down. Things like hit locations, variable strength melee weapons, minute differentiation between types of assault rifles or handguns render combat and game play boggy, particularly as the size of the battle/number of combatants increases.  Not to mention they’re fertile ground for Rules Lawyers and Power Gamers. It’s like stagnant water for mosquitoes.

I think it was SW:A’s three-stage Combat Resolution that bumped me: Roll To Hit, Roll to Wound, Roll for Armor Save. Why?

Seems to me if an exploding, self-propelled bolter round hits you, you’re wounded – unless your Armor stops/deflects it. Bullets are not your friend. Neither are swords or grenades or chainsaws or industrial level hydraulic claws. You got hit with a nasty thing. Either your armor worked or it didn’t  so why the extra, in-between step? There’s a battle raging, objectives to reach, other units to move. Why add the additional time for an additional roll at all? Lose the To Wound roll, you can drop the Toughness stat and that’s one less number to memorize and quibble over.  Simplifying doesn’t mean simplistic.

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Go back a step further: Combat. Seems to me Ranged vs Melee is a matter of distance, not ability. Why two stats? I would think a military unit would be trained to a certain level of proficiency in general. Want a dedicated Melee unit? Give them melee weapons. Want a bad-ass brawler? Give him a melee-only weapon with good damage and high Combat Ability. A Ranged unit not so hot in close assault? Negative modifier to any melee then. Strength can be reflected in the unit’s Combat Ability and voila, you drop another number on the stat line.

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In my experience, players want a smooth, fast game that flows. No clunk, minimal bookkeeping, intuitive mechanisms, reduced chance for quibbling and loopholes. That’s the main reason Cleared to Engage/ZP is going to stick with the Four Number Stat line: Movement, Combat Ability, Armor, and Will.  Weapons have a Three Number Stat: Range, Firepower, and Damage. In our experience, the simplifications don’t rob a model’s individuality or homogenize units. The Mix and Match of Stat values and Weapon load-out lets us reflect all manner of troop experience, abilities, and fighting styles. The Troop Creation has to be varied and solid, not perfect or infinitely nuanced. That allows players to enjoy the mission story  and the experience of the hobby without worrying whether a game will dissolve into bickering, math equations, or sneaky special rule/exceptions.

Even though this is ‘War’, it’s also a ‘Game’. The hobby is supposed to be fun, cool, and engaging.  At least that’s what I’m here for. And I’m hoping ZP can provide that not just for us, but anyone else who wants to give it a go.

Thanks for listening. Next time I’ll talk about the STALKER-style setting. (which is so cheeki breeki awesome, it staggers the mind.)

Til then.

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Death in old Marcos Hills

ANOTHER WASTELAND PATROL

Our intrepid Wasteland Marshals are after a trio of bandits who have been robbing water purification stills on the edges of the San Joaquin settlement. Enlisting the help of  a couple local scroungers, the lawmen tracked them to old town of Marcos Hills.

Surveying the tumble of bleached, jagged ruins, one hunter spit and shook his head. “Bad place. Dead place.”

Marshal Royce frowned. “They in there?”

The scroungers nodded, pointing at a tall, three floor pile of rubble. “There. Top floor if they got a lick of sense between ’em.”

Royce lifted his his rifle and chambered a round. “Well then that’s where we’re going.”   

***

The water thieves took shelter in the three-story building on the left, trusting no one in their right mind would risk following after. They figured they could hold up for the night high on the top floor, safe from whatever mutant madness roamed these ruins, then be on their merry at daybreak.

Unfortunately for them, Wasteland Marshals aren’t in their right mind. So it was on.

The Marshal and one deputy take cover in the shell of the old store right in front of them. Two floors, it’s gives decent field of fire for the right and center of the area. And for the alley below. Meanwhile, the third deputy leads the Scoungers to the left, picking their way toward the bandit’s lair.

The bandits spot one of the scroungers and open fire. One bandit goes down, a scrounger is pinned, but his partner and the deputy manage to sneak closer.

However, the sound of gunfire draws some unwanted attention: Ragers – a pack of ’em. Even worse,  they are accompanied by what the locals call a ‘Linterna del Diablo’ or “Devil’s Lantern” – an rare breed of insane psyker mutant whose eyes glow with eerie power and who levitates when using its unnatural abilities. Plus there’s a Mack – huge brute rager known to have torn men in half with its bare hands.  They come from the alley on the right, effectively separating the Marshal from the rest of his posse. It was two separate battles now, against two separate enemies.

Marshal Royce watched the Ragers boil out of the alley like a pack of rabid dogs, howling, growling, scrambling, heading their way. He turned toward his deputy. “Thought this was going too easy.”

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Marcos Hills
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Harsh, swift, permanent: Wasteland Law.
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Two local scroungers. Some folks call ’em STALKERS.
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No wonder no one lives here.
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Someone’s at the door – and it’s not the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
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The culprits.
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Rack that bang fast, deputy!
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“Here they come!”