Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Battle Report - FUBAR - Bloody Nose For Task Force Bravo

Yesterday I visited with fellow Conscript Dave V and he was kind enough to run through another FUBAR game, further advancing the story of "Task Force Bravo".  Unfortunately for the intrepid reservists, it was a rough outing!

Orks hold out while the Mek works on the stalled battlewagon
Captain Hawkins was in pursuit of Ork mercenaries who had stolen components from a Binary Petroleum "Technical Site" on Colony 24601.  The Orks had been on the move for several days, stopping often. The Task Force finally found a pattern to the movement, and when they stopped again at an abandonded fringer settlement, the Task Force moved in to try and recapture the stolen goods.

Task Force Bravo rumbles toward the objective, confident the big Mammoth tanks will provide good cover

Dave V took the Ork side, and I played the Task Force side.  The Orks had stopped in the abandoned settlement, and were experiencing technical difficulties.  There was only a small guard force with the stranded battlewagon.  The Ork Mercenary Captain somehow got wind that the Task Force was coming, and had bottled off to get some reinforcements...would the Task Force overwhelm the Orks, or would they manage to get the clunky battlewagon moving, and escape with their stolen loot once again?

Orks under fire from heavy tanks. Reservists: "Hey, this is great!"

Unlike the last battle, which had more infantry, this was mostly a tank battle.  Dave would roll each turn to see if he could get the battlewagon started, and to see if his reinforcements showed.  The Pax Arcadian side had both of its big, bad "Mammoth"-class tanks out for the party, together with the four "Cruiser" tanks, and two APCs with two squads of troops.

Oh no! Ork reinforcements!
The Ork holding force consisted of an AT gun, a solitary Gunwagon, two squads of infantry and some battlewagons.  The help coming, however, was very impressive - four more Gunwagons, and a Gunfortress!

Ork Gunfortress approaches. Reservists: "WTF?"
The Task Force made good initial progress, rolling up to the village and pounding the Ork defenders.  I got over-confident, and I stopped moving forward, opting instead for "aimed fire" attempts.  This really smashed up the Orks, but it meant that Dave's reinforcements could easily block for the "hot potatoe(s)" in the battlewagon.

No wonder the Orks were so confident...
When the Ork reinforcements arrived, the battle turned, and the Cruiser tanks started to get immobilized and have their weapons knocked out.  I had some very poor saving throws, while Dave concentrated his fire very well, and he managed to knock out one of the big Mammoths!

Task Force under fire as reinforcments appear for the Orks.  Operation is officially "much less fun": reservists.
The other Mammoth started to rip into the Ork vehicles - its huge main gun ripped through the Ork armour - but in the end, the battlewagon made another escape!

The Mammoth tanks hammered away, but couldn't make the breakthrough.

The infantry tried their luck from the flanks - these fellows took out an AT gun, but took heavy fire from the village, while the APCs weapons were knocked out by Ork shooting.

The Task Force gave a good account of themsevles - there were a lot of burning Ork vehicles by the end of the game.  But it was a rough outing, with three Cruiser tanks and one Mammoth tank badly shot up.  Where did these extra Ork tanks come from? Who is footing the bill for these mercenaries? And what has got the Ork Mercs so invested in this that they would use a Gunfortress? Most of all - who told the Orks the Task Force was coming?

A burning Mammoth tank! Not a good omen for the Task Force...

These infantry approached from the flank, but burning and immobilized tanks can't provide much cover fire, so they held back....

With heavy damage to vehicles, the Task Force will have to lie low and make repairs.  Hawkins makes a report of the incident to his superiors - will they ignore him? Send reinforcements? What will BP make of all of this?  Stay tuned...


Another very entertaining FUBAR game.  I took my eye off the ball, and in the end paid the price - the Pax Arcadia tanks shot up a lot of Ork stuff, but the prize got away. 

Building on the lessons of the first game, I improved the activation scores for both sides, and the game had a much, much better flow to it.   The challenge in this game was book-keeping - which tank had a knocked out MG, vs. knocked main gun, vs. immobilized but still firing etc. was a bit of a challenge.

Thanks to Dave V for hosting and for playing - and stay tuned for further adventures of Task Force Bravo!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A bit more FUBAR - new 6mm buildings

I'm always finding stuff in my pile of unpainted/unopened figs and miniatures in the basement. While working on my FUBAR project, I came across some 6mm-scale desert buildings from Irregular Miniatures, acquired many years ago.  I thought they would make ideal settlement buildings for Colony 24601, serving as a useful backdrop for Task Force Bravo's next encounter.

A Task Force Bravo patrol searches an isolated settlement for signs of the escaping Orks.
In our first game the Ork mercenaries managed to escape with one battlewagon-load of components from the Binary Petroleum "Technical Site".  Even though the Orks did not steal everything they were hoping for, Captain Hawkins figures they still need to be stopped, even if only to learn more about what is going on.  After securing the BP site, he is trying to track the retreating Ork mercenaries.

Requests for satellite tracking continue to be rejected on the grounds of "atmospheric conditions".  However, using the local radar and communications abilities of his Hammerjack APC, together with the scouting of the militia cavalry, Hawkins has managed to tail the Orks.

No sign of the mercenaries here...or any sign of anyone, for that matter....

Orks have fast vehicles, but these ones are taking their time, doubling back in different directions many times for days.  They are moving around between various isolated fringer settlements in the Colony wasteland. The Orks vehicles stop often.  Schlepper suspects mechanical issues.  Hawkins figures they are waiting for something, or someone - or maybe they are just not sure where they are going.  Whatever the issue, they still move fast enough to keep ahead of the Task Force. 

Abandoned settlment building on Colony 24601.

The small settlements in this area of the Colony all seem to be abandoned.  Hawkins has asked BP for any information they have on the settlements.  BP has responded that no such files are available. BP says they spend little effort tracking the comings and goings of fringer, off-the-grid types, and figure the settlements are just really, really old..

Surveillance photo of the Ork column in yet another settlement...

Over several days, Hawkins tracks the Orks.  At night, the Task Force troops witness some of the strange lights in the sky.  As a soldier in the regular army, Hawkins has seen many things, and pays such events little heed.  But the reservists seem slightly unnerved, as the militiamen swear the lights are not routine events, and represent something else - anything from an omen, to ships secretly landing, to secret BP experiments, to a rare visit from a comet - depending on who you talk to.

The Orks have been stopping often at settlements like this one...

Setting such talk aside, Hawkins found a stastistician among his reservists, and made him review reports of the Ork movements.  The fellow has crunched some numbers (or something - Hawkins is not big on algebra), and made a prediction to where the Ork mercenaries will move to next.  The Task Force deploys its vehicles in the hopes of catching the mercenaries and recovering the stolen parts from the Technical Site.

Are they taking a break? Dealing with parts issues? Fans of local building habits?
Will the reserve tank crews be able to match their heroic performance from the first battle? Or will the Orks escape, perhaps with something new up their sleeve?


I'm happy with how the buildings turned out - in addition to using them in a FUBAR game, they will be great for representing settlements in any of the many 6mm or 1/285 scale games we run from time to time, from Epic 40k, to Future War Commander, to Spearhead.  They would probably fit OK for a game of Warmaster too.

Like many 6mm scale projects, these painted up quite rapidly. I use black primer as a base coat.  The buildings were then painted with GW "Snakebite Leather", with a coat of "Kommando Khaki", and dry-brushed with "Bleached Bone".  Doors were different shades of brown, sometimes hit with a bit of "Devlan Mud" wash.

The larger building had several spots modeled where the exterior had peeled away a bit in the face of the elements/time to expose the bricks underneath.  I painted the exposed bricks with "Bleached Bone" and painted a border of "Snakebite Leather" around the area before doing a wash of "Devlan Mud".

I hope these buildings see some action soon!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Battle Report - FUBAR!

Last night we played our first game of "FUBAR", a set of open-source style rules I had stumbled across on TMP a couple weeks ago, leading to a sudden new project.  The guys were polite enough indulge this latest diversion - 6mm sci-fi skimish gaming - and we gave it a go.

The scenario saw our protagonist Captain Hawkins and his stalwart reservists rolling up to a Binary Petroleum technical site on the surface of outwardly dull and non-descript Pax Arcadian colony world 24601.  The techincal site had issued a garbled distress call, and Hawkins led his Task Force Bravo to investigate and deal with any trouble.

Reservists roll up, expecting to find a false alarm...
The reservists had been expecting a milk run, thinking the reports of trouble were in the minds of silly colonists suffering from isolation and batty BP techinical crews that had spent a little too much time near too many fumes.

Hey - there are alien mercs on site - and they are dug in!
Instead they arrived to find alien mercneraries - orks! - had occupied the site, and were busy stealing components.  The Task Force was ordered to stop the orks from getting away with any of the loot.  After all, BP's shareholders could not afford to spare a single penny replacing the stolen equipment...

Orks take up position inside and outside of the BP "Technical Site"
Conscripts Dallas and Mike F took command of Task Force Bravo, and Brian and Mike A played the dastardly mercenaries.  The table was a 4' x 4', with "Technical Site 88" set up in the middle, and patches of area terrain scattered around.

Orks hurry to fill the trucks with loot - "Mek" (with the wrench) gave them a bonus for looting & activation rolls
The orks had a force of about 20 troops, along with a pair of AT guns, a light tank, a light dreadnought, and four "battlewagons".  Three of these were given over to getting loaded with the loot.  Starting on the second turn, the ork players would have to roll to see if the trucks were full enough of looted parts, so they could then make a break for it.  The orks had 10 turns to get away with the loot.

The ork mercenaries spread out around the table to halt the approaching Task Force

The Task Force had about 30 troops all in - three eight-man squads of mechanized reservists and a six-man troop of milita cavalry.  They had APCs to move around in, two light "Cruiser" tanks, and one heavy "Mammoth" MBT.  The Task Force was allowed to enter on a pair of table edges, and they had 10 turns to knock out the battlewagons, stopping the aliens from escaping with the BP components.

Task Force dismounts and APCs face heavy fire from an ork dreadnought
The game was a sluggish one, but Brian and Dallas still managed a hugely dramatic ending.  The storyline has the Task Force troops as reservists, and their stats showed it - and thanks to some horrible rolling, Dallas and Mike F really struggled to move and activate the Task Force vehicles and troops.  Brian and Mike A had awful activation rolls too - the ork infantry were regulars, but I pegged their vehicle crews at lower quality, so it was a struggle to get them going and moving.  Even the elite armoured orcs - the "nobs" figures - often earned activation rolls of "1"...they stood around a lot, supervising the looting, but not shooting or hitting anyone on the opposing side.

Reservists gradually overwhelmed this ork squad through an extended close assault; in the background, the Mammoth tank takes up a position to pound the orks inside the BP facility
Both sides exchanged fire through the first six turns, with Dallas managing to get one squad of reservists into a close assault against a squad of orks.  This assault would drag on for some time, both sides going back and forth - the reservists gradually whittled the orks down and overran the position.

The ork players moved a squad to provide extra support against the heavier portion of the Task Force Bravo assault
Meanwhile, inside the facility the Orks got the battlewagons loaded.  Brian had the Ork mercenary captain hop on to one of the trucks, much improving its activation rolls.  This battlewagon made a prompt getaway.

The Mammoth tank (barely visible at the top right) started to hammer the BP facility, and killed one of the battlewagons
The orks look like they were going to escape with the loot, but it would be the tank crew of the Mammoth that would save the day for the Task Force.  Dallas managed to move it into position so it could bombard the BP facility.  It knocked out the second battlewagon while it was still parked in the facility, just as the third made a break for the table edge.  Drama ensued for the eighth and ninth turns to see who would have initiative, as the ork battlewagon made it right near the edge of the table before coming up short on an activation roll.  It turned out this was still just inside the range of the Mammoth, and the crew knocked it out with some vegas rolling on the ninth turn.

The second battlewagon was wrecked at the beginning of the ninth turn - great clutch shooting by the reserve tank crews!

Another view of the "victory shot" - the orc battlewagon was just inside the range, and Dallas rolled vegas at the end to destroy the enemy vehicle
The result was a draw - the Orks had managed to get away with some equipment, but they didn't finish the job they were paid to finish...what could that mean next for Colony 24601? What were the Orks trying to steal anyway? Who is paying them to steal it? And what does BP do at this "Techinical Site" that merits someone or something going to this trouble to steal stuff from it?  And the Orks were prepared, spread out and in position with heavy AT guns, like they knew Task Force Bravo was approaching....


All in all, I really loved the game, but I think the lads found it to be a bit clunky - this is not a reflection of bad rules, I feel, but some bad planning on my part.  I wanted to play up the "reservist" side of the story, and I did that with the stats.  The game delivered - the Task Force side performed like inepxerienced reservists - hard to activitate and didn't hit very much with their shooting. That matched up with how I imagined the battle, but that doesn't make it as fun to play.  If I had given some more favourable activation scores all around, it would have made for a faster flowing game that was more fun for the guys.

But I have to credit the fellows for still managing a dramatic ending - the last two turns were really fun, waiting to see if that battlewagon would escape, or if the stoic reserve tank crew would zap it.

Skirmishing with 6mm figures, which I would have considered bonkers previously, was a lot of fun, and I'm really pleased with how it looked - of course, I'm hugely biased there, but I think it went over well enough that the group will be up for trying the game again in the future.  So I hope to bring another chapter in the adventures of Task Force Bravo again soon!

As always, thanks to Dallas for hosting, and thanks to all who came out to push some figures around.

PS - I should also add a thanks to Dallas for the terrain - his refinery bits were perfect and really made the BP "Technical Site" come to life!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Game This Week - FUBAR!

This week we will be trying "FUBAR" out for the first time, playing a sci-fi skirmish in 6mm (!). The poll results on the page seem to show a bit of an "are you nuts?" factor, but I'm really looking forward to trying out the new system and pushing some newly-painted figures around. Here is some background for the scenario we'll try tomorrow night....

A spartan vista on the surface of Colony 24601

The setting is a supposedly quiet, mostly barren and isolated colony, so isolated the authorities haven't even bothered to name it - Colony 24601. The land is mostly desert, with little potable water and few areas hospitable to any kind of agriculture. The world is given over primarily to the resource-extraction efforts of Binary Petroleum. The main administration of the colony and the BP operations are not even located on the surface, but rather on a space station orbiting the colony.

A Binary Petroleum technical facility on 24601 - adding value for your family, and a lot more value for shareholders

On the surface of 24601 itself there is only one significant settlement with a spaceport, staging areas for BP work crews, and a population of any size. The remaining settlements are very small and dispersed, most of them home to BP technical facilities of some sort, with a few making a go at agriculture where 24601's challenging climate allows for it. There are also an number of fringe settlements, people trying to live "off the grid".

Strange lights in the sky of 24601 - probably nothing....

Trouble is brewing. Colonists and work crews have reported strange lights out in the wastelands during the hours of darkness. BP technical crews have reported a number of equipment problems and issues with communications equipment. Refugees have appeared at the BP settlements, claiming their communes had been attacked and overrun by parties unknown.

Captain Hawkins contemplates his first command....

Task Force Bravo has been deployed to 24601 to investigate and address any concerns (i.e. mollify Binary Petroleum and the Colonial Administrators). The reservists are sure this is a milk run. Captain Hawkins is not so sure, but orders are orders.

The Task Force is still unloading their equipment from the spaceport when a distress signal is received from a BP technical settlement a few hours away. A garbled communication from the settlement spoke of an approaching force of armed soldiers. Further intelligence is not available - the communications system on the Colony is malfunctioning once again, and no satellite imagery is available due to reported atmospheric disturbances. Communications and readings from the settlement in question have gone silent.

A garbled distress call - is it an alien attack? A shortage of Doritos? The Task Force must find out...
Hawkins assembles the troops. One of the Mammoth tanks and two of the Cruiser tanks are not able to move out yet because some parts haven't arrived, but he decides he can't wait. The column rumbles off along the main highway toward the source of the distress call...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

...And We're Back!

First of all, I have to extend my sincere apologies for the lack of recent updates to the blog. A combination of work, travel and (gasp) non-gaming-related activities has recently conspired to prevent timely updates.  But no more!  I promise I'll try to post more often :-)

Every year around this time I like to host a Great War game to commemorate Remembrance Day.  It's a great opportunity to wheel out the Great War collection and have a game using some neat terrain.  This year I wanted to use my cavalry from Blaze Away! Miniatures and a tank, so that meant a "Hundred Days" battle with the British on the attack!

I set up the terrain on the funky little 4x4 table I acquired a couple years back from a local enthusiast who couldn't take it in his family move.  It weighs a ton, but as you can see it is very well made and pretty flexible in terms of gaming period. It was built to represent "Minas Tirith" but the modeler cleverly left the buildings and walls modular, so with a change of accessories it can stand in for anything from Napoleonic to future terrain.
We used the Warhammer "Great War" rules and selected the Blitz mission. The British were the attackers, and had the benefit of "sustained attack", meaning that platoons that were wiped out could re-enter from their table edge to resume the assault. The British have eight plus a variable number of turns to get a platoon into the town.

 The Germans set up behind the bags with a good-sized mobile reserve to deal with any breakthroughs.

The Mark IV tank rumbled forward for exactly one turn, then was immobilized with a mechanical failure. Such was the state of reliability in the Great War!

After a couple of abortive starts (i.e. wiped out platoons and regeneration at the start line) the British pressed the attack on their left.

 The cavalry charged over the bags and late in the game, looked to have the situation well in hand...

While earlier, the fanatical battalion commander and his command section wiped out the remnants of the German defenders in a bloody assault...

 ...only to be barbequed by a flammenwerfer team rushing out from the town.

Eventually the press of attackers was too much for the beleagured Germans...

... but this was as far as the British would get, as time ran out before they could reach the objective.

I like the Great War rules as they use the "Warhammer" engine with which we are all familiar, and the sustained attack rule is brilliant (and essential) when facing dug-in defenders. Eight dice from a Maxim '08 with no saving throw is brutal!

Thanks to Greg, Frederick, Perry and Brian for coming out to push around some lead.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Task Force Bravo assembles for action...

One fun (and, at times, frustrating) part of this hobby is random inspiration. You never know when you might see something and decide, "hey - I'm going to try that!". Well, this happened to be when randomly surfing around TMP and stumbling across this post. Here was someone using a rules system called "FUBAR", and playing it with individually based 6mm troops! That's BONKERS, right? Right?....

But that base looked really cool. The rules are literally one page, and very nice. And the blog, which goes on to describe the creator's FUBAR project, is really cool too.
I already have a lot of 6mm vehicles and terrain for my Epic 40k collection, and painting a few extra infantry and mounting them on pennies is quick work...and so I present my attempt at a FUBAR project!


The setting is based on a distant colony world in a somewhat generic (i.e. not 40k) sci-fi future. The colony world is home primarily to resource extraction efforts of Binary Petroleum. BP has reported attacks against its facilities on the colony. The colonial administrator has petitioned for military help. The local military disctrict, pre-occupied with other conflicts, but wary of the influence of BP, has assembled a some reserve troops to restore order on the colony. The FUBAR story arc will focus "Task Force Bravo", an element of this force.

Captain Hawkins sets about on his first command

The main protagonist will be Captain Hawkins (named in honour of Charlie Sheen's character from the cheesie movie "Navy Seals"). He is in charge of Task Force Bravo. This is his first command following promotion to Captain, and he did not expect to be put in charge of reservists. He has been told this is all part of a very routine mission, that the trouble on the colony is very mild, much of it in the minds of easily-panicked colonists, and when it is wrapped up he will have a role to play once again in the regular forces. He is very suspicious that he is not being told the whole story...

Reserve First Lieutenant Schlepper - glad to be out of the office for some adventure

Reserve First Lieutenant Schlepper (named to coincide with his job) is excited to be deployed! This is his first action, and a welcome break from his regular duties as a tax auditor back in the sub sector capital.

Mechanized reservists - reluctantly ready for duty

Here is the core of the force - a platoon of mechanized reservists. They are second-line troops, called up from their duties elsewhere in the sector. Their equipment is old, but solid. Each eight-man squad has one heavy weapon - two squads have HMG-type weapons, and the third has a missile launcher. The Valiant-class APCs have been in the arsenal for a long, long time, but the amour is pretty solid and the twin MGs on the turret should help if they encounter any trouble.

Cruiser tanks - old, reliable design

They will have some armoured support too - a platoon a Cruiser-class light tanks. The Cruisers are another ageing vehicle, found primarily in the reserve arsenals, but like the APCs, the Cruisers is a proven design - and besides, this mission is supposed to be a boring milk run, right?

Mammoth tanks - lumbering old beasts, with heavy firepower

In the remote, almost impossible chance that something serious were to come up, a section of Mammoth-class heavy tanks has been attached to the Task Force. These are very old tanks, having seen service in countless conflicts. The weapons are proven, and if the mechs can keep them going, the Task Force will have some solid fire support - if something like that were to come up.

Local militia cavalry - ready to help the column with scouting duties

The colony itself is pitching in too - contributing a section of mounted militia troops. These soldiers know the terrain, can mix with the locals, and seem like they can handle themselves in a fight if they have to.

The Hammerjack APC - a rare piece of up-to-date kit for the Task Force

Hawkins and Schlepper pose with the other members of the command team

Hawkins and Schlepper have some command folks with them - a standard bearer, a medic, a comms guy, and a mechanic. The command element will ride in one of the few pieces of newer kit to be found in the reserves - the Hammerjack APC. The Hammerjack has an MG, a light howitzer, and good communications abilities.

Administrative liaison from the colony government...what is the deal with him?

There are some other folks too - like this colonial administrator. He has been sent to serve as a "liaison" with the Task Force. Hawkins doesn't trust him...

Friendly, service oriented team members from Binary Petroluem...what is the robot equipped with anyway?

And others may pop up - like this technical work crew from Binary Petroleum...


These figures are nearly all from Dark Realm Miniatures. DRM makes some of the nicest 6mm sci-fi stuff I have seen, easily rivalling (and in many cases exceeding) GW's Epic-scale figures. The human stuff is from the "Pax Arcadia" faction. I had painted these vehicles some time ago, and this little project gave me a great excuse to do up the infantry. I threw in a few spare GW Epic figures to round out the lineup.

I stumbled across FUBAR while looking around on TMP for more information on how to understand the daftly-written-but-probably-still-excellent "Tomorrow's War" rules. "Tomorrow's War" is so caught up in how cool they think they are that they wrote the rules as if you were part of their gaming group. As a result, I find the rules very, very hard to read and follow.

FUBAR, on the other hand, is literally a one-page rule set. It looks to be one of those neat sort of "open source" type projects that are out there on the net. Learn more about it on this forum. Reading three pages of Tomorrow's War gives you a headache and makes you take a break. Reading the one-page FUBAR rules inspires you to dig out your figures and try your own project. I'm sure Tomorrow's War is a fine set of rules (and I look forward to trying them out), but there is more to editing than checking for spelling errors.

My FUBAR "OpFor" is already prepared, and I hope the group will be up for trying a first game soon! Watch for more developments on the fate of Task Force Bravo - after all, what could go wrong?