Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Modern Bolt Action

I have watched tons of online videos and read countless blogs about everything from painting, basing, rules, terrain, how-to's, how-not to's (I'm sure I'm leaving something out) since I got back into wargaming historical miniatures last Christmas. It's almost a full-time job just trying to absorb the information. I have learned much to say the least, especially that there are more opinions about rules sets than I would have imagined. I've also learned to stay pretty quiet about the subject myself because if you do make a reference about a particular set, you are very likely to find yourself in a back alley knife fight with some rules lawyer. That said I have discovered one thing, I enjoy my models based individually and I like more of a skirmish style game.

My go to rules so far have been Force on Force and Danger Close. Both offer me the kind of quick, modern skirmish game I like to play. I am still experimenting with various rules and have also learned that having an open mind can be rewarding in this adventure. Many of the guys in my wargaming group on Miniature Modeling Mayhem play Flames of War and Team Yankee. I have not played those yet but I enjoy learning about the history of WWII from them during our video chats. I have recently been looking at options for WWII games and 20mm miniatures for WWII skirmish style games. I have a few moderns in 28mm, but I prefer 20mm just for the fact that I can store the models, terrain and vehicles more so than 28mm. During my search I stumbled upon Jay's Wargaming Madness blog. Jay is in California and plays a lot of Bolt Action as well as moderns with some really cool terrain and models. While digging around his blog I found a version of modern rules Jay has created using the Bolt Action rules.
 I downloaded the files Jay posted for free and gave them a try this weekend. They are easy to learn, fast play and very fun. I don't own the main Bolt Action rulebook or the associated order dice but I was able to use some dice I had laying around for this purpose. The rules are fairly complete as they are but I think I might pick up a copy of the main rules as well. I really enjoyed the mechanics of the game and like I said it was really easy to pick up. Of course (this is the part where rules lawyers should close there eyes and skip ahead) I added a few elements from other rules like Random Events ie: Fog of War to add some spice to my solo game. You can download his ruleset for free and he has also created some army lists to go with them. If you are looking for a fun, quick modern rule set I would encourage you to give them a try. That said, I am no expert on anything rules or even weapons for that matter. Some of you might find these rules to simple for your taste, etc, etc. I found them to be fun for me so that is about the extent of my approval. Below are some photos from the other night. Sorry for the quality of the pics. I was more concerned with picking my way through the rules.

Scenario (generic middle east to keep it simple): 
A 5-man US Special Forces team are entering a village to extract a high level warlord from his compound. His compound is guarded by his personal six-man security force. The SopF are entering the town on foot from the west. The plan calls for the team to drop a sniper on a rooftop with line of sight to the warlords' compound as an overwatch element. Once the SopF sniper is in place two Ranger fire teams will enter the town from the main northern road. They are tasked with securing the street and bazaar in the middle of the village and acting as a blocking unit for the SopF. The village is controlled by the warlord and has three cells of militia present. Due to the value of the target of interest, the US forces also have two Apache gunships that can be mobilized if needed for Close Air Support.

Board size: 2'x2'    Scale: 20mm    Rules: Bolt Action Modern w/house rules for Random Events

Turn 1 action 1 saw the US Humvees get hit with a random event (red markers) right out of the gate (this is not a part of Bolt Action). The first Humvee takes incoming sniper fire.

Another action die draw for the US gets the SopF guys activated and running toward their objective.

 I was feeling pretty good about the US forces drawing the first three order die from the bag. It gave me the momentum to get my forces set-up. The fourth one went to the insurgents and the US was back with the fifth order dice which allowed them to get the SopF sniper on the roof. Everything was going well and then I realized that the US would only have one more order this turn while the militia still had four (each unit get's one order die). Yikes. Pretty nerve wracking to know that all hell is going to break loose and you are kind of out of options. Just two order die later would see the demise of one of the humvees and the four Rangers occupying it. I'm not sure I could have played that out any differently, perhaps concentrating on moving my SopF guys but that would have left them totally exposed on the street without the cover of the Rangers. I think what intrigues me about the way the basic order of play unfolds is that once you have played a turn or two, you realize very quickly that every single move you make needs to very strategic. Especially if you only have a few units and they need to get from point A to point B. You can find yourself in a really bad place if you don't think your way through each order.

I'm pretty positive I missed a bunch of stuff during this first game, I hope not. But I stress, although the rules might not be to your taste, I found them to be a very fun game and really quick to pick-up the basics.

Here are some additional photos. Not my usual AAR as I was trying to use the game to learn the rules but I didn't become bored or over confused when playing so I'll be trying this one out a few more times.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Rescue in Al-Qunytirah AAR

After spending the better part of four evenings trying to get in my last game (being a dad tends to cut into long stretches of my time), I didn't want to leave an event unresolved. Besides, General ze Wife and the youngest Teenage Spy were still enjoying the final days of their retreat with the Queen Mother. If I could get a new board set up and get a quick game in I would still have time to tidy up the fort, clean the mess hall and check on the laundry detail before I needed to pick the General and her trusty associate up at the airbase. In the last game, a Crew from the BBC had been captured by an insurgent militia (see previous post). During a major firefight in the game prior to the UN petrol storage base at Al-Qunytirah being overrun, four BBC journalists were taken hostage. I couldn't just pack up the troops without continuing this story line so...

An informant provided intel that the crew were being held at a compound in the lush agricultural area several miles from the city where the battle had taken place. A team of U.S. Special Forces was assembled to rescue the TV crew composed of a British reporter, a Welsh producer, an American sound man and an Australian cameraman. Although the crew was working for a British TV network, the Americans were chosen for the mission due to their proximity to the location. Rumor has it British SAS were preoccupied watching a cricket match and eating crumpets and tea. Sources have been unable to confirm this though. It could actually be because I don’t have any British Special Forces miniatures. Either way, a hostage rescue mission was underway.

Rules: Danger Close    Scale: 20mm | 1/72


The two Special Forces fire teams would be four members strong. A Lieutenant attached to fire team 2 would be leading the raid. Each team was made up of a team leader, SAW gunner, rifleman and a Grenadier.
The U.S. Special Forces Fire Teams. Mostly Mars 72003 Modern US Soldiers.
The two teams would use the cover of darkness to arrive on the outskirts of the compound at dawn. They had been dropped several km away and made their way to the southwest corner of a small village. Two buildings were inside the compound but the informant did not know which one held the hostages. Intel determined an enemy force of about 15-20 fighters were in the village and the compound. The team would need to rescue the hostages and make their way north to a rendezvous point for air extraction.   
Recon photo of compound looking west.

Recon photo of compound looking south.

Recon photo of compound looking southeast.

U.S. Special Forces arrive at the village just before dawn.
The rescue team prepares to enter the village from the southwest. Here they will split up into two fire teams. Fire Team 1 will go northeast from this point. Fire Team 2 team will head north past the market (corner seen) and then move east toward the compound through the fields.

The Lieutenant gives some final instructions before the teams break apart.

Fire Team 1 moves out slowly. 


Shortly after moving into the village Team 1 is spotted by one of two insurgents in a ruined building. He fires into the first light of the morning slightly injuring a member of the team.

The two insurgents in the building didn't know what hit them after firing that shot. Probably best to let operators just walk on by. It was lights out for those guys.
Fire Team 2 makes their way through a field and keep moving toward their objective. You can see Team 1 behind them tending to the light wound.

Team 2 is forced to split up after hitting a Random Event marker. Not a big deal as they just needed to check on some movement on the left flank. Just a stray dog.

Moving slower than normal due to the injury, Team 1 finds themselves in a tight spot. The brief firefight with the insurgents in the building has attracted the attention of three insurgents who were walking down the dirt road toward the compound (activated by hot spot). Two of the insurgents are able to spot the team making their way up a knoll to their right. They fire and miss. Fortunately the SAW does not and one insurgent is soon on his way to meet Allah.  

Hearing the commotion, the insurgents in the compound scramble to take a defensive position. Three members of Team 2 are heading to breach the compound wall on the southeast corner near a small garden area. The other two members of the team will enter from the southwest corner. 

An insurgent on the rooftop spots the team moving through the field. He takes a shot and causes another light wound to the team. The insurgents who were moving up the road on Team 1's left flank are able to kill two of the team members in the chaos of the fight. Team 1 is taking fire from the left and from the their front. The two team members alive are both wounded and work as quickly as they can to move their fallen comrades and themselves to the cover of some thick brush. The insurgents don't spot them and run toward the compound.
Slow and steady.

Insurgents ready for a fight within the compound.

The compound is breached by members of Team 2.

Crawling up behind an insurgent a team member silently sends him to martyrdom.

Three members of Team 2 reach the first building of the compound and throw in a concussion grenade.

The SAW gunner let's loose on insurgents on the rooftop of the next building.

The rooftop threat is subdued.

After an intense firefight inside the compound, the Special Forces operators are able to free the hostages and regroup with their injured and dead on the dirt track in front of the compound. Shortly after regrouping a team member triggers a mine. Three soldiers and the producer are hit. The blast kills the Lieutenant. 

Sgt. Nelson takes control of the team and keeps their moral intact enough to keep them moving to the extraction point. 

The team encounters resistance from three insurgents who appear on the dirt track north of the compound and about 1km from the extraction point. The team opens fire on them and the SAW gunner hits his mark quickly eliminating the threat. 

The team has accomplished their mission, rescued the hostages, and no man was left behind.

Victory to the Americans for completing their objective of freeing the hostages and getting off the north side of the board.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Ambush in Al-Qunaytirah AAR

With General ze Wife and the youngest teenage spy away from base for a week visiting the Queen Mother, I decided it was prudent of me to explore the General’s personal dining room. What I discovered was a perfect table that would allow my men to spread out and stretch their legs and maybe even take their vehicles for a spin on the narrow streets of a foreign land. With the eldest of the Teenage Spies leaving for her new four-year training assignment next week, I knew she would be too preoccupied packing her rucksack to notice. The middle spy was my concern. Not that he would deem this worthy enough to notify the General, but that his utter disregard for basic base standards of tidiness could actually cause damage to my men or their surroundings with his wayward pizza boxes or bottles of Coke. After a speedy wave goodbye to the Commander of all my Men, I returned back to the fort from the air base after transporting the General and her trusty associate. I’m just glad no MP’s witnessed my speedy driving.

As many of you know, I tend to enjoy gaming modern civil wars and conflicts. I have recently been working on some Middle East rebel type forces and terrain elements so that was one route to take. I have also been working on some African militia but have not totally completed their basing. Hum, both groups would work and give me an excuse to bring out my UN Force. But what would they be doing? Think, think, think…oh, wait, of course, they could be UNDOF forces. OK, troops selected. 

A quick re-reading of some news accounts about the forces engaging in the area of operation and I might just have a solo game in the works. I have included some background information below to further explain the forces involved. You can skip it if you like. I tend to enjoy as much background knowledge and historical context as possible so I include it for you as well.

I am using the Danger Close rules. I really like the way these rules play, especially solo. It gives me a quick fun game, without being too basic or overly complex. Another rule set I also really enjoy for modern skirmish games is Force on Force. It’s a fantastic set of rules but I don't enjoy it as much playing solo. I just feel I miss to much of the strengths of the system like the ability for opponents to attempt to interrupt the intentions of the initiative player. Maybe my brain just can't work quickly enough. Anyway, I have created a few ‘house rules’ after having a chat about the idea with a fellow wargamer. I have borrowed the idea of ‘Hot Spots’ from FoF, where an insurgent unit has the ability to add units at random spots on the game board. I also created my own rule that allows for totally random events. These could be anything from a vehicle malfunction to IED to grenade, etc. I place, generally when I set up the board so I forget about them, a red marker in various spots on the board. These only affect regular troops, this does not affect insurgents. When troops get within 4” of the marker I draw from a selection of random event cards I made. These are always shuffled and placed upside down so I can’t see what will happen. Whatever the card action is the troops must react immediately based on the random event. FoF has something similar, but it comes into play in a different way. This adds a sense of drama to the game and also allows for actions and events totally out of my control. Much like if I was playing against someone else. I really enjoy this when I am playing solo to mix it up a bit. Hopefully I can explain how it works better when you see how that plays out in the AAR below. It might not be for everyone, but I like it.


Al-Qunaytirah, also spelled El-Juneitra/El-Kuneitra, is the largely destroyed and abandoned capital of the Quneitra Governorate in the United Nations monitored demilitarized zone between Israel and Syria in the southwest of the Syrian Arab Republic.
It is situated 1,010 metres above sea level.

For the purposes of this game I decided it would be used as a strategic petrol refueling supply base between the various UN observation outposts manned by UNTSO (United Nations Truce Supervision Organization)
and UN Camp Ziouani to the southwest and UN Camp Faouar to the northeast manned by UNDOF forces. The 1,000-strong multinational force is an observer mission that monitors the cessation of hostilities between Israel and Syria. It is now operating in a much more volatile region because of the civil war within Syria.

Al-Qunaytirah was settled at least as early as Byzantine times and served until the 19th century as a stopover for caravans. By the 20th century Muslim Circassians, a Caucasian people, had settled there and made Al-Qunaytirah their cultural center. With the formation of modern Syria, the town grew more Arab in character and by the mid-1960’s had become an important road junction, regional market center and military outpost with more than 20,000 inhabitants.

Al-Qunaytirah was included in the territory the United Nations incorporated into a DMZ between Syria and Israel and placed it under the supervision of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF). The buffer zone is about 80 km long, and between 0.5 and 10 km wide, forming an area of 235 sq. km. The zone straddles what is known as the Purple Line, separating the Israeli-occupied portion of the Golan Heights and the rest of Syria, where the west line is known as ‘Alpha’, and the east line as ‘Bravo’. The zone also borders the Lebanon Blue Line to the north and forms a border of less than 1 km with Jordan to the south.

There has been a history of engagements with UN Peacekeepers in the area in recent years. Below are actual events that I used to base this game on.

In March 2013, 21 Philippine peacekeepers were held by a group of Syrian rebels who call themselves the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade. They were later released and returned to their base.

In May of 2013 an additional four Philippine peacekeepers were held hostage by the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade and were shown on video to be kept as human shields.

In June 2013 Syrian rebels attacked and temporarily captured the border crossing at Al-Qunaytirah. A UN peacekeeper was wounded in the fighting.

On 29 November 2013 Syrian rebels attacked Irish peacekeepers based at Camp Faouar. Their convoy came under small arms fire and was hit with an explosion before rebels retreated. It was believed the damage to the convoy was caused by an Improvised explosive device, which raised the prospect that the attack was a carefully planned ambush.

In August 2014 al-Nusra Front rebels captured two separate UN posts. An outpost manned by Fijian peacekeepers was captured and the Filipino UN forces at the second post engaged rebels in a seven-hour firefight. Irish UNDOF troops helped in the rescue.  The rebel forces had vowed to “liberate” the area.


It is a routine day for UN troops in Al-Qunaytirah.  Nothing very exciting to report happening in the Golan outposts, although a crew from the BBC has been making the rounds and just arrived at the fuel supply base to do a few interviews. Pretty typical day really. A convoy is on a routine mission transporting personnel back to the petrol storage base from Camp Faouar. The route will take the convoy through the nearly deserted town center, past the main mosque, market and hotel until they reach the base on the near outskirts of the town where farmland begins. The petrol base is a key strategic fuel supply depot for the outposts and is a high priority asset to protect.


The UNDOF forces must make a successful return to the petrol storage base and must continue to protect the fuel supply and base. Insurgent troops have been given two objectives to win. First they must successfully ambush the UN convoy to prevent it from reaching the petrol base and supplying it with additional forces and supplies. Second they must take control of the petrol base without destroying the fuel tanks in the process. They need the fuel for their own vehicles and generators.


Board (kitchen table) size is 3’8’’W x 5’4”L with a variety of middle eastern terrain elements.

UN Forces will begin the game with two 5-man fire teams and a squad leader. This will be the force within the convoy. Back at the petrol base they have an additional two 5-man fire teams, a squad leader and a Lieutenant who is the highest-ranking officer at the petrol supply base. No additional forces beyond the convoy troops and base troops are available.

Insurgents have 15 forces available for the ambush within the town. Local militia members are available at a moments notice to reinforce the main cell if needed. Only additional forces can come from hot spot activations.

Scale: 20mm | 1/72

Rules: Danger Close by Matt Moran (formerly Some Corner of a Foreign Field). Distributed by EmpressMiniatures.

Additional House Rules:
Yellow markers, marked 1-6, indicate “hot spots” where local insurgent militia may appear and rally from to engage the UN force. If the UN force or any single soldier arrives at a yellow disc both players will roll 1D6 (highest wins) for disc initiative. If the UN wins with a higher roll no additional insurgent units are activated. If insurgents win initiative roll, they must roll again. The number on the dice is the number disc they will appear from unless a 6 is rolled. Then they may activate from any of the six hot spots they choose. Only six additional insurgents can be activated in this manner at a time. Markers placed at random on board.

Red markers, a total of six, will be randomly placed on the board at time of terrain placement unless someone not actively playing in the game is available to place them at various spots on the board. Red markers only affect UN forces. When forces get within 2” of a red marker, a random event card must be drawn. Troops must react to whatever circumstance is outlined on the card. Cards already used are then out of play for the remained of the game.

The report is below with detailed photo captions. It has taken me about 4 evenings to finish this game (dad duties like feeding the kids tends to get in the way) but has been great fun to get a fairly good size game in. I hope you enjoy the pictures and AAR. 

A view looking north from the UN petrol base.

My "BBC" news crew. Miniatures are 20mm from Britannia/Grubby Tanks.

A typical quiet day at the base as the BBC crew interviews the base commander.

The UN convoy makes it's way throw the narrow streets past the mosque and a former hotel. 

Rebel insurgents are using the mosque as a staging area.

Although this ambush has been well planned.

The plan is for insurgents armed with RPG's to ambush the convoy from three spots. The market across the street from the hotel, the hotel and a deserted building next to the mosque.

A technical armed with a .50 cal MG is waiting for the first explosions to move in.

Insurgents prepare for a ground ambush from the alley behind the old hotel.

Insurgent figures are 1/72 Caesar 031 Modern Urban Resisters.

All looks calm.

My random markers placed on board for me by the eldest Teenage Spy. Red for Random Event and yellow for Hot Spot.

Just as the convoy enter Nafura Square...

...it is hit with a barrage of RPG fire from the old hotel and the market across the street. The M113 and SUV are disabled by the attack.

The technical speeds into Nafura Square shooting at the lorry killing it's driver and causing it to crash into the wall of the market.

UN troops exit the APC and the pickup truck and take up defensive positions while trying to get a handle on what is going on. They take their first casualty at this time.

The UN petrol storage base can hear the explosions down the road and began to secure the base.

Insurgent gunmen surge toward the convoy.

UN reinforcements leaves the base to join the fight but hit a hotspot near the south wall of the old hotel complex.

Six militia join the fight for the insurgents.

The APC is able to get break through the militia and the technical and make it to the burning M113 in Nafura Square.

The five-man team exit their APC and set up a defensive position.

The BBC crew isn't as lucky and their armored car is disabled in a storm of gunfire.

The four journalists are not injured but are taken hostage by the militia.

The majority of the UN convoy team take cover in an alley between the mosque walls and a small orchard. They suffer one casualty and several wounded.

The BBC crew is hustled behind the market.

A massive firefight is underway in the town center with injuries and casualties mounting on both sides.

Insurgents seem to be coming from every direction.

The remaining five UN force at the petrol base want to join the fight and help but are ordered to defend the base against attack. Although there are two Challenger tanks at the base, the crew were being transported in via the convoy.

The BBC cameraman is an Aussie known as Sarge. The American sound man Bill is known for his vast library of jokes.

Casualties mount for the UN force fighting in the square.

While the force looking for cover in the alley are soon sprayed in a hail of fire from the technical. They do succeed in killing the gunner before it speeds away.

The UN force makes a valiant effort to move their injured and dead to the APC which they have managed to get turned around.

The UN rescuers have been eliminated in front of the hotel.

Insurgent militia rush toward the fallen Peacekeepers.

The APC is able to get the dead and wounded from the orchard loaded and head toward base using back roads but is forced to back up to it's closest point of cover (Random Event). 

The base prepares to defend itself. The best they can hope for is that the APC with the tank crewmen make it back in time.

An insurgent throws a grenade (Random Event) in front of the APC as it nears the base. It only causes light damage and it keeps moving toward the base.

The APC is stopped just short of the gate to the base by an RPG. It disables the truck but cause no other injury to the Peacekeepers.

The living and injured Peacekeepers exit the APC and return fire.

Unfortunately they fall within steps of the base.

The insurgent and militia force is to much for the Peacekeepers. The base commander is killed as well as four additional UN forces. The four remaining UN forces are overrun and lose control of the base. They are taken hostage. The base is now in control of the insurgents. The four Peacekeepers were released at a later time.

My UN Force is made up of Caesar Miniatures/Miniknight HB-11 Modern US Soldiers in Action. 
Caesar Miniatures 031 Modern Urban Resisters (Terrorists)

Caesar Miniatures 031 Modern Urban Resisters (Terrorists)

Britannia Miniatures/Grubby Tanks UKF17 4 person television news team

Victory went to the insurgents for winning both of their objectives-stopping the convoy and taking the base.

Learn what happens to the BBC in a rescue AAR HERE.