HOQ Rule sets – Fire Team, Oscar Mike, World at War and SABOT

In-house rule sets and much more (well a little bit more) …..

Over the last few years we’ve slowly (very) been working on tidying up our various in-house rule sets. It started as a project to update them for ourselves but we also decided that if they tarted up ok we’d eventually make them all available to other gamers free (ie a donation if you feel like it). Recently while working with Empress on a Modern Battlegroup set (Oscar Mike) and totally unplanned, we snaked our way back to first principles gaming (ie no dice or tables games). The result was we ended up revising our core play combat systems. Very much for the better as it turns out as it’s really given our gaming and hobby a new impetus. Sooooo what are we working on …..?

Moderns

Fire Team and Oscar Mike. Fire Team is our own set of 8-20 man modern skirmish rules with a dose of RPG elements thrown in (that’s Role Playing Game not Rocket Propelled Grenade!). It was basically finished and had been pretty well tested but is now being re-vamped with our new combat system which greatly simplifies things but still allows for detail where it’s wanted. That and the lure of making a “Syrian-Modern” style destroyed city terrain board has generated some excitement again.

Oscar Mike is a Battlegroup sized rule set we’re working on with the Lads at Empress and is aimed at 1-2 platoons and 6-8 vehicles a side, although it scales up and down easily. As this is a collaborative set it, and any supplements, will eventually be available (hopefully middish 2017) from Empress Miniatures once play-testing is complete and assuming it’s successful too …. 🙂

modern-rule-sets

WW2

World at War (working title lol) is a Platoon-Company sized WW2 game. Originally just set in Western Europe we’ve been using and tweaking our WW2 rules for over 30years of gameplay. Oddly this was our rule set we were most happy with as it always matched up to the thousands of books and combat accounts digested. However the new combat system plays so well that even this has gotten a re-write to use that as it’s core. The equipment lists are currently being expanded to cover most of the middle to late war.

Sabot is our Tank vrs Tank tabletop RPG game. Again this is getting a dose of the new combat system and a focus on making the gameplay a little easier (some features were nice but needed tech to speed up the play which is beyond our resources) and with more focus on crew development and skills progression.

We’ll probably convert Fire Team to the WW2 setting as well so allowing a man focused small WW2 skirmish game in the style of the Commando comics we loved so much.

ww2-rule-sets

Sci-fi Fantasy

Just pure funsies here. We grew up playing Space Opera and Traveller and have a deep love of sci-fi. Upon hitting upon our new combat system it’s opened up Sci-fi gaming for us again as being able to be both simple but with depth, so it’s all ahead with the rules. The front end is done and allows any type of sci-fi troop type you can think of to be easily created with simple and relative stats. Races that can be created include from a few base values include Hordes (Tyranid, Alien and Arachnid types) creatures, Warrior races (think Klingons, Proxims and Krogans), Alphans, Human Planetary Forces, Heinlein inspired Power-Armoured Assault Troopers (gee I wonder were the idea for “space-marines and terminators came from”) and Robots. While not laser-locked on our Radar as being urgent, it’s hard not to feel the liberating freedom of being able to game anything you’ve ever read or watched in the Genre with one base system and not requiring to buy every specific rule set or kickstarter ….

Survival Horror. Bit of a touchy one this one. It’s been on our “to game” list for almost 20years now so it’s definitely not a fad but we have had a couple of souring experiences that have pushed this back into the dark for a while. Long story short, imagine some naive kiwi lads (then part of another rules company) talking with a major gaming and miniatures company and their partnered publishing house about a rule set (none of their games or books had any “Z” related stuff in their published collections at that stage). After taking a copy of said rule set, offered in good faith of an agreed working relationship, but professing no real interest at all in that type of thing (“but we’ll see what marketing says”) it was exciting to see who ended up recently releasing a fully fledged Survival Horror game heavily using the rules concepts and systems my brother wrote most of – lesson, don’t trust big companies where profit, ideas and small developers are concerned. Tossers already had a line on procuring another manufactures “infected and survivors” miniatures we suspect, but didn’t have a rule set so were being total cynical cxxxs in pretending to have no interest. Either way producing this would be the second time we’ve re-written a Horror set but unfortunately now have most of our enthusiasm for the project sapped, so probably only the WW2 based set is ever likely to see the light of day fitted with the new combat system.

sci-fi-rule-sets

Of course we could always just batten down the hatches and dig out our WW1 Air Wargaming rules or Starship Battles sets and play with those for the next few years, such is the fickle directionless life of a tumbleweed in the wind ….. 😉

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SABOT – Fur Gaming table

Teddy Bear Fur Gaming Table ….

SABOT 000 Table  1600

As mentioned several times in posts about our gaming we recently picked up the fur we’ve been looking for to upgrade our gaming table. Craig (my brother and partner in gaming madness) managed to scam some time off work and as I’m still been too sick to do any sort of modelling, came up to stay and under my direction trimmed and joined our fur, managing to create both a useful gaming faux grass matt and a large family sized throw rug.

First steps involved trimming the fur down, removing the artsie-white bleached ends and getting it down to more of a scale length. For the trimming we used a trusty Wahl Chrome Pro (TM) hair trimmer which I must say performed the task admirably. The fur was trimmed roughly in one direction then cross cut and scummbled in the opposite direction to remove both the residual white and any pattern shaved into the surface. A vacuum was used to pull the trimmings off the blade as it cut and frequent stops were made to oil, clean the blade and cool the motor down. We were so impressed with the cutters performance that we contacted Wahl with a glowing testimonial to use in their advertising in exchange for some gaming sponsorship funds but so far haven’t had a reply. Joking aside it has ground, self sharpening blades and a heavy duty motor, both features that I suspect kept it cutting over the 4 days of shaving and from bursting into bright and hot flame ….

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SABOT Fur trimming 002 1350

There’s still some touching up of the join area required and I may yet still cut some random sections down a little lower to add some more variety but basically we’re pretty happy with the result. Of note also during the project we pioneered a new system of extremely useful and versatile measurement, the Craig. We measured the length of the fur mat and indeed our cutting progress in “Craigs”, with approx 7m being equal to 3-3/4 Craigs. Imagine our quiet surprise when we realised that the “Craig” can be used to measure everything from the height of rooms to the length of the driveway – all very useful for planning future home improvement projects.

The “Craig” (pat pending) measurement system in action …

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New Gaming Table goodness …….

SABOT Table  002 2 1600

SABOT Table  003 2 1600

SABOT Table  004 2 1600

SABOT Table  005  2 1600

SABOT Table  007 2 1600

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SABOT Tank vrs Tank skirmish wargaming rules – part 1

SABOT Tank rules …..

sab pg 000

sab pg 004

Though I’d do a quick (ish) post and give a little background on part of the reason behind the revival in our tank replacement and production program. Sounds a bit like a 1930s re-armament program when put like that doesn’t it ….. 🙂

For really deep background we’d have to start with our 20mm collection which was/is mostly made up of models over 20years old (and that’s the assembly and painting, not the kit/mould age lol) and generally in pretty poor shape. Some time ago we decided to retire our old collection and sort of start with a new broom as my building and painting had somewhat improved over time. Actually we thought it’d be nice to have vehicles and troops as good as the stuff I was building and sending out to my customers. But as in all things other projects jumped in and apart from some Project ’46 stuff our 20mm replacement program really went nowhere.

Recent Motivation

Advance to today, well recently anyway and the major thing that got us moving again was finally locating faux fur with the right density to cut down and use as a gaming table cover. This has been on our “badly want” list for a long time and was another factor stalling our 20mm gaming. The fur once trimmed will allow proper grass cover for our whole table, with HD foam formers underneath creating undulating terrain and using place-on buildings, woods and roads etc. The great thing about the fur base is that it’s equally good for all scales, from 20mm through to 28mm and 1/48th, and maybe even 1/35th . . . hmmmmm.

So that fired us up to get back into 20mm gaming and to get our collection updated. After a bit of thought (unusual for us) the quickest bang for a buck collection wise was to focus on vehicles and the best way to use them would be for me to get my Tank vrs Tanks rules sorted out.

And so after all of the above this is why we’ve been working on tank platoon building, for use with our SABOT rules.

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And so what is SABOT?

Well basically it’s the core of our standard WW2 ruleset but expanded and focused on Tanks. The goal was to have a set of rules backed up by a first principles vehicle generator system which would allow us to create relative stats for any AFV from the WW1 A7V to the latest ultra-modern T14 Armata, and everything in between. Opposing forces can then be selected using roughly comparable AFVs and then with points values so that balanced forces can be fielded.

SABOT has optional RPG elements to it also and you can take your AFV crews through a campaign or series of battles, improving their skills and their chance of survival and success as you go. Of course crew losses have to be replaced which is done using battle experience points gained from battles. Don’t have enough EXP? then your replacement driver is going to be “Green”. Crews cost points which is added to the base AFV cost so that the total force points cost is a combination of crews and AFVs. The fun is in seeing whether your veteran crew can really make enough of a difference to win against superior numbers ….

But at it’s core we really wanted SABOT to have a Tank only – WOT feel, but without the match fixing and behind the scenes result adjustments you get in WOT. Here good tactics and a little luck rolling the dice will determine success and you can instantly feel elation rolling a lucky 12 or pain coming on with a roll of snake eyes …..

Rules Mechanisms

In SABOT each vehicle is moved individually with activation alternating between the two sides (or players if it’s a multiplayer game) and each activating one vehicle at a time until all have performed actions or been “passed over”. Each vehicle/AFV has three activation points which can be used in any way the player wishes, ie the AFV can move for 3 AP, or it can mix other actions such as move 1AP, halt 1AP and spot a target for 1AP. Vehicle characteristics such as mobility, rate of fire, gun accuracy, range-finding equipment, turret rotation speed, optics quality and others all help determine what actions can be attempted and how effective they might be.

Crew skills (fixed for the basic play version) are determined by the level of experience and training. A “trained” crew makes all it’s activation dice rolls and tests with a base value of 7 on 2d6. The system is also a “roll equal to or higher” for success as we feel it’s more natural when rolling dice to try and roll high. So when attempting to shoot a target for example, the base to hit roll required is 7 and this is then modified by both the firing vehicles actions and the targets range and actions.

The effect of successful hits is determined by both players rolling dice (2d6) with the firer adding his roll to his AFVs weapon penetration. The target player adds his dice roll to his AFV armour value, which is dependant on the location of the hit (front, side, hull down/turret, rear, top/bottom). These dice rolls allow a measure of real-world variation to the results, so a weapon of penetration lower than the target vehicles armour value still has a small chance of causing a damaging hit. This represents that lucky hit which finds the gap in the armour belt, the drivers vision block or smashes the gun tube. Likewise there is a remote chance that a smaller vehicle could bounce that potentially crippling 8.8cm hit …. for a turn at least.

Gameplay example

The best way to illustrate the gameplay flow and the use of the 3AP is (hopefully) with one of our gameplay examples;

sab gameplay

And some random pages below showing where we’re headed with the SABOT system …. still very much a work in progress 🙂

cheers
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sab pg 015-16

sab pg 019-20

sab pg 021-22

sab pg 025-26

sab pg 038

sab pg 053

sab pg 052

M4A3E8 Shermans Trumpeter 1/72nd – Project ’46 and SABOT Tank vrs Tank gaming wip2

Trumpeter Easy8s . . .

I’ve got the Sherman builds to the point where they’ll probably wait for stowage before progressing much further, we’ll before paint anyway. I’ve got the lift rings to cut off and replace and some of the small details can be added although MGs, open hatches etc will be left off until most of the paint is done.

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Modelcollect E-75 zug – Project ’46 and SABOT Tank vrs Tank gaming wip2

E-75 build action …

Some actual build progress this time. So what are my impressions? I’d have to say I’m both impressed and a little disappointed. The moulding is high quality and they build easily. The DS tracks are very easy to work with (although mine were a little long and I trimmed off a few links) and the brass gun barrel and PE really adds some bling to the kits. In other areas though they’re sort of an “almost” kit with simplified moulded on details.

The rear deck louvers for example are pretty poor and at odds with the rest of the crisp casting. They are covered by the supplied PE vent grilles however (something all German Tank kit manufacturers should supply) so maybe they cut a few corners thinking they weren’t going to be seen. The 3 access covers over the engine air-cleaners also have incorrectly positioned latches and handles, I think Modelcollect copied someone else’s effort/kit here without understanding how the hatches work lol

The suspension would be a little fiddly and fragile for some builders I suspect. The arms that most manufactures would have moulded solid are separate possibly due to moulding limitations. The weakness isn’t helped by the E75s (and E50s) single roadwheel configuration on the first and last suspension arm stations. One thing that niggles at me is when kit wheels don’t sit flat and pull up because they aren’t strong enough to support the tension of the track. So after building the first chassis I glued scrap sprue “stiffiners” underneath the suspension units making sure the first and last arms were braced. Once set solid they stayed firm when fitting tracks to the other three vehicles ….

All tools including the prominent tow ropes are moulded on. While crisp they are undersized and a but spindly. A slightly thicker moulding would have helped them stand out and allow them to be undercut with a scalpel blade. Basically for me this feature is a no-no and I removed the lot, to be replaced with wire and left overs from other kits. In a similar trend some other features seem a tad undersized but might not be noticeable under paint.

The spare track links for mounting on the turret have good detail on the side which wont be seen. The mounting lugs are moulded into the track link and look … basic. I’m going to try adding an external vertical piece (hard to explain but I’ll show what I mean in the next post) to make them look a little more “separate”. The drivers and radio operators hatches are moulded shut and this is another area where Modelcollect could have scored brownie points as I like ot have the option for open hatches, even if I end up gluing the dang things shut lol

So that’s my view on things. Nice kits which will really look the biz when painted but could have been so much more with just a small extra amount of effort. Oh almost forgot, there were a couple of minor moulding defects. The front edge of the 12.8cm mantle was short shot moulded on three of my four kits so may be quite common and the rear drive wheels on two kits had unusual stress bends which I think came from not ejecting from the mould properly. Minor niggles aside these are a must for any 1946/Paper Panzer builders and I’ll be getting a few more as I’ve a few conversions in mind ……. 🙂

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Modelcollect E-75 000  1300 Modelcollect E-75 002 1024 Modelcollect E-75 003 1024 Modelcollect E-75 007 1024 Modelcollect E-75 010 1024 Modelcollect E-75 011 1024 Modelcollect E-75 013 1024 Modelcollect E-75 014 1024 Modelcollect E-75 015 1024 Modelcollect E-75 017 1250
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Modelcollect E-75 zug – Project ’46 and SABOT Tank vrs Tank gaming wip1

Gnarly E-75 zug . . .

And yes, more tanks. This time a Modelcollect E-75 platoon (or more correctly “zug”) of two 12.8cm vehicles and for a bit of variety two 8.8cm L/100 vehicles. Ever since Modelcollect announced it’s “E” series tanks (and there’s an E-100 on the way too) I’ve been wanting to get one to have a bash at it. Prompted by the SABOT game project, instead of one E-75 my brother “gifted” me a platoon of four to assemble!

Firstly a bit of history (yes I can hear the groans over the interwebs). So keeping it brief, the E series was a proposed streamlining of German tank design allowing more commonality of parts , simplified designs where possible with they goals of improving protection, armaments and streamlining production.

The proposals included;
1 E-5
2 E-10
3 E-25
4 E-50 Standardpanzer
5 E-75 Standardpanzer
6 E-100

The E-75 was to share as many components as was practical with the lighter E-50 and both designs were visually similar to the Tiger II. A unique feature as proposed was to have rear drive so as to reduce drive train vunerablity and improve both weight distribution and maintenance/access. This feature presented many technical difficulties and the Modelcollect E-75 uses the standard “Tiger II” front drive and automotive layout. This layout is most likely to have been used as an interim solution until the rear drive technical issues could be solved.

Interestingly French postwar tank design was heavily influenced by German designs and also assisted by German Engineers. The AMX50 utilised rear drive in a format very much like that envisioned for the E50/75 series tanks. The resulting design was longer at the rear to accommodate both the engine (a Maybach design) and the transmission. The few existing original German WWII era design proposals do not allow sufficient length to allow rear drive in practical terms and it is likely that the final E50/75 series may have looked significantly different from most designs found on the web today.

Another key feature was the adoption of externally mounted suspension, the resultant space gained by removal of the torsion bars used to increase internal storage, lower the vehicles and would have allowed for floor mounted escape hatches. The system proposed used “Bellville” or stacked conical washer like springs and was intended to reduce both the complexity and un-sprung suspension weight while retaining the load bearing qualities of the larger interleaved torsion bar system. The Belleville Spring Washer system was used on the post war Swiss designed Panzer61 and is still used in some Formula 1 suspension applications.

E-Series Belleville Conical Spring Washer suspension

e75r E series bellview-conical suspension

e75r E50 conical suspension ga

E50 and E75 hull designs with rear drive.

e75r E50-E75-2

e75r AMX50 rear drive

Common impressions of what the Heavy E series tanks would have looked like.

e75r E-75 seb nast

e75r WOT E-50M

And a teaser of the project

Modelcollect E-75 025 1500 2

M26E4 Pershings Trumpeter 1/72nd – Project ’46 and SABOT Tank vrs Tank gaming wip2

Some kit building action …

Firstly why M26E4s and not the other more common Korean War or WW2 variants? Basically it’s because I prefer to model and game using my alternative war Project ’46 scenarios and vehicles.

For several reasons but primarily because it frees up my modelling allowing variations in camouflage and designs that can’t be picked at by “specialists”. If I want camo on Pershings I’ll add it. If I want to use early Centurions along with Shermans I can. And of course I’m free to convert and construct my own alternate designs. So the E4s (of which only 25 were modified) easily fits into my Project ’46 framework. As a bonus the E4 was fitted with the impressive T15 gun (90mm T15E1) and gives the medium weight Pershings some much needed firepower against the German heavies …

And so like with the Shermans I was a little unsure what to expect from the Trumpeter Pershings. In box they look good having nice sharp moulded detail. They suffer from solid lifting rings like the Shermans but they’re easily replaced. The TC hatch is open but no other so at a later date I’ll pick up another one to take the platoon numbers upto 5 and I’ll open all the hatches (scratchbuilding replacements) and fit a full crew.

Assembly went without issues although some care is required to align and level the suspension arms which are separate pieces. I fitted them first allowed the glue to almost harden attached the wheels and then adjusted them by bending until everything sat level. They were then put aside overnight to harden up.

The tracks were fitted using my normal method of bending/stretching and attaching in stages with superglue. They went on easy enough but watch the front/first roadwheel which is a reasonably weak unit and can be bent easily …. turret finishing next 🙂

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M26E4 Pilot Model

I decided to convert two of the Pershings to the pilot-model produced in WW2 and with the distinctive additional armour and gun balance cylinders. While the turret isn’t strictly correct as it should be a production M26 with additional counterbalance weights stacked on the rear, it’ll be close enough for me lol

Pics of my quick conversion (measurements, shapes and sizes done by eye) and a few pictures of the real thing …. (from various web sources and for discussion only)

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m26r 030 Super_Pershing

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m26r 032 super_pershing_6

m26r 033 super_pershing_3

m26r 034 super-pershing-4

M26E4 Pershings Trumpeter 1/72nd – Project ’46 and SABOT Tank vrs Tank gaming wip1

Trumpeter M26E4 Pershings …..

And yes there’s another unit for use with our SABOT rules on the way, 4x M26 Pershings (2x M26E4 and 2x M26E4 Pilot Models). But before the styrene pics we have some inspirational M26 pics (from Web sources and posted for discussion purposes only).

And yes, I know some vehicles pictured are M46s, but as they’re the son of the M26 so I think they still count. So what is the difference between the M26 and the later M46? Basically the M46 is an improved M26. The visual differences are engine deck, fender mounted exhausts and fume extractor on the muzzle brake end of the gun tube. The big chance was repowering the M26 (underpowered for it’s entire production run as it used the same Ford V8 as the Sherman) with the Continental AV-1790-5A V12, air-cooled Twin-turbo gasoline engine and a new transmission. They look so similar that many Korean war pictures captioned as M26s are actually M46s ……

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tr t26e4 -001 m26r 001 Tiger Face M46 m26r 002 Pershing Naktong m26r 003 US-tanks-korea m26r 004 m26pershing m26r 005 m26korea
m26r 007  USMC m46 Korea m26r 008  m46korea m26r 009 M26-Pershing-Korea m26r 010 usmc patrol north korea m26r 020 m26_pershing_05_of_14 m26r 021 m26_pershing_07_of_14 m26r 022 m26_pershing_11_of_14 m26r 023 m26_pershing_13_of_14

M4A3E8 Shermans Trumpeter 1/72nd – Project ’46 and SABOT Tank vrs Tank gaming wip1

Trumpeter M4A3E8 Shermans …..

Recently we’ve been working on another of our rulesets called SABOT designed for Tank vrs Tank skirmish gaming. Based around a home written WWII ruleset which we’ve been using since …. um …. paper was invented, but updated with some newer ideas and game mechanisms. It uses a first principles vehicle generator that allows us to create vehicle stats, tables and relative points values for everything from WWI MkIV and A7Vs to the ultra-modern M1A2 Aim/Sep/Tusk and T14 Armata.

Anyway enough blathering as the point is it’s given a long term plan plan to update our 20mm collection a much needed dose of impetus. A major part of the game-play involves deploying platoons and so we’ve adjusted our building plan to suit, which is a major change from the sporadic building of single vehicles based on pretty much a whim 🙂

So here’s one of our first platoons under construction 4x “1946” M4A3E8s, 1/72nd Trumpeter kits with some conversions using some left over Dragon kits.

Surprisingly these are the first Trumpeter kits I’ve ever assembled and wasn’t sure what to expect. Overall detail is very nice, sharp and fine. To offset this the kits have some basic features, all tools are moulded on and the lifting hooks and loops are all moulded as solid pieces and will have to be replaced. I was most worried about the tracks though as I’d heard some horror stories about “ungluable” Trumpeter tracks but fortunately I found no problems fitting or gluing them.

Two Trumpeter hulls have been cross-kitted using Dragon hulls from the spares box. One now has open drivers and radio operators hull hatches and a large split loaders hatch on the turret. The other vehicle has been modified to use a cast hull, which I think looks pretty gnarly.

And a few pics, including some inspirational ones filched from the net (for discussion purposes only of course).

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And some inspirational M4A3E8 HVSS Sherman pics …..

ref M4 with 76mm Toeven Holland1945

ref sherman-tank-old-baldy

ref congo m4

ref congo m4 -2

ref sher0022

ref kel01

Don "Wardaddy" Collier (Brad Pitt, centered) and his men Boyd Swan (Shia LaBeouf), Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman), Trini Garcia (Michael Peña) and Grady Travis (Jon Bernthal) in Columbia Pictures' FURY.

Don “Wardaddy” Collier (Brad Pitt, centered) and his men Boyd Swan (Shia LaBeouf), Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman), Trini Garcia (Michael Peña) and Grady Travis (Jon Bernthal) in Columbia Pictures’ FURY.