Friday, June 24, 2022

Bolt Action Modern: African Market Patrol

For the latest modern battle, it was time to try out a larger game with all the painted figures I currently have in my modern collection.  This would overwhelm the Spectre rules, so we tried the modern Bolt Action variant created by Jay's Wargaming Madness. For this scenario, the Malians started in the center of the table, with the French forces rolling for arrival. The African insurgents had to deploy at least 50% of their forces, with the rest also rolling for arrival. Reinforcements could come in from any direction, as long as no opposing forces had already entered from that side during the round. I played the Western forces, while Art played the Islamic insurgents.

Round 1:

Bolt Action Modern Wargaming: French versus Islamic Insurgents: Round 1

It was market day in our Malian village, and the Forces Armées Maliennes were on patrol in the shopping district.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: Malian Armed Forces patrol the shopping district

Unfortunately for them, Islamic insurgents were waiting, and ambushed the Malians from the apartment building and neighboring shop rooftops. It was a bloodbath, with the group leader and 10 of the 12 fireteam members killed.  Surprisingly, the two survivors passed their morale test and returned fire at the apartment building, but the RPG caused no injuries.  They immediately radioed for evacuation assistance.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: African Islamic insurgents ambush a Malian patrol

A French Foreign Legion Peugeot P4 arrived from the east, and fired their MMG and HMG at the insurgents on top of the shopping complex. The insurgents were pinned, but the walls protected them from any losses.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: French Foreign Legion Peugeot P4 arrives

A Foreign Legion operative hidden in the rocks launched a small drone and started feeding data to the French command.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: French Foreign Legion launch a drone

From the south, a Foreign Legion HMG team set up and fired upon insurgents guarding an ammo dump in a residential courtyard. They were unsuccessful in their attack.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: French Foreign Legion heavy machine gun  attacks African Islamic insurgents

Legion Combat Group A arrived from the southwest and attacked the same courtyard, eliminating the insurgent cell guarding the ammo dump.  An accompanying medic also managed to shoot a member of the mortar team. In the background, the French HMG team suffered a casualty at the hands of a hidden insurgent sniper.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: French Foreign Legion infantry destroy African Islamic insurgents

From the north, Legion Combat Group B arrived to rescue the surviving Malians. The 600m team took up position in the cornfield and pinned the insurgents on the apartment rooftop, while the group leader and 300m team advanced to the back of the building.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: French Foreign Legion infantry attack from the cornfield

Unfortunately, an Islamic martyr team was hidden in the building. They fired from the windows and killed the group leader, resulting in a permanent morale penalty for Combat Group B.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: French Foreign Legion infantry under attack by African Islamic  martyrs

Round 2:

Bolt Action Modern Wargaming: French versus Islamic Insurgents: Round 2

African civilians began fleeing the market.  But was everyone really a civilian, or were suicide bombers lurking among them? At the time, they seemed to be avoiding the French.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: African civilians flee the market firefight

From the east, a new insurgent cell arrived and attacked Combat Group A, killing one member.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: African insurgents kill a French Foreign Legion trooper

Combat Group A returned fire and destroyed the insurgent cell completely.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: French Foreign Legion troopers eliminate the African Islamic insurgents

Meanwhile, a hidden French Commandos Marine (special forces) sniper team picked off another member of the mortar team in the courtyard.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: Another member of the insurgent mortar team is picked off

An insurgent team arrived from the south and began assembling a DShK HMG, with the aim of destroying Legion Combat Group A.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: African Islamic insurgents assemble a DShK heavy machine gun

An insurgent technical also arrived from the south, but the driving was so erratic, the gunner could not hit the Legion HMG. The Legionnaires pivoted and returned fire, destroying the technical. 

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: French Foreign Legion destroy and African insurgent technical

Back in the shopping district, a hidden insurgent sniper team scored a critical hit on the P4, knocking it out of the game.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: French Foreign Legion Peugeot P4 knocked out by African insurgent sniper

However, the sniper team was sloppy, and the French drone pinpointed their location as the upper floor of the Buffalo Grill restaurant.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: French drone locates  African insurgent sniper team

As luck would have it, the drone operator was also careless, and an insurgent cell arriving from the east eliminated him. As a result, the drone came crashing down and was removed from play.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: African Islamic insurgents find and kill the Foreign Legion drone operator

In the northern part of the village, the French commanding officer and his adjutant arrived to assist Legion Combat Group B. However, additional danger soon arrived in the form of another technical, this time equipped with a ZU-23 anti-aircraft gun. The technical blew Group B's 300m team to pieces, and the surviving 600m team hid in the cornfield.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: African insurgents technical kills French Foreign Legion troops

The French command team ran for cover in a rock formation, and the adjutant disabled the technical with his under-barrel grenade launcher.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: French Foreign Legion command team destroys insurgent technical

The technical's destruction brought a lot of unwanted attention to the French command team, with them being attacked by a newly arriving insurgent cell, and the insurgents on the roof of the apartment building. Luck was with the French, and the rocks provided them with the cover they needed to stay safe.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: African islmaic insurgents attack the French command team

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: African islmaic insurgents attack the French command team

Another member of Combat Group B was killed, and the two survivors were forced to go down.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: French forces hide in the cornfield

Additional insurgents arrived from the west and hid in the scrub. 

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: More African Islamic insurgents arrive for battle

Round 3:

Bolt Action Modern Wargaming: French versus Islamic Insurgents: Round 3

The French radio operator called an airstrike down on the shopping district.  It was a big bomb, killing all the insurgents on the apartment building rooftop, and setting the northern end of the building afire. The damage from the bomb was almost enough to collapse the building, but it remained standing.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: French airstrike on the apartment building

The insurgent sniper team hiding in the apartments survived, and moved to pick off the radio operator in revenge.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: Insurgent sniper kills the French radio operator

Also surviving the bombing was the martyr team, who rained down fire on the two surviving Malians, killing them.  The rescue mission was now a failure.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: Islamic martyrs kill the remaining Malians

An insurgent recoilless rifle that had been aimlessly looking for targets in the game lost a member to the Commandos Marine sniper.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: African insurgents with a recoilless rifle

Legion Combat Group A caught the insurgents before they could finish assembling their HMG, and gunned them all down.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: French Foreign Legion troops destroy and insurgent  heavy machine gun

The French command team received reinforcements from the north in the form of a Commandos Marine VLRA.  The VLRA's grenade launcher missed its mark, but the MMG  eliminated two insurgents.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: Commandos Marine VLRA on the attack

The insurgents counter-attacked the VLRA, but were repelled and ran for the cover of the rocks. The French command was waiting, and killed two more insurgents.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: French Commandos Marine VLRA repel the African insurgents

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: French command on the attack

The other insurgent cell hiding in the scrub fired their RPG at the VLRA and took it out of commission. 

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: Insurgents destroy the VLRA

Also arriving was the fanatical insurgent leader and his bodyguard.  They quickly took notice of the infidels hiding in the cornfield. 

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: the Islamic insurgent leadership arrives

Round 4:

Bolt Action Modern Wargaming: French versus Islamic Insurgents: Round  4

The Islamic command team charged into the cornfield and killed the last Legionnaires of Combat Group B.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: French Combat Group B eliminated

The two remaining insurgents in the rocks charged the French command, but were killed.  Unfortunately, the adjutant was also mortally wounded.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: Insurgents and French in bloody hand to hand combat

The other insurgent cell unsuccessfully tried to shoot down the French commander, but they were quickly gunned down by the newly arrived Combat Group C. 

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: French Combat Group C arrives and eliminates the insurgents

The Islamic martyr cell exited the burning apartment building and attempted to drive off Combat Group C, but failed.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: Islamic martyrs unsuccessfully attack

In the east, a squad of Commandos Marine infantry destroyed another cell of insurgents.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: Commandos Marine special forces finally arrive and get to work

At the southern end of the village, a huge firefight broke out between several units of French and insurgents.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: Southern firefight

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: Southern firefight

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: Southern firefight

A Legionnaire sniper team that had been hiding atop the grocery dialed in on the restaurant snipers and finished them off.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: French Legionnaire sniper team

But they were spotted themselves, and came under attack by the apartment snipers. 

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: French snipers under fire

Round 5:

Bolt Action Modern Wargaming: French versus Islamic Insurgents: Round 5

Civilian children ran towards the Commandos Marines, not as suicide bombers, but looking for safety. The troopers correctly assessed they were not a threat, and spent the turn getting them out of the area.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: French Commandos Marine rescue the children

The firefight on the south end of town continued, and the insurgent mortar team was eventually eliminated.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: The firefight continues

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: The insurgent mortar is destroyed

Back in the shopping district, the Legionnaire sniper team was driven off by the apartment snipers.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: Snipers versus snipers

The  French commander managed to kill the insurgent leader's bodyguard, but was gunned down from behind by the martyr cell.

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: Commander  versus commander

Bolt Action Modern 28mm Wargaming: The French leader falls

End:

Bolt Action Modern Wargaming: French versus Islamic Insurgents: End

With that, we decided to call an end to the game. Though the French killed a larger number of insurgents, per the victory point system (1pt per Western soldier eliminated versus 1pt per Insurgent unit eliminated), they were still the losers in this battle. That said, it was a good learning experience and we had a lot of fun. With all the RPGs and other high firepower weapons on the table, the game was a lot deadlier than we expected; the unarmored vehicles had a particularly short lifespan. There were a few rules that weren't completely clear, so we had to come up with some gentlemen agreements on the fly. The modern variant also didn't have point values available for the different units, so trying to create a balanced game was a bit of guess work. But overall, a good addition (though unofficial) to the Bolt Action gaming system. 

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Sahel Conflicts: Insurgent Heavy Weapons

 My terrorist force for Mali continues to expand with the addition of some more heavy weapons.

28mm Modern African terrorist miniatures for Mali and the Sahel : Empress technical, Quartermaster 3D/ JJG Print 3D DShK and mortar

First up is a mortar team, designed by Quartermaster 3D for their Iraqi line, and printed by JJG Print 3D. The set comes with two figures, but I've added a third crew member sine that's the standard for Bolt Action. I've also included a sperate spotter to call in strikes from his cell phone. 

28mm Modern African terrorist miniatures for Mali and the Sahel : Quartermaster 3D/JJG Print 3D mortar

28mm Modern African terrorist miniatures for Mali and the Sahel : Quartermaster 3D/ JJG Print 3D mortar spotter

The DShK heavy machine gun was also procured from the same source as above. The kit only includes one crewman, so I have again bumped it up to three members, and also added a resin ammo crate I had.

28mm Modern African terrorist miniatures for Mali and the Sahel : Quartermaster 3D/ JJG Print 3D DShK machine gun

28mm Modern African terrorist miniatures for Mali and the Sahel : Quartermaster 3D/ JJG Print 3D DShK machine gun

Lastly is a second technical, this time from Empress Miniatures. Rather that get another heavy machine gun, I opted for the ZU-23 anti-aircraft gun. You have a few head options available for the crew, but I didn't think any looked right for my force. Using a photo of Malian militia on motorbikes as inspiration, I opted to use plastic heads from Warlord's 8th Army and Natal Natives sprues. I didn't glue the ZU-23 into the truck, so it can be shifted around in the bed to indicate the correct firing arc, and also deployed independently.

28mm Modern African terrorist miniatures for Mali and the Sahel : Empress technical with ZSU-23 AA gun

While I like the ZU-23 model, I have to admit I was underwhelmed with the truck and found it lacking in detail when compared to my Footsore technical. The Empress truck includes no side mirrors (mine came from the bits box), there is no detailing in the truck bed (added in some plasticard), and the rear bumper needed a step (plasticard again). In my opinion, that's poor showing from Empress. 

28mm Modern African terrorist miniatures for Mali and the Sahel : Empress technical with extra detailing

Rather than being based on the common Toyota Land Cruiser 70 series like the Footsore counterpart, this technical is built on a smaller truck frame (maybe a 90's era SR5?). Compared to the Footsore truck, the width and length aren't too significantly different.

28mm Modern African terrorist miniatures for Mali and the Sahel : Empress technical size vs Footsore technical

However, what is significantly different is the height of the cab. While the Empress technical does sit closer to the ground with smaller wheels, it feels like a 28mm figure would never fit inside the cab.

28mm Modern African terrorist miniatures for Mali and the Sahel : Empress technical size vs Footsore technical

Here is a kneeling heroic 28mm figure (same size range as Empress' own miniatures) and as you can see, the figure would be bumping his head against the ceiling even without accounting for a seat.  In my opinion, this is a really irksome design error that makes the technical look undersized on the table when placed next to other vehicles.

28mm Modern African terrorist miniatures for Mali and the Sahel : Empress technical size


In conclusion, I give a big thumbs up to the Quartermaster 3D figures, but find myself once again disappointed with the Empress moderns. It's a real shame, as I have figures from their other ranges and absolutely love them. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Sahel Conflicts: French Special Forces and Malian Army


The western aligned forces have expanded again, with the addition of elements from the French 1st Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment (1er R.P.I.Ma) and the Malian Army.

28mm Modern African Miniatures for Wargaming the Sahel: French Special Forces (1er RPIMa) and Malian Army from Eureka and  JJG Print 3D

First up is a special forces version of the VLRA truck from JJG Print 3D. This is a fairly large vehicle, approximately 12cm long and 4.5cm wide, when printed in 1/50 scale. A 1/56 version is also available. 

28mm Modern African Miniatures for Wargaming the Sahel: French Special Forces (1er RPIMa) VLRA Truck from JJG Print 3D

28mm Modern African Miniatures for Wargaming the Sahel: French Special Forces (1er RPIMa) VLRA Truck from JJG Print 3D

The crew is sold separately, and to fit the figures in the cab, you will need to trim back the feet and also temporarily cut out the steering wheel to position the driver.

28mm Modern African Miniatures for Wargaming the Sahel: French Special Forces (1er RPIMa) VLRA Truck from JJG Print 3D

Despite JJG packing the box well, the trip across the Atlantic still resulted in a lot of breakage, with all of the guns and side mirrors being broken off, and 3 out of 4 wheels also broken. The front assembly took the worst of it, being shattered into 5 sperate pieces before I pinned it back together (I also got the rear tire glued on incorrectly at first, though I finally noticed and fixed it on the final model). JJG did include some extra machine guns and mirrors, which helped significantly with repairs. The only item I couldn't put back together was one of the handles on the grenade launcher, so I did my best to build a new one out of wire. 

28mm Modern African Miniatures for Wargaming the Sahel: French Special Forces (1er RPIMa) VLRA Truck from JJG Print 3D

One very odd thing about the crew is they are undersized, being only 25mm foot to eye (89% of the 28mm infantry figures). I don't know if this was due to a printing error or if it's intentional to fit the 1/56 version of the truck, but I felt the final visual of the figures in the 1/50 truck was poor when compared to the P4 and the infantry.

28mm Modern African Miniatures for Wargaming the Sahel: French Special Forces (1er RPIMa) VLRA Crew from JJG Print 3D

28mm Modern African Miniatures for Wargaming the Sahel: French Special Forces (1er RPIMa) VLRA Truck vs P4 from JJG Print 3D

28mm Modern African Miniatures for Wargaming the Sahel: French Special Forces (1er RPIMa) VLRA Truck vs Infantry from JJG Print 3D

The smaller size also caused some issues in placing the figures in the truck, particularly for the grenade launcher turret. The gunner wouldn't seat properly, so I ended up placing him with the rear machine gun and adding an extra P4 crewmember I bought near the turret (who still had to stand on a box to be tall enough). That said, I think it won't be immediately noticeable when looking down at the table.

For the special forces infantry, I went with a 6-man squad along with a 2-man sniper team from JJG.  These were also damaged in transit, with all but one barrel broken and replaced by wire.

28mm Modern African Miniatures for Wargaming the Sahel: French Special Forces (1er RPIMa) from JJG Print 3D

For aesthetic reasons, I decided to only use Multicam on the uniforms, and left the webbing and other gear in plain green and earth tones. In my attempt at Multicam, I used the following paint recipe: 
Base: Vallejo 819 Iraqi Sand
Large spots: Vallejo 988 Khaki
Small Spots: Vallejo 875 Beige Brown and Vallejo 893 US Dark Green mixed with AK 3024 Light Green
Squiggles: Vallejo 918 Ivory and 822 Camouflage Black/Brown
Wash: Vallejo Mecha 521 Oiled Earth mixed with Vallejo Mecha 522 Desert Sand

The 6-man team consists of 3 standard HK 416 rifleman, a minimi machine gunner, a grenadier with a M203 under-barrel launcher, and a final rifleman with a Benelli M4 shotgun.

28mm Modern African Miniatures for Wargaming the Sahel: French Special Forces (1er RPIMa) from JJG Print 3D

28mm Modern African Miniatures for Wargaming the Sahel: French Special Forces (1er RPIMa) from JJG Print 3D

The sniper team consists on one member with a PGM Hecate II anti-material rifle, and the other with the HK 417 marksmen rifle. I've attempted to camouflage both guns according to real world examples.

28mm Modern African Miniatures for Wargaming the Sahel: French Special Forces (1er RPIMa) from JJG Print 3D

Next up are members of the Malian armed forces. I couldn't find any African figures with the appropriate equipment mix I wanted, so I opted to use Eureka Afghan National Police, along with an insurgent leader from JJG. This resulted in a few figures with facial hair, bit I'm hoping it doesn't look too out of place. 

28mm Modern African Miniatures for Wargaming the Sahel: Malian Army from Eureka Afghan National Police

There are quite a few different camouflage patterns in use in Mali, but I opted for Centre Europe Woodland and a light DPM, which I have seen deployed together in photos.

Woodland:
Vallejo 884 Stone Grey, 893 US Army Green, 871 Leather Brown, 950 Black washed with Vallejo Mecha 521 Oiled Earth mixed with 522 Desert Sand

DPM:
Vallejo 971 Green Grey, 896 Extra Dark Green, 822 Camouflage Black/Brown washed with Secret Weapon Green Black

28mm Modern African Miniatures for Wargaming the Sahel: Malian Army from Eureka Afghan National Police

While I am considering adding a Malian BRDM-2 in the future, this will effectively close out my forces for this side and I'll be focusing on more insurgents moving forward.