No, I'm not suggesting that nefarious types are responsible for me not having finished painting the other three superheroes. That is my own doing. Unless the weather this week is really being controlled by the NWO/MIB/(insert your choice of conspiracy organisation here)...
Monday night saw me playing another game in the runup to Sunday's club game of Jutland; this time the stern chase from Dogger Bank. On Tuesday I was at a Safety/Fire/Facilities etc exhibition at the Excel all day and by the time I got home my hip and knee joints were aching like mad so I didn't feel like painting. Wednesday evening was hot and humid which left me too lethargic to do any painting. As for last night...
Well, I was playing Black Ops with Simon at the club, which provided a welcome break from all the stuff on TV and the 'net about the EU referendum. But that's enough about that - let's just say that we are now living in interesting times...
Anyway, back to Black Ops. For those that don't know these are the rules from Osprey, written by Guy Bowers (editor of Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy) for small unit modern special ops type games.
Simon's force was the People's Vegetarian Liberation Army, a bunch of pretty low quality types; I had the Colonel Sanders' Contractors who were (meant to be) a well trained effective paramilitary unit.
We'd agreed to try out the Stealth scenarios, just to see how they worked. After setting out terrain we rolled to determine the mission for the first game - sabotage. My Contractors had to blow up a cache of weapons (Simon decided that these were Tofu Grenades) in a compound; he was defending with half his force on guard patrol and the rest (including his "Ace") asleep in barracks. I split my force and came in from two edges - the plan was for one team to get into the compound and blow up the tofu stockpile while the other team provided cover.
Everything went well at first. My entry team got into positions without being seen and I decided it was time to enter the compound. Which was when things went tits up. There was a sentry right by the entry point who I decided to take out quietly in close quarter combat. My guy rolled a 1, Simon's sentry rolled a 6, my guy died, Simon's was now activated. What the heck, open fire! Unfortunately all my aimed shots missed their targets and I'd made enough nose to arouse Simon's Ace and activate him. And as he had potential line of sight to some of my guys, he was able to raise the alarm straight away (unless he rolled a one on his reaction roll, which he didn't).
Now, I had carefully positioned the support gunner from the entry team on the roof of a building overlooking the compound. Unfortunately, this turned out to be the barracks where the rest of the PVLA were quartered. They activated next, came out of the building and some started shooting while the rest made their way round to the steps up to the roof.
Meanwhile one of my guys had got into the compound and next to the Tofu cache. He just had to stay next to it for 2 activations and the job would be done. He almost made it, but the PVLA ace took him out (having walked straight past him once in the dark) before he could get the second activation. By then I'd lost 5 of my 8 guys and had to take a break test - I failed which meant my guys had to fall back, leaving the Tofu cache intact.
Sadly, my professionals didn't seem able to shoot for toffee. Mind you, his guys with the RPGs weren't much better as all there shots were complete misses (well, we did declare the first one as a hit on a tree which was behind the guy he shot at!). To a large degree I wasn't helped by Simon having a long run of activation cards which meant he was able to take out most of my unit without me being able to do anything about it.
We then took a short break before playing a second game. This time I was defending - the mission rolled was espionage and the site was a village. Simon had to steal a communication device (to stop Colonel Sanders broadcasting adverts extolling the eating of finger lickin' good chicken). Half my troops would be guards on table, the others were off table patrolling and would only come on when the alarm was raised.
Simon managed to get into the village undetected and get to the transmitter without the alarm being raised. Even after lots of gunfire and RPGs being fired (I rolled a few natural ones). Eventually the alarm was raised and my reinforcements came on. the riflemen must have been practicing as they were able to shoot and took out several PVLA guerillas (unlike their support gunner who still couldn't shoot for toffee and got killed almost immediately). However, numbers told and my unit was soon reduced to just two guys, with the transmitter having been stolen and sneaked out of the village almost unmolested (my "Ace" couldn't shoot for toffee either). In hindsight, I should probably have placed the transmitter more centrally as the PVLA got to it far too quickly, which meant there was less opportunity for my guards to spot them and for the alarm to be raised.
So, what do I think of the rules? They're fun and allow for fast, bloody play. They're quick to pick up, but the card activation can be quite brutal if one side gets a long run of activations. Before Black Ops we would have used Force on Force/Tomorrow's War for this sort of game, but it could be tediously slow and the initiative system was a pain. Black Ops allows for fast play, isn't complex but does capture the feel of this type of operation (OK, maybe a bit bloodier than it would be). The stealth rules played well as the guard reactions are dependent on the amount of noise you make getting there (noise markers are added for running, climbing, shooting etc) and guards only roll for reactions if they have potential line of sight to an attacker - otherwise they either stay still or move 3 inches straight ahead. the wording of the Observation rule and how it would work in stealth scenarios did cause some confusion.