Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Desert Eagle.....

will it fly?

I'm beginning to think the answer is yes. That's YES!

Up-armoured HMMWV, this one from MoI Emergency Response Unit

I'm grateful to Le Duc for his recent after action report of Dragon Rampant. I have now obtained a copy of this from Amazon and I'm very glad I did. 

Before it arrived I had reached some conclusions about units and vehicles that I think will solve the issues I was having defining them. DR has opened my eyes to some further opportunities for defining units as well as new areas such as the use of the DR leadership characteristics and spells (alright not quite spells but summoning up a drone strike is quite spooky!). From my point of view DR opens up wider horizons than LR, which was properly focussed on historical models. Its great so if you haven't got a copy, get one now!

Today's thoughts are around units:

Team: 6 SPs (DR influence!), six men with small arms, LMG and AT weapon. These can be elite Special Forces, Counter-terror troops, Police SWAT teams or terrorist cell, foreign fighters or Iranian Qods Force commandos. Don't forget Presidential body guards or Spetznaz. Special rules apply such as Fleet Footed, Invisible, Evade, Skirmish amongst others.

Squad: 12 SPs, up to 12 men with full range of small arms, LMG and AT weapons. Variable characteristics such as Army, Police Commandos (Emergency Response Units), Militia (tribal or PMF), Army of Adversity etc. Big range of capabilities and potential upgrades.  

Iranian ZSU 23-2

Weapons team: 6 SPs, around 6 men with specialist weapons. These include HMG (.50 cal or Dushka), recoilless rifle (106mm or SPG9), AA gun (ZSU23-2), sniper and support. I'm thinking about some rules around "news gatherers" and potentially IED controllers or S-VEST teams. I see that DR has exploding rats, nuff said.

ISF special forces 2015

Vehicles: These are separate units and, like creatures in DR, have their own SP. Currently these look like:

  • Light vehicles: 6 SPs, may be transports, technicals or VB-IEDs. May be ugraded with armour or weapons.
  • Medium vehicles: 12 SPs, trucks, IED resistant vehicles of all types, APCs or large VB-IEDs. Options for upgrading.
  • Heavy vehicles: Tanks, upgrades for professional crew etc. There will be limited definitions here since the usual reaction from anyone in the real world is "WTF...its a tank!" even if it isn't. 

Lots more to do on this but it is looking very promising.

Friday, 22 July 2016

A little light dusting....

and another idea!

I'm waiting to go out to collect one of my kids so have just been doing a little tidying up. I have added a page for my attempt at the FiveCore Company Command hex grid conversion. The rules are on at Wargames Vault at the moment for under $5 so if you don't have them now's the time to invest.

Competent looking ISF in May 2016 near Fallujah. Who are these guys?

The idea....well. Each unit has an activation rating: 2 best, 6 worst. Each side rolls a d6 at the start of its turn. Only units = or < than the score can activate. If one side is on the offensive or has a major advantage give them +1 or 2 on the die roll. If defending, you may have one or more d6 in reserve that you can throw (and use up) to see if you can improve a critical score (i.e. if roll 1 when you need a 4, use your reserve die and see if you can better it). 

Really competent sides might be able to re-allocate a successful roll to a unit that is not activated (e.g. score 2 and your special forces guys are good to go but if you really need a militia unit to move you might re-allocate that success on a die roll). This needs some officers to achieve I think.

Idea brought about by trying to simplify the Rampant rules. Of which I should mention ordering Dragon Rampant on the inspiration of Le Duc. Creatures = tanks? I don't know yet but will give it some thought.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

What's in a name?

...quite a lot actually!

Russians in Syria attempting to defeat a VB-IED

I have started calling this project Desert Eagle. To be certain that it still gives due regard to the original Lion Rampant, which I think is only polite, the full nomenclature is now: 
Desert Eagle: A modern warfare implementation of Lion Rampant
Other nomenclature issues requiring beer and deep thought have been raised by the Duc. The key one is "toughness" what is it and what should we call it? In the rules it is used to assess the degree to which the target unit can resist the effects of combat. So, how many hits convert into casualties.

Some of you may find this discussion a little near the edge of acceptability but we live in an age where we can see much of what is happening on the ground (like it or not) and it makes sense to try to interpret it. The photo above is a still from a newsreel showing Russian troops with a technical attempting to destroy a VB-IED coming fast in their direction. The VB-IED was successfully destroyed but not early enough to prevent the indicated soldier being killed in the blast. The story is here.

These troops demonstrated great courage (and confidence in their abilities) but were vulnerable to the effects of the enemy weapon. These are the concepts that I am trying to get across in Desert Eagle but am currently failing to adequately describe. 

Lets start with "toughness". This was used in the Eagles Rampant adaptation in WI to replace the medieval characteristic "armour". This indicates the level of protection of troops defending themselves from shooting. In the original Lion Rampant this is about arrows and the defensive effects of body armour ranging from none to full plate. In the case of Desert Eagle, this is about body armour which ranges from none to (again!) plate carriers. It also includes ballistic helmets and additional armour on vehicles. This is for protection against bullets and bombs (IEDs). But it is also about tactical issues such as dispersal and use of terrain. In fact with VB-IEDs it is also about throwing up earth berms to keep them at a distance.        

VB-IED going off
I have therefore done some more research about terminology and what we might call survivability. Wikipedia gives us this:
In the military environment, survivability is defined as the ability to remain mission capable after a single engagement. Engineers working in survivability are often responsible for improving four main system elements:
  • Detectability - the inability to avoid being aurally and visually detected as well as detected by radar (by an observer).
  • Susceptibility - the inability to avoid being hit (by a weapon).
  • Recoverability - longer-term post-hit effects, damage control, and firefighting, capability restoration, or (in extremis) escape and evacuation.
The European Survivability Workshop introduced the concept of "Mission Survivability" whilst retaining the three core areas above, either pertaining to the "survivability" of a platform through a complete mission, or the "survivability" of the mission itself (i.e. probability of mission success). 
My vote therefore is to replace armour/toughness with Vulnerability for Desert Eagle.

ISF troops approaching Fallujah (AFP/Getty)
The other issue is the courage rating. How many hits can you take before running away? This in LR is a reaction test to casualties or other criteria, such as loss of a leader. I think that in DE it might have wider application. In the example above, would your troops have stood and contested a VB-IED? Other video shows that apparently rag-tag ISF units are not only alert to VB-IEDs but identify them early and seek to engage them. We see individuals running towards them and shouldering rifles and RPGs to lay down defensive fire.

Le Duc has come up with the concept of Willingness to Fight, or WTF! In the case of potential reasons for testing morale, a WTF test might well be very appropriate. I'm therefore going to use WTF in place of courage, representing the ability of troops to withstand threats other than simple reactions to casualties.  

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Desert Eagle...

lookin' good so far!

I have had some nice feedback from Duc and Norm on the first (incomplete) draft. 

AFP Photo: "Elite" troops on the edge of Fallujah with an S60 57mm AA gun(?)
I'm not blowing my own trombone here but I think it is really useful to review feedback and understand the issues. Points from Duc:

Really liked what I saw in Dragoon Rampant, and my hankerin' for a decent modern ruleset made me sit up and take notice when I saw this. Good points re. unit behaviour and the contrast between high and low quality units - and there's no reason why the rules can't work.
With the activation rules in a setting such as Blackhawk Down, we could easily see small units being able to fend off gathering masses...who may not activate so easily. Really good potential here - can't wait to give them a try.
I always hate the 'toughness' term (I think it reminds me of Warhammer LOL) and as it represents ability to hug cover in this instance, have always tried to find a better descriptor - but nothing is jumping to mind...'staying power' just don't cut it. Maybe 'Courage Under Fire (CUF)' for courage.
Love the man down option for CASEVAC. I can these working beautifully for Vietnam - and effectively undermining what the commander would like to do.
Great work - thanks for sharing.

Toughness is difficult to define and name. I see it as a combination of body armour/personal protection equipment and tactics. Good kit and good tactics minimise casualties (which is what we are looking at). Courage or resilience is what the courage test measures. It may be better to refer to toughness as protection or defence. I'll have a think.

The CASEVAC thing is interesting because it is a direct battlefield reaction rather than a casualty evacuation scenario like Blackhawk Down. To my mind, taking casualties will actually immobilise a standard western unit.  

AFP: Photo: An ISF team advancing

Here's a view from Norm:   
Jay - a good start. My initial question before starting reading was wondering how individual items such as HMG or inherent LMG could be handled, but your categories look good ...... Even a sniper, which surprised me. I bought Lion Rampant a few weeks ago and love the artwork, it instantly gave me a nostalgia trip of the sort of imagery used in my childhood Ladybird books like Richard III. 

The sniper thing is really interesting. The US Marine scout sniper motto is "Kill one, terrorise a thousand" (Sun Tzu). I see snipers not as pinpoint killers of key personnel (although they do do this) but as an area denial weapon. I remember watching a fascinating programme about Marines in Iraq occupying the highest building in a town and shooting anyone who looked like they were going to plant an IED. Ignoring possible legal issues, this prevented the enemy operating in the area. A different effect from suppressive fire from an HMG, for example, more a psychological impact. Reminds me of the Sarajevo sniper problem.

I think that Lion Rampant is probably the most revolutionary set of rules I have ever seen. It reminds me of DBA to that extent. But DBA stuff always seemed to be DBA whereas LR can morph into different ages and arenas. I'm excited about undertaking the next stage of this. Maybe I can leave work early tomorrow!

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Desert Eagle Rampant...

you what?

I wasn't sure what I should call my current work in progress. As the original conversion of Lion Rampant to Napoleonics in WI was entitled Eagle Rampant, my modern version is entitled Desert Eagle Rampant (DER). I'm afraid that Operation Breaking Terrorism Rampant doesn't feel quite right but Desert Eagle flows from Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Hey ho!

Moody shot of ISF approaching Fallujah
The proposition here is that Lion Rampant, a medieval semi-skirmish game, can be converted into a modern era squad level combat game. That may be quite a stretch. However, I think the LR engine is excellent. I felt very happy with the modifications that produced Dragoon Rampant. If I had any spare time I would be playing that tonight!  

The initial DER work is going really well so I thought I would post the rules as they are developing and invite some comments. Here they are. Unless I have to step in as leader of the Labour Party, I'll post the interesting bits (unit details) at the weekend.

Saturday, 2 July 2016


the final stages

Popular Mobilisation units in action north of Baghdad May 28, 2015.
I have just put the finishing touches to the outstanding components of the Battle for Ramadi game. This includes the really important operations board (without which the game can't be played!), VP and casualty tracks and track markers. You can find them here

The critical target of the Ramadi operation
My next adventure will be the Battle of Fallujah (Op. Breaking Terrorism). I have previously said that, unlike Ramadi, there seemed to be little information about the action. Having reviewed various sources I'm now fairly certain that there is enough material to develop a follow-up to the Ramadi game. It may end up a little different as the operational circumstances are different and there are significantly greater forces engaged.

However, I have a couple of jobs to do first. With Ramadi I plan to play test a full game and record it in photos for this blog. This may take a little while to do but will be important as it will "fix" the rules in place before I look at Fallujah. The other thing I have in mind following reviewing a lot of footage of the current fighting is a further Lion Rampant version dealing with modern small unit/asymmetrical warfare. It might be quite good!