About Me

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My name is Gavin McClements. I am a wargamer and family man, living in Los Gatos, which is a suburb of San Jose, CA. Building terrain is one of my favorite aspects of the wargaming hobby - in fact, lately I've become more interested in making my battlefields "pop" than in actually playing.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Even the Best Laid Plans...

I had made up my mind. After a really positive reception to my PMC review, and more than a fair amount of requests for a Battle Report, I decided that today I would oblige. All my possible gaming friends were off at their cons, but PMC 2640 thoughtfully includes options for both solitaire and cooperative play. Excellent!

I did my honey do list, got the kids outdoors and into the sun (where I should be!), and convinced the wife to look the other way as I happily set about preparing my battlefield. I was going to do Scenario One: Restoring Law and Order.

After I had the village set up (including the area hit by preliminary bombing; clever me!), I sat down to write up the army lists. I opened to the section for Insurgents...and blanched.

See, the Battle Tier determines how many units you can bring, and of what type. The options were Tiers I-III (rolling a d3 to decide). I figured I could get away with no more than a Tier I game, so I set about it.

Tier I allows no Tier III units, and the Insurgents were to receive 10 Tiers-worth of troops. Oh, and they were allowed only one Tier II unit. This means they would be composed of 1 Tier II and 9 Tier I units. No, no, I thought. They need more beef. Breaking the rules, I assigned them a Tier III 8-man "Insurgents with LMG" unit before also giving them a Tier II 12-man Organized Militia. Rechecking the Force Org chart, I saw that the only other option was to give them 5x Tier I Armed Civilians....at 12 men apiece.


8+12+(5x12) = 80 models. For a Tier I battle.

I admit, my heart sank. Not because the rules are unfair, but because I'm a 6mm guy, and this teeny 15mm force is all I have. I might be able to get the Insurgents on the table, but I'd have zero ability to play the invading force!

Sorry, boyz. I tried. I'll try again when I can convince a friend to join me, or when I decide to try a 6mm game...so instead, Im going to paint some of those JR Miniatures buildings!

[EDIT: Stand by...I have an idea...]

Scratch that, reverse it...

What the heck was I thinking? I unpacked, set up, hit a snag, repacked, went back upstairs, and then came to my senses. Seriously? So I didnt have 160 models. I had my collection, and I had a new ruleset to play.

Enter: Rescue the Hostage!

It was an hour to dawn, and the small group of elite commandos surveyed the town they were to infiltrate from its outskirts. Glancing at their fellow comrades, they wouldnt have been able to detect each other in their stealth suits had it not been for the hyperimaging sensors in their powered armor suits.  Knowing the downed fighter pilot they were here to rescue was in the hands of some ruthless interrogators, it was time to get in, make the rescue, and get out.

In this scenario, I made a group of super soldiers in powered armor. They were advancing under the cover of darkness, and so I made some changes to the rules:

Sz 5 [qty of men in group], Mv 6" [move], F5 [Firefight value], R 18" [weapon range], D12 [defense: note, halfway through the game I dropped this back to 11 as 12 was too insanely high], A5 [assault value], M6 [Morale, also VERY high]. Specials: Advanced Stealth [Cannot be engaged from more than 12" while in darkness], Determined [Morale doesnt get reduced with casualties], Silenced Weapons [Will not attract enemy attention if a firefight wipes out the target and there are no other units in LOS]

Defending the town, we had:
Squad Orange: 5 Engineers [Mv 4, F3, R18", D10, A3, M5] who were working on a broken APC [M10, F3, R18", D12, A2, Struc 5] - in hind sight, the vehicle was just for show...LOL!

Blue Squad. regular riflemen [Sz 9, Mv 5, F3, F3, R18", D10, A3, M5] who were occupying some ruins at the far end of the village. It was reported that the basement of this farmhouse was where the pilot was located.

LMG Section [Sz 8, Mv 4, F3, R24", D7, A1, M4] occupying the central hill with a decent view of the approaches.

Yellow Squad, same as Blue, who were camped out in front of the two manors in town.
Here we can see the Commandos as they exchange final glances, nod, and advance as one.

Rules of the Scenario:
In solitaire mode, the player takes his turn and then OpFor takes theirs. As long as no unit is within 12" of the commandos, the commandos can act as they like, but every OpFor unit rolls 1d6 on their turn: on a 6, they can act according to the solitaire chart in the book.

Once a firefight or action had occured, this OpFor roll becomes a 5+. If a squad gets LOS on the commandos, or a firefight initiated by the power suits raises an alarm, then all OpFor units roll on the chart as normal, but add +1 to the action roll.

Opening Fire:
The Commandos advance towards the APC and the Engineers idly working on it. Huddling at the base of the hill between them and the enemy, the commandos note that the engineers are not being very discreet in their actions; it is not a hard decision to storm over the hill and engage. They do so, pulse weapons firing in brutal efficiency:

Rolling 1d10 + F5 [firefight] + Qty 2 [5 soldiers firing] + 2 Range [less than 1/2 range] + 2 Hill [elevated gives a bonus] = 1d10+11. I rolled a 9, which is an auto-hit (and as high as I could have rolled - in PMC, a 0 is a zero, not a 10. 20 vs Defense 12 (I gave the ambushed bastards some cover from the depot and the APC) meant 8 hits.You can see the dice there: 3 dead, 10 Suppression Points (SP). Their Morale dropped from 5 to 2 due to the casualties, and 10 SP is decidedly more than 3x their Morale. The Engineers wont get to act on their turn, and if they cannot clear the SP to get to 6 or less (to be eliminated you need to be MORE than 3x Morale...and you roll 1d6 per Morale stat...which is reduced by casualties. They'll roll 2d6 and cannot clear more than 1SP per die. They get auto-removed!

The silenced weapons did their job and no other enemy units are alerted to the disaster that just befell their mechanics. However, I changed the Activate roll to 5+ now instead of 6+ because a firefight occurred. No OpFor acted.

The commandos advanced to their right, around the walls, drawing closer to their charge.

The photo shows the OpFor activation rolls for the next turn, however: 3 6's. Rolling on the chart, furthest to closest from the commandos:
Yellow gets uneasy and withdraws behind their buildings, listening for radio traffic
LMG section holds, prepping their weapons
Blue squad feels that something isnt right, and leave their courtyard to investigate. They Exit their building 4".

Deciding that Power Armor would treat Medium Walls (which are Impassible) as Low Walls, the commandos jump the walls and Move into the small patch of woods in front of them, drawing closer to the suspicious Blue squad. The LMG section cannot see them yet (outside of 12", but their activation roll pushes them forward and they advance towards the APC. Yellow team gets curious, returning to their original positions. Blue team holds.

The squeeze is on:

The commandos have no perfect shot, and decide the best defense is a quick and furious offense. They Advance into the depot next to them and let rip into the LMG section. F5+R2+Q2 = +9, getting them a 14. D10 on the LMG gets 4 hits, equaling 2 SP (I later realized the LMG team only had D7, but oh well!). The firefight wasnt as conclusive as they had hoped, so the GIG WAS UP!

LMG team clears their 2 SP.
Yellow squad Move 7" forward.
Blue squad Advances around the corner of the walls and open into the back of the commandos. Since they are setting up the Crossfire but dont get the bonus yet, their roll of 13 cannot beat the Power Armor in cover (14) and miss.
The Activation roll had the LMG team Advance (move and fire) and so they did. Adding +2 from Crossfire, they achieve a 16, and the 2 hits give the commandos 1 SP.

The commandos are in some serious heat now. Failing to clear their 1SP, they stand and Fire into the LMG crew. I prepared a 1d10+10 shot but rolled a 0...whiff! Uh Oh!

Yellow squad Advance and as they climb the hill, 3 of their team are able to open fire with their assault rifles, but the roll isnt good enough.

However, the errant shots really surprise the Blue squad, who mistake the incoming shots as being directed against them (they rolled a 0 on their Action table). They fled in panic directly away from the commandos.

Bloodlust in their eyes, the LMG team Charges in, preparing for some serious Rambo action. Return fire from the commandos deals them 1SP (the Basic Fire shot was 1d10+7, but I rolled a 1, resulting in 8 vs D7).

Assault in PMC is like Epic Armageddon: it goes until it is finished.

Firing from extremely close range, the LMG crew managed 1 Sp. However, the return fire was much more vicious and punishing. 5 hits from the commandos dealt 2 casualties, Breaking the LMG team (Morale 5 - 2 = 3, SP dealt was 7, so more than 2x = Broken). They fall back 1".

Once again, the commandos fail to clear their Suppression Points, but knowing they were in a hard place, and knowing that Broken units who are assaulted are destroyed, they lunge forward and cut the LMG team down where they stand. While a beneficial auto-kill, it also put them directly under the vengeful guns of the newly arrived Yellow squad...

Hearing the cries of their brothers as they are struck down, the Blue team rallies yet again and runs back towards the firefight (the random rolls were really wreaking havoc with the OpFor's ability to coordinate, but they were fun nonetheless).

Yellow squad Advance and gather their combined weight on the top of the hill. There would be no better time or opportunity to finish off the infiltrators, and they gave it their all.

R2 + Q3 +H2 +F3 = 1d10+10 resulted in a 16 (it was during that Assault that I realized D12 for the commandos was too high), giving 5 hits. This resulted in 2 dead and 7 more SP to the commandos, for a total of 9SP. Because Determined meant that the commandos didnt lose Morale as they took casualties, 9SP was only more than their M, and not twice, so they were Suppressed only.

Here, as the commandos prepared to shake off their SP, I realized I had been rolling Morale incorrectly. I had been rolling 1d6 per SP on each squad, but this was supposed to have been 1d6 per Morale stat. Thus, the commandos rolled 6d6 and cleared 4SP, bringing their SP total to 5, which was below their Morale, and clearing the Suppression status. This happened before actions, so they then got to act.

Knowing they couldnt take another round of deadly fire from the elevated position of the enemy, they did what any sensible team of highly trained commandos in power armor would do - they charged up the hill and entered melee, taking their 5SP with them!

Return fire of 1d10+6 failed, and thus began a back-and-forth brutal engagement that eventually saw the Yellow Squad broken and they fell back the obligatory 1".

At this point, the Blue squad (furthest from the enemy) rolled yet another 0 and fled. I decided they had had enough and were done for the night. The Yellow squad cleared 2SP with their 4d6, but were still Suppressed. Suppressed units cannot move or fire, except to withdraw to the nearest cover. "Hey look, Ruins!", one shouted to another, and the team fell into them, seeking any possible escape.

It wasn't to be, however, and the grim reapers of death advanced on the cowering team, extracting their vengeance and eventually their embattled comrade....

Game Over, Man!
So that was Fun! Learning a ruleset for the first time, playing a solitaire game AND taking furious notes is always a challenge, and this one was exactly that, but I really enjoyed it.

Note: Balance was likely non-existent since I created the units, composition AND activation rules on the fly, but it got the dice flying nonetheless. Had this been a player-vs-player, the commandos would have been annihilated, but the uncertainty of the solitaire activation provided some fun. I thought the powered armor was DONE when the Blue team came around that corner, but the Yellow team scaring them off was hilarious (Hi-Larious, as Jane would say). It played pretty smoothly, and actually lasted a lot longer than I expected. As the author pointed out, casualties are pretty light, with Suppression Points being the order of the day, but I liked it.

I'll need another run with a mate soon, to get another's perspective on it, but I will certainly play this again.


  1. Really great game and war...thanks for posting!

  2. That's one of the main reason why I included solitaire section - to add the game fabular aspect easily which is nearly impossible in competetive game.
    Remember that when building OpFor you need not to keep unit composition.

  3. The astute will notice that, while the rules say that no model can be closer than 1" to another model (friend or foe), I plainly chose to ignore this rule. With these 8-man squads, it would just be too hard...although that would certainly affect a squad's Quantity bonus for firing with more members!

    I also fudged quite a bit of rolls. I wanted more cinematic action than was coming up sometimes...including damage at times! I admit, I am also one of those DM's who fudge rolls against my players in role-playing too, but not always for the bad! :)

  4. Please look at page 24 ("Unit coherency") rule again.
    No [b]unit[/b] may be closer than 1" to another [b]unit[/b]. On the other size no model can be futher than 1" from any other model from the same unit.
    These two rules have the practical goal: models within 1" are from the same unit, if the are futher than 1" they are from different units.
    The rolls... ufff... There are just a few, but very important rolls in the game. In practice it result similar to many, but less important Rolls.
    The game can be really cinematic, especially on higher priority levels. If you see the perfectly planned assaults slowed down by enemy fire or troops seeking for cover, ralling and getting back to fight or brave diversionary actions (e.g. sending assault troops in transport crafts to silence support) and so on... It's no "cinematic" like many other games with dozens of minis removed from play in one turn, but IHMO you can feel battle chaos much better.
    It comes from "True comapny scale" philosophy of the ruleset: you can play with a few and a few dozens of the units per side on the table and the game runs smooth. It can be seen also in many other aspects of the Game, such like "activate and forgot" design (all activation results resolved are solved immediately - no unnesesary counters, no notes and so on), army composition rules, all special rules are either 100% active or 100% passive, table sizes and scenarios linked with priority levels and so on. Try a bigger battle and you will see :)