NOTE: Parenthetical comments in the following blog entry were inserted by Peggy in an effort to give Shawn's ramblings some foundation in reality.
Some of you may be curious as to what we're working on behind the imposing walls of AAG Towers, so I thought I'd take a moment from bossing around all my (purely imaginary) corporate underlings to share what news I can (remember) with you!
I'll start with the "de-classified" (already leaked) stuff first!
We've all been hard at work on BY DAGGER AND TALON (Translation: Shawn has been mercilessly driving the play test team and forced them to work over the Thanksgiving holiday)! The book is coming along great. I think you all are really going to get a kick out of it. If you haven't heard, the main focus of the book is an examination of how to create alien races and "Enhanced Special Operations Forces" (ESOFs) for Tomorrow's War. We think the book will give you the tools to develop just about any alien race you can imagine - and design cyborg, synthetic, genetically altered, etc., commandos to bring 'em down!
For Tomorrowverse fans, the book also gives extensive details on the "Opening of Human Space" - the events that led up to Humanity taking its place among the other intelligent races of our galaxy. You'll see Mankind making powerful allies . . . and falling afoul of some very powerful enemies. You'll also get an up-close look at the First Darghaur Incursion, in which the colony world of Glory found itself invaded by a powerful alien force and thrust into a war of resistance until reinforcements from Earth, Grissom, and the other major colonies could arrive.
It's a pretty exciting book, full of new Attributes, a few new rules, 10 new scenarios, a bunch of alien and ESOF organization descriptions, and an in-depth look at humanity's new arch-enemy, the enigmatic Darghaur.
Not happy to throw humanity into a war of extermination with the Darghaur, we decided to sic the zombies on it, too. We've been quietly laboring away on a new version of Ambush Z. This new version will incorporate some of the improvements made to the AAG game engine in Force on Force/Tomorrow's War and will also feature some modifications to give the game a more free-wheeling, cinematic feel. We're going full force into the zombie apocalypse this time around and the resulting rule-book is going to be a great tool kit for any devotee of the shambling (and/or sprinting) dead.
Did I mention that the new edition of Ambush Z will feature Heroic Survivors? Expanded Solo/Co-op Play? (He knows he didn't. Don't encourage him by playing along. - The book does have those things, though. Cool, huh?)
We've also got a couple of projects well under way in the AAG Skunk Works (it's called that because Shawn spends a lot of time in there drinking beer and eating tacos). Here's the thing about the Skunk Works: Some projects that go in there come out, others don't. It's kind of like an arena in which a concept either proves hardy enough to live or expires quietly (The same is true of people who enter the area - see the beer and tacos remark above). One "black" project we're working on at the moment looks very promising - if it makes the cut I think a lot of our old fans will be very pleased. Time will tell (But Shawn will probably leak the information before then).
Well, that's about all I have time for now! It's time for me to get back to the grindstone (Grindstone is his codeword for couch - "putting his nose to it" is his euphemism for taking a nap) and put my nose to it! No rest for the wicked! (But plenty of naps for the lazy.)
Best wishes as always,
What we now consider to be special operations forces have had many ups and downs in the US military since the end of the Second World War. Their clear utility has often gotten lost in their unconventional nature, with conventional military leadership often viewing them with at best skepticism and at worst outright hostility. The end of the conflict in Southeast Asia, where unconventional units thrived, and a subsequent drawdown in the size of the US military, followed by the abortive hostage rescue attempt in Iran in 1979, did little to change the opinions of their detractors.
Still, various events, including the outcome of Operation Eagle Claw/Evening Light in the Iranian desert, suggested the need for more attention to special operations forces. In 1983, then Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger had articulated a need to revitalize special operations forces "as a matter of national urgency." By 1987, a unified command for such forces, US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM or SOCOM) had been established. In the twilight of the Cold War and in the immediate period thereafter, special operations forces were called upon to conduct a wide array of missions around the world, including major operations in Latin America (US interventions in Grenada and Panama), Southwest Asia (the response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait), and Europe (in response to conflicts in the Balkans).
After 9/11, special operations forces took the successes of the previous 2 decades and have since entered a major renaissance, becoming primary actors in a variety of missions around the world. Ambush Alley's final supplement this year, CLASSIFIED: Special Operations Missions, 1943 - 2011, will highlight special operations from World War II onward and look closely at the sorts of missions special operations forces are called on to perform.
GlobalSecurity.org has also been working to update and expand its coverage of special operations elements, a task which is ongoing. Coverage of US special operations forces is generally good at various locations around the web. Coverage of the nebulous alphabet soup of the numerous special operations task forces (and task forces associated with special operations forces) that have come and gone over the last decade of persistent conflict, some of which continue to operate is generally less detailed. What follows here is a sort of glossary of known special operations task forces and associated task forces from the last decade or so. Important terms to note are task force, joint, and combined. A task force is in essence a grouping of elements not organic to each other. In US military parlance, joint means combining forces from multiple services, while combined means combining US forces with those of other countries. In addition, a task force name is often used to refer to such entities, often without the modifiers.
++ Whiskey Echo Echo One. Come in, Whiskey Echo Echo One. This is Alpha November Delta Yankee calling. You receiving? Over++
++Roger that, Alpha November Delta Yankee. This is Whiskey Echo Echo One. You are being received loud and clear. Please report++
It may seem odd as an opening shot on a company’s product line to kick off with a supplement, and not even the latest one at that. But Ambush Valley was a release from Ambush Alley Games through Osprey that I know I wasn’t alone in waiting for with baited breath.
It wasn’t by accident or lack of choice that when we put together our first demo game for Force on Force at Arkham Gaming Centre, that we picked the Nam mission from the rule book, and bought up every Westwind Productions 'Nam model we had on the shelves, and then some.
Everyone has a fetish and taste when it comes to a wargame period and Vietnam for myself and many others comes pretty darn high up the list. So while we will look at Force on Force itself shortly, its to Ambush Valley’s Vietnam expansion that my first display of fandom must be given.
There’s no guff when you pick up an Osprey/ AAG publication. The writing style and content assume a level of awareness and talk to you like a grown up. The introduction tips its hat to the original pdf from Ambush Valley, but this is no mere glossed up reprint. In Ospreys style and with AAG now having that firm backing to take things up a level, the book provides the wargamer a lavish background to the events of the time, accurate troop types and many exciting missions.
We see sections for example that give us the lowdown on how the VNMC Infantry Company worked, and what stats it should have, accompanied by designer’s notes on VNMC Armour and why it is what it is and how it should operate. Special Rules are clearly highlighted right next to the Unit descriptions for the troops they refer too and best of all are the Historical Notes, which detail the real and actual events or methods of operation that the various Troops or missions called for.
The 6 Missions that are included detail everything you need to play in the Vietnam era including unit composition, deployment, and terrain. As with all AAG FOF missions, those based on real events are accompanied by Historical Outcomes and what really transpired. The Missions are varied and represent the different nations and actions that took place in the region. The sheer wealth of data, which is very accessible within the book, allows you to easily understand and make your own missions. While FOF is not a points based game, the method of developing balanced missions isn’t rocket science - and any amount of willing help and advice exists on the AAG Forums itself.
A Section at the start outlines all the New or adapted Rules specific to Nam, this is another reason I Love FOF. You don’t get bogged down in an ever expanding rules set. The Core rules are what they are, and anything new is only applicable to the theatre of combat you have selected, AAG generally keep the rules representative, sensible and straight forward. Their core aim being that you have an enjoyable and absorbing game that accurately depicts the conflict being fought, but doesn’t descend into a dice and rule fest that forgets about gameplay and fun.
If you are a follower of Vietnam, then Ambush Valley is a worthwhile resource, even if you never play FOF, its detailed as you would expect from the stable its sprang from. It is clear to read and broken down into sections that flow together, not fight for your attention. The Book itself is 177 pages long, including the FOW Fog of War cards to copy and use in play. Full colour, with pictures both of miniatures in play and art work from Osprey’s other related publications.
Here’s another joy, with AAG/Osprey you always get plenty of colour plates of the various troops and their uniforms, making painting your models that little bit handier. Unless you’re a total fact freak who needs every last detail 100% right :-)
Those unsure where to start are aided by the suggestion of companies already producing ‘Nam Minis in various scales. While most FOF is about the MEN, I have to say this is one supplement that cries out and in your blood you know it’s true, to have Hueys, tanks and APCs trundling around, playing ride of the valkyries in the background while you wear your tin hat and chew on a cigar.
I’m sure there is more useful stuff I could tell you, but really it boils down to this - If you like ‘Nam as a wargame or not. If you do, and you’re looking for a good aid to your games then this is really worth a look, as is Force on Force itself.
For Me Ambush Valley is a 10/10 - hands up to being biased, I love FOF. If nothing else I’d tell you it’s definitely worth checking out. So pick up a copy and have a look.
Right, I’m off to watch Full Metal Jacket and shout ‘get some' at the TV - peace out.
Ambush Valley Vietnam 1965-1975 apx £15 soft back : available from Osprey and all good hobby stores and bookshops. ISBN 987/1/84908/534/2 Force on Froce Companion 3
Sean Parnell was the Platoon Leader of Third Platoon, Bravo Co., 2nd Bn., 87th Infantr Regiment while it was deployed in Afghanistan near the Pakistani border in (YEAR(S). Parnell retired from active duty as a captain, bringing a military career that included Ranger qualification, six years with the 10th Mountain Division, two Bronze Stars (one for Valor) and a Purple Heart. With the assistance of John R. Bruning (author of HOUSE TO HOUSE with David Bellavia and SHADOW OF THE SWORD with Jeremiah Workman), Parnell brings the reader into his platoon, Outlaw Platoon, platoon level glimpse into US operations in an Afghanistan that would be far more familiar to Rudyard Kipling than the more hopeful version described in Doug Stanton's HORSE SOLDIERS or Eric Blehm's THE ONLY THING WORTH DYING FOR.