I’m back from the States – I didn’t have any time to get this stuff written until I got back so after much delay, here it is!
The last few games of Spectre have been focused on the all-out battles, vehicles and gun battles from the very first moment. However, modern war isn’t all the overt stuff and Spectre’s rules include a rather good section covering stealth.
In addition, I had been watching a lot of Strike Back and I really wanted to do some tense encounters. So this week, we fly back to Bazistan, coming upon a prisoner exchange deep in the uplands on the Aden border.
Contrary to the standing policy of the US and British governments, the Aden Civilian Administration does have a system of negotiating with various groups inside the disputed zone on the Aden/Bazistan when Aden civilians are snatched.
This system is partially run by the Aden External Security Agency (AESA) and as well as recovering the civilians, the contacts and arrangements made can be useful when supplying covert operations in the northern kingdom. However, this can also lead to issues when the insurgents realise the possible value of the negotiators.
Communication between the British and Aden Governments has led to a team of SAS Operators covering the latest prisoner exchange. This particular exchange is being run by a rising star in the AESA, someone the Bazistan Government is very interested in.
BLUFOR for this operation was split into two teams:
The AESA team comprised of three figures. Captain Amari, an Elite intelligence agent, was accompanied by a Professional contractor (Gregor) with the usual carbine setup to make them perfect for CQB actions. The final member of the team is a Trained local fixer, driving a white minivan and wielding a folding stock AK.
Assisting them was a six-man team of Elite SAS operators that have trekked in and set up ambush positions. Two of them were set up as a sniper pair in ghillie suits, with medium rifle and DMR. The rest were equipped as Long Range Patrol troops, an LMG and UGL supporting the carbines. In addition, the team carried demolition charges capable of busting through some of the weakened fort walls surrounding the meeting site.
Arrayed against them was the OPFOR. These were mostly Trained fighters, local militiamen from the city who had moved into the borders for the lucrative cross border opportunities. As well as a mix of weapons from ARs to RPGs and MMGs, there were also several aces. The first was a pair of technicals, each armed with an HMG. The second was a team of professional fighters spread out among the different teams. This allowed them to take advantage of the mentorship rule, boosting the stats of the squad they are assigned to. More importantly, there is a lot of them – even though they start unalerted, they might be able to bring enough firepower to bear to cause serious issues on the smaller BLUFOR forces.
Before we get started, I need to call out the rather fantastic fort that Michael of Supreme Littleness Designs brought along to use as a centrepiece in the game. It’s going to be coming out soon so keep an eye on the site for more details.
The white minivan belonging to the AESA forces begun pulling onto the board having just driven through the local village. The locals look on with mild disinterest.
On the edge of town, one of the insurgent technical was engaged in “hearts and minds” with a local around their car. The gunner was looking off into the distance, attempting to keep some situational awareness despite the ongoing row.
At the other end of the board, a group of militiamen and the other technical were dealing with a group of locals less than happy about the random gunfire and the rough city inhabitants disturbing the peaceful farming community. This distraction drew several patrols away from their routes, letting the SAS sneak far closer to the fort than normally possible.
Inside the fort, the local warlord, accompanied by two of his professional advisers, prepared the hostages for the exchange. Around the wall, small groups of sentries patrolled, keep their eyes open.
Deep in the scrubby woodland that had grown up around the cleared zone of the fort, four of the SAS team started to move from their infiltration point and head towards a position to set up on a weakened part of the wall, ready to make a quick move to assist.
Moments before the arrival of the AESA team, a small quad-copter drone recced the area, sending back a data link to both elements. Both BLUFOR elements are well aware of the enemy positions in the area.
The SAS forces mobe up, making use of the cover and moving tactically through the undergrowth (we didn’t have any litchen to represent the entire area being covered in the rough shrubs to break up line of sight). The Elite fighters with their higher agility are perfect for moving tactically
Two locals eyeball the approaching mini-van, one swinging his keys around his finger and moving back towards the driver’s seat.
The Minivan continued on, rolling past the shouts and cries of the argument. The DsHK on the back tracked the vehicle warily, the gunner watching the woman in the back staring back.
TIn a show of force, and growing bored of the uppity civilians, the DSHK gunner raised the HMG and fired off a burst scattering the crowd.
At the same time, the white car’s driver turned the engine on, still watching the vehicle roll past him.
On the other side of the fort, and with the guards distracted by minivan’s arrival, the SAS watched the top of the wall while the breachers started to assemble their charges, getting ready to stack up if the situations.
As the AESA team disembarks, Captain Amari leading the way to the door, a local civilian opens the door of the foot, beckoning them in and gesturing to the warlord standing across from them.
As the local drive Ahmed disembarked for a smoke break, he could see the group of insurgents (fresh from their scuffle with the locals) starting to advance on them.
As the team entered, this is how the fort was setup. You can see the two SAS teams sat in cover outside, the marksman team at the top of the centre (watching the enemy outside) while the assaulters hiding close to the damaged wall.
In the fort itself, there were multiple groups of insurgents taking up positions around the centre. Due to the lack of action, all of these teams were using overwatch, ready to interrupt BLUFOR’s activation if required.
With the insurgents on the wall top distracted, the SAS continued preparation. With the squad leader and machine gunner providing cover, the two other assaulters setup explosive charges ready to break in if the situation required.
And now things started to go a little bit wrong. The white car roared into reverse, boxing in the AESA’s escape vehicle. Ahmed pulled his AK from the cab and started to rant at the terrified looking driver but then was interrupted by the approach of several militia fighters with unpleasant smiles on their faces.
After a brief but positive discussion inside, Ahmed was called over with the money, passing it off to one of the professional looking fighters inside while Amari requested to see the hostages.
Ahmed headed back to his van, “assisted” by the small crowd of insurgents starting to enter the main compound. Gregor, the Swedish soldier now working for the AESA as a close protection officer, could now start to see the situation potentially about to go very wrong.
An RPG totting insurgent pushed the two poor hostages forward, bringing them out and moving them down the stairs. Eventually, they reached Gregor and, for a moment, I thought we might get through a Spectre Operations game without a single shot being fired.
At this point, the insurgent player closed the door on the fort and turned to me to offer an ultimatum. If Captain Amari (a highly placed AESA agent) was to stay, the militia would let the two hostages go. Obviously, the warlord was wanting to trade up, swapping two civilians for a more interesting proposition to serve up to the Internal Security Forces of Bazistan. Militia fighters started to advanced, all ready to apply some pressure.
And then it all kicked off. With a nod to his commander, Gregor opened up with the carbine, two rounds into one of the insurgents. Amari, seeing she was about to be trapped, sprinted to find somewhere she could hunker down and hold up. Ducking into a side room, she ran for cover.
And then, perfectly timed for the camera that would have been following her if this was an action movie, the SAS set off the charges and two operators advanced through the wall, using the smoke for cover.
Once inside, the pair quickly moved up to the columns and settled in. They swiftly moved to engage the stunned fighters nearby while frantically motioning for Amari to run through the gap in the wall and get back out to where the rest of the team was waiting.
The SAS advance set off the overwatch of several insurgents, including the marksman in the tower. However, thanks to the Elite operators use of cover and skill, all they ended up suffering from was some suppression, easily shrugged off in the next turn.
Out front, Ahmed saw the closed doors, the insurgents approaching, the debris from an explosion and decided to act before someone else did. Pressing the AK barrel to the door next to him, he put a burst into the approaching militia leader dropping him while sliding out of his seat and exiting the vehicle.
Inside, Gregor had his hands full, swiftly engaging the enemies while trying to get the hostages out of the firing line. He swiftly dropped an approaching enemy, the first shot hitting the body armour before the second dropping them entirely.
Unfortunately, this valiant attempt was not fated to end well and the sheer weight of assault rifle fire cut him down before he could find effective cover.
Outside, the two man sniper team started to earn their keep, engaging the enemy technical with a .338 round to take out the gunner before he could cause some havoc. The spotter was useful in assisting him, the re-roll being incredibly useful in this case.
The SAS continued dropping bodies to cover their escape, considering rushing the courtyard to grab either the money or the enemy commander. However, despite several kills (including the RPG gunner tumbling down the stairs) the weight of incoming fire started to push them back.
The pair of operators outside the walls were also engaged, one of the other insurgent patrols moving to attempt to cut off escape. While the assault rifle traded fire with the foot mobiles, the LMG gunner brought the weapon to bear on the technical and ran a burst from driver to the crew bay taking out both and causing the vehicle to come to a juddering halt.
As Amari and the operators inside finally fell back, the marksmen and other SAS covered them, clearing the enemies from their positions on top of the wall and making the enemy think twice about attempting to follow.
Seeing the insurgents outside of the front gate were distracted by reacting to incoming sniper fire, Ahmed decided to make a break for it, sprinting at full speed to get away from the insurgents. However, they ended up getting the initiative and caught the fixer before he could get away, knocking him to the dirt and taking him prisoner.
As the game ended due to running out of time, we took stock of the situation. OPFOR had managed to keep hold of the money, the hostages and captured a fixer of the AESA. On the other hand, BLUFOR had managed to keep control of Captain Amari, making sure a valuable intelligent agent was kept out of Bazistani hands. Silver linings and all that but still worth it.
I got to admit, that game was incredibly tense. It took 90 minutes before anyone even fired a shot, with BLUFOR creeping around while the OPFOR player just kept making cutting remarks about his plan. Honestly, I was just waiting for him to let it play out fully and do an actual exchange, no shenanigans. When the action kicked off, my number 1 priority was getting the captain out of there which may have been the wrong choice.
In the next scenario, we’re going to continue this story-line. The SAS team, along with Captain Amari, is stuck deep inside Bazistan. The border region is filled with groups looking for them, the insurgents are a few thousands of dollars richer and also know where the team will probably go to ground. Next time, we’ll get to see the SAS, outmanned and trying to escape…