Battle Report: The House On The Corner – Spectre Operations

So here we go, the direct follow on to the last game.

After the events during the attempted hand over of two Aden citizens, Captain Amari and her rescuing SAS team have fallen back to an Aden External Security Agency (AESA) safehouse on the outskirts of Bazi City. The team has decided to go to ground, waiting for a security gap to allow them to escape back across the southern border.

Meanwhile, the rebel leader has taken the intelligence gained from the captured local fixer and used it to locate the enemy safehouse. Rather than risking his own forces, the leader has instead sold the information to the Internal Security Forces of Bazistan (ISFB). 

After all, when you find a criminal den, you call the police.

The Forces

Limping away from their firefight in the badlands, the forces of the AESA and SAS were limited to a small number of operators. Six Elite operators, mostly using carbines but supported by an LMG would be the main force. Along with the Elite Captain Amari, three other Trained AESA staff members were on-site and armed with assault rifles which would provide some extra guns.

The BLUFOR objectives were to prevent any opposing forces from capturing evidence of illicit activity taking place on Bazi soil by the Aden Government. This would mean holding off the opposing force long enough to destroy the pair of servers holding operations data, demoing the supplies in the garage building and then extracting as much of the personel as possible, including the unarmed civilian AESA station chief.


Prompted by details of the safe house, the Bazi Ministry of the Interior assembled a large force to deal with the security threat. To provide the training core, the Bazi Army hired six Professional Argo Contractors, each armed with modern CQB small arms and grenades, body armour and NVGs. These troops could be parcelled out, either mentoring the lower skill Bazi units or acting as a close-quarters assault force.

And speaking of the Bazi Army, they are providing two units. The elite(ish) Bazi Special Forces would be taking part in the assault. Although only Trained, the 6 man Bazi SF team were equipped with CQB weapon systems. They are also arriving in a Tigr armour vehicle, mounting an MMG (the automatic grenade launcher being banned due to the ROE). A much larger presence was the regular Trained Bazi Army, bringing an 8 man squad in body armour and carrying an MMG and an RPG (just in case). They also arrive on the board in a BTR-80A – despite having its main claws trimmed by the ROE, it can still help the assault through using the armour and its Medium Machine Gun. Finally, a Technical from the Bazi Army would provide MMG support.

OPFOR objectives are simple – capture as much evidence of insidious actions against the Bazi Royal Family and Government taking place on Bazi soil. Ideally, the Interior Ministry would love to have some captives to parade on TV and so capturing the opposing force is a priority.

The Setup

First of all, let’s take an overview of the setup. Taking place in the suburbs of Bazi City, strict ROE is in place regarding the use of explosive weaponry such as the RPGs or autocannons. The mission also takes place at night. (Although this may have been forgotten once the action kicked off)

(As an aside, I really want to get some more of my buildings painted up and ready for play. As much as I like the layout, a few more buildings would have really set the suburban scenes)

The AESA compound in the photo above is located south of the road and focused on the main safehouse, with two other smaller buildings acting as annex’s, including a garage. Several concrete walls and barriers provide cover. On the other side of the road, a multi-level construction as well as several smaller buildings filled with non-combatants.

The Special Forces in the Tigr slowly rumbled down the side road. Pausing only to let three of the team disembark, the vehicle prepared to push on into the main compound. Upfront, an Argo contractor kept an eye on the gentleman in the orange outdoors coat, listed as a possible AESA agent.

On the other side, a technical from the Bazi Army rolls up, MMG swinging to focus on the target building.

Inside the safehouse, the BLUFOR operators were unalert but at risk of a future assault. For this reason, they were checking entrances. Upstairs, the SAS were taking positions at the windows and doors, trying to cover all the angles.

On the ground floor, the AESA statin chief, a SAS operator and Captain Amari were in discussion. Two AESA agents were also on this floor, one in the makeshift server room and the other checking keeping watch.

Events

As the night rolls on, the Bazi Army makes it’s assault.

Three of the Bazi SF operators setup on and then breach into the garage building, the sound of boots on wood echoing through the night. Inside, they find a stockpile of supplies destined for anti-government rebels – in other words, jackpot.

With the sound of vehicles moving the raised voices, the inhabitants inside the building start to setup. Table are flipped, guns checked and made ready to go.

Making a tight turn, the Tigr bursts into the compound, causing the AESA agent to make a break for the annexe. The civilian he was talking to, after adopting a surrendering gesture then attempted to run. Twigged by this movement, the Tigr’s gunner opened up with a burst of fire, dropping a suspect to the dirt. The first casualty had taken place.

The Tigr also ended up being a bit of bullet magnet, with SAS troopers both inside the main building and the annexe engaging it and piling on suppression.

On the other side, a fireteam of the Bazi Army troops were moving alongside the BTR and getting ready to stack up on the back door. However, with a smash, a frag grenade thrown by one of the SAS came flying out, landing in the middle of the attackers and shredding most of the force.

Hearing the gun battle outside rising, Captain Amari snatched thermite grenades off the AESA agents and got to work, placing them on the server racks to destroy the lists of operations inside Bazistan.

At this point, the three man infiltration set of contractors were getting ready to rush the building, sprinting across the road. The squad leader suddenly looked to his left when, with a roar of an engine, the BTR came flying down the road, turning the corner and then…

BOOM

It collided with the building, it’s prow smashing through the wall, the driver’s head coming flying forward and breaking his neck. The rest of the crew and passengers were stunned, leaving the three operators outside to keep pushing.

Inside the room, as the dust settled, the room was a mess. After talking it through, we decided that everyone in the room would be stunned, the cloud of dust and rubble smashing things aside.

On the other side, the Bazi SF split up, starting to assault the two buildings. Unfortunately, they ended up being caught in the cross of the SAS LMG and a riflemen, eliminating the trio on the ground floor.

The PKM gunner, his ears ringing, hit the deck and got ready to open up while his Argo buddy got ready to move up. However, a quick burst of assault rifle fire and the MMG went silent. The contractor hower brought his SMG up and trained it on the window when…

BOOM

A thunderous blast of from the upstairs, accompanied by a pile of shrapnel, and suddenly the fire from the upstairs windows slowed. The SAS team leader was preparing to drop a grenade on the assault for below when he fluffed his throw. Landing on the window sill in front of him, the blast took him out, the concussion echoing around the roof the room and stunning his teammates.

The operator, who had taken out almost a whole team by himself, was caught standing in the window stunned by a burst from the Argo contractor. He dropped dead, leaving only two SAS operators standing upstairs.

In the Annexe, the SAS operator and AESA agent looked at each other and decided to make a move, busting out the window and getting ready to make a run for it.

After a short scuffle, one of the Argo Contractors managed to tackle and drag the AESA Station chief back outside of the ruined front room, letting the main Bazi Army push inside. Another contractor around this time also attempted to knock unconscious one of the SAS operatives. After a short scuffle hower, the SAS operative was killed in the fighting.

Outside, the last of the Bazi SF were taken down, the SAW in the SAS gunner’s hands hammering away and shredding what was left of the door.

This is a bad photo of the event, sorry

As a final push, the last rifle operator upstairs attempted to rush down and rescue the AESA station chief. However, the Contractor holding the captive simply swung around and clocked him around the face with his rifle, knocking the operator unconscious and adding him to the captive pile.

Inside, the Bazi Army and Argo contractors burst into the server room, finding Captain Amari slowly raising her hands and kneeling down.

On the other side, the servers gently smoulded, useless to anyone. Amari was still smirking when the rifle butt came down on her face from an irate Bazi Army trooper.

The last AESA agent, crying out for updates from the explosion behind him while still keeping an eye on the Bazi SF before they were cut down, was very surprised when an Argo Corporation merc grabbed him by the neck and slammed him into the door. And with that, resistance at the compound was ended.

AFTERMATH

Although missing out on the data, the Bazi force did manage to take four inhabitants of the compound hostage. Three AESA agents, including the famed Captain, and a single British citizen should be a handy group to show on Al-Jeezra as proof Aden is not to be trusted. The stockpile of material in the garage would help with this, providing shocking evidence.

Of course, three BLUFOR operators did manage to get away. Perhaps they may return in future missions?


Overall, it was one hell of a game. I did not expect the BTR to be used as a battering ram, nor for just the sheer number of grenade fails. I did lose my cool a little (I blame the heatwave we’re in) when it came to keeping the game flowing and also forgot a rule or two (such as sidearms in CQB). On the other hand, the Spectre rules still play fast and feel brutal.

But this is setting up the next mission in the campaign. With Captain Amari in chains, I think it’s time for someone to build a prison (I’m thinking a few of the Knights of Dice apartment buildings) and prepare a rescue. The question is… who will be doing the rescuing?

Battle Report: The Trading Floor – Spectre Operations

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.

The Forces

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.

The Setup

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.

Events

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.

Aftermath

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…

Battle Report – Operation Monte Carlo – Spectre Operations

Well it’s finally time. Spectre Operations V2 has finally arrived on my desk and it pushed me to go get a game of it together down at the wargames club. And having just watched Triple Frontier, the idea of contractors doing bad things for gold was sat on my mind. And then I found the gold marker from my demo game and an idea was formed.


Background

Due to the announcement of ISAF-AP’s intention to reduce the number of troops currently involved in direct ground operations in Bazistan, the recently formed democratic government of The Bazi Republic has decided to contract the Argo Corporation to run and assist it’s internal counter-insurgency programs.

Using a core of trained contractors, (veterans of operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan), accompanied with locally hired fighters (many former insurgents or ex-regime military), Project Final Hand has been a strategic success, clearing several areas of rebel activity entirely as well as making strides in others. Their success has been a key feature in the Argo Corporation’s PR documents for the next year.

However, Argo has a history for mismanagement of projects like these and so payment for those involved has been somewhat delayed. This has led to some unsavoury activities – contractors moonlighting for private militias or selling high-end equipment on the open market. Additionally, the use of former insurgents has led to some concerns of information leaks and backroom deals between unit commanders and the remaining insurgent cells.

And then rumours started to spread. Rumours about a C130 that crashed into the Bazi desert over a year ago. About how it was carrying a shipment of the Bazi Family’s gold reserve. Something that was never recovered but some say was found by a rebel band and carried away. Perfect for the taking, if only someone knew where it was…

Situation Brief

The Players

BLUFOR – The Argo Corporation

BLUFOR was comprised of two groups of Argo Corporation Contractors and locally hired help.

Group 1 was the Quick Reaction Force. 6 Professionals, including a squad leader, all armed with carbines (and the usual extra tricks), pistols, and frag and stun grenades. The team also carries first aid kits and wear body armour. They are mounted in an LTV, an armoured patrol vehicle mounting an HMG in a remote weapon station with an MMG on the flexible rear mount.

Group 2 was a squad of local trained troops in body armour and totting a PKM and an RPG alongside the assault rifles. They were also led by a single Professional trooper to act as their mentor (bringing their skills up to a higher level) while also giving him frags and smokes alongside his carbine to act as a force multiplier.

OPFOR – Local Bazistan Militia

The OPFOR was a bit more random. To represent this being an insurgent stronghold with hordes of bad guys being woken and pulled into the fight, I just kept adding more and more fighters each turn. These were randomly selected but mostly armed with assault rifles, representing the rank and file arriving.

Additionally, the rebel commander could call for reinforcement using a command test. If successful, the player could then request specific weapon selections like RPGs or machine gunners.

They also had two IEDs which could be placed to along the route and could be set off via two triggermen (portrayed on the board as civilians).


The Battlefield

The gallery above shows the layout of the board. As you can see, it’s a real street fight, a mixture of large and small buildings around the main road. The new walls I painted up helped to improve the feel slightly as well as adding some cover. And I FINALLY got to put that pylon on a gaming board.


Recap

As the game begins, BLUFOR started to roll into town.

The QRF remained in the vehicle, while the local force broke down into two groups.

With the rumbling of the LTV echoing through the streets, an insurgent group breaks cover and starts to setup an RPG-29.

A local peers out of the doorway as the armoured vehicle rumbles past.

Despite rumbling forward, the LTV’s remote weapon system managed to come to bear on the insurgent that had popped out from behind the concrete barricades. A quick burst and the threat was downed.

The sound of gun fire draws in another group of insurgents.

BLUFOR continues to advance, the locals sticking close behind the vehicle as it advances.

Another shot as the LTV crew suddenly spots the barricade blocking the way toward the objective.

A successful command test brings out a fighter with an anti-material rifle. He sets up watching the road, lining up his scope on the driver’s windscreen. His first shot simply cracks the glass, causing the gunner to change his target.

More fighters start to spill out out into the streets, ready to ambush the approaching BLUFOR. Above, another civilian pulls out their phone, his fingers hovering over a special contact…

A civilian narrowly avoids a grizzly end when they step into the street in front of the towering armoured patrol vehicle.

One of the insurgent groups decide to engage more directly and take up firing positions on the ground floor of the corner building. These guys actually managed to put some fire down and take out two local force soldiers before the LTV blocked them from view.

The LTV suddenly now enters a target rich environment – the marksman down the road or the squad of hostiles in cover.

He picks the marksman, the hail of .50cal round tearing the rooftop apart and suppressing the threat easily.

The next turn, as the insurgents start to take up ambush positions, another burst of .50cal fire takes out the anti-material threat, the impacts kicking up a plume of dust.

With the way forward blocked, the LTV turns and begins to head down the side road. Inside, the QRF start to get a little concerned about the occupants of the buildings around them.

All the while, the local forces had been moving to take up positions to support the LTV’s advance. After taking fire from a two storey building ahead of them, one fireteam from the local forces hunker behind the road barriers and return fire.

However, the insurgents began to move forward in force, taking up ambush positions.

As the LTV rounds the corner, the action hots up. The two operators in the back (only one pictured), looking up at the rooftop above them suddenly spotted movement. With reactions created by long hours of training, the carbines come up and hammer the low wall the enemy were crouching behind, ready to ambush. This fire successfully suppressed the insurgents above, making them far less effective.

The RWS system then dropped elevation and hammered through the wall, each shot taking out more of the insurgents and pinning down the last squad member.

The local forces were also in contact. After taking out the group on the rooftop that had initially slowed them, they soon received a reversal of fate when an RPG went off in their midst, vaporising their squad leader and sending two others into bleeding out states.

Things soon turned from bad to worse as the insurgents above managed to pop their heads up and mag dump into the rear portion of the LTV. When the dust cleared, one of the QRF had fallen backwards off the cargo bay, immediately KIA by the hail of shots.

With time running out at the club (not helped by me messing around before the game started after leaving a few things at home), the BLUFOR player decided to push on through the streets. And then this happened – a car bomb IED went off, stunning the crew and bringing the vehicle a halt. Just in time for an RPG to be spent spinning into the back of the crew compartment and injuring everyone inside.

As the LTV sat smoking on the street corner (and the hours having ticked by), we called it there. The contractors had tried their hardest to get into the town but with multiple casualties and an immobilised vehicle, they would have to concede.


Analysis

Overall the game was pretty fun for me to setup and run (and it looked impressive) but something was quite right. BLUFOR struggled to get off the starting line and then bogged down at the second corner.

Now, this was our first game in a while playing Spectre Operations and the rules played beautifully. Anyone in the open got taken out very quickly, shooting was quick to work out and it was simple to perform some cool manevoures. It was also a nice change of pace to plan – I love Skirmish Sangin’s character depth but just being able to use a standard chart helped.

After having a few days to think about it, I think the issues/tweaks fall into two areas:

Scenario Tweaks

Photo from SESWC

So I designed the scenario after only a very quick initial read and vague remembering of my time testing version 2. For this reason, there were a few things I was worried about (such as vehicles being basically invulnerable and professionals running rings around everyone else) and may have ended up correcting a little too far.

First of all, the masses of reinforcements the insurgent player was given. This did a really good job of making the BLUFOR player realise how much trouble he was in as AK totting gunmen just sort of appeared on the board every turn. On the other hand, it did also mean that there was an awful lot of OPFOR on the table and they were able to set up ambush points far too easily. I think rather than just offering free reinforcements every turn, I should have required the command roll AND let the player pick between 5 goons or support weapons.

I also think I didn’t provide enough forces for BLUFOR. An additional unit, probably some more trained forces to represent local friendly militia, would have given the player another option, a set of troops to move down one of the flanks and help keep their offensive moving while also giving another set of rifles to engage targets with.

Finally, the route. I set up the barricades to really force the LTV down a specific route (I blame designing for video games) and so placed the barricades up at the first junction. However, when combining this with the building arrangements, the LTV had no options at all. What I should have done is to move the barricade down a single junction, forcing the LTV to choose between the long sightlines and exposure of the main road

Tactical Tweaks


Photo from SESWC

However, at the same time, I think there were a few tactical decisions that I should have been advising with. Ultramodern gaming is quite a niche period and requires a slight adjustment in tactics thanks to the sheer power of modern firepower. As the guy running the game, it should fall to me to help guide newer players in the tactics to use.

First of all, staying in the vehicle. The QRF really wasted an opportunity by staying in the LTV as it bimbled along slowly at walking pace so it could continue engaging with the .50cal. Instead, four of the six operators should have disembarked to escort it, letting them use their carbines to add an additional 8 shots every turn. This would have helped to put the fir down more, letting them take down the opposition to more manageable number.

In addition, the BLUFOR guys had some toys they didn’t use. The QRF guys had stun grenades and frags, perfect for busting in and clearing buildings filled with bad guys (such as the corner building). In addition, the professional mentor had smokes which could have been useful when manevouring into the buildings.

After both of these facts, I think BLUFOR should have pushed harder. Using combat sprint to bust into the corner building and secure a multi-storey fire position for the local force’s RPG and MMG to start engaging the enemy forces. Additionally, setting up in there would have meant the LTV could have sped up and moved faster.

Finally, civilians. I should have made it more obvious about letting the BLUFOR player arrest civilians to prevent them from being used as triggermen. This would have encouraged them to perform actions that might have neutralised IEDs before they turned the LTV to broken chunks of metal.

Overall though, the idea of the mission is good, my plan is to illustrate the tactics more and make people aware of the special points that Spectre brings over other modern games.

Battle Report – Rescue Mission – Skirmish Sangin

Okay, this game was an exercise in improvisation. What was originally planned as an all-out assault on a rebel fortress (cancelled due to lack of painting time) became a massive multi-person game (until we lost some players due to double booking) until finally it was down to a tight, three person game. And what a game it was.




SITUATION:
BAZISTAN

US MARSOC Team Sabre has been separated and immobilised behind enemy lines. Radio communications report their Humvee was damaged in an ambush and the team has sustained casualties.

ISAF-AP forces are directed to recover injured personnel and destroy assets. Local National Forces are available to assist.

Enemy militia forces are on site and moving to the target location. Motives unknown. ISTAR has spotted unknown forces among the Militia units.

Objectives:
ISAF-AP must fulfil the following objectives:
MARSOC Team must be escorted off the board
– MARSOC team cannot move until contacted by friendly troops
MARSOC Humvee must be destroyed by the use of incendiary devices
– This must be placed
by hand

The MARSOC team consists of four guys. Well three guys for me to activate. A team leader, a LMG gunner and a final trooper carrying his injured buddy around. This last trooper was unable to run while assisting his buddy and only armed with a pistol (the rest of his kit left behind in the humvee.)

Coming to rescue them was a combined force of US Special Forces and local Bazistan Forces. The four operators had light body armour and were armed with a mix of weapons including assault rifles, combat shotguns and an LMG. The local force were in heavy body armour, 5 soldiers armed with assault rifles and another totting a PKM.

Against them was a sizeable insurgent force. Although lacking body armour they did have an RPG and PKM to help put the fire down, as well as a total of 8 soldiers. Interestingly alongside them was a group of bandana-wearing operators. These guys only had assault rifles and light body armour but were rolling hard with grenades.


Seen from above, you can see the battle zone. ISAF-AP are entering from the the top left, while the insurgents would move on through the fields. In the centre of the map was the construction site where the MARSOC team have dug in, their damaged Humvee outside.

As both teams start to move, two of the operators from the rescue party work their way through the quiet streets.

The lead scout of the Bazi Army squad rushes up to an abandoned vehicle to use for cover.

Meanwhile on the other side of the board, the contractors wait as militia fighters begin to advance.

Thanks to their high body rating, two of the operators bombed froward to get into a position overlooking the damaged humvee.

They aren’t the only one getting into position. Two of the contractors move into a position to rush, one of them popping a smoke grenade to cover their advance.

Concerned by this, the MARSOC LMG gunner started scanning the horizon. After spotting an engaging a militia fighter, he relocated to behind the engine block of the nearby pickup, hoping those fuel drums on the back were empty.

Dodging the machine gun fire, one of the contractors pops smoke to block line of sight and then moves up into the cloud.

Meanwhile, the Bazistan Army were moving up as a squad. The PKM gunner started heading for the roof.

A third smoke grenade filled in the gap, blocking the humvee from any of the US-SF guys. Just in time for one of the contractors to bust up and get close to the intel inside the humvee.

Despite the firing around him, the contractor manages to wrench the door of the Humvee open and recover the data disc. Looks like payday for this merc!

Seeing the enemy getting closer, one operator decides to drop a second smoke in order to build up. However, rolling a 100, the smoke grenade simply rolls out of his hand and goes off directly in front of him.

The nearby insurgents decide to back this hero up, not having seen the fumble that just occured. They also rushed passed one of their comrades who had been hit (the cards hiding his current condition until someone checks on them).

The Bazi Army hold back and hammer rounds down range, except for one brave soldier who rushes forward to make contact with the stranded MARSOC team.

Good news for the ISAF-AP team! The injured Marine and his buddy managed to meet up with one of the US-SF guys. The rest of the MARSOC team were still engaging the agressors, hammering 5.56mm whenever the militia would popup.

But tragedy strikes! A grenade, thrown to take out machine gunner on the roof scattered into the open and bringing the US-SF team leader into it’s blast radius. The armour absorbed some of it but he was still knocked unconscious, sliding down the wall behind him.

After running through a hail of gunfire, the contractor with the data managed to get back to his buddies. This actually started shifting the militia’s objectives. They started falling back, popping off some suppression to make sure the data was secure.

The US Marines still in the fight managed to put fire down, pop smoke and fall back through the building. They were probably happy to see the Bazi Army soldier frantically giving them the Jambo as they ran past.

However every moment of joy for ISAF-AP was tempered by something sour. And oh boy, was this sour.

In one of the last shots of the game, the RPG gunner who had moved to flank managed to get onto the rooftop. With a super low chance to hit, he fired and rolled a critical. With a single super powerful shot, two of the operators were taken out, one KIA and the other critically injured.

The sole remaining US-SF operator, having heard his team go down, rushed after the fleeing merc carrying the data, desperately trying to catch up with him. With the final dice roll, he shot and missed. The Merc kept running, successfully escaping with his prize.

Who knows what shenanigans someone could get up to with that classified material…


At the game’s end, the MARSOC team had been successfully rescued, with the loss of three veteran operators rendered combat ineffective. However, the classified material was now in the wind, possibly setting up a future game.

Overall, it wasn’t the game I originally planned but everyone involved had a good time. There was some comments about getting some more cover to break up the sight lines, so I think it’s time to base up all my scatter. Come back next time for more events in Bazistan.

“The Battle for Farm 412” or “Coc’ing around in the Desert”

As you might guess from someone who plays a lot of Skirmish Sangin, I don’t play wargames as a competitive exercise. Winning is nice, but at the end of the day, I’d much rather tell a good story, immerse the players in the setting and scenario. I’d rather make the players concentrate on making the decisions the real commanders would have to make.

Chain of Command from Too Fat Lardies is a game all about giving you the feel of being a platoon commander in the 1940’s. It’s about giving you the tricky choices while removing some of the more formulaic elements, beating into you the problems and issues your historical counterparts would have to deal with. I love the Too Fat Lardies motto – “Playing the Period and not the rules”. These are not a ruleset for competitive play. These are ruleset designed to evoke the feel without it turning into a horrible grind.

After having played it a few times at the club when I first started going, I’ve been desperate to play it again. Luckily, my usual York-based wargaming buddy Peebs Gaming Nonsense is a recovering Bolt Action fan with a platoon of both 8th Army and DAK. So what better way to start off my Christmas break than getting a game of it in.


Somewhere on the road to Tobruk. 1941

The desert sun glared down on Sergeant Kerridge as he stood on the roof of the farm, his beady eyes glaring out over the landscape around him. This part of Libya was greener than he expected, good enough to grow crops, the surrounding land covered in palm trees and shurbs. If it wasn’t for Jerry, and the questionable antics of the Lieutenant, it would be a perfect place to be posted.

Suddenly, with a cry from the sentries, his morning was interrupted by the arrival of a pair of Cheverlot trucks, each laden down with equipment and kicking up a plume of dust. One rolled straight past but the other rolled to a halt at the entrance to the compound, three troopers jumping off the back with ammo cans in hand while another two started to quickly work at dismounting the Vickers MG from the pintle position. To a man, the entire team seemed scruffy and out of regs, wearing the local headgear. They pushed past him, heading towards a position on the roof of the main building.

Kerridge was having none of this. He strode across the square, heading towards the commander’s seat, almost shaking with annoyance.

“What the hell is the meaning of this? Which unit are you part of? Don’t any of you know protocol about coming through lines.”

The man standing in the passenger seat turned to face him, the scraggly beard still covered in dust from the road. The sight of his rank slides caused Kerridge to click to attention, his boot heels slamming together. The Captain just smiled, throwing a casual salute before leaning down to him.

“Ah, there is a man in charge. Look here old chum, we were just returning from a patrol when we got into a bit of a scrap with some bosche just a mile or two back down the road. Looks like part of a probe and they heading straight this way. Now, we’re going to leave Williams and the old Queen here with you chaps to help give them what’s for while the Boy and I head back to somewhere with a radio to get the news out”

The Captain returned to full height, eyes scanning the horizon.

“Looks like you’re in for an interesting morning”


We decided to go for the second scenario Probe, with a DAK platoon of moving up to look for a way through British lines close to central farm.

Support wise, seeing as I was on the defence and just about had enough points, I went for a Vickers MMG team – hopefully it would help me to strike back at the masses of MG34s I was about to go up against. On the Germans side, my opponent went for an adjutant (to make up for the single Senior Leader the DAK platoons get) and a satchel charge (which went unused for the entire game).

After the dance of the patrol phase (a feature I particularity love), we had the above setup for the jumping off points. My positions let me setup up in several good pieces of cover, anchoring my defences around the main defensive position. The Germans had started their probe from my right flank, spreading their kicking off locations to a reasonable spread of locations.

Once the game kicked off, Jerry deployed two squads. One moved into the palm grove at the board edge, the other began to advance to the closest edge of the compound. In response, I deployed one section up to the low wall (both to protect the JOP and to prevent a flanking move) while the other appeared from the table edge and began advancing on

Sadly the second British Section made the fatal mistake of being caught in the open by two MG-34s which managed to rip them to shreds, dropping the NCO before pilling on the shock. This squad was eventually reduced down to one solider in each team, pinned down in the wadi.

Speaking of machine guns, the Vickers deployed in the position on the roof and started brassing up the Germans in the trees. The light cover of the undergrowth helped to reduce the casualties (although the NCO did take a hit) but they were covered in shock and unable to advance. They could, however, keep throwing potshots a the MMG that was pinning them down.

The next major deployment of troops was the Germans bringing their senior leader and the third squad to assist the advancing teams. The officer managed to get things moving en-mass. To fight back, I deployed my final section into position on top of the main compound building, able to put rifle and Bren fire down on that flank.

At this stage I made a critical error. Rather than keep my squad on the left in cover or trying to flank left, I decided to get more troops in the centre to engage more of the German offsensive. To do this I had to cross the open road which despite being done at the double, ended up with most of a squad stuck in the open. Two LMGs later and the NCO was done for, as well as several riflemen.

A phase later and I managed to get the 2inch mortar up to pop smoke and cover the crossing. Alas too late.


We ran out of time and had to call it there but where does that leave us? Well, I think it’s safe to say the Brits are in trouble. They managed to stop the probe and prevent it from breaking through the line, but they were now in serious trouble after my error. The Germans were taking shots but could possible had advanced down the right flank (using the other squads to put fire on the Tommies).

All I can say is that the cavalry better get there soon or else there might not be much to rescue.


I will admit, I can get why people don’t like Chain of Command and prefer other WW2 set games. If the dice hit you the wrong way, if Field Marshall Friction decides to make your troopers club footed fools, then yeah, it can throw your plans entirely out of wack. But nothing has quite matched the feel you get when reading histories of WW2 or even the modern day – where things can go incredibly wrong. In other words, I will be coming back to Chain of Command soon. Maybe even sooner than I expected when I started writing this post.

That said, I am very interested to try out the new WW2 rules from Radio DishDash.

Battle Report – “Training Day” – Skirmish Sangin

Man, it’s been a while since I got some figures on the board. The last battle report was way back in March (where the M-ATV got blown up) and work has been mad. So, why not get the giant table out and put those Humvees to good use.

With the ongoing situation in the breakaway Tribal regions, the Aden Defence Force (or ADF) has started preparing a new strategy to deal with cross-border insurgents close to Bazistan. After constructing several FOBs, ADF units now patrol the countryside. To assist these units, several ISAF-AP nations have assigned small units to provide training and force multipliers.

This activity has begun to take an effect on the insurgency, prompting one group in the region to plan an ambush. Hiring in an expert bomb maker and several local fighters, the group’s aim is to eliminate an ADF patrol and dishearten the rest of the government’s forces in the region.

On the road between FOB Alpha and FOB Delta, a new ADF section and it’s support will have a trial by fire.

Briefing Document


BLUFOR was split into two parts. The bulk of the force was an ADF section, mounted in two Humvees. The Aden Defence Force is arranged (and equipped) along British lines, with two four-man fire teams containing assault rifles, a UGL and an LMG. This section replaced the fourth man in the fire team 2 with a GPMG for some extra range. The lead Humvee was armed with an M2 HMG, the classic look. Vehicle 2 mounted the AGL and MMG in the turret. It also has a FLIR unit to assist with spotting enemies (a +20% bonus to spotting for anyone in the back seats)

The final vehicle in the column belonged to the US Special Forces element supporting this ADF platoon. Five men (4 Green Berets and a USAF JTAC) were mounted up inside (the rear MMG currently unused). In terms of equipment, the SF element has access to an LMG, DMR, UGL and the M2 HMG on the vehicle top.

Off map, the column has access to several support options. On the ground, FOB Delta has 81mm mortars covering the route. In the air, the JTAC had access to a pair of F16s flying a combat air patrol (CAP) to perform a Show of Force and the ever-present DUSTOFF was available for casualty evacuation.

Overall, a pretty powerful force. But, it’s worth noting that BLUFOR is operating under quite strict ROE due to the operating region, unable to engage unless a threat was spotted via PID.


Opposing them was a small group of insurgents. Above you can see most of the core element. Led by the triggerman, the element also included an SPG-9 recoilless rifle to assist in taking out enemy vehicles and some rear security in the form of a veteran fighter with an MMG. This group also included The Fox, a renowned insurgent marksman known throughout Bazistan and a constant threat to ISAF-AP forces.

To assist in the ambush, the main force brought two IEDs. A medium IED was placed inside a white civilian vehicle and parked on the main road. A secondary device, much smaller than the main, was buried on the road. Both were controlled via remote detonators, operated by the core element.

To assist the main force, two small elements of local fighters had been hired. These 8 fighters ranged from novice to veterans and had an RPG-MMG combo to add some firepower.

Both groups also had access to a series of ratlines, letting them move quickly around the map.


First up, the BLUFOR force rolls onto the board, ADF elements leading the way.

As they approached the edge of the village, the SF Humvee hangs back to provide fire support.

That white car seems a little suspicious. 

Two enemy fighters popped their heads up on the edge of the village being spotted effortlessly by the FLIR system. The ADF moved to speed up to get through any possible ambushes.

With a sudden bang, the white car suddenly erupted into flames. This IED managed to catch both the ADF vehicles in the kill zone causing massive damage. The lead vehicle was made immobile by the blast, leaving the crew shaken but alive. The second vehicle was less lucky, being destroyed by the blast with a loss of all crew.

At this stage, the BLUFOR players declared a mission change. They would be unable to reach FOB Delta without abandoning the troops in the damaged vehicle. Instead, they decided to perform a casualty evacuation and return to base.

Cautious of secondary devices, the SF vehicle rolls into a position to help with the evacuation.

Activating at the same time, the US SF team leader and the JTAC quickly jumped on the radio. While one called in the MEDVAC, the other requested a Show of Force to clear some breathing room from the insurgents.

Having spotted the lead vehicle still engaging with the heavy machine gun, the recoiless team opened up. Although it hit, it failed to destroy the vehicle.

The Aden Defence Force trooper armed with the UGL spotted the recoiless rifle and popped smoke to obscure it.

Two of the US SF soldiers dismounted to provide additional secruity

Another view of the key areas of the battlefield – that tree in the centre of the map would have probably ended up being shredded based on how much fire was zipping past it.

The SF Humvee managed to successfully engage this pair of insurgents with the .50cal despite them being in adobe cover. The HMG continues to be an incredibly effective weapon in Sangin.

As the troops moved to evac the casualties from the destroyed vehicle, the SF Humvee backed up to make it easier to load them into the cargo bed. Additionally, the gunner on the top used this opportunity to pop smoke to cover the operation.

As with all games, there comes a point when you’re too busy to take photos. But here are some highlights:

  • The arrival of the Show of Force managed to scare away several insurgent fighters, including the SPG-9 team. It also contributed to multiple fighters close to ratline holes simply dropping into them and running away.
  • The MMG gunner in the lead vehicle managed to survive the recoiless rifle round going through the crew compartment. He then dismounted and put the fire down on multiple enemy fighters before being shot in the chest. However, his armour stopped most of the wound and so was able to fight on before helping to drag one of the casualties away.
  • The rest of the insurgent force took advantage
  • The Fox actually survived a game and inflicted some casualties without ending up in a drainage ditch.

We ran out of time before the BLUFOR guys managed to get off the board. However, they were well on the way with every casualty on board the SF vehicle and the rest falling back in an orderly fashion. On the other hand, they had managed to take 5 KIA and several wounded

Seen here is the figure we’ll be mentioning in dispatches. Corporal Jacobs, team lead in vehicle one, managed to survive his vehicle being hit by an IED. After recovering, he took up position in the turret and proceeded to engage multiple enemy targets with suppressive fire to cover friendly troops falling back. After coming under additional enemy fire, he dismounted the vehicle and rushed to save the body of one of his men. While able to lift the body into cover, he was caught in the open by multiple enemy troops but managed to avoid being hit before falling back with the rest of his team.


So overall a very exciting game. As expected, the IED caused massive damage, shifting the focus of the game from advancing across the board to fighting off a hoard of OPFOR. I was quite happy how the BLUFOR team just rolled with the punches and started working together to make sure no one was left behind. On the other hand, they maybe shouldn’t have trusted the single civilian car on the board.

The OPFOR team also did well, managing to achieve their objective with two KIA and several MIA fighters. The placement of the second IED was designed to catch any vehicles that managed to survive the first blast meaning it sat unused for the entire game. Instead, the OPFOR commander decided that next time he would have put it alongside the main device. However, they managed to give the ADF the bloody nose they wanted to.


Stayed tuned for future games! I can see the US Special Forces wanting to hunt down the bombmaker. I’m also itching to roll out some more covert operators.


UPDATE

If you want some alternative viewpoints of the battle you can find them at the Aden commander’s blog and on the SESWC page.

Additionally, the thread on the Lead Adventure forum has had some interesting posts. We got the Insurgent commander’s viewpoint, some thoughts on how different the game would have been if it was played using Spectre Operations and some hindsight thoughts on dealing with the white car.

Holding the Ford – The Second Boer War

I’ll freely admit, my wargaming tastes can be pretty focused on playing the modern period. I think it’s mainly due to finding large scale battles just dull. Don’t get me wrong, they are plenty impressive (I still get a kick out of seeing them all lined up) but it’s not particularly interesting to play. I’ll probably be thrown out of the wargaming world for saying this but it just normally ends up with blocks of forces being slammed into each other. As things become more modern, the importance of each small unit increase, up to the modern day where a fireteam of four men is the tactical unit of choice.

On the other hand, I do also enjoy the more social side of wargaming. After the last few weeks which have been lacking in dice rolling and tape measuring, I just had to jump in on a game. So when I noticed Angus (of Edinburgh Wargames fame) grabbing the terrain I usually pick, I just had to get involved.


The setting is Second Boer War, some time in the early 20th century. As the British Army advances into Boer territory, the commandos attempt to slow them by securing vital locations. This is one such position, the only ford for miles that can support the British logistics train.

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A familiar looking board – a dusty plain with a road and river running through it. This time, however, it’s South Africa rather than the plains of Bazistan.

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The Boers set up their defences by the river, with the Johannesburg commando taking position in the slit trenches in front of the river. On the other side, the volunteer commando digs in behind the wagons. Both commandos were mounted infantry, meaning their free actions (which don’t require a leadership check) allowed for movement rather than shooting.

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The plan was that this Pom-Pom was going to form the key part of the defence, able to out range the enemy rifles and maxim gun. Unfortunately, requiring 7+ to activate (combined with poor rolling) meant it spent most of the game standing useless.

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Behind the wagons, the commandos start to see the British filling the horizon. As well as large groups of infantry from the Devonshire and Gordon Highland regiments, the British also had a maxim gun, a field gun which could outrange the rifles of the Boers.

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The British also had a unit of cavalry that game rushing down the flank, across the river and then right onto the guns of the Volunteers. Worse, this is how they ended their activation, with a block of commandos ready to fire.

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Unfortunately, the Jo-burg Commando failed to activate for most of the game and so sat in their trenches and watched the enemy get closer. A pom-pon shell managed to pin some of the Devonshires but the Gordons charged in, pipes wailing and proceeded to give the Boers a taste of British steel.

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More bad news as the other Jo-burg commando were soon engaged by the Highlanders as well.

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The Pom-Pom, having slowed one unit, decided now was the time to dump all the ammo in the dirt and refuse to activate for the rest of the game.

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Things did not go well for the cavalry. The volunteers ripped them apart before they even reached melee range.

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Of course, the Volunteers could also see the rest of the British army was about to turn up and kick their heads in. Seeing no use in staying as the British were already in the ford, the Volunteers packed up and rode for the hills.

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As the game ended, and the Highlanders stormed the pom-pom sangar, the Devonshires finally got stuck in and routed the last of the commandos.


I had a really fun time playing this game. Although we didn’t win, it’s was still nice to get the dice out and move some really nice figures around. The scenario was pretty stacked in the Brits favour (seeing as they had multiple artillery pieces and much better command and control) but it could still have gone differently.

If I was to play it again, I’d have pushed the Jo-burg commandos to the other side of the river (meaning the Brits would need to cross the river to engage them). I’d also put the Volunteer commandos in the wadi, letting them pop off a few shots before using their mounted infantry perks (movement without needing to pass an activation check) to flee before the foot infantry got too close.

What did I think of the rules? Well, like many of the rulesets from Osprey, I picked up the basics of The Men Who Would Be Kings within a few minutes of playing. You can easily see some of the similarities to Daniel Mersey’s rulesets (Dragon Rampant and Lion Rampant) in terms of the basic rules but it has a different flavour thanks to the focus on firepower. This battle was “rifles vs rifles” but it’s easy to see how natives vs empire would go.

Overall, I think this is a nice ruleset if you want to get your colonial stuff on the table and play a game that’s easily finish-able in an evening of play (complete with the usual trips to the bar, photo taking and discussions on the usefulness of trenches in melee causing breaks). I’m sure there are rules that are more realistic but as someone with limited knowledge of the period, these were great for me.

And before you ask, no I am not going to collect a Colonial army. I already have enough side projects.

For readers wanting an alterantive (and more informative) viewpoint, my fellow Boer commander has written up his report. You can find it online at http://www.edinburghwargames.com/de-jagers-drift-1899/

Battle Report – “Climb To Glory” – Skirmish Sangin

This week’s battle report takes us back to Bazistan. The last few battles have been pretty Special Forces heavy so this time we’re going to get the regulars on the table. This is also a chance to play some Skirmish Sangin without a giant plane sat across most of the table. Anyway, on with the battle report!


The contested zone between Bazistan and Aden has been the site of several attempts by international agencies in improve local conditions. One attempt in the 2000’s was the establishment of the Bazistan Agricultural College, including a modern educational building in the contested zone. The compound, co-sponsored by the Argo Corporation, would provide technical help to the locals farmers as well as a testbed for new techniques and varieties. Unfortunately, the building was started just before a rise in violence between the local tribes and the governments and so was left abandoned. The local farmers took over the fields around the building shell and continued to till the ground.
Unfortunately, the building, among others in the valley, have been taken over by one of the insurgent groups in region to use as staging positions when moving supplies and personnel into Aden. ISAF-AP have spotted the activity in the region and have ordered elements of the 3rd BCT, 10th Mountain Division to move down the valley. Starting the operation in the early hours of the morning, dawn is approaching by the time the first troops reaches the Bazistan Agricultural College.


BLUFOR

The Americans in this battle were formed up in two groups:

Alpha – Squad Leader and two fireteams with the usual mix of weapons (Two M4s, a M4 with UGL and a M249). One of the riflemen is replaced by a marksman with his M21.

Bravo – Team leader, Combat Lifesaver, grenadier and M240 medium machine gun team. All of these are mounted in a M-ATV with a HMG

The objective for the US Army troops were simple – secure the area, destroy enemy assets and limit friendly casualties. These guys are the forward edge of a search and destroy mission.

OPFOR

The opposing force in this battle was one of the militia groups in Bazistan that has taken advantage of the porous state of the border. Several small groups were scattered around the main buildings with a mix of weapons from assault rifles up to RPGs (including a RPG 29). There were also a set of technicals, with two of them carrying HMGs to add some fire support. Two more acted as objectives.

The insurgents have also setup the area for defence. They have placed some small but potent IEDs in some of the fields (in order to take out people trying to sneak into the area). Additionally, mortars in other strongpoints are available to call in (assuming a forward observation roll is passed).

For this mission, the Insurgents know that the Americans are in the area. They are preparing to fire a rocket barrage from their technical which is a little unreliable. This is also a delaying action, so causing casualties to the oncoming force will give other strong points more time to prepare their defences. Evacuating supplies and fighters is also recommended.


This battle begins just after dawn. The American offensive began before the sun rose, with small units working quickly and quietly to overcome positions at the start of the valley. Just off-board, Alpha dismounted from their MRAP and began their advance on foot, trekking up to the edge of the wadi. On the road, Bravo moved slowly, looking for a good position to support the assault.

Inside the college grounds, the insurgents were preparing the rocket pod pulled from a Bazistan Hind. Although the system for firing had been used before, it was never 100% reliable.

The M-ATV arrives with the gunner swinging to aim at the shell of the Agricultural College.

A better view from above shows Alpha set up near the wadi while Bravo sat in their M-ATV (their presence in the drainage ditch is an illusion).

Eager to get in the fight and keep pushing forward, Bravo’s driver put his foot down and floored it. As they rolled down the road, the gunner shouts “CONTACT” after spotting two of the sentries close to the turning into the compound.

Hearing the news over the radio, Alpha decided to stay in the wadi and put the fire down, rather than the original plan of assaulting the compound. The marksman in the squad quickly found a target on the roof and, in an excellent bit of marksmanship, dropped him with a single shot. This alarmed the RPG wielding fighter behind him, who is suddenly distracted from the oncoming M-ATV to evade bullets.

However, the insurgents closer to the road were all ready to take on the armoured truck rolling towards them. One of the DSHK technicals rolled onto the road while the RPG-29 gunner set himself up ready to fire. At the same time, the M240 team disembarked from the MRAP and began to set up their machine gun.

Before anyone could take their shots, one of the grenadiers in Alpha dropped a 40mm grenade straight onto the technical. This blast ripped the vehicle apart and rendered it combat ineffective. While the crew dived for cover amongst the wheat field, many of the other fighters were disheartened.

However, the RPG gunner on the roof was more on the game and sent an RPG round flying towards the target. Despite the huge size of the vehicle, he missed sending up a plume of smoke next to vehicle. The shot wasn’t entirely ineffective though – the blast rattled the crew inside causing them to be stunned in place.

Two insurgents attempted to outflank the MRAP by moving along the drainage ditch, careful to keep out of the firing arc of the M240. However, Bravo’s grenadier (sat in one of the passenger seats) spotted the oncoming threat. In one swift move he disembarked, spotted the oncoming threat and took out both fighters with a single 40mm grenade.

The two lead sentries, shocked by the arrival of the M-ATV, had gone to ground in the crop field. For a few activations they were hidden away until Alpha spotted them and opened up with the M249.

Back on the road, things were not going well. After seeing the original RPG 29 gunner get cut down, another insurgent rushed to pick up the dropped launcher. Barely pausing, and limited by his skill with heavy weapons, this plucky insurgent sent another round towards the vehicle. Sadly it was ineffective causing nothing more than another nasty fright for the crew in the MRAP. Return fire cut this have-a-go-hero before he could reload.

I haven’t got a huge number of photos of this but throughout the game, Alpha squad were racking up a massive bodycount. Rather than advance, they simply sat back and used their high rifle skills and night vision to spot enemy targets an engage. The photo shows one of the main threats to them, a PKM team in the front building, after it was engaged by multiple LMGs, 40mm grenade rounds and assault rifles.

After an aborted attempt, the rocket pod suddenly sprung to life. With a plume of smoke and a scream of rockets, the insurgents completed one of their objectives by sending its deadly payload into the bulk of the American offensive.

Around the same time, a plucky insurgent armed with an RPG attempted a hit and run on the MRAP. This shot also missed but it did make the M-ATV realise that it maybe should move before one of the rounds actually caused some damage.

Having seen the rocket pod go off, the Americans were desperate to engage and destroy the launcher before it fired again. This lead to a rather hilarious situation where almost two full squads engaged an empty vehicle and managed to do nothing more than add some ventilation holes, wreck the interior and blow big chunks of dirt up.

On the other flank, the green technical had been attracting ineffective fire from Alpha while distracting them from the escaping supply truck. As the rounds got closer, the technical decided to back up.

“What’s that Abdul, there’s Americans around here?”

The M-ATV hammered away with it’s .50cal, turning the vehicle to mincemeat and igniting the ammo.

With only two fighters left, Alpha and Bravo decided to roll forward and begin clearing out the college building. However, tragedy unfolded when the M-ATV decided to cut through one of the crop fields. With a deafening bang, one of the IEDs detonated and ripped through the crew compartment, completely destroying the vehicle. Having not taken a single casualty all game, two soldiers were now dead and an expensive vehicle was now wrecked.

However, the Americans had forced the insurgents from this position and the road was now open for the rest of the offensive to move forward. At the same time, despite massive casualties, the insurgents had fired their rocket barrage, evacuated their supply truck and caused casualties amongst the American forces.


Overall it was a really fun game. BLUFOR managed to get fire superiority and keep it through most of the game. Playing as the insurgents, I think I fixated too much on the M-ATV rather than trying to engage Alpha. It was a real shame that my off-map mortar were not called in – I guess they had an issue (possibly the kicking off for a new scenario perhaps). At the same time, I managed to hit all of my objectives which is new! It’s also really different to play with more Average troops having been running the demo game with Special Forces. There were more missed shots than I was used to (even with one of my opponents using his magic dice) which led to a few outrageous shots.

Having not run a game at the club since January, I really miss the different feel that you get from running demo games. It’s a bit more relaxed despite having less time to play. So expect a game in April – perhaps this one will be run with more than a week’s worth of planning.