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.

Battle Report – Big Bird Down – Spectre Operations

This week’s battle report saw me finally bringing the downed C130 down to the club. Rather than the infantry heavy Skirmish Sangin scenario that is being used for the demo game, we instead brought out the big guns and went for some vehicle action in Spectre Operations.


While flying a routine transport operation between Bazi City and Abu Dhabi, a C130 Hercules belonging to a civilian contractor suddenly reported incoming fire. The aircraft managed to attempt evasive action but contact with the aircraft was swiftly lost.

Due to the nature of the cargo on board the aircraft, the contractor was quick to report the loss citing safety reasons and the potential issues if the various militia groups in the region were to secure it. Coalition forces have attempted to find it but a massive sandstorm in the region has forced a delay.

Now the sandstorm has cleared up, intelligence has now found the crash site and spotted movement around it. JSOC has now been ordered to prepare an operation. It’s objectives are to deploy to the crash site and secure all sensitive material.

Due to the number of enemy in the area and reinforcements approaching it, US Special Forces are attacking at speed. The plan is to snatch and grab the key objectives, utilising two armed SF pickup trucks.


Forces for this engagement were as follows:

BLUFOR:

V1 – SF Technical with .50cal

Team 1 – 5 professional with the usual operator kit such as body armour, comms and personal medkits. Also a mix of weapons from carbines to compact LMGs and light AT weapons

V2 – SF Technical with minigun

Team 2 – same as team 1 but with one less LAW available.

OPFOR:

6 Trained but well equipped soldiers with body armour, assault rifles fitted with scopes and red dots and comms

2 Trained soldiers working as a sniper team with a DMR

Two groups of trained fighters (each between 5 and 10) with a mix of assault rifles and at least one MMG and RPG

2 Technicals with HMG

Technical with light recoilless rifle


The US forces start at the bottom of the board and would need to work up it. The three objectives were:

  1. Recover the black box
  2. Recover intel documents from the white SUV in the central cargo compartment
  3. Destroy the flight deck in the nose
  4. (Optional) Destroy enemy assets (such as the technicals)

OPFOR’s role was to prevent these from happening – any objectives left standing at the end would count as being under control of the bad guys.

The board layout before deployment. Lots of open areas for both sides to cross while under fire. From here you can see the objectives stretching from the black box next to the tail section up to the flight deck at the top of the board.

The game begun by both of the US vehicles rolling on the board and getting ready to fire. Vehicle 2, complete with its minigun, rolled slowly onto the board and spotted the enemy. With the characteristic “brrrt”, the minigun opened up.

In no time at all the target squad, hunkering down behind a section of wing, were taking serious hits. Each of the minigun’s six shots took out their target, causing some a chunk of suppression. However, it wasn’t all going the operator’s way. In response to this hail of gunfire, the leftover bits of the target squad (as well as the marksman team on the two storey building) opened up at their oppressor. With the hail of PKM bursts and a carefully aimed marksman shot, OPFOR managed to knock out vehicle 2’s driver, gunner and then engine block in rapid succession.

Vehicle 1, having just seen its buddy get lit up, decided to take a slightly less dangerous route. It pulled in behind the wreck of the tail section, just in range to collect the black box. It also was the perfect position to engage one of the smaller insurgent groups hiding under the wing with the .50cal.

Having seen the lead BLUFOR vehicle go down, the rest of the OPFOR vehicles moved in for a better shot. These technicals moved at full speed, giving up a round of shooting in order to get closer next turn.

Springing from their death trap of a vehicle, Team 2 moved into cover and started acting as a base of fire team for the rest of the attack. Despite coming under long-range sniper fire, the team’s biggest concerns were the approaching technicals and the left over medium machine guns that had chewed up their ride. Unfortunately, the response to the technicals missed (although did cause some suppression) at the cost of their single use AT4 rocket.

On the other hand the LMG caused merry havoc on the infantry behind the wing. After another hail took out the squad leader and a medium machine gunner, the leftover trio would have to spend time regrouping and recovering from the suppression.

On the other flank, Team 1 and their vehicle were doing well. Most of the team had disembarked,leaving only the top gunner still in the vehicle. However he swiftly got to work, the HMG cutting down the small 5 man squad over the course of two turns of fire. On the ground, the rest of the team was getting ready to deploy. The team leader disembarked, spotting the left over bits of the main enemy squad and radioed to his buddy with the 40mm grenade launcher.

One carefully aimed indirect shot later and the leftovers had been taken out.

On the other side of the board though, Team 2 were in dire straits. Although the machine gun fire had been effective, they had been exposed for just a little too long. First, the light recoilless rifle fired taking out one operator with a direct hit but missing his buddy on the luck of a dice roll. Then the HMG on the other technical fired, kill the exposed LMG gunner. Finally, in the following turn, the recoilless rifle fired again, blowing the immobile technical to pieces to prevent anyone using its minigun.

Seeing it all going to hell, the BLUFOR commander decided to cut his loses and focus on grabbing some of the objectives. To grab the black box he popped smoke, sprinted a guy out to the box and dragged it back while the rest of the team put down supporting fire. Marking the flight deck off as a lost cause, he them formulated a simple plan to solve the issue of the intelligence documents in the white SUV. Using another light anti-tank weapon, he blew the target sky-high. If BLUFOR can’t have it, no one can.

Loading the black box onto the remaining vehicle, squad 1 mounted up (apart from two escorts) and made a sprint for the edge of the board. Despite the rest of the enemy being hot on their heels, BLUFOR managed to escape unharmed.


That was a really fun game. Trying to roll the unarmoured SF pickups directly into the line of fire might have been a bad move to begin with but the fact that the operators managed to hold the bad guys (mostly). I think this game does show how vulnerable the highly trained operators can be while they are still mounted as they can’t rely on their improved skills as much.

Next time though, I’d give BLUFOR something a little more armoured like so they could actually be more likely to thunder run up the board.

Battle Report – A Brush With The Law – Spectre Operations

This week’s battle report sees us return to the ongoing campaign in Bazistan. Following the kidnapping of the Geordiestan Ambassador from the Petramco/NZDF force back in September, it’s time to go to the next stage of the operation.


The Geordiestan Ambassador has been missing for two weeks. After being kidnapped en route from the airport by an unknown group of militia, intelligence has been working day and night to recover him. Unfortunately, the whims of the Bazistan government has caused this process to be delayed as only Bazi SF can act on any intelligence partner nations provide. A Special Forces team from Geordiestan did arrive in country but was turned round at the airport. Other nations have also been held off, with American, British and Russians all barred from operating legally on Bazi soil.

However, a new piece of information has come to light. Multiple sources point to a group in the badlands bordering Aden which is preparing to move two high value targets out of the country. This compound has attracted the attention of the Bazistan army as well as British Intelligence. Two teams from the SAS (codenamed SABRE and WANDERER) have been deployed to extract the hostages before the Bazistan Army does.


The game takes place in a frontier town in the Badlands of Bazistan, close to the border with the Aden Republic and only a short drive to the Red Sea. Intel had found two target buildings, (the tan coloured ones in the photo above) that were militia strongholds and could be the location of the two hostages. Both buildings would need to be checked. As the game began, the militia were completely unalert – the town is in safe territory and the police hadn’t tipped them off to any possible attackers. The Bazistan Army wouldn’t arrive until later – Bazi SF arriving on turn 2 and the bulk of the force arriving on turn 3.

The forces were simple:

SAS

  • SABRE – 6 Elite operators with usual direct action kit, including a LAW, LMG, UGL and DMR
  • WANDERER – 6 Elite operators in local clothing. Designed for stealth, they also had a SMG, Auto Shotgun and a Airburst grenade launcher

Bazi Army

  • Bazi SF – 6 professionals with modified assault rifles and the usual support items like body armour and medical kits
  • Bazi Motorised – 8 Trained soldiers with Assault Rifles, a MMG and an RPG accompanied by an Elite Special Forces mentor

Militia

  • Three technicals – two with HMG and one with a recoilless rifle
  • Multiple small groups of trained fighters, armed with the usual mix of Assault Rifles, RPGs and MMGs

The SAS came on from the Western board edge, seeking the shortest route to one of the buildings that avoided the patrolling guards. SABRE headed for one of the ruined buildings, aiming to set up a base of fire to assist an assault on Objective Bravo.

WANDERER headed for Objective Alpha, stacking up on the door before breaching into the empty interior. Carefully sneaking around, they headed upstairs. Due to the buildings not including staircases, we added two in opposite corners of the building. Next time I’ll add some markers

Upstairs, they found themselves in the midst of a small collection of insurgents. Taking advantage of their silenced pistols and SMGs, the team took the first shots of the game easily dropping the two fighters inside the main room. After disposing of them and the two RPG gunners on the balcony, only three militiamen knew something was up.

Unfortunately, their intel was faulty – this building was completely clear of hostages. Time to dig in and start covering

Instead, time to focus on Objective Bravo. SABRE moved into an assault position, with the LMG, DMR and UGL gunner digging into the damaged building while the rest of the team prepared to sprint across the road.

Interestingly, they spotted a white SUV moving away from the target building. It seemed to be forming up into a convoy with one of the other technicals.

As turn two began, the first sign of real trouble turned up. Six operatives of the Bazi Special Forces had appeared, moving through the ruins of the African Quarter. They managed to stay relatively quiet, not alerting the militia as they crept into position.

Turn two was pretty uneventful – WANDERER dug in to the building by setting up positions covering the staircases and aiming to cover any assault on Objective Bravo. At the same time, SABRE moved into final positions, with the assault team going into cover behind one of the pickups by the side of the road. By now these actions were starting to concern some of the civilians and it was only a matter of time before the militia was entirely on alert.

Of course, elements of the Bazi 12th Motorised Division have no concept of stealth and rolled onto the board in their BTR80A. This could be a major game changer – the armour would be hard to penetrate while the heavy autocannon would easily cut a swathe through tightly packed squads.

This was the battlefield as the engagement shifted from a stealthy operation into a more kinetic experience. A few other things happened very quickly:

First up, the technical leading the convoy about to escort the SUV away swung round at the sight of the enemy. The M40 recoilless rifle it carried on the back would be one of the main weapons against the enemy AFV.

Two of the local Bazistan police ran forward to see what on earth this military unit was doing here. Once in cohesion range, these two police changed from being ambient civilians to working alongside the military.

As for the militia, they quickly started moving some more assets around. One of the technicals with HMG moved into an ambush position, ready to spring out with the .50cal. Of more immediate danger, a fighter with a RPG-29 moved into position on the balcony and prepared to engage.

Across the road, SABRE waited.

Rolling forward, the BTR was quick to drop the ramp and send deploys its squad of Bazi soldiers. Of note was the fact that they had been joined by an Elite mentor to give them a bit more sticking power in the fight.

Thanks to the massed fire from three separate squads, the Bazistan army quickly started taking a toll on the smaller militia units, pinning them down under massed suppression of simply taking them out.

Meanwhile, SABRE bust into the target building and came face to face with a few surviving militiamen. Ever the professionals, they quick dropped them before pushing forward. From upstairs, they could hear the steady sound of gunfire as the insurgents engaged the oncoming army. The fire managed to down the two policemen and suppress the oncoming soldiers but did distract them from the team of killers slowly climbing the stairs.

At the same time, WANDERER got involved and pulled a cool piece of kit out of the toolbox. Rather than engaging an isolated militia group with carbines, the airburst grenade launcher took aim and sent a single shot flying out across the roof tops.

Safe to say, it was quite effective.

An interesting side diversion was the two police at the end of the map. Rather than meeting up with the Bazi army to begin operations, they instead got stuck in a fight while trying to defend themselves from the militia trying to restrain them.

Back in the fray, the militia were taking a beating with huge numbers of suppression markers. It wasn’t just the Bazi Army – WANDERER were assisting the assault on Objective Bravo by eliminating incoming militia units thanks to sitting on overwatch – the -1 modifier was easily nullified by the optics and high shooting skill.

Meanwhile in the building SABRE rushed up the stairs to be confronted by a stack of insurgents. However, they were ready for this. In went the flashbang.

After a blinding flash and a hail of gunfire, three insurgents lay dead – the other two were to follow in the next turn.

At this stage, the photos dry up but there were a few great events

  • SABRE’s base of fire started engaging the Bazi Army, kill several with a mix of 40mm, LMG fire and DMR shots. However, many more were saved thanks the body armour and personal medkits
  • The BTR and technicals started trading rounds, leading to both parties ending up with no drivers.

However, the big thing was unmasking of the hostage in Objective Bravo revealing the ambassador’s aide. Finally being told that the ambassador was in the quickly escaping white SUV, two members of WANDERER decided to engage. And for the first time this game they actually rolled pretty high on their armour penetration roll leading to this.

The aimed precise shots were a little too effective, with a carbine killing all three passengers in the vehicle with a single burst.

Good job everyone.


Henry Mitchell reports on the situation in Bazistan after the dust has settled

Seeing as the Ambassador is no longer with us, Geordiestan must be furious with everyone involved in this affair from Petramco and the Kiwis to the Bazistan government and the rumoured involvement of British troops. We shall have to see what happens next!

Slightly more concerning is what the rescued aide recounted to the SIS when being debriefed. He overheard his kidnapper mention a safe house they were to be taken to… in the city of St. Davide in Zaiweibo!

The next game will pick up this trail, possibly going for a slightly stealthy mission as intelligence forces seek to discover more information in the land across the Red Sea.


Hope you guys enjoyed the battle report! It was a really good game, where I got to put a lot of toys on the table, hiding the militia in amongst civilians. The most important thing however was that everyone left the table smiling having had one hell of a battle.

Next week we’ll take a closer look at those SAS chaps, along with their more urban focused buddies. There might even be an additional impressions based on another set of figures I’ve recently painted…

Battle Report: Home of the Wolf – Skirmish Sangin

It was the last club night before Halloween – something slightly spooky was required. With freshly finished scenario in one hand, and freshly painted werewolves in the other, we sat down to play… Home of the Wolf!

The scenario saw 8 UKSF soldiers and a SIS agent going up against 3 werewolves. Thanks to the design of the scenario, I managed to fit two games of it in.


The board ready to play, with an abandoned compound in the middle of a forested valley. I think this was the most trees I’ve used in any of my wargames.

First game saw me taking control of the werewolves. The SAS setup throughout the central compound, in particular taking the high ground.

Slightly blurry shot, but it isn’t a werewolf film without a shot of one howling to the moon. I went for a scatter approach, probing for a thin point and then using my superior speed to mass suddenly at that position.

The start of the game didn’t exactly go my way. Werewolf number 3 was shot before he even activated, having been spotted early on and shot down by the combined gun fire of two Operators (including the SIS agent).

Werewolf number 2 ran straight into the two-man combination of shotgun/LMG trooper, leapt on top of the gunner and ripped him to pieces sending morale markers everywhere. Werewolf kills generate additional morale effects so even the elite and veterans were suffering morale failures.

Meanwhile the Alpha bounded over the wall and engaged one of the operators covering the front. Luckily for the trooper, he managed to parry the werewolf’s furious strikes.

I must have missed the photo but the two-man killing team that took out Werewolf 3 slewed round and finished off the alpha as well. About 4 phases in and I was down to 1/3 of my force.

Back on the rooftop, the shotgun trooper now stared down the last werewolf. Before it could leap forward he took aim and pulled the trigger. And….

Rolled a misfire. The shotgun jammed and now required 3AP to clear it.

The last wolf leapt off the roof and went running for some concealment. Maybe another ambush would help it get its prey.

After having watched the operators move to regroup, the wolf jumped in to take out another operator but got hit by the mother of all snapfires. Everyone in the arc opened up. However, the wolf managed to take the storm of bullets before slashing it’s target down and then sprinting away into the darkness.

As the wolf player, I was running out of options. So I went for a hail mary – moving round the compound, leaping over the wall and then trying to get some stealth kills by sneaking up behind

Alas, it was not to be. The wolf’s attacks were parried and in the next turn, he was dogpiled by the remaining SAS troopers.

Final result – all wolves dead, two SAS trooper critically incapacitated. Looks like the boys at Porton Down are about to have some new things to investigate.


I took a different approach when I jumped in as the SAS. Rather than sitting in the compound, I decided to make a break for the separate building and look for a spot where I could take advantage of massed firepower without being ambushed (also to avoid wolves jumping over the walls). To this end, I setup at the south gate ready for a sprint.

The downside of this blob approach was the fact the wolves could get much closer and very soon one had jumped over the wall to get at a straggler. However, snapfire inflicted some serious damage, dropping him to half health and his attempts at combat were parried.

This wolf then attempted to flee but Cunningham the SIS agent was having none of it. Upon activating she turned, sighted the fleeing wolf and dropped it with a burst before it could regenerate

The SAS attempted to make a break for it but upon exiting the compound got slammed by the other wolf.

After some bouncing around (including a good few hits on the wolf that regeneration didn’t get round to fix) one of the wolves managed to cause a wound on one of the rear guard. This caused a bubble of morale markers but the Operators were not being put down by a few oversized dogs.

At this point, the Alpha really got to strut its stuff. First it disemboweled the shotgunner (the snapfire shot missed by rolling equal to the target value) before killing the LAW gunner outright.

Raging at this kill, three of the SAS bum rushed the Alpha and with a flurry of blows (helped by the fact the wolves can’t parry).

The other wolf, seeing the Alpha taken down, promptly failed its morale test and made a run for the hills, followed by a chorus of jeers from the surviving troopers.

And with that, another victory for the SAS. Two men dead (minced by the Alpha) and one injured but the werewolves had been fought off.

One point we thought up while playing – the pounce move mentioned in the PDF which knocks the enemies prone is designed to cause a problem in close quarters. For this reason, we changed its effects to match up to the “Trip Up” combat action – a nasty way for the wolves to avoid enemies parrying them. Similarly, if you find the wolves a little too squishy, some light armour would help.


Overall a fun, dumb scenario – perfect for Halloween. Don’t worry, we’ll return to your regular scheduled Ultramodern content next week.