Sunday, January 19, 2020

Special Ops Extraction

We tried a new mission type for our latest Force on Force game, a special operations team extracting an enemy VIP in the Middle East.  In this case, it's a scientist with deadly WMD knowledge who the terrorists would rather kill than surrender to the Americans who came to retrieve him forcibly.
This game took place at night, with visibility limited to 18 inches for the terrorists, who lack night vision goggles (NVGs).  The eleven operators are d10 Troop Quality, d12 Morale, and the terrorists are d6 TQ and d10 Morale.  The four-man team moving with the scientist, the transport team, suffered the Dependent penalty and could not make a Rapid Move.  The overwatch team was set up outside the compound ready to move back to the extraction vehicles at the far end of the board.  The vehicles were being guarded by three female operators that eldest daughter wanted to paint while her brothers were painting.  Eventually, she'll have five of them, so they'll be Fem Force Five, but until she finishes a couple more they'll just be the Fem Force Three. 

The chances of the terrorists sounding the alarm increased with each turn - roll a d6 and get a 6 on turn 2, get a 5 on turn 3, and so on.

Here is the compound where we had just liberated the scientist over the dead bodies of his two guards. 

The plan was to take the back road and avoid detection.  The overwatch team began to move, but a unit on the roadside saw them, and we knew we were in for a long night. 

The overwatch team exchanged a round of fire with the enemy fire team that had identified them, and the whole neighborhood was alerted.  We shot all but the leader of the squad, but took a casualty of our own - one of our men was wounded but living.
That brought their reinforcements moving toward us.
The ensuing round of fire gave the overwatch team another casualty.
The overwatch team pulled back behind the corner of the objective building and made successful wound checks at the beginning of the next turn – no wound for one casualty, a light wound for the other.
The overwatch team quickly recovered and went on the offensive, laying low the enemy fire team blocking the transport team’s movement.
And both teams moved out of the target compound and into the street…
Another group of terrorists emerged to confront the assembled fire teams, but got shot down in short order.
Of course, this just brought more terrorists out of the woodwork…
Another terrorist cell encountered the firepower of the two fireteams, dropping a number of fresh casualties on the ground.
More importantly, however, we had to worry about enemies lying in wait on the rooftops along the extraction route.
The terrorists also got their act together and called in a technical that came barreling down the road.
The technical, however, didn’t last very long.
After picking their way through the neighborhood and several more exchanges of fire, they reached the extraction vehicles being guarded by Fox Force Three.
Post-script:  This was a closer game than the above report really shows.  On several occasions the advanced first aid chart that elite troops use in Force on Force saved the operators.  Both fire teams were slugging along with wounded troops and were a bad roll away from mission failure on several occasions.  I feel like this was about the limit for Troop Quality d10 regulars versus TQ d6 irregulars.  The game system really does balance differing troop types well.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Final Assault on Zawiya, 10 March 2011

This battle follows up two previous games I've played in the Libyan Civil War's opening in March of 2011.  In Outskirts of Zawiya, a reinforced platoon of Ghaddafi's loyalist forces rolled toward the rebelling city and mopped up resistance.  In Zawiya City Center, 8 March 2011, the army and rebels fought to a standstill over a contested patch of the cityscape.

In this battle, Ghaddafi's elite Khamis Brigade, along with some regulars from other units, make a push to consolidate control over the rebellious city.  A platoon of government infantry with BMP-1s in support advances into the heart of the contested urban area with several dozen insurgents in opposition.

The Khamis Brigade troops wear red berets, and are Troop Quality d8, Morale d10.  The other government forces are TQ d6, Morale d8.  Son #1 had the government troops and I ran the insurgents.

The government forces pose for a platoon photo before they head into the contested neighborhood.

The government forces are off to the races, with Khamis Brigade leaders signaling a general advance.

Insurgents lie in wait.

An insurgent sniper team stands ready to pick off government troops.

A government machine gun team takes to the roof of a building to establish an intermediate support by fire position.

The machine gun team and the snipers lying in wait spot each other, the MG team wins initiative and keeps the snipers either wounded or suppressed.

View from the MG team - insurgent team lying in wait beyond the wall in the distance.

Fog of War card hits the government forces - indirect fire hits a randomized unit...

 ...and the government forces take casualties in their assembly area...

...and insurgent RPG fire is directed at the crucial MG team on the rooftop.

More insurgents advance to counter the government troops.

An insurgent team at the top of the mosque loses initiative and takes a shot from the BMP-1.

Reverse view of the now-remodeled mosque roof.

CASEVAC of the MG team member injured by artillery fire.

The insurgents get hit with a Fog of War card that strips them of artillery support:

Line of sight check on the government left flank.  The insurgents lose the initiative check and take casualties.

Similar results on the government right flank...

Government forces pouring into the neighborhood.

A Fog of War card brings an insurgent MG team into the fight, complete with the Punisher-themed gunner here.

Insurgents race across an alleyway and shed several troops in the process.

A Fog of War card largely neutralizes a key insurgent team.

Government BMP advances with infantry support.

Son #1 talked about moving an MG-heavy squad of Khamis Brigade troops to a roof to establish another intermediate support by fire position.  I was skeptical - I didn't think they would have good line of sight from the proposed position, and I warned him that even if they did, they could end up taking on an overwhelming number of insurgents.

I was wrong.  He put the squad on a rooftop, and they won a series of initiative checks and lay waste to several insurgent teams.

Here's some of their handiwork:

Government forces storm an insurgent position previously neutralized by a Fog of War card.  It's a bloodbath for the insurgents.

Government forces take casualties during their advance.

Two insurgents with RPGs jump out from behind a corner and try to take out a government BMP.  They lose initiative and pay the price.

Government forces turn the corner and open up their advance on the left flank.  Insurgent forces have been largely broken by this point.

To add insult to injury, a Fog of War card gives the government forces a T-72 main battle tank.  At this point, we called the game, with the insurgents having been pushed out of the neighborhood.

The dead insurgents stacked up...

This game went a bit differently than I expected, but we had a great time and it largely reflected what happened in the early phases of the Libyan Civil War.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Elhiem Elite Taliban and RPG Gunners Painted

I’ve got a couple of games played and awaiting write-ups, but haven’t found the time to get them done. In the meantime, here’s some pics of some Elhiem minis I’ve painted, I think they came out rather well:

Hope to get the battles they fought in posted soon. Stay tuned!

Friday, February 15, 2019

Risk: Europe Playtest

Was happy to get Risk:  Europe for my boys this Christmas, and we broke it out and kicked the proverbial tires.

This guy looks ready to invade.

My boys have played Medieval:  Total War II a fair amount, so this was historically familiar to them.  There's already an excellent write-up over at The Stronghold Rebuilt on the miniatures, so if you want to use the included four factions of medieval miniatures in about 1/72 or 20mm, go check that out.

The basics:  Four factions fight for control of a map of Europe with major cities giving certain advantages in income when taxed, levying troops, or other resource management buffs.  The game runs until one player gets the requisite number of crowns for owning capital cities such as London, Paris, Madrid, etc.

The game incorporates four troop types - infantry, archers, cavalry, and siege machines.  The latter three go earlier in sequence during a combat and can whittle away your foes' troops before the infantry combat takes place along familiar Risk 3 attackers versus 2 defender dice rolls, with ties going to the defender.  Provinces with castles can only be attacked by armies that contain a siege machine, and siege machines are of course the most expensive troop type to stand up.

We played with three players, and the rules tell you that in such instances the fourth army must be fielded, but as a mercenary faction.  Players bid to control the mercenary faction, forcing them to balance their own force requirements versus the advantage of controlling an x-factor ally.

I recommend following this rule.  We didn't field the mercenary faction, just so we could learn the rules, and quickly saw that the board really does need all four factions for the game to balance correctly.

Game in progress.  At left is the ladder of crowns that players climb in terms of crowns that they've won.  I'm playing Orange, Son 1 is Purple, and Son 2 is Green.  You can see that by now players have bought siege machines and are lining up to invade provinces with castles.

We played for several hours in some back-and-forth exchanges over contested provinces.  We all had fun and want to dive back into the game.

- If you ever wanted an analog version of Medieval:  Total War, this is your game.
- The rules are great.  The crown cities all add buffs that facilitate resource management decisions and sharp competition between players.  The combat rules provide a stripped-down yet elegant medieval combat system.  With some command rules or activation mechanics added on, this could seriously be the basis of a wargame not on a Risk board but on a large gaming table.
- This is a gateway drug for getting your friends into wargaming.  A nuanced version of a game that they already know that could definitely lead them into other tabletop strategy games.