Saturday, August 9, 2014

Libya: Outskirts of Zawiya

I was lucky enough to meet up with Little Nicky on Sunday and play a game of Ambush Alley Games' excellent Force on Force.  This is the first time I've played with someone who knows the rules better than I do, and it was a great time.  We showed up at Collectormania just southeast of Denver without much of a plan, but I told Nicky that I had wanted to play a game set in the Libyan civil war for some time, and he humored me.

The game is set in the early stages of the civil war, before NATO air power came into play, during the pro-Gaddafi forces' offensive to retake Zawiya, on or about 4 March 2011.  The Gaddafi regime forces are tasked with pushing through the board and capturing an anti-Gaddafi leader at the objective building at the far end of the map.  Anti-Gaddafi forces must protect their leader and inflict as much damage on the regime forces as possible.

Regime Forces:  A reinforced combat reconnaissance patrol, composed of one motorized rifle platoon (3 x BTR-80 with three 7-man infantry squads), 2 x T-55, and one technical with a single-barrel 23mm antiaircraft gun, is making an initial push into the outskirts of one of the axes of advance into Zawiya.  The elite (by Libyan standards) Khamis Brigade troops are Troop Quality 8, Morale 10.

Anti-Gaddafi Forces:  The anti-regime forces have five 6-8 man squads at each of their Hot Spots, four technicals (pickups with machine guns mounted in the back - two with DShK, two with PKM), and two static DShK emplacements.  Troop Quality 6, Morale 10.

Captain Ibrahim ordered the convoy forward, scanning the surrounding hostile suburbs  of Zawiya through the T-55's viewfinder.  No messing around this time.  He had ordered the motorized infantry platoon leader to drive through resistance.  He and the other tank, as well as the technical, would provide sufficient firepower to get the infantry right to the objective.  Just as he had been taught in the academy - keep the offensive moving, 20km per hour, guns apply overwhelming firepower as needed.

Initial Disposition of Forces:  Libyan forces advancing from near edge of board.
Side view:  Rebel forces visible at Hot Spots 3 and 4, with a DShK technical next to Hot Spot #3.
Side view:  Rebel forces with technicals at Hot Spots 1 and 2.
Turn 1: The lead BTR rolled down the road, and a rebel truck-mounted DShK activated to open fire, but in the contest for initiative, rolled a 1.  The resulting Fog of War card raised rebel morale to 12, but the BTR wrecked the technical with effective fire.  Meanwhile, the rebels at Hot Spot #5 activated and fired an RPG at the convoy, to no effect.  The regime forces' fire proved likewise ineffective.
Rebel technical loses a machine gun knife-fight.

Middle BTR struck an antipersonnel mine, which had no effect on the buttoned up crew and infantry inside.  "What the hell was that?"
The DShK crew on this roof exchanged fire with the lead BTR as well, with no effect on either party.

The lead BTR also got a shot off at this technical, reducing it to one-half speed.
Turn 2:  As the regime forces continued their push to the objective, the firepower of their vehicles began to overwhelm the anti-Gaddafi rebels.
This DShK emplacement felt the brunt of both the BTR-80 and T-55; by the end of turn 2, their corner of the building was rubble and the heavy machine gun crew were all casualties.

The rebels at Hot Spot #5 fired off an RPG at the BTR-80 in the photo.  They missed, but return fire from the BTR and the T-55 either wounded or scared off several of the rebels, including the RPG gunner.

The rebels from Hot Spot #4 entered the fray, squaring off with the regime's rear security vehicle, a 23mm antiaircraft gun mounted in a pickup.

The rebel RPG and small arms fire managed to wound two of the three technical crew and immobilize the vehicle.  The 23mm AA gunner was not wounded, and his return fire pulped four of the rebels.

Rebels at Hot Spot #1 fired an RPG at the lead BTR-80, but failed to damage the vehicle.  Return fire from the BTR caused a couple of casualties.
 Turn 3:  Regime forces continued their march to the objective and racked up more rebel casualties. 

Rebels at Hot Spot #2 entered the fray, fired an RPG that failed to connect, and suffered a couple of casualties.  This happened a lot.

Regime troops dismounted from the rear BTR-80.  A brutal exchange of fire laid low the rest of this rebel squad and knocked out the 23mm AA gun on the government technical.

The lead BTR-80 again exchanged fire with the rebels to its front, inflicting more casualties.

The lead BTR-80 blew past this rebel squad and technical, but reacted to their fire, causing a couple of casualties.

Additional fire from the T-55 and middle BTR-80 caused more losses.

Newly arrived rebels at Hot Spot #5 caused a casualty on the dismounted regime squad, but were wiped out by effective return fire.

As turn 3 drew to a close, rebels from Hot Spot #3 assaulted the dismounted regime squad.  The rebels were all either killed or run off, but he squad suffered several wounds as a result.  Only three uninjured squad members remained at the end of the turn.

Lead regime elements at the end of turn 3.  A DShK technical, shown in the lower left corner, opened fire on regime forces but was blown up by return fire.
Turn 4:  As regime forces closed on the objective, rebel RPG fire began to have some impact on regime armored vehicles.

The lead tank was reduced to half speed by a rebel RPG.  The tank's machine gun failed to fire as well due to a Fog of War card.

The lead BTR-80 also took an RPG hit that reduced it to half-speed, but it still managed to move to the corner of the objective building.  1st squad dismounted from the BTR and advanced toward the objective, exchanging fire with the rebel DShK on the roof of the objective building.  As rebel luck would have it, their fire had no effect and the DShK gunner became a casualty.

3rd squad conducted CASEVAC, loading the five serious wounds on to the trail BTR-80.  The trail tank, meanwhile, ended enemy resistance from Hot Spot #5.

A rebel sniper team, perched atop Hot Spot #1, fired at the dismounted 1st Squad.  The sniper fire failed to connect, and return fire took out both members of the sniper team.

A rebel jeep sporting a PKM rounded the corner of Hot Spot #1 and opened fire on 1st Squad, but failed to inflict casualties on the regime forces.  Return fire from the infantry destroyed the jeep.

As turn 5 kicked off, the lead BTR-80 took another RPG hit, reducing it to half firepower on its KPV machinegun.  It still managed to return fire and wipe out the rebel RPG team.
3rd Squad completed its CASEVAC and the uninjured soldiers mounted the top of the BTR-80.  The trail T-55 continued to provide covering fire, killing an RPG gunner.

2nd Squad dismounted from its BTR-80 as it reached the objective.  The insurgents on the roof were able to re-man the DShK machine gun, and opened fire on the exposed infantry.  As the rest of the engagements went in this game, the rebels missed, and regime forces' return fire killed the DShK crew.
At this point, we called the game in favor of the regime forces.  Though we didn't set out victory points in the beginning, the regime forces had effectively crushed rebel resistance and had one squad on the objective building and another about to enter.

In retrospect, we should have given the regime forces less armor or the rebels a captured tank or other anti-armor capability.  Regardless, it was a fun game, and I look forward to playing with Nick in the future.

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