The scenario started out with both sides able to place hidden units (particularly the sniper team for each side, which had no "hidden" marker) in anticipation of the enemy's moves. The US/Iraqi players had mixed units with TQ/Morale of d10/d12 operators interspersed with d6/d8 Iraqis and US d8/d10 infantry coming to reinforce. The ISIS player had d6/d12 troops, while the Chechen ISIS had d8/d10 troops manning key positions, such as the mortar crew, hidden RPG-29 crew, and hidden sniper team. The Chechen and ISIS players had the option of two positions at which they could hide their GPS jammer, and the US/Iraqi players knew that the device was at one of the two places. The Chechen/ISIS faction players chose to put the jammer in the mosque with the blue dome on top, making this their strong flank with hidden unit placement.Iraq, 2015The Iraqi government has continued to perform poorly in the field, and Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) forces have advanced to the outskirts of Baghdad. ISIS forces are within medium mortar range of Baghdad International Airport (BIAP), and are employing indirect fire against the airfield and hampering US Noncombatant Evacuation Operations (NEO). US forces are now fully embroiled in the conflict, with US Special Forces advising Iraqi Army units in the field, and most of a Heavy Brigade Combat Team (HBCT) deployed in support of BIAP and embassy security and NEO efforts.A particularly wily Chechen mortar cell has been harassing BIAP with indirect fire, then displacing in a station wagon to a new firing point. The cell is currently located in a neighborhood protected by an ISIS GPS jamming device, further complicating US targeting.An Iraqi Army unit advised by a US Special Forces Operational Detachment-Alpha (ODA) has advanced far into the ISIS-controlled neighborhood that currently hosts the Chechen mortar cell, skilled Chechen snipers and anti-armor teams, booby trapped buildings, and ISIS armor captured from Iraqi units that have either fled their posts or been defeated in battle. US forces have committed a Bradley Rifle Platoon to reinforce the beleaguered Iraqi soldiers and their SOF advisors. Both sides have sniper teams hidden on the board (without hidden unit markers), but do not know of each other’s whereabouts. US air support is on the way, but so are ISIS reinforcements.
|Conceptual dry run at my house, from the US/Iraqi end of the board. The US/Iraqi forces have to neutralize the ISIS mortar team as well as the GPS jammers.|
|Side view of the battlefield from the US/Iraqi right flank.|
ISIS won intiative, and the ISIS team at between US/Iraqi Team #1 and the ISIS mortar team exchanged fire. This didn't go well for ISIS, causing 3 ISIS casualties. Vehicles from both sides maneuvered and fired, causing one Iraqi casualty, damaging an ISIS technical's machine gun, and suppressing an uparmored Iraqi HMMWV.
|View of the board from the ISIS side.|
The US SF and Iraqi squad in the center of the game provided a testing ground for joint adviser/advised units. Every time the unit had to make an opposed initiative check, the SF advisers rolled a TQ check to see if they used their initiative (d10), or if herding the advised cats was too much and they revert to the Iraqi initiative (d6). This mechanic worked well, if a but cumbersome, and the unit weathered the whole game with one Iraqi KIA and no other casualties.
|The ISIS technical, bottom of the picture, was immobilized and had its MG firepower reduced by half. The crew and troops in the bed displaced into the mosque to carry on the fight.|
|The DShK-equipped Chechen ISIS technical shown here exchanged fire with an Iraqi Army HMMWV, suppressing the inferior Iraqi troops, and moved forward to let troops in the bed of the pickup disembark and take up position in this building.|
Turn 2: The US Mechanized Infantry platoon showed up with 4 Bradley Fighting Vehicles. The Chechen sniper team immediately took a shot at the Rifle Platoon Leader (PL), who was dutifully leading from the front of his element, standing up in the turret exposed to name tape defilade. The Chechen snipers missed, and the US player narrowly averted a significant blow to command and control.
|Arrival of the Bradley platoon. The ISIS insurgents exchanged fire with the lead BFV, then exited out the back of the building.|
|The BFV returned fire at the building housing the Chechen sniper team, killing one of the Chechens in the co-located fireteam.|
|The lead BFV took an RPG hit, reducing its chain gun firepower by half. It stopped to disgorge the fireteam contained inside so that they could get into a building and get into the fight.|
Turn 4: US/Iraqi troops continued their advance. ISIS forces received reinforcements in the form of a captured Iraqi M1A1 Abrams MBT, but it didn't exactly shift the battle's momentum like I thought it would. A Fog of War card brought the Iraqi Army an M1A1 of its own, and the ISIS Abrams was quickly knocked down a peg by the US forces.
Turn 5: The US retained the initiative, and on a Fog of War card (as if they needed it) received reinforcements in the form of a 4-man SOF team. The two factions exchanged fire, with ISIS taking the worst of the casualties dished out. The US SF/Iraqi element in the middle of the board knocked out the Chechen DShK technical parked behind the burning building. At the end of this turn, a Fog of War card brought a sandstorm, significantly changing the course of the battle. In Turn 6, US forces were supposed to get dedicated Apache gunship support. Not only was that not going to happen now, but visibility was reduced such that optimum range no longer applied, movement was limited to tactical speed only, and only units with thermal sights (the M2 BFVs and the M1A1) could engage anything beyond 18" away.
Turn 6: US/Iraqi forces retained initiative, but Fog of War cards continued to derail the anticipated course of the game. A Fog of War card gave the Chechens their own captured M1A1, which showed up behind the mosque. I only have one M1 model (a toy, really - but to scale) so a Matchbox flatbed truck and SUV were serving as my other two tanks.
|The Iraqi HMMWV shown on the right had its HMG knocked out and was reduced to half speed. The crew chose to get out and assault the crew of the destroyed Chechen DShK technical. They chose poorly.|
|A Fog of War card brought a random mortar barrage down on this US fire team - the second one they faced - killing one of the team members.|
Turn 7: The Iraqi Army M1A1 destroyed a Chechen-crewed uparmored HMMWV on the left, and a Fog of War card dropped an IED in the middle of the ISIS left, complicating movement of forces. This turn was dominated by the advance of the Chechen-crewed captured M1A1 and ISIS efforts to move forces around their right, hoping to compensate for the collapse of their left flank.
|ISIS forces displaced around to their right flank, hoping for an RPG shot on a BFV...|
|...alas, they lost an opposed initiative roll and the BFV cut down the RPG gunner.|
|ISIS counter-advance in Turn 7. The SUV at bottom of the picture is an M1A1 MBT. Really.|
|State of the battle at the end of Turn 7. A lot of stuff was on fire.|
With the end of Turn 7, we closed out the game. The hour was late, and the insanity imposed by Fog of War cards meant that this wasn't going to end any time soon.
ISIS forces claimed victory. The victory points for the US/Iraqi forces were entirely objective-focused on knocking out the mortar crew and the GPS jammer. Neither happened, and ISIS forces inflicted a number of casualties that gained them victory points.
As a closing thought, I need to retool the scenario. US forces, though they didn't prevail here, had a ridiculous amount of combat power. The US player should start on the board in Turn 1, and only have half a platoon - two BFVs and a squad of infantry. One thing that doesn't need to change is the uncertainty I built in. Each side only received their objectives, and a number of ISIS units started hidden. This definitely added to the sense of the unknown for both sides.
We'll see how this goes next time we play it.