Friday, January 23, 2015

Showdown in Baga, Nigeria

Played another game of Force on Force with the good folks at CSGA on Saturday.  We played a scenario I wrote based on current events, the Boko Haram sweep of Baga, Nigeria

I took some license with the facts - the Nigerian Army (NA) showed up with a force roughly equivalent to the Boko Haram (BH) elements in this part of town, and a third faction, the military contractors of Extremis Operations Group (EOG) had their own mission, the retrieval of an executive for OILCO International (the "VIP") who had the misfortune of being in Baga when the BH forces made their move.  The EOG and NA forces were not directly aligned, but wouldn't shoot at each other. 

BH forces had objectives of seizing a Nigerian government center, destroying NA forces, and securing the OILCO VIP for ransom if possible.  NA forces received no points for the VIP's status, only for securing the government center and destroying BH forces.  The EOG contractors, all former SOF operators (TQ d10/Morale d10), were only worried about securing the OILCO VIP.  The EOG team lead bribed the NA commander to secure his acquiescence to the EOG presence on the battlefield.  The OILCO HQ had four poor quality (TQ d6/Morale d8) guards armed with AK-47s holding the fort until the EOG extractino team arrived.  The NA and BH forces were TQ d6/Morale d10 regulars, with Boko Haram irregulars arriving per normal insurgency rules.
View of the board from the Nigerian Army (NA) entry point.  The Extremis Operations Group (EOG) contractors launched their extraction mission to the right of the NA deployment zone.
View of the board from the Boko Haram (BH) entry point.
The Nigerian Army forces:  A T-55, BTR-70, and DShK-equipped technical.  Three-and-a-half squads of infantry.  All Troop Quality d6, except the crews of the armored vehicles, which were d8.
The Extremis Operations Gourp (EOG) contractors, all Troop Quality d10.

 The OILCO VIP ( who looks nothing at all like a downed pilot, my normal extraction subject) and the four untrained and unmotivated guards (TQ d6/Morale d8) who are about to get more than they bargained for with this guard shift.
The Boko Haram forces:  A T-55, two DShK-equipped technicals, and a couple dozen fighters (TQ d6/Morale d10).  They also received reinforcements at two Hotspots at the board's edge that represented the semi-organized nature of an insurgency that is not quite a regularized fighting force.
Turn 1:
Initiative rolls provided the following order of movement:  NA, then EOG, then BH.

The Nigerian Army forces advanced to relieve their comrades currently under siege at the government compound.  The forces at the compound engaged in a firefight with a Boko Haram cell in a nearby building.  Each side took one casualty, but then the NA T-55 weighed in on the matter with its 100mm gun, wiping out the BH fighters.
Wiped out Boko Haram cell.  The Nigerian Army tank that felled them is visible in the distance.

EOG advanced toward their objective and engaged in no fighting.
EOG on the move in a technical and a jeep.  Both had FN MAG medium machineguns, and the gunners were kitted out in mufti to hide the true nature of these mysterious gunmen.
The BH forces advanced as well, with their T-55 moving down the main drag and taking a shot at the NA BTR-70.  It scored a hit that destroyed the vehicle and inflicted 5 x KIA.
 Bail out! Bail out!
The BH technical advancing toward the government compound fared poorly.  It inflicted a couple of casualties with its DShK, but return fire destroyed the vehicle and killed the crew.  Four BH infantry troopers riding in the bed of the truck survived.
Nigerian Army forces under siege at the government compound celebrate the destruction of the Boko Haram technical that had attacked them.
Turn 2:
Initiative came out EOG-BH-NA

EOG continued to drive toward the OILCO headquarters, and made no contact with BH forces.
EOG operators drive toward cover before their final approach.
The BH T-55 fired a round at the government complex, hoping to neutralize resistance prior to their infantry's approach.  The round brought the building down, making all 6 NA soldiers there into casualties.
The Nigerian government complex explodes just as BH forces closes on the entrance at the outer wall.
Reverse angle shot of the BH advance into the Nigerian government compound, well covered by tank fire.

NA forces advanced, and the NA T-55 got a main gun round off at the BH T-55, immobilizing the latter.  The NA armored troopers' higher Troop Quality and the tank commander staying unbuttoned helped one crew beat another to the punch in identical vehicles.
The security guards at the OILCO HQ opt not to engage in the fighting, watching Nigerian Army artillery rounds fall harmlessly on the far side of the compound on the right.
Turn 3:
Initiative went EOG-BH-NA

The EOG operators moved up to the OILCO building's rear entrance and dismounted.
The security guards at OILCO HQ decided that this would be a good time to start engaging BH forces.  After a harmless exchange with one dismounted element, in which the security guards drew the Fog of War card "An Excellent Position" and added a defense die to their perch overlooking the battlefield, the BH T-55 got involved with its main gun and made them all casualties.
Irony can be so... ironic.
The Boko Haram T-55's view of the OILCO HQ.
Boko Haram troops move up to the blockaded entrance of the OILCO HQ building, preparing to hop the compound wall in the next turn.
The Nigerian Army, meanwhile, stayed on the march. The NA technical and pickup truck ferrying troops to the front disgorged their soldiers right at the back end of the government complex.  I ruled that the remnants of the back wall of the collapsed building provided a cover bonus for any unit being engaged by the other side, but that any unit crossing the waist- to shoulder-height pile of rubble separating forces would lose its cover bonus.
NA and BH forces square off across the remnants of the collapsed government center building.  BH forces took out the DShK on the NA technical and one NA soldier.  BH took four casualties.
The Nigerian T-55 fired another shot at the Boko Haram T-55, but only earned a Suppress result.
The NA soldiers who survived the destruction of their BTR-70 had by now moved forward into the fight and engaged the BH forces assembling outside the OILCO HQ compound, inflicting three casualties on BH and receiving none in return.
Turn 4:
Initiative went BH-EOG-NA
The BH T-55 took a shot at the NA T-55 and destroyed it.  Which is only fair, since the NA T-55 had already hit the BH T-55 twice, resulting in an immobilization and suppression, respectively.
Nigerian Army T-55 destroyed, with only the commander (and force commander) surviving.
View from the Boko Haram T-55's vantage point.
Meanwhile, back at the OILCO HQ, the BH troops had scaled the compound wall and engaged in a round of fire with the two EOG operators who had come in to retrieve the OILCO VIP.  Each side took a casualty.
A BH technical peels off three NA soldiers from the outside of the government complex with very effective DShK fire.
NA and BH forces inside the government compound exchange fire, inflicting casualties on both sides.
EOG's initiative comes up, and operators reinforce their comrades inside the building.  They inflict 3 casualties on the BH troopers in the courtyard.
The supporting EOG vehicles fight around the berm next to the OILCO HQ, inflicting casualties on the BH side, but the white EOG truck was immobilized (impacting VIP and operator escape options) and reducing the jeep's machine gun to half firepower.
Nigerian Army forces finally took initiative and advanced over the rubble and into the contested government compound.  Both the Nigerians and Boko Haram forces took a casualty.  The Nigerian Army received another BTR-70 on a lucky Fog of War card.
Turn 5:
Initiative went NA-EOG-BH
Due to a Fog of War card, the Nigerian Army received a DShK-equipped technical.  In the courtyard of the Nigerian governmetn center, another round of fire produced 2 NA and 5 BH casualties.
The fruits of EOG's labors.  The last BH troopers trying to capture the OILCO VIP are down.

EOG took initiative next, and killed the last BH trooper on the far side of the berm from the OILCO HQ, and killed the BH troops in the OILCO HQ courtyard.
The last outside resistance to EOG at the OILCO HQ gets wiped out.

Just as the EOG operators exited the OILCO building, the BH T-55 blew up the EOG truck.
Just as EOG operators were escaping, a Boko Haram tank takes out their pickup truck.  Luckily no one was inside by this point.
As the BH faction took the initiative, the last remaining BH technical fired at an NA technical, missing, and getting immobilized for its trouble.
Boko Haram technical initiates fire against a Nigerian Army technical and loses, getting immobilized.
Turn 6:
Initiative went NA-EOG-BH
The Nigerian Army kicked off the turn by destroying a BH technical.
EOG operators, meanwhile, evacuated the OILCO VIP from the regional HQ.
Go! Go! Go!
As a last deparate act, the BH forces rushed into the Nigerian government compound and took out the NA fire team inside in a brutal exchange of fire.  This gave Boko Haram control of the compound for victory point purposes, which would prove decisive.

We called the game here.  At the end of the game, we tallied the victory points at:
EOG: 20 (maximum)
BH: 48
NA: 47

In the end, it came down to a close game decided in the meatgrinder of the Nigerian government complex.

Lessons Learned:
- New house rule:  12" minimum range for RPGs and grenade launchers.  Reasoning seems obvious.
- The initiative house rules work well.  Each leader gets to roll a die at their quantity and Troop Quality level.  Most successes wins; if tied in successes, compare the numbers rolled.  Anyone except the lowest-rolling faction can put forces on overwatch.  Though not presented by the forces in this scenario, this makes Designated Rifle Marksmen and snipers that much more valuable for their ability to knock out the enemy's ability to gain the initiative.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Cross Border Incident

I ran a game (twice) at CSGA again, giving Andy and Steven the chance to play the Cross Border Incident scenario from the Classified:  Special Operations Missions 1940-2010 supplement for Force on Force.  The setting for this battle:

Eastern Syria, 26 October 2008
Syria's lengthy border with Iraq has long been a conduit for foreign jihadists entering Iraq to fight Coalition forces.  At the height of the insurgency, over one hundred jihadists were entering Iraq across the border every month.  Much of this activity was coordinated by an Iraqi-born al Qaeda facilitator known as Abu Ghadiya who had been working for the terrorist network since 2004.  Along with his brother and several cousins, Abu Ghadiya headed a small al Qaeda cell of Iraqi Sunnis and a team of Syrians who carried out much of the logistics work for the jihadists.  They maintained their headquarters and a safehouse for foreign fighters in the Syrian village of Sukkariya, five kilometers across the Iraqi border in eastern Syria.
Abu Ghadiya's cell had long been on the CIA and JSOC's High Value Target list and in October of 2008, a combination of electronic intercepts and overhead surveillance pinpointed their location in Sukkariya.  The capture/kill mission was handed to the special operators of the Joint Special Operations Task Force known at the time as Task Force 88.  Due to the time sensitivity of the target, a daylight raid was launched in the late afternoon of 26 October 2008 with four MH-60K special operations Blackhawks and two AH-6 Little Bird gunships entering Syrian airspace.

Historically, this proved to be a one-sided bloodletting, with reports of 8 al Qaeda members killed and possibly another 7 wounded.  Gameplay showed art imitating life in this instance.  Only 8 TF 88 operators start out on the ground (TQ d12/Morale d12) split into two 4-man fire teams, facing a total of 25 AQ members (TQ d8/Morale d10) broken up into four cells.  The TF 88 operators, however, have dedicated helicopter support from the Little Birds and the minigun-equipped door gunners on the MH-60s, as well as a sniper team on one of the MH-60s.

Turn 1:
TF 88 forces start out having just landed in an HLZ, moving toward a construction site where Abu Ghadiya and Cell 1 were located.
Abu Ghadiya and AQ Cell 1.  He's the fellow in the middle of the front row.  He has a suicide vest bomber next to him.
AQ Cell 2, located behind a building and away from the TF 88 LZ.
AQ Cells 3 (left) and 4 (right), with a building between them and the TF 8 LZ.
As turn 1 opened, the TF 88 player (Andy) used his helicopter support (minigun run) to attack Cell 4 (Steve's guys).  The attack only produced one casualty, and return fire from Cell 4 reduced the bird making the run to 1/2 firepower.  TF 88 Team B busted around the corner of a wall and inflicted two casualties on AQ Cell 1.
TF 88 Team B advances toward AQ Cell 1 and Abu Ghadiya.  High drama would ensue.
TF 88 Team A advances toward AQ Cells 3 and 4, using a building to cover their approach.
Turn 2:
TF 88 Team B continued its advance toward and fire upon AQ Cell 1, downing Abu Ghadiya and the rest of the cell, with the exception of the RPG gunner and suicide vest bomber.  The suicide vest bomber made a rapid move toward the TF 88 team and detonated his vest, killing one of the operators.
One of the TF 88 operators gets blown out of his shoes.
Though TF 88 Team B was having trouble, Team A kept the pressure on AQ forces, mounting the building between it  and AQ Cell 4.  TF 88 B wiped out AQ Cell 4 in a single round of fire, while a Little Bird exchanged fire with AQ Cell 3.  AQ Cell 3 suffered three casualties, but managed to make the Little Bird withdraw under heavy small arms fire.
TF 88 Team A wipes out AQ Cell 4 in a vicious round of fire.

Turn 3:
TF 88 Team A came off of the roof it had used for a firing position and advanced while firing, inflicting 3 casualties on AQ Cell 3.  Team B wiped out the rest of Cell 1.
TF 88 Team A continues its rampage.  Hard to tell from the photo, but there's a pile of bodies stacked up down the alley.
TF 88 Team B drives on to the Ranger objective.  CSAR was already en route to police up the body of their fallen comrade.
While TF 88 continued to mop up the rest of the map, AQ Cell 2 got a lucky shot off, forcing one of the Little Birds to land.  The TF 160 pilots were able to put her down pretty close to Team B's position.

Turn 4:
TF 88 Team A moved to secure AQ Cell Team 4's position, hoping to find Abu Ghadiya among the downed terrorists.  Team B moved toward the downed Little Bird as the CSAR bird touched down at the original LZ.  Helicopter support inflicted another AQ casualty while a Fog of War card produced an AQ technical pickup sporting a DShK machine gun at the far end of the board.
AQ receives some unexpected assistance - a technical with an HMG mounted.  Although it came on the map blazing, it missed its first target - the downed Little Bird.
Turn 5:
TF 88 Team A did not find Abu Ghadiya among the wounded and dead at AQ Cell 4's location, but picked up a handful of live prisoners after administering first aid. The newly arrived AQ technical exchanged fire with TF 88 Team B, winning initiative and making casualties out of the two US operators within LOS.  The CSAR team, however, came within LOS of the technical and dished out a punishing amount of small arms fire, destroying the vehicle and taking the lives of two of its three occupants.
The CSAR team proves its mettle by destroying the AQ technical.
US air support continued to earn its keep, reducing AQ Cell 2 to one lone RPK gunner.
One is the loneliest number... if you're an AQ terrorist facing Task Force Wrath of God.
Turn 6:
The first aid check showed that the two US casualties from the AQ technical fire were - surprisingly - light wounds.  TF 88 Team A rounded the corner from AQ Cell 4's position and wiped out the last members standing from Cell 3. 
TF 88 Team A turns the last of AQ Cell 3 into ground chuck.

Helicopter support killed the last member of AQ Cell 2 (previously the loneliest RPK gunner, now just dead), and we called the game at this point.  AQ had ceased to act as a fighting force, having been swept from the field by TF 88's superior ... everything.

Point Total:
US:  18 points for 18 x AQ KIA; 40 points for 8 x AQ captured; 10 points for capturing Abu Ghadiya
AQ:  5 points for 1 x US KIA; 10 points for forcing a US helo to land; 3 from a Fog of War card
Result = US decisive victory, 68 to 18

Because it took only a couple of hours to run the game, we re-set all elements and ran the scenario with the players having switched sides.  Here's iteration #2:

Turn 1
TF 88 disembarked as before, and Team B exchanged fire with an AQ cell, resulting in 1 US and 5 AQ casualties.  Team A inflicted a couple of casualties without loss, and helo support took out the RPG gunner in AQ Cell 4, while that cell's small arms fire proved ineffective.  A Fog of War card prevented any AQ movement.  In all, a pretty bad turn for AQ.

Turn 2
The first aid round revealed that the US casualty from the previous round was a serious wound.  As an exception to normal play, Team B left the wounded man for the CSAR crew to pick up, as they would land next round.  Team B rounded the corner and wiped out the rest of Cell 1, while helo support inflicted another AQ casualty.
One more round of merciless small arms fire.  TF 88 Team B pulps AQ Cell 1.
Turn 3
The CSAR bird arrived as the RPG gunner in Cell 4, who was stationed on a rooftop, took aim at the LZ.  The on-board sniper team, which had not yet been used, won the opposed initiative roll and shot the RPG gunner before he could get a rocket off.  TF 88 Team A then mounted the top of the building between Cell 4 and the LZ, and killed all but one of the remaining AQ Cell 4 members in short order.  3 members of AQ Cell 3 were delighted to find that they had LOS on Team A, and decided to engage.  They lost the opposed initiative roll and two out of three were gunned down for their trouble.
If this looks shockingly similar to what happened last round, that's because it is shockingly similar to what happened last round.  Same TF 88 team, same building, same dead AQ across the street.
Meanwhile, helo support inflicted 3 casualties on AQ Cell 2.  Another terrible round for AQ.

Turn 4
The AQ player was delighted to see two members of Cell 4 make their first aid check and return to combat.  Team B, meanwhile, had occupied Cell 1's footprint at the construction site where Abu Ghadiya was located.  The first aid check, conducted on the Advanced First Aid chart, resulted in Team B having 5 prisoners in varying states of health.  One of them was the suicide vest bomber with that squad.  The AQ player checked to see if he could muster the gumption to trigger his vest.  He didn't, but the D-Boys in the room shot him for thinking about it.  Team B now had 4 prisoners in varying states of health. 
The last man in AQ Cell 2 felt lucky and took a shot at the CSAR bird that was still on the ground.  Things didn't go his way.
As the round progressed, several things happened at once.  The three remaining members of Cell 2 exchanged fire with Team B and were killed for their trouble.  The RPG gunner in that cell took a crack at the CSAR bird, which was loading up the CSAR team and US casualty, getting a Ping! result on the damage table.  He was soon shot as well.  AQ Cell 4 won initiative against the US helo support and shot the bird as well, getting another Ping! result.  Cell 4 was then wiped out by gunship support.  Cell 3 moved to a vantage point where it could get a shot, got another Ping! result, and was promptly mowed down by the mini-gun-equipped door gunner.

This last brutal round of fire had wiped AQ from the map, but left us scratching our heads - three hits on the bird, one with an RPG, and no damage.  More on that later.

We tallied the results for the second round. Point Total:
US:  21 points for 21 x AQ KIA; 15 points for 3 x AQ captured; 10 points for capturing Abu Ghadiya; 5 for boarding the evac helos by game's end
AQ:  3 points for 1 x US Serious WIA
Result = US decisive victory, 51 to 3

Both iterations  gave the same result - AQ got curb-stomped by a superior force.  Don't expect to play AQ in this scenario and think that this is anywhere near an even match.  Andy, Steve and I discussed this - it seemed pretty accurate to us, as we're sure that direct action task forces don't look for ways to give their targets a sporting chance.  Still a fun time.

Post-Game Thoughts: 
- Helicopters on the ground should use the ground vehicle damage table.  The helo damage table assumes that the bird is in flight, with results of Jink! and Ping!  Will definitely put this in the house rules.
- We made one small modification to the scenario:  because we were playing on a 4' x 4' map instead of 2' x 2', game duration was extended to 8 turns instead of 6.  Recommend you do this if playing on the larger map.
- AQ forces should get victory points in this scenario just for driving off a US helicopter with ground fire.  They already get 15 for a destroyed chopper, 10 for a forced landing; they should get 5 for damage to a helicopter or forcing the bird to depart the scene.
- It's pretty hard to overstate the impact that TQ d12 troops have on the battlefield.  Just about every exchange of fire they had proved devastating to the enemy, and the Advanced First Aid table makes them durable in the face of superior numbers.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Medal of Honor, Iraq, 4 April 2003

Had a good game with CSGA again, running a scenario from the Road to Baghdad book.  The background:

Scenario 13:  Medal of Honor
Near the Baghdad International Airport, April 4 2003
Lead elements of the US 3rd Infantry Division have taken Baghdad International Airport, and have established blocking positions on the main highway linking it with the Iraqi capital.  2nd Platoon, B Company, 11th Engineers have been tasked with creating a holding area for the large number of detainees expected in the next few days.  A suitable location has been found, and preparations are under way when a large enemy force is spotted attempting to outflank the American position.  Calling for reinforcements, the Engineers prepare to make a stand.

In real life, SFC Paul R. Smith gave his life in heroic fashion, manning a machine gun atop an M113 armored personnel carrier until felled by enemy fire.  To replicate the dire situation that SFC Smith and his men faced, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle (BFV) loses a die of firepower for every 1 rolled when it fired, and it has to retreat when out of ammo or damaged.  Three large insurgent cells attacked the US forces from prepared positions, and the game went until the Americans were defeated, insurgents pushed South across the board, or the insurgents suffered 100 casualties.  Insurgents receive reinforcements on a roll of 4 or less  on 1d6.  The Americans had only the BFV, 2 x M113, two understrength fire teams, and the company first sergeant and a medic to hold back the horde.  The initial setup:
SFC Smith is with Fire Team A.  A courtyard of insurgents against the few Americans in contact.

View from the enemy side of the courtyard.

Turn 1:  The initial exchange of fire proved brutal to the exposed Americans.  Fire Team A took a number of casualties, SFC Smith among them (a serious wound).  The first sergeant and medic rush to the aid of the beleaguered fire team while the BFV laid down some fire and inflicted a few casualties.

Turn 2:  Both sides take casualties from small arms fire exchanged, and an RPG bounces off of the BFV's armor.  Fog of War cards give the insurgents a technical and keep US forces stationary for the turn.
Another Fog of War card gives the Americans an M1 Abrams tank as reinforcement.  Next to the tank is a fire team of reinforcements triggered by the first US casualties.
Turn 3:  As the M113s, M1, and dismounted US forces move to reinforce the BFV, they find Fire Team A and most of Fire Team B dead or seriously wounded.  Unlucky rolls continue to hamper insurgent success with RPG fire, but the BFV has been reduced from 5 to 2 dice in its main gun.  The US vehicular reinforcements start to inflict serious casualties on the insurgents.
Turn 4:  US forces continue to whittle down the insurgents.  The lead M113 gunner is shot out of the turret, killed instantly.  The BFV blew up the insurgent technical.
Turn 5:  The BFV, having run out of ammunition, pulls out and leaves the infantry exposed.  Luckily, two Fog of War cards gave both remaining fire teams Excellent Position - an additional die of cover.
Turn 6-7:  The overwhelming firepower of the vehicles and the outstanding positions that the US forces found wore down the insurgents.  The Americans were eventually able to load casualties into the M113s.
Turn 7 or 8:  An insurgent RPG gunner took a shot at the M1 from the roof of this building, and insurgent Hot Spot.  The M1 responded 120mm HE tough love, dropping the building.

Though not noted in the truncated play-by-play for this game, the overwhelming firepower from the US vehicles had wiped out all insurgent RPG gunners and inflicted horrific casualties on the insurgent force as a whole.  When we finally called the game - the insurgents didn't have anything that could hurt the vehicles - the Victory Point tally ran to 55 points for the Americans, 12 for the insurgents.

The Fog of War-spawned tank completely changed the course of the game.  I wouldn't expect a replay to come out the same way.