Monday, July 18, 2016

Battles of the Week, 17 July 2016

Before I get to the week's battles, I owe a pitch to the game I played this weekend, a modern action involving some mercenaries trying to kidnap an African colonel to facilitate the rescue of western executives held hostage by a despotic regime.

Read the whole thing.

In a related vein, Band of Wargame Brothers has a modern African campaign playing out here:  Part 1 (setting) and Part 2 (gameplay), using a combination of the Force on Force rules that I enjoy so much in combination with other modern rules.  Big board, very cool.

Preacher by Day has a Pulp Alley game posted, a unique diplomatic/social contest.

Hook Island has some Hail Caesar! posted, with Greeks versus Persians in a battle from antiquity.

Campaigns in Miniature has a report on a Flames of War tournament.

Kaptain Kobold has some Saga action with Anglo-Danes, Welsh, and Normans squaring off.

Into the Maelstrom has some Napoleonics posted, pretty cool pics.  And some Warhammer 30k posted, too.

Until next week, happy wargaming!

The Zamunda Gambit, Chapter 1: Kidnap Colonel Masondo

My latest campaign, first chapter here, follows a group of Private Military Contractors (PMCs) on a mission in the fictional African country of Zamunda.  Yes, that Zamunda.  The OILCO Corporation, one of several firms owned by Mortimer and Randolph Duke, has had its assets and facilities in Zamunda seized when King Akeem was recently assassinated and replaced by his longtime friend and adviser, Finance Minister Semmi.  A number of senior OILCO executives were taken hostage, and the wily OILCO leadership hopes to rescue them with the assistance of a kidnapped senior official, much as was done in the Gran Sasso Raid or Operation Entebbe.

OILCO hired mercenary firm Extremis Operations Group (EOG) operatives based on their past success in rescuing an endangered executive in Nigeria as the Nigerian Army and Boko Haram were waging war.  The plan was to ambush a convoy escorting Colonel Felix Masondo on a journey in the lightly-forested grasslands to the West of the capitol.  Unfortunately, the EOG team didn't have time to set in an IED or Claymore Mine to knock out the first vehicle.  They would have to use small arms and the one operative who had an M203 grenade launcher might also be able to do it single-handedly.

I played this scenario with the Savage Worlds Showdown tabletop miniature rules, on terrain strongly resembling that of the fantasy scenario I played last weekend, where forest rebels sought to kidnap the King's taxman cousin, only to see the kidnapping target felled by a stray arrow.  Can I escape this trap of trying to kidnap someone, only to end up shooting them in the face?  We'll see...

Off to the ambush!  Below, Colonel Masondo's convoy trundles slowly on the rutted, uneven terrain of a soggy dirt road.

Perspective from an angle - EOG operatives lie in wait in the copses of trees.

Here they hit the kill zone.  It's about to go down.

Before we start the ambush, here's each vehicle with the troops inside in a row to show who's in the fight.

Lead truck:  6 Zamundan Army soldiers.

Middle SUV:  Colonel Masondo and three western security contractors with the same level of training and equipment as the EOG operators.

Trail truck:  6 more Zamundan soldiers.

The EOG operators.  Six trained and battle-hardened special operations veterans hoping to wipe out the escorts and make off with Colonel Masondo without any casualties of their own.  All they have to do is make a good shot with the first M203-launched grenade.

Oh no!  They roll a 2 and shank the initiation of the ambush!

A ridiculous miss this was, hooking far left of the target.

The lead truck, however, didn't escape harm at all.  Small arms fire from three EOG operators killed 5 of 6 vehicle occupants and left the other shaken (two leftmost minis represent soldiers in the cab of the truck, the four to the right are in the bed).

The trail truck fared much better, with only half of the occupants hit by small arms fire.

The dead and wounded drivers, along with small arms fire that take out one of the SUV's front wheels, force all three vehicles to the side of the road and able-bodied occupants quickly dismount to seek cover elsewhere.  The three Zamundan soldiers at the trail truck are shaken from the casualties their unit sustained.

The EOG operators at the M203 position see the security contractors dismount from the driver's side of the vehicle and take them out with accurate fire.

On the passenger side of the vehicle, the lone western contractor guarding Colonel Masondo does what he's trained to do.  He lays down suppressive fire on the ambushers that he can see and moves the principle to cover.

Medium blast template covers the EOG operators targeted.  I was underwhelmed by the effects of suppressive fire in this instance.  Not sure if these rules get it right.

Masondo's only surviving western PMC guard then turns his attention to the flank EOG position as one of the Zamundan soldiers is picked off.

Meanwhile, the EOG operators from the M203 position at the front of the convoy race from cover and open fire on the two unharmed Zamundan soldiers from the rear.

The Zamundans go down, leaving only the western security contractor to get Colonel Masondo out of this mess.  The two EOG operators at the flank position take aimed shots, and with their optics, on a d10, only a 2 will miss, and only a 1 will mean hitting Colonel Masondo instead of the last remaining security contractor.

Two ones!  Colonel Masondo goes down hard!

Masondo takes a dirt nap...

Return fire from the remaining contractor leaves one of the EOG operators shaken (orange token).

As if on cue, the driver of the trail vehicle comes out of his shaken status, exits the vehicle, and opens fire on the flanking EOG position.

A lucky shot!  The other EOG operator is killed!

Of course, the two EOG operators outflanking the last security guard are still approaching...

...until that last security guard wins initiative and smokes them both!

As this is going on, the surviving EOG operator at the flank position drops the driver who had killed his EOG comrade in arms.  The EOG operator then fires at the last opposing soldier, only to have it bounce off of the contractor's ballistic plate carrier.

As the surviving western security guard turns to fire on the EOG flanking position, the other two surviving EOG operators flank him...

... and shoot him down!

Post-battle casualties with red tokens...
...I see dead people.

1.  Well, this went exactly how I didn't want it to happen.  The same way last week's game went, where a planned kidnapping resulted in the death of the kidnapping target.  Not sure how I break this curse, but the dice have been harsh on VIPs lately.

2.  I'm still working out the kinks on the Showdown initiative system, which is card-based.  It definitely gives an order to who moves, first to last, but it's randomized unless you pay for a unit/character trait that permits drawing two cards and picking the best one, or getting a re-draw if below a certain level.  It certainly creates a feeling of a fog of war, but I don't think it takes into account the effects of leadership and decision cycle advantages that make aggressive leaders, fighters, and units successful.  More to follow as I continue to develop my own rules that take this into account.

3.  I screwed up the armor protection in this game.  I used the modern light armor instead of the heavy armor, which does have the ability to stop 5.56mm and 7.62mm rounds.  I should have priced out that body armor for equipped minis, and rolled to see if it stopped covered hits (percentage of body protected).  Instead, I had the effect of pistol body armor in a rifle-equipped battlefield.  Having said that, the Showdown system seems to be a pretty solid universal skirmish system, which is quite extraordinary.

4.  Well, this was a hell of a start to a campaign.  I'll take a hard look at OILCO options for follow-on operations after this initial failure.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Battles of the Week, 10 July 2016

Another week, another batrep roundup.

But first, you should check out my latest fantasy skirmish game in the Campaign for the Darkened Wood, played with the Savage Worlds Showdown rules, where the king's men take his tax collecting cousin for a stroll in the woods, only to be ambushed by Robb and his rebel archers.

And here's what everyone else was up to this week:

Speaking of fantasy battles, Bob has some Dragon Rampant posted.

Big FoF has a violent what-if Brexit scenario, with Muslim and Christian militias tangling with each other and the army.

Sound Officer's Call plays some Napoleonics with Blucher, and Joy and Forgetfulness has a Napoleonic game set in Spain.

Campaigns in Miniature re-fights the Battle of Dettingen,

Wargaming with Barks gives a write up of the Bloodbowl event the Eucalyptus Bowl this week, and posts another of his wonderful comic book-formatted Star Wars games.

Kaptain Kobold gives us some superhero action with Clobberin' Time, where Captain UK and Captain America take on some villains.  Sadly, my main man falls prey to those villains' villainous ways.  The good Kaptain also gives us some Chain of Command.

Baron Von J has his own superhero game up, with the Liberty Legion squaring off against evil Axis villains.

Sparkers Wargames provides some magnificent, grand scale Gettysburg Day 2 that's just a feast for the eyes.

Big Lee posted a Carthaginian cavalry clash, played with the next generation of wargamer.

Here's a Chain of Command game, the Korsun Pocket, from three different write-ups... Sediment's, Counterpane's, and Renegade of the Atomic Age's.

Into the Maelstrom has some WH40k posted, played on a pretty spiffy game board.  And a really neat Rorke's Drift-style LoTR game.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

A Stroll in the Woods/Kidnap the Tax Man

Played another game in the Campaign for the Darkened Wood, this one between two human factions - the royal troops of King Richard and the rebels led by former military officer, now insurgent leader, Robb.  Robb and his men take refuge in the darkened wood, but periodically venture out from their home base and haven to attack King Richard's men and symbols of power.

Today is such a day.  King Richard's younger brother, a dilettante by the name of Lionel, serves as tax collector for much of Richard's kingdom.  He is making the rounds in the outer regions of the kingdom, and his horses (by Robb's design) have taken sick.  He must make the next leg of his circuit on foot through a lightly wooded area near the Darkened Wood.

Robb plans to be there.  With the successful kidnapping, and subsequent ransom, of Lionel, he can secure funds to continue his revolution and the abolition of Richard's wicked reign.

The scenario I set out dictated the following - Lionel moves at 6" per turn, does not fight, and if he is put out of the fight by wounds, Robb and his men lose the chance to kidnap him for ransom.  This campaign is currently being played with Savage Worlds Showdown.

Here's the start of this "walk in the woods" from the rear of the Royal column:
Here's an aerial view with some perspective:
The leader of Lionel's bodyguard, Captain Trent, has express orders to keep Lionel safe in his journeys through the hinterlands.  Here's Trent, Lionel, and a few of the troops:
And here's Robb, the Dwarven mercenary Erik the Berserker, and a few of his rebels, outfitted with bows and short swords or axes.
And, on to the game...
Lionel and his escort are making good time through some fields broken up by copses of trees.
Treachery!  Robb and his dastardly rebels spring their trap.
More treachery!  As the rebels rise from hiding places in the woods, Captain Trent and his men go on alert and face their shields toward likely arrow fire... which is every direction.  They are surrounded.  In the opening seconds of the ambush,
As the first turn wraps up, the rear of the column shows a number of troops in the rear Shaken, and some in the front as well as the advance guard run forward and assault a nearby group of rebels.
The state of affairs after the first turn in the center of the column.  Lionel (blonde hair) is surrounded by troops.  Two royal archers have fallen to rebel arrows.
Disaster!  A rebel arrow (they weren't supposed to fire at Lionel's inner circle of bodyguards, but they ran out of other targets) finds its mark and makes a catastrophic hit on Lionel.  He falls to the ground dead and Captain Trent picks up his corpse to carry it out of the ambush.
The advance guard assault laid low two rebel archers and sent two more fleeing.
The rear guard has lost a couple of troops, and two more are Shaken.  Erik the Berserker charged from his hiding place, but failed to reach the enemy troops on account of his short, stumpy legs.
Disposition by the end of Turn 2.  Lots of yellow Shaken markers out there.  The king's men hit a lucky break when they drew a joker and were able to lift the shaken tokens from one of their units, putting two archers back into action.  They immediately fired at some rebel archers in nearby woods who had to spend a bennie to avoid breaking.
The rebel archers that fled the hand-to-hand combat at the front of the column use a great initiative card to flee the field.  Cowards.
Erik the Berserker has finally made it into combat with the king's men, only to miss horribly when swinging his war hammer.
One more turn done.  Captain Trent's main body is making slow progress as he carries the corpse of Lionel (only 3" movement per turn) and rebel arrows continue to take their toll.
The royal advance guard has broken one rebel unit, and charges to engage another.  The orange token under the royal archer notes that the mini has failed a morale check and is fleeing the field, running forward to leave the battle.
Royal forces continue the long slog forward, with Captain Trent carrying Lionel's body.
Close-up of Captain Trent carrying Lionel's body.  Fallen royal troops litter the other side of the road.
Erik the Berserker locked in combat with royal troops, with rebel archers lurking in the woods at the rear guard's position.
One of Robb's arrows finally hits home, wounding Captain Trent (red marker underneath mini).  Trent continues to slog on and keep his shield toward the sources of the arrows.
The royal archer that was leaving the field rallies and fires a very accurate arrow of his own at Robb, wounding the insurgent leader.
The royal advance guard rallies to Captain Trent to form a shield wall and protect their leader as they back off of the field.
Captain Trent continues to carry out Lionel's body.  Rebel arrows have piled up three wounds on him (out of a possible four).
The royal state of affairs at the end of the game.  Robb will succeed in carrying off Lionel's body, but the bodyguard retinue has been destroyed.
The view from the rebel firing line.  They have abandoned their hiding places to rain arrows on the royal troops, though few succeed in wounding the better equipped royal soldiers.

At this point, I called it a game.  Captain Trent would live to fight another day, and he and Robb were sure to meet again on the field of battle.