Monday, July 18, 2016

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.

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