Sunday, 19 October 2014

AAR- A Log...Fog in the Eye

Or, Playing Miniature Wargames over the web.

As a proof of concept we tried some long distance remote miniature gaming today.  It was a quick proof of concept and I think better than we could have hoped for.  Well, nightmarishly better.

Player Location 1 was 3,600km from Player Location 2.  The board was setup at Location 1 with a remote controllable webcam and player 2 got to swivel the camera and give orders.  The camera was always situated behind the leader unit and could only see what he could see (a little higher thank the gods!).  It was really like having a log stuck in your eye, suddenly your miniature gamers "god's eye" view had a huge log jammed in it by the devil (player 1).  Decisions of what to do are so much more difficult with lack of awareness and it feels as if every tree, wall or house is hiding something nasty.

We used Skype to communicate, and used the Share Screen option in Skype so Player 1 could see the EXCEL spreadsheet dice rolls of player 2 (makes it easier to compare) and also see what Player 2 can see through the webcam.

The interface as seen on the web browser.  The camera has a remote control swivel control
The After Action Report
Corporal Petersen was leading his section through a mostly deserted village on the far flank of the UN advance.  Over the radio he could hear chatter that the main column had been ambushed and he could hear distant exchanges of fire.  But, with the arrival of UN air support the insurgents began to melt away from the UN spearhead.  Corporal Petersen soon got a radio message from his platoon commander, a group of insurgents were heading straight for his position.
The world from an ants point of view - this is all you can see, and can swivel left and right.
Corporal Petersen shouted over to L/Cpl O'Donnel, "Donnyboy, get that GIMP up on a roof and see what you can see.  Watch out for civilians."

With that the Corporal ordered Private Bowles to kick in the door behind him.   The door gave away easily and the stack surged into the room, it was empty.  They moved up onto the roof for a better view of their surrounds.
With fireteam Charlie on the roof the better view is a breathe of fresh air.
Fireteam Delta climbed through the broken compound wall and advanced towards the doorways of the house.  The feeling of a hundred eyes following them across the empty courtyard could not be  shrugged off.
Fireteam Delta advancing across the compound courtyard
And now for something completely different - Cpl Petersen double takes thinking he saw a big hand come down from the sky, a swig from his camel pack clears his vision - at least it was not a big foot
The town seemed empty.  While Corporal Petersen and his men scanned the buildings for movement Private Cakubau in Fireteam Delta attempted to kick in the door in the compound, but all he got for his efforts was to fall backwards onto his arse to the nervous amusement of his team mates.
Fireteam Charlie scanning the houses on the left flank
Private Cakubau bouncing off the door
While Private Cakubau examined his trousers, "Gods, I think I am lying in human shit," the burly Private Lovett kicked the door in with a deafening crash.  The team surged into the room followed by the complaining Cakubau.  The team moved up onto the roof and setup the GPMG.
Both teams on the roofs
Now both teams had good eyes on each flank, but they had limited mutual support opportunities.

"I see movement," said the Charlie team SAW gunner, Private McLane.  Petersen grunted that McLane always saw something, then thought  how he had just hallucinated about the big hand in the sky.  He matched his scope on the doorway across the street that McLane was aiming at.  A figure moved furtively out into the street before motioning to men behind him to follow.

"Fucking Woz's," said the Corporal, the men were obviously armed with AKs and RPGs, they were definitely Woz insurgents [Successful Check on Intent].
A Woz insurgent leader appears in the doorway across the street
Corporal Petersen shouted into his radio for the L/Cpl to get eyes on.  Then he opened fire.  The fireteam poured in fire, some of the insurgents fell or scattered, but a few stood their ground and returned very heavy fire.  The fireteam ducked below the parapet, Corporal Perkins rolled to the ground, "Shite, shite, I've been hit in me face."

Corporal Petersen rolled him over, "It is just a graze, you pussy."

Private Bowles looked over and laughed, "Fuck Herky, I did not think you could get any uglier, but you just did!"

Perkins replied with an appropriate Queen's English reply, though his wave did not look at all like the Queen's.  But then he perked up and grinned through the blood, "I put a bigger fookin' hole in that Woz bastard's head" patting his L129 affectionately.

The Corporal ordered his men to get eyes on and give covering fire for Delta team as Delta moved up.
Fireteam Delta moves to bring fire to bear
Fireteam Delta moved into the other compound building, kicking in the door and rushing to the windows.  In the street in front of them they could see one insurgent being dragged to cover by his mate, and several others firing at Charlie.  The GPMG (only +1), the SAW and the UGL all fired, the insurgents turned to face the new threat.Charlie in its overwatch position poured in fire.  The insurgents all fell in the crossfire.

Lance-Corporal O'Donnel reported, "At least a dozen bodies, and one managed to crawl back through the doorway."

The UGL gunner on the roof fired one grenade into the doorway for good measure and then the teams fell back to their platoons position to the south.
I finally get a Gods Eye view

As a proof of concept I give three thumbs up.  The lack of awareness is truly scary, every house was a threat.  I think this is a great way of playing, and would consider adding this in even if the players were not 3,600km apart.  It adds a very nice dimension to the game.

In the future we will also look to have the remote player being a JTAC offboard giving support fire to a larger battle.  But, commanding units from the ground view is heaps of fun (in a masochistic sort of way).  Thank you Marcus for setting this up.  100% Proof of Concept.  Highly recommended as a way of playing, even with FtF players.

I used an EXCEL sheet to do the dicing, but will get myself a camera now, and use real dice.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

7th Cavalry to the Rescue... or not.

Haz bin Wanabi, leader of the Hotaki Woz militia, smiled grimly. The devil worshippers were trapped; they had fled with their families to the local mosque, in the vain hope that his men would not dare to attack it. They had failed to realise that their very presence had defiled the building, and only their extermination would suffice. He had to work quickly - the UN dogs were approaching, in an attempt at rescue.

The village from the north - mosque in centre
Swiftly, he deployed his band - a team was sent to each road to lay IED's, and set up checkpoints to cover them, in order to delay the British. The rest took up positions on three sides of the mosque and grape dryer, where they could spray the buildings with automatic fire and RPG's. The fourth side (to the west) was covered by fire - anyone trying to run would be cut down long before they made it to cover. Wanabi called up his mortar team to start the attack; rounds fell around the mosque, and the rest of his men loosed their weapons at close range. Some fire was returned from the mosque, but he could sense that his men were getting the better of the encounter.

The Predator lines up on the building
Meanwhile, the British columns were drawing near; a supporting Predator spotted movement in a house on the southern road, and targetted a Hellfire missile on it, failing to demolish the building, but killing a militiaman. However, the target had also been identified by the lead Warrior, which pumped 30mm shells into the building until it resembled a Swiss cheese, causing another casualty. A surviving militiaman launched an RPG at the Warrior, but it bounced harmlessly off the front armour.

A second Warrior approached over the boggy ground, and shot at the house on the south side of the northern road, to no apparent effect. On the road, the third Warrior fired on the same target, killing one Hotaki; an RPG also struck the vehicle, and ricocheted off. The crew of the Warrior then spotted what they believed was an IED just ahead on the road, and used the gun to destroy it, while the infantry dismounted, taking cover behind the trees. The fireteams also debussed from the Warrior in the open, and, together with the IFV, concentrated their fire on the building held by the Hotakis. Despite all the attention, only one militiaman was killed; in return, an RPG impacted the main gun of the Warrior on the road, disabling it.

A Predator's eye view from the east - IED's on roads
The village from the south - mosque in upper left
On the southern road, the militia were putting up a fight, but getting the worst of it; an RPG knocked out the Warrior's gun, but the dismounted infantry and the WMIK's machine guns silenced all opposition. Apart from possible IEDs on the road ahead, the way to the village was clear.

However, it was too late... while the fighting had been taking place on the roads, Wanabi's men had killed or disabled all the Mithraists in the grape shed by fire, and had stormed into the mosque. Attempts to surrender were ignored, and the bloodletting began. By the time the British reached the mosque, it was all over; there were no survivors, and the Hotakis had fled...

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Mission Briefing: The Rescue

The UN was a tad optimistic with their estimation of how rapid their advance would be.  They heralded the liberation of the Mithraist's in Ghani Bayt on the news channels of the world.  Unfortunately, they became bogged down in their advance.  Unfortunately, the Mithraists swarmed into the streets celebrating their liberation.  Unfortunately, the Woz Insurgents were in the vicinity.

So, the UN has thrown together a British flying column with orders to rescue two dozen Mithra men trapped in the Mosque and communal Grape Drying building in Ghani Bayt.  The Woz insurgents are intent on exterminating the last of this long diminished sect in Hotakistan.

The UN know that the Hotaki Woz are 2-3 dozen, and are likely to have IEDs.  The Woz have intelligence that are Mechanized Infantry platoon is approaching the town.

Map Overview
The mission has a "blind" aspect to it, with regards to forces and objectives.  So each side should not look at the map of the other side.