Sunday, 31 August 2014

The Kray brothers and the Golden Holden

Lieutenant Ronnie Cray peered through his binoculars, and swore. "Them f@#&ing Hotakis looks like they's gunner make a stand." At his side, his twin brother and CO, Major Reggie Kray, spat into the sand; "There's an SAS lieutenant and a bl%*ing big tank behind us. We'll get them to kick the b@stards up the jacksie, and while the glory boys are winnin' the medals, we'll get the gold. Get Mad Frankie and the boys up 'ere, ready for when the road is clear. We'll send the SAS round the right flank, and get the tank to clear the compound in front of us."

A WMIK burns...

The surviving WMIK (and a Snatch) take cover
A simple plan, but no plan survives contact with the enemy intact. Things rapidly went 'pear-shaped' - the SAS WMIK's shot up Hotaki positions on the hill, causing some casualties, and a number to run away. In return, however, they were targetted by numerous RPG's as they crossed the open ground. Despite popping smoke, and hugging the undulations, two WMIK's were hit and exploded. The third took cover behind the compound wall, and chose discretion - particularly when a Shilka was spotted lurking in the village.

Hotaki paratroopers destroy the Abrams
 The Abrams and its supporting infantry bulldozed their way into the compound, and quickly took care of opposition; some Hotakis attempted to run, but were shot down. Flushed with success, the tank eased its way past the building, only to be shot in flank by an RPG from an Hotaki paratrooper team, which had advanced to the wall at the edge of the compound. To the surprise of all, the Abrams exploded catastrophically !
At this point, the UN attack faltered, and the Hotaki Major sensed an opportunity to run off with the loot. Throwing a BMP forward to give covering fire, he used his technicals to screen the Golden Holden as he and his men escaped.

The Golden Holden escapes, screened by technicals and a BMP

Observations -
First up, even if you have good troops, light vehicles in open terrain are still soft targets, and burn well. Aggressive action is good, but you also need to use cover to get into position, and preferably set up overwatch.
Secondly, this was probably the most explosive game ever - almost every single vehicle hit exploded catastrophically... The Abrams being a case in point - the RPG was a thermobaric warhead and rolled three hits, but the tank's owner rolled five fails (on D12); the effect was a 12 on a D12...
Thirdly, although not mentioned above, there was a T-55 hidden on the hill, trying not to be seen by the Abrams... So, when the latter exploded, the commander felt brave enough to emerge and threaten the UN forces. It should have realised that no T-55 has ever survived one of our games, and this one was true to form; one of the Cray's men shot it with an RPG, and it exploded spectacularly.
Fourthly , it had been a while since the last game, so I had to keep looking up rules, which slowed everything down. I usually used Kevin as the 'font of all knowledge' (well, him and his well-marked rulebook), but he was a couple of thousand kms away...
Lastly, several mistooks were made by me, the key one of which changed the scenario - I started Hotaki force 2 on table, with the Golden Holden in the village on the road. This made it a lot easier for them to make it off table in time.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Mission Briefing - Cake Walk/Milk Run

The plan: The UN force will steam-roller a motley collection of routed rabble and capture the small airstrip between the half-built presidential palace and the Ma'tafil dam.

The UN SOFORCE will advance along the southern route to the main airfield to the west, the first step of this long sweep will be the taking of the Ma'tafil airstrip, power plant and dam.  To the north NOFORCE and the Russians will attempt to advance through the city of Hotakimadina and take the shorter northern route to the airfield.  The Russians are not under UN command.  A light paratrooper force followed by an airlanding force will assault, take and hold the main airfield until relieved by NOFORCE and/or SOFORCE.  Good poor bastards.

The mission is designed for 4-players and contains a hidden agenda on each side.

The route of Soforce and Noforce around the Kabir Massif - Target - The main airfield soon to be renamed UN Base Heidi Clare.

The first step in SOFORCE'S advance: The Ma'tafil industrial park, airstrip and dam.

The UN Vanguard, SAS in WMIKS leading an Australian force of Abrams and MRAP Infantry, along with the first of the British Warriors.

The Mission Map

I forgot to add that all units of Hotakistani Player 2 (Technicals, Golden Holden and BMP-1) enter on turn 1 within 6" of A on the map.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

All Roads Lead To [the outskirts of] Basra

(Yes, I know in the photos it looks suspiciously like an M1 and a Bradley, but let’s pretend it’s an Challenger II and a Warrior IFV, since at the last hour I realised I currently don’t have a container for transporting my own miniatures to the battlefield - Mike and Steve)

:::: 21:03:2003 ::: 5:50hrs ::::  Somewhere on the outskirts of Basra, Southern Iraq
Orders: Sweep and clear a group of buildings of any possible Iraqi units in the vicinity. Aerial Recon has identified two target buildings which have been neutralised and there are no further signs of activity in the area. Units are to detach from main column headed for Basra and rejoin after the sweep. If engaged, Lethal Force is authorised.
  • 1  FV4043 Challenger II
  • 1  FV510 Warrior and Infantry Section

At 5:52hrs, 200m from target location the Challenger came under attack from a T-72 in a camouflaged hull down position on the western side of the road, while a BMP-1 fired from the east. Both failed to cause anything but paint damage and the Challenger returned fire.  Due to the British tank commander being a novice, he managed to load and fire the wrong munitions because he wasn’t paying enough attention to his FoF manual. This meant the Challenger failed to inflict any damage on the T-72.  Regardless of the use of sub-standard munitions the BMP-1 did not fare so well and erupted in an instant fireball.

As there was no cover available and with the BMP down, the Challenger moved forward to flank the T-72 and provide shielding so the Warrior could move forward into cover and deploy its troops.

The T-72 and Challenger traded another volley of fire to, but to no avail.  As the Brits neared the bombed out building to the east of the road, Iraqi infantry appeared in the nearby buildings and let loose with RPG's on both the Challenger and Warrior, all were shrugged off.

It was at this point that a second T-72 appeared further down the road and brought its gun to bear on the Challenger.  It was at this moment that the Brit commander discovered his error with munitions and loaded the correct rounds. The Challenger crew were quicker to act than the Iraqi T-72 crew and the T-72 erupted in a ball of flame and twisted metal.  Two of its crew managed to scramble from the wreckage and escaped on foot in the direction of Basra.

While this was happening the 30mm on the Warrior started to hammer the building where the RPG's had come from.  If there was anyone in there they were now far too busy keeping their heads down.

The 125mm from the first T-72 sounded again, this time finding its mark, the Warrior. Thankfully damage was minimal with the 30mm gun taking just enough damage to make it ineffective.

Again the Challenger and T-72 traded blows, with the Challenger failing to score a hit but this time the T-72 had an amazing stroke of luck, the kind of luck you need to roll 4 dice and they all come up sixes. This was enough to cripple the Challenger.

With the Challenger now crippled and the Warriors gun all but useless, the Warrior reversed next to the tank and prepared to evac its crew. The ground assault was effectively stopped in its tracks (see what I did there) [Editor: Sadly] and now it was time for the Apache's, that were 20 seconds out, to finish the job.

Primary lessons learned from this action,

  • Know your equipment inside out      
  • Don't expose anything but it's toughest side if you can avoid it