Wednesday, 1 January 2014

The Valley of Fog (AAR)

“War is an area of uncertainty; three quarters of the things on which all action in War is based are lying in a fog of uncertainty to a greater or lesser extent.” - Carl von Clausewitz

Mission Briefing here:

In dawn’s early light the Australian’s advanced north into the valley.  They scanned the compounds, grape drying buildings and treelines for Hotakistanis, but to no avail.  All was silent.
The Australian armour and infantry advance (we substituted Challengers for the Abrams and a US infantry platoon for the Australians)
The Australian armour and accompanying infantry advanced to the compounds on the valley floor.  The Australian platoon commander entered the ancient ruined fortification to obtain a better view into the valley.  The Australian forward observer failed to materialize and the Australian 155mm artillery remained silent for the whole day.  A lone hidden Hotakistani forward observer lay hidden on a compound roof watching the Australian advance.  His request for an emergency barrage on the Australians fell on deaf ears.

(Turn 2 Reveal: Bombardment)
No one is sure who fired the bombardment, but heavy shells began to land across the valley.  The Australian platoon commander went down in a blast of rubble and shrapnel.
The unexpected bombardment lands, throwing up dust and downing the Australian platoon HQ.
(we forgot to implement the LOS reduction in Turn 2).  The Hotakistani FO directed an artillery strike on the left most Australian infantry unit, and seven rockets landed close to the Australians, causing many casualties and pinning the advance.
Two Australian units down after the first Hotakistani barrage, at least 80-90% of the Hotakistani VP would come from the artillery.  The Australian's never getting to use their artillery in return.
(this game witnessed the most swaps of initiative in any game we have played, I think there was only one round where a side held onto initiative, and the Hotakistanis seemed to get it each time when they really needed it!).

Following the barrage, the Hotakistani reinforcements arrived, not in the rear, but near the ruined fort.  The unexpected barrage had rotated all reinforcement entry points C/W around the battle zone.
The Hotakistani reinforcements arrive, two T-72s and a squad of infantry.  The Abrams advances to engage the new threat.
At the top left you can see the first MISSYL troops, poorly led, poorly armed and without a clue.  The disgruntled warlord (on roof on house on the right) engages the Abrams with two RPGs, but with no effect.
The Australians found Hotakistanis bearing down on their right flank, and soon found a bunch of Malikastani Independent Spiritual Student Youth League (MISSYL) insurgents on their left flank.  With artillery pouring down they needed to neutralize these threats on their flanks as quick as possible.

The Australian flanking unit, an Abrams and a squad of infantry arrived further east than expected and immediately engaged a T-80 on the hill, destroying the T-80's main gun.
The Abrams (substituted with a Challenger) surprises the T-80.
Fortuitously the Hotakistani's received another T-72, which sped past the new reinforcements heading to the main Australian force.  Meanwhile the golden Holden (a large VBIED) drove past the disgruntled warlord who tried to fire on it, but failed.
An extra T-72 arrives and speed past the Abrams towards the main front.
The final T-72 arrived on the Australian flank, but the first two T-72s had their guns damaged and destroyed by infantry AT weapons and the main force Abrams.  The main force Abrams was in turn ambushed by a hidden squad of Hotakistanis forcing the crippled (1/2 movement) Abrams to fall back around the corner of a compound.
Two T-72 with their guns damaged, a third arrives, and a squad of Hotakistani's ambush the Abrams (top right) forcing it to fall back with a damage (1/2 move).
The Australians surrounded the surviving MISSYL students and finished them off (mostly).
Australians surround MISSYL students and pour on the hurt.
Another Hotakistani Missile barrage slams into the Australians, with surprising accuracy.  A close miss suppressed the Abrams, while the building next to the central Australian infantry received two hits, wounding many Australians.  Unfortunately, one rocket landed close to the ambushing Hotaki infantry on the garage roof, causing two casualties.
A second barrage lands (red dots) inflicting further casualties on the Australians
The situation was becoming critical for the Australians, dealing with many seriously wounded, and having used up all their AT weapons (except for one fire team which carried a supply of LAWS) things could not possibly get worse - then it did.  A MISSYL T-55 arrived on the Australians flank, and a VBIED tried to ram into the Abrams.  Having to deal with dead and wounded comrades the Australian force was being robbed of its initiative.
A T-55 arrives on the Australian flank, driven by very inexperienced but fanatical MISSYL students.  The golden Holden VBIED charges at the Abrams but just falls short around the corner (can be seen through the gateway).
The VBIED exploded with no effect.  A unit of Australian SASR arrived, they had no AT weapons, but borrowed LAWs from the infantry and engaged the Hotakistani tanks.
SASR arrive and borrowing a bunch of LAWS (bouquet?)  take on the T-72s, but not before more Hotakistani rockets land causing more casualties.
The disgruntled local warlord grew tired of sniping from the top of the building he was in, and so snuck around a building to attack a T-72 with RPGs, he was, however, ambushed by a squad of Hotakistanis, whom poured on the hurt.  The Abrams then destroys the damaged T-80 on the hill.
Warlord and his men receiving pain from the T-72 and a squad - the ambush being ambushed (lower left corner)
The main force damaged Abrams now advanced and destroyed a T-72, then the Special Forces with a LAW destroyed a second T-72, the situation was starting to look good.  In one turn three Hotakistani tanks are destroyed.  Then another barrage landed on the Australian infantry with uncanny accuracy.

Another barrage lands (red dots), inflicting numerous casualties.
The barrage was to be the last, for finally Australian infantry found the forward observer and dispatched him with grenades and close-up gunfire.
The Hotakistani squad seeing the situation developing in a negative manner, exit the building and go Abrams hunting.  The local warlord tries to shoot them down, but instead dies in a hail of fire.
Abrams vs. T-72 - Winner: None.
An Abrams engages a flanking T-72 in the side, but in the excitement fails to score a hit.  The second Abrams now drove into the creek and prepared to engage the T-72, the T-72 however got off the first shot and one die made it through the armour to kill the Abrams - THE END.
The final shaky image, a burning Abrams.  AUSAF claimed it lost no Abrams in the attack, and that this image was a fake!
Outcome: Hotakistani Win (37VP) vs. AUSAF (24vp).  The Australians suffered a shocking 12 KIA and 9 Serious Wounds.  One Abrams was destroyed.  The Hotakistani lost 3 KIA, 3 seriously wounded and three T-72 destroyed.
Comments: The initial surprise bombardment started the trouble for the Australians.  The Hotakistanis managed to land a lot of artillery keeping the Australians dealing with dead and wounded, and thus robbing them of initiative.
The first three MISSYL insurgent units all arrived near the Australians to add to their woes.
The Australian first aid checks were abysmal, with more dead and seriously wounded each turn.  At game end the Australian infantry had suffered 24 casualties (50% dead, 38% seriously wounded and 12% lightly wounded, statistically it should have been closer to 20% dead, 40% SW and 40% LW!).
The Australians also quickly ran short of infantry AT weapons.  The loss of the platoon leader, and the heavy fire on the squad leaders did not give the Australians opportunity to call down artillery, and when they finally had good targets their communication failed.
The Hotakistani FO was perfectly positioned to bring down rocket attacks and the Hotakistani ambushers were patient waiting for the juiciest target.  A fun game, especially for me as I unleashed the fog :)

The minefield was not entered, though 3-4 IEDs were approached.
The minefield
During the game we wondered what armour on a vehicle is attacked by a mine/buried IED, and we could not find it in the rules.  Reading the Ambush Alley Forum it seems to be the consensus that it attacks a vehicles side armour.  Which I think is what we did.

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