Thursday, 28 June 2012

Can you guess what it is yet?

Here is a photo of the initial purchases for our Christmas game.  Can you guess what we are doing?

There are 560 foot and 36 cavalry, seems like a reasonable mix to me.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Blackhawks Down

Andy explaining to Chas that, birthday or not, he is not taking number 343 home with him !

Black Hawks Down in Mogadishu - Force on Force

Hi all,

This weekend saw our annual trip up to North Devon for our Summer Game which had added significance this year as our host, the gentleman that is Mr Charles Carter, recently celebrated his 60th, so it gave us a chance to have a lot of fun with a jolly nice chap. Thanks Chas, a great day, good times.

So to the game. I have included the briefing sent out to all players with the relevant orbats and victory conditions. As you can see a very powerful US Ranger and Delta Team task force are tasked with extracting the persons of interest, whilst subduing if necessary any armed resistance, which seemed likely following the shooting down of one of their Black Hawk helicopters.

This shooting down has also necessitated the rescuing of the helicopter crew from the crash site. Our game started as per the brief with the Ranger teams securing the buildings around the Olympic Hotel and fast roping onto the crash site (see the map for approximate positions).

The American force were taking no chances as their motorised convoy headed in from the north on Highway 1 and all troops were on over watch as they nervously looked out over the apartment blocks of down town Mogadishu. The tension was rising like the smoke from the barricades of burning tyres at the southern end of Highway 1 and as the Ranger team approached  Black Hawk Super Six - One it "kicked off".

US air support gives cover as the Rangers secure the crash site
 As the Rangers closed in on the crash site and started to assess the crew casualties the first shots rang out from nearby buildings as Somali militia gunmen opened up with small arms fire.

Rangers having dropped on the crash site move up to secure the area and prepare demolition charges on the wreck.

First contact!, Kate chewing Somalis open up on the Yankee invaders
The Ranger teams coolly took on the militia groups and drove them off with well directed return fire. First round to the Americans.

The view from the south looking up Highway 1 with one Ranger Chalk securing the perimeter. The Olympic Hotel is the large building on the left with roof security teams and the "persons of interest" at the front door. The HUMVEE convoy can be seen at top entering town.
As the US motorised convoy entered town, the Somali forces gathered in nearby streets, along with mobs of angry citizens mixed with traders and goat herders just trying to mind their own business. These obstacles made life difficult for US forces when attempting return fire, as any casualties on civilians were a gift of points to the militias.

Civilians intermingled with Somali militia
As the Americans edged into town the US air support kept over watch, taking occasional anti-aircraft fire from below. This was sufficient to allow the militias to rapidly gather ready to ambush the Yankees.
US air support provides deadly airborne sniper cover. This was very effective at taking out the RPG teams that threatened the task force vehicles.
Three moves in and the Somalis struck. An angry mob coming in from a side road threatened to disrupt the approaching convoy. US troops were forced to debus and attempt to disperse the crowd. This they managed to do but as the crowd dispersed, further shots were fired from militia in nearby buildings, killing one US Ranger.

"Man Down!!". The first casualty is a fatality as the Rangers are forced to deal with an angry mob of civilians.
Meanwhile further down the main highway, the Rangers in their attempts to clear nearby buildings approach a block of apartments covered by an their machine gun support team. The second ambush was sprung with three militia groups able to pool their fire on to the lone Ranger squad and causing a second casualty, forcing the group to fend off their attackers whilst attempting to remove their wounded colleague.
As the Rangers prepare to force an entry into the nearby building the Somali militia prepare to spring their ambush.

Weight of numbers making up for lack of quality and the Rangers are drawn in to an unequal firefight.
With the battle raging at one end of the street and another at the other end, the US commander having got a sit rep from his group leaders demanded over the radio that any further movement must be done under the protection of over watch groups. The Americans then brought up the HUMVEE's to add their fire support to free the Rangers in the first ambush zone.
The battle rages on the first corner as the HUMVEEs add their 50cal fire support
The security teams at the Olympus Hotel were bombarded for requests for over watch fire support as the Somali attacks grew in intensity.
The Olympus Hotel, with its VIPs waiting for their taxis at the front.
The battle at the second junction, swiftly becoming known as "Hellfire Corner" was becoming a death trap for the Rangers there trying to free their wounded. With support from further up the road looking more unlikely, the US commander put in a shout for a strafing run from one of the circling Black Hawks in a desperate attempt to relieve the pressure on his men.
The casualties continue to mount at "Hellfire Corner"
The Somalis were getting the measure of the Yankees. With the majority of the US teams on over watch fire, the militia were throwing in multiple attacks at the same point, which was wearing down the hard pressed Rangers ability to keep up the quality of their fire support. Eventually with their over watch degraded up would pop a "kate" chewing elite group of militia toting an RPG or heavy weapon and pop off another Ranger.

The Somalis numbers had grown significantly as the game progressed and thus their anti-aircraft fire became more potent. As the second Black Hawk strafing run came in over the city, the second helicopter was shot down crashing at the north west corner of town. This was was a body blow to US morale, forcing them to change the plan and get the VIPs out from the North and pull out the wounded and crashed helicopter crews at the same time.

Black Hawk Super-Six Two down with the Delta Team at the corner with a man down
The second crash site had to be secured and quick. The race was on to get the crash site secured and Lt Chas "Dutch" Carter was just the man for the job leading his four man team in the direction of the wreck. A shot rang out and over US radios the call no one expected went out. "Delta Team, man down", its Dutch!!

Not only that but now the HUMVEEs were taking hits, two being quickly disabled and with the truck brought in to carry out the VIPs taking damage the convoy was now only able to limp along at half speed.
The wheels are starting to come off with a second crash site still unsecured
The final moves of the day simply confirmed a crushing defeat for US ambitions in the horn of Africa. The last futile attempt to get their wounded away simply added more Rangers to the growing list of MIAs. Around 12 Rangers fell into Somali hands many lightly wounded facing being paraded in front of the worlds media. The arrest and detaining of the "persons of interest" seemed of little consequence given the losses US forces had sustained. This was however at great cost to the Somalis whose dead and wounded were littering the roads and streets near to the Olympus Hotel.
The survivors of Ranger Chalk 1 are rounded up ready to face the press
The following day after the Battle for Mogadishu, we all enjoyed a super cooked breakfast and headed down to the Cobbaton Tank collection which is close by. On the way out Vince showed off a Hungarian paratroopers light AK47, surely not a trophy from Mogadishu?

The collection of vehicles and weapons are well worth a visit if you are in North Devon, and I took time to grab a shot of a "rare beast", a Challenger 17lbr tank 1944 vintage.

A fun time was had by all, good company, great banter, and great fun. Thank you to Chas for pulling together a fun days entertainment, and thanks to Andy C, Andy W, Vince, Nathan, Steve, Nick, John and Clive for making it happen.

 Next Year Rorkes Drift.


Sunday, 10 June 2012

Maurice - AWI Game

Yesterday saw the first game of "Maurice" played at the club and I brought out the AWI collection to try out the rules. A lot of good comments have followed the release of this rule set and we were all keen to see if the excitement matched our experience.

I set up the terrain and put together the armies as detailed in the rule book to do Brandywine. We diced for sides with the Americans being the defenders and having the choice of table edge. The British positioned the house by the road in the American deployment area as the objective and watched as the Americans deployed first. After the British had deployed, the two sides appeared as below.

As this was our first game both sides were keen to push the rules and see what they could do. Both sides opted for flank attacks by setting up units in march column ready to set off. The American units are out of shot behind the wood at the end of their line. Like wise the British units are out of shot, left foreground.

Initial deployments with the British line on the left and the American to the right holding a ridge line. The house in the American sector is the game objective.
The game is played in alternate turns of card driven actions, with the attacker starting the sequence. The British on the attack started with 8 cards to the Americans 5 and the cards control which units can be activated, in what sequence, and throw in some nasty "Event" surprises every now and then. The units are simply Infantry in groups of four bases, Cavalry likewise and Artillery on single bases. The number of bases determine how many "disruptions" the units can take before being destroyed. Thus five disruptions will destroy an Infantry or cavalry unit, two for artillery. Disruptions are caused by combat and movement through difficult terrain or interpenetration's. Thus you can see the two units of Continentals who are attempting to flank the British have each taken a disruption for crossing the stream in their path as indicated by the little red dice.

The American flank attack, encountering difficult terrain on their march
The gradual accrual of disruptions can be countered by rallying affected units, but there lies the problem. When the fighting really gets started, you can't do everything you want or need to.The choices start to face the commanders, "Do I play an event to cause the main British attack to stumble into hidden disruptive terrain or do I rally my front units who wont survive another round of combat?"

Now this is what you call a flank attack, four battalions of Guards and Grenadiers lead Hessians  around the Americans left flank. General Howe oversees the deployment.
As the cards are played they can be replaced to a lesser or greater extent depending on what actions they are driving. As the game progressed both sides hands became gradually weaker, which forced a lull in the battle as both sides took opportunity to pass on their moves thus replenishing their hands with three cards. For the British, this was the pause before the final assault, for the Americans, realising their position was compromised by the attack on their flank by the Guards and Grenadiers causing the destruction of two units and a loss of 5 points on their 15 points of Army morale, this was an opportunity to be able to realign their front to hold on, and recommence their own flanking manoeuvre.

The Guards and Grenadiers, after a stiff fight for the hill, turn the American flank and look down on the American  army below, as the British main force closes in for the kill.
As the final stages of our battle commenced the musketry duels between the centre forces reached their climax and the British "National Advantage Characteristics" started to take effect with their ability to re-roll missed disruptions caused by their firing. As American units melted under this withering fire, their army morale followed suit and as they desperately tried to relieve the pressure by throwing in their militia to support the Continentals on the British flank, the American army morale collapsed and the game was over as we started to play the second deck of cards.

Its looking bad for the Americans in the centre of the position as the British regulars close in
We had a great game and really enjoyed the whole system. We played with two players on each side and our game lasted about three hours continual play. The rules started to become intuitive very quickly and we had time at the end to switch sides and play a second game which went quicker with our familiarity with the  play mechanisms.I guess one of the proofs of how good a game is, is how many people want to play it and I think that Maelstrom and North Star can expect half a dozen orders for rule sets and card decks very soon.

I will be running more games next month and will be trying out the additional rules for using Nobles as well as planning other armies to use with this set. I rather fancy French Indian wars, War of 1812 and Jacobite Rebellion. 

Thanks to Sam Mustafa for producing an excellent set of rules and to to Jason, Nathan, Ian and Andy for a fun days wargaming.