Wednesday, September 7, 2016

South Leon DMZ Prelude I


Well, it has started, my campaign in the fictional African nation of South Leon.  For background, please check here:

In May 1990 Cuba sent a task force to South Leon in order to prop up the democratic government there against its Communist neighbor, the Fédération Socialiste Nationale de Leon, or FSNL, and against the Marxist domestic rebel group, the Free Leon Army (FLA).  Task Force Fulgencio, named for its leader, who is also the commander of the 8th Commando Battalion, is comprised of one company of Marines, one company of paratroopers, and various intelligence and special operations troops.  The parachute infantry company has been sent to the center of South Leon, to the capital city of Pendrakenville, to quell the growing insurgency there.  Meanwhile, the company of Marines has been dispatched to the northern border with FSNL, a Demilitarized Zone (DMZ, created following their war in 1949), to stop the infusion of men and equipment across the border into South Leon.
**Okay, I'm not gonna hide it.  The part about the Marines heading to the DMZ to stop infiltration of South Leon from FSNL is a poorly disguised attempt at some Vietnam-era gaming.  While I'd probably be better off just doing some 'straight' Vietnam gaming, many of you know I have somewhat of an aversion to gaming real life stuff, preferring to make up places and names, or at least units.  The other reason I'm doing it this way is that it allows me to keep my Cuba Libre series of wars/campaigns/deployments moving forward.  So two birds with one stone, if you will.  I hope that doesn't raise anyone's hackles.  But for all intents and purposes, my war on the DMZ of South Leon is USMC on the DMZ in Vietnam.  Hell, for that matter, my paratroopers in South Leon's capital are probably going to look a lot like Israel's war in Lebanon circa 1982.

In any case, the company of Marines (officially the 24th Seaborne Shock Infantry Company; they're quite esoteric/eccentric about their unit names in the Cuban Expeditionary Force) under 1st Lt Ordonez (he and most of his men are veterans of the War of Liberation) arrived in South Leon on 3 May 1990 and soon thereafter moved to their Area of Operations on the DMZ.  Lt Ordonez immediately set his three rifle platoons (under Lt Peres, 1st Platoon; Lt Lupe, 2nd Platoon; and Lt Rodriques, 3rd Platoon) on an aggressive schedule of daytime combat and reconnaissance patrols, and nighttime ambush patrols.

It is now 3 June 1990, and to date contact has been minimal, though casualties have not.  There has been a rash of Marines lost to the occasional sniper, booby trap, non combat injuries, and the worst offender: disease.  The Marines, still becoming acclimated to the wilds of Africa, have suffered from various ailments such as malaria, dengue fever, Ebola (sorry, couldn't help it), dysentery, and jungle rot.  On an average day the rifle platoons are down 15 to 20% of the paper strength, but the patrols continue.

At approximately 0600 this morning, Lt Peres led 1st Platoon out on patrol.  The aim of the patrol is to hump all day, visiting a number of villages, before holing up at approximately 1730 in a platoon-sized night defense position.  The day has been long and hot, the Marines toiling under the weight of their gear and anticipation of enemy contact, and twice the column has already halted to perform MEDEVAC: once for a Marine that stepped on a toe-popper near an abandoned village, and once to evacuate two Marines with heat exhaustion.  Peres' platoon is now on the cusp of entering what looks to be another abandoned village.

The table, 2' x 2', north is up, using the one terrain tile that I've actually managed to finish.  The village is at top center, and the Marines will enter from the bottom (south) of the table.  From up here you can see various fighting positions have been dug, those these are not yet apparent to the Cuban troops.

A quick word on rules: as always, I'm using Ivan's excellent 5Core series.  I'm basically running "Five Men in Normandy" activation, but with full firing dice on reactions.

The opposing forces, with Marines on the left and FSNL troops on the right.  There are a total of 13 Marines, and don't worry, they won't be fighting all those bad guys.  I have simply lined up all the bad guys that are available.  As I'm taking this picture, I don't yet know the enemy force size or composition, that will be figured out once the table is set (I'm using the blinds system from Joe Legan's "Platoon Forward").

Thirteen Marines will take part in the fight.  This has no bearing on any T/O; what I'm doing is fighting a roughly squad-sized skirmish, so the only Marines on the table is basically the 1st Squad of the platoon and some Plt HQ guys.  the concept is the fight is short and sharp, and the other two squads are maneuvering to the flank(s).  The Platoon leader is in the fight because he's up front with the point squad (and because I want the platoon leaders in the fight as they are the named characters in my campaign).

These minis are all 15mm US Marines from Jimmi's excellent Flashpoint Miniatures, resplendent with their M-14s.  I went with all the riflemen having M-14s as I was shooting for some very early Vietnam War (1965) feel, facing off against the Viet Cong.

So we've got the Lieutenant (bottom left, the knucklehead brandishing a .45 pistol), his Radio-Telephone Operator (RTO, just above him), seven riflemen with M-14s (one is the squad leader, a Sergeant, rifleman in 2nd row at far right, and one is a Corporal, rifleman in 2nd row, 2nd from left), an M-79 grenadier (2nd row, 2nd from right), a two-man M-60 machine gun team (top row, two on right), and the platoon Corpsman (top row, far left).

So not even a full rifle squad (casualties, remember?), but this is what I needed to do to scratch my itch for some immediate Vietnam gaming.  There will be much more to come, and the fights will probably get larger.  Actually, I promise the fights will get larger.

The enemy force: these are all Viet Cong from Martin's excellent Peter Pig line of figures.  There's a boatload of riflemen, a few RPDs, a few RPGs, a few NCOs, a Goryunov machine gun, a recoiless rifle, and an 82mm mortar.  However, on second thought, the table is too small and so I won't include the mortar in the possible enemy forces.

I didn't in this series of battles, but I may work towards having the VC have some off table mortars in the future.  Or I may just make the table bigger and have on table mortars, let the Marines use 60mm mortars as well.  We'll see...

The Marines enter the battlefield, spread out and expecting contact.  Lt Peres, his RTO, and Doc are at bottom center, on the trail, following the M-60 team, who has the A-gunner on point moving up the trail.  The Corporal has two Marines in the paddy on the left (I don't want to hear about Africa not having rice paddies), while the Sergeant has four Marines in the paddy on the right.

I'm going to call the Corporal Benavides, and the Sergeant Garcia; don't get upset if use those two names over an over.

Cpl Benavides leads two Marines up, while the Lt and RTO are visible on the trail.

A look at Sgt Garcia leading his men forward, and you can see the -60 A-gunner at top center, walking point on the trail.

A look at the point man, diddy-bopping up the trail.

I place blinds, I roll them up, and we have bad guys.  This is looking south to north (the Marines are off camera to bottom).  There are six bad guys total; I played three games, using the 13 Marines each time, and I think all three games the bad guys had six men.

There's a recoiless rifle in the trench at top right, an NCO and RPG in the trench at top center left, and two AK-47-armed riflemen in fighting holes at top left.

The recoiless rifle team.

The enemy NCO and RPG.

And two riflemen.

I'm sure you noted that all the enemy troops are dug-in.

The recoiless rifle team (bottom center) sights in on the Marine point man (just visible on the trail at top center).

The lay of the land from the enemy NCO and RPG.  Can't really see much right now, but will have Sgt Garcia in the paddy at top left, and Cpl Benavides off camera in the paddy to top right.

A look from the two enemy riflemen in the holes at bottom right.  The trench the NCO and RPG are in is just visible at bottom center.

The enemy allows the Marines to come a bit closer, up the trail and across the paddies...

Tighter view.  That's Doc bringing up Tail-End Charlie on the trail.

And then the afternoon quiet is shattered by the sharp crack of the recoiless rifle firing down the trail!

But the round hits short and no one is injured!

Though it's enough to persuade the point man to dart forward, hop in the nearest hole, and hunker down (red bead).

The -60 gunner cuts loose a long burst back through the dust and debris of the recoiless round's explosion, hitting nothing.

One of the FNSL soldiers (bottom right) fires his AK at one of Cpl Diaz' men...

Forcing him to fall back, flop down, and hunker behind the paddy dyke (the red bead means hunkered, the green bead means prone).

Cpl Diaz (bottom center) coolly raises his M-14 and returns fire...

And we have our first converted Communist!

Nice shootin', Tex!

The point man shakes off his jitters and his back in the fight (red bead).

*I rolled up a random event that allowed him to recover.

As does Cpl Diaz' rifleman, though he's still prone behind the dyke (useless).

On the right, Sgt Garcia dashes ahead (top center).

The enemy NCO (bottom right) spots him (top left) and fires...

The rounds snap through the brush, but Sgt Garcia escapes unharmed by dropping into a nearby trench.

*I don't know what's wrong with me; usually I'm super aggressive and would have stood there and shot it out, but I actually decided to do the sensible thing and get him into cover.  Baby's all grows up!

On the extreme far right, one of Sgt Garcia's men joins him (bottom right, with Garcia just above him).

Back on the left, one of Cpl Diaz' men moves up (Diaz, at left with black bead, can't move as he used his activation to react earlier).

The Marine is spotted (center), and a bad guy (bottom right) takes a shot with his AK...

Knocking the Marine down (white bead at bottom center).  The point man moves over (in trench at center, from hole at far right) to see if he can get a shot...

But the point man (far left) is spotted by the enemy RPG (in trench at far right), who fires his rifle...

And the Marines have their first casualty.

The enemy recoiless rifle team (bottom right) has reloaded and sends another round down the trail (top left)...

Still not a great shot, but enough to force the machine gunner and Lt Peres to hit the deck, pinned.

The enemy NCO, not happy with his spot in the trench (bottom center), dashes forward to get a better field of fire (top left).

Where he (bottom right) spots the Marine grenadier (top left) and fires...

Forcing the grenadier back and on his belly.  Sgt Garcia is at top left.

Then I made a tactical error...

Hoping to find a covered avenue of approach to move up on the enemy, Cpl Diaz and one of his men move left into the stream (far left), with Doc, the RTO, LT, and -60 gunner at far right).

And Doc sprints through a hail of fire across the paddy to get to the downed Marine (Cpl Diaz at bottom left).

The RTO moves up the trail, getting between the LT and -60 gunner, trying to pick them up, one in each arm, to get them off the trail and into the fight...

The RTO (top left, sorry for the blurry pic) looks on angrily as the LT and -60 gunner say 'hell with that' and fall back into the paddy and flop down behind the dyke!

*I tried to rally those two idiots and rolled boxcars, so they both fell back!!!

On the right, one of Sgt Garcia's riflemen dashes forward and joins him in the trench (top left), while another riflemen dashes right to help the grenadier get back in the fight, but he only gets a little better (up to pinned)...

With the grenadier and rifleman watching (bottom left), Sgt Garcia and another Marine scurry up to a retaining wall (far right).

The LT and -60 gunner (bottom left) finally shake it off and get back in the fight, but the grenadier (far right, yellow bead) says he's cool just hanging out here (stays pinned again!).

Feeling the fight is going pretty well for them, and seeing the Cubans have made the mistake of hopping in the stream (top center), the enemy NCO and rifleman move up to get a better shot (bottom center and far right, respectively).

*You probably see a lot of movement and no shooting.  This is because the Marines rolled a 'scurry,' allowing them to move everyone, but the enemy has responded, which allowed them to get into position to seal off their right AND fire straight down the stream from a covered position...

The enemy RPG gunner moves up next to his NCO (center right, at corner of building, with NCO just above and to his right).  He's staring right at a Marine in the trench Sgt Garcia just left (top left).

But on the enemy left, the recoiless rifle team is getting a bit worried.  The gunner grabs the precious heavy weapon and leaves, lest the Cubans capture it...

While the assistant gunner grabs his rifle and moves up into the hole at left (from trench at right), determined to keep fighting.

Another damn blurry pic...

The enemy RPG gunner fires a rocket at the encroaching Marines of Sgt Garcia's team...

Sgt Garcia is knocked out of the fight (center), and the rifleman with him drops into a nearby hole and hunkers down (red bead at bottom center).  The Marine at top left murmurs a prayer thanking The Good Lord the bad guy fired that rocket at Sgt Garcia and not him...

He should have prayed for a little accuracy, as he (bottom right) returned fire on the RPG gunner (top left) and missed.

And then the moment I've been dreading...

The enemy NCO (bottom center) opens up with AK on full auto, firing straight down the stream at the two Marines there...

Like shooting fish in a barrel: Doc (far right) watches as Cpl Diaz (far left) does down, and the rifleman with him is knocked down.

Doc checks a wounded rifleman...

But he has expired.

So Doc sprints left towards Cpl Diaz and the knocked down Marine.

Seeing the fight is turning into a sh!t sandwich (Doc, Cpl Diaz, and knocked down Marine at far left),Lt Peres finally decides to do something.  He leads the RTO and -60 gunner over to a nearby treeline to try to build up a firing line on the left (on trail at far right).

The grenadier is finally back in the fight (yellow bead at far right).

So he and the Marine with him sprint up to where Sgt Garcia was hit.  They rally the Marine in the hole (red bead).  He gets up and heads left...

He moves down the trench (center, from bottom right), and bumps the Marine there, who sprints across the trail and hops in the hole on the other side (top center left).

The LT, RTO, and -60 gunner are just to his left, while the grenadier and a rifleman are at bottom right.

Seeing quite a bit of movement to his front, the enemy RPG gunner decides discretion is the better part of valor and he falls back into the trench (far right, from explosion at bottom center left).

On the enemy's far right, the rifleman in the trench (bottom left, with his NCO just across the stream from him) opens up a hellacious burst on the opposing treeline (top right)...

The RTO is pinned (yellow bead) and the LT is knocked down (white bead).  The -60 gunner returns fire with another long burst...

The rounds impact close enough to force the guerilla to the bottom of the trench.

The enemy RPG gunner (bottom right) spots a helmet popping up out of the trench at top left and fires his AK, knocking the Marine there down.

On the Marine far left, Doc hops into the stream to help his buddy...

But the enemy NCO (bottom center) spots him and opens fire...

Putting Doc out of the fight.  The dirty bastards...

I rolled a D6, gave 50-50 odds the enemy would fire.  You see what happened...

The Marines see this and are beside themselves with rage!!!

A Marine, Lance Corporal (LCpl) Moreno runs down the trench, hops out, and charges the enemy NCO!

Killing him in retribution for his vile act!

The Marine then crosses the foot bridge...

And leaps into the trench to assault the enemy trooper cowering there...

Easily dispatching him, then facing about and taking up a firing position!

I gave him a +1 in both close combats for going crazy after watching Doc get hit.

Back on the right, the grenadier moves up (bottom right) and fires a 40mm grenade at the enemy RPG gunner (top left)...

The round lands right in the trench, smoking the RPG gunner.

No +1 there, that was all him.

The grenadier checks on the knocked down Marine: just a scratch.  He pops his helmet back on, buckles the chinstrap, and gets back in the fight.

The last enemy soldier on the board, the assistant gunner for the recoiless rifle, senses things aren't going their way and slinks off to fight another day.

Wow, what a fight!  That @#$% had me puckered, wasn't sure I was going to be able to pull that off.  Was I playing too conservatively at the start? ;)

The final tally: Marines had 2 KIA and 4 WIA, with two of their three leaders and the Doc being casualties.  LCpl Moreno was awarded the Bronze Star ("Estrella de Bronce") for his actions in defeating the enemy positions on the left flank.  Lt Peres wasn't much of a factor in the fight, which will be reflected on his FITREP.  The Communists suffered 4 KIA, while two of their men escaped the ambush with their recoiless rifle to fight the Marines at a later date, which is no small feat in an insurgency...

Well, I hope you liked it as much as I did, I've got two more fights just like it to write up and post.  And I hope the Vietnam/South Leon thing doesn't bother you.  Like I said, time is at a premium, and so being able to do Vietnam gaming and knock out Cuba Libre campaigns is really a great deal for me.



  1. Great AAR Jack. You get so much out of a handful of models and some great looking terrain. Always a pleasure to read your reports.

    Cheers, Andy

    1. Andy,

      Thanks man, you're far too kind. The game was a lot of fun and I'm glad you liked it.


  2. "And we have our first converted Communist!" ..LMFAO !

    Great shoot-out !
    LCpl Moreno; fine work! .. I'm watching you son.

    Fantastic table ! looks 110% . Great AAR !

    Thanks Jack !

    1. Jimmi,

      Thanks man, and glad you liked it. Your stuff makes the table look great, it's fantastic! Moreno saved the day, and converted Communist... Well, I'm just old fashioned ;)


  3. You know, I had read the rules before so understood what you were writing, but now having played, I get it a lot better and the reports were good, but now ever better as the context is making sense as well (mainly as I understand the tenseness of reactions, rallies, reaction fire etc). One thing I remember from your previous games if how your men seem to survive a game. Over 20-30 games, they all get replaced, but quite often it is 0-1 that is KIA. My games always seem more bloody. So while you might be sad by the casualties, I see it as you coming back to normal!

    Anyway, great Vietnam - I mean African - report!

    1. Shaun,

      Cool, glad to hear it. I look forward to you going out and doing crazy things with the rules ;)

      Yeah, the casualties table is pretty forgiving, but I still manage to get my ass kicked...