AKA, Ambush Alley in South Leon #1
So, a bit of review as I'm all over the place when it comes to projects: on 1 May 1990 Cuban Liberation Expeditionary Forces (CLEF) deployed to the west African Republic of South Leon. A county seen as pivotal during the Cold War as a stopper to the Domino Theory in Africa, since The Wall fell it has largely been ignored by the Western Powers that propped it up throughout the Cold War. And that would be fine, except:
1. South Leon has a Marxist neighbor to the north, Fédération Socialiste Nationale de Leon, or FSNL. While it is suffering as well, having lost its primary backer when the Soviet Union collapsed, that is actually making things worse. Aside from the cultural hatred the two tribes have for each other, the FSNL regime is under pressure due to a stagnant economy, and what better way to relieve pressure then redirect the anger at outside forces, such as South Leon?
2. South Leon has an internal problem, the Free Leon Army (FLA), which is Marxist and thus has problems with the republican government of South Leon and is backed by FSNL.
Both these problems were coming to a head, and so the Cubans, being the freedom-loving folks they are, decided to pitch in to save South Leon from the damn Communists! Generalissimo Estevante authorized the deployment of a battalion-sized Task Group to South Leon. Headed by a Marine, Major Fulgencio, the task force is built around a company of Marines under 1st Lieutenant Ordonez (Task Force Redleg) and a company of paratroopers under the recently promoted Captain Soares (Task Force Razor). The overall Task Group is filled out by a contingent of tanks, armored personnel carriers, amphibious assault vehicles, Special Forces, Intelligence, an air combat element, and various other support personnel necessary to keep the Task Group operating at full capacity.Task Group Fulgencio landed in South Leon on 1 May 1990, with Task Force Redleg deploying north to the Demilitarized Zone (the border with FSNL), and Task Force Razor moving just east of the capital city, to the capital of the home-grown insurgency, Diwala.
Things were quiet until early June 1990, when Task Force Redleg's patrolling of the DMZ ran into a battalion-sized force of FSNL "volunteers" infiltrating south across the border. Three short, sharp clashes saw the victorious Cuban Marines sending the FSNL volunteers packing back across the DMZ. Again things have been quiet, but intel has been picking up on chatter to the east, and so Captain Soares' Task Force Razor has stepped up its presence patrol activity in the city of Diwala. There have been several incidents of sniping and Improvised Explosive Devices in the city, though none of the Cuban paratroopers has so far been seriously injured. But that is about to change...
It is now 1430 on 2 July 1990, and calls for assistance have come into Task Force Razor headquarters. The harried voice on the other end of the line stated a South Leon National Police patrol was ambushed, and while the first two vehicles made it out of the kill zone and returned to base, they left the third vehicle, which was disabled, at the ambush site. And it has several National Police officers in it...
Captain Soares immediately rounded up a Quick Reaction Force and headed out the door to rescue the South Leon National Police troops.
I'm playing this out in 15mm using the old school "Ambush Alley" rules, as written. The is the first scenario out of the book, "Contracting Trouble," a classic of modern wargaming. My intent is to play out all five scenarios in the book in a row, to learn the rules, put them through their paces, and see if I dig'em.
The khaki-colored poker chips (bottom right, right, behind building at top center right, at let, and at bottom left) are "Insurgent Hot Spots." In Ambush Alley, at the end of each turn you roll to see if the bad guys get reinforcements. If they do, you roll to see what size the group is and what weapons they have, and lastly you roll to see where they will show up. Each hotspot is numbered 1 through 5, and if a 6 is rolled the bad guys get to pick which hotspot they want to use. Hotspots can be destroyed if they are unoccupied and a Regular unit physically moves onto it and stays there for a turn, doing nothing else.
The mission is for Task Force Razor to move north, recover the SNLP officers, then escort them back south off the table.
*This photo shows the Insurgent groups as they are supposed to be from the book, but before I started the game I reinforced each of the groups with more guys.
**This was my first game, and I made a TON of mistakes!!!
These guys won't do anything until Task Force Razor gets in physical contact with them, and the bad guys can't attack them until Task Force Razor gets in physical contact with them.
Razor 01 (bottom right, with the CO at bottom center right), begins moving up, but as they do, the Cuban paratroopers notice movement on the building to their east (just above them at far right).
*I have no idea why I didn't allow the Insurgents to shoot back, which is what should have happened when the weren't destroyed/forced to flee. Ahh, I just looked at my notes: I played it right! This team doesn't have a Leader, so they had to test to see if they can react, and they failed that, didn't even make it to testing against the good guys!
*I meant for the bad guys to be TQ6/M8, but wasn't paying attention and so the first three games I played the Insurgents as TQ6/M6, so you're going to see a lot of bad guys running away that shouldn't have been...
*It just occurred to me that I moved every single friendly unit, I didn't put any on Overwatch, so the enemy can move with impunity.
The bad guys are too close to the civvies to fire at.
*A very cool rules mechanic that allows Insurgent leaders to turn a civilian crowd into Insurgents. You can never relax in this game, though my son was just commenting on how easy things were going.
*Though I will also add I was playing wrong again: I was playing that Defense dice had to beat the attack dice to save, when the rules clearly state all the Defense dice have to do is tie the attack...
*Not supposed to fire within 6" of civvies, but I figured it was okay because of the elevated position.
*I pretty consistently forgot to use "optimum range" firing dice all game, forgot to give Overwatch and Cautious movement a +1 on reaction tests, and I forgot all about Insurgent "out of contact" movement. Here I let the Insurgents move and fire, and I don't think I'm supposed to.
*Reinforcements are automatic in this scenario, they come every single turn.
*Remember, I was playing that defense dice had to beat firepower dice, not just tie them. So the bad guy (D6) five beats my five, then the fours beat my threes...
So far it's been kinda slow, but now the radios jump to life, too much chatter trying to figure out what the hell just happened and how bad it is.
*Yeah, I'm running out of casualty figures.
*In Ambush Alley you have to get casualties to cover, then check them, where they're either KIA, WIA, or OK.
*I just realized I forgot to roll morale for Razor 01 when they got whacked by the RPG.
*It's not really that an RPG has been launched, it's just that we've already rolled the firepower and defense dice, and it's not good for the Cubans, so I play it like an RPG was fired.
*Like I said, I screwed up. They shouldn't have run, they should have dropped to D6 morale, if they failed at all, which obviously is less likely when you're using D8s...
*The rocket hit, but the boy rolled a save, so it didn't penetrate!
*I rolled nine TWICE on the reinforcement table...
Razor 03 failed its roll and the track couldn't see them.
Wow, we were really skating, then BAM! Three of four men down in Razor 01, almost immediately followed by all four men of Razor 02 going down. And things really slow down when you suffer casualties; first you have to get to them, then you have to get them to cover, then you have to check them, then you have to take care of them. To be honest, this is why I brought a vehicle to the scenario, I just couldn't see trying to drag your casualties all the way back down the table, and ain't no helo gonna land in that mess, in the middle of a point-blank range gunfight.
But what a game! We were able to successfully accomplish the mission, and we were joking about how easy it was (the boy had just said, "Daddy, I think we need more bad guys"), and then we took the casualties and I really started sweating, thoughts of a few more casualties making us immobile and then the damn thing turning into the Alamo... Which is probably just the kind of tension you want out of a game! ;)
I'm not sure how exciting the batrep is, please let me know your thoughts. As I'm typing it, it seems like it's not even fair, just 'new bad guys on the table, good guys mow bad guys down.' And, for the sake of time (it takes a lot of damn time to download all these pics and type up the batrep), I didn't get into every single tactical decision we made, but I assure you, there were plenty, and there were about half a dozen times where the boy and I had to sit and stare at the table for a good five minutes, trying to figure out how we were going to deal with way too many bad guys while not having very many good guys.
Another thing is, the game has you draw "Fog of War" cards when you fail an activation roll with a '1.' Then stuff happens; sometimes it's bad, like an IED or a fire starts in a building your guys are occupying, and sometimes it's good, like you get air support, or a tank. But with the boy's good rolling, we only failed (or lost) a total of three reaction tests, and never with a 1, so we never had any Fog of War events.
Well, I had me some questions, so did myself some homework (also posted them on the Ambush Alley board on The Wargames Website, and got some help from some kind souls):
Q1: Do Defense Dice that tie the Hit Dice stop the kill?
-Page 24, para 4, I screwed that all up. Defense dice must "...match or exceed." well, I played it the same for the good guys and the bad guys, but I'll fix that for the next one...
Q2: When Insurgents fail their morale roll, do they always run?
-Page 36, para 6, I played this correct. Failing morale leaves an Insurgent unit "Shaken," and Shaken means they are reduced a TQ die type, with falling below D6 meaning they run. My Insurgents started at TQ6, so becoming Shaken meant they dropped below TQ6 and thus ran.
Q3: Is there such a thing as return fire? I.e., insurgents can either move or shoot (page 11, para 4).
They move up, Regulars fire, they take casualties, test morale and stand, do they get to shoot back?
-Page 19, para 3 says "Surviving Insurgents who are not casualties or do not Shrink may then take their interruption fire."
It appears this is only the case if the Insurgents had not previously performed an Interrupt (looking at Page 18, para 9).
Q4: Can Insurgents fire more than once during a turn?
-Page 17, paragraph 9 says "... but each Insurgent unit may only interrupt one Regular unit per turn."
-Page 19, para 11 says "This announcement counts as the units’ one interruption per turn, even if the
interrupted unit is destroyed before they have a chance to fire at it."
Q5: Is it true Insurgents can only move OR fire each turn, not both?
-Page 11, para 2 says Insurgents may Interrupt only once per turn, and Page 11, para 4, says Insurgents may only act (after Regulars finish) if they didn't Interrupt.
Q6: If a Regular team moves up and is spotted/attempted Interrupted by two Insurgent teams, and the
Regular team tests against both Insurgent teams and wins both, does the Regular team fire first
against both Insurgent teams, i.e., fire on one Insurgent team and then fire on the other?
-"Resolving Chains of Interruptions" on pages 19-20 lays out that the Regulars declare intent, the Insurgents declare Interruptions, roll TQ tests, resolve failures (Insurgent wins), then allow surviving/
standing Regulars to retaliate, then resolve successes (Regular wins), then allow surviving/standing
Insurgents to retaliate. So, if the Regular won both reaction tests, he fires on one bad guy, the bad
guy responds (if able), then fires on the other bad guy, then that bad guy responds (if able). That's how I'm reading it and that's how I played it, so I guess I'm good?
I also looked up to make sure: Insurgents without Leaders have to test to see if they can Interrupt, and if they fail, they don't get to do anything to that Regular unit's movement/fire. Though I think I may have let some of them return fire if they survived and stood, even though they failed the Interrupt test.
Anyway, back to the story: Task Force Razor accomplished its mission of rescuing the South Leon National Police officers, but the Cubans were shocked at their first casualties of the war (1 KIA, 4 WIA), and though they severely punished the enemy (68 casualties were reported by South Leon police and military), the Cubans were shocked at the sheer numbers and the militia's tenacity. No one had seen anything like this, but it was about to become a regular occurrence in Diwala. So stay tuned, next fight coming right up!