AKA, Ambush Alley in South Leon #5
It is now 0330 on 11 July 1990, and Task Force Soares has again penetrated into the Mulan District of the city of Diwala, a particularly troublesome neighborhood known for its hostility to the government of South Leon. Earlier this week, militia members of the Free Leon Army (FLA, the bad guys) ambushed a South Leon National Police (SNLP) patrol. Task Force Razor, a Cuban paratrooper company led by Captain Soares and his trusty sidekick, Lt Hinajosa, moved out smartly, rescuing the SNLP officers, but at a cost of 1 KIA and 4 WIA to themselves. Everyone on the Cuban Liberation Expeditionary Force (CLEF) and South Leon government side were shocked; the FLA insurgency had been but a rumor of war for years, with various low-level bombings, assassinations, and sniper fire, but nothing anywhere near the size and ferocity of the attacks on 2 July.
The following day the FLA attacked an SNLP police station, then ambushed the SLA Quick Reaction Force (QRF) sent to aid them. Task Force Razor was called in to support; Captain Soares and his men were able to save the SNLP and QRF, then return to base, though it cost them: one paratrooper was killed and another seriously wounded. But not long after Task Force Razor returned to base, they received word the few remaining SNLP officers and SLA soldiers had abandoned the police station.
Task Force Razor immediately mounted up, humped to the police station, and occupied it. Several hours later the insurgents struck in strength, but the paratroopers accounted themselves magnificently. Despite losing another paratrooper KIA and one WIA, the issue was never really in doubt. The Cubans held, and several hours later they were relieved. They returned to base to rest, refit, and prepare an offensive to take the fight to the enemy, looking to root the enemy out of their base in the Mulan District. The attack went in on the morning of 8 July 1990, and the Cuban paratroopers literally descended into hell! The enemy initially gave ground, but put up a ferocious defense in the northeastern corner of the neighborhood; one Cuban was killed and five wounded, including the Task Force commander, Captain Soares. Ultimately, the remnants of the assault element pulled back, called for help, then watched as a Cuban F-4 Phantom rolled in and dropped a Mk 83 1000-lb bomb directly on the center of FLA resistance.
Then, bolstered by armor, Task Force Razor again went into the assault, but the airstrike had broken the back of FLA resistance, at least for that day, and the Task Force was able to continue its house to house sweep, capturing a few FLA militants and a significant amount of arms, ammunition, and explosives. And while victory wouldn't have been possible without air and armor, it's very difficult to stamp out a homegrown insurgency, and using air and armor meant there was a certain amount of unavoidable "collateral damage," which only helped fuel said insurgency.
In any case, intelligence sources soon identified the leader of the FLA forces in the Mulan District as "Sheik Khamis," and identified his whereabouts. Task Force Razor mounted up for an early morning raid, with Lt Hinajosa leading the mission in Captain Soares' absence. As usual, the first part of the mission went easy: on a pitch black night, Lt Hinojasa and three assault teams calmly walked into the Mulan District and cordoned off Sheik Khamis' home. Lt Hinajosa and an interpreter simply walked up and knocked on the front door; "You're making a big mistake." "Don't lie to me, we know exactly who you are."
"I didn't say I'm not who you think I am. I am simply saying, my young Cuban friend, that you have made a big mistake, coming to my home like this. And now what? Now you will just turn around and walk me out? Good luck." Lt Hinojasa quickly zip-tied the target, and then formed up Task Force Razor for the exil movement. "L-T, we've got a lot of movement out here. A lot, groups in every direction. Looks mostly like civvies, Sir, but there's a lot of them, and they DO NOT look happy."
"Roger, Razor 01. Steady boys, it's time to step off," and with that, Task Force Razor began escorting its prisoner south out of the area.
I'm playing this out in 15mm using the old school "Ambush Alley" rules, as written. The is the fifth scenario out of the book. 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 troops are all Eureka Minis.
Fédération Socialiste Nationale de Leon (FSNL), which has long sought to overthrow the democratic government of South Leon. This is a trained sniper, infiltrated across the border from FSNL into South Leon.
He fires with 2D8, is TQ8/M10. The figure is a Eureka Minis' Modern Chechen.
Time to fight!
*The bad guy only rolled one hit, but it was an 8, so I was sure someone was going down, but the Cubans were rolling five D8 in defense and were able to match it, then made quick work of him.
Not pictured, Lt Hinajosa moves over and joins Razor 02.
*Well, a lot of good putting Razor 01 on Overwatch did...
*I allow the bad guys to move up with the civilians, masking their movement.
Uh-oh... How's that for bad luck?
*Okay, I screwed up again... I was amazed the bad guys actually failed morale on a D10 check, but they did. What was supposed to happen was they simply seek cover and drop a morale level to D8, but I was so excited I just had them run. Actually, I think I like it this way better; if you fail morale on a D10 you deserve to run!
*This has no effect on the terrorists ability to do anything in the game, civilians are just an acceptable loss.
*The bad guys took a chance and it didn't work out. Now they have one less civilian mob to try and rally to their cause, but with such a large group I was sure they'd score some hits on Razor 01.
*Well, the bad guys took another chance, but it paid off. Sure they lost the ability to mobilize that civilian group, but they just knocked down three of my guys!!!
*Yeah, I'm cheating a little bit, letting Lt Hinajosa move over to Razor 02 then back to Razor 03 and fight with them. Get over it ;)
*Wow, that was bloody, and took a total of four rounds of close combat to finish.
The situation is dire; the Cuban force of thirteen men currently has eight of them down, one of which is seriously wounded, the other seven needing to be checked, though the enemy is not much better, down to only five men left in the fight. But they've got three things going for them:
1) They don't have to worry about taking care of casualties.
2) They stand a good chance of receiving reinforcements each turn.
3) The Cubans have to take care of their casualties, and unless the casualty checks go exceedingly well, they won't have enough men to even move all their casualties, much less fight AND move their casualties.
*Good grief, the Cubans roll a '1'!!! The good news is, the bad guys failed their roll, so the Cubans will still fire first, but the bad news is, a Fog of War card is on the way...
*The Fog of War card is "The Colonel Said What?" The Cubans can't move this turn.
Chaos reigns; Task Force Razor's commander is down, and it's shot to pieces with its remaining units separated from each other and fighting for their lives.
The four Cuban effectives are burdened with four casualties, and there is still another casualty from Razor 01 on the east side of the wall (off camera to bottom right). Corporal Ortega once again finds himself in charge, and is calling out on the command net for help.
*I call the game at this point. I suppose, in game terms, there is still some way I could win. Maybe I could check casualties with Razor 02 and get very lucky and get those three guys back in the fight (I'd have to roll three 5-6s), and then maybe I could fight off the last, weakened, group of bad guys AND the bad guys don't receive any significant reinforcements, and then I could spend twenty turns using the able-bodied paratroopers to ferry casualties from the north down to the south end of the board and off the table, but that would require a whole lot of luck, and the fact is, if a unit found itself in this situation in real life, it's all over.
Corporal Ortega and PFC Olejandro find themselves unable to communicate effectively, both exhausted and practically hysterical on the radio, and so for the second time in as many fights, Corporal Ortega is forced to switch to the command net and declare "Broken Arrow, Broken Arrow, troops in contact and in danger of being overrun, send the QRF!!!"
Once they arrive, the Cubans rapidly collect their casualties and move them to the QRF's vehicles to effect the evacuation. With tears in his eyes, PFC Olejandro regretfully informs Corporal Ortega the Sheikh got away. With tears in his eyes, Corporal Ortega regretfully informs PFC Olejandro that the Lieutenant is dead...
From the safety of a nearby balcony, Sheikh Khamis watches the Cubans load their casualties aboard their vehicles. "It is such a shame, it didn't have to be like this. That poor young man; I told him this was a mistake. This is not your war, go home Cubans..."
The remnants of Task Force Razor limp home empty-handed, their morale in the dumps. Both sides suffered horribly: 39 insurgents were killed, while the Cubans had three men killed in action and another three wounded. Both sides pulled their troops in to lick their wounds, reconstitute their combat strength, and figure out a way forward, and so, at least for a short while, there was peace in the streets of Diwala. The five battles cost the Cubans a total of seven dead, fourteen wounded, while the insurgents lost 241 fighters.
Lt Hinajosa was posthumously awarded the Medall de Honor for his leading the charge into close combat against a larger enemy force in order to rescue the members of Razor 01.
Thus ends my five-game mini-campaign using Ambush Alley, and holy crap, that was intense!!! I'm very pleased with the rules; while the games are longer than I generally like, each and every fight forced constant tactical decisions, were extremely tense, seemed pretty realistic to what they're trying to accomplish, and were a lot of fun. Further, they work well solo (or, actually, tandem with my little boy), and there's only one little change I think I'll make (I like the idea of bad guys failing morale = running, rather than simply bumping down a level and seeking cover).
So I can definitely see myself playing more Ambush Alley, and I've got plenty more scenario fodder (I bought each and every one of them Ambush Alley mini-campaign books), so stay tuned for more violence on the streets of Diwala!