Sunday, April 14, 2013

Operation Firefly - Mission 8: Rear Guard

After finishing our long-lasting game (the outcome is condensed into the pseudo-newpaper article I wrote recently), we where able to gather some steam and finish mission 8 of our campaign. We´ve used the experimental house rules again.


Intelligence has indicated that the Taliban are preparing a number of ambushes along the supply routes leading towards El Qualeed and Mul Qasr. Fighters are gathering along the road and setting up their positions to strike the next transports moving through. Fortunately, we can act on this knowledge, prevent the damage and secure our supply-route. Local Militia and one of your Squads is already on the move to outflank the enemy elements and hit them by surprise, clearing the way for the convoi to pass and hopefully disrupt their organisation. The Taliban present there are believed to be local fighters and anti-coalition militia, but well armed and equiped with heavy weapons that are posing a serious threat to our convois.
Your task is to find and destroy their heavy weapons in the village of Mashab and conquer the central compound by the road, which is a good position to control the surrounding area while the convoi moves through.

-Find and Disable all (three) Crew Served Weapons in the area (10 VP)
-Clear & Occupy the central compound (5 VP)

Coalition forces consisted of one US Infantry Squad (TQ 8 / Morale D10) and one ANA-Squad (TQ6, Morale D6). The squads where split with each providing one fireteam for each entry zone sector, going with a balanced approach and mentored ANA-Teams.

The US deployed an unarmed UAV to scan the area during the battle, costing them 5 COIN.

Turn 1

Right away, the Afghan Fireteam on the right flank came under fire by an RPG-team (one of the target CSW-teams) that caused severe casualties among the Afghans. With only one of five surviving the hail of fire, the ANA-team got pinned and suppressed right away, unable to continue its advance or return fire.

[Note that the picture is wrong, the Taliban team took no casualties in this turn! Something got mixed up in the process an the picture ended up wrongly.]

On the other side of the battlefield, things wheren´t going any better:
Advancing carefully while shots ring from the other side of the battlefield, the Afghans check one of the contacts ahead and identifies him as an urarmed man. Meanwhile, the Machinegun-Team conceiled between the trees holds their fire, waits and assesses the situation before finally opening fire on the Marines.
Slow to react and distracted by the radio chatter about the firefight in their east, the Marines take two casualties before getting their act together and killing one of the enemy insurgents in a less then formidable performance. They are pinned though and unable to continue their advance.

Turn 2 
After checking their casualties, the Afghans find one of their soldiers dead and two lightly wounded from fragments of the exploding RPG.
The Americans are more fortunate, one of the Soldiers is fine and almost instantly back on his feet, the other one is in shock from the awful experience of 12.7mm bullets cracking past. His body is shaking heavily, his aim is unsure, but he´ll be fine after some time to recover...

Having seen enough death and destruction in the war to be indifferent to the death of one more man, the Afghans on the right press on under the cover of smoke and are able to lay down some fire on the RPG-team while the US Fireteam provides overwatch from a safe position.

They are able to gain fire superiority for a short moment, but fail to intimidate the well entrenched RPG-team in their position. Through the effort of the overwatching US fireteam and their scoped weapons, the RPG team does suffer the loss of its leader, but the RPG-gunner is unimpressed and sends another rocket straight towards the Afghan soldiers. The exploding warhead sends shrapnels flying that kill one of the soldiers and knock one of them off his feet – fortunately, the American Bodyarmour that were recently provided to the Afghans stop the metal fragments and he is able to get up again after taking a deep breath.

As they provide Overwatch and shoot one of the Taliban, the soldiers of Fireteam Blue realize with terror that they have just sent their Afghan soldiers into a terrible trap, as they spot multiple contacts in the building right next to where the Afghans are pinned down and taking casualties... though these armed men did not yet open fire, their intentions seem hostile and most likely their lack of activity is just a sign of their bad discipline rather than lack of will.

On the other flank, Team Green is also able to lay down a smokescreen, improving their defense against the entrenched Machine Gun. Nevertheless, they take a gruesome volume of fire from the AA-gun in the woods, getting pinned down by the wall, unable to advance any further. One of the men is seriously injured and in a critical state, his leg chopped off by a 12,7mm bullet. The team has to tend to the casualty before advancing any further.

On the bright side, the focussed attention of the machinegun means that Fireteam Red is able to advance unhindered, and while doing fire and maneuver, they even silence the Machinegun – though not for long, as the gunner crawls up from cover, bleeding from some smaller cuts from 40mm-fragments, taking aim again...

Drone Intelligence
 Turn 3

The US fireteam on the left flank advances into the round compound and engages the remaining DshK-Gunner that is still manning the gun after getting up again. 

On the right flank, the Afghan Fireteam deploys smoke and attempts to withdraw, but are caught by a huge volume of inaccurate suppressive fire from the building, pinning them in place again. They take another casualty and hunker down, while the US Team moves into the white compound trying to get a clear line of fire on the Taliban element. As the Afghans are still unable to disengage, the US soldiers attack the remaining RPG-gunner in the foxhole instead, killing him before he is able to hit the Afghans in the flank. 

Turn 4


The US team on the left flank leaves the round clay building, advancing further to the south. Somehow, the soldiers are able to see through the wall of the compound with its very narrow entrance from this direction because somehow I didn´t feel like arguing with my US player. They shoot two Taliban and cause some substential fear among the group, sending three more enemy fleeing (2 left in the building).  The enemy is too disorganized to react to this new threat

Talk about impossible shots...
...but they probably popped a 40mm Grenade close to the door

The second US Fireteam attempts to change their position, but as they are trying to close in on the next building, they are greeted by an well conducted ambush from inside their new position. Obviously, Taliban fighters have been waiting for them. Fortunately, the soldiers are able to get to cover quickly enough and despite getting pinned and suppressed in the relatively open ground between the buildings, they are able to put enough fire on their target to kill at least one of the four Taliban – wether by coincidence or skill, they kill the leader of the group, 


Meanwhile, the Afghans on the right flank try to patch up their seriously wounded  and are unable to move out of their perilous location. Their comrades on the left successfully take up position to breach, but fail their first attempt and need more time to figure out the english manual for their C4 charges. 

Turn 5

Orders for Blufor, Turn 5
While advancing into the field, Team Red (US, left flank) stumbles upon a group of Taliban hidden away in a well camouflages position behind some treestumps. The enemy is obviously preparing an ambush, but somehow give away their location. Team Red is quick to react and instantly kills half of the team in a close range firefight. Shattered by this experience, two other local Talibans try to flee, but are also shot on their retreat into the bushes. Red advances to their overrun position and checks the bodies, no survivors. While closing in, they locate another person somewhere in the field, unarmed, ducking away.
At the same time, Green moves east and engages the Taliban in the compound. Their inaccurate riflefire causes no casualties, but the enemy is prevented from moving out of their position as the soldiers spray the doors and windows with bullets

Yellow engages the second cell in front of blue. Overwatch-fire decimates the enemy numbers to one man, Afghan fire has no effect – the last diehard insurgent fires his RPG at the Police Force and suppresses them again, though not scoring any casualties. To the horror of the coalition forces, one of the Taliban is getting up again after receiving a definite hit...

[Sorry for the lack of pictures, I still had trouble with the cam] 

Turn 6

While advancing through the fields towards the main entrance, one of the soldiers notices the alleged civilian fumbling around with something, hectically looking up and down between the soldiers and the device in his hands. Aroused by this suspicious behaviour, the soldiers take aim and order him to throw the thing away, but the Afghan man panics and tries to run away. One of the soldiers looses his nerves and shoots him. Searching his body, the Marines find a trigger in his hand... Alarmed and even more on edge then before, they continue towards the building – spotting two more suspicious contacts in the woods by the field....  (two separate contacts)

Green tries to get their asses moving, but the Taliban are finally back on track and fire an RPG at the wall of the house. Though the wall holds firm, one of the soldiers gets wounded. Panicking, the other Afghans hurry to cover, spray bullets everywhere but on target and are stuck almost in the same place they started.

Shooting at the Taliban to no avail while advancing, Yellow tries to join Green, but with green pinned down and suppressed, they are unable to meet them at the rendevous point – even though they reach it in time, green is not there.

After taking more Riflefire from the two-man cell ahead, Blue walks in its Underbarrel Grenades and scores a direct hit into the window, killing both men inside and follow up into the building.

Drone Intel just before the end of the turn

Turn 7

Blue lays down a barrage of fire on the Insurgents in the northern house, confirming two kills. They proceed to the next position after fulfilling their task, noticing a local hiding in a windowframe. Though he is positively identified to be a hostile and engaged, the Afghan is ducking away while the US troopers race towards the house. Surviving the unaimed and uncoordinated fire from the US fireteam, the Local triggers a large but poorly made IED, hitting the last soldier that hasn´t yet entered the building. Shocked, his teammates pull him in and consolidate their position, only one room next to the bomber... but at least not in the open

As the compound to the north is now cleared, yellow moves in (green is still busy patching up its most recent casualty) and identifies the unknown contact as an Afghan hiding in the orchard – they immediately sense the danger after hearing the explosion that just erupted and spray away like madmen – hitting nothing but the walls and the sky.
Unintimidated, the bomber blows up his IED installed inside the wall of the compound. The Afghans are lucky though, as the blast drives developes to the outward and noone inside the building is hit, while the triggerman is hit by fragments of his own device. The nearby civilian hiding from the chaos of the battle inside the walls is also hit by shrapnels and goes down.
After hesitating for a split-second as the two explosions rock the battlefield, Red prepares to engage the enemy men – but isn´t able to do so in time. Another, smaller explosion – more like that of a landmine than a large detonation – on the road follows. Small, but full of shrapnels flying around at the low angle, the device has indeed been made by a very skilled bombmaker. The shapnels hit one of the Marines. The soldiers collapses, while the rest opens fire on the two bombers and bring down both enemies in a concerted action before a second device explodes. However, having just taken a casualty, they are not very keen to storm the building potentially filled with hostiles.... 
 At this point, I also offered a deal to my US opponent, as we where switching to the experimental rules and he didn´t have any idea how that would influence the required tactics.
The deal was:  Either he would accept defeat in after turn 8 with a VP score of 7-10 against him (which is minor defeat and was a more generous result than he would have gained if the game had ended after turn 8 under normal circumstances) or he would get an additional 2 turns, but no more generosity, with the risk of losing out completely - or winning everything.
He finally decided to take the extension of the turn limit.

Turn 8, 9  and 10

Both US Soldiers are found seriously wounded only moments afterwards.
Careful after experiencing three explosions in a very short timespan, all soldiers scan the horizon even more carefully – and indeed, the danger doesn´t seem over yet, as Team Red identifies another potential triggerman trying to hide in the fields to their south...

Due to nerves of steel and emotional detachment, the US units split and leave one man tending to the casualties, while the others are continuing their advance.

It was later determined that this is not how things are meant to play out and will not happen again. To quote evilrobotshane:
[...]if you read the bits around the rule (I think the rule itself and an explanatory box about how the Serious Wound result being more crippling to the unit than the Dead result seems initially counterintuitive), it's fairly clear that the situation is supposed to represent an emotionally charged struggle to save a life; a player trying to have most of the unit say to one guy "you got this? We'll be over here if you need us" is a bit poo. 
 So, a part of team red grabbed their support weapons and moved up to kill the remaining mortar team, succeeded in doing so and claimed the VP for this. Fortunately, this error would not have distorted the result of the game if it hadn´t been committed, as both split units scored their VP in turn 9, which would have left turn 10 - so, even with one turn stationary, things wouldn´t have turned out much different, due to the enourmus luck of both units.

Meanwhile, blue prepared to approach the compound to aid the Afghan teams in storming the building. In turn 9,  both Blue and Green are successfull in breaching the compound and storm the building. Confusion reigns and disoriented by the two-pronged approach, the six defenders inside are unable to mount a coordinated defense by fire. They quickly succumb to the assaulting force and the compound is cleared.
One alleged Taliban Leader is taken prisoner and will be taken to base for further interrogation.
Storming the compound from two sides


The supply-route is cleared, the Taliban ambush on the convoi has been spoiled - all crew served weapons are destroyed, the compound on the road is safe. For now, the supply-route is safe. This is a crushing defeat for the Taliban, who lose a fair amount of support among the populace in addition to the losses suffered in the area.

The Taliban lose their entire presence in the area, Blufor gains 26 COIN from VP.
5 COIN are expended for the UAV that was used in the mission.

Net COIN-gain is 21. 

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