Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Jungle Camp

Hey guys,

this is the report of our battle from last saturday using the latest version of my houserules set for Force on Force (which makes the barebone-FoF hardly recognizeable anymore). If you want to know more, hit the "Houserules" label on the right ledger or down below the post.

The scenario pits the Presidential Guard of the National Army of Malongo - the armed forces of our fictional african state - against a group of hardcore jihadists operating in the remote southern parts of the country. The NAM is planning a raid against a recently discovered camp in the jungle and moves in with two Squads of Infantry, a Command Squad and a T55 backed up by indirect fire-support after sealing off the area. The Jihadists have long been aware of the rattling tank closing in and are preparing a last-ditch ambush.

NAM Setup-Zone on the near side of the table, Jihadists deploy anywhere on the map

The objective for NAM was to push through the Insurgents defences and clear the compound (symbolized by the ruins in the picture above) and disable two weapon caches. Bonus points would be awarded for clearing out hotspots.

The Jihadists could earn points by destroying the tank, killing leaders or the FO and by reducing the strength of the NAM forces. They would get variable reinforcements, starting with an Insurgency Level of 1 - meaning in the first turn new reinforcements would turn up on a roll of 1 on a D6, as the Jihadist need to roll equal or lower than their Insurgency Level.  Every turn without reinforcements would increase this level by 1, every turn with reinforcements would decrease it again. Game length was not fixed, but delaying is a valid tactic for the Insurgents as they get more reinforcements in the long run.

The Presidents Guards are TQ8, Morale D10,  the Jihadists are a mixed bunch of TQ D8 Morale D12 hardcore fighters and TQ D6 Morale D10 local recruits. All reinforcements are locals.

 We had been testing the scenario on a smaller board the day before, with me playing the Jihadists and my friend commanding the NAM. After a fierce and nail-biting fight I won by a very small margin after killing off half of the forces. With that experience in mind, we switched sides, adopted some co-commanders from the club and went straight into battle.

 Before starting, here´s a short summary of the scenario stuff:

National Army of Malongo

Initiative Level: D8
Troop Quality: D8
Morale: D10

-2x Infantry Squad composed of:
  •  1x Rifleteam (6 Rifleman + Squadlead) 
  •  1x Gun Team (1x MMG (Med. Supp.) + 2x Riflemen); Weapon Team!
-1 Command Squad:
  • CO, FO + 4x Rifleman
-1x T55A

-Medium Mortars on Call

  • Destroy the Weapon Caches (Hotspots 1 + 2): 5 Points per Cache
  • Clear the Area: 1 Point per Hotspot


Initiative Level: D6
Troop Quality: D8 / D6 (mixed)
Morale: D12 / D10 (mixed)

4x Jihadist Cell:  5x Rifleman (D8/D12)
 - 2x commanded by an additional Leader, 2x uncommanded

3x RPG Team (D6/D10)

2x DshK-Team (D6/D10; Weapon Team)

2x Leader for free arrangement on the battlefield (attach to any group)

  • Destroy the enemy tank: 5pts
  • Kill the enemy Commanding Officer: 3pts
  • Kill enemy NCOs: 2pts per NCO
  • Bleed them out! -  1 pt. per full 10% loss of manpower for NAM.

The game started with an Insurgent ambush from the hills alongside the road. The rocky terrain and the conceiled position provided excellent cover for the first minutes of the firefight. Opening fire on the surprised NAM, the Mujahideen hit one african soldier and caused a casualty. Morale held firm though and soon the ambushers where pinned and suppressed by a hail of well aimed bullets flying their way, suffering their first casualty.

Immediately after the ambush mortar support was called in on the hills and the two groups of Insurgents where hit with devastating results. The larger group reduced to half their strength with their leader as casualty, the RPG-team completely gone to the ground.

With confusion among the Insurgents due to the confusion about the loss of their leader, NAM was quickly able to assert initiative for the next turn. The NAM casualty was checked and found to be lightly wounded, while all but one insurgents (the RPG gunner) were dead or seriously wounded and thus effectively out of action.

With the tank on overwatch, the FO called in more mortar fire - smoke shells this time - to cover the advance of the rifle team towards the hill.

 Furthermore, the PKM teams were relocated to set up a base of fire for the coming assault on the hill.

The plan was delayed slightly when the Insurgents moved their second nearby group around the cover of smoke to hit the african guard troops in the open during their advance. Fortunately, their training kicked in and with good and proper reaction the surprise attack was answered by effective fire, pinning the Mujahideen down behind the brushes and causing some casualties.
The already wounded NAM-soldier was hit again, this time fatally.

On the hill, the surviving RPG gunner tried to get back up on his feet to engage the tank with his rocket launcher, but was quickly pinned down by the superior crew who spotted him while he was still busy praising allah instead of just shooting already.

Next turn, the Jihadists asserted initiative but failed to use the lull in the fight to their advantage. Placing their hardcore fighters on overwatch without finally intervening anywhere, NAM was still free to carry on with the original plan.

Under the cover of their tank and the machine gun group, th NAM squadleader ordered his rifle group to assault the hill, which resulted in them killing the pinned RPG gunner in close combat, while their MG team shifted fire and neutralized the remaining lone mujahideen with aimed bursts and some lucky shots. A well placed tank round had previously annihilated the last of the mujahideen group that had popped up behind the smoke previously.

Left flank secured
Suddenly, the battlefield was almost empty on the left flank, some hot spots between the NAM troops and the river, but almost no troops on this side of the stream. But things where about to change, as more reinforcements arrived.

The almighty hand of Allah summons more reinforcements

While the Insurgents had to reorganise the defense of their left flank, NAM redeployed their troops. Under the cover of the T55 and a rifle team, the machine gun group was moved forward and set up a new position. The Insurgents tried to launch another surprise attack on the moving gun group, but unfortunately their PKM was already set up and the insurgents ran into a devastating hail of bullets...

Never run into machinegun fire...

Surprisingly, the morale of these ferocious fighters held despite losing almost half their manpower. Meanwhile, NAM had been redeploying troops from the right flank - where a wide open field prevented any serious attempts to move forward without risking a shitload of casualties.

Under the cover of smoke from the mortar, the rifle team redeployed across the road, ready to clear the jungle:

Following more mortar fire on the left flank to pin and suppress the Jihadists fighting positions, the rifle squad went into the woods to root out the enemy positions and stumbled upon another RPG team:

Again the guard soldiers had the RPG team pinned down and suppressed for good. With fixed bayonets they headed on to assault the Jihadists main defenses around Hotspot 3:

After this conquest the position was consolidated by killing of the remaining suppressed survivors in the area before redeploying more troops foward. The next obstacle was a lone group of reinforcements (locals) that where stuck without a leader. After some failed attempts to coordinate a good river crossing to aid their brethren in the fight, they had bogged down on the far side of the stream to set up an ambush for the oncoming troops as the firefight had died down.

Using proper Fire and Maneuver tactics, the NAM elite crossed the river without any serious losses or impediment, pushing forward into the thinly defended left flank. The mortar was called in again by the squadleader to destroy the improperly led insurgent group by the river. Small arms fire and a relentless advance did the rest and soon the objective was in sight:

With NAM moving ever closer towards the objective, the Insurgents had to intervene on the right flank, hoping to catch the african command squad on the move to a better position. Heavily overwatched, opening fire at that point was not the best timing, but being hard pushed on the left the Jihadists where running out of choices.

White markers are for hidden troops at that stage of the game

Fortunately, the commander was quick enough to move behind the cover of his tank before the bullets struck home.  The DShK was silenced by the return fire from the overwatching tank that drove the crew into the cover of their position and pinned them down.

On the left flank by the compound, the NAM elite stirred up another DShK-nest which fortunately used spray-and-pray fire without much effect. The presidential guard responded by calling in mortar fire. As the shells rained down, two crew members manning the DShK were riddled by shrapnels.

Meanwhile the command squad took a new position on a small hill in the jungle, overwatching the entire battlefield across the stream.This of course exposed him to all enemy fire on the board and soon the command squad was under a heavy barrage that could barely be kept in check by the overwatch units. As a result, a guardsman was hit, becoming a walking wounded casualty.

On the left, more mortar and machinegun fire was placed into the compound to soften the occupants up for the final assault, while the assault team was already moving into position under the cover of smoke:

The resulting close fight was a foregone conclusion as superior troops overwhelmed the suppressed local rabble and wiped them out.

Clearing the ruins

We called it a game at that point and awarded victory to NAM, as the Jihadists where in very bad shape, down to one commander and unable to coordinate any serious resistance. Their initial ambush had failed and NAM dominated the fight from that point on, with few interruptions by some desperate measures of the insurgents.

Of course, it was also a matter of luck. My friend and Jihadist leader demonstrated his impression of the die rolls in this small arrangement:

While it is true that some lucky die rolls where on our side (especially my co-player and squadleader Sebastian excelled in that regard) we used every advantage we could get while the Insurgents where inhibited in some aspects.

In our test game the day before, I was able to wipe out half of NAMs troops including some leaders with the same starting troops and dealt them a serious blow, even if I did not crack the tank. This time, NAM suffered a total of 2 or 3 dead and seriously wounded casualties, which is barely 10% of the force.

In my opinion, the Jihadists did not launch a proper and well concentrated ambush on NAM. They spread out their troops too much, using only a small contingent to launch their initial surprise attack and had to throw reinforcements in to stop the gap that quickly opened when the counterattack was mounted. NAM used all assets right from the start and concentrated their force on the spot where they could mount an effective attack, ignoring the trap that was laid on the right flank. After the early loss of one of their leaders, the Insurgents where less able to mount an effective defense, as their ability to coordinate their troops and proactively pick their fight decreased. Lastly, they had pure bad luck in regards to reinforcements. No skilled leadership came onto the table for quite some time, leaving a hard felt gap in the Jihadist chain of command.

All in all it was a lovely game, and everyone who had played standard Force on Force earlier agreed how it was so much better and more realistic, even though sligthly longer. We´ll be testing the houserules further, trying different scenarios to assert that they work.

If you´re interested in participating, write a comment and I´ll give you my contact details.

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