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I'm a bit of a born-again wargamer! I played many of the Games Workshop games when I was in my teens and early twenties, but left the hobby behind when I went to University. Over the last few years I have gradually got back into it and am literally having a ball! I'll play pretty much anything now, ranging from ancient historical to the far future! I think that I get more out of the painting side of things than actually playing, but that might just be because I get more opportunity. Hence the title...this blog is all about the colour of war!!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Force on Force - Umm Qasr

Tuesday night saw George and I play the next scenario from the Road to Baghdad book in our Murdistan campaign. In this scenario, the British forces are to isolate and neutralise enemy resistance in and around a vital port facility. Their task is also to ensure that the port infrastructure is not damaged in the action, so no heavy support weapons could be fired in the direction of the opposite table edge.  The British are tasking a full platoon to this attack - 6 fireteams and a GPMG support team. An element from a nearby armoured group is on it's way to support the troops but will not arrive for a few minutes.  In defence of the port are numerous cells of Murdistani irregulars, some quite numerous. They also have a bit of a surprise in the form of a Dushka, a DShK 12.7mm HMG. They realise that Coalition forces in the area are strong, but giving them a bloody nose here will cause negative reaction in the Western press and hopefully whip up more support for the insurgency.

The administration buildings. The big building in the foreground is the British main objective and the Murdistanis have strict orders to hold it all costs. The table edge to the left of the shot is the port and must not have heavy weapons fired in it's direction.
I played the British and my plan was to move a fireteam down each flank while covering with overwatch. The flank teams would then be able to enfilade the insurgents and allow the centre units to move up and storm the buildings. All the enemy cells were hidden at the start, but the flank movements seemed to spook them and they opened fire, perhaps a little too early. The cell in the centre of the board were neutralised in short order, but the British left flank fireteam were also all hit.
The Murdistani irregulars come out of the woodwork. One British soldier is down!  On the far flank the GPMG and a  fireteam make it to cover unscathed.

The cell at the back of the building activate and the rest of the fireteam are hit.
This left me in a bit of a pickle! My left flank attack had fizzled and I had to get troops over to them to check them. In FoF, casualties are checked at the start of the turn to see if they are KIA, seriously wounded, lightly wounded or OK, but only if there are friendly troops are close enough. As is usually the case in asymmetric engagements, KIA regulars are a rich source of VP for the irregular side. The DShK also revealed itself to try and take the GPMG out, but concentrated British fire soon took it out.
The Dushka is revealed and lays down fire on the British troops  in position behind a berm.
The British right flank was moving swiftly into position now and the GPMG was set up to provide overwatch fire. In the recent exchanges, a couple of irregular cells had their leaders eliminated which can cripple the teams. In order to do anything they must pass a TQ test which is a 4+ on a D6. This was quite an important development as it prevented the gunmen from reacting to the Brits on their left. There was also at least two rounds of fire where the British body armour and training came up trumps and the militia were unable to make their fire count (10 D6 fired at a team of four men - 5 hits scored and all 5 negated by a string of 7s on the British D8 TQ dice!). Eventually the British fire proved too accurate and the central irregulars were all down and the platoon leader led a rush in to take the position and two prisoners.
The British seize two prisoners!
At this point, things were in the balance. The British would surely win if they could clear out the last resistance in the main administration building, but if any of the left fireteam were KIA, then any more casualties would be very costly. However, another round of fire hit some of the Murdistanis in the main building and, fatefully, they failed their morale check and became shaken. This is bad news for irregulars as it means their morale drops a level (i.e. from a D10 to a D8) and they can't take any action until the end of the next turn. The British troops took the opportunity accorded by the lull in enemy fire to reach their stricken comrades and the dice gods favoured the British - all four men were wounded; two seriously and two lightly. This meant only two VP for the insurgents rather than a potential twelve! And at this point a growl of an engine signaled the arrival of a Challenger II!
The cavalry arrives!
And so the final, climactic turn of the battle arrived! As the tank rumbled across the berm, the insurgents had three RPGs left to deal with it. All three declared their reaction to fire at the oncoming armour, but would the British overwatch be able to deal with them first? A burning tank would be a propaganda nightmare! So, we went through the overwatch and one RPG gunner was hit. And then another! But the third survived! As he lined up his shot we diced for his reaction test, which he lost. The tank turned to face the building, loaded a HE round and fired. The administration building erupted into flame and promptly collapsed on the insurgents. Only one managed to crawl from the rubble, but the British were waiting for him and the game was over!
Another cracking game of FoF! This one was a tougher one for the insurgents, but George and I discussed it afterwards and he thought that he should have waited a bit longer to get the British in their optimum range before springing the ambush. As it was, they revealed a tad too early and the British troops along the berm just whittled them away. I think that the insurgents need to be a bit more mobile in this one, too. There are two big cells that can punish the smaller regular fireteams, but they have to catch them without being subjected to too much overwatch fire. In the end, the coalition forces won hands down, but there was a couple of points mid-game where it could have gone either way and it was certainly dramatic and tense from the outset!

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