Friday, 22 June 2012

Force on Force - Casevac Afghanistan

Somewhere in Afghanistan in the long hot summer of 2006 an ISAF Patrol heads into an area held by strong insurgent forces.  As their vehicles rumble east along a wadi past a remote and apparently deserted settlement to the south, one of the IFVs hits an old anti vehicle mine left over from the Russian occupation.  

The vehicle is disabled, it's front wheels, engine, and top gun knocked out.  Two of the occupants are also badly injured in the blast.

The platoon commander orders the remaining vehicles to corral up alongside their stricken buddies and the bricks pile out to check on the injured and form a cordon in case of attack. 

The top gunners are twitchy, sensing trouble, and the sniper team sets up to cover the nearby buildings.

While they scan the horizon, the team from vehicle two goes in to check the damage.  One of the casualties is walking wounded but the other has sustained serious leg wounds and needs urgent evacuation for medical attention.  A helicopter is called for and the commander looks to secure  a landing zone.  There's a area just to the south east and also the south west.  They opt for the south east.  

The orders are given to get the injured to the landing zone ready for the helicopter, and also to wreck the damaged vehicle to prevent its use by any insurgents in the area.

But...hostile eyes are watching the ISAF troops, as attracted by the blast a considerable number of insurgents sneak into the area.

To the south east a scout watches thoughtfully before calling up a large force of fighters.

And from the north, other fighters settle into position ready to spring a nasty trap.

From the south east, fighters armed with AK's and RPGs swarm forwards to cut off the hated ISAF soldiers.

As the ISAF troops escort their injured friends from the wreckage to the safety of another vehicle, the insurgents open fire.  Caught in a crossfire the ISAF are cut to ribbons. 

The insurgent RPGs scream into the vehicles but burst against the armour with little effect.

Dragging their increasing number of injured aboard, the surviving soldiers take the lead vehicle back west away from the first choice of landing zone.  The western zone would have to do.

The insurgents swarm forwards to lay down RPG fire into the retreating ISAF vehicles...

And their fire is joined by a second insurgent force emerging to the west to cut off the ISAF escape.

They rake the ISAF vehicles with small arms fire and wild RPG shots.  ISAF top gunners take swarms of fire and soldier after soldier is injured manning the heavy weapons.  Many insurgents are killed but more keep coming, apparently unconcerned with their losses.  

With both casevac landing zones cut off, the helicopter and its supporting Apache gunship are kept out of the area by a buzzing swarm of speculative RPG shots.  Finally one such bomb hits home on a packed ISAF vehicle which 'brews up', killing one of the occupants and seriously wounding the rest.

As more gunships flock to the area, the insurgents slink away having scored a solid victory over the ISAF forces.  The valley would remain in insurgent hands for the time being.

So we played another game of the Force on Force rules from Ambush Alley, using the assymetric warfare rules.  As ever its a tough fight for the regulars and very difficult for them to achieve their objectives, despite their powerful weaponry and general tactical superiority.

This battle started out fairly slow for the insurgents and it was looking like an easy win for the ISAF, but as the turns ground on, more insurgents turned up, crucially carrying a lot of RPGs.  In the end the ISAF just couldn't get away quick enough and were overwhelmed by firepower.  To win the scenario, the ISAF had to evacuate the casualties and wreck the damaged vehicle.  The insurgents however managed to keep the helicopters off and do a lot of damage, gaining the deserved win.

All told a cracking bash with what is an excellent ruleset.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Sudan 1882 - The Flight of Lady Wells

The Mahdist Uprising has caused terrible trouble for the British in Egypt, not least the worry that many Europeans are becoming stranded as the rebels of the Mahdi take control of the roads and countryside.  The authorities in Khartoum have received word from Lady Catherine Wells that she intends to leave Egypt until the trouble dies down.  Unfortunately the roads from her home in Dilling to Khartoum are not safe.  Therefore General Gordon has despatched the erstwhile Lieutenant Henry Sweet to escort the good Lady Wells to safety.

With the road out of Dilling towards Umm Ruwaba watched by Mahdists, Lt. Sweet has instead taken their little party through friendly tribal territories to the south of the road, cutting out the troubled ground around El Obeid. 

The journey has none-the-less been difficult and most of Lady Well’s horses have died in the blazing desert heat.  The delays resulting from this have seen the party's water reserves are running dangerously low and so they have stopped at an oasis in a shallow wadi to restock their water tun.


Unfortunately, a Mahdist raiding force has spotted the British and decided to attack.  The skirmish begins at approximately 11 am with a small group of Ansar supported by some fierce Beja tribesmen (the Hadendowa 'Fuzzy Wuzzies' have yet to become fully involved in the uprising) and a shaky, poorly trained and ill-supplied unit of Ansar Jihadiyya armed with muskets.

Lady Wells, no shrinking violet at the best of times breaks out her fowling piece while Maddie, her maid in waiting, checks her Webley revolver.  The Egyptian regulars with them trot forwards to set up a firing line to sort out these Mahdist fiends.

As the Beja storm down the slope into the wadi, Lt. Sweet ushers the recalcitrant Lady Wells forwards towards the oasis.  He's keen to corral the party into a makeshift 'square'.

Over to the east of the oasis, the Ansar let out great cries of 'Allahu Akbar' and stormed forwards to get to grips with the hated Imperialists.

Some of the Ansar rode swift horses into the fray, their vicious swords swirling in the desert dust...

...and they crashed into the stout British defenders holding the thin red line around the baggage and particularly the precious water cart.

Lady Wells, despite making it to the safety of the makeshift square, found herself in the midst of a swirling melee and facing the fearsome sight of the slaver Abdullahi Al Zobeir. She would fetch a good price on the slave markets in Darfur.

However, the British and Egyptian troops were able to bring down Abdullahi Al Zobeir and inflict serious losses on the Ansar.  They broke off and left the British to their victory.

Their water resupplied, they made camp for the night and set off for Umm Ruwaba the next morning.

So we set up for a second go at the scenario, this time swapping sides.

This time the British have advanced to hold the oasis itself, and the Ansar are massed in an attack from the east.

While the British poured volley fire into the Ansar to the east, a small number of Ansar and Ansar Jihadiyya sneaked in from the north to make a bid to carry off the prized white woman.  Sustained British and Egyptian fire butchered them.

Meanwhile, back at the oasis, the Ansar cavalry were shot to pieces, but the Beja led the infantry into the fray, unconcerned with the causalities caused by the withering British fire.  The Egyptian regulars made less of an impression with some terrible marksmanship.

The Beja and Ansar tore the Egyptians to pieces while the British stood firm, but the way was opened to the British water cart.

The Ansar swarmed forwards and smashed the vital British water reserves.  Disaster!!  The Mahdists withdrew leaving many dead in the dust.  But their sacrifice had paid off and now, two days from safety the British were without water and were unlikely to survive the journey to Umm Ruwaba without dying of thirst.

Two excellent, fun games which were difficult for both sides to win.  The British had to drive off the Mahdists without losing Lady Wells, the water cart or any British units, whereas the Mahdists had to capture Lady Wells, or destroy or carry off the water cart.  We used our own 'Pulped!' rules and this was the first time we'd used them for asymmetric warfare where one side lacked firearms.  

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Durham Wargames Group Open Day 2012

Today was my club's annual open day.  We have it every year and it always seems to come round quicker than expected!  So Durham Wargames Group has a residency at the Vane Tempest Community Association, and every year we take over the ground floor for our little show.  

The grand entrance.  Surprisingly few people in the photo, given the crowd milling about outside!  Vane Tempest has a small cafe there now and they were open and appeared to be doing a brisk trade.  

The show's spread out over the two main halls.  The larger one was very busy, and this year we saw lots of traders attending.  Each year they seem to bring more stock too so I guess things are looking good in the wargames world, despite this recession the bankers and governments seem to want us to have.  

Good to catch up with our local boys, the Pendraken crew as ever!  Things are going from strength to strength for them, what with the new premises and all.  Still, they do produce 'god's own scale' (10mm) figures, so...

I think this is the first year I haven't purchased from Pendraken at our show (sorry chaps).  I'm being disciplined though and trying not to buy too much new until i've made a dent in my lead mountain.  I've still got a heap of Pendraken's Franco Prussian War French to paint up, as well as a bunch of their excellent Dungeon World stuff...  However, we're talking about doing the new version of DBA (v.3, currently released in draft I believe) in 10mm so i'll have to get a move on with the painting as i'll undoubtedly want Pendraken's lovely new Romans or Carthaginians for that.

Pendraken's stand

We always have a good few display games, but this year there were only two due to the interest from so many traders!

Here we have a small I Ain't Been Shot Mum game from the Too Fat Lardies stable, and the rules author and great man himself Richard Clarke (grey T-shirt) is on hand to explain how it all works! 

Our club put on the other game, a rather marvellous looking WWI board, slapped together specially for today (well done chaps).

My god, its a barren featureless desert out there...

Hello? Yes, yes, I'd like to leave a message for the head of the Flying Corps, please. That's Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Massingbird-Massingbird, VC, DFC and Bar. Message reads "Where are you you bastard". 

Don't forget your stick Lieutenant 
Rather, sir. Wouldn't want to face a machine gun without this. 

Meanwhile, over in the second hall, things were very busy, and rather hot and cramped.  We're getting to be beyond our space limit I think!

The Irregular chaps brought their vast range along again.  It never ceases to amaze me what you can get from them!  I must say their 6mm and 10mm stuff on display caught my eye.  Good quality too.  I might have to use them to fill in any 10mm gaps In my DBA project.

The excellent Museum Miniatures of course.  Dave's little lead chaps have populated most of my 15mm armies for years.  In fact, besides the odd diversion into Essex Miniatures, and few Irregular Minis i'd say 95% of my 15mm stuff comes from Museum.  The sizing can be a bit erratic, but get it from the shows and you can make sure that doesn't happen.  Dave's a top chap too and his minis are my 'go to' 15's.

Charlie's Northumbria Games, specialist board game supplier (and member of Durham Wargames!)

Under the Bed had a good stock of the A Very British Civil War books and some jolly nice looking Heath Robinson vehicles on sale.  Of course my Chopwell Communists made it into the second source book The Gathering Storm pt 1 Scotland and the North which was jolly nice.  

The traders in full

Museum Miniatures -
Rathbone Games -
Northumbria Games -
Irregular Miniatures -
Colonel Bill’s -
Four A Miniatures -
Under The Bed -
Ainsty Castings -
Scheltrum Minatures -
Graham’s Wuerkshoppe 
Dave Thomas
Pendraken Miniatures -
Worley Books
Games of War -
AW Miniatures -
Gateshead Gaming -
Tumbling Dice -
Trading Post and Miniature Warrior
Hoka Hey Wargaming -

Also the 'Durham Pals' historical and re-enactment chaps turned up with their WWI kit.  Very friendly and informative they were too.  Thanks chaps!  

Associated with the Durham Light Infantry Museum the Durham Pals are gearing up over the next two years for the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI.  If you're interested in getting involved, contact the chaps at the DLI Museum, or email:

I think this is their Yahoo group, and I believe they can regularly be seen at the marvellous Beamish Museum.  

Incidentally, if you're interested in reading more about the Durham and north east soldiers in WWI I'd highly recommend these books from my friend John Sheen.  His original research focusses on following the stories of the individuals involved, and makes great use of primary source material such as postcards sent by the soldiers and their families.  

Overall, it looked like this year was another success for our little show.  Preparations for next year begin tomorrow!