Saturday, August 31, 2013

Modern Irregulars

    In trying to get my stuff ready for my "Cuba Libre" project, I spend all morning painting and basing up one of the troop elements, which I suppose I'm calling my "Modern Irregulars" (don't know what else to call them).  They are from the 10mm Pendraken Falklands range, using Brit SAS and Argentinian Special Forces.  I painted them up (rather garishly in some cases) as wearing civilian clothes with a bit of military kit.
    In Cuba Libre I envision using these for:
-CLA Special Operations forces (in urban/clan scenarios)
-CLA Popular Forces (recently raised militia in the fight for liberation)
-Drug Cartels
-Hezbollah during the two incursions into Lebanon, as well as in Syria and CT ops worldwide
-Sadr militia during OIF
-IRGC for OEF, OIF, Syria, and CT ops worldwide
-Taliban for OEF (Afghan and Pakistan)
-Insurgent/Militia/Warlord hangers on for Somalia/Rwanda/Liberia
-Al Qaeda for OEF (Afghan, Pakistan, CT ops worldwide)
And those are just the ones I know of!  Of course, they will be used wherever and whenever I think they're appropriate.  Here's the pics:
 The whole force, 51 men in (only) five poses.
 Top is the Argie rifle, bottom and Argie with an SMG (which I'm using for leadership).  Hope you dig the civvies.  They're also wearing masks.  I keep wanting to put gloves on guys, but I'm having a problem with this in 10mm.  I can't seem to find a color that sticks out without looking ridiculous.  Using black or brown just seems to blend into the weapons or clothing.
 A couple of the Brit rifles, top w/SLR and bottom with M-16.
 Brit SAS w/M-203.
Here's a closeup to give you a look at the face-masks.

I'm sure they're not the most beautiful things, and I was scared for a bit when I was about halfway through painting them, but I'll tell you, I'm happy with how they turned out and I think they'll work perfectly for what I need them to do.  I mean, tell me those guys can't be Spec Ops guys anywhere in the world, or Cartel in Central America, or Hezbollah/IRGC in Lebanon.  Maybe a stretch for Iraq and Afghanistan, but I think they'll be close enough for me (though I do have some good looking Taliban from Minifigs).

Next up on the paintbench is some Castro-regime forces.  


6mm British Line Infantry

    Well, so far no games this week, and I'm not sure if any will happen this weekend either, despite the holiday weekend.  What I've been working on all week and all day today has been painting.  I got a fresh bag o'goodies from Pendraken for my "Cuba Libre" and French Indo-China projects, as well as some Baccus 6mm cavalry for my Brits and French.  So I pulled everything out, cleaned it up, glued it on popsicle sticks, and got it primed (I always use khaki).
    I spent a couple hours each evening finishing up a total of 40 strips of Brit Line Infantry.  It's cool having them done, but I still have quite a bit on my bench here at the house, and the sinking realization that I only own about 20% of what I will need to complete this project.  So not only do I need to spend a @#$-ton of cash to get there, but I also have about 3 million more hours of painting, just for my Napoleons...
    Here's what I finished this weekend:
 The whole shebang, minus the command stands, which I haven't finished.  I'm also waiting on a pack of 60 x 30 MDF bases for this project.
 My 'blues.'
 My 'greens.'
 My 'yellows.'
    My 'buffs.'  I hope this is historically accurate.  The stuff I was looking at said that the red-flagged regiments had either red or buff cuffs.  I tried a red, but it didn't stand out enough from their red jackets, so I went with buff.  Come to think of it, I think it's actually supposed to be white, but I went with buff because I wanted a different color than the crossbelts, which I wanted to really pop.

Hope you like them.


Friday, August 30, 2013

Cuba Libre!

    I'm moving ahead with my pseudo-, sort of modern Imagi-Nation.  My concept is the 'liberation' of the island state of Cuba by a government in exile, which then becomes a minor ally of the United States and small player on the international stage.  So first, my disclaimer:

The point of this scenario is simply to provide a launching board for quasi-realistic, semi-plausible 'modern' (post WWII) wargaming.  This is strictly apolitical, with no desire to become mired in real-world, factionalized argument or in-fighting.  While some actual names of world leaders, movements, militaries, and locations will be used, again this is no statement politically, socially, culturally, or morally, it is simply a vehicle to draw interesting wargames in interesting locales with a small bit of real-life history.

So, with all that being said (and hopefully understood and accepted), I now write a timeline of the Liberation of Cuba, from 1963 to the present, providing us a bit of ahistorical hindsight, with the overall goal being to map out my concept and wargaming plans:

1.  1961: Following the Bay of Pigs debacle, a group of displaced Cubans, including some survivors of the Bay of Pigs excursion, gathered in Miami, Florida, to regroup, reorganize, and devise a plan to continue their attempts to oust the Castro regime, replacing it with themselves.  The primary focus of this group is to unite displaced Cubans, primarily those residing in the United States, and to lobby the US government to support, assist, and otherwise back both soft and armed campaigns to supplant the Castro regime.  Through various US presidential administrations the "Free Cuba Government in Exile" (FCGE) was given malleable promises that amounted to only lip service to the FCGE's cause.

2.  1983: The US government intervened militarily on the island of Grenada to rescue US university students as well as to counter Cuban influence.  With the US military undertaking direct combat operations against the Cuban military, the leadership of the FCGE was sure the situation was ripe and that the US would support, if not conduct outright, an invasion of Cuba in order to depose the Castro regime.  However, the US government did not wish to inflame the situation with the USSR any further, and furthermore, the only 'invasion force' the FCGE was able to muster was a group of approximately 1200 volunteers who were unarmed, untrained Cuban exiles spread throughout the US and Caribbean.  At this juncture the FCGE decided US support would not be forthcoming now or in the future, and so a plan was set to act unilaterally.

The FCGE took steps to consolidate the various Cuban exiles worldwide, holding shadow 'democratic' elections which locked into place its power structure.  Various government branches were established (Ministries of Labor, Agriculture, Information, Economy, Law, etc...) to formalize the FCGE's place as the future Cuban government, as well as to serve as a means of redress for the varying concerns and agendas of the diverse exile population.  As part of this reorganization, the Cuban Liberation Army (CLA) was formed, with its strategic goal being the overthrow of the Castro regime by force of arms.

The leadership of the CLA focused solely on its strategic goal, and immediately devised a plan to essentially sub-divide the CLA into an unconventional warfare cadre to infiltrate Cuba and begin "grass-roots" operations to recruit, form, and train indigenous forces to support the second arm of the CLA, a force designed to 'break-in' and conduct conventional military operations against armed resistance by members of the Castro regime.

The CLA set about recruiting, forming, and training a professional force of soldiers for the upcoming, inevitable invasion of Cuba.  The CLA found recruitment relatively easy, as there seemed to be an ample supply of Cuban exiles desirous of taking part in a great campaign to 'free' their homeland, as well as a goodly amount of third country nationals willing to fight in Cuba for various reasons, such as hostility to oppressive regimes, being staunch anti-communists, a desire to see a normalization of US-Cuban relations, the desire to see free markets opened in Cuba (i.e., the desire for Cuba to become a new market), or simply being modern day adventurers.  For these same reasons, private financial backing was never really difficult to secure, easily sustaining the FCGE as well as satisfying a great deal of the CLA's procurement agenda.

A great deal of effort was made by the CLA to recruit exiles currently serving in other countries militaries; of course the military forces of the United States were worked very heavily, but recruits were also found in many Central and South American militaries, and some found as far away as Israel, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines.  Indeed, upon insertion of Unconventional Warfare (UCW) elements into Cuba proper, a number of ordinary members of the population as well as members of the Cuban military forces were recruited and exfiltrated to the United States.  New recruits were 'encouraged' to join their nations' perspective militaries in order to gain valuable training, skill sets, and experience.  Overall, this method of recruitment resulted in a very experienced, battle tested force, though one that had not operated together.

Training and Staging areas were an initial conundrum for the CLA as the United States seemed the obvious choice, but its laws strictly forbade the types of things the CLA was doing and planning, and several times the CLA found itself in hardship as members were arrested and property seized after running afoul of the law, both in the US and in international waters/arms markets.  Much of this dilemma was solved when the governments of Mexico and Colombia entered into talks and agreements with the FCGE regarding the acquisition and storage of weapons, as well as the billeting and training of members of the CLA.  Ultimately these talks were successful due to a shared distaste for the Castro regime, particularly once it began supporting the sale and transfer of illegal narcotics (much like Mssr. Noriega) in the mid-1980s.

The greatest challenge facing the CLA was the fact it did not know when the upcoming invasion would occur, and a large amount of its key personnel were spread throughout the globe in ongoing military operations.

3.  February 1990: After much deliberation, in January 1989 the FCGE made the fateful decision to launch the long-awaited invasion of Cuba in January 1990.  The CLA began marshaling its forces and conducting a rigorous training schedule to prepare its forces for combat operations.  In the overall scheme of things the training could be called nothing but successful, but there were still gaping holes in key leadership positions as many of these men were still serving in their adoptive country's military, though all were able to take part in some training and exercises by taking personal leave.

The invasion was actually pushed from January 1990 to February 1990 due to the fact a significant number of key personnel were mobilized and deployed into combat operations when the US military conducted Operation Just Cause in December 1989.  Immediately following the cessation of combat operations, these men took leave and deserted the US military in order to join their comrades for the upcoming invasion (the US government later pardoned all deserters).

UCW elements had been present in Cuba for the better part of four years at this point, recruiting, conducting PsyOps missions, conducting reconnaissance and surveillance of Cuban military and government forces and facilities, establishing arms and supply caches throughout the island, forming and training "Popular Force" units comprised of members of the local population (with UCW cadres), and establishing intelligence source networks country-wide.  In the seventh months prior to the invasion (a planned six months, but one extra owing to Just Cause), the remainder of the CLA UCW were infiltrated into Cuba, where preparations for the upcoming fight were finalized.

On February 1, 1990, the invasion took place.  Airborne elements dropped in the dead of night to establish blocking positions around the beachhead, while UCW/Popular Force elements struck key units and facilities of the Cuban government and military.  Later that morning conventional forces came ashore at the (you guessed it) infamous Bay of Pigs landing site, quickly moving inland, while the fledgling CLA air force worked hurriedly to establish air superiority and deny the Cuban navy use of its coastal patrol craft.  Heavy fighting ensued, with the Castro regime putting up stiff resistance.  At one point, a Venezuelan parachute battalion dropped on the island to assist the Castro forces, led by a dashing young officer who would, upon his return to Venezuela, would take power there via military coup on a populist platform of solidarity against the Yanquis and their puppets.  This discord between Cuba and Venezuela would rear its ugly head in the not so distant future.

Though heavy fighting occurred against determined resistance, the results were never really in doubt.  The Cuban military was a shell of its former self following decades of communist corruption, over a decade of fighting in Angola, and a budget practically slashed to zero as Soviet aid dissipated (the Soviet Union had exhausted itself and was on the verge of its colossal crash and breakup).  Troops sat listlessly in their barracks, or worse, forced into labor for roads and agriculture.  Much of the Cuban military's first-line equipment had been stranded in Angola upon the Cubans' withdrawal, while the remainder sat on airstrips, slips, and vehicle parks, unused and neglected in terms of maintenance.  Due to economic hardship, two-thirds of the Cuban military's manpower was lost to desertion and budget cuts which moved a substantial portion of the Cuban soldiers out of active military units and into National Guard or Provincial units, many of which sported equipment of WWII vintage (both US and Soviet).

The FCGE and CLA also found themselves beneficiaries of the vast majority of popular support, despite the Castro regime's attempts to paint them as Yanqui puppets.  CLA PsyOps and Information Operations were very successful in countering Castro's claims (pointing at CLA aircraft and exclaiming "there are no stars on those wings!  Cuba for Cubans!" soon became a battlecry), and this coupled nicely with a population still able to remember life before Castro and willing to contrast that experience with the current situation.  This support swelled the ranks of the CLA's Popular Forces and provided a steady stream of intelligence on the Castro regime's movements and intentions.

I am not putting in a date for the successful resolution/end of fighting as I don't know when that will be, it will depend on what happens on the tabletop.  All I know is that it will (must?) be successful and won't last past January 1991, because...

4.  January 1991: The new Cuban government consolidates power, establishes itself as an interim government and holds elections not long after, with little change as the leadership is largely held as heroes owing to its success in casting off the Castro regime.  It is quickly recognized by most nations (the Western nations in particular) and the UN, and becomes a close ally of the United States.  The most significant issue to hand for the international community was Saddam Hussein's August 1990 invasion of the oil-rich nation of Kuwait and the US preparing an international coalition to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait.  Cuba, desiring to become a player on the international stage, quickly organized to provide a force to take part in Operation Desert Storm.

The Cuban military quickly reorganized itself.  The majority of the military was subdivided into two parts: the vast majority formed the Cuban National Defense Forces, which, as the name suggests, concerned itself solely with defense of the homeland.  The remainder, formed largely from former members of the CLA, was organized into the Cuban Expeditionary Force (I do not intend to have any further fighting in Cuba, so the remainder of my wargaming will concern itself only with the CEF).  The vast majority of the CEF was quickly dispatched to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where it formed, refit, and trained to participate in Desert Storm.

As a relatively small force, and, due to the large expanse of desert to be covered and crossed, the United States agreed to provide heavy equipment the CEF.  A number of M1A1 Abrams, AAV7 amphibious armored vehicles, LAV-25 armored cars, and HMMWVs were provided to allow the CEF contingent to perform as a mechanized Cavalry Brigade.  The US also supplied a detachment of AV-8 Harriers and UH-60 Blackhawks, which the CEF combined with a Command Element and Combat Service Support Element to form an Air-Ground Task Force ("Task Force Cordova") on the USMC MAGTF model.  Additionally, highly-trained operators of the CEF were provided rotary assets and placed under the command of US special operations forces to conduct Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (VBSS) missions on Gulf shipping as well as raids on Gas and Oil platforms in the Gulf.

Task Force Cordova was charged with being a lead element to conduct reconnaissance for initial breach of Iraqi defenses on the Saudi-Kuwait border, then to perform classic screening operations during the advance through the open desert to Kuwait City, then to screen the city while coalition allies took the city.  In the event, fighting was extraordinarily heavy (ahistorically, but remember the casualty projections?) at the berm and through the Iraqi defense in depth, with TF Cordova facing particularly heavy opposition when leading the advance and becoming encircled when coalition allies proved less than enthusiastic/aggressive.  TF Cordova then served as a 'fire brigade' in the fighting through the initial defensive line, screened during the advance to Kuwait City, and then once again became a fire brigade during the intense fighting in the city.  Their toughness and tenacity drew accolades from General Schwartzkopf and international renown for Cuba's martial prowess.

Meanwhile, the CEF Special Operations unit took part in a number of successful actions in the Gulf, earning the respect of their peers.  However, near the end of combat operations a VBSS was made on what was thought to be an Iraqi ship but turned out to be an Iranian ship.  Much of the details are still murky, but the incident developed into a fierce fight between members of the IRGC and the CEF Spec Ops, with the Iranian ship ultimately being sunk.  This incident became a source of acrimony between Cuba and Iran, which flared into armed conflict between the two nations (usually by proxy) numerous times over the years.

5.  1992-Present: Cuba, Mexico, Guatemala, and Colombia entered into a formal alliance to fight the explosion of illegal narcotics and the Drug Cartels.  These operations were largely conducted by CEF Special Operations forces and riverine elements throughout South and Central America and the Caribbean.

6.  1992-1993: The CEF sent a contingent to Somalia as part of the UN-element sent to restore peace.  Largely a dull routine, several times heavy fighting was witnessed in Mogadishu and its surrounding areas.

7.  1993-Present: Ongoing Counter-Terrorist Operations against Iran and Hezbollah.  Iran, eager to get revenge on Cuba for the sinking of its vessel during Desert Storm, commissions Hezbollah to act on its behalf.  In early 1993 Hezbollah operatives place a truck bomb at the Cuban Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia,  The subsequent detonation demolishes the small building, killing 34 Cuban nationals and staff.  Following this incident the Cuban military takes every opportunity to strike back at Hezbollah and Iran, wherever they may be found.

8.  1993: Not long after the embassy bombing, Israel finds itself drawn into southern Lebanon, fighting to in a failed attempt to exterminate Hezbollah.  Cuba is quick to show its support of the Israelis right to aggressively defend themselves by sending a CEF contingent straight into Lebanon.  This incursion meets with mixed results at best, and the CEF contingent is withdrawn before the year is out.

9.  1995-1995: The CEF sent contingents to Rwanda and Liberia, evacuating diplomatic staff and their families as well as engaging in peace-keeping operations.  At times, very heavy fighting broke out between CEF elements and local warlords.

10.  1995-1999: The CEF sent a contingent to Bosnia, with conventional forces conducting peace-keeping operations that several times deteriorated into heavy fighting.  CEF Special Operations forces also took part in the 'war criminal hunts.'

11.  1995-1996: Traditional border disputes, as well as the Counter-Narcotics pact and being seen as Yanqui puppets led to war between Colombia and Venezuela.  The CN pact as well as Cuba's desire for retribution regarding Venezuela's interference in their fight for liberation sees the largest CEF contingent yet deployed sent to Colombia to take part in large-scale, conventional military operations.  Heavy fighting is experienced on a regular basis, and the war ultimately ends with Venezuela withdrawing and suing for peace.

12.  1999-2001: Acrimony between South Africa on the one hand and Namibia and Angola on the other develops into open hostility and then outright combat.  Former ally Angola, seeing Cuba's renewed vigor in international military events, extends a request to Cuba for military assistance.  Cuba, of course, is now its own exact opposite ideologically, refuses the request out of hand.  Following the Cuban withdrawal from Angola in the late 1980's, a great many Cuban military personnel decided to remain in Angola, as well as a large number of medical personnel and diplomatic personnel and their families.  Following Cuba's denial of military assistance in the current conflict with South Africa, the Angolan government set upon a campaign of terror against Cuban expatriots and their families.  Cuba, unable to stand by while its citizens are being mistreated, and so it sends a large contingent of the CEF to South Africa.  There the CEF takes part in particularly vicious fighting on a large scale, before ultimately Angola and Namibia are dissuaded of their expansionist agendas.

13.  2001-Present: Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).  Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, members of CEF Special Operations are side by side with their US counterparts on entry into Afghanistan.  Due to its history with the country, CEF elements volunteer to deploy to and focus their efforts on the border with Iran, in order to minimize its influence in the rebuilding of Afghanistan by ISAF.  Additionally, as part of the overall OEF, CEF forces are also active in CT operations in the southern Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Pakistan, though by the end of 2005 CEF forces are largely operating only in Afghanistan in support of OEF.

14.  2003-2009: Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).  CEF mechanized forces are on-hand for the blitzkrieg to Baghdad, taking part in heavy, conventional fighting.  While much of the CEF is redeployed at the conclusion of combat operations, a CEF contingent remains in Iraq until 2009, taking part in counterinsurgency operations and the surge, though much of its time is again spent on the border with Iran to minimize its influence in the rebuilding of Iraq.

15.  2006: When the Israelis launch Operation Cast Lead in southern Lebanon, once again the CEF launches a contingent to strike back at Hezbollah.

16.  2008: A small force of the CEF is conducting joint training exercises with the Georgian military when Russia intervenes in that country regarding the South Ossetia issue.  The Cubans want no part of a war with Russia, but the CEF contingent finds itself fighting for its life just to depart the area.

17.  2010-2011: As part of coalition forces' campaign to depose Muammar Khaddafi, the CEF deploys members of its Special Operations and UCW forces to assist.

18.  2012-2013: As part of its efforts to counter Iran at every turn, following Iran's deployment of IRGC forces to Syria, the CEF sends a small contingent to Syria to assist in the overthrow of Assad's regime.

Well, whaddaya think?  Pretty ambitious, eh?  I have no time frame in which I seek to accomplish all this, this is just a framework to get some interesting wargames in.  Again, I want to repeat that: this is just a framework to play wargames with, and I sincerely hope I haven't offended/pissed off anyone with my planned timeline.  I did my best to stay away from politics, but a certain amount of that couldn't be avoided in order to provide some reason to why what's happening is happening (war as an extension of politics?).

To be honest, I'm pretty happy with everything up until about 2010; I'm not all that hot about Libya/Syria, but my creative juices have kind of dried up in terms of places my Cubans go to war with/for.  If anyone has actually been able to stick it out and read all this, I'd love to here some scenarios (locale and semi-plausible justification) for 2010 to near future.

For everything I 'screwed up' historically in my timeline, please cut me some slack.  I'm sure I made some mistakes in terms of what actually occurred, but in a lot of places I purposefully messed things around a little bit to make it easier (or better) to wargame.  The best example is the (real) Cuban military in 1990; I made the stuff up about leaving gear in Angola, the cutting of Soviet aid (that early), and the military being reduced.  Some of that stuff happened a little bit (the Cuban military was reorganized as an anti-corruption measure), and certainly the loss of Soviet aid has had a significant impact (the Cuban military is now largely seen only as a defensive force), but they still have a boatload of halfway modern gear and way, way, way too many troops for me to fight out at skirmish/platoon level.  So I knocked the overall quality of their gear down as well as I reduced the number of their troops to about a sixth of what it really is so that I can have some wargames without getting my butt kicked (by sheer numbers and overwhelming firepower).  If this bothers you, you should probably stop following as you're probably going to flip when you see I'm using Pendraken Falklands Brits for most of my CEF and Pendraken Falklands Argentinians for Cubans, Venezuelans, Angolans, and Iraqis.  Pendraken NVA will serve as a lot of Popular Forces and militia/National Guard types, and the Pendraken Falkands SAS and Argie SF will be dressed up as civilians for terrorists and drug cartel members.  I'm just warning you...

One last thought; I've been toying with the idea of not even playing all these in order.  I don't want to mess with the storyline (I'll be following the exploits of certain, key individuals and wouldn't want to have him distinguish himself for gallantry in 2001 but then play a game set in 1999 where he gets killed in action!), but I suspect this would help keep things fresh (i.e., I don't feel like playing the 'next' scenario, I want to have a fight over here between these guys and those guys, not the boring old guys I've been beating up on).  Any ideas on how to overcome this obstacle, or do I just have to go in chronological order (keep in mind, I don't want to play a campaign where the 'cool' guys can never get killed, I want there to be a risk to it)?

Well, I've got to get to painting (got a bunch of Pendraken and some plastic palm trees).


Sunday, August 25, 2013

First Go at Operation Jupiter

    I had time for another game today, and I'd bought Britton Publishers' "Operation Jupiter" scenario book, which is right up my alley, and I highly recommend.  So, this Batrep might look like my other ones, but it's straight out of the book and I used element-based activation (as opposed to individual activation), using Angel Barracks' "KR-16" rules (slightly modified).  Here's the setup from the book:

I. 130 Brigade Attacks
10 July 1944: On the extreme left of the tight Odon Bridgehead, 5/Dorsets shook out into their assault formations. Their FUP (forming up point) was in the valley, out of sight of the enemy, just to the south of the village of Fontaine Etoupefour. Here Nebelwerfers engaged all likely British positions in the valley below, inflicting the Dorset's first casualties of the day.

1. les Duanes Farm Complex
5/Dorsets are the leading troops of 130 Brigade's attack into the depths of the German defenses on the low ground to the east of Hill 112. Their first objective is a German salient centered on the les Duanes farm complex.
7 Company, 2/22 SS-Panzer Grenadier Regiment holds the stoutly built stone farm-buildings, which they have developed into the central feature of a forward strong point.
British Forces
• 1x 4-man Platoon HQ of regular to veteran troop quality
• 3x 10-man Rifle Section of green to veteran troop quality
• 4x Churchill VII with 5-man crew of regular to professional troop quality
• 2x Fire Mission: 2-gun battery (25-pounder) with 85% availability

--I gave the Brits a Lt, Plt Sgt, rifle, and 2" mortar as the 4-man HQ group.  The rifle sections were each split into a 5-man Bren Group and a 5-man Rifle Group.  Instead of Churchills I used M-4 Shermans (I don't have any Churchills).  Instead of the 25-pounder battery, I gave the Brits two fire missions from 2 3" mortars.

German Forces
• 1x 6-man Platoon HQ of professional to veteran troop quality
• 1x 10-man Rifle Squad of regular to veteran troop quality (d4 panzerfaust 60)
• 2x Pak 40 ATG with 5-man crew of regular & professional troop quality
• 1x Tripod Mounted MG42 with 4-man crew of veteran troop quality
• 1x Fire Mission: 6-tube battery (Nebelwerfer-41) with 95% availability

--I gave the Germans a Lt, a Plt Sgt, a PzSchreck team, and two rifleman for the 6-man HQ, which essentially became the Lt and a five-man PzSchreck team headed by the Plt Sgt.  The 10-man rifle squad was broken into two five-man sections, each with NCO, LMG team, one PzFst, and one rifleman.  The tripod MG-42 had a two-man crew, an NCO, and a rifleman.  Both Pak-40 ATGs have four crew and one NCO.  I replaced the Nebelwerfer with one fire mission from two 80mm tubes.

Victory Conditions
The British have eight turns to capture the objective building of les Duanes Farm Complex. The Germans must prevent this.
 Here's the board: 3' x 3', with Brits on left and Germans on right, mostly in the houses.
 The German forces, as outlined above.
 The Brit forces, also outlined above.
 Brit left: 1st Squad Rifle Group (left) and Bren Group (right).  Will be referred to as 1BR and 1BG.
 The Brit center: at rear we have three Shermans (T1, T2, and T3), in fron we have 2RG and 2BG, with the Plt Sgt in the very center.
 The Brit right: we have T4, with the 2"mortar and two 3" mortars to its right (the 2 3" mortars get two fire missions then leave).  In front we have 3RG and 3BG, with Platoon Commander (Lt) and his batman in the center.
 German left: We have 2nd Squad at top left, a Pak-40 at top right (2ATG), and the two 80mm mortars at bottom left (they get one fire mission then leave).
 The German center: upstairs is the HMG team, downstairs is another Pak-40 (left, 1ATG) and the Plt Commander (Lt), and outside to right is the PanzerSchreck team led by the Plt Sgt.
 German right: 1st squad.

Turn 1: 3RG (on far right) moves up at a rapid clip, as does 2RG, while German 2ATG goes on Overwatch.  The Brit Lt moves up on right, and 1RG moves up on left, taking cover in the treeline.  The Brit Plt Sgt moves up in the center, and T4 comes lumbering out, triggering 2ATG on Overwatch; it knocked out T4's main gun.  T3 then pulled up and put a pin on 2ATG, before 1ATG fired and put 3 pins on T3.  Then the German HMG opened up on 2RG, killing three and placing a pin.  T2 moved up and busted 1ATG, killing its NCO (though this wasn't really a factor as the German Lt was right there).  German 2nd Squad lit into 3RG on Brit far right, killing its NCO, with 3BG then cutting loose on 2Sq, killing their NCO and placing a pin (the Germans were to have some pretty spectacular command rolls, despite the pins and losing NCOs).  2BG cut loose on the German HMG upstairs, killing one and placing three pins, while the PzSchreck team knocked out T2.  1BG tried to return the favor, but failed to score a single hit on the PzSchr team (on 8 dice).
    The Germans decided there was no time like the present to use their mortar barrage, splitting fire between 3BG and 2BG, getting one kill and one pin on the former, and one kill and three pins on the latter.  T1 then moved up and hit 1ATG, getting one pin, while the German Lt tried to rally the German HMG team and failed.  The Brit 3" mortars then went after the PzSch team (3 kills and 1 pin), and so the 2" decided to throw in some HE there as well, to no effect.  Then the German 1st Squad, on the Brit far left, decided to move up and fire on 1RG, to no effect.
 Overview: All Brit tanks are out in the open, with one KO and one damaged, while the Brits have two RGs in the open before the German positions.  At the very top we have 1RG and 1Sq facing off in the treeline, while the German HMG and 1ATG, in the large house, and the PzSchr team have racked up a lot of casualties/pins.
 Brit left, with 1RG and 1BG, as well as surviving T1 and KOed T2.
 Brit center: Both BGs in treeline got stung a bit, while the RGs were roughly treated.  T3, on left, took some pins, and T4, on right, got its gun knocked out.
 German left, with some pins on 2ATG (right).
 The German house, with HMG upstairs, 1 ATG downstarirs, and the PzSchr team outside, all pretty beat up.
 1RG and 1Sq facing off on the far left, with a few pins on 1Sq already.

Turn 2: The Germans are up first, and 1ATG fires up T1, but fails to penetrate, placing a couple pins.  The Brit Plt Sgt runs back to support T1, who then manages to activate, putting two more pins on 1ATG.  Out comes another card, which is used to activate the two 3" mortars, which hits 2ATG (1 kill, their NCO), and the PzSchr team (1 kill, no one left but the Plt Sgt).  Meanwhile, the Brit Lt falls back to support T3 and T4.  T3 activated and put a 75mm round into 2ATGs house, putting two more pins, though somehow 2ATG managed to activate (needing a 6!), and knocked out T3.
    Then 3BG fails its command roll and 2BG puts two kills and two pins on the German HMG team.  1BG helps out 1RG in the treeline but shooting up 1st Squad, getting two more pins, though 1RG fails its command roll!  But then so does 1st Squad, so no harm no foul...
    The 2" goes after the German Plt Sgt (sole survivor of the PzSchr team), no hits (I wanted to get him before he could move left and help all the German units over there with their 'pin' problems).  3RG, despite having lost its NCO, is still in relatively good shape, and so it moves forward against 2nd Squad on the Brit far right, but its fire scores 0 hits.  2nd Squad loads a fresh belt and mows down three of 3RG, and the remaining rifleman goes running back towards the Brit Lt.  T4 activates, and uses its MG against 2ATG, killing one, while 2RG goes prone and puts a pin on the German Plt Sgt.
     Things are looking up when the German HMG in the house fails its command roll, but then, miraculously, the German Lt is able to rally off their seven pins (needing to roll a 6, that's what he did).
 Overview: Now we've got two Brit tanks (T2 and T3) burning, with T1 having a few pins but otherwise okay, and T4 missing its main gun.  The Brit RGs in the field are beat to crap, and their supporting BGs are sporting quite a few pins.  Both 1RG and 1BG are looking pretty good though.  The German PzSchr team is gone, and both ATGs are suffering a lot of pins, but the German Lt performed a miracle on the HMG team, rallying off their pins.
 Brit center: Both BGs in the treeline are a bit beat up, while 2RG has hit the dirt (green bead).  The Plt Sgt is choking on the smoke behind the KOed T2.
 Brit right: Remaining rifleman of 3RG is at far right, running to meet up with the Lt, behind T4.
 The German house: Plt Sgt at far right amongst the bodies of the PzSchr team, the HMG upstairs sporting three dead man (but no pins!), and 1ATG with two dead men (and plenty of pins, not pictured because they're in front of the bldg).
 German left: 2nd Squad, at far left, having suffered some casualties but also having just seen off 3RG, and 2ATG on right, sporting a couple dead men and a boatload of pins (wouldn't take much more to get them to run).

Turn 3: T1 activates (with the help of the Lt), and lights up 1ATG, killing two (they have one gunner left) and putting another two pins on them, and the German Lt fails at unpinning them.  T4 goes after 2ATG with its MG, but hits nothing, and the German Plt Sgt sprints left to help 2ATG out, allowing them to activate (incredible!), getting a couple more pins on T4.
    The HMG in the house tears into 1RGs flank, killing one and placing one pin, while 1BG goes after 1Sq, getting a kill and a pin, and the 2" adds another pin (why won't they run?!).  Somehow 2Sq, on Brit far right, manages to activate and go after 3BG, getting another pin on them.
    The surviving 3RG rifle joins the Brit Lt, who rallies T1 while the Plt Sgt rallies T4, and the German 1ATG fails its command roll.  3BG failed its roll, and 2BG went after 2ATG, getting another pin (they're not running because the German Plt Sgt is there).
    In the top treeline, 1RG passes and fires up 1Sq, getting a kill, and helping 1Sq fail its roll.  Lastly, 2RG passed and fired at the HMG, but hit nothing...
 Overview: Still two tanks in operation, though only my top RG is really still fit for fighting, and my bottom two BGs are racking up enough pins that I'm starting to worry they may be out of the fight soon, though the Germans have racked up a lot of pins on both squads and both ATGs.
 Brit left: RG1 still facing off against 1Sq, with help from 1BG at left (T1 has been focusing all its attention on the German ATGs).
 Brit center.  Real happy about the Plt Sgt and Lt rallying the pins off the tanks, now they need to go do that for 2BG and 3BG.
 Another shot of Brit center.
 German center: 1ATG only has one guy left, and the HMG only has two.  The Plt Sgt is at bottom left, running over to help 2ATG.
 German left: Still three guys left at 2ATG (on right), but they've got five pins.  Only two guys left in 2nd Squad, on left, and they've got a few pins of their own.

Turn 4: T1 moves up and fires at the HMG in the house, to no effect.  The German Lt, needing a 6, rallies 1ATG, which is almost impossible and really bad news, because the next thing I know T1 is up in flames.  That wasn't fair...
    T4 charges forward and shoots up 2nd Squad, getting a kill and two pins, while the Lt moves over to 3BG, who passes (despite a whole bunch of pins) and kills two and gets another pin on 2ATG (one gunner left), though the arrival of the German Plt Sgt keeps the remaining crewman from running.  The Brit Plt Sgt moves to 2BG, but they fail their roll anyway...
    1BG and the 2" fire on the German 1st Squad, killing one and getting another pin, though both 1RG and 1st Squad failed their rolls.  Somehow 2ATG passes their roll, but T4 is too far left, and with only one crewman left, he can't get the gun turned.  So he fires an HE round at 3BG, putting two more pins on them.  The last couple guys from 2RG crawled forward toward the German house, hoping to get close enough to eventually lob some grenades in.
 Brit left: despite only a couple pins, I can't get 1RG to activate and finish off 1st Squad, who's barely hanging on.
 German right: the German house; a whole lot of cadavers, and you can just see the green 'prone' bead for 2RG, who's slowly inching their way towards the bldg.
 German left: you can see T4, which just machine-gunned 2nd squad, which is down to one man, and at bottom right you can see 2ATG, which has one man and the German Plt Sgt (and a whole lotta pins).
 Brit right: 3BG with 6 pins, with the platoon commander sitting next to them and the 2" behind them.
 Brit center: 2BG with 4 pins and the Platoon Sergeant.

Turn 5: T4 activates first, pumping machine gun rounds into 2nd Squad's position, getting enough pins to force the machine gunner to abandon his gun and take to the hills.  Then 1RG finally activates and lets 1st Squad have it, causing them to run for the hills too.
    1BG went after the HMG, getting a kill (one man left), while the Plt Sgt rallied 2BG, who fired up 2ATG, causing him to depart the area.
    The German Platoon Sergeant then ran to the house and found the Lieutenant.  "Sir, there's a machine gun upstairs with one man, an ATG in the next room, also with one man, and then there's you and me.  I think it's time to go, Boss."
All that remained of the German force.  I tallied up the casualties:
Brits                                                                               Germans
3 KO tanks                                                                    2 abandoned Pak-40 ATGs
1 damaged tank                                                              N/A
10 WIA/KIA (not including tank crews)                          22 WIA/KIA

It was a hell of a fight, and I'm kinda surprised I carried the day; it certainly looked dark for awhile.  I continue to not be able to handle armor very effectively...  I had a good time, and I've already been eyeing the next scenario in the book.  We'll see what (when?) happens.


Recon on the Run!

    So I was feeling froggy to get my modern Spec Ops guys and modern Mediocre bad guys on the table, and so, with some time to spare before having to entertain some visitors, I quickly set up the board.
    The premise was that a good guy reconnaissance team had spent the last 24 hours with eyes down on the target, before a bad guy patrol somehow stumbled into them  Shots were exchanged, with one of the six-man recon team being hit.  The Lt radio'ed for an immediate extract at the nearest LZ, several hundred meters to their rear, having to carry a wounded man with seemingly the whole bad guy army on their tail!
    For the game itself, I made a few modifications.  Being Special Forces, they got positive modifiers to their command rolls, and in many cases automatically passed them.  In stead of a simple 'pinned/not pinned' concept, the recon guys would accumulate pins, successively making it more difficult to activate, though the Lt and Team Sergeant (Tm Sgt) being in close proximity would add positive modifiers to the command rolls as well.  I also gave the recon team positive mods to shooting and extended (by a couple cm's) their movement.
    The bad guys kept the simple 'pinned/not pinned' mechanism, unpinning on 4+.  Their movement and shooting was normal, thus a little less than the recon team.  The bad guys would have ten guys on the table at any one point, and KIAs on their side were immediately recycled onto the table.  The bad guys started with no one on the table, but when one of their cards came out I would dice to see where they would come on:1-4 on their baseline (left), 5 on top edge, 6 on bottom edge, with the recon team moving from left side to right.

 The good guy recon team, clockwise from left: Tm Sgt (with rifle), Lt (with rifle), grenadier, grenadier, rifle, and wounded man, who has to be carried by a team member.
 The extraction helo.
 The bad guys, who will have these 10 guys on board, with KIA's being recycled continuously.  This was to prove quite a challenge...
 The board, with Recon in their starting positions at left center, and the LZ at bottom right.  Doesn't look that far does it?  The bad guys will enter on left side road on a roll of 1-4, top road on a 5, and bottom road on a 6.  Bad guys showing up on the flanks would also be quite a challenge.
 Another look at the recon team start positions, from the enemy baseline.  Grenadier1 on far left, then Lt, rifle with WIA at center (near road), Tm Sgt, and Grenadier2.
 Turn 1: Two bad guys (BG) come on to left, firing up Gren1 to no effect, who returns fire, KIA 1 pin 1.  More BG come on, Lt pins one, Tm Sgt KIA 1, Gren2 KIA 1, rifleman drags the wounded guy to right, ascending the hill.  A BG gets a pin on Gren 1, then the last BG to enter on left moves up and pops Gren2!  3 BG come on the bottom road.  Recon is down to 4 effectives, 2 WIA.
 Recon main position, Gren1 (w/1 pin) and Lt on right, Tm Sgt and wounded Gren2 on left, BG to front.
 3 BG coming up from bottom road, Recon at top left, with rifle carrying WIA cresting the hill.  LZ is to the right of the field at bottom right.
 Turn 2: 2 BG come on at top road, move up and take rifle/WIA under fire, hitting nothing.  Gren1 lays down fire, hitting nothing(!), falls back, Lt does the same thing (terrible rolling on the firing dice).    BG moves up to Tm Sgt but misses, while 3 BG at bottom move up and fire at rifle/WIA, missing.  Tm Sgt pins BG to his direct front, moves over and picks up WIA Gren2.  Rifle/WIA moves to top of hill, puts down WIA, and fires at bottom BG, KIA 1.  More BG come on front and top.  Pic shows BG to left, Gren1 and Lt at top right, Tm Sgt and WIA Gren2 at bottom center.
 Situation with Rifle/WIA on hill, with two BG remaining, one KIA, and one just coming on.
 Turn 3: Tm Sgt whacks one, shoulders WIA Gren2, and falls back to hill.  Gren1 gets one KIA and moves towards the hill, with Lt doing the same (except not hitting anything!).  Rifle lays down fire, pinning one, before shouldering WIA and continuing to move towards LZ.  Horde of BG in center moves up, gets another pin on Gren1, while BG at bottom get two pins on Rifle/WIA.  More BG come on at front and top.
 Situation on hill, with all of Recon there now.  Tm Sgt carrying WIA Gren2 at top center, with Gren1 (2 pins) and Lt to their right, and Rifle/WIA (two pins) just below them.  Three BG in picture below them.
 BG to front giving chase.
 Turn 4: Tm Sgt w/WIA Gren 2 keeps moving, manages to KIA 1, while Rifle/WIA does the same.  Gren1 pins one and continues to rear, while Lt receives a pin from BG in center.  He returns fire, hitting nothing, then falls back.  Another BG comes on the top side.  Recon is being seriously pushed from front and left (bottom), with stragglers harassing from right (top).
 A closer shot, showing BG at top, Gren1, Lt, and Tm Sgt w/WIA Gren2 on hill, with pinned BG right next to them, and Rifle/WIA in road.
 BG replacement horde coming off their baseline.
 Turn 4: Top BG moves up, fires, somehow missing Rifle/WIA in street, before Lt puts him down and falls back.  The pinned BG on hill unpins, lays into Tm Sgt, but misses.  Tm Sgt, still carrying WIA Gren2, re-pins him and moves down the hill (Recon needs to be getting kills, not pins!).  Gren1, finally showing some Special Forces capability, looks right, puts that BG down in the street, swings left, puts down the pinned BG on the hill, then sprints down the hill.  A whole horde of BG in the center moves up, spraying and praying but ultimately hitting nothing.  Rifle/WIA pops one BG and continues moving.
 Top left is BG horde in center, with Gren1 and Tm Sgt/WIA Gren2 in street, Lt on left side of hedge, and Rifle/WIA at right side of hedge.  Immediately to their right is the stone fence separating them from the LZ.  Things are looking up...
 Turn 6: No they're not.  BGs move up in front onto hill, and pop Gren1 in the street.  The Lt pins one and whacks one, before moving up to WIA Gren1.  Tm Sgt puts down 2 BG and charges through brush, while BGs move up on both flanks and pop the Lt, who falls next to WIA Gren 1!!!  Rifle puts down WIA, turns and fires, hitting nothing.  More BGs enter the table.  The 'whup-whup-whup' of helicopter blades can be heard, and the Blackhawk swoops in over the LZ.  This was not my original intent with the scenario, but things are looking decidedly bleak, with Recon down to two effectives, Tm Sgt and Rifle, who have two WIA with them in the bushes and two WIA (Gren1 and Lt) laying out in the street at center.
    Gren1 getting hit was just one of those unfortunate things, with BGs moving up and getting the drop on him while he was in the open.  With the Lt, I took a calculated risk.  There were only a couple BG cards left in the deck, and I figured they would likely come on to the front (their baseline, needing a 5 or 6 to come on on the flank).  So the Lt bravely moved up to scoop WIA Gren1 out of the line of fire, and BGs magically appeared at the flanks to gun him down too...
 Closeup of Recon's position, with Tm Sgt on left and Rifle on right (with two pins).
 BGs advancing from front (on street and hill) and on right (street).  Additionally, there would be a steady stream of BGs from the left coming on regularly.
 Turn 7: BGs move up in center, and Rifle and Tm Sgt both get kills before the Tm Sgt is dropped!  Meanwhile, the Blackhawk sits down and the Quick Reaction Force (QRF), a four-man team, pops out.  Three of them move up to the wall, laying down a couple BGs, but then a BG pops onto the table at bottom and whacks a QRF Rifle.  Even the cavalry is taking casualties!  4 more BG enter at the center.
 Blackhawk on the ground, QRF at wall, having just sustained a casualty, and Recon on the other side of the road, with only the Rifle effective, and two WIA in the street.  1 BG at left (the one that just popped the QRF rifle), a few at right, and a slew coming up the street/cresting the hill at center.
 Closeup of Recon and QRF (sorry about the black beads).
 Turn 8: Recon Rifle pins two BG and hands WIA over wall to QRF Lt, who pops the left BG and moves the WIA to the helo. QRF Gren1 sprays, hitting nothing, hops over wall, and moves up to bushes, while QRF Gren2 does the same, except putting 2 BG down on right.  BGs advance on center and right, but hit nothing.
 Photo backed out to show another BG popped in on left, BGs thick in front and on right.
 Turn 9: BGs advance in center, hitting nothing.  Lt gets WIA in bird, moves back to wall, pins 1 BG.  Recon Rifle pins 1 BG, moves to shuttle next WIA to Lt at wall.  QRF Gren 2 moves right and hits nothing, while QRF Gren1 gets 1 KIA and 1 pin.  The horde continues to come, firing ineffectually.
Turn 10: BG on left moves up, hits nothing.  Lt takes a shot at him, no effect, then moves another WIA to helo.  Of all things, Recon Rifle fails his command roll (did I mention I only have four effectives in the fight?!).  QRF Gren1 gets a KIA and a pin, then moves a WIA to wall.  More BGs move up in center, firing to no effect, while QRF Gren2 knocks one down, before more BGs enter on each flank...
 Turn 11: The Lt drops another WIA in the helo, then returns to the wall and kills the BG on left.  Several BGs advance in the center on the hill and crossroads, popping the last Recon team member!  QRF Gren2 gets a KIA and a pin before moving another WIA to the wall, while QRF Gren1 does some 'Spec Ops' stuff and knocks down 3 BG!!!  More BGs enter...
 Close up of the US pos.  Lt on right, shuttinling WIA to the helo.  On the other side of the wall, all Recon members are down, including Gren1 and the Lt, still lying in the street.  The QRF Grenadiers keep trying to hold the bad guys off and get the WIA over the wall to the Lt.
 Turn 12: QRF Gren1 puts down 2 BGs, then figures it's time to get out in the road to retrieve the two Recon WIA out there.  I was going to let him move a very short distance pulling both of them, unable to shoot; my rules are flexible in the extreme!  But it didn't matter, because ANOTHER BG entered on the left and laid him down right next to the two Recon guys...  The Lt curses under his breath, puts that BG down, then carries another WIA to the helo.  QRF Gren2 gets 2 KIA and moves another WIA to wall for the Lt.
    At this point I counted 36 Bad Guy KIAs on the table, so my little force has done quite a bit of damage.  But, I'm down to two effectives and still have four wounded on the wrong side of the wall...

Turn 13: BG's move up from all points, getting a few pins on QRF Gren2, so he spends the turn rallying, while the Lt gets another WIA on the chopper and returns to the wall (I didn't take any photos).
Turn 14: Lt whacks a BG before shouldering a WIA and moving to the helo.  Due to freak circumstances, there are no BGs in view, but they have about nine of their ten cards still in the deck, but the other US card comes out.  What this means is, I have to do something with QRF Gren2, and while there are no BGs in sight, because all their cards are still in the deck, there soon will be.
    So, I take QRF Gren2 into the street to try to start dragging his comrades back to cover.  The BGs promptly roll 2 6's and a 5, putting guys on both flanks, and mercilessly gun down QRF Gren2.
    The Lt, disgusted and defeated, murmurs into the radio, stuffs another WIA into the chopper, then mounts the bird himself.  As the Blackhawk pulls away two fighter-bombers screech-in and drop napalm on the crossroads! (I hope the photo looks suitable, but it probably just looks cheesy!)

What the @#$%!!!  Man, I cheated (by creating a QRF to come in and help), and I still got my butt kicked!  But man was that fun, having me on the edge of my seat the whole time, and I really felt like I was going to pull it off, but I just couldn't seem to keep up with the bad guys.  I had a great time, hope you liked it too.