Friday, July 15, 2016

Royals in Parwan, Fight #4


First up, a couple admin notes:

1.  We're changing the script.  First, I've been using 45 Commando as my unit, and that's a real unit.  It happened because I wasn't planning on a campaign and I thought it was cool to throw in, but I'm not a fan of using real units for a lot of reasons, in particular because these brave men (and women?  I don't know if the battalion has women or not) are still in harm's way.  So, the unit we are following is now a rifle section from 27 Commando, Royal Marines.  Second, I'm backing this whole thing up; this started as "Royals in Helmand (Province)" in 2011, but now I've got bigger plans.  So this is now 25 Commando, Royal Marines in Parwan Province, May 2002.  I plan on following these brave lads through this tour in Afghanistan, then the invasion of Iraq in 2003 against Saddam's troops, then in peace-keeping operations in Basra, Iraq (not sure which year yet), then we'll do Helmand Province in Afghanistan, then maybe look at Libya during the Khaddafi takedown, and maybe even Syria versus ISIS.  So we are now in Afghanistan, based out of Bagram Airbase, in 2002.

2.  A lot of folks have been asking me what changes I've made to "Five Men At Kursk" to 'modernize' it a bit.
-Overall activation is IGO-UGO.  I conduct an opposed D6 roll to see which side will activate first, using modifiers for troop quality and tactical situation.  For example, the RMs are +2 due to stronger overall capability facing the Taliban in 2002, but if the Taliban are in a strong ambush position I'll make them +1, 2, or 3, depending on my assessment of how much the situation may be in their favor.
-When it is a side's turn to activate, roll 1D6 per troop, with the normal 5Core activation roll being carried out.  The player assigns 'normal,' 'firefights,' and 'scurries' as he sees fit.  The opposing player may react during this.  When the active player has carried out all activations the other player activates his side the same way.
-Each soldier in good fighting order may act once and react once each turn.  Reactions are still limited only to firing.  To wit: when it's my turn, I will activate every single one of my men, and every single opposing troop that sees something may react (still only one reaction to each action).  Then, when it's the opposing player's activation, he may activate every single troop (even though they reacted during my activation), and every one of my men (in good order that see something) may react.
-Overall, though I haven't codified it, I've made shooting more deadly, particularly for the superior-trained Western forces.  So the RMs, under normal conditions, are firing a rifle with 2K 2S.  However, I regularly modify this by the quality of the shot.  So, if he would start with 2K 2S, but he moves and then he takes a shot at a guy in cover, I might reduce his firing dice to 1K 1S, or even 0K 1S, depending on what I reckon his chances to be.  I regularly add firing dice if there are multiple targets in close proximity to each other (if guys are bunched up, I'll add Kill and Shock dice to the shooter).
-For troop states, I think I'm pretty much in line with the rules: good order, pinned, hunkered, and knocked down.  Pinned can rally, shoot, or move during his activation, but can't react.  Hunkered can rally or shoot but not move, and can't react.  Knocked down can't do anything; I don't even give him an activation dice when I'm rolling up for that side's activation.  Knocked down can only get back in the fight (or remain knocked down, or put out of the fight) when on the receiving end of a buddy check (i.e., someone moves into base contact to check on him, and he can't act during the activation he gets back in the fight).
-I think that's it, nothing too dramatic, mainly the idea that everyone can act and react once per turn.  It really moves the fight along, makes it more violent.  In my mind this fits well into the narrative; if you're wondering why supporting fires (air, mortars, and arty) don't play into these fights, it's because they are taking place at very close quarters and are over in a few minutes.  I'd reckon the below fight, in real-life terms, was over in about three minutes.  So, on to the latest battle.

It's now 24 May 2002*, twelve days since the last fight, and the section is out on a presence patrol, showing the flag and keeping the peace, looking to warm the populace up as the first elections are drawing near.  A day that would be known as Black Friday for the Marines of 27 Commando...
*Please mind the time change due to the campaign narrative change.

Overview of map, north is up.  There is a village at right, an outcropping at bottom left (southwest), a smattering of trees, bushes, and cultivated fields, a hardball road running southeast to northwest, and two canals fordable by men, but at a movement penalty.  There are also a couple stone walls in play, serving as hard cover.

The opposing forces, with my new Taliban at left, and the Royal Marines at right.  A pretty even fight: the insurgents have seven men, the RMs eight, though the Taliban will have the advantage in that they will start the fight in ambush positions.

The Rifle Section, from top left: Sarge (formerly Corporal, now sporting the Victoria Cross), Sparks, Jonesy (with UGL), Knocker (with SAW), True, then, in the bottom row, three new faces.  Two have been a part of the 10-man section, we just haven't seen them in the scenarios before, and one is a replacement for Nobby, who was seriously wounded and sent home after the last fight.  Form left to right, we have Marine "Wali" Aziz (SA80), Marine "Andy" Baddalandabad (SA80), and LCpl "Conk" Strothers (LSW).

The new Taliban: seven of them.  Six, including their leader (at right) with AKs, and one with the dreaded RPG.  They would prove more ferocious than the old Taliban...

The patrol moves forward, sticking to the hardball while crossing the two canals from east (bottom) to west (top).  The order of march is: Andy, True, Knocker, Sarge, Jonesy, Sparks, Conk, and Wali.

Another look at the patrol, this time from south to north, showing the patrol on the road.  And now the enemy has been revealed: bottom left just below the two trees; two on the hill at bottom left; two behind the wall at top left (including the RPG); one at top right, just visible behind the tree on the north side of the canal; and one at bottom center, just below two trees on the east side of the canal.

It's time for the fight; I roll to see who has a initiative...

Turns out the bad guys are in pretty good ambush positions and get the drop on the RMs.  The Taliban leader (just off camera to bottom) whispers to his rifleman (bottom center left): "target their leader."  The terrorist rips off a long burst at Sarge (top center)...

First game the bad guys have gotten the initiative...

Sarge is pinned (yellow bead at center right), and Conk (bottom right) returns fire, missing.

And then the enemy RPG gunner, hearing the AK fire signalling the initiation of the ambush, pops over the wall (bottom center) and launches a rocket at the patrol!

First time a Taliban RPG gunner has gotten a rocket off...

The rocket strikes the eastern bridge, putting Jonesy out of the fight (top center right), pinning Conk (yellow bead at bottom center), and forcing Sparks to fall back (red bead at bottom left, next to Wali).

Andy, the pointman and on the western bridge, returns fire on the RPG gunner...

Putting him out of the fight.

And then the insurgent in the north popped out from behind his tree and sprayed wildly down the street, knocking Wali down.

Followed by the Taliban soldier in the south opening fire on Knocker.

The enemy fire zipped by harmlessly, and Knocker returned fire, but it was wild and missed too.

The terrorist in the southwest moved over to get line of sight, then fired on Knocker, but he missed too.

In the northwest, the Taliban next to the downed RPG gunner fired on Andy, the pointman...

The rounds missed Andy (center left, next to explosion), and True (bottom center, just above the two trees) returned fire, pinning the enemy rifleman.  Knocker is just visible at bottom right.

Then the enemy leader, seeing things going his way, came down from the hill (bottom right) and sprinted towards the western bridge (center), looking to finish off the British patrol before their reinforcements and supporting fires could arrive.

Sarge (yellow bead at bottom center, with Knocker, True, and Andy to his right) opened fire on the Taliban in the southwest (top right)...

Knocking him down (white bead at bottom right).  But then the terrorist on the hill (far left) returned fire on Sarge...

Putting him (center, with Jonesy at right) out of the fight and pinning (yellow bead) Knocker.

Conk (yellow bead at center) fired on the Taliban in the north (top center) knocking him down, while Sparks (red bead) tried to get himself back in the fight (Wali is knocked down, with white bead)...

But he failed and fell back (bottom left, from red bead at center top)...

Knocker (top left) again fired on the insurgent in the south (bottom center), but again he missed...

While on the western bridge, Andy peeks through the trees, spots the terrorist leader, and opens fire...

Knocking him (top center) out of the fight; Andy then sprinted from the bridge (top right) to the base of the hill (bottom center, with Taliban above him).

Yes, things aren't going well and I'm trying to pull off some heroics to save the day.  Andy is doing pretty well, but then I roll to see if he can throw a grenade up the hill, but he fumbles...

True falls back (center, with Sarge at right) to rally Knocker (yellow bead)...

But Knocker's not having it.  He scoops up his friend, Sarge, and carries him back to cover behind a nearby wall (red bead and casualty at far right, from far left).  Jonesy is still lying on the eastern bridge...

The terrorist in the northwest (top right) fires on Andy (bottom left) at the base of the hill...

The rounds hit high, ricocheting off the stone.  Andy (bottom center) snaps into a good firing position and returns fire...

Putting the terrorist down (next to the RPG gunner, who Andy also put out).

But now the Terrorist atop the hill was aware of Andy's exact whereabouts.

After several exchanges of ineffective fire, the Taliban in the south takes steady aim at True...

And puts him down (left, with Jonesy on the bridge and Knocker hunkering next to Sarge at right).

And then the terrorist sprinted left to the west canal (center left, from far right; a fellow bad guy is knocked down at bottom left).

Despite not having a great shot (and a shaky, nasty photo), the terrorist atop the hill (bottom center) spots Conk (to center) and opens fire, knocking him down...

And then jumping down from his perch, landing on Andy!!!

Well, heroics go both ways, I suppose.  I rolled to see if the terrorist would maintain position, fall back (due to reasonable suspicion a grenade would soon be coming his way), or move into melee.  You see how the dice turned out...

And more bad dice means the Taliban subdued Andy in close combat...

Feeling his oats, the Taliban leaves Andy (bottom left) and sprints to the foot of the west bridge (top center right).

Knocker (behind wall at top right) and Sparks (bottom left) both attempt to rally and get back in the fight.  Knocker is good, but Sparks only gets 'up' to pinned (yellow bead).  Wali (bottom center) and Conk (top center right, both with white beads) are both currently knocked down.

The insurgent at the foot of the western bridge (bottom left) sights in on Knocker (behind the wall at top right) and fires...

The rounds impact on the stone wall, but Knocker hangs in there and returns fire...

Putting the enemy soldier out of the fight (bottom center, with their leader at left, and another rifleman and the RPG gunner at top center right).

At this point both sides are bloodied and exhausted, neither able to gain the upper hand.

The Talib in the south hops into the west canal...

Grabs his buddy...

And leads him off the field of battle.

While in the northeast, the knocked down terrorist there drags himself away from the battle (top right, from the tree at center).

With Knocker (left, behind wall) covering, Sparks moves up (center right) to check on Wali and Conk.  They're both a bit dazed, but get back to their feet.

The Royal Marines consolidate into defensive positions and wait for help as Sparks calls it in.

Soon the 'whup-whup-whup' of helicopter blades are heard and an Apache is on station as reinforcements arrive.  Andy (bottom left), True (center), Jonesy (on right-hand bridge), and Sarge (top right) are collected and looked after, but it's not looking good...

Well, let me first say... ouch.  Second, before people start getting on to me: yes, that is not how you cross the canals (or what we call 'linear danger areas').  There are much better, and secure ways, of crossing areas like that, and in real life they wouldn't simply have the whole section moving across at once.  But this is a game, so I set the scenarios up where the shooting should start, and this time (perhaps egged on a bit by some hubris from my recent successes) I placed the RMs in a bad way and they paid for it.  And pay for it they did...

The good news is there were no KIAs, but the squad was stricken nonetheless.  Their fearless leader, Sarge, was severely wounded, as were Andy and Jonesy.  All three are being medevacked back to the United Kingdom, where Sarge and Andy will be medically retired due to their injuries.  Jonesy will be allowed to remain in the Royal Marines, but will be reassigned to a headquarters element.  True was lightly wounded and will return in approximately eight days.

This really hurts as we've only started the campaign, and two stalwarts of the section, Sarge and Jonesy, are gone for good.  That leaves only Gimlet, Sparks, and Knocker from the original fight.  Gimlet is still out due to his wounds, and Sparks and Knocker haven't been all that effective the past two fights.  Things are not looking good for the section; I suppose at this point Knocker is the senior man, so he will turn the SAW over to another Marine and become the acting section leader.

Well, I don't hope you liked it, but I hope you enjoyed the game.  I'm caught up, now to get some more fights in this coming weekend.



  1. Ouch indeed, a tough fight. In modern games they tend to be very one sided one way or another. I think that they have to be something different to a WW2 game just with more automatic weapons and I think your campaign is pulling those differences out.



    1. Thanks Pete, I appreciate it. These rules certainly feel right for me, and they've been a lot of fun. Very quick, very bloody, lots of stuff going on.


  2. Looks like a tough fight. Nice report. I think I might have a new game to look into.

    1. I'm the author-bloke, let me know if you have any questions about them.

  3. Thanks Sean, and yeah, it was pretty nasty. I highly recommend the rules, I've played more than a 100 games using them for various things (and with various tweaks). What period(s) do you game?


  4. Very gnarly battle and a real war-movie ending, nice job!

    1. Yeah, more gnarly than I cared for...