Afghanistan Rescue

The quiet before the storm

This game was born out of wanting to use our new toy, a Cougar MRAP, and to get back into playing Spectre Operations again with a ‘small game’ to re learn the rules. We would have put it up on LAF but the archaic rules about post 2000 conflicts and our last interaction with the site put us off even trying.

3D print

Our basic scenario was an Afghan police station is under attack by increasing numbers of Taliban who have infiltrated the town disguised as civilians. The police are a small squad with their own leader but happen to have a senior leader in the building which will help with their command roles. The Taliban comprise three battle groups of around ten men each spread in a crescent through the town and already in small arms range.

The cop shop

Due to the presence of civilians senior command has rejected a danger close airstrike and opted for calling in two nearby SAS teams to effect a rescue.

The hard men

After dicing for random entry points for the SAS we got underway; Red team approached on foot from the east and immediately sent Trooper Winner off with the FN Minimi to find higher ground, Sgt Phillips, Cpl Firmin & Trooper Horsfall, headed for the rendezvous point at the central market, motioning civilians to go home (ironically); Blue team approached from the south in the Cougar with Cpl Curry manning the HK GMG.

Red team

The opening firing was solely between the police and Taliban; to the north of the town Hajji Barri’s group manoeuvred from the buildings they were occupying towards the hesco barriers, exchanging shots with Pvt Berri who was covering the side door and who managed to seriously wound Barri – realising their leader would bleed out the group left him to be with god and pressed their attack.

Barri’s group

Almost directly opposite the police, Rezza Jaffar Abbas and his fighters were getting themselves into better positions with a sniper and RPG on resident’s roofs as the citizenry cowered inside, covering this positioning with AK fire from the rest of the group.

Abbas’ team get into position

To the south west Ahmed Ali and his group moved out of the compound toward the market place, planning to flank west and around the side of the station – this didn’t go well.

Ahmed Ali urges his men out into the market place

Although the air was fairly thick with AK fire casualties were at a low level so far, the police station walls proved effective and Captain Gul urged the small police team on (in other words his command level prevented them becoming suppressed and rallied them if they did); all this changed however as the Cougar nudged its way into the open.

Cougar appears as Ahmed Ali’s group advances out of their compound

Seeing a group of armed insurgents at nine o’clock Cpl Curry let rip with the grenade machine gun (we’d never used one of these before – bloody hell!)

First salvo from the GMG

The firing wasn’t entirely accurate but the drift took out the sniper team on the roof of the compound (pure luck) and dropped a couple more fighters at the compound gates; Ali and several of his lieutenants took cover at the water trough by the market stalls and hoped their RPG guy would take out the metal monster.

RPG fighter gets ready just before the first salvo

Unnerved by the barrage the RPG fighter missed his shot and sent the rocket into the building behind the Cougar killing a man and his son with the falling masonry.

collateral damage

While mayhem reigned in the market place the other two groups pressed their attacks, avoiding losses from police RPG fire…

RPG miss

but not missing themselves when they put a shot into the room containing Sgt Alamyar, killing him outright.

death of Sgt Alamyar

Fighters from Ali’s group reached the south west corner of the police station giving a clear shot at the soldier defending the sandbagged front entrance…

flanked

and the fighters from Barri’s group had reached the hesco barriers, pouring more fire into the police station.

fighters closing in

The SAS teams were acutely aware that the battle was moving away from them so another salvo from the GMG went in on the market place with slightly better grouping, taking out Ali and his lieutenants behind the stone trough and effectively finishing off that group. At the same time Sgt Lane and Trooper got out to lend their small arms weight to Red Team.

death of Ali

With the soldier at the front entrance down, Captain Gul realised that every gun now counted so picking up the discarded weapon he joined the fight only to be picked off by Abbas’ sniper on the opposite roof.

Captain Gul

More pain for the police followed, their lmg man went down to concentrated AK fire and an RPG into the front entrance took out the police RPG guy just as he steadied himself for a shot.

Afghan fighter narrowly avoids becoming collateral damage

Cpl Curry now turned his attention to the Abbas group on the building ahead who also realised there was a big noise behind them they needed to do something about. However better training won out and Curry got his shot in first, raining death on the building.

“stop shooting at my house!”

Abbas, one other fighter and the sniper died in the barrage but Curry was out of effective targets now and the market place was more congested than aerial reconnaissance had suggested so it was over to the foot sloggers.

Red Team

Despite the loss of three leaders the Taliban were still very much in the fight and with the fire from the station ending (morale had collapsed and everyone was either dead, bleeding out or stunned) closed in on their prize.

victory in their grasp

In the town the wisdom of dispatching Winner to find higher ground paid off when a sneaky Taliban RPG fighter in a side alleyway revealed himself for a side shot on the Cougar but, again, superior training won out and Winner cut him half.

Winner

Despite the losses it couldn’t be denied that the Taliban had achieved their objective and the SAS had not. The police station was set on fire as the Taliban pulled out leaving behind a dead senior Afghan officer and a brave police section who had died fighting to a man. The SAS had barely fired a shot other than the mayhem wrought by the GMG and although the Taliban losses were around the 50% mark that didn’t matter in terms of the propaganda victory.

endgame

We had great fun with this game, we got back into the rules a lot quicker and easier than we thought we would and managed to operate 6 different ‘factions’ with relative ease. The GMG is a monster and in a different game we would need to beef up the Taliban with more serious firepower – recoilless rifles etc.

Looking back over the game we didn’t actually play that many turns but in the average Spectre turn a lot can happen in the phases and each ‘faction’ gets a full go so there’s more going on than you think. Overall it seemed to capture the kinetic energy of up close modern contact without too much bookwork so we came away happy.

We hope you enjoyed our AAR, please feel free to comment. Thanks. Ian & Dave.

Syrian Street Fighting

Back in February of 2019 I gamed on Gareth Lane’s Chechen/Russian street landscape (see ‘Away Game With Welsh Chechens) and besides having a great time I also much admired the buildings – hand built by a guy he knew. Not long after the event the gang did our cartel game at Hammerhead in March (see Sicario Part VI: The End!) – still the last show game so far, and chatting with Dave afterward we thought it would be good to do a similar game with our ever growing modern middle east collection, which was becoming more and more Syrian oriented, but for it to be realistic it would need to be far more ‘distressed’ than our pristine cartel set up, although we could still use the boards with the roads.

At first I looked around for mdf kits and yes there are a few individual buildings (good old TTC) but not what I was really looking for, we could use our existing middle east building but they are really for villages or the outskirts of towns, or maybe I or one of the group could scratch build? But then I asked myself, but what am I really looking for? Well it doesn’t take much of a Google search to show what the streets of most Syrian cities look like and it’s pretty desperate although oddly iconic and very reminiscent of images of Stalingrad – cue Gareth and his builder.

Contact with Gareth revealed the guy was Chris at Task Force Terrain and in April our journey began.

At first it was all about what I really wanted and what could reasonably fit on the existing street grid so a steady stream of e mails back and forth slowly inched us towards a mutual understanding of where we were going. As an ex automotive industry project manager I have to say this was the most constructive project experience I have ever had and I cannot praise Chris enough for his energy and enthusiasm for the project tempered by what was practical to build and be usable on the table top.

The months April and May were spent exchanging ideas on what buildings would be best for the different parts of the street grid; single ruins at the corners, less damaged apartment style buildings for the double spaces and what to put in the centre as a feature building. Also, mundane stuff like what kind of base to put the buildings on (3mm hardboard eventually), whether there should be pavements around the buildings and should they be damaged, how high could we go and how much access could players get to the buildings and what colour should the buildings be? Strangely this all became increasingly important as we went along; the feature building entailed a lot of back and forth e mails accompanied by real life images for consideration and it was Chris’s idea to go for a hospital, very much a feature of news reports and a potential focal point for a game. The question of pavements was something I hadn’t considered even though they are staring you in the face in every image from the cities but of course space for pavement means less space for building and what size pavement anyway? The height of the buildings became an issue of practicality from a gaming point of view and a construction point of view; too tall and gamers can’t reach across the table and the more floors there are the more messing about taking floors off and on; in the end we opted for small apartment ruins at the corners only two stories high, then larger apartments/office blocks of three stories with removable roofs and top floor and then a straight drop to the ground floor and the centre piece hospital four stories in two halves with removable roof and floors.

The colour palette was decided by Chris doing swatches and sending me photos which worked surprisingly well as I think you’ll agree.

It was during this development that Chris found a picture of a Syrian police station and that became the prototype for one of our double sized buildings.

Into June and the serious work started, well for Chris anyway, I was thinking “I wonder if we could get this ready for The Other Partizan” – oh how we laughed!

As he progressed Chris sent me images of what the raw buildings would look like and the option for limited changes but as we’d discussed the look at length this was essentially a rubber stamp exercise.

Come October and the photos of the finished articles started flowing in and I was completely blown away by the level of detail and had one of those rare moments of experiencing a vision actually realised. Truly stunning.

All that I needed to do now was motor down to Chris and pick them all up. Easy! Well yes if we weren’t in tiers (I was in bloody tears!) and where I lived was different to where Chris lived and the rules kept changing and then no one could go anywhere! At first we just agreed Chris would hold onto the buildings for a while because we’d be able to travel soon……… Obviously it soon became apparent that no one was going anywhere and my project was cluttering up Chris’s workshop so reluctantly I agreed he’d courier them up to me.

Image

As you can see, 8 boxes arrived one day via DPD, who it must be said did a fine job of delivering in tact, ably assisted by Chris’s magnificent packaging skills.

Having duly unpacked and set them up on the the streets boards on the gaming table they just sat there for several weeks and I dreamt of us gaming on them someday but as that day seemed forever far off I decided to solo game a Spectre game the other week over several nights just to get some use before storing them away for the great gaming return! Hopefully this game will appear with a narrative on LAF in due course but in the meantime here are some shots of the action.

That’s all for this month next month we’ll have a look at the joint project born out of the ashes of lockdown – Successors.