Sunday, 7 December 2014

Some days, you get the bear...

This past Saturday, we followed Martin's lead and played a "modern era" micro-armour game using the Cold War Commander rules. He has a very interesting collection of micro-armour piece, mostly modern, but Israeli and British. Since these two nations are not historical enemies, the actual sides were "the Empire of Albion" and the "Covenant of the Twelve Tribes" meeting on the field of battle in some mythical desert area. Both sides fielded about a brigade-strength set - two armoured battalions, two armoured infantry battalions, a helicopter-borne battalion, and a flight of helicopter gunships, with two batteries of off-board artillery. Bear and I ran the Twelve tribes while Kevin and Derek ran the Albioners. Martin served as games-master and Andy advised both sides.

Kevin and Derek won the initiative and had us deploy a battalion first, after which we took turns. The field was really, really flat with a small hill village surrounded by barbed wire at the southern end of the table and a village surrounded by a law wall to the north.
The village to the north - Martin privately briefed us that we were looking for an artifact of great power hidden in one of the two built-up areas. Not having any visible kohanim with us, I suppose we'd have to be careful. (Most of the terrain was from my collection of... stuff.)

The big-time village. The barbed wire areas were done up years ago for GW's Space Marine/ Epic games.

The same hill village with the Albion-ish force moving in - a mechanised/armoured infantry battalion.
There were some white yarn pieces laid on the table. If your unit touched the yarn, it was considered to be in a wadi and was "hull-down." This was to serve Derek well.
Bear and I split our forces - one armoured and one infantry battalion each, with Bear taking the Cobra gunships and myself taking the helicopter-borne paratroopers. On the other side, Kevin took the two infantry battalion and the Apache gunships while Derek ran the two armoured battalions. Kevin headed for the hill town with both battalions which included some Javelin SAMs and some anti-armour rockets. Derek came at me with his Challenger tanks. Bear deployed his Merkava tanks to the centre with his infantry to the outside. I sent my tanks "up the middle" and my infantry to the small village. For about two turns, we manoeuvred and finally came to grips. Derek used the wadis to good effect as he advanced to engage my troops. I found that the Merkavas could stand up to a lot as he and I exchanged fire.

Bear's M113 "Zeldas" with the battalion command an M901 track with TOW gun.

One of Kevin's battalions - Warrior APCs and some scout and support equipment.

Kevin's Apache gunships looking belligerent.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch - Kevin's rolling stock moves into the town.

Derek's Challenger MBTs hull-down in the wadi.

What was left of Bear's infantry battalion after taking fire from the Challengers, over two turns. Zelda goes boom.
I called in an air strike with F18s on Derek's one battalion. I allowed a wide spread on the run; a narrow spread hits one vehicle with double attacks, but I wanted to suppress or pin as much as I could. I didn't get them all but I got enough to make it worthwhile. The battalions were made up of Challengers and Scorpions for recce and support, whereas my armoured battalions were all Merkavas. My infantry all got into the village and commenced the search for the lost Ark... I mean, "the special artifact." (Get it? <poke-poke>)

Well, Bear took a lot of casualties, especially from a pop-up attack from the Apaches and his infantry broke under the whithering fire. His armour took some casualties as well. My armour held its own against Derek's tanks. He had to split his fire between our two battalions. His Scorpions really could not handle that volume of fire and brewed up fast. Lighter armour and all that. Bear and I sent two jet sorties against the town held by Kevin, both with napalm. Here the game broke down. The rules make napalm really brutally deadly, which did not seem realistic to some of the guys. It destroyed units in the open and in houses as well as vehicles. Martin had to re-read the rules and discovered that he hadn't adjudicated the air strike correctly, so some damage was taken back, but not all. To his defence, he hadn't read the rules for about 2 years and had only given them a cursory reading recently. At this point, the game went off the rails as Bear brought his Cobras in to attack Derek's tanks, then to strafe the town, and then engage the Apaches air-to-air. Since Cold War Commander uses Warmaster's command set-up, a player can move a unit many times in one turn, until his command rolls fail. This can be aggravating or exhilarating, depending if you're on the receiving end or on the delivering end. In any event, the helicopter gunships did a dog-fight which left both pretty cut up. Kevin brought in his Chinook-borne paras to reinforce the town and provide some more AA cover since they had some man-packed AAGMs.

One of my Merkavas with a wound (the white washer) and a suppression marker (the blow-up splash,)

Kevin's Apaches, betting ready to pop up and sling missiles at Bear's infantry.

A Merkava battalion with only two platoons and the HQ left. The blow-ups indicate lost stands.

After slashing up Derek's tanks, Bear's Cobras head for the town. The wadis don't effect them.

The Cobras engage the Apaches in a deadly duel.
 We hit curfew shortly after and had to wrap up.
I don't collect micro-armour so I enjoyed playing the game and handling the little tiny tanks. Martin deserves credit for painting those vehicles and men so well. The rules, however, need something to be desired. I'm thinking that the weaponry of modern warfare is SO varied and complex that it might be tough to game without a computer and an accountant. What certain weapon systems and bomb-loads can do is very subjective and open to interpretation or argument. (Except for tactical nuclear weapons which is best simulated by dribbling a basketball on the table for five minutes.) Maybe it's just not "my cup of tea" as they say. My wife believes gaming beyond 1815 (or maybe 1865) is worthless since it is no longer an "honourable" endeavor. I'm not quite so tied up but I will say the technology makes gaming the modern period tough to do. Maybe I'll try it again. Maybe...

Meanwhile, more photos. (I took all the pictures this time, with my wife's good camera.)

Israeli Merkavas with some attched troops.

Israeli Blackhawk helicopeter, which went unused the entire game. I usually end up dropping the airbourne into harm's way and getting them destroyed.

British Chinook helicopters - heavy lifters, carrying two stands of infantry.
However if one is shot down, you lose two stands of infantry.

British Apache helicopter gunships

The British Challenger MBT - rather nicely detailed in my opinion, especially for a model the size of your thumbnail.

British Warrior APCs

Just an interesting vista

My armoured infantry with M113 Zeldas and a mortar carrier as they search the village.

Next week will be the Group Christmas Party with warmed cider, hot chocolate, cookies, and the "traditional" Wings of War game which will include Snoopy and the Red Baron as well as Santa's sleigh. This year we add a big bomber to try it out. If you are in the neighbourhood of London, Ontario, on the south side of the city, you are welcome to stop in for a cookie, a nip of cider or chocolate, and a quick flight in a SPAD or a Fokker or a Sopwith. (RSM Mark and the Mad Padre, I'm looking at you!) We're holding this party on the 13th because Martin is making his way to the family homestead up near the permafrost. The week after will be a bigger surprise.

From previous year's Christmas Party.


  1. Interesting posting, and your pal Martin's 6mm gear is pretty impressive, and it was by the sound of it a useful exercise to play test knowledge and retention of the rule set.

    On another matter, i have a great deal of sympathy for your wife's contention about warfare post 1815. It has long been my firm belief, Carl von Clausewitz notwithstanding, that warfare as an instrument of policy became, some time between 1792 and 1815, far too expensive and destructive to be useful. I am glad to find there is someone who shares that view.

    Doesn't stop me war gaming more modern periods, of course... :-)

    1. I agree that Martin did a great job on the micro-stuff.
      I wish more people, especially those in "real" power agreed with you and my wife. It could be a better world.