Saturday, 6 August 2016

Black Ops: just another day in Kandahar AAR

I finally managed to have a game set in modern Afghanistan using the figures and terrain I've been slowly building up over the past many months (close to a year, I think!). The scenario was an attempted assassination of the local governor by the insurgents, using Black Ops, a Guy Bowers game produced by Osprey Games.

It was my first attempt with these rules, so I was ready to make mistakes but also ready to learn from them so the next game will be better!  Black Ops plays best with relatively small forces.  The troops on the board were divided into three factions:  
1.  Afghan National Police (ANP), who formed the guard for the governor's residence.  They had an officer, 4 policemen with assault rifles, one with a light machine gun and one with an RPG.  In Black Ops terminology, the ANP are Reluctant Conscripts.
2.  The insurgents had a larger force to deploy.  I gave them a leader, 4 soldiers with assault rifles, one with an RPG, one with an LMG and one with a sniper rifle.  They also had a car bomb (VBIED) and a suicide bomber (SBIED).  The insurgents were rated as 'fanatics'.
3.  The Afghan Border Police were located in their barracks.  I goofed and put the barracks too far away, so even once the alarm was raised, they had no chance to intervene in time to make a difference to the raid.  ABP were rated as Conscript.  The only difference between the ANP and the ABP was a one-point difference in their morale ratings (known as 'DED' or dedication in BO).  Unfortunately, as things turned out, I didn't get a chance to find out if the difference was significant.

Here is the initial setup for the town.  The governor's house is behind the hand, facing the tree-lined 'Grand Boulevard'.  The ABP barracks are in the lower centre, in the sandbagged Hesco redoubt, and to the left of the barracks is a busy market street.

The governor's guards took their positions on the compound roof, while typical activity takes place on the street.

Shoppers on Market Street

The insurgents begin their approach.  BO allows for guards and civilians to move randomly, but with a proviso that any unrealistic moves, such as walking off a cliff, or into a wall, should be changed.  It calls on players to use a bit of sense.

A sniper sneaks up towards Market Street.  I missed taking photos of his dash along Market Street.  Each civilian he passed generated a reaction test and a loyalty test.  More than half the civilians reacted poorly to the insurgent and he earned himself half a dozen noise markers as they tried to alert the authorities.

Insurgent soldiers approach the compound using the walls around the field as cover.

An insurgent gunman dashes to the base of the wall, earning a noise marker (the yellow cube).  Unfortunately, the guard above him fails his roll and doesn't see the approaching danger!

The insurgent runs up to the gate and sets off his IED, killing himself but destroying the gate. A passing motorcyclist is also killed by the explosion.  The detonation earns three noise markers and a cloud of smoke.

The insurgent soldiers' card comes up next and they unleash a volley on the rooftop guards.  This results in a dozen more noise markers and also takes out the unlucky guards.

The shepherd/goatherd and his flock flee the scene!

The remaining guards raise the alarm (more noise markers), and the guard captain awakes. The stealth phase is officially over!

ABP troopers leave their barracks, but ended up being too far away from the mansion to intervene in time.

As the ABP reinforcements run up the Grand Boulevard, the insurgents drive their VBIED through the gate.  It is met with a hail of gunfire which kills the driver, but in the name of drama, I let him test against his dedication.  He rolled a 6, so I allowed him to detonate his bomb, which brought down the building.  The governor however had previously run to his safe room in the house.  I rated the protection of this room to be the equivalent of a tank.  The governor made a saving roll and passed, surviving the day.  Meanwhile, the remaining insurgents escaped into the fields.

I found that Black Ops gave a good, fast game.  I'd say it's important not to overload the table with figures, as there are times that each one needs to test a reaction, so too many would slow things down too much.  My table layout left room for improvement:  I needed more terrain to the rear and sides of the governor's house to allow more options for the attacker, and the barracks needed to be closer to allow a shorter reaction time for the reinforcements.  I also needed to give the defenders more opportunities to test to observe the attackers.  A guard needs to roll and 8+ to raise the alarm, so attackers approaching in broad daylight should generate more chances for a guard to spot them, so I should have given noise markers each time an insurgent moved within line of sight of a guard.  Lessons for next time!  I hope to retry this scenario at the next club night, which won't be until October.

And to finish off, here is a close up of the last Afghan civilian, which I finished a couple of days before the game.  She's from Eureka Miniatures, from an Indian civilians set.