Scouts Out!

Scouts Out!
C Troop musters for action

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Battle of Centerville Pt. 2: What a fight!

Well I've finished up my last game and what a fight it was!  It really was a good one and Ultra-Fubar really delivered on the action.  I have to say this was probably my favorite solo game of all time.  It was a hard fought battle that really wasn't totally resolved until the last turn of the game.  I'm still in the process of figuring out the actual victory results from the game, but it was close

I intended for this game to be a test of the basic Ultra-Fubar engine:  I wanted to see if it could handle a large number of AFVs and I wanted to get a feel for how armored combat would work in the game.  In that regards I saw a lot that pleased me and a lot that left me wanting more.  FUBAR can handle armored actions but it lacks something... I'm not sure what.

Anyway, I also wanted to try out a more open battlefield too.  Most of my games are pretty close in infantry affairs with lots of woods, buildings, hills, and other LOS blocking/cover terrain.  Here's a look of the basic set-up:

Basically you have a small two-lane road running down the center of the board with the ruins of four buildings sitting along it.  The LRL force enters from the far end and has to:
1.  Occupy all four buildings,
2.  Exit 5 vehicles off the opposite side of the board,
3.  And inflict 50% losses on the Americans.  
A pretty tall order to me but I was game for the challenge.  To keep me on my toes I created an activation card for each of my units.  That way I couldn't just activate any unit I wanted to. I had to activate the unit that came up.  The Americans were ran with a set of basic orders:

1.  Hold the far two buildings until at least turn 6,
2.  Withdraw on turn six and try to get 50% of the starting units off the board,
3.  Try to inflict 50% losses on the enemy.

I defined a loss as an infantry unit with less than 50% of its starting troops or a vehicle that is a mobility kill.  

As per my background, I selected a force of mechanized infantry supported by tanks and technical weapon carriers:

I split my four squads up into two sections with one section being mounted in the old, but still powerful, Bradley AFV.  My other section loaded up in the much more modern AMX-60 hover APCs.  The Bradleys packed a more powerful punch with their ATGMs while the AMX-60 GEVs were faster.  My rifles squads each had six troopers and one soldat in each squad carried either a LMG or a RPG.  My tanks were different models but I used my stats for the Abrams MBT for both.  The technicals were civilian trucks mounting a HMG.  Finally I took two cells of insurgent guerrillas   My regulars were all seasoned troops and my insurgents were veterans.  Normally that would be a problem in FUBAR, but Ultra-Fubar allows units which fail activation rolls to take a single action anyway before initiative switches to the other side.  That allowed me to field a pretty average force and still be able to maneuver aggressively, something that was nearly impossible in the earlier editions of the game.  

This force's strengths were sheer numbers, ATGMs, and the heavy cannons on the MBTs.  This force had plenty of firepower and even more staying power.

Going up against them was a small, but powerful, platoon of US Cavalry:

The core of this force was its two mecha:  two light Valkyries and a powerful Ares MBS.  The Ares is a powerhouse with 4+ armour, a large cannon, and a HMG.  The Valkyries were much lighter armed, a rocket launcher and HMG, but much more mobile and sported jump jets!  Backing the mecha up was a full section of US infantry split into two four man squads armed with pulse rifles with UGLs and a LMG.  To increase their punch the grunts were mounted into two armoured HUMVEEs mounting light plasma cannons (useable against both AFVs and infantry) and four drones (two stationary HMGs and to mobile sensors).  The cav troops were a much more experienced force with an activation of 4+ but an expertise of 4+.  Adding to their already formidable skill each soldier's pulse rifle or smart gun was equipped with a SUSAT sight (+1 FP if the unit doesn't move).  To keep things from getting ridiculous I placed a restriction that only one soldier per fire action could use their grenade launcher.   However that still left each US rifle squad with a very impressive FP total:  8FP if the unit moved, 11 FP if they didn't move, 13FP if the enemy was within 12"!!! In comparison my average LRL rifle squad, with a SAW, only could throw 9 FP moving and 13 FP within 12"!!!!  Worse still, all of the squad, drones, and vehicles could observe for the Valkyries so they could hide out of LOS and shoot their rockets... that was very ugly!

One final thing I added to the Ultra-Fubar game were my "Murphy" cards.  I created a deck of 8 cards that you could play in the enemy and it would cause them all sorts of problems.  To get them you have to roll a "1" on your initiative die roll.  The cards tell you when to play them and what effect they have on the enemy unit.  Oddly enough, the US got one during the first turn and promptly played it on the first LRL tank to come out.  That totally save the Ares mech because I placed it in full view of the road... and the it was a fire control failure which prevented the tank from firing!! Ouch!!
Anyway, the game opened with the LRL winning initiative and moving onto the board.  The US launched some missiles and took some long range shots at the LRL vehicles.  That's when I got my first taste for how vehicle damage is done on FUBAR.  It's pretty different from what I'm use to.  In fact, it almost has an OGRE feel to it.  It's almost impossible to kill any AFV with a frontal shot, no matter how many dice you toss at a target.  The reason is when you hit you roll two dice and the defender takes the least damaging effect.  That means that the odds are really great that you'll just suffer a stun result!  However the chart has a built in rule that allows damage to stack over a turn.  That is if you have already stunned a unit this turn and you roll another stun result that the target takes the next effect down the chart.  So shots slowly build up damage over a turn with the target getting stunned, losing weapons, becoming immobile, then, FINALLY, a kill result.  I say that reminds me of Steve Jackson's OGRE because that's what happens to the cybertank as the game goes along:  you knock off guns, equipment, and treads long before you finally disable the OGRE.  And that's what happened in the game.  Both sides threw out huge amounts of firepower at each other and slowly chipped away at each other's vehicles.  

While the LRL's armor moved down the road, insurgents started showing up and taking pot shots at the US positions.  This RPG unit showed itself to be particularly dangerous because it had a great line of fire on the American right flank squad.  They actually hit the US HUMVEE here a couple of times and managed to knock off its plasma cannon.  That really helped me maneuver my forces because that one gun was the only anti-tank weapon on this flank.  I took advantage of this by rushing a full infantry section over there to set-up a base of fire.

At the same time I tried to mass the technical platoon around the AMX tank to set-up a base of fire that could suppress both American positions.  All that wound up happening was the Valkyries started raining missiles down on my lightly armed technicals and stunned them left and right.  The Ares popped out a time or two and tossed rail cannon rounds at my AMX tank.  This tactic just wasn't working and the Americans were actually gaining fire superiority  Even my attempts to call in artillery failed miserably... not a single fire mission came in.  So I did everything I could to move up the left flank infantry section.  You can see them at the far end of the woods in that last picture.

So... I did something rather stupid.  I rushed my technicals up to suppress the American strongpoint while my APC dumped out their infantry to rush in and take the ruin.  It didn't work out well at all.  My technicals just couldn't suppress the Americans!  Their cover forced me to roll "6s" to hit, and as you can see, my die rolling just wasn't there!! And to add insult to injury the yanks seemed to make every armor save too!  And it got worse.  These troops were On Guard when my infantry dismounted!  They activated and threw a storm of lead at my poor LRL grunts and tore them up.  Red squad instantly took 50% losses in one shot!  Then the Americans won initiative and activated the same unit which then proceeded to cream my other dismounted squad.  In just one turn almost a third of my regular infantry strength was gone and I had yet to inflict even a single loss on the American cavalry.  These Philippine Scouts are some tough hombres!!

However, as the saying goes, God favors the biggest battalions.  Despite my infantry being clobbered I still had more vehicles and troops.  I rushed one of my AMX APCs behind the right flank strong hold and was able to get some flank shots in on the HUMVEE and even the mecha.  That hurt the Americans.  It hurt them bad.  I started to gain fire superiority over them and they began to fall back.  And then I did another stupid thing.  I tried to rush a pair of technicals past the strongpoint to rake the troopers from the rear.  It didn't work.  One of the Valkyries activated with two actions.  The nasty lil bugger jumped out of its wooded sanctuary, landed behind the two technicals, and in a spectacular display of gunnery brewed-up both of my technicals.  Worse still the Ares finally zeroed in on my right flank Abrams and nailed it with a rail cannon shot.  It wasn't a true kill, but it was a mobility kill.  And as if that wasn't enough the other Valkyrie found the range to another of my APCs and mobility killed it.  In one turn a lone I lost 4 vehicles.  All of a sudden the odds of an LRL victory became very slim.  

Honestly at this time I really considered calling the game as an American win.  My LRL troops were in disarray and had suffered heavy losses.  I had lost four of my vehicles- two hard kills and two mobility kills.  Worst still two of my remaining vehicles had lost weapons and were looking rather shaky.  Things were just plain falling apart for my Yanquis of the 23eme RI.  But i just refused to give up.  I activated my AMX tank and ordered it to CHARGE!  The AMX raced down the road, flanked the dismounted troopers, and blasted them with its main gun and HMG.  That finally suppressed the yankee cavalry.  Then everything started to come together!  My infantry rallied and rushed forward and were joined en route by the spunky band of insurgents!  My troops overran the farmhouse strongpoint and captured the abandoned HUMVEE.  The troops then took up firing positions and started pouring a murderous fire on the retreating cav.  Suddenly the American body count started to grow.  However the Americans still had an ace up their sleeve: a sniper!  This stone cold killer zeroed in on my squad leaders and weapons troopers and started dropping them like files!  He even caused one wavering squad to fell apart and ran away... I HAD to shut this guy down.  That's when I rolled a "1" for initiative and drew the "are these critter poisonous?" card!!  As soon as the sniper activated in turn 6 I hit him with this card.  It didn't kill him but it shut him down for a turn (he was suppressed).  Then the Americans made a fatal mistake...

On turn 6 the US ordered the Ares to fall back and retreat off the board.  It was this hidden mech that really kept me from controlling the left side of the road!  He retreated and left himself open to my Abrams tank.  I took the shot with my mobility killed tank and HIT!  It wasn't an instant kill, it was a mobility kill.  But it set up my next activation!

My Bradley, which just occupied the last building, drew a line on the Ares, and nailed him with an ATGM!  That single shot produced one of the two "hard kills" that the LRL scored all game!  The road was now open for my AMX tank which activated with two actions!  He shot forward and poured fire on the retreating US squad and he drilled one of the evil Valkyries with a main gun shot! A second "hard" kill!  The LRL was on a roll now!

My AMX tank now totally ruled the road and the American defense, which seemed so unassailable just a couple of turns before, was totally broken!  The American cavalry fled  like a kicked dog!  Victory and the conquest of Centerville seemed right in my sights!!! Vive la liberté!  

But alas!!! It was turn 8 and the Americans weren't fleeing cowards.  They were "running" for a reason!

The GIs of the 26th Cavalry were under orders:  delay the enemy as long as possible, inflict as much damage as possible, and then BUG OUT!!! And that's what they did!  The surviving Valkyrie, an intact rifle squad, their HUMVEE, the crew of the other HUMVEE, and that %^M* sniper slipped off the board and into the shattered city of Centerville leaving me master of a blasted field.  But the losses..

Only this paltry group of LRL troops were able to move off the board by turn 8.  The rest of my forces were in sorry shape.  Six vehicles were burning wreckage or were piles of immobile junk waiting for the grease monkeys to try to spit and tape them back together.  Two of my rifle squads were at 50% or less and one squad, along with the insurgents, were plodding along on foot because they had no rides. I still had most of my troops, but I lost more than half of my vehicles!  I was able to secure all of the buildings, but more than half of the American force was able to flee!  And worse still, only three... THREE of my vehicles were able to pursue   

A solid win for the Americans!

What a game!  It was a real hoot despite the fact that I lost.  Up until now I've always viewed the LRL as a straw man, a target meant to be shot to pieces.  But this time I took the part of the "bad guys" and I really enjoyed the experience.  The LRL troopers really showed great courage and determination in this action and they really fought their hearts out for me.  Even 'dead' vehicles like my Abrams were able to show they they were down, but not out by drilling the Ares MBS.  But alas, courage and dogged determination just wasn't enough.  The Americans fought a brilliant rear guard action and showed their professionalism and training in every encounter in this action.  The Scouts of the 26th Cavalry showed me that they are a force to be reckoned with.   

On the whole I am very pleased with this game!  Ultra-Fubar really is a great engine and overall it gave me a very satisfying game.  There were a few warts though!  First I still haven't really decided how I'm going to use drones in the game.  I want them to be important but I haven't figured out how to work them.  Right now I assign them to squads and activate them with the squad in question   However I allow them to move and operate on their own.  That's good.  However I'm not sure how to use them from a mechinacal point-of-view.  Should they count as regular casualities?  Should they have their own armor?  Should they be counted for suppression?  All of these are things that I need to think about.  Second, how should vehicle weapons be treated in Ultra-Fubar?  Should I be able to fire every weapon on a vehicle with one action, even if it moves?  What if a vehicle get only one action, should it be able to shoot every weapon?  Finally I have to say that I'm not happy with my spotting rules! Most of the time I completely forgot about them... it that's the case then why do I have them in the first place?  I might try to pull them into another game, but honestly what do they add to my game other than complication?  I want some sort of rule that allows units to be hidden so I can get some fog of war into my games.  But what should it be?

Anyway it really was a great game!  I really enjoyed it from beginning to end.  Ultra-Fubar really has a lot going for it.  It's simple, it's fun, it gives you a better game than I-GO U-GO games.  And it does it in such a flavorful way.  I'm really hooked on this little engine.  

So on to the next!  Now the LRL's remaining battalion must face off with elements of the 4th Marines and my Marines get to use their Jackson light tanks for once!  This should be a hoot!  And if i play my cards right and get some work done then the Americans will soon see evidence of a growing alliance between the Republic of Liberty and the Neo-Soviet Union!  More later!

Semper fi, carry on!!

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Battle of Centerville Pt. 2: The Cavalry's Stand

US Background  

While the battle was developing north of town, elements of C Troop, 1/26 CAV were moving east of town to establish a mechanized screen in the open plain to cover this wide open avenue of approach.  The 26th was a newly formed unit having only been organized back in March of 2181 from elements of the 57th Infantry, Liberty National Guard, and from the regular Army's 1/89 CAV.  The 1/26 CAV has always been a fascinating unit to many historians because of it's odd heritage.  The original 26th Cavalry regiment was formed in the aftermath of WWI and it served through out the whole interwar period as a vital part of the US garrison in the Philippines.  In the opening months of the Pacific War the 26th gained the unique distinction as being the last US cavalry formation to launch an actual mounted cavalry charge with its Filippino troopers led by regular army officers.  The new 1/26 CAV wound up being a similar formation:  a mixed unit of American and Filippino-American colonists lead by regular army officers.

Back in March LIBCON decided to deactivate the ANG's 57th Infantry Regiment in order to reinforce the battered 45th Infantry which had suffered heavily in the northern county's counter-insurgency campaign.  However there were still several hundred ANG guardsmen left after the reorganization so, with approval from Congress, LIBCON reflagged these troopers, along with an attached cadre from the 1/89 CAV, as the 1st Squadron, 26th Cavalry Regiment.  The newly formed squadron was brigaded with 1/45 INF and 2/45 INF to form the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the ANG's 12th Infantry Division (Liberty).  Unlike the other battalions of the brigade, the 26th had a very large contingent of Filippino-Americans because most of its guardsmen came from Cavite County, a principally Filippino county in southern Liberty.  The unit had just finished its organization in August when it was assigned to Task Force Bataan to help defeat the insurgency on Crossland.  By late November the campaign was winding down and the squadron received orders to redeploy to Liberty to rest and reorganize.  When the LRL hit the beaches of northern Crossland only B, C, and elements of HQ Troop were still on Crossland and only C Troop had any personnel in Centerville.  

At the time of the invasion C Troop was actually finishing up the process of loading their vehicles and mecha into their dropships to redeploy back to Liberty!  The troopers quickly unloaded their gear and troopers from throughout the squadron were dragooned into service to bring C Troop back to wartime manning.  The troop had barely two days to reorganize and train before they met the LRL in battle, east of Centerville.

C Troop OOB:  Seasoned (Expertise 4+ though!)  (mecha pilots are veteran)

Two Recce Sections with:  1 Sergeant, 1 HUMVEE IV Apache w/Lt. Plasma gun, 1 M3 Valkyrie mecha, 1 rifle squad with 1 SAW and 3 M41a AR/UGL (one trooper per platoon with a sniper rifle), 1 gun drone (counts as a sensor drone but has a HMG), 1 sensor drone (Armor 4+, Move 6", may move as an independent unit but doesn't count as a unit for victory conditions, has regular sensors and may spot for artillery and non-los units).

Attached 1 M1 Ares MBS.

That totals:  2 sergeants (veterans) with M41A AR/UGL, 2 HUMVEEs, 2 Valkyrie mecha, 1 Ares mecha, 8 riflemen with 2 SAWs, and two gun drones armed with MGs.  That's a lot of firepower in such a small unit but its anti-tank firepower is a bit lean.  I wonder if the plasma cannons will be effective against LRL armor?

I'm only allocating one artillery mission to this game because I'm going to really need it in the upcoming infantry clash!  Hopefully this mix of mechanized elements will be enough to hold back the LRL tide!

LRL Background

While many people view the American-Liberty War as being clash between Americans and the "French" this wasn't wasn't always the case.  In fact the Republic of Liberty's population was made up of several different nationalities and ethnic groups.  One group which gets missed a lot in post war treatments are the Liberty-Americans.  The colonization of Liberty was a joint effort between the US, the Philippines, and France and many Americans settled in the temperate northern continent.  These Americans were just as independence minded as their French neighbors and they joined the rebellion against the French Union in the '60s.  By the 80's these "yankees" were vital parts of the LRL and the republic's government despite the general feeling of anti-Americanism that existed in the former colony at the time.

In fact, many LRL units that were formed from the southern provinces of the Republic were primarily made up of American colonists.  The LRL's 23eme Regiment was one such unit with 60% of its ranks being of American decent.  Whenever these units came into contact with American units the fight became particularly grim as the troops on both sides viewed the others as traitors.  For American troops, these "damnedyankees" or "tories" were the most vile of foes because they spoke english, were American in custom and culture, but they took up arms against their "own" people to defend a fascist/racist/communist regime   To the Liberty-Americans the "loyalists"  represented the worst elements of the country they left behind:  arrogant centralists who sought to take the lands, resources, and freedoms of everyone they could for the "common good".

The 23eme RI was a highly regarded regiment in the LRL because of its excellent esprit de corps, it's high level of professionalism, and its unwavering devotion to the Republic.  These troops were the elite shock troops of the 2d Brigade and their weapons and attachments showed that trust.

OOB 23eme RI (seasoned)

1 rifle platoon with four six man squads.  Two squads have SAWs and two squads have RPGs.  

4 attached Rockjumper technicals with HMGs.

2 AMX-60 hover APCs

2 M2A6 Bradley IFV.

2 M1A6 Block III Abrams MBTs.

2 Cells of insurgents (six total insurgents- Veteran) .  One cell may have a RPG.

2 Artillery bombardments.


US:  can deploy up to midboard in cover terrain.  The gunbots, recce drones, and infantry  can start the game deployed in Hidden positions.  

LRL:  On turn 1 the technicals and any two other vehicles can enter the board.  The remaining vehicles can enter on any other turn at the LRL player's discretion.  The infantry begin the game riding in either any of the troop carrying vehicles except the technicals.  The other vehicles deployed on turn 1 can be troop carrying APCs.  LRL insurgents may be deployed according to the guerrilla special rule.  


4' by 4' board with a east/west road moving through the center of the board.  There are no major water obstacles but a small pond placed anywhere on the board is fine (no larger than 2" circle).  2-4 woods are okay but they should be spaced at least 6" apart.  2-3 buildings should be placed to represent small farm steads.  No more than two small hills should be deployed.  Think open country side suitable for farming.  


LRL:  Sieze all buildings, exit 50% of all vehicles (5 vehicles total) with at least one mounted squad, inflict at least 50% casualties on the Americans.  

US:  Keep full force on the board for at least 6 turns then exit as many units possible (at least 50% or 3 vehicles/squads), disable/destroy at least 50% of all enemy vehicles (5 total),  keep the enemy from exiting 5 or more units/vehicles.  

Game Length:

8 turns.

(Murphy's) Special Event Cards:
One card is drawn if either side rolls a 1 during initiative with the player who rolled the 1 getting to keep the card.  Players may play the card when allowed to by the card.  If both sides roll a 1 (snake eyes!) then each player draws a card.  Cards which are played can go back into the deck to be used again.  

2 Cards:  "You're coming in broken and stupid!"  During an enemy activation, after they roll the activation die, play this card and this unit cannot take any actions at all and the initiative goes to you!

2 Cards:  "Are these critters poisonous? "  Play during any enemy infantry activation.  Each player then rolls a die with the high player getting to pick one trooper in the unit to be attacked with 1 FP with no armor save!

2 Cards:  "Negative on fire support, trooper!"  Play after the enemy rolls to activate a fire support mission.  The mission is canceled and the enemy loses that fire mission completely!

2 Cards:  "What a piece of crap!!!"  Play after the enemy successfully activates a vehicle of any type.  It suffers the following malfunction:
1-2  Engine overheats, vehicle can't move this turn!
3      Fire control goes down, no shooting this turn.
4      JAM!!  One projectile weapon on the vehicle goes down until the unit activates again                    
         and passes an expertise test (treat as a fire action with no actual shot- roll one die).
5      Coms are down!  This unit cannot spot for non-LOS weapons including artillery for the 
        rest of the game.
6     "It's dead, Jim..."  The vehicle suffers a serious breakdown.  Treat as a vehicle destroyed       
       but with no hits to the crew. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Battle of Centerville Part 1 AAR

The Battle of Centerville Part 1:  The Gunny's Alamo

Okay, after much waffling and wasting of time, plus a hurricane, here's a battle report on my game last month.  It's just the 1st battle in a simple three battle (maybe four!) campaign using FUBAR to decide the fate of the American controlled colony on Crossland Island.  A victory for the LRL will open the door for a massive invasion of the main American colony on planet Liberty.  This battle also marks my first use of Rebel Minis Raptor minis.  These evil beasts are Neo-Soviet bio-warfare cyber-monsters!  These vicious beasts are used as cannon fodder shock troops and are widely exported to nations that don't mind using horrid beasts to do their dirty business.

Force wise this was the largest single battle that I've ever ran at my house:

US OOB:  USCM veteran, US Army seasoned

Two Army rifle squads each with 6 rifles with UGL, 2 SAW.
One Bradley AFV
One Seraph Medium Mech
One USCM rifle section with two squads of four.  Each with a SAW plus Gunnery Sgt Anderson. (this unit is the reserve unit mentioned earlier... I hope I didn't mess up by committing it too soon!)
One M577 APC
One sniper

LRL OOB:  All troops seasoned with one veteran squad.

Four six man Seasoned rifle squads. Two with SAWS, two with RPGs.
One six man Veteran rifle squad with one SAW.
One squad of ten Raptor Cybots.
Two Rockjumper Technicals with HMGs.
One Abrams MBT.
One Neo-Soviet warbot.
Two four man insurgent cells with RPGs.

Both sides had access to three artillery strikes.  As it turned out only the American's fires would really be decisive... which was good because that is half of the US force's available artillery support.  This means that I'll only have three more salvos to split across two more scenarios.  I get the feeling that I'll regret being so aggressive with my reserves and fire support!  

There were only two of us playing:  me and my son Jeremy.  Me and Jer usually "play" one side together and I run, with some help from Jeremy, the "bad guys".  

We decided that the LRL's objectives in the game would be the ruins near the bridge, the bridge itself, and the Alamo.  The side which controlled two of the three would win the game!

After both sides set-up the LRL got to place the two insurgent cells as per the guerrilla special rule.  That worked out great because neither the Army nor Marines had motion trackers!  So the insurgents took up hiding positions just across the river from the main US strongpoint.  This was really irritating too because they were hidden and couldn't be shot at until they move or opened fire!  This would bite us later in the game. 

The rest of the LRL hoard was across the river in this massive hoard formation with the vehicles in the center, the infantry interspaced between the vehicles, and the Raptors forming a skirmish line to the front.  What an artillery target!!! We couldn't wait for our first activation to start laying down the hurt.

On the other side of the river our troops were deployed into strong defensive positions.  Jeremy's Army troops deployed in the Alamo with fire teams in the two main buildings and the rest in the courtyard along the wall.  Up in the tower Jeremy's sniper found a nice hidey hole to hang out in.  The two buildings next the the Alamo, along the river, were occupied by Anderson's marines with one squad in each building.  The vehicles took up positions out of sight but with a good LOS to the bridge.  We had great fields of fire with lots of overlap.  This would be a really tough nut for the LRL to crack. 

The battle opened up very well for us.  

The LRL troops rushed toward the bridge with the Raptors in the lead.  We let them have it when they reached the fighting position in front of the bridge.  Over the next two turns we dropped our artillery on their AFVs and started racking up hits quickly.  One team of four Raptors evaporated in seconds.  Other shells smashed into AFVs and the warbot shutting them down.  It seemed like one vehicle after another was mobility killed or stunned.  That shut down their mobile firepower and ensured that our positions in the Alamo would be safe from heavy LRL guns.  This massing of vehicles was a costly LRL mistake.

This was one really nasty artillery strike that wiped out one LRL squad and trashed the neo-soviet warbot.  The glass beads mark units that have already activated.

Time to rethink things for the LRL!  I decided to split up the Raptors into two teams so that they could cross the river and assault the Marine fighting positions.  Hopefully that would shut down the deadly accurate marine rifle fire and allow the infantry to deploy into good cover and force their way across the river.  

One thing that worried Jeremy to death was the Abrams.  He was certain that it would destroy his Seraph so he begged me to drop our last arty barrage on it in the hopes that it would be destroyed.  I didn't think that it would work but I gave it a shot anyway.

And it worked!  Some great die rolling by Jeremy!  We had be able to stun the beast with the other strikes but inflicted no real damage on it.  Then that last round came in and BOOM!  Up it went on a 6 on the damage table.  Now things were really looking up for our outnumbered yanks.

In the meantime the Raptors made steady progress.  These bad boys made every activation roll and swiftly raced for their targets.  My marines laid down some fires on them but no joy.  The few hits I made were shrugged off by their armor.  It was about to get very ugly...

And then they made their move!!!!  These swift beasts bounded over the river (a special rule allowed them to ignore the river because they could jump across it) and rushed the marine strongpoints.

And in an instant the leathernecks were in hand-to-hand combat with the monsters.  Jeremy really got up-set (hey, he's 9).  "They're gonna die daddy!!!" he moaned!

By the beginning of turn four things were pretty ugly for the Americans.  The two marine positions were in melee with the Raptors which shut-down a lot of US firepower.  The GIs tried to keep up the fire but they just didn't have the LOS that the marines had.  This slacking of fire allowed the LRL's regular troops to move into cover.  Also the new Ultra rules helped a lot too.  Normally Seasoned troops had a 50/50 chance of activating and getting to do something.  If they failed then they were locked into place, and many times, that could last for several turns.  I didn't pass every roll but I was able to move all of my LRL units forward.  This created a lot of tension in the game because we could just see all of the LRL grunts moving up to join the battle.  

Melee actions broke out at the beginning of the turn and luck just wasn't with the Raptors!  My marines had a hot run on the dice and were actually winning most of the combats. The Raptors took down several marines but they lost even more!

These melees lasted for two turns because neither side was willing to back down.  The marines dug in their heels, broke out their K-bars, and mobbed the Raptors.  

Even Gunny Anderson got into the fray by going toe-to-toe with a Raptor.  I just knew that the vaunted gunny was going down but apparently he didn't get the memo!  Anderson killed his foe during turn 4 then joined the other fight in turn 5 and took down that Raptor too!!!  Chalk up two for the gunny!!! 

All of the Raptors were dead by the end of turn 6 but they did their job.  Both marine squads were at 50% and the LRL line squads were able to move into cover.  Once the melees were over waves of small arms fire swept over the marine positions.  The Gunny's was hit the hardest!  Gunny watched as his two remaining marines were shot down by accurate rifle and mg fire.  It was just proving to be too much for the Americans!  We had little choice but to move up our AFVs to support the handful of marines that were left.  The sniper joined in too by picking off both a RPG gunner and a SAW gunner!  That was some sharp shooting. Maybe that would be enough to stave off a LRL rush across the river.

Actually, as it turned out, moving up the AFVs was a very bad idea.  By moving forward we placed our AFVs into enemy RPG range and we instantly paid for it.  The squad on the LRL's right flank got into range and nailed Jeremy's Bradley with a lucky RPG strike.  In quick succession after that the insurgent squads let loose with their RPGs and hit my M577 and the Seraph mech!  My APC was a mobility kill... the Seraph was a total loss.  Now things were really bad.  We lost nearly all of our armor support and the LRL was in solid firing positions and laying down sheets of small arms fire.  I thought that was the game really.   The LRL had already secured the ruined buildings thereby taking that objective.  To win all they needed to do was to move across the bridge and kill my three remaining marines!  By doing that there would no US figures within 12" of the bridge and that would allow them to claim that objective... and in our game claiming two of the there objectives amounted to a win!

And they went for it!  While the other squads laid down fires one LRL veteran team rushed the bridge to secure it.  In response the GIs in the Alamo dumped all the fire that they could into the LRL vets.  My marines concentrated their fires on the two ruins across from the bridge in an attempt to take out the insurgents and the rifle squads.  Even the gunny, who was the last marine in the southern building, joined in on the act by shooting his UGL at a squad of LRL troopers on the opposite bank of the river.

Once again luck was on the side of the Americans!  My fires destroyed both insurgent teams (my remaining marines were shooting grenades and SAWs) while Jeremy's GIs swept the bridge and the teams in light cover along the river.  At least 12 LRL troops went down in one turn either as suppression or causalities .. and the US sniper was on fire too!  He dropped another RPG gunner with a round to the head (a six expertise roll!).  And like that the fire slacked off.  Two LRL squads failed their activation rolls and fell back because they were at 50% strength.  The enemy was broken and had little choice but to fall back.  

We paid dearly for our win.  Only three of my nine marines were unhurt and my APC was a mobility kill.  Jeremy lost both his Bradley and his Seraph and three riflemen, but he still held the Alamo and that was what counted.  But better still my marines were in control of the two outlying buildings and were within 12" of the bridge so we were still able to contest control of the bridge.  The only objective the LRL held were the ruins on the other side of the bridge.  That translated into a minor victory for the US.

It was a really close game!  I honestly thought that we lost the game when our AFVs were wiped out as I didn't see how our infantry could hold.  But hold they did!  And we inflicted some punishing losses on the LRL.  We killed all of their vehicles and insurgents, and we inflicted 6 causalities on the LRL rifle platoon and another three on the veteran LRL squad.  Quite a body count!

Special mention has to be made for Gunnery Sergeant Anderson.  If you've been following my games then you know that he's "my" character sort of like Billy Pink is for Ed at THW. Usually the Gunny gets in a lick or two but in this game the gunny really shone!  I just knew that he was a goner several time but the old sergeant proved me wrong.  He really was a pain in the back to the LRL and an inspiration to his fellow marines.  If it wasn't for him odds are that the LRL would have pulled off a win.  But the Gunny refused to be budged out of his building!  He's hard as nails!

This was my first outing using Craig's suggestions for Ultra FUBAR and it was really a game changer.  This was a very different game from my last FUBAR game:

Ultra FUBAR takes the basic activation system and changes it by splitting up what a unit can do into two actions.  If you pass your activation roll then you get two actions with the unit and then you can pick another unit to activate when you're done.  If you fail that roll then your unit only gets one activation and they initiative switches to the other player.  That happened a lot for the LRL!  Most of their units were seasoned and they failed their activation rolls as often as they passed them.  Normally in FUBAR this would mean that the LRL would have not been able to really put the numbers together to launch any real sort of attack.  It would have just bogged down into units scattered across the board and unable to launch any sort of coordinated action.  Ultra FUBAR kept that from happening.  Even with one action a unit which fails it activation roll can still do something meaningful!  This caused the tempo of the game to pick-up and made things very interesting.  However play still switched back and forth like in regular FUBAR and neither side got everything it wanted.  That felt right to me.

Anyway, it was a very enjoyable game!  I see Ultra FUBAR as my "go to" game now as it's so easy to set-up and play.  No muss, no fuss.  Just a plain fun game to toss on the table and play out in an easy afternoon (2 or so hours).  I'll keep playing Ambush Alley and THW games because I enjoy them so much but I see FUBAR as my basic game for a quick and fun game.  

If you haven't tried it out yet then you should.  It's a free game that's very simple but has a lot of meat on its bones when it comes to game play.  Give it a go... you won't be sorry.

Anyway, next up is a clash of armor and mecha!  Time to meet the boys of the 26th Cavalry.

Semper fi, carry on...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Battle of Centerville

Hi all,

I meant to do this post a while ago but Hurricane Sandy decided that she knew better... anyway here is the background and campaign rules for my Centerville Campaign.  I've already played scenario #1 and I'll be playing #2 later today.  

Background:  The Centerville Campaign

The Centerville Campaign is viewed by many historians as the opening gambit of the Liberty-American War of 2081.  While there were several other "police actions", "counter-insurgencies", and "provocations" going on at the same time it was on the equatorial island of Crossland that American and Republic of Liberty of forces engaged in the first formal battles of the Liberty-American War.

The Republic of Liberty has long claimed at least partial sovereignty over the Crossland Island colony by the virtue of being the successor to the French Union on the planet of Liberty.  The United States has long hotly contested this argument by asserting that the French Union sold its interests on Crossland to the US in the days proceeding the peace agreement between the Republic of Liberty and the French Union.  It is true that the FU did agree to transfer sovereignty over Crossland in exchange for an undisclosed, but substantial, monetary payment.  However no international/interstellar body has ever acknowledged the agreement and indeed, even to this day, lawyers are still arguing the point in international court!

The "agreement" between the US and the FU sparked heated protests from the Republic of Liberty and even led to a low level insurgency in the formerly jointly administered territories.  The US, which already had troops in these areas, launched a vigorous counterinsurgency campaign which saw many of the pro-republican partisans killed, jailed, or deported.  This lead to allegations from the Republic that the US was engaged in "ethnic cleansing" of Libertarian French "Habitants" in order to establish American settlements in the disputed lands.   This counterinsurgency effort was still on-going when the LRL's 2eme Brigade stormed onto the shores of Crossland Island.  This invasion was launched in concert with LRL supported uprisings in the northern counties of the Commonwealth.  In addition, the LRL's infant space fleet launched attacks against US Navy high-guard patrols above the planet.  These combined efforts rocked the American forces on their heels and left Liberty Command (LIBCOM, the joint services command on Liberty) in disorder and confusion.  

Indeed, the situation was very ripe for a massive invasion of the disputed territories.

Crossland:  The Opening Battles

In December 2181 US forces on Crossland Island were still heavily engaged in Operation Sudden Fury: an effort to finally break the insurgent siege of Centerville.  Earlier back in June Task Force Bataan, led by Brigadier David Wainwright, launched a massive assault from orbit and landed to the west and behind the Crossland insurgents who were laying siege to the city of Centerville and its vital spaceport.  The assault, supported by Navy frigates in orbit, broke the siege lines and sent the surviving rebels reeling back into the swamps in the Crossland River Basin which lay to the east of the city.  Task Force Bataan immediately gave chase and soon found itself scattered all across the eastern side of the island- split into platoon and strike group sized elements and garrisoning dozens of small Forward Operating Bases (FOBs).  The situation on Crossland quickly against US forces when the 2eme Brigade arrived.

During the early morning hours of December 7, 2081 three LRL battalions (21eme RI, 22 eme RI, and 23 eme RI)  landed, unopposed, on the northern shore of Crossland Island and swiftly began moving inland.  Only elements of C Company, 2/31st Infantry were in position to meet the invasion.  While C Company's counterattack delayed the LRL's advance for a short time, it was soon clear that there simply weren't enough forces available to seriously contest the LRL's advance.  General Wainwright had very little choice but to order his scattered Regular Army and Army National Guard troops to fall back on the island's captial: Centerville.  In addition, Wainwright ordered TF Bataan elements engaged in counterinsurgency operations around the Crossland Basin to move concentrate on Centerville for a stand against the LRL.  Finally the general called on LIBCON's reserve, the 11th MAU, to board their dropships and to reinforce Centerville from orbit.  

By December 9th, 2081 the LRL regiments were only a few miles outside of Centerville and only facing scattered resistance from Liberty ANG and Defense Force elements lead by US Special Forces A-team detachments.  Centerville was soon faced with three fast moving LRL battalions advancing on the city from the north, west, and the east.  Wainwright moved the scant forces under his command to cover the approaches to the city.  His only hope of saving the city was to delay the LRL forces long enough for the 11th MAU to come to the rescue.  To the north he deployed the remnants of C Company, 2/31 Infantry to cover the river crossing at Dover and to protect the National Guard Armory there.  To the west Wainwright moved C Troop, 1/26 Cav to screen the approaches along Highway 7.  Finally to the east the general moved up elements of 2/4th Marines and their CAAT platoon to screen the eastern approaches: Highway 7.  In reserve Wainwright only had a few sections of 2/4th Marines, one of which was moved to reinforce the 31st Infantry at Dover.  

The situation for the American forces in Centerville was as clear as it was desperate: All three defense lines MUST HOLD in order for the 11th MAU to land and counterattack.  Failure at any point would see LRL troops moving into the city center could lead to the fall of the vital aerospace port.

The Campaign

I'm looking at four linked scenarios.  The first three have LRL units attacking three different US defense forces:  a USA infantry platoon reinforced by Marines, a US Armored Cavalry platoon equipped with Valkyrie mecha, and a USCMC platoon with some HUMVEEs supporting them.  LRL forces will be roughly reinforced platoon sized forces standing in for the LRL "regiment" that is attacking the city of Crossland.  The final battle will be either an open-field action between a mechanized USCMC company (11th MAU) and a LRL company (standing in for the remaining LRL 2eme Brigade forces) or a urban clash between the surviving US forces and the LRL invaders.  

My first battle report will cover the battle at Dover (the Alamo).  My second will cover the clash between a mechanized LRL force and the US armored cavalry west of town.  The third will be a small town action with my USCMCs trying to defend the eastern approaches of Centerville.  The final action will depend on who wins the first three.  If the US suffers even one defeat then the LRL gets to invade Centerville and that action will resolve the campaign.  If the US gets at least a draw in all three actions then the LRL gets to face the 11th MEU in the open country east of town.  This will be a mechanized clash with tanks, apcs, and other vehicles.  

Prior to the scenario beginning, the US players can decide to commit their USCMC reserves (one USCMC section with an M577 APC) to the battle.  Once the reserve is committed the US play has no other reserves!  The LRL player has only the forces committed to the battle and no reserves.  However he does have access to indirect artillery support (three barrages in each battle) to represent their battalion mortar assets and the brigade's artillery assets.  The US player has a total of 6 artillery barrages that he can use however he wants in the campaign.  But once all six are used then he no longer has artillery support unless he wins/draws all three battles in which case he gets three new barrages to represent fire support from US Navy frigates in orbit.

More later!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

More Ultra-FUBAR updates from Craig

Hi all,

Craig just tossed this out for FUBAR:

Choice   Actions         Effect
Move   One   An infantry unit can move 6”, a vehicle possibly further. 
Shoot   One  The Unit can fire at an enemy, see Ranged Combat.
Fight   One        The Unit can carry on with close combat against an enemy that is already in close combat with it.
Assault   Two The Unit can move up to an enemy and engage in Close Combat.
Run           Two The Unit can make a double move.
Aimed Fire  Two        The Unit can fire at an enemy with a ranged combat bonus of +1.
Disengage   Two       The Unit can withdraw from close combat one move (i.e. 6” for infantry).
Overwatch   Two The Unit reserves its action until later in the turn, when it can then fire at an enemy.
Counter-attack Two  The Unit reserves its action until later in the turn when it is assaulted by an enemy. Counter-attacking denies the assault its assault bonus.

Sorry about the formatting issues up there.  Anyway, this is a nice step in the direction of getting the activation system.  I'll play around with them some and get them into my Liberty FUBAR 15mm set.  I'm assuming that vehicles follow these rules as well with a shoot activation allowing an AFV to fire off all of its weapons unless the unit has a special rule for that.  

Looks like some cool stuff that I'll have to try out with my next game.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

My version of FUBAR Ultra

In my last game I tried out FUBAR with some of the Ultra changes that were suggested here:

I also tried out some of the suggested movement rates for 15mm too.  After playing with all these rules from hither and yon I decided to up-date my copy of FUBAR so that I could have all of my rules in one place.  So I took that one page format and tried to change it in MS Word... didn't really work right!  What an annoying mess.  It goes to show you what a tight editing job Craig and company did to squeeze all of text and tables into just one standard page of paper!

So be warned, this isn't a one page FUBAR any more.  It's more like 8!  

So what's in it?  First I changed around the activation rules to incorporate the Ultra suggestions.  Then I switched out the movement rates to the suggested 15mm rates which took a little figuring.  I'm not sure what I think about the smaller movement rates though.  4" in one turn seems a bit too little for infantry as does 8" for vehicles.  I might have to look that over again to make sure I have the correct rates.  Finally I added a few clarifications for suppression and assault rifles with under/over grenade launchers.

Anyway, here it is:

Tgunner FUBAR Draft 1.0

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Gunny's Last Stand? FUBAR Ultra Pt 1

Hi All,

Well we just wrapped up our game a few minutes ago and man, what a game!  It was a rip-snorting, good ole fashion, shoot-em up! I've played FUBAR several times now and I've have had a lot of fun with it.  But I've always come away from it feeling disappointed, or even cheated, when it came to the activation system.  Then back  in August Craig posted this as a set of activation rules to consider for the next version of FUBAR:

"I am thinking that we would be better moving to a system similar to, but a little simpler than, Dead Men Walking, i.e.:

Roll Activation die:

- If you roll equal to or more than the required activation number your unit can take two actions this turn.

- If you roll less than the required activation number your unit gets only one action this turn.

The list of possible actions could include:
- Move
- Shoot
- Assault (move to enemy and attack them - takes two actions)
- Run (double move - takes two actions)
- Aimed Fire (+1 to shooting rolls - takes two actions)
- Disengage from close combat (single move away from combat - takes two actions)
- Overwatch, reserving your fire until later in the turn (takes two actions)
- Counter-attack, reserving your action until you are assaulted later in the turn, denying the assaulter his assault bonuses (takes two actions)

So as you can see this opens up a huge number of tactical options, but doesn't disproportionately punish the player who made the poor roll."

So I tried it out tonight and I have to say, it's a real, honest game changer!  Tonight's game was so much more satisfying than any of my other games of FUBAR.  

So back to the game.  I started with only a few squads per side then my son, Jeremy, announced that he wanted to play so I really expanded the game!  This was easily the largest game, figure wise, that I've ever played in 15mm.  

Here's the line-up:

USCMC Section- Gunny Anderson, two rifle squads of four men, and one M577 APC.

US Army platoon- two seven man squads split into two fire teams with 3/4 men (the 4 man team had the squad leader).  The US Squads had no MGs, just M41 Pulse rifles with grenade launchers! The platoon also had one Seraph scout mech, a sniper, and a Bradley III MICV attached.

Supporting the US force was a RAM mortar platoon with three salvos.  Either the gunny or the Army LT could call it on a 4+.  It has a 2" blast zone and hits with 4 FP on a 4+.

The LRL was much larger and much more scary!

The center piece of the force was a full LRL rifle platoon with three six man squads: one with a MMG, the other two with RPGs.  The CP team had four men and the LT could call arty like the Americans.

The LRL hoard in all its glory!

Supporting the LRL platoon were two four person Centerville insurgent cells with four people- 3 ARs and a fourth trooper carrying an AR and a RPG (with just one shot).  Also the LRL brought two light armored technicals armed with a HMG, on M1A4 Step III MBT (heavy armor, heavy gun, HMG), a Neo-Soviet Cylon Class gunbot (light vehicle with light armor and two HMGs), and finally 10 Neo-Soviet Raptor I Class Cyber-Driods (treated as Aliens style bugs).  

The LRL's objective was simple:  clear the last remains of the USA/USCM's defenses in front of the city of Centerville on Crossland Island and secure the National Guard armory in the town.  To win the LRL had to take the bridge across the Crossland River and secure the armory.  To win the US player has to stop them!

It was an ugly situation.  When I set-up the armory I got this feeling... it was the Alamo!

The Alamo with the bridge to its front

Indeed, it was an ugly fight and it cost the US and the LRL dearly!  Both sides took awful losses in the fight.  The butcher's final bill still isn't known yet.  I still have to roll on the survival table to see.  But regardless the Americans held but only barely.  While the Neo-Soviets haven't reached the battlefield, yet, their reach was felt.  The Raptor attack bots were swift and terrible foes.  Even the Gunny had to go toe-to-toe with these horrible beasts!

The Gunny's Last Stand????

Good thing the old Gyrene brought his K-Bar!!  I took a lot more pictures of the game and I'll write-up a more formal, blow-by-blow of this epic struggle this weekend when I have time.

Needless to say, I'm very impressed with this new FUBAR Ultra.  It still keeps the feel of the older versions but it's more dynamic.  Even if you fail an activation roll you still get to do something with the unit that you tried to activate and that did lead to many tense moments in the game.  Ultra FUBAR is a much more dynamic, and more importantly, fun game.  I think I've found my easy standby game for modern and sci-fi gaming.  When I want a harder, crunchier game I'm reaching for Force-on-Force. But when I want a simple, beer and pretzels game to toss dice and blow stuff up Ultra FUBAR is my game.  

Try it out, really, it's a serious game changer!

Anyway, more later.

Semper fi, carry on.