A couple of weeks ago I decided to try out the free rules set: FUBAR. I've heard a lot about the rules and I wanted to try them out for myself. This AAR is a bit of a watershead for Down Range as it is my first non sci-fi game. I'm not getting out of sci-fi by any means though. I'm just trying out 15mm skirmish in a different genre! That's what I love about the scale- there is just so much out there that 15mm covers and that's a primary reason why I've moved over to the scale.
At one time I use to have different scales for different genres! That made collecting terrain and miniatures a serious challenge for me. For example, I played all my sci-fi in 6mm, but my fantasy and modern was in 28mm! Now some of my terrain worked for both scales (an a mini here and there too for that matter). But really I found that I had a little bit of everything and a whole lot of nothing! I had a lot of stuff in general, but not much of anything in any given scale. Picking just one basic scale has made collecting troops, vehicles, and terrain so much easier. I can even intermix miniatures and terrain as I want so now each of my different collections support the other so each dollar I spend will get used more often. In fact if you've been following my blog then you'll probably see some familiar stuff being used again but this time on Earth in our times!
Anyway, time to get off of my soap box and on to the game.
Like I said earlier, I've never played FUBAR before so I wanted a pretty basic game to try out. I also invited my son, Jeremy, to bring his US rifle squad to bulk out my numbers (and to play a game with daddy!). This action is a hypothetical clash between US and the Russian Federation during the 2008 South Ossetia War. In my scenario, some American units were late leaving Georgia after the "Immediate Response" exercises and were moved out of Tbilisi to set-up a blocking line between the victorious Russian forces the the defeated, retreating Georgians. My platoon (-) has been assigned to take a small hill that overlooks the Tbilisi-Gori highway and to stop any further Russian advance on Tbilisi. Unfortunately the crack Russian VDV have stole a march on the Americans by deploying a weak platoon via helicopter to secure this important hill for themselves. Now the American Strykers have to play a round of King-of-the-Hill with the best conventional troops the Russians have to offer. The scene is set for a serious clash of first rate troops!
This game pits two squads of US Stryker brigade troops with an attached Stryker IFV and sniper team against two squads of vaunted Russian VDV "Blue Berets". I made both sides Veteran with the American snipers being crafty elites. I rated the Stryker as a medium AFV with a heavy machine gun. To give the Americans a bit more of an edge I assigned them ISAF rifles (from the Afgan supplement) and medium armor. The VDV troops just carried standard AK-74s and each squad was armed with two RPGs and two RPKs. Also the Russians were deployed in strong defensive positions with moderate cover and light body armor.
Here's the set-up:
I split the Russian squads up into four man fire teams based around either a RPG or a RPK. The RPG teams were deployed near the stream while the MG teams were up on the hill. As it turned out, this was a very wicked array of firepower with overlapping fields of fire. The US force started off-board and would have iniative. The sniper team started on the board hiding in the right hand ruin.
Objective wise the US force has to clear the Russians from the hill and inflict at least 50% casualities. The VDV's merely needed to hold their ground and inflict maximum casualities. Simple, right?
During the first turn all of the American units were able to activate and roll/march onto the board in a rough skirmish line. So far, so good as the GIs were out of the VDV's effective range.
My squad and the Stryker formed the platoon's left wing...
... while Jeremy's squad and the sniper team made up the right wing.
The blue berets just stayed in their positions and patiently waited for the GIs to enter their kill zone.
The next several turns were pretty much the same, grim, thing. Jeremy's squad tried to occupy the ruined farm complex on our right and walked into very savage VDV MG and RPG fire. The sniper team did its level best to suppress the Desants but to no avail. In particular this VDV team caused Jeremy no end of trouble!
These jerks activated EVERY TIME and laid down very accurate fire and basically pinned Jeremy's GIs down. Jeremy's squad was able to activate BUT its fire teams only had couple of unsuppressed troopers to fire back with. Granted, he kept his SAWs in action but they just couldn't lay down enough lead to pin the boys in blue down.
Our left flank wasn't any better. I don't know what the SNAFU was, but one of my fire teams AND the Stryker were just literally nailed to the ground and stubbornly refused to budge! For some reason I have an image of the Kosovo incident when the British paratroopers refused to push the VDV troopers out of the airport. Maybe my sergeant was saying "I'm NOT starting WWIII for you!" or something. Anyway, I just couldn't get them to activate at all and to make matters worse the infantry team was out of weapons range while the Stryker was glued in place and in the cross hairs of this RPG team...
They hit my Stryker nearly every turn but just couldn't do more than stun it... which ensured that they just sat there gawking. Maybe they just couldn't get over the fact that they were fighting Russians and not Iraqi or Afgan insurgents??? I did mange to get them to fire back, once, and the HMG did pin the VDV RPG team for a turn, but that was all the action I managed to get out of the Stryker crew. Eventually the other VDV RPG team managed to score a mobility kill on it, ensuring that it would remain little more than a pretty terrain piece for the rest of the game.
All the while though my one "functional" team moved forward, and in an act of absolute frustration/stupidity/guts, took up firing positions on a small hill, just left of the farm, and boldly opened up on the VDV RPG team that was hiding in the ruins and was causing my Stryker so much grief.
Their bold maneuver opened up a blistering firefight with the MG teams on the hill and my brave Strykers took it on the chin with everyone but the SAW gunner going down. However this act of sacrifice took pressure off Jeremy and he was able, finally, to deploy his Strykers into firing positions and to give some pain right back to the blue berets.
At the same time my squad leader/acting platoon leader was able to get the coms thing going and directed some deadly accurate mortar fire on the hill and suppressed one of the MG teams on the hill. Things were finally starting to come together! It was now time to hit the Russians hard!
Then we got the "recall order"!!!!
It was Supper time! Me and Jeremy both nearly threw our dice down! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!
I guess command got a case of cold feet and we were ordered to leave the VDV boys on their hill. For now anyway.
Victory wise it was a win for the VDVs. We didn't quite inflict 50% losses on their platoon and they still had complete control over the hill. Even though we lost in such an arbitrary manner this was easily one of the most fun, and frustrating (!), game I've ever played. FUBAR is really a fascinating gaming engine that does a great job modeling friction in warfare... maybe it does it TOO WELL. The activation mechanic really makes itself felt all through the game and it can really hose you (or your foe) at times. All it takes is one failed activation and you have a unit that's shut down for the turn AND your enemy gets to control the action in the game, well, at least until HE drops the ball. That makes for a very dynamic game at times.
One thing I'm torn about is the activation mechanic. On the one hand I really want to change it because it's truly annoying that a bit of bad luck can really shut down any plans you come up with... but! I LOVE the fact that this CAN happen and you just can't predict what will happen in any given turn ("Any Given Sunday" anyone???) because any die toss for activation could radically change the flow of the game.
This is definitely a game that I'll be trying out again!
Time now, Charlie Mike