Friday, September 27, 2013

Worst Case Scenario #8: 'The Brothers Kalashnikov' - A 'Chain of Command' AAR

This scenario is based on a short passage I came across while reading the post-apocalyptic novel 'Metro 2033' (a book I had posted on a few months ago). To recap, the premise of 'Metro 2033' is that in 2013 a nuclear/biological war devastates most of the world - twenty years later, the survivors of Moscow exist in the city's subway system, struggling to survive within a new dark age. 

In the book, the hero, Artyom, visits with an 'old timer' who, as a young man, served as a Russian army radio operator before 'the vodka hit the candle'. Over a campfire, the old vet tells Artyom about a T-90 tank crew, who having survived the initial nuclear strikes, decides to take their tank and slowly (and with many adventures) make their way east, into the less damaged interior of Russia. Here, along with other survivors, the tank crew digs-in their T-90 to serve as a defensive pillbox and begins a small community. The old timer says he lost contact with the group years ago but hopes that they've fared well.

This little side-story really captured my imagination and I thought it would provide a great setting for a small scenario. 

For rules I decided to use the new(ish) 'Chain of Command' with the addition of a couple modifications for a bit of post-apoc colour (more on that below).

The scenario's premise is that a few weeks prior to the events of the game, a local band of nasty 'Zone Raiders', commanded by four brothers ('The Brothers Kalashnikov'), overran a group of survivors from which they found a cache of priceless diesel fuel and a few crates of 125mm tank ammunition. The leader of the raiders knows of the dug-in T-90 (in fact he's obsessed with it) and schemes that if they can seize the tank from the settlers, refuel and rearm it, his band of mutated reprobates will be able to dominate the entire region.

I ran this game twice. Once for the lads from the Fawcett Ave Conscripts and again for our group here at home. For this AAR I describe what happened to the players in Regina, though the final outcome was very similar to that experienced by the lads in Winnipeg.

Below is an 'aerial' photo of the battlefield. The edge of the settlers' village is at the bottom of the image with their T-90 tank dug in, hull down, facing out from the hillside.   They also have a series of entrenchments arrayed in front of the hill with a bit of dead ground to their front (though this has been encroached upon by trees and crops as time has gone by). There is a small graveyard above and to the left of the entrenchments. There is also a burned-out village near the center of the table which includes a ruined church and coal tower. The rest of the table is made up of an assortment of trees and garden plots. 

The next image shows where both the Raiders and the Settlers have established their 'jump-off' points from which they will be able to deploy their troops. As you can see the Raiders have established jump-off points near and in the destroyed village and along the left-hand treeline, close to the graveyard. The Settlers have set the majority of their jump-off positions along the forward entrenchments, with one being held back near to the T-90.

For forces, the Raiders have three squads, each squad composed of a eight man rifle team along with a LMG team of four men. Two of the squads are rated green while the third is composed of veteran picked-men. The Raiders are led by 'The Brothers Kalashnikov' with each squad being led by one of the brothers (Junior Leaders in CoC terms) while the eldest brother commands the entire raiding force.

The Settlers are led by Boris, the original commander of the T-90, along with his son Yuri. Together they have fourteen men and women, ten riflemen and four in a LMG team. The Settlers are classed as regulars.  

Boris and son Yuri (both mounted on hex-shaped bases) command their fellow settlers in the defence of their village.
In addition, just before the Raider assault began, Boris managed to signal a plea for help to a nearby encampment composed of old hard-as-nails ex-Spetsnaz troopers. These guys are in heavy body armour and are classed as veterans. Due to their age (old wounds, too much vodka and bad joints) they move at a -1. Boris' Spetsnaz neighbours will arrive at the beginning of the 3rd turn.

Spetsnaz trooperx (gone-to-seed but still dangerous) rolling out as 'possible' reinforcements
After everyone had established their jump-off points I allowed the the Raiders to deploy a sniper who was secretly positioned in a second floor window in the ruined village. From there he had a commanding view of most of the battlefield (becoming a sporadic but very annoying thorn in the Settlers' side).

For a bit of post-apoc seasoning I added a few special rules into the mix. One was that even though EVERYONE carried an AK47, and there was a relative abundance of LMGs and HMGs on the table, the quality of the ammunition was very bad (being either over 20 years old or, worse yet, home made). So when a group fires its AKs and rolls more 1s than 6s then they will not be able to fire at full auto for the next turn (reduced to 1 die for each rifle) - this replicates the jamming and furious magazine swaps from bad ammo. Similarly for the LMGs and HMGs a die is rolled separately for each shot, if it is a 1 then the gun suffers a stoppage, and for any following 'shots' it will take a 5-6 to clear the stoppage in which case the gun can continue firing at its remaining rate of fire (but still looking out for 1s). I gave each team one turn of worry-free shooting, saying that each man had hoarded one clip/drum of military grade ammunition which would not be in danger of jamming. This turned out to be pretty fun in the game as each side bit their nails to see if their automatic weapons would work as they should and just when they should use their military grade ammo. For the heavy body armour of the Spetsnaz troopers I ruled that they would always be treated as being in Light Cover (upgraded to Heavy Cover if they were in terrain that provided some protection).

The game began with the Raiders jumping off with a squad (reinforced with a LMG) in the woods on the Settler's left flank and another within a field near the central wood. As the Raiders had no targets (the Settlers being hunkered down offboard) they ended their phase. 

Raiders moving forward under fire through a wood - figures from Pig Iron, painted by Greg
The Settlers' first phase started with a bang as they emerged ('jumped off' in CoC parlance) at their entrenchments and rattled off a 7.62mm 'greeting' towards the Raiders in the woods. This caused a point of shock but not much else. Next, one of the Settlers emerged from the tank cupola and began to rock-and-roll with the HMG causing a couple casualties and more shock on the same Raider squad in the woods.  To add insult to injury the Settlers rolled well enough to sustain their actions for another phase and continued to hammer away at the poor hapless Raiders causing more mayhem. These bad ladz were not having a good run of it!

Nonetheless, when the Raiders began their next phase their sniper cracked off a shot at the HMG gunner (who was isolated on the tank) and shocked him so badly that he broke and ran, leaving the HMG unmanned.

The Raider sniper lining up his shot on the HMG, getting fire direction from a nearby leader - figures from Pig Iron, painted by Greg
The Raiders then moved their squad up to the wood edge in order to get their LMG into close range, while their other squad began to move towards the edge of the central wood.

I'll telescope time here a bit and briefly describe the ensuing action which occurred over the next 20 or so phases:

While they managed to cause a few casualties on the entrenched Settlers, the Raider squad in the wood on the left flank ultimately broke and fell back under the punishing fire. 

Boris, the Settler leader, sent another runner back to the tank to re-man the HMG. 

A Settler clambering onto the T90 to man the HMG...
The lad made it to the T-90 but only lived long enough to fire off a single burst before he was killed by a single shot from the sniper. During this game the sniper also managed to wound both Boris and his son Yuri (reducing their command abilities).

...only to be ruthlessly sniped by the marksman back in the burnt-out village.
The Raiders who had moved into the central wood suffered much the same fate as their compatriots but they did manage to pull a few teeth before having to withdraw, carrying back as many wounded as they could.  

By this time the Raiders had deployed their last ace-in-the-hole: their veteran rifle team which was supported by a LMG unit. They advanced deftly under fire and began to press the Settlers heavily, breaking their LMG team which severely reduced the villagers' firepower.

Raider LMG - figures from some obscure outfit, painting by Greg.
By the beginning of Turn 3 the game was winding down to a nail-biting conclusion. The Raiders' veteran squad, led by the elder brother, moved through the central wood toward their final assault positions. Meanwhile, the remnants of Boris' force (down to four riflemen and his wounded son) looked over their shoulders for any sign of reinforcement from their Spetsnaz neighbours.

The Raider assault goes in...
Just as the Raiders began their assault (they used a Chain of Command Dice to initiate their run-in), a well-worn APC rolled up next to the T-90 and disgorged a somewhat creaky team of hard-bitten warriors in heavy body armour. Nonetheless, while the Spetsnaz had finally arrived, they decided to hold back to see what would happen in the aftermath of the assault before they would commit one way or the other.

...the Spetsnaz de-bus next to their BTR to see what happens...
Even though the Raiders had the advantage in quality and a marginal edge in numbers the fact that the Settlers were in entrenchments made the fight virtually equal. So both sides rolled their dice... and in a total collapse of fortune the Raiders were wiped out to a man. From the smoking entrenchments Boris, Yuri and two Settlers emerged to squint back at the approaching Spetsnaz...

...and the game hangs in the balance with the final dice roll.
It was a great game which came right down to the wire. The Raiders had a looong streak of appalling luck (Brett? Stacy? How did you insult the Dice Gods so?) which probably cost them the game in the end, but they did a great job in pushing the Settlers to their limits. It was always going to be tough proposition for the Raiders to assault dug-in positions, and they almost pulled it off, but fortune favoured Boris and Yuri. 

I really have to thank the guys from both groups for being such good natured guinea pigs with this scenario. I had a wonderful time running it and look forward to the next outing.  Special thanks go to Greg for providing the superb Russian vehicles and the Raider force - I couldn't have pulled off the scenario without his help. I hope those who've read this AAR liked it as well.