Thursday, October 20, 2016

AAR21: No Plan Survives First Contact

Lt. Zuberi had seen battle before, but not on this scale.  The force was so large, it was both exhilarating and terrifying.  And he was proud.  Proud to follow his commander; proud to lead his men, the men of first platoon.  The order to advance came as he ended a silent prayer, " ...and please God, let me lead them well."

Uwandan forces advanced on Objective B21 in the first move (on the ground) in a much bigger war.  Uwanda was taking Mugabia's little border game and pushing it to the heart of Mugabia in an all out war.  Jets roared overhead in a battle that had already started, while Uwanda had yet to find the enemy on the ground.

Objective B-21 is to the right center of the map.

Uwanda's attacking force was as follows:

1x Saracen, 1x Jeep (HQ)
8x Centurion
6x Sherman Firefly
13x Saracen
3x Saladin
4x Ferret
2x M42
1x Bren
4x M7 Priest
Uwanda's view of the battlefield looking east.

The Mugabian president simply did not believe that Uwanda would escalate the conflict, and even if they did attack at Objective B21, they would never intend to advance beyond that point. The Mugabian force based at B21 had however, been beefed up, given its strategic position relative to the contested territory along the border.  The Mugabian defending force was as follows:

1x BTR60, 1x GAZ66, 1x GAZ69 HQ
3x T55
11x T34/85
10x BTR60
3x BRDM2
2x ZSU57
2x ZU23-2, 2x GAZ66
2x SU100
4x 122mm D30, 5x Truck
4x 122mm D30, 5x Truck

Word of the Uwandan build-up and probable advance had not yet reached the commander at B21.  He deployed his force on the western edge of the city, with a firm defensive line established by his SU100s, two platoons of T34s, and about a company of infantry.  He held a platoon of T55, another of T34, and a third of mechanized infantry in constant reserve, just in case.  He also had two batteries of 122mm guns and four anti-aircraft guns, including two of the impressive ZSU57s, to support his force.  Given past Uwandan actions, he was confident that his force could hold off any Uwandan attack.

The Mugabian view to the west, with some Mugabian forces deployed pre-battle.

The battle for objective B21 started off slowly with Uwandan recce of four Ferrets moving into position to locate and identify Mugabian forces.   Before they were detected, Mugabian forces, finally warned that Uwanda might launch an attack,  were alert and managed to spot a Ferret armored car making its way forward through a wooded area.  Artillery was called and successfully hit the armored car, and continued to pound the perimeter of the woods.

Mugabian arty pounds Uwandan recce.

This resulted in Uwanda dispatching two of its G91 attack aircraft to silence the Mugabian guns.  And indeed they did, destroying 6 of 8 122mm guns, and dispersing the remainder. An event that had a very adverse impact on Mugabian asuccess for the rest of the battle.

The Uwandan commander decided to have his Centurions advance to the edge of the trees center and south from the west and try to use the range of their guns to pick apart the Mugabian defenses.  The Uwandan infantry company would advance through the woods along the northern end of the board and attack Mugabian forces along the road extending north out of town.  All the while, Uwandan artillery and air support would hammer obstinate targets.

The Centurions got into position first, but simply could not find targets.  They advanced toward the Mugabians until they were able to find the enemy, and began to engage them.  They also requested artillery against the Mugabian defenses.

The Centurions quickly destroyed T34/85s in the Mugabian defensive line, but had a little more trouble with a pair of SU100s that took out a couple Centurions prior to their demise. 

At this point, a Uwanda Air Force Strikemaster flew over the battlefield looking for targets of opportunity only to be surprised by the ZSU57s, which scored a fatal hit on the Strikemaster.

A Strikemaster takes a hit.

A second Strikemaster succeeded in dropping bombs on part of the Mugabian reserve force, destroying a couple of APCs and infantry.

Centurions continued to pound the Mugabian line, as did friendly artillery.  Despite the losses, Mugabian RPGs moved into position and accounted for a couple more Centurions, causing the Uwanda advance to stall. During all of this, Uwandan infantry advanced through the woods, eventually running into the Mugabian infantry along the north road.

Mugabian infantry with armor support along the North Road.

Despite damage inflicted on the Centurions, they had caused a great burden to the Mugabian defenders.  The Mugabian commander decided to call on his T55s which quickly moved into position on a small hill east of the north road.

T55s on the rise.

The T55s and Centurions exchanged shots until two of the T55s were silenced.  The third withdrew, with plans of seeking better cover.  Once the T55s were dealt with the remaining Centurions, reinforced by Firefly,s continued the advance.

To the north, the Uwandan APCs, escorted by the Saladins, finally reached the open ground between the woods and the Mugabian line.  The Saladins attempted to deal with the remaining T34s, but had little success, further complicated by stubborn Mugabian infantry with RPGs.  In time support fire from the Fireflys met both the T34s and RPG gunners, and combined with steady artillery fire, finally caused the Mugabian line to break.

The time had come for Lt. Zuberi to do his job, and he gave the order for his men to dismount their Saracens.  His first image outside the APC was of destroyed Saracens and dead comrades, but the horror went un-acknowledged.  He had a job to do, and he simply did it.  He found himself and his men in open ground with no cover, and observed that the Mugabian's were already withdrawing in disorder.  He immediately ordered a clumsy advance into cover that had been the Mugabian defensive line.  As his men took up positions, Zuberi thought, "We are lucky, they are already broken."

By the time the Uwandan infantry began to dismount, their action had turned into a mopping up operation, as the Mugabians repeatedly failed morale and acted accordingly.  As his northern flank was rolled up, the Mugabian commander issued several orders for his reserves to first advance to support his southern defenses (picked apart by the Centurions), then to form a second defensive line in the south, and after the Uwandan advance didn't come in the south, to finally reinforce the north side of the battlefield.   In the end, only the T34s ever made there way north, and by that time it was too late.

A T34 that has come up the north road, turns to engage the Firflys.

The T34s did their best, but found themselves over-matched, taking fire from Fireflys and Centurions to the west, and Uwandan infantry with LAW rockest to the north.  Two of the three were quickly destroyed, with the third withdrawing despite being hit.

Arriving a little late, two Uwandan Magisters attacked the chaos in the Mugabian rear area, destroying various vehicles, until both aircraft took damage from anti-aircraft guns.

Easterly view of the battlefield late in the battle.  Destroyed Centurions
 in the foreground, buildings smoking from artillery strikes, and plumes of smoke
in the background caused by the Magisters.

The Mugabian commander lost control of his forces, as one by one, units were destroyed or lost their will to fight.  In time he ordered a general withdraw to those who were still listening.  As Mugabians withdrew, Uwandans advanced, occupying the town, and achieving the first objective of the invasion.

Uwanda armor advances against destroyed and retreating
Mugabian forces to the south.

The battle over, Mugabian remnants made their way east, while the victors carefully advanced through the city, collected prisoners, and tended to wounded on both sides.

The Mugabian commander heading east, after things went south.

Fires smoldered and the wounded were tended to.  "Fate has smiled on us today", thought Lt. Zuberi, as he considered that his platoon had taken no casualties.  Others were not so lucky.  His best friend, Lt. Amani was gone, as were all of the second platoon HQ.  Their Saracen turned into a human bonfire after being hit by an RPG.  Zuberi's eyes began to well, as he decided to focus on the task at hand, ordering his men to re-stock ammunition and water.  He didn't know if he had lead them well.


I experimented with a method of controlling orders, by creating personality profiles for the commanders of both sides, and having their actions and reactions swayed by the profiles and dice during the game.  Mostly this tended to cause a lot of hesitation before orders would be issued, and maybe didn't work so well.

The result was a little odd, as the unsupported Uwandan armor resulted in a long stall in the attack on the south and center, and lead me to believe that Uwanda was losing for the longest time.  As the game progressed, the Mugabian commander issued orders, then reversed or revised them multiple times, causing his reserve force to mostly just move around uselessly some distance behind the fighting.

Mugabia's devastating losses on the ground were offset a little by Uwanda's continuing bad luck with aircraft. Four of six aircraft were damaged or destroyed.

Anyway,  losses were as follows:

5x  Centurion III
6x  Saracen
3x  Saladin
1x  Ferret

2x  Magister damaged
1x  Strikemaster damaged
1x Strikemaster destroyed

26 KIA
12 WIA

3x  T55
10x  T34/85
9x  BTR60
2x  BRDM2
1x  ZSU57
2x  ZU23/2
2x  SU100
6x  122mm Gun
7x  BTR152

81 KIA
24 WIA (18) taken POW
1 MIA  taken POW

Uwanda Captured:

19x POWs
1x BTR60
5x BTR152
2x ZU23/2


  1. Very impressive, thanks for sharing!

  2. Irish,

    Absolutely fantastic! I marvel at the sheer scale of the fight, it's awesome. Great looking fight, and great write-up, thanks for posting.


  3. Fantastic stuff - most inspiring!

  4. Wow, that was a drubbing. Were you playing both sides?

    1. Yes, I played both sides. Kind of role-play the commanders, who start with a basic plan, and each side is somewhat restricted by doctrine.

  5. Your AAR's are a;ways awesome, no exception here! I wish I had space for a table even half that size - one day, perhaps, one day. Also, hope you are feeling better. And, I hate to be *that guy* but does that side on centurion have its tracks on backwards?

    1. Doing much better than I was, thanks. Regarding the Centurion tracks, you are probably right, but I compared castings to the real thing, and it really could go either way. The castings are a little off of the real thing, and I ended up deciding based on the spacing between the idler and first road wheel, vs. the spacing between the drive sprocket and last road wheel. This results in the idler being too small, but the overall wheel geometry being closer to the real thing. Maybe not the best choice, but that was the thinking.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Glad to hear it! As for the tanks - could just be I'm not used to seeing the wheels exposed - my Centurion's all have skirts on!

      (clumsy editing for typo!).

  6. A great report - thanks for sharing.

    As for command and control problems being "... a little odd", it actually sounds entirely likely, if a little frustrating!

  7. And that is how you do a game report- superb stuff.



  8. Wow ! .. what a result ! .. great AAR !
    I too wish I had your big tablespace.
    .. awaiting the next instalment .
    big cheers