I finally got in a game of Cold War Commander last night. I soloed it and spent a lot of time a) looking up and double checking rules and b) taking notes.
A White team of the Divisional reconnaissance battalion has reported a large number of guerillas moving in the bush west of the village of Bo Nong. The 7/11th Cavalry (yes, this is a fictional unit…) was called in to sweep the area Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie would be landed near Bo Nong and sweep towards the west. Meanwhile Delta Company would be air assaulted into a relatively clear spot further west in a blocking position.
The scenario was basically a Pursuit scenario right out of the book. I even tried to figure out the points properly (though I kind of goofed, more on this below). I ignored the VC’s ability (because they have “guerilla tactical doctrine”) to set up after the attacker… as that would defeat the purpose of the whole scenario – they would set up along the opposite board edge that the attacker set up on and walk off on their first turn! I also didn’t bother with ambushes, etc as, it being a solo game, they wouldn’t really be much of a surprise and it would have been one more new thing for me to try to keep track of…
The object of the scenario is for the VC to get as many of their own troops off their base edge. The US troops are trying to prevent this.
1x CO (CV9) 90 points
1x Forward Artillery Observer (CV7) 45points
4x Rifle Companies, each:
1x HQ (CV7) 45points (120 total)
9x Infantry Units (conscripts) 225 points (900 total)
5x Transport Units (Heli, UH-1 Iroquois) 200 points
1x Artillery Unit (105mm)
1x Artillery Unit (155mm)
1x CO (CV9) 90 points
1x HQ (CV8) 45 points
18 x Infantry Units (Regulars) (I know; regulars probably weren’t wearing black pyjamas at this point…. I painted them a while ago..) 540 points
3x Infantry upgrade (RPG-2) 45 points
1x Support Unit (Mortar, 82mm) 40 points
As I mentioned I kind of goofed on the points; I realized afterwards that I should have paid points (50 per unit, 250 total) for the ability to have a scheduled air assault with the helicopters as I did on the first turn… Whoops…
Looking at the table I decided, if I had been playing against an opponent, if I set up the VC on the east half of the table (which was predominantly bush, the US player would have to pick that as his base line. If the US player did otherwise the VC would disappear into that bush and the they’d never be seen again – also there wasn’t really much room for an air assault (which I obviously knew was coming) So I set up a bunch of them in the bush on the east side – some on the western edge of that bush, with a few in a covering position further east. A few I set up in some bush on the west side of the table to cover the withdrawal of my other units.
Turn 1 - US Army
(Remember: click on the pictures for a bigger version)
(Imagine Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries here)
The air assault goes in. To the left of the picture (east side of table) You can make out one of the company commanders and the battalion commander set up on the very edge of the table ready to bring their troops on using “mobile deployment”.
Skimming in low over the rice paddies (again, Wagner required and beating of rotors).
Approaching the LZ (still more Wagner)… wait, who’s that waiting in the Bush
(beating of rotor blades, shouts of squad leaders and small arms fire now drowns out the fading Wagner)
The Choppers landed, the door gunners sprayed the nearby woods to keep the heads down of anyone that might happen to be there. One of the choppers landed a little close to the woods and started taking hits from small arms fire… and an RPG! There was no serious damage to any of the craft, which all got off safely. All the men hit the ground in one piece but were immediately under fire, some out in the open. The company commander quickly got his bearings and regrouped most of his troops into cover, those closest to the woods they were taking fire from simply fired back – without much appreciable effect.
Alpha and Bravo Companies arrive. Charlie Company seemed to be sagging behind.
AS they pressed forward in the bush they started taking fire from small arms and an RPG. Alpha Company took some minor casualties in its 1st and 2nd platoons and sections of each platoon were suppressed.
Turn 1 - VC
The HQ maneuvered a couple of stands to bring more weapons to bear on the air assaulting Americans. Those that were already in position continued to fire.
The CO got some of the others moving slowly towards the west.
Turn Two - US Army
With initiative firing a couple of stands of VC were suppressed near the LZ, Delta’s company commander then started coordinating the fire of 1st and 2nd platoon and dealt some telling blows to the guerillas in the woods. The return fire began to slacken (because two stands were taken out!).
Platoon leaders in Alpha Company were mostly busy rallying their men and getting them up and out of the fetal positions they had adopted under whatever cover they could find. A few squads managed to squeeze off a few shots at the VC before they faded into the woods.
Bravo Company was moving up by platoons towards the sound of the action.
Charlie Company finally arrived jogging onto the table at a brisk pace.
Turn Two - VC
The VC engaged on the east half of the table used their initiative to fade into the jungle.
The HQ on the other side of the table finished maneuvering a second stand into firing position by the Americans. Others he got moving west. The CO blew his first command roll so chaos and confusion reigned in the jungle as the orderly retreat turned into disorder and the VC became confused as to the whereabouts of their foes. Were they completely surrounded…? Was there anyplace to run to…?
End of turn two. Everybody’s arrived. Delta Company heavily engaged with guerillas in the woods near them (right of picture). Charlie, bottom left, arrives on the scene.
Turn Three – US Army
Under their own initiative elements of 1st and 2nd platoon, Delta Company, shot up the VC in the woods to their front (3hits, 4 hits+suppression). They lost the opportunity to finish them off this turn then their company commander was distracted by some rumours that there were guerillas moving up in the woods on their flanks (this turned out to be only a couple of frightened water buffalos).
Alpha and Bravo Companies pushed their platoons forward across the river in an effort to keep in contact with the retiring enemy. Keep in contact they did; the 2nd platoon form both companies took (opportunity) fire, causing some more minor injuries and suppressing one of the sections.
Charlie Company stood still for the turn while the company commander tried to get his bearing and decide which way to go. Across the open ground to aid Delta, which could be seen in the distance? Or turn into the bush and aid Alpha and Bravo which, from the sound of small arms fire off in the jungle, he guessed were also engaged with the enemy?
Turn Three – VC
Initiative fire suppressed one of Delta’s sections out in the open. The rest of the turn the VC commanders spent trying to get their troops moving.
Turn Four – US Army
There was lots of vicious skirmishing fire across the table to start off this turn. 1st platoon/Delta suppressed one of the VC stands to it’s front. 2nd Platoon Bravo caused another to be suppressed and then fall-back!
Further fire from Delta Company caused the suppressed VC section to fall-back into the stand of trees. Charlie Company continued to hold while awaiting orders from the battalion commander (failed first command roll again!). Alpha company moved up 1st and 3rd platoons. Finally the 2nd platoon of Bravo Company decided they had had enough of chasing Charlie through the jungle and charged a group of them that had hunkered down in some dense bush just a head. When the close assault was resolved later the VC section was wiped out. 2nd platoon, Bravo Company counted six enemy dead, two taken prisoner and a couple of blood trails leading off into the bush. They had sustained only a few minor wounds in the process.
The 1st and 3rd platoons of Bravo Company moved across the river. This drew some opportunity fire from the VC mortar section. They dropped a few rounds in and around the river. The pinging of shrapnel off of helmets and seemed to nonly hurry the troops across the river into the cover of the bush on the other side.
Civilians and water buffalo flee as an artillery barrage comes in!
The FAO was finally in a position to see something: the little puffs of smoke from the single mortar in the tall grass that had been harassing Bravo Company, which he was escorting. He brought down on that the full might of two batteries of artillery 105’s from on firebase and 155’s from another. Some how the mortar men survived, but they were mightily suppressed!
A wider view of things going on in Turn four.
The old man decided he’d had enough of Charlie Company sitting on its ass. He personally started issuing orders directly to Charlie Companies platoon commanders to get moving. 1st platoon began a slow advance through the woods.
Turn Four – VC
There was a smattering of initiative fire but mostly everybody got moving. The HQ rolled snake-eyes and a number of stands made a dash for the table edge. They stopped short, however, when he failed roll #2.
Turn Five - US Army
Elements of 1st and 2nd platoons of Delta Company continued to fire on the guerillas in the wood to their front. Meanwhile the Company commander finally got the rest of the platoons moving around the right flank. With the additional fire the remaining VC section at the front of the woods was taken out.
The ineffectual commander of Charlie Company once again was unable to get his troops moving. The Battalion commander was so furious he, along with his sergeant-major, stormed over to their position and started hauling bodies to their feet and kicking men in the pants. They all got moving! Three times – got them up to the river!
In the meantime, Alpha Company was moving again and Victor Charlie was up to his same old tricks. As they pushed through the bush they’d come under fire, take a couple of hits, and when they raised their heads the VC were gone.
Flushed with their victory from the previous round 2nd platoon charged into a second close assault with a section of VC – the ones in the open that had fallen back the previous turn from the initiative fire. Not having prepped the assault properly, though, and not bringing up sufficient support the lead section was thrown back into third platoon and there was confusion and suppression all around!
Turn Five – VC
Initiative fire suppressed 2 squads in 2nd platoon, Bravo Company, and 1 squad in 2nd platoon, Alpha Company.
The HQ near the west edge of the table decided not to run his sections off into freedom as he realized if he vacated the stand of trees he was in the Americans would occupy it and totally cut off the escape route for the rest of the force. As he tried to organize the sections to fire on the advancing Americans there was some confusion and the sections started firing at each other (command blunder – crossfire!). 3, 4, and 5 hits were caused to the effected sections, two were suppressed – not that that mattered as, being the “active player” all those suppressions went away at the end of the turn…(?) (Is that right? I thought in BKC suppressions caused during this turn weren’t removed… maybe I am mistaken…).
The CO and the rest of the force continued his slow but steady retreat through the jungle.
Turn Six – US Army
No initiative actions – no enemy within LOS and 20cm. Oh sure there was plenty within 20cm, but they were always just out of view…
Alpha Company continued to push through the jungle. Bravo was busy licking it’s wounds from last turn. Charlie company finally got moving under their own steam this turn and was harassed by the VC mortar again (1hit, no suppression).
Delta Company got it’s shit together – snake-eyes for the first command roll! Some did a double move –charging across the open into cover, others moved up and fired. A couple sections took some (opportunity) fire, one of them being pinned down in the open.
The general situation at the end of the US move
The FAO and Charlie Company in the foreground. Bravo Company can be seen in the bush stalled after its failed close assault.
Delta Company in it’s final position at the end of the turn after an initial burst of activity.
Turn Six – VC
No initiative actions, the HQ got guys firing which suppressed a squad from 2nd platoon, Delta Company. When he tried to do it again they got confused and started shooting at each other again (a SECOND command blunder!!).
The CO again patiently pulled his troops back towards the west edge for one move.
Turn Seven - US Army
3rd platoon of Delta Company suppressed a couple VC section in initiative fire so they moved in to close assault. They won, the VC section had to fall-back 5cm into the Jungle, but the Americans, when they went to consolidate had to fall-back themselves to the cover they came from because to move forward into cover would have brought them to within 5cm of enemy troops – the squad they just beat! – which according to the rules they can not do… have to sort that one out in my head…
Here’s another funny one – similar situation, came up a number of times. A VC squad is 5cm into the jungle and thus can not be seem from without because LOS is blocked by area terrain unless the target or observer are in base-contact with the boundary. So a US squad wants to move into the terrain, but they can’t because they can’t move to within 5cm of an enemy squad without assaulting. But they can’t assault an enemy they can’t see at the beginning of the move…. I guess they could go up to the boundary, and stand out side, then see the enemy and assault on a further action… even now that they can see them when moving into area terrain they must stop at the boundary inside the terrain with their base in contact with the edge, which they can’t do because of the 5cm-no-go-unless-assaulting thing… I guess in this case they HAVE stopped at the boundary – they just have to remain outside due to the proximity to enemy units. So maybe that’s not a great example… how about if the VC unit is 3cm from the boundary – technically can’t be seen , but if you can’t go within 5cm without assaulting you can’t even get within base contact… Well now that I’ve played a game I’ll have to go back and read the rules front to back again and hopefully I’ll catch all the things I missed…. Anyway, back to the game….
The rest of the battalion continued their confused running fight through the jungle trying to keep in contact with their ever-fading VC adversaries. The VC mortar fired some more harassing rounds at Charlie Company who were now within range to fire back and suppress the crew.
The FAO also called in some more artillery
Turn Seven – VC
Same old thing some firing trying to suppress Americans so others can get away…. With the exception that on this turn they actually took out a squad from the 3rd Platoon of Delta Company! The first serious US casualties in the game!
Turn Eight – US Army
There was loads of initiative fire this turn with a number of VC squads being suppressed and a couple being forced to fall back.
Delta Company went NUTS! They must have been upset about the loss of their comrades. During their orders phase they suppressed another four VC stands, forcing a few to fall back and taking out two. A Third was taken out in a close assault!
Fire from Charlie Company finally managed to take out the VC mortar crew.
This turn’s action brought the VC Force to their break-point.
Turn Eight – VC
The VC didn’t break. They didn’t do much as many were suppressed. Caused one suppression among the Americans (2nd platoon/Alpha). A number of sections took a gamble and struck out across open ground. The y had to get off the table and the might of Alpha and Bravo company were almost on top of them, they couldn’t wait to try and suppress Delta Company which had the area covered. Most got stuck out there when the CO failed command roll #3.
Turn Nine – US Army
One of the squads out in the open was cut down by initiative fire from Delta Company. The rest looked like a juicy target for the FAO so they were left alone. Unfortunately the FAO FAILED his artillery request roll! Charlie and Bravo Companies also failed command rolls! Alpha managed to creep a bit further forward, and that was it!
Turn Nine – VC
The VC still didn’t break. Using initiative the remaining stand in the open bolted for cover – that 30cm initiative range for guerillas is handy!
Turn Ten – US Army
Another flurry of harsh, suppressing initiative fire started off this turn. Troopers were so busy shooting VC up on their own they couldn’t be bothered to listen to orders Bravo and Delta both failed command rolls. Charlie moved up a little bit. Alpha got a few into a close assault, which they won – they overran and wiped out the VC, then consolidated further forward.
The Battalion Commander kicked Bravo company into gear and two platoons rushed the VC in the tall grass completely overwhelming them!
Some of the Boys in Delta company and the last of the VC making their way to the table edge.
Turn Ten – VC
Still desperately trying to escape without turning into an utter route! Four leave the table this turn in good order. Four more are set to join them next turn along with the CO and HQ.
Turn Eleven – US Army
The final cluster of VC on the edge of the table looks just too juicy a target for the FAO again. Two squads of 3/Delta pull back with initiative to make sure they’re out of the way.
The FAO dices 11… no artillery… dammit!
If that wasn’t enough… Delta, Alpha, AND Bravo all fail command rolls on their first try… Charlie not only fails, they roll a blunder – PULL BACK! They retire a half move back the way they came! I guess they’d had it and said, “Ah, let ‘em go… they’ve had enough…”
Turn Eleven – VC
Failed break test… game over… so close, yet so far…
One stand of American infantry from the third platoon of Delta Company - probably a couple went home in body bags, the balance were likely wounded in varying degrees of severity. Throughout the rest of the battalion there was probably some minor injuries from small arms or shrapnel… pretty light in the grand scheme of things and not at all unrealistic.
Ten VC infantry Squads and the Mortar team - pretty heavy casualties, over 50%. In the face of such overwhelming firepower… not entirely unrealistic. What would the Americans have found? Probably a dozen or so bodies and numerous blood trails leaving off into the jungle in various directions, from the injured and dying being dragged off by their comrades. I imagine they would have captured a handful of prisoners as a result of their successful close assaults. That’s about it.
I liked the game. On the one side it had the feel of a protracted running skirmish forever tumbling through the jungle as the pursuers tried to keep up the pressure and remain in contact with the fleeing guerillas. On the other side was a desperate firefight from the moment Delta touched down. From sheer volume of fire Delta Company was eventually able to overcome the initial “ambush” and then do it’s job: blocking the escape route of the VC and causing severe casualties as they tried to flee.
I’m definitely looking forward to trying this again!