With General ze Wife and the youngest teenage spy away from base for a week visiting the Queen Mother, I decided it was prudent of me to explore the General’s personal dining room. What I discovered was a perfect table that would allow my men to spread out and stretch their legs and maybe even take their vehicles for a spin on the narrow streets of a foreign land. With the eldest of the Teenage Spies leaving for her new four-year training assignment next week, I knew she would be too preoccupied packing her rucksack to notice. The middle spy was my concern. Not that he would deem this worthy enough to notify the General, but that his utter disregard for basic base standards of tidiness could actually cause damage to my men or their surroundings with his wayward pizza boxes or bottles of Coke. After a speedy wave goodbye to the Commander of all my Men, I returned back to the fort from the air base after transporting the General and her trusty associate. I’m just glad no MP’s witnessed my speedy driving.
As many of you know, I tend to enjoy gaming modern civil wars and conflicts. I have recently been working on some Middle East rebel type forces and terrain elements so that was one route to take. I have also been working on some African militia but have not totally completed their basing. Hum, both groups would work and give me an excuse to bring out my UN Force. But what would they be doing? Think, think, think…oh, wait, of course, they could be UNDOF forces. OK, troops selected.
A quick re-reading of some news accounts about the forces engaging in the area of operation and I might just have a solo game in the works. I have included some background information below to further explain the forces involved. You can skip it if you like. I tend to enjoy as much background knowledge and historical context as possible so I include it for you as well.
I am using the Danger Close rules. I really like the way these rules play, especially solo. It gives me a quick fun game, without being too basic or overly complex. Another rule set I also really enjoy for modern skirmish games is Force on Force. It’s a fantastic set of rules but I don't enjoy it as much playing solo. I just feel I miss to much of the strengths of the system like the ability for opponents to attempt to interrupt the intentions of the initiative player. Maybe my brain just can't work quickly enough. Anyway, I have created a few ‘house rules’ after having a chat about the idea with a fellow wargamer. I have borrowed the idea of ‘Hot Spots’ from FoF, where an insurgent unit has the ability to add units at random spots on the game board. I also created my own rule that allows for totally random events. These could be anything from a vehicle malfunction to IED to grenade, etc. I place, generally when I set up the board so I forget about them, a red marker in various spots on the board. These only affect regular troops, this does not affect insurgents. When troops get within 4” of the marker I draw from a selection of random event cards I made. These are always shuffled and placed upside down so I can’t see what will happen. Whatever the card action is the troops must react immediately based on the random event. FoF has something similar, but it comes into play in a different way. This adds a sense of drama to the game and also allows for actions and events totally out of my control. Much like if I was playing against someone else. I really enjoy this when I am playing solo to mix it up a bit. Hopefully I can explain how it works better when you see how that plays out in the AAR below. It might not be for everyone, but I like it.
Al-Qunaytirah, also spelled El-Juneitra/El-Kuneitra, is the largely destroyed and abandoned capital of the Quneitra Governorate in the United Nations monitored demilitarized zone between Israel and Syria in the southwest of the Syrian Arab Republic.
It is situated 1,010 metres above sea level.
For the purposes of this game I decided it would be used as a strategic petrol refueling supply base between the various UN observation outposts manned by UNTSO (United Nations Truce Supervision Organization)
and UN Camp Ziouani to the southwest and UN Camp Faouar to the northeast manned by UNDOF forces. The 1,000-strong multinational force is an observer mission that monitors the cessation of hostilities between Israel and Syria. It is now operating in a much more volatile region because of the civil war within Syria.
Al-Qunaytirah was settled at least as early as Byzantine times and served until the 19th century as a stopover for caravans. By the 20th century Muslim Circassians, a Caucasian people, had settled there and made Al-Qunaytirah their cultural center. With the formation of modern Syria, the town grew more Arab in character and by the mid-1960’s had become an important road junction, regional market center and military outpost with more than 20,000 inhabitants.
Al-Qunaytirah was included in the territory the United Nations incorporated into a DMZ between Syria and Israel and placed it under the supervision of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF). The buffer zone is about 80 km long, and between 0.5 and 10 km wide, forming an area of 235 sq. km. The zone straddles what is known as the Purple Line, separating the Israeli-occupied portion of the Golan Heights and the rest of Syria, where the west line is known as ‘Alpha’, and the east line as ‘Bravo’. The zone also borders the Lebanon Blue Line to the north and forms a border of less than 1 km with Jordan to the south.
There has been a history of engagements with UN Peacekeepers in the area in recent years. Below are actual events that I used to base this game on.
In March 2013, 21 Philippine peacekeepers were held by a group of Syrian rebels who call themselves the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade. They were later released and returned to their base.
In May of 2013 an additional four Philippine peacekeepers were held hostage by the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade and were shown on video to be kept as human shields.
In June 2013 Syrian rebels attacked and temporarily captured the border crossing at Al-Qunaytirah. A UN peacekeeper was wounded in the fighting.
On 29 November 2013 Syrian rebels attacked Irish peacekeepers based at Camp Faouar. Their convoy came under small arms fire and was hit with an explosion before rebels retreated. It was believed the damage to the convoy was caused by an Improvised explosive device, which raised the prospect that the attack was a carefully planned ambush.
In August 2014 al-Nusra Front rebels captured two separate UN posts. An outpost manned by Fijian peacekeepers was captured and the Filipino UN forces at the second post engaged rebels in a seven-hour firefight. Irish UNDOF troops helped in the rescue. The rebel forces had vowed to “liberate” the area.
It is a routine day for UN troops in Al-Qunaytirah. Nothing very exciting to report happening in the Golan outposts, although a crew from the BBC has been making the rounds and just arrived at the fuel supply base to do a few interviews. Pretty typical day really. A convoy is on a routine mission transporting personnel back to the petrol storage base from Camp Faouar. The route will take the convoy through the nearly deserted town center, past the main mosque, market and hotel until they reach the base on the near outskirts of the town where farmland begins. The petrol base is a key strategic fuel supply depot for the outposts and is a high priority asset to protect.
MISSION AND OBJECTIVES:
The UNDOF forces must make a successful return to the petrol storage base and must continue to protect the fuel supply and base. Insurgent troops have been given two objectives to win. First they must successfully ambush the UN convoy to prevent it from reaching the petrol base and supplying it with additional forces and supplies. Second they must take control of the petrol base without destroying the fuel tanks in the process. They need the fuel for their own vehicles and generators.
Board (kitchen table) size is 3’8’’W x 5’4”L with a variety of middle eastern terrain elements.
UN Forces will begin the game with two 5-man fire teams and a squad leader. This will be the force within the convoy. Back at the petrol base they have an additional two 5-man fire teams, a squad leader and a Lieutenant who is the highest-ranking officer at the petrol supply base. No additional forces beyond the convoy troops and base troops are available.
Insurgents have 15 forces available for the ambush within the town. Local militia members are available at a moments notice to reinforce the main cell if needed. Only additional forces can come from hot spot activations.
Scale: 20mm | 1/72
Rules: Danger Close by Matt Moran (formerly Some Corner of a Foreign Field). Distributed by EmpressMiniatures.
Additional House Rules:
Yellow markers, marked 1-6, indicate “hot spots” where local insurgent militia may appear and rally from to engage the UN force. If the UN force or any single soldier arrives at a yellow disc both players will roll 1D6 (highest wins) for disc initiative. If the UN wins with a higher roll no additional insurgent units are activated. If insurgents win initiative roll, they must roll again. The number on the dice is the number disc they will appear from unless a 6 is rolled. Then they may activate from any of the six hot spots they choose. Only six additional insurgents can be activated in this manner at a time. Markers placed at random on board.
The report is below with detailed photo captions. It has taken me about 4 evenings to finish this game (dad duties like feeding the kids tends to get in the way) but has been great fun to get a fairly good size game in. I hope you enjoy the pictures and AAR.
|A view looking north from the UN petrol base.|
|My "BBC" news crew. Miniatures are 20mm from Britannia/Grubby Tanks.|
|A typical quiet day at the base as the BBC crew interviews the base commander.|
|The UN convoy makes it's way throw the narrow streets past the mosque and a former hotel.|
|Rebel insurgents are using the mosque as a staging area.|
|Although this ambush has been well planned.|
|The plan is for insurgents armed with RPG's to ambush the convoy from three spots. The market across the street from the hotel, the hotel and a deserted building next to the mosque.|
|A technical armed with a .50 cal MG is waiting for the first explosions to move in.|
|Insurgents prepare for a ground ambush from the alley behind the old hotel.|
|Insurgent figures are 1/72 Caesar 031 Modern Urban Resisters.|
|All looks calm.|
|My random markers placed on board for me by the eldest Teenage Spy. Red for Random Event and yellow for Hot Spot.|
|Just as the convoy enter Nafura Square...|
|...it is hit with a barrage of RPG fire from the old hotel and the market across the street. The M113 and SUV are disabled by the attack.|
|The technical speeds into Nafura Square shooting at the lorry killing it's driver and causing it to crash into the wall of the market.|
|UN troops exit the APC and the pickup truck and take up defensive positions while trying to get a handle on what is going on. They take their first casualty at this time.|
|The UN petrol storage base can hear the explosions down the road and began to secure the base.|
|Insurgent gunmen surge toward the convoy.|
|UN reinforcements leaves the base to join the fight but hit a hotspot near the south wall of the old hotel complex.|
|Six militia join the fight for the insurgents.|
|The APC is able to get break through the militia and the technical and make it to the burning M113 in Nafura Square.|
|The five-man team exit their APC and set up a defensive position.|
|The BBC crew isn't as lucky and their armored car is disabled in a storm of gunfire.|
|The four journalists are not injured but are taken hostage by the militia.|
|The majority of the UN convoy team take cover in an alley between the mosque walls and a small orchard. They suffer one casualty and several wounded.|
|The BBC crew is hustled behind the market.|
|A massive firefight is underway in the town center with injuries and casualties mounting on both sides.|
|Insurgents seem to be coming from every direction.|
|The remaining five UN force at the petrol base want to join the fight and help but are ordered to defend the base against attack. Although there are two Challenger tanks at the base, the crew were being transported in via the convoy.|
|The BBC cameraman is an Aussie known as Sarge. The American sound man Bill is known for his vast library of jokes.|
|Casualties mount for the UN force fighting in the square.|
|While the force looking for cover in the alley are soon sprayed in a hail of fire from the technical. They do succeed in killing the gunner before it speeds away.|
|The UN force makes a valiant effort to move their injured and dead to the APC which they have managed to get turned around.|
|The UN rescuers have been eliminated in front of the hotel.|
|Insurgent militia rush toward the fallen Peacekeepers.|
|The APC is able to get the dead and wounded from the orchard loaded and head toward base using back roads but is forced to back up to it's closest point of cover (Random Event).|
|The base prepares to defend itself. The best they can hope for is that the APC with the tank crewmen make it back in time.|
|An insurgent throws a grenade (Random Event) in front of the APC as it nears the base. It only causes light damage and it keeps moving toward the base.|
|The APC is stopped just short of the gate to the base by an RPG. It disables the truck but cause no other injury to the Peacekeepers.|
|The living and injured Peacekeepers exit the APC and return fire.|
|Unfortunately they fall within steps of the base.|
My UN Force is made up of Caesar Miniatures/Miniknight HB-11 Modern US Soldiers in Action.
|Caesar Miniatures 031 Modern Urban Resisters (Terrorists)|
|Caesar Miniatures 031 Modern Urban Resisters (Terrorists)|
|Britannia Miniatures/Grubby Tanks UKF17 4 person television news team|
Victory went to the insurgents for winning both of their objectives-stopping the convoy and taking the base.
Learn what happens to the BBC in a rescue AAR HERE.