Friday, 18 February 2011

New War, New Rules

After buying some of the excellent 20mm Afghan and British modern
miniatures by Britannia, Mark B and I set about devising some rules for use in this period.  AK47 rules had been recommended as had Ambush Alley but these we felt were not quite what we were
While writing and play testing some rules tailored for the war in
Afghanistan, I have been thinking a lot about the conflict and the peculiarities of it compared to other conflicts and how one can factor these in to a tabletop game which is both balanced yet accurate.
On the face of it, this can be quite difficult.  The UN Forces have superior firepower and training and have access to resources such as air support and artillery not
available to the insurgent forces. 

The insurgents have none of this but they do have over 1000 years of experience fighting in the terrain. 

So how can we abstract this in to a set of rules that are playable?
Firstly we felt it was necessary to limit air support factor by having
the engagement take place “danger close” in other words with the UN forces being so close to the enemy as to make Artillery and air support risky.  There is a common misconception that “smart” weapons can drop a bomb or fire a missile through the car window of the enemy.  Unfortunately the reality is somewhat different.  There is a margin of error of about 300 meters which means if friendly forces are closer to
the enemy than 300 meters a friendly fire incident begins to become more probable.
Secondly and we felt fundamental to this particular conflict is the
political will of each side to achieve their objectives.
If we look at the British involvement in Afghanistan for example there is not the public support for the conflict as there was for say the Falklands War. The result is that there is a lack of  political will to accept any significant number of casualties, certainly over a short period of time.  The result?  Commanders on the ground are forced to
make tactical compromises which may go against their doctrine and instincts.  It leads to a lack of aggressive actions and forces the troops on the ground on to the back foot.  The insurgency is not constrained by the need for popular public support. 
The nature of their organisation is such that as long as they have the
lines of communication to get fighters to front lines then their priority can be their military objectives.
This has created a significant leveller between the two combatants and is something we felt was important to introduce to the rules.
In the end what we have done is write in a rule for the UN forces that if they sustain a single casualty within a Combat Section then the whole section becomes suppressed until that casualty is attended to by a medical team or withdraws the casualty to the CP.
In addition; The insurgent player achieves considerable victory points for causing casialties.
What we have found is that when play testing the game the result is that aggressive actions by the UN player can run out of impetus very quickly and it can make it very difficult for the player to achieve its objectives.
For example, we played last week a scenario game where there was a broken
down UN APC.  The British player had
to enter a compound, collect the two stranded soldiers and then withdraw far
enough to be able to allow air support to destroy the APC.  The Taliban player was attempting to capture one of the APC occupants alive.
The outset looked pretty positive for the British who with their advantage in weapons and training took a heavy toll on the Afghan fighters.  However, as sections began to take
individual casualties the whole platoon stumbled to a halt as the priorities of
the sections changed.
The end result was that; in casualties the Brits had a decisive victory in causing about 9:1.  However even though they made contact with the APC they were unable to extract and so the
tactical victory went to the Taliban.
The rules are in no way complete but seem to be coming on well.   I will post a copy of the same on the Leeds Wargames Club website shortly for people to view and comment
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