Monday, January 4, 2016

London Calling



I always enjoyed the old "Invasion" comic strip in 2000AD. It was created by Pat Mills, the man behind Charley's War and a man for all his faults, knows how to write a good yarn. The central conceit was that in the late 90s, the "Volgan Republic" was set up after a military coup in Russia. This state then invaded Britain (led by Ken Livingstone!) seeking to control North Sea oil. 

The hero was a foul mouthed, Sun reading trucker named Bill Savage, who joined the anti-Volgan resistance after his family were killed by a stray tank shell. He wrought grim vengence on the Volgs with a shotgun and whatever else came to hand. My enthusiasm for Bill has led to some interesting Elhiem figures. 

There's a large element of slapstick in "Invasion", but my thoughts have been turning to a slightly less cartoony Soviet occupation game. With that in mind, Du Gourmand, Capability Savage and I played a game of Black Ops on the 28th. 


Somewhere in the Soviet Second Commonwealth of England circa 1980
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After the brief, but bloody war of 1979, the Soviet occupation of what is now called the Commonwealth of England, Ireland, Scotland & Wales has begun. While the phony war continues between the US and the USSR in the Atlantic and the government in exile in Canada gathers itself together, resistance is growing to Soviet rule.  There were many acts of brutality, heroism and cowardice in this clandestine conflict and somewhere between London and the Liverpool Rad Zone, yet another is being played out. 

We played this as a variation of the Assassination scenario from the Black Ops rulesbook. I mustered 60 points of Soviet conscripts, while Savage and Du Gourmand raised 30 points of Militia each. This was our first time messing with the stealth rules (not solo) and on the whole I think it went rather well.  The resistance had learned that a particularly brutal and hated Soviet commander, Maximilian Foyski, was on a tour of inspection in the area and resolved to assassinate him. 

They had information that he would be in the pub for a pint after a hard days secret policing. 

After dark, a sentry walks his beat outside the Peoples Militia station 
(click to embiggen)

I set up the game and the boys started grappling with the stealth rules. One thing that I thought they handed very well was taking a good look at the ground before deploying.  I had snuck a small surprise into the game, by purposely putting two pub models on the board.  The boys quickly realised that there were two potential sites for Foy and adapted their plan according. 

The lads jump an unfortunate Russian
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Du Gourmands boys led by "The Guv'nor" sneak on to the board and run slap bang into a Russian sentry, who promptly fluffed his observation roll. He went down in a hail of rifle butts. 

Meanwhile, Savage's forces scout out "The Hare & Hounds"
(click to embiggen)

The boys had a number of close calls during the stealth portion of the game, which weren't helped by that we managed to balls up the rules at a couple of points.  I had played these before solo and had misinterpreted some key points, not realising that sentries were activated on their own cards and not by enemy action. We also forgot the cumulative effects of noise, which gave the attackers a bit more of an advantage. 

The guvnor plays it cool after being spotted by a Russian sentry
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Du Gourmand's boys surround "The Red Lion" when a Soviet sentry makes an observation check to spot the Guv'nor covering the rear exit. Fortunately for Du Gourmand, my observation check matched rather than exceeded the target number, so all the sentry could do was turn to face and then hope to spot something more damning on his next activation.  We worked this out after a hurried consultation of the rules, at which point Du Gourmand announced, "So I've been spotted, but not made? Excellent. I'll knock politely then."



The lads surround the pub
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One thing we weren't sure of was what to do with the bodies of deceased sentries. It didn't come up during our game, but I didn't see anything in the rules covering this particular situation. We decided that a common sense approach would be best and that bodies could be picked up as part of an activation. 

While the guv'nor covers the back, the boys go in the front and discover that the pub is full of locals rather than Russian troops. A jammy roll on the civilian interaction table reveals that Foyski is in the other pub. 
The balloon goes up - Savage (with shotgun) running from the scene
(click to embiggen)

Meanwhile, a recce of the Hare & Hounds led to a frustrating series of observation rolls for Savage.  There was no telling which part of the Hare & Hounds, Foyski was in. A resistance member entered the pub and tries to suss out the locals. This goes spectacularly badly with the inebriated local loudly announcing " 'ee's got a bloody gun under 'is coat!" 

This generated a noise marker (white block) and finally raised the alarm. Foyski, who was in the back lounge, immediately made a break for the police station. 


Shots ring out inside the Hare & Hounds
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But before he managed to get out of the pub, the rest of the resistance cell bailed into the lounge and riddled him with carbine fire. 

Savage had selected carbines for his troops for reasons best known to himself, I was wondering what that would be in the late 70s context.  Privately held .22 birding or small game rifles I'd imagine. 

Soviet reinforcements dashed out of the old police station and started for the two pubs. 



Soviets reinforcements brass up the rear of The Red Lion
(click to embiggen)

With Foyski dead, the resistance started to pull out, but didn't quite make it entirely unscathed. Savage's GPMG team who were covering the retreat were hit by a hail of Kalashnikov fire and went down, while Du Gourmand's boys in the Red Lion were subjected to a barrage of RPGs, grenades and bullets. Luckily for them, they managed to make their saves and fled the pub as quickly as they could. 

On the whole, we were very happy with how the game turned out. The stealth rules once we worked them out properly, there is no substitute for playing a game against an opponent, were slick and added a drama to what could have been a dull exercise for the defending player. The common sense approach employed in the rules was good and all concerned were eager to play again. 

The boys rolled for Intel and gained a point. Intel points are accumulated over a series of loose campaign games and are spent for the opportunity to trigger a final showdown scenario. We rolled for the next scenario while tidying up and got a hostage rescue scenario set in a rural farm, but with the resistance defending.  

We shall see how this plays out. 













21 comments:

  1. What a great idea, looking forward to seeing the next instalment.

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    1. Thanks. It's something that I've been toying with for a while.

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  2. I don't know how deeply you want to explore "Soviet-occupied Britain" but can I recommend the following trilogy written by Clive Eagleton? The central character was a former British Army officer involved in resistance activity following a Soviet invasion. Although most of his fighting was against the puppet government's police and security forces. The titles were "A Piece of Resistance"(1970), "Last Post for a Partisan"(1971) and "The Judas Mandate" (1972). It's years since I read them, but I thoroughly enjoyed them when I did and I'm sure would furnish useful scenarios. All the best.

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    1. I have the first two and they are top notch. Sort of The Man in the High Castle mixed with Freddy Forsyth. I might steal the prison break as a scenario.

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  3. I see the Volgan Death Legion has mastered the alarming military skill of firing rocket launchers while descending from a parachute. Formidable chaps, those.
    Excellent looking game, especially in the film noir presentation. That M. Foyski is a dirty chap.
    Tell me about those buildings, I could use an English village for my Weird War project.

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    1. They are formidable indeed. The buildings are card railway layout pieces that I picked up cheaply on ebay from a chap that was selling a village worth. Struggling to remember the name of the manufacturer. Quick something?

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  4. Great stuff Conrad. And thanks for getting The Clash stuck in my head for the rest of today :-)

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  5. Fantastic game. Loved the report. Really looking forward to part 2.

    Cheers,

    Pete.

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  6. Good AAR, that! Have you come across Ted Allbeury's All Our Tomorrows? It's got the UK being invaded and occupied by Russia, and various people being so irritated by this that they take up arms. It's possibly twenty years since I read it, so I am wary of recommending it on such flimsy recollections, but it might have a few handy scenarios to nab.

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    1. I shall track it down. Thanks for the recommendation.

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  7. Great stuff Mr Kinch! From my W79 experience, rural farm scenarios rarely end well.....

    Cheers

    Maff

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    1. We shall see. I wouldn't want to spoil it for you :)

      Is there any thing coming in the winter '79 line these days?

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    2. Hi Conrad,

      Not much, just a set of rules that use the concept from Partizan Press and a whole bunch of themed figures...

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    3. Oh, and two supplements for the rules, including one regarding a Soviet invasion in 1980! (Yep, grew up with 2000AD as well).

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  8. Great aar thanks - I remember the Invasion story as featured in Eagle and I look forward to trying out Black Ops soon.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it. They are a good set of rules.

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  9. A great read. They do sound like a fun set of rules.

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    1. They are certainly holding my attention.

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