Something different...a Wargame! Scen 1. Crown Jewel
Thought I'd try something new: A miniatures war game against myself, using RPG Solo to do the non-me moves! A little weird? Yes. But so am I.  

I've always wanted to try miniature war gaming but I don't have anyone who wants to play the game with me... so...RPG Solo to the rescue!

What game?
The game system is Ambush Alley's "Force on Force", an out-of-print rule book which I managed to get used on Amazon.

The scenario is the first scenario of their "Road to Baghdad" supplement.

I'm playing the USMC forces. 
The RPG Solo AI will be playing the Iraqi forces. The game system already supports solo play, I'm just using RPG Solo to round out the edges.

The rule book is thick and has a lot of options. From what I've seen it mimics pretty well the ebb and flow of real battlefield. I'm learning this system myself, so I'm sure I'll make mistakes.

I'll only generally discuss some basic rules as I play. You can see the Quick Start Rules if you're interested in understanding the game in more detail.

How will we see the game?
Yeah...well, you can't all come to my house and plus I don't want to spend the money or the time to get into buying and painting miniatures, creating terrain, etc. So...I'm using the amazing Tabletop Simulator game available on Steam! If you don't know what it is, it's basically a physics engines and a resources manager. People can create and share 3D models and you use the physics engine to move pieces around etc. I'll post the turns here and give comments etc.

The Scenario
From the scenario book:
Az Zubayr, March 21
The 1st Battalion 7th Marines was handed a critical mission early in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The pumping station at Az Zubayr receives oil from throughout the Rumalia oil fields for storage or transport to the al Faw Peninsula. The destruction of this station, responsible for over $40 million in oil per day, would cripple recovery efforts and potentially lead to an environmental disaster of massive proportions. Rather than hand the operation to the SOF, the Marine battalion was tasked with securing it and surrounding storage units. Two squads of carefully trained Marines were to secure the station itself by coup de main.  Unfortunately the number and quality of defenders were unknown.

Historical outcome: So, in real life, the pumping station was not contested by the Iraqi military. A lone elderly watchman was the sole guard and the civilians there surrendered without any altercation with the USMC. The station, the Crown Jewel, was captured intact save for some minor damage done by Ba'ath officials before they fled.

But in this wargame scenario, there ARE enemy forces present who are anxious to cause destruction and mayhem.

USMC Mission
From the scenario book:
Marine Corporal Ferkovich is Force Commander for this mission. Your squad is charged with breaching the security fence surrounding the facility and neutralizing all threats to your Marines and to the facility's function. Maps of the area have been provided by intelligence, but little concrete information is available regarding enemy strength and disposition. Intel reports do city recent movement of Sadaam Fedayeen and Ba'athist elements near the facility. Their activities, numbers and weapons are unknown at this time. The Crown Jewel must be seized intact to allow Coalition experts to assess any damage caused to the pumping station.

Map and Objectives:
The two smaller pump houses behind the larger administrative building are what we need to secure and prevent from being damaged.

[Image: -y2vzH9nOz6zfGNJTnD8vXk5AjMd8m4uod8KmUXl...jIhc=w2400]

[u]Forces and Setup[/u]
My Forces:
I get USMC Rifle Squad One split into three fire teams of four men each, named Alpha (blue), Bravo (orange), and Charlie (green). My forces are supported by an AAVTP-7 ( I didn't have a model for it, so used a random APC-like vehicle I found. You'll have to use your imagination... On turn 3, USMC Cobra gunship, can be called in to help, assuming it can get through the AA elements operating in the theater. The red guy is the corporal leading the squad and he'll be attached to Alpha. We setup on the south side of the board.

[Image: 7e7NgPzx1z1_Vi8mKvtwGNUUp5mj6UzPCvXMiCnX...3Jc4=w2400]

The Opposition:
The central administration building is defended by a Ba'ath Party Death Squad, armed with AKs and one RPG. They'll setup inside of the administration building.

[Image: V2pxpheHBElOck4MNm1AcN14gV11nS5U49WaM5CE...ohA8=w2400]

The Iraqi player rolls a 5 on a random chart and gets some additional forces (not pictured yet). These will be identified when they enter along the north edge on turn 1.

Enjoy. More to come. Hope the pictures come through...

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Turn 1

USMC has initiative for the entire battle.

Alpha team (blue) and the Corporal (red leader) move up.

The AAV, and Bravo and Charlie teams (orange and green) are on Overwatch.

Do the units remain hidden inside the admin building?

Unil the US get closer?


The enemy team inside the administration building waits to engage.

Alpha team gets nearer and they decide to shoot at them before the reach the intervening cover of the jeep. They roll a Troop Quality (TQ) check to see if they can act first. The nearly universal mechanic is 4+ is a success. So they fail. I think I was supposed to roll a compared TQ check by the marines but maybe I forgot:

[Image: xUVpPeVEM5k-ZLV0vygLz986VMPtsfVQLQLBEcne...oIpc=w2400]
On the non-initiative phase, the Iraqi rolls randomly and a Saddam Fedayeen cell appears on the north side. I roll randomly 1d81 in RPGSolo (the width of the board) to see where they come in. They enter near the grove of trees to the east of the road.

[Image: ziyKOf_v7dR15BgHYPYLy3XNNp9asxAH_wlfSArK...T1jg=w2400]

Bravo team (orange) is on overwatch but doesn't have line of sight due to the cover. The Saddam Fedayeen cell does have LOS to Alpha team.

[Image: skNPeytfJ2L-IJwb1C3z2O_khPoNDNkxEhV7CR-Y...FKQE=w2400]
They decide to fire. A reaction test is done to see if they can shoot before the marines in Alpha (blue) can fire at them. The Iraqi player rolled higher and gets to go first. They add up their Fire dice and compare it with the defensive dice of the target unit.

To cause a potential casualty on a target you compare Fire Dice roll vs the Defensive dice of the targeted unit. Extra units + support weapons add to the fire dice. Defending unit gets defensive dice = to the fire dice or the # of men in the defending unit, whichever is less. You add to that cover dice, armor dice etc.

[Image: c3N00Dk4lRHpsV6u4ab_LZrCYD7ZHDC0ef_S6KtE...HDmw=w2400]
A 4+ is a potential hit, but if it's matched or exceeded by the target it is defended. You can see above that even though the Iraqi's had more dice (8d6 vs 5d8), the marines defended, hit the dirt and don't suffer casualties.

The unit in the administration building failed their TQ check vs Alpha so Alpha shoots at them first. I didn't get their roll, but they scored 4 casualties (I put a small blue die next to them to indicate that) against the Iraqis. The Iraqi's failed their morale check (two 3s to 1 6) and so are pushed out of the administration building seeking more cover.

[Image: X9tCVh0ExgPV0LVuNdHBTgGLiw2WfgtHZvcF4BpJ...39Pc=w2400]

[Image: vN9W-jTImOBKFYd2R6g4LrmXjoZgqxwHLApgKaTn...klFs=w2400]
That ends Turn 1.

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Turn 2

Again, in this scenario, the Marines have initiative. They move first. This time, on the west side of the map, Alpha and is on Overwatch and Bravo team (orange) moves up to try and get line of sight to fire on the Iraqis. They're spotted by the Sadaam Fedayeen who choose to react.

[Image: Q2Mf72NtGwrEHpxCd-6ZsrSDQo4k9zNK_XDREr7O..._Um0=w2400]

 We'll see if they can fire before Alpha team (blue) on Overwatch.

[Image: SzPv9Ws-fDLK9XTgqkw8lv61VV0b8dKAWXzzdISa...oygU=w2400]

Alpha's TQ result is higher, so they fire first...
[Image: ZtWc-x9RR_uaUDSvoNsbdpq56zpfxdqz5qQfHCPu...tN5M=w2400]

The Fire Dice from marines (blue 8ds) are thrown and compared against the defending unit's (red d6s). They seek cover behind natural folds in the ground or behind trees and manage to defend against all but two:
[Image: p.png?fv_content=true&size_mode=5]

So they take two casualties (white dice). They then succeed in their morale test with 4 successes vs 2 failures and so are not pinned and can now take their action against Bravo (orange).

[Image: YDcVGoGuqun-vN5Jy2rUt79W0c8-I6_N4GMADfPn...aYKQ=w2400]

Despite their training and armor, the marines take two casualties...
[Image: p.png?fv_content=true&size_mode=5]

Bravo squad can now shoot (not shown) and they give another casualty (die white dice to 3):

[Image: TabMaNjUROgzUcuvhd7DfCRfeHIvyHcGWwIRhcD0...QdT4=w2400]

At the end of turn 2, this is the situation, not much happening on the east side of the map as the AAV and Charlie squad remain on Overwatch and didn't make contact with any unit. So far all the action has been on the west side of the complex with 3 casualties to the Iraqi unit on the north, 4 casualties to the Iraqi unit pushed out of the admin unit, and 1 casualty to the Bravo team. We'll find out how bad those casualties are during the First Aid phase of the next turn:

[Image: BG8fSPnuU2LA8QhfNpxHlGOo6lDmE47HEjyuR4nJ...sRig=w2400]

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Turn 3

First off, the First Aid check... For every casualty (white pip) suffered in the previous turn. We roll a D6. A 1 is a KIA, 2-3 is a serious wound, 4-5 is a light wound, 6 they were only stunned, but they're okay. So in the result below, 1 KIA, 2 light wounds and one merely stunned. A KIA is removed from the board.
[Image: QE5pko6FdYr3Ro2CcY78JOEXL7UjO_ptc2J57Bzf...nOmg=w2400]

I think I messed up here. There should be KIA and two lights. Instead I accidentally put 3 light wounds (orange die). I think I read the 6 as a light wound. Oh well... Light wounded ppl can still contribute to the fight but they have a chance of slowing down the unit. I might be wrong on my interpretation of the rules on this part, but I think they're also still counted as casualties even if they're light casualties and are still in the fight and if there are ever >= casualties than figures, the unit is considered combat ineffective or "wiped out"... unless they can get first aid from another unit. Anyway, below, the serious wound is the guy flipped over.

[Image: TPufwFB522F1aG9Hle1zzGYCikOYg7BktyJmwvkd...Tmkc=w2400]

They fire at the USMC team Alpha but the covering fire 

I rolled a D6 (not shown) and got a 2. A serious wound for Bravo team. I put down a purple D6 with a 1 next to it (also not shown).
[Image: UYdbipkeHFH51b7bU1XyiPOtpvjLOJ84mMOCqvlK...GVes=w2400]

For the Iraqi team on the north side, they got two light wounds and 1 stun. They're still very much in the fight.

[Image: vEIwrMEkvZGCvqe8Q5pfZFFL6p9HtZ6W4bor0YFM...YCOA=w2400]

At the beginning of Turn 3, USMC gets to roll a TQ D8. On a 4+, I can activate the attack copter and it'll come into play and I get some CAS (close air support). I roll a 4 so I can call it [Image: PCALm4jdnYafQYZg3afIugyOOVcyskrdLzxZxYfr...amkc=w2400]

On the east side of the complex, I move up the AAV and Charlie team to try and get LOS to the unit pushed out of the administration building:
[Image: GOImXYemWx2CXTH5gdxrnPk5gbZO9FeS6PiAu7A9...RA08=w2400]

I used RPGSolo to see how this unit would react to the AAV thundering nearer. They do have an RPG. The problem is that there's a chain-link fence between them and the AAV. I assume that a chainlink fence would cause the RPG round to explode prematurely. Their primary goals is to also cause damage to the pump houses. I asked if there was a gap or a tear in the fence through which the RPG round could pass. No... I decided given that they would proceed with their primary action which is to get into the building before the AAV can pummel them. 
[Image: nK7EPti4D4XgJdL0n6Nt-vYNH8JxYAInqYpx_KCK...nfuk=w2400]

They beat the USMC TQ roll (not shown) and run inside the nearest pump house seeking cover. The AAV doesn't want to damage the building and so holds fire.
[Image: 4aKxYKNnIOIp1Eq0pO3nZdCrdrccRpMIh-RnyAmn...xzc4=w2400]

On the east side, Alpha team (blue) is not on Overwatch this time. Brave is on Overwatch. Alpha attempts a move for the fence. The Fedayeen decide to react and shoot at them.
[Image: cSwDCQMPCE__wzSthWvhyD517cIPc4ETxl100VC1...Ukgk=w2400]

They do a contest of TQ. They both fail so it's a tie, but on ties it goes to the initiative side (the USMC):
[Image: SclQhqAtlrSacO4MPyzWo0VoK-QiQxZ613WnIrW2...deg0=w2400]

Bravo (orange) on Overwatch attempts to provide covering fire and they tie the Fedayeen as well and get a 6 to 6, but again tie goes to the USMC:
[Image: qxB5ksOr0cx-HeuuV88IVZzMs9SFR_D1gYEy1njI...HWZU=w2400]

Overwatch team fires first. Their accurate fire causes four casualties on the Fedayeen near the trees:
[Image: 3abMMozMOMs12wd6nN3kHyJRXq67edy86FGFhjZI...UCwM=w2400]

Better angle on the dice:
[Image: 5HcHqtb04RIfT-ve__LH8o1L2UOpsIKBbipokSw8...DAag=w2400]

[Image: xpYReeEp6pY3Wfka8ZUP5OUfkhbKAwC81NRQ4WO8...33gY=w2400]

The Fedayeen near the trees returns fire at Alpha's movement, but the overwatch unit's covering fire has done it's work, and the return fire is scattered and causes no casualties:

[Image: 0S0Twhjvm00tfJzz8Kb0Jw9RAtahNzxsSV1v31mn...a4Mw=w2400]

The Fedayeen's action was to fire first and then move. They then move six inches deeper into the cover of the lightly wooded terrain:

[Image: 59bfqmBl4xgx-icb3aGKqWBYc2-bS4I3n4IJ1CN7...60Bs=w2400]

[Image: S-npe1GLzxIbcJxH-OFBZ-xcFi7lvZ7AGGye4EQv...YbSw=w2400]

And that concludes Turn 3. As you can see the turns are long turns and both sides are always involved in some way. I like that. This scenario has a turn limit of 8. That means both teams have until the end of turn 8 to complete their respective objectives.

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Turn 4

First we do the First Aid phase and see how bad the casualties were from last turn. One dead and 3 serious wounds. I add a purple die for serious wounds and set it to 3.
[Image: J7q3KnF3A2At6tP4Mrc5SZgb76KO0WQ2vSfVMTER...J2DI=w2400]

This just shows the strafing run I'm planning with my Cobra gunship:

There is an Ambient Air Defense = Light. I roll a piloting skill of 3 and consult a chart, and the pilot pulls up and away from the strafing run. Apparently, he took some close calls or something from some off-map units as he neared the battlefield. He flies off and I can bring him back next turn with a TQ of 4+ next turn.
[Image: p.png?fv_content=true&size_mode=5]

With the bird seeking friendlier skies, my AAV decides he'll have to finish the job with the Fedayeen unit on the north side in the palm grove. He does a rapid move and gets atop the hill, using it for cover he targets the enemy unit:
[Image: PTpOd-7J8NG0eY0HB1AtA39Kjosh3P1gs8dZH1oq...a5Mw=w2400]

The .50 caliber heavy MG and Mark 19 grenade launchers prove too much for the Fedayeen unit which collapses under withering fire:
[Image: w8ERuSZ0QebbO5QsMerGgqYY--XdmeAEfMFRhoR_...vaUs=w2400]

They take 4 hits with their existing casualties taken that's enough to K/O the unit. If a whole unit has suffered more casualties than figures, they're knocked out. They're not completely removed. We don't know how bad those casualties are until someone gets close and can do a First Aid check at the beginning of some turn. For example, if a friendly unit was able to get to them, some of the casualties might be only stuns, and they could be back in the fight. But seeing as how they're on the other side of the fence from the other unit on the map, no one is coming to this teams rescue any time soon:
[Image: YHYNhmRpAjvUTibsRFlaYC9hG51tY0lE6NQ1DtpU...4eQY=w2400]

Seeing that the threat on the northern side of the facility is dealt with, the marines can turn their attention to breaching the fence and stopping the Iraqis from causing some mayhem. Charlie team rolls a 4 plus to breach the fence. The rule on that was they had to spend a turn not moving and not firing (other than reactive fire) by the fence and then make a roll of 4+ TQ to blow open the fence. Which they do:

[Image: 46qkdGEa0ofYpmEyyelSK8RXIe_2_HX4ijs4_LUC...dk5g=w2400]

Charlie team follows the explosion by rushing in with a rapid move...
[Image: LGmpEabJfyo56MAKZJykr1WpcE94yI23tg7FrBOk...sRSE=w2400] get behind some solid cover:
[Image: 8BsvmuiYkdR1sOejjGRNB-v-vAfyKx3jsiuaEa73...ybhs=w2400]

In RPG Solo I asked if the Iraqis reacted to the marines movement. It was unlikely since they needed to focus on setting the explosives on the pump house which they can attempt to do if they have a turn uninterrupted by movement and firing which they just had. They chose not to fire at the marines, so beginning of next turn we'll see if they succeeded in their demolitions / bomb placing skills. If so, the marines have to get in and disarm the bomb before it can go off.

End of Turn 4

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Turn 5

The Iraqi unit inside the pump house tries to place demolitions. They need to roll a 4+ on 1D6 to do that this turn. They roll a 1 and fail:
[Image: Ayg1fD69QKvKOqID7fQ5ST68xs56veYcBH033CCe...FARE=w2400]

The Iraqi unit is hiding inside the building. In order to fire on them, Charlie team needs to see them. They need a 4+. They roll a 2 and fail... 
[Image: ye3905fAYCPEiEmj2_kpiP3FQYYmgAtF6LuD_-ka...BMjw=w2400]

It's an interesting mechanic, because even though I, as a player, know that the enemy is in the building (I saw them go in), I'm not allowed to engage them because my unit can't see them. I'd have to check the rules, but I could prob just open fire on the building with the AAV, but if I damage the pump house, I could lose the scenario.

Charlie team moves up slightly in order to react at anything in the pump house should the Iraqi unit reveal themselves.
[Image: mVbi46IaYl9lR-8W5CAUiEhS3mp27PhetW5vFAhg...9pkY=w2400]

Alpha and Bravo teams on the west side move up to breach the chain-link perimeter and assist in the final assault:
[Image: ccj8l7jy-XxAD_EZoCygjBSHCzWTVgRQvl2tJPaa...gbEM=w2400]

The AAV moves to a better location to get a cover bonus from the hill and be able to still target any units in the building or if they try to run out the back side:
[Image: Xp3XrnkEVAAPPA-gUQ1yG9fCXVWK9YR_OQxk6o8Z...PdDE=w2400]

End of Turn 5. The Iraqi's still stay in the building trying to set their bomb.

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Turn 6
Turn 6 begins as shown by the mega huge die 8 I created:
[Image: lvmFw3U3YqrB9oGxNld9K5mTTTA4PbKk1L66_XBV...qN-M=w2400]

The Iraqis in the pump house can hear the marines gathering. The leader splits their unit causing two of them on the right to continue trying to set the bomb, while the others with the RPG get behind cover and prepare to engage the marines should they rush the pump house:

[Image: zqgbCmoVItivtiRBECn-YFFBfZugRqkFmAtyoinE...mslE=w2400]
The Iraqi's are still hidden. Charlie team is waiting for the other two teams to move up closer to assault the building with a team on overwatch in order to minimize potential casualties. They're waiting for them to breach the west side of the fence.

End of Turn 6

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Turn 7

Both USMC or Iraqi's have until the end of turn 8 to complete their objectives.

[Image: gYTy0f5CnNI3kjkPhK2FhLe-763BlrSCHrHI4MVm...YLiE=w2400]

Bravo team breaches the fence with a successful TQ check:
[Image: VW0UIi6xgh8WWtWKj5ShgSsGu5CdS4_nCYKPil0J...FEJs=w2400]

Bravo moves further into the complex while Alpha team breaches another fence line:

[Image: Dy1o6Z6pDqjsxBDViZgSo_cM1yMZqZbRxQZqVlzw...jHug=w2400]

Alpha squad also moves up to support the assault on the pump house.
[Image: rxDwraNuQesHM3wn1AQlk7uzfj-UT9_xZDNjW-09...1dxA=w2400]

The initiative units have all moved. Iraqi units now go. They're still waiting to react to an assault by the USMC and they're...STILL trying to set the bomb. They roll a 2 and fail on that too. Surely they saw or heard the American troops stacking up for an assault. That'd make anyone's hands shake...

[Image: Uav-F894Bdq7OH-brjSHavuAp9qFnE9ozl4leZhX...6eA0=w2400]

Turn 7 Ends

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Turn 8

The final turn. Alpha squad reorients going inside the building to get a better angle on the pump house and claim some cover. Bravo is on overwatch and Charlie squad is stacked up ready to commence the assault once the corporal gives the command.

[Image: WbGNA3_n2hYkOp66vpMGpao9puypUgRF586Hnoig...NrD8=w2400]

Instead, the Corporal calls for them to surrender. I used RPG Solo to see if they would. 

It's turn 8, the last turn. Technically, according to the rules, the bomb is supposed to go off three turns from the time they set it. So, the Iraqi side technically lost the game by not setting the bomb by turn 5. In the last two turns, they've tried unsuccessfully to set the makeshift explosives. Even if they did set it this turn, it was highly likely that the US team would be able to wipe them out and disable whatever they were doing, making it a futile attempt. 

I asked if they surrendered (likely) to avoid the further spilling of blood. 

They surrendered.

End of Turn 8 and End of Scenario. It was a USMC victory. They prevented the destruction of the pump houses and only suffered one serious casualty.

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Aftermath and Observations

I hope you enjoyed that. It was a little different from an RPG. True, I didn't use RPG Solo much in the battle. Like I said, the game is already mechanically set up to support solo play and this one was a fairly straight-forward offensive mission by the non-me player. 

What I like
So, I've had a chance to make and play the next two more scenarios from this campaign book inside Tabletop Simulator. I played them with my son.

I love how Force on Force rules allow you to play any kind of modern military engagement from WWII onwards. I love the fluid battlefield feel. I love the initiative system. It gives a huge advantage to whomever has it and if you lose it, it's a real blow, especially if you're fighting against regular troops. 

For example, in the third scenario from this campaign book against my son, he was playing some regular Iraqi soldiers. I was playing the USMC. The Iraqis were still lower troop quality from the Americans, but even so, he won a critical initiative on turn 3 after taking two rounds of pummeling fire from my units, and with a lucky RPG strike to the side of an AAV, he caused it to brew up as it was carrying a full squad. The marines spilled out wounded, bleeding, and dying. He actually won that scenario from one RPG shot since his points for victory were based on number of marines killed or wounded.

The game simulates the feel of an actual modern battle, capturing the ebb and flow and randomness. I think that is something that is hard to pull off in a dice-driven game, but Ambush Alley does it well with their Overwatch and Reaction rules.

The Fog of War cards are cool too. They didn't come into play in this first scenario, but anytime someone rolls a 1 on a reaction test, they get to draw a Fog of War card. These add randomness onto the battle field. For example, in another game, I drew one on a turn, and a fire-friendly accident immobilized one of my vehicles. In another card that my son drew, tracer rounds caught a building on fire. Things like that...

What I don't like
There's not much I don't like. The strengths of the system that can simulate any modern military battle, breaching buildings, clearing buildings, chemical warfare, fast rope insertions by helo, you name it... also add some complication. I love the system. But some concepts are complicated to wrap your heard around, and you're always looking up rules. Also, the index could be beefed up. Sometimes turns can take a while with all the back and forth, Reactions, Overwatch etc. But still, a great rule set.

If you want to see a video battle of Force on Force, I recommend Little Wars TV on YouTube. That's where I heard about it.

And a rules review by Little Wars TV:

If you like modern combat and miniatures wargaming, I recommend picking up a copy if you can find one.

Anyway... Enjoy!

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