Friday, 30 December 2016

Viva Los Locos - Just Another Day in San Pedro - "Black Ops" (plus a quiz and some wildlife)

Presidential Guard Units enter the FARC drug plant in San Pedro, during operations this week
In between Xmas and New Year it has become a bit of a tradition to present to you the games we like to play up at Chez Chaz on our annual trip up to Deepest Darkest North Devon and to be honest none of us are ever sure what we might be playing, which is all part of the fun.

This year Chaz decided to whisk us all off to a little town, we'll call San Pedro, deep within the Venuzcolumolivia forested mountains, fought over by the political factions, drug cartels, government official and unofficial military/para-military forces overseen by US spooks and CIA proxy forces.

When that little cocktail of stake holders are brought together with a heady mix of a major drug deal going down between the Cartel's, Mr Big and the leader of the local Communist Venuscol FARC group who has only gone and kidnapped the US Ambassador to the country and is holding him for ransom somewhere in the dense streets of the local favela, then anything could happen!

To help our little adventure along we were using a set of rules written by a former member of the Devon Wargames Group and now seen messing about editing a certain wargames publication, Mr Guy Bowers and his rule set "Black Ops"

In addition to getting into our various character roles we also enjoyed a lunch time quiz to test the collective military history knowledge of our little group and I have attached the questions and answers for your enjoyment. Modesty forbids me from declaring our top scores.

Xmas Quiz
1. Our Commander is, who’s yours

Battle - Our Commander - Your Commander?

  • Edgehill 1642, Charles I 
  • Borodino 1812, Napoleon 
  • Teutoburg Forest, Publius Quintilius Varus 
  • Bosworth 1485, Richard III 
  • Iwo Jima 1945, General Holland Smith 
  • Battle of Issus, Alexander the Great 
  • Battle of Smolensk 1812, Napoleon 
  • Battle of Cropredy Bridge, Charles I 
  • Battle of Agincourt, Henry V 
  • Battle of Lutzen 1632 Gustavus Adolphus 

2. Name five of the nine US Pacific Amphibious Island Landings in 1944

3. “Bloody Fighting” Identify that battle

  • Bloody Angle 
  • Bloody Ridge 
  • Bloody Ditch 
  • Bloody Gulch 
  • Bloody Hill 

4. Which War?

  • Battle of Poitiers 
  • Siege of Masada 
  • Siege of Kut 
  • Battle of Fontenoy 
  • Battle of Poltava 
  • Siege of Jadotville 
  • Battle of Fuentes d’Onoro 
  • Battle of Fort Necessity 

6. Name the three British and one German Battle Cruisers sunk at Jutland

7. Name the five battles of the Prayer Book Rebellion

Answers at the bottom of the post.

As with most fictional accounts there is often a significant element of fact underpinning the plot and this little affair has its roots in some Xmas reading that Chas was doing that inspired our game.

So on with our game and the set up.
Below can be seen a CIA aerial picture of San Pedro with key points of interest identified as part of the preparation for the safe extraction of the US Ambassador known to be held in the town by the local FARC leader and his supporters in the North and South Boy Gangs.

The FARC HQ is the building identified as target 2 in the picture together with the drug packaging and production plant, target 3.

The town is heavily policed by the two paramilitary gangs, the North and South Boys under nominal control of the FARC leadership and they have the main exits into town under checkpoint control identified in the red circle areas.

In recent days another group was identified setting up residence in the town at target one, later identified as the "Mr Big" in narco-exports to the US, known to Venuzcol and Federal Drug agencies as Don Pablo Gonzalez or simply "The Don" or in other circles "Speedy" in recognition of his ability to never be around when the proverbial hits the fan.

Sleepy San Pedro after a night celebrating a new business partnership between the FARC and their new friend "The Don"
The situation in Venuzcolumolivia can only be described as delicate and complicated. US relations with President El Nino have cooled as the Ambassador has sought to bring pressure on the regime to reform and improve its human rights and legal standards whilst also bearing down on the drug traffic that underpins much of the countries black economy. Needless to say the kidnapping of the Ambassador cannot be seen as a total disaster in some quarters of the Venuzcolumolivia government and his demise would present new opportunities and threats to be managed accordingly. Of course covert access to narco-profits would more than make up for US threats and pressure and the President would not be averse to opening up communications with the senior management within the Cartel.

This relationship has only increased mistrust between the two governments and the CIA are active in the country pursuing US interests with their own deniable special forces teams operating within the interior and occasionally co-operating with Venuzcol forces when it suits them, whilst always trying to stay one step ahead of them.

Venuzcolumolivia is, like many narco economies, riven by competing stake holder and the forces available to the regime consist of forces reliably loyal to the President in the form of his elite guard units, who operate alongside a more shady and ruthless paramilitary police with the infamous "Black Berets" among their ranks known for their reputation for making problems and people disappear.

The leader of this ruthless force, General Juan Carlos Fernando, rumour has it that he was the Fernando sung about by Abba in the late 70's, narrowly survived a bomb attack at his HQ arranged by the Cartel and specifically "The Don" and he has vowed to make that particular problem disappear.

Our cast of characters were (Chas) our host and gamemeister for the day, (Mr Steve M) General officer commanding the Presidential Guard, a perfect choice being ex Royal Marines. Just see the way his troops patrol into town; you never forget the training. (Nathan) as General Juan Carlos Fernando, our ruthless killing machine and Abba fan, (Tom) the youngest member of the cast led the enthusiastic if somewhat unskilled North and South Boy street gangs who made up for their inability to shoot straight with pure numbers, (Clive) Comrade Che, the special one, the leader of the Communist FARC faction in the country, a skillful, artful politician breaking into the world of kidnapping and narco-economics designed to drive his political ambitions, but as we shall see a terrible driver, all though he blames his girlfriend, I mean secretary; and last but by no means least Vince who played the role of Felix Leiter our man in Venuzcolumolivia, but I can neither confirm or deny that last statement.

I don't know why, but I (JJ) played the role of The Don, in town having sealed a deal for a new supply of the purest snow this side of the Panama Canal manufactured by my new friends in the FARC and awaking to a new day to the reassuring sound of gunfire that seems to have replaced the dawn chorus in this part of the world. No worries, I have my elite team of bodyguards and minders to keep the riff-raff at bay and I should be on a fast plane out of this flea hole of a town by lunch time.

You know that gunfire does sound extremely close!

Presidential Guard units come under fire from the North Boys Gang as they force one of the four check points
Unbeknown to FARC and the Don the town of San Pedro was under assault at first light as Presidential Guard units and Black Beret squads were tasked with securing the FARC drugs plant, monies and if possible the Don, preferably alive and away from any American interference.

Of course the alive bit didn't include the Black Berets and they did what they do best "Keel all of them!"

FARC guards and North Boys gang members are alerted by the increasing gunfire on the outskirts of town
Aware of the operation US deniable forces were also in on the fun coming in on the last road out of town.

With bullets hitting the rear and side of his villa, The Don  prepares to leave town with "Tiddles" his pure bread Persian
The North and South Boys were no match for the assault teams that assailed their checkpoints and many were simply gunned down as they sleepily emerged from their huts close by.

However not everyone was off guard and a Black Beret reeled back dead before he hit the ground as the Don's close protection team opened up on them from the back of the Villa.

Suddenly the armoured four by four is hit in the bonnet by an RPG killing the driver and The Don narrowly escapes.
Carlos unloads a clip at the Black Berets along the street. The Don himself gifted him that lime green tie!
Quickly assessing the situation Carlos, the Don's main man, shepherded his boss to the car outside organising all round defence as the party prepared to leave.

Suddenly, Black Beret troops opened small arms fire and RPG rounds at the car from another road point having already driven off the FARC and North Boy garrison. The Don's driver was killed in the explosion but the other passengers escaped leaving Carlos on the wrong side of the vehicle.

Shouting to the other members of the team to get the Don away from the house, he announced he would hold the Black Berets off from the Villa and cover them. What a guy!

Presidential Guard units make steady progress into town eradicating points of resistance along the route
With all routes blocked and the crescendo of battle all around the FARC and the Don were looking for secure routes out of town and quick.

The Don and his men boarded the town bus and were getting ready to make themselves look like the other passengers when the Don's mobile rang.

The caller announced himself as the Colonel in charge of Presidential Guard units entering the town and approaching the bus with a "Presidential Offer" of safe conduct to the Don in return for information.

It was then that the Don thought he heard a second click on the line as the Guard Colonel ended the call and Vince was seen to hastily scribble something down on his quiz notes. These CIA types get everywhere, the Don thought!

US Special Forces disguised as goats surprise a South Boys check point
Noticing a BBC journalist on the bus and quickly recognising that the situation was not looking good the Don made a deal and led his men towards the awaiting guardsmen under the eyes of the world media.

Meanwhile the US special forces and Black Berets were mopping up the remaining South and North Boy gang members as the FARC teams desperately tried to secure their monies, drugs and captive for immediate evacuation.

With a helicopter summoned to come in and take the Ambassador away from the town, Comrade Che grabbed a car in the rear compound and together with his secretary slammed the vehicle into gear and charged the fence blocking access to the only road not guarded by the Americans.

The car got stuck on the wire and abandoning it, the FARC leader quickly hot wired the other one close by, this time leaving it to his secretary to negotiate a route to the road and a fast get away.

With the Don's car burning, the North Boys commandeer a bus to blockade the crossroads in town
With "Black Berets" and Military Police entering bottom and left, Presidential Guard, top and US deniable forces, right, all roads out of town are blocked, or are they?
As the government forces closed in on the centre of town, a small helicopter could be heard approaching.

The Don looked up to see where the aircraft was when he was shot by a Guardsmen close by who was quickly dispatched by his comrades, who discovered later that the man was a Black Beret infiltrator tasked with his mission to ensure the Don never made it to custody.

Black Beret men seek to liquidate members of the Don's close protection team in his Villa (bottom left) as the Don is forced to surrender to Presidential Guard forces by the bus under the watchful eye of the BBC
As part of his arrangement for safe passage, the Don had revealed the location of the US Ambassador to the Guardsmen who whilst securing the FARC drugs narrowly missed securing the diplomat as FARC members escorted him to the helicopter.

With options rapidly closing, the FARC leader and his secretary make a dash for the road via the fence in his suitably red set of wheels
Surrounded by Presidential Guardsmen and about to be led away, The Don is fatally wounded by a member of the Black Berets secreted among the ranks of the Guard 
The Black Beret murder squads were busy going house to house crushing all resistance and the Don's Villa was a particularly appealing target; but they little expected the resistance they encountered as Carlos El Loco lived up to his name and the ability to wear extraordinary suits and ties with a display of weapons skills that left the South Boys gaping in awe as he filled the front and back door of the house with Black Beret corpses, only to fall in hail of automatic gunfire as he used up his last clip.

Meanwhile back at the Villa, the Black Berets  pay a heavy price as the Don's main man, Carlos El Loco, the man in the brown suit shows off his shooting skills to members of the South Boys
Black Berets dead in each doorway and a South Boys fighter stunned but unhurt pointing his assault rifle in the wrong direction
What did I say about Clive and his driving. - "Whatever you do, don't throw a one and get stuck on the wire."
With the smoke hanging over the battle ground of San Pedro littered with burning cars and strewn with dead and wounded, we called it a day.

The Don was dead, the President and his loyal guard had the drugs, the FARC had their money and their hostage, the Black Berets had their revenge, the North and South Boys had had a lesson in shooting and the CIA well they weren't involved were they?

On information received from the dying Don, the guards narrowly miss finding the US Ambassador in the Group 4 truck
I really enjoy playing the occasional game where I have absolutely no idea what I am doing but can spend a few hours losing myself in the story that is the game, enjoying the banter and laughs with friends.

Such was our game yesterday and thank you to Chas for putting the day together and hosting the fun, and to Steve M, Tom, Nathan Vince and Clive for equally losing themselves in their respective characters.

FARC escort the US Ambassador to their escape plan B
Answers to the Xmas Quiz
1. Your Commander

  • Robert Devreaux, Earl Of Essex
  • Kutuzov
  • Arminius
  • Henry Tudor
  • Tadamichi Kuribayashi
  • Darius
  • Barclay de Tolly
  • Sir William Waller
  • Charles d’Albret
  • Albrecht von Wallenstien

2. Name five of the nine US Pacific Amphibious Island Landings in 1944

  • Pelieu
  • Guam
  • Saipan
  • Tinian
  • Kwajalein
  • Eniwetok
  • Anguar
  • Leyte
  • Truk

3. “Bloody Fighting”

  • Battle Spotsylvania/Antietam, ACW
  • Battle of Edson’s Ridge, Guadalcanal, WWII
  • Battle of Roundway Down, ECW
  • Battle of Carentan, Normandy, WWII
  • Battle of Wilson’s Creek, Oak Hills ACW

4. Which War?

  • Hundred Years War
  • Jewish Revolt v Rome
  • World War One
  • War of Austrian Succession
  • Great Northern War
  • Congo Crisis 1961
  • Peninsular War
  • French & Indian War

6. Name the three British and one German battle cruisers sunk at Jutland

  • Lutzow
  • Indefatigable
  • Queen Mary
  • Invincible

7. Name the five battles of the Prayer Book Rebellion

  • Battle of Fenny Bridges, 2nd July 1549
  • Battle of Woodbury Common, 2nd August 1549
  • Battle of Clyst St Mary, 5th August 1549
  • Battle of Clyst Heath, 6th August 1549
  • Battle of Sampford Courtney, 16th August 1549
The really great aspect of living in Devon is that you are never very far way from beautiful countryside and its nature and whilst enjoying a break from the game we were treated to an amazing display of bird-life in Chas' garden including this stunning pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

I didn't have the tripod to hand so had to rely on long distance steady hand hold to take these shots which is never easy, but I think you can see what amazing birds these are

Next up;
End of Year/New Year Review and more Napoleonics for Talavera 208


  1. Thanks for a very entertaining post. I was convinced that I bought these rules a couple of months ago - anyway, they are not in my rules stash - I will correct that at once!

  2. Just like being there JJ.

    A good time was had by all & "Chuck" (not that he was there or working for the US government)got to roundhouse kick someone, so all was good.