The Xmas break has for me traditionally been an opportunity to get in a few wargames with friends and family and as well as playing Augustus to Aurelian this Xmas with Will, Tom and Ben I got together with Steve M, Vince and Chas to play a game of Spectre Operations, in Vince's toy room.
I think I first came across the incarnation of this, what I would call, modern, special operations/asymmetrical warfare, set of rules back in 2018 at Colours in Newbury when I reported on the game seen below, which I remarked then was a game that would very much appeal to several of the chaps in the Devon Wargames Group - so I wasn't entirely surprised to see that Chas and Vince were getting to grips with them and the game we were about to play.
|Spectre Operations at Colours 2018 - more pictures can be seen in the link below together with links to the rules and associated figures|
|Our stage for our fictitious battle, a benighted town in the country of Nowhere.|
Our tabletop presented the normal third world, fly blown, shanty town, common to many news reports about terrorist hot-spots around the world, complete with its enclosed Presidential Palace into which, no less a person than President Donald Trump had managed to get himself kidnapped during an ill-advised visit.
I know, I know, but just go with me on this!
The scenario based on this initial set up saw the President being held by the militia forces of this fictitious state, looking to bargain with various interested factions who wanted to get hold of this VIP.
One faction, it turned out, was a shady firm of private military contractors purportedly working alongside western coalition forces, but with that relationship left in a certain level of uncertainty.
Another faction was the government of this fictitious state represented by its own military forces who though officially working alongside the coalition were to be considered as potentially unreliable in so many ways.
Finally there were the peoples militia forces themselves, who were holding the President, and demanding their own agenda be met before any prospect of the release of him.
|The end of town that would figure most in our battle, with the Presidential palace, centre-top.|
Into this unbelievable mess, with the stress on unbelievable, but if you are still with me, just keep going for a bit longer, are to be sent a rescue mission of US Army Rangers commanded by yours truly.
On being briefed about the three other factions with forces on or about to enter the table, I had two squads of elite Army Rangers tasked with securing the President who we knew was being held within the Presidential Palace compound and to come up with a plan to safely extract him, using lethal force as necessary, which as we all know is a very undefined criteria in these kind of operations.
To help the Ranger force, I had the use of helicopters, Humvee armoured transports, drone observation and missile fire support, and the somewhat dubious backup from a platoon of government troops with their own Soviet made APC.
I was also made aware that western private contractors may also be operating in the area.
|with flame and smoke rising from a successful missile strike, the helicopter brings in the security team|
My plan was simple:
The Rangers would enter the Presidential compound via helicopter lift onto the roof of the main building, with one helicopter and its team sniper detailed with taking down militia guards within the compound perimeter who might contest the landing.
The initial assault would be preceded with, as I was later briefed, my one missile strike, which I directed at the building on which a rather large Soviet made AA gun was positioned.
The next pre-landing primary target would be the heavy machine-gun mounted on the pickup in the compound, the crew for which would be dealt with by the sniper.
|Some of the compound garrison lie dead as the garrison building burns and gate guards look to take cover|
Once on the roof, a hole was to be blown in it and any occupants neutralised, together with any other members of the immediate garrison attempting to interfere with the landing.
With the compound secure the other Ranger squad would land on the roof securing the surrounding area as the release squad moved to the building where the President was held and escort him back to the palace building where he would change into Ranger fatigues.
|with the assault on the compound under way, Chas prepares to resist Steve's oncoming government troops|
With the palace and its surrounds secured, the helicopters would return along with the Humvees, with the latter providing ground support with their HMGs as the helicopter lift proceeded.
The government troops were tasked with capturing and holding the ground next to the palace in which a container park had been set up, and they would support the Humvees in suppressing any enemy ground forces.
As I suspected from the start, my plan was to be interfered with by other force agendas and so I determined to play the role straight, and assume the role of the Ranger commander, trusting no one, and only engaging known enemy or others who threatened my forces after being warned to stand down.
As part of that approach I determined to only allow other forces to come within a predetermined distance from my troops who would use the protection of the palace to limit the scope of any outside interference, but if those forces proved loyal could help support my operation by suppressing known enemy, whilst any deviation would alert me to their actual intent, freeing me to engage them accordingly.
|The government forces move over the hill supported by their APC ready to secure the container park and the large white transport office building occupied by the private contractor force who narrowly avoided being brassed up by the APC|
So the game played out with the Rangers successfully taking the compound in about five to six moves, destroying the AA gun and pick up as planned and with the security squad quickly neutralising other guards on the gate and in the guard house who fired on my team, killing one ranger.
This squad with the help of the recce drone quickly identified other militia units approaching the palace in nearby buildings and likewise continued to neutralise those other threats completely.
|Rangers secure the roof of the Presidential Palace with one man down from fire taken from the gate guard, about to be disposed of by a rifle grenade, as shown by the blast template over the gate|
The President was quickly released and brought safely into the palace where he changed clothes to make identifying him and his whereabouts from any other Rangers impossible to any force likely to want to take him hostage.
There was a risk to the President from fire directed at the Rangers, but knowing that the likely intent of other forces was to capture, not kill our VIP it was deemed a sensible precaution to hide the target.
The dismay on the faces of my eventual opponents, once revealed, seemed to confirm the success of this approach, that seemed to catch them off guard - all's fair in Spectre Operations!
|Government troops cautiously enter the container park|
With the President secured and only one Ranger down, the plan had gone very well and it was now that the other forces started to make their play, with the government troops insisting that they leave the area allotted to them and enter the Presidential Palace and its compound.
I issued an order to their commander to stand down and to follow my orders, with the the threat of failure to comply seeing my troops firing on them if required.
|Militia forces take shelter in the lee of the perimeter wall after losing a lot of men from fire from the Rangers as they landed|
Similarly private contractors were observed advancing alongside the government troops and, approaching a separate wall on the perimeter, blew a hole in it with a demolition charge, announcing they were a US Seal team operating clandestine in support of our mission.
Still uncertain as to their real intent, I called to their commander stating that the palace building was off limits to all coalition forces, save my men, who were now the Presidential guard, and under his authority I was in command and would shoot any unauthorised person or persons entering the palace, instructing him to order his men to defend the perimeter in support of the operation to extract.
|Rangers on the roof secure the surrounds as others move behind the palace towards the security block to release the President.|
The directions given to the government and private forces were clear, designed to test their intent before I determined to open fire on them, if they erred from my directives, which I felt sure they would.
|The Rangers control the palace and the compound, with its security wall providing good cover from enemy fire|
The government troops likewise blew an access into the compound and started to attempt to break into the palace through one of the main doors, failing to gain access in the face of warnings to desist and that they would come under fire on entry.
The goverment soldiers eventually forced the palace door but were immediately gunned down on entering through it.
The private contractors chose to blow in one of the ground floor doors with a charge that stunned two of my Rangers on the door.
Fortunately one Ranger had the fortitude to immediately open fire, killing one of the four man team, with another Ranger on the roof taking out another two with a well directed grenade.
|Militia units tried to ram the palace gate in another pick up but were disposed of by a well placed grenade launched at long range by Rangers on the roof|
With the battle opened on the supposed allied forces, the militia tried to gain access through the main gate by charging a squad up to it in a pick up with the intent to ram their way in.
A well directed rifle launched grenade put an immediate stop to that attack, leaving the vehicle burning on the road outside.
|The first helicopter is shot down by the private contractor team|
With a temporary hold put on attempts to get into the palace the decision was taken to call in the helicopters and Humvees, with one helo standing off as the other came in ready to begin the extraction.
As this happened the Humvees moved into cover and opened fire on the most dangerous threat, namely the contractors gathered outside the breach in the perimeter wall, with their 50 cals dealing with the majority of those men, before themselves falling to an attack from government troops.
|The President is down along with three of the Ranger extraction team - game over|
Frankly at this stage of the op I think all bets were off at a successful extraction, but I could at least make sure that the enemy would have to make a decision on their own objective, to either capture the President alive or to simply kill the Ranger teams.
|Dead and wounded private contractors lie helpless inside the perimeter wall as they tried to force access with a shaped charge|
|The government APC oversees the little battle without itself becoming engaged|
The ploy worked in one sense in that the contractors who had lost a lot of men at this stage of the battle, opened up with everything they had, with troops capable of delivering fire to the same level as my Rangers.
Obviously with all thoughts of profit now forgotten, the return fire from a nearby building was deadly, killing three of the Rangers on the roof, taking down the helicopter that crashed in front of the palace, but also killing the President as well.
|The Humvee team are taken out by government troops|
With no hope of extraction I ordered my Rangers to stand down, whist securing the body of the President and await capture from whoever got onto the roof first.
No doubt an order would be now issued for the killing or capture of the contract team leader and its members and the government of this benighted country would now go through a change of management in the light of this unfortunate incident.
|The militia were almost forced spectators as the battle evolved into one between the Rangers and contractors|
The rules played fast and furious with the usual disparity in effectiveness between modern forces and less well trained and equipped militia types.
Thanks to Steve M, Vince and Chas for a pleasant day of battling in 'Nowheresville'