Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Border Clash!

Tony and I had our first game in our African Imagi-Nations setting last night.

The battle took place in the disputed province of Zumbura, on the border between the Republic of Zumbanda and the Democratic Republic of Buranda. The Zumburan tribal lands have long been claimed by both Zumbanda and Buranda, and Zumbanda's proxies in the province (which is currently under notional Burandan control) are the 'Central African People's Liberation Army' (CAPLA), supported by their Cuban advisors.

The battle was an encounter between a reinforced company of Buranda government troops, and a reinforced company group of CAPLA rebels.

My force is the Burandans. Buranda is a former French colony, and the young democratic country still maintains close ties with France. On the military side, the Burandans are equipped largely with French equipment, but they do also have equipment from some others. The force in this encounter comprised:
  • Infantry company of 9x Squads, mounted in Casspir APCs (these are 4x4 protected vehicles of South African origin - used because I like the look of them!);
  • 2x 120mm Mortar Squads, mounted in Casspir APC;
  • Platoon of 4x AMX-30 MBTs;
  • Platoon of 4x AMX-13 light tanks; and
  • Recon Platoon of 5x AML H-90 Armoured Cars
The Burandans are all rated 'Fair' under the FFT rules, with Artillery accuracy of '5'.

Tony's force was the CAPLA. These are a rebel group, based in neighbouring Zumbanda (a socialist republic, and cold war Soviet ally). Zumbanda foments rebellion in the border regions of Buranda, trying to force the disputed border province of Zumbura to break away and join Zumbanda. CAPLA are based out of training camps in Zumbanda, and have the assistance of Cuban and Zumbandan advisors. Additionally, CAPLA has a respectable level of support in the Zumburan tribal lands, and receives assistance from these supporters. The group involved in this border incursion was a substantial one:
  • Infantry company of 9x Squads, mounted in BTR-152s;
  • 2x Tank Platoons, each of 3x T-54Bs;
  • Recon Platoon of 3x PT-76 light tanks; and
  • Recon Platoon of 3x BRDM-2 Armoured Cars.
CAPLA are rated 'Fair' under the FFT rules, with Artillery accuracy of '5'.

We played the 'Encounter Battle' scenario from the FFT rulebook. In this scenario, both sides deploy using 'Moving Deployment' (ie. from off table), and earn Victory Points for each unit exited off their opponent's table edge.

Overview of the battlefield looking S to N.
Sparse woods, with a couple of small villages in the centre, and some impassable
rocky outcroppings. Dirt roads connect the villages and run through the area.
The Burandans got the first turn. At top of picture can be seen
the majority of the Burandan force entering the battlefield.

Burandan AMX-13s move up to cover the S of the advance.
This picture shows fairly well the colour of the battlefield covering itself.
This is a terrain cloth from the Cigar Box Battles company.
I spotted this and bought it recently at the Little Wars Melbourne show.
since whilst it's a green matt, it is more yellow and dappled than other matts I've seen,
so I thought it would be quite suitable for temperate and arid Africa.
I have another 'Desert' matt from Cigar Box Battles for battles occurring in more arid areas still.

The Burandan Infantry move up on the N flank.
Two platoons of Infantry in their Casspirs move forward in line abreast cross country (on the L).
The Mortar sections in their APC follow.
The AMX-30 Platoon and the third platoon of Infantry advance in column on road (on the R).

View from the front of the Burandan column - AMX-30s lead.
Burandan vehicles are painted a simple tan colour,
which suffices for camouflage in the arid north of the country.

Buradan AMX-30s and Casspir APCs.

Casspirs advance in line-abreast.

The CAPLA forces advance. The PT-76 platoon moves up behind a village, in the centre.
The buildings were supplied by Tony. They are card buildings, and I think they look quite good.

CAPLA Infantry in their BTR-152s advance in line through the sparse woods on the S flank.

Close up of CAPLA PT-76s. Note the CAPLA three-tone green camo scheme.

CAPLA troops in the centre (bottom of picture) and further N (top of picture).
From bottom to top: BRDM-2s, T-54B Platoon, and a platoon of infantry in BTR-152s.

CAPLA T-54Bs survey the terrain for targets.

The AMX-13s move up to the edge of the woods, to cover the S direction.

Burandan Armoured Cars seize the village and cross-roads in the centre of the battlefield.

The main element of the Burandan force moves up in the N.
The AMX-30s spread out and find cover from which to engage any advancing CAPLA.

The Burandan 120mm mortar sections dismount behind the woods
to provide some indirect fore support.

View of the Burandan forces shaking out int formation in the N.
A couple of the Rocky outcrops provided by Tony can be seen here -
these are made from pieces of 'tan-bark', painted up in grey. I think they look very effective!

View from behind the Mortars.
The figures are actually from GHQ's US Vietnam War Infantry Support Weapons.
Painted in Tan uniforms, and with African skintones, I think they look pretty good
as 3rd world 'western' type troops in older kit...

The CAPLA troops move into view and range of the Burandan AMX-30s.

And the PT-76s move into view of the Burandan ACs in the centre.
These French Armoured Cars are lighly armoured but have very decent 90mm guns on them.
Their range and penetration are sufficient to trouble most MBTs, let alone light tanks like PT-76s!

CAPLA T-54s and BRDM-2s move up in the centre.

In the S, the CAPLA Infantry dismount from their BTR-152s and sweep forward in the woods.

A long range HEAT shot from the PT-76s takes out a Burandan Armoured Car!

The tanks exchange fire. In the foreground, a Burandan AMX-30 is brewed up,
but also manages to get a CAPLA T-54 (the Burandan tanks were on "Hold Fire" orders,
so fire in the CAPLA fire phase is simultaneous).

A slightly wider view of the action.
The remaining AMX-30s are careful to find what cover they can.

The Burandan 120mm mortars lay smoke in front of the T-54s.
This is useful for the Burandans, since the AMX-30s have Thermal Imagers
and can shoot through the smoke (albeit degraded),
whereas the T-54s lack TI and therefore the smoke blocks their LOS.
The AMX-30s find themselves good fire positions in cover.

The Burandan infantry dismount their APCs and move forward towards the fight!

Burandan infantry make the most of cover where possible.
The Burandan Infantry are GHQ US Vietnam War Infantry, in Tan uniforms.
The old-school steel pot helmets look the part for 3rd world regulars... 

The AMX-13s are hidden in the treeline on overwatch.
But they hold their fire, until the CAPLA infantry get closer.
The CAPLA infantry can be seen on the edge of the opposite treeline (top of picture).

Burandan Infantry move forward. The AMX-30s cover them to the front.
Casspirs are thinly armoured and poorly armed (MG only), so remain safely in the rear.

A Burandan squad on the far N flank gets spotted and engaged by the T-54 in the distance.
They are hit and required to take a Quality Check (QC - yellow marker).
They fail the QC ('Fair' troops need a '6' to pass!), and dissapear into the undergrowth for the remainder of the battle.

CAPLA and Burandan tanks exchange fire, with the superior Burandan guns winning out.
Another T-54 goes up in smoke.
Also seen on right of the picture is a Pin marker in amongst the (now dismounted) CAPLA infantry.
This is from indirect fire from the Burandan 120mm Mortars, which suppressed two squads,
along with their (open-topped) BTR-152s)

Burandan Infantry creep up through the trees on the N flank,
and fire a MAW (they have RPG-16s) at a T-54,
causing a QC which it subsequently failed. Another tank down!

Overview of the Burandan advance.
Infantry occupy the wooded areas, and the Casspirs all pull back into a 'Zulu-muster'.

Another view of the Burandan infantry, showing them in the treelines.

After a bit of a stand off and some inconsequential fire exchanges
in the centre, the PT-76s move forward.

Both the Buranda and CAPLA infantry move forward and face off.

The CAPLA infantry can be seen in the woods at top of picture.

The AMX-13s call in the mortars against CAPLA infantry in the treeline in the S.
They pin one squad only, since the CAPLA troops have been listening to their Cuban advisors,
and have maintained decent spacing.

Bad mistake for the PT-76s to break cover and move forward.
The 90mm guns on the Burandan ACs rip through the thin armour of the PT-76s,
destroying the whole platoon in one volley!

This photo shows the aftermath of a Burandan combined arms assault.
The copse of trees in the centre did have a CAPLA infantry squad in it.
One of the AMX-30s suppressed the squad with direct Area Fire (ie. HE), pinning the squad.
The second AMX-30 (up in contact with the copse of trees),
plus a Burandan infantry squad then close-assaulted the CAPLA squad. 
The Burandan infantry was destroyed by defensive small arms fire,
but the AMX-30 destroyed the pinned CAPLA infantry,
then subsequently its BTR-152 (in smoke to the rear). 

The CAPLA troops withdrew at this stage, as the victory was clearly going to Buranda. With the destruction of the PT-76 platoon in the centre, the AMX-13s and ACs had an unopposed route off the table. Likewise, with no more CAPLA tanks on table, the Burandan Infantry and remaining two AMX-30s could drive around the CAPLA infantry and also exit, fulfilling their scenario victory conditions.

We hadn't worked out the specific points values before the game. Instead we just agreed on a rough size ("an infantry company, plus a few platoons of supporting tanks and stuff...") and took it from there. Doing a rough calculation at the end of the game, we worked out that the forces were pretty close in points, but probably with a slight advantage to Buranda. But not intolerably out of balance and commanders have to use what they get! Having said that, with a slight points advantage, it is probably fair that Buranda won.

Some other points on the game:
  • It was really fun!! The setting gives a lot of scope to play around with different forces and equipment.
  • We were happy that the terrain represented what we had pictured for our African setting pretty well. We will add to and develop the terrain as we go along.
  • It was great using some of the older vehicles we hadn't had use of before. Tony said he has had his PT-76 models for about 30 years, and this was finally his excuse to get them out and paint them! Likewise, I had a few packs of cold war French stuff lying around that I'd bought off eBay but never painted up. So this was a perfect opportunity to get them onto the table.
  • I was happy with my simple tan paint scheme for my Burandans. Also the selection of the GHQ Vietnam Infantry to use for the army. Being equipped with 60's-70s era weapons, and having their sleeves rolled up etc really makes them look the part in my opinion. Likewise, I think the three-tone camo on Tony's stuff distinguishes it nicely.
  • The French Armoured Cars are pretty damn cool! With their 90mm guns, they pack a fair bit of punch. They are very vulnerable if fired upon, but if they get the first shot, they can put out some hurt!
  • AMX-30s are pretty good. They lack a bit of armour (especially against HEAT), but their main gun has good range and penetration. A bit like a Leopard I. Other useful things are that they are equipped with TI (very useful), and also their co-axial 20mm cannon! This is great for taking on Infantry, which I found in the assault at the end of the game.
I look forward to seeing some more kit on the table in the future. Maybe some obsolescent aircraft (Alouette helos, or MiG-17s perhaps?), and some more armoured cars and older tank types (I'm picturing some T-34/85s in the hands of Militias, maybe even some upgraded M-4s, T-10s and SU-100s?).

Also some more factions:
  • I'm picturing the main Zumbandan army with Soviet kit, including upgraded T-55MVs (lots of ERA, and look very cool). And maybe some T-72s.
  • Expand my Burandans, with some more vehicle types, and especially with some elite Commando units in Berets (using the GHQ 'Brushfire Warriors' infantry).
  • One I really want to do is a more 'western' themed force with better quality troops and some western equipment - I'm looking at this as a perfect excuse to get all the brilliant new modern Italian vehicles just released by GHQ in the last six months (where else would you use them?!).
  • One of our other gaming mates, John, is putting together a neo-South African force, with Oliphants and the Ratel family of vehicles, so this should be an interesting one on the tabletop.
  • And of course some insurgent/militia types, complete with technicals of verious types.
More to follow!


  1. Great report Bish. Very inspiring stuff! Your Vietnam-era infantry does look perfect for the game.

    You should think of getting a copy of Peter Pig's AK47 rules. Although aimed at 15mm and I don't think it will give the kind of game you're looking for (I've not played FFT, but imagine it's VERY different to AK47), I reckon it will give you some good ideas for your campaign. Perhaps finding it on eBay or similar would be your best bet

    1. Thanks, I do have AK47, and you're right it does have some great ideas. As does Nordic Weasel's 'Not Just a Brushfire War". The setting has a lot of scope and variety.

    2. D'oh!! Completely forgot about Brushfire! I've got that as well

  2. As on the other site, great stuff mate. Truly inspirational for what I am doing with my African terrain and setting! Mine is much more focused on the 'arid' side, but who knows? Perhaps The Carter Regimes Fascistic expansions will see it start eyeing off the greener South in the future ;)

    An interesting way I chose equipment was to use Nordic Weasel's not just a bush war, then list specific types against a die. I have some rather unique compositions :)

    1. Haha, I bet you do have some 'unique' compositions - that sounds great! I'd do that too, except that I wanted to make use of the multitude of minis I already have lying around as a starting point...

  3. I am genuinely amazed (and very pleased!) to see you folks in Canberra following a similar trend to what I am doing... just don't stop before I get there at the end of the year haha!

  4. Gorgeous setup, very nice :)

    I assume all the extra individual trees around the tables were just for visual appeal?

    1. Yes, the individual trees are what we refer to as 'incidental' terrain. Just there for visual effect, and can be pushed aside to make way for miniatures.

  5. great looking game ,love the terrain.I love the AMX's.

  6. Oh, I hate to ask the dumb question, given the name of the blog, but was this in 6mm or individually based 3mm?

    1. Haha, yes the name of the blog is *3mm*, but a bit of 6mm has crept in! The minis in this game are 6mm.

      You could do it in 3mm though - I might replicate the Buranda army in 3mm for larger scale actions (Battalion+), and the CAPLA would just use my existing Russian stuff. All the minis for the Buranda force are available from Oddzial Osmy, except the Casspirs which I have some anyway in 1:600 from one of the producers on Shapeways. Maybe O8 will produse some South African stuff down the track anyway?

  7. great tutorial,good ideas I can use ,thanx.

  8. Great game and superb terrain. Can I ask did you make the roads and if so how did you do them as they look very effective. Will there be more AAR's.
    Richard P

    1. The roads, like the buildings, were supplied by Tony and are paper (card) terrain. Not sure what company makes them, but I'm sure a search of paper terrain will find them.

  9. Great game report. Looking forward to the next installment.