Rhodesian African Rifles.

The Rhodesian African Rifles have had a long and illustrious career fighting firstly for the British empire and then after the UDI for Rhodesia against the Marxist/ Maoist insurgents groups of ZANLA and ZIPRA.

With a similar motivation to the previously posted BEF, I had a scenario in mind for these figures, I dug out 4 ‘sticks’ worth of Under Fire Miniatures’ Clicky 20mm RAR figures.

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Clad in the typical Rhodesian camo I did half with painted rifles to add a bit of variety.

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The 4 man stick was a unit organisation peculiar to the Rhodesian armed force, based around the number of men that could fit in an Alouette III heicopter as used in the ‘Fire Force’ missions in the later stages of the Rhodesian Bush War. The 4 men, as seen above, carried FN FALs and one had a FN MAG GPMG, one man was a signaller wilst a further man was trained as a medic.

For more information on the Rhodesian Bush War and the RAR in particular I strongly recommend John Wynn Hopkins’ blog : Rhodesian War Games

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

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Beating around the Bush (Horizons).

Last week I took a trip with Bill of Under Fire Miniatures to vist his friend Wing Commander Luddite aka Nick to playtest his African campaign/ battle system that he is developing called Bush Horizons. Also it was nice to see the Wing Commander’s model collection and be able to game with it. All models and terrain in the photos are his.

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We were joined by Jerry and Kev to run through a full campaign turn and play out any resulting battles.

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Basically the game was set in a fictional African country sometime in the 1970s/ 1980s. You create an armed/ political party: Kev and I formed B.O.P.M to take on P.R.O.F. run by Bill and Jerry. You then have 40 ‘elements’ to split between 6 different abstracted territories of the country. Once both side have committed their forces for the turn it is revealed to both sides. Any contested areas are played out. If you are massively outnumbered you can always conceed the territory to your opponent.

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Once a battle has been decided upon both side roll a number of D6 equal to the number of elemnts that they committed to that battle to see what actually turns up. These elements are then grouped into units for the battle.

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We managed three battles of various sizes in an afternoon so fighting a campaign to its conclusion wouldn’t take that long.

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The tactical battle system is fast and elegant and gives you a definite result with hte minimum of fuss. I’m looking forward to being able to get another turn of the campaign done.  I’ve not given away too much in terms of the mechanisms of the campaign or battle systems are they aren’t mine to do so with but it would be great to see the rules reach a wider audience someday. Playing the games got me thinking about other, historical, areas it could be used for. The South Africans fighting the Angolans and Cubans wouyld be an obvious one. You could play up the quantity versus quality difference there. Also I thought that the campaign system with a few tweaks would work well for the various wars that have broken out in the area around the Great Lakes, particularly the Kagera War between Tanzania and Uganda (I know its fairly obscure but I’ve been reading a lot of the Helion African at War series recently clicky ).

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Wing Commander Luddite’s 6mm modelling skills are amazing and as the photos show it is something to aspire to. I will try to up my scenery game in 1/300th now.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

Fighting for Angola: FAPLA figures in 20mm.

I have just finished some of Under Fire Miniatures recently released Angolan Government troops [clicky]

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They represent soldiers from the FAPLA (Peoples Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola) who were the armed wing of MPLA (Peoples Movement for the Liberation of Angola) who had fought against the Portuguese up until 1974 when Portugal granted independence to its African colonies. After this MPLA formed a government and started moving Angola to a single party Marxist state. (The Soviet Union/ Warsaw Pact and Cuba send military aid as advisors). This led to a civil war in Angola between the MPLA/FAPLA and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) as well as the FNLA (National Liberation Front of Angola). This ended up as a something of a Cold War proxy battleground between East and West. Furthermore South African forces frequently crossed into Angola due to MPLA’s support of SWAPO (South West African People’s Organisation: a guerrilla force fighting in what is now Namibia against the South Africans). It makes for a rather long and complicated war that didn’t really end untill the 2000s.

With military aid coming from the Warsaw Pact and Cuba I’ve painted the figures to reflect this.

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This group of figures has been painted in a Cuban Lizard pattern camo. They are armed with the usual mix of Soviet weaponary.

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This second smaller group are in the East German Rain pattern (fiddly to do on 20mm figures and the zoom of a digital camera isn’t kind to my so so painting), three of them wear the DDR’s NVA helmet.

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For support they have a Recoilless Rifle.

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As well as a Plamya AGS17 Automatic Grenade Launcher.

 

Great figures that will make for nice opponents to the South Afrtican Defence Force figures I painted some time back.

 

Cheers,

 

Pete.

Back to Africa with 5core Skirmish.

Last week I hadn’t had the time to prepare a game like I usually do so Evan had an idea for a skirmish based, I think, on the ‘Tears of the Sun’ film he is a fan of… I’m not sure I’ve not seen the film.

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(Apologies for the picture quality as I was using the camera on my phone.)

 

He had a group of 6 SOF (2 M203s, 2 M4 Assault Rifles, 1 Light Machine Gun, 1 Sniper) types whilst I had a group of African militia (Mostly AKs with a RPD, a RPK and a few PPSh SMGs). After entering the village Evan’s figures had to search the buildings until the Doctor was located, I wrote down where I had hidden him.

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This was the table. I set up in a rough circle protecting the centre of the village whilst Evan’s forces could enter from any side.

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Evan moved his men in carefully clearing as the went covered by a sniper he put up a tree.

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I tried to slow their advance with my RPK wielding figure but he was taken out by the sniper.

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At times the fighting degenerated into a violent melee as I tried to force the SOF back. With 12 figures to his 6 I tried to win by a bloody process of attrition.

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At the games end Evan had searched all the buildings which have had their roofs taken off in the above picture. Unfortunately he didn’t find the doctor; I had hidden him in the toilets which is where Evan said he’d have put him too.

My attritional tactics worked in the end just. Evan failed a squad morale roll before I did and withdrew from the field.

In retrospect it was a good fun game but would need tweaking a bit if we were to play it again. Both the SOF types and the African militia had the same chance of shooting each other which seemed wrong given the vast difference in marksmanship skills so I think that more use of the skills and benefits that are in the rules will give a better feel for the game.

The plan is to try a stealth type game next.

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

A first try at 5core Skirmish (3rd Edition).

I, like most wargamers I think, am never 100% fully satisfied with any given rule set and so I go through stages of tweaking bits, rewriting others or adding bits in. Also I’m always keen to try a new set of rules to see if the grass is greener on the other side. The obvious answer would be to write my own set but that is always easier said than done.

Given how much I and the others have enjoyed playing Nordic Weasel’s 5core Brigade Commander rules in 6mm I decided to pick up one of their skirmish sets from Wargames Vault and give it a go.

I grabbed what was handy fromthe shed and Brian and I had a quick run through of the rules. I set up a 4 by 4 table (I’ll say here that we played with all measurements doubled) to look a bit like Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). The light green patches were  bits of scrub, mid green defined the edge of woods.

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Brian got 2 four man teams of RLI each with 3 FN FALs and 1 FN MAG:

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Whereas I got 10 assorted ZANLA (5 AK, 2 SKS, 2 PPSh, 1 RPD), all of the figures were from Under Fire Miniatures.

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My ZANLA move up the left flank.

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Whilst others advance into the kraal.

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The RLI move into position at the edge of the woods, this was just before we found out how powerfully an FN MAG is.

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We used a lot of counters (Green= hidden, Orange= fired, White= Panic, Red= Knocked Down, blood splat= out of action) I know that is not to all gamer’s tastes but for me function follows form if it for the sake of game play.

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RLI advancing through the scrub on the ZANLA right flank.

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In my last two turns I managed to combine a scurry followed by a fire fight; I got my men into position weathered the return fire then was in a good place to shoot. I took a few casualties (4 out of the fight) but I gave the RLI a bloody nose (2 out of the fight) which historically they would have found hard to countenance.

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First impression on the game were overwhelmingly positive from both of us- clear rules and it played nice and quickly too, ideal for a mid- week evening. The mechanisms are very similar to the brigade level game but feel right for a smaller level of play. Having three reserve activation dice to use throughout the game is a nice feature, standing in for the asset cards in Brigade Commander. The RLI didn’t do as well as they should have, even with the tactical advantage, but if we re run the scenario I’ll add in some skills to boost their performance. I wanted to keep things simple for a first run through.

The only two minor quibbles would be how to have assault and bolt action rifles on the table at the same time. We decided to just treat the AKs and FN FALs as infantry rifles and the SKS as a single shot rifle to provide some differentiation.

Also I’d have like to see some rules for medics too – but that can be easily house ruled (and that takes us back to the top of the post).

I’m very taken with the set and am already planning future games as well as tie ins with our 6mm Cold Wars games in a mini campaign.

Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

Some Bush War figures.

I’ve been painting up some of the various figures  from Under Fire Miniatures for African bush wars and I thought I’d share them with you.

First up: two groups of  assorted Rhodesian African Rifles.

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Moving geographically westwards and forwards chronologically I’ve done some South African infantry with the later helmet and webbing. They should be good for games set around the time of the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale.

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Cheers,

 

Pete.

 

Tauregs.

Fresh from the painting bench we have this small group of 20mm Tauregs.

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They are from what was previously Force 20 miniatures, they seem to have (as of 1st July this year) changed their name to Covert Intervention Games. Either way they are available through Elhiem Figures.

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The Tauregs are an interesting tribal people who ancestral land crosses the borders of several modern African nation in the trans Sahara area. Periodically they have launched a war for self determination or at least increased right. However the latest uprising saw on of the major factions becoming allied to Al Qaeda. The French intervention in Mali Operation Serval was in part linked to the latest Taureg rebellion.

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Finding information is pretty hard on them, as much as it pains me to say it Wikipedia is as good a starts as any, it was through there I become aware of a few different scholarly articles that I got hold of that gave good info on the late 20th century Taureg Rebellions.The fall out from the Lybian civil war has left a lot of their lands in a state of perpetual low level warfare as this Vice documentary shows:

https://news.vice.com/video/libyas-quiet-war-the-tuareg-of-south-libya?utm_source=vicenewsfb

Either way my figures will be making they way on to the table top in games of Black Ops/ Chain Reaction/ Force on Force as I use gaming to try and make sense of this latest geopolitical development.

Cheers,

 

Pete.