NOVAG and Potomac Wargamers hosted their annual Winter Game Day on Sunday 18 January 2015 at The Centreville Library in Centreville, VA. All games kicked off at 1300, so there wasn’t any chance to play in an earlier game than that. There were some great choices, but the one that caught my eye was: Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) Barrack Raid run by Lance O’Donnell using the Triumph and Tragedy rules set between 1900 and 1939. These are a set of very tactical rules set in the early 20th century optimized for 20th century rifle ranges. The scenario being played was two squads (called “Battalions” but really squad sized). I had two groups of men of about 10 guys each (each with a leader with a pistol) and one Heroic Leader who could set demolitions and throw grenades (he had two). Even dedicated IRA men are not exactly up to snuff militarily, so my initiative was the worst in the game (except for my hero). We were also not as skilled as the RIC and Black and Tans were with firearms and other shooty things. Here’s the scenario description: The local IRA needs to acquire rifles for the independence cause and has been planning to hit a rural Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) barracks. But the Black and Tans have been interrogating local villagers and have learned of the plot. Can the IRA grab the rifles or will the Black and Tans get there in time to stop them?
Being, erm, descended from a few parties of interest in that conflict, I opted to take the IRA. The map was simple. Fields with a road bisecting it laterally.. In the center of the board was a two story structure (The RIC barracks) with a stone fence out back and two doors, front and back, starting the game locked. The RIC is inside the building and they have been tipped off about the IRA.
I started in the upper NW and lower SW quadrant corners, and improvised a covered approach to the objective going as fast as I could. I was assisted in this by some woods in the NW quadrant and both a hedge in the SW quadrant combined with no side windows in the barracks building. The Black and Tans did not enter until Turn 3, which forced the impetus of action upon me.
My tactical plan was to rush to a position where I could be in range, lay down a suppressing fire on both windowed sides of the RIC barracks, blow the black door with demolitions and rush in to club and capture the hopefully very suppressed RIC men.
I had to position my men along the stone wall to get some partial cover. Unfortunately the rules are a little hinky– ALL members of the squad had to be touching the wall with their bases or the defensive dice adjustment applies to none of them.. Unfortunately I couldn’t get them all there the first turn so had to take a few losses before we were hiding behind the wall together. We crowded up to the windows as best we could and poured fire into the room.
So far the initial plan was working pretty well. We had managed to get the first element behind the stone fence to fire into the barracks and contribute to suppressing the RIC constables. We had only taken one casualty on the approach. The other element had taken advantage of excellent cover to approach the FRONT of the building to pour in suppressing fire on that side. Rather than stay in the street, in the open, to engage the onrushing Black and Tans, I moved them back around to the REAR of the building to serve as the charging force in melee.
As you can see, the RIC were in for it in a serious way. They lost 3 men and got many points of suppression which limited their odds.
The melee went for 2 turns inside before the last RIC Constables went Tango Uniform. Numbers can tell, and this was a situation where he could activate 3 or less and I was attacking him at a dozen people per attack. Having achieved the impossible and captured the RIC barracks, I wanted to try wiping out the Black and Tans.
All this gallivanting about was taking up precious time. One thing I could not afford was getting into a prolonged gun battle with the RUC (Black and Tans) as they had better rifle skill, better initiative and higher morale. My best bet was to lure them into a long range shoot ’em up, get them to run up close and toss my two grenades at them. Good plan, half-assed execution.
Unfortunately my heroic leader guy was a great demo expert but lousy grenade tosser, and the grenade flew off coordinates. I do think that made the other player a little cautious however.
To speed up the narrative, the Black and Tans speed up the road, disappointed that Squad 2 hadn’t stayed around to be shot at, then deployed in line and shot up Squad 1, safely behind the stone wall. Squad 1 returned fire from where they stood, being somewhat protected. That winnowed the B&Ts dramatically and only 4 guys lived to make it to the wall, then 3… At that point we were in melee and I still had a relatively fresh squad– which had run around the building and was about to launch itself on the remaining B&Ts for a truly epic asymetrical fight. I’ll entertain someone who wants to fight to the death, but in games where it doesn’t seem to be worth it, I always offer an early out rather than commit to playing out something unwinnable. My opponent agreed that it was pretty hopeless for him and we called the game, which was an IRA total victory. I had captured the RIC barracks and either killed, wounded or accepted the surrender of every enemy on the table. I attribute success to moving fast, early, when I had a numerical advantage, not delaying the attack until everything was perfect, and having my two squad elements support each other by each providing suppressing fire into the building. The result was a lot of cohesion hits and some kills (maybe half). My specialist hero worked well setting the demo and blowing the door, but proved inept throwing grenades (I only had to throw one of two). It was a great time, I enjoyed going to NOVAG’s game day and seeing everyone.
OTHER NOVAG EVENTS