Friday, 2 March 2012

Reflections on the Campaign So Far

Operation Savannah is ten days old in game time and I've played three games over a couple of weeks in real time. These games have been mainly designed to allow me and a couple of friends to familiarise ourselves with the 'AK47 Reloaded' rules mechanisms, as well as have a bit of fun.

We've stuck to the broad prescription of the rules around army lists, points values and the scenarios we've fought although I've drafted Angola specific army lists for the main protagonists and have fought battles with 300 & 400ish point armies. We haven't bothered with the asset system or the 15 days to war scenario generator either. We omitted the former in the interests of simplification and speeding up the game and the latter because, having tried it several times for a Russian Civil War variant of the these rules that I wrote, I don't like it.

The strategic aspect of the campaign has been simply made up in the spirit of one of the inspirations for this project, the Winter of 79 campaign. That doesn't mean there is no structure to the campaign, rather it's a narrative that provides its own limitations as it unfolds. It's very 'free form', allowing us to build scenarios in the context of the historical and counter-factual background that we write as the project develops.

So, to summarise events to date:

  • South Africa has intervened in the Angolan Civil War on the eve of the Portuguese withdrawal
  • Four brigade sized task forces have invaded Angola, three across the Namibian Border and one from Zaire. All of these groups have a nucleus of Angolan FNLA troops to maintain the fiction that this is an attack by indigenous Angolan forces
  • To date we've fought three battles involving two of the southern task forces and setting Cuban and MPLA troops against the invaders. The battles have resulted in tactical defeats of varying magnitude for the invaders but the strategic military initiative remains with the SADF/FNLA - they haven't been stopped.
  • The level of casualties amongst South African troops, although militarily insignificant, is expected to result in political pressure on the Pretoria government. Of course, the progress of the third southern task force has yet to be gamed, as has that of the northern task force, but it looks increasingly likely Pretoria will find themselves faced with the choice of cutting their losses and withdrawing or a greater commitment in the hope of bringing the war to a swift and successful conclusion before domestic and international political pressure becomes too great to continue.
  • What does winning look like? For South Africa it's the installation of an FNLA government in Luanda by independence day or shortly thereafter. For the MPLA, who have a strong power base in Luanda and other urban centres it's simply hanging on and stopping the FNLA and UNITA
  • What of the Cubans? The Cuban military on the ground is lobbying Havana to commit more troops and assistance to the MPLA. Havana is seeking Soviet support. The MPLA's survival is largely conditional on support from Havana and Moscow.
In terms of wargaming hardware I have a couple of 1/100 resin aircraft models to build: a MiG 21 and a Mirage; and a couple of helicopters - both Soviet. I need to complete bases for all the trees I bought and the ones they came with are too small and the trees are too unstable for wargaming purposes. I'm also awaiting delivery of a couple of hills I've ordered from a local wargames shop.

To flesh out the forces I have already I want some T34/85s (for when the Cubans commit...) and some BRDM and Ratels for gaming the conflict as we move forward into the late 70s and the 80s. I also intend to get some civilians and media crew figures from Peter Pig as well as some more trucks so I can start to develop some scenarios involving them. Mr Arms Dealer and one or two of the character packs like Colonel Blanc may also make an appearance...

Work commitments will mean I won't be gaming at the pace I have over the last couple of weeks but there is still plenty of modelling and painting and writing to be getting along with.

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