Operation Cosmic, Apr 1968 – Zambesi Valley

In this small game we have another crack at Ganesha Games Flying Lead rules. As it was a club game I have only a couple pics but will give the general thrust of the action.

The time is April 1968, the Rhodesians have launched Operation Cosmic to snuff out an insurgent Zambesi crossing, having been distracted by the relatively large Operation Cauldron which is still under way. In this action a section of infantry from the Rhodesian Regiment has been tasked with finding a number of weapon caches that the locals have told the police exist in and around their village.
 

Forces

RHODESIAN REGIMENT (SF)
Sgt Leader x1                   
Soldiers x2                   
MG Group
MAG gunner x1                   
NCO  x1
Soldier x1                    
Rifle Group
Soldiers x5                   
ZIPRA (CT) 
Leader x1                   
Soldiers (SKS) x7                   
Soldiers (RPD) x1                   
NCO x1       
Soldiers (AK) x6       
Soldiers (RPD) x1       
 
 
 

Scenario

The scenario was one adapted from the Ganesha Games Hearts and Minds Afghanistan supplement. The Patrol scenario was pretty generic and applicable to the Bush War so I adjusted it for the clash. 
 
..this is the scenario as adjusted….
 
 

Patrol

The SF troops are conducting a patrol into an unfriendly area to get information and touch base with the locals. They are joined by two members of the local tribe to act as interpreters.
 

Set up

The table is set up as a patrol area, preferably with a number of buildings and 4-10 locals scattered around the table. SF forces enter the board from the middle of one edge of their choice. This point is their safe extraction point. There are three objectives (caches) placed on the board (two by SF player and one by the CT player). These can be particular points of interest or local figures/stores etc. Each objective must in placed up to 1 Medium from the centre of one of the table quarters. The SF forces gain VPs for every objective they get too and spend two actions interacting with.

 

Meanwhile ‘Mujibas’ will be keeping a watch out for the SF force, reporting information to the nearest CT leader. After each SF activation the CT player rolls a die: on the first turn the local CTs are informed on a 6, on the next turn a 5/6, then a 4/5/6 for each following turn. Once they are ‘informed’, they appear from a random table edge the following turn.

The game lasts until the CTs retreat or the SF troops leave via the extraction point.
VP – normal victory points plus:
5VP each objective interacted with OR in the case of the CT denied to the SF.
 
We also included the ‘Joy of War’ cards adjusted for the Bush War…actually most of them work in pretty easily. A player draws one when, on an opposed die roll, he doubles the score of his opponent at the end of a turn….these mix things up a bit!

Terrain

This consisted of a central Kraal surrounded by outlying brush and scrubland. We classify the scrub as not limiting movement but visibility is restricted to three times Long (i.e. the ‘Long’ measuring stick used in the game which is 18cm…3×18=54cm ) as it is hard to see too far in even relatively open brush.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Game

The game commenced with the Rhodesian platoon seargant entering on his base edge. He called in the MG group and they moved out quickly toward the left hand objective. He then pushed out two troopers toward the objective to his right. These objectives were pretty close to his deployment so it looked quite easy to inspect these and gain some quick victory points.

 

Aware of the entry of the Security Forces it wasn’t long before the first guerrillas appeared. These arrive from a random direction (which can really mix things up) but ended up coming on opposite the Rhodesian forces, thereby setting up a frontal encounter between the two sides.

 

After a couple of activations the two caches had been inspected and the Rhodesians at this point had fulfilled enough victory conditions to achieve a “very minor victory” (more on this later).

 

The guerrillas then started getting quite aggressive. Realising the only way for them to achieve a win was to inflict SF losses they unleashed a hail of bullets, concentrating their fire, which hit the MAG gunner causing him to go ‘out of action’ and also killing a troopie outright…nasty!

 

With these first casualties the Rhodesians started turning on some concentrated fire of their own. Moving up the rifle group they inflicted a couple of kills on the ZIPRA cadres and one of the troopies from the MG group remanned the gun and got it going again.

 

The rest of the ZIPRA cadres had arrived by this time and they too started laying down a little bit of deadly concentrated fire with their venerable SKS carbines…dropping a troopie from the rifle group….three Rhodesians down!

 

…whilst this was happening a couple of troopies pushed into the kraal and took up a firing position next to the chief’s hut whilst the sergeant moved to take charge of the rifle group….ordering them to hit the dirt and start laying down some fire……

 

…a general exchange of small arms fire ensued and slowly the fire ascendancy swung to the Rhodie forces, not without some pain though. The Insurgents concentrated on the MAG gunner and yet another was scored before the NCO in charge of the group picked up the MAG gun to fire himself! The main group of insurgents on the hill (with the AKs) received a ‘gory death’ kill which triggered a morale check..not good. In a blink of an eye five cadres did a runner and a couple more fell back

…all but breaking the back of the guerrilla force.

In the maelstrom the ‘event cards’ threw up a sniper for the SF forces who immediately took out an exposed RPD gunner and the ‘village troopies’ took down another guerrilla with an aimed shot – the losses started to mount up and finally hit the 50% level. The Insurgent forces also pulled a couple of event cards but held them back for play at a later date…however…with the 50% morale checks that followed…

 

… all but two guerrillas bomb shelled which ended the action…..

Summary

As with all Flying Lead games a quick and ‘sharp’ action – game time was 1.20mins…2 hrs set up to pack up.

 

Using the victory points system in Hearts and Minds it was actually closer than it appeared. The two dead Rhodies and two out of action troopies count for almost the cost of two to three fleeing insurgent cadres each so from a ‘propaganda’ point of view it was still a Rhodesian victory but it was measured.

 

The game once again pretty much worked fine but a few points in this scenario were raised.

 

The placement of the caches is too easy for the SF player to do at game start. We thought on an idea to move these around once placed to mix up their location a bit….maybe after they are placed then doing a quality roll and for each success more than failure you can move the cache a medium distance…easy and in keeping with the rules?

 

The concentrated fire is a deadly mechanic. Maybe this is OK for some periods but to me it seemed like the absolute preferred option and from an historical point of view seemed to perhaps allow to much control for the Insurgent forces…they simply weren’t trained to this degree. Maybe some of the more experienced cadres could reasonably deliver fire like this…not sure…but five guys shooting at one figure is almost a certainty to inflict losses..this in my view is not necessarily in keeping with the period and largely negates the Poor Shots trait which is critical to making the insurgents fire as they did historically i.e. spray and pray…they simply did not co ordinate fire like this.

 

Whilst still not convinced, I’d be inclined to limit the group fire mechanic to perhaps three men total for Insurgent forces or simply disallow it….probably limiting it would be best based on quality. It’d be worth another try to see if this is too powerful as a period specific rule to allow them the five men to concentrate fire…we do have to be careful to strike that balance to make a game of it for the insurgents as well!!
 

 

So all up, pretty good fun and and lots of small high and low points for each side….good stuff.

 
 
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5 thoughts on “Operation Cosmic, Apr 1968 – Zambesi Valley

  1. Happy Wanderer, I just wanted to tell you that I'm very impressed with this blog. You've done a great job on painting your miniatures, the battlefields look good and I enjoy the AARs even if I don't use those particular rules. I have been gaming for many years but only just got into collecting and gaming the Rhodesian Bush War a year-and-a-half ago. While I have already spent a ton of money on 28mm figures, models and reference books on the subject your AARs now have me looking at buying more figures to do early war stuff. On a related note, who makes and where do you get some of your vehicles, i.e. the civilian vehicles, the BTR-152s and the trucks? Anyway, keep up the great work…….you run some good looking games and scenarios.

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  2. Hi Vince,

    “Happy Wanderer, I just wanted to tell you that I'm very impressed with this blog. You've done a great job on painting your miniatures, the battlefields look good and I enjoy the AARs even if I don't use those particular rules. I have been gaming for many years but only just got into collecting and gaming the Rhodesian Bush War a year-and-a-half ago. While I have already spent a ton of money on 28mm figures, models and reference books on the subject your AARs now have me looking at buying more figures to do early war stuff.”

    🙂

    The early war does often get overlooked. It is in some respects more suited to the Flying Lead sized action as many contacts were between groups pf 10-20 men. Larger actions can off course be played using Chain of Command which still pitches at little more than 30+ figures per side.

    “On a related note, who makes and where do you get some of your vehicles, i.e. the civilian vehicles, the BTR-152s and the trucks? “

    OK…here comes a mixed bag!

    The BTR40 comes from Eureka Miniatures who have a few made up from 3D printing. The models are a bit rough to be honest but they do the job, are available, and reasonably cheap (we’ve been waiting over a year for some planned BTR models to appear).

    The Trucks are die cast models I found in a hobby shop…god only know who makes them but they look the part…

    …and finally the civilian vehicles are rebadged East German models of the Trabant I picked up in Berlin at the Cold War museum!

    ..sorry, all pretty arcane places to get the cars..a bit like Rhodesia sanction busting actually!

    “Anyway, keep up the great work…….you run some good looking games and scenarios. “

    Thanks

    Regards

    Happy W

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  3. Happy W, Thanks for the info. I agree, I was so focused on the Bush War from about 1974 onwards that I completely overlooked gaming the earlier war. Your figures and scenario AARs changed all that. I will look for the BTR-40s (sorry, I had BTR-152s on my mind from recently reading about a later action) but let me help you out…..and I just passed this info to John W. Hopkins…..go to ebay and the Lobsterdiecast ebay store site and type in (in Search) “1/54” or “1/54 Norev”. The five different vehicles listed (Peugeot, Renault and Citroen) are ALL vehicles that were used in Rhodesia during the war and I even verified it by going to one of the Rhodesian websites. They ship from the UK and shipping is free. I put the Peugeot 404 next to a Eureka 28mm RLI figure and it looks great. I hope this helps you. Keep me in the loop. Vince

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  4. HW, On a side note, I have to admit I feel a little dumb since after reading your reply above and posting my reply did I think to check the other AAR of yours I had left comments on. Needless to say, I felt like a fool to realize you had replied to that one as well. Somehow, I missed it when I checked it some time back and thought my comments never got posted. Thanks for those comments as well. Vince

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