Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Molefe saves the day

We interrupt Seven Years War Imagi-Nation tales temporarily to bring you 1980's Cold War Africa....

The Ridiculusium mine at Bazinga in the Eastern province was always going to be a major bone of contention, sighed President-For-Life Mokele-Mbembe. Educated at Oxford (Poly), he took over the country in the 1960's Uhuru, and his grateful people had made him Leader for life, which was now being propped up by all sorts of modern medical miracles.

So long as the there was Ridiculusium so close to their border with the Communist supported Social Democratic People's Republic, there would be war and turmoil. And that meant requiring far more of an army than the President necessarily wanted. His view of an army was that it should be small, professional. and his posssession alone.

Mbembe had inherited the British colonial forces at Independence (mainly WW2 equipment plus a few Saladin armoured cars), and in the 1960's and 70's was still largely linked to Britain. But the British wanted to charge top whack for new equipment, so the only modernisation the army had in the 1970's was when he wangled some old ex Vietnam equipment after a speech at the UN where he and Kissinger got drunk one evening in Little Italy.

It was during the Scorpion Affair in 1980 when he realised that being a French client state got you more contract kickbacks and Foreign Aid, especially the sort provided by the Foreign Legion - very useful by then, as the Marxist rebel leader Emela-nTouka was causing much trouble in the Eastern provinces, funded from across the border.

One French language laboratory course and the switching of squirrelled family assets to France later, and the President and country became Francophone, much to the bemusement of the population, though the switching of beer from bitter to biere in the state shebeens was welcomed. The more tangible result was a shipload of old gear (quite a bit of it ex-US) that the French didn't need anymore.

 Aerial view of the Ridiculisium Mine at Bazinga, with the Regiment deployed. East is to the left

Fast forward to today, a clear blue late spring sky has dawned, and Private Molefe, a newly conscripted recruit of the Eastern Province Regiment, was sitting on his Toyota 4x4 pickupe cleaning his 106mm Recoilless rifle while his section, posted as vedettes, watched the East from their position among the old ruins of Zimwebab. The rest of his Regiment (well, more a battalion really) was posted around Bazinga town and the Ridiculusium mine, as there were rumours that Cuba Libre mercenaries had arrived and the Social Democratic People's Republic may mount an attack to seize it. So seriously were these warnings taken that the French Foreign legion and the President's First (and only) Mechanised Brigade was driving up that day to secure it.

A drone in the air, initially lost in the morning chorus of cicadas, became audible as the lookouts up on the ruined walls shouted down that they could see vehicles approaching along the road - from the wrong direction for the French. They tried to raise the HQ at the Mine, but clearly the lazy buggers were still getting breakfast.

 Tanks come pouring over the rise, Molefe and Co are holed up in the ruins (bottom left)

Within minutes, tracked vehicles were going past them on the main road, and Molefe gulped and aimed his weapon. A boom and whoosh was followed up by an immense bang! as the shot struck home and the leading vehicle went up in smoke.  At that point 2 other Technicals came hurtling round the ruins, shouting to get the hell out as "many, many tanks" had come over the rise. The sections kicked into gear - with an entire enemy tank battalion coming up their arses.- and the pickups bounced across the veld, aiming for a nearby kopje where another vedette section was posted

"Good Shooting, Lance Corporal Molefe" beamed the Lieutenant

Molefe's section was fired at from the pursuing tanks, who found it very difficult to hit the small bucking technicals as they bounced along, but it was clear that the angles were all wrong, so Molefe and Co stopped behind a useful donga and decided to give the enemies another shot to see if they would draw away. There was some superb shooting and Molefe's gun put a round into the HQ section, causing total confusion among the enemy units. Sadly, Molefe's section took hits as they exited and the other jeep was hit.

"Good shooting, Corporal Molefe" yelled the Lieutenant, "You are in charge of the section now" as they re-mounted their jeeps and ran for the mine before the enemy collected their wits again.

 Molefe's section shoot down 3 of the enemy scout section before trying to retreat over the veldt to the kopje (corner bottom right)

By this time the main enemy thrust had reached the town of Bazinga and were deploying their first wave as the inexperienced conscripts of the Eastern Province regiment fired AK-47's and RPG-7s wildly over their heads. Old Colonel Tembu, who had been trained at Sandhurst and Moscow, prepered to sell his life and that of his inexperienced troops as dearly as they could (before they ran), when suddenly boom! boom! boom! and the enemy first wave vehicles started to blow up. Tembu turned his glasses West, and there he saw large wheeled vehicles on the far side of the vlei moving rapidly forward, shooting as they went. The French had arrived! 

J'arrive - the big AMX 10 RC guns start blasting the enemy personnel carriers from across the vlei.

With the Legion now arriving at the mine, and the Spahi d'Afrique's AMX 10's big guns outranging those of the aged T-55 tanks of the Cuba Libre "mercenaries" that the enemy were using, they decided to retire as dusk fell. The Ridiculusium mine was still intact in State hands for now.

(First game using Fistful of Tows III - 450 pages of ruleset were quite daunting, but they worked well and played quickly once we got the hang of it - the differences of morale and equipment effectiveness gives nuance, but there is still room for the gods of fate - Sergeant Molefe's uncanny abiity to throw sixes, and the enemy's inability to hit the techinicals - to blunt the best of tactics, in this case one side of the enemy's pincer attack!)

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