Thursday, November 29, 2012

AK 47 Test Battle

This past Saturday (11/24). I managed to get in some gaming with my friend Will over at his house. Since we had a 40K game the last time we got together, it was my turn to pick. I opted for a microarmor game using AK 47 Republic, first edition. I have to say, IT WAS FUN!

Since time is always limited, we skipped the pre-game stuff. I made up a scenario where French Foreign Legion paratroopers serving in some client state were ordered to go in and clear an area of rebels. Once cleared, the local government troops were then to occupy various villages. Will took some pictures early on in the game, but we got so involved we forgot to take more!

French Foreign Legion Paratroopers (FFL) (Professional)
9 stands of infantry each in an VAB APC
2 stands of 81mm mortars with a VAB APC
1 stand of snipers with a VAB APC
3 AMX 10 RC Armored cars
3 Experimental combat walkers

Local Government Troops (Regulars)
9 stands of infantry each in a truck
1 heavy machine gun stand with truck
1 Recoilless rifle stand with truck

Rebel Scum (Militia)
12 stands of infantry
1 HQ stand
1 81mm mortar stand
3 heavy machine gun stands
2 stands of recoilless rifles
4 T-34/85 tanks
3 recoilless rifles mounted on trucks
2 AA guns mounted on trucks
4 heavy machine guns mounted on trucks
Various pickups and larger trucks to be used for transportation

Foreign Advisors to Rebels (Professionals)
4 stands of infantry each in a RG-32 Scout light vehicle

CNN News Crew
 1 reporter + camera crew in a hired pickup truck.

Rule Modifications
My microarmor is not based according to AK 47 rules. Additionally, Will and I sort of thought some of the rules didn't make sense. Will served as a scout in an armored battalion in the US Army, so he has good insight on things. We made some slight rule modifications, but with one exception, nothing major:

1. Each infantry is stand assumed to have a RPG. Three of the FFL stands were armed with a Milan ATGM. Since there are no rules for ATGMs in AK 47, we said they were recoilless rifles with the range of a towed gun.

2. We found the rule that allows three infantry stands to be transported by a single vehicle to be a little silly, so it was a one-for-one match up of stands with transports. Technicals armed with a weapon of any kind, even just a machine gun could not transport troops.

2. One of every three VAB APCs has a 20mm gun, rather than a machine gun. We counted those as AA guns for combat purposes.

3. Each RG-32 Scout was armed with a machine gun

4. The experimental combat walkers (ECW) were considered armored cars with modern tank guns.

5. We had some conceptual problems with the terrain template rules, especially regarding towns and villages. Our understanding of the rules is that no vehicles can enter a template. Additionally, infantry seemed to be totally protected from heavy weapons of any kind unless they are right at the edge of the template. This brought up a number of questions. What if a road goes through a forest, or through a town? Do you make blocks of buildings in a larger town separate terrain templates? How does it work if you have a single building If you notice, we didn't have roads. So shoot me, I have not made any yet! We decided that vehicles should be able to move and fight in towns with a penalty. 

6. We didn't enforce the 3 stands per unit rule. We allowed all heavy weapon stands and the FFL sniper stand operate independently. We also allowed all technicals on the rebel side to be separate entities. 

7. Speaking of which, the FFL sniper stand was considered small arms, but had the range of a heavy machine gun.  It didn't have collateral damage, either.

7. For movement and range, we used centimeters rather than inches.  

We set up the terrain according to the AK 47 rules. What resulted was what you see in the picture below. In addition to the various villages we had an airport, shown lower left corner of the photo, and a oil refinery/chemical plant (your pick) in the upper right hand corner. Old 5-hour energy drink bottles make nice cracking towers.

Will took the FFL side and I was the rebels. We decided to ignore the late arrivals rule, more to speed up the game than anything else. We diced to see who would set up. The rebels lost the roll. The rebel commander didn't think he had enough units to cover everything, so he concentrated his forces on the main town and villages which were more in the center of the table, and ignored the airport and the chemical plant. The rebel tanks were held in reserve. The French divided their forces into three sectors. The core of each sector was a unit of FFL armored infantry (3 infantry stands in three APCs). The armored units (armored cars and ECWs) supported the center. The local government troops accompanied the left flank (near the chemical plant), and the mortar and sniper units supported the French right flank (near the airport).

Board set up.

View of the airport. Yes, that is an airport.

The game stared off rather slowly. The rebels sat and waited for the enemy to move up. Movement rolls were not in the FFL's favor. A roll of 1 x 3 = not getting very far! At one point, it seems like the local troops were having second thoughts about the operation. Although they were in trucks, they were moving at a speed of 3 cm. The rebels took advantage of this. Once the left flank got close enough, the rebels located at and near the small village opened fire . The French responded with the weapons on thier APCs. These rolls seemed to be in the French's favor. The FFL knocked off a number of rebel stands. However, a brave AA technical managed to take out an APC (troops didn't survive) and suppressed several more. The CNN news team, made a beeline to the forest were they got stuck for several turns before moving to its edge to report on the action.

Approximately turn 4 of the battle. Sadly, last picture we took of the actual battle.
Slightly closer view of the combat walkers.
Meanwhile, the FFL mortar team and snipers occupied a hill across from a hill with the rebel HQ and mortar on it. What followed was an exchange of mortar fire. Like the right flank, the FFL seemed to have a lot of driving issues. The airport runway was the only actual road in the game, and yet, their APCs seemed be be driving by little old ladies on their way to the beauty salon.

In the center, the FFL armored units really took their toll on the rebels that held the main town. Even with the firing penalties they managed to put the hurt on.  Their slow movement was the only thing that was keeping the FFL center in check. The rebels managed to knock out one of the AMX-10s with a recoilless rifle.

As the battle wore on, things started to look bad for the rebels. The professional combat bonuses worked in the French's favor. They knock out the rebel mortar and then started hitting other targets. On their right side, attrition was taking their toll on the rebels in the small village. A bad morale roll send their remainder scurrying. All that was left was the heroic AA technical. Exposed to enemy fire, he kept managing to suppress the French and their lackeys thanks to collateral damage, until finally, he bit the dust.  On the airport side, the FFL finally kicked their APCs into high gear and took off down the runway with plans to make an end-run around the rebels.  In the center, French units were just at the gates of the town.

Then two things happened. First, the rebel T-34s showed up and started firing at the French. Even though they had crappy guns, they were enough to suppress the ECWs. Along with them, the foreign advisors, who were originally headed to the small village near the chemical plant decided to go to the main town. The second thing happened when the remaining French armored cars started mixing it up with the tanks....they rolled doubles! And not high doubles either. High doubles, good; low doubles BAD! The first one was a low ammo penalty, the second was a movement penalty, both on the same turn...ouch! These penalties affect all members of the unit. That meant that the armored cars were vulnerable on the next turn. Not only were there the rebel tanks to contend with, but the infantry in the town were close enough to use their RPGs. Although the FFL still had their armored infantry, there seemed to be hope for the rebels.

Sadly, my phone rang. Prior to getting to Will's house, I stopped at the Super Walmart for a grocery run. My orders were to buy ground pork for chinese dumplings. The wife was wondering when I would be finishing up because they were waiting on the pork. That translated into time to come home.

We will never know how things would play out. It seems like this often happens whenever I have a game. We reach the exciting peak of battle and then its called due to time.

Thoughts About the Rules
As I said in the beginning, I really enjoyed the game. More so than I expected. I've been rather hesitant about using these rules, particularly for my fictional campaign. They seemed a little too generic for my tastes. Once we got into the game, the differences between one type of tank and another did not seem all that important. The rules remind me a little of DBA in that respect. Knights are knights, be it actual knights in shiny armor or heavy cataphracts. This bears out in a number of blogs and websites that have AK 47 AARs. I've seen vehicles ranging from WWI tanks to flying saucers all battling it out in a single game.

The next time we play, we will try to stick more closely to the rules with regards to terrain templates. Thinking about it, the restrictions on vehicle weapons force players to use their infantry to take objectives like towns. Will never bothered offloading his infantry because his other weapons could fire into the towns and villages. It might have been an interesting situation if his infantry were forced to disembark in order to take and secure the towns.

Along with that, we were pretty liberal in terms of what constitutes a heavy machine gun.  We counted all of the French APCs as having heavy machine guns when in reality they are really only armed with light machine guns. If we didn't count the light machine guns, i.e. the APCs are considered unarmed, infantry would get the protection afforded to them by the APCs, but would have to disembark in order to fight.

Centimeters seems a little too short for distances, especially for movement. I might go with 1.5 cm and make my own measuring sticks. That makes it a little over a half inch, which might be a good compromise. 

Last, while setting up the game, the terrain-making wheels in my head quickly began projects!  I will definitely make an airport or two; one more urban, the other a remote airstrip. A chemical plant/oil refinery will also be in the works. A plantation house is also needed. Will placed the lone white building on top of the hill in the first picture and called it the! Finally, I need to get going on some roads.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pork Fried Rice

I am working on a AAR on a AK-47 game I played this past Saturday with Will. He took some pictures, but I am waiting on them before I finish the report. So, as filler, I present to you my recipe for fried rice.

This ain't the stuff you get at Chinese restaurants, this is the real deal. The secret is that there really isn't any set recipe. Chinese rice is an excuse to use up left-overs, however, here is my prototype recipe. It must be OK, because my wife and mother-n-law, both Chinese, think its pretty good:


• At least two cups of cooked rice, preferably Chinese rice. Needs to be
  about a day old; cold, or at room temperature.

• Cooking or light olive oil*

• 1 pork chop or thick slice of ham, diced.

• 3 green onions, diced.

• 1 carrot, diced.

• 1 zucchini, cubed

• 1/2 cup frozen peas

• 3 eggs, well beaten

• soy sauce*

• Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry*

• Ginger root, 3 thin slices, finely chopped (can substitute ginger powder)

• 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

• Coarsely ground black pepper

• Red pepper flakes (optional)

*Sorry folks, I never measure these ingredients. I just pour them in until it seems right, but if you must know, about 1 to 2 tablespoons for the soy sauce and sherry.

How to prepare:
First, heat your wok or a deep-lipped frying pan on medium-high and and then add oil, at least 2 tablespoons. While the oil is heating up CAREFULLY swish it around the sides of the wok/pan to coat the sides. Pour in the beaten eggs, but do not mix it in the pan. What you are making is sort of an omelet or egg crepe. When it looks fairly solid, carefully flip it over to the other side briefly and then turn it out onto a plate.

If there is egg stuff still in your wok, clean it out with a paper towel (try not to burn yourself in the process). Egg protein has the nasty habit of sticking to things and messes up anything else you stir fry if its still in the wok. Add more oil, but not as much as for the egg, 2-3 teaspoons is probably enough. When the oil is hot add your ginger, garlic, and pepper flakes. Be careful not to over fry the garlic. Some people don't like its taste. What you are doing is flavoring the oil.

Next add your pork or ham and green onion. If you have time, you can marinade the pork in cooking wine and soy sauce for about an hour. You will have to cook the raw pork longer than the ham. From the time I add the garlic and ginger, I am constantly stirring things with a wooden spatula or wooden spoon.

Once the meat is done, add a little more oil and add in first the carrots, then the zucchini. To speed things up, I often boil the carrots for a few minutes in a small pot of water before I add it to the wok.

Once the zucchini starts to look tender, then add your soy sauce and sherry. I then add the frozen peas. Once the peas looked cooked, then I add the rice. Your rice will be all clumped together, especially if its Chinese short-grained rice, so you need to chop up your rice before you add it to the wok. Again, keep stirring everything. If you hear some sizzling at the bottom of the wok that is your rice getting toasted and crunchy. If you don't like that, you need to make sure you keep turning over everything. You'll know the rice is cooking when it seems to be softening and looks sort of shiny. If it looks too dry, you can add a small amount of water or chicken stock to it, but be careful not to turn it all into a big, soggy mush.

Finally, chop up the egg into coarse pieces on the plate and carefully fold it into your rice mixture. You want to avoid disintegrating it in the mixture. It is now ready to serve.

If you want your fried rice to look more like what you get at a Chinese restaurant, take two more eggs, beat them and pour the mixture over the rice while quickly stirring the rice. The egg will coat the rice and cook onto it.  I am not sure if that is how they do it at Chinese restaurants, but it seems to  give the desired effect.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Delta Vector's Review of FFT3

For awhile, I've been tempted to write up a review of the latest edition of Fist Full of TOWS, but  this review is spot on! Very thorough and goes though every aspect of the rules. My only comment would be that he didn't compare the third edition to the previous version, but it sounds like reviewer never had the full blown previous edition. Check it out on the Delta Vector blog.

Progressing Along

 Having more-or-less chosen Fist Full of TOWs 3rd Edition as the rules to fight my fictional 2nd Chalupastan War, I wanted to make my life and/or an opposing player's life easier when playing the game. I am in the process of making stat cards for easy reference. Its been a slow process, but I am close to done for at least the first battle. Here is a sample of a FFT3 stat card:

 I am printing these out and gluing them onto index cards. I thought about using a photo of the miniature for each card, but its being printed out on a B & W laser printer. I use a few photos for vehicles that I can't find profiles for, but I don't feel like taking a lot of pictures just for these cards (more like I don't have the time).

In other news, I have had almost no time to do much painting or terrain construction. I started working on a 1/300 scale outdoor market, but lately, my mother-in-law has been going to bed earlier than usual, so I have no access to my workbench.  Also, I've got a whole mess of South African Mambas that are awaiting to be primed and painted. I am counting on Thanksgiving break to get more done.