Greetings to all, and Happy New Year! Today I want to introduce something special to the gaming community. As I have stated before in my bio as well as on the interwebs, I am a combat veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan (and newly retired, I may add).
In my time since then, I will be open in saying it’s been tough dealing with things from the war. Part of the way I’ve helped myself is by finding ways to relive that time healthily, and wargaming has provided me with an outlet for that. So, using Team Yankee, for the past few months I have worked on a mod for it to bring Counter-Insurgency (abbreviated as COIN) warfare to the tabletop. Now it is complete and I wish to share it with the community.
NOTE: This is still a variant of Team Yankee, and Team Yankee is the creative property of Battlefront Miniatures. I only modified it in certain ways, and they retain all rights to their creative and intellectual property.
Why Play COIN?
For the past 40+ years, most warfare has not been of the conventional types. Excepting the anomaly of Operation Desert Storm in 1991, most conflicts have been what has been termed “low intensity”, “police actions”, “peacekeeping operations”, and on. Even Operation Iraqi Freedom, which started as a conventional war, is more thought of now as a COIN conflict that greatly eclipsed the conventional portion. Bottom line, most warfare of recent memory has been of this type.
COIN conflicts are not fought like conventional conflicts. There is no real front line, the enemy is shadowy, and political considerations are as much a part of it as the military ones. Victory cannot be won by sheer force of arms alone, and heavy assets like artillery, armor, and air power can prove as much a liability as an asset. I sought to give gamers a taste of this, to have them rethink tactics and strategies that while successful in a conventional fight can hinder them in the COIN arena.
What Is Different About COIN from regular Team Yankee?
One thing out of the gate that I wanted to set COIN apart from TY is do away with reliance on armor. COIN combat is won by boots on the ground, lowly infantry platoons working amongst the populace and not by massed tanks. Frankly speaking, tanks in a COIN urban environment are very much a liability. Therefore COIN is very much an infantry centric game, and formations on both sides are built around infantry units.
What armor there is are your light to medium armored vehicles (Uparmored Humvees, MRAPs, Strykers, etc) that can actually operate better in a COIN environment. What tanks you do get are either really expensive in points for one or two, or five for cheaper but nowhere near as strong. Also, artillery and aircraft (excepting helicopters) have been moved off table. Let’s be honest, artillery is going to be nowhere near the front where tanks can engage them turn 1. So, they are off table.
Another change is the forces types. On the one hand, you have highly skilled COIN forces with high tech equipment and firepower. They will always outgun the insurgents. On the other hand, the insurgents are very motivated and can use a lot of tricks to hinder COIN forces and give them issues. The biggest dynamic here is tactics; how you play the forces. I did my best within the framework to make it so that players had to really think about their actions because “normal” tactics can cost you in COIN. So, before I go into my first game, here are some highlights of what is different from normal Team Yankee
- COIN is played on a 4×4, terrain dense table
- Points are capped at 75
- Artillery and Strike Aircraft off table
- Special Ops forces are in.
- COIN has 6 unique missions included
- Insurgents use some rules lifted from ‘Nam
- Insurgents can theoretically win without taking an objective or fully breaking the enemy force.
50 Point COIN Battle: Fedayeen Saddam vs US Marines
I was very much eager to try out the rules on the table, and my good friend agreed to a game at 50 points. I selected the Fedayeen Saddam, a paramilitary force that resisted the US and British forces in the 2003 invasion, while he went with US Marines. The lists:
Fedayeen Saddam (52pts)
- 1x Fedayeen HQ w/ 5 Victim Operated IEDs (6pts)
- 2x Fedayeen Groups each with 10 AK Teams( 2 having RKG-3 AT Grenades), 5 RPG teams, and 2 PKM Teams (20 pts)
- 6x Technical Jeeps w/105mm Recoiless (9 pts)
- 5x T-72 (Special Republican Guard) (13 pts)
- 1x Sniper Team (4 pts)
US Marines (49 pts)
- 1x US Marine HQ (1 point)
- 2x Marine Platoons each with 9 M249/AT4 Teams, 1 60mm Mortar, 2 SMAW, 2 FGM-148 Javelin, and 2 AAV7 (30 pts)
- 4x LAV-25A2 (4 pts)
- 6x Humvee-M2 (6 pts)
- 2x Humvee-TOW (2pts)
- 1x Sniper Team w/ M107 .50cal Rifle (5 pts)
We chose the mission Presence Patrol, which is somewhat the COIN equivalent to Annihilation. My opponent deployed on his side, having one Marine platoon and his 50 cal humvees in Reserve, while I deployed using Guerilla Warfare deployment, rolling 4 and deploying on Fedayeen group in the top-right table edge, 12″ away from his LAVs. I had the T-72s in reserve, as well as my Technicals, with the other Fedayeen unit in ambush.
On turn 1, the Marines had the first turn and played cautiously. He engaged my Fedayeen platoon with the LAVs, but only killed one AK team. On my turn, I fell most of the Fedayeen unit back towards the mosque and let the RPG teams stay and engage the LAVs. 5 Shots produced 1 dead LAV and one bailed. However, on his turn, my opponent wiped out the RPGs and started to push forward, also moving his AAVs to try to trap the Fedayeen in a vice. His sniper, firing a .50 cal, destroyed one team and pinned them.
On my turn 2, I decided to deploy my first IED, putting it under his marine platoon. He failed the skill check to detect/disarm it and lost a team while the unit was also pinned. This would give my opponent fits as I would throw several at him, pinning him down for 2 turns and destroying two teams. Victim Operated IEDs aren’t particularly lethal, more like a nuisance to pin units. However, this bodes well for the ones that are more damaging. My opponent continued to roll my forces back though, and I would seek to make my stand in the mosque (how very insurgent of me…..)
I would receive reserves in the form of the T-72s and promptly destroyed the two AAVs in the road. I would swing the T72s out to the left, keeping away from his Javelins while destroying his TOW Humvees. My opponent, feeling a bit frustrated with the insurgent antics (I know that feeling VERY well), decided to start hemming in my platoon in the mosque. I would pop my ambush to counter, and a brisk firefight erupted.
While the Marine platoon took 50% casualties in the fight, his second platoon manoeuvred and in an assault seized the mosque. My fedayeen attempted to counter-attack, but the Marines proved too strong. My force would break on the following turn. 8-1 win to the Marines (7-2 if using my rule Insurgent Propaganda Victory, covered in the rulebook)
The game proved enjoyable and validated the concepts I put into COIN. It is a fairly easy mod that those familiar with TY can quickly adapt to play.
I hope the community enjoys it, and I am offering it for free for download on Facebook and here. I am also creating a FB group where players can ask for clarifications, and also offer suggestions for future work. If this takes off I plan to do more force books for it, so I hope it does! Enjoy!