Modern Wars (Malayan Emergency), Force on Force, 28mm
The thing about Force on Force games is that in often takes longer to put out the scenery than to play the game. This would have been the case here, except Colin Jack, Bill Gilchrist and I hadn’t played a game using Force on Force for quite a while, and none of us had re-read the rules before the game. Fortunately a couple of grognard Force on Force players were on hand to keep us right, but there was still an awful lot of rules-fumbling for a skirmish action that in real terms was fought out in less than ten minutes! The scenario was a simple besieged garrison one, with a plantation owner and his wife holed up in their bungalow, supported by four Malay police, while out there in the jungle lurked a fierce band of Malay Communists. Actually, there were two bands – one was busy attacking the bungalow, while the other group waited in ambush for the relief column – a squad of inexperienced British National Servicemen, and a squad of crack Ghurkhas.The game began well for the CTs (Communist Terrorists), as got the better of a gunfight with the defenders of the bungalow. In two turns all of the defenders were incapacitated, for the loss of one CT who was slightly wounded. One of the features of Force on Force is the need for other troops to check the status of casualties. They could be lightly wounded, seriously wounded or killed, but without troops on hand to check the fallen, then they just lay there. It made sense for the CTs to move into the bungalow and kill or capture the casualties, but events on the far side of the table intervened.The relief column appeared, and immediately split into two groups. The inexperienced British squad – guided by an Iban tracker – managed to detect the ambush, and a firefight soon developed between them and the CTs hiding out on the edge of the rubber plantation. Meanwhile the Gurkas ran hell-for-leather towards the bungalow, giving the CT ambushers as wide a berth as they could. In theory the CTs attacking the bungalow should have fired on them as they approached, but for some reason they couldn’t – or didn’t – and the Gurkas reached the safety of the brick-built building. Once there they checked the casualties. The plantation owner and his wife had been killed, along with one of the policemen, while the other three Malay police had a variety of light or serious wounds.Back on the far side of the rubber plantation the British were faring badly – taking three casualties in the firefight with the ambushing CT force. They pulled back to the cover of a cluster of native workers’ huts on the far edge of the table, leaving the CTs in possession of the battlefield. Back in the bungalow the Ghurkhas and the CTs engaged in their own brisk firefight, and again thanks to some terrible dice thrown by Colin Jack the Ghurkhas had the worst of the exchange, losing three casualties for the loss of one CT. Unfortunately for my CTs the Ghurkhas passed their ensuing morale test with flying colours, while my own CTs were pinned and went to ground. This allowed the Ghurkhas to slip away, carrying the bodies of the two British civilians, and their own dead and wounded. Only the body of one Malay policeman was left behind, as there wasn’t an unwounded Ghurka left to carry him.The game then ended in something of a minor Communist victory. They’d achieved their objective of killing the plantation owner and his wife, and had caused more casualties on the Ghurkhas and the British than they’d received. A complete CT victory was only averted by the bravery of the Ghurkhas, who at least managed to take the casualties away with them. Force on Force is a good little set of rules, but it has a lot of subtle caveats to remember, and if you don’t play them regularly then it can be a little daunting to remember everything you need to do. Colin and Bill thought that the next time they play a Malaya game, they might try Triumph & Tragedy, a set of rules they’ve used successfully for earlier periods. All the figures in the game came from Britannia Miniatures, who also made the bungalow, while the fine looking trees covering most of the 6×4′ table were supplied by Realistic Modelling Services.