Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Jersey Shore Battle Games

The rules

The Jersey Shore Battle Games, also called Sandy Hook Battle Games, by the late Thor Sheil, with whom I kept in contact and exchanged wargaming ideas with, was actually the very first (free) wargame-rules I ever read (but not played before now), and therefore a naturally starting point for these following play-through blogg-posts. 

The rules can be found for free on Thor Sheil's restored webpages with both the basic rules and the period appendix'. I've chosen the Operation Sandtrap with the Advanced Rules for this game.

The scenario

I've placed this skirmish to the United Nations largest mission in both scale and operational scope during the Congo Crisis 1960-65, when UN troops 'peacekeeping' was more offensive 'peace enforcement' with force.

Situation:
This skirmish is finding place in fictional place of Lumbaya in the early January of 1963, when the UN during operation 'Grand Slam' are turning their attention to the remaining Katangese strongholds in Southern Katanga after after securing the Katangese capitol of √Člisabethville.

Place:
Lumbaya is a very small village located 80km south west of √Člisabethville, and are made into a stronghold by a small platoon of Katangese Gendarmes. The village is one of several strongholds in the area to trying to hold the UN off while trying to keep the self-proclaimed president Tshombe by power of the self-proclaimed Katanga state.

Forces:
  • Katangese:
    • 2 rifle-squads each of 10 soldiers, a LMG and and a bazooka/flame thrower. Each squad can operate as 2 fireteams independently. 
    • 1 HMG-detachment of 3 soldiers
    • 1 sniper
    • HQ-section with platoon-leader and 2 medics
    • After turn 12: A QRF consisting of 1 truck with a HMG and a section of 10 'veterans' armed with assault rifels, a LMG and a bazooka arrives from the next village. Only if Lumbaya is still held by Katangese forces.
  • UN:
    • 1 Platoon of 3 rifle-squads each of 8 soldiers and a LMG. The squads can operate independently.
    • 1 Light mortar-detachment of  2 soldiers and an observer
    • 1 bazooka-detachment of 3 soldiers
    • HQ-section with platoon-leader
    • 1 Jeep with HMG and 2 soldiers. 
Mission:
  • Katangese: To hold the strongpoint of Lumbaya. Can request QRF-support as mentioned in the force-section from turn 12 if still holding whole or part of the strongpoint.
  • UN: To take and hold the strongpoint of Lumbya, preferably within 12 turns, and take control on as many Katangese gendarms located there as possible.

AAR

Time to play:    1.5 hours
Turns:                7 (so I wasn't able to bring in the Katangese QRF)
Result:               UN withdrawal 

The UN forces advanced on 3 axis supported by a light mortar and a vehicle mounted HMG. When hitting contact with a Katangese HMG on a nearby rooftop, almost all the UN forces got pinned, and they lost their Jeep with their support weapon. With 10 shots each turn, I think both HMGs and LMGs potentially causes too much damage each turn. One burst can take out a whole squad. The attack carried on, supported only by the UN light mortar, but it didn't hit one single time.

The UN troops advanced slowly through the dence vegatation
But in Lumbaya they're ready and awaiting the UN attack. The Catangese HMG is located on the roof in the background, and the HMG is going to take out a great number of UN troops and their supports before being taken out them selves.

First the gunner was sniped down, and later the Catangese HMG finished off the whole vehicle
So the only support-weapon left for the UN was their light Morter-team.
...But they did'nt hit much.
When reaching the outskirts of Lumbaya The UN forces had lost so many troops that according to the advanced rules, the UN had to withdraw. They wouldn't have any chance to take Lumbaya and the remaining Katangese Gendarmerie there.

Pros

  • It's simple and can be played with easily available and cheap army men or toy soldiers from a lot of different periods.
  • Have rules for consequences of mortar, grenades and bombs not hitting their target, as they are going to hit something else instead.
  • Rules for morale.
  • Rules for concealed units and movement.
  • Have more rules on the website for covering other periods

Cons

  • Since you have to roll 2 dice for every shot to determine hits, and there are a greater number of shots for different automatic weapons and at the same time suggested about 30 soldiers for each side, I think it's going to be a lot of dice-rolling. I would actually consider to play this with a D12 dice instead.
  • Even with the advanced rules, there are no rules for using sniper rifles. Since the rules encourages adaptions, I used the same rules as for Infantry rifles; 1 shoot needing a 7 or better to hit, but can throw dice 3 times into the same target and choosing the best of them and giving it a Range 2.
  • Infantry movement is not actually mentioned in the 'Sandpit-rules', so I had to use same rules but  the 'Showdown Wild West' for reference. Infantry movement is a Range 1, which is 12" in this scale.
  • I think the hand-to-hand combat rules seems unclear. Now I didn't get to get close enough to engage my troops in any hand-to-hand-combat, but it it seems like there is no dice-rolling or anything. Just outnumbering.
  • I miss an easy and quick reference board/table in the rules. Now I had jo do a lot of rereading when battling. 

Conclusion

I think the cons outnumber the pros in this game as written. But it surely have some nice aspects other rules doesn't have. Besides Thor wrote on his pages that the rules were to serve as a basis on which to develop your own particular games. He encourages that you can add your own special conditions, such as morale, command, specific attributes for certain weapons, etc. Because as he said; "The rules may be mine, but the game is yours and thus should reflect what you consider essential".

I'm a great fan of Thor Sheil, and have a lot of respect for him, and I'm very glad I took the time to play one of his games.


Please follow this blog for more AAR on free wargame-rules to come...



In Memoriam Thor Sheil
Thank you for your service






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