The Battle of Cassinga took place on 4th May 1978 during the South African Border War. The battle involved South African forces raiding a suspected SWAPO base at Cassinga, Angola, and, covered in the game below, the intervention of a Cuban armoured force operating out of the nearby Techamutete village.

Mark Kinsey and Jon Yuengling re-fought the battle at Fall-In, 2013, using a combination of I Ain't Been Shot, Mum! and B'Masao.

The Play Test

Jon and I gathered at Dragonhead Distributors in Allentown, PA today to knock the dust off our Too Fat Lardy knowledge and playtest the Cassinga game before next weekend at Fall In.

I like to head to a convention with a setup photo in hand and have the terrain packed away from the playtest (or at least from a setup in my basement). Really cuts down on the guessing.

In the end it didn't look as awesome as the image in my head, but I think it can be improved upon with a little more effort. I'd like to add in the dirt trails and a few other things, but we were pressed for time and took far too long to set this up. We used a 6' x 10' setup and the buildings, trees and trenches I have got were a little swallowed up by the massiveness of the board..

Here the anti-tank platoon is arrayed in a stop line to slow down the advancing Cubans coming from the near board edge.

We recruited a passerby named Michael and inducted him into Lardy gaming. The Cubans lead with their recon element, followed by their tank platoon of T-34's.

After several turns of fighting and shots from the anti-tank platoon RPG's and Mirage III's and a Buccaneer firing AP rockets the anti-tank platoon is completely immobilized on the road. Two T-34's have been KOd' and others damaged. This has created a traffic jam that has slowed the advance of the other Cuban platoons.

The anti-tank platoon receives orders to withdraw to LZ Rennex as the Buccaneer attacks the column again.

When we ended the game two of the three platoons from Company C had managed to depart from LZ Rennex, but the anti-tank platoon was being very hotly pursued by a Cuban Mechanized Platoon in BTR-152's. 

So what did we learn? We overused the hesitant commander card for the Cubans and they did not get their entire force on the table. Also the air support while effective did not KO as many vehicles as I would expect. I think both of these should be easy tweaks and then the battle will rage farther across the table and create even more tension for both sides.

 
 
This is the south end of the battlefield looking up towards the center of the town and LZ Rennex at the top right.

This is the south end of the battlefield looking up towards the center of the town and LZ Rennex at the top right.

Fall In 2013

The airborne landing and assault on the SWAPO camp at Cassinga, Angola by South African Paras has been a success, but now it must be saved from disaster! A Cuban Armoured column of T-34/85's and BTR-152's is grinding up the road from Techamutete. Can the South African Anti-Tank Platoon hold them off long enough for their unit to exfiltrate by helicopter from LZ Rennex?

This year I only went to Fall In for one day and really only to run my one big game and socialize. It was scheduled for 1 - 5 pm on Saturday and we used all of our time and a little bit more. We set up at 11:30am and were done by 12:30pm, so I had some time to get a breather before the game. Parking was at capacity when I arrived at 9:30am, so the day involved a bit of walking back and forth to the car in the far parking lot.

Below is a view with the walled Cemetery on the bottom left, and LZ Rennex at the dice pile. The Cubans enter from the top left. The South Africans have a small Anti-tank platoon and support from 2 Mirage III CZ's and a Blackburn Buccaneer. They must leave the battlefield by Helicopter from LZ Rennex with C Company (3 platoons) and the AT platoon intact. Rules were "I Ain't Been Shot Mum" (version 3) with modifications from the B'Maso ruleset from Too Fat Lardies.

The Game

Both the Buccaneer and Mirages get involved early, taking out the Cuban Recon Platoon. Here the Buccaneer misses the Cuban BTR-152 column.

An AT team has been discovered in the building just up the road. The Cuban player is on the left and South African on the far right with Jon in the middle. What is that set of Blinds moving up the trail to the left?

One of the C Company platoons of the South African paras has deployed off blind and is trying to set up a defensive line against any Cuban infantry on the south end of the clearing.

The Cuban Tank platoon of T-34-85's has finally been spotted on the eastern trail. There is no movement bonus on the trail, but the Cubans are using it anyway. A lucky RPG shot from an AT team in the trench line takes out the lead tank.

The Buccaneer is back to finish the job on the BTR-152 Platoon. Elsewhere, two of the three Paratroop platoons have left by helicopter on the north end of the battlefield. A SWAPO sniper in the walled cemetery is killed after firing several rounds at the South African Forward Observer. The third platoon is trying to make it's way back to the Landing Zone but is impeded by Cuban Mortar fire.

The remaining four tanks of the tank platoon move up the trail to the clearing. Through a combination of RPG fire and Air Support one has its main gun taken out, another immobilized, one has a -4 to move, and the other is KO'd. But before this happens they manage to get several shots on the helicopters which have landed nearby (without driving them off). Over on the main road a platoon of Trucks towing the Anti-Aircraft guns is badly mauled by the last run of the Mirages before they have to go back to base. The Cuban Big Man in his GAZ69 jeep is narrowly missed. The AT teams have almost run out of RPG ammo and are in full retreat.

They turn their attention on the fleeing platoon instead, pinning it in the open. Another BTR-152 platoon reaches the clearing and adds their fire to the mix. Back over on the main road, a different BTR-152 platoon has bumbled into the minefield the South Africans have placed on the road just north of the first house.

The LZ is in chaos now, with what few teams that are not pinned or under shock attempting to board helicopters.

In the confusion the embarkation officer boards the helicopters early! Each of my three Puma helicopters represents a group of helicopters that can carry a platoon of men. Van Zyl the embarkation officer has to get off the helicopter to encourage a group of 14 men aboard (it is his special skill in the scenario).

Air support has not come in for two turns and the Para platoons casualties continue to increase. The Cuban MG platoon sets up in the adjacent tree line near the "camp followers" area of Cassinga and opens fire, again crippling the platoon. They are rewarded for their effort with a round of better late than never rockets from the Buccaneer which takes out two of the trucks and injures one of the MG teams.

The South African Level III Big Man Colonel Jan Breytenbach removes two shock from a South African Para Section and then boards a helicopter. 

As the helicopters lift off, they leave behind 12 dead and 25 men who are forced to surrender to the Cubans. As a result the Cubans are awarded a Major political victory. A minor strategic victory goes to the South Africans from the excessive amount of damage that they inflicted on the Cubans. In the end there wasn't a single Cuban platoon that hadn't taken extensive losses. But this is a hollow achievement. The South Africans were not here to fight the Cubans, only SWAPO, and that goal had been accomplished before this scenario even began. Their only goal here was to leave with as few casualties as possible.

Jon declared it the best game we've ever run. We had a lot of people stopping by to watch the game and three people watched the entire dramatic final hour of the game. My only minor disappointment is that I had my camera on the wrong settings so they turned out a bit grainy. Still it was a very exciting fast moving game that came to a dramatic conclusion at the end, everything I was hoping for.

Mark Kinsey