To mark Dan A's return from the Army, Rich Uncle Pat ran a Rock the Casbah game at his place. The scenario was an Israeli penetration into a PLO controlled area in Lebanon. Each side had specific, and potentially asymmetric, objectives as well as very different forces and capabilities. This promised to be an interesting game.
A couple of notes on the next section: at times you will see troops (or a Blind) standing on top of a building with a small brown die next to them. This is because some of the buildings do not have internal floors (yet) and the die indicates which floor the troops occupy. Having tried off-table book-keeping of hidden troop locations I can tell you this is a much quicker and more elegant, method. Also some of the PLO assets were in buildings and on Blinds, this creates a "double-Blind" situation where even the Blind is removed, effectively making the troops invisible.
We join the game as the IDF Blinds come onto the table. For those not familiar with Two Fat Lardies rules, units are represented on the game table by "blinds" - a sort of generic marker - until an enemy unit identifies them by use of the spotting rules. This helps avoid the "thousand-meter tall general" situation that plagues many rules.
For the PLO players this is often the worst part, not knowing if it is a Jeep or a Merkava until you force the Blind to reveal, often with disastrous results for the unit forcing the reveal . For the IDF it is worse, you know you are a sitting duck but can doing nothing about it but move forward, scanning every window, hoping to spot enemy activity...
IDF and PLO blinds play hide-and-seek around the Hospital complex.
Meanwhile a large force rumbles up the main highway into town.
Clearly the IDF have gone with the direct approach with five units moving straight toward the center of town.
Some frantic spotting by hidden PLO units reveal the bad news: a Merkava in the lead, with a Vulcan mini-gun armed M-163 in attendance. Other IDF units escape detection and move into the parking structure and the Hospital administrative building.
Meanwhile the UAV scrutinized the PLO blind at the barricade and found it to be a rumour.
The PLO players learned to hate that little plane by the end of the day.
The IDF armor advances while the as-yet unidentified Blinds move further into the buildings.
The view from the PLO end of the table. Things are going OK so far.
The IDF are heading straight at the tank-proof barricade with their tanks.
Just as the IDF Blind gained the rooftop, the PLO got some fire-support from its mortar teams, firing on a pre-registered spot in the intersection. This fire did little to slow the IDF advance.
The Nagmashot (that giant Centurion-conversion APC right under the shelling) advanced through the fire without giving it a thought.
And the drone droned on, spotting Blind after Blind.
Like those PLO guys on the third floor of the high-rise. Being the only known target, they rapidly received the attentions of every available IDF unit.
Like the M163 Vulcan.
I REALLY started to hate the drone, not because it was so terribly effective, but largely because there was NOTHING we could do about it, and nowhere to hide.
Even clear across the table the PLO were being spotted. They were reduced to furtive dashes between buildings.
The Merkava advanced, ignoring the PLO above...while the M163 paused and gave them a blast of mini-gun fire.
"Taking a hit for the team" got new meaning that day, but the PLO troops gamely stood their ground to return fire.
This turned into a deadly-earnest, but horribly lopsided, firefight between the M163 and the PLO RPG team until a lucky RPG hit forced the M163 to retire.
Meanwhile the still unidentified IDF unit had cleared the Admin Building and prepared to move next-door.
The Merkava's arrogance was punished by a storm of RPG fire which damaged it and wounded a crew member.
The PLO team that forced the M163 to hide behind the Admin Building gets their first look at the Killdozer (right next to the orange "Engaged" markers) which had been forced to reveal from Blinds by their proximity.
What dangers await here?
The Nagmashot contemplates a dash through the Old Town.
Things were getting serious now. The PLO had managed to reveal most of the IDF Blinds at small cost to themselves. The problem was this: what did they have that could slow down the IDF advance?
From the Israeli point of view, their advance had been slowed and they had not yet located the main body of the enemy forces.
The Killdozer Rules All!
The situation thus far.
The IDF is making a major road-clearing incursion into a PLO held area, the PLO has been tasked with delaying the intruders long enough for reinforcements to arrive and counterattack. Both sides are sure that they don't have enough combat capability for the job, this means the GM had designed a near-perfect scenario.
From the PLO end of the street, the damaged Merkava was a heart-warming sight.
At this point the AAA gun opened fire on the IDF troops in the Hospital Admin building from far across the park
This drew the attention of the wounded, but still very deadly, Merkava
At the same time, the M163 and the Nagmashot engaged the PLO unit that had fired upon the Merkava, with deadly results.
The Merkava found it's target and hit home with significant damage
But the battered and bloodied PLO unit fired again at the Merkava, this time doing the seemingly impossible by knocking it out!
I must pause at this moment to reflect on the remarkable luck the PLO had with morale checks during this game. At times it seemed that I was commanding units of Spartans rather than some ill-trained and badly disciplined rabble; such is the luck of the dice I guess.
The IDF blinds in the car-park were forced to reveal once they gained the rooftop. They were promptly (foolishly?) engaged by a PLO unit in the opposite building. This turned into another lop-sided firefight: notice the stack of "wound" markers behind the PLO unit.
The Killdozer, actually a modified CAT D9, having survived a couple of RPG already, moves forward and clears the barricade.
The Merkava crew gamely attempted to re-enter the burning tank to put out the fire and rescue their wounded comrade...but were taken under fire by a sniper.
The firefight back at the intersection continued to go poorly for the PLO, but they kept passing their morale checks and hung in there.
A missed shot by the PLO mortars accidentally wandered onto an IDF unit causing some minor casualties: pretty much the mortars' best work all day.
The Nagmashot and the M163 again pummeled the PLO unit that had taken out the Merkava.
Effectively out of RPG range they were essentially untouchable, particularly as the the PLO mortars couldn't hit, much less hurt, them.
To stop the AAA gun from hammering the IDF infantry clearing the snipers out of the hospital, the IDF dropped smoke on the position (not knowing that the Merkava had pretty much silenced the gun).
Big games are fun like that: realistic communication problems between IDF commanders.
On the other side of the table, IDF mortars were hammering a PLO ammo dump spotted by that $%#&ing drone!
During the next turn. the Nagmashot commander decided to go against all best advice and tried to drive his really heavy, hyper-armored vehicle through the swampy part of the park.
Oddly enough, he got stuck.
The car-park fight got ugly when both side started shooting RPGs at each other.
The PLO missed, the IDF didn't.
As can be seen by the MOUNTAIN of wound markers that the PLO acquired.
And there were still four undisclosed IDF Blinds to worry about.
This turn, the PLO mortars switched fire to the barricade: further battering the much-abused Merkava crew.
Back at the car-park, the one unshakable PLO RPG man continued to pass morale tests and fire on the two IDF squads...
...a brave but foolish move in the end.
The IDF finally scored a solid hit on the ammo dump, destroying it. CNN will go on to report that they were shelling an innocent playground that just so happened to have secondary explosions.
Old Sarge contemplating the mayhem from the PLO end of the table.
A couple more RPG hits and the 'dozer will surely block the opening it just made in the barricade.
The Nagmashot is still trying to free itself from the park's mud, while the M163 provides cover against any bold RPG teams.
A special IDF command unit deploys near the recently cleared hospital Admin building.
Having taken sniper fire from the department store the IDF did the only rational thing: they had the Air Force come in and level the place!
But they weren't ready for the PLO response: a man-packed SAM!
Apparently neither were the PLO: the missile never got near the jet...but it sure looked cool!
Having expended dozens of RPGs on the 'dozer with small effect, the PLO broke out their "ace in the hole": a museum relic T-34/85.
This antiquity had limited fuel and ammo and an untrained crew...but the IDF didn't know that.
For one turn it was tanko-a-dozero: two great war-machine facing each other down a narrow and dusty road. Only one would clatter away intact.
It was just like an Eastwood movie!
The T-34/85 hit the D9 and caused no damage (of course). The 'dozer calmly went about it's work ignoring the silly old tank and, in moving to the side, exposing the Blind behind it: a Magach!
The antique was in real trouble.
The general situation.
The 'dozer has absorbed (and shaken off) about a dozen hits of various types and is happily flattening all the barricades it can find. The Nagmashot is finally free of the mud. IDF infantry units are moving toward the barricade. That %$#ing drone is still droning around. PLO units are being decimated by the overwhelming coordinated firepower of the IDF, but still refuse to fail morale checks.
Another lucky hit (you need tens or higher) with an RPG. This one broke a cup-holder or the CD player, I'm not really sure which.
Both sides began to think that something unnatural was happening with the D9.
A near-miss with the mortars on the M163 as the D9 lumbers onward.
The Magach has moved up to fire on the T-34 with the now mobile Nagmashot in attendance.
A PLO recoilless rifle team (bottom center) tries to open fire on a M113 from a side street: again to no effect.
The T-34 somehow survived one more turn, and fired at the D9. It (of course) had no impact on the unstoppable monster.
While the IDF return-fire at the recoilless rifle team set off the IED in the mailbox on the corner that the PLO team was parked next to.
This ended badly for the PLO guys.
I think the phrase is: "Hoist with your own petard"! Kudos to anyone that can explain what that refers to...
The Air Force returned for a quick strafing run or two.
Meanwhile somebody (likely those IDF guys seen lurking nearby) blew up the other PLO ammo dump. CNN and the BBC will go on to report this as a reckless and deliberate pollution of that nasty swamp-pond in the photo; Al-Jazeera reports it as an ammo dump; Fox was busy with some stupid-bimbo's murder trial in California.
The Magach continues to fire on the T-34, guarded against RPGs by a squad of grunts.
Another RPG hits the D9 at point-blank range...
...but the beast lives on!
At this point we called the game: there simply was nothing left in the PLO arsenal to stop the IDF, and the PLO reinforcements were too weak and far away to make any difference.
By all accounts everyone enjoyed themselves greatly: credit again to R.U.P. for setting up the scenario and providing all the toys. The Killdozer, through a streak of luck unparalleled in the forty years that I have been gaming, tipped the balance with its indestructibility. Hit after hit generated only the most minor of damage, it was amazing.