For the latest modern battle, it was time to try out a larger game with all the painted figures I currently have in my modern collection. This would overwhelm the Spectre rules, so we tried the modern Bolt Action variant created by Jay's Wargaming Madness. For this scenario, the Malians started in the center of the table, with the French forces rolling for arrival. The African insurgents had to deploy at least 50% of their forces, with the rest also rolling for arrival. Reinforcements could come in from any direction, as long as no opposing forces had already entered from that side during the round. I played the Western forces, while Art played the Islamic insurgents.
It was market day in our Malian village, and the Forces Armées Maliennes were on patrol in the shopping district.
Unfortunately for them, Islamic insurgents were waiting, and ambushed the Malians from the apartment building and neighboring shop rooftops. It was a bloodbath, with the group leader and 10 of the 12 fireteam members killed. Surprisingly, the two survivors passed their morale test and returned fire at the apartment building, but the RPG caused no injuries. They immediately radioed for evacuation assistance.
A French Foreign Legion Peugeot P4 arrived from the east, and fired their MMG and HMG at the insurgents on top of the shopping complex. The insurgents were pinned, but the walls protected them from any losses.
A Foreign Legion operative hidden in the rocks launched a small drone and started feeding data to the French command.
From the south, a Foreign Legion HMG team set up and fired upon insurgents guarding an ammo dump in a residential courtyard. They were unsuccessful in their attack.
Legion Combat Group A arrived from the southwest and attacked the same courtyard, eliminating the insurgent cell guarding the ammo dump. An accompanying medic also managed to shoot a member of the mortar team. In the background, the French HMG team suffered a casualty at the hands of a hidden insurgent sniper.
From the north, Legion Combat Group B arrived to rescue the surviving Malians. The 600m team took up position in the cornfield and pinned the insurgents on the apartment rooftop, while the group leader and 300m team advanced to the back of the building.
Unfortunately, an Islamic martyr team was hidden in the building. They fired from the windows and killed the group leader, resulting in a permanent morale penalty for Combat Group B.
African civilians began fleeing the market. But was everyone really a civilian, or were suicide bombers lurking among them? At the time, they seemed to be avoiding the French.
From the east, a new insurgent cell arrived and attacked Combat Group A, killing one member.
Combat Group A returned fire and destroyed the insurgent cell completely.
Meanwhile, a hidden French Commandos Marine (special forces) sniper team picked off another member of the mortar team in the courtyard.
An insurgent team arrived from the south and began assembling a DShK HMG, with the aim of destroying Legion Combat Group A.
An insurgent technical also arrived from the south, but the driving was so erratic, the gunner could not hit the Legion HMG. The Legionnaires pivoted and returned fire, destroying the technical.
Back in the shopping district, a hidden insurgent sniper team scored a critical hit on the P4, knocking it out of the game.
However, the sniper team was sloppy, and the French drone pinpointed their location as the upper floor of the Buffalo Grill restaurant.
As luck would have it, the drone operator was also careless, and an insurgent cell arriving from the east eliminated him. As a result, the drone came crashing down and was removed from play.
In the northern part of the village, the French commanding officer and his adjutant arrived to assist Legion Combat Group B. However, additional danger soon arrived in the form of another technical, this time equipped with a ZU-23 anti-aircraft gun. The technical blew Group B's 300m team to pieces, and the surviving 600m team hid in the cornfield.
The French command team ran for cover in a rock formation, and the adjutant disabled the technical with his under-barrel grenade launcher.
The technical's destruction brought a lot of unwanted attention to the French command team, with them being attacked by a newly arriving insurgent cell, and the insurgents on the roof of the apartment building. Luck was with the French, and the rocks provided them with the cover they needed to stay safe.
Another member of Combat Group B was killed, and the two survivors were forced to go down.
Additional insurgents arrived from the west and hid in the scrub.
The French radio operator called an airstrike down on the shopping district. It was a big bomb, killing all the insurgents on the apartment building rooftop, and setting the northern end of the building afire. The damage from the bomb was almost enough to collapse the building, but it remained standing.
The insurgent sniper team hiding in the apartments survived, and moved to pick off the radio operator in revenge.
Also surviving the bombing was the martyr team, who rained down fire on the two surviving Malians, killing them. The rescue mission was now a failure.
An insurgent recoilless rifle that had been aimlessly looking for targets in the game lost a member to the Commandos Marine sniper.
Legion Combat Group A caught the insurgents before they could finish assembling their HMG, and gunned them all down.
The French command team received reinforcements from the north in the form of a Commandos Marine VLRA. The VLRA's grenade launcher missed its mark, but the MMG eliminated two insurgents.
The insurgents counter-attacked the VLRA, but were repelled and ran for the cover of the rocks. The French command was waiting, and killed two more insurgents.
The other insurgent cell hiding in the scrub fired their RPG at the VLRA and took it out of commission.
Also arriving was the fanatical insurgent leader and his bodyguard. They quickly took notice of the infidels hiding in the cornfield.
The Islamic command team charged into the cornfield and killed the last Legionnaires of Combat Group B.
The two remaining insurgents in the rocks charged the French command, but were killed. Unfortunately, the adjutant was also mortally wounded.
The other insurgent cell unsuccessfully tried to shoot down the French commander, but they were quickly gunned down by the newly arrived Combat Group C.
The Islamic martyr cell exited the burning apartment building and attempted to drive off Combat Group C, but failed.
In the east, a squad of Commandos Marine infantry destroyed another cell of insurgents.
At the southern end of the village, a huge firefight broke out between several units of French and insurgents.
A Legionnaire sniper team that had been hiding atop the grocery dialed in on the restaurant snipers and finished them off.
But they were spotted themselves, and came under attack by the apartment snipers.
Civilian children ran towards the Commandos Marines, not as suicide bombers, but looking for safety. The troopers correctly assessed they were not a threat, and spent the turn getting them out of the area.
The firefight on the south end of town continued, and the insurgent mortar team was eventually eliminated.
Back in the shopping district, the Legionnaire sniper team was driven off by the apartment snipers.
The French commander managed to kill the insurgent leader's bodyguard, but was gunned down from behind by the martyr cell.
With that, we decided to call an end to the game. Though the French killed a larger number of insurgents, per the victory point system (1pt per Western soldier eliminated versus 1pt per Insurgent unit eliminated), they were still the losers in this battle. That said, it was a good learning experience and we had a lot of fun. With all the RPGs and other high firepower weapons on the table, the game was a lot deadlier than we expected; the unarmored vehicles had a particularly short lifespan. There were a few rules that weren't completely clear, so we had to come up with some gentlemen agreements on the fly. The modern variant also didn't have point values available for the different units, so trying to create a balanced game was a bit of guess work. But overall, a good addition (though unofficial) to the Bolt Action gaming system.