IABSM Operation Compass game 6


In a blast from the past I managed to arrange a game with my old gaming buddy Steen. We have played all kinds of games over the years, but especially I Ain’t Been Shot, Mum! by Too Fat Lardies, has been a recurring favourite. A bit of moving countries, and some pandemic stuff has kept us from connecting recently, but now we finally had the chance.

We decided to catch up where we left – in the middle of the campaign supplement Operation Compass. This campaign is set in the Western Desert and most of the fighting is between Libyans/Italians and British/colonials. So far in the campaign it has been a disaster for the Italians, and it is very difficult to see a way forward.

The battle

Without giving out the whole TFL supplement, I will say that this game was sort of a meeting engagement where two forces encounter each other on the way to various other destinations. The brief was simply – both sides had to stop the other from exiting the opposing narrow table edge. Many of the scenarios we have played so far, have been hopeless if not impossible for the Italians, and have left us with a sense that maybe it doesn’t make for the best gaming material. This scenario, however, I could actually see giving some sort of game.

IABSM has a “fog of war phase” where you move around blinds to position your troops. This works really well… at least until the deck gets too many cards, then it starts to bog down a bit. My plan was to head up the road with my main force and cut off the Italians with my bren carriers.

This proved to be a super effective tactic. The bren carriers annihilated the Italians as they were coming down the road, and stood overwatch whenever there wasn’t a clear target.

Having taken care of the Italians trying to exit the board, I turned my attention towards the Italians trying to stop me from exiting the board… Actually they were Libyan colonial troops.

I dismounted a platoon of Indians colonial troops and ordered them to hog the ground. Then a slow firefight started. The Italians had green troops, which meant that they could either move or shoot.. not both, when they got their turn. They also didn’t have many leaders, and therefore couldn’t get to order their troops on the ground efficiently.

The only real danger I faced was the small tankettes with twin barreled LMGs. The anti tank rifles I had, couldn’t really make a dent in them. My only AT rifle team was gunned down in fact. Hence, on a “Heroic Leader” card my big man “Havilder Tin” picked up the Boys AT rifle and charged forward trying to put holes in the Italian tank. He was unfortunately very unlucky, and the LMGs dispatched him quickly afterwards.

The Libyan infantry’s unit card never came up before they were under fire, and thus too poorly to start moving about before removing shock. The casualties also racking up, meant that they lost their dice also, and were down to just 1 die of movement pretty quickly. The green rule, meant that as soon as they lost a couple of men they could no longer shoot, as they lose one die to fire.

I managed to get my MMG platoon into a very good spot on a ridge next to the road. The game was effectively over at this point as the combined fire from the Indian infantry and the MMGs was going to rip apart the Libyans.

We decided to end it here. I’ve included an overview shot here to show how the Italians were cut off:

The truth is that the bren carrier platoon could probably have finished off the whole Libyan/Italian force single handedly. I know that this probably leaning towards “playing the rules” but I really think that for a game to be interesting it needs to offer a bit more than what the Italian player is dealt here.

One solution might be to bump the Italians up a notch quality wise, just to give them a bit more to do. Having just 2 dice is not a lot, and coupled with “green” where you have to forfeit a die to shoot makes it really really difficult. Also 1 die of shooting rarely leads to even a point of shock.

All this being said and rationalised in hindsight, I will say that playing a game of IABSM was still super good very enjoyable and meeting up with Steen again was also super good.

If you have suggestions for how to make lopsided games like this interesting, give a shout! If you think we should consider another rules set (well, the figures don’t care do they?) – also give a shout.

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