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UMS: Modern Age. Artillery and Assaults

Welcome to everyone! Here we are at the fifth part of our UMS: Modern Age tutorial / playthrought.

Continuing with our game we find ourselves in the situation where the Iraqi militia is about to confront the Russian Alphas. The moment is a classic where few elite troops have to face a superior numerical strength even if qualitatively poor. The volume of fire of the militia, although considerable in terms of possible dice rolled, still has little chance of inflicting damage on the Russians, both because the attack value is low compared to the defense and because there are modifiers given by hard cover and from the target’s assault armor. In these cases you should use a heavy weapon, or an external support … but they are not viable solutions at the moment, so we will try the good old assault.

Activating the militia leads to only two actions, insufficient to contact at least one Alpha Element and thus initiate the assault. We discard one of the few strategic cards still in our hand and reroll the activation dice: luck assists us and this time we have three possible actions. We make three moves and contact the Alphas through an obstacle, it’s not ideal but we couldn’t do otherwise. Before resolving the assault, the militia must suffer the defensive fire of the attacked who, although armed with SMGs, manage to inflict four casualties. The militia passes the morale test required to carry out the assault when casualties are taken and a close combat round begins. Thanks to the slight numerical superiority (6 vs 4) we can double on two enemy elements, the remaining two will be one on one. Unfortunately, the numbers are not on the side of the Militia: they are facing a unit that has a high defense value in close combat (DEF-CC), they are equipped with an assault armor and, moreover, they are behind an obstacle. the test is 11+. Ouch! We roll the dice and all but one of the tests fail. The only test passed scores a hit and automatically eliminates the opponent. The three Alphas left, at this point, must pass a morale test to fight back or fall back. The test is passed and we move on to the counterattack: the roll to hit is much lower, 3+, also because they are armed with SMGs which, although worser than the AR in ranged combat, are lethal in the assault. Without problems, three militiamen are suppressed and the remaining three run away completely, also because they are penalized in morale value as 50% of the elements in Squad were felled. Finally, with a post-assault consolidation movement, the Russians take possession of the target.

By covering the indicated firing arc, the BMP blocks the passage of the Iraqi infantry

Being in a good position, the BMP uses two actions and places itself in Overwatch: its Autocannon is a sustained fire weapon so it can make up to two Overwatch attacks if necessary … enough to deter Iraqi Squads intervened to the rescue of their HQ. The Iraqi situation is problematic since all the teams are no longer hidden and approaching the BMP in Sentinel would amount to an almost certain elimination. A possible solution would be the use of artillery. Off-map artillery is a possibility available to the player who, through the use of strategic cards, can activate different types of batteries: from the light mortars to heavy howitzers. So, with the remaining two cards in our hand, we try to contact a battery of light howitzers. in UMS the artillery target must be kept secret from the opponent (writing it on a piece of paper, for example) because the “arrival” of the shells is not immediate and depends on the value of the Army’s Artillery Support. In the case of the Iraqi army it is 1 (if not modified during the composition of the list) which means that between the call and the arrival there will be D10 + 4 activations (friendly or enemy). This die roll must also be kept secret and we used a simple cap from a can to cover the result of the die. As target we choose the BMP and the die stops on a 2 … so between 6 activations the artillery attack can be resolved. A player could also guess what the target of an artillery attack is, but in this case the BMP has already activated and therefore will not be able to move … at least for this turn. The Iraqi can do nothing but pass the hand.

Through the last two activations of the turn, both Russians and Iraqis approach the central objective of the table: with a bit of luck, the Iraqi regular squad manages to obtain four actions, with two it approaches a vehicle and with the other two it starts a Defensive Position activity that’s an improvement in one’s defense against ranged attacks … in this case a good +4 to be hit (+2 from vehicle cover and +2 from defensive position) and a fat +5 on the save from wounds (+2 from cover, +2 from defensive position, and +1 from ballistic armor). End of turn!

At the start of the next turn, the BMP has two choices: the first would be to move and engage one of the two enemy Squads, but doing so would expose the other to attack, as they both have anti-tank weapons. The second is to maintain the Overwatch status, in this case it could engage both enemy Squads, if they move … on the other hand it could suffer the off-map attack of the artillery. We opt keep the Overwatch and see what happens. Let’s skip a couple of activations forward, just as the shells start coming from the battery of howitzers. We reveal to the opponent the target and the die indicating the number of activations, and place the artillery template on the center of the BMP. Since there is no dedicated artillery observer on the list with the Iraqis, the first attack is of an imprecise type and forces us to use the classic 6 deviation die: 4 arrows and 2 “hit” symbols. If the fire had been directed by a dedicated observer, or, if it had been the second call on the same target, the die would have been of the “precise” type, i.e. with 2 arrows and 4 “hit”. Happily, we get a “hit”. Generic howitzers do not have a big AT value, +2, but the center of the template is above the BMP which it will then defend with the thin upper armor, 7. We roll and we get 8, a little below the required 9. We roll the damage die and get 4, which for light armored means Pinning and a movement damage. The BMP will have some problems moving but, more importantly, the Pinning cancels the Overwatch … which means that now the two Iraqi teams will have freedom of movement.

Final thoughts of this 5th part:

  • The assault, or the melee, is decisive when the attacks of small arms do not lead to anything … either for the level of protection of the opposing position, or for a matter of “time” where the enemy must be dislodged a lot quickly.
  • The artillery loses its effectiveness the more the target is armored, but against an infantry it has the effect of automatically Pinning, therefore excellent for preparing enemy positions for assault with a reduced defensive fire. The non-immediate availability, and a certain randomness, must be accompanied by good planning on when and where to use this support.

Part six: Objectives and final toughts

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UMS: Modern Age. Supporti aerei e Soppressione.