Dirtside Urban

We haven’t had much time to prep anything for a while, but decided to pick up from where we left off with Dirtside II at the beginning of the year. In our previous game, we’ve just played with some tanks. This time, we went for an urban assault with lots of infantry and IFVs.

Something that become clear very quickly was the scale of the battle – not the number of units, but the density of them. We clogged up the town pretty quickly with our infantry, so it became difficult to determine who was who and exactly where they were positioned relative to each other.

We started with three units each. NATO forces had two Challengers in one unit, plus a unit of Warriors and a unit of FV-432s. Both the latter units had a FV-102 Striker (guided missile anti-tank vehicle) attached.

The Russian forces had a unit of BMP-3s, a unit of BTR-80s and a unit of T-90s. In the first turn, we both made a bee line for the town we were meant to be capturing.

We couldn’t do a full move and deploy, so we had to wait until turn two to begin deployment. Meanwhile, my Challengers had moved around to the East to try and provide support from the side, and the T-90s were heading West.

Turn 2, some of my troops deployed in the west of the town, and the T-90s rolled around with their APFC (Anti-Personnel Fragmentation Charges) activated. They got within an inch of my infantry, and this is where the rules aren’t clear. If infantry come within an inch of a vehicle with active APFC, then they are immediately attacked. But in this case, the vehicle came up to the infantry. Can it be used offensively, or is it only meant as a defensive weapon?

We allowed it to be used offensively, and it didn’t have much effect at all, but the question still stands. The tanks did open up with their APSW (Anti-Personnel Squad Weapon), which was more effective.

One great big mess of troops and vehicles

As troops began to disembark, things got very messy, with everything becoming one big fur ball. Two things became apparent. I need better building models, and we needed a smaller scale map.

For urban combat, it might be nice to have an expanded map for the urban areas, to allow units to get closer to each other. It would also allow streets and buildings to be better represented. On the other hand, possibly I just need to get more urban terrain and make the areas bigger. The nominal ground scale for Dirtside is 1″ = 100m (figure scale and ground scale are two different things), so a small town should probably cover the entire table.

So possibly, my habit of putting down a few buildings and using them to represent a complete urban area is what’s wrong – I need to get some more buildings, as well as road terrain, and make the urban areas larger and more complicated to properly represent them.

The conflict descended into close assaults, which is a lot more deadly than the usual infantry firefights. Long range infantry fire fights aren’t that effective. They can cause units to become suppressed, but casualties are rare. This is a feature that mirrors the Stargrunt rules, where you really need to get in close and dirty with your enemy to take them out.

Dirtside doesn’t have the command and control rules from Stargrunt (which is a shame), but does allow multiple units to be activated for a single close assault attack. So vehicles can support infantry units, and multiple infantry units can come together to take a building.

The unit quality doesn’t represent how good a unit is at shooting, but how willing they are to get involved. To do a close assault, you need to pass a reaction test. Then the defenders need to pass a confidence test to not run away. Reaction tests and confidence tests are the same thing, except that failing a reaction test has no effect on unit morale, whilst failing a confidence test does.

Combat in close assault is simultaneous, so even if one side gets wiped out, they still get to fight back.

I did try to use one of my FV-102 Strikers (anti-tank guided missile carrier) against the T-90s, but both missiles missed, and then the T-90s turned out (unsurprisingly) to be quite effective against my IFVs.

The main take away was that combat was too compressed in one small area, and I know in future to spread things out a bit. Which means I need a bit more in the way of terrain, including probably some roads.

The final result of the game though was that NATO pulled back after taking some casualties. The Russians took casualties as well, but had claimed more of the townso it was going to be expensive to push them out.

Samuel Penn