Thursday, 23 January 2014

OSS ARMY SPOTLIGHT - FOW

Mid War OSS American Army

First post of 2014 - I had a nice holiday break , lots of windsurfing and dinghy sailing and very little else - never touched a paint brush (terrible I know) but I did play a fair number of Saga games over the break and have now brought another Saga army, also been playing a few new board games and some old ones.....but more on that later.

Now its time for another Flames of War Army spotlight to show you, this time I wanted to share my half of an army that my brother and I had made up for a doubles tournament we went to last year. We both are attracted to the more somewhat more bizarre armies that are available to FOW, so with this we picked a USA Office of Strategic Services (OSS) force that was at that time, recently new found in the Burning Empires book.

Both our armies are of the more or less of the same makeup except Andy relies on allied Partisan fighters and I like to use some tanks and the more reliable French platoon, but each army also has different historical theaters as this has added a unique army look in their own right so we could take it to a singles tournament with 1500 points limit. I based my force around the OSS operations in Vichy French colonies of Morocco and Algeria ahead of Operation Torch landings in June 1942. Where as Andy based his force around the OSS operations in Yugoslavia with Tito's Partisans.

I already have a large mid war US force which is based around early 1942 desert actions, so I wanted my new OSS force to match that period as I could use some of my bazooka and weapon's models I had already done so saving me some cost.  The OSS had done some limited operations during Operation Torch and that formed the basis of my army's history as they had OSS agents in Vichy French controlled Morocco and Algeria where they were busy recruiting local units which were lead by the OSS - these formed my Guerrilla units in the army and used the excellent Goum figures for this. I had also got a French Senegalese Tirailleur unit as a Support unit (This would later that year persuade me to start collecting a Vichy French army as well)

Andy had built has army up from scratch using some left over US models I had spare to make his OSS units and he brought some French FFI figures by Battlefront to form his two Yugoslavia Partisan units. He would also mix and match the FFI figures with his US models to comprise his Guerilla units he would need.

The Tournament was Panzershrek in 2012 with MW 2200 point doubles event with 1100 points each. We surprised ourselves and did reasonable well with it, having only lost one game with a 3/3 draw. Since that tournament and in the light of the new Version 3 FOW - the Special rules for the army has changed some what, especially the time of day rules and the interdiction rules. But I think it is all for the better, as it was a tad harsh for some armies to face us in the night with your reserves being delayed with interdiction raids being used against them.

The OSS unit is a rather different mid war army as it lacks armoured support and support weapons but with rules such as Night Fighting and Interdiction raids the force can be quite powerful and can make far superior forces (on paper) suffer. There combat platoons are all based on small bases, this makes them good for sneaking around in terrain as they foot print area is smaller than most. The M5 Stuart and M3A1 armoured cars and jeeps would provide some much needed armoured support  Their highest AT asset and most numerous available is the trusty Bazooka with AT 10, followed by only two M3 37mm AT guns with AT 7 .... so not a lot in the way of direct AT, nor has the army got any form of Artillery with only access to 2x M2 60mm light mortars. But what they lack in Direct AT and Artillery they make up in aggressive tactics and the special rules so its all good.

SOME HISTORY

The Office of Strategic Services (OSS) was established on the 13th June 1942 through efforts of Colonel William Donovan. Using the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) as a template, Donovan set up the OSS for both collecting and analyzing information about countries at war with the United States and organised strategic operations such as raids, sabotage and other such missions.

OSS Insignia badge
The OSS folowed the 7th army into North Africa during Operation Torch. OSS agents were smuggled into the Vichy French colonies of Morocco and Algeria ahead of the invasion and made contact with local French resistance leaders. The OSS helped coordinate partisan uprisings in major seaside cities and although these were ultimately crushed, the lessons learned was used for further operations. They went on to support and conduct operations in Sicily, Greece, Sardinia, Corsica, France and Yugoslavia.
While the O.S.S. in general is considered to have been the forerunner of the C.I.A. and its history has been much written about, the Operational Groups in particular have remained largely undocumented, even though they are recognized as the forerunner of the modern U.S. Special Forces


The Special rules for the OSS army :

OSS do not use all the USA special rules found in the FOW rule book - instead only use the Stabilisers, Automatic rifles, Tuscan Trot and Excellent communications - but have also got some special rules of their own as well.
1) Unconventional - German Mission Tactic rule
2) Explosives for all occasions - All teams of the HQ and OSS Operational groups (combat platoons) are tank assault 3
3) Special Operations rule - HQ, OSS and Guerrilla platoons treat all difficult going as cross country, allowing them to move at the double through terrain, and may even move at the double at night time.  
This is a rather cool rule when combined with Tuscan Trot and night fight rules in play, as they can move about the table with minimum risk at being shot at!


All the weapon teams available to you
4) OSS Detachments - A pool of weapons, you can replace any team from your OSS or Guerrilla platoons with teams below at no extra cost. The company has available to it the following weapon teams :
8x Bazooka teams
6x MG teams
2x LMG teams
2x M2 60mm Mortar teams
2x M3 37mm gun teams
Any number of SMG teams
Love this rule, main reason for going the 
army - as you can mix and match your unit make up before each game whether 
attacking or defending
5) Link up Platoons - Armoured Recon and Light tank platoons must always be in reserve and is always the last reserves to arrive. Slightly annoying rule but can see the reason behind it
6) Headquarters, OSS and Guerrilla platoons are all rated as Recce teams. Vital ability
7) Interdiction rules - Rather cool little rule that helps a lot with this type of force, it effectively has two types of interdiction depending on whether the mission has reserves or not.
With Reserves, the level of interdiction gives the player a number of dice 3 Sporadic, 5 Limited and 7 with Priority, and before the opposition rolls for his reserves to turn up, you roll your dice and if any 5's appear he does not receive one reserve that turn. 
Without reserves in mission, with Priority Interdiction he then must place 3 of his platoons in reserve, Limited he would place 2 units, and Sporadic he would place one in reserve.
8) Time of Day - If you have purchased Interdiction raids, this allows you to use the time of day rules in certain missions, it allows the OSS to pick which time of day you wish to attack in. This rule makes the OSS shine in some missions and against determined foes .... sweet !



The CO and his 2IC
My 1500 point Mid War OSS Army I would take to a tournament

HQ - CO and 2IC SMG teams - FV
Combat - OSS Platoon with 2 rifle sections - FV
Combat - OSS Platoon with 2 rifle sections - FV
These guys form the business end of your force, always out front and pushing hard with the attack, their Fearless nature and Tank assault 3 status keeping them in the fight, and with being Recce and moving at the double through terrain they can shine in an aggressive style of play. 
With their pool of weapons rule they get - I usually form two units the same with :
HQ SMG, 3 bazookas, a M2 60mm Mortar team and the 2 remaining teams armed with SMG's

Typical OSS unit, with 3 bazooka's,  light Mortar and rest with SMG's
Weapons - Guerilla Platoon with 2 rifle sections - CT
Weapons - Guerilla Platoon with 2 rifle sections - CT
These two platoons are useful for holding objectives and backing up the OSS platoons on the attack,  they are also Recce teams and with the pool of weapons rule they get - I usually form two units the same with : HQ SMG team, 1 bazooka team, a LMG team, M3 37mm AT gun and the 3 other teams armed with MG's  - so deadly in defensive fire.


Typical Guerrilla unit, with bazooka,  LMG, 37mm AT gun, HQ SMG and 3x MG armed teams
Support - Light Tank Platoon with 4x M5A1 Stuarts - CT
Much needed armoured support - they are rather light on armour and AT, but very quick and with always being in reserve (or last reserve to arrive) they need to be quick.


Support - French Tirailleurs Senegalais Platoon with 2 Rifle/MG sections - CT
Command R/MG with 6 x R/MG teams and VB team and 4 trucks.
A useful and solid allied unit that comes with the French rules - always hits in assault on a 3+ and has the Unconventional (German mission) rule.

Some French Light infantry troops
Support - Interdiction Raids   -  Limited Interdiction Raids
5 dice worth of of slowing down the enemy's reserves with .... nice if not a little nasty. But if there is no reserve's in the mission played, you can then place 2 of the oppositions units in reserve - Sweet!

Support - Limited Air Support -  P-40 Warhawks
Probably not the most useful option to take airplanes due to the time of day rules in play, I would nearly always use the Dusk rules when using planes, so they can dominate early on and drop bombs as required while I move up with my foot units and making use of the night fighting later on when its time to attack the objective - and I love this model so why wouldn't you be tempted to use it. 




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