Saturday, 12 October 2019

Oil Wars: Breakthrough at Khorramshahr Oilfield

On Thursday the Wollongong Wargamers played an Oil Wars scenario, tinkering heavily with the Team Yankee Breakthrough scenario: – I wanted a fast game that allowed a variety of forces to be employed, and would deliver and exciting see-saw of action swinging between overwhelming attack force, stubborn defence, and cunning manoeuvre for an unpredictable game with a decisive outcome by move 6. As it happened we had 5 players with varying levels of experience, which probably slowed things down a little, so would we achieve the outcome? 

Unfortunately, given current events in northern Syria, this game was a little more topical than we would have liked....

The bloody war had been dragging on since the dawn of time, repeatedly bringing burning skies, death and desolation to the lands between the Euphrates and the Tigris. The cradle of civilization was now disfigured by raging oilwell fires and smoky skies that brought only black rain down on what had been the most fertile place on Earth.  Uran sadly folded up his prayer mat and stretched his aching back: refuelling and ammunitioning was hard work with just a three man crew, particularly as both his painfully young gunner and driver were so thin and hapless, in less desperate times to be scorned by the most casual of draft boards. Well… Inshallah!
Remount! He and his pair of sluggish crewmen clambered aboard their blistering T-72 and brought it roaring and snorting back into life, lurching back into the column leading to the assembly area – another attack, another battle, another oilwell to destroy…

Northern Arabian Gulf hinterland: Semi industrialized salt desert in the vicinity of Khorramshahr City in the disputed zone between Iran and Iraq. Flat terrain interspersed with oilfield installations and facilities. Advanced road network, characterised by raised roadbeds providing only elevations in the area.

Widespread damage to oilheads has resulted in intermittent but widespread and severe smog and smoke haze.

Iranian forces have captured the region around Khorramshahr Oilfield, one of the few remaining intact oil fields at the southern end of the war zone. Iraqi armoured forces are expected to counterattack imminently in order to restore free world supply. Intelligence suggests that if launched, and meeting significant resistance, this attack may be supported by US amphibious forces from the US Fifth Fleet currently poising offshore. Fast Air and Aviation activity is severely curtailed by current and forecast environmental conditions. Game ends after Turn 6.

Iranians currently defending Khorramshar consist of small elements of mechanised infantry in BMPs supported by a second tier T-62 armoured in company strength and a large detachment of local Basji militia, supported by technical with recoilless rifles and RPG weapons. A heavy armoured formation has been identified heading for the vicinity consisting of Chieftains supported by Scorpion light tanks and technical armed with TOW ATGW. The Iranians have no functioning tube or rocket support in this sector.

Iraqi forces attacking are centred around a T-72 company supported by mechanised infantry in wheeled APC, supported by a large MLRS battery.

USMC forces are expected to be spearheaded by light armour: LAV scout and missile companies, supported by a 155mm SPG battery. 

The Game:
The Iraqi attackers placed their objectives wisely – one close to the reinforcement area, one as close to their deployment area as possible:

The initial Iranian deployment made as much use of the sparse cover as possible, cramming as many T-62s into a small palm grove as would fit. 

The enthusiastic Basji miliia were deployed adjacent to the objectives to be able to dash in and occupy it – those of them that survived the inevitable Iraqi MLRsing that is! 

The more experienced, and, dare I say, cynical regular Iranian mechanised infantry hung well back inside their BMPs, content to plink at any targets of interest at stand-off ranges with their Saggers.

The Iraqis deployed their armour rather unexpectedly off to the flank, clearly intent on taking on the elderly T-62s straight away rather than heading straight for the objectives. 

The Iraqi mech infantry remained in their BTRs and weaved their way through the village, also taking a rather oblique route to the objective. 

Iranian deployment had obviously succeeded in distracting the Iraqis from making a beeline for the objectives, which they probably should have done given they needed to take one of them in six moves… 

However the ferocity of Ian's Iraqi T-72s in destroying most of the Iranian T-62s at small cost to themselves appeared to justify the Iraqi plan...

Similarly in the opposite table quarter Bryan's Iraqi mech infantry's firepower ripped through 4 Iranian recoilless rifle teams without even bothering to assault:

Peter and myself as the Iranian team relaxed a little with the first wave of reinforcements - Chieftains!

Despite the inability of my unskilled Basji milita to actually dig in on the objective, we felt things had stabilised a bit...

However the Iraqis were steadily and methodically surrounding the initial objective placed on the oilfield itself...and were now recieving reinforcements of their own - the Marines are Here! Adaptable and flexible as always, the Marines led off with their Paladin M109 SPGs to take on the Chieftains from the rear - and their 155mm rounds hurt!

The Iranian defence was now somewhat wedged - and the US were holding one objective - could we dispute it by move 6?  

We had little room for manoevre and had definately lost the initiative at this stage...

Hoping that the Basji militia, being cut down steadily by MLRS bombardments but still refusing or unable to dig-in, could nevertheless hold that objective by themselves, the small mech infantry platoon abandoned their burnt out BMPs and dashed for the Oil company office building - from their they could dispute the other objective in relative security...

But it was not to be - despite making use of the line of trees between them and the USMC LAVs, they were cut to pieces by cannon fire at the very doorsteps of the building!

The US-Iraqi was left in undisputed possession of that objective, and so ended a very enjoyable and fast paced game.


  1. All around great game, thanks for sharing it.

  2. Thanks Irish - really appreciate your comment!

  3. I am looking forward to another game! I must admit I had no intention of going anywhere near those Chieftans until the Marines appeared - too darn tough for my poor T72s though I did bag one - albeit with a rear shot. A very enjoyable and unbalanced game!

    1. Thanks mate - I also hope we can revisit Oil Wars afore too long!