UMS: Modern Age. Air support and Suppression.

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

A public Facebook group has been opened for news and notices of various kinds and, already, there are some previews on the units present in the game.

The situation left in the previous week does not bode well for the Iraqis: the special forces, after suffering a loss, had to fall back. Fortunately, the retreat did not become a rout i.e. the immediate removal of the entire squad. The fall back can also be the only order the player assigns to a Squad, without rolling any dice … but the risk is that soldiers will panic and run away completely following a failed morale test.

Activation is now Iraqi, the Russian plays no cards and lets it act. One of the squads of regulars takes advantage of the coverage given by the T72 and moves to the rescue of its HQ, then the Militia, with a couple of movement activities, shortens the distance towards a target almost manned by the Russian Alpha group.

The T72, in the middle of the road, is a bit of a problem at the moment: its position is defilated and has good lines of sight. Activation is Russian and it seems like a good time to try support. The supports are of two types: aviation and artillery. Both are available to the player using cards from their cards hand. That’s right, there is no need to “buy” support in the army list through points, because it is always available, it just needs to be activated. In this case we opt for an aerial type support: a helicopter. The “call” is made by activating the HQ with an operational radio and discarding three cards. In UMS the presence of the helicopter is abstract and there is no need to have a model that represents it, if not for aesthetics, there are instead attack corridors (defined by the scenario) in which the helicopter / plane will operate.

In our mission, that of the previous image, there are 4 air corridors available for the army and the flying support will be able to hit targets present in the consecutive quadrants indicated by the arrow. Before being able to actually use the helicopter, or the plane, it must pass an “arrival” test on the battlefield and the difficulty of this arrival is given by the comparison between the air support values of the armies: the Russian has 2 (we lowered it during army builgin) and Iraqi 1. This means that the helicopter is on its way with a test of 6+, a lower result will be a delay and will require a new roll next turn or even a take down by off-map AA . We launch a seven and the attack helicopter, armed with an automatic cannon and ATGM, skimming the roofs appears in the attack corridor assigned to him. From now on it will activate, and attack, like any other vehicle (Circa). Biting his tongue for not having MANPADS or vehicles with AA weapons, the Iraqi evaluates their possibilities: the purpose of the scenario is to conquer the objectives, the destruction of the opponent is secondary as it is activated only in the event of a tie therefore a push towards at least two of the goals is needed. The regular Iraqi unit left in the center is activated with three actions and opts to start a suppression fire towards the Scouts.

Suppression aims to pin the target and is a type of attack that ignores cover and imposes a morale roll modified by the number of successes rolled. One failure and the target unit will be pinned and, for every natural 12 rolled, there will also be a chance to deal possible “real” damage. However, it remains an imprecise type of fire where some high rate firearms such as the GPMG or HMG are more suitable than others for this purpose. We roll the attack dices and get 3 successes, so the morale test of the explorers will have a penalty of only one point. The result is two successes and one failure, the explorers keep their cool … certainly not intimidated by a few volleys of ARs. A little discouraged we use the remaining two actions for two movements, getting 20Cm closer to the central objective.

The hand returns to Russian with a red Queen and the T72 is in the helicopter’s crosshairs as it launches a 2nd Generation ATGM. After a short flight it hits the turret with precision. ATGM missiles, like MBT guns, have a heavy modifier towards enemy armor, in this case a +9, making the saving throw a 10+ (The T72 has 1 as its front base, as it has already been damaged by RPG-27 of the Scouts). Unsurprisingly, the roll fails and it is now up to the ERA to try to limit the damage: the ATGM has a damage test modifier of +2, the ERA subtracts 3 so it would be -1. The T72 is damaged, as previously written, and this is also reflected in the damage test by setting the modifier to zero. We throw an 8 which is equivalent to the destruction of the vehicle: only one member is saved and is placed in the vicinity of the wreck. The Iraqi situation goes from bad to worse.

The Iraqi HQ, finding itself alone after the retreat of the Special Squad, decides to slip away inside a building under construction, putting itself in cover and waiting for the arrival of reinforcements to regroup. Having no other targets in the immediate future, BMP-3 and Russian regulars advance by taking position in order to unleash at least two attacks on as many targets the following turn.

And the fourth part has come to an end … with our usual considerations

  • It may seem strange not having to “buy” air or artillery support at the time of composing the army list, almost as if they were free. However, having to use the cards from one’s hand, puts the player in front of the dilemma: I use them to call an airplane in stand-by, perhaps with the risk that it will be shot down by the AA off the map, or I keep them to steal the initiatives and/or reroll the activation dice? From a certain point of view it is a “cost”.
  • Trying to cause a dead, or seriously injured, to a Squad entrenched in heavy cover is hardly feasible, especially with small arms such as AR or SAW. Suppression, when successful, obviates this situation: I won’t have done you permanent damage, but by dropping your head I can move allies with heavy weapons, or vehicles, into position to track you down.


Part five: Artillery and Assaults



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