Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Battle of Longewala, 5 Dec 1971 (Played at the Historicon, 27th July 2007)

I played on the Indian side at Game Master Dan McDonagh's table, where we re-created the Battle of Longewala, which saw the clash between the Indian and Pakistani forces at the border post of Longewala in Rajasthan, India. The formidable Pakistani force comprised of 65 tanks (T-59s and Shermans), Field guns and mounted Infantry against entrenched Indians who had nothing but mortars and recoiless rifles. Later in the game, the heavily out-numbered Indians also received support from their centurion tanks and mech infantry.
The major difference between the real battle and this game was the Pakistani Airforce. In the real battle the Pakistani tanks were laid to waste by the Indian Airforce. In our game both sides had air support. There were plenty of dog fights and loss of aircrafts. I wasn't too lucky with my fighters which required a roll of 1 using a D10 to score a hit.
"Ground War" is a simple rule set (I believe it was designed by Dan himself), easy to understand and with very few complications. What I did not particularly like was the treatment of ambushes - they were all put on the table right from the beginning and hence the enemy clearly knew which route to avoid. The justification for this treatment was the presence of surveillance aircrafts which could give advance warning to the attackers- I somehow couldn't accept that. Hence, with the enemy clearly avoiding the ambushes and tank traps right from the offset, the Indians were forced to fall back and fight for their lives till their centurion tanks and armoured carriers arrived.
The battle ended in a draw with both sides failing to accomplish their objectives in the given time. The Pakistanis failed to cut a wide (2 ft on the table) secure path through the Indian side and the Indians failed to drive the Pakistanis back.All said and done, it gives me goose bumps to think of the Indian Soldiers who fought that decisive battle. Heavily out-numbered and without enough resources to thwart a tank attack of such proportions, they managed to hold on till the fighters arrived at dawn. The result which in my opinion may have had a lot to do with Pakistani stupidity and incompetence, takes nothing away from those jawans who stood their ground. Hats off to Major Chandpuri !!
On a lighter note, I should have prepared for the battle by watching J.P. Dutta's film - Border. It may have given me a lot of ideas like engaging my enemy commander in a verbal duel before the battle or asking my soldiers to walk towards the Pakistani tanks with anti-tank mines in their hands and thereby forcing them to retreat. Bollywood ! S I G H !!!

- Sarath


James said...

Namaste Sarath,

glad you enjoyed Historicon. I agree with you about the ambushes -this is a problem with a lot of rules. However, in this case as there was a Gamesmaster present this could have been easily solved. He could have had a "master map" of the board and you as the Indian player could have put the location of your ambush teams on this master map at the start of the game, only putting the models on the table after the unfortunate Pakistani units bumped them unwittingly. In my opinion GM Dan was being a little lazy here.....
"Border" sounds a fun film....the term "suspension of disbelief" comes to mind...


Manoj Govindan said...

I would have done what James suggested to hand the ambushes.

Alternately, the game master could have asked the gamers playing Pakistan to commit to routes of attack which must be followed and cannot be changed for a fixed number of turns.

James said...

Hi again Sarath,

I was wondering if playing with miniatures had seduced you into buying any of your own?

Rajput Fraternity said...

Dear Friends
Well if you believe too much on a movie you will only get what the reel has to provide. The battle of Laungewala was real and fought by people on ground. Since I was one of those who participated in it- as it was us who reinforced Major Chandpuri I know that the film BORDER is only a dramatized version of the battle devoid of all truth. If you still think that it was a game play on.
Col D R Singh (Retd)