Maalintii Rangers (or Day of the Rangers) is the first Battle Book for the Skirmish Sangin rules, and as such is a supplement, and requires the original Skirmish Sangin rules in order to play.
As you can imagine from the title, this book concentrates on the events surrounding Operation Gothic Serpent, when Task Force Ranger – a force consisting of US Army Rangers, Delta Force Commandos, Air Force Special Operations and Navy SEALs – where sent to Somalia given the mission to capture Mohamed Farrah Aidid. This operation led to the Battle of Mogadishu, whose events have been made well known by the book and subsequent film, Black Hawk Down.
The book gives a brief introduction and overview to the events surrounding the operation, and then outlines the theatre specific rules that are applied for this period. 1993 Somalia is quite different from 2010 Afghanistan, so several changes are required.
Helicopters play a key role in games set in Somalia, so a section of the book is then dedicated to rules for using helicopters in Skirmish Sangin, including fast rope insertion, landing helicopters on the table, embarking / disembarking, combat and (obviously) crashing. The book contains stats for using four different types of helicopters in the game: The AH-1 Huey Cobra gunship, the AH-6 and MH-6 Little Birds and the MH-60 Black Hawk.
Rules are then given for the forces involved – for the Somalis, this includes Aidid’s Militia, the use of civilian mobs, how the drug Khat affects models (this was extensively used by the Somali militia) and also rules for assets such as ‘Technicals’ (civilian 4WD vehicles that have been converted to carry heavy weapons, such as Heavy Machine Guns or Recoilless Rifles. The force list for the US and UNOSOM (United Nations Operations in Somalia) is quite extensive, as it covers not only the forces associated with Task Force Ranger, but also the 10th Mountain Division, and the Pakistani and Malaysian armies.
Rules are then given for the vehicles used in the game, and also include rules for roadblocks, which were used extensively during the battle of Mogadishu itself.
The book contains six scenarios. The first is a Delta Force operation to capture a Somali Militia leader from a village, the second covers the initial rescue attempt by US Combat Search and Rescue teams when Black Hawk Super Six One was shot down by an RPG. The third scenario details the defence of Black Hawk Super Six Four by Delta Force Snipers – though not named in the scenario, this is the action for which Gary Gordon and Randy Shughart were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honour. The fourth scenario covers the vehicle convoy’s attempt to escape the city, whilst scenarios five and six give two different approaches to the ‘Mogadishu Mile’ – when the remaining forces of Task Force Ranger were forced to withdraw on foot after being left behind by the UNOSOM relieve convoy – the first of the two is based on historical events, whilst the second a ‘Hollywood’ version based on the film.
Finally, there is a section about scratch building terrain for use in the games.
The book gives a basic overview of the details of Operation Gothic Serpent and the Battle of Mogadishu, but doesn’t go into too much detail. So, whilst it is packed full of rules and figure stats for the game, and relates these to why they would be required, it is actually quite light on detail so relies on the gamer using other sources to fill in all the blanks about the details of the battle.
This certainly extends to the scenarios. Whilst a brief historical overview is given in each case (a couple of paragraphs) followed by the scenario outline, special rules and briefings for each side, what is conspicuous by their absence is any maps or suggested table layouts – or even suggestions on table size (with the exception of the convoy scenario, which talks about the possibility of using a ‘rolling’ table for the game). I find this a strange omission – especially as in all other aspects the scenarios follow the same layout as the free ones that Radio Dish-Dash makes available each month.
Illustrations, period photographs and pictures of models and terrain can be found on almost every page of the book. Whilst these are generally pretty good (and this may appear to be something of a nit-pick) several of the model pictures suffer from technical issues of lighting, exposure and focus – given how important pictures are in a publication of this type, it inevitably gives the impression that these were rushed to be added, and time could not be found to take better photographs. Unfortunately, I think this does detract from the final impression of the book – considering how good the model photography has been in other publications from this company, I find this issue surprising.
Certainly, this is a highly detailed publication, and provides most of the details (with the exceptions noted above) that players of Skirmish Sangin will need play this particular conflict. Inevitably, gamers may draw comparison between this book and the previously published Osprey title for their Force on Force rules. Whilst the Osprey book is a good general resource, this publication is much more game specific, so I cannot recommend it to gamers who do not play Skirmish Sangin. That said Skirmish Sangin is a good set of rules for gaming modern conflicts, so the addition of this battle book does a good job of bringing the game into another conflict.