Raid On Iran Review by David Lent
Raid on Iran is an old microgame from Steve Jackson Games that simulates what might have happened if the rescue mission to free the hostages had reached Tehran. Delta Force needs to get into the embassy (preferably using silent attacks), find the hostages and exfiltrate in helicopters. There is also a scenario where they try to kidnap Khomeini in order to exchange him for hostages.
The components for Raid on Iran are extremely basic. This game is in “One Page Bulge” format, which means everything including the rules and map is printed on a poster. The player cuts out the map and charts and then reads the rules on what’s left of the poster. The benefit of this crude design is that the game could retail for only $3.00 However, the scenario instructions for the second scenario are printed on the back of the map and are difficult to consult when playing the game since you would have to remove everything from the map and turn it over to read it. “One Page Bulge” format was cute the first time it was used, because nobody had ever seen an entire game printed on one piece of paper before. However, when the novelty wore off its limitations rapidly became apparent.
Raid on Iran’s map uses areas instead of hexes. There are no doors to enter a building or another section of it. However, firing inside a building can never use higher than the 6-10 men firing column on the CRT no matter how many are firing.
The Iranians setup by placing the 50 hostages in two buildings and place guards with them. 25 militants are placed on roads as sentries and then the rest of the 120 militants along with 9 “Dummy” counters are placed upside-down evenly in buildings 1 through 5. They are upside-down, because they are sleeping. They must be alerted to begin operating in the game. What’s really strange is that there are no dedicated “Dummy” counters. The helicopter and Khomeini counters are used as the dummies. Last, the Iranian player chooses a special option. He can get better communications (reinforcements arrive early), more manpower, extreme fanaticism, booby traps or changed hostage location.
Delta Force setup consists of selecting 90 troops, 2 mortars and 10 satchel charges. They are then placed in any street area their controller wishes. Next, the American option is picked. He can choose from extra explosives, Farsi speaker, diversion, mole in the militants, or a .50 machine gun. Last, he can either pick what turn helicopters will arrive for pick up or instead choose to call them in during the game. If a call is made, the helicopter will arrive 5 turns later.
Sequence of Play:
- Make breaches in outer wall
- Attempt negotiations
- Ranged attacks
- Land helicopters and move units
- Close attacks
- Reinforcements (if any)
- Ranged attacks
- Move units that didn’t fire
- Attempt to alert sleeping units
- Resolve close attacks
Alerting is very important in this game. Sleeping units are alerted either by an awake Iranian unit moving next to a sleeping one and rolling on a table to alert him or by noise from being fired at, a satchel charge exploding up to 3 areas away or any unit firing within 2 areas of him. I felt that any explosion should have woke up everybody instead of just those up to 3 areas away. In addition, having to roll on a table to wake a sleeping unit that is next to an awake one was silly. Simply shouting, “We’re under attack” into the sleeping unit’s ear should be sufficient.
The American player has an easy job in this game. He just needs to estimate how long it will take to secure the hostages and schedule helicopter pickup for that time. If they arrive early, he can have them hover. They may take damage while hovering, but enough will survive for extraction. After that, he sets up on streets closest to the buildings with hostages and uses silent weapons to dispatch the nearby sentries without alerting anyone. He will have to blow holes in the wall surrounding the embassy though, but it won’t alert too many sleeping units. Once inside the building, he can quickly dispatch any forces he encounters with ranged attack or close assaults. However, half of all Americans casualties will be wounded. This means they cannot fight, but have to be extracted along with the hostages. If any wounded get captured, it gives a lot of points to the Iranian player. The American player may also elect to try to negotiate with enemy units to surrender. It can be dangerous though, because if they elect not to they may kill any hostages with them.
After the hostages are secured, the Americans must make their way to any area that a helicopter can land in and wait for extraction. This is when things start getting more dangerous for them. The Iranian will start sending all alert units towards them and make some serious attacks. The CRT is dangerous. Even though the Iranians get negative modifiers, if they attack with 31+ troops they can kill everything in an area on a roll of 6+. To make matters worse, the Iranians get reinforcements the turn after helicopters arrive or on the 10th turn after sentries are alerted.
Helicopters can hold up to 30 Americans and may take off the same turn they are loaded. However, they have to roll to do so and any damage the helicopter has taken adds to the number that must be rolled. Often, more than 30 Americans are in an area awaiting pickup and a second helicopter must come in after the first takes off. This forces the Americans to wait another turn and be subject to more ferocious attacks by the Iranians.
The game ends when all U.S. units have been killed, captured or have left the map. Afterword’s, victory points are tallied to determine the winner.
Every time I played this game, the Americans won. However, they usually lost quite a few troops in the process. This seems reasonable, considering the daring nature of a mission like this. The game is fun to play, but highly abstracted (especially, the area map). However, replayability is limited since it’s difficult for the Iranians to win. Wargamers who enjoy playing microgames or other light wargames will like Raid On Iran as long as they can get over the crude components. However, it probably won’t have enough strategy, complexity or historical accuracy for those who prefer highly detailed big box wargames.
Buy your own copy here.
View the components in the unboxing video below: