Tarnished Gold – Mission 10 – Amber Sword

All sides are exhausted. Thanks to the intelligence we derived from the Special Forces team we extracted, the CDF has managed to pin down the location of the ChDKZ headquarters. We have been tasked to pave the way for a snatch and grab team to finally take the head off the snake.

We head out to our Longbow Apache one more time…

The pilot goes through the engine start quickly…

For this mission we’ll be carrying eight Hellfires, 2.75″ rockets, and a full gun loadout…

We head out to the north with no actual spot on the map to go, but we have a general sense that the HQ must be under the Russian no-fly umbrella. There are a couple ways to approach this mission and some of them are fool’s errands (as I quickly found out). One of them is approaching the airfield from the east and spotting the juicy targets on the airfield. Note in the mission brief we are told to capture the ChDKZ leaders intact and not kill them. Dropping Hellfires on these Mi-8s is satisfying, but doesn’t help achieve your short term objective. Or maybe it does.

With a bit of a learning curve applied, I head to the southwest side of the airfield because that is where our high value targets (the ChDKZ commanders) are located. They are traveling in an unarmored UAZ but the area is well protected. We take up position on high ground west of the airfield and start building the picture. A pair of 2S6 Tunguskas guard the valley south of the airfield and two light platoons (3 vehicles each) of tanks straddle the main road leading north into the depths of the no-fly zone…

After assessing the situation, we go for the obvious targets first – the pair of 2S6 anti-aircraft vehicles. I’ve found the Apache is capable of ripple firing and redesignating targets while the missiles are airborne, so a quick double tap allows for no time for the Tunguskas to fire back…

Immediately after hitting the 2S6 vehicles I order the pilot to retreat over the ridge because all of the T-72s and T-90s open fire and they are fairly accurate with their main gun against a hovering target. I move over a few hundred meters and poke up on the side of the hill and designate the tanks for the next hail of Hellfires. Some of the tanks pop smoke to try to obscure our optics, but it doesn’t work…

The guy in the middle might want to get the hint…

After killing the first three tanks, we switch to the second group of three, but we run out of Hellfires after two are taken out…

With the 2S6s out of action, it is safe to crest the ridgeline and descend into the valley. I lay the cannon on the remaining tank and it takes a couple hundred rounds, but eventually we destroy it…

With the valley cleared of forces we finally spot the moving vehicle blip on the radar and move south down the valley to intercept the UAZ…

Keeping in mind the briefing not to use excessive force, I try sniping the UAZ with just a couple cannon rounds at a time until a round find its way into the UAZ and disables it…

As the UAZ smokes, the occupants jump from the vehicle and start running for woods…

We can’t let them escape, so we set down near the road and do what any self respecting Apache pilot would do – give chase!

We chase them up into the woods – I’m wishing I had an assault rifle instead of this little Berretta, but as we get close they surrender! (I think you can actually do this while IN the helicopter hovering over them..haha..but this was far more exciting!)…

We wait for several minutes and I’m hoping that something is going to happen and I hear a distant motor coming closer. I just hope it isn’t a ChDKZ tank! The sound gets closer and then stops. A few moments later CDF forces emerge from the woods and take possession of our prisoners…

They request an escort to the capitol in Chernogorsk..so we run as fast as we can back to our helicopter…

The truck trundles off down the road toward Chernogorsk and we keep pace and survey the road ahead for hazards…

As we pass through the first town the pilot calls out a helo contact to our left and I swivel the TADS to the left and spot a pair of Mi-8s swooping across the ridgeline to our south. I pull the trigger on the gun and I see a few smoke puffs come off the lead Mi-8 as it takes a couple hits. Moments later it starts a steep descent and plunges into the forest in a huge ball of flame…

Note – it begs the question – if I had killed the two Mi-8s on the ramp at the airport – would these have shown up?

We pass the wreckage and I order the pilot to reverse course because the second Mi-8 has tucked in behind us and I can see tracer rounds whizzing past the cockpit…

We pass head to head and I’m not able to get my gun on him. I’m flying by proxy since I’m giving commands to the pilot, so I’m not able to maneuver fast enough to shake the Mi-8…

I take slight damage in my FCR goes dead. In a flash of brilliance/cowardice, I realize we are very close to my base and I drag the enemy Mi-8 toward it…because I know there is a friendly ZSU-23 guarding our base…

I continue past the base and my speed outpaces the Mi-8..but he continues to come and the trap is set!

We reverse course so I can get my TADS optics on him anticipating having to put my gun on him and then I see the wonderful sight of the ZSU-23 rounds arcing up over the ridgeline toward the Mi-8. He starts to take damage but survives long enough to do a forced landing in a field on the opposite side of the ridge from the Zeus…

The Mi-8 crew and passengers exit the downed bird and make a run for the woods. I feel a bit heartless, but they were just trying to kill me, so I lay down some 30mm and a short burst is all it takes. I leave the helicopter intact for some reason…

I return back to the north and thankfully find the truck intact and still creeping south. In a brilliant mission design, the Mi-8s were supposed to insert troops to ambush the truck and take back their leaders…but my gun acted as a bit of a spoiler…

As the truck continues south I’m once more stunned to see another development – an AN-2 flies across in front of us. In an interesting twist on the mission and mission design, due to the fact that I lured the Mi-8 south toward the ZSU there was a mission consequence that the ZSU also moved north to engage the Mi-8. Due to that movement, the ZSU took a few shots at the AN-2 as he passed in front of us and I didn’t even have time to put my gun on him. What was supposed to happen was the AN-2 was to make a troop drop in front of our advancing truck to set up yet another ambush…

But the presence of the ZSU pulled toward the north forced the AN-2 to circle and do the drop further north after our truck had passed the ambush zone..!

Here you can see the drop occurring after we’ve passed the area…whew!

Five minutes later, the truck finally enters the northern outskirts of Chernogorsk. I’m tense, waiting for a car bomb, or an ambush, or a Su-25 to come up and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory…

With great relief I see the truck pull up in front of the government building. The ChDKZ commanders will now be held accountable for the war they’ve waged…

We head the short distance over to our base..and we are cleared to land one last time…(yes, the gun parks itself in the stowed position prior to touchdown!)

And it is done.

Let me just say – this campaign is epic! The storytelling and mission design are top notch, and the way each mission plays off the next is phenomenally good. Professionally good. I’d put this campaign up against any other I’ve played in my simming career. If the measure of a good campaign is the anticipation one feels between missions, then Tarnished Gold is a masterpiece, because I was actually antsy between missions knowing I had to complete the AAR before moving on to the next part of the story. Each mission had unique challenges and utilized the Arma environment to near the maximum. On call air-strikes, the ability to sometimes control the pace of the mission by controlling the escorted aircraft, refueling, rearming, and all of the little in-mission details are done nearly perfectly.

Is it too hard? Yes, probably. Two of the ten missions are extremely hard. But the campaign is a fantastic mix of game and simulation in that a challenge is thrown down, and you can find a way to win. And as the last mission shows, sometimes you win by thinking outside the box but it doesn’t diminish the accomplishment at all. The testers, mission designers, and everyone who had an input in the writing and scripting of the missions deserves high praise. Someone needs to hire these guys. You could charge $20 easily and make this campaign DLC – that’s how fun it is. I say all that having been through the frustration of coming to grips with the Arma interface and some of the limitations of Arma (limited draw distance and that darn mouse scroll interface), but I had time to do the missions, have fun, and take screens all at once – so it isn’t an impossible learning curve to reasonably master.

Finally – the Apache add-on itself is just a masterpiece. Again, within the bounds of Arma 2, I simply don’t know how Franze and Nodunit did it. Does everything work exactly like the real thing? No, but it is close enough and fun enough. And I had a ton of fun even though the AI was doing most of the driving and I was doing most of the gunning – so once you become familiar with the scroll menu and realize you probably aren’t going to play many of the missions straight through without a load from save, you’ll find yourself embracing the melding of game and simulation. The Arma environment is wonderful for helicopter ops and the very sandbox nature of it is incredibly fulfilling.

I apologize for being so long winded with my comments, but I think I owe it to the guys that put together this package because I want people to download it and play it and appreciate all of the hard work that went into it. Congratulations on an astounding module and I hope BIS calls you to make DLC for them. They should.

Chris “BeachAV8R” Frishmuth

2 comments

  1. Good report-
    Just one minimal detail :P; the Italian handgun is Beretta. One R and two T.

    😀 Apart from this nonsensical thing, awesome writing skill, as always!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *