Chris Harrod and Adam Landa came over to experiment with my Ambushed Patrol – A Crossfire and Fogo Cruzado Scenario. So, for a few hours, we went back to the bush in the Portuguese Colonial War. It was an experiment and we learnt a bunch of things.
Summary: Short and brutal game. Adam’s Portuguese successfully fought their way out of the ambush.
The guys set up the terrain. They followed my guidelines and just threw terrain templates onto the table and added vegetation.
I quite like the look of the table. However my wife said “Nice table. Just like a desert.” Hmm, mutter. I guess it is the palm trees on arid table that did it. Next time we’ll have more green. I’ll have to get out my Grass Tufts from my Fairy Door Grass Mats.
I used a couple of Ukrainian houses for Portuguese farm houses. They looked the part but I will see if I can get something more authentic. And I still have to scratch build some African style huts.
We rolled randomly for the Ambush Location (shown by the flag). It could have been in one of the 16 grid sectors.
Chris, as ambusher, picked a second, adjacent sector. The two became his deployment zone. We agreed that any features partially in either sector where legitimate locations for the ambusher – the entire terrain feature not just the bit in the chose sectors.
Then we numbered the possible deployment locations. We used Numbered Terrain Markers. Chris then plotted his deployment.
One of the things I like about scenario design is that players can surprise me. In the African Ambush game I played with Jamie, Jamie deployed the head of my patrol in the open and deployed the rest of my patrol away from the insurgents. Chris and Adam did it different.
Chris placed the head of Adam’s Portuguese column in cover. Elephant grass as it happens.
And Adam then put his patrol right through as many insurgent held terrain features as he could.
One of the advantages of Adam’s deployment was that his entire patrol was in cover.
Now that was going to be interesting.
Given the Portuguese were already in Insurgent held terrain, we placed the co-existing insurgent troops on table at the beginning of the game. The ambush was going to happen at point blank range.
The scenario gives the ambushed side the first initiative. This is to give them a chance to spot the ambush before it is triggered. Adam exploited that opportunity quite nicely. He counter-attacked before any shots were fired. He started moving stands into contact.
But, after doing the numbers, he realised that the odds were not in his favour. Portuguese battle rifle team supported by a nearby command team versus HMG supported by a assault rifle team. No bonuses either way. So Adam decided not to conduct the close combat.
The small movements by the Portuguese brought more insurgents into the fray. Chris deployed a nearby squad (two teams) to give reactive fire. But the short distance between the protagonists meant that there were actually few open lines of fire. Most were blocked by friends. So more insurgents did not mean noticeably more fire power.
So Adam did the heroic Iberian thing … the Portuguese captain led a heroic charge. Okay, he had to Retreat move out of the terrain feature he was in first. Which was facilitated by his immediate opponents being NO FIRE and any Reactive Fire from enemy further away was blocked by those nearby. After the Retreat Move the Portuguese Command Team charged the Insurgent team on the end of the line.
The Portuguese captain was successful.
So the captain went in again. Another success.
And again. Three in a row. Hat trick. Game over.
Conclusions and observations
The game lasted only one initiative (Portuguese) but there was a lot of action and interaction. It was surprisingly tense. The Portuguese seemed in a terrible position at the start but through a bit of heroics, and favourable dice (good Portuguese dice; terrible Insurgent dice), managed to take the day. The game felt appropriately heroic and fit with Portuguese attitude and tactics i.e. charge to contact led by brave officers. Macho, macho man.
We debated the merits of letting the ambushed player take first initiative. Chris and Adam saw the logic, i.e. a chance to spot the insurgents before the firing started, but wondered if the ambushed player had too much discretion in what they could actually do. Something to mull on.
The close range of the ambush ended up benefiting the Portuguese more than the Insurgents. They had very little distance to charge, in cover, and once the nearby enemy was NO FIRE they out of Line of Fire from enemy further away. In hindsight I think Chris’s insurgents should have got a benefit ambushing at point blank range. The closest thing is “Ambush Fire” (CF6.10, p.12). This gives a 1d6 bonus in Reactive Fire when the enemy enters a terrain feature with squads lying in ambush. Adam was already in the terrain feature when the game started but had, presumably, just entered. Something to think about.
The guys liked the fact that kills in close combat were worth more victory points than those inflicted from a distance. This reflects the possibility to capture an “tongue”.
All in all, a great experiment.