Chris Harrod and Adam Landa played my African Ambush – A Crossfire and Fogo Cruzado Scenario twice in one evening. I’ve already posted their first as Play Test 2. This was their second game of the evening. Of course it is for the Portuguese Colonial War.
Summary: Intense game with thrusts and counter thrusts. Although considerably outnumbered Adam’s Portuguese Commandos successfully ambushed the Insurgent patrol.
We used the same table from Play Test 2. The guys had taken a bit of time to set up the terrain and, given the ambush only uses part of the table, we just reused it.
Chris had the insurgents again. But this time he was the one behing ambushed. Adam put the head of Chris’s column in a wood.
Like Adam in the previous game, Chris trailed his column through terrain providing cover. But, to my eyes, he tried to snake his column out of the ambush zone similar to what I’d done in Play Test 1 of African Ambush.
As in Play Test 2, the ambushed column (insurgent in this case) was in cover the whole way.
As it happened a battle group patrol is quite long and this one stretched through four terrain features – all “woods”.
Once again the ambushed player started with initiative. For Chris the action started at the back of the column.
Chris started to swing the rear of the column to the flank.
He was trying to outflank the Portuguese.
Of course that the head of the column stuck in front of Portuguese guns. And in a mine field. An obvious technique but the first time it was used … the ambusher places a minefield then places the head of the ambushed column inside the minefield. That has gotta hurt. But the outcome, discovering an ambush by stepping on amine, is also quite historical.
Not long after the Portuguese opened fire on the head of the insurgent column. The Portuguese had troops to the front and flank.
Now that Adam had revealed troops Chris began to focus on the government force on the left. To begin with this was just pivoting stands to face the Portuguese threat.
But then insurgents started filtering around behind the Portugueses.
It wasn’t long before the insurgents could get a crossfire going. Five stands had line of sight to the Portuguese target, but only three could join the crossfire because of line of sight limitations between the insurgents.
Three was enough. Suppress then double suppress = kill.
Adam got his revenge on the head of the insurgent column. Suppress then double suppress.
Chris then started using smoke to try and isolate the stands he wanted to pick off. His first attempt wasn’t too successful as Adam had line of fire past the smoke and suppressed and insurgent team trying to close.
Further Portuguese fire got a double suppress = kill. But that Portuguese 60mm mortar team in the middle of the elephant grass must have been feeling pretty nervous.
Chris tried the smoke again and this time placed it more carefully. A team close assaulted and no more 60mm mortar team.
Adam consolidated his remaining forces towards his left centre. And the insurgents followed.
But Chris had left his own mortar team (81mm) isolate and Adam sent troops out to deal with them. And took the game.
Conclusions and observations
This was the third play test of my African Ambush Scenario (1, 2, 3). They have all been experiments as the scenario, and Fogo Cruzado, tries a few new things. Each time the scenario has got better. And each game has been interesting and exciting.
This game was a much more drawn out affair than Play Test 2. Lots of interaction. Lots of tension. Everybody thought it had a good feel. Quite a good game.
I was pleased we tried out the Commando option. The Portuguese were outnumbered two to one but took the day. I’m pleased that it was possible.
I didn’t hammer my draft house rules on the guys. I wanted to see what seemed natural for them. Bazooka teams and on-table mortar teams both came under scrutiny.
The Commandos made much use of the Bazooka stands. But Adam really just used the stands as markers for the associated rifle stand that then benefited from the bonus Bazooka die. From an aesthetic point of view I’d prefer to have them in the firing line, so I’ll say they have to have line of fire to shoot.
We had a discussion about on-table mortar teams but ended up endorsing my house rules. The simple option sees to work for light on-table mortars (up to 60mm), so remain being treated as FOs. The guys automatically treated the heavier on-table mortars as heavy weapons so the complicated option is appropriate here: crew served heavy weapon, can fire over open sites, but is still “indirect” for game purposes, target priorities, limited movement. I think the small stands and big stands can make it obvious which rules apply.
At the start of the game, when he was placing his mortar team, Chris asked about FOs for insurgent mortars. I thought he meant can I have one please, so obliged. But really he was asking should insurgents have FOs at all given their restricted radio comms. I gave him the choice. Which reflects the higher level option, whether insurgents had FOs probably depended on circumstances. I will also have to consider how much pre-planned indirect fire they might have had when in ambush.
In this game I realised I’d based my insurgent HMG on big stands and my Portuguese on small stands. Oooops. I’ll rationalise on stand sizes for HMG for all so there is consistent behaviour. Not sure if small or large.
We played this game twice in an evening and it would be very easy to play it three times. Short, sharp games with lots of excitement. A success. Now I need to have a look at a different scenario. Convoy. Air Assault. Defence of a bridge. Check Point. Attack on isolated post. Medevac. Patrol. Radio Relay. Resupply. Search and Destroy. Are all possibilities. Or another go at Water Party.