African Ambush 3 – A Crossfire and Fogo Cruzado Battle Report

Chris Harrod and Adam Landa played my Ambushed Patrol – 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.


The Table

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.

PCWA761 Table - the setting for Ambushed Patrol

PCWA761 Table – the setting for Ambushed Patrol


Insurgent Deployment

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.

PCWA788 Head of column

PCWA788 Head of column

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.

PCWA787 Insurgent patrol enters ambush zone

PCWA787 Insurgent patrol enters ambush zone

As in Play Test 2, the ambushed column (insurgent in this case) was in cover the whole way.

PCWA785 Insurgent patrol

PCWA785 Insurgent patrol

As it happened a battle group patrol is quite long and this one stretched through four terrain features – all “woods”.

PCWA786 Insurgent patrol

PCWA786 Insurgent patrol


The game

Once again the ambushed player started with initiative. For Chris the action started at the back of the column.

PCWA789 Rear of column pulls back

PCWA789 Rear of column pulls back

Chris started to swing the rear of the column to the flank.

PCWA791 Chris swings his tail around

PCWA791 Chris swings his tail around

He was trying to outflank the Portuguese.

PCWA792 Insurgents try to outflank the Portuguese

PCWA792 Insurgents try 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.

PCWA794 Head of insurgent column still stuck in minefield

PCWA794 Head of insurgent column still stuck in minefield

Not long after the Portuguese opened fire on the head of the insurgent column. The Portuguese had troops to the front and flank.

PCWA795 Portuguese open up

PCWA795 Portuguese open up

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.

PCWA796 Insurgents focus on Portuguese left

PCWA796 Insurgents focus on Portuguese left

But then insurgents started filtering around behind the Portugueses.

PCWA797 Insurgents swing around Portuguese left

PCWA797 Insurgents swing around Portuguese left

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.

PCWA798 One big crossfire

PCWA798 One big crossfire

Three was enough. Suppress then double suppress = kill.

PCWA799 One big hurt on the Portuguese

PCWA799 One big hurt on the Portuguese

Adam got his revenge on the head of the insurgent column. Suppress then double suppress.

PCWA800 But Portuguese dish out some hurt in the centre as well

PCWA800 But Portuguese dish out some hurt in the centre as well

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.

PCWA802 Chris tries to use smoke to isolate the Portuguese left

PCWA802 Chris tries to use smoke to isolate the Portuguese left

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.

PCWA803 But Portuguese fire prevents the insurgents closing

PCWA803 But Portuguese fire prevents the insurgents closing

Chris tried the smoke again and this time placed it more carefully. A team close assaulted and no more 60mm mortar team.

PCWA804 But the smoke trick works the second time

PCWA804 But the smoke trick works the second time

Adam consolidated his remaining forces towards his left centre. And the insurgents followed.

PCWA805 Portuguese withdraw and Insurgents follow

PCWA805 Portuguese withdraw and Insurgents follow

But Chris had left his own mortar team (81mm) isolate and Adam sent troops out to deal with them. And took the game.

PCWA806 Portuguese snap up some unescorted support troops

PCWA806 Portuguese snap up some unescorted support troops


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.

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