African Ambush – A Crossfire and Fogo Cruzado Scenario

An armed patrol walks into an ambush somewhere in Portuguese Africa. The action starts seconds before the bullets fly. Will the unsuspecting targets spot the danger before it is too late? This is a Crossfire/Fogo Cruzado scenario for the Portuguese Colonial War. The scenario uses a cinematic premise, i.e. start the action when there is action.


Mission

Setting: Portuguese Africa; 1961-1974

One side has set up an ambush and an unsuspecting enemy combat group walks into it. Both sides aim to inflict more casualties than they suffer.


Game set up

Before the game starts you must:

  1. Place terrain
  2. Decide who ambushes
  3. Determinate ambush location
  4. Determine ambusher deployment zone
  5. Deploy ambusher minefield
  6. Deploy ambusher hidden
  7. Deploy head of ambushed column
  8. Deploy ambushed column
  9. Give initiative to ambushed player

Place terrain

The 4′ x 4′ table is divided into a grid with 16 equal sized grid sectors (each 12″ x 12″). Place 30-50 terrain features on the table. The only constraint is that every grid sector on table must have some terrain that provides cover.

You can choose and place the terrain any way you want, for example:

  • One player places the terrain
  • Both players place terrain
  • Place the terrain randomly
  • Throw terrain roughly on table until you’ve got a high enough terrain density

The photo is just an example from our African Ambush – Scenario Design Experiment for Crossfire and Fogo Cruzado. I think there were about 30 terrain pieces, so at the bottom end of the 30-50 terrain features, but it looks about right.

PCWA01 African Ambush Table

PCWA01 African Ambush Table

Decide who ambushes

To determine who is in ambush and who is being ambushed each side rolls 1d6. The higher score – Insurgent or Government – is the ambusher. Re-roll a draw.

Determine ambush location

Roll randomly to determine the table sector in which the ambush takes place – this is a “ambush location”. The illustrations shows which grid the dice are indicating. Use two dice, one for each side of the table.

Ambush Patrol Table

Ambush Patrol Table

Example: The first die is a 3 and the second die is 6 so the ambush location is grid sector 14.

Numbered Terrain

Determine ambusher deployment zone

The ambusher deployment zone includes:

  1. the ambush location
  2. one adjacent grid sector of the ambusher’s choice, it can be diagonally adjacent
  3. any area terrain features that are even partially within those grid sectors

Put Numbered Terrain Markers on all features in the ambusher deployment area. This is the facilitate Hidden Deployment.

Deploy ambusher minefield

The ambusher can choose to take a minefield. If they take a minefield:

  • they lose one rifle team, scout/sentry, on-table mortar team, or bazooka team from their force (this stand is not considered losses)
  • plot the minefield’s deployment; the minefield is visible if on a macadamised road otherwise hidden

Deploy ambusher hidden

The ambusher plots Hidden Deployment for all his troops using the Numbered Terrain Markers.

Deploy head of ambushed column

The ambushed player gives the ambusher one stand/sneaker. This stand is the head of the ambushed column.

The ambusher places the head of the ambushed column any where they want inside the ambush location. It can be in cover or in the open. Presumably it will be within sight of a lot of ambushers.

The ambushed player can choose the direct the head of the column is facing.

Deploy ambushed column

The ambushed player places all other ambushed stands in one long single file column with at most a stand width between stands of the column. Ambushed stands deploy visible.

Give initiative to ambushed player

The ambushed player starts with initiative. However there are two actions they can do in their first initiative:

  1. Move the head of the column
  2. Spot with any troops (use Recon by Fire rules)

Portuguese Player

Objective

Inflict insurgent casualties.

Forces Available

A Light Infantry (Caçadores) Combat Group.

Light Infantry (Caçadores) Combat Group

  • 1 x Combat Group Command Team (+1)
  • 1 x Group 2-in-C Commander (+1)
  • 1 x Combat Group Support Section
    • 1 x Bazooka Team
    • 1 x MMG Team
    • 1 x On-table 60mm Mortar Team [12 FM]
  • 3 x Sections
    • 1 x Battle Rifle Team
    • 1 x Battle Rifle + LMG Team
  • 0-1 x Minefield [only if the ambusher]
  • Morale: Regular
  • Command and Control: Poor
  • Reckless

Deployment

See game set up.

Reinforcements

None.


Insurgent Player

Objective

Inflict Portuguese casualties.

Forces Available

A combat group sized force of reasonably competent insurgents.

Insurgent Group

  • 1 x Group Commander (+1)
  • 1 x Political Commissar (+2/+3 1) or Group 2-in-C Commander (+1)
  • 1 x MMG Team
  • 1 x On-table 81mm Mortar Team [12 FM]
  • 3 x Sections
    • 1 x Assault Rifle + LMG Team
    • 1 x Assault Rifle + RPG Team
  • 0-1 x Minefield [only if the ambusher]
  • Morale: Regular
  • Command and Control: Poor

Notes:
(1) A Commander with special abilities. The Commissar provides a +2 modifier in all close combats in which it is involved and provides +3 rally modifier when helping any Communist stands to rally. However, if a 1 is rolled during a rally attempt by a Commissar the failing stand’s state becomes one step worse, i.e. a pinned stand becomes suppressed and a suppressed stand becomes killed.

Deployment

See game set up.

Reinforcements

None.


Victory Conditions

Casualty (AD) objectives.

Each side gets victory points (VP) for destroying enemy:

+2 VP for each enemy stand killed in a Close Combat action (the assumption is a prisoner is taken)
+1 VP for each enemy stand killed in a Fire action (including Direct Fire, Indirect Fire, Reactive Fire)

The game ends immediately when the moving clock reaches 30 minutes or one side has gains both:

  • 5 or more VP
  • 3 more VP than their opponent

Fogo Cruzado Rules

A short reminder of the key rules from Fogo Cruzado: Crossfire House Rules for the Portuguese Colonial War:

Terrain

  • Long Grass / Elephant Grass: Treat as an in season field so block LOS, provide protective cover to direct fire but not indirect fire

Troops

  • Insurgent Assault Rifle and RPG Team: a normal Crossfire Rifle Squad however will benefit from anti-tank capability as well.
  • Portuguese Bazooka Team: Must be attached to an infantry combat group and must be attached (within 1 base width) to one of the rifle team from the combat group at all times. Counts as a heavy weapon in melee. Can fire in one of two ways: (1) add 1d6 fire dice to the direct fire of rifle team it is attached to; (2) the stand may fire in the anti-armour role using the normal anti-tank fire rules.
  • Scout (or Sentry) Team: Shoot with 2d6 into the open / 1d6 into cover. Can only initiate close combat with another Scout or Sentry and fight in close combat with a -2 modifier. Scouts are likely to have Tracker ability.

Command stands

  • Command Team: Adds bonus to Close Combat/Rally. Has a bonus Rally of +1. Allowed close combat and direct fire actions. Can act as an FO for any indirect fire or air assets.
  • Commander: Cannot close combat except by supporting other teams. Cannot shoot. Adds bonus to Close Combat/Rally.
  • Political Commissar: A Commander with special abilities. The Commissar provides a +2 modifier in all close combats in which it is involved and provides +3 rally modifier when helping any Communist stands to rally. However, if a 1 is rolled during a rally attempt by a Commissar the failing stand’s state becomes one step worse, i.e. a pinned stand becomes suppressed and a suppressed stand becomes killed.
  • In the absence of a command stand, a rifle team can satisfying Command & Control movement restrictions if it has line of sight to the other rifle team of same squad; attached Bazooka teams can move with the rifle team they are attached to

Troop characteristics

  • Timid: stand won’t initiate close combat
  • Reckless: Some troops liked to close with the enemy and are classified as Reckless like WW2 Russians and Japanese.
  • Untrained aka Armed Civilians: Cannot ground hug and conduct a crossfire. Must reactive fire if they have the option; The player can choose for another stand or stands to take the reactive shot but somebody is going to shoot if an armed civilian could. Likely to be Green.

HTD Special Rule 5: Bogging down is in use

  • Difficult going includes woods, rough ground, rock fields, boulder fields, streams, and anti-tank obstacles (ditches, barricades) that is also off road
  • Off road vehicles bog down in difficult going on 2- on 1d6. They unbog on 3+, becoming permanently mired on 1.
  • On road vehicles bog down in difficult going on 5- on 1d6. They unbog on 3+, becoming permanently mired on 2-.
  • On road vehicles bog down off road, and in the open, on 4- on 1d6. They unbog on 5+, becoming permanently mired on 1.

On-table mortars:

  • Small mortars (50-60mm) are treated exactly like FO stands
  • larger mortars (over 60mm) are
    • Can have an FO and/or act as their own FO
    • Are subject to the direct fire target proximity and target priority rules when acting as their own FO
    • Have a minimum range; mortars may not fire at targets closer to themselves than the width, in squad stands, of their smoke pattern.
    • Move like IG and ATG: one move action when man handling; three move actions when “limbered” with a tow
    • In close combat count as crew served heavy weapon i.e. -2
    • Arc of fire like other crew served heavy weapons i.e. +/- 45 degrees
    • Otherwise normal indirect fire weapon runes apply: Even when firing over open sights on-table mortars use indirect fire mechanisms; expend Fire Missions (FM) normally; fire once per initiative phase; may not perform reactive fire; do not lose initiative if they fail to hit

Scenario Special Rules

  • HTD Special Rule 4: The Moving Clock is in use. The scenario lasts 30 minutes and the clock advances 5 minutes on 5+ at the end of each defender initiative.
  • HTD Special Rule 1: Night fighting is in use during between 2400 and 0500 hours. Stands are limited to one move action per initiative. A stand that is in cover and has not yet fired during the scenario may not be fired at, except form within the same terrain feature. A stand in the open is fired at normally. All stands get the direct fire cover bonus, regardless of where they are located.

Weapon stats

Type When ARM ACC PEN MG HE/EFF Smoke HD Spd CC Comment
RPG or Bazooka -1 +2 0

Notes

Could make both Caçadores and Insurgents Green. Change both to retain balance.

Can substitute a Portuguese Commando (Comando) patrol for the Light Infantry (Caçadores). Smaller but meaner. The Commandos were one of the Intervention units (unidades de intervenção) and had a fondness for taking heavy weapons on patrol with them.

Commando (Comando) Combat Group on Patrol

  • 1 x Command Team (+2)
  • 1 x Commander (+1)
  • 1 x Scout Team [RBF on 5+]
  • 3 x Battle Rifle + LMG Teams
  • 2 x RPG Teams
  • 3 x On-table 60mm Mortar team [12 FM]
  • Morale: Veteran
  • Command and Control: Good
  • Reckless

References

None

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