How to use Sisal String as Long Grass by Barrie Lovell

Sisal String Grass by Barrie Lovell - Banner

Around 2000 Barrie Lovell published, on the Grunt! website, a tip for adding undergrowth to Crossfire / Incoming! bases. Barrie dyes sisal string and uses this as vegetation. Since Grunt! has disappeared I thought I’d republish the article here. Barrie had in mind Vietnam / Incoming! and World War 2 / Crossfire. But this is a good technique for the Portuguese Colonial War / Fogo Cruzado.

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Steven’s Caçadores for the Portuguese Colonial War

Caçadores Combat Group 1 - Close Up

The Portuguese Light Infantry (Caçadores) were the mainstay of the government forces in the Portuguese Colonial War. Unfortunately their quality varied enormously with the ability of the officers largely influencing the quality of the troops. Both infantry and artillery were organised into temporary Caçadore battalions for service in Africa. Must have been a shock for the specialists who suddenly became riflemen. So far I have a single combat group (i.e. platoon) of Caçadores. More will come.

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Steven’s Special Group for the Portuguese Colonial War

Special Group – Close Up

The Special Groups (Grupos Especiais or GE) were African para-military formations raised in Angola and Mozambique during the Portuguese Colonial War. They had a distinctive black uniform with a colourful beret. The GE were so successful that, in Mozambique, the Portuguese recruited a battalion of Paratrooper Special Groups (Grupos Especiais Pára-quedistas or GEP) from the GE. I have one unit that, with yellow berets, can do double duty as a GE or GEP combat group.

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Steven’s Commandos for the Portuguese Colonial War

Portuguese Commando Combat Group 01 Close Up

I have blogged before about my figures for the Portuguese Colonial War but they were on on individual bases. Now I have rebased for Fogo Cruzado – my period specific variant of Crossfire. That means each base is a fire team. I had to expand the numbers considerably. This week features my commando combat group.

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2016 Confessions of a Megalomaniac Wargamer and Amateur Historian

Confessions of a Megalomaniac Wargamer and Amateur Historian - Banner

It has been a year since my Confessions of a Megalomaniac Wargamer and Amateur Historian so definitely time for the 2016 update. I figured that, by sharing what I’m working on (far too much) and where I was up to with it (not far enough), I’d feel bad enough about my lack of progress to limit my work in progress and get some projects finished. Well, it worked, but only partly. I still worked on seven projects this year and finished none.

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Van Der Waals: Portugual’s War in Angola 1961-1974

Van der Waals Portugals War in Angola

I grab English Language books on the Portuguese Colonial War any time I see them. Mostly they are second hand so imagine my surprise to find a book called “Portugal’s War in Angola 1961-1974” in Foyle’s, my favourite bookstore in the centre of London.

The author, W. S. Van der Waals, is interesting because he had personal experience of Angola during the Portuguese Colonial War. He is a South African combat officer who served as military liaison with the Portuguese authorities in Angola during the war. He also connected to Angola later, during the subsequent Angolan Civil War, when he trained UNITA forces in conventional warfare. And unlike many South Africans VAn der Waals learnt Portuguese. All of which gives him a unique insight into the Portuguese Colonial War.

I’ve taken a few notes from the book to incorporate into my wider material.

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Steven’s Poorly Armed Mob for the Portuguese Colonial War

Poorly Armed Stand

The early part of the Portuguese Colonial War saw a wave of poorly armed UPA men cross the border into Angola and go on the rampage. Cantanas (otherwise known as patangas or machetes), spears and home made guns were used extensively. I like the idea of putting together such a “mob”.

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Challenges of Insurgent Warfare for Crossfire

Portuguese Convoy

My Portuguese Colonial War project has stalled. I’ve got the forces for both insurgents and Portuguese security forces. I’ve got palms for jungle. I should be ready to game but instead I’ve stalled.

My problem is figuring out how to wargame the the common Combat Missions in the Portuguese Colonial War when using Crossfire. Combat missions of a insurgency are different to conventional warfare such as World War II. So, as a step forward I thought I’d jot down my thoughts about these challenges. I’m not trying to solve those problems just articulate them clearly. These problems are probably present in other game systems but the initiative system, with the potential for infinite movement and repeated firing, makes some of these problems more acute in Crossfire.

Although I’ll focus on the Portuguese Colonial War these observations are also relevant for partizan warfare in WW2.

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