Musing on fieldCraft, concealment, and tracking in Fogo Cruzado

Fieldcraft, concealment, and tracking were major features of African conflicts. So I though I’d see what that could look like in Fogo Cruzado, my Crossfire variant for the Portuguese Colonial War. The rules are quite complicated and I’m not sure they would survive play testing. None-the-less they provide a starting point. At some point these rules might return to my Fogo Cruzado: Crossfire House Rules for the Portuguese Colonial War or, more likely, appear as a special rule for a specific scenario perhaps “Patrol” or “Search and Destroy”.

Bushman Tracker

Bushman Tracker


Fieldcraft, Concealment and Tracking

Fogo Cruzado introduces fieldcraft to Crossfire including extended concealment rules and tracking.

Five new sneaky actions are available: “Sneak”, “Hide”, “Conceal Trail”, “Track” and “Reorganise”.

New fieldcraft, concealment and tracking rules bring two new types of marker:

  • Sneaker markers (abbreviated to Sneakers) represent sneaking troops. I originally called Sneakers Ghosts but wanted to align the name of the marker with the visibility/concealment mode.
  • Spoor markers (abbreviated to Spoor) represent signs that enemy troops have passed by and are used in tracking.

Sneakers

At any point in time a stand will be in one of three visibility/concealment modes: hidden, sneaking, and revealed. Standard Crossfire has just hidden and revealed (although it isn’t called that). Sneaking is new and enables hidden movement. Usually units will start the game hidden or sneaking and become revealed during the game. But it is also possible for a revealed stand to start sneaking and subsequently hide. The three visibility/concealment modes are represented on the table using troop stands (or not) or Sneakers.

All of this is summarised in the following table:

Visibility/Concealment Mode Represented on table by Becomes Hidden when Becomes Sneaking when Becomes Revealed when
Hidden Nothing as it is hidden deployment Sneak Action All the normal rules for revealing hidden stands apply
Sneaking Sneaker Hide Action See Sneaking to Revealed rule
Revealed Troop stands Sneak Action then Hide Action Sneak Action

A Sneaker might represent:

  • no stands (a dummy Sneaker),
  • a single stand,
  • several stands that all report to the same command stand even though the command stand isn’t present, or
  • a command stand with some or all of its subordinate stands (up to a full combat group).

Each Sneaker should have an ID of some kind so you know which Sneaker represents what troops. A Sneaker available at Deployment is assigned troops before the game starts; a Sneaker created during the game is allocated troops when the Sneaker appears on table.

Real Sneakers represent real troops. Each Real Sneaker can include:

  • Up to a combat group (platoon) of stands all of which are subordinate to the same command stand
  • At most one command stand

Real Sneakers can conduct Move, Hide, Conceal Trail Rally from pin, call in Indirect Fire (if they contain an FO or command team), and RBF actions, but nothing else. All troops represented by a particular real Sneaker act in concert until revealed. Effectively this means they group move and group RBF whilst represented by the Sneaker. A real Sneaker RBFs with 2d6 regardless of the number and type of stands it represents. Stands must be revealed to fire, close combat or any other action not explicitly mentioned above.

In addition to Sneakers representing real stands there are also Dummy Sneakers that do not. Dummy sneakers can be explained as plausible enemy positions, the rumour of enemy, civilians in the combat zone animals, or just unexplained noises in the bush. Dummy Sneakers can conduct Move, Conceal Trail and Rally from pin actions but nothing else.

A pinned Sneaker – whether real or dummy – cannot move. Pinned Sneakers rally on a 4+ but get no modifiers to the roll.

How many Sneakers can you have at the start of the game

By default, at the the start of the game, a side gets two allocated Sneakers for each combat group. An additional Sneaker is allocated for a Company Commander. Finally bonus Sneakers are awarded depending on the ability of the historical troops to conceal their movement.

Number of Sneakers given Number of Combat Groups

Troop Type 1 Combat Group 2 Combat Groups 3 Combat Groups + Company Commander Bonus sneaker allocation
Portuguese: Cazadores, Special Groups, etc 2 5 8 1 per 4 allocated
Angolan Insurgents (MPLA, UPA/FNLA/GRAE, UNITA) 2 5 9 1 per 3 allocated
Elite Portuguese: Fletchas, Commandoes, Paratroopers, Marines 3 6 10 1 per 2 allocated
PAIGC 3 6 10 1 per 2 allocated
FRELIMO 3 6 10 1 per 2 allocated

Examples:

  • A Portuguese Cazadore combat group gets two allocated Sneakers at the start of the game but no bonus Sneakers. Two Cazadore combat groups would have to be present to get a bonus Sneaker making five Sneakers in total.
  • In contrast a Fletcha combat group would get three Sneakers at the start of the game – two allocated and one bonus.

Further Sneakers, in addition to those allocated at the start of the game, can be generated during the game as a result of applying Fieldcraft – see “Sneak” and “Conceal Trail” actions.

Sneaking to Revealed: How Sneakers are revealed

Sneakers are revealed when any of the following happens:

  • The enemy succeeds with RBF against the terrain feature the Sneaker occupies.
  • The enemy scores a suppress or higher on the Sneaker. This can be either phasing or reactive fire.
  • When the owning player chooses, for example, when the player wants the troops to fire.
  • As a result of a successful enemy Tracking roll.

Revealing a Sneaker is not an action and does not attract reactive fire itself, although a moving Sneaker can draw reactive fire. Dummy Sneakers are removed by being revealed.

If a Sneaker representing real stands is revealed in a terrain feature: all the stands it represents are placed in the terrain feature and the Sneaker is removed.

If a Sneaker representing real stands is revealed in the open: A single real stand replaces the Sneaker marker on table. The Sneaker marker is then removed from the table. All other stands are then placed one by one, each must be within one stand width of a previously revealed stand from that Sneaker marker.

Sneaky Actions

Five new actions are available: “Sneak”, “Hide”, “Conceal Trail”, “Track” and “Reorganise”. All are based on a Fieldcraft roll.

“Sneak” Action: When a stand/unit wants to start sneaking

“Sneak” is an action available to hidden and revealed troops. A revealed or hidden on-table “unit” can change to sneaking (i.e. a Sneaker) when all of the these apply:

  • The “unit” comprises a group of stands that can be a Sneaker, e.g. a command stand and his combat group, etc.
  • All stands in the “unit” are outside line of sight to enemy (whether revealed or sneakers)
  • The stands are deployed in a formation that would be legal when a Sneaker is revealed, e.g. in the same terrain feature.
  • It is is stationary for the entire initiative – pretty easy if the unit is already hidden
  • It scores a success on a fieldcraft roll; this is automatically successful for a player that has enough unallocated Sneakers from the beginning of the game

If the fieldcraft roll is successful the “unit” is replaced by one to three markers. The markers are placed on the location of one of the stands. The markers are:

  • Sneakers: A hidden unit that successfully sneaks gets a single Sneaker; the player chooses if this is Real (i.e. includes troops) or a Dummy. A revealed unit that successfully sneaks is replaced by two sneakers – one dummy Sneaker and one Real Sneaker (i.e. with the troops).
  • Spoor: If the fieldcraft roll succeeded with only one Hit then a Spoor marker is also placed.

If the fieldcraft roll is unsuccessful then a Spoor marker is placed in the location of the unit and initiative passes.

Note: Hidden troops do not use Sneakers until they move. This means a defending Sneaker will only appear when some troops move or when the player wants the enemy to think some troops are moving which results in a dummy Sneaker moving.

Note: The “Sneak” action is used to start sneaking. After that the Sneaker uses normal actions.

“Hide” Action: When a sneaking stand/unit wants to hide

Real Sneakers can attempt a “Hide” action. A sneaking unit (i.e. real Sneaker) can go to hidden when all of these apply:

  • The Sneaker is within a terrain feature that allows troops to deploy hidden
  • The Sneaker is outside line of sight of enemy (whether revealed or sneakers)
  • The Sneaker remains stationary for the entire friendly initiative
  • It scores a success on a fieldcraft roll

Upon a successful fieldcraft roll the player with the Sneaker:

  • Leaves the Sneaker marker on table; it can move away in the next friendly initiative
  • Place a spoor marker next to the Sneaker if the fieldcraft roll got only one hit
  • Secretly decides, and notes, whether or not to the leave the troops hidden at the location of the Spoor or keep them with the Sneaker

Failure on the fieldcraft roll means initiative passes.

“Conceal Trail” Action

A player can attempt to conceal the trail of a Sneaker using the fieldcraft ability. On a successful fieldcraft roll for a Sneaker the player adds a second Sneaker. The player decides which troops from the original Sneaker are assigned to each of the Sneakers, in any combination. If the fieldcraft roll got only one hit then place a Spoor next to the original Sneaker.

A Conceal Trail action can also be used to remove a friendly Spoor marker. The stand or Sneaker attempting to remove the spoor must make a successful fieldcraft roll.

With either variation failure on the fieldcraft rolls means initiative shifts.

“Track” Action

Tracking is an action. When a stand is within one base width of Spoor left by the enemy then it can track. A successful tracking roll means the player can reveals the closest enemy Sneaker. Failure means initiative passes. Regardless of the result the Spoor marker is removed from the table.

“Reorganise” Action

When two or more friendly Sneakers are within a stand width, the player can try to reorganise. On a successful fieldcraft role the player can reassign troops between the Sneaker markers. If the fieldcraft roll got only one hit then place a Spoor next to one of the Sneakers. Failure on the fieldcraft rolls means initiative shifts.

Fieldcraft ability

All stands have a Fieldcraft ability. This indicates how good the stand is a both concealment and tracking. Fieldcraft ability ranges from 0d6 (rudimentary) to 3d6 (expert). This is the number of d6 rolled when tracking or hiding. Effectively a stand with 0d6 fieldcraft cannot track or hide.

The “Sneak”, “Hide”, “Conceal Trail”, “Track” and “Reorganise” actions all require a successful fieldcraft roll. Throw the number of dice equal to the fieldcraft ability of the stand. Each dice gets a “Hit” on 5-6. The roll is successful if there is at least one hit. For some actions a single hit often comes with a penalty – a Spoor is placed. Failure means initiative passes.

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