Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Scouting Patrol

Savage brought snacks

Savage discovered that great English contribution to the culinary galaxy during my stag and has been making his own efforts ever since. Terribly, terribly addictive and massively bad for you. But rather delicious.

EDIT: In response to a curious email, I can confirm that these are home-made pork scratching. CK

This was an unusual scenario - a small three man scouting patrol has been despatched to recce a position ahead of the battle group. Infra-red has shown there to be a number of heat sources ahead, but haven't been able to determine what they are. The job is to get in close enough to work out what's ahead, then get back to base with that information. The patrol leader was given a few minutes to study the terrain, draw a sketch map and brief the other men.  

The lads set out, we used the little cubes to mark posture (prone, wounded, dead, etc). 

The rules were Savage World with a few tweaks for our Cold War London's Calling setting. There was a bit of debate in the group, the patrol leader, Corporal E, emphasised that avoiding contact was vital and there was a stern telling off when it was discovered that Private Gorman had brought a LAW with him, "just in case."

The chaps tip toe through the trees, moving in tactical bounds, with men on overwatch. I was so proud when they started doing that, I wasn't sure they had been paying attention. 

A Russian Motor Rifleman spotted, staying in out of the rain. It may not be absolutely clear from the photographs, but it's night time, it's a bit parky and the rain is really coming down. 

Bloody rain

Private Savage and Corporal E make it clear to Private Gorman that they are not going to shoot him. The Patrol swings wide to give him as wide a berth as possible. One thing that did strike me was the use of Sneaking rolls. We used a sneak roll for every tactical bound, that might have been too many, but I need to think about this more. Longer bounds mean that the player character is more committed to the action, that is he can't creep forward inch by inch, which slows the game down rather badly. Shorter bounds allow the character to be more cautious, but at the expence of making more rolls. I'm in two minds about it. 

The patrol send a scout across the road to check the ground ahead and then the other two cross in a body, while the patrol leader keeps an eye on the Soviet sentry with his SUSAT. 

Leaving Privates Gorman and Savage to cover his retreat to the RV, Corporal E moves forward in the darkness. 

While rooting through Savage's dice we discovered something rather fishy. 

Rather fishy indeed.

Corporal E spots a Soviet T-72 and some crew. He thinks to himself, the Soviet T-72 is a herd animal and rarely travels alone. 

While crawling to get a better view, he spots another Soviet sentry. Does he push his luck and try to get to the other side of the ridge?

He does and finds a (for game reasons, somewhat circumscribed) Soviet Tank laager.  

Corporal E gives the British army standard hand signal for "Oh what a lot of tanks I can see."

"I wonder."

At this point there is an argument between Privates Gorman and Savage. Gorman is of the opinion that he brought the LAW and it would be silly to carry it back. 

"You make a good point" opines Savage. 

"But of course, wouldn't it be better to steal a tank?" 
"I will kill you," interjects Corporal E. 

"But do I know how to drive a Russian tank? Of course, we'd need to operate the gun, so we can shoot the other tanks..." 

"Russian's do it, how hard can it be?" 
"Savage, Russians put the first man in space. You'd be surprised." 

"Well, we'll never do it with that attitude."
"I will kill you."

"You make a fair point."

Having accomplished their mission, the boys scarper back to the CHQ.

This was a bit of a bodge of a scenario as it wasn't the scenario that I wanted to run, the idea was to run a recce patrol followed by a fighting patrol, so that the players could put together a section attack with information that they had got for themselves.  It came off in about forty five minutes.   I think the Sneaking and Notice rules held up, though I think I'll need to articulate them a little more clearly. 

Over the Hills and Far Away

One comment that Corporal E made was that while it worked well as a wargame, roleplayers send to want a  little more incident in their games. I've put together a short series of incidents culled from memoirs and other sources, including the memorable anti-tank mine incident from "The Memoirs of Rifleman Bowlby" and the obligatory nocturnal encounter with a cat. I'll run the same scenario with some gamers who aren't quite so used to me and see how we get on. This is definitely a scenario that needs some cold playtesting. 


  1. Your "fishy die" is a standard "Averaging Die". It is a 6-sided die numbered 2,3,3,4,4,5 and is used in many wargames.

    I use lots of them.

    -- Jeff

    1. See! It's a standard die! Used worldwide for all sorts of things, I imagine. Probably more likely to be found in the collections of cultured, sensitive handsome people with great personal grooming.

      You roll a fistfull of GW die, proven to roll a statistical unlikelyhood of 1's, it's all part of the plan. You roll one Averaging Die, and everybody loses their minds!

    2. Average dice (a.k.a. D5) were a dire conspiracy promulgated by the Wargames Recking Grew. To some number you derived from adding and subtracting various factors that might impact on a unit - such as whether they had beef stew for supper last night (+3) and whether it had been bull (-2) and its flavour somewhat overladen with high explosive (-7) - to that number you added the score on a green D5, and subtracted the score on a red one. Since I found after several years of D5 rolling the mean score was -2, I have ever since concluded that D5s were invented to piss me off.

  2. There is an infamousthe encounter with a random bull that happened in late 1944 in NW Europe. An enterprising British infantryman dispatched it with a PIAT! Perhaps you can add something similar besides the random cat.......

    1. A PIAT you say...

      ...anything you do with one of those you can do with a Charlie G!

    2. What's a charlie G? And did the PIAT affect the flavour of the bull stew that the lads enjoyed for supper?

    3. A Charlie G is a 84mm anti-tank rocket.

      As for the second question, I suspect that's one for a peculiarly interesting episode of "Jamie's Thirty Minute Meals."

  3. With that terrain mat and the subject of the scenario, one could call it a Tiptoe Through the Tulips (tee-hee!)

    1. Mrs Kinch wishes me to inform you that you are the cleverest person here.

  4. Jeff beat me to it. Was a day you couldn't play proper ancients without a couple.

    Pork Scratching? Assuming its not something a pig scratched up from the ground, it must similar to Scrunchions which I thought only existed in Newfoundland. I was trapped once by my mother in law and forced to eat some out of politeness along with salt cod.

    Pity none of the scouts adapted their camouflage to match the surrounding terrain.

    1. Another communiqué from Mrs Kinch.

      "Insult my tablecloth again and I will cut you.

      Also, love to Hector."

  5. "Russians do hard can it be?" Marvellous stuff. You do need to co-ordinate the camouflage smocks of the figures to the local terrain conditions, however. Soviet Motor Rifle infantrymen would be practically invisible in camo smocks of bright orange and pink tulips....

    1. Underestimating Johnny Russian rarely ends well.

  6. The Coporal E and Savage exchange is marvellous! In the current parlance, I am 'Lolling'!

    1. In many ways its the same conversation they've been having for 30 years.

    2. I'm beginning to think that he doesn't take my murder threats seriously any more. I may have to actually kill him to get the message across.

    3. If you strike me down now... will be a cheap funeral.

  7. I'm still waiting for uniform camo that matches the ground cover.


  8. Pork scratchings fall neatly into one of the four food groups for men, namely :
    Beer, Includes anything alcoholic except boot polish)
    Chips, Anything crispy and chip-shaped)
    Pie, (Anything with a crust and filling)
    Everything else is Garnish!

    Kind regards, Chris.