Taliban fighters spank Marines and SEALs in the first HAWKs club game of 2015

Buck

For our first club night of 2015, Duncan hosted his WWI version of the battle of Four Corners (Look, Sarge, No Charts: 1914) , and Noah and his son hosted a Sangin (name of the rules) modern Afghanistan skirmish.  I played in the modern game, because I wanted to see how the rules worked.

Setting up the battlefield over a Cigar Box Battles desert map

Setting up the battlefield over a Cigar Box Battles desert map

Noah put together the terrain with Miniature Building Authority Middle East buildings over a Cigar Box Battles mat.  He added some Woodland Scenics trees and a scratch built rocky mountain.  The table looked quite good.

Another view of the initial setup

Another view of the initial setup

We were using the rules called Sangin, which are a set of rules for modern skirmish actions.  I don’t know if they are Afghanistan specific or Southwest Asia general, but there was a lot of detail that gave it an authentic feel.

My mortar team and the rest of my group in their initial positions on a hill overlooking the town

My mortar team and the rest of my group in their initial positions on a hill overlooking the town

Each player had about eight figures, representing a Taliban group or an understrength infantry squad.  I had a mortar team and small group of infantry.

Two of my men manning a recoilless rifle

Two of my men manning a recoilless rifle

The game had a couple of interesting mechanics.  First, figures have a rating, called “body,” which determined the number of phases (and the sequence of activations) within a turn.  All of my figures got four activations in a ten phase turn, but better troops could have activate more frequently and worse units could have activated less frequently.  I have to say that with different figures in the squad activating in different phases, it could get difficult, even with eight figures to keep track of who was supposed to activate when.  Some colored marks or something might have been helpful.

The Marines advance through the trees toward the town

The Marines advance through the trees toward the town

Second, after a figure activated (executing up to three activation points), the figure is marked with a chip that indicates how it ended the activation (e.g., kneeling, hidden, prone, running, etc.).  The markers had the modifiers for the soldier for spotting, shooting, and defensive benefit when a target.  That was quite convenient, but there were a number of additional modifiers that still required the use of the chart card — at least until we get more familiar with the rules.

Chuck's and Kevin's Marines advancing

Chuck’s and Kevin’s Marines advancing

This is the first game I have played in quite some time that used percentile dice.  I always liked percentile dice until I realized that if you have no modifiers less than 5%, you can get the same effect with a d20.  Still, there is an intuitively please aspect to knowing that you have 45% chance of success, which means you have to roll 01 – 45 on percentile dice.  In Sangin, figures each have base percent chances of success for things like shooting, using heavy weapons, spotting, morale, etc.  These base percentages are modified by wounds, cover, posture, etc.  That worked pretty well.

Chuck's squad, having been hammered by RPGs, mortars, and AK-47s

Chuck’s squad, having been hammered by RPGs, mortars, and AK-47s

Another aspect of the rules that will take some getting used to is the ranges.  The burst radii for weapons seemed really large.  They were probably in scale to the scale of the figures without any distortion, but none of us know that when we started.  That meant that grenades had unexpectedly large burst radii and troops were deployed too close together.  In the above picture, you can see a large percentage of Chuck’s squad incapacitated and marked for morale checks (white squares) as a result of a 60mm mortar shell.

Two Navy SEALs that I spanked with a recoilless rifle shot

Two Navy SEALs that I spanked with a recoilless rifle shot

I have to say that in general I like when the ground scale is close to the figure scale.  I took a lot of flack for that over the years with Beer and Pretzels Skirmish where even on a large table figures seldom got beyond medium range.  Keeping your ground scale close to your figure scale also tends to under-represent the value of rifles over submachine guns, pistols, and carbines as well, but somehow it feels better to me.

A view of the center of town that shows the Cigar Box Battles mat

A view of the center of town that shows the Cigar Box Battles mat

In general, there were a lot of things I liked about the rules.  I think I will want to play them a few more times before making any decisions, but I think they have a lot of potential.  I think with more experience using the rules, Sangin will run quickly and play well.  I am looking forward to the next time Noah runs them.

An artsy view of my recoilless rifle team and their SEAL targets

An artsy view of my recoilless rifle team and their SEAL targets

While eight of us were playing Sangin, the rest of the guys were playing Duncan’s WWI Look, Sarge, No Charts variant.

Duncan's WWI version of The Battle of Four Corners

Duncan’s WWI version of The Battle of Four Corners

Another view of Duncan's game

Another view of Duncan’s game

Lots of routing French

Lots of routing French

A final view of Duncan's game

A final view of Duncan’s game

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