First up, a couple admin notes:
1. We're changing the script. First, I've been using 45 Commando as my unit, and that's a real unit. It happened because I wasn't planning on a campaign and I thought it was cool to throw in, but I'm not a fan of using real units for a lot of reasons, in particular because these brave men (and women? I don't know if the battalion has women or not) are still in harm's way. So, the unit we are following is now a rifle section from 27 Commando, Royal Marines. Second, I'm backing this whole thing up; this started as "Royals in Helmand (Province)" in 2011, but now I've got bigger plans. So this is now 25 Commando, Royal Marines in Parwan Province, May 2002. I plan on following these brave lads through this tour in Afghanistan, then the invasion of Iraq in 2003 against Saddam's troops, then in peace-keeping operations in Basra, Iraq (not sure which year yet), then we'll do Helmand Province in Afghanistan, then maybe look at Libya during the Khaddafi takedown, and maybe even Syria versus ISIS. So we are now in Afghanistan, based out of Bagram Airbase, in 2002.
2. A lot of folks have been asking me what changes I've made to "Five Men At Kursk" to 'modernize' it a bit.
-Overall activation is IGO-UGO. I conduct an opposed D6 roll to see which side will activate first, using modifiers for troop quality and tactical situation. For example, the RMs are +2 due to stronger overall capability facing the Taliban in 2002, but if the Taliban are in a strong ambush position I'll make them +1, 2, or 3, depending on my assessment of how much the situation may be in their favor.
-When it is a side's turn to activate, roll 1D6 per troop, with the normal 5Core activation roll being carried out. The player assigns 'normal,' 'firefights,' and 'scurries' as he sees fit. The opposing player may react during this. When the active player has carried out all activations the other player activates his side the same way.
-Each soldier in good fighting order may act once and react once each turn. Reactions are still limited only to firing. To wit: when it's my turn, I will activate every single one of my men, and every single opposing troop that sees something may react (still only one reaction to each action). Then, when it's the opposing player's activation, he may activate every single troop (even though they reacted during my activation), and every one of my men (in good order that see something) may react.
-Overall, though I haven't codified it, I've made shooting more deadly, particularly for the superior-trained Western forces. So the RMs, under normal conditions, are firing a rifle with 2K 2S. However, I regularly modify this by the quality of the shot. So, if he would start with 2K 2S, but he moves and then he takes a shot at a guy in cover, I might reduce his firing dice to 1K 1S, or even 0K 1S, depending on what I reckon his chances to be. I regularly add firing dice if there are multiple targets in close proximity to each other (if guys are bunched up, I'll add Kill and Shock dice to the shooter).
-For troop states, I think I'm pretty much in line with the rules: good order, pinned, hunkered, and knocked down. Pinned can rally, shoot, or move during his activation, but can't react. Hunkered can rally or shoot but not move, and can't react. Knocked down can't do anything; I don't even give him an activation dice when I'm rolling up for that side's activation. Knocked down can only get back in the fight (or remain knocked down, or put out of the fight) when on the receiving end of a buddy check (i.e., someone moves into base contact to check on him, and he can't act during the activation he gets back in the fight).
-I think that's it, nothing too dramatic, mainly the idea that everyone can act and react once per turn. It really moves the fight along, makes it more violent. In my mind this fits well into the narrative; if you're wondering why supporting fires (air, mortars, and arty) don't play into these fights, it's because they are taking place at very close quarters and are over in a few minutes. I'd reckon the below fight, in real-life terms, was over in about three minutes. So, on to the latest battle.
It's now 24 May 2002*, twelve days since the last fight, and the section is out on a presence patrol, showing the flag and keeping the peace, looking to warm the populace up as the first elections are drawing near. A day that would be known as Black Friday for the Marines of 27 Commando...
*Please mind the time change due to the campaign narrative change.
It's time for the fight; I roll to see who has a initiative...
First game the bad guys have gotten the initiative...
First time a Taliban RPG gunner has gotten a rocket off...
Yes, things aren't going well and I'm trying to pull off some heroics to save the day. Andy is doing pretty well, but then I roll to see if he can throw a grenade up the hill, but he fumbles...
But now the Terrorist atop the hill was aware of Andy's exact whereabouts.
Well, heroics go both ways, I suppose. I rolled to see if the terrorist would maintain position, fall back (due to reasonable suspicion a grenade would soon be coming his way), or move into melee. You see how the dice turned out...
At this point both sides are bloodied and exhausted, neither able to gain the upper hand.
Well, let me first say... ouch. Second, before people start getting on to me: yes, that is not how you cross the canals (or what we call 'linear danger areas'). There are much better, and secure ways, of crossing areas like that, and in real life they wouldn't simply have the whole section moving across at once. But this is a game, so I set the scenarios up where the shooting should start, and this time (perhaps egged on a bit by some hubris from my recent successes) I placed the RMs in a bad way and they paid for it. And pay for it they did...
The good news is there were no KIAs, but the squad was stricken nonetheless. Their fearless leader, Sarge, was severely wounded, as were Andy and Jonesy. All three are being medevacked back to the United Kingdom, where Sarge and Andy will be medically retired due to their injuries. Jonesy will be allowed to remain in the Royal Marines, but will be reassigned to a headquarters element. True was lightly wounded and will return in approximately eight days.
This really hurts as we've only started the campaign, and two stalwarts of the section, Sarge and Jonesy, are gone for good. That leaves only Gimlet, Sparks, and Knocker from the original fight. Gimlet is still out due to his wounds, and Sparks and Knocker haven't been all that effective the past two fights. Things are not looking good for the section; I suppose at this point Knocker is the senior man, so he will turn the SAW over to another Marine and become the acting section leader.
Well, I don't hope you liked it, but I hope you enjoyed the game. I'm caught up, now to get some more fights in this coming weekend.