I have been using Combat Cards and Crossfire for my 1970's Africa games. However, after playing Chain of Command (CoC) I have been thinking about what is important to me, in gaming at the platoon level. CoC is one of the best sets of rules I have played, but for a club-night game CoC is just too long and hard. Partly this is due the time and the brain-bandwidth I have on weeknights; but it also has to do with my view of simulating platoon-level actions.
My impression of platoon-level skirmishes was that they often lasted no more than twenty minutes before one platoon or another gave way. My concern with CoC is that this little action is taking us three hours at least to play out, or about one sixth of real time.
So I started to ask myself "What game can I play in twenty minutes?" and the answer was to use the semi-boardgame Memoir 44' with my "little friends". Of course it had to be updated a little to Memoir 74'; but Memoir 74 had two other attractive advantages other than speed.
- You can play two games in one night. This means the skirmish can be as unfair as you like, since at the end of the game you are going to cross the table and play it again from the other side. Seeking game balance, wargamers tend to be obsessed with finding the few instances of warfare that were evenly matched, but warfare is rarely so. In fact most actions at the platoon level had to decidedly unfair (or they simply wouldn't have taken place). Removing the need for play-balance removes the need for many rules to a large degree. It also removes the contentious requirement for a points system; instead players can just turn up with whatever they have got painted so far.
- Scenario design. It is really easy to come up with scenario's for Memoir 74', in fact I find I can cook them up as I set up the terrain.
With all that in mind, here is a scenario I devised up in four minutes. It is set in the long suffering imagi-nation of Maroubra. A regular mechanised platoon has been ordered to attack the camp of the Maroubran United Marxist Peoples Squadron or MUMPS.
In the picture below, the regular platoon is seen on the left about to cross the river with a scout car and some Portuguese mercenaries already across. The MUMPS base can be seen on the top left of the picture.
Here is the MUMPs base, protected by a watchtower.
There are a couple of small villages between the river and the MUMPS base
You win Memoir '74 by either killing units, or capturing things, in this case there are three things the regular forces can capture within the base. Below (and directing the fire of an artillery unit) is General Macimbo, President for life of Free Maroubra
The regular government would like to capture and deport this catholic priest, who is lending the MUMPS too much legitimacy.
General Macimbo is to be found in one of the barracks huts.
In another is the third objective: General Macimbo's third wife, Kimba who has some very expensive tastes.
As confirmed Maoists (with the exception of Kimba), the MUMPS know that guerrilla's swim in the sea of the people. There are groups of civilians one in each sector and MUMPs guerrilla's (who count as French Resistance) can deploy out of these civilians unless regular troops are actually in that hex. The right flank has a group of people heading off to work.
The Left flank has farmers working, and some innocent looking children playing... mmm.
The centre has an equally innocent looking market.
MUMPS are not fools and are patrolling around their base in technicals, one on the left flank.
...and another in the centre
While the Portuguese mercenaries scout ahead.
The Maroubran lieutenant has also deployed a sniper along the river's edge.
While the unconcerned locals haggle.
The Maroubran regulars strongest unit is a helicopter gunship manned by more mercenaries who have no ties to the CIA whatsoever..
It is busy buzzing the MUMPS base
Maroubra has been given some M113's. The M113s act as tanks with a strength of two, move three hexes and battle with two dice. They can occupy the same hex as an infantry squad. If the APC is ordered to move, the infantry can move with it for free, but they many not battle if the APC moves more than one hex.
Here is another one.
Here is the Maroubra command car (which can also resupply three time)
This Panhard 60 is used to give the platoon fire-support.
This is an attached squad of engineers already looking for mines,
The platoon on the road
The helicopter gunship in the air
If the MUMPS can cut off the Maroubran regulars line of retreat, they can stop the attack... maybe. There are three oil dumps that will give the MUMPS medals. One in the road...
When (or if) the Maroubran Regular forces get five medals they are in for a nasty surprise. They will arouse the Cuban force from across the northern border. They can come in from anywhere near the MUMPS base. There are two regular squads, two tanks, a command car and a mortar unit.
These are the off-table guerrilla's who enter from the huts in the base, or from amongst the civilians.
Positioned in the base are two special weapons squads with machine guns and RPGs. They are alert...
We played two games in under two hours; the regulars won both, but in both cases found it to hard to even get near the MUMPs base.