26 October 2023

The Grumble Hunt - Part 2 - The Game

Well it took a little longer than I expected to be able to finally write up how the game went.  As an added bonus though, I can now also let you know what happened when I ran this at NATCON last weekend.  Both games feel like a long time ago though...

Anyway - the players could set up anywhere on the board, at least 6" back from any Soviet troops or vehicles.  This was their approximate set-up.

As you can see they kept to their original teams and weapons load-outs.  They generally started just over 4" from the paddock edge, well hidden in the scrubland.  They players waited about 3 or 4 turns waiting for the patrolling sentries to get to just the right point.

Here's a few shots of the sentries and motor rifle patrols and MPs
This shot mainly shows the MP "road block".
An overhead shot showing various sentries and patrolling motor rifle troops.  You can see here how difficult it is to take out a sentry or patrol without someone else seeing what just happened.
More of the same
Close up of one of the SAM technicians who drew the lucky straw to guard a TEL this evening/morning.
A lone sentry near the site survey vehicle and back door to the main house.
A long range shot of the sentry at the front of the house and the MP unit on the E6 highway.
2 Motor Rifle troops on patrol near a ZSU-23-4.  These chaps would provide the first real headache for the Special Forces.
Another long range shot, with SAS chaps lurking in the foreground while off in the distance near the barn you can see 2 Motor Rifle troops and you can just see a sentry near one of the dumb TELs.
Final "Sentry Shot" is of a sentry, just before he gets shot!

It all kicked off on the Royal Marine M&AWC side of the paddock, when "Tazzer" attempted to silently take out the 2 Motor Rifle troops (Yuri & Ivan obviously) walking towards him from the ZSU-23-4 pictured above.  Despite complete surprise with his MP5SD, he only managed to take down Yuri, so Ivan immediately fired back - in the general direction of the scrubland, as he couldn't really see where the shots had come from.  The alarm was raised on the first real turn of the SF attempting to do anything.  Not a great start...

Tazzer's squad went into action and started laying down fire, taking down Ivan and killing the sentry who had been guarding the Smart TEL.  As other sentries and patrolling Motor Rifle troops started to react, "Stinky" the sniper also began to fire.  He took down 2 more patrolling troops without breaking a sweat.  Silent but deadly!

Sven grabbed a grenade and started to stalk towards the northernmost ZSU-23-4.  It kicked into life and it's turret started to swing towards where all the shooting was taking place. 
You can see the sentry and motor rifle patrol taken out in the distance

Discretion proved the better part of valour, and Sven stepped back into the scrubland, waiting for a better moment.  "Baz" however, decided it was time to intervene, and picking up his one 66, fired the rocket into the side of the ZSU - knocking it out spectacularly.

Stinky and Baz looking on at what they have just done.
Sven - "I could've done that if they gave me a rocket!"

Meanwhile on the SAS side of the table, the lads carefully and quietly went about their business of taking out the sentries near their dumb TEL targets and began to lay charges on them.  It was quite helpful for every Soviet in the vicinity to be looking at the other side of the field where all hell had broken loose.
Nothing to see here.  Move along...
Me?  Just checking your tyres to make sure you've got no flats!

Trying to emulate the sniper team's success the Marines fired a LAW at the other ZSU-23-4.  Another hit, but after the explosion they could see they had not knocked it out, but its 4 23mm cannons were all pointing in odd directions.  It was basically out of the game too!
We marked it with a special dice to show it's main guns were out of action.

By now the Soviets who had been in the houses working or resting, started to react and those at their duty stations in the vehicles started to pile out to fight off the intruders.  
A couple of grunts leave the barn, with the Battery Commander in the front, trying to see what is going on!

Jumping out of their vehicles didn't always go down so well...

Nor did forming into small isolated teams to take on the Special Forces...
Here some Soviets stumble across the SAS team.  Guess who this ended badly for!

The  BTR-70 crew started up their AFV and manoeuvred to enter the fight.  This earnt them a LAW in the turret which also knocked out their main gun.  The MP's jumped into their UAZ-469, leaving their radio man to contact the QRF and headed into action.
The MPs managed to spot the SAS near the first dumb TEL, but the SAS were quicker to react and "Boss" started popping grenade rounds into them, taking out several.

More Soviets started to hear towards the gunfire
and more
and more

The gunfight between "Boss" and the MPs plus more and more Soviet techs and drivers continues with Sven joining in from long range.  

Some Soviets started to close in on the Marines, who had maintained a steady stream of fire up until this point.  Here NATO forces suffered their first casualty.  "Lobster" took a round from somewhere and went down in a heap.  It was time to relocate, so a couple of smoke grenades got lobbed directly in front of their position and "Florry" checked out "Lobster".  He was dead.  Must have been a round from the QRF BTR's 14.5mm heavy machinegun.  A quick morale check showed that no-one on the team had really liked "Lobster" all that much, so they were happy to carry on and leave his body to the Soviets!  Along with the demo charges set on the Smart TEL that is.
What had been a little bit of a British (and Sven) Turkey Shoot for a while there (although they did get a bit stressed from time to time), had now taken a rather negative turn in the Soviet's favour.  It was time to get serious.
You can see the 2 smoke grenades have gone off just in front of the Marine's position near the smart TEL.  Soviet troops heading off in a flanking manoeuvre are in the foreground. 

And they were now serious, the Special Forces first put a LAW into their primary target - the radar vehicle.  The rocket hit the compartment that housed the crew stations and all the really quite important electronics.  They followed that up by catastrophically destroying the Air Defence Command Post, taking out a couple of the soldiers hiding behind it.

Somehow by this point they also managed to knockout the original BTR-70 they had damaged earlier in the action
You can see it burning centre stage.
And here they have also knocked out a second BTR-70.  So much for the Soviet comeback.

Hang on - what was I saying????

Best random event ever - 2 Mi-24 Hind-D helicopters turn up.  As a random event the helo's were just meant to over-fly the SAM site on their way to somewhere else way more important.  It was meant to be a distraction, so all the guards would look up at them, while the Special Forces snuck about a wee bit more actively for one turn.  However, this had the helo's turn up during the more kinetic part of the mission - in time to see lots of Soviet kit leaping into the air - so I thought it best to give the pilots the opportunity to become involved.

They ended up making 2 passes before the game ended.  On their first attempt neither Hind managed to spot the Special Forces, much to their relief.  They were already on their way off the board and decided that shooting at the helo's would just annoy them more, so why bother.  Keep running and press the remote detonators!

As the two dumb TELs go up, one of the Hinds manages to get a bead on the SAS Team, who are right on the table edge.  A burst of fire and "Boss" goes down.  A quick check and alas he too is dead.  Two casualties in the whole mission and both of them dead.

The NATO forces withdraw from the battlefield.  It will be difficult for them to get back to their helicopter with a couple of Hinds hunting them - but that's another story for another day.

Here's a look at the battlefield from above at the end of the game

And from the sniper team's point-of-view

Although the Smart TEL looks intact, it does have a timed charge on it set to go off just as the air raid comes in.

By my calculations NATO gets 55 victory points and the Soviets get about 32 vps.  So that's a pretty clear victory to NATO.

Interestingly we played the exact same mission at NATCON and although at one point I was thinking NATO has this in the bag, by the end of the game I had captured/killed every one of the Special Forces bar 2 Royal Marines who escaped.  The Soviets got no helo assistance, but managed to overwhelm the spread out Brits one unit at a time.  Each time a Spec Ops trooper went down no-one could get to him to do a First Aid Check, so their firepower just kept getting lower and lower.  When there is a lot of fire coming at you, even if you are using a D12, one bad roll and its all over. 

So that's it for my trip down memory lane playing Force on Force.

I actually have a game of BG: Cold War coming up soon, so I'll be doing another AAR for that when the time comes.  And more besides I hope in between.

Chat to you all soon


02 October 2023

The Grumble Hunt - Part 1 - Background

Well it's been some time since I last posted an After Action Report here.  To scared to look it up to see just how long ago!  Anyway - last weekend I got to play the scenario I had published in Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy Magazine Issue 107.  I played the Soviets guarding an S-300PS (known to NATO as the SA-10 Grumble) battery site in Northern Norway.  I had 5 players - Andrew and his son Alex, Ben, Gareth and Liam - taking on the roles of an SAS patrol, a SAS sniper team, a Royal Marine Mountain & Arctic Warfare Cadre patrol and a Norwegian Home Guard scout. I would play the Soviets.


It’s been 11 days since World War 3 began, and in a series of well-coordinated amphibious and airborne assaults, Soviet forces have side stepped or smashed all serious Norwegian resistance in the north of the country.  Lakselv, and the strategically important Banak Air Station fell quickly.  Now the Soviets are using the air base, which greatly increases their own fighter’s range into Norway and allows Soviet Naval Aviation aircraft to cut across northern Norway as they seek out NATO convoys and the Atlantic Strike Fleet. 

Four days ago a NATO air group attempted to stop air operations out of Banak.  Those that broke through the CAP were quickly engaged by the Soviet long-range air defences.  With no significant SEAD systems currently in the Arctic area, CINCNORTH has decided to use his only available strategic assets to take out the SAM sites immediately prior to another, even larger raid on Banak.

Lucky for Norway, elements of the 22nd SAS’ A Squadron (Mountain Troop) were already in Norway before hostilities broke out, conducting a joint security exercise in Trondheim.  When 3 Commando Brigade deployed, it included  elements of the Royal Marine’s Mountain & Arctic Warfare Cadre.  Normally they play a critical reconnaissance role for the Brigade, but now, along with the SAS squadron they are the only in-theatre NATO assets capable of undertaking this mission.

The mission takes place in the area at the tip of the red arrow.  This map also shows the limit of the Soviet advance through Norway at this date:

The Soviets have deployed two SA-10 battalions, split into four batteries within 20km of Banak, with the primary air search radar and command components within the perimeter of the airfield.  The Marines and SAS operators have been split into four assault teams each lead by a local guide from the Norwegian Home Guard.  They are to raid each site simultaneously.

We'll be focussing on the northernmost battery shown here, along with its proximity to the primary radar and command components at the airfield.

All the SA-10 (S-300) batteries are mobile, however NATO EW and INTEL assets have been constantly tracking their movement and now have a developed an accurate picture of where each battery will spend the “night”.  

Our team was dropped by a helicopter  within 10km of the SAM site, and has moved quietly to the target area on foot.  After crossing the river, they are now lying in the scrubland overlooking the large field which contains the battery.  

This is a satellite view of the battery, annotated to show all the battery elements and surrounding scrubland.  Here is the key to the map:
A - 5N63S Flap Lid B Engagement Radar
B - 5P85S Transporter-Erector-Launcher (smart TEL)
C - 5P85D (dumb TEL)
D - 5P85D (dumb TEL)
E - Air Defence Command Post (a Ural-375A Office Body Truck)
F - 2 x ZSU-23-4
G - Military Police Checkpoint
1-3 - Various civilian structures - farm buildings
4 - Camouflage netted area

It's mid-summer in Norway.  Here in the Arctic Circle, this means the sun doesn't set, so although the mission begins at 3am it's not that dark.  Just for context here is a more modern photo of a couple of guys sitting at the river, probably about 500m from where the battery was situated, at 3am.

Lucky for the NATO troopers, it's lightly raining - so visual ranges are somewhat limited.


Here's how my table compares to the satellite image

It's obviously not exactly the same, but good enough for me!  You can see the boundary between the paddock the battery is situated in, and the scrubland surrounding it.  In reality the scrubland looks more like this google earth image I snapped of the E6 at the battery location.  It's autumn in the picture but I think you get the gist:


Ideally the assaulting teams must now sneak up to each TEL and the Radar Acquisition Vehicle and attach timed demolition charges between the missile tubes or under the radar section.  The figures have enough C4 to deal with any other vehicles the team chooses to target.  All the vehicles on site play a role in making the SAM battery function so anything destroyed is useful, however the TELs and Radar vehicle are the primary targets and must be destroyed.

The assault team must then exfiltrate the site and move to the extraction point for pick up.  If all goes well the emplaced explosives will explode at 3.50am, 15 minutes before the NATO aircraft raiding Banak begin their attack run on the airfield.  

The aim is to achieve all this without firing a shot, however the sites are known to be guarded by Soviet Motor Rifle Infantry and Military Police.  It should be possible to slip past them and execute the mission.  If considered necessary the team may engage the Soviet’s and the British troops have been kitted out with a number of suppressed weapons in addition to their more standard small arms.  


Royal Marine Mountain & Arctic Warfare Cadre  - The Royal Marine M&AWC troop has Normal Supply levels, High Confidence, TQ - D10 and Morale - D10.

Each M&AWC member is also armed with HE grenades, smoke grenades, fighting knife and demolition material. The patrol is made up as follows:

  • Robert "Tazzer" Thopson - Mountain Leader (MP5SD3 & M16A1) 
  • Arthur "Lobster" Neumann - Signaller (M16 & LAW AT Rocket) 
  • Eric "Florry" Higgens - Medic (M16/M203 & LAW AT Rocket) 
  • Armand "Cloggy" Hendriks - Weapons Specialist (L4 LMG)

Special Air Service (SAS) – A Squadron (Mountain Troop) The SAS Patrol has Normal Supply levels, High Confidence, TQ - D12 and Morale - D12.

SAS operators are Stealthy. Each operator is also armed with a suppressed Browning pistol, a LAW AT Rocket, HE grenades, smoke grenades, a fighting knife and demolition material. The patrol is made up as follows:

  • Harry "Boss" Catterall - Patrol Leader (MP5SD3 & CAR-15) 
  • Johnny "Scaley" Anderson - Signaller (M16A1) 
  • Adrian "593" Jones - Medic (M16/M203) 
  • Jimmy "4 Fingers" Robertson - Demolitions Specialist (M16 & M79)

SAS Sniper Team is made up as follows

  • Joel "Stinky" Crownley - Sniper (AW Covert Sniper Rifle & CAR-15)
  • Brian "Baz" Smith - Spotter (M16/M203)

Norwegian Heimevernet (Home Guard) GuideThe Home Guard guide has Normal Supply levels, High Confidence, TQ - D8 and Morale - D10.

"Sven" - Guide (Designated Marksman AG3)

All NATO troops must start the game in the scrubland, but not within 6” of any Soviet equipment or troops.


NATO troops have the initiative for the stealth component of the game and for the first 2 turns if the game turns into a firefight.  From the 3rd turn onward, roll initiative for each side.


Each Soviet soldier/specialist KIA: +0 points
Each Soviet Primary Target with a charge laid/destroyed: +8 points
Each Soviet Secondary Target with a charge laid/destroyed: +5 points
Each Soviet Other Target with a charge laid/destroyed: +2 points
Not a shot fired during entire mission: +10 points
Every Primary Target has a charge laid/destroyed: +10 additional points


It's pretty simple for the Soviets.  Patrol, guard and defend the battery.  Immediately call for reinforcements if attacked.  Defeat any enemy action aggressively allowing the SAM technicians to carry out their primary Air Defence function.


Patrolling GuardsA Motorised Rifle Squad has been assigned to provide a roving patrol for the SAM unit.  The squad has Normal Supply levels, High Confidence TQ - D8 and Morale - D8.  The squad is made up as follows:

8 man Motorised Rifle Squad (7 x AK-74, 1 x RPK-74).  They have left the RPG-7V in their BTR-70.  These guards can be deployed in pairs, anywhere on the table that is not scrubland.

Their BTR-70 is parked within the Batteries confines.  Its 2 crew (gunner and driver) are on board.  They will have to start the BTR-70 to get into any fight.

Military Police - A small Military Police detachment is attached to the S-300 unit for road control.  They have a UAZ-469 MP Jeep and have set up a checkpoint on the E-6 highway.  The MP's have Normal Supply levels, High Confidence TQ - D8 and Morale - D8.

The MP detachment is made up as follows – MP Leader (Makerov & AKS-74U) 3 x MPs (AK-74).  The MPs and the UAZ-469 must be placed on or within 6” of the E-6 Highway.

Air Defence Specialists – Shift 1 There are 12 specialists on duty in the various AD vehicles.  They are currently unarmed by can arm themselves in one turn with AKS-74Us held in each vehicle.  They are working as follows:

5N63S Flap Lid B Engagement Radar - 6 Specialists
5P85S Smart TEL - 2 Specialists
Air Defence Command Post - 4 Specialists

Air Defence Specialists – Shifts 2 and 3 - Three shifts of specialists are required to properly man the site for 24 hours.  Typically that means there is another 24 men off-shift at any one time.  At least 12 of them will be sleeping, whilst the other 12 will be repairing and testing equipment, on guard duty, getting some political training, eating or playing cards.  The off-duty specialists can be situated in any of the structures on the table or in the back of any of the trucks.

Four of the specialists have been given an AK-74 and put on guard duty to support the Motorised Infantry.  All the other men are currently unarmed but can arm themselves in one turn with an AK-74.  The specialist guards must each be placed next to one of the four primary assets.

Drivers and other crew Each unmanned vehicle on site, except any UAZ-469 Jeeps has two drivers/crew dedicated to it.  These must be added to the Soviet’s personnel pool.  1/3 of the drivers and other crew have been given an AK-74 and put on guard duty. 

All the other drivers and crew are currently asleep in any of the structures on the table or in the back of any of the trucks.  They are unarmed. They can arm themselves in one turn with an AK-74.  The driver/crew guards must each be placed next to one of the secondary assets.

The specialists, drivers and other crew have Normal Supply levels, High Confidence TQ - D6 and Morale - D8.


The Battery Quick Reaction Force is based at Banak Air Station.  It can reach the northernmost SAM site within 10 minutes of receiving a distress call.  The QRF has the same stats as the Motorised Rifle Squad patrolling the site.  The QRF is made up as follows:

2 x BTR-70 APCs – each with an 8 man Motorised Rifle Squad (6 x AK-74, 1 x RPK-74 and 1 x RPG-7V).  One squad can replace one AK-74 with a SVD Sniper Rifle if you choose.  The QRF will arrive from the south on the E-6 highway. 

Once the shooting begins, start counting turns.  At the beginning of Turn 4 roll a D6.  On a roll of 5 or more the QRF has arrived.  If the roll is failed, at the beginning of Turn 5 roll a D6.  On a roll of 4 or more the QRF has arrived.  Turn 6 the QRF arrives of a 3+.  Continue rolling each turn until the QRF has arrived or the Assault team has left the table.


Each NATO soldier WIA: +1 point
Each NATO soldier KIA: +3 points
Each NATO soldier captured: +5 points
Each Soviet Primary Target to survive attack: +10 points
Each Soviet Secondary Target to survive attack: +5 points
Each Soviet Other Target to survive attack: +2 points
Guard successfully raises alarm: +5 points
Every Primary Target survives attack: +10 additional points


At the beginning of each turn and anytime a unit fails a reaction test by rolling a 1, draw a random event card.  I'll include these in a later post.

That's it for the preamble - next up will be the actual game itself.