Last week Keith and I played our first game of Skirmish Sangin, the skirmish [..duh!...] level game based in Afghanistan and produced by Radio Dishdash. Both of us had been tempted, separately, at Salute and ended up buying the rules. Could this be an alternative to Force on Force.....
The rules come in a very nice 172 page book or can be bought as a PDF. One of the things that's very noticeable about the rules is the range of troops that it covers and the fact that most of these are non-US troops. The rules include stats for Australian and NZ troops as well as British and the photographs that are used throughout the book are from the MoD. The supplement which has also been produced includes stats for some European troops and Afghan Police etc as well.
The game is aimed at very small-scale games... in the game we played, which is a scenario in the book, there were only 8 figures per side and a lot of detail is needed for each figure. It feels a bit like a cross between a tabletop game and a Role playing game which fits with the authors intentions of emphasising the narrative and story of the game. The game is aimed at 28mm figures but we played with 15mm minis but kept ranges etc the same.
The scenario involves an ISAF patrol which has ended up trapped in the centre of an alleyway with Taliban fighters at either end of the street. The ISAF troops were assumed to be in the best cover possible so were mainly crouching or prone on rooftops in the centre...it's important to note who's crouching, standing etc and the game uses counters to mark this.
One of the other features of the game is that you have to spot each turn, unless your target is in the open so often figures are unable to shoot, especially if targets are behind walls or on higher ground.
Several phases of creeping around, failing to spot and making an occasional shot followed before one of the Taliban who'd made it onto a roof managed to draw a bead on the ISAF Corporal who was hit and seriously wounded. Unlike the earlier Taliban casualty he remained conscious, meaning he had a chance to crawl to cover or perform some self-First Aid, but also that his screams had a negative morale effect on everyone else!
Morale plays a big part in the game... coming under fire, whether it hits or not, will cause a morale test and these can quickly mount up.
Each ISAF squad contained a Grenadier with an attached underslung grenade launcher and these proved very effective although we discovered that there is a very large 'Wound Zone' where shrapnel fragments can hit anyone...thank goodness for body armour!
So, does the game make a good alternative to Force on Force??
The spotting rules make a lot of sense... just because you were able to see a target a few seconds ago doesn't mean they'll sit still and wait for you to take a pot shot.
The morale rules feel right... even coming under inaccurate fire must be pretty terrifying so the mounting morale factors force troops to become pinned down or retire quite regularly unless they can stay in cover.
The small scale... increasingly I find I really like games with only a handful of figures [...and not just because I'm a skinflint!]
The rules succeed in their aim of providing a game with a real story to it
The reliance on counters is bound to be a turn-off for some players. Counters are needed to show Morale effects but also whether you're prone or kneeling or even if you're walking, running or crawling [we didn't use these ones]. Counters can be downloaded and I'd laminated there and they were a bugger to pick up! If a figure is prone, crawling and has been under fire they could be buried under a pile of counters.
There are lots of additional rules which we didn't get into including heavy weapons, vehicles etc and it would be good to try it again and add some of these in. Overall I think the verdict could be summed up as...hmmmm.....
I think we both enjoyed them and can see some real potential for Afghan games. If we could speed things up a bit [which may be down to us rather than the rules] and maybe find a way to reduce the reliance on counters they could be really good. Of course as there were only 8 figures per side in this game it wouldn't be unfeasible to have a standing, kneeling and prone figure for each man which would help.
Definitely worth checking out if modern games are your thing though.
More info can be found here.... http://www.radiodishdash.co.uk/ and here... http://skirmishsangin.blogspot.co.nz/