Saturday, 7 June 2014

Skirmish Sangin - first game

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.

Each figure has scores for their Body [which determines who goes when] and a range of skills [eg rifle, hand to hand, first aid etc].  Turns are divided into a number of combat phases and characters act in a number of these, depending on their Body score, with higher rated figures going first.

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's important to note who's crouching, standing etc and the game uses counters to mark this.

For the first couple of turns the Taliban stayed out of sight, creeping up into position and using walls to stay hidden. Keith [playing the Taliban] then ran one of his figures over a wall and into a courtyard.  Here we discovered the pitfalls of the turn sequence as the ISAF soldier on the roof above him moved next... a target standing in the open makes an easy target and the Taliban fell, seriously wounded.

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!

Eventually the grenade fire and some lucky rifle fire finished off one of the Taliban squads and we called a halt, assuming the ISAF troops would be able to extricate themselves and  having managed to play through precisely one turn!

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.

The level of factors in spotting, shooting and morale... there are lots of modifiers which can mean turns take a long time to process.  By the end we'd got the hang of this though and it had sped up.

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....   and here...


  1. How about making the troop sheets bigger then laminate them & when required just use a marker to mark C for crawling, P for prone & for Morale, just do roman numerals.
    No markers reqd then n keeps it looking great.

  2. You definitely need to paint multiple figures! The buildings on the board looked great too!

    1. Given the low numbers of figures this could work too...I'm not opposed to using counters but there are just so many of them that are needed.

  3. And a way to recognise your figures.....

    Possibly a number visible on the base will help

    Interesting game, definitely more rpg...not a bad thing

  4. I have played the game twice now. I like a lot of aspects of the game, but activation is hard. If figures within a group have different body scores, it is very difficult to remember who has what numbers and activates when. As Keith Armstrong suggested, perhaps some labels could help.

    1. Agreed Buck. Actually your comment has reminded me that I haven't played this since last June...must dig them out again.

  5. Buck
    You now have the option to group your team, all activating on the lowest body score of that team. Think this was in dispatches 1.
    As for always spotting, if a guy was exchanging fire & didn't move then there is no need to respot, that's the way I play it anyway.