These rules are designed to simulate an attacker's sending a few men ahead at night to scout the enemy front line by stealth, looking for hidden enemies, in advance of an attack to go ahead the following dawn. Sydney Jary M.C. did this a lot, as he writes in his book 18 Platoon. He writes that this was common British practice, but Germans very seldom did it. He was a platoon commander, and would take his section commanders with him to do the scouting. More major scouting missions could be played like "Reconnaissance before Portecovo" in Hit the Dirt (see here for suggestions on this scenario).
S1. SETTING UP
S1.1 Deployment. At the start of the game, the terrain is deployed, and the defender deploys troops hidden. He may not deploy in any terrain feature which touches the attacker's table edge. These rules assume that the enemy is not entirely awake and keenly peering into the darkness, but has instead put a man or two from each unit on sentry duty.
S1.2 Time. The scouts have three hours to scout. The moving clock is used. A moving clock roll is 4+ to move the clock forward 20 minutes. They must get back to their own table edge by the deadline, in order to make reports at the officers' briefing meeting in time for the main attack.
S1.3 Figures. The scouts are represented by the officer figures of the units that will take place in the main battle. Typically, scouts will be teams of three single-based figures (such as PCs) and each team of scouts will have a scout leader (represented by the CC, perhaps).
It is dark, and the enemy is well-deployed in fox-holes, using camouflage nets etc., so to see the enemy, a scout must be right next to the terrain feature/area of open ground.
When testing to see if an area is occupied, a scout moves adjacent to it, and announces his roll to scout. A scout may only attempt to scout an area once. If he finds nothing, and the scouting player wants to be sure, then he must bring up a second scout to that place to get another spotting roll. Two opposed rolls are made, one for the scout to see if he spots, and one for the sentry, to see if he spots. For each opposed roll, both roll 1d6, and apply the following factors:
-1 green, +1 veteran, +1 special training, -1 foe in cover.
Special training might be for night-trained troops, specialist scouting units, and famously stealthy troops such as Ghurkas.
If the spotter rolls higher, he spots, if lower or equal, he fails. Regardless of the result, a clock roll is made to see how long this process took. There are four possibilities:
S2.1.1 Scout spots, sentry fails to spot. The defenders in that place are revealed. If there are no troops there, the defender declares this.
S2.1.2 Scout spots, sentry spots. The defenders may fire. If the scout survives, the defenders are revealed. They are also revealed if the scout leader has LOS to them.
S2.1.3 Scout fails to spot, sentry spots.
The defender may choose to fire. If he does, and the scout survives (or the scout leader has LOS) his troops are revealed. If he doesn't and that area is entered by the scout, then he gets +2 close combat (the defenders saw the scout coming and arranged an ambush). Note that this rule means that a false positive is possible. The scout player will know that he has been spotted, and may conclude that the defending player is choosing not to fire so as not to reveal himself, and to get the ambush bonus. He may then decide that the (empty) area is probably occupied, and choose not to enter it.
S2.1.4 Both fail.
Nothing happens. Just make a clock roll as usual.
S2.2 Optional cat rule. In war movies, when a scout trips over a iron bucket, falls down a flight of steps,
crashes through the roof of a greenhouse and accidentally fires off his
full magazine, invariably what happens next is that a guard comes to
investigate the noise, and sees a cat. Once per game, the scouting player may negate the effects of a successful defender's spotting roll by invoking the cat rule. When the cat rule is invoked, it is imagined that the sentry who would otherwise have seen the scout instead notices a cat, and falsely attributes the noise made by the scout to the cat. Cinematic tradition demands that the sentry laugh.
S3.1 Scouts. Scouts move using move actions as normal. As they move, they count move actions. They may move three move actions on the trot without making a clock roll, as long as these bring them to where they can make a spotting roll. After every third move action without spotting or receiving reactions from the defenders, they make a clock roll. An efficient way to use scouts, therefore, is to move each three or fewer move actions, to where each may make a spotting roll. A spotting roll or defending reaction sets the count back to zero, so there is no need to remember the number of moves made and carry them over. They must move to where they touch a terrain feature in order to make a spotting roll on that feature. Similarly, if defending troops may be deployed in the open, then a scout must be at the edge of a feature, touching the open area with one edge of their base, to spot troops in that open area.
S3.2 The defenders do not move.
S3.3 Reactive spotting. If a sentry has LOS to a scout moving in the open, he may choose to make a reactive spotting roll. This does not require much honesty on the part of the defender, because the defender, if he spots a moving scout in the open in this way MUST choose to fire at him if he succeeds in spotting him. He could, therefore, roll as a bluff, even when there are no defenders in LOS, however, if his spotting roll is a success, then he will have no one to fire with, so he will be forced to admit that he has no troops in LOS of the scout, which is giving away information.
S4.1 Fire against scouts. This represents fire not by the whole defending unit, but by the sentries. Per defending unit in the area being scouted, the defender rolls 5d6 (4d6 if the scout is in cover) and ignores the highest result, and then counts fives and sixes of the remaining dice as hits. If no hits are scored, the scout may carry on scouting as before. One hit forces the scout to retreat to cover, and two hits kill him. Defenders who fire at scouts reveal themselves with illumination flares and barking dogs, and muzzle flashes. Scouts do not stand and fight, but run away. Either they escape or they don't. If they are not killed, but come under effective fire (one hit), they make one unopposed move in a straight line retreating to cover if in the open, or to out of LOS if in cover. Moving in cover after being spotted, and before getting out of LOS, they may receive more reactive fire of the same kind.
S4.2 Close combat: Scouts entering occupied terrain which they did not know was occupied, fight one round of close combat. Defending officers do not add their bonuses for close combats. Scouts may not enter terrain containing revealed troops. If the scout wins, then the defending troops are revealed, and for the rest of the scouting section of the game, these troops may not hinder the scout who discovered them (he knows where they are, and will avoid them). The defending troops are not killed, however, and will be in place when the main game starts (the scout slit the throat of the sentry, and moved on - he did not take out the whole platoon). If the scout loses, he is dead/captured.
S5. LEADERS, REPORTS, AND DEATH
S5.1 If a scout comes base-to-base with his commander, he may report his findings to him. If a scout is killed in close combat, or shot and his commander has no LOS to the fire, then defending troops are not revealed. What is more, they are allowed to re-deploy, hidden, before the game starts (they may choose to deploy in the same place). Information in the head of a dead man is no use to anyone. So, after discovering some troops, a scout must move back to his leader and report his finding, to "bank" his discovery.
S5.2 The CC figure represents the scout leader. If he is killed, those scouts under his command must make their way back to friendly lines by an established safe route. If the leader and all his scouts are killed, then all their discoveries are put back to hidden status, and may re-deploy if they wish. The same happens if the scouts fail to make it back to their table edge by the deadline. This means that if the scouts scout deep into enemy territory, then they may find that getting back to make reports in time for the attack briefings is difficult, because they must find a safe route back, and every third move action prompts a clock roll.
Atkins the scout moves into a wood on his table edge at 0100 hours (first move action). He pivots, moves into a second wood (second action), then into a field (third action), since nothing has happened, he rolls for the clock, and gets a 5. It is now 0120 hours.
He moves to the edge of the field (one action) and peers into the open ground beyond - the swathe connecting it to the next wood. He announces that he is scouting it. He rolls 1d6 gets a 3 +1 for veteran, = 4. The sentries are regular, but Atkins is in cover. They roll 5 -1 = 4, a tie. The clock is rolled and Atkins has spent another 20 minutes scouting some open ground, spotting nothing. The defender rolls to spot too (even though he has no troops there - this is a phantom spot) and gets a success, but does nothing (because he can't, but he doesn't let on).
Atkins decides that the Hun probably hasn't deployed in the open, and makes his way across the open to the next wood. The defender announces that he has troops in LOS of this move, and would like to try and spot him. The defender rolls a 5. Atkins rolls 2 +1 veteran = 3, and his veteran stealth fails to beat the regular eyes of his foes. The defender now MUST fire, and he fires with the section in the farmhouse, rolling 5d6 (sentries only - his forces are not on full alert) and rolls 3,(6),5,3,4 = one hit (the highest result is in brackets, and is ignored). The result sends Atkins retreating to the field. He moves laterally through the field, and receives more reactive fire, which is 4d6. The sentry rolls 2,5,(5),2 and one five is ignored, so this is another one-hit result, and Atkins moves further from the farmhouse, out of the field and thus out of LOS of the farmhouse. The troops in the farmhouse are revealed, because Atkins has lived to tell the tale.
He moves back to his leader and banks (tells him of) his discovery. This movement requires either his leader or himself to move in the open in LOS of the farmhouse, so the troops there can get another chance to see him and kill him. He gets away with it, though. Now, even if he is killed, the enemy positions will be known if his leader survives. If the leader is killed but he survives, then he will make his way off table and report his findings. Only if he and his leader are killed will the information be lost (or if he doesn't get back by 0400 hours - if he is deep in the table at 0340 hours, then he must get back off table within three move actions, or risk a clock roll, and the attack's going in without his being able to report).
The scouting player should try to get his forces forward, and positioned where his leaders can see the scouts do their work. This way, even if a scout is shot, the leader may be able to observe the fire and discover enemy deployment. This being the case, the defending player should hold fire where possible, and allow the scout leader to get into a position where he can be shot. Moving in the open is a big risk for a scout, and it is usually better to take a longer route which makes good use of cover, and pay the price of making more clock rolls.
In playtest, this system has revealed enough hidden troops to make scouting worthwhile, but never so many as to make hidden deployment not worthwhile.
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