Pound the drums with martial beat
Pound the streets with marching feet
Wounded pride, distorted eyes
Paint the night with battle cries
I am perfectly aware that this song has nothing to do with an ACTUAL war, but that CD happens to be playing and I found it apropos.
Shall we patrol the night with battle cards?
The first thing we shall do is receive orders from our Battalion HQ. He’s the guy way far away from the line in a building with air conditioning who likes to tell you what to do. We simulate this by drawing an Action card. Action cards are the workhorses of the game and handle pretty much everything that goes on:
Each card looks like this, only the numbers change and the icons in the upper right change to reflect the random elements of the game. Basically this one deck of cards represents about 15 custom dice that would come with any other kickstarter game. Only this way it saves you about $40. Cha-ching!
For Command purposes, we only need the information in the upper-left: The helmet number 4.
So Battalion has given us 4 Commands. We also receive +1 Command because our current status is “No Contact” (It’s much easier to think and speak clearly when no one is shooting at you). We receive another +1 because our CO is a Veteran, and yet another +1 for our CO being in a foxhole.
Which now that I think about it, means our CO can’t communicate with anyone because these crappy radios don’t work under cover. Okay, I hand wave my mistake and take him out of the fox hole. So 6 Commands are given to our CO. It, however, is Night so we are only allowed to spend 4 in one turn. Phooey.
Now I can spend those Commands. On what? Well a lot of things, really. There’s a whole menu! Let’s see, there are 43 different actions…but don’t worry, many of them you won’t use often, or they are simply more specific versions of others (like move a unit or move the whole platoon are two different commands). The most useful one for the CO to use is “Activate a subordinate HQ or Staff.” This basically wakes up the unit to allow it to receive orders this turn, rather than acting on its own initiative, which can be unreliable. So I’ll spend my first action to Activate 1st Platoon. I’ll also Activate the XO beside 1st Platoon, 2nd Platoon and my 1st Sgt. That will fill me up on Commands giving me some latitude depending on what the enemy does. That leaves 2 Commands which my CO can save for a future turn where I don’t get enough Commands to do what I want.
Next I can now do Commands for any of my Staff or other Platoons who were Activated by my CO (1st, 2nd or my XO or 1st Sgt.). I can do this in whatever order I want. Since I’m just going to be banking Commands with all but 1st Platoon, I’ll just go in order of XO, 1st Sgt then 2nd Platoon. So let’s draw some cards. XO draws a 3, which is 4 due to No Contact. He is only “Line” experience, so that’s it. And being Line, he can only save 4 Commands anyway, so he’s at full “storage” now. 1st Sgt pulls a 4 and is a Veteran, so that’s a 6 for him. He can save all 6, so that’s great. 2nd Platoon is also a Vet and draws a 3, so they get to save 5.
So let’s get to the good part, 1st Platoon. Of course, they only draw a 2. The HQ for 1st Platoon is a Vet, so that bumps it up to 3 and a 4 for everything being calm. It’d be easy for me to just march the whole platoon up the Embankment and hurry through the Patrol, but it wouldn’t be hard for an Enemy mortar to be pointed that way waiting, so here’s what I spend my Commands on.
- Detach Team – You, you, and you. I don’t like you. Form up.
So I reduce one of my squads by one step and create what’s called an Assault Team.
- Move to Adjacent Card – Okay you three, march up that embankment.
So now rather than putting my entire Platoon in danger from that “Potential Contact?” marker, I’m only putting the 3 guys I didn’t even like anyway in harms way. It’s a win/win, really. The down side is that Assault teams can’t fire outside of their card, so if they start taking fire, I have to maneuver others to help, and they are also now out of command, so I can’t use any Command points to make them do anything.
I have 2 more Commands, but I’m going to save those and see if there’s a Contact first before anything else. So now we go to the “Initiative Impule,” where those who were not activated by the CO can do their thang.
The only folks who weren’t barked at were our lonely boys in 3rd Platoon, so we flip another card, but rather than looking at the helmet number, we look at the smaller number in the star below the helmet.
In this case, 3rd Platoon got a really good draw with a 4. He’s got Green experience, so it’s actually at -1, though the +1 for being at “No Contact” still applies here. Of course, being Green (which it’s not easy being, I’m told) they can only hold on to 2 Commands, so that’s what they’ll do. Let’s hope they don’t have to do anything anyway.
Finally is the “General Initiative.” Again we draw for the little star number, but this time with no modifiers. Okay, there is a modifier, but it’s only because we’re doing a Patrol mission. This time we’re dividing the number in half and rounding down because everyone that isn’t in 1st Platoon really shouldn’t have any initiative at all anyway. They should be sleeping! But this is for soldiers who do the smart things on their own. Like duck.
I draw a 3 at this point, which gives me 1 Command, and I will use that for my Assault team to Seek Cover. See, smart things! Seeking Cover is done by looking at the bottom of the terrain card you are on:
The left picture/number shows you how many and what kind of cover you can find here. The right number shows you how many cards you can draw (so effectively the odds that you’ll find cover each try). Since I’m on an embankment, it’s not too difficult to find a place to grab cover, so three cards is pretty good. So I draw three Action cards and look for the word “Cover” on the top of the card. If it’s on one of the cards, bully! If not, then I don’t find cover and that Command was worthless.
Luckily the last card had cover, so my three jerks were able to squeeze themselves behind a hunk of dirt and start getting a good look at their surroundings.
It’s not much, but it could be the difference between life & death. And yes, you can be both Exposed and under cover. The Exposed chit represents the movement to the card and to the cover. During that time, many a bullet could have come their way.
So that ends my turn, and now it’s the enemy’s turn. As there’s no enemy on the board yet, the first thing we’ll do is check on that potential contact. The first thing we’ll do is flip it over to see what letter is on the other side. A ‘B’ will mean it’s much more likely to be a contact, while a ‘C’ is what I’m hoping for because I might get away unharmed.
So of course it’s a B.
Well look at that, because I’m at No Contact and it’s a B, there’s not even a CHANCE I can get away with it. I automatically get a contact. Great. So now I flip open the Briefing Booklet to the Mission I’m on, and look at the table for Potential Contact B. There’s 10 possible results under there. I simply draw an action card and look at the number under the “10” on the bottom of the card and that will show me which number to look for.
Number 3, which is “Incoming Mortars.” Isn’t that what I said a few paragraphs up? *facepalm* So let me draw again for unit placement: Right front at max LOS.
Okay, so I check out how Incoming Mortars works for Koreans. I place an Incoming marker with a -3 modifier on the terrain card. The Spotter is placed to the Right and Front at the max LOS, which is only one card in this case. The Spotter is not, um, spotted at this point, so we put the “Potential Contact ?” chit on top of him to show that we can’t see him.
He’s poking out from under there somewhere. Anyway, Korean spotters only have one Fire Mission which is good, because this could tear up everyone on this hill. Speaking of which, the next phase is “Mutual Combat Effects.” That means blood and guts!
So there is only one Combat Effect to deal with, and that is with the three poor and honorable men (hey, they’re getting shelled, show some compassion, man) up on that embankment. So how is this done:
So you add up all the bonuses of cover and concealment. Your main bonuses will be from terrain cards, so I’ve got two hill cards which give…..zero. Hmmm. And my Embankment card has +2/0. The +2 is for any fire that crosses a green border. Sadly Incoming markers do not count (they come from the sky), so it’s another zero. Hmmm. Finally I have a +2 for it being dark out and the +1 for the small cover they found.
Then you subtract for being Exposed (-2) and then for the biggest modifier from all the incoming fire. All I have is mortar fire which is -3, for -5 total. So 3-5 is a net -2.
Negative numbers are not good. I’m sure you can understand that. So, as you probably can guess, we flip a card and look next to the -2 and see what happens.
Dang! So close! So the result is a Hit. One more bonus and it would have just been Pinned. That limits the units effectiveness, but at least it doesn’t hurt anyone. So when a unit is hit, you flip yet another card and have a looksee at what happens.
Assault teams are considered an Experience Level of “Line” no matter where they came from, so the effect is “P” which means they are now Paralyzed. I don’t blame them.
So I change the Assault Team chit to a Paralyzed chit, and also put a Pinned chit on top of that. They are keeping their heads down and keeping them there. They are now limited in their actions.
- They are now considered “Green” for all actions
- Any fire they are able to dish out with be “All Pinned” and give a +1 Modifier
- They can only move to friendly occupied cards with no enemy fire markers on them
- They may Seek Cover
- In order to “get better” I need to give them Rally Commands: First to remove the Pin chit, then to go from Paralyzed to a Litter team, then from a Litter team to a Fire team, and then from a Fire team to an Assault team or back into a Squad
So that happened. I sent three brave men up an embankment and a rain of fire fell down upon them and they buried themselves under the rubble.
Now we just have a clean-up phase. I remove the Incoming marker, and since the Mortar Spotter is out of missions, he gets removed, too. I don’t even get to retaliate!
And that ends the first turn. It could have gone worse, but I think I can do this. I hope you learned something-mainly that this thing isn’t as complicated as it looks. Stay tuned for more action in Korea!