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Monday, 27 July 2020

Ayah's Hunt

Ayah was hungry and she was getting worried, very worried. She had gotten herself separated from the Clan, they were making their way north away from the sun, heading to the cooler lands, they had been doing this ever since she could remember, following the herds north and then after a few moons following them back south again. That’s the rhythm and cycle of a nomadic hunter gatherer’s lifestyle.

The Clan had found a strange forested area that they’d not explored before, they were hunting and gathering, as always, when suddenly Ayah realized there was no sound from the rest of her family, she called and yelled but there was no response, she was alone.

The forest was thick, as dense as any she had known in her short life and she knew it would deaden the sound of her calls, hopefully nothing dangerous had been attracted by her shouts.

She was lost and adrift from everything she had ever known. She knew by instinct and training which way she should be headed, the sun the moon and the stars would always point the way. However it was only in a general direction, she could not know exactly which way the Clan would go.

Moving quietly now, knowing that there were creatures in this thickly wooded area that could track and chase her down, she needed to think hard, without the Clan she would not last long in this hostile environment. She needed to find them quickly but her more immediate concern was hunger and she must eat, sooner rather than later, leading such a nomadic lifestyle meant she was travelling light and only carried a flint knife, she was going to have to be very smart to survive this predicament.

That’s when she heard the screams and yells, they were not the clan but sounded similar, the same noise that the Clan made when hunting and preparing for the kill. They had some animal trapped and were building up the courage to dash in and kill it, risking injury and maybe death themselves but food was every animals prime concern.

She had to know what was happening and the safest way seemed to be to climb one of the many trees and check if she could see what it was.

Climbing five or six man heights up the tree she froze, seeing some Simians, small humanoid creatures, about half her height but certainly just as strong as she was. From her position she could see at least 3 of them, but it sounded like there were more.

One was looking directly at her, and her blood turned to ice. On the Savannah she was sure she could out run him but in this thick jungle she was not so sure, he was in his element she was not. She waited, no, it didn’t appear to have seen her, but closer inspection revealed at least 4 of them, maybe more.

To the side of the small ape was a bloodstained rock, a big flat rock, she wondered what it was for, she knew the shaman of her Clan offered sacrifices to the spirits who looked over her people but they were offerings of food, berries, nut and the occasional small animal, but this one looked well used, there was lots of blood covering the stone.

Quietly she climbed down from her eyrie and moved back through the trees to consider what she should do next. The forest looked the same whichever way she faced, the only thing that didn’t stay the same was her hunger which grew as the sun fled across the sky.

She made the only decision that she could, and it was not a bright or heartening prospect, she was going to have to take the Simian’s kill away from them.

She could rush in and frighten them off, that was one option, not the best though, definitely a high risk strategy. She preferred the alternative approach, wait for dark, creep in quietly and steal it, then get away quickly, well before they knew she was there.

Every hunter knows that one false move and the prey will escape, but in this case one false move would be the death of her, so she waited patiently for night to fall.

For the game I’ve scattered tokens around the carcase to represent potential Simians, all my characters have various attributes such as stealth, awareness etc that I can use to make decisions in a solo game.

So in this case Ayah moves and then has to pass a stealth check to see if she has made a noise, if so, the nearest token has to pass an Awareness check to see if it is aware of the noise.

I then carry out an opposed check roll, if the token wins it identifies the noise as Ayah, is she wins, she successfully avoids detection. If the Simian passed its awareness roll but didn’t identify Ayah, it is still awake and aware, so more likely to identify her if she makes a second noise, after a certain time, 1D6 it falls asleep again and starts from scratch.

A bit convoluted but for my solo game it’s more interesting than just a straight 1 die roll.

Having done all that, I then check to see if the token is actually a Simian or not, that’s because she has to see it to identify it.

So the other thing that is happening is that Ayah is trying so see sleeping Simians as she moves forwards and avoid them, when she has the possibility to sight a token she checks to see if she sees it, then I determine if it is a Simian or just a false token, it’s quite possible for her to blunder into one and wake it without seeing it.

I’ve used sighting and stealth rules before but in an ad hoc sort of a way based on game requirements, here I’m trying to formalise it into a written rule to be used in the future, so any suggestions you might have are more than welcome.

Eventually as it always did, the sun disappeared and tonight the moon provided enough light but not too much. Ayah started towardswhat she now regarded as "Her Food", the Simians had left a large part of the carcase of whatever animal they had killed on its flat, blood soaked top of what was probably a sacrificial stone.

She moves stealthily and is now within sighting range of a token and test’s to see if it’s visible to her.

If you’ve been eating lots of carrots and your eyesight is as good as a prehistoric woman’s, then you would have seen this. She doesn’t wake it and decides to circle left, before moving towards her destination.

You’ve probably realized by now that I’m quite pleased with how the jungle photos turned out because there’s lot’s of them.

Anyway Ayah having moved around the Simian is getting closer to her target.

Closer and closer, but not as stealthily as I would have liked, fortunately the Simians appear to be sound sleepers.

She has spotted this chap off to the right and didn’t wake him, having reached the bloodstained stone she just needs to grab the food without being discovered. I know I’m not making it sound tense but believe me it was. At this point she had seen and avoided 3 Simians, discovered 2 false tokens, there were still 3 undiscovered tokens and she was in the middle of them all. 


She makes the required rolls I breath a sigh of relief and she creeps quietly away, carrying a large chunk of meat. Unfortunately the meat is dripping blood, and as we will find out (probably) leads the Simians onto her trail quite easily.

Just a couple of gratuitous photos taken in full lamp light, not as atmospheric of course but certainly much clearer.

Here she didn’t see the token to the right but did see the one to the left which proved to be a small ape so she carried on circling and didn’t stumble into the token and I still don’t know if it was a Simian or not.

Just to give an overview of the table, much smaller than it might have appeared in the game pictures. A new 2’ square board I made using a bit of ply and some capillary matting I bought a few years ago, I purloined our Lazy Susan so that I could turn it easily because access to the figures in the dense foliage was very difficult.

The dead trees were made for the Vietnam game but never actually appeared on the table, so I wanted to get some use out of them, I originally intended playing this as a follow on to the search for the Grimoire of Life but saw some pictures on Pinterest of prehistoric people and got enthused (distracted) by that instead.

This was a 12 turn game, she failed to move stealthily 6 times. 3 of those times the Simians then failed Awareness test and so didn’t know she was there. Then 3 times it went down to an opposed roll and she won 2 and one turned out to be a decoy token or it could have been a very less successful outing for Ayha.

My thinking with this is that,

1) Do I make a noise
2) Are my opponents aware of this noise
3) If they are aware of the noise do they recognise it for what it is or can I recover the situation by remaining quiet.

This requires throwing lots of dice but I prefer the averaging result of lots of dice rather than the dramatic result of say a D20 that can give a huge variable with just 1 roll. Just my personal preference.

My sighting test is similar, it’s a straight opposed roll, Am I looking for some one, are they hiding or not and again a bucket load of dice to give a very average result.

For the last 3 days I’ve been working on refurbishing my 1’ sq terrain tiles, I mention this because I want to do a chase scenario, the Simians discover the missing food and chase after Ayha, I intend to use the tiles as a conveyer belt to run the chase scenario so effectively my table will be as long as it needs to be. I’ve used the concept before, back in the Hunt for Mary Scroggins although it took at least 1 failed attempt before the searchers got off the original table.

Years ago I read the Desmond Morris book The Naked Ape but I was never really convinced by his explanation as to why we are not hairy, I’ve recently been reading some other thoughts which I quite like and so we will find out if the current theory of why we are naked apes works in my game.

I’m still not happy with the tiles covering the table, I’m sure it will look better with a bit of set dressing but even though the lines between the tiles are more disguised than previously it’s still not as seamless as I would like and I prefer a mat. The reason I’ve done this is because I’ve been using them when I need a river or coast as in the previous game and they looked quite poor, I wonder if static grass would be better at hiding the seams, although maybe not as durable. Anyway they are an improvement and lasted 40 years in their previous state so are unlikely to get another refresh in this lifetime.

If you got here, thanks for reading and …..

Take care out there – it’s a dangerous world.

Saturday, 11 July 2020

Pirates and Smugglers - The Beach Landing.

Arghh Jim Lad and Pieces of Eight, errr - sorry that’s about the best Pirate accent I can do, so moving swiftly on to a shortish AAR.

Imagine the South Coast of England in the early 1700’s, full moon and a high tide.

A single cart approaches a small hamlet somewhere in the Romney Marches. Then imagine something a little bigger.

A sandy beach and a few small boats pulled up on that beach, the village in the distance has been involved in the smuggling trade with Iberia for quite a few years. They import Port from Porto in Portugal and Sherry from Jerez in south west Spain, wines from the Rioja region of northern Spain and dried hams from all over Iberia.

The Squire of the village is married to Juanita del Escobar and her blood kin Jose Ramirez is up to his neck in the smuggling trade, so are most of the villagers of Snuggling next to Sea, and who wouldn’t be involved in bringing in these luxury goods in exchange for sheep, lamb and mutton, the only thing they can produce in the desolate salt marches of Romney.

As always on my table there are equal opportunities for both men and women to star in the big parts. Of course they also have to share the heavy lifting as well. The barrels look pretty heavy, especially as they are filled with some of the finest wines available in Europe and they are going to take some moving but the smugglers are well equipped with carts, pack animals and even a wheelbarrow.

Of course in every paradise there are serpents that will attempt to sour your pleasure and so beyond this field are the Revenue Men, BOO HISS! They are led by a couple of sea Captains too old for the sea and they have to hand a mixed bag of youthful eagerness and ancient knowledge, the men and women of the Revenue, BOO HISS.

Someone has snitched and they are here to take the contraband goods and imprison as many of the Smugglers as they can arrest. Well good luck with that because these boys won’t come quietly.

Captain “Old” Ben Avery is in charge and has decided to split his command, leading half of the men against the pack horses and carts transferring the barrels from the beach to Snuggling next to Sea. He has taken his two best men with him, Eduardo d’Orsay and Comfort Weeks, the last man in line is a new recruit Tempest Abercrombie. She was conceived in the big storm of 26, the one that both her parents remember well, now if only she knew who her parents were she might not have had to join the Revenue BOO HISS.

Avery didn’t consult me before deciding on his plan of action and I might have pointed out that he is outnumbered by the smugglers and if the villagers decide to join in, he is going to be in big trouble. Maybe he’s from Yorkshire. They say you can always tell a Yorkshireman, but you can’t tell him much. Being from Yorkshire there’s more than a grain of truth in the joke.

The other half are led by Captain John Leadstone, known behind his back as Captain Crackers, they are charged with intercepting the boats on the beach and stopping them putting to sea and returning to the Santa Maria anchored off, in the bay. You can possibly see why Avery sent Crackers against the beach party, he’s not expecting them to have too much resistance and two of the party are old sailors, both missing legs, but those heavy crutches could prove valuable in close combat, unless the
inevitable happens and they lose their balance. However Scudder and Fish Bait have had quite a few years ashore and the only time they usually have wobbly legs is after a night in the Wicked Lamb in Romney town centre, they have been friends for many years and brag that they have a fine pair of legs - between them.

The last man is Modesty Higginbottom, she comes from up north in Lancashire but we won’t hold that against her. Maybe.

Crackers with his usual meticulous planning and forethought shouts come on men lets get them and lumbers off at a slow lumber, his men are a gutsy bunch and set off after him, Modesty keeps up very well but Scudder and Fish Bait with only one pair of legs between them are not so fleet of foot and fall behind a little.

They’ve caught the men unloading the boats on the hop, on the right Mercy Petite Mort to give her, her full name decides that maybe she should hang back a little and see how things go before she commits herself. Captain Black Jack Teach pulls both of his cutlasses from their scabbards and yells his battle cry, Blue Peter or something similarly warlike and there’s a clash of steel as he engages Crackers who is supported stoutly by Modesty Higginbottom. The fight is drawn out, Modesty is a better swordsman than Crackers but Crackers is - well - Crackers and refuses to let a woman – a mere stripling of a girl take his place in the fight.

Brigstock Jenkins climbs over the barrels in the belly of the boat and jumps ashore but this takes too long for him to join in the fight and besides he has 3 pistols and a knife, no sword, why would someone sculpt a pirate without a sword? He’s going to be very wary about getting into a close quarters fight.

James Worrier pulls his cutlery out but decides that’s as far as he needs to go, and Thropett on the boat, draws both her pistols, then cocks and aims one at Fish Bait.

Boom - She fires, it’s a slow burn, and misses, but it doesn’t stop his mad, head long, hop towards the boats on the beach. (Bit like after lockdown in Bournemouth)

Over by the convoy the men were no more lively, Old Bill Avery shouted charge and his men matched his pace which was a slow stumble, a little faster than a walk. This gives Vanity Dobbs time to pull her pistol as well as her sword and fire at Eduardo d’Orsay, fortunately for Eduardo the heavy ball misses him. In the ensuing sword fight he is outmatched and the bold Revenue man is pushed back.

On the left, Avery is up against Mary Brazier, Mary is a wild and deadly woman from Essex way, she was the Fence for the Gregory Gang and the infamous Dick Turpin was a member of that gang so Avery has probably bitten off more than he can chew. She doesn’t have time to pull her pistol and goes for her razor sharp sword, but it’s barely out of the scabbard before Avery is on her. The fight flows back and forth, then back and forth again, Avery may be old but he is well versed in the art of foul play and uses his hook like a second weapon putting Mary on the back foot.

Comfort Weeks runs in to attack Ann Duck, in the red bandana, Ann pulls her pistol, fires but misses, however Ann is a veteran street and bar room fighter, she was arrested 19 times before her final reckoning and is more than a match for Weeks, even if she only has a long knife against Week’s long sword, their deadly dance continues for a while though.

Back to the fight by the boats and Thropett fires her 2nd and last pistol at Fish Bait and this time hitting the poor man and he falls, as a pool of blood flows from his veins and soaks into the dry sand. Scudder fires at the stationary figure of Worrier and misses but Brigstock in the red pants fires one of his many pistols at Scudder and does not miss. Another Revenue Man is on the ground in a pool of his own blood, this is getting a bit repetitive.

Mary to the left is quite good at stabbing people in the back but doesn’t like to see their faces, she has still not moved forward to help Black Jack, although it’s a little late now. Modesty aids Crackers in the fight with Black Jack and as they push him back she jumps forward, elbowing Crackers out of the way and has sunk her cutlass between Jack’s 4th and 5th rib and he’s also gone down in a pool of blood.

What more can I say, apart from, I’m pleased I made quite a few pools of blood for this fight.

It’s not looking good for the Revenue men by the boats, they are now facing odds of 2 to 1, this situation might call for a tactical withdrawal, that is, if your name isn’t Captain Crackers.

Modesty looks down on her fallen foe and thinks “that felt good but we should run now”

Crackers strikes a manly pose and thinks “Crackers thoughts, that don’t include running”

Back to the convoy and things have gone badly for Eduardo, in spite of forcing Vanity back and back again, he became distracted (don’t know why) and with a reverse cut, parry and lunge she sinks the point of her Sheffield steel sword into d’Orsay’s softer parts and he lies bleeding on the ground.

This is only turn 4 and Avery is using every trick in his book in the fight with Mary Brazier, it must be a fairly thick book because he’s holding off the ferocious attacks from Mary, but only just.

Ann Duck in the red Bandana has got Comfort Weeks on the run and going backwards and with all her experience of fighting dirty it’s only a question of time before she sticks her short fighting knife into Weeks.

Tempest Abercrombie is appalled by the noise and ferocity in this her first fight, so much so that when Jose Ramirez runs to attack her, she fails to react and doesn’t fire the Blunderbuss she holds in her left hand. Fortunately the Spanish Smuggler has a long way to run and doesn’t make contact, so she has a little more time before the inevitable happens.

On turn 5, things take a turn for the better if you are supporting the forces of Law and Order in the form of the Revenue Men - BOO HISS. All the smugglers fail to activate.

McLeish has been inactive for most of the action and this turn is no different and she fails to charge into the fight.

Activated or not the fight finally goes against Avery and Weeks and they are both floating in a small lake of blood. This has been a re-occurring theme for the Revenue BOO HISS in this game so far.

Abercrombie does finally fire the huge blunderbuss as Ramirez run to contact but – nerves – nerves - nerves, she misses him, however she does survives his mad flurry of sword strokes and remains on her feet, the last of Avery’s men to be still standing.

However Tempest Abercrombie is now alone and surrounded by five of the band of cutthroats she surrenders and hopes she will see the sun rise in the morning.

Back by the sea, with their Captain down, the 4 remaining Smugglers pass their guts tests.

Crackers considerers the first course of action that comes to mind and pulls his pistol and calls out for the Smugglers to stand and surrender. When he sees that’s not going to work he turns to his second course of action, which is to run like hell.

With the agility of youth Modesty easily out distances him and here she can be seen a few yards ahead, this lead will continue to increase until they are safely away from the Smugglers, then she can consider her future with the Revenue Men, BOO HISS.

So ends the tale of the Revenue Men of Romney BOO HISS.

My corner of the Bloggersphere seems very quiet at the moment. Is that because Blogger has gone from bad to worse? I tried the new version on my previous 2 posts, the second one froze and I couldn't upload any pictures, so went back to the classic version and that didn't hold a bunch of pictures on the palette as it used to and so I had to trawl through all my pics on Blogger before getting to the one I wanted, with a slow internet that's hopeless. With this post I loaded the pics individually from my computer, not as slow as yesterday but blinking useless for something that's supposed to be state of the art.
I do think it's becoming more trouble than it's worth. Any ideas on what I might be doing wrong?

Thursday, 9 July 2020


The last post contained the scenario and this one describes the game, played by email and WhatsApp. It’s mainly with maps because my pictures of figures in the jungle are all filled with trees and bushes, the figures hid very successfully behind them.

This is the opening situation, V.C. Cowie has been in country for 7 days, most of the time putting things to rights and has only had 1 day to deploy his forces. I think he was more worried about possible rival VC than anyone trying to rescue the pilot he held as a captive.

So this is where he was as his men bivied on the night of day 7. He had split his forces into a number of smaller groups to try and cover the area better. The regular NVLA have been split into 3 groups SG1, 2 & 3.

SG1 was guarding the base along with a few odds and sods from other squads, SG2 was to check out one of the possible landing sites, LZ C12 and SG3 as you can see, made it to the LZ B10

The VC had been kept in 2 big squads of approximately 12 men each. VC b was to check out the village of Aguioc, and VC c had romped down the track towards Cang.

Early on the morning of day 8, about 03:00 hours all the Vietnamese units saw a plane exploding high in the sky, this was the reason for the scenario and BAT21 ejected and landed in the centre of the map, he hid his parachute and moved 1k north and holed up waiting for rescue.
At 04:00 the satellite passed over and picked up his homing beacon, at 05:00 Owen Snapcase was being briefed and at 06:00 he landed at LZ6, his call sign was BRUCE4X.

The team encountered no opposition and moved out immediately headed North and directly for BAT21’s last known position.

VC c actually saw the Australian team arrive in the choppers in the far south.

At this point I got confused with the scale thinking they were only 4k apart, when they were eventually actually 16k apart and wouldn’t have seen each other, such are the vagaries of war.

Mid day and VCc are following up on the chopper landing, here I used the local NCO’s initiative and V.C. Cowie back at base doesn’t know anything about it. The NCO sent a runner back to base to inform him of the situation.

SG3 in the north send a runner back to base to tell them nobody has used the LZ in a long time and await further orders.

SG2 is still pushing through the dense jungle and has not made it to LZ C12 yet.

Sometime in the morning Bird Dog (the air rescue coordinator) flew over and made contact with BAT21 and then BRUCE4X. He confirms to BRUCE4X that everything is OK with BAT21 and he is safe in hiding.

Bruce4X knows nothing about any of the VC activity and has moved north, directly for BAT21’s last known position. Travelling slowly and carefully to avoid detection and ambush, it would take 3 days to get to their objective.

VC Cowie was ignoring the downed airman and so his radio operator picked up some radio chatter between Bird Dog and BAT21, this indicated that this call sign was highlighted on a list and he should contact Hanoi immediately. They told him he needed to capture BAT21 but it was imperative he be taken alive. So VC Cowie recalled all the northern troops and pulled the VC c squad back to look for the airman who had ejected from the ECW plane and was wanted so desperately by Hanoi, thus leaving Bruce4X a clear run north.

Note VC Cowie’s transmitter could reach all the radios on and off the table but the individual back pack radios had a limited range.

It was at this point I realized I’d cocked up with the scale down in the south when Bruce wanted to know where the trail was, according to the info I gave him he should have fallen over it by now. Dohh!

By day 9 at 12:00 VC c had made good time up the track and were between Bruce4X and Bat21. They had a bit of luck with the die roll to chose a starting point on the track to begin their search for Bat21 and were almost spot on where the plane was hit. VC Cowie was given a choice of where he would like his troops to search and reasonably decided to go North East.

The runner sent to bring back SG3 ran into a wild boar and was injured. This slowed him down reaching the group and had far reaching consequences.

VC b and SG2 were almost back at the base.

I’d realized early on when designing the scenario that the Vietnamese might spend all the game wandering around aimlessly never meeting the rescue team and so I used a random event chart to give them something to do and keep them sharp. Some times it worked brilliantly and added to the story, some times it was a bit lacklustre.

As the runner from VC c arrived back at base he rolled on the event table and had an encounter with Poachers or Bandits further rolling and there was no actual contact, just a sighting.

Close of play day 9 the VC c have bivied for the night. You can see that they are going in a NE direction but will miss Bat21. BRUCE4X had changed his line of march taking him slightly NW, he had been getting reports from the Bird Dog that there were enemy troops around the area that shows the SAM site, although at this point no one knew it was there. Bird Dog knew about the troops because he was getting shot at flying from the SE to BAT21’s position but he hadn’t seen anyone. I was just testing to see if he got shot down.

The other key thing to happen during the day was that there had been no answer from BAT21 on the two occasions that the Bird Dog had flown over his position, they did however know that his homing beacon was still in the same location. I rationalised this event because it was obvious that the NVLA troops around the SAM site would be looking for him and he went to ground to avoid detection.
I also thought it would add to BRUCE4X’s tension rating.

I had to have a SAM site to shoot down the ECM plane in the 1st place, so the story was that the NVLA were building a road down from the north and the SAM’s were to protect the building crew. The ring around the site was the limit of the defenders area of control.

VC Cowie didn’t know they were there and he was out of radio range of VC c’s small radio so they couldn’t tell him but his radio was powerful enough so they could hear his commands, just not respond.

In the North VC b also had an encounter with Poachers or Bandits but again further dice rolling and no actual contact just a sighting and they returned to base uneventfully. Then SG2 returned for the night as well.

The event for the base was distant gunfire, which coincided nicely with the event for SG3 which was ambush.

SG3 walked straight into an ambush, VC Cowie was expecting rival VC’s and so was I, because there were enemy troops on my event table and enemy for the VC had to be bandits, VC or US troops and I didn’t want the complication of US troops.

My rational with ambushes was along the lines that provided the ambushers stayed still the ambushee’s would find them very difficult to see, I was using an opposed dice roll but heavily weighted towards the guys waiting in ambush. Anyway SG3 was ambushed by 3 VC and they killed 3 out of the 4 of VC Cowie’s team, the other one got away and reported the debacle back to base.

The rival VC made off in a random direction, going South quickly and leaving a trail that was easy to follow, again random die but I did think it would be ideal for it to lead to another ambush.

BRUCE4X had changed the direction of his march again following information from the Bird Dog. I think I mentioned him a couple of times but VC Cowie was too busy cleaning his house to sell it and I think this went over his head. He then tried to set fire to it and this probably meant that he couldn’t worry about Bird Dog who was a small plane used by the Americans to guide downed pilots to helicopter rescue.

VC c entered the zone of control of the SAM protectors and the dice decided that they didn’t end up in a fire fight. As I said earlier they had seen the airman come down in a parachute and tried to find him, not very energetically because that was VC Cowies job but they had found the parachute that BAT21 hid and decided to loan him 48 men to help with the search.

Ignore the counters down in the bottom left are just spare parked ones.

Bird Dog had made contact with BAT21 in the morning run and in his evening run he facilitated BRUCE4X making direct radio contact with BAT21. They arrange a meeting for the following morning, tea and cakes were not mentioned. By this time Bat21 had not eaten for 3 days but had been drinking stream water through his sock at BRUCE4X’s suggestion.

BRUCE4X also finally finds the track.

In the north SG2 guided by the survivor from the ambush and VC b were sent to examine the ambush site and follow up the enemy.

In the mean time the Poachers walked into VC Cowies base demanding to see the old Camp Commandant. This was very tense because VC Cowie was probably quite paranoid by now, and who can blame him. He insisted that they drop their weapons and my initial die roll said they wouldn’t. It was the stand off at the OK corral and VC Cowie insisted they drop them. After looking at the situation, they were out numbered 2 or 3 to 1 I rolled again and got a slightly more favourable die roll and things calmed down.
They were known to one or two of the old VC who were around the base and VC Cowie quizzed them on local events and they all had a good time and drank too much alcohol.

During the afternoon the VC c and their NVLA helpers were conducting an organised search for BAT21, the NVLA had already found his parachute and so they had a good place to start.

This was the search map sent to VC Cowie, you can see the location of the parachute and if you blow the map up you can also see where I rubbed out Bat21’s location which was a mile north of the chute. The VC and NVLA under Doug’s direction had searched an area going in a NE direction but had missed Bat21.

I realised later that they had searched the area that he had moved through, and so I thought he might have left tracks or some trail from where his chute was, to where he was currently hiding.
I rolled a die with high being some trail, 5 faint and 6 clear and I rolled a 6 so someone had seen tracks but had not said anything at the time. This was rectified during the evening bivi and as this is the map at the end of the day, in the morning they would go back and see if they could locate the trail.

Day 11 dawned and the Bird Dog saw the SAM site and called in an air strike on it. He had already seen the road that was under construction and I decided he would try and follow it and the die roll determined he saw the SAM site.
This was loads of fun for me as I called it out on the radio real time for BRUCE4X, I would have loved to see Martins face because he had no idea what was going on and then about half way through he twigged it.

This is a transcript of the call that I put out real time over WhatsApp.

Day 11 7:00

Bat21, Bruce4X this BIRD Dog.

Put your Tin Hats on. I’ll be back. Bird Dog Out.

Bird Dog calling any Jocks out there near position !!!!!!!!!, I have a present for you. Over

(Martin) Jocks? We’re Aussies mate, fair dinkum.

Bird Dog this is Major Domino we are 5 min away from your position. Over.

(Martin again) sorry not quite with it. What’s happening?

Major Domino, drop your bombs on my smoke, but be careful I have friendlies down below. Over

(Martin again) right bird dog is guiding in a friendly air strike.

Wilco Bird Dog what colour smoke. Over.

Purple. Over

Wilco, we’re on our way.

(Martin again) right we take cover.

My next post to Martin was – Back with you Bruce, I’ve done playacting.

You see a plume of purple smoke about 10k ESE of your current position.

Shortly followed by the plume of smoke from the bombs dropped by 2 Phantoms that come screaming in from the East over your position, curve fast to the SW and disappear.

I then went on with out radio conversation between Bird Dog and BRUCE4X, informing him of the SAM’s etc etc. This was for me the highlight of the game, being able to play act in real time and get some energy into it as a real time event.

This action meant that the NVLA helpers would withdraw to their SAM base and leave team VC c on their own and then the loss of the SAM’s meant that the road building crew were vulnerable and so would pack up and go home tomorrow.

BRUCE4X then met up with BAT21 and they started to withdraw in a westerly direction tending a bit north. This was to be a major problem.

There were 2 encounters for VC Cowie in the late morning VC b ran in to a possible ambush, map on left, this turned out to be a red herring and there was no actual ambush but the VC had a masterly set piece manoeuvre to flank it and at the same time pin it frontally. It’s a shame there was no one there.

SG2 heard a patrol coming up behind them, map in centre, originally I was going to make this the rival VC group but rolled some dice and came up with a NVLA patrol, they were obviously being recalled to the SAM site.

Anyway VC Cowie created the perfect ambush, this was one of the pictures I sent to him, the 2 blurred figures in the foreground are his SG2 ambushers, and the chaps in the green berets are the NVLA patrol. They came straight towards him obviously following his tracks and without asking if he could recognise the figures just opened fire. They walked right into the ambush and he killed and wounded 5 of his own side, only realizing his mistake when they started shouting in Vietnamese.

I probably shouldn’t have used Royal Marine Commando figures, as it was a bit misleading. ;)

The ambush part way through, the guy here at the front was shot down a few moments later. VC Cowie had 3 men blocking the line of advance and a couple of men at the rear closing the back door, as I said a very good ambush, that would only have failed if the enemy had been spread out in a line across their direction of march.

In the mean time VC c had marched on a compass bearing to where they thought BAT21’s tracks were, rather than go back to his parachute and start from the known point, which would have been the most accurate thing to do. Anyway, no one can walk on a compass bearing without some deviation and the roll indicated they were slightly off their compass course to the north. Maybe you can see where this is going.

And that was the point that Bruce4X heard the pursuit and decided to change direction from going west to going north to get out of the way of the pursuers and then Bat21 fell, creating the noise that alerted VC Cowie. This is the map on the right above.

So essentially a series of mistakes and die rolls that could have gone either way left us in the situation that VC c with 11 men were within a couple of hundred metres of Bruce4X with 4 men and Bat21 and they had heard a noise.

VC Cowie sent 4 men to investigate the noise and the rest of the squad remained stationary, they walked into Bruce and didn’t walk away. The chap in the red Beret is BAT21, just to make him stand out to me, and there are 3 of the team waiting in ambush, the 4th member is over to the right as we look at it.
You need to look carefully but there are 4 of VC c out their, I can only see 2 of them. They were advancing quietly in a line abreast 3 wide with the 4th man bringing up the rear.

After the ambush there are 3 wounded and 1 dead VC, BRUCE4X sent a man to search each of the enemy collecting food, weapons and the squads radio, then he interrogated the 3 wounded, before killing them with a silenced .22 pistol. This proved to be a serious mistake, but at this stage I imagine he was fairly confident that he had eliminated the enemy who he knew were following him.

VC Cowie then advanced the remaining 7 men on a line parallel to the one the original 4 men had taken but slightly to the north of it, so he wouldn’t fall into the same ambush. I rolled some more dice and he arrived close to BRUCE4X position 2 min before they were due to leave. Both sides heard sounds that were fairly certainly human. VC advanced on the SAS who had changed their line of axis and were waiting in ambush again. 7 men v 4, not counting BAT21 who was sitting behind the line holding his pistol with the safety on. BRUCE4X didn’t trust him not the cock up after the falling incident. I was fairly certain with the way the previous ambushes had gone that the SAS would win but maybe take a casualty, which would slow them down and enliven the rest of the game.

The final fight was vicious, VC Cowie had spread his men out over a long line and they advanced straight to where they had heard the sound of Bruce’s men packing up, unfortunately for them Bruce heard them as well and so was prepared and in ambush mode. As with all the ambushes the victims walked right in to it.

Just to remind you.

Snapcase's men were the cream of the service all grade 5 except Snapcase who was 6.

The Team - Left to right

Specky Brown - Specialities Pointman and Demolition duty. Armed with an SLR assault rifle, bayonet, throwing knife, 2 frag’s, 2lb’s of plastic and 2 Claymore Mines.
James ‘Jimmy’ Green – Specialities RTO and Medic. Armed with SLR assault rifle, bayonet, 2 Frags, 2 Stun grenades and 2 Claymore Mines. Plus his Radio.
Mike Jones – Specialities Pigman and Medic. Armed with an M60 GPMG, 9mm Browning Automatic, fighting knife and 2 Claymore Mines.
Owen Snapcase call sign Bruce4X – Specialities Intelligence and Point. Armed with an Owen SMG, .22 pistol with suppressor, Fighting Knife, 2 Frags and 2 Claymores.

The VC were all grade 3 apart from the lead NCO who was 5 and the LMG man who was 4.

Sgt Owen Snapcase looked left and could see Brown nearest and Jonesy with the M60 in the distance, well hidden by the foliage.

Looking right he can see Green, looking alert and ready for anything.

Here follows another transcript from the game log.

Snapcase “I’m very proud of these boys, lets not get any of them shot today. Is the noise getting any closer.”

Me “Yes you hear a noise, sounds like something stood on a twig. Nothing to see yet”.

Snapcase “OK we wait patiently”

Snapcase “tell BAT21 to face the rear, just by swivelling on the spot, just to keep an eye on our rear.”

Me “OK – You think you spot something, looks human but disappears before you can be certain.”

Snapcase “Jones and Green are watching to our right and left”

Me “OK”

Me “ All along your line you see men pointing to their eyes and then in various directions, you see a chap in a boonie hat and shorts.” He’s a vague shadow in the distance”

Snapcase “Can I identify who they are?”

Me “Not clearly”

Snapcase “OK we wait for them to get closer”

Me “VC, this is the one you can see, he’s 20m away”

Snapcase “OK my plan is to open fire just before they see us, I want us to be ready with grenades at hand”

Me “I’m not sure how you will know just before they will see you”

Me “You spot another one who steps from behind a tree only 15m away”

Snapcase “OK we open fire and banjo them.”

Me “Green has already gone for his banjo because 1 of the 2 men he’s clocked went for his guitar”

Snapcase “Duelling banjos!”

Me “On your right you see Green hit, the first VC you saw you are sure you hit him but he remains standing. On your left you hear Jones open fire with the M60 LMG, followed immediately by the sound of a RPD LMG in reply”

Snapcase “Throw a grenade in the direction of the RPD”

Me “You shoot at the same chap as before and he drops, but you see leaves shredded from the bushes around your hiding place from someone you haven’t located yet.

Snapcase “Shoot back in that direction and then throw another grenade”

Me “Specky Brown shouts he has taken his targets down and will move left to cover Jonesy”

Me “You have no visible target”

Me “ the incoming fire is now coming from your 2 flanks, the centre is quiet.

Snapcase “OK, I crawl to Greens right, towards that body and shoot anything I see”

Me “The M60 has stopped firing”

Me “A grenade explodes on your left”

Me “You hear a scream, sounds like Specky”

Me “Then it goes black as I threw a 6, 6 and 5 to hit you and I’m afraid you are dead.

Snapcase “Bollocks”

Snapcase “ is that the end”

Me “I’m afraid so, what a shock, I’m gutted”

Snapcase “Great fun though”

A similar dialogue went on with VC Cowie.

For a more dispassionate re-telling of the action, read on.

At the last minute the VC NCO saw Jimmy Green in front of him but as he raised his rifle Green was faster and fired first, missing completely, the tension had taken it’s toll, the NCO fired back and Jimmy fired no more, badly wounded and out of the action.

Snapcase and Specky Brown were in the middle of the SAS line and they both hit and either wounded or killed a couple of VC’s although it took Snapcase 2 attempts before he put his man down. Over on the left of the SAS line, was Jonesy with the big M60, he fired on 2 VC but missed both. He needed 5’s or 6’s to hit and had 4 dice to do it with. Further to Jonesy’s left was the VC’s LMG and he had managed to avoid detection as he approached.

Seeing the flash from the M60 meant he had no trouble locating his target and he opened fire, also missing, he needed 6’s with 4 dice so a bit more excuse. At this point there were 3 VC firing on Jonesy and he was returning it but was obviously rattled because he couldn’t put any of them down. Eventually Snapcase heard Specky shout that he had no targets and was going left to help Jonesy, which he did just as the big man was hit and also badly wounded.
Specky threw a grenade but rolled a 2 so fumbled it and the return fire killed him outright. Snapcase was taking incoming fire and couldn’t locate the shooter, then everything went black. The VC NCO was the shooter and rolled 6, 6 and 5, three hits, killing Snapcase instantly, he would never see Australia again.

Sgt Owen Snapcase was awarded the VC, posthumously, Private Brown was awarded the DCM, posthumously, Green and Jones were also awarded the DCM, the Australian War Office are not sure if their awards are also Posthumous awards or not. Their bodies have not been recovered and there are some rumours that they are held North of the border in a POW camp, if there is the slightest hint of these rumours proving true there will be a reckoning.

According to Sgt Snapcase RIP the local Australian SAS motto is GO HARD OR GO HOME. Snapcase and Brown’s bodies were recovered and flown home, will Green and Jones be Hard or Home?