Okay, unlike the last two times, this was entirely on me.
I’ve recently been chatting with Dan over on the Ultramodern Wargaming Group/The Table’s Edge podcast/DeskOps store (Christ he’s busy) about Skirmish Sangin and how it plays as an alternative to Spectre. So, after realising I was spending a whole Saturday doing family stuff, I decided to treat myself to an afternoon of wargaming and offered to run him through a quick game of the playtest rules currently on the Sangin group. Plus, it gave me a chance to scribble down a new scenario taking place in the ChargeReal.
Of course, there is one tiny problem – Geography. Dan is based in Germany so it’s a little long distance for a quick afternoon game. Luckily, the last few years have been rather good for showing off the various ways of connecting people remotely. I’ve seen a few people trying different things, but I eventually settled on a platform I’m used to – Discord. Thanks to a dice roller bot to keep our dice rolls synced (and accurate) and multiple accounts across phones to allow a selection of video angles, we were able to play pretty easily. It helps that Sangin has much less accurate measuring than something like Spectre or Warhammer 40k and that the general mood is less “competitive wargaming” and more “playing out an action scene”.
Additionally, I’d already passed over a briefing doc and troop profiles to Dan before the game started and more importantly I’d given him an overhead map of the board. With this information, remote players are able to keep track of what’s going on, without needing constant camera adjustments meaning more time focused on the game rather than trying to understand where everything is.
Of course, this didn’t mean all the details I passed him were 100% correct. One thing I really enjoy when writing up scenarios is playing around with the opponent. Telling them one thing and then tweaking to represent the different intel. In this case, a few moved cars and an SUV that wasn’t there the previous day.
But on with the game we actually played.
“Hey man. Glad to get your message – happy to hear you managed to pay Volk back after he pulled your ass out of the fire back in Jefferson. F***** Goshie nutcases.
You still looking for a job? Got a Bazi Prince needing someone to whack his cousin while he’s out in the boonies along the Albion border. Got a few hired guns I trust (ex-Tsarist army so they know what they are doing) but I’d rather have someone I’ve bled with get me the biometrics and snap the photos. Don’t worry about gear – got an AK, some mags, a few limonka and a chest rig in an SUV at Al-Khoufra Airport (don’t worry, paperwork is all good on them) waiting for you to collect. GPS in the car will take you to the meetup point, then infill on foot the last few metres. Good luck man, don’t forget the biometrics or else none of us are getting paid.”Transcription of voicemail intercepted by AESA Remote Communications Team from Suspect A (Albion national) to Suspect B (Unknown)
So translated to English? Dan was in charge of a team of Contractors hired to sneak into a compound somewhere in the Bazi Highlands to hunt down a Bazi Prince and deal with him.
The board layout was of a relatively large but remote compound, split across three large buildings from Black Site Studios Warzone Arabia range – a garage, a large residential building and a separate guard house. The compound itself was missing any large walls (I still need to make some) but had plenty of internal barriers and cover. There was also an arrangement of vehicles, including one that wasn’t on the photos I sent over to Dan.
For the forces, Sangin is very much a section vs section level game (plus maybe a few friends). Dan’s contractors consisted of himself (rated Elite) and three ex-Tsarist soldiers (Colbalt and Nickel rated Veterans and the young pup Lithium playing the “Sean Bean in Ronin” role of the guy bigging himself up being only Average). All had body armour, sidearms and grenades while long arms were mostly Assault Rifles, except one of the team was armed with a Marksman Rifle to cover the rest at range. Their objective was to get in and eliminate the Bazi Prince, before gathering biometric information to confirm his death.
Against them, the Bazi Prince was surrounded by his protection detail. This was a mix of guys armed with AKs and pistols (assembled from my Counter-Intelligence figures), all rated Average having received their basic training in crushing dissidents and smoking cheap cigarettes alongside a bit of range time.
I left it a little bit up in the air if there was a QRF force just off the board, as well as how many enemies there might be inside the compound. As a scenario writer, you gain a lot by making certain information fuzzy, giving people just enough to plan but not giving them the entire picture that you can throw in some thinking on your feet.
The game began with the Contractors appearing on the board at the western edge, having spent the night before camped out and trekking the last stretch. The group split into two, with Dan and the rookie heading for the main building, while the two Veterans moved into an overwatch position on the other side of the road.
Dan’s movement brought him up to the outside door to the garage, giving him the perfect opportunity to get a glimpse of the guard inside working on the disabled car, Makarov hanging out of the back of his jeans. Although tempting to run in, grab the guy and shove him under the bonnet until he stops squirming, a quick glance beyond showed other guards moving around the compound.
Instead, Dan went Firm (Skirmish Sangin V2’s simplified crouch/prone posture system) and waited for his teammate Lithium to catch up. Once his young friend arrived, Dan (the player) started asking about the new Tempo rules and how they work. And then proceeded to spend a full activation using 98 command skill to gain enough tempo points for everyone in the squad to do all manner of tricks. Tempo and the command skill is quickly becoming one of my favourite things from V2 – it takes the NCO class and makes them actually play their role. For example, in this case, it’s easy to visualise Contractor Dan on the headset radio, passing forth commands and setting up their final assault plan.
Good, because the stealth plan was about to go down the toilet. One of the pistol-armed guards on the balcony, spotting a 6ft something guy in a blue hat sliding into cover behind the roadside barrier, shouted out a warning and then fired off a risky pistol shot. It didn’t actually hit but still caused some suppression even with Colbalt’s familiarity with bullets flying past his head since his time on the Albion-Dazhbog front.
With the alarm in the process of being raised, the young pup Lithium decided it was time to get the party started. And rather than risking a CQB move, he instead (keeping in cover) propped the door open and double tapped the unaware guard in the back, watching him bounce off the car bumper before sliding to the floor.
At the same time, Colbalt was starting to get to work. Seeing a pair of guards armed with AKs peeking their heads around the t-barrier separating both sides of the compound. To dissuade them from advancing and getting close enough, Colbalt saw the first head come round the corner and dropped them with a single shot.
What was perhaps more disconcerting was the arrival of figures in black fatigues, fast helmets and moving with some purpose. As a veteran of the Great Game in this part of the world, the old Merc keyed his radio and instructed his teammates to avoid shooting the soldiers in black – after all, it’s usually best to avoid aggravating anyone involved with the Arcadian External Security Agency, mostly because those that do usually find themselves either in box travelling air freight or having their evening sleep being interrupted by 9kg of high explosive dropped from an unmanned loitering platform. Besides, the newcomers seemed to not be in any rush to get into a full-on firefight.
And this is where I got to add some role-playing – the AESA were here to make a deal with the Bazi Prince but weren’t in any rush to protect him. Their main goal was to evac their principal to the armoured SUV and then escape. Unless Dan chose to come with 6″ or god forbid engage them, the highly trained and armoured soldiers would just attempt to get the VIP in the vehicle and then get the hell out of there.
Safe to say, the other guard with the AK coming from the guard house (the leader of the Prince’s bodyguard) would probably have a bit of a bad time having just seen his buddy drop to the ground. V2 doesn’t seem to have brought over the rule that seeing a friendly figure go down will cause those around some amount of concern. I decided to house rule in that anyone seeing someone get injured within Line of Sight would roll the equivalent suppression test to see if they can hold the line.
Fittingly for the leader of this security detail, this guy totally ignored the death of his underling, instead using it as a recommendation that maybe he should stay away from the road.
At the end of turn 1 (10 combat phases with each character having four activation chances), the Contractors were well on their way to infiltrating the compound. They had already downed two guards while another on the balcony was currently pulling himself inside for cover. The appearance of heavily armed figures in black was not particularly promising but for now, things hadn’t escalated.
Having remembered one of this team was in the garage repairing the car, the guard patrolling the area under construction crept inside before stepping into the slowly growing pool of blood. Looking down for a moment, he missed the shadow of someone running past the door repositioning before suddenly another double tap from Lithium took him to the ground. Unable to stand back up due to their level of injury, he would eventually attempt to crawl across the open ground before being finished off outside.
Dan, the man of the hour, was attempting to take advantage of the running gun battle on the other side of the board to make a break for the main house. Keenly aware of the first-floor window overlooking the in-construction extension, he carefully moved up using the walls to jump from cover to cover before entering the parking yard from the flank.
What he didn’t notice was the lead guard, having seen his ally enter the garage and hearing the gun shots, decided that perhaps it makes more sense to go protect this principal. He fell back to the staircase before rushing to find the Prince.
Having taken a shot from Nickel’s DMR that took his legs out from under him, the other guard on the balcony managed to crawl his way inside and get out of the line of sight, just across the room from the first guard to get hit. In the centre, the lead guard managed to interrupt the Prince being shouted at by his hosts (obviously annoyed that his actions had brought this violence down upon them) and set up a defensive position.
Outside, Dan moved up to the pickup truck and suddenly found himself under the barrel of one of the Arcadian Special Operations soldiers. Managing to resist the idea of fragging them, Dan instead watched as the rest of the team (along with their VIP) got into their car, reversed up into a protected spot for everyone to embark and then sped off, the last man keeping his gun aimed at the contractors even as he clipped himself into the boot and banged on the exterior bodywork to signal they were good to go.
The contractors even managed to resist the urge to open up on the SUV as it drove past and instead it disappeared off the map. This left Dan and his crew to focus on breaching into the final structure.
Lithium was the first to move into position, sneaking into the side room and listening to the raised voices next door.
However, he wasn’t sneaky enough as the last remaining active guard moved to a position beside his door and went firm, setting up a perfect ambush if someone was to attempt to bust in.
Out on the balcony, after climbing over the railing by the main staircase, Dan and Colbalt set up to prepare for a CQB action.
In V2, CQB actions are less purely melee fights and much more anything at close quarters, including short-range gun battles or room clearing. The benefit to them is that, by using tempo, you can get multiple figures into the action at the same time – they can’t attack until it’s their activation but they can tie down enemy figures to stop them from attacking your allies or running away.
Speaking of which, Lithium kicked off the CQB action by rushing through the door, attacking the bodyguard and… fluffing it, he failed to land the required hit (obviously his opponent grabbed his gun and shoved it out of his face during the scuffle. At the same time, Dan and Colbalt kicked in the front door and quickly got rid of the two injured fighters before they even had a chance to raise their guns.
After the bodyguard also failed to land a strike, Lithium finally managed to finish him off in his second combat activation, leaving just the target and some angry civilians in the centre of the room.
With the compound secure, the Prince tried all he could to bribe his attackers – right up until a bullet somewhere vital (avoiding the face to improve identification). The Contractors had achieved their objective!
Of course, they have also just knocked off a Bazi Prince, and as a rule, their relatives are usually not the most forgiving types – even if one of them hired Dan and his crew to do it, it’s quite possible there might be trouble ahead for our merc.
And that was Sangin V2 – I’m really happy at how the game played out, providing a great intro to the system to someone new AND showing off that remote play can work with the tools I have. The rules are not complete yet (the weapon list needs fleshing out as well as the dealing with casualty rules) but I think it works out to be a super cinematic and immersive game once you get your head around things like the activation system.
I’ll let Dan give the details of how much he enjoyed the game in a future episode of TTE but he was definitely excited once we finished off. And has continued to be excited for the rest of the week.