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Scenario: Operation Black Bag
By Thomas Barclay

This Page: Introduction   Background   Red Force Briefing   Blue Force Briefing 
Board Setup and Special Rules   Red Force Order of Battle   Blue Force Order of Battle   Victory Conditions
Variants   After Action Report

Back to Scenario and AAR page


Introduction Back to Top

This scenario features a platoon of militia chasing a special operations black-bag (snatch and grab) team and their prisoners as they try to escape from hostile territory. It requires a small number of miniatures and no vehicles and can be easily played in an afternoon or evening.

Game System Stargrunt II (could be done with FMASkirmish also)
Players 2 to 6 (3 or 4 is ideal)
Red Force 8 (+2) figures in two fireteams
Blue Force 34 figures in four squads
Time to Play 2.0 to 3.5 hours
Rules Complexity Intermediate (a few house rules)
Tactical Complexity Simple for the Militia, Intermediate for the Spec Ops forces.

Background Back to Top

Two nations have a fortified border across which many engagements have been fought and many incursions lead over the years. Both nations have done terrible things to one another over a prolonged period of on and off hostility. This has left many dead people, civilians included, and many lasting bad feelings between the two powers.

Currently, they exist in an uneasy detente. One of the nations (Red Force, because it is the aggressor in this scenario) chooses to send a covert operations force across the border, seize some members of the government of the invaded nation, and return them across the fortified border for some purpose. This is not, of course, something the defending nation (Blue Force) wishes to see transpire!

The scenario makes the assumption that the covert operations team successfully penetrated a selected location on the defended frontier, travelled to a nearby population center (where the targets were located), bagged the targets in question after a short assault, and are now headed at maximum speed for the hole in the border. They are attempting to get their captives back across the border into the hands of the aggressor's government. The defending force is pursuing them and attempting to rescue the abductees or, at the very least, prevent their successful abduction.

Red Force Briefing Back to Top

You are a small, elite special operations unit. If a tough job needs doing, you're the guys who get tasked with it. And it gets done. Or has, up until today. With any luck, today's mission will be successfully accomplished and everyone can go home.

In order to get safe home, your small group composed of two fireteams of special operations forces must extract successfully from hostile territory and evade the pursuing enemy security forces. You must get your captives _alive_ across the border into your own territory through a hole poked in the multi-layered minefields on both sides. Getting your prisoners out is your first objective, but survival is important too.

Enemy forces probably will not pursue the your unit beyond the river, though they may fire at your unit as long as you have not exited the board!

Blue Force Briefing Back to Top

You are a local militia unit tasked with border security. Once and a while, there are cross border raids to deal with, and the occasional cross border artillery duel to survive. Generally, your troops are sufficient to these minor demands, but you aren't a front line combat formation (usually). You have a number of reservists and inexperienced officers - not a crack formation. But sometimes life doesn't play fair.

Tonight, your unit was dragged to full alert status after a couple of assault in the community you were defending. Enemy commandos seem to have abducted a couple of key local government officials. Sector Command has ordered you to get them back. Failing that, to stop them being successfully abducted. You get the impression they don't really care if your unit suffers some casualties, because there is some high-grade political and public relations capital at stake here.

So, your unit is hot on the trail of the fleeing kidnappers. You don't know exactly who they are, but you're pretty sure they're fairly dangerous out of proportion to their numbers. On the upside, you know you have them badly outnumbered and you're close on their heels. And they obviously have to escape through the border minefield. Even if they've cleared a path, this is NOT something anyone would wish to do while under fire....so you'll try to get your people back and see to it that this incursion is unsuccessful.... terminally so!

You may NOT pursue the enemy forces beyond the river, though you may fire at them as long as they are visible on the board!

Board Setup and Special Rules Back to Top

The board should be setup so that the chase occurs lengthwise. The ideal length is about 8'. On a shorter board, you may have to put the enemy border at the absolute far end of the board. A ten foot board means you can have a larger space on the far side of the mined border.

Let us assume the long direction is East-West and North-South is the short board axis. The fortified border should consist of a 4-8" wide river running from the North board edge to the South board edge approximately 7 feet from the East board edge (where both forces will start). This river denotes the border between the two nations.

A scattering of hills, thickets, and scrub is essential. This is a foot race, and is made more fun by a heavily treed board. No clearing should be more than about 12-15" across if possible. This cuts down on the huge firepower advantage of the special forces teams but it also gives them plenty of place to hide. Frequent occurences of scrub (lichen used to simulate small stands of bush) every 8"-12" gives moving units plenty of opportunity to claim cover.

On either side of the river, a line of mine counters and dummies will be placed. Each side places their mines and dummies in secret from the other side. The counters should be placed every 3-4", and there should be approximately a 60-40 mix of mines and dummies. The Red Force commander should be allowed to (with no blue force members present) pick up one mine counter from the enemy side and replace it with a dummy counter (regardless of what it was). This represents the penetration location only known to the Red Force commander. Obviously, it would be wise for the Red Force commander to make note of where in the string of mines this dummy is located! This is the point that, unbeknownst to the Blue Force, Red Force will be making a river crossing.

Some areas of woods should be declared heavy woods and others light woods and scrub. This will affect movement and cover. The river itself should cost 2" of movement per inch of river. When any unit gets within 3" of a mine counter, that mine counter is flipped and the results applied. Consider all mines to be "Anti-Personel". If the counter is a dummy, obviously nothing happens! The Red Force leader may NOT look for the dummy counter he placed - if he can't remember where it is.... that's his problem.

On turn 1, the Red Force enters the board from the East edge (the squads may be separated) and executes 1 full movement. Starting on Turn 2 at the start of the turn, the Blue Force rolls a d4 for each of its component units. If the roll is less than or equal to the turn number, the squad enters that turn (in the second turn, this means rolling a 1 or 2). Blue squads enter anywhere on the East board edge, or along the North or South board edges within 8" of the East board edge. Alternating movement then occurs as per normal rules.

Red Force Order of Battle Back to Top

Red Force consists of two teams of special operations troops. Each team is a 4 man troop equipped with 2 AARs with GL, 1 marksman with a conventional sniper rifle, and 1 SAW. The teams are considered Elite (a RED-1 and a RED-2). The RED-1 formation includes the Captain in charge of the small unit, and he entertains the special advantage that he can issue one transfer of command each round without paying an action for it (although he is still limited to a maximum of two command transfers). This represents the superior training and autonomy of special forces operators and their ability to operate with more minimal direction than other types of soldiery. One soldier bearing an AAR with GL in each team is the leader and one is the medic. The troops are considered rested (it takes more than the action so far to tire these guys out!) and of High mission motivation. These troops are encumbered by their prisoners, so move at standard infantry. If their prisoners are freed, rescued, or killed, then they may move as light infantry.

There are two prisoners, one being escorted/gaurded by each team. These prisoners are unarmed, and count as a "member of the squad" for casualty resolution from enemy fire. Getting these figures out is the whole goal of the mission.

Red Force Squad Cards here.

Blue Force Order of Battle Back to Top

Blue Force consists of a 4 man command squad and 3 10 man squads of militia armed with older-style conventional AR with GL. Of these, the command squad and two of the three rifle squads are Regular (REG-2, REG-2, REG-3) and one rifle squad is green (GREEN-2). The leader is part of the REG-2 command squad. These troops are considered to have a Medium mission motivation. They are considered RESTED and CONFIDENT.

Blue Force Squad Cards here.

Victory Conditions Back to Top

Victory Conditions are determined on a point based scheme. For each unharmed hostage who is evacuated off the West end of the board, award 4 victory points. For each injured hostage (who does not die from wounds - must be a resolved casualty and stabilized) who exist the West end of the board, award 2 victory points. For each special operator who is killed or captured, subtract one victory point. Consult the following table to determine the final scenario results:

Victory Points Result
-6 to -8 Crushing Victory Blue. Red's parent nation loses face badly. This operation was a disaster and may bring down the current Red government. Blue Force commander is given a big medal and hailed a hero.
-3 to -5 Decisive Victory Blue. Red's parent nation loses face. This operation was a real failure and forces the Chief of Special Operations to resign. Blue Force commander receives a citation.
-1 to -2 Marginal Blue Victory. Red's parent nation is slightly embarrassed. This operation was not considered well implemented, and the Chief of Special Operations is censured. Blue Force commander is complimented for doing his duty.
0 Draw. The mission was pretty much a wash, though not a disaster. Neither side is considered to have performed terribly well.
+1 to +2 Marginal Red Victory. Blue's parent nation is slightly inconvenienced. Red Force is complimented for doing its duty. Some small information and public relations benefits are gained.
+3 to +5 Decisive Red Victory. Blue's parent nation is seriously troubled. Red Force is quietly decorated. Some significant information and public relations benefits are gained. Blue's Minister of Defence is publicly censured for inadequate security.
+6 to +8 Crushing Red Victory. Blue's parent nation suffers critical damage. Red Force is publicly decorated, though their identities are hidden. Key information and public relations benefits accrued to Red's government. Blue's Minister of Defence "disappears".
Variants Back to Top

Several ways to vary this scenario exist. If it seems the SF are just too badly outnumbered, grant them 1 or 2 IAVRs per team. If you just want some variety, make the incursion force NOT belong to the nation on the West side of the board. They could be a 3rd party force operating either with or without Blue's permission. The SF could be given a third team, although that is a substantial increase in power. The pursuing militia could be given an extra squad. I would not recommend giving the pursuers an extra squad unless you also give the SF team an extra fireteam and this would be one way to scale the scenario up to include more players. One option to give the SF more of a chance is to force the pursuing militia units to spot the fleeing SF unit in order to fire at them (the whole area being a Wald or forest, this has some justification).

Another variant would be to run this same scenario as an FMA Skirmish game rather than a stargrunt game. It should work equally well, though the SF troops would have to be split between veteran and elite and the security forces would be a mix of regular and green with perhaps one veteran (the platoon sergeant).

After Action Report Back to Top

In the scenario as run, the end result was a Crushing Blue Victory, but it could easily have been a draw or even a Red Victory if the SF player didn't make certain poor decisions and if he could have rolled decently to save himself. In the scenario as played, the incursion was by UN Special Intelligence Agency operatives ostensibly disguised as Blue Force troops. They were capturing two members of the Red nation's government (a militia commander and a paramilitary leader) to take them to appear before the United Nations' Inteplanetary War Crimes Tribunal.

The narrative version of the AAR is here.

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