Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life; currently concentrating on a re-fight of the entire English Civil War, but with numerous discursions into battles from many different periods. The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Mercy Patrol: A WW2 Skirmish Wargaming AAR

I did another WW2 skirmish adapted from one on Just Jack's blog.  This time our intrepid US squad is sending a patrol to investigate a knocked out US tank, to see if there are any survivors.  The US patrol do not know if there are enemy forces in the area.  As it turns out, there are: a small group of German infantry with an MG42...

The Forces:

1 x Average SMG, 2 x Average Rifles, 3 x Novice Rifles

1 x Veteran SMG, 1 x Average MG42, 1 x Average Pistol (no.2 for the LMG), 1 x Average Rifle

The US patrol simply has to get up to the tank ans spend a turn checking for any survivors (as it happens there aren't, but the US patrol doesn't know that - it might increase the interest (and challenge) of the scenario to dice for the crew's wounds and let the US deal with them).

The Set-Up:

The US patrol enters behind a small, partially wooded hill.

A German NCO having a quick smoke behind an empty farm building.

A German MG42 team stretching their legs.

A solitary German grenadier on patrol.

The whole battlefield: see the US approach from the bottom left; the knocked out Sherman is top-centre.
The Battle:
Half the US patrol enter the small copse to observe the ground and set up a base of fire.

Covered by the others, the remainder of the US patrol rushes forward towards the cover of the buildings.

The German Gefreiter has seen them though...

And opens fire, seriously wounding the US point man

The two advancing Americans break left and reach cover

Hearing the rattle of MP40 fire, the MG42 team get their act together

And the grenadier comes up, towards the cover of another copse

The US attackers decide to go both ways at once to try and confuse the German NCO

One of the riflemen is covering the gap to get the German if he moves

The GI advances slowly, hugging the wall for cover; the trees and a slight dip protect him (unknowingly!) from the German MG42 team.

Another shot...

The GI and the German NCO exchange (ineffective) fire

Which lets the US Corporal charge in...

The German NCO, is surprised, wounded and knocked down

The US pair resume their advance on the knocked out tank; but the German grenadier in the copse spots the lead man!

The shot hits the GI and knocks him out (briefly)!

The US Corporal quickly runs to the tank to check it out: empty.  The crew are obviously dead, prisoners or on the run...he bugs out as quickly as possible to avoid any further fire.  As he does so, the MG42 team open up (they are on the hill behind the trees) but they miss!

The initial point man has recovered enough to start crawling back towards the US lines

One can just see the concealed MG42 team on the hill behind the trees (top-left)

The second wounded GI has recovered enough to run back towards the farm buildings with his Corporal

One of the base of fire team gives the wounded GI a helping hand; the others are firing (totally ineffectually) at the German grenadier

The US Corporal retreats on his proven route

The German grenadier (you can just make him out in the distant copse!) fires a couple of shots as the US pair run across his field of view...but without success

And they reach safety
Game Notes:  Despite a couple of scary moments for the US patrol, they did succeed in their mission, at the cost of one seriously wounded soldier for each side.  Another GI was lightly wounded, although this was actually a mistake by myself: his helmet should have protected him against the light head wound result in the rules.

Don Featherstone's Skirmish Wargaming rules gave another good game, although I felt that this game exposed even more of their weaknesses than the first.  The lack of observation, reaction and morale rules really told.  The shooting and melee rules seem not too bad and although they don't look it at first glance, make hits realistically difficult on soldiers taking appropriate precautions - which is why the two US lead men got hit, it being harder to take cover against unsuspected enemies.  But where they do fall down is in the lack of suppression, so the base of fire team couldn't get the German grenadier's head down, since they had no chance of firing for effect.  This doesn't seem quite right.  I think the rules assume that in dangerous situations the rules suggest, but don't force, the player to make life preserving decisions; but where the risk is low, the soldiers can act almost with impunity.  As an extra quirk, it is the act of firing not the act of being fired upon which causes the firer to be "shaken".  Also, I think that "Veterans" are slightly too strong in comparison to "Novices" in these rules.  There are some double- or triple-jeopardy effects in play which makes the former much much more effective than the latter.  Since there are no leadership or morale rules to affect, Veterans become more like heroic warriors because their bonuses are entirely in shooting and melee. I don't think I will play lots of WW2 games with these rules but if I were to, then I think I would want to do some work in a few areas - although this in itself is entirely in the spirit of a Donald Featherstone wargame.

Figures again by Battlefront and the Plastic Soldier Company.


  1. Nice AAR. Your conclusion kind of confirmed my thoughts that Featherstone may be a little dated. I like the scenario, though. I'll have to try the same scenario with Nuts!

  2. Thanks very much Kurt. Insofar as they go, the rules are okay - better than I expected in some ways - but the omissions are there and telling. I think if one liked them, then the "missing bits" could fairly easily be incorporated - maybe by someone who particularly liked the Don Featherstone style, or who wanted to use a single set for all skirmish games. I quite fancy using this one with Nuts! too, and I expect that will happen at some point.

    And naturally all the kudos for the scenario must go to JustJack, since I am merrily stealing all his scenario ideas at the moment.

    1. Hello John,

      You have played them and I have not but you have confirmed the suspicion that playing a game these days without some sort of morale just itches for some tinkering to add them in!

    2. Yes, I agree. It won't be this month, but sometime in the not too distant future I will try to pull together a comparison post of all the rules I have used for this type of game.

    3. Yes please! I love comparison posts! And I know others that love them too. No pressure :-) Actually, no pressure at all as I have been trying to do one with the last 12 ancients rules I played, and started to play some 6mm battalion WW2 rules to do a comparison but over the past 4 years have only used 2 of the 8 or so I would like to play!

  3. These rules are based on the Skirmish Wargames Group's Old West Skirmish Wargames rules. (New reprint here, other places as well:

    Mike Blake, one of the authors, wrote and article on reactions in the old US magazine The Courier Vol.8 No. 5. You can get a pdf of the magazine here:

    These might add some of what you are missing.

  4. Many thanks for the tip Stu Rat, I will have a look.