Sunday, 11 March 2012

"They pat some good boys on the head....

And put some to the rod,
but I never thought they'd put me in the.....GOON SQUAD!"

"Oliver's Army" and "Goon Squad" are my favourite tracks off "Armed Forces"; I'm not entirely sure as to what Mr McManus is saying in the former but have always suspected it's a touch critical. I read it as a paean to the working class backbone of the British Army and as a roll coll of the various hell holes they ended up in post 1945 and pre Falklands. "Goon Squad" strikes me as a "Full Metal Jacket" style immersion into the arts of war or worse.

And what has this to do with wargaming you are asking. Well..........I think I first encountered GOONS in Pat Reid's Colditz books - where the POWs called the guards goons. Then, reading Raymond Chandler, a goon was a dumb thug with a gun. Then PJ O'Rourke referred to the Phillipines as "guns, goons and gold". By the time Mark and I were working on our "Cross of Iron" campaign booklet an idea formed - the Goon Squad. Simply a bunch of guys with guns; the premise being that a handfull of charactised (ok, charactured) wehrmacht would have to fight a shedload of russians - divided into mobs of roughly squad size. A penal squad was a far less dangerous proposition than a elite Scout squad.

The logical conclusion is 4 SAS troopers, bottled up to the max who have their bottle tracked to the Nth degree, while the bunch of crazed hegemonist mercenaries treat bottle as a group thing - instant saving in paperkeeping. An alternative is for the goons each to have a nominal bottle of say 8 (even numbers are best. Why? Wait for it, wait for it...) but on taking a single hit are taken out. If they are subject to a near miss or a pin result, you just use half (evens are best) the nominal bottle until they recover; though being pinned is usually a recipe for the stack up, flash-bang, game over bit of the game.

This has applications everywhere. Brit Paras lurking in gardens at Arnhem - individuals, Pz Grenadiers - goons. Heroic Sappers heroically infiltrating FB Betty Lou - individuals; western lackey running dogs of the USA - goons. Barry John and Gareth Edwards - heroes, the entire 1970s English XV - well, you get the picture.....

Its not such a far step to say that you can't control your goons. So, you put them out, with a leader or two in the right place to keep them moving and roll.....

12 do nothing
3 move half
4 move half or fire
5 move full or fire
6 move full and fire
+/- for a leader in command "bubble"/ men down from squad

I tried this with 3 fire teams of far future Royal Marines, a fire support team and two leaders. I gave them +1 anyway and made the FST imobile. Some dashed up, some hunkered down firing, one sped forward firing and got hit (a 6 scored a hit) and still they kept going. The leaders dashed about a bit keeping it together - one had to be attached to the FST who seemed oddly reluctant to actually fire.

I'm thinking of tweaking the chart so you have one for combat rifle teams, FSTs, short range sidearms, gunslingers and close combat nutters. So, lets go outside the box......think The Wire....Omar Little (bottled up character) rips off some Stansfield Corner Boys (gunslinger goons); Slim Charles and Cutty (short range sidearms) go after the Stansfield Crew (gunslingers again): the Task Force swoop on the Barksdales - SWAT (combat riflemen), detectives (short range sidearms) while Barksdale himself is a leader but his "soldiers" are gunslingers.

And finally, some visual aid. Cigar Chomping Ernesto is a leader with his own bottle; he has two fireteams - one of cuban goons and another of balaclava clad narcotraficantes of dubious value (gunslingers). Equally the four balaclava chaps could be FMLN cadre (bottled up characters or elite combat rifle goons) in which case Ernesto has a much more promising force.

So, I hope that made sense. Conrad's comment on the previous post had me thinking; it is tedious tracking bottle but bottle is a handy catch all, just lose some of the paperwork.




  1. That makes a certain amount of sense. I was going slightly mental trying to run a small solo game.

  2. Good to hear it makes sense, Mr Kinch. The problem is that you can exchange one set of problems - who's carrying the spare link? The mortar team is hit while moving, which bit of kit is with the casualty? How is PFC Doberman's athletes foot (-1 activation) - for another admin nightmare......which figures which? Its all too easy to misplace a bottle factor and turn a hero into a zero by accident. Then again Bottle/Edna does produce standout moments - in that first Free Taff / SAS firefight, one of the least skilled Taffs rolled a natural 2 with an M1 carbine and slotted the driver; then the SAS struck back BUT the another Free Taff passed his bottle with a natural 4, stood up took aim with his sterling and critically wounded another.