Oh My God! They Got Johnny!
Optional Rules for Snipers for GEV and Ogre Miniatures
by Eamon Honan
Francois breathed, slowly, steadily. "I am calm," he told his beating heat and trembling fingers. "I am calm," he told his shivering legs. Sweat ran down his back and pooled in his skivvies. His trembling stopped. He breathed again and let his hatred warm his belly.
He snuggled down in his sniper hole and reviewed his guns. He could see the troopers scurrying through the rubble. He flicked from camera to camera, watching the patrol as they made their way closer to the heart of the town. They had not taken the town yet and probably did not want to risk armor units in the warren of ruined buildings. He studied them intently, were they Americans, Brazilians, or British turncoats?
They were past half of his guns now, moving up into the killing ground. He couldn't pick out the officer. He frowned and activated his eavesdropping gear. The patrol stopped dead, conscious of the presence on their radio net. One stopped and tapped the side of his head, others moved forward in a wedge formation, scanning the surrounding area. He watched them, they were good, spread out at fifteen meter intervals. He would probably only get two or three. Probably American; their equipment looked good.
Fancois grinned and triggered the recording he'd made of the Argentinean two weeks before. "Madre dios, madre dios . . . help me momma, help me . . . holy Mary mother of God, pray for . . ." The soldier had cried for help in English, Portuguese and Spanish before he died. It was one of the more useful recordings in his library.
The patrol reacted quickly, fanning out, moving farther apart, using their suit sensors to search the area. Francois picked up curt orders over the net, sounded American all right. The guttural tones of English grated on his ears. He waited until the trooper second from the rear moved up, he flicked to his rear gun and drew a bead. He breathed in and slowly exhaled. It didn't matter with the remote controlled guns, but it was how he had been trained. He squuuuueeezzed.
The gun sixty meters away barked once. The trooper took the 20mm round in the back and went down. Shouts and numbers and codewords rattled across the net. Two troopers rushed the gun, the second kicking his jets and lifting twenty meters into the air over the weapon's position firing his rifle as he went. Francois switched guns and tracked. He squeezed the trigger slowly.
The depleted uranium shell scythed off the troopers leg and the man corkscrewed downwards. There was panic in the air, frantic yelps of pain, screaming a prayer he thought. The squad hit the ground and hugged cover. Francois thought of his home, the lasers that had lit up the sky over Marseilles, fighting a losing battle against Combine cruise missiles, their beams searching the night sky, the bright light that left spots before his eyes. He could hear the sobs of pain from the wounded soldier over the radio net. Hatred warmed his belly again.
* * *
There were those who thought the sniper was as dead as the dodo at the beginning of the Last War. Proponents of massed armored formations slugging it out with nuclear weapons saw infantry as a necessary evil at best, a complete irrelevance at worst. It was primarily through political pressure brought to bear on the Combine High Command by one of its elite infantry formations, the Marine Corps, that sniper survived on the Combine order of battle. The Marine Corps sniper was a specialist, armed with a large caliber accurized gauss rifle and an IR cloak that masked his heat signature and electronic countermeasures that spoofed the enemy's electronic detection gear.
Unfortunately, the Marine Corps sniper was as much an anachronism as his critics feared. A single man with a high powered rifle was simply too easy a target to find and kill. One round, maybe two, was the most he could expect to fire and survive the mission and even then he only had a fifty-fifty chance. Man-portable spoofing electronics were simply not good enough to mask his location for more than a minute of intensive scanning by even a squad of powered armor infantry. Drones made better and more cost effective scouts, depriving the sniper of one more of his roles. Marine corps snipers were reduced to forward observers, lasing targets for the artillery, a job they were overqualified for. Occasionally when intelligence got information that a senior officer was visiting the front lines, they would dispatch a sniper as an assassin. Otherwise the highly trained men who expected to be the terror of the battlefield sat in the rear areas teaching marksmanship to recruits and acting as errand boys for the artillery. Smart asses compared them to the cavalry of the First World War, highly trained, well equipped and completely useless.
It was left to the Paneuropeans to reinvent the sniper after their own elite marksmen were proved to be a bad investment of time, money and training. It was not a happy birth, but an innovation forced upon them by their own strategic reverses. The Europeans were outgunned, out-numbered and almost always on the defensive. In the aftermath of the invasion of France, lack of resources forced the Paneuropeans to consider more cost-effective ways of defense. It was a Belgian Infantry Chef de Battalion, James Ensor, whose unit had been taken heavy casualties in the battles around Brussels that was the father of the new system. Ensor's battalion had been asked to fight a series of holding actions to buy time for retreating troops to be evacuated. After his men had butchered the armor units sent to blast them out of their positions, the Combine sent in assault troops armed with flame-throwers and satchel nukes. The fighting was close and bloody and while the battalion accomplished their mission, they took grievous casualties in doing so. When battalion was sent to France for a period of rest and re-organization, Ensor had some time on his hands and began to experiment with better ways of fighting delaying actions, a function previously served by sniper teams. He took his ideas to the sub-committee on defense and had his ideas ignored. It took two long painful years and a unauthorized "field test" during a Combine probe into Alsace-Lorraine for Ensor to gain the attention of military men of influence. The central committee on procurement reviewed his ideas and prototypes (several of which had seen extensive action) and after one or two revisions, adopted them.
Ensors system was quite simple, a snipers role was still to sow confusion and to shake the confidence and morale of enemy soldiers. Advanced targeting and detection system made this impossible using standard sniping tactics. Ensors essential leap was the move the sniper away from his weapon and to multiply the number he commanded. Each sniper controlled an area approximately a mile in diameter, controlling between six to eight remote controlled 20mm rifles. Throughout this area were scattered cameras, motion sensors and other communications and detection equipment.
The sniper's job was to tie enemy infantry up for as long as possible by harassing them, sapping their morale and restricting their ability to move. A sniper must prevent enemy infantry bypassing his position by using long range fire to attract their attention and lure them into his area. Against enemy armor, the sniper has the choice of either combining fire from all his guns to destroy the vehicle (typically only possible with a light tank or GEV) or strip the vehicle of any supporting infantry leaving it open to an assault from friendly infantry. The more foolhardy try to play possum, allow their position to be over run and then attack the rear echelon units as they move in.
Prior to the game, the player (typically the defender) using snipers will place them in specific hex or on the board. A single infantry squad counter or miniature represents a sniper. The single squad does not have to be identified as a sniper until troops have moved into overrun combat with it. Snipers are static and once placed may not move for the rest of the game. A sniper may "fade away" and be taken off the board, the unit is not counted as destroyed and the opposing player does not gain victory points for it. A sniper may not "fade away" when there are infantry in overrun combat with him. When infantry move into overrun combat with a sniper, they may choose to either to try and flush him out or move on.
Flushing out a sniper requires the unit to roll under its strength points on a die (d6). Should it do so, the sniper is either killed or frightened away. If the roll is equal to or above the units strength points, the unit is occupied and may not move or fire for a number of turns equal to the number of pips it failed by. The unit may then either move on or attempt to flush out the sniper again. The unit may still defend itself in overrun combat.
Example: A three-strength infantry platoon moves into overrun with what it believes to be an infantry squad. However, the squad is in fact a sniper. The platoon's player decides to flush out the sniper and rolls a d6. He rolls a three and fails to flush the sniper. His unit must spend one turn without moving or shooting, he may then try again.
Moving through the sniper fire is both difficult and potentially suicidal. The sniper may make a 1-1 attack against the unit, which may not fire back. On an X result, the unit loses one squad. On a D result, the unit is pinned down for one turn during which it may not move or fire. Pinned units may defend themselves in overrun combat.
Snipers may in a very limited manner engage armored units, by combining the fire from as many of their guns as possible and expending most of their ammunition, they may make a single Strength 1 attack on an armored unit. This may only be done once per game, after which they must "fade away."
Snipers can be attacked by long-range fire, however, they benefit from all the terrain benefits enjoyed by infantry (double defense in woodland, triple in city). The attacking units are simply pumping ordinance into the general area and hoping for the best, because it is very difficult to target a sniper who is well concealed. Consequently, the sniper is only killed on an XX result. On an X result, enough of the sniper's guns have been destroyed that he is rendered ineffective. The sniper is removed from the board, but no victory points are gained for killing him.
(Editor's Note: For those without Ogre Miniatures, an XX result is any X in a column on the Combat Results Table after the first, i.e. for an attack of 1-1 odds, a "5" is an X result, and a "6" is an XX.)
Notes on the Care and Feeding of Snipers
Snipers are specialist infantry much, like marines and engineers. Well-deployed, they can be devastating; badly deployed, they are a waste of points. Their immobility makes it impossible to re-deploy them if their initial placement is bad, so they should be placed where they can do the most good, in build up areas, forests, and revetments. They are strictly speaking an anti-infantry weapon, so they should be placed where you believe the enemy infantry is going to go. Snipers can be used in conjunction with normal infantry to create an anti-armor team. A sniper occupies the armor unit's infantry screen, while the infantry unit over-runs the armor. Secondly, holding a single infantry unit in reserve in a build up area defended by several snipers can be very useful. While the sniper occupies or pins the attacking infantry, the defending infantry sits back and pours fire into them from a distance.
Article publication date: January 25, 2002
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