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Learning Scenario with Harpoon V

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I'm loving the Harpoon V rules but find that I need to enter them slowly in order to get the hang of one portion of the rules before entering into another set (figure out SSM and SAMs before venturing to aircraft, subs, etc).  To learn the basics I set up a very simple scenario that has great replayability and has been good fun each time I've played it.

Scenario set up - March 22, 1988, 0600 local, 200nm SW of Tromso, Norway.  Sunrise 0304, sunset 2230.  Sea state 4, wind from 000, no clouds, visibility 60%.  The Soviets have invaded West Germany and war is on.  Unfortunately the start of hostilities found numerous merchant ships, NATO and Soviet at sea.  The Norwegians aren't prepared and can provide no help shepherding the NATO ships back to port.  NATO has one OH Perry class ship in the area and 5 NATO merchants at sea.  The Soviets have 4 Nanuchkas at sea and 2 Soviet merchants.

Forces - NATO - an OH Perry class ship and 5 merchants (I used the US Comorant class ship as a 'generic' merchant).  Soviet - 4 Nanuchkas and 2 merchants (I used the same US Comorant ship as a 'generic' Soviet merchant).

Map - a 250nm by 250nm map with Tromso near the NE corner of the map.  The map is large enough to show Tromso in the NE, Narvik in the SE, and the sea north of Tromso (for the Soviet exit).

Initial Set Up - the fun of the scenario is that all forces are distributed randomly.  I used a simple RAND formula in Excel to figure out the 250x250 coordinate where each ship began.  Using this random generation created very different strategies and sets of decision for both sides each time the scenario was played.  Initially each merchant is randomly assigned a direction and its movement is plotted on that course until contacted.  The OH Perry and Nanuchkas are free to plot their movement however they like.

Initial Rules - the Merchants aren't aware the war has started.  The OH Perry or Nanuchkas must contact each merchant and convince them that they are in danger and that they must return to port.  Each 30 minutes there is a 75% chance that a merchant will receive the message.  There is a 50% chance that the merchant will believe the message as genuine (this goes up 10% each subsequent contact).  If the merchant believes the message as genuine there is a 75% chance that they will follow any instructions given (to return to port, turn off nav radar, etc.).  Once a merchant has rolled to follow instructions they will do so for the rest of the game.  If the OH Perry, its helo, or a Nanuchka come within visual of a merchant, the merchant will automatically follow instructions.

Orders - The OH Perry is ordered to get the merchants to either Tromso or Narvik as quickly as possible and protect them.  The Nanuchkas are ordered to seek out the NATO merchants and destroy them.  Safety of the Soviet merchants getting around northern Norway is secondary.

Victory Conditions - NATO - Each undamaged merchant returned to safety (at Tromso or Narvik) is worth 10 points.  Each damaged merchant returned to safety is worth 5 points.  Each Soviet merchant sunk is worth 3 points, each Soviet merchant damaged is worth 1 point.  No points are scored for sinking or damaging the Nanuchkas.

Victory Conditions - Soviet - Each NATO merchant sunk is worth 10 points and each one damaged is worth 5 points.  Each Soviet merchant returned to safety (around northern Norway) is worth 3 points and if damaged 1 point.  No points are scored for sinking or damaging the OH Perry.

Victory Conditions - General - If a merchant goes off the map (instead of returning safely) then the opposing side is awarded 5 victory points.

Game End - the game ends when all merchants are safely returned or sunk.


Observations - Invariably with the random set up there will be a merchant fairly close to an enemy combatant and it will get picked off pretty quickly.  Beyond that the Soviets have to decide whether to concentrate their forces in case they encounter the OH Perry or stay far apart to maximize their search.  Early on the Soviets will normally have some luck detecting the nav radar of a merchant.  Beyond that the deck is stacked against the Soviets because it's difficult for them to find the NATO units.  The OH Perry has to decide whether to try to convoy the merchants or it can or simply tell them to return to port and then hunt down the Nanuchkas one by one (or avoid them).  In all scenarios the Seahawks are the difference makers.  Their ability to find the Nanuchkas without giving away the OH Perry location is key.  The OH Perry has to be careful.  Dealing with one Nanuchka isn't too bad.  Two at a time is tough and if the Soviets concentrate 3 against the OH Perry then it's probably light's out for the OH Perry.  I've played the scenario 4 times and each side has won twice.

Variants - Because the Seahawk is such a big part of the NATO success try increasing the sea state to 5 where there is a chance that the Seahawk may crash on takeoff/landing.  Another variant is to increase the sea state to 6 where the Seahawk can't be used.


Overall - I'm still learning the rules and probably got a few of them wrong but it's been fun.  The next iteration is to throw in a sub for each side so I can learn those rules.  Aircraft is probably after that.



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