Harpoon: Captain’s Edition

Captain’s Edition – Harpoon is a relatively low complexity strategic level board game set during the latter stages of the Cold War for modern naval battles. Unlike its namesake, Harpoon, emphasis is on play ability.

Harpoon, for all its super detail, can move things along a little slowly and requires a fairly heavy commitment to get across the rules often with a dedicated group of players. Captain’s Edition – Harpoon is much easier to get into and as the box says can indeed be started to be played in 30 minutes making it a game you can play with even those with only a passing interest in naval warfare.

There are a couple of online blogs that have some additional content for Captain’s Edition – Harpoon which are worthwhile checking out;

Rocky Mountain Navy

Hexes and Hand grenades

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Captain’s Edition – Harpoon

So putting it to the test I put together a Tabletop Simulator module for the game and and playing through scenario 5 to give it a bit of a run through.

I chose scenario five as it incorporates missile fire, gunfire, all rules for movement and detection and the use of hidden movement counters. So this more or less covers most of the elements of play excluding (obviously) submarines and air assets.So without further ado here’s my run through of scenario five and the solo rules that I used to incorporate a hidden movement element for the game-bot OPFOR ‘player’ enabling solo play – This is useful whilst you’re working through learning the game system or for any of the other scenarios. Whilst not bullet proof it forms something of a useful structure to be used for other scenarios.

As part of this process I’m doing this solo so I can learn the game at my own pace and focus on what should be happening instead of racing through a game in any particular time period are playing in someone else. As a result I put together a small solo – as part of this process I’m doing this solo so I can learn the game at my own pace and focus on what should be happening instead of racing through a game in a particular time period are playing in someone else.

As a result I put together a small solo game-bot to play against that will assist in making sensible decisions and keep the game relatively interesting to play. as part of this process I’m doing this solo so I can learn the game at my own pace and focus on what should be happening instead of racing through a game in any particular time period are playing in someone else.

HIDDEN (SOLO) play in Harpoon:CE

PLAYER SEARCHES

For each scenario use the number of TF counters equal to the number of vessels in the scenario for an (OPFOR) opposing side…often, but not always, the Soviets. The player organises his TF as usual.

So for Scenario 5 the Soviet player has ships = 3 TF markers (A, B, C). The NATO player has 5 ships which he organises and uses as normal – this is the player side. 

When a detection is successful against an OPFOR TF, or it makes it against the player-side, roll a die to determine the make up of that TF.

1-2 = dummy – Immediately roll a die. (DRM: -3 if enemy vessels are entirely submarines; -2  if subs/ships)

  • 1-2 reposition the TF marker 2D3 hexes away from your current TF forward of the direction of travel/objective of the player-side TF. 
  • 3-6 remove the marker as an ‘identified’ dummy.

3 = dummy* – roll again. On a 5-6 allocate a submarine to that TF marker (if only one is in the scenario – otherwise remove from play)

4 = 1 ship/sub 

5 = 2 ships/subs 

6 = 2 ships/subs + D3 other ships/subs 

Therefore when that ship is detected, randomly choose from the OPFOR vessels present. In our example there are three vessels – roll a d6 1-4 equals a Krivak FFG and 5-6 a Sovremennyy DDG. So, if the TF detected had rolled a 5 that would mean two ships would be detected in that TF, call it TF-A. As there are three ships to choose from, roll a d6. If a score of 2 and 5 were rolled then that would mean that TF-A is made up of a Krivak and Sovremennyy. 

In subsequent turns roll on the table and allow what ships are available from those not yet identified to form the TF under question.

Following on our example let’s say another TF marker has been detected. You roll a die scoring a 3 = dummy*. This might be a submarine if one is included in you scenario. As no submarines is in scenario 5 then it is removed as dummy counter. Next turn another TF marker is detected. You roll a die and score a 6 = 2 ships. As there is only one Krivak left then this (last vessel) must be allocated to the detected TF. 

As the NATO player in this scenario you have now detected the location of all the OPFOR vessels in Scenario 5.

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OPFOR SEARCHES 

OPFOR Ship movement is D3 hexes. If the die roll on a d6 is odd – then the ship uses its radar) – Eg if you roll a 5 (on a d6 = move 3 hexes with radar-on). If the ship rolls a natural one – roll again. On a 1 or 2 – move 1 hex. 3-4 it is stationary- radar-off and a 5-6 it is stationary-radar-on.  Ships always move toward player-side TF.

This is harder to accomplish as the OPFOR TFs are not yet know. Therefore, the easiest way to handle this is that when the player-side detects an OPFOR TF immediately roll a die.

On a score of 5-6 the OPFOR TF detects the player-side TF that just located it, with radar if in an adjacent hex, or visually if in the same hex.

File:Anchor pictogram.svg - Wikimedia Commons

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May be an image of text that says 'CAPTAIN'S EDITION HARPOON SCENARIO 5 -SHADOW BOXER PLAYTHROUGH'

Harpoon:Captain’s Edition Scenario 5 – Shadow Boxer

A US task force must move from Leuchars to Keflavik. Using (or not using) radar, it must search out any enemy ships and avoid them if possible. If this fails, it must fight its way past the enemy while protecting the merchant ships.

Forces: The NATO task force consists of two merchant ships, one Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, and two O.H. Perry-class frigates. The US force is opposed by two Krivak-class frigates and a Sovremennyy-class destroyer.

Setup: Place the NATO task force in Leuchars. Place the Soviet task force (or forces) anywhere on the map, but not within four hexes of either Leuchars or Keflavik.

Victory: The NATO player wins if both merchant ships arrive at Keflavik intact by the end of the twelfth turn. Otherwise, the Soviet player wins.

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Table all set up – forces not yet deployed.

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Possible departure routes to Keflavik

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(Note – for the first turn I moved the task force one more than it should have. This is because the merchants can only move at speed 2 and I mistakenly moved at the speed of the escort vessels speed 3. It makes no real difference and essentially the picture is correct and did not affect the outcome of the action).

Opening moves:
the NATO task force commander has resolved to take the first option and proceed around the north of Scotland and then west and correct course back to the north west.

Naturally enough the NATO force commander wanted to remain undetected and therefore did not use any active radar to locate enemy but used only his ESM systems to listen for enemy searching for his TF. The Soviet vessels are placed in and around the approaches to Scotland close in on the likely avenues of departure for NATO vessels.

Note – when determining the speed of the Soviet task forces I rolled a D6 – on a score of one, three and five the movement of the task forces was speed one, two and three respectively. In this case I deem that the Soviets would put their radar-on i.e. odd number equals radar on. A roll of two, four and six would equal the speed move of one, two and three but with the radar-off.

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Turn 2 – Soviet TF-A gets the first move and proceeds towards the location of TF-1. Task force one roles to conduct a visual search which it locates on a die roll of one. However, the true nature of TF-A and whether it’s real or a dummy is yet to be determined. A further roll gets a score of 1 which means that TF-A is moved to a new location and not positively identified as either a real contact or a false echo (which would remove the TF marker).

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Here you see TF-A being repositioned as per the solo OPFOR bot rules. By doing this it means that the NATO task force commander i.e. real player, is not entirely sure which of the remaining task forces actually has ships in it until the task force is positively identified.

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Turn 3 – in the chit draw all Soviet TFs were drawn before the NATO convoy had moved. As a result TF-B entered into hex 1517 and became visually spotted by TF-1.

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Having visually identified TF-B the NATO player then rolls another die. The roll is a ‘6′ which confirms that the dummy marker is indeed a ‘not real contact’ aka a false echo. Therefore it is removed from play. As a result it is now clear that the Soviet force must be in TF-A and TF-C.

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Turn 4 – in the next turn the NATO convoy moved first. Followed by Soviet TF-A immediately after. This resulted in radar contact between both forces. Rolling on the solo rules for force determination TF-A was confirmed as a real contact. The die roll of 6 meant that all the Soviet ships were in fact in TF-A. Naturally enough this confirmed that TF-C must therefore be a dummy.

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Here we see TF-C removed (as a dummy unit) and all vessels now identified as being in the two remaining task forces. This contact meant that the ships were now in combat range and an engagement would occur. As missile fire is simultaneous this was conducted first.

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COMBAT!

As per the rules all forces within each TF are placed in pairs. The NATO commander used his escort vessels to screen his merchant ships, naturally enough, and a lone Perry class frigate formed its own group.

The Soviet flag ship Sovremennyy along with a Krivak FFG formed one pair with the remaining Krivak frigate forming its own group.

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MISSILE COMBAT
Missile combat is simultaneous.

SSMs fire first – the Arleigh Burke launched her short and long range missiles for a total of 6 SSMs.

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The die rolls caused six Harpoon hits (6s cause x2 hits). This exhausted all the surface to surface missiles on the Arleigh Burke.

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(Simultaneously) The Sovremennyy launched its eight SS-N-22 SSMs back at the NATO convoy. The missiles at this point are not allocated to any targets as long-range missiles fire first before any surviving SSM’s are allocated to a target.

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The fearsome SAM defensive missile armament on board the Arleigh Burke shot down all eight SS-N-22 launched by the Sovremennyy

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…both ships undamaged.

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In response the Arleigh Burke targeted the Sovremennyy and inflicted one hull hit on it. This had the effect of inflicting half damage and thus slowed the Soviet task force to a maximum of speed 2.

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After one round of gunfire the NATO task force successfully breaks contact with the Soviet fleet on a die roll of 1!

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Both sides squared up to one another and in something of a bloodbath the Soviets lost 2 out of 3 ships but did manage to sink merchant No.2

END GAME

Whilst the American task force commander was happy that his warships made it to Keflavík, he did in fact fail in his mission to protect the merchant vessels, thus delivering the battered and bruised Soviet (OPFOR) force a victory.

…the game-bot won!

So ended a nice run through of H:CE. The game takes a wee bit of getting used to the flow of weapon system sequencing in combat but otherwise is a clean and approachable game system with some interesting moments in this encounter. Overall the OPFOR bot delivered believable and sensible results making solo play worthwhile.

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Rusles Summary Sh

Rules Summary

I made a condensed quick reference summary of the rules that should prove useful.

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