Thursday, 3 October 2013

Sergeant Pavlov's Dogs

Sergeant Pavlov’s Dogs
This game began life, as with so many others featured in these pages, as a silly idea. Specifically, I threw it together to serve as a light pre-Christmas game to take to the Sheffield club in late 2005. The original silly idea, however, was not my own but rather that of the pre-WW2 Red Army. Their cunning plan was to train dogs by throwing their food under tanks. When facing enemy tanks, the dogs would be fitted with an explosive backpack and a sticky-up contact fuse which would detonate as the hungry dog scampered under a panzer. There were, however, a couple of flaws in the plan. Firstly, not only do dogs tend to have only limited AFV recognition skills, but the many of the Russian tanks used for training used diesel engines, whereas the panzers were fitted with petrol power units which smell and sound very different. And a dog’s two main senses are….?
The original version of the game used 20mm toys. As well as a selection of early Panzers, I was able to gather a ramshackle assortment Soviet tanks, some with rather too many turrets than was strictly necessary. The dogs were printed on genuine cardboard. This version was played at both COW and the ‘Bunker’ CALF in 2006.
As 2006 drew to a close, and WD Display Team North still lacked a 2007 game, a degree of panic set in. Our original idea was clearly going to require much more work than we had originally hoped, so after some pondering, I offered the services of Sgt Pavlov. I’d already been tinkering with another (completely unrelated) game using the Kallistra hex-grid terrain, and it occurred to me that the use of a hex-grid could speed up the game significantly. A call to the jolly nice folks at Peter Pig (figures with more ‘oink’) yielded an offer of sponsorship which was followed by the arrival of a consignment of 15mm tanks and dogs.
The new version was unleashed on an only mildly shocked wargaming public at Sheffield Triples in March this year (2007) and was run throughout the 2 day show.  I am pleased to report that at Triples Sgt. Pavlov’s Dogs was awarded First Prize in the Best Participation Game category.

Below are the umpire notes which will enable you to replicate the game. If you’re fool enough.

Umpire Notes – not to be dignified with the title ‘rules’.
Late 1941 – the western approaches to Moscow. As German advance continues, Soviet forces mount a last ditch anti-tank defence using novel guided weapons…
Snow covers the ground, and a blizzard has reduced visibility to about 100 metres (2 hexes)
Players         if 1 = Player is Russian                       if 2 = 2 Russian, 1 German
                        if 3 = 2 Germans, 1 Russian                if 4 = 2 Germans, Russian tanker, Sgt Pavlov
The terrain consists of 10cm hexes laid 8 wide by 15 long. Deploy the 10 German tanks along the western (short) table edge. All tanks/dogs must face a hex side. 12 dogs are available.
Place Sgt Pavlov’s lorry in the centre of the table, and the 6 Russian tanks anywhere in the eastern half.
Sequence of Play

  1. Move Dogs*
  2. Russian tanks fire
  3. Russian tanks move*
  4. German tanks fire
  5. German tanks move*                                                  * = compulsory!
Roll 1D8 (the ‘dog dice’) per dog and move the dog to to an adjacent hex as indicated by the ‘dog direction hex’. (1 is due north, 4 south etc)
On a roll of 7, the dog does not move. On an 8 move 1 hex towards the nearest live tank.
If a dog contacts a tank, roll 1D6: 1-2 = dud bomb! 3-6 = bang – tank destroyed!
In both cases the dog is removed!
Tank Gunnery
Visibility (and thus gun range) is 2 hexes. To fire, roll 1 black and 1 white D6. If Black > White, target is hit. A hit target makes a saving roll:
Light (PzII, T-26) need a 6.    Medium (PzIII, PzIV, T-34) need 5, 6.    Heavy (KV) need 4,5,6.
Tank Movement
Roll 1D6-2 for each tank and move that number of hexes (may start with a turn of up to 60°). Tanks which may not move are deemed to have stalled or become stuck.
If a moving tank passes through or ends it’s move in a hex containing a dog, roll 1D6:                  
1 = run over, dog removed
2-5 = dog runs away – roll 1D8 as usual.
6 = bang – tank destroyed!
Who won?
The Fascist Hitlerite Hordes win if they either exit four tanks from the eastern edge or kill all the Russian tanks. Any other result is a win for the Heroic Proletarian Defenders of the Motherland.


Stephen Beat said...

Hahahaha! It amused me to think that the Germans later tried a similar technique, but being 'technologically advanced' designed a complicated remote control robot cart...Which in turn reminded me of the old story of space pens.

When visiting NASA a Soviet Cosmonaut was being shown the latest advanced American technology. The guide explained how NASA had just successfully developed a pen that could write reliably in zero gravity. It had cost a billion dollars and taken years of research but they had cracked the problem...

The Cosmonaut wryly retorted 'we use pencils'!

Tim Gow said...

Stephen Beat
You mean the splendid 'Goliath' remote controlled bomb?

Paul Foster said...

Barkingly good post Tim!

Wg Cdr Luddite said...

Sniff ?
Woof !

Pete. said...

Played that game at Fiasco- was great fun.



Al said...

Unusual unit idea Tim, cool post

Ross Mac said...

Well we have enough dogs to try this at 1:1 scale, but where am I going to get the tanks? Maybe cars would do?

Brilliant game idea though.

Tim Gow said...

Ross Mac
Sgt. Pavlov's Dodge?

Will McNally said...

A great after-dinner game. I played it at the Delft show