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"Danger Zone - Test Action Scenario 1: Mistaken Identity?" Topic

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Bozkashi Jones01 Oct 2016 3:19 p.m. PST

During the development of Danger Zone, my modern naval combat rules, I intend to put a series of Test Attack Scenarios on the message board for comment. The idea is to get opinions on how well the rules reflect the results one would expect of a given scenario.

I've selected the scenarios as far as possible from real life engagements and I will give an outline of the historical events and a walk through of the first test. I will then replay the scenario nine times and summarise each test.

This should give a reasonable range of possible results and, together with the walk through, give an idea of the mechanics. I'd be grateful for your thoughts on how well the rules handle each encounter.


USS Stark was deployed to the Middle East Force in 1987, commanded by Captain Glenn R. Brindel. On 17 May 1987, she was hit by two Exocet anti-ship missiles fired by a heavily modified Dassault Falcon 50 business jet used by the Iraqi Air Force. The frigate did not detect the missiles with radar; warning was given by the lookout only moments before the missiles struck. The first penetrated the port-side hull and failed to detonate, but left flaming rocket fuel in its path. The second entered at almost the same point, and, leaving a 3-by-4-meter gash, exploded in crew quarters. Captain Brindel had placed a great emphasis on damage control and this, arguably, saved the ship despite being crippled in the attack.

In each test I assumed the Iraqis had the initiative. In Danger Zone each side takes turns drawing counters from a bag, the colour of the counter indicating which side gets to move one of its ships or aircraft. The nominated asset then completes its whole move before the next counter is drawn.

In this scenario the Americans have a modifier, which applies throughout the first turn of combat, which reflects the lack of combat readiness. This is in no way a reflection of the crew of the Stark; it is just to reflect the reduced chance of the ship responding correctly to the situation. During the attack, for example, the Close-in Weapons System was not set to automatic to prevent accidents.

The Dassault begins the move at 73nm from the Stark

The Iraqi player gets to activate and announces that he will close on the USS Stark, moving the aircraft 10" to 63nm range, and attempts to acquire the American ship. The Iraqi plane is at ‘low' altitude, representing around 5,000 feet, so the radar horizon is 65nm.

The Dassault has been fitted with Mirage avionics so has a base radar value of ‘4', meaning it needs to score 4 or more on a D6. There are no modifiers and the Iraqi player throws a 5, so achieves a lock which he will keep. The Stark has a radar value of ‘3', meaning it needs to score 3 or more. However, due to lack of readiness he has a modifier. One modifier adds one to the score required, more than one modifier adds three, so in this case he needs to throw 4 or more. He throws a 2.

The Iraqi player moves his aircraft forward 10" to 53nm range. He does not need to reacquire the Stark so there is nothing more for him to do. The American player, however, makes a second attempt to lock on to the aircraft, again needing 4 or more. This time the US player is lucky and throws the 4 needed.

After moving another 10" the Iraqi aircraft is 43nm out. The US player warns the Iraqi to back off but, because of the Rules of Engagement, does not fire.

The Iraqi response is to move his Dassault another 10", bringing it to within 33nm. Again the US player does not fire due to the restrictions of the RoE and the scenario. This does reflect the historical events; in the actual encounter the Iraqi plane was warned moments before the attack to turn away.

The Iraqi player moves to 23nm and launches two Exocet missiles. These are placed on the table next to the aircraft and the US player has a chance to detect them. The base chance, as we know, is 3 for an OH Perry Class frigate like the Stark, but they are still suffering from a lack of readiness and they are facing missiles. This means radar ability of 3, and add 3 for multiple modifiers: a 6 is needed. There are other factors, the fact that the missiles are sea-skimming at wave top height for example, but this is irrelevant; if we already know a couple of modifiers are applied we add the 3 and don't have to worry about hunting through a long list of possibilities.

The US player throws two D6, one for each missile, and scores a 5 and a 6. He has detected, at least in part, the separation and fires an SM-1MR surface to air missile to intercept. This too has a base ability of ‘3' to hit, but the same modifiers apply so a 6 is needed. Though it might seem strange to keep a modifier reflecting a lack of readiness on a missile but this reflects the chances of mistakes by the crew in setting the mode and guidance. The US player throws a 4 and misses.

The missiles are moved forward 10" to 13nm out and the US player fires a second SM-1MR. he throws a 1 and misses.

Things now look pretty desperate; the American player fires a third missile and this misses (throwing a 5).

The missiles are placed in base-to-base contact with the Stark and we work out CIWS hits. The Stark has a CIWS value of ‘4' so a 4 or more is usually required. As we still have multiple modifiers we add 3 to the score needed which means we need 7. Anything over 6 needs a double 6 and the US player throws a 5 and a 2, so he has to brace himself for two missiles hitting his ship. To hit the Exocets have a base value of ‘3' and there are no modifiers: the Iraqi player throws a 2 and a 3, meaning one miss and one hit.

Damage is worked out on a simple table cross referencing the warhead size against the ship size, in this case ‘Light' against size ‘B'. The result in this case is 12=Damaged, 3456=Heavy damage. The Iraqi player throws a 3 and the Stark is heavily damaged. She can still use her CIWS but no other systems and slows to a stop.

In the next turn the Iraqi player swings his Dassault around and gets away as quickly as possible. The US player begins his damage control effort. He needs to throw 5 or 6 to be safe but a 1 or 2 will see the fires spread and he will be crippled. He throws a 1, so 15 minutes after the attack he is now in a desperate situation.

As the ship is now crippled he must throw every hour (4 turns). His next throw is another 1 so, one hour and fifteen minutes after the attack the order is given to abandon ship.

TAS 1.2

In the second play through the US player fails to lock on to the Iraqi plane. He does, amazingly, detect both Exocets as soon as they are launched but fails to hit either. One misses but the other hits causing damage. Fifteen minutes after the attack the fires have spread, causing heavy damage, but by +00:30 the damage is under control and the ship is safe.

TAS 1.3

The US player detects the threat but does not fire due to the RoE. He does detect one of the Exocets and manages to shoot it down, but the other hits causing heavy damage. At +00:30 the fires have spread and the ship is crippled but at +2:30 the fires and flooding are under control.

TAS 1.4

The Stark again detects separation and shoots one of the Exocets down. The remaining missile hits causing damage. As the US ship has detected the Dassault and can still use her area defence systems she fires an SM-1MR. The Iraqi scrams but is still in range. The missile misses. At +00:15 the fires are under control and the ship is able to carry on.

TAS 1.5

The US ship again detects the incoming missiles but does not manage to down either, being hit by one missile causing damage. She fires on the retreating Iraqi plane, which scrams, but the SM-1MR finds its mark and the Dassault disintegrates in a fireball. At +01:00 the ship is safe and able to carry on.

TAS 1.6

This time neither missile is detected and one hits the Stark causing heavy damage. At +00:15 the fires spread and she is crippled and at +01:15 she is abandoned.

TAS 1.7

The Stark again fails to detect the incoming missiles and one hits causing damage. She fires on the retreating Iraqi plane but misses. At +00:15 she has the damage under control and is safe.

TAS 1.8

On this occasion Stark detects one of the Exocets some 13nm out and shoots it down with her second SM-1MR. The other missile hits, causing heavy damage. At +00:15 she is crippled and at +01:15 she is sinking.

TAS 1.9

Stark detects the incoming missiles and manages to take one down. The other hits causing heavy damage but by +00:30 this is brought under control.

TAS 1.10

The attack is not detected and both missiles hit the Stark, causing heavy damage. By +00:15 she is crippled but she is stable by +01:15.


So there we have it; 10 attacks played out and the Stark is sunk in 3, crippled in 4 and damaged in 3. The attacking aircraft was detected every time, usually at 53-63 miles, although once it did get to 33 miles, and of the 20 attacking Exocets 9 were detected and of these 4 were destroyed.

One thing I am certain of however, is that without the surprise and the Rules of Engagement the Iraqi attack would have been suicidal.

Anyway, hope you've found this interesting, and I'd be interested to hear your thoughts and comments. Does this sound ‘right' to you? It does to me, but it's sometimes difficult to take that step back.



Rev Zoom02 Sep 2019 2:53 p.m. PST

Nick, I really like the concept. I've been reading your after action resports and would like to try this in other situations. Here is something I came up with that you probably already thought of:

THREAT LEVEL – each time the enemy does something detectible it raises the threat level by one. At certain level, upon passing a set level and on a roll of d6 > = threat level, ROE will change. Depending on how much greater than threat level will determine how to proceed. For example, Threat Level = d6 means weapons free against threat with severe political consequences, 1 over means weapons free with moderate political consequences, and so forth.

Bozkashi Jones05 Sep 2019 3:18 a.m. PST

Golly! This is a blast from the past!

Cheers Rev Zoom, and I really like the idea of threat levels.

It maybe something to do with growing up during the Cold War, but that whole "will they/won't they" tension is something I really like in modern games. Once the shooting starts modern games don't really last too long in my experience – within minutes one side is usually obliterated or both sides have run out of ASMs, so the action building up to that point is, for me, the key to the game.

I have streamlined the mechanics since I wrote this, but it's interesting to see that the core mechanics have remained essentially the same.


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