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Laser Skirmish Patrols

A patrol formation is a good tactic in Laser Skirmish yet it is often underutilized. A patrol formation, works well when the ‘player to space’ ratio is low, and location of some, or the entire opposition is unknown or when you have to ‘sneak’ past the opposition.

What is a Patrol?

on patrol According to Wikipedia a patrol is a small tactical unit sent out from a larger unit by land, sea or air for the purpose of combat, reconnaissance, or a combination of both. The basic task of a patrol is to follow a known route to investigate some feature of interest, or for fighting patrols, sent to find and engage the opposition.

A good space ratio to maintain in a patrol squad is the line of sight. You can see each other and hand signals, hear whistles, low voices, but cannot be hit with one burst of fire from the opposition. For example a patrol of only six to ten people can be very successful, as it is small enough to go undetected; large enough to do serious damage to any opposition, and flexible enough that the players can swap between roles as their direction or intent changes. Interestingly the ideal size for Boy Scout Patrol is 8 scouts.

Even when performing a base defence it can make a lot of sense to have small very stealthy patrol working around the opposition. This can really disorient the attackers who are expecting all the defenders to be around the base.  Beginners in particular tend to only look in the direction they are expecting the opposition to be so a small group working around their side or rear can often surprise the attackers.

There is also a general principle that whenever possible, you should never be located where the opposition expects you to be and if you know you have been spotted, you should move as soon as it is reasonably safe to do so.

A patrol formation can also be appropriate when moving into assault position. This is because the opposition may well have placed snipers well forward of their positions and in fact may have laid a forward ambush or even placed their own patrols as a type of forward defence. In all these scenarios, it is quite probable that the opposition will get the first round of fire off and typically from an advantageous position.

The patrol formation is an absolute must when hunting for snipers in the sniper games. Over a large area, anything else is plain suicide!

What is a patrol formation & how does it help?

There are few different patrol formations that one can choose, but for Laser Skirmish games something very basic is all that is required.

The most important position in the squad is the point person (also known as a scout).

The point moves well ahead of the main body of troops anything from 100-130 feet (30-40 meters) to 265 feet (80 meters) depending on the situation. In the heavy bush battle-field we tend to work around 65 feet (20 meters) whereas in more open terrain, more like 265 feet (80 meters).

“The principle is that it is much harder for the opposition to spot one person than a whole squad. The point man has a greater chance of spotting the opposition sniper or ambush first than if the whole squad had moved up,” said Peter Lander, live-gaming guru.  

“The point man can then return to the main group, and report the opposition presence to the squad leader,” he said.

Even so, the point is often spotted first by the opposition, and therefore comes under effective fire. Still this means only one gamer is killed not the whole squad, and the opposition have given their position away to the rest of the squad, who can then engage or retreat as appropriate.

If the point comes under attack, the rest of the squad typically should fan out left and right, and quickly move forward to engage the opposition.

The number two gamer in the patrol is often armed with a long gun, ideally a Morita LMG. As soon as contact is made, the LMG’s job is to immediately lay down suppressive fire in the direction of the suspected opposition position. A good number two gamer can often save the point man from taking more damage, and also pin the opposition long enough for the rest of the patrol to engage the opposition.

A sweeper is also a useful position in a patrol. The sweeper stays behind the main group ensuring that there is no threat from the rear. The sweeper’s job is to warn the squad if there is any opposition following them or have moved behind them. Most encounters happen in the direction the squad is moving, so the sweeper is not quite as vital as the point, but still highly recommended.

The team leader typically is near the front of the main body of troops. Adequate levels of dispersal should be kept in mind. Way too many players bunch up and are slaughtered by a numerically inferior force for this reason. Also, by dispersing somewhat the opposition can be fired at quickly from multiple directions. This is important in Laser Skirmish games because most cover provides protection from only a single direction.

The patrol however also maintains a significant local concentration of force, which means it has the firepower that can be quickly employed to counter opposition forces. This can be particularly useful when you’ve got more than one squad out in the field, and one or the other requires support.

The leader has to be positioned to get the best possible view of his/her own troop positions, and that of the opposition. If opposition troops are reported by the point or another gamer in the squad, the leader may well choose to perform a leader’s recon before committing the squad to an attack.

If the force (including the point man) comes under opposition fire, the squad leader must issue immediate and appropriate orders. To do this they must be positioned within sight and hearing range of the majority of the troops under command.

It is quite possible that the point and/or sweeper have not spotted the opposition before the main squad comes under fire. This is much better than having your squad spread out so much that they can't assist each other (or any other squad) effectively or even be properly led by the squad leader.

The players in the main body of troops should be clearly told where they should be looking in relation to themselves. For example, the first player could be looking left, and second looking right and the third looking up (watching out for snipers in the trees).

For those clans looking to be truly successful, try training some immediate action drills in order to counter threats from different directions and types.


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