Friday, 24 March 2017

Team Yankee - Hasty Attack at Eiterfeld - Part I



In preparation for our big LARIAT ADVANCE Team Yankee campaign game coming in May, I wanted to practice a medium sized game also set in the Fulda gap, with 2 Formations per side, with the Soviets attacking with 235 points and the US defending with 211 points.




The action takes place across the eastern half of the valley running N-S 4 miles from Schenklengsfeld down to Eiterfeld, interspersed by the village of Oberweisenborn a little higher up the slope. The actual map has been 'interpreted' a little, and of course just the northern outskirts of Eiterfeld, and southern areas of Schenk are shown. Oberweisenborn, in the middle, is just a hamlet, so if anything is probably fairly accurate in terms of footprint, although I've moved it a little to the west as an effect of ground scale. All in all the table provides a good mix of cover and open ground, but is characterised by a very comprehensive road network, as you would expect of West Germany in 1985. However I did restrict road movement on the forest trails to x-country dash speed.

This post will be the first of 2, and will just cover the intial deployment and opening salvoes...



US Forces as the defender placed half their forces in scattered delayed reserves, so it was mainly the Mech Inf that deployed on table. Their first objective was hidden away inside the red rimmed factory in Eiterfeld, and surrounded with a Mech Inf platoon and M113s.



With the approaches to Eiterfeld from the East well covered by 2 Platoon's Dragon and 66 teams...


Further up the road north, a battery of M109s was hidden in the copse outside the marshalling yards...



And their aiming point placed on the most likely Soviet avenue of advance - the forest trails up on the forbidding ridge opposite...



A flight of 4 Cobras maintained vigil in the centre of the NATO position, making full use of the cover behind Oberweisen, but also focussed on the the northern approaches to the two Soviet objectives.


The next link in the chain north was another platoon of Mech Infantry, holding a small copse ideally situated between the 2 objectives. This cover was also utilised by a section of Vulcan air defenders.


The northern edge of the NATO line was anchored by a third Mech Inf platoon ensconced in the southeastern corner of Schenk, with its tall buildings also occupied by artillery spotters and the Mech Inf CO.


Oberweisenborn in the centre fell outside the NATO deployment zone, so would have to be occupied by the 4th Infantry platoon if the reserves came on early enough - in the mean time the Cobras would have to do! And there was always the unit placed in ambush to fall back on - 4 x M1 Abrams, on attachment to the gravelbellies for the duration!


The Soviets also decided to lead off with their Motor Rifle formation, so it was the larger of the artillery batteries which deployed in the cover of the extensive woods on the ridgeline.


Next came the large Motor Rifle company, which was a bit jammed up along all the forest tracks...


But the road network promised quick access en route to the objectives!


The attached company of 10 x T-72s also struggled to deploy within cover!


A squadron of Hinds was on table but held back well out of Vulcan range!


And to complete the Warsaw Pact deployment the smaller Motor Rifle company was deployed up on the northern edge of the ridge ready to head straight accross the road to Schenk.




As attackers, the WarPact had the first move. No luck on the immeadiate reserves, but the Frontal aviation comrades were enroute...



and with no NATO MBTs in view, they were tasked with shaking up the infantry sitting between the two objectives, so I tried my first 57mm rocket salvo. One SU25 went down to Vulcan AA fire, but the remaining 5 let loose...


To little effect other than pinning the infantry down. An artillery salvo of 6 x 122mm guns also caused no casualties, but at least everyone in the vicinity knew the war was on!


The road network was put to good effect to push the armour forward towards the objectives with a x-country dash, but with an Abrams ambush in prospect the Hinds were left loitering with intent...


And the infantry pushed down the valley and into the village of Oberweisen, just dropping off a couple of BMPs and teams to cover the forward NATO objective from the edge of the woods. It also eased the road congestion somewhat!


The US first move also provided some on-task fast air, 4 x A10s (2 represented by models, the second pair by dice)...


and it was fair to say it was a target rich environment, with every road in the valley nose to tail with Soviet AFVs!


Their Maverick missiles gave them the reach to stand off well outside Soviet SAM range, and the Shilkas were sitting frustrated and useless at the back of the traffic jams...


The USAF airmen were free to make every missile count!


Damn those 'Devil's Crosses'!


Not to be outdone, the US Army aviators had also been stalking their prey...




And wrought havoc amongst the Motor Rifle company that was passing through Oberweisen!


However the Soviet second move saw the armour press on resolutely towards the objectives in the hope of compessing the available space for the US to deploy their M1 ambush.

And the Soviet traffic regulators had been kicking ass and taking names so that the Shilkas were now priority traffic!


Within the village order had been restored after the Cobra strike, and the rallied Motor Rifles were relieved to be able to debus from their BMPs and trot off towards the objectives from the south east...and a volley of 7 Spandrel missiles from their now empty BMP2s were fired in anti-helicopter mode, bringing down one of the 4 Cobras in revenge. A lot of firsts were being attempted in this game!


The US second turn brought neither Fast Air and reinforcements were not due til the next turn. Hard thought was given to embussing and redeploying the Mech inf from the 2 towns now that the Soviet main effort seemed to have been identified, but with the Abrams ambush still in hand it was judged unneccesary to change plans just yet...


The Soviet third turn saw 2 companies of T-72s from the Tank formation arrive from their forming up positions on two seperate roads opposite the objectives...


But no fast air would be arriving this turn - Nu Chotz! The Hind comrades would just have to do the work instead. After all, with no sign of the dreaded Abrams ambush they'd been loitering with intent for far too long - so far as much use as tits on a bull!



And bless those Afghantsy chopper pilots - they flew through a torrent of Vulcan cannon fire to do the job - 3 M113s and a Vulcan brewed for the loss of 1 Hind!



A T-72 took out the surviving M113, so at the end of the Soviet third move, the Red Hordes were dangerously near the thinly held objectives....


The next move was the third NATO move, would reinforcements arrive in time and in the right place to stem the Red Tide? More to follow...


Friday, 17 March 2017

Rommel - the Western Desert


This Thursday at the Uni Peter, (left), organised a game of Rommel, the soon to be published WW2 Strategic Operational level game written by Sam Mustafa.


Under Caesar's (right) leadership we have been involved in the extensive playtesting of these watershed rules, so of course we believe they are the mutt's nuts, and fill a hole in the market that's been around for too long...


They are novel in every way, and took some getting used to by a dinosaur like me, for example playing on a gridded surface. But actually, as shown above, the grid needn't be obtrusive, and saves a phenomenal amount of time in administering movement and measuring range. In fact I think these are the closest wargame rules I have ever experined in terms of spending the bulk of your time thinking tactically (well, operationally) than fussing over the actual rules! But lets get right to the sharp end, so if you wish to learn more about these rules than may I direct you to Sam's website, which includes a podcast all about the Rommel ruleset: Rommel Downloads   Honour Podcast 10: How to play Rommel  Peter organised a straightforward meeting encounter between a large force of 3 brigades a side. He thought this might be a bit packed on his 6 x 4 desert board, but we were all very keen to play, hence the large number of commands. The third brigade would arrive in the second round, accessing through an area predetermined by each team. All of the lovely models you see in this post are Peter's, the vehicles 1/285th GHQ, and the infantry 1/300th Adlers.


Each force consisted of 2 armoured brigade and an infantry brigade. The British armoured brigade sported an assortment of tanks current in 1942, Grants...



Stuarts...



And the dreaded Sherman 75's...(Its not often you hear a mainly late war wargamer say that!)



The British team, seen here conferring mid battle, consisted (L-R) of David, Peter and Caesar.


The German armoured brigades had a back bone of Panzer IIIs, with a few Pz IIs and slight leavening of Panzer IVs to lend some weight:




I don't think Sam would want me to go into too much detail about game play at this stage, but the numbers in boxes represent the combat effectiveness of that unit, which represents a reinforced company of armour or about 2 companies of infantry. As you take losses the boxes are marked off, reducing your effectiveness...


My infantry brigade was fortunate to have 3 units from PanzerJaeger Abteilung 33 armed with Marder AT guns.


The number in the red boxes denotes their combat effectiveness against other armour. So in the case the 1-4 denotes an effectiveness of 1 in the attack, but a powerful 4 in defense. I would be playing a cautions game then, hoping to draw the impetuous Brits onto me!


After the Brits had finished their cups of tea, we revealed our cards and let battle commence. I deployed my infantry brigade (white unit tags) in the centre of our table edge, holding the settlement that was our objective and the marshy ground and ridge that curved around to our left flank from it. Our plans was for Daniel (with dunkelgelb unit tags) to lead off on our right flank with his ontable armoured brigade, and then for Bryan's (bright yellow unit tags) armoured brigade to deploy to my left. My role would then be to keep the two armoured brigades linked up and protect their inner flanks.


Daniel duly issued the order 'Panzer Marsch' and he was off, launching an armoured attack on infantry ensconced on the ridgeline securing the British left flank...


I did my best to keep up with him in the centre, and Bryan duly came up behind me and deployed to my left...


Whilst Caesar on the British left fended off Daniels attack resolutely, committing the British reserve artillery, Peter demonstrated towards me in the centre with the British heavy armour...but I had confidence in my Marders:


Daniel's first attack out on the right flank was fended off, but he organised a follow with fresh forces...


And Bryan had by now come up and was able to shadow Dave's attempts to outflank us on our left flank:


The view from the British side - I think its fair to say the DAK had seized the initiative - clearly more tea was required:


All arms action continued hot over on our deep right flank...


But Daniel was steadily gaining the upper hand...whilst using up fresh units and tactics dice...(Without giving too much away, these allow you to pay for period and army selective traits that give you the advantage in combat)


In the centre, I was relieved that the Marders were able to fend off the heavy Shermans - had the British committed their armoured reserve too soon?


Then Daniel, rapidly running out of impetous, managed with one final effort to break through and past the British left flank, with only open desert between him and the objective...


Whilst at the same time Bryan massed his fresh armour from our left flank over towards the British centre...


And engaged the already worn down Shermans...


Also breaking through in the middle of the British line...


However, Peter had managed a breakthrough of his own into our now denuded left, so the game was declared a minor victory for the DAK!


A terrific game, authentically representing the frustrations and triumphs of large scale battle in WW2 on the table top...as much as any game can, anyway!