Saturday, October 3, 2020

Holding the line at Letterhausen

 Scchhhht "Niner this is One Zero Alpha, sitrep over" Scchhhht 

Not even a radio squelch circuit could disguise a whispered nervousness

Scchhhht "Niner, send over" Scchhhht
Scchhhht "Niner this is One Zero Alpha, figures three I say again figures three Bravo Mike Papa advancing across open ground to the west of our position, over" Scchhhht
Scchhhht "Niner sunray, roger. Stay calm son. Shelldrake acknoweldge over" Scchhhht

Bloody hell, the old man himself. No-one quite knew how he managed to convey calm and confidence with three words over a distorted radio circuit.  

Scchhhht "Shelldrake, acknowledged, out" Scchhhht
Scchhhht "Niner sunray out" Scchhhht

Keith and I have fought quite a number of rollicking good adventures across the plains of northern Germany, all set in 1982 (ish), using the Modern Spearhead rules. You can see accounts of some of those games here. However it had been a while since the last outing, so despite being a little rusty with the rules, it was all on again. As always our armies are modelled using the Heroics and Ros range.

Normally I used an armoured regiment from one of the BAOR armoured brigades. This time however I decided to try something very different, and field elements of an infantry brigade. So it was that two battalions from 15th TA Brigade, with one armoured regiment from 1st Armoured division, were fielded in a hasty defence against Keith's Soviets. I used less artillery than usual, one battalion of M107s from Corps for CB, and the divisional  battalion of towed FH70 155mm guns. I took a salvo of ICM (Improved Conventional Munitions) for the artillery, and a minefield. I planned to try to channel the attackers and then catch them in a killing zone formed with ATGW and the Chieftains from the armoured regiment. I also took some entrenchments in the hope that the infantry platoons might be able to survive a little longer on the battlefield, although in an ideal world they would not bear the brunt of the battle. Finally I took as an Option A a flight of Lynx attack helicopters. My first error (of many) was the minefield. I had agonised over whether to take a minefield (and the required engineers) or a round of artillery delivered mines. I should have taken the latter, as in a hasty defence scenario it is deemed that the defenders have not had time to lay the mines, so those points are lost. So I lost the minefield

Keith attacked with 5 battalions from a Motor Rifle Division, three with infantry mounted in BMPs in the centre of his attack, and each flank with infantry mounted in BTRs. Each had T64s as their armoured component.

The battlefield from the west (behind the British lines) looking east.

The BAOR left flank was secured with an infantry battalion with 3 Chieftain cross attached from the armoured regiment

The town sector on the left (an objective in the game) was well defended and supported. Sadly for my defence the Soviets didn't attack here

The main weight of the Soviet attack advances on the BAOR right. Fortunately my reserve was deployed off table on the right prepared for a counter attack against just such a threat

The Soviet advance is disrupted by the terrain

The Reserve is committed at the end of turn one for turn 2, seen here coming on at the bottom of the photo at the beginning of turn 2. It is the armoured regiment with 6 companies of infantry cross attached from the two TA battalions

The reserve advancing, a Chieftain troop, and a troop of FV438 Striker Swingfire, seen in the foreground

Central to the BAOR defence of the centre right is a Chieftain troop hull down on a high feature. This proved to be a huge problem for the Soviet advance as it was able to pick off advancing T64 platoons almost at will

A second Chieftain platoon advanced from hidden deployment to threaten the right of the Soviet attack

The hull down Chieftain troop, supporting TA infantry platoons seen at the centre left of the photo. There had also been a Milan platoon, but it was eliminated early by Soviet fire.

Soviet right flank advance

The Soviet centre took up positions on a ridge opposite the BAOR right flank. They came under fire from the BAOR FH70 155mm guns firing ICM... one platoon suppressed and one platoon eliminated

The main part of the BAOR right flank defence, with infantry in the wood, and another platoon dug in in shallow entrenchments. A Milan platoon had already been eliminated from this company

Part of the British reserve advances: a Chieftain troop, supported by a troop of FV438 ATWG.  These troops were able to create a wicked crossfire when combined with the main British defence line

A Chieftain troop had advanced against the flank of the main Soviet advance but was then in turn taken in the flank when Keith committed his reserve, see upper left in the photo

One of the British FAO units calling fire against the Soviet advance. An additional Chieftain troop is immediately to its rear

Battalion mortars dropped smoke to protect the dug in TA infantry form assault, and a flight of Lynx helicopters, armed with TOW are called in to support the flank, with immediate effect

The weight of the Soviet advance against the British right flank is clear here.. a mass of armour

Casualties inflicted on the advancing

.... and here ...

The Soviet attack from the ridge is seriously degraded with casualties

The defence of the left of the British centre is under pressure when the Chieftain troop is suppressed by flank fire

The Soviets drop smoke in an attempt to shield their advance from the rapidly escalating casualties being inflicted by the Chieftain troops and the Lynx flight

That Chieftain troop on the left attempts to pivot to meet the flank threat

But the entire troop is put out of action by intense fire from BTR mounted ATWG and T64 fire

Serious smoke cover, which however won't block the Lynx which is able to move since it no longer has targets under its mission and target priorities

At this stage we ran out of time, at a time when the game needed perhaps several more turns to 'develop'.

My BAOR left flank battalion had failed to respond to a requested order change that would have allowed it to move across onto the flank of the Soviet attack. While response was likely, the slowness of the units would have meant a significant delay in their impact on the Soviet attack, if any at all.

However my right flank 'reserve battalion' had effectively halted Soviet progress with its cross fire on the flank of the attack. The sustainability of that positon in itself was suspect as Keith was beginning to manoeuvre BTR platoons into a position where they could bring ATGW fire to bear on the Chieftain troops.

Soviet casualties had been heavy, but were spread across 3 battalions, so none of them was too close to morale check. Interestingly both of us had made less use of electronic warfare missions than usual. We had both used radio jamming which had reduced the effectiveness of artillery as it was more difficult to get a request through. We had both located enemy artillery. However my FH70s were out of range of Keith's allocated guns, and I had failed to locate Keith's battalions because they were SPGs and so that much more difficult to locate.

In one turn, Chieftain troops accounted for four T64 platoons, and the Lynx had accounted for another two in its two turns over the table when we had to call time. The FV438s had yet to have any impact on the battle, and as support stands added significantly to the crossfire that was developing.

So for a change the BAOR effectively halted the Soviet advance. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this game for me was my exploration of a wider variety if weapon capabilities .. Improved Conventional Munitions in particular. A lesson was learned about the addition of mines to a Defend list as well - next time it will be Artillery Delivered Mines.

As always, a great game....

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Oh I say, Weird science and all that, damned unsporting eh wot?

"Righto chaps, listen up. Seems the bally Bosche is up to some sort of silly scientific shenanigans again."

"Oh I say, suh, simply beastly I say.. simply beastly of the Bosche."

"Now now, Algy, let's not forget that we are the civilised ones here, eh? No need to bad mouth anyone, you know."

"Sorry suh. I just get a little carried away when I see anyone not playing by the rules, eh wot?" 

So the scene was set and the armies of the imperial eagle and the union jack prepared to face off, the British intent on uncovering the deadly dastardly science in the strange industrial complex that rose up in front of them in the devastated landscape that was this weird world war 1. This was a HotT game played with our 20mm weird world war 1 armies, the first that Andy and I had managed for quite some time.

The British army consisted of:
1 x Blade general
1 x Behemoth
1 x Airboat
1 x Artillery
2 x Hordes
2 x Blades
3 x Shooters

The German army consisted of:
1 x Aerial hero
1 x Behemoth
4 x Hordes
2 x Blades
3 x Shooters

The armies face off, British nearest the camera, the strange industrial complex on the left.

The airboat and the ghostly British hordes in the rear of the British deployment

British behemoth

The German behemoth flanked by ghostly German hordes, and blades

The German aerial hero

The German stronghold.. a strange mysterious UFO seen peeking out from its secret home

The German aerial hero overflies the British lines to get into the British rear

First blood to the British when in their first turn their artillery destroys the German behemoth

Andy is hindered with poor pip dice and the aerial hero is stuck behind British lines unable to move

British blade attacks the German flank, supported by the airboat

Overview of the battle as the lines clash

The German flank shooter is recoiled by the British blade, the horde similarly. The British behemoth destroys the horde to its front and pursues forward.
The German right is also under pressure

The British blade on the British right is recoiled by German shooting

British blade destroyed by a ghostly horde supported by a blade

The British behemoth is under pressure from the German general (blade) and another blade, one of several attacks that it survived 

The airboat supports yet another successful attack against a German horde

The German aerial hero finally gets some pips and first destroys a British horde that had pinned it in place

The aerial hero then goes on to attack the British artillery

A Germanic horde reappears
However the German left flank takes further casualties

But the aerial hero destroys the British artillery

The German Blade general attacks the British behemoth from the front supported by the aerial hero which makes an attack from the rear

Vicious combat

The German general is eliminated, and the game is over

What a great game.. Andy created some serious pressure against the British centre (the behemoth) and I only managed a 'get out of jail' with a couple of lucky die rolls. Andy was also hindered by three low PIP die roles on turns 2, 3, and 4, which meant he could not take advantage of having positioned his aerial hero in my rear.

All in all, one of those games that went to the wire. It could have gone either way.

Forcing the Uvarova

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