Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Third World War: The Battle for Germany - NATO Counterattack!

Well, here we are coming to the end of turn 1 but there are two very important impulses to go through before things start to really wind down.  NATO gets two consecutive movement and combat impulses now, each with a regrouping phase at the end of it that lets you get rid of those nasty disruption markers that degrade unit proficiency.



I pulled back quite a few units at the start of the impulse because I wanted to give them a chance to regroup.  The big advantage that NATO has over the Pact in this regard is that NATO units can fully recover their disruptions while the Warsaw Pact units cannot recover from the first level of disruption so once a Russian tank unit is hurt, for example, it stays hurt for the rest of the game.

To that end, I had several units in the south that the Pact had hurt quite badly, including a West German panzer division with five disruptions.  Up north near Hamburg, so many units were hurting that I basically pulled the line back to the nearest river and set up a defense there.  I could also see the real possibility of the Pact isolating and destroying the units very quickly in the coming turn with the way they were positioned.



Poor movement decisions in the first impulse seriously limited my attack options against the Warsaw Pact.  An unfortunate 3 -1 attack near Hamburg resulted in two disrupted NATO units and not a single loss for the Soviets.  Other minor attacks resulted in little to no gains being made.  I shuffled around my units in the second NATO combat/movement impulse to get some better results and ended up pushing back two divisions of the 28th Guards Army back across the East German border - not an easy task but something had to turn my way after the setbacks and terrible choices of the past turn.

Perhaps the best thing about this turn was that NATO had yet another chance to regroup its units and suddenly the situation was looking a lot better.  Both sides failed their escalation rolls at the end of the turn to see if they could use nuclear weapons in the coming turns.  That's too bad because NATO could definitely use some nuclear assistance to push back the Soviets off of West German soil.

Here's a short video to explain a bit more about what's happened and what's about to happen.



All of the aircraft that weren't shot down return to base and we'll make maintenance rolls at the beginning of next turn to see if they manage to get back up in the air.  NATO gets quite a few air reinforcements so I wouldn't be surprised if it manages to get air superiority.  On the other hand, it's slated to lose 2 random air units thanks to the Soviet Blackjack runway cratering mission earlier in the game turn.

From this point, I'll play a bit more and then set up the game again and go for another try now that I've learned the very basics of play and I've had the chance to make some mistakes.

My impressions so far of "The Third World War":  It's a very tense game that makes you think hard about how to use your units and there are always tradeoffs as NATO between getting guys up to the front and rotating them to the back to recover.  For the Warsaw Pact, you have to be extremely forwad looking in order to exploit your second echelon moves otherwise you'll be stuck slogging it out at the border.

I'm pretty sure that I blew the Pact's first turn by approaching the front line in a big column of guys and trying to hammer at the enemy rather than exploiting gaps and pushing divisions and armies through the holes to isolate NATO units and then push on.  As it stands now, I'll reset and see what can be done with the benefit of lessons learned.  My bet is that this game would probably have NATO winning in a couple of turns due to air superiority and reinforcements coming on line.  The Pact's major advantages seem to lie at the beginning of the game and it quickly loses steam every turn henceforth.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Third World War: The Ground War - Part 2

Continuing with my posts on my first game of "The Third World War" here and I'll try to provide a bit more detail here about what's happening.  If you're new to the game, it sort of flows in this basic sequence:

1.  Air Phase
2. Warsaw Pact move and attack (first echelon) with a NATO reserve movement phase in here afterwards
2a.  Warsaw Pact move and attack (second echelon)
3. Warsaw Pact move and attack (first echelon)
3b. Warsaw Pact move and attack (second echelon)
4. NATO move and attack x 2
5. End of Turn stuff (Supply, Aircraft maintenance, etc.)

Right now, I've gone through 2 and 3 and I've "paused" the game just at the end of phase 3 to give this little report.  Basically first echelon phases allow for everyone to move and attack and second echelon allows for those Pact units that are not in enemy ZOC to move and attack again.  This allows for the Pact to keep pushing with its attempt to find a breakthrough in the NATO lines.



The Warsaw Pact moved and attacked during the first echelon impulse phase and managed to dislodge a few NATO units but not make any real advances across the front.  No serious breakthroughs have happened although NATO is kind of in trouble around the center of the board.

A look at the board as the Warsaw Pact combat phases end and the NATO phase is about to start.


In the second echelon phase, the Warsaw Pact gets to move and attack with its units that are not in an enemy zone of control.  This means that if you have units behind the frontline (or if your units were lucky enough to push enemies back so they are no longer in your zone of control), they get to move and attack again.

Making mistakes is all part of being a new player and I'm no exception here.  I had forgotten to enter the Pact's reinforcements on the board.  That's okay - I send forward about six Soviet divisions, enetering on the east side of the board from Poland.  Most of the units are used to reinforce the successes in the center of the frontline although a couple of units are sent to buff up the northern sector near Denmark, which has had few successes against the stubborn NATO resistance in the area.

Although the Pact moves and rearranges a few forces along the line in the second echelon phase, the changes are quite minor to the overall battle and no further attacks are made in the second echelon.  I suspect my attacks have not been wisely coordinated enough with the second echelon impulse properly in mind.  I feel that even though I'm in the first turn, I should be well past the border by now.

The Warsaw Pact gets another full combat impulse with a first and second echelon movement and combat phase.  This time the Pact concentrates its attacks and tries to focus a little more on a breakout rather than just hitting randomly at weak units.  The results are a fair bit better this time as NATO crumbles a bit in the center of the board and Pact units are now 100 kms into West Germany.  The British lose the 3rd Armored Division up near Hannover while a West German mechanized division down south of Nurnberg gets hammered by the 4th Guards Tank and is sent back west in a retreat, taking two more disruptions (for a total of 5) by the time it pulls back towards Munich.

UK suffers losses from the 28th Guards Army southeast of Bremen


Further south of Bremen, the Pact is getting very close to a breakout!


The Soviets decide to help out the Poles in their attack on West Berlin but thanks to rolling a "1" on the attack die, the British, US, and French forces hang on, suffering only a single disruption.  It's kind of amazing how such a small force is managing to tie up several divisions of armor and infantry and I need to take care of them very quickly so I can get those Poles to the front. (I initially thought those NATO units in West Berlin must be isolated but according to the rules, NATO units in the city are never isolated).

By the time the NATO impulse comes around (they get two in a row now), things are looking fairly good for the Pact near the Fulda Gap while the south of the map shows a steady advance of Pact units moving towards Munich (although most of them are suffering disruptions - which basically affects unit proficiency.  This acts to shift the CRT odds in favor of the enemy when attacking units with higher proficiency levels).

In the south of Germany  West Germans suffer major disruptions but Soviets are hurting a bit too.

In the north, a stalemate has occurred but there are quite a few Soviet tank divisions moving up from the line to help out after dealing serious damage to the nearby British.

Anyway, here's a youtube video that sort of describes what's been happening over the last couple of impulses and might help to make things more clear for those interested.

Next Up:  NATO!