Saturday, April 4, 2015

Fire Team - Reconnaisance on the Nuremberg Highway

Scenario 2 from Fire Team is a lot more interesting than the first scenario in the game.  "Reconnaissance on the Nuremberg Highway" features an engagement between American scouts from 2ACR and the lead elements of Soviet 11th Guards Tank Division.  The Soviet player secretly chooses one of three available force compositions, each of which lead to different victory conditions for the Russian player.

Version 1: Troop Recon Patrol consists of two platoons of BMPs, both of whom have a very small detachment of troops riding along with them carrying RPG-16s. 

Version 2: Helicopter Forward Detachment has a mix of Mi-24 attack helos and Mi-8s along with a couple of BMPs and a full platoon of infantry.

Version 3:  Point Detachment has the same allotment as version 1 but adds SA-14 weapon teams and a couple of ZSU-23s into the mix with three T-80 tanks arriving later in the game.

I hadn't played this scenario in a long time so I went with Version 1, which is the configuration that required the fewest rules to re-read. With Troop Recon Patrol, the victory condition for the Soviets is that I need to get two vehicles from the same platoon off the north edge of the map.  

The American forces also change according to what version the Soviet player chooses.  In this case, the US player would get 6 M3 Bradleys for set up and a platoon of M2s with infantry and LAW rockets to reinforce them in turn 3.  

To add to the funkiness of this scenario, the forces start off on Map C and maps can be added on either side of it if units move off the initial map.  The players roll for which map is put down and in which direction it will face.  Pretty cool.

Fire Team is pretty hardcore when it comes to vehicle combat.  Basically, the way it works is that when a vehicle fires at another one with missiles or guns, you consult a chart for kill numbers.  Depending on terrain and what both vehicles are doing at the time, the kill number either increases or decreases.  You roll a die and either you hit and kill the enemy vehicle or you miss it completely.  This makes for a pretty deadly game.

Soviet Setup

The Soviets set up on anywhere south of the road running east-west through the map.  I put 1st Platoon in the town of Stelau and 2nd platoon went near the small hill to the southeast.  

American setup

The Americans just strung their Bradleys along the north side of the map, ready to intercept the Russians as they pushed north.  

Map A - setup complete
The Soviet plan was to send 1st platoon to the west and 2nd platoon to the east, hoping to catch the Americans off guard and find a weakness.  It wasn't a real complex strategy but sometimes simple works well enough.  The Americans sensed what was coming right off the bat and decided that half the Bradleys would take on one platoon of BMPs while the other half worked the other side of the board.  The Bradleys would be moved aggressively to trap the Soviet vehicles and kill them as they tried to come through. 

2nd platoon advances north in turn 1

The Americans activated first in the game and sent a Bradley on the American right flank up on the nearest hill to get a look around.  The Soviets got a big activation next and the entire 2nd platoon was activated to move along the road to the east.  We rolled for which map to add and got map  D.  As one of the BMPs moved along the road, the Americans went for opportunity fire and the Bradley on the hill fired a TOW missile at the group, killing a Soviet vehicle with scout infantry inside.  The remaining BMPs scurried along the road to the north.

The Soviets activated again and decided to get 2nd platoon the hell off the road before another TOW missile came along.  They two BMPs moved into and around the forested area to the east, out of the American LOS.  A vehicle from 1st platoon also got an activation and it moved west from Stelau so we laid out another map (Map A).  

Soviet movement during turn 1

A look at the board with Map A laid out.

Halfway through turn 1
Well, it was time for the Americans to activate so they pulled a chit and moved two Bradleys to the east on to map D to intercept 2nd platoon.  One Bradley parked right into Waldhof, hoping to catch any BMPs coming north.  Meanwhile another Bradley went stalking the BMPs at close range, entering the forest where the Soviets had last been seen.  

In the next Soviet activation, one of the BMPs in 2nd Platoon withdrew even deeper into the forest while the other attempted to skirt around the hill to the east and hopefully break through to the north.  

East side of map

Meanwhile, to the west, the Americans put up another Bradley on the big hill near their setup area, hoping to catch the Soviets with missile fire.  The remaining two Bradleys closed in, one of them setting up in the town of Ehrenberg while the other Bradley advanced rapidly to the south and then swung around towards the rear of 1st Platoon.  

1st Platoon moved up towards Ehrenberg and used the buildings of the town to keep the Bradleys high up on the hills from spotting them.  Two of the BMPs dropped off scout infantry in the south of the town.  A Bradley from across the street fired at the Soviet scouts as they set up in the buildings, shaking them slightly (Fear 1 marker placed).

West side of map in Ehrenberg
The first turn ended here with both sides frustrated.  The Americans had spent most of their CPs shifting around Bradleys and the Soviets to the east had led them on a wild goose chase, drawing them further into the woods while the real  threat of 1st platoon had nearly reached the norther edge of the map already and without a scratch.  TOW missile fire had been effective from long range but the Soviets quickly adapted by staying behind obstacles and hiding their movement in the LOS blind zones behind buildings.  

Turn 2 began and though the Soviets were down 1 Command Point from losing a BMP, their morale was high.

Bradley sneaking up from behind!

The Americans pulled a chit at the beginning of the second turn and sent a Bradley to sneak up behind the BMPs near Ehrenberg.  It scaled the large hill to the south of the town but had no LOS to the nearby Soviets.  Good enough - they would come into view as they sped south.  The Soviets were now covered by the Americans from three sides (one Bradley in Ehrenberg, one on the hill to the south and one way over on the big hill to the east).

The Soviets got activation next and activated the RPG team across the road from the Bradley in Ehrenberg.  I rolled a "2" and the Bradley was toast.

The Americans went next and sent the Bradley to the south over the crest of the hill to the south of Ehrenberg to get a better LOS on the Soviets.

Next activation went to the Soviets and they managed to get the entire 2nd platoon going again.  This One of the BMPs drove north through a cluster of buildings using cautious movement.  The Bradley far away on the hill to the east fired a TOW missile and we rolled a "10", which was a galling miss.  The vehicle sped through to the north and made its escape.  Soviet victory was now pretty much assured.  Another BMP from 2nd platoon scuttled through Ehrenberg and took opportunity fire from the Bradley on the hill directly to the south.  Another roll of "10" - unbelievable.  The TOW misses and the Soviets manage to get two vehicles from 2nd platoon off the board for a win.

Final positions
As for 1st platoon, it ended the game still stuck on the east side of the board, having done its job as a decoy to keep the Americans guessing.  The Soviet player used them to good effect to drain the US player of important Command Points.  Well done for the Russians!  

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Fire Team - The Balloon Goes Up

Well, here's another lopsided end game shot from a different game!  I set up and played Fire Team this weekend after getting a sudden craving for some good ol' squad-based tactical action.  It wasn't even close.

The Soviets started off on the road north of Ehrenberg with three platoons facing off across the street from two American squads.  The Russians simply steamrolled north towards the bottom of the map, calmly rallied after collecting some Fear and then popped smoke and headed into Rasdorf. You're not supposed to use smoke in this scenario (and now I can see why) but that seemed too gamey so I played with it anyways.  Although the Soviets already had the 6 VPs needed to win by the beginning of turn 3, I kept playing just to see what would happen.

The Soviets managed to completely surround Rasdorf and then move in with relative ease despite a bit of fire from the Americans on the nearby hill.  An entire platoon marched into the US HQ building at the extreme north of Rasdorf and easily eliminated an American squad left there to protect it.  By the end of the turn 3, the US was down to two measly squads and it was time to call it quits as the Soviets had garnered 8 VPs (only 6 were needed to win).

End of Turn 3 - the Soviets definitely win here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Unconditional Surrender - Russian Winter

So basically, I was going to write a really long blog post about playing USE but I think this image sums up best what happens if you go ahead with your plans to invade Russia in the winter of 1939.  Not pretty at all for the Germans.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Unconditional Surrender: 1939 - 194? Campaign

Well, I thought I would at least give the campaign game of Unconditional Surrender!  World War 2 in Europe a shot so I've set up and started to play this weekend.  The game started in September of 1939 with a variable setup, which basically means that the German player rolls a die at the start of the game to determine where he will attack first.  In my case, I rolled a "3" and the result was that Germany was going for an East-First strategy.  I had set up the counters in their historical locations and chosen a variable entry for unit mobilization.  All that was left to do was to start moving counters.

September 1939

Germany started off by declaring war on the Soviet Union and Poland in the first turn and got the invasion underway.  After taking three cities, eliminating two Polish armies, and just barely grabbing Warsaw, the turn ended with Poland being conquered.  Hungary declared itself Pro-Axis.  During the Soviet operations phase, the army moved into Eastern Poland and took up defensive positions to protect the transport lines and cities nearest the enemy units.

"Hey guys, winter's almost here!  Time to start a war with Russia!"

In the Diplomacy Phase, the Germans pulled the Political Failure marker and the Soviet player laughed heartily.  Mussolini decided he quite liked the cut of Stalin's jib and Italy was declared as Pro-Soviet, in a move that alarmed the Germans.

Italians turn Pro-Soviet.

October 1939

October of 1939 began with Severe weather in both the Cold and Mild zone.  This would make an attack on the Soviet Union much harder but at least it would give the German Luftwaffe some time to recover from the Polish campaign.  Germany declared war on Lithuania and marched in during the Operations phase, managing a lucky roll to take the capital, Kaunus and conquer the country.  Latvia declared itself Pro-Axis and the Germans spent the rest of the turn trying to push back the Soviets in Eastern Poland with little success.

End of October 1939 turn

After the Axis finished up their operations, the East Invaded event went into effect and the Soviet Union started to wake up.  Several event markers (Partisans, etc.) were put on the turn track along with units that would be mobilized in the coming years.  With the weather the way it was and with the factories firing up, the Soviets decided to simply keep the Germans at bay in Eastern Poland.  

November 1939

The severe weather continued throughout November.  The Germans resorted to assault tactics rather than mobile attacks in order to find a breakthrough point on the eastern front.  With the weather the way it was, the war had simply bogged down at this point.  The Germans sent the 1 Pz army north into Lithuania to join up an army.  

November 1939 in Eastern Poland and USSR

The main attacking point was around Lvov, which saw the 2 Pz and two German armies being fended off by the 12th Soviet army.  Little changed this turn and even the Diplomacy markers yielded no events.  The Germans did get to mobilize a field unit this turn, which they put in Munich,   Italy still had a pro-Soviet marker on it but had not activated so the German player opted for a bit of insurance, scant though it was, near the southern border.

December 1939

The East Invaded event triggered in November, which meant that the "Russian Winter" marker sat in the December 1939 box.  This meant that the Cold weather zone was automatically Severe weather although the Soviets got to treat the weather as Poor for combat purposes.  The Germans scored a hit in the Strategic Warfare phase and moved their newly mobilized (and reduced) field unit in the Strategic Movement phase to Warsaw.

The stalemate in Eastern Poland continued as the 2 Pz and two armies took Lvov with a big assault.  Unfortunately, the Russians took it right back in their operations phase.  In the north, the Germans scored a success by taking Vilnius off the Russians, reducing their National Will by 2.  The Soviets tried a daring assault on the German army unit sitting in the middle of the line, attempting to punch through a hole back to Warsaw and thereby cut off supplies to the Germans down south.  With the Poor weather in the Mild zone, the Germans were finally able to activate their air support to help keep the Russians at bay.  Things look very dicey for both sides at this point.

End of Dec. 1939

In the Diplomacy phase, the Germans pulled a "Pro-Axis" marker and used it to heal their relationship with the Italians, who are now neutral again.  The Russians spent their production points putting a "Political Failure" marker back in the cup (along with an No Event marker).  

It was an interesting start to the war, with the Germans being left alone to attempt an invasion of Russia.  The weather was on the Russian side, however, and a stalemate threatened to destroy the German momentum early on.  If the Severe weather continued, the Russians could sit back and grow stronger as time wore on.  How much longer would the Western faction allow this to go on without intervening?  With the clock ticking,the Germans need to get back on the offensive if they hope to pull out a win here.