Tuesday, February 28, 2012

World at War: Eisenbach Gap - Hell's Wings (Part II)

The Americans set up in Eisenbach and Bergpfigel to the west. The Soviet objective is to capture any two cities on the map. Unfortunately for the Americans, the Soviet commander has also pre-designated Eisenbach as a drop zone for his paratroopers. They land in the north of Eisenbach and on the hill to the south.

Soviet 2nd AB:  Just dropping in to say hello.

American anti-aircraft manages a poor job of taking out Soviet transport planes over the drop zone. Almost all of the infantry, save for 1 platoon, land intact.

After landing, the Soviet paratroopers spread out and start seizing key objectives in Eisenbach and the hill to the south.

Soviets get lucky again as the 69th Airborne Helicopter Division is activated and swoops in on the battlefield behind a hill north of Bergenpfigel.

The Soviet 1st Tank Division enters the fray from the west. The American M1 Tank platoon has set up shop on the hill to the north of Bergenpfigel in an attempt to set up an ambush.

Soviet 2nd Airborne activates again! What a lucky day for the Soviet commander. The infantry take out the M48 Chaparral on the east of the hill. They also move into the west of Eisenbach and destroy the TOW Jeep support. The Americans are reeling. 

The fighting in Eisenbach City turns brutal as the American infantry fights tooth and nail to hang on. Team Bravo's HQ in the north east of the city is turned into flaming wreck by the two Mi-24 Hind helicopters to the west (not shown).

A wide shot of the situation. The American infantry in Bergenpfigel in the center of the shot with the Soviet 1st Tank closing in from the west. On the right hand side, you can see the Soviets 2nd Airborne Division on the hill south of Eisenbach. It's only Turn 2 and the Americans are in very bad shape.

It's a bit hard to see but hiding behind that hill way at the top of the map are both Soviet Hind helicopters.

The Soviet 1st Tank eliminates the American Team Yankee HQ after some hard fighting. The only problem is that the American infantry in Bergenpfigel is holding out in the city and will almost certainly inflict heavy casualties if the Soviets try to enter with only Armored Fighting Vehicles.

The Soviet commander, knowing that time is running out and the American AH-1s are on the way to even the score, takes the quick route and orders massive chemical weapons strikes on Bergengipfel. The horrors of chemical warfare are unleashed and kill the unprotected infantry in the city along with the all the civilians.

The Soviet 2nd AB Division to the west takes Eisenbach after another hard skirmish. The American AH-1 Cobras arrive but there is no one on the ground to support. The Soviets have claimed both Bergengipfel and Eisenbach, giving them a complete (and depending on your view of chemical weapons, hollow) victory.

Soviets enter Bergenpfigel and destroy the remaining American infantry. Entering so soon after launching a chem strike causes some casualties on the Soviet side, but since the Soviets are protected by tanks, it's not as bad as it could be.

I was surprised at how complete the Soviets dominated this scenario and, at first, I thought I had read some rules wrong or something. However, it seems that the early activation of the Soviet 2nd Airborne along with some good guessing about the American setup around Eisenbach allowed the Russians to seize the initiative and create utter chaos in the American ranks. Landing in and around the city left the Americans with no ability to exploit the range of their weapons on the Russians. 

In this scenario, I was much more cautious with the Mi-24 Hind helicopters and it paid off. I always kept both Hinds well out of range of the American ground units and having the Soviet 2nd AB eliminate the M48 Chaparral early on basically allowed the Russian helicopters the room they needed to maneuver for their shots. You've got to treat helicopters like long-range snipers rather than tanks or they will die very quickly.

Lastly, I never really enjoy winning with chemical weapons in a scenario. It always seems like a bit of a cheap victory. However, I think this is pretty close to what probably would have happened given Soviet doctrine basically viewed Chem Weapons as intermediate weapons rather than strategic ones. 

Had the Americans managed to hold on for just one more turn, they would have gotten some major air support from AH-1 Cobras. Also, the Soviet Hind helicopters were about to be recalled back to their base for refuel and re-arming on that turn. I probably could have held off the 1st Tank from taking Bergenpfigel but this result, I feel, holds close to the reality of modern warfare and that is what makes this game series so great.

World at War: Eisenbach Gap - Hell's Wings (Part I)

Well, it's time to go back to the Reagan era and do some battle with the commies.  In this scenario, the Americans are tasked with defending the Eisenbach area from some major Soviet attacks.  Here's the OOB.

Team Yankee - 2 M1 Abrams tank platoons, 1 infantry platoon with Stinger Anti-Air Missile and an M-113.

Team Alpha: 1 AH-1 Cobra due to enter the fray in Round 5. That will be pretty late in the game but it's better than never.

Team Bravo: 2 Infantry platoons, 1 M1 Abrams platoon, a TOW Jeep, and a mobile SAM launcher - M48 Chaparral.

Soviet OOB: Soviet 2nd Airborne Division. 6 Infantry platoons with an 81mm Mortar section, an SA-7 shoulder-launched anti-air missile launcher, and a Sagger AT weapon. Let the good times roll!

Soviet OOB: 2 Mi-24 Hind-E helicopters. Very deadly...you go first.

Soviet OOB: 1st Tank Division at full strength. Since this scenario starts on the third day of the war, we get to have full strength companies and divisions. Yay! Note the attached mobile Anti-Aircraft Artillery (AAA) vehicle, the Shilka.

Part One is Le Done.  Part II will feature the battle..  Thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

World at War: Blood and Bridges - Separation (Part III)

And... it's Turn 3. The Soviet player immediately pulls a Chaos chit and the result is Friendly Fire! The West German M48s on the hill accidentally open up on the infantry to the west but score no hits before a "blue on blue" warning comes over the radio.

The Soviet commander pulls an air strike! The Su-25 marker is pulled. The West German infantry try to destroy the Frogfoot with Redeye SAMs but fail. The Su-25 slams a payload into the M48 HQ sitting at the crest of the hill northwest of Rieden. An entire platoon of M48s is utterly destroyed and the HQ is reduced.

The Su-25 rolls to see if it will stick around for another pass but it is low on ammo and returns home.

Now the Mi-24 Hinds come into play. They set up behind a hill east of Rieden and conduct pop-up attacks on the remaining W. German tanks that so unwisely positioned themselves on a hill to the west.

The other West German HQ commander starts to send infantry up to the exit point while the Marders decide to head east and desperately take out or disrupt the Soviet tanks of the 93rd recon far to the north east.

They get caught in the crosshairs of the Mi-24 Hinds and are pulverized along with the shattered remnants of the 1/613, now just scrap metal on the hill west of Rieden. The remaining Marder retreats to support the infantry's push up north. What made this so hilariously awful for the West Germans is that they moved their Marders within range of the Hinds but forgot to pull their infantry units with the Redeye SAMs along for the ride. As a result, they were caught defenseless and out in the open.

The West Germans manage to get 2 full infantry platoons off the map before the other infantry are destroyed by the Soviet ambushes set up close to Anhauser. Actually, to be honest, the West German infantry platoon sacrificed itself to let the other 2 platoons move out of there. In moments of pure darkness, there still was a little light for the West Germans.

The remaining Marder just before it is about to be destroyed by Mi-24 Hinds that have moved behind the hill to the east. The West German commander has no choice but to surrender or die. He chooses the latter and the Marder is destroyed one turn later by a salvo of helicopter missiles.

Game Over: The West Germans should have tried to move faster and much earlier on in the game to get through that exit point. By trying to set up a flanking defense, they wasted valuable time. On Turn 3, the Soviet commander got the Su-25 air strike chit and the 57th AHR Hinds were suddenly available. The air pulverized the West Germans and I felt very sorry for them.

Also, moving my Marders out behind cover and into the range of Hind helos without SAM launchers was just dumb.

However, kudos to the Soviet commander, who placed his forces smartly and took advantage of terrain to set up some deadly ambushes for the West German commander.

World at War: Blood and Bridges - Separation (Part II)

Starting Setup and Objectives: The West Germans must exit off the battlefield to the west via the road from Anhausen (the square blue chit shows you the exact exit point). The Soviets must exit off the east side of the map (not shown).

Both sides start very close to the west exit point for the West Germans. The Soviets have to be lucky and quick to catch the Germans before they run off the map. The West Germans have to hope that I pull their formation marker from the cup and they can move to the west with impunity. Hopefully, this will happen before Turn 3 when the Soviet commander gets the 57th AHR (2 Mi-24 Hinds) and the SU-25 air support becomes available.

62nd Soviet Motorized Rifle gets the first activation and quickly moves south to Anhausen to set up shop. The infantry leap out of their APCs and start setting up ambushes near the exit point. That...is not a good sign for the West German commander.

Chaos marker is pulled! A downpour starts, reducing all movement on the board by 1 Movement Point. Oh noes! 
This is especially bad for the West German player, who is depending on speed to get his units quickly off the map.

The Soviets 93rd Recon tanks have set up in the east, hoping to use Opportunity Fire on any W. German armored units stupid enough to move up to Anhausen.

The M48s near Rieden struggle mightily to get up to the hill but eventually find the crest of the hill and go into a hull down defensive position.

As W. German commander, I was thinking of rushing the objective. However, since the Russians have some pretty decent maneuver in the opening turns, it seems that I would be entering into a possible death trap by rushing north. Instead, the West German commander goes "knives out" and deploys the infantry in the woods to the south of Anhauser.

I'm thinking of letting the M48s provide flank support as the Marders and infantry leapfrog towards the exit point near Anhausen.

The exciting conclusion comes next in Part III!

World at War: Blood and Bridges - Separation (Part I)

In this short scenario in World at War:  Blood and Bridges, the West Germans and Soviets face off against each other near the Rhine River.

First up, let's go through the Order of Battle:

The Soviets get a nice pair of Mi-24 Hind-E helicopters from the 57th Airborne Helicopter Regiment to bring on the pain.  These will ruin your day if you aren't smart about your air defenses.

Next up, we get the 93rd Recon regiment, which sports a fast and deadly punch with a pair of T-80s, two BMP-2s, and some BRDMs for good measure.

The Soviets also get the 62nd Motorized Regiment with a disappointing set of rusting BTRs with the standard buttload of infantry.  But that's more than made up for with this...an Soviet Su-25 Frogfoot ground support aircraft and it's available fairly early in the game! Fun for the whole family!

NATO gets the West German 1/613th with some ageing M48s and some Marder APCs with infantry from the 2/182 division.  Part II will feature the battle.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Blood and Bridges: First Contact

This is one of my favorite scenarios from the World at War series, featuring the British and Soviet units scrapping it out in their first fight of the game series.  As usual, let's look at each side's forces before the action starts:

Soviet OOB: 93rd Recon Battalion, consisting of 2 companies of sexy new T-80 tank platoons, 2 BRDM-2 scout cars, and 2 BMP-2 platoons.

British OOB: The British Royal Lancers - 3 Scimitar tanks and a very deadly Striker. This is a very fast moving light armor company. If it tries to face down the Soviet T-80s, it's toast.

The objective is for one side to either destroy more units than the other or exit more units off the opposite map edge. The Soviets enter on turn 1 on the east side of the map and approach the southern lip of Faulbach.

The British Royal Lancers have entered from the west side. The British could be in real trouble if they don't play things smart and hit from a distance. The only tank they have that can do any real damage to the Soviets is the Striker. The Scimitars are virtually useless.

Well, looky here! The British HQ has ordered in artillery strikes on the Soviet positions. FASCAM mines are deployed to the west of the Soviet position. A smoke barrage is called in right on top of the Soviet HQ and the T-80 tanks. 

The mines prevent the Soviets from rushing through the map and assaulting the British at close range, which would be absolutely devastating for the Royal Lancers' light tanks. The smoke barrage prevents the Soviets from being able to fire their weapons through the smoke cloud. The only option available to the Soviet commander is to enter Faulbach without any real cover or go into the forested hills down south.

Same tactic as before: The British commander waits for the Soviet tanks to make it to the crest of the hill and then calls in his last FASCAM strike. The mines now prevent the Soviets from rushing downhill and hitting at the British. The final smoke volley lands near the Soviet HQ, obscuring their view. The Soviets can try to rush downhill into the minefield or find another way around.

Still early in the game...The Soviets are now in the forested hills way south of Faulbach. The British Royal Lancers race south in an attempt to set up a trap. Can they get there in time?

The 93rd Recon decides to find another way around and maneuvers up north and finds a narrow corridor through the mines just south of Faulbach and the treeline south of it. 

The British Striker manages to take out both Soviet BRDM scout cars with Opportunity Fire. So far, the score is UK: 2, USSR: 0.

With two turns left, the Russian commander makes the Hail Mary play and sends the BMPs west to try and exit the edge of the map before time is up. In the meantime, the T-80s move south back up the hill in an attempt to provide cover fire for the BMPs as they make a dash.

Turn 8 passes with no activations for either side. Turn 9 starts and the Soviet commander opens up on the Royal Lancers bunched up in the woods to the south. The T-80s destroy a Scimitar platoon and disrupt the British HQ. They take another shot again but miss. 

The BMPs up north can't make it to the map edge in time for the game to end.

Final score: UK 2, USSR 1

Good scenario! There was a lot of tension as I tried to keep the fragile British armored forces from getting shot to pieces by the powerful Soviet T-80 tanks.

The British commander was in control for the entire game by smart deployment of minefields and smoke barrages. When you deploy minefields, you basically determine where your enemy is going to move and that allows you time to set up ambushes, etc. Also, deploying smoke right on top of your enemy is a good way to force them to move on to a new place and give yourself cover to maneuver to a new place as well.

Next time I play this scenario, I'll definitely use the Chaos! marker to make it a little more interesting.

Eisenbach Gap: The Defense of Klappebruck (Part II of II)

Without any further hesitation, let's begin with the strange tale of how Klappebruck was won and lost.

The Soviets take their lumps from the Americans' long distance fire. It's enough to be annoying but the Soviet HQ gets into position and can now launch artillery strikes on the Americans.

As the Soviets, I could have gone one of two ways at this point: I could have chosen to either directly assault the Americans on the hill to the north or try to outmaneuver them and grab the West German cities. Knowing how effective the Soviets can be when played aggressively, I chose to go for the direct assault on the hill where the Americans sat.

"Smoke 'em if you got em."

The Soviet commander orders artillery to launch a smoke screen to the north on the town of Lansamen and decides to move his forces there to set up a staging ground for an assault on the hill. Thick smoke blocks LOS to the 6 hexes surrounding the town.

The Soviet commander calls for artillery on the hill to the north. It hits the American infantry and reduces it to half strength. The rest of the Soviets scramble to the smoke screen and form up. Note how my slow HQ tanks are stuck well behind my own forces, which will almost certainly cause some command problems later.

Only the American ITV and the Abrams unit (under the US HQ) can fire into the smoke screen. The fire is disruptive to the Soviet units but not deadly. The Soviet infantry advances through the smoke and towards the US defensive line.

The smoke dissipates and the American commander pours on the fire, destroying the Soviet left flank (2 BMP platoons filled with infantry). Two Soviet infantry platoons (stacked together) make their way to the hill. The Soviet BMPs, no slouches either, pour fire on the American HQ on the hillside, disrupting their command but unable to destroy it.

The Soviets take the hill! The American infantry platoon is destroyed and the Americans move their defensive position in a hurry back towards the city of Eisenbach. The American infantry in Klappebruck looks lonely.

The Soviets enter Eisenbach! Two Soviet BMP platoons enter the city, inflicting heavy losses and destroying the American TOW Jeep platoon. Meanwhile, the Russian infantry assaults Klappenbruck and takes the city. It could go either way at this point

Here's where the Soviet commander pays dearly for splitting up his infantry and mechanized forces. The American HQ with the Abrams platoon takes out the BMPs trying to storm Eisenbach. The Soviet infantry moves north and takes Birghoff but it is too far to make an assault on Eisenbach before American forces are reinforced. The BMP on the hill south of Eisenbach makes a last desperate bid to destroy the American HQ but it misses completely and runs out of ammunition. The Soviet assault, so close to success, stalls and the Americans hold the sector for another day.

A couple of things the Soviets could have done to make the difference: We could have focused our fire on the units surrounding the HQ rather than on the Abrams. Those tanks can take a beating and they absorbed a lot of Soviet fire. It was a nice gamble, however, and if the Soviets had killed the US HQ, the Americans would have almost certainly lost the game.

Splitting forces up when you've only got one HQ is always a bad idea. The Russians have to stay together, keep all the units in command and move as a team. That's hard to do when your commander is sitting in an old rusted heap of junk T-62 that moves only slightly faster than infantry on foot.

Eisenbach Gap: The Defense of Klappebruck (Part I)

This report is from a playthrough of scenario 2 in Lock 'n Load's World at War: Eisenbach Gap.  Let's start with the Order of Battle:

Team Bravo:  The Americans have a couple of platoons of infantry along with some M1 Abrams tanks and some light AT missile launchers in the form of a TOW Jeep and an ITV.  The team is light but its maneuverability and overall concentrated firepower is a decent for match the Soviet numbers.

Soviet Order of Battle: 33rd Motorized Rifle Division. 3 platoons of antiquated and slow T-62 tanks. 6 BMPs and 6 infantry platoons.

The Soviet objective is to capture Klappebruck and Eisenbach. Soviet 33rd Motor Rifle Div. will enter to the south. The Americans have set up a defensive line along the hills facing this sector. An American platoon with Dragon AT weapons is set up in Klappebruck. The American plan is to devastate the Soviets as they approach the north and then carefully withdraw to Eisenbach.

The Soviet 33rd Motorized Rifle Division enters the board from the south. The BMPs are full of infantry and forming up for a big push. Note the lack of cover from here to the hills with the American forces to the north. This will not be easy for the Soviet commander.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sixth Fleet: Libyan-American War (Part VI of VI)

Turn 6 Day 2: Night

This is the last turn of the game and things are going fairly well for the Americans.  The Libyans start off with attacks by the submarines on the US carrier task force.  One of the subs sinks the destroyer, USS Cushing.  The Americans, however, focus their surface fleet on ASW and manage to destroy the two remaining Libyan submarines.  Afterwards, USS Drum finishes off the rest of the Libyan flotilla of fast missile boats.

The Libyans put up their remaining MiG-23s on CAP over Benghazi and, as expected, the Americans send out F-18s and EA-6 flight to bomb the city.  The MiGs manage to shoot down a Prowler before being taken out by F-18s.  SAMs destroy an F-18 over Benghazi.  A squadron of A-6s hit Darnah.  Bomb damage is assessed as "barely effective" as both flights miss most of their targets.

The United States loses three points for the Libyans sinking their two ships but gains 15 points for hitting all three cities with some effectiveness.  It's not an overwhelming win but it's clear to the rest of the world that the United States has effectively punished the Libyans for their role in the sinking of American ships in the Mediterranean.

This was an interesting game!  I really believed the Libyans had no chance at winning by the second day but the surprise sinking of two US ships kept things very tense.  Also, the US had a lot of luck with its defense rolls when intercepting SSMs and Libyan air missions.  Even when the Libyans crept around the CAP, they were never successful in their bombing runs on the US and usually lost some aircraft before limping back to base.  Having said that, the US definitely lost more aircraft than I had anticipated on its bombing runs.  Heavy AAA and SAMs prevented accurate targeting on the second day.  The Libyans always seemed to get some form of revenge on the US whenever they attempted something big.

I played this game solo, switching sides and playing each to the best of my ability.  When I was playing the part of the Americans, I felt like a giant trying to do something important while at the same time being attacked by dozens of bees.  As the Libyan, I felt hopelessly under powered and desperate to just survive and lash out in any way possible.  People play wargames for the same reason as they watch movies or read books - it's to try and get a small taste of the decisions and thoughts that people in other situations experience.  This scenario definitely did that for me and I can't wait to try the next one out.

Sixth Fleet: Libyan-American War (Part V of VI)

Turn 5 Day 2:  Afternoon

The US started off by trying to clear away the Libyan submarines that were skulking around the American task force.  Unfortunately, the results of their efforts were for naught.  Those pesky subs were still there after ASW efforts.

The submarine USS Omaha had better luck, destroying two fast attack craft that were near the US carrier task force.  The remnants of the Libyan flotilla shot at the carrier with SSMs but failed to hit anything.

The US carrier task force is in the middle.  Very cluttered area!

The Americans decided on an all-out air strike on Tripoli this time, sending the entire attack group off to bomb installations around the city.  After the US fighters shoot down the meager number of MiG-23s on CAP over the city, SAMs and AAA took out a pair of F-18s.  Bomb damage was assessed as "largely ineffective".  Still, the Americans did gain three victory points for hitting the city.

The Libyans fought back by sending out the remaining planes in their air force to strike the US carriers.  MiG-23s and Su-20s managed to somehow slip by the F-14 Tomcats but once on their bombing run, all of the Su-20s were destroyed by surface to air missiles.  The Libyan Air Force now consists of a handful of MiG-23s.  Figuring that the next target would likely be Benghazi or Darnah, the MiGs landed in Benghazi and will attempt a CAP next turn.

So far, the Libyans have not had too much luck in defending or attacking but things have not gone entirely smooth for the Americans either.


Sixth Fleet: Libyan-American War (Part IV of VI)

Turn 4 Day 2: Morning

Well, quite a lot happened this morning.  First off, the weather across the Mediterranean was lousy with squalls.    This hampered ship movement and proved to be a fatal development for the Libyans.  The Americans, with all-weather aircraft, were able to deal with the weather without many problems.

The Soviets secretly gave the Libyans some satellite photos to show them where the main American task force was sitting.  Believing there is a high chance of another air attack on Tripoli, the Libyans put up a token cap force of MiG-23s over the city.

The turn started off with the US carrier task force bombing Benghazi and Darnah.  A-6s with greater range hit Darnah while the F-18s hit key sites in Benghazi.

The Americans now have 9 victory points, which is the minimum they need to win this scenario.
MiG-23...not so great results vs. F-14 Tomcats

The Libyans send out some MiG-23s with the remnants of the Su-20 attack aircraft.  They meet the F-14 Tomcats near the carrier force and several Su-20s are shot down.  The rest of the Libyans turn and head back to Tripoli.

The US task force conducts anti-submarine warfare on a nearby Libyan submarine, severely damaging it.  The US submarines conduct torpedo attacks on the Libyan fast attack ships but only manage to damage one of them.

A-6s hit Darnah while F-18s bomb Benghazi

The Libyan flotilla of small ships launches a coordinated attack on the US task force.  A handful of surface-to-surface missiles get through and manage to sink the damaged US destroyer, Comte de Grasse.  The Americans lose 1 victory point.

One of the Libyan submarines manages to score a hit on the USS Rentz, damaging it.

The Libyan flotilla attempts to race back to the port of Benghazi to find cover but the squall prevents it from running too far.  The US carrier task force launches SSMs and destroys two small patrol craft.