Sunday, October 13, 2013

World at War - Counterattack - Scenario 3

"Just Passing Through" is the name of the third scenario for Counterattack, an expansion set in the World at War universe.  This scenario features two formations of Americans (the A/1-8 mechanized infantry and Echo tank company) trying to sweep into the Soviet salient as it advances into France during the early summer of 1985.  Played on the Blood & Bridges map, the Americans face off against the 62nd Motorized Rifle regiment in an effort to take the cities of Uberdorf and Dattenburg.  

Once both of these cities are secured, the West Germans enter the map and try to take the city to the far north, Werthoven.  At the same time this occurs, the Soviets get the 13th Guards Tank division (full of lots of T-80s) to try and take back any lost ground.  For this reason, timing and conservation of forces is a vital issue, especially for NATO.  If the Americans take Dattenberg too late, they probably won't get Werthoven.  If the US takes too many casualties while taking both of their objective cities, they won't be able to fend off the onslaught of the 13th Guards.  

Soviet Setup- 

The scenario setup scatters the 62nd MR among the three cities of Uberdorf, Dattenberg, and Werthoven so there aren't many setup options here, except for where to place the HQ.  Anticipating a US push on Uberdorf, which is nearest to the American initial placement, the Soviet player puts his HQ on the T-64 and infantry platoon in the southern outskirts of the city.

American Setup-

Again, not a lot of options here for the American player.  Echo and the A/1-8 place their units in and around the city of Rahms, which lies south of a large hill.  

Some initial thoughts on tactics - 

For the Soviet player, this really is about delaying the Americans and inflicting punishment on them.  Uberdorf starts off with few units and is pretty much a lost cause.  The US player will suffer from opportunity fire on his advance so the idea is just to keep hitting at him at every turn.  

The American player wants to avoid getting hit by too much opp fire so it may be a good idea not to get caught on the hillside near Rahms.  The Americans might win a firefight here against Soviet units at long range but it would probably be costly.  For the US player, they will attempt to use a war of quick maneuver at ground level, taking Uberdorf with infantry and then hitting Dattenberg next.

Soviet setup on the west side of the BaB map.  Americans set up to the south in and around Rahms.

Turn 1 

Things start off okay for the Americans with an activation by A/1-8, which moves from behind the hill near Rahms for an advance straight north to Uberdorf.  Echo activates next and moves west to pour tank fire at the Soviet infantry and tanks in the city.  Unfortunately, opportunity fire from the T-64 stacked with HQ in the south of the city immediately disrupts the Abrams platoon stacked with a leader.  
An activation chit is pulled for the Soviet 62nd MR and the T-64 fires again, managing to finish off the Abrams/leader stack.  Just to try and slow down the US advance on Uberdorf, a Soviet infantry unit is sent south into the woods near the city.  It will serve as a deadly little speedbump that the US player will have to deal with before attacking Uberdorf itself.

Over to the east, the Soviets start to slowly push half of their infantry and tanks from Dattenberg towards the west to get closer shots at the Americans encroaching on Uberdorf.  A Sagger infantry team and a T-64 from Werthoven start pushing their way south to the beleaguered city.

Echo goes again next and calls in DPICM on Uberdorf, with absolutely no effect.  However, the Abrams stacked with the HQ does eliminate the T-64 sitting in the city and the second Abrams gets a disruption on the pesky Soviet infantry sitting in the nearby forest.

Turn 2

The A/1-8 moves north around the hill and deploys infantry to assault the Soviets sitting in the woods south of Uberdorf but the assault is astoundingly unsuccessful and the enemy infantry remains lodged in the forest.  Another Bradley platoon moves up with its belly full of infantry ready to assault the city.  

Echo fires into the Soviet infantry in the woods and the Abrams manage to reduce it.  Finally, some limited progress is being made.  That's all for tank support as the US player decides it is time to take care of the infantry and tanks streaming in from the east.  The HQ with two Abrams platoons moves east along the road through Rahms, hoping to cut the encroaching Russians off from their attempt at reinforcing Uberdorf.

The 62MR activates next and raises hell on the Bradleys sitting to the south of Uberdorf, successfully reducing two Bradley platoons with long range fire from Dattenberg.  It is too late for the Uberdorf Soviet defenders in the city, however, as the infantry from the A/1-8 takes out the nearby Soviet HQ and infantry.  Uberdorf is still not completely secured but a major portion of the defenders have been knocked out of the fight.

A/1-8 pushes towards Uberdorf.

Echo moves east to cut off encroaching Soviets from Dattenberg.

Turn 3

Echo gets the first activation and takes out a T-64 sitting in the west side of Dattenberg.  The A/1-8 formation was in pretty good shape until the 62nd MR activated next with great rolls to check for command status.  The Bradleys are absolutely peppered with shots from T-64s to the east, successfully destroying an HQ and reducing a Bradley platoon and infantry.  With no one in command next activation, the A/1-8 sits in and around Uberdorf helplessly.

Turn 4

A/1-8 mops up around Uberdorf but is unable to dislodge the final doggedly determined defenders.  End turn markers are pulled early in the turn and we move on to turn 5.

Turn 5

Echo moves further east to start hitting at the tanks in Dattenberg while the A/1-8 manages to eliminate the final defending units in Uberdorf.  The A/1-8 formation is so battered that it can only afford to keep a single meager infantry unit to defend the city while the rest of the formation makes its way east to take Dattenberg.  A Bradley sent up on the hill near Rahms is annihilated by a T-64 platoon that sneaks up on it at close range and destroys it with moving fire.   At this point, the A/1-8 consists of only an HQ and three infantry platoons.  Echo has lost one third of its units. The Soviets have basically cut off Echo from moving north to get at Dattenberg.  Things do not look good for the Americans.

The 62nd MR moves its infantry and tanks slowly from Werthoven, menacing the US infantry occupying Uberdorf.  A FASCAM minefield is called in to slow the advance a little.

Remnants of A/1-8 after taking Uberdorf.

Turn 6

The A/1-8 moves east towards Dattenberg but dares not enter open ground since two T-64 platoons are sitting in the west of the city ready to use opportunity fire on any nearby enemy infantry.  Again, we get an early end to the turn here.

Turn 7

The A/1-8 sits on the hillside during its initial activation.  All of the American artillery has been used up on the assault on Uberdorf.  All they can do is wait for Echo to break through from the south and hit at the enemy tanks.

Echo goes next and manages to reduce a T-64 platoon in Dattenberg.  It's not great but it might be enough to get A/1-8 into the city.  

Unfortunately, an activation by the 62nd MR messes up the plan completely.  The Soviets north of Uberdorf jaunt around the FASCAM minefield and start using moving fire on the US infantry defending the city.  It is ineffective.  The Soviets start moving their infantry and tanks around the south of Dattenberg to surround and isolate the American tanks in Echo. The noose tightens.

FASCAM minefields in place to slow down Sov units from Werthoven.

Turn 8

The 62nd MR activates immediately and the deadly trap is sprung.  Echo is disrupted by fire from a T-64 on the hillside to the west while a BTR-70 platoon somehow manages a successful assault on the Abrams in Echo, disrupting a tank platoon and knocking out the US HQ.  With both American units disrupted, the Soviet HQ and two infantry units assault the American tanks, destroying one platoon.  

The A/1-8 formation is unable to wait any longer from an American tank company that is clearly not coming anytime soon.  The US infantry pours down from the hillside west of Dattenberg and enters the city, assaulting and destroying a Soviet T-64 tank platoon.  Echo activates and all it does is disrupt a BTR-70 platoon.  Highly disappointing performance from the American tanks.  Without their HQ, they are out of command for the next activation.

The Soviets about to spring a trap on Echo as it nears Dattenberg.  Note A/1-8 sitting helplessly on hill to NW.

Turn 9

Not much hope is left for the Americans but good things might happen if they can quickly take Dattenberg and get those West German reinforcements on the board.  

A/1-8 infantry moves north to assault the sole remaining tank in Dattenberg but suffers from opportunity fire disruption before they can start to work.  Unfortunately, their HQ is destroyed from the opportunity fire (when will the Americans catch a break here?) and they are out of command for the next activation.

A/1-8 fails in its bid to assault the remaining T-64 in north Dattenberg.

Echo activates and desperately pushes north towards Dattenberg, using moving fire to try and destroy the infantry stacked with the 62nd MR HQ.  The 62nd MR has other plans, however, and manages to keep the Americans at bay, surrounding them with light APCs and infantry.  Soviet tanks in Dattenberg manage to reduce the adjacent US infantry from A/1-8.  North of Uberdorf, Soviet T-64s let loose volley after volley of fire at the defending US infantry but no luck is had.

Echo trapped on either side by Soviet units and unable to move north.

Turn 10 

Two end turn markers are pulled.

Turn 11

With Dattenberg still in the grip of the Soviets, there is little hope here for a US win.  We'll see what happens anyways.  A/1-8 activates and destroys the Soviet tank platoon in the city and then races down south to claim control of most of the city.  If the US tanks from Echo can make it in, there might be hope for some semblance of a respectable outcome for the American player. 

Echo manages to overrun the 62nd MR infantry sitting adjacent to them but it is also destroyed in the fighting.  The 62nd MR sends its tanks and infantry into Uberdorf to rub salt in the American wounds.

End Game - Soviets take part of Uberdorf.

End Game:

Well, things turned out quite badly for the US player.  That actually might be an understatement as not one of the US objectives were achieved nor were any reinforcements able to be called in.  This was one of those games where poor decisions made early in the game just compounded on the American player and led to an outright disaster.  

The decision to send Echo off towards the east to try and catch the Soviets heading from Dattenberg towards Uberdorf was a huge mistake.  It would have been better to have kept the Abrams at long range from the tanks in Dattenberg and just eliminate them from there.  The US player was absolutely wrong to split forces and leave the hapless Bradleys sitting exposed on their assault on Uberdorf.  By the time the city was taken, A/1-8 was so badly damaged that it could do very little to affect the outcome of the game.  Echo was trapped entirely by a small and determined Soviet force that was extremely effective at using close range fire to disrupt and assault it.  The decision for the US player to stay off the hills from the start of the game was not a good one.  The hill to the north of Rahms could have provided great LOS and defensive bonus against Soviet fire, especially considering that the Russians had absolutely no artillery support.  

I had mixed feelings about writing up such a lop-sided report but I felt like I learned a lot from this game and I intend to apply the lessons to another run through of this scenario in the very near future.  

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

World at War - Counterattack - Scenario 2

These days, in between bouts of 7th Fleet and Nations at War, I've been having fun playing the World at War expansion, Counterattack.  After playing through its first scenario, "Dial 411 for Information", the second scenario, called "One Thing At a Time",  was quickly set up on my table over the weekend.

The background here is that NATO is desperately trying to stall the Soviet advance into France in early June of '85.  In order to stem the tide, the Americans send in a special group of Sheridan tanks behind the front lines to hit at reinforcements coming through Dattenberg.  The Soviets will score VPs by both exiting units off the west side of the map and taking out the Sheridans.

The order of battle is quite interesting as the Americans only get four platoons to work with from the 3-73 formation.  These are nowhere near as powerful as Abrams tanks, with neither their armor toughness nor their range capabilities (Sheridans have a 1-5 armor rating and range of only 11 and cannot fire at extended range).  The Soviets have two formations, the 65th Tank Regiment and the 143rd Tank Regiment.  These are all composed of T-64 platoons with extended range capable cannons. To make up for the lack of US long range firepower, the US 3-73 formation gets a DPICM strike (that can hit three surrounding hexes) every single turn.

This scenario takes place on the Blood & Bridges map and the activation mechanic forgoes the usual chit-pull routine in favor of two tables that outline an order of activations for both sides.  The table that you use is rolled for each turn so even though there is less unpredictability here, the order of activations is by no means set in stone, giving the scenario some nice replayability.

Here's how things panned out during one of my plays of "One Thing At a Time":


The Soviets set up first here and they don't get many options.  The 65th Tank is splayed in column formation along the road from Anhausen to Dattenberg, sitting right out in the open.  The only decision here is where exactly to put your HQ, which can be a bit agonizing as the US player sets up second with a wide range of options.

65th Tank Regiment: Lined up and ready for a beatin'!

The 143rd is set up in and adjacent to Rieden way on the east side of the map.

The 143rd Tank Regiment in and around Rieden.

The Americans choose to set up on the hill to the southwest of Dattenberg, overlooking the broad expanse to the east with a nice shot at the oncoming Soviet tanks.  This provides excellent defensive cover as well.  The Sheridans will benefit with one extra defensive die due to their being on a hillside (should the Soviets fire from ground level) and another die for being in woods hexes.

American Sheridan tanks of the 3-73 perched on a hilltop on the west side of the map.

Turn One

The 3-73 starts off with a bang and serves up a piping hot plate of Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions on the HQ of the 65th and the surrounding T-64 platoons.  Fortunately for the Soviet tankers, it manages to reduce only the platoon with the HQ while the two other nearby platoons are disrupted.

The Sheridans fire off their Shillelagh anti-tank missiles, which destroy two T-64 platoons.  Overall, the 65th is bruised by the opening salvo but definitely still in the fight.  The Soviet tank commander pulls back his disrupted platoons towards Anhausen, where they are out of range of the American anti-tank missiles and they have better cover in the city ruins.

Meanwhile, the 143rd Tank Regiment creeps westwards along the south side of the board, hoping to have the US tanks within long range striking distance by next turn.

The 65th Tank Regiment HQ pulls back with disrupted forces while lead elements sit waiting to advance.

Turn Two

The 3-73 starts the turn off again with DPICM strikes, this time aimed at the T-64s and HQ of the 143rd Tank Regiment.  The strike is somewhat effective, catching the Russian tanks in the open and reducing two platoons and the Soviet HQ.  The DPICMs are the only thing to strike out at the Russians this turn as the Soviet tanks are either out of American AT missile range or not in line of sight.

The 143rd keeps moving up to find range on the Sheridan tanks.  Moving fire is almost totally ineffective, causing only one disruption on one American platoon, which it shakes off easily during the next 3-73 activation.

The 65th moves its lead tanks into Dattenberg while long range fire from the units back in Anhausen serve as deadly cover fire, reducing one of the Sheridan platoons sitting on the east side of their hillside defensive positions.

The 143rd finds no purchase in its attempts to destroy the 3-73 at extended range.

Turn Three

Having been stung by the long range fire from the 65th Tank Regiment, the 3-73 throws the DPICM artillery strikes at the Soviet HQ sitting in Anhausen.  The city ruins prove effective cover, however, and the artillery strike manages only to disrupt two Soviet tank platoons.

The Soviets hit their stride this turn.  The 143rd fires from long range at the Sheridans, killing one of the American platoons.  The 65th activates later in the turn, hammering the two Sheridan platoons sitting with the 3-73 HQ, killing one and disrupting the other.  Half the American force has been wiped out so far, so the 65th Tank Regiment commander pushes his lead platoons straight out of Dattenberg and towards the exit hex on the west side of the board.  Victory seems to be within the Soviets' grasp.

The 65th Tank Regiment sends two platoons far out ahead to dash for the exit hex.  3-73 is hurting badly.

Turn Four

The 143rd gets an activation right off the bat and destroys the remaining Sheridan stacked with the US 3-73 HQ, leaving only a single American unit sitting on the board.  It's starting to look like game over for the Americans at this point.  The Soviet 65th takes some fire from the single American unit but shrugs it off with a successful armor save roll.

The two lead units of the 65th are far away to the west of their HQ and end up out of command, even though they are in striking distance of getting off the board.

Turn Five

The Americans get their HQ back and let loose at the two Soviet lead units of the 65th Tank Regiment, incurring one disruption.  Anti-tank missiles do the rest of the job by finishing off one of the lead Soviet tank platoons.  The Russians now have only one platoon that can possibly get to the exit hex now.  It's down to the wire on this one as turn six is fast approaching.

The lead tank of the 65th, far outside of its HQ's limited command range, rolls for command and is indeed in command!  It saunters its way to the west side of the board.  One more activation and it will have exited, earning the Soviets some nice VPs.

The 3-73 activates and can only move this turn in order to find LOS on the single Soviet tank platoon making its way to the exit hex.  The 143rd keeps heading west though it has no chance of reaching the exit hex on time.

The sole remaining Sheridan moves west to fire on the sole lead tank of the 65th Soviet Tank Regiment.

Turn Six

The 3-73 activates and the sole remaining lead Soviet unit of the 65th Tank Regiment is destroyed in a hail of DPICM and anti-tank missiles.  This basically ruins the Soviet chances for VPs.  The 143rd and the remainder of the 65th Tank Regiment move further west, vainly attempting to reach the exit hex.

With no Soviet units exited from the board but three of the four American units destroyed, I decide to count this as three victory points for the Russians, which comes out to an American Victory, according to the scenario rules.  However, if the scenario went on for even one or two more turns, I felt this probably would have been an overwhelming Soviet victory.

End Game - The Soviets have failed to exit any units off the map.  That lonely Sheridan is in a bit of trouble though...

The American DPICM strikes were brutal and managed to hurt the Soviets every time they landed.  The fact that one strike can hit multiple hexes at the same time makes them incredibly dangerous.  The best Soviet option seems to be to stay out of US anti-tank missile range and fire away at extended range in hopes of damaging the 3-73 just enough to get Russian tank platoons safely off the board.

With the Americans getting a bonus dice each for a.) being in an elevated position and b.) in a forested hex, it was hard work for the Russians to acheive their goals.  Alternately, having played this scenario with a Soviet rush to simply close range assault the Americans or just get guys moving off the map with limited covering fire, I can say that these tactics don't seem to work so well either unless the Soviets are extremely lucky.  Had the Soviet lead tanks of the 65th been in command during turn five, I felt the Russians would have had this in the bag but with a 6 morale rating, the chances of this working out were quite low.  Likewise, the Soviets can't afford to just disrupt the US Sheridans with their exceptionally high morale of 8 as they can shrug off disruptions easily on their next activation.

I liked this scenario as the two sides are very different in terms of their capabilities at various ranges and the resources they have at their command and it reminds me a little of the excellent Angels of Death scenario from Blood & Bridges.