Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Star Wars Minis - Battle on Endor

I don't often get out my Star Wars minis but I always find that when I do, I usually end up having a much better time than I thought I would.  After slogging through The Third World War for the past couple of weeks, I needed a chaser  - something light, quick, and easy.  Star Wars Miniatures fit the bill nicely in this regard.  There aren't a whole lot of rules to remember but it has some nice wargame-y aspects (line of sight, cover, squad cohesion and command elements, etc.) that make it a nice light tactical affair for afn evening play.

Deep in the back of the gaming closet, I rummaged around and found my old "Battle for Endor" expansion set with a huge AT-ST along with the map for the famous shield generator scene from "Return of the Jedi".  Since my last game of Star Wars featured a small group of major characters (Darth Vader and Obi Wan) battling it out, I decided to change up and have a large group of minor characters (plus the AT-ST) in a bigger battle.  Here's how things turned out.

Setup with the Rebel forces outside the Shield Generator building in the tree cover.
The Rebels set up on the outer perimeter of the base, just inside the tree cover offered by the forest moon's lush vegetation.  There are a couple of Scout Troopers near their speeder bikes nearby while an AT-ST sits just on the left Rebel flank.  The Rebels need to somehow get past this outer defense and penetrate into the Shield Generator building and set off a demolition charge beside the Shield Generator to allow for the Rebel fleet to destroy the new Death Star currently under construction high above the forest moon.

The Scout Trooper makes a break for the Imperial bunker as nearby Rebels fire at them.

The first turn involved the Rebels fruitlessly attempting to shoot the Imperial Scout Troopers as they tried to make their way into the Imperial bunker but several shots missed and the Scouts found themselves firing back and killing off two Ewoks in quick succession.  The smell of burning fur and shrill annoying cries fills the forest air.

Another Scout Trooper flees from the Rebel commandos hidden in the forest.
Another Scout Trooper fared worse in his attempts to flee and return fire on the other flank.  A commando led a Quarren Assassin, a Rebel Pilot, and C-3P0 and R2D2 to the outskirts of the trees and managed to wound but not kill off the trooper before he got much further.

Stormtroopers inside the bunker assemble and prepare to repel the Rebel attack
Inside the bunker, three Stormtroopers (including an officer) are aware of the battle outside and are ordered to get to the bunker's doorway and return fire at the encroaching Rebels.

The AT-ST gets to work
The AT-ST starts firing away at the Rebels on their left flank and seriously messes up the enemy's day.  A  Rhodian Mercenary and his ally are both killed by the Scout Walker's twin blasters.  Things are not going well for the Rebels!

Stormtroopers return fire as a Scout Trooper runs for the safety of the bunker.
By this time, the Rebels hadn't done very much against the Imperials and the Scout Troopers were nearly to the entrance of the bunker.  Two Stormtroopers at the bunker entrance managed to eliminate another one of the Rebels on the left flank.

Rebels make a break for it.
The remaining Rebels on the right flank are faced with little choice but to make a break for it.  C3P0 and R2D2 make their way out of the forest.  Since they have the "Distracting" ability, they automatically draw fire from all enemies.  While the droids circle around the clearing uselessly, the rest of the Rebels runs from the forest cover and towards the bunker, taking their chances with the deadly AT-ST fire.

Rebel forces about to make a break from the forest cover towards the bunker.

All hell breaks loose as the AT-ST, the Scout Troopers and the Stormtroopers open fire on the Rebels as they approach the bunker.  Although the remaining two Rebels on the left flank are killed (thus the entire flank is gone), they take out both Scout Troopers before being eliminated by the AT-ST's twin lasers.  The Rebel Commando takes a well placed shot and kills a Stormtrooper.  The remaining Imperials gather inside the bunker and prepare to defend it to the last man against the meager attacking forces.  It's anyone's call as to who will win this one.



Imperial forces get ready to defend the bunker as Rebels attempt to enter.
The blast doors on the bunker slam shut but C3P0 and R2D2 have the ability to open these things.  As AT-ST fire rips at the Rebels outside the bunker, the droids manage to open the doors and the Rebels charge inside.

Rebel Commando and his pal, Quarren Assassin make their way inside the bunker as Stormtroopers fire at them.
While the Stormtroopers take a couple of shots at the Rebels as they enter, the AT-ST clunkily moves from the side of the base towards the front.  Before the droids can get inside, the Scout Walker unloads on them and reduces both robots to burnt metal fragments and wires.  Don't worry - it's nothing that a sequel can't fix!

AT-ST fires at the droids near the blast doors and eliminates them
The blast doors slam shut behind the two remaining Rebels, rendering the AT-ST unable to fire at them.  Now it's just a fight between the people inside.  The Imperials are made to pay for using their turn to eliminate the droids as the Quarren Assassin levels his rifle at the Stormtrooper Captain and kills him.  It's just 2 on 2 now.



The Stormtrooper and an Imperial Navy Trooper blast away at the two Rebels, confident of their ultimate victory.   Unfortunately, both (!) of them roll a "1"'s on a d20  roll to hit.  Both Rebels fire back and kill the Stormtrooper.  The Navy Trooper gets off one more shot before succumbing to blaster fire from the Quarren Assassin.  Both remaining rebels make their way to the Shield Generator room.  The Rebel Commando plants the demolitions and a narrow victory goes to the ragtag group of good guys.


Rebel Commando plants explosive detonators next to the Shield Generator.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Third World War: The Reset

Well, I went through the next several turns of my first game of "The Third World War:  Battle for Germany".  I made lots of rules mistakes and played through them as best as I could, gradually picking up the system until I had a fairly good grip on it.  Three turns and several evenings passed by while I worked out where I had gone wrong both in terms of rules and overall Pact strategy.  During my first play, NATO had kept the Soviets pinned tightly to the East German border and three weeks of fighting ended with only a trickle of Russian armor breaking out in the south before NATO plugged the gaps.

Several mistakes I had made:
1)  Not counting movement points correctly when leaving enemy ZOCs
2)  Not advancing units correctly after forcing enemy retreats
3)  Not calculating terrain combat modifiers correctly (about half the time)

Those are some pretty big errors but pushing through the turns definitely helped to give me the chance to learn the rules better and incorporate the lessons in my next game, which I promptly set up and began again.

Here's my turn-by-turn reports from my latest play of Third World War:  Battle for Germany, starting over from turn 1.



Turn 2 report:

Turn 3 report:

Turn 4 report:





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!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Third World War: Battle for Germany - The Ground War

Okay, it's time for the Warsaw Pact to get this party started on the ground.  The first echelon impulse begins and we start with some jostling around the intra German border, hoping to hit at nearby NATO units and push hard past them.

The Intra German border at the start of WW3
Everything in the south part of the board suddenly looks pretty vulnerable right now on the western side of the border.  A couple of the Pact units in the extreme south make it  including the Czechs in the far south, who are hitting at the 4th Panzergrenadiers Division to the east of Augsburg.  The odds here are actually pretty low (only 1.5: 1 in the Pact's favor) for this attack due to the low proficiency rating of the Czech divisions.  It probably would have been wiser to support their attack with a Soviet unit but I wanted to hit the 2nd ACR up north as hard as possible.  I also think that I can supplement the attack with air support, especially since the WP has air superiority this turn.

Su-25 Frogfoots revved up for the attack


Further north of that, to the east of Nürnberg, the 8th Guards Tank Army piles on the attack factors versus the 2nd Air Cav of the US 5th Division at odds of 5 - 1.  Again, I'm going to be sending in aircraft to bring up the odds even further and hopefully earn enough of a victory to send my Pact units far forward in the second echelon phase.

Everyone jumps in against the 1st Armored Division (15-15-7)


Going further up north, the Warsaw Pact is going to throw everything it can at the US VII Corps' 1st Armored Division.  I'd like to start clearing out the big units here to free up my other guys so they can surge forward without having to worry about them too much.  This attack is a big combined operation consisting of the 8th Guards Army, 1st Guards Tank Army, and 8th Guards Tank Army.  Of course, I'd like to throw air into this battle too, even at 6-1 to make for a nice schmorgesborg of destruction.

The US V Corps' 11th ACR is slated for annihilation next at 9-1 odds against.  No need to throw air into this one.  Unless something really bad happens, the poor 11th should be just a nice little speedbump on the way to Paris.

I'm gambling big time with a 1.5 - 1 attack vs. the British 1st Armored Division.  I know this isn't a good idea but a good result for the Pact here could really set back NATO in the northern area and let the Warsaw Pact make some big gains in the ensuing second echelon phase.  Airstrikes are going in to help improve Pact odds.

As we get further north, up near Magdeburg, the 1st Panzer Division is about to get its lumps.  Facing off against the entire 3rd Shock Army at odds of 8 to 1, a victory for the Pact here could rip open the entire northern area for advance since there are so many gaps in the line around here. At the northernmost point, the area around Hamburg is getting crowded with NATO units, so it's time to at least try and send one of them packing.  The West German 1st Airborne Helo Regiment and the 3rd Panzer Division are attacked by 2nd Guards Army and 4th Guards Tank Army (which has just rolled in from Poland, I believe) at 2-1.  Hopefully, Pact air strikes will make the difference here by shifting the odds a little further in the Soviets' favor.

Over to the east, the Poles are assigned the task of crushing NATO forces in West Berlin.  Although the fight looks easy enough at first due to overwhelming numbers, the proficiency of NATO units (especially the British) in West Berlin and the perils of urban fighting help to tip the balance a little further towards the beleaguered NATO units.  At 3 - 1, the Poles should be able to pull of a win here but I'll throw some air at the situation to try and ensure success.

Ground Attack: 

A total of 5 Su-25 air units are assigned to hit at the NATO forces along the border and in West Berlin.  NATO decides to stay its hand and doesn't send up any counter-air as it would likely get shot down pretty quick.  Also, with the impending loss of two flights from the runway cratering mission, it might be wise to be a bit conservative with its air right now.  Hopefully, air defense will manage to be enough.

The missions take off and...hol...ee...crow.  Only one mission succeeds while air defenses cause two aborted missions and shoot down the remaining two air strike missions.  The good news for the Pact is that the West German 1st Helo and 3rd Panzer Division are now being attacked at 5-1 near Hamburg.  However, there were two missions that really needed to get through that cause me great concern (the 1.5-1 fight between the Czechs and West Germans in the deep south and the 1.5 - 1 fight against the British 1st Armored Division near Hamburg in the north).  I'm suddenly starting to get a sinking feeling here about the coming battle.

Attack Results:

The terrible effects of losing so many aircraft on ground attack missions is sobering and the lesson has hopefully been learned - air support is is to be used as additional insurance for attacks rather than a substitute for a lack of ground attack strength.  It can shift the odds in your favor but shouldn't be relied upon too heavily.

The frontline after the first echelon attack phase



Despite all that, the attack rolls don't go too badly for the Warsaw Pact.  Near Hamburg, the 3rd Panzer Division and 1st Helo are take 2 disruptions and get pushed all the way back to the city.  The 1st Panzer Division east of Hannover gets completely destroyed as does the poor 11th ACR further to the south near the Fulda Gap.  South of that, the 2nd ACR takes two disruptions and retreats back southwest.

The attack against the British ends up with nothing gained, nothing lost as both sides take a disruption hit.  The big loser here is the US VII Corps 1st Armored Division, which takes 2 disruptions and is forced to retreat.  This was the most powerful unit the Pact attacked this turn and this result hurts NATO.  To make matters worse, because it passes through the LOC of a Pact unit on its way back, it takes yet another disruption.  Down at the very south of the map, the Czechs fail to gain any ground, inflicting a disruption against the West Germans and suffering disruptions themselves.  I believe the Pact will be able to carry out a few interesting moves here in the second echelon phase.

I think I got everything right in this phase!  I'm sure I could have allocated the attacks in a better way but as this is my first playthrough, it felt pretty good to actually get some units past the border.  Now let's see what we can do with the gaps we've created.

Up Next:  Warsaw Pact Second Echelon Impulse!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Third World War: The Air War - Turn 1

This is just a series of short posts dealing with my attempts to play through a turn of "The Third World War" in order to learn the basics of the game.  If you haven't tried it before, hopefully this will give you some insight into how it plays - providing I don't make too many major rules errors!



The Air Superiority Phase starts and the Soviets throw anything up in the air that might be able to fly - regardless of whether it's obsolete junk or the newest high-tech fighters.  They have more air units available this turn (NATO starts getting serious with air reinforcements in the coming turns) so this is the Warsaw Pact's big chance for AS (and probably the only time they'll get it all game, from what I've been reading).

Warsaw Pact throws almost everything into the air to gain air superiority on turn 1


With 24 air units on air superiority missions, NATO concedes the air to the Warsaw Pact for now and assigns its better aircraft (F-15s and F-16s mostly) to intercept Pact air missions attempting strike or ground attack missions.  The rule here is that the player who has air superiority gets to have two air units on air superiority missions (escorts, interception, top cover, etc.) while the one without only gets to have one unit on these kinds of missions.

The Deep Strike Phase happens and NATO is unable to launch any strikes on turn 1 so the Pact goes ahead and tries for a runway cratering mission and also a logistical strike.  The cratering mission is flown by long range Tu-160 Blackjack bombers and escorted by Su-27s and Mig-29s.  Meanwhile, the logistical strike mission will be flown by Polish Su-20 attack aircraft and also escorted by Su-27s and Mig-29s.

NATO scrambles USAF F-15s to attempt to intercept the incoming strike missions.  First off, we resolve interception against the cratering mission and the F-15s manage to shoot down the Su-27 escorts before being shot down by the Mig-29s.  The same exact thing happens with the F-15s intercepting the logistical strike mission.  Despite the nasty losses of the F-15s for NATO, the loss of the Su-27s is far more devastating for the Warsaw Pact, which has fewer high capability combat aircraft to lose.  NATO still has F-15s left in its arsenal and will have more coming online in future turns.

Left:  Runway cratering mission w/ escorts vs F-15s  Right:  Logistical Strike mission w/ escorts vs F-15s


The runway cratering mission gets to its destination and has some remarkable luck, catching two NATO air units on the runway and destroying them (these aircraft will be randomly selected and removed in an upcoming impulse).  The logistical strike is also quite successful, putting 5 NATO brigades out of supply.  This will come into effect on the turn 2 Supply Phase*.  So far, things have been going quite well for the Soviets and their allies but the real test is yet to come.

*Oops, no. That should have come into effect immediately.  I tried to balance this out in the subsequent turn.

Next up:  The Ground War begins!

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Third World War: A Brief Update

Over the weekend, my newest game aquisition, GDW's 1984 classic "The Third World War:  Battle for Germany" arrived.  TWW is one of those WW3 games that has a great deal of affection from many wargamers.  The fluidity of the rules along with the wide array of options available to both the NATO and Warsaw Pact along with the ability to mix the game together with others in the series for a huge 80s style superpower dust-up appealed greatly to gamers.  Reading the reviews at the time, it seems Frank Chadwick's design was largely perceived as elegant.

Battle for Germany was the first of the games released in "The Third World War" series.  Set in 1990, the game was based on Chadwick's projections about a near-term conflict between the Pact and NATO that's sparked by events in the Middle East.  GDW was nothing if not confident about the game's ability to appeal to wargamers.  Consequently, the scope of the series expanded in future releases in the series, including Southern Front, Arctic Front, and Persian Gulf:  The Battle for the Middle East.  You can't help but wonder where Chadwick had gone next with the series if the Cold War hadn't ended and GDW hadn't gotten into some amount of financial difficulty by the late 1980s.





So with great anticipation, I ordered the first game in the series, Battle for Germany, and waited patiently.  Over the weekend, it arrived and I wasted no time in setting it up on the table, plunking down the counters, opening the rules up and...


After running through a practice turn in the full game and finding out just how many mistakes I made, I resolved to go back and slowly advance through the game once again after setting it up.  To make matters a bit easier for myself, I'm playing the "short game" which features only the battle in Germany itself and ignores the southwestern theater of operations that covers Yugoslavia and northern Italy.  I'm going to be blogging my attempts to learn the game on what is really my first playthrough.  I tend to get frustrated during this process so the coming updates may take a while or they may be incomplete - you've been warned!

So here's my current setup on the eve of war:

After NATO and Warsaw Pact initial setup

Is this a good setup?  I'm not sure.  I've tried to basically position the Warsaw Pact forces so that one army will try to tear a hole in the NATO defense while the other tries to crawl through it and burst through to the enemy's rear in the second echelon impulse. I'm a little worried that I've positioned too many Pact units on the border without enough reserve in place for a breakthrough.

Things look strongest in the center of the board where the powerful 8th and 1st Guards Army are poised to break through the Fulda Gap though with the powerful US V Corps sitting there, I'm not sure this is going to be an easy fight.  I'm pretty confident the Pact will hit NATO very hard around Hamburg but it doesn't look like they'll have much to follow it through with.  I'm hoping the Poles sitting way to the east can come in and exploit any gaps.  Down south, the Czechs will hopefully keep the West Germans busy while the nearby Soviets aim for the US units near Frankfurt.

After the Pact sets up, NATO gets a special impulse for forward movement.  Most of the NATO units managed to make the roll to move up towards the intra German border.  The French sunk a bunch of their armor around Frankfurt to shore up US defenses near Fulda and the Canadians are ready to help out.  All except one British division (the 4th Armored Division) made it to Hannover in what is destined to become a bloody affair with the 3rd Shock Army.  The most notable activations failure was that of the US III Corps' 2nd Armored Division, which is still sitting south of Osnabrück doing not much of anything at all.  That's a huge setback for NATO as they would likely prove very deadly working with the UK I Corps against Pact armor breakthrough attempts near Hannover.

After NATO Forward Movement



Neutral Activation Phase:  This is the Pact's chance to declare war on a neutral nation so if it feels like going into Austria during the turn, this is the chance.  The WP seems to have enough strength in the south and there's no need to make any new enemies (yet) so Austria is left alone for this turn.

Weather:  Weather is good for the entire first week of the war.  

Restraint Phase:  Neither player declares nuclear weapons restraint this turn.  Hope you know how to make a family shelter!

Next up!  Air Phase...

Friday, April 4, 2014

Anzac Attack: Amgrunts - The Scenario AAR - Part 2

This is part 2 of the 'Amgrunts' scenario from Lock 'n Load Publishing's Anzac Attack, the expansion for Forgotten Heroes II.  Part 1 is posted here.

Last we left off, the Marines were in considerable trouble, with the NVA managing to surround their right flank and threaten to overrun it.  On the left flank, the Marines and the ARVN were having better luck against the NVA, managing to make some small gains.  

Turns 5 & 6:

The fifth turn starts with the Marines fending off the NVA squad and shaking up another one nearby with .30 cal fire from an Amtrac.  The NVA pull their half-squad back and manage to shake up an amphibious vehicle with mortar and machinegun fire.  Overall, the pressure starts easing up on the Americans on the right flank and the tables slowly turn in their favor.  The Americans push one squad and a half squad up the center of the board.

American right flank has pushed back the NVA by the end of turn 5.


On the left flank, the ARVN are performing well despite constant pressure from the NVA.  Nu Dat keeps pushing squad after squad at a single 2-4-4 ARVN squad but the combination of defensive fire from both the Marines and Lt. Ho's squads helps to keep the NVA bottled up in the heavy jungle.  The 106mm howitzer mounted on the Amtrac directly to the south also limits the NVA's options for maneuver.  

The following turn, the Americans make some major gains as they push through with attacks everywhere.  Two of the shaken Amtracs from the previous turn manage to rally and Capt. Peters and his men are also back in action.  This frees up the Marines' right flank and they are completely let loose at the slowly dwindling number of NVA around them.  One Amtrac shakes up Lt. Thien and his men and Reagin follows up by eliminating them in melee.  Two Marine squads in the center advance close up to the nearby NVA positions on board 1.  One squad takes some hits from NVA fire but a hero (Lucky Man) emerges from the cauldron of combat.

Over on the left flank, the NVA leader and his squads suffer several shaken results but a hero with a "Rage" card prevents a melee elimination.  Lt. Ho holds off on the melee and orders his squads to fire again on Nu Dat.  The hero is wounded and two squads are reduced to half-squads.  Overall, a painful but not yet fatal experience for the NVA on the left flank.  An ARVN squad gets a hero after coming under fire from an adjacent 2-4-4 NVA.

American and ARVN left flank:  The ARVN and one Marine squad face a giant pile of shaken NVA.


Well, after a harrowing first four turns of the game, the tide seems to have slowly turned in the US favor by turn 6.  Still too early to tell who's going to win this one.  The piles of eliminated squad counters for both sides looks pretty even.

End of turn 6:  Reagin and his men are off to the southeast and not shown here.
Turns 7 and 8:

The NVA starts to overreach here a bit at the start of the turn.  Lt. Van Du fires at and melees a nearby USMC half squad.  With the Americans able to rally almost all of their Amtracs, they open fire at Van Du and an American Marine hero closes in and melees the shaken NVA.  The right flank is almost totally clear now for the Marines!

US hero about to enter melee with Lt. Van Du and clear up the right flank.


On the left flank up on board 9, Lt. Ho and an ARVN hero fire on a big stack of NVA squads under Nu Dat, shaking most of them.  An NVA hero and a half-squad with an RPD are protecting the stack, however, so the nearby US Marines opt to pull back slightly rather than charge into a risky situation.  Captain Peters follows up from the right to help out and the Amtracs begin to surround and isolate the remaining NVA stack.  Things suddenly look very grim for the North Vietnamese.

Remaining NVA on left flank fend off nearby ARVN hero.

Turns 9 and 10:

"From hell's heart, I stab at thee."  The few remaining NVA manage to eliminate Lt. Ho and his squads with
the help of some firepower and some nice rallying.  Two NVA half squads get reconstituted at the start of the turn into a single powerful 2-4-4 with an RPD and this proves extremely deadly.  By the time the dust clears at the start of turn 9, the ARVN have only a single hero still on the board.  Not a single ARVN squad has survived the scenario.

The remaining NVA in their final moments: beleagured and surrounded by vehicles and Marines.


The American player pushes the rest of his Marines into position to take out the NVA with a single powerful push in turn 10.  Captain Peters gets a 3-6-4 squad with an M-60 to move in after a nearby US hero draws the fire of Nu Dat.  At 1-1 odds, the NVA have a decent chance but they roll a 2 while the American player gets an 11.  Things end badly for the NVA and the three remaining turns in the game consist of isolated mopping up of shaken units and a 60mm mortar team.  I wish I could say this was tense right through to the end of turn 13 but this particular game just fell into the American player's lap with the loss of Lt. Van Du and the NVA never had a chance to recover.

End Game

With no NVA units on the board, we take stock of our casualties and see what the battle has wrought for both sides.  The NVA get a total of 31 points for eliminating several US Marine squads and basically wiping out the ARVN.  However, with the NVA suffering a complete collapse in turns 9 and 10, they have lost an entire battalion, which gives the US player 45 points.  It's by no means a complete blow out but the Americans have won a significant victory.

The eliminated NVA points counted up at the end of the scenario.


Conclusion

Those Amtracs really are deadly!  The NVA put a lot of pressure on the Americans in the early and mid-game but they kept getting hurt by the armored amphibious vehicles roaming around the board and firing at the enemy from adjacent hexes.  It's clear that NVA firepower should have been better used in the early game to knock out the Amtracs permanently rather than merely shake them (the Amtracs were repeatedly shaken up throughout the game but they almost always rallied in the next turn).  Although I realized this by mid-game, I had all of my RPG-carrying units sitting in buildings and since ordnance cannot be fired from a building, they were unable to strike effectively at nearby enemy vehicles.

It would have been interesting if the NVA had been a little more aggressive up on board 9 from earlier on in the game.  They should have chosen to melee the ARVN units instead of assault moving and firing on them from adjacent hexes.  By trying to preserve too much of their force through careful movement and fire, they ended up inadvertantly buying time for the Marines on the right flank.  Also coordinating the two NVA forces (board 1 and board 9) would have certainly worked in their favor if they had been able to manage it.  I really feel that the NVA should have had this one but they let too many opportunities slip through their fingers.

This was a particularly interesting scenario!  The pressure is really on for both sides and the extremely high number of casualties reflects how deadly these forces can be when they run into each other in pitched battle.  My first playthrough of this scenario ended with the NVA ruling the board by turn 7 so with this result, I believe it is nicely balanced.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Anzac Attack: Amgrunts - The Scenario AAR - Part 1

Well, you've read the history, now it's time for the report!

This is a 13-turn affair that involves three forces; the US Marines and the Republic of South Vietnam are up against the K-500 Battalion of North Vietnamese Army regulars.  Four maps are involved with a nice variety of terrain.  In the northwest, we have some very heavy jungle and east of that, we have lighter jungle with a small village.  The scenario doesn't say which side sets up first (oops!) but I'm just guessing based on my own LnL experience that it's the NVA.

NVA force 1 consists of 8 squads with a 60mm mortar team set up on map board 1 to the northeast.  Two units with RPGs are set up in the kunai grass to the south of the village in an attempt to keep the American Amtracs at bay should they attempt a head-on attack from the south.

NVA force 2 also has 8 squads and they are set up in the jungles on board 9.  A recoilless rifle and a platoon of men are set up along the road to ambush the American Amtracs should they try to come up the road.  Another platoon is set up slightly to the west and it will be used to attack the nearby South Vietnamese troops.

The South Vietnamese (ARVN) forces set up on board 9 quite near the NVA.  They get 6 squads and some light weapons.  Without assault move capability, they are outgunned as well as outnumbered by their North Vietnamese enemies.  Clearly, they will not last long against a sustained NVA assault.

Cue the US Marine Corps, which will be sending elements of the 1st Amtrac Battalion up from the south side of the board on turn 1.  They get a few Amtracs with .30 cal machineguns and one Amtrac with a 106mm howitzer.  The Marines also have a decent amount of hard-chargin' 2-6-4 and 3-6-4 squads to take on the North Vietnamese.

A view from afar:  The board all set up and ready to go before turn 1.
Turns 1 & 2:

The USMC comes on to the board first, entering with all squads mounted on the three .30 cal Amtracs.  The Americans approach on a broad front on both board 5 and board 2, spread out from east to west.  Lt. Reagin and his two squads dismount in the light jungle just south of NVA force 2 and they get hammered by a double whammy of accurate RPD machine gun fire and 130mm artillery.  While the Marines lose a half squad and suffer a wounded leader and a shaken full squad, they do manage to get a hero with the "Multifaceted" hero trait.  He pulls two cards and gets "Loner" and "Veteran" - a deadly combination that may prove instrumental in the hard fight ahead.

Lt. Reagin and his squads on board 1 in trouble.

Meanwhile, far to the left, the NVA trade a squad to get a better position on the South Vietnamese on board 9.  Advancing through the heavy jungle using assault movement, they get close enough to make Sgt.Dunk nervous and he pulls a squad back with him towards board 5, hoping to coordinate movement and fire with the Marines to the south.  A nearby 75mm recoilless rifle spoils these plans, however, as it fires at the moving squad in the nearby trees.  A "2" is rolled to hit and the damage rolls shake both Dunk and his squad.  The NVA follow this up with a devastating melee from an NVA leader and two squads who eliminate the South Vietnamese leader and his men.

Lt. Khai eliminates Sgt. Dunk on board 9.


Much of the second turn is spent with the NVA slowly moving forces south to hit at Lt. Ho and his men but the NVA lose another squad to a South Vietnamese assault.

Beginning of turn 2

The Marines offer some assistance against NVA force 2 by driving up an Amtrac adjacent to an NVA leader and squad.  The .30 cal machinegun fire shakes the NVA leader and his men.  Things seem to be going reasonably well on the American/South Vietnamese left flank.

Marines on the left flank start moving up to help out the South Vietnamese vs. the NVA

Having said that, however, the right Marine flank is in jeopardy.  Peters sends a Marine hero off to melee an adjacent NVA squad after shaking it up but the NVA take this opportunity to advance a platoon of men straight towards the Marine flank, seriously jeopardizing the Americans on board 2.  Now they are practically surrounded!  To add insult to injury, the NVA manage to shake up an Amtrac providing cover for the Marines.  Things look very shaky right now for the USMC right flank.

Marines in serious trouble as NVA force 2 maneuvers around their right flank.
Turns 3 & 4:

The Americans need to work hard to save their flank here but that will mean easing the pressure from other areas of the board first.  The South Vietnamese on board 9 begin turn 3 by eliminating the NVA's 75mm recoilless rifle in melee.  The NVA respond by pushing their squads at the fragile American right flank.  A 2-5-4 NVA squad with an RPD easily eliminates the hero adjacent to Lt. Reagin's position.

The Americans try to preserve their infantry by sending the Amtracs around to sow chaos.  One of them cuts over to the right and hits at Lt. Thien and his squads poised behind the Marine flank.  The NVA start sending more men down south from board 1 to board 2 and their grip is tightening around Reagin's precarious position.  The US responds by sending over another Amtrac from the left flank to prevent further envelopment.  However, the NVA simply take this opportunity to fire at and shake yet another Amtrac (now there are two shaken Amtracs on the board).  This isn't turning out well at all.

NVA close in on the American right flank.  The US tries to hold on by using Amtracs but they get shaken.

Things do turn around a bit as the Americans score some minor success in the center of the board.  Capt. Peters and his men manage to advance into the jungle and eliminate an NVA squad.  Now they hold a spearhead position with a small force that can be used to threaten the NVA on either board 1 or 2.

Capt. Peters and his men advance on the left flank against the NVA on board 9.
It's pure chaos as the Marines advance on the left and just barely hold on to the right.  If Reagin and his squads go down, the left flank will be surrounded and collapse with it.

By turn 4, things start to slowly come back the Americans' way.  They manage to make their rally rolls (except for one of the Amtracs) and Reagin directs his squads to shake and then melee an adjacent NVA squad.  Lt. Ho makes his rally roll and heads back north into the fight on board 9 and a single 2-4-4 ARVN squad fends off an entire platoon of NVA moving up adjacent and assault moving on them.  The ARVN defense is helped out by accurate fire from the 106mm howitzer mounted on one of the Amtracs.

Lt. Ho's ARVN forces and the US Marines keep up the fire on the left flank.


The NVA also get their licks in.  Lt. Thien fires on and shakes up an adjacent Amtrac while one NVA squad goes for broke and attempts to melee Reagin's hex, which only has a single half-squad and an M-60 in it.  The melee is undecided as both sides miss their elimination rolls.  Captain Peters, seeing that the situation on the left flank seems to be under control for now, rushes towards the right flank to help bolster the Marines' numbers.


Right flank:  The NVA shake up an Amtrac and send in a 2-5-4 squad to melee Lt. Reagin and his men in hex N5.


The game still has 9 more turns left in it so things are far from decided at this point.  I'll hopefully be posting part 2 in the next few days so tune in!

Update:  Part 2 is here!