No fancy maps or anything here - just a description of what lead to this particular encounter. It is several weeks into WW3 (a conventional conflict) and WARPAC forces in Southern West Germany have breached the NATO lines, with a Forward Detachment punching through the gap into NATO's rear areas. The Forward Detachment has been advancing up a large valley with several exit points and has split off several smaller combat reconnaissance patrols to conduct a reconnaissance by fire to seize the exit points and exploit beyond them. The main body of the Forward Detachment will then redirect through the best exit point.
NATO is scrambling to deal with this. This area is the responsibility of the II German Corps and part of their strategic reserve is the 25 Fallschirmjager Brigade. Elements of the brigade have been immediately dispatched by helicopter to block the exit points and delay the Soviets.
We used the Delaying Action scenario from Battlegroup: Fall of the Reich as the basis for our game with some variation. The game length as 10 turns (rather than 9), the Soviets forced a BR chit on the West Germans for every unit that departed the board through the NATO table edge (rather than 1 BR chit per 3 units). The Fallschirmjager had no defences (as we reasoned that they had only just managed to arrive themselves before the Soviets did, so had not dug any defences or had a chance to lay mines etc) and we changed the way the West German reserves arrived so as the game progressed they recieved a greater chance of having some reserves turning up.
Just to mix things up I also added in a random card element for each side which could generate some additional forces (or might not) as the game progressed. Basically this lead each side to get an attack helicopter at some point in the game. I'm not sure I would bother with this again - but it was fun to try.
1 x BRDM-2U Artillery Command Post
1 x BMP-1P Motor Rifle Platoon w/SVD Marksman and SA-7
1 x T-72A Platoon
2 x 120mm Heavy Mortars with GAZ-66 tows (1 Battery)
2 x BRDM-2
1 x ZSU-23-4
1 x Time MiG-23 Air Strike
1 x FJ Forward HQ
1 x FJ Forward Air Controller (w/Ilitis Jeep)
1 x FJ Platoon with:
- Extra Milan 2 Team w/KraKa
- MANPADS Redeye Team
- Rh202 AAA w/KraKa
- KraKa Resupply
1 x Off Table Heavy Mortar Battery
1 x Sniper & Spotter
1 x FJ Light Recon Patrol (w/Ilitis Jeep)
1 x Milan Team w/KraKa
1 x Improved TOW Team w/KraKa
1 x KraKa Resupply
1 x Timed PAH-1
1 x Timed Alpha Jet Air strike
As you can see the Fallschirmjager got lots of little stuff, while the Soviets got a few BIG things - an interesting game balance. This was my first test of the FJ list and perhaps it needs some tinkering - but when my mate saw what I was fielding as the FJ Player his comment was - "I'm glad I'm playing Soviets!"
I also tried something a little bit different on the table as well. I've always been a put down a mat and plonk hills on it kind of guy, but I needed a decent ridge to run from one side of the table to the other, and nothing I had fitted that bill so I decided to go with the put some "forms" down on the table and place the mat over it style of table development. I think it worked and I'll be doing it again.
This is the table from the Soviet end. It is meant to look rather rural, with few modern structures and a good road network. Heavily forested along each edge of the valley. Hopefully you can see the ridge line off in the distance:
There is also a small ridge in the foreground marked by trees.
Now from the Fallschirmjager's end:
And the FJ ridge:
The two barns and the little hill in fron of them (3 trees) helped make things difficult for the FJ in terms of set up. Do I deploy forward to that hill and into the houses, or make my defensive line along the ridge.
I mixed it up and deployed some recce near the hill, a squad plus the sniper in the rearmost barn and everything else I started with in the tree line along the ridge.
The Soviet recce forces deployed
And the most forward BRDM-2 was immediately pounced on by the recce light patrol:
I was fortunate and got a PAH-1 randomly fairly early on in the game:
It managed to stick around for the whole game, performing numerous pop-up attacks from behind the two barns. It was later joined by a second PAH-1 which sat on the other flank and between them they really made their name as a force multiplier. The un-photographed PAH-1 was eventually driven off by the Soviet ZSU-23-4, and was avenged by the helo shown in the photo who bounded forward and slotted the ZSU-23-4 with a HOT-1. In all I think the PAH-1s accounted for a couple of the tanks, at least 1 BMP-1 and the ZSU.
The whole Soviet force was on the table by their 3rd turn and moved pretty quickly up the table.
With one BMP-1 creeping through the woods for the majority of the game:
Turn 4 saw the biggest set-back for the Fallschirmjager. I had just got some reinforcements on and chose to get my Forward HQ on rather than my single SAM team. And then this appeared:
I had my Rh-202 AAA KraKa on overwatch, but the quick jet gave me almost no chance of success and he pressed on with his attack. The MiG driver did have a momentarily thought of having a crack at shooting down the PAH-1 or bombing his assigned target - the centre of the ridge. Wisely he chose the ridge and dropped 2 medium cluster bombs on my not-dug-in troops.
He managed to wipe out my FAC Team, and their Iltis Jeep, the Platoon Command of my parachute infantry platoon and a few members of a nearby squad. A massive hole had been punched in my defensive line and I was stunned - and scrambling. Quite a cinematic moment.
The next turn I was hoping to dish out some revenge when my Alpha Jet showed up and attempted to strafe the ZSU which had just moved and was not set up to take a shot at the jet:
But it was not to be and all my Alpha Jet managed to do was pin the ZSU.
The Soviets continued to advance and I continued to whittle them down with long range ATGM fire:
I tried to repeat my light recon team PzF 44 ambush, but the only managed to pin the second BRDM-2, who then passed his morale test with a "6", passed his beyond the call of duty test and obliterated my recon team with a hail of 14.5mm HMG fire. Ouch!
In a couple of turns or actually managing to hit something, I was able to put a dent in the Soviet advance with multiple missile hits.
And then this baby turned up:
I swear my opponent was suffering from target fixation - he was pretty tired of the PAH-1 that was slotting BMPs and tanks left, right and centre (his model btw!) so rather than swat some more FJ with rockets he decided to attack the PAH-1 with his rotary canon, and missed... He claimed it was not fixation - it was the biggest threat and he was trying to take it out. Fair enough too.
Then he rolled to see if the Hind would stick around, but it must have recieved a more criticl mission elsewhere and flew off the table.
Amusingly then next time the Soviets drew a chit it was the Breakdown chit. We decided it could be played on a helicopter (never considered it before but it makes sense - to me) and so of course it was played on the irritating PAH-1. He rolled a "1" which meant the engine made a funny sound and then puttered along as it nothing had happened. So it was still there!
At the end of my next turn (end of turn 7) the Soviets had 1 functioning tank, plus a BRDM-2 on the board and we decided to call it there. Whilst there was little chance of them taking out the rest of the FJ in 3 more turns (compared to the FJ finally taking out the tank and the armoured car and dealing with some pinned infantry) we counted BR and we both had only 9 points each - so the game was very close - too close to call.
Hopefully this meant that the points between the forces were quite balanced. I certainly lucked out with the two helos and without them I would more likely be eating borscht soup in a POW compound!
So pretty happy with the game. Involved 3 helos, 2 planes, on-table and off table artillery (mortars), tanks, MICVs, infantry with LAWs and ATGMs and of course KraKas! Can't go wrong with KraKas!!! We also proved (to some degree anyway) that infantry armed with missiles and supported by missile armed helicopters can take on and either defeat, or at least give a bloody nose to, an armoured force.
So a good playtest game - sorry for the delay in getting it to you.