Friday, January 9, 2009

Battle Report - Back To The Drawing Board for "Black Eagle"

Possible Photo of Russian "Black Eagle" Tank In Action Last Night

Executive summary
Brtis - well done lads, particularly the rock hard paras!
Poles - was there a battle?
French - that was close! Maybe Sarko will give us autographed copies of Carla's latest album...
Germans - I told you it was a mistake to come to Poland!
Belarus - friendly fire IS very dangerous.
Russians - I sure hope there are more BMP-3s back at the depot...
Detailed Summary
Last night Dallas hosted a game of "Cold War Commander" in 6mm scale. The scenario was another battle from our continuing (fictionial) invasion of Poland by Russia and Belarus. It was set-up on a 6'4" table, and the battle was a classic "seize the objective" scenario. There were three objectives - a crossroads in the middle of the table, near a 50% destroyed town, and two hills at either end of the table. A multi-national force, anchored by British paras, tanks and infantry, was going up against the very best the Russians could offer, supported by some less-glamorous Belorussian units.
Mike F and Mike B, Bill and Dallas all took part on the NATO side. The Brit Paras, Poles and French would start on the table, with the rest of the Brits and the Germans coming in as the cavalry.
Reassured that the British tankers would probably do better than they did at Arnhem in 44', Bill took control of the Paras, digging them into the town in the center of the table where they could contest the cross roadsl. Mike B controlled a contingent of Polish mechanized infantry and French Leclerc tanks. The Leclercs set up in the centre as well, and the Allies were ready.
For the Russian side, Dave V took command of the Belarus "classic" contigent (T-72s, BTR-70s), Cam took the bulk of the forces including two battalions of BMP-3 Motor Rifles and a battalion of T-90 tanks. I rolled with the "special group" of "Black Eagle" tanks, sent to the front for experimental purposes, and I bodged some rules to reflect the likelyhood they might break down etc. They were "special" all right...
On the first turn, the Russian side siezed a vacant objective one side of the table, lined up to pound on the paras, and were so emboldened by some successful command rolls that we even reached for the third objective. This looked great until the NATO turn, when pratically their entire brigade appeared almost on top of Cam T-90s which had been racing for the hill.
In the second turn, the BMP-3s started to hammer the town, and Dave V's T-72s engaged the Leclrecs at the crossroads, managing to score a kill thanks to exposed flanks and hot rolling. However, Dave also encountered the first of several damaging command blunders, courtesy of this BTR battalion commander, which cost him a unit of T-72s! Throwing doctrine to the wind, Cam sent his T-90s straight at the NATO brigade on the hill, until they were nearly muzzle to muzzle. The Leopards and Challengers had excellent targets to pick, but they pooched their rolls, and missed their "opporunity" fire.
Cam went on an amazing streak of successful command rolls, and the T-90s fired again, and again, and again, and again! Most of the Leopards were knocked out, as were a few British units. The NATO troops on the hill struggled to get their act together. A Russian artillery strike hammered the British troops, and while it did not cause kills, it slowed them down and pinned many units.
Yet the tide was turning. Despite round after round of 100mm HE, 30mm and small arms fire, the paras were quite stuck in their cover to contest the crossroads, and started to knock out BMP-3s. Two passes courtesy of an Apache, and a strike by the British AS-90 "Braveheart" SP 155mm guns took a heavy toll, as did the moment where the balance of one BMP-3 battalion went muzzle-to-muzzle with Challengers. The results was much smoking wreckage.
The "special" outfit managed to knock out a Leclerc, as did further fire from Dave's Belurussian tankers, but Dave took as many hits from his own side as the French, rolling boxcars on multiple occasions. His BTRs didn't even make it on to the table, as their HQ was too busy trying to find ways to kill his compatriots in the T-72s. That officer was later transfered to a deep-water post in the Baltic Sea...
And the Poles? Well, with all the action, why bother to move? Those NATO guys seemed to be holding alright...
We called the game on the fourth turn. Technically a draw, as Dave V controlled one objective for the Russians, Bill controlled the crossroads for NATO, and the last objective was being contested in a battle-royale by the T-90s. The French and German contigents were past their breakpoints. However, on balance, it looked bad for the Russians, as their flank was exposed to an armoured thrust by the Challengers, and that Apache was surely coming back soon.
From the Russian perspective, our tactics were a bit daft. We should have sent BMP-3s to take the hill, not tanks, as tanks would have been able to endure some of the abuse from the Challengers and Apache, while the BMP-3s could not sustain exposure to the cross-fire from the town and the Challengers. And nothing short of a nuke was going to pry those Paras loose from the town. That's one thing about Cold War Commander - the adrenaline from a string of successful command rolls can take you all sorts of places!
Stay tuned here for photos courtesy of Dallas. Watch for the pics of Mike F's new Brits - they looked awesome, especially the SP artillery pieces, which he converted to be in an actual firing position.
As for the CWC rules themselves, they definitely showed some weakness in the game last night (and have in some other games too). The fact is that they don't play very smooth at the modern end of the time-line - nearly every tank on the table had a save of 3+, took 6 hits, and had 6 shots - or even 8! Buckets and buckets or dice are rolled for little result.
Conceptually, trying to apply the Warmaster command rules to a modern game has some upside in terms of being quick for players to relate to, but the Warmaster engine is not well suited to representing the tactical outcomes of T-90s engaging Challengers and Leopards, or even the T-72s against the Leclercs. And as Dallas pointed out last night, the circumstances of repeated firing are a bit pants - Cam's vegas rolling is to be commended, but it certainly felt a bit odd - surely they would need ammo, or to cool the barrels, or something????
The hunt for some rules is on - and I think I might just develop some myself! I will hope to invoke the spirit of Dallas' awesome Blitzkrieg rules as an example of how home-made stuff can be better than what is out there. Stay tuned for more developments, and experiments, in this space!
Thanks again to everyone who came out to play, and thanks to Dallas for hosting.


Dallas said...

Thanks again Greg for another enjoyable (not to mention awesome-looking) game, and well-done Mike F. on the gorgeous British force.

I ran the Bundeswehr last night... "ran them" into the ground! Three successful command rolls allowed the battlegroup to roll up onto the hill objective, into cover of the woods, behind Cam's T-90 regiment... so I didn't feel too bad when I failed the last command roll to light Cam's tanks up from behind. The next turn Cam's boys about-faced and ran up to the edge of the woods. I took op fire and knocked out one and suppressed another, I think. Still no worries. Cam opened up and suppressed one of my tanks.

Then it was the NATO turn again and time to light those muthas up!! I only needed to make a roll of 9 or less on 2d6. Result... 10. FAIL. So there we sat, twiddling our thumbs and listening to David Hasselhoff on the radio net. (But it just occurred to me, we were within Initiative distance so could have fired anyway, right Greg?) Damn! This is what happens when you play a different ruleset every week ;-)

Cam's turn again and he made four or five Command rolls in a row (and I failed my roll to take op fire, again)... so he just lit up my battlegroup. Ouch. Next time, Cam!!!

Cam said...

Agreed on the game - thanks for running the show Greg.

These rules were way more awesome this time around, but I still find the Warmaster ruleset to be a little bit too swingy. I rolled vegas and wiped out a Leopard battalion or two, but meanwhile Dave V beat the odds and then some to shoot himself repeatedly.

I have to admit to preferring slightly more consistency in orders.

Greg B said...

Holy s**t!! Dallas - you are completely correct - initiative would have allowed to you take one shot (you would still have had to roll for further firing).

It was my mistake, but I choose to blame the rules!!

DaveV said...

Thanks Greg for running a great game! As always, thanks Dallas for hosting.

Congrats also to MikeF for finishing a beautiful looking British battle group.

RE: Rules: Does Future War commander solve any of the problems in this game engine? So many rules sets haven't emphasized the command and control element, but rather emphasizing the particular type of shell being fired - as if a battalion or regimental commander would care. Anyone remember the WRG ultramodern rules?

BTW, the Belarus tankist battalion commander should be awarded the "Hero of the Russian Federation" award for leading his men so ably, despite the steaming pile they were dropped in.

Greg B said...

Dave V - based on last night's action, your command is actually home to a pair of ceremonies - "Hero of the Russian Federation" (includes life-time supply of free Gazprom T-shirts) for the tankist commander, and following the award, the commander of the BTR battalion was hanged for gross dereliction of duty!

Re: Future War Commander, I haven't yet tried it, so I can't say for certain, but I suspect some problems would remain (like the potential for multiple rounds of firing). On the other hand, I think the army lists are as culpalble for issues with Cold War Commander as the rules, and the lists for Future War Commander seem a little more balanced out, so there would be more result obtained with less rolling. Still, I won't know for sure until we try. I want to run a game using the Epic 40k figures.