Thursday, June 21, 2018

Prairiecon 2018 - Battle of Blickheim, a "Team Yankee" Game

Ouch! Tough outing for the Royal Canadian Dragoons at Prairiecon...victory came at a price
So another "Prairiecon" has come and gone! This is Western Manitoba's main gaming event, held every summer in Brandon, Manitoba.  Conscript Dallas has been involved with Prairiecon for...longer than I can recall, so I will leave origin content to him, but as a group a few of us have been going to Prairiecon every year for...wow, something like 19 or 20 years, with Dallas even more? It's a real tradition, one I look forward to every year.

This year I am pleased to share reports of a heavy Conscript presence at the event, with three different demonstration games.  Dallas ran a fleet-scale "Battlestar Galatica" game.  Byron ran an exciting "Through The Mud And The Blood" WW1 game.  Our great friend Curt came out from Regina to host a special game of "Spectre".  And if that wasn't enough, we also ran a game of "Team Yankee".  That's a LOT of gaming!

The table at the outset of the game...the peace of the village of Blickheim will soon be shattered...
For today I'll touch on the "Team Yankee" game that was played on the Sunday morning at Prairiecon. The game was an opportunity to put the new Canadian units I had been working through the winter into play on the table.  The timing was fortuitous given that Battlefront has recently "released" its new Team Yankee book, "Free Nations".

Soviet elements prepare to move out on the assault
The scenario is we played was derived from the battle reported in the (fictional) book "First Clash" by Kenneth Macksey, which features the 4th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group in action against a Soviet ground assault set in a fiction Cold-War-Gone-Hot in the 1980s.  In Macksey's story, a moment in the battle arrives when the Canadian line starts to buckle, and the Canadian commander unleashes his reserve armoured Squadron, catching the Soviets by surprise, and blocking their breakthrough.

Soviet advance elements approach the McPizza king...they would soon learn the blue "objective marker" was, in fact, a NATO pre-registered artillery target!
Since the theme for Prairiecon 2018 was "It's a trap!", I set up the scenario with some mild deception.  The Soviet players, controlling a T-72 battalion with some attached infantry and AAA support, were told they needed to clear the village of Blickheim (home, naturally, to a critical 'McPizza King' location) of a lingering Canadian rear-guard, that the NATO forces were in retreat.  They would have eight turns to accomplish this.

The Canadians appear! Leopards and M150s move into firing positions
The Canadians, on the other hand, learned they had the opportunity to arrive from a totally unexpected table edge at a turn of their choosing - they have been working themselves into position through the late hours of the evening and into the morning, with the Soviet forces unaware their flank was vulnerable. This was a great advantage - which the Canadians would need, as the Leopard C1 tanks do not dominate the tabletop the way other modern NATO MBTs would in games of "Team Yankee".
Soviet armour burning after the ambush...
The game was well-attended, with several guests and observers participating.  Dallas led the Canadian side, with help from Byron and Curt, while Dave V led the Soviet side, with support from a few convention-goers.

Leopards try to move out...the obstacles ended up being tough to overcome, due to some bad luck with the dice...and you can see the Soviet's put an artillery aiming point on one of the bogged-down tanks, causing Canadian frustration and knocking out a couple of Leopards
The Soviet column rolled up aggressively, and uncertain of the location of targets, started to hit the town with heavy fire.  On the third turn, however, the Canadians emerged on their flank, and opened fire. A pair of US Cobra helos came along in turn four to add to the carnage.  Under Curt's careful guidance, they picked off several T-72s with TOW missiles before the ZSUs finally got to them.

Many Soviet tanks and BMPs were lost, but critical morale roles kept the large Soviet tank company in play to the bitter end.  The remaining T-72s dished out heavy return fire, knocking out many Leopard C1s.  The Soviet infantry also struck hard, neutralizing a bold flank maneuver by a Leopard C1 troop with their RPGs.  As the number of losses on the Canadian side mounted, it was in doubt for NATO...

Soviet infantry prepare their AT weapons...
But in turn eight, the Soviet side finally broke...a real nail-biter, and a pyrrhic victory as the Canadians were reduced to a mechanized infantry platoon (which was a little low on the 'mechanized' part due to losses in the fighting), a pair of Lynx recon vehicles, and a pair of surviving Leopard C1s, all that remained of the 12 tanks which started the ambush...

A Canadian Leopard C1 troop shows the impact of losses from infantry AT weapons...
A big "thank you" to everyone who came out to play, particularly to our great friend Curt, who made the trip from Regina.  Work has been very, very busy over the past month and a half (and as you can see, the blog posting and painting progress has been very sparse) and it was SO great to dive into a bunch of gaming and see so many friends once again.

6 comments:

Moiterei_1984 said...

Looks like a great game Greg and it’s especially great to see your wonderful Canadians put to good use.

tim said...

Wow! Looks like a fantastic game!

Codsticker said...

Looks like a fun game; great pictures and well narrated.

MFraser said...

Game looks awesome! Wish people would start taking the law into their own hands so I didn’t have to miss prairiecon this year.

JamieM said...

What a brilliant looking game!

Curt C said...

Thanks for a terrific game, Greg! As you say, it was a nailbiter right to the end. I always enjoy playing air support in these games as it requires very little thought and can result in spectacular results (both good and bad). A great time!