Monday, 29 April 2019

Fate of a Nation: Mitla Pass to Chinese Farm


On Sunday the Wollongong Wargamers had a Fate of A Nation 1973 Yom Kippur themed MegaGame day. Instead of our usual single big game though, I designed two scenarios, each would play for 7 moves or 2 hours, with a short break for luncheon. I sent out briefing materials to the players in good time, and we had a small rehearsal at Thursday evening's regular session. Excerpts from the player briefing pack below:




 

 

The players were split into 2 teams. Vic, Colin and Peter (L-R, # 1, 4 & 5) were team 1, Egypt/UAR for the first game, then Israeli for the second game. Bryan and John (L-R # 2 &3) were Israeli for the first game then Egypt UAR for the second.


For the first game the Egyptian forces of 164 points built around a T-54 Tank Bn and  BTR 60 Mech Inf Bn, including a T-62 Tank company, 



had to venture out from the comfort of the Soviet SA-2 AD umbrella and seize the Mitla Pass, hopefully inviting a fluid tank battle...



Their PT-76 Scout Plt game them a great head start with a bold spearhead move, and then just kept going - they looked set to seize the passes all on their own, Israeli .50 Cal mg rounds bouncing of their hulls all the way!


Eventually a reserve Israeli M-51 Isherman platoon had to be diverted to stop their antics - a great opener for the United Arab Republic!



More generally the Egyptians split their forces, each going for one of the objectives, Vic's T54-s going in from the left on this photo above, Peter's Mech Infantry and T-62s going in on the right, supported by massed Sagger fire up the middle from the shelter of the settlement and oasis...


Heavy MRL fire keeping the Israeli Mechanised infantry pinned down all the while leaving the Sagger teams unmolested. The IDF seemed to be concentrating their meagre on-table forces and slowly arriving reserves against Vic's T-54s...the elderly Shermans had great firepower, but their armour was paper thin - we didn't even bother rolling armour saves!


However, as they were gradually reinforced by the reservists...


The combined Ishermans and Magach 2s began to whittle down the horde...



The main Israeli artillery contribution to the defence was the original rather astute placing of the pre-game ranging markers, the avoision of which which had slowed down the Egyptian approach march...


So that instead of a neat pincer movement joining up on the objectives in good time, before the Egyptian attack ran out of their 7 moves to capture the objective...


...the approach of the Mech Inf and T-62s was delayed, allowing the IDF to gang up all their reinforcements against Vic's T-54s on the Egyptian left flank...


With predictable results. And now well and truly out from the air defence umbrella, the IDF airforce was doing its best to disrupt the right flanks advance to the objective as well!


Despite Vic's gallant efforts, his initial constraints in speeding down the open flank caused by fear of Israeli artillery meant that his handful of surviving T-54s would not be able to contest the objective in time - close, but not close enough!



The second game was based around the Israel race back to the Suez Canal to get across into Egypt proper before the cease-fire took hold, concentrating on the fighting around the Japanese agricultural research station that has gone down in history as the 'Chinese Farm', and the nearby bridging yard. 


The fighting here was tough, and with only seven moves to seize bitterly defended objectives, I confess my camera was neglected once action was joined!

Looking from the banks of the Suez back into the Sinai from which the Israeli attack will come
The Israeli view from the Sinai

The Egyptian defenders planned their deployment and strategy very carefully, playing to their strengths of Sagger ATGWs and doughty infantry, knowing also that in this version of the Fighting Withdrawal scenario their armoured units would soon be withdrawn back across the Canal...


As cunningly as the Israeli's used their Armour and Artillery....


...there was just no suppressing the massed Sagger fire of the hidden Egyptian infantry! 



So once again a determined offensive was stalled by an equally hard fought defence.


A good days gaming in great company, but if we revisit these scenarios I will have to rebalance them if we are to determine The Fate of a Nation!

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Black Powder - Dresden 1813


On Sunday, as consolation for having to postpone our Wagram mega-game yet again, we got together at the Hall of Heroes to refight the second day of Dresden, 1813.



I was allocated the Prussians, 3 doughty brigades representing Lt-Gen Friedrich-Heinrich von Kleist's II (Prussian) Corps of the Army of the Reserve.




My Prussians would come on in the corner of the table, opposite the Royal Gardens, actually, half way inside them, as the rest of the gang had fought the first day of the battle on Saturday and had done quite well...could I now keep my end up?


Although I was familiar with the history of the battle, I suspended disbelief - the French were on the defensive, right? 


I deployed quite aggressively, but was wary of the position batteries in the redoubts - I exploited the Prussian ability to use skirmishers and artillery flexibility to present hard targets...


Philip designed the scenario and umpired the game...


Which clearly required double rations of tea!


My opponent Vic - Marshal Gouvian St-Cyr - lost no time in attacking the Royal Gardens...


And my less protected left flank...



The allied cavalry, deployed well to the rear and hampered by the torrential rain overnight, nevertheless made it up in time to cover my exposed flank.


This allowed me to concentrate my artillery, vapourising at least one unit of Young Guards into red mist...however there were a hell of a lot of Guards pouring out of Dresden like wasps from a disturbed nest!


Speaking of artillery, the French had plenty of field artillery as well as the position batteries - however they were a little careless with it - Philip had decreed that any off road movement risked getting lost in the morass if 2 successive 'bog checks' were failed. Marshal St Cyr duly lost 3 batteries in this way! Probably out of character, after all they named the French Military Academy after him!


However the pressure on the Royal Gardens was relentless, and I had to resort to supporting the skirmishers and lines with columns, taking severe casualties...


Fortunately the Russians, as well as securing my right flank from the start, were now appearing on my left as well - things were on the up!


Threatened by Guard Cossacks, a unit of Young Guards had the embarrasment of having their square broken by mere Landwehr - well done lads!


However, just as we ''ians'' - Austrians, Prussians and Russians - were starting to relax, the French Old Guard showed up...


The French players were going all out to attack - so much for the 'defence' of Dresden!


The Old Guard promptly cleared my artillery off the battlefield without so much as breaking step...


However - Prussian all-arms combined tactics saved the day - multiple cavalry charges from supporting cavalry stabilised the situation. Elsewhere on the battlefield the Allied team had managed to contain the onslaught of the Guard, and Philip judged the game to have been a minor Allied victory. Huzza!

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Team Yankee - Showdown at Schellerten


In the early hours of Wednesday 7th August 1985, the Third World War was approaching its third dawn, but already the night had been torn apart by the violence of full spectrum, high intensity armoured combat...



but the full fury of the storm's epicentre in the NATO Northern Army Group (NORTHAG) AOR was to be the now infamous town of Shellerten…



In the predawn darkness a company sized Air Assault detachment of Afghantsi Desantniki 



had landed at the nearby village of Heinde and seized the strategic bridge over the Lehrbach river.




Simultaneously, the NVA Motor-Schutzen of the 11th Motorisiertes Schutzen Divisionen launched a daring night attack to brush aside the NATO covering force and seize two bridges over the Mittleland Kanal.



Their success would then be exploited by Soviet Motor Rifles...


and Tank formations. The plan, dreamed up by cunning Soviet General Staff strategist Colonel-General Bryanovitch Brianski was to combine elements of the Covering Force, Defence of Schellerten and Hell's Highway scenarios into one single war winning mega game...but was it - you know how this goes:

A Bridge Too Far?


At all events, the highly skilled yet horde like Motor-Schutzen of the National Volks Armee led the whole ambitious undertaking off to a flying start...


By dint of skilfull infiltration and spearhead tactics the wily Ossies were able to sneak very close to the vital Mitteland Kanal bridges 


before being detected by the lightweight US Cav covering force...


Resistance was fierce...


but soon became futile as the Warsaw Pact emphasis on amphibiosity and fast river crossings paid off... 


and the objectives were soon outflanked then seized!


As dawn started to lighten the western sky the Soviet Motor Rifle and Tank Columns passed through the jubilant Ossies - it was now their turn to shoulder the burden of liberation...Western onlookers were shocked at the speed and ferocity of the Warsaw Pact onslaught..


But could it maintain its momentum in the face of heavy opposition?



Initially both the Tank and Motor Rifle columns made good progress on the open road network, with the glimmering light of dawn hampering some NATO long range missile fire...



But with the Soviet main effort soon identified, opposition of a more traditional kind revealed itself in masterfully sprung ambushes...


With dawn in its full glory revealing the cost of high intensity operations without due regard to flank security...


Opposition was particularly stiff in the village of Schellerton, with doughty British infantry rising to its ages old traditions of tenacious defence...


The traditional Soviet remedy was applied in increasingly desperate quantities...



But with negligible results...



Firepower of a more direct kind was marshalled around the unfortunate village...


Meanwhile the armoured columns were held up, still very far from the increasingly desperate Desantniki in far off Heinde…


Finally, the ruined village's stout defenders were finally deemed sufficiently pinned down to make an assault worthwhile...



Schellerten had been liberated from the imperialist yoke, but at what cost?


The armoured thrust had ground to a halt, well short of Heinde, leaving the gallant Desantniki survivors, abandoned and out of ammo, no choice but an honourable surrender...

My thanks to Bryan Sallans for all the hard work of organisation and for his daring Afghantsy coup de main, my fellow Warsaw Pact commander Trevor, and the gallant NATO commanders Stephen, Colin and Marc for a great and memorable game!