Monday, 22 August 2016

Team Yankee Competition

This weekend the Hall of Heroes was the venue for a Team Yankee Tournament, organised by Lachlan.

That 'Oh S*!T' moment!
Now as a general rule I steer clear of Tournaments, thinking that they can attract hard nosed 'win at all costs' types, and that any battle that has both sides meeting on equal terms means that one commander or other has blundered!

In fact this is the first tournament I have entered in my own right, rather than just standing in for a mate for the odd game. 

However on both counts this excellent tournament proved me wrong. The standard of sportsmanship was all that you could wish for, with my 3 opponents courteous and knowledgeable, and more interested in developing their knowledge of the Team Yankee rules whilst playing a challenging game, rather than winning at all costs. And the general ambience of the event suggested that attitude was universal. To my surprise the TO told me I was unanimously voted for as ‘best sport’, well in that company that was a real honour!

'Oi Dave! Where's the objective?'

My second reservation about tournaments, that battles rarely occur historically as fair fights between equal points armies; is to a great extent addressed by the imaginative Team Yankee scenarios. Both the ones in the rule book and those then developed in the free online supplement. With a clear sense of specific mission, they present equal but challenging situations that do seem to mirror my understanding of real life tactical challenges. And a confirming second opinion comes from Ken, a 25 year veteran of the Royal Australian Regiment!

M1s of the Aussie 1st Armoured Regt, backed up M109s of the USMC - yes we know they had Leos in 1985!

Rob, who had come a fair distance north from Canberra to take part, was my first opponent in the Dust-Up scenario, which we played across a reasonably ‘busy’ table, terrain wise, reflecting a rural but moderately wooded and hedged terrain with lots of crop fields and a few scattered farms.

The first thing I want to say is what a pleasure it was playing against Rob’ beautifully painted army.

I voted for this as the best painted army - US Autumn MERDC lovingly executed and shaded!


We diced off for attacker, which was me, to my relief as I had played as attacker in all my practice games.

Fielding a Soviet Tank force, I started off with my usual tactic of trying to get as close to the enemy as quickly as possible whilst getting on top of the objective fast – my experience with a Soviet Tank army is that the law of diminishing returns applies with a vengeance – if you don’t seize the objective in the first couple of turns, you aren’t going to!

However, in the face of 9 M1s, I moderated that policy slightly by using the cover of the cropfields where possible.

At first this seemed to pay off as my T-72s knocked out 2 of his M1s and the rest of that platoon decided to break off!

Unfortunately Rob then did the same to me, with interest...

so by move 4 it was game over as I had no platoons left in good spirits! Played 1, Lost 1!

My second game was Breakthrough, playing against Ken, also from Canberra, this time playing his Soviet tank force – Blue on Blue! Or is that Orange on Orange? Ken’s army was also a treat for the eye, and I will be unashamedly copying some of his techniques and cam schemes in future!

This time the attacker was nominated, and again it was me. But I had never played against a WarPact force before – was attacking wise? Interestingly, they say designers give a tank a gun that will overcome its own armour, and that certainly holds true for the T-72 – Front armour 16, Anti-Tank 22 – so no saves against other T-72s – and only bailing out on a roll of a 6…Ouch! 

Since like me Ken chose not to take any Aviation or Fast Air, I left my Gopher Platoon Out of Battle, and left a Tank Platoon in reserve – with hindsight a mistake as the reserves come on close to the rear of one of the objectives.

Ken's T-72s - Modulated paint techniques can make the most plain AFV interesting...

Gonna be copying this scheme!

In fact I think my doubts about how to handle a WarPact-WarPact situation were reflected in my game play from the get-go, as I faffed around for 4 moves trying to move a group of mech inf about 18 inches to clear the opposing infantry away from the closest objective.

Where's the MPs when you need 'em?

The ‘Follow Me’ movement order failed to reduce the difficulties of hedge and stone wall crossing to get there, once within 4 inches of the objective my BMPs and Infantry then got in each other’s way in the constricted lanes of the village!

By the time the chaos in the forming up area  had been sorted out Ken had destroyed all of my other platoons without losing any of his – a complete whitewash! Played 2, Lost 2!

Major Potecknov could feel the political officer's eyes on him after yet another defeat...

My last game was No Retreat, and this time I was defending – a first for me, and probably not suited for a Soviet Tank Army! This scenario requires half of your platoons to go into reserve, and by the time I nominated another of my 7 platoons to sit in ambush, I was only placing Gophers and Mech Infantry on the table! My gallant opponent, Daniel, was actually playing with a US Armoured Battlegroup he had loaned from me, so I had the advantage of knowing his force’s strengths and limitations!

The table was an interesting set-up, a large swath of ruined cityscape at my end of the table, but intersected with cleared roads to allow some movement. The table as a whole had plenty of hills, and was intersected with a couple of rivers, so was not easy to negotiate. And with 4 minefields to place, I was not shy in thoroughly blocking all available road intersections!

One of Bryan's excellent minefield markers - available from the Hall of Heroes or THoR wargames scenery

Daniel astutely placed his Cobras out of range of my Gopher SAMs, which I had placed behind the only tall cover on my half of the table, right in the corner, and his opening salvoes of ITOW missiles and 105mm M1 rounds decimated my BMP platoon.

I was not off to a good start. However I sprang my T-72 ambush right in front of his other M1 platoon from behind the cover of a convenient ridge, and was able to pick them off steadily – that approach to the objective was safe for the time being. Moving my Gophers out from cover to close his Cobras, I forgot that Cobras could range the table at will – that cost me that platoon…

Daniel in an earlier game, at a table I' didn't play at, thankfully - Brrrr!

However the dice gods had clearly decided that I would win at least one game this day and I passed every single one of my immediate reserve dice rolls, so the other M1 platoon was soon facing an unequal firefight with 2 large T-72 platoons, US Cobras kept at bay by the accompanying Shilkas. After they’d had enough it was just a case of slowly but steadily grinding his infantry platoon so that I won by virtue of the enemy having no tank or infantry platoons in my table half by move 7. A hard fought game!
We then held the prize draw, based on raffle tickets awarded for a number of criteria; one for each win, best painted army, best sport, and so on. Bryan’s Aussie list got the best painted army, and that was an achievement since all the painted armies were pretty good! He also lent Lachlan his interesting Indonesian Marine Landing force army - quite the most interesting army of the day!

Rob got the prize for number of wins – having won all three of his games. Respect!

The Indonesian Marines head for the Pub with No Beer...

A great day’s gaming, challenging but spent in the best of company – thanks to Lachlan and the Hall of Heroes for running it, and kudos to Bryan for providing so much help with spare armies and terrain. I hope we do the same again next year! I’m looking forward to catching up with the lads at the MOAB Convention in early October! 

Of course not all the armies were fully painted -
I was surprised the West Germans had time to put their kits together, let alone undercoat them!

Monday, 1 August 2016

Team Yankee - Free for All Scenario

Continuing with my pre-competition practice games, this weekend I set up the Team Yankee 'Free for All' scenario. With both sides starting off with all platoons on table, I was anticipating that this would be suited to my rather imbalanced Tank Heavy Soviet force - it can be vulnerable to air if the AA platoons don't come on in the first 3 moves...

I duly laid out and marked up a 6x4 table, once again placing more terrain pieces than I would normally, but anticipating the worst in a competition environment...

There were however some clear channels of advance left open - surely if they want games completed in 2 hours the organisers have to leave some space clear? My general theme remained Southern Germany, (despite my current fixation with Leopard and northern Germany!) so the table was edged with high ground and there were lots of pine woods.

I went into some detail of my streamlined Soviet Tank force in my last blog, so this time I'll go into a little detail about the US opfor - I've deliberately gone for as balanced a force as I can muster in the opposition, again trying to cover all competition eventualities!

So the 2 small platoons of M1s were supported by a platoon of Mech Inf with additional Dragon team...

A battery of 3 x M109 155mm howitzers (This eye candy's for you Baz!)[Ex RHA horse gunner)..

A small platoon of 2 x ITVs:

A section of Vulcan SPAA - although I wasn't taking any Air, Fast or Rotary, so these boys probably wouldn't even have to clean their guns... 

Fast Air - 2 x A10 Warthogs...

And a flight of 2 Cobras:

In the Free for All scenario the sides alternate in deploying platoons, the attacker leading, so I lead with my trusty Scout platoon allowing a fair sized forward bubble into no-man's-land with the Spearhead rule...Remembering lessons learnt from the last game all 3 tank platoons were crammed in opposite to the central objective...

With my own side's offside objective only held by a small platoon of Motor Rifles, with their Gremlin detachment...

denuded of their BMPs, which formed a BroneGruppa Zulu muster on the other side of the table, basically as missile carriers:

The anti air envelope was extended mid table by the 2 Gophers. The Shilkas would stay up front with the armour.

Given my obvious concentration against just one objective, and with no ambush on offer, the US opfor also placed all their eggs in one basket - these wouldn't be good woods to be wandering around in as leg infantry at night!

So this is the table at game start - nothing subtle about the Soviet deployment!

And having the first move, the dice gods continued to smile - 2 M1s knocked out in the opening volley from 6 T-72s! I needn't expect that to happen in the comp! But perhaps indicating the merits of concentration...

Off to the flank, yet another M1 was knocked out by a volley from the third, smallest T-72 platoon - absolutely unheard of and amazing luck - These dice are coming to the comp!

However the opfor successfully called in an airstrike with their first die roll! And it was nothing if not a target rich environment. A salvo of 4 SA-13s erupting from the woods had no effect whatsoever, neither did the rattle of cannon fire from the ZSU's...

But the A-10's Maverick missiles sure were in working order - consider those M1s avenged!

Actually the surviving M1s were doing pretty well on their own account!

And with the redlegs laying down a FASCAM minefield right on the Autobahn, suddenly the mass concentration of armour didn't seem so clever after all - its no good being on the objective if your steed is a twisted mass of molten metal!

However the next desperate soviet move saw the Scout platoon, who thought they had done their job for the day, given orders to lead the surviving couple of T-72s onto the objective...

However, despite their earlier losses, these were picked off by the Abrams with flank shots - and with just 2 tanks left, I decided the game had ended its training value, basically a US win as they could have strolled over to take their pick of objectives! However, I got a lot closer to the objective than last time, so I'm beginning to think I'm starting to craft an effective formula - use the spearhead rule and max revs to get their hard and fast, in force, and just swamp one objective!