Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Neil Thomas "W:AI" Modern Tank Fight!

First Battle of 2016!

The Cold War continues to heat up in the blogosphere and here on my blog as my early 80s US troops take on hardcore Soviet Guards in a small dust-up using the Modern Warfare variant (found on the AMW Yahoo Group) of Neil Thomas' excellent World War II Rules from his "Wargaming: An Introduction" book.

The mission for the US troops was to hold this village as part of the Main Line of Resistance (MLR).  The Soviet forces, more of an advanced reconnaissance detachment, were to make contact, bypass through and exit off the board, trying to generally avoid a fight.

Soviet Infantry and armor think they've located the Americans...

3 potential Artillery targets which I rolled for.  The village got the lucky number and was plastered with 122mm SPA.  The team in the building gets nailed and everyone else maintains their saves.

 US Forces in the tree lines radio in that they hear armored vehicles to their front but cannot identify yet.  The Company Commander radios back: THIS IS SIX, ROGER, IVAN'S GOING TO BE SHOOTING THROUGH THIS AREA SOON.  KEEP YOUR EYES PEELED SIX OUT.

Accordingly, an M1 with a 105mm gun zooms past the gasthaus and over to the team's left flank.

The M106 in the town thumps out a quick fire mission that is actually able to KO one of the BMPs advancing and forces Ivan to dismount and proceed on foot!

 I'm not sure if the heavy mortars have a chance at killing a BMP2 but this was not covered in the modern variant to the rules.  I tried it out anyways, allowing an unmodified roll on the armor engagement table on a "6".

The T-80s spot an Abrams emerging from the treeline!
 The gunnery of my M1s was atrocious this game and I think some serious time at the range is required to correct by the way, with only 2 shots the entire game hitting home at all.  To make matters worse, these are the 105mm armed M1s who had a tough time with the Soviet T80s.  Smarter call would have been to break contact and try for a flank shot.

The US tank commander spots T80s advancing at his front!

My MERDC M1s unveiled!  Still dont have their full paint but I really wanted to get a game in with them on the table.

 Meanwhile the Soviets reach the US flank and dismount their infantry to try and push through the woods to their front.  That armor has to get around the town!  Meanwhile, US mortars damage a T80 and get a mobility kill!

Ivan closes the distance with the M1s and continues to trade shots.  

Kill!  Good rolling by the Soviets gets a US M1 knocked out and the US commander starts chewing his nails.
 At this point I also grossly underestimated the ratings for HE fire.  The BMP2 got a whopping 12 HE score and thus 12D6 to fire at teh US infantry in cover.  This pretty much KO'd a fireteam and forced a morale check the next turn.

The Soviet infantry, really only here for mopping up, moved in for the kill afterwards but this game in the modern era is all about managing your platforms and using your infantry wisely - because there's alot out there that will kill them.

US Squad facing off against Ivan.  That BMP would tear this US squad to ribbons.

These brave soldiers would learn the value of cover the hard way...

US mobility kill.  This M1 is now a pillbox!

cool pic from the Soviet side

 Even amidst the screaming for more mortars on the net, the Mortar section chief has to go through his safety procedures.  The tubes are red hot and they can't shoot anymore this round (or..I rolled a "1" on the mortar table and got "0" shots this turn).

Tubes are silent this turn.

Soviet infantry close assault a US fireteam and again due to crappy rolling, KO them.  The US team actually had an excellent chance of hanging in there for the combat but they rolled a "1" and ivan rolled a "6". 

T80s bypass the US positions and race for the rear.  A few errant Dragon shots miss as the Soviet infantry mounts up and prepares for mopping up operations.

The winner / loser concept in the NT book is good for people new to wargaming but probably needs a little refinement when it comes to people wanting to game some more realistic engagements.  I was scratching my head trying to figure out "who won" here and I guess you have to apply the tenets of the mission in order to figure that out.  The Soviet forces were able to bypass with a single tank platoon at 2/3 strength and the US forces did hold the village.  So.... a draw?

By the way, you can read my write up of the World War II rules in an epic World War II fight I had here.

Anyways here are some tactical tips for you if you're inclined to go in, register for this group, and download these modern era rules:

Keep your tanks the hell away from enemy infantry!  A good rule that many rules sets fail to capture.  Neil Thomas' rules allow an enemy infantry unit to close assault a tank with fairly good chances of knocking it out.

ATGW are nasty.  The infantry have missiles now and can reach out to 50cms.  Also the modern variant rates your missiles as a "Super Heavy" gun so on par with a 120mm or 125mm gun.  Not sure I agree with that but I played the rules as-is....for now.

Use your vehicle mounted MGs to attack infantry.  The M113s in this game were able to reach out and kill troops that the small arms had a hard time getting to.  It is nice to play a game where your vehicle mounted MG can play, too.  That's a combat resource that, in real life, you can ill afford to neglect.

Mortars are awesome.  Enough said.

Artillery is awesome.  Enough said.

Even with advanced stabilization, your tanks have a much better chance of getting a kill when they're still.  For now.

Try to attack infantry with mortars, artillery, and MG fire as much as you can to force a morale check.  If he rolls poorly, you knock out an infantry unit for the next 2 turns while they recover morale.  In the modern era, this is good news because of ATGM fire.  Tactically, it also makes by-passing completely do-able now.  Something that you have a hard time managing in other rules.

So bravo if you made it this far.  In these Neil Thomas rules, you actually have a viable method for accomplishing real tactical tasks that occur on a modern battlefield: suppression, by-passing and isolating, combined arms opportunities, and most importantly, infantry have their teeth back.

Anyone who has followed my blog for any amount of time knows that I really enjoy the Neil Thomas rules and this fan-produced modern variant is no exception.


  1. YES - really loved this.

    I must give these a try (I keep saying that) but what a great narrative.

    ...and now I know why the 120mm and APFSDS came along...

    Seriously, these rules look perfect for those Fire Team scenarios. Must get this sorted - I'm in the group I think, so must download the rules and proceed.

    1. Glad you found the write-up useful, Darren. If you own the book, I recommend taking the WW2 rules out for a quick spin first as the modern rules add a touch more complexity.

      Check out my WW2 AAR that I linked to in this post.

      I really enjoyed playing this, although I believe there are a few tweaks in order.

      I don't like the HE factor of 12 for modern autocannon, I don't like that Artillery can't destroy AFVs, and I think the armor values could be adjusted slightly (man that 105mm barely chips the paint on the T-80 in these rules! but I do think that's accurate however)

      The Dragon ATGM probably doesn't deserve the Super Heavy gun status it gets, and lastly, I think there should be modifiers for flank shots (somehwere in the +1 area on the AFV damage table).

      These rules are great for modern but I think they would be literally perfect for Falklands or Arab Israeli War games.

      Thanks for commenting.

  2. All that new stuff looks GREAT in action Steve - fantastic.

    Don't those old M1s look funny now that we are used to the newer models. Those 105mm barrels don't even look like they are in the right proportion compared to the massive barrels on the Sov MBTs!

    1. Thank you Paul! I was pleased to finally get the M1s on the table, even if they're still unfinished :)

      Yes isn't that the truth about the smaller gunned M1s. Funny to think that the L7 / M68 was, at one time, the best tank gun on the planet! Times change and armor and armaments move to catch up.

      Those T80s gave a good accounting of themselves in this game.

  3. That was an excellent read. Well done on adapting the rules. I'm trying to peg the rough year - about 1980 ish?

    1. Glad you enjoyed the write-up, Conrad. Yes anywhere between 1980 and 1983 I'd say you couldn't go wrong. M1s with the 105mm gun and T80s with no Explosive Reactive Armor puts us in the early part of the 1980s. Not later than 1983.

      The Neil Thomas rules for modern warfare (specifically from his Wargaming: An Introduction) are quickly becoming favorites of mine. His Horse and Musket rules aren't far behind, either.

      Thanks for commenting!

  4. Nice one Steven. Great to see these toys on the table. Those M1's look the business.

    6mm on top of the BMP's, so I reckon a kill is possible.

    Well done.

    1. Thanks Paul, good to hear from you. I am happy with those MERDC M1s.
      I was thinking a big mortar like on the M106 should be able to at least screw up a BMP and knock some things around inside pretty well.

  5. Reading your NT reports is tempting me to pick up a couple of WWII forces in order to give them a go. It's just deciding what ...

    1. Glad you liked the report Kaptain Kobold. In the NT book, he gives great army lists for each theater of the war so pretty much whatever you're interested in you can build.
      I don't build the proper lists that NT gives but instead just try to use historical TOEs where I can.

  6. Your kit looks really good Steve, especially the new paint schemes on the Abrams. NT writes great stuff for playing quick and enjoyable games if players are alright with a fairly high level of abstraction. Well done.

    1. Thanks Michael. I think depending on the rules you use there is more or less abstraction (the NT 1 Hour Wargames being the epitome of abstract games.)
      People (myself included) never really gave the WW2 rules from "Wargaming:An Introduction" a fair shake. I had the book for over a year before I tried them and they are really something special.

      The variable HE fire mechanism in itself is gold, and the lethality of infantry up close is appropriately modeled.

  7. Steve, you may want to get a copy of "Programmed Wargames Scenarios" by C.S. Grant. It is not only designed for solo play but gives the sort of mission nuance - as well as actions for the opposing forces - you seem to be looking for. I have a copy you can check out if you like. best, Alex

    1. Thanks Alex! If you mean the one from 1982/83 from WRG I believe I have it. Really excellent stuff. Actually those scenarios would be perfect for the Neil Thomas games.