Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Fulda Gap: The Battle of Obergeis AAR PART ONE

Things continue to go badly for NATO.  It's day 3 of the war and Obergeis has fallen to the 79th Guards Tank Division.  The good news...if there can be any, is that intelligence confirms that the 79th has been pulled off of the line due to losses.  They are down to 1 effective infantry battalion and less than 1 tank battalion.  American losses from the battle have been grave.  Task Force 1-32 Armor is being rolled into 1-5 Mech for the time being.  1-5 Mech will be pulled off the line and the Germans will assume blocking positions west of Obergeis.  The battle of the Fulda Gap is over - the Soviets won the first round...
Obergeis, Germany.  You can see the E45  the Soviet Forces took towards Obergeis.  Also, roughly in the pictures where the US Armor and Mech infantry were.  TF 1-32 AR and TF 1-5 IN split the battlefield in 2, with the Infantry defending Untergeis and the Armor defending Obergeis.  Soviet Armor penetrated the woods to the East at their thinnest point and moved quickly against Untergeis.   The picture is a little deceiving as the right-most Soviet formations actually moved through the gap immediately to their front, bounded through a series of woods, and then turned west but you get the idea...
I finally played a game of GHQ's Modern Micro Armour Rules.  For my first game, the rules played a little choppier than their WWII cousin, but all in all, it wasn't bad.  Being a modern set, there is an awful lot to manage, however, and the immense capabilities that each unit brings to the table makes the game alot longer than the WWII one as well.  Which is odd as modern war is alot faster.  That brings up an interesting philosophical point about the nature of modern warfare and the ability to manage information and data....alas, that's for another blog.

This battle was so big that I will have to break up the posts.  Today you will read about the American and Soviet positions, and the initial shots that were fired.  Tomorrow I'll try and post the rest along with my lessons learned.  I literally can't wait to play this scenario using the Cold War Commander rules, as I have played numerous modern battles with them before, and, in my opinion, they play alot faster.

Scouts Out...TF 1-5 Mech Battalion Scouts.  They would enter a protracted firefight with the Soviet Recon Scouts, and eventually be destroyed by tank fire

to the North of the Scout position - Task Force 1-5 Infantry Battle Position 1, or BP 1 for short.  

TF 1-5 BP #2 - they would have the ITV and have the best field of fire down through one corridor of the Soviet advance. The ITV really disappointed this time and didn't knock out a single Soviet tank.

TF 1-32 tanks in their positions in the town of Obergeis.  The town didn't afford the cover I had hoped it would.  All buildings were light.  Instead of making this "fortress obergeis" you could call it "speed bump Obergeis"

The Armor Battle position on the US Right flank.  They were staring straight the AutoBahn E4-A7.  The cobblestone is where the "causeway" into the town starts.

like i just said...

Here is the Obergeis Battlefield.  Upper left is the town, upper right is the Infantry BP.  I think the reason the US lost was not putting infantry into Obergeis and putting the Armor there.  I really, REALLY overestimated the effectiveness of the US Dragon missile as well as the TOW missile...  The Armor Battalion could have easily dealt with the attack on the right and could have counterattacked into Obergeis.  The Infantry holding the town do receive a very high bonus even in light buildings.  The Soviets attacked in 2 columns - an Armor heavy column on the left going up the Autobahn (improved road) and a tank-infantry column up the right side (T72 and BTR70)

Soviet lead elements following the scout platoon.  Beyond the next treeline they would make contact with the US Scouts

Soviet Armor on the left.  Traffic management became a real concern as the Soviet columns got tangled up.  Thankfully, back in the Ural factory, they over-enthusiastically dry brushed one battalion much lighter to distinguish it from the others...
Soviet lead elements make contact with the US scouts on the Soviet right.  On the Soviet left, they move very quickly up my small dining room table to the crest of hill 442 and are met by a wall of US Artillery fire.  It is at this point they move into the forest and deploy on-line to wait for their sister battalion to advance with them.  That proved to be a good decision as the unfortunate left battalion soaked up all the tank fire and the second battalion on the right was able to continue to advance and fire.
The Obergeis battlefield with all the combatants.  You can see the large Soviet mobile detachments on both left and right.  

Soviets enter the map.  After pushing through Fulda rather quickly, they assemble for a push at Obergeis, hoping to drive a wedge between the US V Corps and the West German Corps.

Soviet tank columns advancing up the Autobahn - Hill 442 is visible to their immediate front. There SHOULD have been a US Scout Platoon there...

Soviet Command Group with the Division Anti Tank Platoon.  I really, REALLY underestimated the AT-5 missile's effectiveness also...

Soviet tanks on the right wait to move through a wooded area and begin the attack

Soviet traffic jam.  You can make out the red template, which is my artillery impact template for microarmor.  You can also see Obergeis in the distance.  

Soviet tanks line up and wait for their sister battalion to get online.

Soviet tanks burst from the woods.  The yellow beads are SUPPRESSION results from driving through artillery fire.  THey would be easier to knock out and this aided the US Armor Battalion greatly.

view from the US side.
Once the Soviet attack commences, US Armor has a field day and within the first 2 turns after contact, the Soviet Armor battalion on the extreme Soviet left is virtually annihilated.  This is due in no small part to the Artillery.  Unfortunately for the Americans, they would never mass their artillery quite so effectively again.  The US force found out a few things in the opening stages of the battle:

  • Flank shots are the best and quickest way to knock out a Russian tank.
  • It's 1978 brother, your Dragon and TOW missiles suck.
  • Artillery in conjunction with tank gun fire is the best way to guarantee a KO.
  • This is modern war.  These tanks shoot.  And then move!  

Hard lessons for the yanks to learn and it cost them an entire M60 Battalion and most of an Infantry Battalion.  Tune in tomorrow as I go down to the blow-by-blow and the lessons learned from the rules and gaming perspective.

Once again, I think I need to play this using Cold War Commander.  Decisive results much faster.  Or maybe I just need to play this with more people - that would help keep track of resources, rules, and other stuff I ended up forgetting here.

Tune in tomorrow!  Lots more pictures.  Huzzah!


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Monty - it was pretty epic! Unfortunately the "good guys" lost!!

  2. Very nice pictures for this very little world...Love the map too!

    1. Thanks, Phil. I have not played a proper game of Micro Armour in awhile and this was alot of fun. I forgot how many troops you can cram onto a tabletop! And they paint up alot faster than their 15mm cousins.

      The map was to orient the reader as to where this was taking place. For the most part, the scenario map is almost dead-on accurate for the real thing. Except the fact that the imagery is most likely taken in the 21st century, so I'm sure some tree-lines have moved a little. Thanks for commenting!

  3. Again a super AAR Steven, I really liked objective Huggie in one of the photographs.

    1. Thanks, Paul. I was showing the wife last night and she commenting about having a Huggies Box in pictures of the battle. You can always count on me to add some good humour to an otherwise bleak situation!

      I'll be sure name all of the objectives and phase-lines after diaper brands for the next battle :)

      Thanks for commenting, and tune in for part 2.

  4. I like the set up, and it makes good settings for the pictures as well. Not much of a Cold war fan myself, I still find this scenario and your account compelling reading. Looking forward to the next intalment...

    It occurred to me that the hassles and pressures of solo gaming (? I infer it was solo) adds a certain kind of realism - to try and coordinate material, time and space effectively under duress.

    1. Ion,
      You are correct - solo gaming here. I belong to a group that is somewhat of an inconvenient drive for me so for the time being this is how I get in my games.

      You hit the nail on the head - there is always so much to do between support, rules clarifications, decision making, and of course, moving the miniatures around. I have found that in more complicated rules sets I end up forgetting important rules, accidentally skipping over support (dedicated air was never called for). I think ideally a dry-erase board is needed to remember all of the fire support assets and timed attacks, etc.

      Being caught up in playing both sides and referee, it's easy to forget.

      Please stop back and read the second phase of the battle and lessons learned! Thanks for your comments,