Wednesday, April 22, 2015

GDW Team Yankee: First Blood / First Battle AAR

I played my first game of Team Yankee using Micro Armor and the results did not disappoint!  Set against the backdrop of the scenario in the book, (which is further set against the universe in General Sir John Hackett's "History of the Third World War") Captain Bannon leads his Armor/Mechanized company team against a Soviet Battalion who are probing for the US main line of resistance.  It is the first day of the war.  But there's a twist!  In this game, Team Yankee is equipped with M60A3 AFVs and M113s, not the high-speed M1s they have in the book!

This game was intense and very exciting for all of the right reasons.  Tactical lessons come the hard way and if you're looking for an excellent game, look no further.  This is gritty, WWIII combat at its best!

The Soviet plan along with US dispositions.  Blue markers are platoons.  Red are companies.
Soviet plan is quite simple.  The BMP company will advance through the woods on Hill 229 and be in position to over-run Hill 227.  On their left, the Tank Company will drive through the valley to the village, and push on at maximum speed.  I intentionally let the Fire Support Plan on the Soviet side target the hilltops and not the tree-lines on the first turn since tree-lines are never reliable on maps.  They could/would adjust when the battle began.  The Soviets have 3 Batteries of 122mm firing 20 salvoes/missions of High Explosive [HE], 3 chemical and 6 smoke.

In the interest of realism, the Soviet plan was built off of the map.  The American plan was built from the board after the terrain was placed but before Soviet troops were placed.

Tank Platoon in their initial Battle Positions.  One of the problems I ran into was not having a plan for displacement and alternate Battle Positions, which is textbook.  The Soviets were able to bring some nasty HE down on the treelines and damage quite a few of Team Yankee's AFVs...
 The American plan is to hold key terrain in vicinity of Vogleburg and the village of Amburg an der Vogle.  Key terrain in this case being the high ground to the west of the town itself.  All units are concealed with TRPs sighted and Artillery pre-registered.  US Artillery has 1 155mm Battery, firing  10 salvoes/missions of DPICM (Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions and HE)

More Battle positions.  Awaiting Ivan!

T-72 company arrives on schedule.  End of turn 1 movement.
 The Soviet artillery planners didn't take into account the excessive speed of the T-72 tank and the advance had to halt in order to lift fires in Amburg village.  The Battalion Commander was not pleased.  He was equally displeased when a heat round incinerated his driver and TC and he and the rest of his staff had to bail the ACRV and head into the woods on foot!  Not an auspicious beginning for the first day of the war!

Soviet advance

Soviet Artillery plasters Hill 227!  How do you like those Impact Markers?  They are steel wool cut into various "blast" shapes!!!  I need to spray paint them but on the whole, they'll work!
 The Soviet artillery immobilizes 1 US M60.  The US have no targets yet and no fire missions have been planned.  The US TC's scan the valley below and the Soviet tanks churn the earth and grind forward!


The Soviet artillery becomes an obstacle for the tank company.  Amburg Village gets the HE treatment!

ACRV bails out after taking a heat round in the nose and the ZSU 23/4 grinds by.  No targets comrade commander!

The Americans wisely hold their fire and decide not to give their position away with fire beyond effective range.  Meanwhile, US DPICM starts landing on the Soviet tank company with telling results.  2 AFVs immobilized and unable to continue the advance.

US ITOW M901 rides up the hill to fire and gets a nasty surprise.  Soviet T-72 KO's it at long range.  haven't I been harping about tactical driving in this blog for some time now?  Meanwhile Soviet HE rounds continue to fall on Hill 227 in the background.

BMP1 Company exits the woods as smoke falls.  Unfortunately, the smoke only hurt the BMPs as the US player has thermal sights.  The M60s on Hill 227 have a field day with the BMPs.

Gunnery starts to take its toll and more artillery falls on the stricken T72s.

The BMPs advance under the "cover" of the smoke and start to take casualties.  Their dismounts for the most part live and bail out.  And hit the ground!  
 The Soviet advance has located the US MLR and the fight is on!  The T-72s and M60s on Hill 222 in the Southwest start trading shots with a US M60 KO and 2 immobilized.  Meanwhile the US infantry dismount their carriers and bring those Dragon ATGM forward!  Let's get some flank shots guys!

More Soviet Artillery falls.
 The Soviets are able to get 2 T-72 tanks to exit the board and 3 more race for the edge but are caught in the open by US Artillery and an M60 tank counter-attack!  The BMP attack on the left has stalled and 2 M60s leave Hill 227 to fire on Ivan.  At this point, both the BMP Company Commander and the Tank Company Commander have bought the collective farm...

The Soviets have 1 more ace up their sleeve.

Ivan's last best hope for a victory.  2 T-72s KO by US gunnery and a third immobilized by Artillery fire.

GAS GAS GAS!  The Soviets have used up all their HE fire but a new threat -  Chemical weapons - enters the battlefield.  This marks the first time in one of my games where a WMD was used!

GAS GAS GAS!  Button up!  
 In Team Yankee, the NBC battlefield reduces the effectiveness of your troops by 1 level on the CRT.

Mopping up.  This ZSU 23/4 Shilka is all that remains of the Battalion support platoon.

US M60 scanning for targets.  "No more targets, sir."

Soviet chemical rounds still falling on 227, Ivan bugs out.  While his morale didn't break, he has no more vehicles to exit the board with.

Smashed BMP company.  Admittedly, they had the harder job.  The T-72s just needed to race through the valley and exit the map!


And there are many.  School's in, team, so take a seat!

Team Yankee made an excellent micro-armor game!  In my opinion, one of the best where you're truly rewarded for using combined arms tactics, and sensible use of artillery.  I will play more scenarios from the game and eventually use my own.  (the rules have vehicle values for UK, West Germany, and other Soviet units like the T-80, T-62, and T-55).  The inherent strengths and vulnerabilities of the systems depicted in the game/book are all in this game.

Tactical Movement: Use a covered and concealed route, especially if you're not a tank.  (most APCs have an armor value of "1" so a tank, even at long range, will max out the CRT and kill you as happened to the Soviet command vehicle).

Shoot & Scoot:  Keeping your platoons shooting from the same battle position is asking for enemy artillery to plaster you.  shoot then displace your tanks just like in real life, and in "First Clash," "Team Yankee," and other fine WW3 History books...  In my case, the unfortunate US plan only left room for 1 battle position but I probably still would have had movement enough to displace my vehicles.

Leapfrog your attacks.  Everyone loves to line up Soviet tanks and see what a huge tank assault would look like - an irresistible and unstoppable force.  Well that's what it looks like but the truth is a little more grim especially if the defenders aren't pinned.  If you can, shoot with one element, move with another.  The BMPs learned this the hard way, and only started engaging US infantry targets with their short-barreled 73's too late.  The Dragons chewed up what was left of them.

Playing solo was a little tough because as a miniatures game there is some "admin" (board wargamers call it housekeeping") you have to remember to do and the "First Battle" sequence of play doesn't have all those steps listed.  (for example checking morale for hesitation and breakpoint, artillery plot phase, artillery impact phase, etc).  Also if a unit doesn't move or shoot he takes a "reaction fire" marker and can shoot during the enemy's move.  That entails placing the little markers all over my tanks so I can remember they are in "reaction mode."

Also, I apologize I had to use the infantry chips instead of infantry stands.  That will be rectified by the next game!

Cool pic i saved for last.


  1. Looks excellent, and good to see the M60s getting out of the box.
    I tried this myself last year and do want to try more Team Yankee - a nice little system, but after I do some more 'Muskets and Mayehm' of course :)

    I've been looking at a lot of my old WWIII board wargames recently. I'm thinking of using 'Tac Air' for some brigade level stuff.

    1. Good to hear from you Darren! I was beginning to worry :)

      I have been getting excited about playing MicroArmor again so I decided it was finally time to prepare my stuff to play a game of Team Yankee. Funny you should mention board games because this all started after playing a board game scenario of "Mechwar '77" that got me started thinking about Microarmor once again and I fished out all my modern stuff.

      That said, Team Yankee is really an excellent system for tactical battles. I am going to try it out with World War II microarmor at some point, using Frank Chadwick's "Blood and Thunder" unit values, or just the unit values from GHQ's "WWII Microarmor The Game" and see how it turns out.

      As far as Muskets & Mayhem goes, I had some ideas I wanted to run by you and see your thoughts:

      Instead of making units automatically drop a morale grade when they lose a stand, after playing a game I'm thinking they should pass a morale check when they lose a stand. If they fail, they go down 1 level. If they pass, they remain the same morale grade.

      Also, I thought of adding some Morale / Troop Quality levels in there as well to give a wider range of options (still thinking about my Foot Guards running away from the Maryland line last battle).


    2. What a great AAR Steve - the pics tell a fantastic story and your terrain and models are spot on! The arty impact markers are very effective

    3. Perhaps it might work for solo games if the Soviets have a plan and have to stick to it, reflecting their central used higher HQ control and doctrinal rigidity. Give them extra forces to compensate and allow deviation from the plan only in extremes or if the company commander rolls say a 5+ to initiative

    4. Thank you Paul! This was a very enjoyable game. It's a shame Team Yankee is so often overlooked because it's a little older.
      I like the tips regarding the Soviet doctrine. One neat thing was I planned the attack using the map from the box but there were differences between the map and the real terrain (most likely an issue that would have happened in real life). That was neat. NATO forces got to use the actual terrain to plan their defense.

  2. A Soviet plan is a great idea for the WWIII game I think;, could work along the lines of the rules in 'Modern Spearhead' - basically drawing phaselines and lines of advance (with turn numbers) on a simple map, so that the Soviet advance is both inflexible and predetermined.

    Great ideas on M&M too Steve. I'll incorporate something into the next game. Probably ACW.

    1. Darren,
      I like that - actual staff restrictions on maneuver and use doctrinally correct symbols! Phase Lines and LOAs! I love it!

      As far as M&M go, I have more suggestions based off of my last AAR. No changes to the sequence of play. I'll send you some notes soon and keep what you like for your next game and discard the rest!

    2. Thanks Steve - look forward to the new ideas. I'll try to formalise the next game with options up front so that we can use each test battle as way of testing different aspects of the rules.

      With ACW there should be less variability between troop types I guess, so it can 'clear the decks' for different aspects to be tested.

  3. Such a great looking game, the cold war is the classic micro armor era! Yes, get out those infantry stands. :-) I have never had the chance to play Team Yankee, but did have a bit of fun with MBT. Hopefully, with the re-release of MBT through GMT (tentatively December 2015) they will expand on the variety of Soviet vehicle stats. If I remember correctly, they were a bit on the limited side?? They are taking pre-orders on BAOR and FRG expansions!!

    1. Thank you for commenting, David. Team Yankee and the entire "First Battle" series from GDW is one of the easiest board game systems to learn and one of the most translatable into miniatures.
      I have IDF, which is the Middle Eastern version of MBT I think? Anyways, you can purchase Team Yankee pretty cheap although the First Battle series games it spawned are expensive and difficult to come by. (Sands of War, Battlefield Europe, Test of Arms, Blood & Thunder, and Stand & Die Borodino 1941.)

      I need to paint those infantry stands first... My WW2 ones took long enough.

  4. Very nice bat rep. The shell burst markers are first-rate.

    1. Thank you Michael! You'll be pleased to hear I intend on doing 4 CMBG next in microarmor - once Team Yankee is done I'll start scenarios from the "First Clash" book including all the battles for Favorite!

  5. Great stuff I have the Last Battle GDW board game for Twilight 2000 and was wondering about trying it with miniatures.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Dylan. This was tremendous fun - probably one of the best microarmor games I've played in awhile.
      It's amazing how much tactical level boardgame rules lend themselves to miniatures rules (Squad Leader, Team Yankee, Panzerblitz, etc).
      I'll bet the Last Battle rules would work really well for man to man, tank to tank skirmish combat with 15mm or 20mm miniatures. I'd be really interested in seeing how that works out.