Monday, June 15, 2020

Battlegroup: NORTHAG AAR #2.

The second game of NORTHAG under our belts now as Ken was over Sunday afternoon for another 500 pt clash between Soviets and the British Army of the Rhine but this time in 6mm / 1-285th scale!

And for those of you out there asking "did he finish his British started on Thursday?"  The answer is most certainly YES!  All got done except the Harrier, who got a pathetic gull grey dry brush and that's about it...

I really tried to make the table look good as the terrain becomes so important when the micro armor is on the table and each time I play I learn a bit more about what I need to "dress up" on the table next.

The roads are Ken's.  I need to get some of these felt Hotz roads.
Anyways, to the action.  The orders of battle were very similar to last week's except the Soviets received an "upgrade" with a T-64A tank company, 2 platoons of infantry in BMP-1 IFVs, and the recce was beefed up to include a BMP-1 with dismounts.  Soviet BP was 51 (down from 61 last week) and the British was 37.
Also, I'm kicking myself but I paid for dedicated artillery support and never used it!  Inexcusable.  I'll be off to Siberia counting Pine Trees before the month's end.  Okay now onto the action!

Soviet recce patrol skulking about the objective.

Scimitars and "Strikers" (swingfire models) move into position to challenge the Soviet recon.  

Gratuitous shot of one of the British Swingfire models.
 Ken moves up to challenge the Soviet recce and places his FOO into a German house.  I immediately push the BMP patrol up to it and the battle is on!  Ken calls his artillery onto the BRDM and BMP and places fire from the Striker and Scimitar along the autobahn onto the Russian patrol.  The BMP is KO'd and the troops dismount, pinned.  It's going to be a long day!  Chit pulling like crazy on both sides.

British FOO Team.  Check out that DPM camo!  Not great but not terrible - they're 6mm tall!

carnage on the autobahn as the recce BMP burns.

British recce is containing the Soviet lead elements!
 By turn 3, I'm ready for my tank company (T-64A) to show up.  I know just the place for them.  The "plan" is to push the armor on the left and breakthrough.  the battlefield is sliced in 2 by a few wooded copses.  On the right is a force of BMP-1s (2 x platoons) which are my main column.  They will assault the right, taking an objective in a field there and pushing on to swing around and clear out the woods, bagging Ken's objective.

T-64A company arrives on the field!  Hey I have an idea, comrade.  Let's blast the borscht out of that house in front of us.
 The T-64s position themselves smartly this time to engage flank and frontal targets so less tubes are wasted with no shots per turn.
Relief in place of the scout elements as the heavies come in.  YES I KNOW THEY ARE T-72s 
 The T-64's coming on will push into and surround an objective in the British "No Man's Land" section of the table but I won't be able to take it until I kick out the Scimitar in the cornfield and the British dismounted FOO team in the house.  They're making my life miserable!  And speaking of miserable, Turn 4 sees a Harrier inbound!  Ken put a timed strike right where he felt the kill zone would be and it's good planning because it's occupied by my T-64 company and half of my recce troops!

Target rich environment as a Striker targets the tanks along the autobahn.

 Ken's strike while scary doesn't accomplish what he hoped and I think a T-64 becomes pinned but the assault grinds on with armor churning its way towards Ken's baseline!

My 1/300 Harrier was the ONLY thing I didn't get completely finished painting in time for this game so you'll have to make due with Ken's OUTSTANDING F-16 with ordnance installed!
The Harrier streaks away untouched towards the north as my ZSU, just like last week's game, doesn't come on until turn 6...

T-64 company "bounds" up and foolishly sits still to engage in a tank duel with Chieftains.  What was I thinking???

The Chieftains will get the better end of this scuffle...
 Turn 5 and 6 BMPs show up and charge towards the next objective, which, at the moment, is guarded by a single Scimitar!  My BMP-1 makes short work of it and bags the objective with a platoon order.

Burning Scimitar and the objective (yellow die) is ripe for the taking.

BRDM races into the town and ends up leaving the table forcing a chit draw.

meanwhile T-64s on flank guard are ready to be pulled back.  (YES I KNOW THEY'RE T-72s!!)

Ken is cagey and throws a Striker (Yes it's a Swingfire!!!) out on the flank.

Meanwhile the tank duel with the Chieftains is in full swing.  The burning Chieftains behind them fell prey to another Chieftain lurking on the flank.
At this point in the battle, I figuratively handed the initiative off to NATO by settling in for a tank duel with Chieftains.  Not a bright idea especially since I paid for the "Breakthrough" ability.  I could have been well along my way to the Rhine by now...
Look at these monsters!  

Soviets preparing to enter the cornfield and the town.  NATO troops were spotted there!

Soviet command shows up and with it, the ability to call 122mm SP Artillery.  Too bad I forgot about them!!!!!!
 On the left, things are slowing down and I'm getting impatient.  I finally unpin the recon troops along the autobahn and direct them to take out the FOO team in the house!
Soviets charge their AK74s and move out!
 The scouts move out to the small farmstead but fail their pre assault check!  To add insult to injury - they're pinned!
Meanwhile the Brits establish a main line in the woods west of the autobahn.

British mech infantry establish blocking positions holding out against Soviet flanking moves and attempts to breakthrough off the table.  They'd all go on Ambush Fire soon!

Looking to run the gauntlet, this BRDM guns the engine and moves out off the table!  a LAW flies at him and misses!
 In the cornfield, the Soviet frolic comes to an end as hardcore professionals close assault the Soviet fireteams knocking one out and pinning the other.

 Meanwhile, the 2nd Motor Rifle Platoon stages to race down the road towards the exits!  A photo finish?

My attempt at 6mm DPM camouflage.  I think they turned out quite nicely.

Assaulting Ivan in the cornfield.

Soviet team pinned and the British are coming on!
 The game makes alot of sense to me.  Don't assault a fireteam that's not pinned.  Also, it's incredibly difficult to kill infantry, but it's relatively easy to suppress them.  I used the BMPs to lob HE shells at the British in the cornfield, too bad my gunnery sucks today!

With the BRDM off the table, I race my BMPs down the road.  One makes it off.  Then another takes a LAW shot and gets itself knocked out.  Both teams dismount with 1 ending up destroyed after failing its casualty roll, and the other pinned.  I pull 2 x chits and reach my BP of 51.  This game is over!  Soviets lose again!

This last BMP "would" have probably gotten Ken to pull his final BR counters but as fate would have it, I pulled first.  

Lessons Learned
Wow where to begin.  The second game of NORTHAG and one which we actually finished.  There were a few key take aways for me.

Good Staffwork
First of all, it would have been better to keep a closer eye on my forces.  I completed missed out on the opportunity to shell the FOO in the house, among other things.  So right away - keep a detailed roster of your forces close by.  It sounds incredibly stupid I know, but when you're managing a bunch of forces it's not hard to do.  Keep a roster!

Have a Plan
The game also rewards good planning.  Timing artillery and air strikes to coincide with advances is a solid tactic that works.  This becomes particularly more for the Warsaw Pact player and the game really forces you to centrally plan.  Things like treelines to shell, buildings to shell, and locations for airstrikes should be timed to cover your advance as it speeds along.  NATO will have to be agile and unpredictable (ahem...Airland Battle) to win.

The game really rewards mobility for both sides.  Push your tracks, troops, and choppers hard.  Keep them moving.

Win the Recon Fight!
The game rewards good tactics and planning.  In any battle, you have to dominate the recon fight with counter-patrolling, and heavily supported scouts.  Soviet doctrine was pretty clear that they intended to win the encounter and armed their scouts with radios, BMPs, the ability to call in fire, and even tank platoons.  NORTHAG rewards when you out-scout your opponent so in my opinion, don't skip out on recce support (like I do in WW2 battlegroup!).  Winning this fight means you might be able to pick your table edge.

Press On!
As I mentioned earlier, it was pretty inexcusable that I didn't bum-rush those Chieftains and zoom right past them.  (I admitted to Ken it felt a little cheesy to drive around them or zip across their front) but Ken reminded me you have the rule in place to win as the WP player and there is probably no way to win going toe to toe with British Chieftains and even when you have T-64A's in your stable.  So instead of settling in, bypass, re-gas, and haul a** as our American tankers like to say.  (I'm sure there is a British and Russian equivalent to this expression).

Anyways I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as we enjoyed playing it!


  1. Absolutely epic sir.
    What excitement - the pics and drama are riveting.
    I can't believe some of that stuff is 1/300. The DPM is spot on - looks fantastic - i copied the pic and magnified it too!
    These read like a superb set of rules. I need to try soon. Great drama - looks like it forces you to play the side's doctrine. Epic!

    Oh yeah ..Chieftains look tough :)

    ('get all you s**t in one sock' might be a British equivalent - though that could also describe Slack Chowder ;) )

    1. Love it, Darren! Keep the British slang coming!

      Yeah I busted my rear end on getting those Brits done but now they're done and I won't have to paint too many of them anymore. Ugh they were paintful to do!

      yes the rules really hit the mark for getting it to feel right. You owe it to yourself to play. Soon! There is no individual basing of infantry like in BG World War II, it's a much bigger battle system.

  2. Steve, your terrain certainly makes for an enjoyable visual treat. Your photography is excellent and highlights both models and terrain. As Darren mentions, your 6mm camo looks superb. At this scale, it is all about impressions and yours provide just the right impression.

    I have not gamed cold war era much but I am always surprised to see large scale actions fought over an autobahn.

    1. Thank you very much, Jonathan! I appreciate the feedback because I'm really trying to "up my game" in terms of terrain for the micro armor. And I hope to NEVER paint 6mm camo again...

      When playing with microarmor, the terrain is so incredibly important to providing the right "feel" and I am going to invest a bit more in fields, high tension power lines, roads, buildings, and clump foliage!

      Isn't it funny how photography of the minis in "battle" is a hobby within itself! we were lucky in that the game was outdoors on my patio and so the sunlight really made for some perfect pictures.

      These rules are very thoughtful and well researched, much like their WWII older brother.

  3. Great batrep. Those British vehicle names are just the worst though! Who can tell what's what? Fine looking models and layout, Steve.

    1. Thanks, Ski! Yeah when I was posting the batrep I kept writing in the actual names, not the names they were meant to substitute for - Swingfire, Striker, Scorpion, get the idea!
      Regarding the layout - I've really been trying to put a nice table together for 6mm. What I learned from this battle, I'll put into the next one!

  4. Pretty cool. I don’t know anything about the Cold War so I can’t tell a T64 tank from a T bone steak. But the terrain and figs look great and I see you managed to paint them all in time. 😀

    1. Thanks, Stew! The Osprey books help :) Having been a "tank junkie" from earliest childhood I love the darn things.

      Yes - I was spraying the matte finish on them about an hour before the game. Talk about down to the wire!

  5. Steve, lovely table that works really well with the scale. Glad this ruleset has you enthused. Interesting point on by-passing the Chieftans. I don’t know enough about modern armour capability, but gut instinct is to agree with your choice ... of standing, slugging it out and getting the worst of it :-)

    1. Thank you very much, Norm! It's a very well thought-out and research set of rules and they're very refreshing in the way they make you approach and visualize the battlefield.

      I just felt driving across the front was a bit "cheesy" however the rule exists to give the 'Pact a fighting chance of winning the game so I should have just driven them straight past the Chieftains, as weird as that sounds.

      Brings up an interesting point of playing "the way you think it would go" versus what the rules say you can/can't do.

      That said - I LIKE the breakthrough rule and I certainly approve of it. It was just not my natural inclination to drive across the front of the NATO tanks or "skirt" around them coming within inches.

      Ken brought up a great point, though. Driving 10 of them across NATO's front, I'd only have lost 3 per turn after the Chieftains used their ambush fire order. So you know the Soviets will take some horrendous casualties but keeping up the speed of the advance and moving west is vital and the rule exists for a reason.

      Okay off my soapbox!

  6. The DPM on the infantry is very impressive. I didn’t notice it during the game because I can’t see the infantry very well. I only noticed it when I see your photos in the blog!

    1. Thanks Ken! This will be one of the last times I ever paint camo on 6mm troops. I "might" do some on 6mm Germans and I "might" do some Soviet VDV in smocks. Otherwise - done.

  7. Great looking table, convincing as a place (I can't stand random bits of scenery plonked anyhow), particularly with the autobahn running through. Nice brits as well (DPM in 6mm!? Awesome!). Always think an interesting test of 'historical' rules is if they reward real tactics, or encourage exploiting the rules in unrealistic ways; Northag certainly sounds like it's the former.

    1. Thank you, Alan! I really wanted the table to look good and appropriate with 6mm models. And hopefully I never have to paint DPM in 6mm again!

      Yes the rules definitely want you to act like your NATO or Soviet counterpart and that's a win in my book!