Tuesday, May 25, 2021

BAOR Neustadt Junction Redux: Team Yankee 50 Pt Battle

Cold War month grinds inexorably forward like a Soviet tank division as Dave and I linked up on Sunday for some much-needed face to face wargaming.  The battle?  Neustadt Junction - again!   For those needing a quick orientation, see my Tactical Decision Game post here. 

This time Dave and I refought the battle with different rules.  The rules in question?  BF Team Yankee.  The minis?  GHQ's 1/285 micro armor.  The war?  The big one that never happened - World War III on the North German plain.

T-62s split into 2 "companies" of 6 tanks and 4 tanks.

Dave and I played a smaller Team Yankee - 50 points.  I have to say with a smaller number of points, the choices one must make to support are critical!  How do you weight your force?  Tanks?  Mech infantry?  How much artillery or is there even enough in the budget to support artillery?  I had much fun building a force of a Company-sized element from the  BAOR's 1st Staffordshire, as well as an older Soviet tank division with T-62M models.  The reader will also note we had much fun with "special" weapons such as Krasnopol guided projectiles, tank-launched ATGMs, and Harriers!

The motor rifle company in BMP-1s and ZSUs in support 

The Soviets brought in the "big guns" in terms of supports and had a battery of 2S3 "Acacia" SP howitzers in support, which could fire the Krasnopol laser guided projectile!  Cool!  The reader will also note Dave brought his excellent 6mm tree stands along to populate the table with.  Love those trees!  

British Milan Teams sit and await Ivan from their fighting positions

The British have a company-sized element with a troop of Chieftains from the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards in support, as well as RAF Harriers in reserve.  Dave naturally placed the "Jocks' " Chieftains in ambush!

British GPMG (jimpy?) teams in fighting positions - unpainted Blowpipe section behind them.

Scimitars lie in wait - ready to shred any Soviet recce that comes through.

I step off onto the attack in the same way from the first thrust against Neustadt Junction - BMPs up the middle, and the tanks on the right.  The armor's job is to isolate the powerful hilltop position, and the BMPs will go straight up the middle as fast as their tactical movement speed allows - I need them to move and shoot constantly to keep the resilient British infantry pinned inside their foxholes.

Soviet Heavy Guns pound Le Haye Saint, er, Neustadt Junction pinning the Brits there.

Meanwhile, Soviet recce is shot to pieces by the Scimitars in the cornfields

THe Soviet guns bring a very good firepower total into the mix and the artillery is crucial to whittling the numbers down on the objective.  Guess where those guns will fire next?

Progress on Turn 2 - note the BMPs only successfully "crossed" through the treeline with 7 BMPs from the MRC.  There are 3 more bogged at the treeline behind them.  Meanwhile the T62s fan out to knock out British forces on the hilltop.  Important consideration here - the T62 main gun is "brutal" meaning I should have made the Brits reroll their successful saves against it.  I forgot to do that.

BMP company struggling to stay together - "we'll be good provided British artillery doesn't start dropping on us now"

Right on cue, British Artillery plasters teh BMP company in the open, with a direct hit on one of the tracks, knocking out the BMP and killing a team of dismounts.  

Turn 3, the Soviets continue to plaster Neustadt Junction with shelling and the BMPs grind forward, with their stragglers racing to catch up.  The T62s are forming a cordon around the hill to keep the pressure on the infantry.  THe MILAN gunners take the bait and start destroying T62 tanks instead of going after the BMPs.  Perfect!

LITKO destroyed/burning markers are perfect for KO's vehicles playing with microarmor

I'm biting my nails so far and incredibly pleased that the Soviet plan is working.  The BMPs will be at the doorstep of Neustadt Junction in a turn with almost all of their dismounts present and ready to over-run the town.  I can almost taste the German bread raided from a "liberated" bakerei now.

One important consideration is the "danger close" aspect which is 6" for falling artillery.  I have to get my Soviet troops in far enough, blast the British to oblivion, dismount, then assault during the assault step.  Bear in mind that the British also must be pinned because their unpinned rate of fire is devastating.  

Doctrinally, I'm going to use smoke from the artillery to cover my infantry's advance, also.  

You have to sequence and time this dance perfectly for it to work.  

BMPs fanning out to assault Le Haye Saint / Neustadt Junction

Dave is still banging away at the tanks, knocking out 1 or 2 each turn as the BMPs edge closer to the junction.  Am I actually going to be able to pull this off?!?!?

Viktor "Suvorov" once said in his "Inside the Soviet Army" book - tanks are grapes to the USSR - made to be squished!  


Soviets isolating the hill with fire

British are getting whittled down but is it enough?  
DAve's outstanding painted Timecast 6mm German modern buildings adorning the table - what a pleasure to game with!  The British are going to be supporting in the fight of their lives in a few minutes as the BMPs come into view.

The Soviet commander calls in the smoke rounds and they fall in a beautiful line, protecting the dismounts as best they can.  The BMPs move up in perfect, parade-ground precision.  They've practiced this maneuver many times.


I should also mention that the British have sprung their RSDG ambush last turn finally and the Chieftains  join in the slaughter of the T-62 companies!  UNfortunately, my Soviet FOO is tied up with the smoke mission and cannot target them this turn with the special Krasnopol rounds!

The Chieftains pouring fire into the Soviet companies 

The BMPs quickly lurch to a stop - the commander squinting through his field glasses, only able to see through fleeting gaps in the smoke.  "This is it" he whispers to himself and keys the radio - "ADVANCE!  ATTACK!  ASSAULT!" The BMP doors spring open and before he can even put the mike down, throngs of men are moving forward in a surprisingly coordinated and violent fashion, firing bursts and moving forward towards the village.  Murderous British tracers spring from virtually every direction as the ground in front of the village becomes a killing ground of defensive fire.  "Even while pinned the Tommies are a dangerous foe" the commander snarls.  British FV432s were brought up in support and the town opens up with fire from concealed positions.  The men's momentum is sapped and they go to ground or fall back to their BMPs!

Soviet dismounts make their way along a hedgerow inching towards Neustadt Junction

The brave defenders from the 1st Staffordshire are successful in defending the town from this wave!  Soviet troops fall back, pinned!



Bigger picture.  Ivan is still dangerous, but the assault has lost its momentum!

The heavy defensive fire really saps the assault, even though "only" 3 teams are lost.  The British turn is up next and the FV432 machine guns along with the abbots and infantry exact a high toll on the Soviets in the open.  Meanwhile, I am able to take out a Chieftain with a side shot from a T-62 that appeared around the corner of the right hill.  The Chieftains adjust and prepare to even the odds a bit with the armor next turn!


The next 2 turns would see much of the Soviet infantry eliminated trying to get back to their carriers, etc.  

A bit confusing on the "tank attachment" rules here and figuring out when and how the Soviets would bug out due to morale.  Dave kills the Soviet Battalion commander with a well placed Chieftain shot, and completely shreds the Shilkas with 30mm rarden fire from the Scimitars.  This is ugly, but pretty desperate fighting on both sides.

Turn 7 the Soviet motor rifle company retreats from the field due to high casualties and failing its "good spirits" morale check.  The tank battalion ceases to exist as a fighting force with only 2 tanks left in total.  The British have successfully defended Neustadt Junction against tough, determined Soviets!  A tough, near-run thing!

Lessons Learned
So a gripping and edge of your seat battle - but what did we learn?  Well for starters, we were a bit rusty with the Team Yankee rules, especially rules around morale and transport units, as well as some of the myriad of "special" rules for certain weapons like the "brutal" feature of the tank guns, etc.

While many balk at bringing artillery due to points, or the high cost of tanks, I find that the combined arms approach is extremely important and validated.  Mechanized infantry are a great bet to bring along and are worth their weight in points.  Artillery has its use simply in pinning enemy troops (unfortunately the Soviets still need a 5+ to range in, so having your TRP smartly placed is important)

Ruthlessly, I find the tanks are great "throw-aways" to bring with you to attract fire of the infantry and the AT guns, while trying to over run with dismounts.  Artillery is wonderful to have to root out dug in troops and much better than relying on your infantry with direct fire shooting (but combine if you can - again - combined arms is key here).

Unfortunately we never got to test the AAA fire against the Harriers as the flyboys never showed up but the British were able to save the junction from being over run.  

All in all, a perfect and relaxing game for a Sunday afternoon and a great Cold War themed battle to close out May.

The 2021 Gaming Calendar lists June as another World War II month and frankly I can't wait to get some Flames of War, Battlegroup, and maybe even some Iron Cross 15mm games back onto the table!  

Stay tuned as I am in the process of building out some American Armor in 15mm - perfect for some Kasserine Pass games!  Work also marches forward on painting some 15mm Ancients, and it looks like Napoleonics are coming back to the workbench and gaming table soon.  All great stuff going on here.

Many thanks to Dave for showing me how to "Brew up" a "proper" cup of tea for the game (Fortnum & Mason with milk and sugar.  Fancy!), and also bringing his splendid terrain to fight over.

23 comments:

  1. Excellent looking game and an interesting benchmark to the previous play with different rules. The first thing I thought was the importance of ‘not’ solo playing this, as you wanted the British to concentrate on the tanks and not the BMP’s and while this happened in the face-to-face, I doubt you would ‘allow’ it to happen in a solo game.

    The playing under theses rules seem more bloody than the last outing - are troops moving in the open more vulnerable with the Team yankee rules?

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    1. Cheers Norm you're spot-on. I could not have baited myself so the face to face adds another element to testing the plan!

      A couple points on your last observation - Alex's rules are based off of a strength-point model and are really One Hour Wargames so the hits are much less dramatic affairs. This was a 1:1 type game with individual fighting vehicles and infantry teams taking hits versus entire platoon damage and casualties being abstracted if that makes any sense. So a full Soviet turn of a game of Team Yankee which potentially has up to 30 or 40 dice being thrown for all of the disparate weapons and teams, sees that dropped to probably 6 engagement rolls per turn since all of a platoon's firing is abstracyed into a single roll.

      Does that make sense?

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  2. Absolutely fantastic battle - I was riveted to the narrative.
    Glad to be reminded of Mr Suvarov's 'grapes' rule too :)
    A close fought thing, and with Arty playing a major part. This seemed so like reading a WW3 book Steve - really great stuff...right down to the accurate British fire, and Soviet parade ground stuff.
    Hope you enjoyed the cuppa too. F&M no less ...how perfect suh!

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    1. Cheers Darren! Thought youd appreciate this write up! This was a fun one, too. The tea was excellent. I'm probably not ready to give up on coffee, but I wont turn down a "cuppa" :)

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  3. Steve, this was a very interesting scenario and play-through. I enjoyed it very much. Clearly, you've served in the military. Perhaps you are ready to try some of this stuff in a remote setting???

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    1. Thanks Jonathan, and you are correct, sir, I was an Army officer for 10 years prior to starting with my current agency!

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  4. Very fine looking game - the Timecast buildings are ace, aren't they? And yes, we've all used La Haye Sainte in other settings. It's a regular TARDIS. Great game and very tense, despite my Anglo-sympathies I was cheering as your Soviets seemed on the brink of winning!

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    1. Cheers, Padre, it was a close run thing. I know the British commander was running scared especially when the line of smoke dropped and those BMP doors opened!!

      Thanks for your kind words as always!

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  5. Great report Steve. They may not be the perfect rules in many peoples minds but do give a good narrative. I play them in 1/300, just have the movement distances but keep firing the same. Also add a reserve fire rule, just gives me a better feel of modern combat. Now you’ve got the right tea, you need to call it a Gimpy as it’s called in the British Army. Great stuff Steve!

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    1. Thank you, Dave! Glad you liked the batrep. I personally love the FoW/TY stable of rules and feel like they give a great game (literally perfect for microarmor, also).

      I like the idea of a reserve fire rule. I saw on another blog where they allow defensive fire to be used like AA fire with the restrictions that come with AAA fire.

      Gimpy- got it!!!

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  6. Fortune & Mason? Posh nancy nonsense. Get some Yorkshire tea: it’ll have you talking like Sean Bean and getting a ‘100% blade’’ tattoo in no time. Meanwhile…
    Great write up! Also interesting to see how the same scenario can work out differently with alternative rules. I dare you to try it again with WRG… 😆

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    1. Fortnum, even. See? Even autocorrect can’t swallow it…

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    2. Cheers, Jeffers, this made me laugh out loud and on the "quiet car" no less! You know what? This may be more shocking than my choice of tea - I dont actually own WRG...

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    3. I'll order Yorkshire tea as long as I get to die in every game I play in. Oh wait...I already do.

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    4. When I were a lad all we ‘ad were WRG and we were glad of it. I were so poor I ‘ad to use sticks for tanks. Eee, but we didn’t complain we just got on wi’ it. We’d no table, just a dirt floor an’ we played on that in t’pouring rain until mother sent us to t’shops to buy stale Hovis for our tea.

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    5. Jeffers where have I heard this before... :)

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    6. Was WO2 Pete Lund your chief clerk too? 😆

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  7. Wow, this has turned out great! I'm envious, I have to say. Its like one of the scenes from my blog come to life.

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    1. Thanks Mike! That's actually what I was going for. Wouldnt it be cool to play out some of those battles in your WW3 storyline??

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  8. Great looking game and very gripping, couldn't really cheer for the reds as I kept seeing my brother back in his 1980 milan team! I guess that's why I try and stay further back in time!
    Best Iain

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    1. Thank you sir! A gripping write up is a compliment of the highest order regarding one of my bsteps!

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