Saturday, May 15, 2021

Tactical Decision Game: Battle of Neustadt Junction #1

 Last week I posted the first installment of a World War III tactical decision game featuring a British mechanized battalion defending a road junction against a forward detachment of the Soviet 10th Guards Tank Division.  

Looking from the Soviet start line.  Neustadt Junction in center.  Woods Alpha on the left.  Big Woody Hill Bravo in center, and Hill Charlie on the right.

I enlisted the help of fellow bloggers and wargamers to help place the British forces and this morning I gamed out the battle as we had jointly planned and here is the comprehensive AAR!  

Some professional armies call this a "murder board" :)

The Plan:


Enemy.  Elements of the Soviet 10th Guards Tank Division Forward Detachment are attacking to seize Neustadt Junction for follow-on forces of the Operational Maneuver Group.  (Soviet plan is below)


1st Battalion, Staffordshire Regiment, Defends in vicinity of Neustadt Junction in order to prevent Soviet Operational Maneuver Group from outflanking 1st Armoured Division (UK) position.


The battalion (3 mechanized infantry platoons with cross attached armoured troop and recce troop) is deployed in defensive positions with multiple engagement areas to destroy Soviet forces by fire and set conditions to move over to the offense.  Fire Support plan is tied into the defense with 3 x FASCAM missions and 2 x fire missions on standby to break up Soviet dismounted attack.

Per your suggestions 

  • 1st Platoon is posted dug-in in front of the "Alpha Woods", with fall back fighting positions within the woods.  
  • 2nd Platoon is posted dug-in front of Le Haye Sainte (Neustadt Junction) with fallback positions identified in the village to fall back to.  
  • 3rd Platoon is posted atop Hill Charlie, dug-in with the Chieftains posted behind Hill Charlie in reserve positions.

Most of these positions are force-protection measures to keep the platoons safe from the Soviet artillery that is expected to hammer forest edges, the town, and the surrounding hilltops.  Once the barrages lift, the plan is to move back into the actual Alpha Woods and the town.

There are 3 FASCAM missions to attrit and/or slow the attackers enroute to the objective which have been fired in front of both hills at the Soviet start line.

The Enemy Plan

I developed a Soviet plan which was ruthlessly stuck to before the British plans came in.  The plan was brutally simple.  Attacking up the left and clearing out those woods would have taken the entire company's effort to root out NATO troops.  So with that in mind, the BMP company would go over the big hill in column, fan out and attack Neustadt Junction directly, while the T-62 company on the right would go around the big hill, and demonstrate against Hill Charlie, keeping it occupied.  Soviet recce would secure the left flank of the mech company and keep anything in the Alpha woods occupied.

The Soviet fireplan was predictable.  5 missions of 122mm medium artillery were available for planning.  Turn 1 would see artillery fall directly on Woods Alpha, Neustadt Junction, and Hill Charlie as predicted, with another mission falling atop Hill Bravo to the rear.

The Battle

Soviet recce engaging Scimitars in the fields in front of Neustadt Junction

Turns 1 and 2 go predictably smooth.  Soviet artillery falls harmlessly into the positions that you all predicted it would, except for light casualties against 3rd platoon on Hill CHarlie (1 single hit), the barrage falls against the Alpha Woods, Bravo Hill, Neustadt Junction, and Hill Charlie.  

While using Alex's "Oil Cheaper than Water" modified 1HW rules, I added a Cold War rule for the Soviets that they could move as an entire company off of 1 die roll provided they all moved same distance, direction, etc.  Extremely handy when attacking an enemy position while in column.   

While the "plan" had the BMPs at the doorstep of Neustadt Junction on Turn 4, postulating a 10" move per turn, the woods slowed the BMPs down considerably.  It also took a turn to move into line from column, and also saw a turn engaging troops from multiple directions.  The FASCAM caused a single hit on the mech company's platoons as they moved off of the wooded hill.  The Recce and MILAN fire caused considerably more hits against them.

BMP Mech Company shakes out from column to line.  Note the casualties caused by either recce troops or the FASCAM minefield.  Units are gone at 7 hits.

The British have a field day with MILAN ATGM fire and their volleys are successful against the BMPs on the Soviet left, and T-62s on the Soviet right.  It doesn't bother the Soviets all that much, though, all the BMPs have to do is survive until they dismount 4" from Neustadt.  

The British shoot MILAN fire the whole way, and the Chieftains get into the fight on Turn 3 and, coupled with MILAN fire, make extremely short work of a single T-62 platoon from the Company.  The T-62 company continues to charge Hill Charlie, however, keeping the MILANS and deadly CHieftains at bay.  Remember that.

Chieftains mixing it up with T-62s with a whopping 4 fire dice hitting on 3+

The BMPs get sorted out but some get nasty "permanent" hits which will transfer over to the infantry dismounts and represent casualties.  Still, the advance continues.

Turn 4 Big Picture.  T62 Company on the right doing its job of keeping CHieftains and British 3rd Platoon tied down.  BMPs getting online to assault the Junction.  The dice all represent hits.  Note the yellow dice on the T-62 company on the right, who are suffering tremendously against the Chieftains but still charging...

Recce pulled back to Neustadt Junction.  While their presence was a God-send to the troops there, they were needed on the British right flank to free up 1st Platoon to come to the aid of the 2nd Platoon who are now facing an entire company of BMPs and dismounts in front of Neustadt Junction.

The British, getting nervous at this point, drop the remaining 2 missions of 105mm HE onto 2 x platoons of BMPs that already have a high number of hits, hoping to break up the attack combined with ATGM fire.  THe original plan was to use the HE on the dismounts.  

While the shooting isn't bad, scoring a "permanent hit" on a Soviet BMP platoon and eventually eliminating a platoon of BMPs, the dismounts get on the ground, and the other Soviets dismount, a bit furhter out than the planned 4" but still enough to threaten Neustadt with new units to fire at.  The defending British infantry platoon, feeling quite alone in the world right now has 4 hits and is on the ropes.  They cannot, however, afford not to shoot this turn.  The Battle has reached a critical point.  The British platoon is going to fold under the continuous pressure of the BMP company and 3rd Platoon is decisively engaged on the British left atop Hill Charlie with a platoon of T-62s still trying to overrun their position.  The Chieftains, now at 6 hits, break contact to rally off some hits before launching into the flank of the mech company as planned.

Soviet dismounts on Turn 6, 2 turns late, in front of Neustadt entering into close fire range.  Note how the BMP IFV platoons are in bad shape with a yellow "permanent" 4 hits, and the 6 hits on the other.  This was thanks to great British shooting, but they still to to drop off their dismounts in front of Neustadt to close assault the British 2nd Platoon dug in there.  Note the recce also there helping with shooting.  Turn 7 the British 2nd Platoon had had enough and pulls out with 7 hits.

2 x BRDMs held down a British platoon for the entire battle.  Note the attack going in against Neustadt to the upper right.

So there it is.  Turn 10 and I stopped play.  As your "observer / controller" there are some lessons to be learned here that I wanted to review.

1.  2nd Platoon was asked to do too much on its own.  The Chieftains at the onset of the Battle fell for the bait and immediately engaged the T-62s directly in front of Hill Charlie.  Their use probably should have been incorporated into the engagement area scheme a bit better with pre-planned firing positions that could cover the whole EA with their 40 inch tank gun range.  This was my mistake I believe, as their reserve position was sound.  They should have been able to help against the BMPs as well.  When fighting doctrinal Soviets (I made the attack plan after reading John Curry's "Why Warsaw Pact Tactics Work So Well in Wargaming" article...) every tank gun, every rifle, every ATGM, and every auto-cannon needs to be accounted for and pointing at something!

2. Fall Back position and mission for the Recce was needed.  While the recce Scimitars did their job magnificently, forcing the BMPs to deploy in order to shoot early, they simply ran like hell next to Neustadt Junction instead of Hill Bravo.  This turned out to be fortuitous for the 2nd Platoon, however they should have had a pre-programmed fighting position to move to.  THeir assistance in the counter-recon fight could have freed up 1st Platoon to move to Neustadt.  Which brings me to my next point...

3. British 1st Platoon allowed itself (the controlling player - IE me) to become decisively engaged in fighting the Soviet Recce and should have been moved immediately to Neustadt to support 1st Platoon.  By Turn 10, it is likely too late to defend and it is likely they may have to be used in a very costly counter-attack to recapture the town.

4.  Now that I briefed some issues with the engagement plan, probably best to discuss strengths, too.  The platoon dispositions were solid and I'm not sure I would change any of the deployment of the defenders - just modify where they either fall back to, or displace to.  I would not change the location of the defending platoons, but rather would move the Chieftains up to the opposite side of Hill Charlie so they could range the entire engagement area, not just the area in front of Hill Charlie.

5. The Fire Support Plan was solid, also.  The FASCAM deployment was a great idea and enabled a 3D6 attack roll against each BMP platoon as it crossed over the hill and onto the valley.  This caused a total of 5 hits spread throughout 3 platoons, which were hits that the PBI did NOT have to cause.

6. Finally the force protection measures were genius.  Digging the platoon in, in front of the woods and the town avoided a 4D6 attack from medium Soviet artillery which was undoubtedly coming.  That's a great NATO tactic to emulate in future games.

Now that the game is at Turn 10, there are 5 left.  What should we do?  Reset the forces and try again?  Or try to mount a desperate counterattack to recapture Neustadt with 1st and 3rd Platoons?  

Thanks to everyone who played!  I am looking forward to more TDGs!


  1. Steve, you table looks great and the game scale compliments it and the scope of the action nicely. Really interesting write-up.

  2. Great account there Steve - thoroughly enjoyed.
    Very powerful post for the blog in terms on set-up then seeing the game play out - plus I think the rules have helped very much emulate some of the tactical decisions here.
    The Chieftain is a well designed piece of kit, and I am convinced that British recce is so crap such that they can not do anything stupid, and thereby must focus on doing their job. This seemed to be proven out :)
    OCTW also a great set of rules from Alex - I have put him in contact with our rules-tsar Steve over here - I am convinced that something genius in terms of rules might come out of the burgeoning relationship :)

    1. Cheers Darren glad you enjoyed the battle so far. I felt Alex's OCTW rules would be best for this because I wanted to test a plan and outcomes, not rules.

  3. Cracking idea and great to see the plans ‘in action’. With the Staffs involved it was bound to be a knotty problem... see what I did there? I still think the game is in the balance with the BAOR still controlling the flanks. I would reform the Jocks and send them back straight through the gap between Neustadt and Charlie. I’d also disengage 1 Platoon from messing about with the armed Ladas and pull them back to higher ground. Nuking from space is obviously still an option...

    1. Cheers Jeffers. Nuking from space always an option.

      Okay we'll give it a go and see how it turns out.