Tuesday, 16 May 2017

LARIAT ADVANCE!


This Sunday, after nearly a year's prep and planning, summed up here; we finally got together at the Uni to stage our Team Yankee LARIAT ADVANCE campaign game! As Soviet commander, you'll forgive me for not taking too many photos once the Red Storm was unleashed!


Somewhat in the manner of a Firestorm game, 4 linked games were played out over two 12 x 6 foot tables, each faithfully recreating adjacent valleys in the Fulda gap. All of the hills you see on these two tables are accurate scale models purpose made by Bryan!


We had 3 players and a commander to a side, which left one table with 2 players each controlling a 100 point formation, and one player on the subsidiary table, also with 100 points. Next year, hopefully with more players, we will have 200 points per side per table!Above, the southern valley from Grusselbach to Hill 629, the subsidiary table; and below the Rasdorf - Eiterfeld axis, the main event for each of the two games.


We started with an overall briefing before starting each game's team briefing: L-R Colin, Soviet, Philip, Daniel, Stephen and Bryan; all NATO players, Reese and Dan, Soviet, along with me.


As well as being the NATO commander, Philip had a role as overall game manager, with god like powers to position and remove objectives, and weather events, to keep the campaign interesting - the only thing I asked for, for a 'historical' outcome, was for the Soviet offensive to still be underway at the start of the second game!


We deliberately used relative scale cut outs blown up from maps to portray built up areas, both to give a sense of place and to give the 'tank car park' moaners something to think on - ground scale people!


For the first game, played up the first 6 foot of table, Hasty Attack, Reese on the right had a Soviet tank force, with orders to advance cautiously through the tracks in the hilly wooded terrain for 3 moves, until the early morning Ground fog (night fighting rules) lifted...



with the US forces having thermal imaging, if we stuck to the wooded hills, no matter how frustrating, the only threat we faced for the first 3 moves was air cover, so we would keep our AD assets well forward. And use plenty of 'Cross Here!' orders!



His comrade Colin, also on Table 1 had a Motor Rifle force, with orders to seize and hold Rasdorf itself, but form Bronegruppas with the empty BMPs lining the forward edge of the woods to dominate the open ground with Spandrel fire. Dan on table 2 was also to maximise covered approaches, but rely entirely on missiles...



and infantry assaults to do the business, once the fog lifted.


Stephen for NATO fielded a US Armoured combat team...



his oppo Daniel having a US Mechanised team. All their teams started the game 'disoriented' (bailed out or pinned, but not for unit morale purposes) from the massive initial Soviet artillery bombardment using Army and Corps level assets...



which lifted just prior to game start. Below: Stephen, Colin and Reese:


On the subsidiary table, Philip supervises Bryan's NATO deployment in 'Dust Up' - NATO Mechanised attempting to hold off Soviet Motor Rifles led by Dan.


All players were asked to bring one or more 100 point forces, already knowing which would be on table and which in reserve. Each commander rolled all the reserve dice, and allocated the reserves from each force to any force he felt was in most need or able to make best use of it!



Given the scope of the game, players were forgiven for representing flights of 4 or 6 aircraft with just 2 models and a dice on the stand representing the phantoms.



Because of the large tables, air assets seemed to last longer than on a standard 6 x 4...



Each commander also had access to a strategic reserve, committment of which in extremis would forfeit any chance of victory for that game, the best outcome possible being a draw. NATO choose a flight of 4 Cobras, and 4 PAHs. For the Warsaw Pact I choose 7 x T-72s - not because they were the most effective option, but because relying on yet more tanks to stave off defeat seemed typically Soviet!



Anyway, I wouldn't need them, would I comrade!


As soon as the last echoes of the thunderous heavy rocket and 203mm gun bombardment died away, dozens of diesel engines cranked up and the Soviets crossed the Inner German Border, nose to tail along the forest tracks, heading for the shell shocked US infantry...


The black makers show that not all of the US armor and artillery crews had managed to reorientate themselves from the destructive whirlwind of blast and shrapnel by move 3...


But the NATO team were confident - so confident their ambush consisted of 4 VADs - our HIND flight just got bumped down the reserve priority list!


Daniel's hard pressed US Mech force, facing the sharp end of Reese's river of T-72s, was grateful for even the assistance of just the solitary M1, the rest of the platoon covering the broad swathe of BMPs lurking in the wooded hills across the valley...


On the Grusselbach table, Bryan's mechanised infantry were also under pressure, from Dan's counter part motor rifles, who were threatening both NATO objectives which Philip had helpfully placed just across the IGB...


However, whilst his reseves were able to turn up in good time to stablise the situation, over on the Rasdorf table, the Soviets were poised for a breakthrough, leading NATO to commit its strategic reserve: the flight of 4 Cobras...


And 4 PAHs.


But anyhow by turn 3 NATO reserves were pouring on, Philip throwing no less than three '6D6's out of three!


All this was blunting Reese's advance just within spitting distance of the objective!


Whilst over on the Grusselbach table Bryan's reserves had also seen off the hide tide of rampaging Motor-Riflemen. So despite all the hard fighting and dogged advance through the challenging hilly terrain, the result of the first game was a draw on both tables!


Time to regroup, brief and set up for the next game! The players would all move around slightly so that as many players as possible got to play on both tables. Once again, using covered lines of approach would be key on table 1, but there were no obvious terrain factors obviating the NATO advantage in firepower on table 2...



So I nominated Reese, as my most experienced and aggressive player, to represent the might Warsaw Pact on the Grusselbach - Hill 629 table.


At this top end of the table the table was far more open - ample room for his Tank formation to manoeuvre, but also plenty of opportunity for NATO to set up kill sacks - it would be a challenging game....Reese would just have to trust to good old fashioned 'shock, fire, and bold manoeuvre' to get up close and personal!


particularly as he was up against the even more experienced Stephen, also with an armored force, augmented by artillery assets, primed with the deadly Copperhead laser guided projectiles!



Reese set up his attack well, with one T-72 company sneaking into the cover of Maesbach to set up a crossfire against the M1 platoon skulking in the trees beneath Hill 629, destroying an M1 early in the piece...


Whilst manoeuvering his other company attempting to make as much use of the limited cover as he could...



- but to no avail, as salvo after salvo of Copperheads relentlessly whittled down his formation to the point where the formation was broken...


Things weren't going much better on the Rasdorf table. Advancing through the forested hills had worked well up to a point, but, having once again committed their strategic reserve, NATO air power was much to the fore, including a somewhat improbable 4 ship RAF Harrier flight, here represented by F111s, in support of an Aussie force. A list containing Aussies and USMC had been discussed, but no mention of them having RAF Harriers, nor tracked Rapiers in support!



Together with massed Milans and Leopards, they made a potent force! I know the British MOD is generous, but I doubt they would have been lending scarce RAF air assets to the US sector at a time like this! It pointed to NATO desperation! Certainly our 4 massed companies of BMP hordes must have looked threatening, but  for our part the objectives appeared layered in NATO armour and infantry...










There was only one thing for it - with a defeat on one table, and NATO now looking at a draw - I decided to also commit our strategic reserve, to at least make a game of it and actually seize an objective - none of which had actually yet been taken! The T-72s were able to surprise, outflank and destroy a platoon of M1s which had been themselves threatening a Soviet objective guarded by a lone BMP, but were ultimately picked off by massed Milan and Leopard fire, still some way from the objective...So another draw on the Rasdorf table!



So overall, Game 1 was drawn on both tables, and Game 2 saw a draw on one table and a
NATO win on the other: 1-0 to NATO!

A terrific game, hard fought, exciting, and excellent company all round - a fitting end to all the preparation and planning.

Looking forward to next year's LARIAT ADVANCE! game already!

Monday, 8 May 2017

LARIAT ADVANCE! Prep for our Team Yankee mega game

0300 hours, Sunday 4th August 1985. Private 1st Class Larry ‘Lamb’ O’Brien surreptitiously reached into the depths of his ruck to pull out his Sony Walkman – at least an hour before stand to, the Old Man had just gone off around the Team’s position, and every other dude in the platoon was racked out. If the Army was going to screw him around with yet another dumb ‘Lariat’ fricking ‘Advance’ alert dragging on and on, well, he was entitled to  mess around too – besides he needed some rock chick soothing …Plugged in, Nena’s haunting lyrics picked up the mood…

99 Düsenflieger
Jeder war ein großer Krieger
Hielten sich für Captain Kirk
Es gab ein großes Feuerwerk


Apart from the Captain Kirk bit, he was baffled, but it sounded good, and she sure was hot…



Holy Shit! What was that! As jet fighters boomed overhead, Nena’s sweet vocals drowned out and Sergeant Polk appeared from nowhere and unceremoniously ripped the Walkman, earband and all, from a stunned Larry and shoved him back to the Track:


 GET ON THE .50 AND LOCK AND LOAD YOU DUMBASS!

For our first attempt at a Team Yankee campaign game, a type of firestorm campaign game, I've long thought that the Fulda Gap, southern Germany, would provide a great source of large scale scenarios, with its many parallel valleys, all potential Soviet axis of advance, providing ample opportunity to stage seperate but linked games...



My mate Bryan has translated these into onto maps to give us four 6 x 6 foot scenarios, which will be laid out over two parallel 12 x 6 tables.



The first game will consist of two linked scenarios over the first 6 foot into the two tables, then depending on the outcome, a further two scenarios moving into the top half of the tables:


The game will be held at Wollongong Uni this Sunday, 14th May. Yes I know, some dimwit picked Mother's Day for an all day wargame - yeah, that would be me! Whereas we had hoped to attract players from far and wide, my major planning bubu means there will be only 7-8 of us. But if its a success, we will learn from this mistake and make this a regular annual event - kind of like the NATO exercises themselves!


One thing we have done right is our research though, its great that Team Yankee can now give some sort of point to all the reading I've done about WW3 what ifs...



Although the sources on the Soviet side are very conflicting, depending on their period and perspective. It seems the Soviet Army was either a useless paper tiger, with crap equipment and fed up, ignorant conscripts, or an unstoppable force armed with superb technology...perhaps deciding what would have happened had the unthinkable occured is part of the fascination?



Anyhow, the Team Yankee orbats and stats seem to take a middle of the road position, and if sometimes its a challenge playing the Soviet side, at least you get a lot of toys down on the table!



The Soviet team will have 300 points accross the 2 tables in the first wave, dependent on each scenario's reserve rules - the units with a green flash will be on table first. followed by a 20 point Regimental Artillery Group in the second wave. The Guards Independent Tank Regiment will only deploy in case of dire emergency - it's use concedes any hope of victory!



The NATO force has a similar number of points, again many of their platoons being placed in delayed reserve, but all NATO ontable units will start the game either bailed or pinned down, as a result of the overwhelming Soviet artillery and rocket barrage which will initiate the war...the onus is on the Soviets to make ground fast!


Obviously with a game of this size, terrain will be an issue! But Bryan came up with the idea of simply printing out enlarged town images from the maps...


Which will save a lot of bother! So for the rest of the week the armies are gathering - more to follow after the action!