Thursday, 29 December 2016

Game 49 - Able Archer (playtest)

So, with Game #50 approaching, and a possible re-fight of the Rapid Fire game that we played in Game 1 (Lingevres '44) as celebration, I tried to find the modern rewrite of RF dedicated to Cold War stuff (thanks for this Steve - as I had lost the file). The idea here was that we might alternatively consider a modern RF game for #50.

Able Archer has been used by some groups (check here and I believe 'the guild' have done some massive games.)

I don't have enough stuff ready in 20mm, though the Blickheim Ridge scenario based on Ken Macksey's First Clash has great appeal, using Canucks vs Soviets in WWIII. Must expand the collection a little...

So we used my 1/300 stuff to get a feel for the rules before doing something bigger.

Changes to the main rules:
  • We played this as 1:1, but with caveats; i.e. a platoon of Soviets could fire at a single target.
  • Although units would roll individually, the results were also individual, so unit on unit action was relevant. In addition, this meant that Soviet doctrine of firing platoons vs single tanks could be used, and that we dispensed with the light/heavy damage option and went instead for morale checks at 50% casualties.
  • We used hexes to regulate movement and range, which meant that Soviet platoons were restricted to deploying in a single hex. US units could deploy across multiple hexes.
  • Soviet units could only fire-move in the turn. US units could fire-move or move-fire.

I based the scenario on an old 'Team-Yankee' scenario (no, not that one, the GDW one). Unfortunately, I reinforced the Soviet armoured battalion with a full battalion of infantry. That proved a bit decisive in the end. The M1s were therefore up-gunned to M1A1s with 120mm (Class 1) guns. This made them 'super-tanks' , at least until they got outflanked or taken out by Hinds.

Red horde on the start line.

3 klicks and closing...

 Red Air...ready to engage.

The US uses its available sorties early on to stem the flow on the right flank.

The Soviets have less sorties, though these are nevertheless effective enough to do some serious damage on the US left (despite some excellent rolls for Local Air Defence)

Sensing a breakthrough on the Soviet right, the commander releases the reserve, which rushes toward the flank.

The US holds on their right...

...and in the centre.

While the A10 hangs about, making a nuisance of itself and ignoring the Red AA threat. If only it had had more sorties.

Even while the US left collapses, and Soviet infantry and armour surge through the gap.

A US infantry platoon holds the farm
The right holds, with poor morale rolls making the Soviet thrust think twice...

The Apache emerges from NOE in the woods and engages in order to hold the left flank until armour can reinforce, although AA fire eventually drives it off.

The Soviet centre assaults the farm at company strength.

ITVs and US infantry fare poorly and move to the rear.

The US left is open, with armour being outflanked by the Soviet reserve.

The company on the US right, which has deflected the Soviet spearhead, re-positions itself. 'Engaging new targets,!'

...until it has to absorb a Soviet infantry assault, without US infantry support...

It's all over, as Red units flood into the centre and are about to take the town.

 The sun sets, with only burning vehicles and fleeing units to tell the tale...

I seem to remember two schools of thought from WRG days.
Soviets: keep a reserve and use it to exploit breakthroughs.
NATO: keep a mobile force and expect the unexpected. Keep moving units bak to prepared positions.
The Red player listened to this doctrine on the day...the US simply got overwhelmed, with the best use of a Soviet exploitation reserve force yet seen.

Great game, and the rules are straightforward and really help tell the narrative. I can see how this would be epic in 20mm. No matter what, we must do more Rapid Fire, whatever the period.


  1. Sounds like a great game, looks intense and beautiful!

  2. Thanks Phil. It certainly got exciting toward the end.

  3. Duc,

    Fantastic! Great looking game, and I really enjoyed reading that batrep. Even though the wrong side won ;)

    I need to take a look at these rules. I've recently gotten a Cold War, armor heavy hankering, and I was looking at Cold War Commander.


    1. *break break break*
      Hey Jack - I've played CWC and had some really massive games with it and with no shortage of excitement. (I played a NORTHAG breakthrough scenario against the Brits and a Golan Heights 1973 game with a brigade-plus of Syrians slicing into a battalion of Israelis.) The addition of ATGM and the more potent AFVs really adds a different dynamic to the game apart from BKC. I feel that I enjoy CWC more than BKC.

      Going up against western MBTs, it's hard for Ivan to win in CWC but not altogether impossible as long as you get clever about massing fires where you want the breakthrough to happen. Looking forward to seeing some of your games.

    2. Must try CWC. I like what I'm hearing here.
      (...and yes Jack, the wrong side won, but only because I was playing Ivan BWOOOHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAH!)

    3. Cool, glad to hear of your success with CWC, Steve. I'd had some good WWII games with BKC, but fell away from it for some reason.

      And Duc, if you're THAT good, you could outmaneuver you're opponent but have him/her leave thinking, and your batrep reflecting, the fact the right guys won! I do it all the time ;)

      Hope that sorry attempt at humor wasn't too convoluted, and Happy New Year!


  4. Darren,
    Excellent job! I love the narrative and watching the battle unfold and I love how RF handles large hordes of units. Yeah, US units have to break contact and move to win. They can't defend in place, especially against a TB/MRB combination with only a company team defending.

    How did you dispense with Light/Heavy damage for MBTs?

    This was really a great write up and looks like a fantastic game. Even though you're on the other side of the pond, I'm sorry I missed it :)

    1. Yes, I was hoping you might ask me that.
      So, conventional RF and Able Archer use a single die-roll on a vehicle (representing a platoon), resulting in light dmg, heavy dmg, or destroyed once you get a hit.

      I fired each hex by platoon, ie. a Soviet platton would roll all three dice (one per vehicle) on the A/T table and get the number of hits. I made the M1 armor slightly tougher than it is on the table also. Any penetrations result in hits 50% of the time - so say 2 d10s hit, then roll those again, and 1-5 is a kill. Anything else is an ineffective hit.

      Although I have dispensed with the variable damage, it doesn't really matter, as the firepower of the platoon would reduce with hits (i.e. no of dice rolled by no. of vehicles taken out).

      I'd like to get the hit down to a single roll by playing about with range modifers, so that you don;t have to roll twice, but really it was just tinkering with the rules.

      There was also a visual reminder of the platoon's status (or half platoon was possible with more flexible US forces), since vehicles were being hit and destroyed.

    2. That's interesting and sounds like a real time-saver. Your tinkerings usually result in time saved IE your snappy nappy color coded dice scheme :)

      That's interesting and sounds like it would be more visually appealing on the tabletop than markers on scores and scores of tanks representing LD or HD. I like this! I have to try it!

  5. Great AAR and some nice 6mm kit on display. Not a big fan of RF for WW2 but seemed to have worked ok for moderns ?

    1. It was definitely interesting yes. Actually, since the game today, I've been thinking that FOBWWII might also be perfect for it LOL. (Post up soon)