Saturday, 17 November 2018

First Shots in Krasnovia – Attack on Objective Blue


We’re receiving reports that Task Force Eagle, recently sent to Krasnovia as part of a UN peacekeeping force, has engaged well armed rebel elements in the area known as ‘Contact Valley’. There are reports of heavy casualties on both sides, but as yet, we can not definitively confirm numbers. …over to Jackie, reporting direct from Krasnovia, where she is embedded with the Task Force…

Thanks Mary…Yes, I can confirm that an armored battle has occurred, here in the area known as Kontakt Valley. There have been casualties, and I was able to see some of the Task Force’s vehicles, being hit by long range fire. I can also confirm, what appeared to be the presence of enemy air elements in the area. I do not have confirmation on numbers but I can quote one Major as saying:

 ‘the first shots have been fired, and we don’t take kindly to being ambushed, but the situation here has escalated quickly…it’s our job to respond to that and contain the situation to the best of our ability’ ...though I have edited the actual statement a little for family viewing, Mary…

‘We are also receiving reports from the Southern Krasnovian statelet, who have recently been accused of aggressive action toward the Republic of Parumphistan, that US missiles have been used and special forces have been spotted along their border. The State Department has made no further comment on this.’

Eagle’s first engagement is based on the presence of a supposed enemy laager in the area of Kontakt valley. With three avenues of approach, the US player had seemingly every opportunity to outflank the Krasnovian OPFOR. However, the Krasnovians had a few tricks of their own up their sleeve, not the least of which was the dreaded ‘RedAir’, which had not previously been spotted – and is clearly hidden in a local cave complex. The laager was simply a ruse to draw UN forces into a situation whereby they could be blamed for starting a war…

Attack on Objective Blue (Battalion sized) - Rules are Alex's 'Oil Cheaper Than Water' variation of 'Up the Blue', a variation of the 'One Hour Wargame'

(From book, and pencil drawn op plan discovered blowing across the desert floor afterward...)

B Co: 3xPlts Bradleys + Inf
C Co: 3xPlts M1 Abrams
A Co: 3xPlts Bradleys + Inf
D Co: 3xPlts M1 Abrams
E Co: 2 x ITV Platoons = Command vehicle
Scout Platoon: 1xPlt Bradley + Inf
Mortar Plt: 1xPlt M113+4.2”
Air Defence Plt: Vulcan Plt
Engineer Plt: 1xPlt M113

(This scenario is based on Chapter 2 of  The Taking of Hill 781; An Allegory of Modern Mechanised Combat, J.R. McDonough (Presidio Press 1988). Said work is based on the author’s experiences at the National Training Centre in the 1980s, and is a modern pastiche of the classic The Defence of Duffers Drift

Krasnovia is the fictional name used for the Training Area/Fictional Country at Fort Irwin in California. In 2005, this switched from armour/mobility readiness to more focused anti-insurgent style training in light of middle eastern conflict zone preparedness.)

5am, and US elements reach Contact Valley. OPFOR forces are dug in and have most assuredly spent time preparing defensive measures.

‘Hot prepared rations or MREs, sir?’   ‘there’s no time for such matters (despite that elusive +1 morale for avoiding MREs…I expect comments here gentlemen 😉  )

Doesn't MRE stand for Meals Rejected by Everyone?

Some early problems with some of the vehicles moving toward CP1

By 1445 – deployment is confirmed.
B Co, leading with dismounts, would spearhead along Axis RED, with M2s and C Co tanks.
A Co., leading with dismounts, would conduct feint along Axis WHITE.
D Co to pause, then commit as required.
All to orient on Objective BLUE.
E Co to cover advance from south of CP2.
Scouts to secure line of departure. Smoke on same road.
Poor intelligence from the get-go.

3xPlts BMPs
2xPlts Tank
1x Mortar Plt
1xAT Platoon
Dedicated Artillery…

As units close on checkpoints 1 and 2, OPFOR obstacles become visible, closing off the access to the canyon.

Artillery falls on E Co, ensuring that ATGM cover is limited during the US advance. This damned OPFOR know what they are doing (they read the book 😉  ). Then mortar platoon begins to take fire.

 Obstacles covered with OPFOR infantry.
 Communications interference from the hills, or are the OPFOR jamming…and OPFOR scouts are within sight of the US Line of Departure.
 Alpha nears CP1 – and picks up its own share of OPFOR arty.
Engineers clear the obstacle – and Alpha moves forward…

ADA teams gone in the artillery strikes, Bravo wants to head for CP2…but the pass is strewn with mines and wire, and an anti-tank ditch.

At last, enemy T72s and BMPs revealed – up to their gun tubes in prepared positions – revealed when they fire, and take out, friendly units. Bradleys being taken out in droves in the enemy tank-bush.

…with more at CP4. Reducing this takes casualties on the engineers.

Dug in OPFOR infantry with RPGs, guard the slopes.

US bring in an air-strike.

OPFOR have moved back to Objective Blue.

‘Red Air’  engages targets…as the ADA team is nowhere useful.

Eventually a breakthrough toward objective Blue. It is ultimately captured, but at a heavy cost.

Lessons Learned (echoing chapter 2)
Intelligence is intelligent.

Use the specialist units -they’re there for specific reasons

Stay on target…

Focus on the pivot point, don’t prevaricate on the edges…

Thanks Jackie…and in other news, Prime Minister Jeanette Davis has confirmed that a UK Task Force is to be sent to troubled Krasnovia as part of the UN effort to reduce tensions in the country. General Winston Hildebrand Smythe is up next… We also understand that Prime Minister Speedeau of Canada has mobilised the Canadian ‘Readiness Brigade A (Eh?)’ for deployment to the area...

Colonel J. G. 'Hammer' Harris considered what had happened. He had been suckered, and he didn’t like being suckered. He had lost soldiers, and would have to tell their families how they had died nobly, for a cause, in a distant land which no one had really heard of. He puffed on the long cigar and drew in the smoke, resisting the urge to cough, and sighed. 

This would not happen again, he told himself, and if he didn’t like what he was being told to do next time, he’d remind himself that the only real allegiance owed, was to the Almighty…and the men and women who served under him. Just because the government governed, it didn’t make ‘em right all the time. He drew long from the cigar again...and watched the smoke from the last of the brewed up armor floating skyward...

(See ‘Force Eagle’s War’ by The Gamers in 1990 , if you really want to ruin the surprise of what is inevitably going to happen here ...and apologies Canada).

Monday, 8 October 2018

Team Yankee - no, not that one...

I was keen to get some of the superb 1/285-1/300 vehicles that I'd bought from Jack on the table, and I had so many T-64/72/80 variants to choose from, that a 1985 Sov attack was clearly in the offing.

Now I have wanted to try Cold-War-Hot with Alex's excellent modern version of 'Up the Blue', expanding the one-hour-wargame format, though I'd prefer to do that when I have vehicles suitably based to provide frontages.  The US vehicles were my older based items in this case, while the beautiful OPFOR is part of the package from Jack.

 (I stole the pipe cleaner idea from's a miniature TOW firing, honest!)

So what better way to get blooded - (1) at least a smattering of the new vehicles and (2) a cheap game mat that I coloured in...with crayon ...ahem... than to use the superlative original 'TEAM YANKEE' (no, not that one...the GDW one), which may become the subtitle of this excellent boardgame for the rest of its life.  Now Steve has done a lot of work on 'miniaturizing' this game in the past, and I used a quick ref sheet based on his work (but I've lost the original file, so pic below).

We also changed the morale rules - rather than have them focused on the commander, but made companies, then battalions, 'stall'/fall back on basis of rolling vs losses. We wanted to keep things simple - so no arty or choppers for this run.

Now I'm also keen to try Dunn Kempf and Contact, as they both have superb fire and movement and artillery rules - and are true old school, but they still need a little work for M1s and such on my part.

This one, not the other one! (Every box is suitably battered. I believe that part of the packaging process was to have the box ride around in an M1 Abrams during a Reforger exercise in the 80s. Bearing in the mind the protocols for buttoning up during chem strike simulations, you need to be careful as to what might be inside ;) ...joking, that's a joke, really...  )

 OPFOR deploying...

...on the hastily coloured in terrain.

Kontact Comrade! 

M1s on a reverse slope...oops

Target rich environment.

 Look closely, squint, and make a phisssssssh...BAMF! noise for maximum effect.

 M1s reveal their positions across the board. Now they have a plan, and multiple phaseline redeployment positions.

Low rolls are good in TY. There were a lot of them here as the OPFOR closed to range.

A few Dragon ATGWs in there too.

On the US right, the main assault is supported by the reserve and the infantry company.

...which only leaves a tank company on the US left. What is Ivan up to?

1st platoon fire/move their way back to the larger hill as ATGWs provide overwatch.

 2nd platoon stays exactly where it is on the US left. Its view across the battle field is obstructed by some woodland however. The OPFOR will exploit this.

 OPFOR dismounts move to take the town, and reduce the US position there.

 ...while armour moves around the open flank. Like a lethal game of chess, the US player is forced to choose between flanking armour and the presence of BMPs with lethal saggers moving on the ridgeline to their front. Clearly, they had not spent enough time preparing the killing zone!

 The OPFOR move on both flanks simultaneously, meaning that the US can not provide mutual support.

M1 fire discipline convinces what's left of the OPFOR tank company to pull back - just in the nick of time.

As 1st platoon pulls off the second ridge to form up on the tree line below. Too many saggers...
 Here they come! OPFOR infantry and armour masses on the ridge.

 ...and moves into 1st and the remnants of 2nd platoon, who have moved to the road junction to provide a blocking force. (Now - we argued here that Dunn Kempf would have given us more realism with falling shot, while not allowing OPFOR guns to depress enough...clearly too much sugar taken.)

OPFOR units tumble like ninepins to defensive fire.

2nd platoon save the day.

 Horrific losses on both sides, but the town is held.

 The quick ref sheet used during the game. Ranges are doubled - i.e. 10 hexes becomes 20". Not always necessary to do this of course on a smaller table, but the games works beautifully with minis.

The OPFOR will return ...with scenarios from this epic work. Most likely, I'll uses Alex's 'Oil Cheaper than Water' (modern 'Up the Blue' variant) rules for these scenarios.  And of course, since it's the National Training Centre scenarios, we'll have to go all Mojave Desert. Watch this space...