Today’s game is Lock ‘n Load’s Corps Command: Dawn’s Early Light, a fun brigade/regimental level game that features the Warsaw Pact invading West Germany in 1985!
In this scenario, the Soviets push some divisions down south to crush the Canadian 4th Mechanized brigade and the US 5th Armored Division and take the surrounding cities.
The 4 CMBG consists of two infantry battalions and a tank battalion of Leopard C1s. The Canucks are pretty decent fighters with the best infantry in the game. The Leopard C1s aren’t quite as great as the German Leopard IIs or the US M1 tanks but they can hold their own pretty well. I deploy them in the western area of the map, hoping to set up some clever ambushes in the rough forested area and trap the Soviets in there for as long as possible. Good luck, Canadians!
|Canadians from the 4 CMBG in the west defending against the Soviet 33rd.|
The US 5th Armored Division puts one infantry battalion south in the city of Eisenbach while they set up the rest of their tanks and infantry further up north east. Luckily, the center of the map is covered with rough terrain and mountains, which basically forces the Soviet player to split up his forces with the 1st Guards Tank in the east against the Americans and the 33rd in the west against the Canadians. The Soviets position a token task force of tanks and infantry to guard Stahlhammer AFB in the north.
|US 5th Division in the east defend against the 1st Guards Tank Division.|
For assets, the Soviets pull an airstrike, artillery, gunships, and jamming. They toss out the airstrike marker. With the Americans and Canadians so dispersed, it won’t have much effect on the battle. Day 1 Soviet assets are the artillery and gunships. Their day 2 asset is signal jamming.
The NATO player pulls his assets and gets airstrike, engineers and signal interception. With the Soviets so crowded together, having an airstrike for the first day would probably be pretty effective so I choose it and reluctantly toss out signal interception and the engineers.
Impulse 1: Initiative – NATO 3.Soviets 2
Canadians move into the bushes in the west and start setting up traps for the Russians to fall into. The airstrike marker is used and the Canadian infantry calls in a nice USAF A-10 strike which hits some of the assembled Soviet infantry up north. The Americans get into position in the east and wait…
The Soviets rush down south. In the west, they manage to inflict light casualties on the Canadian infantry. In the east, the 1st Guards start engaging the US tanks but take some heavy casualties from defensive fire.
Impulse 2: NATO 3, Soviets 1
Airstrikes hit the main artery of the Soviet thrust to the east this time, hammering away at the 1st Guards. M1s open up and start taking out lots of T-72s. I will later regret not giving the Canadians the use of the airstrike instead. The US infantry gets into more favorable terrain to tighten the noose.
The 4 CMBG starts taking heavy casualties from the sheer amount of Soviet armor and infantry pouring into the woods. They give as good as they get, however, inflicting losses on two tank and infantry regiments from the Soviet 33rd Mechanized.
The Soviets attack the US 5th in the east and manage to cause light casualties, reducing an M1 battalions and an infantry battalion. So far, things have not gone well for them in the east.
|The Canadian infantry punishes the Russians for every gain they make.|
Impulse 3: Soviets 5, NATO 4
The Soviets start slowly slipping through the Canadian lines in the west. Tanks make it to their flanks in dribbles. A half-hearted tank assault on the beleaguered Canadian infantry is repulsed.
The 1st Tank Guard manages to inflict heavy losses on a battalion of M1s in the east. Otherwise, the Russians stay put.
NATO airstrikes again help the Canadians out in the woods to the west, reducing a Soviet tank battalion to heaps of molten metal.
The Leopard C1s finally get in on the action and inflict serious losses on some isolated Soviet tanks that try to sneak around Canadian lines. An attempt to pull out the 4 CMBG infantry battalion which has taken so much punishment is rebuffed by command. I desperately need them to hang on for as long as possible.
The US pulls back a heavily depleted M1 battalion and it is sent to the rear for defense and/or repair and resupply.
Impulse 4: NATO 4, Soviet 4 – ties go to NATO
NATO player hopes that commanders will allow the Canadian infantry to pull back and lick its wounds (translation: I’m hoping for a low activation number here). Much to my astonished frustration, the request is denied and the Canucks are yet again ordered to stay there and defend. The least I can do for them is call in airstrikes, which destroy a Soviet infantry battalion.The Leopard C1s take out more sneaky Soviet tanks. I just can’t believe how much punishment the Canadian infantry has taken and it’s still managing to hold on by a thread. Whoever is in charge of this whole operation is just plain cruel for forcing them to stay there.
The Russians manage to focus all of their remaining strength for a push on the Canadian line. I had feared for this for a long time. The line collapses completely and all the infantry (two battalions worth) are surrounded and wiped out in a single blow. Soviets from the 33rd MRD start streaming down south. My poor poor Canadians. At least I still have the Leopard C1s.
|Soviets break through the Canadian lines.|
The US 5th Division fares much better in the east. The initial defensive fire on the Soviets at the beginning of the game reduced enough units so they couldn’t bunch up on the American forces. It’s a stalemate.
Day 1 Night NATO 5, Soviet 3
Night falls and the Canadian Leopard C1s race down and try to interdict some Russian infantry motoring south. They fail to inflict any losses.
The Americans hope for resupply and refit but nothing is available. The Soviets realize the Americans will try to reinforce the western area and start to move their units to block them off. None of the Pact regiments is resupplied either.
The Soviets get fresh assets. Artillery is assigned to day 2 and gunships are available from Day 3. NATO assigns German Territorial units and gunships to day 2 and airstrikes and even more gunships to Day 3.
Impulse 1: NATO 5, Soviet 4
The Canadian tank battalion calls in AH-1 Cobras which decimate a Soviet infantry regiment. The Americans call for a second gunship but it’s unavailable. The Leopard C1s move into defensive positions to stop the rest of the Soviet advance from the northwest. The US 13th Air Cav moves in from the west, giving the Canadians a much needed break and some reinforcement. They spread themselves out pretty thin.
The US 5th Division hammers at the Soviets in the west, reducing some infantry and tanks but at this point, it’s like trying to fight off a swarm of bees with a sledgehammer.
The Soviets take care of the Canadian Leopards with some well-executed coordination of infantry and tanks. The Canucks are now completely out of the game but they did a great job of using a small force to hold off massive numbers of Soviet tanks and infantry. The rest of the 33rd MRD streams southeast towards the cities.
In the east, the 1st Guards Tank Division sends down a couple of regiments of tank and infantry to try and take the city of Eisenbach.
|The Soviet 1st Guard Tank slips some tanks down south past the US to take Eisenbach.|
Impulse 2 NATO 4, Soviets 3
German Territorial units are apparently on their way to reinforce but where are they? Lost? Dead? The NATO commander tries to get them on the radio to no avail.
The US sends a regt. of tanks to deal with the Soviets who slipped through and are threatening Eisenbach. Gunship requests are all met with affirmatives and the AH-1 Cobras deal out some real punishment to the poor Russians in the east. Meanwhile, the 13th ACR starts motoring around the west, setting up hit and run attacks. The Russians lose quite a bit of momentum from these tactics, which are hard to adjust to after the yesterday’s Canadian tactic of “stand and die”.
|13th ACR tries to stem the flow of Soviets in the west.|
Soviet infantry and a recon brigade enter the town of Jungweiler, raising the hammer and sickle above the town hall. Tanks pour in a bit later to beef up the Soviet presence. The rest of the 33rd steams towards the southern cities, hopefully to help with an attack on Eisenbach. The Soviets start hitting Eisenbach, inflicting terrible losses on the defending American infantry.
Impulse 3 NATO *6* – Broken Orders. Only Germans activate. Soviets 4
The Soviets open up with artillery and gunships on Eisenbach, quickly destroying the infantry and tanks defending it. By the afternoon, the Russians have Eisenbach. They also capture Nassebruck and Mittelbaum. The Soviet formations in the east locate the 13th ACR elements and smash them ruthlessly with the aid of Mi-24 Hind helicopters and massed artillery. Schneiderberg falls to the Russians soon after.
Only the German territorials can activate. They finally wander on to the battlefield hoping to cause some problems for the 33rd MRD and maybe take back some of their cities. They get on the road but don’t get very far before the next impulse.
Impulse 4 NATO – 3 Soviets – *6* Broken Orders: 33rd only activates
The Germans rush toward Schniederberg and score some hits on the defending Soviets.The Americans slowly start clearing the Russians out from around Eisenbach. Soviet gunships inflict damage on the German territorials.
|Soviet gunships and infantry hit the Germans whle the US tries to take back Eisenbach.|
Night impulse Pact – 3, NATO -3. Pact Signal Jamming causes NATO reroll: 3
NATO moves its forces closer to Eisenbach, trying to take the city back. The remaining 13th ACR unit tries to get down to help the German Territorials at Schneiderberg but they get hung up near Mittelbaum. The Soviets use artillery to continue the fight through the night, devestating the German Territorials.
Impulse 1 NATO 1, Pact 4
The Soviets get down to Mittelbaum first and reinforce it before the 13th ACR can go and make a mess of their plans. The US player uses airstrikes and gunships to damage the Soviet infantry in Eisenbach but they just can’t seem to destroy them.
Impulse 2 – NATO 4, Pact 6 – Broken Orders – 33rd only activates
The Americans finally destroy the Soviet infantry in Eisenbach and move some tanks into the city! The 13th ACR reinforces their success.
The German Territorials are finally destroyed outside of Schneiderberg.
Impulse 3 NATO 4, Soviets 3
NATO reinforces Eisenbach with more tanks. Not great for defending a city but it will have to do. The Russians attack from across the bridge and are repulsed again and again. Defensive fire takes its toll. Soviet infantry attacking the city is destroyed in a hail of defensive fire. It’s not pretty.
Impulse 4 NATO 2, Russia 4
The Russians are just unable to get any offense together. The Americans stay in Eisenbach and the game ends.
Soviets get +1 VP for victory cities +1 VP for destroying 11 NATO units -1 VP for losing 9 units from the 1st Guards for a total of 1 VP, which gives them a small but respectable victory.
The Soviets would have fared a bit better by knowing their limits and not pushing so hard to take back Eisenbach at the end of the game. It really was a Stalingrad kind of battle where the more men and tanks that were sent, the more that were eaten up. The 1st Guards Tank division bore the brunt of that vain attempt and the Soviets paid for it with a victory point.
I should have followed my own advice that I always give and saved NATO’s signal interception asset instead of the airstrikes. The airstrikes on the first day were fine but NATO’s high activation numbers meant that I couldn’t juggle around the defenses with the Canadians or rotate any units to the back as they got hit. That meant a “stand and die” approach which just didn’t last long enough. I genuinely felt a bit bad at the way things went for those guys in the west as they were wasted in their defense just as badly as the 1st Guards were in their offense at the end of the game.