World at War: Eisenbach Gap – Maelstrom

OOB:  US Alpha, Charlie, and Delta teams.  USSR gets 33rd MRD and 1st Tank as well as two Mi-24 Hind helicopters from the 69th AHR.

Soviet Objective: Move 6 units from south to north off the map. 

Setup:  I set up the Americans on the hills overlooking the approaches to the south. I don’t like putting the Chaparral so far up front but it’s no use to me if it’s sitting safe in a city somewhere while my units are getting destroyed by Soviet air.

Infantry from Charlie and tanks from Alpha set up a trap for the Russians.

I put Charlie on the hill to the west with a Dragon AT weapon. Alpha HQ and the SAM sit on the hill to the east. And to the east of that lies the rest of Alpha Troop. The Bradleys would normally be out of command range but since they’re Recon units, they can act independently even when they’re pretty far from their HQ.

Game Start: The Soviet 1st Tank Division charges along the west edge of the map taking light fire from Charlie but otherwise practically unopposed. The 33rd Soviet MRD enters from the southeast and takes some minor hits from Alpha but it looks pretty good for the Russians so far. With only a token force sitting in the west to deal with the 1st Guards Tank Division, the NATO commander must shift west to stem the tide. Turn 1 and NATO is already in trouble.

The 1st Guards Tank Division storms up along the west side of the board.

While the US commander repositions Alpha, the 33rd Motorized Rifle Division appears along the east side of the map, hoping that with the rest of the American units tied up in the west, he can make a run for it.

Soviet Hind helicopters enter the map and conduct pop-up fire from behind the hills to the north. The Chaparral and the Hinds play a deadly game of hide and seek. The Hinds win, however, and destroy the American SAM launcher.  They also manage to disrupt some other units of Alpha on the same hill.

Delta finally enters the map from the northwest on the second turn. As the 1st Tank Division moves north towards certain victory, Delta’s M1 Abrams tanks park in the woods near Schlafendbauer and start laying on the fire, quickly reducing the Soviet units to wreckage. I have serious doubts that it will be enough to stem the tide.

A lonely handful of tanks from Delta tries to stop an avalanche of 1st Guards Tanks

The Hind helicopters, now practically unopposed by anti-air, swoop behind a hill to the south and start firing AT missiles at Alpha. They destroy Alpha’s HQ and the Abrams platoon with it.   However, they get far too close to Charlie on the western hill and get disrupted and eventually destroyed by ground fire.

Pure carnage:  Soviet Hinds destroy American Chaparral  and Alpha HQ.

Meanwhile, the Soviet 33rd Motor Rifle Division slowly advances up the east side of the board, taking occasional but deadly fire from an M3 Bradley to the west.  It’s just enough to delay them from escaping off the board.  Every time they inch closer to the north side of the board, they get hit by opportunity fire and are disrupted again and again.

In the west, Delta really lets loose. Charlie is eaten up and spit out by the 1st Guards Tank Division.  However, in the next three turns, the 1st Tank Div. activates only once while Delta activates six times! The American tanks fire again and again in full “Alamo” mode. Half of the 1st Guards Tank division is destroyed. This is quickly turning into a death trap for the Soviets but they might pull it off if they have some luck and can get an activation early in the next turn.

Delta hangs in there and still holds off the 1st Guards Tank Division.

But no, the Delta Dogs get two more activations right away and pulverize the Soviet 1st Tank Division. At this point, the Soviet commander wonders how much punishment his men can take before they reach the breaking point. The 33rd Motorized Rifle Division in the east manages to sneak off five units but with the west side of the board a total cauldron of American firepower, the Soviet commander concedes defeat. There will be no glorious linking up with the Third Shock Army to the north.

If the Russians had managed to get a few more activations or if the Hinds had been less cocky about their ability to take fire from infantry and been more careful, it might have been a very different outcome.  It was tense even right up to the last turn!

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