Corps Command: Dawn’s Early Light – NATO Fire and Movement

This is (probably) my final article dealing with strategy in LnL’s Corps Command:  Dawn’s Early Light.  As I mentioned in my previous post, the key to Soviet victory is finding a NATO weak spot while maneuvering your other units around the other defenders to either prevent NATO reinforcement or to protect your own breakthrough elements.

For the NATO player, there are some essential points to keep in mind in order to successfully defend against a Warsaw Pact invasion.

The first point is setup and formation.

Setup Advice:  Where should the US player set up?  In the first scenario, the US is tasked with defending the southern sector of the board.  The West Germans get the north part to defend.   The amount of clear terrain from the board’s eastern edge to the city of Eisenbach poses some real problems.  American reinforcements take a long time to get to the front and the US doesn’t have many units to use as defense.  Even with an activation number of 5 (6 MP), the US reinforcements will take at least two impulses just to get to Eisenbach.  By the time they arrive at the front further northeast, the battle is usually already lost for the Americans.

To help with reinforcement issues, the Americans should set up far forward to the northeast of the city of Eisenbach and then slowly pull his forces back towards the Soviet objective.  As the NATO player, always try to make the Soviet units come to you.  Not only will this take away the ability of the Soviets to use their recon units and artillery assets in assaults, but the Soviet player cannot use gunships to hit units that are not adjacent to his units at the beginning of his impulse.  A slow backwards moving defense removes the Soviets greatest advantage by taking away assault bonuses, which keeps your own units alive much longer.  By the time your units have pulled back to the Soviet objective and are defending it “Alamo style”, your reinforcements should be arriving to save the day.

Formation:  There are several possible defensive formations that the US can use in its defense.  Let’s examine them and the possible advantages and disadvantages.

Line:  The most common formation for beginning players to use for American defense is the line formation.  The line formation looks exactly as it is described.  The forces are lined up across the map and the defender rushes at the line in an attempt to break it.  The major disadvantage is that the attacker is going to find a weak link at some point and a good attacker, as already stated, will easily exploit the space between units to prevent movement and reinforcement.

Vee:  In a vee formation, units on the flanks are kept forward while units in the middle are moved slightly back.  The formation looks and acts like a “catcher’s mitt” and the hope is that the enemy will go straight for the middle of the pocket and get hung up there.  The problem is that a smart attacker will go straight for the vulnerable flanks, surrounding them and quickly destroying them.  Probably not the optimal defensive formation.

Diamond:  In the diamond formation, the flanks are kept back and the middle units are sent forward slightly.  A rear unit hangs out behind the friendly forces, ready to reinforce damaged units or catch enemy units that slip through friendly lines.  For a variety of reasons, the diamond formation is probably the best formation for a defender in DEL to adopt.  Although it’s not invulnerable, it’s versatile enough that units can easily move together and support one another if friendly NATO units starts taking serious damage.  And since the key to defense in DEL is to keep it mobile, this is a great formation to adopt.

US units in diamond formation.

In the picture above, the player is defending in a good spot, not too far from Eisenbach where it’s hard for reinforcements to reach but not so close that the city is in imminent danger.  The US has created lots of problems for the Soviet player, first by using the US Cavalry Squadron not as an attachment to existing forces but rather as an additional independent force that can project friendly ZOC.  He (or she) has also kept one of the armored battalions from the 2nd brigade sitting back in reserve to prevent a breakthrough should any of the Soviet units be successful in destroying the American units.  They can also use those tanks to reinforce any units in trouble or they could even rotate out a damaged front line unit and move those tanks in as a replacement.  The tanks can even rush back and reinforce Eisenbach in the lower left if there’s a real sudden emergency.

Focus:  This brings me to my last point, which is fire focus.  For the Soviets, concentrated firepower is everything.  Damaging a NATO unit is extremely difficult and if it’s only damaged and not completely destroyed, little has been gained for the Russians.  NATO has the opposite problem.  Completely destroying Soviet units is all well and good but there are always more units on the way.  The best thing the NATO player can do is to spread out their damage to slow down the Soviets.

When Soviet units take damage, they actually lose initiative, which means they don’t activate as often and that, in turn, means they don’t attack or move as often.  The more units that are damaged, the less units you’ll have to deal with trying to break through or sneak around your units and that makes your job much easier as the defender.

You’ll find that even though you can’t stop the Soviets, you can control the pace and direction of their advance with smart placement and movement and this, along with good use of assets, is the key to NATO victory in Dawn’s Early Light.

Happy Hunting!

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