Ah…1985. It was a year filled with good movies (Back to the Future, Out of Africa, The Goonies), good TV (Miami Vice had just finished its first season and The A-Team was in its prime), and good music (Springsteen’s Born in the USA became the bestselling album of 1985). But on some alternate branch of reality in the LnL universe, all of that came to an abrupt halt on May 14th, 1985. Instead of “Morning in America”, we all got “Midnight in Europe” almost exactly 40 years after WW2 had ended.
In LnL’s “Heroes of the Gap”, the Americans are trying to stop the Soviets from steamrolling through the West German town of Eisenbach at the start of WW3 in the summer of ’85. All of the scenarios take place during the first day of the war, allowing players lots of different ways to play out a deadly modern conflict in one small but vital scrap of land.
“Back to Basics” is a scenario that takes place on the evening of the first day of the war. The Soviets have mounted assault after assault on the town of Eisenbach and the surrounding areas but have not managed to completely eliminate the American presence there. Exasperated by the tenacity of the American soldiers, the Russians send in some infantry from the 33rd Motor Rifle as well as elite Spetsnaz soldiers to clear out the town and seize key buildings in Eisenbach.
This is a terrific starting scenario for any player because the forces consist entirely of infantry. There isn’t even any ordnance in the scenario so it’s a straight-up shoot out between both sides.
Here’s how it played out:
The Americans set up in a large factory near the center of town. Lt. Moore starts in the upper floor with a squad that has an M-60 and a 40mm grenade launcher. On the lower floors are Capt. Boone and his men, whose job it is to prevent the Soviets from infiltrating this building and taking out Moore’s defensive position.
North of the factory are a group of Soviets from the 33rd MRD. Capt. Sarukin is in the building surrounded by 2-3-4 squads.
To the west of all this is Col. Meade and his small band of men who will try to prevent the Soviet Spetsnaz from approaching from the west side of town.
Of course, Sgt. Trinov and Lt. Ilyanich have tons of Spetsnaz nearby with RPKs. They will rush the Americans the first chance they get.
We start off with Capt. Sarukin and Lt. Moore trying in vain to spot each other but they’re apparently using the wrong end of the binoculars.
Lt. Ilyanich sends out a squad to get near Col. Meade, with predictable results.
The Soviet squad is shaken up badly but this opens the way for another squad to be sent out a bit later in the turn.
The Soviets come under fire from the Americans but the fire is completely ineffective and manages to produce a Soviet hero, Drago, a veteran of the Afghanistan war who is determined to win against these soft capitalists.
Sgt. Trinov continues the attack versus Col. Meade’s position…
Trinov’s Spetsnaz infiltrate the American position and completely eliminate them.
Meanwhile, Capt. Sarukin has been sending his men into the large apartment building just south of his position. The Americans (with the Maneuver counter) are surrounded.
Col. Meade and his awesome mustache are barely hanging on. The Soviets activate and although Lt. Ilyanich is not successful in shaking up the Americans, it is no large matter. Drago and some men will take care of it.
The Soviet veteran and his men pour into the building. Drago strangles an American with his bare hands. Someone throws a grenade and there is screaming. Blood is everywhere. And suddenly it is all over. The American position is gone.
Activated by Lt. Ilyanich, Sgt. Trinov goes next and does not hesitate to follow suit. The nearby Americans shout in surprise as the Soviet Spetsnaz advances like lightning.
Trinov and his men completely eliminate the adjacent American soldiers.
The Americans in the nearby apartment building decide to take the initiative. They cannot back out so they decide to melee on their own terms.
The Americans eliminate the adjacent Soviets.
The apartment block has become a hotly contested building as the Soviets and Americans start pouring more and more men inside it.
As the Soviets advance from the west into town, the American defensive position in the factory changes a bit. Clearly the US will have to defend the building from two directions. This is not good.
and eliminate the lone American unit.
The apartment block up north becomes the scene of more bloody fighting as the Americans take out another of Sarukin’s squads along with Yuri, the Soviet hero.
Both the Soviet and American squads are eliminated in the ensuing melee.
Drago, our veteran Soviet hero, rushes towards the apartment block to stem the tide of battle over the apartment complex…
An American sniper fires at Lt. Ilyanich but narrowly misses him when he suddenly tilts his head down to light a cigarette. “Who says cigarettes kill you, Ivanovich?! Mine just saved my life!”
The Soviets gain initiative and Lt. Moore and his men rally.
However, the 2-3-4 Soviet squad in the floor below rushes up the stairs throwing grenades and spraying bullets everywhere. A big metal barrel of industrial solvent explodes, setting Soviets and Americans alight. When it all dies down, the Soviets have control and no Americans are left alive.
Our US sniper fires at Drago and rolls a miserable “3”. Drago turns around at the direction of the shot and snorts in contempt.
The apartment complex is the site of yet more melee as Drago jumps into the fray with a US 2-6-4 squad. They are both eliminated.
Sgt. Trinov and Lt. Ilyanich work together as they near the factory. Capt. Boone and his men fire on an approaching Soviet squad, which gives Ilyanich a chance to flank the US soldiers.
Ilyanich and his men eliminate Boone and the rest of the Americans in melee. Sgt. Trinov and his remaining squad take the buildings south of the factory for even more victory points.
Turn 5: With one remaining American squad in the apartment complex, Sarukin simply sends one Soviet squad to wrest control away from the Americans.
Conclusion: What a butt-kickin’! The Soviet Spetsnaz with RPKs are pretty much unstoppable in melee, especially if the US spreads out their troops. I probably would have stacked the Americans more tightly to prevent being overrun. Lots of good melee rolls by the Russians also helped. I think in this particular scenario, once you start losing as the Americans, it is very very difficult to come back. In any case, all the house-to-house fighting provides lots of excitement and, as I mentioned before, the infantry-only nature of the scenario lets you focus on the tactics rather than worry about any other rule sets such as air units, artillery, vehicles, etc. This is my “go to” scenario when I’ve had a long day at work and I just can’t force myself to crunch too many numbers or try to remember lots of different rules.