Team Yankee: Autobahn Defense


Since I’m enjoying Team Yankee so much, I thought I’d write up a quick post so you can enjoy some nice pictures of my awful model assembly and painting skills and see how this game plays.  In this scenario, I’ve designed a quick defensive battle between two small forces. Here we have the Soviets with:

3 x T-64 tank company

1 x Soviet Motorized Infantry Rifle Platoon

versus:

2 x M1 Abrams tanks

2 x Canadian Lynx Recce armored vehicles

The NATO side sets up first with the objective located at behind the group of trees located near the roadside. The Soviets will enter their tanks on turn 1. The infantry are reserves and must be rolled for each turn to see when they enter the game.

Turn 1 – Soviets

We roll for reserves and get a lousy “1”. The infantry will not be coming on the table. The Russians send their three tanks on the east side of the playing area at tactical speed and in echelon left formation. Only one of the T-64s has a valid LOS to the Abrams tanks.

Rear view from the Soviet tank platoon towards NATO positions.

The T-64’s shot hits the closest M1, but bounces off the front turret armor.

Turn 1 – NATO

I definitely want to keep the Canadians hidden from the Soviet tanks, so I send out my Abrams to flank the Soviet approach.

M1 Abrams movement

Both Abrams fire. One shot hits and glances off the turret armor of the T-64. A Bail-out result is achieved.

Turn 2 – Soviets

We roll for reserves and get a “5”. Wow! Much to the surprise of the Americans, the Soviet infantry comes on board and heads straight toward the nearby American tanks. The Russian tanks try to drive clear around the enemy flank on the other side.

T-64s about to fire on American Abrams tanks. Soviet infantry closing in for the assault.

The Russian tanks all manage to miss or for the shots to be ineffective.  It is up to the Russian infantry to complete a successful assault.

Both Abrams throw out a ton of defensive fire but only manage to take out one team of infantry. The rest of the platoon surrounds the American tank. Two of the RPG teams manage a hit on the side skirts but the Chobham armor keeps the Abrams alive. Only a lucky charge by a Soviet infantry team manages to kill off the tank.

Turn 2 – NATO

The remaining Abrams pulls back toward the objective and fires on the nearest T-64. The Lynx recce vehicles come out of hiding and lay down a thick stream of .50 cal and 7.62mm fire at the approaching Russian horde.

The Lynx vehicles manage to take out two Russian RPG-7 squads while the Abrams manages a kill on the T-64.

We’re in big trouble!
BOOOM!

Turn 3 – Soviets

It is do or die now for both sides. The Soviets commit totally by sending their two tanks straight toward the objective while firing at the sole remaining Abrams tank. The Soviet infantry races across the road towards the Lynx vehicles.

Unfortunately, for the Americans, the Abrams is hit and destroyed by tank fire. The two Lynx vehicles manage to whittle down the assaulting infantry force to nearly half its size before being overwhelmed by RPG and grenade fire.

The result is a total loss for the NATO forces.

Team Yankee – Counterattack at Ludermund

One of the battles in my newest book, “First Strike” features a battle between elements of an American task force facing off against a Soviet counterattack near Ludermund. Without giving too much away, the US sends three combat teams to reclaim two bridges just north of Fulda City, near the towns of Hemmen and Ludermund. One element of the task force deals with a Soviet counterattack to try and retake Ludermund. This battle, using Team Yankee rules and miniatures, is loosely based on the story.

It’s okay to laugh.

So the very basic terrain I’m using is a mixture of the 2D cardboard houses and concrete walls provided with the Hammerfall starter set. The top of the photo is east and the bottom is west. The starter scenario uses a similar setup but I’ve modified it a bit to make it slightly more interesting. The first was to use the seam between the tatami mats running through the middle of the picture as a road.

The Soviet objective in the middle of the picture is right in the middle of the town – the Soviets are attempting to recapture it. The little piece of dark material in the lower left is rough-going terrain and the lighter colored pieces are rocky hills.

The left boundary of the battle is marked by the American objective marker and the right one is marked by the seam of the tatami mats.

The Americans start at the western edge of the layout. The tatami seam here represents the Fulda River. It is impassible to both sides.

Looking west toward US position.

The Soviets have three T-64 tanks and they set up to the east of the town. The Americans and Soviets roll a d6 for initiative and the Americans win. One of the Abrams tanks actually has LOS on the Soviets to start with but the enemy is just beyond the 1 meter range of the Abrams’ 105mm gun. The Americans close the distance with a tactical move toward the nearest house, hoping to find some concealment and blast the Soviets as they move in. The Soviet commander obliges, bringing his tanks straight west. One of them catches a glimpse of an Abrams and fires but the shot goes wide of the mark.

US on the left. Soviets on the right.

Things start to happen very quickly from here. The Americans push into the town and start firing at the encroaching enemy tanks.

The Abrams manage three hits on the enemy tanks. Despite that, the 105mm rounds cannot penetrate the hull front of the T-64s. The Soviet player needs a 3 or greater to remain unscathed and all three rolls are enough to shake off the incoming rounds.

“In Mother Russia, tank drives YOU!”

The Soviet commander decides to move two of his tanks up into cover while one of them remains stationary and provides covering fire.

T-64 tanks move behind cover of building.

The Soviet tank at the rear misses. The Americans decide to push it, seeing the opportunity.

US tanks move in and start shooting.

The Abrams pop up right behind both Soviet advance tanks. One of them fires and manages a hit that kills the nearest T-74. The other Abrams goes for a close range shot against the Soviet tank that was providing covering fire. Unfortunately, both rolls miss. Sigh.

BOOM! BOOM! Both American tanks are nailed by the two remaining Soviets. Game over.

Conclusion:

Wow! Promise me son, not to do the things I’ve done. Get behind cover if you can. The Americans had an unlucky break at the end, but they basically deserved what they got. Instead of using their mobility to get behind cover and shoot and scoot, they went straight for the enemy and wrapped up in a kill zone. There wasn’t too much cover in this setup but the buildings were definitely enough to try out some honest-to-god tactics that would have increased their chances by a whole lot. Let’s try that one again with a smarter approach.

Update:

So I tried this again and even threw a Soviet Air Assault Company into the town to even up the points a little for the Soviets (even though they didn’t need it last time).

The result this time was an American win, thanks to better use of cover and cross-country dashes to force the enemy into splitting up their forces a bit. The Americans did take some potshots from the infantry as they came into town and an RPG-18 round managed to disable one of the Abrams. The other Abrams avenged its death, taking out all three T-64s to garner a US win.

Abrams taken out by an RPG-18 hit near Ludermund.
The aftermath: Our lone Abrams manages three Soviet tank kills for a win.

Team Yankee – Hammerfall



Team Yankee from Battlefront Games of New Zealand is a World War III miniatures game set in the same world as the novel published in 1985 by Harold Coyle. The series offers players the chance to battle out the fate of West Germany between NATO and Warsaw Pact forces on a dinner table.

Of course, like Warhammer 40K and the like, there’s always the aspect of assembling and painting your chosen army, so the game becomes a hobby in itself. If you have the time and the $$$ to spend on that sort of thing, you’re in luck – the game’s Hammerfall starter kit will get you hopelessly addicted to help ease you into the world of Team Yankee, or as my friends call it, “Plastic Crack Cocaine” for middle-aged guys. I’m joking of course – I have no friends.

Rules

For those who aren’t well acquainted with the rules set, the game is played in an IGOUGO format. One player moves his units, then shoots, and finally assaults. Then the opposing player does the same.

Movement is pretty straightforward. You can conduct two types of movement with your units – tactical and dash. Units that conduct tactical movement can fire in the firing phase. Those that are dashing can move a greater distance but cannot fire. Distance is measured along the tabletop with a standard tape measure.

In the Shooting Step, the active player calls out targets and rolls a number of six-sided die equal to their unit’s ROF. Hits are achieved on the target if the rolls are equal to or greater than the target’s “To Hit” number. This can be modified by things like concealment or being within command range of your own unit. In an interesting twist, the opposing player can attempt to “shift” the hit die to a nearby target within enemy LOS as if the firing unit had mistaken their target.

Checking Line of Sight is a What You See is What You Get affair with players getting down to their unit level and trying to gauge what their unit can see. Units with more than half their base behind some form of terrain are concealed and therefore harder to hit. Anything less than that is not concealed.

The effect of hits are determined by, yep, you guessed it – rolling six-sided dice. If the sum of the opponent’s Armor Value plus the die roll is greater than the Anti-Armor value of the firing unit, the active player need only roll his weapon’s Firepower number or greater to destroy his target. Otherwise, the result is a Bail Out and the affected unit must make a Remount check at the start of its turn to get back in the game.

The game is fast-playing, especially with such a small number of units, but it is fun. The lack of opportunity fire rules creates some weird situations sometimes where tanks are driving into close range of enemies then opening fire. I found the rules very simple and easy to learn and if you’ve ever played MBT, you’ll likely agree. In fact, I think you could easily use MBT’s rules here if you can adjust the scale properly. I’ll have to try it and see how it works out.

Although the Team Yankee rules set is based on the popular World War II minis game, Flames of War, this game has a few notable rule changes.

The biggest difference this time around is the hardware – in FoW, moving and shooting with your tanks was done at a considerable penalty to RoF. In the 1980s world of advanced gun stabilizers and laser rangefinders, there really isn’t a benefit to sitting still and shooting with your tanks. For this reason, Team Yankee is much more a game focused on movement and outflanking your opponent.


Hammerfall

There’s a lot more to what I have described above but these are the basic concepts you need to know in order to play the base game starter set, named Hammerfall.

This box set includes two M1 Abrams tanks and three T-64 tanks. You need to assemble them and, if your heart desires, paint them up. There’s a smattering of terrain included in the box – flat cardboard houses, concrete dividers, and hedgerows. These don’t look amazing on your table but they do allow you to play the three scenarios included in the game’s “Start Here” book.

The Team Yankee rulebook is included with the set. It’s in full color with nice illustrations and photos but at my age, I found it a little hard to read the small print and opted for the hardcover version at a larger size.

I was a little disappointed that decals were not included for the plastic models (or at least they weren’t in the box I received).

Assembly

Assembling the tanks was very easy – even for a klutz like me. There are extra pieces included if you want to do up some variants such a mineplows or if you would rather build IPM1 tanks instead of the classic M1 Abrams. You can also choose to go with closed hatches or have a commander poking out of an open hatch of your tanks.

As a side note, I had a hard time gluing the M1 side skirts on and I’m not sure if that’s because of my inexperience or if other people had the same issue. Once or twice, they’ve come off on me during a game and I’ve had to glue them on again.

The T-64s went together very smoothly and I found out here that it’s best to take an “assembly line” approach to your tank building rather than making one model at a time. It’s much quicker to do it this way and you can quickly apply any lessons (or mistakes) you might have learned from assembling your first tanks.

Painting

Because I don’t have a hobby shop near where I live, I resorted to buying the Team Yankee paint set directly from the Battlefront store. I don’t have a lot of time to mix and match my paints to find the right color so having the paints ready to go was really nice. I only have the Soviet paint set at this point so I’ll talk about that.

The paints are quite thick and you might need to use a thinner, especially for your basecoats. I tried the thicker basecoat and had a few smears but they worked out with a second layer and some touch-ups here and there. The tank surface details really came alive with a wash of Ordnance Shade and I was pleasantly surprised at the results.

Finally, I dry brushed Soviet Green on the tank to finish it up and the result was much better than I expected. The last time I built a model kit was back in the 1980s so I really had no idea what I was doing here and I am pleased with how the tanks came out. Well – beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Overall

I really like the quality of the Team Yankee products. It seems Battlefront has really committed to pleasing their customers with a wide range of armies and units along with full-color rulebooks and guides for helping people assemble and paint their models. The demo videos I watched on the website were invaluable for understanding the flow of the game. I find some of the prices on things like terrain to be a bit too high, even though they do look nice and seem to be well-built. The rules isn’t particularly deep but it looks beautiful on a table and it does give you a feel of platoon-level modern combat. As I said before, I’d love to try this with the MBT rules to see how it works.