MBT: FRG – First Moves Pt. 1 – Scenario 11


Situation

This scenario from James Day’s MBT 2nd edition expansion FRG features a battle between some aging but still respectable equipment of the Soviet Red Army and the West German Bundeswehr.  Two platoons of Leopard 1A4s fight for control of river crossing points against two platoons of T-62MVs from the Soviet 248th Guards Motor Rifle Regiment.

This is the first scenario in the FRG scenario booklet and it’s meant to introduce players to the game. Although intended as a learning scenario for use with the Basic Rules, I am instead using the Advanced Rules. I guess I’m just crazy like that. I’m ignoring turrets (I just find the extra work annoying and not especially worth the simulation value) but using Weapons Malfunctions (because they’re fun and easy to implement) along with Command Span and Command Range. Both sides have a command span of 10 hexes. I’m also using Morale rules.

The unit quality of both types is Seasoned and Excellent. The scenario ends after 15 turns. VP hexes (the bridges and the fords on map 17) and destroyed units count for VPs.

Turn 1

The West Germans set up. I decide to take the south end of map 11 in an effort to deny the high ground to the Russians.

The command phase is basically just a series of move commands for both sides to get them on the board and moving.

The Soviets move first, sending first platoon straight down the middle and second platoon towards the city, hoping to draw the West Germans into a close range gun battle.

The West Germans send first platoon up the road to the east, keeping the tanks tightly grouped together. Second platoon splits off with the first two tanks moving straight up the middle while the other pair heads west to cover the left flank.

Turn 1 End


Turn 2

Spotting Phase

Our 1st platoon of T-62s are spotted in 1P9. A pair of West German Leopards from 2nd platoon are spotted in 11Q2.

Command Phase

a. Determine Available Commands

West Germans have nine units so they get five commands. The Soviets have eight units and also get five commands.

b. Place Commands

Two of the T-62s get a Fire command while the other pair get a Short Halt command. The other tanks move up towards the center of the map along with the command vehicle. (4/5 commands given)

The Leopards get Short Halt commands. I don’t know if they’ll penetrate the front armor of the T-62s at this range (14) but maybe they can get off a couple of quick shots before getting out of the way. The other tanks from 2 platoon maneuver behind the hills. and come around the flanks. Looks like things will heat up there soon enough. (5/5 commands given)

Initiative Phase

The Russians get initiative and declare themselves First Player.

Combat Phase

First Player Direct Fire Step:
1st shot T-62 (14) at Leopard 1A4 (23): Miss
2nd shot T-62 (13) at Leopard 1A4 (23); Hit – Turret Front – Damage Result – Bailout: No
3rd shot T-62 (12) short halt at Leopard 1A4 (24): Hit – Hull Front – KO
4th shot T-62 (11) short halt at Leopard 1A4 (24): (N/A –  Target is already KO) I rolled anyway just to check for Weapons Malfunction and got a 99 (!).

Second Player Direct Fire Step:
Leopard 1A4 (23) fires at T-62 (13): Miss

Movement Phase

Second Player Movement Step:

The wounded Leopard staggers off to O11 and out of LOS of the encroaching Soviet tank platoon. The other two Leopards in 2nd platoon abandon their plans to come west into the small town on 17. Instead, they pull up north and set up on the hillside, hoping to ambush the Soviets coming straight for Kilo-17.

1st Platoon moves in echelon right formation towards the bridge on 17Y5. Maybe they can catch the Russians with their pants down on Map 1. The company command tank (66) moves north a few hexes to keep everyone in command.

First Player Movement Step:

The short halt tanks in first platoon (11)(12) move five hexes south along the road to 17Q3. 2nd Platoon moves nearly to the end of its 10-hex command span in 17F6. Along the way, it claims control over a victory hex – the bridge at 17F3. Our 66 moves south behind the cover of the thick forests on map 17.


End T2 Map

Turn 3

Spotting Phase

West German 1st Platoon has spotted the two lead tanks of Soviet 1st Platoon in 17Q3.

Command Phase

Available Commands: 

W.German  5
Soviets  5

Place Commands:

West Germans place a Fire command on (14) shared with (13). A Fire Short Halt is placed on (11) and shared with (12).

I’m worried about having 66 and my damaged 24 so close to the center of the map. The Russians could come straight through and I’d have very little to hold them back with. Move commands are placed on both.

The final command is an Overwatch shared by (22) and (21).

The Soviets are going to try and push this turn. We place a Fire Short Halt on (11) and (12) and a Move on (13) and (14). (66) also gets a move. Our 2nd Platoon in Kilo-17 is going to try and drive for the West German flank. (21) and (22) share a Move while (23) goes into Overwatch in case the two nearby Leopards try anything funny.

Initiative Phase

W. Germany: 20
Soviets: 49
Soviets win and declare themselves First Player.

Combat Phase 

First Player Direct Fire Step:

T-62(11) short halt fires at Leopard 1A4 (14): Hit – Front/Side – Hull Front – Brew Up
T-62(12) short halt fires at Leopard 1A4 (13): Hit – Front/Side – Hull Side – KO

Second Player Direct Fire Step:


Leopard 1A4(11) short halt fires at T-62(11): Miss
Leopard 1A4(12) short halt fires at T-62(11): Hit – Front/Side – Turret Side – Turret Damaged – No Bail Out
Movement Phase
Second Player Movement Step:
The two remaining Leopards in 1st Platoon pull back south along the road. The command tank (66) pulls back a bit while the wounded (24) does the same. 
First Player Movement Step:
(66) moves up to 17P5 to keep everyone in command while 1st Platoon moves straight through the center of the map, captures the bridge at 17Q5.
T-62MV(22) moves south and captures the bridge at 17F9. It comes under Overwatch fire from Leopard 1A4 (22). Miss!
T62(23) moves south and joins his comrade in 11G10.
End T3 Map

Turn 4

Spotting Phase

The lead T-62MV (14) is spotted while the two tanks of 2nd platoon in 11G10 are also spotted. Leopard 1A4 (22) is spotted while our command tank (66) is also spotted. Oh boy!

Command Phase

Determine Available Commands:

West Germans: 3
Soviets: 5

Allocate Commands:

West Germans put (11) and (12) on shared Overwatch. (66) gets a Short Halt as does (22).

Soviets place Move counters on (66) and (23) as well as a shared Move command on (11) with (12) and (13). (21) and (22) get Fire commands  and so does our 1st platoon lead tank (14).

Initiative Phase

West Germans: 71
Soviets: 59

West Germans take First Player.

Combat Phase

First Player Direct Fire Step:

Leopard 1A4(22) short halt fires at T-62MV(21): Hit – Track – No Bail*
Leopard 1A4(66) short halt fires at T-62MV(14): Miss

Second Player Direct Fire Step:

T-62MV(21) fires at Leopard 1A4(22): Hit – Hull Front – Brewup*
T-62MV(14) fires at Leopard 1A4(66): Hit – Hull Front – Knockout

*I realized later these guys actually did not have LOS to each other. Oh well.

At this point, the West Germans have reached their Cohesion Point of 5 unit losses. It has also lost a command unit.

We check Morale for:
Leopard 1A4(21): 91 OK
Leopard 1A4(24): 32 BREAK
Leopard 1A4(11): 53 HESITATE
Leopard 1A4(12): 76 OK

Movement Phase

Second Player Movement Step
T-62MV(12) moves to 17Q9
Leopard 1A4(12) in 11BB3 fires on Overwatch: Miss
Leopard 1A4(11) in 11BB3 fires on Overwatch: Miss
T-62(11) moves to 17N9
T-62(13) moves to 17P9
T-62(66) moves to 17P8

First Player Movement Step

Leopard 1A4(21) reverses into the woods hex in 11K2. The other vehicles just sort of sit there stunned and wait for the end. Here we go!

Adjust/Remove Counters Step

Leopard 1A4(24) changes from Break On to Break Off

End Turn 4 Map



Turn 5

Spotting Phase

Pretty much everyone here is spotted except the Soviet’s command tank.

Command Phase

Determine Number of Commands

Soviets: 5
W. Germans 2 (maximum 1 Move/Short Halt)

Allocate Commands

West Germans take a Short Halt on Leopard 1A4(21) while the other counter is an Overwatch placed on Leopard 1A4(12).

The Soviets lavishly spend their commands. (11)(12)(13) all get their own Fire commands while (14) gets a Move command. 2nd Platoon shares a Fire command.

Initiative Phase

W. Germans: 06
Soviets: 76
The Soviets take First Player.

Combat Phase

T-62MV(21) short halt fires at Leopard 1A4(21): Miss
T-62MV(22) short halt fires at Leopard 1A4(21): Hit – Front – Turret Front(Rise) – KO
T-62MV(12) fires at Leopard 1A4(12): Hit – Front/Side – Turret Front(Fall) – KO

With only a single Leopard 1A4 here without a command counter, I’m throwing in the towel here and claiming a (Very) Decisive Victory for the Soviets. Presumably they capture the rest of the bridges and fords since there are still 10 turns to go.

Soviet VPs:

7 x Leopard 1A4 (Seasoned): 1,001 points
Capture VPs: 135 points
Total Soviet VPs: 1136 points

Lessons Learned:

I would hope at least one or two lessons would be learned from this shellacking. The most obvious one was to keep your tank platoons working together, moving and aiming for the same objectives. The Soviets found a weak point and moved in quickly to exploit the mistakes of the West Germans, which resulted in the lopsided victory.

I had a plan for the Soviet platoons and although it wasn’t anything spectacular, it was much better than shuffling platoons and tanks back and forth as the West Germans did. The cohesion between the Soviet platoons let them support each other right up to the end – as they did with systematically destroying the W. German 2nd platoon. Of course, the West German 1st Platoon was way over to the east by the time the end came and could do very little but watch.

Finally, I would have to say the Soviets did a much better job of protecting their command vehicle, moving it behind cover. The West Germans didn’t even attempt to do this – they were too busy worrying about keeping their platoons in command range.


Storm and Steel: A Scenario for MBT

This scenario recreates the first scene of a book I wrote called Storm and Steel. It’s about a West German tank company commander’s experience of World War III between NATO and the Warsaw Pact in 1985.

I created this scenario first and then wrote the book based upon the outcome. Since the book has gotten quite a bit of attention lately, I’ve decided to write up the scenario I created and provide it here for free to anyone who’s interesting in trying it.

Here’s some context for the scenario:
On the eve of the Third World War, NATO forces throughout West Germany are rushed to their designated deployment as close as possible to the Iron Curtain.

As part of the 244th Mountain Tank Battalion in Bavaria, Hauptmann Kurt Mohr and the men of 2nd Company are assigned with the rest of 1st Mountain Division to defend the border near Czechoslovakia. They set up in prepared positions to the north of a town called Grafling that lies along Route 11, a highway that leads south towards Deggendorf where a crucial bridge spans the Danube River. If the Warsaw Pact gets enough units across the river, II Corps will be forced to pull back west throughout Bavaria.
Mohr’s job is to delay the oncoming Czechoslovakians by destroying as many enemy tanks as possible before he and his men withdraw south through Deggendorf and then blow the remaining bridge. To get the job done, Mohr has three platoons of three tanks each and a platoon of panzergrenadiers led by the irascible Oberleutnant Muller. The battalion commander, Oberst Donner, has generously provided some scouts and a pair of Jaguar tanks – but he has made it clear that he expects results.
But all is not well in Mohr’s company. He’s at loggerheads with Oberleutnant Schmitt – the hotheaded leader of  Alpha platoon. As a newcomer to the brigade, he has yet to prove his worth to the men under him. On the other hand, the men in the company have been coddled by the previous commander and lack discipline. Mohr is a fresh graduate of the Armor School at Munster, unsure of his own ability to handle all the pressure of a real combat situation.
The scenario I’ve designed here has some special rules to take into account the situation that Mohr faces at the start of the book. It also uses some of the older equipment from MBT to represent the Czechoslovakian forces. Of course it’s not an exact match but some of the units are a close approximation.
Scenario Title: The Defense of Grafling, 5 May 1985
Situation:
The Czechoslovakian 19th Motor Rifle Division leads the Warsaw Pact advance into West Germany. Its task is to advance west over the border into Bavaria and seize a crossing point over the Danube River. Follow-on Soviet and Czechoslovakian forces will provide a second echelon with the objective of advancing west along Route 92 and seizing Landshut by the end of the first day of the war. As the 8th Guards Army hits the US VII Corps, the Czechoslovakian 1st Army will have the vital task of pushing back West German II Corps far enough to allow for a flanking attack on the Americans.
Map: Utilize Maps 7 & 1 & 2

Special Conditions:

When determining the Initiative, The FRG force applies a +20 DRM.
Ammo Limits are in effect.
For Turns 1-3, FRG vehicles apply a -20 modifier when searching for hull down positions
The FRG may employ up to 6 Hidden Unit markers.
The command span for the FRG is 9 hexes. The command span for the Czechoslovakians is 5 hexes.
The FRG force may apply Quickdraw.
The FRG may use one leader to represent Mohr (use Vogel or Wolff) if Leaders are used.
Requires MBT and FRG
Put one of each command in an opaque cup (Short Halt, Move, Fire, Overwatch, N/C). Draw a random command marker when assigning a shared command to a designated tank platoon. This represents Mohr’s personal problems with Schmitt carrying over into a combat situation.
Ignore the two bridges in V7 and DD4 on Map 2.

Setup

Conditions: Normal visibility. No adverse terrain.
FRG  – Force sets up first anywhere on maps 7 and map 1 at least 3 hexes from the Czechoslovakian edge. Two combat units may be placed Hull Down.
Czechoslovakian – Enters the mapboard on Turn 1 anywhere along the Czechoslovakian edge. Units may be delayed for entry on subsequent turn at the player’s discretion but all units must have entered play by Turn 5.

Victory Conditions

Length: 15 turns
Unit VPs – To the FRG Force for each operational Czechoslovakian unit that fails to exit from the FRG Edge.
Unit VPs – To the Czechoslovakian Force for up to the first 14 units that exit from the FRG Edge.
300 VPs Required Victory Margin

Forces

Elements of 1st Mountain Division, Seasoned, 1930, 20, CP-7
2nd Panzer Company (Mixed): Seasoned, Good
1 Leopard 1A4: CHQ (Mohr)
Attached Assets: 
2 x Jaguar 1
2 x TPz Fuchs (These are recon units as per 5.9.2 and 6.1.3.3, etc.)
Alpha Platoon: 3 x Leopard 1A4 (Schmitt)* 
Bravo Platoon: 3 x Leopard 1A4 (Unger)
Charlie Platoon: 3 x Leopard 1A4 (Kessel)
Delta Platoon: 
3 x Marder 1A2 (Muller)
3 x HMI full squad w/ Milan and PzF44
*See Special Conditions
Elements of 19th Motorized Rifle Regiment, Regulars
Rifle Company (Mixed): Seasoned, Adequate 1556, 26, CP-9
1 BRDM-2: CHQ
Attached Assets: 
1 x BRM-1 (recon w/ FO)
3 x MT-55A AVLB
Platoons:
1st Platoon: T-55M x 3
2nd Platoon: T-55M x 3
3rd Platoon: T-55M x 3
4th Platoon: BMP-1P x 3
3 x MR w. RPG-22
5th Platoon: BMP-1P x 3
3 x MR w/ RPG-22
You can download a copy of the scenario in PDF format here. Have fun!
If you’re interested in reading “Storm and Steel”, you can get your copy here.

MBT: The Gap

“The Gap” is scenario 3 from Jim Day’s popular MBT (second edition, GMT, 2015).

The Soviet 8th Guards Army are pouring over the border into West Germany along with the rest of the Warsaw Pact. The 79th Guards Tank Division is given the honor of advancing first into the Fulda Gap, where it meets elements of the US 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR), the Blackhorse Regiment. The cav’s mission – delay the Soviet forces while the rest of the US forces move up towards the border.

In this scenario, the US gets an under-strength Armored Cav Troop. That means we have an M1IP tank platoon (the IP model was basically a slightly upgraded M1 Abrams in terms of armor and electronics) and two pairs of M3 Bradleys along with an M106 for indirect fire support. We also get four recon infantry sections armed with little more than LAWs to deal with the oncoming onslaught of Soviet armor.

The Soviets get a ton of tanks and fighting vehicles. They have an entire reinforced tank company with which to take on the US cavalry. This means four platoons of T-80BV tanks, three platoons of BMP-2s filled with infantry that have RPG-22s (and in one case, a Saxhorn ATGM launcher). They also have three self-propelled artillery guns and a couple of engineer squads riding around in a pair of BTR-70s. They get a BRM-1 reconnaissance vehicle too. That is a heck of a lot of firepower.

The major US advantages lie with the American concealment and prepared fighting positions. Two vehicles may set up in a hull down position while four units can use hidden unit markers (I am playing solo so I didn’t use these). The US player also gets a bonus when searching for hull down positions and a +20 to initiative rolls each turn.

The main objective of the Soviets is to get off the left edge of the map board. The Americans obviously want to prevent this from happening.

Here’s how it went:

Initial US Setup (ignore the errant KO marker)

We’ve got map board 1 above map board 3 here with a village or town on either side of the maps. The game starts up with the US set up and the Soviets off board. From turn 1, the Soviets get their tanks moving while the rest of the company (BMPs etc.) comes on board on turn 3.

One of the great things about the US M3 and infantry cav units is that they are recon units and therefore get their own unique command counters. No need to be within the command span of the US company HQ.

I set my units up with the idea of basically funneling the Soviets through the middle of the map and into the kill zone set up by my M1 tanks. To this effect, I put infantry up on the top of the southern hill in the woods hex under full cover. The M3s are set up on the east side of the hill. I am hoping to hit out at the Soviets as they come on the board and then pull them back over the hill as soon as possible.

To the north of them, I put infantry beside the road to ambush any hapless Soviet tanks that try to dash west along it. To the north of them, set up in Hull Down positions, are two M3 Bradleys. To the west, set up in and around the crops (the crops give automatic partial hull down cover) are my M1 tank platoon.

Further west in the village is an infantry squad and the company HQ tank along with the M106 artillery and an M3 Bradley with a TOW launcher to fire from extreme range.

Infantry and M3 Bradleys set up on and near hill in SE corner of map. 
NE of map: A pair of Bradleys and infantry near the road set up on overwatch.
M1 Tank platoon set up in NW corner of map with CHQ and arty in village

Turn 1:

End of Turn 1

During Turn 1, the Soviet tanks come on board, taking eye-watering losses to long-range ATGM fire from the Bradleys. Three tanks are knocked out by the Bradleys on the hill on the northeast section of the map. A Bradley way back on the western edge takes out another T-80. The pair of M3s to the south miss both their shots with the second one actually incurring a weapons malfunction!

Turn 2:

End Turn 2

By the end of turn 2, the Soviets have lost another pair of T-80s. However, the lead platoon is nearly halfway across the map and has managed a kill on an M1. The M3 Bradleys down near the southeast of the map are in deep trouble. One is killed while the other is in full reverse trying to get away from a pair of tanks rumbling towards it. As you can probably guess, the surviving M3 is the one with the weapons malfunction.

Turn 3:

Turn 3

The Soviets try to use a kind of bounding overwatch to move their remaining tanks forward. A pair of T-80s is pursuing the M3 Bradley to the south, getting dangerously close to being out of the command span (the scenario rules say the Russian command span is 8 but I used 10 here). At this point, it hits me that this is probably a bad idea. The T-80s both fire and somehow both miss their prey.

The BMPs come on board and head west out of the little town nearest their map edge. Due to the trees to the north, the M3 Bradleys cannot get an LOS on them even though they are on top of a large hill.

Turn 4:

The M1s are engaged with a Soviet tank platoon near the center of the board so the Soviet commander decides to just skirt around the southern hill and send the rest of his guys west while the Americans deal with the tanks. This seems like a pretty reasonable tactic at this point. There isn’t really anything that can hurt them that much, right?

Turn 5:

The remaining pair of T-80s manage to both score kills on two M1 tanks at point blank range before being cut down by the Company HQ tank and the M3 Bradley in the town. A pair of T-80s races out of command span and tries to get into firing position near the town while the BMPs make a run across the hill and try to dash off the map.

Unfortunately for the Soviets, the M3’s weapons malfunction is repaired now and it starts killing BMPs. The pair of M3 Bradleys on the northern hill come down and try to get in position to score some kills on the swarm of BMPs as they make their escape. The infantry start to open fire on the nearest BMPs as they roll into sight.

Turn 6:

More devastation occurs as the infantry up on the southern hill start firing off LAWs at the escaping BMPs, scoring a pair of hits. The M3 on the hill pours in GP fire on a Russian squad that has bailed out of its damaged vehicle. Meanwhile, the CHQ and the M3 in the town manage to easily dispatch the T-80s that were attempting to provide cover fire. The swarm of BMPs has been whittled down to a little over two platoons.

The BTR-70s near the center of the map start firing at the M3 Bradleys at close range, causing a bail out result on one. The other is unscratched.

Turn 7:

A BMP manages to kill off the American M3 Bradley in the town to the north. Both CHQs fire at each other at point blank range and miss. The US artillery fire combined with the infantry GP fire and the M3 Bradley on the southern hill massacre two squads worth of Soviet troops, eliminating one and reducing two others.

On Turn 8, the rest of the BMPs and the Soviet CHQ race off the map edge, leaving behind the BTR-70s and (oops!) the 2S1 artillery as well. I have totally forgotten about them and concede them as lost to the enemy by the end of the scenario.

As you can guess, the Soviets lost badly in this one, with the US VPs reaching nearly double what was required for a win (something around 740, I think? – I was too numbed to count).

I had fun with this scenario. It’s really tense and although it may look like a cakewalk for the Soviets just by sheer numbers, it’s really easy to make a bad decision and lose quickly. Up until about turn 4, it looked like the Soviets would just cakewalk through the whole thing.

However, the Americans managed to cause enough problems to effectively hinder the Russians forces as they rushed towards the map edge. I would like to try this scenario again, this time using the Russian artillery more wisely and focusing my firepower just a bit more before rushing forward.

MBT: First Clash

In 1989, Avalon Hill released MBT , a design by James M. Day.  Like its title heavily suggests, MBT was all about modern tank warfare. Set in Germany in the late Cold War period, MBT let players slug it out on a tactical level (100 meter hex, individual tanks and infantry squads) with the latest weaponry of the day. Fast forward 27 years later, and MBT is once again on our shelves – this time around published by GMT.

2016 GMT’s MBT
1987: Avalon Hill’s MBT

With updated maps, counters, and scenarios, MBT has been loving revived and streamlined for today’s gamers. I have never played the original MBT so I’m not sure what the exact differences are between the two versions, but if you’re interested in a comparison, I suggest reading up on this thread over at BGG.

The first scenario from the new MBT is called First Clash. This is a good introductory scenario for new players because it’s vehicles-only. You can play this with just the basic rules set. The advanced rules introduce all sorts of neat bells and whistles like infantry, ATGMs, artillery, air support, and well…just about anything you can imagine.  I’ll try those out in a future report but for now, I’m new to this game and system so I’ll just stick with the basic rules this time.

Setup:

It is September 27, 1987. The Soviet 48th Motor Rifle Division and the 15th Guards Tank Division are fighting against US VII Corps. We’re using Maps 2, 4, and 7 here. The US player has 15 M60A3 TTS tanks fending off the advance of 13 T-72AVs from the 210th Motor Rifle Regiment.

We’re using maps 2, 4, and 7. This scenario is 15 turns long.

The required victory margin is 310 VPs. Controlling the ford at 2D8 yields 250 VP. Another 250 VP goes to controlling 2DD4 and 2CC5. The side that controls both bridges at 2I5 and 2V7, earns 375 VPs. Neither side controls any objectives at the start.

Rolling for setup, the Soviet player ends up rolling lower than the NATO player. He chooses the north side of the board to set up on. The NATO player will set up second on the southern side of the map. Both sides set up within 3 hexes of their respective map edges.

Strategy:

Although it seems like the Soviets have enough tanks here to do whatever they want, it would be wise to keep our ambitions modest and just take the main objective (375 VPs) and just one of the smaller objectives (250VPs).

The Soviet player sees there is a lot of open ground to defend near the two ford objectives on the west side of the map so it may be easier to leave that for NATO and just take the ford in D8 along with the the two bridges.

This would give the Soviets a margin of 375 points at the end of the game, plus or minus the VPs they gain or lose from eliminating tanks from the other side.

The Soviet player will split his force into three components. One platoon will take the bridge in V7, another will take the bridge in I5 and the third platoon will take and hold the ford at D8.

Each platoon will use column formation to get to the objectives as quickly as possible, using road movement where ever possible. Once the objectives are reached, the platoons will be further split with two tanks serving as static defenders on overwatch and the other two tanks used for movement and counterattack against any NATO attempts to reach the objectives.

Although the NATO forces will have the high ground with three big hills near their start area, it would be an extremely bad idea to just rush up our M60s on to the hillsides and try to blast away at the oncoming Soviet tanks. There is plenty of time for the Soviets to get their T-72s into overwatch before the M60s get to the top of the hills and they will be easy targets for the Red Army gunners.

The NATO player decides to focus on seizing the two bridges and any other objectives of opportunity. The rest of his VPs will be gained by destroying Soviet tanks. One team of two platoons will go for the objectives. The other two platoons will be used to maneuver and destroy targets of opportunity. The aim is to use cover, concealment, and quick maneuver between his platoons to keep the Soviets off-balance.  The cluster of woods hexes on the south side of the river on the left side of the map look like very good cover. The town on the south side of the river also looks like a good place to fire at Soviets from close range.

Force Comparison

NATO gets 15 x M-60 tanks while the Soviets have 13x T-72AV tanks. Both sides are pretty evenly matched but it still bears a good look at the differences between the actual tanks themselves.

The most important thing for the NATO player to remember is that M60s should definitely not be treated like M1 Abrams tanks! The M60s have several disadvantages. They are slower than the T-72 tanks (5 offroad MPs versus the T-72’s 7 OR MPs). They have a weaker gun (105mm vs. 125mm) and less armor (48 Front Armor vs. T-72’s 85 Front Armor). Point for point, the M60 is inferior to the T-72AV on an individual level but working as a team and under good command, the M60s should be a very good match against the Soviet tanks.

Before I get into the replay, I should mention how the game plays for those who have never tried it before. Each turn has several distinct phases. The first phase is the Spotting Phase. Basically, players figure out which units begin the turn spotted. After that is the Command Phase where both players secretly allocate orders to all of their units on the map. In the Initiative Phase, both players roll for initiative for the turn and then the Direct Fire phase begins. The first player fires all of his units that have a Fire (or Short Halt) command and then the Second player does so with all his tanks. After that, units on Overwatch can fire at spotted enemy units that have fired. Next is the Movement Phase and the First player moves units with a Move or Short Halt order followed by the Second player who does the same. Finally, in the Adjustment Phase, we do all of our book keeping by removing and adjusting counters, etc. It’s all shockingly simple and it works really well.

Setup

The Soviets set up on two roads on the north side of the map. Team Red-1 will seize I5 while Red-2 will grab V7. Red-3 will take the ford at D8.

The Americans also set up on the roads and split into two teams of two tank platoons each. One team (Team Blue-A) is on the east side of the map and one team (Team Blue-B) is the west side. Blue-A will attempt to take I5 while Blue-B is a tank-killer force that will use the woods and town to conceal their movement in an attempt to surprise any nearby Soviets and kill them.

You’ll note I’ve marked the locations of Command Vehicles. I’m playing the Basic rules here where command rules are not used. I have no idea really what to do with these guys so I’ve decided that they will just sort of hang back from the fighting and try to spot enemy units. If things start going badly enough, they’ll jump in the fray.

Turn 1:

Initiative: NATO
First Player: Soviets
Second Player: NATO

The Soviets move their tanks out towards their objectives while NATO jockeys its forces into position. Team Blue-A advances down the road and hooks left behind the cover of the woods to the north. Two M60 Pattons remain in hex 7L5 to shoot next turn at the Soviet tanks from Red-1 moving west down the road in 2S7.  Team Blue-B advances north towards the string of woods from W1 to Z1.

Turn 2:

The T-72s from Red 1 and Red 2 are spotted by the M60s from Team Blue-A in 7L5 and 7I2. Everyone else is still hidden.

Red 1 splits its commands between Move and Fire while Red 2 does the same. Red 3 will just move up and grab control of the ford in D8.

The M60 tanks from Team Blue-A in 2L5 and 7I2  will perform a Short Halt Fire while the other 3 tanks in H2 will move up and get into position to fire for next turn.  Meanwhile Team Blue-B will move straight towards the Woods to the north.

Soviets roll initiative and decide to be the First Player for the turn.

Direct Fire Phase: 

Both T-72s from Red 1 use their Fire markers to shoot at one of the M60s in 2L5.

Just to demonstrate how AP combat works here, I’ll work out the first shot here for you:

At 15 hex range, we check the vehicle chart for the T-72AV and find that we are firing at Medium range. On our player aid, the AP Hit chart shows that the base to-hit chance for this range is 50 per cent.  We look at the modifiers on the table to the right and find that the large size of the M60 pulls the to-hit chances up one column on the chart to 55 per cent.

The M60 is considered moving due to its Short Halt command and the T-72’s hit chance goes down two columns for a final chance of 45%.

We roll a 28 and the M60 is hit! The penetration for the APFSDS round is 86 at this range, which we compare to the front armor of the M60.  The American tank has a front armor of 48 so the shot penetrates. Since the penetration value is more than 10 points beyond the armor value, we find that the M60 brews up, creating lots of cool and explosions and plenty of smoke to annoy the other T-72 gunner shooting at the other M60 in the same hex (a -2 column shift).

The next T-72AV fires at the other M60 in the hex and misses.

The next two T-72AVs now fire at the two M60 tanks in I2. The Soviets destroy one American tank and miss the other.

Now the M60s from Team Blue A fire back and they both manage a miss. So far, this is not going well for the US.

Movement Phase:

Red 1 and Red 2 both send two tanks to seize their objective bridge hexes and move towards cover after crossing the river. Red 3 takes the ford intact and moves towards the line of woods in 2C6 and 2D6.

Team Blue A tries to pick up the pieces. It sends three tanks to take the bridge at DD4 while the two surviving tanks that were fired at and missed move down the road. Team Blue B moves up three tanks into the woods for cover and the other half of the team moves up on the right flank into the open.

Turn 3:

During the Orders Phase, the Soviet player commands two tanks in Red 1 to fire at the three M60s that are on the bridge in DD4. Those same M60s are ordered to Short Halt (which means they fire and then move in the same turn). Hopefully, the NATO player can take care of those two T-72s and take the Ford to the north for some VPs.

On the east side of the map, Team Blue B is carefully maneuvering into position. Three M-60s are poised to head towards the town to the north where a pair of T-72s have been spotted. One M60 will fire while the other provides overwatch while another will move one hex west to get a wider field of fire.  The Soviets are advancing Red 3 south into the woods and two T-72s from Red 2 are ordered to short halt fire at two M60 tanks from Team Blue B.

The Soviets roll 38 initiative while NATO rolls a measly 11. The Soviets will take First Player for the turn.

In the Direct Fire phase, the two T-72s from Red 1 fire at two of the M60 tanks on the bridge in DD4. Both are hit and brew up.

One of the Soviet tanks from Red 2 fires from 11 hex range at the M60 on overwatch in the woods at 7Y1 and manages a hit after rolling 28. The tank brews up. The other T-72 misses.

During the Second Player phase, one M60 in the woods at 7Y1 fires back at the T-72 that just killed his buddy. The roll is 88 and a miss.

The sole M60 occupying the bridge in DD4 also aims for revenge after the pair of tanks he was with was blown up. We roll a 93 and it is also a miss.

In the Movement Phase, Red 3 leisurely pulls into the cover of the nearby woods and glances to the south in glee at the sight of burning M60s belching thick black smoke into the air.

Red 2 moves its pair of tanks one hex south into the nearby building hex. Meanwhile Red 1 maneuvers around the woods to see if it can squeeze the two American tanks to the west.

The American M60 in DD4 thinks better of being in the sights of two T-72s at short range and reverses back down the road and pivots to face a hulking T-72 only 4 hexes away!  The other remnants of Team Blue-A turn towards a lone T-72 from 200 meters away in the light woods hex.   Team Blue-B has pulled off a miracle and put three M60s in the town to the north without suffering any fire. The tanks are now stalking a pair of T-72s in a building hex very close by.

The command tanks for Team Blue-A and Blue-B are now on the northern slope of the hill and looking over the battlefield.

Oops – I broke the road movement rule by changing the facing of my M60 in hex CC3. Ah well.

Turn 4:

NATO finally gains initiative this turn and takes First Player.

In the Direct Fire Phase, all hell breaks loose.  A pair of M60s open fire at point blank range at the T-72AV sitting in the  woods hex in 2W1 and score a hit.

The lead tank in Team Blue A fires at a mere 400 meters away from a T-72 in 2Y4 but misses.

The commander of Team Blue A fires at 9 hex range at one of the T-72s in 2S7 and knocks it out.

One of the two Soviet tanks sitting in the town hex in 2I3 is destroyed.

Despite firing at point blank range from two positions, the Soviets fail to hit the American tanks (rolls of 88 and 89 – Yuck!).

The Americans try to reorganize the remnants of Team Blue A by pulling the lead tank back towards the two tanks to the south. The M60s in the town creep to the northwest edge for a firing position on the two Soviet tanks from Red 2 on the road to the north.

Meanwhile Red 3 splits its forces and sends two tanks to maneuver behind the M60s from Team Blue B that entered the town just last turn! One T-72 gets fired upon by an M60 on overwatch but it misses.

The two T-72AVs from Red 2 decide not to approach the town after all and instead veer off the road and pull their tanks into the cover of the woods, hoping to gain a better defensive firing position for next turn.

I felt the Americans really pulled ahead in the Direct Fire Phase this turn but the Soviet tanks appear to be in better position by the end of this turn.

Turn 5:

The Soviet player gains initiative and takes First Player. Things could be very bad for NATO this turn as the Soviets have placed a ton of fire commands.

Sure enough, NATO has to cope with the loss of four of its tanks in the Direct Fire Phase. The lead tank from Team Blue A is killed while two of the tanks from Team Blue B that are in the town on map 2 brew up. The third tank from Team Blue B is destroyed in the woods hex in 7X1.

The Soviets only lose one tank sitting in 2I3.

Not really much to do here in the Movement phase. The Soviets rush two tanks from Red 3 into town, trapping the one remaining M60 there. The Americans move up a command tank near the center of the map. The M60 in the town pulls back towards the south. It seems the Soviets are very firmly in control of things and are just mopping up now.

Turn 6:

I’m not sure if the game is going faster because I’m learning the rules or if it’s because everyone on the map is dead…

Anyway, the Soviets sit nice and tight where they are and issue fire orders on most of their guys with the exception of the T-72 in 2Y5, which is on overwatch covering the eastern road.

NATO tanks are all firing at the nearest Soviets. It looks like this turn will be yet another bloodbath.

Soviets get initiative and the T-72 in 2AA8 fires at the M60 in 7H1. We roll a 04 on the AP hit table and the M60 brews up. Team Blue A is down to a single tank.

The T-72 sitting in the town hex in H4 gets an 89 to hit the M60 in the adjacent hex, which mercifully misses due to the AP Hit column shifts due to cover and smoke. No matter. The other T-72 in the same hex fires and kills the M60 with a roll of 11.

The T-72 in 2C1 rolls a 34 to hit the M60 sitting in the woods hex in 7Z1 and manages a kill.

The turn ends with the US player managing a lucky middle-distance kill on the T-72 in 2K9.

Down to three M60 tanks versus the seven Soviet T-72s. This looks pretty hopeless for the Americans.

Turn 7:

Fire commands again all around for the US player. None of the shots hit. None of the Soviets score a hit.  The Soviet player shuffles some tanks around to mop up the US tanks on the map board.

Turn 8:

The three remaining American tanks are assigned Short Halt orders. It’s do or die here and they don’t really stand a chance if they can’t win initiative. There are too many guns focused on too few tanks.

Sure enough, the Soviets win init and claim First Player and then go to work firing with every tank at the Americans. The T-72s on the southeast hill eliminate Team Blue B commander. The tanks in the treeline on map 2 make a medium-distance kill on the M60 south of the forest on map 2. The Soviet tank in 7AA2 hits the final American tank in 7R2. All the US units are gone and the scenario is over well before the 15 turn limit.

Conclusion:

So what went do disastrously wrong for the US player? I think it had A LOT to do with not taking good advantage of the terrain and using overwatch effectively. It may have actually worked much better by keeping the M60s behind the hills and sneaking them out behind cover to fire at the T-72s from long range.  There are some very decent fire avenues available from the bottom of map 7 which could have been used to cover the approach to 2I5. It also could have been used as a lane of advance for other US tanks to get them forward into a flanking position to hit at Soviet tanks holding the positions on the east side of the board.

My tactics were pretty abysmal from the start with both teams but the Soviets at least had a more concrete plan than the US player. I’d be very interested in playing this scenario again with some of the advanced rules and seeing how different the outcome might be.