A Man and a Plan: General Bernard Rogers and FOFA

Since my last book, “Storm Scarred Banner” was released a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been busy with a game design project. Although I can’t say too much about it at this point, I can tell you that it looks at the large-scale events in the book series from a broad top-down perspective.  To that end,  I’ve been conducting research and deepening my knowledge of the wider issues of a Third World War fought in the 1980s.

One of the more interesting ideas I didn’t know about until yesterday was that of FOFA or “Follow On Forces Attack”.

In the 1980s, NATO was trying to figure out the best way to stop the Soviets from succeeding with a conventional war in Europe. Knowing that Soviet doctrine relied on the echelon system, where successive waves of troops would be thrown into battle time and time again, the new NATO strategy came to be that of hitting these successive waves from the air as they came up to their staging areas behind the front.

General Bernard Rogers, who was SACEUR throughout most of the 1980s, was a major proponent of this concept. General Rogers, a force of nature in military circles back then, was  concerned with the overwhelming advantage in numbers of men and tanks that sat behind the Iron Curtain. Despite NATO’s unquestionable technological superiority, Rogers seemed concerned that it was not enough to deter or stop the Warsaw Pact from gaining the upper hand in a conventional fight.

Despite falling out of favor with Washington and forced to resign over comments related to the withdrawal of Intermediate Nuclear Forces in Europe, Rogers’ FOFA concept was held in esteem by many military thinkers at the time. To read more about FOFA and how it would have been put into practice, check out this study project paper from the US Army War College in 1990. Very interesting reading.

Storm Scarred Banner Released!

A week ago, I uploaded my latest book, “A Storm Scarred Banner” to the Amazon Kindle Store. Since then it has taken off along with the rest of the books in the “Tales of World War III: 1985” series.

The title comes from the lyrics to the Norwegian national anthem, from the line:

“Rugged, storm-scarred o’er the ocean. With her thousand homes”

I thought that was quite stirring and lovely. The effect is almost visceral and the story of how the country was forged through battle and peace was appropriate for a novel of this sort. The banner, of course, refers to the red banner of the Soviet Union and the Red Banner Fleet.

I think this is one of my better works in the series because it looks a little more closely at the soldier’s lot in a war. There are no superheroes in this book – just men trying their best to survive in their current situation.

Inside The Soviet Army

One of the best aspects of writing a book like this is expanding my own knowledge and understanding of how the Soviet and NATO military doctrines worked, from the divisional level to the level of the individual soldier. I tried to touch upon this in the first book of the “Tales of World War III” series with three short stories that looked at such a conflict from different scales. The reviews I read of the book showed that some people “got” what I was trying to do and some people didn’t, which is fine too.

The sources I’ve used for these books include games, magazines, and books. My current favorite book on this topic is Victor Suvarov’s “Inside the Soviet Army”, published in 1982. Suvarov was a high ranking armor officer in the Soviet army for many years and brought his extensive knowledge and experience to bear in this book.

Some of the interesting finds in this book include the routine bullying and harassment that new recruits faced from the conscripts who were more senior to them – not in rank but relative to how close they were to finishing their two-year service period. I had never read anything about this in the popular fiction about this time period so I decided to incorporate it into my newest book.

One of the main characters, Yuri Semenovich, is a conscript who has just been assigned to the 45th Motorized Rifle Division. His platoon is infested with severe bullying from the other more senior men around him. Terrorized by a gang of thugs, he decides to ride out the abuse as best as he can until the war is over. This decision has a series of consequences that transform the young Yuri over the course of one week. It become apparent that Yuri’s enemies are not only NATO troops but also the men who serve with him.

How will Yuri deal with being caught between the two of them?

Nord Kapp – Morality in War

The story I’m currently writing in the series explores a couple of different themes. The major theme here is courage. For the characters involved, courage comes in many forms and this short work tries to explore moral courage especially. As the chaos of war is brought into the characters’ lives, they are thrust into situations that test their moral fiber to stand up for what is right. Not so easy to do in the midst of a world war.

I chose this theme because I realized the best war movies out there tend to address this component. In particular, the movies Platoon and Casualties of War are about moral courage. Apocalypse Now seems to dismiss the possibility of morality in an inherently immoral act of war but I would disagree with this notion. Certainly, there are enough examples of people doing the “right thing” even in the most terrible situations.

Rest assured, the story also tries to show how such a conflict might actually have happened. I’m currently researching equipment and training for the forces involved. Also, I’m wargaming the situation out with a wargame called Nord Kapp, published in 1983 by SPI. It’s a fascinating look at what a conventional modern conflict in the Arctic Circle might have looked like. You can follow it on my wargaming blog, Hexsides & Hand Grenades.

Nord Kapp – The Battle for Norway

So my upcoming freebie is the next entry in the Tales of World War III: 1985 series. Although I have just started to write it, I am falling in love with the setting.

You may ask yourself, “Why Norway? Why focus on such a sideshow to the bigger Central European war?”

Part of the answer for that is contained within the question. If the Soviets had invaded Western Europe in the 1980s, Scandinavia would have been a huge part of determining how things went for them. Controlling this region would have allowed them to strike far beyond the range of Eastern Europe’s airbases. From here, they could have also based their naval units and submarines to move through the GIUK gap.

Despite the importance of this region for a Third World War, there isn’t much fiction dedicated to it. I suppose the major focus was on Germany during that time and people liked to imagine Soviet tanks pouring over the inter-German border and heading straight down the Fulda Gap. But culturally and geographically, Scandinavia is a unique setting for modern warfare. Any study of the Finnish-Soviet war yields some amazing accounts of fighting in the snow and cold of the Arctic Circle. It’s for this reason that I’m writing a novel that would finally give this region the spotlight. More on this later.

Harpoon: Captain’s Edition – Hunter Killer

I decided to take a little break from Pacific War and get back to playing Harpoon: Captain’s Edition. If you haven’t heard much about Harpoon: Captain’s Edition, feel free to check out my overview of this fun GDW release from 1990.  Browsing through the game’s rulebook, I realized I hadn’t yet played any of its scenarios that involve submarine warfare.  I’ve always loved the slow-paced tension of submarine versus surface ship duels ever since watching “Run Silent Run Deep” on late night TV as a kid.

Leafing through the scenario book, I finally found a match-up to whet my appetite. “Hunter Killer” is an exciting and tense scenario that pits a pack of Soviet submarines against a task force of American destroyers during a late-1980s World War III. The background story is that a US carrier group is due to pass between Iceland and Scotland in a few days. To secure its passage, the Americans send a hunter-killer formation of surface ships to the area in an effort to destroy any Soviet submarines lurking in the depths below.  NATO wins if it is able to sink two Soviet subs.  The Soviets must keep as many boats alive as possible.  If the Soviets can sink two NATO ships, it offsets the sinking of one of their subs.  The game lasts seven turns.

The Soviet Akula class submarine [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

NATO forces consist of two destroyers (one Arleigh-Burke class and one Spruance class) with two frigates (two OH Perry class).

NATO forces

The Soviets get three submarines – two Akula class subs and an Oscar.

Soviet forces

I also decided to use the Dummy cards for this scenario. I’m playing solitaire, which obviously complicates matters. I’ve decided that my initial ship movements for both sides will be blind. Although I know how the ships will be grouped together, I don’t know which groups of ships belong to which counter on the board.  So I could be moving the Arleigh Burke or a NATO dummy counter – I will have no idea until I need to do something (i.e. attack or detect) with the counter that would require knowledge of the ship’s composition. After I know what ships each task force counter actually represents, I’ll roll dice to help decide where ships will go and what they will do. It is less than ideal but it helps to introduce some aspect of hidden information into the game, which is a big part of Harpoon: Captain’s Edition.

Soviet setup with Task Forces D, A, C in red. NATO Task Forces (blue counters) will enter from the bottom of the map.

The Soviet player sets up first, placing his ships anywhere along the line of hexes from 0816 to 1419. These hexes lay between Iceland and northern Scotland.  One thing to note is that the Soviet side is unable to move its subs beyond two hexes of their starting hexes.  The Soviets put their boats into three separate task forces, Task Force D is placed in 0816, Task Force A is in 1118 and Task Force C is in 1419.  NATO has three task forces, TF-14, TF-5, and TF-12, which are set to enter from the bottom of the map edge on turn 1.

Turn 1

Harpoon:CE works by chit pull so we start yanking chits out of the cup.  Task Force 12 enters first at speed 3, followed by Task Force 14 at speed 2 and Task Force 5 at speed 1.  The NATO ships are coming up along the west side of the play area, near Iceland.  Whether or not this is a feint is hard to say. The task forces are close enough to mutually support one another if attacked.

NATO Task Forces enter the map.

Soviet Task Force D activates next and moves south to 0817. Rolling to check if TF-D is a dummy or not beforehand, I find out that it is actually a dummy.  The NATO side does not know this,however, and may send ships after it.  Hopefully, NATO will take the bait and leave some of its ships vulnerable to submarine attack.

Task Force A and C get a chance to turn and both move closer to the NATO ships, attempting to detect them and failing.

Soviet sub Task Forces move towards the NATO surface ships and attempt detection.

With the last chit pulled, turn 1 ends.

Turn 2

Things really heated up this turn. Task Force 12 ended up being rolled as a dummy when the NATO player went to see if it could make a detection attempt versus Soviet Task Force D. It went down to speed zero and stayed put, hoping to lure in Soviet Task Force D (which was, unknown to the NATO player, also a dummy marker).

Task Force C moved west one hex to 1218 at speed 1 while Task Force D (a dummy group) stayed put and reduced to speed zero. Next, I pulled the Task Force 14 chit and it succeeded at its attempt to detect Task Force D. It was revealed as a dummy and the task force chit was taken off the board. Task Force 14 then sped up to speed 2 and attempted a detection on Task Force A in hex 1019. It succeeded!

The enemy task force was identified as an Akula-class submarine and an Oscar. Task Force A also succeeded in detecting Task Force 14 so the Oscar launched its compliment of 12 SSMs at the NATO ships, which were identified as an Arleigh Burke destroyer and an OH Perry frigate. The Burke’s long-range SAMs shot down 6 of the Soviet incoming missiles and the Perry’s short range SAMs took out the rest. That is not good for the Soviets.

Soviet Oscar fires 12 SSMs at Task Force 14.

The Burke and Perry swaggered north into the hex with the Soviet subs and commenced aggressive ASW, scoring 2 hits on the Akula sub (which could take a maximum of 3 hits before sinking).

Hello Baby!  Task Force 14 enters into hex 1018 and begins ASW operations.

Task Force A subs went next and moved in for torpedo shots at the Burke and Perry ships. The Akula and Oscar got abysmal rolls but managed a single hit on the Burke and another hit on the Perry frigate, sinking it.The Burke-class destroyer got another chance to conduct ASW and sunk the Akula.

NATO Task Force 5 activated next and entered into the same hex where the damaged Burke and the Oscar submarine were fighting it out. The Spruance and Perry-class ships conducted additional ASW on the Oscar and managed an incredible 3 hits thanks to some excellent rolls. The Oscar was still barely alive, however, and if its chit got pulled next turn, it could manage to fight NATO to a draw.

Task Force 5 joins up with Task Force 14 and pours the hurt on an Oscar-class submarine.

Turn 3

The Burke, Spruance, and Perry formed into a single mighty sub-killing task force at the start of the turn and resumed pounding the Oscar. Task Force 5’s chit got pulled right at the start of the turn. The Soviets just could not get a break. The Burke rolled 5 dice on its ASW and scored a single hit on the Oscar submarine, which sent it to the cold depths of the ocean floor.

Task Force C managed an activation but was unable to move any further as per scenario rules. With no SSMs to fire at the NATO ships, the game was over at this point. The US player had achieved two Soviet sub kills and simply meandered away from the battle area, leaving the Soviets fuming. We chalk up a nice win for NATO.

Newly combined NATO task force wanders away while Akula in TF-C sits by in impotent rage mode.


If I had to play this one again, I would have the Soviet subs hang back a bit at the beginning to make detecting them as hard as possible for NATO. Because they were moving during Turn 1, they were easier to detect and the hunter-killer groups had a real heyday finding and destroying them, especially after the dummy task force was found out.  I also might have grouped those Soviet task forces a little tighter so they could help each other out.  It was very frustrating to see Task Force C stuck uselessly near its starting hex at the end of the scenario.

I know you shouldn’t blame luck too much but the NATO rolls were pretty amazing throughout the game while the Soviets had some rough luck, especially with their torpedo attack on the Burke. Finally, I should have pulled the Soviet subs back after their attacks on Task Force 14.  Keeping them in the fight and just hoping to get a chit pull for a nice free torpedo attack was silly and cost me the game.

I found this scenario to be well balanced and quite tense!  I didn’t know if the dummy cards would work as a solitaire player but they were fine and added a lot to the tension.  I’d like to try this game with the air components next and see how they fit into the game.

I should note that this scenario played out very quickly and fluidly.  Aside from a few glances at the rulebook to find hit tables and detection modifiers, it was easy to play the whole thing through from setup to conclusion in less than thirty minutes.  It is a small scenario but so far, I’m finding that the game does what is promised on the box cover.  It is a fast-paced and very simple game of modern naval combat.

The Best of 2014

Well, looking back at 2014 (over 60 articles), it seems that this blog saw a lot more action than 2013 (36 articles all told).  It probably had something to do with finally being finished with a degree and having more free time this year but I would also say that I got a bit deeper with my gaming experiences too.  Up until this year, I’d kept the gaming scale down to short (a few hours of play time) platoon/company level (Lock ‘n Load, World at War, etc.) games with brief forays into brigade-level (Dawn’s Early Light) affairs.  With my purchase of Victory Games’ The Korean War in early summer, that all changed for me.

The Korean War was really a turning point in my own gaming experience.  It was the first really large-scale operational game that I had ever played and which covered an entire year of a war.  I wasn’t sure how I would make the jump to this scale and scope and I was concerned that it would be too complicated.  Fortunately, the learning scenarios in the game were terrific and the number of interesting decisions (just enough to make the game cool, not so many to be overwhelming) really drew me in.  From there, it was a no-brainer that I had to finally sit down and play Gulf Strike, another VG game that was operational, although a bit more complex.  From that point, it was all downhill to Vietnam: 1965 to 1975, where I finally reached my Waterloo after a year of game time and called it quits (I still intend to return to it some day).

I think the most important thing I’ve learned this year is to just keep putting things on the table and see what sticks despite the intimidation factor of any given game due to complexity, length of time required for play, or just the size of the map.  By playing these “larger” games, I also got a new appreciation of my smaller-scale games and how nice it was to have something that could be played in a single evening session without the need for book-keeping or notes.  To say my gaming habits and preferences have changed radically is not really true – but it would be fair to say that they’re becoming more diverse…even though I still haven’t brought myself to step outside the confines of modern conflict.  Maybe I’ll try that next year and see how it goes.

Since it’s the end of the year then, I guess it’s fashionable to make lists.  So here (in somewhat hierarchical order from good to great) are what I consider my top 5 articles from this year followed by a brief reason why they’re on there:

5.  Twilight: 2000 – The Last Battle:  A Review

I don’t write many reviews but when I do, I try to be detached.  Not this one.  I had a long personal history with the roleplaying game, Twilight:2000, and I was cutting it no slack here as I played through it and found some ridiculous and hilarious results during the course of the game.  Was I disappointed?  Yeah, man.  This was my teenage years at stake.  After getting slightly inebriated, however, the game took me right back to the late 1980s, surrounded by high school friends on a Friday night while eating pizza and complaining about how bad the last episode of Miami Vice sucked.  It was a bit like watching the movie Starship Troopers, where all you could think about for the first thirty minutes was how bad the movie was – only to realize in the last half that something wonderful is happening.

4.  Vietnam: 1965 to 1975

I tried…I really tried here.  I dove into this campaign at a really busy time in my life.  Work was exploding and I had conferences to attend overseas along with a big side project that was getting off the ground.  Still, this thing sat in my game room for weeks on end as I scurried back and forth reading the rulebook on the couch and then going into the game room and moving a piece or two.  Still, I sort of somehow got to the point where I could see the decisions I had made piling up and this beautiful epic narrative start to unfold before my eyes.  You don’t really play Victory Games’ Vietnam…you experience it.

3.  Gulf Strike:  The Invasion of Kuwait

Gulf Strike was one of those games that sat in my gaming closet for about a year before I dared to bring it out on the table.  I’d read about.  I’d scanned and skimmed the rulebook.  I stared at the box.  Finally, I just went with it, trusting Mark Herman not to lead me astray.  He did not and I found GS to be one of the best games I’ve ever played.  I loved the reaction system and the way that detection works along with the overall scenario design.  It doesn’t drag on and on.  Decisions are made and the rules are fluid enough to handle whatever you want to do without getting bogged down in minutiae.  It took a while to get the system down in my head but once you get it, you can start to appreciate the beauty of it.

2. World at War:  Counterattack

I need to give a shout-out here to Mark Walker, who brought a narrative to his World at War games through “The Untold Stories” and then took things a bit further with the dual campaigns of “Counterattack”.  There’s a real mystery unfolding in the pages of Counterattack and some very solid scenario design.  I always felt CA never really got the love it deserved and that’s too bad.  The WaW system had some new life breathed into it and Counterattack helped to keep things fresh and interesting for people who had been following the series from the start.

1.  The Korean War:  North Korea Invades

This was the year I fell in love with Victory Games and operational-level gaming and big campaigns.  This was the game that started it all.  I can’t say enough good things about The Korean War.  It was based on a conflict I really knew nothing about and hadn’t really been that interested in before playing this game.  The rules are easy to understand and the decisions are really interesting.  The combat and movement system are like nothing I had ever seen before and the idea of activations, world tension levels, intervention, and commitment are handled so nicely that it’s a real joy to play – even for someone relatively new to wargames.  If you haven’t checked this game out, I really recommend doing so.  I think you’ll find it’s well worth the trouble of tracking down an older copy.  I would put it on my shortlist of things to bring if stranded on a desert island.

Thanks very much for reading and I hope you have a great holiday and prosperous new year!

All the best in the new year.

Firepower – The Desert Rescue (Part 3)

Well, we’ve got the American Special Forces guys all sorted out so now it’s time to figure out how the Libyans are going to deploy.  Since I’m playing solo here, we’re going for a random setup by rolling dice for each member of both Libyan squads to determine what each guy is doing and where he is on the map.  The Americans are taking the Libyans completely by surprise so none of them will be entirely ready for a fight but there will be varying degrees of combat readiness among them.

For each Libyan camp guard, I rolled on the following table to determine setup area:

01 – 15:  Located in tower

Roll again for tower location:
1 – tower 401 (H10)
2 – tower 402 (H4)
3  -tower 403 (S2)
4 – tower 404 (AA4)
5 – tower 405 (Y9)

16 – 25:  Located in pillbox

Roll again for pillbox location:
1 – 5: pillbox 406 (W1)
6 – 10: pillbox 407 (K1)

26 – 35:  Sleeping in barracks (building P2)

36 – 45: Patrolling camp wire (R8 or V9)

46 – 60: Manning check point (Y7 or G8)

61 – 70: Checking on prisoners (Q7)

71 – 80: Drinking from well (S5)

81 – 90: Snoozing in foxhole 408 or 409 (I5 or Y3)

91 – 00: Eating in mess hall (M8)

Okay, so we roll 16 times to establish where each Libyan will be and we get the following results:

Solder  #1: 38
Soldier #2: 97
Soldier #3:100
Soldier #4: 49
Soldier #5: 91
Soldier #6: 96
Soldier #7: 92
Soldier #8: 88
Soldier #9: 65
Soldier #10: 68
Soldier #11: 58
Soldier #12: 41
Soldier #13: 93
Soldier #14: 60
Soldier #15: 97
Soldier #16: 82

Wow!  I guess it must be lunch time!  We have no fewer than 7 guys (an entire squad!) eating in the mess hall when the Americans arrive.  That could be quite devastating if the Americans play their cards right.

Two men (#16 and #8) are snoozing in their foxholes, one in Y3 and the other in I5.  Two other men (#1 and #12) are dutifully patrolling along the wire.  Three Libyans (#4, #11, #15) are manning the two check points on either side of the camp.  The other two (#9 and #10) are checking on prisoners.  I’m amazed no one ended up in a tower or pillbox despite there being a 25% chance of it happening.  In a way, I suppose this makes a bit of sense since the Americans have Franks watching the camp from a concealed position before the rest of the squad arrives.  I suppose he would have warned the rest of his buddies that the Libyans were at chow and now was the perfect time for a raid.  The last thing we do here is just roll a d6 for facing for each guy (with “1” being north).

Libyans at setup

The US soldiers in the M-113 are going to enter along the road to the northeast of the camp while Franks is out on top of a sand dune to the north east on his own with a sniper rifle watching over the camp and feeding recon reports.  He can also be activated to pick off any Libyans if they wander into his sights.  Since the “hills” on the map to his south don’t exist in this scenario, he has clear line of sight to some of the camp.

US operators in yellow are to the north of the camp (M-113 to northeast and Franks on hill to northwest)

With two free chit pulls, the Americans start off with the M-113 tearin’ ass down the road from the northeast directly south towards the camp.  Jensen is driving while Laroque mans the .50 cal mounted on the bow.  No subtlety here.  In true 80’s action style, the guys are driving right into the camp with an M-113 and killing all the bad guys.  Simple plan but it might just work.

The M-113 drives south down the road and nears the camp. 

On the other side of the camp, Franks takes a sniper shot at a Libyan guard who is out patrolling near the barbed wire in hex V9.  The first shot goes wide but the second one hits its mark and we roll on the hit location for a “1”.  Franks’ target is instantly killed!  Well, that’s one less enemy to worry about.

Franks uses his trusty sniper rifle to take out a POW camp guard in V9.

Second chit pull goes to the Americans and let’s see what kind of damage we can do here.  The APC tries to run over the two Libyans (11 and 15) standing at the checkpoint in G9.  They both make rolls to try and avoid the oncoming armored behemoth.  #11 rolls a 9 (squish) while #15 manages to avoid getting run over with a roll of 3.  The M-113 grinds to a halt just in front of the mess hall, where an entire squad of Libyans is enjoying what may be their last meal.

The M-113 arrives in the middles of the camp!  It’s show time.

Franks, our super sniper, takes 2 shots at another Libyan guard (#12) who is 12 hexes away in hex R8 this time. The first shot hits while the second one misses.  The shot hits in the leg, totally incapacitating the camp guard.

Franks works his magic and takes out another camp guard.

Okay, next chit pull goes to the Libyans in squad 2 (the blueish counters).  They activate the guy who was dozing in the foxhole (but who is now wide awake as an APC has just torn straight through the camp gates right in front of him).  He levels an RPG at the M-113 and we roll an 8.  The scatter shows the RPG hits short of the APC and in true A-Team fashion, the bad guys miss spectacularly.

The Libyan (#15) who narrowly avoided getting run over by the APC manages to collect his nerves and he turns to run in the direction of the M-113 behind him, hoping to pick off the Americans as they exit the rear hatch.  Still standing, he takes cover behind a tree and prepares to shoot.

RFL15 takes cover behind a tree to the rear of the M-113 and prepares to fire.

The US player pulls the next chit.  The rear hatch on the APC pops open and it’s time for guys to start getting to work.  McCreary, still in a crouch, turns to see the Libyan guard #15 standing at the tree directly in front of him, preparing to fire.  The American squad leader pumps out two rounds from his M-16 on semi-automatic and hits with the first shot (rolling a 1) and incapacitates his enemy with a nasty arm wound.

Smith clambers out of the APC shortly thereafter and runs into the hex where the Libyan guard lay dying.  He takes cover behind the same tree and is in a crouched position, covering one of the doors to the mess hall with his automatic rifle.

Smith rushes to the tree in I9 while McCreary stands near the hatch and fires.

Libyan squad 1 gets the next chit pull and two of the guys in the mess hall move.  One of them goes to cover the window while the other one goes out the door.  The Libyans in squad 2 go next and one of the  guards rushes towards the prisoners’ quarters to defend the building from intrusion.  Meanwhile, in the mess hall, one of the guards grabs an RPG and heads out the door, hoping to take out the American APC.

RFL13 camp guard rushes out the door with RFL3 standing in the doorway.

The US player gets the next chit pull.  The APC is starting to get surrounded so Laroque, who is manning the M-113’s .50 cal, sprays the two hexes in front of him.  He somehow misses the guy with the RPG right in front of the APC and only 5 yards away but does manage to kill one of the Libyan guards coming out the door of the mess hall.  Laroque fires again and finally manages to kill the guy standing immediately in front of the M-113.

McCreary senses the impending danger to the APC as Libyans scramble towards it at close range. He gives his action points to Vincent and Collier, who both run out of the APC.

Vincent and Collier rush out the back of the APC while Laroque fires his .50 cal at the nearest enemies.

Libyans go next with one of the guys in the prisoner’s building coming out to see what’s going on while another guard throws a grenade at the APC from around the corner of the mess hall.  It lands in K6, exploding but causing no harm.

The next chit pull goes back to the Libyans, who activate one guard at the mess hall window who sees Collier and Vincent running from the APC hatch.  He crouches and fires on full auto and hits Collier in the head with the first shot before the weapon jams.  Well, there goes the Americans’ machinegun!  Another Libyan runs out of the mess hall and tries to get away from the heat of the action.

Americans get the next chit pull and Smith fires on full automatic into the mess hall window. After firing two full bursts, he misses on everything but the last shot.  It hits the Libyan guard’s weapon and a roll of 7 means that the gun is damaged beyond repair.  McCreary runs from the APC’s hex, jumps into the mess hall through the window and engages in melee with the now-unarmed Libyan, killing him.

McCreary (RFL11) leaps through the window of the mess hall and kills one of the guards in melee.

With the final Libyan chit, one of the guards in the mess hall approaches McCreary in a fight to the death.  Unfortunately for the Americans, the Libyan is just a bit faster and manages to kill him in melee.  What a loss!  Another guard who ran out of the mess hall earlier, decides to turn and toss a grenade at the APC but it lands on the other side of the vehicle and explodes.  No one is hurt.

The Libyans get revenge when RFL7 rushes into a knife fight with McCreary and kills him.

That’s the end of turn 1 and I’m going to end my playthrough here.  The Americans have 4 guys left and the Libyans have only 3 in each squad.  I would say the US has squeezed out a win here just based on how much damage they’ve been able to mete out in the first round.   I suspect a grenade or two tossed through the open windows would quickly take care of the rest of the guards.

Placement was decisive in this scenario.  I really didn’t expect the random rolls to put so many camp guards in one building while the defensive structures were pretty much unmanned.  There was a very small window in the beginning of the round for the Libyans to launch an RPG and take out the APC with everyone in it, but the rolls to hit were off and all the Special Forces guys made it out.  It really did have the feel of an 80s action movie with one loner picking off guards from afar while the rest of the squad threw caution to the wind and flew right into the camp with no subtlety whatsoever.

Feel free to use the same maps and random tables to construct your own Firepower scenario and let me know how it goes!

World at War – Counterattack – Scenario 3

“Just Passing Through” is the name of the third scenario for Counterattack, an expansion set in the World at War universe.  This scenario features two formations of Americans (the A/1-8 mechanized infantry and Echo tank company) trying to sweep into the Soviet salient as it advances into France during the early summer of 1985.  Played on the Blood & Bridges map, the Americans face off against the 62nd Motorized Rifle regiment in an effort to take the cities of Uberdorf and Dattenburg.  
Once both of these cities are secured, the West Germans enter the map and try to take the city to the far north, Werthoven.  At the same time this occurs, the Soviets get the 13th Guards Tank division (full of lots of T-80s) to try and take back any lost ground.  For this reason, timing and conservation of forces is a vital issue, especially for NATO.  If the Americans take Dattenberg too late, they probably won’t get Werthoven.  If the US takes too many casualties while taking both of their objective cities, they won’t be able to fend off the onslaught of the 13th Guards.  
Soviet Setup- 
The scenario setup scatters the 62nd MR among the three cities of Uberdorf, Dattenberg, and Werthoven so there aren’t many setup options here, except for where to place the HQ.  Anticipating a US push on Uberdorf, which is nearest to the American initial placement, the Soviet player puts his HQ on the T-64 and infantry platoon in the southern outskirts of the city.
American Setup-
Again, not a lot of options here for the American player.  Echo and the A/1-8 place their units in and around the city of Rahms, which lies south of a large hill.  
Some initial thoughts on tactics – 
For the Soviet player, this really is about delaying the Americans and inflicting punishment on them.  Uberdorf starts off with few units and is pretty much a lost cause.  The US player will suffer from opportunity fire on his advance so the idea is just to keep hitting at him at every turn.  
The American player wants to avoid getting hit by too much opp fire so it may be a good idea not to get caught on the hillside near Rahms.  The Americans might win a firefight here against Soviet units at long range but it would probably be costly.  For the US player, they will attempt to use a war of quick maneuver at ground level, taking Uberdorf with infantry and then hitting Dattenberg next.

Soviet setup on the west side of the BaB map.  Americans set up to the south in and around Rahms.

Turn 1 
Things start off okay for the Americans with an activation by A/1-8, which moves from behind the hill near Rahms for an advance straight north to Uberdorf.  Echo activates next and moves west to pour tank fire at the Soviet infantry and tanks in the city.  Unfortunately, opportunity fire from the T-64 stacked with HQ in the south of the city immediately disrupts the Abrams platoon stacked with a leader.  
An activation chit is pulled for the Soviet 62nd MR and the T-64 fires again, managing to finish off the Abrams/leader stack.  Just to try and slow down the US advance on Uberdorf, a Soviet infantry unit is sent south into the woods near the city.  It will serve as a deadly little speedbump that the US player will have to deal with before attacking Uberdorf itself.
Over to the east, the Soviets start to slowly push half of their infantry and tanks from Dattenberg towards the west to get closer shots at the Americans encroaching on Uberdorf.  A Sagger infantry team and a T-64 from Werthoven start pushing their way south to the beleaguered city.
Echo goes again next and calls in DPICM on Uberdorf, with absolutely no effect.  However, the Abrams stacked with the HQ does eliminate the T-64 sitting in the city and the second Abrams gets a disruption on the pesky Soviet infantry sitting in the nearby forest.
Turn 2
The A/1-8 moves north around the hill and deploys infantry to assault the Soviets sitting in the woods south of Uberdorf but the assault is astoundingly unsuccessful and the enemy infantry remains lodged in the forest.  Another Bradley platoon moves up with its belly full of infantry ready to assault the city.  
Echo fires into the Soviet infantry in the woods and the Abrams manage to reduce it.  Finally, some limited progress is being made.  That’s all for tank support as the US player decides it is time to take care of the infantry and tanks streaming in from the east.  The HQ with two Abrams platoons moves east along the road through Rahms, hoping to cut the encroaching Russians off from their attempt at reinforcing Uberdorf.
The 62MR activates next and raises hell on the Bradleys sitting to the south of Uberdorf, successfully reducing two Bradley platoons with long range fire from Dattenberg.  It is too late for the Uberdorf Soviet defenders in the city, however, as the infantry from the A/1-8 takes out the nearby Soviet HQ and infantry.  Uberdorf is still not completely secured but a major portion of the defenders have been knocked out of the fight.

A/1-8 pushes towards Uberdorf.

Echo moves east to cut off encroaching Soviets from Dattenberg.

Turn 3
Echo gets the first activation and takes out a T-64 sitting in the west side of Dattenberg.  The A/1-8 formation was in pretty good shape until the 62nd MR activated next with great rolls to check for command status.  The Bradleys are absolutely peppered with shots from T-64s to the east, successfully destroying an HQ and reducing a Bradley platoon and infantry.  With no one in command next activation, the A/1-8 sits in and around Uberdorf helplessly.

Turn 4
A/1-8 mops up around Uberdorf but is unable to dislodge the final doggedly determined defenders.  End turn markers are pulled early in the turn and we move on to turn 5.
Turn 5
Echo moves further east to start hitting at the tanks in Dattenberg while the A/1-8 manages to eliminate the final defending units in Uberdorf.  The A/1-8 formation is so battered that it can only afford to keep a single meager infantry unit to defend the city while the rest of the formation makes its way east to take Dattenberg.  A Bradley sent up on the hill near Rahms is annihilated by a T-64 platoon that sneaks up on it at close range and destroys it with moving fire.   At this point, the A/1-8 consists of only an HQ and three infantry platoons.  Echo has lost one third of its units. The Soviets have basically cut off Echo from moving north to get at Dattenberg.  Things do not look good for the Americans.
The 62nd MR moves its infantry and tanks slowly from Werthoven, menacing the US infantry occupying Uberdorf.  A FASCAM minefield is called in to slow the advance a little.

Remnants of A/1-8 after taking Uberdorf.

Turn 6
The A/1-8 moves east towards Dattenberg but dares not enter open ground since two T-64 platoons are sitting in the west of the city ready to use opportunity fire on any nearby enemy infantry.  Again, we get an early end to the turn here.
Turn 7
The A/1-8 sits on the hillside during its initial activation.  All of the American artillery has been used up on the assault on Uberdorf.  All they can do is wait for Echo to break through from the south and hit at the enemy tanks.
Echo goes next and manages to reduce a T-64 platoon in Dattenberg.  It’s not great but it might be enough to get A/1-8 into the city.  
Unfortunately, an activation by the 62nd MR messes up the plan completely.  The Soviets north of Uberdorf jaunt around the FASCAM minefield and start using moving fire on the US infantry defending the city.  It is ineffective.  The Soviets start moving their infantry and tanks around the south of Dattenberg to surround and isolate the American tanks in Echo. The noose tightens.

FASCAM minefields in place to slow down Sov units from Werthoven.

Turn 8
The 62nd MR activates immediately and the deadly trap is sprung.  Echo is disrupted by fire from a T-64 on the hillside to the west while a BTR-70 platoon somehow manages a successful assault on the Abrams in Echo, disrupting a tank platoon and knocking out the US HQ.  With both American units disrupted, the Soviet HQ and two infantry units assault the American tanks, destroying one platoon.  
The A/1-8 formation is unable to wait any longer from an American tank company that is clearly not coming anytime soon.  The US infantry pours down from the hillside west of Dattenberg and enters the city, assaulting and destroying a Soviet T-64 tank platoon.  Echo activates and all it does is disrupt a BTR-70 platoon.  Highly disappointing performance from the American tanks.  Without their HQ, they are out of command for the next activation.
The Soviets about to spring a trap on Echo as it nears Dattenberg.  Note A/1-8 sitting helplessly on hill to NW.

Turn 9
Not much hope is left for the Americans but good things might happen if they can quickly take Dattenberg and get those West German reinforcements on the board.  
A/1-8 infantry moves north to assault the sole remaining tank in Dattenberg but suffers from opportunity fire disruption before they can start to work.  Unfortunately, their HQ is destroyed from the opportunity fire (when will the Americans catch a break here?) and they are out of command for the next activation.
A/1-8 fails in its bid to assault the remaining T-64 in north Dattenberg.

Echo activates and desperately pushes north towards Dattenberg, using moving fire to try and destroy the infantry stacked with the 62nd MR HQ.  The 62nd MR has other plans, however, and manages to keep the Americans at bay, surrounding them with light APCs and infantry.  Soviet tanks in Dattenberg manage to reduce the adjacent US infantry from A/1-8.  North of Uberdorf, Soviet T-64s let loose volley after volley of fire at the defending US infantry but no luck is had.

Echo trapped on either side by Soviet units and unable to move north.

Turn 10 
Two end turn markers are pulled.
Turn 11
With Dattenberg still in the grip of the Soviets, there is little hope here for a US win.  We’ll see what happens anyways.  A/1-8 activates and destroys the Soviet tank platoon in the city and then races down south to claim control of most of the city.  If the US tanks from Echo can make it in, there might be hope for some semblance of a respectable outcome for the American player. 

Echo manages to overrun the 62nd MR infantry sitting adjacent to them but it is also destroyed in the fighting.  The 62nd MR sends its tanks and infantry into Uberdorf to rub salt in the American wounds.

End Game – Soviets take part of Uberdorf.
End Game:
Well, things turned out quite badly for the US player.  That actually might be an understatement as not one of the US objectives were achieved nor were any reinforcements able to be called in.  This was one of those games where poor decisions made early in the game just compounded on the American player and led to an outright disaster.  
The decision to send Echo off towards the east to try and catch the Soviets heading from Dattenberg towards Uberdorf was a huge mistake.  It would have been better to have kept the Abrams at long range from the tanks in Dattenberg and just eliminate them from there.  The US player was absolutely wrong to split forces and leave the hapless Bradleys sitting exposed on their assault on Uberdorf.  By the time the city was taken, A/1-8 was so badly damaged that it could do very little to affect the outcome of the game.  Echo was trapped entirely by a small and determined Soviet force that was extremely effective at using close range fire to disrupt and assault it.  The decision for the US player to stay off the hills from the start of the game was not a good one.  The hill to the north of Rahms could have provided great LOS and defensive bonus against Soviet fire, especially considering that the Russians had absolutely no artillery support.  

I had mixed feelings about writing up such a lop-sided report but I felt like I learned a lot from this game and I intend to apply the lessons to another run through of this scenario in the very near future.