Eisenbach Gap: The Defense of Klappebruck (Part I)

This report is from a playthrough of scenario 2 in Lock ‘n Load’s World at War: Eisenbach Gap.  Let’s start with the Order of Battle:

Team Bravo:  The Americans have a couple of platoons of infantry along with some M1 Abrams tanks and some light AT missile launchers in the form of a TOW Jeep and an ITV.  The team is light but its maneuverability and overall concentrated firepower is a decent for match the Soviet numbers.

Soviet Order of Battle: 33rd Motorized Rifle Division. 3 platoons of antiquated and slow T-62 tanks. 6 BMPs and 6 infantry platoons.

The Soviet objective is to capture Klappebruck and Eisenbach. Soviet 33rd Motor Rifle Div. will enter to the south. The Americans have set up a defensive line along the hills facing this sector. An American platoon with Dragon AT weapons is set up in Klappebruck. The American plan is to devastate the Soviets as they approach the north and then carefully withdraw to Eisenbach.

The Soviet 33rd Motorized Rifle Division enters the board from the south. The BMPs are full of infantry and forming up for a big push. Note the lack of cover from here to the hills with the American forces to the north. This will not be easy for the Soviet commander.

Sixth Fleet: Libyan-American War (Part VI of VI)

Turn 6 Day 2: Night

This is the last turn of the game and things are going fairly well for the Americans.  The Libyans start off with attacks by the submarines on the US carrier task force.  One of the subs sinks the destroyer, USS Cushing.  The Americans, however, focus their surface fleet on ASW and manage to destroy the two remaining Libyan submarines.  Afterwards, USS Drum finishes off the rest of the Libyan flotilla of fast missile boats.

The Libyans put up their remaining MiG-23s on CAP over Benghazi and, as expected, the Americans send out F-18s and EA-6 flight to bomb the city.  The MiGs manage to shoot down a Prowler before being taken out by F-18s.  SAMs destroy an F-18 over Benghazi.  A squadron of A-6s hit Darnah.  Bomb damage is assessed as “barely effective” as both flights miss most of their targets.

The United States loses three points for the Libyans sinking their two ships but gains 15 points for hitting all three cities with some effectiveness.  It’s not an overwhelming win but it’s clear to the rest of the world that the United States has effectively punished the Libyans for their role in the sinking of American ships in the Mediterranean.

This was an interesting game!  I really believed the Libyans had no chance at winning by the second day but the surprise sinking of two US ships kept things very tense.  Also, the US had a lot of luck with its defense rolls when intercepting SSMs and Libyan air missions.  Even when the Libyans crept around the CAP, they were never successful in their bombing runs on the US and usually lost some aircraft before limping back to base.  Having said that, the US definitely lost more aircraft than I had anticipated on its bombing runs.  Heavy AAA and SAMs prevented accurate targeting on the second day.  The Libyans always seemed to get some form of revenge on the US whenever they attempted something big.

I played this game solo, switching sides and playing each to the best of my ability.  When I was playing the part of the Americans, I felt like a giant trying to do something important while at the same time being attacked by dozens of bees.  As the Libyan, I felt hopelessly under powered and desperate to just survive and lash out in any way possible.  People play wargames for the same reason as they watch movies or read books – it’s to try and get a small taste of the decisions and thoughts that people in other situations experience.  This scenario definitely did that for me and I can’t wait to try the next one out.

Sixth Fleet: Libyan-American War (Part V of VI)

Turn 5 Day 2:  Afternoon

The US started off by trying to clear away the Libyan submarines that were skulking around the American task force.  Unfortunately, the results of their efforts were for naught.  Those pesky subs were still there after ASW efforts.

The submarine USS Omaha had better luck, destroying two fast attack craft that were near the US carrier task force.  The remnants of the Libyan flotilla shot at the carrier with SSMs but failed to hit anything.

The US carrier task force is in the middle.  Very cluttered area!

The Americans decided on an all-out air strike on Tripoli this time, sending the entire attack group off to bomb installations around the city.  After the US fighters shoot down the meager number of MiG-23s on CAP over the city, SAMs and AAA took out a pair of F-18s.  Bomb damage was assessed as “largely ineffective”.  Still, the Americans did gain three victory points for hitting the city.

The Libyans fought back by sending out the remaining planes in their air force to strike the US carriers.  MiG-23s and Su-20s managed to somehow slip by the F-14 Tomcats but once on their bombing run, all of the Su-20s were destroyed by surface to air missiles.  The Libyan Air Force now consists of a handful of MiG-23s.  Figuring that the next target would likely be Benghazi or Darnah, the MiGs landed in Benghazi and will attempt a CAP next turn.

So far, the Libyans have not had too much luck in defending or attacking but things have not gone entirely smooth for the Americans either.


Sixth Fleet: Libyan-American War (Part IV of VI)

Turn 4 Day 2: Morning

Well, quite a lot happened this morning.  First off, the weather across the Mediterranean was lousy with squalls.    This hampered ship movement and proved to be a fatal development for the Libyans.  The Americans, with all-weather aircraft, were able to deal with the weather without many problems.

The Soviets secretly gave the Libyans some satellite photos to show them where the main American task force was sitting.  Believing there is a high chance of another air attack on Tripoli, the Libyans put up a token cap force of MiG-23s over the city.

The turn started off with the US carrier task force bombing Benghazi and Darnah.  A-6s with greater range hit Darnah while the F-18s hit key sites in Benghazi.

The Americans now have 9 victory points, which is the minimum they need to win this scenario.

MiG-23…not so great results vs. F-14 Tomcats

The Libyans send out some MiG-23s with the remnants of the Su-20 attack aircraft.  They meet the F-14 Tomcats near the carrier force and several Su-20s are shot down.  The rest of the Libyans turn and head back to Tripoli.

The US task force conducts anti-submarine warfare on a nearby Libyan submarine, severely damaging it.  The US submarines conduct torpedo attacks on the Libyan fast attack ships but only manage to damage one of them.

A-6s hit Darnah while F-18s bomb Benghazi

The Libyan flotilla of small ships launches a coordinated attack on the US task force.  A handful of surface-to-surface missiles get through and manage to sink the damaged US destroyer, Comte de Grasse.  The Americans lose 1 victory point.

One of the Libyan submarines manages to score a hit on the USS Rentz, damaging it.

The Libyan flotilla attempts to race back to the port of Benghazi to find cover but the squall prevents it from running too far.  The US carrier task force launches SSMs and destroys two small patrol craft.


Sixth Fleet: Libyan-American War (Part III)

Turn 3 was a night turn and basically saw the US carrier task force hitting Tripoli and Benghazi very hard.

Turn 3 Day 1: Night

The Libyans put their MiG-23s up over Tripoli to fly CAP while the US activates its submarines and takes out the small Libyan patrol craft getting dangerously near to the US carrier task force.

The submarine USS Omaha moves closer to Benghazi port to monitor the small Libyan task force that is trying to use the harbor for hiding places from US air strikes.

A Libyan submarine attacks the USS Ramsey in the US carrier task force but fails to hit anything.  The Libyans drive their small attack boats straight at the US carrier task force and manage to hit and damage the destroyer, USS Comte de Grasse.

 Texas. Don’t mess with it.

The USS Texas launches Tomahawk missiles at Tripoli, causing massive damage to military targets and destroying a Libyan military airfield.  About a quarter of the Libyan Air Force’s Su-20s are destroyed or damaged beyond repair.

Libyan aircraft on the ground are damaged in a Tomahawk attack.

American SSMs are unable to find their targets in Benghazi.

The Libyan Air Force is grounded at night and cannot conduct bombing missions.  The Americans launch simultaneous bombing raids on Tripoli and Benghazi.  A-6s punish Benghazi while a pair of MiG-23s flying CAP over Tripoli manage to shoot down a pair of F-18s, causing the Americans to abort the bombing raid.

It’s been a tough day for everyone.


Sixth Fleet: Libyan-American War (Part II)

Turn 2 was quite interesting and offered its share of frustrations for both the Libyan and American sides.

Turn 2 Day 1:  Afternoon

It started with the American subs trying to hunt down the Libyan subs.  The USS Omaha struck at the damaged Libyan sub Fateh and destroyed it then moved south.  The rest of the American sub fleet did the same, trying to clear a path for the US carrier task force on its way from Italy.
After that, the Libyans go nuts and combine their entire air force of MiG-23s and Su-20s and take off from Tripoli to strike at the approaching American carrier task force.  
Miraculously, the Libyan MiGs manage to shoot down one F-14 and evade the US combat air patrol.  I shook my head in disbelief as I turned the F-14 counter to the damaged side, thinking, “They’re never gonna believe this.” The Libyan aircraft focus all of their bombing efforts on the Nimitz but are unable to score any effective hits.  Anti-aircraft fire and SAMs launched by the American ships manage to destroy a pair of MiGs.  
Libyan MiGs try to bomb the US task force.

The Americans tracked the aircraft all the way back to their bases in Tripoli and launched their F-18s, an A-6 squadron and an EA-6 Prowler to bomb their bases.  As it turned out, the Libyan AAA would have shot down one of the American aircraft but the EA-6 altered the dice roll enough that everyone was okay. Good thing he came along! Without any fighters to defend Tripoli, the US pounds the Libyans and destroys half a squadron of Su-20 attack aircraft.  
The US bombing raid on Tripoli.

As the US carrier task force arrived in the Central Mediterranean, the Libyan small patrol craft launched long range surface-to-surface missiles at the American task force, failing to seriously damage any of the American vessels.  Afterwards, the Libyan boats sped off to the port in Benghazi, marking the start of their hit and run tactics. 
Overall, there were some big gambles this turn as the Libyans launched an all-out attack against the Americans and the US responded with a raid on Tripoli without losing any planes.


Sixth Fleet: Libyan-American War (Part I)

When VG released Sixth Fleet in 1985, tensions between the US and Libya had grown substantial enough to warrant a scenario featuring a conflict between both powers as it may have happened at the time.  In the sixth scenario of Sixth Fleet, players are invited to explore this potential conflict, for which the stage is set after a Libyan sub sinks an American ship carrying Marines to Beirut.

In this scenario, which is eerily prescient, the goal for the US player is to cause enough bombing damage of military targets in three Libyan cities, Tripoli, Benghazi, and Darnah.  Basically, the Americans have six turns (2 days) to cause as much destruction as possible.  Quadaffi is trying to minimize this damage and, at the same time, hurt the Americans any way possible.

The US Navy has an entire carrier task force at their disposal with the USS Nimitz, California, Comte de Grasse, Texas, and a few other big modern warships.  The USN has brought a couple of subs too – the USS Drum and the USS Omaha.  The task force starts in Naples while one American sub sits in the Tyrrhenian Sea and the other skulks close to the Libyan coast.

Setup.  Green counters=US, Red=Libya

The Libyans, meanwhile, are in the middle of reorganizing their forces to defend against the oncoming attack.  MiG-23s and Su-20s are stationed in Tripoli and Benghazi and their ports harbor a number of small fast attack boats with SSM launchers.  The Libyans have a few ageing subs in the Central Med. and the Tyrrhenian Sea.

It doesn’t look like the Libyans have much of a choice beyond massing their forces and hoping for the best.  Here’s a report of the first game turn:

Turn 1 Day 1 Morning
The sun comes up and the weather across the Med. is sunny and clear.  US satellite detects a Libyan submarine operating near Sicily.  A Libyan Mirage on reconnaissance detects the US carrier task force leaving from Naples.

The Libyans start pulling back their subs towards the Libyan coast, hoping to hit the American task force there instead.  The USS Omaha attacks a Libyan sub, the Fateh, but is unsuccessful.

The Americans start moving their carrier task force south from Naples towards Sicily.

The Libyans move all of their air units to Tripoli, deciding to at least spare the capital city from damage.  The MiG-23s are put on CAP above the city and the Su-20s will coordinate their attacks as the US task force gets closer.

The American carrier USS Nimitz, sends a squadron of A-6 Intruders to bomb Benghazi, scoring a victory point.  The Nimitz also launches some S3 Vikings, which track down and damage the Libyan submarine, the Fateh.

S-3 Vikings damage Libyan sub, Fateh.

The Libyans combine their surface force of small attack boats into a single task force for protection.  I’m not convinced this is the right tactic but we’ll see if it works.  Turn 2 to come later!

Eisenbach Gap: Scenario 1 – First Moves

Lock ‘n Load Publishing’s World at War series began a few years ago with their first product, World at War: Eisenbach Gap, which is a real gem of a game.  It features platoon-level combat set in a ‘what if’ war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact in 1985.

The game is exciting and fun as each side has a host of interesting decisions to make regarding command and control in the face of unpredictability.  Every turn, the players take turn pulling counters or ‘chits’ out of a cup to see who can move their units.  To represent NATO’s greater command and control ability back then, they get two chits in the cup while the Soviets only get one.  But fear not, the Soviet player gets more units to throw at the NATO player, which means that both sides have to use their different advantages carefully in order to pull off a win.

Over the next several days, I’ll be doing battle reports of some scenarios from this game and I hope you enjoy it.

Soviet 1st Tank Division ready to push towards Eisenbach. May 14th, 1985.

The first scenario features a fairly straightforward battle where the Soviet 1st Tank Division must take the town of Eisenbach to the east (yeah, it sounds like the Russians are going in the wrong direction but it works anyways).  The tank division consists of 12 T-72 tanks, which are pretty devastating in their own right.

Soviets approach Eisenbach from the west.  NATO is prepared near the town.

The NATO force, Team Yankee, consists of two M1 platoons, some infantry with anti-tank (AT) launchers, an ITV and an M-113.  I positioned them on the hills near Eisenbach in hopes of getting off some shots as the Russians crept towards the town.

Complete Soviet domination.

By the end of the game, the large Soviet force had utterly defeated Team Yankee and taken Eisenbach.  An American ITV managed to survive the Soviet push but the use of close assault tactics by the Russians sealed the Americans’ fate.

Sixth Fleet: Scenario 5: Aegean Offensive

I reviewed the Sixth Fleet game recently and now I’d like to post a report of a solo play of the game.  I hope you’ll see the appeal of the game system from reading about how it went.  In this intermediate scenario, the Soviets have invaded the island of Lemnos near Greece and the US must get its forces, consisting of two task forces, into the Aegean Sea.

The Soviets are trying to stop the Americans from entering the Aegean and getting involved in the conflict.  The Russians have two task forces and a bunch of submarines with which to do this.  The entire game lasts 10 turns, which is about 3 days.

Day 1:

US satellite came online in the morning and helped track a Soviet task force in the far east and a Soviet sub in the Western Med. On paper, the US Navy should have steamrolled into the Aegean (its final objective) but bad luck and even worse weather really screwed them over.

The US carrier task force launched four full squadrons on a bombing mission versus the Soviet task force. The Soviet carrier’s CAP with a measly group of Yak-38s actually managed to bounce the flights back, causing the bombing run to abort. This happened twice in the same day!

The Soviets managed to sink the USS Thach and the USS Stark as they tried to enter the Aegean Sea.

They also managed to launch a successful Tu-16 bombing raid against the American carrier force, sinking the USS Degrasse.

The Sixth Fleet was lucky enough to have a squadron of B-52s dispatched by the Pentagon to help out. They arrived in Naval Station Rota but a storm in the eastern Atlantic grounded them. A storm in the Adriatic also forced both the Soviet and US fleet to keep their forces in the Central Med zone.

Day 2:

The weather across the Med. settles down a bit. Storms abate in the Atlantic and the Adriatic. The US rejoices as its squadron of B-52s is unleashed. Satellites also come online for the US and pick out three previously undetected subs along with the location of the Soviet carrier task force.

A flight of Tu-16 recon aircraft attempts to find the US task force in the Central Med. but is jumped by American F-16s based in Sicily.

The US carrier task force sends out A6s together with F-18s to hit at the Soviet carrier Minsk and her counterparts. This time they utterly destroy the squadron of Yak-38s on CAP and severely damage two ships in the Soviet task force. The Nimitz steams towards the Aegean and nears the Greek island of Lemnos.

Soviet subs inflict light damage on a second US task force to the west but are largely ineffective. The Russian carrier and cruisers launch SSMs at the US task force but strong air cover and effective anti-air efforts destroy much of the incoming missiles before they land a hit.

The real damage happens when American B-52s from Rota find the second Russian task force and obliterate 3 ships, destroying the task force entirely.

Day 3:

Squalls pour across much of the northern part of the Mediterranean. Soviet satellites identify the US carrier task force very close to the island of Lemnos.

Soviet subs attempt to dispatch the carrier escorts but are unsuccessful. The US manages to destroy almost the entire Soviet task force except for the Kirov-class cruiser and the Kulkov. Utterly decimated, the remaining Soviet cruisers launch tactical nuclear weapons at the US carrier task force. The entire group of ships, except for the Nimitz, is destroyed. The Nimitz is heavily damaged.

The B-52s from Rota are dispatched and destroy the Soviet cruisers that fired the nuclear weapons. The entire Soviet surface fleet is now gone.

The US player moves the remaining task force from the Central Mediterranean into the Aegean Sea along with a small group of submarines and the damaged USS Deyo. Despite attempts by Soviet subs to finish off the wounded Nimitz, they are unsuccessful. The US claims a marginal victory.

Hornet Leader – Mission 2 – Short Campaign (Part II)

Coming back with some stressed pilots from the previous Close Air Support mission, I was hoping that the next day would feature a nice milk run, but it was not to be.

I managed to pull three target cards that were all secondaries, so I was left with pulling one primary card and I got…a weapons factory in northern Iraq.  It was a nasty-looking mission right out the gate with multiple AA sites and SAMs surrounding it, not to mention a nearby airfield with lots of enemy air cover.  I would need every single pilot available to finish this mission successfully and even then some of the pilots were almost certainly not coming back.
Since the target was located far to the north, this meant that I had to sacrifice weapons for fuel.  To make matters worse, the previous mission featured a “Fleet Supply” card, which meant that I would have even fewer weapons to load onto my planes.  I settled mostly on AGM-88s to take out the huge number of SAM sites near the site.  Since the target was heavily reinforced, I packed on more bombs in favor of air-to-air missiles and this would be the fatal mistake.
The flight made it to the target without incident but once having arrived, several extremely dangerous enemy aircraft were present at the site.  SU-27s and Mig-29s immediately engaged my bombing aircraft, which managed to evade their shots but the cost in evading their missiles piled on the stress.  “Cracken”, the A-6 pilot with the biggest load of bombs, was near the breaking point by turn 2.
The fighters (grey counters) are over the target.  The red counters are enemy AAA and SAMs.
By the beginning of turn 3, the AAA, SAMs and missiles had taken their toll on everyone.  The fighter escorts managed to shoot down most of the deadlier MiGs and the SU-27 fighter but they were left with no missiles left for the MiG-23s directly over the site.   The one silver lining is that the newbie, “Banzai”, managed to land a kill on a MiG that had somehow evaded the missiles fired by my more experienced pilots.
Turn 4 and it was evident that we were in trouble.  The pilots had been evading ground fire.  “Cracken”, having had his share of stress, was about to go on his bombing run when Banzai took two hits from AAA fire and was shot down.  Suppression attempts on the ground-to-air defenses seemed to do very little.  An SA-10 near the target site shot at “Cracken” and suddenly, it was all too much.  He jettisoned his weapons and made a run for home.  Although my other pilots could have remained and taken a run at the target, there simply wasn’t enough bombing power to take out the factory.  With stress levels at their maximum and one pilot shot down, I decided to end the campaign on day 2.  The final rating was a measly 4 victory points, which ranked as “Poor”.  
Lessons Learned:  When loading ordnance onto aircraft, never let one aircraft be the “main” carrier of all the weapons.  If it’s shot down by chance, your mission is completely hooped.  Always load enough air-to-air missiles on your fighters.  Refuse a mission if you think your pilots need rest and won’t be able to handle it.  Your VPs may suffer but it’s better than having to end the campaign altogether.