Miniature Ordnance Review looks at the world of historical and fantasy miniatures wargaming and model building. From 15mm Flames of War, to Warhammer 40K, to 1/35th scale tanks, with some potential surprises on the horizon - you'll find them here!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Coda - My Final Firestorm Red Thunder Battle Report

Bonus post for today!!!  My final battle report from the Firestorm Red Thunder online campaign. I sort of went into symbolism mode a bit on this one, but hey - it was my last report. Time to cut loose, yes?




  • the concluding passage of a piece or movement, typically forming an addition to the basic structure.
  • the concluding section of a dance, especially of a pas de deux, or the finale of a ballet in which the dancers parade before the audience.
  • a concluding event, remark, or section
Well, this will likely be the final battle report I file for Firestorm Red Thunder. My son and I played another game tonight - I picked up some new terrain and finally got my mat in, so we re-worked the table just a bit, rolled for a mission, and went from there. He still seems to be enjoying the game and used a Marvin the Martian head to denote his force commander - hence his handle for this game. I'm going to have to update his forces a bit so they'll be more competitive going forward, but I have the vehicles to do part of it. I'm also hoping when Stripes comes out that we'll be able to flesh out his force a bit more as well.

I really enjoyed the style I used last time for the battle report, so I figured I'd go with it again because it was fun to do. So welcome to another chapter, but not the final chapter by any measure!

Excerpts from "A History of the Third World War" by...

Chapter 8 - The American Offensive Stalls in the DDR

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility;
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger. . . .

- King Henry - Henry The Fifth Act 3, scene 1, 1–6

The American offensive through the Hof Corridor using POMCUS (Prepositioning Of Materiel Configured in Unit Sets) forces in the second week of the war took the Soviets and East Germans completely by surprise. American armored and mechanized divisions were able to open a gap and pour across the Inner German Border, or innerdeutsche Grenze, driving on Leipzig with an eye to open a corridor to Berlin itself. The American high command was, however, equally unprepared for the ferocity of the Warsaw Pack counter-attack and soon found themselves engaged on all sides as Soviet, East German, and even the occasional Polish unit attempted to reduce the Leipzig Salient as it came to be known...

In addition to the prestige of driving into Warsaw Pact territory and opening a corridor to Berlin, the Americans sought to neutralize the Soviet SAM batteries which were prevalent in that part of East Germany. Leipzig effectively marked the eastern boundary of one of the primary SAM umbrellas. Unfortunately making it that far prevented the Americans from making any further meaningful contributions on other fronts of the war as Hannover continued to be squeezed in a pocket. Eventually the city would...

A small town near Halle served as the setting for one of many spectacular reversals of fortune encountered by the Americans in East Germany. Their counterattack in the area was designed to push the East Germans off balance, but they were dealing with the elite of the NVA, or Nationale Volksarmee, in the 9. Panzer Division "Heinz Hoffmann." At this point in the war, the East German commanders were ruthless - willing to take severe casualties in order to crush the American offensive. However, attrition levels would eventually...

The East Germans focused their forces on two key assets in the town, a ford across the local river, and the rail yard. Expecting the Americans to focus their effort on the rail yard, the NVA forces were well positioned to cut off any advance in that area. They also knew that they could rely on reinforcement from the direction of the town as well - it was just a matter of holding off long enough to force the Americans back.

Much ink has been spent analyzing the American offensive into East German with many sources, mostly British, declaring it at best a "reckless misadventure" and at worst "fatal hubris." However, careful analysis shows that the Americans were not quite so reckless as some analysis would indicate. They attempted to husband their resources, and individual commanders generally showed a coolness under fire that belied the overall worsening strategic situation. It would be these commanders which would ultimately...

In fact, it would often be the East German commanders showing more reckless behavior. Of course, weight of numbers was generally their only advantage. Despite showing better discipline than some of their Soviet counterparts, the NVA went to battle in tanks that in many ways were inferior to their Soviet counterparts both in protection and armament. NATO tanks were in every way more mobile and could put more shots downrange moving or at a standstill. Warsaw Pact commanders, especially in NSWP (Non-Soviet Warsaw Pact) forces, therefore had to play numbers games with the lives of their troops - sacrificing some to allow others to be in a favorable position to defeat the enemy.

The net result is that the first echelon troops were burned through very quickly, forcing the commitment of...

In this particular battle, the American commander's tactical grasp of the situation was excellent, and he quickly realized that the ford was the better target to attack. The East German commander was therefore forced to throw weight of armor against the Americans to keep them pinned down until additional help could be redeployed from the rail yard. However, the American continued to use his mobility to his advantage - first moving up mechanized infantry to take over a Party Official's house near the ford, while simultaneously attacking the NVA artillery battery and wiping out a short company of T-72 tanks.

The NVA commander near Halle did his level best to make good use of the terrain and put his panzers in a position to force back the Americans, but his T-72s simply lacked the mobility of the American Abrams, and many of them found themselves bogged down in soft ground in wooded areas dotting the region. This opened a window of opportunity for the Americans to seize the ford and force the NVA out of the area. This would have opened the road to Leipzig...

“A piece of spaghetti or a military unit can only be led from the front end.”

― George S. Patton Jr.

The M1 Abrams tank was a quantum leap forward in military technology for the U.S. Army, but there were always too few at the point of attack to bring home any lasting victory, and so it was near Halle as well. The American commander was able to keep the flanking NVA armor at bay with Copperhead rounds from his M109 howitzers, while his surviving Abrams tanks and the infantry pushed the assault on the ford home, but it always went back to the numbers game. At this point in the war there seemed to be an inexhaustible supply of Warsaw Pact men and materiel. Later on...

... and yet the Americans did have a chance to secure at least a tactical victory in this battle. Two surviving Abrams tanks supported by mechanized infantry reached the ford and found themselves at close range with the remaining T-72 tanks supported by a couple of T-55s. Uncharacteristically, the American gunnery failed at this point, and despite outflanking the NVA to the rear, the commander's tank was ultimately destroyed.

So the end result was like so many in the region which saw brave Americans killed or captured. The surviving American infantry in the Party Official's house were captured and sent off to POW camps. It was only after the war that...

Final, Final Notes and Battle Honors

If the American dice hadn't suddenly gone very cold, I firmly believe my son would have pushed me off of the objective and I would have had to scramble to try and take it back. When his two Abrams finally busted through with infantry support, I thought he might have it, but then he missed literally everything, but he was a great sport about it.

Wrapping it all up...

故兵貴勝 不貴久

"What is essential in war is victory, not prolonged operations."

- Sun Tzu

So this is it - the final battle report I'm likely to have for Firestorm Red Thunder. Overall I've found this campaign to be a lot of fun, and a great learning experience - not just about the Team Yankee game, but about Cold War history and weapon systems as well. When I've played previous incarnations of Flames of War, I've often been the expert - especially on all things German. This time around it was nice to play the role of the avid student.

Thank Yous

First I'd like to thank Battlefront, especially Phil Yates, and the Beasts of War Crew for putting together a great campaign and system!

I'd also like to thank my co-generals on the Warsaw Pact Team, Red Alert and Alexei - along with the whole Pact crew for many great battles and discussions on the faction forum!

I'd like to thank my friends in the local gaming group at Guardian games, especially Ryan, Barca, and Zeke for use of their armies in the early days, and their support (and occasional indulgence) as the campaign progressed.

Thanks also to the American, West German, and British commanders for rallying your troops and for many outstanding battle reports!

I was in high school during 1985, and was in undergraduate school with the Berlin Wall fell and later when the Soviet Union dissolved. As fun as the Team Yankee wargame is, and as mentally stimulating as considering various cold war gone hot scenarios is, quite frankly I'm glad the Cold War ended as it did rather than what we're playing on the table. So in keeping with the theme of this report - I leave you with a song that appeared at the right time... feel free to bring out the lighters!

Until next time, this is General Fingolfen, Warsaw Pact Liaison signing off...

Warsaw Pact Wins

The ČSLA in Niederbayern - A Firestorm Red Thunder After Action Report

Only a couple of more battle reports to port over at this point.  For this one I wanted to focus on a different area of the conflict and one of the other combatants involved in the conflict, in this case the ČSLA or Czechoslovak People's Army. My primary reference was an older Osprey book which, as fate would have it, had some errors in bringing over the correct terminology. One of the members of the campaign (landaredh) helped out with some corrections:

It is ČSLA (as it stands for Československá Lidová Armáda – meaning Czechoslovak People’s Army) but more importantly

1. Tanková Divize

20. Motostřelecká Divize

Tankova Divisia souds like a butchered Slovak version (It would actually by 1.Tanková Divízia in Slovak).

Also, apparently the ČSLA didn't have Shilkas. Hopefully we can get expedient Czechoslovak and Polish lists written up for the next campaign.


As the overall firestorm campaign begins to wind down, the plan is for the "Fulda Gap" firestorm campaign at Guardian Games to pick back up. Attendance tonight was good, but we only ended up with two tables running because people were running late because of traffic, work, and all of those other normal life issues that interfere with good gaming! Tonight I played Barca, and unfortunately his force wasn't ideal to face mine, but he was game and started out strongly.

Once facet of the hypothetical World War III as presented in the Team Yankee books that I don't think has been adequately explored are the Non-Soviet Warsaw Pact (NSWP) armies apart from the NVA. In the German theater one would likely see Czech and even Polish forces operating alongside Soviet and East German forces. Unfortunately at this point we don't have specific rules for either the Czechs or Poles, but the East Germans are probably as good an approximation as any at this point for their force organization given the lack of T-64s in any nation outside of the U.S.S.R.

Though I don't have any at this point, there are some unique Czech and Polish vehicles that could also look good on the table that would proxy pretty well for existing units. For example, the Czech OT-64 SKOT APC is pretty much a drop-in replacement for the BTR-60. Vehicles like the 152mm SpGH DANA wheeled self-propelled gun are a bit more problematic, as the gun is on the level of an Acacia, but the largest gun artillery currently available in the NVA list is the Carnation - and both of those vehicles are tracked, not wheeled. One could still likely get away with a Carnation proxy, but it would be fun to see some of these vehicles on the table.

So what follows is the battle report of 1 Tankova Divizia of the CSLA (Czechoslovak People's Army) encountering an American force outside of its normal support areas. I've decided to go with a different narrative style this time - someone (we don't know who) writing a history of the Third World War. I'll have the narrative drop off from time to time as we just don't know how this thing is going to turn out yet. I hope you enjoy it!

Excerpts from "A History of the Third World War" by...

Chapter 6 - The CSLA Adventure in Niederbayern

"If the nation only knew their hands dripped with innocent blood, it would have met them not with applause but with stones." - Georgy Zhukov

In the opening weeks of World War III, Soviet forces were quickly able to overrun much of northern Germany and conquered Denmark. Their offensive was brought to a standstill as they tried to reach Amsterdam, but in central Germany they managed to break through into the Ruhr and closed on Frankfurt trapping much of the BOAR in a pocket around Hanover. Toward the south, the Americans made a thrust through the Hof Corridor into the Deutsche Demokratische Republik near Leipzig in an effort to relieve Berlin, but were met with unexpectedly harsh resistance stalling that offensive. In the South, the Americans were able to begin pushing Soviet forces back in Niederbayern leading Stavka to commit the Czechoslovak 1 Tankova Divizia to the fighting in the region as they committed their forces further north.

Realizing that most of the Soviet forces had repositioned themselves, the Americans were confident they could hold the line in Neiderbayern and perhaps begin pushing into Czechoslovakia itself. They neglected to consider that they were facing a relatively fresh enemy who had been used sparingly in the first weeks of the war and enjoyed very short supply lines back to the Czechoslovak armaments factories.

The American Fifth Mechanized Infantry Division, the Red Diamond or Red Devil Division, was deployed through the POMCUS (Prepositioning Of Materiel Configured in Unit Sets) system in the second week of the war. While most POMCUS forces were committed to the attack into East Germany through the Hof Corridor, the 5th Mechanized Infantry Division was diverted south to shore up the lines and force back Warsaw Pact forces in Niederbayern near the border of Czechoslovakia.

Equipped with the new M1 Abrams tank, the 4th Battalion, 35th Armor Regiment, 1 Brigade was at the northern end of the local front. The Abrams tank was a technical marvel, but it was thirsty and it was somewhat under-gunned, especially as compared to the new Bundeswehr tank, the Leopard 2. This led to several tanks being lost early in the deployment when they engaged numerically superior Warsaw Pact, especially Czechoslovak, forces without adequate support. Ultimately, their tactics would improve...

One such misadventure started on August 17, 1985, when a company of M1 Abrams tanks had fallen behind and stopped to refuel. They had just completed the refueling operation when they encountered probing elements of the Czechoslovak 1 Tankova Divizia. The CSLA force was balanced and included reconnaissance elements, artillery, and anti-aircraft units in addition to its T-72B and T-55AM2 main force, but lacked any real infantry support as the motor rifle groups had been focused further south.

"Some goddamn fool once said that flanks have got to be secure. Since then sonofabitches all over the globe have been guarding their flanks. I don’t agree with that. My flanks are something for the enemy to worry about, not me. Before he finds out where my flanks are, I’ll be cutting the bastard’s throat." - George Patton

The CSLA battlegroup sought to use its superior numbers to outflank and overwhelm the enemy, but the scrappy Americans were having none of it...

Taking the initiative, their first platoon moved forward aggressively to eliminate a short company of CSLA T-72B tanks on the south flank while the second platoon moved to cut off the rest of the force, including a battalion of T55AM2 tanks and two more short companies of T-72B tanks. If one of their number had not bogged down due to the soft mud in a small wooded area, their breakthrough attack may well have succeeded. Early M1 tanks often suffered from mud build up between the side skirts and the drive sprocket ring, which was ironically meant to hamper mud seizing the drive train. This issue was later fixed...

With three of his T-72 tanks burning, the CSLA commander immediately ordered his force to advance on the northern flank, while he repositioned one company of T-72B tanks to the southern flank. He also ordered the Reconnaissance squadron to attempt an end run around the American forces to cut off any avenue of retreat. His surviving tanks on the southern flank engaged the American tanks, but their shots simply bounced off the armor of the Abrams. At this point in the conflict, the Soviets were not supplying NSWP armies with the best available ammunition. This would...

The CSLA end run with the reconnaissance group ended up being a suicide run as all four BRDM armored cars were cut down by the Abrams tanks. However, inexplicably the Abrams were still out in the open - allowing the fresh T-72B company to work itself into a better firing position, and ultimately the entire platoon was destroyed - three M1 tanks, leaving the south flank entirely open. The loss of these tanks would have immediate implications at the...

The 4th Battalion tanks on the northern flank found themselves under intense fire from all quarters - including Spandrel missiles, T-72B and T-55AM2 tanks. They were able to wipe out an entire company of T-72B tanks, several T-55AM2, and at least one Spandrel, but found their position untenable. With the southern flank failing, the surviving Abrams tanks used their superior mobility to bid a hasty retreat from the battlefield.

As was standard practice at the time, the CSLA official unit histories hailed this as a great victory, but was it really? Certainly it was a tactical victory - an American force had been encountered and forced to quit the field allowing local gains. However, for the loss of four M1 tanks, the Americans destroyed six T-72B tanks, three T-55AM2, one Spandrel armored car, and four BRDM reconnaissance vehicles. The lack of reconnaissance capability would come back to haunt 1 Tankova Divizia a few days later at the Battle of...

Final Notes and Battle Honors

This will likely be my next to last battle report, and the last one I'll be able to play with the crew at Guardian Games before the end of the Firestorm Campaign. I want to thank everyone in the local gaming group for their enthusiasm and support during the campaign, and I look forward to getting back to our local campaign here next weekend!

I don't know what Battlefront's long-term plans are for other NSWP nations outside of the NVA, but I personally would love to see a few more options in the future. That being said, if you're willing to get different decals and proxy a few things, there's no reason you can't get a Czechoslovakian or Polish force going using the existing Soviet or Volksarmee books - you just wouldn't have access to some of the equipment available to Soviet lists as things like the T-64 weren't exported.

I'll leave you with a final fun fact - the 152mm SpGH DANA is still in service in several countries. Here's one tooling around at NATO Days 2012:

Warsaw Pact Wins

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Closing the Ruhr Pocket - A Firetorm Red Thunder After Action Report

So I'm bringing over another of my battle reports from the recent Firestorm campaign to the blog. This one is special because it was the first major game with real terrain I've been able to play in the new house, and now my son is joining the party as well!


So I finally (!) got my home game room and game table together enough to pull out all of the terrain and set up games at the house! My son Sean had wanted to play for a while, so I sat down and busted out as many Americans I could during the morning and early afternoon (even raiding some kits I'd originally picked up during the big Viet Nam sale a while back), found a few likely Flames of War infantry stands I could use as proxies, and then went about getting the board ready. He's played Warhammer 40K, but he thought this looked fun as well... and he's been obsessed with McPizza King since I showed him the PDF with the signs. So we set up the board, with McPizza King front and center and went from there! We played No Retreat because it has the Deep Reserves rule, limiting how many tanks I could put on the table on the first turn.

So - on with the show!!!

Personal Journal of Major Erich Kriegler, NVA

After several days continuous fighting around Leipzig, that theater has been passed to other forces and we've been recommitted to fighting in the Ruhr. I hope this drive will force the surrender of the West German puppet state allowing us to unite Germany once more in the cause of international socialism, but honestly I'd settle for a few days leave at this point!

We've been advancing quickly in this area, and I secured a small town between Münster and Duisburg with a minimal force as most of the armor and the reconnaissance platoon probe along our axis of advance. All of the road signs in the region have all been knocked down to confuse our advance, and all of the documents in the town hall were burned and the computers erased before we arrived. I set up a temporary command at a small farm at the edge of town near an old rail station. The rail station looks serviceable and may be of some military value. The capitalist overlord of the town also had a horde of wine and other valuables. I have the approaches to the rail yard mined - including both sides of the petrol station (drained dry - we already checked) and the parking lot of the McPizza King (still in operation - despite all stories to the contrary, the pepperoni poppers are actually quite good).

My force has been supplemented by a battery of Hail missile launchers. These are modernized versions of the Stalinorgel used by the Red Army during the last war. I'm not sure how much value they'll be, but I was ordered to bring them along during this advance, and I am a loyal soldier. If nothing else, I can have the crews guard the wine cellar.

I soon receive reports of an American probing attack - armor and mechanized infantry at the very least, and they'll be here before dawn! What I wouldn't give for a few of those American thermal imaging systems at this point!

The reconnaissance platoon indicates that this is a new American commander who has bloodied the nose of a few units in the area, and looks to push our forces out of town before we can consolidate. At least I know we currently enjoy local air superiority so I won't have those blasted helicopters to contend with!

Given the darkness I deploy my forces carefully so I don't present bright targets for the Americans. I don't want my force destroyed before I even see the enemy! I get in my panzer and join first company's T-72 tanks behind a small wood near the farm at the edge of town. I assign the Shilka battery and Hail battery to guard the decadent manor home. My 2S1 artillery battery is covering the approaches to the rail yard, and I've sent the Spandrel launchers forward in hopes they can find a good spot to launch a surprise attack.

My observers report movement in the south end of town. Armor, mechanized infantry, and armored artillery. Looks like he's come prepared. Hopefully his artillery doesn't have any of those blasted heavy anti-tank rounds. His forces are too far away to reliably target at night, so now we play the waiting game, I work to make sure my panzers can cut off his if he makes a run for the rail yard.

Through the inky blackness it is hard to see what the Americans have planned. It appears that their mechanized infantry in their APCs are simply strolling through the middle of town! What do they have planned? I have reports of American heavy tanks on both the left and right flanks. I can't guard everything with the meager force I have available to me now! The Shilka and Hail batteries won't survive direct American armored attack. I radio 2nd and 3rd companies along with the T55 group, they are on their way, but through the dark they aren't making good time.

I can now see the Americans, and they are incredibly close! They have already broken into the rail station grounds, completely bypassing the minefields around the petrol station. The enemy APCs have pulled up to the old church to the north of the town - it looks like they may begin occupying it. Tanks are also closing in on the manor house, if the others don't arrive soon, it is going to be too late! Before I can order my panzers forward, two enemy panzers open fire on the 2S1 that had been observing out of the woods, obliterating it in an instant. The light of the pyre creates eerie shadows in the forest and railroad yard, I know I must close on the railroad yard, and hope that the others can hold off the enemy tanks near the manor. The Spandrels radio and indicate they have a firing solution on the enemy panzers near the manor. I order them to engage as 1st company moves up to cover the rail yard.

The American infantry begins to take up positions just as first company's T-72 panzers reach the rail yard. They're playing hide and seek with the American panzers, but Schultz's tank peeks out for a moment too long and is destroyed by incoming American fire. With the American mechanized infantry in the church behind first company, and the American tanks just on the other side of the railroad building, they are in position to be enveloped quickly. I franticly radio to all incoming forces to move forward with all speed, else we'll be forced to withdraw!

The situation on the opposite flank is equally dire, American panzers have entered the woods near the manor house and are attacking the Shilka battery. Uncharacteristically, their gunfire is inaccurate and only one vehicle is lost.

Then over the radio I hear the most welcome news ever! Second and third companies, along with the first company of T-55 panzers have reached the area! Now we'll see how these Americans deal with the weight of righteous steel!

Despite these new reinforcements, we still find ourselves at a tactical disadvantage. I order first company to turn to face the American infantry in the church, as their anti-tank missiles will murder our T-72s from the rear. I order 2nd company to cover the rear flank of first company, while third company begins to engage the Americans near the manor. I order the first company of T55 panzers to deploy center as the battlefield is suddenly quite crowded and friendly fire is a real concern. That way they can react a crisis on either flank, and they can begin to engage the Americans inside the church.

The American APCs begin to shoot their machine guns at the Spandrels, damaging one, but the remaining spandrels continue to fire, without effect, at the American tanks. One American tank on near the manor is hit, but the fire appears to have been ineffective as it quickly rights itself. The Shilka battery destroys a couple of APCs, but are in turn quickly reduced by the American tanks with the remaining gun fleeing to the rear.

The 2nd and 3rd T-55 companies and the reconnaissance platoon radio in and report that they have nearly reached the operational area as well. This bodes well for our chances, but I don't want to underestimate the Americans. They are using terrain and concealment well, and although it is now daylight, that helps them in cover as they can move with near impunity in the woods!

Third company manages to knock out an American panzer, but the other retreats further into the woods and opens fire on the recently arrived company of T-55 tanks, destroying one and damaging a second. Its commander reports that they may be out of action for some time! Near the rail station, it is a stalemate as both sides jockey for position. I begin to move my tanks closer to get out of range of those damnable American hand-held anti-tank missiles!

We finally manage to destroy the American panzer threatening the manor house, but the American infantry destroys the spandrel launchers at the edge of the wood. Between the BRDM armored cars and a company of T55s, we have the American infantry pinned down in the church. I order third company's T72s to come around and flank the American panzers, however just as they get into position two are struck and destroyed. The enemy observer vehicle had cunningly maneuvered into a position where it could sight his artillery, and they fired their laser guided munitions. Their observer was clearly quite skilled, as soon thereafter two more T-72s were lost in an effort to relieve the infantry in the church.

At this point I've had nearly two full companies of T-72s wrecked. Second company had already succumbed to enemy fire, but the enemy command tank and one of his first platoon tanks had been taken out leaving only one. We engaged in a battle of maneuver with successive waves of T-72 and T-55 tanks dueling with the nimble American beast. If I couldn't destroy him, I was going to push him far enough back to secure the area.

Though they put up a tough fight, ultimately the infantry in the church and buildings are effectively wiped out. No one is firing anymore, and we'll move in and pick up the wounded as prisoners. At this point, the American force pulls back, but yet again the cost has been extremely high. We are once more victorious, but if we continue to take these loses, we'll make no further gains!!!

Final Notes and Battle Honors:

First and foremost my son had a great time playing the game, and I think I may have him hooked. I'll likely be building / painting the forces for a while, but seems like I'll be able to get in a few games at home going forward. The other thing that amazed me was that he was good! He had an intuitive grasp of where his guys needed to be and what they could do. He had me in a real bind early in the game with my tanks stuck between his Dragon missile launchers and his Abrams. If I had only gotten one unit of reserves that turn, I would have had to have made a really tough choice on where it would go given he was threatening both objectives.

I've also pretty much decided that infantry is a must going forward. Sure, I can get the job done with my tanks, but they're a hammer... a blunt instrument... and they can beat through just about anything if they can get there, but it isn't a clean job by any stretch of the imagination. So now I'm going to focus on getting those finished up... of course, then I'll have to work up "real" infantry for my son as well.

So in honor of the weapon system that nearly cost me two companies of T-72s - here's a short video on the Copperhead...

Warsaw Pact Wins

Monday, September 25, 2017

Return of the Mechanized Infantry - A Team Yankee Firestorm Battle Report

I'm still trying to get the final battle reports ported over from the Firestorm campaign, I have about four to go at this point.  I'll also do an "end of campaign" write up as well.  So here's one from a couple of weeks ago that ended in a draw because we ran out of time...


So welcome to the Leipzig battle between Ryan and me - redux - Part 2 - the sequel - this time its personal! Well, maybe not the last one. We rolled back the game, re-positioned our forces just a little bit (but not a huge amount), and started the game over because the last game was fairly unsatisfying.

First off right off the bat, I'm going to tell you there were two things we did wrong in this battle that hurt my NVA forces a bit. We'd misread the Hunter-Killer entry on the helicopters, and played as if the helicopter was perpetually both concealed and gone to ground, when it should have only been gone to ground on the turns that the unit didn't fire (which I don't think was any turns, quite frankly). We also played that the transport vehicles could contest the objectives which required me to keep moving units forward to contest the objective in my quarter. According to the new "More Missions" PDF, transports can't contest. Did it change the outcome of the game? Honestly, I don't know, but I look at every game and every screw-up as a learning experience, and now I get to share my "learning experience" with the whole world!

Now, on with the battle report. As this is essentially a repeat of the previous battle, I decided to have a little fun and tip my hat to the classic movie, "Groundhog Day." Enjoy!


It is with a certain sense of deja vu that I find myself preparing to blunt the American spearhead near Leipzig. The day began at 0600 with new orders from headquarters. I had believed this area would have been secured and that my battalions would be re-assigned to the Ruhr, but yet again we find ourselves facing off against the Amerikaner trying to blunt a spearhead that never should have made it through the Hof Corridor. I contact the commander of the T-55 battalion, Hauptmann Philip Konnors, and tell him to be ready to move out, but he reports that his tanks are still refueling along with one of my T-72 companies. I'll therefore be forced to press ahead with the Shilka battery, the 2S1 battery, the reconnaissance company, and two companies of panzers. I hope it will be enough until reinforcements arrive. If only there were infantry available, but they're guarding the approaches to Dresden in case the Ami's turn south.

Intelligence reports that an American Mechanized Company is in the area. I can't see any infantry yet, but something tells me that the forest near the crossroads is getting ready to be crawling with them. I therefore put my panzers out of sight and let the observer range in on the crossroads. I wonder if I shouldn't have ranged in on those woods instead...

Sure enough, just as the observer has finished ranging in on the crossroads, he picks up movement in the forest. Appears to be one of those accursed American "Hammerheads" - that will cause problems. Minutes later he's joined by infantry. They're ideally positioned to defend the entire area. I'll have to get close to knock them out, but there is a lot of open ground between here and there. Aerial reconnaissance has reported tanks and helicopters incoming as well. Hauptmann Philip had better put his panzers in high gear. Third company commander Hauptmann Gruner has radioed and indicates he's on his way, but it may be close to a half hour before he arrives.

Noting the more direct threat, I order the artillery to shift fire to the infantry in the woods. They are able to range in easily, but the overall fire appears to ineffective. At this point I don't feel as if I have enough firepower to dig them out of the woods, so I hold my panzers back awaiting reinforcements, it turns out to be a wise move. The observer and the Shilka battery both report incoming units - tanks and helicopters! How did they get here so quickly!?!?!?

The accursed helicopters have managed to bounce up from behind a stand of trees and before the Shilka battery can zero in, one is destroyed and another damaged by incoming missile fire. The Abrams tanks fire, but their gunnery is uncharacteristically poor. We're now facing a threat to our flank and we haven't even been able to prepare any sort of attack!!!

The Shilka battery manages to take down one helicopter, but return fire into the panzers near the main road and against the Shilka battery itself is simply ruinous! The company commander of first company survives and I order him to hold position and guard the communication center. I've ordered second company to be ready to engage those Abrams tanks! I plan on joining them in the attack!

With so many of my panzers burning, the surviving Shilka tries to bring down the surviving helicopter, but fails. With a dearth of targets, the Abrams make a drive for the command center focusing their fire on the observer BMP and the 2S1 battery.

With the Abrams tanks so close, I order Second Company to move around their flanks. As I prepare to join them in the attack, the BRDM squadron radios and indicates it is under attack by American APCs. The BRDMs are not armored enough to stand up for long and I order them to fall back. Just as I order my driver to slew around to flank the Americans the world explodes before my eyes. The surviving helicopter gunship has just hit my tank with a missile. I and all the crew make it out of the tank alive, but barely! I will have to command the battle from the Artillery communications point - I just hope their radio is good enough!

The rest of the battle is a blur, but it is very costly. The enemy continues to push his IFVs and scouts forward and between them and the remaining helicopter, the final Shilka and two full companies of T-72 panzers are destroyed. The reconnaissance section is destroyed, as is one company of T-55 tanks which finally arrived in what I was hoping would be a mopping up operation, instead they had to keep the American infantry vehicles off of our command post, wasting a chance to finally begin the offensive. One company of T-55 panzers and Hauptmann Philip Konnors make it to the objective where they are shielded from the one mechanized platoon by a building...

... for some reason their position and orientation looks familiar...

Just as the Americans appear to be repositioning for an attack on the T-55 company, headquarters radios and indicates that we are no longer on the primary axis of advance and that we are to fall back to our starting lines and prepare for new orders. The Americans appear to have received similar orders as their air support retires from the immediate area and their infantry begins to withdraw just as our panzers move away from the crossroads.

The butcher's bill is very high with two companies of T-72 tanks knocked out, our AA battery, the reconnaissance team, and one company of T-55 tanks, but we still have our artillery and three companies of armor. I'll requisition the 2nd company commander's tank and we'll move out...

Final Notes and Battle Honors

So that was a far more entertaining game than the first one. In addition to the tidbits of information in the preamble, I've had a chance to look back at things I could have done differently. One thing I keep forgetting as a long time Flames of War Player (since V2) is that even though I'm Soviet Bloc, I HAVE SMOKE!!! Assuming I could have built up enough armor, I could have laid a smoke bombardment in front of the infantry in the woods and dashed my armor in to where once the smoke cleared they'd have been inside the minimum range of the anti-tank missiles. Assuming I had enough T-72s at that point, their "brutal" gun would have eventually allowed me to clear the wood.

... or, you know, I could just finish painting that dang infantry...

In the end this was just a meat-grinder of a battle, so rather than singling out any one particular unit that performed well with a video... I leave you with a gem of a scene from "Groundhog Day!"

Offical result:  DRAW

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Leipzig Smash and Grab - a Team Yankee Firestorm Battle Report

So I'm currently a few reports behind on bringing over battle reports from the Team Yankee Firestorm campaign.  This is a battle report from last week that didn't quite go as planned, but we did a replay that ended up being a better game.


Guardian Games regular FoW / TY night was bumping yet again with one TY game and two FoW games (the V4 guys have a tournament going on this weekend). I brought pretty much the same army I had last time as I wasn't able to finish my infantry in time for the game... and boy did I miss them! They would have been a big help this time around.

Ryan was out with his very balanced U.S. Mechanized Infantry force, which is difficult to dig out at the best of times, worse with NVA tanks with their fairly weak frontal armor that can be impacted by just about every hand-held American missile out there. Ryan wanted to play in Leipzig, so we went ahead and used the dust up mission for that theater, even though I'd played it the previous week. It is an entertaining mission, but I figured it would be much harder to dig out infantry.

To say that this game really didn't go to plan is a bit of an understatement, and I ended up winning the game on an oversight... which wasn't really satisfying for either of us. So we ended up rolling the game back and starting over for our second game of the night. This report covers the first battle, look out for "Return of the Mechanized Infantry!" for the far more interesting, and bloody, second battle.


Despite the "violence" of our counterattack, the Americans continue to prosecute attacks in this sector and we have been unable to completely drive them back to the West German border. My orders remain clear - I am to push back any enemy forces in this region with extreme prejudice. My own forces consist of a formation of T-72 tanks and a formation of T-55 tanks with supporting anti-air, recon, artillery, and anti-tank AFVs. Our infantry still has not arrived. I asked command to send them forward with all speed, but received a terse reply in return...

My own forces are as ready as they can be, but I am concerned that American mechanized infantry is in the area. If they manage to dig in on our objectives they will be exceedingly difficult to remove. Even their hand held rockets can damage my panzers from the front, which is something our Soviet friends generally don't have to worry about.

As we move out toward a crossroads where the reconnaissance teams have reported American Activity, I'm informed the entire T-55 battalion and one of my T-72 companies are still refueling, and can't set out immediately. However, my orders are clear, I can't delay. I order the anti-tank armored car team to remain behind and cover the refueling panzers, and head out with the rest of my force.

As I approach the crossroads, I realize control of it will allow us to completely cut off the American advance in this sector. Given the Americans are coming from the southwest, there is a choke point where the key crossroads can be controlled. I set up a forward communications center and my artillery sets up its own command center. I assume that there is an American forward base in the vicinity, but I still can't see the enemy at this point. I order the Shilka battery to take up position behind a small wood, while one company of T72 tanks is prowling the area for targets. The 2S1 battery takes up position behind another wood. The recon squadron has managed to find a path behind a forest to the West allowing us greater freedom of movement.

Forward observers report American infantry in the woods near the crossroads. Blast it! Our ranging in behind the house near the choke point will be useless at this point! It looks like a Mechanized Infantry Company from my vantage point. I also have reports of helicopters in the area, but they aren't close enough to be a problem yet. I don't see any enemy armor, but I figure it is merely a matter of time before it puts in an appearance!

Just as I begin to order my forces forward to close with the American infantry, I see rocket plumes erupt from the crossroads slamming into first company's tanks! Two are destroyed in spectacular fireballs before I even know what is happening! I order first company to break off while second company begins working its way toward the objective. The 2S1 battery manages to range in on the American mechanized infantry, but from my vantage point, it doesn't seem to have been particularly effective.

Given a lack of targets, the American missiles go silent, and repeated bombardment of the American position at the crossroad continues to be futile. Local radar and SAM positions report incoming American helicopters which should be upon us in minutes. At the same time the second T-72 company indicates that the crossroads objective appears to be very lightly defended with the infantry out of place if attacked from the flank. I give them the go ahead to begin to work their way toward the objective, but to watch out for incoming fire from American helicopters as they'll be well outside our anti-aircraft umbrella.

The T-72 tanks reach the junction and open fire on the American infantry with their main guns, while they are supported by the BRDM platoon. Though an amazing hail of fire is poured into the woods, the Americans hold firm as their casualties appear to have been very light. Our T-72 tanks are in a good position, but the Americans and their APCs are still in the area.

The deep thrumming of rotors announces the arrival of American helicopters which open up on second company's T-72 tanks. One is destroyed in a spectacular fireball. Then, almost inexplicably, the American APCs move out and engage the BRDM group destroying one. The American infantry, however, does nothing...


At this point we're at the beginning of Turn 3 - the NVA tanks are sitting on the objective, and Ryan hadn't realized that his infantry wasn't within 4" of the objective, so unfortunately Game 1 is over just when it promised to get interesting. My T72 tanks were in a good position, but he'd just had two helicopters pop out along with an Abrams unit. I had 3 Shilka remaining, so it would have been a dog fight from here on out - though I think we were calculating the "to hit" number for his helicopters incorrectly - I'll have to go back through the rules this week.

My lack of infantry support for this list - especially against enemy infantry - is something that continues to be a concern. Hopefully I can get them painted and based this weekend as they are close and I finally have all of their transport vehicles at least assembled.

This is also the first game that Ryan played with the new Scouts rule. It really helps out the American forces quite a bit. Originally the woods were not in the American deployment zone, and their being able to move into the woods and load it up with missile-equipped infantry created a huge zone of denial in the middle of the board.

Be on the look out tomorrow for the sequel to the battle report - the far more interesting battle where my biggest concerns about this particular list are confirmed and more tanks lose their tops than... well... if you've been to Mardi Gras you get the idea!


I thought I'd be able to push Ryan off of the objective from my position on his flank. The only thing that could hit me at that point was his helicopters, and I hoped to deal with them on Turn 3... maybe hope springs eternal, but that was "the plan" anyway. Ryan was a good sport about the mix up, and since we'd only used up about 45 minutes of time, we went ahead and rolled back and hit it again.

Anyway, since the T-72s at least did what they were supposed to do, despite trying to die like mayflies when presented with American missiles, here's a brief video on the T-72 in NVA service! Enjoy!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Blunting the Spearhead in Leipzig - a Team Yankee Firestorm After Action Report

Here's the latest from the front lines. We're entering a very exciting phase of the overall online Firestorm Campaign with the Americans being able to draw on their reserves from Stutgardt and force a breakthrough near Hof. Will they achieve a major breakthrough and open the road to Berlin? Let's find out!


Another great evening of gaming at Guardian Games in slightly less smoky Portland, OR. Earlier in the week the Eagle Creek fire in the Columbia River Gorge blanketed the city in smoke and ash and even began to approach the eastern suburbs of Portland itself. Fortunately the wind changed direction, though we still drastically need some rain!

We had a total of 3 tables of gaming going on tonight with two Team Yankee games and one V4 FoW game being played. I was playing Scott tonight, who I'd played earlier in the campaign. I finally got the first 50 points or so of my DDR army together, and I mean "together" in the most tenuous sense of the word. I generally leave tracks and wheels off for painting and attach them last, so I had to use a generous helping of blue-tack to hold the force together, but it held!

We played the very new Leipzig Dust Up mission for a change of pace... so without further ado!


When I first read the news I was stunned and simply couldn't believe it. Americans? Near Leipzig? Driving toward Berlin? Impossible! Sind sie verrückt?!?!?!? Do they not understand the depth of our reserves? Well if the Americans want to put their heads in the noose, far be it from me to dissuade them.

Our orders were clear!

Our plan was relatively simple given how dire the situation was - move south and intercept the American spearhead driving northeast. We should expect some support and help from the Dresden sector, including 2nd and 3rd echelon troops. I prefer my T-72 tanks, but additional panzers of any type are welcome.

Battle situation near Leipzig

I can't help wondering if our Soviet friends haven't been so focused on their Maskirovka to the north that someone forgot to close the barn door in the south. Yet our successes on the northern front have been spectacular - Denmark conquered, northern Germany in our control, gaining control of the Netherlands, and the British trapped in a pocket in the Ruhr. If we can squeeze that pocket, the British will effectively be out of the war - no Dunkirk for them this time!

However, the fact that the Americans could launch such an attack gnaws at me. We've been mauling their forces around Frankfurt since the War started. Their forces in the Fulda Gap had to withdraw immediately, where are these reserves coming from, and how did they break through the Hof Corridor? Latest intelligence indicated we'd strongly held that sector.

My own forces consist of my core of T-72 tanks with three short companies. Though we have seen victories in the north, our losses have not yet been made good. Our tanks are good tanks, but it seems our Russian friends keep the very best for themselves, none the less we can make do. My reconnaissance section of BRDM armored cars will provide valuable intelligence on the battle ahead while the Shilka should keep the American Air Force off of our backs.

I'm told when I reach Leipzig I'll be reinforced with a battalion of T-55 tanks, some Spandrel anti-tank armored cars, and a Carnation battery. Hopefully they'll be of some use in the coming battle.

While our forces are great in number, they are fragile and we must find a way to counter American mobility!

Our scouts report that the approaching American force is a small spearhead unsupported by infantry - which is just as well as our infantry is still mopping up to the north and I've been told there are no Mot-Schützen Bataillon available for this action either. Maybe it's just as well, I've been told our RPGs and other hand-held anti-tank weapons are useless against these new American tanks anyway!

The Americans use terrain to their advantage

I'm surprised the Americans are committing so much armor, but given there are few lighter vehicles for my forces to attack, I'm therefore forced to overwhelm their tanks with sheer numbers, but our armor is thinner than that of our Soviet friends. I may have to wait for reinforcement to have a chance - I fear a head to head encounter - even with weight of numbers - will go poorly...

As we deploy the horizon appears to be empty - our reconnaissance company has identified a usable road which they believe they can keep open for our reinforcements - accursed American Air Force bombed many of our main roads to rubble making transport difficult! I order one small company of panzers to support the reconnaissance element behind an agricultural field. The Amerikaner wouldn't try to come through those dense woods, would they?

An inauspicious start!

Mein Gott! Those American panzers move through the woods like deer! Before I know what is happening, they're on top of 2nd Company and two panzers are knocked out with the remaining one badly shaken! One of our BRDM scout vehicles is also blown into next week by long-range fire. Their gunnery is excellent, and if this level of mobility in the forest is any indication, its no wonder they managed to outflank us with a large contingent in the Hof Corridor! I order both formations to withdraw so we can regroup. The Spandrel platoon has radioed that they are in position, but don't have good shots at this point - I order them to hold!

New plan - everyone hide!

I order first company into the woods in front of us to cover the approach for any American reinforcements, while the lone remaining tank of 2nd company along with the surviving BRDMs make their way behind a low rise taking them out of visual range for the American guns. They lack the punch of our guns, but we lack the armor our Soviet friends have as well. The Carnation battery manages to damage an enemy panzer, but it is soon back in action.

We now engage in a game of cat and mouse with the enemy tanks, with neither side able to cause any lasting damage to the other. Our artillery manages to range in well, but their shells lack the punch to cause any lasting damage to the enemy panzers. In an effort to keep the artillery off of his back, the American commander orders our observer vehicle targeted, which is destroyed in short order.

American light anti-tank vehicles arrive and begin a run toward the enemy command post to provide static defense. My intelligence reports indicate those vehicles are extremely stealthy and even when they fire a missile at you it may be impossible to zero in on their position. If they reach the enemy command post, they will be a massive thorn in our side.

Spandrels break the stalemate!

With reinforcements finally arriving in the form of third company's T-72s, and the Spandrels reporting they have side shots on two enemy panzers, I feel the time is right to start the counterattack in earnest. The Spandrels knock out two enemy tanks, and the T-72 company begins to move around the flank.

With the loss of two panzers, the American advance begins to falter, but not before they finish off second company. Shots at third company, which had worked their way around the flank, but failed to hit any thing, destroyed one tank, but the a second T-72 managed to deflect the shot. At this point the T-55 company finally arrived and we were able to overwhelm the M1 tanks in the forest on the right flank. At this point the company commander and anti-tank unit retired from the battlefield.

The cavalry arrives!

Our brave Volksarmee forces achieved a great victory today, yet I can't help wondering if the enemy panzers have such awesome mobility, where else are they slipping through our pickets? Had this advance gone unchecked it could have been a complete disaster. So I await further orders... I will not rest until the imperialist Amerikaner are pushed out of Germany - all of Germany!

Final Notes and Battle Honors

I was a little surprised Scott decided to try an almost all tank force - of course that meant my artillery was practically useless, my Shilkas were of limited utility, and my recon force was only really useful for Spearhead... which didn't work out so well initially either. He handled his tanks quite well and was generally able to keep their noses pointed in the right direction. If I hadn't managed to get some side shots on the Abrams knocking out two of them, I think he could have played a delaying game with the six tanks and done a decent job of whittling down my force and at least achieving a draw. Given how fragile the armor is on the Volksarmee tanks, you really have to be cognizant how much return fire you're likely to suffer whenever you poke your nose out! I ended up using more movement orders (blitz & shoot and scoot) this game than ever in the past, and really felt like I had to husband the T-72s especially since they're the only tank that has a chance against the Abrams from the front!

Battle honors!

First to Scott for playing a heck of a game. I left myself wide open with deployment and he suitably made me pay for it! In terms of unit effectiveness, the Spandrels pretty much stole the show coming through with two kills and reducing the amazingly accurate fire I was starting to receive. So in honor of their contribution - here's a fun little video showing some BRDM-2 variants - including the Spandrel (okay they're Hungarian, not East German - but it's amazing to see the real thing in action regardless!).

Warsaw Pact WINS!