At this horrible time it is great to have a distraction or 12 so to help us through Jonathan has kindly started up another PBEM game of Fistful of TOW’s. He did the same last year and I was going to do a full write up once we had finished but the game unfortunately fizzled out. However, we did get through a few moves and it was cracking fun so I am really looking forward to this one. Obviously as the new one is ongoing I can’t post anything about it yet as Des might get some good intelligence about what I’m up to so here’s some of the stuff from last time so you can get an idea of how we are going about it, hopefully it might be of interest and give you some ideas for doing something similar.
First of all Jonathan set out the terrain on his table in his lovely, lofty wargames chambre at his place and sent out a map and briefing to each of us. We wrote our orders and emailed them back and he played out the moves either until orders needed changing or there was some decision point that needed input from either of the players. He then sent out a SitRep that contained pictures from the game obviously taken to restrict the view and we sent new orders back.
It worked a charm and added a great level of friction to the game, best example of which was me completely screwing up a movement order that basically put one of my battalions out of the fight when they could have made a telling intervention, and the not knowing where your opponents units are until you run into them was great, very tense.
So nice and simple really but a bit of work for the host to set up, hopefully Jonathan will say how much in the comments?
Here’s the Maps, briefings and SitReps that we received so you get an idea of what actually went on. One thing I have done for the new one is I’m making situation maps after every SitRep so to avoid a balls up like last time (and it’ll help in the write up)
My friend Jonathan lives in France and is bereft of any opponents and when I was over there last year he suggested he was thinking of setting up a Play by Email (PBEM) game and would I be interested once we had sorted out another person to join in. The idea is this:
Jonathan comes up with the scenario and sends out a map and forces involved to me and my opponent (which is Gavin, a lapsed member of the club which is good in a way as I don’t have any contact with him!)
Gavin and I send back orders of march and our orders
Jonathan fights out the battle on his table sending us updates and requests for new orders when needed which he then acts upon
It has taken a while to get things going but we have started it recently and the first moves have just happened and I’m actually quite excited by it as I like the concept and it is giving Jonathan a nice spin on solo gaming to keep his games room busy!
I’m going to just copy the scenario briefing and map for now as I don’t want to give Gavin any information than he might not know about already. I will be adding more posts as the battle moves along but it will be a few moves ‘behind’ as it were, so again and to not give Gavin any info that he might be able to use to his advantage (that is if he even visits here!), so bear with me but there will be some pics going up in the upcoming weeks once the shooting starts. Bonus points for those that recognise where this scenario is from.
Scenario Briefing: (This has been edited to prevent any precise intel for Gavin!)
Title: First contact at Kostanjevica
Date/Time: 2nd August 1985, 0730.
Forces: US Marines meet Soviet Motor Rifle troops for the first time.
Location: Yugoslavia, somewhere West of Zagreb.
Weather: Clear and dry, visibility is good with a light wind from the SW. General Background
Relations between the East/West blocs having been fraught from some time and Yugoslavia has become one of the flashpoints.
The post Tito regimes have not proven capable of keeping a lid on the nationalist aspirations of the various groupings in the years following his death in 1980.
Following a failed attempt by the pro Soviet Federal government to suppress the, pro Western, Slovenian provincial government the Committee for the Defence of Yugoslavia has called for assistance from the Warsaw Pact.
Specific Background – Soviet
The Soviet Union has once again responded to the calls for help against Western Imperialism by its fraternal brothers. Using Warsaw Pact forces based in Hungary (2 Motor Rifle Divisions) and an airborne division from the strategic reserve first Belgrade and then Zagreb have been secured and the pro-imperialist, secessionist forces forced to retreat. Soviet forces are now following up into Slovenia in order to bring the area back under the control of the legitimate federal government.
As the Commander of ******** the invasion so far has proven to be nothing more than a drive through the towns and villages of Yugoslavia, with the main issue being the number of vehicle breakdowns in the initial move to make contact with the airborne forces.
Unfortunately it seems that the Western powers are not willing to let the people of Yugoslavia make their own decisions but are determined to impose capitalism upon them as intelligence reports indicate that US forces from the Sixth Fleet have landed on the Adriatic Coast of Yugoslavia and are even now headed towards Zagreb.
Your ******* has been tasked with acting as the advance guard for ******* move West to establish contact with the invading forces and secure the area necessary for the rest of the ****** to deploy to defeat the enemy. Your command is currently approaching the town of Kostanjevica on the roads from the North and East, with the rest of ****** behind you.
Somewhat to your surprise (and annoyance) your HQ unit has arrived in Kostanjevica ahead of ********* with only your advance guard ahead to the West. Contact with the ********* has been sporadic (radio issues in the valleys of Yugoslavia?) but you are assured that they are not far behind you.
Initial reports are that elements of the USMC 26th MAU have landed at Fiume and are headed towards Zagreb on your line of march using the roads to the West and South of Kostanjevica.
The air situation is reported as favourable with Soviet, and fraternal comrades from the WP, fighter and air/ground units established in Belgrade and operating over the divisions march route providing support.
Quick apologies about taking so long posting this part but a combination of not feeling great and some PC problems have meant it has taken a while….
After a quick change of plan when we were about to set up we decided to go for a late war Soviet vs German game using the same table as the last battle. As we couldn’t decide which direction we preferred to play a dice was rolled and we ended up playing from opposite sides of the table than last time. This was going to be an encounter battle with both forces tasked with exiting off the other side of the table, classic wargame style. So after picking our forces and hatching plans we got to it.
I had at my disposal the following:
Heavy Panzer Company (Excellent)
3 x King Tiger
Recon Company (Good)
5 x Puma
StuG Company (Good)
3 x PzJgrIV
Panther Btln (Good)
2 coys @ 3 Panther
1 coy @ 4 Panther
PzIV Btln (Good)
2 coys @ 3 PxIVH
1 coy @ 4 PzIVH
Armoured PzrGren Btln (Good)
Pak 40 75mm ATG (Schlepper)
75mm Inf Gun (Truck)
3 x Coys
3 Armd PzGrens (Sdkfz 251/1)
1 MG (Sdkfz 251/17)
1 Sdkfz 251/10
1 Sdkfz 251/9 section
Motorised PzGren Btln (Good)
Pak 40 (Truck)
75mm IG (Truck)
81mm Mortar (Truck)
3 x Coys
3 Motor PzGrens (Trucks)
1 MG (Truck)
150mm & 105mm Battalions
Whilst Comrade Jonathan Elliski had:
1 x Recce Armoured Car company (Good)
4 x BA64
1 x Assault Gun Regt (Fair)
4 x SU85
1 x Hvy Tank Regt (Fair)
4 x IS2
2 x Tank brigades
1 x 76mm field gun + truck
2 x 12.7mm AA truck
3 x medium Tank battalions (all were Marginal)
8 x T34/76
4 x T34/85
1 x Inf battalion (1 was Good/1 was Fair)
6 x SMG inf stands + truck
3 x SMG stands (desant – attached to tank battalion)
3 x ATR stand + truck
1 x 45mm ATG + truck
Off table artillery was:
2 x 76mm battalions (on +1 availability)
1 x 122mm battalion
1 x 152mm battalion
I clearly had the qualitative advantage this time and was hoping that this would help negate the disparity in numbers.
I split my force into 2 roughly equal Kampfgruppe with the Armoured infantry and Panthers tasked with taking the crossroads on the left and then exploiting forwards along the road, they would be led by 3 of the Puma platoons and supported by the 155mm battalion. The truck borne Infantry supported by the assault guns and led by the remaining 2 Puma platoons would go hell for leather for the town and hold it if possible. Whilst this was happening the PzIV battalion was to head across the middle of the battlefield for the lateral road near the enemy’s startline and then exploit either left or right as the situation dictated. The Tiger company was to take position on the long ridge to the left rear of the town to cover the advance of the Pz IV’s and to act as a reserve. I had also planned to put my troops into battle over a few moves so that I could change plans if needed and also to not show my hand too early.
Jonathan and his red horde won the initiative and took a typically bullish Soviet approach with all of his units hitting the table from the off. He had had a similar idea as me it seemed pushing a Tank Brigade down each of the cross battlefield roads, one headed for the town on my right and one headed for the crossroad on the left. His heavy tanks waddled towards the small wood in the centre but apart from them there was a huge gap between the two forces. Pretty soon our respective recce types clashed with mixed results, on the left I managed to get onto the ridge by the crossroads and cause the Soviets to duck into the wood for cover, on the right I got bounced out of the town and passed a message back to the following infantry to deploy across the road and into the woods and get ready for company! The battle now split into 2 battles on the flanks which were quite close run things.
Over on the left the Soviets quickly abandoned the road and the mass of tanks swung round the right whilst the majority of the infantry and the surviving recce holed up in the wood along the road. I managed to place 2 companies of Panthers into position along the ridge and down by the farm just in time to face this massive onslaught, whilst deploying a company of infantry into the wood on the extreme left as a back-stop position and deploying the battalion heavy weapons in the small copse. The remaining 2 Halftrack companies along with the larger Panther company were swung round towards the ridge across from the swamp to try an outflanking manoeuvre but came up against the SU-85’s Jonathan had left here. The fighting around the farm and crossroads was very intense with the awful Russian troops having a very hard time registering any hits on the defending Germans who were happily content to sit in whatever cover they could find and whittle away at the masses of tanks. I had also won the artillery duel over here too with my gunners far out performing their opposite numbers.
Puma’s take the crossroads
SU-85’s in reserve
Armoured infantry head for cover
Crossroads defences firm up
T-34 shooting gallery gets ready
Oh for some Stukas or Henschels!
On the right the Soviet infantry quickly took possession of the town and my Infantry had shaken themselves out into a line to try and stop a Soviet breakthrough, hoping to buy enough time for the PanzerJagers and Tigers to come up. Things didn’t look to go too well initially with a FUBAR with one of my barrages coming down on the chaps that called it in causing a complete company of infantry in the woods to become suppressed just as the Soviet tanks and SMG wielding tank riders hit them in a close assault. This caused a hole that looked like it would be enough for the godless Bolsheviks to exploit as the are wont to do but they came acropper through a combination of last ditch defending from the remaining infantry, a timely intervention by the company of JagdPanzer IV’s and an absolutely heroic stand by a platoon of Puma armoured cars that swatted off numerous attempts to destroy it whilst taking out T-34/76’s with gay abandon (again helped greatly by the disparity in troop quality).
but a company is hit by their own artillery
the line will hold though
How to win ze Iron Cross.
In the middle my attempt at inserting the PzIV company into the rear of the Soviets nearly came unstuck as the company of IS-2’s emerged from the wood and started knocking out platoons from long range, however after some judicial use of smoke and scarpering off as quickly as I could I managed to get the survivors out of harms way. About this time my King Tiger company had also taken up its post to cover the rear of the advancing PzIV’s and they seemed to entice the Soviet heavies onto them like giant armoured sirens, surviving a long range salvo and causing one of the Soviet behemoths to brew up in the return fire.
Panthers about to flank Su’s in the swamp
PzIV’s burn as IS-2’s emerge from the wood
To get some payback from…
… lovely King Tigers
It was at this point in proceedings that Jonathan decided that it was pointless to carry on and risking a meeting with the NKVD was better than trying to bludgeon his way forwards. By now he had lost nearly all his tanks and my PzIV’s and flanking Panther company were about to break into the rear of his survivors on the left, I wouldn’t have been able to retake the town on the right from him as my infantry over here were too weak after their heroic defence but once the Tigers had finished with his heavy tanks there was nowt stopping them from trundling into the rear of that position too. So, another great game came to an end (the amount of FUBARS rolled with our artillery during this game was amazing causing some great moments of fun!) and Jonathan’s new table was well and truly broken in. It was good to play FFT3 in a WW2 setting as I’d only done so once before and they did stand up well, showing that you don’t have to fleece gamers by bringing out rules and stats ad infinitum just to make more money (you know who I mean!), just write one good set of rules and bung all the stats you need into one edition. We did have a chat about some things that might be worth trying out in future games, such as a rolling a df10 for Quality tests as sometimes it just seems pointless trying when you’ve got shite troops and infantry will have more of a chance of sticking around too after they’ve been hit.
Again many, many thanks to Jonathan for a great weeks holiday in his lovely place it was truly fantastic. I’m already looking forward to next years trip and hopefully I will be joined by a couple of others so that we can have a some proper big games.
Jonathan has been living in France for a while now and has slowly but surely been converting a room in one of his outbuildings into his gaming room. He recently finished the work (all bar the roofing and installation of the skylight windows was done by him) and invited me over to spend a few days and play a couple of games. I was booking flights as soon as I had finished reading the email! So, Monday saw a bleary eyed and knackered me fresh from the Ally Pally weekend head off to Stansted for the short hop to Limoges. Jonathan met me at the airport and a couple of hours later we were at his place bang in the centre of the country in the lovely, sunny Allier department. I won’t go on about his abode too much (the memories are just too recent and raw at the moment) but will let the pictures speak for themselves, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and muddle through. I live in Peckham and have come to expect a certain level of noise and grime and I had contend with this for 5 days….
House from the gaming room
Across the courtyard to the barn
gaming room is in the top room here
View through the gate
If that wasn’t bad enough Jonathan plied me with nice beer and pastis whilst I was forced to eat lovely food, some of which didn’t even come from the supermarket but some strange place known as ‘the vegetable garden’. I know, right. Then to cap it all I was expected to actually partake in a couple of games of Fistful of TOWS in this space…
Boardgames under the table
..more, there’s terrain on the other side.
Rules, scenarios etc. on the left, models and figures in the boxes
Looking down the 10×5 foot table (IKEA Kitchen units)
A very tidy workspace
Fiction (a lot of Sci-Fi) Library
Game 1: Soviet vs Swedish 1985 (FFT3 Rules, 6mm)
As Jonathan had just finished painting up the Swedes he was keen to get them on the table for a run out. I was happy to try smiting them with some good old fashioned Soviet smityness so I got busy rummaging through the 4 or 5 boxes of Soviet kit (he’s got a LOT of stuff!) to get a force together while he set the terrain up and pretty soon we were good to go. A quick aside on the terrain: Jonathan is still getting this into shape as it were but as the room was ready he really wanted to get some games in so what we used isn’t the finished article. But, as you can see by the rest of the room I reckon it’ll be very nice once it is all done!
.. and from the other end
We decided to play across the table so each of our forces would have to cover a scale frontage of 12km (120″) with the Swedes defending and on hidden deployment. So I had plenty of room for manoeuvre as there was no way Jonathan could be everywhere with the forces he had, however, as my mission was to secure the roads exiting off of his table edge he could afford to concentrate to thwart me. To achieve my mission I had the majority of a Category 2 Motor Rifle Division, the Recce Btln and the BMP’s were obviously off doing something else! :
Tank Regiment (Quality: Fair)
Off table SP 152mm Btln
3 x Batteries
3 Tank Btlns
Motor Rifle Coy
3 Infantry + BMP-2
2 x Motor Rifle Regiments (Quality: 1 x Poor, 1 x Marginal)
Recon Coy (in 1 Regt)
Recon Coy (in 1 Regt, the poor one – a Reserve unit no doubt)
2 Jeeps (yeah, my mistake but thought it’d be fun!)
3 BTR Btlns
1 120mm Mortar + Truck
1 Sagger team + BTR-60PB
1 AGS-17 AGL + BTR-60PB
9 Infantry stands + BTR-60PB
Off table Towed 122mm Artillery Btln
Off table Divisional 152mm Art Regt (This could only be called in by the FOO or Recce stands)
3 Btlns of 3 batteries
1 BM-21 MRLS battery
2 Mil-Mi 24
To face this Jonathan had a full strength Armoured Brigade which we were both keen to see in action as they are kind of an unusual force with mixed companies, lots of jeeps, recoilless rifles and, of course, the S-Tank.
Swedish Armoured Brigade (Quality: Good)
HQ com stand + truck
truck + 40mm AA gun (attached div asset)
Arm Recce Company
HQ com stand + jeep
2 x APC + inf stand
jeep with 90mm RCL
jeep + LMG stand
jeep + inf stand
HQ com stand + jeep
truck + Redeye stand
truck + towed 20mm AA gun
HQ com stand + jeep
jeep with 90mm RCL
jeep + Bantam ATGW stand
truck + inf stand
3 x Armd Battalion
HQ com stand + Pbv-302A
2 x inf stand + jeep
2 x Armd company
3 x Strv103
1 x inf stand in Pbv-302A
2 x Mech inf company
3 x (inf stand + Pbv-302A)
1 x jeep + 90mm RCL
In support this had :
1 Off table Brigade towed 105mm Artillery Btln
1 Off table Divisional towed 155mm Artillery Btln
My dice throws for the quality of my units was quite bad whilst Jonathan rolled up a bunch of Viking beserkers which meant my numerical advantage was nicely balanced by the qualitative advantage held by the Swedes. I was allowed a pre-game barrage and we agreed that I’d roll a d6 for the number of moves that it would last, I duly rolled a 1 so this was definitely a hasty attack! This had a bearing on my plan of attack (plan he says!!) as the short duration of the artillery strike and the shite quality of my troops meant any semblance of patience, finesse and subtlety would go straight out of the fenetre! Here’s what the plan was..
The left flank was to be the responsibility of the really crap Motor Rifle Regiment. Initially 2 Battalions would assault the town then survivors would be used to clear the wood on the left, the remaining Motor Rifle Battalion and the Tank Battalion would pass through the town once it was secured and attack up the road between the hills. The town would receive the attention of the Regimental Artillery Btln, a battalion of Divisional artillery and the BM-21 battery during the pre-planned strike just in case it was garrisoned.
Here I was going to commit the Tank Regiment, with the BMP company and the recon lads first of all securing the first wood then crossing diagonally over to the next one to do the same there. The far end of the first wood would be struck by the regimental artillery with a divisional battalion hitting the far one. This initial attack would be followed by 2 battalions of tanks, one to advance on the farm and one to swing round the wood to the left and head for the long ridge (the idea being to help the attack on the left). The remaining T-72 battalion was going to be held as the Divisional reserve once it entered the table.
On the right flank I was, again, going for the hammer like approach. 2 BTR battalions would advance either side of the road, one to clear the hills either side of the marsh, 1 to clear the wood. Again the remaining MR and Tank battalions would be then passed through to continue on along the road past the crossroads. The pre-game stonks here were on the wood and the hill by the crossroad. I didn’t want to commit the helicopters until I had an idea on where the Swedes were as I was wary of their Air Defence assets. So without further ado, I got the lead elements on the table once we got the initial (frankly underwhelming) initial barrages out of the way.
Over on the left the jeep recce company raced hell for leather along the road and managed to get through the town and out the other side before they got brewed up by Jeep mounted Recoiless Rifles arrayed along the little hill beyond the town, however they did manage to locate a Swedish Air Defence company before they bit the dust – sometimes ‘recce by death’ does work! Over on the right the better armoured recce lads managed to exchange fire with more Jeep/RCL types in the wood there before copping it too. In the centre the BMP assault on the wood was ready to go in. Then things started to unravel.
Left flank attack revs up
Initial attack in the centre gets moving
Right flank all ready to go
really like basing of these trees!
On the left the jeeps that ambushed my recce lads sat tight whilst an armoured infantry company burst from the wood and raced into the town. The crafty sods had dodged the initial barrage and now held the exit from the town so I’d have to winkle them out, I decided that one battalion should suffice to do that while another one swung round the right to take on the jeepy types on the hill. However, I soon realised that the combination of the better trained Swedish infantry with good LAW’s and MAW’s and backed up by the auto-cannon armed Pbv’s were absolutely too much for the semi-literate conscripts that seemed to have difficulty figuring out which way round their rifles went and pretty soon my assault company was a shambles. To add to the misery when trying to go round the left of the town to try and flank the position the remainder of the battalion came under fire from S-tanks in the wood and pretty soon burning BTR’s littered the place. There was nowt else for it but to start trying to bring artillery down on the tanks and mass the second battalion to try and take the town.
Infantry dismount as the S-tanks get ready
lovely models from H&R
Inital assault fails
I came to really dislike this lot.
In the centre the infantry dismounted from their BMP’s and advanced into the wood where they were comprehensibly beaten by the rock hard Swedish recce company, who eventually did succumb but only after some danger-close artillery was called in to help convince the survivors to sod off out of it. Then things got even worse as the T-72 company executing the left hook round the wood was shot up by a S-tank company lurking in the swamp in front of the long hill they were aiming for. The high rate of fire of the Swedish tanks (we had bumped them to ROF 3 as we reckoned the auto-loader wasn’t the same as the Soviet one) and the low quality of the Sovs soon saw them reduced to a couple of platoons through either KO’s or quality failure bug-outs and the survivors reckoned that facing the repercussions of retreating were much more favourable than continuing on to certain death so left the field. There was some success in the centre though (actually perhaps the best all day for me!) when I managed to call in a heavy artillery strike on some tanks that had fired on the second T-72’s as they advanced on the farm. These Swedes were holed up in the wood and just didn’t like the stonking they got, 2 platoons retiring due to Quality check failures and the remaining one failing the formation check and also buggering off.
BMP and Recce coy’s fight to the death in the wood
About my biggest success of the day!
Over on the right the slightly better quality of the attacking infantry and the fact that I was able to gang up on the defenders by more than 1 to 1 odds that the attack on the wood actually managed to eventually succeed and it was cleared after a tough fight, I only had 1 infantry stand and 5 BTR’s left out of 9 each at the end of it. The battalion on the left of the road was slowed up considerably by crossing the marsh but some good artillery shoots forced the Swedes holding the hill beyond the marsh to re-locate to the farmyard where they attracted more artillery attention. With my initial assaults foundering it was time to get the remainder of my Regiments on the field as well as the choppers. I had suffered the loss of one complete T-72 battalion and BMP company whilst one BTR battalion was just about wiped out and about to break whilst another was gutted and combat ineffective, in return I had managed to force a S-tank company to leave the field – not a good return in anybody’s book!
All too soon the initial assault battalion attacking the town on the left broke when it lost another platoon trying to take out a recoilless rifle jeep but the second battalion was now ready to get stuck in and managed to take advantage of the few casualties the Swedes had suffered during the initial attack along and the support of cannon fire from the Mi-24 and made enough headway that Jonathan disengaged the remnants of the defending company and retired back to his line in the wood. I had started a sustained heavy barrage on the Swedish tanks in the treeline beyond the town and this coupled with the threat from the Hinds saw them relocate also. I planned to hold the town with the remnants of the 2nd Battalion, push the newly arrived 3rd Btln into the wood where the tanks had just left and use the T-55 battalion to attack the S-tanks in the swamp as they refused to succumb to Swatter fire from the Infantry support company.
In the centre the remaining two T-72 battalions started a duel with the remaining S-tanks in the wood past the farm whilst moving up to take the farm and hence getting out of the line of sight of the deadly Swedish vehicles, this wasn’t going well for the lead unit who suffered about 50% losses against one platoon lost for the Swedes (the S-tank has a modifier for being in cover that makes them devilishly difficult to deal with!).
Hind arrives to help out
2nd Btln gets ready to attack
Chopper fire helps out
1st Battalion legs it
S-tanks sneaking off
Over on the right I had managed to scare off a company that was holding the crossroads and it relocated for to the woods at the rear, and slowly started to grind through the mech infantry company defending the fields behind the newly liberated wood by stonking the crap out of them with artillery. I also planned to use the other Hind flight to take them out and would have done too as their first rocket strike was quite successful, unfortunately once I closed the range to engage the Pbv’s with my auto-cannon Jonathan opened up on it with a Bofors which managed to scare the chopper off! It was about this time that Jonathan brought on his 3rd Armoured battalion forcing me to deploy the T-55 battalion on this side along the ridge by the road to cover the flank of my troops here.
Right hand attack from Swedish lines
3rd BTR Btln girds loins for the assault
Jonathan’s reserves show up.
The next action on the left was the deciding one of the day. Things seemed to pick up as I had managed to knock out two of the ‘Swamp tanks’, even though the third platoon refused to quit I was confident that a mass of T-55 attention would finally see him off, but in the woods disaster lurked. I launched my 3rd BTR battalion at the space vacated by the retreating S-tanks and backed them up with the Hind but the lead company ran smack into another mech infantry company that were craftily held back from the edge of the wood behind where the tanks were originally. This company and another company positioned along the treeline to the right completely decimated my attacking units and in short order my last untouched infantry unit on this side of the battlefield was in tatters and broke, routing from the field.
With the arrival of the full strength Swedish battalion in the centre, which was already knocking out T-55’s over on the right with dead-eye long range fire, I decided that enough was enough and threw in the towel. Jonathan said he wasn’t planning on counter attacking anyway so we reckoned that I’d have just about held the town but that I’d probably fall back to the wood on the right whilst maintaining my position on the ridge. My only intact units were the 3rd BTR battalion here and the reserve T-72 battalion in the centre whilst Jonathan had quite a lot of kit left. I had only managed to knock out 2 S-tanks, 1 Pbv-302 and a Jeep/recoilless all bleeding day and hadn’t managed to cause many more quality losses either and had lost 1 1/2 T-72 btlns, about 3 1/2 BTR battalions plus the recce and BMP companies as well. So the Swedes had held the Soviet attack and secured a victory!
All in all, and even with the shiteyness of my troops, it was a great game and a good one to christen Jonathan’s table I reckon, and I think it would have been pretty bad form to beat him anyway!! We decided to leave the terrain as it was and go WW2 for the next game, stayed tuned for the write up sometime this week.
I really need to get back into the swing of posting, been thinking of a bit of a change to a couple of things and will get started once I’m caught up with these Club Night posts. Anyway as I had just finished off painting my new T-64 Regiment and it had been a while since the Austrians had a run out I decided to get them both on the table. Comrade Noakesavitch would be leading the mighty Red Army as usual and I would be taking over Kampfgruppe Grüber to try and stop their advance. Dan’s orders were to take the road junction at the end of the table to enable the advance on Vienna to continue.
Before we started Dan and I had a quick conversation about recce and how we both don’t like the usual ‘recce by death’ that usually happens so we cobbled together something on the fly. As my forces recce element was a couple platoons of Jeeps with MG’s I said that they would have fallen back before the heavier Soviet recce element and hence Dan could place his platoons anywhere up to the line of terrain features (hills/fields) in front of the stream (the dark green line) that bisected the table. This was near enough to my forward positions without initiating close combat but close enough to maybe ‘spot’ something or get a sound contact. Dan then rolled against his QC rating to see if he spotted anything, he didn’t definitely spot anything but he was aware of a couple of my positions – we will be working on this for future games.
Dan’s Tank Regt comprised the following, rated as Conscript (-1 to hit and Quality of 4):
1 HQ stand
1 ACRV FOO
1 SA-13 Gopher
2 recon BRDM-2
3 Tank Btlns
1 Cmnd BMP-2
2 SP Vasliek 82mm Mortars
1 AGS-17 30mm AGL (BMP-1)
1 AT-7 Saxhorn atgm team (BMP-1)
9 Inf (BMP-2)
(Off table) Regt Art Btln – 3 x sp 122mm
(Off table) 2 Div Art Btlns – 3 x sp 152mm
(Off table) 3 MRLS units
The valiant Austrian ‘Kampfgruppe Grüber’ consisted of the following, rated as ‘Regular’ (Quality 4):
1 HQ Stand
2 recon Jeeps/MG
1 M42 Duster
1 Gr81 sp81mm Mortar
3 Sk-105 Kurassier
2 x Panzer Coys
2 x Panzer-Grenadier Coys
3 PzGren (4k4f mg)
1 PzGren/Bill atgm (4k4f 20mm)
(Off table) Bgde Art Btln – 3 x sp155mm
(Off table) Corp Art Btln – 3 x towed 105mm
(Off table) 1 MRLS unit
I could also call on another Kampfgruppe of the same composition (minus the Jagdpanzer company and off table supports) as a reserve.
My plan was to try and slow the advance down by placing a PzGren company in the central village near the stream and to keep the rest of my force back so as to hopefully prevent it all being destroyed too quickly then to counter-attack once my reserve showed up. Dan did a classic Soviet attack, the Motor Rifle battalion was dispatched straight up the road headed for the central village with a Tank battalion advancing on each flank with the third in reserve. He also started laying down a sustained barrage on the village which immediately caused suppressions on the defending PanzerGrenadiers. Due to his earlier recce he also brought fire down on the hedgeline to the left of the village and suppressed some of the APC’s there (these were from the lads holding the village).
These bombardments continued for a while as the Soviets moved up to the stream, all the time keeping the garrison of the village suppressed whilst Dan prepared for the assault. I, on the other hand, was having trouble calling my artillery in at all – damn that Soviet jamming of my radio nets! To make things worse Dan was consistently winning the initiative and was slowly accruing a hefty amount of command pips even though he was spending some on keeping his artillery going. Then things got even tougher for the PanzerGrenadiers when a massive MRLS barrage landed on the village taking out one platoon and supressing the rest which allowed the assault that followed to succeed at the first rush, albeit at the cost of one Motor Rifle platoon.
Whilst this was going on in the centre the Soviet tanks on the flanks had reached the stream and those on my left got busy trying to brew up the APC’s stuck by the hedge due to being constantly suppressed by artillery, with two platoons soon ko’d and one having legged it due to failing its Quality check the last survivor also made for the rear. This whole side of the battlefield was now only defended by the Panzer company situated at the hill to the rear. Over on my right flank Dan had pushed one of his recce platoons forward along the stream to recce my positions and I was forced to try and take it out with a SK105 platoon as I wanted to keep the tanks here hidden as long as possible. Unfortunately I missed with the first attempt due to the plucky BRDM-2 crews taking advantage of the cover afforded by the streams trees and bushes (bloody saving throws!). The Soviet recce types then duly located my Panzers on the ridge and got off a report to HQ.
I was now expecting to be on the receiving end of some artillery attention whilst waiting for the mass of T-64’s advancing on the stream to surge forward to take on the M60’s but Dan had other ideas and used some of his Command Pips to call in an airstrike. He then rolled very well for the load carried by the SU-25 (mind you nearly every load carried by one of these will spoil your day!) and pretty soon I was on the receiving end of masses of cluster bombs and other general nastiness that destroyed one of the 2 targeted Patton’s whilst causing the other to fail a quality test. This convinced the remaining platoon to also re-locate in a rearward direction, bugger.
Things were now officially ‘somewhat sticky’ for the Austrians, I still could not wrest initiative from Dan and had only managed to accrue 1 measly Command Pip which was not enough to get my reserves into action and my force was down nearly 50% of its initial strength. So, what to do: I decided to re-deploy the PanzerJager company towards the centre to replace the missing Panzer company and hoped to win the initiative and then release my reserves otherwise I was onto a hiding. Whilst I started moving the Kurassiers the Soviet Tank battalion that was advancing on my right had made it to the stream and the recce platoon here moved across the stream where it was taken out by a Bill ATGM from the PanzerGrenadiers in the wood there. I also managed to supress some tank platoons when I actually managed to call in all of my M109 batteries at last.
Over on the other flank Dan had crossed the stream to the left of the village and here too I managed to score a partial success with my artillery calling in a strike from the Army MRLS battery which succeeded in suppressing the whole battalion and causing so much confusion that it caused them to halt for a turn to sort themselves out, this was however, very much a last hurrah (indeed a first hurrah really!). My hopes in calling forth my reserve was dashed again as Dan retained the initiative and as the ominous form of a Hind helicopter had also entered the field by this time I decided enough was enough and gave the order to withdraw to preserve what was left of my force for the future.
As usual it was a cracking game with Dan, who is always a pleasure to play against, he used his artillery to maximum effect supressing my lads in the village constantly then unleashing a massive final blow with his rockets before the assault went in – textbook stuff really. He also used his command pips well, allowing his artillery to keep firing and keeping enough in reserve to unleash his air support when needed. I did suffer from not gaining initiative apart from once but that was sort of satisfying as it means that the new initiative rules work, sometimes it just aint your day. I do actually sometimes like it when that happens as it adds to the challenge, although having said that I will be getting the Austrian MANPAD bases done soon to help out against Soviet airpower in future ‘cos those Frogfoot’s are beasts!
Just a quickie to show what I picked up at the Joy of 6 the other week (I would have done this sooner but had a terrible time of it health wise last week but feeling better now).
First up from H&R, enough kit to do the ‘teeth’ of a Soviet Tank regiment for FFT3. T-64’s and BMP-2’s. Both are nice models in my opinion, the T-64’s are primed and I should have both tanks and IFV’s done by the end of the week.
I was also picking up some planes and helicopters from Jonathan that he had going spare, I definitely needed the Soviet kit as I was lacking air support for my growing forces. Need to maybe do some repainting and slight repair work on them and add ‘my’ flight stand fixtures but not a bad haul for £15, cheers Jonathan!
First of all, very sorry for not posting this any sooner but I’ve had a bit of a rough week or so, been feeling down and shite so haven’t had the urge to post owt. Hopefully this has passed now, London is basking in glorious sunshine and it is hard to feel down when that happens aint it!
Righty-o, to the game. It was supposed to be a one to one game between me and Alex so his Soviets were going to be coming up against my Austrians (who need to get on the table again really) but Dan and Daren were without a game so I said to them to join in with us. Unfortunately this meant using different forces as I didn’t think my Soviet kit was right for the second player on their side (OCD kicking in here I think). So, it was back to the Poles against the Lithuanians.
Edit: As requested here are links to TO&E’s, the Polish one doesn’t reflect 100% what was on table but was nearly there.
I set up the terrain loosely based on a quick look on Google Earth of a piece of Lithuanian countryside and as Dan arrived first he got the plucky Lithuanian defenders. I ran him through his forces and he got to marking his positions on a map. Daren and Alex were given their armour heavy force consisting of an Armoured Regiment and an Armoured Cavalry Regiment, so lots of tanks which I thought would enable them to punch through the defence. The scenario was simple, the Poles had to exit off the opposite table edge, the Lithuanians had to stop them. This time though the attack was coming in along the wider axis of the table which meant that the Lithuanians would be spread out and also unable to have any depth to their defence.
The Poles came on with the Armoured Regt under Daren on the left-centre and the Armd Cav under Alex on the right from the stream to the wood on the table edge. They began speculatively shelling the big wood in the centre between the roads and the hills between their start line and the Lithuanians table edge but all to no effect. The first Lithuanian barrage in reply saw some of Daren’s tanks become supressed and this resulted in each of his companies spreading out to their maximum cohesion distances – the first artillery strike managed to cover all 3 platoons of a company so it was good to see someone taking measures to prevent this happening again. Daren shrugged off this slight setback quickly though and he soon had a company of PT-78’s on overwatch on the small hill in the centre. Alex was continuing to advance cautiously along the right flank, expecting an ambush from the trees there he had dismounted his infantry and was combing the wood for any nasty surprises whilst slowly advancing his Scorpion-90’s as well.
Dan was contenting himself with shelling the advancing Poles, again supressing some of Daren’s tanks on the hill but not doing much else to hinder the Polish advance, to be fair he was having problems calling up enough batteries to do any more damage. Then Alex and Daren did something that I’ve never seen before and I was quietly pleased that they did – they had 5 Command Pips to spend and decided to use 4 of them on a counter battery strike, this thus stripped Dan of a third of his available artillery in one stroke. They then gained another 4 Pips in the next initiative roll and did the same again so Dan was down to one Artillery battalion and was beginning to look a bit glum!
While this was going on the Poles were still grinding forwards and soon the whoosh of ATGM was heard as Dan started to engage at long range with his Cavalry Squadron’s VAB/MILAN. Obviously trying to keep the Poles at arms length he also opened up with a Chieftain company in the central woods too, making good use of the mighty range on their 120mm guns. Daren started to take casualties in his tank platoons from KO’s and failed quality checks and started to move to the left across the stream to get out of the LOS of the Chieftains, whilst bringing in a big MRLS strike to try to neutralise the threat that they posed – which did result in suppressing some of them. Unfortunately for Daren his potential left hook come to naught as he ran into Dan’s TOW platoon and one of the infantry VAB/MILAN platoons stationed in the wood on that side of the stream which started to score more hits on his units.
Over on the Polish right though things were going quite a bit better. Suffering from a combination of some effective artillery strikes and the attention of Polish tank fire Dan’s Cavalry Squadron was beginning to suffer with the MILAN vehicle being lost as well as one of his VBC-90 platoons. Indeed it looked as if the Poles were about to break through over there and Dan was worried enough that he started to move his reserve Chieftain company out from behind the big wood to counter this threat (which did however suffer casualties from another MRLS strike) although if the Poles won the initiative in the next turn he might be too late to prevent this from happening. It was then that his luck changed and for only the second time in the game he won initiative and did so with a mighty 5 pip advantage. It was time for drastic action so he decided to call in an airstrike.
His good luck with the dice held and he rolled up a Jaguar flight with a great load of Heavy Cluster Bombs and Heavy Rockets (basically the best he could have gotten) and his brave pilots managed to dodge the superior Polish air cover and AD defences to unleash their ordinance on the tightly packed units of Alex’s Armoured Cavalry. After the dust had settled from the devastating strike the Polish commanders decided that enough was enough and they conceded the game. Daren’s force had suffered about 40% losses and couldn’t get to grips with the Lithuanians facing them whilst Alex’s command was still reeling from the Jag attack and didn’t feel confident in making it off the table before the Chieftains intervened.
So all in all a quite satisfactory game, it really could have gone either way. Although Daren’s unit had taken a beating Alex’s lads were within a whisker of winning the game, if they had made it to the Lithuanian table edge I was going to say that they would have to pull out. Dan was quick to admit that he was lucky in calling in the airstrike when he did, also that he rolled up the Jaguars and not the L-39 Albatross’. The chaps seemed to enjoy it so that was good too and thanks to them for making it a pleasant experience as usual.
We had access to the hall that the club meets in for the whole day on Monday so there was a chance to have a proper big game of FFT3. Alan was keen to dust his forces off for a game and Bill wanted to try the rules out so the game was on – unfortunately Des who was slated for a command too couldn’t make it on the day so it would be the 3 of us (once Bill had finished with his Dystopian Wars game!).
Alan would be bringing the 14me DLB so a decent sized force for an all day game with French Divisions being in between a ‘standard’ division and a brigade in size. To counter this force I would be bringing the majority of an alt-history Polish Mechanised Division. This gave about the same number of tank bases each although the French outgunned the Poles by dint of their 105mm armed AMX-10RC’s and plethora of Milan atgm.
Both forces had Jaguar aircraft in support, with the French having Gazelle helos armed with HOT and the Poles Mangusta armed with ZT.3 atgm and 20mm Cannon available too.
The scenario was a classic wargamer friendly meeting engagement: The French had intervened in the Polish invasion of Lithuania (see last game) and the 14 DBL was tasked with finding and stopping the advance of the Polish 5th Mechanised Division as it moved north around the west of Kaunas. We diced to see what table edge we came in on and ended up thus:
We would be starting the battle with some forces arriving on the table on the first move (1 Regt for the Poles and 2 for the French) and all subsequent units had to be paid for from Command Pips won during initiative rolls. Alan chose to start by bringing his Armoured and Light Armoured Regiments on first, I went with the Cavalry Regiment. Luckily for me I won the initiative for the kick off and belted my column of vehicles down the road, the plan being to get the infantry component into the town along with a company of Cougars whilst another Cougar company and an ERC-90 company fanned out to the left of the town, taking the hill there (‘the Pimple’) to enable observation of the French deployment. The remaining VBC and Cougar companies would be held at the edge of Raudonas Wood on ‘my’ side of the stream as a reserve. The idea was to hold the French up as long as possible and bring on the Mech infantry next to shore up the defence where needed, then counter with the Armoured Regiment once the French had hopefully been softened up.
Polish Cavalry enter the table..
..and winds forward to the stream
Alan started off by advancing half of his AMX-30 regiment along the road towards Miestą Sankryžos with 2 companies advancing towards the small ridge to the left of Pilkas (as you look at the above photo) with the AMX-10RC’s advancing to take position along the large L-shaped hill on the right. I feel Alan made a bit of a mistake here as the wheeled Armoured Cars might have made use of their greater road movement and managed to get to Miestą Sankryžos before me which would have really put me on the back foot. However, as I had secured the town I was feeling quite happy as it would, hopefully, take Alan some effort to winkle me out of it.
First blood went to the French when they took out a Cougar platoon that was on ‘the Pimple’ trying to get eyes on the advancing enemy and Alan decided to spend the Command Pips that he had just won on bringing on his AMX-10P Regiment too so I was now quite outnumbered but not too disheartened. I could have countered this straight away by bringing on another unit myself but I decided to spend my saved Pips on an airstrike as the sight of the French armour arrayed along the road from Pilkas was just too much of a temptation. So the call went in and a Jaguar flight duly arrived belting along the road and dropping its load of iron and cluster bombs on the foremost AMX-30 company. The effect of this strike was amazing, I managed to eliminate the whole company by a mixture of KO’s and failed quality tests but it did come at the price of the brave airmen as I rolled a SNAFU that resulted in my flight being shot down after their run. I had also managed to take out a MILAN armed Jeep company with Rarden fire from the village at this time too so things were looking rosy!
The next stage in the battle saw the fight to take control of Miestą Sankryžos which seemed at one point seemed to be drawing in every French unit on the table. Alan was determined to take the town and started to pound it with artillery whilst moving his Mech infantry forwards to take it from one direction whilst he also advanced from another with his AMX-10 armoured cars. His tank Regiment was used to clear ‘the Pimple’ which was achieved quickly and resulted in the loss of one of the Polish Cougar companies as I left them in place too long. I withdrew the 2 surviving platoons of the ERC-90 company back to the safety of Raudonas Wood and redeployed them to cover the left flank as I was worried about a French advance there. The remaining Cougar and ERC-90 companies were deployed to the stream from their reserve position in the wood to engage the French Armour from its cover for as long as possible.
The actual fight for the town was over quicker than I had hoped but it had wasted a bit of time which helped me as Alan continued to keep the initiative preventing me from gaining the pips needed to bring on my other units, indeed I was starting to wish that I had had done so earlier when I had the chance instead of making the air attack. Luckily for me my brave lads in the companies along the stream, helped by a savage MRLS barrage, were holding their own against the French armour (I was continually lucky with my saving throws and Alan was having awful luck passing quality tests). Alan was also having a terrible time sorting out his units involved in the fight for Miestą Sankryžos, being unable to clear his suppressions, and this helped me no end as I knew my luck in holding the stream couldn’t last forever. Indeed just as it looked as if the French were finally ready to launch an assault on the stream I finally wrested back the initiative and by a 4 pip margin too which meant I could release both my other units which could hopefully save the day.
Bill was now ready to join in at this stage so he took command of the Armoured Regiment and I took the Mechanised Infantry and a mass of Polish units now moved into view behind Raudonas, armour on the left and infantry to the right and both advancing quickly. This new threat seemed to upset the French as they now seemed to decide to go on the defensive even though they had started to whittle down my defending Cavalry units. The Poles now kept the initiative and brought on a Mangusta attack helicopter flight to further add to the pressure as it sat to the rear of our position looking for targets. Bill had wasted no time in advancing his tanks towards the confluence of the two streams in front and to the left of Raudonas Wood. He started to engage the French tanks whilst pushing forward one of his Mech Infantry companies forwards to outflank the French position on the hill covering the extreme left flank, again aided by a massive MRLS barrage that virtually wiped out the AMX-30 company there.
I had moved my Mech infantry to the hill to the right of Raudonas Wood and placed my ATGM and VBC-90’s there hoping to engage the French across the stream. I pushed my tank company towards the bridge between Miestą Sankryžos and Dvaras looking to engage the French armoured cars stationed there. The infantry was split with 2 companies heading into Radonas wood to relieve the Cavalry holding out there and the remaining two companies heading for wood near Dvaras to go on a long right hook around the French flank. Alan did manage to inflict some damage on me, taking out the tanks and armoured cars but elsewhere things weren’t going so well.
Even with his newly arrived VAB mounted infantry regiment taking up a defensive position along the low ridge by Pilkas it looked as if his right flank was about to be turned and Bill’s tanks would soon be free to exploit in the French rear. With his losses to the other Regiments and with the Poles starting to move around his left too Alan decided that enough was enough and before his position turned into a ‘sac de mort’ we called the game as a, albeit narrow, Polish victory.
Things could have gone much differently though, the heroic (and seriously jammy at times!) sacrificial stand of the Polish Cavalry along the stream really knackered the French plan as did their problems getting the units sorted out after winning the town. In the end I gained enough time to finally win back initiative to enable me to bring my other units into the fray which tipped the balance at last to the Polish favour. It was a tough fight all round and many thanks to Alan and Bill for taking part, I hope that they enjoyed it too.
Another week and another FFT3 game. This time I was playing Mat who has played quite a few games at the club but had all been in multi-player games so this was a chance for him to have more space and units to play with. As they seem to be on such a roll I figured that the Lithuanians deserved another run out, this time they’d be facing off against a couple of Polish Regiments. I set out the terrain and we diced for which side of the table the attacking poles would come on from. Mat wanted to defend, which I was quite happy with as I wanted to have a go with the Poles as it has been a while, so I dispatched him to his side and he got to it working out his positions (we always have hidden deployment if defending). Which he deployed thus:
The Poles would be attacking with an Armoured Cavalry Regiment which had the following units:
1 Blowpipe team
4k 7fa gr81 sp81mm Mortar
2 x Sqdns
3 x Scorpion-90’s
2 x Sqdns
3 x PT-78m (Vickers Mk.3)
2 x Sqdns
2 x Infantry
1 x Infantry with BILL atgm
3 x Stormer/20
followed by an Armoured Regiment of:
Cmnd 4k 7fa
4k 7fa gr81 sp81mm Mortar
4 x Coys
3 x PT-78m
2 x Coys
2 x Infantry
1 x Infantry/BILL
3 x 4k 7fa/20mm
They would be supported by quite a bit of artillery: 2 battalions of 155mm and 3 APR-21 MRLS batteries. There would be AD defence in the shape of a platoon of SP quad 25mm adg and helicopter support from a Mangusta armed with ZT-3 ATGM.
Each of the forces would be able to call on air support in the shape of Jaguars and L-39’s for the Lithuanians and Jaguars and Alpha Jets for the Poles these would be rolled for, with the greater chance for the Jags turning up for both sides, the planes also had random loads. Both forces were rated as ‘Regular’ so differences in quality wouldn’t be an issue.
I planned to do a phased advance along the right of the table as I wanted to give the town a wide berth, I figured it would be crawling with infantry and I know just how hard they are to extract from buildings in FFT. The long ridge in front of the village (farm looking building) would also probably be manned so I wanted to bound forward to this whilst pushing a Scorpion and Infantry company through the woods on the extreme right to get some eyes on the hills to the rear of the Lithuanians position and cause any units on the ridge to fall back once outflanked. Once I had consolidated a line roughly from the hill between the two BUA’s along the ridge and into the wood I would bring the Armoured Regiment on along the road as by then I should have a good idea of where the enemy was and could act accordingly.
Like all good plans (!) it of course went completely tits up as soon as I made contact with the enemy. I managed to move onto the table without any problem, the right hook force headed for the trees and didn’t trigger any fire. In the centre of the push, the other Scorpion squadron and the Regimental HQ took up positions along the hill to the left of the right flank force. To their immediate left a PT-78 company advanced on the ridge whilst the remaining tanks and infantry squadrons advanced to the left of the road. I had also done well in the initiative roll and had 5 command pips banked for use as soon as the action started.
The peace didn’t last long though and soon an artillery barrage fell on the Scorpions and Striker arrayed on the crest of their hill. This didn’t do much damage but did supress a couple of platoons and this shock completely threw the whole battalion and coupled with some effective Lithuanian EW the advance halted for a period (I failed my activation and had to halt for a move). Being stuck in place allowed more accurate artillery fire to fall and more suppression, this time on the Scorpions on the right. The first shock of contact was quickly shaken off though and the Poles started moving again, although having failed to shake off the accrued suppression, it was a tentative advance. All of a sudden a flash appeared on the ridge to the front and MILAN missiles flew towards the slowly advancing tanks in the centre which, although they didn’t destroy anything, caused one platoon to drop out of the battle after failing a quality test.
Unfortunately for me Mat then grabbed the initiative which meant he could get another round of firing off before I could reply. This was even more effective than the first round as the VAB/Milan chaps got their eye in and soon another of the tank platoons was gone, this time brewing up a platoon from the second tank company which had just taken up post along the ridgeline of the hill near the bend in the road. Then the Lithuanian VBC-90 joined in and their excellent 90mm guns dispatched another platoon from the first tank company, the surviving platoon of which then decided that any further action on their behalf was useless and withdrew from the field. I was down a whole company of tanks and hadn’t even engaged the enemy yet! I did get some payback though as the Striker dispatched the VAB/Milan platoon with some overwatch fire although my return tank fire from the surviving tanks on the armoured cars failed to do any damage but did suppress them.
Mat sensibly decided to withdraw the remnants of the Cavalry team from the ridge which allowed me to advance the Scorpions and Strikers toward the now unoccupied height. Whilst this was going on his gunners continued to play havoc with their accurate and concentrated fire suppressing my remaining tank platoons which waited in place for news from the advancing light tanks. As this was happening my right flank force had reached the edge of the wood. I debussed the infantry and having failed to spot any enemy forces from there pushed the Scorpions forward. This went very badly. All of a sudden the hill behind the village lit up as a company of Chieftains opened up with predictable results – 120mm sabot vs aluminium armour = burning Scorpions.
So I was down another company but at least I had found some of the enemy armour. I still didn’t want to bring on my other Regiment yet so spent some of my saved Command Pips to release my helicopter support and my Mangusta entered the fray keeping near my starting position so as to try and avoid being fired on by enemy Air Defence assets. This meant that I was just out of range of the Chieftains so would have to risk moving forward to engage them. I did manage to do so with the Striker platoon that had now arrived at the ridgeline in front of the village which suppressed a platoon. The escorting Scorpion-90’s engaged the VBC-90 now ensconced in the village and a duel started which the Poles won quickly.
Then, remarkably, the Chieftains started rolling forwards, looking to re-take the ridgeline and maybe to prevent another strike from massed MRLS, which had done nowt but suppressed a platoon but might be worse next time round. Unfortunately for them I let loose with a plethora of missiles and spoilt their day completely. Over on the right the infantry in the woods let fly with a BILL whose top attack ability brewed one platoon, the Striker had a pop from the ridge which caused another platoon to fail a QC test and lastly the Mangusta was now in range so it had a go with it’s ZT-3 also brewing up its target. The surviving Chieftain platoon saw the futility in carrying on and left the field at this point. So things suddenly looked up for this side of the battlefield, if I could neutralise the village then I could push forward with the remainder of the Regiment as I guessed there were no more tanks on this side of the battlefield.
I decided that the best way to do this was from the air so called in an airstrike, whilst taking the village under artillery fire too that only supressed the defenders. Unfortunately for me the only aircraft available was a flight of Alpha Jets (all I had to do was roll 1-5 on a d6 for a lovely Jag chock full of ordinance but no) who failed to make any impact. This was down to both the small load they carried and the attention of the Lithuanian Air Defence assets. On a positive note I now knew the location of these which was meant I could move the Mangusta safely.
I had started to move the surviving tanks and infantry forwards to the ridge whilst screening the town with smoke – I had wanted to do this earlier but had a bugger of a time getting any available artillery, those bleeding Lithuanian EW boys again – and decided it was time to bring on the Armoured Regiment. With them strung out along the road heading into town Mat decided it was time to call in an airstrike of his own and, luckily for me, also failed to call up a Jaguar flight but his L-39 did more damage than my strike suppressing the two lead platoons and then banking to have a go at my helicopter with his guns next. Unfortunately we had run out of time at this point and had to stop playing but I conceded to a defeat.
Although we didn’t fight to a finish we both enjoyed the game, it had the lot – helicopters, air strikes, counter battery fire due to the SNAFU chart, and lots of tanks going bang! My advance on the right was much too cautious after reaching the ridge, I was reticent to get the surviving tanks moving before smoking the town to prevent any further loss from any nastiness lurking there I also should have waited to have the tanks and Striker platoon on the ridge in an overwatch position before moving the Scorpions out of the wood on the right. Mat admitted that reason that the Chieftains from the hill advanced was to clear the ridge and take on the surviving tanks before moving across to deal with my new Regiment once it arrived. This was going to be running into quite a bit of missile and tank fire as I was planning on swinging left of the town and right into his ‘kill sack’ so probably best we ended when we did.
Another good thing about this game was that the house rules had finally worked properly, they got a good testing and Mat liked them as well so I think I’ll stick with using them from now on as they have had good feedback from all that have used them so far. I’ve yet another game slated for Monday and this time more time to develop the battle as we have access to the club all day so looking forwards to that.
I had a game of FFT3 booked in for this week against Alex who hadn’t played for quite a while and was keen to get another game in. He told me that he would be bringing a Soviet Tank Regiment along so I figured why not take the survivors from the Lithuanian force from last weeks game and see how they did against the follow on force. Obvious really if you think about it and I was really keen to have a go with them as I had just painted them! We would be just using the vanilla rules this time round and wouldn’t be using any air assets.
My much reduced Battle Group consisted of the following:
4 Chieftain mk.13
Armoured Inf Coy:
3 Inf, 1 Weapons stands + 4 Stormer 20’s
Mech Inf Coy:
3 Inf, 1 Weapons stands (dug in, no vehicles)
Cav Combat team 1:
Recon VBC-90, VAB-VCI + Inf stand dug in
Cav Combat team 2:
Recon VBC-90, VAB-VCI, Inf stand dug-in + VAB-Milan
TOW platoon (1 ton LR transport)
2 x SP 155mm batts (off table)
2 x 5.5″ gun batts (off table)
2 x 155mm batts (off table)
Not big in numbers but it definitely had some punch with the mix of 120mm & 90mm guns and Milan and TOW atgm. I probably wouldn’t be able to completely halt the oncoming tide of armour but I’d at least be able to exact a hefty toll on the attackers and maybe might be able to pull off another victory like last week.
Before we started Alex informed me that he had brought a BMP Regiment instead of a Tank Regiment so my morale went up immediately, I might just be able to deal with the onslaught after all! However he still had a massive superiority in Artillery and his force was still quite large:
2 Vasilek 81mmM
Recon Brdm-2 + BMP-R
3 Motor Rifle Btlns:
9 Inf stands (3 with AT-7 atgm) + 9 BMP-1’s
Off table Artillery
SP 122mm Btln (4 batts)
2 x SP 152mm Btlns (4 batts)
2 x BM-21 MRLS batts (6 units each)
So we got to it with Alex bringing on a MR Btln down the road and another over on the left, so exactly the same approach as the chaps last week. Alex had rolled up only one turn of pre-game barrage and it only suppressed one infantry stand which was lucky. I decided that I’d open up as soon as possible but waited for the road column to get past the farm before unleashing with a combination of TOW, 90mm gunfire and 20mm autocannon. I managed to take out a couple of platoons of BMP’s and suffer only suppression in return fire, the second round of firing having some effect too even with being supressed and the Soviets started to lose platoons. Alex shrugged this off though and stating that he was going to do it the Soviet way didn’t pause to return fire and continued to barrel up the road before turning right and heading for the wood.
There was another Battalion of BMP’s following along the road and these were tasked to take out the Cavalry that had been tackling their comrades in front and pretty soon massed ATGM fire and artillery strikes had caused the end of the plucky VAB and VBC-90 platoons but not before they had virtually destroyed the lead battalion with only 5 platoons making it to the safety of the wood. With the end of the Cavalry on the hill (which I had left in place for a move too long) I decided to withdraw the TOW platoon and they duly mounted up onto their 1-ton Land Rovers and started to pick their way slowly through the trees. Unfortunately for them they were caught by the advance of the vengeful BMP’s and we decided that they were captured. there was one last bit of action in this wood though as the dug-in infantry platoon took out another BMP before being forced to quit the field in the return fire.
The action in the centre now paused for a bit as Alex consolidated his position in the wood by the road and brought his T-74 battalion forwards. On the flanks things got hotter, much hotter. Whilst the fight for the central position had been going on the BMP’s on the left had been advancing through the wood seeking out the Lithuanian forces and after clearing the trees Alex pushed them forwards to take post on the hill in front of the stream. This meant that they ran smack into the infantry company entrenched there. A quick and brutal close combat ensued with 3 BMP platoons soon knocked out whilst the infantry only lost their weapons platoon. Retribution was swift however with the surviving platoons of AIFV’s letting loose with their 73mm guns which forced all 3 Lithuanian platoons to fail QC checks clearing the way for the advance to continue.
Over on the right the survivors of the first Motor Rifle Battalion that had reached the wood were making their way out the other end when they ran into the second Cavalry combat team and the combination of close combat with the dug-in infantry, 90mm guns of the Armoured cars and MILAN fire soon saw them reduced to a solitary platoon which promptly failed their formation test and left the battle. With their work done the Cavalry team began to withdraw but suffered the loss of the VAB/Milan platoon when a retaliatory Soviet artillery barrage rained down on the hill hitting them as they withdrew. So all in all at this point I was quite happy with how things were going, I had suffered some casualties yes but I had taken out a whole battalion caused casualties on two others and still had my Chieftains uncommitted. Alex still had the numbers to finish the job though and so the fight moved into its final act.
Whilst the quick flurry of action had been taking place on the flanks Alex had brought his tanks forwards and had sent them into the wood, I had taken them under fire with the VAB-Milan platoon posted at the end of the wooded ridge in the rear of my position and soon a couple of tanks were burning, however retaliation was swift and the huge weight of return 125mm fire soon saw the anti-tank unit to quit the field. Alex was busy debussing his infantry in the wood, he had failed to save any from all of the ones hit so far and wanted to use their AT-7’s against my tanks once he located them, and slowly moved to the edge of the wood. At the same time the battalion on the left had recovered from their fight on the hill and surged forward to the stream which was the queue for the Chieftains to open up. I decided to split the fire of each platoon to try and maximise the damage and hopefully cause a formation check, it nearly worked but one platoon somehow survived and the battalion was still in the fight.
With the Chieftains now located Alex bravely pushed his infantry out of the wood to the stream covered by the BMP’s and newly arrived T-72’s. The combined fire from the various ATGM, tank guns and a massive MRLS strike supressed the Chieftains who gamely returned fire resulting in more BMP’s bursting into flames but the writing was on the wall and when one of the Lithuanian tanks brewed up after the next massive onslaught of Soviet fire I decided that it was time to pull out and leave the field to the very much battered Soviets whilst I still had some forces left.
It was a cracking game that really did go down to the wire, for the loss of 4 platoons KO’d, 1 captured and 5 that quit the field I had eliminated a battalion of BMP’s, totally gutted another and inflicted casualties on the remaining one and the tank battalion so very much of a Pyrrhic victory for the Soviets. Alex was a great opponent and enjoyed the battle too and I look forward to playing him again. Next week will see some more FFT action as I try and get an even better handle on the rules and this time it will be the turn of the Poles to have a crack at the Lithuanians who are now firm favourites of mine.