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New System: Battle Carry Sabot (v0.1 Playtest)

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    oriskany
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    Cult of Games Member

    Yesterday afternoon saw the first playtest of the new Battle Carry Sabot modern tank skirmish system.  The battle chosen to emulate for this “maiden voyage” was 73 Easting, fought on 26 February 1991 during the Desert Storm and the Persian Gulf War of 1991.

    Rasmus had the Americans (Eagle Troop, 2 Sq/2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Captain H.R. McMasters, commanding) while I took the Iraqis (elements, 18th Mechanized Brigade, Tawalkana Republican Guards Division, Major S. Mohamed commanding).

    The scale of the system is about 1:2000 (1 inch = 50 meters).   This would b e about 0.75mm in wargaming terms, a large tank like an Abrams would measure about 1/4 inch (0.8 cm) gun barrel included.  Even then our 96″ x 60″ (8 foot by 5 foot virtual table) could barely contain some of the engagement ranges.

    Nevertheless the playtest went pretty well.  I think I plotted the Iraqi minefield a little too deep, and I’d like to tweak the to-hit and penetration numbers of the “silver bullet” APFDDS-DU rounds on the M256 120mm main guns on the Abrams a little, and completely overhaul the the ballistic values on the HE-AT rounds.  But the TOWs on the M3 cavalry tracks performed perfectly, as did the predictably terrible Iraqi “Asad Babil” license-built T-72 clones and BMP-1 APCs.

    The opening of the battle (grid is one inch, 8′ by 5′ table). Dark area is an Iraqi antipersonnel minefield, which poses little more than an annoyance to Rasmus’ American tanks. Turns are 30 seconds, so American tanks move at 11″.

    Captain H. R. McMaster’s “Eagle” Troop, 2/2 ACR, complete with different “skill levels” in command and gunnery, and historical platoon commanders. Note that Lt. Tim Gauthier’s 3rd Platoon is missing, detached south to maintain contact with “Iron” and “Killer” Troops, 3/2 ACR (Captain D. Miller and M. Haszard, commanding respectively). Also, two of 2Lt M. Petschek’s M3 Cavalry tracks are missing (he should have six), detached north to maintain contact with Capt Joe Sartiano’s “Ghost” Troop 2/2/ACR.

    The initial eight T-72M1s “Asad Babil” (Lions of Babylon) encountered by Eagle Troop. Note they are dug into improved positions, practically buried up to their turrets and hull down behind a dune crest, just the first element in a larger battalion position of upwards of 30 armored vehicles. Overall, the Iraqi deployment (modeled on historical dispositions) was sound, it was a reverse slope defense with a minefield, solid reserve / counterattack force (Major S. Mohamed had actually trained at Fort Benning in the 1980s when the US and Iraq were allies during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War). But with no infantry or artillery support, and completely surprised by the American appearance, and the sheer speed, range, and accuracy of their gunfire and advance … this battle would be one-sided as it would be unpleasant.

    The first company of T-72s is destroyed in a single fire phase by Rasmus’ Eagle Troop, exactly as took place historically. One tank has struck a mine, however, and even more lucky for my Iraqis, actually taken damage. So I’m actually 1/3 toward an Iraqi game victory here. This damage to the Iraqis was inflicted even though the Americans were advancing at “Battle Carry HEAT,” because they had just engaged and destroyed an Iraqi infantry position three klicks further west at 67 Easting. So their first round HAD to be a HEAT round, then they could load SABOT at their option (watch those ammo loads, though, each tank only has so many of these “silver bullets.”

    End of Turn 2, and Eagle Troop has more or less caved in most of the follow-on companies of Iraqi armor (battle is now 60 second in progress). However, One of my T-72s has scored a lucky activation roll (scneario rule: Iraqis units cannot activate on Turn 1, only activate on Turn 2 with a 50% roll, and on Turn 3 activate normally) and actually struck a M3 Bradley cavalry track at a range of 49″ (1950 meters). The round glances off the turret and damages the Bradley’s optics and targeting, but that’s another victory point for the Iraqis (4 and counting). Of course the Iraqis will lose the battle but I’m actually getting close to winning the GAME.

    Turn 3. The M3 Bradley cavalry tracks have fallen back for missile reload drill, covered by the advance tanks. Abrams 22 has now struck a mine as well (admittedly I drew this minefield too deep), but the butchry of T-72s is now almost complete. Hopwever, the reserve force of BMP-1s is now moving as well, activating around the north to hopefully take the American left wing under fire. Again, please note these vehicles are about FIVE TIMES too long, and 25 TIMES too large in area to be truly to scale with the map. The tan circle in the center of each vehicle shows its true positition (and approximate size). Modern mechanized and armored war is really spread out, and really impossible to capture in “WYSIWIG” visual scale on a physical miniatures table.

    After four turns, two minutes, this FIRST PHASE of 73 Easting is over. The Iraqi tank / mechanized battalion is effectively shattered, with 16 T-72s destroyed, two cripples having fled the field, two more damaged, and five BMP-1 APCs wrecked as well. The Iraqis have been hitting the Abrams occasionally, but at ranges past 1500 meters they mathematically can’t penetrate the Abrams’ armor (note these Iraqis are not fighting with “true” T-72M1s, these are Iraqi-built tanks made under license that DON’T have the sabot or depleted uranium ammo other armies do). This is n ot a game design mistake, this is perfect and I was very pleased to see this disparity unfold organically on my table. I did score a hit on one M3 cavalry track with one of my BMPs withan AT-3 Sagger, crippling the Bradley’s weapons. This gives me a score of 9 points and technically a narrow win. Which makes sense, Eagle Troop has now taken more damage they did historically, even more than Ghost Troop did eight klicks to the north. However, once again, I drew that minefield too deep, I’m not 100% happy with the sabot ballistic performance, and it’s clear I got the HE-AT rounds way off, especially at longer range. So the Americans were robbed a *little* here, enough to adjust the result to a DRAW and call this a successulf v.0.1 playtest of the new BATTLE CARRY SABOT modern tank combat game system.

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