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Oriskany’s Wargames on the Web

Oriskany’s Wargames on the Web

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Project Blog by oriskany

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About the Project

Lately, I've been running war games every weekend with members of the community via web conference. Players log on and play wargames with each other in real time, regardless of location, and we usually have at least a couple spectators as well. Many times it’s been Darkstar, but we’re also running wargames in Panzer Leader, Arab-Israeli Wars, and now Valor & Victory.

BoW/OTT community members @brucelea, @damon, @davehawes, and @rasmus have taken the plunge, leading battalions across thousands of meters of desert, starfleets in pitched battles across the heavens, or vicious firefights in the hungles of Vietnam, all without leaving the comfort of their home.

Hard-core, old-school command-tactical wargames can now be run (complete with spectators and recordings) in real time, with BOTH PLAYERS moving pieces across THE SAME virtual game board, thus maintaining player agency, speedy and instant results (no play by e-mail), interwoven turn sequences, any questions / feedback instantly received and addressed, and with the game being virtually recorded as it goes, a ready-made battle report can actually be created as we go.

All of this without the players having to install any new software on their computer, on any platform (PC or Mac). All that's needed is to agree on a time, a handful of dice, and a bellyful of courage!

Every weekend can now be a boot camp! All without costing me thousands of dollars in airfare, too!

This Project is Active

Brucelea v. Oriskany - PanzerBlitz Ostfront 1943 (p2)

Tutoring 5
Skill 4
Idea 4
No Comments

Okay, we’re back for Part 02 of this battle between myself (playing a kampfgruppe of Grossdeutschland Division – 500 men and 70  tanks) against the main body of 12th Tank Corps / 3rd Tank Army (1250+ men, 70 tanks) played by Andrew (@brucelea)

Background and setting details are all below.  Basically, Andrew’s set up his battalion of a Soviet motorized rifle brigade on the table on defense, now I have to assault with elements of Grossdeutschland Division (to include II. Bn, PzRgt “GD,” II. Bn, Fusilier Rgt “GD,” PzJgAbt and StgPzAbtg “GD,” and of course 13. Kompanie, PzRgt “GD,” some of the first Tigers to see action in this part of the war.

There are five objective hexes on the table.  I have ten turns to take at least three of them.  I took the first on the fly, but the second is heavily defended.  I’ve spent several turns carefully setting up an all-out frontal offensive (really my only way into this objective), so now we’ll see how it goes.

First up, my supporting attack to the south gets underway when Andrew moves from T-60A light tanks and T-34/c medium tanks up against my PzKpfw IVs of II. Bn/PzRgt GD, and StuG-IIIs of StPzAbtg GD.  The KV-1s are too far behind to support.  Honestly, I might have held back on those light and medium tanks until the heavy tanks could close the distance and support.  So I have 10 StuGs (2 batteries) pin down the T-34s in the open, while three platoons of tanks (PzIVGs and PzIIIJs) take out the T-34s in the woods. First up, my supporting attack to the south gets underway when Andrew moves from T-60A light tanks and T-34/c medium tanks up against my PzKpfw IVs of II. Bn/PzRgt GD, and StuG-IIIs of StPzAbtg GD. The KV-1s are too far behind to support. Honestly, I might have held back on those light and medium tanks until the heavy tanks could close the distance and support. So I have 10 StuGs (2 batteries) pin down the T-34s in the open, while three platoons of tanks (PzIVGs and PzIIIJs) take out the T-34s in the woods.
Finally, the assault in the center gets started on the town of Vll'khuvatka.  I roll in with tanks from the north (PzKpfw IVs) and south (Tigers), using the shape of the town to screen each attack from at least some of Andrew's 76.2mm antitank batteries (9-A-5).  The only unit exposed to a crossfire of both batteries are the Marders in the center, selected because, well, they're a little more expendable.  They also have a lower defense than my tanks, so I'm hoping Andrew will fire at them instead of my tanks.  Andrew doesn't entirely take the bait, however, pinning down one platoon of Marder tank destroyers but also KILLING one platoon of PzKpfw IVGs in the north.  In this attack, the 76.2mm AT battery was assisted by Soviet 37mm AA guns firing from under cover across the Orchyk River.Finally, the assault in the center gets started on the town of Vll'khuvatka. I roll in with tanks from the north (PzKpfw IVs) and south (Tigers), using the shape of the town to screen each attack from at least some of Andrew's 76.2mm antitank batteries (9-A-5). The only unit exposed to a crossfire of both batteries are the Marders in the center, selected because, well, they're a little more expendable. They also have a lower defense than my tanks, so I'm hoping Andrew will fire at them instead of my tanks. Andrew doesn't entirely take the bait, however, pinning down one platoon of Marder tank destroyers but also KILLING one platoon of PzKpfw IVGs in the north. In this attack, the 76.2mm AT battery was assisted by Soviet 37mm AA guns firing from under cover across the Orchyk River.
Andrew is also getting bolt up north, where fifteen T-60A light tanks are speeding across the steppe to threaten the objective hex I've previously taken in Vil'khuvatka.  There's a lot of movement in this scenario, I should state that each hex measures 150 meters across (covering the area of a say ... two FoW tables).Andrew is also getting bolt up north, where fifteen T-60A light tanks are speeding across the steppe to threaten the objective hex I've previously taken in Vil'khuvatka. There's a lot of movement in this scenario, I should state that each hex measures 150 meters across (covering the area of a say ... two FoW tables).
Now that I've closed the distance on Turn 3 and taken my lumps, on Turn 4 I can open fire point-blank into the town of Vilk'huvatka.  Tigers, Mark IVs, Marders, halftrack MGs and 2.0cm FlaK autocannons all target AT guns first, along with Soviet SMG platoons to reduce the risk of close assault in the streets and approaches of that town.  I won't lie, I get two pretty good rolls here, killing both AT batteries and SMG platoons.Now that I've closed the distance on Turn 3 and taken my lumps, on Turn 4 I can open fire point-blank into the town of Vilk'huvatka. Tigers, Mark IVs, Marders, halftrack MGs and 2.0cm FlaK autocannons all target AT guns first, along with Soviet SMG platoons to reduce the risk of close assault in the streets and approaches of that town. I won't lie, I get two pretty good rolls here, killing both AT batteries and SMG platoons.
Now starts my movement phase.  Using split move and fire (a little like Now starts my movement phase. Using split move and fire (a little like "shoot & scoot" in other systems), my German TANKS only - see note below - can shift out of the way for German infantry, HMGs, and engineers to rush in for close assault Of course such movement is subject to Soviet opportunity fire, and Andrew makes damned sure to pin down the German "pionier" engineers (they would lend a pretty substantial bonus to any Close Assault Tactics - CAT). As a result, my infantry close assault more or less fails, only dispersing the remaining Soviet rifle platoons in the target hexes, not killing them outright. NOTE NOTE NOTE --- > Okay, in writing this battle report and reviewing the maps in detail, I realize I unintentionally cheated my ass off here. Those Marders are not turreted AFVs, and so do NOT get the Split-Move-and-Fire rule. This means I could NOT vacate that central assault hex, which means the Soviet rifle platoon in the northern objective hex at Vil'khuvatka would NOT have been dispersed. I don't think I would have made THAT much a difference since I failed to take the hex anyway, but I will make the correction and apply it to future turns.
In the south, Andrew's KVs close up behind the remaining T-34s and T-60As and together they make a mad rush at my tanks.  Now I've gotten a little too aggressive with the StuGs here, pushing forward in that river gully.  So they CAN'T help with opportunity fire (they can't see anything down in that ravine, just as they cannot be seen in turn).  This leaves the PzKpfw IIIs and IVs on their own.  No worries, with my opportunity fire I can easily disperse the Soviet tank platoons before they hit me in an overrun.  EXCEPT I ROLL A 6! (low rolls are better, so a 6 is the worst possible roll).  The opportunity fire whiffs and Andrew BARELY misses killing the whole stack of German tanks.  Even if they all rally (Grossdeutschland is an elite unit, they have Morale In the south, Andrew's KVs close up behind the remaining T-34s and T-60As and together they make a mad rush at my tanks. Now I've gotten a little too aggressive with the StuGs here, pushing forward in that river gully. So they CAN'T help with opportunity fire (they can't see anything down in that ravine, just as they cannot be seen in turn). This leaves the PzKpfw IIIs and IVs on their own. No worries, with my opportunity fire I can easily disperse the Soviet tank platoons before they hit me in an overrun. EXCEPT I ROLL A 6! (low rolls are better, so a 6 is the worst possible roll). The opportunity fire whiffs and Andrew BARELY misses killing the whole stack of German tanks. Even if they all rally (Grossdeutschland is an elite unit, they have Morale "A" in this scenario so they probably will), they'll still be clobbered again point-blank by the T-34s. PRO TIP when playing against the Soviets. NEVER EVER EVER let them get this close! At less than 150 meters, a 76.2mm T-34 hits almost as hard as a Tiger.
The furious street battle for Vil'khuvatka continues in the center.  Now on Andrew's Turn 5, he tries to rush in some reinforcements.  But my Tigers, which have been shifted during Turn 4's split-move-and-fire, get opportunity fire on the moves and blow the Soviet rifle and engineer platoons into kitty litter.  That northern Soviet rifle platoon in Hex 1215 should be set upright (good order - see rules error above).The furious street battle for Vil'khuvatka continues in the center. Now on Andrew's Turn 5, he tries to rush in some reinforcements. But my Tigers, which have been shifted during Turn 4's split-move-and-fire, get opportunity fire on the moves and blow the Soviet rifle and engineer platoons into kitty litter. That northern Soviet rifle platoon in Hex 1215 should be set upright (good order - see rules error above).
Uh oh, Soviet light tanks are now adjacent to my first objective hex up in the northwestern part of the board.  I'm not too worried about it . . . for now.  That German infantry platoon is well-positioned in that concrete town hex, and fifteen T-60As aren't likely to shift them.  But if Andrew gets artillery or medium tank support up there, I could be in serious trouble. Also, that's my headquarters unit up there (CP) - if I lose that my morale drops to a Uh oh, Soviet light tanks are now adjacent to my first objective hex up in the northwestern part of the board. I'm not too worried about it . . . for now. That German infantry platoon is well-positioned in that concrete town hex, and fifteen T-60As aren't likely to shift them. But if Andrew gets artillery or medium tank support up there, I could be in serious trouble. Also, that's my headquarters unit up there (CP) - if I lose that my morale drops to a "B." If nothing else, it's a distraction that might require me to dispatch a few platoons of Marders or PzKpfw IVs up that way, diluting my assault on Vil'khuvatka.
The overall situation HALFWAY through the game (end of Turn 5).  I have one objective hex, hopefully I'm about to take a second.  After that things are going to get very tense, very tight, and very rushed as the clock starts to run out on my attack.The overall situation HALFWAY through the game (end of Turn 5). I have one objective hex, hopefully I'm about to take a second. After that things are going to get very tense, very tight, and very rushed as the clock starts to run out on my attack.

So that’s where we stand for now.  After 3 hours, we had to call the session for the moment, we will come back and finish this hopefully sometime in two weeks, Jan 26-27.

This one’s really on the razor’s edge, I think.  My Grossdeutschland Germans have one objective hex, we’re on the cusp of taking the second one, on Turn 6.  I don’t think I’ll be taking the southern one after that T-34 overrun, let alone reaching the one in the far northeast corner of the board (along the Khar’kov road).

This leaves me with the one on the east back on the river, where one hell of a battle is liable to open up as Andrew and I probably converge everything we can put there on the last 4 turns or so.

I have a lot of firepower but not much time, and of course Andrew can still cause problems for me in the backfield with his T-60As and my northwestern objective hex.

We’ll see what happens!  Can Andrew hold on for the Motherland?  Tune in and find out!

Brucelea v. Oriskany - PanzerBlitz Ostfront 1943 (p1)

Tutoring 4
Skill 3
Idea 4
No Comments

This weekend saw the kickoff of another web wargame, this time between myself and @brucelea (Andrew) in the UK.  Moving out of the Tunisian desert, we squared off this time on the Eastern Front, in the blood-spattered, snowy steppes of the northeastern Ukraine for a game of Avalon Hill’s PanzerBlitz (updated).

Setting:  February 1943.  The final death throes of the Battle of Stalingrad have finally ended.  The whole German 6th Army and half the 4th Panzer Army are gone, trapped by a massive Soviet encirclement and killed or captured practically to the last man.  To effect this encirclement, two more Axis armies (Romanian 3rd and Italian 8th) have been effectively annihilated in place.  A gash hundreds of miles across has been ripped in the southern German line, and fresh Soviet fronts (spearheaded by Katukov’s 1st Guards Army and Rybalko’s 3rd Tank Army) pour through the breach.  German Army Group “A” must be pulled out of the Caucasus in record time before they too are lost, along with the remnants of German Army Group “Don.”  As bad as Stalingrad has been for the Germans, another disaster is about to eclipse that defeat by a several grisly order of magnitude.

To win desperately-needed time and stabilize the southern German line, Field Marshal Erich von Manstein engages in a campaign of mobile defense, falling back, allowing the Soviets to rush forward, then hitting back only in carefully-chosen, perfectly-timed counterattacks.  He uses Soviet momentum against them, baiting them forward in the empty vastness of the eastern Ukraine, striking when forward elements have separated themselves from support columns, when Soviet spearheads have spread too far across the steppe, when Soviet tank and mechanized corps start to feel the iron tug of logistics tighten around their necks.

Of course Manstein has to trade space for time, and this includes the Ukrainian city of Khar’kov.  In a nightmarish breakout, encircled German troops of the Grossdeutschland Divisions and Hausser’s II SS Panzer Corps have cut their way free of the encircled city, disemboweling Soviet tank and motorized formations in the process. Still the Soviet advance continues, driving desperately south and west, hoping to reach the northern shores of the Black Sea, and thereby slice off the entire southern third of the German army in the East (perhaps a solid million men, three times what was taken at Stalingrad).

But in the wake of the Khar’kov bloodbath, Soviet armies may have finally pushed too bar, they’re too spread out, too exhausted, suffered too many casualties, and are too badly undersupplied.  Conversely, the Germans have been falling back on their supply lines and rail heads, and Manstein feels his moment has finally come.

This will be what history calls “Manstein’s Backhand Blow,” the re-re-retaking of Khar’kov, the stunning battle of maneuver that will slam the runaway Soviet advance in its tracks, and stabilize the German Army in the wake of the Stalingrad disaster.

One of the many opening attacks Manstein will launch, primarily along the routes between Khar’kov and Peter the Great’s old battlefield at Poltava, will come here, with the Grossdeutschland division, spearheaded by a handful of the precious new “Tiger” heavy tanks, hitting the 12th Tank Corps of Rybalko’s 3rd Tank Army.

Some of the RKKA maps from this campaign, showing the final phases of the post-Stalingrad Soviet slashes down through Khar'kov, followed by the German counterattacks back up toward the Russo-Ukrainian border.Some of the RKKA maps from this campaign, showing the final phases of the post-Stalingrad Soviet slashes down through Khar'kov, followed by the German counterattacks back up toward the Russo-Ukrainian border.
More historical research, allowing me to convert actual orders of battle for the identified units involved into PanzerBlitz army lists.  You can get pretty detailed information, down to the staff officers, individual battalions, and actual tank types and unit counts for the brigades in question on the dates in question.More historical research, allowing me to convert actual orders of battle for the identified units involved into PanzerBlitz army lists. You can get pretty detailed information, down to the staff officers, individual battalions, and actual tank types and unit counts for the brigades in question on the dates in question.
We're trying to keep this game a little faster, so we're leaving off a lot of off-board assets like air power and especially artillery.  Here's the German force, including elements of II. Battalion, Fusilier Rgt Grossdeutschland, some of their panzers (with PzKpfw IV/F2s for HQ tanks, those SHOULD be PzKpfw IV Gs for the battalion tanks, but the game values are the same).  PzKpfw VIE Tigers make up 13. Kompanie, PzRgt Grossdeutschland (along with a handful of late model PzKpfw IIIs).  There are also two batteries of StuG-III, Marder PanzerJaegers, mortars, and engineers and FlaK SdKfz 10 halftracks.  Call it 500 infantry and 70 armored vehicles.We're trying to keep this game a little faster, so we're leaving off a lot of off-board assets like air power and especially artillery. Here's the German force, including elements of II. Battalion, Fusilier Rgt Grossdeutschland, some of their panzers (with PzKpfw IV/F2s for HQ tanks, those SHOULD be PzKpfw IV Gs for the battalion tanks, but the game values are the same). PzKpfw VIE Tigers make up 13. Kompanie, PzRgt Grossdeutschland (along with a handful of late model PzKpfw IIIs). There are also two batteries of StuG-III, Marder PanzerJaegers, mortars, and engineers and FlaK SdKfz 10 halftracks. Call it 500 infantry and 70 armored vehicles.
The Soviet force is at least 1300 strong, plus 70 tanks as well.  But these tanks are nowhere near as powerful.  Yes, those KV-1s of 97th Heavy Tank Brigade are great, and T-34/c medium tanks of the 86th Tank Brigade never go wrong.  But about half the Soviet tank force are T-60A light tanks.  Barely weighing 5.8 tons, they carry only a 20mm autocannon and armor sometimes as thin as 7mm.  For all the press the T-34 gets, in early 1943 a huge portion of the Red Army's tank force was made up of hopelessly inadequate machines like this.The Soviet force is at least 1300 strong, plus 70 tanks as well. But these tanks are nowhere near as powerful. Yes, those KV-1s of 97th Heavy Tank Brigade are great, and T-34/c medium tanks of the 86th Tank Brigade never go wrong. But about half the Soviet tank force are T-60A light tanks. Barely weighing 5.8 tons, they carry only a 20mm autocannon and armor sometimes as thin as 7mm. For all the press the T-34 gets, in early 1943 a huge portion of the Red Army's tank force was made up of hopelessly inadequate machines like this.
The Soviets get to set up the 13th Motorized Rifle Brigade (up to  the line, 20 hexes / 5 km from the east end of the board).  Scouts and partisans have alerted them to the approach of the Grossdeutschland kampfgruppe, and their two brigades of tanks get to arrive on the beginning of Turn 1 from the eastern end of the board.  The Germans, of course, enter from the western end of the board.  Note the small Soviet force in trucks in the norther-center part of the board, behind the village of Vil'khuvatka.  These are perhaps intended to rush forward and seize that westernmost objective hex, at least slowing the German advance and forcing them to fight for this first objective.  Please bear in mind that when I draw these maps and design these scenarios, I don't know which side I will wind up playing.  The Soviets get to set up the 13th Motorized Rifle Brigade (up to the line, 20 hexes / 5 km from the east end of the board). Scouts and partisans have alerted them to the approach of the Grossdeutschland kampfgruppe, and their two brigades of tanks get to arrive on the beginning of Turn 1 from the eastern end of the board. The Germans, of course, enter from the western end of the board. Note the small Soviet force in trucks in the norther-center part of the board, behind the village of Vil'khuvatka. These are perhaps intended to rush forward and seize that westernmost objective hex, at least slowing the German advance and forcing them to fight for this first objective. Please bear in mind that when I draw these maps and design these scenarios, I don't know which side I will wind up playing.
Game day!  The web meeting begins and Andrew chooses to play the SOVIETS.  So I thunder on the western side of the board with my Grossdeutschland kampfgruppe (far and away one of my favorite German divisions - all the elite troops and top-line equipment without most of the political Game day! The web meeting begins and Andrew chooses to play the SOVIETS. So I thunder on the western side of the board with my Grossdeutschland kampfgruppe (far and away one of my favorite German divisions - all the elite troops and top-line equipment without most of the political "baggage" that comes with playing the Waffen SS). Note I have speedy halftracks (flak and pionier engineers) bolting for that northern objective hex. I can't quite make it in Turn 1, which means Andrew will get to force at least a brief fight there if he wants. Marder panzerjaegers and PzKpfw IVs move up in support. Meanwhile, I have a column of trucks carrying my fusiliers, led by my Tigers, approaching the main crossing village hexes of Vil'khuvatka, while more PzKpfw IVs, IIIs, and my StuGs cross the puny and frozen Orchyk River (more of a creek at this point) to threaten the southern objective hexes of Znamenka, or (alternatively) pivot north to assist a larger assault on Vil'khuvakta.
A close-up of my A close-up of my "schwerpunkt." Tigers, baby! Let me see if I can NOT waste them this time by being overaggressive like I was in the last game against the British in southern Tunisia.
Of course, on his Turn 1, Andrew gets to bring on his tanks.  In a tank fight, I'm winning this game hands down.  But he's beating me in infantry and artillery, and of course he's also got time and distance on his side.  This is a German assault, so it's up to me to take the objective he starts off holding with fortified troops.  The burden of victory is on me.  Of course, on his Turn 1, Andrew gets to bring on his tanks. In a tank fight, I'm winning this game hands down. But he's beating me in infantry and artillery, and of course he's also got time and distance on his side. This is a German assault, so it's up to me to take the objective he starts off holding with fortified troops. The burden of victory is on me.
So far, so good.  Andrew has opted against a showdown in those northern town hexes, so I take the first of five objective hexes (I have to take at least 3 of 5 to win).  I am 1/3 of the way to victory without firing a shot.  The second objective hex will not be so easy.  There's no real way to take this except by frontal assault, but even a frontal assault can be carried off with speed, precision, and relatively few casualties if handled just right.  PanzerBlitz is a game about DETAILS, careful balance and combination of arms, utilization of the turn sequence, large-scale planning and small-scale execution.  It will take me a few turns to set up, but I believe I can kick down the front door in the middle and take that objective hex, probably destroying the bulk of Andrew's firepower in the process.  So far, so good. Andrew has opted against a showdown in those northern town hexes, so I take the first of five objective hexes (I have to take at least 3 of 5 to win). I am 1/3 of the way to victory without firing a shot. The second objective hex will not be so easy. There's no real way to take this except by frontal assault, but even a frontal assault can be carried off with speed, precision, and relatively few casualties if handled just right. PanzerBlitz is a game about DETAILS, careful balance and combination of arms, utilization of the turn sequence, large-scale planning and small-scale execution. It will take me a few turns to set up, but I believe I can kick down the front door in the middle and take that objective hex, probably destroying the bulk of Andrew's firepower in the process.
I continue to set up for my assault in the center.  German smoke screens (dropped by my battalion 81mm mortar battery) screen the advance of my infantry.  Tigers, PzKpfw IVs, and Marders will lead off, while Mgs from halftracks and 20mm flak will also pour in to soften enemy positions.  I'll take some AT fire coming in from those two batteries of Soviet 76.2mm AT guns, but I'm trusting the Tigers to bear the brunt of that, while my more expendable Marder IIIs will take the I continue to set up for my assault in the center. German smoke screens (dropped by my battalion 81mm mortar battery) screen the advance of my infantry. Tigers, PzKpfw IVs, and Marders will lead off, while Mgs from halftracks and 20mm flak will also pour in to soften enemy positions. I'll take some AT fire coming in from those two batteries of Soviet 76.2mm AT guns, but I'm trusting the Tigers to bear the brunt of that, while my more expendable Marder IIIs will take the "crossfire hex" in the center. Finally, the "pionier engineers" will spearhead the infantry assualt INTO the town hexes, supported by German HMG and 81mm mortar fire, as well as plenty of HE direct fire from the tanks (especially the Tigers). But you know what they say about battle plans, and how well they survive first contact with the enemy . . .

Sunday's Game: Germans v. Soviets, Feb 1943

Tutoring 2
Skill 4
Idea 4
No Comments

This afternoon we have a live on-line game of PanzerBlitz scheduled for 17:00 GMT, pitting Germans up against Soviets in a command-tactical level wargame set on the frozen steppes of the northeastern Ukraine during the final days of February, 1943.

The scenario sets elements of Grossdeutschland division up against leading elements of 12th Tank Corps (Rybalko’s 3rd Tank Army), during the Third and Fourth Battles of Khar’kov, during Erich von Manstein’s “Backhand Blow” campaign that stabilized the German southern line in Russia and the Ukraine after the disastrous defeat of Stalingrad.

Ping me a PM if you’re interested in checking out the game live, chatting with the participants, or just seeing how we run global-community wargames every weekend on the web.  If not, we’ll  have the battle report up sometime next week!

The map is set up, with 13th Motor Rifle Brigade / 12th Tank Corps / 3rd Tank Army deployed.  86th Tank Brigade and and 97th Heavy Tank Brigade are entering the table from the east.  But so are the Germans, with II. Bn / Fusilier Rgt / GD Division, along with units of Grossdeutschland’s StuG Battalion, Panzer Regiment, and of course 13. Pz Kompanie, one of the first Tiger units to see action in the East, attached to Grossdeutschland (before the division would later get its integral schwere Panzerabteilung Tiger battalion).

Sunday's Game: Germans v. Soviets, Feb 1943

USMC vs. NVA, Hill Battles near DMZ, 1967 (replay - finish)

Tutoring 4
Skill 3
Idea 4
No Comments

December 1967, South Vietnam, Quang Tri Highlands, near the DMZ. To finish up the replay of Lima Co / 3rd Bn / 4th Marines / I Corps hitting an NVA-occupied village northwest of Camp Carroll (320th PAVN Division) during the infiltration and build-up to the Tet Offensive …

System: Valor & Victory (Vietnam Edition)

OKay, so when we last left Captain Waterman's HQ platoon, he was pinned down pretty badly in the rice paddies north of the village, with RPGs, AKs, and PKMs on his right, a DShK on his left, and 60-mm mortar providing base of fire for the NVA to his front.  Now a new reinforced NVA squad has moved into the buildings facing the paddies, putting him in even further jeopardy.  If you're wondering why 2ndLt Pierce's platoon wasn't able to put down any supporting fire last turn, one thing I forgot to mention was the random movement of one of these civilian groups actually put the civilians into his line of fire. Free World forces are FORBIDDEN to put fire any fire through or into a hex containing civilians.  However, using the advance and assault phase at the end of Marine Turn 4, Pierce is able to move up into the civilian hex, thus clearing the obstruction.  He'll have to wait until next turn to put any more fire down, however, meaning Waterman and his men will have to survive ANOTHER whole turn of NVA fire and possible assault.   -- SPOILER ALERT: he does not.  The NVA on their Turn 4 positively smash Waterman's platoon, he's basically the last man left standing after I pay all the required casualty points.OKay, so when we last left Captain Waterman's HQ platoon, he was pinned down pretty badly in the rice paddies north of the village, with RPGs, AKs, and PKMs on his right, a DShK on his left, and 60-mm mortar providing base of fire for the NVA to his front. Now a new reinforced NVA squad has moved into the buildings facing the paddies, putting him in even further jeopardy. If you're wondering why 2ndLt Pierce's platoon wasn't able to put down any supporting fire last turn, one thing I forgot to mention was the random movement of one of these civilian groups actually put the civilians into his line of fire. Free World forces are FORBIDDEN to put fire any fire through or into a hex containing civilians. However, using the advance and assault phase at the end of Marine Turn 4, Pierce is able to move up into the civilian hex, thus clearing the obstruction. He'll have to wait until next turn to put any more fire down, however, meaning Waterman and his men will have to survive ANOTHER whole turn of NVA fire and possible assault. -- SPOILER ALERT: he does not. The NVA on their Turn 4 positively smash Waterman's platoon, he's basically the last man left standing after I pay all the required casualty points.
In the south, we saw where Collins carried off a risky but successful assault against NVA squads holding  the southern approaches to the village.  Occupying that hex, Collin's platoon now has a clear (but long) LOS finally against the back of that mortar pit.  Yes, he can get assualted (like Rasmus did to me last game), but this time I still have a satchel charge ready to defeat any charge before it hits me.  Meanwhile, Bergman's platoon has to use full movement (booby trap roll 11 or 12) to get up on that ridge and occupy those first hooches, advance and assault phase sees him actually in the of the objective hexes. The Marines might finally be turning this around!   In the south, we saw where Collins carried off a risky but successful assault against NVA squads holding the southern approaches to the village. Occupying that hex, Collin's platoon now has a clear (but long) LOS finally against the back of that mortar pit. Yes, he can get assualted (like Rasmus did to me last game), but this time I still have a satchel charge ready to defeat any charge before it hits me. Meanwhile, Bergman's platoon has to use full movement (booby trap roll 11 or 12) to get up on that ridge and occupy those first hooches, advance and assault phase sees him actually in the of the objective hexes. The Marines might finally be turning this around!
Okay, time for the NVA to win this game.  If they can assault Waterman's hex, all those casualties are considered Okay, time for the NVA to win this game. If they can assault Waterman's hex, all those casualties are considered "captured" and thus worth extra NVA victory points (quick note: I have already adjusted the victory points a little further AGAINST the Americans, giving the NVA 4 points per casualty marker inflicted, 8 if they are "unsecured" or captured). So this will be 32 victory points if they win this one hex, since Waterman himself will count as a casualty marker and all FOUR markers would then fall into NVA hands. But Waterman has 2 firepower points, adds in his satchel charge (last one), and then rolls a 4 on 2d6! Awesome! The roll is adjusted +1 for the NVA partial cover (rice paddies), but Waterman's firepower is considered 2+16=18 for the satchel charge (commanders can either apply their bonus OR their actual firepower rating, not both), then -2 for point blank opportunity fire. So on an adjusted 3 on the APFP table (18 row) yields 6 casualty points, more than enough to wipe out this assault before it reaches him! Captain Jiang Xuan and his mortars, however, and Lt. Phan Khoi pour fire into Pierce's struggling platoon, inflicting 6 casualty points. The first two are absorbed by the civilians in that hex, killing them. Four more pin down the rest of that platoon.
The beginning of Marine Turn 5 sees more heroism from Captain Waterman.  An NVA fireteam to the west of the rice paddies fails to pin him down.  Then he gets another  monster roll against the Phan Khoi's hex, while the hapless 2nd Lt. Pierce (although rallying during the American command phase) fails with a very pool roll.  Waterman's roll is good enough to actually take out the stack (admittedly he rolled obscenely well, I think a 3 on 2d6).  Maybe Pierce's platoon flushed Khoi's shooters from cover.  Meanwhile, Collins has taken the NVA pit under fire from the rear, pinning them down.  Now, with Khoi's hex killed off and Jiang's hex pinned, the way is clear for Bergman to conduct a bloodless assault and take the whole village ... assuming he doesn't hit any booby traps. He has to NOT roll an 11 or 12 since he's using full movement rate . . . no whammies, no whammies . . . SUCCESS!  Jiang's sand bag mortar pit is assaulted and no casualties taken.  The whole village in now in USMC hands, and only one NVA fireteam remains on the board. The beginning of Marine Turn 5 sees more heroism from Captain Waterman. An NVA fireteam to the west of the rice paddies fails to pin him down. Then he gets another monster roll against the Phan Khoi's hex, while the hapless 2nd Lt. Pierce (although rallying during the American command phase) fails with a very pool roll. Waterman's roll is good enough to actually take out the stack (admittedly he rolled obscenely well, I think a 3 on 2d6). Maybe Pierce's platoon flushed Khoi's shooters from cover. Meanwhile, Collins has taken the NVA pit under fire from the rear, pinning them down. Now, with Khoi's hex killed off and Jiang's hex pinned, the way is clear for Bergman to conduct a bloodless assault and take the whole village ... assuming he doesn't hit any booby traps. He has to NOT roll an 11 or 12 since he's using full movement rate . . . no whammies, no whammies . . . SUCCESS! Jiang's sand bag mortar pit is assaulted and no casualties taken. The whole village in now in USMC hands, and only one NVA fireteam remains on the board.
Captain Waterman is finally pinned down by that lone NVA fireteam, who uses advance and assault phase to fall back one hex to avoid USMC counterfire next turn.  Waterman had +1 defense for the rice paddies, and +1 defense for the NVA fire just scraping by the jungle in hex F2, two cumulative modifiers that JUST saved his life.  Meanwhile, Bergman has prisoners but I won't get extra points for them since I wont be able to get them evacuated before the end of the game (I might change the rules on how POW evacuation works, I have a pretty good idea for a possible option for how Free World Forces can do this).Captain Waterman is finally pinned down by that lone NVA fireteam, who uses advance and assault phase to fall back one hex to avoid USMC counterfire next turn. Waterman had +1 defense for the rice paddies, and +1 defense for the NVA fire just scraping by the jungle in hex F2, two cumulative modifiers that JUST saved his life. Meanwhile, Bergman has prisoners but I won't get extra points for them since I wont be able to get them evacuated before the end of the game (I might change the rules on how POW evacuation works, I have a pretty good idea for a possible option for how Free World Forces can do this).
Okay, the last turn of the game.  The Marines, using Okay, the last turn of the game. The Marines, using "Assault Move" in some places (slower movement rate, but +1 cover and less chance of hitting undetected booby trap) moves to secure the last objective hexes. Also we HAVE to evacuate the casualties in Waterman's hex or they will count for 8 NVA victory points instead of 4. Captain Waterman actually failed his roll on Turn 5, so we have to get all three evacuated on Turn 6. Each infantry unit can make one check (I can't get any actual Navy Corpsmen to them in time). So I need to load up that hex with as many infantry units as I can. 2nd Lt Pierce saves one, Waterman saves another, and the remaining infantry save the third. Phew. That last NVA fire team, meanwhile, inflicts FOUR casualty points on a stupid-lucky roll on German's platoon securing that western bridge. Now ... here is why the Americans like moving around in large, heavily-armed groups. One, it reduced risk of boobytraps. Two, it makes their stacks "spongier" and thus more resilient when absorbing casualty points. I don't mind such "gaminess" in a system when it reinforces and encourages real-life tactical and historical doctrines and behaviors. By moving in such a big group, the fire is spread out among them and they whole stack can be pinned rather than anyone actually taking a fatal wound.

So here’s the final score.

The NVA have knocked out eight USMC fireteams, no officers, and one US Navy Corpsman (nine units), at 4 VP each = 36 points.  All casualties were secured, and the NVA hold no objective hexes.  One civilian counter was killed but it was the NVA that did it (no VP for the NVA).  Final NVA score remains at 36.

The USMC has knocked out 23 NVA fireteams and officers = 23 points.  Two POW counters successfully evacuated = 6 points.  USMC owns all five objective hexes = 15 points.  Total score = 44 points.

USMC has won this one, probably due to Captain Waterman up in that norther rice paddy, hopefully winning a Bronze Star at least if not a Silver Star or a Navy Cross.

USMC vs. NVA, Hill Battles near DMZ, 1967 (replay)

Tutoring 6
Skill 5
Idea 6
4 Comments
Okay, so the replay commences.  A few changes to the rules on booby traps, the Marines are now in danger of hitting one every time they move a stack, on a 2d6 roll of 11 or 12 (it was just 12 before).  However, they cannot hit one on advance and assault phase, and they can reduce the chance to only a Okay, so the replay commences. A few changes to the rules on booby traps, the Marines are now in danger of hitting one every time they move a stack, on a 2d6 roll of 11 or 12 (it was just 12 before). However, they cannot hit one on advance and assault phase, and they can reduce the chance to only a "12" result IF they use "Assault Movement" rules. This is basically half movement rate, but +1 cover bonus and reduced chance of undetected booby traps. You can see where NVA opportunity fire is greeting the Marines the second they walk onto the battlefield.
The worst opportunity fire comes in the north, where Captain Waterman's HQ platoon is hammered by very accurate fire from the NVA DShK 12.7mm HMG and that captured 60mm mortar (now commanded by the +2 NVA captain).The worst opportunity fire comes in the north, where Captain Waterman's HQ platoon is hammered by very accurate fire from the NVA DShK 12.7mm HMG and that captured 60mm mortar (now commanded by the +2 NVA captain).
During the defensive fire phase of the NVA Turn 1, the Marines finally get a chance to hit back.  Their firepower is ferocious, but they (as always) suffer from a frew drawbacks.  One is range.  Their 5.56mm (.223 Remington) M16A1s don't shoot as far as Soviet / Chinese AKMs (7.62mm COMBLOC), while the M79 During the defensive fire phase of the NVA Turn 1, the Marines finally get a chance to hit back. Their firepower is ferocious, but they (as always) suffer from a frew drawbacks. One is range. Their 5.56mm (.223 Remington) M16A1s don't shoot as far as Soviet / Chinese AKMs (7.62mm COMBLOC), while the M79 "blooper" 40mm grenade launchers doon'
Marine Turn 2 starts with the Command Phase, when they call in all their off-board artillery.  The Marine Turn 2 starts with the Command Phase, when they call in all their off-board artillery. The "Light Barrage" and "Heavy Barrage" counters show where they're targeted, but they can drift, as shown by the explosion markers. Units set at an angle are pinned, units in gray are destroyed.
With NVA units in the south having failed to rally from Marine defensive fire in Turn 1, plus the mortar barrages, the Marines are thus ready to launch a few With NVA units in the south having failed to rally from Marine defensive fire in Turn 1, plus the mortar barrages, the Marines are thus ready to launch a few "bloodless assaults" against entirely pinned NVA stacks ... assuming they don't hit any booby traps along the way. The new booby trap rules make them a little more dangerous, but also give the Marine player a chance to manage the risk by having his squads take their time moving through terrain, and thus the overall mechanic is less random.
Further north, the Marines are having a rougher go of it.  More bloodless assaults are being carried out against pinned NVA stacks, but NVA counterfire (that damned DShK and especially that mortar) are positively mauling Capt. Waterman's and 2ndLt. Pierce's platoons.Further north, the Marines are having a rougher go of it. More bloodless assaults are being carried out against pinned NVA stacks, but NVA counterfire (that damned DShK and especially that mortar) are positively mauling Capt. Waterman's and 2ndLt. Pierce's platoons.
In the south, the battlefield falls momentarily quiet.  All units are rallied, and its time to start evacuating prisoners back to the rally point.In the south, the battlefield falls momentarily quiet. All units are rallied, and its time to start evacuating prisoners back to the rally point.
Pierce's platoon moved forward to try and get a bead on that mortar pit, but is now being pinned down by savage NVA mortar and HMG fire.  There were actually POWs in the stack when it was hit, and these took the first casualties.  The NVA are now basically gunning down their own men to keep them from falling into American hands. Pierce's platoon moved forward to try and get a bead on that mortar pit, but is now being pinned down by savage NVA mortar and HMG fire. There were actually POWs in the stack when it was hit, and these took the first casualties. The NVA are now basically gunning down their own men to keep them from falling into American hands.
Captain Waterman rushes up with three fireteams in an attempt to take some of the pressure off of Pierce.  This is a bad, bad move, and will really come close to losing the game for the Marines right here.  Pinned down out in that rice paddy, with that murderous mortar team (assisted by +2 officer) continually dropping shells on them, and now in a cross fire of AK, PKM, and RPG fire, Waterman's men are in for a very bad day. Captain Waterman rushes up with three fireteams in an attempt to take some of the pressure off of Pierce. This is a bad, bad move, and will really come close to losing the game for the Marines right here. Pinned down out in that rice paddy, with that murderous mortar team (assisted by +2 officer) continually dropping shells on them, and now in a cross fire of AK, PKM, and RPG fire, Waterman's men are in for a very bad day.
Things take a very nasty turn for the Marines in the south as well, where TWO booby traps are hit, one where Collin's platoon is trying to get prisoners off the table and reconsolidate their position (I'm not over-extending this wing like I did in my game against Rasmus) and another booby trap goes off where my Navy corpsmen are trying to rejoin their platoons.  At least Bergman's platoon is clearing NVA positions out of the hooches up on that ridge.Things take a very nasty turn for the Marines in the south as well, where TWO booby traps are hit, one where Collin's platoon is trying to get prisoners off the table and reconsolidate their position (I'm not over-extending this wing like I did in my game against Rasmus) and another booby trap goes off where my Navy corpsmen are trying to rejoin their platoons. At least Bergman's platoon is clearing NVA positions out of the hooches up on that ridge.
With Waterman and Pierce in real trouble up north, I have to break things loose in the south and hopefully put pressure on that MG and mortar pit from the south.  Collins gets the order, and he leads his platoon in.  The Marines have to lucky a few times here ... they have to NOT hit a booby trap running through the jungle (11 and 12 on 2d6), they have to dodge most of the NVA opportunity fire, then they have to win the assault, then they have to rally enough of their pins so t hey are not susceptible to counter-assault.  Believe it or not, they more or less pull it off, assisted in no small pert by (again) ridiculous American firepower, and the judicious tossing of a satchel charge to help make their assault a lot easier.With Waterman and Pierce in real trouble up north, I have to break things loose in the south and hopefully put pressure on that MG and mortar pit from the south. Collins gets the order, and he leads his platoon in. The Marines have to lucky a few times here ... they have to NOT hit a booby trap running through the jungle (11 and 12 on 2d6), they have to dodge most of the NVA opportunity fire, then they have to win the assault, then they have to rally enough of their pins so t hey are not susceptible to counter-assault. Believe it or not, they more or less pull it off, assisted in no small pert by (again) ridiculous American firepower, and the judicious tossing of a satchel charge to help make their assault a lot easier.
They'd better do something fast, because although Pierce and Waterman (pinned down in those rice paddies) are chipping away at the MG and mortar teams facing them, they're being scissored apart in turn.  Damn, I REALLY wish I had saved at least one or two of those off-board artillery missions for that mortar pit.  The Marines didn't have eyes on the target at the time, I should have waited.  That mortar team has a +2 officer making their fire all the more accurate, and is rolling like a friggin' BOSS on top of that.They'd better do something fast, because although Pierce and Waterman (pinned down in those rice paddies) are chipping away at the MG and mortar teams facing them, they're being scissored apart in turn. Damn, I REALLY wish I had saved at least one or two of those off-board artillery missions for that mortar pit. The Marines didn't have eyes on the target at the time, I should have waited. That mortar team has a +2 officer making their fire all the more accurate, and is rolling like a friggin' BOSS on top of that.

USMC vs. NVA, Hill Battles near DMZ, 1967 (replay)

Tutoring 5
Skill 5
Idea 5
2 Comments

So I’m trying this again, just to see if I get the balance right.  I’m adding the US off-board artillery back in, but making the NVA booby traps a bit nastier, IF the Marines do  not use Assault Movement (reduced speed, more safety, a Valor & Victory rule I didn’t use in the live game with Rasmus).  Also firmed up the victory conditions and other rules for the scenario (most of which are more or less standard for Valor & Victory Vietnam).

Casualties:  Every American Half Squad or officer or medic eliminated = a Casualty marker.  After Action Phase: Medic can automatically evac one casualty marker assuming he is stacked with the casualty after Advance and Assault.   Others can evac if they roll “Rally” (6 or 7).

Evacuated casualties = 3 VP for NVA player.

“Captured” casualties = 6 VP for NVA player.

NVA casualties = 1 for the US player.

NVA POWs (if evacuated) = 2 for the US player.

Civilians:  Move during both sides movement phase.   1-3, no movement.  4-6, they move 2 hexes.  1d6 for direction.   1 = north, clockwise from there. Americans lose 6 VP for any civilian counter they kill. They are worth 2 casualty points if struck by intentional / unintentional fire.

POWs:  Every NVA stack eliminated via close assault creates one POW.  They have to be evacuated by an American infantry unit physically off the table via a friendly edge.  One infantry type can carry off many POW counters.  Must get to friendly edge of map, infantry unit can then rejoin the rest of the game.  They are worth 2 casualty points if NVA wants to shoot at them.

Booby Traps:  Every time a US stack moves in Movement Phase (not 1 hex  in Advance and Assault Phase), roll 2d6 for the etack.  11-12, a booby trap is hit, immediately eliminates one half squad / medic / officer, replace with casualty marker.  US can reduce chance of only a 12 on 2d6 by using Assault Move (+1 Cover) rules.

Objectives:  Each objective is worth 3 VP for the owning player at the end of SIX TURNS.

So below we have the NVA set up.  I have broken more squads into fireteams (half squads), have the +2 commander with the mortar team, and was a little more aggressive in “tripping” the Marine entry onto the eastern, northeaster, or southeastern edges of the table with forward deployment of NVA spotter / GPMG teams

USMC vs. NVA, Hill Battles near DMZ, 1967 (replay)

USMC vs. NVA, Hill Battles of Vietnam, 1967 (p3)

Tutoring 4
Skill 5
Idea 5
6 Comments

The battle of @rasmus ‘ NVA (320th PAVN Division) against my Marines of “Lima” Company, 3/4th Marines (Camp Carroll, 3rd MarDiv, I Corps) continues …

*System: Valor & Victory (home-written “Vietnam Edition”).

*Setting: December 1967, near the  DMZ between North and South Vietnam, along tributary of the Quang Tri River, toward the Laotian border.

Already things are going pretty badly for my Marines, trying to approach and clear this NVA-held village.  Their over-extended left wing has already been hit twice by devastating and bloody close assaults by die-hard NVA assault groups, their commanders all-too eager to exchange squad-for-squad with far more “expensive” USMC infantry.  The right wing of my advance has been more or less halted by pinpoint MVA mortar and DShK heavy MG fire from the village, streaking out across those open rice paddies.  My battalion 81mm mortars have more or less splashed all over the place and honestly didn’t kill anyone.

Now, to add insult to injury, as I try to pull my right-wing assault down to reinforce my left wing assault, as the last squads fall back to redeploy (screened from more of that DShK fire), they instead hit a booby trap, instantly knocking out a fireteam and causing another casualty counter that must be evacuated from the battlefield.

USMC vs. NVA, Hill Battles of Vietnam, 1967 (p3)

The big picture at the beginning of Turn 4, with Captain Waterman pulling in the platoons of 2ndLts Pierce and Bergman into a renewed push on the village from the southeast.  If there’s any silver lining to the Marines’ clouds, it’s that these desperately bloody NVA charges have seriously depleted Communist manpower and killed off all their officers, leaving the remaining fireteams huddled in the center of the village (fortified mortar pit dug in with sandbags).

USMC vs. NVA, Hill Battles of Vietnam, 1967 (p3)

So Rasmus has two choices here.  Pretty much the only way I can even come close to winning this game is if I take all the objective hexes, and perhaps some prisoners as well.  He can either make a last stand, and hope to cut another bloody swath out of my Marines as we mount the game-ending assault.  Or, he can accept the fact that I’ll take all the objective hexes, and instead use the time-honored Vietnamese tactic of melting back into the jungle and off the table, denying me the victory points of NVA casualties and POWs.

For better or worse, he chooses the former.  The NVA will mount an uncharacteristic stand.  Perhaps it’s the fact that there are no officers left, and their last orders were to fight the American imperialists.

In any event, Captain Waterman has pulled his company together for the final assault.

USMC vs. NVA, Hill Battles of Vietnam, 1967 (p3)

Captain Waterman personally leads the assault into the final NVA position on Turn 5.  Now here, the Marines finally catch a real break.

Rasmus adds up everything in his hex into a final opportunity fire, hoping to gun down Marines as they rush his position.  Here’s what happens, though.  He rolls boxcars (all the firepower checks in this game are 2d6, low rolls better, so boxcars are the worst possible roll.  Not only does all the NVA fire miss (perhaps panicked as they realize their end has indeed come), but per Valor & Victory rules, whenever you roll boxcars on a firepower check … an enemy sniper appears.

So a Marine sniper, with his M40 rifle emerges from the jungle behind the NVA and immediately makes a sniper attack on the stack that rolled the boxcars.  I roll a d6, score a 4, subtract the +2 defense bonus afforded by those sandbags, and thus knock out an NVA fireteam (2 casualty points per half squad).

Alternatively, Rasmus could have chose to pin down two fireteams rather than killing one, but that would just lead to two fireteams immediately dying as soon as my assaulting Marines jumped into the sandbags and put a pistol, entrenching tool, or K-Bar into someone’s face.

The assault goes in and with a positively sick number of firepower points, wipes out the NVA position, “tabling” Rasmus’ force.  But honestly, he’s the NVA, he’s supposed to be tabled or run away.  It’s all about playing for time, and inflicting American casualties, of which there has already been far, far too many.  And this assault has cost me still more, with three NVA fireteams and +2 sand bags = 5 required casualty points.  I kill off half a squad for 3 casualty points and pin down two more fireteams, ending the battle.

USMC vs. NVA, Hill Battles of Vietnam, 1967 (p3)

On Turn 6, I have enough time to spread out and take all the objective hexes (bridge hexes H4 and D3, village hexes F6 and H8, and high ground hex C10).  Last-minute casualties are successfully evacuated during the after-action phase of Turn 5, and no civilians were hit.  Honestly, I would also have taken an NVA POW counter here (successful US assault on a Vietnamese position), but I would not  have had time to get him evacuated, so wouldn’t get the victory points for this anyway.

USMC vs. NVA, Hill Battles of Vietnam, 1967 (p3)

So here’s the score.  As often happens in asymmetrical warfare, the “stronger” side wins the battle but loses the game.  There’s just no way in virtually any realistic Vietnam War game that the NLF or PAVN will ever stand up and defeat American units in a face-to-face fight.  They will never hold the field.  They will either be wiped out or make a frustrating withdraw off the field, melting into the jungle in true guerilla war style.  They’re real objective is either stalling for time or causing unacceptable Free World casualties.

In this, Rasmus has succeeded admirably, as shown in the scoreboard below.

Now, the only thing I would add to this is the one POW counter we forgot to add back on Turns 3 and 4 (Lt. Phan Khoi in hex G10).  I would have had time to evacuate that POW to the rear, thus giving me 3 more victory points.  But even so, the score would have been 48 to 54, still a clear NVA victory.

So while the operation was an American success (the village was taken completely), it’s more or less crippled Lima Company’s ability to conduct further sweeps through the Hill Country northwest of Camp Carroll through the rest of December, 1967.  Accordingly, 3rd Bn / 4th Marines will have a tougher time countering further NVA infiltration across the DMZ and overall buildup or the 320th PAVN Division in preparation for the Tet Offensive at the end of January, 1968.

Congrats to Rasmus on the win!

USMC vs. NVA, Hill Battles of Vietnam, 1967 (p3)

USMC vs. NVA, Hill Battles of Vietnam, 1967 (p2)

Tutoring 7
Skill 7
Idea 8
2 Comments

The battle of @rasmus ‘ NVA (320th PAVN Division) against my Marines of Lima Co, 3/4th MArines (Camp Carroll, 3rd MarDiv, I Corps) continues …

*System: Valor & Victory (home-written “Vietnam Edition”).

*Setting: December 1967, near the  DMZ between North and South Vietnam, along tributary of the Quang Tri River, toward the Laotian border.

Here we see the aftermath of that opening firestorm in the south.  Note that Marine losses are not simply removed, but replaced with Casualty counters.  These casualties must be evacuated by Navy Corpsmen (medics), of by their comrades if they make the required roll (all men have first aid kits, field dressings, morphine syringes, etc.).

This may have looked like a suicide charge by the NVA, or simple matter/antimatter annihilation of forces.  It isn’t.  Remember these are squads and fireteams, an eliminated unit means it is “combat ineffective,” each 4-man fireteams is probably 1 killed, 1 seriously wounded, 2 lightly wounded or panicked, etc.  But whether or not to divide or combine squads, who fires, who moves, who uses grenades or satchel charges, how to apply casualty points, when to pin, when to bite the bullet and take the losses, where to apply your officer bonuses, there are many tough tactical decisions being made in this furious and incredibly violent opening to our Vietnam Valor & Victory game.

In all, may have overextended my left wing a little with Collins’ platoon, an opportunity Rasmus seized upon and hit very, very hard. He’s actually winning right now, badly, in victory points.

USMC vs. NVA, Hill Battles of Vietnam, 1967 (p2)

Turn 2.  Now that I’m on the table with spotters and radios, I call back to battalion for my mortar strikes.  They’re very disappointing.  One drifts completely off the target and actually almost lands on civilians and my own wounded.  The other two land on the DShK position (I can’t see his mortar pit) but do very poor damage due to some bad die rolls. Actually no one is hurt, Rasmus is able to cover the inflicted casualty points with some pins.  So the gun is silenced for now, but will be back up in a minute.

USMC vs. NVA, Hill Battles of Vietnam, 1967 (p2)

In the south, Captain Waterman tries to get control of the chaos.

Civilians are running into his company area.  Civilians, by the way, move almost like zombies in The Walking Dead.  Neither side controls them.  At the start of every movement phase, they roll to see if they move.  If they do, they move 2 hexes in a random d6 direction.  So these civilians are rushing towards us for some reason (perhaps some of them have collaborated with the US MACV or Saigon government, and fear reprisal at the hands of the NVA).

Gunfire from two fireteams (supplemented by some 40mm frags from the M79 “Blooper”) kills off that RPG team lurking in those hooches to the north.  This clears the southern slope of that hill for movement, including more an assault on Lt. Trai’s position.  He’s eliminated, but whenever an NVA position is successfully assaulted by US unit (and not immediately counter-assaulted), an NVA POW counter is created.  I also bag a prisoner to the west, as Waterman’s Marines mop up NVA survivors of the bloodbath assault on Collins’ platoon.  Meanwhile, Navy Corpsmen are rushing in to start securing and evacuating casualties from Collins’ platoon.

In all, it’s a classic Vietnam scene here.  Casualty triage and dustoff, Vietnamese civilians in the way, NVA prisoners being secured, checked for intelligence, and evacuated to the rear.

The problem is, this all takes time.  My whole Turn 2 is going to be pretty much just sorting out this mess, when I would rather be rushing forward and taking all those objective hexes suddenly left open.  Rasmus is using this time to shuffle his remaining NVA officers, squads, and support weapons, ensuring that this battle is actually far from over.

USMC vs. NVA, Hill Battles of Vietnam, 1967 (p2)

Turn 3, and I finally have the southern slope of this village hill secured and cleaned up.  Two POW groups evacuated.  Most casualties secured for dustoff.  I’ve given up on that approach from the east(that DShK is too threatening and these is very little cover across those open rice paddies), Lts. Pierce and Bergman are moving their platoons down the river to join with Waterman’s platoon for an new combined push over that hill to enter the village from the south.

Meanwhile, Capt. Waterman himself has taken some men to the high ground and secured the first objective hex.

USMC vs. NVA, Hill Battles of Vietnam, 1967 (p2)

Disaster strikes!  Again, I left that left wing a little too exposed, and Rasmus seizes the chance.  Lt. Phan Khoi, the lieutenant who has more or less halted my eastern attack with the DShK and 60mm mortar, now blitzes south down the road, assaulting some of my exposed Marines where corpsmen are still trying to clear up casualties.  I do next to nothing in opportunity fire, and none of the other Marine units can actually see what’s happening.

This is bad.  As the NVA attack comes in, it naturally succeeds, although one NVA squad is destroyed in the process.  But the Navy Corpsman and the Marine fireteam in the hex are now casualties, and because this assault succeeded,  the NVA occupies the hex. This means these two casualties just inflicted (plus the one already in the hex the corpsman was treating) are in NVA hands.  This will count as 6 victory points each for the NVA, not three.

USMC vs. NVA, Hill Battles of Vietnam, 1967 (p2)

2ndLt. Pierce gets the order and he rushes down the rest of that river bank, thank hooks up with his platoon for an immediate counterassault into Phan Khoi’s hex.  This assault succeeds, although almost any assault (especially one in woods or buildings) will cost casualty points I can already not afford.

Now one thing I honestly forgot here is that this assault was supposed to produce another POW counter I could evacuate, perhaps getting 3 victory points back.  But to be frank, I think I’ve lost so many points already that this game might be a hopeless cause anyway.

See if I can save this in Part 3!

USMC vs. NVA, Hill Battles of Vietnam, 1967 (p2)

USMC vs. NVA, Hill Battles of Vietnam, 1967

Tutoring 6
Skill 6
Idea 8
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Good morning, OnTableTop / Beasts of War!

Okay, as you may know, we’ve been running war games every weekend with members of the community via web conference.  Players log on and play wargames with each other in real time, regardless of location, and we usually have at least a couple spectators as well.  Many times it’s been Darkstar, but we’re also running wargames in Panzer Leader, Arab-Israeli Wars, and now Valor & Victory, the squad-based command-tactical wargame designed and published by Barry S. Doyle.

Originally written for World War II as sort of a “spiritual love letter” to the 1980s classic Advanced Squad Leader, Valor & Victory takes everything that was great about that game (but got perhaps a little too complex and cumbersome in later  variants) and boils it down to a fast, pick-up-and-play system that the community (especially on BoardgameGeek) has embrace to update, add to, create new scenarios, units, and maps, and generally have a great time with.

Well, as you may remember from the Tet Offensive 50th Anniversary series we ran last January and February, I was able to rebuild Valor & Victory to play Vietnam era games, complete with US Army, US Marine, US Military Police, ANZAC, ARVN (Army of Republic of Vietnam), NLF (National Liberation Front, or Viet Cong), and PAVN (People’s Army of Vietnam, or NVA) forces.

So Saturday, Rasmus and I ran a Valor & Victory game in Vietnam.  He took the NVA, trying to hold a “hill country” village with a detachment of the 320th NVA Division,  I took Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines (3rd Marine Division) in an attempt to clear the village.  This battle took place near Marine Corps firebases of “the Rockpile,” Camp Carroll, and Cam Lo, dear the supposedly “Demilitarized Zone” that formed the border between North and South Vietnam.  The date is sometime in late 1967, during the period called the “hill fights,” where NVA divisions increasingly leveraged into position from North Vietnam and Laos via the Ho Chi Minh Trail, setting up for the imminent “Tet Offensive” that would strike on January 30-31, 1968 (leading to famous battles like Lang Vei, Khe Sanh, and of course Hue City).

USMC vs. NVA, Hill Battles of Vietnam, 1967

So here is the imminent battlefield.  Rasmus will set up his NVA force (89 officers and men) wherever he wants.  I will come on anywhere on the eastern edge, or the eastern half of the northern and southern edges.  The mission is simple.  Control of the five objective hexes marked with yellow targeting symbols.  These are buildings, bridges, and high ground that Marine Regimental HQ has deemed are important for continuing operations to deny positions the NVA will want for artillery batteries, rocket positions, and artillery spotters in the ongoing “Hill Country” battle around these Marine Corps fire bases.

Very quickly, here are the victory conditions:  As usual for Valor & Victory, the game lasts 6 turns.  The Marines get 1 point for each NVA fireteam or officer eliminated, 3 points if I can take them prisoner and successfully get them off the board.  The NVA get 3 points for every fireteam or officer (or Navy Corpsman) eliminated, 6 points if any of these casualties are “unsecured” (left bleeding on the battlefield or even worse, if they fall into NVA hands).  The Marines also lose 6 victory points if they hit any civilians.  At the end of the game, the each s ide also gets 3 points for every objective counter they still hold.  The Marines also have to watch out for booby traps, and of course the “burden of victory” is on them as the NVA start out holding all five objective hexes.

Now this sounds terribly unfair to the Marines.  But in fact the Marines are much more powerful, better armed, better equipped, and have off-board artillery support.  In all my force contains 84 officers and men, and includes satchel charges, 24 M60 GPMGs, 4 M79 40mm grenade launchers, off-board 81mm mortars.  The NVA are well equipped as well, with a captured American 60mm mortar, a DShK .50 cal heavy machine gun, plenty of PKM GPMGs, and three B-40 / RPGs.

USMC vs. NVA, Hill Battles of Vietnam, 1967

The game begins as the Marines enter the board.  I have two platoons coming on from the south (Captain Waterman, 2ndLt Collins) and two more platoons from the east (Lts. Pierce and Bergman).

Things kick off in a very big way … right off the bat.

This is going to take a while to unpack, as a lot happens.  Suffice it to say that the NVA put up some very serious fire in the north and in the south, Lt. Collins’ platoon is immediately in the thick of a very serious battle for their lives.  As they launch an assault on an NVA scout fireteam, they will then counter-assaulted from three directions.  This will the main action of Turn 1, so we’ll break it down in a little more detail.

USMC vs. NVA, Hill Battles of Vietnam, 1967

First comes Collins’ assault on that NVA spotter platoon.  Probably not the best move I’ve ever made, as I should have tried to pin him down first.  But since you can’t move and fire in the same turn in this game, pinning down enemy units for an assault requires either a fire and maneuver element (one platoon pins, another platoon carries in the assault), or wait until next turn.

Splitting up my squads into individual fireteams (dilutes my striking power due to stacking limitations but makes my units more resilient to casualties, basically my men are spreading out in their assault), I still have to leave one fireteam pinned to NVA opportunity fire, and then lose another fireteam in the assault itself.  The position is taken, but it probably cost me too much, especially since Rasmus (on his turn 1) will be counter-assaulting from three directions.

USMC vs. NVA, Hill Battles of Vietnam, 1967

Further north, Lt. Pan Khoi with the mortar positively nails his check, with a “snake eyes” roll that pins down almost Pierce’s whole platoon (the Americans have to keep casualty points down in these Vietnam games, so I’m electing to pin down many more of my units rather than let far fewer of them actually be eliminated.  The DShK also opens up, although that does far less damage.  The scout fireteam of NVA rifleman (AKM assault rifles / SKS battle rifles and one PKM GPMG) also add to my problems on the Marine northern wing.

USMC vs. NVA, Hill Battles of Vietnam, 1967

Ever see the final scene of Platoon?  Well, Rasmus has decided that will be the start of this little movie instead of the end.

So first we have Lt. Huang Giap attack from the southwest, rushing in with his two squads plus the scout fireteam he picked up from the jungle trail along the way.  I pin one fireteam down with opportunity fire, but the rest of the attack goes in.  He invests two grenades from his pool, as do I.  The assault is broken, and the NVA force is wiped out (except that one pinned fireteam because they didn’t actually participate in the assault).

But I’m down three casualty points as a result, forcing me to kill off one of my fireteams (half of one of this 12-5-6 squads).

This only softens up Lt. Collins’ position for the bigger assault coming down from the south, led by the NVA commander, Captain Jiang Xuan.  I cannot throw in in more opportunity fire, I already fired at Giap’s platoon to the southwest.  Again Rasmus tosses in two grenades, I have to toss in a grenade and (in a desperate attempt to save myself), a satchel charge.  This assault is also broken, wiping out the NVA force (Marine firepower is nothing to scoff at), but the casualty points are so high that Collins’ position basically wiped out as well.

Finally we have Lt. Nguyen Trai’s assault to the east.  Now this starts out bloody for me off the bat, as I have a pinned fireteam in the target hex.  Once that  hex is assaulted, that pinned unit is killed automatically.  The rest of the Marines in the hex fight desperately (Lt. Trai is pinned down before his assault even goes in), throwing in yet more grenades and the last of my satchel charges, countered by yet more grenades from the NVA.  This assault actually succeeds, but without Trai leading it, losses are so high that it’s basically annihilated as well.  Trai is ironically the only “combat effective” man left in that platoon.

USMC vs. NVA, Hill Battles of Vietnam, 1967

5 June 1967 - Opening Hours of Six Day War - Pt 03

Tutoring 3
Skill 4
Idea 6
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The opening ground battle of the Six Day War continues in Avalon Hill’s Arab Israeli Wars, fought between my Egyptian and Palestinian Liberation Army forces (elements, 7th Egyptian Infantry Division and PLA 20th Infantry Division) and Damon’s Israeli forces (leading elements, 7th Armored Brigade, Tal’s 84th Division).

Again, the Israeli objective is to strike out of the southeast, seizing road junctions (yellow objective hexes – at least 4 out of 7) and thus cut off Egyptian and Palestinian forces in the Gaza Strip (extending o the northeast) away from the interior or the Egyptian Sinai (extending west and southwest).  The Israeli “big picture” objective here is to rapidly open an invasion route down the north coast of the Sinai, allowing them to strike quickly westward through the Jeradi Pass, El Arish, and toward Port Said and the Suez Canal.

So far, however, the Israeli offensive is a little unfocused, allowing me to make stands in key points (southern Khan Yunis and Rafah).  This is one of Damon’s first games of Arab Israeli Wars, and honestly I don’t think he understands just how powerful his units (especially Centurions of the 82nd Tank Battalion and M48A3 “Magach 5s” of the 77th Tank Battalion) really are yet.

Here we see things finally come to a head on the west flank, where 82nd Tank Battalion has taken the high ground, using overwatch fire positions to hopefully engage my heavy JS-3s of 1st Heavy Tank Brigade and SU-100 tank destroyers of 47th AT Regiment.  He has the high ground and hull down shielding.  However, I am concealed in those urban hexes, he can’t fire at me until I am spotted.  I can be spotted two ways.  He can move a unit adjacent to them (basically sacrificing his spotter), or I can open fire.

The trade-off is that I get the first crack, and rarely do the Egyptian get the first round off in a tank duel against Israelis.  I probably shouldn’t but I can’t resist.  Twenty JS-3s (122mm guns, so large the ammo has to be leaded into two components) and fifteen SU-100s speak in one voice, firing at ranges between 500 meters and 1250 meters.

But here is where some of the Israeli advantages come into play, not in simple “overpowered” units, but tactical positioning.  Not only am I shooting uphill, but also against Israeli tanks in hull down “reverse slope” positions.  Then the range has been chosen where some of my tanks will have to fire at range penalties (northernmost JS-3s – bear in mind some of my tanks are shooting at what would be 74 feet on a 28mm table) but all of Damon’s Israeli tanks will get a full crack at me in return.

To get this position, Damon just had to accept that I would hit him first.  Classic risk/reward.  Fortunately for him, I don’t roll very well, and only manage to disperse a few of his tank platoons.

5 June 1967 - Opening Hours of Six Day War - Pt 03

Meanwhile, my artillery does a better job and splashing some of his paratroopers that were pinned down earlier when my AT guns hit their halftracks.  Meanwhile, these AT batteries are coming under counterbattery fire from 202nd Brigade’s M3 mortar halftracks.  Also, some of the tanks on that western ridge can just see over some of the intervening trees and town hexes … and spot my D-30 122mm howitzer batteries firing from five+ kilometers away.  So even as my artillery is tearing up his paratroopers, my artillery is in turn in big trouble from off-board M50/155mm howitzer batteries of Israeli 215th Artillery Regiment.

5 June 1967 - Opening Hours of Six Day War - Pt 03

Israeli counterfire off that ridge starts killing and dispersing JS-3 platoons – but not fast enough.  We’re now into Turn 4, where the Egyptian 14th Tank Brigade shows up, forty more tanks, this time T-55s.  Meanwhile, Israeli 81mm mortar batteries start dropping smoke in front of my position,  blinding some of my tanks while leaving line of sight open for him to engage new tanks showing up.  Damon’s trying to divide and conquer, and I’m playing for time.  I’m on defense, after all.

5 June 1967 - Opening Hours of Six Day War - Pt 03

Here’s a wider view of the western and central sectors of the battlefield, where you can see where some of the tank and support platoons of 82nd Tank Battalion can see far back into the Egyptian backfield and spot those 122mm D-30 batteries firing.  They’re  doing pretty serious damage to Israeli paratroopers, and are not mobile.  I was able to “blind” some of Damo’s fire missions earlier in the game by dispersing or killing spotter units, but this time that’s not going to happen.  Those artillery batteries better get their shots in now, because Israeli 155s are gonna be howling in from off board any second …

5 June 1967 - Opening Hours of Six Day War - Pt 03

To the east, things are heating up as well.  Realizing that sooner or later he’ll just have to smack the Palestinian 108th Brigade somewhere, Damon forms up 77th and the right wing of 2/202nd Brigade and makes a push at southern Khan Yunis.  Some of those T-34/85 “pillboxes” are burning, but too many more remain hidden.  Damon decides to bait them out with some halftracks, I take the bait (knowing full well what is coming) because of those bait pieces is the halftrack platoon carrying the headquarters of 2/202nd brigade.  Those two T034/85 platoon pillboxes are beyond toast (those M48A3s will blow them into the middle of next week now that they’ve fired and revealed their position), but ten immobile T-34s is more than fair price to pay for an Israeli battalion headquarters.

 

This would have played much harder into the future turns.  With their battalion HQ knocked out, Morale drops from an A to a B.  This is critical in the series of infantry firefights and close assaults the Israelis are going to need to clear out those town hexes of Khan Yunis.  The odds against him doing this are now greatly diminished (at least on time),  I’ll be able to slow down the elite Israeli infantry assault into Khan Yunis and turn it into a wild, confused street brawl, just like the PLA likes it.

5 June 1967 - Opening Hours of Six Day War - Pt 03

This is where we called the game, at least for now.  Clearly the Egyptians are winning this game. There seems little way the Israelis can crack these town hexes and take at least four of those seven objectives by the end of the game.

This was my fault as a “gamemaster” and scenario designer on two levels.  One, Damon is still getting used to Arab Israeli Wars and I really threw a lot of scale and additional rules complexity into this scenario.  Two, I only finished designing the scenario a few hours before the appointed game time and Damon had no opportunity to review the battlefield, formulate an attack plan, and execute it.  Arab Israeli Wars is not a game you approach lightly (well, at least not scenarios like this).  You have to look at your forces, enemy forces, look at the terrain, and formulate a single, cohesive “big picture – broad strokes” battleplan and then execute that plan in minute tactical detail.  Damon never had the chance to do this, he was handed a map and with a resounding “Good luck … GO!”

So we can continue this game IF HE WANTS, or I can finish it up and see just how far the Israelis can get in salvage and damage control.  Or we can just call it, I can build a smaller, less ambitious scenario that we can use as a “staircase” game building into larger, more complex games like this.

But for now that’s if for this one.  😀  We’ll see what the future weekends bring as I continue to run web wargames on line for the OTT / BoW Community!

5 June 1967 - Opening Hours of Six Day War - Pt 02

Tutoring 5
Skill 4
Idea 5
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The game begins as the Israelis come on the table. They have four basic battalions in their force, two of tanks (82nd Battalion is outfitted with Centurions with 105mm L7s and 77th Battalion with M48A3 Pattons with 90mm guns), one battalion of armored infantry (2nd Battalion, 202nd Paratrooper Brigade, mounted in M3 Halftracks), and one of artillery (elements of 213th Artillery Regiment).  All of this is basically welded into 7th Armored Brigade, leading attack element of General Israel Tal’s 84th “ugda” Division, one of three divisions striking into the Sinai today.

Israeli morale for this game is A.  Egyptian Morale is usually B, but for this game we’re reducing this to a C.  This is because they have already lost contact with their headquarters, divisional and regional command, and they know their Air Force has basically been annihilated by the Israeli air strikes that started the war a few hours ago.

By the way, no Israeli air strikes will be coming in to support this attack.  Israeli aircraft that just blew up the Egyptian air force and command / communication / control systems throughout the Sinai, Suez, and Nile regions, are now being turned around for preparation for phased strikes into Syria and Jordan.

5 June 1967 - Opening Hours of Six Day War - Pt 02

There’s a helluva death match forming up to the west along the approaches to Rafah, where 30 105mm Centurions are about to square off with 20 JS-3s and 15 SU-100s.  If the Israelis make that ridge, they’ll have the benefit of high ground and hull-down shielding, but the Egyptians will have concealment and defense bonuses for firing out of those town hexes.

5 June 1967 - Opening Hours of Six Day War - Pt 02

Close-up of 77th Armored Battalion.  One of the company commanders here (stack of three M48A3 Pattons) was Captain Avidgor Khahalani.  Later in the 1973 war he’d have the whole 77th Battalion, by then switched over to the Centurion with 105mm.  He would famously fight one of the most epic tank battles in history, the Valley of Tears at the Golan Heights, and write the book “Heights of Courage.”  He’d later command a division as a general in the 1982 “Peace for Galilee” invasion of Lebanon.

5 June 1967 - Opening Hours of Six Day War - Pt 02

CONTACT!  First shots fired on Turn 3.  The explosion marker in the middle of nowhere shows where one of my artillery barrages guessed one of Damon’s units would be this turn (you have to plot and call in your artillery missions one turn in advance).  One of his TCM-20 AA halftrack platoons is being used to spot my tanks in southern Rafah, which just fired on that jeep recon platoon and failed to knock it out.    My 85mm ATGs give up their concealment to fire on halftracks loaded with Israeli paratroopers.  I don’t kill them straight off but managed to disperse them, pinning them down for artillery next turn.

5 June 1967 - Opening Hours of Six Day War - Pt 02

To the east, Damon may have overextended his poor jeeps a little, racing them far behind PLA lines.  Makes sense for artillery spotting, but they’re caught out in the open (spotter positions really need cover and concealment).  My T-34/85 “pillboxes” manage to tip over a hew M3 halftracks and spill some paratroopers, but again, now they are spotted as well for Israeli artillery.

5 June 1967 - Opening Hours of Six Day War - Pt 02

5 June 1967 - Opening Hours of Six Day War - Pt 01

Tutoring 4
Skill 4
Idea 4
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Good afternoon, OTT/Beasts of War:

Okay, with the Darkstar rulebook v1 finally complete, I can start turning my attention back to some other wargaming projects, threads, and campaigns.  First among these is the ongoing games of Arab-Israeli Wars between myself and @damon .  We had the beginnings of a rather large game some time ago, I wanted to post just a little of a battle report to show that with 2019 now underway, I fully intend and hope to get back to on-line wargaming with members in the community on a fairly regular basis.

So this is a scenario from the first hours of the ground operations, 5 June 1967, opening day of the Six Day War.  I have the Egyptians and Palestinians on defense, Damon has the Israelis on attack.  I have the “meat” middle of the Egyptian 7th Infantry Division (9th Brigade), holding the “neck” of the Gaza Strip, where it attaches to the main body of the Egyptian Sinai near the towns of Khan Yunis in the east and Rafah in the west.

5 June 1967 - Opening Hours of Six Day War - Pt 01
5 June 1967 - Opening Hours of Six Day War - Pt 01

On my left, centered in the Palestinian city of Khan Yunis, I have the 108th Brigade of the 20th PLA Division (Palestinian Liberation Army).  Note the dug-in T-34/85s (+1 defense, movement of zero), along with “Militia” infantry platoons, recoiless rifle batteries, antitank guns, blocks, minefields, etc.

On my right, sitting in Rafah on the roads that actually lead into the Egyptian Sinai proper, I have 47th AT Regiment (SU-100s tank destroyers), and 1st Heavy Tank Brigade (JS-3 battle tanks), with the main  body of 9th Brigade/7th Infantry holding the two wings together.  I have Soviet 120mm mortars, 82mm mortars at battalion level, and 122mm howitzers hiding up by the coast.

It’s a pretty serious force.  In all I have 68 counters on the map initially (a further brigade of T-55s arrives as reinforcements on Turn 4 historically this is the 14th Armored Brigade).  So we’re looking at around 3000 men and 150 tanks and AFVs.

Each counter is a platoon of 5 vehicles, battery of 6 guns, or platoon of 45 infantry or so.  In all the map is 8 kilometers across and about five kilometers deep.

The Israelis will be coming in from the southeast.  Their objectives will  be to take at least four of the seven objectives hexes (highlighted yellow).  The idea here is to take the majority of the road junctions, and thus cut off the Palestinian forces in the Gaza Strip (extending northeast) from the bulk of Egyptian forces in the Sinai (west and southwest) – and open the major routes leading to the west (through Rafah, off the table, and eventually leading to the Jeradi Pass, El Arish, Port Said, and the Suez Canal).

5 June 1967 - Opening Hours of Six Day War - Pt 01

The Egyptian right wing, centered on Rafah.  You can see the Josef Stalin 3s of 1st Heavy Tank Brigade and SU-100 tank destroyers of 47th AT Regiment.  There’s also some infantry platoons (each piece is a platoon of 45 men or so), a couple batteries of 85mm antitank guns, mortars, both battalion 82mm mortars and brigade 120mm mortars.

5 June 1967 - Opening Hours of Six Day War - Pt 01

The Egyptian center, built around the main body of 9th Brigade / 7th Infantry Division.  At top you can see two of my D-30 howitzer batteries (122 mm). I’m hoping to use some of these to pin down the Israeli paratroopers as they enter the board in their halftracks.

5 June 1967 - Opening Hours of Six Day War - Pt 01

Me left wing, centered on 108th Brigade / 20th PLA Division in Khan Yunis (eastern third of the board).  Note the T-34/85 tanks dug into the earth.  The Militia platoons here have lower values than my Egyptian regulars further to the west.  They also have 107mm recoilless rifles instead of dedicated antitank guns, no heavy artillery, and definitely not mobile tanks or reinforcements (unlike elements of Egyptian 7th Division to the west).  This is definitely the “soggy” part of the Egyptian-Palestinian defense, I can really only hope to bog down Israeli tanks and paratroopers in all these urban hexes.

5 June 1967 - Opening Hours of Six Day War - Pt 01

Getting ready for next Arab-Israeli Wars game

Tutoring 3
Skill 5
Idea 3
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So our wargaming by webinar experiments continue to find success and expand into new games and genres.  Earlier today we took it into Darkstar and ran not only a full-scale, full-detail Darkstar game remotely, but a taught a new player, and with a carrier battle group no less (definitely a step up in intricate detail and rules complexity).

Meanwhile, we’re also getting ready for a Sunday, 2 December wargame of Arab-Israeli Wars.  This time we’re moving it forward in time a little, from the 1956 Sinai War to the 1967 Six-Day War.  We’ll be looking at some of General Tal’s assault into the Gaza Strip on the opening day of that war, where @damon will be taking 82nd Armored Battalion (Centurions) and 77th Armored Battalion (M48A3s) pushed into the gap between Khan Yunis and Rafah, along the norther coast of the Sinai Peninsula / Gaza Strip, trying to open the Jeradi Pass leading toward El Arish and eventually Port Suez along the Canal.

My defending units will include the elements of the 20th PLA (Palestinian Liberation Army) Division and detachments of Egyptian 7th Infantry Division, to include units of 1st Heavy Armored Brigade (JS-3s) and 14th Armored Brigade (T-55s).

Getting ready for next Arab-Israeli Wars game
Getting ready for next Arab-Israeli Wars game

1956 Arab-Israeli Wars in the Sinai - Damon vs. Oriskany (Part II)

Tutoring 3
Skill 5
Idea 4
4 Comments

Good afternoon, all.

So we’re back for the conclusion of the small introductory scenario we game last weekend between myself and @damon – getting Avalon Hill’s Arab-Israeli Wars off the ground.

We were playing Situation B-1 (Bir Gifgafa, November 2, 1956), recreating one of the closing actions of the 1956 Sinai War.

In this situation, a battalion of Israeli armor (M1/M4 and M50 Shermans, together with French-built AMX-13 light tanks) of Ben Uri’s 7th Armoured Brigade, was trying to push through the Bir Gifgafa road center in the north-central Sinai Peninsula.  The Israeli invasion of the Sinai had started about four days ago, and the objective was now to push to the Suez Canal and seize the whole Sinai Peninsula.  Israeli motivation for this action had been continued PLA terrorist, rocket, and artillery attacks out of this area into the Negev settlements and inciting unrest in Gaza, all with the Egyptian army and government (President Gamal Abd-el Nasser) conveniently looking the other way.

Meanwhile, Nasser had also nationalized the Suez Canal, triggering a military response in the form of British and French air and naval units, to include British Royal Marines and French Paratroopers in the canal zone itself (Operation Musketeer).  To what degree IDF ground units and these British and French expeditionary insertions were supposed to be coordinating remains a bone of debate.

In any event, Damon’s orders here were clear.  His Israelis, with their harder-hitting and longer-ranged guns, were supposed to smash my Egyptian 1st Armoured Brigade (remnants, rear guard) and get as many of his units off the west end of the board by the end of Turn 8.

In short, this is a classic breakthrough scenario.  Smash the enemy lien of resistance, push past it as fast as you can.  Your battle is only a small part of a larger operational picture in which speed and exploiting enemy disarray is paramount.

For my part, I have no hope of actually stopping the Israeli attack.  I can slow it down, bleed it a little, and perhaps pin down some of the Israeli units so they don’t get off the board in time.

So far I’m not doing too bad.  I have denied battle as long as I could, finally counterattacking Israeli vanguard which became a little too outstretched for all its elements to support each other.  It cost me a company and a half of T-35/85s, but I also claimed a full company of Israeli light armor.  That’s not a bad trade when you have the Egyptians up against Israeli tanks.

Now Damon’s column is starting to compress a little, but it’s taken enough time to allow me to scrape together my battered 1st Brigade and launch another overrun on these two AMX-13 platoons trying to get off the extreme southwest corner of the board.  Damon tried to go for maximum dispersals on his opportunity fire (i.e., forego shooting for kills, and instead try to pin down more enemy units, an an attempt to break up the overrun and survive the attack).

The odds were against it, and the dice came down with the odds.  He dispersed two platoons of T-34s, but those three platoons of SU-100s took care of the remaining AMX-13s.

But now the Israeli Shermans (slow as they are) are finally trundling up to the scene, too far away to overrun me right now (this screen shot shows them at the END of their movement), but I will definitely have problems from here on out.

1956 Arab-Israeli Wars in the Sinai - Damon vs. Oriskany (Part II)

Okay, those Shermans have blown those two platoons of T-34/85s into the middle of next week, and using the Split Move and Fire rule (available to Israelis but not to Egyptians, at least in 1956) they have started to scoot off the table and thus earn more victory points for Colonel Damon.  😀

My SU-100s had one shot at opportunity fire, failing to kill two platoons of M1/M4 Shermans to the south and one platoon of M50s to the north, but pinning them all down.  By the way, I chose to include fire on this trying to get by me to the north because I have 30 more T-34/85s trying to close up from the east.  If by some chance those Shermans don’t rally next turn, these new tanks might get a shot on them.

1956 Arab-Israeli Wars in the Sinai - Damon vs. Oriskany (Part II)

In the end, those two platoons to the south managed to rally and get off the board, the platoon to the north failed but I didn’t get another shot at them.  So it’s not destroyed, but it’s still on the table so counts as 1 Egyptian victory point.

The final score, as shown below …  16 to 16.  A dead tie.

I’m not gonna lie, for the Egyptians at Bir Gifgafa, that’s a damned good result.

To his credit, this was Damon’s first try at the game, we invented new rules for platoon facing and flank fire on the spot, and he was playing a guy who’s bee running the scenario for 20 years.

Although I have never tied with the Egyptians before … I use this scenario as a literal “training tool” to introduce new players to Arab-Israeli Wars, it’s challenging enough to test new players and teach the the basics of the system, but honestly the Israelis are almost fated to win, even after my scenario updates / modifications.

IN SUMMARY: This idea of wargaming via web conference is simply awesome.  I earnestly hope to do this over and over again, @brucelea and @damon have both vowed they want to try more games.

We’re trying this out with Darkstar with a new player on December 1.

Talk has been mentioned of doing this with World War 2.5 or Valor & Victory.

Honestly the sky’s the limit.  As fast as I can draw new maps, we can run more games.

So if this kind of thing interests you, ping me a PM and we can add you to the schedule / running order.

1956 Arab-Israeli Wars in the Sinai - Damon vs. Oriskany (Part II)

Sinai - Damon vs. Oriskany (Part I)

Tutoring 5
Skill 6
Idea 4
2 Comments

Here are some quick photos and an abridged battle report from the recent Arab-Israeli Wars game between myself and Damon.  Again, this was played via web conference so we could have real-time video, chat, shared desktop (so each player could move their own playing pieces) and even a “Twitch style” spectator, all in real time … actually more than Twitch because @brucelea could advise @damon and the people playing the game could actually hear and reply. 😀

Anyway, we’ve already gone over the background and details of the 1956 Sinai War in October and November 1956.  So the gist of this game is the the Israelis are invading westwards across the Sinai, driving toward the Suez Canal.  The Egyptians are trying to delay them, while maintaining some kind of a cohesive force in withdrawal toward the canal (where French paratroopers and British Royal Marines are already on the ground as part of Operation Musketeer, but that’s getting off on a tangent).

So Damon has the leading elements of Ben Uri’s 7th Israeli Armored Brigade, made up of Shermans, M50 “Super” Shermans (although of course they weren’t really called that), while my Egyptians are built around the remnants of 1st Armored Brigade.

I enter the west side of the map first.  My mission is to damage and delay.  I get one point for any Israeli unit that doesn’t make it off the west edge of the board (i.e., doesn’t get past me), and 3 points for Israeli unit destroyed.  My force is T-34/85 tanks and SU-100 tank destroyers.

Damon enters the west edge of the map.  He gets 2 points for any Egyptian units destroyed, and 1 point for any Israeli unit that makes it off the west edge of the map.

The map shows the situation at the end of Turn 1.  The Israelis have 60 tanks, the Egyptians have 75 tanks and tank destroyers.  Each hex is 250 meters across.  The overall map covers just under 50 square kilometers – 8 kilometers across and 6 kilometers tall.

The game lasts eight turns.

As always, for best results select the image, then open in new tab.

Sinai - Damon vs. Oriskany (Part I)

So in this game we decided to experiment with some facing rules for AFV platoons.  The top of the unit’s counter designates the unit’s facing.  When the counter top is facing toward a hex side, the unit is in road / march / column formation, and presents and very narrow front facing and extended, exposed flanks, but gets double movement of roads.  When the unit is placed in the hex so that it’s top faces a hex point, the unit is in some kind of tactical dispersion / combat formation, and the flanks of the platoon are much less exposed but still vulnerable from certain angles (frontal arcs described by the hex grid)

Sinai - Damon vs. Oriskany (Part I)

The Israelis are on the board and making their approach, making a generally southerly push westward across the board.  As the forces close to within five kilometers, I’m sidestepping with my Egyptians south, using my center and right wing to block / delay the Israeli advance while slinging out my left wing to envelop and threaten the Israeli north flank.

Sinai - Damon vs. Oriskany (Part I)

Contact!  And delaying battle as long as I could (Israeli guns are much stronger than mine, and even worse, much longer-ranged).  I finally pounced with the biggest overrun attack I could muster.  Typically in this scenario (Bir Gifgafa, 2 November 1956), the Egyptians get one real crack at the Israelis as they make their run across the table.  It’s not the best (I’ve over extended my left wing a little), and Israeli opportunity fire mauls my hapless T-34/85s as they rush in, but by 15 SU-100 tank destroyers go in against those AMX-13s, and leave three platoons of them as smoldering wrecks as well.

Any time the Egyptians can trade the Israelis in tanks on a 1-1 basis … it’s a good day for the Egyptians.

Meanwhile, I have three other companies of T-34/85s (6 counters = 30 tanks) behind the Israelis at this point, made up primarily of M4/M1 and M50 Shermans.  They’re too far away to really score any hits, can’t draw an LOS over those dunes, and in any event are too far east to coordinate gunfire attacks with my other units.

But these 30 T-34/85s are hopefully pushing the Israelis forward (well, that and the turn limit), driving them westward into the guns of my SU-100s.  Hounds to the hunters, and all that.  Alternatively, Damon can turn around and annihilate my 30 T-34/85s, probably with little effort.  It would sure feel good, and admittedly score some Israeli victory points, but would also cost the Israelis at least a full turn, possibly two.  Again, this could lose the game for the Israelis.  Either way, I’m hoping to scrape out at least a draw here.

Sinai - Damon vs. Oriskany (Part I)

Tunisia - Brucelea vs. Oriskany (Part IV - Conclusion)

Tutoring 4
Skill 5
Idea 6
2 Comments

Okay, here we go with the last part of last Saturday’s game between myself and @brucelea – British vs. Germans in southern Tunisia, March 1943, a battle where the British have seized a key bridge over a deep wadi and try to hold it until reinforcements arrive … while the Germans counterattack with orders to drop that bridge in the wadi, at all costs.

As you may have seen, the Germans have almost succeeded in part of their mission.  Their panzer battalion shoved across the bridge easily enough, while panzer pionier engineers tried to blow the bridge up.  They failed, but the bridge was then assaulted by 400 or so men of my schützen infantry battalion, and finally destroyed.  However, my panzer battalion was tghen systematically cut to ribbons by arriving Crusader IIIs and Shermans of British dragoons, thanks to some bad deployment on my part and well-executed coordination between infantry, engineers, and tanks on the part of @brucelea and his British.

More bad news  for the Germans came when the armoured engineers managed to  get their Valentine bridgelayer tanks up to the northern arm of the wadi and throw a replacement bridge over the wadi.  So now the game is tied for bridges (we each get 20 points for each bridge either blown up or established across the river) – this will come down to sheer casualties.  The Germans get 2 points per British unit eliminated, the British get 3 points per German unit eliminated (German units are always stronger, although you wouldn’t know it the way I’ve been playing them).

So we start in the south, where my three platoons of PzKpfw IIIJ “Specials” is sadly trapped on the wrong side of the river now that friendly infantry has burned down the bridge behind them.  To make matters worse, they’re now being overrun by Shermans of the British Dragoons.  My choice for opportunity was a stark one, do I try to disperse two or three incoming Sherman platoons, or kill one?  Kills are always more gratifying, but by pinning more units, I might break up that overrun and just perhaps survive.

The tactic works, sort of.  Two Sherman platoons are pinned down, reducing his overrun from 5 platoons to 3 (25 tanks reduced to 15).  My Mark IIIJs survive, although they are pinned.  If they can rally next turn … they can use Split Move and Fire rule to just maybe escape for another turn or two …

Tunisia - Brucelea vs. Oriskany (Part IV - Conclusion)

Up north, meanwhile, @brucelea has set up his bridge, the bridge laying tank is across the wadi (now empty), and two platoons of Crusader IIIs are also across.  The German “gun ridge” from which all my mortars, infantry guns, antitank guns, flak halftracks, etc … have been based, are now under threat.

Tunisia - Brucelea vs. Oriskany (Part IV - Conclusion)

Situation at the end of Turn 9.  As my artillery starts to evacuate that northwest ridge, the Crusaders take my trucks under fire.  My 5.0 cm guns get away, but my 7.5 cm infantry guns do not.  Meanwhile, the British have thrown a second company of infantr into the ongoing firefight in the north wadi, including the battalion commander.

Determined to play as a gentleman, I politely point out that that battalion HQ only has a defense of 1, and is meat on the hook ready to be slaughtered.  Furthermore, knocking out the enemy command unit reduces the morale of all his units from a “B” to a “C” – making it much easier for me to kill dispersed units.  This is a “realistic” command platoon, twenty men with radios, binoculars, maps, radios, half of them armed with only pistols, the rest shaky clerks with rifles they haven’t fired since boot camp.  Hardly fitting to send them into a 14-platoon (600+ man) battle royale with heavy machine guns, rifles, SMGs, LMGs, and light 5.0 cm and 2-inch mortars.

Tunisia - Brucelea vs. Oriskany (Part IV - Conclusion)

So the headquarters unit hangs back.  I start killing British rifle platoons as they are fed into the battle (but he is inflicting losses on me as well) while to the south, @brucelea’s Shermans are finally putting my stubborn but helpless PzKpfw IIIJs to the sword.

Tunisia - Brucelea vs. Oriskany (Part IV - Conclusion)

The final situation.  I have succeeded in destroying the initial bridge, as per my mission.  But I paid far too much to do it, leaving me with not enough strength (especially armored strength) to counterattack @brucelea’s second bridge he managed to get into position up north.  If I hadn’t squandered those two platoons of PzKpfw IVs and Tigers, I might have been able to blow up this bridge as well (tank bridges are metal, considered armored targets, and thus pretty vulnerable to long-range tank fire).

In summary, we both succeeded in our missions partially.  But the British have a lot more firepower on the table at the end.  I paid too much for my “partial win” – @brucelea only has a partial win but now controls the field through weight of numbers and Shermans alone.

Tunisia - Brucelea vs. Oriskany (Part IV - Conclusion)

So here’s the boneyard and the final score.  I might have been able to squeeze out a draw if I had let @brucelea move that HQ unit into the northern wadi hex – that would have been one more kill for me, two less kills for him, making the score 47 to 42 … and then the rest of his units would have been easier to disperse and keep disperse, and thus kill.  Definitely would have been a long shot.  I actually lost this game fair and square when I pushed those tanks into that town.

No worries!  I’m just glad it came down to a fair, fun, and enjoyable game.  As a scenario designer you always feel weird winning your own game anyway, especially against a relatively new player.

So 100 thanks to @brucelea for the great game!  I totally look forward to doing this again, and most certainly we will (Darkstar and holidays permitting).

Meanwhile, I’ll start posting the battle that @damon and I had in Arab-Israeli Wars, Egyptians vs. Israelis, Sinai Desert, Bir Gifgafa, 2 November 1956.

More great gaming, enjoyed in real time across the ocean thanks to web conferencing!

Tunisia - Brucelea vs. Oriskany (Part IV - Conclusion)

Tunisia - Brucelea vs. Oriskany (Part III)

Tutoring 6
Skill 4
Idea 7
No Comments

The virtual game board engagement of Panzer Leader between myself and @brucelea continues!

So here is where I really start to pay for my overly-aggressive move into the the northern hex of that Tunisian town.

The idea was sound, get heavy armor up into that town and use its defense bonuses to forestall British armor coming down from the northeast against my tentative bridgehead over the wadi.

What wasn’t so sound was how it was executed – putting tanks into urban terrain without infantry support.

There’s a rulebook somewhere, where all t he ghosts of all the great tank generals in all the wars write on page one … never do this!  Never send tanks into cities without infantry support!

Well, this is what happens.

Direct fire from the fifteen Crusader IIIs, at point-blank range, blasts away into the town hex and with a solid roll (and point blank range, and 3-1 advantage in numbers, and upgunned to 6-pounders), actually knocks out that platoon of Tigers.

How can those Crusaders see me?  They have friendly infantry swarming over me (adjacent hex to the south) probably marking the Tigers with colored smoke and flares.   Here they are, boys!  Come and get ‘im!  Shoot straight for once, you tanker pukes!

With the Tigers burning, the close assault then comes in at the end of infantry movement phase.  More bad news, the British infantry is now being supported by a platoon of engineers moving in from the southeast.

This is very, very bad news for my two platoons (ten tanks) of PzKpfw IV/F2s.  And they are put in a very tough position where they are faced with two really shit choices.

Those engineers only have one attack point, but because they are engineers, lend that combined four-unit close assault some very big bonuses.  So, do my Mark IVs counterfire against those engineers in an attempt to save themselves?

Or to they accept the inevitable and go out in a blaze of glory … blasting away at those Crusaders who have now revealed themselves by shooting up those Tigers?

After being too aggressive in moving in here, the German tanks now get too timid, and try to save themselves.

They pun down the engineers, but the three platoons of rifles close assault anyway.  Admittedly it is a weaker assault, but @brucelea rolls well enough where it disperses those two platoons of Mark IVs.

Now the Mark IVs will never get a shot off against those Crusaders.  🙁

THEN both Mark IV platoons will fail their rally checks next turn, allowing the British infantry and Crusaders (who now have them in a north-west crossfire, and they are still dispersed) to pick them off more or less at their leisure.

Definitely a bad day for the Panzerwaffe.

Tunisia - Brucelea vs. Oriskany (Part III)

The end of Turn 7, where I zoom out a little so show some seriously dramatic developments in this ongoing battle.

So in the south is the good news for the Germans.  Even though my engineer platoon was dispersed and finally killed, meaning I can’t blow up the bridge in an elegant, professional, “proper” way … I can mass 400 German infantry and simply assault the bridge and try to literally tear it apart with satchel charges and stick grenades and integral 5.0 cm mortars.

It took two turns, and two assaults, and only succeeded because of some good dice on my end (finally) and plenty of smoke screen cover dropped in by the 8.0 cm mortars.

So my 400 men, with plenty of flak, 7.5 cm infantry gun, antitank gun, and mortar support, literally assaulted the bridge twice and finally succeeded in basically burning it down.

One engineer platoon with the proper training and equipment would have been better.  But either way, we finally got the job done.

Up north, things are not going so well for me.  As previously described, the British armoured dragoons have now blown up another platoon of PzKpfw IVs, the last one miraculously rallied and escaped into the woods to the north.  How?  where did those Crusaders go?  They withdrew to the north to cover that platoon of Valentine bridgelayer tanks, which is trundling toward the wadi to lay a second bridge across the wadi to the north.

Remember the victory conditions – the Germans get 20 points for each British bridge destroyed, the British get 20 points for each bridge still across the wadi at the end of Turn 10.  So, if @brucelea can get that second bridge across, the game is tied for bridges and it will come down to  destroyed units (British get 3 points for each German unit destroyed, Germans get 2 points for each British unit destroyed).

But as we see in those northern woods, there has already been a bit of a tank firefight as that last platoon of PzKpfw IV/F2s has tried to get around those Crusaders and put a hole through those Valentine bridge layers.

Tunisia - Brucelea vs. Oriskany (Part III)

A close up of that bloodbath in the wadi, where my German schützen infantry finally managed to burn down that bridge.   The bad news is that my panzerkompanie of PzKpfw IIIJs is now trapped on the British side of the wadi, and several platoons are already “dispersed” by Sherman fire pouring in from off screen to the right.

Note where the bridge used to be is a counter showing a burning British tank.  This may not make sense.  Basically, these burning tank counters are not just for bragging rights or decoration, they also effect the properties of that hex (stacking, movement, etc).  Too many wreck counters can actually “clog up” a hex to a certain degree.  So when a bridge is destroyed, a wreck counter is placed there to show the effect of that collapsed metal.

Meanwhile, that stubborn British company of rifles (with bridging engineer support) is still causing trouble in the norther part of the wadi.

Tunisia - Brucelea vs. Oriskany (Part III)

The Valentine bridge layer has reached the norther stretch of the wadi!  A new bridge is being thrown across the terrain obstacle!  After a brief window of German victory, it looks like this “Battle of the Bridges” is being tied up again!

Tunisia - Brucelea vs. Oriskany (Part III)

Tunisia - Brucelea vs. Oriskany (Part II)

Tutoring 6
Skill 5
Idea 7
2 Comments

Here are a little more battle report materials for  the recent game between myself and @brucelea (Panzer Leader, British v. Germans, Southern Tunisia, March 1943).

There’ll be a little more to come, I can’t put the whole battle report in full detail on here (a full battle report in Panzer Leader grows into novella length in very quick order).  And of course I still have Darkstar rules to write tonight, and I eventually want to take care of @damon’s battle of Arab-Israeli Wars as well.

So here’s a little bit of a zoom-in on the situation at the end of Turn 2.  In the center, you see my German engineers have reached the bridge, only to be suppressed by 40mm AA HE pouring down from that Bofors AA mount  Andrew has hidden in that town.  The good news for him is that my engineers are “dispersed” (note they are displayed at a cocked angle), but that Bofors battery is now spotted, and the Tigers lurk just to the south …

Meanwhile, I have a battery of 7.5 cm infantry guns, MG-34s on tripod company support role, 5.0 cm antitank guns, and 8.0 cm mortars all pouring fire on that reinforced British company on the slope of that hill overlooking the south shoulder of the wadi.  Furthermore, I have a kompanie of schützen infantry up the hill after them, launching repeated close assaults.

Meanwhile, my Tigers and Mark IVs pave made quick work of that annoying battery of 6-pounders to the southeast …  Mark IIIs are now across the bridge as well, setting up a perimeter to allow the engineers (if they ever rally) to set their charges per Panzer Leader engineer demolition rules, and blow that bridge sky-high.

Tunisia - Brucelea vs. Oriskany (Part II)

End of Turn 3.  That 40mm Bofors AA battery, having given away their firing position, is long gone.  Andrew certainly saw this coming, he joked that the crews of those guns fired the weapons, pinned down those engineers, and then ran like hell back into the town to the nearest pub.  Good thing, too, because HE fire from those Tigers and Mark IVs reduced the Bofors AA mounts to twisted scrap.

But my engineers start a spectacular series of failed morale checks.  That gamble and sacrifice on the 40mm AA really pays off for the British, as the German engineers don’t rally for several  turns, buying the British several more turns before I can start laying charges on the bridge again.

Meanwhile, look to the northeast … the first squadron of Shermans has arrived from that dragoons battalion.  In all, some 45 Allied tanks are arriving on the field.  Desperately outgunned, the British infantry may be saved at last!

Meanwhile, to continue putting pressure on my pionier engineers on the bridge, Andrew’s other infantry company is coming down from the north, advancing into a smoke screen laid down by his 76mm mortar section, to start launching close assaults on my engineers.  It’s a long shot, but it might work, as this small infantry company has bridging engineers stacked with it, and any engineer unit in a close assault lends tremendous help in a close assault because of specialized equipment (satchel charges, explosives, bangalore torpedoes, perhaps even flamethrowers for combat engineers).

All the while, I continue to chew down that powerful British infantry company to the south.   Those 7.5 cm infantry guns, MG-34s in HMG configuration, and  5.0 cm antitank guns are now joined by a 2.0 cm FlaK gun on a halftrack, all blasting away at the stack as hard as they can.  As British platoons are pinned down, by follow-up assault wipes them out.  Rinse, repeat.  That stack of British counters keeps getting smaller.

Tunisia - Brucelea vs. Oriskany (Part II)

Okay, here’s where I make a really critical mistake, and to be honest, Panzer Leader is not a forgiving game.  Anxious to keep his tanks away from that bridge (at least until I blow it up), I shove forward with my Tiger platoon and two platoons of PzKpfw IV/F2s, the fifteen German tanks pushing into that northern town hex.  Yes, that gives me advanced cover, some concealment, and a defense bonus against advancing British Shermans and Crusaders.

It also gives me a vantage where I can blow that first platoon of Shermans inside-out at very close range (for a Tiger), note the burning British tanks to the southeast (three hexes = 450 yards, three FoW tables, spitting distance for a pack of five big cats).

But the rest of this Tunisian town is swarming with hundreds of British infantry.  And fifteen Crusader IIIs with the new six-pound guns are rolling up on me from the north … and at just 300 meters, those 6-pounders hit pretty hard, especially against my relatively thin-skinned PzKpfw IV/F2 (these don’t even have hull schürtzen, remember).

Tunisia - Brucelea vs. Oriskany (Part II)

Disaster, for both sides on the west bank of the wadi!

For the British, the last infantry are finally wiped out on that southern hill, leaving the Royal Engineers platoon (admittedly a powerful unit) now alone and pinned down under withering German fire from no less than eight units (six infantry howitzers, a dozen heavy machine guns, 200 infantry, five halftracks with 2.0 autocannon, and six 5.0 cm antitank guns lobbing HE shells into their perimeter.

However, more British fire and counterassaults  have finally killed by hapless engineers.  They never really rallied long enough to even start laying explosive charges.  The German pionier effort to blow that bridge has ended in complete failure.

Tunisia - Brucelea vs. Oriskany (Part II)

First Games Run!

Tutoring 5
Skill 5
Idea 6
12 Comments

So here is a wide-angle screen shot of the first game.

System: Panzer Leader (with Arab-Israeli Wars imports to rules engine)

German player: Oriskany

British player: Brucelea

Setting: Theoretical  Engagement – Southern Tunisia – early March 1943

As Axis positions in the Mareth Line are finally outflanked and dislodged, German and Italian remnants of Panzerarmee Afrika fall back before a renewed advance of the British Eighth Army, pushing up out of Libya.  The overall objective is a link-up with American, British, and French forces pushing in Algeria, currently engaged in the mountains of Tunisia’s “Eastern Dorsal.” Once established, this combined front can then turn north toward Bizerte, Tunis, and the final eradication of the Axis in North Africa.

Here we see where a British infantry battalion has reached a key crossing over a Tunisian wadi, flooded with spring water melting off nearby mountains.  They have taken the crossing, and a company of bridging engineers has erected a temporary bridge over the wadi.   This bridge is critical, as it is the only place any vehicle can cross the wadi so long as it is flooded.

Aerial reconnaissance, however, has spotted an approaching German counterattack.  Clearly the Germans have recognized the importance of this crossing, as they have scraped together a small but powerfully-equipped kampfgruppe to eliminate the threat.

Having called for help, the British infantry and engineers now grimly brace to meet the onslaught.  They are hopelessly outgunned, but take solace in the knowledge that a full battalion of friendly armor is en route from the east.  This mixed force of Shermans and Crusader IIIs also includes a section of Valentine III bridgelayer tanks.  No matter what, a bridge must remain standing over this wadi to facilitate larger bridge, division, or even corps operations deeper into western Tunisia.

The Germans, for their part, are equally determined to ensure that bridge is knocked down, as well as any new bridges the British might erect.  A British bridgehead here not only threatens the flank of what remains of the Deutsche Afrika Korps, but might also open a road toward Patton’s II Corps pushing east near El Guettar.

Victory Conditions:

• Germans get 2 point for each British unit destroyed.
• British get 3 points for each German unit destroyed.
(Trucks never count as victory points)
• British get 20 points for each bridge standing at the end.
• Germans get 20 points for each bridge they destroy.

Game lasts 10 Turns.

Set Up:

Bridge counter is placed at Hex 2413.  British Force A (infantry battalion + bridging engineers) can set up anywhere east of the wadi, or west of the wadi within two hexes.   British force B (tanks + Valentine armored engineers) enters from the east end of the board on Turn 3.

Germans enter along the western end of the board on Turn 1.

For best results, click on the image below, then open image in a new tab and zoom in.

First Games Run!

The British have deployed their initial force – their infantry battalion and understrength company of bridging engineers.  Brucelea has opted to stage reinforced infantry companies on the high ground bracing both shoulders of the road leading to the objective bridge.  Counters indicate infantry platoons, MG sections, and engineer platoons.  In all  there is about 400 British troops shown on this shot (each hex is 150 meters across – about one FoW table or 2-3 Bolt Action tables).

The Germans, for their part, wasting no time. Leading with a platoon of five Tigers, then two platoons of PzKpfw IV F/2s, then three platoons of PzKpfw IIIJs, they are rushing straight up the road.  My objective is to cross the bridge in force as fast as I can, use tanks and support artillery to establish a perimeter around the bridge, lay smoke to block Bruce’s LOS on the bridge (delivered by my 8.0 cm mortars), and then deploy my panzer pionier engineers in halftracks to get on the bridge and start setting explosive charges.

Meanwhile, the Panzers will be able to meet the Shermans and Crusaders when they arrive on the board on Turn 3, probably reaching this immediate battle zone on Turn 4.  If I get lucky I’ll also put some holes in those Valentine bridgelayers, thus winning in a clean sweep.

By the way – I have resisted the urge to call this “The Battle of Biffin’s Bridge.” 😀 😀 😀

First Games Run!

They’re not on the map yet, but here is the column of 45 tanks (30 M4 Shermans and 15 Crusader IIIs with the new 6-lb guns), plus a section of Valentine bridge layers, and the armored engineers in halftracks.  In all, 50 tanks here, five halftracks, 240 men.  The column is 750 meters long

First Games Run!

First fire!  The British infantry open up with long-range rifle fire, Bren guns from their MG sections, and 76mm mortar fire on the Germans, pinning down several platoons and even killing one platoon while they are still vulnerable in their trucks.  But my tanks are across the bridge, only for my PzKpfw IV/F2s to take fire from the batter of 6-pounder antitank guns that Bruce has hull down behind that ridge to the southeast.

A lot more on this to come.

First Games Run!

Not to be outdone, we also has @damon engaging in another wargame on Sunday, playing a modified variant of Arab-Israeli Wars scenario B-1, Bir Gifgafa (November 2, 1956).

System: Arab-Israeli Wars

Egyptian player: Oriskany

Israeli player: Damon

Setting: Historical Engagement – Sinai Desert – November 2, 1956

This is the very first scenario in the Arab-Israeli Wars book, to which I’ve made a series of changes in the interest of play balance, especially when using intermediate and advanced rules like Israeli split-move-and-fire.

To make a long story short, this is a historical scenario (i.e., this battle actually  happened) during the closing days of the 1956 Sinai War.  Egyptian President Nasser had been turning a blind eye to PLA rocket and terror attacks against Israeli settlements along the Negev Desert and up toward the Gaza Strip.  Israel had been keen to invade and clear out these nests, but to invade Egypt might bring down the weight of international opinion, which Israel desperately needed to survive these early years.

Nasser finally went too far and nationalized the Suez Canal, royally pissing off the British and frightening the French (still with strong interests in Syria, Lebanon, Algeria).  So Operation Musketeer was envisioned, with British Royal Marines and French paratroopers dropping into the Suez Canal zone to take it back from the Egyptians.

The problem was the sheer size of the Egyptian Army.  To tie down the bulk of the Egyptian Army in the Sinai Desert, the British and French reached out to the Israelis, and offered them assistance and “international support” in the UN to condone an invasion (Israeli Operation Kadesh).

That’s the very simplified version.  Long story short, Israel invaded Egypt in the Sinai, while British and French forces eventually arrived at the Suez Canal behind most of these Egyptian forces.

The Sinai Desert is very rocky in places, traversible only through certain passes.  The Israelis have already won most of the border battles and are now pushing in a 100-hour blitzkrieg through the passes in the inner Sinai.  Bir Gifgafa is actually a road center that sits at the mouth of one of these passes, through which Ben Uri’s 7th Armored Brigade is emerging on their way to the Suez Canal.  The Egyptians have 1st Armored Brigade, or at least its rear guard, ready trying to delay the Israelis and facilitate a cohesive Egyptian withdrawal to the canal.

This is a very flat table, truly “open desert” with only very short sand dunes, a scattering of vegetation, and a tiny roadside town.  Hexes are 250 meters.  Israeli forces include “M1” Shermans, upgraded M50 Shermans, and French AMX-13s.  Egyptian forces are mostly T-34/85 hand-me-downs and SU-100 assault guns.

Israelis get points for Egyptian units destroyed and for getting their own units off the west end of the map.

Egyptians get points for Israeli units destroyed and for any Israeli unit stranded on the map, even if they are not knocked out.

The game lasts eight turns – the Israelis are really under a time pressure here.  Orders have come down from division … GET TO THE CANAL!

First Games Run!

A zoom in of one of the later turns, where the Egyptians have run out of space, and the Israelis have run out of time.

One thing @damon and I added to this game was some quick rules on platoon facing, so we can get flank shots, etc.  Combat formation and road / march / column formation are how incorporated, indicated by how the counter is placed on the map within the hex.

Using reverse slope tactics, I was able to force @damon into actually trying an overrun against my SU-100s and T-34s in hull-down positions, but even as t hose AMX-13s take grievous losses, those Shermans and M50s are ready to counter-overrun and really do some damage, or escape off the west end of the  map per their scenario objectives (or both).

I’ll say this much, for being pretty much the first time playing these games, both Brucelea and Damon did great, considering I’ve been playing these games for going on 25 years.

Best of all, the new web conference engine worked damned near flawlessly.  In all, this weekend we hand a three-man, 10 hour mini virtual boot camp.

I’ll be adding more pics and battle report details in the coming days, but for now suffice it to say we have opened a gigantic new potential for wargaming in the BoW/OTT community, especially for crunchy, heavy tactical wargames like this.

We’ll definitely be running some more in the not-too-distant future!  😀

First Games Run!

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